The Red Juke is gone – 3 September 2020

The Blue Micra is here.

After being fleeced of another bag of money by Nissan Insurance, the papers were emailed to me and we drove to Stirling with hope in our hearts. Said goodbye to Big Red Juke and signed a fist full of documents. Some of them were ‘real’ documents signed with a real pen. Some were ‘tronic documents signed by typing my name into a box on an iPad screen. Actually the whole procedure which took the best part of an hour was fairly painless. We were led out to admire the Blue Micra. I drove it home and then Scamp took it for a spin around Westfield. It’s amazing how technology has moved on in the three years since we got the Juke and utterly astounding the advances since Scamp bought her first car, a Nissan Micra, ten years ago.

We sat and admired it for a while then had lunch. Despite the high winds and the driving rain we just had to go somewhere, anywhere just to get the smell of a new car in our nostrils. We drove to Robroyston at Scamp’s suggestion to get some polishing cloths to clean the screen of the Micra that had been ‘sanitized’. Then we were intending to have a coffee in Costa, but the thought of queueing outside in the rain didn’t endear itself to us, so we just drove home. Still, we’d been out. In a new car.

I took a camera for a walk in St Mo’s just to see if there was anything worth photographing, but there wasn’t, so I came home and took a photo of the new car, well the roof of the car with a wee fly on it. I liked the way the light shining through the trees made patterns on the roof and the wee fly was well placed to be in the sweet spot.

It has been a stressful day and I’m glad it’s over. Tomorrow we can enjoy the car properly and go somewhere a bit more scenic than a queued out Costa at Robroyston. Perhaps, just perhaps, DML all being well. Well, it is a tradition.

Saying goodbye over the internet – 28 August 2020

Strange days.

The day started with a webinar with the man from Falkirk. For once he didn’t have a lot to say for himself and the topics discussed by the man from Puma were way above my head. All about inheritance tax and the avoidance thereof. I don’t think that will bother us.

After lunch we said goodbye to an good friend, not a very old friend, we’d only known her for a few years, but she meant a lot to both of us and opened our eyes to a whole new world, literally. Who would have thought when we met her and Jaime that we’d be watching a live feed of her funeral in a nearly empty church in Trinidad from our own home, 4000 miles distant. Strange days.

After the service we went out for a walk round St Mo’s. Twice round the pond in the sunshine. Took some photos of the lazy dragonflies checking each other out. PoD was two competing males.

Tomorrow is an early rise for a drive to St Andrews to see Annette’s caravan.

Up early for a change – 9 August 2020

I woke early, before 7am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I hate it when that happens.

Eventually gave up sat reading for a while. About half way through “Flowers For Algernon”. Really old book I remember from Larky library around the mid ‘60s. It’s quite dated now, but an interesting concept, none the less. Finally gave up completely and got up to make breakfast.

So, we were up fairly early for a change. It was a beautiful day. Not quite as hot as yesterday which was good. We did a bit of gardening. Actually, Scamp did a bit of gardening and I started fixing up the solar cell for Scamp’s new LED light string. Finally, after a few false starts, we go a good place for the solar panel. Just a little one about 75mm by 50mm, but enough to power the lights. Many years ago, probably about 30 years ago, we all visited an Eco centre in Wales and I bought some shards of solar cells, hoping to build a small solar pane. It never got made. The cells were too fragile and most got cracked on the way home. Amazing to think you can buy a solar panel which charges a NiMH battery which in turn powers a line of fifty LEDs all for around £4. Back then, you could only have Red, Yellow and Green LEDs. Bit massive things by today’s standard which drained a battery in about fifteen minutes. Not everything was better in “the olden days”.

With the lights strung up and tested and all Scamp’s potting up done, we adjourned for lunch. After lunch and a rest to let all that fatty goodness be digested, we went out for a walk round Broadwood Stadium avoiding kids on bikes trying to make the most of their last days of freedom before schools restart in the middle of the week. I’m sure there were teacher out there too, making the most of the last days of sunshine before they return to the grind. Oh, how I enjoy looking back at those last days of freedom from the standpoint of one who doesn’t need to do that ever again.

