In Scotland, it was 15 degrees and we saw the sun for a total of four hours all week. Here it’s forecast to be 30ish as far as the eye can see. No contest. The pic is of me presenting the clan chief with some of his array of presents since it was his 80th birthday. Scots aren’t really interested in clans. It’s the Americans who are enthusiastic and keep the whole business flourishing.

We had dog sitters staying here while we were away. At 5pm on the Friday evening not long before they were due to arrive, a water pipe burst beneath the sink where the supply came into the house. I found the stopcock and found a plumber who could come out the following Tuesday. Then the maire showed up. ‘I have a friend,’ he said. The friend was here before 6pm. By 7pm he had left with a section of the pipe replaced for a charge of €40.

We have friends in Portugal. They have a lovely half dozen acres in the midst of a National Park, which they hope they have managed to sell after a couple of years of trying. When they came the culture and folk were rural Portuguese. Now they are surrounded by hectares of plastic greenhouses. Being temporary structures they don’t require planning permission and are left to rot when they become tatty and ripped plastic blows all over the countryside. The workers are largely from Nepal and the area now has lots of Nepalese restaurants and shops and the roads are full of small brown people trudging between their homes in shipping containers. It’s not what our friends signed up for.

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