Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 63 – the Ninth

I passed Higher Maths. Not an inconsiderable achievement, it was the extent of my mathematical career. Could I resolve equations today? I doubt it very much. It’s also the case that one of the things I most easily remember from Maths was the afternoon of nonsense the head of department allowed us when he substituted The Properties of Nine for a regular lesson. As you can see above 3+6 = 9. 36 = 4×9 and 3+6 = 9 45 = 5×9 and 4+5 = 9 – and so on. There’s lots more if you google The Magic of Nine. Circles in particular throw up lots of interesting oddities.

DH’s pals have been finding wonderful, and maybe forgotten, Georgian mansions on their Edinburgh exercise rambles. Some of them in better condition than others, but maybe we’ll be walking out, too, to take a look. Their spacing throughout the south of the city shows how rural Edinburgh must still have been when they were built.

Read Helen Alexander’s reflections for Ascension Sunday, worked on the WIP, lost at scrabble and completed the edge of the new jigsaw. Socially distanced visit from family bearing gifts of food. Finished Friday’s Child (thank goodness) and began Arabella. Journeyed to Vinsobres and Culkein, Stoer. Swapped the winter clothing for the summer as it is warmer.

Might need to get up earlier.

What have you found on your extended wanderings – physical and internet?


Courting the Countess, Edinburgh based historical romance.

Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 62 – Yet Again

Wonder who’s won the Order of the Turkey this week?

For a more uplifting start to your week, avoid the media frenzy and join the parishioners of Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church online.  Here

It is a struggle to keep on keeping on and it is a bigger struggle when there seems to be one law for the powerful (political or wealth) and a different one for the rest of us. One of my mother’s favourite sayings was ‘Two wrongs don’t make a Right.’ Sometimes it’s really, really hard to remember that, but we do have to.

Lovely chats with family members. Good walk around the area in the early evening. Hood up as rain was blowing in the wind. Finished Friday’s Child. Curious book and not one of my favourites, but Ferdy Fakenham lives in the memory. Excellent progress with the WIP. Hope it reads back as well as I remember. Poor score in the Guardian Quiz…

Into Week 10 we go. What are you most looking forward to on the other side?


Lockdown Diary -2020 – 61 – Silence on the Airwaves

There’s an off-site, underground fault on our telephone cable which caused us to have large parts of the day disconnected yesterday. I thought I might have to miss an entry. Worse, DH, thought he might miss the online bridge: arrangements for a Sub were in hand. However, crowing cocks and pigeon post are stood down as the engineers got us up and running again. Thank you.

Out of lockdown is a big thing and where our schools are concerned, emotionally charged. There aren’t school-age children in this house, but many along the street and also in our wider family. Besides, education is something we’re all interested in. Cameron Wylie, retired Principal of George Heriot’s School writes a blog, A House in Joppa, and some of you might find his wisdom helpful. Try here. The entry is Damned Either Way.

Much enjoying an advance copy of a friend’s second book although I’m having to read it on the pc as I can’t get my kindle to behave where the pdf is concerned. It feels good to be ‘doing’ something. Second books are notoriously hard for writers to get out there. You’ve learned a lot about structure and composition, but you have to add in house-style (in advance) and expectations.

Enjoyed two telephone calls from friends yesterday, great fish and the last of the chocolate cake. Next up might be a lime drizzle: I have the limes.

Where are your horizons this weekend?



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 60 – Steady as She Goes

Sixty days and counting. The prospect of seeing some of the family I haven’t seen, except on screen, for two months, makes me light-hearted. At the same time, looking out at the trees thrashing around in a warm wind, makes me cautious, too. Now really is the time to keep the ship steady.

Biobank have been in touch. Would I be prepared to be part of their research into the virus, please? And would I ask any adult children and grandchildren not living in my house. Of course, I would. I have had so much interest out of being a Biobank participant over the years. The selection will be random and although I’m now in the pool, I might not become one of the swimmers. Time will tell.

Followed a usual route to the local Sainsbury’s yesterday and found Elliott’s open on Sciennes Road. Their Instagram is here 

Scroll down to find the menu of what’s available. Pastries anyone?

Apologies for the chaotic publishing on Facebook yesterday. A combination of a technical problem with my site and another with my FB author page led to all sorts of false starts. It posted eventually. We’ll see how today’s goes.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 59 – Hibernation

After the Night Before

I slept in! How, when not doing much, can one do that?

Sadly, and while doing huge amounts of wonderful work, this week brings the news that our Royal Lyceum Theatre is in hibernation until next spring. There are several articles explaining the thinking behind this sad decision. Try Alex Wood here

I think the auditorium of the Royal Lyceum is probably my favourite public space and therein lies the problem. Stopping the spread of deadly diseases doesn’t involve people sitting in close proximity for an hour or so at a time.

However, BBC Arts Culture in Quarantine will premiere David Greig’s new play, Adventures With the Painted People on Sunday 7th June at 7.30 on Radio 3. Written for Pitlochry Festival Theatre’s 2020 season, this is a joint production with the Lyceum. Be there.

Okay, and in Stenhouse towers: new jigsaw; all but giving up on Friday’s Child; pre-publication copy of friend’s novel arrived in inbox Yay!; won the scrabble thanks to masterly use of ‘cartels’; armchair travelling to Spain and Orkney.

