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A better day than yesterday – 7 December 2017

Yes, it was a better day than yesterday, but that wouldn’t be difficult.

We were driving to Wishaw General hospital for Scamp’s checkup today. Nothing to report, everything normal. It’s hard to believe that a year ago just now, the whole thing was just starting. Now, a year later we’re so grateful for that short conversation at salsa class.

I’d half intended driving in to Glasgow afterwards, but it was so cold and dismal, we decided to go straight home. Scamp had still a lot of prep to complete too before the Witches Christmas banquet tomorrow and I was hoping against hope that there would be a short break in the clouds to allow me to get out to take some photos. As it happened, we both achieved our stated goals.

While Scamp was out emptying the shelves at ASDA, I got ready to go out because the sun was shining. I’d just got changed and putting my boots on when the rain came on. I waited until it went off and grabbed my camera. Pity I didn’t look in the camera bag first, then I might have noticed the absence of the Tamron lens. I got today’s PoD outside the park. A rook sitting on the school railings. The pigeon above its head was a ‘lucky’. In the park I noticed a deer wandering around aimlessly just on the tree line. Carefully took out the Nikon and noticed that it had a short lens on. No long lens in the bag. Not to worry, I had my trusty Teazer in my pocket. Grabbed two shots and realised immediately that something was wrong. The camera was set to full automatic, which means its zoom is a combination of optical and digital. Never a good thing. By the time I got the settings changed, the deer, two of them were off and running into the trees. The images were useless. Basically, they were just cropped JPEG files.

Walked home with the rook photos in the bag so all was not lost and made pizza for lunch. It was good, but not great. Need more practise with oven baked pizza.

Spent the evening beginning the tidy-up for Jackie arriving next week. I’ve now found a sofa in the back room under discarded jeans, tee shirts, a couple of bags and a couple of drawing boards, so at least she’ll have somewhere to sleep! May have to continue the exercise over the weekend because I’m sure there’s a carpet under all the magazines. Looks like there’s a cold couple of days ahead with ice and snow forecast for tomorrow and into the beginning of next week.

I’d dropped Scamp off at the entrance to the hospital this morning and gone to park the car. At least, for once the architects had considered the parking requirements of this new hospital, but it was when I was walking back to the hospital building that I noticed an almost total lack of sensible footpaths. Yes, there were some twisty turny pretty looking pathways, but they simply aren’t practical. Once you’ve parked at a hospital, you just want to get into the building as quickly and as safely as possible. I was mulling this over as I was walking out of St Mo’s too, when I realised that the path I was following was made by the deer. Now, here’s an idea for the architects. Instead of creating meandering paths that look pretty, but are impractical, try this. Just grass the whole area. Keep the grass cut for about a year. After that people will have made up their own minds where the paths should go. You may not like it, but they will have taken the shortest and safest routes from A to B. Now all you need to do is turn those muddy paths into real walking routes with tarmac or paving slabs. I’ll even allow you to put curves in to satisfy your artistic desires. Now everyone is happy. If you later find that a new ‘people route’ had been created, firm that up too and there you have a democratic set of walking routes. If you want you can mention that you saw the idea here!

Tomorrow it’s my turn to cook.

  1. Bread is out of the freezer tonight and thawing as I write. It should be good to prove (rise) and be baked tomorrow morning. If not I will have time to make a new batch.

  2. Veg to chop and filo pastry to form into nests for the starters. May have time to bake it before I go out, if not I’ll leave it in Scamp’s capable hands.

  3. Time to make myself scarce. I think a trip in to Glasgow is on the cards.

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Recovery – 4 December 2017

After an exhausting night’s dancing, today was a day to recover … for a short while before more torture dancing tonight.

The day started fairly late for me. Nearly 10.30am before I surfaced properly. After that, the first item on the agenda was to get moving and wash the car. Poor Juke was looking a bit down in the mouth and needed a swift shampoo. After that, it was nearly lunchtime. Then a short respite before Gems arrived. I just had to get out, because today the wee souls were singing Christmas Carols, my least favourite musical interlude.

