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!

The Visitor Arrives – 23 September 2019

Today we were meeting a visitor from down south.

Drove to Glasgow Airport to meet Clive who was travelling up to Scotland from Southampton. I’d asked him to bring some southern sunshine with him and he was as good as his word. The sky had been a dull grey in the morning, but by the early afternoon the sun had come out to play and it stayed that way for the rest of the day.

We were surprised that he arrived so promptly because this morning it was announced that Thomas Cook had ceased trading and thousands of customers abroad were being brought back home in what was called the biggest repatriation since the second world war. The media really do like to dramatise things, don’t they. However, hype aside, we had thought there might be more congestion at the airport, but we needn’t have worried. It appeared to be business as usual. No Dakota DC3s in camouflage paint disgorging hundreds of disgruntled holidaymakers. Just the usual mid afternoon business flyers … and Clive.

Scamp made Chicken, Leeks and Peas for dinner. We had a wee dram and Scamp introduced Clive to the joys of playing the piano. He’s had the first lesson tonight and will go on to the more advanced stuff tomorrow. We sat and talked and discussed music and Hi Fi stuff and albums we’d enjoyed many years ago. Not much else to say really. Just a good relaxing night.

Today’s PoD was taken just before we left for the airport and is Scamp’s Little Gems rose, grown from seed.

Tomorrow really depends on the weather. If it’s good, we’re off to see the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel. If it’s not, then probably Glasgow Cathedral and Kelvingrove.

The Plan – 7 September 2019

We had decided that if the weather was good we’d go for a walk somewhere nice and if not, then we’d do lunch instead, and if we could combine the two, so much the better.

Thankfully the weather fairies were good to us and the sun shone. With that in mind and with my new sunglasses in the car, we drove to Loch Leven for a walk. Walked for about a couple of miles to a viewpoint, and once we’d viewed from the point we turned and came back. There’s not a lot to see for most of the walk because you are a fair distance from the loch and then you are walking along the outskirts of a golf course. However, there were always the airies to watch. Lots of gliders, both powered and those being towed up.

Drove on to Loch Leven’s Larder for lunch. We had to wait about half an hour for a table, but when we got one, the food made it worthwhile. We both had a misnamed Fish Finger Sandwich which was in reality a haddock fillet cut down the middle, coated in batter and sandwiched between two thick slices of bread, lettuce and tomato. Fish fingers indeed. It took us all our time to eat them, then Scamp had to have the Gin & Tonic Cheesecake. I don’t know if I’m being more careful or not, but I abstained.

Drove home the long way, across the new Forth Road Bridge just to check that the new sat nav card was indeed up to date. It was. A glorious late summer, or early autumn day.

The iMac was playing up tonight.  It has seemed slow to load for about a week now, plus I got a memory error tonight.  Later it refused to start, just a grey screen.  I forced a restart, but the same thing happened.  Finally I did a ‘Repair Restart’ (CMD + R as you power up) and it fixed some catalog settings which seemed to sort the problem.  Hopefully.  Fingers crossed.

PoD was a rusted scroll on an old gate from our walk.

Tomorrow I may go looking for brambles.

Finally up to date! – 22 August 2019

Today the blog came up to date. Flickr’s up to date with the option to add more holiday photos when I want to. Blog is up to date and posted. Just today’s post to get done before the witching hour and all will be well.

So, today. It started out well in the morning with some sunshine and a bowl of porridge from oats I’d bought in Wales. They needed to go, as did the older ones that were taking up space in the cupboard. Today we needed a good clear out and Scamp was the one to do it! I just bought new porridge oats. She did all the cleaning of the house. I got the last of the washing into the machine.

Scamp decided that it would rain later, so it would be a good idea to cut the grass in the morning. That’s when we found the strimmer cord, not the electric cable, but the cord that whirls round at a fair rate of knots and severs the grass, was dead. Every time we pulled out a new bit and switched on the machine the cord would break again. Need to get a new cord. Bear in mind that this is the original cord. Since the grass still needed cut, we hauled out the mower and while I moved all the pots and troughs around, Scamp cut the back grass. While she was busy upstairs cleaning stuff, I offered to cut the front grass. The mower has been playing up for year, at least three years. The blade is chipped and blunt, but the dangerous bit is that the interlock that will switch off the mower when you release the handle doesn’t work any more and hasn’t for some time. For someone who is usually safety conscious, Scamp was quite laissez faire about the lack of a safety cut-off. For me, I’d say it was becoming a liability and we need to think of getting a new one. I think I may have talked her round, but if she reads this, she’ll stonewall again. Won’t you dear?

With the cleaning done and the front and back grass cut it was lunchtime. Earlier in the day I’d bitten the bullet and bought X-Plane 11. A pure indulgence. Some would call it a game, but what do they know. It’s a flight simulator with very realistic graphics and it had just finished downloading. That gave me something to do in the afternoon when the rains came. I did fly it a couple of times but had to go out and get the PoD sorted out. It turned out to be an orange Rudbeckia flower I saw in St Mo’s. Dinner was a roast chicken and it was cooking while I was out walking. Cooking in the new roasting pan Scamp had bought yesterday. It’s still sitting in that pan while I’m writing this and the smell is very tempting. Unfortunately, Scamp has just put it in the fridge so it’s out of sight, out of mind!

No plans for tomorrow yet, although we might go to the Strathaven Balloon Festival if the weather is decent tomorrow evening.

Home Time – 15 June 2019

Time to say our goodbyes and point the Juke’s red nose north.

