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  New favourite wellies and gloves on The Star Swag Blog.
  Boxing Day was a stroll on Seacliff Beach, and with the tide out, it was all about the strata.
  Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Thelma.  A Norwegian movie, good enough.
  The Husband and I watched A Man Called Ove.  A Norwegian movie, brilliant, I had tears, emotional and hilarious.  I knew fine well they were tugging at my heartstrings, and I loved them for doing it to me.
  The Husband and I watched Leave No Trace.  I was amazed at the amount of good decent American people portrayed in it, to a man and a woman they were all lovely.  I'm blaming Trump and his voters for me forgetting there are nice Americans.



  Merry Xmas.  My pressies are on The Star Swag Blog
  We rocked the vegetarian Xmas dinner this year.  Hoisin Duck Pancake, Haggis Canape and a Spring Roll for the starter platter.  Followed by a Chicken and Chorizo Paella with crusty breads and salad, then gorgeous sweets. Delicious, all meat-free, no animals were harmed in the making of this Xmas dinner.  Another fabulous family Xmas Day.  Merry Xmas all.
  Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Inversion.  An Iranian movie about a woman's life.  It was a bit boring.
    The Husband and I watched Black Panther.  Fabulous.  Loved the Stan Lee cameo.  Respect.



  Girls Night Out News.  I went to a hen party.  I have never in my life went to a hen party, despite being thrice married myself.  Turns out a hen party can be pretty much just a night out with the girls, one doesn't actually have to act like a prat.  This hen party began with dinner at Urban Cocktail Kitchen.  We wern't impressed.  On a Saturday night it was understaffed and woefully slow.  The bar queues stood a long while without movement and table service required many prompts.  Prompts to set the table, to take our drinks orders, to deliver the bill, to take the money, we eventually had to take it up to the bar ourselves.  The chicken caesar wrap and chips I had were nice enough but friends reported another dish lacked the sate flavour it was purported to be but was over-packed with chilies instead.  I also drank a Gin for the first time, this one came with Diet Cola, which isn't very usual from what I understand of Gin, but that was down to a friend getting a drinks order mixed up.  From there we went to the Balbardie where I participated in karaoke for the first time ever, with two friends and with mike in hand, I shouted Pulp's Common People, I know I was shouting because my voice was slightly croaky the next day.  The pub did join in, they cheered and applauded and a young woman high-fived me so I think it was successful.  Couple of days later and I've got symptoms of what's turned out to be a minor cold, I'm blaming it on being in the company of infectious people in pubs.
  The Big Sale Update.  Selling is still going very well though I think it's bound to slow a bit pretty soon.  It's been all about the Facebook Marketplace since I started there, Gumtree and Shpock are pretty rubbish really.  Running total is currently £1522.
  Lunch with the girls recently was at ASK Italian in Livingston. The risotto was a tad too salty and though the Gold Marshmallow Chocolate Cone with Cherry Sauce tasted very nice it didn't look quite as spectacular as the advertising that led me to temptation.  The company, the chit-chat and gossip were brilliant, I really enjoy the time out with the girls these days.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched A Ghost Story.  For all it's supposed deep message, it's a man in a sheet, supernatural and silly.
    I watched Western.  I was a bit bored to be honest.



  Blue eggs.  I ate a couple of blue hen's eggs for breakfast, didn't think it was weird, the eggs were delicious and the shells so pretty.  The blue eggs came from The Dad's new Legbars, a breed of chicken that lay blue eggs.  And I didn't even know hens could lay blue eggs.
    The Husband and I attended a talk, voluntarily.  Like a little study day we didn't have to attend, but rather, actually chose to be there.  I won't go into detail, it was Scottish independence related and very interesting and educational.
    The beautiful wild sea went too far this week when it filled my welly boots.  A walk along Seacliff Beach saw an unexpectedly big wave pull a sneaky wee fast move right up to our knees.  My focus was through a camera lens, I wasn't aware of what was happening below the skyline, the husband had no such excuse.  Swoosh, and very fortunate I wasn't knocked over with a drowned camera in my hand, could've been so much worse but I managed to stay on my feet.  The Husband had socks in socks, he removed his Hunter Welly Socks, they'd soaked up most of the wet, and he was left with his normal socks keeping his feet dry.  I just had socks, I was cold and wet, and just plain scared.  By the time we got back to the car my feet had stopped recognising the temperature, no skin tone pink, just white and red bits.  The Husband de-wellied and de-socked me then wrapped my feet in a super-soft fleece jacket.  My hero.
    Movie watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Glory.  Entertaining, great story-telling, and seriously upsetting.



  The Husband and I had a trip to Moffat and a toastie at The Rumblin Tum.  I won't lie, it wasn't as good as the toastie at Loch Trool.  It was OK but it wasn't delicious.  They offer salad OR crisps as a side, we asked for salad and crisps, just for the heck of it, there's a surcharge for salad and crisps, jesus.  Anyways, we saw the funny side.
  On our recent visit to Bruce's Stone in the Galloway Forest we picked up this Fox.  After much consideration and having watched Outlaw King a couple more times we have finally named him.  Forever more The Husband and I get to shout this routine while brandishing the Fox...
  "What's ma fuckin' name???"
  We're really enjoying this, perhaps more than we should.
  The Proclaimers á Íslandi that's why Mum's going to Iceland.  I got the hotel and flights booked, then with fingers hovering over the keyboard on the ticket release day, I got the Proclaimers tickets for the show at the Harpa in Reykjavik.  Excited.
    The Big Sale Update.  Selling is going very well, with Facebook Marketplace being the most successful shopping outlet.  So far I've made £826, and still got  loads more stuff to put up.  Iceland spending money.  What doesn't sell will be donated to charity.
    Retirement Positives. 1 - I've lost 16lbs since I retired, just an ordinary calories in/calories out type change in my eating habits.  I don't eat so much food when I'm not at work, at home there's days it's late afternoon before I realise I feel a wee bit hungry, at work I ate breakfast, lunch and dinner, out of habit and routine.  2 - When I was a fulltime working nurse I had little interest in the gossip, would go for my breaks on my own, there was nothing more annoying than other people talking.  Now I find if there's one thing I'm missing from a working life, it's the company, the chit-chat side of things.  So now I'm enjoying time with the girls.  This time to 1921 in Bathgate and a delicious halloumi and mushroom wrap, lovely chips too.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched A Quiet Place.  Interesting twist on the genre, it was OK. 
    The Husband and I watched You Were Never Really Here.  Good one.
    The Husband and I watched Before I Go To Sleep.  Enjoyable enough.
    The Husband and I watched In The Fade.  It's very good, there's a bit where I was actually sitting on the sofa applauding, I applauded, then there was applause in the movie, watch it, you'll understand.



  Star jumper on The Star Swag Blog.
  The Husband and I had a trip to Loch Trool to visit Bruce's Stane in the beautiful approximately 1 million tree big Galloway Forest.  This is a very pleasant area to drive through.  There's friendly staff at the Cafe and Visitor's Centre with bird feeding at bird tables right by the windows a thoughtful and pleasing touch.  A short drive along from the centre is Bruce's Stone, looking down on Loch Trool (just one of the 250 lochs in Galloway Forest Park).  The massive granite boulder commemorates Robert the Bruce’s victory over an English army in 1307 during the Scottish Wars of Independence.
  The Boy and me had a Mum And Son Night Out.  I think the last time we did this was for tapas in a Barcelona restaurant in 2006 when he was 13.  This time The Boy drove us to the Howden Park Centre for Scott Gibson, a Glaswegian comedian.  Mr Gibson got us both laughing, he was good, worked a small town, Thursday night audience well.  He's a great story-teller and very funny.
  The Big Sale.  I've put a load of stuff in boxes, stuff we don't use, stuff we don't need, stuff that's taking up room for no good reason.  My approach being, if I moved house I wouldn't be taking it with me, that stuff.  I've visited a car boot sale maybe twice in my life before, and I once, back in the '80's did a car boot sale as a seller and made several hundred £s.  It was the big one at Ingliston, but it no longer exists, so wondering what car boot sales are like nowadays we visited the one at Falkirk Football Stadium, and I spoke to a couple women sellers.  From what we saw and what the women said, we're thinking, not the way to go.  Therefore I've set up Shpock and Gumtree accounts and I'm slowly putting all the items up for sale on both.  I started with my Beanie Bear collection, 54 or 55 bears in total, I counted a few times, gave up, it was 54 or 55.  Seven were the larger Buddies.  A minute after I'd posted the ads offering the bears for sale individually I Facebooked then Twittered the news.  A minute after I tweeted it a fellow IndyYES Twitter person private messaged me, long story short, a lovely YES family from Perth bought the entire collection for £120.  There's absolutely no way I'd have sold them for that price at a car boot sale, no way, I'd have been lucky to sell maybe 2 and that would've been for 20p each.  A huge bonus was they sold to a YES family too.  So, off to a great start with the selling thing.
  Carrying on with the SALE, so far I've also sold three leather bags, three Penguin and three Monkey soft toys, a Rabbit soft toy, the Adam Ant autobiography audiobook CD set, a bracelet and two sets of earphones.  There's lots of sorting through stuff, measuring, writing descriptions, taking photos.  Was when I first noticed the John West promotional Grizzly Bear is a bit of a #HitlerBear.  I message The Boy.
    I've now put a batch of my items on Facebook Marketplace and after an evening of posting ads I get banned from Marketplace for being too good at it.  Un-be-bloody-lievable, bloody actual hell, I never heard the like.  Misusing the feature, by what? using the feature too quickly.  Of course I'm quick, I know how to work a computer and I'm a fast typer.  Perhaps my descriptions and photos are too good, I don't do anything unless I do it to the nth degree, they just don't know me very well.  You'd think not blocking me would be good for the planet (recycling/upcycling), good for me (I'm making a little cash) and good for them too!  Or why do they have a Marketplace?  You'd think they'd be happy with people using it, quickly or slowly,  I'm so, so, so, very, very, very annoyed at being held back here, I want to get on with it.
    Ladybird Update.  All the days I've been looking out for my Ladybirds, trying to figure out how many I have in my garden, spotting one or two here and there, trying to identify them individually, last time I counted, I had 8 identified individuals.  Today overwintering must be starting because in the space of 2 minutes I lost count, at least a dozen.  I'm happy, I have lots of 7-Spot Ladybirds, they're gathering for the big sleep.  Last year I purchased Ladybirds and released them in the Starry Towers garden, this is so informative, educational and quite frankly, exciting for me, I'm thrilled to bits.
    Netflix got me.  Had to be done, a month's free trial to get Outlaw King.  I've watched a few other movies to get my freebie's worth.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Outlaw King.  Bloody brilliant, both bloody and brilliant.  History to make the blood boil.
    The Husband and I watched The Shape Of Water.  Very good adult fairy tale.
    I watched Hot Girls Wanted.  Netflix movie about the dangers, pitfalls and throw-away nature of the porn industry as it sucks these young girls in, uses them then looses interest as a new batch arrive.
    I watched Amanda Knox. Netflix movie, very interesting to see the case from all angles not just the mainstream media's opinion.
    I watched I Am Jane Doe.  Netflix movie about and it's complicity in the human slave trade as young girls are used and abused with the people behind this website supporting and financially benefitting from, basically being pimps and human traffickers themselves.


