M3155074- blog

Finally the bike is out – 25 February 2018

It took a lot of promises, but finally today the bike came down stairs.

When I got up this morning, it was still below zero outside. That used to be the norm in February in Scotland, but we have grown used to the milder winters of late and now if the mercury or its digital equivalent goes below that line everyone starts stockpiling food, turns the heating up full, keeps looking at the sky for the first telltale snowflake. No chance of snowflakes today with almost wall to wall blue skies, but the TV and radio news have been bombarding us with threats of ‘The Beast From The East’. Come on people, its going to get cold this week and we’re probably going to have some snow. That’s what happens in winter. Remember my warning:

Stop watching the news
Because the news contrives to frighten you.

You have been warned.

So, what has this to do with bikes. Well, nothing really, but it sets the scene. It was cold. It was cold, but the sun was doing its level best to warm the place up. I decided there and then, while I was getting the breakfast that today I’d do the bike thing.

Prevaricated for a while doing this and that. Going finding things I’d need, not least the bike itself. I knew where it was, I just had to find a way of getting it out of the room and down the stairs. Tyres weren’t totally flat and didn’t take long to pump up. So after lunch I was good to go. Oh dear, need to put my dinner in the slow cooker. It was to be shin of beef that had been marinading in the fridge overnight and now needed frying to brown it, the put in the slow cooker for about four hours. Oh yes, Scamp wanted some bread baked, so I defrosted some dough and set it to prove. Nothing else to do? Ok, best get on with it and get dressed in many layers to cut out the cold. Finally got on the bike at almost exactly 2pm. It wasn’t too cold … to start with, however once I was out of the shelter of the houses and into the open, the icy blast hit me. I wished I’d been sensible and put on my Buff™ to keep my ears warm. Too late now, I’d just have to soldier on. I’d mapped out my short, 3 mile, route and stuck to it although I realised it meant I’d have a headwind coming home. Cycled to the old disused refuse dump, now landscaped and walked around looking for something to photograph. That was after I saw that the Three Amigos, three beech trees I’ve photographed spring, summer, autumn and winter had been reduced to two. I was shocked. Those trees had stood together for years, probably they were older than me. I suppose it must have succumbed to one of the winter storms, and when I checked with the photo in the living room much later, I noticed that even then its crown was much sparser than the other two. It really was like losing an old friend. Such a shame. To kind of make up for it or to form a link of sorts, today’s PoD is of some beech leaves.

Cycled home braving the east wind that was getting stronger, but thankfully it was more a north east wind, which meant I got a bit of a push up the hill at the start of the run home.

Loch Ard

After a shower and with dinner simmering away in the slow cooker, I painted today’s 28DL offering. It’s not really all that good, but unlike some folk, I don’t admit that on the 28DL page! That was about it for the day. The shin of beef? I’d like to say it was wonderful, but I have to be honest and admit that it was dull, tasteless and chewy. The bread? It was worse. Heavy an doughy. I’ll chuck it out for the magpies, crows and pigeons tomorrow with a warning to the smaller, lighter birds not to attempt it or like their corvine relations, they will have difficulty achieving liftoff. On that topic, Hazy, I finished Sourdough and really, really enjoyed it. On the subject of books, JIC, the books from Amazon arrived this morning. Keeping the James Oswald book for hols, but will read the start of Paint Daily tonight. I’d recommend Natural Causes by James Oswald, book 1 in the series if you fancy some Scottish crime noir set in Edinburgh with a hint of the supernatural in it. Thank you to both of you for increasing my reading library.

Tomorrow? Panic buying at the supermarket and fitting hatches that can be battened down securely. Then if there’s time, a trip to the gym, because I think my legs will be sore.

M3155074- blog

Oh What a Beautiful Day – 8 August 2017

After two days of almost continuous rain, today’s blue skies and sunshine were a great relief. Scamp was going out for lunch with a friend and I was painting in the morning, but determined to get the bike out and turn the wheels a few times.

I set out for Auchinstarry to park and then cycle along the railway to Twechar and from there, take the road to Kirkintilloch, then cycle back along the canal to Auchinstarry. A nice easy run of a little more than 10 miles.

