Wandering around the town in a gale – 14 September 2019

Today we were heading in to Glasgow – driving for a change on a Saturday.

Scamp wanted to get a new tub for cereals, yes it was that sort of day, any excuse to go out of the house! I wanted to see if CassArt still had the fancy Rowney easel Fred was raving about. Finally we were looking for lunch, but not Paesano today.

First we looked for somewhere for lunch. Looked at Amalfi which used to be really good, but there wasn’t anything on the displayed menu that inspired us. We tried O Sole Mio which didn’t awaken any interest either. Finally we settled on Cafe Andaluz and had our usual three tapas each. The only down side was the group of harridans who had booked the table across from us. The noise from them was deafening. When they arrived the waiters started clearing the tables between them and us. I presume it was to put the trough in for them to eat from.

After being fed, we walked to CassArt, but surprise, surprise they were sold out of the fancy Rowney easel. Not to worry, I’d kind of talked myself out of it anyway. Back up Bucky Street thinking I wish I’d lifted my wooly hat, because although it wasn’t raining, there was a cold wind blowing and I’d forgotten that it’s almost midway through September now, so I should be dressing appropriately. Tried Lakeland for the cereal tub, but the one they had was a bit big and also a bit pricey. Back to Cumbersheugh and Scamp got the tub she wanted in Tesco.

Managed an hour in St Mo’s when we got back and that’s where today’s PoD came from. A snail on a swing! It never ceases to amaze me the places these snails get to.

I checked out the fancy Rowney easel on Google and it got slated on Amazon. Allegedly it’s made from wood, but it’s actually made from MDF which is fine for something that’s not meant to move. The big selling point of the easel is that it can move. Lots of criticism of the construction. I think I will leave it where it is, unsold!

It’s cold tonight although the weather station says it’s 15.3ºc. I think the gale force winds are stealing away that heat.

Tomorrow we may go dancing in the Record Factory, but apart from that we have no plans.

Butterfly memory – 12 September 2019

The day started as so many have recently with rain, but the blue skies appeared later.

Gas man came this morning to do the boiler maintenance and gave us the usual warnings that it’s getting old and needs replaced. I have days like that too sometimes.

After that we went out for the messages and managed to spend a fair amount in three different, though similar, shops. That’s the thing about choice. It gives you the opportunity to spend more. Mostly it was just stuff we needed anyway.

Just before lunch I spotted a Red Admiral feeding on the buddleia bush at the back fence. I managed to get a few shots of it before I frightened it away. Bummer.

Fred came over later in the afternoon to pick up the paintings John had delivered yesterday. We had an hour or so of fairly adult conversation and he introduced me to another interesting Gerry Cinnamon song “Diamonds in the Mud”. Worth listening to, if only for the Glasgow accent. In return I suggested he listen to “Canter” with its own collection of adult content.

When he left, so did I for a walk down Auchinstarry way. The light was really excellent by now and the hills were glowing. Today’s PoD came from the walk. It’s a group of tiny wee fungi growing on a dead tree near the Forth & Clyde canal.

When I came home, the butterfly was back on the buddleia, but this time I barely got a chance to switch on the camera before it was off. I swear it looked straight at me and flew off. I’m sure it recognised me as the big human who pointed his black box at it a couple of hours earlier. Of course it could have been a different butterfly, but that was the impression it gave me.

Cod Chowder for dinner. I thought it tasted ok and just the same as usual. Scamp thought it was thicker and tasted different. Maybe she was right.

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks ok. Saturday, not so.

More brambles, more nettles and bread – 10 September 2019

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and caught up with life down London way. Actually she phoned just as Scamp was beginning to defrost the freezer, so it gave her an excuse to leave that to itself for a while. And did you know Hazy that you phoned at 10:10 on the 10th of September. There, that’s a little bit of trivia for you!

I’d promised to bake another focaccia loaf today, before lunch I got it all organised and bunged it all in the mixer then left it to its magic for about 15 minutes. Paul Hollywood recommends that you knead it by hand, just to get the feel of a wet sticky dough. Aye Right, Paul, but whatever floats your boat, as they say. For me, a wet sticky dough is just what a food mixer is designed for.

