Watching the scenery go by – 20 February 2019

Scamp offered to drive into Glasgow and I readily accepted.

We drove in to Glasgow today with Scamp at the wheel in her own car. The automatic board told us there were 100 spaces in the Concert Hall carpark, however two minutes later when we tried to enter the carpark, the machine at the gate said “CARPARK FULL”. I realise that the automatic sign may not be entirely accurate, but mistaking 100 cars for spaces means it should have gone to Specsavers. We were not amused. However, we soon found a space that Scamp’s wee car could squeeze into. Luckily it is quite small, because so was that space. It’s nice being a passenger, occasionally.

Walked down to Blackfriars under lightening skies and grabbed today’s PoD in Royal Exchange Square. It was lunch time and all the ravenous office workers were piling through the arches looking for food. That one bloke seemed singleminded in his pursuit of his sandwiches.

Jive was good. We went over the Seven Spins, Ladles, The StepOver and finished with the Tangles. I thought it was Tango, but it was indeed Tangles. That took up most of the hour, then we did a quick run through of the beginning of the Rumba and the Cha-Cha, before we did a quick practise of the Quickstep. Busy, busy lesson today, but worthwhile.

Coffee in Nero to recap on what we’d learned then home again. I had to keep my mouth shut when I thought that Scamp had taken the wrong turning, it’s just that her route on to the motorway is different from mine. Not faster, not slower, just different.

Dinner was out of the freezer for me. A stew I’d made back in October last year. It tasted fine. Scamp had fish.

Worked through a pen sketch for 28 Drawings Later before we went out to salsa and that’s what you see here. It’s two glass spice jars. One rectangular and one square. I like it. I’d tried to use thick and thin lines. Thick lines go round the outside and thin ones are in the inside. It’s more complicated than that, but you get the idea.


Rangers were playing at home tonight and, at times, it looked as if the supporters had decided to park on the motorway and walk to Ibrox. The traffic was hardly moving. However we got to STUC only 15 minutes late. Unfortunately, there were too many men, so I sat out the first class and joined in with the second. Quite enjoyed the second.

That’s it for today, a bit rushed, but it’s late and I want to get this posted, plus after it’s on the InterWeb I’m going to update yesterday’s post with (corrected) details of yesterday’s food extravaganza. * Now completed *

Tomorrow morning is free then I’m meeting the guys for coffee in the afternoon.

An hour in the Toon – 14 February 2019 ♡

Actually less than an hour according to the parking machine in Cowcaddens.

Scamp was off to meet Isobel for coffee this morning, so I was free to do anything I wanted. What I ended up doing was tidying up the back bedroom even more. Scamp had left me two Creme Eggs as a Valentine’s prezzy! I had that with a coffee while I tried today’s medium Sudoku. When she came back the clouds had rolled in and it wasn’t looking like a day for going to Mugdock or anywhere else of that ilk. I had lunch and afterwards decided I’d go out somewhere to take some foties. My first choice was Haggs, down by the canal at Haggs to be more precise. I was halfway there when I made the decision that there was no point, because you really need good light for landscape, and the light was poor. So I turned back and pointed the Juke at the carpark for the Luggie. Maybe a walk down the Luggie would work. After I’d parked I reconsidered. I wanted to go and look for drawing ink in a new shop I’d found near Cowcaddens underground. I couldn’t go tomorrow, weekends are alway accounted for, so what about Monday. Nope, Monday is too busy as it is and Tuesday is accounted for. It’s in the wrong end of Sausageroll Street for a Wednesday detour, and next Thursday is coffee with the boys. Why don’t I just go today and hope to get some foties in town. Sorted. Turned round and drove into Glasgow.

Parked at Cowcaddens and walked round the disaster that is the Art School (how much does even the scaffolding cost?) Finally arriving at the Paint & Mortar shop that sells graphics stuff to students at the GSA (Glasgow School of Art), but is perfectly happy to take money from ordinary punters too. Two very helpful sales staff told me that they didn’t have the ink I was looking for. All their drawing ink had a shellac base which will completely destroy a normal fountain pen in about a week. I used to have an old Osmiroid fountain pen when I was an apprentice draughtsman. It’s the only fountain pen that would survive being filled with shellac based Indian ink. You can’t get them anymore.

