Two left feet – 30 October 2019

You know those days when everything goes right? I don’t.

Today started well. Scamp was out meeting a friend this morning for coffee. That gave me time to sit and draw today’s prompt which was A Houseplant. I chose one of Scamp’s Geranium cuttings. Although both back and front gardens are full of plants, this is one of the few that are allowed into the house. I believe she has it house-trained and it is careful not to leak on the window ledge it usually sits on, basking in the warm autumn sun. I quite liked the result. The pot isn’t quite right, but the plant was well drawn, I think. The good stuff ended there.

We drove in to Glasgow and in the dance class we thought we danced quite well in the free dance practise at the start of the lesson. After that I had brain-fade. Led with my left when it should have been my right. Stepped inside the lady when I should have stepped outside. Got every element of the new routine wrong. I just couldn’t put a foot right, or was that left? Whichever it was, it wasn’t the correct one. Came away really disheartened.

A coffee and a photo of 110 Queen Street helped lighten my mood, but I wasn’t a happy bunny. The only good thing I can say about today is that next week will be better. Surely it can’t be any worse.

There’s not a lot else I can say other than that I made mini lamb chops and a lamb burger for dinner and it was delicious. Mini lamb chops are made from the individual pieces of a rack of lamb, cut from the rack and pan fried. I don’t know if I’ve invented it or if it’s already a thing, but this is the second time I’ve made them and they work really well.

Got a Tesco sim and stuck it into the now unlocked iPhone SE. Now I have a serviceable phone running on O2 as well as the Samsung on EE. The camera on the Samsung is pretty poor. Not a patch on the iPhone camera, but at least I don’t have to worry about running out of space on the phone. Swings and roundabout, that’s what it’s all about.

Coffee with Val tomorrow morning and then a run to Coatbridge in the afternoon. That’s the way the day should run.

Just another dancing fool – 9 October 2019

Driving through the driving rain to dance our hearts out to Michael’s tune.

Just another Wednesday. Weather was almost as bad as yesterday with more high winds blowing more rain clouds our way. Managed to avoid most of the rain on our walk down to Blackfriars. Stood and watched some brave souls abseiling down the City Chambers to give the statues a but of a wash and brush up. Thought it was Extinction Rebellion protesters at first, then realised they were wearing hi-vis jackets with a company logo on them, so they were legit. Below them they seemed to be giving away “Boris Bikes”, but on closer inspection it was just a photo opportunity to show off the new “Electric Boris Bikes”. I can’t imagine what an Electric Boris would be like. Probably he’d short circuit the National Grid.

Even further down the road there were a film crew setting up. We used to get excited when we saw film crews in Glasgow, but now it’s just par for the course and we’ve learned to ignore them. Glasgow is built on an orthogonal grid with roads running North / South and East / West, so with it’s old turn of the last century buildings it makes a decent look alike for some of the older parts of American cities. It must be a lot cheaper to seal off a portion of Glasgow that, say, Chicago. Couldn’t see what or who was being filmed today.

Dancing was quite good, but although the room is fine for Jive, it’s really too small for ballroom. We leaders keep getting told to take bigger steps in Waltz and Quickstep, but when we do, there’s so much clutter in the room we can’t fit in all the steps. Pillars in the way don’t help either. However, today we reprised the entire Over the Rainbow set and we got to dance with some of the advanced dancers which is always good, because they are so exact and so quick. We eventually gave up trying to dance round the room because people would stop and discuss who was right and who was wrong and, coupled with the two speaker stacks, the piano and the pillars there were too many obstacles in the way. Instead, we practised the short routines we’d been learning.

Coffee afterwards for our usual debrief, then back up to the car park. We weren’t so lucky on the way back and got fairly well soaked. In addition I wanted some shots to use for today’s sketch. My Inktober list for today wanted “A bird’s eye view or a worm’s eye view”. In view of the strong winds, I decided that a bird’s eye view was out of the question. Also because of the heavy rain showers, I had to give up on an in-situ sketch, so instead I took some shots to use as reference material for today’s sketch.  It’s the Cranberry’s [sic] Restaurant in Glasgow.  Interesting building with a sort of tower breaking out of the corner of it.

Back home I decided there was enough light to warrant a walk to St Mo’s where I got today’s PoD which is a toadstool I saw emerging on Saturday. It’s grown a fair bit since then. I thought I’d get home dry, but that wasn’t going to happen. I got soaked, but at least it was on the way back.

