One of those mixed days – 23 October 2020

A day that could have been lovely and one that could have been rained off. We took the chance.

Before anything else today I drew yesterday’s sketch which is now on yesterday’s post and I was happy with it. The theme was Chef, so the chef’s hat and knife are part and parcel of his or her trade.

If you just sit there and say “It might clear up”, it never will. We’ve learned that. Take the chance and seize the day. Scamp suggested we should go to Drumpellier and she was driving. It was the right thing to do. We had a walk round the loch. I think it’s big enough to call a loch, not a pond. Lots of people walking round the pond in ones and twos and even in groups of four, but we didn’t stop them to interview them on how many households were involved and was this their region. We leave that to the FM, should she dare to do such a thing. We must have been striding out at a fair pace, because we covered the distance in no time. We did stop a few times to watch the duck, geese and swans, oh yes and I took some photos too! Quite a few. There was nowhere to have a coffee or something to eat, because it’s Coatbridge and they don’t do hospitality. Everywhere was boarded up and barricaded. It’s a virus, not the return of the Visigoths! There was an ice cream van, but with a temperature hovering around 7ºc we passed on that option and Scamp drove us home.

Back home, after inspecting today’s photos and having lunch, I walked down to the shops to get some peas for tonight’s dinner via St Mo’s. Got another couple of decent shots there. Light was that lovely golden hour just before the sun truly sets. One of them almost made PoD, but it was beaten by a gull sitting on a sculpture of a whale’s tail, taken at Drumpellier.

After dinner we did a short ballroom practise ahead of tomorrows Zoom dance. We’re not absolutely certain sure that it’s going ahead, but it’s best to do a bit of practise just in case. We were both a bit rusty on the exact moves that were joined together to make the Waltz, but Scamp was on the button with the ‘ring a ring a roses’ dance she calls Sequence. We finished up with a fair chance of not making complete idiots of ourselves tomorrow, if the dance goes live.

Today’s sketch topic was Rip. I drew a pair of ripped jeans. Everyone has a pair, I think. They are usually the most comfortable pair you’ve ever worn and it’s not that you’re mean and don’t want to spend the money on a new pair. It’s just that it took you so long to get them as comfortable as this. They have character.
Fashionable ripped jeans are a totally different thing. Not worth talking about.

Tomorrow looks like rain. We may stay in at least in the morning.

Out to Brunch – 22 October 2020

Another day to get out and about fairly early.

We were picking up Isobel at 10.15 and then we were all heading off to Calders for either a late breakfast or an early lunch, it was unclear which. I’d been warned beforehand not to order coffee because I’d be disappointed with the quality and the quantity of actual coffee in my cup. The other two had scrambled eggs and a latté each while I went for poached eggs on sourdough bread with a pot of tea. Even the tea was a bit thin and to be even more critical, the eggs were a bit underdone and tepid. Maybe a bit harsh, but I am one half of the Foodie pair. As usual, Isobel regaled us with stories about her family.

We dropped her off and drove home for a cup of real coffee each. Then I went upstairs to check out a bag full of old hard disks that had been torn from ancient computers over the years. Two went in the ‘skip bag’ and two were given a reprieve until I get a chance to download the useful stuff, then they will probably be ‘skipped’ too. In the process I discovered that one of my old removable drives was also destined for the ‘skip bag’. It had had a question mark hanging over it for a while and now it wasn’t booting up, so it is with regret that it goes in the ‘skip bag’ too. However, as Scamp keeps reminding me, that’s what’s wrong with our house. Holding on to too many things that have outlived their usefulness. That’s why I make the breakfast every second day and do my fair share of the cooking too. Otherwise I might find myself in that big blue Ikea bag with the hard disks one of these days.

While I was doing the technology thing, Scamp was shopping for dinner stuff. The dinner turned out to be Trout en Croûte. They looked a bit like sausage rolls, but tasted so much better. They were so good I was almost won over to be a pescatarian!

Before dinner I risked another soaking by going for a walk in St Mo’s. Got a few shots in among the trees. Some nice looking toadstools (not good enough to eat though) and the PoD which is a spider living life in the upside down. Managed to get my feet soaked trying to get the mud off them by paddling in the shallows of the pond. Merrel is not the company it once was. Quality has really gone downhill in the last few years.

