In Deepest Paisley – 23 September 2021

We were off into the depths of Paisley to dance.

Drove in through Glasgow again and the traffic wasn’t all that bad at all. Just make sure you’re in the right lane and don’t deviate. Go with the flow and all will be well. All did go well until in the centre of Paisley I made the same wrong turning I’d made two years ago and found myself relying on the sat nav to get me out of trouble. It did it perfectly. Arrive with about five minutes to spare.

Danced Waltz, Social Foxtrot, Foxtrot, Tango and innumerable Sequence Dances. Sat beside two folk we’ve met at tea dances before and who also go to our Saturday morning class, John and Madge. We also has a chat with two others we know from Salsa, Barry and Cath. There were also a number of “Weel Kent Faces” in the group, about a dozen couples in total. I don’t think we were the clumsiest and I know we were nowhere near the best, but we danced, socially and didn’t bump into anyone. Yes, we made mistakes, but we just got on with it. We kept to the right lane, didn’t deviate too much and went with the flow. It works, you know!

As promised, there was tea and cake and sweets. There was plenty of time to mingle and talk to folk. Do you know, I’m beginning to enjoy this social aspect of dancing. It’s slower than Salsa, but it’s just as enjoyable in a different way. Like so many things, it’s the people who make it enjoyable.

Back home the sat nav had an off day and took us home by the ‘Scenic Route’ then dumped us in the middle of a traffic jam caused by road works. We did eventually get home and I went out for a walk in St Mo’s to get some poor quality photos then went to Condorrat to get some ‘thick milk’ to add to tonight’s dinner which was Smoked Haddock and Leek Risotto. One of our leeks again.

PoD was a Garden Cross spider, so called because it has the markings of a cross on its back.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to meet my brother in Glasgow.

Dancin’ – 18 September 2021

Brain fade. A terrible affliction.

We were driving to Bridge of Earn for our Saturday dance lesson. The first one in a fortnight and I wasn’t thinking. Instead of heading down our usual M73, M74, M8, I turned onto the M80 and pointed the car at Glasgow. By the time I realised what I’d done, I couldn’t change it. I expected to meet long queues of traffic when the M80 joined the M8 in Glasgow, but it didn’t happen. Yes, there was a bit of slow traffic, but nothing like what I’d anticipated. It took us just about our usual time. Maybe the roadworks are nearly finished after all.

We started the class with Bellisimo Cha-Cha. Not my favourite, but I can do it. Next the Foxtrot, followed by a Midnight Jive just to clear our heads and allow us time to put on our Waltz Head, because that was next. We did quite well with our stripped down Waltz, but then Jane taught us how to do a Chassis properly. Not the little skipping step we usually do, but the actual theory behind the step. They finished with the Sally Anne Cha-Cha which we didn’t know so we left them to it, but so we didn’t feel left out, the final last dance was a Bossa Nova, which we do know.

Drive back was a bit more congested than normal, but we still made some decent time, although the traffic heading in to Glasgow from the east was much heavier now. I’d love to see an aerial view of that section of the road speeded up to see why the traffic builds up in some places.

Got a couple of photos of fungi deep in St Mo’s woods but PoD went to a shot of a late afternoon dragonfly on the boardwalk

Nothing planned for tomorrow.

New boots need New socks – 14 September 2021

Today we headed to Kirkby Stephen to buy a new pair of socks for Scamp’s new boots. Not surprisingly we didn’t go to Mad about Mountains, mainly because we wanted a PAIR of socks, not just one. Also the socks were for walking boots, not for running shoes. We went straight to Eden Outdoors and got two pairs of socks one pair wool and one pair cotton.

Jamie, Simonne and Vixen had left by the time we got back, heading for more hills to climb, so we had the house to ourselves. There is a long paved patio at the back of the house. Just the ideal place to dance on. We managed to get a full run at the Foxtrot and the Waltz. Of course we couldn’t do the fancy spin turns on the paving stones, but the rest of it worked well. Probably the first time we’d managed the full length of the Foxtrot.
So what did you do on your holiday?
Well, we danced the Foxtrot on the patio of the house!

Just at the end of the alfresco dance class a helicopter flew low over and apparently landed not far away, behind the house. Next a BAE Systems Hawk trainer flew over almost as low as the helicopter. It banked sharply and appeared to circle the house. Were they intent on getting a closer view of our Foxtrot? Well, it was an impressive routine, but we came to the conclusion that the helicopter had been carrying soldiers from nearby Warcop base and the jet was there to add a bit of spice to their war-games.

