Dancing just once today – 24 April 2019

Dancing just once, but we covered a whole lot of stuff. Jive, Waltz, Quickstep and Cha-Cha. All within an hour!

Lazy start to the day trying to get into a new book after the superb Natural Causes. The life story of a forensic pathologist. Utterly fascinating. The new book is a novel and it’s hard to change from a non-fiction book to a fiction book, at least it is for me.

Drove in to Glasgow and watched the speed of the advanced Jive class and wished we could be so slick. I think I’ve grown to like jive because of the music. Like Salsa music, jive is generally happy, lively music. Waltz is slow and steady. Quickstep is faster and quite bouncy, but Jive really has you tapping your feet, much like salsa. Our jive was a bit rough round the edges, but we were keeping our heads above water, so to speak. We may not have been as sharp as the advanced class, but we were keeping in time to the music most of the time and although we forgot a few moves, we were doing quite well. Even the Timestep was reasonably good. Michael took us on to the next step called the Kicksies. I video’d it and I’m glad I did. We’ve just watched it tonight and broken it down into manageable pieces and we’ve got a fair idea how it fits together and how it fits into our routine.

Waltz was a disaster. I just couldn’t put a foot right and for once, neither could Scamp. I think my head was still full of jive. I have to take my Jive head off and replace it with my Waltz head, just like Wurzel Gummidge before I can attempt the Waltz. Then I have to do the same with the Quickstep which was heading to be a disaster too until Michael made two changes to our Running Step. Hands high and Head high. What a difference those two simple things made. I know, all the foregoing is more like Technospeak than anything. I suppose it is just Dance Technospeak. Anyway, we walked out into the cold of Bell Street feeling much better about ourselves.

Quick coffee and then home. Grabbed a few shots of the Duke of Wellington with his robot head on and the makings of today’s PoD which is reflections in 110 Queen Street. The glass office building.

Back home and while I was post-processing the PoD, we got a text from Irene to say that Jamie G would not be taking the intermediate class tonight, Shannon would. That made life a lot easier. We were staying in tonight. I don’t need to be ‘taught’ for an hour how to hold my hands in the air and shout “Oo La La”. I find little use for that phrase in my normal, or dancing life. Sent Dougie a quick warning message on FB, because he is also a fully paid up member of the “Not Shannon” club. To get our dancing fix tonight, we practised a few Kicksies. If we do that for a few days it will Fixie the Kicksie in my head.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get my wedding ring back. Also need to do some shopping and prep for dinner on Friday.

Embra – 20 April 2019

We’d said we’d go to Embra and we did.

Set off early and did our usual walk up from Haymarket station to Nero on Lothian Road then from there through the farmers market where I got a piece of Hogget Leg Steak and Scamp got a chunk of Focaccia. I also grabbed a PoD of the folk sitting in the sun.

From there we walked up to the Grassmarket and Scamp bought a wee bottle of Elderberry liqueur, although the rum liqueur they were selling tasted very nice. They didn’t have wee bottles of it, unfortunately, only big bottles. The place was mobbed. In fact Embra in general was mobbed. It was a beautiful day. Warm sunshine and very little wind which is strange for Embra because it quite often is the Windy City. I was beginning to regret wearing my leather jacket AND a jersey. One had to go, in fact, eventually both had to go.

We couldn’t decide where to go for lunch, so we headed for Princes Street Gardens via M&S where I went to get some fresh fruit while Scamp searched for the trousers she’s been looking for for the last week or so. I got the fruit, but Scamp didn’t find the trousers she wanted. However she did find a sun hat that looked good, so after some swithering about a colour, she opted for the plain white one.

We sat in the gardens for a while eating the fruit and people watching, but decided eventually that it was far too busy in Embra and we should just head for home. Went for the 2pm train and were there in plenty of time. Sat waiting for what seemed a long time when a message came over the tannoy that with apologies, the train was cancelled. There was nothing to do but walk back to the concourse and wait for the next train which was in half an hour. Then Scamp noticed that it too was cancelled. Apparently due to a signalling fault. She suggested we get the 2.15 train which wouldn’t stop at Croy, but we could go straight to Glasgow and get another train back. After all the ticket did say “Valid via any permitted route”, so we could have gone via Inverness if we’d fancied, but we didn’t, we just wanted to get home now. Got the 2.15 which did take us all the way to Glasgow and then got the Stirling train back to Croy. A journey that should have taken us 40mins had taken 2 hours. Strangely, the 2.15 train travelled exactly the same route as the one that was cancelled because of a signalling fault. Did they magically repair the fault for the 2.15 train to pass, but knew that it would be broken again when the 2.30 train was due to leave? Maybe they should just be more honest and say “Due to staff not being available because it was such a nice day”. Anyway, we got home.

