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Walking in Sunshine – 13 August 2017

There were no Perseid shooting stars to be seen last night. Even when some kind children (teenagers that is) woke me at around 3am, I staggered through to the back room observatory but still could not see any astral fireworks. I think it’s just a story put about by the media to induce insomnia in the unwary.

Today was fairly bright, then dull, then sunny, then dull. At least it wasn’t raining. Spoke to Hazy for about an hour on Skype and found out about her Amsterdam trip. Couldn’t believe it when Scamp and I were discussing Amsterdam afterwards, that it was about ten years ago we were there. How time flies.

After lunch we pottered about in the garden. Ripping out the pea plants and composting them. Planting some nasturtium seeds that I harvested last year. Just to see if they will come. Planted some seeds I harvested this year from the aquilegia. Just pottering.

Eventually I got fed up with the horticultural life and drove down to Auchinstarry for a walk in the sun. Before I went, I got the PoD which is of California Poppies in the front garden. Glorious golden colours from the Golden State. Found a host of caterpillars all squeezed on to a branch of a bush. Not sure whether they are from a moth or a butterfly. Posted the pic on Flickr. Someone there will be able to ID them. Sun was warm and the wind was light, so it was great to be out walking in such pleasant weather.

Dinner tonight was roast shoulder of pork with apple sauce from our own apples, James Grieve. Scamp made it and it was lovely. She also calculated the cooking time for the pork and it too was lovely. She had Sea Trout.

It looks as if we will be getting some rain tomorrow.

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Out for a spin – 12 August 2017

Woke up to rain, so had a lazy start to the day until the sun started to show around midday. Set off about 1 pm to go for a wee spin and to see if there was anywhere that would serve us lunch. There was.

We drove to the Oakwood garden centre near Killearn and had a decent sandwich lunch and a more than decent cafetiere of Colombian Rich coffee. I got the scenic seat looking out the picture window across the fields to the hills beyond. The view in this cafe has to be seen to be believed. After lunch we drove down through Balfron to Stirling and Waitrose where we picked up tomorrow’s dinner. Sea Trout for Scamp and Pork Shoulder for me. Lovely drive through the Stirlingshire countryside. Loads of opportunities for photos, but never took them.

Came home and visited St Mo’s which is where I saw today’s PoD of a rather grumpy looking Mr Grey. St Mo’s was full of weans, and I don’t mean primary school weans, I mean S3/4 14 and 15 year olds easily twenty or thirty of them roaming around trying to find something to brag to their mates about on the last few days of their summer holidays. What one of the Principal Teachers described as a ‘Tribe’. That is what they are like. Feral, that’s the only word for them, almost domesticated animals. Barely house trained. I’m glad I can walk away from them now.

Hoping to catch a glimpse of some shooting stars tonight when we pass close to the Perseids. We’ve been on intersecting orbits since 36AD or before. The first documented encounter was around that time according to Wikipedia. (I can’t be arsed with the current CE or BCE nonsense. If you feel insulted by that then tough, off you go and complain to someone who cares.)

Tomorrow the weather will be much the same as today and maybe even a little better.

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Slow bus to Glasgow – 11 August 2017

It was raining when we woke. Not heavy rain, just fitful little showers, like a petulant child who doesn’t want to be ignored, but has nothing to say.

After the inevitable checking of FB and Flickr, and of course a cup of strong coffee, it was time to get the bus into Glasgow. A journey that would have taken 15 minutes in the car took almost an hour. 15 miles in an hour. It’s not difficult to work out the average speed. What was worse was that this was an almost brand new bus which, like modern cars has the engine cut out whenever the gearbox is in neutral and the wheels have stopped. That’s ok(ish) in a car, but is a total pain in the arse in a bus. I’d estimate that in an unlucky car being caught at all the traffic light and roundabouts, taking the same route, the engine would stop less than 10 times. The bus must have stopped easily 30 times and each time the engine cut out. Like I said earlier, I can almost see the point of the engine switching off in a car in the city, but the inevitable wear and tear on the engine and especially the starter motor by the constant stopping and starting must offset any fuel saving or air pollution advantages.

Visited Nero for a coffee and a chance to sketch the grey masses walking, head down, along Sausage Roll Street.  First decent sketch since we returned from the cruise.  Pleased with it.  The wee A6 sketchbook fits neatly in the pocket of my blue rainy coat, so it’s always there.  I’ve got Fred to thank for that idea.