The airshow went on for quite a while, but eventually they all calmed down and JS&V returned from their walk. We went out for another test walk with the new boots and socks. The socks were an improvement on the old ones and made the boots more comfortable. So said Scamp and she should know.

We made quiche for dinner. Instead of a baked pastry base, we used tortillas we’d bought in the morning. Scamp made Quiche Lorraine and I made Jackie’s Smoked Salmon and Broccoli Quiche. Both turned out fine and we’d made enough for all of us with some to spare for tomorrow.

PoD was an old barn we saw on our late afternoon walk. For once I didn’t photograph the jet or the helicopter!

Tomorrow we may go climbing a mountain.

Driving – 10 September 2021

Feeling a lot better this morning. No sign of yesterday’s Lurgi.

We got in the car and drove to the petrol station to buy some extremely expensive petrol that only had 5% of Ethanol in it. Better the devil you know when you’re on a fairly long journey, carrying half a tonne of stuff.

Drove out of the petrol station, still smarting from the expense and joined the M80 heading in the general direction of Glasgow. Merged on to the M73 which in turn merged on to the M74. Drove sedately past the roadworks at Hamilton that are due to finish in October (year not stated), watching the train of cars, vans and lorries on the other carriageway, a train that went on and on and on. Made a mental note to exit the motorway at Canderside on our return journey and not be caught in a stramash like this.

After a hundred miles or so, Scotland became England and the M74 became the M6. Exited at Penrith and then it was on to the smaller A66. Just before the exit, the Start/Stop app in the car signalled a System Failure. This had happened before and I reported it to Nissan at the service a week ago. I was told then that the Start/Stop “… Checks a lot of parameters …” Which was technospeak for “It just does that, we can’t fix it”. Another Nissan failure on an otherwise great car.

Not long after we left the outskirts of Penrith, we were on a stretch of road which should have been dual carriageway, but was under repair, so it became a slow moving single carriageway. Just after what seemed like an hour, but was probably a lot less, we took the turn off that eventually led through narrower and narrower roads to the house. Actually overshot it, but Scamp noticed and we arrived. First to arrive again!

Cup of tea on the patio and a quick Foxtrot along the paving stones. I’ll bet that’s the first time anyone had danced a Foxtrot along that patio! Jamie and Sim weren’t far behind us, having left home long before us. Their’s a six hour journey and ours only about two. The world is ill divided.

PoD was to confirm that roses, even in England, have the same beasties we have up north. Honest, we didn’t bring them with us.
Scamp made Chicken Cacciatore for dinner and we all sat round the table, talked and ate.

Tomorrow we’re going exploring.

Dancing first, then IKEA – 4 September 2021

Saturday is dancing day and as we almost pass IKEA on the way home it made sense to visit the yellow and blue store.

Dancing started with the Bellissima Cha Cha which we know fairly well and can dance with a fair degree of confidence. That’s what we did. It wasn’t perfect, but it was done with confidence which is sometimes the same thing. Next was the Foxtrot which we agreed was becoming a lot smoother. I’m not sure the teachers would entirely agree with that, but it felt that way to us. For the break in the middle it was the Rumba One which is a gentle bit of fluff danced as a sequence and apparently everyone was on the same beat for once. Next was waltz and we were told we were making things too difficult for ourselves, but we were trying to emulate the teachers in the video they sent us. We both agreed today wasn’t the time to say that, so we just kept quiet. Finally it was a Cha Cha line dance. Something I’d have baulked at before, but now I find I can do quite happily … as long as I’m not at the front! Good class, lots of stuff learned. No class next week as the teachers are off to Tenerife for a week in the sun, lucky people.

IKEA is on the way home so we stopped off there for re-sealable poly bags, a photo frame or two and some cheap serviettes that I use when painting watercolour as blotting paper if I overload my brush. Just useable stuff today and we whizzed through the checkout without a problem. We even managed to use a couple of shortcuts to save the “Yellow Brick Road” that we used to have to follow. Back to home.

After lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s, but I’m beginning to get jaded with it. I’m looking for some open spaces to photograph. Some interesting landscapes with dappled sunlight. That’s not too much to ask for is it? Perhaps it is with rain forecast for tomorrow. We did have some drizzle today, but it was really just the edge of a cloud and didn’t come too much. PoD was a little Garden Cross spider on a web that looked like the high wire at the circus. The strange thing was it looked as if it had a larva of some kind on its abdomen. I’ve asked for help identifying it on Flickr.

That was about it for the first Saturday in September. We’ve both downloaded our QR codes to our phones to prove our vaccination status, although I read this morning that already it’s been shown that it can be hacked and the details changed. After the Scottish Government paying a reputed £600,000 for a Dutch company to create the code. I did think that was a fairly cheap price for the work that would be involved. It’s a true saying “if you pay peanuts you must expect monkeys.”