Tomorrow I go to see the nurse about my blood results and Isobel is coming to lunch.

A museum, a castle and a statue – 27 September 2019

A day out and about in the rain.

Despite the rain this morning, Clive and I drove over to Coatbridge to go to Summerlee. Summerlee has changed its name at least three times since it opened, but basically it’s an industrial museum. Lots of interesting exhibits of machinery and historical items, all with an industrial connection to Lanarkshire. Some were made here and some were used here. It brought back a lot of memories to me and also to Clive, I’m sure. Back out into the rain after an hour or so and drove home.

Lunch, then out again. This time we were going up the Tak Ma Doon road, over the top and on to Stirling, taking in the scenery as we went. Drove up to Stirling Castle and had a short walk down into the upper part of the town. We were just too late to have a decent look inside the castle grounds, and to walk through the grounds of the Church of the Holy Rude.

Back in the Juke and on to David Stirling’s monument between Dunblane and Doune. I must say, this is my favourite panorama anywhere in the local area. The light on the hills, the animation of the statue with his coat apparently blowing in the wind and reason for it being there make it worth visiting. David Stirling was the man who started the SAS. Drove back home along the M9 and M80 with far less than the expected miles of jams to contend with which was a great bonus.

Tonight we went out to dinner at Milano. We all had pizza. Scamp had a Vegetarian Pizza while Clive and I had Quattro Stagioni Calzone. I meant to photograph the calzones. It’s the first time I’ve seen a pizza dough sliced into four pockets and each pocket filled with a different filling. Really excellent. Scamp discovered that we were sitting next to three girls she used to know and one of them knew a woman I worked with in Cumby High! What are the chances of that?

Drinks all round when we got home to celebrate an excellent week. Really enjoyed Clive’s company and sense of humour. He brightened up our week, hope we did the same for his.

On a sad note, we discovered today that Dorothy died last night. The funeral is on the 8th of October.

PoD for today is a pano made up from six portrait frames. Taken from Stirling Castle.

Tomorrow we are aiming to get up at 6am for an early breakfast before we drive Clive to the airport.

A bit of culture with a taste of religion – 25 September 2019

Culture in Glasgow? You’re having me on, aren’t you?

Drove in to Glasgow and managed to get parked within easy walking distance of Glasgow Cathedral, so we tested it out and it was indeed easy walking. To quote Chic Murray, it was just ‘“putting one foot in front of the other.” Surprisingly, this was probably the first time I’d been in the cathedral. I’ve walked past it a few times, sketched it once, but never gone past its enormous doors.

We walked through into the Nave which was very impressive, especially the rafters made from very heavy looking timbers. However the roof in the choir was even more artistic with painted bossed on the ridge. Clive wandered down Blackadder’s Aisle, just to say he’d been there. Blackadder himself didn’t seem to be in evidence, but I went down too just to check.

After our brush with religion, we crossed the road to Provan’s Lordship which is the oldest house in Scotland. Tiny little doorways with very low lintels. Tight little spiral staircases. Very interesting building with a beautiful, if slightly overgrown herbalist’s garden at the back. We saw all sorts of herbs growing there, but I’m not sure I’d trust some of these herbs to cure the things they were reputed to fix. Favourite part was the big water feature whose bubbles and splashes filled the garden with water music. Very calming.

Onward and under Scamp’s unerring directions in central Glasgow, we found our way to Kelvingrove Art Galleries and found a space just where we wanted. Scamp and Clive sat and listened to the choir for a while the I went for a walk to see the Spitfire. Clive joined me and we went upstairs to view it along the wing. Such a beautiful bird. Coffee after that and a scone. Then it was time for home.

My turn to cook and it was stewed steak which I was making using Scamp’s recipe. It turned out fine, but could have been a bit better if I’d started it earlier and slow cooked it for longer. However there were no complaints at the table. Scamp had the remaining sea bass instead of stew.

Struggled to find out why my Inktober site wasn’t listed in Flickr. I eventually found it listed as an inactive group. I can find no way to make it active and no help from the Help Page. Wrote to Flickr Support, but have little chance of any real support.

PoD was a view inside the Nave of the cathedral.

Tomorrow hoping to head for Perth.

