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Nematode Nemesis – 8 June 2018

Slugs and snails beware. The end is nigh.

A package dropped through the letterbox today and in it were two boxes of Nematodes. One to treat the garden and hopefully eradicate the slug infestation and another to do the same for vine weevil. I’m not sure we have vine weevil, but I suspect we have and I know for certain that we have more than our fair share of slugs. I don’t really mind the shell carrying snails, but I hate slugs. The instructions on the box said to keep them in the fridge. I said no thanks and put them outside in the bin that holds the fertiliser and compost bags.

I took some photos of the Ladybird Poppies, macro, of course, and it was one of those that became PoD. Also on the agenda for today was putting up a frame for the peas. I’d bought the wood yesterday and also some woodscrews. It’s a pain having to buy these things, but like I said yesterday, I don’t have access to these materials and consumables any more! The frame wasn’t too difficult to erect and screw in place. The netting was a bit more of a faff, getting it stretched across the frame and clipped in place with staples and cable ties. Even after all this work, the bloody minded pea plants wouldn’t hang on to the netting. The ungrateful things just hung there for a minute or so and then dropped back to the ground. After a bit of delicate weaving of the tendrils, they eventually got the idea. I think I must have planted dim peas.

<Technospeak>
I spent the afternoon clicking and typing away at the new Win10 machine, trying to get it to create a macro to allow me to log on to my blog. I can do it on the Mac using a macro created with Keyboard Maestro, but there’s nothing like that app in WindowsWorld. You have to resort to some cryptic code in AutoHotKey to get anything like the same result. I finally managed to adapt a piece of code I found on an internet forum, but it only works with Internet Explorer. It’ll be another afternoon of swearing before I can get it to do the same on Firefox. Finally when I shut down the PC it wanted to do an upgrade. Now is that different from an update? Who knows. Maybe when I switch on the computer today everything will be different. I doubt it.
</Technospeak>

A walk across St Mo’s later cleared my head and gave me some photos of dragonflies and also a couple of coots feeding their scraggy little red headed young.  A cool breeze at times, but still a beautiful day.

After dinner it was time to deal with the pesky slugs. Dissolved the contents of the nematode packet in a 5 litre bucket of water and stirred frantically. Removed 500ml (ish) into the watering can and diluted it to 5 litres of slug nemesis. Tried to water it over the raised bed with the rose, but found that the rose was too fine. Had to remove it and just pour it on. Repeated this round the plants and pots in the garden until the bucket was empty. I should have watered it in later, but it was getting a bit cool, so we left it to nature, it’s supposed to rain tonight.

Tomorrow we may go to Stirling to look for cheap trainers for me and lunch for us.

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Barking Mad – 7 June 2018

It started out a bit cloudy today, but the sun soon burned that away.

We had nothing particular to do today and nowhere significant to go. Some days are like that, you can just relax. However, with a garden there’s little time to relax and soon we were shifting flower pots around and then we went to buy more. It seems that flower pots are like shoes, you can never have enough of them. I also suggested to Scamp that it might be a good idea to put a layer of chipped bark on the earth, especially in the pots. It acts as a deterrent to snails, discourages weed growth and helps retain moisture. So we came back with another pot and a bag of chipped bark. While Scamp did the re-potting, I helped out with the layer of bark. It certainly gives a good universal appearance to the pots and looks as if it will fulfil the other tasks too. Only time will tell.

After lunch I was encouraged to start the frame for the pea netting, so off I went to B&Q to get some wood. I used to have a regular supply of it, but alas and alack, I am no longer employed in that side of things 😉 so I had to buy some. I asked if I could borrow a saw to cut the timber to more manageable lengths but was told that service was no longer available because of H&S regulations. I suppose that’s true. Pity the trolley that kept giving me shocks in B&M this morning hadn’t been GS23’d or run past H&S. Scamp says it’s me that’s generating my own electricity and that it’s me that’s creating the sparks. Some folk say I’m a bright spark, but they’re lying.

Anyway, the 2.4m of timber fitted easily into the Juke and I dropped it off at home before going for a walk along the canal under a hot sun. Saw today’s PoD there and couldn’t resist it. It took a bit of processing in Lightroom then ON1 to get it the way I wanted it, after the camera overexposed it, but I liked the result.

Came home via Lidl to try out their supposedly excellent gin. It is excellent and to our taste test, better than the watery Aldi alternative. Maybe it’s just the different tonic.

