Coffee and the Bridge to Nowhere – 14 September 2018

Coffee first then a walk over the bridge from nowhere to nowhere.

I met Fred for a coffee and a wee natter this morning. Just the two of us. We’d both forgotten to invite Val and Colin, so we share the blame. Topics were mainly about painting, drawing and photography. No politics for a change.

When we were done, instead of going our separate ways, we went by the new bridge. It’s not really new, it’s been there for a few years now, but few people cross it, so it’s new to a lot of folk. I’d never had cause to cross it until today, because both of us were parked on the north of Central Way that bisects the town centre and the coffee shop is on the south side. Here’s the first amazing thing. You don’t need to climb any stairs to get on to the bridge, there’s a lift. Hardly anyone crosses this bridge, but there’s a lift. The second amazing thing is that the voice that tells you “Doors Closing”, “Lift Going Up”, “Level One” etc, have a Scottish accent! The third, and probably the most amazing thing is that the lift and the bridge haven’t been vandalised yet. Maybe that’s because the lift and bridge take you from a ground level carpark to an upper story carpark. Who in their right mind builds a bridge and installs a lift to take you from one carpark to another. There is no direct access to any offices or shops from this bridge, just carparks. Maybe it was designed by a forgetful driver who couldn’t remember where he’d left his car and wanted easy access between the two possible sites. Who knows. It’s just another Cumbersheugh Anomaly. What it did do was give me PoD, so it can’t be all bad. One more strange anomaly is that when you do get across there’s a covered walkway along the side of the carpark, but only for about 20m then it just stops. The walkway continues, but then it’s open to the elements. It’s as if they just got fed up with the idea and abandoned it. It’s typical of Cumbersheugh, half finished. Walked across the wasteland of the upper carpark in the rain and drove home.

We were going out tonight to a meal in Glasgow to celebrate Scamp’s sister’s birthday which is actually tomorrow. Unfortunately she’ll be on her way to Southampton tomorrow for a holiday cruise to the Canaries. The meal was in the Premier Inn on Sausage Roll Street and although there were no sausage rolls involved, it was a good night. Most enjoyable. Again, because drink would be taken, we got the bus in to Glasgow and the bus back again. Sometimes I feel we spend half our lives on the x3.

That was about it for a wet and windy Friday in September. Tomorrow we may go east to Embra where you get a better class of weather than here.

Going home, flying home – 26 August 2018

It was dry for a time this morning, but it didn’t last.

It rained, then it rained harder and harder. I’d have liked to have gone a walk this morning before we got on that big bird and flew north, but the rain prevented it. There’s a great walk round the golf course near Hazy and Neil’s that takes you through some lovely old hawthorn and beech trees. Apparently, if you’re really lucky you get to see some deer too, but not today. Too wet and if it’s been raining for some time, the trees just shake their leaves and you end up wetter than ever under them. We just stayed in and talked.

Hazy decided she’d join us on our trip to Gatwick which was good. I was amazed at the amount of surface water that had gathered on the roads when we were being driven to the airport. Water with white foam on top, whipped up by the cars’ tyres. I suppose it occurs mainly after a sustained dry spell. Anyway, I imagine it was quite unpleasant to drive through. Thankfully, that was Neil’s job today.

Arrived at the airport with plenty of time in hand and volunteered to put my wheely case in the hold for free and to free up some of the overhead locker space for those who were in a hurry, unlike us. Swiftly through security and into the waiting area. Had a vile cup of brown water and a lovely pizza from Jamie Oliver’s take-away, while Scamp and a latte and an ‘OK’ Portuguese custard tart from the same. I bought a painting magazine and we went through to the gate. Boarded quickly and efficiently, unlike the SqueezyJet like boarding procedure at Glasgow.

