Stormy – 5 July 2020

You expect the storms in the autumn or the winter, but in July? Well, it is Scotland.

It was a windy old night last night and this morning was much the same. Thankfully as the day progressed, the storm winds regressed. Not so the rain. It pounded us relentlessly all day, with just the occasional sunny spell to trap the unwary and entice them out and then ambush them with another heavy shower.

In the afternoon I was enticed out but given the warning from Scamp to get home quick if the rain started. I ignore the warning, of course, but then the camera started acting up after an accidental finger press on the screen changed the setting to stupid mode and it started shooting video instead of stills. Eventually I gave up and reset it to default position, but by that time the good light had gone and so had the soldier beetle I was intending to photograph. I gave up. I had a few shots from the morning when we had that strange Scottish mixture of sunshine and showers … at the same time. The flower shots would have to do and I started to plod my weary way home. Reached the door just as the really heavy rain started. Scamp thought I was just obeying instructions and heading home before the rain came. I had to disabuse her of that notion and told her the story of the wayward camera and Stupid Mode. I don’t think she believed me.

Dinner tonight was Steak and Kidney cooked by my own fair hand. Scamp had an omelette. Both served with Jersey Royal potatoes. While I’d been out wrestling with the camera, Scamp had baked a Sultana Cake and we had a slice each with custard for pudding. Lovely!

Watched the Austrian GP, the first one of this Cover-19 season. Full of thrills, spills, bad tempers and lots of crashes. Nobody hurt thankfully, some egos bruised and a lot of very expensive equipment spread all over the race track. Let’s hope they all cool their heels before next week’s re-run.

Two of Scamp’s Sweet Peas made the PoD. The first two to flower and both survived todays gales. It was meant to be a rose for today’s sketch, but it didn’t quite make it. Perhaps it will be better tomorrow. The Lockdown Library is stalling a bit and maybe needs a rest. Maybe I should break out all the new paints and use them tomorrow. Also tomorrow, we’re hoping to go for a walk somewhere that isn’t Cumbersheugh based, because actually Lockdown had been folded up and put away in its box. The box hasn’t been locked yet and we’ve been well warned that Lockdown may yet come out of its box and restrict our movement again.

The big city – 30 June 2020

Not Glasgow or Embra, but the minor city of Stirling.  Granted City status by The Queen in 2002.  Queen Lizzie, not Nicola, who is the queen in waiting.

Today we went to Stirling for ‘the messages’. Since we, the common people are still restricted to approximately five miles from home for exercise and recreation, we wouldn’t be allowed to travel the fifteen or so miles to Stirling, BUT if we were travelling for essential food supplies, like Waitrose might have, permission is granted. We drove to Stirling. Parked at an almost deserted Waitrose and went for a walk in the city centre.

It was a bit strange walking past the closed up shops in the Thistle Centre. Y’see, according to Her Majesty Nicola’s decree, only shops with an outside entrance may open. Those that only have an entrance to a mall may not. Since most of the shops in centre fail that test, they can’t open yet. In fact, only Boots can tick that box, having an entrance to the pedestrian precinct through Boots Opticians. However, WH Smith was open and it doesn’t have an outside entrance. Aha, but it does house the post office and that way it can thwart the rule. One rule for Post Offices and another for the ordinary shops. We didn’t tarry long, Scamp didn’t even go in to M&S.

We walked back to Waitrose and made a valiant attempt at buying it. I can’t say Scamp did that on her own, I aided and abetted her, buying more than we really needed, but not as much as we really wanted. It felt very strange to me to be wearing a mask and taking care to dance around people in Waitrose. It put it down to accepting the queueing and the gradual return to almost normality in Tesco and the new shops, Waitrose was a known quantity in a known town. This was the first time we’d been there since about February and you grow to expect all the restrictions in the place you live in, but once you go to somewhere you haven’t visited in a while, it feels a but alien almost. Maybe it’s just me.

Back home and after lunch, Scamp went out to cut the grass. I did the strimming round the plant pots. I was also trusted with using the blower to scatter the loose grass cuttings to the four winds. I didn’t realise just how strong the torque is in that leaf blower. It’s a powerful motor.