I walked back to the car and grabbed a few shots in the soft light that had appeared after the clouds had broken up. One of them made PoD after a bit of post-processing in Lightroom. I was quite pleased with the effect. Put my ticket in the parking machine and I’d used less than an hour of time. Had a walk, clarified what ink I needed and got a couple of photos all in less than 60mins!

Came home and after manipulating the image, I got stuck into making some pakora using a new recipe I’d found on YouTube. Mercifully it worked because there was a fair bit of prep needed. It still needs a bit more work, but the basis is there now. Scamp agreed that it tastes a lot better than that first recipe. Dinner tonight was a curry from ASDA and we both agreed it better than the Tesco version.

Watched the Sewing Bee tonight while I copied one of Tuesday’s photos of Scamp’s Christmas Rose. Not entirely satisfied with with it, but it’s not too bad. Halfway through the 28 Drawings already. How time flies.  I don’t know how those people in the GBSB can take an old pair of jeans and make a dress out of it without a pattern.  I think I’m doing well if I can repair a pocket.  Making a bow tie is the limit of my abilities.  Maybe I will start that waistcoat this year.

Don’t have any plans for tomorrow. Weather fairies seem to think it’s going to be good, but they said that about today and although it did eventually brighten up, it took it’s own sweet time about it. Still, probably go somewhere nice.

Dancing in the afternoon – 6 February 2019

Not dancing all the day, just dancing.

Drove in to Blackfriars and ‘wasted time’ taking a picture of the building above while we walked down from the carpark. Every time I’ve passed the Ingram Square Building in the Merchant City I’ve liked it and wanted to photograph it, but the lighting had to be just right. It was today. I particularly like the angled turret at the top and the reflections from windows across Ingram Street. At the class we got an extra ten minutes practise. Our Jive moves today were Baskets, Step Over and Ladles. That will probably be gobbledegook to most of you, but it will act as a reminder for us, hopefully, next week. Waltz was getting a lot better according to Michael, but we didn’t do anything new. We didn’t really get any Quickstep done because I wasn’t feeling too good and we left early, just five or ten minutes early.

Why is it, when you’re in a hurry, that’s when the motorway jams up. That’s what happened today. Just about to join the M8 going home and everything ground to a halt. It turned out to be a three vehicle accident spread across the two exit lanes for Stirling. Luckily it didn’t close of the entire length of the exit lanes and we found our way back on in the great snaking line of cars and vans who were also Stirling bound.

Dinner tonight was the remainder of the chilli and Scamp was back to home food with a baked potato and tuna. Dessert was an excellent Neapolitan Choc Ice each from Tesco, where else!

Doodled a sketch of a horribly difficult Sudoku grid and that is my sketch for 28 Drawings Later. Not as detailed as some and not as colourful, but it fulfils the two requirements:  Done and On Time.

Tomorrow, hopefully a lazy morning to prepare us for a busy afternoon.

Up and out at stupid o’clock – 5 February 2019

I’d forgotten that 7.30AM existed. I used to be out the door and on my way to work at that time. That was just over four years ago and you tend to remember the good times and ignore the bad. 7.30AM was one of the bad times. Defrosted the car and picked up Scamp to take her to the train station. Her and half of Cumbersheugh seemed to on the way to the station at Croy this morning. Dropped her at the ticket office and drove off to park and walked back to check that she had caught the train. The train was already at the station by the time I got there, but I saw that familiar red hat on a person that was sitting in a seat. There’s only one hat like that in the world, Hazy!

With her safely on the first stage of her journey to Inverness to meet her sister, I drove home, had my breakfast, read my emails and went back to bed for an hour. I should have gone out and photographed that beautiful dawn sky before I went to bed, but I didn’t and I so regret it now.

When I got up for the second time today it was lunchtime and I had the last ladleful of my soup, then I went out to get a PoD under a much different sky. The clouds were Scottish Grey and as I walked to the car, the rain started. I drove down to the Luggie Water and found the snowdrops which were now blooming nicely. Using my glove as a cushion for the Oly and a Moleskine notebook as a wee tent to protect the lens from rain I grabbed half a dozen shots at various distances and quickly checked them to make sure they’d all worked and they had.

