Baking, Cooking, Talking, Raining – 27 July 2019

Today we woke to rain, and it looked as if it was on for the day.

It rained and rained, just like the weather fairies had predicted. We gave up on the idea of going in to Glasgow. Standing in the rain in George Square listening to any kind of band isn’t the best use of a day. Instead, we threw ourselves into the preparations for John & Marion’s dinner. In my case, quite literally.

Scamp had been using the mixer in the morning, while I was clearing the dining table of computer and photographic junk. When she was finished I started weighing out flour and stuff to bake a loaf. I was just putting the bowl with the flour, yeast, water mixture into the mixer cradle when the whole thing slipped out of my hands and fell onto the hall carpet. The disgusting mess of slurry took both of us about half an hour to clean up. Then I had to start all over again and be more careful this time putting the bowl back in the cradle. Switched on and let it do its stuff for ten minutes. That gave me time to take the Dyson’s beater head to bits to clean the dough out of it. The bread actually turned out well, I was fairly pleased with it.

Still it was raining, but in one of the few dry spells I took the chance to go into the garden to get some photos. The rasps were PoD, but on Flickr you can see Scamp’s new Gypsophila. My mum was very proud of her great big gypsophila bush in the front garden. It really was a beautiful big plant. Maybe Scamp’s will grow to that size in a few years. The rasps won PoD because of the bright colours Red against Green is always a strong colour combination.

Dinner tonight was Melon Balls as starter, Lamb Leg Steaks with Potatoes and Calabrese as main (Scamp substituted Salmon for Lamb) and Syllabub as pudding. There was also cake in the form of Scamp’s Apple & Lemon Sandwich Cake which, in my opinion was better than last time although Scamp disagreed.

Sat talking after dinner for ages, just catching up with old friends. It was a great night.

Tomorrow (actually today, because it was a very late night, so this is catch-up) we will finish the washing up and put all the posh stuff back in the cupboards and hope we get some dry spells to go for a walk.

Coffee with Fred

Val was off on holiday to Dunoon, (serves him right) and Colin was being “The man who worked in the garden”. So it was just Fred and me.

Read for a while, trying to eke out the last few pages of “The Boy and His Dog at The End of The World” by C. A. Fletcher. (There you go, Hazy. That saves me emailing you). That’s when the aforementioned Hazy phoned and I had to dress and get down stairs to find out about all things London-side.

Out to meet Fred in Costa. Not so much a coffee shop as somewhere to leave the kids while you talk to your mates. That’s how the mothers in Cumbersheugh seem to view it anyway. Today was less screamy than usual with fewer weans trying, unsuccessfully, to jump from the top of the stairs to the land balletically at the bottom. Most of the ‘mummies’ just looked around and said those famous words of Mhairi’s “They bounce!” Our own conversations ranged around his sketches, my sketches, the world in general, how much better it was when we were younger. All true. Well, it was better when we were both younger. The world was a much better and safer place than it is today. After an hour and a half of reminiscing, we both went our separate ways. Me to go home for a late lunch and him to Tesco. We agreed to meet in a few weeks time.

Came home and tried unsuccessfully to coax the Sony TV to play the video that was on the memory stick I’d inserted. I got so fed up with the whole thing I took my Olys for a walk over to St Mo’s to see if there was anything worth photographing. Got the one at the top of the page and nice shot of a dandelion clock, but don’t bother trying to see it online, because somebody’s broken Flickr. It’s called Ongoing Maintenance apparently.

When I came home, I did the unthinkable and read the instruction book for the TV, where I found out that the format for the video was not MP4 using an H.264 profile (no, I don’t know what that is either), but MPEG (no, nor that one either). I tried converting a short video to MPEG and it worked! Hooray. About two and a half hours wasted and all I had to do was RTFM (Read The F*cking Manual).

Today’s topic for sketching is A Well-used Bag: Fred laughed when I told him. Fred has a dirty mind and an even dirtier laugh. The bag I drew was my old camera bag that I’ve recently sewn back to life again. I’d forgotten how useful it was to take only the camera you’re going to use with you and not a bucket full of lenses that you won’t use. Simple.

Made a focaccia again today to go with a lovely salad Scamp made. How on earth did some Italian punter years ago came up with the idea of pouring one and a half times the usual amount of water into a dough and then pouring a jug full of oil in too before he / she attempted to knead the slurry into something resembling a dough? What made them think it would work? The strange thing is, it works really, really well. I’d just like to know how they came up with such a strange recipe.

