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Right Said Fred – 20 November 2017

Woke to a light grey Scottish sky. Light in colour but heavy with rain which they were proudly pouring down on us and it continued to pour down all day.

The big job this morning was the decanting of the the three-seater settee to the front garden for uplift tomorrow by the cooncil van. With typical NLC efficiency they had confirmed that the uplift would be some time between 7.30am and 6pm. However they forgot to confirm the day, so all we have is the word of the person on the other end of the phone last week. We tried twisting and turning the settee every which way, but it simply wouldn’t go through the door. The door had to come off. Still we needed that extra 20mm or so. The feet had to come off too. with that done, we now had the settee in the hall where it could be maneuvered more easily. Now we just had to get it through the front door. Again we twisted it and turned it, but it wouldn’t go. I did think about taking the door off, but that meant using a set of Allen Keys and they were in a cupboard that was blocked by the settee. Then I had the eureka moment. I didn’t need to take the whole door off, just removing the handles would be enough. So that is what I did and with a push and a shove a grunt or two and a few muttered sweary words the settee landed in the front garden, where it now resides until its uplift by the cooncil, some time between 7.30am and 6pm, hopefully tomorrow. Now we just need to go through the same procedure on Friday when the two-seater gets uplifted by a furniture charity, but we’ll leave the professionals to bring in the new settee next Monday. If you get a chance, look up “Right Said Fred” by Bernard Cribbins on Spotify. You’ll understand how this furniture removal thing works!

After we’d tidied up the living room and the hall, it was time for Gems to arrive although the sopranos were sitting were sitting on dining room chairs and the altos were on the two-seater. I didn’t wait to hear the comments, I headed to the leisure centre for a swim (hopefully), a sauna (probably) and a shot in the steam room (definitely). As it happened, I managed all three, although there were a lot of people in the pool for a while. I came away feeling a lot better than when I’d gone in. The heat and gentle exercise seemed to relax my poor battered, stretched and twisted body. I’m getting too old for this furniture moving lark.

Came home and it was time for dinner (chilli for me. Baked potato for Scamp) before we drove in to Glasgow for our Monday double dose of salsa. We hadn’t been to any class above level two for two weeks and it showed in our dancing, well, in mine at least. However we enjoyed the moves we learned which were Eva, Disco, Iadonovan and Puerto. I’d never have remembered them, but Jamie G demonstrated them at the end of the class and encouraged us to video them. Evalina from the 6.30 class also told us that there is a private WhatsApp group for sharing salsa videos from class. That would be useful. It was while we were in class that I realised I hadn’t put kidney beans into the chilli. Funny the things you think about at the most inappropriate times!

I grabbed a few shots after the removal was done, but before Gems arrived. Just a few shots in the garden taken despite the rain. The raindrops won PoD.

We had planned to go to Perth tomorrow, but now we’re not so sure. It looks like it will be Wet, Wet, Wet. Without Marti Pellow!

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Recovery Mode – 15 November 2017

Woke to dull, grey, cold Scotland.

However, a night in your own bed works wonders. Much lighter breakfast than we’ve been used to last week, but that won’t do any harm and will, hopefully remove some of those extra kilos we’ve both gained.

Today consisted of making inroads in the piles of washing, emptying suitcases and re-stocking the fridge. I went out at about 2.30 to get some photos, forgetting that the light goes around 3pm. That makes today’s grab shots the best I’ve got. Even at that, I was working at 10,000 ISO which accounts for the amount of digital noise in the pics.

Did go to salsa tonight and only stayed to help at one beginners class, then came home. But great news, Glasgow Cooncil have found some parking meters in a skip somewhere and they take the new pound coins, so no more harassing people for their old now non-legal pound coinage.

Finally got a chance to display my sketch of last week.  The view from the roof terrace down onto the complex beside us.  It looked nice, but the grass is always greener … !

Don’t know what’s happening tomorrow. It’s too late to think and I’ve finally cleared my blog backlog. Is that what ‘blog’ stands for? Does it stand for BackLOG? It seems to for me.

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Auld Claes and Purrich – 28 July 2017

Auld Claes and Purrich. One of my dad’s sayings, meaning back to real life after a holiday. That sums up today perfectly.

It was dry and fairly bright when we set off to do some shopping. Decided to drive to Stirling to shop in Waitrose, partly for the run and partly for a walk round the shops.

Took a couple of shots of a sow thistle growing out of a wall near the car park in Stirling, but rushed it and it turned out overexposed so badly it was out with Lightroom’s capabilities to bring it back into gamut. That’s why it’s flooers again for PoD. This time they were carefully exposed and taken on a tripod. Remarkably detailed and low(ish) grain from the Teazer which which is proving a very adaptable camera. These are Scamp’s sweet peas which she has grown from seed this year and are flowering very nicely now and just over 2m tall. A much more successful batch than last year’s.

