Down on Glasgow Brown – 22 July 2018

It used to be Glasgow Green, but that was before the sun shone for a month while the council watched and did nothing.

This morning we went for a walk down to Glasgow Green. It’s ages since we’ve been there and had heard that all the grass had been burned away by the excessive heat and the lack of rain for the past month. We found a cordon running all the way around the frazzled grass from the People’s Palace to the McLennan Arch, while teams of gardeners worked at laying turf and watering the little bits of grass that have survived. Apparently they are preparing it for the 2018 European Championships which are due to begin on the 2nd August. I think they may be hiking to get it finished in time. However, if they had, during the dry spell, taken some time to assess the damage that was being done to the grass from all the events they were running and put in some work to repair it, there wouldn’t have been this last minute rush to fix things. Too busy rubbing their hands at all the money they were making. Shortsighted as usual. Still, we don’t live in Glasgow region, so it won’t be our Council Tax that will be paying for the re-turfing of The Green! One thing’s for certain, the money won’t be coming out of Glasgow Council coffers.

Back home and after lunch I took the Dewdrop out for a run again. While I was out the clouds did open for a while to deposit a gentle smir but it didn’t get as far as real rain. All it did was increase the humidity that was already making cycling uncomfortable. Did about 40 minutes of decent cycling at something approaching a working cadence. Maybe more tomorrow. Although, the first hurdle tomorrow is the visit to the dentist 🙁

Today we lifted our first tub of potatoes and got a fair few for our efforts. The variety was Charlotte. We forgot to weigh them, but our estimate is about 850g. Not bad from only three seed potatoes.

Today’s PoD is from the visit to The Green (or should that be The Brown) this morning and is a lone sculler on the Clyde. I liked the way the buildings in the background seem to rise up and dwarf her.

Tomorrow is the dentist and hopefully some salsa at night.

A day out in the Clacks – 16 July 2018

Nothing to do with communication systems in the Diskworld

A Monday without Gems and also without Salsa is a strange thing, but so it was today. We were going out to explore. I thought, as it was a fairly bright sunny day we should go for a walk and suggested Gartmorn Dam near Alloa.

It’s well signposted almost from the Clacks (Clackmannanshire) bridge but when you turn off through a housing scheme, not an estate, a scheme – it’s different. When you turn off you have to run the gauntlet of the slalom through the cars and vans parked both sides of the road, with the added interest of the speed bumps. It would appear that the locals are no fans of the speed bumps either as many of them have been removed by some clever folk who have access to the special spanners used to fix them. I can see why. Speed bumps are a deterrent when they aren’t on your own territory, then they are just a nuisance, so it they are demountable, demount them. Once you get there, it’s actually a really pretty looking pond. It appears that nobody knows exactly when the dam was built, but the estimate is some time around the start of the 17th century. It’s a decent size with a good path round the 3mile perimeter. We didn’t actually walk all the way round today, although we walked about half way round the last time we were here, about two years ago and almost the same again on the other side of the reservoir today, so that’s us been all the way round by my reckoning. Today’s PoD shows the view across the reservoir to the Ochil Hills.

On our way round we found a dilapidated sunken garden that was in real need of some TLC. Hmm the ‘cooncil’ can afford to put in speed bumps that nobody wants, but they can’t afford to look after a garden. We watched a young couple paddling an inflatable dinghy on the reservoir. A cleg found me and sucked a bit of my blood, the last meal it had before being flattened. We watched two wee boys jumping off a filter in the reservoir with increasingly innovative dives, egged on by no less a person than Scamp. We drank some coffee, although to give mine the name coffee was a misnomer (it was a Babyccino with something brown added for colour.) We had a couple of lovely fruit scones and Scamp managed to tear a hole in her tee shirt on a rose bush. Most of all, we had a great day out, except for the cleg bite and the torn tee shirt.

Came home and the sun was still shining. I intended taking my bike out for a run while Scamp pruned the rose at the front door, but I lay down and had a snooze on the couch instead, waking up just in time for dinner.

Now that was a good day out.

Tomorrow we have no plans.

The day that the rains came – 15 July 2018

It rained today, on St Swithin’s Day.