Tomorrow, we’re going for lunch somewhere, and then it’s going to rain.

A walk, a beer and a glass of wine – 17 May 2019

Another lazy start to another warm day.

Finally decided around midday that we would go in to Glasgow to get a birthday card and two miniatures of whisky. The reason for the whisky will become clear in a few weeks. Wandered through the Buchanan Galleries and bought two overpriced miniatures in the Whisky Shop. Across the road to Paperchase and bought a set of replacement black waterproof ink pens. Walked back up Buchanan Street and had lunch in Nero. A shared panini and a shared cake. Well, we are pensioners and have to be parsimonious. Scamp needed money from the bank and I was sent to get a plastic tub that would hold a miniature bottle of whisky. With that completed we drove home via Tesco and got the card.

Back home, (are you managing to keep up with this buying spree?) Scamp wrote the card and I checked that the bottle would fit in the tub. It did ( I bet you’re relieved). We walked over to Condorrat in the sunshine to post the card and on the way back we walked through St Mo’s so I could get a PoD which was yet another Large Red Damselfly. Rather than come straight home, Scamp suggested we continue on to the pub and I could have a quick beer and a wine for Scamp. The barman said he didn’t have any Shiraz, but he did have a Nottingham Hill. We both assured him Notting Hill would be fine. It was his first day on the job and here was I asking him for something that could have been in Swahili for all he knew. Mine was easier, just a pint of Stella. We sat in the ‘garden’ area at the back, in full sun, but sheltered from the cool east wind. It’s called a garden, but I think it’s a long time since anything has grown on that piece of land. We sat there for for about an hour sipping our drinks and discussing serious and slightly morbid topics.

Came home and I made Butter Chicken from a Spice Tailor packet served with rice and flatbread fried in a little olive oil. Quite delicious.

Today’s topic for sketching was An Old Machine. I don’t know if you’d call my dad’s hand drill a machine, but I would. Is it old? Well, I remember him getting the drill back in the ‘60s. Is that old enough for you?

Tomorrow we have no plans, but it’s raining tonight and it’s supposed to rain almost all day tomorrow. We may go out and we may not.

Embra – 20 April 2019

We’d said we’d go to Embra and we did.

Set off early and did our usual walk up from Haymarket station to Nero on Lothian Road then from there through the farmers market where I got a piece of Hogget Leg Steak and Scamp got a chunk of Focaccia. I also grabbed a PoD of the folk sitting in the sun.

From there we walked up to the Grassmarket and Scamp bought a wee bottle of Elderberry liqueur, although the rum liqueur they were selling tasted very nice. They didn’t have wee bottles of it, unfortunately, only big bottles. The place was mobbed. In fact Embra in general was mobbed. It was a beautiful day. Warm sunshine and very little wind which is strange for Embra because it quite often is the Windy City. I was beginning to regret wearing my leather jacket AND a jersey. One had to go, in fact, eventually both had to go.

We couldn’t decide where to go for lunch, so we headed for Princes Street Gardens via M&S where I went to get some fresh fruit while Scamp searched for the trousers she’s been looking for for the last week or so. I got the fruit, but Scamp didn’t find the trousers she wanted. However she did find a sun hat that looked good, so after some swithering about a colour, she opted for the plain white one.

We sat in the gardens for a while eating the fruit and people watching, but decided eventually that it was far too busy in Embra and we should just head for home. Went for the 2pm train and were there in plenty of time. Sat waiting for what seemed a long time when a message came over the tannoy that with apologies, the train was cancelled. There was nothing to do but walk back to the concourse and wait for the next train which was in half an hour. Then Scamp noticed that it too was cancelled. Apparently due to a signalling fault. She suggested we get the 2.15 train which wouldn’t stop at Croy, but we could go straight to Glasgow and get another train back. After all the ticket did say “Valid via any permitted route”, so we could have gone via Inverness if we’d fancied, but we didn’t, we just wanted to get home now. Got the 2.15 which did take us all the way to Glasgow and then got the Stirling train back to Croy. A journey that should have taken us 40mins had taken 2 hours. Strangely, the 2.15 train travelled exactly the same route as the one that was cancelled because of a signalling fault. Did they magically repair the fault for the 2.15 train to pass, but knew that it would be broken again when the 2.30 train was due to leave? Maybe they should just be more honest and say “Due to staff not being available because it was such a nice day”. Anyway, we got home.

