An Inspector Calls – 17 August 2018

Any day that starts with a phone call from the polis is going to be a downer.

Luckily this call was just to check that I still had the dash cam footage of the wee bump last Sunday and to check that he could pick it up next week.

After that, and after almost finishing my latest Stuart MacBride book. Just a few pages left now to take time over. Good Scottish humour. Anyway, after that Scamp suggested we drive out to Morrison’s in Falkirk to get ’the messages’ and also maybe have lunch there. It was a sound suggestion and as she was driving, how could I resist.

After loading up the car and heading home we stopped at Halfords to get a dash cam for her car too. After much cajoling she had agreed to have one. We pointed the sales assistant at the one we wanted, a 312GW and off he went to find it. We also wanted it fitted, so we booked a time slot for Monday at 1pm. Then the assistant dived away and came back with about six boxes and started scanning them through. I told him I didn’t think we’d need the nice wee fitted case and asked what all the other things were. He told us they were part of the deal.

  • A case for the camera. (Why? To take it on its holidays perhaps?)
  • Another case with another SD card????
  • A pola filter to remove glare from the dashboard. Something we didn’t need.
  • The camera itself
  • An SD card. Ok, we needed that.

Scamp stopped him in his tracks with HOW MUCH DOES THAT COME TO? The answer was these were part of ‘The Deal’ for £99. We said no thanks, just the camera, the SD card and the fitting kit. How much do they get paid in Halfords for ‘suggesting’ these deals? Anyway we got the necessary stuff and were just leaving when he said “So that’ll be 12 o’clock on Monday”. Hadn’t he said 1 o’clock? Yes, I confirmed, it was 1pm he’d said. Now it was a one hour time slot starting at 12 o’clock. We’ll stick to that. I had great confidence in the fitting the last time when mine was installed. I hope it’s the same bloke who fits Scamp’s, rather than one who can’t tell the time, but knows how to hike the price of a dash cam. Back home and I did a quick fix to get the camera checked, installed and working until it gets plumbed in on Monday some time around midday. It was Monday, wasn’t it?

Grabbed about an hour in St Mo’s to get some beastie pictures as Scamp calls them. PoD was a hover fly holding on to a yellow flower in a stiffening breeze.

Out to Crawford and Nancy’s for dinner tonight with June and Ian. Great time and great food. Just a late night.

Tomorrow? Lunch is booked at the Cotton House. Chinese food for a change.

Early one morning – 13 August 2018

Very early this morning, about 6.30am to be more precise.

Couldn’t sleep, so I did what I haven’t done for a long time, I got up, got dressed and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Sometimes it’s really lovely and other worldly in the early morning light. Today was one of those days. I thought it was dew that was lying on the plants, flowers and spider webs, oh yes, the spider webs. However it was just raindrops. Light fine smirr of raindrops everywhere. Took loads of photos, mainly macros and it was one of them. A tiny wee wet snail that took PoD. I also some shots of Mr Grey, still looking half asleep, standing like a statue on a rock in the pond. Later I got a few of him stalking and catching his breakfast. The speed he can flash that beak out to trap an unwary fish is quite surprising. Came home feeling a lot better, but now tired, and had breakfast with everyone else.

After breakfast I went up to the police station to make the statement about the accident. Lady there took all the details, watched the dash cam video and smiled at the bit where I swore. Then she told me I’d be contacted in a day or two by a police officer who would go over the information with me.

By the time I was coming home, it was raining and the visitors were preparing to go and visit David Marshall Lodge or DML as we’ve always called it. If the weather didn’t suit there, they had plan B which was to go in to Glasgow and visit the GOMA. As it turned out, plan B wasn’t needed because they’d had a fairly dry day and they went from DML to the Kelpies in Grangemouth. While they were out in the countryside, Scamp and I drove to Torwood Garden Centre to buy some leek plants to replace the Calabrese I’d dug up yesterday after cutting the last heads from them. We also got a bay tree to replace the one that suffered in the drought a month or so ago. Scamp liked the look of some fluffy looking daisies, so we got them too. Then we had lunch and drove home.

