Two wheels good – 19 July 2018

This morning I was going to do my quads exercise on two wheels.

It was a beautiful morning again and warm too, so cycling shorts and a cycling top were the fashion of the day. Pumped up the tyres and set off in pursuit of some photos and some exercise. The physio had suggested ten minutes of cycling at a steady pace of 90rpm. I don’t have a cadence meter on my bike computer, so I just pedalled at my usual rate which is probably nearer 80rpm and kept going for about 20 minutes. Went off road on to a track for a mile or so and stopped when the track ended. Took a few photos of a hover fly and one of the Two Amigos, the two beech trees that used to be Three before the storm earlier in the year. About turned and cycled back on my circuit. Stopped beside Broadwood Loch to grab the shot that would become PoD, someone’s lost dummy! Back on to the bike and home. About an hour all in. Not all cycling, probably about 40mins. Leg felt ok, in fact he cycling seemed to ease the nagging ache that had arrived in the night.

It was lunch time when I got back and after that Scamp stated her intention to go to Asda, and as the road to the town centre is closed for a few days, it was actually easier to go to Robroyston. The fact that Robroyston also has a Watt Brothers store, one of Scamp’s favourite shops, had nothing to do with her decision to visit that Asda. After shopping (and a visit to Watt Bros) we went for a coffee then came home. It wasn’t long after we got back that we noticed a lot of police activity at a house across the road. It became a bit more serious when a couple of folk in white Tyvek suits appeared. We’re still not sure exactly what happened, but it’s not looking good. Police have now gone, but I’m sure they’ll be back tomorrow and the rumour mill will have answers, at least one of which will have an element of truth.

After dinner Scamp decided there was just enough warmth in the sun to give her just cause to sit in the garden for an hour. I wasn’t so sure, in fact, the cool wind that was blowing from the west was all the encouragement I needed to finish my reading indoors.

Rain is forecast for tomorrow, heavy rain, so we’ve got buckets ready in the garden to catch every drop we can. Rain is so much better for plant than tap water, they say. It’s certainly cheaper!

Shorts and Tee Shirt Weather – 7 May 2018

When we woke this morning it was cloudy and dull.

It may have been cloudy and it may have been dull, but the outside temperature was already 14.4ºc. That’s only 0.6º short of official Shorts and Tee Shirt weather as decreed by me.

When I eventually dragged myself away from my book, got showered and dressed, it was definitely shorts and tee shirt time, but I retained my decorum and just wore a shirt and jeans instead. Scamp was already in the garden, watering and feeding the plants and encouraging the sun to shine down on this great land we live in. Even better, it seemed to be working. The sun was breaking through the clouds and it looked like it was going to be a lovely day. Cleaned the Gaggia and which has been on my to do list for ages. Sat on the front step with Scamp and grabbed today’s PoD which is the inside of an open tulip.

After a quick trip to Tesco, lunch and a conversation with Hazy. I decided it was time to get the bike out and take it for a run. Truly this was shorts and tee shirt weather, cycling shorts and a short sleeved top. It was a good run, but there wasn’t much for the new lens to get a grip on. Back home and it as salad for dinner and a mighty good one too. Potato salad, mixed leaves, yesterday’s mutton served cold, beetroot and all washed down with a glass of vino collapso. Then a seat in the garden to let it all slide down with the last of the vino to help it on its way. After an hour or so the sun had dipped far enough down to force us back inside.  Nice to have a restful Monday with no salsa as  the STUC building is closed on bank holidays.

All in all, it was a very nice day. Unfortunately it looks like it’s all going downhill from here on in. Never mind, it was a really good summer. We enjoyed both days.

Another day older – 8 April 2018

Hopefully not (too much) deeper in debt.

Yesterday I got to bed just before I became 68. Today I woke to the reality of it. We had intended going in to a food festival in Glasgow, but after due consideration and the fact that the rain had stopped, I decided to go out and cycle. Scamp decided to work in the garden. Very satisfactory decisions for both of us.

While I was getting dressed for cycling, Scamp had been giving the back garden the once over and she’d found an old clay flowerpot which was being used by about forty, yes FORTY (I did a rough count) slugs. Big fat Irish Yellow Slugs. I’d post the picture, but it would put you off your breakfast … lunch …. and dinner. We could have salted them, but the resulting slime is even more disgusting than the molluscs. The more humane option was to put the pot, complete with slugs in a poly bag and take it into the country and release them there. Now I’d heard that slugs are homing creatures and will easily find their way back to their home garden if it’s half a mile away. This lot were going five miles away and they went there in a poly bag in my back pack and they couldn’t see where we went. I released them after turning the bag round three or four times so they wouldn’t know which way was home. Also they’d have to cross three main roads to get back here. I think we’re safe. They’re gone.

Got some pics there the PoD was the monochrome shot of the brambles.

Had a lovely day. Thank you JIC, Sim, Hazy and Neil. Most of all, thank you Scamp for planning my day. You said you didn’t, but I know you did.

A Straggle of Geese – 26 March 2018

So, I thought why go to the gym when I could exercise in the open air and the sunshine. Then the sun went away.

First on the list this Monday was ‘messages’ at Tesco where I bumped into Fred out doing his messages too. There’s a character in the book I’m reading called Grumpy Bob. It could also be Grumpy Fred!

