Shopping at The Fort – 23 June 2021

Today Scamp wanted to visit The Fort in Glasgow. I went along to have a browse in Waterstones.

I also wanted to have a look for a new pair of trainers. My old, much maligned Merrills are beginning to fall apart. That seems a common occurrence for me and Merrills. The boots are heading the same way, in fact they are leading the race to the tip. I didn’t see anything that inspired me to pull out my wallet and commit some of my hard earned cash to JD Sport or any other footwear purveyors. Not a total surprise to Scamp or I.

I did have a browse around Waterstones and noted a few book titles that I might add to my reading list. However, I’ll probably wait a month or so until the prices come down to something more like reality. The price of books these days!!

Met us with Scamp again and went food shopping in M&S. The till was run by someone who looked disdainfully at all these shoppers waiting for her to scan their miserable food items. Eventually, when the time came to pay she attempted a smile, but I think she needs more time in front of the mirror, practising it.

When I was wandering around this fortress earlier I noticed that almost an entire row of premises were closed and boarded up. Or, as the sign said, just ready to become “New stores you’re sure to adore”. It’s the effect of the pandemic on shops. Topshop, TopMan, Dorothy Perkins, Wallis, Evans and Burton all closed for good. Only one left in this block.
Who’s NEXT?
This retail disaster became my PoD. After a bit of manipulation in Photoshop, the three frame panorama looked pretty much how I’d seen it.

Back home and after lunch I started to cut down a rogue tree that has appeared between us and our next door neighbour. I asked her last week if she was really attached to it and she said no, so today I took the loppers and with help from Scamp we got about half of it cut down, chopped up and dumped in the Garden Waste bin. Thankfully it should get uplifted tomorrow, because it’s nearly full now. Scamp went off to visit her sister and while she was away I potted up a sickly looking chilli plant and half a dozen aquilegia seedlings. I had just finished and left her a note to say I was off to St Mo’s when the lady herself returned. There was nothing of note in St Mo’s. I’d seen a Fire Bug yesterday and was hoping to be able to grab a shot of it, but it was nowhere to be seen. Maybe tomorrow.

For dinner tonight Scamp made Pulled Chicken and Chipotle Black Beans. The last time she made it, there was very little chilli heat. There was tonight! Hope the remainder doesn’t get hotter for lunch tomorrow.

A quick dance practise tonight and I think we may have ironed out one of the sticky bits in the Slow Foxtrot. It’s all to do with a little twist before the second Whisk. That probably means nothing to you, although JIC may know what I’m talking about. It’s really just a little reminder to us that might explain how we’ve solved the problem.

No real plans for tomorrow. We had some rain tonight and we’re expecting more tomorrow. The gardens need it.

Out for a spin – 27 May 2021

We spun our way over to Fife and parked ourselves in Kirkcaldy.

Walked out towards the old Seafield Tower. A ruined tower that dates from the 16th century. It’s in a poor state these days with notices telling all and sundry that it’s a dangerous site and you must keep out. We kept out today. We’ve wandered round it in the past, but it looks as if we won’t be walking round its ancient walls again. It looks precarious. From there we wandered on to look for the seals that loll about the rocks not far from the shoreline. It took us a while to see them, but they were there looking for all the world like big fat slugs. They may be beautiful creatures in the water, but out of it they look pretty ugly to me.

We climbed a bit further until we reached the part where the path drops down at some steps to run alongside the railway line. We’ve walked along this part of the path before and it’s not very scenic, so I had to be satisfied with taking a few shots of the view across the Forth to Edinburgh and East Lothian.

On the way back to the car, and just before we reached the Tower, I saw a patch of Teasels growing wild in the grass. I used them to frame a view of the tower, then decided that, actually they made a more interesting subject than the tower, so reframed, refocused and produced what was to become PoD.

Back at the car, Scamp had been thoughtful enough to pack a flask of hot water and some picnic food. We sat for half an hour taking in the views of the beach and the remains of the breakwater from when there was a coal mine where an estate of new houses now stand. I wonder if half of those folk knew what was under their foundations when they bought their sparkling new dream house. The seams of coal that was mined at Seafield reputedly ran for miles under the Forth.

After a beautiful day in Fife with wall to wall blue skies, we drove back to dull grey skies over Cumbersheugh. It was a good decision to get up and go early for a change and an even better idea to go east rather than west.