  New bag on The Star Swag Blog.
  My retirement card from Nicola has been beautifully framed.  I can't explain how proud I am of this from the First Minister.  The card is still safely in one piece, I scanned and printed the writing page so no need to cut the card in two, and Nicola's handwriting will be protected from light damage in the long-term, just call me ingeniously smug.
    Went to see Singin' I'm No A Billy, He's A Tim at Bathgate Regal Theatre.  I'm so against sectarianism, and being an atheist, and knowing people of the orange order and  the connection to political values and affinities, it was difficult to let myself enjoy the humour, really was, sooo difficult.  It's a great play, the actors are fabulous, the audience reaction around me so telling.
    Council Tax.  In November 2007 we purchased the upstairs apartment and by December 2007 we were living in the now 2-storey house as one property.  I know, I have digital photographic evidence of the fact.  Many times since then a council tax assessor from the Valuation Joint Board visited and advised that the house was still two separate properties, stating we'd be getting the 10% discount on the upstairs as our second property and in this way I imagined he was doing us a favour whilst I feared what band the house would be re-banded at, because all these years I didn't know that when a property is re-banded it's at 1991 prices, not current day prices.  This year a different assessor visited, the other one had taken early retirement.  He immediately announced that Starry Towers is one property.  I was fearful, we had a discussion.  The old assessor was wrong all these years, the minute we began living in the property as one property it was one property, ie December 2007.  Perhaps I'd owe the council money, this was my fear.  The assessor said it would obviously be one way or the other but anyways it would be negligible either way and what if we agree to take it back to April 2018 and call it quits at that and it would save me digging out old photos (actually a very easy thing to do, they're all on an external hard drive in easily rifled through folders).  I was fearful as I've said, I agreed, OK, thank you.  Turns out, for this year alone, we've already received a refund of over £600.  The assessor has played fair and changed the change date to April 2008, we'll be receiving all the money they owe us since then, as soon as the paperwork is all signed off.  Result.
    The Boy's 2nd Left Lateral Meniscus Injury Update.  The Boy has been seen by an Orthopeadic specialist (thank you Scottish NHS).  He's having Physiotherapy, will receive an appointment for an MRI scan and be booked in for urgent key-hole surgery to that left knee.  After the surgery his knee will be back to normal mobility after a week or two, and back to playing football soon after that.  So, as long as the other knee doesn't go the same way, he's got a bright pain-free knee future ahead of him.



  Strappy heels on The Star Swag Blog.
  Out for Sunday lunch and evening cocktails in Edinburgh and I'm wearing magic sparkle shoes.  Friend C came up with the best comment for her Facebook photo "we both interpreted the ‘wear sparkly footwear’ memo differently".  Lunch was at Tigerlily and I forgot to get a pic of my fish cake starter, I remembered when the fish and chips arrived.  Nice decor.  We went on to Indigo Yard, Brewhemia and the Hebrides Bar.
    The Boy Jury Citation.  In 2013 The Boy did 2 weeks jury service.  He's been "randomly selected" every year since.  Of course for the 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017 citations he had grounds to be excused because of the 2 weeks he already performed (within a five year period), but now he's received his 6th jury service citation, just as he started an NHS apprenticeship.  We thought the apprenticeship would be grounds to let him escape another shot of jury duty but this didn't wash with the court people.  Good news though...the fact that he's currently off sick (on crutches and analgesics) from his apprenticeship placements (but still attending college because he really doesn't want to miss any of this important time) due to his 2nd left lateral meniscus injury to the knee, which is requiring Physio and he's got an appointment at Orthopeadics (probably for surgery), he's been given a reprieve and doesn't have to attend court...this time.  The lengths you have to go to to get out of jury service.  No doubt he'll be randomly selected in 2019.
    The Red Admiral used to be called the Red Admirable, I prefer it's old name.  This poor wee soul with damaged wings sat on a windowsill for a time yesterday, broken but not beaten, can still fly.
    I love my Roses, still blooming beautiful in October, they make photography so easy.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Deadpool 2.  Brilliant.



  Jeggings on The Star Swag Blog.
  Ladybird Update.  Today's 7-Spot Ladybird in the garden is Ladybird H, this is number 8 I've identified this Autumn, they've just got to be from my bought-in batch of 2017, I hope.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched A War.  Very good Danish movie.



  See this cooking with wine as an ingredient so you have to have a glass of the stuff while you're at it, well I'm just getting into giving it a try...the cooking and the drinking while cooking.  The paella turned out so delicious I'm thinking buy a dedicated giant paella pan and that's the Christmas Dinner 2018 main sorted.
    Box Set Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Spiral Series 6.  We love Spiral, hoping for many more series. 


  I took the big step of going to work.  It all just happened.  I was easily persuaded to go back when a colleague I like messaged me on the Sunday evening asking me to do a back shift working with her the next day.  I went in to provide a 2nd trained nurse, I know the patients, I know the ward, I could provide a good 2nd trained nurse in the situation and I fair enjoyed it, it was a bit of a treat.  While I was there a night shift became available so in the spirit of adventure I signed up for that too, my first night shift ever.  A night shift is different, you're the only trained nurse but if you don't actually work on the ward you don't have care plan type paperwork, DATIX investigations, roster planning and such like to catch up with, so there's not an awful lot to do.  I did the drugs and a few wee trained nurse type night jobs but other than that it's providing trained nurse cover and staying awake.  I managed to stay awake too, which surprised me.  The day before, I stayed in bed as long as possible, I got up and showered, did a few things like feed the birds and bring the bin in, then went back to bed about midday, I slept on and off until my alarm went off at 6pm.  I went in to work alert and all, the next day I lay on the sofa from about 9am till 1pm with 2 awake spells during that wee sleep catch-up.  By the next day I'm still recovering, night shift workers deserve their unsocial hour enhancement purely for willingly messing with their body clocks.
    Ladybird Update.  I've photographed 7 individual Ladybirds so far this Autumn, on the days I go to do a bit gardening, before long I meet a Ladybird and the secateurs get swapped for the Olympus/macro lens combo.  Here are the latest two.
    Ladybird 9th October 2018
    11th October Ladybird


  The All Under One Banner (AUOB) Edinburgh 2018 march was a great success, what a joyous atmosphere, beautiful Saltires everywhere, including on my thumbnails, and thousands and thousands of lovely, kind, selfless people, people who are thinking of each other and the future others.  Until you've walked in an independence march you don't know the collective wealth of love in Scotland.  We did the march, entered the park, sat around for a while listening to speakers and music while admiring the heavily Saltire-decorated scenery then decided to go for lunch, as we left the park marchers were still arriving.
    Lunch was at The Filling Station on the High Street.  Bit pricey chicken and blue cheese burger and chips, not the tastiest ever and a bit of that coleslaw was inedible but the chips were delightful.
    Ladybird Update.  I've spotted 5 individual Ladybirds this year, I know they're individuals because of the spots, they're all different.  The first 3 are below on 26/09/2018, here's the other two.  I'm hoping that there are many others that I just didn't set eyes on.
    2nd October 2018 Ladybird
    5th October 2018 Ladybird


  I've been awarded the highest of honours, a thank you retirement card from the First Minister of Scotland.  I might, at a massive push, do a bank shift, but really, I think my work there is done.
  Cat Incident Update.  Wee Lily White's owner has been found.  I went to a lot of bother, the Cat Protection people went to a lot of bother, the owner was informed by a woman who saw one of my posters in the village shop.  Oh well, at least she's going home, but not before the CP folks neuter and chip her, so if she comes around here again I'll kindly send her on her way knowing she's got a home near by and that she's not about to get pregnant.  I wonder what her real name is, but essentially, my work there is done.
    Butterflies are probably, for me, the most difficult of the insects to photograph, they're very flighty.  So I was pleased to capture some half-good Red Admiral pics and extra happy with the one that sat by my EU window sticker.


