What’s that water falling from the sky – 18 May 2019

It rained today, almost all day, on and off. That held back the desert for a few days.

Scamp volunteered to drive us through torrential rain to Stirling to go to Dobbies to get an adaptor for the new kitchen tap to allow us to connect the hose. They didn’t have the one I’d intended getting, but we did get an alternative. Scamp got a top in a Country Casuals franchise and I got a baseball cap. Originally it was to keep the sun off my head, but there was no need for it today. Next stop was Bridge of Allan for lunch at Vecchia Bologna. Unfortunately half of Scotland decided they wanted lunch there too, so we went elsewhere. After negotiating some of BoA’s roundabouts we found a parking space on the bridge over the Allan Water and we went to the Allanwater Cafe for fish ’n’ chips. Not your ordinary fish either, but breaded fish which is a ‘special’ fish in the rest of the chip shop world. We’ve passed this wee cafe many times and always intended to go in. Today we did and our fish tea was really very good. We’ll be back, all being well.

Got back to the car and it was dry for a while as we made our way home. Got to Broadwood roundabout and found traffic chaos. Cars everywhere. Folk getting out of cars in the middle of the traffic jam, just mental. There’s only one thing that can cause such madness and it’s football. Sure enough, Clyde were playing Annan in the Scottish 27th division cup final. Eventually we got home by a circuitous route. While the shellshocked Scamp cursed herself for volunteering to drive today and settled her nerves with a ‘white tea’, I went for a walk to St Mo’s as I’d intended getting a few photos in Stirling and the airts, but the rain had put paid to that, so St Mo’s it was. Found lots of interesting stuff, but PoD went to the Snail Race down a tree trunk.

Back home and started today’s sketch which was “A collection of bottles”. All ink bottles of differing colours and designs. It appeared that every one had a different style of cap, but all one colour … black.

Made some cauliflower pakora and some onion bhajis which were deemed good enough to keep until tomorrow.

Tomorrow we may go dancing in Record Factory, but I’ll be driving!

A walk, a beer and a glass of wine – 17 May 2019

Another lazy start to another warm day.

Finally decided around midday that we would go in to Glasgow to get a birthday card and two miniatures of whisky. The reason for the whisky will become clear in a few weeks. Wandered through the Buchanan Galleries and bought two overpriced miniatures in the Whisky Shop. Across the road to Paperchase and bought a set of replacement black waterproof ink pens. Walked back up Buchanan Street and had lunch in Nero. A shared panini and a shared cake. Well, we are pensioners and have to be parsimonious. Scamp needed money from the bank and I was sent to get a plastic tub that would hold a miniature bottle of whisky. With that completed we drove home via Tesco and got the card.

Back home, (are you managing to keep up with this buying spree?) Scamp wrote the card and I checked that the bottle would fit in the tub. It did ( I bet you’re relieved). We walked over to Condorrat in the sunshine to post the card and on the way back we walked through St Mo’s so I could get a PoD which was yet another Large Red Damselfly. Rather than come straight home, Scamp suggested we continue on to the pub and I could have a quick beer and a wine for Scamp. The barman said he didn’t have any Shiraz, but he did have a Nottingham Hill. We both assured him Notting Hill would be fine. It was his first day on the job and here was I asking him for something that could have been in Swahili for all he knew. Mine was easier, just a pint of Stella. We sat in the ‘garden’ area at the back, in full sun, but sheltered from the cool east wind. It’s called a garden, but I think it’s a long time since anything has grown on that piece of land. We sat there for for about an hour sipping our drinks and discussing serious and slightly morbid topics.

Came home and I made Butter Chicken from a Spice Tailor packet served with rice and flatbread fried in a little olive oil. Quite delicious.

Today’s topic for sketching was An Old Machine. I don’t know if you’d call my dad’s hand drill a machine, but I would. Is it old? Well, I remember him getting the drill back in the ‘60s. Is that old enough for you?

