New Specs – 30 July 2019

Off to Larky in the morning to get our eyes tested.

Drove to Larky and spoke to the nice man at Simpsons Opticians who said my eyes were fine and I didn’t need new glasses. That was before he looked at the scratches on the old glasses. Then he said “Oh yes, I see the problem”. The problem is that I don’t see through the old glasses, so I ordered a new pair which should be available soon.

Of course the optician had to put drops in my eyes to irritate me and make me squint when I walked outside into the not so bright sunlight. That made driving difficult so I had to drive carefully to Lanark Road End garden centre to get some lunch and allow my eyes to return to normal. The place was a nightmare with noisy weans charging about the place and everyone shouting. Do the drops make your hearing super sensitive as well as your eyes I wonder? Still, I survived the Babychino disguised as a Flat White and the roll ’n’ sausage that had about a tin of pepper in it. <Thinks! Do the drops make your taste buds supersensitive too?> Walked round what used to be a garden centre but now looks a bit like an Urban Ex centre with broken flower pots, dead plants and empty staging. Maybe all the gardeners are on holiday. We left.

Drove back home through some light showers, expecting the heavy cloudbursts that were forecast, but never appeared. Scamp went on a scouting party to Tesco and when she returned, I went out for a walk down the Luggie and got today’s PoD of the poppies. Saw some butterflies that might or might not have been Painted Ladies. The ones that fly incredible distances to enjoy our usually cold summers. They will be disappointed this year with all the heat that’s in the air. Back home it was prawn stir-fry for dinner, a Scamp special.

That about summed it up for the day. Not a lot done, but maybe tomorrow will be better. It’s already feeling better. Weather fairies are predicting more rain showers and possible thunderstorms as well. Scotland in the Summer.

Butterflies, Buddleia and dancing the Swivel ’n’ Pivot – 24 July 2019

Dancing and butterflies, but not at the same time.

The day started with an attempt at making buttonholes. Not as easy as it seems and with the sweet, sweet voice of the oriental tutor from the Brother DVD ringing in my ears, it was mystifying. Eventually I found the secret, sneakily hidden away in another part of the tutorial. It was simply a case of trial and error to find the correct stitch length. After that we were “cooking with gas”. By the time I’d sussed it out, it was time to dress properly (Shorts are not deemed suitable for ballroom dancing) and drive in to Glasgow to dance. BTW, if all this stitchery talk is becoming boring, fear not. The end is in sight.

Glasgow was steaming, not to be confused with steamin’, that’s a totally different thing. The heat was unbearable and the humidity was as high as I’ve ever seen it. And we were going down to an airless dungeon to dance! Right, that makes sense. I don’t know if the heat and humidity had frazzled our brains, but we couldn’t put a foot right in Jive, but we fitted a few of the moves together to Anne Marie’s satisfaction. Even better, there was a fan in the room and that did help to cool things down. Quickstep was fairly good until AM decided we needed stretched a bit and taught us the new part of the routine called Swivel ’n’ Pivot. We were a disaster. However after a load of clipped heels and stood-upon toes we were getting the basics. Even tonight with the settees pushed back and the living room turned into a dance floor, we were struggling with it and beginning, just beginning to get it connected up with the normal Quick, Quick, Slow. Not there yet, but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Back home we decided not to go to Salsa tonight. Reasons were it was hot still. There are usually too many men, so I have to sit out. It’s a forty minute round trip for an hour of a class that’s well below our level. Scamp offered to make dinner which was Fish Fingers, Egg ’n’ Chips. What’s not to like? While she was making it a flicker on my flowering buddleia bush caught my eye. It was a butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell as it turned out, but a BUTTERFLY on MY BUDDLEIA. This might not be a great occurrence to most folk, but I’ve been carefully tending, pruning and feeding a buddleia for years and years and it finally deigns to flower some time in October when all the butterflies have gone. The woman at the garden centre where I got the one that’s flowering now gave me this advice. “Dig a hole, put it in, water it and leave it.” That’s what I’ve been doing wrong all this time, being too kind to it. At least now I know. The butterfly on the buddleia made PoD.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow in the afternoon.

A walk in the country – 16 July 2019

It looked like rain today, sew I got stuck into the waistcoat again.

The first bit was easy, just sewing up some of the lining material to make the belt for the back.  Managed that without much bother, then had to consult with Scamp about these bloody darts.  That clarified it a bit and after doing as I was told (for once) the mysteries of the darts disappeared.  While Scamp went out to get her hair cut I finished off the darts for the inside lining of the back and felt quite pleased with myself.  The ouside of the back was a bit more problematic, but again, remembering Scamp’s suggestions about pinning and basting before sewing, I got that bit done too.  Decided it was time for lunch and we halved the other quiche from yesterday.  Well to be honest, I had half and Scamp had a quarter with another quarter in the fridge for tomorrow perhaps.