Back home, processed the photos and made my dinner which was chilli con CARNE, because Scamp would be having a posh lunch in Inverness, so I could have a meat dinner tonight. Dumped the chilli into the slow cooker and left it for an hour or two, plenty time to get my sketch of the day done. Today it was to be two oranges, a pear and an apple. I made the mistake of having four items in the sketch. Every beginner know you should always group odd numbered items. It was the apple that went wrong. If anyone asks me about it, I’ll just say that the apple was old and was getting a bruise at the bottom. I liked the oranges and the pear. Unfortunately you can’t clone out mistakes on a watercolour.

Scamp sent a text to say she was just passing Stirling Castle about 8.30pm and I got ready to drive in to Glasgow. Picked her up just after 9pm after doing a detour because the motorway was being repaired.

Tomorrow it’s Dancing day. Hopefully it will be Blackfriars in the afternoon and STUC salsa at night. Chilli was fine, but just a little too mild.

No drops today mum – 28 January 2019

The big event today was getting my annual retinopathy scan.

Once upon a time many years ago the doc told me I had high blood pressure and it needed to be dealt with. You know those special deals you get in the supermarket, three for the price of one? Well, he talked me into getting three for the price of one. As well as high blood pressure, I’d get high cholesterol and diabetes too. Admittedly, in one blood test the sugar level in my blood was elevated, but that was because I was addicted to cheap sweeties at the time. Next blood test was back to normal, but the medical profession is dogged. No, you’re still diabetic. I told them I wasn’t diabetic and took all their tests which proved that I was right. Well, you may not be diabetic, but you are pre-diabetic. There is no way to beat them. As soon as you reach 50 you get given the trilogy HBP, Cholesterol and Diabetes, especially if you live in Scotland. The really lucky ones get COPD as well. Thankfully I’ve managed to dodge that one.

Today the nice nurse lady was taking photos of the back of my eye to see if I could jump the queue and get full blown diabetes. Usually I’m forced to have drops in my eyes that make me virtually blind for about an hour and really supersensitive to bright sun. Did I mention that the sun was really bright today? Luckily the shots turned out well without the need for drops and the sunglasses I’d left at home. Scamp had given me a lift up to the town centre because if I get drops in my eyes and am virtually blind, driving can be a problem. Not for me, but for the poor folk I run into. So it was the bus back home in time to look over Margie’s homework because it’s Monday today and Monday is Gems day. Margie had done amazingly well. The cubes she was drawing were improving out of all recognition. I’m so glad she’s finally got the hang of Two Point Perspective.

When Scamp left to drive Margie home, I started preparing dinner which would be Minestrone soup. It’s the simplest soup in the world to make. You just chuck all the vegetables you have into a pot, add a tin of tomatoes and about a litre of water and boil the stuffing out the mix for an hour. Chuck in some crushed pasta after that and simmer for 15minutes. Done. The hard part is the chopping of the veg, because there is so much of it. It tasted quite good. Maybe a bit too salty, but we both survived it.

Drove to Salsa and enjoyed most of the beginners 6.30pm class and then our own 7.30pm class. Our class were doing Akia and a new move that’s been christened Russia because the couple demonstrating it on YouTube are Russian. Logical for once.

Today’s PoD was a grab shot, taken while walking home from Condorrat in the afternoon. It’s a bolt group on the bridge over the M80.

Tomorrow I think we’re cleaning out a cupboard called the Electricity Cupboard because it houses the distribution board and meter for the electricity. Heavy snow is forecast although it doesn’t seem to have started yet.

A non-dancing day – 27 January 2019

I think after Friday and Saturday, we were well danced out.

Today we had a light breakfast at the hotel said our goodbyes to new and old friends, excluding Diane who was not in either of these sets and anyway, hadn’t surfaced by our 9.30am scraping of the car and driving home. Beautiful light and scenery as we took the Hamilton road home. Much quicker route, especially on a quiet, cold Sunday morning.

