Flowers, Green Beasties and The Proms – 31 August 2019

Today we were going to Chryston Flower Show to see how my submissions fared. Scamp declared that she was feeling a fair bit better, thank goodness!

It had rained hard during the night and when we woke around 9am, it was still pelting down. That continued until around midday when we got ready for the show and drove out to Muirhead to have lunch in 3 Regazzi I liked the name, 3 Guys. It was standard Italian fare. Scamp had Bruschetta as a starter followed by Chicken in a creamy sauce, with veg and roast potatoes. Mine was Potato and Broccoli soup followed by a spicy Penne Arrabbiata. Both were fine and tasted authentically Italian. We’ll be back.

Walked down to Chryston HS where the flower show was to be. First thought was that there were a lot more folk there than last time. Also the produce was better and more varied than last time. Flowers were the usual incredibly high quality. It’s hard to believe that these people are doing this, basically, for fun. It’s got to be for enjoyment because nobody is going to go to all this trouble for a £1.50 prize for a First, £1 for a Second and £0.50 for a Third. Like my pal Colin says, it’s not about winning, it’s about taking part. My painting got me a First. One landscape photo got a Second and another got a Third. My waistcoat got a Second, so all four were placed. Result!

After we’d spoken to Colin and Evelyn and after Scamp had won a host of prizes at the Tombola we drove home.

The rain that had plagued us for the past two days had tailed off by then and by the time we got home the streets were drying, so I took myself out for a walk in St Mo’s. Not much of interest until I was almost home and that’s when I found a Hawthorn Shield Bug. Sitting on a Dogwood plant minding its own business, it became PoD.

That was about it apart from listening to a quite excellent concert from the BBC Proms with Lisa Fischer and Ledisi presenting an evening honouring Nina Simone. I was amazed by Lisa Fischer’s seamless switch from jazz to Henry Purcell (which Scamp tells me was When I Am Laid In Earth.). Singing with two microphones, she played some clever vocal gymnastics. I wasn’t so impressed with Ledisi, but she too was worth listening to.

Tomorrow looks like a better day than today. We may go dancing.

A portrait session – 30 August 2019

Today we were out fairly early to drive to Larky.

We should have been going to Crawford & Nancy’s for dinner tonight, but since Scamp’s pain started, she can’t sit for longer than about an hour without stretching out (which she’s doing just now), so we decided to cancel tonight. When Scamp suggested to Nancy that they could meet for coffee, just to catch up, Nancy invited us out to the house instead. That’s what we did. The best of both worlds. Scamp got to meet up with Nancy and also to play with Imogen, C&N’s granddaughter, and I got a chance to catch up with Crawford. All of that within a timeframe of an hour and a bit which was comfortable for Scamp.

While we were there I managed to take a few (over 60) photos of Nana, Papa and Imogen. The light was really good in their new sitting room although it was tipping it down outside. Really pleased with the results from the E-M1 with the 30mm lens. It’s becoming a well used combination. The 14mm lens would have been too short and would have caused distortion and the 45-200mm would have been too long. The 30mm was the ‘Goldilocks Option’ – just right!  Imogen herself was a great model who happily posed for photo after photo.  Beautiful blue eyes and for most of the time a happy temperament.  Happy for her papa to teach her some basic gymnastics.

Tried to drive down to Asda in Larky when we left, but had difficulty finding it. It’s stuck down behind the baths and next to the new, new Larkhall Academy. I say ‘new, new’ because there have been two new academies since I went to the original one back in the ‘60s. That makes me feel ancient.

Drove home in the rain that had been falling incessantly since early morning, in fact, since last night. Took today’s PoD of a poor waterlogged Gazania in the back garden with a lens hood made from a piece of A4 paper folded in half and wrapped around the lens, not so much to keep out the sun as to keep out the rain. Useful thing to keep in the camera bag.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for a little bit of sun for a trip to Muirhead for Colin’s Flower Show.

Getting ready for the show – 29 August 2019

I thought all I had to do was stick a couple of photos in frames, but for the artist there’s always more things to do.

After talking to Hazy on the phone for half an hour or so and catching up with all the Wimbledon gossip, I was fairly sure I was ready to start the picture framing.
I was reusing old picture frames for my submissions to the flower show. The painting was all framed up yesterday, so today was the photos. Didn’t like the photos bare in the frames, so decided to cut a couple of mats to clean up the presentation. Those looking at the photos wouldn’t notice, but I would. Couldn’t find my mat cutter, couldn’t find a ruler, the Stanley knife was blunt. I just wasn’t prepared properly, sooo.

  • Clear a space.
  • Find the tools and get them organised.
  • Agree with myself on mat colours and then off we go.

Didn’t actually take that long once I was sorted. Happy with the results, it was time for lunch.

After lunch and under supervision by Scamp, I pressed the waistcoat using her fancy super-zoomer steam iron with the separate steam generator. Now I see why she bought it. It simply does an excellent job, and if I could get almost all the creases out of the fabric, then it must be good. Thanks Scamp!

After that it was off to Colin’s in torrential rain to get the photos, painting and handicraft (because there isn’t a separate category for Waistcoats made by a Man in the show), so I’ll be up against all the macrame, crochet and knitwear. Not that I’m competitive, like! Got some of Colin’s home grown tomatoes while I was there, then it was off to Tesco for some provisions.

Back home and Scamp was looking and sounding better. Maybe it’s the painkillers starting to work or maybe it’s the actual pain easing. It’s hard to tell after just a couple of days, but I’m happy it’s an improvement on yesterday.

I think I may be saying ‘Goodbye’ to the Linx laptops. Windows 10 is just taking all the joy out of them. Last night I was trying, and managing to download a large file from my NAS drive. When I checked on the progress I found the cheery message

”Lets get you back on track”

Windows 10 had halted the download to display this big blue message box informing me that it was about to re-install the update I’d removed before we went on holiday. It’s not meant to do that. It’s meant to return the OS to the previous (working) version, not the bloatware it had just installed. I give up. Because of the weird bootsector on the Linx, I can’t install Linux and be done with it, which would be the sensible solution in this situation. I’m stuck with this half-arsed, laughingly poor operating system. I’ll wipe the drive. Remove the micro SD card and sell the lump of plastic to someone who appreciates an OS that interrupts you every month or so to do what it pleases, not what you want.

PoD is a wee wet flower in St Mo’s this afternoon. Just missing the rain.

Tomorrow we may drive through the rain to Larky to visit Crawford & Nancy – in the morning.

The anaesthetic effects of Dancin’ – 28 August 2019

Today Scamp was just a little bit better. I was concerned that dancing might maybe too demanding, but on the other hand it could just take her mind off the pain.

Jive first, and because we were the only beginners there, it was a private lesson. Really useful. Learned a new move although the name “Shuffle Ball Change” does need a rethink in my opinion! Then a bit of wash and brush up for the waltz and quickstep routines. The hour just flies by sometimes.

When we were walking along for a coffee and a discussion of today’s progress, I had to stop and photograph the Devil Duke of Wellington whose dark mask had slipped, exposing his glowing ‘devil eyes’. It might just have been a trick of the light or it could have been something more sinister. Take a look at the pic on Flickr and make your own mind up. It didn’t make PoD. That went to a shot I took this morning of a rose I accidentally cut down. when I was pruning the rambling rose round the back door yesterday.

Macaroni & Cheese for dinner! Quite excellent! Then it was time to go out to Salsa. Two classes with lots of new and reprised moves. Great fun as usual with Jamie G’s classes.

JIC phoned to say that his birthday tee shirt had arrive and fitted. After Scamp’s story of woe, however, he did comment that he should have washed if first with all these stories of Norovirus!

Scamp looked exhausted tonight and eventually admitted that she had probably done too much dancing, but that it had indeed taken her mind off the itch from some beastie bites and the pain from her ‘stitch’. So it was most likely the best thing to do in the circumstances.

Tomorrow I have to get the photos and stuff packaged ready for Colin’s Flower Show. He says he’s resigned from it, but I know that he’ll still be keeping a weather eye on proceedings.

Coffee with the boys – 27 August 2019

Thought I had plenty of time to do stuff before I went to meet Fred and Val. I was wrong.

Just after 8am and Scamp had already phoned the docs to speak to the nurse. She’d been complaining of pains like a stitch, just under her ribcage for a couple of days. She suspected she had pulled a muscle, maybe when she had been evacuating her stomach contents last week. The nurse, when she phoned back agreed and gave her an appointment with the doc at 10.30. In the meantime, she decided to do a washing. Why waste time she said! Drove up to the doc’s and after examining her, the doc said she had torn a couple of fibres in either the diaphragm or on the abdominal wall. She gave her a prescription for Co-codamol which should take the pain away and with the added benefit that she can sell any she has left outside St Mo’s. We’ll know better tomorrow if the painkillers were successful. Once I’ve coaxed her down from the ceiling.

Coffee with the boys was the usual bun fight with everything except Brexit and religion being fair game for discussion and a severe slagging. However, we were a bit more restrained than normal. Must be something to do with summer coming to an end soon. At least that’s my theory.

Went for a walk in the afternoon and got some lovely close up shots of a patient dragonfly. This was the fifteenth shot in a series that started off with me about a metre away and ended up with the lens almost, but not quite touching the insect’s wing. It’s a game. Take a shot move in a bit. Repeat. No time to chimp, just assume that the shot worked. After a while you begin to wonder who’s watching whom. I definitely get the impression that I’m the one under surveillance when I’m photographing dragonflies. Damselflies are much more shy and timid. Dragonflies are just sizing you up.
Earlier in the day I’d taken a couple of shots of Cumbersheugh’s remarkable architecture, but decided that, like the town itself, it was a bit grey and boring. A bit of sun would have been an improvement, but it wasn’t on offer then. The dragonfly was a clear winner of PoD.

Almost finished making my final selections for the photography part of Colin’s flower show submission. Tomorrow I’m hoping to frame and mat the painting. Such a lot of work for a flower show.

Hopefully Scamp will have a restful night’s sleep and be fully fit for dancing tomorrow. For some reason the pain doesn’t affect her when she’s standing or walking, so maybe the dancing will be good exercise for her.

When the cat’s away – 26 August 2019

The mice can do as they please.

Scamp was out on the town with her friends today, so I had the whole day to do as I pleased, and I was pleased to do very little.

I started out having a battle with the printer, trying all the combinations and permutations of settings to get a decent print of a photo for a competition. It’s never exactly the simple setting. There’s always another tweak to be done to get it just right. I think I’ve found it, but I won’t know until tomorrow when I test the setting with another photo that’s on a removable HD stored away somewhere upstairs.

Next I’d to book my car in for its annual service. The service is already paid for as part of the leasing deal. However the person on the end of the line announced that the manufacturer suggests that the air con should be checked every two years and that check is not part of the servicing agreement. I said “No thanks.” to the £99 (plus VAT) check. If the manufacturer deems it necessary to do this check every two years, it should be part of the servicing agreement. They try to catch you any way they can. Never trust a car salesman. Used car or brand new, they are all shysters.

Final thing on my checklist of “What you need to do this morning” was to dig out a big bucket load of soil from my raised bed and replace it with fresh compost from the composter. Got that done and then planted my curly kale and leeks, even remembering to water them in.

By then lunch was beckoning and it looked quite bruschetta shaped to me. It was while I was making it I spotted the robin having a look at my handiwork, not the prints. No he was more interested in that fresh new soil and he promptly got stuck in turning some over and grabbing what was hiding underneath. He seemed to look up at me and say “There you go mate, that’s me cleared some of the beasties out for you!” Grabbed his photo with the Nikon. It’s ages since I used it, but the quality is really good. I’d forgotten quite how good it is.

Powered up X-Plane and had a ‘quick’ flight. Took off from Glasgow and flew to Prestwick partly using instruments and partly by visual. It’s quite the most fascinating program, but it really makes you think about the technicalities of flying and the things that could go wrong. I was watching a program about pilots and one bloke said something along the lines of “If a car breaks down on the motorway, you coast onto the hard shoulder and somebody will come and help you. If you break down in a plane, you’re on your own!” Anyway, after safely landing at Prestwick I started a new flight in a glider and found that you can fly from Strathaven airfield. We just passed it, in the real world, on Saturday!

Salsa at night and the first class was fairly easy. Scamp joined us for the second class and it was a bundle of fun. Lots of new moves and a couple of older ones we’d forgotten Nudo was the one that caused the most hilarity.

PoD was the Robin, of course.

Tomorrow my turn to be out for a while meeting the boys for coffee.

Another roaster – 25 August 2019

It was a beautiful morning. Today was set to be another hot one.

Scamp wanted to go looking for plants today to bring some new colour to the garden. We headed off to Torwood to see what they could offer. As there was a 20% reduction on all plants, we expected there to be a big queue, but surprisingly the carpark was only half full. Grabbed a bundle of flowering plants and also some curly kale plus some leeks. Just something to fill up the raised bed.

Back home and after the usual Sunday fried lunch I had a bit of a longer snooze than I’d anticipated while Scamp planted out her flowers, then sat and read in the garden. I don’t know how she can do it with the noisy neighbours, their adult kids, plus the grand weans shouting at each other. I think some of them must be deaf. That’s why they keep shouting instead of conducting a normal conversation.

When I woke I realised I still hadn’t a firm favourite for PoD, so I put a pair of shorts on and went over to St Mo’s to see what was what. Spotted a Painted Lady right away, feeding on a scabious flower. Banged a few shots of that into the E-M1. Got a few shots of a dragonfly too, but it was really far away across the bog and I wasn’t going wading in St Mo’s bog. You never know what’s under your feet there. Well, you do know, and that’s worse than not knowing.

That sort of summed up Sunday. Just another hot day, but finally I have a picture of a Painted Lady to present to the waiting public.

Tomorrow Scamp’s off with the Witches to Glasgow and I’m off the leash for a few hours.

Curry, Dragons and a Comma – 24 August 2019

Hamilton for a curry, nowhere to park in Strathaven, but beasties at Drumgrew. That’s the synopsis, here’s the detail.

Drove to Hamilton to have a curry in Bombay Cottage. Now if my brother hadn’t mentioned going there about a year ago, I’d wouldn’t have remembered this was my favourite eating place in South Lanarkshire. Thankfully he did and we’ve been going regularly since. Chicken Tikka for me today to replace my usual Chicken Rogan Josh. Not as good as the CRG, but the curry sauce was far more tasty than anything I’ve had elsewhere.

We’d nowhere to go after that, so I suggested we should drive up to Strathaven to see if any of the balloons were flying. Bad move. Nowhere to park in the town and it looked as if most of the folk were parking in a farmer’s field about two miles from the park where the balloons were supposed to be. We didn’t stop. I’d seen the balloons before and it’s impressive, but not worth the two mile walk along a single track road that’s advertised as having passing places. The ’s’ in ’places’ makes it sound as if there are more than one passing place. This is a case of bad advertising I think. So we drove back into Strathaven and got some petrol for the thirsty Juke and then drove home in 24º which isn’t bad for the latter half of August in Scotland.

Scamp had decided to top up her tan in the garden when we got back and I was thinking I might take the Dewdrop out to see if there were any brambles worth picking. It looks like I was about a week early as there were very few in my favourite places. I got about 250g which is very poor. Hopefully today’s sun and the rain that’s forecast for the beginning of next week fatten up the berries I’ll get some next weekend.

What I did get was some photos of a Comma butterfly, so called because of the white ‘comma’ shape on its underwing. I also grabbed a shot of a Common Darter dragonfly feeding on a grass flower head. So not a wasted afternoon after all. Sat for an hour in the garden afterwards with Scamp, drinking Staropramen and pretending we were in a little café in Hvar.

Tomorrow looks like it will be more of the same, hopefully. That would be nice. May go to raid a garden centre!

Roundabout chaos – 23 August 2019

It was one of those days that promised a lot but failed to deliver

In the morning, it looked like it would brighten up and be a lovely day. Good wind to break up the clouds and just the hint of sunshine and blue sky now and again. However, it didn’t quite make it and it all degenerated into a dull, cloudy day.

It didn’t keep us in, not us. We were out and ready to buy a new strimmer cable and were driving merrily along past St Mo’s school when the traffic all jammed up. The lights had been switched on and they weren’t properly phased in. Confusing signals from the lights on the roundabout and drivers unsure of what was being asked of them brought the entire roundabout to a halt. Really and truly, in this day and age I’d have expected a computer model to have been built to check the traffic flow. Yes, it would have cost money, but so do six technicians wandering around with their chins on their hands, looking at the carnage on the roundabout and pretending they were thinking about it. What they were really doing was waiting for someone, anyone with a plan to tell them what they’d done wrong. Most of them were wearing brand new Hi Vis jackets, not a mark on them. These weren’t workies, these were managers, consultants and planners and all of them numpties. We managed to get through the mess and bought the strimmer cable then drove home. It was still the same when we drove round the roundabout a second time. Six numpties without a clue how to fix it. Oh dear.

We drove in to the new shops and this time we were buying!! Prices weren’t too bad. Haven’t checked the quality yet, but it’s another option for shopping and a competitor for Tesco can’t be a bad thing.

After lunch I went for a run and avoided the roundabout from hell. Drove over to Fannyside and got a few photos, but it’s just not the same as Venice or Dubrovnik, it’s just Fannyside. The best of a bad lot got PoD. On the way home, just for the fun of it, I drove round the roundabout which was doing what it says on the tin, making the traffic travel round it. Somebody, somewhere had found the solution. Ask a workie who would actually know what they were doing and get him to fix it.

Couldn’t be bothered going to the Balloon Festival tonight. No other reason, just couldn’t be bothered.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch somewhere nice.

Finally up to date! – 22 August 2019

Today the blog came up to date. Flickr’s up to date with the option to add more holiday photos when I want to. Blog is up to date and posted. Just today’s post to get done before the witching hour and all will be well.

So, today. It started out well in the morning with some sunshine and a bowl of porridge from oats I’d bought in Wales. They needed to go, as did the older ones that were taking up space in the cupboard. Today we needed a good clear out and Scamp was the one to do it! I just bought new porridge oats. She did all the cleaning of the house. I got the last of the washing into the machine.

Scamp decided that it would rain later, so it would be a good idea to cut the grass in the morning. That’s when we found the strimmer cord, not the electric cable, but the cord that whirls round at a fair rate of knots and severs the grass, was dead. Every time we pulled out a new bit and switched on the machine the cord would break again. Need to get a new cord. Bear in mind that this is the original cord. Since the grass still needed cut, we hauled out the mower and while I moved all the pots and troughs around, Scamp cut the back grass. While she was busy upstairs cleaning stuff, I offered to cut the front grass. The mower has been playing up for year, at least three years. The blade is chipped and blunt, but the dangerous bit is that the interlock that will switch off the mower when you release the handle doesn’t work any more and hasn’t for some time. For someone who is usually safety conscious, Scamp was quite laissez faire about the lack of a safety cut-off. For me, I’d say it was becoming a liability and we need to think of getting a new one. I think I may have talked her round, but if she reads this, she’ll stonewall again. Won’t you dear?

With the cleaning done and the front and back grass cut it was lunchtime. Earlier in the day I’d bitten the bullet and bought X-Plane 11. A pure indulgence. Some would call it a game, but what do they know. It’s a flight simulator with very realistic graphics and it had just finished downloading. That gave me something to do in the afternoon when the rains came. I did fly it a couple of times but had to go out and get the PoD sorted out. It turned out to be an orange Rudbeckia flower I saw in St Mo’s. Dinner was a roast chicken and it was cooking while I was out walking. Cooking in the new roasting pan Scamp had bought yesterday. It’s still sitting in that pan while I’m writing this and the smell is very tempting. Unfortunately, Scamp has just put it in the fridge so it’s out of sight, out of mind!

No plans for tomorrow yet, although we might go to the Strathaven Balloon Festival if the weather is decent tomorrow evening.