Halfway through dinner (Paella) the rain came on, so we had to rush out to save the washing from drowning, or at least getting wet. It didn’t last long, it was really just a shower, but it did mean we didn’t have to water the garden tonight!

Tomorrow looks not as hot as today. I think it’s all going to get a bit tricky from here on in. I think I’m constructing a pea frame, so a bit cooler day will be good.

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In the Toon, in the sun – 6 June 2018

A girl cutting hair? It’s a barbers, not a hairdresser’s!

We were all set to go to the dancin’ today at Blackfriars until Scamp got a message to say that it was cancelled. That gave us a fair bit of the afternoon to fill. I wanted my hair cut, Scamp wanted to go shopping, not for shopping. Not going for the messages. This was serious shopping. I also wanted to go shopping for a couple of books. With all that in our collective heads, it seemed a visit to Glasgow was in order, but a visit on the bus this time, not a drive. It was a really hot day, so we also decided to have lunch out and make a day of it. So that’s what we did.

First stop the barbers. My usual place, the Nile Barbers, but what was this? None of the usual faces. One guy and a girl. A girl in Nile Barbers? Never seen that before. However, she cut my hair exactly how I wanted it and only asked for £7, pensioners rates. Then one of the usual barbers returned. Ah, that’s good. It’s not a total take-over. I can rest easy knowing that the everybody’s getting older guy and the conspiracy theorist have not been sacked, and that Silent Bob will be back in his corner cutting hair without a word.

Back up on to Sausageroll street and having to go round the part demolished New City Palace to get to Waterstones where I bought the final book in the Themis Files trilogy. I just finished the second book in the series this morning and it’s some measure of the attraction of the writing that I went out this afternoon to buy the sequel. Book two in a trilogy is so often just treading water and going nowhere, but this book took the story on a completely different direction and led neatly to the final(?) book. The question mark is there because I’ve read on the net that it might not be the final book. That would perhaps be a shame. I’d like to see the story drawn neatly to a close, whatever that is. I’m keeping the book for the holidays. That will leave a decent amount of time for my brain to work on the implications of book two and prepare for the finale. If you haven’t read the series, I really recommend that you do. I won’t give away the plot or the twists. All I’m saying is read it. It’s SF, but does the ‘F’ stand for Fiction or Fact? You choose.

Met Scamp who had done the shopping she intended to do and was loaded down with bags. We went to lunch in Paesano – best pizza place in Glasgow. Unfortunately, Scamp reminded me that although we’d gone in by bus, I was driving Fred and me to the college tonight, so Nick the Chick says “No alcohol shall pass thy lips on pain of five thousand penalty points and a £50,000,000 fine (plus VAT).” So I had fizzy orange instead 🙁

Walked round to Queen Street for coffee in Nero and it was while walking round I got today’s PoD.  It’s a reflection of the College of Building and Printing reflected in my favourite glass fronted building in Queen Street.  I liked the distorted writing that should read “People Make Glasgow”.  Title was Lost in Translation.

Bus back and soon it was time to go for Fred. We’d an older sitter than last week and I think I managed to do him justice. Like he said, everyone’s interpretation is different. Roseanne (tutor) tried to rile me with a few digs about people criticising the Loomis method, but I gave as good as I got. She tried her best to blank me when doing her rounds, but eventually gave me a few words of wisdom. I took her advice and the second sketch once the sitter had had a rest was a lot better and from a totally different viewpoint.

Tomorrow is to be at least as hot as today. We have no plans as yet.

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Johnny Appleseed – 5 June 2018

Went to Livingston today to get a pair of trainers and failed, but didn’t come home empty handed.

I’d intended going to Glasgow today to get my hair cut, but, as we would probably be going there tomorrow and could accommodate the shearing in that visit.  That left the day open. An open day never stays that way for long in this house, so we drove to the retail outlet place at Livingston to look for a pair of cheap(ish) trainers for me. I didn’t find any that I’d risk my delicate little tootsies in, at least not for the price they were asking. What I did get was a pair of shoes. Nice oxblood colour sensible Clarks shoes. I’m still not sure that they are the right size, but will persevere with them for a day or two in the house and if they are too small, I’ll reluctantly take them back. Scamp says I only want them because of the colour. She could be right.

