Posh frock, Posh togs for posh dinner – 21 June 2018

P1040992- blogToday we had posh dinner booked in Epicurean.

Art class in the morning, and as we were at sea today, we were painting a rose.  The view from the room on deck 18 showed only sea and sun.  Unfortunately the sun disappeared about an hour after we started.  It might have disappeared before that, but I was concentrating so much on the rose and the teacher’s method of painting the petals, I didn’t notice anything around me.  The class swot’s voice droned on, but I managed to tune it out.  That’s a skill Scamp has that I covet!  The method for the red rose was, working petal by petal:

  1. Paint on a strong wash of Cadmium Red.

  2. Using a damp brush, remove any highlights while the red wash is still wet.

  3. Allow the wash to dry slightly then add the shadow areas using Alizarin Crimson.

  4. Continue using this method until all the petals are done.

  5. With a damp brush blend the shadows were necessary.

  6. Mix a dark using Alizarin Crimson and Intense Blue and paint in the small areas of deep shadow.

With the rose successfully painted I had just enough time to catch the end of Scamp’s line dance and got a short video of it for reference later.  HER reference, not mine, I hasten to add.

After lunch we swam in the covered pool, because the sun wasn’t quite getting through the cloud cover.  Lounged in the jacuzzi for a while too and my leg felt better.  By the time we were finished, the sun was back in control.

We had booked a dinner in Epicurean and it was just as good as the last time, two years ago.  We both had Lobster Thermidore as a main after Scamp’s starter of Trio of Tomatoes and mine of Two Types of Smoked Salmon.  Pudding for Scamp was a White Chocolate Sphere with Popcorn served with Creme Brulee.  I had Banana and Peanut Canneloni.  Coffee and truffles to finish.  Amuse Bouche at the start and end Start was Mexican Surprise which was baby tomato on a bed of white guacamole.  At the end it was a delicious deconstructed G&T.  Everything was photographed, of course.  That was menu 2.  We immediately booked for next week to get a taste of menu 1.  We also went straight to Sindu to book a night there too.  Food?  It’s what we do!

Watched the sun go down over the sea!

Salsa, Painting, but no’ Dancin’ – 18 June 2018

P1040887- blogThere is a painting class, a salsa class and a ballroom class on sea days like today.

Woke at about our usual time of 8.30.  I’d visions of still being in the land of nod well after breakfast was past and we were into lunch time, but it wasn’t like that.  We were up and out before 9.15 and went to Smash ‘n’ grab for breakfast.  Then it was time for me to head for the watercolour painting class in the Metropolitan lounge where the self-important singer had been last night.  Scamp went to the ballroom class instead. Our tutor, a man from Kurdistan, was called Easa.  He told us it was pronounced like Lisa, but not to call him Lisa.  His style was more direct than that of the tutor two years ago and he didn’t come with the baggage of a published book he felt he had to publicise.  Once the usual self proclaimed ‘artist’ had shown him her iPad full of her paintings (she did commissions, probably for blind friends.) we got started, but while we were waiting for the lady to get her complements, I did a quick Loomis sketch of her!  I can’t say I agreed with all Easa’s colour choices, but on the whole the finished article did look like the tiny little photo he’d given us to copy.  On the next sea day we are painting penguins (or so he says).  We’ll have to wait and see.  Scamp seemed to enjoy the ballroom which was the Social Foxtrot, but said that the teacher had a cutting voice.  It was time for lunch.

We agreed that we’d have a light lunch and for once, I stuck to my promise.  After that, it was time for the Salsa class and much to my surprise it was really good, although the men’s teacher was just a little bit camp.  I really enjoyed the class although it was a bit basic for us, but perhaps, just perhaps if they’re teaching salsa during the day we might get some decent music to dance too tonight.  Next up was the afternoon session of Social Foxtrot.  It came as a bit of a surprise to me to discover that P&O are allowed to employ Nazis.  I’d have thought in these days when you can hardly mention Hitler’s name that one of his high ranking officers is allowed to be a ballroom teacher.  “Cutting voice” Scamp had said.  Yes, it was certainly cutting and also hectoring.  “Ladies, some of you are STILL facing the wrong way.  If you’re looking at me, you CANNOT be facing forward.”  I gave up after that.  I came on this ship to enjoy myself, not to be shouted at.  I apologised to Scamp and we went for afternoon tea.  I saw a couple of dolphins, but Scamp just missed that experience.  I’m sure there will be more.

