P1010538- blog

New Eyes – 23 June 2017

Phoned the opticians at midday today to check if my new glasses were ready, and they were. New eyes for me.

Earlier I’d spoken to Hazy on the phone and then Scamp had squeezed every last bit of information from her about her new nephew. Good to hear that they too are experiencing more comfortable temperatures.

Drove to Larkhall and got my new glasses which I am now wearing to write this blog. Don’t they look good? When I had picked up and paid for them, I drove down to Millheugh and used that as a basis for today’s SoD. I was careful in my description there, because it seems that someone has decided to build a salmon ladder up the far side of the waterfall (locally called ‘The Boards’). It looks as if it’s still in the construction stage yet. It may be some time before it’s completed. The SoD does not include the salmon ladder, because it’s basically a building site with loads of scaffolding and massive concrete precast panels at present. Ugly is not the word for it.

Drove home the long way and stopped off at a wee garden centre to see if they had any of the massive pots we need to pot up Scamp’s pieris. They did, and at a bargain price too! Got two for the price some garden centres were asking for one. Also found hanging baskets planted with strawberries (that’s what you see above). Had to have one of them, if only to repay Scamp for slaving over a hot stove re-boiling yesterday’s strawberry jam to make it thicker. She’s a perfectionist.

That was about it for the day. I had ordered a book on urban sketching from Amazon yesterday and it arrived at lunchtime today. It looks like one of he best, most concise books on sketching architecture I’ve read. Now I need to put it into practise.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow so that I can start that practise.

It’s been very windy today, but not a lot of rain. Tomorrow we keep the wind and apparently we get rain too. Oh well, the garden needs it.

P1010538- blog

Through Old Eyes – 22 June 2017

Up fairly early again, this time to go for our annual eye check in Larkhall. It about 20 miles away, but we’ve been going there for years ever since the present optician’s father had the business. When you trust someone with your sight, you stick with them.

While Scamp was undergoing the annual torture of the Visual Field Test among others, I went for a walk around Larky. Down the main street and then into Raploch street then turned into Crossgates. It was then I realised I was looking with old eyes, seeing things as they were years ago. Eyes that expected to find two old houses sitting like conjoined twins. Mirror images of each other. Built from red engineering brick with wooden barge boards painted turquoise. Always turquoise. They weren’t there of course. They’d probably been torn down years ago to make room for some 21st century chicken boxes. Such a shame. I walked back to the main street, disillusioned. Sat down on a seat. Street furniture in Larky? How upmarket. Sat down and sketched Union Street School. My first school. First a primary school, then a few years later it became the Technical and Home Economics annex. It’s still a lovely building although the windows and, I presume, the doors have all been boarded up. It still stands there waiting for the bulldozers. Too expensive to maintain. Too old to turn into flats. Such a shame.

After my torture in the opticians, we drove down Clydeside. Still in the nostalgic frame of mind, we drove out and round Netherburn. It didn’t take long. Probably only about five minutes. Looking with those old eyes again we saw it as it had been thirty years ago.

Took the road down on to Clydeside proper and went looking for a coffee and a bite to eat. Found both at Silver Birch Garden Centre in Crossford. Like quite a few Scottish place names, you have to be careful where you put the emphasis. There is a Crossford in Fife where the emphasis is on the first syllable. The one on Clydeside has the emphasis on ’ford’. Quite confusing. Scamp got another plant for the garden. A vivid green Heuchera, not the flower at the top of the page.

On the way home we stopped to get some strawberries. I thought they were for eating, but Scamp had different ideas. That’s why the house smells of strawberry jam tonight. There is nothing in the world like fresh strawberry jam on fresh bread. Not fancy bread like mine, but good honest sliced bread. That’s what I’m going for tomorrow morning.

P1010538- blog

Perf – 16 June 2017

Drove to Perth today, mainly for coffee and tea for me, but also for a wee run.

Weather was fairly nice with warm temperatures and occasional sun. We were there fairly early, so we went for a walk down beside the river and on to the pedestrian path on the long, long railway bridge over the Tay and Moncreiff Island to the park and gardens on the far side. Beautifully laid out garden with lots of interesting plants and flowers. Also lots of not so interesting sculptures. Couldn’t make had nor tail of most of them, even with a description. Found a ford that takes you over to Moncreiff Island, but the water was too high today to attempt it, but a photo of it provided my PoD. The island itself seems to be basically a golf course with some allotments in the middle. According the the gazetteer it has a population of 3.

