Put on your dancing shoes – 24 July 2021

First time dancing in among people for a long, long time.

Another day to get up fairly early, have breakfast and get things organised for our first face to face dance class since March 2020. We left the house at about 10.15 to drive the 30 miles to the village hall in Johnstone, near Paisley. It took all of the 45 minutes we’d allowed for the journey. Google said 34 minutes, but Mr Google wasn’t driving today, I was.

There were people inside the hall, lots of people, around 14 people and we only knew two of them, the teachers, Stewart and Jane. Oh dear, I thought. Am I going to make a fool of myself here by not knowing any of the routines. Not to worry though, I had my magic Dancing Shoes and when I lace them up and tie them it all comes flooding back. The panic, that is. That’s what comes flooding back. Aha, but we knew the first dance, it was an easy one, a Rumba One. That built my confidence. The next one was the Foxtrot and we’d practised it hard and for a long time. We’re not exactly perfect at it, but we can make it look like we are. For those who saw us dance it on Thursday and are shaking their heads, we can do it. And we did. One or two little technical points were missed, but the majority of the dance was there and we were keeping fairly well to the music too. That’s the difference with Stewart & Jane as teachers. If they see you have the basic form of the dance and are keeping up with the rest of the class, they forgive some of the errors, knowing they can go back to them later and fix them. Others are perfectionist and we’ve suffered under them before.

The third dance was a Cha-Cha and we’d covered it well on Zoom, so it was fairly easy for us. The class ended with a sort of Jive routine we’ve done loads of times and we mastered it on the second music track. All in all it was great. We’ve signed up for a ten week course that will take us into October! Strangely, I’m looking forward to the challenges we’ll face.

Drove back home and Scamp went out to buy Tesco. I stayed home and did some creative writing, converting a week’s worth of bullet points into a week’s worth of blog. When Scamp returned and she’d done two loads of washing, I went off to find a photo in St Mo’s. Returned with a few hopefuls, but today’s PoD was the hoverfly on ‘final’ to land on a cow parsley flower head.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the garden soaking up what might just be the last of this hot weather.

Did you know that 50 years ago on this date (also a Saturday) we got engaged!

Tomorrow we may go out somewhere after we’ve given a man some snot and some saliva!

Driving home – 23 July 2021

It always comes to this day.

We had packed last night. Really all that had to be done was to load the car and tidy up the house. That work took about an hour and a half with all four of us doing our bit. Then the hugs and goodbyes with the promise that we’d do it again soon. I hope we do.

Drove in convoy with Hazy and Neil D until they branched off to go past Broughton in Furness and we headed for the northbound M6. A fair few holdups on the road, but once we were on the motorway it was plain sailing. Stopped at Gretna to stretch our legs and window shop, although I did buy a new kitchen knife. Then it was back on the road and home.

All the plants needed a drink, it looked like they had not had any real rain either

I’d taken some shots of the mist covered Duddon Valley with sheep coming across the field for their morning drink. That was easily the PoD.

Tomorrow we may go dancing … in a hall … with a wooden floor … wearing dance shoes … and … WITH OTHER PEOPLE IN THE ROOM!!!

Stones – 22 July 2021

We were travelling into history today, our history.

Years ago we often drove down to the lakes for a long weekend when school permitted. Sometimes to Ambleside and sometimes Grasmere. Once when we were there we noticed an appeal for money to repair an old church in Grasmere that needed a new roof. If you paid a sum of money, can’t remember how much, you could have a paving stone engraved with your name laid on a path in a new garden near the church. We made the donation and got our stone laid, but when we went to see it, the path was only part completed. It seemed a shame to come all this way this year and not search for our stone in the garden in Grasmere. That’s where we headed today.

We knew it would be a long journey, but we hadn’t realised just how steep some of those climbs and descents would be. One descent in particular was 25%! We were just starting it when a girl on a road bike was cresting the rise, hardly out of breath. I admired her stamina getting up there. It wasn’t the most fun drive I’ve ever had and I’m sure Scamp wasn’t all that happy either, but we got there.

Grasmere was a lot busier than I remember it. Every car park seemed crammed full. However there was a notice on the exit of one that pointed to a new car park. We found it and it was nearly empty, I presume because it was on the far edge of the village. Didn’t matter, we were parked. There was a long queue to pay for a ticket, because everyone uses plastic these days and this machine didn’t seem to like that. It was rejecting cards right left and centre. I offered to try my luck with cash and four quid lighter I had my parking ticket for three hours. So, there was nothing wrong with the machine, it just didn’t like plastic!

