I have seen the future and it works – 15 September 2018

Electricity travels at almost the speed of light. Diesel is hard to spell and is a fossil fuel.

Today we took the ‘leccy train to Embra. We didn’t intentionally go the ‘leccy route. It just happened that the train we were waiting for was powered by the new clean, invisible power source. The Stirling train that preceded it was powered by old fashioned, smelly, hard to spell deisildesil, diesel. That’s because they don’t have electricity in Stirling yet. They still have gas lights in the street and coal fires. I do feel sorry for them.

The super fast ‘leccy train took longer than the diesel trains they are replacing. Maybe it was cheap, slow electricity they were using or maybe it was Abellio who now run Scotrail who couldn’t manage the rail system properly. Surely not! Anyway, we got to Haymarket and walked up the road for morning coffee in Nero, but not before I set the Samyang loose in Ladyfield which is a great canyon between large imposing office blocks. That’s where PoD came from. I really like the perspective this lens gives. With one in the bag, I could enjoy my morning coffee.

After that we walked up through the Grassmarket to see if anyone was actually selling grass. They weren’t, but I wasn’t surprised because I hadn’t seen anyone selling hay at Haymarket. (Sounds better with a Chic Murray delivery.) From there we headed for the Royal Mile which was mobbed. I was beginning to think that there had been an extension to the Fringe Festival, but it was just the usual bunch of escapologists, jugglers and fire eaters performing for the tourists. We’re not tourists, we LIVE in Scotland. There did seem to be quite a lot of tourists about, but I later checked and the Norwegian Jade cruise ship was docked at Leith, so that probably explained things.

We walked back down through the Old Town and from there along George Street, then back along Rose Street, eventually giving up and heading for the tea room at the National Gallery where our lunch was a shared baguette of smoked salmon with leaves and mayo and a two cups of tea, paper cups, to Scamp’s disgust. After our light lunch we just got the train home. We’d had a bit of a wander around the Capital and were ready to return to the real world.

It was a dull day weatherwise with nothing much to recommend it. I took a few more photos to test out the ability of the Samyang, but am fairly confident that at f8 or better it can handle almost anything I can throw at it. It’s a keeper, for sure.

Got the ‘leccy train back home and it was fast! Impressively so. Shave a good 10 minutes off a 45 minute journey. The folk in Stirling don’t know what they’re missing. They thought it was a great thing last year when the diesel trains replaced the steam trains they’d had for years. Not to mention that the carriages had roofs, not like the open carriages they’d had before.

Tomorrow it’s the Cumbersheugh 10k, so if we’re not out by 10am we’re locked in until midday. I don’t suppose we’ll mind as the weather is to be ‘Scottish’. Hopefully dancing later.

Going Home – 13 May 2018

Today the fun was over for a while and we were going home.

A laze about morning then we went to a garden centre for lunch. Saw some interesting plants for the garden, but because we were flying home, there was no opportunity to bring any of them north to visit our garden. Maybe that is a godsend with the number of planters and pots we have there now. Wandered round the shop with the usual amount of tat and junk. I bought some pea seeds to plant in addition to the ones we already have.

It doesn’t matter what you try to fill your hours with on ‘leaving day’, there’s only one thing on your mind and that’s going home. The drag of going through security and waiting for your gate to show then finding that gate, which is usually the furthest away one. Better to get started and just go. That’s what we did.

Really busy place Stanstead. Couldn’t believe the queue to drop folk off, but soon we were through security and sitting breathing in the muggy reconditioned air in the departure ‘lounge’. Then there was the hour in a metal tube in the sky before landing in a really sunny and warm Glasgow. I don’t say that very often, do I? Bus in to Glasgow, then train to Croy while being serenaded with rebel songs by a seriously guttered Sellic supporter whose wife and son tried to disown him. Thankfully he was travelling on to Stirling, although Croy would have been more fitting surely. Just going to phone for a taxi when the ‘wee bus’ appeared and we used our pensioner’s tickets again to get to Craiglinn and then walked home.

It was a lovely stay. I think we both really enjoyed it. Thank you again JIC, Sim and the new, improved Vixen. Great, relaxing few days. Too few, but sometimes it’s better leaving wanting more.

Back to auld claes and purrich tomorrow.

