The Men in Red – 11 February 2020

Today we went to the tower. Luckily we came back again.

Walk to the station. Train to Wimbledon (no Wombles again!). Underground to Earls Court. Change train for Tower Hill, and we’re there. Tower of London awaits.

Walked to the ticket office and got our tickets, concessions of course. Had our bags searched and joined the crowd for the first of many interesting and really entertaining bloodthirsty stories of the tower’s chequered history told by the Yeoman Warder in his black and red uniform (Don’t dare call it a costume!). Beheadings, stranglings, hangings and interments, they were all laid out in their gory glory. It was great fun. The only problem was the wind. It stole away any warmth in the sun and nearly blew away our Yeoman Warder’s hat. Poor bloke must have been chilled to the bone having to stand there and give his talks.

After our 45 minute tour we went in search of some coffee and possibly some soup to warm us. It was tomato and basil soup and it was very welcome. Next Scamp wanted to see the Crown Jewels. Now I’m not entirely convinced that what we saw were the actual Crown Jewels, but they were certainly impressive. As well as the Crowns, lots of them, Sceptres another bucket load and a cardboard box of Orbs, there were platters, plates, punch bowls (one big enough to use as a bath) and assorted cutlery and tableware. All behind glass and looking splendid, but how would I a non-expert be able to tell if they were real or fake? I reckon the real stuff is in a vault somewhere guarded by a dozen big Alsatians and a battalion of the SAS. The vault itself is on an island with a moat infested with crocodiles and the Loch Ness Monster’s wee brother. That’s where I’d put the Crown Jewels, not in a glass box for every Tom, Dick and Harry to gawp at. They weren’t even in the Tower itself. They were in a building across the road. The Tower is used to display all the guns, swords and assorted weaponry from down the ages. Interesting, but pointless these days. (Note: Some of the swords were definitely NOT pointless. They had very real points.). It was the tower that provided the PoD.

When we’d had our fill of riches and weapons and been told all the blood-thirsty stories, we took the trains back to Hazy’s and dinner. It was good to be somewhere warm after all that freezing wind.

Today’s prompt was ‘Burn’. My take on it was burning the candle at both ends. We all do it. We all think we’re getting away with it, but sooner or later, that plan of action will catch up with us.

Dull but we went Dancing – 5 January 2020

Today was nothing to write home about on the weather front. Just dull and grey.

I did get out for a while in the afternoon, but there was nothing inspiring to photograph. That didn’t stop me, of course, but there was nothing in the twenty shots that I took that stood out enough to be a PoD.

Slow cooked Lamb Shoulder for dinner had been started before lunch. Seared the meat in the frying pan then pierced it all over and stuck in some rosemary sprigs, rubbed some salt into the still hot meat and put it in the slow cooker for three hours. I came out nice and tender, although there were a few chewy bits away from the bone. What we in Scotland would call ’Cheuch’. The rest of the meat was fine. Scamp’s dinner was much quicker to cook. She had a fresh tuna steak which she cooked like I would cook a steak. Three minutes per side with a couple of minutes standing time. It looked lovely too.

Drove in to Glasgow and got parked right away. In fact there were lots of parking places available. Found out that 12 folk from one of the salsa classes have booked a week long holiday in Cuba and hired a salsa teacher to boot. That would have been a good break, but probably a bit too much ‘away time’ at the busy start of the year. Danced with a few folk I knew from class and so did Scamp. Managed to remember how to salsa and made up a few ‘new’ moves that I can’t remember now. That’s how it goes some days. Still can’t imagine two classes being taught at the same time in such a small space and with bar service running at the same time. Good luck with that Shannon.

Spoke to JIC in the evening and he gave some advice on curing Scamp’s dodgy tummy problem. She will be out tomorrow morning buying JIC’s remedies.

Today’s PoD was taken with the Teazer2 from where we parked just off Byres Road. I tried it with a lower ISO and a longer exposure, but this was definitely better, even with the heavy grain.

Tomorrow Scamp has a gig and we are hoping to go ballroom dancing in the evening.

The end of an era – 16 December 2019

Tonight we said goodbye to salsa and a lot of friends. Maybe not for ever, but for the foreseeable future.

The day started me making a loaf at around 9am, just after making breakfast. Next, a valiant attempt to clear up the living room and fit six chairs round a four legged table. Not quite squaring the circle, but something like it. After that, and a fair bit of bad grace on my part, I settled down, apologised and waited until Gems had arrived for their Christmas party before heading off to Larkhall to get my new glasses which are remarkably like my old glasses but only cost me £30 for undisclosed reasons. Mumbled explanation was that it was because “I hadn’t had the old ones for long and I’d lost them, so there were simply replacements …” No, it didn’t make sense to me either. However I was happy to tap my card and pay the £30.

Drove home via The Fort (I think I should try to get a room there. It seems I’m there more often than I’m at home) the visit was also for undisclosed reasons. Grabbed a photo of the bronze deer that decorate the place, but I wasn’t sure they’d make it to the PoD and I was right. Back home, PoD went to Fairy Nuff in her rightful place on the Christmas tree.