I took myself off to look for photos down the Luggie. I’d only walked a few yards along the river when I disturbed a deer on the far bank. Now it’s stretching it to call the Luggie a river. It’s really a burn, or if you’re not Scottish, a stream, so the deer wasn’t far away. Perfect shot for the Oly … except:

  1. The white balance was still set for indoor lighting, so consequently everything in the finder was blue. Soon fixed that, but the deer was gone, but magically another, smaller one took its place.

  2. Tried the shot with the white balance set to auto, but when I pressed the shutter nothing happened. More correctly, something happened. The self timer was still set to 12 seconds. You’d be surprised how far a deer can run in 12 seconds. No chance.

Moral of the story is make sure your camera is on the correct settings for the conditions. Preferably before you lose the shot. I was just walking away from my lost deer when I turned and saw a third deer haring (or should that be deering) up the hill. One adult and two young deer and I missed every one of them. That left some weeds in the failing light, so that’s the reason for the esoteric and ethereal PoD.

Salsa tonight was poorly attended as salseros nursed aching legs, aching feet and a multitude of bruises inflicted by over-excited and under-experienced beginners. Ok, some of older ones should have known better and didn’t, but some of the beginners had been hitting the ‘happy water’ quite heavily before they arrived and were seriously out of control (and probably out of their box too). We went over four recent moves tonight, only one of which was entitled ‘hasn’t got a name yet’.

Off to Falkirk tomorrow to speak to the FA.

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Snow and Ice – 25 November 2017

Well, for once I stayed true to my intentions. This morning I went for a cold walk in the ice and snow.

Spotted a deer standing near a pond in St Mo’s, not the big pond, but a smaller one deeper in the trees. Got a few shots of it before it took fright, bringing a bigger deer with it. I’d have liked to have got a bit closer, but that wasn’t going to happen. I was wearing my red Bergy jacket and it doesn’t blend in well with the dark trees. However I did get a few shots and that was good because I hadn’t seen any deer in St Mo’s for ages. However, it was the high key photo of Cow Parsley that won PoD.

Came back and had a shower while Scamp made some tea and toast. Lovely! That is both Scamp and the tea and toast were lovely! Scamp thought we should go in to Glasgow on the bus and I thought that was a good idea too. We took the slow bus, the X3 in and surprisingly, the driver (David, I think) was an FP. Glasgow and especially JL was absolutely jumping. I heard one woman sayin “They’re going absolutely crazy over there.” I don’t know where ‘over there’ was, but folk seemed to have decided that today was the last shopping day before Christmas, grabbing anything they could get their hands on.

We decided the Glasgow visit was a bad idea, but we’d go for lunch anyway and Pulcinella was nominated as today’s restaurant. It was a bit cold in the restaurant, but the food was as good as ever. Scamp had Minestrone and Spaghetti Pulcinella and I had Pasta e Faglioli and Penne Amatriciana, all of which was excellent.

We walked back up to Sauchiehall Street and Scamp investigated clothes shops while I browsed the book shop. After that it was coffee, a cake and home on the X3 again after just missing the much faster X28. All of this was done in a temperature that claimed it was 2ºc. I don’t believe that.

That was about it. When we got home I tried again to get the Photos app to do what I wanted and eventually gave up. Fortunately I chanced on a website that said it was still possible to download iPhoto. I was never all that enamoured of iPhoto, but I was sure it would do what I wanted. I was right. It is a much better photo management tool than the dire Photos will ever be until Apple get their finger out and make it work properly. The upshot is that my 2018 calendar is almost finished. Well, version 1 is almost finished. There will be further versions before we get to print.

Mentioning print, I think that will be tomorrow’s task, the testing and price checking of the short leet of printers to replace the old Canon Pixma whose demise I still mourn.

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The beginning of the end – 10 August 2017

The sun was shining when we woke this morning, but then it said goodbye as the clouds rolled in and took its place.