Topic to draw today was An Extension Cable. It may not be the most exciting subject, but it was what was asked for and I’ve drawn one of our four gang, three pin, switched UK extension cables. A must for any house built before about 2000. Modern houses have more wall sockets, even then, there are never enough of them. The drawing was good fun to produce, once I’d worked out the perspective.

Tomorrow there are no plans as far as I’m concerned. As usual, it’s weather dependent.

The coat of many colours – 11 November 2020

We couldn’t decide what to do today, but settled on Glasgow as the best option as it was dull and looked like rain was on the way.

Scamp wanted to look for a new coat. I wanted a couple of new sketch books. Scamp had also noticed an advert for a pop-up shop selling Harris Gin at Cafe Gandolfi so, three birds with one stone.

First stop was JL to see if they had any coats Scamp would be seen wearing. They hadn’t. I looked at a few lenses, but none I would consider buying either. She also looked at a duvet cover she’s fancied for a long time, but they didn’t have it in the right size. Further down Buchanan Galleries was Next, but none of the coats there took her fancy either. It was beginning to look like a waste of a day.

We walked down to CassArt and I did get the two sketch books I wanted. Next on the list was M&S for a coat. They had lots. Red ones, white ones and blue ones. I was beginning to think it was the Rangers Shop we’d staggered into. Eventually, after trying, rejecting and re-trying various styles, some with furry collars, some without, she finally settled on a blue one with removable furry collar. I got a jersey to replace the one I’m wearing as I type this. The one I got doesn’t have an oil stain on the front, but I’ll soon fix that!

We were on a roll. Walked on to Cafe Gandolfi and found the shop, conveniently situated where the bar used to be. Now that almost all bars in Scotland are closed, it made a good use of the space. Got the gin, time for a coffee.

This is where it all falls down. We went to Cafe Nero. Usually seriously good coffee. Not now. Two shots of coffee in one of the big cardboard buckets that hold about 500ml then topped up with about 400ml of hot water. Worse still I had what I thought was a Pigs in Blankets toastie while Scamp had her usual latte and a tuna melt. I hadn’t noticed the word ‘Swill’ between ‘Pigs’ and ‘in’. A slippery slimy couple of doorsteps of bread that did actually taste like blankets, or what I imagine blankets taste like, sandwiched between was the pig swill filling with one sausage and a couple of chewy bits of bacon. If you get the chance, avoid Pig Swill in Blanket like the plague, or it’s very likely that’s what you’ll get. Bubonic on a plate. I may use this paragraph as my email to Cafe Nero.

Drove back home through the gathering gloom, and the rain that had been threatening all day.  However, I was fairly sure I had a PoD in the bag, and I was right. It’s the rear of an old building on Trongate.  An example of the less publicised Glasgow architecture.

Tomorrow looks like a better day than today. We may manage a walk.

Today was a lovely day – 30 October 2020

It was all that the weather fairies promised and we made the most of it.

So where would we go today? East or West, what was best? I chose East and Scamp refined it to South Queensferry.

We arrived there just after midday and walked down to the pier after finding a parking place on the hill leading out of the town. Cold blustery wind blowing down the estuary from the west. It might not look it from PoD but that was in the lee of the wind. The other side of the wall it was a very different picture with waves crashing over the sea wall.

We walked into the town proper from the harbour, passing a dozen or so folk fresh from a wedding ceremony at the Registry Office. They looked cold and unconvinced this was the best day of their lives. I couldn’t blame them. Walking along by the estuary in those “peery heels” as my mum would have described them with a gale blowing behind them couldn’t have been fun. One of the bridesmaids had decided that bare feet were better than wearing the uncomfortable posh shoes she was supposed to wear, and who could blame her?

I think the walk along the Main Street truly brought home to me the misery that Covid has caused to small communities. Shop after shop with either ‘Closed’ signs or ‘Everything Must Go’ in the window. Tiny wee ice cream shops reduced to selling tea and coffee to make some money, because realistically, who wants ice cream when it’s nearly November? Not one pub open. Not one restaurant open. I could almost hear the bell tolling the death knell of tourism in Scotland.

To cheer us up and to provide lunch, we had a portion of chips and a slice of really good tray pizza from a wee chip shop that was the only one doing a roaring trade on such a cold day. We sat on an uncomfortable seat eating the chips while we watched the waves crashing. The sun was shining, but the wind made it bitter cold. However, we were out of the house. The weather was dry. The sun was shining from a blue sky and we had chips. What on earth is wrong with that?

We drove home by a circuitous route provided by me and the sat nav. Eventually reached the motorway and basically came back the way we had gone a few hours earlier.

