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!

Dancing Day – 2 April 2022

The dancing class was back today. We’d had a week off last week while the teachers were off on holiday to Cyprus. We had been practising at home a couple of days, but now it was time to face the music and dance … literally.

The traffic through the 40mph section of the M8 with its average speed cameras was fine really. We’d left early just in case, but it we arrived at Brookfield with lots of time to spare. Another beautiful morning, so we just sat and enjoyed the silence. Soon the others began to arrive and when Stewart & Jane arrived it was time to dance.

We started off with Mambo Marina as a warm up. It’s a fairly easy sequence dance. After that it was the waltz and we were fairly confident that we could muddle our way through it. We could, but it looked like we were muddling and that’s not what the teachers want, so there were a few corrections needed to both our routines, but not too many. If it hadn’t been for Scamp’s tuition in our practise sessions in the living room, it would have been a different story.

Next we did a Mayfair Quickstep this time to attempt to warm us up as the heating had just come on. Apparently the Hive that controls it had gone offline this morning and they were having problems getting it back online. That was the management at Brookfield’s explanation, but it left you wondering if this was simply cost cutting. Anyway, the Mayfair Quickstep certainly did the trick.

Next was the Cha-Cha, my nemesis. I really struggle with this dance. Scamp enjoys it, but my feet just don’t go where they are supposed to and it usually ends up with me walking away. Today I stuck at it and with Stewart’s help, then Jane’s help it began to fall into place. We’ve now danced the whole of the routine. What the teachers call the ‘Front End’ is now fine, but the ‘Back End’ is cloaked in mystery for me. I just can’t stop myself tripping over my own feet when I’m doing the Rondé and as far as the Split Cuban Breaks are concerned, they are just impossible to master. It must be a real laugh for the teachers watching us argue with our own arms and legs when we’re trying to master these techniques.

I was glad when the class ended, not because I hadn’t enjoyed it because I had. I’d also learned a few techniques too. I was glad, because I was exhausted. Now for the drive home.

The homeward journey took just over 45mins and that wasn’t too bad given the road conditions, but with a bit of lane changing at the right time we got home about our usual time.

After lunch Scamp went down to the shops to get some essentials and I gathered my gear together and started the usual reorganisation of files that happens every change over month. After she came back I walked two circuits of St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which is another larch flower. I called this one a Larch Rose which is its most common name. I think only I call them ‘pineapples’.

Dinner tonight was Thursday’s veg chilli reheated with a baked potato each. It was fine and saved me freezing it for another day.

Better news from Alex. Olly is now off all his supports and much more active. His mum is back home and on antibiotics for a post-natal infection, but feeling fine, especially because she got to hold wee Olly.
Carol is now walking with crutches and is hoping to get home tomorrow (Sunday).

Tomorrow looks like rain, so we may, or may not manage a walk.

Huntigowk – 1 April 2022

It may be April Fool’s day, but I saw no sign of it today. I think the world is so war and virus weary that there’s little time for fun this year.

I’d suggested that we go for a walk round Glasgow today. I’d no ulterior motive, just a walk round town and a chance to drop off a bag of books that had been languishing in my room. Scamp said we might go in on the bus, but we’d have been too late to catch the fast bus and neither of us fancied the X3 which takes nearly 50 minutes to trace 20 miles. Then Scamp said why didn’t we go in the car and she’d drive. She meant her car. I eventually agreed and we piled into the car. I tried to get the boot to open, but there was a softness at the switch that made me think the switch mechanism had come adrift and it really is an terrible faff to get in via the back seat. However, we didn’t really need to use the boot, we weren’t carrying much and weren’t intending buying much either. Halfway along the road the car started, what Scamp calls, ‘whistling’. It sounded more like screeching to me. As she was driving it gave me time to work out what was happening. Eventually I settled on a dried out wheel bearing. By the time we got to Glasgow it was getting loud and alternating from side to side. Two wheel bearings, both front? When we were waiting at lights after leaving the motorway, I could definitely smell burning, like overheated metal. We got parked and walked away and the car just sat there no clicking like you get with overheated metal, so maybe I was imagining things.

