One of those mixed days – 23 October 2020

A day that could have been lovely and one that could have been rained off. We took the chance.

Before anything else today I drew yesterday’s sketch which is now on yesterday’s post and I was happy with it. The theme was Chef, so the chef’s hat and knife are part and parcel of his or her trade.

If you just sit there and say “It might clear up”, it never will. We’ve learned that. Take the chance and seize the day. Scamp suggested we should go to Drumpellier and she was driving. It was the right thing to do. We had a walk round the loch. I think it’s big enough to call a loch, not a pond. Lots of people walking round the pond in ones and twos and even in groups of four, but we didn’t stop them to interview them on how many households were involved and was this their region. We leave that to the FM, should she dare to do such a thing. We must have been striding out at a fair pace, because we covered the distance in no time. We did stop a few times to watch the duck, geese and swans, oh yes and I took some photos too! Quite a few. There was nowhere to have a coffee or something to eat, because it’s Coatbridge and they don’t do hospitality. Everywhere was boarded up and barricaded. It’s a virus, not the return of the Visigoths! There was an ice cream van, but with a temperature hovering around 7ºc we passed on that option and Scamp drove us home.

Back home, after inspecting today’s photos and having lunch, I walked down to the shops to get some peas for tonight’s dinner via St Mo’s. Got another couple of decent shots there. Light was that lovely golden hour just before the sun truly sets. One of them almost made PoD, but it was beaten by a gull sitting on a sculpture of a whale’s tail, taken at Drumpellier.

After dinner we did a short ballroom practise ahead of tomorrows Zoom dance. We’re not absolutely certain sure that it’s going ahead, but it’s best to do a bit of practise just in case. We were both a bit rusty on the exact moves that were joined together to make the Waltz, but Scamp was on the button with the ‘ring a ring a roses’ dance she calls Sequence. We finished up with a fair chance of not making complete idiots of ourselves tomorrow, if the dance goes live.

Today’s sketch topic was Rip. I drew a pair of ripped jeans. Everyone has a pair, I think. They are usually the most comfortable pair you’ve ever worn and it’s not that you’re mean and don’t want to spend the money on a new pair. It’s just that it took you so long to get them as comfortable as this. They have character.
Fashionable ripped jeans are a totally different thing. Not worth talking about.

Tomorrow looks like rain. We may stay in at least in the morning.

More bad news – 7 October 2020

Nic the Chick gives us more grief.

Scamp was out for coffee this morning, she only had a few minutes to speak to Hazy, before she gave me a wave and was off. That left Hazy and me plenty of time to discuss books and life in general. Thanks for the website recommendations and and for jogging my memory about a missing book from my Becky Chambers collection. It’s now on my Kindle. Laughed out loud at the cat picture you posted on FB! Fair enjoyed our wee hour long chat.

After that, it was back to gathering together the stuff to go to the tip, after I’d tried and failed to kick my Iomega Zip drive back into life. My pal reckons it may be a dodgy power supply. Put back all the stuff I’d taken out of the cupboard in the room apart from the big heavy pile that was loitering in one of those enormous Ikea bags. That was going into the “Small Electrical” skip. The other smaller Tesco bag held the “Household Recycling” junk.

Had lunch when Scamp returned and then hauled the two bags off to the council skips. Drove up to Fannyside and parked in my usual place. Listened to Nic the Chick’s proposals to make our lives even more dull and uninteresting. Yes, I know she has our safety at heart, but this is not what you want to hear heading towards November. Pubs closed (doesn’t affect me). Restaurants closed (that does!). Recommended not to travel (won’t affect me). Went for a walk along the road and back again getting some fresh air and some lovely (for me) photos of the moody moor to match my mood. Drove over to Val’s and handed him a camera he has been wanting. Nice to feel you’re doing some good. I don’t use it and he will. That makes sense to me.

Came back home and then walked to the shops to get the makings of tonight’s dinner which was Bacon & Borlotti Beans, recipe courtesy of JIC and Sim. Scamp was chef tonight and she admits it wasn’t as good as the original, but it was close enough to be worth making again. Thank you pair for the recipe.

