An unlucky decision – 13 November 2020

We went to the Hebo House today, Friday 13th, and it wasn’t the best decision we’ve ever made.

The first time we went to the Hebo House it wasn’t a pleasant experience. We were told we weren’t welcome, given no chance to book an alternative date and left under a cloud. We didn’t return until the original owners sold out. The new owners, apart from having artwork that didn’t chime well with Scamp produced the goods and we were happy to return again. Then Covid-19 put the mockers on that, and indeed all restaurant visits. Today we returned, but it seemed like we had just skipped the last few years and were back with the original owners and the original mindset.

It’s a prime location, next to the marina with a central lounge with an open fire. We were shown to our table, booked yesterday, and after a fair wait we had our order taken. Things took a downturn when a couple of old friends from salsa were booking in and came over to talk to us. The manager / maitre d’ / head honcho / Bampot, lunged in and told us there had to be no inter-table contact. That’s one way to get my hackles up, and one way to lose custom.

Food arrived and it was not hot. Something Scamp hates. I had ham, eggs and chips and none of that was what I’d call hot. Scamp’s chips were not acceptably hot either. When the Bampot returned to clear the plates and asked if everything was ok, we told him that the food was not hot he said “Sorry about that” and I said “So am I”. He bustled around after that conversation and didn’t ask us if we wanted to see the dessert menu or to offer us tea or coffee. Service was slow. Food wasn’t hot and the Bampot needs to go on a customer service course. Oh dear. Nero on Tuesday Hebo today. I could have said it was just me, but when I checked with Tripadvisor, I found that Hebo only scored 3.5 out of 5. We were considering it for a meet up with Crawford and Nancy, but we’re going to The Cotton House (5/5) instead. The moral is “Hire a Bampot to ensure you won’t be bothered by annoying punters who expect good food from you.”

The rest of the day was taken up with:

  • Getting our new boiler installation ordered – Tick!
  • Getting a PoD – Tick!

Boiler ordered and installation date to be agreed on Tuesday
PoD was a last minute shot today of Horse Chestnut leaves.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go into Glasgow to get (yet another) new duvet cover.

Finally. I don’t do football, as most people will tell you, but even I was proud to see that Scotland have successfully entered Euro 2020 which will be played, all being well in 2021. It’s one of those years.

The calm after the storm – 26 August 2020

After another windy and wet night, today dawned (well, 9am is nearly dawn) calm if a little wet.

Yesterday Val had given me a wee sample of Cuban coffee. Just Cuban, not the Cuba Taraquin that I usually buy in Perth. I tried his coffee this morning and it was more bitter than mine and a bit thinner too. Still, really good of him to make the effort. Just what I’d expect from a good friend like Val.

After coffee and a first try at today’s Sudoku Scamp went for a walk down to the shops for the essentials which for once will not include gin. Speaking of gin is not a good thing to talk about in this house. Scamp had ordered gin from the Isle of Barra Distillers. She ordered it about 23 days ago with a promised delivery time of 7 to 10 days, and it’s still not found its way to Cumbersheugh. So this is just a warning. If you’re thinking of ordering some Isle of Barra gin for Christmas, you’re probably too late already. You should have ordered it in February … 2019.

While she fumed, I went upstairs and added the ink lines to the architectural painting I’ve been working on and then added the first of the washes. It looks ok. I won’t go any further than ok at present, but it’s better than I thought it might be.

With some better light appearing I took the Oly out for a walk in St Mo’s. Lots of dragonflies out and all of them skittish. Landing for a few seconds then off again, constantly circling the wee pond then landing on the boardwalk kerbs, probably to warm up from the reflected sunlight before their next sortie.  PoD was a close-up of a wolf spider.  It is a spider, but at first glance it looks more like an octopus!

After dinner we watched another episode of Line of Duty (soon to be abbreviated to LoD) and I’m sure we hadn’t seen that one before. Then I watched Blood of the Clans which is a fairly interesting dramatisation of Scottish history presented by Neil Oliver as he tosses his hair in the wind and walks off camera stage right. I don’t really like him, but some of his one-liners in this show are worth watching it for. Interesting to see how what we think of as modern political machinations are just variations on a theme that’s been running for centuries. Double dealing and backing both sided didn’t start in the 1980s after all.


