I have seen the future and it works – 15 September 2018

Electricity travels at almost the speed of light. Diesel is hard to spell and is a fossil fuel.

Today we took the ‘leccy train to Embra. We didn’t intentionally go the ‘leccy route. It just happened that the train we were waiting for was powered by the new clean, invisible power source. The Stirling train that preceded it was powered by old fashioned, smelly, hard to spell deisildesil, diesel. That’s because they don’t have electricity in Stirling yet. They still have gas lights in the street and coal fires. I do feel sorry for them.

The super fast ‘leccy train took longer than the diesel trains they are replacing. Maybe it was cheap, slow electricity they were using or maybe it was Abellio who now run Scotrail who couldn’t manage the rail system properly. Surely not! Anyway, we got to Haymarket and walked up the road for morning coffee in Nero, but not before I set the Samyang loose in Ladyfield which is a great canyon between large imposing office blocks. That’s where PoD came from. I really like the perspective this lens gives. With one in the bag, I could enjoy my morning coffee.

After that we walked up through the Grassmarket to see if anyone was actually selling grass. They weren’t, but I wasn’t surprised because I hadn’t seen anyone selling hay at Haymarket. (Sounds better with a Chic Murray delivery.) From there we headed for the Royal Mile which was mobbed. I was beginning to think that there had been an extension to the Fringe Festival, but it was just the usual bunch of escapologists, jugglers and fire eaters performing for the tourists. We’re not tourists, we LIVE in Scotland. There did seem to be quite a lot of tourists about, but I later checked and the Norwegian Jade cruise ship was docked at Leith, so that probably explained things.

We walked back down through the Old Town and from there along George Street, then back along Rose Street, eventually giving up and heading for the tea room at the National Gallery where our lunch was a shared baguette of smoked salmon with leaves and mayo and a two cups of tea, paper cups, to Scamp’s disgust. After our light lunch we just got the train home. We’d had a bit of a wander around the Capital and were ready to return to the real world.

It was a dull day weatherwise with nothing much to recommend it. I took a few more photos to test out the ability of the Samyang, but am fairly confident that at f8 or better it can handle almost anything I can throw at it. It’s a keeper, for sure.

Got the ‘leccy train back home and it was fast! Impressively so. Shave a good 10 minutes off a 45 minute journey. The folk in Stirling don’t know what they’re missing. They thought it was a great thing last year when the diesel trains replaced the steam trains they’d had for years. Not to mention that the carriages had roofs, not like the open carriages they’d had before.

Tomorrow it’s the Cumbersheugh 10k, so if we’re not out by 10am we’re locked in until midday. I don’t suppose we’ll mind as the weather is to be ‘Scottish’. Hopefully dancing later.

Coffee and the Bridge to Nowhere – 14 September 2018

Coffee first then a walk over the bridge from nowhere to nowhere.

I met Fred for a coffee and a wee natter this morning. Just the two of us. We’d both forgotten to invite Val and Colin, so we share the blame. Topics were mainly about painting, drawing and photography. No politics for a change.

When we were done, instead of going our separate ways, we went by the new bridge. It’s not really new, it’s been there for a few years now, but few people cross it, so it’s new to a lot of folk. I’d never had cause to cross it until today, because both of us were parked on the north of Central Way that bisects the town centre and the coffee shop is on the south side. Here’s the first amazing thing. You don’t need to climb any stairs to get on to the bridge, there’s a lift. Hardly anyone crosses this bridge, but there’s a lift. The second amazing thing is that the voice that tells you “Doors Closing”, “Lift Going Up”, “Level One” etc, have a Scottish accent! The third, and probably the most amazing thing is that the lift and the bridge haven’t been vandalised yet. Maybe that’s because the lift and bridge take you from a ground level carpark to an upper story carpark. Who in their right mind builds a bridge and installs a lift to take you from one carpark to another. There is no direct access to any offices or shops from this bridge, just carparks. Maybe it was designed by a forgetful driver who couldn’t remember where he’d left his car and wanted easy access between the two possible sites. Who knows. It’s just another Cumbersheugh Anomaly. What it did do was give me PoD, so it can’t be all bad. One more strange anomaly is that when you do get across there’s a covered walkway along the side of the carpark, but only for about 20m then it just stops. The walkway continues, but then it’s open to the elements. It’s as if they just got fed up with the idea and abandoned it. It’s typical of Cumbersheugh, half finished. Walked across the wasteland of the upper carpark in the rain and drove home.

