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The day that the rains came – 30 December 2017

It was with a great deal of pleasure that we noted it was raining this morning. Snow is nice for a while. Ice can be pretty too, but there comes a time when I’ve had enough of it and a return to the dull colours of winter are more relaxing than the pure white of snow or the shine of ice.

We went out for a wee run in the afternoon. Hazy was resting and Neil was off on an urban safari through darkest Glasgow. Dangerous territory for the uninitiated, but he survived it and even claimed to enjoy the experience. We, on the other hand just drove to Robroyston and searched ASDA for any food leftover by the ravening hoards. There was some, but not the exact food we were looking for, so we left empty handed. We did have a coffee and a toastie in Costa, but that was the extent of our travels.

Today’s PoD was taken tonight sitting on the sofa trying to arrange the new Weemen so that they had the Christmas tree lights behind them and out of focus. This was the best shot.

Tomorrow, it’s lunch with Hazel, Neil and Auntie June. I may try to get some photos in the morning if Storm Dylan has left anything in its wake.

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Visitors – 29 December 2017

Today was the second, and final leg of H&N’s journey north, and it was snowing.

The snow lasted all morning before finally petering out around lunchtime. Scamp had been a bit on edge until it actually stopped then she settled down, knowing that the worst of the weather was past. Even so, she was still determined to dust, Dyson™ (that’s like hoovering but posher), clean and polish the house at least three times until she was sure it was fit for visitors.

After lunch I went out for a walk in the snow around St Mo’s. That’s where I got today’s PoD of the coot on a mission. It was also the first time I used Picktorial in earnest. That’s right, I bought it last night, just before my demo time ran out. It really does work a lot faster and with a lot more variables than Lightroom. The only thing it doesn’t do is Asset Management, or Cataloguing as we used to call it. In fact it proudly proclaims that it is Catalog Free. Which is a fancy way of saying that it would cost too much to add in that feature and then nobody would buy it. So it looks like I’ll be using Lightroom to import my photos and do the heavy lifting in the post-processing, then use Picktorial to do the fancy stuff. You know what I mean. The little bits of pixel adjustment that nobody will ever know existed except me. Every photog does it … I think. Or maybe it is just me!

Not long after I came home and dumped the photos in Lightroom, we got the text to say the happy couple had arrived at the hotel and were going to rest from their journey, but would eat with us later. Scamp could finally breathe a sigh of relief, sit down and relax until it was time to start the prep for dinner. On tonight’s menu was Venison Stew or Panfried Sea Bass Fillets followed by Pineapple Snow with Lime and Chilli sauce. Both visitors opted for the venison. A very good choice said the Sous Chef who had spent yesterday afternoon preparing it.

H&N arrived in the middle of a surprise snow shower and we had a great evening opening presents and generally catching up with stories from the far south. They wanted to get back to the hotel and rest, so left fairly early. Tomorrow is a rest day for both of them, and probably for us too.

Tomorrow for us consists of a shopping expedition and little else. It’s nice to have a fairly full house again and all sit round the table.

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Panic buying – 28 December 2017

We went in to Glasgow today.

We didn’t really need anything, and we’ve done enough spending these last two or three weeks. No, we just wanted to walk round the shops (and see if there were any bargains in JL – there weren’t) and have a cup of coffee somewhere. Somehow that walk round the shops expanded to fill over 8000 steps according to my Fitbit™. It also cost us £4.50 in parking. Where that time, those steps and that money went I’ll never know. Maybe we went into a walking timewarp. Anyway, it got us out and I got a photo. The new rule about the 365 is that I must take at least one picture every day that will become part of two albums and at least one group. If you don’t do Flickr this will mean nothing to you. Today’s PoD which was categorised under Architecture, Reflections and Glasgow in Albums was a the reflection of the Pavilion Theatre, taken with the Teazer. It’s becoming a serious contender for the best camera in the world. I.e. the one you have in your pocket.

