Out to Brunch – 22 October 2020

Another day to get out and about fairly early.

We were picking up Isobel at 10.15 and then we were all heading off to Calders for either a late breakfast or an early lunch, it was unclear which. I’d been warned beforehand not to order coffee because I’d be disappointed with the quality and the quantity of actual coffee in my cup. The other two had scrambled eggs and a latté each while I went for poached eggs on sourdough bread with a pot of tea. Even the tea was a bit thin and to be even more critical, the eggs were a bit underdone and tepid. Maybe a bit harsh, but I am one half of the Foodie pair. As usual, Isobel regaled us with stories about her family.

We dropped her off and drove home for a cup of real coffee each. Then I went upstairs to check out a bag full of old hard disks that had been torn from ancient computers over the years. Two went in the ‘skip bag’ and two were given a reprieve until I get a chance to download the useful stuff, then they will probably be ‘skipped’ too. In the process I discovered that one of my old removable drives was also destined for the ‘skip bag’. It had had a question mark hanging over it for a while and now it wasn’t booting up, so it is with regret that it goes in the ‘skip bag’ too. However, as Scamp keeps reminding me, that’s what’s wrong with our house. Holding on to too many things that have outlived their usefulness. That’s why I make the breakfast every second day and do my fair share of the cooking too. Otherwise I might find myself in that big blue Ikea bag with the hard disks one of these days.

While I was doing the technology thing, Scamp was shopping for dinner stuff. The dinner turned out to be Trout en Croûte. They looked a bit like sausage rolls, but tasted so much better. They were so good I was almost won over to be a pescatarian!

Before dinner I risked another soaking by going for a walk in St Mo’s. Got a few shots in among the trees. Some nice looking toadstools (not good enough to eat though) and the PoD which is a spider living life in the upside down. Managed to get my feet soaked trying to get the mud off them by paddling in the shallows of the pond. Merrel is not the company it once was. Quality has really gone downhill in the last few years.

I had found some gems in my search of the hard disks. We spent an hour tonight watching a video we’d made in Amsterdam away back in 2007. Half an hour of seeing life in a different world. Crowds of people not obeying the two metre rule and none of them wearing a mask!

You will notice the lack of a sketch today. This is due to a technical problem (I didn’t have time … or inclination.). Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow. I Lied!

On the subject of tomorrow, we have no plans as yet. Apart from two sketches!!

Wet Ones – 21 October 2020

That used to be the name of hand wipes. Now it seems an apt description of the days this week.

The sun was splitting the trees this morning and we took a chance on it staying with us when we drove over to Mugdock Park. It was a bad choice. At least, for the choice of weather it was a bad one. It rained on and off all the way there, but we’d come prepared with raincoats and boots. We needed them. It was just liquid air we were walking through for a while. Down past the old ruined ‘Big House’, then down the hill to the tree lined walk. Crossed the boardwalk over the bog to Mugdock Castle on the banks of Mugdock Loch. We were in and out of the trees all the way, but I did get a few shots through the trees and of the trees themselves. It was a bit dreich, but the colours were beautiful and the company was good. We continued round the loch in the hopes of getting a cup of coffee in one of the wee cafés, but one only had outdoor seating with no available umbrellas. One only had uncomfortable bar stools available and by that time the notion had left us. We changed our footwear and went home. Annoyingly, the closer we got to Cumbersheugh, the better the weather became and when we arrived home, blue sky was showing through the clouds.

After lunch Scamp drove to Halfords to get a rear wiper fitted. I told her I could do it. The biggest problem was taking the old one off and I’d done that at the weekend. Not without a fair bit of wrestling. With the wiper in place we tackled the scrubbing down of Scamp’s car. It needed it. One of our neighbours who was watching the action said “Oh, so it’s a Red car then!” That is its first wash this week. It’s going to need at least one more, probably in a carwash before it goes for MOT next week.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Tikka Masala and I was chef. It was a slightly less than successful curry. I don’t think I’ll be using that recipe again.

Today’s prompt was “Sleep”. Another vague request. Thinking along the lines of “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?”, I asked the question:
“Do insomniac sheep dream of counting humans?”
Answers on a postcard please.

PoD was a grab shot walking through the avenue of trees at Mugdock. I don’t know who the bloke was wearing the red jacket, but thank you sir for providing my focal point. ARPS = A Red Point Somewhere!

