16 Oct

A rather full day – 17 September 2017

When we woke this morning, someone was shouting at us from a loud hailer from the general direction of the football stadium. It appeared that the Cumbernauld 10K had started. We really should go and watch.

We walked down through the new housing estate and found that the all the races had started. The 1K were already home, the 3K were due at any minute and the 10K were halfway round the pond. All this had happened while we were having our breakfast and reading in bed. We watched the 3K folk finishing and by the time their stragglers were coming to the stadium, the first of the 10K were in sight. We watched a few of them enter the stadium, then walked back along the road clapping to encourage the runners as we went. I find now if I stand in one place for too long, I get a back pain. Gentle moving eases it. Running 10K wouldn’t help though!

We did see one accident while we were watching. One man, not a competitor took a tumble on the grass beside the footpath and fell heavily on his shoulder. He started screaming in pain and holding his shoulder. The First-Aider got him to cross his arms in front of his chest and hold opposite shoulders. Classic textbook broken collar bone injury. He was eventually carted off in a wheelchair into the VIP area. Possibly that’s where he wanted to go in the first place, but a rather extreme way of getting entrance.

We walked back home and were just making lunch when JIC and Sim arrived back with Chris and Yvonne. After catching up with C & Y they left to go home and we booked an early dinner at Milano’s, then headed off to Chatelherault near Hamilton to go for a walk through the trees. We walked over the Duke’s Bridge, but when we got there and found that almost all the trees had been felled leaving the valley down to the Avon Water looking very different from the last time Scamp and I had been there. More of the Hunting Lodge was open than last time so we wandered round some of the rooms and I got some photos before we headed home.

Dinner in Milano’s was good, but the pizzas were not as brilliant as they used to be. New chef, or maybe just a weekend stand in? Only time will tell. Halfway through the meal Sim discovered that their flight had been put back 2 hours! So, would we go back home or did they just want to go to the airport? They chose to go in the hope that the flight would get away quicker.

We drove home from the airport and watched an interesting and, for once, exciting F1 GP from Singapore. I won’t say who won in case you haven’t seen it yet.

A rather full day, but an enjoyable one.

I’ve been meaning to post a weekly note on my blog to try to track down the week the swallows arrive and leave. This week I saw some swallows and this is week 38.

16 Oct

Cross Country – 16 September 2017

A day driving east, then west, then back east again. Don’t say we don’t get around.

Started out driving Sim and JIC to Chris’s for them to be taken to Embra for the, as yet, undisclosed ‘Birthday Surprise. We knew what it was, but were sworn to secrecy. With the rest of the day ahead of us and no particular place to go, we headed, not for the Kokomo 1, but in a generally western direction. I thought we would go to Gourock or Helensburgh to sit and watch the sea … in the rain. Yes, it was raining, just as the weather fairies had predicted.

All was going well until we reached the Royal Infirmary section of the M8, then things started to clog up. However, our many drives through this part of the motorway meant I had the answer in my head. Never get stuck in the inside lane where all the dimwits ahead of you allow poachers to cut in in front of them. Get into the middle lane and if that clogs up, move over to the outside lane. Using this technique, the Kingston Bridge was a dawdle. Drove on past the airport and out into the country. That’s when traffic jam number 2 started. At first, after two police cars passed at a fair lick, we assumed it was an accident, then it became clear that only the inside lane was clogged. Managed to ease my way into the outside lane by choosing a decent space in front of a fairly new car. (Drivers of new cars will let you in. They don’t want to damage their shiny new car by rear-ending a dirty old car!!) Soon it became clear that the problem wasn’t an accident, well, not that we could see, but it was roadworks on the Erskine Bridge that would have taken us over to Helensburgh. So, we could confidently wipe Helensburger off today’s chalkboard. On to Gourock.

There was a cruise ship docked at Port Glasgow, the Caribbean Princess. I think she was far from the Caribbean. Perhaps she had been blown off course by the recent hurricanes. We did see some bemused looking travellers seeming to come from the ship and wonder why on earth they had been given this wet and miserable place to berth. We both knew exactly how they felt after our admittedly warmer trip to Igoumenitsa or as it will always be known to me,  ‘The Ig Place’ in Greece.

