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.

Keeping the wheels turning – 22 February 2019

I’d decided that today was the day to pump up the tyres, oil the chain and get the bike on the road again.

Before that there was the usual attempt at the Fiendish sudoku and then a visit to Tesco to buy everything in sight, just in case of a no-deal Brexit when everything will have vanished from the shelves overnight. Why do the news programs try to frighten the living daylights out of us? They spread more panic and fear than actual news these days.

Once the shopping was done and lunch had been made and eaten (pizza – home made) I got the pump out and inflated the tyres, checked that they’d stay inflated and oiled the chain. Swiched on the lights and the bike computer and was amazed that both still worked. Then I got dressed and slipped on those SPD fitted shoes and went out into the wild world. I was amazed at just how warm it was. Comfortably warm in February, not that’s a first. Apparently, a couple of days ago, Aboyne recorded the highest February temperature in over 120 years. Such a strange winter this year. Not a sign of last year’s ‘Beast From The East.’ Well, not yet anyway. Had a pleasant run on the Dewdrop which performed perfectly. Need to get the bike out more often.

Home just as Scamp was going out to meet the Witches and after starting today’s sketch, began making today’s dinner which again would be pakora and then curry. Egg curry this time.

Today’s PoD was a low level view of one of Scamp’s crocus flowers, well two flowers to be more exact. Today’s 28 Drawings Later drawing, No 22 is of a bar of Aero, before I had to call a halt, having eaten the model!

Interesting news story today about a flypast honouring 10 American airmen who died when their plane crashed in a park 75 years ago has taken place in Sheffield.  The US bomber came down in Endcliffe Park, Sheffield on 22 February 1944, killing everyone on board. A campaign for a flypast started after a chance meeting between BBC Breakfast presenter Dan Walker and Tony Foulds, who tends a park memorial.  Good to see something in the news that isn’t about Brexit.

Tomorrow looks like the end of the good weather we’ve been having and a return to rain. It was good while it lasted.

Blue Skies – 15 October 2018

Another beautiful day. Blue skies all around.

Not the warmest of days, but if you were in the sun it was warm, especially because there was little or no wind to draw the heat away.

As it was Gems today, I had to make the decision whether to go to the gym or take the Dewdrop out for a run. That blue sky and the lack of wind made it a no-brainer. Hurled 1 the Dewdrop out  and realised right away that I was over dressed for the conditions. It looked cold, but was remarkably mild. However, I was out now and I wasn’t going back in to remove one of my layers. Better too warm than too cold.

It was a short run, just about five miles or so, but cycling was only part of the reason I was out. I wanted to get some decent shots with the Samyang. Even after a month, I’m still having to get used to it. Today I was looking for macro shots in the ultra-wide. Apparently the Samyang is quite adept at getting in ultra close. It worked too, although as usual you have to be very careful setting the all important focusing distance.

Cycling was a bit aquatic today with loads of puddles and flooded parts of the track I like to ride on. The SPD shoes are great for getting the power down, but practically they are a disaster. Not only are there holes in the sole, the uppers are as waterproof as blotting paper. Apparently the holes in the sole are to allow the water to run out when you’re cycling in the rain, but they also let the standing water in. I don’t think there is a happy medium here.

After dinner we drove in to Glasgow and tonight’s Salsa move was interesting. Not nearly as bad as the one we dodged last week which was just a lucky bag of bits of moves, clumsily bolted together. This one also had bits of moves we already knew, but the joining together was more skilfully done. Jamie learned it from a video by a Polish couple, so it’s called ‘Poland’. That’s the way it is some times!

PoD was a macro shot of a ladybird on a leaf and it works for me. Inktober sketch for today was two bottles and a jam jar sitting on the worktop this morning.

Tomorrow Scamp goes to the dentist again in the morning and I’ll find something to sketch to fill my time.


  1. To Hurl – In the Scottish language does not mean to throw or even to be sick.  To Hurl is to wheel something.  “The mother put the baby in the pram and hurled it down the street.”  It is also possible to give someone a Hurl.  “The old man gave the boy a hurl in the barrow.”  Note that neither prams nor barrows, nor even boys were thrown anywhere. 

A new pair of glasses – 4 October 2018

Well, three new pairs actually.

Scamp was going out for coffee with Isobel this morning and was meeting her at 10am. I was also going out, but Scamp didn’t know it. Y’see, we have to rewind to yesterday to see what’s going on here.

