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Recovery – 16 June 2018

I was exhausted today, it must have been that salsa dance last night.

So tired that I slept until almost 11am. Thankfully Scamp took pity on me and let me sleep on. Woke to the news that the GSA had burned down for the second time in four years. Such a pity after all the work that’s been put into it. Thankfully the new building wasn’t touched, but the old Mac building looks like a shell now. Perhaps that’s the way it should remain.

Didn’t do very much, didn’t even have to bring the car down from where I’d parked it last night. Scamp did the honours and drove down very carefully and parked it for me.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk to St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which is of a hover fly on a flowering weed. I just liked the shot. There’s a more arty one on Flickr if you care to visit it. It’s a leaf covered in water droplets from the torrential rain we had this morning.

Dinner was a frugal potatoes, fish fingers and spaghetti. Maybe frugal, but quite delicious. A house speciality.

That’s about it for today. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, but hopefully with a good outcome.

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Waiting, waiting, waiting – 15 June 2018

… for the party to begin. Going to a wedding reception tonight.

There wasn’t much else to do today apart from tidying up and getting organised. It was a much more relaxed day than yesterday. Spoke to Hazy in the morning and admired the views from JIC and Sim’s holiday cottage. That was about it.

Today’s PoD was taken in the garden. My delicate little yellow aquilegia that has withstood Storm Hector and is still smiling.

Finally the time came to get dressed and go to the reception in Bearsden. For once, a suit I’ve not worn for a year was too bit for me. I’ll say that again, TOO BIG. I had a kilt taken in yesterday and now may suit trousers need a belt to hold them up. What is happening to me? Don’t worry, I have the antidote to this strange malaise. I’m sure in a couple of weeks it will all seem like a slim dream and I’ll be back to reality. Just wait and see.

The reception was quite like the one we had for JIC and Sim four years ago. It was a Scottish reception for a friend who got married abroad. Only close family went to the wedding with the friends and in-laws attending the Scottish reception. It was the full rerun of the Italian reception with speeches and a cake. It was a good night. Got my birthday book signed by Jo, the author. As I was driving, and the bar only had Becks Blue on the ’no alcohol’ list, it was the Orange Fizz (Irn Bru) for me. We did do one salsa dance for half of a track at the insistence of Anju. I was being very careful of the ‘bad knee’ and so was Scamp. Still, we can now say we danced at Mhairi’s Wedding!

When we got home I had a bottle of Old Engine Oil to take away the synthetic taste of the Irn Bru and went to bed. So this blog entry is actually written after the event. I’m sure there will be a few sore heads among the Bearsden population on Saturday.

Tomorrow (well, today in reality) we won’t be going far.

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Quiche and Cross Body Salsa – 4 June 2018

The usual Monday but with baking.

I had expressed an interest in making a quiche today and my teacher was Scamp. It’s a long time since I’ve made shortcrust pastry from scratch, so that was the first lesson. With the pastry cooling and firming in the fridge, I took my virtual apron off for an hour or so to prep a few photos of Skye and Rannoch for Facebook. I had to get Scamp’s assistance again to upload them! After that I emailed Jackie whose quiche I was attempting to copy. Got the pastry made. Got the recipe. Good to go.

By then it was Gems time. Time for a hasty exit. I’d loads of stuff to take to the council tip and after that I went for a photo walk along the Luggie. That’s where the PoD came from. It’s a Wood Avens. Not a lot more to encourage me to photograph anything else, but it was warm and the sun was finally getting through.

Back home, I got started rolling the pastry (to the thickness of a pound coin) and fitting it into the baking tin. Pricked it all over with a fork and then blind baked it. Then I removed the ceramic baking beans and returned it to the oven to brown. Next I made up the egg and cream filling, blanched the broccoli and filled the pastry case with Hot Smoked Salmon pieces and the Broccoli then poured in the filling. Baked it and it’s smaller cousin (made in a smaller tin to use up the pastry) in the oven. Wee one was done well before the full size quiche was ready. We split the small one between us before we went to salsa.

Salsa tonight was a bit of a hotchpotch with Jamie and Will off, it fell to Shannon to teach the first advanced class and Alex (new teacher) to teach a free taster class on <spit> Cross Body Salsa which looks like salsa with a lot of fancy hand waving and posturing. It looked like there were going to be too many leaders in the advanced class, so I bowed out, partly because I had a headache and partly because I don’t want to waste my time being taught by these less capable ‘teachers’. Obviously I used a different word rather than ‘less capable’! Alex’s cross body class was also in that category as far as I was concerned. I’m afraid he didn’t win me over with his teaching style or his dance. Not for me.

Back home we shared a half of the big quiche and it too was excellent. Still needs work, but the basic structure is there.

Tomorrow, we have no plans. I may go in to Glasgow to get my hair cut.

