The end of August – 31 August 2020

Autumn is just around the corner.

There, that’s cheered you up hasn’t it!

First things I noticed this morning were the bumps on the Habanero peppers I’ve been growing on the window ledges in the house. This looks as if it’s the first successful pollination of the habanero. I’ve tried everything to get them to fruit.
First I tried dumping them in the garden and hoping the bees would do the job for me (and sometimes forgetting to bring the plants in again at night). That didn’t seem to work
Next I tried shaking the plants vigorously to encourage to the pollen to drop from the stamen on to the stigma. Either I shook too hard and all the pollen got knocked off the flower completely or I shook too softly and the pollen stayed where it was. For whatever reason, it didn’t work.
I tried tickling the inside of the flower with a very fine paintbrush (that’s what Colin C told me to do) and although it made the flower giggle, it didn’t produce fruit.
My last attempt was to brush my finger across the ‘naughty parts’ of the flower to force fertilisation and that may finally have done the business.
It looks like the Habaneros, both of them have succeeded in producing fruit. I’d love to know which of the tricks worked its magic. Maybe it’s a combination.
So now I have two Cayennes peppers, two Jalapeños and two Habaneros. Let’s hope there’s more on the way.

We were just sitting in the living room when I heard a plane engine that sounded faintly familiar, but unusual too.  Checked on Flightradar and it was a Spitfire passing almost directly overhead and heading south.  Dived to the door but realised the trees would be in the way and by the time we got to where we might get a clear view the warplane cruising at around 200knots would be well gone.  An opportunity missed.  The sound was the engine note of a Merlin, the legendary Spitfire power unit.

After lunch we took a walk to the shops just to get the usual essentials (without the gin this time). After we got back I decided it was time to remove the wiring for the dash cam from the Red Juke. It looked so easy, but it was an absolute nightmare getting the cable out intact. Eventually I gave up and cut the cable because I knew I’d need a new one when I was ready to fit the camera in the Micra. When I’d finally removed the last bit of the cable and its “piggy back” fuse connector, I realised that the bit that was blocking the cable’s removal was actually the ferrite choke and if I’d read the instructions on fitting the cable in the first place I’d have noticed that it was possible to unclip it from the cable and then the rest would have been easily removed. Oh well, it’s done now. To contradict the usual Haynes manual statement, in this case “Removal is the reverse of assembly”. You’d be amazed at the amount of razor sharp steel there is hidden behind the facia panels of a modern car. My hands are testament to its cutting ability.

Scamp made an Apple & Bramble pie to be the pudding for tonight’s dinner of Veg Chilli (with Flatbread).  The chilli was better today, but oh, that pie was beautiful.  Our own windfall apples and a handful of brambles.  Superb!

Fairly satisfied with my work, I grabbed my camera which seems to have the 60mm macro lens welded to it these days and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Found a conducive dragonfly and a photogenic seed head, but the PoD went to a photo of two Shield Bugs making babies, or else playing Tug O’ War.

Off to Larky tomorrow with a bit of luck to get Scamp’s new contact lenses.

Out on the bike – 30 August 2020

With a little fruit picking too.

One of those mornings when you wake early and can’t get back to sleep, so the best thing to do is get up and have breakfast. That’s what I intended to do, but instead I took breakfast back to bed and read for an hour. After that there were dishes to do (in the dishwasher) and washing to do (in the washing machine). With the machines doing all the grunt work, I settled down to read the news on my phone with a cup of coffee and a catch-up with Scamp still in University-city, St Andrews. Hung out he washing, although the complete absence of any sort of breeze meant it would take the clothes a long time to dry, despite the warm air temperature. Not to worry, I’d plenty of time.

I took the Dewdrop out for a run, but as well as my usual camera in the rucksack, I’d a couple of poly bags to collect some brambles. Now, you may know them as Blackberrys and argue that it’s the plant that’s the Bramble. If that’s the case, then you’re probably not Scottish and definitely not Central Scottish. Here it’s the economic language. Why have two names for what is essentially the same thing. The bushes AND the fruits are Brambles. That’s it settled. Those wee black berries (note the subtle difference that space makes) were in much shorter supply than I’d anticipated and it took me some time to find a good fruit bearing bush, but eventually I managed to pick just over 300g of black fruit.

While I was out I noticed a whole host of swallows congregating on the overhead lines and wondered if it’s almost time for them to make their annual migration to warmer climes.  I also wondered, as I have before, how they know it’s time and if they can sense the change of the seasons much more accurately than we mere humans can.

