15 Dec

Coffee Swap-Shop – 1 December 2017

Met Val and Fred for coffee today. We really need to change our coffee day from Friday to another weekday. Costa was mobbed again and it was only by luck that Val and I managed to grab a table. Fred was later to arrive today after having to detour to the village to book his car in to have an exhaust box replaced. Swapped my new Yusuf album for a Jools album from Fred, then we critted each other’s sketches. Val has started sketching too, but is not yet prepared to share his graphics work.

It had started out a bright sunny morning, but by the time we were heading back outside, it was dull and dark. Went to Tesco to get the ingredients for tonights dinner which was an experimental Chicken Tikka. Gave Val a run home and forgot that they (the mysterious ‘They’) are still digging up sections of Forest Road. Every time I drive up that road it’s a different two sections that are being excavated or re-laid. Val was telling me that a whole section of the road subsided earlier in the week. Not surprising really with the amount of excavations that are going on. They probably dug a section up and then relaid the road surface the next day without filling in the holes first, what is now called a ‘Workmanship Error’. Workmanship Error was the excuse explanation given for the Queensferry Crossing being closed for repair months after it opened. It used to be called Bad Workmanship, but that does tend to put a negative spin on things. Error sounds more positive, something that could happen to anyone. Grabbed the chance of another sunset PoD tonight after dropping Val off. This time it’s Broadwood Loch, just further along the same pylon line as yesterday.

When I got home it was time to start the prep for the curry. I won’t go into the details here, but suffice to say it was a lengthy procedure and although it was deemed edible but ‘there were issues’, to quote Marcus Wareing the man JIC claims has the personality of a stormtrooper. Not my favouorite person on TV either. Anyway, getting back to the Chicken Tikka. It needed a lot less cream in the sauce, but apart from that it was good. Definitely worth another go.

It looks like it will warm up a bit, or to be more precise, it will thaw a bit in the next few days with positive temperatures. Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. It will probably involve shopping somewhere.

15 Dec

Out To Lunch – 18 November 2017

Neither of us could decide where to go today.

We’d both considered travelling to Embra on the train, but Scotland were hosting the All Blacks at Murrayfield and that meant the trains would be busy. If we’d looked a bit closer we might have noticed that the game didn’t start until after 5pm, so the 10.15am train wouldn’t have been all that busy. As it was, we waited too long and missed the sunshine again. We finally settled on M&S in Dunblane for some shopping and possibly a cup of coffee. On the way there I made the suggestion that we should maybe detour to The Smiddy, a new farm shop / tearoom just outside Doune. Yes, that met with approval. So after buying more than we needed at M&S we went through Doune, giving a nod to David Stirling on the way past. Such a great place for a memorial. With his binoculars in his hand and his coat tails flapping he looks quite the part on the hilltop. Google him if you’ve never heard of him.

Couldn’t remember whether it was right or left leaving Doune – it was left! Five minutes down the road took us to the Smiddy. I was watching the light on the hills as we approached it and was pleased that I managed to grab just a little of the magic before it blew away. The Smiddy is a bit twee and expensive, but the views are good and so is the food, so we weren’t complaining. We were just having a light lunch, intending to have a curry delivered tonight for supper, but both our lunches were substantial enough to stand by themselves, so the curry was postponed until another day.

By the time we left, the light was beginning to fail and evening was approaching fast. Spent the evening working out how to create a playlist on a USB drive to play in the car. It’s remarkably simple to do, just the Mac software makes it a bit of a tedious task. However, it worked and I’ve tested it in the car. Now what I need to do is create a Keyboard Maestro macro to do the heavy lifting for me. That should be a fun job for a wet afternoon. Lots of swearing and talking to myself.

Todays PoD is a heavily edited picture of the light on the hills from The Smiddy.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go dancing in the late afternoon, but the Christmas lights get switched on in Glasgow tomorrow afternoon, so traffic will be hectic and parking places at a premium. Wish me luck.

