Out to Lunch – 19 February 2019

Not just any old lunch. Oh no, this was lunch in a Michelin star restaurant!

The day started with a taxi to the station where we got the train to Embra. Walked along Shandwick Place from Haymarket to have coffee in a new Nero we’d found a couple of weeks ago. From there we walked up Lothian Road to get the No22 bus to Leith. In fact, to Ocean Terminal in Leith where we knew we could fritter away half an hour or so before we went in to the restaurant.

We found an interesting ‘Design Gallery’ which looked like the Embra sister of the one in Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow. The difference was many of the offerings had an Embra slant whereas the ones in Glasgow are more authentic Scottish. Oops, a bit of East / West competition crept in there. Then I found a little gem of a place, next door to the ‘Design Gallery’. This one didn’t have anything for sale, it was more like a museum, but one where people were encouraged to touch the exhibits. There was an old piano at the back of the room and, of course, Scamp just had to have a shot! Lots of lovely things in there. There was a collection of Airfix planes glued up and badly painted, but they had obviously been in a few dog-fights since their construction. We found a Bunty magazine dating from 1963. There was a toy typewriter and also a few real manual typewriters. What a lot of people would consider junk, but it was a room full of memories for people of a certain age. It’s even called The Little Shop of Memory. Brilliant idea.

About a fifteen minute walk from Ocean Terminal is the restaurant which strangely doesn’t have an entrance from the street, you have to enter from the cobbled path at the back. We were still early, so decided to have a drink before the meal. Both of us had a G ’n’ T. Scamp had boring Hendricks I had Fidra. A nice relaxing start.

The meal:

Clockwise from the top left:

Amuse Bouche the same onion soup as last year in baked onion with croutons and spring onions. (D&S)
Vol-au-vent filled with lamb sweetbreads and tenderstem broccoli and served with a lamb’s tongue jus. (D)
Haunch of venison with venison offal and savoy cabbage faggot and baby carrots (D)
Rhubarb and blood orange with meringue and rhubarb sorbet plus meringue lollypop sticks (D)

Apple and soufflé with vanilla ice cream (S)
Hake with seafood, octopus and gnocci – two pictures (S)
Open artichoke ravioli served with crowdie and edible flowers (S)

We went for the wine package we had last year and it was equally eye-opening. Especially the Tokay wine!  I couldn’t believe that this white wine would complement the Rhubarb pudding so well.  Startling!

After we’d dined and scoffed the wine, we got the bus to the station, then just managed to catch the Croy train.  Taxi home after a full and enjoyable day.  I hadn’t even taken one photo with a camera all day.  That’s why there’s a photo of a rhododendron bud as PoD.

I was going to use another of yesterday’s sketches as my drawing, but instead I drew my hand holding a paintbrush.  It’s not very interesting, but it does look like a hand and it’s done and on time, which is probably more than can be said of this blog post!

Best news of the day was that the Advanced Salsa class has been given a reprieve!  Don’t know how.  Don’t know why.  All I know is that it’s done and we’re both relieved.

Tomorrow?  Auld claes and purrich I think!

Out for a walk – 16 February 2019

Although today started out cloudy, the weather fairies said it would brighten up. It did.

We drove to Chatelherault for a walk among the trees. It was busy, but then it was Saturday and people like to get out and about on a Saturday. We chose a path we hadn’t been on before that would eventually take us down to the old Avon Bridge. It was a fairly easy path. Wide enough and interesting enough to keep us occupied for the 1.5km that was the advertised distance. At least it was until we reached the last 100m which was a steep slope downhill and what goes down must eventually go up. We stopped for a while on the old bridge to watch the river flow and the world go by, then we made our way back along the Avon until we came to the steps that would be the Up part we’d been expecting. It was good exercise, let’s leave it at that! From there it was a leisurely stroll back to the centre and the cafe.

