Getting ready for the show – 29 August 2019

I thought all I had to do was stick a couple of photos in frames, but for the artist there’s always more things to do.

After talking to Hazy on the phone for half an hour or so and catching up with all the Wimbledon gossip, I was fairly sure I was ready to start the picture framing.
I was reusing old picture frames for my submissions to the flower show. The painting was all framed up yesterday, so today was the photos. Didn’t like the photos bare in the frames, so decided to cut a couple of mats to clean up the presentation. Those looking at the photos wouldn’t notice, but I would. Couldn’t find my mat cutter, couldn’t find a ruler, the Stanley knife was blunt. I just wasn’t prepared properly, sooo.

  • Clear a space.
  • Find the tools and get them organised.
  • Agree with myself on mat colours and then off we go.

Didn’t actually take that long once I was sorted. Happy with the results, it was time for lunch.

After lunch and under supervision by Scamp, I pressed the waistcoat using her fancy super-zoomer steam iron with the separate steam generator. Now I see why she bought it. It simply does an excellent job, and if I could get almost all the creases out of the fabric, then it must be good. Thanks Scamp!

After that it was off to Colin’s in torrential rain to get the photos, painting and handicraft (because there isn’t a separate category for Waistcoats made by a Man in the show), so I’ll be up against all the macrame, crochet and knitwear. Not that I’m competitive, like! Got some of Colin’s home grown tomatoes while I was there, then it was off to Tesco for some provisions.

Back home and Scamp was looking and sounding better. Maybe it’s the painkillers starting to work or maybe it’s the actual pain easing. It’s hard to tell after just a couple of days, but I’m happy it’s an improvement on yesterday.

I think I may be saying ‘Goodbye’ to the Linx laptops. Windows 10 is just taking all the joy out of them. Last night I was trying, and managing to download a large file from my NAS drive. When I checked on the progress I found the cheery message

”Lets get you back on track”

Windows 10 had halted the download to display this big blue message box informing me that it was about to re-install the update I’d removed before we went on holiday. It’s not meant to do that. It’s meant to return the OS to the previous (working) version, not the bloatware it had just installed. I give up. Because of the weird bootsector on the Linx, I can’t install Linux and be done with it, which would be the sensible solution in this situation. I’m stuck with this half-arsed, laughingly poor operating system. I’ll wipe the drive. Remove the micro SD card and sell the lump of plastic to someone who appreciates an OS that interrupts you every month or so to do what it pleases, not what you want.

PoD is a wee wet flower in St Mo’s this afternoon. Just missing the rain.

Tomorrow we may drive through the rain to Larky to visit Crawford & Nancy – in the morning.

The anaesthetic effects of Dancin’ – 28 August 2019

Today Scamp was just a little bit better. I was concerned that dancing might maybe too demanding, but on the other hand it could just take her mind off the pain.

Jive first, and because we were the only beginners there, it was a private lesson. Really useful. Learned a new move although the name “Shuffle Ball Change” does need a rethink in my opinion! Then a bit of wash and brush up for the waltz and quickstep routines. The hour just flies by sometimes.

When we were walking along for a coffee and a discussion of today’s progress, I had to stop and photograph the Devil Duke of Wellington whose dark mask had slipped, exposing his glowing ‘devil eyes’. It might just have been a trick of the light or it could have been something more sinister. Take a look at the pic on Flickr and make your own mind up. It didn’t make PoD. That went to a shot I took this morning of a rose I accidentally cut down. when I was pruning the rambling rose round the back door yesterday.

Macaroni & Cheese for dinner! Quite excellent! Then it was time to go out to Salsa. Two classes with lots of new and reprised moves. Great fun as usual with Jamie G’s classes.

JIC phoned to say that his birthday tee shirt had arrive and fitted. After Scamp’s story of woe, however, he did comment that he should have washed if first with all these stories of Norovirus!

Scamp looked exhausted tonight and eventually admitted that she had probably done too much dancing, but that it had indeed taken her mind off the itch from some beastie bites and the pain from her ‘stitch’. So it was most likely the best thing to do in the circumstances.

Tomorrow I have to get the photos and stuff packaged ready for Colin’s Flower Show. He says he’s resigned from it, but I know that he’ll still be keeping a weather eye on proceedings.

Curry, Dragons and a Comma – 24 August 2019

Hamilton for a curry, nowhere to park in Strathaven, but beasties at Drumgrew. That’s the synopsis, here’s the detail.