When we got back without having taken any meaningful photos, I grabbed a camera and went for a walk in St Mo’s while Scamp went to laze in the afternoon sunshine. I came home empty handed again. I’d seen yesterday’s big blue dragonflies, but they weren’t posing for me. They had far more important things on their minds, cavorting around the wee pond at St Mo’s.

Dinner was Sea Bream with Long Stem Broccoli and Potatoes. It is one of Scamp’s specialities and it tasted as good as usual. The starter was Bruschetta made with Italian crust bread I’d bought in Perth yesterday. Delicious too.

Watched the second British GP and enjoyed an interesting ending. Thankful really that we didn’t have to sit through the whole boring race. Nothing happened that couldn’t have been predicted by anyone who follows motorsport, with the possible exception of the fall of Vettel. It looks like he really has lost the plot. “Toys out of the pram” is the phrase that springs to mind.

Spoke to JIC and gave him a fleshed out version of yesterday’s announcement that our love affair with the Red Juke is sadly coming to an end and another Nissan has now taken its place, albeit a Nissan with one less cylinder in its engine.

PoD today went to a focus stacked image of one of Scamp’s favourite roses, the beautiful Troika. Focus stacking done in-camera and very neat it was too.

Tomorrow we may have to sign a contract to give some money to Mr Nissan for the chance to use one of his Blue Micras for a few years. Other than that and the chance of thunderstorms, hopefully another sunny day.

F1 Frolics – 2 August 2020

First and perhaps only Live F1 broadcast this year.

Weather before that was mixed. A bit windy, a bit cloudy and the occasional splash of rain on the window just to remind us that it’s never far away in Scotland. Scamp was reduced to watching the build up to the GP because Andrew Marr was on holiday, so no political cut and thrust today. I’m sure some politicians would be breathing a sigh of relief. If you haven’t watched the GP then I won’t spoil things for you. All I’ll say is watch the first five minutes and the last five minutes, but just fast-forward past the other hour and a bit, unless you want to set the alarm and have a wee snooze.

With that done, and with nothing else to do, I took an old camera, the almost pensioned-off Oly E-M10 out for a spin round St Mo’s. It’s only when you return to an old classic like this that you realise why you sidelined it in the first place. The E-M1 has a much quieter IBIS system (image stabiliser) and a more reliable focusing power. The GX 80 has a much quieter shutter. I think the E-M10 can go back in the box for now. It’s smaller than the other two, but smaller isn’t always better. I have plans for it, so it won’t be going anywhere anytime soon. It managed to take today’s PoD with a little help from me. They are the seed pods of the Meadow Cranesbill (Geranium pratense ).

Dinner came courtesy of Holy Cow curry mixes. The only place we’ve found them is Waitrose, but they are worth searching out, and, of course, Amazon has them. Today’s variety was Delhi Tikka Masala and it was just as good as the rest, just a little milder. A decent curry made in around 10 minutes without the faff of cooking from scratch. You can probably tell that I was cooking tonight – always looking for the easy life.

Spoke to JIC and pondered the modern way of going through an interview. First a telephone interview followed by a Zoom interview and maybe a third virtual interview. Then if you are lucky enough, being offered a position in a company you have never seen outside of a computer screen. Changed days from when, one morning, I dressed in a suit then put on waterproof trousers, waterproof jacket and motorcycle boots and set off from Larky to ride about 100miles to an interview in Creetown on a motorbike with a bag of my architectural drawings on my back. Rode back the same night. I got the job though and our family started on a big adventure in the south of Scotland. Changed days indeed.

Tomorrow I simply must hoover out the car because we’re we’ve got a meeting in Stirling on Tuesday to speak to a man about cars and money.

Another energetic day – 21 July 2020

Out early and away for a walk

Should we go out for a walk in the morning or the afternoon? You will notice that in Scamp’s question there is no third way where we don’t go for a walk, simply a choice between the morning or afternoon. I chose Morning. Not to get it over with quickly, no of course not. But the sun was shining now and it seemed a shame to leave it until the afternoon because for the past few days, the weather has deteriorated as the day progressed (and to get it over with!)

