Not so crazy busy today – 12 May 2020

I had time to sit down and solve today’s sudoku for a start, then it was the catching-up.

Two drawings needed, but lots of time to get them sorted. The first one I actually planned for once. I roughed it out to make sure everything would fit into a square grid before I got started on the real thing. That’s quite a luxury for me and it helped considerably with the design. Maybe because the prompt was Illustrate a recipe. That meant there needed to be guide lines and such. Anyway, with that done, we went over to Condorrat to get the makings of today’s dinner. It was a second attempt at the Souk Soup and we needed a chicken breast to provide the protein. Cold wind both going and coming back.

After that I started chopping up the veg and bunged everything into the slow cooker and set it for two hours worth of cooking. Then I grabbed my Oly and camera bag and went to investigate the opportunities that St Mo’s would offer a camera man. Walking across the waste ground, I noticed a group of teenage boys heading in the same direction. One had a big bag that was clinking in a bottle-like way. They looked about as apprehensive as I felt, but I told them I wasn’t intending joining them and we all laughed. I was hoping to get some shots of hoverflies on the wing, but the wind was too strong and I had to ditch the idea and come back another day. On the way back I chanced into the group again, this time they had liberated the bottles from the bag and were sitting down with a speaker providing some music. I told them I guessed they were all from the same household and a couple of them twigged and said “Oh aye we are”. “Because”, I said “if you’re not I’ll have to inform Nicola.” Again we all laughed. I wonder what they thought I was doing with a wee brown bag over my shoulder, walking into the woods.

Scamp and I agreed that the Souk Soup was better when it was made in a pot. For some reason it was too watery made in the slow cooker. The Ras el Hanout spice I used was interesting and fairly hot, but I think I prefer my own Moroccan spice mix. We’ll have the rest tomorrow and see if we change our mind.

Two pieces drawn and painted after dinner. First was fairly good and the second was just a place marker. Both posted on Instagram and FB now.

PoD went to a wide landscape taken with the wee 9mm lens cap lens for the Oly. Something went wrong with the lens because a white dot appeared in the sealed unit of the lenses. It’s sitting inside the rear element and I can’t seem to shift it. It shows on the Flickr photo, but only if you know it’s there. I’ve got another, better, lens, but the 9mm was so neat for carrying around. I’ll miss it if I can’t fix it.

We had a sprinkling of rain tonight, but not a lot.  Hoping for more tomorrow.  Other than that, nothing planned.

Early delivery – 23 April 2020

Scamp’s turn for breakfast and an early knock on the door.

Our veg box arrived this morning as Scamp was making breakfast just after 8.30. What a haul it was Pineapple, Melon, Avocados, Tomatoes, Grapes, Carrots, Potatoes and lots, lots more. Far more than we expected or needed, really. I’m sure well manage to eat our way through most of it though.

Just after I’d had my shower this morning, I felt a well remembered itch on my left wrist and sure enough, there was the little black spot that turned out to be a tick, the second one I’ve had this year and hopefully the last. It had been sitting quietly underneath my watch strap. I think I may have to stick to the main paths in the parks from now until the start of the winter when they die off.

Today was bin day and we are working our way through cleaning all the bins. Today’s customer was the green bin for bottles and plastic – recycling waste. I took up the cudgels and scrubbed it out with a big hard brush. I must admit it made a fair difference to the bin and was a worthwhile use of my time. It also gave me a chance to wander around and get some sun on me.

The unthinkable happened this morning.  The coffee machine wouldn’t work.   No coffee was forthcoming from it.  In fact, nothing was coming from it.  I could hear the pump doing its best, but not a drop was coming out of the basket.  Tried the steam jet and it worked, so it wasn’t the pump that was at fault.  After a bit of rudimentary stripping down, it turned out that some gunk was stuck in the dispenser.  The bit that the spray connects to.  There are four holes in the dispenser block and none of them were working.  After a lot of poking and prodding I got three of them back in business and that was as far as I was willing to go.  I watched a video of an engineer stripping down a Gaggia like mine and knew that it was well beyond my knowledge or tools.  I put it all back together again and went looking on the Which site to see what was available.  It’s not the cost that’s the problem, it’ sourcing the things in these difficult days.  Later I managed to make a cup of coffee with it, but it took a long time.  I’m afraid you pair (you know who you are) have probably made the right decision with my birthday present.  I’ll see what happens tomorrow.

After lunch I went in search of milk down at the shops. Beginning to see more and more people wearing masks now. Some, in fact most, seem to be home made. I might look for a pattern and put some of my ‘fat corners’ to good use. I did see a couple of example patterns somewhere and read of people having irritation from the elastic rubbing on their ears. There was a suggestion that you could modify the design to have a strap with a button and another with a button hole which would fasten behind the head instead. I don’t think I’d adopt that method it sounds a bit like “Do you think my heid buttons up the back?”