  There's been a Cat Incident.  On the evening of Thursday 20th September I'm home alone sorting through photos at the laptop wearing my old reading glasses, so later I did suppose I could've been mistaken, but around the livingroom door peeked a wee white cat face.  Then it was gone.  I searched the house, but no sign, did I actually see a white cat or was this the beginning of illness?  The next morning I opened the curtains in the guest bedroom and let out a wee squeaky squeal.  Lying in the windowsill sunshine was a white cat which promptly jumped down and hid under the bed for the rest of the morning. 
    My plan was to find the owner and have them come fetch their cat from under the bed.  Long story short, with neighbours saying they, like me, had seen the cat in gardens the last few days, but re ownership, they had no further intel.  No local owner could be found.  Off to the village shop I went, Cat Found notice put on shop door and a tin of cat food brought the cat out from under the bed.  She ate four times that day, hungry cat.  I turned to the internet, spreading the word and contacting relevant agencies who could maybe help find the owner.  Wee Lily White, as I'd taken to calling her, was taking up my entire day, lucky for her she's easy to get on with and very pretty.  I'd put a newspaper on the floor but as the day progressed with no sign of poop or pee, I headed back to the shop and bought cat litter.  With an improvised seed tray full of the stuff Lily White did a pee.  Clean cat.  The only real downside of Lily White is her tendency to leave hairs about the place and on me. 
    I'm organising stuff on the internet for the cat while being bombarded with messages from: The Boy wanting us to keep her, The Husband getting his knickers in a twist over-reacting and accusing me of kidnapping someone's cat.  Wee Lily White stayed with me another night.  On Saturday morning connections I'd made on the internet came through for her.  A Cat Protection team arrived and scanned.  Sadly and shamefully for the owner, she's not chipped.  She's probably a housecat (super soft hair and pads), between 1 - 2.5 yrs old, very dainty for her age and they can't tell if she's neutered or not.  She growl-purrs when she's eating so she's probably from a house with more than one cat.  The CP folks took her away and I put proper posters on bus shelters, the village shop and the village cafe.  She's on the West Lothian CP Lost/Found page and I've added her to several lost/found FB groups and websites.
    Cat Protection notice for wee Lily White
    The Boy has a knee problem, for the second time a meniscus (cartilage disc) has torn, so he's on crutches and painkillers.  Breaking the news that Lily White was away went like this...
    The Husband and I had home-cooked Valencia paella at friends Helen & Tom's place.  Helen can cook, she provided a three course meal and champagne.  I think this was my first time eating muscles from the shell or not from the shell for that matter.  The flavours in the rice and juices were delicious.  Drinks and chat, much of it political, by the fireside followed.
    At last, I've started to spot 7-Spot Ladybirds in the garden, I hope they're my Ladybirds, from the batch released last year.
    11th September 2018 Ladybird 1
    September 11th 2018 Ladybird 2
    September 11th 2018 Ladybird 3
    While watching the Ladybirds I find many little Caterpillars in the Candytuft seedheads.  I've been reliably informed it's probably a Garden Pebble Moth (Evergestis forficalis) caterpillar, they're green with little black spots and feed on crucifers, and Candytuft (Iberis) is a crucifer ie a member of the Mustard (Brassicaceae) family.  Then I found a cocoon web thingy with an empty Moth pupa and three empty Fly pupae cases.  The parasitoid flies have killed and eaten the caterpillar host after the host had entered it's pupation stage.  Most likely the parasitoid eggs would've been laid on a leaf and the caterpillar subsequently ingested the eggs while eating the leaf.
    A couple of my potted trees have went nuts this year.  For the first time ever the Harry Lauder's Walking Stick (Corkscrew Hazel) has nuts, and apparently that's a rarity for this type of Hazel tree, and the Oak tree has acorns.  As usual the Oak has Wasps, and I think it's safe to say these are the Common Wasp (Vespula vulgaris), also known as European wasp and the common yellow jacket.  I'm never troubled by Wasps because they're far more interested in the Oak than they are in people.  The Oak tree has galls, a huge and complicated subject, but from what I can see the current tiny disc shaped galls are made by the Common Spangle Gall Wasp (Neuroterus quercusbaccarum).  The Gall Wasps aren't wasps, they are of the order Hymenoptera same as wasps, bees, ants and  Sawflies, but they're of the superfamily Cynipoidea and the family Cynipidae (Gall Wasps), they're cynipids.  These Gall Wasps cause two different type of galls, earlier in the year the galls are round, like little berries, this time of year they do the disc version.  The spring galls on oak buds, flowers, and leaves produce fully winged, short-lived males and females.  The larvae in the more solid, autumnal galls metamorphose in autumn and depending on species the adults, which are all agamic females, may emerge in late autumn or stay in the galls over winter.  Often two or more winters pass before the adults finally emerge.  I told you it was complicated.  I'm going to be more vigilant next spring to capture every stage of the cycle.  The galls secrete a sugary substance which I'm assuming the Common Wasps feed on.
    Common Wasp



  I've had a birthday, Happy Birthday to me, that's my early retirement age reached.  I can hardly believe it myself.  The Husband took me for a drive and hotel stay in far off Altnaharra to celebrate.  We stayed at the Altnaharra Hotel and from there explored the local coast especially the Kyle of Tongue and Talmine in particular where we had a picnic lunch on just one of the beautiful beaches in the area.  In the hotel back garden there's Deer which I used to test my Wildlife Lens.  I captured a not quite so successful Buzzard atop a Pine tree, but that was from the Jeep window, I didn't get a great shot.  And of course, I iPhone snapped my Altnaharra Hotel dinner.  The best most delicious Crab Cake ever, a complimentary Lobster Bisque Cup I misread as compulsory, which it turned out to actually be, a Monk Fish main with delish accompanying Ratatouille, and an absolute to-die-for Custard Tart.  Something I noted on this road trip, Saltires, in windows, on flag poles, even painted rocks.  Didn't see a jack till the road home, and only then, they were on a couple business properties on the banks of Loch Ness on the road back home, I got over the jack horror a little further down the road by admiring Glen Coe, Glen Ative and Rannoch Moor.  I've added a couple of pics of the Dornoch Firth taken from the Struie Road viewpoint we stopped there on the way up and down.
  Talmine Beach
  Kyle of Tongue
  Kyle of Tongue
    Donarch Firth
    Donarch Firth
    I made a wee To Do List for catching up with long put off necessary stuff I'd been putting off.  So in the first week of retirement I've visited:
    GP - to announce my Contact Dermatitis.  I'd already self-diagnosed and had it confirmed by a doctor at work.  Treatment obtained.
    Optician - (the back story - 4 years ago I got spectacles, distance lenses in a cool Rayban frame to make subtitles on the telly sharp and people's faces on stage at shows discernable again.  To bring back the high definition I'd been missing in my life.  The optician at the time said I didn't need a reading lens, but I purchased some cheap 1.5 readers and found them beneficial.  Since then...)  I've found an increasing need for a reading lens and have become convinced I need a varifocal.  So off to the Optician and I've had my thinking confirmed, my distance reading hasn't deteriorated much at all but my close-up vision is worse, I need a varifocal.  I gave them my Rayban frame and the new lenses will be fitted in that.  If I get on OK with the new lenses I'll probably get the same in a sunglass.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched The Final Flight.  A much better title than a movie.  It's got every cliché in the disaster movie book.
    The Husband and I watched Sweet Country.  Good movie, painful to watch in an Australia history way.



  Ta-da, that's my last shift, all done.  I'm not officially retired until the 9th but today marks the last work day of my 35 years with the Scottish NHS and I'm enjoying the bonus of early retirement.  There's been ups and there's been downs, it’s been above all a privilege and emotional.  Was a good last day, I had most of my usual shift-mates with me, could just as easily have been me with a bunch of bank nurses, so this was good.  The girls gave me my leaving pressie, which was money.  I'd been asked what I'd want the money to be spent on, I said give me the money.  I have no idea what I want, but I do know I hate money being spent on something I wouldn't like or never use, so, I have time to decide what to spend it on.  I'm very sensible.  At end of shift I stood in an awfy big puddle *wink wink*, for the third time in my nursing career, the 1st time was when I went from student to trained nurse, I'm regarding this as nice career symmetry.  This standing in awfy deep puddles is an NHS nurse torture tradition, which to be honest, I thought had been consigned to the last century for infection control, health and safety and a load of other NMC contrived reasons, but now I know differently.  I put up a seriously good fight.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched The Big Sick.  Not our usual kind of movie at all, but we both enjoyed it.



  With a bit of effort I made a cocktail.  Of course there's a backstory.  This was on Friend and Work Colleague E's retirement doo.  I made my first ever cocktail at Arta in Glasgow.  I obviously like this work colleague, I don't usually do this kind of thing.  Having said that, a major factor in the decision was that Friend H had used my money (that she owed me) to pay my deposit.  We had the Sweet Treats Cocktail Masterclass, which entailed a Lemon shot, a French Martini and a Raspberry Mojito then a three course meal.  To begin the bar person invites our party up to the bar and presents us with pre-prepared lemon shots, I nearly balk at this early stage, the glass has granular sugar around the rim, there's just no need.  I think this is my first ever shot, unsurprisingly with the lemon, surprisingly with the added sugar, it was bitter.  I think it was pre-prepared due to some of the group not having arrived by the required master class start time.  Then he demonstrates how to make a French Martini.  Behind the bar we go, four at a time, and I make a cocktail (see photies) with all the equipment and a bit of vigorous shaking.  I was rather afraid during the shaking that the whole thing would come apart and make a bit of a mess, but no, it turned out ok.  The result was nice.  Then the man demonstrated the making of the Mojito.  I'm out, enough audience participation already, no drink needs that much added sugar.  Friend MR volunteers to make one for me.  I have an idea and MR makes me a Bacardi and Diet Coke, leaving out all the other non-essentials.  Then it's upstairs for the meal.  I have the Bruschetta, Frittata then Vanilla Panna Cotta.  The food is small portions.  There's at least 3 hen parties going on, though to be fair, it's a big building and we knew nothing of the hen parties, the building is a bit too chilled, keep the jacket on.  The main interior spaces are beautiful and sumptuous, though to my slightly failing eyesight, wasted on me by the very low lighting.  Later I was telling The Dad, and he tells me about the days he was in 13 - 19 Walls Street, Glasgow, when it was the Cheese Market, that explains the chill.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched The Limehouse Golem.  It's ok.
    The Husband and I watched Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri.  It's fantastic.  Sam Rockwell is fantastic.
    The Husband and I watched I, Tonya.  Excellent movie.



  Feeding the garden birds is important to me so I put a bit of money into it, but some of my feathery visitors are taking the michael.  I want the wee birds to get the benefit of the suet blocks, sunflower hearts and peanuts and I put a dish of mixed seeds on the ground for my Wood Pigeons because it's not like I only love the wee birds, and I'm particularly fond of the Pigeons and Doves.  The only problem is the Starlings, they've been going through a suet block a day, if I kept replenishing it'd be 2 or 3 a day.  The cage style suet block feeder is supposed to be Starling-proof, it's not, so I tried a different one.  I got a cheap wee plastic suet block feeder and hung it inside a different cage, now one suet block is lasting a couple of days, I believe I've beat the Starlings.  The anti-Starling setup is the "Green Jem BF3PLASTIC Plastic Dual Suet/Scraps Wild Bird Feeder, Green, 14x4.5x19 cm" and the cage is the 8 inch Chapelwood Squirrel Blocking Cage, it's working for now anyway.  I've also placed a pot saucer (Tildenet 83260 26cm Terra Mediterraneo Saucer) in the bottom of the cage, it fits perfectly, to stop suet falling onto the plants and soil below, it's no good having fat-crumb buildup.
  My Globe Thistles bring all the pollinators to the yard.  Bumble Bees, Honey Bees, Hoverflies and Butterflies though I haven't managed a good Butterfly photo yet.  I need to split this plant up and spread it around the garden for next year.  More and more I'm swapping the rubbish pollen plants for the pollen-rich plants.  After all, the main reason for the garden is to feed the pollinators.  The Wasps come to the garden too, but right now they're concentrating on the big potted Oak tree.
  Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched The Hitman's Bodyguard.  Ryan Reynolds just about gets away with it.
    The Husband and I watched Brimstone.  Was alright.
    The Husband and I watched The Cured.  Was alright.