Lots of folk were out today, and not just the usual dog walkers either. What looked like a Summer School group were learning about rock climbing at Auchinstarry. Halfway along the railway path two women were having a picnic with their weans, sitting on an old iron bridge over the Garrell Burn. After that, it was just road traffic all the way to Kirkintilloch. Walked up the steep hill to reach the canal (That’s where today’s PoD came from) and then took the towpath from there to Twechar. Passed lots of cyclists on the way. Some gave a nod, some pretended I wasn’t there (Bike Snobs), some shouted a cheery ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ or the West of Scotland ‘Aye’ as we passed.

Changed my mind at Twechar and headed back along the railway again. The main reason is that the canal tow path gets really busy with cyclists and fishermen in the summer and the path narrows fairly frequently making crossing and overtaking difficult. I stopped to take some ‘beastie’ photos at Dumbreck Marshes and met a bloke who was extolling the joys of cycling. He realised he was preaching to the converted, but we agreed it was a great way to get some enjoyable exercise. He was on his way back from the Falkirk Wheel and was sitting having his lunch with his iPhone playing some music through a Bluetooth speaker in his rucksack. We wished each other an enjoyable run home and I was on the last leg of my run. Didn’t pass anyone else on the way back and then watched some blokes doing a bit of dangerous looking rock climbing in Auchinstarry Quarry where there is a sheer drop into very deep water. Rather them than me.

Back home, it was paella for dinner and I had volunteered for cooking duty. Turned out not to bad.

Tomorrow is to be more of the same. Hopefully they get it right again.

M3155074- blog

Normal service has resumed – 31 July 2017

Ok, today was a better day. More like a normal Monday. Out in the morning and drive to Falkirk for some messages, then back for lunch.

After lunch I took the bike out for a run. Poor thing hasn’t been out for ages. After a couple of miles I noticed that the mileometer wasn’t recording distance and the display was dim. The dim display is solved by replacing the battery, but no amount of juggling the sender unit would encourage the miles to click up. Then I realised that the solution is in the name. The system is wireless and the unit on the forks is a sender. To send it needs a power source. Therein lies the problem and the solution, hopefully. Both sender and receiver need new batteries. I’ve never replaced the sender battery before, and I’ve had the milo for over five years. Granted it doesn’t go many miles now, but that is still good battery life.

It was a westerly wind today which meant a headwind going out but a tailwind coming home. The best situation.

Took the Teazer with me today because it’s light and slips easily into my pocket. It seems to have performed quite well, especially in macro mode. Got some interesting shots of black and yellow striped caterpillars which may be from the Cinnabar Moth. Hopefully someone on Flickr will confirm. Also caught a glance of a Burnett Moth before it was blown away on a westerly gust. That was it for wildlife. Add in a few shots of the Three Amigos (my favourite three beech trees) and that was it for photography too. Having said ‘that was it for wildlife’, I mean interesting, pretty wildlife. The air seemed to be full of ugly biting insects. For that reason alone, I was glad to leave.

I also had dinner to make before we went to salsa, and a tailwind to look forward to. Dinner was ‘Red Spaghetti’ or spaghetti with a tomato sauce to you.

Motorway was extra busy tonight. 49 minutes to the airport. 18 minutes on a good day. However we arrived almost in time which was lucky because Scamp wanted even more messages from one of the shops near the STUC.

Tonight’s move was Prado. Not its real name, so don’t bother Googling it.

And that’s July done and dusted!

Tomorrow can be summed up in two ‘C’ words. Cleaning and Cooking.

M3155074- blog

Breaking new ground – 8 May 2017

A Monday is Scamp’s Gems day, so generally, I make myself scarse. Today I’d decided to go exploring.

The morning was all about gardening. Added some more compost and soil to the raised bed and gave it a good soaking.  Then replanted the beetroot. Hopefully it will grow this time. Also planted out five of the peas I’ve been bringing on inside and hardening off in the mini greenhouse. Planted some spinach and kale in trays and put them into the space the peas have vacated in the mini greenhouse. I also planted out the strange wee plants I’ve been growing from seed since last autumn.  I don’t know what they are, or where they came from.  Maybe they will grow into a gigantic bean stalk.  That was enough work for one day, so the man who worked in the garden went and had lunch then got ready to go out.

