A lovely Spring day – 19 March 2020

Sunshine from early and we both decided to make the best of it.

Scamp wanted to get some pansies to fill up her flower tubs and I volunteered to go look for some. Found some at B&Q. The place was quite busy considering the present circumstances. Took the long way home via Tesco to see what was for sale. Hoping for some pasta, but the only thing available on that aisle was Tagliatelle and I know that Scamp doesn’t like that. It wasn’t actually on the shelf, it was still in its box with the top ripped off, sitting in one of the rolling cages the shelf stackers push along (according to Scamp the cages are called “Yorkies”). So someone just tore of the top and helped themselves. The next step will be raiding the warehouse and if they can’t find what they want there, ambushing the artic wagons when they try to unload. I kid you not!

When I got back there was an email waiting for me to tell me that my coffee would be delivered around 3pm. That gave us the opportunity to go for a walk. We walked around St Mo’s pond and then went to Condorrat with the possibility of getting a cake in the Spar shop. However we went in vain because there were no cakes that interested Scamp. She did, however get some potatoes then announced she had no money! Luckily I had. While we were in St Mo’s I got PoD which I think is a flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum.

We walked home and had lunch, then Scamp thought she’d go out and edge the grass in the front garden and maybe tidy up the pots. I thought about helping out, but only thought about it. Postman brought a big box addressed to Scamp in Hazy’s writing style, then the DPD man brought my coffee and tea. With nothing else to do but play games on my phone I put on my big jacket because the sun was getting lower and the wind was cold now and went back to St Mo’s to do a solo circuit of the pond, but got no photos. Eventually I settled for some low shots of the crocuses in the front garden. Another of Scamp’s brilliant ideas a couple of years ago was to plant crocus bulbs in the grass of the front garden. They certainly do brighten up the grass, and after the flowers disappear, it will be time to cut the grass anyway and allow the plants to die back until next year, hopefully.

So, not only have they closed all the UK schools from Friday, but they have also cancelled all exams because of the virus. John Swinney the Scottish Education minister sought to explain how certification would work and managed to fit in his two buzz words “Robust” and “Rigorous” four or five times in his statement. He has yet to explain what they mean in this context. Pupils will be graded on coursework, teacher assessment and prior grades and of course it will be Robust and Rigorous. I feel sorry for those pupils who will not get the opportunity to sit their exams.  It is the first time the exams have been cancelled since the system was put in place in 1888.

Tomorrow it looks like a cold start but a bright day. We’ll take that. We may go for another walk, while we are still allowed out.


The new reality – 17 March 2020

We’ve decided that we just have to get used to this new chapter in our lives. It’s not of our making, and there’s nothing we can do to fix it. We can, however make the most of it. As Scamp says, at least we’ve got a garden we can work in while we’re not allowed to travel or to go dancing. The occasional walk will also help keep us moving and motivated. Today, though, it was preparation for the gardening.

Went out in the morning to get some compost and some seeds, veg seeds. Just peas, kale and rocket and two bags of compost. I know that a lot of that compost will find its way into flower pots and flower beds, but some of it will also help bolster the worn out compost in the raised bed. I’m seriously thinking of lifting the remaining leeks and using them for soup. Both the black kale and the curly variety are just about finished now. I’ll maybe use them up in the soup too. If there’s any left, I’ll bag it and freeze it. That way nothing is wasted and I can work at replenishing the compost in the bed. That’s the plan. However, rain put paid to any sensible work today and the compost is stacked in the back garden covered with a tarpaulin to keep the rain off and also allow it to dry out a bit.

After lunch Scamp encouraged me to go out for a walk while she watched some of her pre-recorded programs. It was dry when she suggested it, but by the time I had my boots on, there were raindrops on the window again. It didn’t really matter, I wanted an hour to myself, just as she deserved an hour to her self. I walked to St Mo’s but there were no deer and no frogs to commune with. I found an interesting bud just bursting on a stubby tree. It reminded me of a lucky rabbit’s foot I used to have on a keyring when I was a teenager. Then someone told me it hadn’t been all that lucky for the rabbit and I decided it wasn’t a very sensible thing to have in my pocket and put it in the bin. The furry bud became PoD and the rain didn’t go off, in fact it became straight down soaking rain an my jacket was dripping wet by the time I got home

Dinner tonight was the Thai Chicken Stir-Fry I bought yesterday. I bought 500g of it and that was too much for the two of us, but when we halved it, that wasn’t quite enough. I realise now I should just have cooked the lot and then we could have eaten what we wanted and chucked out the rest, but in these straitened times it seems such so wasteful to throw stuff out. Maybe we’ll use it for lunch tomorrow instead. That might work. Anyway, I thought it tasted fine although Scamp said she felt it was too spicy. I got the idea from a meal at JIC’s where he had bought and cooked a similar stir-fry with beef as the protein. I’m guessing you have to trust your butcher when you’re buying pre-assembled food like stir-fry and we both trust our individual butchers.