We drove down to Auchinstarry and parked in front of what used to be the He Bo House, but has now been reduced to the the B Ho. It’s not open at present and I wonder if it will ever reopen. It would be a shame if it didn’t, because we both liked it in the second stage of its existence. The first owners were not the most welcoming of people, but the ones who took it over and revamped it had made a good job of creating a warm and comfortable atmosphere. It would be a great shame to lose it now through no fault of theirs. They must fix the sign though. B Ho doesn’t work. He Bo House is much better. I’ll suggest it to them when they open their doors again.

We walked along the canal to Twechar, avoiding fishermen, cyclists (especially the one who was sitting on the only seat along the canal, talking to his watch) and joggers. Foolishly I’d taken my rain jacket expecting showers that never came and wore it round my waist like a nylon kilt for most of the walk. We turned at Twechar and started back along the old railway path. The last time we were there, the council we presume had dumped piles of topsoil near places where the path had eroded into the River Kelvin, leaving about a 1.5m drop into the water for the unwary. Today the piles had been used to fill in the eroded parts with wooden piles driven into the banking to help hold it in place. Finally, coarse grass had been planted, not seeded, but planted. Presumably the roots will also help keep the new soil in place. Let’s hope it works.

Back home for lunch then Scamp was off to get ‘the messages’ or enough of them to make tonight’s dinner which was to be a stir-fry. I got myself ready to go for a walk, hoping to get some photos. When she returned, I walked down to the Mosswater nature reserve hoping to get some photos of dragonflies. No dragonflies or damselflies to be seen, but loads of ladybirds and one of them kindly presented itself for a photo opportunity. Difficult to get a sharp shot with an annoying breeze making everything move at the wrong time.

Walked back home and really, really enjoyed Scamp’s stir-fry with Tiramisu for pudding. Not a bad day with over 18,000 steps for me and over 12,000 steps for Scamp.

Tomorrow looks wet, very wet. An 80% chance of rain all day, that kind of wet. We may stay in.

Another day, another walk – 26 May 2020

Today I thought it was Sunday all day long. No reason why, except for Cabin Fever.

Phoned the bike shop in the morning (once I’d established that it was Tuesday and not Sunday) and got a promise the bike wheel would be finished by the end of the week. I sincerely hope that Big Al was not suffering from the same day-dislodgement that had overcome me.

After lunch we went for a walk more or less the same one as yesterday but in a slightly different direction. By the time we got home the sun was warming the place up nicely and we took the chairs out to the garden Scamp with a Pimms and me with a beer. Read for a while then got a surprise.

The girl next door, Lucy gave us a couple of facemasks she had made for us. We both thought that was very kind of her. They were much simpler than my pattern and much more effective I’d think. Curved to fit the face. She said she’d been making them for her gran and grandpa and thought we might appreciate one each too. Like I said we thought that was good of her, but then I thought, does that make us the old people next door? Scamp said “Yes, probably”. Doesn’t matter I liked the thought and because she’s just finished a fashion design course in London, the stitching was so much better than mine!

Dinner was Sea Bass with Potatoes, Broccoli and Cauliflower. Delicious! Scamp was chef tonight.

PoD went to a photo I took earlier in the day of a winged aphid on a rosebud. Scamp appreciated the detail in the picture, but wants rid of the beasties before they damage her roses.

Today’s topic was ‘A Pasta Dish’. I think by this time the setters were becoming tired with the whole EDiM thing and just throwing words and phrases at the list. This is my response to the prompt. There is a dish and there are two pieces of pasta, but really it’s a vehicle to practise drawing cutlery.

Tomorrow we are booked for an ASDA delivery in the afternoon, so any walks will have to be in the morning.

And what of the day then? – 11 May 2020

It was to be a busy day. Not hardly a minute to spare.

Can’t say much about it though. It’s all under wraps until 13th May when all will become clear.