I wanted to see the Lost Glasgow exhibition run by Glasgow City Heritage Trust
in Bell Street. It originated from a FaceBook page. Although there were some interesting photos, I couldn’t say I found it all that interesting. What I did like was the fact that the photos were mounted on foam board with a short description on the back. The photos themselves were stacked on shelves around the display space and this allowed easy access and the ability to pick them up and examine them close up. They even had magnifying glasses placed around the room to allow even more investigation of places and faces. I’d have liked to have seen more photos, always more photos. That’s what this FB page is famous for. Outside in Brunswick Street the JCBs were creating another Lost Glasgow entry by demolishing more old buildings.

Lunch in Paesano was a salad for Scamp and a pizza for me. After that, some light shopping and few foties, then the slow bus back home. My PoD was the shot of the GOMA. I felt sorry for Marlie Mul having her exhibition cancelled, then I read the full story here.

The weather started off wet in the morning, dried up in the early afternoon, rained a bit more in the late afternoon and then dried up again. Scattered showers, that kind of summed it up. Tomorrow might be a bit better according to the weather fairies.

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The beginning of the end – 10 August 2017

The sun was shining when we woke this morning, but then it said goodbye as the clouds rolled in and took its place.

That more or less summed up the day. Cloudy. Not cold and not wet, just dull.

Scamp went for messages and I painted over yesterday’s twee little landscape thing. Then I did what Fred had been talking about, the technique of the moment called Acrylic Pouring. He’s got a garage to paint in, I’ve got a back bedroom with a carpet on the floor. A light coloured carpet. That restricted the Jackson Pollock in me and I took a bit more care than he would have in my search for an abstract. As is usually the case, after a bit of mixing and splashing, the basis of a landscape appeared. I let fly with another burst of acrylic paint and the landscape disappeared under some cloud, then magically reappeared. At this point, Scamp returned laden with shopping and I had to stop to help her and allow my ‘creation’ dry. Then it was lunch time.

After lunch I poked, prodded and generally abused the canvas a bit more, then went out to take some photos. I love the work the volunteers have done in St Mo’s, creating a wildflower garden. The council threw some seed down a few years ago and with much publicity claimed it had created a wildflower garden. Weeds and grass do not a wildflower garden make NLC. Thankfully the volunteers took over and finished the job. Anyway, the autumn colours of the flowers today shone in the sun that was playing hide and seek among the breaking clouds and that is my PoD.

Came home after a short walk, because there were weans everywhere, also trying to make the most of the sun on their last full week of the summer holidays. Only they were noisier and not as well behaved as me.  As I was walking home from St Mo’s, and less than 50m from home, there were two deer.  A buck and a hind, grazing as if they were out on a hillside in Glencoe.  I managed a few shots, then thought better of going closer in case I spooked them and they ran off across the busy road.  Photo on Flickr.

After dinner, which was a lovely chicken breast on a green vegetable spread (with potatoes, of course) we were just watching the girls running races on the TV (some big ‘running races’ thing in London) when I absentmindedly pinged the cap off my tooth. It had only lasted about a month! I think it may be a waste of the dentist’s and my time replacing it this time.

Whisper it. It’s going to rain tomorrow. Oh no, the beginning of the end!

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Go out walking in the rain – 6 August 2017

It wasn’t the most inspiring day today. It had been, earlier on. Then we had hills from the back window, but later in the morning the hills had disappeared under a sheet of white, low lying cloud and the rain looked as if it was just about to appear. It did, and it stayed for the rest of the day.

We didn’t have any decent bread, so when I was getting the lunch sausages out of the freezer (fried lunch on a Sunday) I pulled out a 500(ish)g piece of frozen bread dough and set it to thaw out. After lunch the rain got a bit lighter, then the sun tried to come out, failed and the rain took its place again. It was about then I decided I was going out to take some photos, in the rain if necessary. So dressed in an old pair of jeans and my trusty rainy coat, I walked over to St Mo’s to feed the ducks and hopefully get some photos. The one above is my favourite. It was taken with the Nikon and a Sigma 105mm macro lens. A beautiful lens designed for taking close-ups. No zoom. It’s a Prime and with a maximum aperture of f2.8, depth of field is minimal. If none of that makes sense to you, then I’m sorry. Let’s just say this is one of my oldest and most favourite lenses.  Brilliant for beasties!

