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New Boots and Panties! – 7 June 2019

It was one of those days when I couldn’t settle.  Eventually Scamp talked me down.

What I did do was to solve today’s Fiendish level Sudoku with the new method which I got from YouTube of all places.1 I’m really impressed with this method.

With that out of the way we wandered in to Glasgow to look for a pair of boots for me. Ostensibly to replace both the leaking pairs I have. Probably I’ll keep the Clarks pair which don’t leak quite as badly and ditch the Lafuma ones. They look good, they just leak like a sieve now. Rather than throwing them out, I’ll probably put them in the next Salvation Army bag that arrives. They may not be good for walking through puddles, but they will keep someone’s feet warm in the winter. Tiso was the first, and only stop. I tried on a pair of boots that were the right size and lo and behold, not only were they a fit, they were also a comfortable fit. I’ve been wearing them all night just to make sure they are the ones for me and I’m comfortably sure they are.

Sat down for a while and painted A Stone.  Well, actually it’s a dry stane dyke, but it does contain at least one stone.

Back home via Robroyston for a coffee in Costa and a chance to stock up on messages at Asda. Next stop was Tesco for a bottle of rum – well, it is Friday. Then home, where I decided to wash the car and rinse it off with water from Bobby Flavell’s outside tap. Such a great idea, having an outside tap. So much easier than carrying buckets of water and getting soaked trying to wash off the roof or the Juke. Also allowed me to hose out the depressions where the wipers sit. The hose makes short work of all the fermenting flower heads and general gunge from the trees overhead. Thank you Bobby.

With the car dripping, it was time to go for a walk in St Mo’s to get some photos. Not a lot to see and the light was quite low. Managed a better view of the scary fly from yesterday. Maybe not that exact fly, but certainly one of that genus. Hopefully someone on Flickr will be able to ID it for me. PoD went to the close up shot of the daisies. Both Scamp and I agreed on that.

That was about it for the day. We shared a fish supper tonight and for the second time “Well, it is Friday.” Suffering a bit for it now, but it was delicious at the time.

Tomorrow? I think it’s going to be up fairly early and out.


  1. This is really a marker for me so that some time hence I can remember where I found this time saving tip. 

Is that deer? – 6 June 2019

Yes it is!

Off early to the blood letters this morning to give a tiny little amount of blood to the lab in Monklands. For some reason they wanted some of my pee too. Strange people in Monklands.

Back home for a cup of coffee and a chance to solve today’s medium strength Sudoku. Still sticking to my new method. It may not be faster and it may not do away entirely with the need for full pencil marks, but it makes the solving of the harder puzzles a bit more interesting and after all, that’s part of the reason for doing them.

With that done I tried switching on the new six year old camera and as soon as I half pressed the shutter, I knew that something was wrong. I hate cameras that beep to tell you they have found something to focus on. It’s the first thing I change on a camera – set it to silent. This one beeped. When I checked, everything was back to its out-of-the -box state. Oh dear. Reprogrammed it, removed the battery, counted to ten and replaced it. Sure enough. It’s short term memory was gone! Phoned the company MPB who I’ve never had any complaints with before and the lady there said I could spend it back for a refund or a replacement, except when we both looked on the website, there were no other E-M1s available. After a flood of emails between us in the next few hours, we finally agreed that I would try the camera for another week and if there was no improvement, I’d return it for a refund.

After lunch we went to Muirhead to the butchers to get some venison. I’d already ordered the meat earlier in the week. As she was weighing the meat I asked the woman behind the counter how much it would be. When she told me, she must have thought it was a bit expensive because she asked me “Is that dear?” (Scots for “Is that expensive”). I said “Yes! It is deer.” She just said “Oh!” Two or three minutes later she burst out laughing. The penny had finally dropped. I don’t think she’ll ever forget that conversation.

I took the camera out for a walk when we came back and it worked perfectly. Everything I’d programmed into it were retained. Hopefully it will stay that way now. There wasn’t much worth photographing in St Mo’s and PoD went to the little scary looking fly.

I didn’t manage a decent sketch of something “Shiny and Metallic”, so as a replacement, I give you a shot of a little prezzy Scamp gave me on Monday. Just so Scottish! Thank you Scamp. May need a little explanation for those of an English disposition!

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow to get me a new pair of walking boots.

