We went for the messages – 22 October 2021

We drove to The Fort for messages and for lunch, after a technology breakdown.

I wanted to see if my covid vaccination status had been updated, but the app wouldn’t work. It simply refused to accept my password. I finally gave up and uninstalled it, then reinstalled it and started fresh. When it asked me to scan my driver’s license I realised what was going on. People in Scotland had been reported as getting in to a nightclub, then passing their phone back to one of their pals. That allowed them to get in with an other person’s phone. The problem was there was no biometrics check on the app. Now there is. It took me two tries before I could get the thing to work, then it crashed just before the final stage. After the first two failed attempts I had to go right back to the start and go through everything again. On my last try at a restart it just took me through all the screens without having to do anything. No license scan, no facial recognition scan, just a QR code. Of course, Scamp got right through first time! Now we’ll be able to get into a nightclub!

With our new covid passport, Scamp went looking for towels, a house warming present for Shona, in M&S and I went looking for my next book in Waterstones, but found none that interested me. Then I went to Boots to get fine tweezers. Just the thing for picking off nasty little ticks. The first pair I saw were £23. I was thinking more about £2 or 3. I found a pair, thankfully, for £2. Then I saw a sign of the times. The bloke at the set of Pay Here cubicles asked if I wanted to pay cash or card. I had enough ready cash in my pocket to cover the cost of the tweezers, so I said cash. He pointed to one cubicle at the corner and said “Wait until that one is clear.” There was one cubicle for pay cash, the other five or six were card only. I swiftly changed my mind and paid by card. It cost ME the same amount of money, but I’m sure Boots got less from me once the card company’s share of my £2 had been deducted. The shape of things to come.

Met Scamp and we went to Wagamama for lunch. Checked in (will we always have to do that from now on?) Ordered shirodashi ramen (pork belly) for me and shu’s ‘shiok’ chicken (curry) for Scamp with a couple of sides. Ebi katsu (prawns in crispy panko breadcrumbs) and Vegetable Tempura. Scamp’s main was only just warm, but was replaced without question. Mine was very spicy hot, but tolerable. The Ebi katsu was lovely as usual but the tempura was far too oily. Not Wagamama’s best day.

We went to Morrisons for the messages and bought a fair amount of stuff, then drove to to Hobbycraft. Scamp was looking for ring moulds, but they didn’t have any. I was looking for a paintbrush, but they didn’t have the one I wanted. We drove home.

After a while I put on my boots and went for a walk in St Mo’s to see what I could find. PoD went to a golden leaf. Not real gold, just gold leaf 😂🤣. Sketch for today was ‘Open’. My thinking was the door to a shop that is open, but the restrictions on entry mean it’s closed. I liked it although the sketching and painting were rubbish.

We’re having John and Marion over for dinner tomorrow, so tonight we started our prep. My soup didn’t quite hit the mark, so I’ll have a rethink for tomorrow, but Scamp’s main is looking good.

Tomorrow will be busy. Work will hopefully start before we go out to Bridge of Weir for dance class.

Somewhere we hadn’t been for a while – 29 September 2021

That was what I said yesterday and that’s where we went today.

We left early and drove by M80, M8, M77 then off the motorway on to Nitshill Road to Rouken Glen.

We parked and went for a walk, but half the park seemed to be cordoned off with great barriers either being put up or taken down, it wasn’t clear until we read a notice that Boy George, Nile Rodgers and some other has-been pop stars had been performing at the park at the weekend. It even gave a timescale for the removal of the stages and the barriers. Now we understood why there was a covid rapid testing bus just outside the car park. Oh well, at least we didn’t come on Saturday and have to endure that noise!

We found or way around to the Meadows which is really just a big park with rough cut grass and some craggy boulders. Wild but in a ‘contained’ way. It’s always good to find a path you haven’t been on before and that’s what we found. The path took us around the perimeter of the park on the border between park and golf course. I found a few chessies that I’ll plant in a pot full of dry compost and leave them to overwinter in the greenhouse. By the spring they should hopefully be ready to plant out properly and hopefully some of Glasgow will grow in Cumbersheugh.

