Friday 13th Very Scary – 13 September 2019

Maybe it is for some, but for us it was a good day. Got lots of little things done and a visit to some horses to boot.

In the morning I got my blood-letting organised for both my PSA test and my diabetic check. Also got my flu jag sorted. With that in hand, and after Scamp had cut some more of her sweet peas, which I just caught a waft of just now, we drove off to Tesco to post a parcel, pick up my meds and tried to get some petrol, but the petrol station was fully booked and more, so we dropped off at BP to get some expensive petrol. Plenty of pumps free there, because the petrol is that little bit costlier. Then it was off east.

Drove to Grangemouth and from there to Helix Park where the Kelpies rear out of their underwater home. Wandered round them, took some photos and just soaked up their calming atmosphere. Every time we go there, we’re impressed with the grandeur of them, just like the first time we saw them. It’s something we never tire of.

Had a spot of lunch at the cafe and then went for another walk around them before coming home. Traffic was the usual stramash on the motorway. We chose the easier route through the town centre and took a diversion down past the school to see if they’d started the demolition yet, but everything was still in place. Fought our way back home past the clot that is the new roundabout, or maybe it was a clot who designed the phasing of the lights on the new roundabout.

Back home I finished off my day with another box ticked, when I watered the end-of-season nematodes into the raised bed, various plants and two lots into the compost bin to try to curb the slug menace. We’ll see if they’re any good this time.

On the subject of slugs and snails, Scamp noticed a large snail sitting quite happily between two Hydrangea leaves this morning, so it became a possible PoD. It was later usurped by a shot of the Head-Up Kelpie surrounded by starlings. They were starting to practise a murmuration while we were there. That’ll be a sight to see later in the year. Anyway, the Kelpie and the Starlings got PoD. A great day with some rain, but lots of sunshine.

Maybe going in to Glasgow tomorrow. Weather permitting, of course.

Butterfly memory – 12 September 2019

The day started as so many have recently with rain, but the blue skies appeared later.

Gas man came this morning to do the boiler maintenance and gave us the usual warnings that it’s getting old and needs replaced. I have days like that too sometimes.

After that we went out for the messages and managed to spend a fair amount in three different, though similar, shops. That’s the thing about choice. It gives you the opportunity to spend more. Mostly it was just stuff we needed anyway.

Just before lunch I spotted a Red Admiral feeding on the buddleia bush at the back fence. I managed to get a few shots of it before I frightened it away. Bummer.

Fred came over later in the afternoon to pick up the paintings John had delivered yesterday. We had an hour or so of fairly adult conversation and he introduced me to another interesting Gerry Cinnamon song “Diamonds in the Mud”. Worth listening to, if only for the Glasgow accent. In return I suggested he listen to “Canter” with its own collection of adult content.

When he left, so did I for a walk down Auchinstarry way. The light was really excellent by now and the hills were glowing. Today’s PoD came from the walk. It’s a group of tiny wee fungi growing on a dead tree near the Forth & Clyde canal.

When I came home, the butterfly was back on the buddleia, but this time I barely got a chance to switch on the camera before it was off. I swear it looked straight at me and flew off. I’m sure it recognised me as the big human who pointed his black box at it a couple of hours earlier. Of course it could have been a different butterfly, but that was the impression it gave me.

Cod Chowder for dinner. I thought it tasted ok and just the same as usual. Scamp thought it was thicker and tasted different. Maybe she was right.

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks ok. Saturday, not so.

Well, this won’t take long – 9 September 2019

It was raining all day. Almost. So I stayed in my room.

That’s a bit of an exaggeration. It actually stopped raining for about 30 mins around 4pm. The rest of the time the weather was demonstrating its ability to produce a variety of different rain types, from straight down ’stair rods’ rain to that misty smirr that floats around in the breeze, mists up your glasses and beads on everything. Rain. We must have a hundred or more names for it, some of them preceded by a swear word.

