Out walking – 6 July 2020

We drove down to Auchinstarry to walk along the canal this morning. Typically, now we are free to travel the length and breadth of the country, we stayed within the 5 mile lockdown limit!

Walked along the canal, avoiding a few cyclists and joggers on a beautiful, if slightly breezy morning. Still didn’t see any kingfishers, but did catch one of Mr Grey’s relatives hiding in the rushes on the far side of the canal. Initially he tried to hide, but then realised it was just a couple of humans out for a walk and totally ignored us. We turned around when we reached Twechar and took the railway path back to Auchinstarry. The railway path is much more sheltered than the canal towpath and as a result we could dispense with out waterproof jackets. Hardly met anyone on the path. When we were crossing the wee stone bridge at Auchinstarry I spotted a Shield Bug and that got PoD. It just ignored me for most of the time, but when I got too close it became defensive and as they have a tendency to fire smelly fluid at you if attacked, I said goodbye and took my leave.

After lunch Scamp went looking for food at the shops while I stayed home and attempted yesterday’s painting, a Ruby Wedding rose that Scamp had cut yesterday to stop it being battered by the gales. It was much more glamorous today picking up the light from the window. I didn’t do it justice, I know that, but this was the best of three attempts and would have to do. It was another catch-up.

When Scamp returned I grabbed my camera and went looking for more subjects. Found a Burnet moth behind St Mo’s school. First one I’ve seen this year. Didn’t get a chance to count its spots, just took its photo.

Tonight I did today’s sketch which turned out to be a still life pencil sketch of two apples. One of my favourite subjects, but, again, not very successful. I’m intending keeping the Lockdown Library going until we’re sure we’re out of it or until I reach my limit.

Another sketchbook filled tonight. May go looking for another one tomorrow. Otherwise no plans. Depends on the weather.

Strangers in a strange land – 4 July 2020

We should have been in foreign climes today. We felt as if we were.

We should have been halfway through a Mediterranean cruise if the dreaded Covid-19 hadn’t reared its ugly head and condemned us to three months of purgatory. Foreign countries always make us feel slightly uneasy. Most of the town and cities look quite familiar in a way. The buildings and parks, even the open space, the piazzas and squares look almost familiar, but underneath that familiarity is an undercurrent to unease because there is that constant unfamiliarity too. Things are not quite how they seem. I think that’s how I felt this morning, visiting Glasgow.

We parked at the Buchanan Galleries which in itself was strange, because there were no queues at the ticket machine. There were plenty spaces on all the levels up to three. After that the ramps to the higher levels were cordoned off. Neither of us has ever seen it so empty. Walked down the stairs, past the shuttered fire doors cutting off entrance to the Galleries themselves. Then we walked out into Glasgow itself.

We walked down Buchanan Street and although there were plenty of people there, it felt somehow unsafe. Great long snaking queues of people waiting their turn to enter the House of Apple. All of them standing in the rain waiting for their chance to hand over money, or more likely type four digits into a card machine to get their new phone, iPod or laptop. Down on Argyle Street longer queues stretched out from Primark. There was no sale on, just again the desperation to ‘buy things’. Scamp and I reckoned the queue was about 300m long. This was the first Saturday since some shops opened their doors and everyone wanted to shop.

Me? I wanted to replenish my paintbox. I’d run out of about five of my fifteen colours and the remainder were getting a bit low in their wee pans. I managed to get a full set, plus a free Kolinsky sable for just slightly more than I’d hoped to pay. That’s the cost of 70 odd days of Lockdown paintings. I tried using the student quality Cotman colours, but they are much weaker than the professional quality ones. It’s worth paying the extra. Drove home through an improving weather picture, glad to be away from the strange land we used to know so well.

After lunch we went for a walk in St Mo’s and stood watching the Tufted Duck chicks learning to dive down for food in the shallows. Such tiny wee things, they seemed right at home on the water, but were carefully monitored by Mrs Tufty.

