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The three did feed the deer – 29 April 2017

We were supposed to be going to a market this morning, but the plans were changed and we went to Kingston instead.  Not a big problem for us as we both like that place by the Thames.

While ND and Hazy went off to look for shoes, Scamp and I wandered round the labyrinth (this weekend’s word) of shops and alleys, agreeing to meet the other two back at the car in a couple of hours time.  It was getting near that time when we exited one alleyway to find ND and Hazy at the end.  Serendipity.  Lunch was eaten in the open air at the market in the centre of the town.  Scamp had Chicken Biryani and I had Achari Chicken.  I also found an Italian food stall selling cannoli (not e to self – find a recipe) and bought some.  Unfortunately, Hazy has a severe egg allergy and can’t eat cannoli which have a lot of eggs in them.  We can.  We did.  Headed back home and let Hazy rest while we went to Richmond Park.  We went to see the deer, but not feed them, despite the title of today’s blog.  However when we got the parking place, we wandered round the Isabella Plantation, one of the fenced off gardens, instead.  It was a good choice for Scamp because the azaleas were in full bloom and a good choice for ND and I because of the variety of photo opportunities.  When we had ooh’d and ah’d our fill in the Isabella, we took a walk round the woods and chanced on a couple of herds of deer.  Unlike the St Mo’s deer, these creatures were quite happy to sit or stand around having their photos taken.  Our exertions deserved an ice cream cone each and then we went home taking the long route round the extensive park.

Dinner tonight was ND’s Spanish Rice with Chicken and Prawns – got that recipe.   Then we watched Fantastic Beasts, the Harry Potter spinoff.  I must admit, I was lost halfway through, but did enjoy the CGI.  After a while I began to believe what I was watching was real.

Tomorrow we are having a lazy day and going to Canute and Delia’s for lunch.

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Train Talk – 27 April 2017

Footered around in the morning and packed our bags.  Got the bus to Glasgow and onward on the airport bus to the airport – obviously!  Got through all the technicalities and security then went for a late lunch which was a Fish Finger Sandwich and chips (shared) beer for me and a glass of red for Scamp.  All of this was done under a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.  Footered about again and then on the plane and off slightly earlier than expected into that blue sky and through the fluffy white clouds.

An hour later and we were on approach to Heathrow and there was rain streaking the windows and the clouds were grey.  This wasn’t what we had ordered.  We were expecting sunshine!  We were promised jetpacks!  Theresa had said it would be sunny, although Nick the Chick had warned us that if we went to england it would rain.  Stay in Sunny Scotland she’d said.  I wish we had listened to her now.  Never mind, we caught the little monorail to the South Terminal and from there got the train to Clapham and that’s where the Train Talk started.  It came from an opinionated teenager who apparently could have been a nuclear physicist and also a Nobel Prize winning biologist, but she had foregone all that to concentrate on sexual politics.   I was amazed to find that there weren’t just Ls and Bs and Gs and Ts, but there were also Polys, although that might have been Pollys, it wasn’t all that clear.  Also, you could get wristband and bracelets to denote which you were.  She described herself as like ‘Sadness’ “because I’m short and round.”  So, not just fat then?  All this information came in an almost no-stop flow of consciousness with the occasional interjection from one of her two train companions when they woke up.  The interjections also gave her time to breath.  Thankfully, we soon arrived at Clapham and she went further on her merry way and we went ours.

ND met us at the station and we were soon at the house.  Dinner was chicken salad and it was well received.  Fairly early to bed tonight, because it had been a long day.  I think Ms LGBTP will still be talking and talking and talking!

Probably Greenwich tomorrow.

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Around and about – 15 April 2017

Today we started out being driven to Hitchen for lunch and a walk around the shops.  It seemed like a plan as the sun was out and it was fairly warm.