I’d intended cycling to a wee nature reserve on the Auchinstarry road.  We’ve lived here for thirty odd years and this is the first time I’ve visited it.  Got there and found it’s a lot bigger than it looks from the road. Unfortunately it was nowhere near the building I wanted to photograph. I think it’s a ventilation shaft for an old mine. I couldn’t even see where it was from the nature reserve. More investigation required.

While I was sitting sunning myself in what was a natural suntrap, protected from the cool east wind, I managed to get a few shots of a hover fly and that’s my PoD.

I decided I had to find that wee building and cycled out along the Kirkie road and eventually found it half a field away!  Maybe tomorrow or later in the week I’ll visit it, on foot.

Carried on to the Drumgrew bridge and followed my nose into what used to be an old dump, but now looks as if it is being redeveloped. Lots of fenced off areas and warnings about Japanese Knotweed, so I kept well away. Two deer, a doe and a buck weren’t so bothered and casually walked across in front of me. Of course both cameras were in my bag and by the time I’d retrieved the Oly 10 the deer had realised they were not alone and jumped the fence totally ignoring the warning signs. Hooligan deer, obviously!

That was about it as far as cycling and photography was concerned. Am now standing as acting doorman at STUC building while Scamp gets a chance to dance as a follower for a change.

Salsa was as energetic and as brain taxing as ever with one old and one new move.  The old move was Tresario Doble and the new one was Agamemnon.  Nobody seemed to like Agamemnon, well, nobody except Jamie G.  It might grow on me.

Tomorrow?  Maybe a visit to Glasgow.  Got stuff to get.

M3155074- blog

Damsel Day – 6 May 2017

After yesterday’s peregrinations across the breadth of Scotland, we had decided to have a day at home.

While Scamp went out to search for provisions, I made myself a cup of coffee and sat on the front step in the sun.  While I was sitting, I spotted this week’s potential sketch.  It’s just the house across the road.  Nothing special about it, just a corner house with some trees in front and some scrubby bushes.  Sometimes you miss what’s right in front of your face.

After lunch we went our separate ways.  Scamp to cut the grass and plant out some alpines and me to cycle, hoping for a few damselflies to photograph.  It seemed such a lovely day, it was a shame to waste it sitting around on the step or even worse still, moping around the house.

With a couple of squirts of WD 40 on the bike we were ready for the off.  The outward leg was so very easy, I knew it was a bad sign.  It was a tailwind.  The wind was from the east and also stronger than it was in the morning.  That meant it would be a headwind on the way home.  However, after wandering around for a while without any signs of insect life, I caught a few shots of a hoverfly sitting on my bike jacket.  A nice little one, with bright yellow stripes.  Maybe someone on Flickr will ID it for me.  Then I saw a little red damsel.  The first I’ve seen in Scotland this year.  I saw some in Tobago in February, but that’s a different world.  Here we don’t usually see damsels until the end of May or the beginning of June.  Early May is very unusual.  Got a few shots of it, then started to plan them a bit better, trying to get at 90º to its long body to keep as much as possible in sharp focus.  Almost impossible with the extension tubes and the very narrow depth of field.  Still, got a few ‘keepers’.  Nice colour on the body and thorax.

As I predicted, the homeward leg was a struggle with a gusty eastern wind.  Bag was heavy too with a couple of rocks to create perches for the smaller birds in the birdbath.

Dinner was the second attempt at Spanish Rice (just as good as the first.)  While I was making it, Scamp was sunning herself with a Pimms for company in the back garden.  Yes, she did have her sun cream on.

Watched the BFG on Amazon Prime tonight.  Great escapist fun.

Tomorrow?  Probably dancing in the afternoon, the rest is up for grabs.

M3155074- blog

I’ve got a bike – 3 May 2017

This morning we took Scamp’s car down to the garage for its MOT.  Then back for breakfast.

That’s how the day started.  Since we were up and about early, we decided to make the best of what was shaping up to be a beautiful day.  We drove to Torwood Garden Centre to get some plants and ended up with nine plants and a bird bath.  We’ve been looking for a bird bath since Trinidad, back in February, but couldn’t find one we liked or didn’t grudge the exorbitant price for.  This one was exactly what we wanted.  Made from concrete, fairly small and fairly priced.  We’d originally intended continuing on to Stirling, but changed our plans and just went home so that the plants could find their way into their new homes, assisted by gardner Scamp of course.