By the time we go to Gourock it was really miserable. The rain was thumping down and the Lomond hills were just smudges on the horizon. We continued to Cardwell Garden Centre near the Cloch lighthouse. It used to be a wee garden centre with a cafe. Now it’s a gigantic place with a children’s zoo, an indoor amusement arcade, a whole host of shops as well as a fairly extensive plants sections. It also sells coffee and scones. Decent enough coffee, but really, really excellent scones. Best I’ve tasted in a long time. We weren’t tempted to buy any plants and just started back the way we had come.

On the way home the weather started improving with the rain finally going to annoy someone else and the sun coming out. We stopped just outside Port Glasgow because the light was getting good and I reckoned I could get some photos. I did, but they needed some work. That’s the PoD above.

From there it was a straight run home in the dry. In fact it was under a clear blue sky.

Tomorrow is to be a better day. Don’t know where we’re going yet.


  1. No Particular Place To Go – Chuck Berry. Google the lyrics. 
16 Oct

Went out, lost the dog – 14 September 2017

Went to the Fort today in Easterhouse. For ages I’ve been saying that what they really needed to build in Easterhouse was a fort and finally someone listened to me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that kind of fort. It’s just a big collection of shops and cafes, but it does have a bookshop again.

Had a cup of brown water in Costa. I thought Cumbersheugh had the worst Costa. I was wrong the Fort version wins hands down. Someone should tell the ‘baristas’ that you have to refill the coffee filter for EACH customer. You don’t simply fill it in the morning and just keep using it again and again. Definitely having tea next time. Bought some Cerulean (other spellings are available) acrylic paint. Cheapest I could find was £1 for 75ml that sounds ok to me. It’s a useful sky colour.

Came home and grabbed the camera and the black dog and took them both to St Mo’s. Got some photos of a poor wee Jenny Long Legs untangling itself from a spider web, but wasn’t impressed with the results. Gave it a helping hand on its way. Turned round and the black dog had gone. The last I saw, it was following a couple out walking their Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Have fun with them Big Black Dog, people.  I won’t miss it.

Picked up JIC and Sim at Glasgow Airport and caught up over a few beers and a G ’n’ T.

Today’s PoD is of St Mo’s under a bright blue sky. A 9mm lens works wonders. So does watching the BBD disappearing over the hill.

Don’t know what tomorrow brings. A walk has been suggested. We can do that!

16 Oct

Out West – 9 September 2017

Today after a lazy morning without any drawer rearranging, we drove down to Kilmarnock to see our friend Dorothy and her son, Colin.

Well, that was the intention, but we got as far as the Robroyston turn-off before CIRTRAC lit up with the happy news that there had been an accident after junction 16 of the M8. Just what we needed! Not to worry, it’s never usually as bad as they predict. A mile or so later, it was as bad as they predicted, in fact it was worse. The queue had backed up on to the M80 we were on. I took the next exit on to the M8 going in the opposite direction. From there we could go south on to the M74 and then take the exit to East Kilbride and from there onto the M77. Sounds complicated, but it was preferable to sitting in the carpark that is the M8 when there’s an accident somewhere ahead. As it happened we got to Dorothy’s place only about fifteen minutes late.

We spent about an hour with Dorothy, showed her some of our holiday pics, but she began to feel tired and we left her with her son looking after her. She looked a bit more tired than the last time we’d visited and we did have far too many holiday pics. We really need to make the effort to visit more often, but not stay as long.

It was still a lovely day, so we decided drive on down to Troon. Got parked without any bother at the harbour carpark and walked from there into town. The town was jumping. Hunners of people on the beach, but thankfully only dogs in swimming. If there were folk in swimming, they would probably have needed an ambulance in attendance. The sun was warm, but I’d imagine there were baby icebergs out there in the wet stuff. Wandered round the ‘town centre’ to give it the benefit of the doubt. Scamp wanted to go for lunch at The Lido. I’m not a big fan of it. You always have to wait ages for a table, even if you’ve phoned ahead to book one. Once you’re seated, you have to wait ages for the food. However, the food, when it arrives is worth the wait … almost. I suggested we give Scotts a go. It’s from the same stable as The Lido so hopefully the same quality of food, but without the wait. I was right on both counts. Food was great – Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp (what a surprise) and Roast Chicken for me, but roast chicken with Smoked Carrot Puree among the sides! Interesting taste. The most remarkable thing though was driving into the restaurant carpark. It brought me in mind of Crews Inn at Chagauramas in Trinidad. Without the palm trees obviously. Sitting looking out at the boats in the marina under a beautiful blue sky just emphasised that memory. I think we’ll be back … to Scotts that is. I’d love to think that one day we’d go back to Crews Inn at Chagauramas too with its lethal brandy based Sangria.

