Dance Marathon – 15 August 2018

Today we managed Jive, Waltz, Quickstep, Tango and Salsa. In that order.

In Jive we worked the knots out of spins 1 to 6, then had a go at spin 7. We had been practising at home so it wasn’t too bad. Spins 1 to 6 are fairly well set in muscle memory now, it’s just remembering the order that I find difficult. However Michael’s little short descriptions keep me right. It’s a work in progress!
Waltz was similar in that we were neatening up our routine and trying to get round an entire circuit of the floor without bumping into people, but when other dancers just stop right in front of you to have a wee discussion about what went wrong with their last steps, it makes it difficult for you to get any continuity in your own dance.
Quickstep was a new one today. We only got the first few steps of this dance. To be continued next week.
Tango was going over the first three moves with the dramatic head turn Boom! Boom! (You had to be there to understand that!)
Salsa was in the evening but it was still a learning experience. I learned that I wasn’t dancing some of my steps correctly, or to be more exact, I wasn’t leading the moves correctly. Even although we are helpers at these lower level classes, there are always things to pick up on.
That made just over three hours of dancing and I still didn’t complete my 10,000 steps today. Why, I do not know.

Between the ballroom class and salsa, I managed to get the PoD of the “Right Said Fred” men (the song, not the group) forming a human ladder to lift scaffolding pieces into place on a building that was being renovated in the Merchant City.

Also, I shelled half our peas and used them in a Prawn and Pea Risotto. I even used the chopped up pods to strengthen the stock for the risotto. Apparently it passed muster with Scamp. I agreed, but then I would, wouldn’t I?

Tomorrow the physio and it’s forecast for rain all day.

Stirling – 11 August 2018

The city with something for everyone.

While JIC, Sim and Steffi were visiting Stirling Castle, we too, or we two, were also in the town. It’ll never be a city to me. It’s just a jumped up town with a good curry shop and an interesting art gallery, oh yes, and a Waterstones and a Nero. The rest I can do without quite happily. Glasgow? It’s a city. Embra is a city too, Even Aberdeen is a city covered in granite and seagulls, but Stirling is just a decent sized town. Our reason for visiting today was to have lunch in that good curry shop. A few years ago it was on a downward slope, but it seems to have got its act together again and is now back on the up. New seating and maybe a bit less scruffy interior, but thankfully they decided to keep the menu as it was. Wise people. Scamp’s Veg Pakora followed by Veg Dhansak seemed to satisfy the lady and although my Haggis Pakora was a bit heavy and my Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna was a bit too spicy, it was deliciously sweet and full of flavour, so I won’t complain. It seems, like I said, that they are back on track. The foodies said so!

Had a look in the Art Gallery and appraised the offerings there. Some were just too twee and rejected out of hand, but a couple of others were in the category or “I’d but that if my lottery ticket came up”. Not having bought a lottery ticket, that purchase was unlikely, but the artist, Julian Mason, really had worked out how to paint wet water. As if I could do anything like that.

When we’d parked we couldn’t help but notice the number of Italian motorhomes that seemed to have taken over the carpark. They were still there when we were going home. Scamp thought they were something to do with the European Championships which finish tomorrow. It’s as likely an explanation as any.

Not long after we got home, the other three arrived back from Stirling Castle and Doune Castle where Steffi had re-encacted the Quest for the Holy Grail, complete with coconut shells, as so many have done in the past I seem to remember.

I drove them all in to Glasgow to meet ’The Boys’, Andy and Chris, with respective wives. We’re not expecting them back until late when old folks like us will be tucked up in bed. On the way back I got some ice cream for Scamp and me from the cafe in Muirhead. Also got some Oddfellows sweeties and a stick of Gin ’n’ Tonic rock which tasted neither of Gin, nor of Tonic. Disappointing. Oddfellows are half finished though!

Today’s PoD is Scamp’s little rose bush she has grown from seed. It’s Sunday name is Little Gem, but it’s always been called Rosie and it flowers continuously all summer. It deserves its place as PoD.

Tomorrow the visitors may be going to Embra and we may go to Glasgow. It all depends on the weather.

Merchant City Festival – 5 August 2018

Today we tried to do as the CITRAC signs ordered and Use Public Transport.

