Sad News . . .

Today’s post brought the news of the death over last weekend, 24th/25th June, of an old friend where we used to live. We met as supporters of The Children’s Society and worked together (she doing most of the work which I am sure she enjoyed hugely) for 25 years or more. She was a real good’un, the sort of person who makes society and churches tick, and makes them better in so far as any one person can.

She told us how, many years before we ever met, she and another lady took their youngest children off to the infant school at the beginning of a term, came home, sat on the back door step and said, “Now, what are we going to do ?” They decided that they would support the Church of England Children’s Society as it was called then, and, by gum, did they do so. Coffee mornings, raffles, Christmas Draws, you name it, they did it. How much money they raised directly, or indirectly I do not know, but the Society owes her and all like her – and there are many – a great debt of gratitude. The children, once taken to school were adults when we first met and must be in their 50s or 60s now, so she had a long track record. We wrote a card to the family, they were the ones who let us know, and got it in the post today.

The KBT Pharmacy, courtesy of Google Maps dated 2001.

Then off to the Pharmacy to collect a prescription and make other purchases. I was greeted by name, which was nice and strangely comforting, but also a little surprising because although I do go in fairly often and cannot be as regular a customer as some of their other folk, and would not expect them to know me all that well, let alone by name. But, let us be grateful for small mercies . . .

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“A drop fell on the apple tree, Another on the roof; A half a dozen kissed the eaves, And made the gables laugh.”

A drop fell on the apple tree,
Another on the roof;
A half a dozen kissed the eaves,
And made the gables laugh.

A few went out to help the brook,
That went to help the sea.
Myself conjectured, Were they pearls,
What necklaces could be!

The dust replaced in hoisted roads,
The birds jocoser sung;
The sunshine threw his hat away,
The orchards spangles hung.

The breezes brought dejected lutes,
And bathed them in the glee;
The East put out a single flag,
And signed the fete away.

Emily Dickinson

Today we have rain. Not that heavy rain that runs down the road in rivulets, but a series of periods of lighter rain that has successfully wetted all the plants and shrubs and made them drip on to the beds below. The sort of rain that soaks in slowly rather than flooding the roots.

We got off to a good start when Kevin the Builder came round with his mate to examine our chimney, which has started to loose its render. He got a good idea of what was needed which he tried to explain to them but which I couldn’t take in because of my deafness, and went off promising to ‘put a price’ through the letter box. He seems like a nice chap, was recommended unequivocally by Mitchell of the electricians who come to is, and is he is also the husband of the lovely Practice Nurse at our Health Centre, Joanne.

At 1.00 pm I myself visited the Health Centre but my appointment was with Megan, someone I have not met before. She says she has been here for two months. “Do you think you are going to like it it ?” was my snappy catch answer, “I do”, she said, “I like it very much” so Kirkcudbright seems to be doing its stuff on her alright. She took my blood (must remember to use my left arm for this more often) and made my appointment for next month.

Tongland Bridge, Nicola Forsyth

When I take one of the cars out I usually go for a short drive afterwards to give the battery a good charge and get the engine thoroughly warmed up. Today in my passage through Tongland I had to stop at a set of lights because BT Openreach are digging trenches all along the pavement. They and NETEL have been at work for some time in the town, and are now progressing northwards. There have been no public announcements about this work but presumably it has something to do with the installation of fibre optic cable. So, are we, might we, be going to get FTTP one day ?

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Passing thoughts . . .

Life goes on. Outside we seem to have lost, temporarily at least, the early summer heat wave. Today, and other days, it has tried to rain, often spasmodically, seldom for long. Today it tried a little harder with modest success, but whether the plants and the ground appreciated it it is hard to say. The luxuriant fields which were cut for silage in the spring and then got sprayed with sludge, never really recovered, and if there is to be another harvest of grass they will need a lot of rain over a good period of time. The weather is cooler which makes sleeping more likely.

Our Suzuki needed its annual MOT earlier this month. It disappeared into the garage, was there for a few days – always a sign that some repair needed doing or a new part needed fitting – and then returned home, minus a wheel disc. I reported this to the garage, who apologised handsomely – its only a bit of plastic trim, after all – and now we have, not just a replacement, but a whole new set of four – or so my OH tells me.

