Relentless – 23 October 2021

Today would be no-stop.

Up early today because, before we did anything today, there was a loaf to make, or at least the dough to prepare. John and Marion were coming for dinner tonight and I was in charge of the bread and the soup. The bread just had to be the Tear & Share. The soup was to be tomato and red pepper, but the prep of that could wait until we returned from dance class. Scamp was ahead of the game having made the main course yesterday and was preparing the Lime Cheesecake while I was kneading the bread dough.

Out a bit earlier for our trip to Bridge of Weir for the dance class. Hoping there wouldn’t be too much congestion on the M8 because to f the COP26 stramash happening across the river at the SEC. Actually there was very little traffic.

Dance class was ok to start with. Strange complicated sequence dance called Mambo Magic. Much, much more energetic and frantic than any I’ve encountered so far. Very disjointed too, as if it had been designed by a committee! Lots if disparate routines that didn’t seem to gel. Even teacher Jane agreed with this complaint.
Next was Tango and a fault finding and tuning of the basic tango. This was very useful because it changed a simple dance into a much more sophisticated one.
Final teaching session was for the Quickstep which is my bête noire of the moment. We’d practised this at home, yesterday and I’d managed to get all the bits in the right place, but today all Scamp’s teaching went out the window. By the end of the session and with Scamp and Jane’s help it began to come together again, but this will need some more practise sessions at home before I’m ready to progress.

Drove home through Glasgow and the only time we met any substantial amount of traffic was just before the Kingston Bridge where it’s usually busy anyway. We stopped at Tesco on the way home, but were still parked and in the house much, much earlier than a usual Saturday. I wonder if all the talk of road closures and long delays had made some people stay at home today or at least choose a different route that avoided the motorways. Whatever it was, it was a pleasant surprise.

Dough was rising for the bread and Scamp was hard at work getting the table set while I chopped tomatoes and peppers for the soup. I was trialing a new method for the soup. Just chop all the veg sprinkle with oil and bake in the oven for 60mins at gas 6. After that, add the stock and a tin of tomatoes and cook for 20mins before blitzing. Much less faff which leaves time for other things, like photography!

PoD was a shot of a single rose stem with one bud and one blown flower. Used Potatoshop to put a nice blue sky (from another of my photos) in the background and there you have it!

Visitors arrived on time and we had a great, relaxing evening eating, talking an generally catching up with everything that’s been going on in all of our lives over the past two years. Found out about the May wedding too.

After the visitors left and the dishwasher was chugging away with the first load, we had a chance to sit and relax for a while. I managed to get the sketch finished and posted just before midnight. The prompt was “Leak” and I drew the leaky tap you see here. A bit rushed and no watercolour this time, but finished (just) in time and fulfilling the prompt.

Tomorrow (today, you realise!) we will probably load up the dishwasher again and try to put the house back to its normal relaxed state!

A lazy start to the day – 21 October 2021

After a quick lunch we were off and the lazy start was behind us.

We set off thinking that the COP26 extravaganza would cause chaos with the traffic on the M8, but actually the road was just the usual snarl ups and then clear. The problem came in deepest Paisley where roadworks closed part of the road we were intending driving on. That meant a long detour to get to the hall where our tea dance was taking place. After such a good start it was annoying to have to start finding a way through the maze of Paisley’s traffic. Eventually we arrived about fifteen minutes late. That in itself was a success, just fifteen minutes!

The hall was very busy with a new group of tea dancers ready to strut their stuff. We both found the floor very slippery, so slippery that I changed from my old shoes to my new black and white shoes. That made it a bit better, but still not right. When you looked at the parquet flooring with the glancing light from the window, it looked as if the floor had been newly waxed. That might account for the problem. The other problem was that we were making more mistakes than normal. We tried Social Foxtrot, we completed two tracks of Ballroom Foxtrot and we achieved success with waltz with whispered instructions to each other. Tango wasn’t as good as it could have been, but it too is getting there. Lots of sequence dances and for the first time I danced the Sally Anne Cha Cha or to give it another name, FIREBALL! because that’s what you’re supposed to shout at the end of each sequence. I didn’t just in case I got it wrong. Two Scottish country dances and a waltz finished the dancing for today.

