Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 38 – We Hear You

The gang of teenage Herring gulls irritating the neighbourhood has been around for a while now. I don’t have a pic of a herring gull, but these cranes created by the kitchen on board a boat on Hulong Bay are way more elegant – and a lot quieter.

Background noise is always with us and even in these unnaturally quiet days of lockdown, there are rustles. Let’s hope the whispering campaign to ease the social distancing doesn’t become a bellowing before we’re ready to cope.

Shopping for a neighbour and a lovely family chat were yesterday’s highlights. Almost finsihed the daytime book which is Death At Eden’s End by Jo Allen. Who dunnit?

Cooked a new chicken and chorizo recipe from yesterday’s Woman’s Weekly. V. good. DH played online bridge and went to a Gotomeeting.

Sad to learn the DC Thomson publication, The Weekly News is to cease. 165 years young – a goodly innings.




Lockdown diary – 2020 – 37 – Nettle Soup

Bloomsbury Square Gardens

This picture may have been taken to mark the release of Daisy’s Dilemma. For the avoidance of doubt, it doesn’t contain nettles.

I’d seen some pictures online of delicious looking nettle soup and this was prompt enough for the DH to bring back a bucketful of fresh nettles yesterday afternoon. Together with an onion, a couple of potatoes, butter, some homemade chicken stock, a sprinkling of grated nutmeg and a glug of sherry, they made a truly delicious soup. Served with a dollop of yogurt, it was thick, dark green and smoother than many green soups I’ve previously tried. There are several recipes to be found in google.

Queued for twenty minutes to get into the bank yesterday. The lady two behind me, waited seven. C’est la vie and, yes, I am grateful they’re open.

So, now face masks are sort of recommended. Hmn!

Having managed to get shampoo in my eye this morning, I’m not going to linger online till it feels better.

Anyone tried nettle soup?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 36 – Ongoing

A secret garden

I got back to making a few phone calls yesterday. People are pleased to hear from one, but the strain is beginning to tell in some quarters. No tears although I sense they’re not far below the surface in some cases – I know I feel a little wobbly when I see the granddaughter’s bright smile in a photograph.

However, I enjoyed taking part in the Edinburgh Writers’ Club’s alphabet story challenge. Loved the BBC’s Strictly dance challenge compilation and the jigsaw is nearly finished. I’m making progress on the TBR. My book from the order service at Monifeith BookHouse arrived and the Toad in the Hole was a skyscraper! I had a long chat with friends on the way back from the shops. They are shielding so it’s a particularly long time for them.

Also, whisper it, I tidied my desk.

Throughout all of this many artistic folk have been trying to keep our spirits up. The lovely team at Pitlochry Festival Theatre are among them and my photo at the top is a nod to the Plantfinders’ Garden accessed from the theatre car park. A wonderful haven and one to add to your list for ‘after’. Today Pitlochry’s Rachael McAllister is singing us a cake. Go here




Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 35 – Visitors

Regular readers of this blog will possibly remember this young visitor from around a year ago. We’d not had one before and we haven’t had one since. Yesterday the bird feeder was thronged when an almighty panic set in.

“Come this way and look at what we have here,” said the DH. And what we have here was a magnificent, if predatory, visitor perched on the railings. Probably a male sparrowhawk dropping in from the large cemetery nearby. Possibly a kestrel? Even at such close quarters, it was hard to tell the actual colours. The garden birds are still missing this morning.

We did have a sparrowhawk decades ago. It brought its lunch, pigeon, to feast on the roof of next door’s shed much to the fascinated horror of the family. Two weeks ago there were feathers scattered over the garden path. I suppose they’ve all got families to feed.

The heatwave continues. DH won the scrabble by 2 points. There were recounts. Walked to the nearest big store yesterday to buy the items, not many, I can’t get locally. Finished the book group book. Slow progress on jigsaw. Full of admiration for all the folks doing a 2.6 something to help the charities losing out as there’s no London Marathon.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 34 – Holidays

A year ago I was on holiday on The Silk Roads where this picture was taken. Earlier this week, a friend asked where she could read anything I’d written about that trip. I haven’t written anything much. There is a great deal of erudite, academic writing about the silk roads and I have no expertise to add to that. However, I did enjoy exposure to the different cultures of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Holidays may come again. This being Sunday and for some a Holy Day, here’s the link to this Sunday’s worship from Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church. It can be accessed here.

In a little feedback, a friend has told me how friends of hers appreciated discovering about Scotland’s Gardens Scheme’s virtual tours.

Reading Hadley Freeman’s article in yesterday’s Guardian Weekend, was a comfort. It is, she asserts, okay, in fact good, to chat about and do things not prompted or influenced by the virus. It won’t make it go away, but it will let your human nature peep through.

Okay. We got more than 2 in the quiz. I finished the bog on the 2nd jigsaw. DH watered the garden. (In April? Ed) Great gossip with elderly neighbour (see Hadley above). Excellent progress with Book Group book and chat from one of the family’s households. Watched the christening scene from the Mariinsky’s Sleeping Beauty, free for a limited time on U-tube.

