Tidying up loose ends – 16 May 2022

Lots of stuff to do yet, but it’s getting clearer what’s needed and what’s not.

It was a wet morning and Scamp was out to Tesco, which gave me a chance to tidy up the back bedroom and clear a space to work on. When she came back the settee was cleared and ready.

To save time we just drove to The Fort. We were parked right next to another blue Micra. Exactly the same model and style. Twins! I wanted a book at Waterstones and she was looking for cards and gift boxes for yesterday’s gifts. I hate that work, ‘gift’. It’s so lacking in definition and emotion. I’d much rather say ‘Prezzy’, but I don’t suppose you can go into a shop and ask “Where do you keep the Prezzy boxes, please?” So that vanilla word, ‘gift’ will have to do. In Waterstones I managed to find both the books I was considering, sitting on the rack next to one another, so I bought both. One with a gift voucher (there’s that word again. I’ll call it a book token next time) and one with real money. The books were “May God Forgive” and “Bad Actors”. Met Scamp on the way back from the book shop and we drove home.

Back home it was lunch time and also time for a couple of chapters in my new Robert Pobi book “Under Pressure”which looks like another page turner. (Hazy, I don’t know if Neil has read this one, it’s the next in the sequence after “City of Windows”. Maybe you could mention to him.) I gave myself a limit of reading until 2.30 and then I had to start sorting things out after. I ended up with the settee covered again with clothes ready to go into cases. After I’d done all I could do, I grabbed a camera and two lenses and walked over to St Mo’s, hoping for some damselflies again, but there were none. The rain from the morning had disappeared and it was actually quite warm. Much warmer that the 10ºc we had going in to The Fort. I did find a big spider tending its web just by the side of the boardwalk and it became PoD. Not much light though, because those heavy rain bearing clouds were still hung overhead, so I took that as a sign to take my lucky spider shots and go home.

Dinner tonight was a bit of a mix up. Boiled some spaghetti, then cut some shallots and red pepper thin and fried them in some oil before adding some passata. While it was cooking through, griddled some slices of courgettes, aubergines and mushrooms in my ribbed pan. When the pasta was cooked I added it to the sauce and served the veg as a side. It was different and it seemed to work. This chapter is a reminder to me of how I made it.

We had a quick refresher of the “Baby” waltz, the Sweetheart Cha-Cha and the Fishtails from the quickstep.

Tomorrow is the last day of the short salsa class in Bishopbriggs. Who knows what Jamie Gal will throw into the mix!

Back and Forth – 11 May 2022

After yesterday’s strange behaviour of the Blue car, I was hoping for some resolution, or at least an explanation.

Before that could happen, there was some coffee to be drunk and some stories to be told. Before even that, Scamp was out to get her hair cut. With that done successfully, we headed hesitantly to the Costa in the Town Centre. Nothing untoward happened and the blue car behaved very well.

I met Val and we had Flat Whites and a cake each. He was telling me he’d had a fall and showed me the bruises to prove it. He has been renovating a 1946 radio. Val loves a challenge and this was certainly that. Of course, something of that age doesn’t have transistors inside, it runs on valves. Glass valves with all sorts of coils and things inside them and a multitude of pins protruding from the base. I told him I remember my dad taking the valves out of our old radio and cleaning all those fine pins with emery paper, dusting them off and carefully putting them back in place. It was a wonderful thing when he could tune into radio stations in faraway places and hear folk talking in foreign languages. Nowadays we just take without thinking that you can see and hear what’s happening all over the globe, instantly on TV or on your phone even. I admire Val’s ability to rebuild these old devices.  I showed him the photos in a photobook Scamp and I had had printed of our long weekend in Old Newton.  Jamie and Simonne, he was very impressed with the house and garden, as was Isobel when she saw the book.

I had a word with Isobel who was with Sheila in a different part of Costa’s. She looks so much younger now that she doesn’t need glasses after her cataract surgery. A very independent woman she delighted in telling me that she manages to put her drops in by herself.

I drove Val home because he’s feeling a bit stiff after his fall and also because he’s lost a bit of his confidence. Then I went and filled up the blue car before picking up Scamp and Isobel then took the lady with the new all seeing eye back to the Village.