Sat in the garden and scoffed a bottle of wine that had been in the fridge since Christmas. It would be getting near it’s sell-by date anyway!

Tomorrow we may go dancing in the Record Factory.

Puerto del Rosario – 22 March 2019

A day in the Toon

Got a bus timetable from reception for a trip into the big city – Puerto del Rosario.

Found the bus stop. I’d looked everywhere for it yesterday on my walk back from the wilderness, but there it was, just outside the Atlantico Centre. We were first on and paid our exorbitant fare of €1.45 each! Not bad for a 30 minute journey!

Wandered round the Las Rotundas shopping centre in the town. A big shopping centre built in three levels. Really quite impressive range of shops. I found a cheap electronics shop which was offering SSDs (not to be confused with STDs) for really low prices. I was tempted, but I walked away. As it happened, the only things we bought were two little €0.99 fold up shopping bags.

Outside we found the famous church with the bar. The bar isn’t actually inside the church, but it is in the grounds. An excellent way to encourage more worshippers.

On the same street there were a load of statues to various dignitaries from the past, along with another one of a goat. I couldn’t work out the significance of the goat statue. Maybe a political statement.

Lunch was further down the street in an outside cafe and was a meal-deal of a Spanish omelette and salad accompanied by a small beer (half pint) for €6.50 each. Coffee was also included in the price, but we were happy to forego that, much against the better judgement of the waitress who seemed disappointed that we were leaving without getting full value for our €6.50.  However, we weren’t totally in the shade for our meal and the sun was becoming quite hot just after midday, so we felt it would be better to be walking, rather than enjoying the extra coffee.

While we were eating we were people watching. One group of men and one group of women, sensibly sitting at tables in the shade of the cafe building. Men with their beer and cigars, women with coffee and cake. Another group at the next table to us seemed to be the Canarian version of Scamp’s ‘Witches’. All the groups were well into the ‘pensioners’ bracket.

After leaving the cafe we walked down the street, finding more statues and sculptures and also a lot of murals. One especially cleverly painted with exaggerated perspective of Time Square. I’ll hopefully put it up on Flickr once I’ve got the blogs up to date. Today’s PoD was the first mural we saw and we both liked it.

On the subject of blogs, I didn’t write this on the laptop while we were away. I tried a different method this year and made notes and sketches in a sketchbook while we were away and am typing this up at home. The book will make a nice record to look back on.

At the bottom of the street we found PdR beach and esplanade. It’s beautifully laid out and much prettier than we’d expected. Certainly worth another look some time DV. We both liked the bench seating under some shade, each bench painted with a different portrait or scene. Brightened up what could have been a dull seating area.

Back at the hotel I had too much meat for dinner and suffered from protein overload. Scamp was fine.

The show was an ABBA tribute by the in-house entertainment team. We weren’t interested and went back to the room to read.

11,437 steps
5.16 miles

Tomorrow we may go for a swim.

Getting the horses cut – 14 March 2019

Today was a tidying up sort of day. A day for sorting out loose ends.

It started off with a visit to the school to pay the deposit for a retiral dinner. Met the lady in question and spent an hour chewing the fat about people we knew in the past and the less savoury ones who were in management in the present. Dropped in at my ex-department, but cautiously didn’t visit ‘my’ room. I prefer to remember it in my mind’s eye. From there I drove in to Glasgow to get the horses cut. It was an old joke when I was at school. The French for ‘hair’ is cheveux and the French for horses is chevaux. When you’re 12 it’s so, so funny to say you’re going to get your ‘Horses’ cut! Not so funny now, unfortunately.

Got a Number Four all over with eyebrows trimmed too and all for £7. A bargain at the price with a political diatribe on the failure of a Conservative government to finalise the Brexit details from the bearded one who was cutting hair (or horses) at the next chair, while my Polish barber was bemoaning the dishonesty of fellow barbers who had left with her ‘neck brush’, meaning she had to share the shop ‘hair brush’. I couldn’t say who had the more forceful opinion.

With a much reduced head of hair (or horses – Enough? Yes, probably) I went for a walk down the town for a coffee in Nero. Wandered through the Argyle Arcade and grabbed a few shots to create a PoD and then back up to the car park to retrieve the Juke for a decent enough price of a fiver.