  Job News.  I've joined the Nurse Bank and now, briefly, have two jobs.  I've only ever had one job, ever, ever.  Ok, there was a bit of promotion in there, but I regard it all as one job, I began my nurse training in 1983, became a trained nurse and have been ever since.  On my Phased Retirement I've got only 2 and a half days left to work now.  I'm enjoying all this time off, phased retirement and some annual leave, but along with the excitement and pleasure at my very good luck, or rather, jolly good planning as a 19 year old (ie persuing a training and job that would award me with decades of the privilege of caring for people and the opportunity to retire early age 55).  There's also a wee bit trepidation, what'll happen next? 
  Friend H and I were at Edinburgh Playhouse for Frankie Boyle, Prometheus 3, both he and Bathgate-born Fern Brady were hilarious.
  The Husband was at a filling station in Northumberland where he proffered Scottish money.  The filling station man wasn't happy and a mini-standoff occured.  But aye, he took it, syphoning diesel out a van probably isn't in his job description.
  The Husband and I watched The Bridge IIII.  Emotional.  And already I need more Saga, I need season V.  "Who shall say that Fortune grieves him, While the star of hope she leaves him?"

Robert Burns - Ae Fond Kiss.
    The Husband and I watched Sunshine.  It's alright.  I felt the Brian Cox presence in the physicist main character so was hopeful the science was to a big enough degree.  Little things like, one person reading a paper book, surely weight would matter and kindle-like devices would be a given?  The bad guy was the most unbelievable aspect, how could he have survived for seven years?  Anyways, it's visually gold and a wee bit spiritual, not stuff I'm fond of.
    The Husband and I watched The Beguiled.  Good stuff, nice down-to-earth human stuff, and Colin Farrell.



  I am fast becoming a major player in the saving of the insects.  In the space of one week I've saved a Bee, a Dragonfly, and as an afterthought, I even plucked a drowning Wasp from a watery death.  First up was the Bee, it was sitting very still, I grabbed my camera for the photo op, always my first thought, then I realised it's tongue was sticking out unnaturally (first pic below).  I reckoned this Bee needed sugar water to stand any sort of chance, or it was going to die.  It's OK to do this in a one-off emergency, DO NOT leave sugar water out routinely, that's bad, and stop believing everything you read on Facebook.  After the sugar water the Bee still looked dreadful, but it crawled away from the sugar water spoon, dragging it's wee body over the monoblock and I'm thinking, if you're going to die it won't be on stone, so I placed her on the Blue Bedder flowers.  She was slow, moving around the plant, but she was at least active.  Then, after a while, she actually flew again.  The picture of her flying isn't the best quality pic, but it's the best pic of the day.
    Visiting The Parents for the Happy Birthday Mum do, mum and me spent time at their pond with our cameras.  Where we were both a bit stunned when I rescued a Common Hawker Dragonfly (Aeshna juncea) from a Great Diver Beetle (Dytiscus marginalis) larvae.  We didn't know it was a seriously horrid and vicious baby beetle, we actually thought it was a wee fish.  At The Mum's urging I put my hand in the water and lifted the Dragonfly, the slithery thing stayed attached and came with it.  A closer look and we were both going "yuck, it's got legs!".  Turns out the Dragonfly was in a terrible situation, being drowned and consumed at the same time because these baby beetles pump digestive enzymes into their victims to paralyse and dissolve.  Once the larvae had slithered back into the pond our attentions went rightfully to the Dragonfly, she seemed distressed, and was my best friend for ages.  I'd started to kid myself on that I was blessed with an inate Dragonfly attraction factor because she stayed around and on me for ages, and male blue version were zoning in on me too.  I was putting my hand out, them nearly touching me, then of them grabbed her, it all happened so fast, we hardly knew what was happening. and I'm pretty sure it was doing sex to it!  As they flew off together they'd formed the wheel of sex.  A nice lady at the Dragonfly Society helped identify my Dragonfly and said it was a good sign that she was able to form the wheel.  Nature eh.  All this at the Parent's place, a hot-bed of sex and violence. 
    I've carefully placed 4 big hardy perennial Peony (Paeonia peregrina) seeds in potting compost.  No action is expected there until 2019, they have to overwinter outdoors, preferably in situ but I've put them in biodegradable pots for fear of turning the seeds over when I'm pottering around.  I will be expecting big beautiful red flowers at some point in the future.
    The Mum's given me a Jade plant cutting and an Aloe vera plant.  Me, known to be pretty damn good at the outdoor garden thing, but when it comes to indoors, sure I'm the Queen of the Snake Plant but everything else dies.  I've given them houseroom, sunshine and infrequent water seems to be the way to go, but don't blame me if it all goes to shit.  I've placed them at the window-of-much-plant-success (south-facing upstairs hall window) for optimum chance of survival.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Most Beautiful Island.  Not as good as I'd hoped for and unreasonably short, I was just starting to give the movie a little credit, thinking ahhh, what's going to happen now? and the movie finished.  The plotline needed developed further.
    The Husband and I watched Young Adam.  Young Adam. Phew, cracker of a Scottish movie, loved it, great story and acting, so tense, had me second-guessing Joe right up to the end #WhatWouldJoeDo AND it's got Peter Mullan AND Ewan McGregor And EMcG's penis.  Late review 5 hot stars.


  The Boy had a birthday, he's really a man now, but he'll always be my boy. 
    On his birthday night there was a full moon, visible: 99%, and I captured my best moon photie ever, and I did it handheld, with my new Olympus 300mm IS Pro lens on the Pen F.  It's like looking through a telescope, it's almost as big as a telescope.



  Having captured great photos of the black Hoverfly I set out to capture pics of the yellow and black stripy version, then discovered I'd captured 3 verities of stripy Hoverflies.  And one did a pee, the things you see with a macro lens.  A bit of research informed me it's not urine, as urine contains urea, but rather this is pollen water excreted by pollinators to maintain their delicate water balance.  Whatever, it was quite something to capture, without the benefit of the macro lens, my naked eyes would never have been capable on their own.  From the top, Eupeodes corollae or Migrant Hoverfly (female then male), Episyrphus balteatus or Marmalade Hoverfly (female), another female Marmalade on the blue flower, and the peeing Hoverfly is a female Helophilus pendulus or Sun Fly.  And I have to add "I think" to all them semi-educated identity guesses.
  And then I spotted a tiny wee fly blowing bubbles.  To decrease body temperature, or to clean the mouth parts or perhaps it's to do with food digestion, says science.  The things you see with a macro lens.  This is not the best quality photo but it's A TINY WEE ITSY-BITSY FLY BLOWING EENY-WEENY BUBBLES!  I tried to identify the fly, impossible, I'm just calling it a tiny wee fly blowing bubbles.
  Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Mom and Dad.  The perfect role for Nicolas Cage to channel his exquisite acting.  It's a bit silly but funny and there is a kinda moral to the story.


  An old friend visited bringing a welcome gift of Poppy seeds, he gave some useful advice on the garden and I made a nice photo of his gift.  Today I'll heed his advice and sow some of the seeds.
    I think I always assumed all Hoverflies are stripy, if I did, then I was wrong, this is a black Hoverfly, so tiny, quick, useful, interesting and perfect for a play with the macro lens.  The black Hoverflies are very difficult to identify, but this one I believe is Platycheirus albimanus.  This took a lot of research.  What gave it away in the end are the silvery-grey markings on the body and silvery-dusted face, I think.  I also learned that the males of all Hoverfly species have eyes close together, the wider apart eyes are female. 
    First-time Fruit Grower Update.  I ate my second Strawberry, leaving one more for another day.  The Tomatoes are so doing the ripe thing, every day the red gets stronger.  There's second and a few third trusses of flowers on display too, with the Bees busy helping with the pollination.  I pruned the vines and leaves not needed, the ones with no flowers/fruits, any yellowing, the ones throwing shade at my toms.  Tomatoes need six hours of direct sunlight each day, with this best for years Summer, they're getting it in #BloomingScotland, apart from today, this one was disappointing.
    Birdbox activity.   Them two new boxes on the west-facing side of the shed, Box 3 was christened with Tree Sparrows, then as the fledglings were preparing to fly nest-building started in the neighbouring Box 4.  Those babies have gone too, and Box 3 is being used a second time.  It's a bumper year for my baby birds.
    My current favourite light lunch of Feta cheese, green grapes and garlic clove stuffed Halkidiki Olives, so Greek, so EUremain, so about to be out with my affordability, along with all the other European cheeses.
    I won a competition for a year's subscription to an online magazine.  I'd voted for iScot Magazine in the World Cup Of Magazines tournament. iScot won of course and is now officially The Best Magazine In The World.  The lovely team at Pocket Mags offered many choices of subscription prize.  I picked iScot Magazine which I already subscribe to in the paper copy because I read it in the shower.  I know, you'd think that impossible, but it's not, it involves ripping out the pages however, so having the digital version for reference is perfect.



