Happy Birthday JIC – 16 August 2018

Today dawned bright and clear today on JIC’s birthday, but the weather app said rain later.

With the foregoing in mind, I thought I should get the Dewdrop out and get some more practise in slipping the shoes into the SPDs. I had an appointment with the physio at 1pm, so I decided that it would be an morning run while Scamp made some Blackcurrant Jam, with a pot destined for the local garden show.

The second, trial wasn’t quite as successful as the previous. The right shoe clipped in perfectly and consistently. The left was a hit and a miss. More adjustment needed there I think. It might have been a good idea to take an adjustment spanner with me, but for the second time, I forgot. With that said, the shoes felt secure once they had been fitted into the clips and the big success is that I didn’t fall off this time!

Back home, a quick shower and I was off to see the physio. I was sure he’d sign me off, but he applied his laser again, twice! Then he stabbed five needles into my knee and had the cheek to come back about fifteen minutes later and twiddle them around to bring me even more twinges. However, again he wants to leave me for a few weeks before he sees me again and agrees that it’s an ‘Improving Situation’. More cycling recommended in the meantime to strengthen my thigh muscles.  Found the predicted rain when I left the gym and went up to the town centre, but when I arrived home the streets were dry.

Scamp was going out tonight with Isobel to an organ recital and hymn singing in the Village church. I dropped her off at Isobel’s and drove back to feed the birds and hopefully listen to a radio 4 prog I’d recorded (about the Wigtown Bookseller, Hazy). I was just finishing the bird’s meal when my phone rang. It was Scamp to tell me that the concert was next week, not tonight and could I please come and pick her up. No hurry though, because she was having coffee with Isobel.

Drove down to see Isobel’s compact and bijou garden and admire the quality and quantity of plants she has in it. Also to be amazed by her knowledge of the names and varieties of the plants. Some people just have that ability to remember all those Latin names. I know a few, but only a few.

Well, at least I could have a drink when we got back so I had a well-deserved G ’n’ T for my troubles.

Today’s PoD is the leaves on a strawberry plant in the garden. Changing colour already.

Tomorrow? Well on the cycling trip this morning I noticed that there were a few brambles ready for picking, so if it’s dry tomorrow I may go and do that.

Another early rise – 14 August 2018

This time we were all up fairly early

Today our visitors were returning home, back down the long road south. It was a dull morning, but the ‘going home’ morning is always dull. After breakfast they packed the bags in the car and they were off, just five minutes after their predicted time. It must be a world record!

With the rest of the day to fill, we sat for a while listening to the thumps and bangs from the workmen next door installing a new boiler and complaining to anyone who would listen that this was the second one they’d done in two days. But work was waiting for us too. Scamp filled the washing machine and set it to grumble through the first of many loads. While she was hanging it out, I started to pick the peas which as JIC had predicted were beginning to grow hard. Hopefully we’ve got them just in time. Since there was little likelihood of the remainder of the few flowers that were left setting any pea pods, we cut the plants down, composted some and put the rest in the recycling bin. I freshened up the soil where they had grown and planted some more leeks. Remembering that I’d said I’d prune the roses round the back door after lunch.

Sat for a while on the back step watching the birds lining up to for their turn at the dire sourdough bread we bought in Stirling on Saturday. Although it’s called sourdough, it’s actually the yeast that’s supposed to be sour. That’s where those bakers made their mistake. Their bread was sour. Birds didn’t seem to mind and today’s PoD is of part of the queue waiting for their slice of the bread in the rain.

I started to prune the roses after lunch, but the rain got heavier, the clothes were brought in and hung to dry indoors and my loppers were put away for another day.

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying unsuccessfully to get an old Zip drive to spring into life. I now think it’s a dodgy power supply that’s causing the problem, but as it’s a bit of an antique now, I think it will soon be consigned, like the pea plants to the recycling bin.

A thoroughly miserable day, but we did have a quick practise of our Jive steps, so hopefully we’ll be up to the Seven Spins tomorrow. All Being Well.

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!

100% chance of rain – 29 July 2018

My weather app told the truth, but not the whole truth.