Tomorrow we’re booked for breakfast at Calders with Isobel. Let’s hope the rest of the day is not another Wet One!

Just walkin’ in the rain – 20 October 2020

Locked to the house again this sometimes sunny morning until yet another parcel arrived from Amazon.

After the wait and after lunch and after the sun had disappeared again we decided to go for a walk just to be out of the house. Of course it rained as soon as we closed the door, but we’d agreed we would just get wet. Drove to Auchinstarry and parked at the park. After we crossed the road the rain came down even heavier. Even so, walking through an archway of autumn coloured trees was very nice. I’d been dying to try out the new 18mm lens and this would have been a good place for it, but I’d the long lens on the camera and wasn’t going to change lenses in heavy rain. Got a few moody shots of wet weeds and a nice one of a thorny bramble stem, you can see it on Flickr.

I was keeping a weather eye on the time as I had an appointment at the makeshift clinic in the town hall at 4.30 for my flu jag. I thought we might manage to get along the old railway to Twechar and back along the canal towpath by about 4pm, but it didn’t happen. The pathway was blocked by by a fence and a council notice said no through road. Apparently they were rebuilding the pathways. Luckily we had the opportunity to cross over the plantation and back via the canal. That’s where I did manage to change lenses with only a single drip on the rear element of the new lens. It was quickly blotted off and we were in business. Took a few shots of the trees across the canal in their autumn garb and one of those became PoD. Then the rain came down again. I must go back soon on a dry day to get some quality shots of that avenue of trees.

Back home and just enough time to dump the photos before I went out to get my flu jag. Five booths operating and no waiting. In and out in a flash. Scamp made a veg stirfry for dinner and it was lovely.

Watched Bakeoff and sketched today’s prompt which was Coral. We’ve a few wee pieces of coral we picked up possibly in Tobago and possibly in Corralejo in Fuerteventura. Their source is immaterial, they were coral and that was good enough for me.

We’re hoping for a slightly drier day tomorrow and maybe the chance for a walk again.

Another up and out day – 16 October 2020

Or maybe more of an ‘out and up’ day.

A more gentle start though. Spoke to Hazy who seemed impressed with yesterday’s Blog warning. First warning she’s had that there’s something she might not want to see. It’s usually JIC that gets the ‘Technospeak’ fake HTML meta text. We both enjoyed the wee chat this morning Hazy.

Today Scamp suggested we tackle Croy Hill. Not a great ascent, nor a very long one, but steep enough in places to challenge us ‘auld yins’. Stopped quite a few times to admire the view and the way the light was changing as it swept across the land. Good to see the colours in the trees turning golden brown and the low autumn light picking out the textures. While we were up at the site of the Roman fort, we could see the heavy grey clouds sliding in from the east and decided it would be a good move to make our way back down to the car. We still took our time, enjoying the scenery as we walk down.

By the time we got back to the car the clouds had indeed rolled in and banished the blue sky. As an introduction to walking in the hills (not hillwalking) it was fine. Not too demanding and the ascent and descent took about an hour and a half. It gave us the incentive to try another hill soon. It looks like we may try the new path up Bar Hill, which has a more complete looking ground plan of a Roman fort. I climbed it many years ago from the other, steeper side. The path from the Croy side looks a bit easier, but we’ll see.

Not much else of interest today. I raked the leaves from the back garden (these trees are SO untidy). Scamp made the dinner which was a Cauliflower and Potato Gratin. All her own design and it worked really well. Another to add to the recipe list.

PoD was a view from near the top of Croy Hill looking over to Bar Hill, probably our next target. It’s the only Bar in Central Scotland that’s open this month!

Today’s prompt was ‘Rocket’.  I could have drawn a spotty wee ned in a baseball cap shouting “Ha! Ya rocket!!”, but that would have required too much translation for anyone outside the Central Belt of Scotland.  For those outside that region, it means “Oh you stupid boy”.  There is a female form of ‘rocket’, but it would … require a Parental Advisory label. For those reasons, I chose to draw a cartoon rocket instead in the style of Hergé.  It’s so much easier to draw nouns than verbs or adjectives or transferred epithets (no, I don’t know what they are either). So my answer is a simple drawing for a simple request.

Tomorrow we might just be able to go for a walk again if our legs haven’t seized up with today’s ascent!

