© M- Open Gardens

Have I ever come across such incompetence before…..No:  Have I ever seen such a complicated cock-up before…..Almost, but this one pips others to the post.

After five months of chivvying a utility company along and a having a variety of unexpected experiences, with no sign of an agreeable resolution, I have got to end of my tether.

From Monday of last week I had my nose to grindstone. I gathered together five months’ worth of information to make a formal complaint to the Office Of The Ombudsman (Energy).  Once that was more-or-less sorted, the information had to be put into a non-emotive and concise presentation; ‘emotions not allowed‘ the instruction guidance suggests.  If you’ve done anything like this, you will know it can take days to do.  Sifting through the collection of potential attachments, (evidence) is a must.  Also, attachments, “Must be appropriate to the complaint“.

Midweek, I gave myself permission to have time off.  I had few hours’ break, to go out and see what the rest of my world was doing. It was the only way I was going to bring myself back, bleary eyed, to face the next step…….editing.

Editing is a euphemism for making  savings, word [efficiency] savings; being smarter with words, making cuts.  I won’t bore you with the rest of it.   By lunchtime on Friday I had finished work on the presentation of my complaint and had written a succinct-ish email to attach everything to.

It felt so very good to click on the ‘send’ button.  Now we wait.

© M




Never Heard Of Barak Obama

I promise, I really and truly was not searching for anything.  This nugget popped out of nowhere today.  I originally wrote it nine years ago.   I am not sure if I published it then, but, if I did, please excuse me for being tempted to post it again.  You’ll see why……..


I have actually found someone who has never heard of Barak Obama.

I found this hard to believe but after some further probing, I realised it was true. This young person, (of voting age) thought I was talking about…

“Some man who was going to do something to Scotland”.

This in the middle of a beauty therapy session, padded up for my most un-favourite therapy of toning up useful muscles while lying in a prone state.

I jerked up in surprise, nearly electrocuting myself in the process, “Do something to Scotland. What?” I queried.

Getting all those people out of their houses and off the land”, she answered.

Obama?” I thought of modern day Highland Clearances and was truly puzzled.


Her mum had talked to her about it and people were going to fight to stay in their houses.

Realisation dawned…………………

“You mean Donald Trump !“, I exclaimed. “He’s the one that’s just got planning permission to build a golf course and luxury hotel complex on the Aberdeenshire coast.”


© Chicago by M

The lass looked glumly at me and commented with feeling

I hate politics, all that rudeness, shouting at each other and fighting. I can’t stand it, I really hate politics”.

No doubt about that.





The deep coloured greenery swelled out and spilled over the top of the plastic carrier bag, which had been handed to me. Hidden beneath the massive aromatic foliage were more interesting items. There were three Pak Choi and one splendid white Mooli.   It was lunchtime when I made my visit to the care home, carrying this abundantly overflowing bag.  In my spare hand I held a pack of raspberries, a treat.  I got curious looks from the care staff and some polite smiles.   I was on a visiting mission. I knocked on the door of room 41.

© Elegant Veg

She immediately wanted to know what I was carrying. I got her to feel through the foliage and the thin stalks. Still not sure, I encouraged her to nibble at a little of a leaf. Yes, it tasted of something but what?  She sniffed the green bunch and stroked the stalks.  Realisation; her mother used to grow this and use it in soups, make soup with it and put it with meat and gravy.  She couldn’t remember how long ago, but it made for a good flavour.   Did the Mooli have a sharp and hot radish flavour, she wanted to know and could it be boiled or steamed.  What about the other one, the Pak Choi?  She was thinking and asking questions while I gave my ideas for preparing the two vegetables.

© Our Yellow Beetroot.  Pak Choi it is not.

We shared savoury and sweet  recipe ideas  for the best part of an hour, and the time passed pleasantly and quickly. The raspberries, which all got eaten, evoked thoughts of home made cakes; puddings; jam; outings with an enamel bucket used for collecting and cooking the raspberries, in times long past.

On my way out, staff asked me about the greenery I was carrying.  One, a Bulgarian lady did not know Pak Choi, but bemoaned the fate of her garden back home without her.  A local carer had no idea about any of it.  A Chinese carer squealed with delight when she saw the Mooli and was thrilled to hear we called the other little vegetable (the Pak Choi) the same name she knew it by.



Nothing in particular to report, though there is plenty to occupy my thoughts. There is is just too much.  I don’t imagine for one minute that I am alone in feeling I am on thinking and analysis overload.