It hasn’t rained here for almost a month, then, today it rained. It was St Swithin’s day. If it rains on St Swithin’s, it’s supposed to rain for forty days. I suppose my shorts can go into the washing basket now along with the tee shirts and the short sleeved shirts. Might as well get the Bergy jackets looked out and the wellies. I should really start to sandbag the doors front and back to hold back the torrents. However, on looking on the bright side, I can put away the garden hose almost until September! If you believe the superstition, that is. What if you don’t? Does that mean it won’t rain on you? Will you have a little invisible umbrella shielding you from the downpour that’s soaking all the ‘believers’ ? I’ll go with that view. I’ll be an unbeliever, even if it means I have to keep watering the garden.

It was good to see the rain today, even if it wasn’t all that heavy. It was good to see the streets looking black again. Good to see the soil soaking up the moisture. I even put on my ‘rainy coat’ and went for a walk across to St Mo’s just to say I’d been out in it. The ground had that lovely smell of rain on dry earth that only comes after a long, hot, dry spell and the rain wasn’t cold. I even wore my shorts to better feel the warm rain. I managed to get some shots of a damp Soldier Beetle sitting on a Cow Parsley head and remembered that my mum used to call Cow Parsley, Dug’s Flourish. I never did find out why, but when I Googled the english version ‘Dogs Flourish’, back came confirmation from a few places on the Central Belt of Scotland, each with different possible reasons for the name. What’s in a name?

Under Scamp’s tutelage I cooked some stew using a combination of her mum’s and my mum’s methods. It worked, of course. With that lineage, how could it fail. That was dinner tonight. Something simple and homely. For me, Potatoes, Stewed Steak and Calabrese which is a variety of sprouting broccoli. Scamp substituted Ratatouille (or Rats) for the Stewed Steak. Both seemed to go down well, resulting in clean plates.

The rain persisted almost all day but is fading away now as darkness falls.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. No dancing because it’s Glasgow Fair Monday and although nobody bothers with ‘The Fair’, the STUC building is closed because it’s a local holiday. Old habits die hard.

What a Gay day – 14 July 2018

Today we were going to Glasgow on the bus to watch the Glasgow Pride procession.

We decided to be extra lazy today and get the X3 in. That mean the least amount of walking for me. Had the traditional coffee in Nero with a shared apricot croissant to give us the extra burst of energy to fortify us for our walk around the streets. When we left Buchanan Galleries I spotted a neat bit of graffiti on the billboard for Victoria’s Secret. Well, the secret is now out Victoria. You just want us to “Buy ‘Hings” which translates to Buy Things for those of you living outside Glasgow.

With a photo in the bag, I could relax a bit and we walked down to Argyle Street – me to go to Millers Art Shop and Scamp to go to Next. Neither of us parted with our hard earned money and we met up again. As well as going to Millers, I’d also enquired of some multicoloured rainbow people where exactly the parade would be starting from and was a bit concerned when they told me they didn’t know. Hmm, this didn’t sound good. However, we needn’t have worried, the police van with blue lights flashing and the balloon truck behind at the far end of Argyle Street was a dead give-away.

The parade was a lot bigger this year, with an estimated 12,000 walkers, paraders, weirdos and general hangers-on. Right at the front was Nick the Chick (AKA Sturgeon). Scamp said Nick smiled at her. If she’d smiled at me I wouldn’t have been broadcasting that snippet of news. We watched it all from start to finish. Just about 45 minutes of lunacy, but good humoured and colourful lunacy. Contrast that with the Orange Walk last week which is also lunacy and colourful lunacy, but hardly good humoured. As well as the PoD there are some photos on Flickr of the procession and some of the characters, therein.  In total I took 361 shots today.  Most of them were taken in ‘motordrive mode’, where you just keep the shutter button pressed and hope for the best.  It works most of the time.  I’ve whittled those 361 down to 60 usable shots of which 5 made it to Flickr today.  Maybe I’ll post some more in the coming week, all being well.

After I bought a couple of watercolour paints, we went to Zizzi for lunch and were both disappointed with the quality of the food, but the two glasses of wine we had were lovely, although each of us preferred our own different choice of wine. Maybe it’s because it was white wine we were drinking instead of our traditional red, but we both agreed they were refreshing. Contrast that with two insipid pasta dishes. Oh well, a lesson learned. Should have gone to Sarti’s much better to go to a small restaurant than a chain.