Later we walked over to Condorrat for a Fish Supper (me) and a Black Pudding Supper (Scamp). Real treat to eat food that someone else has made. While we ate our suppers we watched the qualifying for the Austrian GP, the first one this year. What a shame that Vettel has been dropped by Ferrari he will be sadly missed 🤣😉. Hopefully Ferrari’s actions will lead to fewer crashes and a safer F1 next year when he leaves.

Today’s PoD was taken in Anchor Lane in Glasgow city centre and was dunked in buckets of Lightroom and ON1 2019 before being hung up to dry in Flickr.

Tomorrow looks like a wild day. The wind is already starting to gust. I don’t think we’ll be going far.

The sky is falling – 3 July 2020

Well, that’ the way it felt today with the amount of rain that was dropping from the sky.

We had intended to drive in to Glasgow today for a walk down Bucky Street and then, maybe along Argyle Street and up past a certain art shop in Queen Street, then drive back home. That was the plan yesterday, but it didn’t quite work out that way. First off we needed to take Scamp’s wee car out for a run. Just to make sure that the battery was charged and that it was continuing to charge. It passed both tests with flying colours. It started first time and with Scamp driving and me as radio operator, we managed to code in the security number correctly. Who among my readers could tell me that they’d have the radio security number for their car, ten years after they bought it? Scamp knew exactly where the four digit code was and even corrected me when I initially typed it in wrongly. Ms Memory, that’s Scamp!

She had decided that she’d drive in to Robroyston, turn there and come home. Halfway along the motorway, with blinding rain and spray it didn’t look as if we’d get that far, but she stuck it out and we turned at the retail park and drove straight back home without stopping. Battery seems to be charging properly and no problems with it at all. The rain seemed even worse coming home and we were both glad to park up and have lunch. One trial over.

In the afternoon I walked down to the shops and got the shopping for tonight’s dinner in M&S where I was complimented on my frog mask, but reminded that from Monday, masks will be mandatory in shops. Shoppers will not be allowed to enter M&S without one. Not everyone is happy about it, it seems, but it doesn’t bother either of us. A mask is now just something you keep in your back pocket or your bag and slip it on as soon as you enter an enclosed space. How easily we become used to the new regime.

I managed to grab one shot today. Taken from the living room window, it’s a close up of a pink rosebud from the climbing rose at the back door. Scamp reckons it came from my mum and dad’s house in Larky. That might be true. Anyway, the rosebud made PoD.

Dinner was disappointing despite all the ingredients looking like they worked together. It was a ‘healthy’ recipe, not so much a low salt as a no salt recipe. There is no point in making an ultra low salt recipe if, in the end, it tastes of nothing. Salt is there for a purpose. It’s a flavour enhancer. True, too much is dangerous, but too much of anything is dangerous. I may try it again but with the addition of that four letter flavour enhancer this time. Vegetable, Herb and Smoked Trout Patties if you must know.

I had a drawing for yesterday, but was too tired to post it, so it went in today. It was Glasgow’s pigeons sitting on one of the old buildings in Argyle Street. Today’s is a still life of the fruit bowl. Drawn on a rough textured cheap sketch book from Cass Art using a cheap compressed charcoal pencil from The Works. It just shows that not all art materials need to be expensive. The pencil and paper work so well together, they are great to draw with.  Both drawings now on Instagram and FB.

Tomorrow looks to be much less wet than today and we may go out. That’s all I’m saying.

Feeling a bit run down – 2 July 2020

You know how some days you feel a bit lacklustre and not exactly full of energy. That’s how Scamp’s wee red car felt today.