I went to buy lunch and Scamp went to find a table. She found more than a table, she found Crawford and Nancy’s daughter with her own daughter Imogen. By the time I got the lunches and the coffees, Imogen had been whisked away by her dad to the baby changing room. Such things were never available in our day. Soon dad arrived with Imogen wearing nappies and nothing else. Apparently she had been soaked to the skin and they’d not brought a change of clothes. However her mum soon sorted things out and Scamp got to hold her for a while. I felt a bit like the Kevin Bridges character who has to talk to a baby and all he can think of is “Ye a’ right, mate?” I try to avoid talking to babies as they usually just start crying. Imogen didn’t cry, she just wanted to test the strength of the material in my sweatshirt. Apparently it passed the test, but wasn’t deemed good enough to eat … thankfully! When they left we had another coffee because Scamp had been too busy discussing things with Imogen to drink her last cup. After that we left. It’s an ok cafe, the coffee is drinkable, but the food is dire and the prices ridiculously high.

Came home and ordered takeaway from Golden Bowl. Usual for Scamp. Sweet & Sour Pork Balls for me. Fatty pork belly deep fried in batter and served with fried rice and sweet & sour sauce. Can’t be healthy because it tastes so good. Even reading those ingredients puts about a kilo on you and elevates your sugar and cholesterol levels to the warning flashing red area. It was lovely.

Today’s PoD is a fake photo of Chatelherault House. The house is ok, but the sky came from a totally different shot. It works though! Tonight’s sketch is of the big watercolour paint box. Done while listening and partly watching a program about how big a bastard Frank Williams of the Williams F1 team was. I never liked him, but I hadn’t realised just how nasty he was.

Tomorrow it’s due to rain, so I don’t know where we’re going, if anywhere.

Perf – 15 February 2019

My coffee mountain was being eroded and in need of replenishment.

It was a lovely morning. Blue sky and just a few thin white clouds. A perfect day to travel up to Perf for some coffee beans and some loose tea. A long way to go for coffee you say when you could just drive up to Tesco. Hmm. Does Tesco offer Cuba Turaquino? Or Honduras? Or real Columbian? Does Tesco sell loose Assam Long Leaf tea? Hmm. I didn’t think so. I could have ordered online, but the Cuban is the problem. The Bean Shop uses PayPal for online purchasing and PayPal being american can’t be used for purchases from Cuba. Obama was heading in the right direction and it looked as if he was going to remove the blockade from dealing with Cuba. The blond combover president stopped that and the upshot for me is that I can’t buy my Cuban coffee from The Bean Shop in Perf online. I can buy it perfectly legally and without problem over the counter, so that’s why we were travelling up the M9 to Perf today. Well, that and the fact that it was a lovely spring-like day for a run.

Got there and after a Nero coffee to refresh us we went for a walk to ‘The Ship’. The bit of the pavement that overhangs the Tay and always reminds us of being on a cruise. There were loads of folk there today. I managed to get PoD which was a bloke gazing out over the river. Then we walked through the riverside park and across to the playing fields, a bit we’ve never been to before in all the time we’ve walked through the park. From there it was a short walk to The Bean Shop and the coffee. With it safely in the bag we walked back through the town and drove home. The blue sky was still there and so were the few white clouds.

The sun was so welcoming, I went for a walk in St Mo’s to feed the ducks and get some more photos. Light was beginning to fade as I was heading home to more pakora and then Scamp’s Prawn Curry.

Today’s 28 Drawings sketch was done just after midnight last night and was done from a ‘Photo Booth’ shot taken on the iMac. I think it’s a fair representation of the bloke who looks out at me when I’m shaving in the morning.

When we were talking to Hazy this morning I said I’d note the music I’m listening to while I write the blog.  Today it’s Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

Tomorrow is Saturday and we have no plans.

An hour in the Toon – 14 February 2019 ♡

Actually less than an hour according to the parking machine in Cowcaddens.