Just managed get seated on the X3 going home when the bus left the stance. Good timing for once. Sat in the garden when we got back. Scamp finished off the remainder of a bottle of red we’d opened the other night and I had a bottle of cider. It was comfortably warm with a nice welcome breeze. Looks like there will be a fair amount of rain tomorrow. At last.

Don’t expect we’ll be going far tomorrow, but we’ll wait and see.

Only half a day – 12 July 2018

I woke about 5.30 this morning and just couldn’t get back to sleep.

After I finally entered dreamland, it took me ages to find the exit. I felt really rough. My throat was dry and itchy and my head felt thicker than normal. It was Scamp’s turn to get breakfast, which was just as well. I ate my muesli, drank my tea, turned over and went back to sleep. Scamp woke me at 11 with another cup of tea and some toast. That gave me enough strength to go, get showered, get dressed and do my exercises (see JIC, even when I’m feeling ill, I do as the physio tells me). Feeling a lot better, I re-entered the land of the living around midday. Wandered round the garden and decided it was time for lunch.

After two boiled eggs Scamp drove us to Asda for the messages. We usually go to Tesco, but we went to Asda for a change. I used to avoid it because that’s where all the school kids went to shoplift shop. Now, after four years of freedom, I hardly recognise any of them and none of them seem to recognise me, thank goodness. Possibly they see me smiling and think “Nah. Couldn’t be him”. Laden down with goodies and not so goodies, we made our way back home.

The back garden, especially looked a bit in need of watering, so I unrolled the hose and gave everything a good blast. I didn’t have anything as a photo, so I took a walk to St Mo’s. It still strikes me as strange to go over there wearing a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. Unnatural. Found myself a PoD in the picture of a hover fly apparently egg laying. I was quite impressed with the quality of image from the Nikon and the Sigma 105mm. I also got a shot of a flower head set out in a pentagon. Most unusual. I didn’t notice what the plant looked like, but I’ll go back tomorrow with my plant book and try to find it.

When I came home I sat in the garden for a while before we had dinner, Stir Fry. After dinner we soaked up the last of today’s sun before we went in.

Had intended going to Embra at the weekend, but apparently there are to be rallies there complaining about Donald Trump being allowed to visit Scotland or to breathe air or something. Anyway, it won’t make any difference to DT and it would probably spoil our day, so we’re going to choose a different, non-DT destination.

Tomorrow the plan is to get up at a normal time, meet Val for coffee and then go to Larky to pic up our optical devices,

Lazers and Needles – 11 July 2018

Physio today.

Up and out early to meet the torturer. Actually he’s a very gentle torturer who tentatively prods and pushes then presses on a spot a bit harder and, as I twist, says with a smile “It hurts there then!” Oh yes, it did! He swiftly diagnosed a damaged medial ligament. Caused by not listening to Michael properly when he was demonstrating the reverse turn. Then it was on to 15 minutes of laser treatment before he started with the needles. I’ve had acupuncture before, but it’s a while since I saw them going in. Oh, they are long! It’s a strange feeling seeing them sink deeper and deeper into my leg. He finished up by giving me two exercises to give a bit more flexibility to my core. I didn’t know I had a core, but apparently I do have quite a stiff core which is also part of my problem. These are exactly the kind of exercises that JIC warns that you do a couple the days before you go back to see the physio, but you tell him you’ve been doing religiously all week and you both know you’re lying! I’m starting out with good intentions.

Got home and it was just a few minutes after 9. Had a coffee, checked my mail, checked Flickr and the inevitable FB then went out to the garden and did a bit of light pruning. Chopped the seed heads off the aquilegia.

Came in to find Scamp washing half a dozen bone handled knives. Old ones. Probably older than me. Probably a wedding present to my mum and dad. Definitely so much better than modern stainless steel ones. The handles weren’t even bone, they were that modern plastic! The only down side is that you can’t put them in the dishwasher. When they were made a dishwasher was called a scullery maid.

