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Tuesday June 30th, 2020

Up for breakfast to quite a nice day this morning despite the forecast. Risked putting the bedding in the wash and hung it out to dry.

After breakfast, “S” and I took a walk to Sainsbury’s to pick up a few bits and pieces we can’t get from Tesco. It was still quite nicely sunny there and back although not too hot as there’s a decent wind. Hopefully the rain will hold off all day.

Had to renew the TV License today, I think the cost is well worth it for the value the BBC provides. having lived in countries with either fully commercial TV or a minimal publicly funded service, the BBC provides exccellent value for money. The only problem at the moment is they are being very timid when challenging political figures. They’ve lost their teeth and I guess it’s because of being under constant attack from Tory MPs who’d rather see that money going to their media owning billionaire patrons.

Managed to get the dog for a walk this afternoon without getting wet. In fact, the rain has held off pretty much all day apart frmo a brief shower late afternoon which made us bring the second load of washing in from the line. The skies have cleared now though.

We have such a strange dog – when she eats, she has to push all of the food to one side of her bowl. When she was little, she had a ‘slow eater’ bowl so she wouldn’t eat too quickly. We assumed since she was a street dog, she’d bolt her food. As it happens, she’s quite a delicate eater and has her food down all day and just eats a little at a time. Since we moved back to the UK we have had a normal bowl for her and she’s taken to doing this!

This afternoon we played Marvel – The rise of Thanos. We won but played on until we’d collected all of the hero cards.

We’re having pork schnitzel for dinner today, with chips and vegetables. Not made this for ages. There was a tiny roadside cafe in Romania we used to stop at on our way to Bucharest from the border that did chicken schnitzel with fries which was always delicious. The ladies that ran the place didn’t speak a word of English.

This evenings film club film is an old classic – Rebel Without a Cause.

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Monday June 29th, 2020

Today is the first day of the summer holidays which explains why there are more weather warnings for today. It seems quite calm this morning but it is raining.

29th June. Lockdown started on March 23rd so we are now in the 14th week and the 98th day. It’s frightening to consider that Wednesday will be the 100th day since lockdown was announced and that we’ve spent over one quarter of the year under the lockdown terms. I know things are easing and we can see some light at the end of the tunnel but, here in SCotland, we are still on a 5 mile travel limit and a bar on staying overnight outside our own home (unless we have formed a support bubble) so we are still, essentially, on lockdown. Hopefully, this will be changing by the weekend and I think the numbers recently do suggest this is a real possibility. I’m really pleased we haven’t seen the sights that have aftected the beaches in the south of England although I have read some really disturbing reports about problems scenes around Balloch and the shores of Loch Lomond as it is in easy reach from Glasgow. To be fair, though, the problems focus on littering and parking rather than flouting social distancing rules. Scotland really does seem to have coped with that side quite well.

The wind had built up by the time I took the dog for a walk this afternoon. The river is really high and the sky was quite menacing again. We’ve had to take some planters down from around the garden and put them on the floor to stop them blowing down.

When I got back with the dog we played 3 rounds of Sequence then we played Kaboo and Dominoes (our new favourite card games).

Meat-free Monday and we’re having Ratatouille (from a BBC recipe).

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/ratatouille?utm_source=app

Film Club this evening and we’re watching one of “I”s choices – Spirited Away.

Another good choice from “I”, really entertaining film about the importance of friendship and helping others.

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Sunday June 28th, 2020

Another stormy day. It’s not raining too heavily but is coming down persistently and there’s a definite wind behind it. It must have been warm during the night, though, because the milk we had in a ‘hot mug’ had gone off so I had to get fresh to make the morning tea. Gave the cats their Sunday morning ‘junk-food’ treat (a bowl of wet food and a bowl of normal whiskers crunchies instead of their more usual dried food). As normal, they were there as soon as they smelled it! No movement from the dog, though, who was settled on the sofa and didn’t make any attenpt to get up and go out at 7:30! Her Sunday morning treat is a piece of chicken jerky.

Made Highland Eggs for breakfast (one of my favourites). Used home-made potato pancakes and sweetcorn pancakes that we had in the freezer frmo last time I made them as the base. On top of that is a slice of haggis, some fresh baby spinach, hollandaise sauce and poached eggs. Absolutelty delicious.

Struggled with a couple of puzzles after breakfast (one of them was really hard) then out with the dog for a walk in almost rain, wind and with very ominous skies. We managed to get out and back without getting caught in any real downpour. The river was really high, it may well be breaking it’s banks again over the next few days. It was certainly too high and fast running to let the dog go for her usual paddle. The sandy/muddy beach areas were all well under water. She didn’t seem to bothered when she saw it.

