A Morning Walk – 27 October 2019

We hadn’t been for a Sunday morning walk for months.

We drove over to Colzium estate for a walk among the trees. They have the most amazingly coloured Japanese Maples. I’d forgotten just how many there were. Unfortunately the place was looking a bit run down. The bandstand must have been bad because it had been put in a cage, or maybe it was just falling down. Loads of trees blown down and some looked as if they’d been there some time. The curling pond was almost completely silted up. The trees that were still vertical were magnificent, but the rest of the park was looking very sad. Such a shame. I did get today’s PoD which was a blob of moss growing in a crevice of the old road bridge at Colzium.

After lunch, Scamp walked down to the new shops to get some ‘messages’ and when she returned she reported that it wasn’t as cold as she’d expected. That gave me the impetus I needed to get out myself and have a walk over St Mo’s. With the clocks going back this morning, the days seem to become a lot shorter and this is most obvious in the late afternoon. I’d a photograph in mind and it relied on bright sunlight from a low sun. I almost caught it in one shot, but I think I missed the perfect time by a few minutes. Maybe another day. I’ll use either PhotoPills or The Photographer’s Ephemeris to work out the exact timing for it next time. Great apps, they allow you to find the optimum time for directional lighting anywhere in the world. They even work with light striking along a path in Kilsyth!

I was making dinner tonight and it was Chicken Cacciatore from one of Scamp’s cookery books. It was a bit fiddly to make, but it tasted very like her’s, so I must have made it right.  On the subject of food, today my Inktober list said “Bread”, but I included a glass of wine in the background. Then I drank the wine, which was perhaps a mistake on so many levels.  I could say that I’d baked the bread myself, but in fact it was a Warburtons Multi Seed and Grain and does taste just like home made.

Spoke to JIC at night and got the full story about the dummy interview he’s sent us. We both thought he’d managed the interview really well. Although we could see that he was taking the whole thing very seriously, he did inject a bit of humour too. A scary thing to volunteer for, especially knowing it was being filmed. Well done you!

Stayed up late to watch an ‘eventful’ Mexico GP. It’s amazing to listen to the drivers’ versions of events which vary greatly from the actual scenes you’ve been watching.

Tomorrow (or to be more exact, Today) is Gems day. I’ll make a sharp exit.

Another lazy day – 29 September 2019

This one won’t take long to write.

Talked to Hazy on Skype this morning to get the updates on all things down south. After that we timed a walk to the ‘new shops’. Just around 10mins since you’re asking. Official reason was to get the makings of tonight’s dinner which was Braised Peas with Bacon, Lentils and Cod. We substituted Haddock for Cod, but other than that, stuck closely to the recipe. Also for once I got my act together and started some bread dough before lunch, which meant it was almost ready for dinner.

Went out in the afternoon to get some photos and got today’s PoD which is a ‘take one, get one free’ of two flies on a grass stem. Made the dinner as described above, watched the Russian GP where karma took Vettel out of the race. That’s what you get when you think you’re better than everyone else.

Spoke to Jamie after that, and basically, that was the day in a nutshell.

No salsa tomorrow and no Gems either because it’s September Weekend here. Scamp would like to visit a garden centre to get bulbs for next year, so we may do that, all being well.

See, I told you it wouldn’t take long to write. Some days are like that.

More brambles, more nettles and bread – 10 September 2019

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and caught up with life down London way. Actually she phoned just as Scamp was beginning to defrost the freezer, so it gave her an excuse to leave that to itself for a while. And did you know Hazy that you phoned at 10:10 on the 10th of September. There, that’s a little bit of trivia for you!

I’d promised to bake another focaccia loaf today, before lunch I got it all organised and bunged it all in the mixer then left it to its magic for about 15 minutes. Paul Hollywood recommends that you knead it by hand, just to get the feel of a wet sticky dough. Aye Right, Paul, but whatever floats your boat, as they say. For me, a wet sticky dough is just what a food mixer is designed for.

After lunch, Scamp was off to the town centre just to wander round by herself for a while I think. I’m sure she told me the ‘reason’ for her trip, but I’ve forgotten. Meanwhile I got dressed for cycling and went out to get more brambles. You can never have too many of those little purple berries. I ignored the road closed signs and cycled down towards Drumgrew Bridge. I did manage to get a few handfuls of berries, but then when I turned the corner to head down to Sunday’s berry bushes, the road was closed off because great big lorries were unloading tons of asphalt on to it. Why didn’t they warn me? Oh, yes, they did. Ok, nothing for it but to cycle back up the hill and find some more. That’s when I remembered the old road covered by trees now that used to be a good spot for berries. Luckily it was still there hidden by a line of hawthorn hedges and there were loads of berries. Filled the bag with over 800g. Got soaked, of course because it was really wet underfoot and also got stung again by the late summer nettles that seem to have a lot more bite in their sting. On the plus side, I found today’s PoD which is a Metellina mengei spider. It took me over an hour when I got home to ID it on Google.

Back home Scamp had returned and the dough had completed its first prove (rise). Sorting it out was so easy last time. This time I’d to shout “Help!” to get Scamp to give me a hand with the unruly dough, but between us we got it under control. It was soon baked and even sooner consumed. It’s messy to make and used lots and lots of the EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), but it’s worth it, just as long as you don’t hand knead it.

Tonight it’s raining and it’s going to go on all night with high winds too, but it’s forecast to clear up tomorrow. Let’s hope the weather fairies are right.

Brambles and Nettles – 8 September 2019

The day started with a visit to Calders garden centre for yet more plants.

Drove to Calders. Well, it’s a long walk there and an even longer walk back carrying a plant, a new plant pot and a bag of sharp sand. It made sense to take the car! You’d hardly recognise Dobbies as was. Much larger parking area, totally redesigned frontage and inside of the shop. Unfortunately the plants area is just as random and disorganised as ever. Lots of tat for sale inside, but if you’re looking for a watering can rose they don’t have one. Style over substance perhaps. Still we got the sharp sand, the flower pot and the plant, so we shouldn’t complain too much – shouldn’t, but did.

After lunch I got ready to go cycling for brambles and despite the threats of rain, I had a dry run and grabbed about 400g of berries. They are much harder to come by than last year and much later too. There may be more later in the week hopefully. Hopefully there will be less nettles though. My legs are still stinging from today’s forays into the nettle patches.

Scamp made potato and leek soup followed by Trout and Prawn Risotto for dinner and both were delicious.  I made some focaccia which was quite good, but needed better olive oil.

Watched an interesting Monza GP. Not a fair one as Leclerc won after flouting the rules a couple of times. Of course the road to fairness against an Italian team at the Italian GP is an uphill struggle, but it needn’t be so blatant or you just turn people off. Poor Vettel, he should concede the crown to his younger partner now. He’s becoming a liability. Let’s hope he wakes up to that before he does something with more serious consequences.

Spoke to JIC and got an update on all that’s happening down Cambridge way. Good to hear that he’s had a chance to get some gardening done and that his labours are bearing fruit … literally!

PoD was a group of fungi I saw when I was taking a break from bramble picking.

Tomorrow is Monday which means Gems and Salsa in that order.

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.