I decided that if we were having a visitor at the end of the month, today would be a perfect day to take down some of my ‘art’ work. That took about an hour to do, find somewhere to put it and occasionally throw something out, although I believe only two items met that fate. The room looks totally different now and not too many little pin holes in the wall. I had visions of having to go round with a little tub of Polyfilla (other hole filling products are available) and a spatula filling in all the nail holes. Then I’d need to sand them all flat and finally have to paint the whole room. It doesn’t look as if that will be the case, thankfully. Of course, before I started, I photographed all four walls, not only just for the record, but also so after the visitor has gone, I can replace them all in their original positions , with the exceptions of the two rejects.

I grabbed five shots of flowers in the garden during the short gap in today’s rainfall. The best in my opinion was the bud on Alec’s Red, and that became PoD

The other day my iMac was running slowly and I resorted, for the first time with this computer, to doing a ‘repair’ start. I still didn’t find out what caused the problem, but I think I’ve caught it. Tonight in Salsa, I couldn’t remember anything, and this was in the easy intermediate class. Second class, which is more advanced, was easier thank goodness. I don’t know what went wrong in that first class. Maybe I need to hold down the CMD key down when I wake up tomorrow to do a ‘repair’ wake! Three new moves tonight: Sombrero Twist 2, Vice which is like a strangling Setenta Vice-Versa and, surprisingly, New One!

Tomorrow looks drier than today, so I may release some nematodes on the unsuspecting slugs in the compost bin, the raised bed and anywhere else that needs them.

A sign of things to come perhaps – 3 September 2019

Today the Red Juke was going in for service and I had a courtesy car booked and it was a surprise!

Drove to Stirling in the morning and was passing the ‘New Shops’ just around 9.30am. The new M&S food store was opening at 10am and the crowds, half an hour before it opened were a very, very long snaking queue along the shop frontage, along part of the car park and down the side of the building. At a guess, I’d say between 500 and 700 people were standing in the rain hoping for one of the Golden Tickets that would give them up to £200 worth of shopping vouchers and a bad dose of the flu in to the bargain. I phoned Scamp to warn her that she was too late already. She just laughed

I had to wait half an hour for the courtesy car to be delivered, but when it arrived it was a ’19 plate Micra. Then the service manager dropped the bombshell. It was also an Automatic. I’ve only rarely been in an automatic car and certainly never driven one. How was I going to get this home? Luckily the lady was very positive about it and explained quietly how it worked and drove me round the block. She then offered to sit with me to allow me to get used to driving it round the block. Oh dear I must have looked terrified, but I took her up on her offer anyway. Then it was time for me to ‘go solo’. Despite knowing that there was no gearstick, I still tried to change up and down with the drive selector for the first few roundabouts, then concentrated a bit more and found it was quite a natural way to drive. When I got it home, I took Scamp out for a drive, but she refused to have a go. It’s amazing how quickly you adapt to a completely new driving style. By the time I was taking it back, it was as natural as any other car I’ve driven.

When I got to the garage the same lady came to deal with me and all I said was “Well, that was a lovely car.” I didn’t add “I want one.”, but she knew that was in my head. However, outside was a shiny clean Red Juke that will need two new front tyres this year, so I put the thoughts of an Automatic Micra to the back of my mind for now, paid for my day’s insurance and left with a smile on my face. Western Nissan aren’t so bad after all.

The drive back home took almost twice as long as going, because everyone in Central Scotland seemed to want to go the same way. I was hungry and was looking forward to Scamp’s Prawn Stir Fry for dinner, otherwise I’d have taken it for a run away from the motorway bizz to test out the updated sat nav card they’d plugged in as part of the service. Maybe we’ll get a chance to try it out tomorrow.

PoD was a shot of the last of Scamp’s sweet peas standing up to the incessant rain today. We were promised some sun. We got rain instead.

No dancing tomorrow because Scamp has an appointment with the doc to check out the insect bites she’s got, and no other plans. No dancing at night either because Jamie the Salsa teacher won’t be there. Even worse, he won’t be there next week either.

A portrait session – 30 August 2019

Today we were out fairly early to drive to Larky.

We should have been going to Crawford & Nancy’s for dinner tonight, but since Scamp’s pain started, she can’t sit for longer than about an hour without stretching out (which she’s doing just now), so we decided to cancel tonight. When Scamp suggested to Nancy that they could meet for coffee, just to catch up, Nancy invited us out to the house instead. That’s what we did. The best of both worlds. Scamp got to meet up with Nancy and also to play with Imogen, C&N’s granddaughter, and I got a chance to catch up with Crawford. All of that within a timeframe of an hour and a bit which was comfortable for Scamp.

