Mothers Day – 22 March 2020

I made the breakfast. I even sliced up a banana for Scamp, with none for me. I did this only for Scamp on behalf of the weans … and because banana on my porridge would be a step too far.

Today was shearing day. The thatch that’s been growing under my nose and around my mouth was getting far too lush. It had to go. So I took it upon myself to give it a quick Number Four. I possibly could have gone to a number three, but it was just 1.9ºc when I was making breakfast and, at my age I need a bit of insulation on the upper lip and the chin, so a number four it was.

After hacking away for a while and washing all the clippings away I felt ready to face the day. Scamp was already speaking to Hazy on the phone when I went downstairs. She didn’t even notice my carefully sculpted facial hair. Neither did Hazy, but as this wasn’t a video call or FaceTime, I’ll forgive her. It was only hours later when I told her about my barbering skills she looked and said “Oh, yes”. That’s all you get for all the planning and careful cutting then. Hmph!

It being Mothers Day, Scamp had the choice of where to go for our daily walk. She chose St Mo’s surprisingly. I thought she’d want to go to Broadwood, which I find boring, but she likes. No, she thought there would be fewer people at St Mo’s after yesterday’s crowds at Drumpellier. It was another beautiful day and there were a few folk, mainly mums and dads with a single wean. They weren’t observing the proper social distancing rules, but I suppose they were all living under the same roof, so what’s the point of maintaining the 2m exclusion zone when you’re outside if you’ll be sitting in the same room when you get home. I did get what turned out to be today’s PoD on our walk, it was another of those flowering currants, but this time about half of the flowers had opened. I was hoping to get a chance to take some more later in the walk or even later in the day, but technology got in the way. After we’d done our circuit of St Mo’s, Scamp suggested we walk down through Condorrat and over the ‘Red Bridge’. That extended our walk a bit, even if it was beside a busy road, still quite busy even with so much isolation going on. The motorway however was almost deserted. I’m pretty sure we could count on the fingers of one hand, the number of cars and lorries that passed under our feet as we crossed the Red Bridge. The M80 was carrying its lightest traffic load for a long, long while.

After we got back, Scamp took the bull by the horns and instituted a video call to her sister in Skye. I was most impressed with the ease she did it with. A real tech genius Scamp is. I’ll be going to her for help with all my problems now!

Later, I thought I’d go for a solo walk around St Mo’s to see if Mr Grey had returned. He had, but he was away on the far side of the pond, well out of reach of the 200mm lens. I tried to get some macro shots of some nicely lit moss spores, but for some reason still to be explained, the shutter seemed to fire, but no photos were recorded. That’s the reason we ‘chimp’ (check the image on the back screen of the camera) but I had confidence in the ability of the E-M1, misplaced confidence it seemed.

Dinner tonight was the second half of the Thai Chicken Stir-Fry for Scamp and the first half of a Beef Stir-Fry for me. Both with egg noodles instead of the usual rice for a change. Scamp’s was fine, if a bit oily. Mine was so hot it would have set the oil on fire. The girl in the butchers said it had “a bit of a kick”. I’d say! A kick like a mule. I’ll treat it with caution when I get round to eating the other half. It’s in the freezer at present, I hope it hasn’t melted anything in there!

Spoke to JIC later and got his take on Covid 19. He’s much more down to earth than the BBC. It’s good to hear a more reasoned, grounded voice on the subject.

Tomorrow we may go for messages. Just ordinary messages and if we find toilet rolls, buy lots and lots of them!

A lovely Spring day – 19 March 2020

Sunshine from early and we both decided to make the best of it.

Scamp wanted to get some pansies to fill up her flower tubs and I volunteered to go look for some. Found some at B&Q. The place was quite busy considering the present circumstances. Took the long way home via Tesco to see what was for sale. Hoping for some pasta, but the only thing available on that aisle was Tagliatelle and I know that Scamp doesn’t like that. It wasn’t actually on the shelf, it was still in its box with the top ripped off, sitting in one of the rolling cages the shelf stackers push along (according to Scamp the cages are called “Yorkies”). So someone just tore of the top and helped themselves. The next step will be raiding the warehouse and if they can’t find what they want there, ambushing the artic wagons when they try to unload. I kid you not!