More rain predicted for tomorrow. We’re intending to drive to Larky because Scamp needs her eyes tested. I might go for a walk down the glen.

Off the leash – 28 July 2020

Scamp was off to a Witches housewarming and I was off the leash for a couple of hours.

Did a bit of shopping while Scamp was getting ready. Just the usual essentials, bottle of Prosecco, box of chocolates and a box of fancy biscuits, oh yes, and a box of Wheetabix, that was for me. The rest, or at least part of it was to go to the Witches party. Lunch for me was one of yesterday’s rolls with some cooked ham. Ham was lovely, roll was dry and cheuch (that means tough). Scamp was off to afternoon tea and Champagne. How the other half live, eh?

When Scamp was safely driven off to the party I settled down to clear up the painting room again. Hoovered most of the scraps of cloth from the floor, picked up all the little bits of black thread that get everywhere. Read a painting book to give me some inspiration – that didn’t help. Put away the sewing machine, started filling a bag with rubbish. I just couldn’t settle down to do anything. Finally gave up and went downstairs to fight with Luminar 4, a piece of software that’s main claim to fame is that it can fake a sky into a picture to persuade all but the most ardent pixel peepers that it’s real. Well, that’s what it did up until the last update. Now it’s become an expert beachball spinner. In other words, as usually happens with clever apps and even clever app designers, it has become top heavy in bloat and can produce really good effects if you’ve got the time to sit and watch the pointer turn into a spinning beach ball for five minutes every time you move the mouse. I’d have thought it would be easy to uninstall it and just reinstall the previous version, but apparently you can’t do that losing all your previous work. Emailing Tech Support doesn’t help, perhaps because they’re inundated with emails from people like me disgruntled at this ill thought out upgrade.

Now there’s a thing. The word ‘disgruntled’. The ’dis’ part usually means ’the opposite of’ as in disassembled or disagree. If that’s the case, is ‘gruntled’ the opposite of ’disgruntled’? Answers on a postcard please to the usual address.

Eventually I had to drag myself away from the computer and go for tonight’s dinner requirements. Walked down to the shops after leaving Scamp a message. Hoping afterwards that here eyesight wouldn’t have been too seriously damaged by a surfeit of champagne and cocktails to be able to read it. It wasn’t, she was back when I returned. Back with stories of the beautiful house with carefully colour matched walls, carpets, curtains and dog. If she changes the colour scheme for the house will she need to change the dog too, I wondered. Dinner was Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya and it was good!

Actually did a fifteen minute sketch of a guy we used to meet at Salsa. Pencil sketch which was deemed pretty good by Scamp. PoD was a bunch of rowan berries on the back door tree.

Tomorrow looks like a reasonable day, so we may go somewhere interesting.

Another toy off another rack – 15 June 2020

Parcel delivered first thing this morning. The lens looked perfect

Stuck the lens on the E-M1 and took a few experimental shots. It seemed to be fine, thank goodness. Unfortunately the day was very dull with hardly any shadows to give shape to potential subjects. However, I took it out to St Mo’s to see what was worth photographing. The place that had been overrun by dog walkers and families out exercising over the past few months was decidedly lacking in visitors. The reason soon became clear. A crowd of between twenty and thirty nutters who should really have been in school were roaring and shouting their collective heads off in the woods. Now, Nick the Chick had just been pontificating on TV, telling everyone that schools would be very different after August and how the pupils and parents would need be prepared for a “blended” approach involving face-to-face teaching and at-home learning. I don’t know how they are going to wean these teenage drunks off the booze long enough to get them in to the schools. However, that’s their problem, thankfully. Mine was just getting past them and on my way.

Walked on to the place where I found the Flag Irises the other day and gave the new lens a good try out. Results weren’t earth shattering, mainly because of the lack of directional light. I’ll give the new lens another test later in the week, hopefully. An abstract looking Iris got PoD.

