Family Photography – 24 September 2021

Today I was going to Glasgow on the train, to meet my brother. Unfortunately the Wee Red car wouldn’t take us to the station.

A rattle from the starter made me think it was a flat battery, except the battery was only a year old. Starter motor? I had a look under the bonnet, but there was nothing to see. Nothing loose, battery connections tight. Not sure if the RAC would come to the house, because we don’t have Home Start. The simple answer would be for Scamp to drive me there in the Blue Micra, but she’s only driven it once or twice a year ago. However, she stepped up to the plate, locked the red car and got into the driver’s seat of the Blue Micra. She drove me to the train station and I had plenty of time to get a ticket and get on the train. Meanwhile she texted me to say she had parked at Tesco.

I wandered round Bucky Street, because I was a bit early and it was a lovely clear morning, which was a change from the soaking Scottish drizzle at Croy station. I sat on the steps of the Concert Hall and took a few 18mm photos down Bucky Street to St Enoch at the bottom and on to the M74 in the distance with just the hint of Queens Park on the South Side. I was wearing a red carnation so he’d recognise me, but I spotted him first. Even from the back he was recognisably Alex. We met halfway up the stairs and after a quick hug we walked up Sausageroll Street.

Alex wanted to photograph some architecture and I suggested St Aloysius church on Rose Street. I really like this building and did a pen sketch of it some years ago. I can’t remember ever photographing it though. Maybe I did, but it’s so tall and there is no room to get distance to it, I don’t think any of my lenses could have coped with it. The 18mm managed it today. From there we walked down towards the motorway and more importantly the beautiful wedge shaped ex-bank on Shamrock Street. Glasgow’s version of the ‘Flat Iron’ building. While we were photographing it an older lady stopped to ask if we were interested in the building. She told us she lived in it and gave us a bit of its history. Built in 1909 and designed by architect Neil C. Duff. She said it was good that some people were interested enough in the building to photograph it. We thanked her and said our goodbyes.  Today’s PoD was a view of the front door of the ex-bank.

From there Alex wanted to photograph some modern day graffiti on the Chinese Supermarket across the street. Then we went for a coffee in Costa and compared notes. Next stop was Union Street for a bit of tech shopping, but the actual purchase didn’t happen because the queue was far too long. More graffiti on Mitchell Street (the lady picking people off the street), then a delightful tea and cake in the Willow Tea Rooms on Bucky Street. Never been in there before, but would go back again for the carrot cake!

All too soon it was time to go. We’d had a fairly comprehensive walk and photo shoot around central Glasgow. I got the bus home and Alex headed for the train. We’ve vowed to meet up again soon in two or three weeks, depending on the weather. I thoroughly enjoyed today. We will do it again.

Back home I brought tonight’s dinner. A small fish supper for Scamp and a single large fish for me. I needed that after a day of sugar overload. Found the battery in the car was completely flat. It’s been lying dormant for a long time, so maybe it needs to keep its wheels turning, or maybe there’s something more wrong. I’m suspecting a flat battery caused by a dodgy alternator, but we’ll get a charger tomorrow and try that first. One step at a time. That might be the theme for today.

No plans for tomorrow except charging a battery.

Driving Home – 16 September 2021

It always comes to this.

In the morning, Jamie and Sim took Vixen for a walk up Cautley Spout. We went to Kirkby Stephen. We took some photos of the church with that great green lawn in front of it. Then we went for the last walk this year, around the cricket pitch and up on to the viewpoint. It was a beautiful morning with a clear blue sky. A decent day to be driving home. We got some stuff at the Coop and went back to the house to pack up and stuff everything in the car.

When Jamie and Sim returned with a boisterous Vixen, we all had lunch together, said our cheerios and drove off, travelling back the way we’d come last Friday. It was a fairly good run north and we were back home and parked in the late afternoon.

PoD was the church at Kirkby Stephen.

It was an early night for us, because I was really tired. So tired I didn’t hear Jamie and Sim’s text to say they were home safe, just before midnight.

Hopefully,tomorrow we’ll, all four of us, wake up in our own beds.

Brough Castle revisited – 11 September 2021

First day walk about.

We drove into Kirkby Stephen which is the nearest town and parked at the main carpark beside the auction mart. Carpark was really busy, even for a Saturday, but we found a space. The church bells were ringing and we assumed it was a wedding. Lots of well dressed people heading for the church and that’s what initially gave Scamp the inkling that it wasn’t a wedding. They weren’t dressed for a wedding apparently. It turned out it was it was a memorial for a woman called Joan Johnstone who was an important local Councillor.

We walked over Frank’s Bridge. Not a clue who Frank was, then around the cricket pitch looking for the path to take us up to the viewpoint on the hill which sort of overlooks the town. Eventually found that I’d led us the wrong way. How strange! 😏. We walked back, but couldn’t find any place to have lunch. Everywhere was full or closed. Presumably so the owners could get to the memorial service. Scamp got ten allium bulbs from the same shop we bought last year’s bulbs from and they turned out so well. With that done we chose to drive to Brough to see if it was open today.

