Today we went to Embra – 18 January 2020

It’s ages since we’ve been in Embra. Not since last year at least (Ha, ha).

Still sticking to the “Up and out before 11” mantra, we headed off for the 10.40am train from Croy. On the way we picked up the tickets for our London trip, so, a tick in two boxes. Fairly slow train, and in the same carriage as a foursome of what Scamp called “Apprentice Witches” who looked as if they were off on a Ladies Only weekend, lubricated with a bottle of cheap champagne. And why not, even ladies wot lunch are allowed a weekend off the leash occasionally.

Got off at Haymarket and were surprised with the number of polis in attendance, van loads of them. Hearts must be playing at home, I thought. I was right. Hearts were at home to Airdrie. We walked up and over to Nero on Lothian Road for our morning coffee. Suitably refreshed, we should have walked through the Farmers’ Market and over to the Grassmarket, but today was different. Instead, we walked down to Princes Street and then along its length to The Bridges. Walked over The Bridges and on to the Royal Mile. It was cold. Not bitterly cold like it sometimes is in Embra, but cold enough to require my wooly Buff, wooly had and a pair of gloves. At least it was bright as well as cold.  Took some foties on the Royal Mile and then we ducked down to the Grassmarket. This was really strange. We were going in exactly the opposite direction to what we usually go and the vistas of architecture we were seeing were totally different to those we usually see. “A change is as good as a rest”, they say and it was proving true. One thing didn’t change and that was lunch in Petit Paris in the Grassmarket. Truly French restaurant with a French menu and served by French blokes. Scamp had Crayfish in Garlic Butter and a main of Salmon Fillet with Thyme served with mash. I had Garlic and Pea soup and a main of Beef Bourguignon. Both meals were just as good as we expected them to be. I even risked the wrath of Nick the Chick with a glass or red wine.

To continue our ‘Wrong Way Round’ walk, we walked through the Farmers’ Market that was just starting to close for the day, and where I got today’s PoD of a bloke enjoying the view of the castle from the comfort of a deck chair. Then out past the Usher Hall and back to Haymarket for the train home. A much quieter train home, now that the Apprentice Witches were suitably sozzled and off making a noise elsewhere.

Not a bad day. Pity it was so cold, but the lovely meal in Petit Paris made up for the lack of warmth. PoD was indeed the bloke on the deck chair, but there are others on Flickr if you care to visit.

Tomorrow we believe there may be dancing at the Record Factory.

On the slow train – 20 December 2019

Today we thought we’d take the slow train to Glasgow, from Greenfaulds. Slower, but with more interesting scenery.

So easy to park at Greenfaulds, compared with Croy with its overcrowded car park. OK, the journey took longer, but we weren’t in a hurry. The journey took almost 25 minutes which is not a lot longer than the time from Croy. Thankfully we didn’t have to get out the train at Springburn and change trains, or as I recall, wait for the train to change tracks and then get back in again.

While Scamp was looking for unspecified articles, I went up to level 3 in JL to look at the toys. Of course, as it was before Christmas, all toys were at premium prices, but it was worthwhile looking to see what might and might not be available much cheaper after Christmas. Of course, I’m not allowed to buy anything else until at least 2030 <wink>. Walked up Sausage Roll Street and had coffee in Costa. It really must only be Cumbersheugh Costa that make such poor coffee. The flat white I had was fine. Back down again and on to George Square where today’s PoD came from. Finally we got the train back again to Greenfaulds.

I knew I had one in the bag, but that didn’t prevent me from taking a walk over to St Mo’s. Just missed two deer, but the light was so low I’d have been hard put to get any decent images. I really need to go further afield these days to get some fresh scenery.

Still having problems with the new ON1 2020, but I uninstalled it and then installed a fresh copy. Now things seem to be running a bit better. However, now my NAS drive is having problems. White light is flashing which generally means that it’s rebuilding its catalog. It may be time to put it out to pasture and get something more dependable. That’s a problem for another day.

Tomorrow we may go out for a walk. Just to be out in the open air without any shops would be a blessing.

Diwali and French cuisine – 26 October 2019

We heard about the Diwali festival on the radio yesterday and Scamp decided it was a fair excuse to visit our eastern neighbours – Embra.

Actually our next door neighbours woke us just after 8am with the sawing and banging associated with having more decking laid in their back garden. We were up and out almost in time to catch the 10.30 train to Embra. The key word there is “almost”. We missed it by seconds. Not to worry, we walked back to the car and waited in relative comfort for the next one. Well, if it was you, would you rather sit on a cold aluminium seat on a station platform with a cool 1ºc breeze blowing or would you sit in your cooling, but 12ºc car with soft fabric seats? I rest my case, yer honour.

Caught the next train and luckily chose the right carriage to get a seat. I’d my phone in my pocket, but, of course, my headphones were in my other jacket. Typical. Never mind it was good watching the sunny, if Arctic, countryside whizz past. There was a zoomer in the carriage. I thought he was German or possibly Austrian. Scamp thought he was Dutch, but he was definitely from the Planet Zanussi. He kept asking people questions with the Columbo catch phrase “I have one question.” He also seemed to holding a conversation with his phone, not on his phone, but with it. Really strange. Never met a German / Austrian / Dutch Zoomer before.

While he went off to find Kirkcaldy, we walked up towards the Nero for coffee. As we were walking through the architectural canyons that link the Western Approach Road with Lothian Road, we chanced upon a window cleaner washing the windows on one of the canyon sides with an enormously long brush. Strangely I’d never wondered how they washed those window. Now I know. Rattled off a half a dozen shots and knew right away that I had a potential PoD. Coffee and a pastry in Costa then a walk up through the farmers market and on to the Grassmarket. I could see Scamp’s eyes light up as we got near the Petit Paris restaurant and knew resistance was useless. That was going to be our lunch venue.

Today’s topic for sketching was Urban Sketch. It was now about 3ºc, but with windchill it would be nearer 1ºc, so I doubted that I’d be doing anything urban and still retaining my fingers, so we went for a walk instead, but just in case I’d get the opportunity, I got a cheap sketch book in Greyfriars Art Shop. Then on to the Meadows and, because the sun was in our eyes and it was blinding, we took a detour round the University, then doubled back when we found we were near Bristo Square. From there it was an easy jaunt back to the Grassmarket and Petit Paris.

Got a table easily downstairs in the dungeon. I had Lentil Stew with Bacon and Sausage. Scamp had Pan Fried Chicken Breast with Forestiere Sauce. Both were lovely, although I had an upset stomach later and the only thing I could blame was that lentil stew. Half a glass of red wine washed down my lunch and a glass and a half of the same washed down Scamp’s. Thanks for that Nicola, ya bastard!

Just managed to catch the end of the Diwali Festival group walking and dancing their way across Embra. There were two big white horses pulling the ceremonial carriage. When they were stopped on The Mound, one of them felt the need to receive itself of excess liquid. Dear me, these horses can carry a fair amount of water! I reckon it stood there for about five minutes “emptying its tanks”. Needless to say, it being Embra, after the procession had passed, the last vehicle was a street sweeper! Can’t have the horses messing up their clean streets!

Decided we’d been fed and watered and seen part of the procession, so we headed for the train and caught it this time with just a few minutes to spare. No foreign Zoomers on it, just some home-grown ones.

I chose to draw our last five apples as a replacement for the missing “Urban Sketch”. I was quite pleased with the result.

Tomorrow we have no plans. We don’t even know the predicted temperature. It’s supposed to be sunny, so we may go for a walk.

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.