I had found some gems in my search of the hard disks. We spent an hour tonight watching a video we’d made in Amsterdam away back in 2007. Half an hour of seeing life in a different world. Crowds of people not obeying the two metre rule and none of them wearing a mask!

You will notice the lack of a sketch today. This is due to a technical problem (I didn’t have time … or inclination.). Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow. I Lied!

On the subject of tomorrow, we have no plans as yet. Apart from two sketches!!

Wet Ones – 21 October 2020

That used to be the name of hand wipes. Now it seems an apt description of the days this week.

The sun was splitting the trees this morning and we took a chance on it staying with us when we drove over to Mugdock Park. It was a bad choice. At least, for the choice of weather it was a bad one. It rained on and off all the way there, but we’d come prepared with raincoats and boots. We needed them. It was just liquid air we were walking through for a while. Down past the old ruined ‘Big House’, then down the hill to the tree lined walk. Crossed the boardwalk over the bog to Mugdock Castle on the banks of Mugdock Loch. We were in and out of the trees all the way, but I did get a few shots through the trees and of the trees themselves. It was a bit dreich, but the colours were beautiful and the company was good. We continued round the loch in the hopes of getting a cup of coffee in one of the wee cafés, but one only had outdoor seating with no available umbrellas. One only had uncomfortable bar stools available and by that time the notion had left us. We changed our footwear and went home. Annoyingly, the closer we got to Cumbersheugh, the better the weather became and when we arrived home, blue sky was showing through the clouds.

After lunch Scamp drove to Halfords to get a rear wiper fitted. I told her I could do it. The biggest problem was taking the old one off and I’d done that at the weekend. Not without a fair bit of wrestling. With the wiper in place we tackled the scrubbing down of Scamp’s car. It needed it. One of our neighbours who was watching the action said “Oh, so it’s a Red car then!” That is its first wash this week. It’s going to need at least one more, probably in a carwash before it goes for MOT next week.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Tikka Masala and I was chef. It was a slightly less than successful curry. I don’t think I’ll be using that recipe again.

Today’s prompt was “Sleep”. Another vague request. Thinking along the lines of “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?”, I asked the question:
“Do insomniac sheep dream of counting humans?”
Answers on a postcard please.

PoD was a grab shot walking through the avenue of trees at Mugdock. I don’t know who the bloke was wearing the red jacket, but thank you sir for providing my focal point. ARPS = A Red Point Somewhere!

Tomorrow we’re booked for breakfast at Calders with Isobel. Let’s hope the rest of the day is not another Wet One!

Just walkin’ in the rain – 20 October 2020

Locked to the house again this sometimes sunny morning until yet another parcel arrived from Amazon.

After the wait and after lunch and after the sun had disappeared again we decided to go for a walk just to be out of the house. Of course it rained as soon as we closed the door, but we’d agreed we would just get wet. Drove to Auchinstarry and parked at the park. After we crossed the road the rain came down even heavier. Even so, walking through an archway of autumn coloured trees was very nice. I’d been dying to try out the new 18mm lens and this would have been a good place for it, but I’d the long lens on the camera and wasn’t going to change lenses in heavy rain. Got a few moody shots of wet weeds and a nice one of a thorny bramble stem, you can see it on Flickr.

I was keeping a weather eye on the time as I had an appointment at the makeshift clinic in the town hall at 4.30 for my flu jag. I thought we might manage to get along the old railway to Twechar and back along the canal towpath by about 4pm, but it didn’t happen. The pathway was blocked by by a fence and a council notice said no through road. Apparently they were rebuilding the pathways. Luckily we had the opportunity to cross over the plantation and back via the canal. That’s where I did manage to change lenses with only a single drip on the rear element of the new lens. It was quickly blotted off and we were in business. Took a few shots of the trees across the canal in their autumn garb and one of those became PoD. Then the rain came down again. I must go back soon on a dry day to get some quality shots of that avenue of trees.

Back home and just enough time to dump the photos before I went out to get my flu jag. Five booths operating and no waiting. In and out in a flash. Scamp made a veg stirfry for dinner and it was lovely.

Watched Bakeoff and sketched today’s prompt which was Coral. We’ve a few wee pieces of coral we picked up possibly in Tobago and possibly in Corralejo in Fuerteventura. Their source is immaterial, they were coral and that was good enough for me.