That more or less summed up the day. Cloudy. Not cold and not wet, just dull.

Scamp went for messages and I painted over yesterday’s twee little landscape thing. Then I did what Fred had been talking about, the technique of the moment called Acrylic Pouring. He’s got a garage to paint in, I’ve got a back bedroom with a carpet on the floor. A light coloured carpet. That restricted the Jackson Pollock in me and I took a bit more care than he would have in my search for an abstract. As is usually the case, after a bit of mixing and splashing, the basis of a landscape appeared. I let fly with another burst of acrylic paint and the landscape disappeared under some cloud, then magically reappeared. At this point, Scamp returned laden with shopping and I had to stop to help her and allow my ‘creation’ dry. Then it was lunch time.

After lunch I poked, prodded and generally abused the canvas a bit more, then went out to take some photos. I love the work the volunteers have done in St Mo’s, creating a wildflower garden. The council threw some seed down a few years ago and with much publicity claimed it had created a wildflower garden. Weeds and grass do not a wildflower garden make NLC. Thankfully the volunteers took over and finished the job. Anyway, the autumn colours of the flowers today shone in the sun that was playing hide and seek among the breaking clouds and that is my PoD.

Came home after a short walk, because there were weans everywhere, also trying to make the most of the sun on their last full week of the summer holidays. Only they were noisier and not as well behaved as me.  As I was walking home from St Mo’s, and less than 50m from home, there were two deer.  A buck and a hind, grazing as if they were out on a hillside in Glencoe.  I managed a few shots, then thought better of going closer in case I spooked them and they ran off across the busy road.  Photo on Flickr.

After dinner, which was a lovely chicken breast on a green vegetable spread (with potatoes, of course) we were just watching the girls running races on the TV (some big ‘running races’ thing in London) when I absentmindedly pinged the cap off my tooth. It had only lasted about a month! I think it may be a waste of the dentist’s and my time replacing it this time.

Whisper it. It’s going to rain tomorrow. Oh no, the beginning of the end!

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The search continues – 28 June 2017

Today we drove to Stirling because at Springkerse in the town (I know, Mrs McQueen made it a city in 2000, but it’s still a town to me) at Springkerse there are a host of car retailers.

First stop was Arnold Clark for a look at a Renault. The Megane we looked at was too big, definitely too big, so was the price. It came off the list right away. Next up was the Clio from the same garage. It was much more like what we had in our heads, and after some jiggery pokery with the figures, so was the price. Had a seat in one and quite liked it. Were offered a test drive, but declined. Once our shortlist is complete we’ll use test drives to whittle it down.
Next up was Peugeot. Maybe we got off to a bad start by not having an actual model in mind, maybe he took a look at the scruffy jeans and dirty old rugby shirt and decided we couldn’t afford anything but a second hand car, but although he was pleasant enough, he wasn’t as enthusiastic as he could have been. We sat in a 208, but it was a second-hand bottom of the range model and it wasn’t what I was looking for. Off the list.
Last for the day was Nissan. Scamp didn’t like the Juke – I didn’t really think she would. It’s too big she said. We looked at the new Micra. The dealer said it was actually bigger than the Juke. He lied, it’s not. It is marginally smaller. I didn’t like it, Scamp did. He did offer us an interesting test drive option, whereby we could take the car for up to 24 hours and give it a long test. Nissan would even pay for the insurance! Again, after number crunching he came up with a much better price than the lady in Glasgow had offered. I think the Juke and the Micra both stay on the list, but I also think that Macklin Motors in Glasgow are now off the list.
That was the end of testing for today.

Had coffee in Stirling and then I needed to get a sketch done, and that is what you see here. I’ve been reading an excellent sketching book by Liz Steel entitled Five Minute Sketching – Architecture. I can’t say with any honesty that I can achieve the five minutes yet, but I’m putting a lot of her ideas into practise. I’m a lot better pleased with it than I was with yesterday’s effort.