When I got back there was an email waiting for me to tell me that my coffee would be delivered around 3pm. That gave us the opportunity to go for a walk. We walked around St Mo’s pond and then went to Condorrat with the possibility of getting a cake in the Spar shop. However we went in vain because there were no cakes that interested Scamp. She did, however get some potatoes then announced she had no money! Luckily I had. While we were in St Mo’s I got PoD which I think is a flowering currant, Ribes sanguineum.

We walked home and had lunch, then Scamp thought she’d go out and edge the grass in the front garden and maybe tidy up the pots. I thought about helping out, but only thought about it. Postman brought a big box addressed to Scamp in Hazy’s writing style, then the DPD man brought my coffee and tea. With nothing else to do but play games on my phone I put on my big jacket because the sun was getting lower and the wind was cold now and went back to St Mo’s to do a solo circuit of the pond, but got no photos. Eventually I settled for some low shots of the crocuses in the front garden. Another of Scamp’s brilliant ideas a couple of years ago was to plant crocus bulbs in the grass of the front garden. They certainly do brighten up the grass, and after the flowers disappear, it will be time to cut the grass anyway and allow the plants to die back until next year, hopefully.

So, not only have they closed all the UK schools from Friday, but they have also cancelled all exams because of the virus. John Swinney the Scottish Education minister sought to explain how certification would work and managed to fit in his two buzz words “Robust” and “Rigorous” four or five times in his statement. He has yet to explain what they mean in this context. Pupils will be graded on coursework, teacher assessment and prior grades and of course it will be Robust and Rigorous. I feel sorry for those pupils who will not get the opportunity to sit their exams.  It is the first time the exams have been cancelled since the system was put in place in 1888.

Tomorrow it looks like a cold start but a bright day. We’ll take that. We may go for another walk, while we are still allowed out.

 

A walk in the park with a pokey hat – 14 May 2019

Today was a scorcher. We decided to go to Dunfermline for a walk in the park.

It looked like we had left it too late because there seemed to be no room in the usual car park at Pittencrieff Park. We even tried going further in to the park, but there were no spaces there either. Then Lady Luck smiled on us and as we were leaving I decided to have one last run round to see if anyone had moved. Someone had and it was a space under a flowering cherry tree. So not only did we have a space to park in, we had a nice flowery parasol to shade the Juke from the sun! I even took a couple of shots of the parasol and that made PoD.

We walked in to the park and, as the ice cream van was there and it was sunny, we had a cone each with Mr Whippy ice cream. Two of my readers will maybe remember Papa and Gran calling a cone, a pokey hat. That’s what we had, a pokey hat each. It was lovely ice cream too. Walked over to the long greenhouses at the far end of the park and while Scamp sat outside I went in for a nosey, mainly because the last twice we’ve been in the park, the greenhouses have been closed. Not today, and it looked like there had been some cleaning up done since we’d last been there. Also lots of the plants had labels on. Really useful.

Scamp had noticed an improvement to the general condition of the park too and as we walked round the formal garden, it was obvious that some time and money had been spent on it. Not before time.

We walked up into the town, but there isn’t much to see or do in Dunfermline now. It’s just like so many Scottish towns, more closed shops than open ones. It gets a bit depressing seeing it all over the country. We had coffee and shared a panini in Nero and then made our way back to the car. We visited a wee garden centre on the way home where Scamp got some trailing plants and I got some kale plants, because I kept forgetting to plant the seeds. I’ll put them in the raised bed tomorrow, hopefully. I also got a tap adaptor for the garden hose. Unfortunately when we got home I discovered that it wasn’t the right size for the kitchen tap, but it did fit the downstairs toilet, so we could at least water the front garden tonight. The hose is a Hozelock, and the adaptor is a Flopro, but the are interchangeable. What a brilliant idea. Both systems can live in harmony with each other. Wouldn’t it be great if our esteemed political parties could do the same!

Came home and drew today’s sketch which was A Toy.

Now found out at 11.15pm that the front door has locked itself shut and won’t open. It’s a UPVC door with the long bar running the height of the door. Locksmith needed in the morning I think. It may be a long day tomorrow!

A well filled day – 23 April 2019

Driving to Falkirk, and back, lunch out (for some), coffee (for some), broken website – now repaired. Just your usual Tuesday.

