Blog

It’s surely not that time already – 1 August 2019

My initial thought as the alarm sounded at 3.15am. No time or desire for a shower, because it didn’t really feel like we’d been asleep, despite the comfortable room and bed. Just wanted to get out and get going.

Walked across to the terminal and checked in without waiting in a queue. Then we found out why. The security was where the queues were. We were there too early because it didn’t look as if they opened until 5am. Then the gates lit up and we were through. Something in or on me triggered the metal detector and I got the full body scan. I think it might have been my old amalgam fillings that the metal detector didn’t like. Basically, everything went as smoothly as any airport departure can. Loads of leg room on the Jet2 plane, but oh those annoying announcements were doing my head in “Remember to Bookle Up” What on earth is a ‘Bookle’?

Out of the plane, picked up the cases followed the ‘Orange Bats’ to the waiting coach and from there we were in the P&O machine. Possibly the most efficient embarkation system in the world.

Malta was hot. Thankfully we only had to wait about an hour for our cabin to be ready and then we could get changed into shorts and shirts and explore. The cabin was lovely. The balcony is maybe just a little tight, but it’s a great viewing gallery. The first thing that caught my eye was a crane painted like a giraffe! Much of the ship was as we remembered it, but it wasn’t until later that we realised some things had moved around in the recent refurbishment.

Because it was still afternoon we had plenty of time to go back ashore and get some tonic for the gin we were allowed to carry on board. We just wandered around the tourist shops and cafes by the portside.

Decided on an early(ish) dinner because at 8.30pm we had to play ‘Dress the Dolly’ with our lifejackets in the most excruciating safety drill. Captain Bob gave everyone a warning that they must do as he instructed or he’d want to know the reason why. What a dick. He’s coming right off my Christmas Card list. Really, I know it’s a serious business and is (apparently) a legal requirement, but inject a little bit of humour Bob and you might put the message across more smoothly.

Disappointed at dinner when we were shown to a table for two. One of the great things about cruising is meeting people and there was no opportunity for that tonight. Maybe it was because we were early and the ship wasn’t very full yet, but I hope that’s the reason.

We didn’t have the usual sailaway, but maybe that’s a blessing in disguise. I hate the jingoism of it. The reason was they wanted to play with two of the lifeboats, or they were painting the ship or something. I think Captain Bob was just in another of his moods.

PoD was the Giraffe Crane which stood across the port from our cabin.  Really did look like a giraffe!

Early to rise, late to bed. It’s been a long day!

The day before – 31 July 2019

Not a lot you can say about Wednesday, so I’ll give the bare minimum.

We went to Milano for lunch and thereby avoided the torrential rain. Pizza was good, but not excellent. It felt as if it had been sitting under the heating lights for too long. More frazzled than hot. Scamp’s fish ’n’ chips was good in parts. Forget curate’s eggs. What’s a curate anyway? We don’t have them in Scotland. The chips were deemed good, although I didn’t like the taste of the sample I was given. The fish was fine apparently, but the batter? Oh the batter was about 10mm thick in places and I’m not exaggerating. It had been put on with a trowel by an apprentice plasterer. Scamp complained as she usually does these days when things she’s paying for aren’t quite right, and that’s what we should all do. By the time we were leaving the rain was off, so it was back to last minute checks before the off. The ‘off’ was 6.30, aiming for a 7.00pm arrival at the airport.

You know when you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, but you’re on the motorway and you haven’t time to check? That’s what I was feeling. Surely I had packed the laptop, hadn’t I? Still I wanted to check and when I finally got off the motorway at the airport and parked outside the long stay parking I found that for once I was right in trusting my instincts. No laptop. Drove back to Cumbersheugh. Picked up a laptop that was sniffling on the coffee table because it though it wasn’t going on its holidays. It was, it did and if I hadn’t driven all the way back through more torrential rain I wouldn’t have been sitting here on a balcony in 30º heat typing this.