Afterwards I laid in a sky for a wee acrylic painting that’s been in my head for weeks. Hopefully the sky will follow tomorrow.

Headed off for a walk round St Mo’s and got another photo of a grasshopper. It may be the same one, or perhaps it’s a different one. I never got to find out its name. I thought it might make PoD, but that went to a woman walking her dog.

Not a bad day, and a day without any rain. That doesn’t look set to last. More of the wet stuff on the way and we have no plans for tomorrow, even although Cass Art will be open tomorrow! Yes, I’ve checked and it does have the required type of entrance.

It didn’t rain today … 29 June 2020

… for about an hour. The sun shone too for far less time than that. Otherwise it was same old, same old.

It was a dull rainy morning that led on to a dull rainy afternoon, but finally about 10pm I went to the door and it was dry. I’m not sure if it’s still dry. I’m not looking just in case it’s not.

I drove up to Tesco today in the rain, mainly to get my prescription from the chemist, but also to get milk and bread if there was no queue. There was no queue so I grabbed my basket, disinfected it, sanitised my hands and put on my mask. Yes, I know a two layer cloth mask isn’t going to stop the microscopic spores of the virus, but it makes me feel secure and makes folk smile because the mask has cartoon frogs on it. Scamp says it makes folk give you a wide berth, just in case you might be wearing the mask to prevent others from catching your germs. Yes, that might just be true.

Came home with a magazine, a bag of oranges, two grapefruit and a loaf, but no milk. Didn’t notice until we were having lunch and Scamp asked me where I’d put the milk. What milk? Oops.

In between showers I grabbed a few shots of flowers in the garden and it was the remains of a meconopsis that made PoD. Sometimes the remains of a flower once the petals have fallen are more interesting than the flower. I wouldn’t say that about the bright blue of the meconopsis, but it did make an interesting subject. Only one flower still to open on the plant and that will be it until next year DV.

Danced for a bit tonight, reprising a couple of sequence dances and a little bit of jive to end the session. Only half an hour or so, but I was quite pleased at remembering most of the sequence dance steps and all the Seven Deadly Spins in the correct order! Must do that more often. I’m sure Scamp enjoyed it too.

Postman knocked at the door today and left a heavy but small parcel on the step. It turned out to be a bottle of Barra Gin. Scamp had told me she’d ordered one for JIC and Sim and it had arrived last week after a lengthy wait. It turned out she’d ordered one for me too! She is well named. She can be a crafty Scamp when she turns her mind to it.

So, today was an improving picture. Tomorrow we may drive somewhere, just to get The Messages. I may even take my “I’m Away For The Messages” bag with me. Oh yes, and we might get some milk too!

Ok, you can turn the rain off now! – 28 June 2020

It was raining at 8.30 this morning at 11.40 tonight it’s still raining.

I don’t think the rain has stopped all day. We did expect some heavy rain from the forecast yesterday, but we also expected some dry spells. The heavy rain came, but the dry spells went somewhere else for the day. Because of that, there wasn’t much to report.

Scamp watched a bit of TV and did a bit of tidying around the house. I made a three layer mask prototype.

Scamp spoke to Shona for a while on the phone. We both spoke to JIC later and found out that his new car, his first Brand New Car was ‘nice.’ A nice car.

I sketched a couple of apples for today’s sketch using my 49year old Parker fountain pen. I photographed our yellow nasturtiums for PoD.

Today we should have been sailing away from Southampton on our Med cruise.

Those were the headlines. Tomorrow will be better, surely. I’ll hope I’ll be able to tell you that tomorrow.

Hot! – 25 June 2020

We were warned it was going to be hot today. They weren’t wrong.

First job was to get my hair cut. Number three all over followed by a number two to clean up the fluffy bits at the nape of my neck. I’m always amazed at the amount of hair that falls in clumps on the carpet as I’m cutting. A bit thank you to Scamp because she did quality control on the operation and was the one who used the number two cutter to achieve perfection on the neck line. It’s such a great feeling when you step out of the shower and dry your hair in about 20 seconds flat.

With the big job over, we walked down to the shops and bought a new set of coloured lights to go round the tree in the garden. It brightens up the place and although the last lot hardly lasted a month, it was worth the fiver. It wasn’t until we got home we found that someone had swiped the solar cell from the box. Not only that, they’d just ripped it off the cable, so it would be almost no use to them.

