A day that starts with a dentist visit – 14 January 2019

… Is a lost cause!

Well, not totally lost because I was out within about fifteen minutes, £33 lighter, but with a front tooth that was back in business. Drove home, solved the ‘Mild’ Sudoku and had a cup of coffee.

Then it was almost time to go for Gems, but first Scamp and I cleaned out the smelly fridge once more, but still it smells. Can’t work out where the smell is coming from. We’ve taken everything out, chucked out half of it, only put back stuff we both agree we’ll use. We washed all the jars before putting them back. Washed the shelves and today we washed the walls of the fridge just to be sure we were covering every base. Still it’s there. My only thought is that the drain at the bottom of the fridge is leaking into the insulation of the box itself and that’s where the smell is coming from. Tomorrow I may put some disinfectant down the drain hole.

Went out for a while in the early afternoon to get some photos while the sun was shining and Gems were singing. Got some interesting macro shots of a lichen I’d never heard of before. It was Dog Lichen (Peltigera canina) so called because the fruiting bodies resemble a dog’s teeth. You might be able to see why from the photo at the top. There wasn’t much else to see today so I wandered back home to make the dinner.

We were going early to Salsa tonight because Mhairi and Robert were going to a new beginners class at 6.30. Wow, what a big class. Scamp and I helped out as there weren’t enough leaders (as usual). Our own class was remarkably small again. Where have all the leaders gone, I wonder? We covered Akia (that’s how you spell it apparently), Erato, Titanic and just for fun at the end, Roulette, the Rueda move.

Heard our first little scuttling noise from the ceiling tonight when we got home. First one in about four nights, but still disappointing. Stared to keep a record so we can pursue the issue (and the rodents) further.

Tomorrow we go visit Andrew in Falkirk.

Will you? Won’t you? Will you? Won’t you? – 13 January 2019

Will you join the dance?
Today we were going to Mango for the first time in many years to go to a Sunday Social, at least that’s what the plan was last night, and tentatively this morning, but plans change sometimes.

It was a windy night last night and the wind continued this morning, giving us good reason, we thought, to stay in bed and read for an extra hour or so. Then we needed to formulate a plan for the the day.

I dug out some meat to make the stew for my dinner and a piece of salmon for Scamp’s. The sky was clearing, helped by the strong westerly wind and it looked like a bright, if cold day. The temperature was theoretically 12ºc, but given the wind chill factor, it was just creeping up to about 5ºc, but like I said, it was bright and that’s good enough to encourage me out to take some photos in the wide (and wild) world after yesterday’s desktop shot. I reckoned I had enough time to grab a few photos, look for my lost Manfrotto tripod screw down by the Luggie Water and get back in time to make my stew before we went out.

The photos were slow in coming. I got some macro shots of what I think are Cladonia, but I could be wrong and a few desultory landscape shots. It was only when I started processing them that I realised the dreary landscape shots had some serious PoD potential. It took a fair bit of work in Lightroom to get them working, but it was worth it, I think.

I did have enough time to make the stew and under Scamp’s careful teaching it was turning out well. Unfortunately I’d spent too long scouring the Luggie pathways for the now admittedly lost screw to allow enough time for the stew to cook before we were intending to go out. That’s when the “Will we? Won’t we?” questions started. Did we really want to go? Well, maybe. Did we actually know if the Sunday Social was on today? Well, maybe we could check? Eventually I did some research on Facebook and found out that categorically the Sunday Social was on today from 6pm until 9pm. Now it was back to the first question, “Did we want to go?” I made the decision, yes, let’s go and check out this alternative and regular venue for dancing at a time we would be happy to attend. We are both glad we did!

Got parked just off the building site that is Sauchiehall Street and walked round the corner to Mango. Got there about 6.15 and found that there were people already on the dance floor, which is a good sign. It was looking good. We joined in and danced for an hour and a half almost no-stop. Met old friends we hadn’t seen for years and new friends we see every week at class. It’s now going to be on our calendar for the foreseeable future.