On Wednesday’s when we go to Blackfriars for ballroom, we pass this wee charity shop with really interesting window displays every week. Usually it involves some old cameras and lenses, surprisingly. Yesterday, when I was ogling some 20th century photographic accessories, Scamp was looking in the other windows, the ones with boring antiques in them. One of those ‘boring antiques’ was a set of six wine glasses. We agreed they were good looking glasses and we’d go and have a better look after dancing. We didn’t go back. We were too busy discussing Ladles, Lindy Hops and Time Steps.

Probably before Scamp got to the bottom of the road this morning, I too was in my car and off in to Glasgow. Got to the shop, checked the glasses for damage, couldn’t see any. Paid for them and was back just after 11am. Job done.

I guessed I’d have just over an hour before I was going out to the physio and that’s when Inktober No 4 was drawn. It’s one of Scamp’s favourite roses, Sheila’s Perfume. Yellow and tinges of red and so well named with its heavy perfume. It took just over 30 minutes of controlled drawing. Not my usual scratchy rough sketching with loads of construction lines. Just careful measuring by eye and placing the lines on the paper. Used thick and thin lines to give a degree of form to the drawing. One in the bag.

I got a message from Scamp just before I left for the Physio to say she was going for a swim after the coffee. Physio gave me some more a good going over checking ligament and hamstring before zapping me with the laser and then sticking pins in me. While the needles did their work he gave me a book to read, Chris Hoy’s book How To Ride A Bike. Very, very interesting. It reminded me of a book I had back in the ‘80s Richard’s Bicycle Book, but updated for modern cycling equipment. Hadn’t realised how time was passing until he came back to remove the needles half an hour later. We were both agreed that the knee is back to normal after my twisting and turning had angered the ligament and then the hamstring. He signed me off but reminded me that if it comes back, I’ve just to give him a ring. I hope I don’t need it.

As I was walking out I got a text from Scamp to tell me that she’d found the parcel I’d left for her. I decided to go to Tesco to get a bottle of red to christen the glasses and to celebrate my sign-off from the physio.

Dinner tonight was Stir Fry, one of Scamp’s specialities. It was good, so was the wine from the new glasses.

Today’s PoD was Chestnuts. It looks simple but it was tricky lighting. I wanted the light from the window to be in front of the camera, but this created deep shadows which needed lightening. I did this with an A2 sheet of paper with a hole cut in it, big enough for the camera lens to poke through. This gave me a big reflector that threw the reflected light back into the shadows. Simple sometimes is best.

Tomorrow? No plans. No subterfuges!

Zoomers Day – 28 September 2018

Some days it seems like all the zoomers are out. Today was one of those days.

We were undecided where to go today but we finally settled on Glasgow. That’s when we met the first zoomer. We were driving up the hill to go on the motorway and the zoomer came screaming up behind us trying his level best to get in the Juke’s boot. Wasn’t going to happen though. It’s a 30mph zone and I was doing a steady 30, good law abiding citizen that I am. Then he started weaving from side to side. He’d been watching too much F1 and thought he was Lewis Hamilton trying to warm up his tyres. Either that or he was hoping to hurry me along. He obviously hasn’t heard the auld guy’s rule “The closer you come, the slower I go.” He wasn’t even driving a fancy car, it was a chemist’s delivery van for a Glenboig chemist. Best bit was when he stopped at the red light, not realising that the red is really for those turning right. He was heading straight on. It wasn’t until the drivers behind started sounding their horns that he saw the green filter lane light and drove on.

In Glasgow we met zoomer number two. He was a complete nutter. I signalled to move left into a filter lane, but he wasn’t having it. He was in that lane, it was his lane and he wasn’t giving it up. Stuff that. I accelerated, so did he, but I was quicker and nipped in in front of him. Oh he didn’t like that. He gave up on trying to cut me up as I turned left at the next lights, then undertook me to get in front of me before the next ones. He was smiling as I drove behind him, but I changed lanes and gave him a cheery toot as I passed him. He was in the wrong lane, stuck behind three cars and a bus waiting to turn right at the lights and I had a clear road ahead. A simple beginner’s mistake on his part. Perhaps he’ll learn, but I don’t think so. As we sailed past him I distinctly saw that angry little black monkey sitting on his shoulder, whispering in his ear. So nice to see them together, they deserve each other.