What’s the biggest miss on your calendar?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 58 – At the Back of the Cupboard

Hand Embroidered Whitework

I think many people will have been turning out cupboards and oo-ing and ahh -ing over some of the items they find there. Not all of it will be the unmistakable quality of the whitework pictured above, but there might be something you’re pleased to see.

My own best find, apart from the innumerable things I put ‘in a safe place’, was a pair of dress shoes. They emerged from their shop box and a layer of dust into the light last winter when I’d just decided ‘no more high heels’ and was I glad to see them. Also bewildered. I had and still have no clear recollection of their purchase.

On the other hand, in the kitchen, there are several shelves I just can’t reach the back of unless I get out a step. So, DH and I enjoyed another pre-dinner drink watching the world go by with some lovely Italian oil and balsamic from a bottle only a year past the BBE date. Many thanks to whoever added that to a Christmas hamper.

Had a Zoom meeting in the morning, a chat with one of the family pre-lunch and watched Colin Firth, Rupert Everett and Judi Dench ace it The Importance of Being Ernest. Also began to exercise the tension in the WIP. How much easier it all would be if I planned it.

Anything coming out of your cupboards?

Courting the Countess


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 57 – Stamina Needed

When in paradise, Saladero Eco Lodge, Costa Rico, do not walk under the coconut palms. Instead follow this trail to your hut or tent created by planting the tops of pineapples as kerbstones. Waste not, want not.

Hoilidays may come again and in the meantime if you’re a facebook person, Saladero have been posting links to the wildlife cameras on the estate. This morning’s one shows a huge variety of ground dwelling fauna going about their business in early 2020.  Watching it, I could almost think I was listening to the howler monkeys calling…

We all want the exit strategy to mark an end game but the nature of mutating viruses makes that unlikely. Needing to refresh a little yesterday, I chose a slightly different walk in the evening. The street had smaller front gardens, often with a car parked in them, and different flora to the big trees and shrubs growing in the mansionhouse gardens. Some of it very pretty. One rather untended front garden had the loveliest yellow columbine growing a bit like a weed. Dare I go back and ask for some seed later in the year?

Zoom-ed into the badminton ladies. Forgot it was Victoria Day and had an abortive trip to the butcher’s! Duh! Began to get into Friday’s Child, the current GH, which had been annoying me a little.

If you’re in need of some Scottish based contemporary fiction, try Capital Writer, Kate Blackadder’s Family Stories box set. Kate has written several serials for People’s Friend and has collected three of them in this set at £3.99 for your kindle.



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 56 – Eight Weeks is Two months

The seasons are rolling round and many more people than usual are taking to their bikes. Gardens are currently displaying  lilacs in full bloom. We have this pretty pink one.

But there are innumerable shades of, well, lilac. Two different ones are visible in neighbouring back gardens and the garden on the corner always has a lovely white one blooming close to their vibrant yellow laburnam. We had one of those but it was blown over in a spring gale.

Like many others, we had notice last week of yet more cancellations. Finding the confidence to do any of these things when life starts up again might be a challenge.

Yesterday, saw the 3rd trip of lockdown to the local BIG supermarket. Necessary for the few, very few, things I can’t get in local shops, the wait to get into the shop took twice as long as last time. However, I walked straight up to a till when I’d been round. Also, some of the family were shopping there, too. Unexpected in the city and so joyful. I suppose those of you living in smaller places have more hope of a chance encounter.

Armchair travellers were in Orkney yesterday. Without the cruise ship buses, Skara Brae was an up-close experience then.

I discovered this website yesterday when their twitter arm approached my twitter arm (What? Ed) It’s about shopping local which, as you know, I’m in favour of. Localburgh

Later in the week, should you fancy a beer, why not try out The Beer Cave. Their list for delivery, some wines, too, goes up usually on FB on Thursday morning. DH is enjoying.

Off out to the local butcher where I hope the gannets will have left some chicken for me to buy. What’s the highlight of your day, today?



Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 55 – Start The Week

Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church Sunday Online worship

Yesterday, the cake tins were empty, so I set about making my late Mum-in-Law’s favourite chocolate cake. She used to post them to her children and my husband remembers friends helpfully coming to tell him he was in receipt of a parcel that looked as if it might be a chocolate cake. I can understand the anxiety of his friends not to miss out.

Again experiencing the localised shortage of Bran Flakes and may have to venture to a BIG supermarket. Our trawl through the accumulated slides has now reached 1985. Will we continue after lockdown is lifted? We’ve been to Iran and Umbria, southern England and France in the last few days. Always with sorties to the Western Isles and innumerable Scottish mountains (DH and his pals, not me).

Ambitions for the coming week? I’d really, really like to write something publishable.

Had conversations with a botanical friend and also with crime novelist Olga Wojtas. Olga’s quirky crime fiction is worth your attention.

Try Miss Blaine’s Prefect and the Vampire Menace.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 54 – A Completion of Sorts

The artwork is by Israel Dov Rosenbaum 1877 and is called Design for the Eastern wall. It made a very satisfactory jigsaw as there was so much detail. Unlike the earlier ones of acres of Scottish bog and blue sky with the odd cloud, these animals, birds and artifacts all offered a clue for the compiler.

A completion of sorts for these strange times. DH and I sat around the table in the front window with a glass before supper, for a couple of nights, and watched the world go by. Not quite a street café in Munich or Palermo, but a change in the current limited routine.

Enjoyed some fresh smoked haddock from the fish van.