A seat in the sun, a painting done, a bike to ride and Chinese food besides – 25 April 2020

All done within twelve hours of the hottest day so far.

Started the day by talking to Hazy. Always a good start to the day. I’ve now got instructions for making a Fat Quarter mask. Not like the one Isobel made with 8, yes EIGHT, layers of material. Her daughter asked if she could breath through it, to which she replied “No, I’ve got to take it off to breathe.” Methinks this defeats the purpose of a mask. Found out how everything was going down south and good to know that the ‘Nancy Pretty’ is growing well and starting to flower in foreign climes.

Next thing to do was to test the coffee maker and see if there are any improvements / alterations I can make. Found some interesting hints and tips on the Gaggia site, but nothing that really related to what’s going wrong with mine. Eventually gave up and made a slow cup of coffee that really tasted good. Maybe good coffee just takes a long time to brew.

Next thing on today’s agenda was to find out how to get the autopilot to work on the Garmin 530 navigational computer on the PC12. I got some useful hints and tips on a website last night and today I put them into practise and they seemed to work. The plane followed the flight plan I’d fed into it. One thing ticked off! Time for a seat in the sun just for a chance to catch some of those 20º rays. It was very pleasant sitting there with just a gentle breeze that didn’t seem to know which direction to come from, so came from them all.

Now I needed a painting for yesterday and possibly another for today. I started with a copy of the Bob Ross painting I’d watch him complete yesterday in less than an hour. I set to to repeat the process using acrylic paint on a canvas, although now I suspect he was using oils. Surprisingly, the finished art work passed the critical judgement of my panel, Scamp and Fred. Both agreed it worked, although both suggested different improvements that could be made. I ignored both, of course and just did what I wanted to do. Second drawing was a pencil sketch selfie done looking in the mirror. It’s not bad, but it looks like the artist as a young man. Slightly dishonest, but still there’s a hint of me there.

We thought we might do Golden Bowl for dinner tonight and I pumped up the tyres on the Dewdrop and took it over to Condorrat to find out if it was truly open. Spoke to a young Chinese lady who was checking for customers and they were indeed open for business. Phone orders only and there was just one person waiting for his collection. Cycled home and phoned in the order. It was on the way back that I got today’s PoD. The outdoor gym machines tied up with red and white tape to decree them off limits. A token gesture.

Half an hour later I cycled back to collect our meal. About ten other hopefuls were waiting too, but it wasn’t long before I took my chance and asked for my collection. Paid for it cash, which in itself is unusual these days. Chicken Chop Suey and Fried Rice (x2) was great after having cooked for ourselves these last three or four weeks. The bike ran well, but I think the front wheel bearing needs some attention. It’s either that or the front disk brakes need alignment. Enjoyed the run in the sun.

It seemed as if the next door neighbours on our left were having a party tonight. Scamp reckoned it was someone’s birthday. They’d sneaked in the back way and Angela had let down a ladder so they could climb up into the garden. Isn’t it a shame that people feel the need to go to such lengths just to meet up with family. In a way these restrictions are taking away people’s human rights. If a family want to be together to celebrate a birthday, they should be allowed to do so as long as they realise the risk they are taking. We are moving towards a police state these days and some folk think that’s a good thing. Some folk in power, that is.

We did a wee bit of ballroom practise tonight and then to round the session off, two Salsa tracks to see what we could remember.

Well, the best of the weather looks like it’s past. Next week we run the risk of rain and single digit temperatures. Oh well, it was good while it lasted and it lifted our spirits too. No plans for tomorrow.

Another lovely day. Make the most of it – 24 April 2020

It was a lovely warm day. Blue skies and wall to wall sunshine. Best of all, there was little or no wind to cool us.

To make the most of it, we sat outside in the morning and soaked up some rays. I even wore my shorts to grab as much sunshine as I could. Coffee maker was working, a bit arthritically, but working none the less and I enjoyed a cup in my folding seat at the front door. Stayed there more or less all morning with the occasional walk round the block to make sure we weren’t becoming too sedentary.