Dropped the car off. Bus to the hotel and and expensive pint of lager and an equally expensive glass of red while listening to some Ya, Ya english bam sounding off to his Scottish squeeze (Glasgow? That’s quite rough isn’t it?) Kevin Bridges you’ve a lot to answer for!

Then it was time for bed for at least 3 hours before that bloody alarm would ring.

PoD is a wet wee sow thistle after the deluge that we missed when we were sitting in Milano’s.

New Specs – 30 July 2019

Off to Larky in the morning to get our eyes tested.

Drove to Larky and spoke to the nice man at Simpsons Opticians who said my eyes were fine and I didn’t need new glasses. That was before he looked at the scratches on the old glasses. Then he said “Oh yes, I see the problem”. The problem is that I don’t see through the old glasses, so I ordered a new pair which should be available soon.

Of course the optician had to put drops in my eyes to irritate me and make me squint when I walked outside into the not so bright sunlight. That made driving difficult so I had to drive carefully to Lanark Road End garden centre to get some lunch and allow my eyes to return to normal. The place was a nightmare with noisy weans charging about the place and everyone shouting. Do the drops make your hearing super sensitive as well as your eyes I wonder? Still, I survived the Babychino disguised as a Flat White and the roll ’n’ sausage that had about a tin of pepper in it. <Thinks! Do the drops make your taste buds supersensitive too?> Walked round what used to be a garden centre but now looks a bit like an Urban Ex centre with broken flower pots, dead plants and empty staging. Maybe all the gardeners are on holiday. We left.

Drove back home through some light showers, expecting the heavy cloudbursts that were forecast, but never appeared. Scamp went on a scouting party to Tesco and when she returned, I went out for a walk down the Luggie and got today’s PoD of the poppies. Saw some butterflies that might or might not have been Painted Ladies. The ones that fly incredible distances to enjoy our usually cold summers. They will be disappointed this year with all the heat that’s in the air. Back home it was prawn stir-fry for dinner, a Scamp special.

That about summed it up for the day. Not a lot done, but maybe tomorrow will be better. It’s already feeling better. Weather fairies are predicting more rain showers and possible thunderstorms as well. Scotland in the Summer.

Strawbs and rain – 29 July 2019

It was a dry start to the day, but it didn’t stay that way for long.

The clouds descended and the rain began.  It was going to be a dull, wet day.  I’d already timetabled a backup for my Linx laptop for today and it went without a hitch.  That was lucky and it was the last good thing that happened.  After restarting the laptop, the message I’d not seen for ages blocked access to everything else.  Apparently Windows 10 wanted, no, demanded that it be allowed to upgrade the OS.  Oh well, I wasn’t going anywhere, so I let it get on with it.  Two hours later the laptop greeted me with the news that it had been updated to the  ‘New’ April 2018 version.  Was this what had taken two hours?  Apparently it was.  I wasn’t impressed.  I promptly got rid of it and downgraded it to the previous version of the OS, only to find that as well as removing the ‘New’ April 2018 version, it had also removed at least one of my apps.  A Windows app.  One of the few things that Mickysoft make that actually works, the one I use to occasionally post the blog.  Thankfully I’d made that backup this morning.  Twenty minutes later the laptop was returned to the state it was in first thing this morning.  Now I have to find a way to block Mickysoft from reinstalling any ‘New’ version.

The rain persisted all day and I took the opportunity to do a little still life of some strawberries fresh from the fridge.  Not our strawberries from the garden, these three came from Tesco.  They got PoD.

Salsa tonight was interesting and exhausting.  New move from last week was called Sombrero <Something>  I’ll fill in the <Something> when we remember – you can see how memorable a name it was!  So was the move!!  We also covered Archangel, Dame Pa’Fuera, ‘New One’ and ‘Old One’.  He must take ages making up these names 😉  That said, he is coming up with lots of short interesting moves that are easy to join together in different combinations.