When we got back home I had time to go for a walk to St Mo’s and I took with me, in my camera bag, a trowel and a chestnut seedling that I’d grown in the greenhouse. I picked the chestnuts in October last year, overwintered them in a paper bag in the greenhouse and planted eleven out in pots in March. Of those eleven I think it’s eight that have survived and it’s now time to return them to the wild to fend for themselves. A bit like Johnny Appleseed in America, but with chestnuts instead. Maybe none of them will grow, maybe all will flourish, but it’s been fun doing it and at least they’ve had a good start.

Photos today were scarce. It was down to the ‘beasties’ as Scamp calls them to provide most of the interest. I liked the shot of the Crane Fly or ‘Jenny Long Legs’ if you come from Scotland. It should actually be a vertical format, but I turned it  horizontal to get more of the actual fly on the page. Other than that, there were dragonflies again and some fat hoverflies. Fewer damselflies than I’d have expected with the warm weather. Maybe they are falling prey to the faster flying dragons.

It was another really hot day, but later, in  the early evening it cooled down quite quickly.  So quickly in fact that Scamp postponed watering the garden until tomorrow morning.  Forecast is for more warm weather tomorrow and Thursday with cloud and the chance of rain on Friday.  Oh well, we should make the most of it and get a tan while we can.

Tomorrow it’ll probably be dancin’ and drawin’ again. If time permits, I’ll get my hair cut.

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Quiche and Cross Body Salsa – 4 June 2018

The usual Monday but with baking.

I had expressed an interest in making a quiche today and my teacher was Scamp. It’s a long time since I’ve made shortcrust pastry from scratch, so that was the first lesson. With the pastry cooling and firming in the fridge, I took my virtual apron off for an hour or so to prep a few photos of Skye and Rannoch for Facebook. I had to get Scamp’s assistance again to upload them! After that I emailed Jackie whose quiche I was attempting to copy. Got the pastry made. Got the recipe. Good to go.

By then it was Gems time. Time for a hasty exit. I’d loads of stuff to take to the council tip and after that I went for a photo walk along the Luggie. That’s where the PoD came from. It’s a Wood Avens. Not a lot more to encourage me to photograph anything else, but it was warm and the sun was finally getting through.

Back home, I got started rolling the pastry (to the thickness of a pound coin) and fitting it into the baking tin. Pricked it all over with a fork and then blind baked it. Then I removed the ceramic baking beans and returned it to the oven to brown. Next I made up the egg and cream filling, blanched the broccoli and filled the pastry case with Hot Smoked Salmon pieces and the Broccoli then poured in the filling. Baked it and it’s smaller cousin (made in a smaller tin to use up the pastry) in the oven. Wee one was done well before the full size quiche was ready. We split the small one between us before we went to salsa.

Salsa tonight was a bit of a hotchpotch with Jamie and Will off, it fell to Shannon to teach the first advanced class and Alex (new teacher) to teach a free taster class on <spit> Cross Body Salsa which looks like salsa with a lot of fancy hand waving and posturing. It looked like there were going to be too many leaders in the advanced class, so I bowed out, partly because I had a headache and partly because I don’t want to waste my time being taught by these less capable ‘teachers’. Obviously I used a different word rather than ‘less capable’! Alex’s cross body class was also in that category as far as I was concerned. I’m afraid he didn’t win me over with his teaching style or his dance. Not for me.

Back home we shared a half of the big quiche and it too was excellent. Still needs work, but the basic structure is there.

Tomorrow, we have no plans. I may go in to Glasgow to get my hair cut.

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People who have gardens – 3 June 2018

I always hated that song!

Despite the fact that we’d kind of slept in after a late night last night and also that it was dull and grey outside, we both agreed that Gardening Scotland would be today’s venue. So after breakfast he were up and out and driving to Embra. We got parked very easily, mainly because of the vast number of ‘helpers’ to guide us to the exact place to park. Short walk to the turnstiles and after paying our £17 each, we were in. No concession tickets at GS, mainly because almost everyone is a grey-hair.

Like last year, I was underwhelmed by the whole thing. I though this would be a sort of ‘mini Chelsea’. It was nothing like that. “Haun’ knitted rather than Hand made” is the phrase that springs to mind. The only exhibition gardens were the ones on pallets, from the local primary schools. And the emphasis is firmly on the word ‘Local’. Nothing outside a 30 mile radius. Surely this is Gardening SCOTLAND, not Gardening Edinburgh.