I was hoping to grab some of the late afternoon sun when we got home, but the traffic through Paisley and on the eastbound M8 was a crawl. If you can find a space in the fast lane to sneak into, you can get up to 40mph for a while, but it doesn’t last. That said, it was better than the M74 beside us was doing, it was almost at a halt, and this is before COP26 gets into full swing with its road closures all over the city.

An hour and a quarter after we left, we arrived home. The light was all but gone, but I managed a few shots taken along the lane down to the shops. A bit of jiggery pokery in Potatoshop and it became PoD.

Sketch prompt was ‘Fuzzy’, and that’s what my little caterpillar is. It was just a ten minute sketch, but it covered the basics and the prompt.

Tomorrow we may go for the messages at The Fort with the chance of lunch there too.

An afternoon at the seaside – 16 October 2021

Off to dancing class first.

I was a bit late off the mark this morning. Honest, it wasn’t a Freudian slip, it was just a touch of brain fade, but by cutting a few corners we did get on the road about ten minutes late. Just as we were driving past the Irn Bru factory we chanced to see some head case in a bright yellow car testing his vehicle’s 0-60 capabilities. Usually this is done of a perfectly straight and level piece of track, like a runway or something similar, not on a fairly busy ring road with a bend about 50m from his starting point. Also the greater than normal chance of HGVs crossing the road just past that bend. I pity the folk who will eventually have to scrape him off a lamp post. We drove sedately on.

Arrived with about five minutes to spare. Today we were tackling Tango and I was given a reminder of one of the finer points of the man’s part, the pull back on the leading foot after the first three forward steps < that’s my reminder to me. It doesn’t have to mean anything to you.> With that fixed we got a thumbs up! We must have spent almost an hour on the tango, I didn’t check. Next was a sequence dance that we’ve done many times, but which I still occasionally get wrong, the Mayfair Quickstep. We did the Bellisima Cha-Cha after that. I think we’re both fairly ok with it now. After that we went on to a real Quickstep. We haven’t done the quickstep with Stewart and Jane, but we did eventually get the first set of steps right. It will need some practise at home to hammer it into my head, but we should have it by next week. Another couple of sequence dances later and we were done. My little head was full.

We’d planned on going to Irvine if the weather was fairly decent after the class and although the little patches of sun that had appeared in the morning had disappeared to be replaced with milky white cloud, we did continue down through long convoluted road the sat nav picked for us and ended up at the seafront at Irvine. We parked near a little trailer selling New Mexican food. I had a beef taco and Scamp had a chicken one with a couple of coffees. The food was lovely. We both really did enjoy it. After that, it was coats on and a walk down to the pier. I took some photos of the bridge to nowhere. It’s a steel bridge with hand burned steel panels on the side depicting different inventors who originated from Scotland. It used to lead across the estuary to an island with a kind of Science Centre on it, partly buried in a man made hill. The bridge had a removable middle section to allow yachts to sail through, but now that removal has become permanent and the science centre has closed. Such a pity. Such short sightedness on the part of the councils. We saw a family walking a strange looking dog. I thought it was a Borzoi, but Mr Google says it could have been a Saluki. It was the shape of a greyhound with long hair and had a tail that looked like a fan. Strange looking beast.

I got PoD on the walk to the pier. It was a view of some folk walking out to the end of the pier with that grey sky above. Quite gloomy. We drove home by a different route, one that I knew and not the twisty turny routes the sat nav prefers. I must check the preferences on that device to see if I’ve set a flag for “Choose the most awkward route.”

Today’s sketch prompt was Compass. I drew my old Silva compass which is about fifty years old and although the clear perspex base is broken, the compass works perfectly. It’s little used now that Google Maps and OS maps online make instruments like this almost obsolete. However, it does not need batteries, nor does it lose its signal, so still useful as a backup.

When we were driving home the rain came on, gentle rain, that started off as a drizzle but was getting heavier all the time. Now, at just after 11.30pm it’s raining properly, and has been for a while.

