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Salsa, Painting, but no’ Dancin’ – 18 June 2018

P1040887- blogThere is a painting class, a salsa class and a ballroom class on sea days like today.

Woke at about our usual time of 8.30.  I’d visions of still being in the land of nod well after breakfast was past and we were into lunch time, but it wasn’t like that.  We were up and out before 9.15 and went to Smash ‘n’ grab for breakfast.  Then it was time for me to head for the watercolour painting class in the Metropolitan lounge where the self-important singer had been last night.  Scamp went to the ballroom class instead. Our tutor, a man from Kurdistan, was called Easa.  He told us it was pronounced like Lisa, but not to call him Lisa.  His style was more direct than that of the tutor two years ago and he didn’t come with the baggage of a published book he felt he had to publicise.  Once the usual self proclaimed ‘artist’ had shown him her iPad full of her paintings (she did commissions, probably for blind friends.) we got started, but while we were waiting for the lady to get her complements, I did a quick Loomis sketch of her!  I can’t say I agreed with all Easa’s colour choices, but on the whole the finished article did look like the tiny little photo he’d given us to copy.  On the next sea day we are painting penguins (or so he says).  We’ll have to wait and see.  Scamp seemed to enjoy the ballroom which was the Social Foxtrot, but said that the teacher had a cutting voice.  It was time for lunch.

We agreed that we’d have a light lunch and for once, I stuck to my promise.  After that, it was time for the Salsa class and much to my surprise it was really good, although the men’s teacher was just a little bit camp.  I really enjoyed the class although it was a bit basic for us, but perhaps, just perhaps if they’re teaching salsa during the day we might get some decent music to dance too tonight.  Next up was the afternoon session of Social Foxtrot.  It came as a bit of a surprise to me to discover that P&O are allowed to employ Nazis.  I’d have thought in these days when you can hardly mention Hitler’s name that one of his high ranking officers is allowed to be a ballroom teacher.  “Cutting voice” Scamp had said.  Yes, it was certainly cutting and also hectoring.  “Ladies, some of you are STILL facing the wrong way.  If you’re looking at me, you CANNOT be facing forward.”  I gave up after that.  I came on this ship to enjoy myself, not to be shouted at.  I apologised to Scamp and we went for afternoon tea.  I saw a couple of dolphins, but Scamp just missed that experience.  I’m sure there will be more.

Weather and sea was a bit heavy today, although the Bay of Biscay was not too choppy.  Air temperature a bit cooler than we’d hoped for with a high of only 18c.

Last night, although I had steak for dinner, the lamb shank looked lovely too.  Tonight I had Gammon Shank and it was gorgeous.  Scamp’s starter of Seared Tuna was declared delicious too.  Food appears to be much better here than Thompson’s and without the overhead for steak.  An unnecessary addition to the cost of the cruise in my opinion.

Watched the sequence dancers for a while, also known as dancing for the already dead.  I don’t see me ever stooping that low.  They didn’t play any salsa, but then again it was the Nazi who was in charge, so I didn’t expect any.

Went to the show and enjoyed Reel To Reel for the second time, I’m sure.  Late night coffee (decaf –  Sorry Hazy, I know you expect better from me) and a slice of pizza.  It’s much warmer outside tonight than at any time of the day.

Hoping to get up early for the bus to Oporto and our feet on dry land again.  Land that doesn’t move!

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The Dark Side – 18 June 2018

IMG_4954-Edit-Edit- blogToday started early, very early, around 2am early.

Up and a glass of OJ as breakfast, then a last scout around switching power off here and there until the phone rang twice to announce the arrival of the taxi.  A quick drive to the bus station where the bus was waiting.  Then we were off proper.  First stop was services in the north of Engerland, near to where JIC and Sim would be out walking Vixen in a few hours time.  Probably for the first time in her life, and maybe the first in mine too, we had breakfast in Macdonald’s.  Who’d have thought it, the foodies in Micky D’s, but little did we know that more and worse indignity was to come.

