Leaping Day – 29 February 2020

It’s that day that only exists every four years.

To celebrate Leap Day, we went in to Stirling, in fact we went over the Tak-Ma-Doon road to Stirling. For the most part if was a jolly little run in the country, however halfway to Stirling, just as we were crossing the main road we came upon a bit of flooding. It wasn’t a problem for the Red Juke with its high clearance, but I was a bit worried incase there were any nasty little potholes lurking under that seemingly innocent water surface, but there weren’t, at least we didn’t sink into any, but it did make me think about all these poor folk down south who have been flooded out of their houses.

The next part of the journey was uphill again with no place for a lurking flood then it was down-dale and all the water would be rushing ahead of us with no time to block our path. After the downhill stretch we were on to the straight and level road where I could stop and get a few photos, one of which made PoD. It’s a wee farm under a glowering sky that promised snow. Luckily the snow had the good sense to wait for an hour or two before coming pelting down.

Stirling was busy, so busy that we couldn’t get in to Nero, so we went to a wee independent coffee shop where the coffee was poor, but the food was really good. Much better than either Costa or Nero’s usual tasteless stuff. Must go back again the next time we’re in Stirling. There being nothing else we wanted other than a wee run in the country and a bite to eat, we came back home via Waitrose where Scamp chose a basket rather than a trolley and that prompted us to buy what we needed, rather than the whole shop.  We had sleet all the way home and later in the evening the snow did make a brief appearance, but it didn’t last and it didn’t lie.  It’s getting a bit windy now as Storm Jorge slides across the country.  Allegedly we won’t get the worst of it.  There is heavy snow forecast for north of us and strong winds south of us, but as I’m writing this the bins are taking a battering from the wind.

Dinner tonight was a frugal but really tasty omelette. Peppers, onions, mushrooms and cooked ham sorted mine. Scamp’s was the same minus the cooked ham. We had considered getting a carry-out, but settled for a cooked meal because we couldn’t be bothered going out for Chinese or Indian and didn’t want to wait until 10pm to have a tepid meal delivered. A glass of wine washed the omelettes down nicely, and you can’t drink wine with a Chinese or an Indian take-away, at least we can’t.

The sketching topic was “Wedding”. Presumably it was to celebrate the fact that on Leap Day, the lady can ask the gentleman to marry them. SoD was Scamp’s suggestion. It was the bridesmaid’s basket that Hazy carried at Jackie’s wedding a few years ago … quite a few years ago! My mum crocheted the basket and formed it using sugar to stiffen it. She also dressed it with with artificial flowers. The flowers have faded a bit, but the memories are still there. That’s the last one done for this year. I may continue sketching, but if my past record is repeated, the work will peter out gradually, there being no real incentive to get things done and on time. I’ll miss it, but I can hold out until May when it returns again.

No plans for tomorrow except for dancing hopefully in the late afternoon. Real dancing. Salsa!

A relaxing day – 7 December 2019

After yesterday’s energetic day and late night, today was a day of recovery.

The daylight just sidled in past the curtains this morning. I took longer than usual to drag myself from dreamland. Finally emerged from the shower just about 10.30. Scamp, of course had been up and dressed and sitting with her cup of coffee by the time I appeared downstairs. A drop too much whisky last night was the problem.

Finally got ourselves going just after midday and drove through torrential rain to Stirling. I’d woken with a stuffed up nose and with cotton wool or something like it in my head. One good cure for it, I’ve found, is a good hot curry. That’s what we were going to Stirling for. One of the chefs must have looked out of the kitchen and said, “He needs a good hot curry” and that’s what I had. My usual curry in the Indian Cottage is a Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna with a little bit of chopped up raw green chilli on top. Today the chefs decided I needed half a green chilli. Dutifully I ate it. It was hot and delicious. Scamp had her usual Vegetable Dhansak which she said was “Spicy”. I tried some of hers and couldn’t taste anything through the fire in my mouth from my green chillies. Just what the doctor ordered.

Went back home via Waitrose and drove through another deluge. On one occasion the wash from a car in the outside lane completely swamped our windscreen wipers. Lots of standing water.

