15 Dec

George – 30 November 2017

Today I was what Billy Connolly called “George, my faithful roadie.”

Scamp had a gig in Cumbernauld and had to take the keyboard, stand, music stand, music and assorted bits and pieces. Although they will, and often have fitted in the micra, I decided to drive and use the extra space of the Juke. Amazingly good planning by the Nissan designers ensured that when you fold down the rear 1/3 seat, the keyboard slides in perfectly because the seat folds level with the boot lid. Such good thinking. When we got to the venue there was a space that I’d never have attempted parking in before, but with the magic of the parking camera it was simplicity itself. Unfortunately when I drove them back from the gig I found that the headlight was fogged halfway up the lens. Not what you expect in a new car. I phoned the garage on another matter and asked about the fogged light. The bloke I spoke to in servicing seemed nonplussed by that and started to explain to me what condensation was. More like condescension than condensation. I cut him short and explained that I did know what condensation was, but I wanted to know why I was getting it in my car. He told me that a lot of Nissan cars had that. He didn’t say suffered from that, but I heard the ghost of that phrase under his breath. He even said that his MERCEDES had it. Scamp then mouthed “My Nissan doesn’t have it”. He eventually gave up trying to baffle me with science and impress me that he could afford a Merc and suggested I bring it in so they could ‘have a look at it’. Probably that’s all they will do. They will look at it for a while and see if it will do anything, then tell me there’s nothing wrong with it. I’ve been to garages before. I’ve even survived Arnold Clark. I’m not going to be put off by Western Nissan.

On the way home from the gig, I was watching the sky as there was a lovely sunset building. We took a detour round the back of Condorrat and Mollinsburn to the top of the Whin Edge Brae and got some pretty looking silhouettes with the sunset in the background. That made PoD.

Tomorrow looks cold and clear again and I’ve got coffee booked with Val and Fred. May go floor lamp hunting in the morning. That’s Scamp and me, not Fred, Val and me, just incase you were confused there!

15 Dec

Secret Squirrel Stuff – 29 November 2017

Scamp suggested that we should go for a walk this morning and offered to drive. How could I refuse?

She chose Glasgow Green as the venue and I was up for that. We usually go down the green on a Sunday morning, so it was a bit different to be driven there on a weekday. It was cold, but not uncomfortably so and we walked out to the McLennan Arch and then round past the rowing club boathouse to the viewing gallery over the Clyde. It was there I found the puffed up pigeon, the young gull and the swan. We walked on to the suspension bridge and then out to where there used to be a footbridge over the river to Richmond Park. The bridge has now been demolished but the piers still stand. Maybe they’ll build a new bridge (Aye Right!) Maybe they will, to celebrate the next millennium! We walked a bit further on and that’s where today’s PoD was created. Just a leaf with angled sunlight. I liked it right away. That was as far as we walked. Turned and walked back to the People’s Palace. On the way there we passed a group of school pupils on bikes being shown the basics of mountain biking by what I presume was their PE teacher. A good way to spend an hour or so learning a decent skill set that they can actually use. So much better than ‘book learning’. Good for you Mr Teacher, I applaud you. Coffee in the wintergarden cafe, but no Roll ‘n’ Sausage or toast, and then home.

Spoke to Hazy for half an hour or so after lunch and then Scamp decided she wanted to go in to Glasgow on some undisclosed sortie. So many ‘under the radar’ trips just before Christmas every year. I think that’s why I like it so much. It’s the subterfuge that makes it interesting. My own plans haven’t really been firmed up yet, but when they do, I’ll participate in the “I’m just going in to Glasgow”, “No, it’s alright I’ll probably just go myself” sort of Secret Squirrel stuff.

I drove Scamp to the station and then I had time to download this morning’s photos and have a look through them before I got the text to say that she was coming home on the X3. Time to make the risotto for dinner and then salsa. Salsa was quite interesting, but the class is reducing in numbers again and I felt that Jamie Gal was playing for time a bit.

It’s cold again tonight, 1.4ºc but it’s forecast to get warmer again from tomorrow night. I’m going to be the ‘roadie’ tomorrow when Gems play their second gig in a week before the Christmas break. Other than that I’m a free agent!

15 Dec

A longer walk – 28 November 2017

Scamp was on a mission today.