Today began with the wet stuff falling from the sky. There was no point in going anywhere in the morning at least, because it rained all morning. Heavy rain, light rain, drizzle and then back to heavy rain again. Wet, life giving rain. As Scamp said, it’s good that it’s not just torrential rain all day. That would just run off the garden and down a drain somewhere. The drizzle soaks the ground and gives a chance for the heavier rain to be somewhat absorbed, then when the ground becomes overwhelmed by the heavy rain, the drizzle gives it time to become completely absorbed by the grass, plants and soil. Sensible rain.

By afternoon I was becoming tired of the rain. Ok, it had done its job and watered the garden, but I wanted to go out and take photos. I couldn’t enjoy doing that in the rain. I gave in and brought the garden into the house. Well, a little bit of the garden. One sweet pea on a stem. I set up a little studio in the back bedroom with a black tee shirt as a backdrop, two clothes pegs holding up the stem and my camera on a Gorilla Pod. Managed to get low ISO shots that way of the sweet pea and the texture of the raindrops to give it some life. Couldn’t quite get the right angle on the flower head, but I got the sharpness I wanted. Good enough, I think.

We’d decided earlier to have a ‘filling lunch’ and a late dinner because we were going to a salsa social in Paisley. On the way in we were watching a BIG black cloud draping itself over the Campsie Fells and by the time we reached Glasgow it had descended on us. Rain wasn’t quite torrential, but it was heavy. Social was fun, but I was cautious as my leg was feeling good since Thursday and I wanted it to stay that way. When we left La Rambla, an hour and a half later, the sun was shining again from a clear blue sky. Well, that was two seasons in one day!

Watched Vettel flouting the rules again in the Hungarian GP. If he did that on the open road, he’d be arrested. Maybe he should be. Anyway, what does it matter to me? Will it change the price of fish? I doubt it.

Tomorrow? No plans, but it looks wet in the morning and better in the afternoon. Might take my bike for a run in the car, and then a run in the country. We’ll see.

Gardening on a grand scale – 27 July 2018

Gardening 24/7? Not for me.

The day started with me doing patient transport to Stobhill so Shona could return her ambulatory BP monitor and I, for one, am glad I don’t have to type that phrase again this week. With that done, and the miracle of being able to park just at the front door of the hospital for the second day in a row, I drove home to pick up the loaf I’d baked last night (sorry, forgot to mention that in the blog for the 26th July) and head off to Colin’s house for coffee.

He’d sent me his postcode, but I knew there were at least three houses there, so which one? I parked across the road and decided that the first on the list was the best bet, and there he was pottering. Isn’t that what all gardeners do in a greenhouse? Anyway, this was a real greenhouse with the heady aroma of ripening tomatoes and earth. It also looked like a greenhouse with trowels, pots, seed packets and plants. I really meant to get a photo, it would have made an beautiful B&W shot. Maybe next time if I’m allowed. His first question was “Where’s Scamp”. Of course he used her ‘real name’ which is NOT Scamp. I explained that she was busy gardening, i.e. pruning ‘things’ and cutting the grass. Oops. Now that I realise what I’d written, it did sound as if Scamp was joining me. Anyway Colin took me a conducted tour of his garden which is extensive and all encompassing. When I saw his show chrysanthemums with their paper hats on, it took me back about 55 years to my Uncle George growing his show chrysanthemums, although he never called them Chrysanthemums, he called them ‘Crysants’, and thankfully, that’s what Colin called them too. Actually, when I smelled the tomatoes, that took me back to my Uncle Jimmy’s smallholding where he grew tomatoes. He was always at pains to tell me never to eat a tomato without sprinkling it with salt. Try it with and without. You’ll never eat tomatoes without salt again. Jimmy and George were brothers-in-law. The link between the too was Uncle Jimmy’s wife, my Uncle Jean and Uncle George’s sister. She was a scary woman, but she put up with me eating strawberries on her smallholding when I was supposed to be weighting them for market, because she was my mum’s cousin. Confused? Don’t worry. There’s nothing so complicated as families.

After our garden tour we had coffee and a fairly extensive chat with Colin and Evelyn for an hour or so, before it was time for me to go and I wasn’t allowed to go empty handed, so tomatoes, chillies and a cucumber were pressed upon me and off I went. It was a lovely day although the heat was becoming oppressive in the latter part of the afternoon.