Very warm during the night, but the temperature was dropping all morning and, when we got out of the car in Falkirk, I was glad I had worn my fleece. Dropped my ring off in the jeweller’s to have it repaired after having it cut from my finger back in March. We will be reunited on Thursday, hopefully. Went to Morrison’s while we were there to buy muesli, hand wash and milk. That, with a few other things, came to just over £70. That’s the way the money goes.

When we came home, Scamp just had time to change before she went out for lunch with her pal Mags. I had an hour to rearrange the mess in the art room before I too went out. No lunch for me just coffee and setting the world to rights with Fred and Val.

By the time I got home, Scamp was too and there was just enough of the day left to wander over to St Mo’s to get some photos. PoD went to a branch with what looks like Wild Cherry blossom. The competitor for the PoD was this shot of a new memorial seat in St Mo’s park. The name on it is Deone, who I think is Deone MacRae who died of cancer in 2013 aged 15. The family put a memorial bench beside Broadwood Loch, but some people didn’t like it and burned it to ashes. You really wonder about the mentality of some people. The new butterfly seat is cut and welded from 6mm steel. I don’t think that will be quite so easy to burn.

After dinner which was a joint effort at a paella, I noticed all the email from the new server was offline, and so was my site. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it to clear itself. I tried a website checker and it showed the site as open. Asked Hazy to check and she got access. Eventually used the chat facility on the new server’s webpage and after some checking on their side I was told that my IP address had been blocked after too many attempts to log in to an email address using different passwords. Actually it was me who was attempting to log in and get Mac Mail to accept the new password. Good to know they are on the ball, but will have to be more careful in future when changing passwords.

That was my busy day. Tomorrow will be equally busy, I’m sure. Hoping to go dancing in the afternoon and maybe in the evening too. The weather fairies say it’s going to get colder and wetter. Oh what fun. Summer’s over for another year perhaps.

No Dancin’ but YES to cyclin’ – 21 April 2019

Scamp was going out to a 65th party tonight, so no dancin’. Not really a problem because it was going to be hot. Too hot to trot!

First a spot of gardening was the order of the day. Scamp, of course, went overboard planting at least half a dozen pots of herbs and other plants. Me? I took the measured approach and planted a line of peas, some leeks seeds and replanted my cyclamen that seemed to die off for some reason in the start of the year. It’s more a hopeful planting than a confident one.

After lunch Scamp soaked up some rays while I took the Dewdrop out for a run. The wind was a bit stronger than I thought it would be, but it was a fairly enjoyable run. Very few photos to be had, so the best of the day and the PoD was the catkins at the top of the page.

Dinner tonight was roast veg and the hogget steak from yesterday’s farmers market. First attempt was a bit too pink for me, so on Scamp’s suggestion I gave it another ten minutes or so in the oven. That was just right. I’ll try to remember that for next time. Scamp’s roast veg was lovely, although I think the roasting tray is now a goner because the non-stick coating is not even sticking to the metal. They just don’t make things to last these days.

Scamp was getting a lift to the party (Girls only!), so that left me with an hour sitting in the sun. Unfortunately I was the taxi driver going to pick them up later, so I had to forego the bottle of beer that would have made the seat in the sun complete.

Tomorrow we have no plans. Maybe that bottle of beer and another seat in the sun.

Up and Running – 12 April 2019

Well, it wasn’t quite so clever this morning, but by this evening it was indeed Up and Running.

This morning was marred by some swearing because the website still wasn’t behaving properly. Then I got the idea of getting Hazy to check it out from her end. Just before we left to go and see what Leonardo had been up to since he left Mr Belkevitz art class in Cumby High, I got a message from Hazy to say she could access the new website from her end down in Londinium. This was a relief because it meant that I could tick those damned nameservers off as DONE! It was also a pain because it meant the problem was at my end. Never mind, we’d drive in to Kelvingrove, see Dippy the diplodocus and also catch Leonardo’s exhibition of drawings. I didn’t actually expect to see him there, because he’s quite a famous artist now, but it would be good to see what JB had taught him.

When we got there, everyone else in Glasgow and the surroundings was there too. We drove round for a while, but the only place we could find wanted 40p to park for 30 mins. We were so far away it would take us a good 20 mins to reach the Art Galleries. That would leave us in deficit of 10 mins just to get back to the car if we just turned on our heels and walked back. What in the name of the wee man is in the heads of the people who make up these ridiculous parking charges. It’s not as if the parking places were in the middle of shops, just bays at the side of a road through playing fields. “Sorry, it can only be five a side today. That’s five MINUTES a side. Now off you go and play, your time starts now!”