15 Dec

Brie, Apple & Honey again – 16 November 2017

A cold clear start to the day. Blue sky and sunny, but low temperatures.

I suppose I should have gone out early to get some photos, but I didn’t and by the time we were heading out, the clouds were gathering. We drove to Clachan of Campsie, not to Wheelcraft, but to the gallery tearoom and that’s where I got my second brie, apple and honey sandwiches. If you’ve not tried it, you are really missing out. I’ve tried it on brown bread and on white now and I think brown is the winner. Last time I had it in the gallery the apple was sliced micro thin. This time they were in big chunks. I think big chunks suit the rustic theme here. Sorry, got a bit cheffy there 😉

Got caught by the rain on the way home. We were just in Torrance, so it’s true that “Down came the rain in Torrance” – Gospel Chorus. Then as we were almost home on the motorway, the rain was still falling but the sun was shining from a bright blue sky! It’s Scotland, you expect that sort of thing!

When we arrived home I did go out for an hour or so to get PoD which might look quite good, but that’s only thanks to the adjustment brush and the graduated filters that brought some life to the sky. Still, it was worth it to see the final result.

Drove in to Glasgow tonight to help out at yet another beginners class, this time in Barca.  It was a good laugh and I think we both enjoyed it.  Didn’t enjoy the walk back to the car though.  Too many wideos and jakies hanging around Glasgow at that time of night.  However, it did increase our step-count for the day.

Tomorrow is coffee with Val. The rest of the day will revolve around that.

15 Dec

Messages and Beer – 1 November 2017

Yet another dull, dreich day.

I thought we should really go out somewhere today, even if it was just to get messages. That’s what we did. We drove to Falkirk in the rain, essentially to get some beer. I did get some beer, it wasn’t the beer I’d gone for, but at least we got out. We just drove home after that, again in the rain. It was that sort of day. A day when you felt you had to go out, but when you were out you didn’t want to be there, if that makes sense. Maybe it’s something that just happens to me!

The same thing happened later in the afternoon when I walked over to St Mo’s to see if there were any photos wanting to be taken. Then the sun came out and I started to enjoy the experience. I also started to actively look for photos instead of just clicking the shutter. Making photos rather than just taking them.

Processed the photos when I got back and then it was time for dinner which was fish ‘n’ chips made tonight by Scamp.

Drove to salsa and am at present sitting out writing the blog because there are far too many men and most of the beginners are so thick they can’t count. They also don’t seem to know the difference between Forward and Back. I feel sorry for Jamie because he’s trying his best to explain the moves, but some people don’t seem to listen.

Tomorrow it looks like it will be dry, bright and cold. We may go out tomorrow if we can borrow a coat to wear!

15 Dec

Out to lunch – 26 September 2017

First job today was to clean out the car. Yesterday, the outside. Today the inside.

I used three poly bags and the KFC method again:

  • K = Keep – goes out and comes back in
  • F = File – goes somewhere else
  • C = Chuck – it goes in the bin

Most stuff went into the K or C bags with a few things finding their way back into the house again to be checked over before going through the KFC cycle again sometime later. It didn’t take as long as I anticipated and then it was time for lunch.

Scamp suggested going to the gallery at Clachan of Campsie. I wasn’t so sure, because the last time we went there the place was ruled by a rather superior lady who was definitely doing us a favour by allowing us into her cafe and also allowing us to pay for our meal. I needn’t have worried. The place was under new management and my soup and a sandwich were very, very good. The chicken soup was quite thick, warming and although a bit tasteless to start with, benefitted greatly from a pinch of salt. The sandwich. Hmm. Who in their right mind would combine chunks of Brie with thin slices of apple and a drizzle of honey, yes honey then wrap them in slices of unbuttered brown bread? Absolute genius. In my mind it ranks with Beetroot and Cheese toasties and Cheese and Marmalade pieces (sandwiches to you if you’re english). Such a brilliant flavour combination. I’m going to make it for my lunch some time this week. Scamp doesn’t like honey and as it’s the hook the whole thing hangs on, she doesn’t get any. Scamp had lentil soup, poor soul. She missed the flavour bomb!
The down side of the Gallery was the gallery itself. The paintings were awful. Twee wee landscapes that I’ve grown out of and uninspired, dull landscapes in big frames. That’s not photography, that’s taking bad foties. However, the food was good and the service was with a smile. Oh yes, and we had a cake between us. A Vienna Sponge that tasted great. We will be back DV. Oh, by the way JIC, Wheelcraft is still there and still doing a roaring trade.