After we came home we discovered we needed milk and bread, the two staples along with photo paper that every home should have, so I volunteered to drive to the madness that is Tesco (DO YOU KNOW THAT TESCO WILL BE CLOSED FOR A DAY NEXT WEEK??? WHAT WILL WE DO???). It seemed like the whole of Cumbersheugh was in there buying every bit of food they could get their hands on. Come on people, it’s only going to be closed for one day. Got the milk and the bread and just in case there was a sudden run on photo paper, I got two packets. When I came home and parked the car, Scamp decided she needed to clear the snow and ice from her car, so, as I was dressed for Alaska, I helped her and soon we found this little red Micra under the white blanket that had covered it for the best part of a week.

The photo paper was for printing out my annual calendar and I’ve now got four copies of it without a front page yet, and without December because December isn’t finished yet and there just might be an award winning PoD picture I see in the next few days. Unlikely, but possible. Anyway, that makes it 4×11=44 full colour pages and there’s hardly any drop in the ink levels in the Epson’s tanks! Impressive. That’s what I call economy.

Temperature is -3.3º just now and I think it’s beginning to rise. Snow is forecast for around 8am tomorrow, turning to rain by afternoon. Hopefully H&N won’t be troubled by it.

I don’t think we have any great plans for tomorrow. We may go for a last swim of the year or maybe a quick turn around the gym. Then again, maybe we’ll just tidy up again and wait for our visitors.

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Big Dogs – 26 December 2017

Today was Boxing Day, but there were no more boxes to open, so, as it had snowed during the night and it looked ‘Deepan, Krispan, Evin’, I got dressed and took the big dog for a walk.

We walked through the snow and found that the pond was covered in mist as the sun hadn’t risen to warm it up. I just missed catching Mr Grey who was fishing next to the path, behind a bush. He flew off squawking at a couple of swans that were in his way. I walked into the trees and saw the sun rising above the tops of the pines. It’s not often I’m up before the sun, these days!

Walked down through the pine trees and didn’t see a living soul. Got a few shots of the little man-made pond near the road and then followed a fresh fox’s trail through the woodland until it crossed the burn. It wasn’t my great tracking skills that let me to believe it was a fox, it was the smell that was quite strong on the snow.

I walked through the deciduous woods and by carefully choosing a point of view, got a shot of the second burn with some clean reflections and avoided both the street lights and the motorway signs. The mist helped, but it did need some ‘spotting’ in Lightroom later. It was on the way back with my ‘big dog’ that I was joined by another couple of real big dogs. I just caught a glimpse of something behind a bush and assumed it was a deer, then it formed itself into a big, and I mean Big Dogs. Two fairly heavy built Alsatian types. I’m not good on dog ID, but the other thing I was pleased to see was that they both had expensive looking harnesses on and looked well fed and looked after. I tried to ignore them and walked on when I heard one behind me. Never let a dog get behind you, someone once told me. As I turned round the second one bolted away from me towards some silent signal, presumably from the owner. My own shadow gave a high pitched yelp as if to say “Wait for me!” and ran to follow the first dog. I breathed a sigh of relief. Luckily I was wearing my brown corduroy trousers, so there would be no outward sign of my panic as I walked on.

Got home without meeting any more Big Dogs although I did manage to get a low down PoD shot of a new Weeman that Scamp bought me as a Chrissy Prezzy. I’d have looked a proper Charlie if anyone had seen me crouching on my knees, photographing a Lego Minifig™.

Lunch was a light wrap with cooked meat and salad veg, plus some Jalapeños. Afterwards we discussed tonight’s dinner and it resolved itself into Minestrone soup. Not difficult to make, but lots of chopping up of veg as preparation. We didn’t have any cabbage, so as Scamp wanted to go and stretch her legs, we walked down to the M&S shop at the petrol station. We didn’t really need anything apart from cabbage which they didn’t have, but I got some more cold ham and Scamp bought some Satsumas. It was more for the walk than for anything else. Stuck in the house all day yesterday makes you yearn for the outdoors.

When we got back, Madeleine started a video conversation using WhatsApp. We’d never used it before, and it was really good. Much better than Skype. Skype used to be good, but since it’s been taken over by The Dark Side, it wants to run things its way. Interrupting a call to install an update. That’s just typical Microsoft. Anyway, the Whats App call worked well and Scamp got to see Ori the wonder dog as well as everyone else in the Trini house.