Some months ago our tall chimney shed some of its rendering. We enquired locally as to who might be a good man to contact to replace it, and after a longish delay, he came round to view it, but said it would be a job for the better weather. We were already experiencing very quiet, decent weather, more of it went by and no builder appeared so we said we would find someone else, which we have done. Another local man recommended by one of the tradesmen we use regularly. I have texted the man but so far my message has not been acknowledged, let alone answered. I suppose mending one fiddly old chimney is no big deal to a builder who could be making money on the building of extensions, but is an acknowledgement of the reception of a message too much to ask ?

The dishwasher has dishwashed, the washing machine has now started, so we shall have our daily meal to the accompaniment of splashing and sloshing.

English writer and columnist John Cameron Andrieu Bingham Michael Morton, aka J B Morton (1893 – 1979), who writes for the Daily Express under the pen name ‘Beachcomber’, 7th March 1966. (Photo by Stanley Sherman/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

My recent reading has included Beachcomber, a writer I remember from my childhood and youth. He appeared, if that is the right word, in the “Daily Express” in the days when it was a proper newspaper and not just the right wing rag it has become today. , I often wondered then just who he was. I know now that he was J B Morton and quite a character by all accounts. So I have been in court with Mr. Justice Cocklecarrot and his entanglements with the red dwarfs, reading of Captain Foulenough and his shady exploits and all the other Beachcomber characters like Dr. Strabismus (whom God preserve) of Utrecht.

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Catching up . . .


The Shingles continue. Now beginning Week 9. I begin to wonder whether perhaps the Shingles as such is finished, but she is now into post herpetic pain, which alas, can go on for some time. Various ameliorative measures have been tried via the Health Centre, but as the available information on the web tells you, there is not a lot really, that can be done. The problem is the pain associated with the rash. By which I mean it is the rash itself which hurts, it is not a generalised pain, the actual inflamed spots are the things that cause the trouble. My OH often goes to lie down in the afternoon and thus sleeps through some of it which is about the best ‘treatment’ I think.

Steak Pie

A few days ago I ventured into out local butcher’s shop and bought a steak pie for myself – and very good it was too. I used to buy these quite often ‘BC’ – Before Covid’ – so this was my first step inside the door for over three years. I was not greeted with Champagne, which was slightly disappointing.

Golf Course

Where I sit at home I can see between houses roofs and trees, the Kirkcudbright golf course and one of the greens. Occasionally I see a single golfer with his or her trolley, sometimes an actual golf caddie. Sometimes, but less often, I see a dog walker. It is therefore puzzling to read on Facebook sometimes about a competition which has taken place with a number of golfers taking part. How is it that I never see these ? 40 golfers – as was mentioned on one occasion recently -would take time to get round, so even if I left the room for a short while surely I would still see some on my return. One of life’s great mysteries – the invisible golfer.

Rhododendrons and Azaleas . . .

The local Rhododendrons and Azaleas were magnificent this year. The white Rhodos seem to come out before the coloured ones, the Azaleas just seem to flower and go on flowering. The house opposite us has had a deal of tree felling and clearance done this Spring and this has exposed bushes we have never seen before – and in their turn the bushes have reacted to the sudden access of sunlight and are showing signs of flowering in a big way. Obviously the soil round here is in gardening terms ‘acid’ so this type of shrub does well. A few years back I said to our neighbour, who is a professional gardener, that I would like to make a rose bed, but he put me off and said that he thought I might be a bit disappointed by the result if I did – so I have never attempted it.

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Shingling on . . .

Today is a Bank Holiday, part of the Coronation celebrations. Where we live it is pouring with rain and has been since the early hours. It is quite nostalgic, bank holidays used to be like this when I was growing up and they became something of a joke. For those planning some sort of a “do” it will be bad news, unless they can retreat indoors. For those of use, more or less, armchair-bound it is fortunately only of passing interest.

My OH continues in the pain of Shingles. She has now had it for two weeks and said yesterday that the pain was getting worse. She has started on Amitriptyline but realised last night that she must have missed one dose which is unfortunate because she needs all the help she can get and Amitriptyline takes a while to produce results. Although I am not affected, it is awful to be with someone in continual agonising pain whilst being unable to do anything to help.