Holding our hands out tomorrow, expecting rain. Not sure if it will reach down as far south as us, but the highlands need the rain too.

Dancing and cakes and more dancing – 28 August 2021

The dancing on a Saturday is obvious, the cakes, maybe not so, nor the more dancing. Hopefully this will help

We drove through the usual Saturday morning traffic to the dance class in Bridge of Weir and on the way in, picked up a loaf and a chocolate muffin. These, and many other offerings are given away free every week. It’s still not clear, yet who provides them, but they are all nearing the end of their Best Before date and are free to a good home. Last week it was a cheese loaf – which tasted better than it sounds – and doughnuts. It’s a little sweetener (no pun intended) for the rigours of the dance class.

Today we started the class with a Saunter Together. At one time this was my most despised dance, now it’s just another sequence dance. Next up was Foxtrot which we thought we’d put to bed last night, but the teachers found various defects in the routine that we’ll try to remember how to fix in the coming days, all being well. Next, just to give our head a chance to assimilate that information, was the Bossa Nova danced to Iko Iko, a song we’ve been trying to remember since the last time we danced to it a fortnight ago. Then I was time for the Waltz and we are rank beginners at this. We only know the simplest form of Stewart and Jane’s version and even then we were making mistakes. The expression “Every day is a school day” was never truer then today! Finally we danced the Valentino Jive which we learned on a cruise ship in a different world, where masks were for Halloween and a vaccination was something you got when you were going on holiday to a far away country. That was a tough morning’s work, for us and probably for the teachers too.

Back home and with our heads clearing a bit after information overload, we had lunch. After that, I went for a walk in St Mo’s, in the sunshine while Scamp tidied up the kitchen and listened to some music. There was very little life about, certainly no animal life and very little insect activity … or so it seemed at first. Macro is such a strange land. I though I was taking a photo of a dandelion parachute which ended up out of focus or blurred because of the breeze but in the corner and reasonably sharp was a battle between a spider and what looked like a tick. I hope the spider won. PoD, however went to wild raspberry fruit. Just the one and a nicely translucent too.

After dinner, which was an instant curry from M&S, simply because we didn’t have very much time to cook today, we got ready to go to a 50th birthday party. We were surprised when Jacqui invited us to her birthday party in The Savings Bank in Glasgow. We’d planned it all out yesterday. Drive in to Concert Square car park, walk down to Buchanan Street subway and get a train to Bridge Street then walk to the venue. For once it worked like clockwork. The place wasn’t too busy when we got there and we snaffled two seats beside Jim Brown. In the time we were there we met loads of folk who used to go to Salsa. Sat and talked to a few of them and even got to dance … SALSA!! First time in ages we’ve danced salsa on a dance floor. Not a living room floor! I did manage to spill half a glass of non-alcoholic beer over Scamp’s lovely dress. I’m not sure I’ll be able to live that down, but apart from that we had a great time and left just after 10.30pm, in time to miss the subway train and had to wait the interminable 10 Minutes until the next one.  Even got a parking place back home.  Some special wee God was looking after us tonight.  Thank you.

Tomorrow we have no plans, except to have a long hot shower to ease those long forgotten muscles we’ve used tonight!

Out for a walk – 22 August 2021

Or two, in my case.

It was a warm sunny morning, but we didn’t really get going until the afternoon. We finally decided to walk round Broadwood again, but the opposite way round, just to be different. There wasn’t a lot to see, but when we came out at the wee pond near the Irn Bru factory, I did see a dragonfly sunning itself on the top of one of the NLC signs telling you what to look for. It could have been a living advert for the woodland walk, but it got its photo taken anyway. A few steps further on, there was another dragonfly, also sunning itself on a wooden fence. I tried for its photo, but couldn’t get through the grass that was shielding it. I gave up and eventually it did too and flew away. Still, I had one in the bag.

Back home I had a look through the afternoon’s shots and, yes, there was at least one shot of the dragonfly that would pass muster. However, there were more things out there, I was sure. So I left Scamp to read and went for a short walk in St Mo’s. Found more small dragonflies sitting on the upstand of the boardwalk and included them in my photos. Even better I found a Leaf-hopper, a bright green leaf-hopper (Cicadella viridis) and took its picture too. I tried a Wolf spider, but couldn’t get it all in focus. There was a Garden Cross spider but it was too far away and there was no way I was wading into the murky waters of St Mo’s pond. It’s bad enough when you don’t know what you’re walking in, but it’s worse if you do!  The leaf-hopper got PoD, just beating the posing dragonfly from earlier in the day.

