The day the locksmith came – 15 May 2019

I was up early as you can imagine and even started fiddling around with the lock again, but had breakfast before I phoned for a locksmith. With no idea who was good, who was bad, well there was one obvious bad one. The only review he had on Google was one star and one word “Cowboy”. I avoided him and went for one on Yell. The bloke said he’d be out between 10 and 10.30 in the morning. He was as good as his word and he had the door opened in TEN SECONDS!! I kid you not.  Unfortunately, that was only half the story. The locking mechanism was broken and needed to be replaced. That he did with good speed and good humour. Paid him and he was off to Bellshill to fix a garage door that wouldn’t lock. I’d recommend him again to anyone.

That left us just enough time for lunch and to drive in to Glasgow for some Jive, some Quickstep, a bit of Cha-Cha and to finish off, a wee Waltz. Michael showed us the next part of our Jive routine and we also had a go at New Yorkers in Cha-Cha and a bit of the next stage in Quickstep. He really does fly through the routines.

Home and after dinner Scamp drove us to the STUC for Intermediate Salsa which was fun and Beginners Salsa which was not. Two girls, one slightly the worse for wear and one three sheets to the wind kind of spoiled the class. Yes, salsa is meant to be fun, but not to the extent that you giggle all the way through the class. That’s called Steamin’.

PoD was a hastily shot photo of the first flowering Aquilegia. Must do better. Sketch topic today was A Tree. I chose Chestnut and the result is here. It started out well, but I ran out of time. A common complaint on a Wednesday.

Tomorrow? I don’t have a clue. Today was hot. Temperature according to the car was max 25ºc and I could believe it. Tomorrow is to be cooler and not as sunny.

Stirling – 27 April 2019

Went to Stirling today to get nothing in particular and we were successful.

It was a lovely day when we started out, but we could see that things were a bit more changeable in the Stirling direction. Parked in our usual place and discovered that in May the charges go up by 40%!! That may seem like an outrage, but it still means that we can park for a whole day for £2. You’d be pushed to get an hour’s parking for that in Glasgow. Paid up and walked through a steadily increasing drizzle to the Thistle Centre. Went to Waterstones and picked up a likely looking book. A ‘real’ book with pages and a cover and everything. First ‘real’ book I’ve bought in ages. Scamp found the trousers she’d been looking for in M&S, so we both got something.

Talked for a while to Mhairi who had a stall in the centre this weekend. Had coffee in the usual Nero and came home. Drove through more April showers on the motorway and decided we’d eat from the remainder of yesterday’s dinner. ‘Rats’ for Scamp, Tagine for me. Before that, I just had time for a quick walk over St Mo’s before the rain came on heavy. Got today’s PoD which is a rapidly forming pine cone. It’s only just over a month since they looked like this, a little pineapple. Enjoyed the walk, but there was definitely the hint of rain on the wind, so I curtailed the walk and came home. On the way home I found a bunch of flowering Cowslips. I’d just been reading a year ago’s blog post about finding a bunch of these flowers blooming at the same time of year, despite 2017/2018’s terrible winter. They had a much easier time of it this winter, but still flowered in the same week.

Watched a scary Baku GP qualifying. Two drivers crashing at exactly the same place. Both unhurt, but badly damaged cars.

That was it for today. Nothing exciting and no real cooking either.

Tomorrow we may go dancing at Mango if it’s on.

No Dancin’ but YES to cyclin’ – 21 April 2019

Scamp was going out to a 65th party tonight, so no dancin’. Not really a problem because it was going to be hot. Too hot to trot!

First a spot of gardening was the order of the day. Scamp, of course, went overboard planting at least half a dozen pots of herbs and other plants. Me? I took the measured approach and planted a line of peas, some leeks seeds and replanted my cyclamen that seemed to die off for some reason in the start of the year. It’s more a hopeful planting than a confident one.

After lunch Scamp soaked up some rays while I took the Dewdrop out for a run. The wind was a bit stronger than I thought it would be, but it was a fairly enjoyable run. Very few photos to be had, so the best of the day and the PoD was the catkins at the top of the page.

