Tidying up loose ends – 16 May 2022

Lots of stuff to do yet, but it’s getting clearer what’s needed and what’s not.

It was a wet morning and Scamp was out to Tesco, which gave me a chance to tidy up the back bedroom and clear a space to work on. When she came back the settee was cleared and ready.

To save time we just drove to The Fort. We were parked right next to another blue Micra. Exactly the same model and style. Twins! I wanted a book at Waterstones and she was looking for cards and gift boxes for yesterday’s gifts. I hate that work, ‘gift’. It’s so lacking in definition and emotion. I’d much rather say ‘Prezzy’, but I don’t suppose you can go into a shop and ask “Where do you keep the Prezzy boxes, please?” So that vanilla word, ‘gift’ will have to do. In Waterstones I managed to find both the books I was considering, sitting on the rack next to one another, so I bought both. One with a gift voucher (there’s that word again. I’ll call it a book token next time) and one with real money. The books were “May God Forgive” and “Bad Actors”. Met Scamp on the way back from the book shop and we drove home.

Back home it was lunch time and also time for a couple of chapters in my new Robert Pobi book “Under Pressure”which looks like another page turner. (Hazy, I don’t know if Neil has read this one, it’s the next in the sequence after “City of Windows”. Maybe you could mention to him.) I gave myself a limit of reading until 2.30 and then I had to start sorting things out after. I ended up with the settee covered again with clothes ready to go into cases. After I’d done all I could do, I grabbed a camera and two lenses and walked over to St Mo’s, hoping for some damselflies again, but there were none. The rain from the morning had disappeared and it was actually quite warm. Much warmer that the 10ºc we had going in to The Fort. I did find a big spider tending its web just by the side of the boardwalk and it became PoD. Not much light though, because those heavy rain bearing clouds were still hung overhead, so I took that as a sign to take my lucky spider shots and go home.

Dinner tonight was a bit of a mix up. Boiled some spaghetti, then cut some shallots and red pepper thin and fried them in some oil before adding some passata. While it was cooking through, griddled some slices of courgettes, aubergines and mushrooms in my ribbed pan. When the pasta was cooked I added it to the sauce and served the veg as a side. It was different and it seemed to work. This chapter is a reminder to me of how I made it.

We had a quick refresher of the “Baby” waltz, the Sweetheart Cha-Cha and the Fishtails from the quickstep.

Tomorrow is the last day of the short salsa class in Bishopbriggs. Who knows what Jamie Gal will throw into the mix!

Me and my big mouth – 29 April 2022

You’d think I’d know by now.

Scamp was supposed to be travelling to St Andrews today for a weekend with The Witches. However the latest plan was for them to travel up together on Saturday, tomorrow. I don’t think she was too impressed with the change.

We drove to Livingston today to the “Designer Outlet” which really means last year’s fashion for cheap as chips prices. Other shops are there too, but basically it’s clothing and shoes that predominate. We split up when we got there. I was looking for a pair of cheap but waterproof trainers, Scamp was looking for another dress for the wedding. Eventually we met up and she showed me a dress that she though would work for one of the weddings. I told her I wasn’t impressed and realised immediately what a faux pas I’d made. I must say in my defence that it was my honest opinion, but I suppose I could have phrased it better. I should know that in a situation like this there is no taking back what you’ve said, but I tried oil on troubled waters, but it didn’t work. The lady was not for turning.

Instead, we went for lunch in Wagamama. Scamp had Chicken Raisukaree which is allegedly a mild curry. A mild curry doesn’t have a full red chilli chopped into it, but this one did. I had Chicken and Prawn Yaki Soba. It was a bit dry, but actually a great mix of textures. I managed to eat all of mine with chopsticks. We had a side of Ebi Katsu, prawns fried in panko breadcrumbs. Always a favourite with us.

I don’t know what magic was in that lunch, but I felt so much better after it. We drove back home to find that the plan for the weekend had changed back to the original and they were travelling up today. They were supposed to meet at Annette’s (Cocktail Witch) at 4pm. The 4pm came and went but still no firm decision, then about an hour later a text arrived to say that Jeanette (can’t remember her Witch name) would pick up Scamp (Musical Witch) in five minutes. Luckily Scamp was already packed, organised and waiting. Right on time, Jeanette arrived and whisked Scamp off to meet up with Annette.