Tomorrow we may go for a walk if it’s dry, and if it’s not, there are lots of things to do at home.

Lights on – 14 October 2021

Today we were driving in to Gorbals for a tea dance.

If I’d said that thirty or forty years ago you’d have thought I was mad. Gorbals, then had a really bad reputation. Now it’s all high flats, bright colours and roads that seem to take you where you want to go, but don’t. Today Glasgow is a different city.

When we started the car, the headlights came on. It was about 12.20pm. That will give you an indication of how bright it was today! The sat nav took us into Gorbals by M74. Then by a series of zig zags we almost reached the destination. But for some reason it took us round in a circle before dropping us outside the Glasgow Club and we recognised the inelegant building immediately, but had arrived from a completely different direction from the last time we visited.

The Glasgow Club is a giant gym, pool, dance studio sort of place. We’d been there before, just before the first Lockdown, 12th March 2020 to be exact. There were a lot fewer couples this time. Only five of us in total including the couple who were running the dance and an Indian lady who was recovering from a knee operation and wanted to see if there was anything that would give her some gentle exercise. Scamp talked to her while we were waiting for the music to start. I don’t think she realised it was more of less couples only. She didn’t stay long, but I don’t think it was anything Scamp said 😉

As time went on another couple joined our ranks and a really thin lady we recognised from our previous visit in 2020 appeared too. We both remembered that she danced the followers steps, alone. I wouldn’t say the people were the most friendly group I’ve ever met and strangely enough that’s what I said eighteen months ago too! An older couple did speak to us after a while and the bloke who was running the show did too, in fact he was quite encouraging. Maybe he was hoping we’d return and eventually become regulars to help boost their numbers.

We danced the waltz part we already knew and added some walking steps. Scamp would whisper “Four Forward Steps” when she felt we needed the extra distance and to break up the repetition of the few waltz steps we knew. We tried quickstep, but it was beyond me, just a hint of the moves in my memory weren’t strong enough to build a dance on. Foxtrot was good, though, after a while. By the end of the two hours I was beginning to get the hang of it. Sequence dances interspersed the ballroom and latin and we even learned a new sequence routine Catherine Waltz which we learned on Zoom in the living room during Lockdown. I even danced a Cha-Cha line dance. I’m sure you’ve heard me say on many occasions that my least favourite dance is cha-cha and I don’t do line dances. Today I did. I drew the line at Saturday Night Fever, but of course, Scamp joined in.

The sat nav took us home by a completely different route. As far as we could remember, it was the same one the Juke took us back in 2020. Why does this sat nav have two different routes for the same start and destination? Only Smarties have the answer. And yes, the automatic headlights were on again.

Stopped at the shops for a bottle of wine and two pots of sticky toffee pudding, because we deserved them. Another tea dance (without any tea break) under our belt.

Today’s PoD is a wilting carnation, taken on the kitchen window sill. I do believe, for once, it was brighter when we got back to Cumbersheugh than it had been all day! Today’s prompt is “Tick”. I was determined not to draw any little black arachnids, so I chose the Nike ’Tick’ ( ✔︎ ). I sketched my old battered and much maligned Merrell Moab trainers and stuck an orange Nike ‘Tick’ on the side, rather than just draw the tick itself. I hate the ‘swoosh’ word. It’s not even a real word! I’m quite pleased with the result.

Tomorrow we may go looking for an Indian Restaurant we’ve visited in the past in Hamilton.

What a wet day – 9 October 2021

We’d already agreed to go to Stirling for some light shopping and the possibility of a coffee.

Basically, we did exactly what we’d agreed. Driving through torrential rain and blinding spray in to Stirling. We parked in the big cheap carpark just outside the town centre proper. It was even cheaper today, in fact it was free for some reason. All the ticket machines were covered, maybe to protect them from the rain. Who cares, we didn’t even have to pay the usual cheap price of £2 per day.

