Paisley – 22 April 2022

Met Alex at the bus station in Glasgow and we walked down to Central station where we got the train to Paisley Gilmour Street station.

Ollie got home yesterday and I think the entire family is delighted with his progress. Alex, of course, had photos.

We got out at Paisley and walked through the town, had a bite to eat in Subway then got lost walking the wrong direction but found an old church at the end of a cobbled street at the top of a hill that looked interesting, so photos were taken. Further on another big sandstone church caught our eye and we spent some time there.

My phone was playing silly buggers and wouldn’t connect to the internet, but after a lot of swearing and a restart it was back in business and told me we were heading in exactly the wrong direction. We walked back through the town and passed a trio of blokes who were busking in the street. One of them looked familiar and the name “Rab Noakes” sprung into my head. I checked later and found I was right. I’m guessing he was just doing it for fun.

We manage half an hour in the Abbey and I got a few interesting photos of the stained glass windows, than we walked around and checked out the gargoyles, including the one that looks like the Alien from the movie.

I wanted some photos of Anchor Mill. Scamp and I have passed it many times driving through the town to go to the Paisley tea dance, but never had the time to stop and take some photos. Today was different. Not only had I the time and the company, I also had my ND filters and the attachments they needed to reduce the light getting in to the camera and allow me to use a slow shutter speed. Too much techy nonsense there, but basically I wanted to make the moving water look smooth and smoky. For once it worked a treat.

With that done, we were finished with our stated intentions and headed back to Glasgow on the train.

At St Enoch’s we bumped into Ross Malley and thankfully just missed his sister’s entourage as today was her hen party. I introduced him to Alex, we talked for a while, and then we went our separate ways. Alex and I walked up Bucky Street watched a street entertainer trying to whip up the Glasgow crowd to a frenzy and failing to encourage them to part with their cash for watching him jump through hoops of fire and knives.

We headed for our buses on opposite sides of the bus station and vowed we’d go back to Paisley again soon.

A shared Special fish supper bought on the way back home made a decent Friday night dinner for us. Scamp had been working in the garden and sowing some of the seeds she’d bought in the English garden centre.

The picture of Anchor Mill was PoD.

Tomorrow we’re dancing so we had a quick practise tonight.

Heading South – 14 April 2022

You could say were were in train-ing for a holiday. You could say it, but only if you were into bad puns.

There wasn’t a lot to say about the day:

09:30 Taxi to the station.

09:45 Train to Edinburgh – First Class, of course.

11:00 Train from Edinburgh to Peterborough – First Class again.

14:45 Arrived in Peterborough after a somewhat disappointing lunch. A veg wrap for Scamp and a tub of veg salad for me. We made up for it with alcohol, though!

An hour to hang about in Peterborough station waiting for the next train. There’s not a lot to do in Peterborough station if you’re not a trainspotter, but I did get a photo of Scamp with a <spit> Starbucks latte, or Babychino as she described it.

15:50 Train from Peterborough to Stowmarket.

17:15 Arrived in Stowmarket.

Couldn’t find Simonne who was our chauffeuse for the final leg of the journey. She said she was in the car park, but she must have been lying … or else, there was more than one car park. Aha! There was another car park and there was Simonne! Hooray, we will go to the ‘new’ house!

It was only about a fifteen minute journey to Old Newton. After meeting and being greeted by Vixen, we went on a tour of the house, complete with the 3’-6”high doors. Almost like half a door, given that the width of it was normal. It was just the height that was a bit disconcerting.

When Jamie got home, later, it was too dark to get a tour of the garden. Instead, we had dinner of Thai Fish Cakes, which we’ve never managed to master and then we just sat and talked then watched TV for a triple episode binge of Anatomy of a Scandal which was quite interesting, or maybe we were both just zonked after a day of sitting, eating, drinking and changing trains.

