Just another Monday – 7 October 2019

You know how it is when you dream a strange dream and the feeling of it stays with you all day? I had that today.

Drove down to Jim Dickson’s tyre emporium and got a couple of new front tyres put on the Juke. Not the best quality Michelins that were on it from new, but hopefully good winter boots. Only time will tell. Just managed to get back for a quick lunch before Gems descended. Sat and talked to Margie about drawing while she showed me her drawings and I showed mine. Both sets were admired by both parties. And that was the morning gone.

Took the newly booted Juke out for a run to get some inspiration for today’s Inktober sketch which was to be “A Stone”. Drove to Auchinstarry and stopped at the flooded quarry. Lots of stone there, but nothing that inspired me. Walked over the bridge that spans the infantile Kelvin and thought about drawing some of the stones that cap the upstand of the bridge. Took some photos, but without really expecting them to be useful. Further on at the edge of the canal I found a short dry stane dyke and took some photos of it, because that would make a decent sketch.

Walked along the towpath and got the first part of PoD when I took a landscape format shot along the canal with a wee lucky of a cyclist coming the other way. Took another for good measure. Walked along a bit further, but the sun was quite low and blinding, so I turned back. Because the sun was much brighter now I took a few shots from the same place as the first one and the colours in the trees were much better now. Sadly no cyclist for a point of interest.

Back home I isolated the cyclist from the earlier shots and placed him in the better landscape shots from later. After a bit of jiggery pokery he blended is well enough, and that is how you make a PoD! Photographers don’t take photos, they make them.

Salsa tonight was a bit hectic and quite good fun. A weird progressive rueda group of moves with a name that escapes me. New Move 3 from three weeks ago and Chop from a couple of years ago at least, probably nearer five! Only one class and that suited me fine.

Watched, or rather, listened to University Challenge tonight, sketched the dry stane dyke and answered a few of the questions at the same time. Who says men can’t multitask?

Dorothy’s funeral tomorrow.

Another day on the bike

That makes it sound as if I was cycling all day. It wasn’t really like that. Not quite the Tour de France.

Neither Scamp nor I could decide what to do with today. We didn’t really want to go in to Glasgow again, besides, there were four Orange Lodge marches planned. Four! Thats about five too many for me, and before you say, No, I don’t want any of the Republican marches either. So where else could we go? Stirling was discussed and rejected. I offered to drive us to Mugdock park, but that didn’t fit either today. Finally we went to the Fort for a cup of coffee and a wander around the shops. I got some bits and pieces to hopefully make a prototype of the lens hood.

After a Costa lunch we came home and I got changed, dropped the back seats on the Juke and took the bike down to Auchinstarry. The actual carpark at Auchinstarry Quarry was completely full. Not one space, so I turned and drove up the the Hebo House and found one of the last four available spaces. Took the bike out and cycled off down the railway path as far as Twechar and that’s where I got today’s PoD. It’s an old garage that looks good in glancing low sun. I just missed that sun by about an hour today. I’ll check with an app tonight and try to get there at a better time tomorrow. There are apps for absolutely everything these days. Mine is called Photo Pills.

Back along the canal into the headwind, but I didn’t mind, because the sun was shining, the birds were singing and it was warm. It’s still quite warm at 11.42pm and I’m sitting here in a short sleeved cycling shirt and jeans, feeling quite comfortable. It can’t last. It won’t last. We’re forecast to have some rain tomorrow evening

Back home again I started the next phase of Make The Back Room Look Liveable. After an hour of moving stuff around it looks like a room again. Just a few things to shift tomorrow and we’re ready for Clive.

No plans for tomorrow. No dancing booked and like I said it’s not looking as clever as it was today. However, we had a good day today, so shouldn’t grumble.

Today I peed in a bucket – 20 September 2019

It was a bit more high tech than that, but basically that’s what they do for a ‘flow test’.