Dinner tonight was pea and prawn risotto, the peas came from the garden. Not sweet peas, but garden peas. Ones I grew this time. Last year I got one pea plant. This year I have about seven, grown from seed I got when we visited JIC and Sim earlier in the year. There weren’t that many peas in the risotto, but they tasted good.  Partly that was due to chopping up the pea pods and boiling them with the liquid for the risotto.  Hoping to have more peas with Sunday dinner. Also hoping to have new potatoes from our second batch which I’m going to lift today.

That’s about it for a dull day back in Scotland. No plans for tomorrow.

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1,371 miles apart, Dubrovnik to Cumbernauld – 27 July 2017

Time to go home.

Up early and out for breakfast before grabbing the bags and checking out, one last time. Pretty sure we’ll never go anywhere on this ship again.

You don’t really want to know the details of the day, do you? You’ve all done this end of the holiday stuff. Half of you wants to stay, but half of you wants your own bed and your own chairs and to be able to listen to your own music without having to break every 30 minutes for some infantile ‘game show’. Yes, I’m glad to be home.

Today’s final sketch of the cruise was done while sitting on the deck waiting for the minutes to tick away until we leave the ship for the last time.  Watching all the folk looking incongruous in their long trousers and jackets, milling around doing the same as us.  Just waiting for the minutes to tick away …..

Went out for a walk to St Mo’s just to make sure it was still there. Only out for 15 mins and got bitten by a cleg. It won’t bite anyone else, I made sure of that.

The cruise is now officially over for another year.

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Started dull, got duller, then it rained – 29 May 2017

Today started dull, got duller, then it rained.  Read on for the boring details:

The morning was spent ‘tidying the back bedroom’.  That is code for ‘digging down to see if I could find the couch, then the floor. Scamp’s sister is coming to stay for a few days and she’ll need a bed for the night.  After I’d found both of the preceding items, I started the ‘tidying up’ proper.  By lunchtime the work was almost done and I’d even hoovered (or Dysoned ) all the upstairs except the bathroom.

After lunch I took the rubbish to the tip.  Another load of junk disposed of.  I went for a run to see if there was anything that piqued my interest, but no interest was piqued and I came home empty handed.  No rubbish, no photos, not even rubbish photos.  That state of affairs didn’t last long.

The Stuckies (or Starlings to you) were queueing to get in at the peanuts.  They were perched all along the fence.  Just had time to grab the Oly10 and snap a few shots, the best of which is above.  By then dull had given over to dull and raining, so the ISO was really high, but somehow the Oly managed to handle it well.  Unfortunately the Teazer wasn’t so capable of handling it, even if its zoom is so much better than the Oly10, so the two shots on Flickr are from the Oly, not the Teazer.

Dinner tonight was chicken curry, made from the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner and it was very tasty.  Economy in all things.  Although Scamp wasn’t too pleased to find herself chewing on a cardamom seed.

I did manage to get  sketch done.  Not my best, but as ever, it’s done and almost on time.

So dull, duller, then rained, didn’t totally tell the whole tale.  It never does.

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No Partridge – 17 April 2017

Today it was decided that we’d go to the garden centre we had hoped to visit yesterday.  JIC had checked and it would definitely be open.

Before we got there, JIC wanted to visit another *garden centre* which was certainly not allied to any national or regional garden centre chain.  What it was, was a very busy plant sale with prices that were almost as good as those in Poundland, but for much healthier plants.  I felt sorry for Scamp, wandering around the racks of greenery like a wean in a sweetie shop without a penny in her pocket.  Only it wasn’t money she was without, it was transportation.  You see, we were FLYING home later in the afternoon and you can’t carry plants in a plane, at least not the quantity and size of plants she had here eye on.  Also, those glazed pots were really cheap, but can you imagine the damage the luggage handlers would inflict even if you did pay the £15 overhead for putting them in the hold.  Eventually we had to drag her away as we packed the car.  Three of us in the back, Scamp, me and a pear tree.  No partridge.

I got two photos at the plant sale.

  • On 14th April I took 71 shots
  • On 15th April I took71 shots
  • On 16th April I took 28 shots
  • On 17th April I took 4 shots

You can tell when we were going home.  But it’s not quantity, it’s quality that counts and I liked the quality of the above shot which is of a Queen’s Cushion flower.  That said, I find the background almost as interesting as the foreground with its mix of Oof (Out Of Focus) colours.