A day for getting things done – 14 October 2020

The sewing machine came out for a while.

I’d misplaced one of the pleated masks I’d made for myself and it was the most comfortable one I had. The fitted masks are very neat, but they don’t feel that comfortable on, especially when you need to talk. Talking and yawning mean the mask has to stretch and because I’m making the masks from cotton fabric, which doesn’t stretch, so instead it rides up over my chin or pulls down exposing my nose to the cold. They may look elegant, but the pleated mask has enough stretch in the pleats to allow some jaw movement. Besides they are easier to make, once you work out how to stitch pleats. I should have said they are usually easier to make. Today the stitching fairies were having a day off. However, after an hour or so both Scamp and I have a new mask each. Scamp has stars on one side (to celebrate the fact that she’s just announced that she can see Mars tonight) and stripes on the other! Mine has Dr Who on one side and frogs on the other. Stylish!

After the swearing and the stitching I took the Sony 7 out for a walk in St Mo’s, but the light was low and results were disappointing. The brightest thing I saw was the PoD. It’s a Berberis bush that grows beside the path to St Mo’s. Beautiful orange and red leaves. So startling against the dark green foliage. Ticks the box every autumn. While I was out I saw a long skein of geese coming in from the north west and heading almost directly overhead. They were constantly separating into smaller groups and then rejoining. ‘Talking’ to each other all the time. Fascinating.

Fish and Chips for dinner tonight. What’s not to like and Scamp had baked a couple of cakes too!

Sketch topic was Armour. My take on modern armour is a motorcycle helmet, and that’s what you see here.

Tomorrow we may go for a run somewhere, although we need to be back for Scamp to get her flu jag. Let’s hope it doesn’t hurt.

A Sunny Sunday – 11 October 2020

Beautiful morning when we really should have been out for a walk

While I was making the breakfast this morning, I was also making some bread. I always leave the bread making until midday at least, which means after it’s proved (first rise) and then risen properly, it’s rarely out of the oven in time to be sampled at our dinner. Today I was on the ball and had the dough made by the time the microwave pinged to let me know my porridge was cooked. Left it to prove for a good couple of hours after that. I could say that’s why we didn’t go out, but that would be a lie. I was just having a lazy morning. It wasn’t until after lunch that I remoulded the bread and left it to do its second prove.

We left the bread dough to its own devices, put on our boots and went for a walk. Today, Scamp suggested we go round Mosswater Nature Reserve. She doesn’t really like that place, because it’s a bit cluttered and the tall grass obscures what views there are. The good thing about it is the variety of ascents and descents in such a small area. She was also interested to see if it looked any better now the tall grass had died down. On the way there we found a couple of what I think were Shaggy Mane mushrooms. I wasn’t sure they were mushrooms, so we looked, but didn’t touch. They made the PoD.

After wandering round a figure eight course of Mosswater and still not being impressed with the views, we crossed the road and walked round the other nature reserve also a Mosswater, but this time it’s the “Local” nature reserve. A great deal of thought obviously went into their naming. From there we walked back up to Broadwood Loch from there back home.

Dinner tonight was one of a pair of gammon joints for me and a piece of trout for Scamp, both with roast potatoes and cabbage. Plus, of course, a slice or two of lovely white bread.

Spoke to JIC and wished him, Sim and Vixen a good holiday in Wales. It seemed like touch and go if they would get to go with the risk of an entire lockdown for Wales, but it seems the area they are headed for is clear. Hope the weather is as good as the lovely week we had in September.

Today’s topic was Disgusting.  If there’s one thing that disgusts me it is the now common practice of dogwalkers picking up their pooch’s shit in a bag, tying it off and lobbing it into the trees. Why go to the bother of pretending you care when, as soon as everyone’s back is turned, you revert to being an infection spreading vandal?

Tomorrow it looks like rain all day, so I think we will not be going far.

Your parcel has arrived – 10 October 2020

The message appeared on my phone and about ten seconds later on the computer.

I was cool, and calm before I collected. Had my coffee first then drove in to JL to pick up the parcel. Back home fairly sharpish on a beautiful SATURDAY, yes today was Saturday, morning. Unpacked it and it was a bit heavier than the A7 and maybe just a little bit bigger too, but it had more magic stuff inside it, so it was bound to be both heavier and larger. It was a Sony A7ii. Inevitably there was no power in the battery and the only way to charge it was in-camera with the adaptor and the cable provided. The A7 I’d owned for a few days came with a charger, which confirms my belief that it wasn’t just a display model. Someone had been using it for a fair amount of time. Don’t ever believe what the sales people tell you.

