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.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the party to begin – 10 August 2018

JIC, Sim and Steffi were coming today. It’s a long drive for them and a long wait for us.

After a morning spend tidying up, Dysoning, dusting and generally making the place spick and span, we headed out in the rain to Kirkintilloch for lunch at Calders garden centre. Lunch was fine, better than a lot of places we’ve been to recently and afterwards we had a walk round the plants while the rain thumped down on the roof of the covered area. We also ventured out in the rain to rove further into the plant area. I was impressed with the way the place was set out, with very few single species arrays beside other single species arrays. Instead, most of the displays were of mixed plants, different colours, different textures and varying heights. Now that’s a refreshingly different way to show off plants. Not so good if you’re searching for a specific plant, but if you want to see what plants complement others, it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, we weren’t looking for plants today. I was looking for a new coarse rose for the watering can, specifically one that could be used to water in the nematodes I’d received in the post this morning. We found lots of ornaments, cards, books, scarves, mottos and pictures, none of which I would have in the house and none of which would be at all good for watering in the nematodes. That’s the big problem with garden centres. The outdoor part may have plenty of plants, but the indoor section is jammed full of tat!

Came home in sunshine, roseless. Then Scamp offered an old watering can with a fairly coarse plastic rose. I decided it might just do and if it didn’t, I could drill out a few of the holes with the power drill. I was right for once. It was almost coarse enough, but after drilling out most of the holes with a power drill, it was fine for the job. Or should that be coarse for the job? With the nematodes now burrowing deep into the soil to find some tasty vine weevil grubs, my work was done for the day.

After a cup of tea I grabbed my camera and went in search of some photos in St Mo’s. Found Mr Grey close enough to photograph, some ‘beasties’ and also some Rudbeckia flowering in the wild garden that volunteers planted a couple of years ago. The Rudbeckia won PoD, just like it did last year!!

Finally at about 7pm the visitors arrived and we spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking and talking. Just really catching up. Scamp spent a short time showing off our garden front and back and we admired the veg that JIC and Sim had brought with them.

Tomorrow they go to Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument and we may go to Embra.

What you need is a dirty big spanner – 4 August 2018

Never a truer word spoken. If only I could get a dirty big spanner!

Both of us were loathe to get out of bed this morning. Both of us reading books that were totally unputdownable. Finally we sort of drew lots to decide who would go for a shower first. I chose to be the first to close the book.

With the plans for the day in ruins, we settled on Perf as Glasgow would be overrun with folk wanting to go to the Championships and Embra was winding itself up tight for the festival but the east was looking better than the west weatherwise. Also, I wanted some (more) coffee – you can never have too much coffee, can you JIC? Finally, I knew there was a good bike shop where I was sure I could get a pedal spanner. Perf it was then.

We drove through drizzle which turned to intermittent rain which turned to heavy and then torrential rain until we got to Gleneagles where the rain mysteriously stopped and blue sky opened out above us. The sun was shining and, although there were heavy black clouds in the rear view mirror, there was brightness ahead. We’d made the right decision.

Parked in our usual carpark which used to be an expensive NCP until they sold out to the Perf council who applied sensible charges. Not something that happens every day and not something that will ever happen to NLC. We walked in to the town and through the ‘farmers market’. I had a look in the Oxfam bookshop, but there wasn’t much to enthral me and the two prats who seemed to be in charge were too busy boosting each others egos with pompous reviews of films they’d seen and became so irritating I left empty handed.

Scamp suggested lunch in Cafe Tabou and we got a table without any bother, mainly because it was quite early. I’d forgotten just how good the food is there, but Salad du Chef and Traditional Cassoulet reminded me. Just simple good food well cooked and presented. Ok, it’s not quite so simple if you have to cook it yourself, but it appears to be simple food and that’s the clever part. We left feeling that we’d both eaten well. Scamp’s was Seafood Risotto followed by Coley en Croute.