Back on the coach and down even deeper south for a short stop to change drivers and a chance to stretch our legs, then it was a longer run and a longer stop at the end of it near Warwick this time we were forced to join the Dark Side.  The only option for coffee was That Whose Name Must Not be Spoken.  So it was burnt water for drinking.  Scamp wisely opted for peppermint tea.  I must admit though that their Spiced Beef on a Bagel was quite excellent and the spicing on the beef successfully masked the taste of the burnt water they advertised as coffee.  To prove that we did in fact visit TWNMNBM, I took a photo of Scamp sitting in front of their logo and it became PoD.  The driver we’d picked up just outside Manchester was a PITA who thought he was a comedian and a fount of all knowledge.  I think his name was Richard, because he sounded like a Dick.  However he got us to Southampton in double quick time and the usual efficient P&O embarkation procedure took over from there.  The cabin is small, but perfect for our needs.  Just before we left Southampton with no fanfare or even a notification from the bridge, it started raining, then the mist came down and we settled inside after taking some photos of Britannia and the Queen Mary 2 to unpack.

Dinner was in the “Sit down and be served” restaurant and was sooo much better than Thompson last year.  Later we went to the upstairs lounge on the top floor to listen to a pianist who was really just too far over the top to be comfortable.  Impressive playing, but the singing was dire.

Early bed for us after a long day.  Getting to bed at 10pm means we’ve been on our feet for almost 20 hours. 



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Recovery – 16 June 2018

I was exhausted today, it must have been that salsa dance last night.

So tired that I slept until almost 11am. Thankfully Scamp took pity on me and let me sleep on. Woke to the news that the GSA had burned down for the second time in four years. Such a pity after all the work that’s been put into it. Thankfully the new building wasn’t touched, but the old Mac building looks like a shell now. Perhaps that’s the way it should remain.

Didn’t do very much, didn’t even have to bring the car down from where I’d parked it last night. Scamp did the honours and drove down very carefully and parked it for me.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk to St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which is of a hover fly on a flowering weed. I just liked the shot. There’s a more arty one on Flickr if you care to visit it. It’s a leaf covered in water droplets from the torrential rain we had this morning.

Dinner was a frugal potatoes, fish fingers and spaghetti. Maybe frugal, but quite delicious. A house speciality.

That’s about it for today. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, but hopefully with a good outcome.

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Waiting, waiting, waiting – 15 June 2018

… for the party to begin. Going to a wedding reception tonight.

There wasn’t much else to do today apart from tidying up and getting organised. It was a much more relaxed day than yesterday. Spoke to Hazy in the morning and admired the views from JIC and Sim’s holiday cottage. That was about it.

Today’s PoD was taken in the garden. My delicate little yellow aquilegia that has withstood Storm Hector and is still smiling.

Finally the time came to get dressed and go to the reception in Bearsden. For once, a suit I’ve not worn for a year was too bit for me. I’ll say that again, TOO BIG. I had a kilt taken in yesterday and now may suit trousers need a belt to hold them up. What is happening to me? Don’t worry, I have the antidote to this strange malaise. I’m sure in a couple of weeks it will all seem like a slim dream and I’ll be back to reality. Just wait and see.

The reception was quite like the one we had for JIC and Sim four years ago. It was a Scottish reception for a friend who got married abroad. Only close family went to the wedding with the friends and in-laws attending the Scottish reception. It was the full rerun of the Italian reception with speeches and a cake. It was a good night. Got my birthday book signed by Jo, the author. As I was driving, and the bar only had Becks Blue on the ’no alcohol’ list, it was the Orange Fizz (Irn Bru) for me. We did do one salsa dance for half of a track at the insistence of Anju. I was being very careful of the ‘bad knee’ and so was Scamp. Still, we can now say we danced at Mhairi’s Wedding!

When we got home I had a bottle of Old Engine Oil to take away the synthetic taste of the Irn Bru and went to bed. So this blog entry is actually written after the event. I’m sure there will be a few sore heads among the Bearsden population on Saturday.

Tomorrow (well, today in reality) we won’t be going far.

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In, Out, Shake it all about – 14 June 2018

A busy day, in fact, a very busy day.

