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In the Toon, in the sun – 6 June 2018

A girl cutting hair? It’s a barbers, not a hairdresser’s!

We were all set to go to the dancin’ today at Blackfriars until Scamp got a message to say that it was cancelled. That gave us a fair bit of the afternoon to fill. I wanted my hair cut, Scamp wanted to go shopping, not for shopping. Not going for the messages. This was serious shopping. I also wanted to go shopping for a couple of books. With all that in our collective heads, it seemed a visit to Glasgow was in order, but a visit on the bus this time, not a drive. It was a really hot day, so we also decided to have lunch out and make a day of it. So that’s what we did.

First stop the barbers. My usual place, the Nile Barbers, but what was this? None of the usual faces. One guy and a girl. A girl in Nile Barbers? Never seen that before. However, she cut my hair exactly how I wanted it and only asked for £7, pensioners rates. Then one of the usual barbers returned. Ah, that’s good. It’s not a total take-over. I can rest easy knowing that the everybody’s getting older guy and the conspiracy theorist have not been sacked, and that Silent Bob will be back in his corner cutting hair without a word.

Back up on to Sausageroll street and having to go round the part demolished New City Palace to get to Waterstones where I bought the final book in the Themis Files trilogy. I just finished the second book in the series this morning and it’s some measure of the attraction of the writing that I went out this afternoon to buy the sequel. Book two in a trilogy is so often just treading water and going nowhere, but this book took the story on a completely different direction and led neatly to the final(?) book. The question mark is there because I’ve read on the net that it might not be the final book. That would perhaps be a shame. I’d like to see the story drawn neatly to a close, whatever that is. I’m keeping the book for the holidays. That will leave a decent amount of time for my brain to work on the implications of book two and prepare for the finale. If you haven’t read the series, I really recommend that you do. I won’t give away the plot or the twists. All I’m saying is read it. It’s SF, but does the ‘F’ stand for Fiction or Fact? You choose.

Met Scamp who had done the shopping she intended to do and was loaded down with bags. We went to lunch in Paesano – best pizza place in Glasgow. Unfortunately, Scamp reminded me that although we’d gone in by bus, I was driving Fred and me to the college tonight, so Nick the Chick says “No alcohol shall pass thy lips on pain of five thousand penalty points and a £50,000,000 fine (plus VAT).” So I had fizzy orange instead 🙁

Walked round to Queen Street for coffee in Nero and it was while walking round I got today’s PoD.  It’s a reflection of the College of Building and Printing reflected in my favourite glass fronted building in Queen Street.  I liked the distorted writing that should read “People Make Glasgow”.  Title was Lost in Translation.

Bus back and soon it was time to go for Fred. We’d an older sitter than last week and I think I managed to do him justice. Like he said, everyone’s interpretation is different. Roseanne (tutor) tried to rile me with a few digs about people criticising the Loomis method, but I gave as good as I got. She tried her best to blank me when doing her rounds, but eventually gave me a few words of wisdom. I took her advice and the second sketch once the sitter had had a rest was a lot better and from a totally different viewpoint.

Tomorrow is to be at least as hot as today. We have no plans as yet.

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Dancing, portraiture and faces – 23 May 2018

Dull day that started to smile in the afternoon.

Dancing the waltz is difficult, but we thought we had it fairly well under control until Michael showed us the next set of moves today. I’m sure in a couple of weeks they too will seem like child’s play. Now they are just the next hurdle to be waltzed over. Jive was just as difficult as jive usually is. Now we’re on spin number 4 of 7. It gets more complicated, even the men have a turn to do now. I’ve pretty much sorted out spins 1 and 2, 3 is a bit tricky and 4 is just a shambles. Instead of leading, I’m following, but that’s not new. It’s what I do most of the time. Still, it was enjoyable.

Walking back to the car in the sun provided today’s PoD which is a sandstone carving of a lion at the corner of the old fruit market in Glasgow. I also took photos of the ‘green men’ above the doors of the building. I remember drawing one of them in ink wash many years ago. Lovely bits of stone mason’s craft.

Back home I struggled with what was really a simple task of importing the photos into ON1. It’s simple now that I know how to do it. It most certainly wasn’t easy at the time, with hidden bits of menu that really should be more easily accessible.