Embra in the Spring

Today we did as we had planned and went to Embra where we found the sun.

We left Croy with the sun completely hidden behind layers of heavy cloud. It was quite warm though, so we shouldn’t complain too much.

Coffee in Nero when we got to the Capital and then a walk through the Farmer’s Market where I bought tomorrow’s dinner, a piece of mutton from Annanwater. I’d bought from them before, so was sure that it would be fresh and good quality. I think I prefer mutton to lamb now. It’s not as light a meat and needs a fair bit of care in cooking, but the taste is that much richer and deeper. (Foodie Speak)

Walked up to the Grassmarket and after perusing the stalls with exorbitant prices for food (well, it is tourist season and a bank holiday to boot) we settled on Petit Paris, the inevitable choice for both of us. Lovely French restaurant run by French blokes where the food, as well as being French is lovely.
Starters:
Green Pea and Garlic soup for Scamp
Pan fried Brie wrapped in Filo for me
Mains:
Fillet of Cod with Mash for Scamp
Beef Bourguignon for me
I even risked Nick the Chick’s anger by having a glass of red wine. When we came out the Grassmarket was mobbed. Tourists everywhere. It looked like a score of tourist busses had just disgorged their passengers and driven off. We walked up West Bow Street which was where I got the PoD of two biddies scoffing their lunch, sitting on the pavement. From there we walked across the Royal Mile and down the steps to the National Gallery. Stood and watched an ok guitarist, piper and drummer busking. Nothing special, but it entertained the bank holiday crowds. This was all done under blue skies I hasten to add. One of the advantages of going to Embra is that because it’s the capital, it gets better weather than the Glasgow area. I think it’s written into a statute somewhere.

Scamp was on the hunt for a new pair of dance shoes and there is a really good dance ware shop on Rose Street, so that was our next port of call. After securing that purchase (to be delivered to the house next week) we dropped in at Waterstones where I browsed the books, but didn’t find anything I wanted to buy. We were fed and fed up by this time, so after a walk through Princes Street Gardens we got the train home. As we travelled west, we lost more and more of the blue sky and it was replaced by more and more grey clouds. Arrived back at Croy and found it as we’d left it, grey, damp and warm. At least we had some east coast sun today.

Watched an ok, but nothing special film ‘Dough’ on Netflix.

Tomorrow should be a better day if the weather fairies are to be believed. Let’s wait and see. Some stuff needs to be taken to the dump, some gardening needs to be done and the bike needs another outing. Also, some mutton needs to be cooked. Hopefully some of these tasks will be completed, and hopefully under blue skies!

Friday The Thirteenth. Ooh Scary – 13 April 2018

Today we took the train in to Glasgow.

Scamp offered to drive us to the station, partly because it was easy to park and partly because we are hoping to go to Kilmarnock tomorrow to visit an old friend and I will be driving. Parked, walked smartly to the station and the train drove in just as we reached the platform. That was nice.

We walked down through George Square and that’s where I saw the seagulls (aka Shitehawks) having a food fight. Too good an opportunity to miss, so I grabbed a few shots. The Teazer excels in low grey light, low contrast light. It’s not so good now in bright contrasty conditions. That’s because it’s always in my jacket pocket with all the lint and oos (Remember oos? It’s a gran word for dust and wool fibres. It’s got a hard ’S’ at the end not like ooze more like the ’S’ in keys.). Oos. Try to find some today and say the word. Remember the word. Some words shouldn’t be left to die. But I digress. The oos gets into the lens and causes flare in the photos. Today the Teazer had no problem with the soft, flat, grey light.

As we walked down the same streets as we walk on a Wednesday I realised that we hadn’t practised our ballroom steps as we should have. Must get some practise done at the weekend. I refuse to have another disaster Wednesday. Scamp was heading for M&S and we went in through the side door. I told her I’d go to Millers in Stockwell Street and meet her in ten minutes. When I went to leave by the front door, Wow! There were hundreds of people milling around on Argyle Street. No, not a hyperbole, there must have been at least 200 people there and they were walking en mass up Stockwell Street, something was up. Then I noticed that one building and a shop were being evacuated across the street. There were people with clipboards, people with coloured paddles organising other folk into manageable groups and checking off names. I went back in and phoned Scamp to tell her, just in case M&S were going to follow suit when all the folk started to walk back to the building they’d recently exited. No fire engine, no police cars or ambulances. No sirens. Either it was a false alarm or today, Friday 13th, had been chosen as a safety drill by someone with a sense of humour. By the time Scamp appeared, none of the two hundred odd folk were to be seen. Weird.