Came home and heated the stew, cooked the salmon and the veg and shared a bottle of wine. Spoke to JIC on the phone and the world seemed brighter than it had for weeks, at least for me it did.

Will we? Yes, we will.

Tomorrow it’s the dentist for me in the morning. Oh what fun.

Driving, driving all the day – 19 December 2018

Today began with the alarm at 7.45am and I finally parked the car tonight at about 9.15pm.  Ok, I wasn’t driving for all that time, but it felt like it.

Out for a podiatrist appointment at 9am after scraping the thick ice that had appeared overnight from the windscreen. I’d forgotten that some people still have to get up at this and earlier ungodly hour to go to work.

The nice lady podiatrist poked and prodded my feet and told me my feet were scoring 4/5 for health. I tried not to laugh when she told me I should try to improve my flat feet by standing on tiptoes when I’m brushing my teeth in the morning. “Brushing my teeth? What’s that?” It only happens twice a year when I’m due to visit the dentist. That’s not going to help my poor fallen arches much.

Home for a coffee and then it was Ho Ho tee shirt on and out to Michael’s Christmas Party. It was great fun with some Samba (loved the Samba Walk) and a bit of Charleston before we finished off with an almost perfect couple of waltz patterns. Left with a smile on my face. Got today’s PoD in George Square in Glasgow on the way to the car. It looked ok on the camera screen, but it was a bit untidy on the computer. However it was a record of the day.

Scamp’s sister is in hospital and I trusted the satnav to find Monklands Hospital for me. It did find it, but took me through the busiest parts of Coatbridge at the busiest time of day. I’ll use Google next time on my phone. That will lower my blood pressure significantly. With Scamp reassured that June was being well looked after, we drove home (without satnav directions).

Dinner was fresh spinach and ricotta ravioli and it was lovely, then it was back in the Juke and in to town for the second dance class of the day and the second Salsa class of the week. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, I was fed up with driving. Having said that, it too was great fun with almost all the games we’d played on Monday being played again. This time Jamie G managed to film part of the proceedings from his drone. Now, that’s just showing off, or was it one of the reasons he gave himself for buying it? “But it could be useful for filming a Rueda from above, couldn’t it??!!”

Oh yes, and I finally managed to get Python to play nice with the Blinkt board that’s the LED output from the Raspberry Pi. I even wrote my own little program to reset all the lights to zero. I was well impressed.

Three parcels arrived today. One big parcel and another clinking parcel, both from somewhere near Cambridge and one extremely long parcel from near Chessington! Wonder what’s in them?

Tomorrow Scamp meets Nancy for the re-scheduled lunch and I am hoping to make a video, but not with a drone!

Balloon Dancing – 17 December 2018

We both had stuff to do, but couldn’t decide where we’d do it.

I suggested Silverburn, but this was swiftly removed because there’s not a bookshop there where Scamp can happily leave me while she’s off buying things. A bit like a creche for adults. Scamp suggested Braehead because there is a creche there called Waterstones. However, we finally settled on The Fort. Quicker to get to, with lots of shops and two creches. One called Waterstones and the other called Hobbycraft. The only thing missing was a Nero, but just this once I was willing to be a martyr and go to Costa instead.

With the destination settled, there was no time to waste, so we drove over to Easterhouse and finally got parked. It looked like everybody else had decided The Fort was the place to be today. Scamp got her essentials, I got a look round the bookshop and Hobbycraft and we had lunch in an absolutely jumping Costa. Five people working behind the counter, but only two tills in operation and a queue for an execution waiting to be fed. There must be a better way than this.

Drove home and had just enough time to get out to grab some of the fading light down at Auchinstarry which is where today’s PoD came from. Instead of walking west along the north bank of the canal, I walked east along the south bank. It’s only a short walk, but an interesting one that takes you round to Nethercroy which is quite an eerie place at gloaming. Got some photos and came home to a plate of Scamp’s excellent “Just Soup” for dinner.