It’s the tech below the bucket that does all the clever stuff, measuring the rate of flow and producing a graph. Apparently I’d produced a classic bell shaped graph which is perfect. The nurse also gave me my PSA reading from the blood test and explained it all. The reading was 2.2 for those who understand such things. Way down the scale from the 5 I was producing back in February/March. She also showed me my blood sugar reading which was 47, but that was down from the 50 I’d had back in June, so it’s now off the Diabetic range and into the Pre-diabetic area. You’re never ever going to get off the scale. Once they’ve got their hooks into you, they don’t let you go.

So it was a Happy Boy who left Monklands with Scamp this afternoon. A little bit less to worry about. Back home I sorted out my car insurance which was another thing I was reminding myself to do before the end of the month. One thing left to do is pay the Road Tax. That has to be done before the end of the month too. September is always an expensive month. It used to be March, for the same reasons!

Scamp wanted to do some gardening when we got home, so I did the sensible thing and took the bike out for a run in the surprisingly warm sunshine. It’s not often I can go out on the bike with shorts and a cycling top. When I was out I got some more brambles, but I think this lot will be the last. I didn’t see any ripening fruit. It was either ripe or turning to mush. We’ve got a fair bit this year, almost 2kg now. Freezer is full of bags bulging with deep purple berries.

PoD was almost a tie between a macro of a Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum) and an HDR shot of some corn bales. The corn bales won. What surprised me about the HDR shot was the way the camera just took over and did it. So easy! (I’m not going to explain what an HDR shot is because JIC will just complain about technospeak!).

That’s about it for today. The day I peed in a bucket and got a bell shaped graph. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere. Tomorrow Scamp wants to go out somewhere if it’s ‘nice’. Neither of us have a clue where that place is.

More brambles, more nettles and bread – 10 September 2019

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and caught up with life down London way. Actually she phoned just as Scamp was beginning to defrost the freezer, so it gave her an excuse to leave that to itself for a while. And did you know Hazy that you phoned at 10:10 on the 10th of September. There, that’s a little bit of trivia for you!

I’d promised to bake another focaccia loaf today, before lunch I got it all organised and bunged it all in the mixer then left it to its magic for about 15 minutes. Paul Hollywood recommends that you knead it by hand, just to get the feel of a wet sticky dough. Aye Right, Paul, but whatever floats your boat, as they say. For me, a wet sticky dough is just what a food mixer is designed for.

After lunch, Scamp was off to the town centre just to wander round by herself for a while I think. I’m sure she told me the ‘reason’ for her trip, but I’ve forgotten. Meanwhile I got dressed for cycling and went out to get more brambles. You can never have too many of those little purple berries. I ignored the road closed signs and cycled down towards Drumgrew Bridge. I did manage to get a few handfuls of berries, but then when I turned the corner to head down to Sunday’s berry bushes, the road was closed off because great big lorries were unloading tons of asphalt on to it. Why didn’t they warn me? Oh, yes, they did. Ok, nothing for it but to cycle back up the hill and find some more. That’s when I remembered the old road covered by trees now that used to be a good spot for berries. Luckily it was still there hidden by a line of hawthorn hedges and there were loads of berries. Filled the bag with over 800g. Got soaked, of course because it was really wet underfoot and also got stung again by the late summer nettles that seem to have a lot more bite in their sting. On the plus side, I found today’s PoD which is a Metellina mengei spider. It took me over an hour when I got home to ID it on Google.

Back home Scamp had returned and the dough had completed its first prove (rise). Sorting it out was so easy last time. This time I’d to shout “Help!” to get Scamp to give me a hand with the unruly dough, but between us we got it under control. It was soon baked and even sooner consumed. It’s messy to make and used lots and lots of the EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil), but it’s worth it, just as long as you don’t hand knead it.

Tonight it’s raining and it’s going to go on all night with high winds too, but it’s forecast to clear up tomorrow. Let’s hope the weather fairies are right.

Brambles and Nettles – 8 September 2019

The day started with a visit to Calders garden centre for yet more plants.

