Butterfly memory – 12 September 2019

The day started as so many have recently with rain, but the blue skies appeared later.

Gas man came this morning to do the boiler maintenance and gave us the usual warnings that it’s getting old and needs replaced. I have days like that too sometimes.

After that we went out for the messages and managed to spend a fair amount in three different, though similar, shops. That’s the thing about choice. It gives you the opportunity to spend more. Mostly it was just stuff we needed anyway.

Just before lunch I spotted a Red Admiral feeding on the buddleia bush at the back fence. I managed to get a few shots of it before I frightened it away. Bummer.

Fred came over later in the afternoon to pick up the paintings John had delivered yesterday. We had an hour or so of fairly adult conversation and he introduced me to another interesting Gerry Cinnamon song “Diamonds in the Mud”. Worth listening to, if only for the Glasgow accent. In return I suggested he listen to “Canter” with its own collection of adult content.

When he left, so did I for a walk down Auchinstarry way. The light was really excellent by now and the hills were glowing. Today’s PoD came from the walk. It’s a group of tiny wee fungi growing on a dead tree near the Forth & Clyde canal.

When I came home, the butterfly was back on the buddleia, but this time I barely got a chance to switch on the camera before it was off. I swear it looked straight at me and flew off. I’m sure it recognised me as the big human who pointed his black box at it a couple of hours earlier. Of course it could have been a different butterfly, but that was the impression it gave me.

Cod Chowder for dinner. I thought it tasted ok and just the same as usual. Scamp thought it was thicker and tasted different. Maybe she was right.

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks ok. Saturday, not so.

Windy Willy was blowing up a storm – 11 September 2019

It wasn’t really Willy, it was Dorian, Hurricane Dorian whose last gasps were still strong enough to rattle the windows and bend the trees.

Drove in to Glasgow for more Jive torture. We’d got to grips with the ‘Shuffle Ball Change’ from two weeks ago and this week we were introduced to a whole new routine which contained that ill named move. Finally got to grips with that and then Michael decided we needed more practise in Waltz. This week we were consolidating the moves we’d been introduced to the last time and had another one added on to our long standing problem move that involves constant turning. This time Michael decided it would look good to add a bit of ‘locking’ into that already mind boggling turning promenade thing. I must admit though that the addition of the lock step did enhance the look of the move. We’d spent so long on the waltz we didn’t have time to do any quickstep. Oh dear, what a shame!

Had to leave on the dot, because we were rushing back to collect some pictures that John had kindly saved from the bulldozers in the old school. Two of Bill Rennie’s and one of Fred’s. Glad he thought to noticed them as it’d be a shame to lose them.

With the paintings safely collected, I took a walk over to St Mo’s in the wild wind that was howling round the place. It really was gale force today. Cap’n Bob would have been crapping himself with “Winds in excess of …” Today’s PoD was the fluffy looking Sow Thistle seed head. There wasn’t much else to see today. It would have been a good day for a landscape, with a constantly changing sky and good light on the hills, but I couldn’t be bothered driving. Besides which, I was getting hungry.

Pizza for dinner and not one of my best offerings. Scamp’s was declared fine, but mine was a tad overdone and the Mozzarella I’d bought in M&S was definitely not from Italy. Rough and clunky, not the smooth ball you get over there.

That was about it for the day. Spent a couple of hours rebuilding my Hazel rules after I’d inadvertently deleted one earlier in the week. I’ll make a back up immediately the blog is posted.

Gas man comes tomorrow to service the boiler and when that’s done, the excitement will be over, hopefully.

Well, this won’t take long – 9 September 2019

It was raining all day. Almost. So I stayed in my room.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration. It actually stopped raining for about 30 mins around 4pm. The rest of the time the weather was demonstrating its ability to produce a variety of different rain types, from straight down ’stair rods’ rain to that misty smirr that floats around in the breeze, mists up your glasses and beads on everything. Rain. We must have a hundred or more names for it, some of them preceded by a swear word.