Walked down to cycle shop, but he didn’t have a pedal spanner in stock. Typical. On to The Bean Shop, only to find that they’d run out of the coffee beans I was coming to buy. They’d have them in by Thursday or definitely by Friday. Disappointment number three. We went down to the river and stood on the overhanging vantage point to look down on the river. Just like being on a ship. The water was very low, even the rain we’ve had for the last week wasn’t enough to raise the water level by much. Turned and headed for the carpark although I knew there was another bike shop I could try near the carpark. Again, they didn’t have the spanner. This was beginning to sound a bit repetitive. However one of the mechanics gave me some interesting tips, like soak the joint in Coke! Apparently the phosphoric acid in Coke will destroy the aluminium oxide that causes the two metals to seize! Gave up and headed for home and Halfords.

The sun was still shining and it shone all the way to Cumbersheugh. Stopped at Halfords and yes, they did have a pedal spanner. It looked like a toy one. The handle wasn’t much bigger than the one I’d used last night. I said I wanted a ‘real’ one and he admitted that it might not be any good, then he showed me the one the bike mechanics used, but they don’t sell that one any more. Typical. It was a real one. I left empty handed for the fifth time that day.

I decided that it was worth driving in to Glasgow to see if Dales was open. Scamp agreed. Drove in parked and almost immediately found exactly what I was looking for. A sensible looking spanner with a long handle to give a decent bit of leverage and for a sensible price. Bought it, said thank you and headed home to sort that bike out!

Removed both wheels. Jammed the left crank in the workmate and tried that dirty big spanner. After the second try the white flag went up from the pedal and the bolt turned. Success at last. Both the mechanics in Perf had agreed that what was needed was a dirty big spanner. They were right. Now, before I put the SPDs on, I’m going to grease the threads well, so I don’t have to go through that rigmarole again.

PoD today was a macro shot of a rose. According to Scamp its name is Troika. It has beautiful colours and even more beautiful perfume.

Tomorrow I think we may be getting Public Transport in to Glasgow to see a cycle race and then I’m hopefully going to bolt the cleats on to my new cycle shoes, bolt the new SPDs in place with the dirty big spanner and then go for a run on my carefully washed and cleaned Dewdrop.

Dancin’ and Meltin’ – 2 August 2018

Raindrops keep falling …

The garden was a wonderland this morning. The drizzle and smirr we had last night had resulted in lots of little beads of water on all the plants. I tried both macro lenses on them, but surprisingly, it was the little 30mm on the Oly that produced the PoD. Raindrops on a sweet pea. With a photo in the bag, next on the agenda was dancin’.

We left early, not knowing just how busy Glasgow would be with the start of the European Championships. Traffic was light, but we had to park two floors higher than usual in the carpark and that sort of told us that the town was indeed busy. Lots of guards round George Square, looking officious, scanning people and opening their bags. Yes, I know they have to be ultra careful these days, but this was the first real day and I think they just wanted to use those scanners! Some crap bands were belting out noise from the covered stage that had been set up in the square. People I’d never heard of, although that is no indication of their fame. At least the rain had held off.

We got down to the pub, which hosts the dance class, a bit early because of our early start.  The door was locked which is unusual. A class sounded as if it was in full swing though, the previous class is an advanced jive class, one man and loads of women. We decided we’d go for a walk round the block as we were a wee bit early. Arrived back just a bit before starting time and managed to get in because one of the barmen was coming out. Nobody was dancing, then the other two couples we share the class with started in on the waltz. That’s when we realised that the class was starting at 1pm, not 1.30 as usual. Oops, we were late! Soon got into the waltz and I almost mastered the turn for the second promenade. I think I would have mastered it if it wasn’t for the other two couples standing arguing right in the dancing line. Some people are so thoughtless. After we’ve finished our line, or more likely aborted it, we clear out of the dancing space, but these other couples don’t bother and walk right in front of you. One day soon there will be a collision and there will be no dash cam to record it.

After the waltz we had a short go at ballroom Tango. It’s about as much like Argentinian Tango as Ballroom Salsa is like Cuban. It was still difficult enough for me.
Then it was jive time and we were attempting to master the first six spins. Almost did it too with a little help from Scamp telling me what spin came next. Still a bit of practise needed there. The place by this time was melting. Sweat was dripping from all of us. I think they must have had the heating turned up.

