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.


Hi Folks,

Just been rather busy since November last year, though there was a lull for a few days over the Christmas break.  Just as well, because with the dire flood warnings, which sounded like they were near, or, at home, we cut into our break  and dashed back to see if everything was okay chez nous.

The busy business will continue for a bit.  It means I won’t have much time for posting, (though I will take any opportunity that presents itself).  However, I intend that all this busy stuff  will not get in the way of keeping in contact and commenting.

Today is Holocaust Memorial Day.  This morning, I heard a very poignant story on the BBC Radio 4 Programme, ‘Midweek,’ about a sock that belonged to a survivor.

January is nearly over; we’re getting an extra hour or so of daylight now.




Apart from a rumble of disgust at the British Government’s response to the refugee crisis, I have not heard much discussion about the U.K’s sorting criteria for ‘acceptable’ refugees.  Britain is not open to refugees on the move, irrespective of the reasons why.  What we hear, is that any refugees that Britain accepts will have to be in the official camps  They will include the most vulnerable, (whatever that means) and likely, orphan children.  Alarmist voices quickly channeled all the resources arguments against giving refuge to unaccompanied children. The same arguments have been raised in respect of the trickle of ‘acceptable’ refugees over five years that Britain may give refuge too, 4000 per year.  In this instance the Westminster Government response was to offer time-limited assistance in areas where any refugees may be settled.

Funding the needs of extra people is a consideration, it has to be.  While that discussion is being resolved both domestically and internationally, it is worth remembering history shows that  previous waves of refugees who arrived in Britain have and still do substantially contribute to the wealth of this country.

Britain has not been mean with aid on the ground, far from it.  A major slice of basic aid in forming the camps, in particular, in Lebanon, has been given through the generosity of the British people.   But, not all refugees are in camps, there are a large number eking out an existence in  sub-standard conditions in countries like Jordan.  That said, their need to  be fed is no different from the refugees in the other camps.   Like many  in camps, (including camps in Turkey) they are now being forced to move on because the United Nations (U.N) which has been supporting these camps with food aid, has run out of money for food aid for  the refugees. The U.N has been reliant on international financial donations to support vast numbers of people with food.  Starkly put, the refugees, whether in camps or shacks, can no longer be fed.  Their choices for survival – the basic human instinct – are limited to moving on, to attempt to survive.  Life becomes a lottery. In trying to survive many die.

Communities around the U.K have spontaneously been taking practical steps; there have been collections of warm clothing for people stuck at Calais and other ports, who have arrived  at these places wearing their sandals and lightweight clothing, none of which is suitable for surviving Northern European Winters. In Vienna,  clothing donated from many sources  is given to the refugees as they arrive in the city. I expect the same scenario will have been enacted throughout other refugee arrival points, where refugees are being treated  with dignity.  Sad to say, treating the refugees with dignity  is not universal.

I was appalled to hear the rhetoric of Fascism by the Hungarian Government and from other Eastern European States. The Balkan Wars and the Hungarian uprising against Russian suppression  are all still within living memory.  They created refugees who were desperate for help.  Some of my faith in humanity was restored when I saw and heard the reports of the Hungarian people individually helping refugees, irrespective of their Government’s distasteful stance.

The UK has no need to swell its population with young and intelligent people from elsewhere to support an ageing population as much as some of our neighbour countries do, (like France and Germany, for example).   So, to minimise our responsibility to what the world has now accepted is a true refugee crisis, (as opposed to economic migrants) from Africa and the Middle East,  this is what the British Government says it is going to do over five years.  Britain will consider taking  a total of 20,000 ‘acceptable’ Refugees, (4000 per year) who are in official refugee camps.  Perhaps, from those selected  there will be orphan children.  You are definitely not going to be offered refuge in the U.K if you are a refugee with the many thousands on the move,  who are  risking life and limb to survive.