I did make one foray inside and that was to order an aeroplane. It’s a Pilatus PC12 and retails at an eye-watering $5.36M (+VAT). I managed to beat them down to £18 (+VAT). It may be delivered this year, but I have the X-Plane 11 version to fly until it can be shipped. It’s a beautifully kitted out plane and I’ve not even crashed it yet. With the deal done and downloaded, I retired to the front lawn to plan my flights and soak up some rays with another cup of coffee. I managed to nab a PoD which was a little beetle that kept circling us and eventually landed on Scamp’s coffee cup. It had previously landed on my hand, but I wasn’t quick enough to snap it. I named it Alexander for obvious reasons.

In the afternoon, after a lunch of Piece ’n’ Flat Sausage for me and Piece ’n’ Egg for my co-pilot, we went for a short constitutional round St Mo’s. Place was dull and fairly empty, so the photo of Cowslips was all I got.

Tonight’s dinner was a salad with Salmon for Scamp and an overcooked rump steak for me. Salad was lovely, but my steak was too tough.

Watched an interesting film on Amazon Marilyn Hotchkiss’ Ballroom Dancing and Charm School. The key words in the title were ‘Ballroom’ and ‘Dancing’. It was entertaining and interesting. Well, it passed an hour and a half and took our minds of Sturgeon’s revelation that things wouldn’t return to ‘normal’ until next year at least and that social distancing wouldn’t go away until the autumn, if then. Yes, we want to be treated like adults, Nick, but we like fairy stories at bedtime!

Tomorrow looks like being the last of the good weather with the possibility of rain on Sunday and almost definitely next week sometime. The gardens need it, but we want sunshine! With that said, there is just the chance of a Golden Bowl dinner tomorrow.

House arrest for the auld yins – 15 March 2020

So Mr Hancock wants to keep the auld yins at home. He used to be funny too, in Hancock’s Half Hour. Not so funny now.

Woke to the news that the over 70s are to be isolated at home for a long time. We may be old and doddery Mr Hancock, but we can still understand numbers. How long is ’a long time?’ About as long as a piece of string I’d imagine. Left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing.

Anyway, on to today, proper:
Scamp drove us to Tesco to get the messages. Just the usual essentials. A bottle of Gin, a box of Tonic, a bottle of Wine and two bottles of Beer. Oh, and some of the usual extravagances like a loaf, some veg and a tin of beans. No tins of tomatoes – none on the shelf. No pasta – none on the shelf. Ditto toilet rolls and kitchen towels (who eats these?) Drove back home and disgorged the three bags of clinking essentials plus the fripperies. Lunch was a duck egg for Scamp and a omelette for me.

The sun was coming and going all day, but thankfully without any of the nasty wet stuff falling from the sky. Scamp was making an apple pie to go with the dinner and another pear pie too. Me? I was going out to take photos and, as Scamp said, to talk to the deer and the frogs. She knows me so well. I did actually see a deer, just as I was entering the tree line at St Mo’s. Unfortunately it heard my heavy footsteps crunching through the leaf litter and it was off like the wind. I loosed off one shot at it with my trusty Oly E-M1 and 200mm lens, but all I got for my trouble was a blurred shot of a deer’s white tail as it danced daintily around the trees and away.

That was the last deer I saw today. It obviously didn’t want to talk to me. The frogs, on the other hand were much more receptive to my thoughts on Covid 19 and its implications for the over 70s. They listened with rapt attention while I laid out the reasons why the government’s position on the latest proposals was untenable. I took some shots of them while we were discussing it, but as I stood up, they all disappeared into the murky St Mo’s pond without even a ripple of applause. That’s why none of their photos are appended here. They just didn’t deserve that publicity. Instead, PoD went to a photo of a green shoot against some of last year’s moss fruiting bodies. Some jiggery pokery was done on the shot in ON1 and I think it worked quite well.

On the way home I heard an unfamiliar aircraft sound and searched Flightradar24 on my phone for it, but it wasn’t listed.  The only plane near me was a high flying jet.  On looking for more information I found it was a Cirrus Aviation  Vision SF 50.  I’d never seen one in the real world, but it’s my favourite plane in X-Plane 11, and there it was directly above me.  A tiny wee white dot in the sky.  I even managed to get a few shots of it and at maximum zoom, you can just make out the ‘V’ shaped tail.  It made my day!

Dinner for me was gammon steak with cauliflower cheese and potatoes. Scamp had the same minus the gammon steak. Her apple & cinnamon pie served with cream was the pudding, followed by Sunday coffee (coffee with amaretto.)