Back home we had just had lunch when the garage phoned to say the car had passed and was ready to collect.  We brought it home and as the gardening needed expert hands, Scamp decided to carry on with that while I dragged the bike out for a run.  For the first time this year, I took it on the bike rack to Auchinstarry and cycled along the canal almost to Kirkintilloch and then back again along the railway.  Going out was fine with the sun on my face and the wind at my back.  The run back wasn’t so idyllic, but it was still enjoyable.  I think everybody who had a bike was out on it today, or at least that’s what it seemed.  Not surprising on such a lovely warm, if windy day.  Tracked it on my new FitBit and was surprised at the amount of data it generated.

Salsa tonight was good although the drive in was a not much fun with traffic jams because of a breakdown in the middle lane just at the busiest spot near the Royal Infirmary.  Poor woman who had to escort her kids on to the fencing at the edge (there isn’t a hard shoulder at that part), then get them back again into the breakdown truck, with their cases!

Looks like tomorrow is going to be much the same as today.  Maybe going to Stirling.

M3155074- blog

British Summer Time – 26 March 2017

None of your Daylight Saving Time.  This is British Summer Time.  Two sunny days in a row means it’s Summer and we are in Britain, at least until Nick the Chick gets her Second Referendum, then her Third, then her Fourth until the people give her the result she craves, because it his her job to protect Scotland! Cue the fanfare and  the cheering crowds.  But I digress.  We don’t save daylight here.  Sometimes I wish we could.  I wish we could bottle it up and bring it out on cold December days when the starlings are making their tuneless twittering noises in the skeleton trees and it’s dull, grey and just miserable.  If we had a bottle of Daylight, we could open it up and everything would be lovely.  Unfortunately, it’s not like that, so we make the most of two days of sunshine back to back, like we did today.

Scamp wanted to do a bit of gardening with the scary gardening gloves Hazy sent.  I wanted to get the bike out and go cycling just because I could.  I even put a pair of shorts on!  I didn’t go far, just a few miles, because this is only the second time I’ve been out this year on Dewdrop.  Got a photo of a zombie frog and a blue vent cover the birds have been crapping on and a strip of silver birch bark the sun was shining through, turning the silver to gold.  Best of all, I got a bit lost coming home and came upon the branch of cherry blossom.  Imagine, I’ve been living in the place for around thirty years and I still manage to get lost!

Came home and watched a really boring F1 GP.  Really, the cars look like they did back in the 1950s with big triangular fins and wide tyres. Also, what’s with the multitude of spoilers and wings?  They look like boy-racer specials.  Despite all the changes and supposed improvements, the excitement just wasn’t there.

Dinner was a beautiful piece of haddock with sautéed potatoes.  Quite delicious.

Tomorrow may be warm and a bit sunny, but low pressure is ensuring that the weather is on a downward path again.  I knew it couldn’t last.

M3155074- blog

Geese – 15 January 2017

Half past one in the afternoon and I’m standing in the middle of an old coup that was previously a spoil tip for a coal mine. Now it’s just wilderness and I’m watching and listening to skein after skein of geese flying overhead heading north. What do they know that we don’t?

That was written much earlier in the day.  I’d cycled to the tip and by the time I was heading for home, an hour and a half later, the skeins were flying west, south and occasionally north, but not east.  By that time the light was failing and I imagine that these birds had been flying since first light some eight hours earlier and are now looking for somewhere to roost for the night.  There are quite a few fields around Cumbersheugh where geese feed and then roost.  That would explain the apparently contradictory flight paths.  It was great listening to the skeins as they ‘talked’ to each other.  Some will say that’s not true, that they don’t communicate, but if you listen, it does sound like they are sharing information with each other.

While I was walking around the tip, I got a few shots of folk on top of the Kirkie Volcano.  It’s really a pit bing (spoil heap), but from this angle it looks just like a volcano.  One day I’m going to walk up it and take some photos from the top.  East Dunbarton Council should really make it into a visitor attraction with a wee coffee shop at the top.  It would make a fortune.  I may suggest it to them.

It was a lovely day today with a few showers of rain, but the temperature was decent, very decent for the time of year with highs of just over 10ºc.  Not quite shorts and tee shirts weather, but not far off it.  I did wander around in my shorts for a while, but it was too cool to cycle in them.  I saw the moss fruiting bodies (Green Blobs) when I was putting my cycling ‘longs’ (the opposite of shorts) back on and was quite impressed with the colour the camera caught.