Good news on the BBC website today. Scotland should be COVID free by the end of the summer. There’s been no confirmed deaths attributed to the disease since Thursday (only 3 days ago but it’s a glimmer of hope) and the number of confirmed new cases yesterday was down to 15. Another positive, Scotland has around 9% of the UK population but overall only accounts for around 4% of Coronavirus deaths. I think the way the lockdown has been communicated in Scotland has been better, the later and more cautious lifting has helped and the weather tends not to encourage sights like you see on the southern English beaches recently. Smaller, greener cities and towns with more accessible green spaces makes the ability to get out of the house and experience some natural environment easier. This, in turn, makes it easier to cope with the pressures of lockdown. Also, I do think there is more of a sense of community and societal spirit in Scotland. It is much less of an individualistic nation. Over 2000 deaths is far too many and the disease is still frightening and capable of causing devastation if we let our guard down but, hopefully, we’re past the worst and will be able to manage future outbreaks more locally and more quickly. Perhaps Nicola Sturgeon can join Angela Merkel, Sanna Marin, Katrin Jakobsdottir and Jacinda Aderne as female leaders who have handled this crisis better than their male counterparts in other countries. The world needs more female governmental leaders.

This afternoon we played the Doctor Who game. Two rounds, “E” won both so she’s happy!

Sunday Roast for Dinner – Pork this week. I maanged to find what looks like a lovely piece of pork in Tesco which what should turn into fantastic crackling on the top. We’ll have it with roast potatoes and yorkshire puddings (of course) and also roast carrots and onions and green veg.

Film Club this evening and we’re watching the only film to have reduced me to tears as an adult. About Time.

Loved the film as much as usual. It’s now nearly bedtime and the weather, particularly the wind, is getting quite wild.

Sobering news from the Guardian: “The coronavirus death toll has passed the grim milestone of half a million deaths. The number of people who have died in the outbreak stands at 500,108 according to John Hopkins University tracker. The actual number of deaths is likely to be significantly higher than the tally compiled from government figures. The US has the highest death toll at 125,747, followed by Brazil at 57,070. Some 43,634 people have died in the UK.”

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Saturday June 27th, 2020

Another weather warning this morning although the skies are beautiful and blue just now. Hopefully they’ll like that for the day.

Up for breakfast then took the dog for a walk and managed to get out and back before it started to rain. In factwe managed to get the washing hung out in the blue skies just moments before we were engulfed in grey and the thunder started. The dog does not like thunder. She can’t get under the sofa so the next best thing is to sit with her head on either my or “S”s knee! She’s not happy!

We did well in the Independent quizzes this morning (here they are):

https://edition.independent.co.uk/editions/uk.co.independent.issue.270620/data/9584896/index.html

https://edition.independent.co.uk/editions/uk.co.independent.issue.270620/data/9577616/styles/ad_package/quiz_20200627.html

https://edition.independent.co.uk/editions/uk.co.independent.issue.270620/data/9584881/index.html

We also caught up with Richard Osman’s weekly quiz (the letter N today) and we got our highest score for several weeks. All quite accomplished really.

Both “S” and I are feeling better today than we have for the last couple of days, which is, of course, good. Starting cooking early today, it’s Saturday Soup day and we’re having vegetable soup which is on simmering away now so that we get all of the flavours coming out into the stock and the veggies are soft so that the blitz down easily later on. I cook it for about a couple of hours then leave it sitting until 30 minutes or so before we eat when I heat it up to boiling again, blitz it and finally stir in some creme fraiche. We’re having it with baguette.

Just heard that our local Tesco has had to close this afternoon due to flooding! Good job I was able to go shopping yesterday. The weather here just now is foul. Fortunately it was nice when we were out for our walk earlier.

Today is TV Binge day and we’ll be watching Good Omens. Outstanding.

We played Pictionary this afternoon (it’s a really stressful game) then we played 4 rounds of Dominoes (cards) and one of Knockout Whist.

Sun’s come out now, is this the rain passed for a few days or are we still set for rain all week? I suppose we do live in central Scotland, it’s beautiful because it’s green and it’s green because it rains!

Sainsbury’s had to close this afternoon too because of the roof leaking and flooding the aisles. We’re only 10 minutes away but didn’t have anything like that sort of rain.