When we were driving home from Glasgow about 9.15pm the sky was clearing and there was a lovely sunset.  Then the automatic headlights came on.  Nights are fair drawing in already!

Tomorrow we’re off to Larky to get our eyes tested.

More rain, more drizzle, then sunshine – 28 July 2019

It rained in the morning, but my weather app said rain would stop at 1.30pm and it did.

Yes, it did stop then, and the sun shone for a while, but it wasn’t really trying very hard.

It was a day of not doing much apart from clearing up after last night and writing yesterday’s blog. Sometimes you just have to admit it and play catch-up. Hardly went past the door for most of the day. Took the chance of a bright spell and grabbed some photos in the garden. Front garden shots were best today, especially the PoD of a hover fly on an Eryngium Planum (Sea Holly).

Other than that, it was preparations in the afternoon and watching an amazingly interesting F1 GP from Germany where it looked like there wouldn’t be enough cars left to form a quorum for the podium.

Spoke to JIC in the evening and got up to date on all things going on in Cambridgeshire.

Tomorrow we have no real plans, apart from intending to go dancing at the STUC in the evening.

Baking, Cooking, Talking, Raining – 27 July 2019

Today we woke to rain, and it looked as if it was on for the day.

It rained and rained, just like the weather fairies had predicted. We gave up on the idea of going in to Glasgow. Standing in the rain in George Square listening to any kind of band isn’t the best use of a day. Instead, we threw ourselves into the preparations for John & Marion’s dinner. In my case, quite literally.

Scamp had been using the mixer in the morning, while I was clearing the dining table of computer and photographic junk. When she was finished I started weighing out flour and stuff to bake a loaf. I was just putting the bowl with the flour, yeast, water mixture into the mixer cradle when the whole thing slipped out of my hands and fell onto the hall carpet. The disgusting mess of slurry took both of us about half an hour to clean up. Then I had to start all over again and be more careful this time putting the bowl back in the cradle. Switched on and let it do its stuff for ten minutes. That gave me time to take the Dyson’s beater head to bits to clean the dough out of it. The bread actually turned out well, I was fairly pleased with it.

Still it was raining, but in one of the few dry spells I took the chance to go into the garden to get some photos. The rasps were PoD, but on Flickr you can see Scamp’s new Gypsophila. My mum was very proud of her great big gypsophila bush in the front garden. It really was a beautiful big plant. Maybe Scamp’s will grow to that size in a few years. The rasps won PoD because of the bright colours Red against Green is always a strong colour combination.

Dinner tonight was Melon Balls as starter, Lamb Leg Steaks with Potatoes and Calabrese as main (Scamp substituted Salmon for Lamb) and Syllabub as pudding. There was also cake in the form of Scamp’s Apple & Lemon Sandwich Cake which, in my opinion was better than last time although Scamp disagreed.

Sat talking after dinner for ages, just catching up with old friends. It was a great night.

Tomorrow (actually today, because it was a very late night, so this is catch-up) we will finish the washing up and put all the posh stuff back in the cupboards and hope we get some dry spells to go for a walk.

A cooler feel – 26 July 2019

Last night was hot, too hot. Today was cooler

Last night was one of those nights when it’s too hot to sleep. I did think about getting up about 3am and writing yesterday’s blog, but decided that would upset me for the rest of the day, so I turned over the pillow and rejoiced in the cool feel against my cheek, and promptly fell asleep I think.

Bloody seagulls woke me at 5am like a bunch of workies on their way to work, making as much noise as they can. I hate seagulls “Send them back where they come from”. I’ve heard that phrase somewhere recently, can’t remember where, but it applies to seagulls. Send them back to the sea. Eventually rose just after my alarm sounded at 8.30am.

We drove to Tesco and bought most of it later in the morning. I bumped into an old friend who still teaches in St Mo’s, but is smelling the scent of freedom, probably this year. It’s good to hear of someone else who has ‘done their time’ and is ready to see what’s out there for them. It’s the best decision he’ll ever make.