We walked along a path beside the river and saw one of Mr Grey’s distant relatives fishing in one of the pools. The path came out just at the church and beside the church was the new garden, the Daffodil Garden, and the paving stones. The search was on.

Scamp was off like a shot and of course it was her who found the stone. Just as we remembered it. The entire path was finished now, all 3,000 of them. That’s a lot of money raised. After we’d photographed each other standing next to the stone, we left the garden to the others who were reading the names. The repairs to the church are still ongoing, but a lot has been done with the money.

We had lunch in a wee tearoom we used to sit in. Looked much the same as it did all those years ago. The couple who owned and ran it then have only recently sold it.

Scamp remembered another road home that didn’t involve climbing that 25% hill. I think it might have given the wee blue car a heart attack climbing it.

Back at the house it was an early dinner to allow JIC and Sim to get on the road. This was Neil D’s turn as chef again and it was Fried Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Beans. There was yet another group photo and a few tears when JIC and Sim took their leave.

I went for a last walk along the road and got a few landscape photos in the beautiful evening light. I think they are some of my favourite photos of the week. Back at the house I tried again for some shots of the moon, but none of them worked very well. One of the landscapes became PoD.

Tomorrow is the day we all dread. Packing up and going home.

Cars on the rooftop – 19 July 2021

Today we went to Broughton in Furness to see what was there.

We parked in the village square and walked down the Main Street. There wasn’t a lot to see, it looked like a sleepy little market town. One busy pub on a corner, as most pubs seem to be, especially old ones. It was earmarked for a visit later.

We walked further down the hill away from the retail centre and found a petrol station/garage with an interesting display of what looked like old pedal cars on its roof. Further still down the hill there was a sign pointing down an avenue of trees to a woodland walk and ponds. We agreed that we should investigate.

The path ran straight for as far as we could see with the back gardens of houses on both sides for the first 100m or so. The ones on the right were well manicured, while some of the ones on the left were a bit overgrown, but looked as if they had been well maintained in the past with vegetable plots laid out neatly below the weeds. Others, of course were pristine. Best of all, near the path was a community garden with a sign saying that everything was free to a good home. I suppose that’s what you expect in a small rural community.

We walked for a mile or so along the path and found the ponds, two of them. The first one was almost dried up with little sign of life, but further on was the second pond. This one had a bit more shelter from the sun and near the edge I could see what I think were dace feeding in the shallows. Also a few ducks, mallards, soaking up the rays on the pebbly shore.

The woodland walk and the ponds were part of Broughton Tower estate and private property, but with access allowed to the public. There was a large area of grassland with paths leading up to the Big House which we glimpsed through the trees, but didn’t investigate because we were walking back along the path and out into Broughton again.

We found a street running parallel to the Main Street with a neat little deli at the end where Scamp bought some lovely fat cherries and I got a pack of dates which I intend to eat this time, instead of keeping them in the fridge!

By this time it was definitely Beer o’ Clock, so we took a seat at the pub we’d noticed earlier and Scamp had a half pint of lager and I had a half pint of very dry stout. I wish I’d remembered the name of the stout, because it was just excellent. If we ever go back to this area again I’ll search it out.

Took a wrong turning heading out of the town and ended up on narrower and narrower roads, then the sat nav pulled us out of trouble again and got us on the right road. Halfway along the narrow wee road to the house we came on a traffic jam. A car and a van were blocking the road trying to do the “two into one won’t go” trick and neither were willing to give ground. Eventually the car driver who was at the front of our line of vehicles, reversed, down the wrong side of the road, ending up in a ditch. That allowed the van to wriggle through the gap and the rest of our line of cars and vans to pass. I don’t know when or how the car driver got out of the ditch, but nobody was stopping to help him/her.

Later in the day I went for a walk along our narrow road and got a few photos of flowers and landscapes in the low afternoon sun. The harebells got PoD.

JIC was chef tonight Turkey Parmagiano which was delicious and will be added to our own list of things to try. It was their standard Monday dinner, just as our Monday dinner is Pasta with either a Tomato or Carbonara sauce.

I attempted a Milky Way photoshoot when the sky looked dark enough, but it wasn’t a great success. I think Photopills may be right when it seemed to indicate that the Milky Way wasn’t visible from our global position at this time. Anyway, the midges were definitely visible and biting!

Tomorrow we may go sailing!