First she loaded up her car with the bottles for the bottle bank and junk for the skip and off she drove to the dump to get rid of the stuff. On the way home she drove to Tesco and loaded up with more stuff, mainly food this time. She told me that although it looked cold outside, it wasn’t all that bad. I took her at her word and drove to Auchinstarry to walk the canal. I had a bit more daylight today and the light was good, so I walked out to Dumbreck marshes. Along the way I met some swans on the ice in the canal.  The water under the trees and out of the sun was frozen right across the canal.  I also got a view back to the houses beside the water which I quite liked, but the swan got PoD. Walked over the plantation and on to Dumbreck. Walked through the marshes to the edge of the wildlife reserve. Out there I saw some long tailed tits doing a bit of acrobatics in one of the trees. That’s a picture of one doing a ‘cannonball’ above. As the sun went away, it got a bit colder so I made my way back to the car. On the way I stopped for a panorama of the pond between the two paths. The red berries are deadly poison.  That’s why the birds leave them alone.  I think that about covers all the photos.

Not a bad walk. Easily covered my 10,000 steps, but sat down with a cup of coffee and a roll and that wee bugger on my wrist wanted to ‘go for a stroll’. I’m afraid I said some bad words.

While I was out, Scamp had ‘done a bit of tidying up’. She only does this when I’m out, because I just hold her back. I know that. Then she did a bit of gardening. After my late lunch I helped(?) her with a bit of DTP in MS Publisher. Not the most sophisticated DTP program, but it covers the bases, or at least it did. I couldn’t believe the amount of things I’d forgotten how to do. It used to be so simple, three years ago! Between us we got it done, but I suspect she’ll go back to her old way of doing it in MS Word in future.

Jamie phoned tonight and entertained us with a tale of the visiting Finnish group at his work who were introduced to the Epicurean delights of fish suppers. I really wonder what they thought of eating out of a piece of paper! Still, it’s a delicacy, and it’s the fare of the country, so perhaps it was the right thing to do. When in Rome …  We had stir-fry tonight, eaten from a plate, with cutlery!

Tomorrow we’ll probably end up at beginners class for Salsa. It will give us some exercise, if nothing else. Other than that, no plans.

15 Dec

So Suite – 28 November 2017

Up early this morning. Phone rang at 7.14am to announce the imminent arrival of our new two piece suite.

The driver said he’d be arriving in about 15 minutes and just before 7.30am the gigantic lorry made its slow approach up the hill. Less than 30 minutes later, the two seater and three seater settees were in place and the van was gone to its next destination. I thought we had had an early rise until the bloke in charge told me his day starts at 5.30am. Those are just numbers and letters. That time doesn’t really exist. The new suite is quite different from the old one. Bigger than we had imagined it and quite solid feeling. Not uncomfortably so, but firm, yes, that’s the best way to describe it, firm.

Now that we were up, it seemed a good idea to get on with the day and get stuff done. Scamp had a skirt to take back to M&S and I had a head full of hair that needed controlling The hair, not the head, you understand. To solve both problems we drove in to Glasgow and went our separate ways, agreeing to meet up later in Cafe Nero. My haircut took longer than anticipated because the barber (the one from Larky) was telling me all sorts of tall tales of girlfriends, attempted murder and suicide pacts. Haircuts are such an education in this old-fashioned barbers shop. Sometimes it’s politics, sometimes it’s tall tales, some times it’s just plain nonsense. It’s always entertaining.

When I eventually took my leave with the shearing done, I hurried up Sausage Roll Street to meet Scamp who had texted me to say she was waiting in Nero. After downing my coffee we made our way back to the car and then stopped off at Office World, an awful name for what used to be that Aladdin’s cave that used to be Staples. I was (still) looking for a printer. I didn’t see any of the photo printers that wouldn’t cost an arm and a leg for ink, but I did see an Epson that used bottles of ink. It looked like a good deal, but I wasn’t sure how good the photo quality would be. If it didn’t produce the quality I was looking for, it would certainly be much more economical than the HP that Scamp was using for her printing needs. We decided to look into it.