After lunch, Scamp was off to the town centre just to wander round by herself for a while I think. I’m sure she told me the ‘reason’ for her trip, but I’ve forgotten. Meanwhile I got dressed for cycling and went out to get more brambles. You can never have too many of those little purple berries. I ignored the road closed signs and cycled down towards Drumgrew Bridge. I did manage to get a few handfuls of berries, but then when I turned the corner to head down to Sunday’s berry bushes, the road was closed off because great big lorries were unloading tons of asphalt on to it. Why didn’t they warn me? Oh, yes, they did. Ok, nothing for it but to cycle back up the hill and find some more. That’s when I remembered the old road covered by trees now that used to be a good spot for berries. Luckily it was still there hidden by a line of hawthorn hedges and there were loads of berries. Filled the bag with over 800g. Got soaked, of course because it was really wet underfoot and also got stung again by the late summer nettles that seem to have a lot more bite in their sting. On the plus side, I found today’s PoD which is a Metellina mengei spider. It took me over an hour when I got home to ID it on Google.

Back home Scamp had returned and the dough had completed its first prove (rise). Sorting it out was so easy last time. This time I’d to shout “Help!” to get Scamp to give me a hand with the unruly dough, but between us we got it under control. It was soon baked and even sooner consumed. It’s messy to make and used lots and lots of the EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), but it’s worth it, just as long as you don’t hand knead it.

Tonight it’s raining and it’s going to go on all night with high winds too, but it’s forecast to clear up tomorrow. Let’s hope the weather fairies are right.

Brambles and Nettles – 8 September 2019

The day started with a visit to Calders garden centre for yet more plants.

Drove to Calders. Well, it’s a long walk there and an even longer walk back carrying a plant, a new plant pot and a bag of sharp sand. It made sense to take the car! You’d hardly recognise Dobbies as was. Much larger parking area, totally redesigned frontage and inside of the shop. Unfortunately the plants area is just as random and disorganised as ever. Lots of tat for sale inside, but if you’re looking for a watering can rose they don’t have one. Style over substance perhaps. Still we got the sharp sand, the flower pot and the plant, so we shouldn’t complain too much – shouldn’t, but did.

After lunch I got ready to go cycling for brambles and despite the threats of rain, I had a dry run and grabbed about 400g of berries. They are much harder to come by than last year and much later too. There may be more later in the week hopefully. Hopefully there will be less nettles though. My legs are still stinging from today’s forays into the nettle patches.

Scamp made potato and leek soup followed by Trout and Prawn Risotto for dinner and both were delicious.  I made some focaccia which was quite good, but needed better olive oil.

Watched an interesting Monza GP. Not a fair one as Leclerc won after flouting the rules a couple of times. Of course the road to fairness against an Italian team at the Italian GP is an uphill struggle, but it needn’t be so blatant or you just turn people off. Poor Vettel, he should concede the crown to his younger partner now. He’s becoming a liability. Let’s hope he wakes up to that before he does something with more serious consequences.

Spoke to JIC and got an update on all that’s happening down Cambridge way. Good to hear that he’s had a chance to get some gardening done and that his labours are bearing fruit … literally!

PoD was a group of fungi I saw when I was taking a break from bramble picking.

Tomorrow is Monday which means Gems and Salsa in that order.

So, the plan was … – 6 September 2019

We’d plans to go for a bracing walk somewhere nice, but the weather had other plans.

Really, what can you do with these weather fairies? They tell you it’s going to be windy, cold, but dry. What happens? Well, we get the ‘windy’, we get the ‘cold’, but in place of the ‘dry’, it rains, on and off all day. They have a great suite of weather tracking computers, but really all they do is stick their hand out the window and that gives them their prediction for the day. It wasn’t really as bad as that, but it was quite bad. The sun shone for a short while in between the showers and then, later on, just before sunset, the sun shone, when it was far too late to go out for a bracing walk anywhere.