Today’s PoD was one of those moody moor shots, because I liked the sky. Today’s Inktober prompt was “Fancy” which I turned into “French Fancy”. I’m getting to like sketching on the Craft paper. It’s like using cheap pastel paper.

No plans for tomorrow. Scamp suggested we go to a pub before they all disappear for good. That’s perilously close to the truth.

The dream is gone – 5 October 2020

If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Today I took back the Sony A7. It was so nearly perfect, except I have the feeling it might have been bashed about by a few people before it met me. Scratches on the baseplate. A deep scratch on the border of the back screen. I could have lived with those. There was nothing there that my own collection doesn’t have in some fashion, but it also had lots and lots, I mean LOTS of baked-in spots on the sensor that I couldn’t shift with sensor swabs and sensor cleaning liquid, that was the final straw. I couldn’t live with that. It’s only a bargain if it’s worth more than you paid for it. This one wasn’t. So with a heavy heart I took it back to JL today and got my money back. However, before I took it back I did find out what that APS-C switch did. It worked. It automatically cropped off the bits the lens couldn’t cover. Nice work Sony.

After driving back home on a beautiful day and having lunch, I did my Sudoku and eventually dragged myself off to St Mo’s to take some pictures with my ‘old’ cameras. The ones with the clean(ish) sensors and fewer scratches. There wasn’t much worth photographing today, because the clouds had rolled in and the light was decidedly dull. I watched Mr Grey stalking something deep in the reed beds, but he was too far away even for the zoom of the TZ90. I did grab a few shots using the post focus trick, but again, the light wasn’t directional enough to make anything worthwhile of them, but it’s still a clever trick.

Spent a profitable half an hour after dinner sketching tonight’s Inktober topic which was ‘Blade’. Mine is a fairly direct interpretation of the prompt, but the clever ones were Blade(runner) and Blade, the Wesley Snipes character. They probably took hours to get just right. Mine was the rough for a more detailed piece, but as it was progressing it got better and better and I just liked it. So did Scamp. She gave me the greatest praise by saying she was wondering who had drawn it!

PoD was a mediocre St Mo’s landscape. I should have taken some time out this morning in Glasgow and gone for a walk, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

I hope some of you recognised the title of this blog which is the second last line from “Comfortably Numb” by Gilmour & Waters. Possibly the best Pink Floyd track ever.

No plans for tomorrow.

The Bin Man – 22 September 2020

Finally, if I get this blog posted, I will be up to date.

Scamp was out this morning meeting Isobel. That gave me a bare two hours to organise my PoDs, export them and then import them to Flickr, write up the remaining blog posts and combine them with the images and post those online. I managed to get almost all of that done while Scamp was gabbing chatting with Isobel and had time for a cup of coffee too.

We’d decided to make good on yesterday’s promise and go to Falkirk looking for a duvet cover and a fancy new kitchen bin. We went, we looked, we came back empty handed. On the way home we dropped in at B&Q and found a bin there for much less than they were selling them for in Falkirk. I went looking for a new dash cam in Halfords while Scamp went looking elsewhere for a duvet cover, again we returned empty handed, at least we had a new bin. Unfortunately the bin didn’t fit into the space the old one had lived in, so there was a bit of rearranging of the kitchen, but everything is now in place and working.

Went out late in the afternoon to post a card and to have a walk round St Mo’s. By the time I was getting there the light was all but gone. Not just the good light either, all the light was gone, it was like twilight had come early, although twilight actually arrived about 2pm today. It was just one of those days. PoD became a picture of a late blooming dog rose rescued by using HDR (don’t ask what HDR is. JIC goes crazy when I start talking in Technospeak.) It’s not great, but it was the best of a bad lot today.

Remember yesterday I was being Bob the Builder? Tonight one of the real builders trundled up in a mini JCB to level off Scott’s garden. He did in about an hour what Scott had been trying to do in three weeks in his spare time. No barrowing needed today. Technology did the grunt work.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Hamilton for lunch. For an hour and a half we can pretend that Covid happened somewhere else.

On the road again – 18 September 2020

There’s not much you can say about going home after a great week.

We had to be out of the house by 10am and we just made it. Both cars packed, we said our goodbyes and drove off.

