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The Great Man Delivers – 21 January 2018

It had snowed through the night, but none of the white stuff was falling from the sky when we woke. When Scamp went for her shower I was looking out the bedroom window to see if we were still blizzard free, when I saw a man wearing council overalls walking down the path, towing a green topped bin and a brown bin. Both small bins. He stopped and left them parked outside our door! Oh what excitement! Santa had delivered. This probably needs some explanation, so here goes.

Away back in October we wee informed by the Cooncil that we would be getting two new bins; a blue bin with a green lid for glass and metal food tins and a brown bin for garden waste and food waste. There was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth in the household because we have such limited space at the front door and to put them at the back door would mean trailing them through the house on bin day. Scamp phoned and asked for small bins and was told it wouldn’t be a problem. A month later she phoned again to ask when they would be delivered and was told that they would be delivered on 28th Nov (but they didn’t say which year!) Finally she got fed up and wrote to our MSP who sent a reply to say that he had contacted the Cooncil and would inform us of his progress. On Friday I sent the following email to Environmental Services at NLC:

Dear Santa,
I was hoping that on Christmas morning you would leave a shiny new Small Green Top Bottle Bin and a Small Brown Food/Garden Waste Bin at our door. We don’t have a chimney, so leaving them at the front door would be the best option, even although we have very little space there. I’ve already phoned the council and they said we would get them. My wife phoned them last year and they told her that the bins would be delivered by the 22nd November, but they forgot to say which year! We’ve even written to our MSP, but still we don’t have the bins. You are our last hope Santa.
Thank you,

Donald Campbell

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease”, they say. Today we got our bins. Later in the morning we stuck our house number on each bin to prove that they’re ours and there’s even some bottles in the bottle bin now. Maybe someone in the Cooncil was having a bad day on Friday and I gave them something to smile about. A little humour goes a long way, they say.

The rest of the day was a bit of a non-event after that. It started snowing heavily soon after the bins arrived and didn’t stop until about 4pm. We should have been going to Salsa about 4pm, but the decision was made earlier in the afternoon to cancel today’s dancing because of the weather.

Today’s PoD was planned and shot in about 15minutes, but I was happy with the result.

Tonight it’s raining and tomorrow the temperature is forecast to rise to about 5ºc and 10ºc on Tuesday! That, along with the rain, should put paid to the snow for a wee while. Hopefully we will get out somewhere tomorrow.

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Hardly past the door – 20 January 2018

After yesterday’s problems with the River City stalker and his friends, we decided that a day at home was the safest way to deal with it.

Nobody else was moving much either. The roads in the estate (you can’t call them ’scheme roads’ any longer. “It’s not a ’scheme’ darling. That’s where common people live. Call it an ’estate’ that creates a much more civilised ethos, don’t you think?”). Anyway the road into the houses hadn’t been touched by the Cooncil. The unwritten law seems to be that if you live in a cup-de-sac, or any road that doesn’t have an entrance and an exit, or any road in Cumbernauld, you don’t get it gritted. We don’t get it gritted. That’s why nobody was moving today. I’m sure the Red Juke wouldn’t have bothered about the hill up to the house. The big wheels and the four wheel drive would have sorted it. It’s not actually got four wheel drive, but it looks big and it looks like it’s a 4WD, so that would probably mean it would get up the hill no probs. Still, we didn’t go out. There was tidying to do. There was an opportunity to rearrange stuff in the kitchen. There was also a bit of blue sky out there, so in the afternoon I left Scamp happy to be rearranging and took the big dog out for a walk to see what progress had been made at the new Aldi store.

The answer to that question was “Not Much”. I’m not sure if the flurry of interest that started in August ’17 actually was anything to do with the building of this mini retail park, but although an access road has been reclaimed from the dirt, mud and illegal fly tipping, it’s now been left to the elements and is covered in a thick coat of ice. Some breather pipes have sprung up around the site, so that probably means that it was originally landfill. I don’t know if that will make a difference positively or negatively to the outcome. I’m guessing we will just have to wait and see. The ice made an interesting couple of photos. From there I walked over to the M&S Food outlet to get Scamp some chocolate raisins to replace the energy she was expending tidying the kitchen. Up into St Mo’s and grabbed a couple of shots of two deer in the snow. Unfortunately it was on the Teazer, so the quality wasn’t the best. That’s because I’d been using the 105mm lens on the Nikon to photograph the PoD which is top right above. A little water droplet with a neat starburst pattern.