We went in to JL and Scamp quickly got exactly what she was looking for while I ogled the Big Boy’s Toys in the photography section. Then she decided to go look in Next and I went to practise sketching Buchanan Galleries. Inktober starts on Monday and I need lots of practise.

Once we met up, we went for a really poor excuse for a coffee in Nero at the Galleries. They have one more chance to up their game and then they get dropped. Almost Cumbernauld Costa quality they were producing. Burnt water blend.

Drove home without mishap and without meeting any more zoomers. Decided it was warm enough to go cycling if I had enough layers on. Made not a bad fist of fighting my way through the mad (not ‘zoomer’) drivers heading home early from work and did a bit of off road cycling. While I was out in the wilderness I heard the note of a small turboprop plane and guessed it was my favourite aircraft the Piaggio P180. A small 11 seater canard (an aircraft with horizontal stabilising and control surfaces in front of the wing). You can usually hear them long before you see them, but I still had to set up my camera properly to catch this small fast plane and that’s why I tried to jump a fallen tree and tangled my leg in a long bramble stem which is the reason that I’m smelling of TCP right now and have long scratches down my calves. I got the photo, though and that’s the main thing as any photog will tell you. It was indeed a Piaggio P180 flying from Bremen to Glasgow and my leg is indeed still sore.

Heading home I met zoomer 3. Maybe they come in threes. She, it was definitely a She, was driving and she was in a hurry and she was taking no prisoners and she didn’t see cyclists, even ones with flashing red rear light on. If she’s been an inch or two closer she would have had a nasty scrape down her nearside door and I wouldn’t have had to worry about the bramble scratch on my legs. Luckily she didn’t make that move and I got home safe, but it was a very near miss, Miss.

“Zoomer – A person of an erratic or volatile disposition.”

PoD is a view from the JL bridge over the railway in Glasgow taken with the Samyang, the lens of the moment.

Tomorrow we have no plans. Nothing we need to get, nowhere we need to be. Let’s hope that it’s Zoomers Stay At Home Day.

Out on two wheels again – 23 September 2018

Just a short run to make sure the lungs and legs are still up to cycling after the cold virus has had its wicked way.

It was a beautiful sunny morning. Almost a sin to waste it sitting up in bed reading. Almost a sin, but not quite. Unless reading in bed is now a sin.

However, all good things must come to an end and I did eventually drag myself away from my Kindle and in to the shower, thence to go downstairs where Scamp was already off buying Tesco. Yesterday she had been cutting flowers that had been battered by Wednesday’s wind. She had put them in a vase and it was sitting on the table in the living room where the light pouring in through the vertical blinds was lighting it up and throwing wonderful shadows on the table. Now that would make a good picture I said to myself. Set up the Samyang on the Oly and grabbed a few shots from different distances and angles until I was sure I’d have something decent. At least one in the bag!

I decided this good weather wasn’t going to last, so I did what I’d committed myself to yesterday and got dressed for winter cycling. Layer upon layer of thin clothes with shorts and longs, because the temperature was only just in double figures and it was just past midday. When Scamp returned with Tesco in two shopping bags, I left for a short run. Short runs never really stay short if the traffic is light and the light is good. That’s how it was today. I tried to find some swallows because I thought I’d seen and heard some last week, but alas I may have been mistaken. So definitely no swallows this is week and this is week 39. I tried to find some photos, but try as I might, there was nothing there that interested me today. Finally I gave up and made my way home, and lunch. While I was out, Scamp took brush, sponge and hot water in hand and washed her car. Not that it needed it, eh, Scamp?

<Technospeak>
After lunch I started looking at today’s captures on Lightroom and decided that the flower shots from the morning were the best of the bunch, even if I’d forgotten to set the focus. It’s so hard to go back to a manual focus lens again! Luckily I’d set a fairly small aperture and this gave me enough DOF to make the shot look as if it was in focus. It took a bit of work in Lightroom to get the levels the way I wanted them and a bit more work in ON1 to push the background out of focus enough to concentrate the eye on the flowers. Finally I returned to LR to add a bit of warmth to the shot and Bingo it was done! PoD done!
</Technospeak>

Dinner was Friday’s soup followed by yesterday’s curry reheated. Just your typical Sunday dinner!

Tomorrow we may take Big Red (that may be the Juke’s new name) out for a spin if the weather is good.

Sorting out problems – 5 September 2018

As well as sorting problems, we also did a bit of dancing.