<Technospeak>
Reading my magazine, there were two articles dealing with the hues in blue paint. One claimed that Ultramarine Blue is warmer in hue than Cerulean and the following article completely refuted that! This from what is meant to be a fairly authoritarian magazine. Any blue which tends towards red must be a warm hue. Not my opinion this time, it’s basic colour theory. Absolute crap. Stiffly worded complaint ready to be emailed to the editor forthwith.
</Technospeak>

Waited our usual half hour at Glasgow for the bags to arrive, but at least that was better than the fifty minutes the message board was predicting.
The flight distance from London to Glasgow is approximately 345miles and takes about an hour.
The distance from the plane to the carousel is approximately 0.5miles and it takes about fifty minutes.
Bus in to Glasgow and then the X3 out to Cumbersheugh. I won’t go into the comparative distances and times, I’m sure you know my thoughts on that by now.

Watched an amazingly expensive (in terms of damage to cars) first five minutes of the Belgian GP. Thankfully everyone walked away unhurt. Then it just slid into the usual boring parade of cars. <Yawn>

PoD was the view of the rain streaking across the aircraft window as we left a wet London for a wet Glasgow!

I think it may still be raining, but it’s going to be drier tomorrow, so they say. We’ll see.

A day at the airies – 25 August 2018

Today we went to Brooklands Museum to see the airies and the cars, but mostly the airies!

During breakfast Scamp and Neil settled on Brooklands Museum as the place to visit today. I’d heard of Brooklands, the first car racing track in the UK. I didn’t know then it was the first dedicated car racing track in the world. Eat your heart out America, we were first. Hazy was going to spend the day resting, so she would be feel refreshed enough to go out tonight.

The trip to the museum only took the half hour Neil predicted and it was a lovely day again with blue sky and just a smidgin of clouds. We drove past Mercedes World where some posh people were scooting round a racetrack in equally posh Mercs. They even had water sprinklers spraying a piece of the track to provide a skid pan. However, that wasn’t our destination, you just had to drive round it to get to the museum. After the brash flash of Mercedes World, Brooklands looks a bit downmarket, but that just disguises the history that it holds.

First up was the Malcolm Campbell Shed with the really old cars that raced on the Brooklands circuit, then through the motor and pedal cycles section to the Formula 1 area. After that Neil left us to go and read in the cafe and we visited the airies. Big airies. The Sultan of Oman’s beautifully kitted out VC10, the BAC 1-11, the Viscount and the Vanguard. All passenger planes, all part of my growing up. It would take too much time (and be boring for you) to name them all, but it was a trip through time. PoD was the view dead on the nose of a Jetstream.

At the back of the Aircraft Park is the banked section of the race track. I climbed up part of it, almost two thirds of it, until it became too steep. Then I realised that in section it wasn’t a circular curve, but a parabolic curve and became incredibly steep the further you went. It’s an amazing thing to see and to think that those old solid wheeled cars in the museum raced around this track. If you can’t visit this place, Google it and be amazed.

Lunch was steak pasty with chips and veg for the boys and baked potato with tuna for Scamp. Then after a look at the inside airies and another climb of the banked track we headed for home. It was clouding over a bit by then, but not cold.

Out at night to an Indian restaurant with Canute and Delia. Delia looking great after her recent op. Food was good, service was poor and conversation was the usual D’Aguiar tennis match of seeing who could give the cheekiest answer to cause the most hilarity to all concerned. A great night, marred slightly by the noisy, and I mean NOISY bunch at an adjoining table. Why must some people shout at each other all the time? Are they all deaf or just stupid? Easy question.

Anyway, a good day and evening too.

Where the crows fly backwards – 24 August 2018

In Kingston on Thames today on the bus.