We had spent the morning lounging around and too lazy to do much. Although the wonders of shopping in Glasgow were drawing us in to the big city, inertia was holding us fast. Eventually we decided that today was a lovely sunny day after a few wet and dull days, and we should both make the most of it. Tomorrow promises to be wet and windy. That might be a better day to wander round the shops. Our decision was to go and do some food shopping because Scamp was chef tonight, then I might go out for a run on the Dewdrop. Scamp’s car hadn’t turned a wheel for about a month, so she offered to drive, except …

When she turned the key in the ignition the starter coughed a few times and then went silent. She tried again and it was like a death rattle. Lifted the bonnet, but there was nothing to see. After my recent problems with the Juke, I suspected a flat battery. Scamp tried phoning for the AA which is run through our bank, but there was a 20min wait in a queue, even to find out if we were covered for home start. I phoned Jim Dickson our go-to place for all car consumables to find out how much a new battery would cost. It was a lot less than Kwik Fit or AA were quoting, like a hundred pounds more in the case of the AA.

After a fair bit of swearing and about half an hour’s work the old battery came out and I took it for a run to see what Mr Dickson would say about it. He (or as it turned out, she because it was Ms Dickson who was in charge today) said yes, they had one in stock and for once it was the cheap one we needed. Back home I wrestled the new battery into place and nearly wrecked a Torx spanner tightening the retaining bolt. Before I connected the terminals back in place I did check with Mr Google who told me that I was correct in assuming that the negative terminal was the first to be connected. I don’t know where I’d remembered that from, because it’s a very long time since I’ve replaced a battery in a car. With everything connected, the key turned, the engine started an Scamp had a smile on her face again.

Work done, I had an hour to spend walking over St Mo’s before dinner. Came back and sat in the garden with a pint of Guinness while the chef prepared dinner which turned out to be a lovely Paneer Curry. Quite the best curry I’ve had in a long time. I must get the recipe!

While I was out I got today’s PoD which is a seven spot ladybird. Managed a shot of a hoverfly masquerading as a bee too. I took the ladybird with a conventional shot, but the hoverfly was captured using Post Focus. It’s really an extremely short video that allows you to select one frame to download and turn into a JPEG file. Yes, JIC I know that’s Technospeak and you weren’t warned. Sorry. Just call it Black Magic! That’s how it seems to me and I know how it works.

Because of the battery problems, I didn’t really get round to doing a sketch until just before I started the blog, but it is done and will be posted tomorrow, all being well. Also tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow if the rain isn’t too heavy.

The big city – 30 June 2020

Not Glasgow or Embra, but the minor city of Stirling.  Granted City status by The Queen in 2002.  Queen Lizzie, not Nicola, who is the queen in waiting.

Today we went to Stirling for ‘the messages’. Since we, the common people are still restricted to approximately five miles from home for exercise and recreation, we wouldn’t be allowed to travel the fifteen or so miles to Stirling, BUT if we were travelling for essential food supplies, like Waitrose might have, permission is granted. We drove to Stirling. Parked at an almost deserted Waitrose and went for a walk in the city centre.

It was a bit strange walking past the closed up shops in the Thistle Centre. Y’see, according to Her Majesty Nicola’s decree, only shops with an outside entrance may open. Those that only have an entrance to a mall may not. Since most of the shops in centre fail that test, they can’t open yet. In fact, only Boots can tick that box, having an entrance to the pedestrian precinct through Boots Opticians. However, WH Smith was open and it doesn’t have an outside entrance. Aha, but it does house the post office and that way it can thwart the rule. One rule for Post Offices and another for the ordinary shops. We didn’t tarry long, Scamp didn’t even go in to M&S.

We walked back to Waitrose and made a valiant attempt at buying it. I can’t say Scamp did that on her own, I aided and abetted her, buying more than we really needed, but not as much as we really wanted. It felt very strange to me to be wearing a mask and taking care to dance around people in Waitrose. It put it down to accepting the queueing and the gradual return to almost normality in Tesco and the new shops, Waitrose was a known quantity in a known town. This was the first time we’d been there since about February and you grow to expect all the restrictions in the place you live in, but once you go to somewhere you haven’t visited in a while, it feels a but alien almost. Maybe it’s just me.

Back home and after lunch, Scamp went out to cut the grass. I did the strimming round the plant pots. I was also trusted with using the blower to scatter the loose grass cuttings to the four winds. I didn’t realise just how strong the torque is in that leaf blower. It’s a powerful motor.

