Jings, or if you prefer, Eeek. Half way through May already and I’ve not done my hair yet, Actually that’s not true as, since I thought up that bon mot I have actually had a haircut. A friend of some years, (actually younger than me, but most are) who was living in Tarbrax before I was, is a skilled hairdresser She recently pointed out to me that A. My hair was several generations out of date, and B. That it was far too long to be cut easily. Jungle, she said. Quickly solved however as it was reduced in two stages. Presumably the first was to see what it did once the bulk of the weight removed, in much the same way as it is worth taking some of the longer grass off before a proper lawn mowing. Prevents matting too, although I’m not sure if that’s the same for hair. I was also chastised for not using conditioner and was introduced to beard oil….It’s going to be a steep learning curve.

    Anyway here I am with my parting gone for the first time since the early ‘50s and apparently looking much younger. Of course I was younger then too, and shorter, although my hair was a very similar blond shade so I was relieved when the apparent change of appearance wasn’t accompanied by a reduction in height but it’s relative as the man said, so I'll not ask what my relatives think. If they notice. Probably just fashion, so the odds are I’ll just get used to a cold scalp and it’ll all change and I’ll be back to being unfashionable.

    On the ‘news of significance’ front mum’s house finally sold after considerable effort by Jools and Rowls. This refilled the coffers somewhat, especially with the ‘Equity Release’ pay-off returning. I’m fairly sure that’s a financial trick which will be made illegal sooner or later, and like time-share and other confidence tricks be used by the unscrupulous to make even more money to catch the unwary ‘coming and going’. Like the ‘diesel-gate’ affair it’s almost inevitable that where there is a significant flow of money, so there will be con men wading in the stream with nets.
    Timeshare, incidentally seems to have started as a way of laundering the Brinks Mat Gold into Spanish 'real estate'
    The immediate effect for us was that with the return of the 'investment' we could pay off the loan for our own new roof and set aside enough to pay for the replacement of the slate roof on the rental house in July, which will keep the tenants happy.

    We also managed to find a second EV, an MG4 as we’ve found having just the one car to be a bit inflexible when getting repairs and MOTs. Occasionally having two means it’s easier to get villagers to hospital and we don’t have to wait while servicing gets done. Nothing goes completely to plan however, so more on the EV front later.

    EVs still tend at first to be more expensive than ICE so we looked around on-line and bought a 2023 MG4 at £20k. Well below the price expected (£38k) and only 30 minutes away in Falkirk. It had been a demonstrator / courtesy car but only had 150 miles on the clock and only used by mechanics getting home. This one eliminates the 'range anxiety' problem we are supposed to suffer from with early models and has about 300 miles in the ‘tank’. The technology has advanced considerably in the four years since the Nissan was built. The MG has all the bells and whistles I want, perhaps a tad too many beeps and buzzes, and is rather more comfortable for longer runs. The Nissan did about 120 miles. That wasn't much of a problem, but this will be easier for the less populated areas like Shetland. 

    For those who like details it has a 72kWh battery which charges up on off-peak electricity £5.4 empty to full. That would take 10 hours but I usually put in two or three hours each week and keep it at 80%. It is limited to 90 MPH (my choice) and I don't know how fast it accelerates, but it's faster than I'm prepared to go.

   So although we seem to have been throwing money around with wild abandon, actually the only ‘unnecessary’ expenditure has been a couple of pair of boots and another planned trip to Shetland.
    Covid is now considered to be ‘over’ by most. I have my doubts, but life’s too short to worry. So I’ve been catching up with delayed dentistry, medical and optician appointments. There has been a gap of about 3 ½ years, but no significant changes noted. Same glasses prescription mainly for low light driving, one dental hole,now filled, and still waiting on a small semi surgical procedure you don't want to know about. 

    So in practice ageing seems to have been restricted to my macbook laptop which has had a stroke, gone deaf and the mouse has died. I tried rejuvenation with a track-pad transplant but the replacements failed (one was the wrong sort, one was damaged in transit and one simply didn’t work) so now I’m operating with a remote mouse and remote keyboard. A bit Frankenstein, but operating. I usually use a desk-top Mac for documents, the MOBC magazine and newsletters, but the laptop is useful for Wordle and you-tube after breakfast.
     The world keeps changing, no surprise there, and we are getting pushed toward the phone as a primary computer, PDA, communication device and diary. Also watch, clock, radio and wake up alarm, note-pad, satellite navigation, compass and bank, postoffice, encyclopedia, camera, village shop. I think that's most of it and they are mutually competitive in that the main frame  (desktop computer), laptop and many car functions are now shifting toward the phone.

