Doon the Luggie – 25 September 2018

A dull day, but I got a painting finished, a PoD and I made the dinner, so not that dull.

I started the painting in the morning while Scamp was out in a raiding party to Tesco. She went to the town centre store as she’d already bought Craigmarloch Tesco on Sunday. The painting was based on a photo from Flickr. Since it was a dull day and there was the likelihood of rain, I thought it would be best to work from a photo rather than from life. It took just over half an hour, including some tweaking of textures and adding an ink outline. Not bad I thought.

After lunch I toyed with the idea of going out to get some photos, but by the time I’d decided to go, it was raining. Not that it made much difference to me. I needed a PoD and that PoD was out there, in the rain. That’s the whole point of doing a PoD. It forces me to get off my backside and go out and grab a piece of the day, process it and post it. You take what the day gives you and you work with it. Yesterday it was all about the big picture, grand views. Today it would be about rain.

Drove down to the Cumbersheugh railway station and parked there. Then walked across the road and down through the trees to walk along the Luggie. It’s called the Luggie Water, but it’s really just a burn, a stream to English readers. It was flowing a bit higher than normal today and that’s what gave me the idea of a slow shutter speed shot of the wee waterfall. Out of six shots I took, only one didn’t have a hand, a foot or a bit of the gorilla pod in the frame. Honestly, these ultra wide lenses should come with a warning to check the viewfinder closely before you press the shutter button.

The final shot was what you see above and apart from a bit of cropping, was as it came out of the camera. It’s not often that happens, but this one did.

Dinner was Prawn and Courgette Spaghetti and was a bit of an experiment. Like most experiments, at least like most of my culinary experiments, it will need a bit of tweaking before I try it again. The lime dressing was too strong, the prawns were overdone but the courgette spaghetti was interesting enough to make again.

So a dull day weatherise. Drizzly rain for the most part, but an interesting day too. Got stuff done, that always helps. Tomorrow it’s dancin’!

Scone Palace – 24 September 2018

Went to Scone, but didn’t get one!

We’d been saying for ages that we should go to Scone Palace. Scamp had an Itison voucher which was valid until October and as time was marching on and it was a beautiful morning, we decided that today was the day.

Drove up there with the satnav taking us a circuitous route around the motorway system on the outskirts of Perth but it was down to Scamp in Genghis Pathfinder mode to spot the turnoff for the Palace. Parked up, got our tickets and went looking for the entrance. At first we thought it was closed for the day, but then got inside to be warned that we weren’t allowed to take photos. What is it with these big houses that they take your money, then lay down the law about what you can and can’t do. I remember once being told in a National Trust place that photography damages the fabric of the building! Well, it would if you had a big full frame camera with battery pack and you started banging it off the walls, but I don’t believe cameras steal your soul and I don’t believe they can damage the fabric of a building. Philistines! Interior was interesting, but I can’t imagine what life must have been like in a great gloomy mansion like that, not even having the pleasure of taking some photos for fear that your hobby would bring the place down around your ears.

I much preferred the walk through the trees, especially the pinetum with its enormous redwood. Just walking in the sunshine under these trees, smelling the pine resin scents was a tonic in itself. We also inspected the kitchen garden, but it looked as if almost everything had been harvested fairly recently. There was very little of interest to see apart from some overgrown flowers and a poly tunnel with tomatoes and courgettes. There were some cordon grown plums, but two fat ladies were picking and eating the plums, at least, I hope they were plums or else there will be two fat, dead ladies in Scone tonight. Our last stop on the tour of the gardens was the maze and we wandered round half of it before finding the way to the fountain in the centre and so to the exit.

Before our walk in the woods, we stopped in the cafe for two baked tatties with haggis, two coffees and a shared strawberry tart, just to fortify us. Food was good and reasonably priced, but the prices in the ‘gift shop’ were daylight robbery. I know, we should have had a scone instead of a strawberry tart, just to say we had a scone at Scone, but we didn’t. Maybe next time DV.

Drove back into Perth and stopped to get coffee beans and, because we could, we went to Nero for more coffee, then we drove home through the usual stramash at Dunblane and again at Haggs. Gave up at the latter and took the longer, but quicker way home through Kilsyth and Dullatur.

PoD was a view of the ‘chapel’ which is actually a mausoleum.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow, but today was a good day. Glad we went, pity about the scone!

Out on two wheels again – 23 September 2018

Just a short run to make sure the lungs and legs are still up to cycling after the cold virus has had its wicked way.

It was a beautiful sunny morning. Almost a sin to waste it sitting up in bed reading. Almost a sin, but not quite. Unless reading in bed is now a sin.