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Friday June 26th, 2020

Feeling much better today, having a cup of tea while listening to the end of Truckers (the first part of Terry Pratchett’s Bromeliad). Yesterday was a gorgeous day, when I was too sick to move, today looks horrid. Still, looks like it’s bad across the country.

It’s been unpleasantly muggy all day. “S”s turn to be ill today – migraine due to the weather. I feel much better today although all of the muscles in my abdomen ache, I sneezed earlier this morning and thought I was going to pass out, it hurt every muscle in my stomach. Still, considerably better than yesterday.

Went to Tesco after breakfast. It was much quieter than I expected. I don’t usually like going on a Friday as it is often really busy but it was OK today. Got everything we needed so all good for the next week. The fridge is ridiculously full, as usual, but it’ll all be gone by next Thursday. I usually shop on a Thursday to carry thrugh to the following Friday in case something comes up and I can’t make it on the Thursday – just like happened this week. Feeling smug due to my organisation!

It was raining when we took the dog for a walk this afternoon and we ended up cutting it short. She got the scent of a dog on the path ahead of us and the red mist descended. What made it worse was just as she set of running and I shouted her she stopped, turned round then decided to run anyway. Straight home after that. It’s a nature/character thing. She’s not disobedient but she hasn’t got that pedigree breeding to behave. Street dogs don’t have to and as much as she wants to be good and get praise there are some things that her background just gets the better of her with.

When we got back we played Cluedo. Since there was only the three of us we decided to play two characters each. It made it quite interesting. The first game was particularly difficult, though, as we’d managed to put two people in the envelope and no implement. So Miss Scarlet did it in the Hall with Mrs White! Second time round “I” won. This game is one of her specialities. After that we played 3 hands of Dominoes (the cards version).

Friday is Pieday and today we’re having Beef & Peppers pie. The casserole filling has been on since about 1pm so should be nicely tender and really flavoursome.

Just heard about the attack in Glasgow – horrible news. Hope it doesn’t turn out to be race related.

Change of rules for the Film Club on Friday nights from now on, we’re watching through the Middle Earth chronicles starting, of course, with the first Hobbit film.

Oh my word, £500m invested in a failing, UK registered, satellite company in the hope of turning their space-based internet into a sat-nav system because the loons in government would rather spaff money up the wall supporting their ideologically nationalistic agenda than collaborate on a truly world-beating system that UK scientists and engineers were fully involved in because it happens to be an EU project. Ludicrous. This is the immaturity of the present government.

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Thursday June 25th, 2020

Very little to say today, I’ve spent the whole day in bed feeling ill. I don’t know what I’ve picked up but it’s affected my digestive system as I’ve felt sick all day. I must be ill, though, as I’ve slept on and off all day while listening to the end of Feet of Clay and most of the BBC dramatisation of Good Omens.

Today’s Wellbeing Week challenge from the girls school is an Environment Day and “E” planted out some mini-planters she made from drinks bottles. I’ll take photos tomorrow when i hope to be feeling better.

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Wednesday June 24th, 2020

Slept really well right through until nearly 6 today – no early morning cramp thankfully. We got up for breakfast then the girls started decorating their Showstopper entries for the Dunblane High School Bake Off (part of Wellbeing week). Their entries look superb (and taste excellent too).

Just been watching PMQs and from the llittle I know BoJo the Clown has bareface lied 3 times. Germany has a working Trace App (I’ve friends in Germany who have confirmed this, and that the App is multi-lingual); Scotland hasn’t U-Turned on schools (the education minister stated August 13th as the return date. What’s changed is the ‘hope’ that this will be full time for all children instead of blended home/school. Schools still have good contingencies for blended learning is all students in school proves unfeasible in August). It’s not just Labour council’s facing bankruptcy and difficulties meeting basic services, let alone specialist COVID services (Kier Starmer quoted from a leader of a Tory council and Boris continued to state Labour councils). He needs to own up to the mistakes, learn form them and put forward inclusive, collaborative plans for recovery. Tory government’s have long held a hatred of local authority (of any colour). It’s strange that the party which promotes the doctrine of small state wants everything centralised under it’s direct control. This is completely alien to the Tory party of old which used to promote local democracy as a way of keeping central government manageable. Still, he has often said he likes to both have cake and eat cake.

“I” had feedback on the movie she made the other week for her Media course. The feedback was very positive (and the video is excellent).

The next phases of the lockdown in Scotland have been presented in a reasonably easy to follow graphical style so we can see what to expect when.

It was a lovely day for walking the dog today. She managed to be in and out of the river the whole way round pretty much and she behaved really well when we met other dogs.

