Beadbags, planter ponds and fairy wings – 12 January 2020

It was dry today, but there was still a lot of water about.

It was when we were looking out the window this morning that Scamp noticed we had a new pond in one of her planters. The water was easily 50mm deep. I tipped out most of the water and moved the planter over to a dryer bit of the garden where it could drain away more easily. However, the pot was so heavy it still sank down into the soil, thereby blocking the drainage holes again. Even when I lifted it up onto the step, the holes were still being blocked. I finally resorted to using two pieces of wood to act as supports to raise the pot up off the concrete step and finally the water began to drain. The water I’d poured off initially was still sitting on the depression the pot had made when I last looked. That’s how saturated the ground it today.

Scamp had a birthday present for one of her friends and I wanted a new Sudoku calendar, so we headed to The Fort which is the nearest place with a bookshop. While she went to shop for a prezzy, I went to Waterstones and got my calendar half price. Result! Next thing she wanted was crepe paper to make the fairy’s underskirt. Got that and returned to wait for Scamp in the car.

Back home after lunch I took two cameras and the new ‘beadbag’ out to St Mo’s to test the practicality of it and to get some photos, hopefully. The best of the day, and PoD, was a sunset view along the boardwalk, not take with the assistance of the beadbag, but I did get a photo of it being used.

Back home I removed the wings from the fairy, photocopied them in the scanner and used the photocopy as a template to cut out a new pair of sparkly wings. They’re not perfect, but they are a lot better than the ones she had at Christmas. Scamp, meanwhile, worked on the underskirt which is what she wanted the crepe paper for. It’s looking good and if she can get the dress cleaned properly we’ll be ready to reassemble the Christmas Fairy.

Gave the MBP another full charge today and it seems be working properly with its new battery, touch wood.

Tomorrow I’m planning to post some calendars and write some letters. Gems will be here too! Back to the same old, same old.

A bargain perhaps – 19 December 2019

One of those days when nothing seemed to happen.

Scamp went out to Tesco in the morning for essentials of the season. Shortbread and wrapping paper and stuff. I went out to B&Q and got a planter for her spring flowering bulbs. While I was out I parked at St Mo’s and went for a quick walk around the loch. The lighting was decent, but nothing great, much like the day. The sun stayed low all day and seemed to be having a problem cutting through the light cloud, resulting in a low amber coloured light. PoD was a trio of trees in silhouette.

Spent about an hour trying to finance Scamp’s game playing with a Google Play gift card, only to find that I’d paid it into the wrong account. Why do they make it so difficult and complicated.

Drove Scamp through the traffic jam of busses and cars taking weans home early from St Mo’s school. Christmas holidays have started in earnest. Scamp was going to Jeanette’s for Afternoon Tea, not High Tea as I described it yesterday. My mistake. I decided to go the long way home partly to avoid the traffic jam round the school and partly to see if there was anything more interesting to photograph. There wasn’t.

Wrapped up some secret stuff while I wouldn’t be disturbed and frittered away some more time on-line. That’s when I noticed an offer from ON1 reducing the price of version 2020 by a tenner. That sounded like my kind of offer. I’d been hoping they’d reduce the price over Christmas and New Year, but wasn’t sure. Paid the money and am now the owner of Photo RAW 2020. Not the “Happy” owner, just the owner. Some of the rough edges of the software are still there. The supposedly non-destructive editing isn’t exactly as it says on the tin. Most things are, but unless I’m missing something, there are elements that are still destructive. It’s certainly faster than the 2019 version. Much fewer ‘spinning beachballs’ and if they stick to their previous plan of removing the rough edges as the year goes on, I’ll forgive them.

Scamp texted to say she was getting a lift home from Annette who, like me is finding her Juke is more thirsty recently than she’d been led to believe. I imagine the cold weather means the car needs to run on ‘choke’ for longer than in the summer. I think we should just do away with winter and have Spring, Summer and Autumn. Returning to Spring after that. I’ll suggest it to Boris and I’m sure he’ll consider it in his next manifesto.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow, just for the fun of it!

A good talking to – 28 November 2019

A better day … eventually.

