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Life is just a bowl of tatties with a strawberry on top – 18 August 2018

That’s tatties, not tattoos as my spellchecker suggested.

This Saturday was a bit of a non-event. I woke after only six and a bit hours of sleep because of our late night on Friday, well early Saturday to be more exact.

The highlight of the day was to be lunch at Cotton House in Longcroft. Every time we go there we have the same thing for starter and main. Today I was determined to change that. Scamp had Chicken Noodle Soup as starter and Chicken Chow Mein for a main. That’s almost standard for her. I had Thai Spring Rolls for starter and Kung Po Chicken with Noodles as my main. Neither of them inspired me and I wished I’d copied Scamp with her soup and chow mein. Sometimes the tried and tested menu is the best.

When I came home I went to bed for a couple of hours to try to claw back my lost hours from this morning. It partly worked, but I still felt tired. I think it’s all to do with a little black monkey that’s following me around these last few days.

Later in the afternoon we lifted our last container of potatoes and got an amazing 1.34kg of tatties from three seeds. That’s not bad going. We’re going to have them for dinner tomorrow all being well.

In the evening we watched Monsters v Aliens. Yes, I know it’s a kids film and pretty silly, but it was the sort of mindless entertainment I needed, that and a stiff G ’n’ T.

PoD is our last remaining strawberry on our hanging basket. There are loads more there, but I don’t imagine they will ripen fully.

Tomorrow we are planning to go and pick some brambles and hopefully I can lose the wee black monkey at the same time.

An Inspector Calls – 17 August 2018

Any day that starts with a phone call from the polis is going to be a downer.

Luckily this call was just to check that I still had the dash cam footage of the wee bump last Sunday and to check that he could pick it up next week.

After that, and after almost finishing my latest Stuart MacBride book. Just a few pages left now to take time over. Good Scottish humour. Anyway, after that Scamp suggested we drive out to Morrison’s in Falkirk to get ’the messages’ and also maybe have lunch there. It was a sound suggestion and as she was driving, how could I resist.

After loading up the car and heading home we stopped at Halfords to get a dash cam for her car too. After much cajoling she had agreed to have one. We pointed the sales assistant at the one we wanted, a 312GW and off he went to find it. We also wanted it fitted, so we booked a time slot for Monday at 1pm. Then the assistant dived away and came back with about six boxes and started scanning them through. I told him I didn’t think we’d need the nice wee fitted case and asked what all the other things were. He told us they were part of the deal.

  • A case for the camera. (Why? To take it on its holidays perhaps?)
  • Another case with another SD card????
  • A pola filter to remove glare from the dashboard. Something we didn’t need.
  • The camera itself
  • An SD card. Ok, we needed that.

Scamp stopped him in his tracks with HOW MUCH DOES THAT COME TO? The answer was these were part of ‘The Deal’ for £99. We said no thanks, just the camera, the SD card and the fitting kit. How much do they get paid in Halfords for ‘suggesting’ these deals? Anyway we got the necessary stuff and were just leaving when he said “So that’ll be 12 o’clock on Monday”. Hadn’t he said 1 o’clock? Yes, I confirmed, it was 1pm he’d said. Now it was a one hour time slot starting at 12 o’clock. We’ll stick to that. I had great confidence in the fitting the last time when mine was installed. I hope it’s the same bloke who fits Scamp’s, rather than one who can’t tell the time, but knows how to hike the price of a dash cam. Back home and I did a quick fix to get the camera checked, installed and working until it gets plumbed in on Monday some time around midday. It was Monday, wasn’t it?

Grabbed about an hour in St Mo’s to get some beastie pictures as Scamp calls them. PoD was a hover fly holding on to a yellow flower in a stiffening breeze.

Out to Crawford and Nancy’s for dinner tonight with June and Ian. Great time and great food. Just a late night.

Tomorrow? Lunch is booked at the Cotton House. Chinese food for a change.

Happy Birthday JIC – 16 August 2018

Today dawned bright and clear today on JIC’s birthday, but the weather app said rain later.

With the foregoing in mind, I thought I should get the Dewdrop out and get some more practise in slipping the shoes into the SPDs. I had an appointment with the physio at 1pm, so I decided that it would be an morning run while Scamp made some Blackcurrant Jam, with a pot destined for the local garden show.