Went to a Nero for a coffee. Seemed to confuse the poor server with “Sitting in. A regular one shot, extra hot latte and a regular americano.” She replied “To take away or to have here.” I growled, “Sitting in, that’s what I said.” Probably took her too far off the script. The bloke next to me said “I’m surprised she understood you with that accent.” Hackles up! “Sorry, I couldn’t understand you with yours”, I replied. He just laughed and asked where I came from. I gave Scamp’s non committal reply “Just outside Glasgow”. Then he told me he came originally from Motherwell, but moved down to London when he was 21. Went to work at IBM. “But,” he said, “I was a smart bugger then”. I questioned the ‘was’ and he just said that brain cells deteriorate with age, then went on to explain all the medical problems he’d survived, finishing up by saying that he had a 6 year old sitting outside. I said “Good for you!” and he just laughed and said “It only took a minute.” Both us burst out laughing. Then he took his tray outside, stopping to have a word with Scamp. When we were leaving, I tapped him on the shoulder and told him I originally came from Larkhall. “Oh my God.” he said “Where the crows fly backwards!” I don’t know when I last heard that one. Probably when I was at school. Wished him good day and he did the same then we went on our way.

Wandered round the town looking for a coffee shop that Neil had told us about where you could buy coffee beans. Finally gave up the search and went for a walk along the river on a breezy day with bright blue skies and a few white clouds overhead. Sat for a while and sketched a bit of the river and the boats moored by the path while Scamp remarked on the variety of boats on the river. Big boats, small boats, a wooden scull and a full paddle steamer. Finally gave up when I realised that the sketchbook wasn’t going to take the watercolour paint, it just sort of beaded on the surface.

Went for lunch in a wee cafe selling home made quiche and vegetarian food served with healthy looking salad. I had Salmon Quiche and Scamp had Veg Lasagne. Both of us tried each others, but both settled on our own as the better option. My side of Sweet Potato with Chilli and Kidney Beans was delicious. Walked on to Bentalls where Scamp found a set of four glasses to replace or augment ones we have at home. One of which is missing. I went to the Apple shop to try to find out how to get Apple Care, but I think it should be renamed Apple Doesn’t Care. They don’t seem to want to sell it, telling me that I’d have to bring my computer in to the store so the ‘experts’ could check it over first before they’ll allow me to give them money. No thank you Apple, that’s not how it works. It looks to me as if they are only interested in selling you Apple hardware and aren’t interested in after sales service.

We did eventually find the coffee shop, but neither of us were that impressed with their coffee and at £8.50 for 250g it was just a little over the top. Also over the top was the nearly £15 I paid for a G ’n’ T and a pint of IPA. Admittedly it was a double G, but £15 for two drinks? What is it with London prices. Blame Brexit.

Bus back to the house and Neil was on dinner duty, making Spicy Prawn Risotto. We have now got the recipe!! Pudding was Vienetta. Something we haven’t had for years. Watched another film, Victoria and Abdul which was quite funny.

Today’s PoD was taken under the bridge over the Thames. I just liked the patterns.

Tomorrow Neil is taking us somewhere if his viral infection is not too bad. Not sure where yet.

One in the bag? What bag? – 23 August 2018

Another early rise!

Up at 6.15am after about 4.5 hours sleep. Taxi came at 7am and a driver from Pakistan took us to the airport an kept us entertained with stories of a gay breakup, the current weather in Pakistan and the expectations of a new era under a new political leader. Unfortunately the new era was in Pakistan, not Brexit shackled UK. His flow of consciousness ended with an exhortation to try an automatic drive car next time. “You’ll never go back to manual”, he said.

Had a coffee in Caledonian at the airport. Possibly the worst run restaurant in Glasgow, if not the world. Today we were served promptly, but others were complaining loudly and getting nowhere. When it came to paying, nobody wanted to take our money. There were some dazed looking servers going around doing anything but serve. Really, giving somebody a credit card machine isn’t enough. You have to teach them how to use them and also how to respond to a customer trying to catch your eye. Eventually Scamp had to go to the bar and pay there. All this on a really quiet weekday. Heaven knows what it will be like at a busy weekend in the summer. Caledonian, there is a difference between laid back and totally unconscious.

Bumpy flight down to Londinium, but a nice gentle, controlled landing into rainy Gatwick. Sitting in the airport bus I saw the PoD. Wide angle shot of the plane from just under the port wingtip. Only had time for one grab shot. One in the bag.