When the wanderers returned we went to Milano for dinner. Pizza Napolitana for me because I like it and because I couldn’t get a Neapolitan pizza in Napoli (Naples). We had a great night which culminated in a shocked look on Jamie’s face when a birthday cake was brought out and the staff all sang Happy Birthday … but it wasn’t for him! It was for a man at the next table. Jamie’s look of relief was a sight!!

Nobody was drinking much when we came home. Long day for the visitors tomorrow ‘cos they’re going home.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the party to begin – 10 August 2018

JIC, Sim and Steffi were coming today. It’s a long drive for them and a long wait for us.

After a morning spend tidying up, Dysoning, dusting and generally making the place spick and span, we headed out in the rain to Kirkintilloch for lunch at Calders garden centre. Lunch was fine, better than a lot of places we’ve been to recently and afterwards we had a walk round the plants while the rain thumped down on the roof of the covered area. We also ventured out in the rain to rove further into the plant area. I was impressed with the way the place was set out, with very few single species arrays beside other single species arrays. Instead, most of the displays were of mixed plants, different colours, different textures and varying heights. Now that’s a refreshingly different way to show off plants. Not so good if you’re searching for a specific plant, but if you want to see what plants complement others, it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, we weren’t looking for plants today. I was looking for a new coarse rose for the watering can, specifically one that could be used to water in the nematodes I’d received in the post this morning. We found lots of ornaments, cards, books, scarves, mottos and pictures, none of which I would have in the house and none of which would be at all good for watering in the nematodes. That’s the big problem with garden centres. The outdoor part may have plenty of plants, but the indoor section is jammed full of tat!

Came home in sunshine, roseless. Then Scamp offered an old watering can with a fairly coarse plastic rose. I decided it might just do and if it didn’t, I could drill out a few of the holes with the power drill. I was right for once. It was almost coarse enough, but after drilling out most of the holes with a power drill, it was fine for the job. Or should that be coarse for the job? With the nematodes now burrowing deep into the soil to find some tasty vine weevil grubs, my work was done for the day.

After a cup of tea I grabbed my camera and went in search of some photos in St Mo’s. Found Mr Grey close enough to photograph, some ‘beasties’ and also some Rudbeckia flowering in the wild garden that volunteers planted a couple of years ago. The Rudbeckia won PoD, just like it did last year!!

Finally at about 7pm the visitors arrived and we spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking and talking. Just really catching up. Scamp spent a short time showing off our garden front and back and we admired the veg that JIC and Sim had brought with them.

Tomorrow they go to Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument and we may go to Embra.

Seized! – 3 August 2018

Right is right except when it’s wrong.

The Right in question is the right side pedal on my Dewdrop. The saying ‘Right is Right’ means the the right side pedal has a right handed thread and is always tightened to the right, i.e. clockwise. The left pedal has a left handed thread and is tightened anti-clockwise. So, to slacken or remove a left pedal you turn it to the right. That’s what I did tonight and after a couple of judicious taps with a hammer on the spanner, it slackened nicely. The right pedal was the problem, and continues to be the problem. Nothing I did would convince the pedal to slacken. It’s seized solid. I tapped the spanner lightly, heavily, I swore at it mildly, then loudly. I heated1 up the crank with a blowtorch. I soaked it in WD40 and still it wouldn’t move. In fact it has now distorted the spanner so I’m leaving it soaking and sulking in WD40 until tomorrow when hostilities will recommence, once I get a new spanner. Oh yes, and before you ask JIC, I was trying to turn it the correct way, anti-clockwise!

From the above you will have gathered that I got a pair of cycling shoes and a pair of Shimano SPD pedals in, and I hate to say this, Decathlon today. Prices were as good as anywhere else and I got to try on the shoes which is one big benefit of going to an actual rather than a virtual shop. We also went to IKEA to buy some new cutlery … and a pillow for Scamp and a toilet brush and an egg slicer. Quite a random selection. I think we did really well to come home with so little! We tried to go for coffee afterwards, but the sat nav got lost. It told us to turn left at a junction that would have taken us into a Holiday Inn, then switched off. Perhaps it thought we needed the holiday.