This afternoon’s game was Brit Quiz and, one again, “E” managed to win.

We’re having Chicken Stroganoff for dinner. Another recipe from when we lived in Indonesia. This time frmo the chicken book. This is a super easy verssin which tastes delicious. We’re having it with rice and vegetables.

Film Club today is The Commitments. Not watched this for years, the girls never have. It’ll be interesting, though, if they recognise the songs since we do have the soundtrack and that is ploayed faily often. “E” should recognise Chief O’Brien from Star Trek!

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Tuesday June 23rd, 2020

Woken at 5 this morning with cramp in my left calf – agony. Managed to doze and had a cup of tea up until 8 when we got up for breakfast.

This week is Wellbeing Week for the girl’s school and tomorrow is Bake-Off. They’re both taking part in that so they’ll both be making their basic cakes today so they can decorate their showstoppers tomorrow. No advance notice of what they’re planning other that “E” is using a chocolate cake base and “I” is going for lemon cake. Between the cakes, the caramel cake and the cobbler, we’ll be sweet-treated out this week.

It’s another pretty miserable day today. Bin day, and it’s Blue and Grey so general rubbish (grey) and plastic and metal (blue). It’s quite satisfying how little plastic waste and general waste we through away each fortnight now. I don’t think we work particularly hard to avoid buying plastic packaging (we do when we can but we don’t look too hard) so it’s a sign that the supermarkets are reducing the amount they’re using. I’m also quite pleased with how little food waste we create compared to the horror stories you hear on the news about the massive amount of waste we produce as a country. We have a small compost caddy in the kitchen and we empty it about 3 times every 2 weeks (there’s usually only 3 compostable caddy-sacks full in the compost bin each fortnight. Quite pleased with that. It’s mainly teabags and peelings. We hardly ever have to throw anythign major out and we’re careful with how much we cook so there’s little meal waste too – when there are leftovers we try to use them up for lunches. It’s not difficult so I don’t understand why so much good food is left to go to waste. It was watching this from the BBC on facebook that got me thinking about our waste output.

https://www.facebook.com/1143803202301544/posts/3813643835317454/

Thursday is Environment day for Wellbeing week so “E” and I took a quick cycle ride to Dobbies to pick up some bedding plants we can put in some planters we’ve upcycled from drinks bottles. Got some Pansies and some Violas. They look lovely, we’ll plant them out on Thursday afternoon.

“E” and I took the dog for a walk today while “I” made her cake for tomorrow. We managed to stay dry on the walk, the biggest stress was that the swans were close inshore just where “C” usually goes into the river. She was not very happy! The sky looked really angry.

When we got back, “E” made the butter cream for the centre of her cake while “S” was making Lemon Curd to go around “I”s cake. After both cakes were finisheed (apart from the decorating) we played Skip-Bo then it was time for making dinner.

We’re having chicken casserole tonnight, largely, but not literally, based on this recipe.

This evening’s Film Club will be Star Trek Nemesis.

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Monday June 22nd, 2020

Up for breakfast and to a rather miserable looking day – that’s ok though because I want plenty of rain to wash the lawn feed into the grass. “S” and “E” were planning to cycle to Tesco today to pick up the things they need for Wednesday’s Dunblane Hugh School Bake-Off challenge as part of Wellbeing Week. The weather was too bad so I ended up driving them.

When we got back, “S” started making Caramel Cake (this week’s afternooon treat but another which takes a while as it needs to be made in stages. She uses a BBC recipe:

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/11522/millionaires-shortbread?utm_source=app

After lunch, the girls and I took the dog for a walk (it managed to not rain while we were out).

It seems to be a day of cooking today as, once we got back from taking the dog for a walk I prepped dinner (Butternut Squash Gratin as it’s Meat-Free Monday) and this week’s pudding (Slow Cooker Cobbler) both of which need quite a bit of cooking.

https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/squash-mustard-gruyere-gratin?utm_source=app

Once they were in Slow Cooker and Oven we played a few hands of Uno for Game Time today.

Dinner was delicious, of course, and we were quite early starting tonight’s Film Club so were able to squeeze in two movies:

Passengers is an excellent film, X-Men 3 not so much.

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Sunday June 21st, 2020

Woke really early this morning (4:30) but did manage to get to sleep again about 6:30 for anotjher hour or so. Eventually up at 9 to make a Full Scottish for breakfast (like a Full English but with potato scones instead of hash browns and with haggis and square sausage added.