Three slices of bacon between two slices of toasted sourdough bread was lunch. Not my own sourdough, I hasten to add because my sourdough starter hasn’t started yet. It’s early days though. I only made it up yesterday and it shouldn’t show any signs of life for 48 hours. It’s living in the living room now where the temperature is more even and slightly warmer than the cupboard that was its home yesterday. Anyway, the bacon sandwich was an early lunch before getting the bike out again and getting some outdoor exercise. The sun that had promised so much in the morning had gone into hiding by the time I wheeled the Dewdrop out of the door.

Back down to the same landfill site I visited last week. While I was debating if it was warm enough to take of the leg warmers, a large skein of geese appeared flying due west. I’d have thought they would have been flying south, but they were following the train lines and heading west. The patterns they made in the sky were amazing with those birds at the front of the three or four Vee formations falling back to the rear while others took their place. Even more amazing was the sound of their calls back and forth as they flew. They were definitely talking to each other. It was the noise you hear in a large hall where hundreds of people are having scores of conversations. It really is a delight to listen to all the different voices of the birds in flight. I eventually decided that it was indeed warm enough, then realised why they call them leg Warmers. It was quite cool after I took them off.

I walked to the place I went to last week, hoping to see some newts, but none were cruising round the pond today. In fact there was very little sign of life at first glance. However, when I went for a walk I spotted the crow sitting on a vent pipe and thought it made and interesting shape. Watched Skylarks flying up from their nesting sites among the reeds and listened to their song as they rose. In fact, as I write this I’m listening to The Lark Ascending by Ralph Vaughan Williams. That’s what I like about Spotify, I can instantly listen to almost any piece of music as I sit at the computer or in the car. Thank you again Hazy & Neil. I just had to photograph the Coltsfoot Daisies. They always remind me of my dad. He explained to me how they always grow in the poorest ground.

When I was leaving, another two skeins of geese flew over, again flying west. They started out as one large cluster, then split into two distinct groups, seeming to prefer to fly round rather than over me. This time I took a photos and managed to fill the frame with the larger of the two groups. Once they had passed me, the joined up again and turned as one towards the south. Again the call and response from all the individuals was something wonderful to hear.

My legs were sore after today’s exercise and I probably did more work than if I’d gone to the gym, but I don’t mind. It was a day in the fresh air, but I did put the leg warmers on again for the run home.

Dinner was Prawn & Pea Risotto with a poached egg on top. I think I decided on Saturday that I’d make it for us. Scamp gave me ‘poaching pockets’ for a wee silly Christmas present and they worked perfectly, keeping the poached egg neat and tidy. Must remember next time I make it that 3 minutes is perfect for a runny egg with firm white.

Salsa tonight was fun with Jamie G giving the 6.30 class the full Uhura story to explain the move. There were a lot of puzzled looks after his ‘explanation’. Tonight’s moves were The New One and The New Thing. Interesting moves is slightly thoughtless titles.

I should mention that I know it’s a gaggle of geese, but as you can probably just see, these geese were straggling across the sky.

Tomorrow it looks like rain, so it will be the gym and maybe a swim.

Another Good Day – 20 March 2018

And I quote:

“Tomorrow, if it works out as the weather man says, will be another good day with more sunshine, temperatures scraping under double digits and light winds again. Scamp wants to go into the garden. I might get my bike out.”

Well, it did turn out as the weather man said.
– It was another good day with sunshine.
– Temperatures in the sun were probably scraping the double digits.
– The winds were light
– Scamp did go into the garden
– I DID take my bike out

Scamp started clearing up the front garden in the morning, the back garden is still under permafrost. I cleared the snow off the back step, finding the mat in the process. I then attacked the ice with a spade, but gave up when I got to the stuff that was welded securely to the concrete and resorted to a chemical attack. Instead of Novichok, I used table salt which melted the ice really quickly. Meanwhile Scamp was trying to eradicate an influx of tiny white maggots from one of her containers. She eventually gave up, washed the offending plants and dumped the compost in the brown bin (garden waste). Then she tidied up the front of the window area to let the daffodils have some air and light. The garden looked so much better after that.

The coffee I’d ordered from the Bean Shop in Perth arrived just in time for lunch and after sampling some, I got dressed to go out on my bike. Glorious day if you were in the sun, quite cool in the shade. Cycled to the old tip and that’s where I got today’s PoD which is the Kirkintilloch Volcano. One day I will climb the Kirkintilloch Volcano and sit like this person did, just enjoying the view. There, that’s a challenge for this year.  I also got a photo of a newt.  Not great or crested, but a newt.  I’ve never seen one in St Mo’s and this is the first one I’ve seen for years.  Stood and watched the trains go by and listened to the silence, if you know what I mean.  It was simply wonderful to be out in the air without that cold wind dragging you down.  Maybe spring is just round the corner.  Glad I took advantage of today because the weatherwoman says it’s going to rain tomorrow. Worse still, Wunderground says it’s going to rain tomorrow and I trust Wunderground more than I trust the weatherwoman, Kawser Quamer.

Made chilli for dinner while Scamp had Rats which is her shorthand for Ratatouille.

Tomorrow is Dancing, Dancing, Dancing day we hope because we missed it last week.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.