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Shingles – but not on the roof . . .

The aches and pains – severe – suffered by my OH since Saturday turned out to be Shingles. We tried telephoning our Health Centre three times on Monday morning but after an apparent reply the phone seemed to cut off, so in the end we went down their ourselves and she was fortunate to get an emergency appointment at 11.20 am, so we went back home again and turned out a second time. She saw a Doctor new to her, who examined her and pronounced that is was/is an attack of Shingles and gave her a prescription for ‘Aciclovir‘. She is taking this – 5 times per day – plus Cocodamol, but so far she has experienced very little in the way of relief.

Today is ANZAC Day, but there is very little about it that I can see in the UK Media on line. This makes me very cross and so I poted as follows on Facebook, where I picked it up because of posts by people living in Australia and New Zealand . . .

Today, 25th April, is ANZAC Day ( but from the British media available to me you’d never know it. There are references to it on Instagram on the CWGC’s posts and the Prince and Princess of Wales’ Feed, but little else originating in UK that I can see. Brings a whole new relevance to “Lest We Forget”.

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Reminiscence . . .

LNER 460, o Gauge, made by Hornby pre War.

I found this picture via Google Images. Where we lived when I was a child the LNER line from Liverpool Street to Chingford went past the front of our house. My Father commuted to and from London daily, and sometimes we would wait at the upstairs window to see his train go by and he would wave his newspaper (the “London Evening News“) out of the window. Unless my memory is tricking me I think that one of their real tank engines carried this number so my toy was quite special to me. I kept it for many years, but on unpacking it eventually I found that the wheels had disintegrated. They were made of metal by some sort of casting process I suppose, but they broke up with age. Strange !

The real thing looked more like this . . .


As I remember them, standing in the platform at Liverpool Street after the run from Chingford (this would have been in the late 1930s) the Westinghouse pump (for the train brakes) was on the side nearest the platform, ie : the locomotive’s left side, but this may be memory playing up. What is not a false memory is that the pump operated with a very distinctive, sharp, “Poom – Pah- Poom – Pah” noise, and the sound of this on several locomotives echoed round the station and formed the background to your time there. I always hoped, and in my memory this is what we did, that we would go to Gamages Department store and to its toy department where there was a large (to me) Hornby train layout always operating and I would be glued there until I was torn away. But, if I was lucky, we might go on the tram, and I would watch the driver with his two big brass handles and try to fathom what they did. He appeared to twiddle them round singly or together with little apparent effect except that the tram started and stopped where it should do. Sometimes it went down into the ‘Kingsway’ tunnel, and that was very exciting.

One year, it must have been very close to the beginning of the war, Christmas 1938 or even 1939, Gamages offered a submarine ride. We went into a little room with a window, and amid various noises, water rose up past the window glass so we were definitely submerged ! Looking back now I can see that it must have been a fairly simple, if imaginative, piece of work, but at the time I was very impressed and believed what I saw implicitly. In June 1939 the papers were full of the accident to the submarine HMS ‘Thetis’, which makes me wonder if this trip to Gamages was in fact in 1939, as I understood what it was all about very well.

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St. George’s Day . . .

OH still suffering from bad gastric pains and discomfort all day. She will have to contact the health centre tomorrow to see what needs to be done.

Here, we had the Tesco delivery that was cancelled by Tesco last Thursday.

This afternoon we had the much vaunted National Emergency Alarm test on our mobile phones. Here are some of the things said about it beforehand published by Full Fact . . .

Ahead of the government testing out an emergency alert on every phone connected to 4G or 5G in the UK this weekend at 3pm on Sunday 23 April, we have seen bad information about the emergency alert shared thousands of times online.

Misinformation about this alert may lead to unnecessary alarm, and in some instances, may even cause people to opt out of future alerts (as many online have claimed they already have) based on incorrect information. 

They continue . . .

The government website describes the alert as “one-way” and confirms that the alert does not require the government to know any individual phone numbers. Since no data is collected by the Emergency Alert system, it isn’t possible for it to be matched with personal data collected during the pandemic.