Spoke to JIC tonight and he poured oil on troubled waters again and put our minds at rest with his Sensible Science. Glad to hear that Sim is feeling a bit better now too.

Tomorrow may (or may not) be the last Gems meeting for some time. Scamp is going to ask them how they feel about suspending it for a few weeks. I’m doing the same with coffee for the Auld Guys. We may go to dance class later if we’re allowed 😉

Watching the Airies – 23 December 2019

Off on our travels again.

Apart from checking, re-checking and partly unpacking then repacking we didn’t do much. About 1pm we drove to the airport through the rain. For once I got through security without having my bags checked. Even walked through the metal detector with my belt still on and didn’t trigger the flashing lights!

Since we were kind of on holiday, I risked a half pint of Peroni at an extortionate price. Grabbed a PoD of the airport with one plane against a Glasgow sunset. It’s becoming a tradition when going on holiday. Soon we were called to the gate and then we were ‘flying through the air, sitting in armchairs at 35,000 feet’ as someone once said.

The bags came quickly at Stanstead and JIC was soon driving us through the English night. Nice car, but I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the heated seats! Would Vixen still remember us, or would there be a barking fit. Needn’t have worried, there he was, showing his excitement at seeing us again.

A glass or two of excellent wine, a lovely orzo salad (Orzo and Rice – hadn’t realised they went so well together), some catching up chat and a fairly early bed.

Tomorrow we may go for a walk

Dinner cancelled – 22 November 2019

It looks like Crawford has suffered again from a little infection. Thankfully it’s him this time not me this. It’s almost a year since I brought one back from Lanzarote.

WhatsApp message from Nancy this morning that Crawford has another case of a little painful infection so they have to cancel tonight’s dinner date. Such a pity, I was looking forward to it. Scamp suggested to June that we should re-schedule. All that work last night making eight panna cottas and nobody but us to eat them. Felt a bit down for the rest of the day.

The rest of the day was a drive in to Glasgow and a walk up Sausage Roll Street for a cup of dirty brown water pretending it was coffee and a panini in Nero for both of us and a walk back down SR Street in the rain to drive home under a cloud, and not just a rain cloud either.

Spent the rest of the day flying planes out from London City airport on X-Plane. How clever these pilots are to thread the needle and land on that tiny strip of reclaimed land.

By the time I was finished, the light had gone and PoD was a panorama of a dull, grey Glasgow I’d taken earlier in the afternoon.

Some days are like that. Tomorrow will be better, I’m sure. We may go to Hamilton to get a curry.

All Good Things etc. – 19 November 2019

One last chance for some sun before we return to sub-zero Scotland.

After breakfast we found those sun beds again and put them to good use, then the clouds started rolling in, but we didn’t mind, in fact we were quite glad for an excuse to get up and go for a walk. We walked round the garden to the manmade waterfall and there stood a heron. At first we both thought it was a fixture, a model to scare real herons away from the fish in the pond. Then it move. Camera out and grabbed a few shots. Moved closer and took a few more, as did Scamp. Finally we were almost inside zoom range and had to back off a bit, that’s how close. We walked through the cave and another photog appeared and took some photos. Still the heron blanked us. It must be really used to tourists in the hotel and the fishing must be good too.

Back to the room and did the final change into winter clothes and sealed up the bags. Taxi was due for 12.30pm we waited until 12.45 and then went to phone the help line. I was just getting put through when Scamp shouted that the taxi had arrived. I went out and all I could see was a big bus, no taxi. That’s when the bloke took my case and bag and put them in the hold of the bus. The bus was our taxi to the airport. I think we laughed all the way to the airport, just the two of us on a big tour bus!

The laughing stopped when we got through security and saw that our flight was delayed. The only one that was on the whole board. We needn’t have worried, it was only delayed by about 30mins and we were boarded fairly quickly. The captain explained that the temperature in Glasgow in the morning was -5ºc and in his words “None of the ground crew seemed to want to come out and work.” I think he was choosing his words very carefully because he really sounded as if someone was going to get one helluva bollocking when he got back to Glasgow.

Flight back was fairly uneventful and we were actually slightly ahead of time when we landed. Back home, the heating was on and the house was warm, thankfully because it was about 3ºc when we were driving into Cumbersheugh.

