Right Said Fred – 20 November 2017

Woke to a light grey Scottish sky. Light in colour but heavy with rain which they were proudly pouring down on us and it continued to pour down all day.

The big job this morning was the decanting of the the three-seater settee to the front garden for uplift tomorrow by the cooncil van. With typical NLC efficiency they had confirmed that the uplift would be some time between 7.30am and 6pm. However they forgot to confirm the day, so all we have is the word of the person on the other end of the phone last week. We tried twisting and turning the settee every which way, but it simply wouldn’t go through the door. The door had to come off. Still we needed that extra 20mm or so. The feet had to come off too. with that done, we now had the settee in the hall where it could be maneuvered more easily. Now we just had to get it through the front door. Again we twisted it and turned it, but it wouldn’t go. I did think about taking the door off, but that meant using a set of Allen Keys and they were in a cupboard that was blocked by the settee. Then I had the eureka moment. I didn’t need to take the whole door off, just removing the handles would be enough. So that is what I did and with a push and a shove a grunt or two and a few muttered sweary words the settee landed in the front garden, where it now resides until its uplift by the cooncil, some time between 7.30am and 6pm, hopefully tomorrow. Now we just need to go through the same procedure on Friday when the two-seater gets uplifted by a furniture charity, but we’ll leave the professionals to bring in the new settee next Monday. If you get a chance, look up “Right Said Fred” by Bernard Cribbins on Spotify. You’ll understand how this furniture removal thing works!

After we’d tidied up the living room and the hall, it was time for Gems to arrive although the sopranos were sitting were sitting on dining room chairs and the altos were on the two-seater. I didn’t wait to hear the comments, I headed to the leisure centre for a swim (hopefully), a sauna (probably) and a shot in the steam room (definitely). As it happened, I managed all three, although there were a lot of people in the pool for a while. I came away feeling a lot better than when I’d gone in. The heat and gentle exercise seemed to relax my poor battered, stretched and twisted body. I’m getting too old for this furniture moving lark.

Came home and it was time for dinner (chilli for me. Baked potato for Scamp) before we drove in to Glasgow for our Monday double dose of salsa. We hadn’t been to any class above level two for two weeks and it showed in our dancing, well, in mine at least. However we enjoyed the moves we learned which were Eva, Disco, Iadonovan and Puerto. I’d never have remembered them, but Jamie G demonstrated them at the end of the class and encouraged us to video them. Evalina from the 6.30 class also told us that there is a private WhatsApp group for sharing salsa videos from class. That would be useful. It was while we were in class that I realised I hadn’t put kidney beans into the chilli. Funny the things you think about at the most inappropriate times!

I grabbed a few shots after the removal was done, but before Gems arrived. Just a few shots in the garden taken despite the rain. The raindrops won PoD.

We had planned to go to Perth tomorrow, but now we’re not so sure. It looks like it will be Wet, Wet, Wet. Without Marti Pellow!

Deep and Crisp and Even – 19 November 2017

It was a lovely frosty morning (-1ºc) with bright sunshine, so I decided to get up (fairly) early and go out to source some photos in St Mo’s.

Scamp then noticed that Hazy had phoned yesterday when we were out and because we hadn’t checked the phone when we got in, we hadn’t phoned her back. So she warned me that she was going to check if Hazy was free for the return call. I told her I had my phone with me and to text me if she was up for a call back. I’d got a couple of photos which you can see above and was just walking into the woods to see if there were any photogenic deer available when my phone vibrated to tell me that Hazy was indeed on the phone. I about turned and retraced my steps back to the house and had a chat with Hazy. After comparing notes on books we’d read, she went to rest and I went for a coffee.

From then on the temperature rose just enough to take away the frost without providing a comfortable temperature for a walk. As a result, after lunch I got a sketch done for my one-a-week personal challenge and started planning the Keyboard Maestro macro that would allow me to automate the playlist creation for the car player. I didn’t get far with that, but at least I did get the sketch done.

We headed out to Glasgow for the Sunday Social at Arta and decided to park in JL carpark rather than try for an on-street space near Arta itself. The reason was that tonight was the switch on for the Christmas lights and I just knew parking would be at a premium. Got parked easily in JL which was a surprise, but the crowds around George Square were much more than we had anticipated. Added to the fact that anti-terrorist blockades had been erected around the square, it took us ages to get down through the city to the venue.

