Well, this won’t take long – 27 December 2018

Typical of this time of year, we didn’t do very much.

Yesterday we’d cleaned out the bottom half of the cupboard that used to hold the heating boiler at the top of the stairs. It’s been a cupboard pure and simple for about the last 18years, but it’s still called the Tank Press Cupboard. Today we took the irrevocable step and took the rubbish to the tip. After that a trip to B&Q secured another couple of rat traps and some other odds and sods.

My head was a bit clearer today and I was ready to start the fight back against the rodents. Last night I’d found an app for my phone that sent out a signal at 22Mhz which apparently stops rodents in their tracks. I don’t know about that, but it did give me some sleep last night. Today I found the same app for Android and it’s ready for deployment tonight.

Scamp was off to her Christmas / New Year party at Carol’s. I drove her there and then got on with preparing more stuff for disposal at the tip. Today we ditched the old monitor for the HP desktop computer. Tonight I stripped out the hard drive and the DVD drives from the HP. With them out, the box is ready to go to the tip. I do hope anyone who is thinking about powering it up, checks inside first, because I’d to cut through the power loom to get the drives out. Plug it in, connect to a monitor (there’s one in the TV & Monitor bin) and switch on, but stand well back! Did a fair bit of banging and scraping to annoy the rodents, because they did the same to me last night. Eventually got the call for a taxi at just after midnight. Drove Margie and Scamp home and went to bed.
You will have guessed that this was written on the 28th Dec, won’t you?

Today’s PoD was of the Christmas Cactus in full bloom as it always does round about now. The clue is in the name!

Tomorrow we’re going out somewhere for lunch I hope!

Blue Skies and a Little Drop of Poison – 22 December 2018

Blue skies for a while today. Maybe Hazy was right, maybe this is Spring!

This morning, Scamp drove up to see what was left to buy in Tesco. The answer was “Not Much”, but she bought it anyway. I stayed at home nursing a sore throat. Heaven forbid I’ve caught her cold. When she returned it was my turn to go out. I drove out to B&Q and got some rat and mouse poison. If they are avoiding my traps, maybe it’s time to bring out the big guns. Chemical weapons, WMDs. I’m reluctant to use dirty tactics, but as someone said “They’re living in my house and they’re not paying rent.” So I baited the box and placed it in the loft secured by a couple of strips of duct tape. Have you ever tried using duct tape while wearing latex gloves? It’s not easy. If your mind drifts to more erotic images, forget it. This was fully clothed, in a cold loft, surrounded by itchy fibreglass insulation and a few mouse droppings. There, that should clear things up. Set another trap where I thought I heard the little blighter last night. I’ll leave the latest devices in place for a day or two before I check them again.

With my chemical weapons in the boot, I left B&Q and drove up the Arns Road. It’s a mile and a half of single track road with no passing places behind Abronhill. Lovely low angled light from a sun that was heading for the horizon and I managed to get a couple of shots of a new build house on a hill. One of the shots was out of focus, so luckily the other made up for it. Squirted it through Lightroom and it came out looking like the one at the top of the page.

Came home and after solving today’s Sudoku, it was time to get ready to go to J&M’s in Hamilton. Lovely dinner there and a chat with Laura who was home for Christmas. Unfortunately the effervescent Ross was otherwise engaged tonight, so no tall tales from him.

Left just before 10pm as Scamp was beginning to suffer from her cold again. I’m hoping I’ve sidestepped the worst of it, but just to be sure I’m having a little whisky nightcap while I write this with the option of a double dose of vitamin C afterwards.

Tomorrow all depends on the weather. Hopefully it will be like today’s morning and afternoon (sunny) and not like tonight’s drive to Hamilton and back (wet). It also depends on Scamp’s cold.

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!

You got a fast car – 9 December 2018

Today was a driving day for me and a passenger day for Scamp.