After lunch Scamp was going to see her sister, so she got her money back on the lights. While she was off to see big sis, I walked round St Mo’s and got today’s PoD of an Azure damselfly. I also saw three dragonflies doing circuits and bumps at the pond. I imagine one of them was the one I saw emerging yesterday. Walked over to the shops and bought some pineapple cakes sweets and ice-cream, The healthy option.

Dinner tonight was smoked salmon and broccoli quiche with a salad. Very nice indeed. Sat in the garden and listened to the bloke next door pontificating on a range of topics, but mainly The Eagles. We discussed Scamp’s idea for a storage unit for the paved area of the back garden, but mainly we just soaked up some rays. It seemed sensible because it doesn’t look as if there are going to be many sunny days for a while. Thunder and lightning forecast for tonight and tomorrow. Heavy rain too, which should mean we don’t have to water the garden.

Today’s painting was a watercolour of a plantain flower. Not the Caribbean green banana, but an insignificant little plant that produces a brown and white flower on a long stem. If you live in the UK you’ll have seen them on any patch of waste ground.  They are also known as Ribwort.

As usual, no plans for tomorrow. It definitely depends on the weather!

Another dull, wet one – 23 June 2020

Much the same as yesterday. Woke to grey skies and wet ground.

Scamp was feeling much more like herself today and we went out for a walk in the afternoon. It was dry almost all the way down around the exercise trail behind Broadwood stadium, then just a little way round the side of the loch. That’s where we bumped into David, the bloke who used to own the garage I we got our cars serviced and MOT’d in. He ran a good business and I could tell he’d hated having to retire from it. It was him who suggested, four years ago, that it might be time for me to let go of the Renault Megane, because I’d guessed, but he knew it was going to cost me a lot more in time and money to keep it on the road than it was worth. We stood and talked for about twenty minutes, observing social distancing as just about everyone does these days. It was good to speak to him and find out what he was up to now and how they were coping with lockdown. When we left him and headed up the hill towards home, we both suspected there was just the hint of rain in the air and it did actually rain for the last hundred yards to the house, but just enough to dampen our hair, not actually get us wet.

I’d taken some photos in the garden earlier in the day and I took some more when the rain eased off. It was one of the early ones that got PoD.  It’s a Jenny Long Legs (Crane Fly) dangling on my pea netting. Poor wee thing. I quite liked a close-up shot of one of Scamp’s favourite roses, Remember Me. It didn’t quite make PoD, but it is on Flickr.

Scamp was chef today and Carrot & Lentil Curry was on the menu. Always a firm favourite in this house. I made the flatbread, but it turned out a bit salty. The curry was fine, but more fiery than Scamp had intended. Still worth going for seconds, because there was ice cream to cool our mouths afterwards. More curry in the fridge for tomorrow, but unfortunately no more ice cream!

Tonight’s painting was going to be a landscape, but it just didn’t work out right. It was overworked and you just can’t do that in watercolour. I gave it up and changed completely in the second painting of an anemone flower. I liked it, although there are a few errors I didn’t see until I photographed it. Still, it’s done and it is miles better than that landscape was going to be.

Tomorrow we may go out somewhere just to get one of the cars moving and to get ourselves out again.

The day the rains came – 21 June 2020

Thankfully they did remember a previous appointment and left us after a while.

It was a wet start to Fathers Day. However a couple of cheerful cards and a useful prezzy that I’d quite forgotten about, but someone had remembered brightened the day. Thank you both. Also the offer of a Zoom catch-up later in the day since actual face to face connection is still a promise for the future.

After lunch and after watching Nick Robinson gently take apart the Health Secretary in as skilful a piece of interrogation as you’re likely to see on TV, I started on a final sketch for yesterday’s drawing assignment which was still in the outline sketch stage when I went to bed last night. Eventually I gave up on it and started another, simpler, sketch that is viewable on Instagram and Facebook, but not here. It’s not that good IMHO. With that done and posted, and with my dinner of stewing steak bubbling away, I was ready to face the rest of the day and was actively considering a walk in the rain when I realised the big hand was at 3 and the little hand had slipped down just past 5. Where had the day gone? I decided to take my time as Scamp poured a small glass of Rhubarb & Ginger Gin and sat with my sudoku of the day for the remains of the hour.