Arta itself was quite quiet until just after the switch-on, then it livened up a bit. We left earlier than we’d intended, hoping to avoid most of the crowds, but came out just as the fireworks display started. Once we were on Buchanan Street and the fireworks had ended, the crowds (estimated at 20,000) were streaming out and heading for the carparks and the bus station. Got through without too much pushing and shoving and emerged onto Dundas Street from the carpark without too much problem. One punter was a bit annoyed that I actually wanted to drive my car out of the carpark and onto the road. He seemed to think he had right of way and could walk in front of me. A quick “Fuck Off” informed him of the error of this assumption. Got home in double quick time after that.

A dull, dreary, grey day with nothing much to recommend it apart from a walk in the frosty air and a phone conversation with Hazy this morning. Oh yes, and the dancing was good too. PoD was the frozen cow parsley.

Tomorrow is Monday with all the timetable that entails. It’s 4.5ºc just now and raining, so not much chance of a frosty walk tomorrow.

Out To Lunch – 18 November 2017

Neither of us could decide where to go today.

We’d both considered travelling to Embra on the train, but Scotland were hosting the All Blacks at Murrayfield and that meant the trains would be busy. If we’d looked a bit closer we might have noticed that the game didn’t start until after 5pm, so the 10.15am train wouldn’t have been all that busy. As it was, we waited too long and missed the sunshine again. We finally settled on M&S in Dunblane for some shopping and possibly a cup of coffee. On the way there I made the suggestion that we should maybe detour to The Smiddy, a new farm shop / tearoom just outside Doune. Yes, that met with approval. So after buying more than we needed at M&S we went through Doune, giving a nod to David Stirling on the way past. Such a great place for a memorial. With his binoculars in his hand and his coat tails flapping he looks quite the part on the hilltop. Google him if you’ve never heard of him.

Couldn’t remember whether it was right or left leaving Doune – it was left! Five minutes down the road took us to the Smiddy. I was watching the light on the hills as we approached it and was pleased that I managed to grab just a little of the magic before it blew away. The Smiddy is a bit twee and expensive, but the views are good and so is the food, so we weren’t complaining. We were just having a light lunch, intending to have a curry delivered tonight for supper, but both our lunches were substantial enough to stand by themselves, so the curry was postponed until another day.

By the time we left, the light was beginning to fail and evening was approaching fast. Spent the evening working out how to create a playlist on a USB drive to play in the car. It’s remarkably simple to do, just the Mac software makes it a bit of a tedious task. However, it worked and I’ve tested it in the car. Now what I need to do is create a Keyboard Maestro macro to do the heavy lifting for me. That should be a fun job for a wet afternoon. Lots of swearing and talking to myself.

Todays PoD is a heavily edited picture of the light on the hills from The Smiddy.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go dancing in the late afternoon, but the Christmas lights get switched on in Glasgow tomorrow afternoon, so traffic will be hectic and parking places at a premium. Wish me luck.

I want to go back! – 17 November 2017

I’ve had enough of the dull, dark, dismal days. I want to go back to the Sun, Sea and Sangria of Tenerife.

I could just finish today’s blog entry there, but there were some highlights too. In the morning we put away the holiday cases until next year. After lunch I drove up to Castle Greyskull AKA the Antonine Centre to meet Val for a coffee. Although we were without Fred for most of the meeting, we did manage to set the world to rights and decry the misery that is Windows 10. We had been ousted from our usual Costa because all the seats were taken, but the quality of the coffee in the alternative Costa was no better. One brightener was meeting an ex-pupil who asked me if I was still teaching. When I told him not to be silly he just laughed and said “I didn’t think so, because you’re smiling!” Was I always so grumpy at work? Yes, I suppose I was.

By the time we came out into the grey twilight that is afternoon up north it was raining just to make us feel even more dismal.

I drove Val and Mrs Val home before going home myself. We had Cod Chowder and a glass or two of wine for dinner and the day didn’t seem so bad then.

Today’s PoD is a placemarker. A flower dunked in a bucket of Lighroom.

Tomorrow is another day. Don’t know where it will take us, but I’ll be smiling!

Brie, Apple & Honey again – 16 November 2017

A cold clear start to the day. Blue sky and sunny, but low temperatures.