I got a text about an hour later to say they’d arrived. I now have what the kids at school used to call “an empty”, ie, the house to themselves. I took a walk over to St Mo’s with the Sony a7 and the big, heavy 105mm macro lens. I saw my PoD as I was walking over to the park. It was a woman walking along the avenue of trees to the shops. Of course I took more photos, but that was the stand out PoD.

After processing it and consuming a G ’n’ T, I composed this story and am now ready to post it.

Hazy, I’ve just finished Amongst Our Weapons and thoroughly enjoyed it. Although, having seen the actual Beverly Brook, I’m not sure its waters would be pure enough for a Birthing Pool. Since I got the Waterstones version, I get a few more chapters with the ‘free’ short story Miroslav’s Fabulous Hand. I don’t know if you go that.

Jamie. I’m still not completely sold on a bacon and mashed potato pizza, but I’m willing to be converted. Bubblegum ice cream on a waffle, on however is probably a step too far.

I’m off to bed now to decide how to use my free Saturday. It certainly won’t be spent ballroom dancing for an hour and a half!


Going for the messages – 27 April 2022

Scamp wanted messages. I suggested Morrisons at Falkirk. The suggestion was accepted.

We drove to Morrisons and left the car there while we walked back into town to try to find a dress shop called Frox. It didn’t seem to be where Scamp thought it was. What was there, was another dress shop which looked more like a wedding shop to me. Definitely not what she was looking for. Neither was Frox when we did eventually find it. In fact, every second shop in Falkirk town centre seemed to have posh frocks and require you to make an appointment first. We gave up on it for today and went to get the messages in Morrisons – no appointment required!

After we’d loaded the car we went back and had a nice cheap lunch in Morrisons. Roll ’n’ sausage for me, tub of chips for Scamp and two cups of coffee for less than a tenner. That’s good value.

Back home I planted two of our last potatoes in an old compost bag using some soil from the raised bed mixed with some stuff our home composter made. Both lots seemed perfectly useable, but both were very dry. A good soaking with the watering can ensured they’d be damp enough for a few days. Scamp was planting a couple of fuchsias we’d got in Falkirk.

Back home I got dressed for wandering around St Mo’s and took the Sony A7iii with kit lens and a wide angle and got today’s PoD which is a larch pineapple that’s beginning to look more like a pineapple now that its been pollenated and beginning to plump up. It is actually beginning to look like a pine cone now, although it’s a green one at present.

Sat and watched the first episode of Sewing Bee and despaired at some of the work the judges were praising to the highest. I could have done better! Just in case you’re reading this, Jamie, while we were in Morrisons I bought a box of Estrella and we had a bottle while we watched the Sewing Bee. Thanks for introducing me to a nice summer beer.

That was about it for the day. Another beautiful day that took a while to get going, but turned out well.

We’re probably going to meet Crawford & Nancy for lunch at Gouldings garden centre on Clydeside. Scamp wants more plants although she says she doesn’t know what!

A day in the Toon – 26 April 2022

We were off to Glasgow today. Scamp was looking for dresses suitable for a wedding.

We took the bus in to Glasgow. The blue car was needing some petrol and the bus was free. No contest! Started off in JL and while Scamp went in search of a suitable dress, I went looking at the ‘bargains’ in the technology area referred to as The Toy Shop by us. Unfortunately there were no toys at acceptable prices, so I joined a sad looking Scamp. It seemed that all the dresses she liked were designed with giants in mind. Anyone under the height of 6ft had no chance. Never mind, there are other clothes shops in Glasgow. None of them had anything that caught her eye. Either that or they too were catering only to the taller ladies. We eventually gave up and went for lunch.

We couldn’t decide where to go, and then Scamp remembered seeing a new Italian restaurant at George Square. It used to belong to Jamie Oliver before his business empire hit the rocks. It’s called Doppio Malto and is essentially an Italian beer shop that does food. We had a focaccia with rosemary to share as a starter. Not just any focaccia, but the best one we’ve ever tasted, anywhere and that means better than the one I make!!! For a main, Scamp had Paccheri due Pomodori (large tubes with two types of tomato) I had Pappardelle Ragu (wide flat strips of pasta with mince and tomatoes). Mine was lovely, but Scamp’s was definitely undercooked as was borne out by two Italian gents behind me who complained to the owner that it was troppo al dente. Coffee was just managing to creep into the ‘OK’ category. I never got to try the beer because I was driving later today and didn’t want to take any risks with some of the beers reaching 10% strength. The food was overall quite good, but that focaccia was excellent. We’ll come back some day to see just how good their pizzas are.