Drove to Hamilton to have a curry in Bombay Cottage. Now if my brother hadn’t mentioned going there about a year ago, I’d wouldn’t have remembered this was my favourite eating place in South Lanarkshire. Thankfully he did and we’ve been going regularly since. Chicken Tikka for me today to replace my usual Chicken Rogan Josh. Not as good as the CRG, but the curry sauce was far more tasty than anything I’ve had elsewhere.

We’d nowhere to go after that, so I suggested we should drive up to Strathaven to see if any of the balloons were flying. Bad move. Nowhere to park in the town and it looked as if most of the folk were parking in a farmer’s field about two miles from the park where the balloons were supposed to be. We didn’t stop. I’d seen the balloons before and it’s impressive, but not worth the two mile walk along a single track road that’s advertised as having passing places. The ’s’ in ’places’ makes it sound as if there are more than one passing place. This is a case of bad advertising I think. So we drove back into Strathaven and got some petrol for the thirsty Juke and then drove home in 24º which isn’t bad for the latter half of August in Scotland.

Scamp had decided to top up her tan in the garden when we got back and I was thinking I might take the Dewdrop out to see if there were any brambles worth picking. It looks like I was about a week early as there were very few in my favourite places. I got about 250g which is very poor. Hopefully today’s sun and the rain that’s forecast for the beginning of next week fatten up the berries I’ll get some next weekend.

What I did get was some photos of a Comma butterfly, so called because of the white ‘comma’ shape on its underwing. I also grabbed a shot of a Common Darter dragonfly feeding on a grass flower head. So not a wasted afternoon after all. Sat for an hour in the garden afterwards with Scamp, drinking Staropramen and pretending we were in a little café in Hvar.

Tomorrow looks like it will be more of the same, hopefully. That would be nice. May go to raid a garden centre!

More rain, more drizzle, then sunshine – 28 July 2019

It rained in the morning, but my weather app said rain would stop at 1.30pm and it did.

Yes, it did stop then, and the sun shone for a while, but it wasn’t really trying very hard.

It was a day of not doing much apart from clearing up after last night and writing yesterday’s blog. Sometimes you just have to admit it and play catch-up. Hardly went past the door for most of the day. Took the chance of a bright spell and grabbed some photos in the garden. Front garden shots were best today, especially the PoD of a hover fly on an Eryngium Planum (Sea Holly).

Other than that, it was preparations in the afternoon and watching an amazingly interesting F1 GP from Germany where it looked like there wouldn’t be enough cars left to form a quorum for the podium.

Spoke to JIC in the evening and got up to date on all things going on in Cambridgeshire.

Tomorrow we have no real plans, apart from intending to go dancing at the STUC in the evening.

The Merchant City Festival – 25 July 2019

A day for celebration in more ways than one.

In the morning, we spoke to Hazy for a while and hopefully took her mind of the rising temperature in London. Then, while Scamp was out being made even more beautiful, I cut five buttonholes in the LEFT side of the waistcoat. I reminded myself that it was the LEFT side every time I picked it up, just in case of last minute errors. Then I carefully hand sewed the buttons on to the right side, carefully, because I’d pushed a needle into my thumb a few times when I was practising this skill. No blood was spilt this time and when I finally stitched the belt buckle to the back of the waistcoat, it was finished. Not only that, but it fitted too with just an inch or so to spare around the waist. One happy bunny. Well, actually two happy bunnies because I think Scamp was almost as happy as me when she returned and saw the finished article.

After a quick lunch we went for a walk down the Luggie in the hopes that there would be a breeze to cool us, because it was extremely hot. Over 30ºc in Scotland it simply ridiculous. It wasn’t much cooler, but we did walk the length of the. Luggie and I got some photos, but none of them made PoD. That came later.

When we got back we took a trip in to Glasgow to see the start of the Merchant City Festival. We’ve been for at least the last two years and it’s always been fun. Today wasn’t. There was supposed to be a parade, but it seemed that three or four groups of performers were strutting their stuff along the street, posing for photos from anyone holding anything that looked like a camera. I took a few, but my favourite, and PoD was a candid of a woman whose expression said that she didn’t want to be there. Maybe it was just that I’d caught a fleeting glance, or maybe she was as bored as I was. Bumped into Kul (Kulwinder) who we haven’t seen for years. Also caught up with Mhairi who had a stall in the handicrafts area. The whole street area was as congested as it usually was, but where were the little icons, like the Cavemen from three (?) years ago? Where were the Mr Mackintoshes with their chairs from last year? No sign of the scary French-type dancers who we’re sure were part of Christine & The Queens group. The whole event seemed a bit flat. On the way out we bumped into one last salsa dancer. We don’t know her name, but she’s John’s partner, dance partner at least if not life partner. Crazy in a good way.

