Cauld Reekie – 2 February 2019

Today we went to Embra. About a couple of thousand rugby supporters went too. I think they were all on our train.

We’d been promising ourselves that we’d go to Embra since well before Christmas, but with the combination of health problems and rodent problems, not to mention the train problems, we didn’t get. Today we did. The seven coach ‘leccy train was mobbed, but we did get a seat and of course we got off with all the rugby supporters going to see Scotland get humped by Italy. I hope they weren’t too disappointed when our team won! It was cold enough to freeze the snotters dripping from my nose as we walked up to our usual Nero. How cold must it be when you’re wearing a kilt and sitting in Murrayfield for a couple of hours? I suppose most of them had some form of alcoholic central heating so wouldn’t feel the cold too much.

We walked through the farmer’s market and I got a bit of shoulder mutton for tomorrow’s dinner. It should be cooked like steak apparently. Hopefully I’ll be singing its praises tomorrow. After that we walked along Rose Street, had a coffee in Waterstones in Princes Street and then just missed the train home, so had to sit for half an hour in Haymarket. That’s where today’s PoD came from. The poor woman must have wondered what the bloke across the concourse was doing, and why is he laying his camera on the floor? Much quieter train home while the tartan clad hordes roared their team on to victory.

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was a bowl of pears and I’m pretty happy with it. I just wish Facebook would get it into its tiny head that I’m not selling it!!!

For tomorrow there are no plans. We’ll just see what the day brings.

White Rabbits (x3) – 1 February 2019

Traditional welcome to the first day of the month. Today it wasn’t just the rabbits that were white. Everything was.

It all started out so nicely with frost on the cars and therefore no great incentive to go out, so we just read for a while and then had a coffee. After that we simply had to drag ourselves out to buy Tesco.

After lunch I decided to try my luck in the bogs again and this time I found the dry path and still got some photos! Impressed with the ability of the ice to hold the weight of the Oly 10, if not me! Also impressed with the Oly app on the iPhone that allows me to control the camera through a private WiFi connection. That’s how you get these low down shots like today’s PoD.

It was when I was walking back that the snow came on and it didn’t go off for about four hours. Now we don’t just have frost, we have snow too. Maybe the snow has done its work because the temperature is no 0.7ºc. Positive 0.7ºc!

That’s about it for today. I’m off now to get a sketch done for 28 Drawings Later on Facebook. If I have time I’ll even add it to the blog.

As Promised!

Tomorrow it all depends on the weather. I looks like the sky will be clear, but we’ll see!

Pasta Joke – 29 January 2019

Well, the predicted snow didn’t come to much. A few millimetres of manky grey sludge doesn’t constitute a snowfall.

I offered to do the shopping and returned with plain bread, milk and a dozen eggs. All will become clear.

I mixed two of the eggs with some special 00 flour that Scamp had bought last week and then kneaded the resulting mess for the required 10 minutes, wrapped it in cling film and let it cool its heels in the fridge for an hour or two, or three or five as it turned out.

We’d intended cleaning out a cupboard today, but it was a lovely bright cold day although the temperature was above zero because some of the snow was melting. Time enough to go out and get some photos and still get the cupboard cleared.

It’s never that simple. I found a few good places to shoot, mainly landscapes, but then I discovered the fruiting bodies of some moss on a few rocks. Yes, I know it doesn’t sound that interesting, but the light was so good, I had to take a few shots, quite a few shots. By the time I got back, we agreed that it was far too late to start on the cupboard, so we’re leaving it for another day, a less photogenic one. One of the moss shots made PoD.

I assembled my pasta machine and started rolling out the pasta dough from the fridge into decreasing thicknesses. It’s not nearly as easy as they show you in Masterchef. I think my dough was too wet and sticky. It seemed to want to cling to the rollers even after they had been dusted with flour. Eventually after a few tries, a lot of swearing and tantrums, we managed to make some spaghetti.

We cooked the spaghetti in boiling water just like the stuff you get in the deli at the supermarket, but it was a bit doughy and chewy. More practise needed and next time I’ll leave the dough to rest in the kitchen, not in the fridge. It’s a learning curve. However, I know this Italian bloke who might be able to show me how to cut a few corners! Tonight’s dinner was Spaghetti with olive oil for starter, then Minestrone soup and the main course was a haggis, neeps and tatties pie.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go out for dinner. 30th January.

No drops today mum – 28 January 2019

The big event today was getting my annual retinopathy scan.