After that we went for a look in Princes Square, but nothing was working for Scamp today. Finally I suggested House of Fraser or whatever it’s called now and we entered the minotaur’s maze, hoping we’d find our way out again. We found a very helpful assistant in one of the areas. She and Scamp found a few dresses while I went for a walk round this massive store. Eventually I was called back and I think it was five dresses they were down to. They were whittled down to three, then two were chosen. Both of them perfect for tea dances and day to day wear I’m told, but maybe we’re still looking for that other dress suitable for a wedding. We found our way back out of the minotaur’s maze and went home in the bus.

We drove to Bishopbriggs after we’d had a cup of coffee and met Jamie Gal in the parking area of The Fort theatre there. We were to be leaders for a drama group that Jamie is teaching salsa to. Jamie’s partner, Patrick is a member of the drama group and had suggested that Jamie teach them some salsa, just for fun. We both really enjoyed the class, working as leaders. We’ve done it for years when we were in Jamie’s advanced class. It was a mixed ability group of women with Patrick the only man who was learning. Highlight of the night was the line dance at the end, Danza Kuduro. We haven’t done it in years. Great fun. We’re intending to go back next week.

PoD went to a slightly edited photo of 110 Queen Street.  The all glass and steel building across from the GOMA in Glasgow.

That was a good day and the search for the next dress for a wedding continues. Hopefully going for the messages tomorrow.

Recovery – 20 April 2022

Today was a getting back to normal day. Auld Claes and Purrich.

We went for the messages in the morning. Just the usual things and a wander round Tesco with a trolley. Not a lot of fun, but it has to be done.

Later, after lunch, Scamp was working in the garden, cutting the front grass and feeling grateful that we don’t have an enormous lawn, so do not need a petrol driven mower that just runs away with you. I too the Sony over to St Mo’s and set it loose taking photos of the whin bushes that are in full golden bloom just now. Basically that was it for the day. One of the pictures of the whin bushes got PoD.

Tomorrow we may be going dancing in Paisley.

Dancin’ – 9 April 2022

It was back to reality this morning with a bump.

Up fairly early. Washed, shaved, dressed and ready to face the day. Scamp skipped the shaving.

We were off to Brookfield to take a few more faltering steps on the way to being dancers. Today started with a fairly easy Valentino Jive which even Stewart, the teacher, got wrong to start with. We got it right most of the time, especially on the second track. Then we were straight into the Quickstep. As is usual, the teachers walked through the full routine, then danced it through at full speed, to music and we thought No Way! Heavens, there are Fishtails in it. Fishtails have been my nemesis for years now. Even when we tried the first few steps, I was just making things up until we got pulled up for it. We got pulled up quite quickly and it was Stewart who explained in simple terms what we were being asked to do. Could it really be that easy? Well, actually it could. After half an hour I was getting most of the footwork correct. After about forty five minutes I was adding in Fishtails, correctly danced for once. Of course we made mistakes, but not nearly as many as I thought we would. Needs practise, and needs practise in a big room.

Next was a short interlude of Mambo Marina sequence dance before we went back to last week’s Cha-Cha. It’s not quite as bad as it was. We have been practising it at home and I’m beginning to think I might be able to dance this some day. Maybe not some day soon, but some day. The teachers were adding some more advanced steps to fill out the dance, but we didn’t really take much notice. Best to get the basics right before we go on to advanced steps.

Driving home wasn’t as stressful as it was on Thursday, mainly because we didn’t try to cross the Kingston Bridge, but took the M74 instead. It’s a few miles longer, but at least you can travel at the legal limit all the way and not be in a start-stop line of cars with the other lanes always travelling faster than you. We may do that again.

We had picked up a lot of free food at Brookfield with a couple of loafs, half a dozen eggs and some potatoes filling our bags as we left. Such a shame that the food is being thrown away otherwise.

Scamp and I went a walk down to the shops in the afternoon and got a few things, then on the walk back, I took a detour round St Mo’s. Saw a hoverfly, first this year, sitting on some whin bushes. A bright whin flower got PoD, narrowly beating another branch of blossom.

Dinner tonight was provided by Bombay Dreams. We both ate half of our portion, leaving the other half for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.

Got a message from Hazy to say that Neil still wasn’t getting rid of his chest infection and his dad was driving him to A&E. Message later to say that he had had tests done and he is just slowly recovering and there is nothing to worry about, thankfully.

Spent the evening catching up on yesterday’s blog post, but if I get this posted soon I will be all caught up!

