Another beautiful day – 9 January 2019

Beautiful, but cold.

All the cars were frozen when we got up today, but we were determined to make the most of the beautiful day, so we got up and I went out to defrost the car. I’ve got a sort of love – hate relationship with the Juke. Somethings about it just irritate me. Some things I love. I’d like a car that has a heated front screen, but the Juke has the next best thing. Press the demise/defrost button and the blower starts going full blast and all of that blast is directed towards the windscreen and using the side jets, to the side windows. Wishing two or three minutes the screen and the side window are clear. It helped today that the sun was just creeping round to spread some heat on the top corner of the windscreen, but most of the work was done by that defrost button.

We drove east to Cramond, home to the giant toblerones and the nice wee cafe beside the River Almond. That was where we were headed, to the river walk. Unfortunately when we reached the cafe it was closed. It looked as if it had been closed for quite some time and there was an advert looking for kitchen staff. However, there were no kitchen staff in evidence, so we walked further up the river, past the ruins of the mill where today’s PoD came from and on until we reached the steps that lead up and over the cliffs and down the other side, then they go over another set of cliffs and down the other side of them. We decided that was too much of the up and over stuff, and postponed it until another (warmer) day.

Since it was now around midday, we were mindful of the fact that the sun would soon be dipping towards the horizon and also that a spot of lunch would be good. We knew of another cafe in the village and walked to that, but there was no room at this particular inn today. There was nothing for it but to grab a shot of the toblerones sparkling in the sunshine and looking good with the tide just starting to come in from a long way out, and go home.

Stopped at The Gyle shopping centre to go for lunch at Morrisons and to get some provisions too. Roll ’n’ Sausage for me, bowl of chips for Scamp and two coffees for just over six quid was a bargain. Then it was back in the Juke and home along the M8 for a change. And, for a change we made really good time on a road that’s almost always congested.

Spoke to Hazy for a while when we got home.  She had read yesterday’s blog to see what our plans were for today and time her call perfectly.  Good to catch up with all that’s going on “”, as Ray would say

Dinner was an old favourite, Mac & Cheese with extra bacon for me. Then it was time for Wednesday Salsa. I danced half of the 6.30 class and then the whole 7.30 class. Thoroughly enjoyed both. Coming home they were digging up the motorway or pretending to at least and we had to sit at every traffic light all the way from Charing Cross to Cumbernauld Road in Dennistoun. I didn’t count them, just harrumphed as the next one ahead turned from amber to red. Sometime’s you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not. Tonight was NOT!

Tomorrow it’s coffee with the boys. Adult entertainment. There may be strong language from the start as they say on the BBC.

A Foggy Day – 7 January 2019

In Cumbersheugh.

Today we woke to thick fog. Sometimes a godsend in Cumbersheugh because it hides the drabness of the area. What it does mean is that it becomes even more of a challenge to get a decent photo for the 365. However, I had to go out to dump our last load of rubbish at the council tip and took my Olys with me. As I passed Arria on the M80, I knew that would be my PoD and it was. I like the statue, but don’t like walking through a cemetery to get to it and a cemetery on a foggy day like today is even less enticing, but we have to face these challenges for our art!

Before the photography, I went to B&Q to get a cheap version of No More Nails. Which I needed to stick up a piece of wood to block some holes in a cupboard. Then I needed the piece of wood. Thankfully B&Q have now been thoughtful enough to leave a ‘scratch & dent’ bin just past the tills where you can pick up some odd bits of wood for a ‘donation’. So much better than dumping them in landfill and generates a bit of cash for charity.

That was the extent of my outings for today. Printed off the few more calendars I needed and used the scanner in the printer for probably the second time in its life to copy these two images. They should give you a laugh. The photo booth shot is of Alex and I and the colour shot was taken in Newton Stewart about 1978!

Tomorrow we get back to normal. Gems in the afternoon and Salsa at night, hopefully.

If I was a carpenter – 31 December 2018

Up, out and on the road for 10am. Unheard of.