Brough wasn’t nearly as big as Kirkby Stephen. It seemed to comprise of two streets at right angles to each other and a whole host of scarecrows. Lots of the houses had these, sometimes creepy, statues outside. We didn’t stop, but we did find a sign pointing to Brough Castle which we’d visited many years ago. When we stopped there on the way home from a visit down south we had lunch at the tea shop there and today we were happy to see it was still there. There were loads of scarecrows in the surrounding streets too, but not as creepy as the ones in Brough. After coffee and a warm, but not hot, panini each we went for a walk round the castle. The views from it were excellent and all under a blue sky with bubbly clouds too. I took lots of photos and so did Scamp. We walked round the village next and took in the Scarecrow Festival, because that’s what it was.

PoD was a view of Brough Castle with a few sheep and a horse to fill up that empty green space.

Jamie and Simonne were cooking tonight. Beetroot falafels with a green salad – we must try that.

Watched the strange new qualifying for F1 tonight understood it a bit more than last time.  Then we watched a few episodes of Spitting Image which was repeats on Britbox and therefore slightly out of sync with life in 2021, but still funny.

Tomorrow we may go for a longer walk along the viaduct path.

 

Only available in silver – 6 August 2021

Not only that. Silver was twenty quid more than black.

We had a rather lazy morning with me reading Merlin Sheldrake’s book on fungi. I never knew they were so devious and also interesting. The section I was reading today was about lichen. Amazing things. I already knew about they really were a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae, but I didn’t really understand what that meant. Now I do. I also found the word “mitochondria” and I wanted to shout out “Hey! My son knows about them!” This Merlin bloke treats this whole book like a thesis with all the references that entails. Heavy science for me, but absolutely absorbing in a literal sense. Who knew that lichen can absorb rocks!

Finally I had to leave the world of lichen, fungi and other things of that ilk and get up and face the day. We’d said we’d go in to Glasgow today and that’s what we did. As we were driving along the M80 in the general direction of Glasgow, we saw the CITRAC signs warning about surf water. Now the CITRAC is notorious for getting things wrong, so we ignored the warnings. Hmm, then we saw the spray on both carriageways ahead. A few seconds later the rain hit us, literally hit us. I did consider turning off and going back home, because the wipers weren’t really clearing the screen and cars on the outside lane were leaving wakes from the wheels. Then as quickly as it had come, it stopped.

Parked no problem in Buchanan Galleries and I walked into JL while Scamp went off to Boots. I was looking for a camera, but they only had it in silver. I wanted it in black, and I was going to take the black one when the bloke said that the silver one was twenty quid more expensive. Twenty quid just for a silver camera and lens? I think not. I ordered it and paid for it. It will be available for collection on Tuesday.

Met Scamp and we walked down to Paesano for a pizza lunch. She had Tomato sugo No garlic, oregano, Evoo (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) plus Spinach and Mushroom. I had a basic number 5 which is Prosciutto with mushrooms, tomato sugo, mozzarella and Evoo. Both were delivered double quick and mine had that lovely, slightly burnt crust. Delicious! The next time you are in Glasgow, you but go!

I walked round to Cass Art for a browse. Scamp found a dress shop to investigate. When I came out of the art shop it was bucketing down, absolutely hammering it. Scamp had texted me to say she was trying on a dress or two and I agreed to meet her there. That meant I’d to try to get into some shelter first before I got soaked. I found a lot of folk sheltering under an extended roof of an office building that gave me a good view of others sheltering under the portico of the GOMA. Instant photo that became PoD.

Found Scamp and we agreed the first dress was a possible but the second was a definite no-no. She wanted to leave it for a day or two to think about the ‘possible’ and I suggested she join me when I go to collect the camera on Tuesday, all being well. After that we found the quickest and shortest way from Queen Street to the Buchanan Galleries, but we were both still soaked by the time we got there.

By the time we were leaving the car park the rain was almost off, but traffic was jammed up everywhere. That’s when Scamp’s knowledge of Glasgow came to the rescue as she directed me back on to the motorway. I didn’t think we’d missed the rain. I was almost certain we were going to drive right into it again and I was right. A few miles out of Glasgow City we drove through it again, and again, by the time we arrived home it was almost dry. The rain did catch up with us again once we were in the house and we had some thunder too, but no lightning yet.

In what was left of the afternoon I found all the bits and pieces of the camera kit I’m going to sell to help pay for the new camera. We’d always agree that this was a ‘One in, One out’ deal and I’m happy to stick to that.

A short practise tonight, then a study of the video before another shorter but more useful practise almost prepared us for tomorrow. Hopefully we won’t look as if we’re totally lost this time.