Spent part of the morning planning out what today’s sketch would be. The prompt was “Illustrate a Recipe”. I did really try out different ideas, but none of them worked and as the day wore on, the chance of it making it to paper were getting slimmer and slimmer. So slim in fact that it became lost and I’m leaving it until tomorrow to finish (i.e. Start).

Tesco delivery arrived early and it looked as if we were back to our old ways of buying the entire shop. I pitied the poor bloke having to transport all those boxes from van to door on his porters trolley.

I left Scamp to deal with the storing of the mountain of stuff. If I’d tried to put things away, she’d only have gone back later and rearranged everything, so instead I walked over to Condorrat and posted a parcel to West Ewell. Sorry Hazy, it’s not for you, but be warned a small package will be dropping through your letterbox soon, maybe even tomorrow. IT HASN’T GOT YOUR NAME ON IT!!

Walked around St Mo’s a couple of times and took today’s PoD which, probably nobody will like and I agree it’s a bit dull, but I like it. I’m not certain the sepia treatment worked, but I’m trying to get out of the straight macro mode and become a bit more creative. It was a cold day. Allegedly it was just into double figures of degrees C, but when you were in that wind it didn’t feel like that at all. That’s wind chill, though. In the sun and sheltered the wind it was pleasantly warm … if you were wearing a thick hoodie over a thick shirt and a tee shirt it was pleasantly warm.

Not a lot more to say about today. Spent most of the evening trying to remove DRM from one of Scamp’s books without success. I’ll try again tomorrow, maybe once I’ve caught up with the sketching.

And that’s the plan for tomorrow. To catch up, then to fix the DRM.

Sub zero – 10 May 2020

Temperatures predicted to be below zero tonight and it didn’t feel that much warmer today.

We both did a walk around the garden trying to work out what had gone wrong with the acer which is looking very sorry for itself. Scamp thinks its roots have been too wet and that could be part of the problem, but I think it’s been sitting in the sun too long too. It seems to like the shade. Perhaps it’s a combination of the two. It’s now back in the place it’s been for the last year and has had a change of compost, with more drainage so we’ll keep a watching brief on it for the next wee while. Otherwise, things are progressing well. The cold east wind today was making some of the alliums bob about a bit and we may need to give them a bit more support soon. It was one of allium heads that got PoD.

Under Scamp’s careful tutelage I made a steak pie in the afternoon. It turned out a lot better than I thought it would. Different butcher, slightly different method, but the result was the same, just as good as last time. Even better, there’s enough left over for tomorrow’s dinner.

We needed some potatoes for tonight’s dinner, so I volunteered to go out into the cold and get some. Of course I came back with a lot more than potatoes. That’s the trouble with having to queue for your shopping, you want to make sure you get everything you went for and tend to buy things you didn’t have on your list.

Spoke to JIC tonight and heard how his garden is progressing. It sounds great and I’m sure he’s not exaggerating. His garden is huge compared to ours and I know he spends a lot of time keeping it up to scratch. I don’t think I could expend that amount of energy on a garden, but I’m sure Scamp could.

Sketch for today was a pet or an animal. Damselflies are animals according to some learned people. I took them at their word and painted a blue damselfly. I’m not sure if they, or my artwork is to everyone’s taste, but that’s not the point. It’s the act of painting that it’s all about. Doing something.

I’ve closed down the wee greenhouse tonight, just incase the weather fairies have it right with their -1º in the middle of the night. I’ve got some things to do tomorrow, including cleaning up this computer. It’s running very slowly and needs a good clean out. I think the time for a new OS is getting closer too! Oh yes, and we’re hopefully getting a Tesco order delivered tomorrow as well. A busy day beckons.

Hot Stuff – 4 May 2020

Up at 4.30am for a cooling glass of OJ.

It did the trick, but it took me ages to get back to sleep again. It was, in the words of the song “Too … Damn … Hot!” I finally broke surface just before 8.30, but still felt tired. We both agreed that we need to change the duvet cover to our cheapo IKEA low tog one. That was one job added to the to-do list.