  The best news is The Boy got himself an apprenticeship, with the Scottish NHS at the Estates Dept.  I'm so happy, as are everyone else in the family.  He's found what he wants to do, getting himself a trade.
  There he is just getting started on a career and I'm at the opposite end, counting down to retirement.  I started counting down 7 years ago, went like...7 years, then 6 years and a bit, 5 and a half years, 4 years and 2 months, 3 and two third years, two years, one year, 6 months, now it's just 2 months away.  So I've cancelled my UNISON membership and that felt good, what with their affiliation with the Scottish branch of the UK Labour party.  Of course I stopped my Political Party contribution to the Scottish branch of the UK Labour party a while back when I found out on Twitter (because the unions don't tell you) this is possible.  They're a bunch of chancers.  Anyway, I'm now 1/3 way through Phased Retirement.  From full-time worker I went down to 2.5 days a week for the first month, this week I started a month of 2 days a week, then that final 4 weeks I'll be down to 1 and a half days a week.  It feels really good getting extra days off, I'm finding myself working on the other shift too, filling in where a trained nurse is needed instead of being assured of my usual shift pattern, but that's fine, the ward is giving to me, I'm happy giving back and being accommodating. 
  Out gardening, with the camera handy, when a Blackbird took a bath in one of the Tomato plant trays.  I didn't have the ideal lens on the camera, and I couldn't move, couldn't breath, for fear of scaring him off, he was so close my lens got wet, lucky lucky me.  I hadn't given it a thought before, but now I know, birds close their eyes when splashing about in a bath, see the third picture.
  First-time Fruit Grower Update.  I have many Raspberries, grown for the birds to help themselves, I ate one, I don't really like Raspberries.  I had 3 Strawberries, I ate one, it was delicious.  And I've got lots of Tomatoes, some of which are finally starting to turn from green to red.  There's ethylene in the Starry Towers garden (ethylene - the natural plant hormone, it's all very complicated, but it causes fruits to ripen).  I seem to have inadvertently picked the best year to grow Tomatoes outdoors in Scotland.  I'm so excited to eat them, cannae wait.  These photies were taken 2 days ago, the Tomatoes are redder today.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Dark River.  Painful, intense, extremely well acted, but so very sad.


  The search is over, I've found my travel lens, see it on The Star Swag Blog.
  Meanwhile today the Olympus 60mm macro lens captures the Bees loving the Blue Bedders.  This world-class pollen producer is a pollinator wonder-flower, also known as Echium or Viper's Bugloss, it has special super powers.  It flowers for all the Summer months and because the nectaries are deep within the corolla, and the petals protect the nectar from both the sun and the rain, it produces a steady supply of rich (22-48% sugar content depending on conditions) nectar all day long.  One problem for me is my garden soil is rather too healthy as this wee hero flower prefers poor soil and no love and attention.  I don't give it love and attention but it's tricky finding a few spots lacking in soil nutrients.  Another issue is I'm really allergy sensitive to most of the plants in my garden, I get contact dermatitis every time I inadvertently let foliage touch me though I try really hard to avoid it with gloves and long sleeves, and Blue Bedder is one of the most irritant of all the plants in the world so I'm very very careful around it.  It's worth it.  Rating 10/5.



  New Olympus lens and teleconverter on The Stag Swag Blog.  Here's pictures from the first time I used it, handheld, on my Pen-F.  Amazing.  Seriously difficult to pick a few to showcase here, near-on every pic is quality.  Now I'm filling external hard drives with photies of Sparrows, I'll soon have to admit to myself I have enough photies of Sparrows.
  Then, on another day, I took this outstanding pic of a Crow.  Eating a grape but watching every little move I made.  A #YES #ScotRef Twitter friend asked if she could paint my Crow.  She's promised me a credit and a full size image of the finished work, wee bit excited.
  I've seen a Hedgehog in the garden a few times over the years and suspect there's a Hedgehog environment of some sort, either a home or a safe place, under the shed, so I got myself a Trail Cam, food and water dishes and a bag of Spike Food to find out for sure.  Took a few nights getting the hang of it...
  Night 1: hadn't set the cam up correctly
  Night 2: read the instructions.  One fluffy cat, the early birds ate the food and I got a photobomb Crow Selfie
  Night 3: a LOT of Slugs.  The Hedgehog's natural free dinner was eating the Hedgehog's processed commercial dinner
  Night 4: moved cam closer to where I think he/she lives, supplied only water, I've got a Hedgehog.
  So The Mum says to me the other day "I think we've got Cannabis plants in the back garden", obviously I try to reassure her that it's highly unlikely, everything's OK, she must be wrong.  The Mum insists she really does think it's Cannabis.  Again I tell her no worries, it won't be.  Then we visit to celebrate The Dad's 79th birthday and eat Pigs In Mud cake.  "Not seeing the result you are expecting?" says PlantSnap, well, NO, I'm really not, and I'm now a woman in her 50s wondering how the auld yins recognise Cannabis better than I do.
  The Highland Show Shetland Sheep 2018 Champion is Ivydene Patronus.  Sold as a lamb when The Dad had to sell his flock (cos The Mum had a health thing and he had to be home more).  The son of Ivydene Marilyn. (It could've been me *fake sobbing*)
  Bird shit art appeared overnight on my mini-cairn (2 big stones from the south beach below Dunnottar Castle) in a Banksy type way, made me smile.
  This explains a lot.  The West Lothian Flat Earther, responsible for all the really shite vandalism graffiti on road signs, struggles to spell "flat".  The Falt Earth Society.  Hoping the shite graffiti vandal get arrested soon, and that someone shows him/her a globe and cleaning materials.
  First-time Fruit Grower Update.  The Tomatoes, Strawberries and Raspberries are still alive, mostly not at an edible stage yet, but still alive, I'm taking that as a positive.  I've had 3 ripe Raspberries, well, the birds have had 3 ripe Raspberries, but the Tomatoes and Strawberries need a bit of colour.
  Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Hounds of Love.  Effected me, I cried a bit.  A lot of the plot came from real life Australian serial killers David and Catherine Birnie.
  The Husband and I watched Hostiles.  Very good, we could've watched a whole boxset of this, didn't want it to end.
  The Husband and I watched Geostorm.  Made me giggle a lot it's so cheesy, but I do love a bit of catastrophic city disaster.



  Eurasian Tree Sparrow Update.  Bit chuffed, I got gorgeous pics (03/06/2018) of a Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus) chick being fed in nest Box 3 AND another pair have started nest building in Box 4. Brood size is normally 5 or 6, so I have no idea if all the photos are the same chick and there's little difference between males and females, so I really don't know if it's Mum or Dad in the photos.  I'm thinking, Box 1 and 2 have been in situ for years and because Box 1 has been Blue Tit Towers since it went up, and Box 2 has never been used ever.  Then there's the new Boxes 3 and 4, both being used in their very first year, that side of the shed is Sparrow Street.  I'm thinking I'll have The Husband move Box 2 to a spot in-between Box 3 and 4 giving it over to the Sparrows.
  So, the gorgeous Sparrow photies.  The Husband stepped up to show me how to work my wifi button thingy properly ie it slots into the hot shoe which stops it moving in a breeze, keeping the camera steady.  And it works, from a distance and through windows.  He also showed me a wee tricky bit, the piece that attaches the camera to the tripod, I did not know that bit comes out to let that bit go there, et voilà, simplicity itself.  I discovered for myself that the tripod has another height adjustment extension thing at the top, bringing it up to a better height to obtain the picture angle I was looking for.  I positioned the tripod sans Olympus Pen-F with 75-300mm zoom lens retired indoors and pressed the click thingy.  Checked out the captures, I'd got the settings spot on, go me.
    All the chicks have fledged, I noticed a lack of parental activity last week, one morning up early for work, no Blue Tits flying in and out, next morning and evening no sign of Sparrows either.  Today I had a peek in both boxes...lovely soft cozy, but empty nests, success.  I'm really happy.
    First-time Tomato Grower Update.  I've got Tomatoes, they're very very small and very very green, but they are actually Tomatoes.  So if nothing gets better from here on in, I'll still be jubilant in my Tomato growing sucess.
    The Himalayan Blue Poppies are thriving with each passing year.  These beauties are proving easy to propagate by division but a devil to photograph on a sunny day.  I'll be splitting the 2 larger plants again this year, the front garden will soon be full of blue poppies.
    This teeny wee Moth, approx 1cm from nose (do moths have noses?) to the tip of it's beautiful and intricately patterned fringed wings, without the macro lens I'd never have known how beautiful and intricate. Reminds me of some woolen knit jumper or a blanket, perhaps Shetland.  I've since discovered it's a micro moth, the Yellow-Faced Bell (Notocelia cynosbatella) and now I strongly suspect the larva to be the cause of certain Rose damage, so, swings and roundabouts.  The wee shite, what with Greenfly, Blackfly, Whitefly and Rose Sawflies, my Roses don't need another baddy.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched The Snowman.  In a word, disappointing.  The book is brilliant, the film, should have been Nordic Noir, it could've been so much better.  I love Harry Hole.  The Husband and I love Jo Nesbo books and made a point of visiting Harry Hole sites in Oslo, including his apartment on Sofies Gate, we've even eaten in Restaurant Schroder, his regular eatery and bar, and I enjoyed seeing some of the sites in the movie, including the restaurant...we sat at a table over by the windows, and probably my favourite park ever, Vigeland Sculpture Park.  Filming an American movie with American actors in Oslo does not a Nordic Noir make.
    The Husband and I watched Blade Runner 2049.  How I wish we'd watched Blade Runner instead.  The Husband has never seen the original, it's one of my favourite movies, it's way better than 2049, I fear I may have damaged the chances of The Husband ever watching Blade Runner now.  Drat, bad move.
    The Husband and I watched American Made.  Entertaining and all, but seriously, fuckin' America, sticking it's nose in to control other countries all over the world, the lying, cheating, law-breaking, human rights abusing, evil, corrupt bastards.


  Baby Blue Tit Update.  Photo from 9 days ago had me thinking I had 5 Blue Tit chicks in the nest box, now I'm thinking 8...see the wee beak poking out on the left of the pic, maybe even top of pic there's a swatch of yellow plumage which looks like a face.
    The Starling babies are all over the garden being fed by busy parents who are going through a suet block every day.


  First-time Tomato Grower Update.  Out of the 8 seeds sown on 03/04/2018 I've got 7 healthy plants.  The first 4 to sprout have flowers on, they're meant to be a hanging variety but they're very strong, standing tall unsupported.  The other slower-to-emerge three are a bit shorter but have required a stick to hold them upright while they're living on the living-room windowsill.  I took advantage of this week of annual leave for the hardening off.  My babies went from cozy living-room windowsill to wide-open windows to days outside and nights in.  It's been fantastic weather for it. They're going out for good tomorrow.  I've learned a lot so far...Tomato plants are thirsty, they've wanted watering morning, noon and night, sometimes more often.  I got the type that are meant to enjoy a hanging basket, but the tallest 4 are standing so tall they'd be sticking up over the shed roof if I put them in the hanging baskets.  So the biggest 5 are going in big pots, the 2 smallest ones are droopier so I'll try them in the baskets.



