I thought I’d have a day in town today – 24 October 2019

Just window shopping mainly, but with intent.

Drove up to the station to see if there were any spaces. There weren’t, there were cars everywhere. Cars parked up on two wheels on the verges, cars in the flower beds, cars double parked. This is just carnage from Tuesday to Thursday. I think a lot of folk either work from home or take a holiday on Mondays and Fridays, because I can usually get parked without a problem then. However, there is always the worry that when you come back some moron has parked in front of you. Maybe a ‘ten pence coach line’ would remind them that behaviour like that is not acceptable. Sooo I had to drive in to Glasgow.

I was give a list of shower gels to get for Scamp in Molton Brown. Of course they don’t call them ‘shower gels’, they call them Body Wash. Isn’t that what shower gels do, wash your body? Anyway, today was the start of their annual 20% off offer so that’s why I was given the list. With the job done I wandered my way back up Bucky Street to see what goodies Jessops had for me. My attention was a girl interrogating an older couple. Then I felt a hand on my chest. It was attached to a woman about my age and it was there to stop me walking into her! I hate folk that don’t look where they’re going, and here was I doing exactly that thing. I apologised and laughed and thankfully she did too. Never did find out what the girl was doing.

I hadn’t heard that Jessops were on the point of being put into administration – for the second time. It was only when another customer asked one of the assistants if the shop was closing. His reaction gave the lie to his explanation that nothing was certain yet. Another one bites the dust, I think.

I had another look at the Sony RX 100 camera and for once the salesman I was talking to didn’t push me to try the version 5 of the camera, but said the best bargain was the version 3. I’m still not sure if it’s what I’m looking for. It has a silly little pop up viewfinder that I’m sure I’d break within the first month and then regret shelling out my money for it for the rest of the ownership.

Back home via Tesco to get the makings of dinner. Then I just had to visit the new Aldi store. It was a bit smelly and that could have been the veg counter, or just the great unwashed. I’m not sure which.

Back home I was in the middle of making a pot of Scamp’s Just Soup when the lady herself returned from her gig. It seemed to be a resounding success as it always is in Abronhill.

I left her to cool down and talk to her sister on the phone while I went to get today’s PoD. It turned out to be a little bush which grows wild around here with white berries and pink flowers. It’s called a Snowberry Bush. I liked the flower and the composition.

Apart from fish and prawns, I ‘m not a great fan of seafood, especially shellfish. However, that was today’s topic and needs must … Most of the bits and pieces were cobbled together from various photos of shellfish on the Internet. A splash or two of paint and we’re done!

No plans for tomorrow.

Another dull day – 13 October 2019

Not really raining, but not really not either. One of those days just made for being lazy.

A day when I did nothing. Well, I made a loaf and hand kneaded it, but that was all the constructive work I did. I flew a couple of planes and added an airport to my world. I didn’t actually make it, I downloaded it and plonked it in place. It’s called Portmoak, and it’s a gliding centre. I did add a couple of huts and a hanger to the airport, because for some reason X-Plane wants me to download some stuff from a Russian site, as if I’m going to do that after Russia trounced Scotland at football the other day. Worse than that it was eleven Russian grannies who beat them.

Watched the Japanese GP and though Verstappen was hard done by at first, but then I have to admit that he’s been guilty of trying the same tactics against others, so he has not right to complain about being run off the circuit.

PoD was taken late in the afternoon and is the flower on a spider plant with the ribbed window of the toilet in the background. Nothing startling, but a neat mono image.

Spoke to JIC on the phone and agreed with him that we really need to get moving. This laziness is getting to be a bad habit. Unfortunately we don’t have Salsa tomorrow because Jamie G is on holiday.

Today’s topic for Inktober was “Sunglasses”. Sunglasses? In October? In Scotland? Almost as bad as butterflies. That’s what you get when you tweak a list that was originally meant for May and make it fit October. Tomorrow’s prompt is “A Rowing Boat”. Not a lot of them in Cumbersheugh.

Tomorrow is a Gems day, so I may start the week with a walk just to get out and about.

Another wet day – 10 October 2019

Isobel was the visiting garden guru today.

Drove up to see the nurse about my recent blood test. She didn’t seem concerned about my sugar level, in fact she seemed pleased that it had come down and assured me that if I stayed on my regime it would continue to drop. I asked her about a leak I have in my eye after I bumped it with a pen on Tuesday. Yes, really. Clumsy I know. She told me to go to an optician and get it checked. Left with a smile on my face and a sample bottle in my pocket to be filled and returned to the surgery tomorrow.