I suppose I should have gone out early to get some photos, but I didn’t and by the time we were heading out, the clouds were gathering. We drove to Clachan of Campsie, not to Wheelcraft, but to the gallery tearoom and that’s where I got my second brie, apple and honey sandwiches. If you’ve not tried it, you are really missing out. I’ve tried it on brown bread and on white now and I think brown is the winner. Last time I had it in the gallery the apple was sliced micro thin. This time they were in big chunks. I think big chunks suit the rustic theme here. Sorry, got a bit cheffy there 😉

Got caught by the rain on the way home. We were just in Torrance, so it’s true that “Down came the rain in Torrance” – Gospel Chorus. Then as we were almost home on the motorway, the rain was still falling but the sun was shining from a bright blue sky! It’s Scotland, you expect that sort of thing!

When we arrived home I did go out for an hour or so to get PoD which might look quite good, but that’s only thanks to the adjustment brush and the graduated filters that brought some life to the sky. Still, it was worth it to see the final result.

Drove in to Glasgow tonight to help out at yet another beginners class, this time in Barca.  It was a good laugh and I think we both enjoyed it.  Didn’t enjoy the walk back to the car though.  Too many wideos and jakies hanging around Glasgow at that time of night.  However, it did increase our step-count for the day.

Tomorrow is coffee with Val. The rest of the day will revolve around that.

Recovery Mode – 15 November 2017

Woke to dull, grey, cold Scotland.

However, a night in your own bed works wonders. Much lighter breakfast than we’ve been used to last week, but that won’t do any harm and will, hopefully remove some of those extra kilos we’ve both gained.

Today consisted of making inroads in the piles of washing, emptying suitcases and re-stocking the fridge. I went out at about 2.30 to get some photos, forgetting that the light goes around 3pm. That makes today’s grab shots the best I’ve got. Even at that, I was working at 10,000 ISO which accounts for the amount of digital noise in the pics.

Did go to salsa tonight and only stayed to help at one beginners class, then came home. But great news, Glasgow Cooncil have found some parking meters in a skip somewhere and they take the new pound coins, so no more harassing people for their old now non-legal pound coinage.

Finally got a chance to display my sketch of last week.  The view from the roof terrace down onto the complex beside us.  It looked nice, but the grass is always greener … !

Don’t know what’s happening tomorrow. It’s too late to think and I’ve finally cleared my blog backlog. Is that what ‘blog’ stands for? Does it stand for BackLOG? It seems to for me.

Back to reality – 14 November 2017

Taxi booked for 11am. Arrived a bit late, but got us to the airport with time to spare … luckily! Enormous zig-zag queue but with the good organization we got through check-in and security in about an hour. Flight was on time or just ahead of time and then we drove in a great long queue along the M8 behind a wide load with police car outriders moderating the overtaking traffic. Finally arrived home later than intended, tired, but pleased to be back to reality. Fish fingers, egg and tomato for dinner. Not the three course meals we had become used to, but certainly a lot less fattening!

PoD is the view from the balcony in a warm place.

Tomorrow is recuperation day.

The last day in a warm place – 13 November 2017

The last day here and it was a cloudy, dull one! Honest, it was just preparing us for what is to come.

We didn’t waste it. We spent some time on the roof reading and snoozing. I also took the opportunity to take some moody shots of the mountains covered in cloud. As if that was unusual. Well it is here, but not in Scotland. Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch we walked down to the town and on the way we calle in to The Pantry and I had one final baraquito. This one served in a small champagne glass as you can see. Try getting that kind of service in Costa.

When we came back it was time to face the dreaded packing. Actually it was fairly easy this time because the case was only about two thirds full because I didn’t have a kilt roll, a jacket, sporran or heavy brogues. It’s amazing the weight and bulk that accrues from them. By the time we got them fairly well organized we just had enough time to go and sit on the roof for an hour before getting ready for dinner. We were both agreed that the roof space with its astro-turf, pools and of course the bar was the highlight of the hotel. Also, for safety reasons it’s off limits to children, so it’s quiet. Well, it’s usually quiet, but four fat permatanned morons who were screaming, shouting and just being arseholes at the far side were making more noise than any children down in the kids pool below. I smiled to think the kind of noise they would make if they fell the five stories to the concrete below. But then again, someone would have to clean up that mess and if it got into the pool it would have clogged the filters and there would have to be an investigation and we’d all have to give statements. Still, just think of the sound a watermelon makes dropped on concrete …

Our last two G&Ts were wasted because they’d run out of tonic and a G&T without T is just a G & . It’s not the same. Anyway, it was time to go get ready for a last dinner. Then a last walk down town for a Long Island for Scamp and a Mojito for me. It was actually getting cool when we made our way back to the hotel, up the ‘killer hill’. Our name for a long slow climb.