However, all good things must come to an end and I did eventually drag myself away from my Kindle and in to the shower, thence to go downstairs where Scamp was already off buying Tesco. Yesterday she had been cutting flowers that had been battered by Wednesday’s wind. She had put them in a vase and it was sitting on the table in the living room where the light pouring in through the vertical blinds was lighting it up and throwing wonderful shadows on the table. Now that would make a good picture I said to myself. Set up the Samyang on the Oly and grabbed a few shots from different distances and angles until I was sure I’d have something decent. At least one in the bag!

I decided this good weather wasn’t going to last, so I did what I’d committed myself to yesterday and got dressed for winter cycling. Layer upon layer of thin clothes with shorts and longs, because the temperature was only just in double figures and it was just past midday. When Scamp returned with Tesco in two shopping bags, I left for a short run. Short runs never really stay short if the traffic is light and the light is good. That’s how it was today. I tried to find some swallows because I thought I’d seen and heard some last week, but alas I may have been mistaken. So definitely no swallows this is week and this is week 39. I tried to find some photos, but try as I might, there was nothing there that interested me today. Finally I gave up and made my way home, and lunch. While I was out, Scamp took brush, sponge and hot water in hand and washed her car. Not that it needed it, eh, Scamp?

<Technospeak>
After lunch I started looking at today’s captures on Lightroom and decided that the flower shots from the morning were the best of the bunch, even if I’d forgotten to set the focus. It’s so hard to go back to a manual focus lens again! Luckily I’d set a fairly small aperture and this gave me enough DOF to make the shot look as if it was in focus. It took a bit of work in Lightroom to get the levels the way I wanted them and a bit more work in ON1 to push the background out of focus enough to concentrate the eye on the flowers. Finally I returned to LR to add a bit of warmth to the shot and Bingo it was done! PoD done!
</Technospeak>

Dinner was Friday’s soup followed by yesterday’s curry reheated. Just your typical Sunday dinner!

Tomorrow we may take Big Red (that may be the Juke’s new name) out for a spin if the weather is good.

An improving situation – 22 September 2018

Woke late this morning and Scamp seemed to be much better.

It was a decent looking morning with a bit of sunshine through the trees outside, so I thought it would be a good idea to go for a spin. A few possible destinations came to mind. Possibly Perth or Troon or Dunfermline. Dunfermline won, so we headed over the Forth to The Kingdom of Fife and its capital Dunfermline. Just managed to grab a space as a car came out of it in the carpark for Pittencrief Park and went for a walk through the lungs of the town. Pittencrief is a large open green space on the southern edge of the town. A great place for a walk on a bright autumn day.

The place was really busy and everyone had their phones out. In fact, some people had two phones, one in each hand. All the phone users were firmly fixed on a map app. I presume it was some sort of treasure hunt where you actually had to be in the vicinity of the clues to get further instructions to finding the treasure. We weren’t locals, so we didn’t take part, but it looked like a lot of Fun For Fifers. We didn’t get in to the glasshouse which is usually a great spot for photos, because for some reason it was closed today. Bummer. We usually come midweek and always on a day when it’s closed. Today I thought we were safe, coming on a Saturday, but somebody had grassed on us and they’d closed the glasshouse.

Walked back through the town and had coffee and a light lunch in a Nero, then drove home. When we got home, Scamp pronounced herself well enough to go and cut the front grass. She had just finished when the rain came on. Just before she was going to get the blower out and hurricane all the cut grass into the trees across the path. She stood watching out of the front window like an impatient child waiting for the rain to stop so that she could go and terrify the neighbourhood with the Big Orange Blowy Thing. The rain stopped and out she went to put that grass in its place. Such delight at such a simple thing.

Dinner tonight was curry from Bombay Dreams. Possibly the best Indian restaurant and take-away in Scotland, if not the world. We were circumspect tonight and only ate half, keeping the other half for tomorrow’s dinner.

PoD turned out to be three phone fanatics in Dunfermline today. One of those shots you take and just know that PoD is in the bag.

Tomorrow? If the weather holds, I think we might risk a walk down The Green with the possibility of cycling for me in the afternoon.

Dragonflies, Porridge and Lentil Soup – 21 September 2018

Although not in that order.

Scamp was feeling a little under the weather this morning so I let her sleep on and got up and made some porridge for me. It’s a long while since I’ve had this Scottish breakfast. You can tell it’s the Scottish version if it comes unsweetened or even with added salt. Only sassenachs have honey / sugar / syrup on their porridge. Me? I take it as it comes. No salt and certainly nothing of a sugary nature. I make mine with oats, and milk. Boiled in the microwave for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. I find it funny, the looks I get, when we go on cruises and I add salt to my porridge. That look of horror from the english who don’t know any better 😉
After an hour or so, I took up her light breakfast. No porridge of any kind for Scamp. I was pleased to see her looking a lot better than yesterday.

