Cold and Frosty – 19 January 2020

Not just the morning, either. Most of the day was cold at least.

Not a day for doing much. Certainly in the morning at least, not a lot done. Finally agreed to go to the manky Classic Grand (so inaccurately named) for the Salsa Ceilidh. That was about it for the morning.

After lunch I went out to take some photos in St Mo’s and after that I walked down to the shops to get enough stuff to make soup for tonight’s dinner, which was to be Tomato and Red Pepper soup. Well, we’ve had two days of heavy lunches which for me included lots of red meat, so making an effort today to be meat-free was a good idea. Scamp didn’t mind, in fact she was quite like minded and soup was easy and fairly quick to make. We could have a bowl of it before we went out dancing tonight. Soup and Salt ’n’ Pepper bread to dook. Yes, that would do nicely.

The walk to St Mo’s wasn’t the best. There was very little to see and the cold west wind wasn’t conducive to spending a lot of time framing up a shot. PoD was the Whin bush, also known as Gorse, looking really jaggy. Almost making it to PoD was a landscape shot of a beautiful sky. I’ve often faked a sky to look like that. Today I just photographed it. Nice to see that skies like that actually exist outside of someone’s imagination. Speaking of imagination, I’ve an idea for a fantasy shot. I got one of the elements of it today. Really need a starlit sky for the background and although I could just download one, it would be better to create one myself. Must look out some of my old photoshop reference books.

Made the soup when I came back and almost forgot about the dancing tonight. It was a good Sunday Social with lots of folk I haven’t seen for ages turning up. Spoke to Heather and John and wished them well for their trip to Cuba this Tuesday. Seven days with ten hours of dancing tuition booked. Maybe fun, might just be purgatory. We’ll no doubt find out when they return with lots of stories and lots of photos. Really wish we were going!!

Soup was good and will be better tomorrow. Soup always is. As for the rest of tomorrow, well it’s Gems and it’s Ballroom. Hopefully our bits and pieces of practice will have rubbed off some of the rough edges.

Another ‘out early’ day

Today we had planned to go to Troon. For once that’s exactly what we did.

Drove down to Troon on the west coast and actually got parked easily in the town. Went for a very cold walk along the front as far as the wind surfers’ carpark. Part of it was almost painless as we were protected from the onshore wind by the three meter high sand dunes. The walk back along the beach was not so comfortable, but gave us an excellent view of the two windsurfers and the kite surfer who seemed to revel in the windy conditions. Got a PoD of two people walking further along the beach than we did. It looks as if it’s a warm evening shot, but it was a bitter midday one in reality. Back in the car we drove down to Scotts for lunch.

We hadn’t booked and I was beginning to wish we had when we saw the number of people going in to the restaurant with views across the marina. I needn’t have worried, we got seated without a problem. Service was a bit slow, but then it was really busy. Food was excellent, as it always is here. Scamp chose Spinach and Potato soup followed by Smoked Haddock and Salmon Gratin. Mine was Spiced Cauliflower Beignet (a bit like mild cauliflower pakora) followed by Slow Cooked Beef Daub with Mash and Cabbage. Both meals were absolutely delicious, although my Spiced Cauliflower Beignet was that star in my eyes. Coffee to start with Tea and Coffee to finish. It was too cold a day for cold drinks.

Stopped at Morrisons on the way home for some essentials like bread and milk. Also filled up the Juke’s tank and drove home through the occasional rain shower. It may have been cold on the beach at Troon, but at least it was dry.

Back home I found a letter telling me it was time for me to update my driving license as I am fast approaching the age when I have to confirm that I am a fit and able driver, but thankfully I don’t have to resit the driving test. That might have been a problem.

Oh, yes and we booked our summer holiday. A good end to a sunny, but not exactly warm day.

Tomorrow we may go to the east, now that we’ve visited the west.

Out before 11? Oh yes – 16 January 2020

Not only was I out before 11am, I was out and back with a card full of photos by 11 today.

The sun was up and so was I. I wasn’t going to waste good light like I did yesterday. Today I was going out to grab some photons and imprison them in an SD card. By the time I was actually going out, I could sense that the light was already fading, but undeterred I walked over the boardwalk and into the trees. I’d nothing really in my head for a photo, but as usual, I found some things. Mostly they were macro things. Wee things you pass by without thinking, but sometimes you have to stop and look and visualise what you could turn them into. That’s how I got today’s PoD. It’s really just an old rotting fence post with some barbed wire wound round it. I liked the different textures in the shot, but light was low, so I used the torch on my phone to give me some much needed light. Later when I was scanning the shots on the computer I realised the torch light had created a green cast. It was fairly easy to remove, but in the process it accentuated the reds in the lichen growing on the stump and also the rust on the wire. That’s what made it PoD. I could have turned it into a monochrome image, my first thought, but then I’d have missed those glorious colours.

