Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 69 – Blue Sky

Today is Pentecost – fifty days after Easter in the Christian Calendar. Mayfield Salisbury Parish Church is again offering online worship and you can find it here.

The ongoing blue sky situation in Edinburgh is unusual. Normally we disappear under a haar after a couple of days, but not so at present. It’s lovely and warm and relaxing to be able to wander about in summery clothing and keep the doors and windows open. Sadly, like the camel above, we’re really still in lockdown as the virus has not gone away but receded. We need to exercise a measure of restraint in our return to what we were used to.

With that in mind the family had an afternoon tea by Zoom yesterday. Some new haircuts were admired: some garden planting, too. Our takeaway box from Mimi’s, Leith, was full of delicious bakery. We both went out yesterday but no rendezvous although I met some neighbours on my walk. People do seem to be taking it slowly.

I won at scrabble, managed to place around a dozen bits of the jigsaw (it’s hard) and have finished Arabella.

What speed are you at?




Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 68 – Home Thoughts

Des Res World War II

Many of us will have spent the time at home planning refurbishment. Maybe there’s a tap that leaks, floor tiles lifting, a door that jams. Maybe it’s just that you don’t like the wallpaper any more. For most of us, that’s the norm.

Into my facebook timeline this morning, dropped an invitation to visit an online shop. Not to buy clothes there’s no prospect of wearing just yet, but to buy chocolate. Very small bars, or chocolate coins are offered by Shelter as an incentive to make a donation. They see a need among those of us who don’t have a tap to leak, a floor tile to lift or even a door to jam. Charities are having to think up ever more interesting and ingenious methods of achieving donations particularly as the charity shops which have supported them are closed. Many of those reading this will have done their bit, but if you would like a donating idea, try here.

An irritation for me over the last few days has been the stratospheric number of spam comments on this blog at post 54 A completion of Sorts. It features the Design for the Eastern Wall jigsaw. I discovered the ’empty spam’ button this morning so it’s less of a nuisance than it was. Any wordpress blogger any idea why the spam should jump from none/3 to 52?

So DH and I headed out in the car for the first family visit carrying our own plates, knives and mugs. Road works were operational and plentiful, but even so, we had a lovely visit with two of the family.

Continuing to enjoy eating in the front room watching the world go by. Hello Fresh arrived, a day later than usual, as they had supply probs. DH won at bridge. World tour was back in Rome. Wearing summer weight clothes. Even I’ve noticed how warm it is. BT spent two and a half hours here yesterday. Hope we’re now sorted. I will have to make marmalade says the little voice at the back of my head…

How was Day 1 out of – where you are?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 67 – Babysteps

Devil Baby, Melbourne Festival 2011

Reading from his paper this morning DH informed me that 100 people had tested positive for the virus after attending a socially distanced, and permitted, church service in Frankfurt. And so we see the devil is in the detail…

BT are back and on-site. For reasons I don’t understand, the internet is working but the telephone isn’t. A major drawback of living in an old house is the amount of disused cabling and the number abandoned sockets. Woops! I see the internet has come out in sympathy. Should have kept quiet.

Till tomorrow,


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 66 – Exit Strategy, Phase One

About a year ago, this little guy visited our back garden. I didn’t see him arriving – a bit like coronovirus lockdowns – but there he was. Several hours and many phone calls later, there he still was. The azaleas were  a little thinner.

One of the phone calls was to the RSSPCA who were polite but firm. They didn’t interfere with healthy animals as it could lead to them suffering a heart attack. “You’ll be surprised by how high he can jump,” the official said by way of reassurance.

And, so it proved. He did jump into next door’s paved back yard by way of the roof of their garden shed. My heart was in my mouth – had he broken a leg? No. He took seconds to decide this one wasn’t for him, and jumped back into our garden and out over the other wall and hasn’t been seen since. The walls are between 6-8 feet high.

Having watched Bambi’s performance, I understand why deer fencing is so tall.

(And the point? Ed)

The point is don’t go mad, folks. Lockdown restrictions may seem a bit like deer fencing – but they’re there for a purpose, too.

We had a scrumptious dinner through the The Little Chartroom and you can see next week’s menu here


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 65 – Garden

In the beginning was the soil and it benefits from a little enriching compost in part created by kitchen waste.Coming soon is this wonderful yellow climber. A rose with heavy bunches of pretty yellow flowers, it doesn’t cut, but looks wonderful on the wall.In full magnificent bloom and with the closest I usually get to a selfie (see bottom right), this rhoddie is a delight.Just going over is this wistaria bought when it looked like a knitting needle and now so vigorous it takes a lot of pruning to keep it under control.

We’ve been very lucky to have the garden to escape to throughout the lockdown and I’m particularly lucky because DH is the gardener. All I have to do is set aside the peelings and wield the secateurs.

What’s been your main escape?


Lockdown Diary – 2020 – 64 – That Early Bird

Has somebody told the birds Midsummer is galloping towards us? Is that why they’re shouting the odds at 4am? Normally I go back to sleep, but the last couple of mornings I haven’t managed that until nearly 6am so I yawn as I type.

Message from family member looking for pizza recipe from his youth. Curiously DH and I were looking that up recently so I know exactly where it is now. It was a permanent feature of the kitchen noticeboard for ten years.

Great excitement yesterday when the window cleaner’s brush on its extending pole landed on my study window. Although he couldn’t go round the back, it is nice to have the front glass gleaming.

Further great excitement as the RNA announced its virtual Conference programme and the raising of a glass to our 60th Anniversary Year. Also an article in this morning’s Scotsman about how the Botanics is beginning to rev up in the expectation of re-opening. Cannot wait…

Off out to pay the papaer bill. Three Cheers for all those little and local shops who’ve kept us going. Lovely gift of hot smoked salmon bought by a family member through another local initiative, The Stockbridge Market. Together with the Grassmarket Market and the Leith Market, they’re operating a click and collect scheme. See their website Here


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.