We were going out tonight to a meal in Glasgow to celebrate Scamp’s sister’s birthday which is actually tomorrow. Unfortunately she’ll be on her way to Southampton tomorrow for a holiday cruise to the Canaries. The meal was in the Premier Inn on Sausage Roll Street and although there were no sausage rolls involved, it was a good night. Most enjoyable. Again, because drink would be taken, we got the bus in to Glasgow and the bus back again. Sometimes I feel we spend half our lives on the x3.

That was about it for a wet and windy Friday in September. Tomorrow we may go east to Embra where you get a better class of weather than here.

Another patient transfer – 3 September 2018

Not such an early appointment today.

Drove Shona in to Glasgow to ‘The Royal’ for her pre-op. Just a gentle drive to a 1pm appointment. However, when I was leaving the car park I managed to scrape the bottom of the rear passenger door on a really low metal boundary fence/pipe. If the car hadn’t had such good ground clearance, it would have been much worse. As it is, it’s just another dink to add to the Juke’s tally. So far it’s been:

  • July – Scrape along passenger’s side front wing when some eejit tried to scrape past me in Tesco car park. Fairly easily removed with Brasso (T Cut) and a scratch repair kit)
  • August – Dent from an over exuberant and spatially unaware Audi driver ( Dash cam caught the incident and was handed to police to deal with)
  • September – Today’s prang. May need expert assistance to get it sorted properly. My own stupid fault.

They say bad luck comes in threes. Let’s hope that’s me paid up to date.

While I was in Glasgow and before the bump, I got today’s PoD which is the clock tower of the Blind Asylum in Castle Street. Actually, the Blind Asylum is now a multi storey car park with only the clock tower to show where it stood. Each clock on the hexagonal tower is at a different time. I don’t think there is any significance to that. They just stopped at different times and as the tower has now fallen into disrepair, nobody started them again.

We went in early to salsa tonight to lend our experience to a beginners class. However, there were only about nine beginners, nine people, not nine couples, so we just went through to another room and practised our ballroom dances instead.

Our own advanced class were doing Tornado as not many of them had done it before. We had and it’s one of Scamp’s favourite moves, so we WERE helpers for that class.

Tomorrow? Scamp’s out to lunch and I think I’m phoning around for a plumber to fix our drippy tap.
Oh yes, and Shona passed her pre-op without any problem so the actual op may be happening sooner rather than later.

Dancing in the morning – 29 August 2018

Today Michael had deemed that the dance lesson would be in the morning.

That meant an earlyish rise and we were out by 10.15am. In Glasgow we started with a fairly lengthy waltz lesson covering all we’d learned so far with Michael tweaking and gently adjusting it. Things were beginning to make more sense. Next was quickstep and that wasn’t much clearer than it had been before. I’d forgotten just how fast it was. Tango was much better. Got the head movement and the staccato style of the dance better. Today we had to change partners for a while just to see how the other half danced! Finally we were on to Jive, but not the Dance of the Seven Spins, well not at first. We started with the Ladles and then went on to the Lindy Hop. Mental wee moves from the 1920s. I don’t know what they were drinking when they invented it, but I’d like to taste it! And that’s when the Seven Spins came back in to complete the sequence. It did all fit together after all.

Coffee afterwards to calm down and take stock. Yes, we certainly are improving. Michael spent some time with us, correcting mistakes, but not nearly as much as he spent with the other couples. We must be improving. On the way to coffee we passed Hutcheson’s Hospital grabbing a ray of sunlight and shining brightly. That became PoD. I say ’became’ because it is actually a Vertorama, a made up name for a vertical panorama. It’s made up of two shots, one of the top down almost to the start of the street and another of the foreground cobbles combined in Lightroom and then processed a bit to brighten up the white building.

Went for a walk when we came back, just over to St Mo’s, but there really wasn’t much of interest there.

Salsa at night was fairly interesting in the first class (7.30) but I just can’t get into that second class. Maybe my dancing brain is exhausted by the end of the day but it just seems a bit of a drag. I think we’ve agreed to dismiss it from our dancing day.

Tomorrow, Scamp has a coffee booked with Shona in the morning and I have coffee booked with Colin and Val in the afternoon. Fred is supervising the fitting out of his new bathroom.

Dance Marathon – 15 August 2018

Today we managed Jive, Waltz, Quickstep, Tango and Salsa. In that order.

In Jive we worked the knots out of spins 1 to 6, then had a go at spin 7. We had been practising at home so it wasn’t too bad. Spins 1 to 6 are fairly well set in muscle memory now, it’s just remembering the order that I find difficult. However Michael’s little short descriptions keep me right. It’s a work in progress!
Waltz was similar in that we were neatening up our routine and trying to get round an entire circuit of the floor without bumping into people, but when other dancers just stop right in front of you to have a wee discussion about what went wrong with their last steps, it makes it difficult for you to get any continuity in your own dance.
Quickstep was a new one today. We only got the first few steps of this dance. To be continued next week.
Tango was going over the first three moves with the dramatic head turn Boom! Boom! (You had to be there to understand that!)
Salsa was in the evening but it was still a learning experience. I learned that I wasn’t dancing some of my steps correctly, or to be more exact, I wasn’t leading the moves correctly. Even although we are helpers at these lower level classes, there are always things to pick up on.
That made just over three hours of dancing and I still didn’t complete my 10,000 steps today. Why, I do not know.

