Away for the messages – 17 September 2021

This was nominated a Recovery Day. That’s what we did.

We needed some messages and I wanted to find out how much EE wanted from me for a reasonable amount of data and a Sim-only contract. We agreed to go to The Fort.

Scamp went to M&S and I walked round to the EE shop. Three people serving and only two customers. Waited 15 minutes, but nobody was paying any attention. I gave up and walked out. I might come back another day or I might just go to Tesco instead. The Tesco website tells you how much you get for how much money. The EE website is a maze. It tells you nothing.

Back at the car I met Scamp and we went food shopping in Morrisons then we drove home. After lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s while Scamp went to see how the garden was growing.

It was a relaxing day, because, even with our alfresco dancing lesson in Cumbria, we’ll still be a bit rusty for the real class tomorrow.

The boot’s on the other foot – 13 September 2021

Scamp needed better shod and today was the day to look for new boots.

We drove to Kirkby Stephen and went to Mad About Mountains, an outdoor clothing shop which came recommended by Sim. It certainly held a lot of stuff in a small space. Scamp tried on a few boots and liked one of them, although she did think it was a bit tight. With that in mind, she asked for the other boot of the pair to try, and that’s when the trouble started. The bloke who was serving us couldn’t find it, however he told us his boss was due in soon and he would know where the missing boot was. He also recommended two different running shoes. They weren’t boots, but what the hell! He told us to go for a coffee and his boss would have found the rogue boot by the time we came back.

Since MaM had a café at the back of the shop, we went there. Scamp had a latte and I had an americano, but neither of them were coffee. I’m almost certain they had a fair amount of Chicory in them. Almost undrinkable, but we waited a while before we went back, hopefully, to try on a PAIR of boots. Same bloke was waiting at the till doing Facebook updates by the look of things. Eventually he noticed we were there and told us that he hadn’t been able to find the boot. When I asked him if his boss had managed to find what had happened to it, he looked confused and after gathering his brain cells (both of them) together said his boss hadn’t a clue either. He had told us he only worked there two days a week. If his excuses don’t get better soon, that will reduce to zero.

Feeling a bit disappointed and disillusioned we walked along the street where we found a wee walkers shop. Two blokes were sitting outside having a smoke and a natter. One of them said we didn’t need masks because there was nobody in, and to ask him if there was anything he could help with. Scamp told him what she was looking for and long story short, ten minutes later she was walking out with a pair of leather walking boots. Remember the name Mad About Mountains and give it wide berth. Head for Eden Outdoors instead. They sell their boots in pairs!

In the evening we went for a walk, going left after leaving the house, just to try out the new boots. Apparently the boots are fine for space, not cramping Scamp’s dainty toesies, but the collar at the ankle is pressing a bit tight. Not enough to be a problem, just an inconvenience. “They’re fine!” was her comment. Tonight Jamie and Sim were cooking Naked Fish and Carrot Chips, one of their specialities. We were agreed that this was the best version yet.

PoD was a shot of an old tractor Murdo would have been proud of.

Watched the first part of a Silent Witness. It seemed a bit more interesting than the last one we saw.

Tomorrow we may go for a longer walk and try out these new boots.

 

Climbing and Flying – 1 September 2021

The assault on Croy Hill, the reverse direction.

Scamp suggested we go and visit Silvanus, the Roman warrior’s head that stands on the edge of Croy Hill, and instead of walking the usual path from Croy itself, we could walk along the canal and up on to the old railway line and tackle the hill from the north. It was a beautiful morning with blue skies and sun, so the walk seemed like a good idea, but first I wanted a closer look at a plane.

We’ve seen and heard a Spitfire flying around the town and I wanted a closer look. With that thought in mind we drove up to Wardpark and past the airfield, but saw no evidence of the old warbird. Disappointed I drove over to Kilsyth and from there to Auchinstarry where we parked and put on sensible walking boots for the walk.

