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A clean bill of health – 14 June 2017

Out to the docs this morning for the results of my blood test. Everything was fine. The sister asked me if I keep active. I said I did, but didn’t tell her about the wee man on my wrist who pops up every day at ten minutes to the hour and encourages me to “Go for a stroll”.

Scamp and I went to lunch at Cotton House, Chinese / Thai restaurant. We were pretty sure we’d get a table, but went early, just in case. We were only the second couple there when we went in, but by the time we were leaving around 1pm the place was 75% full. Very popular is Cotton House. We were boring today and had Spring Rolls to start and then Chicken Chow Mein.

On the way home we went to B&Q for yet more garden stuff and other odds and ends and that’s where I saw and captured the bronze beetle, shining in the sun.

When we got back Scamp noticed that Hazy had phoned and we talked for nearly an hour about this and that. It was good to have a wee chat while Scamp laboured hard cutting the front grass.

Salsa tonight was a bit low key with very few beginners in the first class and not enough girls in the second. Shannon had to encourage a few of the girls from her class to join in, but that wasn’t really fair because they weren’t experienced enough to enjoy the moves. I think there will be a few classes combining in the next few weeks. It always happens in the summer.

Watched an interesting documentary about Billy Connolly being painted and photographed to celebrate his 75th birthday. Worth a watch on iPlayer.

Today’s sketch is a W&N Indian Ink bottle. I like it because of the highlights that make it look like glass.

Tomorrow is Coffee with Fred day, while Scamp goes galavanting to Falkirk.

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Before Ten? Ok Boss – 1 June 2017

Contrary to what we expected, it was dull, but dry this morning.  While Scamp did some washing, I started today’s Sudoku.  Each to his (or her) own.

Later, Scamp started to defrost the freezer.  With two of us on it, we did actually get it done a bit quicker.  Then we had to decide what would go back in.  The oldest item we found was a set of pork ribs dating to 2015.  They were a no-brainer, they had to go, in fact they almost walked to the bin themselves.  The rest was more difficult, but we did create some space by dumping some of the older bits and pieces.  Some space that could accommodate a couple of tubs of ice cream if only we had some.  If only we had a reason to got to the ice cream shop in Muirhead.  Scamp decided it would be good to go out to lunch and I decided to go to a tiny wee garden centre and cafe at Johnston Loch which is about two miles from the ice cream shop.  Sorted.

Lunch was a simple toastie, a panini and a couple of pots of tea.  Then we went to the ice cream shop for Toffee & Fudge for Scamp and Strawberries & Cream for me.

With the freezer replenished and the rain starting to get serious, we headed for home.  I went for a wet walk to St Mo’s and got the photo you see above.  Not brilliant, but given that it was taken at ISO 5000, it ain’t at all bad.

Spoke to JIC on the phone tonight and he asked for the blog to be up by 10pm.  Hope this is what the doctor ordered!

One last thing.  I know it’s after the 10pm curfew, but here goes.
I’ve become lax with sketching recently.  In an attempt to jolt myself back to inky fingers again I’ve started J’ Ink 17 J’ Ink 17 is short for June Ink 2017. A challenge to  myself to do at least one sketch, drawing, painting etc. a day for the month of June.’   This is day one.

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I’ve got the shakes – 30 May 2017

It stared dull today, but it did get better.

This morning it didn’t look as if it was going to get better and by midday it was getting decidedly rainy.  Before that we’d done a bit of tidying up in the garden.  Chopped down the part of the rose that runs above the back door.  It’s been getting more and more straggly, so it had to happen sooner or later.  It happened today.  It looked a bit odd to start with, but hopefully it will force some growth into the part that runs up the side of the door.

We drove out in the rain to get the makings of tonight’s dinner at ASDA and stopped by Costa for a quick bite of lunch.  Came home and the weather started clearing up.  Took some photos in the garden, but they just didn’t work out.  May try again tomorrow.

Decided a walk over to St Mo’s would be good, so took the whole Oly / Teazer kit with me.  I wasn’t convinced that the anti-shake was doing anything.  I’m convinced now.  I switched off the anti-shake and took a couple of shots.  Actually, I didn’t need to take any, it was enough just to see the effect through the viewfinder.  Heaven knows what it would be like holding the camera at arm’s length like you do when you just have a viewing screen.  The anti-shake will now stay on at all times.  There wasn’t much to see or to photograph.  I did see some damselflies, but the wind was quite gusty and they were getting blown about too much.  No chance of a close-up with any camera.  Gave up and came home.