We had an easy morning and after lunch Scamp instructed me in the noble art of making Lentil Soup. I’ve made soup before, in fact I’d half intended to make Tomato Soup for tonight’s dinner, but I’ve never attempted soup using the time honoured “a handful of this and a pinch of that and just about this amount of water”. It’s what my mum used in her cooking and what Scamp’s mum used too. I’m more a ‘time and temperature’ person, working to millilitres and grams where possible. Anyway, the soup turned out too thin, so I had to add “Just about a handful more lentils.” Then it was fine. I also made some bread using grams and millilitres, and felt so much more in control.

With the soup thickening and the bread proving, I walked over to St Mo’s to get some photos in the afternoon sunshine, because today we had sunshine almost all day. A bit of a breeze, but nothing like the gales we had midweek. PoD was the black dragonfly resting on the boardwalk over the mashes at St Mo’s. I used my usual method of taking a shot, moving closer, taking a shot, moving closer etc. Except, my final shots were taken at almost 1:1 and the dragonfly hadn’t even twitched. Maybe it was exhausted or maybe it was doing what dragons seem to do, sizing me up.

Came home and had soup and bread for dinner with a recovering Scamp. She does do a good lesson on soup making.

Tomorrow if the weather fairies are correct, should be a decent day, so we may go out for a run in a shiny clean Juke. Where, is open to suggestions!

I have seen the future and it works – 15 September 2018

Electricity travels at almost the speed of light. Diesel is hard to spell and is a fossil fuel.

Today we took the ‘leccy train to Embra. We didn’t intentionally go the ‘leccy route. It just happened that the train we were waiting for was powered by the new clean, invisible power source. The Stirling train that preceded it was powered by old fashioned, smelly, hard to spell deisildesil, diesel. That’s because they don’t have electricity in Stirling yet. They still have gas lights in the street and coal fires. I do feel sorry for them.

The super fast ‘leccy train took longer than the diesel trains they are replacing. Maybe it was cheap, slow electricity they were using or maybe it was Abellio who now run Scotrail who couldn’t manage the rail system properly. Surely not! Anyway, we got to Haymarket and walked up the road for morning coffee in Nero, but not before I set the Samyang loose in Ladyfield which is a great canyon between large imposing office blocks. That’s where PoD came from. I really like the perspective this lens gives. With one in the bag, I could enjoy my morning coffee.

After that we walked up through the Grassmarket to see if anyone was actually selling grass. They weren’t, but I wasn’t surprised because I hadn’t seen anyone selling hay at Haymarket. (Sounds better with a Chic Murray delivery.) From there we headed for the Royal Mile which was mobbed. I was beginning to think that there had been an extension to the Fringe Festival, but it was just the usual bunch of escapologists, jugglers and fire eaters performing for the tourists. We’re not tourists, we LIVE in Scotland. There did seem to be quite a lot of tourists about, but I later checked and the Norwegian Jade cruise ship was docked at Leith, so that probably explained things.

We walked back down through the Old Town and from there along George Street, then back along Rose Street, eventually giving up and heading for the tea room at the National Gallery where our lunch was a shared baguette of smoked salmon with leaves and mayo and a two cups of tea, paper cups, to Scamp’s disgust. After our light lunch we just got the train home. We’d had a bit of a wander around the Capital and were ready to return to the real world.

It was a dull day weatherwise with nothing much to recommend it. I took a few more photos to test out the ability of the Samyang, but am fairly confident that at f8 or better it can handle almost anything I can throw at it. It’s a keeper, for sure.

Got the ‘leccy train back home and it was fast! Impressively so. Shave a good 10 minutes off a 45 minute journey. The folk in Stirling don’t know what they’re missing. They thought it was a great thing last year when the diesel trains replaced the steam trains they’d had for years. Not to mention that the carriages had roofs, not like the open carriages they’d had before.

Tomorrow it’s the Cumbersheugh 10k, so if we’re not out by 10am we’re locked in until midday. I don’t suppose we’ll mind as the weather is to be ‘Scottish’. Hopefully dancing later.

Posh Fish ’n’ Chips – 13 September 2018

But without the chips.

