An open door policy – 16 May 2019

The door opened this morning and has been locked and unlocked a few times now. I call that a success.

Cut my hair after I got up. Number 4 all over. Thankfully Scamp corrected the bits I’d missed, and there were a few. After that I sat for a while in the sunny living room completing today’s Sudoku puzzle and also doing a quick painting of the fruit bowl with the oranges looking shiny and colourful in the sun.

With nothing else to do today and nowhere in particular to go. We finally settled on Stirling, or to be more exact, Waitrose in Stirling for the ‘messages’. I don’t know if you can actually go to Waitrose for ‘messages’. I think you go there to shop, or for shopping. We bucked the trend and went for messages.

Came home and tried to stop at Calders for some more plants. Calders was full, completely full. Not one parking space. Drove home and had lunch. An hour or two later we went back and got the plants and also a hook to hold our refilled hanging basket. Came home via Asda where I was hoping to get a couple of miniatures of whisky. The had none. It looked ominously as if that particular shelf had been cleared on purpose. This needed investigation.

Back home the sun was still shining and while it wasn’t as warm as yesterday, it was certainly shorts and tee shirt weather. So, suitably dressed I went for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s when the camera gave me a “Card Error!” Ejected it and re-inserted. Same result. After trying every thing I could think of, I knew the game was up and went for a non-photography walk over to Condorrat to see if Spar had the miniatures. Nope, they didn’t have them either. Eventually I phoned the Whisky Shop in Glasgow and was told, Yes, they had hundreds of them. The reason for the dearth elsewhere was because of new legislation for licensed premises that means they have to pay an extra fee and some are not willing to do so. Solved. Going in to Glasgow tomorrow to purchase a couple.

Still no photo, but then thought I’d take a few shots of our Strawberry & Cream Aquilegia. Set up the tripod and a few bits and pieces. Used a new card this time and it all went well.  The old card went in the bin.

Sketch theme today was A Messy Place. There are no messy places in this house. ;-). Ok. I lied. It ended up like a development sheet from a Craft & Design project, but that covered the brief. It’s done and on time.

Tomorrow, Glasgow may be the preferred destination.

The day the locksmith came – 15 May 2019

I was up early as you can imagine and even started fiddling around with the lock again, but had breakfast before I phoned for a locksmith. With no idea who was good, who was bad, well there was one obvious bad one. The only review he had on Google was one star and one word “Cowboy”. I avoided him and went for one on Yell. The bloke said he’d be out between 10 and 10.30 in the morning. He was as good as his word and he had the door opened in TEN SECONDS!! I kid you not.  Unfortunately, that was only half the story. The locking mechanism was broken and needed to be replaced. That he did with good speed and good humour. Paid him and he was off to Bellshill to fix a garage door that wouldn’t lock. I’d recommend him again to anyone.

That left us just enough time for lunch and to drive in to Glasgow for some Jive, some Quickstep, a bit of Cha-Cha and to finish off, a wee Waltz. Michael showed us the next part of our Jive routine and we also had a go at New Yorkers in Cha-Cha and a bit of the next stage in Quickstep. He really does fly through the routines.

Home and after dinner Scamp drove us to the STUC for Intermediate Salsa which was fun and Beginners Salsa which was not. Two girls, one slightly the worse for wear and one three sheets to the wind kind of spoiled the class. Yes, salsa is meant to be fun, but not to the extent that you giggle all the way through the class. That’s called Steamin’.

PoD was a hastily shot photo of the first flowering Aquilegia. Must do better. Sketch topic today was A Tree. I chose Chestnut and the result is here. It started out well, but I ran out of time. A common complaint on a Wednesday.

Tomorrow? I don’t have a clue. Today was hot. Temperature according to the car was max 25ºc and I could believe it. Tomorrow is to be cooler and not as sunny.

The Smiddy and Ladybirds – 11 May 2019

In the morning we went to a funeral. After that the day started.

In the morning we went to Crawford’s brother’s funeral. Funerals have a tendency, like black monkeys (or black dogs if you prefer) to stay with me all day. This one certainly did. We went home, got changed and drove to The Smiddy near Doune for lunch.