Decided that I had enough and came home to make dinner which tonight was Naked Fish and Carrot Chips. I thought we had everything to make the dish, but then found we had no garlic. I added garlic granules but they didn’t quite cut it. Also, the carrot chips weren’t very chip-like. Discussion later with the chef himself, disclosed that he thinks there should be more cornflour than the recipe says. I agree with Jamie, that would probably work. We were discussing this when he phoned after the dinner was made and eaten. We also found out about how things are down Cambridge way. You forget that England has different rules and timings than up here. Schools are still on holiday there while they are back at work here. House buying seems to work on mystery and black magic there whereas it might be archaic here, but it’s much more clear cut.

Scamp had been working hard trying to learn some of the figures and their link steps form the second half of the Foxtrot routine. My versions were different, but between us we managed to get everything sorted out and it now looks doable again. It just needs a few more practise sessions and we’ll have a full foxtrot.

Tomorrow seems to be even better than today and today was good. Not too bright and sunny, but warm. Tomorrow we are governed by high pressure, so we should be dry at least. No plans.

Dancing and a walk in the rain – 21 August 2021

Off on our usual Saturday run to Johnstone. Then a walk in the rain at home.

The drive to Johnstone, or to be more exact, Bridge of Weir was fairly uneventful. Just a steady stream of west bound traffic and a steady drizzle of rain that occasionally got heavier and then threatened to dry up before changing its mind again and getting heavier. It was just constant and after a while I got so I didn’t really notice it.

Today’s class started with the Tina Tango which I’m rapidly coming to grips with. Not so, the Foxtrot which was next. It sort of reminded me of the Hedgehog’s song by Incredible String Band “You know all the words and you’ve sung all the notes, but you’ve never quite learned the song”. We knew all the figures and the steps, but we never quite fitted them together to flow as they should. Jane helped a lot smoothing the transitions between figures, but it still wasn’t right. Part of the problem is learning all the figures for the dance and practising it in the living room. The room is really too small to dance the whole piece in a straight line. We have to dance three or four figures, then turn round and dance the next three or four on the way back.
After the Foxtrot we danced the Sweetheart Cha Cha which is my nemesis. I’m going to get a tee shirt with “I HATE CHA CHA” printed on it. I just don’t seem to be able to understand the reason why you MUST start on beat 2. It makes no sense. The less said about the Sweetheart, the better.
Next was what they called The Zoom Waltz, ie the waltz we learned in the zoom class. It took me a while to work out what it was, but after that light bulb moment, it started to become clear again and we managed a couple of circuits of the floor with the minimal amount of fuss and stopping.
We finished with the Mayfair Quickstep which is a fairly easy dance that reminds me of the Military Two Step we learned at school.
After all that, our brains were full and we needed to lie down in a darkened room. Unfortunately we had to drive home first. The road was even busier than last week and the drive home took over an hour.

After lunch Scamp suggested we go for a walk … in the rain, because the rain hadn’t really gone off since we left the house in the morning and showed no signs of going off now. We dressed for the weather and walked down to Broadwood Loch, round the loch and then round past the exercise machines. I took the Sony 6000 and one lens in my pocket and got a few photos as we walked round. Three photos made the cut for PoD and the final decision was in favour of the dandelion in the rain, although I liked a mono shot of some grass stems and an old fence we passed. You can view it better on Flickr.

Tonight we discussed today’s progress at ballroom class and finally settled on Vegetable Lasagne by Charlie Bingham followed by a cheapo Sticky Toffee Pudding from Aldi. The lasagne was excellent. The pudding was too, but it’s making its presence felt now and doesn’t seem so good second time around if you get my meaning.

Tomorrow we have no real plans, although the weather fairies say the weather is to be better, or at least less rain. We may go out somewhere.

Out for coffee with Margie – 19 August 2021

But before that, there was the problem of petrol.

Drove up to Tesco to check if my credit card would work with what I thought was my PIN, after the debacle with another of my cards last week. If it did, I was intending to bring back a loaf and get petrol. It did and I got the loaf, unfortunately the petrol station was under reconstruction which was annoying because that’s why I’d gone to Tesco in the first place. However, I’d just have to go back to BP on my way home, which is what I did. Bought £40 worth of that liquid gold which according to my dashboard computer would cover me for just over 400 miles. That got me doing some quick mental arithmetic while I was driving home (who says men can’t multitask?) that meant a quid would get me roughly 10 miles of travel and that’s before you consider Road Tax, Insurance and depreciation. Maybe I should start cycling everywhere instead.