Afterwards I laid in a sky for a wee acrylic painting that’s been in my head for weeks. Hopefully the sky will follow tomorrow.

Headed off for a walk round St Mo’s and got another photo of a grasshopper. It may be the same one, or perhaps it’s a different one. I never got to find out its name. I thought it might make PoD, but that went to a woman walking her dog.

Not a bad day, and a day without any rain. That doesn’t look set to last. More of the wet stuff on the way and we have no plans for tomorrow, even although Cass Art will be open tomorrow! Yes, I’ve checked and it does have the required type of entrance.

It didn’t rain today … 29 June 2020

… for about an hour. The sun shone too for far less time than that. Otherwise it was same old, same old.

It was a dull rainy morning that led on to a dull rainy afternoon, but finally about 10pm I went to the door and it was dry. I’m not sure if it’s still dry. I’m not looking just in case it’s not.

I drove up to Tesco today in the rain, mainly to get my prescription from the chemist, but also to get milk and bread if there was no queue. There was no queue so I grabbed my basket, disinfected it, sanitised my hands and put on my mask. Yes, I know a two layer cloth mask isn’t going to stop the microscopic spores of the virus, but it makes me feel secure and makes folk smile because the mask has cartoon frogs on it. Scamp says it makes folk give you a wide berth, just in case you might be wearing the mask to prevent others from catching your germs. Yes, that might just be true.

Came home with a magazine, a bag of oranges, two grapefruit and a loaf, but no milk. Didn’t notice until we were having lunch and Scamp asked me where I’d put the milk. What milk? Oops.

In between showers I grabbed a few shots of flowers in the garden and it was the remains of a meconopsis that made PoD. Sometimes the remains of a flower once the petals have fallen are more interesting than the flower. I wouldn’t say that about the bright blue of the meconopsis, but it did make an interesting subject. Only one flower still to open on the plant and that will be it until next year DV.

Danced for a bit tonight, reprising a couple of sequence dances and a little bit of jive to end the session. Only half an hour or so, but I was quite pleased at remembering most of the sequence dance steps and all the Seven Deadly Spins in the correct order! Must do that more often. I’m sure Scamp enjoyed it too.

Postman knocked at the door today and left a heavy but small parcel on the step. It turned out to be a bottle of Barra Gin. Scamp had told me she’d ordered one for JIC and Sim and it had arrived last week after a lengthy wait. It turned out she’d ordered one for me too! She is well named. She can be a crafty Scamp when she turns her mind to it.

So, today was an improving picture. Tomorrow we may drive somewhere, just to get The Messages. I may even take my “I’m Away For The Messages” bag with me. Oh yes, and we might get some milk too!

Disobeying orders – 24 June 2020

Well, not really. We were travelling more than 5 miles from home, but not for exercise or leisure, we were going shopping. Honest!

In the morning we did a bit of cutting and cropping of various bushes. Scamp was dead heading anything that didn’t move and I was taking cuttings from a rosemary bush, then giving it a more serious short back and sides. Might have to do my own hair tomorrow if I can find the time, but I’ll use a pair of clippers, not a pair of secateurs.

We drove to The Fort after the gardening was deemed done and walked around shops that were now coming out of the mothball stage they’ve been in since March. There was a lot more activity in them than I’d anticipated. All sorts of shops, too. It seems that Nick the Chick has turned a corner and is actually taking steps to get people back to ‘normal’ and perhaps trying to kick start business into life again. Let’s hope it’s not too little, too late.

However, this was not leisure or exercise although to the casual observer it might have looked like that. No, we got back in the car and drove on to Morrisons and bought such essentials as yoghurt and fish plus a couple of bags of Yorkshire Mixture sweeties. The place was busy but not overcrowded. We did, however, have our masks on, unlike most of the Glaswegians who are made of sterner stuff and don’t need such fripperies.