With the camera sitting charging I had time for a couple of slices of toast and a read at the manual, not the paper manual which had instructions in about 27 languages and was about 5cm thick. Instead I downloaded the PDF version which I can put on my phone, my tablet and my computer. I’d plenty time to read it, the charging process was going to take about 150 minutes. I think I counted each one. Eventually it was done and I could ‘play’ with the new toy. More buttons than the last one and a better button layout too. It was still a beautiful autumn day outside, so Scamp and I went for a walk … with the camera of course. I got today’s PoD on the walk, a Black Darter, one of the late hatching dragonflies. After that, Scamp went for a walk to the shops and I did another circuit of St Mo’s pond. The treeline was plagued with wee neds and nedettes today. Scamp felt sorry for them with a whole week off school and nowhere to go. I’m afraid I disagreed, having seen the other side of these poor children. Any excuse for a ‘bevvy’. Parents aren’t allowed to meet in groups of more than two households, but school kids can walk around in what one Principal Teacher once described as “tribes”. He was shouted down by many at the meeting, but secretly we all agreed with him. It’s all tribal at that age.

Messed about taking photos in the house until Scamp returned from the shops. I know I was just pushing the limits of the camera, putting it in situations that were far removed from real photography, but impressed when it passed the tests, one after the other.

Dinner was from Sim’s menu book again, Spinach Stuffed Chicken. It was lovely, served with broccoli and potatoes. Watched the qualifying for tomorrow’s GP from a cold Germany.

Sketch prompt was “Hope”. After a few false starts I settled on today’s subject, an almost empty whisky bottle and a glass. The link to Hope is in the sketch. Rather an abstract prompt and I nearly, just nearly gave up on it, but I liked the finished article.

May go for a walk tomorrow if the weather holds.

A cold day – 9 October 2020

We didn’t go far as a result, but we did walk to the shops to get tonight’s dinner, M&S curry.

Today was Saturday, well it was for us. For some reason, both of us were convinced it was Saturday when in reality it was Friday. The start of the mid-term holiday here and the start of what is being called Lockdown 2. While we are not exactly locked down firmly like we were in March, we are constantly being reminded that we SHOULDN’T be going outside our own region. There’s not a lot of interesting places to go in North Lanarkshire and with restaurants and bars closed, yes, it is Lockdown 2. We did, however go virtually outside our region today.

Scamp went to Skye over the phone to speak to her sister and after some consultation they agreed that it would probably be best if our proposed trip to Inverness was postponed for a variety of reasons. That’s a pity because I was looking forward to the photo opportunities of the drive up north. Maybe things will change, but I fear not.

I travelled virtually to Glasgow to see if I could get a decent price for that camera I had for a weekend last week. One shop I phoned said they had one in stock. I asked if it was a display model. The woman said “No it’s not, it’s just been in the window, but we don’t let people play with it.” Obviously she didn’t really understand the meaning of the word “Display”. It used to be a good shop when it was simply called “Quiggs”. Since it’s changed its name to “Merchant City Cameras”, it’s got delusions of grandeur. It’s not even in the Merchant City! I said I’d think about it. Which means “I think I won’t buy it.”

After lunch and our phone calls ‘outside our own region’, we walked down to the shops. When we left the house it felt fairly mild, but as soon as we turned our back on the sun and felt the cold blast of the wind the mildness disappeared. I carried the messages back and then went for a walk where I got today’s PoD which is a hover fly called a Footballer, because it looks as if it’s wearing a football strip. That and two spiders that look as if they are fighting over today’s lunch. When I tried to upload them Flickr started one of its hissy fits, All the typing and clicking I’d done was lost and gone forever. Sometimes I praise Flickr to the highest, more often though I am more truthful.

Topic today was “Throw”. More soul searching to find something thrown or something to throw. I did consider Flickr going out a window, but that might have been hard to draw. I finally chose a dart being thrown. Fairly happy with it after resolving some of Scamps honest crits.

Tomorrow WILL be Saturday and we may go for a drive Outside Our Own Region. I hope you read this Nic.

