Hvar – Pine trees, Cicadas and Staropramen – 11 August 2019

The only port where we had to use the tender.

If there’s one thing P&O are good at, it’s organising. Waited in a queue to collect our ticket for the tender which was really one of the lifeboats. About 15 minutes later we were called to board the Skylark. Just a ten minute jaunt to the harbour.

We walked around the bay and took a detour up through a sort of park with Corsican pines growing everywhere. We could smell the pine resin blowing in the breeze. We also found a Cicada on one of the trees, initially pointed out by an American man. You always hear cicadas in warm climates, but it’s rare to see one.

Walked on and found a posh hotel with a low level infinity pool. Turned back at this point and walked back by a lower path. Stopped at a cafe and had a bottle of Staropramen each, then a coffee. Nice wee place where you can watch the hundreds of wee boats in the harbour alongside enormous yachts. We watched a dog jump off a boat and paddle to the shore, almost beating the couple who were rowing to the shore from the boat. I’m guessing it was too warm to be a guard dog today. We got free WiFi at the cafe too. Not many places seem to have free WiFi these days, or at least I didn’t find any.

Back at the ship we saw the polis in a speed boat huckle some poor punter and his pals. At first we thought he’d been exceeding the speed limit in the bay, but it began to look a bit more serious and they weren’t for letting them go again. Never found the reason, but it certainly spoiled someone’s Sunday.

We decided to try dancing again because Roy & Andrea (the Lovely Jubbly dance teachers) had the night off and one of the entertainment team was playing the tunes. We asked for Desposito and danced a fairly decent Salsa to it. The girl playing the music complemented us on our Armography. I’m guessing it was a complement anyway! Lovely and Jubbly were watching too, but didn’t say much. I think it was a case of “We are not amused.”

PoD was the view from the cafe.

Things I remember about the pretty little town of Hvar:
You must not go topless in the town. That rule applies to both sexes.
The swimming dog
The smell of the pine resin
The Cicada
The old lumpy tree who’s trunk was held up with a wooden post.

It’s a nice quiet looking town and we’d go back there if we got the chance. However, not tomorrow, because that’s Venice!

Valletta, Malta – The Smug Smugglers – 8 August 2019

 

Today we woke to the sight of the Giraffe Crane. I think it had missed us.

After breakfast we walked along the front to the super-fast glass elevator that took us up to the viewing platform and the gun battery. We weren’t very interested in the gun battery, but we took some photos from the viewing platform, just for the sake of it.

Then we walked into the town. It looked a lot like the town we’d seen two years ago, but some things had changed. At the top of the main shopping street there was a fountain and an open tiled plaza where there had been a building site before. Also two very photogenic sets of steps were now complete where they had only gone half way up the last time.  Beautiful light on the sand coloured stone.

We stopped at a cafe for a drink and the owner(?) told me after a joke that he had been married for 47 years. I told him he was beating me by a year. We had a laugh. I had a beer and Scamp had a fresh orange juice. We paid our bill and said goodbye to the man with another joke.

We wandered round some more and Scamp was looking for somewhere for lunch. She found a little backstreet restaurant called D’ Office Bistro. I suggested Bruschetta to share as a starter and then we both had Chicken Caesar Salad. Scamp found they had a bottle of Rosé d’ Anjou on the menu, so we had that. The whole thing was gorgeous. Walked away feeling happy.

I wanted to buy some paint, Burnt Umber which is a dark brown that I use a lot. After just one wrong turning, I found the art shop I’d been in two years ago and got a tube of the paint and also a pan of Vandyke Brown which looked good. <I know this is nonsense to you, but it’s a reminder to me>.

I also wanted a cheap Malta tee shirt and Scamp wanted a coverall for when the sun gets too hot. I think the woman selling them diddled us, but that was probably ok. I needed some coffee too and found it in a wee shop down a side street. Next on my list was some electrical insulating tape and jewellers screwdrivers. The tape is to cover three little clips that keep stabbing into my fingers on my sporran. The screwdrivers are to fix the legs on my ’designer’ glasses which are the only pair I have left. My optician’s glasses broke a couple of days ago and refuse to go back together again. Hopefully I’ll have a pair to go back to from Simpsons. I found a wee ironmonger’s shop, again, down a side street and he had exactly what I wanted. Ironmongers shops are like hen’s teeth. When did you last see one? The owner was another character. He told me a story about his trip to Scotland and how he just had to get out of the car and stare at the scenery near Aviemore. He told me a good joke he read on a tea towel in Edinburgh too. Scamp reckons he’ll dine out on the story about the Scotsman who emptied his pockets and found that he’d just the right amount of money to pay for his tape and screwdrivers.