Drove in to Glasgow for tonight’s end of year salsa party where Jamie G had laid on his usual manic hour of dancing and silly games. ‘Dancing in the Dark’ with glow sticks is now a well established party favourite, and ‘Steal the Hat’ is a Christmas standard. However, dancing with reindeer antlers, glow sticks and balloons is new and even better fun than you can imagine. Some moves looked so easy until you added in the balloons and the reindeer antlers. A fitting end to the year.

Tomorrow Scamp is off again to The Fort to meet Nancy and I’m hoping to paint.

Dancing, dancing all the day … again – 12 December 2018

We went in to Glasgow a bit earlier today, so that we could, or should I say I could do some Christmas shopping, closely monitored by Scamp.

It took us most of our time to find a place to park in Buchanan Galleries car park. We were up in level 6 for the first time in ages, that’s nosebleed territory. Even then, it was my eagle eye that spotted a hidden space. After that we walked down through George Square and down Queen Street, then on to Argyle Street. Coffee in Nero with a toastie for me and a slice of Cappuccino cake for Scamp. From there it was a short walk to Blackfriars.

Jive was good. We were the experts today. It’s always good to be the experts for a day, but you have to realise that there’s only one way to go after that, and it’s down. However we basked in the glow of Michael’s praise for an hour and it was good to see the jealousy of the other dancers. Waltz, it was even better. Finally, we had a quick introduction to the ‘Running Step’ in Quickstep. Good fun. It’s a great feeling when a plan comes together as Hannibal used to say.

On the way back I managed to grab a couple of shots of a Royal Mail Festive Post Box. I hadn’t noticed it on the way down to dancing, but Scamp had. It’s a great idea. I applaud the RM for brightening up the place. The festive post box got PoD.

Tonight after one of Scamp’s best ’Stir Fries’ we left for Salsa and had an enjoyable hour and a half of jigging. No new moves, but we did get a chance to reprise Prado.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Val in the afternoon. Don’t know what’s happening for the rest of the day.

The wanderer returns – 10 December 2018

Scamp was on the road this morning on the return journey from Blackpool.

I was on the road even earlier, but I was walking. Just a gentle stroll around St Mo’s ponds then a walk through the trees. I’d been up earlier to check the traps and found I’d got one rodent. I thought at first it was a mouse, but later realised it was probably a small rat. Either way, it wasn’t going anywhere so I left it to go and get some photos in the hoar frost that lay over everything. Some beautiful lighting at that time in the morning. It was one of those shots that made PoD.

Finished my walk by going in to Condorrat to get bread and a couple of rolls. One of the latter would be eaten with butter and jam, washed down with a cup of my new blend 2 parts Cuban and 1 part Kenyan beans. Count the air miles and therefore the amount of CO2 that has been spread across the world all because of my desire to drink coffee. It’s worth it.
The other roll would hold a medium-rare square sausage. So called because it’s square and it’s made of sausage meat. Clever use of language there.

After my coffee and the roll ’n’ jam, I disposed of the rodent in the trap and nearly lost a finger resetting the trap. Checked the other traps, but they were empty. Next I set to work on cutting and laying the new carpet tiles in the downstairs toilet. As usual with these things, I started out very slowly and deliberately, and finished by cutting corners, literally. You’d never tell. Strangely only one of the six tiles had its nap running the wrong way. It looks good, so good that Scamp didn’t even notice that it had been done. Not surprising as the colour of the tiles is remarkably close to the original. It’s only when you walk on the new tiles you realise the quality is much better than the thin tiles that are now in the boot of the car, ready to be taken to the dump. I think I earned that medium-rare square sausage on a well-fired roll.

Scamp eventually returned about 4pm and after dinner we went out to Salsa where we learned or for us, re-learned an old move: Setenta Batman. One of the moves which look impossible until you actually try it. Jamie G described part of it as a “Matrix style turn”. I agree, but I can do it.

Tomorrow, a lazy day, maybe a bit less cold than today, but today was much less cold than a year ago. Go look here!

Avoiding the Christmas party – 3 December 2018

Today, being Scamp’s Gems Christmas party, I had already made plans to avoid it.