I got a sketch done and pre-dated it to the 24th. A lie, but a little white lie, well, a black and white lie actually. Not drawn, but painted with black Indian ink. I quite like it, but I’m not letting you see the usual big image, so don’t bother to click on it. It looks better small, I think, and it’s my blog!  The title from the lyrics of ‘The Curious Crystals of Unusual Purity’ by Bridget St John.

Today we made the move to go out. Tomorrow we may go even further! Provided the weather is kind to us.

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The great unboxing – 25 December 2017

Christmas, it’s a great time of year, and that’s Christmas with a ‘C’, not Xmas with an ‘X’

It used to be the day for kids cycling on their new bikes or showing off their new doll’s pram and for bigger kids to be snoozing in front of the fire. I didn’t see any kids cycling or pushing prams or anything. In fact I didn’t see any kids outside today at all. The fact that it’s been raining torrentially all day long probably had something to do with that. It wasn’t the best Christmas weather, and, of course we all have central heating now, so there’s no chance of snoozing by a fire.

That’s the moan over with. Today was the great unboxing of the big box. The one that has had Scamp flummoxed since the day it made an appearance almost a week ago. I don’t think she believed me that it was double wrapped, but it was and once she had removed both layers, the secret was revealed. It was a leaf blower. I know that sounds a bit mundane and unseasonal too, but Scamp has been talking about getting one of these things for over two years now and in a moment of inspiration, I though this was just the thing. Not something predictable or something extremely expensive. Just something she’d talked about and had forgotten about until the grass cutting season was here in a few months time. Even then, she’d just say it was a silly idea. It was, but the secret is out of the box now, literally. We’ve checked it, and it works. It works very, very well! No leaves or grass cuttings will be safe now.

My best favourite prezzy was a pattern for a shirt (long and short sleeved), a tie, a bow tie and best of all, a waistcoat, although it’s an American pattern and it’s described as a vest. My mum knitted me a vest from string when I was wee. Everyone who was anyone had a string vest. They kept you warm when the weather was cold because they trapped a layer of air next to your skin. It was like wearing the future, because it was scientific. Everyone wore them under a thin white shirt at school because you could see the pattern of the vest under your shirt. That was proof that you were up to date with fashion! String vests, where are they now? Anyway, this will be my next project, a waistcoat. There’s a whole new vocabulary to learn about with ‘darts’ and ‘notches’ and ‘basting’. Sounds like a whole new language to me! That’s not to say I didn’t like the rest of the prezzies, oh no, they were all great, like the ‘Buff’ from JIC and Sim, a winter version and the jar of fizzy flying saucers from Scamp (already opened and sampled). Christmas is a great time of year for new projects.

Lunch was light. Just cold meat on a wrap for me and toast for Scamp. Dinner was Salmon for Scamp and another Steak for me. Both served with Roast Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts. Then for pudding it was Tiramisu. I was more careful with this and only ate half. The rest is in the fridge for tomorrow. Christmas is a great time of year if you don’t over-eat. I managed to err just on the side of safety and sense. Scamp is almost always sensible and she was today.

I didn’t go out today. I took today’s PoD from the kitchen. It wasn’t until I examined it on the computer that I noticed the tiny little aphids clinging to the leaflets and stem. I hadn’t realised they could survive in our sub-zero climate. You live and learn.

It was great to talk to Hazy and JIC today. Just a little time with both of them at different times of the day, because they’re both on different sides of the planet living their own lives, and that’s good. Christmas is a great time of year for keeping in touch, and we did.

Ok, boxes have been opened, the recycling bin is full of wrapping paper. It’s time to face Boxing Day and hope for just a little respite from the rain. If only so the weans can get their new bikes and prams out to show them off. We may go for a walk.

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We went for a swim – 22 December 2017

The day dawned dull and wet, but no fog.