It seems a pleasant wee town with a busy market in the centre.  Had lunch in a Greek restaurant.  I had lamb casserole as my main after a starter of Borek which is filo pastry filled with Greek feta cheese & spinach.  Afterwards we went for a walk around the main part of the town where a Sikh group were giving out free food and cans of juice to anyone who wanted it, free of charge as part of their Vaisakhi festival.  We had just had lunch, but there were big queues at the stall, happy to make the most of the food on offer.  It appears that there is such a thing as a free lunch!

It being Easter, there were a few others stalls dotted around, a town crier shouting the odds and even a couple of Imperial Stormtroopers searching for those droids, I presume.  We were looking for Just Desserts, a dessert restaurant, but it when we found it, it was closed, not just for Easter, but for good.   It had had its just desserts.  Instead of a dessert, we settled for a posh, artisan coffee shop.  Coffee was lovely, if  a bit sharp and there were loads of cakes on display.  JIC and I had Yoghurt and Cranberry slice.  Best laugh of the day was when I went to the toilet and found the toilet brush was stuck in a Starbucks mug!  Someone with a sense of humour and an opinion of Starbucks much like my own.

Back in the town the Vaisakhi procession was in full swing with drummers and marchers who were preceded by two men spraying water on the road in front of the markers, presumably to ritually clean it for them.  It was all quite a jolly and colourful affair in the sunshine.  However, our parking time was nearly up, so we made our way past and old church back to the car with a few minutes to spare.

Went out later to see the new Mill House and it’s quite a revelation although there is still a fair bit of scaffolding enclosing it.  Sketched it, but I’m not impressed with the sketch.  May redo it later.

Dinner should have been in the Benington Bell which is a traditional British pub serving traditional Trinidad food!  I had Aloo Pies to start with, but everybody else had Salt Fish and Tomato.  Main for me was Lamb Curry for me and for everyone else was Chicken Curry.  I just like to be different.  Unfortuntely, Sim wasn’t feeling too good, so we just ate and left. (Since I’m writing this on Sunday, I can tell you that she was fine after a night’s sleep.) The food was really, and I mean really excellent.  Thank you JIC and Sim for that.

When we got home, Sim went for a snooze while we watched Black Mirror on Netflix.  Interesting programme.  Must search for it when we get back home.

Tomorrow (or to be truthful, today 😉 we’re hoping to visit a garden centre.)

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To the Manor Born – 14 April 2017

Actually Wimpole is an estate, not a manor, but ’estate’ didn’t make such a good title I thought.

JIC drove us all there in the morning, and this being Good Friday, there were already hundreds, if not thousands of people there.  Most seemed to have brought their 2.5 children with then.  I did hope there were an even number of families, otherwise it might become messy with that poor 0.5 of a child wandering around.  Got parked and Sim set off in search of the ticket office and managed, somehow, to get to the front of the queue.  Tickets purchased we went in search of the formal gardens.  Most of the other families with their 2.5 children in tow were taking part in the ’Easter’ Egg Hunt which had been cunningly renamed to Cadbury’s Egg Hunt so as not to offend any non-Christians while they searched for eggs.  I thought it was a petty and childish piece of semantics and, as my mum used to say, “That’s how wars start.”

It being early spring, there weren’t a great variety of different flowers in bloom, but the colours of the daffodils and tulips made up for that.  You can see a couple of shots of them above.  As well as flowering plants, there were also veg and fruit plots and it was good to see that many of the plants had been labelled.  I learned on our visit to Kew a few years ago to photograph the label as well as the plant.

The estate farm was quite interesting, but there were too many weans squealing around the place, so I was quite glad when we left.  Even more squealing and grunting was coming from the enormous pigs in the piggery.  It’s not until you see these providers of our bacon that you realise just how big they are. Just as we were leaving the farm, which thankfully is a real farm and not just a petting zoo, an old plane flew over, a biplane.  I thought it was a Tiger Moth, and when I got home and checked the reg, I found I was right for once.  So strange looking at it through the EVF (Electronic View Finder) because it looked as if the propellor was stationary.  Must be due to the refresh rate of the EVF.

