TALKING WITH STRANGERS IN THE CITY

Talking with strangers in the city is always interesting.  A man I sat next to on a bus told me he had accompanied his very elderly neighbour, when she had been admitted to hospital the day before.  She’s 93 years old, compos mentis, he said  She hadn’t seen the inside of a hospital since she resigned as a senior nurse in the 1940’s. (Probably  had to leave her post upon marriage).  The modern, 2017, hospital environment was, no doubt, a bit of a shock to the lady.

Pointing out a young girl working in the ward wearing a light blue dress the elderly lady observed, with some disdain, that  the hospital management had left the housemaid to look after the ward!  The man explained the ‘housemaid’ was wearing a staff nurse’s uniform.

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Late 1950’s Staff Nurse

Why is she not wearing her [starched] hat?” … And   “Why aren’t doctors wearing their white coats,” and so on.

More explanations were required.

On the other hand, the senior nurse, (equivalent of a ward sister) who arrived at the bedside in her dark blue dress and her I.D. badge pinned to it, no frilly starched hat though, was received without query.

Marian Chaikin 3rd wife

1960’s Nursing Sister

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WRESTLING …NO POINT

How are you finding the book?”  I was sitting quietly on my own in the bar eatery, reading.  I was interrupted, gladly, with that question. I briefly studied my questioner, a lady with two boisterous children in tow.  I tried not to screw up my face, I don’t think I was very successful…….”I’m having problems with it

her – “So did I….it was a bit Hickory, it went on a bit“. ……..

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Zzzzzz

Me -“I think I understand what you mean; It’s hard work, I am skimming more than reading“,  adding that the book had been a gift about three years ago and I had just got round to reading it, (well, trying to).

We enlightened each other about what other books we had read by the same author, none so tedious as this one.  “BUT!” she said with a great flourish and a big smile, “I did read to the end …I finished it!”

Today, after another couple of attempts, I firmly decided I was not going to continue to wrestle with the book….there was  no point.

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I might come out to play now.

BETTING ON BARGAIN SHOPPING.

Black Friday has at least taken the media focus off some of the dafter stuff going on in our little island. Apparently, zillions of us will have ‘bet’ on buying online bargains within a twenty-four hours period. The knock-on short -term employment generated by this activity must have its good and down side. The existing delivery services cannot cope with the demand, so are increased and complemented by all sorts of distribution methods. The zero hours contractors,  come to mind as do  as do self-employed drivers  many of whom, work to tight margins.

2Many retailers in the U.K, both online and in the high streets, like Black Friday, (an American Import) as it generates the consumer to shop. It is said that the U.K is big with online shopping, more so that many other countries worldwide. Logistically, retailers large and small have to be creative.  One way to be creative has been to extend bargain hunting with special offers for a about a week before Black Friday and a week after.

 

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Yours truly has ordered a book, not especially because of Black Friday, but, it’s just that I remembered about it; so while the grey cells were working, I decided to go for it. The book will be delivered by Royal Mail, (what’s left of it).  I think I do quite well, as a rule, shopping in sales at other times.  Most of the inspiration for gifts I buy is found that way.  This year though, inspiration has been in short supply, a bell-weather, I think, of a tougher  retailing  market.

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The mass purchasing activity of online shoppers in a small window of time will give an equally huge short-term boost to turnover and sales.  However, when this feverish activity is over and the  annual accounts are calculated as a whole, economists say,  it does not necessarily enhance the balance sheet; the annual accounts, they advise, will even out.  On the other hand, if that is the case, without any shopping boost, the annual business balance sheets may look a lot less viable.

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The Difference Time Makes

It is just a fraction over seven years since I last came here. With an Ordnance Survey map it is easy enough to find.  There is a small parking area, space enough for the trickle of people who arrive to explore. This is a ‘pre-history’ site, which,  you reach by an easy sloped climb; you can choose between two or three different approaches, although one approach would certainly depend on whether there’s  a bull in one of the fields and/or cows with young calves.  Dads can jealously guard their ladies and in any case, bovine mums and dads can be very protective of their broods. So,definitely, no waving red rags to a bull.

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Prehistory site Information 2009

The pictures I took back in 2009 were with an early bridge camera that had an unsophisticated limited zoom lens.  Even so, it is so interesting to compare the yesterday, (2009) and today, (2016) photos and see the very marked  modern man-made changes in that period sat on top of, and next to, the signs of time immemorial.

