21 Feb

A day in the toon by myself – 10 July 2017

Spoke to Hazy in the morning, then went into Glasgow for a wander. Danced in the evening. That’s the synopsis.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and discussed books among other things. That’s probably what sent me in to Glasgow. Scamp had other things to do today, but offered me a run to the station, probably to make sure I went. I had a walk around Glasgow and, yes, I did spend a fair amount of time in Waterstones. Finally got a book, a physical book to read. (FYI Hazy, it’s Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay)

Today’s PoD is of the reflections of clouds on the new 110 Queen Street building. It was either that or reflections of

Allegedly, the CityTree is a highly visual structure which, at 4 meters tall, nearly 3 meters wide and 2 meters deep, is said to have the environmental benefit of up to 275 urban trees.  This one was dumped planted outside the GOMA.

old sandstone buildings in the same glass building. You’ll need to visit Flickr to see that one. I’d half intended doing a sketch while I was in, but the rain came on and I didn’t manage it. I know I’m a sketch down after my lapse yesterday, but I’ll try to make it up tomorrow.

On the way home in the train, I glanced out the window while the train was going quite slowly and saw three fox cubs playing together in the grass of a cutting. They stopped to stare at the train as I stared back. So strange to see three cubs together in a little splash of sun after the rain.

While I made the dinner, Scamp picked blackcurrants from the bush in the garden. We’d noticed the birds taking an unhealthy interest in the blackcurrants recently and we were both determined to got our share of them picked and frozen. She managed to pick 1lb of berries. Less than it has been, but then the bush is getting quite old now. Scamp is very fair with her harvest. She never cleans out the busy, but always leaves some for the birds to have.

Salsa class was good tonight and although it wasn’t all that warm outside, it was hot inside and it was a joy to dance near the fan. Our new moves in Advanced class were:

  • Besso por Abaho
  • Agamemnon
  • Vueltas
  • Estrella

No real plans for tomorrow, but hopefully the weather will be better than today, because the rain was torrential on the way home from salsa class.

21 Feb

Twa Dugs – 13 May 2017

Today we took the slow lane to Hamilton.

The slow lane is on the M74.  There are three lanes.  Slow, slower and stopped.  We were in ‘Stopped’ for a while, but then we moved on to ‘Slower’ and finally found second gear which you can only achieve in the Slow lane.

We parked in the retail park in Hamilton wondering if three hours would be enough to visit the two shops I wanted to go to, M&S for Scamp and Costa for a brown water – Hamilton hasn’t got a Nero yet.  As it happened, it only took us a little over an hour to complete our walk around this failing town.  It used to be a vibrant, busy town.  Mobbed on a Saturday.  Today there were more folk in the retail park than in the town centre and there were To Let signs on a load of shuttered shops in the retail park.  Such a shame.  However it provided today’s PoD one of the Twa Dugs that decorate the seating in the town square.

I thought we’d investigate the new M8 on our trip back to Cumbersheugh, but the road builders thought otherwise.  Halfway up the Bellshill bypass, the signs for Glasgow petered out to be replaced with signs for Embra.  It looked as if the road to Glasgow wasn’t quite ready for us yet, so we did as we were told and took the road to Embra.  We took it as far as Shotts before we could turn and head back to Glasgow again.  The road is a great improvement on the old one and when all the links are working properly it will speed up the east/west trip for all those commuters who face this moving carpark every day.

While we were taking our enforced diversion, we met with some really heavy showers.  It was good to see rain again after almost a month without.  However, I hope it remembers to turn the tap off some time soon.  I’m perfectly ok with with it raining all day, just as long as it stays dry for most of the day.

Dinner tonight was courtesy of Golden Bowl, the best and most consistent Chinese take-anywhere.  Chicken Chop Suey with Fried Rice for Scamp and Special Chow Mein for me was a pleasant change from our fish diet this week.  That said, today’s lunch of reheated Simple FIsh Stew was excellent.