Back home and after a morning coffee – much better today Hazy, we planned the rest of the day. I wanted a new pair of dance shoes. I’d say I needed a new pair of dance shoes, but ‘wanted’ is nearer the truth. I ‘need’ to get my old shoes re-soled, but another pair of dance shoes wouldn’t go amiss. Of course, Scamp is aways on the lookout for a new pair of sparkly dance shoes. Drove to the shop following the satnav and found it without any problem. They had the shoes I wanted, but not in my size. Bummer. Worse than that, they were sold out of gents shoe soles too! Double Bummer. The lady took my name and number and said she’d contact me when the shoes came back in to stock, possibly next week. Meanwhile Scamp had chosen one pair for herself and was considering another pair. Eventually she decided to limit herself to just the one pair, with the option to think about the other pair as a possible purchase when I was going to get mine. Devious.

We decided to go for lunch to Frankie & Benny’s for lunch. Since I was denied my dance shoes, I suggested we go to the Bishopbriggs site, where I could peruse the ‘toys’ in Currys after lunch. I’m not looking for anything in particular, but everything in general, usually the best time to window shop. That’s what we did. The satnav again did the heavy lifting and found us a way across a gloomy and dull Glasgow to the retail park. Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp and Cheese Burger (No Mayo) for me. Lovely. By the time we were coming out, the rain had started. Saw lots of ‘toys’ in Currys, but nothing that was very interesting. Drove home through the gloom and the rain.

There was one more photo taken today and that was the new and updated Christmas Tree fairy. She’s been in need of a makeover for many years and this year she got her wish. New underskirt. Newly washed (twice washed) dress and a new pair of sparkly wings. Most of the work was down to Scamp. Before she goes back in her box and into the loft until next year it seemed like a good idea to give her a photoshoot. I do believe she’s smiling.

Tomorrow we may go out somewhere. It will be cold, but clear for most of the day according to the weather people. We’ll wait and see.

Not much done today – 15 January 2020

Scamp was out to meet Isobel for coffee. I put some washing on.

I know now that I should have gone out and taken some photos when there was a decent amount of light, but I didn’t. I put some washing in the machine and let it roll. Went and checked my laptop was still working and it was. Tidied up the painting / photography / drawing / repair room a bit. Not enough that anyone but me would notice. With that all done the washing was done, so I hung it up and left to go to my checkup at the dentist. Thankfully I got a clean bill of health and left with my next appointment pencilled in for some date and time in July. That’s the way the time goes. Thinking about July when it’s still January.

By the time I got home the good light had gone and Scamp had arrived back from coffee time. After lunch the weather looked settled, so Scamp hung out the clothes to dry in the just less than gale force wind. Then we went to get some compost for my peppers at Calders. Unfortunately they were in the midst of some serious reorganisation and there was no access to the area at the rear of the building where they store the compost. Instead we went to B&Q and picked up a bag and by the time we were heading home the rain started and didn’t look like stopping. Thankfully the washing wasn’t very wet because the wind had dried it more than the rain had wet it. That was just about the sum and total of our activities today.

With the rest of the afternoon to use up I offered to make some bread and when that was on the go, I also made some Lemonade Scones.  Haven’t tried the bread yet, but the scones passed the taste test easily.  Scamp made Mac ‘n’ Cheese for dinner. Simple, tasty and filling.  What more can you ask.

Today’s PoD is the ‘Mother Cactus’ which is now flowering quite happily on the window sill. Yesterday’s PoD the Geranium was a nightmare to light with LED lights. Tonight was much simpler. Just one LED light and also the room light which thankfully is a daylight bulb and nearly the same Mired value as the LED (remember Mired from a previous lesson? Basically how red or blue the light is.) Hopefully tomorrow I’ll get some photos outside in the real world.

The plan for tomorrow is to go for a new pair of dance shoes for me, and of course Scamp will need a new pair too. That’s the plan. Whether it works out that way or not is in the lap of the gods, the weather gods.

Rain, rain, rain – 11 January 2020

It was wet today, in fact it never stopped.

It was obvious from early today that it wouldn’t be anywhere near as good as the last three or four days. We’d intended going out for lunch, but I’d ordered a new battery for the MBP and it was supposed to be delivered today. It was, but the delivery bloke didn’t even knock the door, he just left the parcel in the bin shed. That said, it was absolutely tipping it down when he came, so I couldn’t really blame him for not waiting at a possibly locked door.