Journey north was uneventful, with only one stop at Gretna Village, a retail opportunity, you might call it. That’s now what I called it. I just called it a chance to stretch my legs. Scamp took the (retail) opportunity to buy a cheap(ish) hand towel to test alongside our normal towels to see if it would be worthwhile buying some bath towels from that make. Only time (and Scamp) have the answer.

Back home with some fuel still left in the tank. Not a lot, but on our travels we’d travelled just over 375 miles and still had about 90 miles left in the tank from the petrol we’d filled up with last Friday. That’s a lot better than the Juke would have had.

PoD was a view from the same window I took last Friday’s PoD from. I like to be symmetrical when I can.

Tomorrow I do not intend to do any driving.

The Grand Tour – 16 September 2020

Today the walkers were going ‘up the spout’ again. We were heading for Ullswater to find another waterfall, Aira Force.

We set off on our travels, off the narrow roads and on to the busy A66. Found Ullswater quite easily with the help of the satnav. The scenery looked interesting but the roads are narrow and twisty, so there wasn’t much of a chance to admire the views. Tried to park at Aira Force carpark, but it was a waste of time. Too many cars which meant far too many people, so we drove on to see where we would get to. Decided on Kendal which we hadn’t been to and we’d be driving on narrow roads again which are so much more interesting than the wide ‘A’ roads.

Climbed the Kirkstone Pass which I’m sure we’d driven before, many years ago. Stopped at the top to take the view you see here. I remembered that view looking down the pass to Brothers Water in the distance. Since I’d not had a chance to photograph the big waterfall at Cautley on either of our visits, I did manage a few slow shutter shots of a wee stream at the top of the pass.

Drove on from Kirkstone Pass, down the other side and took the turning to Kendal. Wandered round the town and then found an interesting restaurant called Comida which is Spanish for Food. Scamp had poached eggs on toast, I had poached eggs on toast with spreadable Chorizo and a side of Padron peppers to share, although Scamp wasn’t impressed with the peppers. She did however order some churros which came with a glass of hot chocolate sauce and were delicious. It was an excellent lunch and we’d definitely go there again if we’re in the Lakes.

Followed the satnav after an argument with it, but eventually had to give in and “perform a ‘U’ turn when possible”. Came back through Kirkby Stephen and stopped at the Coop for more provisions. JIC and Sim were cooking tonight. Naked Fish and Carrot Chips! Sounded interesting and was. Very tasty. JIC did a great job of cooking the fish. We really need to try this at home. Carrot chips could be the next big thing.

Another beautiful day weatherwise.  Sat at night in the living room listening to the gunfire and explosions from the army camp a couple of miles away.  Skies lit up with flares over the ‘battlefield’.  I don’t know how the locals put up with the constant noise.

Tomorrow the walkers are off to Wild Boar Fell and we are hoping to do the Viaduct Walk in KS.

Kirkby Stephen on our own – 14 September 2020

The other two were off climbing mountains, we were being tourists, in the sun.

Parked at the car park JIC had used on Saturday and then headed along the main street, which didn’t take very long. There wasn’t much to see. Walked back and had a look through the Cloisters, went through and had a look at the old church behind them. Took the path round the lawn and then exited on to the path that took us over Frank’s Bridge. Don’t know who Frank was, but he made a good job of the bridge. The air was full of the buzzing of bees in the bushes beside the bridge. A few butterflies too. Lots of ducks swimming in the River Eden underneath, but we didn’t have time for ducks. Instead we were following the path we’d travelled a couple of days before, except …

Except, instead of turning right after crossing a bridge over a stream and climbing up, up, up, we turned left and followed the stream past pretty houses whose gardens ran right down to the stream. How brilliant that would be to have a stream at the end of your garden, until it floods, then it might be a different story. We walked on and took a left turn at what seemed to be the end of the village. That eventually took us round past the cricket ground back to Frank’s Bridge. Took some photos of the ducks in the river under the bridge and watched a dog called Betty charging into the water and scaring the living daylights out of the ducks. I know this is boring, and means nothing to you, but remember whose blog this is!