Dinner tonight was roast veg and the hogget steak from yesterday’s farmers market. First attempt was a bit too pink for me, so on Scamp’s suggestion I gave it another ten minutes or so in the oven. That was just right. I’ll try to remember that for next time. Scamp’s roast veg was lovely, although I think the roasting tray is now a goner because the non-stick coating is not even sticking to the metal. They just don’t make things to last these days.

Scamp was getting a lift to the party (Girls only!), so that left me with an hour sitting in the sun. Unfortunately I was the taxi driver going to pick them up later, so I had to forego the bottle of beer that would have made the seat in the sun complete.

Tomorrow we have no plans. Maybe that bottle of beer and another seat in the sun.

Another lazy day – 14 April 2019

Nobody seemed to want to go out today. I don’t think a single car moved from the car park outside the house.

We decided to follow the crowd for once and refuse to go anywhere. Dinner today was sorted. Fish for Scamp and Lamb Shank for me, so we didn’t have to go and attempt to buy Tesco. Neither of us had any pressing engagements to complete. We’d watched a boring Chinese F1 GP and after lunch Scamp was waiting for the bridal party from our new next door neighbours to parade to the waiting car. It may have been a lazy morning for us, but with hairdressers, beautician, photographer and chauffeur all visiting, it must have been that old ‘80s band Crowded House for them. Once they had left for the ceremony, we settled down to … do nothing.

Eventually I was forced to get up and make some bread. It’s ages since I’ve hand kneaded bread dough. You’d be surprised at how many steps it adds to you Fitbit! Left the bread to do its first prove and put my lamb shank in the slow cooker (we’re really getting our money’s worth from it this weather).

With the bread successfully proved, I gave it another quick kneading for good luck (and more steps) and got ready to go out and get some photos. Took the Nikon with me for a change, because it hasn’t been out in a long while and it gets jealous of the Olys and we can’t have that. Fed the birds on stale bread and leftover flatbread from yesterday’s dinner. They didn’t seem to mind either and both sets of stodge and it was soon gone. Today’s PoD is of a Haw. Fruit of the Hawthorn tree.

Came home, had dinner with more pakora than we could eat as a starter, so the rest is waiting in the fridge for lunch tomorrow. Lamb shank was a bit fatty, but tasted good in its mint marinade from the butcher. Scamp had a slice of lightly smoked salmon and of course we both had potatoes. Sorry JIC.

Spoke to JIC at night and made plans for the next two days.

Tomorrow will be a Gems day so I will go out. Maybe cycling if it’s warm and sunny shiny. Maybe painting if it’s dull and cold like today.

“But I lost the ring” – 28 March 2019

A visit to the doc was the order of the day.

The pain in my side wasn’t decreasing, well, I didn’t think it would, but I was walking wounded, so it wasn’t all that serious. Phoned the surgery and the nurse phoned me back to say it would be best to go to A&E rather than the surgery, so off we went, with Scamp driving, to Monklands. Monklands gets a bad reputation, but we’ve never had any real bother there. Today was no exception.

Spoke to the woman at A&E and she took my details. Sat for about 15 mins before I was called through. Nurse took my BP and oxygen levels then attempted to remove my wedding ring which was restricting the blood to my finger, but it was a no-go. I guessed that would be the case, because I’ve not taken it off for about twenty or thirty years, since my finger joint has grown bigger. She decided to leave it for a while to allow the swelling to reduce a bit. The doc came in and gave me a quick hands on check for broken ribs, then sounded me. Said it was ok, but he wanted a chest X-ray just to make sure. X-ray turned out to be clear, no cracked or broken ribs and the chest cavity was clear, no deflation. He recommended Paracetamol to ease the pain, but wasn’t happy about the state of my finger and suggested that they might be better having another go at removing the ring.

After trying lubricant on it, the famous thread trick from YouTube and finally getting an auxiliary to try using elastic instead of thread which is apparently the recommended method now, it wasn’t for coming off. Finally, I made the decision to have it cut off, the ring, not the finger! It only took about five minutes to have it cut through and prised open. It’s a strange feeling not having the ring there, but almost immediately the swelling on my finder started to go down, so it was the right thing to do.

