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The Dark Side – 18 June 2018

IMG_4954-Edit-Edit- blogToday started early, very early, around 2am early.

Up and a glass of OJ as breakfast, then a last scout around switching power off here and there until the phone rang twice to announce the arrival of the taxi.  A quick drive to the bus station where the bus was waiting.  Then we were off proper.  First stop was services in the north of Engerland, near to where JIC and Sim would be out walking Vixen in a few hours time.  Probably for the first time in her life, and maybe the first in mine too, we had breakfast in Macdonald’s.  Who’d have thought it, the foodies in Micky D’s, but little did we know that more and worse indignity was to come.

Back on the coach and down even deeper south for a short stop to change drivers and a chance to stretch our legs, then it was a longer run and a longer stop at the end of it near Warwick this time we were forced to join the Dark Side.  The only option for coffee was That Whose Name Must Not be Spoken.  So it was burnt water for drinking.  Scamp wisely opted for peppermint tea.  I must admit though that their Spiced Beef on a Bagel was quite excellent and the spicing on the beef successfully masked the taste of the burnt water they advertised as coffee.  To prove that we did in fact visit TWNMNBM, I took a photo of Scamp sitting in front of their logo and it became PoD.  The driver we’d picked up just outside Manchester was a PITA who thought he was a comedian and a fount of all knowledge.  I think his name was Richard, because he sounded like a Dick.  However he got us to Southampton in double quick time and the usual efficient P&O embarkation procedure took over from there.  The cabin is small, but perfect for our needs.  Just before we left Southampton with no fanfare or even a notification from the bridge, it started raining, then the mist came down and we settled inside after taking some photos of Britannia and the Queen Mary 2 to unpack.

Dinner was in the “Sit down and be served” restaurant and was sooo much better than Thompson last year.  Later we went to the upstairs lounge on the top floor to listen to a pianist who was really just too far over the top to be comfortable.  Impressive playing, but the singing was dire.

Early bed for us after a long day.  Getting to bed at 10pm means we’ve been on our feet for almost 20 hours. 



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Recovery – 16 June 2018

I was exhausted today, it must have been that salsa dance last night.

So tired that I slept until almost 11am. Thankfully Scamp took pity on me and let me sleep on. Woke to the news that the GSA had burned down for the second time in four years. Such a pity after all the work that’s been put into it. Thankfully the new building wasn’t touched, but the old Mac building looks like a shell now. Perhaps that’s the way it should remain.

Didn’t do very much, didn’t even have to bring the car down from where I’d parked it last night. Scamp did the honours and drove down very carefully and parked it for me.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk to St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which is of a hover fly on a flowering weed. I just liked the shot. There’s a more arty one on Flickr if you care to visit it. It’s a leaf covered in water droplets from the torrential rain we had this morning.

Dinner was a frugal potatoes, fish fingers and spaghetti. Maybe frugal, but quite delicious. A house speciality.

That’s about it for today. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, but hopefully with a good outcome.

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In, Out, Shake it all about – 14 June 2018

A busy day, in fact, a very busy day.

The day started with me dragging the brown bin and the grey bin into the teeth of a storm (Storm Hector) out to be emptied. I expected most of them to tumble and distribute their contents over the pavement, but they survived upright until the bin lorry appeared and emptied them.

Next was a bit of blood letting, the second in a fortnight. I didn’t know my blood was so interesting. When I returned with a little less blood in me than I’d gone out with, I picked up Scamp and we drove in to Glasgow to:

  1. Look for a pair of trainers for me.
  2. Have lunch in a new restaurant (to us) in the West End.
  3. Find a belt to hold up my kilt now that my waist has reduced in diameter.

Task 1. Parked at Tiso and suspended my disbelief at the prices they were asking for a pair of nylon shoes. However, I buttoned my lip and tried a few pairs on. None of them were exactly what I was looking for but some were worth looking at again. May go back again.