Writing – 8 October 2020

So much writing today.

This morning I sat down to write to my brother. We communicate by email and send each other what we consider our best photos. It’s roughly an email every two months, but I’ve been especially tardy of late and realised with a bit of a shock that my last epistle was sent on the 25th of July. It being the 8th of October today, that makes it nearly three months. I’d a fair bit to tell him, because a lot has happened at this end in the intervening 75 days. It started with Good Morning Alex, and was finally posted with Good Afternoon Alex. He deserved the time. His photos this time were excellent. Another photog who has moved back to Canon from M43. I must admit that I like the Olympus cameras and the Lumix lenses and the light weight of the cameras. I also like the detailed complexity of the menu system that allows you to change almost every bit of the hardware, but I’ve never liked the 4:3 format. I much prefer the 35mm 3:2 format whether it’s full sensor or APS-C. I just think it looks better. Anyway, I finally posted the email with my contribution of images in the afternoon. I felt better after that.

Having been sitting around all day, I needed to get out and walked down to the shops to get some stuff for tonight’s dinner, but mainly for the walk and maybe a chance to grab some photos. I didn’t get the stuff for the dinner and I didn’t get any photos either until I came home. I saw the light shining through the yellow leaves of the chestnut tree outside our house and took some shots of that, but none of them really worked for me. Instead, while I was making dinner I was putting some fish wrappings in the outside bin where they wouldn’t smell the house and saw one of Scamp’s roses just opening and there was still enough light to grab a shot. That was PoD. The rose is Remember Me and it goes through some amazing colour changes from bud to fully opened.

Dinner was Mediterranean Fish Stew. Another one stolen obtained from JIC and Sim’s recipe book, and another winner. I’d definitely make that again.

Sketch prompt today was “Teeth”. I couldn’t decide what to draw that would reference the subject. Scamp suggested the teeth of a comb. I thought of a saw’s teeth. Eventually I just sat and doodled a face with broken teeth and there was today’s picture right there.

Tomorrow all the pubs and restaurants in Central Scotland will close at 6pm and remain closed until the 25th of October. We may go out somewhere, anywhere tomorrow to have a pre-lockout drink or a lunch.

More bad news – 7 October 2020

Nic the Chick gives us more grief.

Scamp was out for coffee this morning, she only had a few minutes to speak to Hazy, before she gave me a wave and was off. That left Hazy and me plenty of time to discuss books and life in general. Thanks for the website recommendations and and for jogging my memory about a missing book from my Becky Chambers collection. It’s now on my Kindle. Laughed out loud at the cat picture you posted on FB! Fair enjoyed our wee hour long chat.

After that, it was back to gathering together the stuff to go to the tip, after I’d tried and failed to kick my Iomega Zip drive back into life. My pal reckons it may be a dodgy power supply. Put back all the stuff I’d taken out of the cupboard in the room apart from the big heavy pile that was loitering in one of those enormous Ikea bags. That was going into the “Small Electrical” skip. The other smaller Tesco bag held the “Household Recycling” junk.

Had lunch when Scamp returned and then hauled the two bags off to the council skips. Drove up to Fannyside and parked in my usual place. Listened to Nic the Chick’s proposals to make our lives even more dull and uninteresting. Yes, I know she has our safety at heart, but this is not what you want to hear heading towards November. Pubs closed (doesn’t affect me). Restaurants closed (that does!). Recommended not to travel (won’t affect me). Went for a walk along the road and back again getting some fresh air and some lovely (for me) photos of the moody moor to match my mood. Drove over to Val’s and handed him a camera he has been wanting. Nice to feel you’re doing some good. I don’t use it and he will. That makes sense to me.

Came back home and then walked to the shops to get the makings of tonight’s dinner which was Bacon & Borlotti Beans, recipe courtesy of JIC and Sim. Scamp was chef tonight and she admits it wasn’t as good as the original, but it was close enough to be worth making again. Thank you pair for the recipe.

Today’s PoD was one of those moody moor shots, because I liked the sky. Today’s Inktober prompt was “Fancy” which I turned into “French Fancy”. I’m getting to like sketching on the Craft paper. It’s like using cheap pastel paper.

No plans for tomorrow. Scamp suggested we go to a pub before they all disappear for good. That’s perilously close to the truth.