What’s that water falling from the sky – 18 May 2019

It rained today, almost all day, on and off. That held back the desert for a few days.

Scamp volunteered to drive us through torrential rain to Stirling to go to Dobbies to get an adaptor for the new kitchen tap to allow us to connect the hose. They didn’t have the one I’d intended getting, but we did get an alternative. Scamp got a top in a Country Casuals franchise and I got a baseball cap. Originally it was to keep the sun off my head, but there was no need for it today. Next stop was Bridge of Allan for lunch at Vecchia Bologna. Unfortunately half of Scotland decided they wanted lunch there too, so we went elsewhere. After negotiating some of BoA’s roundabouts we found a parking space on the bridge over the Allan Water and we went to the Allanwater Cafe for fish ’n’ chips. Not your ordinary fish either, but breaded fish which is a ‘special’ fish in the rest of the chip shop world. We’ve passed this wee cafe many times and always intended to go in. Today we did and our fish tea was really very good. We’ll be back, all being well.

Got back to the car and it was dry for a while as we made our way home. Got to Broadwood roundabout and found traffic chaos. Cars everywhere. Folk getting out of cars in the middle of the traffic jam, just mental. There’s only one thing that can cause such madness and it’s football. Sure enough, Clyde were playing Annan in the Scottish 27th division cup final. Eventually we got home by a circuitous route. While the shellshocked Scamp cursed herself for volunteering to drive today and settled her nerves with a ‘white tea’, I went for a walk to St Mo’s as I’d intended getting a few photos in Stirling and the airts, but the rain had put paid to that, so St Mo’s it was. Found lots of interesting stuff, but PoD went to the Snail Race down a tree trunk.

Back home and started today’s sketch which was “A collection of bottles”. All ink bottles of differing colours and designs. It appeared that every one had a different style of cap, but all one colour … black.

Made some cauliflower pakora and some onion bhajis which were deemed good enough to keep until tomorrow.

Tomorrow we may go dancing in Record Factory, but I’ll be driving!

A walk, a beer and a glass of wine – 17 May 2019

Another lazy start to another warm day.

Finally decided around midday that we would go in to Glasgow to get a birthday card and two miniatures of whisky. The reason for the whisky will become clear in a few weeks. Wandered through the Buchanan Galleries and bought two overpriced miniatures in the Whisky Shop. Across the road to Paperchase and bought a set of replacement black waterproof ink pens. Walked back up Buchanan Street and had lunch in Nero. A shared panini and a shared cake. Well, we are pensioners and have to be parsimonious. Scamp needed money from the bank and I was sent to get a plastic tub that would hold a miniature bottle of whisky. With that completed we drove home via Tesco and got the card.

Back home, (are you managing to keep up with this buying spree?) Scamp wrote the card and I checked that the bottle would fit in the tub. It did ( I bet you’re relieved). We walked over to Condorrat in the sunshine to post the card and on the way back we walked through St Mo’s so I could get a PoD which was yet another Large Red Damselfly. Rather than come straight home, Scamp suggested we continue on to the pub and I could have a quick beer and a wine for Scamp. The barman said he didn’t have any Shiraz, but he did have a Nottingham Hill. We both assured him Notting Hill would be fine. It was his first day on the job and here was I asking him for something that could have been in Swahili for all he knew. Mine was easier, just a pint of Stella. We sat in the ‘garden’ area at the back, in full sun, but sheltered from the cool east wind. It’s called a garden, but I think it’s a long time since anything has grown on that piece of land. We sat there for for about an hour sipping our drinks and discussing serious and slightly morbid topics.

Came home and I made Butter Chicken from a Spice Tailor packet served with rice and flatbread fried in a little olive oil. Quite delicious.

Today’s topic for sketching was An Old Machine. I don’t know if you’d call my dad’s hand drill a machine, but I would. Is it old? Well, I remember him getting the drill back in the ‘60s. Is that old enough for you?

Tomorrow we have no plans, but it’s raining tonight and it’s supposed to rain almost all day tomorrow. We may go out and we may not.