Task 2. Not really a task, more a test, to see just how good it was. Drove in to the city centre and got the subway out to the West End then walked down through the storm and occasional showers to La Lanterna West End. La Lanterna in the city centre is quite a Glasgow institution, one of the first, and some would argue, one of the finest Italian restaurants. I’d spotted LLWE on Monday when I went for a walk, rather than risk my knee in the advanced salsa class. Snapped the menu on my phone and booked us for lunch when we got home. It was not very busy. Just three blokes obviously having a business lunch. One of them apparently had two mouths! They were behind us, so I couldn’t confirm my theory, but the only way he could talk, constantly while eating was if he had two mouths. Also, since his cerebral cortex would have to synchronise swallowing with breathing, that would explain why he was talking absolute shite. One of those people who are so important they have to talk about themselves all the time. Have you noticed that people like that rarely ask questions, and if they do, they never listen to the answer? That’s because they know everything and don’t need your opinion, especially if it contradicts theirs. Scamp says I’m a cruel man, sometimes. Sometimes? What do you mean, Sometimes?

The food was good. Scamp had Arancini for starter and I got a bite of one – it was superb. I had Rigatoni Amatriciana with braised pig cheek instead of bacon. Scamp’s main was Hake fillet in a light tomato broth served with potatoes. I had Risotto with roasted pumpkin and wild porcini covered in parmesan shavings. Now it was lovely, but I got greedy (who me?) and scoffed the lot, which was a shame because it lay a bit heavy in my stomach for the rest of the day. We’ll certainly go back DV.

Task 3. Subway back in to Glasgow. It was now about 3pm and the train was busy. Scamp got a seat but I chose to stand. I must have looked as if I was in a bit of pain because a girl sitting opposite Scamp offered me her seat. I smiled and thanked her but said I was OK. It thought that was very kind of her and thanked her again when we left at Cowcaddens. It’s nice to see that kind of attitude in young people today. I also thought as I was getting off the train, “Maybe I just look like an old man, an auld guy, which I suppose I am.” Walked up to Bath Street to see about a belt to hold up my kilt. The girl told me that a belt wouldn’t really help and suggested I get the kilt adjusted to fit. I told her I’d been told last year that it would take a month or so for the alteration. She seemed surprised and said she could do it today if I could bring it in by 6pm. It was now 3.30pm. Yes, we could go home, get the kilt and bring it in with time to spare and that’s what we did. Drove home, picked up our bin which was lying are un the kilt, drove back to Glasgow and handed it in. Got measured and told to go for a coffee and the kilt would be ready for us in an hour. AN HOUR, not a month! Did as we were told, went to JL and had a pot of tea each which is where today’s PoD came from. I liked the shot because it looked like a still life. Walked back to the shop and tried on the kilt and knew right away, just like Cinderella did, that it was a perfect fit. The girl, I didn’t even find out her name, wouldn’t take anything for the work, but I managed to get her to accept a few quid as a token of my heartfelt thanks. Walked out of that shop feeling better than I have for at least a week. Both the girl on the train and the girl in the shop will never know just what their individual gestures meant to me today.

Tomorrow will hopefully be a less frantic day. Still stuff to do. Still people to see. Just at a less frantic pace.

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Dancin’, but No’ Dancin’ aye, Dancin’ – 13 June 2018

Confused? You will be.

Today we went dancin’, although I had been warned not to by my experts. However, we had agreed between ourselves that a half hour of ballroom wouldn’t do me very much harm. It didn’t. I’d told Michael that I was crocked and that I’d sit out the jive. He agreed.

We danced the waltz quite well, but Michael pointed out where we were making it too simple, and then it was so obvious that we were cutting corners. It always is obvious once you have it pointed out. It’s the turns, even in the waltz that are causing the problem with my knee. I’m sure about it now.

On to the jive and I sat out. However, it made the class unbalanced with an odd number and, as he had already said he was just going over the first four spins again <This should really have a ‘Technospeak’ warning, shouldn’t it!>. As he was just going over the first four spins again to make sure we were confident with them, I felt I could walk through them without causing myself too much discomfort. It was easy! I even managed to dance the routine (quite badly). So we now have a couple of weeks off before we get a chance to dance again and it will be Ballroom Tango when we go back, instead of waltz.

