IMG_4436- blog

Ice is not nice – 14 December 2017

An icy morning. Jac’s taxi didn’t come, so I volunteered to drive her to the station.

It wasn’t all that cold, but it had snowed during the night and the snow had melted, then frozen again and now that ice was melting, on the surface at least and that meant it was treacherous. The Juke performed perfectly, I couldn’t fault it. Unfortunately there was a queue of traffic heading along towards St Mo’s taking the children who can’t walk if it’s cold, or windy, or wet, or dry, or too hot, or too tired, or .. well, you get the picture. I turned at the roundabout and took the longer, but much quicker way round the back of Blackwood and then through the new estates to the station. Got there with plenty of time for Jac to catch the train (the next train, that is). Came home the same way because, although the queue was shorter, it was still there and resolutely not moving. Walked back from the car and that was when I found out just how slippery the surface was. Slid all the way down the short slope to the house. Didn’t fall, luckily, but Scamp decided it would help other folk if I spread some chippings on the path. Such a simple solution and it worked.

After lunch Scamp parceled up the Christmas parcels for JIC and Sim and I took them to be posted at Tesco. Got that completed and stopped off at St Mo’s to take some foties. Liked the shot through the trees also liked the shot of the swan attempting a tricky landing on ice, but decided the trees won PoD. The rest were good, but not great. I was better prepared for the ice this time with a pair of walking boots, real ones, not Clarks flashy looking, but ultimately useless Goretex ones. The ice was melting in the areas the late sun was reaching, but as I was leaving I could see thin icy fingers stretching out across the puddles. (Oh dear, I came over all ‘Nigella’ there!)

Later in the afternoon I finished last week’s Zentangle doodle. I thought these things were beneath me, but they are more difficult than they look. You need a good eye and a steady hand to produce the accurate linework.

That was about it for the day. The highlight of the day was going to Tesco. Some days are like that.

Tomorrow, I may be joining Scamp for a coffee with Shona!

IMG_4436- blog

Slipped the Leash – 13 December 2017

This morning, Scamp and her sister were off into town. I had a chance to slip the leash.

Ended up doing a bit of sketching and pastel drawing, but nothing serious enough to be considered for public viewing. I also made some yogurt, repaired a bit of the kitchen ceiling and finished off an iron-on transfer for a tee shirt.  Eventually, after lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s and just missed the last of the good light. What I did find was a quadricopter drone stuck up a tree. After a bit of work energetically throwing chunks of branches at it, it finally dropped to earth. It really was in a sorry state, but it did have a camera and after a bit of examination, I extracted the micro SD card. Like the rest of the drone it was fairly well corroded, but with some careful scraping with a scalpel, the contacts were clean enough to download the video of its last flight, all 2.5minutes of it. It’s not the best resolution, but it does show the dangers of flying too close to tall pine trees!

My one decent photo from the day and my PoD was entitled “Slipped the Leash” on Flickr. Quite fitting.

Tonight Scamp, Jackie and I drove down to Bombay Dreams for dinner with June and Ian. Our combo starter was enormous and while others less used to the size of the restaurant’s portions were eating their way through it, Scamp and I were more careful. Mains were also their usual size and just as tasty as always. Entertainment was provided by the two twin waiters. One serious, the other telling jokes with such a deadpan expression you wondered if it was a joke at all. All this while snow was falling outside. This was the first expedition in the snow in the Juke and it performed perfectly. It even climbed the hill to the house without a single grumble. Nice car.

Jackie heads to Embra tomorrow and depending on the weather we may go to Stirling.

IMG_4436- blog

The end of the ice age – 12 December 2017

Woke up to -5.5ºc, but my weather app said it would rain by 2.30pm. Nah, I don’t think so, somehow.

Spent most of the morning clearing up the back bedroom for Jackie. You might not think so to look at it, but you didn’t see it before I started!