Back at the ship and in the duty free shop we took the risk and bough a bottle of gin, hoping we’d hit it lucky and get it past the guards. Got there and the scanner was covered up. Result! We will drink gin after all!

Scamp wanted to go back ashore to buy a wee dish she’d seen last week and we had a drink too. Scamp had a Rum ’n’ Coke and I had a very stiff Margherita. I could hardly walk back to the ship.

We dined at The Beach House tonight, which is the starboard side of Smash ’n’ Grab by day. My steak on a stone was good. My Hush Puppy starter tasted like … Well, let me put it this way, a pair of Hush Puppy shoes would have more flavour. The Key Lime Pie thing was much the same. Nice sorbet, but the rest had no taste. Through the middle of the meal we had to listen to boring Cap’n Bob’s lifeboat drill and I noticed that either he has a repetitive speech problem with some words or else it was the same speech as last week played back.

Tomorrow is a sea day with new dance instructors.

Heraklion – The Wee Train – 6 August 2019

It’s fascinating watching other people work, especially when you’re on holiday.

In the morning I watched a crane with grab loading scrap metal on to a ship. Maybe it’s a ‘man thing’, but I just found it fascinating. It wasn’t just the amount of scrap they dumped at a time, but also the delicate precision with which they could pick out a car tyre from the load that was dumped on the quayside and put it into another pile. Like I say, maybe it’s a ‘man thing’.

We walked in to to town of Heraklion, or rather, the Old Town. It didn’t seem like Rhodes, the other walled town we’d seen. This one seemed a bit more run-down.

After walking for what felt like miles we found a little train, a trolly train I think it’s called and it took us round the walls, in and out of most of the city gates, because it is a city, not a town.
It was quite dilapidated in places furthest from the sea. Lots of old crumbling buildings and football pitches with knee high grass.

We got off at the wrong stop which was supposed to be for a shopping centre. It didn’t look like one, it didn’t even look as if there had ever been one there, and had to walk for a bit in the hot sun. What we did find was an Italian cafe where we had an overpriced latte for Scamp and cafe freddo for me.

Walked round some ruined buildings with a new church in their midst and eventually found the town centre exactly where we’d got on train.
I got a tee shirt, probably the best one I’ve got so far
Scamp found a M&S! Demanded she have her photo taken outside it! She never asks for her photo to be taken outside Marks in Stirling or Glasgow. Maybe it’s a ‘woman thing’!

Cafe Jardin at night (second formal night). We both had risotto which was absolutely beautiful. This was the second menu.

Danced for a while, then off to bed after a wee G ’n’ T on the balcony watching the stars.

PoD was a steel cube on a plinth in a sort of town hall building. Couldn’t understand the significance of it, but very elegant building.

Sea day tomorrow.

Rhodes – City Walls and Giros – 5 August 2019

This city has walls to keep the dobbers out. A bit like Larky with sun.

We survived the winds and high seas last night and were ready to go adventuring. We got off the ship and went for a walk along the promenade then into the city through one of the gates. Inside was like a giant marketplace with shops, and restaurants. No pubs, but all the restaurants seemed to sell alcohol. It was quite a pretty place ins and little groups of trees to break the monotony. It was also full of people, lots of people. There seemed to be people everywhere. We stopped for a drink, because it was hot today. Scamp bought a table cover and I bought a dodgy looking Rhodes tee shirt to tick the box for buying a new tee shirt in every port we docked at. Bought it from a grumpy wee man.

We wandered round and round and always higher up the hill. Eventually we came to the road outside the city walls and then tried to find an alternative way back to the ship. We ended up going down the Street of the Knights which was an interesting street, very steep and with old renovated buildings on both sides. Lots of them with the original coats of arms of the knights who had stayed there. At the bottom of the street Scamp found a restaurant and we went there for lunch. She had Chicken Caesar Salad and I had Chicken Giros which is like pan fried pieces of chicken served with tzatsiki and a wrap. We’d been told to look for it somewhere in Greece years ago by, I think, a dance teacher. Both lunches were excellent. One washed down with a glass of white wine and one with red. Sat in the shade of trees outside it was lovely. If you’re ever in Rhodes I can recommend a good restaurant! Walked back down the road and finally came to the sea, from there it was a short walk to the ship. On the way we took photos of each of us at an arched window through the city walls, but we’d to wait for a couple of girls to finish their selfie poses first!