Tomorrow’s weather looks much like today’s, so it will need to be another early rise to be there for 11am.

 

 

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.

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.

Kirkby Stephen on our own – 14 September 2020

The other two were off climbing mountains, we were being tourists, in the sun.

Parked at the car park JIC had used on Saturday and then headed along the main street, which didn’t take very long. There wasn’t much to see. Walked back and had a look through the Cloisters, went through and had a look at the old church behind them. Took the path round the lawn and then exited on to the path that took us over Frank’s Bridge. Don’t know who Frank was, but he made a good job of the bridge. The air was full of the buzzing of bees in the bushes beside the bridge. A few butterflies too. Lots of ducks swimming in the River Eden underneath, but we didn’t have time for ducks. Instead we were following the path we’d travelled a couple of days before, except …

Except, instead of turning right after crossing a bridge over a stream and climbing up, up, up, we turned left and followed the stream past pretty houses whose gardens ran right down to the stream. How brilliant that would be to have a stream at the end of your garden, until it floods, then it might be a different story. We walked on and took a left turn at what seemed to be the end of the village. That eventually took us round past the cricket ground back to Frank’s Bridge. Took some photos of the ducks in the river under the bridge and watched a dog called Betty charging into the water and scaring the living daylights out of the ducks. I know this is boring, and means nothing to you, but remember whose blog this is!

Back in the town again it looked like there had been a funeral because lots of people dressed in black and the men with black ties had commandeered all the tables in the café Scamp wanted to have lunch in. Instead, we had a lunch in a Costa across the street. After a toastie and a coffee for me and a millionaire’s shortbread and latte for Scamp we crossed the road again. Scamp bought a sieve for fishing out poached eggs (that’s the best description I can muster) from an ironmongers. Then we found a deli where I got some marmalade that didn’t taste as home-made as it was advertised and a couple of russets, plus some veg for tonight’s risotto. Walked to the car, drove to the Coop and got some nice beer Lost Lager, plus other stuff, as usual when in foreign climes.

Drove home, to our home for the week. I’d bought a sim card for my old iPhone and spent a lost half an hour trying to get it to accept my credit card details to top-up Eventually I got exasperated and after checking with my bank that I hadn’t been spoofed out of my worldly goods, I shut the phone down. Thank you ‘Kenneth’ from O2 customer help who did his level best to get me sorted out. Went outside into the sunshine and while Scamp read, I sketched Pinfold Cottage where we are staying.

Dinner tonight was Prawn & Pea Risotto, cooked by Scamp.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go back to the waterfall, but this time we’re taking the more leisurely route.

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!

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 Men in Red – 11 February 2020

Today we went to the tower. Luckily we came back again.

Walk to the station. Train to Wimbledon (no Wombles again!). Underground to Earls Court. Change train for Tower Hill, and we’re there. Tower of London awaits.

Walked to the ticket office and got our tickets, concessions of course. Had our bags searched and joined the crowd for the first of many interesting and really entertaining bloodthirsty stories of the tower’s chequered history told by the Yeoman Warder in his black and red uniform (Don’t dare call it a costume!). Beheadings, stranglings, hangings and interments, they were all laid out in their gory glory. It was great fun. The only problem was the wind. It stole away any warmth in the sun and nearly blew away our Yeoman Warder’s hat. Poor bloke must have been chilled to the bone having to stand there and give his talks.

After our 45 minute tour we went in search of some coffee and possibly some soup to warm us. It was tomato and basil soup and it was very welcome. Next Scamp wanted to see the Crown Jewels. Now I’m not entirely convinced that what we saw were the actual Crown Jewels, but they were certainly impressive. As well as the Crowns, lots of them, Sceptres another bucket load and a cardboard box of Orbs, there were platters, plates, punch bowls (one big enough to use as a bath) and assorted cutlery and tableware. All behind glass and looking splendid, but how would I a non-expert be able to tell if they were real or fake? I reckon the real stuff is in a vault somewhere guarded by a dozen big Alsatians and a battalion of the SAS. The vault itself is on an island with a moat infested with crocodiles and the Loch Ness Monster’s wee brother. That’s where I’d put the Crown Jewels, not in a glass box for every Tom, Dick and Harry to gawp at. They weren’t even in the Tower itself. They were in a building across the road. The Tower is used to display all the guns, swords and assorted weaponry from down the ages. Interesting, but pointless these days. (Note: Some of the swords were definitely NOT pointless. They had very real points.). It was the tower that provided the PoD.

When we’d had our fill of riches and weapons and been told all the blood-thirsty stories, we took the trains back to Hazy’s and dinner. It was good to be somewhere warm after all that freezing wind.

Today’s prompt was ‘Burn’. My take on it was burning the candle at both ends. We all do it. We all think we’re getting away with it, but sooner or later, that plan of action will catch up with us.