However, by about 11am the fog van had arrived and was dumping its grey load on Cumbersheugh. We sat discussing what to do, and it was me who suggested going for a swim. It turned out to be a great idea. There were two people in the jacuzzi and one woman swimming in the pool when we arrived. Unprecedented room in the pool. We were only going to the pool, because we weren’t feeling energetic enough to attempt the gym. We spent just over half an hour enjoying the freedom of the facilities before we headed for home and lunch.

After lunch I drove to B&Q to get some silicone to reseal the shower cabinet in the bathroom and to get some photos of the statue of Arria which stands above the M80 and at the back of the graveyard. It was getting dark by that time and I was surprised at the number of people out walking dogs in the grey gloaming.

Came home and noticed when I was getting the fish out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner (simple fish stew) that the meat I’d put in yesterday wasn’t frozen. I think I might not have closed the freezer door properly and so we had to set the machine to fast freeze just to make sure that everything was frozen properly. I think we’ve managed to catch it in time. It was mainly the meat in the upper compartment that was affected and most of it is either needing to be chucked out anyway, or it was only just put in. It’s still on fast freeze now and will remain at that setting until I go to bed.

The picture of Arria made PoD as there wasn’t much else to compete with it. Like yesterday, I’d hoped for more fog to give it that etherial quality, but by the time I got there, the fog had turned to rain.

Watched JIC and Sim’s flight cross the Atlantic and stop over in St Lucia and then carry on to Trinidad, all on Flight Radar 24. Amazing use of technology. Hope you pair enjoy the upgrade in temperature from our 10ºc to your 29ºc.

Tomorrow we may go to Glasgow and we may go to Embra or we may not go anywhere at all. It all depends on the weather.

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Ice is not nice – 14 December 2017

An icy morning. Jac’s taxi didn’t come, so I volunteered to drive her to the station.

It wasn’t all that cold, but it had snowed during the night and the snow had melted, then frozen again and now that ice was melting, on the surface at least and that meant it was treacherous. The Juke performed perfectly, I couldn’t fault it. Unfortunately there was a queue of traffic heading along towards St Mo’s taking the children who can’t walk if it’s cold, or windy, or wet, or dry, or too hot, or too tired, or .. well, you get the picture. I turned at the roundabout and took the longer, but much quicker way round the back of Blackwood and then through the new estates to the station. Got there with plenty of time for Jac to catch the train (the next train, that is). Came home the same way because, although the queue was shorter, it was still there and resolutely not moving. Walked back from the car and that was when I found out just how slippery the surface was. Slid all the way down the short slope to the house. Didn’t fall, luckily, but Scamp decided it would help other folk if I spread some chippings on the path. Such a simple solution and it worked.

After lunch Scamp parceled up the Christmas parcels for JIC and Sim and I took them to be posted at Tesco. Got that completed and stopped off at St Mo’s to take some foties. Liked the shot through the trees also liked the shot of the swan attempting a tricky landing on ice, but decided the trees won PoD. The rest were good, but not great. I was better prepared for the ice this time with a pair of walking boots, real ones, not Clarks flashy looking, but ultimately useless Goretex ones. The ice was melting in the areas the late sun was reaching, but as I was leaving I could see thin icy fingers stretching out across the puddles. (Oh dear, I came over all ‘Nigella’ there!)

Later in the afternoon I finished last week’s Zentangle doodle. I thought these things were beneath me, but they are more difficult than they look. You need a good eye and a steady hand to produce the accurate linework.

That was about it for the day. The highlight of the day was going to Tesco. Some days are like that.

Tomorrow, I may be joining Scamp for a coffee with Shona!

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Slipped the Leash – 13 December 2017

This morning, Scamp and her sister were off into town. I had a chance to slip the leash.

Ended up doing a bit of sketching and pastel drawing, but nothing serious enough to be considered for public viewing. I also made some yogurt, repaired a bit of the kitchen ceiling and finished off an iron-on transfer for a tee shirt.  Eventually, after lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s and just missed the last of the good light. What I did find was a quadricopter drone stuck up a tree. After a bit of work energetically throwing chunks of branches at it, it finally dropped to earth. It really was in a sorry state, but it did have a camera and after a bit of examination, I extracted the micro SD card. Like the rest of the drone it was fairly well corroded, but with some careful scraping with a scalpel, the contacts were clean enough to download the video of its last flight, all 2.5minutes of it. It’s not the best resolution, but it does show the dangers of flying too close to tall pine trees!