The day had stared off dull and became gradually worse as the sun gave up the struggle of forcing some light through the clouds. Absolutely no chance of any photos outside today, so it’s flooers again. Just messing about with the new camera and some old lenses. PoD was one of the best shots.

Scamp’s been in touch with a ballroom teacher in Cumbersheugh and we may have found a solution of sorts to two problems. The classes are on a Monday evening which would conflict with Jamie G’s Salsa class, but if he continues to avoid his teaching duties, we may be losing that anyway. Also, we are now agreed that Michael is history, so another ballroom teacher will be a fresh start.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for some scattered showers and some broken cloud. We’ve had enough of the rain now thank you.

Out to Lunch – 19 October 2019

We’d half intended taking the train to Embra today, but that was before the rains came.

Judging by the weather forecast yesterday, the east was going to be battered with rain, so Embra was off the list for today. With that said, we couldn’t decide where to go for lunch. Sometimes that’s what it comes down to now. Not so much where will we go today, more where will we go to lunch today. Italian or Indian that was the first choice. Scamp suggested Vecchia Bologna in Bridge of Allan, but sometimes it’s booked solid at weekends, so then what about a curry. Either Hamilton or Stirling. It’s a while since we’ve been to Stirling for a curry, so that was it settled. I wanted to get a case or some sort of protection for the new phone and there was a good stall in the Thistle Centre where I could get one. If we’d gone to Hamilton I’d have managed to get some material there for my new waistcoat project. So, either destination suited me.

Drove to Stirling on a bright morning. Curry was fine. We both have our favourites in this restaurant and that was what we had. Scamp – Veg pakora and Vegetable Dhansak. Me – Chicken pakora and Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna. Both deemed excellent.

Went looking for the stall that used to be in the Thistle Centre, but it seemed to have disappeared, then I noticed that it was now a shop in the centre. They did have the cover for the phone, but there were no prices visible. When I asked the bloke how much they were, he seemed to pluck the price from midair. £10 he said. They looked exactly the same as ones I’d seen in Amazon for £5 before I left. I suppose the lease for a shop is much more expensive than for a market stall, but I didn’t want to contribute a fiver to that fund. Said thanks, but no thanks and left empty handed.

Scamp was a bit more successful in getting a bargain from the beleaguered Bonmarché which has just gone into administration. The second of her shops to fall by the wayside this week, Watt Bros having failed on Friday.

Back home I ordered some new toys for the new phone including a cheaper case than the bloke was selling in Stirling. After that I went for a walk in St Mo’s and got today’s PoD of a Jenny Long Legs in the late afternoon sun. Today’s topic for Inktober was “A Coffee Grinder”.  JIC bought me this Krups Coffee grinder a few years ago and it has give absolutely amazing service. The grinder burrs are probably needing replaced now but it works tirelessly to reduce Cuban, Sumatran and Colombian beans to a useful and consistent grind.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing at the new venue of Revolution. Other than that, no plans.

Embra? Nope – 12 October 2019

We should have been going to Embra on the train today, but it just didn’t happen.

Instead we lounged about in the morning and for some of the afternoon, finally getting our act together and deciding that east or west were best today, because north and south were rain clouds waiting to dump their damp load on us if we ventured near them.

We decided to head in the general direction of Callander, home to the blue rinse brigade and Sunday drivers. However, Callander is North east and the key word there is North. The closer we got, the heavier the rain became and we eventually resigned ourselves to going to the Smiddy for lunch instead. Ahead of us lay the restaurant, but between it and us was a “Sunday Driver”. She was doing 40mph on a busy 60mph road. Too much traffic travelling in the opposite direction to pass her. “Never mind, she’ll be going to Callander”, I thought. No, she was going to The Smiddy. It’s a quite narrow road in to the restaurant, but wide enough for two cars to pass easily. Not so easy when Ms “Sunday Driver” wants to drive down the middle of the road, then stop because someone is coming the opposite way. Luckily she stopped near a cut off to a field and the poor bloke managed to find his way round her. People of that age shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car. They should have to pass another driving test where there’s not someone walking in front of them waving a red flag. Those were my printable suggestions. The others were more extreme.