Went along to Paesano and had a pizza lunch. We both had the customised pizzas we’d discussed the last time we were in Paesano and both agreed the customising is the way to go in future.

While Scamp was in a shop in Bucky Street I grabbed the shot of the bloke on the phone, talking to his Boss!!

Walked through to Cass Art and on the way grabbed my PoD outside the GOMA.  I think looks quite smart in mono.

Back home I found a parcel waiting for me. This was the second of my birthday parcels from JIC. I won’t say what it is, just that it’s very personalised and really quite funny. Photo coming soon when I get a chance to take time over the capture.

Tomorrow we are hoping to visit an old friend we haven’t seen for a long time. Looking forward to it.

Foodies – 20 February 2018

Today we had a light breakfast before getting a taxi to the station, then the train to Embra.  Today was Foodie Day!

When we got to Embra we found the bus stop for the No 34 bus that would take us to Ocean Terminal.  With diversions, because Leith Walk is partially closed, it took about 35 minutes to cover the 4 miles.  The train journey from Croy to Edinburgh only took 45 minutes.  This was the X3 of Lothian buses.  However, we were in no hurry, because we had plenty of time to find today’s destination.  Had a cup of coffee in Ocean Terminal which is really just a great shopping mall with an entrance to the Royal Yacht Britannia, Mrs McQueen’s old boat.  We weren’t going there today, we were going for lunch at The Kitchin Restaurant.  It has been booked since November, such is the waiting list.  I was thinking “it better be worth the wait”.  It was.

Nothing to look at from the road, there’s a notice on the door telling customers to enter by Commercial Quay, round the back. Inside it was dark grey paintwork with discrete little areas like booths, but more open.  The food was superb.  Just what you’d expect from a Michelin star restaurant.  I’d recite what we had, but I can do better than that, and show you the menu with our selections highlighted.  Just click it to see it better.  It’s not a link to Flickr this time, just a link to the image.  My starter was from the Vegetarian menu because we were able to mix and match between menus.We also took the matching wine pairing and that really was an eye opener.  Truly an unforgettable lunch and not a potato to be seen 😉

After lunch we walked along and got a No 16 back to Waverly and it only took about 20 minutes and that because of traffic.  Got the train to Croy and a taxi home.  Strangely enough it was the same taxi driver we had in the morning!  Really, that’s the barest of bare bones of the day.  Too much to cram in to this blog post, you need to hear about it rather than read about  it (ask about the amuse bouche Oh yes, and the bread Hazy!)  A really memorable meal and one we’d do again once we’ve saved up enough to go back DV.

Tonight’s sketch is a coloured pencil sketch of an orange.  I described it thus:  “Oranges make great subjects because after you draw them you can eat them and destroy the evidence of your mistakes!”

Orange

Today’s PoD was a view of reflections on the Water of Leith.

Tomorrow?  Auld claes and purrich I’m afraid!

 

Stranger in a strange land – 31 January 2018

Today I left the real world and entered the world of darts, hems, gussets and linings. I went on a cloth hunt.

Scamp gave me a lift to the station and I caught the express train to Glasgow Queen Street. The express only makes one stop, Glasgow Queen Street. Take note First Bus. Not twenty stops. It, the train also takes about 12 minutes to get to Glasgow from Croy. The ‘Express’ X3 takes about 40 minutes. I could go on, but what’s the use. We’re stuck with the slow bus. That said, the bus stops at all the stops it’s supposed to while the train sometimes misses a station if it’s running late, but only about 20 times a day says the Scotrail representative as if that’s ok then. Ok as long as you aren’t running to a tight schedule and need to get to a meeting, or an appointment, or anything really. Ok as long as it’s not the Scotrail representative who misses his station. He probably doesn’t have that problem anyway as Jaguars and Daimlers are fairly reliable cars, so he never has to travel by public transport.

