If I was a carpenter – 31 December 2018

Up, out and on the road for 10am. Unheard of.

The reason we were up early was to catch the “Rat Man” who, at 8am, was making a second visit to the house next door. I wanted to tell him personally that the droppings he’d seen in the loft were not ‘Historical’ as he supposed, but live and from an active rodent, probably one of the two I’d despatched after he left empty-handed. He wasn’t impressed and even less impressed when I asked him to come in and witness the demolition job some of the dead rodents friends had done on a bag of sultanas in one of the cupboards. Last night, they appeared to have removed a blanking piece, abseiled down from the void between the ceiling and the upstairs floor and scoffed about a quarter of the bag. He did offer some help and suggested that as well as blocking up the hole, we should first stuff it with steel wool which apparently does nasty things to the rodents teeth. He offered a few other suggestions and said he’d probably be seeing us again in a week’s time. I thanked him for his help, especially as he was covering two “Rat Men’s” positions while one is on paternity leave.

With his suggestions in mind we drove off to B&Q to get some MDF, screws and just to be sure, some expanding foam and some more poison. We had to drop in at Tesco on the way to stock up on food, because it will be closed ALL DAY tomorrow!!! Shock Horror! What will we do?? By midday I was ready for my lunch and the board was ready to screw into place. Some poison in place and steel wool carefully stuffed in to every crevice afterwards. After lunch the board was in place. I decided not to use the expanding foam after all as I was working overhead and the polyurethane foam is VERY sticky so the thought of it dripping onto my head didn’t appeal.

With my carpentry work done, I took my leave and went for a walk in St Mo’s hoping to grab some of the last good light of 2019. That’s where I got today’s PoD the last of this year’s 365. It’s the Bee Seat (my name for it). It’s a wooden seat designed and made by a local group for St Mo’s park and with a coloured engraving of a bee on one of the uprights. A great place to sit and watch the world go by, or as in today’s case, watch the Canada geese being shepherded by a vigilant swan.

Back home it was Kedgeree for dinner. A spicy kedgeree in fact. Still went down very nicely with a bottle of Spring Oak Leaf wine from Cairn o’Mohr. Very sweet dessert wine with just a hit of the tannin in the Oak. That was ‘hit’, not ‘hint’. You could definitely taste it.

After dinner I attempted the second of my pocket repairs with the sewing machine. This one was done using Scamp’s suggested method and I have to admit that it beats my method hands down. It’s a bit more extravagant on material, but if the final result is as good as it seems, it will be worth it.

I think we’ll be staying up for ‘The Bells’ tonight. Possibly we’ll need a little tincture or two to keep our eyes open after such an early rise and such an active day, but tradition must be served.

I’ve added these two pictures that came from Colin Brown (his dad and I were cousins) in Ayrshire.

Tomorrow, hopefully we will be later risers than today and hopefully not having to resort to any more morning carpentry work.

Hope 2019 is a good year to all my readers, wherever you are.  Safe flight home JIC and Sim.

Glasgow – 30 December 2018

Today we took the train in to Glasgow

Scamp offered to drive us to the station to get the train in to Glasgow. The ‘leccy train. Very comfortable and much quieter than the diesels. Also the seven carriage train was almost full. Everybody must be getting out of Embra with all the preparations for New Year celebrations. Not so Glasgow. It was heaving with punters and tourists alike. I was looking for a new pair of Bluetooth headphones so we marched straight into HMV to grab a pair before the whole HMV empire came down about our ears. It went into receivership the day before yesterday, whatever day that was and was the cheapest place for the Skullcandy headphones I wanted. Got the last pair on the rack.

Wandered along Argyle Street after that, then headed for Nero in St Enoch’s shared a toastie and a cake for lunch. Outside I got today’s PoD of a man fixing a puncture on his rickshaw. There used to be loads of these things in Glasgow, admittedly that was in the warmer weather, but I’ve hardly seen any recently. Just a fad that faded out, perhaps.