I’d only been home for about 10 minutes when Scamp arrived. We compared car journeys and weather, then it was time to make dinner. Tonight we were having Veg Chilli with just about everything that wasn’t bolted down going into the pot. After some delicate adjustments to the spicing and the condiments we settled down to a fairly tasty chilli. No recipe was needed or recorded. Sometimes that’s the best way, unless you want to make a second lot sometime in the future, then you’ve to try to rack your brains to remember what went into that great chilli you made ages ago. Maybe one of these days I’ll write it down, but I doubt it.

Watched the Ferraris having a terrible time at the Belgian GP with, maybe, a little snigger. Also watched George Russel escape unscathed from what could have been a very nasty accident when a wheel from another car came bounding towards him at a reported 125mph (how do they know what speed the wheel was travelling at?).
Other than that it was a dire day for Ferrari and a great day for Mercedes and Hamilton in particular.

That was about it apart from sampling another new bottle of gin with the addition of a grapefruit slice to spice things up. PoD was a picture of three cows in a field composed using rule of thirds and PoD because I liked it.

Tomorrow we have no real plans.

Up and out! – 29 August 2020

Today Scamp was off early to her pal’s caravan in St Andy’s. Posh city. I was nominated driver

There are thing you can believe and trust in, and there’s satnavs. Ours took us through every small village in Fife and missed out none but added in a few small town to even up the score. How in the name of the wee man could this conceivably be the ‘Quickest Route’. An hour and a half to travel 60 miles? Surely that can’t be right. That would mean travelling at approximately 40mph. Any slower and we’d have needed a man (or woman) in front of us waving a red flag. All to go to the posh end of Fife. However, when we got there, the caravan park we were heading for wasn’t quite what I’d expected. This was indeed Posh City. Beautiful views across sandy beaches which, admittedly, did have temperatures just into double digits today. From the panoramic windows of the caravan they look beautiful though.

Stayed a while to see Scamp settled and took the obligatory group photos and then I headed north to Leuchers to see if there were any ‘airies’ to be seen. Leuchers is no longer an official RAF base, but as Lossiemouth is having its runway relaid, Leuchers is now a temporary base to RAF fighters and reconnaissance aircraft. Just as I neared the airfield the call had seemingly gone up and the crew or scanner holding photogs were racing along the side of a farmer’s field to find a space to photograph an aircraft landing. It was definitely military and it was big, which meant it wasn’t a fighter aircraft and therefore I wasn’t interested. Let them run about like ‘maddies’. I’d done my time at that sort of thing and now I’d grown up. At least that’s what I consoled myself with as I headed further north and over the Tay Road Bridge.

I skirted the city itself and stopped to grab a shot of the “Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silvery Tay!” as McGonagall described it. It was indeed ’silvery’ today. Back on the road I stopped at Perth for coffee beans of the Cuban variety and also some of the Sumatran persuasion before pointing the Red Juke in the direction the satnav suggested which was back north. As it had actually found the caravan site, I trusted it knew where it was going and gave it its head. It did take me on to the south-bound motorway after a few circuitous routes. I can only hope that the Micra’s Tomtom satnav is more sensible in its choice of routes.

Back home I had a slice of pizza to stave off the hunger pangs before I walked down to the shops to buy tonight’s dinner (M&S Chicken Tikka Masala) and the makings of tomorrow’s dinner.  Walked back.  The brilliant blue skies of the morning had gone and were replaced by dirty white clouds.  However it was dry if not all that warm.

PoD was a shot I’d taken this morning before leaving of a Cranefly (Jenny Long Legs in Scotland), beating the Silvery Tay to second place.

Tomorrow I may go looking for brambles while Scamp heads home.

Saying goodbye over the internet – 28 August 2020

Strange days.

The day started with a webinar with the man from Falkirk. For once he didn’t have a lot to say for himself and the topics discussed by the man from Puma were way above my head. All about inheritance tax and the avoidance thereof. I don’t think that will bother us.

After lunch we said goodbye to an good friend, not a very old friend, we’d only known her for a few years, but she meant a lot to both of us and opened our eyes to a whole new world, literally. Who would have thought when we met her and Jaime that we’d be watching a live feed of her funeral in a nearly empty church in Trinidad from our own home, 4000 miles distant. Strange days.