Walking back from the dancin’ was where I saw the motorbike or scooter to be more exact, with a wide empty space behind the handlebars. It was Scamp who noticed that there was no seat and then we both realised at the same time that this was a scooter for a disabled person in a wheelchair. What a brilliant idea. This was no Mobility Scooter, this was a scooter for a biker in a wheelchair. Not only that, this was a vehicle with street cred and attitude. It even had a handbrake! How smart is that! There was no competition, this had to be PoD.

Portrait class tonight was more interesting because it was our first chance to use colour. It was going well until someone noticed that the elderly gentleman, Jim, who was sitting for us had gone a strange colour and seemed to be on the point of passing out. We got him off his stool and on to a chair, but he was determined to continue and posed again for the second sitting in the chair. I was quite pleased with my last night’s work in the class. It’s not been a wonderful class, with little in the way of actual tuition, but it’s given me the chance to measure my skills against others like myself. Learned a bit about where all the bits of a face go(!) and gained some confidence in my drawing. Still don’t want to do a full life class. I remember saying to the principal teacher of art at school that I couldn’t handle figure work (nudes) and he told me with a wink, “You’re not really meant to handle them!”

Another blood letting tomorrow, then we’re hoping to face the stormy weather and go for lunch in the West End.

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Beer – 12 June 2018

Today me and the Auld Guys were having lunch, a liquid lunch.

It started with breakfast and a couple of paracetamol (other pain killing, anti-inflammatory medicines are available). When I got up proper, an hour later, my knee was sore. Went for a walk around the house and then phoned the physio, only to find out that today was his day off. Left a message and went back to resting my knee again while Scamp was off getting her hair cut. She’d left me with the firm instructions to wait for her return and she’d give me a lift to the train station for the more relaxed run in to Glasgow. Not driving today because this was the first UBI club meeting in over a year and ‘drink would be taken.’ We all know what that means. If you get the sniff of a pint of lager, that’s enough to put you over the limit, I mean if you even see a bottle of beer, that’s you risking points on your license. Today we were going to do more than look or smell, we were going to drink the stuff.

Got in to the HorseShoe Bar in Drury Street about half an hour late and had missed the first round, but I swiftly caught up. It’s a skill well learned. A couple of rounds later we had caught up on all the gossip and were ready for lunch. For lunch we were going upstairs to the ‘restaurant’ where we’d have the three course meal for a fiver. It’s not haute cuisine, it’s just hot cuisine. Good filling stodge. Two fiery chicken strips as a starter, followed by ham, egg and chips (wafer thin ham, one egg and about fifteen chips).  Everyone else had the almost obligatory fish ‘n’ chips. Dessert had to be Apple Betty and ice cream. I don’t know who Betty is, or was, but she makes a great apple sponge. After that, we dispersed. Colin was first to go, then Ray, and that left the Fantastic Four; Jack, Val, Fred and me. In a break with tradition, we went for a coffee rather than more alcohol to finish the day and ambled up West Nile Street to Laboratorio Espresso where we had a coffee, and I got the return call from the physio.

I’ve had work done on my shoulder by this guy and Scamp has had her ankle repaired. I trust him He doesn’t tell you to have a full consultation if it’s not necessary. For the second time in a year he talked me through what I should be doing about my knee and what I shouldn’t be doing too (dancing). It seems that my three professionals; JIC, the nurse and the physio are in agreement. REST, ICE, ELEVATION. Much like the acronym RICE, just missing out the C for COMPRESSION because there is no swelling. I thanked him for phoning on his day off and for his advice then went back and enjoyed my coffee that bit more. Good strong coffee it was too.

After that it was time to shake hands and head for home. Jack and Val were getting the bus, Fred and I were getting the train. Scamp picked me up at the station but Fred managed to catch the bus that drops him almost at his door. We’d all agreed to meet up again soon, hopefully sooner than a year from now DV.

PoD today was taken in the garden. It’s the first of the Boogie peas to sprout and it looks as if it’s ready to grab hold of something to haul itself up.

No Jive for me tomorrow. Too may experts telling me the same story. It looks like a wild day with high winds and rain, but maybe not until evening.  May go to the Forge and change my shoes, providing I can find somebody who “Does the Web”!