Surprisingly the bed was comfortable and the room was, well, ‘roomy’. The original tenants might have been short, but they certainly liked lots of space. In a 16th century house I was expecting creepy noises in the night, but either the spirits weren’t interested or we were both too tired to be bothered, but we had an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

PoD is a rather scruffy building that used to be part of the station at Stowmarket. It might be a bit of an eyesore now, but if you look at the brickwork you’ll understand the amount of work and skill that went into the building of it.

Tomorrow we would discover the garden.

Well, it is my birthday – 8 April 2022

Today I was in charge, but I was warned it was only for today!

After opening the cards and the parcels and marvelling at the imagination of my family, it was breakfast in bed served on a tray with a carnation in a bud vase!

I suggested we drive to the station and get the train to Glasgow. Scamp agreed, and she drove us to the station. She got a bit flustered getting the tickets and asked the bloke in the ticket office for a return, but didn’t say where to! The standard reply to “where to” is generally “back here of course!” Got the tickets, train arrived and we were soon in Glasgow on a fairly busy train. Just walked across to the underground and got two all day tickets. Scamp got through, but I didn’t. Tried three machines and each one said “Cannot read card”. The way it works on Glasgow subway, your plastic “pensioner’s ticket” gets updated with the amount you want to put on it and becomes like an Oyster card. Except, mine didn’t. The woman at the ticket desk checked it and all was well at her end. Eventually a bloke came, checked my card and buzzed me through with his “Let Me In” gadget.

We took the train to Kelvinbridge were, of course I had to go through the same procedure again. This time it was explained to us that they are having some problems with this method of travel, but only with some (ie the North Lanarkshire) Concession Cards, that’s the posh name for Pensioner’s tickets. He buzzed me through and gave me a paper ticket that would get my back to the rail station. Isn’t it nice when technology just works … until it doesn’t.

We went to La Lanterna – West End. It’s a tiny little Italian restaurant with only about a dozen tables. We’ve been there before and the food was good. It was almost empty and we got a table easily, but only after I’d been reminded by the head waiter to say “Good Afternoon” first. It’s an Italian thing that you have to say “Bonjourno” which means “Good Day”, before you start any conversation or ask a question. I’ll remember next time.

Scamp had Arancini (deep fried rice balls) as a starter and I had a pretty little trio of bruschetta. For a main Scamp had a green pesto risotto with asparagus and broccoli. I had Pollo alla Milanese (Chicken fried in breadcrumbs) with Neapolitan Spaghetti. For once, I was the one having a glass of red wine and Scamp, the driver, had sparkling water.

When we left there we went to check that the old STUC building, where we used to go to salsa classes, was still there. There had been rumours that it was going to be demolished. Apparently not, but it is being turned into student flats. At least the building will be saved.

We walked along Gt Western Road to the Botanic Gardens against a cold westerly wind. We went in to the Kibble Palace which is a beautiful place to wander round and best of all, it’s a giant heated greenhouse that holds lots of exotic plants that need to be kept warm. It was also holding lots of folk sheltering from the icy blast.

Next stop was Waterstones for the new Ben Aaronovitch book “Amongst Our Weapons”. They didn’t have it. It’s only a tiny little shop. However the bloke behind the counter said that Argyle Street had some copies, so we headed there. We were just about to got out empty handed when there was a hail storm, or it might have been “frozen rain”. It looked like hail, but the frozen balls were like snow. Strange weather.

Got the underground down to Argyle Street and got the book in Waterstones, then made our way back up Bucky Street, via a posh shower gel shop, to the train station and just managed to get on the Alloa train to Croy and then Scamp drove us home.

There was a parcel waiting for me. The postman had handed it to one of our neighbours. It was a birthday prezzy. Another one. I have a great family. It was a great birthday. I really enjoyed my day in Glasgow. As well as all the foregoing, we stood on the bridge over the Kelvin watching folk ‘Magnet Fishing’ and a song kept buzzing round my head. A song without a name by a singer whose name I couldn’t remember either. With the help of Mr Google I’ve remembered the song as “Wire Burners” from the album “Glasgow” and the singer as Findlay Napier. Do yourself a favour and listen to it. Although the best track is the first one ‘Young Goths in the Necropolis’.