Today’s PoD was taken just outside Dundonald on  the hill up from Troon and is looking over Troon to Arran.  I just had to stop to grab a shot or two … or twenty eight!  It’s been through Lightroom a few times, but I like the finished result.  Click on it to see it bigger in Flickr as usual.

Tomorrow we leave the blue skies behind and return to the land of the rain. Oh well, at least we had one really good day this week.

16 Oct

Masterchefs – 25 August 2017

Today we were cooking lunch for Scamp’s sister, June and her boyfriend (her word!) Ian and it was going to be hot in the kitchen. I can’t stand the heat, so I got out.

I’d done my part last night by making the panna cotta and it was chilling in the fridge. Scamp had set herself the task of making the other pudding option  which was to be Chocolate Pots (when we have guests, we always offer [for offer read eat] two puddings). She was also making the main which was chicken stuffed with mozzarella and wrapped in parma ham. I was going out to get a multipoint extension cable. Some would see that as the easy option, but you forget the skill that is required to purchase just the right cable length and the optimum amount and orientation of sockets. Yes, of course it’s the easy option.

I got back with loads of time to spare and got the thing connected up to the various AV electronics. It never ceases to surprise me just how many electronic and pure electrical devices we connect to our minimal amount of output sockets these days. Our living room has five power sockets and about twelve electrical devices looking for power.

After lunch which went very well, especially the panna cotta even if I say so myself, June and Ian wanted their photo taken. That was easy. The next bit wasn’t so easy. June wanted the photo to fit into her locket which is 23mm by 15mm. I really didn’t think my printer would manage it, but with a little help from Photoshop, it did. Then after a few prints, the printer died. I tried to resuscitate it without success. According to various sites on the internet, the problem is that the print head is kaput. Not surprising when you consider that the printer works almost non-stop for about a week just about Christmas and then lies dormant for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, that week’s work is me making my calendar and I really need a good quality printer for that. I’m hoping it’s not completely dead, but just in a state of shock after having been woken from hibernation too early, so I’m letting it sleep tonight and I’ll gently wake it tomorrow morning. Hopefully it will all be green lights. Today it was flashing amber lights.

Green was the dominant colour in today’s PoD. It was a drip falling from a chestnut leaf. Rain was falling from first thing this morning and it still is tonight.

It’s supposed to be better tomorrow. Let’s hope so.

16 Oct

Happy Birthday JIC – 16 August 2017

Today is JIC’s birthday, so happy birthday JIC. Hope you had a better day weatherwise than we had!

Quote from yesterday’s blog:

“Today was a lovely day, but tomorrow is to be not so nice, so I may be doing some painting.”

That’s the way it turned out too. I did do a little watercolour painting in the morning, because I missed the sunshine by staying in bed too long. Only an hour after we woke up, the rain was on, so I didn’t miss all that much of the sunshine. After that it was shower after shower until they all merged into one big downpour.

Scamp wanted to clear out a cupboard and I ‘helped’ for a while before I got bored and went to sand down the window sills and give them their second coat of varnish. It was a strangely satisfying way to use the day. Standing painting while watching the rain pour down outside. By taking my time and not rushing, I actually managed to avoid getting stain on either:

a. The curtains.
b. The vertical blinds.

An amazing feat by my standards.
The great thing about applying acrylic staining varnish is that an idiot can do it and get good results. It’s not waterproof, and it’s not all that hard wearing, but it does what it says on the tin. It gives a good finish easily. That’s my kind of paint … or varnish.