Nowhere to go tomorrow, but the weather looks kinder than today, so we may go for a walk. Ordered coffee from Perth and was told it should be delivered tomorrow, so may need to work around that.

Lockdown – 16 March 2020

It was a day of narrowing opportunities.

Planned for coffee with the auld guys. First Val called off, with a bad cough (Not Coronavirus he said). Then Colin said he was “Socially integrating with greenhouses, garden and garage”. In other words, too busy. Fred, the final invitee, asked if the coffee shop would even be open. I hadn’t thought of that possibility. That’s when I decided to cancel the whole daft idea.

Gems met and decided that they weren’t taking the risk of catching the virus by singing at Abronhill church. With that being so, Scamp made the decision to cancel practises for the foreseeable future. I know it was a hard decision to take, but when Scamp decides on something, it stays decided. She says she’ll phone the person in charge of the church group tomorrow and explain her decision.

I went to the butchers while Gems were in session. Just for some stew and sausages. I got some Thai Chicken Stir-fry too, that’s for tomorrow’s dinner. Saw nothing worth photographing while I was out. I went up to my parking place at the back of Fannyside and watched the rain float in from the west and gradually swallow up the landscape. Saw a hill catching the sun away to the east and still haven’t quite decided what it is. I thought it might be Berwick Law, but that seems unlikely now. Must take my laptop with me the next time and try to pinpoint it. Just for something to do.

Went dancing at night in Kirsty’s class. Tidied up the original waltz routine and almost go the new waltz routine working, but not quite. To Scamp’s delight we did the Sally Ann Cha-Cha to “Fireball!” I think that might be our last class for a while.

Boris’s doom-laden statement at 5.30pm today was him setting out what life is going to be like for the next 12 weeks and it’s not good. It is, however slightly more flexible than that announced on Sunday with all persons over 70 confined to the four walls of their house for 16 weeks. At least, now, we are allowed out for a walk, as long as we stay a good distance from anyone else. We may take them up on that.

Today’s PoD was captured in the rain as we left the dance class. It’s entitled “Cumbernauld. Where the streets are paved with gold.”

Tomorrow, we may go for a walk.

A bit of sunshine – 13 March 2020

That’s what we all need sometimes, a bit of sunshine.

There was the odd sprinkle of rain too, but that’s ok. Spoke to Hazy in the morning to explain yesterday’s blog post in more detail. After the explanation and checking that all was well down her way, we got ready and drove out to Rouken Glen in the south of Glasgow. We’d been there a few months ago and said we’d come back. It was Scamp’s suggestion of a destination today and it was a good one. The last time we were there we were looking for the waterfall, but failed to find it. Today we seemed to be surrounded by waterfalls. High drops, low splashing waterfalls and one that seemed determined to soak us with spray. I’d taken the tripod in the car, but of course I didn’t take it with me because I didn’t think we’d see any of the waterfalls. Numpty!  One of the waterfall pics got PoD.

The other thing I saw was what I think was the nymphal shuck of a damselfly or maybe a sedge. Can’t be sure that’s what it was, but almost certain. It looks like something designed by H.R. Giger. It was paper thin and must have survived the gales and the torrential rain since last summer.

Lunch was in the Boathouse Cafe next to the boating pond. Roll ’n’ Pork Sausage for me and Scrambled Egg on Toast for Scamp. Coffee was better than the usual cafe coffee. Almost as good as my new Blue Box coffee, Hazy. Much lighter than my usual Perth blend, but nice for a change. Walked back through the park and drove home just before the start of the rush hour.

Paella for dinner tonight and it was a good one. Almost, but not quite, too dry. I probably won’t be able to make one like it for ages now.