 

Going down south – 17 July 2021

Driving down to our first family meet-up for a year and a half.

We had a funeral to attend in the morning for a friend of the family. After the service we drove home, changed and started the process of loading the car. Surprisingly we managed to squeeze all those bags into the boot and the back seat.

Drove down the M74, A74, M6 then the small roads under a blazing hot sun. After that, the smaller roads. Finally the tiny roads, nearly all single track. We’ve driven on single track roads before, we’ve been to Skye and know the way they work. It’s all to do with keeping a one eye on the road in front of you and another on the road a hundred meters ahead. We managed the twists and turns and the steep climbs with the similarly steep descents. I was amazed when the sat nav took us to the door!

Sent a message to the other family members who were driving up from the south. Hazy & Neil D were the next to arrive. By then we’d investigated the house and found out where everything was. So after showing them round and asking after Neil’s family the next pair arrived.

JIC & Sim were about an hour behind H&N ah, but now there were four of us to show them and Vixen round the house. Rooms were allocated and agreed and we sat down to talk as families do that haven’t seen each other face to face for too long a time. We also took some an opportunity to take in the stunning scenery of Cumbria, especially the hills on the other side of the Duddon Valley, oh yes, and the silence!

We had previously agreed that all six of us would take turns at cooking. Tonight I was cooking Chicken and Pea Traybake. It’s simple and easy to do and it does taste good. However, I’m used to cooking on a gas cooker and here I was faced with an electric one. Also our oven has gas marks engraved on the dials. This one had nothing. Luckily someone had made a sketch of where the cardinal temperature settings were and what the four clicks on the settings dial controlled, oven, grill, fan grill and cool. I’ve never heard of an oven with a ‘cool’ setting before. Maybe it’s an English setting. The meal was made, on time and it was ok, just ok. Everyone was very polite and nobody said it was awful, but it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever made. We didn’t starve.

I think everyone was too tired and too hot to do much later and bed was calling us, so we headed to our room.

PoD was the view from the house across the Duddon Valley to the hills beyond.

Tomorrow we may go adventuring.

 

Chicken Burger and Cheese Burger – 14 July 2021

Chicken Burger (No barbecue sauce). Cheese Burger (No mayo). Foodies are fastidious.

Today we drove to The Fort to spend one of our M&S vouchers on ourselves. Sometimes it’s nice to spend money you don’t really feel you’ve earned on something. Today it was mainly alcohol. For some reason you can’t spend Tesco vouchers on alcohol, petrol or tobacco products. I fail to see the common factor there, but I presume Tesco see the hidden logic.

After our splurge, we went for a walk around this emporium of retail therapy. I went to Waterstones and found a few interesting books I might try on Audible or Kindle. Probably Audible because I’ve just finished my last book and my next credit has just appeared, also because I’ve got an interesting ‘Real’ book that I can read and it’s got illustrations which obviously you don’t get with Audible. Scamp knew she’d find me browsing in Waterstones, so after she dragged me away from the books we went for lunch.

We walked over to Ben & Jerry’s. Not really B&J, but that’s what we always call it. It’s really Frankie & Benny’s. It used to be our go-to place for breakfast when we were flying off to go on a cruise or to have a late deal week in the sun. In the days before quarantine, face masks and Covid. Now it’s just a fairly cheap place for lunch. The burgers are usually good and the chips are such a temptation! Today’s choice, as you can see from the title was Chicken Burger for Scamp and Cheese Burger for me with the usual alterations. Both were delicious, but the overpriced lemonade was stale tasting. Nothing is perfect.
Stopped off at The Shops on the way home to get pineapple in M&S plus a bottle of gin and four pineapple cakes in Aldi.

I took the Dewdrop out for its second run this year and went to my usual quiet place alongside the railway. Today’s PoD came from there. Originally there were the overhead wires cutting right across the sky in the photo, but about an hour’s work put paid to them and left a much better picture. While I was walking around looking for more photos I felt wee nip on my front and brushed away what I think must have been a cleg. It had bit me right through my tee shirt. I couldn’t see a hole, so it must have been using a syringe to draw off some blood. Another nip on my shoulder a few minutes later meant that it was time to get back on the bike before my tee shirt was ruined. Luckily I had some Piriton tablets and an old tube of Anthisan cream in my saddle bag. They got to work immediately and got the swelling down. No mark to be seen now.
Took another few shots on the way home, but the Beech trees were the clear winner of PoD.