The day the locksmith came – 15 May 2019

I was up early as you can imagine and even started fiddling around with the lock again, but had breakfast before I phoned for a locksmith. With no idea who was good, who was bad, well there was one obvious bad one. The only review he had on Google was one star and one word “Cowboy”. I avoided him and went for one on Yell. The bloke said he’d be out between 10 and 10.30 in the morning. He was as good as his word and he had the door opened in TEN SECONDS!! I kid you not.  Unfortunately, that was only half the story. The locking mechanism was broken and needed to be replaced. That he did with good speed and good humour. Paid him and he was off to Bellshill to fix a garage door that wouldn’t lock. I’d recommend him again to anyone.

That left us just enough time for lunch and to drive in to Glasgow for some Jive, some Quickstep, a bit of Cha-Cha and to finish off, a wee Waltz. Michael showed us the next part of our Jive routine and we also had a go at New Yorkers in Cha-Cha and a bit of the next stage in Quickstep. He really does fly through the routines.

Home and after dinner Scamp drove us to the STUC for Intermediate Salsa which was fun and Beginners Salsa which was not. Two girls, one slightly the worse for wear and one three sheets to the wind kind of spoiled the class. Yes, salsa is meant to be fun, but not to the extent that you giggle all the way through the class. That’s called Steamin’.

PoD was a hastily shot photo of the first flowering Aquilegia. Must do better. Sketch topic today was A Tree. I chose Chestnut and the result is here. It started out well, but I ran out of time. A common complaint on a Wednesday.

Tomorrow? I don’t have a clue. Today was hot. Temperature according to the car was max 25ºc and I could believe it. Tomorrow is to be cooler and not as sunny.

Out to lunch – 13 May 2019

Meeting Shona for lunch today.

First, though I took a trip to Bishopbriggs to get myself the shaver adaptor that caused the bother on Friday and also a card reader that would allow me to import the files from my Nikon CP950. The 950 is an ancient digital camera made in 1999 and is one of the best cameras for recording in infrared without adaptation. All you need to do is stick an R72 filter in front of it and shoot away as if it’s not there. An R72 filter is a very, very dark red. It’s so dark it looks totally opaque to the human eye. What it does is restrict almost all the visible light, only allowing through the light in the 720nm area of the spectrum, in other words, infrared. The great thing about infrared is that living green material is rendered as white and skies are black. Fake green ‘leaves’ like camouflage are rendered as black and it was this ability to differentiate fake from real that made it so important during WW2. I just wanted to do fancy stuff to the shots later in Photoshop, but since the CP950 uses Compact Flash memory cards and hardly anybody uses them now, it’s a bit of a problem getting the images into the computer. However, Currys had a card reader with CF capability, so that’s why I was up and out early to get one.

After that and after I’d salivated over the low resolution, but true infrared images, I went to meet Shona. I’d fitted a couple of locks for her in her flat and she was buying me lunch as a ‘Thank You’. We drove up to the new Milano Cafe where she had Spaghetti Carbonara and I had Spaghetti con Polpette ( meatballs). Her Carbonara looked the part, but the sauce in mine was a bit thin. Having said that, there was plenty on the plate and it was a good fun lunch.

Drove Shona home and then went out to get some photos in St Mo’s. Didn’t stay long as I had to exhibit my EDiM photos to Margie, because Gems were in the house today. Saw another red damselfly, a smaller one than yesterday’s, but it was too fast for me and I didn’t manage to capture it. I did get some IR shots with the CP950 which is held together with a heavy duty rubber band, because of a design flaw in the locking mechanism of the battery compartment. It was one of the IR photos that took PoD.

I’d already started on the sketch of the day whose topic was “Your favourite song”. My favourite song was “Raindogs” by Tom Waits and that’s what you see here. A Raindog.

Salsa tonight was energetic and exhausting. The completely new one was “Lotus”, with a reprise of “Lizzy” and “Stormtrooper”. I got the blame for Stormtrooper because the tee shirt I was wearing had a lego stormtrooper on it. Hazy must shoulder part of the blame for that because she’s the one who bought it for me!

Tomorrow looks like an interesting day with temperatures of 22ºc predicted! We may go out somewhere to celebrate.

The Smiddy and Ladybirds – 11 May 2019

In the morning we went to a funeral. After that the day started.