When I got back and got changed out of the sodden boots and jeans, I started to solve a puzzle that has appeared since I started using El Cap. The problem is Photos. It’s an app that is part of OSX and every time you plug in an SD card it pops up wanting to handle your photos for you. Well, actually I have my own software to do that, thank you very much, so bog off Photos. Except, it won’t, or should I say it didn’t until I fixed it today. You see, because it’s part of the operating system, it can’t be uninstalled. Actually it can, but apparently that causes more problems than it solves. I used Keyboard Maestro, a clever little piece of software that allows you to write ‘macros’ that can go behind the Mac OS and make things happen for you. What my macro does is wait until it senses that Photos has been triggered. When it has, it immediately shuts it down. It was with great satisfaction that I watched that colourful wee icon appear on the task bar, bounce a couple of times, then bog off! Isn’t technology wonderful when it works?

Went to Salsa at La Rambla. Had tapas first and it was very good indeed. Sat with Ronnie, Sharon and Peter and were entertained all through the meal. Dancing was good, but with Cameron in charge of the music, there were a few too many bachata tunes. Glad we agreed to drive instead of getting the train. About 25 minutes journey time instead of an hour and a half. Would certainly go back.

Tomorrow? More rain I think, so more walking in the rain perhaps. Today’s title is from Alex Harvey – Faith Healer.

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Coffee for Two – 2 August 2017

It was my turn to make breakfast and while I was doing that, I unloaded last night’s dishes from the dishwasher and immediately refilled it with the remaining dishes, started it going again and returned to have breakfast in bed.

After breakfast we tidied up the remains of last night’s meal and I caught up with yesterday’s blog. Then it was off to meet Fred for coffee and a critique of each other’s artwork.

I’m beginning to really loathe Costa Coffee. Now Hazy gave me a brilliant tee shirt with the logo ‘Coffee Snob’. I may not really be a snob, but I do like my coffee tasting like coffee. Costa is becoming like Starbucks and selling Costa, not coffee. I’ve tried flat whites, americanos, cappuccinos and cortados. None of them taste anything like my own coffee from either my hard working Gaggia or my Aeropress. Cafe Nero make much better coffee in my opinion and are probably the best of the national coffee shops, but none of them are as good as the independents.

After ingesting the brown water, I drove through the rain to see what was happening at my former school. The reports of it becoming a building site proved correct. The rugby pitches are no more. It appears that the top soil has been bulldozed off and replaced with hardcore. I’m guessing that someone knows that what’s below that hardcore is peat and heavy duty piling will be in place before building construction starts.

Couldn’t really be bothered driving in to go to salsa tonight, but Scamp was keen to go. As usual, I really enjoyed the class. Came out feeling so much better than when I went in.

Not sure what I’m doing tomorrow. Scamp is meeting her sister for brown muck oops, coffee in Costa. I may go in to Glasgow.

Today’s PoD is a place marker. It is just a shot to complete today’s 365 requirement. Hopefully I’ll get something more creative tomorrow.

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A busy day – 1 August 2017

We were having visitors from Hamilton today, so we had to stick to a tight schedule.

Scamp was up early to start the prep for the main course, then she found out that the chicken thighs weren’t as fresh as she had anticipated, so I volunteered to dive up to Tesco to replace them. With the Trinni Stew Chicken cooked to her satisfaction and the Pineapple Snow churned and freezing, we took some time out for lunch which we’d agreed would be at Torwood.

Lunch at Torwood was mini quiche in a filo basket, exactly what we’d decided to have as a starter, so in a way lunch was a final check to ensure that our recipe was correct. Scamp got a new, and much needed, pair of secateurs and a pot of parsley. I got a rhubarb plant. Wandered round the plants and made notes of things we may get later in the year for a bit of autumn colour.

When we got home, we got a text from Hazy to say they’d arrived in their holiday flat, despite a holdup at Heathrow. I started to do the prep for the starter. Such a lot of chopping for such a little thing. I was just taking the bag of coffee out of the freezer when I realised that we didn’t have a coffee pot, because I’d broken the old one a few months ago and we don’t use it except when we have guests. This time it was Scamp to the rescue, managing to get one in Tesco. Where would we be without Tesco?

Dinner menu was:

  • Starter Mini Quiche filled with cheese, chopped peppers and spring onion
  • Main Trinni Stew Chicken with rice and fried plantain
  • Puddings Pineapple Snow with Lime Chilli sauce or Summer Fruits Crumble

A good night, comparing holidays and telling tall tales.