The day started with me dragging the brown bin and the grey bin into the teeth of a storm (Storm Hector) out to be emptied. I expected most of them to tumble and distribute their contents over the pavement, but they survived upright until the bin lorry appeared and emptied them.

Next was a bit of blood letting, the second in a fortnight. I didn’t know my blood was so interesting. When I returned with a little less blood in me than I’d gone out with, I picked up Scamp and we drove in to Glasgow to:

  1. Look for a pair of trainers for me.
  2. Have lunch in a new restaurant (to us) in the West End.
  3. Find a belt to hold up my kilt now that my waist has reduced in diameter.

Task 1. Parked at Tiso and suspended my disbelief at the prices they were asking for a pair of nylon shoes. However, I buttoned my lip and tried a few pairs on. None of them were exactly what I was looking for but some were worth looking at again. May go back again.

Task 2. Not really a task, more a test, to see just how good it was. Drove in to the city centre and got the subway out to the West End then walked down through the storm and occasional showers to La Lanterna West End. La Lanterna in the city centre is quite a Glasgow institution, one of the first, and some would argue, one of the finest Italian restaurants. I’d spotted LLWE on Monday when I went for a walk, rather than risk my knee in the advanced salsa class. Snapped the menu on my phone and booked us for lunch when we got home. It was not very busy. Just three blokes obviously having a business lunch. One of them apparently had two mouths! They were behind us, so I couldn’t confirm my theory, but the only way he could talk, constantly while eating was if he had two mouths. Also, since his cerebral cortex would have to synchronise swallowing with breathing, that would explain why he was talking absolute shite. One of those people who are so important they have to talk about themselves all the time. Have you noticed that people like that rarely ask questions, and if they do, they never listen to the answer? That’s because they know everything and don’t need your opinion, especially if it contradicts theirs. Scamp says I’m a cruel man, sometimes. Sometimes? What do you mean, Sometimes?

The food was good. Scamp had Arancini for starter and I got a bite of one – it was superb. I had Rigatoni Amatriciana with braised pig cheek instead of bacon. Scamp’s main was Hake fillet in a light tomato broth served with potatoes. I had Risotto with roasted pumpkin and wild porcini covered in parmesan shavings. Now it was lovely, but I got greedy (who me?) and scoffed the lot, which was a shame because it lay a bit heavy in my stomach for the rest of the day. We’ll certainly go back DV.

Task 3. Subway back in to Glasgow. It was now about 3pm and the train was busy. Scamp got a seat but I chose to stand. I must have looked as if I was in a bit of pain because a girl sitting opposite Scamp offered me her seat. I smiled and thanked her but said I was OK. It thought that was very kind of her and thanked her again when we left at Cowcaddens. It’s nice to see that kind of attitude in young people today. I also thought as I was getting off the train, “Maybe I just look like an old man, an auld guy, which I suppose I am.” Walked up to Bath Street to see about a belt to hold up my kilt. The girl told me that a belt wouldn’t really help and suggested I get the kilt adjusted to fit. I told her I’d been told last year that it would take a month or so for the alteration. She seemed surprised and said she could do it today if I could bring it in by 6pm. It was now 3.30pm. Yes, we could go home, get the kilt and bring it in with time to spare and that’s what we did. Drove home, picked up our bin which was lying are un the kilt, drove back to Glasgow and handed it in. Got measured and told to go for a coffee and the kilt would be ready for us in an hour. AN HOUR, not a month! Did as we were told, went to JL and had a pot of tea each which is where today’s PoD came from. I liked the shot because it looked like a still life. Walked back to the shop and tried on the kilt and knew right away, just like Cinderella did, that it was a perfect fit. The girl, I didn’t even find out her name, wouldn’t take anything for the work, but I managed to get her to accept a few quid as a token of my heartfelt thanks. Walked out of that shop feeling better than I have for at least a week. Both the girl on the train and the girl in the shop will never know just what their individual gestures meant to me today.

Tomorrow will hopefully be a less frantic day. Still stuff to do. Still people to see. Just at a less frantic pace.