Came home with dry jeans for a change because I’d worn my snow gaiters. They only get worn a couple of days a year, but when I do wear them, they are real life (and jeans) savers. Cost me a fiver about ten years ago and it was the best fiver I’ve spent. When you’re wading through knee high snow as I was today, they are hard to beat for keeping you warm and dry.

My turn for dinner and tonight it was Chicken Curry, using the leftovers from yesterday’s chicken. It was one of those ‘chuck it in and see what happens’ kind of meal. It’s either going to taste brilliant or bog awful. Either way, you’ll never be able to make it exactly that way again. This one was just a tad off brilliant. I can remember the method, but the measurements were just by trial and error and taste, taste, taste. Flat bread was just excellent too. Maybe a bit salty, but neither of us complained.

Tomorrow, I think we may be dancing, although there’s even more snow forecast. We’ll wait and see.

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Snow. Snow. Thick, Thick Snow – 19 January 2018

When we woke this morning it had been snowing during the night, but the strangest news that NLC had decided that all schools in the region would close at midday. Unheard of for eight years. Is this the end of Global Warming? Does this mean that Donald Trump is right?

It’s winter. In winter it snows. If it’s a bad winter, it snows a lot. That does not mean the end of the world, or even the beginning of the end. It just means that it’s winter. Live with it. It doesn’t mean that Global Warming is not happening, it just means that the seven year cycle thing has a bit of truth in it. This is the cold winter that happens about every seven years of so.

Today we drove in to Glasgow to buy a new microwave. The stop button on our old one had, indeed, stopped working. I could say that we were looking for a more efficient one to help reduce the effects of GW, but that would be cynical and I’m not a cynic! ;-D)))))
We went to JL, because they were the cheapest for the model we were looking for and they give an extra year’s guarantee. While we were browsing the incredible selection of microwave models we discovered that yet another Scottish celeb was following us. Sanjeev Kohli AKA Navid from Still Game, AKA AJ Jandhu from River City was pretending to be considering the purchase of a fridge freezer, while constantly trying to see what we were buying. Last month it was Nicola Sturgeon AKA Nick the Chick who was stalking us through the mens wear department. In November it was Leah MacRae who plays Ellie McLean in River City who was trying to hear what we were saying in a beachside bar in Tenerife. Before that it was Wee Boab from the same soap who followed us to Costa in Robroyston. Don’t these people have their own lives to lead? Why must they live their lives vicariously through ours? I’d offer them an autograph, but that would only encourage them. Anyway, we eventually shook off Mr K and got the microwave we were looking for.

The weather did look as if it was closing in when we left Glasgow and I was glad to just drive home and get parked up before the predicted snow hit. When we got home, the sky was lightening again and I thought I’d risk an hour or so in St Mo’s to augment the few shots I’d got in Glasgow. I had just arrived back home when the snow stared. It was on and off all night after that. Tonight’s dinner was chicken cooked in the gas oven and baked potatoes cooked in the fancy new microwave. I was impressed with both.

PoD today was Mr Grey who looked imperious, stalking through the reeds on St Mo’s pond, and NO, the middle pic is not mum.

We may stay at home tomorrow if the snow is still falling. That will also put off the autograph hunters.

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A walk in the park – 18 January 2018

Today I was the driver, taking Scamp to her hospital appointment.

Scamp thought she’d be about an hour and we were in the wilderness of Springburn, so what was I going to do for an hour in this place? Well, there was a park nearby I could see people in the park but I couldn’t find a way in to it. I think I drove almost right round it and every entrance was locked and chained. Was it to keep the locals out or the wild beasts of the park in? There was a polis car parked inside. That wasn’t a good sign. Then I found a line of cars parked in the street beside a pedestrian gate. Aha, so this is how you get in! I walked around a big pond, but there was nothing interesting to photograph. Then I found a path that took me up a hill and on top of it was what must have been a boating pond. It was now half frozen and in the thawed out half there were hundreds of ducks. That’s where my PoD came from. The one above. It’s a Tufted Duck. We sometimes get them in St Mo’s, but I’ve not seen any this year. I always think they look like Daffy Duck. I also saw duck footprints, or maybe they were Coot footprints impressed into the ice and that’s what the other shot is It was a toss up to decide what pic would be PoD, but Tufty won.