After a light lunch and some fiddling around making a kilt hanger to allow my kilt to get some air after being wrapped up for about six months, I started to plan my next simple stitchery project. I’m going to take up my long shorts. They’re uncomfortably long and need to be shortened by about 50mm (or 2” in old money). I got them roughly marked out and they looked a lot better. Scamp, meantime, was cutting the front grass because heavy and persistent rain is forecast for tomorrow (Saturday). I’d suggested earlier that I should to a run to the skips with some rubbish and old stuff we want rid of. On the way back I could drop in at Milano Express and pick up a couple of pizzas for a late lunch/early dinner and that’s what I did. Vegetarian for Scamp. Italian sausage for me. Lovely pizzas. Not quite as good as Paesano, but local and that means faster, so swings and roundabouts! (Actually we’ve just finished the re-heated leftovers for a tidy little supper.)

Later in the afternoon I went a walk over to St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which might look like an empty frame. You may have to look at it on Flickr to understand. This is what I wrote on Flickr:

It may look like an empty frame, but if you look closely in the centre of the image you will see a yellow dot. If you zoom in you will find a hover fly, hovering. Just for a laugh today I tried and succeeded in taking a picture of a hoverfly on the wing with manual focus. I was impressed.

It may not mean much to you, but as you can see I was pleased as punch.

Much cooler tonight. 18.8ºc as I write this. No need for fans tonight, hopefully. Rain forecast for during the night.

Tomorrow we may go in to listen to a Cuban band in Glasgow in the afternoon as long as our preparations for dinner with John & Marion are well in hand.

The Merchant City Festival – 25 July 2019

A day for celebration in more ways than one.

In the morning, we spoke to Hazy for a while and hopefully took her mind of the rising temperature in London. Then, while Scamp was out being made even more beautiful, I cut five buttonholes in the LEFT side of the waistcoat. I reminded myself that it was the LEFT side every time I picked it up, just in case of last minute errors. Then I carefully hand sewed the buttons on to the right side, carefully, because I’d pushed a needle into my thumb a few times when I was practising this skill. No blood was spilt this time and when I finally stitched the belt buckle to the back of the waistcoat, it was finished. Not only that, but it fitted too with just an inch or so to spare around the waist. One happy bunny. Well, actually two happy bunnies because I think Scamp was almost as happy as me when she returned and saw the finished article.

After a quick lunch we went for a walk down the Luggie in the hopes that there would be a breeze to cool us, because it was extremely hot. Over 30ºc in Scotland it simply ridiculous. It wasn’t much cooler, but we did walk the length of the. Luggie and I got some photos, but none of them made PoD. That came later.

When we got back we took a trip in to Glasgow to see the start of the Merchant City Festival. We’ve been for at least the last two years and it’s always been fun. Today wasn’t. There was supposed to be a parade, but it seemed that three or four groups of performers were strutting their stuff along the street, posing for photos from anyone holding anything that looked like a camera. I took a few, but my favourite, and PoD was a candid of a woman whose expression said that she didn’t want to be there. Maybe it was just that I’d caught a fleeting glance, or maybe she was as bored as I was. Bumped into Kul (Kulwinder) who we haven’t seen for years. Also caught up with Mhairi who had a stall in the handicrafts area. The whole street area was as congested as it usually was, but where were the little icons, like the Cavemen from three (?) years ago? Where were the Mr Mackintoshes with their chairs from last year? No sign of the scary French-type dancers who we’re sure were part of Christine & The Queens group. The whole event seemed a bit flat. On the way out we bumped into one last salsa dancer. We don’t know her name, but she’s John’s partner, dance partner at least if not life partner. Crazy in a good way.

Back home we had a fish supper each for dinner and prepared to be melted during the night. Wish we’d bought a fan!