Dinner was chicken breast wrapped in bacon and pan fried with boiled Jersey Royals and corn on the cob. Really tasty, Scamp. Also on the food front, I chopped up some strawberries and soaked them in vodka. They’ll stay in the fridge for a few days to flavour our Strawberry Vodka and hopefully be drunk outside in the garden under the sun.

Portrait class tonight was a bit of a disaster. A bit like Spin 4 is just now, except we’re more or less left to our own devices. I floundered a lot, trying to work out how to adapt the Loomis method to the head of the young boy we were drawing. It seemed, always, to make his head too fat. I think I’m missing something here. Must watch the videos again. On the way to pick up Fred for the class, I had to do some Genghis Pathfinder stuff to avoid the closed off road at St Mo’s School where a lorry had shed its load of wood. Not the simplest of diversions and it occurred, of course, when the factories along the road were coming out, so everywhere was chok-a-block. Managed it though.

Tomorrow we’re out early(ish). Hopefully before 11am, but I’ll have to go out even earlier to get some (very expensive £1.26 /litre) petrol.

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Shopping with the Diamond Geezers – 16 May 2018

We didn’t have much planned today, other than to get some compost and do some more work in the garden.  It would have been a shame to anything else with another beautiful day.

To that end, we went for a trip to B&Q in the morning to get some cheap grow bags. Half the ’grey hairs’ in Cumbersheugh were there today with their Diamond Cards, looking for their 10% discount, and they’d all been raiding the cheap grow bag section. As a result there was only one left. A poor little torn at the corner item with some of its peat leaking out. I took pity on it and humphed it into my trolley. Scamp wanted some ‘Busy Lizzies’ for her planter beside the back door. She picked some that looked as if they might last until the weekend at least. The same couldn’t be said for a lot of the plant in B&Q. Lots of them were dehydrated and even more looked as if they were past reviving. However, she was happy with her choice and with her care and attention, I’m sure they’ll be flowering soon. Back home we got to use our IKEA porter’s trolley to cart the bag of peat from the car to the raised bed where it will provide some much needed nutrient.

By the time we got back there was just enough time to have a bite to eat before we left for Glasgow and our ballroom / jive torture. We didn’t do too badly with the ballroom, but the jive was a bit of a ’disaaaaster darling’. I can handle the footwork in the waltz and the footwork in the jive, but trying to fit in the footwork with the arms in jive is too much for my little single core processor to handle. I really need a brain transplant, hopefully a quad core one to manage the psychomotor skills needed for this dancing caper. I was really thankful when the lessons came to an end. It was great to walk back through Glasgow under a blue sky with office workers walking about in their shirt sleeves. Glasgow under a blue sky became PoD.

Back home there was the temptation to go over to St Mo’s for another photo or two, but I only had an hour and that isn’t long enough to do it justice, so I left Scamp to her planting while I prepared my drawing materials for taking to college tonight for the portraiture class. I have to say I was a bit apprehensive about the class. How good would these artist be? I know how good Fred is, but would the others be even better? I needn’t have worried. I’m about the middle of the class. Not as good or as confident as Fred and not as basic as some. I’ve a lot to learn. It’s just a small class just now, only five of us, but hopefully it will get bigger. First week done. Homework for next week. A self portrait or a head and shoulders of a member of your family. I suppose that will be Scamp! Oh yes, as a bonus the teacher, Roseanne, plays some interesting music.

Tomorrow the car goes under the knife at Halfords to fit the dash cam. Hopefully Scamp’s taking us out for the afternoon while the operation continues.

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Baldock, DIY and Gardening – 11 May 2018

Not quite as good weather wise but still warm for us.

After a very restful sleep in the country with only the wood pigeons and blackbirds breaking the silence we woke refreshed. Once JIC had returned with Vixen from her morning walk we had breakfast and then got ready to go out.

JIC drove us to Baldock and while he went to get his hair cut, we had a walk around the town. Interesting church and churchyard which looked good in the afternoon sunshine. We all had lunch in Jack’s, the Italian cafe in Baldock. We’d been there before and had enjoyed the repartee that’s part of the fun in this cafe. We also enjoyed the food and especially the wine which Jack forgot to charge for, but we told him and got a “multo gracias”.  With a quick visit to the butchers for JIC, we were on our way home.

