Dancing just once today – 24 April 2019

Dancing just once, but we covered a whole lot of stuff. Jive, Waltz, Quickstep and Cha-Cha. All within an hour!

Lazy start to the day trying to get into a new book after the superb Natural Causes. The life story of a forensic pathologist. Utterly fascinating. The new book is a novel and it’s hard to change from a non-fiction book to a fiction book, at least it is for me.

Drove in to Glasgow and watched the speed of the advanced Jive class and wished we could be so slick. I think I’ve grown to like jive because of the music. Like Salsa music, jive is generally happy, lively music. Waltz is slow and steady. Quickstep is faster and quite bouncy, but Jive really has you tapping your feet, much like salsa. Our jive was a bit rough round the edges, but we were keeping our heads above water, so to speak. We may not have been as sharp as the advanced class, but we were keeping in time to the music most of the time and although we forgot a few moves, we were doing quite well. Even the Timestep was reasonably good. Michael took us on to the next step called the Kicksies. I video’d it and I’m glad I did. We’ve just watched it tonight and broken it down into manageable pieces and we’ve got a fair idea how it fits together and how it fits into our routine.

Waltz was a disaster. I just couldn’t put a foot right and for once, neither could Scamp. I think my head was still full of jive. I have to take my Jive head off and replace it with my Waltz head, just like Wurzel Gummidge before I can attempt the Waltz. Then I have to do the same with the Quickstep which was heading to be a disaster too until Michael made two changes to our Running Step. Hands high and Head high. What a difference those two simple things made. I know, all the foregoing is more like Technospeak than anything. I suppose it is just Dance Technospeak. Anyway, we walked out into the cold of Bell Street feeling much better about ourselves.

Quick coffee and then home. Grabbed a few shots of the Duke of Wellington with his robot head on and the makings of today’s PoD which is reflections in 110 Queen Street. The glass office building.

Back home and while I was post-processing the PoD, we got a text from Irene to say that Jamie G would not be taking the intermediate class tonight, Shannon would. That made life a lot easier. We were staying in tonight. I don’t need to be ‘taught’ for an hour how to hold my hands in the air and shout “Oo La La”. I find little use for that phrase in my normal, or dancing life. Sent Dougie a quick warning message on FB, because he is also a fully paid up member of the “Not Shannon” club. To get our dancing fix tonight, we practised a few Kicksies. If we do that for a few days it will Fixie the Kicksie in my head.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get my wedding ring back. Also need to do some shopping and prep for dinner on Friday.

A well filled day – 23 April 2019

Driving to Falkirk, and back, lunch out (for some), coffee (for some), broken website – now repaired. Just your usual Tuesday.

Very warm during the night, but the temperature was dropping all morning and, when we got out of the car in Falkirk, I was glad I had worn my fleece. Dropped my ring off in the jeweller’s to have it repaired after having it cut from my finger back in March. We will be reunited on Thursday, hopefully. Went to Morrison’s while we were there to buy muesli, hand wash and milk. That, with a few other things, came to just over £70. That’s the way the money goes.

When we came home, Scamp just had time to change before she went out for lunch with her pal Mags. I had an hour to rearrange the mess in the art room before I too went out. No lunch for me just coffee and setting the world to rights with Fred and Val.

By the time I got home, Scamp was too and there was just enough of the day left to wander over to St Mo’s to get some photos. PoD went to a branch with what looks like Wild Cherry blossom. The competitor for the PoD was this shot of a new memorial seat in St Mo’s park. The name on it is Deone, who I think is Deone MacRae who died of cancer in 2013 aged 15. The family put a memorial bench beside Broadwood Loch, but some people didn’t like it and burned it to ashes. You really wonder about the mentality of some people. The new butterfly seat is cut and welded from 6mm steel. I don’t think that will be quite so easy to burn.

After dinner which was a joint effort at a paella, I noticed all the email from the new server was offline, and so was my site. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it to clear itself. I tried a website checker and it showed the site as open. Asked Hazy to check and she got access. Eventually used the chat facility on the new server’s webpage and after some checking on their side I was told that my IP address had been blocked after too many attempts to log in to an email address using different passwords. Actually it was me who was attempting to log in and get Mac Mail to accept the new password. Good to know they are on the ball, but will have to be more careful in future when changing passwords.