Scamp’s sister came in as I was getting the dinner ready (Cod and Smoked Paprika Chowder).  It was really good.  Now June has arrived too, so I’m in self-imposed exile in the front bedroom to get some peace and quiet to write the blog you’re reading.

Tomorrow?  Sewing class at JL.  Should be interesting.

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The May Is Oot – 19 May 2017

It’s been a bit of a flower centred week.  Since Tuesday there seems to be nothing but flower pictures imprinted on the CCDs of my cameras.

Today we welcome summer to Scotland with the Old Scots saying “Ne’er cast a cloot until May is oot.”  Which translates to english as “Don’t discard your winter clothes until the may (hawthorn) is in bloom.” Today’s PoD was of a cluster of hawthorn blossom frothing from a bush.  I had actually gone to this spot on the Antonine Way to try out the Teazer’s ability to produce a panorama in-camera which it did and also to check its in camera time-lapse ability which I failed to achieve.  Maybe I need to read the instruction book.  READ THE INSTRUCTIONS for what is basically a little point ’n’ shoot camera?  I think not!  Instruction books are for noobs.  Look, I paid good money for this camera and all its fancy modes, so it should deliver them without the need for an instruction book.  What is the camera world coming to?  It failed, in other words.  I didn’t fail, it failed.  Fin.

Made the strangest bread this morning because Scamp’s dad’s cousin was coming for dinner and she is a coeliac.  I’d never made a gluten free loaf before and when the instruction started with “beat two egg whites with two teaspoons of sugar, one teaspoon of vinegar, one teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of oil and 400ml of water”  I thought ’What is going on here?’.  However, I followed the instructions and the bread rose and was baked for the required 55min.  That’s twice the time a ‘normal’ loaf takes.  Even stranger, it looked like a cake rather than a loaf when all was done, BUT it tasted like a loaf.  Like a pan loaf and it had risen perfectly.  No soggy bottom and Isobel who has is an expert on gluten free loaves gave it her seal of approval.  She got the remainder of the loaf away with her.  I may try it again, even with its strange very white flour (that isn’t really flour) and beaten egg whites.

Scamp, June and Isobel were going to a concert in Glasgow afterwards and I was nominated driver.  When I came home I tried an install of Lightzone which is a very able Lightroom clone.  It’s free as in legally free and is cross-platform which means it works on the Mac and also on the Win 10 tablet because it has 32bit architecture.  It’s not as polished as Lightroom and doesn’t do the cataloging that is at the heart of the Adobe prog, but it’s a great piece of software.  Best of all, out of the box, it supports the Panasonic RAW files the Teazer produces.  Amazing what a little piece of free software can do.

Tomorrow?  More Teazer Testing, but I refuse to read the instructions.

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Rain – 15 May 2017

Another day of welcome rain … for the garden.

Today seemed to vanish in a flash.  After breakfast, I tidied up my sewing materials and got organised upstairs.  Scamp’s ladies were coming in for a rehearsal in the afternoon and I could either go to the gym, go for a swim or start making up the boxer shorts kit Hazy had given me for my birthday.

Before that, lunch was  the order of the day and for that we were having omelettes filled with the Oyster Mushrooms JIC had given me for my birthday, so it was a sort of Birthday Celebration Day.  The omelettes were first and they were superb.  Oyster mushrooms have quite a nutty taste, but Scamp didn’t seem to mind.  The compost is resting now for 10 days before I restart it to provide a second flush of edible fungi.

After lunch, it was time to follow the instructions, something I’m not usually prone to do, and get the pants sorted out.  Once I was started, it wasn’t quite as bad as I had anticipated.  Half way through the stitching, I thought the finished article was going to be far too small, but it’s not that far away from the right size.  This was the ‘dummy run’ and it looks fairly reasonable.  I may have to go up a size when I start the real thing.  Other than that, I’m quite happy with them.

Salsa tonight was confusing for me.  I just kept making mistakes.  I could blame it on my knee being painful, but it’s really my brain that’s under pressure, not my legs.  Maybe just too many things going on today.

Today’s PoD was a poor wee hen sparrow sitting on the fence in a downpour.  She was probably knackered feeding chicks ( ’scuds’ ) and was having a welcome rest despite the rain.

Tomorrow?  More rain.

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Piper at the gates of dawn – 4 May 2017


Trying to keep up the musical lyrics theme, today we went to Stirling, all should become clear.