I took some photos of the Wimpole Hall itself. It was very grand and enormous.  Such a terrible waste of accommodation.  How the other half live.  Even more astounding was the view down the tree lined avenue which appears to be about a mile and a half long.  Another demonstration of one family’s wealth.

Having said all that, it was a great day out.  A bit cold, especially when you weren’t sheltered from the wind.

Back home, Sim made Trinni Stewed Chicken while Scamp watched and made mental notes.  Chicken was lovely.  Much better than anything we saw the contestants making on Masterchef later.  However I did have a nice bottle of IPA to take the edge off the bald bloke’s “Oh Mate!” exclamations.

Vixen still doesn’t seem to take too kindly to male bearded strangers, especially if they are standing.  Maybe tomorrow.

Tomorrow we may be going to Hitchin for a walk round the shops in a quiet wee town.

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Away again – 13 April 2017

Got up early, just after 6.30 to go for a walk because it was too warm!  Too warm in Scotland in April?  Walked around St Mo’s and although I saw some deer, they were too far away, so it was flooers and blossom that provided the PoD.

Scamp out for coffee with Isobel in the morning, giving me time to frame up my mixed media painting.  Not sure now if it’s the right colour of mount, maybe it’s a bit too dark.  I also managed to get my packing done for the visit down south.
After Scamp returned, I went for coffee with Val.  Fred was indisposed with flu, so sent his apologies.  Val was on good form and we discussed computers and technology in general over a couple of cups of java.

Bought a pot of Marguerites for Scamp in B&Q and they fitted perfectly into the pot vacated by the Black Eyed Susans.

Then it was time to get organized properly and get the bus into Glasgow.  Then the airport bus to be told that the plane was delayed by 20min.  What do you expect from EasyJet?

Pleasant flight and was met by JIC at Stanstead.

Long day, many miles travelled by car, bus, bus, plane and finally car.

Vixen didn’t seem too impressed with me, although Scamp was readily accepted.  Maybe she’ll be better tomorrow.

Going for a walk through the gardens of a stately home tomorrow, hopefully.

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Flying Home, Going Home – 9 April 2017

We were going home, but unlike Yes in “Ritual: Nous Sommes Du Soleil”, we weren’t flying home, just driving, driving for just over six hours.  That said, I thought it would be good to finish this little break like it started, with a song quote.
It’s always a drag, the journey home.  It’s like flying, sailing, driving home from any holiday, you just want to be there.  When teleportation becomes viable it will immediately become the most used form of transport for coming home from holiday.

We only stopped twice.  Once at a wee cafe in Spean Bridge.  I don’t know what it’s called but it wouldn’t be hard to spot, it’s the only cafe in the town as far as I can see.  It used to be a Little Chef, but re-opened as, what looks looks like a family run cafe.  It’s a great place to stop coming back from Skye because it’s roughly half distance.
The other stop was at Balachullish to stretch my legs and check the tyres when I accidentally bumped the kerb.  Legs were stretched, tyres were deemed ok and the above photo was taken.  On with the journey.

Once back on the road it was a straight run home with very light traffic.  Weather was dry for the most part with just a couple of light showers, not the downpours that were predicted.  Jackie did send a text to say that it was pouring in Skye.  So for once, we brought the dry weather to Skye and took it away with us!  Murd will not admit that.

So, after 761.3 miles and 17.8 gallons of petrol, we were back where we started.  Thank you Jackie and Murd for the hospitality (and the mince ‘n’ tatties and the ‘wee’ drams).  Thanks Mairi for the entertaining stories and for being a foodie in the making.  Nice to see Jaki again, even if it was just for a few minutes.  We’ll be back DV.


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Happy Birthday to Me – 8 April 2017

Another year older.