After lunch I decided enough was enough and I’d leave the rest for another rainy day.  Besides, the threatened rain hadn’t appeared, so I thought I’d go out for a walk to get some photos.  Asked if Scamp wanted to come with me and was surprised when she agreed!  Scamp doesn’t like going for a walk when I’m toting a camera … or two.  However, I was sure she’d enjoy this walk, and if not enjoy, then at least find it better than it could be as we’d be walking on a tarmac road.  Drove up to the parking place behind Fannyside Lochs, yes Lochs, because there are acutally two lochs split by the road.  I found an interesting website:  Georeferenced Maps where you can overlay a Google Maps image with a variety of old maps.  Lots of tweaks too like the ‘Spy View’ that puts a small circle of old map under your mouse pointer and you can compare and contrast yesteryear with today’s maps.  That’s where I found that the two lochs were originally one loch split by the road.  Now the smaller of the two lochs has shrunk considerably.  To get back to the walk, we parked and walked back along the minor road to the place where it joined the Slamannan road, then turned and came back.  It was a lovely warm day with light cloud and some blue sky.  Not as much blue sky as the previous days, but as we’d been prepared for rain today, we were happy with what we got.  Managed to get a few photos of a small brown butterfly that seemed to be following us.  I thought at first it was a Small Heath, but it turned out to be a Ringlet.  It’s easy to see why with all the ring markings on its wings. That became PoD.

Drove home and while Scamp made what turned out to be Mutter and Mushroom Paneer, I took the bold step of joining the outside back to the outside fronts of the waistcoat and could put it on for the first time to check the size.  It looks OK.  That was definitely it for today.  Scamp’s curry was an absolute winner.  Just hot enough to be on the verge of being too hot, but lovely and spicy too.  Made from a recipe book we bought in Woolworth’s many, many years ago.  I don’t think we’ve had a bad curry from it yet.  Today’s was the best for a long time.  We did need some ice cream afterwards though.

Hopefully dancing tomorrow and my turn to get my hair cut.

 

Another Beautiful Summer’s Day – 21 June 2019

Actually it was Midsummer’s Day.

Today was a day for getting out, driving somewhere scenic and taking lots of photos, so we did none of these things. Instead, we lazed around all morning, then Scamp went out to meet the Witches for lunch at Milano Express. I had a meagre lunch of toast pizza, which to the uninitiated is a slice of bread with drizzled olive oil toasted both sides under the grill, then spread with the remainder of a tin of tomatoes on one side covered with cheese (preferably Mozzarella) and toasted to within an inch of its life. It’s actually very nice!

Afternoon was spent cutting out the pattern for a waistcoat that Scamp had bought for me last Christmas. It’s tricky cutting out the extremely thin tissue paper these patterns are printed on. Scissors are a bit slow, the rolling Alfa cutter is fast but inaccurate but the scalpel is almost ideal. That’s what I used, the scalpel. With the six pieces cut out and pinned to the wall, I felt in charge of the situation for the first time since I opened the pattern. Next I read, re-read, made notes and re-re-read the vague instructions written in a language new to me, using words like darts and pin-tack and selvage. I waited for Scamp to return from her lunch date to explain them to me and to bring me food in the form of a meat-feast pizza.

After I’d consumed the pizza and interrogated Scamp to find out what I was expected to do to assemble this waistcoat from the pieces of cloth, because it appear that the pattern is not the actual waistcoat itself, but just a jigsaw puzzle that you use to help create the pieces of cloth that in turn must be sewn together to make the aforementioned waistcoat. Who knew that waistcoats were so complicated? After having had that explained I went out for a walk to St Mo’s to find some photos. What I found was the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary you see here and it was PoD. I was playing around with the machine-gun like sequential shooting setting which fires off five frames per second in total silence for as long as you hold the shutter button down for. Forty odd frames in my case. All done in eight seconds. Try doing that with your Practika Nova!! From those forty odd frames I got one sharp one, well, two sharp frames that were seamlessly welded together to make the photo you see here.

Back home there was nothing worth watching on terrestrial TV, so I watched another episode of Good Omens on Prime. Great entertainment!

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll go out somewhere scenic and take lots of photos.

A day among the butterflies – 29 April 2019

Also a bit of portrait painting.

Scamp was out today for coffee with Isobel, that meant I had a few hours to myself. I chose to do some washing. The towels basket was overflowing, so it seemed a good idea to run them through a washing cycle while I was upstairs painting. Good time management. With the towels happily cavorting in the washing machine, I was free to spread some acrylic paint on a piece of paper. Happy with that, I moved on to the even messier and smellier oil paints. They may have both those negative properties, but they are buttery and lovely to paint with. I spent a happy hour or so wearing an old tee shirt and an old pair of jeans, slapping paint on to the paper. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s fun.

When Scamp returned we had lunch and then I drove to the garage to book the Micra in for MOT. After that, it was still a lovely sunny day, so I drove on down to Auchinstarry and went for a walk along the canal. Lots of other folk were down there too, most of them cycling. I crossed over the plantation and found that the dandelions were in full bloom and doing a roaring trade with the butterflies. Tortoiseshell butterflies were the biggest takers and it was one of them that made the PoD. Others I saw were Peacock with the round ’eyes’ looking like little targets on their wings and also the lovely little Orange Tip. So well named.

It really was a beautiful day, but it was soon time to come home and make the dinner. Tonight it was Penne with Tomato Ragu and Bacon. Quite tasty, but maybe just a little bit too salty and maybe a bit dry if you’re being picky and we’re always picky.

Salsa for the beginners tonight was the amazingly confusing Setenta y Cinco. For us advanced or “Rueda Club” it was “Sanza” and a twisty turny move with an
unpronounceable name that apparently came from Game of Thrones. I didn’t catch the name, but Catherine though it could be Tiramisu! Also reprised “Sequentia”. Really, really fast Rueda to finish off the night. Most enjoyable.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to go for beer and lunch with the Auld Guys.

Last full day in the sun – 21 November 2018

The sun was out so we were too.

After breakfast we sat and read in the sun, then we went for a walk, but we were soon back again in the sun. There was packing to do, but the sun was more important and it won again.

After lunch Scamp went down to the pool for more sunbathing and I went for a final walk over the lava rocks, hoping for a good final pic. I got some more shots of the Brimstone that was still fluttering around the rocks. However, the winner of PoD was a moody shot of some cactus against the sky. I also remembered to get some shots of baked mud to use as textures in photos that need a bit of extra grunge.

Back at the hotel I started my packing because Scamp had already completed 90% of hers. Then it was out to dinner in the main dining room. Sat inside after dinner and played another round of UNO. No definite winner this time round, so it looks like Scamp is the 2018 Holiday UNO Champion. A few drinks and back to the room to finalise my packing and finish off the gin. Neither of us were desperate to see the Crazy Show by the entertainment team and the last time we’d looked there were dozens of kids from the kids club pushing little chairs round the dance floor while the singers, who were the live music for the night, were trying to ignore them. Chair pushing seems to be a big thing at Riu Paraiso. Kids seem to practise it every night, getting in everyone’s way. If the americans can get good at it, look out for it in the next Olympics. As a result, it didn’t look as if we’d get a dance tonight. What we did do was sit in the room with the sliding door open and finish the aforementioned gin.

Just before we went to bed, I was sure I could hear a mosquito’s high pitched buzz and once we turned out the lights, I was sure there was one in the room. I thought I’d silenced the little buzzer, but I was wrong.
Tomorrow is going to be a long day. We needed a bit of sleep.

Bad Loser! – 19 November 2018

After breakfast we sat in the warm sun in case it would disappear. It didn’t.

We sat in the sun for most of the morning. Later when it appeared that the sun was staying with us for the day, we went swimming. I swam in both the pools. One was cold and the other was warm by comparison, but not by absolute temperature. Some people who waded in to the ‘warm’ pool thought it cold! This was the pool with the bar and the underwater bar stools. All it lacked today was a barman. He was otherwise engaged clearing tables and serving drinks in the other bar outside the pool.

After lunch Scamp went sunbathing I went looking for dragonflies. I thought I’d seen one yesterday when I was coming back from the lava fields. I didn’t find any dragons, but got a few shots of a Brimstone butterfly photos. I wished I’d brought the Oly M5 with the macro lens, but you can’t have everything. The Teazer and the iPhone were doing sterling duty as default image grabbers. Thought I saw a young fox, but it turned out to be a feral cat.

Later we went for a walk and got then wrote postcards. Couldn’t find a postbox, so that’s tomorrow’s task.

Watched a beautiful sunset this evening. Lovely colours and massed clouds with the sun finally going down behind some palm trees just outside Los Pocillos. That became PoD.

We had forgotten to bring our usual assortment of games, so I bought an UNO card game. Scamp won five games in a row against my none! Not a happy bunny! Sitting in the covered area with the flame heaters on.

Tonight’s show was about dance. Quite funny and enjoyable. Lady in Red sketch was memorable. Drunk woman at the end of the night was not funny! Not Scamp I hasten to add!!

Big Boots To Fill – 30 July 2018

I wanted to take my bike out today, but off-road, not on-road.

I’d seen a bloke down at Auchinstarry with a Juke, casually sliding his mountain bike into the car once the back seats had been folded down. I knew the car had a good big boot, but the secret to the ease with which he could carry his bike is that once the seats are folded down, the raised boot deck provides a flat surface from the rear of the car to the back of the front seats. If he could do it, so could I. I forgot that he had a mountain bike and I have a hybrid. His wheels are just that bit smaller than mine. That meant I had to remove my front wheel to make the bike fit, but fit it did. I also had to cover the folded down back seats with a sheet of heavy duty polythene that I found up in the loft. The main thing is it worked.

Cycled along the railway path almost to Twechar, then took a right turn and cycled along a rough track through some fairly recently planted trees out almost to Queenzieburn and from there back to Twechar. From there I went along the canal to the steps to Shiva Pend which is a tunnel under the Forth & Clyde canal to allow a burn to run down to join the River Kelvin. It’s a strange wee place which was built apparently in the 18th century. Wandered around there watching tiny wee trout trying to catch flies while I was trying to take some photos. Climbed back up to the canal and realised that it was beginning to rain. Down at the pend the overhanging trees had given some shelter, so I hadn’t noticed the rain. I decided that would do for today and headed back to Auchinstarry along the canal and passed four blokes in two canoes. Crossed over at the Plantation where I got today’s PoD which is a Painted Lady butterfly sunning itself on the warm stones. I thought I’d avoided the rain, but then it came on with a vengeance and I got back to the car just before I got completely soaked. Bike dismantled and back in the car then up the road.

Scamp made dinner tonight while I got ready to go to salsa. Salsa was all twists and turns and awkward moves which didn’t do my poor wee knee any good, but I survived and it feels a bit better tonight. Tonight’s move was called Venezuela. Jaime would approve.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but the weather looks wetter than today.

Ticking Tuesday – 3 July 2018

Same start as yesterday. Still trying to get used to the sounds of the city back home I think.

More catchup on blog posts. Then spoke to Hazy on Skype which is now flying the Mickysoft flag and becoming an absolute bastard to use. No surprise for a Mickysoft product. If you want a good app broken, give it to Mickysoft.  After we’d signed off, I found that I’d picked up a tick yesterday. First one for ages. Must remember to be more careful.

Another trip to Tesco for more supplies and then I went for a run in the car hoping for more dragonflies up behind Fannyside Loch. Didn’t find any, but usually they are later than they are here. Ended up walking along the Luggie. Saw a deer but it was too far away and too deep in the long grass. Settled on a Red Admiral as PoD.

Later in the afternoon did more blog and Flickr posts.  Flickr now up to date.

Watered the garden in the evening and the thirsty wee plants soaked it all up.  Still hot.  G&Ts all round tonight and an early bed. Scamp’s cold seems to be improving, thankfully.

Tomorrow we’re intending to go dancing! And me wi’ a bad leg tae!

The Constant Gardener – 17 May 2018

Today I had the car booked in at Halfords to get the dash cam wired in properly.

We were told that it might take up to 2 hours to do the job, but after having a quick look, the bloke said it would only take 15 minutes. He was correct. With the work done and paid for we drove to Torwood Garden Centre for Scamp to buy some (more) plants for the garden. We ended up with quite a car full, but she has it all planned out. She knows where they are all going, and I believe her. I got some leafy broccoli looking plants whose name escapes me at the moment and we also got a bay tree to replace the one we lost to the winter snows. All the rest were flowers. I’m sure they’ll all look beautiful.

Went out for a walk and left Scamp to her digging, potting and pottering. Got a good shot of Mr Grey and another of a young deer just losing its winter coat, but PoD goes to the Orange Tip butterfly that sat patiently for me to focus the new macro lens on. The lens is a prime (non-zoom) and is as sharp as a tack. You can see the butterfly above, but you’ll have to go to Flickr to see the other two.

When I came back there was just enough time for a glass of wine in the sun in the garden before dinner. Dinner tonight was Neil’s Chicken and Wild Rice Salad. It’s a firm favourite in the summer and went down especially well tonight.

Tomorrow Scamp and the Witches are off on the town, although which town isn’t totally settled yet. Me? I’m off the leash for a day, so I think I may go and take photos. Now there’s a surprise!