Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Driving around

Driving around, probably too slowly for the locals, in a big white car, with the air temperature in the nineties and most likely looking like a bit of a dickhead. Pretty much a normal day of it here so far.

After some driving around some more I took a short walk in the blistering heat and came across a Cat Cafe still under construction and a bottle of some kind of heavy duty Baileys additive. I think that says everything.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Iceland v Goliath

Sitting here in the balmy and surreal environs of Florida, warm and slightly uncomfortable as the game unfolded like some strange, quasi, national tragedy. Except for viewers in Scotland and a small corner of the USA who saw it as a direct euphemism for England's plight following last week's disaster of a referendum.  The country can do nothing right at the moment and finding it's proper place in the world now seems to involve a series of painful falls from grace, one after the other.  The thing is this has been happening for many years, slowly, steadily and now it's picking up speed...and that's scary. I take no pleasure whatsoever in watching this unfold. The ineptitude of the ruling class, the fat cats and experts playing out their selfish and in some cases evil roles taking the nation to the that tipping point where our brand (their brand) is a toxic laughing stock across the world. The point of the car crash has arrived and people will get hurt. Scotland needs to get out of this mess now, whatever the cost, whatever friends we have in England, whatever the wonky ideology and daft economics, all that can be ironed out in time. This is the end, beautiful friend, the end (and also the start!).

Monday, June 27, 2016

Plan A

Or is it Plan B? It always was my post referendum plan to get the feck out of the UK for a few weeks until the heat died down and the rioting in the two main parties stopped. The USA seems a strangely safe place in the light of the last few days events back home, apart from the emerging new neighbourhood menace of big birds with long, pointy beaks that is.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


It's 7:15 in the morning and the sun's just popped up to say hello. Sleep seems to have escaped me, that's the full five hour time difference not fully compensated for yet. So I'm supposed to be spending some time in Florida away from it all (?) apart from the fact that you can't escape any of the Brexit news or the rest of the political minefield that the UK has become. #Marr cuts across all social media on a Sunday morning. Having said that, despite all the obvious election, gun and violence problems here in the US, people seem more concerned about what's in Prince's will and that Cher is dying alone and broke (apparently). That was the consensus harvested from a late night shop in Walmart last night where beer, crisps, steak and some sense of a greater worldwide perspective are the items most in demand (sic). 

Friday, June 24, 2016

Arty Pic Post

After this morning's tricky referendum result there came upon us all an almost Biblical style rainstorm. It battered on the windows and roof and poured great heavenly tears onto everything. I'm maybe over dramatising the effect but it was a powerful moment. It helped get things into perspective, slightly better than alcohol might have done and then a few minutes later the sun returned (for a short time) and with it a bee or two pottering around on these giant, odd blooms we've managed to cultivate. I guess that life will still go on despite all the (other) twats in the world trying to spoil your day.

Mystery fur flying episode

The good humoured bit: Last night we suffered a bizarre cat fight of some sort, nobody was there to see what actually took place only the aftermath, lots of black and white fur scattered across the staircase. As our cats are ginger and mottled brown the mess is so far unexplained though one of our cats seems to be suffering some post traumatic stress.

Not so good humoured: In other news I awoke to find that our country had just managed to royally fuck itself up by stupidly voting to leave Europe and so play straight into the hands of some of the worst politicians and scoundrels I've ever seen. This is not good and I am mightily pissed off in a way I've not been since September 14, if anything it's worse. I know there's a long game we can play here over Scottish independence but the victorious crowing of the Tories and UKIP right now is more than I can stand. Make no mistake these are truly twisted individuals who care nothing for the "common good" and who will exploit their new position(s) of power wholly for their own devious and hateful interests. They have no shame and no sense of decency and the fact that the British electorate has rewarded them in this way appals me. To add insult to injury Donald Trump just landed in Scotland. It's like some weird medieval invasion coupled with ongoing, endless torture. I'm headed for the sun.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Attack of the Glamis Souls

So if you Google misheard radio announcements such as "Attack of the Glamis Souls" you tend to get little in the way of useful information but there are a few spooky pictures of Glamis Castle. I wonder what tomorrow's misheard announcement might be?