Drove to Stirling, ready for a fight, as Scamp described it. The young bloke on the desk listened to my story and started telling me they didn’t have any free appointments today, then when I said I needed the car for next week he relented and managed to get me a slot at 4pm today. I thanked him and we drove home, had a bit of lunch before hoovering up all the sticky tree buds that always appear at this time of year. When I thought the car was looking at least a bit tidier than it had been I drove to Stirling again. Dropped off the keys and sat down to read my Kindle which I’d been bright enough to bring with me. Just over an hour later the young bloke came over and showed me the printout from the computer the blue car had been connected to. He agreed that there half a dozen different failures the test had thrown up. The mechanic had cleared all the fails and re-tested the car and it came up clean, so it was safe to drive. I thanked him for getting me the slot and for dealing with it so promptly, and I was on my way back home, through the rush hour traffic. I’d hate to have to drive through that every day. Fish and chips for dinner. Just what I needed after a stressful day.

The weather today was wild! Gusty wind blowing in heavy rain showers and then blowing them away again to let the sun shine though. PoD was a shot taken in the garden. It’s an azalea that lives in a sheltered corner of the garden and is flowering beautifully just now.

Tomorrow we are hoping for a more relaxing day, although it looks like rain for at least some of it.

Sensible Shoes – 10 May 2022

We were going in to Glasgow today to get me a pair of sensible shoes. They would make a change from the black Ghillie brogues I have just now. The brogues themselves are actually quite comfortable, but the long laces criss-crossing the knee length kilt socks are awkward things to tie and uncomfortable after a while. I thought I’d try a pair of brown brogues instead. The first shop I tried had a pair that seemed to be what I was looking for. Foolishly I didn’t try them on, but went looking to see if there was anything else in a similar style.

There were loads of shoes in a similar style, but none that caught my eye. One pair looked the part, but when I tried them on, there was something just not right about them. Scamp noticed the creases in the leather that showed that they have been tried at home and returned as not suitable. They weren’t suitable for me either. There were brogues in dark brown, tan and even yellow. Brogues made from leather with tartan patches, some with tweed patches. Some were definitely meant for tramping the peat bogs of Wester Ross, weighing in at about a hundredweight each and others so thin you could spit peas through them. M&S had a great selection in every size under the sun … except mine. Eventually, after a coffee and a croissant in Nero I made my decision to go back to the first shop and try on that pair. They fitted perfectly. The looked like I wanted them to look. They were solid without being too clumpy. I bought them. The assistant wanted to put them in a machine that would spray them with some undisclosed liquid that would make them waterproof, stain-resistant, crease resistant and self ironing. She seemed quite disappointed when I said I’d polish them myself with shoe polish.

We drove home after Scamp had picked some cosmetics to make her look even more beautiful than she already is, if that’s possible. On the way to the car I grabbed a couple of photos from the JL bridge. One of them became PoD after some gentle toning and tweaking in Lightroom.

Lunch was a piece ’n’ banana. Fresh bread and a banana. The only thing that would make it better was a sprinkling of sugar, but I decided to forego that pleasure. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. I took a walk over St Mo’s later, but there wasn’t much to see although I did get one decent photo which is on Flickr.

Scamp was off to choir tonight, so I was going to be a salsa helper all by myself. The class was much the same as last week. We went over the same moves as last week and then Jamie added in Damé then, just for the hell of it, Damé Dos. It’s about a level 3 move, but the folk all enjoyed it. Really, it could have been carnage, but it didn’t. Great fun.

When I got home and pressed the button to stop the engine, all the lights in the car went out and it wouldn’t start again. The car wouldn’t lock and the boot wouldn’t open. Inside my car’s key fob there is a hidden key. I used it to lock, then unlock the car. Then I started it as normal, well nearly normal. It appears that the trip mileage had been reset and also the mpg was reset. The second time this has happened in the last couple of weeks. I’m taking it to the garage tomorrow.

Tomorrow, apart from a trip to Stirling we’re both hoping to go for coffee. Me with Val and Scamp with Isobel.

I have good news – 6 April 2022

… and I have bad news.