Took the bag of books to the Oxfam shop and they were again happy to see them. That was my main task completed. With nothing to do, Scamp suggested we walk to Glasgow Green. That sounded like a decent idea, because the sun was shining and there weren’t too many folk about. Then I realised I’d not brought my woolly hat, in fact I didn’t have anything to keep my head and ears warm. That’s what happens when you decide you don’t need your big heavy Bergy jacket whose pockets are filled with everything you might need, including a woolly hat. However we walked round the green and at the front gate I got today’s PoD which was a Lensbaby shot of some cherry blossom. I also got a second conventional lens shot of two folk walking through the cherry trees. That’s on Flickr too. Scamp prefer that one to my arty-farty flower photo. On the way back we did nip into M&S for a cheap woolly hat to shut me up.

Lunch was in Paesano and, as Scamp was driver for the day, I had a glass of red wine with my No 3 pizza. Scamp had her standby No1 – no garlic. We were halfway through our pizzas when we were joined by four weans of the female persuasion. Their combined ages were about 40, but they were probably younger. They all seemed to talk at the same time, then all pick up their phones and silently type madly into them, probably sending messages to each other. Then they discovered another group of four further along and started verbal, and probably digital, conversations with them too. I can’t stand weans, and these looked like snooty, posh weans and they’re worse. Thankfully we were leaving soon.

We both took a waltz round JL, me window shopping and Scamp buying, then we headed for home. The noise from the bearing started right away and by the time we reached Cumbersheugh it was deafening. I told Scamp to turn off onto an alternative, quieter road and stop when we’d a fairly straight stretch. That’s when I heard the ticking of metal cooling. I got out and tentatively touched the nearside wheel, but it was just warm. The offside wheel was too hot to touch. That settled it, at least a new wheel bearing needed. We took it easy the rest of the way home and the smell of overheated grease lingered for a while. The wee Red car will need to go to the car hospital to get the work done and in the mean time I’ll see what I can do about the boot switch.

When we arrived at the house there was a big box of flowers waiting for Scamp. There was no message with it and no indication of who had sent it. Scamp did some investigations and worked out who it might have come from. She spoke to her sister in Skye later and confirmed her suspicions. Somebody at M&S is going to get an earful for not including that birthday message.

Early rise tomorrow because it looks as if the dance class is on and as there are still roadworks on the way to Bridge of Weir, we’ll need to be out a bit earlier. Other than that, no plans.

Sunshine and snow showers – 30 March 2022

Typical Scottish weather, but only two seasons in one day.

Beautiful sunshine in the morning and it looked great until you went outside, then you did believe what the thermometer said. I don’t think I even ventured out in the morning, preferring to concentrate on the important stuff that had to be done, like the Sudoku and making coffee. Jamie, I’m beginning to agree with you about Perth coffee. I’ve been getting Sumatran beans for years now and know what the coffee should taste like. Now it’s beginning to be a bit flat. Strong enough, but lacking in flavour. It was pointed out when I got a bag of the ‘coffee of the month’ earlier this month. It was Papua New Guinea and would probably be fresher than most of the beans in the shop. It certainly tasted fresher. It had a totally different taste to anything I’ve had recently. I’ll keep some for you if I can resist trying it again! Could it be that some of his sacks of beans have been lying too long? Maybe. I’ve a lot of coffee in the freezer. Once it’s used I’ll try something else. Sometimes you need someone to point out the obvious to you!

After lunch I got a WhatsApp from Alex with some photos of his new grandson, Ollie. He has been having a hard time since he was born on Sunday night, but he’s in the best hospital for neonatal care in the region. I feel sorry for Alex because Carol goes in to hospital tomorrow to have the knee operation she has waited a long time for. That means he will be solo cook and bottle washer for the rest of the family for a few days. Spare him a thought, and while you’re at it, spare a thought for wee Ollie.

Fred phoned me later and we had a good half hour on the phone, talking about nothing much in particular and everything in general. He reminded me that the new Ben Aaronovitch book is coming out next week. I may use some of my book tokens to get that.

Later in the afternoon, Scamp got the Dyson out and that was my cue to get my boots on and go for a walk. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I’d seen a wee patch of daisies the other day and they might look good with the Lensbaby. However, it didn’t look as if the weather gods were going to play ball because big black clouds were rolling in. After my second circuit of St Mo’s pond, the sun poked its head out and shone nice and brightly, so I got my shot. The lens produces some strange effects in the areas in front of the mains subject. This one looked almost like a nest for the flowers. It got PoD. Other contenders were a full unopened can of Coke, but I was rushing and didn’t notice that the horizon was tilted and the can was not. I might go back and reshoot some time if I get a chance, although that original can will be long gone by then. A full unopened can of coke? In St Mo’s? No chance!  Ten minutes after I took the photo of the daisies, there was a snow storm!  Luckily it didn’t last and the snow didn’t lie.