Went out before dinner, which was the rest of yesterday’s Aloo Saag, to get some photos in St Mo’s. I took a couple of landscapes to play with in ON1 but the main subject today was ‘beasties’ as Scamp calls them or insects as the rest of us see them. Mainly wasps and hover flies today. Lots of both around hover flies won, as you can see from PoD.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. Glasgow will be jumping with these European Championships on, so we’ll probably point ourselves in a different direction, but where is anyone’s guess!


  1. Cranks are usually an aluminium alloy and aluminium expands more with heat than the steel of the pedal axle this should break the seal that has been formed between the two without melting the aluminium ;-) 

Big Boots To Fill – 30 July 2018

I wanted to take my bike out today, but off-road, not on-road.

I’d seen a bloke down at Auchinstarry with a Juke, casually sliding his mountain bike into the car once the back seats had been folded down. I knew the car had a good big boot, but the secret to the ease with which he could carry his bike is that once the seats are folded down, the raised boot deck provides a flat surface from the rear of the car to the back of the front seats. If he could do it, so could I. I forgot that he had a mountain bike and I have a hybrid. His wheels are just that bit smaller than mine. That meant I had to remove my front wheel to make the bike fit, but fit it did. I also had to cover the folded down back seats with a sheet of heavy duty polythene that I found up in the loft. The main thing is it worked.

Cycled along the railway path almost to Twechar, then took a right turn and cycled along a rough track through some fairly recently planted trees out almost to Queenzieburn and from there back to Twechar. From there I went along the canal to the steps to Shiva Pend which is a tunnel under the Forth & Clyde canal to allow a burn to run down to join the River Kelvin. It’s a strange wee place which was built apparently in the 18th century. Wandered around there watching tiny wee trout trying to catch flies while I was trying to take some photos. Climbed back up to the canal and realised that it was beginning to rain. Down at the pend the overhanging trees had given some shelter, so I hadn’t noticed the rain. I decided that would do for today and headed back to Auchinstarry along the canal and passed four blokes in two canoes. Crossed over at the Plantation where I got today’s PoD which is a Painted Lady butterfly sunning itself on the warm stones. I thought I’d avoided the rain, but then it came on with a vengeance and I got back to the car just before I got completely soaked. Bike dismantled and back in the car then up the road.

Scamp made dinner tonight while I got ready to go to salsa. Salsa was all twists and turns and awkward moves which didn’t do my poor wee knee any good, but I survived and it feels a bit better tonight. Tonight’s move was called Venezuela. Jaime would approve.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but the weather looks wetter than today.

Gardening on a grand scale – 27 July 2018

Gardening 24/7? Not for me.

The day started with me doing patient transport to Stobhill so Shona could return her ambulatory BP monitor and I, for one, am glad I don’t have to type that phrase again this week. With that done, and the miracle of being able to park just at the front door of the hospital for the second day in a row, I drove home to pick up the loaf I’d baked last night (sorry, forgot to mention that in the blog for the 26th July) and head off to Colin’s house for coffee.

He’d sent me his postcode, but I knew there were at least three houses there, so which one? I parked across the road and decided that the first on the list was the best bet, and there he was pottering. Isn’t that what all gardeners do in a greenhouse? Anyway, this was a real greenhouse with the heady aroma of ripening tomatoes and earth. It also looked like a greenhouse with trowels, pots, seed packets and plants. I really meant to get a photo, it would have made an beautiful B&W shot. Maybe next time if I’m allowed. His first question was “Where’s Scamp”. Of course he used her ‘real name’ which is NOT Scamp. I explained that she was busy gardening, i.e. pruning ‘things’ and cutting the grass. Oops. Now that I realise what I’d written, it did sound as if Scamp was joining me. Anyway Colin took me a conducted tour of his garden which is extensive and all encompassing. When I saw his show chrysanthemums with their paper hats on, it took me back about 55 years to my Uncle George growing his show chrysanthemums, although he never called them Chrysanthemums, he called them ‘Crysants’, and thankfully, that’s what Colin called them too. Actually, when I smelled the tomatoes, that took me back to my Uncle Jimmy’s smallholding where he grew tomatoes. He was always at pains to tell me never to eat a tomato without sprinkling it with salt. Try it with and without. You’ll never eat tomatoes without salt again. Jimmy and George were brothers-in-law. The link between the too was Uncle Jimmy’s wife, my Uncle Jean and Uncle George’s sister. She was a scary woman, but she put up with me eating strawberries on her smallholding when I was supposed to be weighting them for market, because she was my mum’s cousin. Confused? Don’t worry. There’s nothing so complicated as families.

