Monday, December 05, 2016



The woman in the red coat adorned with bright LED fairy lights, looked at the bakery goods displayed in the glass covered counter in  front of her, every -so- often checking her mobile phone.   Like her, I waited too.  We continued to wait…and wait.  LED lady  looked up at me and we exchanged smiles.  Two other women, dressed up for the local fun day, were serving at the far end of the counter, which provided for the Baker shop café customers.

 At our end of the counter- sales – a young girl dressed up as Alice In Wonderland,(AIW) had her back to us; she studiously ignored everyone. The high visibility lady covered with sparkly LED lights glanced at her phone once more and then left the shop.  Alice in Wonderland looked round, glanced at me, then turned back to whatever it was she was doing, writing, I think.


I conjected that if I waited a few more moments I just might be served. I knew what I wanted to buy, it was pre-wrapped, so, it was just a question of selling it to me.  I thought my patience was being rewarded when a clown-ess, (one of the duo of staff attending to the café) bouncily arrived opposite me……. My mistake, she was involved in playing a game of choices for someone in the café, who, incidentally, arrived in the shop the same time as me.

Excuse me, can the assistant over there serve me? I pointedly asked.  Clown-ess raised herself on tip-toes to peer over AIW’s shoulder.

Clown-ess -said, She’s busy doing shop admin”. With that she rushed away and with a smile called out Someone will be with you soon”.  

Me – Looking directly at Clown-ess at the far end………I’m going; that’s two customers you have just lost”.  And I went.


This is not the first time me and other customers have walked from this shop.  There are two other similar business in the same vicinity that have gained from the chaotic customer service. Goodwill is fading fast.

Sunday, November 27, 2016


Black Friday, (an American import) Cyber Monday, Special Loyalty Event, you name it, someone has thought of a myriad of catch-all retail hooks to bolster up consumer spending.

Online, where a high percentage of shopping is done in the UK, according to retailers with an online presence, there is more than a flurry of business; it sounds like there is enough shopping on one day, on Black Friday, to stabilise the retail accounts  for the year!  This is according to those in the know, like accountants and economists.

Basking Shark-Cetorhinus Maximus

I have yet to be convinced that there are mountains of real bargains sitting waiting for an impatient internet shopping population, who have  waited for the one day in the year when we are told 'it' is all there for the taking. I did my own little pot survey, (not at all scientific) by choosing a couple of things some months ago that I was interested in buying.  No doubt, there are stock clearances, no different from any sale at any other time of year.

Scanning around the comparison sites on the internet for the two things I was following was very dull. The big boys definitely did not play ball. I was offered a similar product once, nominally cheaper and definitely not of interest. The best I could say was, for the exact products some prices, not all, stayed static. With the current political insecurities, this may well change. I would expect all prices to rise.

Sunday, November 20, 2016


My surface mail to Canada and America went off in time for the last surface mail posting date in mid October 2016.

The packages would take minimum four weeks and a maximum of five weeks to arrive, said the post office clerk.  

The stated timing was perfect; early slow mailing is economic and in any case, there was plenty of time for slow delivery.  The packages could have taken six weeks to arrive and still been in time.  

Five days after posting, I received my first thank you email for my gift.   It was soon followed up by a second one................ Ships, coach and horses, obviously sprout wings.

Monday, November 07, 2016


I am so stressed out.  If hair fizzed, my head of hair would be standing on end and glowing! Much as I respect the arts and crafts of tradespeople, it is impossible to plan and work with their easy going ideas about keeping appointments.

The time line begins two weeks ago, when I realised a major item I ordered earlier in the year, which was installed in May, was not the equipment I asked for.  The replacement arrived according to plan. So far so good.

The Monday of installation, the guys arrived late morning to pick up an un-installed object.  BUT, there was nothing for them to take away. The installer/s had not arrived at, as arranged to demount the old equipment for them to remove. Many phone calls later, finally getting through to real people by devious means, (thereby avoiding voice-mail) I eventually got a manager to take ownership of this cock-up.