Drove to Calders. Well, it’s a long walk there and an even longer walk back carrying a plant, a new plant pot and a bag of sharp sand. It made sense to take the car! You’d hardly recognise Dobbies as was. Much larger parking area, totally redesigned frontage and inside of the shop. Unfortunately the plants area is just as random and disorganised as ever. Lots of tat for sale inside, but if you’re looking for a watering can rose they don’t have one. Style over substance perhaps. Still we got the sharp sand, the flower pot and the plant, so we shouldn’t complain too much – shouldn’t, but did.

After lunch I got ready to go cycling for brambles and despite the threats of rain, I had a dry run and grabbed about 400g of berries. They are much harder to come by than last year and much later too. There may be more later in the week hopefully. Hopefully there will be less nettles though. My legs are still stinging from today’s forays into the nettle patches.

Scamp made potato and leek soup followed by Trout and Prawn Risotto for dinner and both were delicious.  I made some focaccia which was quite good, but needed better olive oil.

Watched an interesting Monza GP. Not a fair one as Leclerc won after flouting the rules a couple of times. Of course the road to fairness against an Italian team at the Italian GP is an uphill struggle, but it needn’t be so blatant or you just turn people off. Poor Vettel, he should concede the crown to his younger partner now. He’s becoming a liability. Let’s hope he wakes up to that before he does something with more serious consequences.

Spoke to JIC and got an update on all that’s happening down Cambridge way. Good to hear that he’s had a chance to get some gardening done and that his labours are bearing fruit … literally!

PoD was a group of fungi I saw when I was taking a break from bramble picking.

Tomorrow is Monday which means Gems and Salsa in that order.

Curry, Dragons and a Comma – 24 August 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

Riding with the Dewdrop – 23 July 2019

Another hot, hot day. Decided in the morning that a cooling run along the canal would be the thing to do.

In the morning, while Scamp was out buying Tesco and meeting June for coffee, I wandered round the garden taking some photos. Best one of the lot, or at least the most startling was this one of a fully open Gazania. It beat a spider and some pretty red Verbena to become PoD.

After lunch I got the Dewdrop for the first run for ages. Since April in fact! All it took was some air in the tyres and a slight adjustment to the front brakes. Took the front wheel off and with the back seats down and a tarpaulin over them as protection, it fitted perfectly into the back of the Juke for the short journey to Auchinstarry.

Fair few people out on bikes along the canal. Didn’t go quite as far as Kirkintilloch, stopped about halfway between Twechar and the Board Burn. Cycled back along the line of the old mineral railway, hoping to get back into Kilsyth, but the path became too rough for the hybrid tyres and I had to go back and along the usual way to Auchinstarry. A good run and a few photos taken, but nothing spectacular enough to warrant posting.

Sat in the garden with a glass of sparkling water, but we both chose to have a Mojito after dinner. After dinner, but before the Mojitos, I finished off the sewing of the lining of the waistcoat. Now all I have to do is make the buttonholes. Not as easy as it sounds.

Tomorrow may be a day for dancing in the afternoon, but not in the evening. It’s a long way to travel just for one class that isn’t even our own, but we’ll see what the day is like tomorrow. Thunder and lightning forecast overnight tonight.

Oh what a beautiful day – 12 May 2019

This wasn’t a day for lying around in bed, but we did, although not for long.

The strawberry plant in the hanging basket needed splitting up and repotting. So that was my gardening task for the day. It didn’t really take me that long, especially with the new garden table to raise things up so I wasn’t bending all the time. After splitting the original plant I had enough to fill two hanging baskets with some to spare, so that’s what I did. After that, it was wearing on to lunchtime, so we rested our trowels and forks for a while and had lunch. Watched an irritating interview on the Andrew Marr program with the despicable Nigel Farage (Who my spellchecker thinks is Nigel Garage. He has as much sincerity as a Garage). He’d make a great snake oil salesman.