We walked in to the town and found a new cycle shop where the owner was repairing, of all things, a Clavinova. Scamp’s Clavinova has a dodgy key and I’ve been telling for ages to get it fixed. The bloke listened to her explanation of the problem, then told her what was causing it, and more importantly, that it could be fixed. No estimate of the cost until he sees the piano. She got his card and will probably phone him to get him to have a look at it.

From there we walked past The Gallery, an art shop we always stop to look in, but sadly is now closing. Stirling won’t be the same without it. Then, down through the Thistle Centre which is the Stirling version of a mall. Brilliant lego fantasy creatures in the mall. The Griffin was exceptional. Coffee in Nero and a few pies bought from the farmers market then that shopping in Waitrose before the drive home into the rain that seems to linger around Cumbersheugh on these damp days. Drizzle elsewhere, rain in Cumbersheugh.

That, I’m afraid was about it for today’s excursion. PoD was taken in the garden when the rain had reverted to dismal drizzle.  It’s what’s left of the geranium flower Rozanne after  the wind and rain have blown away all its petals.  It’s posted on Flickr as Rozanne naked ☺️. Prompt for today was Pressure. I chose to do some lateral thinking and my offering is the difference between high pressure and low pressure as far as weather is concerned. I was going to draw a pressure cooker, but this was better fun.

We have no plans for tomorrow. Weather looks a bit better than today. We’ll, believe it when we see it.

A relaxing Friday? – 8 October 2021

Nothing really to do and nowhere really to go. The rain continuing, so no incentive to go out. A relaxing day. Well, that is how it started.

I drove up to Tesco to get some stuff for tonight’s dinner and also because the Blue Micra was getting thirsty and needed some of that E10 fuel. Scamp stayed at home because there wasn’t really any need for both of us to go out.

Back home with the messages and we’d just finishing our lunch when Shona phoned to ask if she could “get the use of our car.” Well, actually the use of the car and a driver, please. She had to hand back the keys to the flat today by 4pm and now, at about 1pm she had some stuff still to move to the new house. I suggested to Scamp that two cars would be better than one and if only one was needed, then the other could return home. As it happened, we needed both cars, both of them stowed to the roof almost with bags and boxes filled with some things she hadn’t been able to pack until this morning. We got the two cars filled. Boot, back seat and front seat in my case and just enough room for Shona to fit into the passenger seat in Scamp’s car. Thankfully Shona’s new house is that, a house, not a flat. That meant we didn’t have to carry those bags and boxes up two flights of stairs.

Her new house is really nice. It’s an end house of a block with front, side and back gardens. The whole house had that new house smell when we went in. New carpet on the stairs and I think it’s had a skim coat of plaster and definitely a coat of paint. A fresh start to someone who really deserves it.

By the time we got home we were both exhausted, but the exercise seemed to have eased the pain in my back rather than exacerbate it. The rain that had been falling incessantly all day eased for a while and I did manage to get over to St Mo’s for a walk with a camera. Lots of spiders stocking up their larders for the winter, but not much else. Thankfully the rain had stopped and the sun was trying to shine. It was a spider picture that got PoD. The sketch of the day was what the prompt said, a Watch. My old analog Timex watch.

Dinner tonight was “Just Soup”. Nothing fancy. Literally, just soup. Tasted good to me but Scamp said it needed more salt. Lots more for tomorrow if needed.

Ah, tomorrow. Maybe we’ll go shopping somewhere other than Cumbersheugh.

Dancin’ and Drivin’ – 7 October 2021

Not both at the same time though!

Drove our way to the tea dance, not the way the satnav wanted, but I wanted to make sure I could correct the mistake I made the last time. It took us about 40 minutes which was about the same as the satnav’s preferred route. Weather was the opposite of yesterday. Heavy cloud and lashing rain that would fade to a fine drizzle before returning again as a deluge.

Dancing was good with lots of people there, much more than a fortnight ago. We got up for most of the dances although we got in a bit of a fankle with the Social Foxtrot. It’s actually a lot easier than the Ballroom version, but you’d never guess from our ham fisted attempt at it. Still, the tea was good and so was the cake that Jane allegedly bakes. It’s almost like dumpling. Quite heavy, but I didn’t mind because it tasted good. Stewart announced that the dance weekend in Perth was fully booked now (we are in) and they were now taking bookings for a May weekend in 2022. Of all the dates they could have chosen, they picked the on of Wee Jak’s wedding in Skye!