Crossed the road to Waterstones where Scamp bought me a late Christmas present which was a Times Sudoku a Day desk calendar. I like the way it’s set out and the rhythm of the puzzles never changes throughout the year. It keeps me sane … just. Even better, the calendar was half price! Saw a book I had been looking for, but it was on sale in Waterstones for £17. Amazon have it on sale for £10. That’s why the high street shops are closing. I’ll miss HMV, but I can hardly remember the last time I bought something there (with the exception of today). Possibly we are cutting our own throats by our short sighted reliance on on-line stores, but a 40% markup is a bit excessive. However, I did get a chance to read a random page in the book, something an English tutor told us to do when I was at college, and it looked interesting enough. Even that I could have done easily on Amazon. The book is now on my Books Database in Notion, Hazy.

Caught the train back to Croy with just five minutes to spare. Scamp drove us home. Dinner tonight was my version of the Chicken & Chorizo with beans and tomatoes. It got a thumbs up. Even my attempt at garlic bread was a winner.

The rodents are going mad tonight. Maybe it’s because I blocked up the holes in the front and back steps and they are locked in. I had hoped that they were out when I did it and I was locking them out. Perhaps not. The “Rat Man” is coming to Angela next door tomorrow and she promised to send him round to us when he was finished. We’ll see.

The sound from the headphones was rubbish by the way.

Tomorrow is Hogmanay so we won’t be going far I think.

Out to Lunch – 29 December 2018

So, should we got to Glasgow? Should we go to Stirling? Maybe neither.

Instead of these two destinations we chose Cumbersheugh. To be exact, we went to Milano and Scamp was driving. Scamp had a massive bowl of mussels well coated in tomato and garlic. I had a pizza with Italian sausage. With Scamp driving, I could even indulge myself with a glass of wine while Scamp had the soda water and lime. After a delicious lunch (no sarcasm for once) we drove to Tesco for milk and walked out with three bags of various provisions, and the milk.

Once we got parked again and deposited the food, I took a couple of cameras for a walk in St Mo’s because we still had sunshine and blue skies. I found an interesting shot of the hawthorn bush you see at the top of the page. For once it didn’t take a lot of work to get a decent image out of it.

When I came home from St Mo’s tonight I drilled a small hole in the plasterboard wall in the back bedroom and dropped some poison mixed with sugar into the cavity. Let’s hope a spoonful of sugar will help the medicine go down. Murdo’s suggestion. Apparently the sugar entices the rodents to take the poison. We’ll see. Later I spoke to the woman next door at 36 and she has the same problems as us. She has the “Rat Man” coming to visit on the 3rd January and will direct him to us when he is done. Val says he had the same problem years ago and the only way he got satisfaction was to get everyone on the block to keep at the council until the problem was solved. That’s what we’ll have to do to.

Tonight we had our ‘essential’ Churros from my Boxing Day walk. Despite being a little less crunchy than ‘real’ churros, they were very tasty. Now watching “Guys and Dolls” and drinking Black Rum ’n’ Cokes. One each.

No plans for tomorrow. We’ll take it as it comes.

Out in the wide world – 28 December 2018

Cabin fever was taking hold. We need to GO OUT!

Up fairly early, even although I’d just started my new Ben Aaronovitch book “Lies Sleeping”. It’s a good book so far, but there was blue sky out the window and shadows in the room, which meant the sun was up and shining. Today we were going out for lunch. I’d already decided in my own head where we should go. I rejected Scamp’s first suggestion that we should go to Glasgow so I could get my hair cut. No, maybe next week, or next year, whichever came first. Her second suggestion was either a case of mind reading or just synchronicity. “Why don’t we go to the Smiddy at Stirling for lunch?” That was it settled. The Smiddy for their delicious Mac ’n’ Cheese for Scamp and Veg Chilli for me. Also the chance to get a photo or two at the place where there’s always good light.

Drove there and got a table right away which was a surprise because the place was jumpin’, mostly with Hooray Henrys from ‘Darn Sarf’ as Ray would say, up in Scotland for New Year. Then came the downer. New menu. No Veg Chilli. Yes, they had Veg Korma, but that simply wouldn’t do. Next best thing was Chicken ’n’ Chorizo with Beans ’n’ Tomatoes. Yes, that sounded interesting. It was very good! I could probably make it at home too. Nothing too difficult there. Basically the ingredients were in the name.

Outside I got some shots that could be converted into a decent photo or two. I was toting the ‘Big Dog’ today because, although it was blue skies when I left the house, you never know what you’re going to meet outside Stirling. I needn’t have worried, the skies were clear, the only problem was shooting directly into the sun. I like the finished article which you will see above.