It must have taken me at least ten minutes to disconnect the old battery, remove it, replace it with the new one and reconnect it. Then it took about two hours to charge it. The best advice I had from the ‘net was to leave it charging for at least a further two hours, which I did. In the meantime I tested and tasted my bacon, haggis, pork and whisky sausages. They were good, and an interesting taste. That’s as much as I’m saying just now. Had some of Hazy’s Columbian coffee too. It was much sharper and more bitter than my usual drink but, again, worth trying a second or third cup tomorrow.

After lunch we decided we’d eat in tonight and Fish Curry was on the menu. It should really be Egg Curry, but if you substitute fish for eggs it works equally well. It’s really a dhal with a lot of red lentils in it and also some coconut milk. We’ve been making it for years. It originated from a recipe book we bought in Woolworths. Remember them? I drove up to Tesco to try to post some of the calendars, but the post office closed at 12.30 and it was now past 2.30, so I missed it by a mile. Came home with rice for the curry and a couple of bottles of alcoholic beverages.

Time for laptop phase 2. Unplugged it and it started. The guide said to run it until it shut down. That took just over four hours, during which time we made the curry and ate half of it, leaving the remainder for tomorrow’s dinner (it was still raining by the way). We also watched an hilarious episode of Bake Off with The Derry Girls. Not something I’d have considered funny, but it just worked.

The laptop is now on phase 3 of its calibration cycle. It’s switched off and will remain switched off for at least five hours. That means it should be switched on about 2am. That’s where the “at least” factor kicks in. It may get switched on around 9am tomorrow, but not before.

Scamp and I had fun trying to fill a beanbag with polystyrene beads (does that make it a beadbag?). Eventually these beads with minds of their own were safely ensconced in their little bag and sewn in. I used it to prop up the camera which produced tonight’s PoD which is the Weemen ‘helping’ to swap out the new battery for the old one.

Tomorrow, on paper, looks better than today, but that wouldn’t be difficult. We’ll wait and see. No definite plans.

Earwigging – 9 January 2020

As soon as the sky cleared today we were off on our travels.

Today Scamp suggested we should go to The Smiddy for lunch and a chance for me to take some foties. I thought it was a good idea, but added a stop at Muirhead for some carnivore food. It was actually in the opposite direction, but would only take us half an hour at the worst. Stocked up on sausages, mince, burgers and chicken and then we were off along the M80 and M9 then the A84 to Blair Drummond and the destination for today. Two toasties, one each. Cup of coffee (me) and peppermint tea (Scamp) and an opportunity to earwig the conversation between two ‘auld guys’ talking about somebody digging the founds or ’foonds’ (foundations) for a house by hand. I say we were earwigging, but it was difficult to avoid one side of the conversation which was broadcast at full blast. It was when the auld guy started elaborating that he’d seen this man “… in the pishin’ rain wi’ an auld coat oan, digging’ away …”, that’s when I smiled. I could just picture this man digging the foundations of his house with rain dripping off his auld coat and running down his neck too no doubt. I felt like thanking them when they got up to leave. Just two auld guys.

We left soon after and I got four sausages made with haggis, streaky bacon, pork and whisky. They’re in the freezer now. I’m keeping them for the weekend because they sound interesting. Back in the car we headed towards Doune, but never reached it. I took a road we’d never been on before, the B8032 that took us by a twist, turny, up and down way to Callander. The land of the blue rinse brigade on a Sunday outing, but today was Thursday so we were safe.

Parked near the river, very near the river which was coming up to meet us. Scamp had noticed the sand bags stashed at the side of the entrance and it looked like they’d be needed soon. The riverside carpark is quite often flooded but today it wasn’t too bad by Callander standards. We went for a walk through the town which looked as if it was shut, but there were a few shops open. Lots and lots of charity shops, which is a mark of small towns in Scotland these days. Bought a few cakes to have when we got home. It was a bit cool today and I think we were both quite pleased to be back in the car. A pleasant enough drive home except the bright low sun was a pain and I had to resort to sunglasses. Sunglasses in January? Who ever heard of such a thing.

PoD is a picture of the gulls sailing down the river in the carpark at Callander with Ben Led in the background.

Tomorrow looks like the last of the dry(ish) days for a while, so if it’s fine and clear we’ll probably go out for a while.

Windy and Warm – 7 January 2020

I thought I’d woken up in the middle of the night and then notice it was about 8.15am and it was dark outside.

