Goodbye July – 31 July 2018

Not Flaming June, but Toasty July.

It’s certainly been a July to remember with temperatures into and above the mid twenties here in relatively cool Scotland. Hints of hosepipe bans and serious warnings of the dangers of the “Taps Aff” culture. When will we see your likes again?

After scanning Facebook and the InterWeb, we decided that the fish shop in Linlithgow was indeed still in business and had been closed the last time we went because they were on holiday. We were wrong. The shop was closed as we drove past unless they have changed their window display to soft furnishings to dissuade some customers and so avoid crowding out the shop. Disappointed, we drove as far as the Coop carpark, squeezed our way past the abandoned cars and went to Aldi instead. Came home and checked again on FB and on the InterWeb and although it does say that the shop is still there, it makes no mention of soft furnishings. Maybe it’s just a front.

After lunch Scamp started ‘sorting out’ another cupboard while I just mooched around. The weather had taken a down turn since the morning and it now looked like rain. My weather app said rain was likely at 2.15 and when Scamp took a break from her reorganisation at 2.25 she reported that it was indeed raining. Amazingly accurate, but ultimately disappointing. No cycling today.

Today’s PoD nearly never appeared. Sometimes I think I’m only taking photos to complete the 365 for that day. Sometimes that IS the case. That’s not the way photography should be. Maybe I need a break from it. Anyway, today’s PoD was one I’d been considering for a week or so. The ‘Spiny Alien’ is actually an early chestnut I found near the People’s Palace in Glasgow.
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The photo was taken with my new macro lens and this lens doesn’t have enough depth of field (DOF) to cover both the chestnut and the minifig, so the best way to achieve the full depth is to take two photos. One focusing on the chestnut and the other focusing on the minifig. Then combine the two in Photoshop. Unfortunately it’s really difficult to get them both into the old version of PS I have. I was watching an ON1 video of a similar problem last week and used that method to fix this one. It worked perfectly mainly because the camera was firmly fixed on a tripod for both shots, so alignment wasn’t an issue. That pleased me.
</Technospeak>

Tomorrow we have no dancing in the afternoon, but we are still dancing at night. Unless Michael changes it again tomorrow morning. He’s already changed it from Friday to Thursday. Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow.

Big Boots To Fill – 30 July 2018

I wanted to take my bike out today, but off-road, not on-road.

I’d seen a bloke down at Auchinstarry with a Juke, casually sliding his mountain bike into the car once the back seats had been folded down. I knew the car had a good big boot, but the secret to the ease with which he could carry his bike is that once the seats are folded down, the raised boot deck provides a flat surface from the rear of the car to the back of the front seats. If he could do it, so could I. I forgot that he had a mountain bike and I have a hybrid. His wheels are just that bit smaller than mine. That meant I had to remove my front wheel to make the bike fit, but fit it did. I also had to cover the folded down back seats with a sheet of heavy duty polythene that I found up in the loft. The main thing is it worked.

Cycled along the railway path almost to Twechar, then took a right turn and cycled along a rough track through some fairly recently planted trees out almost to Queenzieburn and from there back to Twechar. From there I went along the canal to the steps to Shiva Pend which is a tunnel under the Forth & Clyde canal to allow a burn to run down to join the River Kelvin. It’s a strange wee place which was built apparently in the 18th century. Wandered around there watching tiny wee trout trying to catch flies while I was trying to take some photos. Climbed back up to the canal and realised that it was beginning to rain. Down at the pend the overhanging trees had given some shelter, so I hadn’t noticed the rain. I decided that would do for today and headed back to Auchinstarry along the canal and passed four blokes in two canoes. Crossed over at the Plantation where I got today’s PoD which is a Painted Lady butterfly sunning itself on the warm stones. I thought I’d avoided the rain, but then it came on with a vengeance and I got back to the car just before I got completely soaked. Bike dismantled and back in the car then up the road.

Scamp made dinner tonight while I got ready to go to salsa. Salsa was all twists and turns and awkward moves which didn’t do my poor wee knee any good, but I survived and it feels a bit better tonight. Tonight’s move was called Venezuela. Jaime would approve.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but the weather looks wetter than today.