After our garden tour we had coffee and a fairly extensive chat with Colin and Evelyn for an hour or so, before it was time for me to go and I wasn’t allowed to go empty handed, so tomatoes, chillies and a cucumber were pressed upon me and off I went. It was a lovely day although the heat was becoming oppressive in the latter part of the afternoon.

Back home we had a wander through our small patch and I got some photos. Star of the day was to be a wasp drinking from the birdbath, but then I got a nice shot of a Potentilla and that immediately became PoD, mainly due to the colour contrasts between the blues in the background and the orange flowers.

Just before we decided to come in after dinner, the first peal of thunder sounded. Later there was some lightning and more thunder. It’s even rained a bit tonight, but we really need more. I’m sure it will come over the weekend.

Good day. Really enjoyed the visit to a big garden, however, our own little postage stamp is a lot easier for us to manage. Tomorrow? Maybe lunch in Glasgow and a look for a pair of SPD pedals and shoes.

A day of three halves – 26 July 2018

Hospital patient ambulance driver, laser patient, cyclist

Up and out early(ish) to take Shona to Stobhill Hospital to get her ambulatory BP monitor. For some reason, I got parked right at the front door of the hospital and then had a leisurely half hour watching the drivers circling around hoping for a non-existent parking space. Drove the patient back home and got in just in time for a cup of coffee before lunch.  Then I ordered more coffee and tea from The Bean Shop, to make sure there is plenty for our visitors from down south.

After lunch I started back on an old task, namely that of Annette’s Nexus 7 which I’d found another, yet another possible solution for. It didn’t work, and neither did the Nexus. However, I now have the solution and this one will work. It’s a heavy duty poly bag. You put the offending article in the bag, whisper the magic words and Abracadabra (That’s not the magic word) once you’ve hit the bag four or five times with a claw hammer, the problem is solved. It’s no longer bricked, it’s now broke. I’ll never have to waste another hour of my life trying to solve a wee challenge, as Val would say.

Once I’d settled on the Final Solution, I felt so much better and headed to the physio. As well as being a physio, David is an enthusiastic cyclist. I needed his recommendation for somewhere to get a new pair of cycling shoes and a pair of SPD pedals. His answer was Wiggle. It’s an on-line sports supplier. I’ve had a look and the prices are good and if it’s good enough for an exacting cyclist like him, it will be good enough for me. After that, he lasered me and stuck pins in, then lasered me again just for luck. Knee felt better after that.

Came home and dinner was ready. Salad with our own potatoes, (the last of batch one) salad leaves, tomatoes and prawns. Scamp had the same but with salmon instead of prawns. As the sun was still high in the sky and the temperature still in the 20s, I took the bike out to see if any beasties wanted their photos taken. Not a lot did, but on the way back I passed a field of barley and though I might get a landscape shot instead. I didn’t like the shot once I’d taken it, but as I was walking away I spied a ladybird on one of the stalks, and that became PoD.

Tomorrow I’m a hospital patient ambulance driver and then I’m off to have coffee with Colin, maybe in his greenhouse. Rain, life giving rain is forecast for tomorrow and lots of it to judge by the weather map. We’ll see.

DIY – 23 July 2018

Today I did some woodwork.

Before the woodwork, there was the dentist to prepare for. You know how you always give your teeth an extra scrub with the brush and maybe rinse with some mouthwash before you go to meet the dentist for your checkup? Well, that’s probably the only time my teeth see the brush, although I must admit I use a fair amount of mouthwash throughout the year. Everything was going swimmingly until I put brush in mouth and moved it around, that’s when I found a tiny chip of enamel had come loose from what turned out to be a small tooth, next to my incisor. What better time for it to happen than ten minutes before I was due to see the dentist. He brushed (no pun intended) it aside saying it was only a tiny chip and that he could simply smooth it into the curve of the tooth. I told him to go ahead. Other than that, my gums and teeth were fine. Total cost £2.48. A bargain to get out so easily.