Private lesson – 5 June 2019

Private lesson for two couples

Drove in to Glasgow through some torrential rain to find that there were only four of us, just two couples. We had a whole hour with teacher Ann Marie while the other couple had one of the experts, Heather. The great thing about Ann Marie is that she asks you what you want to do and then goes over that in detail. So, not only a private lesson, but an own design private lesson. We went over some of the Jive steps that were bugging us and then we ironed out my problems with the fish-tails and running steps in Quickstep. We also learned the Two Handed Cuff and improved on our Bumps in Jive. Came home after a coffee in Nero to give us some time to review the lesson.

Later in the afternoon I took a couple of cameras over to St Mo’s and everything fell apart. Not only did the camera start to vastly over-expose, but then it got itself stuck in electronic shutter mode and wouldn’t come back out again. Nothing I did would make it work. It all started when I stuck on the Samyang 7.5mm and the image started shaking and jumping in the viewfinder. After that, nothing would work again. Eventually I gave up and came home. Finally got it to do a full reset, after which it was back to normal and working well. I think the Samyang had messed with one of the esoteric settings I’d set up over the last week and the full reset put everything back to normal. Scary time though. I had visions of an irate phone call to Brighton followed by parcelling up the new ‘Toy off the Rack’ and sending back. Neither of these are now necessary … I hope. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.  So, no PoD from that visit to St Mo’s, but luckily I’d taken a walk around the block earlier in the day and got a couple of shots of Scamp’s alliums from the path at the back of the house and that’s what achieved PoD.

After the drama of the camera, I did some painting. Today’s challenge was meant to be Seashells, but the only shells I could find were snail’s shells, so that was what I painted. Even worse was that I only could find one shell, so it was one shell in two positions. Tomorrow’s target is Something Shiny.

It’s been a day of mixed weather.  Occasional sunny spells and occasional heavy rain showers, but for the most part it’s just been plain dull with heavy clouds.  Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

No Salsa tonight because teacher Jamie is still down in deepest England doing sciency things at a science festival.

Out early tomorrow to give a few drops of blood to be sent over to Monklands hospital for checking by the consultant. Nothing else planned.

Not going far – 4 June 2019

Not going far

It wasn’t the weather this time, it was just the threat from tiny wee beasties.

Last night after I’d posted the blog and put the iMac to bed I found another tick. That settled it. Definitely no more walks in the long grass at least until the first frost. The further I got today was over the paths around St Mo’s pond, keeping strictly to the path. Didn’t get many photos, because the light level was fairly low. Heavy cloud all afternoon was the culprit. In the morning the weather was much more pleasant and on retrospect I should have gone out then, but I didn’t. My fault. I’ve made that mistake before and I’ll probably make it again. However I didn’t come home empty handed, I got today’s PoD which is a couple of White Tailed Bees (Bombus lucorum) on some bramble flowers.

I potted up some strawberry plants and a yellow aquilegia in the late morning , then, together with Scamp pruned some of the roses and the forsythia. We also pulled some rhubarb which Scamp made into a pie. There’s even some left over for tomorrow.

Later in the afternoon the rain returned and drizzled on for the rest of the day, so I retired to the drawing room – the room where I draw and managed to catch up with the sketches for June. June 3rd was A Bird and today was A Weed. The bird became a Blackbird from a photo I’d taken back in April and the weed was some buttercups which are the bane of Scamp’s gardening, but I like them. They were drawn from life. That’s me up to date now so maybe it will become easier from now on. Since I’m only doing it for fun and am not posting them on social media, I’m treating them as practise pieces and a chance to experiment.

Tomorrow we’re probably heading in to Glasgow to dance the afternoon away at Blackfriars. I don’t think we’re going to risk going to STUC at night, since Jamie G is still down south.

A non dancing Monday – 3 June 2019

Dancing with some teachers isn’t dancing, it’s repeti-ti-ti-tion.

The day began with me finding the first tick of the year. I was reading last year’s blog last night, and would you believe it, a year ago on the 1st of June I found a tick. I make the solemn pledge then “No more walking through long grass until the first frost.” Today I made the same pledge. While a nasty surprise, it gave me a chance to try out the tick remover Scamp got for me last year. First time I’ve had cause to use it. Hopefully the last for a long time. Unfortunately the wee bugger landed on the carpet when I pinged it off and that meant I got to hoover the carpet to make sure it didn’t reattach itself to me or anyone else. Then just to make sure it was definitely gone, I sprayed the carpet with fly and insect killer. Probably took a few days off my life too, breathing in the noxious fumes.

With that done and with the carpet hoovered, I phoned the butcher to order some meat for the weekend. Scamp was out visiting one of her friends who was just out of hospital. She was also taking here sister to the docs after Gems, so I was given the job of taxi driver for the other two. Not a problem really, I hadn’t intended going out. The weather was hit and miss today and that’s why I gave it a miss. Too many heavy showers and a (very) few sunny periods. Instead I headed upstairs and did a sketch from my June list. Topic was An Umbrella. It’s finished and looks ok, but not great. Actually, the practise sketch was better. That’s quite often the case with me.

