Beer is the answer, now what was the question? – 30 April 2019

A day in town with the guys and being a good Samaritan.

Scamp offered me a run to the train station to have a 10min trip into Glasgow, rather than the 45min trip the X3 forces on me. I was meeting the Auld Guys for a few beers, some adult conversation and a cheap lunch. Before that I had some time to spare, so I went for a look in JL. Where I saw a bloke attempting to buy a camera for his daughter. She wanted one with a viewfinder, but the one he had his eye on didn’t have one. The assistant told him that nothing in that price range had viewfinders. She went to get the keys to the cabinet to show him some considerably more expensive ones, that’s when the Good Samaritan butted in. I pointed to a Teazer (TZ70) which was much closer to his price range than the £650 Sony the assistant was touting and told them that it had a viewfinder. Even better I had my Teazer in my pocket to show him. He seemed happy that it had a viewfinder and gave it over to his daughter so that she could try it. She said it was just what she was looking for. By then the assistant had returned and the man pointed at the Teazer in the case and said that “This Gentleman” (that’s me by the way) “says that one has a viewfinder”. The assistant agreed that the Lumix was a good make and confirmed that it did indeed have a viewfinder. I left them to test it out for themselves. I hate to see people being given that kind of sales pitch. A Gentleman and a Good Samaritan and it wasn’t even 11.30am!

Met up with the other three in the Horse Shoe Bar. It looked like a pensioners day out today. Not one person under the age of 60 drinking in that bar. Val and Jack couldn’t make it. Jim B couldn’t come today for some undisclosed reason. Had a good gossip about school stuff we don’t have to worry about anymore, then went upstairs for lunch. Three courses for a fiver! That’s a cheap lunch. After that it was home time.

Fred and I got the train home and Scamp very kindly dropped Fred off before we went home too. A good day out.  Scamp had managed to get the grass cut while I was away and just in time too, because when we were going home it started to drizzle.  It’s good for the garden!

Today’s PoD was taken from the top of Buchanan Street in the town.

Tomorrow it’s dancing again. Hopefully better than last week.

Up and out at stupid o’clock – 5 February 2019

I’d forgotten that 7.30AM existed. I used to be out the door and on my way to work at that time. That was just over four years ago and you tend to remember the good times and ignore the bad. 7.30AM was one of the bad times. Defrosted the car and picked up Scamp to take her to the train station. Her and half of Cumbersheugh seemed to on the way to the station at Croy this morning. Dropped her at the ticket office and drove off to park and walked back to check that she had caught the train. The train was already at the station by the time I got there, but I saw that familiar red hat on a person that was sitting in a seat. There’s only one hat like that in the world, Hazy!

With her safely on the first stage of her journey to Inverness to meet her sister, I drove home, had my breakfast, read my emails and went back to bed for an hour. I should have gone out and photographed that beautiful dawn sky before I went to bed, but I didn’t and I so regret it now.

When I got up for the second time today it was lunchtime and I had the last ladleful of my soup, then I went out to get a PoD under a much different sky. The clouds were Scottish Grey and as I walked to the car, the rain started. I drove down to the Luggie Water and found the snowdrops which were now blooming nicely. Using my glove as a cushion for the Oly and a Moleskine notebook as a wee tent to protect the lens from rain I grabbed half a dozen shots at various distances and quickly checked them to make sure they’d all worked and they had.

Back home, processed the photos and made my dinner which was chilli con CARNE, because Scamp would be having a posh lunch in Inverness, so I could have a meat dinner tonight. Dumped the chilli into the slow cooker and left it for an hour or two, plenty time to get my sketch of the day done. Today it was to be two oranges, a pear and an apple. I made the mistake of having four items in the sketch. Every beginner know you should always group odd numbered items. It was the apple that went wrong. If anyone asks me about it, I’ll just say that the apple was old and was getting a bruise at the bottom. I liked the oranges and the pear. Unfortunately you can’t clone out mistakes on a watercolour.

Scamp sent a text to say she was just passing Stirling Castle about 8.30pm and I got ready to drive in to Glasgow. Picked her up just after 9pm after doing a detour because the motorway was being repaired.

Tomorrow it’s Dancing day. Hopefully it will be Blackfriars in the afternoon and STUC salsa at night. Chilli was fine, but just a little too mild.

Cauld Reekie – 2 February 2019

Today we went to Embra. About a couple of thousand rugby supporters went too. I think they were all on our train.

