A new camera, a dash cam – 25 September 2020

Dashcam day.

I got to use my dash cam a couple of years ago and I wouldn’t be without one now. Today I went to Halfords to find out when they could fit one in Blue. Luckily, they had a space this afternoon, so confirmed the booking and drove home for a quick lunch before driving up to allow the nice man to fit a brand new dash cam for me. Yes, I could have saved a few quid by using the supplied cable and plug, but it looks untidy and a new car deserves a new neat fitting. Even more unlikely, I could have fitted it myself, but I knew that would have involved a lot of swearing and a fair bit of damage to the inside of Blue. The bloke from Halfords had made a really neat job of the fitting the last time and I trusted him to do the same again.

With him working away in the car, Scamp drove me off in her car to a nice little parking place beside the Forth & Clyde Canal where we could walk along under a fairly blue sky and some sunshine as far as the ill fated Underwood Lock House. It had originally been the lock keeper’s cottage and around 2000 was converted to a pub and restaurant, but after a fire in 2013 it remains a roofless ruin. It seemed a sensible place to turn and walk back. I grabbed a set of seven shots to form into a panorama when we returned.

Collected the car and paid for the dash cam and the fitting and drove home. I couldn’t see any evidence of how that man fitted the wiring, but he did just as clean a job as last time, if not better. Dash cams are a bit like insurance. It’s something you have to buy these days, but you hope you’ll never need them.

Dinner tonight was Veg Chilli and AGAIN I forgot to add the kidney beans. I did the same last week down at Little Musgrave, so you see JIC and Sim, it was nothing personal, it’s just a mental block I have with veg chilli!

PoD was that seven frame panorama. The other thing I did today was set up Inktober 2020 on Flickr. Hope I don’t have the same problems I had last year with nobody except me being able to find it on the website!

Tomorrow we may go for a walk.

Dining out – 23 September 2020

Just an opportunity to go for lunch and put aside Covid fears for an hour or so.

Scamp had bought the original Itison (Scottish version of Groupon) voucher back in February with the intention that it would be a useful lunch treat in the spring or summer, then Covid arrived and we tumbled into lockdown. Recently, when restaurants opened again, the vouchers came back to life. Today’s was for “21”, an Italian restaurant in Hamilton.  We even got free parking in the town because all the meters were covered, presumably to avoid folk having to risk catching the disease when emptying the meters. A little bonus. We walked down to the restaurant in the sunshine and arrived right on time. Scamp had Cream of Veg soup to start, followed by Veg Risotto. I had Salami Bruschetta followed by Balmoral Chicken. Both were perfectly satisfactory, but I wished later I’d stuck with my original choice of Lasagne. Because we’d had a cheap starter and main we felt it would only be fair to had a dessert too. Scamp had Coppa Amarena (ice cream with cherries) and I had Tiramisu. The Coppa looked great and the one cherry I had was beautiful. The Tiramisu was dry and looked as if it had come from a wholesaler. Not great. All in all it was fine. Next time if we go back, I’ll be more sensible in my choices. What impressed me most was that the staff spoke Italian to each other. That’s the way it should be.

Back home and back to reality, Scamp cut the front grass and I volunteered to do the same to the back grass. Maybe that will be the last cut of the year. The light was still good when we were done, so while Scamp relaxed, I took the Oly over to St Mo’s and went for a walk in the woods. It was a bit cold out of the sun, but the low light created opportunities for some decent photos. PoD was a backlit shot of a spider wrapping up its dinner. It’s a Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus).

Tonight about 8pm I was taking the recycling out for collection tomorrow morning. A group of folk were standing outside the house next door. Their father and mother, whose house it is, were inside with their grandchildren, but the parents were outside talking. Some were standing, some were sitting in garden chairs. It was dark and the temperature was a chilly 9ºc. What they were doing was perfectly legal and in line with the new rules for Scotland, but why would anyone go to those lengths? Will they do the same in a couple of months when it’s snowing? Who knows.

Tomorrow we may drive in to Glasgow.

The Bin Man – 22 September 2020

Finally, if I get this blog posted, I will be up to date.

Scamp was out this morning meeting Isobel. That gave me a bare two hours to organise my PoDs, export them and then import them to Flickr, write up the remaining blog posts and combine them with the images and post those online. I managed to get almost all of that done while Scamp was gabbing chatting with Isobel and had time for a cup of coffee too.