In the morning we went to Crawford’s brother’s funeral. Funerals have a tendency, like black monkeys (or black dogs if you prefer) to stay with me all day. This one certainly did. We went home, got changed and drove to The Smiddy near Doune for lunch.

The drive helped to take the feeling away. That and the sunshine that we enjoyed all day. Baked Potato with Veg Chilli helped too. Scamp had her usual Macaroni and Cheese with Chips. We hadn’t really intended having such a full lunch, but the food in The Smiddy is usually very good and difficult to refuse. Outside I went to take some landscapes shots in the beautiful light that always appears near this restaurant. I did get a few, but then I managed to grab the photo that became PoD. Ladybirds doing some very unladylike things! From there we drove through Doune to Dunblane and M&S Food (more food? I hear you ask). After that it was a straight run home.

Tonight’s topic in Every Day in May, number 11, was Spring. What is more springlike than daffodils and it was a single daffy that became my sketch/painting today. I liked the blurred background, but Scamp didn’t. She liked yesterday’s painting and I didn’t. I’m glad we don’t agree on everything. That was about it for today. Scamp has more plans for the garden and maybe has a storage place for the new table. I ripped out some weeds from the retaining wall at the back of the garden and noticed that quite a few of the facing bricks need replacing. Managed to rip out a fairly large nettle and got a lovely sting from it right through one of Scamp’s heavy duty gardening gloves. Scary things, nettles.

Tomorrow looks like an even better day than today. If it lives up to predictions, we may go somewhere nice. Destination unknown at present. If not we may go dancing. It’s a wait and see kind of day.

Causing bother again – 10 May 2019

The day started well, and then it stalled at B&Q.

It was a lovely morning. Really too lovely to lie in bed, but that’s what we both did. That’s what happens when you’re stuck in a good book. You waste the best part of the day.

However we did eventually get going and of course Scamp was out sorting the garden again. Planning new layouts of plants, new colour schemes and sometimes, just new schemes. However, she did get a chance to use our new garden table as a potting table. So much more sensible than crouching down filling pots with compost. Better for the back. Then she was off to get her hair cut while I messed around on the computer looking at stuff, electric shavers and such.

After lunch she was stuck in the house because it was raining, really raining. I went off to The Fort to buy the electric shaver of my dreams. Not quite as posh as some people with their Series 9s with their cleaning modules. Mine would be a Series 5, but a big step up from the old blunt Series 4 I’ve had for about fifteen years, we think.

On the way back I spotted some beautiful light beginning to build, so I stopped and photographed it of course. Not on the motorway, but down a wee side road on the outskirts of Cumbersheugh. I didn’t have time to change lenses, because the light itself was changing rapidly, so instead I took three shots and intended to combine them into a panorama in ON1. I think it worked very well. I’m very impressed with that application.  Oh yes, and while I was there I saw the first swallow this year.  This is week 19.

Back home is where the bother started. The plug that came with the shaver didn’t fit our old shaver adaptor. No problem I managed to slide the contacts in until the shaver started charging. After dinner (Simple Fish Stew from yesterday) Scamp was going to the choir concert with Isobel and I’d volunteered to drive. After dropping her off, I went to B&Q to get an adaptor. Saw one for £1.50. Yes, that sounded right. No it wasn’t. Checkout girl said it was £2.65. Nope, I said, ticket says £1.50. Her supervisor said £2.65. Long story short. I went and checked, photographed said box of adaptors and the price ticket, but it made no difference. The supervisor wouldn’t believe the photo. The price was £2.65. The arrogance of that woman really got to me. Her mantra must be ‘The Customer Is Always Wrong’. I left without the adaptor. Have you ever tried writing a complaint to B&Q? There is nowhere on their website where such a thing is possible, believe me, I spent half an hour scrutinising the website, but they must be so perfect, nobody ever complains. Either that or they’ve hauled up the drawbridge, lowered the portcullis and are all running around with their fingers in their ears, saying “NOPE, NO COMPLAINTS HERE”. I did eventually get my complaint written and sent to somewhere in the system. We’ll see what happens next.