New WP Post Editor Problems–Advice Please

Two days ago, I wrote and published a post through the new post editor. The title of the post was visible above my header picture but no post showed up on the site.  I re-wrote the post through the old WP admin route and published it successfully that way. The title of the post remained though, above my header picture.

I thought about this strange phenomenon and yesterday, I discovered that the post I had written showed up as a ‘page’,  and that’s why the title appeared above the header picture.  Why or how, it works like that I don’t know.  Anyway, I deleted the page and restored my site to how it should be.  I assumed I had either selected the wrong button or there had  been wobbly gremlins at work.

Tonight, I wrote a short post using the new post editor again.  This time, I carefully noted which selection I made, i.e ‘Add’. I published the post.  The title of the post appeared above the header picture and this time, the post was on the site as well!!

Action: I deleted the ‘page’; the title disappeared from the header.   Unfortunately the post was deleted as well.  I have no idea if I can retrieve the post from the bowels of WP, or, if the post has disappeared for good.  Has anybody any ideas please how this ‘page’ issue can be corrected?

One thing is for sure, I shall keep to the old WP Admin dashboard and access the post editor from there for the foreseeable future.  At least it is stable.


A replacement credit card automatically arrived for one which had not expired and was not due to expire. It had features I  never had, that I did not want, and an alien name style.  This definitely merited a phone call.

Once I had bypassed the system menus, it was, said the voice, a  busy time, (late Sunday evening must be popular) and there was at least a ten minutes wait. About two minutes of the wait was taken up with a lesson on avoiding telephone fraudsters and tricksters.  Music and apologies followed on, sequentially.

Various bits of security were dealt with; there was no problem re-issuing a card without the pesky features – yes I could opt out of those.  OPT OUT…… Great trick…they impose and the customer has to dispose.

“As my present card is in date, is it necessary to issue another one?” I asked.

It was necessary to issue another one, as the unsolicited replacement will have cancelled out the card I already had.

To have another card issued in the name style I wanted, (and always had) I would need to write in with proof of identity…..!

“excuse me – I did not change my name style, you did.  I want you to restore it”. 

Agreement was reached.


Phone rings.

Faint voice, which was crossing continents “Hello  Ma’am”

….”We have heard you had a motor accident two years ago. That is right isn’t it?”

Note… No specific type of motoring accident is given and the question is phrased for me to be tricked into their lair.

I respond with a question of my own…. who gave you that information?

“Your insurance company Ma’am.

and what information were you given?

“We have heard you had a motor accident two years ago. “That is right isn’t it?”

I’m not answering your question

Him –  insistently stating…..It is right isn’t it Ma’am?

I am not answering your question

Him- hurriedly, “Thank you for your time; goodbye”



The home insurance renewal offer has gone up in price, (considerably) from last year  “in line with the cost of living and inflation”.  Uhm, did I read that correctly! As I recall, we had a miniscule amount of time when we were sitting at deflation, other than that, we are constantly being told that the cost of living has gone down, the global economy is not so buoyant either and that the Bank Of England base rate has remained at a steady all time low over about three or four years.

I phoned three insurance representatives who insisted on babbling through verbal pro-formas, in the nicest possible way, expecting me to absorb the data they have visible and I do not. Links to policy summaries and policy wording would balance up the odds.

Knowledge Is Power

The best deals for utilities and insurances are to be had as new customers. Inertia is expensive. Loyalty has become a delightfully old fashioned concept.  I’m sure this must have led to the development of a nation of economic tarts. This week I have taken two major ‘tart’ decisions and now, I have spent hours making home insurance comparisons online. Best prices mostly reflect base line insurances. Watch the prices jump and the exclusions pop up as you add extras.

Is it worth it?

The comparisons show that most companies are charging the same level of compulsory excesses for major and structural risk, in addition to any voluntary excess. The more excess you volunteer to pay, the more the premium reduces. Variations arise in the quality of ‘extras’ and exclusion clauses. This is where the customer would benefit from reading what’s on offer. It looks like a couple more phone calls have to be made. I am beginning to to feel inertia setting in.  It’s not easy being an economic pick-and-mix tart.