Well, we would have used the nearest public transport, the slow X3, but it didn’t want to play today. Stood waiting and waiting before eventually giving up and walking to Condorrat. There we got the fast X something else which whisked us into Glasgow and we arrived there earlier than if we’d caught the missing X3. Went for a coffee and a wee pastry in Nero to fortify us for the day ahead, not knowing when or where we’d have time to eat again. Actually it wasn’t nearly as desperate as that. We were going to the Merchant City Festival which kicked off on Friday night, but was running at full steam today. On the way we had to cross the cycling circuit of the road race for the European Championships. Today it was Ladies day. It’s not hard to find the Merchant City, even if you’re a tourist. You just follow your ears. The sound of samba bands even drowned out the noise of whoever was on stage in George Square. Music, music everywhere, but thankfully no ‘Bastard Drummers’ or student pipers busking. Real music for a change.

First band we heard was the enthusiastic Katumba Salsa Band from Liverpool. Then, after wandering around we chanced upon the Pulse of the Place children’s band from Edinburgh who played a spirited samba version of the Doctor Who theme. Time for food again and Scamp got some churros while I waited in the queue for a margherita pizza. Both were excellent. The churros were fresh out of the deep fat fryer and covered in sugar. The pizza straight out of the wood-fired pizza oven on the back of a wee Italian three wheeler van. While we ate we listened to the Blast Furness Carnival Band. A slightly more mature group of individuals from Ulverston, dressed in striking red and black outfits. They were playing New Orleans jazz. Along the way we had bumped into Mr Mackintosh celebrating his 150th birthday and looking very spritely for his age. He was accompanied by one of his associates, both of them sporting what looked like extremely false moustaches. His wife was also with him (without moustache, false or otherwise). For some reason Chic was carrying with him a facsimile of one of his famous chairs and was encouraging people to pose on it. We rounded off today’s visit with an amazing performance of D-Construction by a French ’modern dance group’, Compagnie Dyptik. Some fantastic moves, jumps and leaps through space, all done with quite intimidating eye to eye contact and audience participation. Absolutely mesmerising.

After that we walked back through a eerily deserted looking Glasgow because all the roads had been closed for the road race. By this time the race was in its final stages and that’s where today’s PoD came from. One lone cyclist on the long descent of West George Street.

Got the X3 back home, yes they were running. Then had sausages, home-made beef burger, accidentally deconstructed beef olive (which will be forever called beef Clive in this house – long story) and a baked potato for dinner. Scamp had a parsimonious baked potato and beans. Followed by Scamp’s pineapple sorbet. After our usual Sunday coffee (with alcohol), we inspected the two hundred odd photos and videos and reflected on a good day.

Tomorrow, Scamp is booked for coffee in the morning and again in the afternoon. I’m going to fit the pedals on my bike and the cleats on my shoes and hopefully take the bike out without falling off!

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!

Lunch at the Lantern – 28 July 2018

Too wet for Embra, so Glasgow for lunch today.

Today dawned wet and miserable. Almost a complete turnaround from yesterday and with the promise of more to follow. We got the bus in to Glasgow. That’s becoming the rule rather than the exception these days. It takes a bit more time than driving, but means we can both have a drink with our lunch. Went for a drink in All Bar One, forever to be known as Al Barone to us. G ’n’ T for Scamp and a pint of Joker IPA for me. From there on to La Lanterna where we had lunch booked. Lunch for Scamp was Arancini, followed by Penne with Chicken and Mushroom and I had Bruschetta followed by Risotto with Salsiccia and Sun Blushed Tomatoes. Both were deemed excellent and possibly just too much or too filling, which probably amounts to the same thing. I know that mine lingered with me for a fair time afterwards. Maybe just too rich. Still, it was a good lunch. We’ll probably be back.

A walk around town afterwards, still looking for extra cutlery that’s proving elusive. Bought a pair of linen trousers in the sale in Debenhams. Got today’s PoD on Queen Street. It’s reflections on that great mirror of a building on that street, just across from the GOMA. After that it was the bus home.

Spent the night watching Wreck it Ralph! Simple things and simple minds. Just escapist fun which is always good.

Tomorrow? As I said, it looks like more of the same and possibly even wetter than today. May stay at home, but it doesn’t look as if we’ll need to water the garden!

