An open door policy – 16 May 2019

The door opened this morning and has been locked and unlocked a few times now. I call that a success.

Cut my hair after I got up. Number 4 all over. Thankfully Scamp corrected the bits I’d missed, and there were a few. After that I sat for a while in the sunny living room completing today’s Sudoku puzzle and also doing a quick painting of the fruit bowl with the oranges looking shiny and colourful in the sun.

With nothing else to do today and nowhere in particular to go. We finally settled on Stirling, or to be more exact, Waitrose in Stirling for the ‘messages’. I don’t know if you can actually go to Waitrose for ‘messages’. I think you go there to shop, or for shopping. We bucked the trend and went for messages.

Came home and tried to stop at Calders for some more plants. Calders was full, completely full. Not one parking space. Drove home and had lunch. An hour or two later we went back and got the plants and also a hook to hold our refilled hanging basket. Came home via Asda where I was hoping to get a couple of miniatures of whisky. The had none. It looked ominously as if that particular shelf had been cleared on purpose. This needed investigation.

Back home the sun was still shining and while it wasn’t as warm as yesterday, it was certainly shorts and tee shirt weather. So, suitably dressed I went for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s when the camera gave me a “Card Error!” Ejected it and re-inserted. Same result. After trying every thing I could think of, I knew the game was up and went for a non-photography walk over to Condorrat to see if Spar had the miniatures. Nope, they didn’t have them either. Eventually I phoned the Whisky Shop in Glasgow and was told, Yes, they had hundreds of them. The reason for the dearth elsewhere was because of new legislation for licensed premises that means they have to pay an extra fee and some are not willing to do so. Solved. Going in to Glasgow tomorrow to purchase a couple.

Still no photo, but then thought I’d take a few shots of our Strawberry & Cream Aquilegia. Set up the tripod and a few bits and pieces. Used a new card this time and it all went well.  The old card went in the bin.

Sketch theme today was A Messy Place. There are no messy places in this house. ;-). Ok. I lied. It ended up like a development sheet from a Craft & Design project, but that covered the brief. It’s done and on time.

Tomorrow, Glasgow may be the preferred destination.

The day the locksmith came – 15 May 2019

I was up early as you can imagine and even started fiddling around with the lock again, but had breakfast before I phoned for a locksmith. With no idea who was good, who was bad, well there was one obvious bad one. The only review he had on Google was one star and one word “Cowboy”. I avoided him and went for one on Yell. The bloke said he’d be out between 10 and 10.30 in the morning. He was as good as his word and he had the door opened in TEN SECONDS!! I kid you not.  Unfortunately, that was only half the story. The locking mechanism was broken and needed to be replaced. That he did with good speed and good humour. Paid him and he was off to Bellshill to fix a garage door that wouldn’t lock. I’d recommend him again to anyone.

That left us just enough time for lunch and to drive in to Glasgow for some Jive, some Quickstep, a bit of Cha-Cha and to finish off, a wee Waltz. Michael showed us the next part of our Jive routine and we also had a go at New Yorkers in Cha-Cha and a bit of the next stage in Quickstep. He really does fly through the routines.

Home and after dinner Scamp drove us to the STUC for Intermediate Salsa which was fun and Beginners Salsa which was not. Two girls, one slightly the worse for wear and one three sheets to the wind kind of spoiled the class. Yes, salsa is meant to be fun, but not to the extent that you giggle all the way through the class. That’s called Steamin’.

PoD was a hastily shot photo of the first flowering Aquilegia. Must do better. Sketch topic today was A Tree. I chose Chestnut and the result is here. It started out well, but I ran out of time. A common complaint on a Wednesday.

Tomorrow? I don’t have a clue. Today was hot. Temperature according to the car was max 25ºc and I could believe it. Tomorrow is to be cooler and not as sunny.

A walk in the park with a pokey hat – 14 May 2019

Today was a scorcher. We decided to go to Dunfermline for a walk in the park.

It looked like we had left it too late because there seemed to be no room in the usual car park at Pittencrieff Park. We even tried going further in to the park, but there were no spaces there either. Then Lady Luck smiled on us and as we were leaving I decided to have one last run round to see if anyone had moved. Someone had and it was a space under a flowering cherry tree. So not only did we have a space to park in, we had a nice flowery parasol to shade the Juke from the sun! I even took a couple of shots of the parasol and that made PoD.