I decided that if we were having a visitor at the end of the month, today would be a perfect day to take down some of my ‘art’ work. That took about an hour to do, find somewhere to put it and occasionally throw something out, although I believe only two items met that fate. The room looks totally different now and not too many little pin holes in the wall. I had visions of having to go round with a little tub of Polyfilla (other hole filling products are available) and a spatula filling in all the nail holes. Then I’d need to sand them all flat and finally have to paint the whole room. It doesn’t look as if that will be the case, thankfully. Of course, before I started, I photographed all four walls, not only just for the record, but also so after the visitor has gone, I can replace them all in their original positions , with the exceptions of the two rejects.

I grabbed five shots of flowers in the garden during the short gap in today’s rainfall. The best in my opinion was the bud on Alec’s Red, and that became PoD

The other day my iMac was running slowly and I resorted, for the first time with this computer, to doing a ‘repair’ start. I still didn’t find out what caused the problem, but I think I’ve caught it. Tonight in Salsa, I couldn’t remember anything, and this was in the easy intermediate class. Second class, which is more advanced, was easier thank goodness. I don’t know what went wrong in that first class. Maybe I need to hold down the CMD key down when I wake up tomorrow to do a ‘repair’ wake! Three new moves tonight: Sombrero Twist 2, Vice which is like a strangling Setenta Vice-Versa and, surprisingly, New One!

Tomorrow looks drier than today, so I may release some nematodes on the unsuspecting slugs in the compost bin, the raised bed and anywhere else that needs them.

So now we know – 4 September 2019

Scamp went to see the nurse today, but the news was not what she expected.

We sat about in the morning watching the rain, but our minds were on tomorrow and the rail journey south. Little did we know. Scamp was determined to go to the new M&S shop and we did go along with half of Cumbersheugh. Yes, it looks good, but contrary to predictions it doesn’t have a café, at least not yet. Got a whole bundle of stuff. Some for today, some for tomorrow and some to come back to. Got to the tills just as St Mo’s school decanted all their pupils into the shop. Most were directed to the self-service tills, some waited in the normal tills and the rest shop-lifted. Back home we had lunch and then waited until the big hand was at the 6 and the little hand was halfway between the 2 and the 3, then we went up to the doc’s.

Scamp was in with the nurse for a lot longer than I’d thought, but then I heard her voice saying ‘Thanks’. The half smile on her face told me it wasn’t what we’d expected. The nurse had immediately confirmed it wasn’t insect bites, it was Herpes zoster AKA Shingles. Now it all made sense. The pain, the itch, the cluster of ‘bites’ that was actually a rash. Yes, she was past the infectious stage but we weren’t sure now whether to go or not. I was going to drive to the butchers for some stewing steak and a mutton pie to take down south, so that would give us both thinking time. Scamp was off into the Co-op to get a cake for tonight’s pudding (sponge with our stewed apples and custard).

When we met up again in the car, she’d decided to wait and see what Hazy said when we could speak to her. We weren’t sure if I was clear of any infection yet, so all three of us reluctantly agreed that it would be best to postpone the visit. Not the result we wanted, but I was relieved that Scamp wouldn’t have to endure a four hour train journey with not even a free bottle of wine to take away the aches and itches. Anyway, it wasn’t cancelled, just postponed.

We thought we’d just have to bear the brunt of the loss of the train fare, but no! Scamp phoned the help line at Trainline and managed to find a sympathetic ear at the other end in Sam, who gave her an address to send our tickets to and told us that in this case she’d get a full refund. Y’see, there are good people out there.

The sun had come out for a while, but by then it had gone back behind the clouds again and the rain was back. I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to get out to take any photos today. That’s why I’ve resorted to ‘cut flowers’ again. Hopefully the last of this month. It’s a close-up of a Chrysanthemum flower that made PoD.

Tomorrow we’re planning to take the bus in to Glasgow to ‘A Play, A Pie and A Pint’ in Òran Mór.