Another day on the bike

That makes it sound as if I was cycling all day. It wasn’t really like that. Not quite the Tour de France.

Neither Scamp nor I could decide what to do with today. We didn’t really want to go in to Glasgow again, besides, there were four Orange Lodge marches planned. Four! Thats about five too many for me, and before you say, No, I don’t want any of the Republican marches either. So where else could we go? Stirling was discussed and rejected. I offered to drive us to Mugdock park, but that didn’t fit either today. Finally we went to the Fort for a cup of coffee and a wander around the shops. I got some bits and pieces to hopefully make a prototype of the lens hood.

After a Costa lunch we came home and I got changed, dropped the back seats on the Juke and took the bike down to Auchinstarry. The actual carpark at Auchinstarry Quarry was completely full. Not one space, so I turned and drove up the the Hebo House and found one of the last four available spaces. Took the bike out and cycled off down the railway path as far as Twechar and that’s where I got today’s PoD. It’s an old garage that looks good in glancing low sun. I just missed that sun by about an hour today. I’ll check with an app tonight and try to get there at a better time tomorrow. There are apps for absolutely everything these days. Mine is called Photo Pills.

Back along the canal into the headwind, but I didn’t mind, because the sun was shining, the birds were singing and it was warm. It’s still quite warm at 11.42pm and I’m sitting here in a short sleeved cycling shirt and jeans, feeling quite comfortable. It can’t last. It won’t last. We’re forecast to have some rain tomorrow evening

Back home again I started the next phase of Make The Back Room Look Liveable. After an hour of moving stuff around it looks like a room again. Just a few things to shift tomorrow and we’re ready for Clive.

No plans for tomorrow. No dancing booked and like I said it’s not looking as clever as it was today. However, we had a good day today, so shouldn’t grumble.

Venice – Breakfast on the balcony – 12 August 2019

Today was Venice and it was Scamp’s idea that brought breakfast to the balcony.

You get so used to the ridiculously expensive ‘opportunities’ from P&O, but not solely from them, others do it too. A couple of times we’ve had cards through the cabin door, or waiting on the bed telling us that we can have champagne breakfast delivered to our cabin for only £25 pp. They just become part of the background ‘noise’, simply ignored. Then you realise that you’re on your holidays and simple luxuries are there to be had at no extra cost. So it was that, on Scamp suggestion, we order a ‘normal’ breakfast to be delivered to our cabin for the sail in to Venice. Surely one of the great arrivals of the trip. We sat in comfort watching Venice slide past while we enjoyed our orange juice, cereal and pastry!

We’ve joined the crowd on deck on a couple of occasions watching the sail in and listening to the commentary, but it’s no fun trying to see over the heads of the three layers of people who were probably up at 5am staking their claim to an area of the ships rail. So much better to be sitting on your own balcony and watching without having to crowd with the great unwashed! The sail in took about an hour and a half and was orchestrated by two tugs at the front and one tug at the back of the ship just to make sure that no boats got crushed this time. It seems that this might be one of the last times a cruise ship will be allowed to sail past St Mark’s Square. Plans are afoot for a cruise terminal outside the city.

After our al fresco breakfast and the chance to watch this city slide past our balcony we joined the queue on the dockside for the water bus to take us to St Mark’s Square and Venice proper. The ten minute journey took us to just outside the square and dropped us in the University area. A short walk and there we were with the rest of the tourists. After a few wrong turns we found the canal side cafe that has become a traditional morning coffee and cannoli stopping point for us. Since we had only had a rudimentary breakfast we added a small pizza each to the menu and I had a Salt Beer which was very good. More like ‘heavy’ than lager.

Wandered around some more and Scamp got a bead for her Pandora bracelet. I saw some cute little goldfish bowls complete with goldfish, made entirely from glass. They were in varying prices, ranging from €30 to €10 the further you went from St Mark’s. Didn’t get one though. Saw a selection of bow ties too on the Rialto, but decided I could probably make one for a fraction of the price. Scamp liked a set of giraffes and I would have chosen two glass cats in a posh shop in the square, but there were no prices displayed! I think my favourite was a silk shirt for a ‘Special Price’ of €340 with a matching tie €50. I got neither, of course.

Got the water taxi back to the ship just as it was beginning to rain, another tradition in Venice. Due to sail at 5.30, but waited for over an hour to get clearance from the port authority and for the tugs to arrive so we could leave Venice for Split. Because we were so late leaving, the sail out wasn’t as dramatic as the sail in, but we sat there and watched it all flow past anyway.