I did my research, it looked straightforward enough, so I ordered memory modules to upgrade my computer.  It’s not any old computer it’s an Apple and what they do and how they do what they do is different to Microsoft.  With Microsoft boxes of tricks, I could decide on what worked and slot the memory into whichever slot was free.  That was that. Not so Apple.

We had the right type of screwdriver to open the memory modules ‘door’ below the logo; that was the really easy part, I could have played with it for hours.  I well and truly earthed myself then struggled to push out the safely wedged memory from the package. Each module was very tightly housed into their plastic forms.  I gave up being gentle and succeeded in forcing one out.

Carefully following the step-by-step instructions, I pulled out plastic tabs that were supposed to loosen the existing computer memory from their slots. Not for me they didn’t. As I wanted the existing memory, I was not bothered about moving it anyway. I concentrated on installing the new green  memory modules.  ***!!!** They would not seat properly.

My persistence began to wane. The lady on the helpline – from Egypt – made suggestions that mirrored what I had been doing already…..Uh, Could I go to a computer shop.….No, not possible where I live…..have you watched installation videos on our site? ….I had a quick look.  No videos, just repeats of step-by-step instructions and not even as good as the ones I used.  We agreed to to replace my modules. as they didn’t seem to fit.  She started off the order process. The replacements would be sent when I returned the modules I had.

Next, phoned my brother hundreds of miles away. I wasn’t being forceful enough, he said………

                     A Bit Of Caerphilly

Really tug at the plastic tabs like they were a piece of  attached string,” he said, it would loosen the pre-installed memory modules, not that I needed to; I did it anyway.  A blue rectangular module catapulted out of the slot making a direct hit on my chest.  I was all of a tizzy… I checked the module for size against the new one I was struggling to fit. They measured the same. With a bit of a shove the original memory module seated in.  Right, then, let’s try the new modules one  more time.  I gave the first one a real heave ho and it did as it was told…wow! The second one got the same treatment.  I was ready to plug in to the mains.

My system analyser recognised the computer has lots more memory……


I promised myself I would not do any washing this holiday weekend, I had done enough while we were away on a short break, loads and loads of it, left by other people who had used the house before us. The contracted cleaning and service agency had their invoice paid for,  for a date they said they did the job, which was  a few days before we arrived.  They very obviously had not fulfilled their contract in any shape or form.  I took the house owner, (a friend) on a tour of the premises with my iPad camera, so, he could the agency to task.  Hell! was he upset and mortified at what we walked into.  We set about making the house reasonable to stay in.

There was some of our own stuff  to wash and dry on our return home, inevitably, there always is, but, I said to myself, that’s it,no more. The trouble is, where I live, In  the far north of Scotland,  you are very aware of weather patterns, you have to be. Today is going to be the best day of the week, the rest of it is forecast to be a wash- out, ( ‘scuse the irresistible pun ). So, if I am going to get washing dried the eco way, outside on the line, whatever there is to be washed must be laundered today. Yet another resolution hits the dust……….


On Wednesday 30th November 2005 I graduated with an MSc from Edinburgh University. :DD The ceremonial took place in the McEwan Hall, a rotund building that dates back to 1888.

I was allocated a front row seat in the McEwan Hall for the graduation ceremony together with the PhD’s. They were kitted out in black robes like mine but with wonderful thick vivid red silk grosgrain bands and similarly vivid red silk lined hoods. I had a 3″ silk green band with flashes of white around the shoulders and a green silk lined hood. The hoods were really deep, mine ended up just above my ankle and a little above the hem of my graduation robe. (Anyone else with my kind of enrobed ‘greenery’ ended up in the rows behind.)

All the graduates were, in time honoured tradition, invested with their respective statuses with a symbolic doffing on the head of a pair of John Knox’s old velvet breeches which had been fashioned into a bunnet. Just as well, as I am not sure I would have been too thrilled to have been batted around the head with a manky old pair of untreated trews!!