Home and then I was out to the Central Health Centre for a blood test. Results probably on Monday. If not, then next year. Grabbed another couple of shots of Cumbersheugh College before I headed home.

Just finished watching the first episode of Billy Connolly’s life story, and it was funny for folk like us who had lived through similar times and similar situations. Probably means nearly nothing to young viewers.

Tomorrow? Maybe Glasgow on the bus. Need to but a cheap hole saw, because Scamp has a plan to defeat the rodents and is sounds interesting.

Well, this won’t take long – 27 December 2018

Typical of this time of year, we didn’t do very much.

Yesterday we’d cleaned out the bottom half of the cupboard that used to hold the heating boiler at the top of the stairs. It’s been a cupboard pure and simple for about the last 18years, but it’s still called the Tank Press Cupboard. Today we took the irrevocable step and took the rubbish to the tip. After that a trip to B&Q secured another couple of rat traps and some other odds and sods.

My head was a bit clearer today and I was ready to start the fight back against the rodents. Last night I’d found an app for my phone that sent out a signal at 22Mhz which apparently stops rodents in their tracks. I don’t know about that, but it did give me some sleep last night. Today I found the same app for Android and it’s ready for deployment tonight.

Scamp was off to her Christmas / New Year party at Carol’s. I drove her there and then got on with preparing more stuff for disposal at the tip. Today we ditched the old monitor for the HP desktop computer. Tonight I stripped out the hard drive and the DVD drives from the HP. With them out, the box is ready to go to the tip. I do hope anyone who is thinking about powering it up, checks inside first, because I’d to cut through the power loom to get the drives out. Plug it in, connect to a monitor (there’s one in the TV & Monitor bin) and switch on, but stand well back! Did a fair bit of banging and scraping to annoy the rodents, because they did the same to me last night. Eventually got the call for a taxi at just after midnight. Drove Margie and Scamp home and went to bed.
You will have guessed that this was written on the 28th Dec, won’t you?

Today’s PoD was of the Christmas Cactus in full bloom as it always does round about now. The clue is in the name!

Tomorrow we’re going out somewhere for lunch I hope!

Just the essentials – 26 December 2018

The essentials in question were milk, churros, strawberries and chocolate raisins

Felt a lot better when I woke today, and even better still after a shower. It felt like my head was my own again. It didn’t help with today’s Sudoku puzzle. You’d think that they’d make it a bit easier at Christmas, wouldn’t you? But no. Today’s was a real stinker. When I eventually solved it I had a cup of Christmas Blend coffee and then went out for a walk, I was feeling that good.

I walked over to St Mo’s, saw the group of seagulls standing on a wee hillock and took the shot. Then I went round the pond and was heading towards the Marks & Spencer food place at Broadwood roundabout, but had to stop and catch my breath because I was knackered. It’s amazing how a simple thing like a cold can sap your energy. However, I was on a mission. I was hunter-gatherer and I was out to get milk. Also the weather was more much more conducive to being out than it had been for the last few days.  No blue sky, but the clouds were quite high and it wasn’t raining.

Got to the shop and grabbed the Milk. That was when I saw the Churros and decided they’d be good for later. Next I chanced upon some Strawberries, Egyptian strawberries, but I wasn’t going to hold that against them, especially as they were reduced, being near their sell by date. Finally I grabbed a packet of Chocolate Raisins, which Scamp loves, as a thank-you for putting up with me yesterday. Got to the counter and the woman asked me “Any fuel?” I said “No, just the essentials. milk, churros, strawberries and chocolate raisins.” That made her smile, and me too when she replied “That will be £9.18 for your essentials then!” The walk back was a bit slower than the walk there and I managed to get the basis of this shot. It is a fake of course. The sky came from a library shot, but the Cow Parsley was real today. Blended seamlessly in ON1 2019.

After that we set to and cleared out the bottom level of the cupboard next to the bathroom as Angela next door said that the rodents in her house had chewed their way in there and started sniffing around some Christmas prezzies she had stored in there. We didn’t find any evidence of rodents in ours, but oh boy there was a whole load of junk, most of which has now been bagged ready to go to the dump on the next available day.