Grabbed a few photos before we went in, because the lighting was interesting. I made a pano of a group of five shots, but because I was shooting into the light and there was light rain in the wind, the resulting image looked like it had been taken in a snow storm! Rejected. The best photo and PoD went to a touristy shot of Highland Cattle sheltering under a tree. Very pastoral and for once not faked … not faked much!

Inside we got a seat at a bench table, the last seat in the restaurant. Scamp had Mac ’n’ Cheese and I had the Fishcakes, two of them. Thin as pancakes but fairly tasty. Some chopped up beetroot, some leaves and a large dollop of fairly crunchy and evidently home made coleslaw. I enjoyed it, but would I pay nearly a tenner for it? Probably not again. Prices in the shop were even more inflated. Some of the stuff it good and it’s not everywhere you can buy Hanger Steak, or Flat Iron Steak, but I hate being ripped off. As you’ll have guessed, we didn’t buy anything.

Drove around the countryside on the way back and enjoyed the scenery, then it was on to the motorway and back to boring, but dry Cumbersheugh.

Today’s topic was “A Fruity Cocktail.” My choice was a Margarita.
This Margarita is memorable for being mixed in Malta and for its ability to steal my legs when I went to leave the table!

No plans for tomorrow. There may or may not be a GP tomorrow as it appears that the race might be postponed because of Typhoon Hagibis which hopefully will miss Suzuka.

Two went to Stirling – 3 October 2019

Today we went to Stirling for the messages

It was cold in the morning

We drove to Stirling.

I saw a feather

We saw two men on a crane.

We got the messages.

We came home.

We brought the messages in.

I did a drawing, this is it:

It rained at night.

Some days are full of exciting things, some days are like today. That’s life.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to meet the boys for coffee. We’ll see how many turn up.

A museum, a castle and a statue – 27 September 2019

A day out and about in the rain.

Despite the rain this morning, Clive and I drove over to Coatbridge to go to Summerlee. Summerlee has changed its name at least three times since it opened, but basically it’s an industrial museum. Lots of interesting exhibits of machinery and historical items, all with an industrial connection to Lanarkshire. Some were made here and some were used here. It brought back a lot of memories to me and also to Clive, I’m sure. Back out into the rain after an hour or so and drove home.

Lunch, then out again. This time we were going up the Tak Ma Doon road, over the top and on to Stirling, taking in the scenery as we went. Drove up to Stirling Castle and had a short walk down into the upper part of the town. We were just too late to have a decent look inside the castle grounds, and to walk through the grounds of the Church of the Holy Rude.

Back in the Juke and on to David Stirling’s monument between Dunblane and Doune. I must say, this is my favourite panorama anywhere in the local area. The light on the hills, the animation of the statue with his coat apparently blowing in the wind and reason for it being there make it worth visiting. David Stirling was the man who started the SAS. Drove back home along the M9 and M80 with far less than the expected miles of jams to contend with which was a great bonus.

Tonight we went out to dinner at Milano. We all had pizza. Scamp had a Vegetarian Pizza while Clive and I had Quattro Stagioni Calzone. I meant to photograph the calzones. It’s the first time I’ve seen a pizza dough sliced into four pockets and each pocket filled with a different filling. Really excellent. Scamp discovered that we were sitting next to three girls she used to know and one of them knew a woman I worked with in Cumby High! What are the chances of that?

Drinks all round when we got home to celebrate an excellent week. Really enjoyed Clive’s company and sense of humour. He brightened up our week, hope we did the same for his.

On a sad note, we discovered today that Dorothy died last night. The funeral is on the 8th of October.

PoD for today is a pano made up from six portrait frames. Taken from Stirling Castle.

Tomorrow we are aiming to get up at 6am for an early breakfast before we drive Clive to the airport.

Another day at Monklands – 26 September 2019

Not for me this time, but for Clive.

Woke to a text from Clive’s daughter telling me Clive’s leg had been giving him some concern during the night and also giving her some concern now. After a bit of discussion with Scamp we decide we’d try the Kenilworth surgery first, but we really needed to take him to A&E. After a fifty second wait while a recording of one of the doctors played, explaining how a doctor’s surgery operated (I know the difference between condensation and condescension) I finally got through to a person who said they didn’t have a treatment room (yes, they do) or a nurse (yes they do) her recommendation was to take him to A&E. What she meant was they have nurses who start at 9am, this was about 8.15am and it’s those nurses who open the treatment room.