Once upon a time many years ago the doc told me I had high blood pressure and it needed to be dealt with. You know those special deals you get in the supermarket, three for the price of one? Well, he talked me into getting three for the price of one. As well as high blood pressure, I’d get high cholesterol and diabetes too. Admittedly, in one blood test the sugar level in my blood was elevated, but that was because I was addicted to cheap sweeties at the time. Next blood test was back to normal, but the medical profession is dogged. No, you’re still diabetic. I told them I wasn’t diabetic and took all their tests which proved that I was right. Well, you may not be diabetic, but you are pre-diabetic. There is no way to beat them. As soon as you reach 50 you get given the trilogy HBP, Cholesterol and Diabetes, especially if you live in Scotland. The really lucky ones get COPD as well. Thankfully I’ve managed to dodge that one.

Today the nice nurse lady was taking photos of the back of my eye to see if I could jump the queue and get full blown diabetes. Usually I’m forced to have drops in my eyes that make me virtually blind for about an hour and really supersensitive to bright sun. Did I mention that the sun was really bright today? Luckily the shots turned out well without the need for drops and the sunglasses I’d left at home. Scamp had given me a lift up to the town centre because if I get drops in my eyes and am virtually blind, driving can be a problem. Not for me, but for the poor folk I run into. So it was the bus back home in time to look over Margie’s homework because it’s Monday today and Monday is Gems day. Margie had done amazingly well. The cubes she was drawing were improving out of all recognition. I’m so glad she’s finally got the hang of Two Point Perspective.

When Scamp left to drive Margie home, I started preparing dinner which would be Minestrone soup. It’s the simplest soup in the world to make. You just chuck all the vegetables you have into a pot, add a tin of tomatoes and about a litre of water and boil the stuffing out the mix for an hour. Chuck in some crushed pasta after that and simmer for 15minutes. Done. The hard part is the chopping of the veg, because there is so much of it. It tasted quite good. Maybe a bit too salty, but we both survived it.

Drove to Salsa and enjoyed most of the beginners 6.30pm class and then our own 7.30pm class. Our class were doing Akia and a new move that’s been christened Russia because the couple demonstrating it on YouTube are Russian. Logical for once.

Today’s PoD was a grab shot, taken while walking home from Condorrat in the afternoon. It’s a bolt group on the bridge over the M80.

Tomorrow I think we’re cleaning out a cupboard called the Electricity Cupboard because it houses the distribution board and meter for the electricity. Heavy snow is forecast although it doesn’t seem to have started yet.

A non-dancing day – 27 January 2019

I think after Friday and Saturday, we were well danced out.

Today we had a light breakfast at the hotel said our goodbyes to new and old friends, excluding Diane who was not in either of these sets and anyway, hadn’t surfaced by our 9.30am scraping of the car and driving home. Beautiful light and scenery as we took the Hamilton road home. Much quicker route, especially on a quiet, cold Sunday morning.

Just relaxed when we got home with a decent cup of coffee and solved today’s Sudoku while Scamp complained that there were pieces missing in her digital jigsaw. To clear this problem from her mind she went off to buy Tesco. After she got back, I grabbed my boots and went over to St Mo’s to get some photos. My favourite became PoD and is what you see above. It’s another Cladonia Pixie Cup with a bokeh background. Just out of focus shapes really, given a fancy Japanese name.

We had partly intended to go a Sunday Social at Mango tonight, but neither of us could be bothered and a little glass of Rhubarb & Ginger Gin followed by a glass of white from Michael’s hamper signed the fate of the evening. I’d be well over Nicola’s Abstemious Law, so couldn’t drive in to Glasgow, even if I wanted to.  Scamp made dinner and it was a belated Burns Supper i.e. Haggis, Neeps (mashed turnip) and Tatties (mashed potatoes).  Lovely wholesome food.

Spoke to Jamie later and heard about all the things happening down in his neck of the woods. Other than that, watched a bit of fluff on the TV and now I’m writing this record of a relaxing, non-dancing day.

Tomorrow I get my annual diabetic retinopathy test. Hope I don’t get drops in my eyes, but I’m getting the bus anyway!

Different Dances – 23 January 2019

It was cold this morning when we woke and that cold stayed all day.

Phoned the surgery to get the result of my blood test and it was fine. It was back to normal, but the doc had given me a course of penicillin to take to completely clear up the lingering UTI. Good result. Good start to the day.

Drove into town to go dancing and found out that we were doing a host of dances today. First we rattled through the seven spins of our jive routine. Then Michael started us on the Rumba which we hadn’t done since the Hamilton class years and years ago. After that we had an introduction to the Cha-Cha, which, again we had done before, mainly on sea days on a variety of cruises, but never in so much detail. Who knew your feet had to stay on the floor at all times? Finally we did a fairly representative waltz and a quickstep. Five dances in an hour. That’s not bad going. I think that’s us prepared for the workshops on Saturday in Strathaven, provided we can lay our hands on a pair of boilersuits.