After my taxi job was done and Scamp was back from the docs, having dropped June back home (she got a course of antibiotics for a chest infection), we had to decide what was happening about salsa tonight. Last night Shannon had said she was taking Jamie G’s advanced class tonight. After much soul searching and discussion we decided not to go. It’s about 40 minutes driving there and back with a boring waste of an hour dancing the same move over and over again. I know Scamp still feels bad about it and deep down thinks we should have gone, but we agreed not to and it’s done now. After dinner I finished another swift watercolour sketch of mushrooms. That the first two done. The sketch for today (3rd June) is A Bird and for tomorrow itself is A Weed. Plenty of them to practise on!

Today’s PoD is a landscape taken from the top of the Whin Edge Brae above Mollinsburn, and was taken just before one of the heaviest rain showers I’ve nearly been caught in. Luckily I was just home before the clouds broke. Scamp wasn’t so lucky and was driving through it. I’m still trying to find out what all the buttons and dials do on the new toy. It’s amazing how much it can do.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow looking for a new pair of boots. Although if I’m not walking in the long grass until the first frost, I may not need them for a while.

Dancing all the day – 2 June 2019

Well, that’s what it felt like anyway!

Spoke to Hazy for a while in the morning and discussed the first part of Good Omens that we’d both watched. Agreed that it was good to see they were sticking fairly faithfully to the book so far. While we were on the phone my replacement batteries for the new camera arrived. After we’d finished speaking to London, I charged up the first battery. It seems like it had a part charge in it because it only took about half an hour to fully charge using USB. The second one took a little longer. When I exchanged a new battery with the one that came with the camera, I noticed that Made in Japan actually read Made in japan. That was one of the signs that the battery is a fake. The second check is the misspelling of the word ‘explode’ in the warning section. The ‘Olympus’ battery had it spelled as ‘explose’. This was looking like a complete fake. The third and final test is to check the weight of the battery. A ‘real’ Olympus battery weighs around 52gms. A fake one around 35gms. The ‘Olympus’ battery weighed 39gms. A pretty comprehensive case for disposing of the fake battery, safely of course. Just in case it does ‘explose’!

Did a tiny wee bit of gardening, since the weather was much nicer that had been predicted for today.  We even had some sunshine later in the morning and it was warm.  I just potted up a Meconopsis which Scamp had bought me last week. I’ve always liked the lovely blue, papery flowers, but Scamp doesn’t. That’s why she bought one for me instead of for herself. Today I gave it some room to grow in a bigger pot. I’m sure it will like the space. The garden was where I got today’s PoD of the little bee dangling form a ‘Nancy Pretty’ flower. You may know it as London’s Pride, but my mum always called it Nancy Pretty and that’s what it will always be to me. Still finding out things about the new toy. The amazing and dazzling amount of buttons and dials for one thing and the clever little touches in its operating system.

Drove in to Glasgow to have a go at dancing Jive to a real rock ’n’ roll band. We did manage one song then the band played ‘Tequila’ so we just had to dance salsa to that. After the session was finished, we had another hour before the real salsa started, so we went for a walk up Byres Road and found out that today was the official start of the West End Festival which apparently is second only to Nottinghill in size in the UK. We thought we’d missed the procession, but after checking tonight, it seems that there was no procession this year again. Maybe it takes too much organising or maybe it’s difficult to close such a busy road to traffic for a full day. Who knows. It just didn’t happen. We walked round the edge of the celebrations in Ashton Lane then walked back to the Record Factory to get ready for another hour and a half’s salsa dancing. Met a few folk we hadn’t seen for ages and danced with a few beginners. Left after an hour and a half because I was worn out.

Storm winds and heavy rain forecast for tomorrow and Gems are here for the last practise before the summer break. Don’t know where I’ll go.

Flaming June – 1 June 2019

Well, maybe not flaming as such, just not raining.

We were still in two minds whether to got to the Italian festival in Glasgow or just have a day somewhere in the dry, with the outside chance of a bit of sun. If we chose the latter, Scamp suggested Stirling or Hamilton. Both curry capitals of central Scotland. Finally, because there are at least some shops still open in Stirling and very few in Hamilton, we chose Stirling.

We went to the Indian Cottage in Stirling and had our usual: Vegetable Pakora followed by Vegetable Dhansak for Scamp and Chicken Pakora followed by Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna for me. Almost every time we go to this restaurant, that is what we have.