PoD was the view from the pier. No sketch yet because it took me too long to decide how to interpret ‘Ominous’ and because the gin was too strong. I’ll play catch up tomorrow, hopefully.

Rain predicted for tomorrow, so it will be a stay at home day I think. Still, we did get out in the sunshine today.

Foodies again – 24 September 2020

Second day of eating out this week.

Eating out in Glasgow this time. Two Fat Ladies in Blythswood Street. Quite compact and bijou. Specialises in seafood which isn’t too good for me, but usually there’s a meat dish or a chicken dish. Not so today. Scamp’s selection from the menu was: Mussels, followed by Channa Dal with a Vegetable Masala, finishing off with Sticky Toffee Pudding and Custard. I had Mushroom Rarebit, then the same Channa Dal with a Vegetable Masala and decided to learn from yesterday and just have a Cappuccino. I shouldn’t say ‘just a Cappuccino’, this must have been the best Cap’ I’ve ever had! Nero and Costa, you have a lot to learn from Two Fat Ladies as far as coffee is concerned. The menu today restricted me a bit. Of the three mains on offer, the only one I could have was the dal. Not that I’m regretting it, because this was up to Delia’s standard, well not quite, but almost. I must say that Neil’s mum makes the best Channa Dal I’ve ever eaten. This one was hotter than her’s and almost as tasty. Although I said the restaurant was ‘compact and bijou’, you really want to see the size of the kitchen. I passed it on the way to the ‘little boys room’. It wasn’t so much a kitchen as a galley from a small boat, like a rowing boat. The poor guy who works there must be skinny as a rake to fit in!

After lunch we wandered down SausageRoll Street and drove home via Calders Garden Centre to get some Geum plants to keep Scamp’s Allium bulbs company. We bought the bulbs in Kirkby Stephen last week and she planted them during the week.

I’d had a look at a discounted camera in JL and thought it might be interesting. It’s a Sony A7 at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately the prices of the lenses it takes are not at all reasonable. Most of them are the same price as the camera, which makes me wonder what quality the piece of glass in the front of the camera is. I think I’ll leave that one to someone less critical than me.

PoD is a shot looking up at the Premier Inn on SausageRoll Street. It looks like it’s getting its second refurb in as many years.

I think we’ve done our fair bit of eating out for this week. Tomorrow may be a stay at home dinner.

Pizza! – 10 September 2020

Today we were heading for Glasgow.

A bit of window shopping in JL but nothing even barely whetted my appetite, so we went for a walk down Bucky Street and then I suggested we see if we could get a table in Paesano. We got there just after it opened, so we could get a table. We had our details taken and our temperature checked and were deemed fit and healthy enough to eat a pizza. We had our favourites. Scamp had her own design No1: (Tomato sugo, oregano, olive oil, no garlic, no cheese, extra rocket.)
I had a No 3: (Tomato sugo, capers, olives, anchovies, mozzarella and olive oil)
They arrive about three minutes after we ordered them. Even after we had finished and paid and were on our way out, the place wasn’t nearly as busy as it used to be. Surely this new-normal can’t stay this way. Things must change.

I had a wander round CassArt and got the Posca white acrylic paint brush I was looking for, a sketchbook of kraft paper and a white marker. Rather a frugal amount. I was being careful. Just a few things I can’t get anywhere else.

Had a coffee in Nero but it felt watery and tasteless, partly because it was filling the entire cardboard cup which must have been a ‘large’ size and the server probably thought that a ‘regular’ in that big cup looked a bit mean. Next time I’ll ask for a ‘regular’ size in a half cup. Maybe I’m spoilt now by my own version of coffee from the De’Longhi, but before Covid, Nero made good coffee. This stuff tasted like Costa. Not impressed.

Grabbed a couple of street shots outside the GOMA in Queen Street, but wasn’t all that impressed with the result. Also tried to get some reflections from the frontage of the new Queen Street Station, but there was too much rubbish lying around, destroying the effect. Once it get’s cleaned up, possibly by the end of the century it might be possible to get better shots. As it was, a digitally altered shot of the GOMA got PoD.

Had the second batch of our potatoes for dinner tonight. Mine with bacon and mixed beans, Scamp chose not to have the bacon and stuck to Potatoes and Beans. Both were very nice, but then again, these were Artisan Potatoes!

That’s about it for today. Tomorrow there is rain forecast and lots of it too. Lovely!

Going Solo – 5 September 2020

No co-pilot, no radio operator. Flying solo.