A day of three halves – 26 July 2018

Hospital patient ambulance driver, laser patient, cyclist

Up and out early(ish) to take Shona to Stobhill Hospital to get her ambulatory BP monitor. For some reason, I got parked right at the front door of the hospital and then had a leisurely half hour watching the drivers circling around hoping for a non-existent parking space. Drove the patient back home and got in just in time for a cup of coffee before lunch.  Then I ordered more coffee and tea from The Bean Shop, to make sure there is plenty for our visitors from down south.

After lunch I started back on an old task, namely that of Annette’s Nexus 7 which I’d found another, yet another possible solution for. It didn’t work, and neither did the Nexus. However, I now have the solution and this one will work. It’s a heavy duty poly bag. You put the offending article in the bag, whisper the magic words and Abracadabra (That’s not the magic word) once you’ve hit the bag four or five times with a claw hammer, the problem is solved. It’s no longer bricked, it’s now broke. I’ll never have to waste another hour of my life trying to solve a wee challenge, as Val would say.

Once I’d settled on the Final Solution, I felt so much better and headed to the physio. As well as being a physio, David is an enthusiastic cyclist. I needed his recommendation for somewhere to get a new pair of cycling shoes and a pair of SPD pedals. His answer was Wiggle. It’s an on-line sports supplier. I’ve had a look and the prices are good and if it’s good enough for an exacting cyclist like him, it will be good enough for me. After that, he lasered me and stuck pins in, then lasered me again just for luck. Knee felt better after that.

Came home and dinner was ready. Salad with our own potatoes, (the last of batch one) salad leaves, tomatoes and prawns. Scamp had the same but with salmon instead of prawns. As the sun was still high in the sky and the temperature still in the 20s, I took the bike out to see if any beasties wanted their photos taken. Not a lot did, but on the way back I passed a field of barley and though I might get a landscape shot instead. I didn’t like the shot once I’d taken it, but as I was walking away I spied a ladybird on one of the stalks, and that became PoD.

Tomorrow I’m a hospital patient ambulance driver and then I’m off to have coffee with Colin, maybe in his greenhouse. Rain, life giving rain is forecast for tomorrow and lots of it to judge by the weather map. We’ll see.

Just a wee bit dancin’ – 25 July 2018

After all the excitement yesterday, today was a normal Wednesday.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and compared our experiences of the Becky Chambers Q&A. As you would expect, we both had different expectations and feelings about the night, but both agreed it was interesting.

Because of the summer holidays or maybe because of the hot weather, classes for ballroom are at random times and days today it was normal day but at 12.30 instead of 1.30. We had almost a private lesson again and went over Spin 6 again and also got introduced to Spin 7. This is Jive I’m talking about here. After that we went over the second half of the waltz routine, the bit I’ve been struggling with for weeks. It’s the strangest thing, some times it works perfectly and others it is a shambles. Towards the end, I was beginning to get the hang of it, but Anne Marie, the teacher we’ve had for the last two weeks is off to Australia tomorrow to see her daughter, so we’ll be in Michael’s hands for the next month or so. We’ll survive.

Took my bike out in the afternoon for another 25 minutes of actual cycling with a half hour or so’s interruption for photo taking. As it turned out, none of the photos were very good, so I fell back on an iPhone shot I’d taken in Glasgow earlier of two bottles talking to each other. At least, that’s how I saw it. I didn’t stage it, they were like that when I got there “Honest mister!” That became PoD.

Dinner was Sea Bass with Thai Flavours. Cooked en papillote (i.e. cooked in greaseproof paper). It’s a lovely way to cook fish, but I think I overdid the ginger. I’ll stick strictly to the recipe next time.

Went to salsa tonight and enjoyed the 7.30 class, but my knee was getting sore towards the end, so we didn’t stay for the 8.30 class, which was a shame for Scamp.  Another hot day.  We were so glad of the fans at the STUC.

Tomorrow morning I’m taking Shona to get an ambulatory BP monitor fitted in the morning. What fun for her! Physio in the afternoon.

DIY – 23 July 2018

Today I did some woodwork.

Before the woodwork, there was the dentist to prepare for. You know how you always give your teeth an extra scrub with the brush and maybe rinse with some mouthwash before you go to meet the dentist for your checkup? Well, that’s probably the only time my teeth see the brush, although I must admit I use a fair amount of mouthwash throughout the year. Everything was going swimmingly until I put brush in mouth and moved it around, that’s when I found a tiny chip of enamel had come loose from what turned out to be a small tooth, next to my incisor. What better time for it to happen than ten minutes before I was due to see the dentist. He brushed (no pun intended) it aside saying it was only a tiny chip and that he could simply smooth it into the curve of the tooth. I told him to go ahead. Other than that, my gums and teeth were fine. Total cost £2.48. A bargain to get out so easily.