Tomorrow we have no plans, but it’s raining tonight and it’s supposed to rain almost all day tomorrow. We may go out and we may not.

Out to lunch – 13 May 2019

Meeting Shona for lunch today.

First, though I took a trip to Bishopbriggs to get myself the shaver adaptor that caused the bother on Friday and also a card reader that would allow me to import the files from my Nikon CP950. The 950 is an ancient digital camera made in 1999 and is one of the best cameras for recording in infrared without adaptation. All you need to do is stick an R72 filter in front of it and shoot away as if it’s not there. An R72 filter is a very, very dark red. It’s so dark it looks totally opaque to the human eye. What it does is restrict almost all the visible light, only allowing through the light in the 720nm area of the spectrum, in other words, infrared. The great thing about infrared is that living green material is rendered as white and skies are black. Fake green ‘leaves’ like camouflage are rendered as black and it was this ability to differentiate fake from real that made it so important during WW2. I just wanted to do fancy stuff to the shots later in Photoshop, but since the CP950 uses Compact Flash memory cards and hardly anybody uses them now, it’s a bit of a problem getting the images into the computer. However, Currys had a card reader with CF capability, so that’s why I was up and out early to get one.

After that and after I’d salivated over the low resolution, but true infrared images, I went to meet Shona. I’d fitted a couple of locks for her in her flat and she was buying me lunch as a ‘Thank You’. We drove up to the new Milano Cafe where she had Spaghetti Carbonara and I had Spaghetti con Polpette ( meatballs). Her Carbonara looked the part, but the sauce in mine was a bit thin. Having said that, there was plenty on the plate and it was a good fun lunch.

Drove Shona home and then went out to get some photos in St Mo’s. Didn’t stay long as I had to exhibit my EDiM photos to Margie, because Gems were in the house today. Saw another red damselfly, a smaller one than yesterday’s, but it was too fast for me and I didn’t manage to capture it. I did get some IR shots with the CP950 which is held together with a heavy duty rubber band, because of a design flaw in the locking mechanism of the battery compartment. It was one of the IR photos that took PoD.

I’d already started on the sketch of the day whose topic was “Your favourite song”. My favourite song was “Raindogs” by Tom Waits and that’s what you see here. A Raindog.

Salsa tonight was energetic and exhausting. The completely new one was “Lotus”, with a reprise of “Lizzy” and “Stormtrooper”. I got the blame for Stormtrooper because the tee shirt I was wearing had a lego stormtrooper on it. Hazy must shoulder part of the blame for that because she’s the one who bought it for me!

Tomorrow looks like an interesting day with temperatures of 22ºc predicted! We may go out somewhere to celebrate.

Stirling – 27 April 2019

Went to Stirling today to get nothing in particular and we were successful.

It was a lovely day when we started out, but we could see that things were a bit more changeable in the Stirling direction. Parked in our usual place and discovered that in May the charges go up by 40%!! That may seem like an outrage, but it still means that we can park for a whole day for £2. You’d be pushed to get an hour’s parking for that in Glasgow. Paid up and walked through a steadily increasing drizzle to the Thistle Centre. Went to Waterstones and picked up a likely looking book. A ‘real’ book with pages and a cover and everything. First ‘real’ book I’ve bought in ages. Scamp found the trousers she’d been looking for in M&S, so we both got something.

Talked for a while to Mhairi who had a stall in the centre this weekend. Had coffee in the usual Nero and came home. Drove through more April showers on the motorway and decided we’d eat from the remainder of yesterday’s dinner. ‘Rats’ for Scamp, Tagine for me. Before that, I just had time for a quick walk over St Mo’s before the rain came on heavy. Got today’s PoD which is a rapidly forming pine cone. It’s only just over a month since they looked like this, a little pineapple. Enjoyed the walk, but there was definitely the hint of rain on the wind, so I curtailed the walk and came home. On the way home I found a bunch of flowering Cowslips. I’d just been reading a year ago’s blog post about finding a bunch of these flowers blooming at the same time of year, despite 2017/2018’s terrible winter. They had a much easier time of it this winter, but still flowered in the same week.