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Zoglets Everywhere – 10 June 2018

They may be Frogs or Froglets to some, but to me they must be Zoglets.

The day didn’t start well with pain in my knee, but once I was up, showered and with a couple of paracetamol in me, I felt much better.

<Technospeak>
This bit is very complicated, so just keep your eyes closed when you’re reading it JIC. Right. Last night I made a backup of the Linx before it got a chance to install the Spring Update. After that I allowed it to do the update, as if I had a choice! It was taking hours. Two hours in, it had done less than 20%, so I halted the update process by doing that old trick of holding down the power button for ten seconds. I connected up the magic usb memory stick and the backup drive, booted to the memory stick and reinstalled the May backup which doesn’t have the overload of the downloaded Spring Update (SU) and left it there.

Today I booted that May backup. I don’t know what went wrong, because I’ve used this backup before, but everything went screwball. Restarted again and reinstalled last night’s backup with the SC taking up 10GB of extra disk space. As soon as I booted Windows asked when it should do the upgrade. Ach, to hell with it. Just do it. I’m pretty sure you can downgrade again, almost sure. This upgrade went much quicker. The whole thing was over in less than 2 hours. After I’d answered all the questions with NO, the system worked fine. I’m now toying with the idea of deleting the 19GB of ‘Windows.old’ that is Microsoft’s own backup, just in case something does go wrong. Perhaps, because of all the hassle so far, I’ll just leave it. Ok Eyes Open time JIC.
</Technospeak>

Planted my last two seed potatoes today in an enormous black bucket today. They’re meant to be ‘earlies’, just not that early. With that and with a bit of cutting and pruning I was finished with gardening for today.

Scamp chased me out, telling me to go out for a walk for half an hour. I took her at her word and went over to St Mo’s for a walk. That’s where I found the Zoglets. There must have been hundreds of them wandering around. That wasn’t PoD though, the dragonfly took that award. Surprisingly, it was the exact same dragon as yesterday’s PoD! What’s the chances of that? I did feel better after the walk. When you’re just sitting about in the house, aches in you knees seem to be there all the time with you. When you’re out walking, you’re too busy looking around you to notice the nag in your knee. Well done Scamp. Well done too for dinner tonight. Sea Bass with Broccoli and New Potatoes. Can’t go wrong with that, especially cooked by an expert.

Tomorrow? Hospital for Scamp in the morning. Scamp out for afternoon tea later and I’ve got the results of my blood test after that. Finally, we’re hoping to go dancing at STUC. Phew!

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Thunder and Lightning – 9 June 2018

Thankfully, it brought some rain too.

The day started out as it has done for the last month, with white skies, then the sun broke through. We hadn’t settled on anywhere in particular to go, but Stirling was on the cards as a possible. Drove in to the town, or should I say the City as it achieved city status in 2000. Wandered round the Thistle Centre (but didn’t see any thistles). Got a pair of chinos and a short sleeved shirt. Scamp was impressed that they colour matched. Me, I knew they would, I’ve seen the colour wheel, you know. I can even recite the colours primary and secondary in their correct sequence. Tertiary, that’s a bit more tricky. Had lunch in Nero and then came home, becoming more and more concerned about the heavy, lumpy, dark grey clouds.

We were just leaving the car park when the first drops hit the windscreen. By the time we were entering Cumbersheugh, the rain was heavy and it looked as if it had been heavy for some time. There were occasional flashes of lightning, and a few rumbles of distant thunder. Not long after we got home it started to roll all around us. Just to emphasise the point, the rain started in earnest, creating a nice wee river down past the house.

It took about three hours for the thunderstorm to completely subside and then the sun came out and shone as if there had been no rain, no thunder and no lightning. I got today’s PoD from the kitchen door, looking at a rose leaf with a neat little droplet of water creating a lens.

Went to start working again on the Linx, but it told me that Windows wants to complete the upgrade and it may take some time. At present it’s doing a backup that will hopefully allow me to undo all the bad work it is planning. Devious bastards Microsoft.