I’d intended going out early as I knew I’d be up about 8am because Scamp was getting picked up at 9.15 to go Falkirk to get the coach that was taking her and the other Witches to Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool for an overnight with dinner. Tina Turner and Neil Diamond would be there, but it was uncertain whether they would be played by the same person or by a couple. Who knows (or cares). It was when I saw Scamp off I noticed James’s car was still covered in ice and then, that mine too was frozen solid. On that basis, it might be a good idea to just have a cup of coffee before attempting to drive.

A well as the coffee, I thought this would be an opportunity to tidy out the top drawer in the ‘Painting Room (i.e. back bedroom) and that’s what I did. One old dead tablet went in the bag and one old dead Kobo e-reader joined it along with a host of boxes, odd scraps of cardboard and paper napkins for soaking up watercolour washes. Things that seem to find their way into that drawer.

With a bag full of junk of different types I drove to B&Q to look for rat traps. You see, the ‘rat man’ came last Tuesday and then again on Wednesday and declared us free of the little beasties, but we’re both sure they were just playing Hide ’n’ Seek with him. I’m not so easily put off and even better, I have a Plan. The first phase is to trap the beasts, except they only had cheap traps in B&Q and I had decided to get the better Rentokil ones. No problem, I’d drive to Bishopbriggs after I’d dumped the rubbish. Rubbish disposed of, off I went.

Now the Juke is a strange car. Two weeks ago and early last week before the Lurgi struck, it was running like an arthritic slug. Today it was raring to go. Pulling at the leash like a mad thing. I must give it a rest more often … and put some high fibre fuel in it too to keep its engine from getting clogged. Maybe it’s the sunshine that’s making it run better, because there was a wall to wall blue sky today. Got the traps and drove home to set them. I put two in the loft and then put a mousetrap in under the kitchen floor. Let’s see what they produce.

With hands carefully washed, I started to make my dinner which was Pork Osso Bucco, slow cooked and with a Mirepoix (!) which apparently is a sauce made from vegetables. I spoke to Scamp while I was making it.  Of course, she already knew what a Mirepoix was.  Her hotel is on the seafront at Blackpool but on the outskirts.  She even sent me a picture of her ‘sea view’.  Yes, you can see the sea, if you look very closely! My dinner tasted lovely. I restrained myself and left half for tomorrow. Best recipe I’ve found for that meat.

In the evening I watched the final ’Trust’ and most, well some, well very little was made clear, but the tale was well told and the acting from everyone apart from Paul’s mother was superb. Spoke to Jamie for a while and found out more about their Welsh excursion. Then watched Fast and Furious 6 trying to work out which parts had been filmed in Glasgow. I saw two definites and two maybes.

PoD was from the drive back from Bishopbriggs. I really liked the way the white house stood out from the sky.

Tomorrow? More tidying and checking the traps.

Stirling – 1 December 2018

Today we were going shopping for food. I like food, I just don’t like shopping.

We drove to Stirling and parked in the ridiculously inexpensive council carpark. A whole day’s parking for £1.40. Where can you get value like that today? The answer, of course, is Stirling. From there we walked in to the town. Yes, I know I’ve said it before, Stirling is a city, but it’s not really a city is it? Cities are big sprawling places with high flats and brash city centres. Stirling is not like that. It doesn’t sprawl. It sits up straight in an uncomfortable dining room chair and listens to you as you walk its streets. Its cobbled streets in places. You don’t get cobbled streets in a city. Stirling is your posh auntie. Slightly disapproving, but still family and will protect you whatever happens. I like Stirling. We wandered round the Thistle shopping centre that’s constantly re-inventing itself, then had our usual coffee in Nero. Real coffee that tastes like coffee. No fancy stuff like Special Christmas Blend that tastes just the same as the normal stuff that Costa sells. We’d already decided that we’d have a panini for lunch and dinner from Golden Bowl in Condorrat later. GB is probably the best Chinese take-away in the world, if not the universe.

After we’d had lunch we walked back to Waitrose and bought most of the shop, including two Pig Cheeks and two pieces of Pork Osso Bucco. Haven’t had either for a long time. Carpark was rammed full, but the Juke managed to squeeze into a space just big enough to allow us to pack the bags and make an older couple smile as they took our space when we left!

