15 Dec

Ice is not nice – 14 December 2017

An icy morning. Jac’s taxi didn’t come, so I volunteered to drive her to the station.

It wasn’t all that cold, but it had snowed during the night and the snow had melted, then frozen again and now that ice was melting, on the surface at least and that meant it was treacherous. The Juke performed perfectly, I couldn’t fault it. Unfortunately there was a queue of traffic heading along towards St Mo’s taking the children who can’t walk if it’s cold, or windy, or wet, or dry, or too hot, or too tired, or .. well, you get the picture. I turned at the roundabout and took the longer, but much quicker way round the back of Blackwood and then through the new estates to the station. Got there with plenty of time for Jac to catch the train (the next train, that is). Came home the same way because, although the queue was shorter, it was still there and resolutely not moving. Walked back from the car and that was when I found out just how slippery the surface was. Slid all the way down the short slope to the house. Didn’t fall, luckily, but Scamp decided it would help other folk if I spread some chippings on the path. Such a simple solution and it worked.

After lunch Scamp parceled up the Christmas parcels for JIC and Sim and I took them to be posted at Tesco. Got that completed and stopped off at St Mo’s to take some foties. Liked the shot through the trees also liked the shot of the swan attempting a tricky landing on ice, but decided the trees won PoD. The rest were good, but not great. I was better prepared for the ice this time with a pair of walking boots, real ones, not Clarks flashy looking, but ultimately useless Goretex ones. The ice was melting in the areas the late sun was reaching, but as I was leaving I could see thin icy fingers stretching out across the puddles. (Oh dear, I came over all ‘Nigella’ there!)

Later in the afternoon I finished last week’s Zentangle doodle. I thought these things were beneath me, but they are more difficult than they look. You need a good eye and a steady hand to produce the accurate linework.

That was about it for the day. The highlight of the day was going to Tesco. Some days are like that.

Tomorrow, I may be joining Scamp for a coffee with Shona!

15 Dec

Slipped the Leash – 13 December 2017

This morning, Scamp and her sister were off into town. I had a chance to slip the leash.

Ended up doing a bit of sketching and pastel drawing, but nothing serious enough to be considered for public viewing. I also made some yogurt, repaired a bit of the kitchen ceiling and finished off an iron-on transfer for a tee shirt.  Eventually, after lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s and just missed the last of the good light. What I did find was a quadricopter drone stuck up a tree. After a bit of work energetically throwing chunks of branches at it, it finally dropped to earth. It really was in a sorry state, but it did have a camera and after a bit of examination, I extracted the micro SD card. Like the rest of the drone it was fairly well corroded, but with some careful scraping with a scalpel, the contacts were clean enough to download the video of its last flight, all 2.5minutes of it. It’s not the best resolution, but it does show the dangers of flying too close to tall pine trees!

My one decent photo from the day and my PoD was entitled “Slipped the Leash” on Flickr. Quite fitting.

Tonight Scamp, Jackie and I drove down to Bombay Dreams for dinner with June and Ian. Our combo starter was enormous and while others less used to the size of the restaurant’s portions were eating their way through it, Scamp and I were more careful. Mains were also their usual size and just as tasty as always. Entertainment was provided by the two twin waiters. One serious, the other telling jokes with such a deadpan expression you wondered if it was a joke at all. All this while snow was falling outside. This was the first expedition in the snow in the Juke and it performed perfectly. It even climbed the hill to the house without a single grumble. Nice car.

Jackie heads to Embra tomorrow and depending on the weather we may go to Stirling.

15 Dec

The end of the ice age – 12 December 2017

Woke up to -5.5ºc, but my weather app said it would rain by 2.30pm. Nah, I don’t think so, somehow.

Spent most of the morning clearing up the back bedroom for Jackie. You might not think so to look at it, but you didn’t see it before I started!

After lunch I drove in to Glasgow to BUY STUFF. It didn’t really matter what I was buying, I just had to BUY STUFF. Well, that’s the way it felt until I realised I’d just had a near miss with the Xmas shopping bug and decided to be a bit more pragmatic. While I was driving in the rain started, just after the predicted time of 2.30pm and walking down Bucky Street in the rain, yesterday’s Christmas Card feel completely disappeared. This was back to business as usual. After managing to get all the things I’d come for (and a few more), I met up with Jackie off her bus from Skye and we drove home still in the rain.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Thighs with Leeks and Petit Pois (peas to you), from a Nigella. It was full of the gorgeous grains of green from the peas and the subtle mild onionniness of the leeks, but mainly the golden goodness of the chicken thighs. There, that’s a better description in Nigella language!

Today’s PoD is of the reflections in Exchange Square in Glasgow.

Tomorrow, it looks like there may be some snow in the forecast. I think I may be pastel painting while the sisters hit the ‘Toon’.