Today we went to The Barras to have lunch in A’Challtainn Fish Restaurant. Drink would be taken, so we went in to Glasgow on the bus. Coffee in Nero and then a walk down Bucky Street and across the Merchant City to Glasgow Cross, then off into the depths of The Barras. I found it difficult to work out where I was for a while. There were buildings where there used to be empty spaces. There were empty spaces where there used to be buildings. Some of the buildings that were where I left them the last time I was there had now been wrapped up like Christmas prezzies and were being shot blasted. As we walked past these plastic covered buildings I wondered what it must be like working in those conditions. It was noisy enough outside, it must be (literally) deafening inside.

Thankfully Bill’s Tool Store was still there, so we had a landmark. We were headed further in to the Barras to a place called BaaD (Barras art and Design) bad acronym. We were booked for 1.30 and it was only just after 1pm when we arrived, but it wasn’t a problem because they weren’t busy. The food was lovely. Scamp had a starter of Smoked Salmon Crab Cannelloni. The Cannelloni turned out to be a slice of smoked salmon wrapped round a portion of crabmeat. My starter was Grilled Sardines. Both starters were served with Smoked Herring Roe which I can remember having when I was really young because my mum loved it. I didn’t, and I still don’t.
Mains were:
Scamp – Sorched Scottish Salmon, Lime Pickled Fennel & Smoked Mussels
Me – Crab Linguini, chilli, garlic, lemon, white wine & parsley
Both had complementary Smoked Herring Roe.
We finished off with coffee.
All in all, the food and service were exceptional. Who would have thought that there would be a posh fish restaurant in the Barras (and no chips).

After our lunch we walked back up through the town and got the bus back home. Not before I got today’s PoD outside TJ Hughes. I’m not sure if it looked better in colour or mono. I risked the colour version.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Fred at midday and dinner with June, Ian, Jackie and Murdo in the evening all being well. Might even have fish ’n’ chips!

Italian Lunch – 8 September 2018

We decided to go in to Glasgow today. The weather disagreed.

Got the bus in to town. The weather was fine when we left. There is no reason to drive in when we can take the bus. No parking charges, no petrol being used, no limit on the amount of alcohol we get to consume 🙂 What’s not to like?

Took the subway out to the West End. To Kelvinbridge to be more precise and walked along in the direction of Paesano, but we didn’t quite reach it in the rain. We stopped instead at La Lanterna West End. We’d been there before, away back in June. This was it’s first birthday and there were balloons round an archway at the door. We stopped to look at the menu, but I knew by the look on Scamp’s face that “Resistance is Useless” as the Vogon guard said in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We were going to LLWE. Starter for both of us were the same: Fishcakes. But such good fishcake. Probably the best I’ve tasted. Scamp’s Cod with Genovese Potatoes wasn’t such a hit. The cod was dry she said and Scamp is never wrong about fish. My Pasta with Salsiccia was ok, but with far too much creamy Gorgonzola. I know we sound like foodies, but we’re paying for this and we expect it to be cooked properly. For once, we had dessert. Scamp’s was Stewed Apple something and I had Tiramisu. Both were very good, although the tiramisu could have done with just a drop or two of alcohol in it.
Like last time, the restaurant was noisy, but there were only three tables being used. It’s not the people, it’s the hard walls and floor. There’s no soft furnishings to soak up the noise. Nice and airy though, not like La Lanterna in town. Not impressed. We might not be back for a while.

By the time we came out the weather had deteriorated quite a bit and it was truly miserable. We were going to walk up to Byres Road, but we just retraced our steps to Kelvinbridge and got the train back to Glasgow and then the bus home. Strangely, when we got back the sun was shining. Now that must be a first for Cumbersheugh. Actually brighter here than anywhere else!

After an hour long snooze, I decided to go out on Dewdrop for a last bramble hunt and maybe a PoD, because the sun was still shining. I got 400g brambles and the above photo. It didn’t look like much when I downloaded it, but after some judicious application of level adjustment and some colour saturation work it started to shine.

I spotted a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye lens on MPB tonight. My old Olympus 9mm fisheye is getting a bit long in the tooth and the focus lever is starting to move of its own volition so I’ve been watching for the Samyang to appear for months now. I snapped it up. It’s due to come on Tuesday.

The other thing we did today was to set up mail on Scamp’s new ‘puter. Windows 10 is a nightmare to set up mail on. However, after only and hour’s swearing it was done. That’s not bad. Then, when I was out cycling, Scamp set up the printer all by her own wee self! Well done you, Scamp.

Tomorrow we may go to Mango to dance in a strange place.

Going home, flying home – 26 August 2018

It was dry for a time this morning, but it didn’t last.

It rained, then it rained harder and harder. I’d have liked to have gone a walk this morning before we got on that big bird and flew north, but the rain prevented it. There’s a great walk round the golf course near Hazy and Neil’s that takes you through some lovely old hawthorn and beech trees. Apparently, if you’re really lucky you get to see some deer too, but not today. Too wet and if it’s been raining for some time, the trees just shake their leaves and you end up wetter than ever under them. We just stayed in and talked.