The path didn’t look as if it was taking us anywhere interesting, so we took a side path, there are lots of side paths to explore. Our path took us beside a burn and eventually brought us out at the waterfall. The water from the falls drops about five or six meters and flows out through a bridge under the path. The bridge had been plagued by padlocks for years, but was now clear with signs warning that padlocks would be removed and destroyed. However, the thoughtful council had built a “Padlock Wall” for people to put the locks on and still display their everlasting love for all to see. There must have been hundreds, if not thousands of padlocks of all shapes, sizes and colours. That photo made PoD.

Further on we found the boating pond with the Boathouse Cafe on the far side. That was our lunch venue. Two Fish Finger Sandwiches, one each. And there was that strange warning that they had no machine coffee, only filter! Why are coffee machines breaking down everywhere? I think the real reason is that you put a fair few spoonfuls of coffee into a filter machine fill it up with water and set it going. You can get a three or four times more cups of dodgy filter coffee from the the same amount of coffee beans that would produce one cup of barista produced espresso. It’s a fiddle and I blame Brexit.

After lunch with tea to wash the sandwiches down, we headed back to the car via the “Garden Centre” which was already “Beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. Heavens, we’ve not even had Halloween yet. In fact it’s only September!

Back home I took the bull by the horns and phoned EE. Was offered 2GB data for £9. Told them I could do better with Tesco. I got the usual spiel about Tesco being a supermarket and so on. He asked me what the Tesco deal was and when I told him he said he could better that. Long story short, I got a 12month contract for 11GB for £10, plus unlimited text and calls. Thought about it for a while then phoned back and sealed the deal. I could probably have held out for more, but why? I’ve not really had much bother with EE and I don’t need the faff of moving my number. Happy Bunny.

Scamp had closed one of our dormant bank accounts yesterday and in doing so lost her breakdown cover. Tonight she booked and 18 month cover with RAC. Cheaper than AA and not the same strings attached as with some of the cheaper companies. Happy Bunny.

Tomorrow we’re both intending to go out for coffee at Costa. Scamp with Isobel and me with Val. Parcel due for me from DPD tomorrow too. Hope it doesn’t clash, with the coffee and hope they actually have coffee!

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.

An afternoon in the country – 17 August 2021

The morning was work. The afternoon was photography.

Scamp was off to have coffee with Isobel in the morning and I was left to my own devices. First thing to do was to investigate the leaking shower cabinet. It turned out to be a leak in two corners. One tiny little drip and one a bit bigger. Both were being caused by mould growth in the sealant between the glass and the ceramic base of the shower. Half an hour of poking and prodding with a wee round pointed device whose original purpose was to score cardboard teased most of the gunge out and allowed me to start to dry the offending parts. Left them to dry out properly by themselves and started the second, and bigger, task.

The top of the chest of drawers in my room has not seen the light of day for about a year. Today I was set to remedy that. I had a big IKEA bag ready to hold the stuff that was going to the skips, that meant most of it. Some things I didn’t really want to chuck away, but I had to ask myself if I was ever likely to use it again and if I wasn’t, was I emotionally attached to it. If the answer to either of those questions was YES, then it got to stay for six months. If the answer to both question NO, then it was going to the skip, via the IKEA bag. Some things even got he heave after failing only one test. Sometimes you have to be ruthless. As the bag got fuller and fuller, the top of the chest of drawers magically appeared.