Back home we had a fish supper each for dinner and prepared to be melted during the night. Wish we’d bought a fan!

What a Gay Day Glasgow Style – 20 July 2019

We were going in to Glasgow to meet up with Jackie and Murdo around midday.  The Glasgow Gay Pride march was on and it seemed a shame not to take some photos.

Drove in to Glasgow and went for a walk down Bucky Street to catch a glimpse of the Glasgow Pride march.  After the disappointment of the Embra one, which wasn’t very gay and showed little pride, we hoped Glasgow would be a bit more enthusiastic.  It didn’t disappoint.

We saw about half the marchers walking along past the Tron Church and then on to George Square.  There was no comparison with the watered down Embra parade.  Here there was music, whistles, bands and sunshine.  Although the weather fairies had predicted rain, none came, but the sun did.  Stood watching for about half an hour and then wandered round George Square getting more photos.  PoD went to the flag waver at the top of the page.

Met up with the Skye folk in JL and drove  us all home.  Spent the afternoon sitting chatting.  Lots to catch up with and all the time in the world to do it.  Other than that we didn’t do much.  June, the other sister didn’t manage to come over to join the chat, but that was her loss.  They return to Skye tomorrow, getting the 10am bus.

We may go dancing later in the afternoon.

No Fillings Today, Mum – 18 July 2019

No fillings, just a bit of grinding away at an old filling and then a coat of varnish on some well worn teeth.

Still, no fillings and therefore, no injections.  Totally painless.

Nothing planned for the rest of the day, but that was just as well as  the weather was what the weather fairies call “mixed” when they either don’t know or don’t want to tell you what they do know.  There was going to be some wet stuff, that was for sure.  Settled for cutting out the last pieces of material and preparing for the final assembly.  Then I got fed up with it all and after lunch I went out to take some photos.  With a bit more of a breeze blowing the clouds around today I reckoned I could manage to get a 60 frame time lapse shot in between showers, so I drove up to the parking place behind Fannyside Lochs and set up the tripod.  For a change, I used the Samyang 7.5 to get a wider view and therefore more drama in  the cloudscape.  Got everything set up and took the first set of frames.  It was when I was watching the movie on the screen that I realised I’d be in the shot because I’d gone for a walk instead of just standing around watching the frames count down.  Also, there wasn’t a very interesting landscape, so for the next set I moved the tripod to a place that was more sheltered, gave a more interesting view and where I wouldn’t walk into shot.  That one looked better, but  the cloudscape was better in the first one.  Just got packed up when the first spits and spots of rain came.  Drove to Tesco to buy the makings of dinner which was to be Crispy Paprika Chicken with Tomatoes and Lentils.

With that in the bag, I drove over to a wee back road to Kirkintilloch to try for version 3 of the time lapse, but it wasn’t quite right for the TL.  Instead I cobbled together a panorama using six frames shot in portrait format for later joining in Lightroom.  Happier with that, I headed home, knowing in my heart of hearts that the pano would make PoD and that perhaps the time lapse is now out of my system. Drove back through torrential rain.  Got to the house and the sun came out!  Dinner was a partial success.  I liked it and although Scamp agreed, she also made some suggestions for next time.  The key phrase is “Next Time”.  So it wasn’t a total failure, just a work in progress.  Thinner cut fennel slices and no water cress.  I think she might be right.

That was about it for the day.  Word had come in during the afternoon that Jackie and Murd will be staying overnight on Saturday, so some tidying up and general reorganization will be needed in the tailor’s shop upstairs.  That may take up a fair bit of tomorrow’s time. Other than that, we have no great plans for Friday.

 

Home Time – 15 June 2019

Time to say our goodbyes and point the Juke’s red nose north.

Up about 7am and got the last of the stuff packed into the juke’s boot. Wished everyone a safe journey home and headed for Aberystwyth one last time go stock up on essentials before we set the sat nav for Home.