Today we vote and it's a fairly uncertain outcome, right down the line. Who really understands all the possible consequences of our actions? Of course people want certainty, they want the facts, they want to know for sure on all the main issues. The trouble is that in life there is very little certainty, you get up in the morning, what will the day bring, who knows? You go to the shops, you buy stuff, generally not the things you'd planned. You meet a friend, a conversation begins, who knows the outcome? So forget about being correct and the worry that goes with it, realise that you and everybody else actually knows very little of anything, particularly the future. Of course you should vote but don't stress either way, just tick the box you think best. The universe has the habit of interfering in life and changing whatever it is that you may have expected anyway.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Travelling man blues

When you get to the top avoid falling if at all possible.
In between the unexpected summer showers I took it upon myself to climb to great heights to repaint some of the blue bits and few of the white bits on the outside of the house. A big part of the numerous objectives here is not to fall from the ladder, particularly when the oil boiler service engineer is busy servicing. An important rule of any such imagined accident is to have as few witnesses as possible albeit they might be handy when it comes to informing the emergency services. Thankfully I made it back to earth just before another seasonal downpour soaked my clumsy work - so I adjourned indoors to sort out one of my travelling companions; the Chinese instrument of torture known as the Hofner Shorty. It was in need of a number of serious adjustments and sadly the usual YouTube advice was scant when it came to providing actual help. Mostly there was just simple criticism and a fair amount of rework and new parts, so some so-called experts suggested in their long drawn out broadcasts. The tiny guitar's action and intonation being the main problem. I knew that already.

An hour later having screwdrivered and fiddled with everything possible I decided I'd had enough and that venturing beyond the  12th fret in tune was not really possible if using current western musical scales. Everything in life is usually some kind of reasonable compromise so it'll do me for a few weeks and hopefully I can cram it into a reasonably sized suit case.

For some reason the bridge on this guitar is a complete pig of a thing, designed by idiots and then purchased blind by other idiots some of whom may be slightly musical.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Countdown to...

Only days to now thankfully as the messages get ever more mixed. I admire this little piece of graffiti and subversion, not that it'll make any difference. I've now reached the point in the process  (a point I probably reached in Thatcher's and then during Blair's regimes at various points) where nothing much is believable and those involved have lost all credibility. Whatever the outcome on Thursday it will take years for us to recover, if ever. We've (the UK) really fucked ourselves on this one.

Meanwhile in the real world of fantasy as opposed to the fantasy world that is real life, Game of Thrones delivered the most bone crushing, mother fixing, stupendous episode ever last night. "Battle of the Bastards" was an incredible mix of raw spectacle, CGI excellence and good old blood and snotters. Just about everything happened in what must be amongst the best bits of TV film making ever churned out. One of those episodes where you're just thinking FFS most of the time and then you're left stunned gawping on the couch afterwards as the dark and dismal credits silently roll. Next week I'll be in the US for the final episode, hoping for a great big HD television somewhere.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Hoovering a fly

One of my granddaughters kindly presented me with a temporary tattoo in a left handed Les Paul type of design. Fortunately it lasted a little less than 24 hours. Currently it has morphed into a sort of blue/black streak.
Despite their Matrix like ability to avoid being swatted, due to some "bullet time" kind of capability I think I may have discovered something that as yet they've not evolved to avoid. A Hoover. I noticed this during a routine blasting of dust around the window frames. When encountering the Hoover they don't seem to react in the same zig-zag way as they do when you're skelping them with a rolled up copy of Empire Magazine. In fact they don't react at all, they just get sucked up into the huge Dyson vortex as if it was a black hole. Of course it could be that it is, in the fly universe, a black hole and maybe once they go down it and enter it's churning heart...everything makes sense and true enlightenment comes to them and their lives blossom beyond anything in the normal imagination of a fly. Or maybe not.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Sunny Day

Turns out we have a sunny afternoon on our hands that may well turn into a full blown sunny day. Here's a photo of a rather serious minded cat pondering her next move, to the shade or to the sunny spot.

I've just bought four large sandwich party platters from a local Griegs. All the bread is white, something I didn't plan for and it all looks rather "bright" for a set of sandwiches, no soothing brown to balance the effect. I'm just going to go with this anyway. Some things are best left as they are.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Jo Cox and everything else

I'd never really heard of Jo Cox before yesterday. I just don't keep up with core political matters in enough detail to be familiar with most MP's comings and goings. Now her sad and tragic death is all over the news and it's hard to know quite what to think and make of it. A cruel and horrid personal loss for her family that cannot be recovered and that we will all now struggle to put somewhere into a thought vacuum either as a lesson, a reference or a warning. For me right now it's a warning. Feelings have been stoked up in the referendum debate, stupidly, needlessly and dangerously. Issues have become debased and exaggerated and there is little or no truth on which we, the ordinary voters can chew or decide upon. A toxic and incomprehensible soup has been created that we seem doomed to have to consume. The whole thing seems like a horrible mistake unless, like me, you see it as a callous act of mass manipulation to create some illusion of democracy whilst undermining it's principals at the same time via media, politicians and celebrity . Well I'm done with believing in anything, if you want to count me, count me out (but in Europe). Jo Cox RIP.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