The reason we were up early was to catch the “Rat Man” who, at 8am, was making a second visit to the house next door. I wanted to tell him personally that the droppings he’d seen in the loft were not ‘Historical’ as he supposed, but live and from an active rodent, probably one of the two I’d despatched after he left empty-handed. He wasn’t impressed and even less impressed when I asked him to come in and witness the demolition job some of the dead rodents friends had done on a bag of sultanas in one of the cupboards. Last night, they appeared to have removed a blanking piece, abseiled down from the void between the ceiling and the upstairs floor and scoffed about a quarter of the bag. He did offer some help and suggested that as well as blocking up the hole, we should first stuff it with steel wool which apparently does nasty things to the rodents teeth. He offered a few other suggestions and said he’d probably be seeing us again in a week’s time. I thanked him for his help, especially as he was covering two “Rat Men’s” positions while one is on paternity leave.

With his suggestions in mind we drove off to B&Q to get some MDF, screws and just to be sure, some expanding foam and some more poison. We had to drop in at Tesco on the way to stock up on food, because it will be closed ALL DAY tomorrow!!! Shock Horror! What will we do?? By midday I was ready for my lunch and the board was ready to screw into place. Some poison in place and steel wool carefully stuffed in to every crevice afterwards. After lunch the board was in place. I decided not to use the expanding foam after all as I was working overhead and the polyurethane foam is VERY sticky so the thought of it dripping onto my head didn’t appeal.

With my carpentry work done, I took my leave and went for a walk in St Mo’s hoping to grab some of the last good light of 2019. That’s where I got today’s PoD the last of this year’s 365. It’s the Bee Seat (my name for it). It’s a wooden seat designed and made by a local group for St Mo’s park and with a coloured engraving of a bee on one of the uprights. A great place to sit and watch the world go by, or as in today’s case, watch the Canada geese being shepherded by a vigilant swan.

Back home it was Kedgeree for dinner. A spicy kedgeree in fact. Still went down very nicely with a bottle of Spring Oak Leaf wine from Cairn o’Mohr. Very sweet dessert wine with just a hit of the tannin in the Oak. That was ‘hit’, not ‘hint’. You could definitely taste it.

After dinner I attempted the second of my pocket repairs with the sewing machine. This one was done using Scamp’s suggested method and I have to admit that it beats my method hands down. It’s a bit more extravagant on material, but if the final result is as good as it seems, it will be worth it.

I think we’ll be staying up for ‘The Bells’ tonight. Possibly we’ll need a little tincture or two to keep our eyes open after such an early rise and such an active day, but tradition must be served.

I’ve added these two pictures that came from Colin Brown (his dad and I were cousins) in Ayrshire.

Tomorrow, hopefully we will be later risers than today and hopefully not having to resort to any more morning carpentry work.

Hope 2019 is a good year to all my readers, wherever you are.  Safe flight home JIC and Sim.

Christmas Day – 25 December 2018

Woke about 8.30am and then went back to sleep for half an hour. It was that kind of day.

Scamp brought me a cup of tea just after 9am I drank it and went back to sleep again. My nose was stuffed again and my ears seemed to be full of cotton wool. Slept almost until midday when I got up, showered and got dressed. I felt better until I looked out the window and saw how dull the day was.

With another cup of tea and a slice of toast in me I was ready to unwrap the parcels that had lain under the tree. As usual Scamp had surprised me with an interesting selection of goodies, some I expected, some I’d never have guessed. Then it was time to unwrap the giant parcel from Hazy and we found the reason for the size of it. It contained a giant metal sculpture of an allium. Beautiful thing. Finally we unpacked JIC & Sim’s hamper with it’s elegant selection of food and wine. So, we won’t starve and we have to find somewhere in the garden for the sculpture. Isn’t it nice to give and receive parcels at this time of year, especially when you’re not at your best!