Walking back from Blackfriars I looked along Hutcheson Street and saw the old Hutcheson’s Hospital lit up by the afternoon sun. It looked like a good subject and that’s why it became PoD. A fair bit of post processing in LR and ON1 2019 which meant the digital noise was a bit overpowering, but I managed to tone it down a bit in LR. Bought a couple of half pans of watercolour paint to beef up the Joan of Art painting box.

It tried to snow a bit as we were leaving Glasgow, but didn’t come to much. We weren’t sure if we were going to salsa tonight, but finally agreed that it would be fine. That was before the sleet and the snow on the M80 going in. Luckily again, it didn’t last and we arrived in fairly good time for Scamp to help out with the last half of the 6.30 class.

Moves in the 7.30 class were Astrella Complicada, Prado and Bayamo. Enjoyed the class although it was smaller than previous weeks.

Tomorrow I’m a Joiner for Shona fitting a lock to her bedroom door and then a Roadie for Scamp who’s got a gig for the Probus club. Not her favourite audience.

Art Class – 21 January 2019

Followed by Music Class

Today I was encouraging Margie to draw a cube in two point perspective. Instead of me doing the drawing, Margie would be doing it while I watched her and gently pushed her back onto the right path when she strayed. I think it was a success because after three or four tries she was definitely getting the hang of it. After the class, she stayed for Scamp’s Music Class, but I didn’t.

I drove down to Cumbersheugh railway station and walk along the Luggie, upstream for a change. It’s a bit more interesting in that direction and not nearly as mucky. It was along that way I found today’s PoD. I think it’s a variety of Cladonea lichen, but I’m not sure what particular family it belongs to. I’m sure someone on Flickr will know, or at least have a good guess. It was cold and miserable, and I curtailed my walk and headed home.

Scamp and I have been dancing Salsa for about ten years and in that time have helped with a great number of beginners, some of whom have continued through the ranks and joined our advanced class, but I’ve never met anyone I knew outside the salsa circuit … until tonight.

The class were practising a couple of moves, old moves, but ones we’d partly forgotten when into the class came one of the teachers I used to work beside. She was in a different department, but our paths had crossed many times. Not such a strange thing to happen really. It was inevitable that, even in a place the size of Glasgow, I’d bump into someone I knew eventually. It still took me by surprise, and her too I imagine. If it had to happen, it couldn’t have been with a nicer person. If she enjoys the classes, we could even be dancing in the same group some day.

No plans for tomorrow, but I must start looking for a shirt for the Salsa Ceilidh on Friday.

A sew sew day – 20 January 2019

Woke this morning and we couldn’t decide whether to go out or not. Not won.

It was a late start and we thought we might go to Glasgow Green for a walk, but then Scamp reminded me that the people’s palace would probably be closed and the winter garden would definitely be closed, so there would be no chance of a Sunday roll ’n’ sausage and a cup of coffee. No point then. What I eventually did do was get the sewing machine out and repair the pocket in a pair of jeans. I’d repaired the twin of this pair back in December using Scamp’s method. I’d actually repaired this pair earlier last year, but made a real pigs ear of it, so last night I carefully ripped out all the stitches and today I was going to repair it using the Scamp method. It’s the most elegant and simple way to repair a pocket in a pair of jeans. I’m not going to describe it here, but maybe I’ll put it online some time (that means ‘never’). After a lot of huffing and puffing, a fair bit of talking to myself and just a smidgin of swearing, the job was done. One pair of jeans saved from the tip.

By the time I was finished, the sun was poking through the clouds as the weather fairies had predicted it would, so I grabbed my camera bag, put on my good boots and went for a walk in St Mo’s. I’d hoped to get some shots of the St Mo’s deer, but they weren’t to be seen today. Instead, PoD was the twisted hawthorn bush by the wee pond. I just love the shapes of the branches, but today I had extra help from the sun shining on the mossy trunk and the golden colours of the larches in the background. Didn’t see anything else worth photographing until I was nearly home. I turned round for some reason and saw the moon rising, the super ‘blood moon’. It did look quite big rising behind the pines. PoD was still the twisted hawthorn, but you can see the orange/peach supermoon here. I’ve just looked out the window and at 10.30pm it looks like a normal, if bright, ordinary moon. It will become a totally eclipsed moon some time around 3am, but I don’t think I’ll bother to get up for that.

Spoke to JIC tonight and found out what’s happening down south and was delighted to hear that they were suffering sub-zero temperatures while we were basking in 5ºc today. It’s now -0.1ºc here, so maybe they will be basking tonight.

Off to bed soon because I’m expecting to teach 2 point perspective to Margie tomorrow, or more correctly, get Margie to draw a 2 point perspective cube while I watch and correct her.