Drove up the Crow Road to the big carpark with the panoramic views around East Dunbartonshire. (There is that anomaly again. Dumbarton is the county town of Dunbartonshire. Why is it spelled differently then?) That’s where the landscape shot came from. Ok that’s where the landscape shot originated from before I painted in some sunny patches and darkened the sky , oh and … You get the idea, don’t you. It may be fake, but it’s better in my opinion than the insipid offerings in the Gallery.

Came home and Scamp wanted to make the most of the watery sunshine and almost two dry days, so she went to cut the grass. I took my camera down the Luggie with me to try to get a better shot a scene I’d seen yesterday. The light wasn’t as good as yesterday, but I was better prepared and at least one of the shots turned out like I wanted. The the beer can ‘installation’ is PoD, in case you hadn’t guessed.

Watched part of the Invictus Games tonight and Scott Meenagh was being interviewed after coming second in a race.  He used to go the Cumby High.  He was a bit of a pain until he discovered drama.  When he left school he joined the army and lost both legs when his Landrover hit an IED.   He became quite a celebrity at school and rightly so.  Someone for all the kids to look up to, but a warning to them at the same time.  It was good to see him making a name for himself, and a new life for himself too.

Don’t have any plans yet for tomorrow. It might involve swimming or the gym to keep my excitement in check and Salsa at night.

15 Dec

The Happy Wanderers – 15 September 2017

Today we took JIC and Sim to Devilla forest in Fife to have a walk through the trees.

Devilla is a Forestry Commission site with a fair bit of parking and a few interesting walks through well maintained woodland. At weekends it gets very busy, but on a Friday morning it wasn’t overrun. We started out in sunshine, but as we continued through, the clouds rolled in. Sim and I stopped to take some photos of the pond and later a black darter dragonfly that settled near us. There was also a brilliant green dragonfly that buzzed us, but didn’t want to settle. Then a black dog, not the Black Dog, just a labrador appeared and scared away the green dragonfly. It was as we were turning away we realised that Scamp and JIC were nowhere to be seen. I reckoned that they were ahead of us heading back to the car. Sim was of the mind that they’d taken the wrong turning, after passing the pond you see above, and were walking round the pond again. We headed back to the car, but the wanderers weren’t there. We sat and waited, then Sim phoned JIC and she had been right. They’d turned left rather than right when they passed the pond. Of course they hadn’t just walked the same path again, they’d gone ever further into the forest. Anyway, when they returned, it was time for lunch.

Lunch was in the Walled Garden, just along the road from the carpark. Food was fine and the cakes looked as good as they did the last time, but the coffee was almost as weak as Costa muck.

We drove to Pittencrieff park in Dunfermline for a walk around the flower beds. We went to get a photo opportunity of the ‘Fairy Castle’ that is in reality the City Chambers, but didn’t bother to visit the town itself. Best to view it from a distance.

Drove over the new Queensferry Crossing which was mildly mobbed. Not as bad as I thought it would be, but we were going north to south. South to north was a different story, with traffic attempting to merge from ever available angle.

Later we dropped JIC and Sim at Chris’s house in Caldercruix. The first time I’ve been there since John and I picked up Andy Taylor and took him to school, easily 25 years ago. It’s not improved.

Tomorrow after we drop ‘The Kids’ off, we may go out somewhere, although the weather doesn’t look a patch on today’s.