After Scamp came back and we had lunch, I took all the stuff in the car to the skips. Heavens, Jamie, you’re not going to believe this, but I even parted with a camera. A working camera! I won’t list all that went to landfill, but there was a a lot. With the boot of the car empty I could go to B&Q to get a tube of sealant for the shower, and have somewhere to put it. Next stop was Screwfix for a Hive plug socket. The number of times I’ve left the house and driven to the bottom of the road wondering if I’ve left the phone charger or some other piece of dodgy equipment switched on. Now I can check on my phone if it’s on and with a touch of the screen, turn it off. Hopefully it will be worth the money in peace of mind. Two things in the boot. Time for some photo opportunities.

Drove up to Fannyside Moor and found an old fencepost strapped to its new replacement with its great collection of mosses and lichen. It looked like a little garden, although one comment on Flickr likened it to a “micro rainforest”. I understand what he meant. It got PoD. Found a little wee ladybird with sixteen spots. Dark red wing covers and white spots. It’s a Cream-spot Ladybird (Calvia quattuordecimguttata) and it’s not very rare.

Back home, Scamp made Sea Bass with asparagus and home grown Potatoes. Absolutely brilliant. Later we had a quick practise of the final parts of the Foxtrot we’ve been learning. I say ’final’, but it’s likely the teachers will add another two or three little bits to the end of the routine.

No plans for tomorrow, although a trip out for ‘the messages’ is not out of the question.

Recording Studio – 4 August 2021

Scamp did the clever music stuff, I was just the techy.

First there were messages to do, but I wasn’t needed for that, so I kept a low profile and allowed Scamp to do the donkey work. Just to show that I wasn’t shirking the work entirely, I removed the fairy lights from the back fence. I could just have cut the wires and ripped them all down, but I wanted to find out what was causing them to fail. I think it might be bird damage. The wee birds trot happily along the fence looking for beasties to eat. I think one or more of them have pecked through the wire. I was just finishing when Scamp appeared with the shopping.

Just before lunch we started to look at setting up the recording studio. Scamp had been asked if she could play a piece of music on her piano and put it onto CD, so Veronica could play the CD and sing to it at her daughter’s wedding. We could do this between us, we’ve done it before, but first we’d to work out how we managed it the last time. We started off with Scamp’s Windows laptop. I got Audacity, an excellent free music editing app, downloaded and running. As far as I could remember the procedure was to get a line out from the piano, plug it in to the headphone socket of the laptop and fool the laptop into using it as an input. Windows didn’t like that and refused to work with us. I then tried my new Apple laptop, with the same lack of success. We adjourned for lunch and a think.

I tried doing the same thing with my old Apple laptop and got a bit further, but still no real success. Finally, after reading a couple of explanations on the Net I worked out how it was done, on a Mac at least. We managed to get the track recorded from the piano and into the computer, but there is a dodgy key on the piano which plays a rough note, that’s the only way I can describe it. It just sounds rough. I went for a walk! I got PoD which is a bunch of Forget Me Nots in a lovely little bit of sunshine. I came back with an elegant solution.

Could she, I asked Scamp, play the tune in a different key which wouldn’t use the dodgy piano key? Then we could record it and get a clean result and using Audacity, change the key to make it sound like a clean version of the original. “Yes” was the answer once she’d worked out what I had in my head. While she set about transposing the music in her head, I made the dinner which was Prawn & Pea Risotto with our own peas. Pods in the stock and peas in the pot! It was really quite good, augmented with some frozen peas.

Back in the studio we were good to go. We recoded the music without a problem. Re-transposed it electronically in the laptop and then looked around for the CD burner. We’re still looking! It must be in the house and I think we both looked everywhere it could be but it’s still hiding. My inelegant solution was to copy the MP3 Audacity created on to a memory stick and plug it into my old Toshiba laptop running Windows 7. After a struggle we finally got it to burn the CD using Windows Media Player. Ancient technology. We played the track on the CD player and it sounded perfect. So here’s the pathway to our success.

Fairly new HP laptop – couldn’t record
Almost new Apple laptop – couldn’t record
Old Apple laptop – could record, but couldn’t burn CD
Old Tosh laptop – managed to burn the CD.