Back home lunch was two ‘pieces’ on corned beef with a fair dash of brown sauce for me and one ‘piece’ on cheese for Scamp. Then it was out to sit in the sunshine for a while. I chose not to take the lazy route and went for a walk round St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which is a dragonfly emerging from its nymphal stage. They can live for about two years as a nymph in shallow water before emerging and turning into the adult flying insect. They only live out of the water for about two months maximum. It’s a hard life being a dragonfly.

No sketch today. Too warm, couldn’t find anything interesting, just couldn’t be bothered, to be honest. Maybe I’ll do catchup tomorrow. No other plans for tomorrow, but it’s going to be hot we’re told and with the threat of thunderstorms too.

We went shopping – 13 June 2020

We even travelled further than the statutory five miles, but don’t broadcast that.

It was a dull old morning with milk white skies the glowered over us. The hills were shrouded in the stuff, so the only thing to do was go out, and that’s what we did. But first the coffee machine had to be warmed up to dispense some Sumatran joy! A sudoku had to be started and some mind bending puzzles had to be completed on a new tablet. A big tablet with thousands of colours and big icons that deafened the eyes with their brightness. Scamp was getting used to her new toy. Me? I was wondering if I should get myself a new tablet too. My ‘new’ tablet is six years old now, stuffed to the gunwales with games and rubbish. I still use it because it has a lovely screen, but it’s getting slow, you can’t update the OS and, well, Scamp’s got a new tablet and it’s better than mine. Couldn’t quite square the ‘want’ with the ‘need’, so it ended up in abeyance … for now.

After coffee and puzzles, came lunch which was scrambled egg with smoked salmon on toast. Another cup of coffee for me and a white tea for Scamp then the decision – where to go. We settled on Kilsyth for a bottle of Hortus Gin from Lidl, some veg, some chicken breasts, pastries to go with another coffee, milk, chocolate raisins and beer, but mainly Hortus Gin! Scamp had wanted to go to the Kilsyth fish shop, but Lidl managed to supply enough fish to satisfy her. Dinner was discussed, but we settled on eating out of the freezer. Chicken Tikka curry with a starter of cauliflower pakora and fish pakora. Never made fish pakora before, but it turned out to be quite simple.

Before the dinner could be begun, there were photos to be taken. Walked over to St Mo’s then followed the path behind the school and found a great mound of Flag Irises growing there (I checked and Irises is the plural of Iris, just so you know). Managed to get a few shots of bees bums as they plundered the flowers, but the almost symmetrical yellow bloom got PoD.

Back home, dinner went well. I made the starter and Scamp did the main. Shared the washing up. The gin was just as good as I remembered it and just about the same price too. I commend it to you. Sketch today was “A Tree, A Branch or A Leaf”. I was late getting round to starting it and it ended up being a trio of of bramble leaves in autumn regalia. At least I think that’s what it will be. It’s still drying as I write this and won’t be posted until tomorrow, hopefully. In the intervening twelve hours or so the situation may change. Like the very wet watercolour, it’s a bit fluid!

Tomorrow we have no plans, but if it’s dry it may be a walk or it may be cycling. At present it’s still a mystery!

Out for a spin – 4 June 2020

The weather wasn’t very promising, but we just had to get out of the house.

Drove to Torwood Garden Centre to get a pot for Scamp’s new rose. Ended up with a boot full of plants, compost and other ‘essentials’ Plus the back foot well was also being used as secondary storage. We did manage to leave some stuff at the garden centre for other folk, but not a lot. I shouldn’t complain because I got some leek plants and some chard which we did have seeds for, but were too late to sow this year.

Interesting to see their method for limiting the number of folk in the centre. Torwood is the best organised I’ve seen so far. You need to take a trolley in to the shop, you can’t go in without one. They have 30 trolleys and a maximum of two people can go in with one trolley. That way they limit the number of people in the place to a maximum of 60 at any one time. Check out is so much better than Calders. Torwood have two tills running and no big long queue. The path to the tills is clearly marked and when you get there, every step in the process is calculated and run with military precision. I was impressed.