Drove through some beautiful countryside I’m told, although I didn’t see much of it. I was two busy watching the grey asphalt run under our tyres. Saw a friendly group of cyclists going our way and a load of others with racing numbers on their bikes going the other way. I didn’t envy them their run through the mountains. Stopped at Chester services and grabbed two clean shots of an Airbus Beluga. It must be the ugliest aircraft ever built. Only had my iPhone to record the shot, but at least I got it. That wasn’t the best shot of the day. PoD went to a shot taken from the house looking up through the garden to Sim taking her last shots of the landscape round the house, and there was blue sky and sunshine too.

The rest of the journey was uneventful and we arrived home in sunshine at around 5pm

Tomorrow will be a lazy day. No driving.

Venison, Dancers and that railway walk again – 14 June 2019

Time to get your feet wet!

JIC and Sim were off into Aberystwyth for supplies so we had the morning to do as we pleased. Heavy rain last night had swollen the burn that runs down the side of the house, that meant it was just screaming out for a slow-shutter series of photos. Dragged the tripod out of the car and got started. About fifty shots later I was done. It was one of the fifty that got PoD. I got my boots wet, but thankfully my feet stayed dry.

Time to start prepping for tonight’s dinner which would be Venison Casserole. We’d brought the slow-cooker with us along with a kilo of venison from the butcher in Muirhead. There would be nine for dinner tonight. Eight for venison with Scamp preferring he non-meat ‘Rats’. Nine in total because Madeleine had invited an old school friend of hers with her husband to spend the day with them and have dinner. That’s why I was prepping the casserole just before lunch.

After the slow cooker was doing its thing, and lunch had been served to Madeleine and her guests, we minions left for one last long walk. This time we were going all the way along the railway before turning up the hill and heading for high ground where we hoped we’d get a good view. We got to the end of the railway and started to turn up the hill when Sim called a halt. There were bullocks and cows in the field we were in and she didn’t know how Vixen would react to them, so we turned round and went all the way down the hill towards a river ford. About three quarters of the way down we heard a dog barking. Again we stopped while an expeditionary force went to investigate. We couldn’t find any sign of dogs, but there were a couple of houses and everyone down here seemed to have dogs of some description, so we aborted that route and headed back along the railway line then up that bloody hill again.

Madeleine was holding court in the kitchen when we got back and after we’d got cleaned up and changed, we finalised the cooking of the dinner while they chatted noisily in the background. Dinner was well received, as well it should have been. Then we found out that we had a lot in common with the two visitors. He, Peter, had been a college lecturer and head of department. Both he and Alison were ballroom and Latin dancers. We shared tales of Fishtails and Turkish Towels. Overall it was a good night. After that it was time to start the packing and we really got most of it done with just enough time left for a last drink with no TV, then it was time for bed and a long drive for all of us the tomorrow.

Another walk for everyone – 13 June 2019

Today the forecast wasn’t too clear, so we went for a shorter walk, closer to home, then yet another for the hardy.

Before we left, Jaime showed us his amazing darts prowess.  He’d managed to get two darts in the outer ring of the bull and the final one in  the bull itself.  Quite astounding from a man who couldn’t get all three darts in the board yesterday!  Some would doubt him and say he’d set it up, but who could be so mean hearted?

JIC and Sim were the nominated drivers and they took all seven of us, eight if you include Vixen a couple of miles along the road to a forest walk along the river. It was a pleasant enough walk without any hills, but with some boggy bits. Vixen seemed to enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate her swimming skills in the river, although the water was fairly rushing down and quite brown. I got a second chance at photographing the red and black insect we’d seen earlier in the week. It turned out to be a froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata). We also came across a little lizard which Scamp got some good photos of and so did I. PoD went to the long lazy drip sliding off a fern frond. I’m thinking it might have been a slug or snail trail that had attracted the rain water. Looked quite remarkable anyway.

Back home for lunch and then JIC, Sim, Sophie and us were off again. This time to investigate the old railway line halfway down the road from the house. It’s a steep decline to the bridge over the railway and I wasn’t looking forward to the climb back up! We walked part of the way along, but as we were cooking tonight, we decided not to go the full stretch of the path and came back early. I was right. The climb back up the road to the house was hard work, but we made it without stopping.

Dinner tonight was Fish and Egg Curry. An unlikely combination that actually works very well.