Back home I had to get stuck in and clear a living space in the back bedroom for Jackie who was coming to stay the night before going back up to Skye tomorrow. After I found the sofa bed under an assortment of books, tablets, clothes and sketch pads, I started to make some pakora for the starter for tonight’s dinner. It’s such a faff to make, but once the prep is done, you can use it for a couple of days.

Visitor arrived and the pakora was deemed good enough for her to want the recipe. I tried to explain that it was a recipe handed down from mother to son or father to daughter, but I know she didn’t believe me after I said I’d send her the link to it from YouTube. Scamp made Chicken & Mushrooms with Rice and then June arrived and a coven was in session, so I cleared up the kitchen, made amoretti coffee coffee for everyone and then settled down with a glass of Grants Sherry Casked to write some emails.

Decided I just had enough time to process the PoD and post the blog before the witching hour. Hopefully I’ll make it.

Tomorrow we may go to lunch somewhere because Saturday looks snowy!

Watching the scenery go by – 20 February 2019

Scamp offered to drive into Glasgow and I readily accepted.

We drove in to Glasgow today with Scamp at the wheel in her own car. The automatic board told us there were 100 spaces in the Concert Hall carpark, however two minutes later when we tried to enter the carpark, the machine at the gate said “CARPARK FULL”. I realise that the automatic sign may not be entirely accurate, but mistaking 100 cars for spaces means it should have gone to Specsavers. We were not amused. However, we soon found a space that Scamp’s wee car could squeeze into. Luckily it is quite small, because so was that space. It’s nice being a passenger, occasionally.

Walked down to Blackfriars under lightening skies and grabbed today’s PoD in Royal Exchange Square. It was lunch time and all the ravenous office workers were piling through the arches looking for food. That one bloke seemed singleminded in his pursuit of his sandwiches.

Jive was good. We went over the Seven Spins, Ladles, The StepOver and finished with the Tangles. I thought it was Tango, but it was indeed Tangles. That took up most of the hour, then we did a quick run through of the beginning of the Rumba and the Cha-Cha, before we did a quick practise of the Quickstep. Busy, busy lesson today, but worthwhile.

Coffee in Nero to recap on what we’d learned then home again. I had to keep my mouth shut when I thought that Scamp had taken the wrong turning, it’s just that her route on to the motorway is different from mine. Not faster, not slower, just different.

Dinner was out of the freezer for me. A stew I’d made back in October last year. It tasted fine. Scamp had fish.

Worked through a pen sketch for 28 Drawings Later before we went out to salsa and that’s what you see here. It’s two glass spice jars. One rectangular and one square. I like it. I’d tried to use thick and thin lines. Thick lines go round the outside and thin ones are in the inside. It’s more complicated than that, but you get the idea.

 

Rangers were playing at home tonight and, at times, it looked as if the supporters had decided to park on the motorway and walk to Ibrox. The traffic was hardly moving. However we got to STUC only 15 minutes late. Unfortunately, there were too many men, so I sat out the first class and joined in with the second. Quite enjoyed the second.

That’s it for today, a bit rushed, but it’s late and I want to get this posted, plus after it’s on the InterWeb I’m going to update yesterday’s post with (corrected) details of yesterday’s food extravaganza. * Now completed *

Tomorrow morning is free then I’m meeting the guys for coffee in the afternoon.

An improving situation – 13 February 2019

Ah, today was better. Even got praise from Michael and that’s praise indeed!

Scamp was up and out early for a checkup and I started to tidy up the painting room. Only those with very good eyesight would have noticed the subtle differences, but I knew they were there.

When Scamp returned we had a quick lunch and then drove in to Glasgow for Ballroom and Jive. Michael seemed to think we were doing well and remembering all his little pointers, like closing your feet after every move in ballroom and Quickstep. Scamp and I did an almost perfect Jive routine with nobody watching, then when the two teachers were watching, my technique went haywire. It was a typical case of brain fade. Spin four went wrong and I just couldn’t do anything right for the remainder of the track. After that little blip, things got a lot better and I got praise for “almost getting it right”. That’s great praise from the pedant’s pedant.

Walked out of Blackfriars on a high and went for a coffee in Nero, stopping on the way to admire and photograph the distorted reflection of Ingram Street on that beautiful glass building. It became today’s PoD.

Pasta for dinner and then out to the 7.30 improvers Salsa class, only to find that it too is closing because of lack of numbers. What is going wrong with AdS. I have my suspicions, and I’ve said so to Scamp. She disagrees, but we will see what transpires in March when two classes now will close. We didn’t stay for the 8.30 class. That would mean we don’t get home until after 10pm. I’ve got stuff to do then and besides, there are too many ‘clowns’ in the 8.30 class.