After dinner I think we dragged our feet a bit, not really wanting to go out to the STUC building for the last time. It was one of Jamie Gal’s exuberant Party dance classes. He makes up the most interesting and at the same time chaotic games for these nights. Tonight’s games went from the usual dancing with glow sticks and grab the Christmas hat to Dancing with Crackers(?!) and Stick the Nose on Rudolph. A bit like pin the tail on the donkey, but more manic and with salsa moves buttonholed in.  Finally the big hand went to 6 and the little hand went halfway between 8 and 9 and we had to go and speak to the man who has become more than a teacher, and more than a friend for the past 12 years. He’s become an institution. We both think he was expecting our bombshell.

The class is moving to Record Factory in the new year because the STUC building is being demolished to make way for yet more student flats. The Record Factory is less than ideal as a venue and too awkward for us to travel to every week. Jamie is becoming more sought after by universities throughout the country and beyond, which means he’ll be teaching salsa less and less. Although we will both miss his manic humour and teaching style, we have possibly found a new ballroom class in Cumbersheugh and that will be a boon on cold snowy nights. I think this is what you could call a Perfect Storm. Everything that could go wrong is going wrong.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow to join the merry throng looking for pre-Christmas bargains of which there will be few!

A curry, a walk and a creepy old building – 23 November 2019

Today we went to Hamilton for a curry.

Yesterday was such a grim day and a bit of a let down, so we decided we’d go to Hamilton today for a curry.

And a very good curry it was too. Actually too much for both of us and with the size of the nan bread in this restaurant, you are really full when you waddle out the door. We walked back into Hamilton itself, although there wasn’t much to recommend it. It was the night they turn on the Christmas lights and as usual there was a fair attempt at a celebration … in the rain. There was a band in the rain and there were dancers in the rain. I really felt sorry for the dancers. At least the band were under cover as was the master of ceremonies, but the poor dancers were out in the rain, some of them lying on the wet ground. Poor wee things. We stayed for about five minutes before we chose to take a short cut back to the car.

We walked through parts of Hamilton I’ve not been in for years, down beside the Cadzow burn. In the summer it’s quite a pretty place with walks along the burn, but in the winter it’s dreich. Did you notice that ‘dreich’ is the number one favourite Scottish word? That’s because it’s so often dreich in Scotland. It was certainly that today. On our walk down to Hamilton town, we’d passed one of the creepiest building I’ve seen in the UK. It used to be a department store and there is a well researched history here: https://bit.ly/2s4yE3p Certainly worth a read.  With the right lighting this really is a sinister looking building, especially from the Cadzow Glen.

Our walk took us right back to the car and we drove home in the rain. It really was a wet day. The photo of the creepy Keith’s Building made PoD.

No Sunday Social tomorrow and no plans made. We’ll just have to see how the land lies in the morning.

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.

Sunny Coatbridge – 289 October 2019

Beautiful day. Too good to stay in.

Stayed for a while to talk to Margie and cause ructions in the Gems group, then did as I suggested I would yesterday and made a sharp exit.

Since we are taking June to get her eyes checked on Thursday, it made sense to do a quick recce of Coatbridge. I was pretty sure I knew where I was going, and I was right. More importantly, I found where the parking was. There’s not a lot of it in Coatbridge and most of it is either owned by Asda or NLC education department, neither of which I trust with the Red Juke. I’m sure there are other more secure parking places near the building. Google will know, even if I don’t.

Since I was in Coatbridge, I thought I’d have a look at the grand building Clive and I had investigated on Google Maps. It took a bit of finding, but today with the sun shining on it, it did indeed look very grand. It also looked like the original building had been there for a long time. I don’t know how much of it IS original now, but it looks expensively refurbished. Didn’t want to risk taking photos of it for fear of security taking an interest in me. Maybe another day. On the way there, I discovered that Coatbridge has a cricket club. Who would have thought that?

On the way home I stopped at St Mo’s and that’s where I got the PoD.  I just thought the nearly naked tree looked a great shape against that bright blue sky.  Later I though about straightening up the slope of the grass, but eventually decided it looked ok like that.  I must look next time and see if it really does slope.

Back home and after dinner we set off for Glasgow and Salsa. Tonight we learned that New One No 2 is now called Timber. Named after a snake I believe! Jamie G also tried to reinvent a couple of moves from last week. The first one, a Rueda move, he decided could be extended to run infinitely. It caused a fair bit of confusion. The second one which might or might not have a name could be converted to a follower’s move according to him. I don’t know if many of the followers or any of the leaders managed it.

Today the demand was for a sketch of coins or dosh or smash or loose change. I had to cadge some extra spondoolicks to bolster my meagre collection, but then, it is nearly the end of the month.

We have plans for tomorrow, but only if the weather fairies behave. It’s 1.2ºc just now, so we’ll have to be well wrapped up.

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.

Another day at Monklands – 26 September 2019

Not for me this time, but for Clive.