With that in mind, I’m off to bed. I might read another chapter of my book James Oswald’s “All That Lives”. It’s a bit formulaic. It feels like he’s in a writing rut. Shame, because his early books were really good.

No plans for tomorrow. Hopefully it will be another beautiful day like today.

Solo – 4 April 2022

Scamp was out driving the Blue car by herself today.

Before that, she drove me up to Tesco partly to get some messages, but also partly to assure herself that she can drive the newer version of her own Red car.

When we returned after the shopping, I took the wheel of the blue car and drove down to the shops were I parked at the far end of the car park and walked over to the repair garage and explained the problem with the red car. The bloke there said it was most likely to be binding breaks or a failing wheel bearing. I have to bring the car down tomorrow and then we’ll find out.

When I got back, and after lunch, Scamp was off again, driving solo this time. She was going to Calders garden centre for coffee and a cake with the now disbanded ‘Gems’. I left before her to post a couple of cards and also to get some photos. It was a fairly dull day with very little directional light, but with the help of the Lensbaby, I did get some useable shots. Not great shot, but useable.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon writing a fairly long email to Alex with some photos to keep his mind of all the things he has to do this coming week. No more word from him about the three generations of the family currently under “doctor’s orders”. No news is good news.

PoD was chosen by Scamp. It’s a wild currant flower. One of loads that are showing over in St Mo’s just now. A picture of a bright yellow whin flower took second place. You may know it as a gorse flower.

We watched the final of this year’s University Challenge and although there wasn’t a Scottish team in the final, at least the winners did have a Scottish captain.

It rained a bit today.  Just soft wetting rain that will refresh the plants in the garden.  More rain is predicted for the next few days and the gardens really need it.  Strange to say that we’re welcoming the rain!

Tomorrow it’s an early rise. The alarm has been set for 7.30am. We’re intending to drive the Red car down to garage and walk back to have an earlier than usual breakfast. Then we may go for coffee with Isobel.

Coffee – 16 March 2022

Yesterday I got a box of coffee. This morning I was drinking it.

Unfortunately it was Costa coffee I was drinking, but the company made up for it. John, Val and I were the trio of Auld Guys today. We just sat and talked for an hour and a half, mainly about folk we knew and worked beside. We also heard about John’s trip to Keswick for Big Ross’s stag party. A relaxed hour and a half for me at least. Eventually we’d talked ourselves out and it was time to go.

I was heading over to Abronhill and Val accepted a lift with me. I think his leg were giving him problems today and he was happy to be driven home on a dull day. I dropped him at his house and headed back to the recycling centre. The reason I was going to Abronhill was to take a DVD player and a bag of other bits and pieces to the skips. For once the recycling centre was fairly quiet and everything got dumped without any problem.

From there I drove up to Fannyside to see if the wee brown ladybird was still there. I though it might have been hibernating, but apparently not, because it was nowhere to be seen. I did find loads of lichen, Stag’s Horn and Cladonia and they kept me busy for a while. Switched to the 18mm wide angle and got some landscapes. Light wasn’t really very good. Quite flat and uninteresting, as were most of the photos. PoD went to a blob of moss with some fruiting bodies on top. Looked like a little green hill.

While I was driving home I got a notion to make Minestrone for dinner. I found the recipe in an old cook book and between us, Scamp and I worked out what we needed to augment the veg we had in the fridge. Then we walked down to the shops and bought just that and nothing that we didn’t need, not even a bottle of gin! We were very good today.

Spent a good hour or so while the soup was simmering away, trying to find a solution to a problem with the 18mm lens. There’s a blue cast at the edges of the frame and although I can fix it quite easily, it shouldn’t be there. After some research, I found out that it’s quite common to have a colour cast on ultra-wide lenses. It’s just something you have to put up with, but there is a fix and it’s built into Lightroom and it’s in the Library module. It’s called ‘Flat-Field Correction’. Google those words and you’ll find directions. Some preparation work needs to be done first before it will work.
Dear readers, that last paragraph was an aide mémoire for me in the future to remind me how to fix the problem of the blue cast.

Hoping to go to see Margie tomorrow and hear more of her madcap stories. I must take my concertina sketch book with me. Other than that, not a lot planned, although weather looks like it’s improving. Sub-zero tonight predicted.

One out, one in – 15 March 2022

DPD were working overtime today.

My Sony A7ii was being collected this morning to go to MPB in Brighton. Later in the day I was expecting a box of coffee and tea from The Bean Shop in Perth. One out, one in.

