23 Nov

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 MVK’.  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.

23 Nov

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.

23 Nov

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.

23 Nov

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.

23 Nov

Serendipity – 6 August 2016

6 AugLast night was a late night. It was Saturday morning about 1am when I finally dragged myself to bed. As a result, we woke late this morning, or should I say ‘later’ this morning. We had intended to go to Edinburgh, hereinafter referred to by its proper name of Embra. It was touch and go whether we would go or not, but finally we decided that we should just go, as there was nowhere else that interested us.

In Embra we walked through the Conference Square canyon.  I hadn’t realised just how ugly the Conference Centre was.  What a waste of concrete.   From there, up the Grassmarket through the crowds and on to the Royal Mile. That’s where the real ‘Maddies’ were. For a fair few blocks, the Royal Mile is pedestrianised at festival time and so it was today. Scamp was interested in a couple of groups of a cappella singers and I was just interested in taking photos of the nutters.

The fringe is interesting, but after a while you get fed up listening to the hype from these self centred eejits and have to get back to reality. That is what we did. We walked down The Bridges and on to the St James Centre. What a disaster that is now. All that’s left in the entire centre is John Lewis. Everything else is closed. It appears that the whole site is being rebuilt while the JL shop remains open. It is a really depressing site (and sight) and will remain that way for FOUR years. The new centre isn’t due to open until 2020. There are loads of ‘artists impressions’ or AutoCad renders of the proposed new retail opportunity. It looks very smart, but it is very difficult to work out what you are looking at as there are no landmarks on the beautifully rendered artwork, and let’s face it, it’s Embra. It has a few landmarks!

From the disaster that was the St James Centre, we walked through St Andrew’s Square (there are a lot of saints in Embra!) and on to George Street. Like the Royal Mile, part of George Street was pedestrianised for the festival with lots of drinks venues pitched on the roadway. We stopped at one for a beer (an expensive beer at £2.50 for a half pint!) and that’s where the ‘Serendipity’ came in. We were sitting at a table across from an older woman. As usual, Scamp got into conversation with her, but I must admit that for once she didn’t instigate it. It turned out that she was on a bus tour to see the Tattoo and she had come from Cambridge. She knew Baldock and also Little Downham. However, she had lived in South Wales before she got married and knew where Scamp’s aunt lived in Maesteg. Thirdly, she had been to Inverness last year and had gone on another bus tour to Skye and stayed in the Pink House in Portree! It was almost as if she had read our minds and plotted three places where we had synchronicity.

When we left her and George St then turned onto Princes Street, we could feel that the weather had turned.  It was cooler and there were spits and spots of rain in the wind, so we headed for the train and home. No lunch out today, but dinner was provided by Golden Bowl and was delicious. Rain and high winds forecast for tomorrow and I’ve got an appointment with the physio to see what’s wrong with my shoulder. Maybe he’ll just give it a rub with the magic sponge and it will be as good as new. Maybe!

23 Nov

London – 16 July 2016

16 JulyTook the train into Waterloo and found ourselves on the South Bank soon after that.  We walked along and crossed over Waterloo bridge then walked through Somerset House, but unfortunately the fountains were switched off to make way for an open air concert.  Bummer.  Scamp swithered whether our not to have a drink on the balcony of Somerset House, but finally decided that it was just a little too posh.  I have to agree with her, but it was getting very hot and I would have welcomed a drink, posh or not.  We walked along what turned out to be The Strand (Red on the Monopoly board) and finally settled on a little Italian restaurant with the strangest painted (?) leather seats.  Service was slow, but the food was really good.  It was very busy when we went in with lots of theatre-goers, but they soon vamoosed when it got near the time for the matinee.

When we left there, we walked through Covent Garden and the associated galleries selling all sorts of tat.  We tried to get a seat in a few pubs, but they were all full, so we went to a Cafe Nero instead.  We sat and watched blokes on scooters doing ‘The Knowledge’ with their maps and notepads clipped to their windshields.  Walked on down The Strand and eventually Scamp chose the Golden Jubilee bridge as our crossing point back to the South Bank and from there we walked back to Waterloo Station (also on the Monopoly board) and home.

Not the best London visit.  It feels like we need a target or a theme.  After The Strand and Waterloo Station, maybe we should aim to visit a colour set next time.  That might be a challenge.

Scamp made dinner tonight (stir fry) and we watched another excellent Hazy movie pick – The Martian.  Both Hazy and I had read the book and the movie stuck quite accurately to the book until nearly the end.  Impressed.  That’s three good movie pics on three consecutive days.  That’s good work.

Tomorrow?  Tomorrow is a new day and a new beginning.

23 Nov

Kingston Town – 15 July 2016

15 JulyToday, after a late start, we walked along Chessington Road to the bus stop and got the 71 to Kingston.  It was a bit of a dull day, but warm.