© M-Digital Doodles

Living in such tumultuous and shambolic times it would be easy to behave like an ostrich and bury my head in the sand.  In the Russian equivalent analogy,  the ostrich  is  ‘hiding its head under its wing’.  The Russian Ostrich would have a cosier and warmer hideout, with the ability for an occasional surreptitious glance out to see if worldly things were a little quieter: peaceful would be really good.


© Photo By M-Wishing-In-The-Wind

Truly Amazing

I was in  the second  bed on the right-hand side of a  medical Nightingale hospital ward.  In the days of yore, (honestly, I am not that ancient, it’s just that where I landed, it was a time on the cusp of change) beds were not moved around too frequently as they were less mobile than the hospital beds you see today.  The patients in the beds nearest to the nursing station and the ward sister’s office,  were deemed to require closer and regular attention, and I was one of them,

As an orthopaedic patient, I felt like squatter in the medical ward.  None of the staff had any of the specialised experience, another reason why I was being kept a close eye on……just in case.   Sister, regularly communicated with ‘the experts’ when, me, with my basic first aid knowledge,  would advise the nurses how I should or shouldn’t be handled.   Sister would come off the phone and quickly have a quiet word with all the nurses who were learning (on me).  There was one time Sister had to run to help get me safely settled, at the same time, instructing the nurses to listen to me.  But hey….I was only the patient.   Orthopaedic doctors seemed happy to neglect me, leaving  my care as advisory – that is, when a Ward Sister phoned up for advice and guidance, (help!)

Meantime the ward Physicians’ frustrations were palpable.  Finally, a Senior Registrar took control and referred me urgently to the first out-patients’ clinic downstairs to see any visiting Orthopaedic Consultant.  I was gingerly taken to my fate in a wheel chair, which was left in the middle of the examination area.  It’s all a bit of a haze now, however, meeting the consultant is not. He soon arranged a bed for me in a side room on the Orthopaedic ward of that hospital and set  the staff to work, to put me back in shape. He visited me daily to check on my progress the first three days, even though, as I discovered, his own work base was many miles away.

After a series of awful professional mishaps in following his instructions – one was unbelievably grim- the worried Consultant arranged for me to be discharged post haste to medical friends of his, in a community his hospital served.  Based in his community, I could be seen by him and treated  under his supervision by his staff.  He followed me right through to final discharge, which was some months later, though by then, I was staying in the bosom of my family, 240 miles away.   I just wish so much I could remember his name after all these years.   (His friends were inordinately kind and caring too).  I promised myself that I would always remember his name and yet, here we are so many years on and I don’t.  I have a great deal to thank him for.  He was such a truly amazing man.


The drive home was straightforward till I got to the first little village.  I tootled into the the sharp right hand bend at 30mph, or, a bit less probably.  I was happily minding my own side of the road on this bend, when a little red pretend  racer suddenly came into view at great speed, took the right hand bend far too fast and on my side of the road, forcing me to swerve up onto the kerb out of its way.

Up north in the ‘Wild Outback’, on the last 25 miles stretch,  I was comfortably tucked behind a black 4X4 type vehicle.  It was holding a steady 60mph.  A white car similar to the chunky 4X4 overtook me and moved into the space in front.  Moments after, yet another white car, a sleeker model, moved in behind the first white car.   Those two white vehicles were very fidgety, they  were in a great hurry, (to put it mildly).

The sleeker white car, which was at this point in front of  me, signalled  it was going to  move out and overtake; it zoomed  out and  off at speed, drawing level with the chunky white car.

Chunky white car driver signalled and moved out of lane just as the sleeker white car levelled with it on the offside.  Sleek white car was forced to swerve up a high sharp angled verge, (about 45-50 degrees) it looked like a  fast scary fairground ride.  Soil and dust flew everywhere.

-3-2The sides of the white cars  were close to one another as they sped on their fast forward trajectory.  As I watched this scene with absolute horror, I was aware I had one hand on my steering wheel and the other one over my nose and mouth.

323e2-unicode-9-emojis-_glamour_3jun16_emojipediaTime seemed to stand still and I didn’t dare breath.  The car angled on the verge kept up its speed, as did the other one down on the road!   They remained very close.  Its speed probably kept the sleek white car relatively stable up there.


Sleek  white car managed to speed forward of the chunkier one, still  at an angle, then it turned its front wheels  down towards the nearside carriageway, placing itself in front of the black 4X4.   White chunky vehicle in its turn moved in behind sleek white car.  Next, there appeared to be a bit of ‘argy bargy’ driving  between the two white cars.