  The Blue Tits are back, every year Blue Tits use one of the original boxes, and this year we've got 5 wee darling babies.  I was reading each of these babies can eat up to 100 caterpillars a day, no wonder the parents are so busy.  The nest box picture is just a quick photo using my less-technical-than-the-Olympus Canon camera for speed, the parents were standing by with that...put the lid down, get down from the ladder and git tae...look on their faces.  I don't have a peek until the babies are nice and noisy and I see both parents are away from the nest, and I never ever touch, just a quick photo (25/05/18) then get out of the way ASAP.
  It's a good baby bird year at Starry Towers, for the first time we have Sparrows using one of the newly installed boxes and it's a pair of Eurasian Tree Sparrows.  This is fantastic news.  These are the rarest and most shy of our Sparrows, the others being the House version.  Every time I step out into the back garden, quick as a flash one of them flees the nest and if I spend time in the garden I see them approaching, spotting me then diverting mid-flight and avoiding the box, I feel guilty being out there.  To capture a pic of my resident Sparrows I had to set the camera on the tripod and use the remote thingy from indoors, it's a bit hit and miss, no control over focus, total trust in the settings I set, and I really didn't trust me.  Imagine my joy at this capture (22/05/18).
  Then today a baby Sparrow visited, actually in da house.  The Husband found the chick in the walk-in cupboard near the back door.  The back door had been standing open all day due to great weather, I say great, perhaps a tad too hot to be one point late afternoon I came in and swung the back door shut behind me, I heard the sound of a carrier bag rustle from the cupboard.  It did make me ponder, why I'd heard the noise, my brain put it down to a bag in the cupboard must've fell down from a shelf or something.  A little later, The Husband went in the cupboard and found the baby, there's a carrier bag of electric cables on the floor (waiting for The Husband to tell me to bin them or keep them) and the baby was rustling the bag.  We took the chick out to the back garden, a bird in the hand photo op then release, fly little bird fly, and it did, no bother, up into the big bush foliage.
A giant Pansy or a tiny wee tree?  You decide.  But I'll tell you in case there's any ambiguity, it's a European Beech tree I grew from a beechnut, 20cm tall to it's top most leaf.
    The Husband had dealings with a man from Lewis and got an unexpected wee gift, MacLeod and MacLeod Original Stornoway black pudding with it's Protected Geographical Indication status from the European Commission.  Staying in the EU is of utmost importance for the original and best of Scottish food and drink produce.
    Saltire Watch.  At the village PO shop there's some proper tissues sitting on the counter prominently at the till, these ones are now on my table.  I heart my local shop.
    I've had a Nectar card for, must be decades, I have no idea, I got one then forgot about it.  I've never looked into it, seems I must've registered it at a couple of websites because today, prompted by one of them changes to data protection emails I went to the Nectar website and found I've got £94.03.  I'm not complaining, better than not having £94.03.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched IT.  Not scary (it's just a 15), but OK.
    The Husband and I watched The Florida Project.  Found it a slow-burner, but it grows on you, it becomes more interesting when the adult characters come to the fore.  Turns out this is a great movie.  What we see is the wonder and innocence (yes...innocence) of childhood, so close to DISNEYLAND yet so far away.  We proceed, finding out more about the adult characters, it's sad and moving, and I loved every character in it, regardless of childhood prank, misdemeanours or criminal record.  They're all decent human beings doing their best to cope with where life has taken them. Reading the Amazon reviews, can totally spot the politically right-wingers.
    The Husband and I watched Una.  Very good.



  I attended my first March for Independence, the All Under One Banner event in Glasgow today.  Claimed to have the largest attendance of such event in far.  I've got a taste for it now and will be attending till Indy.  The Husband nipped uphill to take the picture of me with Friends H and T as we stood in Kelvin Grove Park waiting for the march to start.  Once you're in there all you know is what you can see on the horizon, it's impossible to know how big it is when you're in the middle of it.  But after 90 mins walking along Glasgow streets (the march started at 11:30) I was out-voted 3 to 1 and forced into a pub for lunch at 13:00.  I'm in there, loo visit, then eating chips and salad off the others' plates (they took forever to deliver food to table) and downing a soft drink, itching to get back on the street.  After lunch we joined the back of the march and were soon in Glasgow Green at the end of the 3 mile walk.  What a great day.  I found it extremely difficult to hold a flag pole and take photos at the same time, these pictures were taken on iPhones, the Olympus Pen F didn't get a shot and I pretty much gave up on the pic taking.  I painfully twisted a foot on potholes, twice, same foot both times, just grateful I managed to keep myself upright and I didn't fall, and I suffered a degree of back pain, but...future independent's worth it.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched The Killing Of A Sacred Deer.  Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman, being strange, think him in The Lobster and her in, I don't know, The Stepford Wives or Eyes Wide Shut.  Extraordinary, and not always in a good way, I did laugh at times, but more out for the pure ridiculous factor.


  I'm going on my first march for independence.  Glasgow on the 5th May, looks like it's going to be a biggie with organisers aiming for 40,000.  I've opted for the EU version for my Saltire on a stick (handheld telescopic flag pole).  Being an EU citizen is important to me.  As a Scottish wife of an English man, with a German sister-in-law and a Dutch step-daughter and grandson, I want to live in independent Scotland within the EU, because it's sensible, it's so obviously sensible.  It's also got stars on.  I've prepared the YES Saltire on a stick for The Husband and ironed a couple of plain Saltires for the body wrap-around.  I got the don't-use-straight-out-the-pack-iron-it-first tip from someone on Twitter, and they're right, they look much better with an iron.  Looking forward to the march, with The Husband and Friends H & T.
  Belly full of pretty blue Anemone De Caen then coorie in for a wee sleep.  I'm hazarding a guess here, I'm going to say an Angel Shade Moth (Phlogophora meticulosa) caterpillar.  Looks real sweet.
    It's Drumstick Time (Primula Denticulata).  These photies were taken in the evening light after a sunny day, bringing a beautiful bluer hue to the lilac petals.
    It's also Tulip Time.  For years I've been attempting to turn the front garden into a red, black, purple tulip patch, but I swear, them yellow Tulips just won't stop.  More recent red Tulip bulb purchases must have been wrongly labeled or the yellows self-propagate more than the other colours.



  I sent a Sunflower bouquet and chocolates to The Sis-In-Law, in way of bringing joy and surprise to her Monday.  All was well in the end, she loved the flowers and chocs, however, Thorntons messed up, ruining the wow factor surprise.  Be aware, if aiming for the wow factor don't risk accepting any free gift offers when placing your online order.  I put the sunflower bouquet and accompanying chocolates in the basket and wrote the gift card, then was entitled to a free bag of chocs.  I put the freebie in the basket and paid for it all, with free next day delivery I was happy and confident the Sis-In-Law would be wowed.  On the day two boxes arrived, the first, delivered by Parcelforce contained the small bag of free chocs and mentioned the sunflowers.  Sis-In-Law messages me to let me know she'd received a gift but was wondering if perhaps there should maybe be sunflower seeds in the box for her to sow.  I had to explain there was more to come and got on to Thorntons on Twitter.  They told me this is their procedure, any additional items (the freebie) are sent separately from their factory, the bouquet and proper box of continental chocolates gift would arrive via DPD from their florist.  I told them perhaps they could put that information on their website, if I'd known I wouldn't have accepted the freebie, or maybe they could inform and allow the freebie to be sent to me so the giftee would only receive the wow factor surprise gift.
  In the gifting mood I got a couple more copies of Carnalis by Rose Garnett, three friends in for a dose of Scottish Urban Horror.  Nicely wrapped too, by me.
  The Wood Pigeon.  One of my favorite creatures, mine (I have a Wood Pigeon married couple and occasionally, usually at breeding season and just after the children have learnt to fly, one or two hangers on) are in and around the garden, all day every day.  Delightful birds.  Our relationship - I provide the food, they know I provide the food.  Smart cookies.
    Gardening Update.  From 9 seeds I have 7 Tomato seedlings so far, now in biodegradable pots on the living room windowsill, intending to move them out to hanging baskets when they're big enough and the weather good enough.  The Strawberry plants are now outside in a Strawberry Tower with the three extra plants in a hanging basket.  They don't all look to be surviving, but time will tell.  Pansy seedlings...they started in trays...the larger seedlings have been transferred to individual wee biodegradable pots, and are out in the grow house for now.  Petunia, in purple and in white, seeds have been sown in trays indoors, the purples are sprouting.  Convolvulus have sprouted, and Cornflower far just the blue ones showing, the blacks seem to be taking longer...they're all in the grow house along with some of the bought Poppy seeds.  Blue Bedder (my favourite annual for the pollinators) and Teasel seeds have been sown in biodegradable pots in the cold frame, Blue Bedder in ordinary garden soil because they hate to be fed well.  The home-grown regular Poppy seeds have been thrown around the garden along with plant food and compost for soil improvement.  The Raspberry plants have been moved to spare big pots on the patio.  No sign of the Lobelia seeds sprouting yet.
    Anemone Blanda, simply beautiful.  These are around the base of my big potted Rowan trees giving year after year of Springtime colour.  The Fritillaria meleagris are flowering and of course the Drumstick Primulas.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Stoker.  Fun.
    The Husband and I watched The Ritual.  Suffice to say my attention wasn't grabbed, I couldn't stop thinking, save yourselves, that guy looks so much like Fluffy Mundell, leave him, let him limp off the mountain the morra.  Sorry Sam Troughton