15 Dec

A sea of green – 28 May 2017

I thought it would be a good idea to go down The Green this morning for a wee walk.  So did a few thousand others, it seemed.

I’d made the fatal mistake of forgetting that yesterday twenty two men had been running around a green field chasing a ball in the rain  Eleven of them got a trophy for doing the running better than the other eleven.  The ones who won the trophy were wearing green and white shirts.  The losers were wearing red.  Today we were driving against a sea of green and white tee shirts.  Luckily.  If we had been going the other way, in the direction the crowd were going, we would still be waiting in that traffic jam.  Also, we started out fairly early and the traffic was light.  Later, when we were coming home the traffic queue was from Parkhead to the slip road from the motorway, in fact they were queueing along the inside lane of the westbound M80, a distance of about 5 miles!  Fanaticism!

However, it didn’t really affect us.  We drove to the People’s Palace and parked there then went for a walk along The Green to the McLennan Arch and back along the riverside to the suspension bridge.  Along the way I spotted on Mr McGivern who was the bane of my life for the last two years as a PT.  He worked two days of the two years he was meant to be with us.  A ghost of a man who screwed the system and probably still does so.  I didn’t speak to him.

We stood on the suspension bridge and watched the people rowing up and down the river.  Young and old, fit and unfit, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunshine, especially after yesterday’s rain.  We headed for home after that, without even our usual tea ’n’ toast or roll ’n’ sausage.

It was on the way home we saw the extent of fandom for Celtic.  So glad we were going the other way.  After lunch and a pretty boring Monaco GP, I drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal to Twechar and back along the railway path.  Saw a Humming Bird Hawk Moth.  The first time I’ve seen one in Scotland.  Photo wasn’t all that good, because I was using the Teazer and it’s not really designed for my kind of macro photography.  Should have taken the Oly 10 as a banker.  Next time, yes, next time.  It was when I was crossing the plantation I saw Bolt.  That’s his name and his photo is at the top of the page.  Cheery wee guy and PoD.

Dinner was roast chicken with cabbage (because it was there) and potatoes.  Lovely warm day and I well exceeded my step count.

Tomorrow, no Gems, but it’s forecast for rain.

15 Dec

No rain today – 14 May 2017

Well, today we were prepared for a total downpour and it didn’t happen, which was nice.

To make the most of this little surprise gift, we went for a drive.  I knew where I was going, but Scamp hadn’t a clue.  We were going to Devilla Forest in Fife.  We’d passed it many, many times on the way to other places like Dunfermline and Burntisland, but never stopped to investigate it.  It wasn’t until our last bus journey to Dunfermline it had lodged in my brain as a possible place for a walk.

It just over half an hour to get there and there was a nice big parking area.  We decided to do the fairly easy (45mins) and short Red Squirrel walk along to and round a little loch.  The path was fairly good underfoot, wide and winding through the pine trees.  Unfortunately, no squirrels of any colour were available for photographs today.  The best wildlife we saw, in fact the only wildlife was a pair of mallards on the little loch.  That said, the trees were alive with the sound of, not music, but birdlife.  Hidden wildlife.  A very enjoyable walk and one we’ll build on this summer we hope.

I had also noticed that the next turning on the road lead to a plant nursery and where there is a plant nursery these days, there’s a tea shop.  So it was with The Walled Garden.  Beautiful panoramic views across Fife from the parking area and that’s what got my PoD award.  The tea shop was fairly decent, par for the course and better than Dobbies.  Scamp got a Potentilla for the toilet bowl planter in the back garden.

When I came home there was enough time to go for a quick walk to loosen up my sore leg before dinner and I grabbed the opportunity to stride out along the Forth & Clyde Canal.  Didn’t get many more photos, but although the clouds were threatening, I stayed dry.

Haven’t seen the weather for tomorrow.  It’ll be a surprise.

15 Dec

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.

15 Dec

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.