After lunch I drove in to Glasgow to BUY STUFF. It didn’t really matter what I was buying, I just had to BUY STUFF. Well, that’s the way it felt until I realised I’d just had a near miss with the Xmas shopping bug and decided to be a bit more pragmatic. While I was driving in the rain started, just after the predicted time of 2.30pm and walking down Bucky Street in the rain, yesterday’s Christmas Card feel completely disappeared. This was back to business as usual. After managing to get all the things I’d come for (and a few more), I met up with Jackie off her bus from Skye and we drove home still in the rain.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Thighs with Leeks and Petit Pois (peas to you), from a Nigella. It was full of the gorgeous grains of green from the peas and the subtle mild onionniness of the leeks, but mainly the golden goodness of the chicken thighs. There, that’s a better description in Nigella language!

Today’s PoD is of the reflections in Exchange Square in Glasgow.

Tomorrow, it looks like there may be some snow in the forecast. I think I may be pastel painting while the sisters hit the ‘Toon’.

IMG_4436- blog

Walking in a Christmas Card – 11 December 2017

Today started early, too early.

I switched off the alarm before it rang at 7.30am. A quick breakfast, dressed and out to defrost and warm up the car (it was -7ºc), then we were off into Glasgow for Scamp’s second routine hospital appointment in two weeks. There were warning signs on the motorway that things weren’t good ahead. Speed restriction signs set for 40mph. That usually means a serious bit of congestion ahead. There was serious congestion, six miles of it at just at under 10mph. I decided on a change of direction. If I left at the Stepps slip, I could circumvent the congestion and go through the outskirts of Kirkintilloch. Bad move. As soon as I left the 10mph motorway, the slip road ground to a halt and the motorway speeded up, but it was too late to change my mind, the die was cast. Not to worry, we’d plenty of time in hand for such contingencies. Eventually reached the roundabout and headed for Kirkintilloch, then I saw the queue on that road and the blue flashing lights at the head of the queue. That explained the congestion. There was an accident at the next roundabout and it looked as if everyone was heading back on to the motorway we’d just left. There was nothing for it but to rejoin the queue on the motorway and follow the sat nav. After about fifteen minutes of ‘taking the second exit’ and ‘turning left in 200yards’, the computerized voice proudly announced, “You have reached your destination” which was a dead end next to a boarded up shop with two dead cars parked outside. Shouting “Oh no it’s not” didn’t seem to help, so I did what I usually do and followed my nose for about 100yds and found the sign directing us to the hospital. Got there with time to spare and it looked like everyone else had been held up too, because we sat in the waiting room for another half an hour or so. Scamp got seen and told everything is ok, come back in six months. After a cup of coffee and a scone, we made our way home. This time the sat nav took a totally different route, through the outskirts of Glasgow and we were were home in less than 20 mins.

Next thing to do was get the room sorted for Gems Christmas party, then I volunteered to go and collect Margie while Scamp prepared the food. I then vamoosed to get some photos. I drove to Auchinstarry and walked the canal. It really was like walking inside a Christmas card. Everywhere was white and clean looking. It was cold too, but I was wrapped up well, with hat, gloves, scarf and fleece lined Bergy jacket, but I could still feel that dry cold you get on really frosty days. I’m not sure what my PoD is. I think it might be the tilted Christmas tree, which is really a frosted piece of reed poking out of the ice on the flooded Auchinstarry quarry. Decided I couldn’t hang around too long, because Scamp wanted me back for 3.30pm to take Margie back home. Managed that with a few minutes to spare.

Salsa tonight was good, mainly because we only had one new (impossible) move. The exercise was good.

Tomorrow I think I’m going in to Glasgow in the afternoon. Certainly don’t plan an early rise!

IMG_4436- blog

The Big Freeze – 10 December 2017

We woke to a temperature of -6ºc which was cold, but no snow and some areas of the country were much harder hit than us.