Scamp was off to meet Isobel for coffee this morning, so I was free to do anything I wanted. What I ended up doing was tidying up the back bedroom even more. Scamp had left me two Creme Eggs as a Valentine’s prezzy! I had that with a coffee while I tried today’s medium Sudoku. When she came back the clouds had rolled in and it wasn’t looking like a day for going to Mugdock or anywhere else of that ilk. I had lunch and afterwards decided I’d go out somewhere to take some foties. My first choice was Haggs, down by the canal at Haggs to be more precise. I was halfway there when I made the decision that there was no point, because you really need good light for landscape, and the light was poor. So I turned back and pointed the Juke at the carpark for the Luggie. Maybe a walk down the Luggie would work. After I’d parked I reconsidered. I wanted to go and look for drawing ink in a new shop I’d found near Cowcaddens underground. I couldn’t go tomorrow, weekends are alway accounted for, so what about Monday. Nope, Monday is too busy as it is and Tuesday is accounted for. It’s in the wrong end of Sausageroll Street for a Wednesday detour, and next Thursday is coffee with the boys. Why don’t I just go today and hope to get some foties in town. Sorted. Turned round and drove into Glasgow.

Parked at Cowcaddens and walked round the disaster that is the Art School (how much does even the scaffolding cost?) Finally arriving at the Paint & Mortar shop that sells graphics stuff to students at the GSA (Glasgow School of Art), but is perfectly happy to take money from ordinary punters too. Two very helpful sales staff told me that they didn’t have the ink I was looking for. All their drawing ink had a shellac base which will completely destroy a normal fountain pen in about a week. I used to have an old Osmiroid fountain pen when I was an apprentice draughtsman. It’s the only fountain pen that would survive being filled with shellac based Indian ink. You can’t get them anymore.

I walked back to the car and grabbed a few shots in the soft light that had appeared after the clouds had broken up. One of them made PoD after a bit of post-processing in Lightroom. I was quite pleased with the effect. Put my ticket in the parking machine and I’d used less than an hour of time. Had a walk, clarified what ink I needed and got a couple of photos all in less than 60mins!

Came home and after manipulating the image, I got stuck into making some pakora using a new recipe I’d found on YouTube. Mercifully it worked because there was a fair bit of prep needed. It still needs a bit more work, but the basis is there now. Scamp agreed that it tastes a lot better than that first recipe. Dinner tonight was a curry from ASDA and we both agreed it better than the Tesco version.

Watched the Sewing Bee tonight while I copied one of Tuesday’s photos of Scamp’s Christmas Rose. Not entirely satisfied with with it, but it’s not too bad. Halfway through the 28 Drawings already. How time flies.  I don’t know how those people in the GBSB can take an old pair of jeans and make a dress out of it without a pattern.  I think I’m doing well if I can repair a pocket.  Making a bow tie is the limit of my abilities.  Maybe I will start that waistcoat this year.

Don’t have any plans for tomorrow. Weather fairies seem to think it’s going to be good, but they said that about today and although it did eventually brighten up, it took it’s own sweet time about it. Still, probably go somewhere nice.

Not the best of days – 12 February 2019

Some days are good and some are simply bad. Today was the latter.

The tree in the garden that was trimmed yesterday doesn’t look at all like we thought it would. It may take some time for it to grow into itself again, but for just now it just looks a bit ugly. We’re both agreed on that and we’re both to blame for not making it clearer to Nicky what we wanted. However, like that awful haircut we’ve all had, it will eventually grow back. Unfortunately, trees take longer than hair to grow. We may make a bird box and fix it to the tree, at least then we’ll have something interesting to watch.

It’s always going to be a bit of a wrench having to go to another salsa class and now we have confirmation that the advanced class is to close in March. We’ve discussed it a lot in the last 24 hours and have come to the conclusion that it’s not just one reason for the lack of people, there are lots of reasons:

  • The class itself was becoming stale with long complicated moves that nobody in their right mind would attempt to dance in a club.
  • The Advanced class were always being merged with classes one or two levels below us. The constant merging of classes meant that the more advanced members were having to ‘tread water’ while newer, less experienced people caught up. When they did catch up, another class would merge in and the cycle would begin again. People simply didn’t want to pay for a class where they weren’t learning anything new.
  • Jamie is a great teacher, but only when he’s there. I realise he has other commitments with his work, but when he’s not there and less able teachers are taking his place, our interest suffers and some people, again, will move away.
  • There have been comments in class about some people, usually leaders, who are too rough and are injuring some of the followers. Scamp, herself has had a few bruises from these meetings. That is a definite reason for some of the followers leaving.