100% chance of rain – 29 July 2018

My weather app told the truth, but not the whole truth.

Today began with the wet stuff falling from the sky. There was no point in going anywhere in the morning at least, because it rained all morning. Heavy rain, light rain, drizzle and then back to heavy rain again. Wet, life giving rain. As Scamp said, it’s good that it’s not just torrential rain all day. That would just run off the garden and down a drain somewhere. The drizzle soaks the ground and gives a chance for the heavier rain to be somewhat absorbed, then when the ground becomes overwhelmed by the heavy rain, the drizzle gives it time to become completely absorbed by the grass, plants and soil. Sensible rain.

By afternoon I was becoming tired of the rain. Ok, it had done its job and watered the garden, but I wanted to go out and take photos. I couldn’t enjoy doing that in the rain. I gave in and brought the garden into the house. Well, a little bit of the garden. One sweet pea on a stem. I set up a little studio in the back bedroom with a black tee shirt as a backdrop, two clothes pegs holding up the stem and my camera on a Gorilla Pod. Managed to get low ISO shots that way of the sweet pea and the texture of the raindrops to give it some life. Couldn’t quite get the right angle on the flower head, but I got the sharpness I wanted. Good enough, I think.

We’d decided earlier to have a ‘filling lunch’ and a late dinner because we were going to a salsa social in Paisley. On the way in we were watching a BIG black cloud draping itself over the Campsie Fells and by the time we reached Glasgow it had descended on us. Rain wasn’t quite torrential, but it was heavy. Social was fun, but I was cautious as my leg was feeling good since Thursday and I wanted it to stay that way. When we left La Rambla, an hour and a half later, the sun was shining again from a clear blue sky. Well, that was two seasons in one day!

Watched Vettel flouting the rules again in the Hungarian GP. If he did that on the open road, he’d be arrested. Maybe he should be. Anyway, what does it matter to me? Will it change the price of fish? I doubt it.

Tomorrow? No plans, but it looks wet in the morning and better in the afternoon. Might take my bike for a run in the car, and then a run in the country. We’ll see.

Lunch at the Lantern – 28 July 2018

Too wet for Embra, so Glasgow for lunch today.

Today dawned wet and miserable. Almost a complete turnaround from yesterday and with the promise of more to follow. We got the bus in to Glasgow. That’s becoming the rule rather than the exception these days. It takes a bit more time than driving, but means we can both have a drink with our lunch. Went for a drink in All Bar One, forever to be known as Al Barone to us. G ’n’ T for Scamp and a pint of Joker IPA for me. From there on to La Lanterna where we had lunch booked. Lunch for Scamp was Arancini, followed by Penne with Chicken and Mushroom and I had Bruschetta followed by Risotto with Salsiccia and Sun Blushed Tomatoes. Both were deemed excellent and possibly just too much or too filling, which probably amounts to the same thing. I know that mine lingered with me for a fair time afterwards. Maybe just too rich. Still, it was a good lunch. We’ll probably be back.

A walk around town afterwards, still looking for extra cutlery that’s proving elusive. Bought a pair of linen trousers in the sale in Debenhams. Got today’s PoD on Queen Street. It’s reflections on that great mirror of a building on that street, just across from the GOMA. After that it was the bus home.

Spent the night watching Wreck it Ralph! Simple things and simple minds. Just escapist fun which is always good.

Tomorrow? As I said, it looks like more of the same and possibly even wetter than today. May stay at home, but it doesn’t look as if we’ll need to water the garden!

Gardening on a grand scale – 27 July 2018

Gardening 24/7? Not for me.

The day started with me doing patient transport to Stobhill so Shona could return her ambulatory BP monitor and I, for one, am glad I don’t have to type that phrase again this week. With that done, and the miracle of being able to park just at the front door of the hospital for the second day in a row, I drove home to pick up the loaf I’d baked last night (sorry, forgot to mention that in the blog for the 26th July) and head off to Colin’s house for coffee.