It was raining and then sleeting in Glasgow. Such a change from yesterday when the sun shone almost all day, or so it seemed to us. Today I was out getting cloth, sorry, fabric, lets speak the language of the country we’re in. I was buying fabric for a waistcoat I’m making. It’s part of the Christmas present from Scamp. She bought me the pattern and I got to choose my fabric, then I have to make it. A waistcoat seemed easy to start with, but now that I’m getting to the nitty gritty of it, it’s not that simple. However, I got some help from the assistants in a couple of shops today and now have some Tweed, some Cotton, some Viscose lining and some Satin. Probably enough to make two waistcoats. Hopefully it will look a lot better than the boxers, Hazy. I was shocked at the price of some of the material (Material is similar to Fabric, I believe). I foolishly thought it was going to be fairly cheap to make your own clothes, it’s not. And all those new words I’m picking up. Now I know how my pupils felt when they met strange things like Tenon Saws, Sash Cramps and Ball Pein Hammers. Every skill has its own terminology and I’m beginning to learn the correct words and grammar for this skill.

Got a few photos round the town when I was wandering around, but most were rejected after I’d had a good look at them on the computer. The bloke crossing the road was a grab shot, but I liked it the best, so it’s my PoD.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get the paper pattern cut out for the waistcoat and as Scamp is going out tomorrow night, I might have a go at a mock up, hopefully without too much mockery!

Travelling on the ‘leccy – 6 January 2018

Today we got up early and drove to Croy to catch the train to Embra, but a surprise was in store!

This wasn’t a noisy old diesel train, this was a silent ‘leccy train, travelling by electricity! The future had arrived. It was seventy coaches long too, well, probably only about seven, but much longer than the usual three units. The future had arrived at last.

I’d like to say that the coaches were shining, sparkling and new, but they weren’t. They were someone else’s castoffs. You can’t expect Scotrail to pay for new platforms, new overhead power lines AND new carriages, be fair. Still the journey was smooth, comfortable and slightly slower than the old fashioned diesels. They did however get us to Haymarket much quieter than the old ones did.

I’m always a bit disappointed when I come out of the station at Haymarket. There is never a market there and very little evidence of hay. Is it like a Farmers Market which only arrives one or two days a month and we’re just not in Embra on those days? Perhaps it’s a sort of hidden, secret market that’s down an alleyway or round a corner and you need to know the password to be allowed entrance. Not that I’m at all interested in buying hay, it’s just that I hate the thought of missing out on something.

We walked up for coffee at Nero and on the way I saw today’s PoD just sitting there in front of me. The softness of the child’s bright pink woollen glove stood out so well against the clinical lines of the architecture, I just knew it would be PoD. I’d earlier taken the shot of the reflection of buildings, but the pink glove was the winner, by a mile.

After Nero, we walked down to Princes Street (No princes in evidence today) and on through a few shoe shops with no resulting purchases by Scamp, then up on to the Mound and across the Royal Mile to the Grassmarket heading for Tony Singh’s restaurant there. That was the cryptic message on yesterday’s blog. Not Ravi Shankar’s, but Tony Singh’s. However, it looked as if it was Under New Management because there was little evidence of Mr Singh’s sense of humour in the menu. It all looked very bland. Disappointed we crossed the road to Petit Paris where we knew from experience there was good wholesome French fare available, and so it turned out. Scamp had Courgette Soup and Poisson de Jour (Coley) and I had French Onion Soup and Plat de Jour (Toulouse Sausage) washed down with a glass or red wine, risking the wrath of the Scottish drink driving laws.

After lunch we wandered back down to Princes Street and walked through what used to be called the German Christmas Market, but which is now more likely to be the Polish folk selling Chinese copies of German artefacts. However, it was bright and cheery and everything was half price which must be a sickener for those who bought their Chinese knock-offs last week at full price. We didn’t buy anything, we were getting cold, so we just went for the rain home.

What a disappointment. It wasn’t a ‘leccy train, it was an old noisy diesel. What was worse was that it wasn’t seventy coaches long, just three. I felt we’d been sold short. However, the up side was that it was warm and it was a faster journey that the one in the morning.

Tomorrow it’s a Sunday Social Day, so we’re hoping to be dancing!