We walked in to the park and, as the ice cream van was there and it was sunny, we had a cone each with Mr Whippy ice cream. Two of my readers will maybe remember Papa and Gran calling a cone, a pokey hat. That’s what we had, a pokey hat each. It was lovely ice cream too. Walked over to the long greenhouses at the far end of the park and while Scamp sat outside I went in for a nosey, mainly because the last twice we’ve been in the park, the greenhouses have been closed. Not today, and it looked like there had been some cleaning up done since we’d last been there. Also lots of the plants had labels on. Really useful.

Scamp had noticed an improvement to the general condition of the park too and as we walked round the formal garden, it was obvious that some time and money had been spent on it. Not before time.

We walked up into the town, but there isn’t much to see or do in Dunfermline now. It’s just like so many Scottish towns, more closed shops than open ones. It gets a bit depressing seeing it all over the country. We had coffee and shared a panini in Nero and then made our way back to the car. We visited a wee garden centre on the way home where Scamp got some trailing plants and I got some kale plants, because I kept forgetting to plant the seeds. I’ll put them in the raised bed tomorrow, hopefully. I also got a tap adaptor for the garden hose. Unfortunately when we got home I discovered that it wasn’t the right size for the kitchen tap, but it did fit the downstairs toilet, so we could at least water the front garden tonight. The hose is a Hozelock, and the adaptor is a Flopro, but the are interchangeable. What a brilliant idea. Both systems can live in harmony with each other. Wouldn’t it be great if our esteemed political parties could do the same!

Came home and drew today’s sketch which was A Toy.

Now found out at 11.15pm that the front door has locked itself shut and won’t open. It’s a UPVC door with the long bar running the height of the door. Locksmith needed in the morning I think. It may be a long day tomorrow!

The Smiddy and Ladybirds – 11 May 2019

In the morning we went to a funeral. After that the day started.

In the morning we went to Crawford’s brother’s funeral. Funerals have a tendency, like black monkeys (or black dogs if you prefer) to stay with me all day. This one certainly did. We went home, got changed and drove to The Smiddy near Doune for lunch.

The drive helped to take the feeling away. That and the sunshine that we enjoyed all day. Baked Potato with Veg Chilli helped too. Scamp had her usual Macaroni and Cheese with Chips. We hadn’t really intended having such a full lunch, but the food in The Smiddy is usually very good and difficult to refuse. Outside I went to take some landscapes shots in the beautiful light that always appears near this restaurant. I did get a few, but then I managed to grab the photo that became PoD. Ladybirds doing some very unladylike things! From there we drove through Doune to Dunblane and M&S Food (more food? I hear you ask). After that it was a straight run home.

Tonight’s topic in Every Day in May, number 11, was Spring. What is more springlike than daffodils and it was a single daffy that became my sketch/painting today. I liked the blurred background, but Scamp didn’t. She liked yesterday’s painting and I didn’t. I’m glad we don’t agree on everything. That was about it for today. Scamp has more plans for the garden and maybe has a storage place for the new table. I ripped out some weeds from the retaining wall at the back of the garden and noticed that quite a few of the facing bricks need replacing. Managed to rip out a fairly large nettle and got a lovely sting from it right through one of Scamp’s heavy duty gardening gloves. Scary things, nettles.

Tomorrow looks like an even better day than today. If it lives up to predictions, we may go somewhere nice. Destination unknown at present. If not we may go dancing. It’s a wait and see kind of day.

Causing bother again – 10 May 2019

The day started well, and then it stalled at B&Q.

It was a lovely morning. Really too lovely to lie in bed, but that’s what we both did. That’s what happens when you’re stuck in a good book. You waste the best part of the day.

However we did eventually get going and of course Scamp was out sorting the garden again. Planning new layouts of plants, new colour schemes and sometimes, just new schemes. However, she did get a chance to use our new garden table as a potting table. So much more sensible than crouching down filling pots with compost. Better for the back. Then she was off to get her hair cut while I messed around on the computer looking at stuff, electric shavers and such.