Inside the terminal, we wandered around the car park until we eventually found directions to the Express Pick Up hidden round a corner behind the lifts. Just got there as Neil was drawing into a parking space. He drove us back to the house in their new (manual drive) car. Very comfortable and a nice array of ‘tronics in it. Listened to an interesting Spotify playlist Pop goes Classical. It’s now on my list too.

Lunch was pizza (for me, I forget what everyone else had) at a garden centre near the house. We’d been there before and that’s how I knew to order pizza. Small, thin with good toppings. Lovely.

Came home and found that the photo I’d taken at the airport wasn’t on the card! The bag was empty. Took some photos of the figs growing in the front garden, but the actual PoD was a shot of Mal sleeping on Hazy’s bed.

The early rise was beginning to catch up with me. I went for a snooze before dinner and what was dinner? It was take away pizza. Not as good, in my opinion, as the one in the garden centre, but it was a Domino’s and it had anchovies in it. Why don’t we get them in Cumbersheugh? Maybe they don’t travel well. We watched Moana, another Disney film. We are reverting to our childhood.

May go to Kingston tomorrow.

The Long Arm of the Law – 20 August 2018

This morning I was up and out early, very early for me.

Picked up June just after 8am, then picked up the (im)patient, Shona, then it was on to the M80 and a fairly clear run into Glasgow until Robroyston where traffic started to queue up. Actually, I was surprised we hadn’t run into more traffic earlier, but I suppose the workers were already in work and the school run doesn’t usually involve motorway driving. Got parked fairly quickly and easily, sent the mum and daughter off on their travels and settled down with a good book, Becky Chambers – Record of a Spaceborn Few. Strange SF, but really enthralling. I’d only been sitting a few minutes when I saw Scamp’s text -“Remember to look for the coffee shops.” Cryptic, but I knew what she meant and went in search of the coffee shops.

It turned out to be just the one coffee shop, an independent with a large frontage. Got a very decent take-away Americano and a packet of biscuits and went back to the comfort of the car.

Soon afterwards the twosome returned with smiles on their faces. It was a different doctor Shona had seen and he had pronounced her fit and ‘normal’ whatever ‘normal’ means. Anyway, that was the result they were hoping for and puts her back in the queue for the operation she’s been waiting for. He also suggested she had “white coat syndrome” as so many of us have.

Back home I got ready and took the Dewdrop out for a run, having stuffed a poly bag in my rucksack on the chance that I found some brambles along the way. I did and came home with just over 400g of berries and a bruised knee where I’d fallen down a banking in among the brambles. It was a good run, although one knee was aching and the other one was grazed and bruised. Today’s PoD came from that cycling visit. A wee dragonfly perched on some builder’s rubble on a fly-tip site.

After dinner we went to Glasgow to find that the parking charges had gone up and there was no 6.30pm class any more. That’s what happens when you miss one week of salsa. Today’s move was Lizzie and for once I managed to get it right.

Came home and checked in with police 101 to tell them we were available to hand over the footage from the dash cam. Just after 10.30 two polis arrived and had a look at the footage on the computer and agreed that as there wasn’t much damage to the car and none to the occupants, it was unlikely the matter would go to court. Breathe a sigh of relief. Still not totally settled yet, but I should know the final result by the end of the week.

Tomorrow? Going in to Glasgow to get my hair cut and probably cut mats for the painting and the two photos for the flower show.

An Inspector Calls – 17 August 2018

Any day that starts with a phone call from the polis is going to be a downer.

Luckily this call was just to check that I still had the dash cam footage of the wee bump last Sunday and to check that he could pick it up next week.

After that, and after almost finishing my latest Stuart MacBride book. Just a few pages left now to take time over. Good Scottish humour. Anyway, after that Scamp suggested we drive out to Morrison’s in Falkirk to get ’the messages’ and also maybe have lunch there. It was a sound suggestion and as she was driving, how could I resist.

After loading up the car and heading home we stopped at Halfords to get a dash cam for her car too. After much cajoling she had agreed to have one. We pointed the sales assistant at the one we wanted, a 312GW and off he went to find it. We also wanted it fitted, so we booked a time slot for Monday at 1pm. Then the assistant dived away and came back with about six boxes and started scanning them through. I told him I didn’t think we’d need the nice wee fitted case and asked what all the other things were. He told us they were part of the deal.

