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New hair, Old friends

We drove in to Glasgow today, just to get out of Cumbersheugh, but we came back.

My hair badly needed cut. If I did it myself it would just be cut badly. If we went to Glasgow, it would be cut properly. No contest. For a change we parked up at Cowcaddens and for the umpteenth time, we didn’t see even one cow. Why do they insist in giving places these confusing names. While Scamp wandered round the shops, I walked down to West Nile Street (which, it turned out, is not even near the Nile), sat down and had my locks cropped by a nice Polish lady. She did a very good job and I was happy to give her a tip. I told her not to visit Cowcaddens if she was at all interested in dairy farming.

Met Scamp back on Sauchiehall Street and we decided that lunch time was approaching so we headed down to Charcoals where I had Chicken Bhuna and Scamp had Aloo Saag. Mine was fine, but Scamp’s Aloo (potatoes) were nearly black. We didn’t pay that much for the lunch, so we couldn’t really complain. £20 for two starters, two mains, rice, a naan bread and two drinks is a very small price to pay.

Walked back up to Sauchiehall Street for Scamp to visit some more shops while I wandered round Waterstones. After that we went for a coffee in Costa where we met an old salsa friend. We sat and talked for an hour or so, just catching up. It was really good to see her again, I think it must be about three years since we’d last spoken to Elsie. We both felt she seemed quite lonely, having finally broken up with her once boyfriend George, and I think we both felt quite sorry for her.

Drove home and I built a new boot disk for the old Raspberry Pi that Val gave me more than four years ago. Booted it up and it ran just the same as ever! Not got a lot of use for it because it doesn’t have built-in WiFi or Bluetooth. It was just a wee challenge.

Watched the start of the new dance program on BBC. About ten minutes in, we both decided it was too dire to be bothered with and removed it from our recording schedule. Afterwards, we watched an episode of Marie Kondo’s series on Netflix (yes Hazy, I did watch it.) Interesting, but “Oh my God” <sic> that repetitive and superfluous phrase from the american woman became really annoying. I might watch another episode, but maybe with the sound turned down or preferably off.

PoD was from Sauchiehall Street. The woman was singing Tracy Chapman songs while accompanying herself on guitar and drum. Very entertaining and it brought a bit of sunshine into a very dull day.

Broke a cap on one of my front teeth tonight.  That’s what happens when you eat too many sticky caramels.  Luckily(?) I have an appointment with the dentist booked for a week on Monday.  Oh what fun!

Tomorrow? No plans as yet. Maybe taking Marie Kondo’s advice and tackling another cupboard.

Every Cloud

Apparently every one of them has a shiny metallic inside covering.

Today we were awake and ready to rise from 8am. That was the earliest the “Rat Man” would arrive. With that in mind, Scamp was up and out by 9.30. I was much more relaxed and waited ‘till the end of the chapter of the excellent “Lies Sleeping”, well actually it was the end to the second chapter as it turned out. Still, I’m trying to meter myself with this book, because I know it will be another year before the next one gets published. After coffee and the first run through of today’s Sudoku puzzle, it was time to go back up stairs to clear out the top three shelves of the ‘tank press’ cupboard. It’s been called that since we moved in to the house thirty odd years ago and about twenty years since the actual hot water tank was removed. We waded into the multiple tins of paint, varnish and paint remover. We sorted through boxes of hammers, saws, chisels and gouges. We threw out a fair bit of what might be called antiques, but were really just rubbish and we put the rest back in a much more orderly manner. All this because we worried that the rodents might have built themselves a nest in that cupboard. They hadn’t, thankfully, but as Scamp said, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” I have to agree the cupboard looks a lot more organised. She also said that we should look, next, at the ‘towel cupboard’. So called because it has towels in it. It’s also got loads of cables, cardboard boxes, more cables, boxes of Lego and even more cables. This may take a little longer.

After lunch the “Rat Man” phoned to say he’d be with us in about an hour, and he was as good as his word. He still seemed determined that the rodents were in the loft, but we insisted that we’d heard them last night in the ceiling void. He inspected my handiwork blocking up the hole in the downstairs cupboard and seemed very impressed. What did he expect from an ex-woodwork teacher? He did a fairly extensive survey of the outside of the house back and front and agreed with the lady on the phone who had suggested that he’d probably put down an external box with poison that it’s hoped the rodents will carry in under the house and feed the family in the nest. A sort of rodent Trojan Horse. With that done he went to inspect the house at No 26 where he thought he had seen a possible access hole near the steps to their back door. We bid him farewell and hoped that when he returned in a week’s time we’d have a quieter house.

It was a dull, dreary day, but I’d already got a PoD. While we were waiting for the “Rat Man” I had taken a few shots of Scamp’s Christmas Rose plant on the back step. The flowers are beautiful and just seem to keep coming. The best shot it at the top of the page. Camera on a Gorilla Pod allowed me to use low ISO and remote control from the phone app. That prevented me from getting grain like golfballs in the low light.

That was about it for the day. I think we may be going in to Glasgow tomorrow so I can get my hair cut. New year, New hair.

The Plan – 3 January 2019

The plan was to get up early and fix the kitchen light. It didn’t work out that way, neither did the kitchen light.

Ok, we did get up fairly early. Before 10am is fairly early these days. Started the fix on the kitchen light, with limited success. That translates as it didn’t work. It looked like the fluorescent tube was a goner. So, it was time to have a coffee, start to solve today’s sudoku and take stock. In the mean time I got a text to say that my pills were ready in Boots. Scamp suggested we go to Tesco (surprise!) where she could get milk and stuff and post the calendars.  At the same time I could go to Boots to get my pills. Then we’d go to B&Q to get a new lamp for the kitchen. On the way we could drop the old HP computer off at the dump. That sounded like a solid Plan B.