After I opened my birthday prezzies this morning (thank you all!) and had my breakfast, it was time to head out.  My choice of destination.  I chose Broadford and that’s where we went today.  It’s ages since I’ve been to Broadford.  Obviously, we’ve passed through it ever time we come to Skye, but we rarely stop and get out of the car there.  Hazy phoned me just as we stopped and parked.  Had a pleasant talk with her, even if the temperature she was talking about down there was almost twice what we were enduring.  That said, they have the weather, we have the scenery and we were staring out  the windscreen at that sort of scenery.  Out across the water was the pier  and the youth hostel.   But, as Scamp said, no dolphins.  You can’t have everything.

We went for a walk along the shore walk, then down the road before Scamp found a coffee shop where we stopped for a coffee and a scone.  Unfortunately, it was a cheese scone and I ordered it with butter AND JAM.  Apparently, you don’t have jam on a cheese scone.  Coffee was the best I’ve had on the island with the exception of Jackie’s of course.  It was just after I started it, I discovered that I didn’t have my phone.  Oh dear, did I drop it on the walk or did I leave it in the car?  Only one way to find out.  I had to curtail my coffee and go find out.  It was in the car.  Thank you, the birthday fairies who look after lost phones.

Drove back up the road and parked ourselves by the slip to watch the waves and listen to the birds.  Went looking for photos and found that there were even more wee men parked around the boathouse.  I don’t know who is planting them there, but whoever they are, they have a great supply of araldite to weld them to the stone.

Drove Scamp back to the house and dumped the day’s photos on the Mac before venturing out for the last sortie of the week, up again to Loch Gangaig.  On the way there I caught sight of a couple of walkers up on a ridge heading for the Quiraing.  I was cold a couple of thousand feet below them and with the comfort of the car beside me, I’d imagine they were much colder and less comfortable where they were.  Got a few photos of the loch and one or two of the wee lochan I’d visited yesterday.  After that, there was nothing for it but to head back to Burnside for a dram and a plate of Mince ’n’ Tatties.  Superb.  Thank you Jackie.

Tomorrow, we drive south.

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Drive to the end of the road and turn right – 7 April 2017

Looked out the window this morning and saw a bird that looked like a thrush, but with a white stripe above its eye and a rusty brown patch under its wing.  Google thinks it’s a Redwing.  I think it’s right.

Today we drove through Portree, although we did stop to wander round the shops in the town to see if there was anything new.  There wasn’t.  Dropped in at the Skye Batiks shop, but there weren’t any shirts to tease £35 out of my wallet, so we got back in the car and Scamp suggested Dunvegan as a destination and I agreed as long as we could take the scenic route through Sligachan.  Pronounced SLIG achan, not Slig A chan as some folk think.  The emphasis is on the first syllable.

Agreed on the destination and the pronunciation, we set off in search of the sun.  We sort of found it, there was a bit of rain to spoil  the party, but we shrugged it off. When we got to Dunvegan, Scamp wasn’t bothered whether we stopped or not.  Sometimes it’s travelling hopefully that counts more than what you do when you arrive.  What we did do was go on a new road.  One of the rules we set ourselves these days when we go to Skye.  We must travel on a new road.  Today’s was a short road down the hundred yards to Dunvegan slip.  Not too scenic when we arrived, but task accomplished.

From Dunvegan we drove to Glendale which used to have a cafe with spectacular seafood.  Last time we were there it was closed and in a sorry state.  This time it was open and offering a limited menu (no seafood in sight) but decent soup according to scamp and a very tasty local beef sandwich for me.  Followed by real coffee and tea and a slice of lemon drizzle cake for Scamp and a slice of carrot cake for me.  Looks like a fairly decent return from the doldrums for the cafe.  Busy too.  We gave up our seats at a five piece table to a group of Indian folk and settled in a two seater table that had just been vacated.  Made sense to both parties.