And so to bed for one last time in the land of the heat and reversing bin motors at 3am almost every morning. Looking forward to sleeping in our own beds tomorrow.

Foodies – 12 November 2017

P1030626I had omelette for breakfast.  Only, when I cut into it, I realised that I had another diner’s food. I should have had ham and cheese and I had tuna and cheese.  Not a marriage made in food heaven IMO.  To prevent a recurrence of yesterday’s alleged theft of sunbeds, we went straight to the top floor after breakfast.

Afterwards,we went for a walk along to the posh hotels, but couldn’t settle on anywhere for lunch.  Walked back to what looked a likely Italian we’d earmarked during the week.
Bloke who took our order only seemed to do grunts, but he did type something into what looked like a mobile phone.  Starter, which was flat bread with rosemary, took 20 mins.  Maybe they were waiting for the rosemary to grow.  Scamp’s main was fine, but mine was totally wrong.  It tasted fine, but just in case there were shellfish somewhere in it, I sent it back and got a new one, the one I’d ordered this time.  Maybe the bloke wasn’t typing an order into his wee phone thing.  Maybe he was just phoning Mama back in the old country.  Anyway, I wasn’t pleased – we paid and left after scamp had finished.

Further down the road we dropped into a bar and had a mojito each to make us feel better.  It was lovely.  The best so far this year.  Sat and watched the world go by while the sun beat down.

By the time we got back I was exhausted, so I had a snooze for about an hour while Scamp went up on the roof again.  Later, I joined her then came down to the room to get ready for dinner.  We’re now sitting on the balcony while I write up today’s blog.  It’s just after 7pm and I’m sitting in a tee shirt and swimming trunks.  Aren’t winter holidays wonderful!

Today’s PoD was taken in the land of the posh hotels

Last full day tomorrow.  Going to make the most of it.  Mojitos will probably figure in it somewhere.


Neither Scamp nor I fancied watching a Beatles tribute band tonight and as the singer who should have been on at the hotel was sitting glued to her phone in the downstairs bar there was little prospect of anything there.  We went for a walk down to the beach esplanade.

We found a bar with two seats together and after we’d ordered, noticed a star in our midst.  Yes, another one!  It was Leah MacRae who plays Ellie McLean in River City.  She was sitting there with her Gran.  Even better, she sounded just the same as she did in the soap.  Thankfully she never asked Scamp for her autograph or to have her photo taken with her, otherwise it might have caused a riot!!  After all, Scamp and Gloria Hunniford (or Gaynor if you’re german) are BFF now.



In the presence of a star – 11 November 2017

P1030582After breakfast we went for a rest beside the pool.  We’d been there for half an hour or so when this opinionated english woman came along and started throwing here weight about saying SOMEONE had moved her towels.  The pitch and volume of her voice got higher as she nearer us.  As if we would stoop to touch a towel an english person had used.  I nearly released my inner ned, but luckily for her, he stayed silent.  I just laughed as she got more and more incandescent.  We let her go and ‘appropriate’ more sunbeds to get back to the full quota, then we left to go up to the top floor.

On the top floor, a film crew were setting up.  After about half an hour the ‘star’ Gloria Hunniford (not Gloria Gaynor as some germans thought.  I think it was them that moved the english woman’s towels!) appeared.  We watched her speaking her piece time after time to camera interrupted by buses, wee trains and motorbikes.  It seems that just about anything can interrupt the sound on a recording.  Scamp plucked up courage and went and asked her if she could have her photo taken with her and said that she was very pleasant.  Thankfully the other two of her companions weren’t there.

Walked down to the beach later, when the excitement was over, to dip our wee toesies in the water.  Walked along the sand for quite a distance before we came back, had lunch and I posted yesterday’s blog. Went back up to the top floor once the blogging was done and had a quick swim in the deep plunge pool.  It was supposed to be 25c.  I think they missed out the decimal point between the 2 and the 5.  Before we went down I got a sketch done of the buildings next door.  Gloria had left the building!!

After dinner watched the kids show and then sat through a home-made film quiz.  Went and listened to a bloke playing the guitar and singing at the front of the hotel.  I thought he was quite good, but Scamp was not impressed.

Tomorrow will be hot apparently!