Tesco and Boots were no problem, nor was the council dump, it was when we got to B&Q that the problems started. We’d had the old fluorescent light for so long we’d forgotten that they are no longer made or to be more accurate, they’ve been superseded by LED units. The LED lamps seem to have no user replaceable parts in them any more, are simpler to fit and are more expensive, of course. No problem, we got one.

Got home and fitting was simpler than the previous one, once I’d drilled the fitting holes in the right place (second time lucky). Also lucky not to electrocute myself when I accidentally crossed two live wires. Silly bugger. Turn the power off at the box before doing anything with ‘lecky. Those tiny little LEDs don’t half provide a powerful light. Nice white light too. Apparently they have a five year lifespan. We’ll see.

Today’s PoD was taken in the front garden and processed in ON1 2019 where it did a magic trick called Focus Stacking. To prevent your eyes glazing over I’ll leave it at that. If you want to know any more Google it. Green shoots in the first week of January. Maybe Hazy is right and spring is just round the corner. We’ll see.

Lady from the pest control company phoned to say that someone will be here tomorrow to set down some poison outside the house in the hope that the rodents will take it to their nest and kill off the whole lot of them. Now last night the rodents were running around like mad thing right above my head and I was getting a bit upset, so Scamp suggested we email our MSP and see if he could do anything. Suddenly today we get a call from the pest control company suggesting their own Plan B. Coincidence?

It wasn’t the brightest of days today, in fact it was pretty dull all day so we didn’t get very far, but we do have a bright new sun in the kitchen. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get out somewhere nice, after the “Rat Man” has been.

Frosty (no snowman) – 2 January 2019

I woke around 4am this morning and looked out. I thought it had been snowing, but I was mistaken.

Although we were both up and about fairly early, we couldn’t get our little ducks in a row properly so wasted a fair bit of time, although I did make some bread. My main task today was to get the calendars sorted and hopefully posted. I managed the former with the calendars punched, clipped and bagged, but when Scamp took a walk to Condorrat to post them, the A4 parcels wouldn’t fit in the post box. Obviously our post boxes are Eurosceptic Remainer boxes, not happy with these new fangled European metric sizes. So she had to bring them back and hopefully they’ll be posted tomorrow.

When she came back, it was my time to get out. I took a walk over to St Mo’s to see if the frosty stuff was still there. It was, and it was everywhere. My favourite shot and PoD is of a little twig frozen to the surface of a wee pond. To take it, I set the ISO to 200 manually focused at about the right distance and set the self timer. Then I could rest the Nikon on the ice and press the shutter release. It’s a good method if the ice is thick enough to hold the camera! I was holding the strap all the time just in case. This was the best of about four shots. I saw some other potential images, but would probably use the Oly for them if I get another day like today, because then I could see what the camera was seeing through the phone app. I’ll keep it in mind.  It was cold out there.  Temperature was allegedly -0.6ºc when I came in, but it felt a lot colder than that.  It’s now 1.6ºc, but still feels cold.

Scamp claimed dinner tonight. ‘Rats’ for her (no pun intended) and mince pie for me. Beans and potatoes for me and just potatoes for Scamp. Simply superb! Then it was more of the crumble for pudding and it had significantly improved since yesterday, but alas it is now gone.

Tomorrow I need to get up early to fix the kitchen light and after that we’re going out somewhere. Cabin fever is setting in.

The start of a new year – 1 January 2019

It looked a bit frosty when we woke, so we decided to take the ‘getting up’ part in a relaxed manner, as befits the first day of the year.

Normally we go for a walk on New Year’s Day and today was no exception. However, a cup of coffee came first on the agenda along with the ceremonial completion of the first Sudoku puzzle of 2019. Then we got well wrapped up and I got my old boots out. Scamp wore her new, dressy boots, but with Goretex, so sensible too. We walked round St Mo’s pond under a clear blue sky, watched the Canada Geese and the greedy gulls. We also saw the cute little golden eyed Tufted Ducks and it was one of those that made the PoD. The first PoD of 2019.

We left St Mo’s and walked down to Broadwood Loch pasts the posh houses with their inflatable snowmen and indeterminate illuminated creatures. We took a short walk round part of the Loch just to say we’d been there and then we walked back home.

I struggled with, and swore at Microsoft Word for a while trying to mail merge some data from Excel into a word document. It just wouldn’t work. It took me a while to realise that when I asked Mr Google about it, that all the people with the same problem were working on Macs. Could that be the problem? Could it be so simple. The answer seemed to be a resounding YES! I tried to emulate the problem on Scamp’s PC laptop and it simply worked. I was using exactly the same files and exactly the same method and it worked. Another example of two systems just refusing to work with each other. Well, it’s done now and I’ll try to remember to use the PC the next time I’m mail merging.

Dinner was better tonight than Christmas dinner had been, even although Scamp’s salmon was dry and my steak was a bit tough. I liked the red cabbage and the roast potatoes, although Scamp says the cabbage is a ‘work in progress’. I think our demeanour was better tonight and the wine, Rosé D’ Anjou was very nice. Pudding was a quite tart apple and blackcurrant crumble with cream. Plenty left for tomorrow.

Watched the Greatest Showman which wasn’t nearly as bad as it could have been.

Tomorrow we may go out somewhere for another walk, now that we’ve done our traditional New Year’s Day, Two Lochs Tour. A bit nippy tonight. It’s -0.5 as I write.

Right, that’s the first blog post of 2019 finished and posted in time.

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!