Knee is getting a bit painful. I’m going to get the results of my blood test on Monday and I think I’ll ask the sister if there’s anything I can do about it. If all else fails I’ll go and see David the Physio for some torture Oops, I meant treatment. Paracetamol isn’t working all that well on it.

Nothing planned for tomorrow except dancing in a new venue in Glasgow – Maracas. It’s a new cafe in Cambridge Street. Not sure how much I’ll be able to dance, but I’ll give it a whirl, I hope.

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Nematode Nemesis – 8 June 2018

Slugs and snails beware. The end is nigh.

A package dropped through the letterbox today and in it were two boxes of Nematodes. One to treat the garden and hopefully eradicate the slug infestation and another to do the same for vine weevil. I’m not sure we have vine weevil, but I suspect we have and I know for certain that we have more than our fair share of slugs. I don’t really mind the shell carrying snails, but I hate slugs. The instructions on the box said to keep them in the fridge. I said no thanks and put them outside in the bin that holds the fertiliser and compost bags.

I took some photos of the Ladybird Poppies, macro, of course, and it was one of those that became PoD. Also on the agenda for today was putting up a frame for the peas. I’d bought the wood yesterday and also some woodscrews. It’s a pain having to buy these things, but like I said yesterday, I don’t have access to these materials and consumables any more! The frame wasn’t too difficult to erect and screw in place. The netting was a bit more of a faff, getting it stretched across the frame and clipped in place with staples and cable ties. Even after all this work, the bloody minded pea plants wouldn’t hang on to the netting. The ungrateful things just hung there for a minute or so and then dropped back to the ground. After a bit of delicate weaving of the tendrils, they eventually got the idea. I think I must have planted dim peas.

<Technospeak>
I spent the afternoon clicking and typing away at the new Win10 machine, trying to get it to create a macro to allow me to log on to my blog. I can do it on the Mac using a macro created with Keyboard Maestro, but there’s nothing like that app in WindowsWorld. You have to resort to some cryptic code in AutoHotKey to get anything like the same result. I finally managed to adapt a piece of code I found on an internet forum, but it only works with Internet Explorer. It’ll be another afternoon of swearing before I can get it to do the same on Firefox. Finally when I shut down the PC it wanted to do an upgrade. Now is that different from an update? Who knows. Maybe when I switch on the computer today everything will be different. I doubt it.
</Technospeak>

A walk across St Mo’s later cleared my head and gave me some photos of dragonflies and also a couple of coots feeding their scraggy little red headed young.  A cool breeze at times, but still a beautiful day.

After dinner it was time to deal with the pesky slugs. Dissolved the contents of the nematode packet in a 5 litre bucket of water and stirred frantically. Removed 500ml (ish) into the watering can and diluted it to 5 litres of slug nemesis. Tried to water it over the raised bed with the rose, but found that the rose was too fine. Had to remove it and just pour it on. Repeated this round the plants and pots in the garden until the bucket was empty. I should have watered it in later, but it was getting a bit cool, so we left it to nature, it’s supposed to rain tonight.

Tomorrow we may go to Stirling to look for cheap trainers for me and lunch for us.

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Barking Mad – 7 June 2018

It started out a bit cloudy today, but the sun soon burned that away.

We had nothing particular to do today and nowhere significant to go. Some days are like that, you can just relax. However, with a garden there’s little time to relax and soon we were shifting flower pots around and then we went to buy more. It seems that flower pots are like shoes, you can never have enough of them. I also suggested to Scamp that it might be a good idea to put a layer of chipped bark on the earth, especially in the pots. It acts as a deterrent to snails, discourages weed growth and helps retain moisture. So we came back with another pot and a bag of chipped bark. While Scamp did the re-potting, I helped out with the layer of bark. It certainly gives a good universal appearance to the pots and looks as if it will fulfil the other tasks too. Only time will tell.

After lunch I was encouraged to start the frame for the pea netting, so off I went to B&Q to get some wood. I used to have a regular supply of it, but alas and alack, I am no longer employed in that side of things 😉 so I had to buy some. I asked if I could borrow a saw to cut the timber to more manageable lengths but was told that service was no longer available because of H&S regulations. I suppose that’s true. Pity the trolley that kept giving me shocks in B&M this morning hadn’t been GS23’d or run past H&S. Scamp says it’s me that’s generating my own electricity and that it’s me that’s creating the sparks. Some folk say I’m a bright spark, but they’re lying.