Up about 7am and got the last of the stuff packed into the juke’s boot. Wished everyone a safe journey home and headed for Aberystwyth one last time go stock up on essentials before we set the sat nav for Home.

Drove through some beautiful countryside I’m told, although I didn’t see much of it. I was two busy watching the grey asphalt run under our tyres. Saw a friendly group of cyclists going our way and a load of others with racing numbers on their bikes going the other way. I didn’t envy them their run through the mountains. Stopped at Chester services and grabbed two clean shots of an Airbus Beluga. It must be the ugliest aircraft ever built. Only had my iPhone to record the shot, but at least I got it. That wasn’t the best shot of the day. PoD went to a shot taken from the house looking up through the garden to Sim taking her last shots of the landscape round the house, and there was blue sky and sunshine too.

The rest of the journey was uneventful and we arrived home in sunshine at around 5pm

Tomorrow will be a lazy day. No driving.

Off Home – 27 March 2019

Bags packed, ready for the off.

After an uncomfortable nightwith a swollen finger and a pain in the side after yesterday’s gymnastics, it was time for the last breakfast.

Since we didn’t need to leave the room until midday, we went for a walk along the front to soak up a last couple of hours of sunshine.  Sat on the same seat as yesterday with the same toy mouse, still unclaimed and gazed at the same sea.  Finally had to drag ourselves away.  Said goodbye to the wee toy mouse and told it we were sure someone would come back to claim it, then turned to face the journey home.

One final check of the bags before heading for reception. Sat and read for a while before we booked the taxi which arrived about two minutes later and we were off to the airport.

Whizzed through check-in and security and settled down to wait. Called to the gate earlier than we’d expected and were off home to a cold Glasgow, then drove home.

There’s not a lot more you can say about the long day at the end of a holiday, certainly not anything interesting.  It wasn’t the best holiday ever, and definitely not the best hotel we’d stayed in, but it was  a week in  the sun and it doesn’t matter what the hotel is like or the food is like, the sun’s the same for everyone, and the sun is free.

PoD was the queue at a gate in Fuerteventura airport.

Tomorrow reality will kick in!

29 Degrees – 20 March 2019

Set the alarm for 6am. Up and out after a tea and toast breakfast. Drove through fairly heavy traffic along the M80 and the M8 with CITRAC still predicting 42 mins to the airport. Didn’t take near that time, of course. Checked in without any delay and then we reached security where the traffic was heavy and two of the gates were down. Forgot that I’d put my insect repellant spray in the carry-on bag and had to wait while they searched the bag. Flight was on time and we arrived in Fuerteventura to 29 degrees heat ( I wish Windoze 10 would make it simpler to create a degree symbol). For some reason my phone phoned Fred Parker while we were waiting in a long queue for the taxi to the hotel. He wasn’t pleased when I told him about the 29 degrees!

Checked in at the hotel and dumped the cases then went for a first ‘Holiday Beer’ or two. Dinner at night was underwhelming and there were a lot of empty tables. Whether that was because of the quality of the food or the lack of guests is hard to tell on a first night.

Delighted to find that ‘Tina’ was the vocalist and sax player tonight. We’d heard her play last year at Elba Sara and we had danced to her music. Scamp asked her to play some salsa and we danced to Carnival which seems to be the only salsa song she knows. For once we made a mess of things. It might have been because the floor was slippery or it might have been a case of too many ‘Holiday Beers, Mojitos and G&Ts. The jury is still out. Gave up and went to bed. It had been a long day.

Today’s PoD is a quick snap of a serviette in Frankie & Benny’s at Glasgow Airport. Someone must have seen us!

Tomorrow we will be relaxing by the pool, hopefully.

Keeping the wheels turning – 22 February 2019

I’d decided that today was the day to pump up the tyres, oil the chain and get the bike on the road again.

Before that there was the usual attempt at the Fiendish sudoku and then a visit to Tesco to buy everything in sight, just in case of a no-deal Brexit when everything will have vanished from the shelves overnight. Why do the news programs try to frighten the living daylights out of us? They spread more panic and fear than actual news these days.

Once the shopping was done and lunch had been made and eaten (pizza – home made) I got the pump out and inflated the tyres, checked that they’d stay inflated and oiled the chain. Swiched on the lights and the bike computer and was amazed that both still worked. Then I got dressed and slipped on those SPD fitted shoes and went out into the wild world. I was amazed at just how warm it was. Comfortably warm in February, not that’s a first. Apparently, a couple of days ago, Aboyne recorded the highest February temperature in over 120 years. Such a strange winter this year. Not a sign of last year’s ‘Beast From The East.’ Well, not yet anyway. Had a pleasant run on the Dewdrop which performed perfectly. Need to get the bike out more often.

Home just as Scamp was going out to meet the Witches and after starting today’s sketch, began making today’s dinner which again would be pakora and then curry. Egg curry this time.

Today’s PoD was a low level view of one of Scamp’s crocus flowers, well two flowers to be more exact. Today’s 28 Drawings Later drawing, No 22 is of a bar of Aero, before I had to call a halt, having eaten the model!

Interesting news story today about a flypast honouring 10 American airmen who died when their plane crashed in a park 75 years ago has taken place in Sheffield.  The US bomber came down in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield on 22 February 1944, killing everyone on board. A campaign for a flypast started after a chance meeting between BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and Tony Foulds, who tends a park memorial.  Good to see something in the news that isn’t about Brexit.

Tomorrow looks like the end of the good weather we’ve been having and a return to rain. It was good while it lasted.