Most of the site is taken over by retail tents and stalls. Really, I don’t think we’ll be going again next year DV. It’s certainly not worth the entry fee.

Came home almost empty handed. Stopped in Linlithgow on the way to buy a bottle of Aldi gin that everybody raves about. It was quite underwhelming too. Oh dear, never pleased some people.

Today’s PoD was from a Tai Chi demonstration which was great, but the sound from the over stretched speakers was so distorted it was almost painful.

Tomorrow is Monday with all that entails.

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Getting in a scrape – 2 June 2018

Today was to be wet with thunderstorms. Well, they got that right.

John and Marion were coming to dinner today, so that mean we’d be busy. Not too busy to have to stay in all day. We went out early for a run in to Glasgow. Wandered round JL, went for a coffee in Nero perused CassArt for some A2 sketching paper, but decided I’d rather pay a reasonable price in The Works instead. After that we came home. I dropped Scamp off at the house and went up the ‘Toonie’ for some extra ‘messages’.

When I got back to the car, I got a shock. Big white scrape along the front wing and black scrape below it. Paint scraped off the corner of the wing too. Drove straight to Halfords and got some touch-up paint to add to the chicken and peanuts I’d got in Tesco. Luckily, the white scrape was off the offender’s car/van and not mine. Most of it washed off and the black scrape came off too with a bit of Brasso (cheaper than T Cut and does exactly the same job). Paint isn’t quite the right colour, but it’s only a couple of chips that as Maisie would have said “A blind man, running for his life wouldn’t notice.” Still angry though. Even worse, the dash cam hadn’t been set on parking mode. It is now. However, I bet Mr White noticed the dash cam and is shitting himself wondering when the irate driver or the polis’ are going to come knocking on his door. I also bet he’ll be checking his car for ‘ten pence coach lines’ when he next parks in Tesco.

John and Marion arrived just after the predicted thunder storm having driven through the heavy rain that was also forecast. It was a late end to a frustrating day for quite a few reasons. Tomorrow will be better.

Hoping to go to Gardening Scotland tomorrow.

<NOTE: Blog written up on 3rd June>

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Thunderbolts and Lightning – 1 June 2018

Very, very frightening.

Not really all that frightening as it turned out, and it didn’t last all that long either. It was a dull morning when we woke, but then the sun came out for a little while and we decided to risk a visit to Waitrose in Stirling to get the makings of tomorrow’s dinner. John and Marion were coming to dinner tomorrow and Scamp had a menu in mind that needed lots of things. I had nothing in mind. To be more exact, I had nothing in MY mind. I was just dodging along and being the driver today. Came back laden with goodies of all different kinds from the great Waitrose.

Came home and had lunch which for me was a piece on Brie, Apple slices and Honey. On brown bread it’s an absolute delight. Sat on the step at the back door eating this and watching the clouds massing. Wunderground app predicted thunderstorms by 2.15pm. It was now 1.30pm and it looked like they were on track with their predictions. At about 2.20pm the first drops of rain fell and then the distant thunder started. Soon it was all round us and lightning flashes too. It only lasted about half an hour, but the rain stayed for a couple of hours before fading away. We’d got the plants out of the greenhouse at the first drops of rain and I’m sure the plants enjoyed their little downpour. Saved us watering them. When we were sitting watching the rain I was thinking how lucky it was that we hadn’t gone to Gardening Scotland today, its opening day. It will still be there on Sunday I’m sure.

I had intended going out to St Mo’s after the rain stopped and the sun came out, but I decided instead to take some garden photos and the little spider got PoD. I found a tick on my leg this morning. Probably only the second or third this year, so I’ve made myself a solemn promise; no more walking through the long grass until the first frost.

Dinner tonight was disappointing. It was a steak from Morrisons and it was as tough as old boots, not that I’ve actually eaten Old Boots, but from the reactions of those who have, it’s not a pleasant experience.

Tomorrow, as I said, we have visitors to dinner. I’ve not got much to prepare, just a loaf, sourdough of course. Hopefully it will be risen and ready to bake tomorrow morning. Maybe we’ll go in to the town for an hour or so in the morning after the baker has deemed the loaf edible.

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May leaves us – 31 May 2018

The last day of May and it left us in sunshine.