15 Dec

Many Hands – 2 December 2017

Well, we could have gone to Embra today if we could have been bothered to get up and go, but we didn’t. Just as well, as Hazy said she wanted to Skype which is her prerogative, it being her birthday and we both sang the compulsory “Happy Birthday” to her which made her laugh, as it always does.  Hope you had a lovely day Hazy.

Afterwards, we drove to Kilsyth to go to Lidl for sweeties and things for Scamp’s Gems party and for her Witches party. I bumped into Mrs Gough who used to teach at Cumby High. Hard to believe that she left 15 years ago! Made me feel like a youngster. Next on the list was Home Bargains to pick up a toy each for the collection at the Salsa Ball tomorrow night, along with more sweeties and things for …

I suggested we go to B&Q in Bishopbriggs to look at floor lamps, because I’d seen some there during the week that looked fairly reasonable. Scamp crossed the road in the carpark and I, close behind nearly got flattened by a crazy old woman driving at breakneck speed in light grey car. She was obviously on a mission. If I’d got her number she would not only have been on a mission, she’d have been on a charge too. Geriatrics should stick to mobility scooters and zimmers, not real cars. At least, not until they pass the test.  None of the lights were deemed suitable, so we came home, once my heart rate had returned to normal.

Couldn’t be bothered going out to take photos when we got home because the light was already fading. What we did do later was order dinner from Bombay Dreams and it was the usual great quality and enormous portions, so it will be waiting for us for lunch tomorrow.

Many hands make light work, or so the Weemen discovered in today’s PoD. Unfortunately our light didn’t work, because we didn’t get one at B&Q. Maybe there is a lamp somewhere that will suit Scamp, but I don’t hold out much hope of finding it any time soon.

15 Dec

A Gaggle of Goosanders – 23 November 2017

Busy day. Lots of baking and cooking and clearing up and laying tables, because Isobel was coming for dinner.

Since Isobel is , I had to ignore my usual bread recipe and make bread with gluten-free flour, lots of water, lots of oil and two egg whites. I’ve made the bread before and it turned out, much to my surprise, perfectly edible. Today, I was a bit more confident than I was last time, and possibly it’s true that familiarity breeds contempt. Made the dough, or more correctly, white slurry and poured it into a cake tin to rise. I reckoned I had an hour or so free, since Scamp would be out herding Gems into Abronhill for the afternoon, so I drove down to Auchinstarry to walk the canal, the plantation and the railway.

Walking along the canal I came across a flock? Crowd? I eventually settled on Gaggle of Goosanders, sailing merrily up and down the canal. Chasing one another and diving for fish. I don’t think I’ve seen so many. Too many to count and because they were crossing paths and almost crashing into one another, a pointless task to count them. I only see them on the canal in the winter. Do they overwinter here? Must check.

Dogs. Why are there so many dogs and doggy owners in the world? They all seemed to be congregating at Auchinstarry. It seemed that everywhere I looked there were dogs or folk looking for dogs. There was one exception, apart from me. One dog seemed to be following me and also seemed to be looking for an owner. My “Sorry mate. I’m not the owner you’re looking for” didn’t faze it at all. In fact it ran ahead of me and then waited until it was sure I was catching up before running on. Did it want me to follow it, or does that only happen in Lassie (or, if you’re Scottish, Black Bob)? But then it got distracted. A cyclist came down the path going in the opposite direction and it immediately chose him as its lost owner. The last I saw of it was the black blur tailing the cyclist for all it was worth, far down the path. I hope it got home safely.

Crossed into the plantation and came upon a woman delightedly ‘training’ her Staffie to ‘SIT’ and ‘STAY’. I don’t know who was having the most fun, the dog or her. A few bends later I noticed the buzzard sitting majestically in a tree and grabbed a few shots, before being investigated by what looked like two Dobermans with half their legs cut off. Maybe they were miniature Dobermans OR, as they both had sparkly rhinestone collars, maybe they were miniature Doberwomans. I’d have asked the owner what variety of dog they were, but she swept imperiously past without a word. Thankfully the rest of the walk was dog-free as was the trip to Tesco afterwards.

Got home to find that the bread had risen quite well, too well in fact and was oozing down the sides of the cake tin and over the worktop. Oops. Time to put the oven on I think. Spent the remainder of the afternoon making Pesto and Marinara sauce to cover the Italian Chicken. Thanks again Neil D’ for that recipe. The bread baked fine and was deemed a success by Isobel and Scamp. The chicken was partly successful as we hadn’t known that Isobel didn’t eat tomatoes, but she did manage to scrape the marinara off and all in all it was a good night. Lots of entertaining stories and just good conversation.

PoD was not the Goosander or the Buzzard, but the pretty white things growing over the canal. There’s no accounting for my taste!

Tomorrow I need to remove the door to the living room and the handles from the front door as the two seater is booked to make its exit to the charity shop. Seating will be at a premium then until Monday. Scamp has suggested that we utilize the sun loungers. It seems sensible because they were hardly ever used in the garden this summer!

15 Dec

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.

15 Dec

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. 
15 Dec

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!

15 Dec

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.

15 Dec

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.