My one decent photo from the day and my PoD was entitled “Slipped the Leash” on Flickr. Quite fitting.

Tonight Scamp, Jackie and I drove down to Bombay Dreams for dinner with June and Ian. Our combo starter was enormous and while others less used to the size of the restaurant’s portions were eating their way through it, Scamp and I were more careful. Mains were also their usual size and just as tasty as always. Entertainment was provided by the two twin waiters. One serious, the other telling jokes with such a deadpan expression you wondered if it was a joke at all. All this while snow was falling outside. This was the first expedition in the snow in the Juke and it performed perfectly. It even climbed the hill to the house without a single grumble. Nice car.

Jackie heads to Embra tomorrow and depending on the weather we may go to Stirling.

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The end of the ice age – 12 December 2017

Woke up to -5.5ºc, but my weather app said it would rain by 2.30pm. Nah, I don’t think so, somehow.

Spent most of the morning clearing up the back bedroom for Jackie. You might not think so to look at it, but you didn’t see it before I started!

After lunch I drove in to Glasgow to BUY STUFF. It didn’t really matter what I was buying, I just had to BUY STUFF. Well, that’s the way it felt until I realised I’d just had a near miss with the Xmas shopping bug and decided to be a bit more pragmatic. While I was driving in the rain started, just after the predicted time of 2.30pm and walking down Bucky Street in the rain, yesterday’s Christmas Card feel completely disappeared. This was back to business as usual. After managing to get all the things I’d come for (and a few more), I met up with Jackie off her bus from Skye and we drove home still in the rain.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Thighs with Leeks and Petit Pois (peas to you), from a Nigella. It was full of the gorgeous grains of green from the peas and the subtle mild onionniness of the leeks, but mainly the golden goodness of the chicken thighs. There, that’s a better description in Nigella language!

Today’s PoD is of the reflections in Exchange Square in Glasgow.

Tomorrow, it looks like there may be some snow in the forecast. I think I may be pastel painting while the sisters hit the ‘Toon’.

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Many Hands – 2 December 2017

Well, we could have gone to Embra today if we could have been bothered to get up and go, but we didn’t. Just as well, as Hazy said she wanted to Skype which is her prerogative, it being her birthday and we both sang the compulsory “Happy Birthday” to her which made her laugh, as it always does.  Hope you had a lovely day Hazy.

Afterwards, we drove to Kilsyth to go to Lidl for sweeties and things for Scamp’s Gems party and for her Witches party. I bumped into Mrs Gough who used to teach at Cumby High. Hard to believe that she left 15 years ago! Made me feel like a youngster. Next on the list was Home Bargains to pick up a toy each for the collection at the Salsa Ball tomorrow night, along with more sweeties and things for …

I suggested we go to B&Q in Bishopbriggs to look at floor lamps, because I’d seen some there during the week that looked fairly reasonable. Scamp crossed the road in the carpark and I, close behind nearly got flattened by a crazy old woman driving at breakneck speed in light grey car. She was obviously on a mission. If I’d got her number she would not only have been on a mission, she’d have been on a charge too. Geriatrics should stick to mobility scooters and zimmers, not real cars. At least, not until they pass the test.  None of the lights were deemed suitable, so we came home, once my heart rate had returned to normal.

Couldn’t be bothered going out to take photos when we got home because the light was already fading. What we did do later was order dinner from Bombay Dreams and it was the usual great quality and enormous portions, so it will be waiting for us for lunch tomorrow.

Many hands make light work, or so the Weemen discovered in today’s PoD. Unfortunately our light didn’t work, because we didn’t get one at B&Q. Maybe there is a lamp somewhere that will suit Scamp, but I don’t hold out much hope of finding it any time soon.