He’d sent me his postcode, but I knew there were at least three houses there, so which one? I parked across the road and decided that the first on the list was the best bet, and there he was pottering. Isn’t that what all gardeners do in a greenhouse? Anyway, this was a real greenhouse with the heady aroma of ripening tomatoes and earth. It also looked like a greenhouse with trowels, pots, seed packets and plants. I really meant to get a photo, it would have made an beautiful B&W shot. Maybe next time if I’m allowed. His first question was “Where’s Scamp”. Of course he used her ‘real name’ which is NOT Scamp. I explained that she was busy gardening, i.e. pruning ‘things’ and cutting the grass. Oops. Now that I realise what I’d written, it did sound as if Scamp was joining me. Anyway Colin took me a conducted tour of his garden which is extensive and all encompassing. When I saw his show chrysanthemums with their paper hats on, it took me back about 55 years to my Uncle George growing his show chrysanthemums, although he never called them Chrysanthemums, he called them ‘Crysants’, and thankfully, that’s what Colin called them too. Actually, when I smelled the tomatoes, that took me back to my Uncle Jimmy’s smallholding where he grew tomatoes. He was always at pains to tell me never to eat a tomato without sprinkling it with salt. Try it with and without. You’ll never eat tomatoes without salt again. Jimmy and George were brothers-in-law. The link between the too was Uncle Jimmy’s wife, my Uncle Jean and Uncle George’s sister. She was a scary woman, but she put up with me eating strawberries on her smallholding when I was supposed to be weighting them for market, because she was my mum’s cousin. Confused? Don’t worry. There’s nothing so complicated as families.

After our garden tour we had coffee and a fairly extensive chat with Colin and Evelyn for an hour or so, before it was time for me to go and I wasn’t allowed to go empty handed, so tomatoes, chillies and a cucumber were pressed upon me and off I went. It was a lovely day although the heat was becoming oppressive in the latter part of the afternoon.

Back home we had a wander through our small patch and I got some photos. Star of the day was to be a wasp drinking from the birdbath, but then I got a nice shot of a Potentilla and that immediately became PoD, mainly due to the colour contrasts between the blues in the background and the orange flowers.

Just before we decided to come in after dinner, the first peal of thunder sounded. Later there was some lightning and more thunder. It’s even rained a bit tonight, but we really need more. I’m sure it will come over the weekend.

Good day. Really enjoyed the visit to a big garden, however, our own little postage stamp is a lot easier for us to manage. Tomorrow? Maybe lunch in Glasgow and a look for a pair of SPD pedals and shoes.

A day of three halves – 26 July 2018

Hospital patient ambulance driver, laser patient, cyclist

Up and out early(ish) to take Shona to Stobhill Hospital to get her ambulatory BP monitor. For some reason, I got parked right at the front door of the hospital and then had a leisurely half hour watching the drivers circling around hoping for a non-existent parking space. Drove the patient back home and got in just in time for a cup of coffee before lunch.  Then I ordered more coffee and tea from The Bean Shop, to make sure there is plenty for our visitors from down south.

After lunch I started back on an old task, namely that of Annette’s Nexus 7 which I’d found another, yet another possible solution for. It didn’t work, and neither did the Nexus. However, I now have the solution and this one will work. It’s a heavy duty poly bag. You put the offending article in the bag, whisper the magic words and Abracadabra (That’s not the magic word) once you’ve hit the bag four or five times with a claw hammer, the problem is solved. It’s no longer bricked, it’s now broke. I’ll never have to waste another hour of my life trying to solve a wee challenge, as Val would say.

Once I’d settled on the Final Solution, I felt so much better and headed to the physio. As well as being a physio, David is an enthusiastic cyclist. I needed his recommendation for somewhere to get a new pair of cycling shoes and a pair of SPD pedals. His answer was Wiggle. It’s an on-line sports supplier. I’ve had a look and the prices are good and if it’s good enough for an exacting cyclist like him, it will be good enough for me. After that, he lasered me and stuck pins in, then lasered me again just for luck. Knee felt better after that.