I took the opportunity to ask the doc about my egg shaped lump on my elbow that had appeared last November. I’d already checked on the InterWeb and was almost sure it was Bursitis. He confirmed that it was and told me to apply Ibuprofen gel and wear an elbow support bandage. I like to get the full value from my NHS, so I had an X-ray, an examination, a ring removed and a confirmation of a minor ailment, all in one morning.

After lunch I went for a walk to St Mo’s to celebrate and that’s where today’s PoD came from. It’s a dogwood bud just starting to open up.

Today’s title came from “Tangled up in Blue” by Dylan. I didn’t actually lose the ring. It’s in the display cabinet at home waiting to go to the jeweller’s to be brazed together again, probably after having a little bit of filling to increase its diameter.

Tomorrow I’m off to a retiral in Glasgow.

Gareth blows in – 12 March 2019

Storm Gareth has been rumbling around all day.

The highlight of the day was going for the ’messages’. We only went as far as Tesco, but it was far enough with the high winds and the driving rain. Thankfully there wasn’t any snow, just some sleet.

I did a bit of painting using the Inktense sticks to get some interesting colours in the sky. Also, because the sticks are actually solid ink, it’s possible to layer colours without disrupting the original layers. That’s something you can’t do with watercolour paints. It’s still been a bit messy and will take a while to get to grips with.

After lunch I thought I should go out and get some photos in the spells of sunshine we were having. I walked over to St Mo’s and got a shot of some daffys growing on the banking at the side of the M80 slip road. The daffodils are one of the few things that the Development Corporation got right in Cumbersheugh. However NLC undid all the good work when they dug up the flowers on Central Way to leave the banking clear for the £0.5m ‘waves’ that now grace the dual carriageway.
I stood for a while just in the treeline at St Mo’s listening to and watching the big Scots Pines bending in the wind. One of them was bending so much that you could see the roots rising out of the peat. I didn’t stay there too long. I must check tomorrow to see if it’s still standing.

Came home and made Butternut Squash soup and Scamp made Potatoes and Cabbage with the addition of bacon for me. An ideal meal for such a cold windy day.

Tomorrow we may be dancing. It depends on what Gareth says.

Out to Lunch again – 5 March 2019

Today as I expected we were going to look for more flowers and have lunch too. Both these things are becoming habit forming.

In the morning I broke my rule and painted a bunch of grapes instead of an apple. I hope that won’t cause any great rift in the space-time continuum. When I came downstairs Scamp broke the bad news that there was no Glasgow flight for any of the cruise holidays we had on our short list. Not to worry, I’m sure something will turn up.

Scamp wanted to go out to Torwood Garden Centre to get more flowers for some spring colour. I suggested that on the way back we could go to The Boathouse, the new improved Boathouse which seems to have changed its name to Hebo House. Look on Flickr to find out what I’m talking about. She even offered to drive us there, which made it an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Drove to Torwood, loaded more plants of a flowering persuasion into the car and drove to Hebo House. It’s a much more welcoming place than the one that was there before. It was all style and no substance as I recall. As usual when testing a place we had our standard lunch. No starters, Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp and a burger (no mayo) for me. I hate mayo on a burger. It just makes the whole thing slippery and difficult to hold, not to mention the mess it makes on my jerseys. Both meals passed muster, although the mushy peas with Scamps F ’n’ C were inedible and the coffee was poor. We’ll go back all being well. When we were going in I noticed a photogenic tree on the far bank of the canal and was going to take a quick snap, then decided I’d get one on the way out. When we were leaving, it was bucketing with rain, but I stuck to my guns and grabbed two quick shots. One of them later became PoD after a fair bit of work.

Back home I made some beef olives, froze two of them and the rest go in the fridge for tomorrow’s dinner. I was just finishing when Scamp shouted that she’d found a cruise with a Glasgow departure. Superb! We booked it on the spot. We shall sail the seas again. Not for quite a while yet, but that gives us something to look forward to. Not only that, we’ve got a balcony cabin!! I can’t wait, but I’ll just have to. The booking this year was a joint effort with both of us looking and poring over web pages for hours.