Weather and sea was a bit heavy today, although the Bay of Biscay was not too choppy.  Air temperature a bit cooler than we’d hoped for with a high of only 18c.

Last night, although I had steak for dinner, the lamb shank looked lovely too.  Tonight I had Gammon Shank and it was gorgeous.  Scamp’s starter of Seared Tuna was declared delicious too.  Food appears to be much better here than Thompson’s and without the overhead for steak.  An unnecessary addition to the cost of the cruise in my opinion.

Watched the sequence dancers for a while, also known as dancing for the already dead.  I don’t see me ever stooping that low.  They didn’t play any salsa, but then again it was the Nazi who was in charge, so I didn’t expect any.

Went to the show and enjoyed Reel To Reel for the second time, I’m sure.  Late night coffee (decaf –  Sorry Hazy, I know you expect better from me) and a slice of pizza.  It’s much warmer outside tonight than at any time of the day.

Hoping to get up early for the bus to Oporto and our feet on dry land again.  Land that doesn’t move!

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.

In, Out, Shake it all about – 14 June 2018

A busy day, in fact, a very busy day.

The day started with me dragging the brown bin and the grey bin into the teeth of a storm (Storm Hector) out to be emptied. I expected most of them to tumble and distribute their contents over the pavement, but they survived upright until the bin lorry appeared and emptied them.

Next was a bit of blood letting, the second in a fortnight. I didn’t know my blood was so interesting. When I returned with a little less blood in me than I’d gone out with, I picked up Scamp and we drove in to Glasgow to:

  1. Look for a pair of trainers for me.
  2. Have lunch in a new restaurant (to us) in the West End.
  3. Find a belt to hold up my kilt now that my waist has reduced in diameter.

Task 1. Parked at Tiso and suspended my disbelief at the prices they were asking for a pair of nylon shoes. However, I buttoned my lip and tried a few pairs on. None of them were exactly what I was looking for but some were worth looking at again. May go back again.

Task 2. Not really a task, more a test, to see just how good it was. Drove in to the city centre and got the subway out to the West End then walked down through the storm and occasional showers to La Lanterna West End. La Lanterna in the city centre is quite a Glasgow institution, one of the first, and some would argue, one of the finest Italian restaurants. I’d spotted LLWE on Monday when I went for a walk, rather than risk my knee in the advanced salsa class. Snapped the menu on my phone and booked us for lunch when we got home. It was not very busy. Just three blokes obviously having a business lunch. One of them apparently had two mouths! They were behind us, so I couldn’t confirm my theory, but the only way he could talk, constantly while eating was if he had two mouths. Also, since his cerebral cortex would have to synchronise swallowing with breathing, that would explain why he was talking absolute shite. One of those people who are so important they have to talk about themselves all the time. Have you noticed that people like that rarely ask questions, and if they do, they never listen to the answer? That’s because they know everything and don’t need your opinion, especially if it contradicts theirs. Scamp says I’m a cruel man, sometimes. Sometimes? What do you mean, Sometimes?

The food was good. Scamp had Arancini for starter and I got a bite of one – it was superb. I had Rigatoni Amatriciana with braised pig cheek instead of bacon. Scamp’s main was Hake fillet in a light tomato broth served with potatoes. I had Risotto with roasted pumpkin and wild porcini covered in parmesan shavings. Now it was lovely, but I got greedy (who me?) and scoffed the lot, which was a shame because it lay a bit heavy in my stomach for the rest of the day. We’ll certainly go back DV.