Tomorrow?  I think it’s going to rain again, so I’m starting the boxer shorts Hazy.  The pieces were cut out tonight so tomorrow may be the big day.

21 Feb

A Toy off the Rack – 21 April 2017

The toy in question was a Fitbit Charge 2. Scamp had decided that since I’d been using the cheapo Goji Go since Christmas, perhaps I’d like to move up to a more sophisticated model. The price was good in JL and so that’s where I got it. More on it later.

Clutching my new toy in its box we walked down Bucky Street and had coffee in the Nero at St Enoch’s after listening to four old guys who perform under the name Buchanan Street Preachers. They sing old stuff, our music, from the ‘60s and ‘70s and are good to listen to. I photographed them and Scamp gave them a couple of quid for their efforts. I managed a late sketch for my one a week. It was of the amazingly detailed building that now houses Cafe Nero. It used to be the underground station and is a Cat ‘A’ listed building. I was quite pleased with the finished sketch, especially the crinkly bits. It was a 20 minute job and the perspective is ok, but the proportions are poor.

On the way home I wanted to try to get the BT keyboard in a different Currys. They didn’t have the one I wanted, but they did have an alternative that looked just as good and at exactly the same price. As I was walking to the till I noticed a label on the box to say it was ‘pre-owned’ one. It was the last one on the shelf. When I got to the till the assistant checked the price and told me the same price as the label on the shelf. I explained that it was pre-owned, so what was the discount. No discount. “It’s probably just someone took it home and didn’t like it” he said. So it’s not someone took it home and the dog peed on it, so they brought it back? So it’s not someone took it home and spilled coffee on it, so they brought it back? “No, they probably didn’t want it.” I told him neither did I and left, keyboardless. What is wrong with Currys these days? They were never all that great, but a few years ago they seemed to be improving. However, if they continue to employ managers who can’t manage, managers who ignore customers and robots who are ‘only obeying orders’, they are going to go downhill fast. They are certainly losing me.

Back to the Fitbit. It’s quite an amazing upgrade from the Goji Go. Not only does it count steps, distance travelled and calories burned. It also counts stairs climbed and checks heart rate. Even better, it doesn’t have to be told what time you are going to sleep, it works it out itself, based on heart rate and the fact you’re not moving. Best of all is that you can get replacement straps for the inevitable time when your strap wears out. It’s much smoother and less bulky than the Goji. All in all it’s a brilliant upgrade and not in any way a toy. My only problem is getting it to sync to the Mac. I think I’ve solved that problem. I thought the Mac had Bluetooth 4, but what I was reading was the Apple Bluetooth software version. The actual chipset is Bluetooth 2 which is not supported by the Fitbit. Looks like I’ll need a BT dongle.

Hoping to go to Cramond tomorrow.

21 Feb

Around and about – 15 April 2017

Today we started out being driven to Hitchen for lunch and a walk around the shops.  It seemed like a plan as the sun was out and it was fairly warm.

It seems a pleasant wee town with a busy market in the centre.  Had lunch in a Greek restaurant.  I had lamb casserole as my main after a starter of Borek which is filo pastry filled with Greek feta cheese & spinach.  Afterwards we went for a walk around the main part of the town where a Sikh group were giving out free food and cans of juice to anyone who wanted it, free of charge as part of their Vaisakhi festival.  We had just had lunch, but there were big queues at the stall, happy to make the most of the food on offer.  It appears that there is such a thing as a free lunch!

It being Easter, there were a few others stalls dotted around, a town crier shouting the odds and even a couple of Imperial Stormtroopers searching for those droids, I presume.  We were looking for Just Desserts, a dessert restaurant, but it when we found it, it was closed, not just for Easter, but for good.   It had had its just desserts.  Instead of a dessert, we settled for a posh, artisan coffee shop.  Coffee was lovely, if  a bit sharp and there were loads of cakes on display.  JIC and I had Yoghurt and Cranberry slice.  Best laugh of the day was when I went to the toilet and found the toilet brush was stuck in a Starbucks mug!  Someone with a sense of humour and an opinion of Starbucks much like my own.