After the service we went out for a walk round St Mo’s. Twice round the pond in the sunshine. Took some photos of the lazy dragonflies checking each other out. PoD was two competing males.

Tomorrow is an early rise for a drive to St Andrews to see Annette’s caravan.

Problems solved – 27 August 2020

Boxes ticked.

Last night after I posted the blog I’d one thing still to do. I needed to print off and sign a document to send to the garage to register my new car. The printer refused to connect. Aha, the printer, being a WiFi printer needs to be connected to the new modem. Easy, or so I thought. An hour later, much later than I intended, I climbed the stairs to my bed with the document unprinted and unsigned and a printer still refusing to connect to the modem. In that hour I’d deleted the printer driver, downloaded a fresh shiny new one from the Epson site and run the program to install the printer. I’d done it three times and each time it failed to gain access to the modem at the same point in the installation sequence. I finally resorted to connecting using the WPS button on the modem. I’d used this before on the old modem with limited success, in other words, sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Tonight it seemed to work until I tried to print, then was back to the start again. No Printer Found. Frustrated I climbed the wooden mountain. Tomorrow would be a better day, wouldn’t it?

Woke at 7am with that sinking feeling that I’d have to go through that bloody setup again. Later when we were both up and the day had started, Scamp said “Let me try.” I tried to explain that the connection had nothing to do with PCs or Macs, but had everything to do with that bloody new Virgin Media modem. I barely got started when I heard the printer give that ‘beep’ that heralds the output of a printed sheet. Yes, her HP, Windows 10 laptop printed no problem. I tried my iMac and it printed too, so did my old MacBook Pro. The connection had been made. What had happened during the night? I reckon the Good Fairy came in through the keyhole, waved her magic wand and said “You shall print again little Epson 2600.” Well, that’s as good an explanation as any I can provide. Box Ticked.

Printed the document, signed it, scanned it to a PDF and sent the resulting document off to the garage. Box Ticked.

Next task was to sort out the insurance for the new car. Tell me this. If I want to swap the insurance over from the Red Juke to the new car, why does it cost me more money? The insurance for the new car is considerably less than for the Juke. Shouldn’t they be giving me money? Silly question. It’s insurance. They take money, they don’t ever give you money back! Never mind, Box Ticked.

Three boxes ticked in 30 minutes. Time for a coffee.

We were off to Larky today. Scamp was going to get her eyes tested for new contact lenses and I was going to take some photos. It was bucketing down. Never mind, I’ve taken lots of photos in the rain and of the rain itself sometimes. Today would be fine. I dropped Scamp off and drove down to Millheugh which used to be a salmon fishing river on the banks of the Avon Water. My, my those old salmon fishers would have a hard time recognising Millheugh now, especially the river with its clumsy salmon ladder that had to be rebuilt because the old one got swept away. Today the Avon was high. I’ve seen it higher, but not for a long time. I spoke to a trio of hardy fishers who were hoping to net a salmon in the heavy spate, but without much success it seemed. They were complaining about the salmon ladder too because it had changed the entire flow of water in the river, denying them the deep pools where the big fish used to lie and extending sandbanks where there were none before. I left them to it and took some photos, about 70 of them. The one I liked best was the run off from the lade (mill race) and that became PoD.

Picked up Scamp and found that she may need a hospital visit for a second opinion on her eyes. Nothing serious, just checking. I think she’s been looking at things too much, especially gin bottles, two of which arrived today, much to our amazement after all the emails and Facebook posts. Their seals remain unbroken.

Another Line Of Duty tonight and we’re back in the “I don’t remember this one” territory. So many twists and turns.

Tomorrow we have business to attend to in the morning, but hopefully the afternoon will be dry and free for a wee run somewhere.

The calm after the storm – 26 August 2020

After another windy and wet night, today dawned (well, 9am is nearly dawn) calm if a little wet.

Yesterday Val had given me a wee sample of Cuban coffee. Just Cuban, not the Cuba Taraquin that I usually buy in Perth. I tried his coffee this morning and it was more bitter than mine and a bit thinner too. Still, really good of him to make the effort. Just what I’d expect from a good friend like Val.

After coffee and a first try at today’s Sudoku Scamp went for a walk down to the shops for the essentials which for once will not include gin. Speaking of gin is not a good thing to talk about in this house. Scamp had ordered gin from the Isle of Barra Distillers. She ordered it about 23 days ago with a promised delivery time of 7 to 10 days, and it’s still not found its way to Cumbersheugh. So this is just a warning. If you’re thinking of ordering some Isle of Barra gin for Christmas, you’re probably too late already. You should have ordered it in February … 2019.