Back home we split up. JIC and Scamp went gardening or to be more precise, they did some gardening while I accepted the technical challenge of putting up the pot rack. After an hour or so the garden was looking better, but the kitchen was a bomb site. However, the pot rack was up and secure. Then the Dyson cleaned up the mess. Done.

Before dinner we took Vixen for the same walk up to the top of the hill.  For the first time, Scamp and I got a chance to feel the pulling power of a Staffie.  I think JIC was right when he said that it was useful for pulling you up a steep hill!  Because the weather wasn’t as kind as yesterday, the lighting wasn’t as good.

Dinner tonight was Chicken with Sorrel on a bed of risotto.  Very nice again, but we all agreed that the taste of the sorrel was lost.  Pity.

Tomorrow we are hoping for good weather to go to a Steam Fair at Astwick.

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Dancing Day – 18 April 2018

Today we were better prepared for Michael’s class and I was better prepared for Michael too.

We had one quick possibly three minute practise in the living room before we went in to Glasgow. Just enough to prove to ourselves (i.e. ME) that we had mastered the first run of steps from the Box Step through the Whisk & Wing to the Chasse then on through the difficult (for me) reverse section and the Promenade into the corner. We didn’t have enough room to do the prepare step for the Natural Turn and the turn itself, but we were sure we could wing it (no pun intended).

In Glasgow we were sure we could do it, but I stumbled a bit in the reverse section and that’s when Michael pounced and started to tell me what I had done wrong. I knew what I had done wrong and I also knew that he wasn’t going to give me another lecture that just wasted more of our precious time. I turned to meet him face to face and told him that his constant interruptions were doing more harm than good because it was destroying our flow. I think he needs face to face contact to know that you’re speaking to him, because he does have a hearing problem. I also believe he uses that as a way to ignore you. He didn’t get the chance to ignore me. He agreed, but still showed me what I was doing wrong, I accepted it, but that was the last correction he made in the hour we were there. Maybe he wasn’t best pleased with me speaking back to him, but I don’t care. Both waltz and jive were much better than last week. That doesn’t mean that I can do either with any degree of skill, but we are much better than when we started.

On the way back to the car I got today’s PoD. Well, it’s actually two photos merged in Photoshop. Not the most successful piece of photo manipulation, but not bad. Again, the photos took about five minutes and the post processing took around two hours.

Wednesday dinner is a much more leisurely affair now that we are going to the later salsa classes. On today’s menu was Prawn & Pea Risotto. It was deemed the best I’ve made by the food critics (Scamp and me). I think it was down to the vast amount of butter I used.

In class tonight, we finished with La Rosa, Zorro and Infinity. All rueda moves and all utterly confusing. I imagine these are their real names because Jamie just rhymed them off so quickly. I must look them up some time on YouTube.

Not a bad day and a warm one too with lots of sunshine on offer. Tomorrow looks like being even better, so we may go out somewhere nice.

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Friday The Thirteenth. Ooh Scary – 13 April 2018

Today we took the train in to Glasgow.

Scamp offered to drive us to the station, partly because it was easy to park and partly because we are hoping to go to Kilmarnock tomorrow to visit an old friend and I will be driving. Parked, walked smartly to the station and the train drove in just as we reached the platform. That was nice.

We walked down through George Square and that’s where I saw the seagulls (aka Shitehawks) having a food fight. Too good an opportunity to miss, so I grabbed a few shots. The Teazer excels in low grey light, low contrast light. It’s not so good now in bright contrasty conditions. That’s because it’s always in my jacket pocket with all the lint and oos (Remember oos? It’s a gran word for dust and wool fibres. It’s got a hard ’S’ at the end not like ooze more like the ’S’ in keys.). Oos. Try to find some today and say the word. Remember the word. Some words shouldn’t be left to die. But I digress. The oos gets into the lens and causes flare in the photos. Today the Teazer had no problem with the soft, flat, grey light.