I think we’ve both come to terms with the P&O situation now. Another email arrived this afternoon to the effect that we can cancel the cruise and have our deposit refunded. We are both in agreement that it would be the best course of action in the circumstances. My thoughts are that with so many places almost in lockdown, it would not be much of a holiday anyway, even if Boris hadn’t made his declaration. Also, if we had been allowed to go, we’d have been in a bus travelling south with 40 or so others wondering if that old lady’s irritating cough is actually Covid 19 or just a cold. Imagine getting all the way to Southampton and being told you can’t board because you are showing signs of a virus you didn’t have when you left the house. Maybe for once Boris has done us a favour.

We have no plans for tomorrow. It looks like rain in the morning, clear for an hour or so and then more rain at night. Never mind, we had a good day today. We can’t be greedy.

A day in the Toon – 6 March 2020

Scamp suggested it and I agreed. A day in Glasgow. No driving, no dancing, just a day in the Toon. Sounds good to me too.

Walked over to Condorrat and got the eXpress bus to Glasgow. Coffee in Nero first then a walk through JL. Visited the ‘toy shop’ on the top floor, just to see if there were any bargains on show, but of course, there weren’t. Didn’t really expect any, but I’m not in the market for bargains anyway, so I wasn’t really bothered.

The new Aaronovitch book (with luminous cover!) from Waterstones and the prospect of a pair of Wranglers in TJ Hughes took us along Argyle Street. The book was bought, but the jeans weren’t. Mainly due to the lack of ability in TJ’s staff to assess the size of the queue and stop changing tags on stock and man (should that be ‘person’) the tills instead. Nope, Job Demarcation demands that I stay at the job I was given and not deviate from said job until sanctioned by a more senior member of staff Or in other words “I was only obeying orders”. Left the jeans back on the shelf and walked out. How do these stores survive? Especially when others like JL are sinking?

In Paesano, a Number 3 pizza (anchovy, olive, capers, mozzarella, sugo and EVOO) for me and a Number 1 pizza (Sugo, rocket, No garlic, No cheese) for Scamp with two glasses of house red saved the day and brought a little bit of Italian sunshine to Glasgow.

Walked back to the bus station via Cass Art for black watercolour paint and a cheap sketch pad then caught another eXpress bus back to Condorrat. Walked home with smiles on our faces. It was a good day.

PoD was some folk heading up Bucky Street for the bus home after ‘Making Glasgow’!

Scamp made Chicken Goujons for supper, washed down with another glass of red wine.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to be fed at Cotton House, with the prospect of a walk afterwards.

Coffee and some adult conversation – 24 February 2020

Coffee at midday with the rest of the Auld Guys.

Topics under discussion were how to fix NLC, health centres and Boris.

  • It was generally agreed that NLC are now BER (Beyond Economic Repair) which is a nice way of saying FUBAR.
  • Health centres seem to be screwing up a lot of people. Within about a 10 mile radius the three centres under discussion were all operating different systems and all of them totally inefficient. Possibly they too are BER.
  • The book I’m reading at present is Real Tigers by Mick Herron. One nasty piece of work in the book is Peter Judd who is Home Secretary — described as ‘a loose cannon with a floppy fringe and a bicycle’ has his eye on Number 10. Now Peter Judd’s initials are PJ. If you say them quickly they’d sound like BJ, then all sorts of similarities are revealed. A nice piece of satire or simply a coincidence? You choose.

With the world once again set to rights, we went our separate ways and vowed that we’d organise our next meeting in a pub in Glasgow. We’ve been saying it for years and it hasn’t transpired yet. Perhaps 2020 will be that year.

When I got home, Gems were in full voice, so I swiftly had a roll ’n’ bacon and went out into the grim sleet to see if there were any pictures out there worth taking. There were as it happened. I’d stopped on one of my favourite places for a view of the Campsie covered in snow when the clouds came down and obscured them. Then I heard the sound of geese and a large skein appeared from behind some trees. There seemed to be hundreds of birds in the group that split up and rejoined as I grabbed my camera and shot off a few frames through the smirr that had started to fog up the lens. A quick wipe with my shirt tail cured that and I go some more before they headed off north. What do they know that I don’t. The resulting image is at the top of the page.

Dancing tonight was a reprise of waltz which I will tentatively say we can now complete without arguing 75% of the time. After that we did some foxtrot and made a bit of hash of it, but nothing that can’t be improved with some more practise. New to us tonight was quickstep. Now we’ve done quickstep with Michael, but this was quickstep with names for all the steps and the figures and it seemed to flow much better than when we were dancing it in Blackfriars. I’m not saying we have it off pat yet, it’s still a work in progress, but we’re about half way there. Feeling much better about this dancing lark.