Back in the town the Vaisakhi procession was in full swing with drummers and marchers who were preceded by two men spraying water on the road in front of the markers, presumably to ritually clean it for them.  It was all quite a jolly and colourful affair in the sunshine.  However, our parking time was nearly up, so we made our way past and old church back to the car with a few minutes to spare.

Went out later to see the new Mill House and it’s quite a revelation although there is still a fair bit of scaffolding enclosing it.  Sketched it, but I’m not impressed with the sketch.  May redo it later.

Dinner should have been in the Benington Bell which is a traditional British pub serving traditional Trinidad food!  I had Aloo Pies to start with, but everybody else had Salt Fish and Tomato.  Main for me was Lamb Curry for me and for everyone else was Chicken Curry.  I just like to be different.  Unfortuntely, Sim wasn’t feeling too good, so we just ate and left. (Since I’m writing this on Sunday, I can tell you that she was fine after a night’s sleep.) The food was really, and I mean really excellent.  Thank you JIC and Sim for that.

When we got home, Sim went for a snooze while we watched Black Mirror on Netflix.  Interesting programme.  Must search for it when we get back home.

Tomorrow (or to be truthful, today 😉 we’re hoping to visit a garden centre.)

21 Feb

A Belated Birthday Bash – 11 April 2017

Got the bus in to Glasgow and went up Sausage Roll Street.  Got another spare pair of reading glasses from Flying Tiger which turned out to be the wrong strength!  (Note to self 1: 1.5 diopter readers from Flying Tiger not 2.0 diopter, Numpty) Then on to Blacks where I’d checked out a potential jacket last week.  This time I bought one.  Not  the one I’d checked out, but that doesn’t matter, this one fits and I like it.  The Bergy I bought in Embra will now go back.  I also bought myself a cook book because I liked the look of some of the recipes.  Foodies, what can you do with them?  On the walk down Sausage Roll Street, an Asian girl stopped Scamp and asked if she would take a photo of her with the two guys she was with.  Scamp just pointed at me and the girl gave me her camera, a Contax.  A Contax film camera.  What a beautiful piece of equipment.  I took two photos of the group as directed.  It was so strange to take a photo and not be able to see the result on the back screen.  I hope they turned out.

Next, it was down to Paesano for my BBL (Belated Birthday Lunch.)  Pizza No 3 seeing as you’re asking.  Anchovies Olives and Capers, washed down with a glass of Shiraz.  Very nice.  Down, further still to Argyle Street which is where today’s photos come from then the slow crawl back up to the bus station via Cass Art to buy some A4 HP watercolour paper.  HP means Hot Pressed i.e. smooth, no tooth.  Never used it before and haven’t had a chance to use it tonight.  Also via The Counting House for some cheap (and nasty) beer (Note to self 2:  Don’t buy Devil’s Backbone IPA, it’s fizzy and tasteless) and some “ok, but nothing special” Botanist G&T for Scamp).  Amazingly it cost just pennies over a fiver, so we shouldn’t complain too much.

Plodded on to the bus station and got the bus home, to find that the parcel had arrived from Hazy.  As usual, you are just as imaginative as your brother.
Who would have thought that a pair of boxer shorts would make a great birthday present?
Well, they would if you had to make them yourself!!!
Who’d have thought some mushrooms would have been a great birthday present?
Well, they would if you had to grow them yourself!!!
Thank you both for your imagination.  I loved them, although the mushrooms look easier to grow than the boxers will be to sew.

That’s about it for tonight, other than I’ve been trying to delete 500, yes, 500 files from my NAS drive and it was driving me crazy until I found a neat solution on the ’net that blitzed them in a trice.  That bloody iPhone had been downloading another update on  the fly.  It took up 1.2GB of space on the phone.  I can’t afford to lose that amount of space just because Apple wants to bugger up my phone, so it also has now gone into the ether.