Untrained – 30 September 2017

We had intended to take the train to Embra today. Scamp even drove us to the station in her car, but …

When we got there we found out that due to safety checks on the line between Haymarket and Waverley, trains (if they weren’t cancelled) were stopping at Linlithgow, about 20 miles from Embra, and it was up to you to get from Linlithgow to Embra. That’s Scotrail for you. Make it up as you go along. If the problem is between Haymarket and Waverley, both in Embra, why are they stopping the trains 20 miles away? That’s a pretty big safety zone.  Must be the wrong kind of leaves on the line again.

Anyway, we told the nice ticket man that we wouldn’t be travelling on his maybe-not-cancelled train today and drove home to change cars and drive (me driving this time) to Perf, not Embra. It was a pleasant drive up the A9 to the Fair City of Perth. Car performed perfectly and I finally got the hang of the new cruise control. I also tried out the speed limiter, but that’s not as much fun. Best of all, I tried out Sport mode which gives you a nice little whack of G-force as you accelerate! Only to be used sparingly as it does eat up your fuel consumption. All in all it’s a really nice car to drive. I’m very impressed.

Perf was busy as usual on a weekend. Far too many people around I much prefer going on a weekday. Got some coffee, some tea and some dried fruit to make my breakfast compote. Fruit for the compote, there’s no coffee or tea in it. Just thought I’d make that clear. While we were there and while Scamp was shopping in Marks, I wandered round the outside of St John’s Kirk, the big church in the middle of the town. I got a sketch done. It’s a bit ropey, but with a bit of tweaking from the photo I took, it should do. Tomorrow is the start of Inktober 2017 and I need to get myself back in harness to do a sketch a day. There’s a wee challenge for you Hazy. One sketch every day, posted on Flickr. You can add it to my group if you want. Only one real rule. The predominant medium must be ink, hence the name. You too, JIC. Get started sketching. Fifteen minutes in your lunch break is all you need!!
Today’s PoD is a wide angle shot from the walk round the church. I also liked the monkey gargoyle!

A couple of weeks ago Scamp came across an envelope from a school venture with a £10 note in it. It was surplus money from a school trip we went on twenty odd years ago. It wasn’t my money and the school doesn’t exist any more, so today it went into a charity tin in the Heart Foundation shop in Perf. They will be able to use it. I’d already checked with the bank and it was still legal tender.

Back home, dinner was a Scamp speciality, Prawn Stir fry. Spicy and hot, but very, very good.

I’d been reading a book about painting with pastels in an Oxfam bookshop in Perf.  I don’t think you draw with pastels, you paint with them.  I hadn’t really used pastels, except for messing around with them for a graphics topic for school.  Today I pinned a sheet of Ingres paper on an old drawing board and painted a landscape.  The same one I’d been tentatively poking paint at for the last week.  This one took maybe half an hour?  It’s rough, but I like it.  Maybe I’ll fix it and frame it.

Tomorrow looks wet. I think we’re going dancing at night because the usual Sunday Social venue is double booked and we lose. Should still be fun.

The last day of Summer – 31 August 2017

According to the weather pixies, today is the last day of summer. When did it start? I think I must have blinked.

Sort of got off to a slow start today. We woke to blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  I’d thought of going to Helensburgh on the train (sorry JIC). Scamp had thought about going to Embra. We couldn’t agree on what to do and wasted too much time farting about.  In the end, we did neither. We went in to Glasgow on the train hoping to get me a pair of jeans in Debenhams. I’d got a pair in the sale last week and despite them having a button fly, they were really comfortable. Went today and they were full price again. Worse still, they didn’t have my size. Bummer. Had a coffee in Nero and came home, but not before I’d got a couple of photos with the Teazer on Queen Street. PoD is above.

After dinner Scamp tried to buy the jeans from Debenhams website, but although it promised next day delivery to your nearest shop, after choosing our nearest shop, in fact any shop, it said we could collect them on Saturday. What happened to Friday? Don’t they do Fridays? Maybe the delivery staff have a wee party on Fridays and customers can go to hell. It used to be, you wrote a letter of complaint to head office about stuff like this. Now you post it on their website for all to see, something like this:

Tried to order a pair of jeans today (Thursday) with ‘click and collect’. Order before 9pm it said and you can collect tomorrow after 12 noon it said. At the checkout I selected the Stirling store. You can collect after 12pm on Saturday it said. Saturday is not the next day after Thursday, Debenhams. Oh yes, and why are Scottish customers warned that they may have to wait another hour before their parcels are delivered? Is there a problem getting the parcels through the customs at Hadrian’s Wall? Filled in the survey, but of course there’s nowhere for you to put in your email address for a reply. I wonder why??