Just relaxed when we got home with a decent cup of coffee and solved today’s Sudoku while Scamp complained that there were pieces missing in her digital jigsaw. To clear this problem from her mind she went off to buy Tesco. After she got back, I grabbed my boots and went over to St Mo’s to get some photos. My favourite became PoD and is what you see above. It’s another Cladonia Pixie Cup with a bokeh background. Just out of focus shapes really, given a fancy Japanese name.

We had partly intended to go a Sunday Social at Mango tonight, but neither of us could be bothered and a little glass of Rhubarb & Ginger Gin followed by a glass of white from Michael’s hamper signed the fate of the evening. I’d be well over Nicola’s Abstemious Law, so couldn’t drive in to Glasgow, even if I wanted to.  Scamp made dinner and it was a belated Burns Supper i.e. Haggis, Neeps (mashed turnip) and Tatties (mashed potatoes).  Lovely wholesome food.

Spoke to Jamie later and heard about all the things happening down in his neck of the woods. Other than that, watched a bit of fluff on the TV and now I’m writing this record of a relaxing, non-dancing day.

Tomorrow I get my annual diabetic retinopathy test. Hope I don’t get drops in my eyes, but I’m getting the bus anyway!

Powered by Duracell – 26 January 2019

Today we were up early, bags packed and out by 11.30 for our trip to Strathaven, posh centre of South Lanarkshire.

We were off to the Strathaven Hotel for a day of dance workshops (boiler suits not compulsory). Decided that through Hamilton was the quickest way on a normal day, but given it was a Saturday and around midday, it would be chaos. So we headed for the scenic route up to Canderside and then through Stonehouse and Strathaven itself to the hotel which used to be in farmland through an avenue of trees, but that was fifty odd years ago. It took a bit longer than I’d anticipated, but we found the hotel without any problem. There were a few trees left standing, but hardly an avenue. The farmland was gone, of course, covered with private housing and a primary school. The hotel looked fine with a modern restaurant extension to the existing old building.

Booked in and found our way to our room through the tortuous labyrinth that you’d expect in an 18th century country house hotel, and then found our way back to the ballroom. Wishing all the time that we’d had the forethought to lay down a path of breadcrumbs! Nice large and intimidating ballroom with the equally large and intimidating Diane! One of those people who stands right in front of you invading your space. An alpha female if such a thing exists.

The workshop started with waltz with only four couples. Scamp and I both agree that we learned a lot. Then a short bit of quickstep, concentrating on the technical part of the ‘fishtails’. In jive we did a Boston Cross or Kick ( the jury’s still out on the exact name) and the Four Chassis. Both of which have now slipped my teflon memory (nothing sticks!). Then lunch. We waited over 40 minutes for a small plate of sandwiches. That seemed to be par for the course, because other people sitting near us complained about the wait too. Overwhelmed or understaffed it was difficult to tell.

Back in the workshop Diane’s contingent had arrived and the room was filling up. We were told to simply dance a waltz to warm up. This was our first time attempting a waltz in real ballroom and we both made a hash of it. It was obvious that the Diane’s class were much more practised practitioners of dance. Everyone was dancing sedately around us and giving us a wide berth, obviously realising we were just learning. We should have worn “L” plates, or at least “P” plates. However, one idiot in particular decided that he and his partner didn’t need to follow the anticlockwise rule and started zig zagging across the dance floor. One time in particular, just as Scamp and I were getting our feet sorted out, he landed right in front of us and we had to do an emergency stop. Then they were off again in a different direction and at top speed. Powered by Duracell. He was a bit like a dragonfly in that he seemed to move only in straight lines at really high speed. However his irresistible force met an immovable object. Me. I just got so pissed off with this unnecessary show off that the next time he shot past us and tried to move off in another direction, I moved over into his path and crashed into him. I apologised and then we staggered our way further around the floor. It was an accident, honest 😉

When the next workshop started it was obvious that we were far out of our depth. This was Diane time. She had already stamped her authority on this group, her group. She shouted and postured and shouted some more. We watched for a while then went up to the room to read for an hour or so, since it was dull and wet outside and worst of all, I’d forgotten my camera.