PoD was that heron. What else could it be

Tomorrow, believe it or not, Scamp wants to go dancing!

Up early and out – 12 November 2019

Off to a warm place

Early rise, just before 6am. Quick breakfast then a fairly easy drive to Glasgow Airport. Equally easy check in and then, as usual my bag got hand searched at security, but this time the tray holding my ‘tronic stuff got searched too. I’m was beginning to think the ground coffee was looking suspicious, but what is there in a Kindle, a Samsung phone and a ten year old laptop, all of which switched off that could give cause for concern? Anyway, we were sent on our way again.

Flight was on time and the actual flight was without event. It was actually an interesting flight with very little cloud after we left Scotland. Great having plenty of leg room in the Jet 2 plane.

Short wait for our pre-booked taxi, and a short run to hotel. The room was fine, on 5th floor with a sea view as advertised. Unfortunately there was no sunny balcony and it faced into wind. A strong wind. Fuerteventura is always windy, but according to the weather app this was a 20 – 25mph wind which is a lot stronger than usual.

Quickly got dressed in something more appropriate for the 23ºc temperature and went in search of our first holiday beer. It’s traditional, lunch and a beer in the sun. We won’t starve.

After dinner we danced to Tina, the saxophonist who we were hoping told be working the hotel. So we should be having at least two nights of dancing as she will be back on Thursday, all being well. We even had a visit from the dancing Pepe who wasn’t worked very hard because there were very few kids for the Kids Club. I think the visit made Scamp’s night.

PoD was a quick snap of the airies at Glasgow.

Tomorrow we investigate the hotel further.

Deone’s Seat – 11 October 2019

Today’s topic from my list was “Butterfly”. In October, in Scotland? Really?

Then I remembered Deone’s Seat. It’s to remember Deone MacRae who died, aged 15, from cancer. The story is much longer. Google her name if you’re interested. It’s not a memorial. First and foremost it’s a seat. It’s been powder coated a cheerful bright pink and it sits beside the pond at St Maurices park. The seat is cut and welded from 1/4″ sheet steel and is a fitting tribute. I went out this morning to sketch it and then added some colour later. It was my interpretation of the prompt.

Came back and Scamp was getting herself ready for a trip in to Glasgow, solo. That suited me. I’d a bit of virus killing to do on the iMac. Probably only the second time I’ve had to resort to a virus killer. I’d tried Bitdefender last night, but it’s a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It took 25 minutes last night and it still was only about 75% through on a short scan. Nah, I needed something quicker. I’d found the offending article, it was an extension in Safari, Apple’s worthless browser. Worthless or not it was harbouring a piece of dodgy software that needed excising. I’d read that Malwarebites was good, so I downloaded that and it quickly found, not one, but two pieces of malware and deleted them, or to be precise, quarantined them. I don’t like quarantine, I prefer deletion. So that’s what I did. Malwarebites it’s the way to go.

By this time Scamp was on the bus to Glasgow, so I had time to add some colour to today’s sketch. Plenty of time, so for once, I let one colour dry before adding the next. I was pleased with the result. Yes I know it’s not totally symmetrical and there are some rogue lines, but that’s what happens when you’ve half an eye on the rain clouds, half an eye on the swan that’s sidling up to you looking for an early lunch and half an eye on nosy folk asking “Are you drawing?” Luckily the only person who passed was a bloke jogging around the pond and he just nodded and gave me a Scottish “Aye” which can mean “Good Morning”, “Looks like rain” or just “Hi”. It never means “What are you doing here?” It’s just a nod and an “Aye.” I don’t think they do that anywhere else in the world.

With the sketch and the painting done, I did a bit of flying from Fuerteventura to Lanzarote. Not far, but still taxing until you work out how to do the ILS approach under autopilot. I know this is gibberish, but it’s interesting gibberish to me. Gave up after the third attempt and made my lunch. Piece on brie, apple and honey. Totally heavenly. Home grown apples too, James Grieve.

After lunch I walked down to M&S to get chicken for tonight’s dinner and also a box of their delicious Turkish Delights, bread and a couple of pastries for after dinner. Got a text to say that it was back to business, Scamp had returned.

PoD was a photo of St Mo’s pond that I took after sketching Deone’s seat. Looks very pleasant once you’ve spotted out the Bucky bottles and the crisp wrappers. Swans seem to like it anyway.