I hope Veronica likes the track and doesn’t decide she’ll sing a different song. I don’t know how these bands manage to record albums. I’m presuming they have a few old Mac laptops lying around to record the tracks and a couple of 20 year old Tosh laptops to burn the demo CDs.

That was our day. Just a musical extravaganza. It looks like rain tomorrow, so I don’t expect we’ll be going far.

“I have seen the future …” – 3 August 2021

“… and it works.” Reputed to be the words of Lincoln Austin Steffens after he had visited Russia in 1919 and had seen the new Soviet society in operation.

We did travel east today, but not as far as Russia. We went to Embra. We wanted to ‘expand our boundaries’, travel on public transport and live like ‘ordinary’ people. We survived the adventure. One of the places I wanted to see was the new St James Quarter with its roof that isn’t really a roof and its multi-storey shopping extravaganza. But first we had to get off the train at Haymarket, walk through Ladyfield (where today’s PoD came from) to Cafe Nero on Lothian Road, because that’s what we used to do when the world was a different place. The last time we were in Embra was in January 2020, by the way!

After the coffee and feeling suitably refreshed we walked round past the Usher hall and up on to the Grassmarket. Strange to see it without any stalls but with cars and buses driving past. Lots of tables set out where the stalls usually are, so the cafés and restaurants were in business. From there up the hill and round to cross the Royal Mile, then down The Mound (not the pile of turf beside Marble Arch, but the real Mound) to Princes Street Gardens. On that walk I got this shot of an old joke. Scrawled on a sign beside some scaffolding. It made me smile. Back at the stroll through Embra, we walked through the gardens and finally reached The St James Quarter which is quite impressive on a first viewing. But anything would be impressive compared to the old St James Centre which always looked like it was based on the design for Cumbernauld Town Centre. Yes, that bad!

We had a wander through one of the levels, marvelling at the amount of shops some with names we’d never seen before. Some with names we’d seen in foreign climes. Some we feel sure will last 6 months and then be replaced with shops that people will actually buy stuff from. I wanted to have a look at the ‘toys’ in JL, the new six storey JL. Why do they put the best stuff on the top level? I saw, what might be, my next camera. One version up from what I have now, but light years ahead in tech. I did say at the start “I have seen the future …”. Scamp wandered round the lower levels but didn’t buy. However she gave an ultimatum that she was looking for a new dress. I got the impression that the shortlist has already been written.

We exited the bit glitzy glass building and found our where we were. We were heading for Valvona & Corolla, only to find that it’s not there any more. We were definitely in the right place, but it wasn’t! We walk on along Rose Street to find our second choice, but it was closed. At least it was still there. Eventually we gave up and walked back up the Grassmarket and waited five minutes at Petit Paris for an outside table, because it was still a lovely, fairly warm day. Scamp had Salmon Rillette followed by fish of the day, Coley with a Basil Sauce served with mash. I had Countryside Terrine followed by Chicken Supreme with Forestière sauce, and Hazy, we hadn’t brought the voucher, but we asked if it was still valid and the reply was “Of course! Bring it next time.” Lesser restaurants would just have said no, but the trio of French blokes are better than that. We’ll know for next time.

We retraced our steps from the morning and after almost exhausting ourselves climbing about a million steps to get up from the low Kings Stables Road to the Castle Terrace, then marching down Morrison Street we managed to catch the train home with a couple of minutes to spare.

A great day. It was almost like it was before the world turned upside down.

Two days of eating out. We need to get back to cooking and eating our own food tomorrow! We might even get some rain.

Electricity is wonderful – 26 July 2021

It was all over so quickly.