Dinner tonight was Spaghetti with smoked salmon and lemon. It was deemed to be OK, but nothing exceptional.

Spoke to JIC later in the evening and heard how his studying was going and also his phased return to work. We are so lucky and thankful that we don’t have to go back to work. I realise it will be difficult for school pupils, but for workers too it will be a hard slog for the first few weeks, returning to try to pick up where they left off, especially with summer just round the corner.

Sketch today was a really rough representation of My Favourite Tool. I could have drawn many things for that, but decided to err on the side of safety and chose my Oly E-M1 camera. Sketch is on Instagram.

No real plans for tomorrow. May go out somewhere.

Dull, Dull, Dull – 7 November 2019

That sort of sums up the day. Dull with the chance of Brexit.

I’m getting fed up with the amount electioneering we are getting on the (supposed) news. The first thing they talk about is the election or Brexit. No news there. We know there’s going to be an election. We’ve been saddled with Brexit since 2016. Why is the important stuff always playing second fiddle to this nonsense.

Then it’s Labour slagging off the Conservatives. Conservatives slagging off Labour. Lib Dems labouring under a delusion that they’re going to oust both of them and the SNP slavering for another referendum. Then there’s some poor reporter who’s sent to some god-forsaken town to try to drum up some interest in the whole shebang. Haven’t you heard yet? Nobody’s interested, and apart from the party faithful, nobody has found any party in the whole mess worth voting for. For what must be the first time in my life I don’t want to vote. Scamp even suggested that I should spoil my ballot paper and I might just do that and write “NONE OF THE ABOVE” at the bottom. There, I’ve got that out of my system.

Today was a dull day, but it brightened up in the afternoon and the rain dried up too. I managed out for a walk in St Mo’s and came back with the monochrome offering at the top of the page. Walked on down to the new shops and got a nice wee bottle of wine to go with the dinner. I’d made some soup and Scamp made Chicken and Mushrooms. The wine washed it down beautifully.

After talking to Val in the morning I gave Linux on the Linx another go, but I’m getting tied in knots with it now and beginning to think that it’s more trouble than its worth. I’ll just put Windows back in, reset it to factory settings and sell the big black slab. It’s always been ok, but not great. Windows 10 kills it. Might get a few quid for it and put that to getting a replacement for my dust ridden Teazer.

No plans for tomorrow other than hopefully going to Milano Express for lunch.

So, the plan was … – 6 September 2019

We’d plans to go for a bracing walk somewhere nice, but the weather had other plans.

Really, what can you do with these weather fairies? They tell you it’s going to be windy, cold, but dry. What happens? Well, we get the ‘windy’, we get the ‘cold’, but in place of the ‘dry’, it rains, on and off all day. They have a great suite of weather tracking computers, but really all they do is stick their hand out the window and that gives them their prediction for the day. It wasn’t really as bad as that, but it was quite bad. The sun shone for a short while in between the showers and then, later on, just before sunset, the sun shone, when it was far too late to go out for a bracing walk anywhere.

We did manage a wee run to the new shops for some essential provisions. Basically bread, fruit and fish. Later in the afternoon I managed to get an hour almost dry down the Luggie Water, but no butterflies were flying, no hover flies were hovering and only one solitary bee was buzzing. My PoD was a snail, snailing away up a cow parsley stem. Not much, but the best of a bad lot.

On the way back I thought I’d drop in at M&S for a wee bottle of Rosé and some chicken for a snack tonight or tomorrow. Also bought a pot of Basil that I would promptly cut into four pieces when I got home and plant each piece in a pot that will hopefully provide four basil plants in due course. Since I had so little in my basket I thought I’d use the self-service tills. Big mistake. First question from the girl in charge was “Cash or Card?” I said “Cash”. That got the reply “You’ll need to wait.” Nobody was at the till nearest to me, so I asked if I could use that one. “It’s broke.” was the answer. “What about the one at the corner?” although I knew what was coming. “Broke”. I gave up at this point and went to one of the Card Only tills, which wasn’t ‘Broke’, and finally got my three items paid for and as I was leaving the woman at the till next to me was trying desperately to grab the girl’s attention. Presumably her till was also ‘Broke’. Opened on Tuesday to great fanfare. By Friday almost half the ‘Cash or Card’ self-service checkouts were out of order. That’s not good.