The drive helped to take the feeling away. That and the sunshine that we enjoyed all day. Baked Potato with Veg Chilli helped too. Scamp had her usual Macaroni and Cheese with Chips. We hadn’t really intended having such a full lunch, but the food in The Smiddy is usually very good and difficult to refuse. Outside I went to take some landscapes shots in the beautiful light that always appears near this restaurant. I did get a few, but then I managed to grab the photo that became PoD. Ladybirds doing some very unladylike things! From there we drove through Doune to Dunblane and M&S Food (more food? I hear you ask). After that it was a straight run home.

Tonight’s topic in Every Day in May, number 11, was Spring. What is more springlike than daffodils and it was a single daffy that became my sketch/painting today. I liked the blurred background, but Scamp didn’t. She liked yesterday’s painting and I didn’t. I’m glad we don’t agree on everything. That was about it for today. Scamp has more plans for the garden and maybe has a storage place for the new table. I ripped out some weeds from the retaining wall at the back of the garden and noticed that quite a few of the facing bricks need replacing. Managed to rip out a fairly large nettle and got a lovely sting from it right through one of Scamp’s heavy duty gardening gloves. Scary things, nettles.

Tomorrow looks like an even better day than today. If it lives up to predictions, we may go somewhere nice. Destination unknown at present. If not we may go dancing. It’s a wait and see kind of day.

Causing bother again – 10 May 2019

The day started well, and then it stalled at B&Q.

It was a lovely morning. Really too lovely to lie in bed, but that’s what we both did. That’s what happens when you’re stuck in a good book. You waste the best part of the day.

However we did eventually get going and of course Scamp was out sorting the garden again. Planning new layouts of plants, new colour schemes and sometimes, just new schemes. However, she did get a chance to use our new garden table as a potting table. So much more sensible than crouching down filling pots with compost. Better for the back. Then she was off to get her hair cut while I messed around on the computer looking at stuff, electric shavers and such.

After lunch she was stuck in the house because it was raining, really raining. I went off to The Fort to buy the electric shaver of my dreams. Not quite as posh as some people with their Series 9s with their cleaning modules. Mine would be a Series 5, but a big step up from the old blunt Series 4 I’ve had for about fifteen years, we think.

On the way back I spotted some beautiful light beginning to build, so I stopped and photographed it of course. Not on the motorway, but down a wee side road on the outskirts of Cumbersheugh. I didn’t have time to change lenses, because the light itself was changing rapidly, so instead I took three shots and intended to combine them into a panorama in ON1. I think it worked very well. I’m very impressed with that application.  Oh yes, and while I was there I saw the first swallow this year.  This is week 19.

Back home is where the bother started. The plug that came with the shaver didn’t fit our old shaver adaptor. No problem I managed to slide the contacts in until the shaver started charging. After dinner (Simple Fish Stew from yesterday) Scamp was going to the choir concert with Isobel and I’d volunteered to drive. After dropping her off, I went to B&Q to get an adaptor. Saw one for £1.50. Yes, that sounded right. No it wasn’t. Checkout girl said it was £2.65. Nope, I said, ticket says £1.50. Her supervisor said £2.65. Long story short. I went and checked, photographed said box of adaptors and the price ticket, but it made no difference. The supervisor wouldn’t believe the photo. The price was £2.65. The arrogance of that woman really got to me. Her mantra must be ‘The Customer Is Always Wrong’. I left without the adaptor. Have you ever tried writing a complaint to B&Q? There is nowhere on their website where such a thing is possible, believe me, I spent half an hour scrutinising the website, but they must be so perfect, nobody ever complains. Either that or they’ve hauled up the drawbridge, lowered the portcullis and are all running around with their fingers in their ears, saying “NOPE, NO COMPLAINTS HERE”. I did eventually get my complaint written and sent to somewhere in the system. We’ll see what happens next.

Today’s topic is A Door. My answer is the Bin Shed Door. It used to house the bins, but now we have four different types and different sizes of bins, there’s no room for all of them in the shed. Now it’s crammed full of gardening stuff, that’s why it’s firmly closed and the snib is down!  Not perfect, but I like the pot of Honeybells on the doorstep. That makes up for the rest of the painting.

Tomorrow we’re going to the funeral of Crawford’s brother. After that, the day will start.


Dancing – 8 May 2019

A dull, day with a cutting cold wind. If this is May, what will December bring?

I’d say Winter is Coming, but I haven’t a clue what that’s all about. Something to do with Games About Thrones, I believe.