Scamp suggested I go out for a walk along the Luggie today while she went to Tesco. It was her turn to cook and we’d discussed her short list. It seemed like a plan.

Before we went our separate ways in separate cars, we emptied our ‘Tattie Bag’ which we’d planted with three carefully selected Jersey Royals or something that looked like them away back in early May. Not seed potatoes, just some ordinary potatoes that had been chitting on the window ledge in the toilet. We actually got better results than we’ve had with ‘real’ seed potatoes. A nice big bowl full of them. Only one scabby one. I’d consider that a success.

Scamp drove off and I followed suit a few minutes later. Found out a few more things about Blue, like where to find the ‘destinations’ I’d programmed into the satnav. Took a dozen or so photos of the railway bridge over the Luggie from one side and 42 photos of it from the other side. I was intending to create two panoramas from them in an old piece of software I’d found the other day. Surprisingly it handled both sets of images well, although it struggled with the larger of the two. Not surprisingly the finished article weighed in at just under 2GB. That’s a lot of GB. The larger one became PoD.

Scamp’s dinner was Tuna Pasta with Beans (and chilli flakes). Possibly a touch too much chilli flakes, but it tasted very good indeed. I think we were both thankful for the half price trifle she’d bought for dessert!

Apparently NLC in their wisdom have granted permission for an outdoor funfair in Cumbersheugh in these Covid-19 times. What else would you do when Lanarkshire is about to have sanctions imposed to control an increase in infections than encourage crowds of people to attend a funfair? I suppose the council will have been paid royally by the promoters.

Tomorrow we may go for a socially responsible walk down Glasgow Green.

Bits and pieces – 19 August 2020

A day of bits.

Lots of bits, all bolted, glued and welded together to form a cohesive day. It all went wrong when I made a list of all the things I wanted to do today. I did actually do all those things, but the idea was that I’d sacrifice the morning to those tasks and that would leave the afternoon free to paint or draw. Burns got it right again “The best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley”

First, get my thoughts down in Goodreads about “Flowers for Algernon”. Did you notice the link there? Algernon is a mouse and the Burns quote above was from “To A Mouse.” See, there’s a lot of thought goes into this. Anyway, the write up took minutes and that was a tick in one box. Next on the list was find the big thick graphic stick I needed to add texture and shadows to the sketch I was going to do. I’d looked everywhere last night and hoped I’d just put my hand on it today in the light. Gave up eventually and ordered a new one from Amazon. Five minutes later I found the graphic stick. It was in a box in the bedroom. Don’t you hate when that happens. Next was to solve today’s sudoku. It was impossible. I gave up after half an hour. Went in to the garden to prune my buddleia bush. Then Scamp and I proceeded to chop down the original buddleia bush that had only flowered once or twice and then in the autumn once all the butterflies that it’s supposed to attract had gone. It was a tough bush. It needed the combined efforts of a hacksaw, an axe and finally a full size panel saw, but it did come out of its pot eventually.

I should have been painting after lunch, but instead I took myself, my camera bag and my Benbo tripod off to walk along the Luggie Water. I’d forgotten to add ‘Take a photo’ to my morning list of things to do and it would only take a few minutes. The minutes somehow joined together to make an hour and a half, but I got the photo. The PoD is the railway bridge over the Luggie. Not a flower and not a beastie, but a landscape and an architectural picture for a change.

Back home I had a look a the the resulting photos and after some work, posted two on Flickr and found that it was now dinner time. Scamp made a really interesting veg curry and had baked a cake with chunks of pear in it. Quite heavy and moist, but beautiful cinnamon flavour. She’d also found time to cut the front grass. Makes me look like the lazy person I am. The painting never got done, nor did the sketch. Maybe tomorrow, or maybe I’ll get Scamp to do them. That way they’ll get done.

Tomorrow is to be wild with heavy rain and strong winds, and more of the same on Friday. Well, it is summer and it is Scotland

27º in Scotland? – 31 July 2020

That just can’t be right, surely? Yet, that was what the thermometer in the car read. The outside temperature this afternoon was 27ºc.

We knew it was going to be hot today, but although we’d been warned, we just didn’t believe it until it happened. We’d decided that we would go out somewhere for a walk. We’d considered and rejected a few places. There was no point in going to the seaside because everyone would be going there. We finally settled on Chatelherault which was once the hunting lodge of the Dukes of Hamilton. Now it’s a country park in South Lanarkshire. Every time I go there I think it’s obscene that one family should have owned such a house in an enormous tract of land while others, the workers, were living in slum conditions with a tiny postage stamp of a garden to grow basic vegetables if they were lucky. Thankfully this building and its lands are now owned by South Lanarkshire Council and are open to everyone, even the scruffs from North Lanarkshire!