A short dance practise tonight of the waltz we’re learning. We can now stumble through the entire routine without too many mistakes. What’s the betting the teachers will change something “… to make it easier …”. It never is easier. They know that. We know that, and worst of all, they know that we know that!

No plans for tomorrow although a trip to the shops may be in order.



A little less driving – 20 March 2022

The furthest I drove today was to Tesco and back.

Scamp would have driven, but I wanted to retrieve my car from the parking place it was in from yesterday, before the road and the parking became even more congested. Sundays are always busy round our way. Anyway, if she’d driven I’d have been tempted to stay at home and snooze away the morning. Better to be up and out.

I think we bought out almost all of Tesco’s alcohol shelves. We had two bottles of gin and two, or was it three bottles of wine? I think it was three but who’s counting! On our circuits of the aisles, we bumped into a former colleague, Lynn. She is always either going on holiday or just coming back and she was amazed that we’d taken a two year sabbatical from overseas trips. Younger people don’t seem to understand that some of us ‘Oldies’ are reluctant to just jump in to a foreign holiday while there is still a chance of everything shutting down around our ears. Besides we have a fairly full dance card this year without going beyond the confines of the UK. Maybe later we’ll take the plunge again.

Back home and after lunch, Scamp persuaded me to humph a big bag of compost from the back garden where it had lain since autumn through the house to the front garden where it would be used to replenish some of the earth around her roses. After she had finished, I agreed with her that it had been worthwhile and the roses would feel the benefit. After that was done I even dug up part of the back garden to plant two plants that had been languishing in pots. I’m sure they too will benefit from their new beds and be able to stretch out their roots.

Gardening finished, I went for a walk around St Mo’s with one subject in mind. I wanted some photos of the Flowering Currant bushes (Ribes sanguineum) with their pretty pink flowers. Typically, there has been very little wind this last week, but when I want to photograph these flowers, they start bobbing around in the breeze. However I did get a few decent shots. One of them made PoD. Strangely they were the PoD exactly a year ago and also exactly two years ago!  How predictable I’ve become!

Dinner tonight was a veggie chilli, made with a base of brown lentils. Always a winner. It wasn’t very hot today, but that will change as it sits for a day or maybe two.

Spoke to Jamie and found out that the petrol crisis has had a knock on effect for his lady gardener who can’t afford to travel to his new house, but she has recommended someone who is more local. Sim is getting ready to fly back to Trinidad for a week. Lucky girl! We have sunshine, but Trinidad has SUNSHINE!!!

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks good, so maybe some gardening or a walk.



We had snow – 18 February 2022

We had snow for a while in the morning, but it quickly turned to slush.  Yuk.

We shouldn’t complain.  We had some wind in the morning too, but not nearly as bad as the folks down south had. 100mph gusts are no fun, I’m sure.  We just had snow, not heavy and not the nice fluffy snow that you see on Christmas cards, just wet sleety snow that turned to slush as it hit the ground.  It didn’t last.  Scamp, however, was amazed to see snow from her bed before breakfast.  She kept telling anyone who would listen (me) that she could see the flakes of snow.  She had taken the eye patch off while I was making breakfast.  I remember just how amazed I was to see things so clearly after my first cataract op.  The colours were brilliant.  Much brighter than I’d ever seen before and I was telling everyone (Scamp) so I guess it was my turn to listen to her. I put in her drops for her, I remember that too.  The drops that nipped and the ones that were just cold.  Two different bottles, four drops per day spaced evenly throughout the day.

After breakfast and as the snow flurries were fading away, Scamp got her check-up phone call and got to ask all the questions she’d built up since yesterday.  I think that helped her settle down.  After that, a knock at the door and there stood a man with a long cardboard box I thanked him as he photographed me holding it to prove that he’d delivered it, I guess.  Scamp opened it and inside was a beautiful bouquet of mixed flowers.  Scamp was speechless (for once).  She just stood staring at these bright flowers she was seeing without contact lenses!  I can’t imagine how that must feel.  To see without glasses or contacts for the first time since she was about 5.

With the flowers arranged in a vase it was lunch time.  After lunch I walked down to the shops to get a pizza for dinner and also various things Scamp asked me to get, boring things like potatoes and cream.  I also got interesting things like two fruit and custard Danish pastries!  They were delicious, but we really must make the effort now to stop eating all the time.  On the way back I got today’s PoD which is a wee bunch of weeds on a barbed wire fence. There was little else of interest.