We did manage a wee run to the new shops for some essential provisions. Basically bread, fruit and fish. Later in the afternoon I managed to get an hour almost dry down the Luggie Water, but no butterflies were flying, no hover flies were hovering and only one solitary bee was buzzing. My PoD was a snail, snailing away up a cow parsley stem. Not much, but the best of a bad lot.

On the way back I thought I’d drop in at M&S for a wee bottle of Rosé and some chicken for a snack tonight or tomorrow. Also bought a pot of Basil that I would promptly cut into four pieces when I got home and plant each piece in a pot that will hopefully provide four basil plants in due course. Since I had so little in my basket I thought I’d use the self-service tills. Big mistake. First question from the girl in charge was “Cash or Card?” I said “Cash”. That got the reply “You’ll need to wait.” Nobody was at the till nearest to me, so I asked if I could use that one. “It’s broke.” was the answer. “What about the one at the corner?” although I knew what was coming. “Broke”. I gave up at this point and went to one of the Card Only tills, which wasn’t ‘Broke’, and finally got my three items paid for and as I was leaving the woman at the till next to me was trying desperately to grab the girl’s attention. Presumably her till was also ‘Broke’. Opened on Tuesday to great fanfare. By Friday almost half the ‘Cash or Card’ self-service checkouts were out of order. That’s not good.

Tomorrow we have a plan, but just incase the weather fairies are listening, or reading this blog, I’m not revealing it just yet.

A bit of culture – 5 September 2019

With a beer and a pie!

Last week, Scamp and the other witches went to see A Play, A pie and a Pint at Òran Mór in the west end of Glasgow. This week we watched a documentary about the P,P&P. Last night we watched one of the plays on TV. Today we were going to see the full thing.

The play was ‘From Paisley to Paolo’ and despite some ‘adult language’, I distinctly hears Scamp laughing part way through. I blame the witches for encouraging such debauchery. For £15 you get a mutton pie (quiche is available for non carnivores), a pint of any beer available at the bar (I had Guinness) or a glass of wine and an hour long play seated in the most uncomfortable seats ever created. The play only had three actors, but they played their parts so well, you never really noticed. The storyline was a bit silly, but again, you never really noticed. The repartee between all three actors made it all believable. I can’t remember the last time I was at a play, but I’d go back to Òran Mór again to see another one, only I’d be more circumspect in my choice of seat next time.

Subway back in to Glasgow proper and into Cafe Nero for a coffee. Next up was a look at the newly christened An Unexpected Gallery which used to be The Unexpected Artist in St Enoch’s. A variety of interesting photographs and paintings. Some simplistic and some very sophisticated. We were both drawn (no pun) to the coloured pencil drawings of dogs. Now neither of us are ‘dog people’, but the skill and level of detail in these drawings was incredible. It was outside St Enoch’s, however that I got PoD. I don’t know who this bloke was or what he was doing, but it must be the most uncomfortable place for a wee snooze!

A wander round CassArt for me and Next for Scamp and we got the No 37 bus home. I deliberately didn’t want to get the X3 because due to roadworks outside Moodiesburn, the bus takes an extra 15minutes to complete the circuit of Moodiesburn on the way in to Glasgow and I was pretty certain that it would take that same route on the way back home. I wouldn’t have minded, except we hadn’t brought anything to eat on the journey which would take around two hours now, or at least feel like it had. The second reason was that we could stop at the chip shop and grab a fish supper each on the way home. Good planning. That’s what we did. A Play, A Pie, A Pint and a Fish Supper. What could be better than that?

Tomorrow, Scamp recommends a bracing walk somewhere nice.

So now we know – 4 September 2019

Scamp went to see the nurse today, but the news was not what she expected.

We sat about in the morning watching the rain, but our minds were on tomorrow and the rail journey south. Little did we know. Scamp was determined to go to the new M&S shop and we did go along with half of Cumbersheugh. Yes, it looks good, but contrary to predictions it doesn’t have a café, at least not yet. Got a whole bundle of stuff. Some for today, some for tomorrow and some to come back to. Got to the tills just as St Mo’s school decanted all their pupils into the shop. Most were directed to the self-service tills, some waited in the normal tills and the rest shop-lifted. Back home we had lunch and then waited until the big hand was at the 6 and the little hand was halfway between the 2 and the 3, then we went up to the doc’s.