After lunch I went out to get a mouse trap, because something has been eating its way into the bag with the birds peanuts and I don’t think there are any birds in the house. On the way back I parked at the station and went for a walk along the Luggie Water. Not much actual water, but a lot of ice. Got some nice shots of icicles hanging in front of the wee falls upstream a bit from my usual walk. That made PoD. There wasn’t much else to shoot, although I’m always tempted by the contre-jour shots of hoar frost on the weeds.

We were dining out in La Rambla in Paisley before the salsa. Food was good, but the service was just too slow. The waiters never seem to know where food is going and it becomes a bit of a free for all. Dancing was organized by Shannon and it was very enjoyable. Just like last week, I danced almost non-stop for about two hours. Good fun.

The heater in the car is quite excellent and tonight, coming home it was actually too warm and I had to turn it down. Pity we don’t have heated front seats and heated steering wheels though. That would be the ultimate luxury! 😉

Early bed tonight, because we’re up and out early tomorrow morning and since it’s -6.9ºc just now, I think I’ll be scraping the car in the morning.

IMG_4436- blog

Having a Ball – 3 December 2017

Today was the Salsa Ball. Everything else paled into insignificance before this great annual event.

I did get out for an hour in St Mo’s in the afternoon, but the light was poor and fairly flat, so it wasn’t conducive to interesting textures or anything really. I did find a wee hibernating ladybird on an ash tree, never seen that before. PoD became the ‘looking down view’ of the Cladonia lichen. They look so alien, especially from this viewpoint.

Dinner tonight was a re-heated curry from last night and like second-day soup, tasted even better than it did the day before.

I’d decided to drive in to Glasgow and park directly across from the Classic Grand in the Q Park in Jamaica Street. Unfortunately the satnav couldn’t find a way in to it and kept trying to make me drive the wrong way down one-way streets. I eventually found another 24 hour Q Park, not far from Jamaica Street.

The starting time for the Ball was 8pm, but we were told the doors would be open at 7.45. When we got there, the queue outside told us that Shannon had got it wrong. Actually, it was the Classic that had it wrong, some of their staff hadn’t turned up and to be fair, it was Shannon who stepped in and took the tickets at the door. The place was mobbed! There was a bachata lesson before the dancing proper started, but there were so many folk on the floor, you couldn’t see what was going on. I think we have it on video, and Scamp liked the moves, so we may add them to our ‘repertoire’. After the bachata, Jamie Gal tried to do a glow-stick rueda, but it ended up a total shambles. There were meant to be two concentric ruedas, but it just ended as a ‘rammy’. After that it was social dancing. I got told off by Grant’s wife for not dancing with Scamp! I was just so much in demand, you see by all the beginners!!  Overall it was good, but not as good as last year.

I finally threw in the towel about 11pm. I was exhausted and my list of moves was exhausted too. Walked back to the car and found that we only had to pay £7 for the night’s parking. That’s a lot better than I had expected and a great deal more convenient than waiting for a taxi home. Ok, I didn’t get to have a drink, but neither of us usually have a drink when we’re out dancing.

As you will probably have guessed, this blog entry was written after the event, on ‘the day after the day before’ as Jaime said after the wedding in Trinidad. So ‘today’ will be a fairly restful Monday hopefully with more dancing in class tonight.

IMG_4436- blog

Many Hands – 2 December 2017

Well, we could have gone to Embra today if we could have been bothered to get up and go, but we didn’t. Just as well, as Hazy said she wanted to Skype which is her prerogative, it being her birthday and we both sang the compulsory “Happy Birthday” to her which made her laugh, as it always does.  Hope you had a lovely day Hazy.