As we walked down the same streets as we walk on a Wednesday I realised that we hadn’t practised our ballroom steps as we should have. Must get some practise done at the weekend. I refuse to have another disaster Wednesday. Scamp was heading for M&S and we went in through the side door. I told her I’d go to Millers in Stockwell Street and meet her in ten minutes. When I went to leave by the front door, Wow! There were hundreds of people milling around on Argyle Street. No, not a hyperbole, there must have been at least 200 people there and they were walking en mass up Stockwell Street, something was up. Then I noticed that one building and a shop were being evacuated across the street. There were people with clipboards, people with coloured paddles organising other folk into manageable groups and checking off names. I went back in and phoned Scamp to tell her, just in case M&S were going to follow suit when all the folk started to walk back to the building they’d recently exited. No fire engine, no police cars or ambulances. No sirens. Either it was a false alarm or today, Friday 13th, had been chosen as a safety drill by someone with a sense of humour. By the time Scamp appeared, none of the two hundred odd folk were to be seen. Weird.

Went along to Paesano and had a pizza lunch. We both had the customised pizzas we’d discussed the last time we were in Paesano and both agreed the customising is the way to go in future.

While Scamp was in a shop in Bucky Street I grabbed the shot of the bloke on the phone, talking to his Boss!!

Walked through to Cass Art and on the way grabbed my PoD outside the GOMA.  I think looks quite smart in mono.

Back home I found a parcel waiting for me. This was the second of my birthday parcels from JIC. I won’t say what it is, just that it’s very personalised and really quite funny. Photo coming soon when I get a chance to take time over the capture.

Tomorrow we are hoping to visit an old friend we haven’t seen for a long time. Looking forward to it.

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Summer starts here – 25 March 2018

The start of British Summer Time and Fred and I are off to get some art inspiration and perhaps even some art if the price is right.

The clocks had jumped forward by an hour this morning. Well some of them had, the new, hooked-up, on-line ones were up to date and time, but the rest had to be pushed on an hour by hand, or more likely by finger. With that done it was time to sit down and watch the first F1 GP of the year. Felt sorry for Hamilton as he was cheated out of first place by a clever bit of rule twisting by Vettel. I don’t like Hamilton, but I detest Vettel.

Got ready to go in to Glasgow with Fred. We were going to an artist’s sale in the WASP studio. Nothing to do with White or Anglo-Saxon or Protestant, thankfully. WASPS in Glasgow are Workshop & Artists Studio Provision, and that’s where we were heading this morning to an Artist’s Clear Out Sale. Lots of stuff for sale. Ceramics, Glass, Paintings and some fabric work. Most of the prices were realistic, but a few were imaginative to say the least. I bought three ceramic bowls, small, medium and large. Fred got a brooch for his granddaughter. On the way back we passed an old school and with the sun shining on it, it looked worth a few photos. That’s what you see above. PoD was the old schoolhouse in the frame on the right. I tried a sketch of it when we got home, from the photo. It may or may not see the light of day. In fact, I may wait for the light of day to finish the washes on it.

Dancing this evening was at La Rambla in Paisley. Really enjoyable, probably because it’s weeks since we’ve been out dancing in public. No tapas today because of the length of time it took on our last couple of visits for our food to arrive, and of course, today it had been much quicker. That may have been because of a new ordering procedure suggested by Shannon, or it could have been because of the fewer numbers who were ordering food. Only time will tell.  Beautiful sunset as we were driving home after a really sunny day.

Tomorrow is Monday. That means the likelihood of gym or swim. I’ll decide which tomorrow.

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Another early rise – 13 March 2018

Out for 9.30am today

Taking Scamp to her hospital appointment in Glasgow today. It was a bright morning, so, since it was a routing check-up, while she was in the hospital, I went for a walk to Glasgow Cathedral. That’s where I got today’s photo, more of which later. I knew I only had half an hour of ‘freedom’, so after getting some wide angle shots of the building, I sat down to draw it. Sketch it would be a better description. Bearing in mind the usefulness information from a book on sketching architecture I’d read last year, I dispensed with the details and got the important bit, the bit that interested me drawn first, then, still working roughly, added in the remainder of the building. With that down, I started adding details, again working from my centre of interest first. It’s amazing how time flies when you concentrate on something and it only seemed like a few minutes before my phone rang and it was time to meet up with the patient. Sketch was only half finished and that half was lacking sooo much detail. Not to worry, it was done. I’d drawn it with a child’s fountain pen that’s great to sketch with. I’ve learned that if you use the fountain pen upside down you can draw really fine lines with almost any nib. Great for construction lines. When you’re ready to add in the outlines, you simply turn the pen round to the normal writing position. So simple and so effective. Two pens in one.