Task 3. Subway back in to Glasgow. It was now about 3pm and the train was busy. Scamp got a seat but I chose to stand. I must have looked as if I was in a bit of pain because a girl sitting opposite Scamp offered me her seat. I smiled and thanked her but said I was OK. It thought that was very kind of her and thanked her again when we left at Cowcaddens. It’s nice to see that kind of attitude in young people today. I also thought as I was getting off the train, “Maybe I just look like an old man, an auld guy, which I suppose I am.” Walked up to Bath Street to see about a belt to hold up my kilt. The girl told me that a belt wouldn’t really help and suggested I get the kilt adjusted to fit. I told her I’d been told last year that it would take a month or so for the alteration. She seemed surprised and said she could do it today if I could bring it in by 6pm. It was now 3.30pm. Yes, we could go home, get the kilt and bring it in with time to spare and that’s what we did. Drove home, picked up our bin which was lying are un the kilt, drove back to Glasgow and handed it in. Got measured and told to go for a coffee and the kilt would be ready for us in an hour. AN HOUR, not a month! Did as we were told, went to JL and had a pot of tea each which is where today’s PoD came from. I liked the shot because it looked like a still life. Walked back to the shop and tried on the kilt and knew right away, just like Cinderella did, that it was a perfect fit. The girl, I didn’t even find out her name, wouldn’t take anything for the work, but I managed to get her to accept a few quid as a token of my heartfelt thanks. Walked out of that shop feeling better than I have for at least a week. Both the girl on the train and the girl in the shop will never know just what their individual gestures meant to me today.

Tomorrow will hopefully be a less frantic day. Still stuff to do. Still people to see. Just at a less frantic pace.

Beer – 12 June 2018

Today me and the Auld Guys were having lunch, a liquid lunch.

It started with breakfast and a couple of paracetamol (other pain killing, anti-inflammatory medicines are available). When I got up proper, an hour later, my knee was sore. Went for a walk around the house and then phoned the physio, only to find out that today was his day off. Left a message and went back to resting my knee again while Scamp was off getting her hair cut. She’d left me with the firm instructions to wait for her return and she’d give me a lift to the train station for the more relaxed run in to Glasgow. Not driving today because this was the first UBI club meeting in over a year and ‘drink would be taken.’ We all know what that means. If you get the sniff of a pint of lager, that’s enough to put you over the limit, I mean if you even see a bottle of beer, that’s you risking points on your license. Today we were going to do more than look or smell, we were going to drink the stuff.

Got in to the HorseShoe Bar in Drury Street about half an hour late and had missed the first round, but I swiftly caught up. It’s a skill well learned. A couple of rounds later we had caught up on all the gossip and were ready for lunch. For lunch we were going upstairs to the ‘restaurant’ where we’d have the three course meal for a fiver. It’s not haute cuisine, it’s just hot cuisine. Good filling stodge. Two fiery chicken strips as a starter, followed by ham, egg and chips (wafer thin ham, one egg and about fifteen chips).  Everyone else had the almost obligatory fish ‘n’ chips. Dessert had to be Apple Betty and ice cream. I don’t know who Betty is, or was, but she makes a great apple sponge. After that, we dispersed. Colin was first to go, then Ray, and that left the Fantastic Four; Jack, Val, Fred and me. In a break with tradition, we went for a coffee rather than more alcohol to finish the day and ambled up West Nile Street to Laboratorio Espresso where we had a coffee, and I got the return call from the physio.

I’ve had work done on my shoulder by this guy and Scamp has had her ankle repaired. I trust him He doesn’t tell you to have a full consultation if it’s not necessary. For the second time in a year he talked me through what I should be doing about my knee and what I shouldn’t be doing too (dancing). It seems that my three professionals; JIC, the nurse and the physio are in agreement. REST, ICE, ELEVATION. Much like the acronym RICE, just missing out the C for COMPRESSION because there is no swelling. I thanked him for phoning on his day off and for his advice then went back and enjoyed my coffee that bit more. Good strong coffee it was too.

After that it was time to shake hands and head for home. Jack and Val were getting the bus, Fred and I were getting the train. Scamp picked me up at the station but Fred managed to catch the bus that drops him almost at his door. We’d all agreed to meet up again soon, hopefully sooner than a year from now DV.

PoD today was taken in the garden. It’s the first of the Boogie peas to sprout and it looks as if it’s ready to grab hold of something to haul itself up.