Spoke to Hazy for a while and caught up with all that’s going on in London. Later we spoke to JIC in Toronto over FaceTime or whatever the WhatsApp version of that is. Managed a quick hello with Jaime and Madeleine in the same call. Dinner was a bit of a low key affair. Much lower key than usual because neither of us were feeling too bright. However, the food was good and the wine was too. We’ve decided that New Year’s Day will be our posh dinner. Hopefully by then we’ll both have put this cold behind us.

Today’s PoD was taken through the kitchen window and although it’s a bit grainy, it was shot at 25600 ISO which means it was nearly pitch black outside! Like I said at the start, it was that kind of day.

We watched a dire Strictly show and just now Gregory Porter and guests are competing to see who can murder good songs by singing them too slowly. Porter’s winning by a mile.

Hoping for a brighter day tomorrow, although by the look of the weather charts, that’s not very likely. We’ll wait and see.

Thank you all for your prezzies, they brightened my day considerably as did the wee chats.

Bored to abstraction – 21 December 2018

Full on dull dreary day. Needed some sunshine. Made my own.

Out early, well, early for me and out to Muirhead to get some meat for my Christmas Day dinner. Scamp was still in bed nursing her cold that doesn’t seem to have gotten any better overnight. An extra hour or so in bed wouldn’t do any harm.

Got to the butchers just after 10am and the queue was already the full length of the shop and it’s a fairly big shop. Lots of women serving and lots of butchers butchering and lugging great bags of different meats around. Not a place for vegans I fear. Despite the length of the queue, I was served quickly and soon I was out the door with my carnivore’s delights.

Drove home by the scenic route, but the low cloud, the poor light and the heavy rain put paid to any chance of a quick photo. So be it, maybe there would be a break in the clouds later. By the time I was home, Scamp was up and ready to go and buy what was left in Tesco. I had a coffee and started to work on using my old Samsung tablet as a screen for the Pi. Finally got it working, but it’s not the swiftest of cobbled together technology. It will do for now because it means I’m not hogging the TV.

I’d just finished squeezing my steaks and sausages into the freezer when Scamp returned with Tesco in two or three carrier bags. Lunch was a roll ’n’ sausage for me and a roll ’n’ egg for Scamp. We do eat well! Messed around with the new Toy in the afternoon because there wasn’t a hope of getting an outdoors photo.

Spoke to JIC who was on his way with Sim to Toronto hopefully if the drone that’s buzzing Gatwick runs out of battery power for an hour or so.

Tonight I cut a tangerine in half, then made another cut across the base. Sat the whole thing on a wee LED lamp and photographed it. That’s today’s PoD. Of course there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s at least two hours of post-processing and a fair bit of swearing too. However, it did bring a bit of artificial sunshine into the day, the shortest day.  From now on the light will be returning to our dark and gloomy land.

Scamp’s sister got out of hospital tonight and is back in the caring arms of her family. I thInk Scamp may go and visit with the mandatory black grapes tomorrow. Otherwise, we have no plans for tomorrow.

Feelin’ Good – 8 December 2018

Thankfully, just after ‘Hump Day’ the middle day of the antibiotic course I’m feeling a lot more like myself, crabbit, sarcastic and generally a nuisance.

I didn’t venture out again today although it was a beautiful bright day, well, it was for a while. After that the clouds rolled in and the bright light disappeared. At least the wind had finally calmed down. Scamp was busy writing Christmas cards and I had a pile to sign. After that we had to run the gauntlet of mail merging the addresses database with the MS Word template that holds the place markers. It’s always a bit of a faff. It should be easy, but somehow Word never saves the settings, no matter how many different ways I change the settings. It really is a clever thing, the mail merge and once it’s set up it should be simplicity itself to run, but it isn’t. I shouldn’t complain. At least Word has a mail merge facility. There’s nothing like one in Pages, Apple’s little toy word processor. That might be because I’ve a really old version and haven’t updated it for years. Back at the PC we finally linked to the database and printed out the address labels. So I’ve got a big bundle of cards to stuff into a post box tomorrow.