Read an interesting article on the Open Democracy website this morning entitled “Why Does England Vote Tory”. It makes some interesting points about how, on actual preferred policy, England is almost as left-of-centre as Scotland and Wales (on the NHS, on taxation to provide services, on social welfare, on the re-nationalisation of key public utilities, LBTQ+ rights and even on immigration) but while Scotland and Wales have consistently voted against the Tories since the 1830s, England has consistently voted for them (with a small number of extended interludes). The article argues that the difference is the conflation of English and British and the linking of English Nationalism and sense of Nationhood to British Imperialism. A significantly larger proprortion of English thinki the Empire was more a force for good than bad compared with Scots and Welsh. The fact that for 200 years or more, those from England have used the words English and British (and England and Britain) as if they are one and the same and, therefore, completely interchangeable allows the Scots and Welsh to consider their part in Empire more openly. They can celebrate their achievements while acknowledging the dark aspects as it is clear it was always an “English” project. By holding on to a belief in the ‘goodness’ of Empire and the fundamental importance of the Monarchy to that Imperial past (while the Monarchy is still supported widely in Scotland, it’s not part of National identity), subconsciously England also holds on to the belief that the upper class has a ‘right’ to lead. My own opinion now, I think the breakup of the UK is inevitable because of these issues. I don’t see how Scotland and Wales (and I think Northern Ireland is also heading in this direction) will settle for a ‘National Government’ that doesn’t represent it’s people. Perhaps, if there was a proper discussion with England about what English ‘nationalism’ means (away from the thugs of Britain First and the EDL) and a true consideration of what direction they want the country to move in, and a change in the political landscape to allow an ‘untainted’ party through the middle then there might be some hope. I don’t believe the economical arguments which won the day in 2014 will hold again for 2 reasons. Firstly the Scottish economy has changed, oil is no longer such a big player and is recognised as being of the past. The future of power generation is renewables and the Scottish environemtnand location places the country in an ideal place to capitalise. Scotland is also, in the longer term, ideally placed to be able to export drinking water to an increasingly drought-ridden south of England. At the same time, Westminster has trashed the UK economy through the self-harm of an unnecessarily hard Brexit deal and through constantly increasing debt even before the COVID bailout. Secondly is Brexit. Scotland doesn’t want it. It’s interesting to see how proudly the EU flag is displayed against funded projects North of the borader compared to the South. Wales voted Out, but the analysis carried out by Cardiff University was quite conclusive that the ‘Welsh’ Wales vote was remain while the ‘English settled’ Wales vote was leave and carried more weight. Northern Ireland doesn’t want Brexit as they are already seeing the strain on their economy and, most significantly, on the Good Friday agreement. If the UK is not a partnership on equal terms, if the bigger brother gets their way completely just due to size then the smaller nations need to ask if they are part of a Union or are simply colonies or dominions. If the English people want more socially democratic policies then there needs to be a party that they can vote for which promotes such policies without the historical baggage which seems to put people off voting Labour or Liberal Democrat and which, at least, can frighten the Tories enough to pull them back to the centre ground in the same way that UKIP pulled them to the right or at best can produce a change of governance in Westminster. As a final point, it’s telling, in my opinion, that the devolved administrations all offer proprtional representation which produces, odly enough, representative and largely consensual government while Westminster is wedded to First Past the Post which allows an 80 seat government majority on 43% of the vote and leaves a majority of the country feeling unrepresented in government. I don’t see how this can be sustainable in the long term either within a current, none-federal UK model.

https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/opendemocracyuk/why-does-england-vote-tory/

Took the dog for a walk pretty much straight after lunch in between the rain showers. The girls school is holdoing their end of school year Wellbeing Week this week and it starts today with Exercise to Energise day. To clock up the 1 hour we went on the longer walk. It was quite nice while we were out but the grass was really wet and very long in some parts of the walk to we ended up soaking wet by the time we got back.

Put down some feed & seed on the lawn when we got back from the walk – hoping and expecting a lot of rain over the next few days so hopefully it’ll all get properly washed in. After that, “E” and I prepared the dinner. For Sunday Roast we’re having Broccoli and Cheddar Chicken rolls.

https://tasty.co/recipe/broccoli-cheddar-chicken-rollups

A bit of faff to prepare but now they’re in the oven they smell fantastic. When we’d finished it was (late) game time and we played Sequence.

Now finishing off dinner – Roast potatoes, roast onion, yorkshire pudding and mixed veg (of course). The rolled chicken has unrolled in the oven.

This evening’s Film Club is an absolute classic – Citizen Kane.