It was a lot cooler but the time I got home and the sky had clouded over quite a lot. It’s supposed to reach 27º tomorrow. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Today we went to Glasgow – 12 July 2021

Off to the Toon

We drove in to Buchanan Galleries this morning and got parked on level 3. Until Covid-19 made home working the norm and commuting a thing of the past, parking anywhere below level 5 would have been impossible. Today it’s become just a normal occurrence.

We walked up a busy Sausage Roll Street (real name Sauchiehall Street). I went left to get my hair cut and Scamp continued on to look for a dress shop. While I was waiting for the sole barber to finish the bloke in the chair, I noticed Scamp outside. I wondered what could be wrong, but it turned out that the shop no longer existed. Like so many it had become a victim of the same change in ways of working that allowed parking on level three of the car park. It is down to insufficient footfall. The barber, when he was cutting my hair said the same thing. He finished cutting my hair around 12.30 and I had been the second customer that day.

I met Scamp and we went for a walk through the town. Nobody in the Central Belt talks about the City of Glasgow. Glasgow is The Town or The Toon if you’re my age. Edinburgh is A City, Glasgow is The Town.

I wanted to have a look in a charity shop that used to specialise in cameras and lenses, but I think they are just starting to get back on their feet after the stramash of the last year and a half. They didn’t seem to have anything to interest me. We walked down to Argyle Street and for coffee and a bite to eat in Cafe Nero. Then it was on to Queen Street where Scamp wanted to visit Next and I didn’t. I did wander into and out of Cass Art. Nothing much to interest me there. However I noticed a shoe style that Scamp likes in Shuropody next door. Managed to catch her as she was walking past and she got a new pair of shoes that she wears about the house like slippers! We went home.

The day had improved greatly since we left the house and when we returned, Scamp set to, to rake up the leaves from next door’s tree. It might be in Angela’s garden, but it will always be referred to as Betty’s tree, Betty being the previous tenant. I got my, now manky, shorts on (retrieved from the washing basket!) and took my Sony with the Sigma lens for a walk in St Mo’s. I took lots of photos, but really wasn’t all that impressed with the results. The PoD went to a picture of another battered and bruised butterfly. This one was a Ringlet. Second favourite was this one, taken outside the GOMA on Queen Street.

Dinner tonight was Pasta with Pesto. Too much garlic in the pesto and maybe a mixture of leaves is better than just basil. I’ll try to remember that next time.

We watched the first University Challenge of the new series and saw Glasgow Uni soundly beaten by some London mob. Really, they both were thick! I think I answered almost as many questions as either team. I don’t think the London mob will go far.

Not a bad day. Scamp came home from The Town with a new dress and a new pair of shoes. I came home with a new haircut. Number 3 on the side and back, Number 4 on top. Apparently that’s called Two Guards!

Tomorrow we’re probably going shopping … or so I’m told.

Just an ordinary Friday – 2 July 2021

We went for the messages, Scamp did some housework, I went for a walk. That’s about it really!

While I’ll admit that Scamp did some housework, I had hoovered the kitchen before I’d even had my breakfast this morning. Granted, when I’d been making the breakfast I’d accidentally spilled half a box of bran flakes on the kitchen floor, but that’s a mere detail. I hoovered the kitchen.

We went for the messages. Scamp drove to Tesco and we collected the usual essentials but also bought some milk to put in between the wine bottles to stop them clinking.

I went for a walk in St Mo’s later in the afternoon and PoD was a Red Admiral butterfly, although a Lacewing was a close competitor, as was a little Ringlet butterfly. These words, Red Admiral, Lacewing, Ringlet and even Butterfly are ones we only use for three or four months a year in Scotland. After that the most common word is rain. Which neatly brings me to the next topic.

All the way through my walk I’d been watching the black clouds that were looming from the south. Just as I was getting to the house, I felt the first drops of rain. Scamp was just hanging out the clothes, fresh from the washing machine and was loathe to bring them in again, but resistance was futile. The rain just got heavier. She brought them in. Strangely, about a couple of hours later the rain stopped, the sun shone and it was a beautiful evening, but it was too late to risk putting the washing out again.

I used the new toy on my wrist to log my walk today and was surprised at just how accurate it was. Not only that, the amount of data it collected and sent to its masters in China will all be analysed by their top scientists to try to steal even more of my identity. I now know how many minutes and seconds it takes for me to walk a mile and how many Kcal I burn in the process (not enough says Scamp). Still it’s an amazing piece of tech. It even has a torch built in. That’s a godsend if you want to raid the drinks cupboard while Scamp is in her bed and I’m supposed to be writing the blog!