Up early for the blood-letter to do her worst, then back for breakfast before Scamp left to see the new ‘wean’. With some time to myself I set the A2 drawing pad on the easel and drew the ‘man in the mirror’ again. This time I was more pleased with the result. I got the nose right and the proportions which is what the Andrew Loomis method is supposed to help with, but I adapted rather than adopted the method to make it work for me. I suppose that’s what the tutor was talking about really when she said last night that it’s a generic method that produces a generic head. The trick is to know how to move away from that to the realistic head.

Went off to meet the Auld Guys with a lighter step, knowing that I’d got a foothold on this portrait thing, only to find that the coffee machine in the coffee shop wasn’t working. If the coffee machine stops working, does that just make it a shop then? Maybe, but it wasn’t selling anything I wanted to buy, so I met val and we went to the other Costa at the opposite end of the mall. It was not as mobbed as I thought it would be and we grabbed three seats and I phoned Fred to tell him about the change of venue.  The usual topics for discussion:

  • How we got in this mess (politics)
  • Life was so much simpler and more fun in the ’70s (nostalgia)
  • The cost of living (economics)

I also got some tips on what to see in Rome, Marseilles, Barcelona and Naples.  Not visiting some of these places, but I now know what to see and where.  Finally had to break up after a couple of coffees because of the overbearing rules on parking by Tesco.  That should really have been added to the agenda.

Came home and had just enough  time to grab a camera and get some photos of St Mo’s wildlife before dinner.  It was really muggy with a heavy feel to the air, but the sun was still shining.  Got some photos of a little deer with its nice colourful summer coat.  Loads of dragonflies, but also loads of biting beasties about, so I was quite pleased to come home to make dinner.  Dinner was mushroom burgers with potatoes and broccoli.  The potatoes and broccoli were good!

Tomorrow we are due thunder storms almost all day.  I think we’re going for the messages.

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Dancin’ and drawin’, that’s a Wednesday – 30 May 2018

The day started badly, but improved … a bit.

Up early to go to the docs to get my blood taken. Sat for a while and finally went to check. Apparently my appointment which I’d been told was for 9.50 was actually for 8.50. Despite remonstrating with the receptionist, who I must say treated me like a retard, she was adamant that I was wrong. I was equally adamant that I was right. I eventually got another appointment for tomorrow. Came home slightly less incandescent than I left the health centre and wrote this suggestion to them:

Here’s a suggestion:
When a patient makes an appointment over the phone or at reception, send them a confirmation email or text. This will avoid wasted time on both sides and will also give a degree of certainty a scribbled note on a piece of paper (at best) doesn’t. My dentist has been doing it this way for years so why can’t Kenilworth? After all, it’s 2018, not 1918.

I don’t think it will be implemented. After all, what would a ‘retard’ know about automatic email generation? That was the started badly part over.

Drove in to Glasgow under a blue sky and danced up a fair sweat. I thought Michael was nit picking again until I realised that he was picking up on things I was doing wrong without noticing. He took us a bit further along our waltz journey, into the tricky double natural turns. Michael tried to teach us a new line dance based on Charleston which is much more difficult than you’d think when you see it on Strictly! We didn’t get much further with Jive, but we consolidated the first turns. I got as far as Spin 3, Scamp got to Spin 4. By the end I was exhausted.

Scamp bought a new pair of flip-flops (sparkly ones of course!) because she’d scraped her heel and needed a new pair of sparkly flip-flops to take her mind of the excruciating pain! I browsed some bargains in CassArt, but finally decided that I’d better places for my pennies to go.

Came home and went for a walk to St Mo’s, but by the time I got there the good light had gone and it was becoming decidedly dull and overcast. He weather fairies, the rain isn’t supposed to arrive until Friday! It didn’t arrive, but the clouds still held sway in the heavens, so I had to make do with some pretty wee Berberis flowers. They’ll do, and one of them got PoD.

Swift dinner of prawn salad which was really very nice and then Fred picked me up to go to art class where I caused a stooshie by telling the tutor that I thought the videos we’d been watching were a bit faked. It became rather heated for a while, then settled down to the usual sketching. I get a sore back from standing at an easel drawing for two hours, but it is rather therapeutic and enjoyable trying to get a likeness of someone. I got a bit of praise for my planar drawing of the model. Converted his youthful soft face into a series of flat plates. Strange, but there was a real resemblance there.

Tomorrow a repeat of the blood-letting attempt of this morning, hopefully with a better result. Scamp is off to see the new baby in Larky and I’m going for coffee with the auld guys.