While we were there I managed to take a few (over 60) photos of Nana, Papa and Imogen. The light was really good in their new sitting room although it was tipping it down outside. Really pleased with the results from the E-M1 with the 30mm lens. It’s becoming a well used combination. The 14mm lens would have been too short and would have caused distortion and the 45-200mm would have been too long. The 30mm was the ‘Goldilocks Option’ – just right!  Imogen herself was a great model who happily posed for photo after photo.  Beautiful blue eyes and for most of the time a happy temperament.  Happy for her papa to teach her some basic gymnastics.

Tried to drive down to Asda in Larky when we left, but had difficulty finding it. It’s stuck down behind the baths and next to the new, new Larkhall Academy. I say ‘new, new’ because there have been two new academies since I went to the original one back in the ‘60s. That makes me feel ancient.

Drove home in the rain that had been falling incessantly since early morning, in fact, since last night. Took today’s PoD of a poor waterlogged Gazania in the back garden with a lens hood made from a piece of A4 paper folded in half and wrapped around the lens, not so much to keep out the sun as to keep out the rain. Useful thing to keep in the camera bag.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for a little bit of sun for a trip to Muirhead for Colin’s Flower Show.

When the cat’s away – 26 August 2019

The mice can do as they please.

Scamp was out on the town with her friends today, so I had the whole day to do as I pleased, and I was pleased to do very little.

I started out having a battle with the printer, trying all the combinations and permutations of settings to get a decent print of a photo for a competition. It’s never exactly the simple setting. There’s always another tweak to be done to get it just right. I think I’ve found it, but I won’t know until tomorrow when I test the setting with another photo that’s on a removable HD stored away somewhere upstairs.

Next I’d to book my car in for its annual service. The service is already paid for as part of the leasing deal. However the person on the end of the line announced that the manufacturer suggests that the air con should be checked every two years and that check is not part of the servicing agreement. I said “No thanks.” to the £99 (plus VAT) check. If the manufacturer deems it necessary to do this check every two years, it should be part of the servicing agreement. They try to catch you any way they can. Never trust a car salesman. Used car or brand new, they are all shysters.

Final thing on my checklist of “What you need to do this morning” was to dig out a big bucket load of soil from my raised bed and replace it with fresh compost from the composter. Got that done and then planted my curly kale and leeks, even remembering to water them in.

By then lunch was beckoning and it looked quite bruschetta shaped to me. It was while I was making it I spotted the robin having a look at my handiwork, not the prints. No he was more interested in that fresh new soil and he promptly got stuck in turning some over and grabbing what was hiding underneath. He seemed to look up at me and say “There you go mate, that’s me cleared some of the beasties out for you!” Grabbed his photo with the Nikon. It’s ages since I used it, but the quality is really good. I’d forgotten quite how good it is.

Powered up X-Plane and had a ‘quick’ flight. Took off from Glasgow and flew to Prestwick partly using instruments and partly by visual. It’s quite the most fascinating program, but it really makes you think about the technicalities of flying and the things that could go wrong. I was watching a program about pilots and one bloke said something along the lines of “If a car breaks down on the motorway, you coast onto the hard shoulder and somebody will come and help you. If you break down in a plane, you’re on your own!” Anyway, after safely landing at Prestwick I started a new flight in a glider and found that you can fly from Strathaven airfield. We just passed it, in the real world, on Saturday!

Salsa at night and the first class was fairly easy. Scamp joined us for the second class and it was a bundle of fun. Lots of new moves and a couple of older ones we’d forgotten Nudo was the one that caused the most hilarity.

PoD was the Robin, of course.

Tomorrow my turn to be out for a while meeting the boys for coffee.

Finally up to date! – 22 August 2019

Today the blog came up to date. Flickr’s up to date with the option to add more holiday photos when I want to. Blog is up to date and posted. Just today’s post to get done before the witching hour and all will be well.

So, today. It started out well in the morning with some sunshine and a bowl of porridge from oats I’d bought in Wales. They needed to go, as did the older ones that were taking up space in the cupboard. Today we needed a good clear out and Scamp was the one to do it! I just bought new porridge oats. She did all the cleaning of the house. I got the last of the washing into the machine.