We’d expected to be without power for all morning and possibly for most of the day, however it took the electrician about half an hour to diagnose the problem and solve it. In the end it had been a fault between the old unused socket behind the washing machine and a wall socket near the sink. He still didn’t quite explain what he did, but all the sockets are now working and even the one behind the washing machine is safe although I don’t think we’ll ever use it again, just in case. There was one more problem to fix and that was getting money out of a cash machine to pay for the repair. Scamp had to try three different machines before she could get them to hand over the money, our money! That’s the thing about banks, they think because we give them our money to look after, that they get to keep it. That’s not how it works, they only get to play with it. They have to give it back when we need it. Anyway, she did, finally get the cash machine to give us some of our money and we gave it to the electrician. Paid in full and now we can use all the electricity we want.

After I’d put the washing machine and the dishwasher back in place and made sure they were working and the water had been switched on again, we had lunch. Then I grabbed the Sony and drove up to Fannyside and walked along the road to look for dragonflies, but found none. I did find a lot of white butterflies. Not Cabbage Whites as I thought, but Green Veined Whites apparently, according to Mr Google. They didn’t make PoD, a strip of moss fruiting bodies got that accolade. Actually it was growing vertically, but I turned it through 90º and it looked better.

While I was at Fannyside I was interrogated by an old bloke who was taking his equally old pal for a drive round the Arns/Fannyside circuit. He kept calling me “Son”, which I thought was quite funny as he wasn’t that much older than me!

Tomorrow we might just was some dishes in the dishwasher and wash some clothes in the washing machine, just because we can!

A day of preparation – 25 July 2021

Preparation for the arrival of the electrician on Monday.

A lazy start to the day, but then the man arrived to collect some snot and some saliva. He also asked us a lot of searching questions about our habits in the past 28 days. We answered truthfully that there had been someone in our house and we’d been in someone else’s house. We also admitted to a lot of hugging and stuff with other households. Written that way it all seems a bit decadent, but some of the folk who read these blogs know exactly what was going on! The man seemed satisfied with the answers and took our samples of bodily fluids away to be tested.

With that done, and after lunch, Scamp started clearing out cupboards to allow the electrician access to the power sockets. Meanwhile I went for a walk in St Mo’s and found a PoD in an Emerald damselfly. When I returned it was my turn to go to work, hauling out, first the dishwasher and then the beast of a washing machine. It was the hardest to manoeuvre out of its cave below the draining board of the sink, but finally it was clear of the space and the the suspect power socket was revealed. The kitchen was a mess, but at least the electrician could get to work quickly tomorrow.

Spoke to JIC and heard about the latest news from down south. Good to hear that things are finally moving there.

There wasn’t much more to say about this day, so I won’t say it.

Tomorrow another man will come and hopefully he will restore us to full electrical capabilities.

Keeping Time – 30 June 2021

You have to watch what you’re doing all the time these days.

Scamp thought she’d nicked her ankle on a thorn yesterday on our walk through the Drumpellier woods, but this morning it looked more like a bite. It didn’t prevent her from going for a walk with Veronica, but when she came back she was sure it was a bite and Veronica who’s a retired nurse agreed that she should have it looked at.

We drove up to Boots and the pharmacist agreed that she would be best with a course of penicillin, just in case. Because she was such a brave girl, she go to sit with her legs up in the sunshine in the garden while the waiter brought her a glass of her new Bramble & Raspberry Gin ’n’ Tonic.

I have been complaining loud and continuously about my Fitbit’s screen being unreadable in bright daylight, let alone sunlight. I’ve been looking for a smart watch for a few weeks and at the weekend I found what I was looking for. Checked it out in Which and read reviews. It’s a Huawei GT2e and yes, I realise it will send all my details to China. The spy satellites will be focusing on my every move. I bought it from Argos who also will have all my details and if they ever get a satellite, I’m sure it will be following me too. As will Currys and JL. I didn’t know I was so popular! Anyway, the watch looks as if it will do everything I want it to and then some. Best of all, it tells the time in bright sunlight!