The second, trial wasn’t quite as successful as the previous. The right shoe clipped in perfectly and consistently. The left was a hit and a miss. More adjustment needed there I think. It might have been a good idea to take an adjustment spanner with me, but for the second time, I forgot. With that said, the shoes felt secure once they had been fitted into the clips and the big success is that I didn’t fall off this time!

Back home, a quick shower and I was off to see the physio. I was sure he’d sign me off, but he applied his laser again, twice! Then he stabbed five needles into my knee and had the cheek to come back about fifteen minutes later and twiddle them around to bring me even more twinges. However, again he wants to leave me for a few weeks before he sees me again and agrees that it’s an ‘Improving Situation’. More cycling recommended in the meantime to strengthen my thigh muscles.  Found the predicted rain when I left the gym and went up to the town centre, but when I arrived home the streets were dry.

Scamp was going out tonight with Isobel to an organ recital and hymn singing in the Village church. I dropped her off at Isobel’s and drove back to feed the birds and hopefully listen to a radio 4 prog I’d recorded (about the Wigtown Bookseller, Hazy). I was just finishing the bird’s meal when my phone rang. It was Scamp to tell me that the concert was next week, not tonight and could I please come and pick her up. No hurry though, because she was having coffee with Isobel.

Drove down to see Isobel’s compact and bijou garden and admire the quality and quantity of plants she has in it. Also to be amazed by her knowledge of the names and varieties of the plants. Some people just have that ability to remember all those Latin names. I know a few, but only a few.

Well, at least I could have a drink when we got back so I had a well-deserved G ’n’ T for my troubles.

Today’s PoD is the leaves on a strawberry plant in the garden. Changing colour already.

Tomorrow? Well on the cycling trip this morning I noticed that there were a few brambles ready for picking, so if it’s dry tomorrow I may go and do that.

Dance Marathon – 15 August 2018

Today we managed Jive, Waltz, Quickstep, Tango and Salsa. In that order.

In Jive we worked the knots out of spins 1 to 6, then had a go at spin 7. We had been practising at home so it wasn’t too bad. Spins 1 to 6 are fairly well set in muscle memory now, it’s just remembering the order that I find difficult. However Michael’s little short descriptions keep me right. It’s a work in progress!
Waltz was similar in that we were neatening up our routine and trying to get round an entire circuit of the floor without bumping into people, but when other dancers just stop right in front of you to have a wee discussion about what went wrong with their last steps, it makes it difficult for you to get any continuity in your own dance.
Quickstep was a new one today. We only got the first few steps of this dance. To be continued next week.
Tango was going over the first three moves with the dramatic head turn Boom! Boom! (You had to be there to understand that!)
Salsa was in the evening but it was still a learning experience. I learned that I wasn’t dancing some of my steps correctly, or to be more exact, I wasn’t leading the moves correctly. Even although we are helpers at these lower level classes, there are always things to pick up on.
That made just over three hours of dancing and I still didn’t complete my 10,000 steps today. Why, I do not know.

Between the ballroom class and salsa, I managed to get the PoD of the “Right Said Fred” men (the song, not the group) forming a human ladder to lift scaffolding pieces into place on a building that was being renovated in the Merchant City.

Also, I shelled half our peas and used them in a Prawn and Pea Risotto. I even used the chopped up pods to strengthen the stock for the risotto. Apparently it passed muster with Scamp. I agreed, but then I would, wouldn’t I?

Tomorrow the physio and it’s forecast for rain all day.

Another early rise – 14 August 2018

This time we were all up fairly early

Today our visitors were returning home, back down the long road south. It was a dull morning, but the ‘going home’ morning is always dull. After breakfast they packed the bags in the car and they were off, just five minutes after their predicted time. It must be a world record!

With the rest of the day to fill, we sat for a while listening to the thumps and bangs from the workmen next door installing a new boiler and complaining to anyone who would listen that this was the second one they’d done in two days. But work was waiting for us too. Scamp filled the washing machine and set it to grumble through the first of many loads. While she was hanging it out, I started to pick the peas which as JIC had predicted were beginning to grow hard. Hopefully we’ve got them just in time. Since there was little likelihood of the remainder of the few flowers that were left setting any pea pods, we cut the plants down, composted some and put the rest in the recycling bin. I freshened up the soil where they had grown and planted some more leeks. Remembering that I’d said I’d prune the roses round the back door after lunch.