When I got home, Scamp was on cooking duty so I had almost an hour in St Mo’s and came upon the little deer almost right away. As usual, I had the wrong lens on the Nikon, but managed to change and grab a few shots before Bambi took off.

Salsa tonight was a bit of a mix up with Jamie G taking over one of Colin’s classes and trying to teach a move that was new to both his class and Colin’s. Of course, us as old hands knew it (Romeo and Juliet) It was a bit of a shambles to start with, but then it began to flow a lot better. Let’s hope they all, or at least most of them, come back next week.

Beautiful sunset tonight after a lovely day with loads of sunshine.  I didn’t photograph the sunset.  Yes, it was lovely, but everyone forgets that if you don’t have a decent foreground and an interesting midground, a beautiful sunset is just some oversaturated colours flung together.  So speaks Oscar the Grouch!

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It’s supposed to rain.

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Early Start – 7 June 2017

Woke around 5.30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Finally decided there was nothing else for it but to get up and go out for a walk.

Put on wellies to protect me from marauding beasties especially ticks and took a walk around St Mo’s. Light was good, but there wasn’t much wildlife about. I did catch a glimpse of a deer. but it was too far away and I was making far too much noise to get anywhere near it.  What I did get were a selection of contre-jour shots (against the light) of flowers and greenery coated in raindrops.  The rain had been very heavy during the night although it was bright, sunny and windy today.

Came home and had breakfast, then we headed off to Wishaw General to get Scamp’s arm looked at.  Thankfully, there were no more moles to be found, so all was well.  We both had other commitments today, so we just drove home.  I chose to take the M8, just to make sure I could find the correct turn-off for Stirling.  We found it, but it sort of sneaks up on you with a very short slip road.

After lunch I had a coffee date with Val and Fred.  Apparently it’s too late for us to launch the Auld Guys Party for the General Election tomorrow, but if we had, I’m sure we’d win.  Our party pledges include free beer for the over 65s, paid for by the under 65s.  My revolutionary new voting system where the winner wins and the losers have to work for a living was unanimously carried.  Anyone found or admitting to lying in their promises (present company excepted) would be summarily executed.  Oh yes, and free coffee for all.  What’s not to like there?

Went to beginners Salsa tonight to support Irene who was taking Jamie G’s class.  Overall she did a good job, once she got her timing sorted and started shouting out the moves.  She’ll do well once she gets a bit more experience in this teaching game.

Today’s PoD is Buttercups, the gardener’s delight and today’s sketch is another ink / watercolour sketch of fruit.  Pear and Orange this time.

Tomorrow the rain is coming, although our wee old weather station is predicting sun.  I think that’s unlikely, but we’ll wait and see.

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Driving Miss Daisy – 20 May 2017

Well, it should have been Scamp we were driving, but Driving Miss Scamp didn’t have the same ring. Then to be perjink about it, we’d have to say Driving Mrs Scamp and by that time the title doesn’t scan and we lose the whole joy of it. Soooo, Driving Miss Daisy it is. By the way, isn’t perjink a lovely word? It means neat or fastidious.

We drove to Stirling today to get a new jacket for Scamp. She had a 20% discount voucher burning a hole in her pocket, or her purse to be more perjink. Enough? Yes, enough.
We were driving just ahead of the bad weather, you could see it in the rear view mirror. As we walked in to Stirling town centre, the rain came on, but we managed to shelter in M&S. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Scamp’s jacket in the right size. I suggested we should go to Glasgow because there are two big M&S shops there.

As we were driving down the M80 the rain got heavier and heavier and then CITRAC lit up with a warning of congestion just a mile or so before the M8/M80 junction and from experience, this means that the motorway will choke up and driving in that is no fun at all. I’m guessing that those 22 men from Wednesday were having another kick about. Time for a change of plans. Glasgow Fort has a big M&S store and we had time to change lanes to get there and avoid the congestion on the M80. That is what we did and also as a bonus, we drove out of the torrential rain.