Tomorrow we may go to Embra. It depends on the weather, but I expect I’ll be driving part of the way, which means I won’t be able to partake of tomorrows prompt: A Fruity Cocktail.

Today was dancing day – 2 October 2019

It was cold this morning. Temperature when I was making breakfast was 1.7ºc, which was around the 2ºc they predicted last night. There was even frost on the roofs out the back of the house. Winter is Coming. Hmm, that sounds like a good title for a TV series or something!

Flew around on X-Plane for a while trying to find out how autopilots work and then attempting to make a working flight plan using an amazingly easy to use piece of (legally) free software. Amazingly easy to use at the lowest level (my present level) but quite sophisticated as you get deeper into it. It’s called Little Nav Map in case you’re interested.

Just before I got started someone knocked on the front door and delivered a big box of flowers, a box of chocolates and a bottle of Prosecco. All from Clive, our visitor from last week. It was a lovely surprise. The flowers are beautiful and are arranged in one of my mum’s vases sitting on a little table. We had to test the chocolates tonight just to check that they were ok 😉. We’re leaving the Prosecco until the weekend! If you’re reading this, thank you very much Clive it was really kind of you. I apologise for the arm wrestling in the restaurant!

Off to Glasgow to dance for an hour with Anne Marie. Went over the entire “Over The Rainbow” Jive routine with slight variations from Michael’s moves. Tidied up the ‘new step’ from the Waltz and the Promenade from Quickstep. Rather a full hour!

Coffee and Debenhams to look for a new pair of dark trousers for me for next week. When we were going in, the Bowie / Bolan bloke was hammering out a version of one of their songs, so I took his photo. He’s annoyed me with his singing for ages, now was the time to pay for it with a PoD. He sings Marc Bolan. He sings David Bowie. He’s versatile because he sometimes sings Bowie songs with a Bolan voice and vice versa. This is him on his favourite pitch on Argyle Street in Glasgow. I liked his choice of backdrop. No trousers that I liked in a size that fitted. Maybe try Debenhams in Stirling later in the week.

Back home I made Smoked Haddock and Leek Risotto for dinner. Dead easy, because it’s all made in the oven. That’s the best type of cooking, the easy type.

Today’s Inktober prompt was ‘Mindless’. I was indeed mindless and didn’t want to do what most people were doing “Saving the Planet from the Mindless Ones”. Eventually I gave up and sketched and scrapped a coffee bar, then noticed my keys sitting next to me. They didn’t fit the prompt, but I thought the shapes looked interesting and doable, so today’s sketch is Keys!

Tomorrow we may go on a trouser search in Stirling, or maybe we’ll do something else.

The Visitor returns home – 28 September 2019

Last night was a fairly late night, but this morning was an even earlier one.

Alarm was set for 6am, but I managed to switch it off before it woke us. Clive was already up and drinking his breakfast Cranberry juice. He thought he’d get away with that, but Scamp pressed him to have at least a digestive biscuit with his morning coffee. I can’t face a day on an empty stomach, so I had my breakfast muesli and a cup of tea, Scamp too had breakfast, then we were off to take Clive to the airport.

We were both sad to see him go. Dropped him at the airport in plenty of time to navigate his way through security and then get settled. He’d been a splash of sunshine on an otherwise dull week, and just as when anyone leaves, the house felt that little bit quieter and less colourful without him.

We’d planned to go to Edinburgh today because we knew we’d be up and out early anyway, but when we got back from the airport, we both agreed it would be good to have a lazy day. Couldn’t quite decide what to do with the rest of the day, but finally settled on going to Hamilton for a curry. That’s what we did, then, because there is so little of interest in Hamilton, we just came home. Food in the Bombay Cottage was just as good as ever.

Back home I thought there would be just enough light to give me a chance of getting some photos in St Mo’s, so that’s what I did. In the woods the light levels were that bit lower, but I still got a few shots. PoD was the branch of Larch pine needles turning yellow. The larch is one of the few deciduous pines. Also found a spiky bracket fungus, but you’ll have to go to Flickr to see that.

That was about it, other than sitting in judgement on the first ‘real’ Strictly heat. That and watching the qualifying for the Russian F1 GP.

No plans for tomorrow.

Early night tonight for a change, so I’m off. G’night!