Wandered around Kingston looking for the market.  I was beginning to think they’d moved it just to annoy me when we heard a commotion in the street.  It turned out to be an amateur dramatics group acting out, er, something.  A something without real words.  Bits and pieces of singing and screaming, but no real dialogue.  What it did have was some superb acting and mime, plus loads of humour and a bit of pathos.  Really entertaining, live and free.  Worth putting a couple of quid in their bucket.  After that, we found the market with a little help from Mr Google.  We are so spoilt in Glasgow with streets in a grid pattern, making it almost impossible to get lost.  Kingston is one of those old fashioned places where they built the houses, churches and schools, then made the roads round them.  With the market found, lunch was now possible and it turned out to be Japanese and from one of the kiosks in the market of course.  I had Chicken Yaki Soba and Scamp had Chicken Curry.  Enormous portions, far too big really, but very tasty, so we ate the lot.

After lunch we had a walk along the river admiring the variety of boats and spotting a cygnet with the swans on the stream that runs into the Thames.  Mrs Swan was sitting on the eggs the last time we were there in May.  It looks like only one egg hatched.  Such a pity.  After that, we got the bus back to Chessington.  There’s a bus every 10 mins on average.  What a difference from one every half hour from Glasgow to Cumbersheugh.  People will only use public transport if the public transport actually exists and is economical to use.  That’s a lesson Scotland could learn from London.

Frying pan pizza for dinner and it tasted ok, given that I was using a new to me oven.  Just remembered that I forgot to make the bread from the remainder of the dough.  Must do it in the morning.

Tomorrow is a mystery.  Not a clue what we are doing.  Let’s go with Scamp’s usual maxim.  It depends on the weather.

23 Nov

Fitba’ Crazy – 12 July 2016

12 July bSo here am I, the man who says he’s only been to one football match in his life, sitting in the stand watching the Homeless World Cup in George Square in Glasgow. How strange.

I just thought I should write a wee bit on Day One while I was sitting in George Square waiting for the teams to come out again for the second half.  I don’t know why I was so determined to go to this football thing.  I think it was the fact that it wasn’t expensively paid prima donnas who were the stars, in fact it was exactly the opposite.  The people who were playing and those who were running the show were homeless and for a week they were stars.  Good luck to them.  If I could have managed the time I’d have gone back for more.

Other than that, I put my sewing machine experience to work on repairing three pairs of jeans.  I’d torn the pockets on a couple of pairs and worn through the pocket on another – not from my mass of coins, but from the wear and tear caused by my keys.  I managed to fix two pairs by my own fair hands and the third with a little help from Scamp.  Really quite proud of my achievement.  If I hadn’t gone to that Sew Macho class in Glasgow way back in January, I wouldn’t have had a clue.  Not quite Sewing Bee standard yet, but finished what I set out to do and that’s what counts.

It stayed dry all day.  While I was watching the football in Glasgow there was the slightest drizzle, but it didn’t last long and it didn’t get any heavier, in fact, the sun came out after that for a while.  For Scotland, for summer, it was actually quite pleasant. Let’s hope it’s the re-start of summer.

23 Nov

Extra! Extra! – 6 June 2016

6 june bI got the train in to Glasgow today.  The fast train, but also a bit of mystery tour.  What should have been a 15 min journey took just over half an hour.  The reason was the closure of the tunnel at Queen Street Station.  They are electrifying the line and are using that as a chance to repair the tunnel that hasn’t had any decent work done in it for over forty years.  I knew it would be a long journey, but I wanted to experience the trip through stations I hadn’t been to in ages.  Ashfield, Dawsholm Park, Maryhill.  All names from the past.  I quite enjoyed it.

I’d gone in to Glasgow to get a 37mm UV filter for my new toy, the 12-32mm lens.  This 37mm diameter piece of glass cost me £18 in Merchant City Cameras in Parnie Street.  That’s almost 50p per millimeter.  Ok, pedants, I know it’s not really 50p per mm, but 3.4p per mm² doesn’t have the same gravitas!

While I was coming to terms with the hole this filter had made in my finances, I noticed the crowd outside the Trans Europe Cafe in Parnie Street.  It looked like a Lights, Camera, Action thing and after talking to one of the extras, well, I think he was an extra, it wasn’t Johnny Depp.  I’m sure I’d have notice him if he was there.  Anyway, the extra told me that it was a comedy being made for Netflix.  I don’t think I’ll ever see it, because we don’t have a Netflix, just a ‘cooncil telly’.

Got the rattliest bus ever home and sat in the garden to soak up as much of the sun as possible while Gems went through their paces.  Thunder storms and heavy rain forecast for tomorrow.  Coming home from salsa tonight, even the CITRAC signs were forecasting heavy rain and they are never wrong (sarcasm).