Today’s prompt was Rocket Man. Just to be different and because I’ve always loved the shape of Tintin’s rocket with its bright red chequer board pattern, I chose him as my Rocket Man rather than Elton John.  Tintin probably predates him anyway.

Tomorrow if the weather is kind we may go for a gentle walk.

Johnny Frosty – 4 January 2022

Some folk have Jack Frost, but my mum always called him Johnny Frosty, pronounced “Joanny Froasty”

Joanny Froasty definitely was about this morning. He’d been up early to cover the cars with a crisp white coating. The temperature was still sub-zero when Scamp went to make breakfast. It was her turn. We chose not to rush to get up because it was warm in bed and we both had good books to read. Let those who wanted to go to work, go. We’d stay and mind the house.

We did eventually get up and since it was such a lovely crisp morning, I suggested a walk. Maybe just a short one around St Mo’s pond. Scamp wasn’t sure. She’s not too keen on walking when it’s icy and we were pretty sure it was going to be icy. It was. We had to walk on the grass most of the way over to the park and then again on the grass until we were up the hill and under the cover of the trees where there isn’t ever much standing water to turn into ice. The rest of the fairly recently laid tarmac was an ice rink. A sloping ice rink that threatened to slide you down into the pond itself. Luckily the grass was still boggy and gave a better grip. Next time, if it’s still icy, we’ll dig out the Yak Trax. I was just reading last years blog yesterday about how we could crunch across the icy paths with these steel shod feet. What clever folk Mr Yak and Mrs Trax were.

I took some photos as we walked round the pond and they looked good on the camera screen, so I was content to limit our walk to just the one circuit. Scamp agreed and we walked back, sticking to the grass where we could.

After lunch it was time to take down the decorations, the cards and the tree. Now they are all bagged and boxed and waiting for me to put them in the loft until next year. The place did look a bit bare, but not for long.

I wasn’t impressed with the photos taken in St Mo’s once I’d downloaded them from the camera and decided there was just enough time to grab some more before the sun set. It was much colder than when we had our walk this morning. The sun was low now and not nearly as warming as it had been, however I did get some shots I liked and was heading home when I saw three different skeins of geese all travelling west. Probably heading for a grassy field not far away which seems to support many groups of geese on their journey south. It’s great to watch these flights of birds and even better to listen to them calling to each other. I often wonder what they are saying. But the cold was beginning to bite now and I headed home.

These photos were much better and I actually got three good enough to go on Flickr. My favourite, and PoD was the one you see here of the weed with the ice melt forming balls of water, with setting sun behind them.

My next task was to find out how much MPB would give me for my hardly used Oly E-M1 Mk2. The good thing about selling through them is that you get an instant quote, based on your estimated condition for the camera. I was happy with the quoted price and downloaded the form which never prints properly the first time. I finally got it printed, filled in and signed. Then I had to find all the bits and pieces that had to go in the box along with the camera. With it all boxed up it was time for dinner. Scamp was making a J&S speciality, Bacon and Borlotti Beans. Great recipe, beautifully cooked.

Last thing to do was to wrap up the parcel to be uplifted by DPD tomorrow. I was a wee bit sad to be sending that lovely camera away, but I hadn’t used it for months and it seemed a shame to just have it sitting there when I could get some money from it. Of course I have a way for that money to go!

Tomorrow I’d like to get some photo paper and we need a wall calendar too. Scamp has volunteered to wait in for the parcel.

Happy Christmas – 25 December 2021

Christmas Day and the sun is shining. How did that happen?

After the presents were opened we both booted up and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Scamp went once round and then left to get the cooking started. I went round for a second try for a PoD, and also to get used to my new wooly hat which I needed today with the temperature just above zero. The wooly hat worked, but the PoD now so much, but at least I had contenders.

While I was out dessert had been made. We had just enough time left for a quick lunch and then an equally quick shower before our Zoom meeting with the other pairs. We ended up about three minutes late, but who’s counting. Jamie and Sim had a few problems with their webcam, but once they had it working, the took the rest of us on a live tour of the house and the garden. Both Neil and I were really impressed with Jamie and Sim’s wireless connection as they wandered round the garden showing of the surroundings as well as the garden. Vixen slept through the entire Zoom call, apparently after tiring herself out playing with the new Kong that Hazel and Neil had sent. All in all, we thought it was a great virtual visit. Almost like being there. Maybe that will happen in the new year.

A little G ’n’ T was required while the chicken was in the oven. That gave the cook a chance to relax and gave me the chance to have a first look at the photos.