With the car fully loaded we arrived at the garden centre (a horticultural version of coals to Newcastle) for lunch.  I picked the poorest option which was Chicken wrapped in pastry with potatoes and as much veg as they could cram on.  The veg was great, the potatoes were awful and the chicken was dry.  I envied Scamp and Sim their salmon and JIC his roast lamb.  Oh well, maybe next time I’ll make the sensible choice.  After lunch we drove home and unloaded the car.

To quote Tom Paxton “… All too soon it was time to go …” (Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues), and it was time to go.  We said a sad farewell to Sim and Vixen (the Devil Dog) and JIC drove us to the airport.  For once the plane took off on time and we had a fairly pleasant flight given that the plane seemed to be three quarters full of noisy BBs and their minders.  I don’t suppose you can really call them BBs any more, but Persons Brigaders just doesn’t make sense.  I did laugh at the big cheer that burst from them when we landed in Glasgow.  The view from the plane as it cruised over the city was tremendous with the sun shining through rain clouds.  It reminded me of the cover of the Raintown album.

From the airport we did the cheapo transport to home.  We got the (free) bus from the airport to Queen Street station, then just managed to catch the Croy train after paying the Pensioners price.  At Croy we just caught the (free) bus to Craiglinn and walked home from there.  Last of the big spenders, it cost us £4.10 total to get from the airport to home.

Tomorrow will be a lazy day.

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It Rained – 26 February 2017

All day it rained.  It rained heavy, it rained light, it rained sleet with an outside temperature of 9ºc (!), it pretended to stop, just to catch the unwary before launching another torrential downpour.  We weren’t fooled.  We live in Scotland.  We have a hundred names for rain, just as the Inuits have a hundred names for snow.  Most of the words for rain are suffixed with ‘AGAIN!’, or prefixed with ‘STILL’.  Sometimes, in extreme cases, with both!

Lunch for me was last night’s curry reheated.  I hope you’re impressed, N D’Ag.  Not quite up to having it for breakfast – on toast, but getting there.  Actually it was very good.  Not as fiery as last night.  After that I settled down to do a sketch for 28 Drawings Later …  I wasn’t going outside to sketch.  Watercolours or even ink pens and rain just mix too well, but not in a good way.  In an experimental way, perhaps, but not a good way.  Today I went back to Trinidad, at least in a photograph.  The building is an old house at Mt St Benedict’s Monastery in Trinidad and it fair brightened up the day.

We had already decided on a Trinni dinner and that’s what we had.  It’s Stewed Chicken with boiled rice, boiled cassava and fried plantain. Definitely a work in progress, but the fried plantain, although soft was the star of the show.  Loser was cassava.  Too much of a faff.  We’ll take Madeleine’s advice and try frozen stuff next time.  We were going to have coconut ice cream, but we’re leaving that for later in the week.  The coconut has been drained, smashed, flesh peeled and blitzed and the pulp drained, so the hard work has been done.

The forecast is for a drier day tomorrow after a wet and cold start.

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The Wee Red Car – 24 September 2016

After a wild and windy night with rain battering on the bedroom window, we woke to face the journey home.  It was still windy, it was still raining and there was no sign of either of them abating.

After breakfast I turned the car round so it was facing into the wind.  That way the boot lid wouldn’t blow up when I was loading in the camera bags, rucsacks, luggage bags, flask, poly bags, books and even more bags.  Finally we were loaded up and ready to say our goodbyes and hit the road.

The first stint was from Staffin down the east side of Skye through Portree and Broadford to the bridge.  I thought we might have trouble crossing the bridge, but the wind had dropped a bit by the time we got there and the crossing was really very easy.  On down to Dornie and a chance to grab a couple of shots of Eilean Donan Castle.  The castle that has graced a thousand biscuit tins.  Over the causeway and a stop for a coffee and a scone in the castle tea room.  Despite its tartan and shortbread overload, the coffee is surprisingly good. It was there we saw the blue Fiat 500 on the flatbed being towed by the camper van.  I liked the little touch of the hamper, clogs and tulips.

From there it was the most scenic part of the road normally, but today the weather took most of the scenery away.  Another uneventful, but boring drive to Fort William to stock up on food and drink then get back on the road again.  That’s where we picked up a Wee Red Car.  Now look, I’ve got no problem with people staying within the speed limit and Fort Billy has a 40mph limit for most of its length, but when you see the white circle with the diagonal black line, that generally mean floor the pedal for a bit.  No, the Wee Red Car was determined that 40 was a comfortable speed.  Occasionally it would accelerate to 45, then drop back to 35 just so that it wouldn’t be caught out by any average-speed-cameras that tried to pop up in front of it.  They didn’t, but better safe than sorry the Wee Red Car said.  Of course, there were plenty straights when those following could have passed the WRC, but there were always cars coming the other way.  To add to the holdup, just before the head of the glen at Glencoe, there were ‘mobile roadworks’.  This turned out to be a Cooncil van acting as a convoy vehicle to slow folk down just in case the WRC didn’t do its job properly.