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Dancin’ and drawin’, that’s a Wednesday – 30 May 2018

The day started badly, but improved … a bit.

Up early to go to the docs to get my blood taken. Sat for a while and finally went to check. Apparently my appointment which I’d been told was for 9.50 was actually for 8.50. Despite remonstrating with the receptionist, who I must say treated me like a retard, she was adamant that I was wrong. I was equally adamant that I was right. I eventually got another appointment for tomorrow. Came home slightly less incandescent than I left the health centre and wrote this suggestion to them:

Here’s a suggestion:
When a patient makes an appointment over the phone or at reception, send them a confirmation email or text. This will avoid wasted time on both sides and will also give a degree of certainty a scribbled note on a piece of paper (at best) doesn’t. My dentist has been doing it this way for years so why can’t Kenilworth? After all, it’s 2018, not 1918.

I don’t think it will be implemented. After all, what would a ‘retard’ know about automatic email generation? That was the started badly part over.

Drove in to Glasgow under a blue sky and danced up a fair sweat. I thought Michael was nit picking again until I realised that he was picking up on things I was doing wrong without noticing. He took us a bit further along our waltz journey, into the tricky double natural turns. Michael tried to teach us a new line dance based on Charleston which is much more difficult than you’d think when you see it on Strictly! We didn’t get much further with Jive, but we consolidated the first turns. I got as far as Spin 3, Scamp got to Spin 4. By the end I was exhausted.

Scamp bought a new pair of flip-flops (sparkly ones of course!) because she’d scraped her heel and needed a new pair of sparkly flip-flops to take her mind of the excruciating pain! I browsed some bargains in CassArt, but finally decided that I’d better places for my pennies to go.

Came home and went for a walk to St Mo’s, but by the time I got there the good light had gone and it was becoming decidedly dull and overcast. He weather fairies, the rain isn’t supposed to arrive until Friday! It didn’t arrive, but the clouds still held sway in the heavens, so I had to make do with some pretty wee Berberis flowers. They’ll do, and one of them got PoD.

Swift dinner of prawn salad which was really very nice and then Fred picked me up to go to art class where I caused a stooshie by telling the tutor that I thought the videos we’d been watching were a bit faked. It became rather heated for a while, then settled down to the usual sketching. I get a sore back from standing at an easel drawing for two hours, but it is rather therapeutic and enjoyable trying to get a likeness of someone. I got a bit of praise for my planar drawing of the model. Converted his youthful soft face into a series of flat plates. Strange, but there was a real resemblance there.

Tomorrow a repeat of the blood-letting attempt of this morning, hopefully with a better result. Scamp is off to see the new baby in Larky and I’m going for coffee with the auld guys.

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Up the Glen – 22 May 2018

Up fairly early for a Tuesday to speak to a man from Falkirk on the phone.

The man told us that we are doing all right and that’s what we wanted to hear. To celebrate we went out to lunch, but not before we had a word with Hazy and caught up with all the news from London, discussed plans, books and the disappointment of having to wait another few days before getting a new car. Their car, not ours. After the second phone call of the morning, we did go for lunch.

We drove to the cafe at Clachan of Campsie where I had the disappointment of discovering that the cafe no longer listed their Apple, Brie and Honey sandwich. We were told that it was because not enough people liked it. Why not? Have these people no taste? It’s an absolute find, a delight of a sandwich. To her credit, the waitress said she could make me one because she had all the ingredients, but I had already ordered a bacon, brie and cranberry toastie, so that had to do instead. I’ll just have to settle for my own, homemade ABH sandwich.

After lunch we walked up the path to Campsie Glen. I’m sure my dad took us there years ago. I’m also sure that the ‘us’ in question were Mum, Dad and Me, because it was before my brother was made, and I was quite wee. Probably not even ten. I remember getting a collapsible tumbler to go, because my dad said the water was so clear you could drink it. I’ve vague memories of the place, but nowhere we went today relived that memory. Maybe we had to go further up the glen than we managed today. We both had the wrong kind of shoes for the dodgier bits of the path. Maybe next time. Just think, from Larky you’d have to get a bus in to Glasgow that would take about an hour, then get another bus to Clachan of Campsie, another hour at least. What a lot of planning. You don’t realise the things your parents did for you or the sacrifices they made. Not until it’s too late.

Took some photos there of some water running over stones, but the water was so low they didn’t amount to much. Also got some photos of Wood Avens flowers, but they were just out of focus, so didn’t appear in today’s published shots. What did appear was a photo of our red and white aquilegia which became PoD. Scamp thought it was called Strawberry Sundae. I thought it was Strawberries and Cream. After checking the label on the pot, we found its name was Swan Red and White. I prefer either of our names.

That was our day in the countryside, again under blue skies and sun. I’ve been meaning to go to Campsie Glen for years and am glad I did go today. Just a shame it wasn’t as I remember it about sixty years ago. Maybe we just didn’t go far enough. Yes, that’s it, we need to go back.