We had a few glasses of wine later, Scamp and I and a thin G ’n’ T before dragging ourselves off to bed. I posted today’s PoD on Flickr before that. It’s a Pelargonium we saw in the Kibble Palace.

Tomorrow we’re up and out early to navigate our way through the roadworks to a dance class in Brookfield. Morning will come early.

Of course, this is a catch-up, but the gist of yesterday is fairly correct.

Too many folk! – 26 March 2022

Today we were heading east on the train. We were going to Edinburgh or Embra to give it its proper name.

We were a bit surprised at how many folk were already waiting at Platform 1 for the 10.25am train for the capital. There didn’t seem to be rugby on, nor was there a football clash. We shrugged and got on the train.

In Embra, once we got out of the station at Haymarket, there were a lot of changes since the last time we’d been there. Great glass monoliths had sprung up dwarfing (are you allowed to say that in these terribly PC days) the old sandstone building that looked disapprovingly on their new brash neighbours. We walked up Morrison Street to the Conference Centre then into Ladyfield and on to Conference Square. Canyons, both of them. Narrow paths between towering glass and steel buildings. They look like canyons and feel like canyons when that east wind is blowing, but catch the light nicely when the sun shines, and the sun was shining today. Crossed the road for coffee in Nero, our usual watering hole when we’re visiting the capital.

Refreshed we walked through the Farmers Market after glancing at the Van Gogh exhibition site and feeling glad we hadn’t bought the extortionate tickets to watch stars float across some wildly blown up photos of the artist’s work.

It was while we were walking through the market that I got the first inklings that it was a bit busier than it usually is at this time of year. As we neared the Grassmarket we both agreed that it was indeed a bit crowded. Every stall seemed to have queues of folk two or three rows thick trying to get a look at what is really just tourist tack. No chance of going to Petit Paris today for lunch. Up over West Bow to the Royal Mile and the crowds were still milling around. We walked through the Princes Street Gardens, but there were no seats available and people sitting on the grass everywhere. When we got to Princes Street itself, I think we both made the decision to go home.

We almost had to run to get on the train home and managed to get a seat after walking half way along the train. Each carriage was full. Finally we did get a seat, but once the train reached Haymarket it was standing room only. A most uncomfortable journey in a hot, crowded train. I don’t know why everyone had decided to go to Embra today, but we were both happy to get back to the house.

Scamp sat in the garden for a while enjoying the sunshine, while I tried to fix one of her light globes. I’ve just realised I’ve got it charging in the back bed room. Must switch it off before I go to bed.

We had stopped at Tesco on the way home to get a cooked chicken and a loaf and we had Neil’s Chicken Salad for dinner. Bramley Apple pie for dessert.

I think the next time we feel the need to visit Embra, we’ll go mid-week.

PoD was the view up West Bow.

Tomorrow a bit of basking in the sun, hopefully.

Today we went to Embra – 18 January 2020

It’s ages since we’ve been in Embra. Not since last year at least (Ha, ha).

Still sticking to the “Up and out before 11” mantra, we headed off for the 10.40am train from Croy. On the way we picked up the tickets for our London trip, so, a tick in two boxes. Fairly slow train, and in the same carriage as a foursome of what Scamp called “Apprentice Witches” who looked as if they were off on a Ladies Only weekend, lubricated with a bottle of cheap champagne. And why not, even ladies wot lunch are allowed a weekend off the leash occasionally.

Got off at Haymarket and were surprised with the number of polis in attendance, van loads of them. Hearts must be playing at home, I thought. I was right. Hearts were at home to Airdrie. We walked up and over to Nero on Lothian Road for our morning coffee. Suitably refreshed, we should have walked through the Farmers’ Market and over to the Grassmarket, but today was different. Instead, we walked down to Princes Street and then along its length to The Bridges. Walked over The Bridges and on to the Royal Mile. It was cold. Not bitterly cold like it sometimes is in Embra, but cold enough to require my wooly Buff, wooly had and a pair of gloves. At least it was bright as well as cold.  Took some foties on the Royal Mile and then we ducked down to the Grassmarket. This was really strange. We were going in exactly the opposite direction to what we usually go and the vistas of architecture we were seeing were totally different to those we usually see. “A change is as good as a rest”, they say and it was proving true. One thing didn’t change and that was lunch in Petit Paris in the Grassmarket. Truly French restaurant with a French menu and served by French blokes. Scamp had Crayfish in Garlic Butter and a main of Salmon Fillet with Thyme served with mash. I had Garlic and Pea soup and a main of Beef Bourguignon. Both meals were just as good as we expected them to be. I even risked the wrath of Nick the Chick with a glass or red wine.