It stayed like that all day with only about 30 minutes in the middle of the day when there was light on the horizon, but it didn’t last. Scamp wanted to go shopping today and that’s what we did. Because the only place she knew she could get some of today’s messages was Morrisons, and in an attempt to offset the shortfall in their winter sales figures, that’s where we were going. Next question was where. Falkirk is our usual preferred shop, but with the strong winds, especially in the east and the heavy rain showers, I suggested we go to The Fort instead. Closer and quicker to get to. Also, I wanted some stuff from Hobbycraft at The Fort. With that settled, we wrapped up well and drove off. It may have been stormy and wet, but it was also warm. The car thermometer read 12ºc when we left the house.

So we got what we wanted in Morrisons, except the bottle of Grants Sherry Casked which was absent from the shelves and also the Yorkshire Mixture which was also missing. Could it be the same person who had a taste for sweeties and whisky? Did they perhaps drop a couple of sweeties in their dram? Maybe I should try that. We bought a bag of polystyrene beads for me to make a bean bag to rest my camera on when taking low macro shots (they came in handy later). We also bought some sparkly foam backed card to make The Fairy a new pair of wings. Scamp is going to wash The Fairy’s dress, make her a new underskirt and also repair her wings. The Fairy is almost 50 years old and hasn’t had her dress cleaned or her underskirt replaced in all that time. Her wings have been repaired once or twice, but really do need to be renewed. Happy with our purchases we headed home.

Scamp went out to get her hair cut after lunch and came back looking even more beautiful than normal (if that’s possible). Then I discovered I needed spring onions for tonight’s dinner (Pad Thai), so I wrapped up well, stuck in a pair of headphones and enjoyed a walk in the rain with The Uncle Devil Show to get the spring onions. That’s when I noticed my thighs were aching a bit, presumably from the two days dancing I’d had Sunday and Monday.

The Pad Thai worked really well. It was from a kit, but the only pre-prepared ingredient was the sauce, I’m sure I can find a recipe for it on the net and make my own. Noodles make a nice change from rice. After that I had to find a PoD. I found it in the bag of polystyrene beads. I sat a bunch of grapes on the bag of polystyrene beads. Lit it from below with two LED lights. Then used reflected light from a third LED light to remove some of the shadows from the grapes. PoD done.

Before I wrote this blog I cancelled my upgrade to ON1 2020. Too many bugs in it that would be caught, quote ’in a future update’. Sorry, but I paid for software, not to be a beta tester.

Tomorrow I may tackle the making of the bean bag. Also, we may go out somewhere for a walk if there’s any light and if the wind abates.

Dull but we went Dancing – 5 January 2020

Today was nothing to write home about on the weather front. Just dull and grey.

I did get out for a while in the afternoon, but there was nothing inspiring to photograph. That didn’t stop me, of course, but there was nothing in the twenty shots that I took that stood out enough to be a PoD.

Slow cooked Lamb Shoulder for dinner had been started before lunch. Seared the meat in the frying pan then pierced it all over and stuck in some rosemary sprigs, rubbed some salt into the still hot meat and put it in the slow cooker for three hours. I came out nice and tender, although there were a few chewy bits away from the bone. What we in Scotland would call ’Cheuch’. The rest of the meat was fine. Scamp’s dinner was much quicker to cook. She had a fresh tuna steak which she cooked like I would cook a steak. Three minutes per side with a couple of minutes standing time. It looked lovely too.

Drove in to Glasgow and got parked right away. In fact there were lots of parking places available. Found out that 12 folk from one of the salsa classes have booked a week long holiday in Cuba and hired a salsa teacher to boot. That would have been a good break, but probably a bit too much ‘away time’ at the busy start of the year. Danced with a few folk I knew from class and so did Scamp. Managed to remember how to salsa and made up a few ‘new’ moves that I can’t remember now. That’s how it goes some days. Still can’t imagine two classes being taught at the same time in such a small space and with bar service running at the same time. Good luck with that Shannon.

Spoke to JIC in the evening and he gave some advice on curing Scamp’s dodgy tummy problem. She will be out tomorrow morning buying JIC’s remedies.

Today’s PoD was taken with the Teazer2 from where we parked just off Byres Road. I tried it with a lower ISO and a longer exposure, but this was definitely better, even with the heavy grain.

Tomorrow Scamp has a gig and we are hoping to go ballroom dancing in the evening.

Heading west – 4 January 2020

Today we were heading for Helensburgh, despite the rain.

A day by the sea with a bracing walk along the prom would do the both of us a world of good. I’m sure some people would turn up there noses at the idea of Helensburgh (one in particular), but it has the best pizza shop outside of Glasgow. Not that that was an ulterior motive of mine!