At the Fort, Scamp got her jacket in the colour and size she wanted. Sorted. Lunch was in Wagamama across the road. While we were there, the next rain shower descended on us and it was nice to be sitting looking out at folk getting wet. After lunch we went our separate ways for a while. Me to Waterstones and Scamp window shopping. We met up at Hobbycraft as we had planned. I’ve an idea to make a fold up stand for my Linx 10 tablet. It makes it so much easier to type into with the Bluetooth keyboard, so I got a piece of 3mm plywood to make it. Fairly strong and light, plywood should be ideal. Today’s PoD came from The Fort and is one of a group of bronze deer statues around the site.

Back home, I managed to convince Adobe to allow me to download Lightroom 6 for half price because I had a serial number for my original LR 1. It’s not an amazing upgrade from V5, but at least I can get the Teazer’s RAW files processed more easily. Yes, the Teazer is a keeper. It produced today’s PoD.

Tomorrow? Maybe going for plants for the raised bed to keep the peas company and also the beetroot which just appeared today. Maybe dancing too in Paisley. We’ll see.

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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.

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The three did feed the deer – 29 April 2017

We were supposed to be going to a market this morning, but the plans were changed and we went to Kingston instead.  Not a big problem for us as we both like that place by the Thames.

While ND and Hazy went off to look for shoes, Scamp and I wandered round the labyrinth (this weekend’s word) of shops and alleys, agreeing to meet the other two back at the car in a couple of hours time.  It was getting near that time when we exited one alleyway to find ND and Hazy at the end.  Serendipity.  Lunch was eaten in the open air at the market in the centre of the town.  Scamp had Chicken Biryani and I had Achari Chicken.  I also found an Italian food stall selling cannoli (not e to self – find a recipe) and bought some.  Unfortunately, Hazy has a severe egg allergy and can’t eat cannoli which have a lot of eggs in them.  We can.  We did.  Headed back home and let Hazy rest while we went to Richmond Park.  We went to see the deer, but not feed them, despite the title of today’s blog.  However when we got the parking place, we wandered round the Isabella Plantation, one of the fenced off gardens, instead.  It was a good choice for Scamp because the azaleas were in full bloom and a good choice for ND and I because of the variety of photo opportunities.  When we had ooh’d and ah’d our fill in the Isabella, we took a walk round the woods and chanced on a couple of herds of deer.  Unlike the St Mo’s deer, these creatures were quite happy to sit or stand around having their photos taken.  Our exertions deserved an ice cream cone each and then we went home taking the long route round the extensive park.

Dinner tonight was ND’s Spanish Rice with Chicken and Prawns – got that recipe.   Then we watched Fantastic Beasts, the Harry Potter spinoff.  I must admit, I was lost halfway through, but did enjoy the CGI.  After a while I began to believe what I was watching was real.

Tomorrow we are having a lazy day and going to Canute and Delia’s for lunch.

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Away again – 13 April 2017

Got up early, just after 6.30 to go for a walk because it was too warm!  Too warm in Scotland in April?  Walked around St Mo’s and although I saw some deer, they were too far away, so it was flooers and blossom that provided the PoD.

Scamp out for coffee with Isobel in the morning, giving me time to frame up my mixed media painting.  Not sure now if it’s the right colour of mount, maybe it’s a bit too dark.  I also managed to get my packing done for the visit down south.
After Scamp returned, I went for coffee with Val.  Fred was indisposed with flu, so sent his apologies.  Val was on good form and we discussed computers and technology in general over a couple of cups of java.

Bought a pot of Marguerites for Scamp in B&Q and they fitted perfectly into the pot vacated by the Black Eyed Susans.

Then it was time to get organized properly and get the bus into Glasgow.  Then the airport bus to be told that the plane was delayed by 20min.  What do you expect from EasyJet?

Pleasant flight and was met by JIC at Stanstead.

Long day, many miles travelled by car, bus, bus, plane and finally car.

Vixen didn’t seem too impressed with me, although Scamp was readily accepted.  Maybe she’ll be better tomorrow.

Going for a walk through the gardens of a stately home tomorrow, hopefully.