Back home we had a wander through our small patch and I got some photos. Star of the day was to be a wasp drinking from the birdbath, but then I got a nice shot of a Potentilla and that immediately became PoD, mainly due to the colour contrasts between the blues in the background and the orange flowers.

Just before we decided to come in after dinner, the first peal of thunder sounded. Later there was some lightning and more thunder. It’s even rained a bit tonight, but we really need more. I’m sure it will come over the weekend.

Good day. Really enjoyed the visit to a big garden, however, our own little postage stamp is a lot easier for us to manage. Tomorrow? Maybe lunch in Glasgow and a look for a pair of SPD pedals and shoes.

Coffee, Sycophants and Nits – 24 July 2018

Coffee with Fred to start the day off.

Actually coffee wasn’t until midday and the day was well and truly started by then. Topics for discussion today were shed building, the dangers of dodgy wiring and laying paving slabs. All mixed in with our usual critiques of each other’s paintings.

After lunch Scamp and I started working on her garden videos which are a great way of recording what was where in the garden in July 2018. Finally got them converted to a reasonable size and a usable format then put them on the website. They will stay there for a week or so.  Here’s the link

Dinner was home grown potatoes with cabbage (and bacon for me). Then it was time to go meet an author.

Got in early to Glasgow because I wanted to have a look for a PoD. I found it up at the Art School. I went there to see if I could get some moody shots of the shell of the Mackintosh building which is being partly demolished amid great weeping and wailing from the vociferous luvvies who attended it. Glasgow council has finally made a courageous decision not to throw any more cash than is necessary at this money pit. One fire is a real shame. Two fires is a message. Let it go. Others will disagree, let them. My blog, my opinion. Anyway, I couldn’t get a decent shot past or over the safety cordon, so I chose instead to shoot some shots of the new building. I hadn’t noticed the stylised bird shape etched on to the surface of the building. I liked the way it shone in the sun and doesn’t it look a bit like a phoenix? Not exactly rising from the ashes, but it is a bit of a coincidence. It was an easy PoD. Not so easy to process. That took Lightroom 6 for levels correction of perspective, Photoshop CS3 for adjustments to the sky. (The cloud just wasn’t quite in the correct place) and finally ON1 for extra colour tweaking. Ansel Adams was right, you don’t take a photo, you make it.

Finally got to the book signing which was on the top floor of Waterstones where there is a bar! Who knew?! Got a seat then became fidgety and started writing … in pencil … on a notebook – old style. This is what I wrote:

I’m sitting at the top floor of Waterstones in Glasgow waiting for Becky Chambers to appear to talk about her new book. I already have the book and also a birthday prezzy for Murdo which I got half price! Two rows in front of me is a girl with nits. She must be because she has a classic ‘bowl cut’ about an inch clear of her ears. Her hair is shaved into the wood below that line. Its awful looking, It’s the same cut as all the boys with nits had in Larky when I was wee, back in the ’50s. It probably cost her a fortune.
All around is the twittering noise of the twittering masses of the twenty-something, excitedly discussing what they’ve just read and how much they are going to enjoy this reading tonight. I must be the oldest here. The old bloke who’s stumbled in here thinking it was a political meeting or something. I feel so out of place. I’m not tweeting, I’m not twittering, I’m not excited. I don’t even have my phone out. Most folk in the room are on their phones, no doubt tweeting their excitement while verbally twittering. I must be the only one here who’s writing with a pencil on a notebook. The Nits Girl is making me itchy.
UPDATE – We’ve now had our safety talk and know where the nearest exit is. We haven’t yet had the life vest demo but the fasten seatbelt light comes on. Then I hear the captain call “Cabin crew, doors to automatic and cross check”. We’re off. She’s here!!!

After all that, the talk was just ok. A few dull questions from the Waterstones bloke and then the usual fanboys (and fangirls) with their hands up, shouting “Me miss!”, “Me miss!” Then it was over. Time to go home. Interesting to see Ms Chambers, but not something I’d write home about. Oh! I just did!

Watched “Rip It Up” tonight. A quite forgettable Haun’ Knitted Scottish production about how we started the rock scene for the whole world. EXCEPT, when Lulu was the subject, Scamp remembered being in the crowd that was there to watch her in Easterhouse. I’d downloaded the program at the weekend and when I watched it on the computer frame by frame, look what appeared. A star is born, and it isn’t Lulu!