After lunch I had a look at the reviews and it seemed that it could indeed produce fairly decent quality photo printouts and the economy aspect was just as good as it seemed. We decided to go for it and found it was available in Argos. Quick trip to Bishopbriggs and brought the big box home in the Juke. I must say it’s a great car for carrying big boxes because you just slide them onto the raised bed in the back, not into the hold, so to speak. Even easier to get them out again. I came back the scenic route and that’s where today’s PoD came from. Half an hour of setting up and we were good to go. Text prints well and so, to my surprise do photos. Success. Of course, more testing and tweaking is necessary before I’ll be 100% sure (if I’m ever 100% sure!)

Out dancing tonight and the new(ish) move tonight was Hlar. I think it’s short for Hilarious. It’s the one where the leader balances on one foot while the follower drags him round in a circle. Don’t attempt it on a carpet, or on solid floor with ‘sticky’ shoes.

Came home and tested the new settee. It’s growing on me. Also, it smells New!

Tomorrow, taking stuff to the dump, that’s all that’s planned. Life will find a way to fill in the spaces.

15 Dec

Printers and Mr Grey – 26 November 2017

It was another sub zero morning, but unlike recent days, it soon clouded over and the temperature rose … a bit.

After lunch we drove to Bishopbriggs to look for a photo printer at Currys superstore. They did have a few, but although they had one on show that was on my short leet, they didn’t have any for sale. The usual message of “It’s out of stock, but we can get it for you in two or three days”. Maybe I’ll have better luck in Argos tomorrow. Got so fed up I even went to ASDA to see if they had anything worth while – they didn’t.

When we came home I prepared tonight’s dinner, my dinner, that is which was Shin of Beef. Stuck it in the oven and went out for an hour in the fading light to see what was worth photographing in St Mo’s. Not a lot as it turned out. Spooked Mr Grey who flew around the pond and then settled back on the boardwalk, almost where he had taken off from. He posed there for a while which was very kind of him, otherwise I wouldn’t have a PoD. I’d intended going out for an hour or so, but had forgotten my hat and gloves and the light was really failing now, so I made my way home after half an hour.

Watched an immensely boring final F1 GP of the year. Had dinner, and yes, the shin of beef was lovely. Watched Susan Calman’s sarcastic and very funny exit from Strictly. My, what exciting lives we lead.

Tomorrow the new suite gets delivered so we have to get to bed early tonight. Our four hour delivery slot is from 7am until 11am!

15 Dec

Snow and Ice – 25 November 2017

Well, for once I stayed true to my intentions. This morning I went for a cold walk in the ice and snow.

Spotted a deer standing near a pond in St Mo’s, not the big pond, but a smaller one deeper in the trees. Got a few shots of it before it took fright, bringing a bigger deer with it. I’d have liked to have got a bit closer, but that wasn’t going to happen. I was wearing my red Bergy jacket and it doesn’t blend in well with the dark trees. However I did get a few shots and that was good because I hadn’t seen any deer in St Mo’s for ages. However, it was the high key photo of Cow Parsley that won PoD.

Came back and had a shower while Scamp made some tea and toast. Lovely! That is both Scamp and the tea and toast were lovely! Scamp thought we should go in to Glasgow on the bus and I thought that was a good idea too. We took the slow bus, the X3 in and surprisingly, the driver (David, I think) was an FP. Glasgow and especially JL was absolutely jumping. I heard one woman sayin “They’re going absolutely crazy over there.” I don’t know where ‘over there’ was, but folk seemed to have decided that today was the last shopping day before Christmas, grabbing anything they could get their hands on.

We decided the Glasgow visit was a bad idea, but we’d go for lunch anyway and Pulcinella was nominated as today’s restaurant. It was a bit cold in the restaurant, but the food was as good as ever. Scamp had Minestrone and Spaghetti Pulcinella and I had Pasta e Faglioli and Penne Amatriciana, all of which was excellent.

We walked back up to Sauchiehall Street and Scamp investigated clothes shops while I browsed the book shop. After that it was coffee, a cake and home on the X3 again after just missing the much faster X28. All of this was done in a temperature that claimed it was 2ºc. I don’t believe that.