To continue our ‘Wrong Way Round’ walk, we walked through the Farmers’ Market that was just starting to close for the day, and where I got today’s PoD of a bloke enjoying the view of the castle from the comfort of a deck chair. Then out past the Usher Hall and back to Haymarket for the train home. A much quieter train home, now that the Apprentice Witches were suitably sozzled and off making a noise elsewhere.

Not a bad day. Pity it was so cold, but the lovely meal in Petit Paris made up for the lack of warmth. PoD was indeed the bloke on the deck chair, but there are others on Flickr if you care to visit.

Tomorrow we believe there may be dancing at the Record Factory.

On the slow train – 20 December 2019

Today we thought we’d take the slow train to Glasgow, from Greenfaulds. Slower, but with more interesting scenery.

So easy to park at Greenfaulds, compared with Croy with its overcrowded car park. OK, the journey took longer, but we weren’t in a hurry. The journey took almost 25 minutes which is not a lot longer than the time from Croy. Thankfully we didn’t have to get out the train at Springburn and change trains, or as I recall, wait for the train to change tracks and then get back in again.

While Scamp was looking for unspecified articles, I went up to level 3 in JL to look at the toys. Of course, as it was before Christmas, all toys were at premium prices, but it was worthwhile looking to see what might and might not be available much cheaper after Christmas. Of course, I’m not allowed to buy anything else until at least 2030 <wink>. Walked up Sausage Roll Street and had coffee in Costa. It really must only be Cumbersheugh Costa that make such poor coffee. The flat white I had was fine. Back down again and on to George Square where today’s PoD came from. Finally we got the train back again to Greenfaulds.

I knew I had one in the bag, but that didn’t prevent me from taking a walk over to St Mo’s. Just missed two deer, but the light was so low I’d have been hard put to get any decent images. I really need to go further afield these days to get some fresh scenery.

Still having problems with the new ON1 2020, but I uninstalled it and then installed a fresh copy. Now things seem to be running a bit better. However, now my NAS drive is having problems. White light is flashing which generally means that it’s rebuilding its catalog. It may be time to put it out to pasture and get something more dependable. That’s a problem for another day.

Tomorrow we may go out for a walk. Just to be out in the open air without any shops would be a blessing.

Diwali and French cuisine – 26 October 2019

We heard about the Diwali festival on the radio yesterday and Scamp decided it was a fair excuse to visit our eastern neighbours – Embra.

Actually our next door neighbours woke us just after 8am with the sawing and banging associated with having more decking laid in their back garden. We were up and out almost in time to catch the 10.30 train to Embra. The key word there is “almost”. We missed it by seconds. Not to worry, we walked back to the car and waited in relative comfort for the next one. Well, if it was you, would you rather sit on a cold aluminium seat on a station platform with a cool 1ºc breeze blowing or would you sit in your cooling, but 12ºc car with soft fabric seats? I rest my case, yer honour.

Caught the next train and luckily chose the right carriage to get a seat. I’d my phone in my pocket, but, of course, my headphones were in my other jacket. Typical. Never mind it was good watching the sunny, if Arctic, countryside whizz past. There was a zoomer in the carriage. I thought he was German or possibly Austrian. Scamp thought he was Dutch, but he was definitely from the Planet Zanussi. He kept asking people questions with the Columbo catch phrase “I have one question.” He also seemed to holding a conversation with his phone, not on his phone, but with it. Really strange. Never met a German / Austrian / Dutch Zoomer before.