We’d been promising ourselves that we’d go to Embra since well before Christmas, but with the combination of health problems and rodent problems, not to mention the train problems, we didn’t get. Today we did. The seven coach ‘leccy train was mobbed, but we did get a seat and of course we got off with all the rugby supporters going to see Scotland get humped by Italy. I hope they weren’t too disappointed when our team won! It was cold enough to freeze the snotters dripping from my nose as we walked up to our usual Nero. How cold must it be when you’re wearing a kilt and sitting in Murrayfield for a couple of hours? I suppose most of them had some form of alcoholic central heating so wouldn’t feel the cold too much.

We walked through the farmer’s market and I got a bit of shoulder mutton for tomorrow’s dinner. It should be cooked like steak apparently. Hopefully I’ll be singing its praises tomorrow. After that we walked along Rose Street, had a coffee in Waterstones in Princes Street and then just missed the train home, so had to sit for half an hour in Haymarket. That’s where today’s PoD came from. The poor woman must have wondered what the bloke across the concourse was doing, and why is he laying his camera on the floor? Much quieter train home while the tartan clad hordes roared their team on to victory.

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was a bowl of pears and I’m pretty happy with it. I just wish Facebook would get it into its tiny head that I’m not selling it!!!

For tomorrow there are no plans. We’ll just see what the day brings.

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.

Half an hour of sunshine – 30 November 2018

That’s about all we got today. Took the opportunity and said thank you very much.

Today’s weather didn’t appear to be fierce enough to qualify for a name, but it was a bit windy and a lot wet. Drove Scamp to the train station for her expedition into the heart of a Glasgow Christmas. Do you know, yesterday I used the word ‘sortie’ to describe today’s visit. Last night, when I was reading the blog entry for the 29th November 2017, I discovered that I’d used exactly the same word for exactly the same visit! A creature of habit, that’s me. After dropping Scamp off at the station in the rain, I drove to Tesco to get some veg for tonight’s dinner which was going to be Aloo Saag, but later changed to Paella.

Back home I’d intended tidying up the bedroom (again). Again, it didn’t happen. Got a phone call from the Environmental Health to say that the Rodent Investigator would call on Tuesday. That should give me plenty of time to tidy that room … perhaps!

In the afternoon, I decided that Paella would be a lot easier to make than Aloo Saag, so I drove to Kilsyth to get the makings. Waiting to pay at the till Scamp texted to say she was on the way home by train. Luckily the station is on the road home, so I just managed to get there before the train arrived in the rain. From just after 10am until about 2.30pm the rain had been doing its best to make life miserable in the central belt of Scotland. After we drove home the sun came out. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity and grabbed my camera bag, put on my leaky boots and walked over to St Mo’s. Caught a nice bit of blue sky with fluffy clouds and just a hint of sunshine. The rest of the sunshine, my dear readers is fake, but it looks the part and it the photo became PoD!

That about sums today up. It rained, then for half an hour the sun shone weakly before setting.

Tomorrow we may go shopping in Stirling. What fun!

A day in the Toon – 27 November 2018

Off into Glasgow on my own to see if Christmas has arrived yet.

Scamp offered me a lift to the train station and I accepted. I couldn’t face JL with all its glitter and sparkling lights and xmas songs. Instead I wandered down Bucky Street which had glitter and sparkling lights and buskers who weren’t singing xmas songs yet. Wanted to send a pic to Scamp, but forgot that my data allowance is down to 18MB! Then I remembered that Glasgow has free WiFi now, so got connected fairly easily to BT. Walked into HMV and noticed a new Dylan album. Walked outside and downloaded it to Spotify using my new best friend, BT!

Managed a couple of photos in Glasgow, outside the GOMA, but the light was pretty poor, so the photos ended up a bit grainy. However, with a bit of help from ON1, I managed a fairly decent PoD. I called it “Cold Caller”.

Bus home and stir-fry for dinner. Scamp had already been out for lunch with one of her friends, but she helped me finish it off.

That was it for the day. None of the half a dozen rum ’n’ cokes or three course dinners we had last week. Just boring dull Scotland.

It appears we have some sort of rodent in the house. We’ve heard it occasionally in the past, but now it’s becoming more apparent that it has to be dealt with. In the past we’ve had problems with mice in a cupboard, but after despatching about ten of them over the course of a month they seem to have disappeared. This one may be a squirrel and we need professional help to dispose of it. Phoning the council tomorrow and we’ll see what they can do. Apparently they are quite efficient. We’ll see.

Dancing tomorrow we hope!

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.