Today’s dinner was a much simpler and less extravagant affair than yesterday’s. Starter was Scamp’s “Just Lentil Soup”. Main was veg pakora I got at the butchers the other day and it was plenty hot and spicy. Pudding was a Fruited Caramel Brandy Pudding with a Brandy Caramel Sauce Centre. Quite a mouthful, as was the pudding. Oh yes, and I baked a loaf that we haven’t cut open yet, but looks good

Tomorrow we may take some plastic bags of rubbish to the tip. Maybe a walk and a light lunch somewhere too.

Christmas Day – 25 December 2018

Woke about 8.30am and then went back to sleep for half an hour. It was that kind of day.

Scamp brought me a cup of tea just after 9am I drank it and went back to sleep again. My nose was stuffed again and my ears seemed to be full of cotton wool. Slept almost until midday when I got up, showered and got dressed. I felt better until I looked out the window and saw how dull the day was.

With another cup of tea and a slice of toast in me I was ready to unwrap the parcels that had lain under the tree. As usual Scamp had surprised me with an interesting selection of goodies, some I expected, some I’d never have guessed. Then it was time to unwrap the giant parcel from Hazy and we found the reason for the size of it. It contained a giant metal sculpture of an allium. Beautiful thing. Finally we unpacked JIC & Sim’s hamper with it’s elegant selection of food and wine. So, we won’t starve and we have to find somewhere in the garden for the sculpture. Isn’t it nice to give and receive parcels at this time of year, especially when you’re not at your best!

Spoke to Hazy for a while and caught up with all that’s going on in London. Later we spoke to JIC in Toronto over FaceTime or whatever the WhatsApp version of that is. Managed a quick hello with Jaime and Madeleine in the same call. Dinner was a bit of a low key affair. Much lower key than usual because neither of us were feeling too bright. However, the food was good and the wine was too. We’ve decided that New Year’s Day will be our posh dinner. Hopefully by then we’ll both have put this cold behind us.

Today’s PoD was taken through the kitchen window and although it’s a bit grainy, it was shot at 25600 ISO which means it was nearly pitch black outside! Like I said at the start, it was that kind of day.

We watched a dire Strictly show and just now Gregory Porter and guests are competing to see who can murder good songs by singing them too slowly. Porter’s winning by a mile.

Hoping for a brighter day tomorrow, although by the look of the weather charts, that’s not very likely. We’ll wait and see.

Thank you all for your prezzies, they brightened my day considerably as did the wee chats.

Me and my big mouth – 24 December 2018

I said I thought I’d sidestepped Scamp’s cold. Me and my big mouth.

Last night I was lying choking in bed with that sore throat that always tells you the cold is just waiting in the wings for you to fall asleep and then it’ll announce itself with a sickly cough that will bring you back awake again until you start to fall asleep and then the cycle will begin again. Woke this morning with a terrible taste in my mouth and a nose that was totally clogged. Still think you sidestepped it Mr C?

Felt better when I got up. It’s always better when you’re vertical. Had a shower and felt almost human again. Maybe it’s the hot damp atmosphere that does it, but it seems to loosen the gunk that clogs my nose and dampens my throat too. I even brushed my teeth to get rid of the horrible taste in there. That makes three times this year. That must be a record for me. The brushing helped, but I won’t make a habit of it.

Scamp went off to visit June and while she was away I set up the Naturewatch camera with the Raspberry Pi. It was a bit fiddly, but I got everything set up and everything fitted nicely into an old Tupperware box. Fixed it to the tree near the bird feeder and got some fairly decent shots of a selection of birds. For something this tiny it produces great pictures. When Scamp returned from her visit and announced that June was much better. I decided I’d go for a walk. I was well warned to get well wrapped up which I did.

Walked round St Mo’s which was still covered in hoar frost in the mid afternoon.  Some signs that it might be thawing, but by the time it got started properly the sun would be setting and the temperature would plummet again.  For once I got some of the good light. What’s sometimes called the “Golden Hour”. Well named today. The PoD is one of the best ones. No fakery needed here, the light was just so good.

I forgot to mention that Scamp got a text from Michael our dance teacher to say that we had won the hamper in the annual Christmas raffle. Would we be in to collect it, because he could deliver. We originally said we’d meet him in Glasgow, around 2pm to get it. However he texted to say that he was running late and it would be after 5pm before he’d be there, could he get his brother do deliver it instead. We agreed to that because his brother lived in Cumbersheugh, so it would be on his way. He arrived with it tonight. A big plastic box crammed full of chocolate and sweets and with a voucher for £20 off a pair of dance shoes which I’m sure Scamp will claim. I’ll have the Liquorice Allsorts.