Anyway, the 2.4m of timber fitted easily into the Juke and I dropped it off at home before going for a walk along the canal under a hot sun. Saw today’s PoD there and couldn’t resist it. It took a bit of processing in Lightroom then ON1 to get it the way I wanted it, after the camera overexposed it, but I liked the result.

Came home via Lidl to try out their supposedly excellent gin. It is excellent and to our taste test, better than the watery Aldi alternative. Maybe it’s just the different tonic.

Halfway through dinner (Paella) the rain came on, so we had to rush out to save the washing from drowning, or at least getting wet. It didn’t last long, it was really just a shower, but it did mean we didn’t have to water the garden tonight!

Tomorrow looks not as hot as today. I think it’s all going to get a bit tricky from here on in. I think I’m constructing a pea frame, so a bit cooler day will be good.

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In the Toon, in the sun – 6 June 2018

A girl cutting hair? It’s a barbers, not a hairdresser’s!

We were all set to go to the dancin’ today at Blackfriars until Scamp got a message to say that it was cancelled. That gave us a fair bit of the afternoon to fill. I wanted my hair cut, Scamp wanted to go shopping, not for shopping. Not going for the messages. This was serious shopping. I also wanted to go shopping for a couple of books. With all that in our collective heads, it seemed a visit to Glasgow was in order, but a visit on the bus this time, not a drive. It was a really hot day, so we also decided to have lunch out and make a day of it. So that’s what we did.

First stop the barbers. My usual place, the Nile Barbers, but what was this? None of the usual faces. One guy and a girl. A girl in Nile Barbers? Never seen that before. However, she cut my hair exactly how I wanted it and only asked for £7, pensioners rates. Then one of the usual barbers returned. Ah, that’s good. It’s not a total take-over. I can rest easy knowing that the everybody’s getting older guy and the conspiracy theorist have not been sacked, and that Silent Bob will be back in his corner cutting hair without a word.

Back up on to Sausageroll street and having to go round the part demolished New City Palace to get to Waterstones where I bought the final book in the Themis Files trilogy. I just finished the second book in the series this morning and it’s some measure of the attraction of the writing that I went out this afternoon to buy the sequel. Book two in a trilogy is so often just treading water and going nowhere, but this book took the story on a completely different direction and led neatly to the final(?) book. The question mark is there because I’ve read on the net that it might not be the final book. That would perhaps be a shame. I’d like to see the story drawn neatly to a close, whatever that is. I’m keeping the book for the holidays. That will leave a decent amount of time for my brain to work on the implications of book two and prepare for the finale. If you haven’t read the series, I really recommend that you do. I won’t give away the plot or the twists. All I’m saying is read it. It’s SF, but does the ‘F’ stand for Fiction or Fact? You choose.

Met Scamp who had done the shopping she intended to do and was loaded down with bags. We went to lunch in Paesano – best pizza place in Glasgow. Unfortunately, Scamp reminded me that although we’d gone in by bus, I was driving Fred and me to the college tonight, so Nick the Chick says “No alcohol shall pass thy lips on pain of five thousand penalty points and a £50,000,000 fine (plus VAT).” So I had fizzy orange instead 🙁

Walked round to Queen Street for coffee in Nero and it was while walking round I got today’s PoD.  It’s a reflection of the College of Building and Printing reflected in my favourite glass fronted building in Queen Street.  I liked the distorted writing that should read “People Make Glasgow”.  Title was Lost in Translation.

Bus back and soon it was time to go for Fred. We’d an older sitter than last week and I think I managed to do him justice. Like he said, everyone’s interpretation is different. Roseanne (tutor) tried to rile me with a few digs about people criticising the Loomis method, but I gave as good as I got. She tried her best to blank me when doing her rounds, but eventually gave me a few words of wisdom. I took her advice and the second sketch once the sitter had had a rest was a lot better and from a totally different viewpoint.

Tomorrow is to be at least as hot as today. We have no plans as yet.