Hazy decided she’d join us on our trip to Gatwick which was good. I was amazed at the amount of surface water that had gathered on the roads when we were being driven to the airport. Water with white foam on top, whipped up by the cars’ tyres. I suppose it occurs mainly after a sustained dry spell. Anyway, I imagine it was quite unpleasant to drive through. Thankfully, that was Neil’s job today.

Arrived at the airport with plenty of time in hand and volunteered to put my wheely case in the hold for free and to free up some of the overhead locker space for those who were in a hurry, unlike us. Swiftly through security and into the waiting area. Had a vile cup of brown water and a lovely pizza from Jamie Oliver’s take-away, while Scamp and a latte and an ‘OK’ Portuguese custard tart from the same. I bought a painting magazine and we went through to the gate. Boarded quickly and efficiently, unlike the SqueezyJet like boarding procedure at Glasgow.

<Technospeak>
Reading my magazine, there were two articles dealing with the hues in blue paint. One claimed that Ultramarine Blue is warmer in hue than Cerulean and the following article completely refuted that! This from what is meant to be a fairly authoritarian magazine. Any blue which tends towards red must be a warm hue. Not my opinion this time, it’s basic colour theory. Absolute crap. Stiffly worded complaint ready to be emailed to the editor forthwith.
</Technospeak>

Waited our usual half hour at Glasgow for the bags to arrive, but at least that was better than the fifty minutes the message board was predicting.
The flight distance from London to Glasgow is approximately 345miles and takes about an hour.
The distance from the plane to the carousel is approximately 0.5miles and it takes about fifty minutes.
Bus in to Glasgow and then the X3 out to Cumbersheugh. I won’t go into the comparative distances and times, I’m sure you know my thoughts on that by now.

Watched an amazingly expensive (in terms of damage to cars) first five minutes of the Belgian GP. Thankfully everyone walked away unhurt. Then it just slid into the usual boring parade of cars. <Yawn>

PoD was the view of the rain streaking across the aircraft window as we left a wet London for a wet Glasgow!

I think it may still be raining, but it’s going to be drier tomorrow, so they say. We’ll see.

Dancing and Competition – 22 August 2018

Wednesday is dancing day, but we’re not good enough to compete yet.

It seemed that half the Buchanan Galleries car park was cordoned off today. Maybe it’s getting painted, maybe they’re going to re-cover the floor, maybe they’re not going to do anything at all and it’s all just a ploy to annoy us. Most likely the last one. Anyway, it didn’t stop us getting parked on level 4 which is quite good for midday and midweek. So off we trotted to Blackfriars to strut our stuff.

First up was Jive and maybe because I’m getting used to it and maybe because we’ve been practising more, but I’m beginning to enjoy it. I still get mixed up with the different spins in the Seven Spins, but even that’s beginning to iron itself out. I need some mental mnemonics to fix numbers to names. After that was more or less sorted, Michael added in four Ladles. What a ladle is, I do not know. It seemed a bit like Ochos in Salsa. In salsa that’s a bit of time wasting move that nobody apart from Shannon seems to like. I didn’t like it much in Jive either.

On to waltz and although we’re not perfect at it yet, the moves are becoming slicker. One of the lady helpers cleared up a few of my mistakes and set me right on a few other things. Next a quick reprise of quickstep which is fine when you’re walking through it, but is a nightmare at dancing pace. Still learning the basic steps. Last, it was Tango which I always found a comical dance. It’s not so comical when you have to dance it. It’s very quick and staccato. I never can get the head turn correct. I always go left – right and it should be right – left. More work needed here, definitely.

On the way home we stopped off at Colin’s to drop off two photos, one painting and one pot of jam. All for the Industry section of Chryston show which is on Saturday. This is the first year we’ve entered anything and it’s one of the few times we’ll not be able to go. Stayed for coffee at Colin and Evelyn’s and talked for a couple of hours. We got a conducted tour of their garden again. Lovely garden, but it seems to take 24/7 work to keep it that way.

Grabbed a camera when we came back and got an hour in St Mo’s. Lovely evening light and lots of photos of spiders, tiny wee ones on their webs. Most were rejected, but a couple were decent and that’s where today’s PoD came from.

Dinner was beef burger (own make), sausage, egg and chips. Scamp, of course, decided to forego the meat and had egg ’n’ chips. Our own Charlotte potatoes didn’t make very good chips. They’re much better boiled.

Up and out early tomorrow, hopefully.