While Scamp went off to buy some more flowers for the garden, I grabbed my cameras and drove down to Auchinstarry for a walk along the railway out to Dumbreck Marshes, then back along the canal, still hoping to see that blue flash of the kingfisher. It wasn’t there. It must be on its holidays. What I did see was a little yellow and black striped caterpillar. I knew I’d seen it before and I reckoned it was a moth caterpillar. Tried to review the last photo and got the message “NO CARD”. Luckily I’d only taken a few shots, but the SD card was indeed missing. Still in the slot in the computer, no doubt. Swapped a card out from the Teazer that was in my pocket and I was back in business. A few steps further on I saw another couple of stripy caterpillars and got the shot. When I was checking them back home on the computer, they weren’t all that sharp. The ones I missed would have been pin sharp and full of detail. They were indeed moth caterpillars, that would grow up to be cinnabar moths in a few weeks time.

They didn’t make PoD, the view along the canal did. I liked all the tones and hues of green in the shot.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Rogan Josh from the Spice Tailor series. Easily the best and simplest curry kits in the world. Coupled with basmati rice and flatbreads it made a delicious dinner.

Went to salsa because the physio said that was ok. Danced half the first class and then all the second amid cheers from the Scottish supporters in The Schoolhouse pub magically turned into AWPE (Anyone Who’s Playing England) supporters when Croatia equalised. Probably half of them didn’t know, or care, where Croatia was, just that they had beaten ‘the auld enemy’. I didn’t hear the final cheer, but then the music was quite loud. Doing La Confusion where men become women and followers become leaders. Probably the best named move we’ve ever learned, although some of the technicalities still evade me.  I was really glad of the fans tonight, nothing to do with football, but everything to do with staying cool.  It may be getting close to the end of the heatwave, and rain may soon be on  the horizon, but the temperature is still in the mid twenties and when you’re dancing in an airless atrium of an old school you need the fans to create a circulation of air.

Home with a smile on my face tonight. It was a good day.

Tomorrow? Maybe Dunfermline on the bus.

Testing out the knee – 9 July 2018

Went to visit the physio this morning and have made an appointment for Wednesday.

EARLY on Wednesday, 8.15 at the sports centre. That’s well before I usually wake up, so he should get a view of the knee in its most rested state.

Today, however, we did a bit of clearing up upstairs where Sim & Jamie would be staying in a few days time if all goes to plan. I’ve now found the settee which converts into a bed after dumping loads of rubbish and computer stuff (some people say ‘rubbish’ and ‘computer stuff’ are just two descriptions of the same things, but they’re wrong. Rubbish is just that, rubbish. Computer stuff on the other hand has to be sorted through, looked at, checked to make sure there’s not a possibility it might be used some day and then put in the bin, only to be retrieved later on the grounds that somebody might use it someday.
I also found the top of the chest of drawers hidden under similar rubbish and fewer pieces of computer stuff. The upshot is that the place looks tidier, but it will take me ages to find anything again. I even found a tape cassette with the logo T’pau! However, thankfully I’d taped over it with The Wall. That was a near thing!

Went out after lunch ‘to get some photos’. The best one I got, which was also the first was of a trio of Gaillardia Sunrita sitting on the front doorstep. That became PoD. A close second was a shot of a robin sitting on a rose stem on the banks of the Luggie Water.  Like the bloke I was speaking to said, it was “another beautiful day”.

Went to salsa tonight and managed to catch up with most of the gossip. It appears that Irene is now a fully fledged teacher and has her own level 2 class. She did quite well tonight. I danced in that class as a helper, but all the turns she was doing were wearing away at my knee, so I was glad when the end of the class came. Jamie’s advanced class was a different challenge and I had to sit out half an hour of it because I wanted to test out the knee, but not totally destroy the ligaments that David, the physio, thinks I’ve irritated (his word).

So, all in all not a bad day. A bit of a workout for the knee, a return to salsa and a picture of three startling flowers.

Tomorrow a visit to the optician in Larky for Scamp and I and maybe a run down Clydeside for lunch if the weather permits. Sounds like a plan.

The Tidy Up – 8 July 2018

Before we went to bed last night we did some tidying up, but not enough.

This morning we had to return the kitchen and living room back to normal. Actually it didn’t take that long. It never does when two people work together and that’s what we did. In a few hours we had everything under control and it was time for lunch.

After a ‘normal’ Sunday lunch we settled down to watch a grumpy Lewis Hamilton lose the British F1 GP to Sebastian Vettel. Poor little rich boy never, ever shunted anyone off the track in his life, apparently. It was a good race though with a fair bit of action on a fast track.