We’d decided to make good on yesterday’s promise and go to Falkirk looking for a duvet cover and a fancy new kitchen bin. We went, we looked, we came back empty handed. On the way home we dropped in at B&Q and found a bin there for much less than they were selling them for in Falkirk. I went looking for a new dash cam in Halfords while Scamp went looking elsewhere for a duvet cover, again we returned empty handed, at least we had a new bin. Unfortunately the bin didn’t fit into the space the old one had lived in, so there was a bit of rearranging of the kitchen, but everything is now in place and working.

Went out late in the afternoon to post a card and to have a walk round St Mo’s. By the time I was getting there the light was all but gone. Not just the good light either, all the light was gone, it was like twilight had come early, although twilight actually arrived about 2pm today. It was just one of those days. PoD became a picture of a late blooming dog rose rescued by using HDR (don’t ask what HDR is. JIC goes crazy when I start talking in Technospeak.) It’s not great, but it was the best of a bad lot today.

Remember yesterday I was being Bob the Builder? Tonight one of the real builders trundled up in a mini JCB to level off Scott’s garden. He did in about an hour what Scott had been trying to do in three weeks in his spare time. No barrowing needed today. Technology did the grunt work.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Hamilton for lunch. For an hour and a half we can pretend that Covid happened somewhere else.

On being Bob the Builder – 21 September 2020

It just felt like a better day today for some reason.

Didn’t do that much apart from talk to Hazy in the morning and see life from her side for a change after hearing about it from JIC’s point of view. After that and after lunch I went out for a walk in St Mo’s. The road past St Mo’s was closed to allow a bit of asphalt laying near Condorrat and this allowed folk the whole width of the road to walk on. Nobody seemed all that bothered to do so, except the hoards from the school who spread themselves in social distancing groups right across what’s usually a busy road.

In St Mo’s I tried to avoid the usual dragonflies and managed instead to get some shots of a spider and some moody shots of dried thistle leaves. PoD, however went to a planned shot of leaves floating on the pond, near the outfall. I’d seen it yesterday and attempted a few shots, but wasn’t happy with them. Today I used the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye and got what I’d been looking for. It’s still not perfect, but it’s close.

When I came home, Scott who has been digging up his front garden had ‘acquired’ a load of whin dust to lay as part of the foundation for his newly planned astroturf front lawn. He and his neighbour, Wullie and Bobby from our block were taking it in turns to barrow it from the road to Scott’s garden. It seemed un-neighbourly to leave them to it, so I grabbed a pair of gardening gloves and went to lend a hand. It was good to have a laugh with three other folk who usually get a not and a word in passing. A bit like the “Auld Guys” having coffee before lock down. Just four guys having a laugh and some adult humour. I reckon I might have a sore back tomorrow from all that work, but it was fun.

We didn’t get to Falkirk today, so maybe tomorrow.

The steak was the highlight – 20 September 2020

This was a dull Sunday.

Not dull as in no sunshine, because there was plenty of sunshine, especially late in the afternoon, but dull as in nothing to do and nowhere we wanted to go. News was depressing too with a rise in Covid cases again and the promise of even more restrictions on the way. All this and the feeling that autumn was just knocking at the door.

We went down to the shops just to get essentials, nothing more. After putting the messages away, I went for a walk in St Mo’s and found a host of black dragonflies. Small ones with a waisted body. I’m sure I’ve seen them last year, but certainly not this year. ID’d them as Black Darters and the name didn’t ring a bell, which might mean I didn’t see them last year. Still lots of Common Darters about too.

Highlight of the day was dinner and a juicy sirloin steak for me. Nice fat piece of salmon for Scamp.

Hoping for a better day tomorrow. May go to Falkirk to search out a new kitchen bin.

Not driving today – 19 September 2020

Just a walk or two, but no alpacas, viaducts nor waterfalls.

We walked down round the Broadwood outdoor gym trail then back past the BMX track where I got told off for photographing the kids who were competing, without permission. Quite right too, but I’d never thought about it before. I’d always been covered by school permissions when I was photographing anyone in school. I should have known better and should probably have deleted the shots I took. None of them got past the first cull anyway.

Walked back past the shops and bought two curries for dinner tonight. As it turned out, they weren’t all that good. Maybe it was just going to be that kind of day.

Walked round St Mo’s later to try to get some photos and found a patient dragonfly that sat for me. There was very little else, although it was a lovely day.

Tomorrow we may go further afield.

Butterflies, Viaducts and Beer – 17 September 2020

In that order!

The butterflies were feeding on ivy flowers on Frank’s Bridge in Kirkby Stephen. As far as I could tell they were all Red Admirals. They were taking a fair bashing from the honeybees whose territory they seemed to have invaded. The bees made their displeasure felt by apparently deliberately bumping them off the flowers. A strange behaviour I’ve never witnessed before.

