Out for a run

Up and out early today and off with a flask, some coffee and some biscuits. A day in the country.

Set off in sunshine and drove up to Perth, well actually we bypassed Perth and continued on in the general direction of Dundee until the satnav found our turnoff to Glendoick Garden Centre. Fairly large and bewildering labyrinth of interconnected buildings and a large area of plants. We were quite impressed with the range and quality of the plants. Only the roses looked like the runts of the litter. Some with no buds left to open, some with what looked like a bad case of mildew on the leaves. Maybe the good ones had been snapped up already, maybe they hadn’t received all their stock yet. The rest of the plants looked fine and Scamp picked a couple of Coreopsis plants, one for herself and one for a friend. I got a cheap bag of nearly out of date Earl Grey tea and also an equally old bag of coffee beans which surprisingly came from The Bean Shop.

We were looking for somewhere to sit and have a cup of coffee and a bite to eat, just a parking place really as we’d brought a flask and some biscuits ’n’ cheese. Found a parking place using the satnav and followed its directions up what turned out to be a narrow private road with speed bumps (and I mean ‘bumps’) every 10 metres! Eventually reached the top and there was the parking place. Just what I’d asked for. A parking place. No view, just a place to park. We had our coffee and biscuits and I guessed that if we continued along the road it would take us to Perth, and it did, on a real public road with no speed bumps.

After driving through Perth we started heading home and noted the heavy looking black clouds. One lot to the north and one lot to the west. We were heading south west and I didn’t think we were going to outrun both lots, because they seemed to he dropping a fair amount of rain in their wake. Sure enough about ten miles out of Perth the rain started and continued on and off for most of the journey.

We did arrive home dry, but after about an hour the rain reached us. I waited it out and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Nothing much moving, certainly nothing worth photographing apart from Mr Grey preening himself in a tree.

Today’s PoD is of a Tortoiseshell butterfly on some buddleia bushes we saw at Glendoick.

There is no Sketch of the Day. Lockdown has now been lifted and yesterday’s Lockdown Library No 86 will be the last. When you stop enjoying something that’s supposed to be fun, it’s time to call a halt.

Tomorrow we may drive somewhere local and go for a walk if he weather permits.

The postman knocks – 17 June 2020

Well, not actually the postman, it was the Amazon man and he brought a parcel!

This was the first part of this week’s order. It turned out to be a bottle of Smidge, insect repellant and very good stuff I may add. Thank you Sim for recommending it – a year ago almost to the day! Also in the parcel was a pack of ten refillable fountain pen reservoirs. I only ordered one, but that gives me nine spares!

Drove down to the village after lunch to visit Isobel. We had a wander round her garden then we sat in the sun on her drying green, or drying asphalt as it actually was. She got us up to date on all that was happening in the village, in the garden and in the family. Then she kept us amused with tales of her life when she was a wee girl during the second world war. A very entertaining afternoon. Unfortunately there wasn’t much shade from the sun, and Scamp hadn’t put on sun block this morning, so we had to give our apologies and make tracks for home.

We’d watched a gang of four guys stripping the roof of one of the nearby houses in the morning. By the time we got home the entire roof had been cleared, including the sarking, back to bare rafters. New sarking had been nailed on and that was covered with roofing felt with strips laid for the new roof tiles which were neatly stacked on their slightly dodgy scaffolding. Maybe cowboys, but hard working ones

We’d stopped at M&S on the way home to get provisions for tonight’s dinner which was a fancy version of spaghetti with prawns. About half an hour after we got back, the Tesco order got delivered. Dumped it in the kitchen and Scamp told me to leave the rest to her and sent me out to get photos. The best one I got was of the butterfly. Still to ID it, but I remember taking photos of its aunt or uncle last year, so it will be in Flickr somewhere.

Today’s topic was Draw a Power Plug. Not riveting, but worth doing just to check your observation skills. It’s things we see every day that are the hardest to draw because we tend to draw what we think we see, not what we are observing.

Big day tomorrow, because we’ll find out what Lockdown Release part 2 brings us. Other than being glued to the TV for that, we have no plans.

Another dull day to start with – 14 June 2020

We’d hoped for a brighter start, but the weather fairies told us to wait and all would be sunshine an light.

Dull milky white sky, but Scamp got an email that put a smile on her face. It seemed that her new tablet case would be delivered today. We waited for a while and still the white cloud persisted. Finally after lunch the parcel arrived and so did the sunshine. Once again the weather fairies had proved that all those expensive computers were worthwhile and that we should have patience and wait for the good weather to appear.

After lunch and after watching Andrew Marr try to antagonise Rishi Sunak without success (He actually answered every question Marr fired at him) we decided what to do with what remained of the day. The walk or cycle debate was solved by me saying I’d take the sunshine as a sign that it would be a good day to cycle. Scamp did some dinner preparation and then relaxed in the garden after some ‘essential gardening’. Rearranged pots to her satisfaction. I went in search of something worth photographing using the Teazer 90. I couldn’t find it to start with, but after searching all the likely places, stated looking in the unlikely, but possible places. Finally found it in a Bergy jacket in a cupboard. Not only that, I thought I’d found my glasses that I’d lost a week ago in the same jacket. That didn’t seem likely, because the jacket had been in that cupboard for at least a month. It appears that I’ve found a pair of glasses that I thought I’d lost around Christmas last year. Still haven’t found their replacement. If its taken me six months to find one pair, and I lost the replacement pair a week ago, does that mean I’ll find them (the replacement pair) somewhere around Christmas 2020? Time scale seems to work, not sure the logic does. Personally I blame the Hortus gin!

Cycled to the waste ground near Drumgrew bridge and watched the bees gathering nectar from the flowers. Found a conducive Small Heath butterfly which sat on a Marguerite flower for enough time for me to focus and grab a few shots of it. Its wings were a bit battered and bruised, but I’m happy that my ID is correct

Back home we had some time sitting in the sun and drinking non-alcoholic Lime cordial and water while the sun slipped down the slope of the afternoon. Dinner was fillet steak from Lidl for me and salmon for Scamp with Jersey Royal potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. Coffee in the garden afterwards. Tried Amoretto coffee for the first (and last) time. One of Scamp’s favourites. It tastes like I’d imagine liquid marzipan would. Such a waste of good coffee.

Not a bad Sunday after all, especially given the poor start. Tomorrow we have no plans, as yet.

Daddy’s gone to Iceland – 10 April 2020

Yes, I know we’re supposed to stay home and keep safe this Easter Weekend, but this was an offer I couldn’t refuse.

The offer was a delivery slot from Iceland for Tuesday, almost brilliant. “Almost”, because it’s for a time slot between 8am and 10am and with my luck it will be at the ‘8’ end of that time period, so I need to be up early for it. That said, it’s a slot and there aren’t many of them around. Coincidentally, it was last Friday Scamp managed to snag a slot on Tesco. Perhaps Friday’s are the key to nabbing a slot.

Scamp volunteered to go shopping to the local shops and brought back a fair amount of goodies. It was a dull start to the day, but by the time she was going out (solo) it had warmed up and the sun was shining. So much so that she came back I took the Nikon out for a walk in St Mo’s. At first I couldn’t see anything worthwhile to photograph, but then I spotted a hoverfly, first one this year and was sure I’d seen a butterfly too. It wasn’t until a bit later in a different part of the park I got a good clear shot of it. Not the best photo in the world, but my first butterfly this year. It’s a Peacock and fairly common, but it’s another sign that spring is here.

PoD was a long lens shot of a crow sitting on a branch. I liked the graphical feel of the shot. It almost looked black and white on the computer and when I changed it into true B&W I hardly noticed the difference. Second time around the pond I found the carcass of a swan. Don’t know what killed it. It could be a loose dog or a fox or daft kids throwing bricks, but there wasn’t much left of today. Then I heard a couple of swans flying overhead. They swung round the park and then landed on the pond. That sent the two resident swans into frenzy. They started puffing up their wings and heading in to separate the newcomers. It seemed like battle royal for a while, then everything calmed down. It looked like the residents won and the two visitors were being carefully monitored. Peace had broken out when I left. Didn’t get any decent shots of the action because my Tamron was in stupid mode and wouldn’t focus properly. It’s an odd beast. Sometimes it produces pin-sharp shots, others it’s a pain in the arse.

Aloo Saag for dinner. It too is a pain in the arse to make, but it usually tastes brilliant. Didn’t quite hit the mark tonight. Too much salt or too little spinach, I’m not sure which, but the result was the same – too salty, the customer said.

We did a bit of dancing practise tonight. Waltz No 1 and Waltz No2, then Foxtrot and finally Quickstep. All done to music too. These practise sessions work for me. They just get the muscle memory working.

As usual no plans for tomorrow. We’ll take the day as it comes.

Heliotropic Sunbeds – 18 November 2019

Another scorcher for our last full day, but there were a few clouds in the sky.

Grabbed those two seats again. The ones we could rotate to face the sun. Heliotropic is the word. Lay there baking for a few hours before our peace was broken by Pepe doing his round of the pools. Pepe, by the way is a multicoloured caterpillar with a big friendly smile, and is the emblem of the Kids Club at the Elba hotels. All the kids seem to love him (and at least one adult too). Once Pepe had done his round, we went for lunch.

After stuffing our faces again, Scamp headed back for more sun while I headed off to the badlands for one last walk on the wild side. Today I chanced upon a Southern Grey Shrike that was perfectly happy to pose for me. Didn’t see any evidence of its ‘larder’. Shrikes are known as ‘Butcher Birds’ because they hand their kills on the spikes of bushes. Viscious wee devils! I finally found some of the green and yellow rock plants I’d been looking for. I presume their bulbous leafs store water to see them through the dry spells. I also found a ‘Mother of Thousands’ plant looking quite graphic with its dark leaves against a light sandy background. A host of Painted Lady butterflies and a Snowy Egret completed my collection of flora and fauna for this visit. On the way back I saw one of the blokes with the carabiners and the ropes from the other day, abseiling down from the roof to wash the windows. Nice way to spend your day.

Back at the hotel, Scamp was just finishing off a cup of sangria delivered to her by a dubious Ladyboy with a dodgy lopsided wig. So she said, anyway but she had no photographic evidence to prove her story and she was just finishing off a cup of sangria. I rest my case.

The night was spent packing and consuming a few more G ’n’ Ts. Probably a few more than was good for us, but it was the last night and tonight’s entertainment was Bingo or a Quiz. G ’n’ Ts won.

PoD was the Shrike. First one I’ve seen on Fuerteventura although I did see a few on Lanzarote.

Tomorrow the dreaded flight home.

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.