This morning it was the car’s turn for a clean out. Scamp had ‘done the stairs’ with the new Dyson and it was my turn to clean out the car. It does a great job, but the battery lasted about 5minutes of full power. What a handy little tool it is. It’s now been charged twice more, once to finish cleaning the car and once to get it back to a full charge. I think it’s a ‘keeper’.

Tomorrow we go for a test drive in a Juke. Hence the clean up of the Megane.

The Lost Scotsman and the Lost Americans – 24 August 2017

Most railway stations have a newsagent or a coffee takeaway nearby. Not Lenzie. Lenzie has a psychologists office. I think that says a lot about the town. On the other hand, maybe it says more about me, because I noticed! Anyway, just an observation. Take of it what you will.

As you will have gathered, I took the train in to Glasgow. I managed to get the only, yes, the ONLY parking space in the enormous Croy Station carpark. Granted it was about a half mile walk to the station, but I was parked, and in a space. Not on a flower garden, not up on the kerb or in a turning circle, but in a space. On a Thursday, that is no mean feat. Had a wander around Glasgow. I had thought about having my hair cut, but rejected that until the autumn sets in, in September. What I was looking for was a cheap box of water soluble oil paints. I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but they do exist and are very good. They have the feel of oil paints without the need for solvents. The smell of the linseed oil or the turps doesn’t bother me, but it does leave a lingering smell in the room that permeates to the whole house. I was also looking for a small watercolour block that I got in Tiger at the weekend and swapped for a roll of canvas when I met Fred yesterday. Like I wrote earlier, it wasn’t the best watercolour paper, but it was cheap and a neat size. Unfortunately the first shop I went to had none and the second only had the larger size which would have cockled (buckled) more when I put a wet wash on. On the way back I bumped into a group of young American guys (note the capital letter – If you don’t know what I mean, click here). They were lost and looking for Gordon Street. I couldn’t for the life of me remember where it was. I said sorry and walked on, then I realised that Gordon Street was the next street down. Walked back and told them. I also asked if they were going to the station. They said no, they were looking for a sports shop called Reeves. Reeves is a paint manufacturer, I was on my way to get some paint, so I just shrugged and said good luck. I was going the same direction as they were, so not wishing to crowd them, I slowed down. Almost at Gordon Street and the database in my head filtered out the answer to their problem. The sports shop was Greaves. One of the oldest sports shops in the UK if not the world. Tapped the leader on the shoulder and pointed at the illuminated sign behind him. His smile told me that’s where they were going. Isn’t it nice to do someone a good turn? The answer, which can be on a postcard if you wish, is YES!

Found the paints for a bargain price in Cass Art and got a canvas the exact size and proportions I wanted in Millers. Pity about the Tiger watercolour block, but I’ll keep looking for it. Headed home to find that they have eventually started the rebuild of Queen Street Station with hoardings all round the block and only a small entrance / exit to Dundas Street. Of course, because it was such a small entrance, some idiot english (same rules apply) family of about ten folk were blocking it. You don’t do that in Glasgow. People will just barge past, through and over you whichever takes their fancy. I did the ‘past’ option. Others took the ’through’. I didn’t see any ‘over’ supporters, but then it was Thursday. Now if it had been a Saturday just after full-time and Rangers had been robbed by a blind referee, there would have been carnage.

Today’s PoD was taken on Argyle Street and is entitled Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear.

Only had to wait about ten minutes for a train and that brings us neatly back to the start!

Met Duncan for a ‘wee chat’ and to hand over some books tonight. It was really good to hear his version of what day to day life is like in the school three years down the line. I really enjoyed the catch up and will probably take up his offer of a visit to see how the department works now. However, I have no intention of taking up his other offer of me doing ‘supply’. Oh no, I have a different life now and nothing will make me give it up.

Tomorrow June and Ian are coming for lunch.  Pannacotta is already made, cooling and hopefully setting.