Woke under a cloud, not a literal cloud because the sky was clear, but a rather black cloud that followed me about all morning. Helped Scamp tidy up the back garden. Well, I carried some of the cuttings round to the council compost bin. Cut back the two buddleia bushes and Scamp did all the rest. She didn’t seem to mind that it was cold. She had a big jacket on and I hadn’t, but that wasn’t the point, she never seems to mind the cold, especially when she’s working in the garden. Me? I always feel the cold, except when I’m taking photos of course. It used to be when I was fishing in the winter I wouldn’t feel the cold until my fingers stopped working and I had to go through that pins and needles stage, getting the blood to flow again. I made the excuse that I was going to heat up the soup for lunch and went inside.

After lunch I got her to go through yesterday’s move with me and … damnation, I’d been doing it wrong all that time. I should have been spinning on the ball of my foot. Instead I was walking round. It had the same effect, but my walking method wasn’t right. Should have known that the teacher was right. Teachers are always right, aren’t they. Unless they’re also pupils, then the water get muddied. I think that started the puncturing of the black cloud, that and a good talking to by Scamp. I felt a bit better after that. She then encouraged me (read ‘told me’) to go our for a walk.

Drove to Cumbersheugh station, parked and went for a walk down by the Luggie Water. That’s where the longer and final ‘good talking to’ happened. The remains of my black cloud lifted and dissolved in the wintry sunshine. It’s also where I got today’s PoD which is a wee thistle/dandelion plant’s parachute seedbeds that may or may not manage to blow away and start a new plant where the wind takes them. Came home feeling much, much better.

On the way back, I drove past the school and my old department is now gone. Bulldozed, flattened ready to be crushed to make the hardcore for what will be the playing fields of the new school. I quite like the idea that it will stay there in the campus. Still fulfilling a purpose. Of the destroying tank, there was no sign.

Watched the Elton John documentary tonight and enjoyed every minute. Good to hear someone open up like that. Maybe it’s something we should all do if we can do it to someone we trust. There’s a moral there somewhere.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but it’s going to be cold tonight. Should have put the blanket on the rosemary bush. Probably being a taxi driver for Scamp tomorrow night.

Old Bologna – 25 October 2019

Today was dull, really dull, so to brighten our day we went out to Italy.

I started the theme early by flying from Italy to Sicily. It was an uneventful flight until I allowed X-Plane to take control of the aircraft. It was supposed to fly it by AI, but I don’t know what the ‘I’ stood for. It certainly wasn’t Intelligence. It decided to take it away from the flight path and turn off the jet engine. After a bit of a struggle I got everything sorted out an performed a text book landing … at the designated airport, not in somebody’s garden as my brother used to do in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Back in the real world I struggled with getting email to work on the Samsung. Eventually I gave up or we wouldn’t have arrived at the restaurant in time for supper, let alone lunch. It must be at least three years since we’ve been in Vecchia Bologna, but the menu was quite familiar, the prices were a bit higher and the food was just as good as before. Next time, and I’m sure there will be a next time, we’ll book in advance to get a window seat.

Drove from there to Hobbycraft at The Fort to get some material to make a bow tie. I saw it earlier in the week and should have got it then, but the ‘fat quarter pack’ I was looking for was still there. Met Nancy when we left and made arrangements for lunch some time soon. Back via Aldi so that Scamp could test it out. That smell was still there, but again, it could have been because of the clientele although it did seem to be coming from the fruit and veg aisle.

Back home it was too dull to get an outside photo, so today’s PoD is of the last five apples from the James Grieve tree. Best year we’ve had so far.

Got a bit pissed off with the poor phone reception near the house. Can’t even get Spotify to play on the dire music system on the Juke. Eventually cooled down and accepted that EE is probably, overall the best of a bad bunch. O2 is better than all of them, but elsewhere its coverage is decidedly patchy. Vodafone is about the same as EE, but they really do make life difficult for you. I spent about an hour filling in the form to unlock my iPhone SE! O2 and EE unlock theirs after 18 months automatically. Three is just a joke – no coverage and a poor record. The moral of the tale is “Live with what you’ve got.”  What I did manage to do with the phone was finally get the email sorted.  It was the simplest thing.  The username was wrong, and that completely borked everything.  That’s not what the Samsung told me was wrong.  It told me that I hadn’t set up the PoP or the IMAP properly.  Misdirection is one of the greatest bugbears of the digital life.