Came home and finished off a painting I’d started in the afternoon. I tried three paintings of the two apples, but none of them were any good. Eventually started eating one of them (the apples, not the paintings) and decided it made a much more interesting subject, and the rest is history.

That was about it for today. It looks like Wednesday salsa will be with the Improvers at 6.30. Not sure what else will fill our time. I think it may be Bachata. Not my favourite dance, but better than nothing and I know Scamp likes it.

Tomorrow Scamp has coffee booked with Isobel in the morning, but we may go to Mugdock for a walk in the afternoon. Ages since we’ve been there.

Different Dances – 23 January 2019

It was cold this morning when we woke and that cold stayed all day.

Phoned the surgery to get the result of my blood test and it was fine. It was back to normal, but the doc had given me a course of penicillin to take to completely clear up the lingering UTI. Good result. Good start to the day.

Drove into town to go dancing and found out that we were doing a host of dances today. First we rattled through the seven spins of our jive routine. Then Michael started us on the Rumba which we hadn’t done since the Hamilton class years and years ago. After that we had an introduction to the Cha-Cha, which, again we had done before, mainly on sea days on a variety of cruises, but never in so much detail. Who knew your feet had to stay on the floor at all times? Finally we did a fairly representative waltz and a quickstep. Five dances in an hour. That’s not bad going. I think that’s us prepared for the workshops on Saturday in Strathaven, provided we can lay our hands on a pair of boilersuits.

Walking back from Blackfriars I looked along Hutcheson Street and saw the old Hutcheson’s Hospital lit up by the afternoon sun. It looked like a good subject and that’s why it became PoD. A fair bit of post processing in LR and ON1 2019 which meant the digital noise was a bit overpowering, but I managed to tone it down a bit in LR. Bought a couple of half pans of watercolour paint to beef up the Joan of Art painting box.

It tried to snow a bit as we were leaving Glasgow, but didn’t come to much. We weren’t sure if we were going to salsa tonight, but finally agreed that it would be fine. That was before the sleet and the snow on the M80 going in. Luckily again, it didn’t last and we arrived in fairly good time for Scamp to help out with the last half of the 6.30 class.

Moves in the 7.30 class were Astrella Complicada, Prado and Bayamo. Enjoyed the class although it was smaller than previous weeks.

Tomorrow I’m a Joiner for Shona fitting a lock to her bedroom door and then a Roadie for Scamp who’s got a gig for the Probus club. Not her favourite audience.

Back in the old routine – 16 January 2019

Back dancing again.

Down to Blackfriars again to begin year two of our ballroom and jive dancing. Thoroughly enjoyed it, even if I couldn’t remember Spin No 5 and then got the sequence wrong too! Waltz was good, not perfect, just good. Even Quickstep was recognisable as a dance. That’s the first class over and we survived it. More importantly, the dances survived it. Lots of folk there. Four couples which is an improvement in what we had before Christmas. I was beginning to wonder if the class would survive with so few people on the dance floor during the class.

Coffee and a discussion afterwards and Scamp agreed that we’d been ok. Room for improvement, but we hadn’t lost too much ground with our three week lay off. I tried to grab a shot outside the GOMA, but with the zoom on the Teazer at maximum and a shutter speed of 1/15th, it was doomed to failure. Luckily I’d taken a couple of shots of clouds banked over the cityscape earlier when we were leaving the car park. What you see above is the PoD which came from one of them. I’d half intended to go out early over to St Mo’s to get some ‘banker’ shots. I wish I had. Maybe tomorrow I’ll do that, because tomorrow will be a busy day too. Hopefully not as busy as today, but still busy enough.

Drove in to Glasgow tonight and for once, the 6.30 class had too many men, so Scamp got an extra half hour’s dance and to refresh her memory of Vacilala Con Paseo. In the 7.30 class we covered Estrella Complicada and the Rueda move, Bocadillo

Tomorrow, Scamp has a meeting with Isobel in the morning and I’ve got a meeting with the doc in the afternoon.

New hair, Old friends

We drove in to Glasgow today, just to get out of Cumbersheugh, but we came back.

My hair badly needed cut. If I did it myself it would just be cut badly. If we went to Glasgow, it would be cut properly. No contest. For a change we parked up at Cowcaddens and for the umpteenth time, we didn’t see even one cow. Why do they insist in giving places these confusing names. While Scamp wandered round the shops, I walked down to West Nile Street (which, it turned out, is not even near the Nile), sat down and had my locks cropped by a nice Polish lady. She did a very good job and I was happy to give her a tip. I told her not to visit Cowcaddens if she was at all interested in dairy farming.