It was another bright day with a cold easterly wind.  We had decided to complete yesterday’s tasks with a visit to the travel agent in Stirling to see what they could offer for our summer cruise.  When we were walking through the centre of Stirling there was a bloke, a piper, with the obligatory £20 kilt on making the most awful racket outside the Stirling Tourist Office.  Just as we drew level with him, two officials came from the office, walked over and uttered the termination introduction; “Before you get started again mate …”  As we walked down the street, I noted that there was no skirl of the pipes from behind us, so I presume he had been sent on his way with a flea in his ear (and a stopper in his drones.)

After about an hour in the travel agents where we had set out our initial requirements:

  1. Cruise
  2. Eastern Med
  3. June – July

Later we added almost as an afterthought:

  • Not an inside cabin
  • Not on a low deck
  • Not Greece
  • Flying from Glasgow
  • Not more than £xxxx each
  • Not an old ship

It’s amazing just how many requirements we have after our initial ones.  That said, the bloke in the shop was very patient, but I’m sure he’d heard all these lists before and knew the initial requirements are only ever sketchy and will be firmed up and filled out later.  We left the shop with a couple of possibles and after a coffee and a bog awful Goat’s cheese an beetroot panini for me and an excellent (I’m told) Mushroom Toastie for Scamp we had chosen the front runner.  Back to the shop and confirmed the booking.  We’re off on a cruise in the summer, DV.

Thought I’d get an Amazon Fire Stick to stick in the (not so) smart TV with which to watch some extra content.  Y’see that’s what happens when you visit the weans and find they’ve got access to a world of entertainment you haven’t dreamed of.  Cruised round all the electrical retailers in Cumbersheugh, but nobody had one.  Bummer.  Scamp did manage to get some solar powered lights from B&M though, but only after a bum steer when we found the box that allegedly contained six lights only had four in it.  Typical Cumbersheugh thievery.

Dinner tonight was another ND recipe.  Chicken with Rice using a very tasty pre-roasted chicken.  Again, thank you Masterchef Neil.

Today’s grab shot is of Marguerites in the garden.  They were enjoying the sun too.  Also, I’ve just checked and all six solar powered lights are shining brightly.

Today’s title, comes from Pink Floyd’s first studio album, of course.

Tomorrow?  The search for an Amazon Fire Stick continues.  Maybe JL will have one.  Failing that, I’m sure Amazon will have it in stock.

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Another airport, another flight – 1 May 2017

In the morning, we went for a walk round the golf course along from the house.  It was raining on and off as we walked through the woodland, but because we were walking through trees, there were plenty of places to shelter.  Labyrinth again became the word of the day.  There are so many paths through the woodland all crossing and re-crossing, it’s difficult to work out where you are going and where you’ve been.  We got ourselves lost a couple of times, but then Genghis Pathfinder chose a path I wouldn’t have chosen, but it lead back to the golf clubhouse.  Unfortunately, by the time we got there the rain was fairly heavy and there was no point in stopping for a coffee as all the inside seats were taken and not even the hardiest of smokers was risking the downpour at the outside seating.  We found our way back to the road and from there, back to the house.

ND suggested that we all go to a garden centre for lunch.  I didn’t recognise the route, but I did recognise the pizza stand and remembered that the pizzas were good indeed, but the waiting time was 25 mins and that was too long.  I chose instead to have sausage and beans with potato wedges.  It was an excellent choice.  Got some kale seeds and some spinach.  Scamp got a square of washable table cover.

All too soon, it was time it go.  Just had time to repack the bags and case and we were off to the airport again.  Seems like only yesterday we were getting picked up there.  Poor ND had to drive through torrential rain to get there, but as usual, he didn’t complain.

Case has now been dropped off and we’re through security although they did want to search my tablet separately.  I don’t know what was wrong with it.  Now I’m sitting in the departures lounge writing this up and whiling away the couple of hours until we go in the big metal tube in the sky.

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Child Minding – 30 April 2017

We didn’t do much in the morning.  ND was at church and the weather wasn’t too good.  We all sat and talked for a while.  The PoD is of the dried up hollyhocks in Hazy’s front garden.

When ND returned, we got ready and went to Canute and Delia’s for lunch.  After being ‘welcomed’ the two chihuahuas, Basil and Molly, we sat down to the biggest lunch I’ve seen in a long time.  Potato Salad, Green Salad, Channa Daal, Chicken Curry, the list goes on and on.  Then there was pudding afterwards!  All the time we were being entertained by Marcie, Joey and Jess’s daughter.  Not two years old yet, but ruling the roost in the house.

Suitably fed and entertained, we left later in the afternoon and went back to the house.  Sat and watched StarWars VII and again marvelled at the CGI until we just accepted it as real.