After fish ’n’ chips for dinner we drove in to Glasgow to be met with worse than the usual Wednesday car crash that is the M8. By judicious changing of lanes and pleading looks with indicators on, I managed to get us to the STUC in reasonable time and just before the 6.30 class had started. And what caused this chaos? It was raining. As a result, there was local flooding. We live in Scotland. It rains occasionally, in fact, more than occasionally. It rains often. It’s not as if we are on the edge of the Gobi Desert, we’re in a temperate zone on the eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean. IT RAINS HERE OFTEN. So why did the pinheads who designed the M8 not take cognisance of that fact and build in enough drainage to deal with a known situation? Answers on a postcard please.

First class – Beginners Week 2 was fun. Everyone was really enjoying it, even the helpers like us.
<RANT>Second class – Advanced (?) Too many with heads up their collective arses, thinking they know it all when in fact they need to do a bit more serious preparation which begins with listening to the teacher. It’s OK being a ‘know it all’ if you actually do know it, as some people do. However, it’s not OK if you simply want to show off, because then you don’t really know it all, if fact you know nothing. </RANT>

Came home and spoke to the birthday boy, which brings us back to the start.

I’ll say it again. Hope you had a great day JIC and I hope the sun did shine for you today.

Hoping for some sun for ourselves tomorrow between the showers.

Today’s PoD was a little setup I’ve been considering for some days, and nothing at all to do with JIC’s celebration, just incase you were wondering Sim! It was something I dreamed up to use when the weather was against me. Always good to have something up your sleeve.

16 Oct

A clean bill of health – 14 June 2017

Out to the docs this morning for the results of my blood test. Everything was fine. The sister asked me if I keep active. I said I did, but didn’t tell her about the wee man on my wrist who pops up every day at ten minutes to the hour and encourages me to “Go for a stroll”.

Scamp and I went to lunch at Cotton House, Chinese / Thai restaurant. We were pretty sure we’d get a table, but went early, just in case. We were only the second couple there when we went in, but by the time we were leaving around 1pm the place was 75% full. Very popular is Cotton House. We were boring today and had Spring Rolls to start and then Chicken Chow Mein.

On the way home we went to B&Q for yet more garden stuff and other odds and ends and that’s where I saw and captured the bronze beetle, shining in the sun.

When we got back Scamp noticed that Hazy had phoned and we talked for nearly an hour about this and that. It was good to have a wee chat while Scamp laboured hard cutting the front grass.

Salsa tonight was a bit low key with very few beginners in the first class and not enough girls in the second. Shannon had to encourage a few of the girls from her class to join in, but that wasn’t really fair because they weren’t experienced enough to enjoy the moves. I think there will be a few classes combining in the next few weeks. It always happens in the summer.

Watched an interesting documentary about Billy Connolly being painted and photographed to celebrate his 75th birthday. Worth a watch on iPlayer.

Today’s sketch is a W&N Indian Ink bottle. I like it because of the highlights that make it look like glass.

Tomorrow is Coffee with Fred day, while Scamp goes galavanting to Falkirk.

16 Oct

Before Ten? Ok Boss – 1 June 2017

Contrary to what we expected, it was dull, but dry this morning.  While Scamp did some washing, I started today’s Sudoku.  Each to his (or her) own.

Later, Scamp started to defrost the freezer.  With two of us on it, we did actually get it done a bit quicker.  Then we had to decide what would go back in.  The oldest item we found was a set of pork ribs dating to 2015.  They were a no-brainer, they had to go, in fact they almost walked to the bin themselves.  The rest was more difficult, but we did create some space by dumping some of the older bits and pieces.  Some space that could accommodate a couple of tubs of ice cream if only we had some.  If only we had a reason to got to the ice cream shop in Muirhead.  Scamp decided it would be good to go out to lunch and I decided to go to a tiny wee garden centre and cafe at Johnston Loch which is about two miles from the ice cream shop.  Sorted.

Lunch was a simple toastie, a panini and a couple of pots of tea.  Then we went to the ice cream shop for Toffee & Fudge for Scamp and Strawberries & Cream for me.

With the freezer replenished and the rain starting to get serious, we headed for home.  I went for a wet walk to St Mo’s and got the photo you see above.  Not brilliant, but given that it was taken at ISO 5000, it ain’t at all bad.

Spoke to JIC on the phone tonight and he asked for the blog to be up by 10pm.  Hope this is what the doctor ordered!