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Prehistory site Information 2016

There are five cairns at this site, none uncovered.  The outlines of three are straightforward enough to see. The roof of the highest cairn (height as in top of the hill) appears to have caved in, creating a rim on which, weather permitting, you can rest.  On a clear day you can also gaze upon the panorama of two counties and their mountains, plus an island twenty-one miles across the water, as you will see.

This a serene view from the top of the hill in 2009 and the picture below it, (allowing for differences of time, position, general weather conditions and the light) is a similar scene ….. and

p1010073-baillie-farm-house-wb p1000444-section-baillie-wind-farm-wb….this is how it has changed…and changed…

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…..A panorama – the same house and woods totally surrounded by windmills.

This photo also shows the sweep down from the ‘high cairn’ to a lower sited cairn, (the rounded mound on which there’s another modern day intrepid explorer).

This was a ‘tentative’ coastline wind farm development, in 2009.  There are more wind turbines now. The two wind farms are not far from one another.

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I did not want to focus on the wind farm, (the one above) in the picture below. I wanted to show the view of Orkney  across the water. It is  some distance away, you may need to peer in, but, it is there to be seen, to the right.

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The yellow flowering bushes in these pictures are Gorse bushes.

 

Morven and Scaraben are the mountains in the county of Caithness. This looks like Morven peaking up and over the horizon in 2009.

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This is The County of Sutherland, also in 2009, pre-turbine days, from the same vantage point.  If I am not much mistaken, you can see a couple of the Bens (mountains), amongst the clouds, Ben Loyal and Ben Hope.

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At the cairn, I was at the same level as the top of these wind turbines, (excluding the upper windmill arms). It was quite a thought.  The miniature buildings, (left) give some sense of scale.

You can see the concave cairn I have been talking about and a typical horn sloping along from what would have been the dome. This is the one from where you get all the great views. You can see a difference in the relatively richer looking grass on and around the cairn, in comparison to the rough moorland tufts on the ascent to it. The new heather blossom is bonny just now.

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Taken from  the cairn, and some distance away,  the land meets the sea. Stubble is being burnt off  the field . There are hay bales in one of the other fields. Across the Firth (sea) is the coastline of the county of  Sutherland and signs of village habitation.

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Moments At The Edinburgh Festival Fringes

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).

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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.

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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.

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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?

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

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Let me introduce you to Audrey.

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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”. The Game Of Thrones seemed to be a theme, does it refer to it?

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It looks like a close relative of the Kelpies 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:

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

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Last, but definitely not least:

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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.

References:
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.

 

HOW DOES THE GARDEN GROW…NOT WITH SILVER BELLS OR COCKLESHELLS.

It’s been a mixed week.  Flora and fauna have figured large.

As you will know from my last post, I was presented with a really bonny bouquet.

Literally, I have watched the garden plants  increase in size and strength within a few hours. One moment  they look immature and when I returned some hours later, well…..I rubbed my eyes, even I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.  When the weather gets warmer,  the plants obviously quickly rise to the occasion.  What were just leafy Calendulas, now have budding flowers at last

The wild Orchids in our garden are very pretty. They increase in number every year. Hubby does a slalom around all of  them with the lawnmower. Once they have finished flowering, he’ll mow the grass with carefree abandon again.

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The Spiraea I successfully rooted also shot up a few centimetres and became quite bushy with tiny leaves.  I was intending to nurture it for another year, but it seemed a shame to restrict it in a pot.  So, it was planted, a fledgling bush amongst thrusting grass.  This is from where it originated.

The parent Spiraea bush

The parent Spiraea bush

It’s a pity one of the young  Weigelas, which was bursting with flowers, was accidentally caught by a strimmer, (not by me). Most of the flowers on the bush dropped off, the rest have since followed suit.  The broken branch, which I attempted to save, is not at all happy.  I’ll leave it in a pot a little longer to see if it might perk up.

Japanese Honeysuckle has delightful gentle mid- green leaves with cream lace veins .  After twenty-nine healthy years mine suffered an attack of what looked like mildew. It is no more.