Out early – 17 January 2019

Not very early, just after 10am, but much earlier than usual

Scamp was off to see Isobel for coffee at 10am and I was up and out a few minutes later. Just a walk over to St Mo’s to see if there was anything worth taking the camera out of the bag for. I’d put some beeswax on to my old Lafuma boots which are about twenty years old now. Not the best boots in the world, but they’ve a Goretex lining and they’ve a decent sole, so they’re better than my Clarks boots, just as long as I remember to wax them.

I was just walking towards the woods when I saw the three deer I was hoping to photograph, running away. Oh well, hopefully there will be other things to photograph. Despite the blue skies and the ice on the ponds, there was nothing that fired my interest and I was walking back home when I saw the opportunity to take another low level shot by resting the camera on some thin ice. It’s a view I couldn’t get any other way. The Nikon was out of the question. Too heavy and wrong lens selection. It had to be the Teazer today and it performed quite well. I’d cleaned it last week by using the Dyson to suck some of the dust from the lens. I hadn’t believed this would work, but it did. Best of the shots is above after a fair bit of work in ON1 2019 and Lightroom.

Got home just before Scamp and then we went out to recce tomorrow’s venue for dinner with Margaret and Billy. Their treat, their choice of restaurant. They’d chosen John Carrigan’s in Blantyre. Now I know where Blantyre is and I know how to get there, but just in case, I punched the postcode into the satnav and blindly followed it. It was a strange route that eventually took us within 100m of my Auntie Mary’s house. The last time I was there was easily 45 years ago, but I still remembered the geography of the place. Really strange seeing the changes that had taken place. Even stranger was when the satnav said “turn left then immediately turn right”. That’s when I saw a pub that I used to pass on my way to work 50 years ago!! It looked exactly the same and I don’t think it had been painted since. Despite the strange route, the satnav did bring us exactly to the restaurant. I decided to follow my nose to find our way back home rather than take the twisty turny road we’d come. My route took almost the same time, but was much easier.

Back home, there was just enough time for a cup of tea before I was out again to the doc’s. The doc hadn’t been happy with my last blood test and wanted another one now that a month had elapsed since the previous one. Unfortunately, just before it was my turn, he was called away on an emergency. I hate waiting for the doctor or the dentist but I dare say emergencies happen and must take priority. I was dealt with fairly quickly and then was ‘lucky’ enough to get an appointment tomorrow. So, after a busy day today, I’m off to the health centre tomorrow for a blood test at 8.50am no less!! I don’t usually surface until 10am! What are these medical people thinking, getting a pensioner up at that time of the morning?

Well, if I’m up that early, I might as well take my camera with me and hopefully get some early morning shots of those deer before they have fully woken up.

Adding up the numbers – 15 January 2019

Highlight of the day was a visit to Falkirk.

First things first. Before we went our exciting trip, I fixed a dodgy wire on the plug that supplied electricity to the light in the loft and that allowed me to clear out some more junk. As a result, we had a place to store the Christmas decorations and that’s what we did. The decorations are now in their storage area and the spare room is a lot tidier.

Time to get ready to meet Andrew, the FA. Nothing to do with Football or Associations. Everything to do with numbers. The numbers were good. Some tweaks had been made and were explained, graphs were demystified and the bottom line was a very acceptable number. Andrew threw in his usual deliberate mispronunciations, today best one was Angela Meerkat, thrown into a serious discussion of global finances in such a deadpan way that you wondered “Did he really say that?”. It’s just one of his eccentricities, that and his shirts. Today’s flamboyant example was covered in large wine coloured roses. His prediction that the pound would rise tonight after the vote for/against Theresa May’s Brexit bill no matter what the result, has just been proven correct. An astute man with a wicked sense of humour. Always worth listening to.

A quick visit to Morrisons for essentials, but no strawberries and churros today. Real essentials, for a change. Then it was home. The headlights came on as we left Morrisons and it was just before 3pm. It was a dull, drizzly day, but the clouds were thinning as the light was disappearing. I decided to drop Scamp off and go for a quick drive down to Broadwood Loch to grab a shot or two. As it turned out it was nine shots, and the best one was what you see above. I liked the ball sitting on the great expanse of dirty concrete under a gloomy sky. The curved railings are due to the shot being taken with the Samyang fish eye lens.

When I got back, there was a message on the phone from Pest Control at NLC to check if we still had a problem and I told him we did have last night.  He then set out the steps the council would take with the council houses one either side of us and said that we would be advised what repairs needed done to our house.  No date was given for the examination, but I think sooner rather than later given the MSP’s email.  We’ll see.

So, Theresa has lost the vote by the biggest majority in history. Will it make any difference to the price of fish? Maybe, but we’ve got enough fish in the freezer to see us through for a week or two. Interesting times ahead.

Tomorrow we may be dancing in the afternoon if Michael is fit. He texted Scamp to say he has the flu. My heart goes out to him.