The DPD man came to collect my camera right on time and off it went with a sticker on it that had the same number as the sticker that’s fixed with a magnet to the fridge door. One down. Not long after I got the message to say that my driver would deliver my parcel just after midday. Sure enough, the bloke knocked the door and photographed me lifting the parcel from the mat. I will drink tea and coffee today!

That left the rest of the day free. It’s a while since we’ve been out for a walk together. Scamp sometimes walks down to the shops herself and I often walk round St Mo’s myself. I suggested to her that maybe we should both go out together today. Just a walk round Broadwood Loch. She agreed and we walked down towards the loch, but she wasn’t interested in doing the round trip, so we chose the shorter version, over the plastic boardwalk and down round the new water management drainage ditch (first time we’ve been round that) and then round the exercise machines before stopping at the shops for oranges and milk. I did think of going for a circuit of St Mo’s pond, but decided just to go home as I’d a few shots that looked interesting.

Dinner tonight was Creamy Chicken, Mushrooms and Rice. Another Scamp favourite. She thought it needed salt and pepper. I agreed on the salt. It was actually fine without it, but the salt just gave it a bit more taste.

Heard the news from Nick the Chick that we have to wear face masks in shops and on public transport until the beginning of April. A bit disappointing, but that’s just the way her head works. Belts & Braces are her style and you have to believe she’s doing it for the good of our health, rather than to look good to the great unwashed as some other politicians do.

We had a quick practise at the new waltz and I think I can tentatively say that I can complete the first section without too many mistakes. I’m not sure I’ll be able to say that again tomorrow, but maybe the dancing gods will look down and smile at my attempts.

PoD turned out to be a shot I took with the A6000 from the boardwalk. Actually, it’s gone through a fair number of changes since it landed on Lightroom this afternoon. A lot of changes, but for the better.

It’s my turn to go for coffee tomorrow. Meeting John and Val at Costa in the morning. The rest of the day is our own.


Going for the messages – 9 March 2022

Some days are filled with sunshine.  Other days are dull.  Today was dull and the highlight was going for the messages.

Scamp drove us to The Fort today, or to be more precise, she drove us to Morrisons at The Fort.  We needed some messages and it was a dull day.  Also the wee Red car needed a run to charge its battery and to get its wheels moving again.  Scamp doesn’t like the twisty roads I drive on to The Fort and also there were roadworks on part of that route that were predicted to last for months and months, so we went by an alternative route.  It took us through Stepps, Ruchazie, Garthamlock and finally Provanhall, not Easterhouse, Provanhall.  There is a difference. I admit I was lost for most of the journey after Stepps.  There page markers had nearly all disappeared.  Where was the Golfers Rest?  Where was the bit of the canal that used to run parallel to the road. The Monkland Canal.  Gone was the answer.  Then as Scamp recited the names of places as we drove past, bits of it came back.  All things change.

We missed a turning at The Fort and drove on to Morrisons.  The order we visited them in was unimportant.  We bought some messages, but the main thing that Scamp had come for Branston Fruity Sauce was unavailable.  It wasn’t until we came home and I did a bit of internet digging that we discovered that Rich and Fruity Sauce, had been added to the list of over 400 products have been recalled after they were found to contain the carcinogen Sudan 1.  This was a bit surprising and worrying as the recall happened in 2005 and we still have an ‘in date’ bottle of the sauce in the cupboard!  I blame Brexit.

On the way back we did stop at The Fort.  Scamp wanted to go to M&S and I wanted to look for a book in Waterstones.  Both of us came back empty handed.  Scamp couldn’t find anything that suited her and I refused to pay £16 for a book I could get for £9 in Amazon.  She drove us home and I managed to find some of the places that I’d lost on the way in, or to be more correct I managed to find a school where the Golfers Rest used to be and a motorway slip road that was the Monkland Canal.

In the morning I found today’s photo in the bathroom.  It’s a close up of Scamp’s swimming goggles that she wears to prevent soap from getting in her eyes when she’s washing her hair.  I liked the water droplets on the goggles and the shine on the chrome tap.  There’s a group on Flickr where some of my photos land, called The Monochrome Mind.  For the first time in ages, I saw this photo in Black & White, not colour.  It went in to that group today.  A wee abstract for a change.

We had fish ’n’ chips tonight for dinner.  Smoked haddock and chips to be more precise.  Best bit of fish I’ve had for ages.  Beautifully cooked by Scamp.

Tomorrow it’s sequins and dance shoes.  We’re hoping to go to a tea dance in Paisley.