Tomorrow it’s dancing in the afternoon and portraits at night. Another busy Wednesday.

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Dancing by the loch side – 19 May 2018

Not us, although we’d have liked to have joined them.

It was a late start this morning, later than we’d anticipated. We both overslept so I’d guess we needed the sleep. Finally we decided that it was just stupid to waste such a lovely day and we got everything ready for a run to the country, to the start of the highlands, no less, to Loch Lubnaig. Seats, picnic basket with picnic, tripod, camera bag, paints (just in case). Off we went hoping that the Royal Wedding would keep the ladies glued to the TV and that the Scottish Cup Final would do the same form the gentlemen. We were right. Apart from a slight hiccup at Blair Drummond Safari park where the weans were being taken to see the monkeys (or vice versa) there were no traffic jams, not even in blue rinse Callander where it’s usually chock-a-block on any other Saturday. We drove on to the big car park on the loch side and got a place right away. Fantastic.

Walked down to the shore and felt a cool, nearly cold breeze. But what took our breath away was a group of four folk dancing a mini rueda in the water. Even better, we recognised the moves involved. It’s one of Jamie Gal’s favourite ways to terrify the advanced dancers. It looks so simple until you try it, then you know why it’s only for the advanced group. After that the group set up a full rueda and danced for a couple of tracks. It took all our willpower not to get up and join them. After their two ruedas and a group photo, they packed up, jumped in their minibus and left. It’s been suggested that they were from an Embra salsa group, but I’m not sure that’s right. The caller was definitely foreign, possible Spanish, possibly Cuban and there were other languages there too, none of them Embra accents.

With the entertainment gone, we sat down to lunch in the lee of the car. Still sitting in the sun, but avoiding the wind. Scamp had her factor 30 on just in case. After that, she sat and read for a while and I went for a walk to get some photos. The best one was taken with my iPhone on the shore of the loch and it became PoD. Just a wee dandelion flower washed up on the loch side.

When we were driving home, just after 2.30 the afternoon traffic was building up, so my guess is that as the wedding was now past, but the cup final was still to be played, it was the women who were out driving while the men stayed in to see twenty two other men kicking a ball around a piece of grass while thousands stood and watched.

By the time we got home the hazy clouds were solidifying and blotting out a lot more of the sun than they had when we were on the loch side. I think we can agree that we had the best of the day, despite a late start.

I spent the remainder of the day beating some flour, water and salt into what may or may not be a sourdough loaf tomorrow. It’s resting now in its basket to fluff up enough to bake tomorrow. I think Scamp wants to go to Glasgow tomorrow. Me? I’m not bothered, I had a grand day today.

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The Constant Gardener – 17 May 2018

Today I had the car booked in at Halfords to get the dash cam wired in properly.

We were told that it might take up to 2 hours to do the job, but after having a quick look, the bloke said it would only take 15 minutes. He was correct. With the work done and paid for we drove to Torwood Garden Centre for Scamp to buy some (more) plants for the garden. We ended up with quite a car full, but she has it all planned out. She knows where they are all going, and I believe her. I got some leafy broccoli looking plants whose name escapes me at the moment and we also got a bay tree to replace the one we lost to the winter snows. All the rest were flowers. I’m sure they’ll all look beautiful.

Went out for a walk and left Scamp to her digging, potting and pottering. Got a good shot of Mr Grey and another of a young deer just losing its winter coat, but PoD goes to the Orange Tip butterfly that sat patiently for me to focus the new macro lens on. The lens is a prime (non-zoom) and is as sharp as a tack. You can see the butterfly above, but you’ll have to go to Flickr to see the other two.

When I came back there was just enough time for a glass of wine in the sun in the garden before dinner. Dinner tonight was Neil’s Chicken and Wild Rice Salad. It’s a firm favourite in the summer and went down especially well tonight.

Tomorrow Scamp and the Witches are off on the town, although which town isn’t totally settled yet. Me? I’m off the leash for a day, so I think I may go and take photos. Now there’s a surprise!

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Going Home – 13 May 2018

Today the fun was over for a while and we were going home.

A laze about morning then we went to a garden centre for lunch. Saw some interesting plants for the garden, but because we were flying home, there was no opportunity to bring any of them north to visit our garden. Maybe that is a godsend with the number of planters and pots we have there now. Wandered round the shop with the usual amount of tat and junk. I bought some pea seeds to plant in addition to the ones we already have.

It doesn’t matter what you try to fill your hours with on ‘leaving day’, there’s only one thing on your mind and that’s going home. The drag of going through security and waiting for your gate to show then finding that gate, which is usually the furthest away one. Better to get started and just go. That’s what we did.