Watched a scary Baku GP qualifying. Two drivers crashing at exactly the same place. Both unhurt, but badly damaged cars.

That was it for today. Nothing exciting and no real cooking either.

Tomorrow we may go dancing at Mango if it’s on.

A day in the kitchen – 26 April 2019

Started about 9.30am and just kept going.

First thing to do was get the Lamb Tagine on the go. After chopping and frying the onions, then adding all the spices and the lamb it all got bunged into a slow cooker with the dates and apricots. Got it up to temperature and took it up to the back bedroom to do its work. That’s the benefit of a slow cooker, it can be working away anywhere with a mains socket.

<Technospeak>
Time for a bit of relaxation playing with some old photographs I’d backed up yesterday to a new USB-C drive. First time I’d used this supposedly revolutionary system. Allegedly capable of 10Mbps compared with the 5Mbps of USB 3. I can’t say I noticed the difference, but the big benefit is the connector to the computer. It’s reversible, unlike the normal male USB connector that only goes one way round. How long has it taken someone to realise how annoying that has been? Anyway, it was great editing those 10 year old D70 photos in new software. So easy to over-process, though.
</Technospeak>

Back in the kitchen it was the pakora. One lot of cauliflower and one lot of onion and potato. Both both lots fried and then stored to cool with some retained for lunch. They tasted fine, with a nice crunchy batter.

Meanwhile Scamp was beating the living daylights out of some cream for a cake that was baking in the oven while an ice-cream maker was churning away in a corner of the living room. Another time-saving machine that can be plugged in anywhere.

By now it was well into the afternoon an I was just about to go out to get some photos when I remembered the bread. It wasn’t bread yet, it was still flour in the cupboard, yeast in another cupboard, butter in the fridge, salt on the work surface and water in the tap. Soon, however they were all in the bowl of the mixer being battered into a bread dough. I kept the dough in the bowl, parked the bowl next to the slow cooker to keep it warm and finally got out for that walk. Halfway through the walk it started to rain. It’d been predicted all morning, but I’d been too busy. Got very few photos, but the PoD was the little pink flowers. Haven’t found out exactly what they are yet, but hopefully someone on Flickr can ID them.

The visitors arrived about 8pm. The pakora had been heating in a too-warm oven for too long, they were frazzled! Luckily Scamp had made some of her “Just Soup” which she served with some bacon on top and it was much, much better than my pakora. The lamb tagine was excellent, even although I say it myself. Scamp’s signature dish of Pears in a Red Wine Sauce served with Yoghurt Ice-cream was even better. Finally the cake was a moist sponge with lemon curd cream. Didn’t like the cream, but the sponge was lovely.

After a long night and an even longer day we dragged ourselves off to bed just after midnight. It was a good night. Not great, just good.

Tomorrow a relaxing day with minimal cooking.

A well filled day – 23 April 2019

Driving to Falkirk, and back, lunch out (for some), coffee (for some), broken website – now repaired. Just your usual Tuesday.

Very warm during the night, but the temperature was dropping all morning and, when we got out of the car in Falkirk, I was glad I had worn my fleece. Dropped my ring off in the jeweller’s to have it repaired after having it cut from my finger back in March. We will be reunited on Thursday, hopefully. Went to Morrison’s while we were there to buy muesli, hand wash and milk. That, with a few other things, came to just over £70. That’s the way the money goes.

When we came home, Scamp just had time to change before she went out for lunch with her pal Mags. I had an hour to rearrange the mess in the art room before I too went out. No lunch for me just coffee and setting the world to rights with Fred and Val.