We’re hoping for a slightly drier day tomorrow and maybe the chance for a walk again.

Comings and goings – 19 October 2020

A busy day and a wet one, very wet.

Scamp was out in the morning with Veronica for coffee @ Calders. I was left to my own devices. I’d great plans for what I’d to do. Heavens I even left myself some To-Do notes last night. They didn’t take long to achieve and then there was still an hour or so left. I was waiting for two DPD men, they’re always men here, so let’s not have any complaints on that score. Take it up with DPD if you really want. Two DPD personnel, one who would hopefully be bringing my coffee order and one who would be taking away my Nikon D7000 to MPB who have agreed to pay me a fraction of what I bought it for many years ago. But as they say, all things must pass. The third person I had to wait for was the Amazon person carrying an 18mm lens for the Sony A7ii. That’s ultra-wide, but not fisheye for those who understand such things, all three of you. I sat down to struggle through a sudoku that had been bugging me since last week. Then the DPD man delivered my coffee. Life’s too short to drink bad coffee, so I was saved that ignominy. Postman delivered the news that I am booked for a flu jag tomorrow afternoon. With some time to spare, I phoned Fred for a wee chat and discuss the situation with flu jags. He got a letter this morning at 11am telling him he had a flu jag at 11.35! We’d no sooner started setting the world to rights when Scamp phoned to say she was on the way home and did I need anything for lunch. Sorted lunch and got back to sorting the world with Fred.

After lunch the second DPD man came to take away the Nikon. I was brave, I didn’t shed a tear. Scamp suggested I wait for a dry spell and go out for a walk. That’s what I thought I was doing, but I was no sooner out the door when the rain started again. I was out now and I was wet. No point in going back. Just go and get properly wet and get some photos too. I did get wet. I thought I’d got some photos too, but when I got back it looked like I’d about ten sets of three photos. Like trios, all the same, then another set of trios, all the same, but different from the first if you get my drift. Worse than that, they were all crap. All except the one you see here which I resurrected. (It’s a Larch branch with the needles starting to change colour before they fall.) Thank goodness for decent software. Think Silk Purse – Sow’s Ear. It took a while to work out what had gone wrong, but I think I’ve got it sorted now. This is the most awkward camera to get a handle on. Nothing is easy.

It was almost 7.30pm when the Amazon man knocked on the door. What hours to these people work. It almost makes me ashamed to buy things from Amazon. Of course you could argue that I’m keeping these people in a job, but at what cost? Lens looks good and does what it advertises. Ultra-wide and with autofocus and auto exposure but without the fish-eye effect. Means nothing to anyone but me and three other undisclosed photogs.

Sketch tonight was a really rough doodle that followed on from yesterday’s doodle. Not impressed with it, but what else do you draw to complete a prompt like ‘Dizzy’?

Tomorrow we’re hoping for a few dry spells. There will probably be one between 4pm and 5pm when I’ll be in the Town Hall. If there’s a chance of a dry spell earlier in the day, hopefully we’ll be out making the most of it.

Off to see David – 18 October 2020

He’s a hard man David. He stands there every day, wind, rain or shine.

We couldn’t agree what to do today. Scamp thought maybe we could walk round Glasgow Green. I wasn’t all that keen. Various other venues were discussed at length before we settled on a visit to Lakeland to get a flan dish for Scamp to make a flan in, strangely enough. That was it settled. We drove to Stirling and found the aforementioned flan dish and also found that Lakeland had fallen out with Dobbies which they used to be joined to. They had lowered the portcullis and were not receiving visitors from that shop. Dobbies had removed their outrageously expensive food shop and replaced it with a Sainsbury’s, which is probably why the portcullis was down. Otherwise the crafty Stirling folk would load their shopping basket at Sainsbury’s and waltz out through Lakeland without paying. I do hope Lakeland and Dobbies patch up their differences and exchange Christmas cards when the time is right. I hate seeing neighbours falling out.

With slightly more than the single flan dish in our bag (and paid for) we headed on to the motorway and up to see David Stirling. He was the man who invented the SAS and his statue is one of the most lifelike I’ve seen. It stands on a plinth with his greatcoat blowing in the wind and a pair of binoculars in his hand looking over to the hills he used for training his commandos in WW2. I had gone there because the view on a good day is tremendous. Today wasn’t a good day, but it gave me a chance to test and compare two camera lenses. None of the photos were going to win any prizes, but the difference in the shots was startling. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say any more on that score. Just let’s say the new camera is a STOATER!