While he went off to find Kirkcaldy, we walked up towards the Nero for coffee. As we were walking through the architectural canyons that link the Western Approach Road with Lothian Road, we chanced upon a window cleaner washing the windows on one of the canyon sides with an enormously long brush. Strangely I’d never wondered how they washed those window. Now I know. Rattled off a half a dozen shots and knew right away that I had a potential PoD. Coffee and a pastry in Costa then a walk up through the farmers market and on to the Grassmarket. I could see Scamp’s eyes light up as we got near the Petit Paris restaurant and knew resistance was useless. That was going to be our lunch venue.

Today’s topic for sketching was Urban Sketch. It was now about 3ºc, but with windchill it would be nearer 1ºc, so I doubted that I’d be doing anything urban and still retaining my fingers, so we went for a walk instead, but just in case I’d get the opportunity, I got a cheap sketch book in Greyfriars Art Shop. Then on to the Meadows and, because the sun was in our eyes and it was blinding, we took a detour round the University, then doubled back when we found we were near Bristo Square. From there it was an easy jaunt back to the Grassmarket and Petit Paris.

Got a table easily downstairs in the dungeon. I had Lentil Stew with Bacon and Sausage. Scamp had Pan Fried Chicken Breast with Forestiere Sauce. Both were lovely, although I had an upset stomach later and the only thing I could blame was that lentil stew. Half a glass of red wine washed down my lunch and a glass and a half of the same washed down Scamp’s. Thanks for that Nicola, ya bastard!

Just managed to catch the end of the Diwali Festival group walking and dancing their way across Embra. There were two big white horses pulling the ceremonial carriage. When they were stopped on The Mound, one of them felt the need to receive itself of excess liquid. Dear me, these horses can carry a fair amount of water! I reckon it stood there for about five minutes “emptying its tanks”. Needless to say, it being Embra, after the procession had passed, the last vehicle was a street sweeper! Can’t have the horses messing up their clean streets!

Decided we’d been fed and watered and seen part of the procession, so we headed for the train and caught it this time with just a few minutes to spare. No foreign Zoomers on it, just some home-grown ones.

I chose to draw our last five apples as a replacement for the missing “Urban Sketch”. I was quite pleased with the result.

Tomorrow we have no plans. We don’t even know the predicted temperature. It’s supposed to be sunny, so we may go for a walk.

Beer is the answer, now what was the question? – 30 April 2019

A day in town with the guys and being a good Samaritan.

Scamp offered me a run to the train station to have a 10min trip into Glasgow, rather than the 45min trip the X3 forces on me. I was meeting the Auld Guys for a few beers, some adult conversation and a cheap lunch. Before that I had some time to spare, so I went for a look in JL. Where I saw a bloke attempting to buy a camera for his daughter. She wanted one with a viewfinder, but the one he had his eye on didn’t have one. The assistant told him that nothing in that price range had viewfinders. She went to get the keys to the cabinet to show him some considerably more expensive ones, that’s when the Good Samaritan butted in. I pointed to a Teazer (TZ70) which was much closer to his price range than the £650 Sony the assistant was touting and told them that it had a viewfinder. Even better I had my Teazer in my pocket to show him. He seemed happy that it had a viewfinder and gave it over to his daughter so that she could try it. She said it was just what she was looking for. By then the assistant had returned and the man pointed at the Teazer in the case and said that “This Gentleman” (that’s me by the way) “says that one has a viewfinder”. The assistant agreed that the Lumix was a good make and confirmed that it did indeed have a viewfinder. I left them to test it out for themselves. I hate to see people being given that kind of sales pitch. A Gentleman and a Good Samaritan and it wasn’t even 11.30am!

Met up with the other three in the Horse Shoe Bar. It looked like a pensioners day out today. Not one person under the age of 60 drinking in that bar. Val and Jack couldn’t make it. Jim B couldn’t come today for some undisclosed reason. Had a good gossip about school stuff we don’t have to worry about anymore, then went upstairs for lunch. Three courses for a fiver! That’s a cheap lunch. After that it was home time.