Gave up. Did try to park within the Art Gallery carpark, but judging by the number of people cruising round, there weren’t many places to be had. It looked like musical chairs. When the music stops, try to find an empty chair. Drove home. Stopped at Costa for a coffee and a roll ’n’ sausage or a tuna wrap for Scamp.

When we got home I struggled for another hour or so with words and symbols I’d never seen before while Scamp went to Condorrat, partly to get out of the road, I think. Finally I too had had enough and I walked over to get dinner. Tonight’s dinner would be a large fish supper between us. On the way over I got the picture of the cherry blossom. As I saw it fluttering in the breeze I realised the first time I took a photo of that tree was around the year 2000 when the world was young, Brexit was a word that would be disallowed as not in the dictionary, in Scrabble and a 2 megapixel camera with an f2 lens was the marvel of the age. It was an Olympus DC-2000 Z. A beautiful camera that I sold to a colleague at school and which he still owns I think. Anyway this shot took PoD on a dull day using an Olympus E-PL5 with a 12-32mm lens and a much bigger 16 megapixel sensor. Sorry JIC just a little technospeak.

After the fish ’n’ chips we had a pineapple cake each, which actually had pineapple in it, but I don’t think the ‘cream’ had ever seen a cow. Then we watched another recorded episode of Portrait Artist of the Year, before I opened up my Linx 12 and got the surprise of the day when the website opened up in the new server. I won’t bore you with the details of how and why I knew it was the new server, JIC would just moan about no Technospeak warnings. It was working. Checked on the iMac and, yes, it was actually on the new server settings. In these days of instant results, you have to remember that Virgin Media takes at least 30 hours to realise that some settings have changed and refresh its lists or something. ‘Slow’ and ‘Treacle’ in the same sentence as ‘Virgin Media’ seems to be the name of the game.

Tomorrow, no computers until at least 12 noon. Maybe a trip to the countryside somewhere.

Just another Sunday

No breakfast in bed this morning. There was an F1 GP to be watched.

Up and having breakfast in the living room just after 8am. Interesting GP, slightly spoiled by the fact that Leclerc wasn’t allowed to race against Vettel. Come on Ferrari, it’s called a ‘Race’. If you keep protecting spoilt child Vettel, he’ll actually believe he’s number 1 driver. Be afraid Seb, the Russians are coming in the shape of Kvyat. I’m pretty sure he’ll have you in his sights and team orders won’t mean much then. Still a pretty good race.

Spent most of the afternoon making preparations for the mid-week, then got fed up and went for a walk in the sunshine in St Mo’s. Got a glimpse of three deer, but not before they saw me. I got a few shots of them, but nothing worth PoD. That went to a shot of the male and female flowers on a larch. Such a pretty thing and I only noticed it for the first time last year.

We went to the last ever Sunday Social at La Rambla in Paisley. Great food again. Black Pudding with Chorizo in a Red Wine Sauce was the star. Second was the Patatas Gradtinatas. Like I said yesterday, I’ll miss the food, but not the service. Really, four people working the bar with only one customer. One person took the order, passed it over to another who worked the till (after a long consultation with the menu). Meanwhile the first person poured the drinks and the second person took the money. What were the other two doing? It was anyone’s guess. It’s closing soon, no surprise to us.

Salsa was well run as usual by Shannon. I must say that for her, she works hard at providing social salsa dancing in and around Glasgow. It wasn’t as busy as we thought it would be, but we did manage a couple of hours dancing which was fine for us.

Gems day tomorrow, so I’ll get out of the way.

Out to lunch – 1 March 2019

Out for lunch at The Cotton House. Glad we booked!

First time we’ve been there and couldn’t get parked. Eventually found a space away round the back of the buildings. Had to walk for miles to get to the restaurant – slight exaggeration. I had Chicken noodle soup and Scamp had boring spring rolls. She had Chicken and Mushroom for a main I had the much more exciting Chicken with Ginger and Spring Rolls. It was good to have something other than our usual Chicken Chow Mien.

Came home via Lidl to get some fruit and maybe some coloured pencils which somebody on 28DL had said were worth trying. Apparently the artists in Kilsyth had thought so too, because there were none to be seen. We still managed to buy much more than ‘some fruit’ and came out with two laden bags.