That was about it. When we got home I tried again to get the Photos app to do what I wanted and eventually gave up. Fortunately I chanced on a website that said it was still possible to download iPhoto. I was never all that enamoured of iPhoto, but I was sure it would do what I wanted. I was right. It is a much better photo management tool than the dire Photos will ever be until Apple get their finger out and make it work properly. The upshot is that my 2018 calendar is almost finished. Well, version 1 is almost finished. There will be further versions before we get to print.

Mentioning print, I think that will be tomorrow’s task, the testing and price checking of the short leet of printers to replace the old Canon Pixma whose demise I still mourn.

15 Dec

Snow – 24 November 2017

It was a cold start this morning for some, but not for me. I turned over and went back to sleep.

Had to get up eventually after Scamp went off to meet her niece. Did a bit of painting, but eventually had to admit that it wasn’t working and heaved it in the bin. That’s when I noticed it was snowing outside. Luckily it was falling on to wet ground and didn’t lie, but it showed the intent of the weather to land us in the white stuff soon. According to the weather folk, it will be worse tomorrow. If it is cold in the morning, I’ll get up early and go out and get some photos. That said from a nice warm, centrally heated livingroom. It might be different in the cold light of early Saturday morning. I did get a photo or two and one of them is the PoD. As usual it’s not an entirely honest shot. The dried up flower stem was in focus in one shot and the water drop in another, so Photoshop provided the necessary magic to combine the two.

In the afternoon two blokes came to remove the two seater settee. They made the whole operation look so simple. No removing of doors. No removing of door handles. Just a lift and a turn and the bloody thing went out without a whimper. That same operation on the three seater took over half an hour and a lot of swearing.

Later I searched the internet for a bargain on photo printers, but, although there were offers galore, there were no actual printers to back them up. It was all ‘pay up front and collect next week from the store’. Eh, no, that’s not how it works mate. If you’ve not got the actual goods in the shop, then my money will be staying in my pocket. Once bitten (by Vodafone) twice shy.

So, it looks like snow tomorrow and there’s rugby on in Embra again, and I did check this time, the game starts at 2.30pm at Murrayfield, so the trains will be mobbed. Don’t know where we’ll go.

15 Dec

A Gaggle of Goosanders – 23 November 2017

Busy day. Lots of baking and cooking and clearing up and laying tables, because Isobel was coming for dinner.

Since Isobel is , I had to ignore my usual bread recipe and make bread with gluten-free flour, lots of water, lots of oil and two egg whites. I’ve made the bread before and it turned out, much to my surprise, perfectly edible. Today, I was a bit more confident than I was last time, and possibly it’s true that familiarity breeds contempt. Made the dough, or more correctly, white slurry and poured it into a cake tin to rise. I reckoned I had an hour or so free, since Scamp would be out herding Gems into Abronhill for the afternoon, so I drove down to Auchinstarry to walk the canal, the plantation and the railway.

Walking along the canal I came across a flock? Crowd? I eventually settled on Gaggle of Goosanders, sailing merrily up and down the canal. Chasing one another and diving for fish. I don’t think I’ve seen so many. Too many to count and because they were crossing paths and almost crashing into one another, a pointless task to count them. I only see them on the canal in the winter. Do they overwinter here? Must check.

Dogs. Why are there so many dogs and doggy owners in the world? They all seemed to be congregating at Auchinstarry. It seemed that everywhere I looked there were dogs or folk looking for dogs. There was one exception, apart from me. One dog seemed to be following me and also seemed to be looking for an owner. My “Sorry mate. I’m not the owner you’re looking for” didn’t faze it at all. In fact it ran ahead of me and then waited until it was sure I was catching up before running on. Did it want me to follow it, or does that only happen in Lassie (or, if you’re Scottish, Black Bob)? But then it got distracted. A cyclist came down the path going in the opposite direction and it immediately chose him as its lost owner. The last I saw of it was the black blur tailing the cyclist for all it was worth, far down the path. I hope it got home safely.

Crossed into the plantation and came upon a woman delightedly ‘training’ her Staffie to ‘SIT’ and ‘STAY’. I don’t know who was having the most fun, the dog or her. A few bends later I noticed the buzzard sitting majestically in a tree and grabbed a few shots, before being investigated by what looked like two Dobermans with half their legs cut off. Maybe they were miniature Dobermans OR, as they both had sparkly rhinestone collars, maybe they were miniature Doberwomans. I’d have asked the owner what variety of dog they were, but she swept imperiously past without a word. Thankfully the rest of the walk was dog-free as was the trip to Tesco afterwards.