Dinner was a protracted affair. It took over two hours from Starter to Coffee. Food was quite good and well presented, it was just the time lag in between courses that made the whole thing tiresome. Even more tiresome was the dancing afterwards. No salsa, very little jive. This was the Diane’s Dance Show aimed fairly and squarely at her own group. We waited until the end and did manage to dance salsa to one of the tracks and also performed our version of the Seven Spins, but didn’t really attempt any ballroom. More practise needed there. However one of our dinner companions provided PoD. He did look very like somebody from the ’60s, and his name was, in fact, John!

Dragged ourselves off to bed. As I climbed the stairs, I thought “That’s twelve hours of my life I’ll never get back.”

Tomorrow we’ll have breakfast and leave this sorry place.

Joiner/Taxi Driver for a day – 24 January 2019

Chisels, hammers and drills used to be my friends. Today we have become strangers.

I was up and out at 10am to Shona’s today to fit a lock on her bedroom door to prevent her son wandering in and spraying her perfume and anti-perspirant. She’s afraid he might accidentally squirt some in his eyes.

It should have been a simple job to remove the old catch and replace it with a key operated lock. Got the old catch off without problem. Went to B&Q to get the replacement. The first thing I noticed was that the replacement was smaller than the original but that wasn’t really a problem. The next thing was the bigger problem and it was that the lock was the ‘wrong hand’. Difficult to explain, but easier to understand if you see it. The door opened to the left. The lock seemed to be for a door that opens to the right. However although a problem, it wasn’t a deal breaker. I was sure I could find a way to turn it.

When we got home I discovered in the instructions that I’d have to almost totally disassemble the lock, turn the catch round and reassemble which, if you’ve ever read a Haynes manual, “is the opposite of disassembly.” It took me twenty minutes at least to remove the spring and work out how to put it back in again. Also helpful was the illustrations in the instructions as they seemed to be for a different lock. However I did eventually get the lock reversed and reassembled.

Got it fitted and then had to cut the hole in the door jamb for the deadlock. Hammer, chisel and drill made short work of the cutting, but all the while I was very aware that downstairs there were two new babies. I hope they slept through the noise.

By 1.00pm I had to change from by joiner’s disguise to a taxi driver’s. I drove home and picked up Scamp and her keyboard, song sheets and music stands to take her to the Gems gig. Then it was back to being a joiner again.

Remember I said that the new lock was slightly smaller than the original? Well I had a cunning plan to fit a spacer to take up the slack. Cut a piece of pine to fill the space and headed back The House of Shona. Drilled the holes for the handle, drilled the hole for the key and cut it using my dad’s old keyhole saw AKA a padsaw. A tool that has only one use, but one which it does perfectly. Fitted everything, made a few adjustments and everything worked. I presume it’s still working because I haven’t had any phone calls to say that Shona is locked in the bedroom!

Still not finished, I’d to change into Taximan and head up to the gig to pick up Scamp and Margie, then deliver them home. Finally at about 4pm I was finished for the day and was absolutely knackered. A 30min snooze and a hot shower made me feel human again, or as close to human as I get. A glass of Rioja helped. It also gave me the energy to make paella for dinner.

With no time to get an outdoor photo, today is a ‘Flooer Day’. Crop of one of Scamp’s cut flowers won PoD.

Tomorrow? Maybe a visit to Glasgow to get a shirt for tomorrow night.

A day of calm – 19 January 2019

It’s been a busy week with every day being accounted for. Today we’d have a rest.

A lazy start to the day, re-reading the first of the Rivers of London series and beginning to put together the Peter Grant story from its early beginnings. After that we considered whether to have coffee at home or to go to Stirling as we’d intended and have lunch there. The ‘have lunch there’ option won. We drove to Stirling and walked in to town. Had coffee there and, as there was nothing else we wanted to do there, came back to Waitrose where Scamp started shopping and I went to bring the car round to the Waitrose car park where it would be easier to trolley the many bags into the boot.

In Tesco you have to choose your parking space carefully to be sure you can get back out again and hopefully not collect a few (more) scrapes from the ‘grannies’ who will cheerfully bang into you and then deny any knowledge of it. And by ‘Grannies’ I mean dummies of both sex. In Waitrose it’s totally different. Firstly there are much fewer spaces and people are so much nicer about it. “After you”, “No, after you”. I don’t abide by these rules. “After you.”, “Ok, thanks very much and I’m into the space you were eying up. No use giving me that glare, you were being polite, I was being proactive. If you’re not fast, you’re last. Parked and found Scamp in the shop then after paying we headed back to the car and stuffed the boot with ‘bags for life’.