I’m not publishing my attempt at a Mandala which is today’s challenge. I wasted an hour of my life drawing it and I don’t intend to foist it on anyone else. If you want to see it go to FB or Flickr.

Tomorrow, no plans, but I think we’ll be practising the quickstep figures.

A Day in Perth – 1 February 2020

Just a gentle drive up the M9.

Drove up the M9 at a sedate 63mph trying to find out why the Juke doesn’t seem as economical as it used to be. It could be JIC’s suggestion of the new tyres or possibly they are under inflated, but the fuel consumption was extra poor today. Can’t explain it. Saw the new Juke in the shopping centre in Perth. The ergonomics of the controls on the steering wheel seem to be even worse that the Red Juke’s. Not sure I like it. Of course the display model was top of the range, so not a real comparison with ours.

Anyway, we’d hoped we’d be driving away from the rain today, but that wasn’t to be. It followed us up the road and dumped even more of the wet stuff on us. Took back a pair of summer sandals that didn’t fit Scamp and got some bags of coffee and tea then drove back down the road again getting the same mpg as we had going. One brighter was driving along past Stirling with a rainbow arching over us as we drove. It seemed to be keeping pace with us. Never seen that before.

PoD was the ‘Perth Moonshot’ which was an old church with masses and masses of scaffolding shrouding it. It looked like Cape Kennedy with the nose cone of a rocket just showing above the scaffolding.

Back home it was soup and bread for dinner. Both were deemed great.

First drawing done for EDiF (Every Day in February) and 28 Drawings Later, both on Facebook. Hopefully I’ll get it posted after posting this.

Tomorrow we may go dancing.

Out on the town – 30 January 2020

Today was the anniversary of the day we first met. A much more sensible anniversary than the day we married.

Simply put, if we hadn’t ever met, we wouldn’t ever have married, but if we’d met and never married, it would have made little difference to us. To other people it would have been important, but to us it would have simple have been a convenience.

We got the bus in to Glasgow today. Not the slow X3, but the much quicker X28 from Condorrat. True, we had to walk over to Condorrat, but it was worth it not to have the bus stop at every one of the 5,000 stops all the way to Glasgow. Well, it seemed like that anyway.

We went for coffee in Nero before we walked down through the town. I watched an older woman struggling with a smartphone until a young bloke helped her to dial her friend on it. After a couple of attempts she managed to complete the connection and asked the bloke the name of the coffee shop she was in. She then relayed this information to her friend who told her he/she would meet her outside the Concert Hall. Again she asked for help from the young bloke, but this time he couldn’t help as he didn’t come from Glasgow, so another couple provided directions (it was actually just next door). We take technology like smartphones for granted and for those of us who are adept at using it, we can find all the information we need at the touch of a button. For others it’s a bit of a trial. It’s easy to forget how bamboozling modern technology can be. I hope she found her friend.

We walked down Bucky Street and I grabbed today’s PoD outside the Apple shop. I wonder how much business SimplyFixIt gets from this sign? Walked further along Argyll Street an up past the old fruit market for lunch in Gandolfi Fish. Lunch was Smoked Haddock Goujons as starter for both of us followed by Oven Baked Cod with Pomme Anna and Kale for Scamp. For me it was Sea Bass and Prawn Risotto. Washed down with a bottle of Italian red. For once we had a pudding: Panna cotta with Strawberries and Basil for Scamp. All of it absolutely brilliant. Service too was done with a smile which always helps. Had a drink in the Gandolfi Bar next door, but it was a dull, cold and uninteresting place. We wouldn’t go back there, but Gandolfi Fish is on our list now.

Bus back to Condorrat and then walked home in a gathering gale with splashes of rain. It didn’t matter, because we’d had a great day.

Tomorrow we’re cooking for six!

A late morning – 26 January 2020

It was a late night last night and consequently a late morning today.

We went for a walk in the morning to get milk and stuff to make dinner. As a special treat (?!) we went for coffee to Tim Hortons. Apparently they are a fast food restaurant chain in Canada. Somebody should tell the folk working in the Cumbersheugh place because the coffee was poor and took a long while to produce. Some folk seemed to like it though, because the place was busy. I’d rank it alongside Starbucks. If you want coffee go to a coffee shop. If you want Starbucks, go to a Starbucks. I don’t know what you get in a Hortons, probably a Horton or maybe burnt water. As for food, we shared a muffin which I thought was ok, but Scamp criticised for having too much bicarbonate. What she didn’t know was that the muffin was the healthiest offering they had. Everything else was fried and soaked in sugar syrup. Last complaint. I like to decide how much milk and/or sugar to put in my coffee. I don’t want some 18 year old deciding for me. Fin.