A sign of things to come perhaps – 3 September 2019

Today the Red Juke was going in for service and I had a courtesy car booked and it was a surprise!

Drove to Stirling in the morning and was passing the ‘New Shops’ just around 9.30am. The new M&S food store was opening at 10am and the crowds, half an hour before it opened were a very, very long snaking queue along the shop frontage, along part of the car park and down the side of the building. At a guess, I’d say between 500 and 700 people were standing in the rain hoping for one of the Golden Tickets that would give them up to £200 worth of shopping vouchers and a bad dose of the flu in to the bargain. I phoned Scamp to warn her that she was too late already. She just laughed

I had to wait half an hour for the courtesy car to be delivered, but when it arrived it was a ’19 plate Micra. Then the service manager dropped the bombshell. It was also an Automatic. I’ve only rarely been in an automatic car and certainly never driven one. How was I going to get this home? Luckily the lady was very positive about it and explained quietly how it worked and drove me round the block. She then offered to sit with me to allow me to get used to driving it round the block. Oh dear I must have looked terrified, but I took her up on her offer anyway. Then it was time for me to ‘go solo’. Despite knowing that there was no gearstick, I still tried to change up and down with the drive selector for the first few roundabouts, then concentrated a bit more and found it was quite a natural way to drive. When I got it home, I took Scamp out for a drive, but she refused to have a go. It’s amazing how quickly you adapt to a completely new driving style. By the time I was taking it back, it was as natural as any other car I’ve driven.

When I got to the garage the same lady came to deal with me and all I said was “Well, that was a lovely car.” I didn’t add “I want one.”, but she knew that was in my head. However, outside was a shiny clean Red Juke that will need two new front tyres this year, so I put the thoughts of an Automatic Micra to the back of my mind for now, paid for my day’s insurance and left with a smile on my face. Western Nissan aren’t so bad after all.

The drive back home took almost twice as long as going, because everyone in Central Scotland seemed to want to go the same way. I was hungry and was looking forward to Scamp’s Prawn Stir Fry for dinner, otherwise I’d have taken it for a run away from the motorway bizz to test out the updated sat nav card they’d plugged in as part of the service. Maybe we’ll get a chance to try it out tomorrow.

PoD was a shot of the last of Scamp’s sweet peas standing up to the incessant rain today. We were promised some sun. We got rain instead.

No dancing tomorrow because Scamp has an appointment with the doc to check out the insect bites she’s got, and no other plans. No dancing at night either because Jamie the Salsa teacher won’t be there. Even worse, he won’t be there next week either.

Flowers, Green Beasties and The Proms – 31 August 2019

Today we were going to Chryston Flower Show to see how my submissions fared. Scamp declared that she was feeling a fair bit better, thank goodness!

It had rained hard during the night and when we woke around 9am, it was still pelting down. That continued until around midday when we got ready for the show and drove out to Muirhead to have lunch in 3 Regazzi I liked the name, 3 Guys. It was standard Italian fare. Scamp had Bruschetta as a starter followed by Chicken in a creamy sauce, with veg and roast potatoes. Mine was Potato and Broccoli soup followed by a spicy Penne Arrabbiata. Both were fine and tasted authentically Italian. We’ll be back.

Walked down to Chryston HS where the flower show was to be. First thought was that there were a lot more folk there than last time. Also the produce was better and more varied than last time. Flowers were the usual incredibly high quality. It’s hard to believe that these people are doing this, basically, for fun. It’s got to be for enjoyment because nobody is going to go to all this trouble for a £1.50 prize for a First, £1 for a Second and £0.50 for a Third. Like my pal Colin says, it’s not about winning, it’s about taking part. My painting got me a First. One landscape photo got a Second and another got a Third. My waistcoat got a Second, so all four were placed. Result!

After we’d spoken to Colin and Evelyn and after Scamp had won a host of prizes at the Tombola we drove home.