I’d intended stopping at Tyndrum, but I was so determined to pass the Wee Red Car, with Scamp’s consent we just continued on.  At Crianlarich I hoped against hope that the Red Bastard would take the new road down Loch Lomond side, and when it disappeared, I gave a silent cheer.  Then a couple of miles outside the village, there it was again, two cars in front of me.  How did it get there?  We reckon WRC was stuck at 45mph and drove at that speed through the village.  I waited my chance, with unaccustomed patience, dropped a gear and hammered it past both the cars in front of me, waving a victorious ‘Vicky’ to the WRC at the front of the line.  Life after that was just a bit boring.  No more Wee Red Cars to vent my anger on.

Arrived home just after 5pm, which meant we’d spent about 7 hours on the road, about par for the course.  Of course we’d have been home an hour or so earlier if it hadn’t been for the Wee Red Car, but then I wouldn’t have had much to write about, would I?

Lazy day planned for tomorrow with little or no driving.  Thanks for a great few day Murd and Jac1.  Also thanks to Jac2 for the tour round the Cow Shed.

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Cake Today! – 15 August 2016

15 Aug bWell, we did have cake today!  Woke to sunshine that didn’t really go away all day.

The sun enticed us out and into the wide world.  We couldn’t agree on a destination until Scamp suggested that we go a walk along the canal.  Now I go there quite often, but it’s a while since she’s walked along it, so it was decided that we’d drive to Auchinstarry and walk along to Twechar and back.

Today was the day the teachers went back to work after the summer hols and as we were walking along the railway, I was thinking about all the times I’ve sat in the assembly hall at school listening to head teachers and deputes droning on about grade averages, STACs, child protection procedures and other dry, boring paper-pushing nonsense.  They always started with a jolly “Well I hope you’ve enjoyed your holidays and are feeling refreshed.  Here’s the bad news …….. “.  Drone, drone, drone.  It was essential to get there early, not to show you were interested, although there were some that did.  No, it was to grab the seats at the back where you could doodle unseen on the hundred page handout you’d been given with charts and tables and mind numbing statistics that meant nothing to anyone but the bean-counter who had created them.  “Can you see this Powerpoint alright at the back?” some depute would ask. “Yes, we’re just not interested.” we’d mumble in reply.

Ah, but while all my former colleagues were enjoying this annual festival of figures and meaningless jargon, we were out in the sunshine, admiring the flowers and the light through the leaves and counting the wee fishes and talking to the ducks.  It was when we were walking back along the canal towpath I heard what I thought at first was a motorbike before I realised that although the pitch of the engine was rising, it wasn’t changing gear and it seemed to he coming from Barr Hill which has a roman fort, but no roads.  I knew what it was then, it was a Piaggio.  It’s an Italian plane type called a canard.  Which is a plane with a wing towards the rear and two little winglets just rear of the nose which makes it look as if it’s flying backwards.  Some people think it looks like a duck, hence the name ‘canard’.  Some have actual tail fins and tail planes like a normal aircraft and some have jet engines, but most have pusher props.  That is, the propellers stick out the back of the plane and push it through the air rather than pull it like a conventional plane. (I like planes, in case you hadn’t guessed.)  I’d seen one last year at almost exactly the same place, but hadn’t got a photo of it.  I started taking my camera out of the bag and tried explaining to Scamp what it was I was so excited about.  She didn’t share my enthusiasm and said “Oh, so it’s a plane?”  I managed two shots of the Piaggio before it disappeared into a cloud.  Neither of them very good.  I’ve never managed to get a good clean shot of this plane.  You can see today’s effort above.  Maybe one day …

After we drove home and had lunch, Scamp wanted to work in the garden.  I dumped my photos into Lightroom and let it get to work on them.  Then we sat in the garden and read until it was time to make the dinner and then get ready for salsa class.  I had done my exercises from the physio this morning under a hot shower and they paid off while I was in the class, allowing much more movement than I’d had last week.  We were able to complete almost all the moves tonight which is proof that we are moving in the right direction.

Beautiful sunset tonight which augers well for tomorrow’s weather.  We’ll see what the day brings.  If it’s as good as today it will be very welcome.