Came home and dinner was ready. Salad with our own potatoes, (the last of batch one) salad leaves, tomatoes and prawns. Scamp had the same but with salmon instead of prawns. As the sun was still high in the sky and the temperature still in the 20s, I took the bike out to see if any beasties wanted their photos taken. Not a lot did, but on the way back I passed a field of barley and though I might get a landscape shot instead. I didn’t like the shot once I’d taken it, but as I was walking away I spied a ladybird on one of the stalks, and that became PoD.

Tomorrow I’m a hospital patient ambulance driver and then I’m off to have coffee with Colin, maybe in his greenhouse. Rain, life giving rain is forecast for tomorrow and lots of it to judge by the weather map. We’ll see.

Just a wee bit dancin’ – 25 July 2018

After all the excitement yesterday, today was a normal Wednesday.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and compared our experiences of the Becky Chambers Q&A. As you would expect, we both had different expectations and feelings about the night, but both agreed it was interesting.

Because of the summer holidays or maybe because of the hot weather, classes for ballroom are at random times and days today it was normal day but at 12.30 instead of 1.30. We had almost a private lesson again and went over Spin 6 again and also got introduced to Spin 7. This is Jive I’m talking about here. After that we went over the second half of the waltz routine, the bit I’ve been struggling with for weeks. It’s the strangest thing, some times it works perfectly and others it is a shambles. Towards the end, I was beginning to get the hang of it, but Anne Marie, the teacher we’ve had for the last two weeks is off to Australia tomorrow to see her daughter, so we’ll be in Michael’s hands for the next month or so. We’ll survive.

Took my bike out in the afternoon for another 25 minutes of actual cycling with a half hour or so’s interruption for photo taking. As it turned out, none of the photos were very good, so I fell back on an iPhone shot I’d taken in Glasgow earlier of two bottles talking to each other. At least, that’s how I saw it. I didn’t stage it, they were like that when I got there “Honest mister!” That became PoD.

Dinner was Sea Bass with Thai Flavours. Cooked en papillote (i.e. cooked in greaseproof paper). It’s a lovely way to cook fish, but I think I overdid the ginger. I’ll stick strictly to the recipe next time.

Went to salsa tonight and enjoyed the 7.30 class, but my knee was getting sore towards the end, so we didn’t stay for the 8.30 class, which was a shame for Scamp.  Another hot day.  We were so glad of the fans at the STUC.

Tomorrow morning I’m taking Shona to get an ambulatory BP monitor fitted in the morning. What fun for her! Physio in the afternoon.

DIY – 23 July 2018

Today I did some woodwork.

Before the woodwork, there was the dentist to prepare for. You know how you always give your teeth an extra scrub with the brush and maybe rinse with some mouthwash before you go to meet the dentist for your checkup? Well, that’s probably the only time my teeth see the brush, although I must admit I use a fair amount of mouthwash throughout the year. Everything was going swimmingly until I put brush in mouth and moved it around, that’s when I found a tiny chip of enamel had come loose from what turned out to be a small tooth, next to my incisor. What better time for it to happen than ten minutes before I was due to see the dentist. He brushed (no pun intended) it aside saying it was only a tiny chip and that he could simply smooth it into the curve of the tooth. I told him to go ahead. Other than that, my gums and teeth were fine. Total cost £2.48. A bargain to get out so easily.

With my tooth fixed, I went home to have lunch and test out my newly remodelled denture on a piece ’n’ ham. After that Scamp started one of those sentences that begin with “Do you know that piece of decking?”. Yes dear, I know that piece of decking. She wanted me to make a base for an old decorative planter we call the rockery in the back garden. For years its been supported precariously on some broken bricks to keep it up from the paving stones in front of the kitchen window. For years I’ve been threatening to make something more substantial to hold it. It looked like today was the day. An hour later after some measuring, sawing, drilling and driving in screws, it was done. No need for painting as the decking and the rest of the wood had been pressure treated, so it shouldn’t rot (fingers crossed). Best of all, it fitted into the space provided and left sufficient room around it for Scamp to squeeze in some other smaller plant pots to tidy the place even more. She was happy, I was happy that I’d eventually got round to doing a job that had been on my list for a long time. Two satisfied gardeners.

Before dinner I took a walk to St Mo’s and got a few beastie pictures as Scamp calls them. My favourite is the delightful beastie at the top of the page. I don’t know what kind of fly it is, but it’s quite nasty looking up close.