Sat for a while on the back step watching the birds lining up to for their turn at the dire sourdough bread we bought in Stirling on Saturday. Although it’s called sourdough, it’s actually the yeast that’s supposed to be sour. That’s where those bakers made their mistake. Their bread was sour. Birds didn’t seem to mind and today’s PoD is of part of the queue waiting for their slice of the bread in the rain.

I started to prune the roses after lunch, but the rain got heavier, the clothes were brought in and hung to dry indoors and my loppers were put away for another day.

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying unsuccessfully to get an old Zip drive to spring into life. I now think it’s a dodgy power supply that’s causing the problem, but as it’s a bit of an antique now, I think it will soon be consigned, like the pea plants to the recycling bin.

A thoroughly miserable day, but we did have a quick practise of our Jive steps, so hopefully we’ll be up to the Seven Spins tomorrow. All Being Well.

Early one morning – 13 August 2018

Very early this morning, about 6.30am to be more precise.

Couldn’t sleep, so I did what I haven’t done for a long time, I got up, got dressed and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Sometimes it’s really lovely and other worldly in the early morning light. Today was one of those days. I thought it was dew that was lying on the plants, flowers and spider webs, oh yes, the spider webs. However it was just raindrops. Light fine smirr of raindrops everywhere. Took loads of photos, mainly macros and it was one of them. A tiny wee wet snail that took PoD. I also some shots of Mr Grey, still looking half asleep, standing like a statue on a rock in the pond. Later I got a few of him stalking and catching his breakfast. The speed he can flash that beak out to trap an unwary fish is quite surprising. Came home feeling a lot better, but now tired, and had breakfast with everyone else.

After breakfast I went up to the police station to make the statement about the accident. Lady there took all the details, watched the dash cam video and smiled at the bit where I swore. Then she told me I’d be contacted in a day or two by a police officer who would go over the information with me.

By the time I was coming home, it was raining and the visitors were preparing to go and visit David Marshall Lodge or DML as we’ve always called it. If the weather didn’t suit there, they had plan B which was to go in to Glasgow and visit the GOMA. As it turned out, plan B wasn’t needed because they’d had a fairly dry day and they went from DML to the Kelpies in Grangemouth. While they were out in the countryside, Scamp and I drove to Torwood Garden Centre to buy some leek plants to replace the Calabrese I’d dug up yesterday after cutting the last heads from them. We also got a bay tree to replace the one that suffered in the drought a month or so ago. Scamp liked the look of some fluffy looking daisies, so we got them too. Then we had lunch and drove home.

When the wanderers returned we went to Milano for dinner. Pizza Napolitana for me because I like it and because I couldn’t get a Neapolitan pizza in Napoli (Naples). We had a great night which culminated in a shocked look on Jamie’s face when a birthday cake was brought out and the staff all sang Happy Birthday … but it wasn’t for him! It was for a man at the next table. Jamie’s look of relief was a sight!!

Nobody was drinking much when we came home. Long day for the visitors tomorrow ‘cos they’re going home.

All I can say about today is “It’s not great” – 12 August 2018

A slight case of lack of concentration.

I offered to run the visitors to the train station to get the one-an-hour train to Embra. I was too busy talking and I took the wrong turning, or it could be that the Juke thought I was going to Auchinstarry, my usual turn-off at the roundabout. Anyway, for whatever reason I took turn-off three instead of turn-off four. I could have turned around after 100 metres or so, but decided to carry on and detour through Croy because we had plenty of time. Bad decision, because just after turning in to Croy, we got a ROAD CLOSED sign. Nothing for it but to do a 180º turn and head back to the roundabout and take the correct turning. Now the time was ticking away and if I didn’t get there on time it was an hour wait for the next train. Luckily I got there in time and the visitors got their train to Embra.

Came home, picked up Scamp and off we went to the station again. This time I took the correct exit from the roundabout and we headed off in the opposite direction to the visitors. To Glasgow to see the Men’s Road Race for the European Championships with the hope that the rain that had been falling since we woke up would stop. Got the train and walked out of the station into the deluge and grabbed some shots right away. Walked around the corner and caught some more action at a corner. Corners are always good for cycle action.