Fred and I got the train home and Scamp very kindly dropped Fred off before we went home too. A good day out.  Scamp had managed to get the grass cut while I was away and just in time too, because when we were going home it started to drizzle.  It’s good for the garden!

Today’s PoD was taken from the top of Buchanan Street in the town.

Tomorrow it’s dancing again. Hopefully better than last week.

Up and out at stupid o’clock – 5 February 2019

I’d forgotten that 7.30AM existed. I used to be out the door and on my way to work at that time. That was just over four years ago and you tend to remember the good times and ignore the bad. 7.30AM was one of the bad times. Defrosted the car and picked up Scamp to take her to the train station. Her and half of Cumbersheugh seemed to on the way to the station at Croy this morning. Dropped her at the ticket office and drove off to park and walked back to check that she had caught the train. The train was already at the station by the time I got there, but I saw that familiar red hat on a person that was sitting in a seat. There’s only one hat like that in the world, Hazy!

With her safely on the first stage of her journey to Inverness to meet her sister, I drove home, had my breakfast, read my emails and went back to bed for an hour. I should have gone out and photographed that beautiful dawn sky before I went to bed, but I didn’t and I so regret it now.

When I got up for the second time today it was lunchtime and I had the last ladleful of my soup, then I went out to get a PoD under a much different sky. The clouds were Scottish Grey and as I walked to the car, the rain started. I drove down to the Luggie Water and found the snowdrops which were now blooming nicely. Using my glove as a cushion for the Oly and a Moleskine notebook as a wee tent to protect the lens from rain I grabbed half a dozen shots at various distances and quickly checked them to make sure they’d all worked and they had.

Back home, processed the photos and made my dinner which was chilli con CARNE, because Scamp would be having a posh lunch in Inverness, so I could have a meat dinner tonight. Dumped the chilli into the slow cooker and left it for an hour or two, plenty time to get my sketch of the day done. Today it was to be two oranges, a pear and an apple. I made the mistake of having four items in the sketch. Every beginner know you should always group odd numbered items. It was the apple that went wrong. If anyone asks me about it, I’ll just say that the apple was old and was getting a bruise at the bottom. I liked the oranges and the pear. Unfortunately you can’t clone out mistakes on a watercolour.

Scamp sent a text to say she was just passing Stirling Castle about 8.30pm and I got ready to drive in to Glasgow. Picked her up just after 9pm after doing a detour because the motorway was being repaired.

Tomorrow it’s Dancing day. Hopefully it will be Blackfriars in the afternoon and STUC salsa at night. Chilli was fine, but just a little too mild.

Cauld Reekie – 2 February 2019

Today we went to Embra. About a couple of thousand rugby supporters went too. I think they were all on our train.

We’d been promising ourselves that we’d go to Embra since well before Christmas, but with the combination of health problems and rodent problems, not to mention the train problems, we didn’t get. Today we did. The seven coach ‘leccy train was mobbed, but we did get a seat and of course we got off with all the rugby supporters going to see Scotland get humped by Italy. I hope they weren’t too disappointed when our team won! It was cold enough to freeze the snotters dripping from my nose as we walked up to our usual Nero. How cold must it be when you’re wearing a kilt and sitting in Murrayfield for a couple of hours? I suppose most of them had some form of alcoholic central heating so wouldn’t feel the cold too much.

We walked through the farmer’s market and I got a bit of shoulder mutton for tomorrow’s dinner. It should be cooked like steak apparently. Hopefully I’ll be singing its praises tomorrow. After that we walked along Rose Street, had a coffee in Waterstones in Princes Street and then just missed the train home, so had to sit for half an hour in Haymarket. That’s where today’s PoD came from. The poor woman must have wondered what the bloke across the concourse was doing, and why is he laying his camera on the floor? Much quieter train home while the tartan clad hordes roared their team on to victory.

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was a bowl of pears and I’m pretty happy with it. I just wish Facebook would get it into its tiny head that I’m not selling it!!!

For tomorrow there are no plans. We’ll just see what the day brings.