Scamp was delighted to hear that while we were struggling with heat, the grass was getting a good soaking from the rain. That meant we didn’t have to water the combined weedkiller, mosskiller, lawn feed into the roots of the front grass again. We didn’t bother to spread any on the back grass, because if all the weeds and moss was killed off, there wouldn’t be much else there, except about a dozen blades of grass.

Last night I’d been on the point of removing myself from Every Day in May on Facebook.  Today I did it. EDiM is a private group for sketchers to share and discuss our interpretation of a daily prompt. It’s a great idea and one I’ve taken to in the past couple of years. Unfortunately, a change in Admins has meant a change in the rules. I’m in agreement with some, but felt the need to complain about some that have been slipped in quietly in the dead of night. Now a member can’t post a drawing/sketch in their own page and then link it to EDiM. The Admin gave a somewhat contorted reasoning for this new rule. I disagreed. Today I received a reply to my criticism which basically explained how to post the pic twice, once to my page and then once to EDiM page. Now I know the difference between condensation and condescension and I hate being talked down to. That is why my response was “Wrong Answer.” Left the message a couple of hours to be read by anyone passing by and then left the group. I know the words “Toys” and “Pram” may be in your mind, but I don’t like to be told how to do something the awkward way when there are already routes in the software to do it much more neatly. Too many leaders in that group now, I believe. Too many rules.

We went for a walk, our daily exercise to St Mo’s. When we were walking there, we both spotted a bunch of daisies sprouting from a crack in the mortar of a wall. They became the PoD. Scallywag Daisies.

Scamp was baking today while I was working in the painting room. She made a Banana Cake which we haven’t tasted yet and also a Fruit Loaf which was very nice, especially spread with butter and with a cup of tea to wash it down. Tomorrow, hopefully we will get to taste the Banana Cake.

That was about it for the day. The rain cleared up halfway through the morning and the sun shone which was probably what enticed us out to St Mo’s. Weather seems set to improve in the next few days, but tales from the weather fairies of “Wintry Showers!!!” at the weekend. I don’t like the sound of that!

May need to go out for milk tomorrow, but just down to the local shops.

Oh, yes, and May The Fourth Be With You.

Another beautiful day in the sun – 11 April 2020

Woke to grey skies and the threat of rain, but then the sun came out.

Lunch today was a reheat of yesterday’s Saag Aloo toned down a bit with some extra cream and a little water to reduce the effect of the salt and also to cool the chilli! Like most curries, it improved with age.

We needed milk today and it was my turn to go for the messages. I thought I could link it in with a walk in the park, but then decided it would be better for my step count if I did two separate walks. First one was to M&S for the essentials: Milk, cheese and tomatoes. Dumped the messages in the kitchen and took my camera for a walk in St Mo’s.

Beautiful day, bright sunshine and warm if you were out of the wind, which I made sure I was for most of the walk. Definitely saw few hoverflies and another couple of peacock butterflies. Didn’t get many photos, the spotted a couple walking along the boardwalk and grabbed the shot. I liked the way it was framed. Back home, Scamp was going out to sit in the back garden, so I joined her with a glass each of red wine. It was comfortably warm with just a little cooling breeze blowing in from the west, but the temperature was certainly high teens. It’s going to be much cooler (colder!) tomorrow with the wind swinging to the north. We stayed in the garden discussing possible rearrangements of plants and planting. Took a few shots of one of Scamp’s Christmas Rose plants. I used the Nikon with the 105mm macro lens and it did a really good job of the close up. That became PoD. Did a bit of gentle pruning and retired to the house when the sun went down. Take the chance of a seat in the sun while you can.

Scamp had found a YouTube channel with a full length stage version of JC Superstar filmed in Manchester arena. That was tonight’s entertainment. Very good interpretation of one of our favourite films. We’d actually intended watching the DVD of the film tomorrow night. Maybe we still will, or we may leave it until Monday.

It looks like the weather’s changing overnight, so we may not be sunning ourselves tomorrow!