Went back upstairs and painted a poor effort of a couple of apples and some grapes. It covers the remit, so the space-time continuum should be ok, but it wasn’t a great painting.

Tomorrow we are intending to go dancing in the afternoon and at night. We’ll see how it pans out. We also need to get some practise done in the morning.

A Sociable Sunday – 24 February 2019

After a lazy start, the lazy theme continued.

We were going to a Sunday Social in Mango today, the rest of the day was planned round that. In the morning I divided up the mince I’d bought last week and vacuumed it into bags for freezing then started on cleaning the coffee maker. I’ve had the Gaggia coffee machine for years and it gives sterling service, but occasionally the cup holder leaks hot water into the coffee and the grounds holder comes away from the holder just when you don’t want it to. It makes a terrible racket when it’s actually making coffee and all of these are signs that it wants a good clean. It’s not been done this year, so today was the day. Stripped it down as far as I dare and cleaned all the bits I could reach before re-assembling in the time honoured Haynes manner (re-assembly is the reverse of disassembly). It made an even worse racket until I managed to get the airlock out of the system. After that it ran as sweet as a nut and the coffee tasted better too.

By then it was lunch time and as we wouldn’t be eating dinner until well after 7pm, we had what could be called a substantial lunch. Watched the Andrew Marr program. The only political program I’d watch given the opportunity and then started today’s painting which I’d already decided would be a Rudbeckia. Sketched and painted from a photo taken over at St Mo’s during the summer. It fitted the bill perfectly on a dull day like today. With the painting well under way, I went out for a walk to see what I could find worth snapping. What I found was a tiny tree climbing snail about 3mm diameter and some larch flowers which when fully blooming look exactly like tiny pineapples! The snail won PoD. Back home in time for a shower, a shave and a change of clothes and we were off to Glasgow.

It took a while to find somewhere to park now that Sauchihall Street is in the throes of being pedestrianised. Eventually found a space further away from Mango than I’d have liked, but at least we were in a legal space that didn’t cost us a bean. Parking is free on a Sunday in Glasgow City Centre.

Mango was jumping, but we found a chair to sit our bags on and hang our jackets over the back of. Squeezed ourselves into a space on the floor and had a few dances. Saw some folk from AdS salsa classes although most of the dancers were either from Mango or one of the other two dance classes in the city. Only stayed for an hour because the floor was too crowded and Scamp was getting buffeted by those with more energy than skill. Eventually, we agreed that we’d had enough and drove home.

Spoke to JIC after dinner and exchanged gossip for half an hour or so. Completed the painting and was happy with the finished article, so that’s what you see here. I’m not a great fan of spatter on a painting, but in this case it suited the subject. Traced round the main flower on tracing paper, cut it out and used it as a mask for the spatter.

Tomorrow is Gems day. I may take the Dewdrop out for a run.

Not the best of days – 12 February 2019

Some days are good and some are simply bad. Today was the latter.

The tree in the garden that was trimmed yesterday doesn’t look at all like we thought it would. It may take some time for it to grow into itself again, but for just now it just looks a bit ugly. We’re both agreed on that and we’re both to blame for not making it clearer to Nicky what we wanted. However, like that awful haircut we’ve all had, it will eventually grow back. Unfortunately, trees take longer than hair to grow. We may make a bird box and fix it to the tree, at least then we’ll have something interesting to watch.

It’s always going to be a bit of a wrench having to go to another salsa class and now we have confirmation that the advanced class is to close in March. We’ve discussed it a lot in the last 24 hours and have come to the conclusion that it’s not just one reason for the lack of people, there are lots of reasons:

  • The class itself was becoming stale with long complicated moves that nobody in their right mind would attempt to dance in a club.
  • The Advanced class were always being merged with classes one or two levels below us. The constant merging of classes meant that the more advanced members were having to ‘tread water’ while newer, less experienced people caught up. When they did catch up, another class would merge in and the cycle would begin again. People simply didn’t want to pay for a class where they weren’t learning anything new.
  • Jamie is a great teacher, but only when he’s there. I realise he has other commitments with his work, but when he’s not there and less able teachers are taking his place, our interest suffers and some people, again, will move away.
  • There have been comments in class about some people, usually leaders, who are too rough and are injuring some of the followers. Scamp, herself has had a few bruises from these meetings. That is a definite reason for some of the followers leaving.