Back home via Lidl at Kilsyth for cheap, good beer for me and cakes and finger food for Scamp’s Gems Christmas Party on Monday. I have plans in place to avoid it.

I’d taken a few shots of an underpass in Stirling for an ON1 project, but it just wasn’t working, so when we ordered our Chinese I took the Teazer with me. Plugged myself into A Momentary Lapse of Reason and Pink Floyd accompanied me on my walk over to Golden Bowl. Halfway there I got today’d PoD which is headlights and tail lights on the M80. Isn’t it amazing the distance a car can travel in four seconds at 70mph!

Chicken Chop Suey and Fried Rice x 2 was delicious, we both agreed. Watched Strictly and then listened to a few hours of music on Spotify. Lovely Saturday night.

Tomorrow I intend baking a couple of loaves for Monday and not much more. Big day for someone special tomorrow!! YKWIM!

Half an hour of sunshine – 30 November 2018

That’s about all we got today. Took the opportunity and said thank you very much.

Today’s weather didn’t appear to be fierce enough to qualify for a name, but it was a bit windy and a lot wet. Drove Scamp to the train station for her expedition into the heart of a Glasgow Christmas. Do you know, yesterday I used the word ‘sortie’ to describe today’s visit. Last night, when I was reading the blog entry for the 29th November 2017, I discovered that I’d used exactly the same word for exactly the same visit! A creature of habit, that’s me. After dropping Scamp off at the station in the rain, I drove to Tesco to get some veg for tonight’s dinner which was going to be Aloo Saag, but later changed to Paella.

Back home I’d intended tidying up the bedroom (again). Again, it didn’t happen. Got a phone call from the Environmental Health to say that the Rodent Investigator would call on Tuesday. That should give me plenty of time to tidy that room … perhaps!

In the afternoon, I decided that Paella would be a lot easier to make than Aloo Saag, so I drove to Kilsyth to get the makings. Waiting to pay at the till Scamp texted to say she was on the way home by train. Luckily the station is on the road home, so I just managed to get there before the train arrived in the rain. From just after 10am until about 2.30pm the rain had been doing its best to make life miserable in the central belt of Scotland. After we drove home the sun came out. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity and grabbed my camera bag, put on my leaky boots and walked over to St Mo’s. Caught a nice bit of blue sky with fluffy clouds and just a hint of sunshine. The rest of the sunshine, my dear readers is fake, but it looks the part and it the photo became PoD!

That about sums today up. It rained, then for half an hour the sun shone weakly before setting.

Tomorrow we may go shopping in Stirling. What fun!

Rain again – 29 November 2018

Yet more of the wet stuff, falling from the sky.

Not to worry though, I was booked with Fred today for coffee and a healthy dose of cynicism. Before that, a half-hearted attempt at tidying up the back bedroom. If you’d taken a photo of the room before I started and another when I’d finished, it would have been like one of those puzzle with two pictures with slight differences between them. You would have been hard put to find ten differences between the two pictures. Scamp meanwhile was out buying a ????????? (sorry, redacted Hazy) for a certain parcel. When she returned with the secret item (or was that items?) she parcelled them up, bagged them and posted them.

My coffee and politics was timetabled for 12 noon today. That’s early for Fred and me on a Thursday. What a horrible Thursday it was too. Wind with lots and lots of rain and a dark grey sky. Not an ideal day for driving, but much better than walking! Brexit was the main topic today. So much so that his Cortado got cold. Costa coffee is poor at the best of times, but cold Costa coffee is a sip too far. From Brexit we moved on to central heating boilers. I’m not sure how we did it, but wouldn’t it be nice if the newsreaders could use that technique to segue to something else, anything else. A few other topics met with our attention, but eventually it was time to go. The prohibitive parking regulations in Cumbersheugh make you twitchy if you’ve been sitting having coffee (and cold coffee) for too long, just incase the blue meanies are checking your car’s standing time.