Cup of coffee in Nero to cool down, then back home. Dinner was Aloo Saag from the Bosh book and although it is fiddly to make, it tastes very authentic. Best of all, there’s enough for tomorrow too.

That was about it. The rain that threatened all day finally arrived just about 4pm and outstayed its welcome. It’s becoming a bit of a pain now. Enough rain!  Go and play somewhere else. We’ll tell you when we need you again.

Tomorrow? Maybe the dreaded Decathlon at Braehead. Worse still, it may also include a visit to IKEA!

100% chance of rain – 29 July 2018

My weather app told the truth, but not the whole truth.

Today began with the wet stuff falling from the sky. There was no point in going anywhere in the morning at least, because it rained all morning. Heavy rain, light rain, drizzle and then back to heavy rain again. Wet, life giving rain. As Scamp said, it’s good that it’s not just torrential rain all day. That would just run off the garden and down a drain somewhere. The drizzle soaks the ground and gives a chance for the heavier rain to be somewhat absorbed, then when the ground becomes overwhelmed by the heavy rain, the drizzle gives it time to become completely absorbed by the grass, plants and soil. Sensible rain.

By afternoon I was becoming tired of the rain. Ok, it had done its job and watered the garden, but I wanted to go out and take photos. I couldn’t enjoy doing that in the rain. I gave in and brought the garden into the house. Well, a little bit of the garden. One sweet pea on a stem. I set up a little studio in the back bedroom with a black tee shirt as a backdrop, two clothes pegs holding up the stem and my camera on a Gorilla Pod. Managed to get low ISO shots that way of the sweet pea and the texture of the raindrops to give it some life. Couldn’t quite get the right angle on the flower head, but I got the sharpness I wanted. Good enough, I think.

We’d decided earlier to have a ‘filling lunch’ and a late dinner because we were going to a salsa social in Paisley. On the way in we were watching a BIG black cloud draping itself over the Campsie Fells and by the time we reached Glasgow it had descended on us. Rain wasn’t quite torrential, but it was heavy. Social was fun, but I was cautious as my leg was feeling good since Thursday and I wanted it to stay that way. When we left La Rambla, an hour and a half later, the sun was shining again from a clear blue sky. Well, that was two seasons in one day!

Watched Vettel flouting the rules again in the Hungarian GP. If he did that on the open road, he’d be arrested. Maybe he should be. Anyway, what does it matter to me? Will it change the price of fish? I doubt it.

Tomorrow? No plans, but it looks wet in the morning and better in the afternoon. Might take my bike for a run in the car, and then a run in the country. We’ll see.

Gardening on a grand scale – 27 July 2018

Gardening 24/7? Not for me.

The day started with me doing patient transport to Stobhill so Shona could return her ambulatory BP monitor and I, for one, am glad I don’t have to type that phrase again this week. With that done, and the miracle of being able to park just at the front door of the hospital for the second day in a row, I drove home to pick up the loaf I’d baked last night (sorry, forgot to mention that in the blog for the 26th July) and head off to Colin’s house for coffee.

He’d sent me his postcode, but I knew there were at least three houses there, so which one? I parked across the road and decided that the first on the list was the best bet, and there he was pottering. Isn’t that what all gardeners do in a greenhouse? Anyway, this was a real greenhouse with the heady aroma of ripening tomatoes and earth. It also looked like a greenhouse with trowels, pots, seed packets and plants. I really meant to get a photo, it would have made an beautiful B&W shot. Maybe next time if I’m allowed. His first question was “Where’s Scamp”. Of course he used her ‘real name’ which is NOT Scamp. I explained that she was busy gardening, i.e. pruning ‘things’ and cutting the grass. Oops. Now that I realise what I’d written, it did sound as if Scamp was joining me. Anyway Colin took me a conducted tour of his garden which is extensive and all encompassing. When I saw his show chrysanthemums with their paper hats on, it took me back about 55 years to my Uncle George growing his show chrysanthemums, although he never called them Chrysanthemums, he called them ‘Crysants’, and thankfully, that’s what Colin called them too. Actually, when I smelled the tomatoes, that took me back to my Uncle Jimmy’s smallholding where he grew tomatoes. He was always at pains to tell me never to eat a tomato without sprinkling it with salt. Try it with and without. You’ll never eat tomatoes without salt again. Jimmy and George were brothers-in-law. The link between the too was Uncle Jimmy’s wife, my Uncle Jean and Uncle George’s sister. She was a scary woman, but she put up with me eating strawberries on her smallholding when I was supposed to be weighting them for market, because she was my mum’s cousin. Confused? Don’t worry. There’s nothing so complicated as families.