I did a bit of painting from the ship, but it started out well, then became muddy and eventually I gave it up as a bad job.

Cap’n Bob gave another of his doom laden messages this evening after we’d set sail. Oh, we’re sailing into a storm, with winds in excess of 40 knots! The seas are going to have waves 3m high! The Kraken will wake! Some areas of the ship will be locked off. Make sure you tie down all your valuables. He finished with “… and have a pleasant night on board Oceana.” Numpty.

PoD was a little lizard on the city walls.  I think it’s a Blue Tailed Skink.

If the ship survives the storm we’ll be in Heraklion tomorrow.

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.

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.

Feeling the heat – 22 July 2019

Woke to high winds and a bit of rain, but by the end of the day it was the heat that was in command

Today I was going to finish the waistcoat, or at least have it near enough finished that I could wear it. That was the challenge. Stitched it up and then faced the task of turning it outside in, or inside out, depending on the way you look at it. It was actually easier than I thought it would be. With that done, Scamp suggested I press it, and that’s what I did. I hadn’t realised how useful a pair of tweezers would be to help you pull out all those little corners that wanted to stay rounded and I wanted to be sharp. Finally got it pressed as flat as my sewing would allow, and that’s when I found my mistake. In my wisdom I’d assumed you only needed to allow one opening to turn the thing outside in and had sewn up the other side, but the instructions that had seemed vague to me at first now became clear. I’d have to undo part of my wonderful sewing. Stitch-rippers are fun to use too. Soon got it sorted and all joined up properly so that it did indeed look like a wearable garment. It still needs the finishing hand sewing to fix the lining, but I’m hoping to do that tomorrow.

That took up most of the day, but I booked an hour before dinner to grab some beastie photos in St Mo’s. That’s where today’s PoD came from. As well as getting some beasties, one beastie got me. Found a cleg chewing happily away at my hand. It won’t bite anyone else in this world. Piriton to the rescue and also some Anthisan to be sure. Still stings a bit, but hopefully I caught it in time. I’ve been so careful making sure that I clear of ticks, I forgot about the ubiquitous Cleg.

Scamp drove us in to Glasgow for salsa tonight and I have to thank her for that. Although it was a fairly easy drive, the wind was dropping away and the heat was building in the early evening sunshine. It was good to be a passenger for once. New moves tonight were Archangel which was Angel with Gabriel bolted on to the end, Sombrero Doble which is actually three Sombreros and that good old standard, New One.

Just in case you though I’d made up the story about the Partick Samurai, here’s the video to prove we did see it:

Tomorrow is to be even hotter than today and then we’re to have heavy rain and thunderstorms at night. Oh what fun. No plans.

What a Gay Day Glasgow Style – 20 July 2019

We were going in to Glasgow to meet up with Jackie and Murdo around midday.  The Glasgow Gay Pride march was on and it seemed a shame not to take some photos.

Drove in to Glasgow and went for a walk down Bucky Street to catch a glimpse of the Glasgow Pride march.  After the disappointment of the Embra one, which wasn’t very gay and showed little pride, we hoped Glasgow would be a bit more enthusiastic.  It didn’t disappoint.

We saw about half the marchers walking along past the Tron Church and then on to George Square.  There was no comparison with the watered down Embra parade.  Here there was music, whistles, bands and sunshine.  Although the weather fairies had predicted rain, none came, but the sun did.  Stood watching for about half an hour and then wandered round George Square getting more photos.  PoD went to the flag waver at the top of the page.

Met up with the Skye folk in JL and drove  us all home.  Spent the afternoon sitting chatting.  Lots to catch up with and all the time in the world to do it.  Other than that we didn’t do much.  June, the other sister didn’t manage to come over to join the chat, but that was her loss.  They return to Skye tomorrow, getting the 10am bus.

We may go dancing later in the afternoon.

Rain, but an improving situation – 17 July 2019

Woke to the wet stuff this morning.  Oh well, at least we won’t need to water the garden tonight.