Saw some baby coots and moorhens in a lily pond, but it was mainly the plants that interested Scamp. Surprised to see some amaryllis flowering in the open air. Massive great thick stems on the plants. Crossed back over and went to a cafe for lunch. Somebody remind me not to have the cheese burger the next time we go. The burger was fine, but the cheese was determined to have a conversation with me all the way home.

Bought some dried fruit to try for breakfast. I’ve just finished boiling it to soften it and to make a syrup for it. A bit of a faff, but hopefully it’ll taste good tomorrow. Scamp fancied a pizza, so I made one while the fruit was steeping and it turned out very well.

Today’s sketch is a hotchpotch of different practise pieces. Some badly drawn figures and some better ones that were drawn blind. Not ‘eyes closed’ blind, drawn without looking at the paper, just staring really hard at your subject. The faces were from a book. I did try a sketch of Scamp working at the computer, but decided not to post it as it wasn’t very complementary. In fact it didn’t look like her at all.

Oh yes, almost forgot to mention Hazy.  The boxers had their first outing today and appear to have survived to tell the tale.  Ta!

Glasgow tomorrow.

P1010538- blog

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.

P1010538- blog

A Busy Day – 5 June 2017

Up and out fairly early to get my fasting blood taken and then a quick trip to Tesco to get some essentials for my breakfast.

With a plate of porridge and a piece ’n’ jam under my belt the world was a better place.

Next thing to do was to go and get Netta for Gems tea party.  A pleasant enough drive to Denny and back.

I now had an hour and a half to myself now and decided to fritter it away by going to the gym and stretching my leg muscles a bit.  I had hoped that I’d have time for a quick dip in the pool, but time was too tight for that.

Back just before 3pm and time to get a shower before returning Netta home.  Back home I started on today’s photo which you see above.  I’d tried it last week, but wasn’t happy with the result.  Today I had it better planned.  The wee man or to be more exact, Weeman was sitting on a stone in the birdbath.  His ‘fishing float’ was actually a dressmaking pin with the point cut off.  It was pushed into a piece of Bluetack which was sitting on the concrete floor of the birdbath with just the tip of the pin breaking the surface.  Fishing line was black button thread.  It worked and there was minimal ‘fiddling’ required in Potatoshop.  Then it was time for dinner.

Before starting to make dinner.  Just a quick check on Facebook to make sure that there had been no last minute changes to Salsa class, and there it was.  Jamie G was in Cheltenham, not in Glasgow and he would be there all week!  Bummer.  I was so looking forward to a bit of “exercise and getting things wrong again to music” tonight.  (Also known as advanced Salsa.)  Scamp started emailing contacts to find out who would be taking the class and the two of us began discussing what, if any, the options were.  We decide that if Will was taking the class, then we’d go.  If it was Colin then we wouldn’t.  If it was Cameron, then that was a definite NO.
Will is a good teacher with a lot of good innovative moves.
Colin used to be good, but is now trying to incorporate cha-cha into everything he teaches.  Such a waste.
Cameron has been dancing for about three years and thinks he knows it all.  He doesn’t, unfortunately he doesn’t know that.
Word came through that it was Cameron.  Why do we have to find these things out on Facebook and through word-of-mouth from other class members?  Surely someone in the Academia de Salsa organisation knew that one of the teachers wasn’t going to be there and could have posted a message to that effect on the AdS website.  Why is it all such a big secret?  My guess is that if the class members are told in advance, they won’t turn up for class because they have suffered at the hands of the incompetent teachers before.  If they don’t come to class, then they won’t be paying and that will hurt AdS.  Just my take on the situation, but really, things need to change.  You can’t keep treating people like rhubarb (keep them in the dark – feed them shite.)

With that news, we decided that we’d go for a walk instead to lift our spirits and get some exercise, even if it wasn’t to music.  We walked round Broadwood Loch and I got some shots of ducks and a lovely shot of a Great Crested Grebe with the Teazer.

Today’s sketch is basically a placemarker in that it was done to fulfill the requirements of the remit.  Better tomorrow.
Rain predicted for all day tomorrow.

P1010538- blog

Thunderbolts and Lightning – 27 May 2017

Very, very frightening.  For a while today at least.