We stopped on the way home to get some cheap beer (and lots of other things) in Lidl in Kilsyth. Then we were on the final homeward leg. Just before the railway arches I spotted the back end of a white car sticking up out of the trees on the left side of the road. It was almost sitting on top of a black car that’s been parked in the ditch two metres down from the road level for at least six months. There must be some enormous electromagnetic field in that ditch that simply drags cars in. Tomorrow there will be a ‘police aware’ warning on the white car and it will gradually be stripped of any and all removable parts over the next few months.

Basically, that was it for the day. Dinner was Buttered Chicken from the Spice Tailor range and now the kitchen is reeking of fenugreek. PoD is a view of the Wallace monument through the mist, taken from the outside of Waitrose.

Tomorrow, we’ve been spared the problem of excusing ourselves from a ballroom dance night, because it’s been re-scheduled, presumably because Michael has the flu. Don’t know what we’ll do instead.

Out even earlier – 18 January 2019

Why is it when I set the alarm on my phone to make sure I wake up on time, I don’t sleep for more than an hour at a time?

Up and out for 8.20 this morning to go to the docs for a blood test at 8.50. I needed that half hour to scrape the car and get the temperature up to a reasonable level where your breath doesn’t freeze instantly in front of your face. Then I had to drive through the hosts of parents driving their children to school to make sure their little feet and knee joints didn’t wear out prematurely.

Got parked and grabbed today’s PoD of the sun colouring the sky and clouds above Carbrain. A bit of a misnomer, because everyone in Cumbersheugh knows there isn’t a brain in Carbrain. I walked a bit further and watched two women being terrorised by marauding feral seagulls behind Boots the Chemist. Great beasts of things, they were and squawking like banshees and the seagulls were almost as bad. By the time I got to the doc’s, the sun had broken free of the horizon and was lighting up the sky properly. Another shot in the bag which might have beaten the first if it wasn’t for the ugly flat roofed Carbrian flats with windows and no doors. “Blots on the Landscape”, could have been the title. Did my Tony Hancock impersonation (if that makes no sense to you, Google ‘The Blood Donor’, a Hancock classic) and then headed home for breakfast which on this cold, clear morning would be porridge and a cup of Assam. The best central heating known to man.

Scamp was determined to renew our passports online since she heard that you could take your own photo and get it validated immediately. It’s a brilliant system and I’m still not sure if it is a really clever algorithm (the word of the moment, don’t you know?) or an actual human sitting there giving thumbs up or thumbs down. Possibly this will be the ultimate Turing Test some day. Anyway, the upshot of it was we passed the test and ordered our shiny new passports. Then we’d to send our old passports off to be cancelled or redacted or simply have their corners cut off. Again will it be by machine or will it be by a minimum wage human? Who knows. Just so you know, you have to actually post the passport off, you can’t simply stuff it into the USB port in the back or side of your computer. That’s a pity. It kind of goes against the digital ethos of renewing your passport online. That said, the whole thing is much better than take the photo, fill in the form, post the lot away, wait a week, get a refusal because Gort says the corner of your mouth is slightly upturned and you might, just might be starting to smile. DO IT AGAIN PROPERLY THIS TIME. Yes, this is a big step forward, even if we don’t know if Gort is human or android.

Drove to Blantyre to Carrigan’s and had dinner tonight with Margaret and Billy. Food was good and plentiful. My roast gammon had been sitting under the heat lamp for a few minutes more than I’d have liked, but it was more than made up for with the dessert. Total silence while four of us struggled with our Tablet Ice Cream. Astounding dessert. Totally unnecessary, but total gluttony!

Managed to find my way back on to the M74 only to find the M73 turnoff was closed tonight, but then I navigated my way off and over the M74 and back on to the M73 turnoff on the other side. That confused the satnav.

Tomorrow I believe we may be going to Stirling to Waitrose for food. Hopefully we won’t be getting up early and I’m not setting my alarm, so I should sleep less fitfully than last night.