We had bought a longer hose and back home, after lunch I assembled it. It was a lot more complicated than our old one and it gave us both a headache trying to roll it back into the carrier without any kinks. I think we’ve managed it, but it won’t be needed for a while because it rained nearly all day. This is only the start of the deluges according to the weather fairies, but we shouldn’t complain after all the hot sunny days.

Dinner tonight was Thai Chicken Stir Fry from the Muirhead butchers, but I made a mess of cooking it and it ended up too dry. I tried to blame Scamp, but we both knew it was my own fault.

PoD was a flower we saw at Torwood. It’s a Paeonia Patio ‘Kiev’. Too big and showy for Scamp and she’s probably right. It wasn’t a day for taking pictures. Sunny then wet then sunny …

Hoping against hope that the weather fairies will have got it wrong and tomorrow will be dry and sunny.

Back at the wheelhouse – 2 June 2020

Before the wheelhouse visit, there was a toilet to fix. Almost as important there was a consignment of coffee due in today and Scamp was off to see Isobel. There you are, the day in a nutshell.

Scamp had a timeline sorted out. She’d go and visit Isobel in the Village and if the plumber hadn’t been by the time she returned, I could go to Clachan of Campsie and she’d stay in until he and the coffee came. Sounded like a plan.

However, before she went I did a rain dance. Not a real dance. Instead I washed the car which is usually the equivalent of it. Almost every time I wash the car, the rain comes on. Lockdown has seriously restricted our driving, but it hasn’t stopped the trees producing their annual sticky buds, or the seagulls crapping their sticky paint removing crap all over the cars. At least the detergent gets rid of the resin from the trees, but the seagull crap is almost impenetrable by any spray or detergent, although the Supergard™ spray is good if you catch the dirt before it gets bonded to the paintwork. That wasn’t the case today. It was the worst mess I’ve ever had to remove, but finally I declared it good enough.

After coffee, Scamp went of to cheer up Isobel and I finished my Sudoku. An hour or so later the plumber arrived and declared that the problem wasn’t with the bit I was playing around with yesterday, but with the float valve (no, I don’t know what that is). He fitted a new one and the toilet now fills, stops and waits for the button to be pushed before emptying and repeating the cycle.

Speaking about cycles. Scamp arrived just as the plumber was leaving, so that gave me the opportunity to drive out to Wheelcraft. Got as far as Twechar and the first drops of rain appeared on the windscreen. They didn’t last and the sun came out. Then a mile or two down the road I drove into the next shower. It was like that all the way there. Place was mobbed as usual with a variety of bikes in various degrees of disassembly. There was even an expensive and complicated looking three wheeler recumbent. I really liked the look of that one, but I’d hate to be riding it with a big sixteen wheeler artic on my tail. Now Big Al may take a while to get round to fixing your wheel, but when you get it back, it looks like a totally new one, just out of the wrapping paper. Gladly paid him then asked if I could take a photo of him in his workshop. I’d brought my old Oly 5 with the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye lens. Ideal for making his work area look even more crowded than it already is. That was the PoD.

Not so much rain on the way back, so I set to and built the wheel back up with the brake disk and tyres on and was just thinking I’d go out for a quick test run when the sky darkened and we could hear the rain battering on the back window. Then hailstones started and I sadly put the bike back in the hall, hopeful that I might get to test out Big Al’s work tomorrow.

Today was Blackout Tuesday to mark the killing of George Floyd in America. All over social media black squares appeared. I added mine. I’m not political. I think Scamp has taught me that life isn’t black and white, it’s all shades of grey. I had never heard of George Floyd before the 25th May. He may have been a good man, he may have been a bad man. I don’t know. I don’t believe he was perfect. What I do know is that he shouldn’t have been killed, so that’s why I put my own black square on Facebook and Instagram. I didn’t post any pictures today, apart from here. Here is different, it’s another shade of grey. This is my site and I choose what content goes on here. That’s why there is a picture at the top of the page and that is why this paragraph is here too.

Tomorrow, the rain might stop.