A brief spurt of progress

Imprisoned by unrelenting rain once more (apart from a quick drive to shops and travel agents), so I made a positive move and pushed ahead with some guitar building work. It was a time of  constant fiddling, making mistakes and near death experiences. I was sorting the electric components, easily the worst bit for me and one that I tend to avoid or put off. Well the recent rain has left me no excusable alternative and so a full programme of horror, trial and error, the emphasis being on error followed. How many ways are there to wire up a three way Telecaster selector switch? I thought three maybe, seemed obvious. Turns out there are many, a number beyond any mathematical calculation you could make because a) there are many switch types, b) there are many wiring configurations and c) there's too much advice and bollocks on the internet that contradicts itself. I've now gone "off message" and "off piste" on this. The dark side beckons and I've responded.

My new simple method (ignoring advice etc.) is simply to randomly connect the various components with cold solder and experiment whilst tapping on each live pickup with a screwdriver - trial and error. Eventually it all works and sometimes the normal hum and buzz even subsides into some eerie clean tone. At that point the dangerously hot soldering iron is introduced and things are either burned or finalised, then rechecked, then done again because either I made an arse of it or I forgot to route the wires through some guitar body cavity first. It's a challenge but I'm learning and it's keeping me inspired and enthralled in between dull and partisan football matches watched with the sound down and creative food experiments involving boiled eggs, crusty bread and beetroot.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


A  consignment of wind farm blades and components chugs up the Firth from Estonia or maybe Latvia where engineering comes cheap and who cares...we can't compete anyway. It's smuggled here in plain sight while everybody's gawping at the new bridge or into their phones. This bargain basement recycled Chinese sourced tin and fibreglass will make a lasting contribution to Scotland's green and pleasant aspirations for renewable energy. Just not sure how long the actual hardware will last in our salty and poisoned environment but I'm sure that it's worth every Westminster pledged pocket money penny and it'll keep the statisticians and speech writers fuelled for a while because it's some kind of modern progress towards KPIs.  We're just not smart enough to know what direction we're headed in with it all. Ironic that these units sail past the now redundant dead eyed coal fired power station that once boiled all our kettles during the Coronation Street adverts or when Cathy Come Home became just too much. Now we're coming to rely upon warm air travelling across the Atlantic, the correct climatic conditions and cold air coming down with the MiGs and Badgers from the former USSR. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Behind the times

Behind the times and behind the curve, only now getting around to watching the final two Hunger Games films. Thank you incessant rain and the expected early end of summer. This one seems to have been panned by the critics at the time. OK not the greatest film but I thought it was reasonable albeit it's obviously there as an attempt to extend the franchise and make a few bucks more. Still not as bad as the overlong and overblown Hobbit movies.

As for Orlando...awful. We're a long way away from the tragedy thankfully. Prayers and good thoughts aren't going to fix this either. The descent continues.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Bomb in the base

Loitering in the downstairs shower this morning I noticed this solitary bath bomb sitting on the shelf.
I know it's (almost) wrong but when Russia scored the equaliser last night against England I was off the couch and only one beer and two glasses of wine were involved. I think that it was the English fans jubilantly singing "God save the Queen" that started me up. One (pretty decent) goal up they were singing like they'd won the tournament and I hate that feckin' smug tuneless and oppressive song. Is that really what you sing when you're supporting England? Anyway you can't really beat a goal in the final minutes as a way of deflating fans, just think of Hibs and Rangers last month, a quite magical few seconds of collapse. Last night was up there with the best sickeners, a great moment to savour and a real bomb going off in the psyche of the English camp. Sour grapes from me of course, we serve them up regularly here in Scotland.