Feeling a bit delicate this morning after spending an hour or so last night with sickness and diarrhoea.  I blamed it on the smoked mackerel I had for dinner.  I thought because the fish was cured, I would be too, but obviously that wasn’t the case.  Did a bit of planting in the garden and that took my mind off it.  Now the raised bed now has Peas, Beetroot, Kale, Lettuce and Spinach growing in it.  I also planted out the mint we got yesterday and tried taking root cuttings from a mint plant we had last year.  Scamp planted some Parsley and cut the front grass.  The reason for the sudden rush to get things done was that the weather forecasters were predicting heavy and continuous rain today.

As I said yesterday, we needed shopping and so we drove to Waitrose in Stirling and got most of the stuff there.  As we were coming out, the rain started.  We headed for Morrisons to get the remainder when we found a Lidl and stopped there for some beer.  On to Morrisons and home in torrential rain.  Got home and it dried up with blue sky too.

There was a BMX competition on at Broadwood Stadium and I went down there later to get some photos.  As luck would have it two things happened simultaneously.

  1. It started raining
  2. The crowds started coming out of the track, because it was a tea break or a beer break or something.  I don’t think they stop for rain.

I couldn’t be bothered waiting around and should have taken some photos of the proceedings, but just went for a walk instead.  It was strange to see all these 40 somethings all dressed up and on their wee BMX bikes.  Reliving their misspent youth perhaps?  The rain just got heavier and more persistent, as per forecast, so I grabbed some photos around the dam at Broadwood Loch.  Taken with the Oly10.

Walked back home soaked below the waist to my ankles.  Top half perfectly dry.  Feet perfectly dry.  Thank goodness for the person who invented Goretex!

According to Wunderground weather app, the thunderstorm would strike at 16:45.  At precisely 16:48 the first peal of thunder rang out.  Now that’s what I call a forecast!

Weather to improve a bit tomorrow.  Shame it wasn’t better today for Brian Gregg.  He got married today.

P1010538- blog

Tick – 26 May 2017

First tick this year. Let’s hope it’s the last. Tiny wee bugger under my watch strap. Beginning to nip now.

Another very hot day, well, very hot for Scotland. Sat out in the garden reading for a while but had to keep going in to the shade to cool down. Got he call from the car hospital about 11.00 to say that the car was ready to collect.

Picked up the car from the garage Car Hospital. They had replaced the radiator after having to remove the entire front of the car. Changed days from when my father in law and I removed the radiator from my Reliant Regal with the aid of a couple of spanners and a screwdriver. Then we took it to Hillington in Glasgow where he soldered a couple of cracks in the fins and brazed the bottom pipe back on.  Then we reinstalled it with the same two tools we’d used to remove it. Life was so much simpler then.

Drove to Torwood to get some more plants for the garden. This time the plants were herbs and vegetables. The radiator worked perfectly but unfortunately on the hottest day of the year (28ºc) the air-con has packed in. It was a very uncomfortable drive home. I think the time has come for the Megane and us to part company. I’ve enjoyed driving it for the eight years I’ve had it. It’s a bugger to park and the visibility to the rear is very poor, but other than that, it’s a very comfortable car to drive … and it goes fast, or at least it did when it was in its prime. I suppose we all did when we were younger.

I took a walk over to St Mo’s before dinner but didn’t get much. To many dobbers wandering around half cut with bottles of Buckfast. A typical Friday night in Cumbersheugh.

Today’s PoD if from the garden and is a rogue floret from one of the alliums (or allii if you’re being pedantic) in the front garden.

That was about it really. Tomorrow? Apparently we need some shopping – don’t we always? Then we need to sit indoors and watch the rain.

P1010538- blog

In the recovery room – 25 May 2017

Phoned the garage this afternoon and the operation was a success, but the Megane will not be released until the doctor’s visit tomorrow morning.  Until then we will be waiting on tenterhooks.

Earlier in the day, Scamp went for coffee with our niece while I sat and read in the garden in the glorious sunshine. When she returned, I took our shared car and went to meet Fred and Val for coffee.  Talk was wide ranging as usual and covered book reviews, film reviews, the bastard Tories, the hapless, hopeless Labour and the only true political party worth its salt, The Glorious Nicola and The SNP.  I didn’t dare call her Nick the Chick or even worse, Wee Mooth.  I also didn’t mention that in the ‘60s the SNP were called the Tartan Tories.  I was outvoted today ( if you excuse the pun ).