After lunch she was stuck in the house because it was raining, really raining. I went off to The Fort to buy the electric shaver of my dreams. Not quite as posh as some people with their Series 9s with their cleaning modules. Mine would be a Series 5, but a big step up from the old blunt Series 4 I’ve had for about fifteen years, we think.

On the way back I spotted some beautiful light beginning to build, so I stopped and photographed it of course. Not on the motorway, but down a wee side road on the outskirts of Cumbersheugh. I didn’t have time to change lenses, because the light itself was changing rapidly, so instead I took three shots and intended to combine them into a panorama in ON1. I think it worked very well. I’m very impressed with that application.  Oh yes, and while I was there I saw the first swallow this year.  This is week 19.

Back home is where the bother started. The plug that came with the shaver didn’t fit our old shaver adaptor. No problem I managed to slide the contacts in until the shaver started charging. After dinner (Simple Fish Stew from yesterday) Scamp was going to the choir concert with Isobel and I’d volunteered to drive. After dropping her off, I went to B&Q to get an adaptor. Saw one for £1.50. Yes, that sounded right. No it wasn’t. Checkout girl said it was £2.65. Nope, I said, ticket says £1.50. Her supervisor said £2.65. Long story short. I went and checked, photographed said box of adaptors and the price ticket, but it made no difference. The supervisor wouldn’t believe the photo. The price was £2.65. The arrogance of that woman really got to me. Her mantra must be ‘The Customer Is Always Wrong’. I left without the adaptor. Have you ever tried writing a complaint to B&Q? There is nowhere on their website where such a thing is possible, believe me, I spent half an hour scrutinising the website, but they must be so perfect, nobody ever complains. Either that or they’ve hauled up the drawbridge, lowered the portcullis and are all running around with their fingers in their ears, saying “NOPE, NO COMPLAINTS HERE”. I did eventually get my complaint written and sent to somewhere in the system. We’ll see what happens next.

Today’s topic is A Door. My answer is the Bin Shed Door. It used to house the bins, but now we have four different types and different sizes of bins, there’s no room for all of them in the shed. Now it’s crammed full of gardening stuff, that’s why it’s firmly closed and the snib is down!  Not perfect, but I like the pot of Honeybells on the doorstep. That makes up for the rest of the painting.

Tomorrow we’re going to the funeral of Crawford’s brother. After that, the day will start.


Dancing – 8 May 2019

A dull, day with a cutting cold wind. If this is May, what will December bring?

I’d say Winter is Coming, but I haven’t a clue what that’s all about. Something to do with Games About Thrones, I believe.

We drove in to Glasgow today and danced Jive quite well. Learned The Bumps which were fun once you got the steps in your head. Got my Spin 5 sorted out properly and went over Kicksie which is mind bogglingly difficult for my feet to comprehend. In Quickstep I passed the test for Fishtails and the bit after Sway-Sway (I don’t know its name). All this was done under the tutelage of Anne Marie whose style was so much more relaxed than Michael’s

Came home in that cold wind again and started on a sketch for tonight’s EDiM topic which was “Broken Glass/Ice”. I’d downloaded a picture of a broken glass from a royalty-free site on the net and it looked like it would work. I’ll leave you to decide. At this point in proceedings I didn’t have a PoD and was running out of time (and light) to get one. After a bit of discussion with Scamp we decided not to go to Salsa tonight to allow me time to get everything completed on time. That took the pressure off and I grabbed some pics of flowers in the garden in the fading light. The Azalea at the top of the page is the result.

Finished the sketch and quite liked it. Used two thicknesses of pen for the lifework.

Tomorrow Scamp is booked to have her hair cut and I may go somewhere scenic and hopefully sunny to grab some photos.

Another lazy day – 6 May 2019

This is getting boring. Tomorrow we must try to break out of Cumbersheugh!

The furthest we got today was the mighty Tesco. We needed milk and some veg for tonight’s dinner (Aloo Saag). We got it, we came back, we had the last of Scamp’s soup for lunch and then Scamp went out gardening.