That was my busy day. Tomorrow will be equally busy, I’m sure. Hoping to go dancing in the afternoon and maybe in the evening too. The weather fairies say it’s going to get colder and wetter. Oh what fun. Summer’s over for another year perhaps.

Out in the countryside – 22 April 2019

We certainly were out in the countryside early this morning.

Scamp didn’t want to miss a minute of today’s beautiful weather. That’s why we were out and walking along the Forth & Clyde canal just after 10am. It seemed today was cycling day rather than Earth Day because we must have been passed by about twenty cyclists of varying degrees of fitness and skill as we walked the canal. We reached Twechar about 11am and started to walk back using the old railway as our path. That’s where today’s PoD came from. There was just a hint of blue haze as we made our way back to Auchinstarry, but I was fairly sure my software combination of Lightroom and ON1 would bring back the true colour and it did work out well. We crossed over at the Plantation and from there back on to the canal path to The Boathouse or “HEBO HOUSE” as it seems to have renamed itself. I actually like “HEBO HOUSE”. It’s got a Nordic sound to it. I’m sure the Kilsyth folk could spin a tale that it means “House by the still waters” in Lallans dialect.

Drove home and had lunch before Scamp parked her sun bed in the garden and waited for the sun to make itself known. I started on my task for the day which was to recreate the focaccia bread we’d bought in Embra on Saturday, “The day of the Signal Failure”. It was a bit of a faff making this sloppy dough. I started out making it in the food mixer, but thought I’d like to try hand kneading it, that’s when I found out just how sloppy and slithery it really was. Finally I gave in and got the Kenwood to do the heavy lifting. Bear in mind, this bread has 140ml of good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO to those in the know), whereas my usual bread dough has about 30ml. That’s how it became so slippery. However, once it was safely ensconced in its plastic tub it didn’t look so bad and after an hour it had completed its first rise. Next task was to slide it out of the tub, cut it in two and form it into two oval shapes on the baking trays. This part was easier than I’d anticipated, in fact, the worst was now past and the two focaccia breads have now been part consumed, although we did leave a bit for tomorrow. Focaccia is a dawdle as long as you have a Kenwood Chef mixer with a dough hook to do the hard work.

Basically that was it for the day. Scamp made an excellent Spaghetti dello Chef for dinner and we scoffed it and the best part of a bottle of white wine in the garden.

Spoke to JIC tonight and watched the final of University Challenge where Embra beat St Edmund Hall and the despicable Leo “Mmmmm”.

Tomorrow we’re off to Falkirk in the morning, hopefully a sunny Falkirk. Lunch for Scamp and coffee for me in the afternoon.

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.

Embra – 20 April 2019

We’d said we’d go to Embra and we did.

Set off early and did our usual walk up from Haymarket station to Nero on Lothian Road then from there through the farmers market where I got a piece of Hogget Leg Steak and Scamp got a chunk of Focaccia. I also grabbed a PoD of the folk sitting in the sun.

From there we walked up to the Grassmarket and Scamp bought a wee bottle of Elderberry liqueur, although the rum liqueur they were selling tasted very nice. They didn’t have wee bottles of it, unfortunately, only big bottles. The place was mobbed. In fact Embra in general was mobbed. It was a beautiful day. Warm sunshine and very little wind which is strange for Embra because it quite often is the Windy City. I was beginning to regret wearing my leather jacket AND a jersey. One had to go, in fact, eventually both had to go.

We couldn’t decide where to go for lunch, so we headed for Princes Street Gardens via M&S where I went to get some fresh fruit while Scamp searched for the trousers she’s been looking for for the last week or so. I got the fruit, but Scamp didn’t find the trousers she wanted. However she did find a sun hat that looked good, so after some swithering about a colour, she opted for the plain white one.

We sat in the gardens for a while eating the fruit and people watching, but decided eventually that it was far too busy in Embra and we should just head for home. Went for the 2pm train and were there in plenty of time. Sat waiting for what seemed a long time when a message came over the tannoy that with apologies, the train was cancelled. There was nothing to do but walk back to the concourse and wait for the next train which was in half an hour. Then Scamp noticed that it too was cancelled. Apparently due to a signalling fault. She suggested we get the 2.15 train which wouldn’t stop at Croy, but we could go straight to Glasgow and get another train back. After all the ticket did say “Valid via any permitted route”, so we could have gone via Inverness if we’d fancied, but we didn’t, we just wanted to get home now. Got the 2.15 which did take us all the way to Glasgow and then got the Stirling train back to Croy. A journey that should have taken us 40mins had taken 2 hours. Strangely, the 2.15 train travelled exactly the same route as the one that was cancelled because of a signalling fault. Did they magically repair the fault for the 2.15 train to pass, but knew that it would be broken again when the 2.30 train was due to leave? Maybe they should just be more honest and say “Due to staff not being available because it was such a nice day”. Anyway, we got home.