By the time I got home, Scamp was too and there was just enough of the day left to wander over to St Mo’s to get some photos. PoD went to a branch with what looks like Wild Cherry blossom. The competitor for the PoD was this shot of a new memorial seat in St Mo’s park. The name on it is Deone, who I think is Deone MacRae who died of cancer in 2013 aged 15. The family put a memorial bench beside Broadwood Loch, but some people didn’t like it and burned it to ashes. You really wonder about the mentality of some people. The new butterfly seat is cut and welded from 6mm steel. I don’t think that will be quite so easy to burn.

After dinner which was a joint effort at a paella, I noticed all the email from the new server was offline, and so was my site. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it to clear itself. I tried a website checker and it showed the site as open. Asked Hazy to check and she got access. Eventually used the chat facility on the new server’s webpage and after some checking on their side I was told that my IP address had been blocked after too many attempts to log in to an email address using different passwords. Actually it was me who was attempting to log in and get Mac Mail to accept the new password. Good to know they are on the ball, but will have to be more careful in future when changing passwords.

That was my busy day. Tomorrow will be equally busy, I’m sure. Hoping to go dancing in the afternoon and maybe in the evening too. The weather fairies say it’s going to get colder and wetter. Oh what fun. Summer’s over for another year perhaps.

Dancing without Numpties – 17 April 2019

Drove in to Glasgow to go dancing. Only real dancers there today.

I think there must have been a sign outside Blackfriars that read “No Numpties”. There were only five of us dancers there and all of us wanted to dance, and learn. Nobody giggled and shouted out “Look at me, I’m stupid”. Nobody stopped in the middle of the floor to have an argument. All of us were dancing, getting things wrong occasionally, but then working to put things right. What a difference it made. It made the lessons a pleasure, not a chore and we got further than we did last week when the Numpties where there. Unfortunately, somebody will take that useful sign down next week and it will be back to normal again.

In the afternoon when we got back, I ordered some coffee from the Bean Shop over the phone so I could get some Cuban Tarquino which you can only order over the phone because the website isn’t allowed to list if for a ridiculous reason that’s something to do with PayPal. After that, I went for a drive, mainly to get petrol to fill the Juke’s thimble sized tank, but also to grab a PoD which turned out to be a landscape shot across St Mo’s pond. It looked lovely and still on a calm day.

Drove through terrible traffic again to get to Salsa and quite enjoyed both classes, but I get the feeling we’re being taken for granted. Maybe I’m wrong, but it feels like we aren’t needed and, lets face it, we don’t learn much on a Wednesday night. I think we should take the occasional night off. We don’t pay for the classes, but we pay for the petrol to drive there and we pay for parking and get no thanks for it from anyone at AdS. It would be good for Jamie G to say thanks, just once in a while.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow on the bus and try to have a look at the Leonardo exhibition.

Tesco, Coots and Curry – 13 April 2019

Some days are filled with surprises and action. Today wasn’t one of those.

Today we went to Tesco to get the makings of tonight’s dinner. I fancied making another slow cooker curry, a vegetarian one for a change. That was one of the highlights of the day.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk over St Mo’s.  In the sunshine it was lovely and warm, but the wind was decidedly cold, coming from the Baltic the weather fairies say and I believe them. Today’s PoD was another shot of a coot sitting on its nest of twigs on the floating pontoon of horsetails. I walked on down to the BP garage to get some sparkling water to give a lift to the pakora I was planning on making for a starter for the dinner. Found a wee boy, maybe about 12yrs being questioned by a couple of women. He looked completely out of it and to start with I thought he’d been in a fight or had been climbing trees and had fallen, but it turned out he’d had a few sherbets and was just the far side of sober, or so they suspected. He did look a funny colour and they were looking after him and giving him sips of water while his mum was contacted. Me? I’d have been a bit more circumspect about getting involved. These days it’s a minefield being a good Samaritan.