I really don’t know what the answer is, there may not even be one. We’ll try tomorrow’s ‘Advanced’ class. We’ll give it a fair test and it may be the salvation of Salsa in Glasgow. At least it will be with Jamie as a teacher.

I gave both our cars a quick wash and brush up today. They needed it, then when Scamp was out to lunch with Mags I hung out the washing and that’s where I saw today’s PoD! Scamp’s Christmas Roses are still in flower and are changing colour slightly. It looks like they are going to be sliding towards pink.

Today’s sketch is four Sugardrop tomatoes I spied when I was making paella tonight. A quick 40min sketch, but with decent technique and using a real brush, not a waterbrush for a change.

Tomorrow it’s dancing in the afternoon and hopefully dancing at night too.

Recovery time – 9 February 2019

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. So going to bed late, very late for some makes you the opposite? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Didn’t break the surface until well after 9am this morning. I consoled myself with the thought that I must have needed the rest, then after breakfast I fell back asleep. Finally got up and Scamp suggested lunch at Wagamama in The Fort. The Fort used to be a dump, but now that they’ve tidied it up, installed a coffee shop (unfortunately a Costa!) and a bookshop, not to mention Wagamama, it’s not at all bad. Yes Scamp, good call, we’ll go to Easterhouse for lunch. Bet you never thought I’d say that forty odd years ago!

Drove there and for once we got parked without a problem, unlike back at the house where it seemed that somebody was designing a slalom on the street with cars, vans and even lorries apparently abandoned everywhere. Wandered round the shops and bought some stuff that we both needed / wanted, then went to Wagamama which was jumping! Saturdays, the days when the working people go out shopping. Food took a little time to come, but it was busy. Scamp’s was not very hot, so she complained, she’s getting good at that, and got it replaced. It was a Raisukaree Curry and it looked and tasted lovely. I had a Chicken and Prawn Teppenyaki and although it was a bit dry, which was my fault for not checking, it was very tasty. Would I have it again? Probably not. I’d probably opt for my favourite Ramen, almost any flavour would do!

When we came out I grabbed today’s PoD which is the head of a bronze deer sculpture by Lucy Casson. There is a little group of them outside the restaurant. Then we went our different ways. Me to Hobbycraft to be shocked at the price they were asking for tubes of watercolour. Eight quid for the smallest tube? Luckily I’ve got plenty to keep me going. Scamp went looking for clothes. We met back at the car, both of us empty handed.

Drove to Morrisons to get ‘messages’ and the makings of pakora tonight, and that was it for the tour of The Fort. Storm Erik was still blustering around trying desperately to sound like the promised tornado, but not fooling anyone. Drove home watching the changing light on the hills caused by the clouds being ripped apart by the wind. Very pretty.

Attempted to make pakora tonight, but it wasn’t a glowing success. Couldn’t remember how to get the batter to the right consistency and as Scamp kept saying, there was something missing from the filling. Still not sure what it was. All we have now it dirty oil. It looks like somebody’s changed the oil in an old car. Need to find somewhere to dump it now.

Tonight’s sketch was done while watching a quite interesting documentary about Bowie. All these old blokes who used to be youngsters in the Spiders From Mars. Interesting part was listening to how they created the backing tracks with ancient technology.

Tomorrow we’re back to normal rising time hopefully and may go dancing later.

Out to lunch – Out to dinner – 8 February 2019

No home cooking for us today!

We were going to Larky to Crawford and Nancy’s for dinner tonight, but that wasn’t until about 7pm so the rest of the day was free for us to rampage through. We decided to go in to Glasgow to have lunch and for me to try to get the Burnt Umber paint I’d failed to get the other day. The weather was a bit wild with strong winds and heavy rain and it was forecast to get even wilder as the day progressed.