  Starry Towers 59 : 0 Mice
  Look what gem of a book deal I came across, the newly published Carnalis, first book in the Dead Central trilogy with and by Rose Garnett.  Rose Garnett is a mind-reading mercenary hired to save the people in and around Edinburgh from supernatural doings.  Supernatural horror is not my usual genre, but Scottish Urban Horror, set in and around Edinburgh, definitely is.  The books are signed and there's Card Carrying Psychopath badges.  I bought 2, one for me and one for the mystery card carrying psychopath benefactee in my life, it's a surprise gift, I cannot name the psycho here at this time.
    Itsy bitsy baby Tomato seedlings with their new indoor watering utensils, a watering can and mister.  No sure if I'm doing this right, it's my first Tomato try.
    I've had an insurance policy for the last 25 years and now find myself 5 months from retirement with 20 months left to pay on the plan.  I phoned the company for some projection estimates and it's clear it's not going to be worth maintaining the payments till December 2019.  Hence I will be surrendering the Life Plan.  It became clear also that the company know me under a non-current surname.  To ensure they are able to pay out on this policy I have to supply a load of certified documents to show my marriage/divorce timeline.  That's 3 marriage and 2 divorce certificates.  This is easy, in that I have all the documents, first thought was, darnation I have to go find and pay a person to certify the documents, all 5 of them.  Second thought was to question who exactly are these certifier people, turns out registered nurses are on the list, people like me that aren't me, I can't certify my own documents, a work colleague can certify for me for free.  So no problem.
    I've been no well for a while, but now I'm on the antibiotics (Amoxicillin 500mg tid x 5 days), the steroids (Prednisolone 30mg for 5 days) and a 4hrly Ventolin inhaler I should be getting better soon.  For the past two weeks I've been coughing so much it hurts the top of my head, was telling people "I'm full of the cold", I was thinking it was a keep-it-till-it's-better virus.  I got so tired, then an Infection Control nurse at work heard me coughing, wheezing, being congested and short of breath, she told me I was ill and shouldn't be at work, for my sake and for the vulnerable patients I was putting at risk.  She was absolutely right, and I will email her an update thank you.
    Made myself a new header for the Twitter and Facebook.  Featuring Stewart Bremner (Scottish Stag and I Said Aye) and Greg Moodie(Nicola Rock Star Sturgeon) artwork, an Independent Scotland in the EU map and a politically stickered up PC screen.  Resembles my real-life artwork life, I have all three images.  My real-life Twitter experience is on a laptop at a coffee table, with no stickers, but the header makes the point.
    Real Fire Problems.  Sign of nest-building on the chimney, damn it, I have twigs on hearth.  I knew what I had to do, the smoke test.  To ensure the chimney isn't entirely blocked off with nest, I feel for a draught then light paper, will smoke rise up the chimney?  I issued a cease and desist order last night and lit the fire after a positive smoke test.  This morning a big twig is sitting atop the ashes, the Jackdaws are back.  Today I'm lighting newspaper and kindling at regular intervals and there'll be another big fire this evening.  On a much happier note there's loads of nest-building signs in one of the bird boxes in the garden, a Blue Tit couple are definitely settling in for the 2018 committed relationship egg laying season.



  Achieved a first here, I made tomato soup, with tomatoes, onion, herbs, stock, actual ingredients.  Homemade tomato soup, made at home, by me.
I have seedlings.  Three Tomato seedlings and a load of Pansies.  I've picked out the most mature of the Pansy seedlings and the Tomatoes and potted them on, listen to me with all my technical talk.  I sowed 8 Tomato seeds, still caring for the other 5, living in hope.
  Berry Update.  The Strawberry bare root plants have leafs that are turning brown, I have no idea what to do in this situation so I've put them outside in the grow house for more light, hope it's not too cold, but I reason, established Strawberry plants live outside in the ground all Winter and the worst of the cold is past now.  Green fingers crossed.  I've been given Raspberry cuttings from Friend J.  I don't have space to plant out Raspberries but I'm thinking I'll pop them in some big planters I've got going spare the now, and as we don't eat Raspberries the birds should enjoy them, apparently Blackbirds are particularly fond of them.
  Frankie Boyle.  Tickets are purchased, I'll be seeing Frankie Boyle again, this time with Friend H in August.
  The Scottish Stag is framed, I do believe I love this one best of all.  Art by Stewart Bremner.  Frame and mount very reasonably priced at Best4Frames.
  Listened to Dead Men's Trousers by Irvine Welsh with fabulous narration by Tam Dean Burn.  Always such a great pleasure catching up with Renton, Sick Boy, Franco and Spud.
  Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Sweet Virginia.  Tense.
  The Husband and I watched Lady Macbeth.  Stifling, atmospheric and good.
  The Husband and I watched Timbuktu.  A beautiful movie, decent human beings under the control of vicious and stupid bastards.  It kept striking me that this movie could be a ballet, the no-football game is particularly moving.  ISIS...nothing to do with religion, they're just cunts.



  Gardening News.  Gardening 2018 is starting, I'm always happy to have reached Springtime again, I can get on with more of one of my main hobbies.  This year I'm stepping up the gardening with a cold frame, anyone would think I must be retiring this year.  I deliberately chose one with 3 shelves so that pots on the bottom wouldn't be sitting on the ground, but when it arrived turned out the photos were deceiving and The Husband had to make a bottom shelf. 
  Every time a passing horse drops a deposit on the road outside my house, my roses say thank you.  I was off my mark quick sticks and got this wee fresh pile before traffic had a chance to squash it into the road. If someone gives you shit, grow roses.
  I got Tomato and Pansy seeds sown in trays, for the hanging baskets later, and the bare root Strawberry plants potted up in my new Strawberry Tower.  I had to get my drill out again, to put the holes in these pots, but that's simple and all 6 can be done in one go starting with a fine drill before moving up to to a larger one.  These are all staying indoors for now, we're having another cold spell and I'll tell you who's sick fed-up of snow this year, my Green Man that's who, look at his little peed off face.
  After The Husband turning his Saint James woolen hat into a semi-felt hat I got him a wee pressie, in the medoc and the navy, and he's banned from using the washing machine.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Security.  But only for the Banderas.



  I’d made my decision, I was going to dye, giving my favourite jeggings a wee Dylon Intense Black refresher.  Apparently salt is salt, so table salt will work just as well as the special salt they sell at an outrageous price for dying.  I managed to dye 4 pairs of my favourite jeggings plus only one middle finger and a thumb, pretty good going.  Today I'm wearing a pair of intensly black jeggings with no dye transference to me.
  The Husband (machine) washed his Saint James wool hat for the first time.  All the previous times his wool hat was washed, I was in charge of washing it, safely, at a low temperature, no problem.  The Husband shrunk it.  Wool goes all tight, shrinky and hard compressed squeaky if washed at too high a temperature, it's half way down the road to turning into felt.  So, I soaked it in wool-fabric-softener, rinsed it, hand-pulled it out this way and that, and I'm currently stretch-drying it on the phrenology head.  I'm full of great ideas me.  The next day the hat is certainly less shrunk, it can be worn but it's got a felt-ish feel to it, no stretch left in the fibre, I'll probably buy The Husband a new Saint James hat with strict instructions to leave the washing to me.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Good Time.  For a very short while I thought the character of Nick (actually played by Ben Safdie) was Robert Pattinson, and I was thinking, WOW, that's acting.  I was wrong, Pattinson plays the lead character, Constantine.  We both thought it was a pretty good movie and I've never liked anything Pattinson has ever been in before.
    The Husband and I watched Brawl In Cell Block 99.  It begins in the real world, the real world of drug dealing that is, but given the title you know where it's headed, there will be a brawl in cell block 99.  Not for the squeamish.



  Happy Mother's Day.  The Husband and I went to visit The Parents taking a card, cake and chocolates.  The Brother was also present, what a laugh we had reminiscing about our childhoods.
  I listened to Digging Up Mother written and narrated by Doug Stanhope.  What a memoir, what a life, what a mother.  Over and above the hilariously funny and the roller-coaster of debauchery, it's poignant and sweet, it's all about the love.  The audiobook has extra content too, with added conversations about the book by Doug and his friends and loved ones interspersed throughout.  It's extraordinary.
    The top 2 influential women in britain...Nicola Sturgeon and Mhairi Black.  How fortunate for Scotland that they're both of independent mind.  That poll backfired on Sky News big time.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Wind River.  It's good, I like the lead actors.  It was just a little too simple to suss out the criminals, and a big bit mumbley difficult to make out the spoken word all the time.
    The Husband and I watched Bad Day For The Cut.  Dark humour set in Ireland, good.



  The Beast From The East came in strong here on Wednesday while I was doing a 13hr shift on the ward.  Friend and colleague D (driving) and I got to work that morning on slightly difficult snowy slidey roads, as the day progressed it started teaming it down.  Nurses were phoning in reporting absent from the night shift, couldn't possibly get to work because of snow.  It was looking like me and the girls would be staying overnight AND working the night shift straight after our already seriously long tiring 13hr shift, then working another shift the next day.  The pressure was on, I wanted to go home, I wanted to get my nurses home, enough is enough, most of us had just worked x2 13hr shifts and were due our time off.  Management were struggling.  I devised a plan.  The Husband was offering to perform driving duties in the Wrangler Jeep and winter tyres.  I convinced enough nurses to come in to work the night shift on the grounds that The Husband would pick them up from their homes and bring them to the ward.  Big shout out to the bank nurses, I persuaded one of our own nurses (the crucial trained nurse) and 4 bank nurses, bank nurses are doing this of their own free will.  Yes they have to work to be paid but they can pick and choose when they work with little come-back if they mess us about.  So I had night nurses telling me they couldn't possibly get to work then the day nurses managed to drive themselves home.  It's all about the motivation.  Next morning I enjoy a long lie in on a day off and wake to find the drive empty.  The Husband is away in the Nurse Express taking 5 day nurses to work and the same 5 night staff home again.  The story's going down well on The Twitter.  Currently heading towards 1000 likes.
    There's a naturally-occurring Zombie snowman just standing there in my garden, staring, ominously scary.
    It's always important to feed and fresh water the garden birds but in these severe weather conditions all the more important.  I ploughed my way over to the birdbath and seed feeding dishes to make sure mine stand a good chance of surviving.
    Just days before The Beast From The East arrived on a stunningly fine day The Husband and I went to Ayrshire.  First to the Electric Brae, the lovely childhood memories of The Dad treating us kids to the optical illusion experience are strong.  Then on to visit the ruins of Dunure Castle, the ancient seat of the Kennedys of Carrick.  Mary Queen of Scots was here, I adore doing a MQoS visited place.  The 4th Earl of Cassillis, Gilbert Kennedy, entertained Mary from the 4th - 7th August 1563.  The ruins overlook Ayr Bay in the Firth of Clyde, the original castle was built before the 13th century.  Dunure Harbour is seriously attractive too.
    Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Logan Lucky.  Entertaining, I spent ages thinking Daniel Graig was Eminem and thinking Eminem's a good actor, I am embarrassed about that.