The emergency alert test will not ‘breach GDPR’. When an alert is triggered, mobile phone masts broadcast it to every compatible phone and tablet within range. The government won’t be using your personal data, like your mobile phone number, to do this.

The alert is not an “activation signal” to activate the “pathogen in the shot”. We’ve seen claims on social media that the emergency alert test is an “activation signal” to activate the “pathogen in the shot”. This appears to be a reference to the Covid-19 vaccines. There’s no way a signal from a cell tower could “activate” a pathogen or vaccine materials including the Covid-19 vaccine.

Dr Al Edwards, associate professor in biomedical technology at the University of Reading, told Full Fact: “There is no mechanism known to physics or biology that could connect radio signals set by mobile phone data systems, to the biological or chemical materials found in vaccines.”

In the event I forgot all about it and at the witching hour I was in the kitchen getting myself some lunch as my OH was not eating. As I was packing up, she appeared in the doorway and said, “There was a most peculiar noise. I couldn’t make out where it came from. Do you think it might have been the fire alarm ?” Well, we don’t have a fire alarm, we do have smoke alarms but they usually let out a high pitched wail. I realised then what it was and reminded her that this was what we were supposed to be expecting. Looking on my phone there was a message on the screen explaining what had happened, and when I tapped the screen the message vanished. So, if it had been a real emergency I might have been none the wiser until such time as I checked my phone again, perhaps just before going to bed. My OH, who has no idea of how to operate a smart phone would be baffled if she were on her own, and I always shut it off at night, so if disaster strikes then I shall only find out as the roof falls on me.

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Spring Booster, and after . . .

Yesterday we went down to the town to get our Covid Spring Boosters. The injection takes a fraction of a second, but the getting there and the walking about is what takes the time and for us Oldies, wears you out. About half and hour or 45 minutes afterwards I felt a bit odd and once we got home I was very sleepy, but that passed off by late afternoon and then I was fine. We had to get up at 7.00 am – unheard of for us – and I don’t think that helped very much.

Today has been a mixed bag because my OH who suffers from gastric problems a great deal complained a a more severe pain that usual all round her ribs. So, being a Saturday we (she) ventured into the unknown territory of “111”. Much making of phone calls, listening to music, waiting for answers and so on. Then just after 6.00 pm a yellow and green estate car appeared with “Doctor on Call” on the side. A large, cheerful, black, mask wearing lady came in and gave my OH a thorough going over, issued her with some cocodamol and told her to take bigger doses of Peptac. Hopefully this will ease the discomfort both for my OH and for me too.

She also reports that the site on her arm where she had her Spring Booster is sufficiently painful as to prevent her sleeping on that side. I haven’t noticed any equivalent discomfort and have not, to my knowledge, had any ill effects today at all.

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Wedding Anniversary . . . and other things . . .

All Saints Church, Patcham, Sussex.

On this day, 20th April in 1957 we were married at All Saints, Patcham, in Sussex. The after effects of the Suez crisis were still with us and I only got from RAF Pembrey to Sussex because my father gave me his emergency petrol coupons – petrol being rationed at the time. For the same reason all the guests from my home area, Sutton and Cheam, came down by coach, and my Father reported that it was a great success and on the way back home they all stopped for fish and chips and a good time was had by all !

In other news, today, for the first time in the three years we have been having Tesco deliveries our delivery and its associated order were cancelled by Tesco, with profuse apologies but no explanation. However, I was able to ‘refill’ our basket and book a slot for Sunday. I tried to book for Saturday as it showed that slots were available, but Saturday didn’t want to know us.


We are glad to see that a small number of small birds are appearing in our garden on the feeders. The drop is small birds numbers and varieties has been dramatic in the (nearly) six years that we have lived here. Wood Pigeon, Starlings, Crows, and Gulls seem to have flourished as the others have diminished. But we are seeing Chaffinches and Goldfinches quite regularly now which is encouraging. There have been many reports of Avian Flu, but this is usually with respect to farmed birds like chickens rather that about wildlife – this despite the much vaunted care for wildlife displayed by the media when it suits them.

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