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Dancin’, but No’ Dancin’ aye, Dancin’ – 13 June 2018

Confused? You will be.

Today we went dancin’, although I had been warned not to by my experts. However, we had agreed between ourselves that a half hour of ballroom wouldn’t do me very much harm. It didn’t. I’d told Michael that I was crocked and that I’d sit out the jive. He agreed.

We danced the waltz quite well, but Michael pointed out where we were making it too simple, and then it was so obvious that we were cutting corners. It always is obvious once you have it pointed out. It’s the turns, even in the waltz that are causing the problem with my knee. I’m sure about it now.

On to the jive and I sat out. However, it made the class unbalanced with an odd number and, as he had already said he was just going over the first four spins again <This should really have a ‘Technospeak’ warning, shouldn’t it!>. As he was just going over the first four spins again to make sure we were confident with them, I felt I could walk through them without causing myself too much discomfort. It was easy! I even managed to dance the routine (quite badly). So we now have a couple of weeks off before we get a chance to dance again and it will be Ballroom Tango when we go back, instead of waltz.

Walking back from the dancin’ was where I saw the motorbike or scooter to be more exact, with a wide empty space behind the handlebars. It was Scamp who noticed that there was no seat and then we both realised at the same time that this was a scooter for a disabled person in a wheelchair. What a brilliant idea. This was no Mobility Scooter, this was a scooter for a biker in a wheelchair. Not only that, this was a vehicle with street cred and attitude. It even had a handbrake! How smart is that! There was no competition, this had to be PoD.

Portrait class tonight was more interesting because it was our first chance to use colour. It was going well until someone noticed that the elderly gentleman, Jim, who was sitting for us had gone a strange colour and seemed to be on the point of passing out. We got him off his stool and on to a chair, but he was determined to continue and posed again for the second sitting in the chair. I was quite pleased with my last night’s work in the class. It’s not been a wonderful class, with little in the way of actual tuition, but it’s given me the chance to measure my skills against others like myself. Learned a bit about where all the bits of a face go(!) and gained some confidence in my drawing. Still don’t want to do a full life class. I remember saying to the principal teacher of art at school that I couldn’t handle figure work (nudes) and he told me with a wink, “You’re not really meant to handle them!”

Another blood letting tomorrow, then we’re hoping to face the stormy weather and go for lunch in the West End.

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Beer – 12 June 2018

Today me and the Auld Guys were having lunch, a liquid lunch.

It started with breakfast and a couple of paracetamol (other pain killing, anti-inflammatory medicines are available). When I got up proper, an hour later, my knee was sore. Went for a walk around the house and then phoned the physio, only to find out that today was his day off. Left a message and went back to resting my knee again while Scamp was off getting her hair cut. She’d left me with the firm instructions to wait for her return and she’d give me a lift to the train station for the more relaxed run in to Glasgow. Not driving today because this was the first UBI club meeting in over a year and ‘drink would be taken.’ We all know what that means. If you get the sniff of a pint of lager, that’s enough to put you over the limit, I mean if you even see a bottle of beer, that’s you risking points on your license. Today we were going to do more than look or smell, we were going to drink the stuff.

Got in to the HorseShoe Bar in Drury Street about half an hour late and had missed the first round, but I swiftly caught up. It’s a skill well learned. A couple of rounds later we had caught up on all the gossip and were ready for lunch. For lunch we were going upstairs to the ‘restaurant’ where we’d have the three course meal for a fiver. It’s not haute cuisine, it’s just hot cuisine. Good filling stodge. Two fiery chicken strips as a starter, followed by ham, egg and chips (wafer thin ham, one egg and about fifteen chips).  Everyone else had the almost obligatory fish ‘n’ chips. Dessert had to be Apple Betty and ice cream. I don’t know who Betty is, or was, but she makes a great apple sponge. After that, we dispersed. Colin was first to go, then Ray, and that left the Fantastic Four; Jack, Val, Fred and me. In a break with tradition, we went for a coffee rather than more alcohol to finish the day and ambled up West Nile Street to Laboratorio Espresso where we had a coffee, and I got the return call from the physio.