Scamp decided that it would rain later, so it would be a good idea to cut the grass in the morning. That’s when we found the strimmer cord, not the electric cable, but the cord that whirls round at a fair rate of knots and severs the grass, was dead. Every time we pulled out a new bit and switched on the machine the cord would break again. Need to get a new cord. Bear in mind that this is the original cord. Since the grass still needed cut, we hauled out the mower and while I moved all the pots and troughs around, Scamp cut the back grass. While she was busy upstairs cleaning stuff, I offered to cut the front grass. The mower has been playing up for year, at least three years. The blade is chipped and blunt, but the dangerous bit is that the interlock that will switch off the mower when you release the handle doesn’t work any more and hasn’t for some time. For someone who is usually safety conscious, Scamp was quite laissez faire about the lack of a safety cut-off. For me, I’d say it was becoming a liability and we need to think of getting a new one. I think I may have talked her round, but if she reads this, she’ll stonewall again. Won’t you dear?

With the cleaning done and the front and back grass cut it was lunchtime. Earlier in the day I’d bitten the bullet and bought X-Plane 11. A pure indulgence. Some would call it a game, but what do they know. It’s a flight simulator with very realistic graphics and it had just finished downloading. That gave me something to do in the afternoon when the rains came. I did fly it a couple of times but had to go out and get the PoD sorted out. It turned out to be an orange Rudbeckia flower I saw in St Mo’s. Dinner was a roast chicken and it was cooking while I was out walking. Cooking in the new roasting pan Scamp had bought yesterday. It’s still sitting in that pan while I’m writing this and the smell is very tempting. Unfortunately, Scamp has just put it in the fridge so it’s out of sight, out of mind!

No plans for tomorrow yet, although we might go to the Strathaven Balloon Festival if the weather is decent tomorrow evening.

Glasses, beasties and a tick – 19 August 2019

Out in the morning to Larky to get my new glasses which are helping me to write this blog post.

Not a lot else to report. Rain showers threatening all day, but not quite materialising. Finally went out for a walk along the canal and got some interesting photos of beasties. Lots and lots of Peacock butterflies and also a couple of Painted Ladies, but none that wanted to linger long enough to get their photos taken.

No dancing tonight because Jamie G is off working somewhere, so it was a more leisurely dinner. Prawn & Pea Risotto made with our own peas, but not home grown prawns. Added a small dollop of Mascarpone at the end instead of butter and it seemed to taste quite good.

After a snooze on the couch I discovered the tiny wee tick on my upper arm. Tiniest wee tick I’ve seen. It’s gone now, but the nip lingers on.

PoD was a hover fly giving itself a good scratch on a leaf.

Tomorrow we may go to Perth.

Oh Oh, S&D returns, but not for me – 17 August 2019

The sickness and diarrhoea is back, but this time it’s Scamp that’s suffering.

It seemed it started during the night, and it’s just as bad as mine. I’m not going to delve into the details, suffice to say that I know how she feels and it’s not good. I don’t think we’ll be going out for lunch.

Took seven photos and kept them all. Well, seven photos aren’t going to do much damage to the storage on the drive. PoD was a shot of our apples

Just a day of drinking water for both of us.

Hopefully we’ll both be better tomorrow.

More rain, more drizzle, then sunshine – 28 July 2019

It rained in the morning, but my weather app said rain would stop at 1.30pm and it did.

Yes, it did stop then, and the sun shone for a while, but it wasn’t really trying very hard.

It was a day of not doing much apart from clearing up after last night and writing yesterday’s blog. Sometimes you just have to admit it and play catch-up. Hardly went past the door for most of the day. Took the chance of a bright spell and grabbed some photos in the garden. Front garden shots were best today, especially the PoD of a hover fly on an Eryngium Planum (Sea Holly).

Other than that, it was preparations in the afternoon and watching an amazingly interesting F1 GP from Germany where it looked like there wouldn’t be enough cars left to form a quorum for the podium.

Spoke to JIC in the evening and got up to date on all things going on in Cambridgeshire.

Tomorrow we have no real plans, apart from intending to go dancing at the STUC in the evening.