  • A case for the camera. (Why? To take it on its holidays perhaps?)
  • Another case with another SD card????
  • A pola filter to remove glare from the dashboard. Something we didn’t need.
  • The camera itself
  • An SD card. Ok, we needed that.

Scamp stopped him in his tracks with HOW MUCH DOES THAT COME TO? The answer was these were part of ‘The Deal’ for £99. We said no thanks, just the camera, the SD card and the fitting kit. How much do they get paid in Halfords for ‘suggesting’ these deals? Anyway we got the necessary stuff and were just leaving when he said “So that’ll be 12 o’clock on Monday”. Hadn’t he said 1 o’clock? Yes, I confirmed, it was 1pm he’d said. Now it was a one hour time slot starting at 12 o’clock. We’ll stick to that. I had great confidence in the fitting the last time when mine was installed. I hope it’s the same bloke who fits Scamp’s, rather than one who can’t tell the time, but knows how to hike the price of a dash cam. Back home and I did a quick fix to get the camera checked, installed and working until it gets plumbed in on Monday some time around midday. It was Monday, wasn’t it?

Grabbed about an hour in St Mo’s to get some beastie pictures as Scamp calls them. PoD was a hover fly holding on to a yellow flower in a stiffening breeze.

Out to Crawford and Nancy’s for dinner tonight with June and Ian. Great time and great food. Just a late night.

Tomorrow? Lunch is booked at the Cotton House. Chinese food for a change.

Another early rise – 14 August 2018

This time we were all up fairly early

Today our visitors were returning home, back down the long road south. It was a dull morning, but the ‘going home’ morning is always dull. After breakfast they packed the bags in the car and they were off, just five minutes after their predicted time. It must be a world record!

With the rest of the day to fill, we sat for a while listening to the thumps and bangs from the workmen next door installing a new boiler and complaining to anyone who would listen that this was the second one they’d done in two days. But work was waiting for us too. Scamp filled the washing machine and set it to grumble through the first of many loads. While she was hanging it out, I started to pick the peas which as JIC had predicted were beginning to grow hard. Hopefully we’ve got them just in time. Since there was little likelihood of the remainder of the few flowers that were left setting any pea pods, we cut the plants down, composted some and put the rest in the recycling bin. I freshened up the soil where they had grown and planted some more leeks. Remembering that I’d said I’d prune the roses round the back door after lunch.

Sat for a while on the back step watching the birds lining up to for their turn at the dire sourdough bread we bought in Stirling on Saturday. Although it’s called sourdough, it’s actually the yeast that’s supposed to be sour. That’s where those bakers made their mistake. Their bread was sour. Birds didn’t seem to mind and today’s PoD is of part of the queue waiting for their slice of the bread in the rain.

I started to prune the roses after lunch, but the rain got heavier, the clothes were brought in and hung to dry indoors and my loppers were put away for another day.

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying unsuccessfully to get an old Zip drive to spring into life. I now think it’s a dodgy power supply that’s causing the problem, but as it’s a bit of an antique now, I think it will soon be consigned, like the pea plants to the recycling bin.

A thoroughly miserable day, but we did have a quick practise of our Jive steps, so hopefully we’ll be up to the Seven Spins tomorrow. All Being Well.

Early one morning – 13 August 2018

Very early this morning, about 6.30am to be more precise.

Couldn’t sleep, so I did what I haven’t done for a long time, I got up, got dressed and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Sometimes it’s really lovely and other worldly in the early morning light. Today was one of those days. I thought it was dew that was lying on the plants, flowers and spider webs, oh yes, the spider webs. However it was just raindrops. Light fine smirr of raindrops everywhere. Took loads of photos, mainly macros and it was one of them. A tiny wee wet snail that took PoD. I also some shots of Mr Grey, still looking half asleep, standing like a statue on a rock in the pond. Later I got a few of him stalking and catching his breakfast. The speed he can flash that beak out to trap an unwary fish is quite surprising. Came home feeling a lot better, but now tired, and had breakfast with everyone else.