Went by the scenic route through the wee villages of about five houses with their 30mph signs and the twisty turny roads. Driving through low clouds that seemed to think they were doing us a service by tipping their rain down on us. Reached Helensburgh without any great problem drove in to the carpark and saw a sign. New Carpark Charges. It had always been free. Surely they hadn’t put meters all over the place. Needn’t have worried, there was the sign behind the first one No Charge for cars, buses, lorries or motorcycles. Hmm it must only be the occasional tractor or helicopter or perhaps Jumbo Jet that needs to buy a ticket then.

We walked along there prom and that’s where I got my PoD. Somebody obviously thought the sunglasses were an optional extra today and left them, intending to pick them up again if the sun started blazing down later in the day. They were still there when we walked back again through the rain.

Walked round the shops which didn’t take all that long. This isn’t a shopping metropolis, just a run down wee town with more coffee shops and charity shops per head than anywhere we’ve been for a while. The pizza shop was open, but when we went in I noticed the pizza ovens were off. Was he doing pizzas today. “Not just now” was the reply. This must be the first time we’ve been to Helensburgh and been told “No!” Maybe the sign of things to come.

Had coffee and a bite to eat in Costa where the coffee wasn’t just drinkable, it was good. It must be the baristas or the coffee in Cumbersheugh that’s rubbish. It’s been good almost everywhere else, other than Falkirk where they teach bad coffee making to would-be Cumbersheugh baristas.

Bought some stew and some sausages in a butchers shop and we headed home via Waitrose to get tomorrow’s dinner. Decided to take the M8 road home and it was much more pleasant than the ‘scenic route’. Getting near Glasgow I could see the red brake lights in front and a sign announcing slow traffic ahead. It was a queue easily a mile long – I kid you not – to get into the retail park at Braehead. We changed lanes and avoided it, but as we passed the entrance, the single lane queue turned into a four lane traffic jam. The trouble is once you’re in that four lane queue, you’re committed and have to just follow it where it leads. Glad we hadn’t decided to go to Braehead!

Dinner tonight was a Spice Tailor curry which could have been better, the chicken being a bit tough. Scamp kindly said that it was probably tough chicken and not my cooking that was at fault. I knew the truth.

Tomorrow we may go dancing.

Out and about – 3 January 2020

It was bright and it was dry when I was making the breakfast. No lounging around today.

We made the excuse that we needed printer ink and that was why we were going to avoid the crowds by driving in to Glasgow early. We ended up on level 5 of the Buchanan Galleries carpark, partly by design and partly by necessity. We were going for printer ink and that’s on the “Toyshop” 1 level, level 5 of John Lewis. There might have been spaces on levels below that, but there were plenty to choose from on 5. We got the last bottles of ink, four of them: Blue, Pink, Yellow and Black, the last ones in the rack. Cost about £35 for the lot. It’s an absolute steal when you think that each bottle contains 70ml and an average ink cartridge holds about 10ml and costs the same as that bottle and you still need four of them!

I dumped the ink in the boot of the Juke and noted that in the 15 minutes or so we’d been in the shop the parking spaces on level 5 had almost all been taken. With the main reason for the visit ticked off, we went for a walk. Scamp suggested we walk round Glasgow Green and since it was still a bright dry day, that’s what we did. We walked down Bucky Street and along Argyle Street, then zig zagged down to the Green. Walked under the McLennan Arch which is where I got today’s PoD from. Well, almost. Because as usual, all is not as it seems. I had to do a bit of cut ’n’ paste to get the photo looking the way I saw it in the viewfinder, but that’s normal. Walked round to the suspension bridge and watched the rowers chasing each other’s tails up and down the river. Walked back past the now barricaded Wintergarden that Glasgow Council seem to want to pretend doesn’t exist any more and back into the city. Cup of coffee and a spot of lunch then home. Thought I might manage an hour in St Mo’s, but it wasn’t to be. We were hardly in the door when the rain started. By the time it went off, the best of the light had gone.

Dinner tonight was Braised Peas with Bacon, Lentils and Cod. It’s becoming a firm favourite with us. Quick to make and very tasty. Note: No Potatoes!

That was about it for the day. Much better day than yesterday, even managed my 10,000 steps, but not my 8 active hours.

Tomorrow we’re going to do the same thing in a different place. Rain or shine we’re going out, or so the plan reads tonight.

  1. So called because it’s the level with the technology ‘toys’ for sale. It’s a sort of creche where women leave their husbands to prowl and drool over the lovely toys in the glass cases. While they go and browse the sensible stuff like dresses and washing machines.