That was about it for the day. I did a bit of retail therapy at Currys in Bishopbriggs, looking for a microwave to replace our un-switchoffable present one. I also sneaked a look at 7″ tablets to replace my ageing Nexus 7 which was dragging its heels a bit. However, when I got home I researched the problem and decided that a factory reset might solve the problem. It looks as if it has. My fingers are still crossed, but it looks as if it has regained its previous speed. Now I just have to find out how to do a factory reset on a Panasonic microwave. That might be a bit more difficult.

Well, the snow is gradually disappearing and the rain that’s fallen today has helped with that. However, there’s more work to be done. Tomorrow, we have no plans.  It depends, as usual, on the weather.

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Ur ye dancin’? Naw! – 17 January 2018

When we woke today, everything was white. Deeper and deeper snow.

Thankfully, it didn’t last. By the time we were leaving to drive in to Glasgow, the snow was rapidly disappearing. In fact as we drove along the motorway, it was rain not snow that was slapping the windscreen. We parked and walked down to Blackfriars pub where today’s ballroom and jive dance classes were to be … or not to be as it turned out. The barman told us that the class had been cancelled because of bad weather. Bummer. However, we were in a pub and it seemed a shame not to have a drink, so that’s what we did. Scamp had a G&T and I had a Heineken 00, which must be the best low/no alcohol beer I’ve tasted. Certainly better than Becks Blue and the bog awful St Peter’s. We wandered round the Toon a bit after that. Sheila got the makings of Paella for dinner and I got some paint. This is where CassArt wins. I got a 250ml tub of standard W&N Titanium White:
CassArt £5.50
Millers £10.50
Same tub, same paint, ridiculously different price. Where Millers wins is when you want one black pen, or one pencil or one of anything really, except white acrylic paint. CassArt do good deals on bulk lots, they also, obviously, also do good deals on white acrylic paint.

We went for a coffee before we came home and Scamp had an interesting conversation with a wee baby with great big eyes who was sitting having his lunch next to us. He seemed more interested in Scamp than in his pot of dinner! We, that is Scamp and I, decided that we wouldn’t go out to Salsa tonight. There were two classes on, a beginner’s and a class just starting level 3. Neither of them would give us much chance to dance and more snow was forecast, so it made sense to stay in. Walking back to the car, the sky lightened enough to give me a chance of a PoD and that’s what you see above. It’s a reflection of chimney pots in the big mirrored building in Queen Street.

The snow hasn’t come, in fact with the temperature rising slightly, I think the thaw is continuing.

Scamp has a hospital appointment tomorrow and I think we may be looking for a new microwave as the one we have at present won’t switch off, which is a bit of a nuisance to say the least. That forms our plans for tomorrow.

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Snow and Snowballs – 16 January 2018

During the night, the snow fairy had visited us.

It was deep, not very crisp, but even when we woke. I went down to drag enough snow off the car, to let me drive it up to our parking area, yes, I know that’s not exactly legal, but needs must. Once it was near the house I could get it uncovered properly with brushes and stuff. With the car cleared of snow we drove down to Auchinstarry to go for a morning walk. Just my usual walk, along the canal, over the plantation and back along the railway walk … in a blizzard part of the way, then in sunshine, then in another snow shower. It was a good walk. Probably the best bit was walking across the plantation on untrodden snow and making that crunching, almost squeaking sound that snow makes when it’s fresh.

Got a decent set of photos on the walk. Five of them are above. PoD was the one of the lady in the orange jacket walking along beside the canal. It was really nice of her to position herself there in exactly the right place. I also liked the pic of Scamp unconsciously posing behind the wooden gate.

That’s the snow dealt with. Next the snowballs. I was making Butternut Squash Soup for dinner tonight so we went to Lidl to get some Butternut Squash and it was there Scamp saw the snowballs. Snowballs for the uninitiated are two hemispheres of sponge joined into a sphere with jam or icing, covered in thin icing and rolled in desiccated coconut. Correctly made they are delicious. These ones were correctly made!