We got him ready and drove to Monklands. I dropped him and Scamp at A&E and went to park the car. By the time I’d walked back, he was in seeing the doctor. Waited about 20 minutes and then went to ask if we could see him on the pretence of giving him a bottle of water. It worked and I walked through to the patient’s area where I found him sitting looking a bit fed up. Talked to him about what had happened and found that the doc had said he was fairly certain it wasn’t DVT which was what we’d all feared and was just the result of a bump he’d had last week. Then the consultant and the doc returned. I handed Clive the water bottle and made a hasty retreat. Fifteen minutes later he was out. Just over an hour all in. Not a bad result.

It’s not until you see who comes in to these places that you realise the problems the doctors and nurses have to deal with. In the time we were there, there was a very poorly looking man whose daughter was telling someone on the phone he’d had “another stroke”, a young guy who said he’d hurt his back at work and a little boy who had a stone lodged in his ear … and Clive who was worried he had a blood clot, but hadn’t, thankfully. Drove us all home for toast and a cup of coffee.

We’d planned to drive to Perth today. I know I usually call it Perf, but I’m giving it the Sunday name today, Perth. That’s just what we did. Weather was rain for a while and sun for a long while on the drive up the A9. Lovely scenery. Saw a skein of geese heading sort of north. Clive suggested they may be Canada geese heading for new pastures. He’s probably right.

Walked down the Main Street in Perth to the observation ledge over the Tay. River was heavy and it looked as if someone had put some kayak gates in the river under the road bridge. Didn’t see anyone in canoes. Got coffee beans and then went for a walk through the park before coming home via Dobbies in Stirling where Scamp got a chrysanthemum pot plant. Then it was back home.

Clive and I pored over an old map overlay before dinner. He and Scamp sat and watched a recording of one of the Proms broadcasts from Albert Hall later while I caught up with yesterday’s blog.

A sort of vague response from the ‘Flickr Hero’ about how to get Inktober 2019 back on track, but basically it’s now worth the bother. They have their money and they’re not interested in the nuisance the cause. Wasters!

PoD is a 3 frame pano of a crane in Perth.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Summerlee. Nothing else planned.

Kelpied – 24 September 2019

Today we were all Kelpied!

Today dawned dry but a bit dreary. However, it soon brightened up and we thought we’d risk a run to the Kelpies. It all went well until we were almost at the M9 then the car seemed to be misfiring, which is strange because it had been running so well since its last service. I hadn’t bought petrol from anywhere other than my usual two petrol stations and I hadn’t run the level down until the red light came on. So that should rule out the possibility of a little bit of dirt getting in to the carburettor or the jets, whatever it is the Juke has. Made the decision to detour via the Nissan garage in Stirling, where the service manager came to see what the problem was. He gave it a fair run through the gears, fierce acceleration and gentle driving, but could not replicate the problem. There was little more the poor man could do, but he took it in to the service bay, put it on the computer and pronounced it clean. No problems listed. Finally he suggested we drive off and if the problem reared its head again, we should book it in for a full day check. Clive and I were puzzled. We couldn’t agree on a possible cause and he knows a lot more about cars than me. It ran perfectly for the rest of the day.

Got to the Kelpies and wandered round them just taking them in. Glad to see that Clive was equally entranced with these beautiful equine sculptures. We both took lots of photos of them from different angles and in different lighting conditions. Scamp was also taking photos, but I think we were the subjects. People are more important than places to her and that’s probably her greatest photographic strength. She captures people very much better than me.

From Grangemouth, we said goodbye to the Kelpies and headed round the outskirts of Falkirk to The Falkirk Wheel. The giant boat lift was one of the things that Clive had wanted to see and we arrived just as it was doing a lift, so he got to see it in action right away. I took the car away to park it and met them in the shadow of the great wheel where we discussed the mechanics of this modern wonder. We waited for another boat to be lifted and after a swift look in the visitor centre, I found the one ticket machine that was working and paid for our parking. For a visitor centre which was meant to show this wonder of engineering design, there were a host of machines with OUT OF ORDER signs on them. Almost nothing of any note was working. Poor show Falkirk. Drove home and arrived just as the rain was starting.