The day began around 8.30 when worries started demolishing next door’s bathroom. By the noise, I thought there was a whole squad of them with sledgehammers and maybe a small JCB, but there were only two and they must have been working on piecework by the look of things. Toilet, wash hand basin and loads of pipe work littered the garden. I’d say it was the noise that got us up, but we too had work to do. The preparations for the party wouldn’t fix themselves.

Most of the work was down to Scamp, but I did help with the tidying up, even to the extent of Dysonning the living room and the downstairs hall. Between us we increased the size of the table by inserting an additional leaf. I carried the iMac upstairs and cleared away more of the clutter. Finally, when Scamp went to collect Margie, I made myself scarce and drove in to Glasgow.

My first stop was Tiso to see what they had in the way of waterproof boots. My two or three year old Clarks Goretex boots simply aren’t doing the job any more. Last week I returned home with two wet feet after a less than demanding walk across some boggy fields. I think I need to put the old boots out to pasture and buy a new pair of good walking boots. In Tiso I spoke to a really helpful Latvian sales girl (I couldn’t place her accent, so I had to ask her) who explained the difference between fabric boots and leather ones. Yes, I know it’s obvious, but she explained the science part. That the water in boggy areas is acid and it rots the fabric, but more importantly the thread that holds the boots together. Leather boots have less parts, so less thread. It may be nonsense, but it sounded logical. Once I’ve looked around and seen what’s on offer elsewhere I’ll start trying some on.

Next I wandered round Glasgow’s Winter Wonderland. Well, it was Winter and I was Wondering where all these people were going. The town was mobbed and it was a Monday and just at the start of December too. Gave up eventually and drove home, but not before I got today’s PoD which is almost a panorama of the Glasgow skyline.

Salsa tonight was interesting, but the 7.30 class is getting smaller, much smaller. I fear for its survival. We danced one new one without a name and one called Pan Cortado which sounds like a mixture of a dessert and a coffee drink. Not sure if he’s got it quite right.

Tomorrow we are waiting for the ‘Rat Man’ to come, although with all the banging and drilling with next door’s new bathroom, I think the rodent will have packed its bags and gone somewhere quiet.

A blusterous day – 28 November 2018

That’s what Pooh called it. We call it a Scottish winter.

It was just a wee bit wet when we woke, but soon Storm Dorothy made its presence felt. Now Storm Dorothy was named by the Portuguese weather forecasters. I may be wrong, but I don’t think ‘Dorothy’ is a typical Portuguese name. Like I say, I could be wrong, but it just doesn’t have that Iberian feel to it. Anyway, that aside, Storm Dorothy was rolling in and by the time we were walking down through Santa’s Wonderland that used to be George Square in Glasgow on our way to dance class, it was beginning to get quite blowy and the rain was ferocious too.

We had a private lesson today because we were the only ones at our level in the Jive class. That meant Michael could focus his laser-like gaze on all of our mistakes, and there were a few of them. We went over the Seven Spins and learned all the little nuances we hadn’t noticed before. Waltz was similar, but finally I think I have sorted out the second part of the routine. It’s taken months, but it’s becoming clearer. I just hope we get some time to practise before next week and I can definitely clarify it in my head. By the end of the class my knee was really sore and it’s still sore tonight. It’s all to do with having to twist on my left leg twice to perform the double turn. It does work, in that it puts us both in the correct position at the correct time to go on to the promenade. It’s just puts a big twist on my knee.

Walked back up to the car park and although the rain was not as heavy, the wind, if anything was getting stronger. It didn’t stop me from getting the PoD, taken from a bus shelter looking over to a roundabout on George Square. I liked the warm colours and the movement in the horses on the roundabout.

We made the decision on the way home NOT to go to Salsa class tonight. My knee was too sore and the combination of wind and rain would make driving miserable. Shannon will probably think we are in the huff after Monday night. Let her think that!

Tomorrow, Scamp is going in to Glasgow herself, probably to go on the Big Wheel in the wind, and I’m meeting Fred for coffee.

Watching the Airies – 18 November 2018

Out through the hotel gate getting the code right this time. Just in case you ever need it, it’s C2018Y and turn the handle anticlockwise! Then we walked left for a mile or so to watch the airies taking off or landing under cloudy skies.