With my tooth fixed, I went home to have lunch and test out my newly remodelled denture on a piece ’n’ ham. After that Scamp started one of those sentences that begin with “Do you know that piece of decking?”. Yes dear, I know that piece of decking. She wanted me to make a base for an old decorative planter we call the rockery in the back garden. For years its been supported precariously on some broken bricks to keep it up from the paving stones in front of the kitchen window. For years I’ve been threatening to make something more substantial to hold it. It looked like today was the day. An hour later after some measuring, sawing, drilling and driving in screws, it was done. No need for painting as the decking and the rest of the wood had been pressure treated, so it shouldn’t rot (fingers crossed). Best of all, it fitted into the space provided and left sufficient room around it for Scamp to squeeze in some other smaller plant pots to tidy the place even more. She was happy, I was happy that I’d eventually got round to doing a job that had been on my list for a long time. Two satisfied gardeners.

Before dinner I took a walk to St Mo’s and got a few beastie pictures as Scamp calls them. My favourite is the delightful beastie at the top of the page. I don’t know what kind of fly it is, but it’s quite nasty looking up close.

Dinner tonight was lemony creamy pasta with smoked salmon. It came from a Tesco recipe card and it worked. Well, it was a bit too lemony for my taste, but Scamp liked it. After that it was time for Salsa and I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to it tonight, for some reason, however it was a lot of fun. Again, possibly too much exercise for my poor knee, but it always seems looser after a good salsa workout. Today’s torture was Enchufé Moderno and Mascarita.  Came out feeling much better and dripping with sweat.  Although there was a lot of heavy rain tonight, the really hot weather continues.

Tomorrow two meetings. Meeting Fred for coffee at midday and then at night, meeting Becky Chambers to buy her new book Record of a Spaceborn Few. Looking forward to both.

All roads lead to Black Rum – 21 July 2018

The trouble with being retired is you don’t get a weekend.

We got the bus in to Glasgow today because by the time we got up after reading in bed for an hour or so, it was too late to go to Perth or Embra. We could have gone to Stirling, but Glasgow was better because we could get the bus there and have a drink with our lunch.

Lunch was at Romans in Candleriggs, a new pizza place along the same lines as Paesano. A great barn of a place that was totally empty when we went in. That’s not a good sign. To make up for the bus journey we had a glass of wine each and two of the best pizzas we’ve had outside of Italy. The base was exceptional, thin and crispy as it should be. That’s the big failing of Paesano pizzas, according to Scamp, it’s floppy bottom! We both agreed that the tomato sauce in Paesano was better, but overall, it was very good. We’ll be back. I think the only problem is the lack of footfall. When we left, no other customers had appeared. It could be the dull exterior or the location, but other places on the street were thriving, so that’s unlikely. Only time will tell.

Bought myself a new pillow because the old one has suddenly lost all its shape and I’m getting a pain in my neck (not to be confused with BEING a pain in the neck) and I’m blaming it on lack of support when I’m sleeping. Again, only time will tell.

Back home I tried unsuccessfully to order AppleCare for the iMac. The Apple website is so difficult to navigate if you’re buying anything ‘insignificant’ like the £160 AppleCare insurance. It’s almost like they don’t want you to buy it. I wonder why. I lost count of the times I got to a page where an Access Denied. Worst of all, there is no way to complain or explain the problems I’m having. Well, there is a page that allows you to write down your problem, but the small print tells you that although they ask for your email, they will not contact you. Why ask for your email then? I may try again, possibly over the phone, but really, Apple you need to look into this. Even the best companies make mistakes, but the biggest mistake is believing you are faultless.

Today’s PoD was a grab shot in the garden of a new batch of violas to replace the ones burned to a frazzle by the hot June sun.

Soaked away my AppleStress with a glass or two of Kraken black rum, we both did. Black rum and Coke. Watched Chas & Dave on Jools Holland and they were really good! Then we watched Pretty Woman (1990!) on TV. Couldn’t believe I’d never seen it before. Went to bed, that means Saturday’s blog was written on Sober Sunday, because two (large) black rum & cokes is not conducive to good spelling or grammar!