I could have done a lot of things, but I eventually decided that the bike needed a run, so I dragged myself out in the warm sunshine and cycled to the spot where I can usually depend on seeing some damselflies in the summer. It’s the verge of a fair sized pond, but today it was a reed bed with little sign of any standing water. It just shows how little rain we’ve had this year. Occasionally great deluges lasting days, then nothing for the next week. Is this another sign of Global Warming? Something else that the esteemed Mr Farage doesn’t believe in. Trained by Trump perhaps? I was about to leave empty handed when I remembered another very small pond where the damselflies hang out and lo and behold there was a Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula). Got a few shots of it as it sunned itself and that made PoD.

Back home it was lamb shank for me and salmon for Scamp. Both done in the oven. The lamb shank was enormous and made great eating. Scamp’s salmon looked good too. As a surprise she’d made meringues. Light as a feather they were. There are some kept aside for tomorrow, but they are at their best straight from the oven.

Watched a boring Spanish GP before I started on today’s sketch whose topic was “Pastimes / Amusements”. My answer was “The Times Daily Sudoku” which passes a significant part of my time but is rarely amusing.

Tomorrow I’m going to lunch with Shona and she’s paying.

No Dancin’ but YES to cyclin’ – 21 April 2019

Scamp was going out to a 65th party tonight, so no dancin’. Not really a problem because it was going to be hot. Too hot to trot!

First a spot of gardening was the order of the day. Scamp, of course, went overboard planting at least half a dozen pots of herbs and other plants. Me? I took the measured approach and planted a line of peas, some leeks seeds and replanted my cyclamen that seemed to die off for some reason in the start of the year. It’s more a hopeful planting than a confident one.

After lunch Scamp soaked up some rays while I took the Dewdrop out for a run. The wind was a bit stronger than I thought it would be, but it was a fairly enjoyable run. Very few photos to be had, so the best of the day and the PoD was the catkins at the top of the page.

Dinner tonight was roast veg and the hogget steak from yesterday’s farmers market. First attempt was a bit too pink for me, so on Scamp’s suggestion I gave it another ten minutes or so in the oven. That was just right. I’ll try to remember that for next time. Scamp’s roast veg was lovely, although I think the roasting tray is now a goner because the non-stick coating is not even sticking to the metal. They just don’t make things to last these days.

Scamp was getting a lift to the party (Girls only!), so that left me with an hour sitting in the sun. Unfortunately I was the taxi driver going to pick them up later, so I had to forego the bottle of beer that would have made the seat in the sun complete.

Tomorrow we have no plans. Maybe that bottle of beer and another seat in the sun.

Bike – 11 April 2019

In the morning we went to buy Waitrose.

We didn’t totally buy Waitrose, but we made a valiant stab at it. We also walked into Stirling and had a coffee. A lazy morning.

In the afternoon, Scamp just failed to get the grass cut before the competition, the next door neighbour, got started on her smaller grass patch. While she was doing that, I took the Dewdrop out for a run. Didn’t go far, didn’t want to push things too early. Just went as far as the old dump and got today’s PoD there. I had to crop the bottom off the landscape to remove the unsightly cables for the ‘leccy trains. Still looks an inviting scene in my eyes. On the way back I sat and watched Grebes fishing in Broadwood Loch. They can stay underwater for 20 seconds! Quite amazing. It was a beautiful afternoon. Warm sunshine, but a cooling breeze.

Made some Beef Clives (Olives to you) tonight and am just about to put them in the freezer. Scamp made Chicken Milanese with new potatoes and spiralled veg. Damn spiralizer didn’t work properly. It would appear that the microswitch in the ’safety’ feature isn’t seated properly because it’s very safe. It doesn’t switch on properly. It cost us eight quid too! It’s going back.

Not the busiest of days, but the bike got an airing and Scamp got the front grass cut. I also reset the name servers for my webspace (whatever that means), but I don’t think the changeover is complete yet. Maybe tomorrow.

Tomorrow we have that wonderful thing – No Plans.