A few snips with the ‘clippers’ and the flowerless stalks of the Primula Candelabra  have  been removed. They have not failed to put on ever-increasing candelabra displays.   I have a new kid on the block, new last year.  It was quite timid then, with just two flower heads. These Primulas are really cute and it has thrown up  five floral heads, so far, this year. You can just make out the head of the the fifth one, it makes its contrasting skirted frilly rim as the pointed hat develops.

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You can see the vigorous Allium here just beginning to open their yellow flower buds.  Just behind them is a plant that appears to be a thistle.  I can vouch for the fact it is not a weed, I did plant it in 2015.  It’s not like any of the leathery prickly thistles, those leaves though they look spikey, are very soft .  It has yet to present its first flower.  An ornamental thistle style flower should appear in due course.  They are often found in floral displays.  When it is safe to, when I am not likely to tread on anything flowery, or, knock any plant heads off, I will have to check the name of it.  (Hopefully, the label will still be readable).

Summer gales nearly always arrive when  my Peony bush comes into bloom and  they quickly batter the blooms out of existence. There has been quite a strong wind building up today.  This season’s first blooms are really lovely, so I took a few pictures to record them.  There are others on the bush, in slightly varying shades of pink, similarly gorgeous.

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Finally, here is ‘the spotty flappy leafy thing’ mentioned a couple of posts back. It is commonly known as a pineapple plant; its official name is Eucomis and is a native to South Africa. I don’t know which particular Eucomis I have, there are a number of them.  For you buffs out there,  it is of the Asparagaceae genus. The ‘fruiting’ centre, (if that’s what it is) looks very interesting. There’s a second little Eucomis peeking out from behind the larger plant.

Eucomis

Eucomis

 

COMMUNING WITH MIDGES AND ‘THE SPOTTY FLAPPY LEAFY THING’.

Talking about the garden again…my brain is connecting into peaceful communing with buttercups, daisies and wild orchids. It helps to cope with the chaotic and volatile political diatribes, the tribal nature of so-called debate, and the murder of Jo Cox M.P.

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The plants received a generous dollop of water when I got the hose out last night. If I had waited a few more hours Mother Nature would have provided and copiously too.  So, everything is now well-watered.  All that back-breaking weeding I got stuck into has got a sabotaging helping hand and the weeds, no doubt, will thrust up through the soil again.

I swear the Scottish midge has got larger. They are not usually interested in me. I pride myself on usually being bite free.  Instead of seeing a mass of tiny dust-sized dots flitting about, I saw masses of individual wing-flapping insects. This lot liked me and I was eaten off piste two evening in a row. The back of my neck, my ears and my forehead were smitten with minute burning bites. Yeuch!  I itch as am reminded  of it.  I find I am scratching my face again.

I am really pleased to see that a bright yellow lily I planted last year has grown again, so, I bought another Lily to join it. It has  tight deceptively reddish coloured buds. They might turn out to be orange!   And …..the large flappy spotty leafy thing I bought at an Open Garden last year has reappeared. Yay!  Those spots are on the underside of the leaf that  takes shape. They eventually show as opaque markings on the upper side of it.

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In fact, the plant might be giving me a double act. Since I took this photo a few days ago, a second stem has pushed through the surface. I hope the pot will be big enough. Don’t be fooled by the white I.D. stick. What was written on it in indelible ink has completed faded out.  This folks, is why it is ‘a flappy spotty leafy thing‘ till I can put a name to it.

GARDENING. OVER-ENTHUSIASTIC PLANTS

It’s been a busy two days in the garden taking advantage of the warmer temperatures and the dry sunny weather.

I rescued, (I hope) some of my plants from other over-enthusiastic plants encroaching on their space and depriving them of vital light.  I chopped back the Lovage for the second time this year.  I have decided it has got to go. What’s left of the Lovage is behind the  white planter. My flat leaf parsley should be a bit happier now and also the Aubretias.

You can’t see them, the Fennel is in the way,  but there are Violas, which were tied up with weeds. I moved  all but two of the self-seeded Calendulas (edible Marigolds) to another patch with their pals.

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It’s surprising what happily grows under the delicate fern leaves of the Bronze Fennel. It is not full height yet. It’s a bit warmer now, so, it will put on a spurt.

 

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Calendulas are quite  hardy and they don’t seem to be fussy about what kind of ground they grow in. These have some re-sited Violas among them. I do throw a bit of compost in this direction every now and then. I’m not sure if the replanted fancy rocket behind the planter will settle.  The petunias in the pot  were planted yesterday.