The rain that had plagued us for the past two days had tailed off by then and by the time we got home the streets were drying, so I took myself out for a walk in St Mo’s. Not much of interest until I was almost home and that’s when I found a Hawthorn Shield Bug. Sitting on a Dogwood plant minding its own business, it became PoD.

That was about it apart from listening to a quite excellent concert from the BBC Proms with Lisa Fischer and Ledisi presenting an evening honouring Nina Simone. I was amazed by Lisa Fischer’s seamless switch from jazz to Henry Purcell (which Scamp tells me was When I Am Laid In Earth.). Singing with two microphones, she played some clever vocal gymnastics. I wasn’t so impressed with Ledisi, but she too was worth listening to.

Tomorrow looks like a better day than today. We may go dancing.

A portrait session – 30 August 2019

Today we were out fairly early to drive to Larky.

We should have been going to Crawford & Nancy’s for dinner tonight, but since Scamp’s pain started, she can’t sit for longer than about an hour without stretching out (which she’s doing just now), so we decided to cancel tonight. When Scamp suggested to Nancy that they could meet for coffee, just to catch up, Nancy invited us out to the house instead. That’s what we did. The best of both worlds. Scamp got to meet up with Nancy and also to play with Imogen, C&N’s granddaughter, and I got a chance to catch up with Crawford. All of that within a timeframe of an hour and a bit which was comfortable for Scamp.

While we were there I managed to take a few (over 60) photos of Nana, Papa and Imogen. The light was really good in their new sitting room although it was tipping it down outside. Really pleased with the results from the E-M1 with the 30mm lens. It’s becoming a well used combination. The 14mm lens would have been too short and would have caused distortion and the 45-200mm would have been too long. The 30mm was the ‘Goldilocks Option’ – just right!  Imogen herself was a great model who happily posed for photo after photo.  Beautiful blue eyes and for most of the time a happy temperament.  Happy for her papa to teach her some basic gymnastics.

Tried to drive down to Asda in Larky when we left, but had difficulty finding it. It’s stuck down behind the baths and next to the new, new Larkhall Academy. I say ‘new, new’ because there have been two new academies since I went to the original one back in the ‘60s. That makes me feel ancient.

Drove home in the rain that had been falling incessantly since early morning, in fact, since last night. Took today’s PoD of a poor waterlogged Gazania in the back garden with a lens hood made from a piece of A4 paper folded in half and wrapped around the lens, not so much to keep out the sun as to keep out the rain. Useful thing to keep in the camera bag.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for a little bit of sun for a trip to Muirhead for Colin’s Flower Show.

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.

Another roaster – 25 August 2019

It was a beautiful morning. Today was set to be another hot one.

Scamp wanted to go looking for plants today to bring some new colour to the garden. We headed off to Torwood to see what they could offer. As there was a 20% reduction on all plants, we expected there to be a big queue, but surprisingly the carpark was only half full. Grabbed a bundle of flowering plants and also some curly kale plus some leeks. Just something to fill up the raised bed.

Back home and after the usual Sunday fried lunch I had a bit of a longer snooze than I’d anticipated while Scamp planted out her flowers, then sat and read in the garden. I don’t know how she can do it with the noisy neighbours, their adult kids, plus the grand weans shouting at each other. I think some of them must be deaf. That’s why they keep shouting instead of conducting a normal conversation.

When I woke I realised I still hadn’t a firm favourite for PoD, so I put a pair of shorts on and went over to St Mo’s to see what was what. Spotted a Painted Lady right away, feeding on a scabious flower. Banged a few shots of that into the E-M1. Got a few shots of a dragonfly too, but it was really far away across the bog and I wasn’t going wading in St Mo’s bog. You never know what’s under your feet there. Well, you do know, and that’s worse than not knowing.

That sort of summed up Sunday. Just another hot day, but finally I have a picture of a Painted Lady to present to the waiting public.

Tomorrow Scamp’s off with the Witches to Glasgow and I’m off the leash for a few hours.