First stop was lunch, a light lunch we’d agreed, in Paesano. It was a fairly light lunch and as we weren’t going to be eating tonight until about 8pm, a pizza in the middle of the day wasn’t going to hurt. I certainly didn’t disappoint.

From there we parted company and while I went to get the paint, Scamp went to M&S to buy stuff. I bought another half pan marked Burnt Umber, it’s a dark brown ‘earth’ colour by the way, but this time after I’d bought it I immediately opened it in the shop and showed it to the girl who had served me. The actual pan was marked Burnt Sienna. This is Windsor & Newton colour. Not cheap and supposedly professional quality. I showed it to the assistant. She called the manager who went to test the actual colour. She came back and agreed that the colour in the pan was Burnt Sienna which is a much lighter orange-brown. She opened another sealed packet that was marked Burnt Umber and it too was marked Burnt Sienna on the actual pan. The last one in the rack was opened and it was marked Burnt Umber! Result!

Met Scamp and went for a coffee then we headed up past the GOMA where today’s PoD came from then home through the gathering Storm Erik. I started my sketch of the day which was oranges, new oranges, the last lot having been consumed, in an elegant bowl with lovely swirling colours. Just to be sure, I tested the Burnt Umber, checked and it did say Burnt Umber on the pan and painted a swatch only to find it was another bloody Burnt Sienna. No point going back to the shop. This time I’m writing to W&N to query their quality control.

PoD done. Sketch done. Both posted and on time, but no time left to blog. As you’ll have guessed it was written on Saturday.

June arrived bang on 7pm without Iain who wasn’t feeling well. Off we went for an entertaining night with C&N. Food and conversation was great and sitting in front of their log burning stove was just lovely. Great night. Couldn’t believe when I looked at the clock and it was just before 11.30. Home through the storm, dropped June off and home for a dram before bedtime.

Tomorrow (Today 😉 we would go out to lunch somewhere.
Spoiler Alert: We did!

Dancing in the afternoon – 6 February 2019

Not dancing all the day, just dancing.

Drove in to Blackfriars and ‘wasted time’ taking a picture of the building above while we walked down from the carpark. Every time I’ve passed the Ingram Square Building in the Merchant City I’ve liked it and wanted to photograph it, but the lighting had to be just right. It was today. I particularly like the angled turret at the top and the reflections from windows across Ingram Street. At the class we got an extra ten minutes practise. Our Jive moves today were Baskets, Step Over and Ladles. That will probably be gobbledegook to most of you, but it will act as a reminder for us, hopefully, next week. Waltz was getting a lot better according to Michael, but we didn’t do anything new. We didn’t really get any Quickstep done because I wasn’t feeling too good and we left early, just five or ten minutes early.

Why is it, when you’re in a hurry, that’s when the motorway jams up. That’s what happened today. Just about to join the M8 going home and everything ground to a halt. It turned out to be a three vehicle accident spread across the two exit lanes for Stirling. Luckily it didn’t close of the entire length of the exit lanes and we found our way back on in the great snaking line of cars and vans who were also Stirling bound.

Dinner tonight was the remainder of the chilli and Scamp was back to home food with a baked potato and tuna. Dessert was an excellent Neapolitan Choc Ice each from Tesco, where else!

Doodled a sketch of a horribly difficult Sudoku grid and that is my sketch for 28 Drawings Later. Not as detailed as some and not as colourful, but it fulfils the two requirements:  Done and On Time.

Tomorrow, hopefully a lazy morning to prepare us for a busy afternoon.

Up and out at stupid o’clock – 5 February 2019

I’d forgotten that 7.30AM existed. I used to be out the door and on my way to work at that time. That was just over four years ago and you tend to remember the good times and ignore the bad. 7.30AM was one of the bad times. Defrosted the car and picked up Scamp to take her to the train station. Her and half of Cumbersheugh seemed to on the way to the station at Croy this morning. Dropped her at the ticket office and drove off to park and walked back to check that she had caught the train. The train was already at the station by the time I got there, but I saw that familiar red hat on a person that was sitting in a seat. There’s only one hat like that in the world, Hazy!