Dinner was:

Starter Prawn Cocktail
Main Roast Chicken with Roast Veg
Dessert. Lime Cheesecake

Of course, we both had too much to eat and possibly to drink and it took a while for all that excess to settle down.

I’d originally though about making bread for today, but it’s been postponed until tomorrow … at least. PoD turned out to be a nearly mono photo of an old bramble bush.

Rushing now to get this blog finished and posted before Christmas Day is done for another year.

Thank you Hazel and Neil for organising the Zoom meeting. Thank you Jamie and Simonne for the virtual tour of the house and thank you Scamp for being a brilliant chef for the day.

Tomorrow we may get some snow! Whether we go for a walk or not depends on the weather really, and whether we can walk after a day of over indulgence.


Tango and Rain – 2 October 2021

Dancing the Living Room Tango in a hall.

Dance class in Bridge of Weir this morning. Drive to the hall was easy peasy. No real traffic to speak of apart from one numpty who tried to overtake me on the inside and got quite upset when he found I wasn’t going to let him, and he had to pull in behind. I don’t think he was a happy driver.

We started with easy stuff, just to get our feet tuned in again after a week’s lay off. Then we began the Tango we’d learned from the Zoom classes. We did really well and we both agreed about that, even the teachers made very few changes to the way we were dancing it. The strange thing about it was in Lockdown we danced half of it up the living room, then half back down again. Today the teachers sort of unfolded it so we danced it as it should be danced, in a straight line. Then we had a break for a sequence dance that Scamp and I can do, but which evaded us, and a few others, before it all came flooding back. Next was Waltz and we did make a few mistakes in it. Most of the mistakes were mine. Forgetting to do heel leads when going forward and losing “The Frame”. If you watch Strictly, you’ll hear that referred to all the time. Another sequence dance to finish and we were allowed to go home … in the rain. A rain that didn’t stop until about 5pm.

I spent most of the afternoon doing Sudoku and playing catchup with Flickr and the blog. Finally the sun came out and I prepared to go for a walk. I was spraying some beastie repellant on my boots and trousers when I must have turned the wrong way and got a sharp pain in my back. I thought the walk would help work it out, but for once it didn’t seem to help. A hot shower and a couple of paracetamol did and I felt better after that. But it returned later in the evening. I’m hoping a hot shower and another couple of paracetamol will help me get a decent night’s sleep. PoD was an Osteospermum from the front garden covered in little water drops.

Tomorrow looks like being much the same as today. I’m hoping for a little bit more sunshine.

A busy morning after a late night – 31 July 2021

Out and on the road to ballroom class in Johnston, just after 10am.

Drove out via the M73, then the M74 to avoid the M8 and Charing Cross where they, the ubiquitous ’they’ are still playing with their new pedestrian bridge which will be being lowered into place right about now (11.30pm on 31st of July). However, this morning the ground work would have been nearing completion and the M8 would have be a greater shambles than usual. The drive out was fairly easy and I only needed minimal prompt from the lady who lives inside the sat nav.

First dance was an easy sequence dance which got us all up on our feet. Next we did a reprise of the Foxtrot from last week. A few rough edges were cleaned up and by the end of that section we were agreed that it was flowing a lot better. Third dance was a Sweetheart Cha Cha. Cha Cha is not my favourite dance and neither of us knew this one although everyone else in the room knew it or had at least learned it some time in the past. However, Jane and Stewart after a couple of quick demos just dived straight into it and we were floundering. This is the first time I’ve criticised their teaching. Up until now, be it Zoom lessons or live lessons in a hall or even on a cruise, I’ve felt they took time to teach everyone. Today I felt that we were not given any real instruction at all. We are paying our money just like everyone else, so we should be given the same teaching as everyone else. I felt shortchanged. I’m sure Scamp will disagree, but this is my opinion.

Drove home by the M8 just to see if it was as bad as I’d thought it might be. It was slow, but not nearly as bad as the westbound lanes. I think it’s one of those occasions where both routes end up taking the same amount of time. M8 is shorter but with more stop and go traffic. M74 is longer, but the traffic flows much better. You pays your money and you takes your chance.

I went out in the afternoon to grab some photos and my favourite was a low level shot of a little yellow flower whose name escapes me. The last PoD of July 2021.

Watched Kubo and the Two Strings, a fairly interesting animation that kept us amused for the evening. Thank you Hazy and Neil D.

Tomorrow we may go for a walk down to Glasgow Green. Not been there in ages.