After breakfast I went up to the police station to make the statement about the accident. Lady there took all the details, watched the dash cam video and smiled at the bit where I swore. Then she told me I’d be contacted in a day or two by a police officer who would go over the information with me.

By the time I was coming home, it was raining and the visitors were preparing to go and visit David Marshall Lodge or DML as we’ve always called it. If the weather didn’t suit there, they had plan B which was to go in to Glasgow and visit the GOMA. As it turned out, plan B wasn’t needed because they’d had a fairly dry day and they went from DML to the Kelpies in Grangemouth. While they were out in the countryside, Scamp and I drove to Torwood Garden Centre to buy some leek plants to replace the Calabrese I’d dug up yesterday after cutting the last heads from them. We also got a bay tree to replace the one that suffered in the drought a month or so ago. Scamp liked the look of some fluffy looking daisies, so we got them too. Then we had lunch and drove home.

When the wanderers returned we went to Milano for dinner. Pizza Napolitana for me because I like it and because I couldn’t get a Neapolitan pizza in Napoli (Naples). We had a great night which culminated in a shocked look on Jamie’s face when a birthday cake was brought out and the staff all sang Happy Birthday … but it wasn’t for him! It was for a man at the next table. Jamie’s look of relief was a sight!!

Nobody was drinking much when we came home. Long day for the visitors tomorrow ‘cos they’re going home.

Stirling – 11 August 2018

The city with something for everyone.

While JIC, Sim and Steffi were visiting Stirling Castle, we too, or we two, were also in the town. It’ll never be a city to me. It’s just a jumped up town with a good curry shop and an interesting art gallery, oh yes, and a Waterstones and a Nero. The rest I can do without quite happily. Glasgow? It’s a city. Embra is a city too, Even Aberdeen is a city covered in granite and seagulls, but Stirling is just a decent sized town. Our reason for visiting today was to have lunch in that good curry shop. A few years ago it was on a downward slope, but it seems to have got its act together again and is now back on the up. New seating and maybe a bit less scruffy interior, but thankfully they decided to keep the menu as it was. Wise people. Scamp’s Veg Pakora followed by Veg Dhansak seemed to satisfy the lady and although my Haggis Pakora was a bit heavy and my Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna was a bit too spicy, it was deliciously sweet and full of flavour, so I won’t complain. It seems, like I said, that they are back on track. The foodies said so!

Had a look in the Art Gallery and appraised the offerings there. Some were just too twee and rejected out of hand, but a couple of others were in the category or “I’d but that if my lottery ticket came up”. Not having bought a lottery ticket, that purchase was unlikely, but the artist, Julian Mason, really had worked out how to paint wet water. As if I could do anything like that.

When we’d parked we couldn’t help but notice the number of Italian motorhomes that seemed to have taken over the carpark. They were still there when we were going home. Scamp thought they were something to do with the European Championships which finish tomorrow. It’s as likely an explanation as any.

Not long after we got home, the other three arrived back from Stirling Castle and Doune Castle where Steffi had re-encacted the Quest for the Holy Grail, complete with coconut shells, as so many have done in the past I seem to remember.

I drove them all in to Glasgow to meet ’The Boys’, Andy and Chris, with respective wives. We’re not expecting them back until late when old folks like us will be tucked up in bed. On the way back I got some ice cream for Scamp and me from the cafe in Muirhead. Also got some Oddfellows sweeties and a stick of Gin ’n’ Tonic rock which tasted neither of Gin, nor of Tonic. Disappointing. Oddfellows are half finished though!

Today’s PoD is Scamp’s little rose bush she has grown from seed. It’s Sunday name is Little Gem, but it’s always been called Rosie and it flowers continuously all summer. It deserves its place as PoD.

Tomorrow the visitors may be going to Embra and we may go to Glasgow. It all depends on the weather.