However, if Scamp and I were taking Margie out to Torwood Garden Centre for coffee and a cake, I’d need a tandem with a little two wheeled buggy behind for Margie if I was to change to the eco-friendly method of travel. I put the though aside to suggest it to Scamp at a later date – Oops, too late, it’s out of the bag now!

We picked up Margie (in the car) and drove to Torwood. While I parked the car, the ladies went in and found us a table. It was a great afternoon. We talked about loads of things and I was pleased that she included Tarri in the conversation, but in a realistic, matter of fact way. She is a very practical woman, Margie. After coffee and a scone each we went for a walk round the plants. I could see that Scamp was casting a searching eye over various flower pots and their contents. I think we may be making a return journey to the Garden Centre soon.

While we had been in Torwood, Scamp had asked one of the gardeners how to deal with her ailing 35 year old blackcurrant bush and had been told to prune it to open it out and also to clear away all the leaves from the ground underneath the plant. That made some sense to us and she got started when we got back. We’d dropped Margie off at her house on the way. While she was hard at work with that, I started to pin up our new fairy lights to the fence. They seem to work and are lit as I write this.

With that done, I left her to pruning and dead-heading and took the Sony out for a walk in St Mo’s. There wasn’t much to see on a day that had dulled down a lot from its promising start earlier in the day. Lots of flies on knapweed and one of them achieved PoD. I was trying out lots of different tricks and tips to make the Sony focus more accurately. I don’t know if the problem is with the lens or with the camera or, more likely, a bit of both.

Another practise session tonight trying to make sense of the Melody Foxtrot sequence dance. It must be one of the most complicated and totally useless dance sequences designed by humans. I think after about a dozen walk throughs we have a fair idea how it works (famous last words!). We also covered the second half of the Foxtrot sequence without anyone falling out with anyone else and almost no swearing.

Tomorrow we may attempt to drive to Hamilton, just for a laugh … and a curry.

Shopping in Stirling – 18 August 2021

We were away for the messages.

Scamp had mentioned that she fancied going to Sainsbury’s for the messages this week. The nearest one, that didn’t run the risk of five miles of queues because of road works, was in Stirling. As far as we knew, there would be no problem with folk digging up the road there, so off we went. We drove through the Raploch, once the worst housing estate in Scotland, now very up-market and the worst place to drive through in Scotland. Every few yards the road surface changes from tarmac to concrete to granite tiles. Speed bumps everywhere, and in the tiled areas they are colour matched to the tiles which makes driving very tricky, but ensures you keep within the 20mph limit. We found Sainsbury’s without any problem and I discovered I’d a message from Jamie with some very good news.

Lots of interesting things to buy in Sainsburys. First supermarket I’ve been in where they sell watches! Whatever next. But it felt like we’d gone back in time a year and a bit, because a lot of the shelves were empty. Not enough delivery drivers we’re told. Well, some of you silly buggers voted for Brexit and swallowed every fairy tale you were told. It looks like reality is coming home to bite you now that there aren’t enough low paid foreign workers wanting to come to the UK to work.

We’d found an interesting historical artefact when we were checking out the road to Sainsbury’s. There’s a Beheading Stone on a hill near the supermarket. We’d half intended going for a look, but as far as we could tell, there were no beheadings scheduled for today. Maybe another day then.

Back home we potted up the echinacea we bought on Monday. We’d bought a clay pot for it and Scamp had had it soaking in the bird bath for a few days. You have to do that with clay pots because otherwise they will draw water away from the compost and allow it to evaporate into the air. After we’d potted the plant up we gave it a good drink of pure rain water we’d collected during the heavy rain last week. Then it got to sit in the sun for a while at the front of the house, while a rose that had sat there all summer went to the back garden to rest a while.

I finally chopped and sawed down the remaining trunk and branches of the tree that had been growing between Angela’s garden and ours. The loppers did most of the work on the branches, but I had to resort to a panel saw for the trunk. I’d been talking to Fred before that and he was telling me that he recycles all his tree branches with a shredder. I don’t think we have enough trees to warrant the purchase of a shredder, but it would have been useful today. However, it all went into the brown bin today and it gets lifted tomorrow.

Went for a walk in the woods of St Mo’s later and got today’s PoD. It’s a little ball of moss on a dead tree branch. I liked the way the sun was just catching the moss. Not everyone’s favourite, but I liked it which is the reason it got PoD.

A longer and calmer practise tonight trying to put together the ‘back end’ of the foxtrot routine. Sometimes if feels more like a ‘backside’ rather than a back end, but it’s coming together slowly.

Tomorrow we are intending to take Margie out for coffee somewhere.