Sat in the garden and scoffed a bottle of wine that had been in the fridge since Christmas. It would be getting near it’s sell-by date anyway!

Tomorrow we may go dancing in the Record Factory.

Frosty (no snowman) – 2 January 2019

I woke around 4am this morning and looked out. I thought it had been snowing, but I was mistaken.

Although we were both up and about fairly early, we couldn’t get our little ducks in a row properly so wasted a fair bit of time, although I did make some bread. My main task today was to get the calendars sorted and hopefully posted. I managed the former with the calendars punched, clipped and bagged, but when Scamp took a walk to Condorrat to post them, the A4 parcels wouldn’t fit in the post box. Obviously our post boxes are Eurosceptic Remainer boxes, not happy with these new fangled European metric sizes. So she had to bring them back and hopefully they’ll be posted tomorrow.

When she came back, it was my time to get out. I took a walk over to St Mo’s to see if the frosty stuff was still there. It was, and it was everywhere. My favourite shot and PoD is of a little twig frozen to the surface of a wee pond. To take it, I set the ISO to 200 manually focused at about the right distance and set the self timer. Then I could rest the Nikon on the ice and press the shutter release. It’s a good method if the ice is thick enough to hold the camera! I was holding the strap all the time just in case. This was the best of about four shots. I saw some other potential images, but would probably use the Oly for them if I get another day like today, because then I could see what the camera was seeing through the phone app. I’ll keep it in mind.  It was cold out there.  Temperature was allegedly -0.6ºc when I came in, but it felt a lot colder than that.  It’s now 1.6ºc, but still feels cold.

Scamp claimed dinner tonight. ‘Rats’ for her (no pun intended) and mince pie for me. Beans and potatoes for me and just potatoes for Scamp. Simply superb! Then it was more of the crumble for pudding and it had significantly improved since yesterday, but alas it is now gone.

Tomorrow I need to get up early to fix the kitchen light and after that we’re going out somewhere. Cabin fever is setting in.

Just the essentials – 26 December 2018

The essentials in question were milk, churros, strawberries and chocolate raisins

Felt a lot better when I woke today, and even better still after a shower. It felt like my head was my own again. It didn’t help with today’s Sudoku puzzle. You’d think that they’d make it a bit easier at Christmas, wouldn’t you? But no. Today’s was a real stinker. When I eventually solved it I had a cup of Christmas Blend coffee and then went out for a walk, I was feeling that good.

I walked over to St Mo’s, saw the group of seagulls standing on a wee hillock and took the shot. Then I went round the pond and was heading towards the Marks & Spencer food place at Broadwood roundabout, but had to stop and catch my breath because I was knackered. It’s amazing how a simple thing like a cold can sap your energy. However, I was on a mission. I was hunter-gatherer and I was out to get milk. Also the weather was more much more conducive to being out than it had been for the last few days.  No blue sky, but the clouds were quite high and it wasn’t raining.

Got to the shop and grabbed the Milk. That was when I saw the Churros and decided they’d be good for later. Next I chanced upon some Strawberries, Egyptian strawberries, but I wasn’t going to hold that against them, especially as they were reduced, being near their sell by date. Finally I grabbed a packet of Chocolate Raisins, which Scamp loves, as a thank-you for putting up with me yesterday. Got to the counter and the woman asked me “Any fuel?” I said “No, just the essentials. milk, churros, strawberries and chocolate raisins.” That made her smile, and me too when she replied “That will be £9.18 for your essentials then!” The walk back was a bit slower than the walk there and I managed to get the basis of this shot. It is a fake of course. The sky came from a library shot, but the Cow Parsley was real today. Blended seamlessly in ON1 2019.

After that we set to and cleared out the bottom level of the cupboard next to the bathroom as Angela next door said that the rodents in her house had chewed their way in there and started sniffing around some Christmas prezzies she had stored in there. We didn’t find any evidence of rodents in ours, but oh boy there was a whole load of junk, most of which has now been bagged ready to go to the dump on the next available day.

Today’s dinner was a much simpler and less extravagant affair than yesterday’s. Starter was Scamp’s “Just Lentil Soup”. Main was veg pakora I got at the butchers the other day and it was plenty hot and spicy. Pudding was a Fruited Caramel Brandy Pudding with a Brandy Caramel Sauce Centre. Quite a mouthful, as was the pudding. Oh yes, and I baked a loaf that we haven’t cut open yet, but looks good

Tomorrow we may take some plastic bags of rubbish to the tip. Maybe a walk and a light lunch somewhere too.

The wanderer returns – 10 December 2018

Scamp was on the road this morning on the return journey from Blackpool.

I was on the road even earlier, but I was walking. Just a gentle stroll around St Mo’s ponds then a walk through the trees. I’d been up earlier to check the traps and found I’d got one rodent. I thought at first it was a mouse, but later realised it was probably a small rat. Either way, it wasn’t going anywhere so I left it to go and get some photos in the hoar frost that lay over everything. Some beautiful lighting at that time in the morning. It was one of those shots that made PoD.

Finished my walk by going in to Condorrat to get bread and a couple of rolls. One of the latter would be eaten with butter and jam, washed down with a cup of my new blend 2 parts Cuban and 1 part Kenyan beans. Count the air miles and therefore the amount of CO2 that has been spread across the world all because of my desire to drink coffee. It’s worth it.
The other roll would hold a medium-rare square sausage. So called because it’s square and it’s made of sausage meat. Clever use of language there.

After my coffee and the roll ’n’ jam, I disposed of the rodent in the trap and nearly lost a finger resetting the trap. Checked the other traps, but they were empty. Next I set to work on cutting and laying the new carpet tiles in the downstairs toilet. As usual with these things, I started out very slowly and deliberately, and finished by cutting corners, literally. You’d never tell. Strangely only one of the six tiles had its nap running the wrong way. It looks good, so good that Scamp didn’t even notice that it had been done. Not surprising as the colour of the tiles is remarkably close to the original. It’s only when you walk on the new tiles you realise the quality is much better than the thin tiles that are now in the boot of the car, ready to be taken to the dump. I think I earned that medium-rare square sausage on a well-fired roll.

Scamp eventually returned about 4pm and after dinner we went out to Salsa where we learned or for us, re-learned an old move: Setenta Batman. One of the moves which look impossible until you actually try it. Jamie G described part of it as a “Matrix style turn”. I agree, but I can do it.

Tomorrow, a lazy day, maybe a bit less cold than today, but today was much less cold than a year ago. Go look here!

Windy Willy – 23 October 2018

Windy Willy was whirling past the house this morning.

Willy went to bother some other folks in the afternoon, but has returned to blow on us this evening.

It was a day of eating out of the freezer, for no other reason than we’ve a lot of stuff in there that’s needing used up. Scamp chose a chunk of salmon and I chose a short rib. The salmon just needed defrosting, but the short rib needed a marinade to get to work on it once it had defrosted. I made my usual marinade. It’s got four basic ingredients:

  • An acid
  • A sugar
  • A salt
  • A flavouring

Today’s mix was

  • White wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar for the acid
  • A squirt of honey for the sugar
  • A shake of soy sauce for the salt
  • A spoonful of mustard for the flavour

You can make it using your own ingredients, but the basic Acid, Sugar, Salt, Flavouring mix works well. There’s probably a Phd Chemist who could explain why it works 😉 but I’m not really bothered, it just works for me.
I put the marinade into a poly bag, shook it a bit to make everything mix properly and then dumped the meat in it and left it to rest in the fridge for an hour. While I was waiting for the marinade to work its magic, I baked a pizza from a bit of dough I’d taken from the freezer with the meat. Pizza wasn’t startling, but it did for lunch. I’d also brought some dough from the freezer, so I baked that into a loaf. When it was done I fried the meat in some oil in the Le Creuse, added some chopped onion and a chopped pepper then put the lid on an put it in the oven and turned the gas down to gas 3. It worked away at that for an hour or so before I turned it down and added some water and a chopped carrot. Lots of work, but fairly easy work.

Scamp wasn’t for going out, so I went out for a walk along the Luggie and that’s where PoD came from. Slow shutter speed this time. No complicated Photoshop actions and scripts. Must look for a decent pair of boots. My usual boots have no grip in muddy clay and they’re beginning to leak. Also got Inktober 23 done. It wasn’t until I came home that I realised that I’d drawn the exact same sketch before.  Finally found it on Flickr.  It was drawn in July last year.

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll be dancing if we can get past the closed streets because Hollywood is coming to Glasgow!

 

Dug wi’ a burst ba’ – 30 September 2018

Hazy wanted to Skype today. Skype said No!

Scamp got a message today from Hazy asking if we were free to Skype. It seemed a good way to test out Scamp’s new ‘puter’s communication setup. However …

We tried for about half an hour to get Skype to connect, well, that’s not entirely correct. We could see and hear Hazy, but nothing we did would allow her to see or hear us. We tried everything and eventually gave up on the shiny new HP and conducted the conversation on the iMac. After our virtual meeting was over, it was back to troubleshooting the PC version. I checked that the microphone was working in Wonderful Windows 10 and it was. I checked that the webcam was working in Wonderful Windows 10 and it was, however when we tried to combine these two successes in Skype it failed. Now who owns Skype? That’s right, Mickysoft. That probably explains why it didn’t work. Scamp told me not to waste the afternoon on it, but this was rapidly becoming a “dug wi’ a burst ba’ “ situation. I wasn’t going to let it go.

Eventually I had to give up. Uninstalled the troublesome Skype then re-installed it. When we got it working, but because Skype is a Mickysoft product, it registered it to Scamp’s login name, not the Skype name she’s had for the last fifty million years. Not only that, it had lost all her contacts. Uninstall and reinstall again and the same thing happened. Only once she’d logged out and logged in again could she change her Skype name. Why does Mickysoft screw up everything it gets its claws into? Finally we could communicate across the living room with a degree of feedback through Skype. I think we’re good to go now Hazy!

Most of the afternoon had gone, but there was some good light left, so I went for a walk around St Mo’s and spotted Mr Grey up a tree. He must have felt safe and secure there because he didn’t fly off even when I walked right to the shore of the pond and stole his soul for PoD. I was glad that I’d got him, because there was little else to photograph today.

Made some bread which we’ll need to have tomorrow because it was too late to have with our dinner. Also, the tomatoes that were roasting for the tomato soup are still in the tray in the oven because Mickysoft couldn’t leave Skype alone (and neither could I). That too will have to wait until tomorrow. However my lamb shoulder shank was very nice if a little fatty. The other one will do for tomorrow’s dinner. Scamp’s stuffed Portobello Mushroom looked dismal, but she declared it delightful.

Swallow Watch:  Almost forgot to mention, this week I did see some swallows flying very high and this is week 40.

Tomorrow? Well, it’s a free day. No Gems. What shall we do with it, I wonder?

Dragonflies, Porridge and Lentil Soup – 21 September 2018

Although not in that order.

Scamp was feeling a little under the weather this morning so I let her sleep on and got up and made some porridge for me. It’s a long while since I’ve had this Scottish breakfast. You can tell it’s the Scottish version if it comes unsweetened or even with added salt. Only sassenachs have honey / sugar / syrup on their porridge. Me? I take it as it comes. No salt and certainly nothing of a sugary nature. I make mine with oats, and milk. Boiled in the microwave for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. I find it funny, the looks I get, when we go on cruises and I add salt to my porridge. That look of horror from the english who don’t know any better 😉
After an hour or so, I took up her light breakfast. No porridge of any kind for Scamp. I was pleased to see her looking a lot better than yesterday.

We had an easy morning and after lunch Scamp instructed me in the noble art of making Lentil Soup. I’ve made soup before, in fact I’d half intended to make Tomato Soup for tonight’s dinner, but I’ve never attempted soup using the time honoured “a handful of this and a pinch of that and just about this amount of water”. It’s what my mum used in her cooking and what Scamp’s mum used too. I’m more a ‘time and temperature’ person, working to millilitres and grams where possible. Anyway, the soup turned out too thin, so I had to add “Just about a handful more lentils.” Then it was fine. I also made some bread using grams and millilitres, and felt so much more in control.

With the soup thickening and the bread proving, I walked over to St Mo’s to get some photos in the afternoon sunshine, because today we had sunshine almost all day. A bit of a breeze, but nothing like the gales we had midweek. PoD was the black dragonfly resting on the boardwalk over the mashes at St Mo’s. I used my usual method of taking a shot, moving closer, taking a shot, moving closer etc. Except, my final shots were taken at almost 1:1 and the dragonfly hadn’t even twitched. Maybe it was exhausted or maybe it was doing what dragons seem to do, sizing me up.

Came home and had soup and bread for dinner with a recovering Scamp. She does do a good lesson on soup making.

Tomorrow if the weather fairies are correct, should be a decent day, so we may go out for a run in a shiny clean Juke. Where, is open to suggestions!