After lunch we went for a walk round the centre of Stirling. I was looking for a cheap, second hand copy of Good Omens, because the copy I’m reading on my Kindle must have been a publishers advanced copy complete with all the typos and bad typesetting. I looked in vain. It seemed that the hype about the new film of the book had led to all the copies being bought up. Scamp wasn’t looking for anything, but came home with a new ‘holiday and maybe for salsa’ dress.

On the way home we were stopping to get some compost and some ‘chuckies’ which for those readers who are from south of the border are small, possibly rounded stones. The chuckies were to provide drainage for the latest of Scamp’s containers. After a bit of an argument about where we should park and whether we should drive in or reverse in, we got a space. Scamp was right, of course, about driving in – easier access to the boot for loading stuff in. She was wrong about the tiny wee space she expected me to get the Juke in. It’s a wider car than her’s. The compost wasn’t too heavy, but those chuckies certainly were. However, we got them in and got home without breaking a spring. Had to barrow them out of the car and through the house. That gave Scamp time to get the container planted with two Gazanias, a Shooting Star (American Cowslip) and a Geum (Cookie). It looks good. That the second mixed planting she’s done recently and both are looking very natural.

A walk in the unexpected sunshine through St Mo’s gave me a chance to test out the ‘new toy’ and it certainly seemed up to the task. Especially impressive was the way the electronic shutter and automatic focus bracketing made short work of a shot of a tiny wee snail on a tree. It may go up on Flickr later. The only problem is the state of the battery. After about 60 shots it appeared to be losing most of its power. Not surprising really when I noted that it was manufactured in 2014. That makes it five years old. That’s a long time for a battery to be working. Luckily Amazon was offering a decent looking replacement pair plus USB charger for £18. It’s being delivered tomorrow. Not an actual Olympus battery. They cost around £70!

No sketches today. I’m having at least a week off, if I don’t go cold turkey. PoD went to a little dowdy looking fly that sat nicely for me in St Mo’s. No fancy focus stacking, just a straight forward shot.

The end of May – 31 May 2019

But not the end of the rain!

Today we had planned to go to the Sagra Italiana festival of Italian food in Glasgow. The camera wasn’t being delivered until after 4pm, so that gave us most of the wet day to play with. The rain started seriously about 11am and from then on it was continuous. We reckoned the festival would be a wash out, but drove in to Glasgow anyway. We were right. There were about thirty people wandering around and at least half of them were family members of the girl group who were singing bravely on the stage. At least they were under cover. There’s nothing so desperate as folk trying to look happy and cheerful when the rain is pelting down and all the planning has been for nothing. I think we both felt sorry for everyone concerned.

To cheer us up we went for a pizza in Paesano. It was mobbed, but then again, it wasn’t raining in there. Everyone was warm and dry and being fed and watered. Went to CassArt and bought myself a little paintbox to celebrate the end of Every Day In May. I’ve had great fun doing the drawings and the paintings, but it’s been tough some days to work out how to interpret some of the prompts. I’d do it again. Today’s topic was A Crab. Try as I might, I couldn’t think of anything to draw other than a crustacean. After all, living in the middle of Central Scotland, there aren’t many crabs around here. So it was I wandered the arcades of the InterWeb looking for some decent photos. Eventually settling on an iStock image that was what I was looking for.

Today’s PoD was seen from Ingram Street in Glasgow. The poor bloke sheltering in the portico of the GOMA didn’t look as if he was the model of Domestic Bliss and I think that’s what attracted me to take the shot.

Came home and took charge of the camera from the DPD man. It looked in very good nick and after giving the battery a quick squirt I checked it over a bit more and was very pleased with it. Let the battery charge a bit more and then the warning light started flashing on the charger which indicates a battery fault. I tried it in the camera and it worked for about fifteen minutes before it packed in. I’ve just charged it up again, fully this time, and it seems to be holding its charge this time. Will find out if it’s really working in the morning.

The rain stopped for about ten minutes today, but it’s raining again. Tomorrow is to be dry, but then the rain returns on Sunday. We should make the most of tomorrow, but we’re not making any hard and fast plans yet.

Man seen building an ark in Condorrat – 30 May 2019

I was wondering today, did it rain on St Swithins day? Then I realised that wasn’t until July. Maybe the rain is just practising.