Dancin’ early tomorrow then maybe manage another run on the bike.

Down on Glasgow Brown – 22 July 2018

It used to be Glasgow Green, but that was before the sun shone for a month while the council watched and did nothing.

This morning we went for a walk down to Glasgow Green. It’s ages since we’ve been there and had heard that all the grass had been burned away by the excessive heat and the lack of rain for the past month. We found a cordon running all the way around the frazzled grass from the People’s Palace to the McLennan Arch, while teams of gardeners worked at laying turf and watering the little bits of grass that have survived. Apparently they are preparing it for the 2018 European Championships which are due to begin on the 2nd August. I think they may be hiking to get it finished in time. However, if they had, during the dry spell, taken some time to assess the damage that was being done to the grass from all the events they were running and put in some work to repair it, there wouldn’t have been this last minute rush to fix things. Too busy rubbing their hands at all the money they were making. Shortsighted as usual. Still, we don’t live in Glasgow region, so it won’t be our Council Tax that will be paying for the re-turfing of The Green! One thing’s for certain, the money won’t be coming out of Glasgow Council coffers.

Back home and after lunch I took the Dewdrop out for a run again. While I was out the clouds did open for a while to deposit a gentle smir but it didn’t get as far as real rain. All it did was increase the humidity that was already making cycling uncomfortable. Did about 40 minutes of decent cycling at something approaching a working cadence. Maybe more tomorrow. Although, the first hurdle tomorrow is the visit to the dentist 🙁

Today we lifted our first tub of potatoes and got a fair few for our efforts. The variety was Charlotte. We forgot to weigh them, but our estimate is about 850g. Not bad from only three seed potatoes.

Today’s PoD is from the visit to The Green (or should that be The Brown) this morning and is a lone sculler on the Clyde. I liked the way the buildings in the background seem to rise up and dwarf her.

Tomorrow is the dentist and hopefully some salsa at night.

Turning the Tables – 20 July 2018

Found some woodwork to do for a change.

Scamp was off visiting one of her old friends out near Denny which left me with nothing to do and all morning to do it. It was raining for a change, so cycling was out. I could have gone to the gym, but that didn’t hold any fascination for me, so I started to tackle a bit of homework that’s been on my to-do list for a long time. My dad had an old folding card table, beech framed and covered with a green baize top. I’ve used it as a computer table and a painting table for years now, but the baize was torn and peeling off and the top was sagging in the middle. It really needs a new top and a new piece of green baize. Today I stripped the green felt off then carefully removed the hardboard top. That left the rebate in the top filled with the glued on felt. It took me over an hour, working with a couple of chisels to cut, pare and scrape the felt off. Then I had to decide what to do about the top. I’m still not sure. It really should be replaced, but I’m thinking it might be an idea to use plywood in place of hardboard because it is more stable. Went to price 3 or 4mm plywood in B&Q. I need a piece 503mm square, but the biggest offset they had was only 450mm wide. The only other option was a 2m x 0.6m sheet at an exorbitant price. I’ll have a look around. Maybe I’ll be able to find an off-cut down the Barras. Anyway, the hard work is done now, just the reassembly to do.

Did think of going over to St Mo’s to see if anything wanted its photo taken, but the day was unispiring with little directional light, so it was a last minute garden safari instead. It secured me PoD which is a flower from one of my Ambassador pea plants.

No plans for tomorrow. It’s forecast to be a better day than today, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

The day that the rains came – 15 July 2018

It rained today, on St Swithin’s Day.

It hasn’t rained here for almost a month, then, today it rained. It was St Swithin’s day. If it rains on St Swithin’s, it’s supposed to rain for forty days. I suppose my shorts can go into the washing basket now along with the tee shirts and the short sleeved shirts. Might as well get the Bergy jackets looked out and the wellies. I should really start to sandbag the doors front and back to hold back the torrents. However, on looking on the bright side, I can put away the garden hose almost until September! If you believe the superstition, that is. What if you don’t? Does that mean it won’t rain on you? Will you have a little invisible umbrella shielding you from the downpour that’s soaking all the ‘believers’ ? I’ll go with that view. I’ll be an unbeliever, even if it means I have to keep watering the garden.