Over the bridge, we were discussing which way to go, when a dog walker told us there was a great view from the hill beside the cricket ground. We thanked her and climbed the hill to the viewpoint at the top and she was correct. There was a great view all around from the top. Because the hill was fairly high, it was an uninterrupted view too. We met a couple from Durham who were also admiring the view. I took a few photos which turned into a 360º panorama which in turn would turn into a Tiny Planet. A bit of a cliché, but I haven’t done one in a long time, so that makes it ok. It became PoD, despite the fact that Scamp doesn’t like it.

Said goodbye to the Durham couple and walked down the other side of the hill and basically retraced our steps from Monday’s visit. Aha, but Scamp had other plans. After reaching the part where we would have turned right and walked back into town, we continued on using a wee lane to cut off a long corner on the road and almost reached a quarry entrance before we turned on to the old railway path. I like old railways, especially ones that have been turned into safe walkways that cut across country. It’s usually easy to imagine steam trains running along these arteries before Dr Beeching and his cuts destroyed the British rail network, back in the ‘60s. This one led immediately on to the Merrygill Viaduct over the Hartley Beck. We continued on to the Podgill Viaduct which crosses the Podgill Hole (!) which is another tributary of the River Eden.

There was a viewing gallery at the Podgill Viaduct, down 42 steps from the path. Fairly easy going down, but a killer coming back up. However it did give us a good view of the viaduct from below.

Climbed back up those 42 killer steps and walked back into the town. Got a seat quickly at the wee café Scamp had her eye on since Monday and had lunch there washed down with a half pint of Bitter & Twisted each, before heading back to the house. Well, we also had to stop for some bread and a cake each at the town bakers and some bulbs and another pot of marmalade from the deli.

Dinner tonight was a carry-out. Sim had phoned in an order for Chinese which JIC went to collect while I waited at Coast to Coast for three Fish & Chips. One door and a queue where you wait to place and pay for your order. Another where you queue to collect that order. One woman who shouts at you because you obviously don’t know how this works (she seems to be the only one who does) and one woman who for some reason treats you like a human. Good chips and excellent fish though.

More TV tonight and more pyrotechnics from the battlefield too.

Packing tonight, because it’s the long way home tomorrow.

Cautley Spout revisited – 15 September 2020

Hoping for better weather

In the morning Scamp read at the house while I tried another sketch, a rough, from a different angle. As sometimes happens, the rough turned out better than I’d expected, and became a shaded pencil sketch. I may have to give up the 20mm long Palomino Blackwing and release it from its pencil extender. It’s worked hard since mid April!

In the afternoon the two hill walkers decided we should revisit Cautley Spout, but attack it from a different angle. It was a much better day than the last time, so we agreed to have a go. Parking was a lot tighter than at our previous visit, but after waiting in the Cross Keys carpark, we managed to grab a space. The Cross Keys is a Temperance Inn where no alcohol is sold, or allowed on the premises. I didn’t know such places still existed.

Today’s walk started in the same direction as the last one, but then made a change of direction, going left over a narrow bridge and on at an angle up the hill with a dry stane dyke on our left side as we climbed gently round the edge of the hill. Great views of the valley below and lots of rustling from beech trees as their leaves were turning more brown than green in the autumn sun.

No rainy coat today, in fact I’d to tie my jersey round my waist and continue on in my shirt sleeves, the weather was so calm and warm. I began to wish I’d changed to shorts instead of jeans. After an hour or so of tramping along a path that started off almost as a stream bed with water running down it. Then through a field of grazing sheep past deep pools of running water where Vixen demonstrated her love of swimming. Eventually though the path started to lose itself to a bog and we decided that after a tangerine each for sustenance, we should call it a day and walk back down.

Further down the path, Vixen had another swim in the bigger stream which is the run off from the waterfall. She was on a long lead and seemed totally at home in the water.

Scamp was cook tonight and Holy Cow Chicken Curry was hotter than we expected it to be. Nice Stone Oven naan bread to soak up the leftover sauce.

A good day. Glad we did the easier of the two walks, but the weather definitely helped.

Kirkby Stephen on our own – 14 September 2020

The other two were off climbing mountains, we were being tourists, in the sun.