We watched poor Bandy Andy doing his best to play against his younger, fitter, but less bionic opponent.  However, it was all in vain.  Proving that old age and treachery won’t always beat youth and exuberance.

Tomorrow we have rain, hail, thunder and lightning forecast for our entertainment. I think the shorts and the tee shirts will be in the washing machine and I’ll be looking out my jeans and my rainy coat. No real plans.

It was a lovely morning … 24 June 2021

… but then it all got kind of wet!

Indeed the morning was lovely. Not too bright, but warm and there was always the hope that it would stay that way at least until the evening, then we’d be thankful for overnight rain. However just after lunch, when we’d decided to drive in to Glasgow, the rain started. It’s now just after 10pm and I don’t think it’s stopped yet. Now don’t get me wrong, this is exactly the kind of rain we and the plants were looking for. Nice light, soaking rain. Not a heavy cloudburst then it all dries up. No, this was what the garden needed a good continuous rain that would wet the ground through. I should have expected it to happen. The schools in Scotland broke up today for the summer holidays and it always rains on that afternoon … every year!

We did drive in to Glasgow, well actually we drove in to the Buchanan Galleries because all the shops we wanted were there. Scamp was looking for a Swiss Roll Tin and possibly a new vacuum flask to replace our two ageing ones. One of which keeps the water hot, but leaks. One which keeps the water warm but doesn’t leak. We found a flask in JL and the tin in Lakeland. I’d thought about going for a browse in Cass Art, but when it came to it, I couldn’t be bothered with a walk in the rain, so I went back to JL to look at ‘The Toys’. What I did get was a pair of suede elbow patches to repair one of my favourite rugby shirts. Even better, the patches are iron-on with holes already pierced in them for stitching on, if I decide they need the extra security. I may try them tomorrow. Once we were sure we had everything, we drove home through the rain. One stop at The Shops to get butter for the Swiss Roll and a bar of chocolate each for Scamp and me.

Grabbed a few shots in the garden, mainly of flowers and a quarter of a Calendula got PoD. Watched a second episode of Rankin Pontificates, some sort of photography challenge, but really a vehicle for that man. Not impressed. That may be the last one I watch. Sorry Hazy. It looked good, but so far it isn’t for me.

Feeling like I’ve a cold coming on which is a shame because Scamp has booked us in at Mango, a new(ish) Italian/Indian restaurant near the mighty Cotton House. I’m sure I’ll be feeling a bit better by then. A small glass of Dark Matter spiced rum with a splash of water in it is helping. A couple of paracetamol tablets will also aid recovery and guarantee a good night’s sleep – That sounds a bit like an advert, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s where I got it from.

Ok, off to bed early tonight and we’ll see if the morning brings a visit to Mango!

Back to life, back to reality – 18 June 2021

The car was packed and we were driving back south.

We’d started the packing last night, so it was really just a case of tidying up the caravan. Loading all the bags, rucksacks and more bags, plus the pink fluffy plant into various places in the car and pointing it south after we’d done some more shopping at Morrisons which happened to be on our way home. I must admit it was Scamp who did most of the work. I took a phone call from Fred. Not the easiest of calls to take. I’ll leave it at that.

We chose a slightly more picturesque route home, compared to the one the sat nav had chosen for the run up to St Andrews. Basically, after the initial avoidance of Crail and Anstruther, we just hugged the coast and followed it down to Rosyth where we crossed the Queensferry Crossing which is the Third Forth Bridge and from there we followed the M8 until the M73 and then we were on home ground.

After lunch we drove to reluctantly give Annette her caravan keys back, thank her for the opportunity and convince her that we hadn’t left too much of a mess in the ‘van.

Scamp and I went for a walk later in the afternoon and got a picture of some beasties which turned out to be immature Shield Bugs. They just looked like an unruly crowd of teenagers having fun. I couldn’t get that impression out of my head. They made PoD.  We continued our walk to Condorrat and got two fish suppers to celebrate the end of the short holiday.

Thank you Annette for the chance to share your holiday home. We really enjoyed it. I’m not entirely sure we could make a case for owning one ourselves, but it was still great fun.

Tomorrow I intend to relax and try to work out the knots that have appeared in my right calf. Something to do with yesterday’s up hill and down dale walk along the Fife Coastal path. Scamp is intent on starting a week’s worth of washing!