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.

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!

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 of calm – 19 January 2019

It’s been a busy week with every day being accounted for. Today we’d have a rest.

A lazy start to the day, re-reading the first of the Rivers of London series and beginning to put together the Peter Grant story from its early beginnings. After that we considered whether to have coffee at home or to go to Stirling as we’d intended and have lunch there. The ‘have lunch there’ option won. We drove to Stirling and walked in to town. Had coffee there and, as there was nothing else we wanted to do there, came back to Waitrose where Scamp started shopping and I went to bring the car round to the Waitrose car park where it would be easier to trolley the many bags into the boot.

In Tesco you have to choose your parking space carefully to be sure you can get back out again and hopefully not collect a few (more) scrapes from the ‘grannies’ who will cheerfully bang into you and then deny any knowledge of it. And by ‘Grannies’ I mean dummies of both sex. In Waitrose it’s totally different. Firstly there are much fewer spaces and people are so much nicer about it. “After you”, “No, after you”. I don’t abide by these rules. “After you.”, “Ok, thanks very much and I’m into the space you were eying up. No use giving me that glare, you were being polite, I was being proactive. If you’re not fast, you’re last. Parked and found Scamp in the shop then after paying we headed back to the car and stuffed the boot with ‘bags for life’.

We stopped on the way home to get some cheap beer (and lots of other things) in Lidl in Kilsyth. Then we were on the final homeward leg. Just before the railway arches I spotted the back end of a white car sticking up out of the trees on the left side of the road. It was almost sitting on top of a black car that’s been parked in the ditch two metres down from the road level for at least six months. There must be some enormous electromagnetic field in that ditch that simply drags cars in. Tomorrow there will be a ‘police aware’ warning on the white car and it will gradually be stripped of any and all removable parts over the next few months.

Basically, that was it for the day. Dinner was Buttered Chicken from the Spice Tailor range and now the kitchen is reeking of fenugreek. PoD is a view of the Wallace monument through the mist, taken from the outside of Waitrose.

Tomorrow, we’ve been spared the problem of excusing ourselves from a ballroom dance night, because it’s been re-scheduled, presumably because Michael has the flu. Don’t know what we’ll do instead.