While she fumed, I went upstairs and added the ink lines to the architectural painting I’ve been working on and then added the first of the washes. It looks ok. I won’t go any further than ok at present, but it’s better than I thought it might be.

With some better light appearing I took the Oly out for a walk in St Mo’s. Lots of dragonflies out and all of them skittish. Landing for a few seconds then off again, constantly circling the wee pond then landing on the boardwalk kerbs, probably to warm up from the reflected sunlight before their next sortie.  PoD was a close-up of a wolf spider.  It is a spider, but at first glance it looks more like an octopus!

After dinner we watched another episode of Line of Duty (soon to be abbreviated to LoD) and I’m sure we hadn’t seen that one before. Then I watched Blood of the Clans which is a fairly interesting dramatisation of Scottish history presented by Neil Oliver as he tosses his hair in the wind and walks off camera stage right. I don’t really like him, but some of his one-liners in this show are worth watching it for. Interesting to see how what we think of as modern political machinations are just variations on a theme that’s been running for centuries. Double dealing and backing both sided didn’t start in the 1980s after all.


More rain predicted for tomorrow. We’re intending to drive to Larky because Scamp needs her eyes tested. I might go for a walk down the glen.

Coffee with Val again – 25 August 2020

People will talk!

Nobody else was available today. No reply from Colin (although I did get a very apologetic phone call from him in the evening). Fred couldn’t make it because he had a prior appointment. That left the two of us to drink our cortados and eat our toasted teacakes while discussing every sort of technology that came to mind. Maybe we don’t get out much, but look at how we enjoy life when we do! Finally parted company after an hour and a half of tech talk. You’d have hated it JIC. Hazy, maybe not so much. He did drop into conversation that he’d picked up a new 10” iPad with an Apple Pencil for himself recently! He was fairly dismissive about the pencil. Not impressed, but it takes a lot to impress Val.

When we did go our separate ways, he left to go for a wander round Tesco and I went to get lunch which was a steak bake and a chicken bake from Greggs. I hate to say that my steak bake, while not containing any recognisable steak, did taste good. Not healthy, just good.

Back out of the Antonine Centre I realised that I should have offered Val a run home. The weather was ‘liquid’. It was like walking into a cold shower. Freezing cold rain battering at you on a 40mph wind. Bracing! Well, that’s one word for it, I can think of another, but I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Back home and after lunch, we both just sat watching the rain falling and the trees swaying in the wind. It was a wild day. There was no point in trying to go for a walk. Today was a day for indoor photography. Todays subject was a wee vase of Scamp’s sweet peas. A fair bit of post processing was required to pull a decent image out of the dark photo the camera and I took. I quite liked the result.

Watched another part of the Line Of Duty box set on iPlayer. Series 2 Episode 2. I think we’ve now found out where we started watching it the first time, but we need to see another episode, just to be sure. It really is intense and addictive viewing. On a similar tack; Hazy, tell Neil D I’m enjoying the book he recommended.

Tomorrow we have no plans. Yesterday was an early rise for Scamp. Today an early rise for me. Tomorrow we’re hoping for a lazier start to the day.

A Sunny Spell – 24 August 2020

Neither of us expected such a sunny day today, but we took it gladly.

Scamp was out this morning for coffee with her sister and her cousin. While they were out I completed my thumbnail sketch for my architectural painting and then worked on the light pencil sketch. None of the chunky sketch work of the Palomino Blackwing pencil, this was all done with a 0.7mm mechanical pencil. The groundwork is now almost finished, I just have to convince myself that the perspective at the front of the building is true. Once that’s done I can go on to the ink work. Phoned John and had a chat with him about the joys of retirement. Managed to finalise a date for them to come over for dinner. The last date was rather spoiled by a lockdown some time in March.

When Scamp returned with two plants from Isobel, we had lunch. After that we did a bit of gardening. Heavy duty pruning for me, using the loppers to get stuck into the big climbing rose at the back door. It’s now chopped down to head height and a bit straggly in places, but we’ll leave that until later in the year before we do the final tidying up, all being well. Scamp was finding places for the new plants to go.