We were out fairly early and in Glasgow for a 12 o’ clock start. We started with waltz and picked up another few tips, just tweaks really. Some made little difference, others made things a lot easier. Next it was Quickstep to which we added a few more steps. Lastly a couple of runs through our Tango. In the second half there were two Jive classes running concurrently with two teachers again, now that Ann Marie had returned from Oz. Only three of us today, so it was almost a private lesson. We added to last week’s Lindy Hops and practised The Dance of the Seven Spins once more.

When we came back I phoned the plumber and ordered the fitting of the new kitchen tap. He’s coming tomorrow and hopefully by tomorrow afternoon we should have a shiny new tap that doesn’t drip. Problem one dealt with.

Later in the afternoon I took the panda on in the Dewdrop for a photoshoot and to get some more brambles (just over half a kilo). This was to be a simpler setup than yesterday. This would be a mountain climbing panda. Actually it’s a big boulder that somebody has hit with a van or a lorry. I know how that’s done now! The result was a big broken corner that made a lovely rock face of a mountain. The background was a sunset taken from the upstairs back window about a year ago. It’s amazing the lies you can tell with a computer, a decent bit of software and a bit of imagination.

Dancing tonight was a mixed lot. Far too many men, so I sat out for a while, only for more folk to join. That’s when I started writing this blog. Then I got fed up and danced for the last twenty minutes of the class.

When we came home, in fact just five minutes ago, I finally signed up for AppleCare. I think their website was having a bad day the last time I tried to sign up. So now I have two extra years insurance on the iMac, another weight off my mind. Problem two sorted.

Hopefully I’ll get my knee sorted tomorrow at the physio and that will be another tick in another box. Always hopeful. Totally unlike me!  Oh yes, and fingers still crossed, but the leeks survived the day.  The bird keeper outer is working DV.

Taking lego into the real world – 4 September 2018

Something I hadn’t thought about before I saw there was a group on Flickr devoted to it. So I tried it, and it worked.

The day began with Scamp going out for coffee with one of her friends. I stayed in, half intending to slap some watercolour on a bit of paper, but inspiration wasn’t there, so I started into my plan to thwart those pesky birds I suspect of stealing my leeks. Twice, or is it three times now, I’ve planted leeks and watered them in, only to find that they’d disappeared the next morning. JIC has now had the same problem. I don’t think it’s slugs because there is no sparkly slime across the raised bed and besides it’s been dosed twice now with slug nemesis nematodes. It must be birds. When I asked Colin last week, he agreed that the wee feathered buggers were the culprits. I had thought of buying a shotgun, but that was a bit severe and besides, the pellets would probably damage the kale that’s growing quite well now. Then there would be the noise and I don’t want the polis coming to the door asking if I have a license for a firearm. No prevention is better than cure, quieter and less damaging to the environment too.
I’d already planned it out, sort of, so I got some bamboo canes and cut them to size then used cable ties to tie them together at the top to … Now look, this is far too difficult to describe. Imagine a ridge tent. An inefficient ridge tent because it’s covered, not with canvas, but with netting. That’s the basis of the bird keeper outer. Hopefully it will work. We shall see in the morning. If the leeks are still there then it was a success. If not it’s on to the internet to find a supplier of shotguns. Ebay, that’s the place to go. Ebay for the Dark Web perhaps.

When Scamp came home the bird keeper outer was finished and looking … reasonable. I had just finished my lunch and was thinking that I might go out in the sunshine and take some of my lego weemen out for a run on the Dewdrop. Weemen were originally all men, but now some female minifigs have made their way into their midst but the name can still apply because the singular for a woman in West Central Scots is Wummin and the plural is Weemen, so it works. Set up the scenario on a bit of waste ground covered with big rough chipping. Set the camera up on a tripod and shot ten or so frames while moving the lady road mender around between each. Back home I layered up the shots and used masks to remove the bits I didn’t want and reveal the weemen. Like the bird keeper outer it’s easier to see than explain and it doesn’t need any cable ties either. The resulting image is PoD.

I think we are on our way to getting the dripping tap fixed. Unfortunately it looks like we’ll need a new tap, rather than fixing the old one. I was coming round to that conclusion after so many plumbers seemed to reject the idea of fixing the old tap. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I just want the Japanese water torture to stop. It’s driving me more crazy than normal.

Guess what happened today. Michael phoned to change the time of tomorrow’s class to an hour earlier. Actually it suits us better to go then, because it opens up the afternoon. So dancing tomorrow.