Today’s topic is A Door. My answer is the Bin Shed Door. It used to house the bins, but now we have four different types and different sizes of bins, there’s no room for all of them in the shed. Now it’s crammed full of gardening stuff, that’s why it’s firmly closed and the snib is down!  Not perfect, but I like the pot of Honeybells on the doorstep. That makes up for the rest of the painting.

Tomorrow we’re going to the funeral of Crawford’s brother. After that, the day will start.

 

Dancing – 8 May 2019

A dull, day with a cutting cold wind. If this is May, what will December bring?

I’d say Winter is Coming, but I haven’t a clue what that’s all about. Something to do with Games About Thrones, I believe.

We drove in to Glasgow today and danced Jive quite well. Learned The Bumps which were fun once you got the steps in your head. Got my Spin 5 sorted out properly and went over Kicksie which is mind bogglingly difficult for my feet to comprehend. In Quickstep I passed the test for Fishtails and the bit after Sway-Sway (I don’t know its name). All this was done under the tutelage of Anne Marie whose style was so much more relaxed than Michael’s

Came home in that cold wind again and started on a sketch for tonight’s EDiM topic which was “Broken Glass/Ice”. I’d downloaded a picture of a broken glass from a royalty-free site on the net and it looked like it would work. I’ll leave you to decide. At this point in proceedings I didn’t have a PoD and was running out of time (and light) to get one. After a bit of discussion with Scamp we decided not to go to Salsa tonight to allow me time to get everything completed on time. That took the pressure off and I grabbed some pics of flowers in the garden in the fading light. The Azalea at the top of the page is the result.

Finished the sketch and quite liked it. Used two thicknesses of pen for the lifework.

Tomorrow Scamp is booked to have her hair cut and I may go somewhere scenic and hopefully sunny to grab some photos.

Getting out of the house – 7 May 2019

Today we went for a drive and got a table.

It wasn’t the brightest of days, in fact it was a bit overcast with a hint of rain in the wind. I’d thought of going to Bowling near Dumbarton, but I reckoned I wouldn’t get very interesting photos with the lack of light in the morning, so we went to Ikea instead. I wanted to get some of the drawer dividers we’d been using for the Marie Kondo stuff and Scamp just wanted a wander around looking at nothing in particular and everything in general. We ended up buying a garden table for a knock down price, a wooden one that looks as if it will be useful, not only for eating off, but also as a potting bench. Had lunch in Ikea and got a quid or two off our meal with the Family Card. A pain in the backside to fill in the detailed application for and they must have been hewing the card from a solid block of plastic, judging by the time it took to come. However it saved us money, so we shouldn’t complain.  We both had the fish ‘n’ chips.  It was supposed to be cod and I’d guess it swam in the same sea as the cod, but that’s as close as it got to being that fish.  Chips were good.

The rain got heavier after we left Glasgow and it looked as if it was settling in to be another dull day. I moped upstairs for a while trying to find something to draw to fulfil the brief of “Something that makes you sad”. I though of an empty bottle of beer which usually makes me sad, but I just couldn’t get it to look like I wanted it to. Decided that the rain had lessened to a drizzle and went for a walk in St Mo’s as much for a break as for any inspiration. However, on my way back, I passed the burger van that’s parked over there and saw the sign for the umpteenth time. This time I took a couple of shots. The one you see here is the best one, I think. Processed in ON1 2019 and then just a little bit of levels in Lightroom, it became PoD.

With the photo done and posted, Scamp and I shared the last two choc ices and that’s when I saw my sketch. To quote from the title: “I’m always sad when the last choc ice is gone!” I posted it in FB and then had a look at what everyone else had done and it was “Saving the planet”, “Protect the Bees”, fluffy bunnies, kittens and babies with tears in their eyes. It seems that I’m the only one with a sense of humour.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing in the afternoon and in the evening too.

MOT Day – 2 May 2019

Up and out to take Scamp’s Micra to the garage for MOT.

Back for breakfast and a plan for the day. I’d thought of going to Hamilton for a curry and maybe a visit to the art shop. Scamp had other ideas. She’d found a shop in Falkirk that had the rotary clothes airer (Whirly) she wanted. No problem, there’s a shop called The Range that sells cheap art materials. So, off we went to Falkirk.