    Outside and largely phone free, we’ve been helping with the local charity WATIF, an improvement foundation for the 3 local villages. Mostly just simple grunt work like skinning the poly tunnel, weeding, moving rocks and manure around and a little light carpentry. The Cafe / restaurant and meeting rooms are progressing and we now have a rather smart patio with a bespoke round table which I shall photo when it stops raining. The next projects are the workshop, which started out as a men's shed but turned out to be a people shed which needs a bit of refurbishment from agricultural barn to workshop. Especially useful for big timber stuff like the patio table and it's proposed 8 satellite tables, gates, doors and windows. Later welding, pottery and craft work will be added as slightly separated spaces.

    We are fortunate in having quite a few experts in the area for running the financial, logistical, organisational and constructional matters of WATIF as well as professional gardeners bee-keepers, and caterers for the volunteer side as well as the occasional paid work. Various therapists, hairdressers, car-drivers, builders, exercise coaches and JCB drivers lend a hand. Quite a few have started engaging with the community after the end of social restrictions promoted sociability, outdoor activities and continued working from home.

    Other stuff nearer the house, well the Scottish Power (electricity people) have been digging up our road, but seem to have put most of it back. I was hoping to get them to replace the overhead wires to our house but they wouldn’t unless I paid for the work which was estimated at ‘very expensive’ so I left that on the basis that they would do it eventually anyway. The remaining holes seem to have been abandoned or forgotten and the original objective of resupplying three houses incomplete, but since one of the holes is in front of one of my garages they'll have to finish it sooner or later. 'Later' seems to be the window of choice, usually a slightly indeterminate Thursday. Last time they dug up the road they didn't refill it so the road collapsed into the trench and a few of us repaired it with a recycled red-brick road which - after a couple of years -  seems to be holding up. I shall be reminding them of that shortly, as I don't really need a new career as civil engineer.

    My laptop, mentioned previously but since I started this,seems to have lost the plot to the point where it wouldn't work for wordle. I use it after breakfast. Fiona has her own alongside me so we need two for this. I ordered another from the same people who supplied the last, originally for mum, as it lasted quite well. Sadly, to update that, I found the replacement was also faulty or at least lacked certain facilities so it has returned for refunding and I'll try again later. Meantime it's back to the broken one with auxiliary mouse and keyboard. Functional but complicated and less portable. Maybe the phone will take on that function as well. 

   On the 'net' I’ve been putting a few words and pictures together as an historical record of the villages, farms and community for interested parties. Local history page I’ve no idea how deep it’ll go but it’s on the bottom of the right hand side of my website front page if you want a look.

    The MG came just in time. The Nissan has very few moving parts, as do all EVs. Something must have been weakened by the accident on Harburn Bridge because after making the occasional odd and intermittent noise it got worse on the way to the repair shop where it was to be looked into. The AA took it in and it did the usual trick of being completely normal so the garage assumed I was imagining it and offered to relieve me of surplus cash for new brakes at the other end of the vehicle. We drove in and played the mechanic / engineer a recording of the noise. Then, I could see he was a bit sceptical,  I drove it around the car-park and it made a number of odd and unpleasant noises as it usually did in the morning. They looked suitably embarrassed having made me drive 40 miles to show them what they could have experienced themselves quite easily, but eventually diagnosed a faulty reducer (a sort of simplified single gear gearbox).
    They still want £3k to fix it though. Such is life. It was probably caused by the idiot that drove into that off-side front corner in 2021 but that case was finally settled recently so there's not much chance of reopening the claim.

    Otherwise we are doing well, in good health and suitably content. The cats are settling in after several years and will by now (11:53 3/6/2024) be warming on a window sill. The quarterly MOBC magazine is almost complete and will be published at the end of June. I'll be continuing with my duties on the MOBC until some time in 2025 which will be 10 years of rewarding but surprisingly time consuming work.
    Holidays in (or on) Shetland beckon  so the MG4 will get it's first decent outing this summer. I did look at the MG garage there last year but the manager was more interested in immediate customers, so we wandered on and looked elsewhere, which eventually turned into a generous bonus.

Time for a snack. Love to all, Jim.