After our garden tour we had coffee and a fairly extensive chat with Colin and Evelyn for an hour or so, before it was time for me to go and I wasn’t allowed to go empty handed, so tomatoes, chillies and a cucumber were pressed upon me and off I went. It was a lovely day although the heat was becoming oppressive in the latter part of the afternoon.

Back home we had a wander through our small patch and I got some photos. Star of the day was to be a wasp drinking from the birdbath, but then I got a nice shot of a Potentilla and that immediately became PoD, mainly due to the colour contrasts between the blues in the background and the orange flowers.

Just before we decided to come in after dinner, the first peal of thunder sounded. Later there was some lightning and more thunder. It’s even rained a bit tonight, but we really need more. I’m sure it will come over the weekend.

Good day. Really enjoyed the visit to a big garden, however, our own little postage stamp is a lot easier for us to manage. Tomorrow? Maybe lunch in Glasgow and a look for a pair of SPD pedals and shoes.

Turning the Tables – 20 July 2018

Found some woodwork to do for a change.

Scamp was off visiting one of her old friends out near Denny which left me with nothing to do and all morning to do it. It was raining for a change, so cycling was out. I could have gone to the gym, but that didn’t hold any fascination for me, so I started to tackle a bit of homework that’s been on my to-do list for a long time. My dad had an old folding card table, beech framed and covered with a green baize top. I’ve used it as a computer table and a painting table for years now, but the baize was torn and peeling off and the top was sagging in the middle. It really needs a new top and a new piece of green baize. Today I stripped the green felt off then carefully removed the hardboard top. That left the rebate in the top filled with the glued on felt. It took me over an hour, working with a couple of chisels to cut, pare and scrape the felt off. Then I had to decide what to do about the top. I’m still not sure. It really should be replaced, but I’m thinking it might be an idea to use plywood in place of hardboard because it is more stable. Went to price 3 or 4mm plywood in B&Q. I need a piece 503mm square, but the biggest offset they had was only 450mm wide. The only other option was a 2m x 0.6m sheet at an exorbitant price. I’ll have a look around. Maybe I’ll be able to find an off-cut down the Barras. Anyway, the hard work is done now, just the reassembly to do.

Did think of going over to St Mo’s to see if anything wanted its photo taken, but the day was unispiring with little directional light, so it was a last minute garden safari instead. It secured me PoD which is a flower from one of my Ambassador pea plants.

No plans for tomorrow. It’s forecast to be a better day than today, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

The day that the rains came – 15 July 2018

It rained today, on St Swithin’s Day.

It hasn’t rained here for almost a month, then, today it rained. It was St Swithin’s day. If it rains on St Swithin’s, it’s supposed to rain for forty days. I suppose my shorts can go into the washing basket now along with the tee shirts and the short sleeved shirts. Might as well get the Bergy jackets looked out and the wellies. I should really start to sandbag the doors front and back to hold back the torrents. However, on looking on the bright side, I can put away the garden hose almost until September! If you believe the superstition, that is. What if you don’t? Does that mean it won’t rain on you? Will you have a little invisible umbrella shielding you from the downpour that’s soaking all the ‘believers’ ? I’ll go with that view. I’ll be an unbeliever, even if it means I have to keep watering the garden.