Tomorrow I may go to Perf.  On the bus.

21 Feb

A More Frugal Day – 19 February 2017

Milky white sky but mild.  Not really a day to encourage you out.

Lunch was a frugal scrambled egg on toast and dinner a baked potato with fish fingers and tinned spaghetti.  Neither of us felt like eating all that much after last night’s feast.

I made another bow tie and it took me half the time the last one did.  It was still a bit short, so I’ve made what I hope will be the final adjustments and may make one more just to be sure, but I’m going to use different material this time. Onward and upward!

Managed to get Scamp’s “illegal copy of Windows” back into the fold.  After consulting with Val and downloading Magic Jellybean – daft name – I found out that the CD key used for authenticating Windows was totally wrong.  So, all I did was type in the correct one from the label on the bottom of the ‘puter and, hey presto, it was licensed and we were legal again.  I have no idea how or when that got changed, but it did.  I also took the opportunity to remove what seems to be a dodgy Windows update at the same time.  It’s amazing, just how many people are complaining about this problem on the Internet.  This is the first time anything like this has happened to me, either with legal or not so legal Windows OSs.  Anyway, I hope it stays fixed and doesn’t revert to the dodgy side in a few months time.

Went to the Sunday Social tonight and enjoyed trying to remember the moves we were learning a few weeks ago.  We didn’t stay that long as I had a real nagging headache that simply wouldn’t go away.  Back home, and after swallowing a couple of paracetamol, it disappeared. Like the Windows problem, I don’t know where it came from, but unlike Windows, I couldn’t just type in the correct CD key!

Today’s PoD was seen in a doorway in Pitt Street in Glasgow.  Strange instructions.  Today’s sketch is of our new dressmaking scissors.  I think this is the first time I’ve used Promarkers since I left teaching. They gave a bit more depth and realism to the sketch.  I’d intended going out and doing a sketch in the wild, but it wasn’t happening today.  Too dull.

So I finish today’s blog where I started it, talking about the weather.  Nicely cyclic.

21 Feb

Perf – 17 January 2017

Today we went to Perf, Perth to you.  It was a really dull, dreary day when we left the Cumbernauld Cloud, but true to form, the weather brightened up about halfway to Stirling and from then on it was a lovely day.

Walked from the carpark to the coffee shop to start our visit in the time-honoured fashion and stopped at Clarks shoe shop to see if there were any bargains.  There were and a new pair of shoes and trainers were soon bagged and paid for.  I think the trainers may replace the ones I got last week.  Both are Goretex which I think is the bees knees as far as walking in Scotland is concerned, in fact all three new pieces of footwear are Goretex.  Coffee scoffed we wandered for a while around Perf and decided on an early lunch.  We went to a new (to us) cafe and I had a lamb burger (which I am suffering for now) topped with feta cheese.  Not sure it’s a great combination.  I get the link: Feta – cheese made from sheep’s milk and Lamb, but it just didn’t taste that good.  Maybe it’s just me.  Scamp had a chicken burger which seemed to go down well.  Coffee was on a par with Callander Coffee!

After lunch we split up Scamp went shopping for a bag and I went looking for books.  Didn’t find any, but I did pick up a lovely Dylan album in  the Bootleg series.  From the Philharmonic Hall in New York 1964.  An all acoustic set.  Brilliant.  Scamp didn’t find a bag – the search continues.   I also got today’s trilogy.  The girl in the mono shots was busking next to the the iconic street architecture in the main street of Perf.  Actually she was quite good and I really should have dropped some money in her guitar bag.  I liked the graphical nature of the the square window overseen by the security camera.