Got Scamp’s computer set up for Zoom and we had about 45 minutes of worthwhile three way chat with the three families. Whoever invented Skype and Zoom deserves all the praise for a wonderful way of bringing families together in these trying times.

Then it was dinner and my stew was lovely. After dinner and Scamp’s fruit crumble, the coffee and a tot of alcoholic relaxant I inked in today’s sketch which was of the handlebars and headstock of my Dewdrop. Couldn’t quite decide whether to leave it as a line drawing or add a wash, finally chose to add a part wash and leave the rest as a line drawing. Probably the worst of both worlds. Not to worry, it’s done and on time.  PoD went to a grab shot this morning of the pansies in the elevated tub hanging on the fence.

Tomorrow is Monday and we have no plans. Nowhere we need to go and nothing we need to get. That’s what retirement is all about.

Thank you to Hazy, JIC, Neil-D, Scamp and Sim (alphabetical is the fairest way) for a lovely day.

Out for a run – 20 June 2020

We went for petrol today, the first since March!

We went to Tesco. Scamp was scouting around for the best deal in mobile phones and Tesco is usually up there with the best. It took us a long time to see just the extent of the queue to get in and when we did find out how long it was, we went for petrol instead. One of the advantages of being in Lockdown is that we don’t use much petrol. The last time I filled the tank was in March! From Tesco we drove to Calders where there was no queue to get in. Scamp wanted some begonias to fill up some empty tubs and, of course, some compost to help with the filling up. Got what we needed and left to see what the rest of the day offered.

It offered me a run out on the Dewdrop. For Scamp it was a seat in the sun and a Pimms to cool down with. My run took me the backroad to Kirkintilloch, then the main road back to Cumbersheugh. That’s not a road I’ll travel again on a bike if I can avoid it. No lorries, but buses and nutters doing what must have been 80 on something that is really a country road. The back road may have been a bit hilly in places, but it was much safer than the wider roads.

Back home I sat in the sun with Scamp for a while and had a glass or two of soda water and lime. Felt really dehydrated. She’d been working while I was away. There was a pot holding four begonias and another one with a heather plant and another two begonias.

We’d already agreed that we’d have a Golden Bowl dinner tonight, so after I came out of the shower I phoned our order and half an hour later, after a walk to Condorrat we were sitting down to Chicken Chop Suey (Scamp) and Special Chow Mein (Me) and Prawn Crackers to share. Lovely meal, cooked perfectly. My compliments to the chef.

Lovely email from JIC this morning asking if we’d like to join them at a farmhouse they’d booked in the Yorkshire Dales in September. That really did bring smiles to our faces. With a bit of luck, we’ll be going on holiday this year after all.

PoD was taken on that bike ride this afternoon, proving that Cumbersheugh is not always as grim as I sometimes portray it. No sketch yet, an early night for once. My aching bones need the rest.

Well, it’s been another lovely warm day, but tomorrow is forecast to bring wind and rain.  The gardens need it.

Demolition Man – 19 June 2020

Yesterday I was a joiner. Today I was a demolition expert.

I have a certain expertise in destroying things, but mostly it’s an accidental destruction. Today it was planned. Scamp and I had discussed removing the old clothes pole from the corner of the garden. It isn’t used much and it makes access to that corner of the garden difficult. Today she suggested that we might need to reorganise the garden and with that in mind, it would be a good idea to remove the clothes pole. I’d been expecting this and really didn’t think I was up to breaking up the great block of concrete that’s been holding it (nearly) vertical for the last thirty odd years. It was different when I was working and had access to a sledge hammer. I didn’t think the claw hammer and mole grips would be up to the job. What I did have as a nearly new hacksaw and a pack of blades. What if we just simply cut the pole down at or near ground level? Sounded like a plan, so I set to it there and then before I got to the what if’s. Cut halfway through the pole which was hollow, of course and released a flood of water, some of which was about thirty years old! You could actually see it squinting as it emerged into the sunlight. The second half should be a lot easier, but I didn’t want to cut that last five millimetres and have to shout TIMBER! so I hammered a couple of staples into the fence and tied it off to them to stop it falling. Just as I predicted, the second half was much easier than the first and with a new blade in the say, we made short work of the pole which is now having a wee lie down in the garden until we can cart it off to the skips. That corner looks so different now! With the demolition done, it was time for lunch and I felt I’d earned it.