Butterflies, Buddleia and dancing the Swivel ’n’ Pivot – 24 July 2019

Dancing and butterflies, but not at the same time.

The day started with an attempt at making buttonholes. Not as easy as it seems and with the sweet, sweet voice of the oriental tutor from the Brother DVD ringing in my ears, it was mystifying. Eventually I found the secret, sneakily hidden away in another part of the tutorial. It was simply a case of trial and error to find the correct stitch length. After that we were “cooking with gas”. By the time I’d sussed it out, it was time to dress properly (Shorts are not deemed suitable for ballroom dancing) and drive in to Glasgow to dance. BTW, if all this stitchery talk is becoming boring, fear not. The end is in sight.

Glasgow was steaming, not to be confused with steamin’, that’s a totally different thing. The heat was unbearable and the humidity was as high as I’ve ever seen it. And we were going down to an airless dungeon to dance! Right, that makes sense. I don’t know if the heat and humidity had frazzled our brains, but we couldn’t put a foot right in Jive, but we fitted a few of the moves together to Anne Marie’s satisfaction. Even better, there was a fan in the room and that did help to cool things down. Quickstep was fairly good until AM decided we needed stretched a bit and taught us the new part of the routine called Swivel ’n’ Pivot. We were a disaster. However after a load of clipped heels and stood-upon toes we were getting the basics. Even tonight with the settees pushed back and the living room turned into a dance floor, we were struggling with it and beginning, just beginning to get it connected up with the normal Quick, Quick, Slow. Not there yet, but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Back home we decided not to go to Salsa tonight. Reasons were it was hot still. There are usually too many men, so I have to sit out. It’s a forty minute round trip for an hour of a class that’s well below our level. Scamp offered to make dinner which was Fish Fingers, Egg ’n’ Chips. What’s not to like? While she was making it a flicker on my flowering buddleia bush caught my eye. It was a butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell as it turned out, but a BUTTERFLY on MY BUDDLEIA. This might not be a great occurrence to most folk, but I’ve been carefully tending, pruning and feeding a buddleia for years and years and it finally deigns to flower some time in October when all the butterflies have gone. The woman at the garden centre where I got the one that’s flowering now gave me this advice. “Dig a hole, put it in, water it and leave it.” That’s what I’ve been doing wrong all this time, being too kind to it. At least now I know. The butterfly on the buddleia made PoD.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow in the afternoon.

Riding with the Dewdrop – 23 July 2019

Another hot, hot day. Decided in the morning that a cooling run along the canal would be the thing to do.

In the morning, while Scamp was out buying Tesco and meeting June for coffee, I wandered round the garden taking some photos. Best one of the lot, or at least the most startling was this one of a fully open Gazania. It beat a spider and some pretty red Verbena to become PoD.

After lunch I got the Dewdrop for the first run for ages. Since April in fact! All it took was some air in the tyres and a slight adjustment to the front brakes. Took the front wheel off and with the back seats down and a tarpaulin over them as protection, it fitted perfectly into the back of the Juke for the short journey to Auchinstarry.

Fair few people out on bikes along the canal. Didn’t go quite as far as Kirkintilloch, stopped about halfway between Twechar and the Board Burn. Cycled back along the line of the old mineral railway, hoping to get back into Kilsyth, but the path became too rough for the hybrid tyres and I had to go back and along the usual way to Auchinstarry. A good run and a few photos taken, but nothing spectacular enough to warrant posting.

Sat in the garden with a glass of sparkling water, but we both chose to have a Mojito after dinner. After dinner, but before the Mojitos, I finished off the sewing of the lining of the waistcoat. Now all I have to do is make the buttonholes. Not as easy as it sounds.

Tomorrow may be a day for dancing in the afternoon, but not in the evening. It’s a long way to travel just for one class that isn’t even our own, but we’ll see what the day is like tomorrow. Thunder and lightning forecast overnight tonight.