When we met up again, I went and got some coffee and tea and also dropped in at a fabric shop and bought some blue cotton with white spots to make another bow tie, a keeper this time I hope.  By the time we got on to the main street, the light was failing and it was time to drive home.  I felt quite sorry for the old church at the end of the main street.  I’ve photographed it a few times.  It used to provide great shots of pigeons sitting in the broken stained glass windows.  The last time we were in Perf there was scaffolding on it and I hoped it would be renovated, but today there was a security fence round it and the scaffolding was gone.  Soon, I think the church will be too.  Such a pity.

I finally managed to rip the Monty Python DVD tonight.  I used an old program that I’ve used in the past and also one that Hazy suggested, ‘Make MKV’.  It wouldn’t work on the Mac, I think it didn’t like the DVD player being connected by USB.  Maybe the information stream wasn’t quick enough.  However, when I used the PC laptop, MakeMKV got to work right away and after half an hour or so later I had the rip.  Unfortunately it was a 4Gb rip.  Compressing it into an MP4 file looks like it’s going to take a couple of hours, but that’s a job for tomorrow.

No plans for tomorrow yet, apart from converting from MKV to MP4.

21 Feb

The day after the day before – 12 December 2016

Morning came too soon today after a late night yesterday.

Worse still, there was a lot to do and so it was a quick breakfast and start the baking for Scamp’s Gems party.  For me, that was bread first.  Hand made.  Kneaded and set to prove in a warm kitchen.  While the dough was rising, Scamp went to buy Tesco while I made the scone dough.  Unfortunately I made the beginner’s mistake of forgetting to put the oven on, so I faffed around for a while while the oven heated, with the result that the scones didn’t turn out quite as well as I expected, but that’s just the way things are.  If you’re making them for yourself, they turn out fine every time.  When you’re under pressure to produce, that’s when mistakes creep in.  By comparison, the bread looked very good and behaved exactly as it should, rising perfectly.  I’d a bit more things to do, a bit of furniture moving and adjusting, but after that was finished and I’d had a lunch of sorts, I made my excuses and left before the festivities could begin.

I drove in to Glasgow to make my final purchase from an actual shop for Christmas.  With that complete, I was free to wander and take some photos.  I took a few of reflections in the 110 Queen Street building.  I’m sure it deserves a better name than a postal address.  Something like the bendy glass building would be more Glasgow than 110 Queen Street.  The kidney building would do because it’s kind of kidney shaped.  Answers on a postcard please.  Along the way I picked up the new – old Dylan album from 1966 allegedly from the Albert Hall, but actually from the Free Trades Hall in Birmingham, but still reminiscent of that era when Dylan truly was God on Wheels.  Picked up Jackie and drove home.

Salsa tonight.  The Kizomba is finished for us for now.  Great night with three new dances, the best named dance was Oti Biscuits.  I kid you not!

Tomorrow we are hoping will run at a more leisurely pace.  We will see.

21 Feb

A dull day in the Toon

9 Dec

Took up Scamp’s kind offer of a lift to the station to catch the train to Glasgow. Much more comfortable than the bus and much less expensive than the car.

Had a look at iMacs in John Lewis, well actually iMac, singular as they only had one on show and a dusty example of the breed it was too. They have the best offer on iMacs, with a three year warranty, but it looks as if they are pushing the portable versions of the Apple computers. Maybe desktops are dying out. From there I went to the Apple store in Buchanan Street, but I’ve almost totally lost faith in this particular outlet, so it was a cursory glance at these sparkling devices I can’t really afford.