Walked back feeling that the day could only get better. It did, or it did improve slightly. After lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s hoping for slightly more light than yesterday. Lots more light would be a bonus, but essentially I’m a realist, so a little more light would fit the bill. I got that little more light, and also a shower or rain, but I had to wait a while for the blue sky and that little bit of high level cloud after the rain clouds had cleared. For the last two or so weeks there have been a group of radio control freaks driving their model dune buggies over the old BMX track and yesterday I found what I think is an off road circuit just inside the tree line. Today there were only dog walkers on the paths round the pond. No dune buggies and not even any BMX riders. Deserted. PoD went to some dried out thorns caught by some of that elusive sunshine.

Back home it was more cooking tuition from Scamp to help me make the most of some 500g of nice looking shoulder steak that would become tonight’s dinner for me, while Scamp was having a really thick tuna steak. My steak was lovely, hers was a bit overdone, which is a shame, because the raw fish looked lovely. Maybe frozen too long, maybe just too thick. It could be either or possibly a combination of both. Who knows. The remainder of mine is earmarked for Tuesday’s dinner.

Spoke to JIC tonight and caught up. Neither he nor us had much to say apart from catching up with yesterday’s action at the ball and his progress at Cranford. Plans are being formulated for February.

I’m reading February’s Son and devouring it. Set in Glasgow in February 1973 and straddling the day we got married, it’s an interesting book written after a great deal of research I’d think. The writer even got the weather right for that month in that year. So strange to read about places we knew then and attitudes we lived with then.

Tomorrow it’s time to test out the step memory of the new dance shoes. We had a quick practise tonight and the feet seem to know where they should be going. Also having to do my quarterly blood letting tomorrow. Snow forecast, so maybe the off chance of some photos.

Today we went to Embra – 18 January 2020

It’s ages since we’ve been in Embra. Not since last year at least (Ha, ha).

Still sticking to the “Up and out before 11” mantra, we headed off for the 10.40am train from Croy. On the way we picked up the tickets for our London trip, so, a tick in two boxes. Fairly slow train, and in the same carriage as a foursome of what Scamp called “Apprentice Witches” who looked as if they were off on a Ladies Only weekend, lubricated with a bottle of cheap champagne. And why not, even ladies wot lunch are allowed a weekend off the leash occasionally.

Got off at Haymarket and were surprised with the number of polis in attendance, van loads of them. Hearts must be playing at home, I thought. I was right. Hearts were at home to Airdrie. We walked up and over to Nero on Lothian Road for our morning coffee. Suitably refreshed, we should have walked through the Farmers’ Market and over to the Grassmarket, but today was different. Instead, we walked down to Princes Street and then along its length to The Bridges. Walked over The Bridges and on to the Royal Mile. It was cold. Not bitterly cold like it sometimes is in Embra, but cold enough to require my wooly Buff, wooly had and a pair of gloves. At least it was bright as well as cold.  Took some foties on the Royal Mile and then we ducked down to the Grassmarket. This was really strange. We were going in exactly the opposite direction to what we usually go and the vistas of architecture we were seeing were totally different to those we usually see. “A change is as good as a rest”, they say and it was proving true. One thing didn’t change and that was lunch in Petit Paris in the Grassmarket. Truly French restaurant with a French menu and served by French blokes. Scamp had Crayfish in Garlic Butter and a main of Salmon Fillet with Thyme served with mash. I had Garlic and Pea soup and a main of Beef Bourguignon. Both meals were just as good as we expected them to be. I even risked the wrath of Nick the Chick with a glass or red wine.

To continue our ‘Wrong Way Round’ walk, we walked through the Farmers’ Market that was just starting to close for the day, and where I got today’s PoD of a bloke enjoying the view of the castle from the comfort of a deck chair. Then out past the Usher Hall and back to Haymarket for the train home. A much quieter train home, now that the Apprentice Witches were suitably sozzled and off making a noise elsewhere.

Not a bad day. Pity it was so cold, but the lovely meal in Petit Paris made up for the lack of warmth. PoD was indeed the bloke on the deck chair, but there are others on Flickr if you care to visit.

Tomorrow we believe there may be dancing at the Record Factory.