Thursday the same week, the manager arrives here, because by then, a leaking tap that is under guarantee also needs replacing in the kitchen. He wanted to check it was a genuine guarantee issue.  Seeing it was, he handed over the replacement tap to be fitted by a plumber appointed to arrive  between 12-2pm today. At 11.50am, guess what..........the plumber can't come, earliest  on offer now was sometime later in the week.  So, we are now at non-committal arrangements.  Mental picture of me stamping my foot while trying to maintain my composure during phone conversation. 

New appointment offer, 8am tomorrow, Tuesday 8th.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sat Nav Tyranny

Hmm, I have just remembered why I hate updating my sat nav.  Not only do I have to keep the app open, come what may,  it also takes a hell of a time to download and update. 

This time the download started off  with 27 minutes to go. I looked in on progress regularly.  Then...... ***!!!
The screensaver and sleep mode had kicked in.

  • So - the machine is now set never to go into standby in  any shape or form.
  • "Do not disconnect your device" I am commanded. 
  • At least it did not close down and corrupt the satnav, thank goodness.
  • There are now 37 minutes to go.  Thirty-seven!
  • Where did the extra ten minutes come from and why? Grrrrr...
I'm creeping off, trusting the whole thing does what it should do without continuing intensive care from me.

Thursday, October 06, 2016


It seems to me there are lots of Fringe bits to the Edinburgh Festival, but to keep things relatively tidy, (programmes, books, leaflets always being the exceptions) I see the Fringes divided up into the;
  1. International classical theatre, concerts and The International Book Festival;
  2. Professional Fringe; (worth a look)
  3. Mainstream Fringe (semi professional, can be interesting);
  4. Have-a-go Fringe (a huge range of options, often thought-provoking and clever);
  5. Stand-up Comedy, and
  6. Multinational talents Fringe, (A wide variety, some very beautiful).
Selecting from numbers 2-6  is not straightforward. This, for me, is a great big part of the fun of being at the Edinburgh festival...getting there and invariably taking pot luck. Number 5, is quite likely to be risqué! (I have no respect for 'comics' who operate with gratuitous vulgarity).

The Royal Mile pop up shows stand out on their own; The Royal Mile is always worth visiting.

This year I found myself second in a queue for a show; the Editor of The Children's Guinness Book Of Records, Craig Glenday was first. We had a lovely chat and sat in the same church pew to watch a really good show called The Gin Chronicles.  It's a spoof 1947 radio broadcast. If the show appears anywhere else, go see it.

And here is the Guinness Book of Records man doing his own ''show' at The Book Festival. There were only a few tickets left when I got mine on the day. Craig gave the young audience, (and their adults) guidelines about what records would not get into the books,  such as anything that would upset the people who help animals. It was a gentle humorous  production. We saw a couple of record holders, a bagpiper, and  a cyclist without a bike seat. The seat-less cyclist also tried to break a record at the show.   Children were invited  to play the bagpipes, or, monitor something with stopwatches, or, click devices, or, race to make up a potato head. (There is one on the low table).


The Festival seemed a bit slow to get into a bustling rhythm this year, partly because some of the elements of it were staggered not to clash too much with the Olympic Games. The new digital hub in the Centre of town had no  queues of festival-goers lining up for digital events in the Assembly Rooms, where, in previous years  you would have seen flows of people waiting for shows. It was all very quiet. The pop-up outdoor cafes and bars nearby were not over-subscribed with patrons. Up the hill in the Old Town where a lot of extra events seemed to be sited, it was busy.

What you see here is a newly refurbished banking hall at St Andrews Square, Edinburgh. It is gorgeous. The staff are happy for visitors to wander in and learn about the building's history. In the front garden - a Festival venue - you could sit and eat, or under gazebos, sit and play with outsize light -weight dominoes, or, under another, lounge on large cushions and play  with large cards.

So, in Princes Street, (the main shopping street of the city) I was darting through crowded spaces when I heard the attractive sounds of music.  I back tracked and gave the guy a donation. "Stop!" he called as I was about to dash off again. He raked around in a big bag and handed me a card... except it wasn't. He'd given me a gift of his CD "Because you are so nice", he said.
This is busker Marcello Vacante playing a track from  his CD 'Train For London' .  (His name is on the CD cover)

Does anyone know anything about this type of teapot, (if it is a teapot) seen in a charity shop window?