Sat in the garden and scoffed a bottle of wine that had been in the fridge since Christmas. It would be getting near it’s sell-by date anyway!

Tomorrow we may go dancing in the Record Factory.

Marie Kondo rules OK – 19 April 2019

Today I ignored the beautiful sunshine for a while and started tidying up the top three drawers in my chest of drawers in the back bedroom. Marie Kondo, you have a lot to answer for.

It’s been coming for a while, but when Scamp was out buying Tesco today, I got started clearing out the top two drawers. Actually I’d already started on the top drawer yesterday, but hadn’t managed to file very much in the big round filing cabinet in the corner. Today was a more concerted effort. Using partly the Marie Kondo mantra of “Does this spark joy?” and partly my own “Keep, File, Chuck” method, I managed to get rid of a few more things, then allocate a particular space to the ones I wanted to keep. What was the top drawer is now the second top, because the boxes I was using for the ‘filing’ wouldn’t fit in the top drawer. The chest of drawers is designed in the architectural style where the highest drawer is the shallowest and the lowest is the deepest. It’s the way Victorian and Edwardian architects designed windows in big houses. Look some time and you’ll see how it works. So, the top drawer now only holds paper and sketch books and the second top drawer holds two main categories of objects:

  • File (pens, knives and stuff) They don’t necessarily Spark Joy, but they are useful or essential tools.
  • Keep (photos, flyers etc). They are not tools, but they remind me of something. They all Spark Joy.

That drawer is much more organised than it was before, but may not stay that way.

The third drawer is still a work in progress. It has much more Spark Joy items than the other two and will need a bit more willpower to encourage me to put things into the ‘Chuck’ pile.

Halfway through Hazy phoned and we had a long discussion about gardens, cats and birthdays. Heavens, we also managed to fit in Christmas plans, which seem to be firming up quite nicely.

After lunch which was delicious Cheese and Beetroot sandwiches, we started on the garden. I wanted to plant the Calabrese which is like broccoli, but Scamp suggested that it might be a good idea to put up the pea frame first, to prevent disruption of the growing plants when it’s actually needed. I agreed and got it built up quite easily. Planted the Calabrese while Scamp did all the rest of the garden work.

Sat out for a while in the sun with a glass of wine each because it was a beautiful warm spring day and Good Friday too. Found today’s PoD crawling round a garden bucket. It’s a Nut Weevil and is probably the reason my chestnuts aren’t growing this year, as the adult insect bores a hole into the nut and lays its eggs inside. The grub hatches, eats its way out and it’s goodbye Chestnut. It made a nice photo though.

Tomorrow we may go to Embra. Hoping for another sunny day. Central heating seems to be fixed by the way. Oh, yes and Hazy, I’ve got the two backups downloaded tonight. One from the old website and one from the new. Belts & Braces, that’s me!

Not such a bright day – 16 April 2019

Today was Chris’s dad’s funeral. JIC had flown up specially for it last night.

He might have come up for the funeral, but before that JIC had to take a conference call with California and China. That’s just the kind of circles he moves in these days. Half past eight this morning and he was on Skype, doing work.

The funeral went well, I suppose. Well, as good as these things get. This was the first Humanist funeral I’d been to. I don’t confess to be a Christian. I suppose the closest I can get to religion is Buddhism, but even elements of that don’t work for me. I didn’t like the delivery of the woman who took the ceremony. Maybe she was new to it, but her delivery was too fast, too rushed with pauses that were too long and sometimes in the wrong places. It didn’t have the solemnity of a Church of Scotland funeral, but the delivery there has a style all of its own too and its not a pleasant one either. I’d guess it’s only someone who knew the person who has died who can really speak about them, from the heart, and that’s what the people listening want to hear.

We went to the ‘tea’ afterwards and met a few folk we knew. I liked the way Andy, JIC and Chris shared memories of Chris’s dad. That’s more like what folk do at a traditional ‘tea’ after a funeral. They remember the good bits in a person’s life and forgive the bad bits.

