Archive for the ‘curiosities’ Category

Strange things happen in bad weather, and in December, traffic wardens in Edinburgh were unable to operate properly due to the sheer volume of snow.   Parking bays, yellow lines etc. were completely obscured, and piles of snow were left at the side of the roads.

Many Councils, not just Edinburgh, were left without income from parking tickets for the duration, and are now feeling the pinch.   The army of Edinburgh traffic wardens have a reputation of being extremely efficient – they have a job to do and get on with it.    But  the staggering figure is the amount issued in parking fines every day in Edinburgh:   would you believe that this is £50,000?    EVERY DAY.

Edinburgh Traffic wardens

Edinburgh Traffic Wardens in the Snow - Gie them shovels!

It makes you think though:     if the citizens of Edinburgh want to teach Edinburgh Council a lesson  for introducing the stupid, stupid tram project, they just need to obey the parking rules to the letter for a few months.

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My siblings and I were put outside as  babies  in the pram to sleep, and we put our own children outside likewise, well wrapped up.     They would wake up with rosy cheeks from the fresh air and often lie for ages looking up at tree branches and leaves moving in the breeze.      Don’t people do this any more?

We had a lady with a 6 month old staying along the road for the past three months.    The child was taken from the house to the car, to the supermarket each day, and then straight back again.    I never even saw them out for a walk, which was a shame as they had a small dog which would have benefitted from a little exercise, and the lawns would have been a little cleaner.    It is such a waste – this is such a lovely part of the world to be out and about in.

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Now and again, I find myself on a delivery round for one cause or another.   I am just back from such a round with literally bloody knuckles from difficult letterboxes. 

letterboxNow I know, living in the Perthshire countryside, that letterboxes can be a reliable source of drafts, and I understand why people fit brushes or sprung flaps to the inside.    Sometimes both.    But some letter boxes this morning had an unnecessarily strong spring-loaded front flap, then lavatory brush strength bristles with a final strong spring loaded flap after that.     It is impossible to get stuff through without bending it, and posting material in is a two handed operation:   fingers lift the top flap, in through the brushes and push the back flap open – the other hand then posts in the letter.      But some letter boxes are designed well – they keep out the drafts, yet allow for easy posting.     These have flaps, but not too strongly springy, and if they have bristles, they are soft.    There ought to be a design standard which is acceptable to the Royal Mail.

doorAnd who thinks it is OK to put a letter box at ground level?     It really isn’t.    And if it is a Fort Knox type of letter box, it is nigh impossible.

And this morning is the first time that a dog had a go at me.   I stood still and adopted a non threatening position, yet the dog still came at me.   My thick jacket was good protection.    Dogs usually like me.  This one didn’t.

The very worst deliveries though are strong letter boxes with a fierce dog on the inside.    The knack is to stuff the post in just enough to do the job, but before the dog gets your fingers.

Why not take the test yourself – take a letter, stand outside your front door, and try to post it in.    See?   Stop laughing – it is not funny!       Posties have my sympathy.

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Do Cats Eat Bats?

We have four cats at present who live outside and make their living quarters in the farm buildings.    They keep mice at bay, but they do catch other things as well.    Our young ginger female had kittens a few weeks ago, and quite early on was bringing them live mice and voles to ‘play with’ before eating them – teaching them to be good mousers.

We do occasionally find other things killed which are not so nice, including a variety of birds.    Some things they catch, but will not eat, like moles.   This morning we found a ‘still alive’ bat on our doorstep – a small one with very big ears.   I rescued it (carefully) and put it in a tree, so we shall see how it gets on.    Carefully, because they can bite, and have been known to carry rabies.

Bats are protected, so although cats may have a go at them, it is illegal for people to disturb them, or their roosts.

Do cats eat bats?   Probably not then, but they may catch them.

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Blackbird Behaviour

We have a male blackbird who has been attacking his reflection in a window here for the past two days.    He is making quite a racket and has made the window absolutely filthy.     Yet he persists.   It is mating season, and clearly his reflection is seen as a rival.

We have tried shining a light out from the window, scaring him off from inside ….. and outside, but he is still going at the window hammer and tongs when he gets a chance.

Our latest tactic has been to hang an old pillowcase outside the window.   He is still in the tree outside, looking mighty puzzled.    At least the noise has stopped for now.

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We had a bit of excitement in our village this week.   A police cordon appeared with cones and tape blocking off the whole pavement on one side and parking on both sides of the street.    A white boxy trailer thing (mobile incident room) appeared, and there were a series of rather chilly looking policemen standing guard in rota.     Then a minibus of the white suited brigade rolled up to get stuck into forensics.    It was the whole works.  

Like everywhere else, we get our share of vandalism, and we had a stabbing in the 1970s, but being good the Taggart watchers that we are (supporting Scottish acting talent of course) it looked all set for the big man himself to roll up, climb out of his car and announce “there’s been a murder”.

Well, not exactly.    A cannabis factory had been discovered – a whole house growing cannabis plants.    500 plants, according to the local paper.    Apparently these places are springing up all over the place these days, but to be honest, we did not expect it in our busy Main Street.

The Police set up the cordon on Monday night, and it was only lifted late on Thursday afternoon.    To the layman like me, that’s a long time to deal with 500 cannabis plants and get a few fingerprints.    It was very disruptive to the shops round about and casued significant loss of business.

Still, the law must take its course.   Currently not sure if anyone has been arrested for this.

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HMRC Apology

Like the other 24,999,999 people who have their account details lost by HMRC, we received a letter of apology this week.    I am still not sure whether to be worried about this, or not, although I probably should be I suppose.

Whatever – that’s still a huge postage bill for HMRC (paid by us taxpayers).    Think of the logistics of ordering a cool 25 million envelopes and 50,000 reams of paper, never mind the cost of the post to go on top.    It a is pretty mind-boggling exercise, particularly when you consider that all the letters were personalised – no general circular this.

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Last swallows

The last swallows have finally left today.    There was a very late brood in a nest in my workshop.    They make a spectacular mess under their nests which will now have to be cleared up.

But I hope these now very late migrants make it to Africa OK.

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It is the 20th May today, and some ash trees are still not in leaf.   I really cannot remember them being so late before.    It is very odd.

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What has happened to the oak trees this year?    Round here, they are already bursting into leaf.   That’s ahead of the beeches and of course, the ash.     And it is before the swallows have arrived.    It is really unusual, as oak usually comes into leaf in May. 

As the saying goes:

“If the oak flowers before the ash, then be ready for a splash;    if the ash flowers before the oak, then get ready for a soak”.

We must be in for a really scorching summer then.

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