Back home we needed potatoes for tonight’s dinner, so I volunteered to walk down to the shops and get them. On the way back I got today’s PoD which is simply two leaves stuck on a bush. You could almost say they were trapped on the bush and that would lead you neatly on to …

Today’s prompt was Trap and the sketch you see here is my answer to that request. There has been a bit of discussion going on at Inktober 2020 about the relevance of this year’s prompts, and some folk are saying they think it’s a good thing to have vague prompts. They make you move out of your comfort zone. I see where they are coming form with that argument but too many vague prompts make you think of simply giving up.

It was a sad day for me today. I packed up my old trusty D7000 ready to be uplifted by the man from DPD tomorrow to go to MPB to be sold to someone who would hopefully get the same amount of joy from it that I did. Look after the 7000 whoever you are and it will produce great pictures, just the same as it has done for me almost 23,000 times.

Tomorrow, it will be a day of comings and goings photography wise. Scamp is out in the morning with Veronica for coffee at Calders where I’m told not to go because they don’t serve what I would call coffee.

Oh yes, the Flan!! Wonderful. Worth the trip to Stirling to get the dish. Not any good for you Hazy, too many eggy weggies I think!

Dull’s sometimes all we have – 17 October 2020

Not the brightest of days. I think you feel it worse after two really bright ones!

Didn’t do much today at all. Scamp walked down to the shops in the early afternoon and after that I took the new toy out for a walk around St Mo’s. This was about 4pm and you could feel that the light was disappearing fast. The best shot I got was of this tiny wee toadstool among the grass of the school football park and that made PoD. That was it. It felt so wrong after three days of good weather. Unfortunately it looks like it’s set to get even worse next week, or so the weather fairies say.

Prompt for today was Storm. Not the easiest thing to translate into a sketch. Of course I could have drawn wind blown yachts or crashing waves, but that’s what everyone else would be doing. Where ’s the fun in that?

Watched a tedious Strictly intro that lasted for hours, or so it seemed. I think they should give it a rest for a year or so.

Here endeth the musings of Zog for today.

Hopefully we’ll get out somewhere tomorrow, even if it is dull.

Another up and out day – 16 October 2020

Or maybe more of an ‘out and up’ day.

A more gentle start though. Spoke to Hazy who seemed impressed with yesterday’s Blog warning. First warning she’s had that there’s something she might not want to see. It’s usually JIC that gets the ‘Technospeak’ fake HTML meta text. We both enjoyed the wee chat this morning Hazy.

Today Scamp suggested we tackle Croy Hill. Not a great ascent, nor a very long one, but steep enough in places to challenge us ‘auld yins’. Stopped quite a few times to admire the view and the way the light was changing as it swept across the land. Good to see the colours in the trees turning golden brown and the low autumn light picking out the textures. While we were up at the site of the Roman fort, we could see the heavy grey clouds sliding in from the east and decided it would be a good move to make our way back down to the car. We still took our time, enjoying the scenery as we walk down.

By the time we got back to the car the clouds had indeed rolled in and banished the blue sky. As an introduction to walking in the hills (not hillwalking) it was fine. Not too demanding and the ascent and descent took about an hour and a half. It gave us the incentive to try another hill soon. It looks like we may try the new path up Bar Hill, which has a more complete looking ground plan of a Roman fort. I climbed it many years ago from the other, steeper side. The path from the Croy side looks a bit easier, but we’ll see.

Not much else of interest today. I raked the leaves from the back garden (these trees are SO untidy). Scamp made the dinner which was a Cauliflower and Potato Gratin. All her own design and it worked really well. Another to add to the recipe list.

PoD was a view from near the top of Croy Hill looking over to Bar Hill, probably our next target. It’s the only Bar in Central Scotland that’s open this month!

Today’s prompt was ‘Rocket’.  I could have drawn a spotty wee ned in a baseball cap shouting “Ha! Ya rocket!!”, but that would have required too much translation for anyone outside the Central Belt of Scotland.  For those outside that region, it means “Oh you stupid boy”.  There is a female form of ‘rocket’, but it would … require a Parental Advisory label. For those reasons, I chose to draw a cartoon rocket instead in the style of Hergé.  It’s so much easier to draw nouns than verbs or adjectives or transferred epithets (no, I don’t know what they are either). So my answer is a simple drawing for a simple request.