I’d forgotten just how steep the climb was from the canal up to the old mineral line, but thankfully once we had reached that path, most of the hard work was done and we were on level ground for a stretch. The statue of Silvanus was much further along than we remembered, but as we were walking I could hear the sound of the Spitfire’s Merlin engines although I couldn’t see the plane itself. I checked with Flightradar24 and found that the plane was almost over Carron Reservoir, about 5 miles away. The sound of the plane faded as it dropped behind the hills. We walked on and as we neared the statue we could hear it returning. This time, with the help of Flightradar I found it heading straight for us. I took a few photos of it before it banked and overflew the airfield before climbing and performing a neat slow roll. Then it turned and headed back with flaps and undercarriage down. A few more photos before it disappeared over the hill to the airfield. I wasn’t sure I’d captured it, but at least it was better than nothing. A little bit of research at home led me to its website. You can book a flight in this two seater Spitfire. £3,000 will get you a 30 min flight in this old lady, which is five years older than me. I may have to save my pennies for a long time before I book that flight!

We met a bloke at the statue who was a Kilsyth local and was impressed that he’d ID’d the Spitfire. He wasn’t a fan of the Silvanus head, but like us was pleased that it hadn’t been vandalised in the time it had been up on the hill. We said our goodbyes and headed up over the hill while he seemed to take a lower path. I must admit I was wary of the hill because we’d passed notices to say that the cattle were back on the hill for the winter. These cattle are big brutes, if I remember right and I don’t like cattle at the best of times. “The best of times “ being when there’s a fence between them and me. There are no fences on Croy Hill. However we didn’t meet any today and we took the ‘easier’ paths where they were available, missing out the tourist routes over the tops.

When we had passed the top and were coming down the other side I realises Scamp wasn’t behind me. I walked back, expecting to find her having a seat somewhere. She was nowhere to be seen. I shouted for her, twice, but no response. I changed to a wider path that was closer to the edge and there she was. Did she not hear me shouting? Yes, she had. That could have been a time to pick up a ‘black monkey’, but for some reason I didn’t lose it. I think I was just glad to see she hadn’t come to any harm. She said she was on the right path and knew I’d eventually realise I was on the wrong one. That could be the story of my life!

When we got back to the car it was absolutely boiling inside. Drove home with the air con on full. It was lovely.

I spent the afternoon cleaning the sensors of the two Sonys. They seem to be absolute dust magnets. They are a bit cleaner now. Not perfect, but a lot better than they were. After that I got a request from Jamie to fix a photo for Sim. It was a fairly easy bit of editing, made even easier by the new Photoshop. Scamp was cleaning up the leaves in the back garden and managed to scrape both arms raking leaves from under the blackcurrant bush. Then it was Guinness and Pimms time in the garden, in the sun.

Fish & Fried Potatoes with tomatoes for dinner. A new twist on Fish & Chips. After that we sat in the garden while I listened to the end of my Alan Parks book, Bobby March Will Live Forever. Good story with a poor reader. It was there I got PoD. I was looking at a wee single sweet pea flower backlit by the setting sun. It took a wee bit of editing to get it looking like my eyes saw it, but that’s what Lightroom excels at.

A quick practise tonight. Just about half an hour at the most, but we covered Tango, Waltz, Cha Cha and Bossa Nova in that time.

Tomorrow Scamp is intending to go for lunch with Isobel, June and Ian. I’m hopefully meeting Val for coffee in a different place, but at almost at the same time. Scamp and I will be able to compare and contrast our experiences!

Out early again – 30 August 2021

It’s becoming a habit, this up and out early.

The reason for today’s early rise was to take the Blue Micra to Stirling for its first service. I’ve not been too impressed with their service in the past, but was willing to give them another chance, better the devil you know … We were there early and sat for five minutes or so before we went in to hand over the keys. Once we’d signed the car over to their safe keeping we were told it would be ready “mid afternoon”. Hmm, obviously they hadn’t read the email they sent us telling us it would be ready by 12.30pm which is hardly mid afternoon. To give the young service assistant his due, he consulted with one of the more senior assistants and came back to say they could indeed have the car ready for 12.30pm. I handed over the keys and we left to find a bus to take us to Stirling itself, the dealership being on the outskirts of the city of Stirling.

Basically, we’d missed the bus and there wasn’t another one for 30 minutes. Mr Google said it would take us 20 minutes to walk into the city centre. This is beginning to sound a bit silly. Stirling is legally a City, but in reality it’s a big town with ideas above its station. From now on in today’s blog, it’s a town, with a town centre. Right? Good, let’s get on.

Mr Google was right on the money. Twenty minutes later we were walking into the town centre. We were going to got to Nero for a morning coffee, except the shop was experiencing a bit of a coffee rush and was queued out the door, so we went to a wee independent we’d been to before. It sold decent coffee and probably had cakes too.