Back home, Scamp was getting ready to go and get Isobel so she could assess the state of the garden. Basically Scamp’s been overcrowding the pots with too many plants. That and everything needs pruning and shaping. This is worse than Shannon’s styling classes! We had Broccoli soup for lunch and then Scamp showed her some of her holiday photos and that kept them amused for most of the afternoon. All the time the rain had been pelting down.

When Scamp took Isobel back home, I did a bit of armchair flying, then when the driver returned I drove up to the Town Centre to speak to an optician. In Specsavers the manager was very helpful and didn’t laugh too much when I told her what I’d done. The optician had a look and said I’d damaged a bit of the white of my eye, but that it was healing well. She gave me some ointment to put on it at night. I haven’t tried it yet as it seems to make your vision blur, but I’ll do it as soon as I get the blog written. I was relieved that it wasn’t anything worse and pleased that I’d got it seen to (pun not entirely intended).

By the time I was coming home, the automatic headlights came on, so there would be no outdoors photos today. In fact the only thing I could think of photographing was three of the roses that Clive had sent us. With a slow shutter speed to achieve a low ISO, they looked good. I know you really are interested in this JIC, that’s why I’m telling you 😉!

Today’s topic on my Inktober list was “A Radio. This is Scamp’s DAB digital radio. It’s the only discrete radio in the house, that is one that’s not built into something else. It’s so rarely that we use a radio these days. Scamp listens to Money Box on Radio 4 and I rarely listen to anything at all. Radios are and endangered species these days. This one was drawn in pen, then rendered with a water colour marker and a white pen. I also used lots and lots of Post It notes as masks to keep the edges neat. I thought a radio would be an easy topic. It wasn’t. Tomorrow the topic is “A Butterfly”. Not many of them around in October.

Not sure what we’re doing tomorrow. It looks like being wet again.

Dorothy – 8 October 2019

Today was Dorothy’s funeral.

A funeral is a sad occasion. Maybe because it makes us think, not only about the person who has died, but also about our own mortality. This was one of the most fitting funeral services I’ve been to. No hymns, no prayers and no quotes from the Bible. Just one man talking about someone he hadn’t met, but speaking as he had known her all his life. We found out later he had been a policeman and was now a Celebrant. He did a very good job. It also helped that we were looking over the coffin to a window wall and some open fields beyond with trees blowing wildly in today’s gales. She’d have liked that.

At the tea afterwards we got to meet folk we haven’t seen for years. I met my cousin Myra who used to paint beautiful pastel pictures. Now she can hardly see and can’t paint anymore. She was there with her husband and the daughter of another of my cousins, Judith, who took my breath away with her likeness to her mother who died about ten years ago. Funerals are strange things. For some of us, it’s the only time we meet our distant relations, and sadly they get fewer every time.

Drove back through the rain and wind, but the Juke was flying home, we had a tail wind! By the time we got back the automatic street lights were turning on and it was only 3.30pm. No time to go our for a walk, although I’d have liked to have gone today, just to talk to myself. The rain had gone for a while, but soon it was back again and I was glad I hadn’t gone out and got soaked. I changed out of my formal clothes and life began to return to normal.

Today’s PoD was taken on the dining room table because it was dark outside. Just a bunch of cut flowers and I really liked the deep pink chrysanthemum.

My Inktober list for today was “A mouth, ear, eye or nose”. I decided to try all four. It ended up like “three stars and a wish”. I really have to keep working at the mouth, or lips. I’ve read all the tutorials, watched all the YouTube videos, but I simply need to practise more. Maybe tomorrow will be easier. It’s “A bird’s eye view or A worm’s eye view”. Now I’m thinking “Could I do both in the same drawing?” That’s a wee challenge.

Tomorrow, hopefully, we’re dancing.

Alliums, Giant, Crocuses and Stitchery – 30 September 2019

It’s September Weekend, so no salsa and no Gems – a free Monday!

I was flying in X-Plane in the morning trying to get from Cumbersheugh to Glasgow. After getting lost twice and one crash and burn, I gave up any thoughts of being a pilot and decided we’d drive to the garden centre rather than nick a plane and fly there. There we managed to avoid two our least favourite Cumbersheugh inhabitants. To be fair, the bloke is ok and at times I feel sorry for him, but his wife can bore better than a diamond tipped drill, and with a voice to match. While avoiding them, Scamp bumped into an ex workmate, Denise. She was there with her family. Her son would have been useful to me when I was getting lost around Glasgow, because he flies helicopters, real ones.

Scamp was looking for allium bulbs, those big flower balls that are closely related to onions. She didn’t find any that she liked, but did get some lawn fertiliser, block of pansies and a decorative grass whose patterned leaves looked like sun shining through trees. Very pretty. Maybe we didn’t get the big allium, but they had a lovely display of giant autumn flowering crocuses and they made PoD.