Tomorrow is back to Gems in the afternoon, so I need somewhere to go.  Not sure where yet.  😉

M3155074- blog

Another dismal day – 6 September 2016

6 SeptI spent the morning working out exactly why and how I wanted to put a contact box on this, my blog. I think the answer is in my description. The key phrase is “this, my blog”. It’s My blog. It’s a documentary of my life now, in this new phase of my life, meant for me, my family and my friends. However, it is in the public domain and I realise that others may want to read it and I’m very happy to let them do it. With that said, here is my solution. The blog is a daily publication, one post every day. If you want to read it, feel free, especially if you know me, but nobody wants an email every day to remind them that I’ve added another ‘slice of my life’.  I did try with Hazy’s help to create a weekly update on posts for the previous week, but that became too complicated and unnecessary as far as I was concerned. If you want to keep up to date, I suggest that for the present, you save “www.http://dhcampbell.co.uk/blog/” in your favourites so you don’t miss a single episode of this unfolding story.  What I suppose it boils down to is that I won’t be adding a ‘contact box’ to the website any time soon. However, I reserve the right to change my mind any time I feel like it.  Thanks for the suggestions and help with the contact box, Hazy.  It may make an appearance some time in the future and I’ll need more help then.  You know me, always changing things. To all the (all because there are more than two of you now!) rest of you, I hope you continue to enjoy the read, and the photos of course.

So what of the day then? It started off a bit dank, damp and miserable in the morning, but with the prospect of better things to come in the afternoon. Unfortunately, that prospect never materialised because the dank and damp became dull and drizzle in the afternoon. Undeterred, I went out on my bike to pick some brambles, the wonderful free, hedgerow fruit that some misguided people mistakenly call ‘blackberries’. Managed to gather just over half a kilo (which sounds better than 500gms to my ears) before the drizzle strengthened to full tilt rain. Strangely, this happened at much the same time as yesterday’s deluge. After that I gave up and cycled home. I stopped near the wet corn field and grabbed a shot of tractor tracks that I knew I could convert to a gritty black & white in Lightroom. Now, here’s a tip for all you budding typists. When you are keying in a word like ‘white’, don’t let your left ring finger slip down a row on the keyboard from the ‘W’ to the ‘S’ key. Just a little heads-up there. The other photo in today’s meagre mosaic is of a couple of flies on bramble leaves. I just liked it.

Tomorrow the weather WILL be better, just repeat three times:
“The weather WILL be better”
“The weather WILL be better”
“The weather WILL be better”

Who knows, it might work.

M3155074- blog

A Run in the Rain – 5 September 2016

Today I was going out on my bike.  In the rain.  I lost a good pair of cheap glasses last week.  Like I say they were cheap, but they were perfect for wearing when I am working at the computer and they were bright green, very designery.  There were only one or two places they could be and today I was going to find them.  The fact that it was the restart day for Gems, had nothing to do with it, nothing at all.  Anyway, it was just a wee bit damp, not really raining.

Checked out the first place on my list, but they weren’t there, nor were they at the second which was just across the road.  The corn I had photographed was still there uncut.  Poor farmer must have been waiting for another couple of days of sun to dry it out perfectly and he got this drizzle instead.  Who would be a farmer?

Third place drew a blank as did the fourth.  Either they are deep in the undergrowth or some lucky bugger has picked up a lovely pair of designer(y) green glasses.  I’ve tried Tiger, now rebadged as Flying Tiger, reminiscent of Braddock and the Flying Tigers.  Brilliant book. Well, it is when you’re a twelve year old schoolboy.  I digress. I’ve tried Tiger and they still have something like the green designery glasses, but not them.  Oh well, nothing lasts forever.

By the time the search had been called off, the drizzle had turned to full force rain and I was getting soaked.  It didn’t matter too much because it was quite a mild day, so the rain was warm.  Headed home to a quieter house than I’d left, made the dinner, went to salsa and came home from that bathed in sweat and with a smile on my face.  Salsa does make you happy.

5 sept
Today’s mosaic is very spider orientated.  If anyone out there is an arachnophobe, then I apologise to you.  Just put your hand over the picture and avoid clicking on it, because that action will release the spiders hiding behind the picture.

Better weather forecast for tomorrow.