<Technospeak>
With some photos in the bag we walked down to Argyle Street because I wanted to change my ideas for more interesting photos. No longer fast shutter speeds and the inevitable high ISO on a dull, overcast day like today. I chose a slow shutter speed to balance a fairly small aperture in manual exposure mode and kept the ISO low as well. That gave me the basis of the PoD that is at the top. If all of the above mean nothing to you, then just see it as a way of getting that blurred effect. Used Lightroom and ON1 to accentuate the blur and saturation of the colours. I think it worked.
</Technospeak>

We walked through the Merchant City after that, but the rain was becoming heavier as we walked and we decided enough was enough. We went for coffee in the usual Queen Street Nero and then after a few more photos we crossed the road race circuit for the last time and went for the train home. Inevitably we just missed the train. On a Sunday there are only two trains an hour to Cumbersheugh, both leaving within 15 minutes of each other, leaving a gap of 45mins to the next pair. It was the second one we’d missed. I moaned about the stupidity of Scotrail’s timetabling all the way back to watch more cycling and laconic Scamp agreed “It’s not great”. That’s about as severe as Scamp’s comments get. We got one of the new extra-long electric trains back home.

JIC texted to say they were on the 5.30pm train from Embra and I drove down to collect them. This time I took the correct turn at the roundabout! On the way home some eejit in a silver Audi bumped into me at a roundabout and sped off without a second thought. Wee bump to the front wing and another scrape to paint over. Luckily the dash cam got a good record of the event. I’ve reported it to the polis, but I don’t see them doing anything about it. Nobody was hurt and no real damage done. Don’t think it’s worth claiming on my insurance as I’d end up paying more in excess and my premium would just increase next year. That’s just one of the joys of motoring today.

Tomorrow looks not as bad as today. The visitors may go in to Glasgow. I’ve got to go to fill in the forms for the polis. Oh joy of joys.

Stirling – 11 August 2018

The city with something for everyone.

While JIC, Sim and Steffi were visiting Stirling Castle, we too, or we two, were also in the town. It’ll never be a city to me. It’s just a jumped up town with a good curry shop and an interesting art gallery, oh yes, and a Waterstones and a Nero. The rest I can do without quite happily. Glasgow? It’s a city. Embra is a city too, Even Aberdeen is a city covered in granite and seagulls, but Stirling is just a decent sized town. Our reason for visiting today was to have lunch in that good curry shop. A few years ago it was on a downward slope, but it seems to have got its act together again and is now back on the up. New seating and maybe a bit less scruffy interior, but thankfully they decided to keep the menu as it was. Wise people. Scamp’s Veg Pakora followed by Veg Dhansak seemed to satisfy the lady and although my Haggis Pakora was a bit heavy and my Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna was a bit too spicy, it was deliciously sweet and full of flavour, so I won’t complain. It seems, like I said, that they are back on track. The foodies said so!

Had a look in the Art Gallery and appraised the offerings there. Some were just too twee and rejected out of hand, but a couple of others were in the category or “I’d but that if my lottery ticket came up”. Not having bought a lottery ticket, that purchase was unlikely, but the artist, Julian Mason, really had worked out how to paint wet water. As if I could do anything like that.

When we’d parked we couldn’t help but notice the number of Italian motorhomes that seemed to have taken over the carpark. They were still there when we were going home. Scamp thought they were something to do with the European Championships which finish tomorrow. It’s as likely an explanation as any.

Not long after we got home, the other three arrived back from Stirling Castle and Doune Castle where Steffi had re-encacted the Quest for the Holy Grail, complete with coconut shells, as so many have done in the past I seem to remember.

I drove them all in to Glasgow to meet ’The Boys’, Andy and Chris, with respective wives. We’re not expecting them back until late when old folks like us will be tucked up in bed. On the way back I got some ice cream for Scamp and me from the cafe in Muirhead. Also got some Oddfellows sweeties and a stick of Gin ’n’ Tonic rock which tasted neither of Gin, nor of Tonic. Disappointing. Oddfellows are half finished though!

Today’s PoD is Scamp’s little rose bush she has grown from seed. It’s Sunday name is Little Gem, but it’s always been called Rosie and it flowers continuously all summer. It deserves its place as PoD.