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Allium are growing vigorously this year and have quite a few buds. There’s a couple of bunches by the Primula Candelabra, (the tall creamy flowering plants).  The Alliums are quite aggressive and have been pushing up and around the settled  Primulas.  Sadly, a  low lying double-flowered Primula was well and truly killed off by their growing antics. You can see what is left of one newly re-planted small Primula with a Viola for company, which did keep going, though it was obviously  struggling.  I pulled up some Alliums to give space and light back to the other plants.

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A few of the miscreant Alliums have been plonked into this bund that hubby has developed. Their root network will be ideal for it assuming they take root. Even so, I reckon there will have to be regular culls.  Bluebell type flowers, (below) which are currently flowering would add to the root strength, they seem to behave in a similar way.

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I was a bit nervous of clearing out the weeds between the Euphorbia and the Lupins, I wore heavy duty gloves for this job. If any Euphorbia sap gets onto your skin, the skin will become light sensitive and can blister. This is one plant from which you don’t want to accidentally break anything.  It’s not ideal to have a top which keeps parting from your trousers, however well you think you’ve tucked everything in!

Those are Busy Lizzie’s peeking out from the amphora.

Gardening is never done; there’s still more to do. A bit of grass clearing should do the trick here.  There are some other Weigelas that would appreciate a similar manicure.

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One for emptying. I’ve not had much success in this planter. I’ll have to think about how to use it.

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SPEAKING OF PLANTS…

We’ve had frosts, sleet, and snow, which did not settle.  Daily temperatures are still in single figures, at night it feels the numbers are very low.  Though it is very light till late, it feels cold enough to draw the curtains to insulate us from the chill outside.

I checked my five ‘baby’  Weigela bushes, which I planted last year. Their leaves vary in colour, two are light and dark variegated greens.  I also planted two dark purple leaved varieties. The plants burst into life and sprouted leaves during the short-lived. false spring we had early April.  Since the temperatures dropped, four of the Weigela’s furled up their leaves and appeared to be trying to protectively wrap them round their main branches.  Like the Euphorbia,  they were looking quite sorry for themselves.  The light green variegated leaf Weigela, which I thought may be a tender offspring, seems to have survived the cold snap quite well.  You never can tell, can you.

On a recent visit to Edinburgh’s lovely Botanical Gardens, I took a guided walk to learn something about plants and the garden’s  highlights. It turned out to be a group of one plus the guide, a retired botanist; lucky me! Amongst other things, I was introduced to three plants I have. My Begenia is not yet flowering, theirs is.  I planted it where the Livingstone daises are  by the tree trunk. This picture is pre-Begenia. There was a great big green leathery elephant ear leaf, (my description, it’s real name I cannot recall) which I hope will reappear. It is in the blue pot  in the picture.

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And last, a bronze Fennel; I was told it was an aggressive growing plant. I’ve had mine two years, it grew upwards to about 4.5ft last year and was  spectacular to look at.  I can think of other plants- like the one behind it – I wish I had never planted, however, my bronze fennel is not one of them. It is staying.  A local visiting cat nuzzles up to it, I do believe the cat likes the aroma: why not, I do!

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WHAT A SURPRISE!

A couple of weeks ago, I was  caught in two really heavy downpours of rain.  The first time I was sodden.  When I got home I had to strip off  all my clothes and dry myself. I put on fresh and dry clothes.  I felt so much better.

The day improved, it became drier and sunnier and I decided to go out again, this time to buy groceries.  I was leaving  the grocery store when unexpectedly the heavens turned on the torrential taps.  I used the carrier bag trick I had resorted to before.  You  roll the opening back until it looks like it will sit on your head like a rain hat, admittedly, a bit of a large and unusual one.  A few people grinned, others looked and a lot of people stared, fixed stares.  I smiled. At least I had a jacket on and with my improvised head cover,  my hair stayed dry.

in-china-can-produce-yellow-PVC-plastic.jpg_200x200Hubby roared with laughter when he saw me coming from the car with the shopping wearing my ‘designer’ plastic bag head gear,  which just happened to be a capacious Lidl’s plastic carrier bag advertising me in large lettering as……  “ONE OF LIDL’S SURPRISES”     ❗

🙂