Scamp was in with the nurse for a lot longer than I’d thought, but then I heard her voice saying ‘Thanks’. The half smile on her face told me it wasn’t what we’d expected. The nurse had immediately confirmed it wasn’t insect bites, it was Herpes zoster AKA Shingles. Now it all made sense. The pain, the itch, the cluster of ‘bites’ that was actually a rash. Yes, she was past the infectious stage but we weren’t sure now whether to go or not. I was going to drive to the butchers for some stewing steak and a mutton pie to take down south, so that would give us both thinking time. Scamp was off into the Co-op to get a cake for tonight’s pudding (sponge with our stewed apples and custard).

When we met up again in the car, she’d decided to wait and see what Hazy said when we could speak to her. We weren’t sure if I was clear of any infection yet, so all three of us reluctantly agreed that it would be best to postpone the visit. Not the result we wanted, but I was relieved that Scamp wouldn’t have to endure a four hour train journey with not even a free bottle of wine to take away the aches and itches. Anyway, it wasn’t cancelled, just postponed.

We thought we’d just have to bear the brunt of the loss of the train fare, but no! Scamp phoned the help line at Trainline and managed to find a sympathetic ear at the other end in Sam, who gave her an address to send our tickets to and told us that in this case she’d get a full refund. Y’see, there are good people out there.

The sun had come out for a while, but by then it had gone back behind the clouds again and the rain was back. I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to get out to take any photos today. That’s why I’ve resorted to ‘cut flowers’ again. Hopefully the last of this month. It’s a close-up of a Chrysanthemum flower that made PoD.

Tomorrow we’re planning to take the bus in to Glasgow to ‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint’ in Òran Mór.

A better day – 1 September 2019

One of those days where you just get things done. Well, some things done.

Went out early to make sure I had a photo for PoD. Yesterday I saw some toadstools over in St Mo’s and today I thought I’d go better prepared and get some wide angle shots of them. Unfortunately, when I got to the spot where I was sure I saw them, there was nothing there. After a bit of searching around I finally found where they’d been, but of the fungi there was nothing left but a bit of the stalk. It looked like something had eaten them. Hope they were mushrooms and not toadstools then!

I did see a brightly coloured Red Admiral butterfly, but it simply refused to settle on any of the Scabious flower heads. I finally gave up after getting one distant, out-of-focus shot of it, just to check when I got back home that it was, indeed, a red admiral. It was. The Peacock that became PoD was a much calmer individual and posed quite happily for me.

Dragonflies were out in force too loads of Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum). They are fairly small dragonflies. Red/orange coloured and easy to photograph as they like to sit on the metal strips on the boardwalk at St Mo’s, where I’m guessing they can pick up some heat from the metal after it’s been heated by the sun.

I made some beef olives today using beef ham that had been battered flat to help it roll round the mince core more easily. They would have been good if I’d turned the gas off after cooking them for half an hour, unfortunately it wasn’t until I smelled burning that I realised I’d turned the gas DOWN, not OFF as instructed. Oh dear. Well, the carbon is good for the digestion they say. Actually it’s people who burn things a lot who say that!

Dancing at the Record Factory in Byres Road tonight and really quite enjoyed it. We went a bit later, we thought, but it didn’t liven up for nearly an hour after that. I was exhausted, both physically and mentally by the time I called a halt. Scamp would have been happy to dance more! I think she is beginning to get over the Lurgi that’s been hanging over her. Maybe she needs a wee holiday.

Tomorrow I’m going in to Glasgow, hopefully to get my hair cut, because Gems will be here for their first practise of the new session. That’s usually a good time to be elsewhere.

Flowers, Green Beasties and The Proms – 31 August 2019

Today we were going to Chryston Flower Show to see how my submissions fared. Scamp declared that she was feeling a fair bit better, thank goodness!

It had rained hard during the night and when we woke around 9am, it was still pelting down. That continued until around midday when we got ready for the show and drove out to Muirhead to have lunch in 3 Regazzi I liked the name, 3 Guys. It was standard Italian fare. Scamp had Bruschetta as a starter followed by Chicken in a creamy sauce, with veg and roast potatoes. Mine was Potato and Broccoli soup followed by a spicy Penne Arrabbiata. Both were fine and tasted authentically Italian. We’ll be back.