Saturday, June 11, 2016


When I saw this in the Kitchen Aisle in Tesco I felt rather disturbed, queasy and uncomfortable. I imagined disgruntled/angry wives/husbands or serial killers eyeing this up and thinking "that just might do the trick, I'll sneak one of those in my trolley along with the egg noodles and the deodorant". Maybe I'm just way too sensitive or maybe I'm crazy...anyway down with this sort of thing, just buy your meat at the butcher's counter like a normal person and then you wont have to figure out ways of easily hacking it up.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Lebowski Day

In the spirit of nothing in particular and because it's raining I've declared today to be an official Lebowski Day. Despite that I will allow my serial slow paced decluttering work and mind purity programme to carry on as I sort out my tools and trivia in preparation for my trip to some tropical and commercial Nirvana in a week or two. I've also promised myself not to drink until the Euros kick off later tonight (hopefully peacefully) so will survive on tea and milk bombs. In other Lebowski-like pursuits I will admire our rugs, move around the house slowly and think deeply whilst considering what peach to eat and how long to remain in the shower before getting out. I draw the line however at bowling matches, getting beat up and being pursued by gangs of nihilists.  I did break out briefly there to walk around the garden, in said rain hunting for a lost package, delivered apparently and then cunningly hidden where no man, beast or woman can find it. A hand written card with few simple instruction might have helped. Anyway back to dude land...

The slow paced day has allowed me to allow the glue on the sandals renegade strap to dry. I may well have executed an effective and theme park proof repair. I will report on progress in due course. 

Thursday, June 09, 2016


A late lunch today was provided by the restaurant run by Baxters near to Kelty just off Fife's premier motorway, the slowly crumbling M90. A good menu, good value food with decent portions but few customers. Maybe they get coaches of lost pensioners (Oaps as they are known) every so often to boost trade but today, a nice warm day for buggering about and supping milky coffee saw little action. So where do all the bored Oaps go on a Thursday? Probably Dobbies.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mini

(As the village priest may have said somewhere in the past in some solemn and serious way, the black bands do not represent any kind of mourning or funeral type situation, this is not the end, we remain alive and mobile).  Despite it's rough ride, occasional tripped out warning light blips and some serious rattles my Mini Cooper actually makes me happy. In the sun, in this weather, at this time of year, with the windows down, rolling along some twisty A road it really is the dog's... I'll probably only have for a short while (maybe another 10k or so) but it'll be an enjoyable journey. I wouldn't swap it for...well I probably would actually, a mental list does exist of alternative fun lovin' vehicles. Some more green than cool and others less greener than cool.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Windows 10

Another fine day and therefore good cause for more spontaneous and unplanned activity, this time cleaning and painting windows that I hadn't considered painting. That makes it about 10 windows so far (just to tie in with the title anyway). Hundreds of innocent spiders were moved on and declared homeless and many dead flies were given a quick burial up the spout of the vacuum cleaner. The windows have had their first coat of paint but remain sticky at the moment so the second coat will have to wait until the time is right and at least elevenses are over. In the mean time I've decided to re-forest the general area, mostly outside; that is as part of my slowly forming regeneration of the Great Caledonian Forest scheme. One more unplanned idea supporting wildlife here, there and at the bottom of the garden already taking shape then.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Down goes the sun

And along come the clouds but there is no rain or storm to break the tension hanging in the early summer air in this Scottish outpost. Tomorrow will come along with all it's new and predictable challenges at just around the usual time, that's all I'm really confident about at the the moment, well that and the cat across the way peering in through the cat flap and giving us his best thousand yard stare to freak out our cats. Happens every morning at 7:15.

Great Purple Aliens

Non-Google photo.
Google altered photo.
These alien looking blooms have appeared in the garden (because they were planted in it some time ago), their exact name escapes me but they are attractive to bees, last a while and look pretty funky. For some reason we have seven of them.

The long running "paint the whole outside of the house" project is drawing to an end, just as the weather is about to break, (there's a Yellow Warning you know). It's taken place over the last couple of weeks and so far has gone pretty smoothly despite the use of ladders and working at height juggling paint pots, rollers and brushes. Mess has also been minimised due to using covers and sheets and regular sweeping. All in all it's worthy of an award (a cool beer at the end of each day perhaps) and some recognition (a photo on Instagram) at some point. Maybe once the putty is dried and the plant pots have returned to their rightful places I'll record the look for posterity. Anyway I'm off to build up the beetroot stocks, hoover some money around and thoughtlessly shop for groceries.

Monday, June 06, 2016

Farewell Jeep

And so after about 40000 miles, various house moves and pop festivals and not too much off-loading or rough treatment we say a fond farewell to the faithful and slightly idiosyncratic Jeep that has been a part of family life for about four years. Gone to a good home we hope where various canine activities will be supported by it's huge rear end and wide tail gate. We won't miss the choking fuel filling system or the gutsy petrol consumption but these things fade when considering the many good times and happy travels; thank you Ms Jeep.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Getting back at iPhoto

Some kind of artistic shot here.