Afterwards, we drove to Kilsyth to go to Lidl for sweeties and things for Scamp’s Gems party and for her Witches party. I bumped into Mrs Gough who used to teach at Cumby High. Hard to believe that she left 15 years ago! Made me feel like a youngster. Next on the list was Home Bargains to pick up a toy each for the collection at the Salsa Ball tomorrow night, along with more sweeties and things for …

I suggested we go to B&Q in Bishopbriggs to look at floor lamps, because I’d seen some there during the week that looked fairly reasonable. Scamp crossed the road in the carpark and I, close behind nearly got flattened by a crazy old woman driving at breakneck speed in light grey car. She was obviously on a mission. If I’d got her number she would not only have been on a mission, she’d have been on a charge too. Geriatrics should stick to mobility scooters and zimmers, not real cars. At least, not until they pass the test.  None of the lights were deemed suitable, so we came home, once my heart rate had returned to normal.

Couldn’t be bothered going out to take photos when we got home because the light was already fading. What we did do later was order dinner from Bombay Dreams and it was the usual great quality and enormous portions, so it will be waiting for us for lunch tomorrow.

Many hands make light work, or so the Weemen discovered in today’s PoD. Unfortunately our light didn’t work, because we didn’t get one at B&Q. Maybe there is a lamp somewhere that will suit Scamp, but I don’t hold out much hope of finding it any time soon.

IMG_4436- blog

George – 30 November 2017

Today I was what Billy Connolly called “George, my faithful roadie.”

Scamp had a gig in Cumbernauld and had to take the keyboard, stand, music stand, music and assorted bits and pieces. Although they will, and often have fitted in the micra, I decided to drive and use the extra space of the Juke. Amazingly good planning by the Nissan designers ensured that when you fold down the rear 1/3 seat, the keyboard slides in perfectly because the seat folds level with the boot lid. Such good thinking. When we got to the venue there was a space that I’d never have attempted parking in before, but with the magic of the parking camera it was simplicity itself. Unfortunately when I drove them back from the gig I found that the headlight was fogged halfway up the lens. Not what you expect in a new car. I phoned the garage on another matter and asked about the fogged light. The bloke I spoke to in servicing seemed nonplussed by that and started to explain to me what condensation was. More like condescension than condensation. I cut him short and explained that I did know what condensation was, but I wanted to know why I was getting it in my car. He told me that a lot of Nissan cars had that. He didn’t say suffered from that, but I heard the ghost of that phrase under his breath. He even said that his MERCEDES had it. Scamp then mouthed “My Nissan doesn’t have it”. He eventually gave up trying to baffle me with science and impress me that he could afford a Merc and suggested I bring it in so they could ‘have a look at it’. Probably that’s all they will do. They will look at it for a while and see if it will do anything, then tell me there’s nothing wrong with it. I’ve been to garages before. I’ve even survived Arnold Clark. I’m not going to be put off by Western Nissan.

On the way home from the gig, I was watching the sky as there was a lovely sunset building. We took a detour round the back of Condorrat and Mollinsburn to the top of the Whin Edge Brae and got some pretty looking silhouettes with the sunset in the background. That made PoD.

Tomorrow looks cold and clear again and I’ve got coffee booked with Val and Fred. May go floor lamp hunting in the morning. That’s Scamp and me, not Fred, Val and me, just incase you were confused there!

IMG_4436- blog

Perf – 21 November 2017

Today we thought we’d go to Perf or to give it its proper name Perth.

Now we had to decide whether to:

  • Train (costs £20 have to chance getting a space in Croy station carpark and have to change trains at a cold platform in Stirling, going and coming.)

  • Bus (Free, but then we’ve got to wait in the cold at Castle Greyskull AKA Cumbersheugh town centre and there’s only one bus an hour back from Perf, except when you actually want to come home and then there’s none that hour. How do they know when I want to come home?)

  • Drive (Petrol costs, not very relaxing and the weather is going to be tricky, but we can come home when we want and it’s comfortable – no hanging about waiting for public transport.)

No contest, we’re driving.