I’ve had work done on my shoulder by this guy and Scamp has had her ankle repaired. I trust him He doesn’t tell you to have a full consultation if it’s not necessary. For the second time in a year he talked me through what I should be doing about my knee and what I shouldn’t be doing too (dancing). It seems that my three professionals; JIC, the nurse and the physio are in agreement. REST, ICE, ELEVATION. Much like the acronym RICE, just missing out the C for COMPRESSION because there is no swelling. I thanked him for phoning on his day off and for his advice then went back and enjoyed my coffee that bit more. Good strong coffee it was too.

After that it was time to shake hands and head for home. Jack and Val were getting the bus, Fred and I were getting the train. Scamp picked me up at the station but Fred managed to catch the bus that drops him almost at his door. We’d all agreed to meet up again soon, hopefully sooner than a year from now DV.

PoD today was taken in the garden. It’s the first of the Boogie peas to sprout and it looks as if it’s ready to grab hold of something to haul itself up.

No Jive for me tomorrow. Too may experts telling me the same story. It looks like a wild day with high winds and rain, but maybe not until evening.  May go to the Forge and change my shoes, providing I can find somebody who “Does the Web”!

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The Web – 11 June 2018

I had an appointment with the nurse today to review my blood results. Never much fun.

Before that I was booked to drive Scamp to the hospital for what turned out to be her last appointment. She’s now officially signed off.

After I dropped her back at the house, I grabbed my new shoes and took them for a run to Glasgow Fort to return them or exchange them for a half size bigger. Got there to find it wasn’t a Clarks outlet store, so they couldn’t process them. If you Google “Clarks outlet stores Glasgow” the map shows three pins. One of which is The Fort. If I’d read the text I’d have discovered it wasn’t an outlet. Why is the pin there on a map showing Outlet stores? Don’t know. The manager wasn’t that helpful, he just kept telling he “I don’t do the web”. Almost like “I don’t do drugs”. Maybe he should “Do the web”. (Maybe he should do drugs too.) What he should do is work on his customer skills. He just wanted to wash his hands of me and told me I should write to The Web and complain that they were showing the wrong information. Does anyone know the address for The Web? Maybe I just write my complaint on vellum, put it in an envelope, seal it with sealing wax and address it to:

The Web
Internet Land
The World

I should write to Clarks and suggest they give this man a computer and a modem then get someone to sit down with him and explain what Tim Berners-Lee invented. I bet he doesn’t even have electricity in his house. You should go to Clarks in The Fort, ask for the manager and say “Hi. You don’t know me, I’m The Web.”

Drove home blazing, but not quite incandescent. I didn’t know then that I was on the wrong. That’s when the incandescence started. Calmed down when Scamp left to go to Marjie’s Afternoon Tea. Sat and drew a face or two from Croquis Cafe. Just to show that I’d done some homework for Wednesday.

Saw the nurse and she reassured me that my stats were ok. Nothing to worry about, and she was very impressed JIC, that you’d convinced me I had to take paracetamol for about a week before I’d see any improvement. The problem with my knee is most likely a torn ligament. Painful, but not serious.

Drove to Salsa but didn’t want to dance in case I made my knee any worse. What I did do was help out with Irene’s class who are Level 1 week 6 so, fairly simple stuff that doesn’t involve dangerous twisting. Certainly couldn’t face the Advanced class so I took my leave and went for a walk around Kelvinbridge. Got the PoD there which started out as a boring, dull shot of the actual Kelvin Bridge, then dunked it in a bucket of ON1 (my newest photo-processor) and out came a faded, sepia toned aged print.

Going to meet the Auld Guys for beers and lunch tomorrow, hopefully.

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Zoglets Everywhere – 10 June 2018

They may be Frogs or Froglets to some, but to me they must be Zoglets.

The day didn’t start well with pain in my knee, but once I was up, showered and with a couple of paracetamol in me, I felt much better.