We drove through the rain to Falkirk today to get some low-sugar muesli and a few other essentials. I thought the brand I usually get, with no added sugar was in the low sugar bracket. Nope, it was in the High bracket, carrying the danger sign of the red shield. What I forgot is that it was the extra fruity version and that extra fruity contains the extra sugar, but because the manufacturer is not actually adding sugar, they are telling the truth, just not the whole truth. There are a lot of devious people out there and they’re not all politicians. Had lunch at Morrisons because they do a lovely roll ’n’ link sausage, plus, Scamp likes their bowl of chips. Back in the car and through the rain once again to arrive back home with not one photo taken.

I’d been watching the progress of a couple of cameras on MPB and WEX, both second-hand sites. Today I made the decision which one to buy and will report back on it after it arrives from the DPD man tomorrow sometime. In case you’re interested, it’s an Olympus E-M1. Please don’t moan about ANOTHER new camera. It’s about five or six years old and originally cost over £1,000. I’m not paying anything like that. Also, it’s over three years since I bought the last Oly.

Started a sketch of a motorbike, today’s topic. An MZ TS 150, the bike I used to own. It was a bit rough, but a reasonable record of the bike. Then I got a bit frantic and dived outside to grab a couple of shots of our Schoolgirl rose in the rain. I’ve just posted it on Flickr and it will be interesting to see how many hopefuls I can trap with the title Schoolgirl In The Rain! It usually works well. It would be fun to see their sad little faces!

Just so you know Hazy, I got an email from A Small Orange this morning asking me to pay $89 for an overdue bill. That’s the bill for the webspace contract I terminated in April and have confirmation that it’s been terminated. I also managed to log back in to ASO and found that my invoice there has been cancelled. Wrote them a nasty email.

I was making Crab Spaghetti for dinner tonight when the ring pull on the tub of white crab meat broke and left me with a plastic tub, metal lid and no way of opening it. Tin opener wouldn’t work on the thin rim. Eventually used my favourite tool, Molegrips to wrench the lid off. Took some photos of the carnage and another nasty email will be on its way tonight.

Schoolgirl eventually became today’s PoD, then after dinner when the swearing about that crab tub had subsided, I painted the proper MZ picture. Great bike. Just really a commuter bike. A two stroke that made a terrible racket and drank oil like it was going out of fashion, but a dream to ride with its flat ‘Vinny’ bars. So called because of its design being based on the legendary Vincent motorcycles. Had to sell it round about 1980 to buy a Reliant Regal 3/30 three wheeler. Tomorrow is the last day of the challenge and, would you believe it, the topic is A Crab. Maybe I should just draw the tub with the half ripped off lid.

Tomorrow we may go to the Sagra Italia event in Glasgow. It looks like being a very wet day, but Scamp thinks everything is under cover. If we decide not to go then we may go on Saturday. We’ve got (free) tickets for both days.

The day that the rains came – 29 May 2019

… and forgot to go away.

It wasn’t the best of days. Like I said at the top, the rains came and forgot to go away. I don’t suppose it mattered really as we weren’t intending to go anywhere except to Glasgow for dancing in the afternoon and then again in the evening. The furthest I was past the door was a quick trot round the block to achieve my 250 steps every hour. It was on one of those circuits I found the little Glass Bead Plant growing on the wall at the back of the house. Of course it was really a moss with raindrops clinging to the fruiting bodies, but some people will be avidly searching Google for Glass Bead Plants as I write this! It got PoD.

Drove in to Glasgow and ticked off another 250 odd steps on our walk down to Blackfriars for Jive, Quickstep and Cha-Cha. We made a few mistakes still, but not as many as last week, thankfully. It was almost a private lesson again as the class started out with three couples, then two were spirited away to learn the stuff that we already knew, that left us to the tender mercies of Michael. Worked on another part of the Over the Rainbow routine and then did some work on our Quickstep and in between we tackled the dreaded ‘off beat’ Cha-Cha. Totally drained, we went for coffee (no cake) and then drove home in the rain.

Scamp drove in to Glasgow tonight and we danced with the intermediate class and the beginners who are getting through the moves at quite a pace now. Thankfully the Tipsy Ladies were not in class tonight, so it was much more bearable than last week.

Today’s sketching topic was A Knife or a Sword. I suppose I could have found a sword somewhere in the town. Some areas of Cumbersheugh are awash with them on a Friday night … allegedly! However, I resisted that temptation and settled on drawing my old Swiss Army knife. It’s been sharpened so many times, the blade is a completely different shape from when it was new. It was my tool of choice for sharpening pencils. So much more efficient than a pencil sharpener. Unfortunately, the world has moved on and it’s now illegal to carry this useful tool.

Tomorrow looks like being much like today, weather wise, so I doubt if we’ll be going far.