We were just getting ready to go when the big yellow cooncil lorry arrived and two blokes carted the three seater settee away in it. Good, one down, one to go. The weather was just miserable leaving Cumbersheugh, but it gradually got worse as we climbed up the A9 towards Perth. On the high level parts of the road we were essentially in the clouds and it felt like it with poor visibility, although a few drivers of small builders’ lorries apparently had radar fitted which allowed them to see further ahead than most of us. The benefit of this is that they didn’t have to use lights at all. Brilliant. I must look into this innovation in driving safety.

Arrived in Perth and it was simply dreich and dismal. Coffee first, then a wander round the shops. For me that meant the Waterstones and Oxfam bookshops. Got a couple of books in the Oxfam shop, but everything in Waterstones was at Christmas prices, so no good deals there. Next we went to get coffee and tea, the main reason for going to Perth in the first place. Couldn’t decide where to go for lunch and finally settled on The George for Fish & Chips with breaded haddock instead of battered. That done we walked back to the car which was at the other end of the town and got a pleasant surprise. The ticket machine was out of order at the booth, so the bloke told us we would only be charged a quid instead of the four quid we expected. Result!

Drove back down the road in worsening conditions after a quick fruitless visit to Morrisons to see if they had any St Peter’s Plum Porter – they didn’t. It wasn’t really fruitless, we did get some Russet apples, so we got some fruit!

Managed a few photos with the Teazer. PoD was the statue in the main street in Perth with his trendy Christmas scarf.

Also managed a watercolour painting from a photo taken at The Smiddy on Saturday

Tomorrow we’ve got nothing planned. May or may not go to Salsa as it’s only one beginners class, but the likelihood is that we’ll go.

IMG_4436- blog

Deep and Crisp and Even – 19 November 2017

It was a lovely frosty morning (-1ºc) with bright sunshine, so I decided to get up (fairly) early and go out to source some photos in St Mo’s.

Scamp then noticed that Hazy had phoned yesterday when we were out and because we hadn’t checked the phone when we got in, we hadn’t phoned her back. So she warned me that she was going to check if Hazy was free for the return call. I told her I had my phone with me and to text me if she was up for a call back. I’d got a couple of photos which you can see above and was just walking into the woods to see if there were any photogenic deer available when my phone vibrated to tell me that Hazy was indeed on the phone. I about turned and retraced my steps back to the house and had a chat with Hazy. After comparing notes on books we’d read, she went to rest and I went for a coffee.

From then on the temperature rose just enough to take away the frost without providing a comfortable temperature for a walk. As a result, after lunch I got a sketch done for my one-a-week personal challenge and started planning the Keyboard Maestro macro that would allow me to automate the playlist creation for the car player. I didn’t get far with that, but at least I did get the sketch done.

We headed out to Glasgow for the Sunday Social at Arta and decided to park in JL carpark rather than try for an on-street space near Arta itself. The reason was that tonight was the switch on for the Christmas lights and I just knew parking would be at a premium. Got parked easily in JL which was a surprise, but the crowds around George Square were much more than we had anticipated. Added to the fact that anti-terrorist blockades had been erected around the square, it took us ages to get down through the city to the venue.

Arta itself was quite quiet until just after the switch-on, then it livened up a bit. We left earlier than we’d intended, hoping to avoid most of the crowds, but came out just as the fireworks display started. Once we were on Buchanan Street and the fireworks had ended, the crowds (estimated at 20,000) were streaming out and heading for the carparks and the bus station. Got through without too much pushing and shoving and emerged onto Dundas Street from the carpark without too much problem. One punter was a bit annoyed that I actually wanted to drive my car out of the carpark and onto the road. He seemed to think he had right of way and could walk in front of me. A quick “Fuck Off” informed him of the error of this assumption. Got home in double quick time after that.

A dull, dreary, grey day with nothing much to recommend it apart from a walk in the frosty air and a phone conversation with Hazy this morning. Oh yes, and the dancing was good too. PoD was the frozen cow parsley.

Tomorrow is Monday with all the timetable that entails. It’s 4.5ºc just now and raining, so not much chance of a frosty walk tomorrow.