Between the ballroom class and salsa, I managed to get the PoD of the “Right Said Fred” men (the song, not the group) forming a human ladder to lift scaffolding pieces into place on a building that was being renovated in the Merchant City.

Also, I shelled half our peas and used them in a Prawn and Pea Risotto. I even used the chopped up pods to strengthen the stock for the risotto. Apparently it passed muster with Scamp. I agreed, but then I would, wouldn’t I?

Tomorrow the physio and it’s forecast for rain all day.

Flânerie – 9 August 2018

Flânerie: Aimless strolling or lounging; idleness.

Sounds about right. I got the bus in to Glasgow and go to see a photography exhibition Steven Berkoff: Gorbals 1966. It was a really interesting exhibition. All monochrome prints of the Gorbals and from a time when I was just starting to take an interest in photography. Also from a time when I started work. There was a picture of one bloke walking past a bar with a wild head of hair. It could almost have been me. I’d never set foot in the Gorbals, and he looked a few years older than me, but it could almost have been me.

On my way down from the bus station, I took some shots of buildings and stuff that I found interesting. That’s what’s good about going in yourself. You have time to take what you like, reject what you don’t and you don’t feel that you’re holding anyone back. No need to go shopping if you don’t want to (I didn’t want to today). Most of the shots I took were buildings, but I did stray into the Merchant City Festival area on the way back and grabbed some photos of the goings on there. PoD went to the shiny glass building on Queen Street, or to be more accurate, the reflections of clouds on that building. Every time I see it, I see something different.

With a few photos in the bag and the inspiration of those old photos I got the bus back. While I was waiting this big loud english girl came along pushing a pram and with another one in tow. Then her dim looking partner brought another one along. She sat down and the inevitable phone came out. Then she started swearing at the phone about some “stupid fu$*in’ bitch” who had sent her an offensive message on Facebook and then immediately blocked her and how she couldn’t then tell her exactly what she thought of her. The noise level got really high and then the kids started crying, but she didn’t attempt to tone it down or pacify the kids. She just kept ranting on. Poor bloke, I thought. We’ve only got to put up with that for ten minutes, he’s got the rest of his life to face that. Luckily they stayed downstairs while I got upstairs and into the front seat so I could drive!

Scamp was working in the garden when I got home. We lifted the small pot of potatoes and only got 370g which was well down on the first lot. We think the problem was that the plants were too dry. Still, they tasted fine in Scamp’s Chicken with Rats and potatoes.

Tomorrow is to be much like today, dry and partly sunny. We may go out somewhere in the afternoon.

Coffee, Sycophants and Nits – 24 July 2018

Coffee with Fred to start the day off.

Actually coffee wasn’t until midday and the day was well and truly started by then. Topics for discussion today were shed building, the dangers of dodgy wiring and laying paving slabs. All mixed in with our usual critiques of each other’s paintings.

After lunch Scamp and I started working on her garden videos which are a great way of recording what was where in the garden in July 2018. Finally got them converted to a reasonable size and a usable format then put them on the website. They will stay there for a week or so.  Here’s the link

Dinner was home grown potatoes with cabbage (and bacon for me). Then it was time to go meet an author.

Got in early to Glasgow because I wanted to have a look for a PoD. I found it up at the Art School. I went there to see if I could get some moody shots of the shell of the Mackintosh building which is being partly demolished amid great weeping and wailing from the vociferous luvvies who attended it. Glasgow council has finally made a courageous decision not to throw any more cash than is necessary at this money pit. One fire is a real shame. Two fires is a message. Let it go. Others will disagree, let them. My blog, my opinion. Anyway, I couldn’t get a decent shot past or over the safety cordon, so I chose instead to shoot some shots of the new building. I hadn’t noticed the stylised bird shape etched on to the surface of the building. I liked the way it shone in the sun and doesn’t it look a bit like a phoenix? Not exactly rising from the ashes, but it is a bit of a coincidence. It was an easy PoD. Not so easy to process. That took Lightroom 6 for levels correction of perspective, Photoshop CS3 for adjustments to the sky. (The cloud just wasn’t quite in the correct place) and finally ON1 for extra colour tweaking. Ansel Adams was right, you don’t take a photo, you make it.