Back in the town again it looked like there had been a funeral because lots of people dressed in black and the men with black ties had commandeered all the tables in the café Scamp wanted to have lunch in. Instead, we had a lunch in a Costa across the street. After a toastie and a coffee for me and a millionaire’s shortbread and latte for Scamp we crossed the road again. Scamp bought a sieve for fishing out poached eggs (that’s the best description I can muster) from an ironmongers. Then we found a deli where I got some marmalade that didn’t taste as home-made as it was advertised and a couple of russets, plus some veg for tonight’s risotto. Walked to the car, drove to the Coop and got some nice beer Lost Lager, plus other stuff, as usual when in foreign climes.

Drove home, to our home for the week. I’d bought a sim card for my old iPhone and spent a lost half an hour trying to get it to accept my credit card details to top-up Eventually I got exasperated and after checking with my bank that I hadn’t been spoofed out of my worldly goods, I shut the phone down. Thank you ‘Kenneth’ from O2 customer help who did his level best to get me sorted out. Went outside into the sunshine and while Scamp read, I sketched Pinfold Cottage where we are staying.

Dinner tonight was Prawn & Pea Risotto, cooked by Scamp.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go back to the waterfall, but this time we’re taking the more leisurely route.

Ready for the off – 11 September 2020

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the party to begin.

Not exactly a party, but the start of a week in Engeland! We were leaving around 2pm to coordinate with JIC and Sim who would be leaving earlier, except, as usually happens, they were delayed, but we left around 2pm anyway, because we were excited and ready for a fun-filled week in the North Yorkshire Moors. Even the very name reminds me of The Slaughtered Lamb pub. Nah, it will be fine. Anyway, it was a chance to test out the new Micro, ‘Blue’ to put it through its paces and hopefully achieve a better mpg than the Red Juke was capable of.

We drove through the rain and little bits of sunshine all the way down until we nearly reached Penrith, that’s when the traffic started backing up on the slow lane of the M6, hundreds of yards before the first countdown marker for the exit. We didn’t mind all that much, we had plenty of time. The problem was two different diversions, both of them funnelling traffic into the exit we were taking. Coupled to that, it was Friday, early finishing day for work and school so once you’d factored that in, it was really surprising that only half an hour after we met the holdup, we were back on our way again after forcing our way through two roundabouts of merging traffic. Not an easy thing to do in a nearly new car with folk thinking they could cram you out of the way because you don’t want to scratch a new car, do you? I didn’t, but I hate queue jumpers too. So I did what I usually do in these cases and drove even slower to make them wait.

Got to the house and were just investigating the rooms when JIC and Sim arrived. That holdup had balanced our times so they weren’t that late after all. I’d grabbed the garage as our parking place to leave room for their Volvo. Only fair, I thought. To the winner, the spoils.

The PoD was the view from the upstairs lounge. As you might just be able to see, it was still raining.

Weather fairies say the weather will improve tomorrow. Let’s hope so.

The Teacher and the Teacher – 9 September 2020

Out after a quick coffee this morning to meet John.

Drove to Chatelherault to meet John. We were going for a walk in the Chatelherault Estate to talk about cameras, apertures, shutter speeds and the mysteries of ISOs. Things I’ve been using for years and years, but never really had the chance to explain to anyone. Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve talked about them to lots of folk, but very few of them listened. Even fewer understood a word I said. Someone said of photogs, that they could conduct an entire conversation using just letters and numbers. I’m not sure that’s entirely correct, but there is a semblance of truth in it.

We started off going over the Duke’s Bridge and on past Cadzow Castle which is pretty much a ruin now. It would appear that the restoration has hit a roadblock, judging by the fact that nature has more or less covered the scaffolding that was erected about ten years ago. John took us up to the Cadzow Oaks which are much more impressive than the ruined castle. They are reckoned to be over 800 years old and as someone commented, they look like how you’d imagine Ents to look in The Hobbit. They surround an area of earthworks that may have been the groundwork for a castle that would predate Cadzow Castle and may have been Roman in origin.