PoD is a shot of a man collecting shellfish from the sandbanks at the start of the sail in. Just imagine as you go to work tomorrow that this bloke probably does this every day. Beautiful scenery, but backbreaking work.

Tomorrow it’s Split in Croatia. The last port on the cruise before Valletta in Malta.

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.

A day in the toon in the sunshine – 12 July 2019

Today we’d decided to travel in to Glasgow on the bus and go to the Transport Museum on Riverside.

Got off the subway at Partick and walked along past the reconstruction that was going on by the Clyde until we came to the strange building that, from the air looks as if it’s been squeezed out of a toothpaste tube.  It looked very impressive with its glass frontage.  In the middle of July, it’s the middle of the Glasgow Beach.  Loads of weans building sand castles with pails and spaded on an area at the front of the building done up to look like a beach with tons of sand.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time, but we were itching to get in to see this wonderful new 21st century museum.

What a let down.  Yes, there were steam engines and tram cars, loads of tram cars and trolley buses too, but most of them were sealed off from the public by large perspex sheets.  This was a “Look, but don’t touch museum”.  One of the biggest selling points of the place, the revoloutionary Wall of Cars was the worst let-down.  Yes, there were a load of cars on shelves along a wall, like full size Dinky or Matchbox toys, but the problem was you couldn’t see into them.  They were too high up or too far away to see any of the detail.  The same was true for the Wall of Motorbikes.  Yes, they were there, but you could only see about two of the five layers of them. The rest were way up too high and you’d get a crick in your neck trying to see the details.  The bikes, especially seemed to be in a bit of a state.  Torn saddles and seats, suspensions not bolted to the frames.  It looked as if they’d just been placed there without any thought of restoration.  Worst of all were the cycles.  There they were, either sitting on or hanging upside down from a great circular wheel, hanging from the ceiling.  No description of what they were or why they were there.  Strangest exhibit was a Sinclair Cambridge Programmable Calculator.  I had one of those, away back in the 1980s.  At the time it was truly state of the art.  I bought it fully built and tested, but it was possible to buy it as a PCB with the components and build it yourself.  A friend of mine bought a Sinclair radio kit which was supposed to fit into a matchbox.  He got it built, but by the time he was finished it barely fitted into a suitcase.  But back to the Calculator.  Interesting though it was, what had it to do with Transport?

The building itself is striking, but there is a design theory that “Form Follow Function”.  In the case of this museum it’s more like “Function Follows Form”.  You get the feeling that they designed and built the building, then just stuffed everything they had into it.  Not impressed and wouldn’t go back.  Typical Council waste of money.

What I did get there was today’s PoD.  Probably the best, certainly the most detailed Oor Wullie I’ve seen so far.  You can get a better view on Flickr because by some miracle it managed to get into the site.  I personally think Flickr is now dead.  Today after half an hour of attempting to install the three images I’d uploaded, I got  the message that they had failed to upload.  Only to find out later that they had actually loaded successfully.  Since May, the site has been almost unusable.  Literally hundreds of complaints on the “official” help page and nothing being done about it.  I refuse to throw more money at such a failed excuse of a photo site.

Anyway, back home we got an hour in the sun in the back garden before I phoned Golden Bowl and uplifted a collection of Chicken Chop Suey & Fried Rice for Scamp and Special Chow Mein for me.  A good way to end a day in  the sun.

Tomorrow, strangely enough, we may go back to Partick again to go to a Farmers Market.

Crossing Paths – 11 July 2019

Today I was going for coffee with Fred and Val at 12.30. Colin was otherwise engaged.  Scamp was going for coffee with Annette at 1.30.  Inevitably our paths would cross.

Since we were both going to the same place at about the same time I offered Scamp a lift because her Wee Red Car needed two new back tyres.  That was also on the list of Things To Do today.  While she went off to window shop, I went to meet the boys.  As usual we had a wide ranging, free and frank discussion of topical matters.  That and a book exchange.  Found out from Val that John Walsh had died and his funeral had been yesterday.  Such a funny guy, John.  He gave me a lot of pointers when I was trying to be an author, away back in the late ’80s.  I never did sell anything, but it was good fun trying.