This week’s sketch was actually done earlier in the week at the Old Naval College in Greenwich.  As with most sketches, it’s not quite true to life, but hopefully it gives the idea of the building and I liked the quality of the line.  The building did look good that day with the sun shining on it.  I’d like to draw it again, maybe if I had somewhere to sit!  Drawing while standing is sore on the back!
Back up north tomorrow.

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The three did feed the deer – 29 April 2017

We were supposed to be going to a market this morning, but the plans were changed and we went to Kingston instead.  Not a big problem for us as we both like that place by the Thames.

While ND and Hazy went off to look for shoes, Scamp and I wandered round the labyrinth (this weekend’s word) of shops and alleys, agreeing to meet the other two back at the car in a couple of hours time.  It was getting near that time when we exited one alleyway to find ND and Hazy at the end.  Serendipity.  Lunch was eaten in the open air at the market in the centre of the town.  Scamp had Chicken Biryani and I had Achari Chicken.  I also found an Italian food stall selling cannoli (not e to self – find a recipe) and bought some.  Unfortunately, Hazy has a severe egg allergy and can’t eat cannoli which have a lot of eggs in them.  We can.  We did.  Headed back home and let Hazy rest while we went to Richmond Park.  We went to see the deer, but not feed them, despite the title of today’s blog.  However when we got the parking place, we wandered round the Isabella Plantation, one of the fenced off gardens, instead.  It was a good choice for Scamp because the azaleas were in full bloom and a good choice for ND and I because of the variety of photo opportunities.  When we had ooh’d and ah’d our fill in the Isabella, we took a walk round the woods and chanced on a couple of herds of deer.  Unlike the St Mo’s deer, these creatures were quite happy to sit or stand around having their photos taken.  Our exertions deserved an ice cream cone each and then we went home taking the long route round the extensive park.

Dinner tonight was ND’s Spanish Rice with Chicken and Prawns – got that recipe.   Then we watched Fantastic Beasts, the Harry Potter spinoff.  I must admit, I was lost halfway through, but did enjoy the CGI.  After a while I began to believe what I was watching was real.

Tomorrow we are having a lazy day and going to Canute and Delia’s for lunch.

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Dancing on the ceiling–28 April 2017

M4284604_thumb[2]Today we walked to the station and with ND’s help, took the train from Chessington to Greenwich.  From there, we just followed our collective nose until we found a Costa for a seat, a coffee, something to eat and a chance to regroup to decide where we should go.  Initially we had intended going to find the ‘Meridian’, but after finding we were near the Cutty Sark, we chose instead to go and see it. 

The last time we had been to Greenwich we hadn’t seen the Naval College properly because they were filming something in it.  This time we did get to see it.  We were intrigued by the possibility of seeing the ceiling of the college which apparently was very interesting.  When we got to the Naval College we found the place completely covered from floor to ceiling in scaffolding.  Oh, oh it looked like we weren’t going to see that remarkable ceiling with its artwork.  However, on checking with one of the guides, we discovered that you could get to see the ceiling, not only that, but you could see it from close range, almost close enough to touch, except you weren’t allowed to touch.  We both quickly agreed that we’d risk the ascent of the scaffolding with a guide of course and go see that ceiling.  First we were kitted out with a tabard (ours was the green group) and a hard hat to match.  Remarkably, this is the first time I’ve worn a hard hat since I was an apprentice draughtsman way back in the mid ‘60s.  We then had a talk about the hidden meanings in the enormous mural in the far wall before we made the climb.

The mural was impressive, but nowhere near as impressive as the painting covering the entire ceiling of the hall.  As promised, it was close enough to touch at a stretch.  I didn’t stretch.  Again, the hidden meanings of the painting were revealed as we walked along the ‘floor’.  To prevent damage to the artworks, the lighting was quite low and of course we weren’t allowed to use flash, not that I would.  We could have opted for radio headphones, but I’m glad we didn’t because our guide was so knowledgeable and able to answer questions, something you don’t get with a recording.  All in all, a brilliant afternoon and one I’d recommend to anyone visiting London.

By the time we came out, it was time to head for home, but not before we had a spot of lunch in the market.  I had pakora and channa daal.  Scamp headed for the slightly sweeter churros stall.  A bit out of character, but still food and from an independent retailer, and that’s how we work.

Got the train back to Chessington and walked back to the house, although we did stop for a beer and a G&T at the pub, because it was there!

Neil was out tonight, Scamp, Hazy and I sat and watched a film while eating pizza.  What else do you expect on a Friday night.

Tomorrow, ND is taking us to a market, I think.