With her safely on the first stage of her journey to Inverness to meet her sister, I drove home, had my breakfast, read my emails and went back to bed for an hour. I should have gone out and photographed that beautiful dawn sky before I went to bed, but I didn’t and I so regret it now.

When I got up for the second time today it was lunchtime and I had the last ladleful of my soup, then I went out to get a PoD under a much different sky. The clouds were Scottish Grey and as I walked to the car, the rain started. I drove down to the Luggie Water and found the snowdrops which were now blooming nicely. Using my glove as a cushion for the Oly and a Moleskine notebook as a wee tent to protect the lens from rain I grabbed half a dozen shots at various distances and quickly checked them to make sure they’d all worked and they had.

Back home, processed the photos and made my dinner which was chilli con CARNE, because Scamp would be having a posh lunch in Inverness, so I could have a meat dinner tonight. Dumped the chilli into the slow cooker and left it for an hour or two, plenty time to get my sketch of the day done. Today it was to be two oranges, a pear and an apple. I made the mistake of having four items in the sketch. Every beginner know you should always group odd numbered items. It was the apple that went wrong. If anyone asks me about it, I’ll just say that the apple was old and was getting a bruise at the bottom. I liked the oranges and the pear. Unfortunately you can’t clone out mistakes on a watercolour.

Scamp sent a text to say she was just passing Stirling Castle about 8.30pm and I got ready to drive in to Glasgow. Picked her up just after 9pm after doing a detour because the motorway was being repaired.

Tomorrow it’s Dancing day. Hopefully it will be Blackfriars in the afternoon and STUC salsa at night. Chilli was fine, but just a little too mild.

S’no Snow – 3 February 2019

Last night when I went to bed the temperature was just on zero. This morning it was raining, so the temp was in the positive range.

By lunchtime the ice and snow as definitely on the back foot. There was liquid water in the bird bath although there was a decidedly large iceberg sitting in it. After lunch it was back to the ‘leccy cupboard again to investigate and empty the last remaining boxes, most of which contained light bulbs or screws. They were easily sorted, the ‘keepers’ stored and the ‘chuckers’ put in the bin.

That left PoD to be taken. I couldn’t decide what would fit that particular bill and eventually decided to go for a walk to St Mo’s to see if anything there was suitable. The light was poor, so landscape was out of the question. There was ice on the pond but the ducks and swans had managed to cut a hole in it right in the middle, so, well out of range of the 200mm end of the Panasonic zoom. Nothing for it but to rely on a macro. It’s getting like cut flowers and ‘Weemen’, a last resort. That’s what you see at the top of the page. It’s not the best macro I’ve done, but it was a chance to try out a noise reducing setting I’d seen on Flickr. It worked, but was not the great solution that the person seemed to suggest. Maybe I’m just hard to please. Surely not! By the time I came home from my walk the snow had gone and now it’s raining heavily and the temperature is almost 5ºc.

I’d bought a Hogged Shoulder Steak at the farmers market in Embra yesterday and cooked it for my dinner while Scamp finished off the roast chicken we’d bought on Friday. I must say the shoulder steak was delicious. I’ll be looking out for Annanwater at the Glasgow farmers market on the last Saturday of the month.

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was of the veg I’m hoping to make soup from tomorrow. Scamp has already boiled the pulses, but as she’ll be busy with Gems preparation tomorrow, I’ll do the dinner. I liked the sketch. Colour needed a bit more saturation, but luckily Lightroom came to the rescue.

Spoke to JIC tonight and got his take on the implications of a no-deal Brexit (how I hate that name!) and dealing with new ‘mental’ neighbours.

That’s about it. Tomorrow is Gems day and we haven’t a clue what we did last week at salsa, so we’ll have to make it up as we go along, just the same as everybody else.