I went upstairs to tackle today’s challenge which was the unlikely subject for me “Your daily work/office”. That’s a tricky one for someone who’s retired. I don’t actually have a “work” and certainly not an “office”. I thought of all the places I have worked, some of which could be called “offices”, but none of them impinge on my life now. Upstairs in the back bedroom is the closest I’m going to get to an office and I suppose you could call my daily photograph or my daily sketch this month a “daily work”. So that was that. It was either a sketch of a camera or of the bedroom. I settled on drawing what was in front of me, the drawing board with a couple of paintboxes an assortment of brushes and a pencil, plus odd bits and pieces. I drew it in pencil first and then outlined the result in pen, before laying down some watercolour washes. It looks ok and some people even “liked” it on FB. I’m surprised and delighted in equal measure. Tomorrows topic is “Something that makes you sad”. Hmm, that could be work itself!

I didn’t do much gardening today, I generally leave the ‘getting your hands dirty’ stuff to Scamp. She’s better at it than me. However I did put up a frame for her sweet peas at the front of the house, then she put up a bit of netting on the fence at the back for a second batch. Now she’s talking about putting netting on to the rowan tree and training yet more sweet peas up that. We’ll be overrun soon with pretty perfumed flowers. Later when I was bringing some of our most recent sowings from the greenhouse so they could get the benefit of the rain, because it was a rainy-shiny kind of day, I noticed that my leek seeds are sprouting. That’s good to know. Hopefully they will provide the basis for some soup one day. The leeks I planted last year seem to have survived the winter and are beginning to show signs of fattening up.

Today’s PoD was taken in the garden too. It’s a strawberry plant has been sitting on high in a hanging basket all winter and now it’s starting to flower again. It really deserves to be replanted and given some decent compost. Perhaps tomorrow.

Tomorrow, apart from the proposed bit of gardening we have no plans, but we really need to get away from the house, somewhere scenic perhaps.

May the Fourth be with you – 4 May 2019

The weather fairies warned us that today would be cold with a wind from the Arctic bringing the possibility of sleet and snow. It did feel cold when we woke and despite the blue sky and sunny spells, the temperature didn’t rise much. Since we had nowhere in particular to go, we just had a day at home. Sometimes it’s better to stay home at weekends and do your travelling on weekdays when other folk are working.

Scamp was about to throw out some tulip flowers when I saw the beautiful texture and colour of their petals glowing in the sunshine. I set a camera on the table and taped a bit of tracing paper behind the flowers to allow light through, but soften the view of the living room. It took a few shots and a lot of changes to settings before I got the shot I wanted.

I finally decided that one shot wouldn’t do the job. It needed too much depth of field and the only way I was going to get it was by taking at least five shots of the subject. One at the very front petal, one at the extreme back petal and at least three in between. Actually it took seven shots. The technique is called Focus Stacking and takes ages to post-process. The more shots you take, the more accurate your final shot will be, but the more time you’ll be stuck in the computer deleting bits of the different layers. Luckily ON1 2019 has focus stacking built in and the hard work is done for you. Like all AI things, it does need some human intervention to get it exactly right. That’s what I did … for about two hours, but I think the final image was worth the effort.

Scamp made her version of Minestrone soup for dinner and I made a lovely Tear ’n’ Share bread to go with it. It was a bit like a focaccia but with tomatoes in it and less oil. It should have had mozzarella in it too, but we only had green and blue mozzarella with a Use By date of the middle of March, so we decided not to use it. The dough was really sloppy but the bread was lovely and so was the soup.

Today’s challenge on EDiM was Star Wars Day. The closest I could get to it was the heads of four Lego Troopies. Just pen for a change and a challenge.

Tomorrow we may go dancing at the Record Factory.

MOT Day – 2 May 2019

Up and out to take Scamp’s Micra to the garage for MOT.

Back for breakfast and a plan for the day. I’d thought of going to Hamilton for a curry and maybe a visit to the art shop. Scamp had other ideas. She’d found a shop in Falkirk that had the rotary clothes airer (Whirly) she wanted. No problem, there’s a shop called The Range that sells cheap art materials. So, off we went to Falkirk.