I had to forego my snowball until after I’d been to the dentist this afternoon, but it tasted all the better for that. The dentist Chair of Torture was broken, so the condemned had to climb on a small stool to get on to it! Still, it was a “No fillings today mum” kind of day, so I didn’t care.

It has snowed on and off all day and as Scamp was heading for bed she reported that the snow was on again. It’s good not having to care about it or going to work in it!

Tomorrow, hopefully dancin’.

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Went out early got some photos – 15 January 2018

It was grey and dark when we woke and didn’t improve much for a few hours.

After the dull start, the sun broke through and I decided to go out and get some photos. Just because it’s a Monday, a Gemsday, doesn’t mean I have to follow the usual pattern and do things in order. The sun was out and so was I. The mosaic above shows that the sun did actually shine for a while. The weather forecasters were going crazy telling us there would be snow for hours tonight with compromised travel arrangements tomorrow morning. I didn’t care. The sun was out and so was I. It wasn’t really cold either. Not exactly shorts and tee shirt weather, but decidedly not cold.

When I got home, the house was sparkling as it usually is on a Gemsday. Not that it’s ever dirty, but it gets that extra little burnish on a Gemsday. I’d started a painting this morning before I went out, when the sun was still hiding, so while the singers were assembling downstairs I put another layer of paint on it. Strangely I’d messed around with this method a few months ago and hadn’t really settled down to finish any of the paintings. Maybe I should dig them out from where they’re hiding and finish them off. Anyway, once I’d reached a point where the paint needed to dry, I left it on the easel and headed for the gym.

I did 15 mins on the recumbent bike and then 10 reps on three of the machines then a final 10 minutes on the walking treadmill. That was enough. Got changed and went for a swim then a soak in the steam room before heading home.

Salsa tonight was centred on the twisty, turny Gorila (one ‘L’) from last week. It’s not getting any easier, especially when we try to dance it. I think I managed it twice out of the six or seven attempts tonight. Maybe we’ll practise tomorrow.

Couldn’t get parked tonight. Everywhere was full in the carparks. When I came in and reported that, Scamp said airily “Oh, there are spaced further down the road.” Did she offer to go and park the Juke? Don’t be silly.  I went back out in the sleet and parked it on a different street, something I don’t like doing. Hopefully it will still be there in the morning.  Not in a good mood now.

PoD was the moss macro top left.

Dentist tomorrow. 🙁

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No Swimming – 14 January 2018

After a late start today, Scamp decided it was time to start dusting the shelves, wardrobe and anything else that didn’t move. This gave me the incentive to move.

I drove down to Auchinstarry and noticed right away that the ‘Cooncil’ had put up a new notice by the flooded quarry. It read “No Swimming”. Maybe they were just trying to get in ahead of the rush of folk ready to be first to swim across the murky waters of the quarry and whatever lies beneath its oily skin. However it’s January. The water still has ice floes on it and it’s rumoured polar bears have been seen on one of its islands. I haven’t seen anyone stripping off and going for a mid-winter dip in the inviting waters, but I’m sure if they were determined to face the host of infections lurking in the depths, a ‘Cooncil’ notice wouldn’t dissuade them. Possibly a Health ’n’ Safety audit was the reason or maybe someone with too much time on their hands had committed a Risk Assessment to paper. Maybe as the end of the financial year approaches, they just had to spend their available money or risk losing it next year. Whatever it was, I’m sure the inhabitants of Kilsyth and District will completely ignore it, as did the swans and the mallards.

As I walked over the bridge over the Kelvin, I grabbed a shot of the moss growing in the cracks and that became my PoD. It looked like two wee green hills with alien trees growing on them. There wouldn’t be much else to test my photographic skills for the rest of the walk. I was walking into a western wind and it was much colder than the 7ºc that had been the reading on the thermometer in the car. I was quite glad when I put my back to it on the walk back to the car park. I’d managed to get a couple of pics of a duck on the canal. I couldn’t remember if it was a Goosander or a Merganser, but tonight the Internet provided the answer. It was a female Goosander. It was a grainy one too at 7200 ISO! The day was getting darker, the further I walked.

Dinner tonight was the remains of Thursday’s mince pie and if anything, it had improved by resting in the fridge for a few days.