Today’s Inktober topic was A Towel. This is how I spend my Friday nights now. Sitting on the toilet sketching an ink drawing of a pink towel. It’s things like this that give amateur artists a bad name!

Tomorrow we have no firm plans. It all depends on the weather fairies.

Alliums, Giant, Crocuses and Stitchery – 30 September 2019

It’s September Weekend, so no salsa and no Gems – a free Monday!

I was flying in X-Plane in the morning trying to get from Cumbersheugh to Glasgow. After getting lost twice and one crash and burn, I gave up any thoughts of being a pilot and decided we’d drive to the garden centre rather than nick a plane and fly there. There we managed to avoid two our least favourite Cumbersheugh inhabitants. To be fair, the bloke is ok and at times I feel sorry for him, but his wife can bore better than a diamond tipped drill, and with a voice to match. While avoiding them, Scamp bumped into an ex workmate, Denise. She was there with her family. Her son would have been useful to me when I was getting lost around Glasgow, because he flies helicopters, real ones.

Scamp was looking for allium bulbs, those big flower balls that are closely related to onions. She didn’t find any that she liked, but did get some lawn fertiliser, block of pansies and a decorative grass whose patterned leaves looked like sun shining through trees. Very pretty. Maybe we didn’t get the big allium, but they had a lovely display of giant autumn flowering crocuses and they made PoD.

On the way home we dropped in at B&Q and got some allium bulbs there. Drove back past the school, but the digger hasn’t started on the techy block yet. Too tough for the wee digger. They’ll need a tank to knock it down. Clyde built, it is.

Back home I struggled with sending invites to potential Inktober 2019 members. Flickr just seems to make the simplest things difficult. So far, eleven members and still they call it inactive. What do they want me to do? Answers on a postcard please.

Last week I noticed a wee hole in the pocket lining of my ‘rainy coat’ and yesterday I found that it had escalated to a tear right along the bottom seam. It needed stitching, so after consultation with Scamp I had a plan in place and today it was time to put it to the test. It took me a while to get the settings right, but I finally settled on a zig-zag stitch with a fine stitch length. Got it done and it looks quite neat, if a bit wobbly. That was planned of course ;o). If you stitch a straight line it will just give the tear a chance to start again. A wandering stitch is much stronger!!

It being a Monday, I was on dinner duty and as usual it was pasta. I tried to spice it up with some bacon matchsticks and also sun-dried cherry tomatoes, but they didn’t suit Scamp who barely touched it before turning up her nose and declaring that she “Didn’t like it.” Some folk have no taste. Strangely, neither did the brown looking tomato pasta. I have to admit it wasn’t my best.

Tomorrow Scamp is out in the morning for coffee with Isobel, then back out at lunchtime with Mags. That gives me some free time to paint or maybe to cut out the pattern for the next waistcoat.

The Visitor Arrives – 23 September 2019

Today we were meeting a visitor from down south.

Drove to Glasgow Airport to meet Clive who was travelling up to Scotland from Southampton. I’d asked him to bring some southern sunshine with him and he was as good as his word. The sky had been a dull grey in the morning, but by the early afternoon the sun had come out to play and it stayed that way for the rest of the day.

We were surprised that he arrived so promptly because this morning it was announced that Thomas Cook had ceased trading and thousands of customers abroad were being brought back home in what was called the biggest repatriation since the second world war. The media really do like to dramatise things, don’t they. However, hype aside, we had thought there might be more congestion at the airport, but we needn’t have worried. It appeared to be business as usual. No Dakota DC3s in camouflage paint disgorging hundreds of disgruntled holidaymakers. Just the usual mid afternoon business flyers … and Clive.

Scamp made Chicken, Leeks and Peas for dinner. We had a wee dram and Scamp introduced Clive to the joys of playing the piano. He’s had the first lesson tonight and will go on to the more advanced stuff tomorrow. We sat and talked and discussed music and Hi Fi stuff and albums we’d enjoyed many years ago. Not much else to say really. Just a good relaxing night.

Today’s PoD was taken just before we left for the airport and is Scamp’s Little Gems rose, grown from seed.

Tomorrow really depends on the weather. If it’s good, we’re off to see the Kelpies and the Falkirk Wheel. If it’s not, then probably Glasgow Cathedral and Kelvingrove.

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.