No Jive for me tomorrow. Too may experts telling me the same story. It looks like a wild day with high winds and rain, but maybe not until evening.  May go to the Forge and change my shoes, providing I can find somebody who “Does the Web”!

Zoglets Everywhere – 10 June 2018

They may be Frogs or Froglets to some, but to me they must be Zoglets.

The day didn’t start well with pain in my knee, but once I was up, showered and with a couple of paracetamol in me, I felt much better.

<Technospeak>
This bit is very complicated, so just keep your eyes closed when you’re reading it JIC. Right. Last night I made a backup of the Linx before it got a chance to install the Spring Update. After that I allowed it to do the update, as if I had a choice! It was taking hours. Two hours in, it had done less than 20%, so I halted the update process by doing that old trick of holding down the power button for ten seconds. I connected up the magic usb memory stick and the backup drive, booted to the memory stick and reinstalled the May backup which doesn’t have the overload of the downloaded Spring Update (SU) and left it there.

Today I booted that May backup. I don’t know what went wrong, because I’ve used this backup before, but everything went screwball. Restarted again and reinstalled last night’s backup with the SC taking up 10GB of extra disk space. As soon as I booted Windows asked when it should do the upgrade. Ach, to hell with it. Just do it. I’m pretty sure you can downgrade again, almost sure. This upgrade went much quicker. The whole thing was over in less than 2 hours. After I’d answered all the questions with NO, the system worked fine. I’m now toying with the idea of deleting the 19GB of ‘Windows.old’ that is Microsoft’s own backup, just in case something does go wrong. Perhaps, because of all the hassle so far, I’ll just leave it. Ok Eyes Open time JIC.
</Technospeak>

Planted my last two seed potatoes today in an enormous black bucket today. They’re meant to be ‘earlies’, just not that early. With that and with a bit of cutting and pruning I was finished with gardening for today.

Scamp chased me out, telling me to go out for a walk for half an hour. I took her at her word and went over to St Mo’s for a walk. That’s where I found the Zoglets. There must have been hundreds of them wandering around. That wasn’t PoD though, the dragonfly took that award. Surprisingly, it was the exact same dragon as yesterday’s PoD! What’s the chances of that? I did feel better after the walk. When you’re just sitting about in the house, aches in you knees seem to be there all the time with you. When you’re out walking, you’re too busy looking around you to notice the nag in your knee. Well done Scamp. Well done too for dinner tonight. Sea Bass with Broccoli and New Potatoes. Can’t go wrong with that, especially cooked by an expert.

Tomorrow? Hospital for Scamp in the morning. Scamp out for afternoon tea later and I’ve got the results of my blood test after that. Finally, we’re hoping to go dancing at STUC. Phew!

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.

Getting in a scrape – 2 June 2018

Today was to be wet with thunderstorms. Well, they got that right.

John and Marion were coming to dinner today, so that mean we’d be busy. Not too busy to have to stay in all day. We went out early for a run in to Glasgow. Wandered round JL, went for a coffee in Nero perused CassArt for some A2 sketching paper, but decided I’d rather pay a reasonable price in The Works instead. After that we came home. I dropped Scamp off at the house and went up the ‘Toonie’ for some extra ‘messages’.

When I got back to the car, I got a shock. Big white scrape along the front wing and black scrape below it. Paint scraped off the corner of the wing too. Drove straight to Halfords and got some touch-up paint to add to the chicken and peanuts I’d got in Tesco. Luckily, the white scrape was off the offender’s car/van and not mine. Most of it washed off and the black scrape came off too with a bit of Brasso (cheaper than T Cut and does exactly the same job). Paint isn’t quite the right colour, but it’s only a couple of chips that as Maisie would have said “A blind man, running for his life wouldn’t notice.” Still angry though. Even worse, the dash cam hadn’t been set on parking mode. It is now. However, I bet Mr White noticed the dash cam and is shitting himself wondering when the irate driver or the polis’ are going to come knocking on his door. I also bet he’ll be checking his car for ‘ten pence coach lines’ when he next parks in Tesco.

John and Marion arrived just after the predicted thunder storm having driven through the heavy rain that was also forecast. It was a late end to a frustrating day for quite a few reasons. Tomorrow will be better.