While Scamp secured us a seat, I ordered two coffees and the slice of cake that Scamp had pointed to and watched the bloke at the counter note them down on his pad using a kind of shorthand. However when I chose an Eiffel Tower (two layers of sponge with cream in the middle and the whole thing covered with strawberry jelly and desiccated coconut) I noticed he spelled Eiffel with an “A” maybe it wasn’t an A at all, maybe it was a little drawing of an Eiffel Tower. Whatever, the coffee was weak, but the ET was excellent and he’d given me something to think about that would stay with me all day!

We walked round the Thistle Centre which used to be a thriving arcade with no empty shop fronts. Now there seemed to me more boarded up ex-shops than those open for business. It’s a terrible sight that’s becoming more and more common these days.

The garage phoned at about 11.30 to say that the car was ready to collect. We walked back the same way we’d come and picked up the keys, collected the paperwork and paid for an hour’s work, and drove home.

After lunch Scamp cleaned the downstairs toilet and I did the upstairs bathroom. With that done I felt I’d contributed something and went for a walk while she did the ironing. I’m not good at ironing. I put more creases in than I take out. I walked down and round the boardwalk at Broadwood for a change. I saw two ladies seemingly feeding the ducks from the boardwalk and commented on it, but was told they were feeding the fish. Sure enough the little fish were gathering to feed on the fish food they were throwing down to them. Now that’s something I’ve never seen in Cumbersheugh before. I walked round the loch a bit and included them in a photo of the loch.

No plans for tomorrow. It will be a surprise!

 

Walking through Colzium – 26 August 2021

Another hot day. Maybe a tad cooler than yesterday, thankfully!

The day started with with a call from someone called “Unavailable.” Scamp decide we were too and cancelled the call. Five minutes later we had another call. I was going to answer and do some time wasting with the time waster, but thankfully we have Caller ID. It was Hazy. We had a good long chat about borrowing bikes, families, films to watch and lots, lots more. (Yes, we did watch Anneka, thank you. Interesting first episode. We’ll probably watch more of it.) Enjoyed the chat and catch up.

First thing we’d promised to do was to give all the plants a good feed of seaweed fertiliser. I did the back garden and Scamp did the front. It didn’t take all that long and I’m sure the plants benefitted by it.

We couldn’t decide what to do with the rest of the day and spent far too long discussing what we could do, to actually have the time to do it. What we did do was plan out how to get to the party on Saturday. Imagine, we’re invited to a birthday party on Saturday! Us, the oldies! It was great to be asked and of course we’re going. Now that we know where it is and how to get there. As Hazy reminded us, this is the second birthday party we’ve been invited in two years. Mind you, the first one in Irvine was done “in shifts” as she put it!

We finally agreed on a walk round Colzium. It’s not a long walk and we did an even shorter version of it today, but it’s fairly heavy going for a while with a stiff climb up the hill for the first part, then the easy bit that lulls you into thinking you’re past the worst, then the next bit long drag up to the top. However, the walk down is much more relaxing. I wanted to take some photos of the waterfalls at the top, but when we got there the water was just trickling down. No fun at all. We need more rain now. It didn’t stop me from climbing down the rocks and taking some shots. In the end, I wasn’t happy with them and they didn’t even manage a post in Flickr. The PoD went to a slightly edited version of the view of Granny’s Mutch, a shelter built to enjoy the view at the top of Colzium Estate. The Dictionary of the Scots Language defines a ‘mutch’ as “A head-dress, especially a close-fitting day cap of white linen or muslin, specifically such as used to be worn by married women”.

Walked back down the path on the other side of the burn, hoping there would be an ice cream van at the children’s play park at the bottom, but of course the schools are in here in Scotland so
No Children = No Ice Cream Van = No Ice Cream 😟

Dinner tonight was a stir-fry made, of course by Scamp, the expert Stir Fryer. It was delicious and I made myself a side of fried Padron Peppers, equally delicious.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for one last day of warm sunshine and a chance to go for a drive with a spot of lunch.

Shopping in Stirling – 18 August 2021

We were away for the messages.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Driving, Walking and Raining – 12 August 2021

With a few sunny spells too.

We’ve promised John and Marion that we’ll be at her dad’s funeral tomorrow in High Blantyre at 10am. We were up fairly early today, so we left the house at 9.30am to do a trial run to the crematorium to check out the traffic at about the time we’d leave tomorrow. We arrived almost at 10am, so our intended leaving time of 9.15 tomorrow looked ok.