Anyway, a photo or five in the bag and a sketch too. Not bad for half an hour’s work. Drove home and stopped at Costa in Robroyston for a coffee, or to be more precise, “a flat black is stronger and smoother than an Americano due to the coffee extraction process”. However, it still manages to taste like an Americano and cost a little more. In other words it’s a Flat Con. Once bitten …

Back home, Skyped with Hazy for a while and caught up on all  the news from her end.  Halfway through there was a helluva thump.  It sounded like a door being slammed and we thought it must have been somebody next door leaving in the huff.  It wasn’t until the Skype session was over and I looked out the window that I saw the pigeon on the front grass.  Poor wee thing had battered into the bedroom window.  Went to have a look, but it was obviously dead with a broken neck.  Bagged it and binned it.  I don’t like pigeons, but I felt sorry for it.  Now we’ve got a white ‘angel dusting’ on the bedroom window.

Scamp was out to lunch with a friend and I started to clean my coffee machine which was leaking rather than making. The reason was soon obvious, there were coffee grounds everywhere. After half an hour of scrubbing and re-assembly the coffee making process was back in full swing. Just wish I could find some way to prime it properly after cleaning. It takes ages to get rid of all the air bubbles in the system.

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Next task was to process the photos. It should have been easy, but as usual it was anything but. I’d deliberately taken more than one shot of the cathedral because there were a lot of people milling around, even at that early hour. The trick to avoid that is to take a lot of shots, preferably with the camera on a tripod, mine was at home. Then you lump all the shots into Photoshop in a stack, get the prog to align them, then carefully erase the people in the top and sometimes the second top layers to reveal the building or scenery in the layers below. Sounds more complicated than it is. Then I noticed that the top of the steeple was missing from the photo, so another bit of cut ’n’ paste repaired that. Because I’d been using an ultra wide angle lens, everything was curved, so a bit more doodling on Photoshop and finally Lightroom sorted that out. It took less than five minutes to get the photos and about two hours to make the composite final image. It started out at 12MB and the composite was a whopping 720MB. Still, I got the image I wanted. All photographs are fake, remember that.
</boring stuff>

Dinner tonight was paella where I got to use the Pimenton Dulce from Fuerteventura. Happy!

Tomorrow the dance class in the afternoon is cancelled as the other two couples are on holiday this week, so we have the day to ourselves. Might have a practise session. Oh yes, and Scamp got the all-clear as we expected. Happy!!

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The Walking Tour – 07 March 2018

7 MarToday we were walking down to the harbour with a stop on the way for a drink perhaps.

After breakfast, that’s what we did.  We plastered ourselves in suncream as per usual and walked around the bay to the new harbour.  It was only after we got back that I checked and found that it’s been ‘new’ since at least 2014, the last time we came to Caleta.  We had coffee at the new El Faro bar.  Lovely views across the bay, but the 1/2 litre of sangria we had yesterday for £5.50 would have cost us £8.50.  We had coffee instead.  Walked out to the San George hotel and just a little bit further on to the cliffs.  Decided that was far enough and headed back, past the Dorido Suites hotel which is not being demolished, but is being ‘renovated’.  I think that means the balconies are being rebuilt.  Interesting to see the quality of the blockwork!!  Glad we weren’t booked there an don’t think we’ll be going there any time soon.

Back at the Elba we were in time for lunch which had to be reduced in quantity as we were going to the Italian waitress service meal tonight.  After lunch Scamp decided to do some more sunbathing while I went for a walk to try to get some sketching done.  I’d already completed my 10,000 steps for the day and this was just a little extra exercise.  I walked along the pedestrian path to the Museo de la Sal, the museum of salt!  The result is shown below:

IMG_4706_4706By the time I’d walked back, my 10,000 steps had doubled to over 20,000, and it was time to get ready for our Italian meal.  We both started with a selection from the buffet, then Scamp’s main was Vegetable Lasagne which she said was “warm on a hot plate”.  Mine was Spaghetti Puttanesca. which was lovely, although the sauce was quite thick.  Pudding for me was a “Disgustingly lovely” ice cream on a mascarpone cream.   Scamp just had to have Tiramisu. A great meal with coffee and a bottle of wine added in for free.