Tomorrow we might just be able to go for a walk again if our legs haven’t seized up with today’s ascent!

Up and out – 15 October 2020

Today was a bit busy in places, so we had to take advantage of a couple of hours free time.

Out just after 10am and pointed Blue to Fife. Oh dear, I think that may be outside “Our Area”, but there were no roadblocks. Not checking of licences plates. No NPR cameras flashing at us as we passed. All was well and arrived in Culross to a fairly calm Firth with the tide well out. We walked along the side of the old disused railway as far as Preston Island which isn’t an island any more since the Coal Board dumped the ash from Longannet power station there and reclaimed a fair acreage of land. Unfortunately Longannet is now in the stage of being decommissioned, so there will be no more landfilling at Preston Island. It’s lagoons will remain landlocked. It was a beautiful morning and we both thoroughly enjoyed the walk. By the time we got back to Culross the tide was almost fully in and that’s where I got today’s PoD. A view across the firth to Bo’ness. We passed a couple of folk busking beside the path on the way to the car. Woman playing fiddle and man playing guitar and singing. Older than the usual buskers, just a bit younger than us in fact. We had no money and they didn’t have a card machine, so we thanked them for the music and told them we’d enjoyed it. Maybe next time we’re out we’ll take some ready cash.

I was expecting a delivery from DPD who always give you a one hour time slot for deliveries. I was buying a spare battery and charger for the Sony camera. It arrived dead on time as Scamp was raking the leaves from the front grass an giving it a good scratch too, to clear the moss. After that I went out for a walk with the Oly, just in case it felt a bit lonely sitting in the bag and not getting out to play. Got a few shots, but nothing to match the morning ones. While I was out, Scamp was off getting her flu jag. When I got back from the walk she was back home and none the worse for her ordeal. With the sun still shining I gave the car its first shampoo. It wasn’t as dirty as I thought, but it doesn’t do to let the bird crap sit on the paintwork. It’s quite acid and can cut through the gloss coat on the paint.

Job done, I started to make dinner and right in the middle of that, the Tesco order arrived. I told you it was a day that was busy in places. Now you know what I mean.

Today’s sketch was Outpost, which I presume is intended to be linked to the film of the same name. I don’t do films, so had to rely on Wikipedia for the information. I ignored it anyway and drew a sketch based on the folly on Kinnoull Hill just outside Perth.

Tomorrow we may go out for a walk if the weather is being sensible.

A day for getting things done – 14 October 2020

The sewing machine came out for a while.

I’d misplaced one of the pleated masks I’d made for myself and it was the most comfortable one I had. The fitted masks are very neat, but they don’t feel that comfortable on, especially when you need to talk. Talking and yawning mean the mask has to stretch and because I’m making the masks from cotton fabric, which doesn’t stretch, so instead it rides up over my chin or pulls down exposing my nose to the cold. They may look elegant, but the pleated mask has enough stretch in the pleats to allow some jaw movement. Besides they are easier to make, once you work out how to stitch pleats. I should have said they are usually easier to make. Today the stitching fairies were having a day off. However, after an hour or so both Scamp and I have a new mask each. Scamp has stars on one side (to celebrate the fact that she’s just announced that she can see Mars tonight) and stripes on the other! Mine has Dr Who on one side and frogs on the other. Stylish!

After the swearing and the stitching I took the Sony 7 out for a walk in St Mo’s, but the light was low and results were disappointing. The brightest thing I saw was the PoD. It’s a Berberis bush that grows beside the path to St Mo’s. Beautiful orange and red leaves. So startling against the dark green foliage. Ticks the box every autumn. While I was out I saw a long skein of geese coming in from the north west and heading almost directly overhead. They were constantly separating into smaller groups and then rejoining. ‘Talking’ to each other all the time. Fascinating.

Fish and Chips for dinner tonight. What’s not to like and Scamp had baked a couple of cakes too!

Sketch topic was Armour. My take on modern armour is a motorcycle helmet, and that’s what you see here.

Tomorrow we may go for a run somewhere, although we need to be back for Scamp to get her flu jag. Let’s hope it doesn’t hurt.