Dinner tonight was lemony creamy pasta with smoked salmon. It came from a Tesco recipe card and it worked. Well, it was a bit too lemony for my taste, but Scamp liked it. After that it was time for Salsa and I must admit I wasn’t looking forward to it tonight, for some reason, however it was a lot of fun. Again, possibly too much exercise for my poor knee, but it always seems looser after a good salsa workout. Today’s torture was Enchufé Moderno and Mascarita.  Came out feeling much better and dripping with sweat.  Although there was a lot of heavy rain tonight, the really hot weather continues.

Tomorrow two meetings. Meeting Fred for coffee at midday and then at night, meeting Becky Chambers to buy her new book Record of a Spaceborn Few. Looking forward to both.

Down on Glasgow Brown – 22 July 2018

It used to be Glasgow Green, but that was before the sun shone for a month while the council watched and did nothing.

This morning we went for a walk down to Glasgow Green. It’s ages since we’ve been there and had heard that all the grass had been burned away by the excessive heat and the lack of rain for the past month. We found a cordon running all the way around the frazzled grass from the People’s Palace to the McLennan Arch, while teams of gardeners worked at laying turf and watering the little bits of grass that have survived. Apparently they are preparing it for the 2018 European Championships which are due to begin on the 2nd August. I think they may be hiking to get it finished in time. However, if they had, during the dry spell, taken some time to assess the damage that was being done to the grass from all the events they were running and put in some work to repair it, there wouldn’t have been this last minute rush to fix things. Too busy rubbing their hands at all the money they were making. Shortsighted as usual. Still, we don’t live in Glasgow region, so it won’t be our Council Tax that will be paying for the re-turfing of The Green! One thing’s for certain, the money won’t be coming out of Glasgow Council coffers.

Back home and after lunch I took the Dewdrop out for a run again. While I was out the clouds did open for a while to deposit a gentle smir but it didn’t get as far as real rain. All it did was increase the humidity that was already making cycling uncomfortable. Did about 40 minutes of decent cycling at something approaching a working cadence. Maybe more tomorrow. Although, the first hurdle tomorrow is the visit to the dentist 🙁

Today we lifted our first tub of potatoes and got a fair few for our efforts. The variety was Charlotte. We forgot to weigh them, but our estimate is about 850g. Not bad from only three seed potatoes.

Today’s PoD is from the visit to The Green (or should that be The Brown) this morning and is a lone sculler on the Clyde. I liked the way the buildings in the background seem to rise up and dwarf her.

Tomorrow is the dentist and hopefully some salsa at night.

Turning the Tables – 20 July 2018

Found some woodwork to do for a change.

Scamp was off visiting one of her old friends out near Denny which left me with nothing to do and all morning to do it. It was raining for a change, so cycling was out. I could have gone to the gym, but that didn’t hold any fascination for me, so I started to tackle a bit of homework that’s been on my to-do list for a long time. My dad had an old folding card table, beech framed and covered with a green baize top. I’ve used it as a computer table and a painting table for years now, but the baize was torn and peeling off and the top was sagging in the middle. It really needs a new top and a new piece of green baize. Today I stripped the green felt off then carefully removed the hardboard top. That left the rebate in the top filled with the glued on felt. It took me over an hour, working with a couple of chisels to cut, pare and scrape the felt off. Then I had to decide what to do about the top. I’m still not sure. It really should be replaced, but I’m thinking it might be an idea to use plywood in place of hardboard because it is more stable. Went to price 3 or 4mm plywood in B&Q. I need a piece 503mm square, but the biggest offset they had was only 450mm wide. The only other option was a 2m x 0.6m sheet at an exorbitant price. I’ll have a look around. Maybe I’ll be able to find an off-cut down the Barras. Anyway, the hard work is done now, just the reassembly to do.

Did think of going over to St Mo’s to see if anything wanted its photo taken, but the day was unispiring with little directional light, so it was a last minute garden safari instead. It secured me PoD which is a flower from one of my Ambassador pea plants.

No plans for tomorrow. It’s forecast to be a better day than today, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings.