27º in Scotland? – 31 July 2020

That just can’t be right, surely? Yet, that was what the thermometer in the car read. The outside temperature this afternoon was 27ºc.

We knew it was going to be hot today, but although we’d been warned, we just didn’t believe it until it happened. We’d decided that we would go out somewhere for a walk. We’d considered and rejected a few places. There was no point in going to the seaside because everyone would be going there. We finally settled on Chatelherault which was once the hunting lodge of the Dukes of Hamilton. Now it’s a country park in South Lanarkshire. Every time I go there I think it’s obscene that one family should have owned such a house in an enormous tract of land while others, the workers, were living in slum conditions with a tiny postage stamp of a garden to grow basic vegetables if they were lucky. Thankfully this building and its lands are now owned by South Lanarkshire Council and are open to everyone, even the scruffs from North Lanarkshire!

We chose a walk that we’d been on before, down through the gigantic pine trees with the Avon Water flowing below us. At the end of the walk we saw this view and it became PoD. It was good to see the ordinary folk staking their claim to some space in the sun on such a bright and sunny day. Actually it wasn’t all that sunny, but it was bright and warm and a clever bit of software changed the sky from milky white to summer blue with fluffy clouds. That’s the way it should have been anyway!

Once we’d walked “round the policies” as Colin would say, we drove home leaving a parking space for one of the eagle eyed visitors. Drove home and had lunch, then sat in the warm air of the garden for a while reading and listening to weans with their Drum ’n’ Bass ‘thumpy tunes’ as they walked along the footpath behind the house. Were we like that once? I suppose we were. Rebels without a clue. Found a little neon blue weevil in the grass and took its photo before it flew away to its next modelling assignment. Still don’t know exactly what it was.

Dinner tonight was a freezer raid for me. Butcher’s burger from January, butcher’s sausages from May, Waitrose liver from yesterday and an egg from a different butcher and half a portion of fried potatoes. A very mixed grill, but delicious. Scamp had trout fillet with the other half portion of fried potatoes. It was clouding over and attempting to rain by the time we were finished dinner and on to pudding (blackcurrant jelly and ice cream) and soon after that came a flash of lightning and the rumble of thunder. The rain became torrential and I think you could say the heatwave was over, but we did get 27ºc on the way home from Chatelherault.

Tomorrow the temperature is predicted to be a more reasonable 17º to 19º. Warm, but not crazy warm. We’ll see.

Rain in all its forms – 30 July 2020

Today was wet, really wet, soaking wet in fact.

It was that typical Scottish summer day. Every form of rain you could imagine falling incessantly from the sky. It didn’t come as a surprise, we knew from the weather reports that today was going to be a washout, so we’d planned for it. We went for the messages!

We drove to Waitrose in Stirling in the morning. We needed shopping and there was no point in wasting the warm sunny day that had been promised for Friday, so we thought it made sense to use up Thursday wandering round Waitrose filling a trolley. When we got to the till I thought we’d actually managed to buy Waitrose. We nearly did.

Coming back, the rain was even worse and the spray thrown up by the cars was like diving through fog. I was amazed at the number of drivers who chose not to use lights. The ones who had no rear lights were bad enough, but it was the ones who didn’t even daytime running lights who were the worst. A grey car driving through heavy spray on a dull day without lights is almost invisible from front or rear. Rant over.

The rain continued into the afternoon and as I didn’t have a photo, I took a walk in the rain to see if I could find some moody raindrop pictures. Instead I found some Yarrow plants. One shot of them became PoD.

After dinner I settled down to paint a wee jam jar of lavender flowers. Scamp had cut them yesterday and I’d dropped them into an jam jar of water to stop them wilting. Today that jam jar and its flowers became the subject of a wee watercolour. It’s up on Instagram, but I’ll let you have a look at it here too. I’m quite pleased with it.

Tomorrow is forecast to be the best day of the week with predicted temperatures in the mid 20s here in the Central Belt. Down in London it’s going to be over 30º. Too hot for me! Hope you enjoy it Hazy and Neil-D. Hope the Cambridge pair have a more sensible temperature.

We may go for a walk somewhere if tomorrow is going to be Summer!

Old Friends – 29 July 2020

Today we went to see a couple of old friends.

Scamp and I went for a wee run today to see a couple of old friends. One with his head always down. Some folk say he’s watching you. The other one has his head high. Some think he’s in pain, I think he’s laughing out loud at all these little folk around him. It’s ages since we’ve visited the Kelpies, not been there for months and I think Scamp was looking forward to seeing them again. I must admit I was too. Because of the Covid-19 restrictions, the Visitor Centre was closed, but there was an ice cream van and it seemed a shame on quite a sunny day not to have one each. We walked around them and then followed our noses to the lock that allows boats access to the River Carron and thence to the Forth Estuary and the sea. We were waiting to allow a couple to cross the narrow walkway over the lock gates when I recognised them. One was a teacher in the school when I started and the other was his wife. We stood and talked for a while about our respective families. We also talked about folk we’d known and worked with, some of whom are no longer with us. Eventually we had to go, but as usual when something like that happens throughout the afternoon little snippets of memories drop into place. A nostalgic meeting. They walked back to their car and we carried on with our walk on the far side of the canal.

For all the times we’ve visited the Big Horses, this is the first time we’ve crossed the canal and seen them from the other side. You get a completely different view of them from the other side and best of all there are no pylons or power lines to erase from the resulting photographs. Today’s PoD came from the bridge further back upstream, if you can have an upstream is a canal. I’d never photographed them from that viewpoint before and it’s such a natural choice with the Ochil Hills in the background.

Back home after lunch, Scamp wanted to prune back the blackcurrant bush in the hopes that she can get rid of the virus or insects that are damaging it, I don’t think either of us is really sure that it will work, but if we don’t try, we’ll never know. I got my hands dirty planting some more carrots and kale into pots to go in the greenhouse. The kale should be ok, but I’m not sure if the carrots will work. I’ve never been successful with transplanting root crops. I also bit the bullet and spread slug pellets in the raised bed. I don’t like using them where I’m growing stuff to eat, but I reckon it’s the slugs that have taken all the carrot plants I had there. There are definitely traces of slugs on the well eaten kale leaves. I checked them and there are no signs of caterpillars, so slugs are the best bet. Let’s hope they like their last meal of blue slug pellets.

That was about it for the day. A day at the Kelpies is always uplifting, but meeting another couple of old friends just made it extra special.

Tomorrow rain is forecast, so we may ‘Go for the Messages.”

Off the leash – 28 July 2020

Scamp was off to a Witches housewarming and I was off the leash for a couple of hours.

Did a bit of shopping while Scamp was getting ready. Just the usual essentials, bottle of Prosecco, box of chocolates and a box of fancy biscuits, oh yes, and a box of Wheetabix, that was for me. The rest, or at least part of it was to go to the Witches party. Lunch for me was one of yesterday’s rolls with some cooked ham. Ham was lovely, roll was dry and cheuch (that means tough). Scamp was off to afternoon tea and Champagne. How the other half live, eh?

When Scamp was safely driven off to the party I settled down to clear up the painting room again. Hoovered most of the scraps of cloth from the floor, picked up all the little bits of black thread that get everywhere. Read a painting book to give me some inspiration – that didn’t help. Put away the sewing machine, started filling a bag with rubbish. I just couldn’t settle down to do anything. Finally gave up and went downstairs to fight with Luminar 4, a piece of software that’s main claim to fame is that it can fake a sky into a picture to persuade all but the most ardent pixel peepers that it’s real. Well, that’s what it did up until the last update. Now it’s become an expert beachball spinner. In other words, as usually happens with clever apps and even clever app designers, it has become top heavy in bloat and can produce really good effects if you’ve got the time to sit and watch the pointer turn into a spinning beach ball for five minutes every time you move the mouse. I’d have thought it would be easy to uninstall it and just reinstall the previous version, but apparently you can’t do that losing all your previous work. Emailing Tech Support doesn’t help, perhaps because they’re inundated with emails from people like me disgruntled at this ill thought out upgrade.

Now there’s a thing. The word ‘disgruntled’. The ’dis’ part usually means ’the opposite of’ as in disassembled or disagree. If that’s the case, is ‘gruntled’ the opposite of ’disgruntled’? Answers on a postcard please to the usual address.

Eventually I had to drag myself away from the computer and go for tonight’s dinner requirements. Walked down to the shops after leaving Scamp a message. Hoping afterwards that here eyesight wouldn’t have been too seriously damaged by a surfeit of champagne and cocktails to be able to read it. It wasn’t, she was back when I returned. Back with stories of the beautiful house with carefully colour matched walls, carpets, curtains and dog. If she changes the colour scheme for the house will she need to change the dog too, I wondered. Dinner was Chicken and Chorizo Jambalaya and it was good!

Actually did a fifteen minute sketch of a guy we used to meet at Salsa. Pencil sketch which was deemed pretty good by Scamp. PoD was a bunch of rowan berries on the back door tree.

Tomorrow looks like a reasonable day, so we may go somewhere interesting.

One really wet day – 27 July 2020

Dreich – a well used Scottish word summed up today.

Rain in all its forms today. Heavy rain, light rain, smirr, drizzle, we had them all. Then after a full day of the wet stuff it dried up about 8pm and gave us a beautiful sunset. That’s Scotland for you.

Spoke to Hazy on the phone for a while in the morning and spoke to JIC in the evening, so it was a fairly phone filled day as you will find out below.

Scamp’s sister came over from Eastfield to have her lunch and a natter, leaving me a chance to get the sewing machine out and create another face mask. I wasn’t totally happy with it, in fact it’s one of the worst designs I’ve seen so far. It goes in the bin.

Because of the weather, there wasn’t much chance to take any outside photos. The closest I got was taking out my chilli plants to get watered with clean, unchlorinated stuff, but I had a look around and couldn’t see anything worth switching the camera on for.

Later in the afternoon Scamp brought a Ruby Wedding rose in from the garden to prevent it being battered by the rain. I took one look and decided I’d found my PoD. Beautiful texture and colours with a few raindrops to give some highlights. Done!

Most of the rest of the day was spent tweaking the last few apps on Scamp’s new A41 phone. It’s much like mine, but her apps are nothing like my collection, so I was working with one eye on the phone and one on the help files I’d found on the net. Together the two eyes finally got the better of the phone demons and everything fell into place.  I think that’s us all set.  The phone number is updated. Most, if not all the apps are in place and working.  Just a few more checks and we’re done.

Struggling with Luminar 4 now on the Mac.  It used to work really well, now after an update it’s going like an arthritic slug.  Do slugs get arthritis, I wonder? If they don’t, they should. They’ve eaten holes in my kale plants and I’m sure its them that are responsible for  the disappearing carrots.  I’ve had enough for one day.  I’m off to bed.

Scamp is out with the Witches tomorrow and it looks like a good day.  I may go out and take some photos.

Just one of those unpredictable days – 26 July 2020

Rain and grey skies to begin the day. Brighter with blue skies to end it.

It’s Scotland, what do you expect. We sat watching the rain for most of the morning, then after lunch things started to improve and we guessed we could risk a short walk.

Before that, there were chilli plants to bring out into the sun and sweet peas to cut before they became too leggy. Also there was a fair wind blowing at times and Scamp was worried that the topmost growth would be broken, so better to cut it back a bit, rather than risk damage.

Since the sun was still shining, we walked over to St Mo’s and then went twice round the pond, because the breeze wasn’t too cool and the sun on our faces felt good, well, it did feel good to me, anyway. We even saw a dragonfly, the first for ages, weeks even. At first it was a bit skittish but then I think it realised we weren’t a danger to it and it settled on the boardwalk to allow me to photograph it. I’d only brought the 30mm macro lens which requires you to be fairly close to the subject to get a decent photo, but this little insect wasn’t bothered in the slightest, just as long as I didn’t make any quick movements, which I didn’t. Today’s PoD is testament to my patience and it’s relaxed approach to humans.

Back home it was almost dinner time and I’d a steak to cook. Scamp was having salmon as usual. The steak was just ok. It was a bit thinner than I’d expected and I think I over cooked it a bit. It was half price though, so I shouldn’t complain.

Painted Hazy’s little Joan of Art paint tin as a watercolour sketch. I painted it on a wee pad of watercolour paper I found. So much nicer to paint on than the sketch book which is better for drawing on.

The news today is that people returning from all of mainland Spain and its islands must self-isolate for 14days on return.  It looks like it’s not all over yet.  Personally I blame Bumbling Boris for bragging that it will all be over before Christmas.  I seem to remember that phrase from somewhere.  It was wrong then too.

It looks like the weather tomorrow will be wet, very wet at times. June may be visiting us. Let’s hope it’s not wet all day. I want some more dragonfly pictures.

Just sitting in the sun – 25 July 2020

Listening to music.

After yesterday’s frantic hither and thither driving and wheeler dealing, today was quite placid by comparison. No plans, just some stuff to take to the skip, quite a lot of stuff, actually. Loads of cardboard boxes, some garden rubbish and the old grass hoover.

By the time I’d had my morning coffee and made inroads into today’s Sudoku it was time to get started. I loaded the car up and drove off to the skips. Noticed the line of cars when I got there, but didn’t realise this was the queue for the dump. Drove to the end of the queue and parked with the engine off. Played some music from Spotify to have something to do while I sat in the sun and waited. Actually it didn’t take long for the queue to start moving. The sun was out, it was pleasantly warm sitting in the car listening to some music I’d put into a playlist and flicking past the ones that didn’t inspire me. Then a bloke from NLC asked me for ID. It felt a bit like Alice’s Restaurant, but most of you are too young to understand the implications there. Look it up and if you get the chance, listen to Alice’s Restaurant by Arlo Guthrie. I didn’t really have proof of address with me, then I hit on my bus pass. That confirmed that I lived in North Lanarkshire Council area. Would that do? The bloke said yes that was fine. Finally he asked, almost as an aside where did I live. I told him and he smiled and waved me on. I’m guessing that as we are right next to three other council areas, they don’t want ‘outsiders’ dumping their rubbish in Cumbersheugh. As if anyone would notice. Anyway, half an hour had passed fairly quickly. We had nowhere else to go today anyway and I’d added three more songs to my latest playlist. Dumped the stuff and was on my way home.

Later in the afternoon we walked over to Condorrat to get a steak for dinner for tomorrow’s dinner for me, some eggs, black pudding, sausages and also some chicken for tonight’s dinner and walked back.

Back home I packed my camera and a long lens just in case I saw something interesting at the pond and walked round St Mo’s then back down behind the school were there are more interesting insects. Grabbed two shots of a little moth. The head was sharp in one and the wings in another. ON1 2020 made light work of joining the two parts into a convincing whole. That became PoD. See if you can see the join.

Painted a trio of sweet pea flowers in the afternoon too. Posted on Instagram and FB. That was our nice lazy Saturday. Weather was fairly pleasant. Not too hot, but dry after last night and early morning torrential showers.

Tomorrow we have no real plans, I’m sure we’ll find something to do.

Phone – 24 July 2020

Today we to get a new phone. That should be easy, shouldn’t it?

Not so in the new world we now live in. First stop was Tesco. The cheapest and easiest to access. Two people working in the Tesco Mobile booth but only one allowed to serve customers. The other was managing the queue, i.e. Scamp. She got a price and they had the phone in stock. We were one step on the way to a successful conclusion.

To get a broader view of the other options we drove to Coatbridge, using my route, not the scenic route we took earlier in the week. Went to Carphone Warehouse at Currys. No queue this time and the girl went through the standard procedure of noting down everything up to and including what Scamp had for breakfast (Kellogg’s Special K with strawberries.). Only once she’d confirmed that Scamp didn’t want a contract with Vodafone and that she didn’t want to go with in-house iD, she told us that they didn’t have the phone she was looking for in stock and they wouldn’t be available until Monday – note, she didn’t say which Monday! We said no thanks and left to go home for lunch, but next door was an Argos where EE are based these days. Lady at the door said there wasn’t anyone at the EE stand as he was at lunch. Only one person selling? And then, only when he was there. Didn’t sound good, but par for the course these days.

After lunch we went to Bishopbriggs to another Carphone Warehouse in Currys. Waited in the queue where only one person was actually selling. After half an hour of standing around a second Carphone Warehouse operative told us that they didn’t have the phone in stock there either. Very popular he said. We’d guessed that.

Drove back to Cumbersheugh and finally sealed the deal for roughly the same price as Carphone Warehouse were promoting with EE, but that was with a ghost phone. PAK code has been entered and the final switch over should happen by Tuesday. Apparently computers don’t work weekends.

A lot of the time was spent standing around waiting in a queue. We can partly blame Covid-19. How can Tesco manage to hold a stock of phones when Carphone Warehouse seem unable to. A what the hell, Scamp has a new phone.

As for the rest of the day. When we got back home we assembled the new grass hoover and Scamp hoovered the front grass. Her first thoughts are that it’s not as good a cut as the old one, but it’s much lighter. We need to make some adjustments to the cut height and after that it should be better.

I managed an hour before dinner taking photos of ‘beasties’. Mainly hover flies and other insects. A couple of shots of a little froglet or toadlet too. It was a dusty little hover fly that got PoD.

No plans for tomorrow. It looks wet in the morning, the aftermath of the rain that’s battering down just now, but better in the afternoon. We won’t be driving far, the poor Red Juke it tired out tonight.

A Visitor – 23 July 2020

A busy morning in the house.

Visitor coming today, so the house had to be made to look like a house and not a jumble sale. Tables to clear, floors to hoover and work to be done elsewhere. Scamp’s aunt/cousin (It’s complicated as most families are) was coming to visit and Scamp wanted everything looking nice. I did my best. I cleared the table. It took three armfuls and three journeys up and down the stairs to put most of the stuff away in the back room. Now I can’t find anything in the back room, but that’s ok, because I’m the only one who goes in there. Scamp just opens the door, looks in and sighs.
Isobel had been complaining to Scamp the last time they were on the phone that her daughter had bought her a mask, but it was really uncomfortable, so I suggested I make her one as a belated birthday present. That seemed to pass muster as a good idea. So that was my job thing morning after the table clearance. I got it finished just before lunch.

After lunch, Scamp went out to get Isobel. She had a new knee fitted earlier in the year and has some mobility issues as a result, so we’d agreed that Scamp would pick her up and I would drop her back at the house later. While she was out, I grabbed my camera and went out to see if I could get any photos. Found a tiny little orange spider in the middle of its web on a gypsophila plant. Got a few photos of it, but of course it was that first one that got PoD. The raindrops looked like star trails coming out of the web.

When they arrived Scamp gave Isobel the Royal Tour of the front garden. Then it was coffee time and a wee natter before we reviewed the back garden. She seemed quite impressed and the garden did look good in the sunshine. After a while Isobel announced it was time for her to go back home and I was chauffeur. Got her settled and had a walk round her garden, amazed as always at her memory for all the plants names.

Took my leave and drove home via Tesco to fill up the thirsty Juke. I was chef tonight and it was an old favourite, paella. Not real paella, because I can’t eat mussels, but it’s a fair compromise that looks and tastes like a real paella.

No sketch tonight, at least, not one posted. I did sketch half a pepper, but it’s not worth posting. Lockdown Library may be closed, but I still intend to post any decent sketches on Instagram and Facebook. Just not every day.

Tomorrow we may go somewhere nice for a walk.

The Grass Hoover – 22 July 2020

It was an uninspiring day. It rained from morning until night.  A day for clearing up loose ends.

We had decided yesterday that if today was as bad as predicted, we’d go and look for a new grass hoover. You know, one of those things that you run over your grass, it cuts it, then hoovers it all up. Some call it a lawn mower. We don’t have a lawn, we have grass, that’s why we need a grass hoover

Drove up to B&Q. They had the model Scamp was interested in, but only on display. No big boxes with the real thing in them. Nearest B&Q that had them was in Coatbridge. Just for fun I set the satnav to take us to Coatbridge. Firstly it got lost. It took us along the M80, then told us to take a slip road and go back the way we’d come. I ignored it. It could have taken us off at the next but one turn off , but no, it knew a better way. We went the scenic route via Hamilton. A seven mile trip that ended up consuming about 20 miles of road. It did find B&Q though.

Thankfully they did have the big orange box with the grass hoover in it. We wandered around and around the grass cutting toys, but we couldn’t decide which one to get. Eventually Scamp chose the one we’d been looking for from the start. It went into the Juke’s vast storage space easily and we drove home … my way. Took about half the time the satnav had wasted getting there.

The rain had not let up all day, so there was no point in unboxing the grass hoover, it wasn’t going to hoover up any grass today. It’s still sitting in the hall, sleeping in its box.

In the afternoon I grabbed a few shots in the garden during a dry spell. That’s where today’s PoD came from. It’s raindrops on the seed head of an Allium. With one in the bag I could relax a bit. Next was dinner prep. Today we were having a Chilli non-carne, in other veg chilli and I was chef. While I was making it, Scamp was trying to do a deal with Vodafone to get an upgrade to her four year old Samsung phone. She was unsuccessful. So, it looks like she’ll be leaving Vodafone. Well, it did until she found that she can get a better deal by leaving Vodafone with her PAK code and going to Carphone Warehouse and getting them to give her a deal with … Vodafone for about a fiver a month cheaper than Vodafone were offering. Are you still with me? I’m not sure I am.

Today was number 100 of the Lockdown Library on Instagram and Facebook. Since one hundred was a nice round number, I thought I’d finish the Library there. That does not mean the drawings and paintings will cease. Oh no, you don’t get away that easily.

We think Isobel is coming to lunch tomorrow, so there will be a fair bit of tidying, polishing and hoovering (not grass) tomorrow morning. Let’s hope it’s a better day than today so she can have a look round the garden.