Later in the warm afternoon we went for a walk round St Mo’s pond. Found two relaxed dragonflies and got a few shots. It turned out they were Common Darters, one male and one female. Just for future references, the male is smaller and red, the female is yellow ochre with red stripes down her back. They didn’t get PoD though. That went to a Harvestman which is not a spider although it looks like one. It’s in the order Opinions and joins the spiders in the Arachnid group. It’s amazing what you learn. If you look closely you’ll notice that it only has seven legs. It appears it sacrificed one, probably to save its life.

Dinner was chicken curry made from a Holy Cow mix and half the left over chicken from last night. It was hot, but tasty. Excellent flatbread, even if I say so myself with the additional secret ingredient of two dollops of coconut yogurt.

Tomorrow I’m intending meeting Val for coffee. Tried to phone Colin but it went to voicemail and Val hasn’t managed to get a reply from Fred.

Take the time to take a walk – 23 August 2020

Even in the rain.

We were denied our walk yesterday because of the crowds at Coatbridge, but today we were on home turf and we were determined to get out for a walk. We set out to walk around our Broadwood route, then the rain came on and we thought we might have to revert to a walk as far as the shops, but we held fast and continued the walk. It did rain a lot, light at first and then heavier, but we got round the route with only damp jackets, not soaked to the skin. Dropped in at M&S for a chicken, and some veg for tonight’s dinner. Walked back up the road to have lunch.

After lunch I stitched up two masks, one for Scamp and one for Shona. Shona’s was fairly easy to make and was based on the one Lucy made for Scamp and me. Scamp’s one was the basic one from a pattern Hazy gave me and was a nightmare to stitch today. Elastic slipped out of the stitches, thread broke in the middle of stitching a straight part and pleats slipped out when I was stitching them, but now they are done and I’m relatively happy with them.

Later I took a camera for a walk in St Mo’s because I’d got nothing on this morning’s walk. I managed to slide down a steep muddy bank on my hands and knees. Thankfully nobody was there to see me and I managed to clean my hands and remove most of the muck from my jeans with some wet grass. How are the mighty fallen! I did get two photos that were worth the walk, and the indignity. PoD went to a low level shot of a buttercup on the boardwalk. It was a close thing, because the next best was a tiny hoverfly sheltering beneath a grass stem.

Dinner tonight was the chicken we got in the morning, served with roasted veg. Then Scamp suggested she’d make a fruit crumble with some of the frozen fruit I’m putting into my porridge in the morning. I had to tell her that I’d planned on making that for tomorrow’s pudding. Annoyed, but Scamp’s version would always trump mine for taste, texture and just about everything else.

The rain continued on and off all evening but there was a lovely golden sunset after all that wet stuff.

Tomorrow Scamp is intending going for coffee with Isobel and whoever else turns up!

Nothing to do, Nowhere to go – 22 August 2020

Just one of those days.

Would we go out? Would we stay in? If we’re going out, then where? Eventually Scamp suggested we go to Drumpellier for a walk. We tried, but the car park was full again and there were folk everywhere. Not exactly what we were looking for. Instead of a walk, we turned around and drove through Easterhouse to The Fort. A lot had changed in Easterhouse since the last time we’d been there. Lots more housed, but still some vacant lots. Lots of new schools too. Still the same mentality though. One woman driving her Merc on the wrong side of the road, just to get into a parking space before me. I’d no intention of parking there, but still she looked ready to fight for that space. You couldn’t have got a Smart car in that space, let alone a Mercedes. The mentality definitely hadn’t changed.

The Fort was almost as busy as Drumpellier, but we did eventually find a space. I joined the queue for Hobbycraft and bought a roll of Craft Paper which we used to call Brown Paper or Wrapping Paper, 50 A2 sheets of cartridge paper and a bag of chocolate buttons. There’s probably a reason why they sell chocolate buttons in a craft shop, but I can’t quite put my finger on it at this moment. We drove home.

Back home, I grabbed two cameras and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Got a few photos using the really old E-PL5 and a fisheye lens. One of them got PoD. Quite liked the ultra wide angle effect.

Dinner was fried potatoes and tomatoes with fish fingers for Scamp and a beef burger for me. Both washed down with a glass of wine. Speaking of wine, we got our £24 box of wine from Naked Wine today. A box of six bottles for £24 is not to be sniffed at. We’ll maybe try the first bottle tomorrow, all things being equal. I don’t expect the next six bottles will be quite so inexpensive, but we’ll see what the quality is like.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go for a walk somewhere more interesting than The Fort, and also more interesting than a jam packed Drumpellier.