After lunch, Scamp went for a walk round Broadwood and I settled fairly comfortably in the back room, put my feet up and proceeded to draw them, because today’s prompt said Draw Your Feet (with or without socks). I chose naked feet and that rough sketch made SoD.

PoD was found in St Mo’s because once Scamp had returned from her walk, I went over to walk round the pond and grab some macro action. What I found was a Wolf Spider and that was PoD.

Dinner tonight was two of the best pizzas I’ve made in a long time. Tuna ’n’ Sweetcorn for Scamp and Anchovy ’n’ Olive for me. Both made with well proved pizza dough and marinara sauce. Very nice. Just for the record, 20 mins at gas mark 9 on the pizza stone covered with semolina.

Rained heavily tonight, so no need to water the garden. Thunder storms predicted for during the night. If we have a decent day tomorrow we may go somewhere in direct contravention of Nick the Chick’s five mile mandate.

Joiner – 18 June 2020

Text this morning from Shona looking for a bit more security work in the flat.

It seems that Ben has been playing in the bathroom and splashing water everywhere, so much so that it was dripping through the ceiling of the flat below.  Could I fit a hasp or a bolt to stop him getting in?  Would it be possible to have some form of lock?I went to have a look and it was a fairly easy job to fit a slip bolt.  The other option was to put on a hasp and staple.  That would be more difficult, but would allow a padlock to be fitted to secure the door more effectively.  Drove up to B&Q and walked straight in.  Almost no queue.  Hooray, things must have calmed down.  Got what I wanted and joined the long queue to pay.  It was well policed and the queue went down quickly.  Walked out and saw that there was indeed a queue now.  In the twenty minutes or so I’d been in the store, the queue had grown from 0 to about 300m long.  It pays to shop early, it seems.  Back at the flat, I got the door secured in about fifteen minutes.  Back home in time for lunch.  My only fear now is that with Ben being almost a teenager, he’ll be strong enough to pull the hasp off the door and I’ll be back fitting a lock with big bolts holding it in place!

After lunch, despite parts 2 & 3 of my Amazon delivery arriving,  a black monkey appeared on my shoulder and I couldn’t shake it.  It might have been partly due to Nick the Chick’s latest pronouncements about entering phase 2 of The Release.  It appears that we are still expected to travel no further than 5 miles for leisure and exercise.  She also said that outdoor outdoor markets, playgrounds and sports facilities will reopen on 29th June, along with some visitor attractions such as zoos – although visitors should still not travel more than five miles from their homes to visit them!  Do the people who make the rules even talk to one another?  Does anyone know of a zoo that is within five miles of Cumbersheugh (Carbrain doesn’t count, because it is part of Cumbersheugh).

Scamp suggested a walk and that was probably what what managed to shift the black monkey.  It’s a long time since I’ve had one and I hope it’s a long time before one returns.  Spoke to Lynn D and her husband when we were out and we both bemoaned the missing overseas holidays this year.  We should have been off next week to the Mediterranean on a cruise ship and she should have been jetting off to the Canaries the week after.  Hopefully the weather will stay warm and sunny at home and we’ll get to go to Scotland this year (if we’re allowed to extend that five mile rule).  No photos taken on the walk, but it contributed a great deal to the 10,000 steps I’ve just recorded.

Sat with a beer in the garden when we came back and took a few shots of the flowers.  Favourite was the seeding Geum with it’s chaotic tendrils.  I made it PoD and called it Boris!  I don’t know why.  Second place went to a macro of a Lupin flower.  Both will be accessible on Flickr after I post this. Sketch today was Something Sweet.  I chose some Rowntrees Pastilles.  Much more difficult to draw than I thought.  The light was fading when I was sketching them, so I took a photo and sent it to my tablet, then drew it from the image on that.  Cheating slightly, but it worked for me.

Tomorrow we have no deliveries, so hopefully we can go out somewhere 4.99999miles away.