We chose a walk that we’d been on before, down through the gigantic pine trees with the Avon Water flowing below us. At the end of the walk we saw this view and it became PoD. It was good to see the ordinary folk staking their claim to some space in the sun on such a bright and sunny day. Actually it wasn’t all that sunny, but it was bright and warm and a clever bit of software changed the sky from milky white to summer blue with fluffy clouds. That’s the way it should have been anyway!

Once we’d walked “round the policies” as Colin would say, we drove home leaving a parking space for one of the eagle eyed visitors. Drove home and had lunch, then sat in the warm air of the garden for a while reading and listening to weans with their Drum ’n’ Bass ‘thumpy tunes’ as they walked along the footpath behind the house. Were we like that once? I suppose we were. Rebels without a clue. Found a little neon blue weevil in the grass and took its photo before it flew away to its next modelling assignment. Still don’t know exactly what it was.

Dinner tonight was a freezer raid for me. Butcher’s burger from January, butcher’s sausages from May, Waitrose liver from yesterday and an egg from a different butcher and half a portion of fried potatoes. A very mixed grill, but delicious. Scamp had trout fillet with the other half portion of fried potatoes. It was clouding over and attempting to rain by the time we were finished dinner and on to pudding (blackcurrant jelly and ice cream) and soon after that came a flash of lightning and the rumble of thunder. The rain became torrential and I think you could say the heatwave was over, but we did get 27ºc on the way home from Chatelherault.

Tomorrow the temperature is predicted to be a more reasonable 17º to 19º. Warm, but not crazy warm. We’ll see.

The sky is falling – 3 July 2020

Well, that’ the way it felt today with the amount of rain that was dropping from the sky.

We had intended to drive in to Glasgow today for a walk down Bucky Street and then, maybe along Argyle Street and up past a certain art shop in Queen Street, then drive back home. That was the plan yesterday, but it didn’t quite work out that way. First off we needed to take Scamp’s wee car out for a run. Just to make sure that the battery was charged and that it was continuing to charge. It passed both tests with flying colours. It started first time and with Scamp driving and me as radio operator, we managed to code in the security number correctly. Who among my readers could tell me that they’d have the radio security number for their car, ten years after they bought it? Scamp knew exactly where the four digit code was and even corrected me when I initially typed it in wrongly. Ms Memory, that’s Scamp!

She had decided that she’d drive in to Robroyston, turn there and come home. Halfway along the motorway, with blinding rain and spray it didn’t look as if we’d get that far, but she stuck it out and we turned at the retail park and drove straight back home without stopping. Battery seems to be charging properly and no problems with it at all. The rain seemed even worse coming home and we were both glad to park up and have lunch. One trial over.

In the afternoon I walked down to the shops and got the shopping for tonight’s dinner in M&S where I was complimented on my frog mask, but reminded that from Monday, masks will be mandatory in shops. Shoppers will not be allowed to enter M&S without one. Not everyone is happy about it, it seems, but it doesn’t bother either of us. A mask is now just something you keep in your back pocket or your bag and slip it on as soon as you enter an enclosed space. How easily we become used to the new regime.

I managed to grab one shot today. Taken from the living room window, it’s a close up of a pink rosebud from the climbing rose at the back door. Scamp reckons it came from my mum and dad’s house in Larky. That might be true. Anyway, the rosebud made PoD.

Dinner was disappointing despite all the ingredients looking like they worked together. It was a ‘healthy’ recipe, not so much a low salt as a no salt recipe. There is no point in making an ultra low salt recipe if, in the end, it tastes of nothing. Salt is there for a purpose. It’s a flavour enhancer. True, too much is dangerous, but too much of anything is dangerous. I may try it again but with the addition of that four letter flavour enhancer this time. Vegetable, Herb and Smoked Trout Patties if you must know.

I had a drawing for yesterday, but was too tired to post it, so it went in today. It was Glasgow’s pigeons sitting on one of the old buildings in Argyle Street. Today’s is a still life of the fruit bowl. Drawn on a rough textured cheap sketch book from Cass Art using a cheap compressed charcoal pencil from The Works. It just shows that not all art materials need to be expensive. The pencil and paper work so well together, they are great to draw with.  Both drawings now on Instagram and FB.

Tomorrow looks to be much less wet than today and we may go out. That’s all I’m saying.