In the evening I sorted out the last of the email realignment and I think I now have a fully functioning website on a new server. This week I intend to back up the files from the old server before I clear out the server, and probably also back up the files from the new one too – Belts & Braces.
I really can’t thank Hazy enough for the research she’s done for me, not only searching out the best hosting company to go with, but also finding answers and help pages to keep me on the right lines, and then checking that her dad had pressed the right buttons in the right order and not broken anything. Couldn’t have done it without you love. You are a real gem.

The curry was a hit and a miss. Scamp didn’t like it, but I did. Such a pity, but the cauliflower pakora was a great hit with Scamp. I wasn’t so keen on it. Like I say, Hit and a Miss.

That was about it for today. Went to bed early because I hadn’t been sleeping well these last few days, so the blog was posted on Sunday!

Gardening – 5 April 2019

It’s that time of year again when we buy plants that die a few weeks later in a late frost. Next month we buy the plants that will grow.

Hopefully that won’t be the case now that we can put them in the wee poly greenhouse to harden off.

We’ve got a new garden centre in the town. It used to be Dobbies, then Dobbies was taken over by the mighty Tesco and that started a downward trend. They still traded under the Dobbies name, but only the larger outlets flourished, if you excuse the pun. The little centres were just left to rot. That was certainly the case for Cumbersheugh Dobbies. It got so bad that it was better to buy your plants in B&Q or Homebase. Nothing looked as if it was being cared for, neither the plants nor the buildings. Eventually I stopped going and by the look of the car park, so did most people. Now it’s been taken off Tesco’s hands by Calders, who started up in Kirkintilloch and have made a good go of things so far. I visited the new Calders yesterday to get the Rhubarb and the Calabrese. Today we went back to get compost and also picked up a little golden leafed plant who’s name escapes me at the moment. It’s a little bit of winter colour. We were both impressed with the change, and the car park was full, but it’s early days yet.

Did a bit of digging for Scamp’s new regime in the garden. Simple stuff like spreading old compost over some of the beds and getting tubs ready for new arrivals. Some pruning noted as needing done. If we get a few warm, dry days next week we’ll get some more things done.

Scamp fancied a recipe for Chicken Curry that used the slow cooker to do the hard work and I’m all for that. It tasted really good, but we both agreed that there was too much liquid in the sauce, so we’re intending to have another go on Sunday. I like the idea that you stick everything in the slow cooker and leave it to get on with it for four hours.

PoD is a set of camper van planters seen at the aforementioned garden centre.  Very tempting, but nowhere to show them off.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow on the bus.

A free afternoon – 4 April 2019

Scamp was out at a Gems gig this afternoon, so I had time to do as I pleased.

As usual with a free afternoon, I did what I usually do and frittered most of it away. I’d intended doing a bit more painting, but I didn’t. I was going to read a bit more in my most recent book, a true story about a forensic pathologist, but I didn’t. I did sit at the computer for a while, but ended up not doing anything constructive or creative.

Eventually got out and bought a rhubarb plant because the old one looks as if it’s dead. I think we’ve had it for a few years now and it’s been producing some stalks every year, but even after a mild winter it’s not waking up for spring. Bought another one anyway. You can’t have too many rhubarb plants. Got some Calabrese which is Italian or Green sprouting broccoli. Too early to plant it out yet (it was only 4ºc this morning) but it can harden off in the little greenhouse.

Took the cameras for a walk in St Mo’s and got today’s PoD of a coot sitting on its nest in the pond. The coot makes the nest in exactly the same place every year. Literally a creature of habit. I also got a ‘fun’ shot of half a bottle of cola of indeterminate vintage. Called the photo ‘Ginger’, remembering the Robbie Coltrane video of the same name. Watched part 1 of Tutti Frutti last night and that must have been what put it into my head.

Tomorrow I might have an hour free in the morning because Scamp has the dentist. Don’t have plans for the rest of the day, but next week I must take Hazy’s advice and get my new home for my blog sorted out.