Tomorrow we have a plan, but just incase the weather fairies are listening, or reading this blog, I’m not revealing it just yet.

Roundabout chaos – 23 August 2019

It was one of those days that promised a lot but failed to deliver

In the morning, it looked like it would brighten up and be a lovely day. Good wind to break up the clouds and just the hint of sunshine and blue sky now and again. However, it didn’t quite make it and it all degenerated into a dull, cloudy day.

It didn’t keep us in, not us. We were out and ready to buy a new strimmer cable and were driving merrily along past St Mo’s school when the traffic all jammed up. The lights had been switched on and they weren’t properly phased in. Confusing signals from the lights on the roundabout and drivers unsure of what was being asked of them brought the entire roundabout to a halt. Really and truly, in this day and age I’d have expected a computer model to have been built to check the traffic flow. Yes, it would have cost money, but so do six technicians wandering around with their chins on their hands, looking at the carnage on the roundabout and pretending they were thinking about it. What they were really doing was waiting for someone, anyone with a plan to tell them what they’d done wrong. Most of them were wearing brand new Hi Vis jackets, not a mark on them. These weren’t workies, these were managers, consultants and planners and all of them numpties. We managed to get through the mess and bought the strimmer cable then drove home. It was still the same when we drove round the roundabout a second time. Six numpties without a clue how to fix it. Oh dear.

We drove in to the new shops and this time we were buying!! Prices weren’t too bad. Haven’t checked the quality yet, but it’s another option for shopping and a competitor for Tesco can’t be a bad thing.

After lunch I went for a run and avoided the roundabout from hell. Drove over to Fannyside and got a few photos, but it’s just not the same as Venice or Dubrovnik, it’s just Fannyside. The best of a bad lot got PoD. On the way home, just for the fun of it, I drove round the roundabout which was doing what it says on the tin, making the traffic travel round it. Somebody, somewhere had found the solution. Ask a workie who would actually know what they were doing and get him to fix it.

Couldn’t be bothered going to the Balloon Festival tonight. No other reason, just couldn’t be bothered.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch somewhere nice.

Dancing without Numpties – 17 April 2019

Drove in to Glasgow to go dancing. Only real dancers there today.

I think there must have been a sign outside Blackfriars that read “No Numpties”. There were only five of us dancers there and all of us wanted to dance, and learn. Nobody giggled and shouted out “Look at me, I’m stupid”. Nobody stopped in the middle of the floor to have an argument. All of us were dancing, getting things wrong occasionally, but then working to put things right. What a difference it made. It made the lessons a pleasure, not a chore and we got further than we did last week when the Numpties where there. Unfortunately, somebody will take that useful sign down next week and it will be back to normal again.

In the afternoon when we got back, I ordered some coffee from the Bean Shop over the phone so I could get some Cuban Tarquino which you can only order over the phone because the website isn’t allowed to list if for a ridiculous reason that’s something to do with PayPal. After that, I went for a drive, mainly to get petrol to fill the Juke’s thimble sized tank, but also to grab a PoD which turned out to be a landscape shot across St Mo’s pond. It looked lovely and still on a calm day.

Drove through terrible traffic again to get to Salsa and quite enjoyed both classes, but I get the feeling we’re being taken for granted. Maybe I’m wrong, but it feels like we aren’t needed and, lets face it, we don’t learn much on a Wednesday night. I think we should take the occasional night off. We don’t pay for the classes, but we pay for the petrol to drive there and we pay for parking and get no thanks for it from anyone at AdS. It would be good for Jamie G to say thanks, just once in a while.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow on the bus and try to have a look at the Leonardo exhibition.

First Day – 21 March 2019

We’d decided that today would be a day of rest after yesterday’s fraught day of travel and that’s what we did.