In the afternoon we went for a late lunch with JIC before he got the flight home. Unfortunately time seemed to slip away and the next thing I knew it was 5pm, we should have been on our way by then and we still hadn’t had our pudding. Eventually we got served and left for the drive into Glasgow. CITRAC was displaying its usual useless nonsense. “Nineteen minutes to the airport” it said. Actually it took nearly forty five minutes through what is euphemistically called ‘Rush Hour’, except nobody was rushing. Finally dropped him off at the airport to go through security. We turned round and started to drive home when Scamp suggested we go for a coffee at Braehead. That gave just enough time for the congestion to decrease and allow us to drive at a fairly steady pace back home through the rain. The plants need the rain Scamp said. She’s probably right.

Today’s PoD was made possible by that rain on the back bedroom window. I liked it. I called it “Through the fish-eyed lens of tear stained eyes” lyrics from The Final Cut by Roger Waters. Seemed somehow fitting.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing. Let’s hope it’s a happier day than today.

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.

Tesco, Coots and Curry – 13 April 2019

Some days are filled with surprises and action. Today wasn’t one of those.

Today we went to Tesco to get the makings of tonight’s dinner. I fancied making another slow cooker curry, a vegetarian one for a change. That was one of the highlights of the day.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk over St Mo’s.  In the sunshine it was lovely and warm, but the wind was decidedly cold, coming from the Baltic the weather fairies say and I believe them. Today’s PoD was another shot of a coot sitting on its nest of twigs on the floating pontoon of horsetails. I walked on down to the BP garage to get some sparkling water to give a lift to the pakora I was planning on making for a starter for the dinner. Found a wee boy, maybe about 12yrs being questioned by a couple of women. He looked completely out of it and to start with I thought he’d been in a fight or had been climbing trees and had fallen, but it turned out he’d had a few sherbets and was just the far side of sober, or so they suspected. He did look a funny colour and they were looking after him and giving him sips of water while his mum was contacted. Me? I’d have been a bit more circumspect about getting involved. These days it’s a minefield being a good Samaritan.

In the evening I sorted out the last of the email realignment and I think I now have a fully functioning website on a new server. This week I intend to back up the files from the old server before I clear out the server, and probably also back up the files from the new one too – Belts & Braces.
I really can’t thank Hazy enough for the research she’s done for me, not only searching out the best hosting company to go with, but also finding answers and help pages to keep me on the right lines, and then checking that her dad had pressed the right buttons in the right order and not broken anything. Couldn’t have done it without you love. You are a real gem.

The curry was a hit and a miss. Scamp didn’t like it, but I did. Such a pity, but the cauliflower pakora was a great hit with Scamp. I wasn’t so keen on it. Like I say, Hit and a Miss.

That was about it for today. Went to bed early because I hadn’t been sleeping well these last few days, so the blog was posted on Sunday!

Lovely Spring day – 9 April 2019

It was a lovely spring day today. Blue sky, white clouds and the birds were singing. Ahhh!

The only thing wrong with it was the cold wind. There’s always got to be a fly in the ointment. That didn’t stop me driving to the butchers to get some meat. Then I had to drive a circuitous route to get some petrol for the thirsty Juke. That was because the road between St Maurice’s roundabout and the Broadwood roundabout plus most of the Broadwood roundabout itself were closed for some secret work that only NLC roads and works department know about. Same circuitous route on the way back. At least when I passed, it looked like they were actually doing something.

When I came home the sun was still shining, so I grabbed the Olys and took them for a walk in St Mo’s. Saw a couple of deer, but decided not to follow them in case I startled them and they ran on to the road. Found a couple of newts in one of the smaller ponds, but PoD was Mrs Goosander’s Bad Hair Day. Got that when I was feeding mouldy bread to the ducks and swans, although the greedy gulls got most of the bread. The goosanders didn’t seem to didn’t seem to want to fly in to snaffle the bread they preferred to paddle like blazes and cruised in at the rate of a speedboat. Crazy wee birds with scary looking teeth in their beaks.

We both had a practise at the next routine with from Timesteps with some clever little kicks and flicks. That’s all Jive Talk by the way.

Tomorrow we’re intending to go dancing in the afternoon at Blackfriars and I may go to the struggling Debenhams to get a new pair of Chinos. Who knew that ‘Chinos’ is a racial slur at Chinese people?