We were just getting ready to leave when Scamp and Annette arrived, so that put, as they say, ‘The tin lid on things’.  We left them to their toasted teacakes.  Val and Fred headed for home via Tesco and I went straight home to get Scamp’s car and drive down to the Village where I was lucky enough to arrive at a quiet time and got to be next in  the queue.  Took my camera away with me and went for a walk around Cumbernauld Old Church.  I really like this building and it has a very interesting history.  Just search for Cumbernauld Old Church on Google and be amazed at the history right on our doorstep.  I took some photos, but even the 14mm lens wasn’t wide enough to get it all in, so I had to resort to the tried and tested method of taking a bundle of shots and reassembling them in Lightroom.  Wandered back and found the mechanic just tightening up the wheel nuts on the Wee Red Car.  Parted with the £80 for the two tyres and was on my way after about 40 minutes from arriving.  Drove home and was walking down to  the house when Scamp appeared from round the corner.  “Inevitably our paths would cross”!

Switched cars and took the Red Juke out for a run up to Fannyside to look for dragonflies.  Didn’t find any, but it’s early days yet.  I just thought that the warm, clammy weather would have brought out the insects a bit earlier than normal, but that wasn’t the case.  Took a few landscape shots, but really wanted to do a time lapse of the passing clouds with the new camera.  I simply couldn’t find the setting.  I knew it was in the five menus and the eleven sub-menus.  Eventually drove to Tesco to buy today’s dinner which was Breaded Salmon on a Bed of Mash & Peas.  There was a fair bit of garlic in it too.  I hadn’t realised quite how much until Scamp opened the kitchen door a few minutes ago and the anti-vampire scent wafted through.  I’ll be amazed if you can’t actually smell the garlic from this blog post.  The dinner was really good by the way, although one of the ingredients looked a bit strange “A slice of crusty bread with the crust removed”.  Now, excuse my ignorance, but isn’t that just a slice of bread?

After dinner I fed the six frames of Cumbernauld Old Church into Lightroom and it made an almost perfect panoramic shot of the building and that became PoD.  I also found the setting for the time lapse.  Just in case you ever need it, it’s in menu 1, the last item on the list.

Tomorrow we may go visit the Riverside Museum in Glasgow.  Travelling on the bus.

 

Aberystwyth without the rain – 12 June 2019

It was a very different place.

JIC, Sim and Sophie were going for a long walk today. We didn’t fancy that. There had been a change of plan and we were making tomorrow’s dinner as well as Friday’s, so we needed some extra supplies. I suggested that we take Madeleine and Jaime in to Aberystwyth with us and go for a walk in what we hoped would be the dry, if not the actual sun, and that’s what we did.

The trio left and entrusted us with the main door key. Soon after that we too left. Aberystwyth was dry when we arrived after meeting a milk tanker on a narrow road with very few passing places. Luckily we met at one of those places or it would have been Juke Soup! These narrow country lanes are not meant for wide cars like the Juke and even less for hulking great milk lorries, but we both came through unscathed. We parked at the exact same place as yesterday and walked along towards the castle.

After investigating the ruins, we wandered past the University and in to town proper. Coffee in Nero, just like yesterday and then walked back along the prom past the statue of the Mary Poppins lady and back to the car. Next stop Morrisons to get the extra food needed for tomorrow’s dinner, then home.

After unloading the car I was deciding whether or not to go for a walk when I got in conversation with the man who owned the house and most of the land on that side of the road and he told me how the house was renovated. I’d thought the beams that held up the ceilings (and provided Jaime and me with so many lumps on our head when we forgot to Duck not Grouse) were Greenheart, but he said they were more likely to be Oak and had come from the masts of ships which had been decommissioned in the 1700s. He’d heard about Cumbersheugh, but had never been there. I told him that’s what I’d have recommended. Interesting talking to someone who has a totally different lifestyle to mine.

Not long after that, the rain started and we went our different ways. Then the trio returned with Vixen ‘covered in ticks’. Poor dog, I know how he feels.

Then it was time for the Trinny Trio to start making dinner which was Stew Chicken and Macaroni Pie. Immediately I smelled it, I remembered eating it in Trinidad. It tasted just as good as it smelled.

Apparently tomorrow morning is to be wet, but the afternoon will be better. We may be going for a walk somewhere not strenuous and without ticks. Good luck with that.