One last thing.  I know it’s after the 10pm curfew, but here goes.
I’ve become lax with sketching recently.  In an attempt to jolt myself back to inky fingers again I’ve started J’ Ink 17 J’ Ink 17 is short for June Ink 2017. A challenge to  myself to do at least one sketch, drawing, painting etc. a day for the month of June.’   This is day one.

16 Oct

I’ve got the shakes – 30 May 2017

It stared dull today, but it did get better.

This morning it didn’t look as if it was going to get better and by midday it was getting decidedly rainy.  Before that we’d done a bit of tidying up in the garden.  Chopped down the part of the rose that runs above the back door.  It’s been getting more and more straggly, so it had to happen sooner or later.  It happened today.  It looked a bit odd to start with, but hopefully it will force some growth into the part that runs up the side of the door.

We drove out in the rain to get the makings of tonight’s dinner at ASDA and stopped by Costa for a quick bite of lunch.  Came home and the weather started clearing up.  Took some photos in the garden, but they just didn’t work out.  May try again tomorrow.

Decided a walk over to St Mo’s would be good, so took the whole Oly / Teazer kit with me.  I wasn’t convinced that the anti-shake was doing anything.  I’m convinced now.  I switched off the anti-shake and took a couple of shots.  Actually, I didn’t need to take any, it was enough just to see the effect through the viewfinder.  Heaven knows what it would be like holding the camera at arm’s length like you do when you just have a viewing screen.  The anti-shake will now stay on at all times.  There wasn’t much to see or to photograph.  I did see some damselflies, but the wind was quite gusty and they were getting blown about too much.  No chance of a close-up with any camera.  Gave up and came home.

Scamp’s sister came in as I was getting the dinner ready (Cod and Smoked Paprika Chowder).  It was really good.  Now June has arrived too, so I’m in self-imposed exile in the front bedroom to get some peace and quiet to write the blog you’re reading.

Tomorrow?  Sewing class at JL.  Should be interesting.

16 Oct

The May Is Oot – 19 May 2017

It’s been a bit of a flower centred week.  Since Tuesday there seems to be nothing but flower pictures imprinted on the CCDs of my cameras.

Today we welcome summer to Scotland with the Old Scots saying “Ne’er cast a cloot until May is oot.”  Which translates to english as “Don’t discard your winter clothes until the may (hawthorn) is in bloom.” Today’s PoD was of a cluster of hawthorn blossom frothing from a bush.  I had actually gone to this spot on the Antonine Way to try out the Teazer’s ability to produce a panorama in-camera which it did and also to check its in camera time-lapse ability which I failed to achieve.  Maybe I need to read the instruction book.  READ THE INSTRUCTIONS for what is basically a little point ’n’ shoot camera?  I think not!  Instruction books are for noobs.  Look, I paid good money for this camera and all its fancy modes, so it should deliver them without the need for an instruction book.  What is the camera world coming to?  It failed, in other words.  I didn’t fail, it failed.  Fin.

Made the strangest bread this morning because Scamp’s dad’s cousin was coming for dinner and she is a coeliac.  I’d never made a gluten free loaf before and when the instruction started with “beat two egg whites with two teaspoons of sugar, one teaspoon of vinegar, one teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of oil and 400ml of water”  I thought ’What is going on here?’.  However, I followed the instructions and the bread rose and was baked for the required 55min.  That’s twice the time a ‘normal’ loaf takes.  Even stranger, it looked like a cake rather than a loaf when all was done, BUT it tasted like a loaf.  Like a pan loaf and it had risen perfectly.  No soggy bottom and Isobel who has is an expert on gluten free loaves gave it her seal of approval.  She got the remainder of the loaf away with her.  I may try it again, even with its strange very white flour (that isn’t really flour) and beaten egg whites.

Scamp, June and Isobel were going to a concert in Glasgow afterwards and I was nominated driver.  When I came home I tried an install of Lightzone which is a very able Lightroom clone.  It’s free as in legally free and is cross-platform which means it works on the Mac and also on the Win 10 tablet because it has 32bit architecture.  It’s not as polished as Lightroom and doesn’t do the cataloging that is at the heart of the Adobe prog, but it’s a great piece of software.  Best of all, out of the box, it supports the Panasonic RAW files the Teazer produces.  Amazing what a little piece of free software can do.

Tomorrow?  More Teazer Testing, but I refuse to read the instructions.