With my tooth fixed, I went home to have lunch and test out my newly remodelled denture on a piece ’n’ ham. After that Scamp started one of those sentences that begin with “Do you know that piece of decking?”. Yes dear, I know that piece of decking. She wanted me to make a base for an old decorative planter we call the rockery in the back garden. For years its been supported precariously on some broken bricks to keep it up from the paving stones in front of the kitchen window. For years I’ve been threatening to make something more substantial to hold it. It looked like today was the day. An hour later after some measuring, sawing, drilling and driving in screws, it was done. No need for painting as the decking and the rest of the wood had been pressure treated, so it shouldn’t rot (fingers crossed). Best of all, it fitted into the space provided and left sufficient room around it for Scamp to squeeze in some other smaller plant pots to tidy the place even more. She was happy, I was happy that I’d eventually got round to doing a job that had been on my list for a long time. Two satisfied gardeners.

Before dinner I took a walk to St Mo’s and got a few beastie pictures as Scamp calls them. My favourite is the delightful beastie at the top of the page. I don’t know what kind of fly it is, but it’s quite nasty looking up close.

Dinner tonight was lemony creamy pasta with smoked salmon. It came from a Tesco recipe card and it worked. Well, it was a bit too lemony for my taste, but Scamp liked it. After that it was time for Salsa and I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to it tonight, for some reason, however it was a lot of fun. Again, possibly too much exercise for my poor knee, but it always seems looser after a good salsa workout. Today’s torture was Enchufé Moderno and Mascarita.  Came out feeling much better and dripping with sweat.  Although there was a lot of heavy rain tonight, the really hot weather continues.

Tomorrow two meetings. Meeting Fred for coffee at midday and then at night, meeting Becky Chambers to buy her new book Record of a Spaceborn Few. Looking forward to both.

Two wheels good – 19 July 2018

This morning I was going to do my quads exercise on two wheels.

It was a beautiful morning again and warm too, so cycling shorts and a cycling top were the fashion of the day. Pumped up the tyres and set off in pursuit of some photos and some exercise. The physio had suggested ten minutes of cycling at a steady pace of 90rpm. I don’t have a cadence meter on my bike computer, so I just pedalled at my usual rate which is probably nearer 80rpm and kept going for about 20 minutes. Went off road on to a track for a mile or so and stopped when the track ended. Took a few photos of a hover fly and one of the Two Amigos, the two beech trees that used to be Three before the storm earlier in the year. About turned and cycled back on my circuit. Stopped beside Broadwood Loch to grab the shot that would become PoD, someone’s lost dummy! Back on to the bike and home. About an hour all in. Not all cycling, probably about 40mins. Leg felt ok, in fact he cycling seemed to ease the nagging ache that had arrived in the night.

It was lunch time when I got back and after that Scamp stated her intention to go to Asda, and as the road to the town centre is closed for a few days, it was actually easier to go to Robroyston. The fact that Robroyston also has a Watt Brothers store, one of Scamp’s favourite shops, had nothing to do with her decision to visit that Asda. After shopping (and a visit to Watt Bros) we went for a coffee then came home. It wasn’t long after we got back that we noticed a lot of police activity at a house across the road. It became a bit more serious when a couple of folk in white Tyvek suits appeared. We’re still not sure exactly what happened, but it’s not looking good. Police have now gone, but I’m sure they’ll be back tomorrow and the rumour mill will have answers, at least one of which will have an element of truth.

After dinner Scamp decided there was just enough warmth in the sun to give her just cause to sit in the garden for an hour. I wasn’t so sure, in fact, the cool wind that was blowing from the west was all the encouragement I needed to finish my reading indoors.

Rain is forecast for tomorrow, heavy rain, so we’ve got buckets ready in the garden to catch every drop we can. Rain is so much better for plant than tap water, they say. It’s certainly cheaper!

A day out in the Clacks – 16 July 2018

Nothing to do with communication systems in the Diskworld

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

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

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

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

Now that was a good day out.

Tomorrow we have no plans.