We drove in to Glasgow today and danced Jive quite well. Learned The Bumps which were fun once you got the steps in your head. Got my Spin 5 sorted out properly and went over Kicksie which is mind bogglingly difficult for my feet to comprehend. In Quickstep I passed the test for Fishtails and the bit after Sway-Sway (I don’t know its name). All this was done under the tutelage of Anne Marie whose style was so much more relaxed than Michael’s

Came home in that cold wind again and started on a sketch for tonight’s EDiM topic which was “Broken Glass/Ice”. I’d downloaded a picture of a broken glass from a royalty-free site on the net and it looked like it would work. I’ll leave you to decide. At this point in proceedings I didn’t have a PoD and was running out of time (and light) to get one. After a bit of discussion with Scamp we decided not to go to Salsa tonight to allow me time to get everything completed on time. That took the pressure off and I grabbed some pics of flowers in the garden in the fading light. The Azalea at the top of the page is the result.

Finished the sketch and quite liked it. Used two thicknesses of pen for the lifework.

Tomorrow Scamp is booked to have her hair cut and I may go somewhere scenic and hopefully sunny to grab some photos.

Getting out of the house – 7 May 2019

Today we went for a drive and got a table.

It wasn’t the brightest of days, in fact it was a bit overcast with a hint of rain in the wind. I’d thought of going to Bowling near Dumbarton, but I reckoned I wouldn’t get very interesting photos with the lack of light in the morning, so we went to Ikea instead. I wanted to get some of the drawer dividers we’d been using for the Marie Kondo stuff and Scamp just wanted a wander around looking at nothing in particular and everything in general. We ended up buying a garden table for a knock down price, a wooden one that looks as if it will be useful, not only for eating off, but also as a potting bench. Had lunch in Ikea and got a quid or two off our meal with the Family Card. A pain in the backside to fill in the detailed application for and they must have been hewing the card from a solid block of plastic, judging by the time it took to come. However it saved us money, so we shouldn’t complain.  We both had the fish ‘n’ chips.  It was supposed to be cod and I’d guess it swam in the same sea as the cod, but that’s as close as it got to being that fish.  Chips were good.

The rain got heavier after we left Glasgow and it looked as if it was settling in to be another dull day. I moped upstairs for a while trying to find something to draw to fulfil the brief of “Something that makes you sad”. I though of an empty bottle of beer which usually makes me sad, but I just couldn’t get it to look like I wanted it to. Decided that the rain had lessened to a drizzle and went for a walk in St Mo’s as much for a break as for any inspiration. However, on my way back, I passed the burger van that’s parked over there and saw the sign for the umpteenth time. This time I took a couple of shots. The one you see here is the best one, I think. Processed in ON1 2019 and then just a little bit of levels in Lightroom, it became PoD.

With the photo done and posted, Scamp and I shared the last two choc ices and that’s when I saw my sketch. To quote from the title: “I’m always sad when the last choc ice is gone!” I posted it in FB and then had a look at what everyone else had done and it was “Saving the planet”, “Protect the Bees”, fluffy bunnies, kittens and babies with tears in their eyes. It seems that I’m the only one with a sense of humour.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing in the afternoon and in the evening too.

Another lazy day – 6 May 2019

This is getting boring. Tomorrow we must try to break out of Cumbersheugh!

The furthest we got today was the mighty Tesco. We needed milk and some veg for tonight’s dinner (Aloo Saag). We got it, we came back, we had the last of Scamp’s soup for lunch and then Scamp went out gardening.

I went upstairs to tackle today’s challenge which was the unlikely subject for me “Your daily work/office”. That’s a tricky one for someone who’s retired. I don’t actually have a “work” and certainly not an “office”. I thought of all the places I have worked, some of which could be called “offices”, but none of them impinge on my life now. Upstairs in the back bedroom is the closest I’m going to get to an office and I suppose you could call my daily photograph or my daily sketch this month a “daily work”. So that was that. It was either a sketch of a camera or of the bedroom. I settled on drawing what was in front of me, the drawing board with a couple of paintboxes an assortment of brushes and a pencil, plus odd bits and pieces. I drew it in pencil first and then outlined the result in pen, before laying down some watercolour washes. It looks ok and some people even “liked” it on FB. I’m surprised and delighted in equal measure. Tomorrows topic is “Something that makes you sad”. Hmm, that could be work itself!