Scamp spoke to the woman next door today who confirmed that she has a rodent problem too, as do the couple on the other side of us. So, we are not alone. So far our rodents are in the loft or under the floor, but not in the house, but Angela said she had seen two in her house. It’s a long time since we had mice in the house, but I phoned NLC environmental health and explained the situation. The girl I spoke to said she’d pass on the information to the sub-contractor who would contact us in a few days. Feel better now that it’s official and something is being done even if the wheels will be turning even slower than normal at this time of year.

That’s about it for now. Hope you all have a happy Christmas, wherever you are and whoever you’re with. G’night.

A Foggy Day – 23 December 2018

Woke to a grey fog. Not alcohol induced, more weather related.

After lunch it seemed to be thinning so I took the chance to go and get some photos in St Mo’s. I managed to take just over 120. Most of these were culled in the first pass, but a few remained. Today’s PoD was from two of the best ones. The wire and the grass stem from one and the water drop from another. Fairly easily done. As I was walking home from St Mo’s the fog started to thicken again. It’s been like that for the rest of the day. Thick, then thin, but always there. Weather fairies say it will be the same tomorrow.

That was about it for our activities. Our rodent friends have been very active. I’ve dropped another packet of poison behind the wall board in the bathroom and will leave it undisturbed for a few days to allow the hungry beastie to have a feast.

I had a feast of my own.  I had about a third of a steak pie from the butchers in Muirhead.  It was a massive pie and the meat was really good, tasty with no gristle or chewy bits.  Look forward to having another third tomorrow.  Scamp had Veg sausage with her potatoes and cabbage.

Watched Alice in Wonderland on TV and a show of out-takes from The Chase. The Chase program won. We don’t often watch out-takes programs because they are so formulaic, but this one was exceptional. Probably won’t watch anything else like that for ages now.

Tomorrow we may go out if the fog lifts. It’s a bit icy tonight, so hopefully that will disappear during the night too.

Blue Skies and a Little Drop of Poison – 22 December 2018

Blue skies for a while today. Maybe Hazy was right, maybe this is Spring!

This morning, Scamp drove up to see what was left to buy in Tesco. The answer was “Not Much”, but she bought it anyway. I stayed at home nursing a sore throat. Heaven forbid I’ve caught her cold. When she returned it was my turn to go out. I drove out to B&Q and got some rat and mouse poison. If they are avoiding my traps, maybe it’s time to bring out the big guns. Chemical weapons, WMDs. I’m reluctant to use dirty tactics, but as someone said “They’re living in my house and they’re not paying rent.” So I baited the box and placed it in the loft secured by a couple of strips of duct tape. Have you ever tried using duct tape while wearing latex gloves? It’s not easy. If your mind drifts to more erotic images, forget it. This was fully clothed, in a cold loft, surrounded by itchy fibreglass insulation and a few mouse droppings. There, that should clear things up. Set another trap where I thought I heard the little blighter last night. I’ll leave the latest devices in place for a day or two before I check them again.

With my chemical weapons in the boot, I left B&Q and drove up the Arns Road. It’s a mile and a half of single track road with no passing places behind Abronhill. Lovely low angled light from a sun that was heading for the horizon and I managed to get a couple of shots of a new build house on a hill. One of the shots was out of focus, so luckily the other made up for it. Squirted it through Lightroom and it came out looking like the one at the top of the page.

Came home and after solving today’s Sudoku, it was time to get ready to go to J&M’s in Hamilton. Lovely dinner there and a chat with Laura who was home for Christmas. Unfortunately the effervescent Ross was otherwise engaged tonight, so no tall tales from him.

Left just before 10pm as Scamp was beginning to suffer from her cold again. I’m hoping I’ve sidestepped the worst of it, but just to be sure I’m having a little whisky nightcap while I write this with the option of a double dose of vitamin C afterwards.

Tomorrow all depends on the weather. Hopefully it will be like today’s morning and afternoon (sunny) and not like tonight’s drive to Hamilton and back (wet). It also depends on Scamp’s cold.