PoD was a view of the Kelpies reflected in the turning pool of the canal.

Tomorrow we may go to Glasgow, but it depends on the weather.

A sign of things to come perhaps – 3 September 2019

Today the Red Juke was going in for service and I had a courtesy car booked and it was a surprise!

Drove to Stirling in the morning and was passing the ‘New Shops’ just around 9.30am. The new M&S food store was opening at 10am and the crowds, half an hour before it opened were a very, very long snaking queue along the shop frontage, along part of the car park and down the side of the building. At a guess, I’d say between 500 and 700 people were standing in the rain hoping for one of the Golden Tickets that would give them up to £200 worth of shopping vouchers and a bad dose of the flu in to the bargain. I phoned Scamp to warn her that she was too late already. She just laughed

I had to wait half an hour for the courtesy car to be delivered, but when it arrived it was a ’19 plate Micra. Then the service manager dropped the bombshell. It was also an Automatic. I’ve only rarely been in an automatic car and certainly never driven one. How was I going to get this home? Luckily the lady was very positive about it and explained quietly how it worked and drove me round the block. She then offered to sit with me to allow me to get used to driving it round the block. Oh dear I must have looked terrified, but I took her up on her offer anyway. Then it was time for me to ‘go solo’. Despite knowing that there was no gearstick, I still tried to change up and down with the drive selector for the first few roundabouts, then concentrated a bit more and found it was quite a natural way to drive. When I got it home, I took Scamp out for a drive, but she refused to have a go. It’s amazing how quickly you adapt to a completely new driving style. By the time I was taking it back, it was as natural as any other car I’ve driven.

When I got to the garage the same lady came to deal with me and all I said was “Well, that was a lovely car.” I didn’t add “I want one.”, but she knew that was in my head. However, outside was a shiny clean Red Juke that will need two new front tyres this year, so I put the thoughts of an Automatic Micra to the back of my mind for now, paid for my day’s insurance and left with a smile on my face. Western Nissan aren’t so bad after all.

The drive back home took almost twice as long as going, because everyone in Central Scotland seemed to want to go the same way. I was hungry and was looking forward to Scamp’s Prawn Stir Fry for dinner, otherwise I’d have taken it for a run away from the motorway bizz to test out the updated sat nav card they’d plugged in as part of the service. Maybe we’ll get a chance to try it out tomorrow.

PoD was a shot of the last of Scamp’s sweet peas standing up to the incessant rain today. We were promised some sun. We got rain instead.

No dancing tomorrow because Scamp has an appointment with the doc to check out the insect bites she’s got, and no other plans. No dancing at night either because Jamie the Salsa teacher won’t be there. Even worse, he won’t be there next week either.

Stirling today – 6 July 2019

Settled on Stirling for today’s visit.

Managed to convince myself that the Merrel Moab trainers were worth the money. Even in Sports Direct they were still expensive, but as Scamp says, you sometimes have to pay the money for quality. Vibram soles and Goretex uppers should see me sure footed for the summer.

Got some photos of folk mirrored in the ceiling of the Thistle Centre and with a bit of jiggery pokery, that’s what became the PoD. Back home the parking was ridiculous. Cars and vans everywhere. Finally got a space away up the top of the road, hoping to get a place nearer hand later, but that wasn’t to be. Too many cars. I blame all these two car families.

Be brought back a Gypsophila plant from Waitrose in Stirling. You quite often see annual gypsophila, but my mum had an enormous gypsophila in her front garden and it was an annual plant, growing bigger and flowering better every year.  Lots of tiny little white flowers.  I’m glad we’ve got one too now. Hope it grows as well as her’s did.

Watched a young crow trying to get a drink from the bird bath and it seemed to having a terrible time getting to it, so Scamp decided it was time to rearrange the plants so that the birds could get easier access to the water. I think it works now, but we’ll have to interview the birds to see if it’s a real improvement.

I’m sitting wearing my new Moabs tonight as I’m writing this, wondering if they are comfortable or not. It’s not always easy and it may take a day or two wearing them in the house to be completely sure.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing again at the Record Factory. Just a normal Sunday Social this time.