We drove to Stirling today. We had a baby present to buy, for a baby, strangely enough. Just to make it more interesting, I took us up the Tak Ma Doon road past Carron Bridge and on to a wee draw-in near Loch Coulter. Well, the ‘draw-in’ was actually the entrance to the Loch Coulter fishery and there were signs that may have read NO PARKING but I didn’t see them. It is so quiet up there on the high moorland, I could hear a lark then we saw two curlews and a very low rainbow, scraping over the hills. Just so good, especially at this time of year. As I was taking the first photo, a bunch of rooks lifted off from the tree near the farm. I thought I’d caught them, but I missed. While I was in the middle of photographing the landscape, I got the phone call from the garage to say that the car was ready to pick up. We drove on to Stirling.

When we parked at Waitrose in Stirling, I checked my mpg as I usually do and found I had a new best mileage of 82.2mpg! My previous best was 66.6mpg. The secret, I think, was that we had a strong tailwind from Loch Coulter all the way to Stirling and the road surface was quite poor, so my speed wasn’t very fast. Still, it’s now saved into the display and I doubt I’ll ever beat it.

M&S in Stirling provided the baby present then the shop also provided a new dress for Scamp. When we were done, Cafe Nero provided lunch for us. We walked back to Waitrose and bought a few quids worth of messages to pay for our free parking at Waitrose and we drove home. All good.

Parked at the shops in Cumbersheugh and walked down to the garage. Before we paid for the repair, the boss of the garage told us the bad news. The wee Red car is on its last legs. To pass its MOT in November it will need two new shock absorbers and a serious amount of welding on the chassis. He suggested that we need to start looking for a replacement by the end of the summer. Strangely enough we had been talking about exactly that scenario, just the other day. It was bad news, but in our heart of hearts we knew this day would come. So, it was a day of mixed fortunes.

PoD was that photo of the farm up on the moor above Stirling. After I came home and looked at the photos, I found that in two of the later shots I HAD managed to capture the wheeling rooks. It was a fairly simple procedure to cut them out in Potatoshop and paste them into the landscape. You might not be able to see them here, but they will be more visible on Flickr.

Tomorrow we may be going to a tea dance in Paisley.

Early rise – 5 April 2022

The alarm went off at 7.30am and just to rub it in, it played its little tune again five minutes later. I got the message.

We both got the message. Got dressed, yawned and drove the Red car down to the garage for the car doctor to have a look at it. We walked back to the house in the rain. Breakfast at 8.30am is unusual for us and even more unusual when we’re fully dressed and sitting in the living room, instead of in jammy’s and in bed. However, we were up and fully awake, so the day started here.

We were out again at just after 10am to go and pick up Isobel to go for coffee. Usual rubbish Costa coffee. I had the small cup of what they describe as americano. Weakest americano I’ve had in a long time. I must try their espresso to see what It’s like. The ladies were having lattes. Don’t ever watch latte coffees being made. Half a pint of warm milk and a teaspoon full of coffee. Latte is coffee for folk who don’t like coffee. But we weren’t there for the coffee (thankfully) we were there for the banter, the repartee. Isobel just keeps the conversation going, never repeating herself and always injecting that sarcastic humour that delights me. Nobody is safe, especially her listeners. Soon she and Scamp decided it was time to go and we drove her back to the Village. Scamp reckons she was going to meet another of her friends and would share some of what we’d been talking about with her!

We drove home via Tesco for rolls and petrol. I don’t know what was going on with my pump, but it was delivering its expensive fluid very slowly. Maybe it was just thinking we should savour the liquid since it’s become so expensive these days, £1.58 for a litre. It’ll soon be cheaper drink beer rather than petrol – in joke!

Back home is was lunch time. For Scamp a roll ’n’ scrambled egg and for me, substitute two slices of bacon for the egg. Both seemed to hit the spot. Then for me a roll ’n’ jam as a lunchtime dessert.

With the Sudoku done and the Worldle word found, admittedly the latter took me six tries today, Last Chance Saloon territory. With that done I took the Sony and the 50mm macro lens out for a walk in St Mo’s. I’d noticed the big chestnut tree that grows in between the scrawny bushes of the wilderness area in front of the house was starting to produce flower buds. It’s a lovely tree, but the background to any photo would be windows, doors and brickwork but I fancied I could find an equally good looking tree with better background in St Mo’s.