It was good to see the rain today, even if it wasn’t all that heavy. It was good to see the streets looking black again. Good to see the soil soaking up the moisture. I even put on my ‘rainy coat’ and went for a walk across to St Mo’s just to say I’d been out in it. The ground had that lovely smell of rain on dry earth that only comes after a long, hot, dry spell and the rain wasn’t cold. I even wore my shorts to better feel the warm rain. I managed to get some shots of a damp Soldier Beetle sitting on a Cow Parsley head and remembered that my mum used to call Cow Parsley, Dug’s Flourish. I never did find out why, but when I Googled the english version ‘Dogs Flourish’, back came confirmation from a few places on the Central Belt of Scotland, each with different possible reasons for the name. What’s in a name?

Under Scamp’s tutelage I cooked some stew using a combination of her mum’s and my mum’s methods. It worked, of course. With that lineage, how could it fail. That was dinner tonight. Something simple and homely. For me, Potatoes, Stewed Steak and Calabrese which is a variety of sprouting broccoli. Scamp substituted Ratatouille (or Rats) for the Stewed Steak. Both seemed to go down well, resulting in clean plates.

The rain persisted almost all day but is fading away now as darkness falls.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. No dancing because it’s Glasgow Fair Monday and although nobody bothers with ‘The Fair’, the STUC building is closed because it’s a local holiday. Old habits die hard.

What a Gay day – 14 July 2018

Today we were going to Glasgow on the bus to watch the Glasgow Pride procession.

We decided to be extra lazy today and get the X3 in. That mean the least amount of walking for me. Had the traditional coffee in Nero with a shared apricot croissant to give us the extra burst of energy to fortify us for our walk around the streets. When we left Buchanan Galleries I spotted a neat bit of graffiti on the billboard for Victoria’s Secret. Well, the secret is now out Victoria. You just want us to “Buy ‘Hings” which translates to Buy Things for those of you living outside Glasgow.

With a photo in the bag, I could relax a bit and we walked down to Argyle Street – me to go to Millers Art Shop and Scamp to go to Next. Neither of us parted with our hard earned money and we met up again. As well as going to Millers, I’d also enquired of some multicoloured rainbow people where exactly the parade would be starting from and was a bit concerned when they told me they didn’t know. Hmm, this didn’t sound good. However, we needn’t have worried, the police van with blue lights flashing and the balloon truck behind at the far end of Argyle Street was a dead give-away.

The parade was a lot bigger this year, with an estimated 12,000 walkers, paraders, weirdos and general hangers-on. Right at the front was Nick the Chick (AKA Sturgeon). Scamp said Nick smiled at her. If she’d smiled at me I wouldn’t have been broadcasting that snippet of news. We watched it all from start to finish. Just about 45 minutes of lunacy, but good humoured and colourful lunacy. Contrast that with the Orange Walk last week which is also lunacy and colourful lunacy, but hardly good humoured. As well as the PoD there are some photos on Flickr of the procession and some of the characters, therein.  In total I took 361 shots today.  Most of them were taken in ‘motordrive mode’, where you just keep the shutter button pressed and hope for the best.  It works most of the time.  I’ve whittled those 361 down to 60 usable shots of which 5 made it to Flickr today.  Maybe I’ll post some more in the coming week, all being well.

After I bought a couple of watercolour paints, we went to Zizzi for lunch and were both disappointed with the quality of the food, but the two glasses of wine we had were lovely, although each of us preferred our own different choice of wine. Maybe it’s because it was white wine we were drinking instead of our traditional red, but we both agreed they were refreshing. Contrast that with two insipid pasta dishes. Oh well, a lesson learned. Should have gone to Sarti’s much better to go to a small restaurant than a chain.

Just managed get seated on the X3 going home when the bus left the stance. Good timing for once. Sat in the garden when we got back. Scamp finished off the remainder of a bottle of red we’d opened the other night and I had a bottle of cider. It was comfortably warm with a nice welcome breeze. Looks like there will be a fair amount of rain tomorrow. At last.

Don’t expect we’ll be going far tomorrow, but we’ll wait and see.