Parked at the car park JIC had used on Saturday and then headed along the main street, which didn’t take very long. There wasn’t much to see. Walked back and had a look through the Cloisters, went through and had a look at the old church behind them. Took the path round the lawn and then exited on to the path that took us over Frank’s Bridge. Don’t know who Frank was, but he made a good job of the bridge. The air was full of the buzzing of bees in the bushes beside the bridge. A few butterflies too. Lots of ducks swimming in the River Eden underneath, but we didn’t have time for ducks. Instead we were following the path we’d travelled a couple of days before, except …

Except, instead of turning right after crossing a bridge over a stream and climbing up, up, up, we turned left and followed the stream past pretty houses whose gardens ran right down to the stream. How brilliant that would be to have a stream at the end of your garden, until it floods, then it might be a different story. We walked on and took a left turn at what seemed to be the end of the village. That eventually took us round past the cricket ground back to Frank’s Bridge. Took some photos of the ducks in the river under the bridge and watched a dog called Betty charging into the water and scaring the living daylights out of the ducks. I know this is boring, and means nothing to you, but remember whose blog this is!

Back in the town again it looked like there had been a funeral because lots of people dressed in black and the men with black ties had commandeered all the tables in the café Scamp wanted to have lunch in. Instead, we had a lunch in a Costa across the street. After a toastie and a coffee for me and a millionaire’s shortbread and latte for Scamp we crossed the road again. Scamp bought a sieve for fishing out poached eggs (that’s the best description I can muster) from an ironmongers. Then we found a deli where I got some marmalade that didn’t taste as home-made as it was advertised and a couple of russets, plus some veg for tonight’s risotto. Walked to the car, drove to the Coop and got some nice beer Lost Lager, plus other stuff, as usual when in foreign climes.

Drove home, to our home for the week. I’d bought a sim card for my old iPhone and spent a lost half an hour trying to get it to accept my credit card details to top-up Eventually I got exasperated and after checking with my bank that I hadn’t been spoofed out of my worldly goods, I shut the phone down. Thank you ‘Kenneth’ from O2 customer help who did his level best to get me sorted out. Went outside into the sunshine and while Scamp read, I sketched Pinfold Cottage where we are staying.

Dinner tonight was Prawn & Pea Risotto, cooked by Scamp.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go back to the waterfall, but this time we’re taking the more leisurely route.

Walk on through the rain – 13 September 2020

We climbed halfway up a mountain today to see a waterfall.

Not your typical Sunday morning. Sat upstairs in the lounge willing the weather to improve for our second walk of the week. This one to Caultney Spout which is an impressive waterfall. JIC drove us to the parking place and we decanted into the rain. Crossed a narrow footbridge over a river. JIC and I noted the carcass of a deer, we think, impaled on a tree branch,just upstream from the bridge. Note to self: Don’t drink any of the water in this stream today.

Once across the bridge we turned face on to the wind and the rain and plodded onward along the path, passing other walkers going the other way. Probably they had already climbed the mountain and were on their way to the next. They all looked happy, cheerful hikers in their cagoules and shorts. Shorts? In weather like this? You have to be hardy to play that game. We trudged on. Then I found that the Teazer had mysteriously managed to extend its lens. Even worse, it wouldn’t shut down. Finally got it to behave, but the battery level was showing nearly empty. What it had been doing in my pocket all the time, I have no idea. Never mind, I still had the Oly 1.

Further on and the wind and rain were lessening. At first I thought (hoped) the weather was improving, but we were just entering the lee of another hill and that was sheltering us. It was round about then the Oly 1’s screen went black. Switched off and on again, but still nothing. Removed the battery and pushed it back into place and got the message to set the date and time, not a good sign. Set them and all seemed well, full three bars on the power icon.

The path became steeper and wetter after that. We also had to cross a few streams. As the slope increased even more, Scamp suggested that the other two (plus Vixen) go on as we were just holding them back. They pointed out where they were going and we just nodded. Were those orange and red dots really people? Apparently they were. We let them go on, leaving us the opportunity to take our time. The Oly turned off again. This time I plugged in a replacement battery, reset date and time and it was operational again. Thankfully it remained working for the rest of the walk.

We could see that Sim and JIC were on their way back down again led by the four wheel drive of Vixen. The rest of the walk was uneventful and we were soon on our way back home after turning at the Cross Keys which is a Temperance Inn. A real one. No alcohol served, not that we were bothered, we were heading home for lunch. Got stuck behind a tractor travelling at a sedate 20mph for mile after mile on twisty turny roads with lots of traffic coming the other way. No chance to overtake, but the patient JIC took it in his stride, but we all breathed a sigh of relief when it turned off into a housing estate.

Tonight’s dinner was cooked by JIC and Sim and was Bacon and Borlotti Beans. After dinner we watched the New Monkey Magic. Not a patch on the original.

Tomorrow the hill climbers are heading for the Nine Standards and we’re heading for Kirkby Stephen.