Sure enough, there it was with its branches at a decent height for photographing and the flower buds were almost bursting. Beautiful textures on the and one of them made PoD. Just a solo flower bud on a tree, but beautiful in its own way. I read up on the tree later and discovered things I hadn’t realised about the sticky resin stuff that coats the buds. It’s amazing what you find out about things these days on the internet. Some of it unbelievable but true, other things are believable and total lies! Caveat Lector.

While I was post processing the photos the garage phoned to say the car doctors had taken the car for a test drive and discovered the noise was caused by a stuck brake calliper on the driver’s side. It will need replaced, as will the pads, and after we pay for it, the car will hopefully be ready tomorrow.

That was all the excitement we could stand for one day. Dinner tonight was a Cod Chowder which was ok, but not as good as it usually was. Scamp didn’t like the lardons and I didn’t like the fact that I’d burnt some of the veg. Must try harder.

PoD was indeed the bud from the Horse Chestnut tree. I’m hoping to get another shot later once it’s unfurled its leaves.

No plans for tomorrow apart from getting a wee Red car back to its rightful place in the parking space.

Solo – 4 April 2022

Scamp was out driving the Blue car by herself today.

Before that, she drove me up to Tesco partly to get some messages, but also partly to assure herself that she can drive the newer version of her own Red car.

When we returned after the shopping, I took the wheel of the blue car and drove down to the shops were I parked at the far end of the car park and walked over to the repair garage and explained the problem with the red car. The bloke there said it was most likely to be binding breaks or a failing wheel bearing. I have to bring the car down tomorrow and then we’ll find out.

When I got back, and after lunch, Scamp was off again, driving solo this time. She was going to Calders garden centre for coffee and a cake with the now disbanded ‘Gems’. I left before her to post a couple of cards and also to get some photos. It was a fairly dull day with very little directional light, but with the help of the Lensbaby, I did get some useable shots. Not great shot, but useable.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon writing a fairly long email to Alex with some photos to keep his mind of all the things he has to do this coming week. No more word from him about the three generations of the family currently under “doctor’s orders”. No news is good news.

PoD was chosen by Scamp. It’s a wild currant flower. One of loads that are showing over in St Mo’s just now. A picture of a bright yellow whin flower took second place. You may know it as a gorse flower.

We watched the final of this year’s University Challenge and although there wasn’t a Scottish team in the final, at least the winners did have a Scottish captain.

It rained a bit today.  Just soft wetting rain that will refresh the plants in the garden.  More rain is predicted for the next few days and the gardens really need it.  Strange to say that we’re welcoming the rain!

Tomorrow it’s an early rise. The alarm has been set for 7.30am. We’re intending to drive the Red car down to garage and walk back to have an earlier than usual breakfast. Then we may go for coffee with Isobel.

A bit of gentle gardening – 3 April 2022

Not a lot of work. Just planting one bush and preparing the ground for this year’s veg.

Actually, most of the morning was spent sitting in the warm, looking out at the world going by. Eventually after a lunch of fried lamb’s liver which was just a bit overcooked, but better that way than too bloody, I put my old boots on and went to pot up a Buddleia bush Scamp bought me about a month ago. It’s allegedly a tricolour bush, but the jury is out on that at the moment. We’ll see what we get. I dug over the raised bed again, but it really needs to be strengthened before we plant anything in it this year. I’m thinking maybe some leeks, peas and a few kale plants. Those are the things we grow and actually eat. I’d love to be like Jamie and plant courgettes and marrows, but we know they won’t grow in our climate. Heavens, we had snow falling three days ago!

After the planting and a bit of gentle pruning too, I put on the big Bergy jacket and kept my old boots on, then went for a walk down to Broadwood and across to the repair garage, but as I suspected, it was closed on a Sunday. I’m intending to walk over tomorrow to book the wee Red car in to be looked at. From there I went to M&S to get pudding for tonight’s dinner which was to be Paella, Scamp’s request. It seemed a shame to be passing St Mo’s and not visit, so I dropped in, but couldn’t see anything that warranted me taking a photo. On my walk past Broadwood I’d taken a few shots of tiny little white flower which must be some fruit blossom. One of them got PoD.