Tomorrow the visitors may be going to Embra and we may go to Glasgow. It all depends on the weather.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the party to begin – 10 August 2018

JIC, Sim and Steffi were coming today. It’s a long drive for them and a long wait for us.

After a morning spend tidying up, Dysoning, dusting and generally making the place spick and span, we headed out in the rain to Kirkintilloch for lunch at Calders garden centre. Lunch was fine, better than a lot of places we’ve been to recently and afterwards we had a walk round the plants while the rain thumped down on the roof of the covered area. We also ventured out in the rain to rove further into the plant area. I was impressed with the way the place was set out, with very few single species arrays beside other single species arrays. Instead, most of the displays were of mixed plants, different colours, different textures and varying heights. Now that’s a refreshingly different way to show off plants. Not so good if you’re searching for a specific plant, but if you want to see what plants complement others, it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, we weren’t looking for plants today. I was looking for a new coarse rose for the watering can, specifically one that could be used to water in the nematodes I’d received in the post this morning. We found lots of ornaments, cards, books, scarves, mottos and pictures, none of which I would have in the house and none of which would be at all good for watering in the nematodes. That’s the big problem with garden centres. The outdoor part may have plenty of plants, but the indoor section is jammed full of tat!

Came home in sunshine, roseless. Then Scamp offered an old watering can with a fairly coarse plastic rose. I decided it might just do and if it didn’t, I could drill out a few of the holes with the power drill. I was right for once. It was almost coarse enough, but after drilling out most of the holes with a power drill, it was fine for the job. Or should that be coarse for the job? With the nematodes now burrowing deep into the soil to find some tasty vine weevil grubs, my work was done for the day.

After a cup of tea I grabbed my camera and went in search of some photos in St Mo’s. Found Mr Grey close enough to photograph, some ‘beasties’ and also some Rudbeckia flowering in the wild garden that volunteers planted a couple of years ago. The Rudbeckia won PoD, just like it did last year!!

Finally at about 7pm the visitors arrived and we spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking and talking. Just really catching up. Scamp spent a short time showing off our garden front and back and we admired the veg that JIC and Sim had brought with them.

Tomorrow they go to Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument and we may go to Embra.

Flânerie – 9 August 2018

Flânerie: Aimless strolling or lounging; idleness.

Sounds about right. I got the bus in to Glasgow and go to see a photography exhibition Steven Berkoff: Gorbals 1966. It was a really interesting exhibition. All monochrome prints of the Gorbals and from a time when I was just starting to take an interest in photography. Also from a time when I started work. There was a picture of one bloke walking past a bar with a wild head of hair. It could almost have been me. I’d never set foot in the Gorbals, and he looked a few years older than me, but it could almost have been me.

On my way down from the bus station, I took some shots of buildings and stuff that I found interesting. That’s what’s good about going in yourself. You have time to take what you like, reject what you don’t and you don’t feel that you’re holding anyone back. No need to go shopping if you don’t want to (I didn’t want to today). Most of the shots I took were buildings, but I did stray into the Merchant City Festival area on the way back and grabbed some photos of the goings on there. PoD went to the shiny glass building on Queen Street, or to be more accurate, the reflections of clouds on that building. Every time I see it, I see something different.

With a few photos in the bag and the inspiration of those old photos I got the bus back. While I was waiting this big loud english girl came along pushing a pram and with another one in tow. Then her dim looking partner brought another one along. She sat down and the inevitable phone came out. Then she started swearing at the phone about some “stupid fu$*in’ bitch” who had sent her an offensive message on Facebook and then immediately blocked her and how she couldn’t then tell her exactly what she thought of her. The noise level got really high and then the kids started crying, but she didn’t attempt to tone it down or pacify the kids. She just kept ranting on. Poor bloke, I thought. We’ve only got to put up with that for ten minutes, he’s got the rest of his life to face that. Luckily they stayed downstairs while I got upstairs and into the front seat so I could drive!

Scamp was working in the garden when I got home. We lifted the small pot of potatoes and only got 370g which was well down on the first lot. We think the problem was that the plants were too dry. Still, they tasted fine in Scamp’s Chicken with Rats and potatoes.

Tomorrow is to be much like today, dry and partly sunny. We may go out somewhere in the afternoon.