The love/hate/baffled relationship with Apple carries on. When my precious iPhoto  crashed and  all of my 9999 photos were locked deep behind some Apple induced firewall I was confused. Five years of living images trapped behind some complicated code that cannot be cracked. The help forums were no use, what I needed was a happy accident to come along and free up my data. This then actually happened due to my own persistent blundering and so the files were unlocked and rapidly transferred to a memory stick where they await further surgery and action. My current sticking plaster route to photo freedom requires me to email photos from my phone straight into the black heart of Google, Instagram is also proving useful, take that iPhoto! It's working and I'm still afloat but a new laptop and methodology beckons. 

The photos above were taken at the local botanical garden open day (how many can claim that prize on their doorstep?), lovely weather, wildlife, cats, cakes and creepy crawlies.

The Great Outdoors

Headed up the hill (the Hill o' Rowan as it is locally known). We were all a bit puggled by the time we reached the summit. 
The monumental monument at the top. A good spot to stop, picnic and relax before the slow descent back down to Tarfside and the River Esk.

Spent a really good day in the green and rolling hills by Glen Esk yesterday, the weather was superb and the countryside was brilliant. Hot feet were cooled in chilled streams, bees buzzed, we chattered and wandered, took in all the views, checked out the wildlife and let the kids release some pent up energy; it was as close to a perfect day as you get. 

Friday, June 03, 2016


Two strong and controversial women, looking like they were perhaps separated at birth. Anything is possible.

So far it's taken the best part of three days to clean and paint the front of the house, stonework, windows and various odd bits. It's something of a test. My will and fitness levels v the sticky smell of paint and most worryingly, working at heights carrying paint and brushes whilst wobbling. The good news is I'm near the final stages and can look back on some completed work and (what now seems more important) a series of high scores on the Fitbit. The Fitbit is a medieval torture device updated for today's self obsessed digital generation of exercising weirdos. It that tracks all your moves and nuances as if you were some kind of sex offender under constant monitoring. At the end of each day a compelling set of data is available for you to enjoy or recoil in horror from. So three days of house painting, fetching, carrying and going up and down ladders = great joy and inner peace because the numbers are so good and the graphs are like the New York skyline. 

An alternative workout, just sitting on your arse drinking beer and watching box-sets results in abject humiliation and feeble scores that make you look like an inactive slug dowsed in heroin. What's not to like then? Today more painting, tomorrow some driving but lots of hill walking, the day after walking and cycling a bit more. Live long and prosper and just feed positive data to that hungry Fitbit.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

The retired economy

I was out in the garden carrying out  a brief early morning survey and coffee. I could help notice that the few surviving bees all seemed to be extremely busy. Still carrying on working despite their threatened status and their hazardous working environment, they bravely pursue the industrial activities that they know best. I congratulated them on their stoicism and forbearance, they are still out there, doing their job in a kind of zig zag haphazard way whilst their world lives with possible and imminent destruction. I did mention that their weird buzzing might not help their image. I presume that the great bee conscience has sent out a series of strong messages telling each one to keep it together and that doing what you do best (and naturally) will result in survival for them and even success as a species. It could work but I doubt it. The evidence isn't strong.

It's not enough to blame the Tory government, excessing use of sugar as an ingredient, second hand cigarette smoke or global warming for the bees' various problems. It all goes deeper, into the suicidal mind of Mother Nature who is failing to encourage the quick evolution of bees and other creepy-crawlies into a more useful survivalist state. New breathing and filtering apparatus is required to counteract the shit we're putting into the air and possibly a more varied diet and improved life style. The bees need to fight back but they need our help to do it. They need to take control but their current economic model is flawed, a bit like mine. Some new investment is's an idea somebody had in France one day. (We all need to adjust to the awkward fact of disaster being there on the horizon staring us in the face like a puzzled cat.)

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Windows are the eyes of the house

Cleaned, prepped and ready to paint. 
Rusty shutter hinges.
The old windows at the front of the house have been rather neglected so I'm spend the next few days and possibly the rest of my life fixing them and also painting the stone wall. Blog time and any form of relaxation is therefore limited while the sun is shining. This is dry days only work. The refurbishment of the windows is necessary to curb the nasty rumour that we're an odd squinty eyed couple living in perpetual darkness behind closed blinds and greasy glass, shuffling around and eating spider's web soup and green crackers. Not a good image so we're upgrading to a more open arrangement where great streams of pure sunlight pour in on us constantly enlightening and invigorating and providing inspiration, a state of high spirituality and Vitamin C. The only other problem (apart from being covered in paint head to foot) is my temporary snow blindness brought about by staring intently at white paint on a white wall in strong white sunlight. Flaming June indeed.