Instead of coming straight home, Scamp suggested we go to Drumpellier for a walk round the loch. She hasn’t really been out of the house since Monday, so a walk in the park would do her some good, and do me some good too. This is the last week of the school holidays with teachers going back to work today and tomorrow and those lovely children (yes, that was sarcasm!) going back on Monday. There were quite a lot of children making the most of their last few days of freedom accompanied by mums, dads, grans and grandpas, all glad to see them going back to school. Add in the usual pensioners getting in their daily exercise and you can imagine, it was a busy place.

We walked the usual “travelator” circuit for a bit and then took one of the paths into the woods just to get out of the crowds. We walked through the Peace Garden which was looking a bit sorry for itself with long grass, weeds and overgrown bushes. Such a shame that the council doesn’t do more to keep these places tidy. Yes, I know they are strapped for cash, but it isn’t until you work for a council that you see the money that’s wasted every year. I guarantee there are ways the council could redirect some of that wasted money to make these places look better. However, in doing that, they’d be admitting that the money was wasted in the first place, so it’s never going to happen.

We left Drumpellier to the mums, dads, grans and grandpas, plus the weans, of course and headed for Morrisons at The Fort. Just messages today. No time for essentials like gin or whisky, so no fun either. From there it was back home.

After lunch I spoke to Fred on the phone for about an hour and heard his news.

Up until then it had been a fairly pleasant day although the clouds were gathering now. I was just putting my jacket on to go for a walk in St Mo’s when the rain started and it was heavy rain. The shower lasted about half an hour before it dwindled away to just the occasional spits and spots. I took that as a sign that I’d get a second walk of the day. I was walking over to St Mo’s when I saw a woman waking her dog on the footpath through the trees. Once I’d retrieved the Wee Dog from my rucksack and focused I had a chance to get three decent shots. In one of them the woman was standing in a patch of sunlight. That became PoD. A bit of ‘shopping’ to get it from the raw image to the one you see here.

Some recipes are fickle. You make one mistake and the whole thing turns to a tasteless mush, or a bitter inedible mess. Carrot and Lentil Curry isn’t like that. I used the wrong seeds. Should have been fennel and I used cumin. I used double the amount of lentils. I missed out the garlic that should have gone in. I even allowed it to burn dry. However, it turned out really alright! In fact it tasted better than alright and that wasn’t just my description, Scamp agreed. That’s a good standby recipe, one you can work with.

Quick dance practise tonight because I really need to concentrate a lot more on steps and frame and a hundred and one other things. Tina Tango was looking better after some help from dance maestro Scamp.

Tomorrow a funeral in the morning and then the rest of the day will, hopefully, be our own.

Going to the dancing – 7 August 2021

At 10.45am!

Ballroom dancing class in Johnstone, the posh end of Paisley. The class started with a fairly relaxed Tina Tango just to get us going, then we segued into the Foxtrot which we made a decent enough job of, we thought. We got round the floor without too many mistakes and increased our confidence in dancing around people. I picked up a couple of tips from Stewart about posture and its benefits and also how to better direct my partner by using my hand on her shoulder blade. Jane ironed out a flaw in Scamp’s Heel Turn that had been bothering her. Finished off with a Rumba One.

Next was the Sweetheart Cha Cha, the one we’ve been trying to get to grips with this week. It was much better than last week’s disaster. We’ve managed the first part of it (the Front End). The Back End is still a mystery to me, but Scamp will sort it out. We also filmed some of the demos the teachers did and we can work with them once we slow them down and cut them into manageable chunks.

We had a bit of rain going to the class and a heavier bit coming home. The road was really busy coming home. We just dumped our stuff and headed off again, this time to Stirling to go to Waitrose. We got a fair amount of things. Mainly things you can’t get in Tesco or Morrisons. I got a couple of lamb chops that are earmarked for dinner tomorrow and Scamp got some fish, also probably for tomorrow. Didn’t go in to Stirling proper, just came home because it looked as if the town was busy.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk in St Mo’s, in the rain. PoD came from there. Dandelion clocks are a bit of a cliché, but if they get wet they hold little beads of rainwater and become a bit bedraggled too which makes them more interesting, I think. There wasn’t much else that came from the walk.