Eventually,  sleek white car drove his car into a layby. The other one followed suit.   As I passed, I saw a very determined male tensely moving towards the driver of  chunky white car.


Disaster had been close, not just for the occupants of those two cars, but for the people nearest, me and the occupants in the black 4X4 car.  If the white cars had been in reversed position, I doubt I’d be here telling this story.   I arrived home stunned and emotionally drained.





These cases can go either way.  After eight months, we have a result to our complaint  to The Office Of The Financial Ombudsman about our insurance company’s refusal to agree to a storm damage claim.  The bricks and mortar of our house was comprehensively insured with belt and braces cover, or so we thought.   Some of the communication with the insurance company, when we got it, was minimalist.  In general, communication was one-sided and time pressured to suit the insurance company’s agendas.  We began to wonder what we  bought insurance for……

As you would expect, the Insurance company challenged our claim at every stage.  Luckily, we had one useful photo of our house showing how it was before the storm damage occurred and we were asked for a copy of it.  I’m taking  photos of our house regularly from now on!

We were told by The Ombudsman’s Office whatever the outcome of our complaint, repairs could be done.  In Spring, during a useful weather window, the repair work was  completed. We were, however, still in limbo with the insurance claim.

Last week we got the Ombudsman’s final decision… our favour; the insurance company have got to accept our repair costs and  pay our claim.  Yay!!!

…..Naturally, we’ve signed up to the decision.

R E S U L T!






A feature on yet another revival of homely hand knitting reminded me……. At primary school, the girls’ craft classes were the bain of my life. Could I knit as a six year old? Much as I tried, sitting at an old wooden desk, with oversized knitting needles and a well re-used ball of wool, made the whole experience a clumsy affair with little to show for it. There were some loops on the needle and maybe I managed to put some wool through a loop or two, I don’t really remember.


I do know, that there were some stitches on the needle that did not seem to be very productive.  I was glad when the tortuous efforts came to an end and another lesson began.

Then there was the class where the better little hand-stitchers made bunnies with lovely fluffy cloth already cut to shape, probably by the teacher, a grandmother figure, who taught that girls’ class. Once stitched to the required point, busy little hands had lots of fun stuffing the bodies, arms, legs, hands and ears of their creations, (through a small opening left in the seam) with what I believe was Kapok. Polyester fibres were not in use all those years ago to stuff things. The opening was then closed up by each young  ‘creator’ with even and neat little running stitches.


We, the ones relegated to the ‘untalented’ corner, (the majority of the class) had a bit of rag each plus a needle and thread to practice with. I cannot say what others may have thought, but it seemed to me, the three or four bunny-makers looked more than a teensy bit smug.  Just a bit of me would have liked to have been with them bathed in their success.


A couple of years later, I discovered the Grandmother figure really was granny to two of the girls in her ‘better’ group.  Also, another teacher in the school, who was French, was her daughter-in-law.  By then, I was old enough to understand that a big war ended not so many years before, so, it was likely that the girls had no dad.  Mum and granny were supporting each other and the two girls on prescribed lower women’s salaries, much lower than their working male teaching counterparts.

From the amount of time we spent in church and on religious education, I wonder if there wasn’t some hope of recruiting future nuns and priests.


This primary school was certainly schooling the girls, for at best, domesticity, sweat shops, or, subservient jobs, and the boys, likewise, to be unskilled. We weren’t seen as having much potential.

Poppy Memorial Scott Monument

Scott Monument Princes St Edinburgh+ Poppy Memorial

When we all divided up to move on to our next secondary stage school experience, it was really surprising how many children started to thrive in a different educational environment, even though the development of domestic/service/cooking skills, was still a theme for girls.  Many of us as schoolchildren, were undervalued. Notwithstanding, many of my school friends, both genders, broke the expected mould.

YaY !!


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.

Staff Nurse 3

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


It has been the [wet and damp] season of Garden Parties at the Palace of Holyrood in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Is One going to a Garden Party?”  I was asked this week as the rain teemed down…….

No, One is not”.


One was wearing an all weather peach outdoor coat with hood up.  One was  also carrying a soggy, exotic fruit patterned cloth bag with a book in it; in addition, One had a casual, very wet sloppy, but, almost weatherproof, plum- coloured shoulder bag slung crosswise on Ones torso.  The look was finished off with rain-soaked black trousers and a pair of damp trainers on Ones feet.  Not exactly a picture of ‘My Fair Lady’ attired to meet the requirements of Royal protocol, One thinks.