A surprisingly good program on TV tonight was an interview with Mrs McQueen, telling about her coronation and explaining that when she was wearing the crown she couldn’t look down because she thought she’d break her neck trying to raise her head again. Not surprising when you realise that the crown weighs 5lb. That’s the equivalent of two and a half bags of sugar! Just imagine carrying that around on your head. Really excellent program that didn’t condescend, just gave you an insight into the pomp and circumstance of these royal occasions that we plebs will never get to take part in. Scariest bit was when she smiled. Can’t remember seeing her smile before.

Tomorrow is Monday so it’s Avoid The Gems Day. Gym ’n’ Swim probably.

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Perf – 13 January 2018

Today we went to the fair city of Perth.

Up and out early so we made the most of this dull day. I was going to Perf for coffee and lunch, in that order. I also got a pair of shoes, but that was purely accidental, and also pure luck.

Last week we went dancing in Arta and the floor was like an ice rink. Everyone agreed it was slippery. Today I noticed it again when I was walking through the St John’s shopping centre in Perf. At first I thought it was just me, but then I noticed that the security guards were slipping on the tiles too. Why do architects insist on style over function? Yes, they look pretty in all their pastel colours. Yes they shine nicely in the sunshine. No they are not safe when you’re walking on them. Hmm. Maybe if one of the architects had worn shoes like mine with almost no grip in the soles, or like the leather soled shoes the security guard was wearing, then they might have rethought the use of shiny tiles for the flooring of the shopping centre. Right, I’ll stop grumping now. Anyway, I walked into Clarks and found a pair of size 7 ‘H’ width brown shoes that actually fitted, and in the sale too! I think it was because I said to Scamp before I went in that: “I never find a pair of shoes that I like and that fit me in the sale.” Maybe I did today. Only time and a fair amount of wearing them in the house will decide.

Went to the coffee shop and got, you guessed it, coffee (and tea). In fact, quite a lot of coffee. I also found out how to order Cuban coffee beans online. Thanks for screwing up Obama’s good conciliation work there DT. (When I was a teenager, DT meant Delirium Tremens – a severe psychotic condition associated with chronic alcoholism. Now it stands for Donald Trump – a severe psychotic.)

Lunch was going to be in Howie’s restaurant, but the fact that it was closed “due to unforeseen circumstances” meant that we were forced to go the Café Tabou instead. “Oh dear what a shame”, I said!! Scamp had starter of Mussels and a main of Seared Tuna Steak (and what a steak it was!). I had Risotto with Smoked Mozzarella and Sun-dried Tomatoes and then Pan Fried Duck Breast with lots of stuff. Absolutely fantastic. Service was slow, but we didn’t care when the food arrived.

Wandered around Perf for a bit and then came home. We should have been going to a birthday bash for Johnny (Jesus) Batchelor in Ad Lib tonight, but decided not to go because it had been such a dull day we couldn’t be bothered going out again after getting back from Perf.

Today’s PoD was ‘flooers’, but not the usual shot. A bit of a macro and an abstract one at that. I quite like it.

Nothing planned for tomorrow, but I fancy a walk down the Green, probably not in my new shoes, not yet anyway.

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The trio becomes a quartet – 12 January 2018

Coffee with Fred and Val became Coffee with Fred, Val and Colin today. Apart from that, nothing much changed. We still drank the same miserable Costa brown water and we still discussed politics, books, music, old friends and old enemies. It’s a no-politics and a no-religion area, but all other topics are fair game. Colin provided some reminders of folk we’d forgotten, both pupils and teachers. He seemed to fit in well. He even offered to buy the coffees next time. We’ll let him join the UBI. I look forward to his input next time.

Other than that, it was a fairly dull day that brightened up a bit in the late afternoon, but stayed cold. I stopped off at St Mo’s on the way home to get some photos. You can see the result at the top of the page. It’s not much, but I was impressed with the way the ‘Teazer’ handled the sun in the frame without too much flare. There is some, but most of it was painted away in Lightroom.

Highlight of the day was mince pie. Not mincemeat pie, although it was minced meat that was in the pie. No, this was a savoury pie. Scamp tried to show me how to make it last year, but she is so much better at it than me. It’s good hot, but so much better served cold. A bit like revenge, allegedly. However, cold mince pie now gives me heartburn. It’s almost worth the pain.

That about sums up today. Maybe going on the postponed visit to Perf tomorrow. As always, it all depends on the weather.