Spoke to Jamie after dinner and heard of Simonne’s bad luck. With a few days to go until they were due to fly home from Trinidad, her sister got a positive result for Covid, then the next day, Simonne got one. That meant cancelling the flights and booking new ones. Not only that, she and Sophie have to isolate from their dad and that was the reason for going to Trinidad in the first place.

More good news from Alex today. Ollie is going from strength to strength and Carol got home today. Hopefully now things can return to some sort of normal.

Scamp is out for coffee tomorrow with most of the disbanded ‘Gems’. I’m intending booking the Red car in for a new wheel bearing.

Dancin’ and Drivin’ – 19 March 2022

We were off to the Saturday morning dance class and then a mystery tour.

The road was busy today, mainly because of the weather. Not bad weather, but exceptionally good weather. Blue skies and sunshine. Everyone was heading for the coast today I’d imagine. Then I found why everyone was driving slowly. It wasn’t just the volume of traffic, it was also because of roadworks. Forty miles per hour and just to make it even more depressing, those big yellow spies in the sky, Average Speed Cameras and they will be there for at least 12 weeks. I suppose the roads do need resurfacing and spring is the best time of year to get the work done. Hopefully better weather and not fully in to summer. We can but hope that other folk will find alternative routes and the traffic will thin out.

Only six people were in the class. There was a dance tonight and a lot of people, like us, were happy to go to class, or the dance, but not both on the same day. Too much travelling to and fro, so most of the normal class had chosen the dance.

The great thing about small class sizes is that you get almost individual attention. The bad thing is that there’s nowhere to hide. Today we started with an easy Midnight Jive and then it was into the Waltz we were learning last week. Thankfully some of the others in the class were still learning the part we’d done last week, so that gave us a chance to reprise that part, then it was in to the more complicated ‘back section’. A short break for another sequence dance, I forget which one and then it was on to the Cha-Cha. The Cha-Cha, in my opinion is a totally pointless piece of fluff with arm waving an extravagance I can do without. I put up with it then put it in its box and left it until next week when I have to pull it out, try to reassemble all the parts and dance it again. But wait! The teachers are off for a week in the sun from Wednesday, so there is no class next week! Oh joy of joys! I mean, of course, “Oh what a shame. We’ll have to wait two weeks for the next class.”

We drove out of Brookside, headed in the general direction of home and then took the dual carriageway to Irvine. It was still a long drive down to the coast, but quicker than the last route the sat nav took us. When we got there it was wall to wall sunshine. Unfortunately, it was also wall to wall cars in the car park. There are loads of car parks at the harbour in Irvine, but all of them were pretty full. However, we did find a place to park and went for a walk to feel what a walk in the sun felt like. Half the world seemed to be there and they all had ice cream. It would have been a terrible shame not to join them, so it was a medium sized 99 with raspberry on top, then a walk along the beach. There were people walking, sitting on the sand, paddling and Scamp even saw two wee boys swimming! In the sea! In March! Are they mad!!?

It really is a long beach and we walked along about half of it then I wanted to look at the big sandstone dragon that sat high on the dunes above the beach. We struggled to climb up to it, wading through the dry sand then up through the dunes proper, but the beast itself was quite impressive. Loads of kids climbing on it, but I managed to get a few photos and remove the weans in Photoshop later.

We said goodbye to the dragon and walked over the hillocks down to to boating pond we hadn’t seen before. This really is an interesting foreshore. Lots of cropped grass, hills and valleys to explore. Just shows what can be done if you have a bit of imagination.

Drove home via a Tesco petrol station to get a fairly cheap, by today’s standards, tank of fuel for £1.62 a litre. Then we drove home via East Kilbride because I couldn’t be bothered driving through the traffic at the Kingston Bridge.

Fish ’n’ Chips which Scamp went over to Condorrat for because I was snoozing on the couch. PoD was a fairly crowded Irvine Beach.

No plans for tomorrow, but apparently we need some messages.

A Day in the Toon – 4 February 2022

Today we drove in to Glasgow.  Just for a wander round the shops and maybe a spot of lunch.