Hauled my bag of milk and chocolate (that’s the prize for going) back home and hadn’t taken one photo. Then I remembered the little basil seedlings that are growing on the kitchen window sill. They became the PoD.

Dinner tonight was an old time favourite. Cabbage, bacon and potatoes. Sounds uninteresting but it’s truly delicious.

Played a bit of catch-up with the Lockdown Library for Instagram. I got painter’s block yesterday, so today I’d two drawings to do. Actually I did do a quick sketch of my dance shoes last night, but wasn’t happy with it. Today I added some brushed on black ink and they came alive. So that worked for yesterday. Today’s sketch was a simple one of my old iPhone SE. Now it seem so small.

Tomorrow I may HAVE to cut my hair. It’s getting to be really annoying and messy. Its time may have come.

Dancin’, really Dancin’ – 22 February 2020

Just another day of rain and wind and occasional snow, but with the chance of some brightness in the evening.

A parcel arrived for Scamp at midday. It was the long awaited pair of Adesso slippers. The first pair were the wrong size, my mistake. This pair, like Cinderella’s fitted perfectly. Anniversary present ticked off!

Today’s prompt was ‘Rain’. Now that should have been easy given that we’ve had nothing else pouring out of the sky for weeks now. Like the tiger, this drawing was scribbled down this morning on my ‘doodle sheet’ and despite trying to redraw it various times, I liked the feel of this original.

PoD was a picture I took in the downstairs toilet with one of those occasional spells of sun shining brightly behind the plants.

We went to Frankie & Benny’s at The Fort for lunch. Unfortunately, it seemed as if almost all of the east end of Glasgow were there too. The place was jumping and half of them were noisy weans. To compete with the noise of the conversations, the staff had turned up the volume of the music system, it seemed. Even despite all that, the food was good Cheeseburger (No mayo) and Fish ’n’ Chips. Guess who had what!

Then while Scamp went window shopping for clothes, I browsed Waterstones. Bought myself a book on painting with acrylics, something I’ve not dabbled in recently. It’d make a change from watercolours and ink.

When we got back to the car, we had to sit for a while to allow the blizzard conditions to decrease. No snow was lying, but it was certainly coming along, almost horizontally, quite fast. After that, the sun came out and there was blue sky above. Scotland, at least three seasons in one day.

All of this was the precursor for the main event of the day, Dancing. We were off to darkest Paisley to a community hall for a night of waltz, foxtrot, possibly quickstep and probably jive. Dancing with Stewart and Jane’s class. As like the Christmas dance, we were welcomed into the bosom of the company and found that three of those at the table had been on our last cruise with us! Great fun, although my waltz wasn’t quite as swish as it could have been and my salsa was a bit rusty, but We Danced, and in company too!

Arrive home just before midnight, so obviously this is a catch-up

Driving the ladies to town – 16 February 2020

Today Scamp was off on her travels again. This time with her big sister to meet their wee sister.

The bus to Inverness was at 9.10am on Sunday, so we were up early. Out about 8.30 to pick up June then the drive through the wind and rain to Glasgow. Dropped them off at the Concert Hall and watched to make sure they were across the road safely and then drove back home for a restful day.

Didn’t actually do much with Storm Dennis thundering around the houses. I did manage to drive up to Tesco and buy myself a steak for dinner, then decided instead to make Chicken, Chorizo, Beans and Tomatoes. No recipe and no chicken, so I went for a walk to St Mo’s to see how high the water was and then do a detour to the local shops to get some chicken thighs. The water level in St Mo’s pond was fairly elevated, but not as high as I’d expected. The weather was actually quite decent, apart from the wind, but by the look of the clouds it wasn’t going to stay that way for long. Cut short the walk after I’d got my planned PoD which was an apple sitting on a rock. When I go out for a walk in the woods I usually take an apple. I eat about half of it and leave the rest somewhere conspicuous and it’s usually gone the next day. Deer, rabbits, squirrels and mice are all welcome to join in. Today that apple became PoD.

Walked back via the shops. No chicken thighs in the first shop, but that’s the benefit of having three grocery shops in a row. If you don’t find what you want in the first one, one of the others is sure to have it, and that’s what it was today. By the time I’d finished my last bit of shopping, the rain joined me for the walk back home.

Made what I think of as a chicken and chorizo stew and put it in the slow cooker to, well, cook slowly. Then finally produced yesterday’s sketch of Rooftops. Sort of from my imagination and also partly from photos I’d found of Robin Hood’s Bay. So that’s yesterday’s SoD done, but no time to attempt today’s topic of ‘Basket’. I really must get better organised.

Scamp seems to be enjoying the luxury of a night in an Inverness hotel with here sisters, while I eat chicken and chorizo stew. Actually it tasted quite good.

Tomorrow I’m intending going dancing by myself!

Recovery – 14 February 2020

It was a wet day again and we were still in the grip of one weather system with the second waiting in the wings. Where’s the ‘warming’ in Global Warming. All I see is rain, wind and cold.

Scamp’s cold doesn’t seem to be lifting much. We both think it came about wandering around in a cold wind at the tower of London. Most of the day was spent in recovery mode, just trying to come to terms with the wet and windy weather we’ve been sheltered from down south.

I went for a walk across at St Mo’s. I couldn’t really be bothered, but it had to be done to comply with the new ruling that the 365 must continue. PoD is of green shoots. A sycamore seedling pushing up through the leaf litter. Maybe spring will push its way through the storm clouds some day soon.

Managed to clear the backlog of drawings and paintings for February with a fairly decent ‘Day at the Seaside’ painting which covered the Wave topic, followed by a dire black and white sketch for the ‘Light’ prompt.

That’s about all you can say about today, other than tomorrow will be better.

Going Home – 13 February 2020

There’s not a lot you can say about going home.

It’s good to be going home to your own bed in your own house, but it’s sad to be leaving family behind. Even if plans have been made for another reunion in the near future. We just trundled our cases along to the station and caught a train, then another train and another train and another train, then a taxi. And we were home.

PoD is the iconic shot of the roof of Kings Cross station.

SoD you will see tomorrow.

Parrots, Pizza and Reverse – 12 February 2020

A strange mixture, but all in the correct order.

Last full day down south and my how the time has flown. All the things we were going to do and all the places we were going to see. Well we did do some of them and we did see some of them too. Today we were going to take Hazy to the garden centre, the same one Canute and Delia had taken us to, so I knew the route. We had some time to waste first, so I left Scamp to guard the house while I went for a walk in Horton Park.

Like I’ve said earlier, is a well kept park. Lots of little pathways going everywhere. Cycle tracks with obstacles to jump or ride over. Confusing signage which seems to point out five different ways to get to the same place, all in different directions and with different distances, and parrots! Well, actually they are parakeets, green ones that screech their way across the treetops, never coming close to the ground. Found lots of interesting little nicknacks all over the place. Rusted fenceposts that must have been pre-WW1. Little clearings in the woods and more parrots. I’d only been given an hour at most to investigate the woods, less than that once I’d navigated my way round a roundabout. Soon my phone was warning me that I’d used up half my time and it was now time to return to the house.

Managed to drive out the driveway and on to the road without hitting anything. For some reason the traffic was kind to me and allowed me a space to exit on to what is usually a very busy road. Followed the road Canute had taken and quickly found the garden centre without having to cross the standing water that had dogged his journey. Pizza in the garden centre is usually a must, but today it must have been the apprentice chef who was in charge, because when my buzzer announced its arrival from the oven, what I took charge of was a bit thin and scorched. I ate most of it. Scamp’s baked potato looked no better. Bought a few things then wheeled Hazy to the car and found out how to fold the wheelchair neatly into the boot. That’s when the trouble started.

We had to reverse out of the parking space, but every time I though I’d selected reverse, the car moved forward. I checked the gearstick to see if I had to lift the stick to select reverse, or push down on it, but neither of those was available, it was simply a case of push left, then forward … except that didn’t seem to work. Hazy even phoned Neil in Goa to find out if there was a magic word you had to use first, but he just confused me even more by saying that you moved the stick left, but kind of left and back, and then forward. If it had just been Scamp and I in the car I’d have started swearing then. If I had I’d have missed the sight of a beautiful bird, a Red Kite flying up out of a field across the road. I was half watching it the the stick slipped neatly into reverse and we were off again on our way. I was careful not to do anything stupid that necessitated reverse gear again until we arrived home and the passengers were safely in the house. Then I did the unforgivable. I read the manual. It said to use a dynamic movement to select reverse. More a curve left and forward, rather than two discrete movements. It worked like a treat. Now I saw what Neil had been describing. However, after I’d managed to get the car into the position it was in before we left, I got out, locked the door and walked away. I don’t think we’ll bother looking for a Mini as our next car.

PoD is one of the old pre-WW1 fenceposts.
SoD is a rose, using what I remembered from the technique I learned from an old man on a cruise a couple of years ago.

Spent the evening packing everything into two roll along cases one bag and a rucksack. Tomorrow we’re off home.

Windy Willy – 9 February 2020

Windy Willy was doing his best to make life difficult today.

Actually, Willy had nothing to do with it today. The trouble was all caused by Storm Ciara as it swept in from the Atlantic. Even in Hazy’s fairly sheltered bungalow, the wind was fairly thumping the roof as it bounced around the houses.

The storm didn’t stop Canute and Delia arriving and taking us to lunch. Just the two of us because Hazy chose to stay and rest after the excitement of JIC and Sim’s visit and the revelations after dinner. We drove to Chessington Garden Centre. I didn’t think it would be open with all the storm warnings and Canute said there were a few trees blown down near them. However, we needn’t have worried. There were hungry people out there with money to spend, so the garden centre was open and doing a brisk trade in meals.

After lunch we browsed what was available in the garden part of the garden centre. Scamp wanted to pot up a London Pride which my mum always called Nancy Pretty so we got a bag of compost an a pot. Canute and Delia also bought something, but it’s redacted until ND comes home.

Canute drove us back thorough more stormy weather, flooded roads, road works fences spread across the road, tree branches blown down, the usual aftermath of a storm, except the storm was still there as the news broadcasts were happily telling us.

PoD turned out to be a fig still clinging on to the tree in H&N’s front garden.  SoD was a padlock because the prompt was “Lock”.  For some reason ink drawings get fewer ‘likes’ than watercolours in EDiF and 28 DL.  Must try a pencil sketch soon to see how that fares.

Tomorrow we may go to Epsom if the storm has subsided a bit.

London – 7 February 2020

Today we were going to the Tower of London, except …

When we’d walked the mile or so to the train station I realised that neither of us had the details that Neil had so kindly typed up for us. Time for a change of plan.

We’d still go in to London, but instead of visiting the Tower we’d go for a wander and find somewhere new to visit. To start with we’d find a coffee shop. Not as easy as you’d think in London. Loads of coffee shops, but none where I’d deign to actually drink their coffee. Eventually we found Westminster Bridge and along from that we found St James’ Park which looked promising on another beautiful bright sunny day. Loads of other folk seemed to find it interesting too and most of them were Italian or French or Spanish it seemed. Hundreds of them, maybe even thousands, and all of them were watching the pelicans or having their photo taken with them. Pelicans in London? According to Wikipedia ”Pelicans have been a feature of St James’s Park since 1664 when the Russian Ambassador presented them to King Charles II.” Who knew? Well, apart from Wikipedia.  A picture of a pelican made PoD

Further on, we went to look at Mrs McQueen’s big hoose, but I don’t think she was in. Either that or she was hiding from the hordes who were gazing intently through her railings hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody royal. Either that or they were waiting to see the changing of the guards. I don’t know why they’re changing them anyway, they seemed alright the last time I saw them on the TV. We walked back along the Mall and found a coffee shop in Waterstones where they sold a decent latte fro Scamp and some burnt water for me. Lovely Danish pastries though! After that we went to Covent Garden where we heard some dodgy opera singer and I got a tee shirt.

After searching for somewhere to eat we settled for a pub lunch. Macaroni and (a ton of) Cheese for Scamp and an apparently prize winning pie for me. The pie casing was lovely, as was the veg, but the meat was tough. Walked along the banks of the Thames and caught the train back. Maybe we’ll visit the Tower another day … with the directions!

Today’s topic was “Fly” and my take on it was a fly of the Dragon persuasion.

Kingston – 6 February 2020

Off on our travels again.

Today we’d earmarked Kingston upon Thames as the place to go. We’d been there before a few times, but that doesn’t mean we can’t go again and probably find new wonders to explore. Now that we know how to use Oyster cards and even simpler credit cards to pay on buses and trains, travel without a ticket is the way to go. Single price journeys are so much easier to work with too.

So it was a walk along to the bus stop, then the No 71 to Kingston as the lady’s voice from the speaker reminded us at every stop. Then a visit to M&S for a new bunnet followed by a coffee in Nero. After that, a walk round the market and then down by the Thames in the sunshine under a bright blue sky where we saw some cormorants drying their wings.

Lunch was Japanese street food in Itsu. Mine was a Chicken Noodle soup with lots of ginger and Scamp had a Chicken and Coconut soup. We both shared a portion of Chicken Gyoza. To finish off we had a beer in the Druid’s Head. Managed to find most of the stuff we needed for dinner in Waitrose and got the bus back to Chessington.

PoD was the Thames walkway at Kingston. SoD was a snail which was the answer to the “Crawl” topic.