Woke to a text from Clive’s daughter telling me Clive’s leg had been giving him some concern during the night and also giving her some concern now. After a bit of discussion with Scamp we decide we’d try the Kenilworth surgery first, but we really needed to take him to A&E. After a fifty second wait while a recording of one of the doctors played, explaining how a doctor’s surgery operated (I know the difference between condensation and condescension) I finally got through to a person who said they didn’t have a treatment room (yes, they do) or a nurse (yes they do) her recommendation was to take him to A&E. What she meant was they have nurses who start at 9am, this was about 8.15am and it’s those nurses who open the treatment room.

We got him ready and drove to Monklands. I dropped him and Scamp at A&E and went to park the car. By the time I’d walked back, he was in seeing the doctor. Waited about 20 minutes and then went to ask if we could see him on the pretence of giving him a bottle of water. It worked and I walked through to the patient’s area where I found him sitting looking a bit fed up. Talked to him about what had happened and found that the doc had said he was fairly certain it wasn’t DVT which was what we’d all feared and was just the result of a bump he’d had last week. Then the consultant and the doc returned. I handed Clive the water bottle and made a hasty retreat. Fifteen minutes later he was out. Just over an hour all in. Not a bad result.

It’s not until you see who comes in to these places that you realise the problems the doctors and nurses have to deal with. In the time we were there, there was a very poorly looking man whose daughter was telling someone on the phone he’d had “another stroke”, a young guy who said he’d hurt his back at work and a little boy who had a stone lodged in his ear … and Clive who was worried he had a blood clot, but hadn’t, thankfully. Drove us all home for toast and a cup of coffee.

We’d planned to drive to Perth today. I know I usually call it Perf, but I’m giving it the Sunday name today, Perth. That’s just what we did. Weather was rain for a while and sun for a long while on the drive up the A9. Lovely scenery. Saw a skein of geese heading sort of north. Clive suggested they may be Canada geese heading for new pastures. He’s probably right.

Walked down the Main Street in Perth to the observation ledge over the Tay. River was heavy and it looked as if someone had put some kayak gates in the river under the road bridge. Didn’t see anyone in canoes. Got coffee beans and then went for a walk through the park before coming home via Dobbies in Stirling where Scamp got a chrysanthemum pot plant. Then it was back home.

Clive and I pored over an old map overlay before dinner. He and Scamp sat and watched a recording of one of the Proms broadcasts from Albert Hall later while I caught up with yesterday’s blog.

A sort of vague response from the ‘Flickr Hero’ about how to get Inktober 2019 back on track, but basically it’s now worth the bother. They have their money and they’re not interested in the nuisance the cause. Wasters!

PoD is a 3 frame vertorama (vertical panorama) of a crane in Perth.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Summerlee. Nothing else planned.

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 trip through history – 15 July 2019

Our own history and even further back.

I’d been reading a blog post by one of the girls from Salsa.  She is one of the ones Shannon used to call her “Expert Girls”.  Now that may conjure up entirely the wrong picture.  Anyway, she was writing about Craignethan Castle in South Lanarkshire.  When I was at school, nobody called it Craignethan, everybody called it Tillietudlem because it was said to be the inspiration for the castle of that name in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Old Mortality.   Back in the early ’80s we lived near the castle and used to walk along the line of the old railway for a day out at Tillietudlem.  I think that must have stuck in my mind, because neither of us wanted to get stuck in a traffic jam trying to get to the coast today, but we agreed it would be good to be out somewhere.  I suggested Craignethan as that ‘somewhere’, and it was settled, that’s where we went.

I’d forgotten quite how far out in the sticks it was.  Netherburn was the back of beyond, but Tillietudlem was beyond that again.  The sun came out for us when we got there and we spent a good hour or two remembering simpler days when a walk to the castle was a great experience for all the family.  We drove back through Netherburn, but hardly recognised any of it at all.  Stopped for a roll and a cup of coffee at the antique centre at Garrion Bridge, then home.

The sun had disappeared by the time we got home, but it was still warm, so I went out for a walk over St Mo’s and got today’s PoD of a damselfly.  As usual, all is not as it seems.  It’s a bit of a Frankenstein damselfly.  I had one good shot of its head and most of it’s body apart from the tail, and another with less of  the head, but all of the tail.  It’s a simple thing to join the two in Photoshop, so that’s what I did.  More photos of the day in Flickr (again, if Flickr is playing nice).

After a bit of an argument about how to make a quiche, we finally collaborated and made two.  We’ve eaten one and the other will do lunch tomorrow.  Pudding today was Orange jelly with our own stewed rhubarb in it.  Quite, quite delicious.

Didn’t manage to get a seat in the garden in the sun today, but did get one at Tillietudlem, watching and listening to the swallows flying round the castle.  It was a good day.

Tomorrow Scamp’s getting her hair cut and maybe I’ll go in to Glasgow and get my number 3 all over, just to tidy myself up a bit.  Rain is predicted 🙁