I really don’t know what the answer is, there may not even be one. We’ll try tomorrow’s ‘Advanced’ class. We’ll give it a fair test and it may be the salvation of Salsa in Glasgow. At least it will be with Jamie as a teacher.

I gave both our cars a quick wash and brush up today. They needed it, then when Scamp was out to lunch with Mags I hung out the washing and that’s where I saw today’s PoD! Scamp’s Christmas Roses are still in flower and are changing colour slightly. It looks like they are going to be sliding towards pink.

Today’s sketch is four Sugardrop tomatoes I spied when I was making paella tonight. A quick 40min sketch, but with decent technique and using a real brush, not a waterbrush for a change.

Tomorrow it’s dancing in the afternoon and hopefully dancing at night too.

Short back and sides – 11 February 2019

Nicky, the arborist, was coming today to give our rowan tree a short back and sides. He didn’t mess around.

He arrived just after 10am and got to work straight away. He trimmed all the low lying branches and then some of the higher ones that were easy to reach with his expensive Japanese draw saw (cuts on the back stroke, like most Japanese tools). The next thing I saw was him strapping himself into his climbing harness and throwing a climbing rope over one of the sturdy upper branches. After that, he was up, up and away cutting a swathe through the branches that overhung the garden. I think it was at this point that Scamp became nervous and began to wonder if going to hack too much away. However, like a half cut head of hair looks in the hairdresser’s mirror, you have to have faith in the expert wielding the scissors, or in this case, the Japanese saw. By the time it was finished, the tree looks a lot more open. Light will get through and so will the air. He assured us that the ‘wounds’ (his word) would heal quickly and encourage new growth. Like the new hairstyle, it will take a bit of getting used to, but in a few weeks it will look fine.

All that was left was the disposal of the cuttings. That was going to take a few bucket and bag loads, about half a dozen in fact and since I was going to the skips today anyway, it seemed a good opportunity to make good the fresh start. With that in mind, and after Nicky had left we set to with the loppers and chopped all the branches into manageable pieces, bagged them and I took them in the car along with the rubbish from yesterday to the skips. The world and his wife were there too, dumping rubbish. We really do live in a throw away culture. At least the tree cuttings could be chipped and composted. Not so the rubble and timber. That will probably go to landfill.

Best laugh of the day was when we were doing our final tidy of the garden. An old bloke was walking past on the path behind the garden when I turned to Scamp to ask if some old rotten wood was going to. He turned to me and said “Would you mind keeping your voice down. You nearly woke me there.” I looked and he smile, so I said in my sincere voice. “My apologies.” We both laughed and he walked on. Just a wee bit humour gets you through the day sometimes.

After I dumped today’s stuff in the skips, I took a drive over to Fannyside Moss and got today’s PoD. It was taken with the Samyang fisheye lens. Drove back via St Mo’s with some bread to feed the wildfowl, although the greedy gulls got most of it. I know you’re not supposed to feed them on bread, but they didn’t seem to get that memo.

There was sad news at Salsa tonight. Our dwindling class numbers have made it impossible to continue the 7.30 Advanced class which has been running for 10 years in the same time slot in a variety of venues. We have only four weeks left in it and then we may have to look at joining the 8.30 class on a Wednesday. It’s nowhere near as good a class and the 8.30 time isn’t ideal. We may have to look for pastures new.

Today’s sketch of the banana and lime was done while listening to Masterchef, but I painted it under the light of a daylight bulb in the painting room otherwise the grinding of my teeth at the inane comments of the ‘fat bastard’ Gregg Wallace would have upset Scamp.

Tomorrow Scamp is out to lunch and I may, just may take the bike out for its first run this year.