Dinner was on me today and it was a salad with Smoked Mackerel at its centre.  It was very good.  Not as good as the pudding, however.  That was the lovely Pineapple Snow with Lime and Chilli sauce.  Sharp and clean.  Perfect foil for the oily fish.  Everything washed down with some Prosecco.

We took the last glasses of prosecco out into the garden to make the most of last hour of sun.  That’s when I got today’s PoD which is a low level view of daisies.  It was an experiment to see how easy it was to control the camera with an iPhone.  It worked.  Impressed.

According to the weather forecasters, we have one more full day of sun with even higher temperatures than today’s 25ºc.  After that, we have to face the thunderstorms that mark the return to ‘a fresher feel’.

P1010538- blog

Under the Knife – 24 May 2017

This morning began early with me taking the Megane to the garage to have its water leak investigated. By lunchtime it had been confirmed that the problem was a hole in the radiator. It had to stay in overnight and is scheduled for an operation tomorrow with a replacement radiator being fitted. Scamp’s dad would simply have repaired the radiator, because that was his job. Now they just replace them. More expense.

Didn’t do much for the rest of the day until I was coaxed out for a walk by Scamp, not that she was coming with me, oh no, she was watching the final of MasterChef on catch-up. One thing I did do was work out how to use Mail Drop on the Mac. Very clever way of sending large (> 50MB) files to someone. I should make more use of it.

Walked over St Mo’s and got some photos of spiders and dandelion clocks (a must for photogs every year). Still using the Teazer and getting more used to it.

Had to drive Scamp’s car to Salsa tonight, but luckily the traffic was light and we made it with no problem. Salsa itself was fun. Beginners were experiencing the thrill of Exhibela. Advanced class was pretty small, but we covered La Cuadra, Tresario Doble, Cubaa Se. We also tried one of the most exasperating moves, La Confusion where the leaders become followers and vice versa. So well named. No Salsa on Monday, so we have to wait a week for our next fix.

Tomorrow? Scamp has coffee in the morning with Shona and I have coffee just after lunch with Fred and Val. Then hopefully we have to pick up the car.

P1010538- blog

Water, Water, Everywhere – 23 May 2017

Sky water and radiator water, they were both in evidence today.

It was a lovely morning and a fairly decent start to the afternoon too. Began with some gardening duties, namely thinning out the beetroot that now looks as if its been broadcast all over the raised bed because I aborted the first sowing and began a new one at the start of the month. It appears that the first lot were just a wee bit tardy in germinating and have only now found out which way is up. Unfortunately, I turned over the bed before I sowed the last lot of seeds, now I’ve got two lots.
Next I planted out the kale seedlings and lastly the final two pea seedlings, or should that be ‘pealings’?

After that I checked the car and yes, there was a yellow puddle of sticky liquid under it, so there was a leak after all. I knew there would be, but you can always hope. Drove to the garage and got an appointment to have it checked tomorrow. Another early rise 🙁

After lunch Scamp encouraged me to get out in the sun. Also, the wee man who lives on my wrist now was telling me the same thing Freddy Fitbit is his name. It was obvious I wasn’t going to get any peace, so I took myself out. I drove down to Auchinstarry with the Teazer in my pocket and the Oly5 in my bag as backup and went for a long walk. I took lots of shots with the Teazer before rain stopped play. It looked like the rain was on for the day, so I headed back to the car, thankful that I’d decided to bring my new, blue, totally waterproof jacket. The best buy this year so far. Drove home and processed the photos while Scamp made the dinner: Pea and Prawn Risotto. Lovely.

Photos were ok. Some were better than others. I’ll admit I was disappointed and had almost decided to take the camera back before Scamp gave me a severe talking to and reminded me of my original intentions for it. It was to be a ‘stick in your pocket’ camera. It was never going to equal the Olys, far less the Nikon. Its got a place in the pecking order. It’s going to be the ‘pup’ of the camera family. Smaller than the ‘wee dog’, maybe more a Chihuahua kind of dog, just not so yappy.

Tomorrow, after we take the Megane to the car hospital and get it checked in? Don’t know. Maybe a drive somewhere unless it’s still raining.