By the time we left my little brain was full of ballroom, sequence and Scottish Country dances. I even did a line dance!! Me? A line dancer? I’ll never live that down. It was still raining when we left and fought our way through Paisley, more or less ignoring the satnav’s pleas to go a different way. Eventually we reached the M8 and after a couple of miles everything ground to a halt. An articulated lorry had broken down on the M74 and the traffic was backed up onto the M8 leaving it as very slow moving conga line in all the lanes. About an hour and a half later we got home, and it was still raining.

My feeble attempt at a PoD was a macro shot of some rose stems in a glass vase. I liked the distortion the glass and water gave those jaggy stems. Sketch for today was Fan. I chose to draw and paint two of Scamp’s favourite fans. The blue one is embroidered cloth and the red one is lacquered strips of wood. I got fed up just using ink, so that’s why the watercolour appeared.

Tomorrow we might go out somewhere to get some petrol and I’ll perhaps get a more interesting and challenging PoD.

Out for a test drive – 26 September 2021

Testing the red car and no coffee in a coffee shop. Strange times.

We decided we’d take the red car out for a longer run than it’s had for while. Enough to allow the alternator to generate some electrical power and store it in the battery. I suggested we drive to Robroyston and have a cup of coffee then come home. The drive was fine and the wee red car performed perfectly. The coffee shop, Costa, not so good.

There was a reasonable queue in the shop, but when I got to the front one of the baristas told me there was filter coffee and soft drinks, but no coffee, no lattes and no cappuccinos. If there was no coffee, what were they making the filter coffee with? Maybe instant coffee? Or perhaps gravy browning? To be honest, in Costa it’s difficult to tell the difference. I said “No thanks” and we left. Most of the queue left too. I’m guessing there were no HGV drivers available for the coffee delivery.

Instead we went to Lidl and bought enough to make tonight’s dinner and some other things too and drove home to get our caffeine fix. Again the wee red car behaved perfectly with a few squeaks from the brakes and maybe a noisy wheel bearing, but essentially it was working just as it should do. Now we just have to find a petrol station that’s open, without a mile long queue, and one with petrol in the pumps. That might be a bigger challenge!

After lunch and after watching Andrew Marr savaging Grant Shapps the transport minister and listening to Keir Starmer mumbling about what he’d have done if he’d been prime minister (fat chance of that), after all that, I booted up and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Sitting on an old log I found four dragonflies. I joined their group and took their photographs, individually and in pairs and trios. Never quite managed the full group photo. Well, you know how it is with group shots. There’s always somebody who blinks or looks the other way and there’s always the joker who pulls a funny face. It’s just the same with dragonflies, except with wings. One of the dragonfly photos got PoD.

Dinner tonight was Haggis Neeps and Tatties. No, it wasn’t Burns Night, it was just a great idea from Scamp that really hit the spot. It was buying the turnip from Lidl that settled the case for H,N&T. Very enjoyable and even better, there may be enough haggis left for tomorrow’s lunch.

After dinner and after watching another fascinating GP which Hamilton won <Insert boo here> and Verstappen drove a spectacular second place after starting last <Insert Hooray here> we did a bit of online investigating. Scamp found that the owner of the garage we used to take our car to for MOT and servicing has now gone into partnership in a new place. We may go and do a drive by tomorrow, just in case the wee red car need some TLC.

Spoke to Jamie in the evening and found that life was just ticking over as normal down there. Told him I was testing Dashline and Lastpass, his and Hazy’s password managers at present. I’ve Dashline working on the MBP and Lastpass on the iMac. Not much to pick and choose between them, but I’m just a week in to the test.

Tomorrow we might do that drive by, or we might go for a walk or maybe we’ll do both. Who knows? You might, tomorrow.


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 Weir 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.