Sat in the car and sketched the Glendale Free Church building (closed for three weeks because of undisclosed structural problems).  It’s funny, but when I photograph a building and post it, I immediately see what’s wrong with the sketch.  That’s what happened here.  It’s all a learning curve.  Just as we were leaving a family of 12 arrived at the cafe and they didn’t come out again, so I presume they were seated.  Good to see it’s still attracting business.

Drove home the boring way through Edinbane and on through Portree.  Dropped Scamp off at the house after meeting Wee Jaki then took my cameras out to Loch Gangaig, just north of Digg.  Got a few photos from the tripod of the outfall from the loch and then drove a few hundreds yards down to the next wee lochan to get some more photos of a rock fall.

After that it was home to dinner which was boiled ham, potatoes and cabbage.  Scamp substituted egg for ham!  Quite lovely.

Tomorrow?  Well, we’ve gone left and right.  Straight ahead takes us to Angus’s house, so that won’t do.  TBH, I don’t know where we will end up.

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Ten hours in a … car – 5 April 2017

Driving to Skye always makes me think of the John Mayall track, Vacation.  Not quite ten hours, but more than seven hours pounding the asphalt, travelling north-west.  Average speed, just over 42mph, but that’s because we are driving on ‘A’ roads for the most part.  In the seven hours we travelled, we could have flown to Italy, Malta or Cyprus, but we drove to Skye.  Weather – worse, scenery- no contest!!

Arrived just after 5pm after starting on time at 10am.  Just missed seeing Harry Styles for One Direction getting out of a helicopter at the Old Man of Storr.  Such a pity, even if I don’t know who Harry Styles or One Direction is!

Went for a walk to Staffin shore to relieve the aches in my legs and succeeded in doing just that.  Got some photos from the shore to bolster the pics from Loch Mealt that I took earlier.  Wish I’d brought my full size Manfrotto tripod, but the mini version worked well.

Chicken Curry for dinner tonight with a strong whisky and  a beer to finish with.

Hoping for a lazy start tomorrow and not too much driving.

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Dunfermline – 1 March 2017

Scamp suggested that we get up and go for a walk in the park in Dunfermline.  Sounded like a plan except I fell asleep after she got up.  Still, we did manage to get out by just after 11am which isn’t bad going, considering that I wasn’t in bed until way past midnight.

It was a beautiful run over the Kincardine bridge to Fife and on to Dunfermline.  Got parked quite easily, and for free!  Walked through the park and stayed a while in the hothouse in the park.  The heat, humidity, plants and colours reminded us of Trinidad.  Unfortunately, when we went outside it reminded us of Scotland, a Scotland that was just above freezing.  No mosquitos though, so that was a bonus!

Walked up the dreary main street with shops either closed down or advertising their closing down sale – everything must go, including fixtures and fittings.  Not a good sign.  However, the sun was still shining and there were loads of people about.

Lunch was in a Wetherspoons and was cheap and cheerful.  Not exactly cordon bleu, but neither was the price.  Wandered round Waterstones after that and was tempted by a copy of an Anne Blockley book, but at £19 it’s a hefty price for something I would read once and then cast aside perhaps.  It’s £13 on Amazon and that’s a bit more reasonable.  I’ll try to get it in the library first and get a chance for a good look through it before deciding.

Run home wasn’t quite as picturesque as the earlier journey, but was still showing signs that winter is perhaps on the back foot now, despite it only being a week since there was snow on the ground.

Gave the Megane a treat when we got home and took it for a run through the car wash.  I’m sure it drives better after that!  MOT tomorrow.

Jamie G was absent from salsa tonight, leaving Cameron to struggle through with the level 2s.  Worse still, it was Colin who took the advanced class.  Who knew that Slow – Slow – Quick – Quick was salsa timing?  Nobody tonight, that’s for sure.  Next he’ll have us waltzing round the rueda.  So that’s what I drove for 45 minutes through awful traffic for?  If it happens again, I’m going home.

Hope you like the knitted sign Hazy.  Saw it in a craft shop in Dunfermline today.