Daughters of the Lake by fellow Capital Writer, Jane Riddell, is Free to download till

April 29th Get your copy here

Three’s A Crowd, Kate Blackadder’s first anthology of previously published magazine stories is also free to download from today for five days. get your copy here


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 33 – Arrival of the Ladies

Gala dinner Library

This diary was to record the small positives and yesterday, in the face of a setback, there was one such. She’s called Heather and she’s the first female butcher I’ve encounterd in my local shop despite being a customer there for nearly 40 years.

However, you’re all agog to learn whether I made the shortbread and if so how was it. Well, I did. Like the lady who recorded the recipe, I found it needed a bit longer in the oven than recommended. I suspect recording country recipes is the ultimate justification for that sentence on the packets of ready-meals. All cooking appliances vary. These are recommendations only. It tasted very nice and with practice will become better fired.

Just a marker: JB Priestley’s great mid-twentieth century play, An Inspector Calls, arises out of  the apparent suicide by drinking disinfectant, of destitute shop assistant, Eva Smith. Disinfectant is for surfaces!

Good progress with the book group book, now my after lunch read. Moved on among the Heyers to The Reluctant Widow. Installed a mountain range in the jigsaw. Met a local friend while out. She’s really knowledgeable about trees and told me the name of my favourite one in the district. It’s a Crack Willow and is not, apparently, commonly found in town.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 32 – Scotland’s Gardens

Like so much else this year, Scotland’s Gardens’ Scheme gardens cannot be shared by the visiting public. However, you can enjoy a virtual tour of many of them. The family, knowing how much pleasure we’ve had from gardens’ visits in the past, shared this info today.

Virtual Garden Tours through Scotland’s Gardens’ Scheme are available here

Yesterday, I noticed a pink clematis in almost full bloom while out for my walk. The one across the road is just beginning to open. In several gardens the later white magnolia is starting to open, too. And then we’ll have the lilacs and the May blossom.

Two lots of friends in France are sending photos of their wonderful irises. This prompted the DH to hunt among his files for a collection of irises grown by a late friend in the Dordogne.

Caught a glimpse of Janette and Aljaz teaching an easy dance routine online. Might try it, but don’t hold your breath for the video. Have you taken up any of the online exercise routines?

Also saw a recipe for Shetland Shortbread online and might give that a go, too. You can find it here. That has a higher probability rating than the dance routine…


Lockdown Diary -2020 -31 – Realities

The reality of dieting for most of us is that we’re never going to look like this lovely lady.

However, the true reality of food consumption, is that we can make an effort and that effort will be appreciated by our hard-pressed joints, internal organs, clothing seams…

A global pandemic is not the time to lose sight of the over-arching realities of our more normal lives. It may be the time to cut ourselves a little slack, though.

Lindsay Braman, Therapist and Psycoeducator, posted on her Facebook page a hand written list of things we might do to get through each day of staying home. I thought it was insightful and you can judge for yourself here

The Beer Cave, Haymarket, continue to deliver throughout certain Edinburgh postcodes  and this week also have a new delivery of wine. See their Facebook page here

Made progress on the all new WIP. Received payment for the Pocket Novel – it’s a real thing, later in the summer. Started the new jigsaw. Finished Bath Tangle. Had some e-mail letters. Slept in. (Why? Ed)

How is it where you are?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 30 – Another milestone

Anne by Marte Lundby Rekaa

The Big 30 – another milestone.

Today’s pic by professional photographer and chronicler of RNA events, Marte, was taken on the night of a party in London. Remember them? Remember when?

That was a milestone for me as it marked the publication of Mariah’s Marriage and its inclusion in the Joan Hessayon Award. Didn’t win, but such is the camaraderie of the RNA, we all felt like winners.

So, gave up on the WIP yesterday – meantime. There’s something still askew and I’m not seeing it. Moving on from that milestone, I’m going back into the 19th century where I’m well read and quite comfy.

News of two babies safely delivered yesterday. Thanks to electronic media there were lovely pics of one of them.

We finished the jigsaw. I made good progress with Bath Tangle. The sun shone. The lilacs in next door’s garden ar on the point of bursting.


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 29 – Virtual Ladies non-threatening Badminton

Roman Girls

Before we get into any arguments, that’s a collective noun!

Enjoyed a Zoom half hour with some of the ladies from the badminton group. Among so many, there were happy moments and sad moments. It’s such a blessing, however, to be able to see people and keep in touch a wee bit with what’s going on in their lives.

When we come out of this, ladies of a certain age will have become grannies (again). The angst of not being able to cuddle that newborn almost seeps through the screen.

However, the purpose of this diary, long since lost, was to chronicle the behaviour of folk I encountered on my walks and to remind myself in years to come what happened when.

Yesterday, I met a neighbour bemoaning the gang of teenage gulls we’ve acquired this year: what a row. His wife with their dogs. A neighbour enjoying lunch in the sun. The butchers. A few random pedestrians. We’re all being good.

Supper was grilled. Much jigsaw was completed. Bath Tangle is improving now I’ve got to the bit where Ivo begins to fight back. Long chat with pal. Sent some puzzles to a friend and ordered a book from the family run The Book House, Monifieth . You can, too. go here

Also dealt with the re-cycling and I can hear the lorry outside as I type. Thanks, guys.