Hoping to go to Gardening Scotland tomorrow.

<NOTE: Blog written up on 3rd June>

Thunderbolts and Lightning – 1 June 2018

Very, very frightening.

Not really all that frightening as it turned out, and it didn’t last all that long either. It was a dull morning when we woke, but then the sun came out for a little while and we decided to risk a visit to Waitrose in Stirling to get the makings of tomorrow’s dinner. John and Marion were coming to dinner tomorrow and Scamp had a menu in mind that needed lots of things. I had nothing in mind. To be more exact, I had nothing in MY mind. I was just dodging along and being the driver today. Came back laden with goodies of all different kinds from the great Waitrose.

Came home and had lunch which for me was a piece on Brie, Apple slices and Honey. On brown bread it’s an absolute delight. Sat on the step at the back door eating this and watching the clouds massing. Wunderground app predicted thunderstorms by 2.15pm. It was now 1.30pm and it looked like they were on track with their predictions. At about 2.20pm the first drops of rain fell and then the distant thunder started. Soon it was all round us and lightning flashes too. It only lasted about half an hour, but the rain stayed for a couple of hours before fading away. We’d got the plants out of the greenhouse at the first drops of rain and I’m sure the plants enjoyed their little downpour. Saved us watering them. When we were sitting watching the rain I was thinking how lucky it was that we hadn’t gone to Gardening Scotland today, its opening day. It will still be there on Sunday I’m sure.

I had intended going out to St Mo’s after the rain stopped and the sun came out, but I decided instead to take some garden photos and the little spider got PoD. I found a tick on my leg this morning. Probably only the second or third this year, so I’ve made myself a solemn promise; no more walking through the long grass until the first frost.

Dinner tonight was disappointing. It was a steak from Morrisons and it was as tough as old boots, not that I’ve actually eaten Old Boots, but from the reactions of those who have, it’s not a pleasant experience.

Tomorrow, as I said, we have visitors to dinner. I’ve not got much to prepare, just a loaf, sourdough of course. Hopefully it will be risen and ready to bake tomorrow morning. Maybe we’ll go in to the town for an hour or so in the morning after the baker has deemed the loaf edible.

May leaves us – 31 May 2018

The last day of May and it left us in sunshine.

Up early for the blood-letter to do her worst, then back for breakfast before Scamp left to see the new ‘wean’. With some time to myself I set the A2 drawing pad on the easel and drew the ‘man in the mirror’ again. This time I was more pleased with the result. I got the nose right and the proportions which is what the Andrew Loomis method is supposed to help with, but I adapted rather than adopted the method to make it work for me. I suppose that’s what the tutor was talking about really when she said last night that it’s a generic method that produces a generic head. The trick is to know how to move away from that to the realistic head.

Went off to meet the Auld Guys with a lighter step, knowing that I’d got a foothold on this portrait thing, only to find that the coffee machine in the coffee shop wasn’t working. If the coffee machine stops working, does that just make it a shop then? Maybe, but it wasn’t selling anything I wanted to buy, so I met val and we went to the other Costa at the opposite end of the mall. It was not as mobbed as I thought it would be and we grabbed three seats and I phoned Fred to tell him about the change of venue.  The usual topics for discussion:

  • How we got in this mess (politics)
  • Life was so much simpler and more fun in the ’70s (nostalgia)
  • The cost of living (economics)

I also got some tips on what to see in Rome, Marseilles, Barcelona and Naples.  Not visiting some of these places, but I now know what to see and where.  Finally had to break up after a couple of coffees because of the overbearing rules on parking by Tesco.  That should really have been added to the agenda.

Came home and had just enough  time to grab a camera and get some photos of St Mo’s wildlife before dinner.  It was really muggy with a heavy feel to the air, but the sun was still shining.  Got some photos of a little deer with its nice colourful summer coat.  Loads of dragonflies, but also loads of biting beasties about, so I was quite pleased to come home to make dinner.  Dinner was mushroom burgers with potatoes and broccoli.  The potatoes and broccoli were good!

Tomorrow we are due thunder storms almost all day.  I think we’re going for the messages.