On the way home we dropped in at B&Q and got some allium bulbs there. Drove back past the school, but the digger hasn’t started on the techy block yet. Too tough for the wee digger. They’ll need a tank to knock it down. Clyde built, it is.

Back home I struggled with sending invites to potential Inktober 2019 members. Flickr just seems to make the simplest things difficult. So far, eleven members and still they call it inactive. What do they want me to do? Answers on a postcard please.

Last week I noticed a wee hole in the pocket lining of my ‘rainy coat’ and yesterday I found that it had escalated to a tear right along the bottom seam. It needed stitching, so after consultation with Scamp I had a plan in place and today it was time to put it to the test. It took me a while to get the settings right, but I finally settled on a zig-zag stitch with a fine stitch length. Got it done and it looks quite neat, if a bit wobbly. That was planned of course ;o). If you stitch a straight line it will just give the tear a chance to start again. A wandering stitch is much stronger!!

It being a Monday, I was on dinner duty and as usual it was pasta. I tried to spice it up with some bacon matchsticks and also sun-dried cherry tomatoes, but they didn’t suit Scamp who barely touched it before turning up her nose and declaring that she “Didn’t like it.” Some folk have no taste. Strangely, neither did the brown looking tomato pasta. I have to admit it wasn’t my best.

Tomorrow Scamp is out in the morning for coffee with Isobel, then back out at lunchtime with Mags. That gives me some free time to paint or maybe to cut out the pattern for the next waistcoat.

The Visitor Arrives – 23 September 2019

Today we were meeting a visitor from down south.

Drove to Glasgow Airport to meet Clive who was travelling up to Scotland from Southampton. I’d asked him to bring some southern sunshine with him and he was as good as his word. The sky had been a dull grey in the morning, but by the early afternoon the sun had come out to play and it stayed that way for the rest of the day.

We were surprised that he arrived so promptly because this morning it was announced that Thomas Cook had ceased trading and thousands of customers abroad were being brought back home in what was called the biggest repatriation since the second world war. The media really do like to dramatise things, don’t they. However, hype aside, we had thought there might be more congestion at the airport, but we needn’t have worried. It appeared to be business as usual. No Dakota DC3s in camouflage paint disgorging hundreds of disgruntled holidaymakers. Just the usual mid afternoon business flyers … and Clive.

Scamp made Chicken, Leeks and Peas for dinner. We had a wee dram and Scamp introduced Clive to the joys of playing the piano. He’s had the first lesson tonight and will go on to the more advanced stuff tomorrow. We sat and talked and discussed music and Hi Fi stuff and albums we’d enjoyed many years ago. Not much else to say really. Just a good relaxing night.

Today’s PoD was taken just before we left for the airport and is Scamp’s Little Gems rose, grown from seed.

Tomorrow really depends on the weather. If it’s good, we’re off to see the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel. If it’s not, then probably Glasgow Cathedral and Kelvingrove.

Today I peed in a bucket – 20 September 2019

It was a bit more high tech than that, but basically that’s what they do for a ‘flow test’.

It’s the tech below the bucket that does all the clever stuff, measuring the rate of flow and producing a graph. Apparently I’d produced a classic bell shaped graph which is perfect. The nurse also gave me my PSA reading from the blood test and explained it all. The reading was 2.2 for those who understand such things. Way down the scale from the 5 I was producing back in February/March. She also showed me my blood sugar reading which was 47, but that was down from the 50 I’d had back in June, so it’s now off the Diabetic range and into the Pre-diabetic area. You’re never ever going to get off the scale. Once they’ve got their hooks into you, they don’t let you go.

So it was a Happy Boy who left Monklands with Scamp this afternoon. A little bit less to worry about. Back home I sorted out my car insurance which was another thing I was reminding myself to do before the end of the month. One thing left to do is pay the Road Tax. That has to be done before the end of the month too. September is always an expensive month. It used to be March, for the same reasons!

Scamp wanted to do some gardening when we got home, so I did the sensible thing and took the bike out for a run in the surprisingly warm sunshine. It’s not often I can go out on the bike with shorts and a cycling top. When I was out I got some more brambles, but I think this lot will be the last. I didn’t see any ripening fruit. It was either ripe or turning to mush. We’ve got a fair bit this year, almost 2kg now. Freezer is full of bags bulging with deep purple berries.

PoD was almost a tie between a macro of a Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum) and an HDR shot of some corn bales. The corn bales won. What surprised me about the HDR shot was the way the camera just took over and did it. So easy! (I’m not going to explain what an HDR shot is because JIC will just complain about technospeak!).

That’s about it for today. The day I peed in a bucket and got a bell shaped graph. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere. Tomorrow Scamp wants to go out somewhere if it’s ‘nice’. Neither of us have a clue where that place is.

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.