Back home I wanted to put the holiday cases away and at the same time check out the loft for our unwanted visitors. To assist with both, we brought the Christmas decorations down and cleared out some unloved and unwanted junk. There’s no other way to describe a 47 year old rucksack, a beer brewing bucket with a gigantic dead spider in it, an equally unwanted beer barrel, a mouldy bag for a music keyboard and those were the interesting things! I made my way through the warren of scantlings that make up the roof trusses. I found the evidence I was half hoping, half dreading finding. It looked like droppings to me. Maybe mice or maybe something larger. I took a photo of the droppings with a 50p coin beside them to give and indication of scale for the man from NLC who failed to phone today.

Next job was to take the junk to the tip before we changed our minds and put them back up. No, the trapdoor was closed, the loft light was switched off and our minds were made up.

After disposing of them I took a run up the Palacerigg road in a short window of dry weather and got today’s PoD. It took a considerable bit of post-processing and a considerable time to get it up to a reasonable standard. I leave it up to you to decide if it was time well spent.

Tomorrow I will wait for the man from NLC to phone. Scamp may go in to Glasgow on an undisclosed sortie. Hopefully the rain will lessen.

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.

Driving, Driving, Driving – 14 November 2018

With a bit of Dancing too!

Woke early and we were on the road and in the torrential rain. Ran into the first traffic jam within 100m. Took a diversion and we were doing well until we hit the second traffic jam at the other end of town. Another diversion and we picked up June and pointed the Juke at Stobhill. Motorway started slowing down near our turn off and then the sat nav decided we’d like to go by the ‘scenic route’, rather than the one we usually drive. That added another traffic jam to our list, but we made it to the hospital with minutes to spare, literally. I drove back home the sensible way and waited for Scamp to request a taxi.

After an hour or so I got the phone call and drove in along a much quieter M80 and picked up the much relieved sisters. The offending lump was not malignant. Dropped June off at Shona’s and headed home again.  Still raining.

After lunch we packed our bags and drove in to Blackfriars for a tortuous Jive class followed by an improving Waltz class and then finally an impossible Quickstep where Michael demonstrated not only the FishTails but also the little run you see them doing on Strictly. It may be a week or so before we’re ready for that!  It rained all the way in and all the way home

Dinner was Paella and the PoD is a hash up of a picture of the old College of Building & Printing which later became the City of Glasgow College and is now just a slab of glass and concrete that sits unloved in the centre of the city. Solarized the image in Lightroom then adjusted the Shadow, Exposure and Highlight sliders until the colours you see here appeared. Certainly not my best shot, but it ticks the box.

Tomorrow another early rise. Even earlier than today.

Patient Ambulance – 12 November 2018

Waiting for that phone call again.

After breakfast Scamp sent a text to Shona and got the reply that we had been waiting for. She was being released today and hopefully would be ready by midday. We drove in to Glasgow and I dropped Scamp outside the front door of the hospital then drove round to Wishart Street to park the car. Stuck a pound coin in the meter and hoped that an hour would be sufficient. Then I settled down to do a bit of sketching. The subject was the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ that crosses the road from the Cathedral to the Necropolis. As well as the architecture, I also had a go at some of the cars parked all the way up the street. Just before my £1 ticket was due to expire, I got a phone call from Scamp to say that they were on their way out.

Picked up Scamp and Shona just outside the hospital and tried to take the least bumpy road home. Dropped her off and made sure she was comfortable before heading to pick up Marjie because Gems wait for no man (or woman) apparently. I sat and messed around with a new photo editor, or should I say a new version of a photo editor. Thinking all the time that this would have been a good day to go for a swim. You never miss the water until you’ve cancelled your subscription to the pool!

Just as the light was failing I grabbed a few shots in the garden with the ‘Big Dog’. I really don’t know what it was doing, but it was overexposing some shots and underexposing others. However, I got a silhouette of a strawberry plant as my PoD.

Drove in to Glasgow tonight, not really interested in dancing, but came out of the STUC energised. That’s the only word for it. Jamie taught two new moves one was quite simple but the other was much more complicated and I thoroughly enjoyed both. Don’t think we’ll manage to get to Wednesday’s class, so I was glad I went tonight!!

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch.