Bob the Builder strikes again – 13 August 2020

A slow day to start as far as the weather was concerned, but lots to do.

Got an email from the garage with my order form for the new Micra attached. Just a formality really, but at least I now have a proper breakdown of the deal.

Shona had sent a text late in the afternoon, yesterday. Ben had broken the lock on the bathroom door. He likes to play with the water in the bath, but doesn’t realise that it’s running through into the flat below. It was mid June when I was last called to the fix the door and I screwed a hasp on to the door frame and a staple on to the door itself. It seemed ok at the time, but as I predicted at the time, the now twelve year old Ben has demonstrated that he can tear those screws out. I went to B&Q to get a couple of bolts. That meant a bag of bolts, of course. A bag of washers too. As I’d left the house without a screwdriver, I had to add one to the list as well. Unbelievably, the bag of washers which are simple steel discs about 15mm diameter with a hole in the centre was nearly twelve quid! Outrageous, but I needed them for the job. Back at the flat it was a simple job to drill the door, then drill out the staple itself to fit the bolts. Then I assembled the whole thing with a couple of those expensive washers in place and tightened one nut and a lock nut to keep the other nut from breaking in to the bathroom again. If this doesn’t work I’ll have to source a manacle to fit a twelve year old.

Back home the coffee maker was on and my roll was already buttered for me to fill with corned beef. Quite delicious and washed down with a nice strong espresso. Scamp is so good to me. While I’d been out being Bob the Builder, she’d done some washing and had thrown out some stale bread for the birds. Instead of birds, there was a Peacock butterfly perched on the slice of what had been nice Italian bread. I can’t imagine that butterflies eat bread. I took a few pics with two cameras “belts and braces” style. One of them became PoD.

After lunch we walked down to the shops, because Scamp wanted a new stiff broom to sweep the paving stones, because as we all know: A New Broom Sweeps Clean. She seemed happy with the brush and because I was in the mood for drilling holes and driving screws into things, I fixed up a hook on the fence to hold it.

No slide show tonight. This will be a long one, it’s Venice. The main reason we had a balcony cabin last year if the truth be told, and the reason we’d have had one this year if Covid-19 hadn’t reared its ugly head.

Tomorrow we may be going for lunch – to a restaurant!

A Dull Day – 10 August 2020

Grey sky, low cloud, thunderstorms anticipated. It didn’t look like a fun day and it lived up to that prediction.

Grabbed a shot of two crane flies on the Red Juke. Unfortunately the red colour of the car predominated and wouldn’t be calmed down with software, so the only solution was to turn it into a monochrome image which suited the graphic style of the shot. That was about all that was happening in the morning.

After lunch we waited around for a while hoping the sun would make an appearance and that the clouds would lift. Neither of those things occurred. Finally went out for a walk myself to St Mo’s. Found a very obliging dragonfly, a Common Darter. Maybe even the same one I photographed the other day. It certainly had the same demeanour. It seemed quite happy to be photographed close up. I’d brought the 30mm macro on a Panasonic camera and it needs to be really close to the subject to get the real macro effect. That mean the dragonfly’s head was about 30mm from the front element. It didn’t flinch. I reckon it knew there was nothing in that metal and glass thing that could hurt it and anyway, these creatures live their entire flying lives in a couple of weeks. The are running on fast-forward all the time. It would be off before I could have done anything aggressive, not that I would have. A Terrible Beauty indeed. The front view was a ‘given’ for the PoD. I also got a decent side view as an ‘almost PoD’.

There were a tribe of teenagers wandering home with their half empty bottles of MD (aka Mad Dog) after making the most of the last few days of their extended summer holidays. Some would have been affected by the crazy decision of the SQA to mark down the grades of some of them because they come from an historically poorly performing school. I don’t think John Swinney has actually apologised for the decision, but Nick the Chick has and I applaud her for it. Swinney should really resign now, before he is booted out.  “Robust and Rigorous” were his catchphrases back in his days as an architect of the poorly thought out Curriculum for Excrement. There was nothing Robust or Rigorous about changing the grades teachers had given pupils on the grounds of the school’s previous record.  ‘Teflon John’. Nothing sticks, until it does.

Picked some of our own peas tonight and used them in a Pea & Prawn Risotto. It was quite good, but would have been better if more of the peas were ripe. Hopefully we’ll get them later in the month.

Thunder, Lightning, Rain and Hail forecast for tomorrow. Just another typical Scottish summer’s day.

Here be dragons – 7 August 2020

There wasn’t much to say about today other than it was a good day for dragonflies.

Scamp went shopping in the afternoon, in the huff because the rain came on this morning, just after we spoke to Hazy on the phone and heard about the predicted temperature down south. 35ºc is just too hot. We were all agreed on that. Maybe it was the thought of 35ºc down south and rain here that made her go off on a shopping expedition to Tesco. I stayed home and did nothing. I’m quite good at that now.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk in St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which is an ultra close-up of a Common Darter dragonfly. Beautiful beast and quite deadly to other insects. This one was quite unconcerned and waited for me to finish my thirty odd shots of it before it flew away and I went home to make the dinner.

Actually I was desperate to see how the combination of an excellent lens and a clever camera had managed to combine 11 photos of the dragonfly into one much more detailed one. It was almost perfect and all done in about ten seconds. It might be quite an old camera now, but it can certainly beat a lot of more modern ones at this stuff.

When I got home the residual heat in the air had dried the grass and Scamp wasted no time in getting the lawn mower out and giving it a short trim. Meanwhile I sat in the garden with a cafe freddo (espresso over ice) and watched the bloke next door building something. He’s always building something. This one looked like a hexagonal pyramid, but we think it’s a gazebo to hold his jacuzzi. Last week he had a cloth gazebo to cover it, today it’s a metal framed one. Like Scamp says, it doesn’t intrude in us and I suppose it gives him something to sail his boats in.

Dinner was a hybrid. We got a sourdough pizza dough last week and today we used that pre-kneaded and already part risen dough to make the base of a pizza. It worked, kind of. The pizza was ok, but a bit tough, as a lot of sourdough breads are, but it was quite doughy in the middle. I think mine are better and Scamp agrees.

Phoned the nice man in Stirling this morning and hopefully we’re off there tomorrow for a test drive and to ask a few questions. Let’s see what the Micra has to offer.

Confusion Reigns – 3 August 2020

Confusion may have reigned, but there wasn’t much actual rain. A bit, but not much.

I’d promised to clean up the inside of the car and that’s what I did first this morning. It’s not sparkling clean, but it’s not nearly as dirty and messy as it was. Not quite in the JIC category, more … lived in!

With the future of the Juke in mind, I phoned Nissan to check if I was actually booked in for a meeting tomorrow (not Thursday as I’d reported in yesterday’s blog). I seemed to confuse the receptionist because I didn’t have a department or a sales person she could transfer the call to. She eventually just passed it on to the first available sales person. I then proceeded to confuse him too. Eventually I cut to the chase and asked him: “Do you have an appointment scheduled for me to visit tomorrow?” He said “No.” Not the answer I wanted, but at least we were getting somewhere. He now wanted to hand this confusing and possibly confused customer over to someone else. He opened my file and found the salesman I dealt with three years ago when I bought the Juke. He said he’d contact him and get him to phone me later. I think he went out to have lunch then and left his phone deliberately in the office. Locked in a drawer, no doubt.

Scamp wasn’t feeling so good today. She had been feeling sick during the night and hadn’t slept much. For those reasons, she had a light lunch, and so did I because I was still trying to get my head round what had happened. To clarify things we started looking at options for loans or money transfers, basically working out what was the easiest way to deal with the offloading or keeping of the Juke. With my head spinning in a different way now I suggested we take a run to Bishopbriggs to buy a 2 Terabyte removable drive to let me back up the MacBook Pro and the iMac using Time Machine. It’s an old but reliable way of backing up your entire Apple computer with more options than there are with Carbon Copier. Don’t roll your eyes JIC, I’m not going deep into the technicalities. Carbon Copier is a disaster recovery tool. Time Machine is a file recovery tool. Anyway, we drove to Bishopbriggs and bought the cheapest one I could find with a reputable make.

Back home again, I was just about to go on a ‘beastie hunt’ when my phone rang and it was the salesman who sold me the Juke trying to unravel the mess. The phone call I got last week from Renault finance was actually telling me about a discount event that runs from Wednesday 5th until Saturday. They had got their wires crossed and had also been booking people for the event from today and causing a lot of problems as a result. To simplify things I agreed that we’d to to the VIP event which will also feature an extra discount (probably less than 1%). So, I have until Wednesday to get rid of the remaining seagull crap, dust the inside of the car. Wash it down and tidy up the boot. I might get the seagull crap removed. The rest? No chance!

There were no beasties posing for photos today. The bees were too busy, the beetles were beetling about, the ladybirds were lazing, even the flowers were fading. I came home almost empty handed and with no quality work.

Scamp was feeling better by dinner time and had some light tomato spaghetti. After dinner I was making my coffee when I spotted him. There is a Cyberman in my coffee machine! It took me a few seconds to prise him out and half an hour to get a tripod and camera positioned so that I could record his existence. What you see above is living proof that Cybermen exist!

Later we found that series 1 episode 1 of Line of Duty was on BBC 1 (also on iPlayer). It’s a totally believable storyline about corruption in the police and must be the best cop series on TV. I think we started watching it from about halfway through series 2 or maybe we started at series 3. Worth watching if you haven’t seen it before.

Right, so we aren’t going to Stirling tomorrow. In fact, by the looks of the weather we won’t be going anywhere tomorrow. Certainly not without a good Goretex jacket. It’s going to be wet and windy.

F1 Frolics – 2 August 2020

First and perhaps only Live F1 broadcast this year.

Weather before that was mixed. A bit windy, a bit cloudy and the occasional splash of rain on the window just to remind us that it’s never far away in Scotland. Scamp was reduced to watching the build up to the GP because Andrew Marr was on holiday, so no political cut and thrust today. I’m sure some politicians would be breathing a sigh of relief. If you haven’t watched the GP then I won’t spoil things for you. All I’ll say is watch the first five minutes and the last five minutes, but just fast-forward past the other hour and a bit, unless you want to set the alarm and have a wee snooze.

With that done, and with nothing else to do, I took an old camera, the almost pensioned-off Oly E-M10 out for a spin round St Mo’s. It’s only when you return to an old classic like this that you realise why you sidelined it in the first place. The E-M1 has a much quieter IBIS system (image stabiliser) and a more reliable focusing power. The GX 80 has a much quieter shutter. I think the E-M10 can go back in the box for now. It’s smaller than the other two, but smaller isn’t always better. I have plans for it, so it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It managed to take today’s PoD with a little help from me. They are the seed pods of the Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense ).

Dinner came courtesy of Holy Cow curry mixes. The only place we’ve found them is Waitrose, but they are worth searching out, and, of course, Amazon has them. Today’s variety was Delhi Tikka Masala and it was just as good as the rest, just a little milder. A decent curry made in around 10 minutes without the faff of cooking from scratch. You can probably tell that I was cooking tonight – always looking for the easy life.

Spoke to JIC and pondered the modern way of going through an interview. First a telephone interview followed by a Zoom interview and maybe a third virtual interview. Then if you are lucky enough, being offered a position in a company you have never seen outside of a computer screen. Changed days from when, one morning, I dressed in a suit then put on waterproof trousers, waterproof jacket and motorcycle boots and set off from Larky to ride about 100miles to an interview in Creetown on a motorbike with a bag of my architectural drawings on my back. Rode back the same night. I got the job though and our family started on a big adventure in the south of Scotland. Changed days indeed.

Tomorrow I simply must hoover out the car because we’re we’ve got a meeting in Stirling on Tuesday to speak to a man about cars and money.

Just one of those unpredictable days – 26 July 2020

Rain and grey skies to begin the day. Brighter with blue skies to end it.

It’s Scotland, what do you expect. We sat watching the rain for most of the morning, then after lunch things started to improve and we guessed we could risk a short walk.

Before that, there were chilli plants to bring out into the sun and sweet peas to cut before they became too leggy. Also there was a fair wind blowing at times and Scamp was worried that the topmost growth would be broken, so better to cut it back a bit, rather than risk damage.

Since the sun was still shining, we walked over to St Mo’s and then went twice round the pond, because the breeze wasn’t too cool and the sun on our faces felt good, well, it did feel good to me, anyway. We even saw a dragonfly, the first for ages, weeks even. At first it was a bit skittish but then I think it realised we weren’t a danger to it and it settled on the boardwalk to allow me to photograph it. I’d only brought the 30mm macro lens which requires you to be fairly close to the subject to get a decent photo, but this little insect wasn’t bothered in the slightest, just as long as I didn’t make any quick movements, which I didn’t. Today’s PoD is testament to my patience and it’s relaxed approach to humans.

Back home it was almost dinner time and I’d a steak to cook. Scamp was having salmon as usual. The steak was just ok. It was a bit thinner than I’d expected and I think I over cooked it a bit. It was half price though, so I shouldn’t complain.

Painted Hazy’s little Joan of Art paint tin as a watercolour sketch. I painted it on a wee pad of watercolour paper I found. So much nicer to paint on than the sketch book which is better for drawing on.

The news today is that people returning from all of mainland Spain and its islands must self-isolate for 14days on return.  It looks like it’s not all over yet.  Personally I blame Bumbling Boris for bragging that it will all be over before Christmas.  I seem to remember that phrase from somewhere.  It was wrong then too.

It looks like the weather tomorrow will be wet, very wet at times. June may be visiting us. Let’s hope it’s not wet all day. I want some more dragonfly pictures.

Off to buy a suitable rose pot – 15 July 2020

A new rose needed a new pot.

Drove to Calders. Their selection didn’t meet with our approval, but we did get a big bag of compost to fill the pot when we did find a suitable one. Drove round the corner to B&Q, but they had even less. Gave up and came home for lunch.

After lunch we drove to Torwood in Larbert and found the same pot as Gertrude is in. The last one in the shop. We took it. Scamp found a twirly round lighty up thing. That’s the best description I can give. It’s a solar powered garden ornament shaped like sort of spiral. The spiral gives it a gentle spring effect. Lots of lights in it, just warm white lights this time, not multicoloured. So you see, “a twirly round lighty up thing” was a fairly accurate description. She also got a bar of Fry’s chocolate and I got a bag of Edinburgh Rock, for going.

Back home Scamp got busy mixing up compost and getting the rose settled in its pot, while I potted up about ten chilli plants which were rapidly outgrowing their little pots. That took most of the afternoon. I’d been feeling a bit down today, so Scamp offered to make dinner and chased me out to go for a walk in St Mo’s to lose the wee black monkey on my shoulder. It partly worked, but I didn’t get any photos. Nothing inspired me to take the camera out of the bag. Lots of teenagers hanging around the park. I suppose Scamp’s right when she says there’s nothing for them around here and they can’t travel in to Glasgow because nobody wants to travel on public transport these days.

Dinner was Pea & Prawn Risotto and it was brilliant. Ages since we’ve had it and it has to be one of Scamp’s signature dishes.

PoD was a close up of one of the jalapeño flowers.

Tomorrow we may drive in to Glasgow to see if it has wakened up from its long sleep yet.

An aching start – 12 July 2020

We were both a bit slow to rise this morning, as predicted by someone last night.

Despite all our walking every day, or at least every second day, our bodies were aching this morning. I suppose I felt it more in my upper body, arms and shoulders. Scamp said she thought it was the strain of holding the frame when we were ‘in hold’ during the ballroom dances last night. Probably, although I hate to admit it, the Salsa routines we did contributed too. More arm swinging when we’re out then. That would fit in with the ethos of Scamp’s route marches.

Not at all related to the above, I volunteered to do the strimming of the front grass. Scamp did the main grass cutting. We really need to get a new grass hoover. The safety grip doesn’t work any more and now the power plug is slipping out of the socket. Scamp will say that it doesn’t happen, but I was watching today and it slipped out on two occasions. That’s just not safe. I hope you’re reading this Scamp and take what I’m saying to heart!

After lunch, Scamp went for a walk, an energetic walk round our Broadwood route while I took some photos in the garden. Unfortunately all of the photos were rejected in the first cull. Either they were out of focus or there was obvious camera shake. When the power walker returned, I went looking for some friendly looking beasties willing to pose for me in St Mo’s and the surroundings. What I found was an acrobatic Soldier Beetle working out on the grass stems. Next up was a belligerent looking Ladybird. I gave it a wide berth, but I took its photo first.

Watched a second Austrian GP that started with a remarkable crash with both Ferraris taking each other off. That was followed by about 70 laps of boring racing. The adverts every 15mins or so were actually more interesting, then in the final three laps it all brightened up considerably with some great driving. Pity about the intervening 60 odd laps of tedium. Funny to see the awards being presented by remotely controlled trolleys! The driving of them left a lot to be desired! Maybe Vettel has found a new position!

The acrobatic soldier beetle narrowly beat the aggressive ladybird to PoD, but both are available to see on Flickr. No sketch today, but I promise I’ll do my best to catch up tomorrow.

Dancin’ – 11 July 2020

Dancin’ with at least six other couples, not from the same household and nobody stayed overnight, so Nick’s Nasties weren’t called.

The day started with a lazy morning, a lazier than usual morning. It was a dull day and we had nothing to go out for, so we didn’t go. I used the leftover dough to make a pizza for lunch and it turned out better than yesterday’s. I was impressed.

After lunch Scamp went out to pick some blackcurrants from our ailing elderly bush. She keeps saying we should cut it down and plant a new one because it has a fair bit of disease in it. I’d agree if I thought she wouldn’t regret doing it and also, where would we put a new bush? It would be foolish to plant the new bush into the same ground as the old one is in. If the nasties are in the soil, they’d just attack the new bush as soon as it was planted. The bush we have began life as a cutting from my mum’s plant in her garden. It would be strange not to see it filling that space beside the apple tree.

While she was pruning and picking, I was painting. It began as just adding the line of hills to a painting I started a few weeks ago, but it ended up as a complete re-paint and it made Sketch of the Day, does that make it a SoD or a PoD? Can’t be a PoD, because that award went to Rosie the little rosebush that Scamp has grown from a seed given to her by Hazy.  I think we’ll have to settle for LLNo 89.

Dinner tonight was a hot chicken curry. Really quite hot, but not white hot. Rhubarb pie and ice cream cooled our mouths while we watched a crazy qualifying for the rebadged and second Grand Prix from Austria. The Styrian Grand Prix is named after the region the circuit is located in. Racing in torrential rain for three qualifying events is madness. Thankfully most of the cars survived intact and all of the drivers did.

Immediately afterwards we had to get ready for Stewart & Jane’s first Virtual Dance, run over Zoom. Brilliant night, lots of fun with at least six other couples joining in with most of the dances. I think we are both exhausted and will sleep well tonight.  The best bit about the virtual dance was that when it started we didn’t need to drive home, because we already were home.  Fantastic idea.  We’d definitely do it again if we get the chance.

It might be a late start tomorrow, but we’re not planning on going anywhere important. No plans.

Out walking – 6 July 2020

We drove down to Auchinstarry to walk along the canal this morning. Typically, now we are free to travel the length and breadth of the country, we stayed within the 5 mile lockdown limit!

Walked along the canal, avoiding a few cyclists and joggers on a beautiful, if slightly breezy morning. Still didn’t see any kingfishers, but did catch one of Mr Grey’s relatives hiding in the rushes on the far side of the canal. Initially he tried to hide, but then realised it was just a couple of humans out for a walk and totally ignored us. We turned around when we reached Twechar and took the railway path back to Auchinstarry. The railway path is much more sheltered than the canal towpath and as a result we could dispense with out waterproof jackets. Hardly met anyone on the path. When we were crossing the wee stone bridge at Auchinstarry I spotted a Shield Bug and that got PoD. It just ignored me for most of the time, but when I got too close it became defensive and as they have a tendency to fire smelly fluid at you if attacked, I said goodbye and took my leave.

After lunch Scamp went looking for food at the shops while I stayed home and attempted yesterday’s painting, a Ruby Wedding rose that Scamp had cut yesterday to stop it being battered by the gales. It was much more glamorous today picking up the light from the window. I didn’t do it justice, I know that, but this was the best of three attempts and would have to do. It was another catch-up.

When Scamp returned I grabbed my camera and went looking for more subjects. Found a Burnet moth behind St Mo’s school. First one I’ve seen this year. Didn’t get a chance to count its spots, just took its photo.

Tonight I did today’s sketch which turned out to be a still life pencil sketch of two apples. One of my favourite subjects, but, again, not very successful. I’m intending keeping the Lockdown Library going until we’re sure we’re out of it or until I reach my limit.

Another sketchbook filled tonight. May go looking for another one tomorrow. Otherwise no plans. Depends on the weather.