Since there was no Salsa class for us tonight because Jamie Gal wouldn’t be there and also, there was no 7.30 class.  It seemed pointless to travel in to Glasgow for just one class, and not one at which we’d be learning anything new.  With that in mind Scamp suggested that we take the bus in to Glasgow for Jive and Ballroom.  Also in her suggestion was that we could have lunch in Glasgow.  Sounded good to me, just as long as I got through the dancing part.  I don’t really mind  the different moves we’re learning, it’s just that the moves keep changing slightly depending on which of the teachers is teaching.  Also, just when we’ve got to grips with the Seven Deadly Spins, they start inserting other moves in between the spins.  People are becoming confused and I can understand why.  Anyway, we plodded off to Condorrat to get the fast bus to Glasgow.  That meant we’d got there early so we went for a wander round the centre of the town before we came to Blackfriars.  Free dance to get started and we tried a newer routine than the Spins then made a real hash of it.  Michael decided we should go back to the Spins.  That’s when they started changing the first of the inserted routines which left all of us confused and looking at each other.  This was glossed over and Michael seemed to decide he’d had enough and left to go to the physio.  Next up was Quickstep and that wasn’t too bad, in fact I managed the Pendulum and finally worked out  how the Double Lock and Check worked.  So, started off badly, but it became an improving situation.

Next to Blackfriars is a Scottish themed restaurant called Mharsanta.  We’d promised ourselves we’d go for lunch there one day.  Today was the day.  Glass of wine for Scamp and a pint of IPA for me to start with (benefits of travelling on  the bus!)  Chicken Goujons for Scamp’s starter followed by her leveller – Fish ‘n’ Chips.  First main course she has virtually anywhere.  I had Haggis Scotch Egg followed by Steak and Sausage Pie.  Both our meals were excellent.  However, we simply must go back some time because one of  the mains is Mince ‘n’ Mashed Tatties plus a Poached Egg on top.  The only people I’ve seen do this properly were my mum and Scamp.  Now there’s no way on this earth that they could cook it better, but I’d like to see how close they could get!

Got my hair cut in Nile Barber then coffee in Paperchase where they do a very good Americano and apparently a Latte too, before we got the bus home.  A fast bus, but not as fast as the ultra speedy one in.  That was the way the day went.  An improving situation indeed.  It rained all day.

The view from the restaurant made PoD.

Tomorrow I’ve got the dentist at midday other than that the coast is clear.

A walk in the country – 16 July 2019

It looked like rain today, sew I got stuck into the waistcoat again.

The first bit was easy, just sewing up some of the lining material to make the belt for the back.  Managed that without much bother, then had to consult with Scamp about these bloody darts.  That clarified it a bit and after doing as I was told (for once) the mysteries of the darts disappeared.  While Scamp went out to get her hair cut I finished off the darts for the inside lining of the back and felt quite pleased with myself.  The ouside of the back was a bit more problematic, but again, remembering Scamp’s suggestions about pinning and basting before sewing, I got that bit done too.  Decided it was time for lunch and we halved the other quiche from yesterday.  Well to be honest, I had half and Scamp had a quarter with another quarter in the fridge for tomorrow perhaps.

After lunch I decided enough was enough and I’d leave the rest for another rainy day.  Besides, the threatened rain hadn’t appeared, so I thought I’d go out for a walk to get some photos.  Asked if Scamp wanted to come with me and was surprised when she agreed!  Scamp doesn’t like going for a walk when I’m toting a camera … or two.  However, I was sure she’d enjoy this walk, and if not enjoy, then at least find it better than it could be as we’d be walking on a tarmac road.  Drove up to the parking place behind Fannyside Lochs, yes Lochs, because there are acutally two lochs split by the road.  I found an interesting website:  Georeferenced Maps where you can overlay a Google Maps image with a variety of old maps.  Lots of tweaks too like the ‘Spy View’ that puts a small circle of old map under your mouse pointer and you can compare and contrast yesteryear with today’s maps.  That’s where I found that the two lochs were originally one loch split by the road.  Now the smaller of the two lochs has shrunk considerably.  To get back to the walk, we parked and walked back along the minor road to the place where it joined the Slamannan road, then turned and came back.  It was a lovely warm day with light cloud and some blue sky.  Not as much blue sky as the previous days, but as we’d been prepared for rain today, we were happy with what we got.  Managed to get a few photos of a small brown butterfly that seemed to be following us.  I thought at first it was a Small Heath, but it turned out to be a Ringlet.  It’s easy to see why with all the ring markings on its wings. That became PoD.

Drove home and while Scamp made what turned out to be Mutter and Mushroom Paneer, I took the bold step of joining the outside back to the outside fronts of the waistcoat and could put it on for the first time to check the size.  It looks OK.  That was definitely it for today.  Scamp’s curry was an absolute winner.  Just hot enough to be on the verge of being too hot, but lovely and spicy too.  Made from a recipe book we bought in Woolworth’s many, many years ago.  I don’t think we’ve had a bad curry from it yet.  Today’s was the best for a long time.  We did need some ice cream afterwards though.

Hopefully dancing tomorrow and my turn to get my hair cut.