Met Scamp back on Sauchiehall Street and we decided that lunch time was approaching so we headed down to Charcoals where I had Chicken Bhuna and Scamp had Aloo Saag. Mine was fine, but Scamp’s Aloo (potatoes) were nearly black. We didn’t pay that much for the lunch, so we couldn’t really complain. £20 for two starters, two mains, rice, a naan bread and two drinks is a very small price to pay.

Walked back up to Sauchiehall Street for Scamp to visit some more shops while I wandered round Waterstones. After that we went for a coffee in Costa where we met an old salsa friend. We sat and talked for an hour or so, just catching up. It was really good to see her again, I think it must be about three years since we’d last spoken to Elsie. We both felt she seemed quite lonely, having finally broken up with her once boyfriend George, and I think we both felt quite sorry for her.

Drove home and I built a new boot disk for the old Raspberry Pi that Val gave me more than four years ago. Booted it up and it ran just the same as ever! Not got a lot of use for it because it doesn’t have built-in WiFi or Bluetooth. It was just a wee challenge.

Watched the start of the new dance program on BBC. About ten minutes in, we both decided it was too dire to be bothered with and removed it from our recording schedule. Afterwards, we watched an episode of Marie Kondo’s series on Netflix (yes Hazy, I did watch it.) Interesting, but “Oh my God” <sic> that repetitive and superfluous phrase from the american woman became really annoying. I might watch another episode, but maybe with the sound turned down or preferably off.

PoD was from Sauchiehall Street. The woman was singing Tracy Chapman songs while accompanying herself on guitar and drum. Very entertaining and it brought a bit of sunshine into a very dull day.

Broke a cap on one of my front teeth tonight.  That’s what happens when you eat too many sticky caramels.  Luckily(?) I have an appointment with the dentist booked for a week on Monday.  Oh what fun!

Tomorrow? No plans as yet. Maybe taking Marie Kondo’s advice and tackling another cupboard.

Glasgow – 30 December 2018

Today we took the train in to Glasgow

Scamp offered to drive us to the station to get the train in to Glasgow. The ‘leccy train. Very comfortable and much quieter than the diesels. Also the seven carriage train was almost full. Everybody must be getting out of Embra with all the preparations for New Year celebrations. Not so Glasgow. It was heaving with punters and tourists alike. I was looking for a new pair of Bluetooth headphones so we marched straight into HMV to grab a pair before the whole HMV empire came down about our ears. It went into receivership the day before yesterday, whatever day that was and was the cheapest place for the Skullcandy headphones I wanted. Got the last pair on the rack.

Wandered along Argyle Street after that, then headed for Nero in St Enoch’s shared a toastie and a cake for lunch. Outside I got today’s PoD of a man fixing a puncture on his rickshaw. There used to be loads of these things in Glasgow, admittedly that was in the warmer weather, but I’ve hardly seen any recently. Just a fad that faded out, perhaps.

Crossed the road to Waterstones where Scamp bought me a late Christmas present which was a Times Sudoku a Day desk calendar. I like the way it’s set out and the rhythm of the puzzles never changes throughout the year. It keeps me sane … just. Even better, the calendar was half price! Saw a book I had been looking for, but it was on sale in Waterstones for £17. Amazon have it on sale for £10. That’s why the high street shops are closing. I’ll miss HMV, but I can hardly remember the last time I bought something there (with the exception of today). Possibly we are cutting our own throats by our short sighted reliance on on-line stores, but a 40% markup is a bit excessive. However, I did get a chance to read a random page in the book, something an English tutor told us to do when I was at college, and it looked interesting enough. Even that I could have done easily on Amazon. The book is now on my Books Database in Notion, Hazy.

Caught the train back to Croy with just five minutes to spare. Scamp drove us home. Dinner tonight was my version of the Chicken & Chorizo with beans and tomatoes. It got a thumbs up. Even my attempt at garlic bread was a winner.

The rodents are going mad tonight. Maybe it’s because I blocked up the holes in the front and back steps and they are locked in. I had hoped that they were out when I did it and I was locking them out. Perhaps not. The “Rat Man” is coming to Angela next door tomorrow and she promised to send him round to us when he was finished. We’ll see.

The sound from the headphones was rubbish by the way.

Tomorrow is Hogmanay so we won’t be going far I think.