  I have my own personal Bosch drill, and I got it out, it was THAT serious.  To explain the second picture below, the kettle just happened to be sitting there and remained undrilled.  My drilling was on polystone flowerpots.  I was looking for a stylish matching indoor pot/saucer ensemble that would be nearly as good as the two solid chrome metal matching pots and saucers I've had for years, but they don't seem to be available these days, I've searched extensively.  So I went for black polystone, they go together nicely.  However, when the polystone sets arrived the pots have no drainage holes.  I made wee surprised monkey faces and there’s holes in the pots now.  Difficulty Rating 0.01 out of 10.  The Hay Polystone Flowerpots available from Skandium.
    Due to the familial cancer gene thingy (thanks Mum) I have a Colonoscopy every 2 years provided by the Scottish NHS.  For the same cancer-monitoring-prevention reason I had the Total Hysterectomy and Bilateral Salpingo, so I feel a bit more confident that I won't die from the particular cancers involved.  This is my 5th Colonoscopy, I'm becoming a bit of an expert.  This time round the NHS asked me if I'd be ok with having the Colonoscopy in a private hospital.  I understand the issues involved and agree, it means I can have it sooner.  Make no mistake, the NHS is paying for this, this is not me approving of the private healthcare business.
    One difference this time round, I'm given an evening appointment.  I've got the morning appointment fasting/bowel-prep procedure down to a fine art so this throws me slightly.  Having now tried it, I found this the easiest bowel-prep, timing-wise.  Morning appointment Moviprep-taking begins the day before, this time the only thing I have to consider for the previous day is the low-fiber diet, so I ate one meal on Sunday, white bread toast and scrambled eggs at 6pm.  On previous occasions I've actually worked a 13hr shift while fasting and starting the Moviprep, but I came to the realisation that no-one should feel obliged to commence bowel-prep while working, it's exhausting.  See all these common side effects...I've had them every time...stomach cramps, abdominal pain, general malaise, nausea, indigestion, thirst, shivering, dizziness and headache.  For this evening appointment I can spend the worst of the prep-time in bed and sleep through at least some of it.
    I went to bed at 7.30pm so I wouldn't even think about being hungry.  I had a broken sleep, having went to bed so early I didn't expect to sleep for 12hrs straight, and I didn't, but when the alarm woke me at 6.30...snooze...then 6.45...snooze then 7am, I still felt tired.  I dragged myself out of bed and struggled through the first litre of disgusting-tasting Moviprep.  When taking Moviprep it doesn't take long before the swilling stomach and nausea kick in.  Anyways, I drank it all, taking short breaks to feed and water the garden birds and reading a bit of iScot magazine then went right back to bed.  It's not long before the first of the shitting starts, I'm out and in bed several times before the alarm wakes me again in time to start the 2nd litre at 10am.  I'm away back to bed as soon as possible, by the start of the 2nd litre the bloating, nausea and tiredness are strong.  In and out of bed to skoosh the yellow-water type feacal matter, by this time you're not really sure what's coming from the anus and what's urine and the toilet bowl is a solids-free zone and urine coloured.  For the next four hours, more sleep gained in between toilet visits.  I finally get up and showered at 2.15pm.  The yucky feeling persists for a while, and still no hunger pangs due to the nausea.   All things considered, this is the easiest so far, due to being able to spend most of it in bed.
    The result was an all clear, thank you Scottish NHS.  I have to pass comment on the arse-flap bloomers it was my horror to wear for the first time.  No way I'd be photographed in them so here they are (unused) modelled by The Husband.


  Cool Scots by Greg Moodie has arrived, signed to me from him, and it is in no way diminished by the fact that I instructed him on the wording he should put, "from one Cool Scot to another".  There is nothing wrong with proclaiming one's own coolness.  It's a beautifully made hardback book with glossy pages and proper stitched binding, colourful Moodie images and descriptions of the achievements of each of the 42 cool Scot depicted along with their Coolness Ratings.  Available at, Coolness rating: way too cool for anyone who doesn't have it on their bookshelf.
    A wee postman detail here, the usual Sunny D postman is a gem.  He will go out of his way to be helpful.  But sometimes there's this other postman guy and he'll go out of his way to do his job badly.  He delivers other people's mail to us often and leaves the gate open on his way out.  Perhaps it's a political issue for him, given that the house is obviously the house of a Scottish independence supporter, perhaps he's just an arse.  So, it was the arsey postman who delivered someone else's large package envelope to Starry Towers today.  I wouldn't have minded so much if it was for a neighbour, but this was for a woman at the other end of the village.  I was so tempted to bin it but I put that wrong idea from my head and took a walk.  Wearing an EU Saltire and SNP badges in case the recipient required to be reminded how kind a Scottish independence supporter is.  The receiving gentleman remarked on how good my actions were.



  Major life event coming up.  Today I took the first official step and sent my retirement application form and request to benefit from the phased retirement procedure.
  The Husband was dying (a bacterial infection), and I recieve this text at work.  He cannae even text because he's chittering all over, typos galore.  Then he says I lack empathy.  It's just a wee rigor, also it's very difficult to impress a nurse.  To be fair I'd have been more impressed if he wasn't already on the anti-biotics, and I did show concern two days before when the other symptoms first started and advised him to phone 111.  I'm not a monster.
  When I was at work on that day I noticed this stain of unknown origin on my trouser leg.  It's not the substance it's made of that of any interest, it's the shape, like seeing jesus on a slice of toast.
  Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched The Handmaiden.  Sumptuous.
  The Husband and I watched Il Gioiellino.  Every time I watch a movie telling of (based on actual events) financial scandal, I'm furious again. Only way the people of Scotland can be free from this is with a major progressive step forward and away from the system that permits the elite greedy pocket-lining, tax-dodging mates-network, their corruption-enabling laws, politicians, business-people and their banker pals.  Still love Toni Servillo.
  The Husband and I watched Graduation.  Romanian movie well worth watching for insight into the nature of humankind from a Romanian point of view.  Very good.



  A Sparrowhawk came to the garden.  It's a good sign, I'm obviously a well attended bird restaurant, but I was torn between wanting to watch and photograph him while dreading him taking the life of one of my Sparrows or other wee birds.  The only bird who went near him was a Magpie, he didn't try it with the Magpie.  He's a beautiful bird but all the time he was in the garden he was on prospective-dinner-alert as you'd imagine he would be, every movement was him looking and reacting, three times he behaved like he was going for something tasty, quick eye movement and down he went.  I had to decide watch and photograph or get out there and scare him away, I decided nature should take it's course, but happily my regulars were wise and made themselves scarce.  From what I've been Googling, this Sparrowhawk is a good adult age, the orange of his irises tells his age, the broken iris tells he's had a traumatic injury at some point in his life.
  Every now and then (ok, twice in my life) I've remembered the fridge freezer condenser coils need cleaned.  I really must remember to do this more often, it's apparently important in a climate change way, all that dust on the coils increases the electricity usage.  I'm a Housework Hero, job done.  Listening to A A Gill's Pour Me A Life helped me find the humour in my task.
  Movie watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Runaway Train.  Obviously the '80s, sexist and no respect for health and safety.  Many faults, the '80s acting, just shout a lot.  What helicopter pilot would allow that?!  One guy at the train control office was flicking through a porn magazine at his '80s.  I have a story from the '80s where two male trained nurses ordered me (a young female student nurse) to perform a task which involved me bending up and down a lot, when I looked round to see what they were doing they were sitting with porn mags and their feet on the duty room desk smiling at me, creeps.



  Of all the tragically wrong and stupid things from Trump so far surely really stable genius is the most ridiculous thing from a leader of any country in the world ever.  Surely we've reached peak Trump, please let it be over soon, it's scary having this idiot bigot racist sexist president.  I read Fire And Fury by Michael Wolff, extremely happy Mr Wolff wrote this book.
  Unison have sent me my annual refund cheque again, in lieu of the funds I don't want going to the Scottish branch of the Labour party.  Why they can't just not take the money in the first place is the mystery.
  Feeding the birds, especially at this time of year is an important, pleasurable and gratifying experience.  Here is my recipe for dried Mealworms.  Place dried Mealworms in a bowl, add boiled water, leave 30 mins, feed the birds.  Then try to patiently ignore The Husband's so called jokes re his wife's favourite breakfast cereal.
  Sent these RSPB birdsong cards to my parents just because I know they'll enjoy the surprise "I love you" message and hearing the birdsong when they open their cards, Dad got the Robin, Mum got the Blackbird.
  Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched RAW.  French horror, it's ok, better just for being French.
  The Husband and I watched Patriot's Day.  Very...sing along with me...I'm proud to be an American, but it's actually quite good.
  The Husband and I watched Gorbaciof.  I'm a big Toni Servillo fan, but this is my least favourite so far.
  The Husband and I watched La Ragazza Del Lago.  A fine Toni Servillo movie of a Norwegian book, the tale transferred to Italy.  Good seeing Mr Servillo in this role, he's such a great actor.



  Since Xmas Day I've worked one day, the rest of the time it's Winter and I'm not leaving the house unless my life is at risk.  Even photies have been taken through very clean kitchen windows.
  Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched Baby Driver.  More style than substance, glaringly obvious it's aiming for Tarantino status and failing kinda miserably.  The music's good and Baby is likeable.
  The Husband and I watched Let Us Prey.  Scottish movie, good horror stuff, but like all horror movies there are inexplicable decisions made.  My instructions to the good character at various for backup, phone an ambulance, 9th in the queue, really? how you going to explain that to head office? went unheard unsurprisingly.
  The Husband and I watched Life.  We picked it for the actors.  It looks nice, but it's seriously bad at science and at portraying scientists.  The plot basically ignores everything...rules, protocols and risks.  Me watching Life...that's not right, a scientist wouldn't do that, how do you know it experiences fear? don't do that, shit you done that, why would you do that? You'll have to blow up the ship now, oh, you're going to risk everything alive on Earth, because you're that important? blow up the ship for goodness sake.



  Happy Hogmanay and a Guid New Year all.  Lets hope it's a good one full of love, health and happiness, retirement for me and progress in Scotland achieving independence, that would do very nicely.
  We had The Boy and The Lovely Girlfriend over for New Year's steak pie dinner today.  Click on the above image for the full menu, no one made it to the Banoffee Pie stage (though I see late on this evening that someone has taken a slim slice of it from the fridge) and there was no Vanilla Ice Cream available when I was serving up the Sweet Platter, turns out The Husband had already eaten approximately 9/10ths of the tub throughout the Xmas to New Year week.  This problem solved itself when I remembered we had Ice Cream Shots.
  Movie Watch (no spoilers).  The Husband and I watched The Marker.  Gritty and very dark, not one for when you're feeling depressed about the human race.