Evening entertainment, apart from Pepe, was a dire soul singer who thought he was every real soul singer in creation, but the star attraction was ‘Mr Sleazy’ from last night reliving his even sleazier youth with some seriously bad dance moves.  Oh dear, I hope I never look like that.

PoD was the upside down beer bottle, entitled ‘Reeb’.  Work it out yourself.

Tomorrow?  I might find the church behind the museum, but I’ll be going by bike, hopefully.  Scamp says she’s hoping to be grabbing some more rays!

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Going to town – 5 March 2018

P1040296Today we were going in to town, Caleta de Fuste.  Not driving or bussing, just walking.

Lighter breakfast than of late.  Omelette chef is amazing.  Tossing an omelette like it was a pancake.  Never seen that done before, but will try it when we get home.  It could get a bit messy, I suspect.

After breakfast we started the trek out along the new walkway with it’s wide pavement and cycle track that zig zags its way across the sand dunes to Caleta.  It didn’t take as long as I remember it, but there was new scenery along the way.  New apartment blocks had sprung up in nice bright colours.  New restaurants had replaced old supermarkets and finally they have torn down the fish restaurant and built a new one.  I hope they’ve also torn down the attitude that if your face doesn’t fit, you don’t get what you ordered, or at least that’s the way it seemed to us when we went there a few years ago.  We walked through the town.  Scamp got some money and we had a drink in The Trafalgar.  It’s an institution in Caleta.  It used to be run by an argumentative Londoner who was always getting in a fight with his neighbours.  He was full of stories and having a drink in there was an entertainment.  Today was much calmer.  We haven’t seen him for years.  Don’t know if he went back to England like he kept threatening to do or if one of those arguments boiled over into something more sinister.  Who knows.  Scamp wanted to go there because she remembered you got a mug of coffee.  I just wanted a pint of lager and I knew you got British beer on tap, so both of us were happy.

We walked back for lunch and stopped to photograph the camels.  There have always been two camels on Caleta beach.  I think I’ve only once seen people paying for a ride on them.  Don’t know how he makes any money.  Today he seemed to spend most of his time picking up camel crap.  What a wonderful job.

After lunch Scamp was going sun bathing and I was going for a walk along the sea shore away from the town.  It’s a bit rough, with lots of sand dune areas and boulders by the sea, but if you can find a place away from the wind, it’s great to just sit there and listen to the waves crashing.  Got a few photos, but nothing startling.  On the way back I got a painting done, more of a sketch really of the little restaurant on the island off the beach.  You get to it by crossing a bridge.  We may go there for sangria tomorrow.

Back at the hotel we met up again and I went for a swim.  Scamp had already been to the pool.  Unfortunately the water was getting cold by the time I was ready for my dip, colder than yesterday I think.  That said, I did a few crossings of the pool before I came out.

Dinner was Canarian tonight, although no little yellow singing birds were in evidence.  What was there was roast leg of goat and it was really, and I mean REALLY lovely.  Like a cross between beef and pork.  Not the tough, stringy meat you’d imagine goat to be.  If I see it on a menu again I’ll definitely try it.

Entertainment tonight was Bombay Dreams.  Not the curry shop unfortunately, but a Bollywood dance quartet.  Three girls and one very camp guy gyrating and hip wiggling across the stage.  About a quarter of an hour into it, I started looking for paint that had started drying.  It was that interesting.  Unluckily for me it went on for another half an hour with wailing vocals and drum ‘n’ bass rhythm and absolutely no content.  Dire, and not a Rogan Josh in sight.

PoD?  Oh, it must be the camels.  Or as the bloke who wanders around behind them, picking up their dung, describes them.  Shits of the Desert!

Tomorrow?  Perhaps, like I said, a jug of sangria between us on the island.