Forgot to get my pills from Boots and petrol, so I went back out and returned by way of St Mo’s so I wouldn’t have to lug my tripod all the way from the house. My target today was one of the larch flowers which are so difficult to catch shooting freehand. The tripod did make it easier, but because the flowers are at the end of the branches, they move in even the slightest of breezes. Captured one successfully and that became PoD.

Basically, that was it for the day. Not the brightest day, the ISO the camera chose was 4000 which is quite high. A bit colder than usual too, but better to make the most of it because it looks like rain tomorrow.

Scamp, June and Isobel are going to a matinee of Sister Act tomorrow and I’ve volunteered to be taxi driver. That should give me some free time in the afternoon to get an apple drawing done. First one was done today. You’ll have to believe me because I aint going to post it!

The day that the rains came – 15 July 2018

It rained today, on St Swithin’s Day.

It hasn’t rained here for almost a month, then, today it rained. It was St Swithin’s day. If it rains on St Swithin’s, it’s supposed to rain for forty days. I suppose my shorts can go into the washing basket now along with the tee shirts and the short sleeved shirts. Might as well get the Bergy jackets looked out and the wellies. I should really start to sandbag the doors front and back to hold back the torrents. However, on looking on the bright side, I can put away the garden hose almost until September! If you believe the superstition, that is. What if you don’t? Does that mean it won’t rain on you? Will you have a little invisible umbrella shielding you from the downpour that’s soaking all the ‘believers’ ? I’ll go with that view. I’ll be an unbeliever, even if it means I have to keep watering the garden.

It was good to see the rain today, even if it wasn’t all that heavy. It was good to see the streets looking black again. Good to see the soil soaking up the moisture. I even put on my ‘rainy coat’ and went for a walk across to St Mo’s just to say I’d been out in it. The ground had that lovely smell of rain on dry earth that only comes after a long, hot, dry spell and the rain wasn’t cold. I even wore my shorts to better feel the warm rain. I managed to get some shots of a damp Soldier Beetle sitting on a Cow Parsley head and remembered that my mum used to call Cow Parsley, Dug’s Flourish. I never did find out why, but when I Googled the english version ‘Dogs Flourish’, back came confirmation from a few places on the Central Belt of Scotland, each with different possible reasons for the name. What’s in a name?

Under Scamp’s tutelage I cooked some stew using a combination of her mum’s and my mum’s methods. It worked, of course. With that lineage, how could it fail. That was dinner tonight. Something simple and homely. For me, Potatoes, Stewed Steak and Calabrese which is a variety of sprouting broccoli. Scamp substituted Ratatouille (or Rats) for the Stewed Steak. Both seemed to go down well, resulting in clean plates.

The rain persisted almost all day but is fading away now as darkness falls.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. No dancing because it’s Glasgow Fair Monday and although nobody bothers with ‘The Fair’, the STUC building is closed because it’s a local holiday. Old habits die hard.

A day of rest – 28 May 2018

I think we deserved it.

It may have been designated a day of rest, but Scamp didn’t get that memo. She was out cutting the front grass, strimming it and then began strimming the back grass. I did rake the cuttings from the back grass and dumped them in the compost bin, so I did contribute, but the majority of the work was done by Scamp. I don’t know where she gets the energy from. Just to make it look as if I was getting in the act, I planted some peas and then planted out my kale seedlings. At least I got my hands dirty.

After lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s and was amazed to see not one, but five dragonflies flying circuits round the wee pond at St Mo’s. Five dragonflies and it’s still May. Unbelievable. I caught one while it was resting and that made PoD. Lots of damsels out today too, so some of them join the dragon on Flickr with a pine flower to keep them company. It appears it’s the male flower and will turn into a pine cone later in the year.

Came home and got changed out of tee shirt and shorts into dressier pink shirt and trousers, no, not pink trousers(!) and Scamp drove us down to Milano for dinner. Pizza Italiana for me and Pizza Primavera for her. Both delicious. New pizza chef I think.

Back home we sat outside with a wee glass of wine and later we sampled our Strawberry Vodka, but it wasn’t as good as it usually is. Maybe the strawberries weren’t ripe enough or maybe I should have stored it in the cupboard, not the fridge. Both changes will be made in the next batch DV.

Another beautiful day and hopefully more to come. I think we may be going shopping in Falkirk if everything turns out as planned.