I know it tells the time in bright light because I took it our for a play test in St Mo’s once I’d finally discovered how to pair it with my phone. My lens of choice was the kit lens for the Sony. I though it was excellent when I got the camera, but now I’m beginning to see why my brother favours prime lenses. Nothing to do with Amazon, a prime lens is a fixed focal length, or to put it another way, it’s not a zoom. Zoom lenses are a compromise. They are Jack of all focal lengths and master of none. Primes only have one focal length, but they usually are much better at that one. On my visit to Argos at The Fort, I took my 18mm ultra-wide prime lens and got a few shots (5 shots, all keepers). This afternoon I got fewer ‘keepers’ from more shots taken(10 shots taken, 4 keepers). Sometimes less is more. It was one of the shots taken with the 18mm lens that got PoD, Johnston Loch with the fishers just visible in their rowing boats.

A short but quite accurate dance practise tonight.  Just  the new Queen of Hearts Rumba (Where do they get these names?) and the Foxtrot routine.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go looking for flowers for one of Scamp’s elevated flower displays if her leg is up to walking.


Driving and meeting old friends – 22 May 2021

We couldn’t decide what to do today. We did think about going up the east coast to Kirkcaldy, but then thought better of it because today was a Saturday it would be busy. Instead we waited for the postman.

The postman brought a big parcel for Scamp. She already knew it was coming so it was not a big surprise. Inside was a long green box with a recipe and ingredients to make a cake. JIC gave me the present of a bread making subscription for Christmas. It’s been great, encouraging me to bake breads I’d never have tried otherwise. Scamp’s green box contained a similar thing, but for cakes instead. I did think, after I bought it, that it was a bit cheeky, sending a brilliant baker like Scamp a baking kit, but I’m hoping that, like me she’ll discover interesting cakes to bake. Ones she’d never have considered without that little push. Also, hopefully, I get to taste the results!

With the parcel opened and the on-line signing up done we set off for Bishopbriggs to get another USB drive to back up my photos on. It’s part of my complicated back up regime for ‘easy’ retrieval. It always amazes me that every time I go to buy an external drive I can get twice the storage space for the same price I paid for the last one. It’s something akin to Moore’s Law (Google it).

It was at the retail park that we bumped into Mhairi and Robert who used to go to Salsa with us. We spent a good twenty minutes discussing the effect of the pandemic on small businesses like theirs, some good and some bad. Good to speak to folk we hadn’t seen for a long time, years, in fact.

On the way back we stopped at Lidl in Kirkintilloch, hoping to get a bottle of Hortus Gin. Unfortunately they only had the flavoured varieties and I wanted the plain and simple one. What amazed us when we arrived was the queue to get in to the drive-through at McDonalds. Who, in their right mind, would queue to get a hamburger that’s never seen any ham? Maybe the clue is in that phrase “in their right mind”. How many of them have actually tasted real meat? We drove on to Kilsyth where there were ample supplies of Hortus and no Mickey Ds. Obviously much more sophisticated tastes in Kilsyth

Back home we went for a walk in St Mo’s and just managed a glimpse of the new cygnets. They were off with mum and dad to get some food over in the reeds at the far side of the pond. I’m guessing it was their equivalent of a walk to the shops. I hadn’t really managed a decent shot today, so I bolted on the macro lens and photographed the Strawberries and Cream Aquilegia that sits at the front door. Beautiful flower. Instant PoD.

We had a practise of the Cha Cha tonight. Who knew it was so exhausting? Then to cool down we did a couple of Rumbas. Things fell apart and tempers frayed when we tried the waltz with its Stewart’s clumsy addition of a spin where there shouldn’t be one. We agreed to continue on to the Catherine Waltz. Then to save bloodshed we put the living room back into a living room again rather than a dance floor and a war zone!

Yesterday’s sketch has appeared and its title is Spice Jars. I don’t know where it could have been hiding 😉. Today’s prompt was Dice, so today’s sketch is titled Lucky Sixes!

Tomorrow looks wet. Some baking may be done by one or both of us.