The satnav found the shop even after disagreeing with my initial change of route. Scamp found the whirly and we were soon trying to inveigle it into the Juke. Finally it fitted, but only after we dropped both the back seats and Scamp moved her seat a notch forward. I had a look in The Range, but the paints I was looking for weren’t really all that cheap, just cheap looking. I had a look in Boots and Argos for a new electric razor, but couldn’t decide which one. So back we went to Cumbersheugh.

Scamp wanted a new planter (or two) for here sweet peas and also for anything that would fit into the other one. She also picked up this week’s plant which has blue flowers and an unpronounceable name. Next stop was B&Q to find out if they had any Impatiens, pink ones. They did, which brought another smile to her face. While we were plant shopping I got the phone call from the garage that the car would fail because of a broken front spring. Agreed to the price and told them to go ahead.

We were passing the new(ish) Milano cafe and stopped there for lunch. Lunch was a pizza each. Initial thoughts were that it was little more than a transport cafe, but one look at the pizza was enough to convince us otherwise. Very nice pizzas. Worth another visit.

Back home we chose a place for the new whirly and with a spade I decided ‘X’ marked the spot and started to hammer the 400mm long galvanised steel holder into the back garden grass. It wasn’t as difficult as it first appeared, but a lot more difficult than the instructions implied. Wish I’d brought that big lump hammer back from school over four years ago. It would have made short work things. We assembled the dryer and it’s still standing after having helped dry some sheets. It isn’t exactly vertical, but it hasn’t fallen down yet which the clothes pole is about to do. That could be my next task, to hacksaw down the clothes pole. But that’s for another day.

I thought I had enough time to go for a walk before we went for the car, but I was wrong. I’d only been out for about 15 minutes when the call came in. Rushed back and drove Scamp down to the garage to pick up her wee car.

Gave up on the walk to take photos and settled for a shot of the American Cowslip I got in Skye last year about this time. It completely died away last year and I was sure it was gone, but then Scamp announced a few weeks ago that she thought it was growing. It’s now flowering and we may have to re-pot it once its flowers have gone. Such a pretty and strange wee flower. That became PoD.

The topic for today’s EDiM sketch/painting was “An insect you would miss” and my insect was a Ladybird. It’s ok. It could have been better if I hadn’t left it so long to start working on it. Tomorrow will be better.

Found out that my old electric razor still had a charge in it. Even better I found the charger too. It still works but is a bit rough on the skin. I found a label on it that told me I should change the cutter and foil every 18 months. I though it was every 18 years!

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go for a curry in Hamilton.

Losing the rag! – 1 May 2019

There are some days when you can’t put a foot wrong. This wasn’t one of them.

Our Jive was fine. No real problems. Michael even taught us three new moves to add to our little routine. I got most of them right … eventually. However the quickstep was a different story. I lost count of the number of times he stopped us and corrected me. I was beginning to lose my rag and I think he noticed it. I stuck with it though because most of the corrections he was making were legitimate if a bit picky. Sometimes, however he would tell me I was doing things wrong but I’m sure I was doing exactly what he had taught. Maybe he was just having a bad day or had got out of bed on the wrong side. Graham and Isobel left halfway through the class. I think they’d had enough too. Maybe next week will be better.

Back home, a cup of coffee and a completed first painting for the ‘Every Day in May’ challenge (topic -Some Fruit) got my head in a better place and I managed to get an hour in St Mo’s where a dandelion seed head became PoD. It looked a bit bedraggled after an afternoon of rain.  Dinner was Kedgeree made by Scamp with just the right amount of curry powder and a lovely bit of fish. Delicious.

Salsa was good fun and just for fun I asked a few of the girls I was dancing with if they’d enjoyed their “Ooh La La” class last week. Their looks spoke volumes. I don’t think it was a fun class. The beginners were doing Sombrero and the looks on their faces when they saw it demonstrated were hilarious. The looks that said “We’ll never be able to do that!” But they did and by the end of the class they had all but conquered it. Beautiful light on the drive home and a lovely sunset after a wet day.

Up early tomorrow to take Scamp’s car in to the garage for MOT. Keeping our fingers crossed.