Dinner tonight was a Charlie Bigham Thai Green Curry which was plenty hot and really good. Expensive, but worth it, because it is Saturday and neither of us wanted to cook.

I think I might have pulled a muscle in my arm. I didn’t get much sleep last night and I’ve been dosing myself up with paracetamol all day. I’ve also used some Ralgex tonight. I don’t think it does much good. I’m pretty sure the massaging it in does more to encourage blood flow, but it’s worth trying.

We had some thunder again today and a few heavy rain showers. More of the same predicted for tomorrow, so I doubt if we’ll be going far. Maybe a bit of dance practise.

The singer and the song – 5 August 2021

The singer listened to the backing track and was sold on it immediately.

Veronica listened to the backing track Scamp and I had made and sang along to it. It fitted her vocal range perfectly as Scamp knew it would. The deal was signed and the disks will be in good record shops any time soon, now that I’ve found my CD writer hiding in the bottom drawer of my cupboard. I swear it wasn’t there yesterday.

Next up was to sell one of my rarely used cameras. The GX 80 was a neat little thing, but didn’t quite cut it for me. WEX offered £156 for it, MPB offered £211. That’s quite a markdown from WEX. I might remove them from my Christmas Card list now! Cheek! I’ll sign the deal with MPB tomorrow.

Drove to Tesco later to celebrate by buying myself a bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut and a bunch of flowers for Scamp. When we got back, we found that Stewart had been as good as his word and sent a copy of the video for Sweetheart Cha Cha. It needed a bit of slowing down to appreciate the footwork in this dance. Luckily iMovie was up to the job and we’ve now almost got the first half of the routine. I find it so difficult to work out which foot I’m moving on with these fast latin dances. You don’t have to worry about footwork in Salsa, it’s the arms and the hands that do all the work. After a bit of swearing tonight, I think I’ve worked out where which foot should go, but I have to remember that at present we’re dancing it at half speed. It may take some practise to get us up to full steam ahead!

I went out on a dull afternoon with just the occasional sprinkling of rain. No insect activity apart from busy little bees of various types and colour combinations. PoD went to my favourite seeds, the Cow Parsley seed heads. Second place went to a delicate frilly seed head on a plant in the marshy edge of St Mo’s pond.

Torrential rain promised for tomorrow and the threat of thunderstorms too. We may go out early and hope to miss most of them.

All Aboard the Skylark – 20 July 2021

We were going on a cruise.

Neil drove Hazy and us to Lakeside where we got a boat with about 300 other people for a sail down to Bowness. Originally we’d intended going down to Ambleside, but because the pier is about an hour’s walk from the town, we took the shorter option.

The place was mobbed. Lots of Scottish voices doing their Staycation. We were going to look for Lakeland, but eventually we gave up because it was too far away. About 15 miles too far away.

All the cafés were really busy, but we did manage to grab a table in a Cornish restaurant with easy access for Hazy and very good food. Just toasties, quiche and pasties but all made on the premises.

After lunch we split up Hazy went to Costa for a coffee and Neil went shopping. We wandered round the busy streets and found a Herdy shop where Scamp got a new bone china cup because she hates the thick walled cups in the house. She also bought an umbrella to ward off any rain. Not that it looked like rain would appear from the clear blue sky, but more as a preventative measure. Just as we were leaving the shop, Neil appeared on an errand from Hazy. We agreed to reconvene in Costa. While Scamp was having a latte, I had a Café Freddo (iced cappuccino). It was a delight on such a hot day. Made me think of holidays in far flung foreign climes under a similar blue sky.

After ice creams for all of us, apart from Neil who dropped his ice and was left with the cone(!), we joined the big long snaking queue for the boat back to Lakeside. Halfway down the lake, three Eurofighter Typhoons flew very low overhead as a sendoff. We were impressed by that.  Today’s PoD was the line of rowing boats on the shore of Lake Windermere at Bowness.

I went for a walk later when it was cooler and got some more moody landscapes and also some flower photos.

Scamp was cooking her signature Spicy Chicken tonight and it was a great success, as usual. Made from an old Gary Rhodes recipe. It should have been served with couscous, but she served it with new potatoes and even those who don’t eat potatoes cleared their plates. It was good to be sitting round the table eating and talking together. We should do this more often.

Tomorrow we may stay closer to home because it’s going to be very hot.