Really busy place Stanstead. Couldn’t believe the queue to drop folk off, but soon we were through security and sitting breathing in the muggy reconditioned air in the departure ‘lounge’. Then there was the hour in a metal tube in the sky before landing in a really sunny and warm Glasgow. I don’t say that very often, do I? Bus in to Glasgow, then train to Croy while being serenaded with rebel songs by a seriously guttered Sellic supporter whose wife and son tried to disown him. Thankfully he was travelling on to Stirling, although Croy would have been more fitting surely. Just going to phone for a taxi when the ‘wee bus’ appeared and we used our pensioner’s tickets again to get to Craiglinn and then walked home.

It was a lovely stay. I think we both really enjoyed it. Thank you again JIC, Sim and the new, improved Vixen. Great, relaxing few days. Too few, but sometimes it’s better leaving wanting more.

Back to auld claes and purrich tomorrow.

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Shorts and Tee Shirt Weather – 7 May 2018

When we woke this morning it was cloudy and dull.

It may have been cloudy and it may have been dull, but the outside temperature was already 14.4ºc. That’s only 0.6º short of official Shorts and Tee Shirt weather as decreed by me.

When I eventually dragged myself away from my book, got showered and dressed, it was definitely shorts and tee shirt time, but I retained my decorum and just wore a shirt and jeans instead. Scamp was already in the garden, watering and feeding the plants and encouraging the sun to shine down on this great land we live in. Even better, it seemed to be working. The sun was breaking through the clouds and it looked like it was going to be a lovely day. Cleaned the Gaggia and which has been on my to do list for ages. Sat on the front step with Scamp and grabbed today’s PoD which is the inside of an open tulip.

After a quick trip to Tesco, lunch and a conversation with Hazy. I decided it was time to get the bike out and take it for a run. Truly this was shorts and tee shirt weather, cycling shorts and a short sleeved top. It was a good run, but there wasn’t much for the new lens to get a grip on. Back home and it as salad for dinner and a mighty good one too. Potato salad, mixed leaves, yesterday’s mutton served cold, beetroot and all washed down with a glass of vino collapso. Then a seat in the garden to let it all slide down with the last of the vino to help it on its way. After an hour or so the sun had dipped far enough down to force us back inside.  Nice to have a restful Monday with no salsa as  the STUC building is closed on bank holidays.

All in all, it was a very nice day. Unfortunately it looks like it’s all going downhill from here on in. Never mind, it was a really good summer. We enjoyed both days.

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Maybe that was summer – 6 May 2018

It was sunshine and blue skies when we woke today and it more or less stayed that way all day for a change.

Just on the off chance that today WAS summer, we made the most of it. Scamp was doing the most in the garden, of course. Putting up sweet pea netting, although I did the structural part and fixed the high bits. Pruning the blackcurrant bush. Repotting everything she could find. Cutting the front grass and having great fun blowing the cuttings into the trees. Generally being the gardener. Me? Well, apart from being the designer of the sweet pea frame, I wandered round looking at things and taking photos of the tulips, one of which became PoD. Oh yes and I planted the first batch of Charlotte potatoes.

After lunch I took a load of junk and garden waste to the council tip. There were signs on all the skips to the effect that you weren’t allowed to put soil in them. Why not, and if you’re not to put them in a skip in the tip, where are you meant to dump the soil? If you can’t dump it legally then illegally is the only other option. Then they wonder why people are fly-tipping. Joined up thinking is a step too far for NLC. Anyway, I joined everyone else by emptying the contents of my bag in the skip. “Honest mister, it wasn’t soil, it was compost.”

Back home, I roasted my mutton and put it in the slow cooker for it to do its magic for four hours or so. By then the sun had gone behind a cloud and I sat for an hour struggling with Keyboard Maestro, a really clever piece of Mac magic that allows you to create macros to do clever stuff once you’ve written the code. It was the writing of the code, or to be more exact, the syntax of the code that was messing me about. I gave up after a while and joined Scamp with a G ’n’ T and a book in the garden. It was really lovely for a while, although the sun kept disappearing behind the odd cloud. Veg to go with my mutton (or hogget) was carrot and fennel, sliced thin, fried in butter and then put into the slow cooker to stew in the juices from the hogget. (It tasted lovely by the way. Quite like fennel now.

After dinner and a glass of wine I sat down again, determined to work out how to fix the syntax of the code. Finally I cracked it and this is what it does if you hold down Control + Option + Command and press the ‘3’ key:

Y6 – 365/126 – Photo1952

That means that this is the 6th year of my 365s. The picture at the top of the page is the 126th of this year’s 365 and it’s photo 1,952 to be given the title PoD. There, don’t you feel better for knowing that?

Tomorrow looks like it will be much the same as today, if not better, but after that it’s the downward slope into rain and ‘seasonal average’ temperatures. It’s coats-on time again, so we should make the best of it.