Halfway along the M80 I thought we’d made a terrible mistake.  We were driving into a blizzard.  It started out as sleet, then turned to snow for a while before fading away as if it had never been, and there was sunshine and a beautiful blue sky again.  Parked at Buchanan Galleries and had a quick look in JL where there wasn’t anything interesting for me, but there was a bargain for Scamp.  I’m not going to say that she went there knowing that bargain was available, but I think the visit to the shop was partly stage managed,

Walked down Bucky Street and got some photos on the way.  I’d taken the little A6000 with me today because I think walking around all day on Tuesday had caused the ache in my back.  So it was one small camera and one small lens. Actually the combination was very effective and netted me about 50 photos, most of them perfectly exposed and sharp.

Lunch was at The Cup, the place Alex and I had had lunch in.  It was much busier than Tuesday, but that’s to be expected on a Friday.  Food wasn’t quite as good and the coffee was terrible.  A bit weak and too sharp.  Maybe we were just unlucky or maybe Alex and I were lucky last Friday.  I used one of my Covid vouchers in Waterstones and got two Denise Mina books that had been on my wanted list.  I felt I got them for free, because I wasn’t using real money, just a voucher.  Tried a pair of Merrill trainers, but the fit just wasn’t right.  Girl in the shop seemed a bit put out that I didn’t just buy them without trying them on.  Sorry dear, auld guys don’t do that.

Drove home through more rain and sleet and when we got to the house another blizzard blew in.  What a day!  More snow and sleet due  for tomorrow.  However the teachers are off taking dance classes on a cruise ship for two weeks, so no early rises and no driving through that awful traffic on the way home.  We will miss the exercise though.

PoD went to a photo of Buchanan Street subway again.  If you’re reading this Alex, it was taken just after 1.15pm!  Just as you predicted.

Today’s prompt was Little Red Corvette which meant Prince, of course and again, not one of my favourite singers, however I had listened to the song a few times in the past and had a fair idea what he was singing about. Although a lot of the references meant nothing to an old Scots guy, I did work out what the Trojan horses and the jockeys references meant. Basically it was beautifully sung filth. I may listen to more of his music now with a different ear!

No plans for tomorrow apart from a lazy morning.

A dull day with a walk through – 19 December 2021

It didn’t really rain today. It felt like it couldn’t be bothered, so it just smirred all day.

We were having lunch when Scamp realised that we hadn’t recorded The Andrew Marr Show. We watch it religiously every week, hardly ever missing an episode of his highly entertaining current affairs program. It’s not really meant to be entertainment, but watching him baiting politicians of all parties is simply excellent viewing. We missed it today because we’d forgotten to add it to the recording schedule. Worst of all, it was his last show because he leaves to host a new politics show on another channel. We needn’t have worried because with the miracles of a new set top box and iPlayer, it was already there for our edutainment.

So, we did get to watch him achieve the impossible by getting Sadiq Khan to answer ‘Yes’ to a question. Brave man Mr Khan having the courage to answer a question so clearly. Sajid Javid was a much slippier customer and manage to complete the ‘Yes – No interlude’ easily (too long ago for most of you to remember. Google Take Your Pick.) I’ll miss watching Andrew Marr on a Sunday morning.

After that I fitted the fully charged battery to the wee Red car. It now starts, or at least it did this afternoon without a problem but the radio still has the Wait 1 Hour message that its had since we tried the wrong pin months ago. How many hours do we have to wait?

Finally I went for a walk and got today’s PoD. A spider web with some water droplets hanging from it. Not startling, but at least it’s a photo and it’s in. It was just miserable out and that constant smirr was in the air all the time.

Talked to Jamie and he gave us a virtual conducted tour of the inside of THEIR new house. Quite a difference from the last time we saw it. It just looks like a home now with their own furniture in it. I know that Scamp is desperate to see it properly, but with the best will in the world, it won’t be until about next March, all being well. That’s a long time to wait, but better to be safe than sorry.

Scamp is booked for coffee tomorrow morning and I’m waiting for the DPD driver to come and collect a parcel. After that, the lady with the swabs and the questions is coming to see us. Busy day.