Got home to find that the bread had risen quite well, too well in fact and was oozing down the sides of the cake tin and over the worktop. Oops. Time to put the oven on I think. Spent the remainder of the afternoon making Pesto and Marinara sauce to cover the Italian Chicken. Thanks again Neil D’ for that recipe. The bread baked fine and was deemed a success by Isobel and Scamp. The chicken was partly successful as we hadn’t known that Isobel didn’t eat tomatoes, but she did manage to scrape the marinara off and all in all it was a good night. Lots of entertaining stories and just good conversation.

PoD was not the Goosander or the Buzzard, but the pretty white things growing over the canal. There’s no accounting for my taste!

Tomorrow I need to remove the door to the living room and the handles from the front door as the two seater is booked to make its exit to the charity shop. Seating will be at a premium then until Monday. Scamp has suggested that we utilize the sun loungers. It seems sensible because they were hardly ever used in the garden this summer!

15 Dec

Cabin Fever – 22 November 2017

It was so dull today I had no incentive to get past the door until about 5.30pm

Just dull and dreary. Rain too, all day. The highlight tonight was going to salsa. Dancing with the beginners gave us both a bit of a lift. Tomorrow, although it will be busy, will be better, MUST be better.

Couldn’t think of a suitable shot. Tried a few, but eventually settled on a ‘Weeman’ picture. One of my favourites is the Ninjar. Yes, I know he’s really a a Ninja, but he’s a Scottish ninja, which makes him a ninja ned or to use Nedspeak, a Ninjar. He’s currently on patrol down in Oz protecting ‘Oor Kez’ from marauding beasties and mad Labourites. She’ll be alright. She’s got the Ninjar on her side, watching her back.

Cooking all day tomorrow for Isobel.

15 Dec

Perf – 21 November 2017

Today we thought we’d go to Perf or to give it its proper name Perth.

Now we had to decide whether to:

  • Train (costs £20 have to chance getting a space in Croy station carpark and have to change trains at a cold platform in Stirling, going and coming.)

  • Bus (Free, but then we’ve got to wait in the cold at Castle Greyskull AKA Cumbersheugh town centre and there’s only one bus an hour back from Perf, except when you actually want to come home and then there’s none that hour. How do they know when I want to come home?)

  • Drive (Petrol costs, not very relaxing and the weather is going to be tricky, but we can come home when we want and it’s comfortable – no hanging about waiting for public transport.)

No contest, we’re driving.

We were just getting ready to go when the big yellow cooncil lorry arrived and two blokes carted the three seater settee away in it. Good, one down, one to go. The weather was just miserable leaving Cumbersheugh, but it gradually got worse as we climbed up the A9 towards Perth. On the high level parts of the road we were essentially in the clouds and it felt like it with poor visibility, although a few drivers of small builders’ lorries apparently had radar fitted which allowed them to see further ahead than most of us. The benefit of this is that they didn’t have to use lights at all. Brilliant. I must look into this innovation in driving safety.

Arrived in Perth and it was simply dreich and dismal. Coffee first, then a wander round the shops. For me that meant the Waterstones and Oxfam bookshops. Got a couple of books in the Oxfam shop, but everything in Waterstones was at Christmas prices, so no good deals there. Next we went to get coffee and tea, the main reason for going to Perth in the first place. Couldn’t decide where to go for lunch and finally settled on The George for Fish & Chips with breaded haddock instead of battered. That done we walked back to the car which was at the other end of the town and got a pleasant surprise. The ticket machine was out of order at the booth, so the bloke told us we would only be charged a quid instead of the four quid we expected. Result!

Drove back down the road in worsening conditions after a quick fruitless visit to Morrisons to see if they had any St Peter’s Plum Porter – they didn’t. It wasn’t really fruitless, we did get some Russet apples, so we got some fruit!

Managed a few photos with the Teazer. PoD was the statue in the main street in Perth with his trendy Christmas scarf.

Also managed a watercolour painting from a photo taken at The Smiddy on Saturday

Tomorrow we’ve got nothing planned. May or may not go to Salsa as it’s only one beginners class, but the likelihood is that we’ll go.