In the morning we just sat by the pool. Scamp went for a swim but I decided to stay on dry land. My head was not my own. I hadn’t slept well and apart from the excess of alcohol yesterday, I realised I’d had more than my fair share of sun without a head covering. Also, I’d been careful on the flight not to drink too much and the combination of all these things meant I was probably dehydrated and had slight sun stroke. That’s why my head felt slightly woozy. The reason I’d not slept well was because I kept waking up hearing noises during the night. We eventually decided that because our room faced into the prevailing wind, the constant buffeting by that strong wind was causing the chairs to vibrate on the balcony. Not only ours were vibrating, everyone else’s chairs and tables were doing the same thing too. Thankfully in the afternoon, somebody realised what was happening and the chairs were removed into the flat or stacked in such a way that the noise was eliminated. That was a great relief.

Saw a Hoopoe in the gardens of the resort and amazingly it let me get quite close. It made PoD. Haven’t seen one here before, in fact the only one I’ve seen before was in Puerto Rico in Gran Canario about 10 years ago.

In the afternoon we went for a walk as far as the small strip of shops just short of Caleta De Fuste. Walked back along the new walkway.

Later in the afternoon, I went for a walk over to the wild side beyond Elba Sara. Got some photos of the camels walking to their overnight accommodation and also some shots of a curlew.

Show tonight was a music quiz which didn’t interest us and shows the quality of the entertainment in this hotel.

16,179 steps 7.3 miles today.

Tomorrow we may get the bus into Puerto del Rosario.

A Plan – 18 February 2019

On Mondays you have to have a time management plan.

Time is especially precious on Mondays and Wednesdays. Mondays because of Gems and Salsa and Wednesdays because of Ballroom and Salsa. That’s why today I tried to allocate time to activities that had to be completed. Some have to be tackled in daylight. Painting and sketching are the important ones for good natural light. Photography too, but it’s not as demanding of natural light as painting. Other things like posting images on Flickr and Facebook can be done under room lighting. With that in mind, I set out a plan of operations:

  1. Photography in daylight when there’s a bit of sun too, if possible. However, the actual taking of the photo doesn’t take all that long, so it can be done when and if the conditions are favourable.
  2. Painting and Sketching take a little longer and need some time allocated to them to make sure I don’t over run.
  3. Making dinner is determined by which classes we are going to and posting stuff online can be done any time.

So, started after lunch and got some photos taken just before the rain started and in a little pool of sunshine. Today’s PoD was one of the first croci to poke its head out of the compost. I liked the effect of the raindrops on it.

Next, today’s subject for sketching and painting was a couple of herb jars from the kitchen and a tin of Pimenton pepper. I’d had a go at the pepper tin years ago and liked the shape and also the fact that it should have a decent set of perspective lines. The finished article wasn’t really to my satisfaction because the perspective wasn’t correct, but I like the rendering of the glass jars and their contents. I tried a second drawing, drawing only this time, of the two jars. It was much better graphically, but didn’t have the watercolour effect, so the first painting won the day. All the artwork was done upstairs in the back bedroom while Gems practised their songs. Good headphones with noise reduction are a godsend.

After dinner we drove in to Salsa. It used to be the one class I could completely lose myself in if I was having a bad day at work, but since last week’s announcement that it was being terminated in four weeks, it’s lost a lot of its appeal. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the dancing and the repartee, but it’s like I’m losing an old and trusted friend. I think even if it is reprieved, it won’t be the same. The trust would not be there any more. Hard to explain in words.

The class before ours, the beginners, were doing Sombrero. What Scamp calls the first time they are really dancing. It’s true the whoops and yells when Jamie demonstrated what they were going to learn made me smile. It almost made me smile as much as when you lead a beginner through the apparent maze of the move and they realise they’ve just done it! They did it. Well, most of them did.

Our own class were very vociferous in their condemnation of the decision to axe the Advanced class and several proposals were put forward to avert it, but I felt all the time it was a fait accompli. It was going to go ahead, no matter what we felt. Of course it was left to Jamie to fend off the questions. Shannon was obvious by her absence.

Tomorrow we’re out to lunch.