It was good to see the rain today, even if it wasn’t all that heavy. It was good to see the streets looking black again. Good to see the soil soaking up the moisture. I even put on my ‘rainy coat’ and went for a walk across to St Mo’s just to say I’d been out in it. The ground had that lovely smell of rain on dry earth that only comes after a long, hot, dry spell and the rain wasn’t cold. I even wore my shorts to better feel the warm rain. I managed to get some shots of a damp Soldier Beetle sitting on a Cow Parsley head and remembered that my mum used to call Cow Parsley, Dug’s Flourish. I never did find out why, but when I Googled the english version ‘Dogs Flourish’, back came confirmation from a few places on the Central Belt of Scotland, each with different possible reasons for the name. What’s in a name?

Under Scamp’s tutelage I cooked some stew using a combination of her mum’s and my mum’s methods. It worked, of course. With that lineage, how could it fail. That was dinner tonight. Something simple and homely. For me, Potatoes, Stewed Steak and Calabrese which is a variety of sprouting broccoli. Scamp substituted Ratatouille (or Rats) for the Stewed Steak. Both seemed to go down well, resulting in clean plates.

The rain persisted almost all day but is fading away now as darkness falls.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. No dancing because it’s Glasgow Fair Monday and although nobody bothers with ‘The Fair’, the STUC building is closed because it’s a local holiday. Old habits die hard.

Pizza, roses and new specs

Out at midday to catch up with Val.

Coffee in the usual place and an hour or two of chat, then back to pick up Scamp for a visit to Simpson in Larkhall to pick up new lenses for Scamp and new specs for me. Couldn’t decide on dinner and finally opted for pizza, home made of course.

After making the dough, I knew I had at least an hour to wait for it to prove before I could start, so that was as good an excuse as possible for a seat in the garden under a partly cloudy sky to read and drink a glass of wine. We even got a chance to use our Garden Scotland glass holders. Took some photos of flowers and things in the garden and the Ruby Wedding rose got PoD.

Pizzas were made and consumed and basically that was it for a warm Friday with just the hint of dampness in the air. I did detect a couple of tiny spots of rain on my Kindle, but it didn’t come to anything.

Tomorrow I think we’re going to Glasgow to see the Gay Pride march. It’s been quite an ‘interesting’ show for the last two years. Hopefully the rain will stay away for another day.

Only half a day – 12 July 2018

I woke about 5.30 this morning and just couldn’t get back to sleep.

After I finally entered dreamland, it took me ages to find the exit. I felt really rough. My throat was dry and itchy and my head felt thicker than normal. It was Scamp’s turn to get breakfast, which was just as well. I ate my muesli, drank my tea, turned over and went back to sleep. Scamp woke me at 11 with another cup of tea and some toast. That gave me enough strength to go, get showered, get dressed and do my exercises (see JIC, even when I’m feeling ill, I do as the physio tells me). Feeling a lot better, I re-entered the land of the living around midday. Wandered round the garden and decided it was time for lunch.

After two boiled eggs Scamp drove us to Asda for the messages. We usually go to Tesco, but we went to Asda for a change. I used to avoid it because that’s where all the school kids went to shoplift shop. Now, after four years of freedom, I hardly recognise any of them and none of them seem to recognise me, thank goodness. Possibly they see me smiling and think “Nah. Couldn’t be him”. Laden down with goodies and not so goodies, we made our way back home.

The back garden, especially looked a bit in need of watering, so I unrolled the hose and gave everything a good blast. I didn’t have anything as a photo, so I took a walk to St Mo’s. It still strikes me as strange to go over there wearing a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. Unnatural. Found myself a PoD in the picture of a hover fly apparently egg laying. I was quite impressed with the quality of image from the Nikon and the Sigma 105mm. I also got a shot of a flower head set out in a pentagon. Most unusual. I didn’t notice what the plant looked like, but I’ll go back tomorrow with my plant book and try to find it.

When I came home I sat in the garden for a while before we had dinner, Stir Fry. After dinner we soaked up the last of today’s sun before we went in.

Had intended going to Embra at the weekend, but apparently there are to be rallies there complaining about Donald Trump being allowed to visit Scotland or to breathe air or something. Anyway, it won’t make any difference to DT and it would probably spoil our day, so we’re going to choose a different, non-DT destination.

Tomorrow the plan is to get up at a normal time, meet Val for coffee and then go to Larky to pic up our optical devices,