Walked down to Chryston HS where the flower show was to be. First thought was that there were a lot more folk there than last time. Also the produce was better and more varied than last time. Flowers were the usual incredibly high quality. It’s hard to believe that these people are doing this, basically, for fun. It’s got to be for enjoyment because nobody is going to go to all this trouble for a £1.50 prize for a First, £1 for a Second and £0.50 for a Third. Like my pal Colin says, it’s not about winning, it’s about taking part. My painting got me a First. One landscape photo got a Second and another got a Third. My waistcoat got a Second, so all four were placed. Result!

After we’d spoken to Colin and Evelyn and after Scamp had won a host of prizes at the Tombola we drove home.

The rain that had plagued us for the past two days had tailed off by then and by the time we got home the streets were drying, so I took myself out for a walk in St Mo’s. Not much of interest until I was almost home and that’s when I found a Hawthorn Shield Bug. Sitting on a Dogwood plant minding its own business, it became PoD.

That was about it apart from listening to a quite excellent concert from the BBC Proms with Lisa Fischer and Ledisi presenting an evening honouring Nina Simone. I was amazed by Lisa Fischer’s seamless switch from jazz to Henry Purcell (which Scamp tells me was When I Am Laid In Earth.). Singing with two microphones, she played some clever vocal gymnastics. I wasn’t so impressed with Ledisi, but she too was worth listening to.

Tomorrow looks like a better day than today. We may go dancing.

When the cat’s away – 26 August 2019

The mice can do as they please.

Scamp was out on the town with her friends today, so I had the whole day to do as I pleased, and I was pleased to do very little.

I started out having a battle with the printer, trying all the combinations and permutations of settings to get a decent print of a photo for a competition. It’s never exactly the simple setting. There’s always another tweak to be done to get it just right. I think I’ve found it, but I won’t know until tomorrow when I test the setting with another photo that’s on a removable HD stored away somewhere upstairs.

Next I’d to book my car in for its annual service. The service is already paid for as part of the leasing deal. However the person on the end of the line announced that the manufacturer suggests that the air con should be checked every two years and that check is not part of the servicing agreement. I said “No thanks.” to the £99 (plus VAT) check. If the manufacturer deems it necessary to do this check every two years, it should be part of the servicing agreement. They try to catch you any way they can. Never trust a car salesman. Used car or brand new, they are all shysters.

Final thing on my checklist of “What you need to do this morning” was to dig out a big bucket load of soil from my raised bed and replace it with fresh compost from the composter. Got that done and then planted my curly kale and leeks, even remembering to water them in.

By then lunch was beckoning and it looked quite bruschetta shaped to me. It was while I was making it I spotted the robin having a look at my handiwork, not the prints. No he was more interested in that fresh new soil and he promptly got stuck in turning some over and grabbing what was hiding underneath. He seemed to look up at me and say “There you go mate, that’s me cleared some of the beasties out for you!” Grabbed his photo with the Nikon. It’s ages since I used it, but the quality is really good. I’d forgotten quite how good it is.

Powered up X-Plane and had a ‘quick’ flight. Took off from Glasgow and flew to Prestwick partly using instruments and partly by visual. It’s quite the most fascinating program, but it really makes you think about the technicalities of flying and the things that could go wrong. I was watching a program about pilots and one bloke said something along the lines of “If a car breaks down on the motorway, you coast onto the hard shoulder and somebody will come and help you. If you break down in a plane, you’re on your own!” Anyway, after safely landing at Prestwick I started a new flight in a glider and found that you can fly from Strathaven airfield. We just passed it, in the real world, on Saturday!

Salsa at night and the first class was fairly easy. Scamp joined us for the second class and it was a bundle of fun. Lots of new moves and a couple of older ones we’d forgotten Nudo was the one that caused the most hilarity.

PoD was the Robin, of course.

Tomorrow my turn to be out for a while meeting the boys for coffee.