Today’s PoD is of the wee man plant pot holder that sits in the downstairs toilet. He makes me smile and look at those luminous green eyes.

I meant to mention yesterday that the Christmas Tree is now up and Fairy Nuff is in her rightful place at the top. Her second in command Grumpy Bear is also sitting among the branches. The Christmas lights box was opened and the letter from last year was read. Heads were nodded at achievements and “Hmm”s were hummed at things not done, that should have been. If this means nothing to you, it’s just that you’re not ‘family’ and therefore not party to this annual event.

I said back there that I have to post some cards tomorrow. Since Scamp will probably be half way to Blackpool for her Witches Short Break, I will have to drive the car, my car, myself. This should be achievable as I’ve managed to sit at the computer for an hour or so at a time today without too much discomfort. That, therefore, is the target for tomorrow:

To Drive To Tesco And Post Some Christmas Cards.

A lopsided day and a 40 year old – 2 December 2018

Went for a walk, took lots of photos and made a loaf, all in the morning.

Up and our just after 10am to go and see the annual Santa Dash at Broadwood Stadium. Found our way through the new estate of chicken boxes built on what once was the BMX track. It cut a big chunk off the walk to the stadium. Lovely wee houses with the emphasis on wee!

Over 300 runners, most of them dressed as Santa and one dressed as a cow for some reason. Around fifty volunteer helpers, First aiders and NLC staff in attendance and probably nearly ten spectators, because it was raining. What a shame. We did our bit, cheering and applauding the runners and taking photos. We watched the runners for about half an hour or more and then made our wet way back home.

Scamp’s Christmas party for Gems is on tomorrow, and she’d asked me to bake a loaf. I’d half intended making a plait of rye bread, white bread and seeded bread dough, but finally settled for a mix of rye, white and seeded flours instead. The loaf looks good, but we’ll wait until tomorrow to test it.

We Skyped the 40 year old, Hazy after dinner. She seemed to be having a relaxed birthday and we talked for a while about this and that, but Hazy is Forty! How did the happen? Where did the time go?

That was the end of our busy day where almost everything happened in the morning, hence the lopsidedness.

Tomorrow, after we get the living room ‘Dysonned’, the table set and all the goodies prepared, I’ll make a hasty exit … anywhere!

The day that never really started – 11 November 2018

One of those days that started off dull and never really improved.

We half expected to go in and visit Shona in hospital today, but Scamp got a message around midday to say that she was probably getting out. She was just waiting for her blood test results, so we waited … and waited and finally Scamp sent her a text asking how things were going. Shona’s reply was that she didn’t know if she was getting out or not.

The weather hadn’t improved in the afternoon so there was no real encouragement to go out anywhere. From the number of cars still parked along the street, it appeared that everyone else thought exactly the same thing.

We watched an ‘interesting’ Brazilian GP where Mad Max was leading the race until he came a cropper with Esteban Ocon who was attempting to unlap himself and clumsily took Verstappen out and allowed Hamilton to get the lead back. Max never really recovered and ended up in a pushing and shoving match with Ocon after the race. He was given two days of ‘community service’ and quite right too. He really has to learn to grow up. We had just been saying that we thought he HAD matured since last year when this storm in a teacup happened.

After the race was over I tried a few shots of an old broken table knife for PoD. When I went up the the back bedroom to take the shots the light on the trees outside was simply beautiful. We talk about the Golden Hour. This was a golden five minutes. It came, it got brighter and then faded away in less than five minutes. I got a few shots in those five minutes, but the hills were clouded over in the background and it was only a small strip of golden tree with heavy grain, so no chance they could he PoD. After dinner (Haddock Loin on Bacon, Peas and Lentils) I tried again and got a better shot. The one you can see at the top of the page. Just think, that knife is older than me probably.

Well, that was it for the day. Nothing else to report. Tomorrow will be better. Hopefully we’ll get that phone call from Shona for a start!

“If you wanna see the sunrise …” – 9 November 2018

“… Honey, I know where.”