It rained halfway there and we took shelter in a shopping arcade we’d never been in before. It was a bit ramshackle and had a pub called The Horseshoe Bar! Not the elegant Victorian edifice in Drury Street in Glasgow, although it might have been, we’ll never know because we didn’t go in as the rain shower was over. Saw an interesting shot of a lifeguard’s hut against a gloomy sky. It became PoD.

At the airies, Scamp heard one know-all telling anyone who’d listen that half of the planes were ‘aborting’ their takeoff. What they were doing was landing and using reverse thrust to slow down. Bampot!

It wasn’t a very interesting day at the end of the airport runway. There was a cooling breeze, there was the threat of more rain and the airies were taking off over our heads. It’s much more interesting when you see them coming in towards you from over the water. Or maybe that’s just me. Actually the rain didn’t come, but it was cloudy.

After lunch Scamp went to read by the pool. I took a walk over the lava rocks, but there was little to see apart from cactus plants.

Went to Lotto Dance at night. Didn’t win a star prize … or any prize. The idea was for the group to play some music to dance to. Anyone who got up to dance and lasted to the end of the song got a lotto ticket. At the end of the night, the winning lotto tickets were drawn and prizes were won. Good fun.

Kong Bao & Pineapple Chicken–17 November 2018

P1050667-1After breakfast we walked in to town.  The town in question today was Puerto del Carmen.

It was a fairly pleasant walk in to the town. Past the Crazy Golf course which used to have tumbleweed growing on it.  No tumbleweed today,  but still in disrepair.  No sign of it opening any year soon.

Further along the road we passed the chain link fence with the inevitable padlocks.  Hundreds of padlocks.  I’ve a theory it’s the shops that sell the padlocks who put up the chain link fences.  An even more efficient use of the padlock craze is to put steel bars along the back of the bench seating by the side of the road.  This also attracts hundreds of padlocks, but by the simple removal of a nut at the end of the bar, the padlocks can be slid into the sea at night, thus ensuring a never ending source of income for the sellers of the padlocks.  However, it’s only a matter of time before David Attenborough’s next nature program highlights the dangers to sealife caused by these rusting padlocks in our coastal waters.

P1050671Saw this neat little beach buggy just leaving a pub on the front.  I thought at first it was a Smart Car, but now I’m not so sure.  Engine sounded like it was air cooled and maybe even a two stroke, but the radiator grille gives a lie to that theory.  A neat car, but I wonder how comfortable it would be in the snow and ice?  Maybe it’s never even seen snow and ice!

Yet further along on our walk we passed today’s objective, the Chinese restaurant.  THE best Kong Bao Chicken and Pineapple Chicken we’ve each had.  With the certainty that our lunch was going to be available we went and watched what appeared to be a Frisbee Football tournament with about ten pitches set out on the sandy beach.  Its proper name is Ultimate.  Who knew that such a thing existed?  We tried for a drink in a beachside cafe, but it appeared the service was really terrible and the wind was gusting along the beach, so we gave up.  Scamp got a new fan in a posh shop and then we went and enjoyed our chicken lunch, with Scamp’s Pineapple Chicken being served from a real pineapple and my Kong Bao served in a searingly hot platter.  While we were in the restaurant the wind started dragging some rain along the street, but although the sliding windows were partly open we didn’t get wet.

By the time we were leaving the restaurant, the rain was off and we walked back towards the hotel.  We did think of getting a taxi, but weren’t sure how long it would take as all the roads seem to be one-way, which makes navigating it difficult, and probably quicker to walk.  It rained a bit more on and off as we made our way back and by the time we got to the hotel it was beginning to rain properly.  We sat in the covered areas with the flame heaters on.

At night we watched the Hollywood Show which was quite well choreographed.  It was even better when you’d had a couple of whiskies on ice.  Later a couple were singing and playing keyboards.  We danced Salsa, Jive and even Bachata to anything they would play.

Staggered home around 11.30.

Tomorrow we may go out to watch the airies.