Oooops - In a back street I  found that The Driving License Authority had been busy (DVLC stamped on the clamp).


Let me introduce you to Audrey.

P1000380-Audrey-b-Wb P1000381-Show-Over-Audrey-Wb

The last remaining vintage mobile cinema from around 1967.  Black and white Pathé News films, (remember those) were shown, a couple were of the 1947 beginnings of the Edinburgh Festival. My friend told me afterwards that she remembered going to the first festival with her mother!!!  You could have knocked me over with a feather.

This was called "The Rook". This must relate to Harry Potter and the fearful chess board game that had to be played in one of the stories.  The author JK Rowling is, after all,  a graduate of the university and more recently was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by Edinburgh University.  'Wee horse" does look like a junior  and not too distant relative of the Kelpies that are based in Falkirk, Scotland. However, the Kelpies don't have reins or a feather topknot.


Scenes of Festival relaxation in Princes Street Gardens and Granny's Drying Green below Edinburgh Castle:

P1000391-Princes-Street-Gardens-Wb P1000393-Ed-Castle-+Granny's-Washing-Green-Wb

A musical venue, where guitars  also became percussion instruments for both classical and fusion genres.


Last, but definitely not least:


A view of Edinburgh Castle with an interesting wee look-out tower and a clear view of a lump of Dolerite, a coarse-grained Basalt rock.  The Castle rock is estimated to have formed about 350 million years ago and is the remains of a volcanic pipe.

MacIvor, Iain (1993). Edinburgh Castle. p. 16. ISBN 9780713472950.
McAdam, David (2003). Edinburgh and West Lothian: A Landscape Fashioned by Geology. p. 16. ISBN 9781853973277.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016


The weather forecast was almost, but, not quite as dire as some we have heard before a journey. Nevertheless, if we were going to make the journey we had to travel in daylight.  The forecaster warned that with the temperatures being low, driving conditions could be icy and in addition, there was snow expected on high ground, which would move onto lower ground later on in the day.  It was mid February, daylight hours had increased by four minutes a day since the Winter Solstice, so, that meant we now had a decent chunk of additional daylight time in our favour.
P1000006 A9-North-2-Wb
You Can See The Icy Road Ahead.
Being a Tuesday, we expected to encounter a fair amount of commercial traffic.  Most of the commercial vehicles and some streams of cars were all heading in the opposite direction.  In front here, there was a truck and a tanker.

The road, Scotland's notorious A9 two lane road, is currently governed by average speed cameras. Vehicles of 7.5 tons or more, are restricted to 50 miles per hour.  Overtaking opportunities were limited, unless you thrived on serious risk-taking.  There being no other road north, it meant that domestic and smaller vehicles were forced into slower speeds for much of the time.  You see road signs that tell you 'frustration kills'.

Here we are into the steady upward climb of  'higher ground' as can be seen by the snow-capped hill on the left and the broken white slopes appearing on the right.  Just in case you are wondering, we are on one  of  the sections of dual carriageway on this road.   There are not many.


Still, onward and upwards.....
Climbing Higher
Climbing Higher still

Mucky Windscreen.
Then clarity.......The snowy  marshmallow pillows were lovely
This is my way of climbing peaks, using four wheels.

Mucky Windscreen
The dual carriageway at this point is on two levels.  In the right corner, you can just see a bit of the upper level.
 We caught a heavy bout of 'lower ground weather' as forecast, just after a quick, a very quick lunch stop; me darting in to a road side cafe to buy two coffees to take away.   Here we are driving into 'the weather'. The light and the sky were very threatening  What a difference an hour or two makes to a day.  All that lovely bright light, the gorgeous skies with fluffy clouds, had totally disappeared

A few minutes more and we met the weather totally as forecast, we were well and truly in it, a mix of snow and sleet and  very subdued daylight.

The rest of the journey, the last hundred miles or so, was punctuated by more  heavy wind-driven snow and sleet. But, it was still daylight when we reached journey's end.  We'd done it!