After the excitement of the GP I took the ‘big dog’ over to St Mo’s to get some photos, but the best I could do was a picture of the red eyed coot going for a paddle. That’s what made PoD.

It was a cloudier day than yesterday, but still warm, just not as warm as it’s been.

Tomorrow I think I’ll need to go and visit the physio to get his opinion on my knee.

Busy, busy, busy – 7 July 2018

Today was just a busy day.

Quiches to make in the morning, two different fillings. One my sister-in-law’s recipe for hot smoked salmon and broccoli and another with red pepper and cheese. Both for tonight’s dinner with last night’s visitors plus June and Ian. After that, my work was done and it was over to Scamp to assemble the dessert which was giant Jaffa cake and lemon syllabub. The Jaffa cake went well, but the syllabub wasn’t thickening to her satisfaction. Still, an hour or two in the fridge would surely firm it up. The ham had been roasted the day before and a slice from it proved that its cooking was perfect.

Grabbed an hour in the afternoon to get some photos in St Mo’s and the hoverfly won the PoD.

Dinner went well and we finally got to bed just before 12.

Preparation Day – 6 July 2018

A day of bad coffee, pizzas and surprise visitors

A trip to Tesco in the morning bought almost all the ingredients for tomorrows dinner with Crawford & Nancy and June & Ian. Scamp set to to build the dessert while I sat around and solved today’s Sudoku. We all have skills, we just have to utilise them the way we see best. After the prep was done, we went out for what Scamp called “a Light Lunch”. After ticking off the likely venues on our fingers, we plumped for Craigend Nursery. It’s a plant nursery, but their big claim to fame is their restaurant/cafe. We used to go there a lot, but now not so much. I know why. Burnt water pretending it’s coffee and a panini you could hammer in nails with was not what Scamp meant by “a Light Lunch”. Having said that, her Fish Finger Sandwich which was three sandwiches of hefty sliced bread filled with deep fried fish was lovely. Three slice was too much for her, so I helped her clear her plate. The attention to detail and desire to satisfy customers was evident when the girl making up the bill asked “Was everything alright?” and Scamp replied “No, not the best”. The girl’s reply was “Sorry”. No desire to ask what was wrong or even to pass it up the chain if she felt she couldn’t help us, just “Sorry”. We’re sorry too. This used to be a good place for a lunch, light or otherwise. Now it’s a victim of its own success.

Back home and there was cleaning to be done. There were also photos to be taken and I know which of these tasks was on my to-do list. Grabbed my cameras and drove down to Auchinstarry to look for the elusive kingfisher. Didn’t find it, but I did find Mrs Swan out with the weans. That became PoD. Most interesting shot was a green caterpillar on a mission to cross my path as quickly as possible. Maybe it was going to a meeting or something. Used the new macro lens at ground level to get a more interesting point of view. Oh it was hot. The day had started just over 16ºc but it must have been well above twenty now.

Walked back and made some bread dough to try out Scamp’s idea of bread rolls pinched from Epicurean, then sat in the garden for a while with Scamp, but without a drink as I was nominated driver for tonight, taking Scamp and Moira to a witches evening in Bonnybridge. It was after I got back and was halfway through dividing up the dough into the individual rolls, while heating my pizza dinner that our surprise visitors arrived. Crawford & Nancy stood on the doorstep thinking I was joking when I said it was tomorrow night they should be coming. I don’t know who was more embarrassed, them or me. I invited them in, but told them that Scamp was out for the night, but they refused. Hope they come back tomorrow!

I had intended getting a pizza from Domino’s, but after asking for an anchovy and olive pizza and being taken through the script:

“Did you say it was a pizza you wanted?” YES.
“What size pizza?” MEDIUM
“What would you like on it?” Anchovy and Olive
“Did you say Olive?” YES, and Anchovy
“We don’t have anchovies.” FORGET IT

Poor wee soul, he seemed surprised. Why didn’t I want his pizza. He could have told me at the start that they didn’t do anchovies, but that would have taken him off-script into the dangerous territory where you have to think and that just won’t do!

So, tomorrow. Should be making starter in the morning then Scamp will be assembling dessert and maybe we’ll go for lunch somewhere, but not Craigend.