Deone’s Seat – 11 October 2019

Today’s topic from my list was “Butterfly”. In October, in Scotland? Really?

Then I remembered Deone’s Seat. It’s to remember Deone MacRae who died, aged 15, from cancer. The story is much longer. Google her name if you’re interested. It’s not a memorial. First and foremost it’s a seat. It’s been powder coated a cheerful bright pink and it sits beside the pond at St Maurices park. The seat is cut and welded from 1/4″ sheet steel and is a fitting tribute. I went out this morning to sketch it and then added some colour later. It was my interpretation of the prompt.

Came back and Scamp was getting herself ready for a trip in to Glasgow, solo. That suited me. I’d a bit of virus killing to do on the iMac. Probably only the second time I’ve had to resort to a virus killer. I’d tried Bitdefender last night, but it’s a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It took 25 minutes last night and it still was only about 75% through on a short scan. Nah, I needed something quicker. I’d found the offending article, it was an extension in Safari, Apple’s worthless browser. Worthless or not it was harbouring a piece of dodgy software that needed excising. I’d read that Malwarebites was good, so I downloaded that and it quickly found, not one, but two pieces of malware and deleted them, or to be precise, quarantined them. I don’t like quarantine, I prefer deletion. So that’s what I did. Malwarebites it’s the way to go.

By this time Scamp was on the bus to Glasgow, so I had time to add some colour to today’s sketch. Plenty of time, so for once, I let one colour dry before adding the next. I was pleased with the result. Yes I know it’s not totally symmetrical and there are some rogue lines, but that’s what happens when you’ve half an eye on the rain clouds, half an eye on the swan that’s sidling up to you looking for an early lunch and half an eye on nosy folk asking “Are you drawing?” Luckily the only person who passed was a bloke jogging around the pond and he just nodded and gave me a Scottish “Aye” which can mean “Good Morning”, “Looks like rain” or just “Hi”. It never means “What are you doing here?” It’s just a nod and an “Aye.” I don’t think they do that anywhere else in the world.

With the sketch and the painting done, I did a bit of flying from Fuerteventura to Lanzarote. Not far, but still taxing until you work out how to do the ILS approach under autopilot. I know this is gibberish, but it’s interesting gibberish to me. Gave up after the third attempt and made my lunch. Piece on brie, apple and honey. Totally heavenly. Home grown apples too, James Grieve.

After lunch I walked down to M&S to get chicken for tonight’s dinner and also a box of their delicious Turkish Delights, bread and a couple of pastries for after dinner. Got a text to say that it was back to business, Scamp had returned.

PoD was a photo of St Mo’s pond that I took after sketching Deone’s seat. Looks very pleasant once you’ve spotted out the Bucky bottles and the crisp wrappers. Swans seem to like it anyway.

Tomorrow we may go to Embra. It depends on the weather, but I expect I’ll be driving part of the way, which means I won’t be able to partake of tomorrows prompt: A Fruity Cocktail.

Another wet day – 10 October 2019

Isobel was the visiting garden guru today.

Drove up to see the nurse about my recent blood test. She didn’t seem concerned about my sugar level, in fact she seemed pleased that it had come down and assured me that if I stayed on my regime it would continue to drop. I asked her about a leak I have in my eye after I bumped it with a pen on Tuesday. Yes, really. Clumsy I know. She told me to go to an optician and get it checked. Left with a smile on my face and a sample bottle in my pocket to be filled and returned to the surgery tomorrow.

Back home, Scamp was getting ready to go and get Isobel so she could assess the state of the garden. Basically Scamp’s been overcrowding the pots with too many plants. That and everything needs pruning and shaping. This is worse than Shannon’s styling classes! We had Broccoli soup for lunch and then Scamp showed her some of her holiday photos and that kept them amused for most of the afternoon. All the time the rain had been pelting down.

When Scamp took Isobel back home, I did a bit of armchair flying, then when the driver returned I drove up to the Town Centre to speak to an optician. In Specsavers the manager was very helpful and didn’t laugh too much when I told her what I’d done. The optician had a look and said I’d damaged a bit of the white of my eye, but that it was healing well. She gave me some ointment to put on it at night. I haven’t tried it yet as it seems to make your vision blur, but I’ll do it as soon as I get the blog written. I was relieved that it wasn’t anything worse and pleased that I’d got it seen to (pun not entirely intended).

By the time I was coming home, the automatic headlights came on, so there would be no outdoors photos today. In fact the only thing I could think of photographing was three of the roses that Clive had sent us. With a slow shutter speed to achieve a low ISO, they looked good. I know you really are interested in this JIC, that’s why I’m telling you 😉!

Today’s topic on my Inktober list was “A Radio. This is Scamp’s DAB digital radio. It’s the only discrete radio in the house, that is one that’s not built into something else. It’s so rarely that we use a radio these days. Scamp listens to Money Box on Radio 4 and I rarely listen to anything at all. Radios are and endangered species these days. This one was drawn in pen, then rendered with a water colour marker and a white pen. I also used lots and lots of Post It notes as masks to keep the edges neat. I thought a radio would be an easy topic. It wasn’t. Tomorrow the topic is “A Butterfly”. Not many of them around in October.

Not sure what we’re doing tomorrow. It looks like being wet again.

Butterfly memory – 12 September 2019

The day started as so many have recently with rain, but the blue skies appeared later.

Gas man came this morning to do the boiler maintenance and gave us the usual warnings that it’s getting old and needs replaced. I have days like that too sometimes.

After that we went out for the messages and managed to spend a fair amount in three different, though similar, shops. That’s the thing about choice. It gives you the opportunity to spend more. Mostly it was just stuff we needed anyway.

Just before lunch I spotted a Red Admiral feeding on the buddleia bush at the back fence. I managed to get a few shots of it before I frightened it away. Bummer.

Fred came over later in the afternoon to pick up the paintings John had delivered yesterday. We had an hour or so of fairly adult conversation and he introduced me to another interesting Gerry Cinnamon song “Diamonds in the Mud”. Worth listening to, if only for the Glasgow accent. In return I suggested he listen to “Canter” with its own collection of adult content.

When he left, so did I for a walk down Auchinstarry way. The light was really excellent by now and the hills were glowing. Today’s PoD came from the walk. It’s a group of tiny wee fungi growing on a dead tree near the Forth & Clyde canal.

When I came home, the butterfly was back on the buddleia, but this time I barely got a chance to switch on the camera before it was off. I swear it looked straight at me and flew off. I’m sure it recognised me as the big human who pointed his black box at it a couple of hours earlier. Of course it could have been a different butterfly, but that was the impression it gave me.

Cod Chowder for dinner. I thought it tasted ok and just the same as usual. Scamp thought it was thicker and tasted different. Maybe she was right.

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks ok. Saturday, not so.

A better day – 1 September 2019

One of those days where you just get things done. Well, some things done.

Went out early to make sure I had a photo for PoD. Yesterday I saw some toadstools over in St Mo’s and today I thought I’d go better prepared and get some wide angle shots of them. Unfortunately, when I got to the spot where I was sure I saw them, there was nothing there. After a bit of searching around I finally found where they’d been, but of the fungi there was nothing left but a bit of the stalk. It looked like something had eaten them. Hope they were mushrooms and not toadstools then!

I did see a brightly coloured Red Admiral butterfly, but it simply refused to settle on any of the Scabious flower heads. I finally gave up after getting one distant, out-of-focus shot of it, just to check when I got back home that it was, indeed, a red admiral. It was. The Peacock that became PoD was a much calmer individual and posed quite happily for me.

Dragonflies were out in force too loads of Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum). They are fairly small dragonflies. Red/orange coloured and easy to photograph as they like to sit on the metal strips on the boardwalk at St Mo’s, where I’m guessing they can pick up some heat from the metal after it’s been heated by the sun.

I made some beef olives today using beef ham that had been battered flat to help it roll round the mince core more easily. They would have been good if I’d turned the gas off after cooking them for half an hour, unfortunately it wasn’t until I smelled burning that I realised I’d turned the gas DOWN, not OFF as instructed. Oh dear. Well, the carbon is good for the digestion they say. Actually it’s people who burn things a lot who say that!

Dancing at the Record Factory in Byres Road tonight and really quite enjoyed it. We went a bit later, we thought, but it didn’t liven up for nearly an hour after that. I was exhausted, both physically and mentally by the time I called a halt. Scamp would have been happy to dance more! I think she is beginning to get over the Lurgi that’s been hanging over her. Maybe she needs a wee holiday.

Tomorrow I’m going in to Glasgow, hopefully to get my hair cut, because Gems will be here for their first practise of the new session. That’s usually a good time to be elsewhere.

Another roaster – 25 August 2019

It was a beautiful morning. Today was set to be another hot one.

Scamp wanted to go looking for plants today to bring some new colour to the garden. We headed off to Torwood to see what they could offer. As there was a 20% reduction on all plants, we expected there to be a big queue, but surprisingly the carpark was only half full. Grabbed a bundle of flowering plants and also some curly kale plus some leeks. Just something to fill up the raised bed.

Back home and after the usual Sunday fried lunch I had a bit of a longer snooze than I’d anticipated while Scamp planted out her flowers, then sat and read in the garden. I don’t know how she can do it with the noisy neighbours, their adult kids, plus the grand weans shouting at each other. I think some of them must be deaf. That’s why they keep shouting instead of conducting a normal conversation.

When I woke I realised I still hadn’t a firm favourite for PoD, so I put a pair of shorts on and went over to St Mo’s to see what was what. Spotted a Painted Lady right away, feeding on a scabious flower. Banged a few shots of that into the E-M1. Got a few shots of a dragonfly too, but it was really far away across the bog and I wasn’t going wading in St Mo’s bog. You never know what’s under your feet there. Well, you do know, and that’s worse than not knowing.

That sort of summed up Sunday. Just another hot day, but finally I have a picture of a Painted Lady to present to the waiting public.

Tomorrow Scamp’s off with the Witches to Glasgow and I’m off the leash for a few hours.

Curry, Dragons and a Comma – 24 August 2019

Hamilton for a curry, nowhere to park in Strathaven, but beasties at Drumgrew. That’s the synopsis, here’s the detail.

Drove to Hamilton to have a curry in Bombay Cottage. Now if my brother hadn’t mentioned going there about a year ago, I’d wouldn’t have remembered this was my favourite eating place in South Lanarkshire. Thankfully he did and we’ve been going regularly since. Chicken Tikka for me today to replace my usual Chicken Rogan Josh. Not as good as the CRG, but the curry sauce was far more tasty than anything I’ve had elsewhere.

We’d nowhere to go after that, so I suggested we should drive up to Strathaven to see if any of the balloons were flying. Bad move. Nowhere to park in the town and it looked as if most of the folk were parking in a farmer’s field about two miles from the park where the balloons were supposed to be. We didn’t stop. I’d seen the balloons before and it’s impressive, but not worth the two mile walk along a single track road that’s advertised as having passing places. The ’s’ in ’places’ makes it sound as if there are more than one passing place. This is a case of bad advertising I think. So we drove back into Strathaven and got some petrol for the thirsty Juke and then drove home in 24º which isn’t bad for the latter half of August in Scotland.

Scamp had decided to top up her tan in the garden when we got back and I was thinking I might take the Dewdrop out to see if there were any brambles worth picking. It looks like I was about a week early as there were very few in my favourite places. I got about 250g which is very poor. Hopefully today’s sun and the rain that’s forecast for the beginning of next week fatten up the berries I’ll get some next weekend.

What I did get was some photos of a Comma butterfly, so called because of the white ‘comma’ shape on its underwing. I also grabbed a shot of a Common Darter dragonfly feeding on a grass flower head. So not a wasted afternoon after all. Sat for an hour in the garden afterwards with Scamp, drinking Staropramen and pretending we were in a little café in Hvar.

Tomorrow looks like it will be more of the same, hopefully. That would be nice. May go to raid a garden centre!

Glasses, beasties and a tick – 19 August 2019

Out in the morning to Larky to get my new glasses which are helping me to write this blog post.

Not a lot else to report. Rain showers threatening all day, but not quite materialising. Finally went out for a walk along the canal and got some interesting photos of beasties. Lots and lots of Peacock butterflies and also a couple of Painted Ladies, but none that wanted to linger long enough to get their photos taken.

No dancing tonight because Jamie G is off working somewhere, so it was a more leisurely dinner. Prawn & Pea Risotto made with our own peas, but not home grown prawns. Added a small dollop of Mascarpone at the end instead of butter and it seemed to taste quite good.

After a snooze on the couch I discovered the tiny wee tick on my upper arm. Tiniest wee tick I’ve seen. It’s gone now, but the nip lingers on.

PoD was a hover fly giving itself a good scratch on a leaf.

Tomorrow we may go to Perth.

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.