The satnav found the shop even after disagreeing with my initial change of route. Scamp found the whirly and we were soon trying to inveigle it into the Juke. Finally it fitted, but only after we dropped both the back seats and Scamp moved her seat a notch forward. I had a look in The Range, but the paints I was looking for weren’t really all that cheap, just cheap looking. I had a look in Boots and Argos for a new electric razor, but couldn’t decide which one. So back we went to Cumbersheugh.

Scamp wanted a new planter (or two) for here sweet peas and also for anything that would fit into the other one. She also picked up this week’s plant which has blue flowers and an unpronounceable name. Next stop was B&Q to find out if they had any Impatiens, pink ones. They did, which brought another smile to her face. While we were plant shopping I got the phone call from the garage that the car would fail because of a broken front spring. Agreed to the price and told them to go ahead.

We were passing the new(ish) Milano cafe and stopped there for lunch. Lunch was a pizza each. Initial thoughts were that it was little more than a transport cafe, but one look at the pizza was enough to convince us otherwise. Very nice pizzas. Worth another visit.

Back home we chose a place for the new whirly and with a spade I decided ‘X’ marked the spot and started to hammer the 400mm long galvanised steel holder into the back garden grass. It wasn’t as difficult as it first appeared, but a lot more difficult than the instructions implied. Wish I’d brought that big lump hammer back from school over four years ago. It would have made short work things. We assembled the dryer and it’s still standing after having helped dry some sheets. It isn’t exactly vertical, but it hasn’t fallen down yet which the clothes pole is about to do. That could be my next task, to hacksaw down the clothes pole. But that’s for another day.

I thought I had enough time to go for a walk before we went for the car, but I was wrong. I’d only been out for about 15 minutes when the call came in. Rushed back and drove Scamp down to the garage to pick up her wee car.

Gave up on the walk to take photos and settled for a shot of the American Cowslip I got in Skye last year about this time. It completely died away last year and I was sure it was gone, but then Scamp announced a few weeks ago that she thought it was growing. It’s now flowering and we may have to re-pot it once its flowers have gone. Such a pretty and strange wee flower. That became PoD.

The topic for today’s EDiM sketch/painting was “An insect you would miss” and my insect was a Ladybird. It’s ok. It could have been better if I hadn’t left it so long to start working on it. Tomorrow will be better.

Found out that my old electric razor still had a charge in it. Even better I found the charger too. It still works but is a bit rough on the skin. I found a label on it that told me I should change the cutter and foil every 18 months. I though it was every 18 years!

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go for a curry in Hamilton.

Stirling – 27 April 2019

Went to Stirling today to get nothing in particular and we were successful.

It was a lovely day when we started out, but we could see that things were a bit more changeable in the Stirling direction. Parked in our usual place and discovered that in May the charges go up by 40%!! That may seem like an outrage, but it still means that we can park for a whole day for £2. You’d be pushed to get an hour’s parking for that in Glasgow. Paid up and walked through a steadily increasing drizzle to the Thistle Centre. Went to Waterstones and picked up a likely looking book. A ‘real’ book with pages and a cover and everything. First ‘real’ book I’ve bought in ages. Scamp found the trousers she’d been looking for in M&S, so we both got something.

Talked for a while to Mhairi who had a stall in the centre this weekend. Had coffee in the usual Nero and came home. Drove through more April showers on the motorway and decided we’d eat from the remainder of yesterday’s dinner. ‘Rats’ for Scamp, Tagine for me. Before that, I just had time for a quick walk over St Mo’s before the rain came on heavy. Got today’s PoD which is a rapidly forming pine cone. It’s only just over a month since they looked like this, a little pineapple. Enjoyed the walk, but there was definitely the hint of rain on the wind, so I curtailed the walk and came home. On the way home I found a bunch of flowering Cowslips. I’d just been reading a year ago’s blog post about finding a bunch of these flowers blooming at the same time of year, despite 2017/2018’s terrible winter. They had a much easier time of it this winter, but still flowered in the same week.

Watched a scary Baku GP qualifying. Two drivers crashing at exactly the same place. Both unhurt, but badly damaged cars.

That was it for today. Nothing exciting and no real cooking either.

Tomorrow we may go dancing at Mango if it’s on.