Today’s PoD is a picture of my watercolour paintbox with its messy palette. A comment from an amateur artist like myself last year has become my maxim. “I might need that exact colour some day.” That’s why I rarely clean my palette.

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Normal service has resumed – 31 July 2017

Ok, today was a better day. More like a normal Monday. Out in the morning and drive to Falkirk for some messages, then back for lunch.

After lunch I took the bike out for a run. Poor thing hasn’t been out for ages. After a couple of miles I noticed that the mileometer wasn’t recording distance and the display was dim. The dim display is solved by replacing the battery, but no amount of juggling the sender unit would encourage the miles to click up. Then I realised that the solution is in the name. The system is wireless and the unit on the forks is a sender. To send it needs a power source. Therein lies the problem and the solution, hopefully. Both sender and receiver need new batteries. I’ve never replaced the sender battery before, and I’ve had the milo for over five years. Granted it doesn’t go many miles now, but that is still good battery life.

It was a westerly wind today which meant a headwind going out but a tailwind coming home. The best situation.

Took the Teazer with me today because it’s light and slips easily into my pocket. It seems to have performed quite well, especially in macro mode. Got some interesting shots of black and yellow striped caterpillars which may be from the Cinnabar Moth. Hopefully someone on Flickr will confirm. Also caught a glance of a Burnett Moth before it was blown away on a westerly gust. That was it for wildlife. Add in a few shots of the Three Amigos (my favourite three beech trees) and that was it for photography too. Having said ‘that was it for wildlife’, I mean interesting, pretty wildlife. The air seemed to be full of ugly biting insects. For that reason alone, I was glad to leave.

I also had dinner to make before we went to salsa, and a tailwind to look forward to. Dinner was ‘Red Spaghetti’ or spaghetti with a tomato sauce to you.

Motorway was extra busy tonight. 49 minutes to the airport. 18 minutes on a good day. However we arrived almost in time which was lucky because Scamp wanted even more messages from one of the shops near the STUC.

Tonight’s move was Prado. Not its real name, so don’t bother Googling it.

And that’s July done and dusted!

Tomorrow can be summed up in two ‘C’ words. Cleaning and Cooking.

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The final day of farting about – 30 July 2017

Such a lazy day.

According to my Fitbit I slept for over 8 hours last night. The first time I’ve broken the 8 hour barrier for about three weeks. To celebrate, I spent the next hour or so in bed reading ‘How to stop time’ by Matt Haig. Not quite finished it yet, so I’ll keep that pleasure until tomorrow.

Picked the rest of the peas and we had them and our potatoes with our sea trout for dinner. I did go out and take some photos of the smaller alliums in one of the rare dry spells – the rain was torrential when it came. So today’s PoD is the allium with the peas and potatoes as the runners up.

Blog is up to date now and Flickr is half way there. This blog nonsense doesn’t half take up your time. I hope you’re all enjoying reading it.

I think I’ll treat myself to a small G&T tonight to mark the end of the holiday and tomorrow it’s back to business as usual. May even go to the gym.

I did say “May”!

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Continuing the journey into reality – 29 July 2017

The day dawned dull and damp, but we forced ourselves to get up and go out.

Scamp noticed the squirrel sitting at the end of our fence. It sat there for ages, ignoring the rain and high winds. Liked this shot best, so it became PoD.

We took a trip to B&Q and Dobbies to look for secateurs. What an exciting life we live eh? Didn’t get any.

Back home we lifted the second pail of potatoes and got 640g from two seed potatoes. That with our remaining peas will form the veg input to tomorrow’s dinner. Although there is a lot of water lying in the back garden and we do have a bird bath, but I have to admit that the trout we’re having wasn’t farmed in our garden.

Tonight’s dinner came courtesy of Golden Bowl. It’s ages since I had Sweet & Sour Pork Balls. Low in saturates, high in polyunsaturates and low in cholesterol. As long as you don’t eat it, that is. On the way back from Condorrat, two blokes on the radio were talking about a Pizza Crunch which is basically a cheap pizza dipped in batter and deep fried. Usually eaten with chips. That made me feel a bit better about my Chinese meal.

That was the sum and substance of our Saturday. Hopefully tomorrow will see us knocking at the door of reality.