Driving home at 7.25am we saw a glorious sunrise over Muirhead from the M80, but the day had started much earlier…

Alarm was set for 6am. Up and out after a mouthful of breakfast to pick up Shona and take her in to Glasgow Royal for her much needed op. Scamp was accompanying her and we thought she and Shona would be there for an hour at least, but I was just paying for parking when Scamp phoned to say she was ready to come home. Luckily I had time to cancel my parking request and get my money back!

Driving home is when we saw the sunrise you too can see at the top of the page. I can’t remember when I last saw a sunrise. Today’s was glorious. Back home it was coffee time before we got down to work. Made the soup and checked that the stew I’d made yesterday for the steak pie was ok and it was. Scamp was busy making her pear tart and when it went in to the oven, I made a wee loaf, hand made this time. Finally Scamp made ratatouille also know rather confusingly as ”Rats”. With us ready to go for tonight’s dinner, we headed off to Falkirk for a quick light lunch at Calders, our favourite garden centre.

When we got home there was just enough time to go for a walk to St Mo’s for some photos. None of them were deemed good enough to knock the sunrise off PoD position.  Technically I didn’t ‘take’ the photo, it’s a screen dump from my dash cam, but I’m claiming artistic ownership.

Visitors arrived on time and we made a night of it. I was most impressed with Scamp’s Pear Tart and only just in second place was my Steak Pie.

Tomorrow will be a lazy day. By the way, the title of this blog came from “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat” by Bob Dylan.

Old haunts – 3 November 2018

Today we went for a curry in Hamilton.

Since my brother mentioned he and his wife were going to the Bombay Cottage I’ve been hinting at Scamp that we should go back there for lunch. Today was that day. It was a dismal, dull, wet day and a curry for lunch sounded just the job. Parked across from the restaurant and got a window seat to boot! Food was excellent and the nan bread was the biggest I’ve ever seen. I’d have taken a photo but I hadn’t brought the ultra wide angle lens! Really, it must have been over 60cm long. Scamp reckons it’s been ten years since we’ve been there. I’m hoping it won’t be another ten years before we’re back.

After lunch we walked down into what used to be Hamilton town centre. This place used to be bustling on a Saturday afternoon, wet or not. Today all that was missing was the tumbleweed rolling down the road. It was described by one of the shopkeepers as “a ghost town”. The streets were empty, half the shops were closed and boarded up and even the covered shopping centre was almost empty of customers. Another Scottish town that’s had the heart ripped out of it. We bought some fish for tomorrow’s dinner and that was about it. Couldn’t believe the difference in this once thriving town. I managed to get the makings of today’s PoD. A shot of Keith’s Building in Cadzow street. This building has a chequered history to say the least. Some dodgy goings on used to happen in and around it, way back in the late ’60s. Before we came home we visited Hazy’s favourite shop in Hamilton. The Ink Spot. Part stationery shop, part art shop, part interesting little nicknack shop. An Aladdin’s cave of goodies. It hasn’t changed Hazy!

Drove home and although the streets were drying there were dark clouds seeming to drape down right to the horizon all the way round. Went to Tesco on the way home to get milk and a bottle of wine to cheer us up tonight. We didn’t drink it all … honest! Spoke to Hazy and Neil on Skype until the connection started to fail on their end, after that we literally spoke to the icon of Hazy on our end although they were receiving both sound and video on their end.

Spent an hour working the first version of today’s PoD up on ON1, only for it to go !PoP! and leave me with nothing. Went to speak to Duncan on the phone while I cooled down, then after I was done, calmly started again. This time I saved often between important changes and of course it didn’t go !PoP! this time and the backups I’d made weren’t needed. But, if I hadn’t made those backups … !

Sketched a bit tonight using a mixture of fountain pen and dipper pen. I’m now looking for some brown / sepia fountain pen ink. I think it will need to be on-line!

Tomorrow? Apart from trout for dinner, there are no plans. It’s supposed to be a better day than today. That wouldn’t be difficult.