Ah, but we weren’t out to do historical stuff, we were there to take photos. The weather was mixed. While we were sitting talking beside the oaks the light was constantly changing, making it difficult to get any decent shots. That’s my excuse anyway. I tried to explain the basics of exposure, using the triangle of Aperture, Shutter speed and ISO. I don’t know if I covered it all that well and I’m sure I didn’t explain it as lucidly as I’d have liked, but it was a decent day, and we were out for a walk. While we were photographing leaves and moss on an old (not oak) log a woman stopped to comment on the shapes the lichen was making. She had a dog with her. A white dog with a face like a lamb. When I got home that’s how I described it to Mr Google and he informed me it was a Bedlington Terrier. We, John and I went for coffee and a cake before we parted company. He was determined to walk home, I was driving.

Got a bit of a fright on the M73 passing a Land Rover which was tootling along doing about 50mph while I was in the outside land doing a neat 70mph. Then the Land Rover started sliding across into my lane. Whoever was driving must have seen me at the last minute and swerved back into their lane as I took evasive action. In my rear view mirror I saw them indicate and fishtail onto the hard shoulder. Glad of the dash cam which caught the incident nicely! The clip is now downloaded just in case.

Dinner tonight was chicken stir fry made by Scamp of course. I don’t do stir fry. I won’t say can’t I can, just not as good as Scamp. After that we watched the final episode of Series 3 of Line Of Duty. Irritatingly, halfway through it I remembered how it ended. It didn’t detract from the build up though.

PoD was of ivy growing on the Juke’s Bridge at Chatelherault.

Tomorrow we may go to Glasgow, just for the run and the dash cam will be on!

Back in the old routine – 8 September 2020

Going for the messages in Blue.

I drove to Stirling today with Scamp. We were heading for Waitrose ‘for the messages’. The sky was dull with occasional attempts at rain, but nothing that you could really call precipitation. Parked at Waitrose and walked in to Stirling town (it’s not a real city, even if Mrs McQueen says it is). I went to M&S and Scamp went to Debenhams both for different reasons. Met up again in the Thistle Centre and decided Nero was too busy and Costa was too dark and gloomy, so we went to HSBC to get some English money. I couldn’t tell you the last time I used a ‘hole in the wall’ machine. Some time in early March I think. Thankfully I remembered my pin.

On the walk back we stopped as we usually do to look in the picture gallery.  This shop usually has some good and some not so good artistic works.  However, we’ve neither of us seen anything to match the clumsy painting of a girl and a dog.  I think it’s downright dangerous to give a toddler oil paints to play with.  This ‘painting’ was priced at £450.  Unless, of course the decimal point wasn’t working on the computer used to print the price tag!

I think we did actually buy Waitrose this time. It was really just a test to see how much we could cram into the Micra boot. The answer was quite a lot, or maybe even Too Much! However, at least we got to walk round a fairly quiet shop pushing a trolley. Won’t need a Tesco delivery this week or next.

Came home and I tried to install the supposedly brilliant Nissan Connect Services which is a phone app that can do all sorts of wonderful things. I’d tried and failed to get the last one to work on the Juke. This one was no better. Got as far as creating an account, then things went belly up. You can scan in the VIN from the plate on the windscreen, but the app says it’s wrong. You can scan the VIN from the door upright, but the app says it’s wrong. You can type it in, but … Nothing I did worked, then I read the comments on this 1.2 star app. Almost everyone had the same problem, apart from the obvious ‘ringers’ who said it worked perfectly. With so many people having the same problem, you’d think a warning light would come on for the developers, but that doesn’t appear to be the case. Another lost opportunity, Nissan.

Took my frustrations out on St Mo’s with a couple of circuits of the pond. Not a lot of light at all by 4.30pm. My PoD was a sideways look at a spider on its web, getting bounced about in the breeze.

Beef burger for dinner. What Scamp had dubbed an Artisan Burger. I’d made it myself, with my own fair hands and a pound of mince. It needed salt, but otherwise it was fine. Scamp had a piece of salmon and we both had some of those Home Grown and Artisan Charlotte potatoes. So, a hand-made dinner.

Thought I’d have to de-coke the coffee maker. Orange steam light flashing away apparently means de-scale. I managed to get the light to go out by resetting the water softness setting. Hope that keeps the orange light at bay.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to meet John at Chatelherault outside Hamilton for a walk and a chat about photography and cameras. ‘Hoping’ because it’s torrential rain and high winds here just now.