Next on the list … Actually, that, like yesterday’s blog must also remain redacted.  Let’s just say I did some shopping.  The town was simply mad today with folk running here and there pushing prams, dragging screaming weans and lugging jolly Xmas coloured bags with them.  Note ‘Xmas’ not ‘Christmas’ as there is nothing remotely religious about this festival or the lead up to it for most people.  So after some deeply unsatisfying shopping, I walked up Buchanan Street and grabbed my PoD which was the bloke sitting in the window.  The sparkles are a reflection of lights across the street.  Now don’t get the idea that this is in anyway an Amsterdam window.  This was one storey up and well away from the gaze of the shoppers.  I think that’s the thing about photography and especially solo photography, you tend to look around you rather than straight ahead if you are simply shopping.  Headphones and a music player full of good tunes helps too to remove the mundane, everyday things and allow you to enjoy the parts others don’t see.  Try it sometime.  You don’t need the camera, but you do if you want to record your visuals, but the headphones filled with music are essential.  From Bucky Street to Hot Mulled Bucky.  A bit of a culture shock, but I can see how this strong, sweet tonic wine would work as a mulled wine … kind of.  Only in Glasgow, or Coatbridge, or indeed the West of Scotland.  It’s a cultural thing Winking smile.  Seen in the Christmas market in George Square.

Just as I was taking my phone out of my pocket to ask if Scamp’s Taxi Service was back in business, a text came in from her confirming that it was.  Now that’s synchronicity!  Got to the station with 2 minutes to spare before the train left.  It was the Alloa train and is of ancient rolling stock.  Only last year they put roofs on the carriages and although we had an elderly diesel unit pulling ours, some are still pulled by by a late model of Stephenson’s Rocket.  Eight of us crammed into the crossways corridor between the doors.  Thankfully most of the crowd left at Bishopbriggs and that lightened the load considerably, much to the relief of the driver who thought he’d have to ask us to push the train up one of the inclines.  Abellio, what are you thinking about?  Extending platforms to take longer trains.  What you need is 20th century rolling stock.  21st century would be better, but let’s face it, it’s a pipe dream.  Scamp was waiting for me at the station and we made our way home without eventuality. 

Scamp’s out tonight so I’ve agreed to write out my Christmas cards, or is it Xmas cards?  Anyway, without further ado, I’ll draw a line under today’s wanderings and get this posted so I can get on with the work.  Battery is still working quite well on the Mac but I’m still doing ‘conditioning cycles’ on it.  You’ll understand that I’m sure, Hazy.  Curtails my Apple experience, but at least I get to use the quite excellent Window’s Live Writer.  The blog writer Apple should have written.

Tomorrow?  Maybe Embra, postponed from last week.

21 Feb

Cushions – 20 August 2016

20 augSome people will complain about anything.  Today as we were getting off the bus in Glasgow, one wee woman was berating the driver because the seats were too hard on the bus.  She told him in no uncertain terms that he should be supplying cushions for the seats.  The poor man just agreed with her.  It was certainly the path of least resistance today.  The bus he was driving was definitely a bit rickety and seemed to be playing the complete percussion section of the First Bus Orchestra all by itself, but cushions?  I think that might be a step too far.

We had been promised rain today and we got it in abundance.  After walking down Buchanan Street in the rain, it simply got heavier as we waited to see the Gay Pride march go past.  We felt really sorry for them plodding along in the rain trying to look suitably festive in their rainbow capes, rainbow flags and rainbow scarves, soaked to the skin.  Scamp was looking for one of her friends who was supposed to be taking part, but she later confessed that said friend was probably still in the pub.  I might have felt sorry for the marchers, but I felt even more sympathy for the poor drivers in town who had to sit and wait for about half an hour for the parade to pass through, with only two short breaks to allow the traffic jam to partly clear.  Polis were nowhere to be seen at any of the road junctions.  Total shambles.

Lunch was a pizza each in Mediterranianeo in Ingram Street, then we went for a walk in the rain to get a couple of DVDs for tonight’s viewing and avoid another night of the dreadful Rio Olympics.  Then it was home again on the bus, and who was sitting behind us?  That’s right, that same wee woman.  It was a different bus from the one we went in on and the seating on this one was far superior.  I don’t know if she critiqued the cushioning as she left the bus, but I wouldn’t have put it past her.  See JIC, it’s not just me.

Dry weather forecast for tomorrow.  Not sunny, but dry.  We’ll take that.