<Technospeak>
This bit is very complicated, so just keep your eyes closed when you’re reading it JIC. Right. Last night I made a backup of the Linx before it got a chance to install the Spring Update. After that I allowed it to do the update, as if I had a choice! It was taking hours. Two hours in, it had done less than 20%, so I halted the update process by doing that old trick of holding down the power button for ten seconds. I connected up the magic usb memory stick and the backup drive, booted to the memory stick and reinstalled the May backup which doesn’t have the overload of the downloaded Spring Update (SU) and left it there.

Today I booted that May backup. I don’t know what went wrong, because I’ve used this backup before, but everything went screwball. Restarted again and reinstalled last night’s backup with the SC taking up 10GB of extra disk space. As soon as I booted Windows asked when it should do the upgrade. Ach, to hell with it. Just do it. I’m pretty sure you can downgrade again, almost sure. This upgrade went much quicker. The whole thing was over in less than 2 hours. After I’d answered all the questions with NO, the system worked fine. I’m now toying with the idea of deleting the 19GB of ‘Windows.old’ that is Microsoft’s own backup, just in case something does go wrong. Perhaps, because of all the hassle so far, I’ll just leave it. Ok Eyes Open time JIC.
</Technospeak>

Planted my last two seed potatoes today in an enormous black bucket today. They’re meant to be ‘earlies’, just not that early. With that and with a bit of cutting and pruning I was finished with gardening for today.

Scamp chased me out, telling me to go out for a walk for half an hour. I took her at her word and went over to St Mo’s for a walk. That’s where I found the Zoglets. There must have been hundreds of them wandering around. That wasn’t PoD though, the dragonfly took that award. Surprisingly, it was the exact same dragon as yesterday’s PoD! What’s the chances of that? I did feel better after the walk. When you’re just sitting about in the house, aches in you knees seem to be there all the time with you. When you’re out walking, you’re too busy looking around you to notice the nag in your knee. Well done Scamp. Well done too for dinner tonight. Sea Bass with Broccoli and New Potatoes. Can’t go wrong with that, especially cooked by an expert.

Tomorrow? Hospital for Scamp in the morning. Scamp out for afternoon tea later and I’ve got the results of my blood test after that. Finally, we’re hoping to go dancing at STUC. Phew!

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Thunder and Lightning – 9 June 2018

Thankfully, it brought some rain too.

The day started out as it has done for the last month, with white skies, then the sun broke through. We hadn’t settled on anywhere in particular to go, but Stirling was on the cards as a possible. Drove in to the town, or should I say the City as it achieved city status in 2000. Wandered round the Thistle Centre (but didn’t see any thistles). Got a pair of chinos and a short sleeved shirt. Scamp was impressed that they colour matched. Me, I knew they would, I’ve seen the colour wheel, you know. I can even recite the colours primary and secondary in their correct sequence. Tertiary, that’s a bit more tricky. Had lunch in Nero and then came home, becoming more and more concerned about the heavy, lumpy, dark grey clouds.

We were just leaving the car park when the first drops hit the windscreen. By the time we were entering Cumbersheugh, the rain was heavy and it looked as if it had been heavy for some time. There were occasional flashes of lightning, and a few rumbles of distant thunder. Not long after we got home it started to roll all around us. Just to emphasise the point, the rain started in earnest, creating a nice wee river down past the house.

It took about three hours for the thunderstorm to completely subside and then the sun came out and shone as if there had been no rain, no thunder and no lightning. I got today’s PoD from the kitchen door, looking at a rose leaf with a neat little droplet of water creating a lens.

Went to start working again on the Linx, but it told me that Windows wants to complete the upgrade and it may take some time. At present it’s doing a backup that will hopefully allow me to undo all the bad work it is planning. Devious bastards Microsoft.

Knee is getting a bit painful. I’m going to get the results of my blood test on Monday and I think I’ll ask the sister if there’s anything I can do about it. If all else fails I’ll go and see David the Physio for some torture Oops, I meant treatment. Paracetamol isn’t working all that well on it.

Nothing planned for tomorrow except dancing in a new venue in Glasgow – Maracas. It’s a new cafe in Cambridge Street. Not sure how much I’ll be able to dance, but I’ll give it a whirl, I hope.