Finally got to the book signing which was on the top floor of Waterstones where there is a bar! Who knew?! Got a seat then became fidgety and started writing … in pencil … on a notebook – old style. This is what I wrote:

I’m sitting at the top floor of Waterstones in Glasgow waiting for Becky Chambers to appear to talk about her new book. I already have the book and also a birthday prezzy for Murdo which I got half price! Two rows in front of me is a girl with nits. She must be because she has a classic ‘bowl cut’ about an inch clear of her ears. Her hair is shaved into the wood below that line. Its awful looking, It’s the same cut as all the boys with nits had in Larky when I was wee, back in the ’50s. It probably cost her a fortune.
All around is the twittering noise of the twittering masses of the twenty-something, excitedly discussing what they’ve just read and how much they are going to enjoy this reading tonight. I must be the oldest here. The old bloke who’s stumbled in here thinking it was a political meeting or something. I feel so out of place. I’m not tweeting, I’m not twittering, I’m not excited. I don’t even have my phone out. Most folk in the room are on their phones, no doubt tweeting their excitement while verbally twittering. I must be the only one here who’s writing with a pencil on a notebook. The Nits Girl is making me itchy.
UPDATE – We’ve now had our safety talk and know where the nearest exit is. We haven’t yet had the life vest demo but the fasten seatbelt light comes on. Then I hear the captain call “Cabin crew, doors to automatic and cross check”. We’re off. She’s here!!!

After all that, the talk was just ok. A few dull questions from the Waterstones bloke and then the usual fanboys (and fangirls) with their hands up, shouting “Me miss!”, “Me miss!” Then it was over. Time to go home. Interesting to see Ms Chambers, but not something I’d write home about. Oh! I just did!

Watched “Rip It Up” tonight. A quite forgettable Haun’ Knitted Scottish production about how we started the rock scene for the whole world. EXCEPT, when Lulu was the subject, Scamp remembered being in the crowd that was there to watch her in Easterhouse. I’d downloaded the program at the weekend and when I watched it on the computer frame by frame, look what appeared. A star is born, and it isn’t Lulu!

Dancin’ early tomorrow then maybe manage another run on the bike.

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.

Civitavecchia – 25 June 2018

P1050163- blogDespite all our plans and research, we decided not to go to Rome today.  Instead we’d go round Civitavecchia again.

This was definitely a bus into town day.  It’s a long walk to the town from where the ship was berthed.

As usual there was an enormous queue when we first looked, but we weren’t in a hurry.  Went for a swim in the inside/outside pool.  Finally decided to go about 11.30.  Queue by that time was minimal and we got on the bus which was just arriving.  My main task today was to get some watercolour paint.  Burnt Umber if you must know.  I had a bit left in the pan in the paintbox, but a tube bought in a holiday place always brings reminders of it on dark winter days. I remembered chancing upon a stationers shop that sold art materials the last time we were in the town and I was sure I could find it again. I did eventually find the shop, but they didn’t have any watercolour paint.  Acrylic and Oils, even some pastels and marker pens, but no watercolour.  Well, at least the shop was still there, almost where I remembered it to be.

Scamp was looking for a pizza restaurant where she remembered us having a pizza and using their WiFi the last time we were here.  Despite looking in all the places it remained elusive.  We had a beer each in a little street cafe instead and that was good enough for me.  The place hadn’t changed much, but we did find a street we hadn’t been on before and while we investigated it, I noticed the clouds were drifting in.  Scamp said she thought she’d hear a clap of distant thunder too.  Not good.  As we walked down the street, I came across an artist’s shop!  It stocked W&N paints too, but it was closed, probably for lunch.  It didn’t matter, those clouds were definitely getting blacker and closer and the thunder was coming closer too.   It was time to go back on the ship.  If I got a chance I’d come back and get the paint.  If not, then maybe tomorrow.

Just got the bus back to the ship and were inside when the rain came on, and it stayed on all afternoon.  Spent the rest of the day in the inside/outside pool swimming and soaking in the hot tubs.  I didn’t get back in to town for that paint, although the rain disappeared just before we left the port.

Dinner was in the sit down restaurant.  We had two young(ish) boys at our table.  About 18/19 years old.  Scamp and I reckoned they ‘were an item’.  It certainly seemed like it, but they were good company and didn’t seem at all fazed by talking to all these ‘oldies.’

A glass of beer and a G&T sent us off to bed.

Tomorrow it’s Alghero in Sardinia.

Memories of Civitavecchia were the thunderstorm and the new bus parking area next to the castle and the water feature that’s under construction there.  Impressive.  We didn’t even have time for a walk along the prom!

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.