I didn’t do much gardening today, I generally leave the ‘getting your hands dirty’ stuff to Scamp. She’s better at it than me. However I did put up a frame for her sweet peas at the front of the house, then she put up a bit of netting on the fence at the back for a second batch. Now she’s talking about putting netting on to the rowan tree and training yet more sweet peas up that. We’ll be overrun soon with pretty perfumed flowers. Later when I was bringing some of our most recent sowings from the greenhouse so they could get the benefit of the rain, because it was a rainy-shiny kind of day, I noticed that my leek seeds are sprouting. That’s good to know. Hopefully they will provide the basis for some soup one day. The leeks I planted last year seem to have survived the winter and are beginning to show signs of fattening up.

Today’s PoD was taken in the garden too. It’s a strawberry plant has been sitting on high in a hanging basket all winter and now it’s starting to flower again. It really deserves to be replanted and given some decent compost. Perhaps tomorrow.

Tomorrow, apart from the proposed bit of gardening we have no plans, but we really need to get away from the house, somewhere scenic perhaps.

MOT Day – 2 May 2019

Up and out to take Scamp’s Micra to the garage for MOT.

Back for breakfast and a plan for the day. I’d thought of going to Hamilton for a curry and maybe a visit to the art shop. Scamp had other ideas. She’d found a shop in Falkirk that had the rotary clothes airer (Whirly) she wanted. No problem, there’s a shop called The Range that sells cheap art materials. So, off we went to Falkirk.

The satnav found the shop even after disagreeing with my initial change of route. Scamp found the whirly and we were soon trying to inveigle it into the Juke. Finally it fitted, but only after we dropped both the back seats and Scamp moved her seat a notch forward. I had a look in The Range, but the paints I was looking for weren’t really all that cheap, just cheap looking. I had a look in Boots and Argos for a new electric razor, but couldn’t decide which one. So back we went to Cumbersheugh.

Scamp wanted a new planter (or two) for here sweet peas and also for anything that would fit into the other one. She also picked up this week’s plant which has blue flowers and an unpronounceable name. Next stop was B&Q to find out if they had any Impatiens, pink ones. They did, which brought another smile to her face. While we were plant shopping I got the phone call from the garage that the car would fail because of a broken front spring. Agreed to the price and told them to go ahead.

We were passing the new(ish) Milano cafe and stopped there for lunch. Lunch was a pizza each. Initial thoughts were that it was little more than a transport cafe, but one look at the pizza was enough to convince us otherwise. Very nice pizzas. Worth another visit.

Back home we chose a place for the new whirly and with a spade I decided ‘X’ marked the spot and started to hammer the 400mm long galvanised steel holder into the back garden grass. It wasn’t as difficult as it first appeared, but a lot more difficult than the instructions implied. Wish I’d brought that big lump hammer back from school over four years ago. It would have made short work things. We assembled the dryer and it’s still standing after having helped dry some sheets. It isn’t exactly vertical, but it hasn’t fallen down yet which the clothes pole is about to do. That could be my next task, to hacksaw down the clothes pole. But that’s for another day.

I thought I had enough time to go for a walk before we went for the car, but I was wrong. I’d only been out for about 15 minutes when the call came in. Rushed back and drove Scamp down to the garage to pick up her wee car.

Gave up on the walk to take photos and settled for a shot of the American Cowslip I got in Skye last year about this time. It completely died away last year and I was sure it was gone, but then Scamp announced a few weeks ago that she thought it was growing. It’s now flowering and we may have to re-pot it once its flowers have gone. Such a pretty and strange wee flower. That became PoD.

The topic for today’s EDiM sketch/painting was “An insect you would miss” and my insect was a Ladybird. It’s ok. It could have been better if I hadn’t left it so long to start working on it. Tomorrow will be better.

Found out that my old electric razor still had a charge in it. Even better I found the charger too. It still works but is a bit rough on the skin. I found a label on it that told me I should change the cutter and foil every 18 months. I though it was every 18 years!

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go for a curry in Hamilton.

Beer is the answer, now what was the question? – 30 April 2019

A day in town with the guys and being a good Samaritan.

Scamp offered me a run to the train station to have a 10min trip into Glasgow, rather than the 45min trip the X3 forces on me. I was meeting the Auld Guys for a few beers, some adult conversation and a cheap lunch. Before that I had some time to spare, so I went for a look in JL. Where I saw a bloke attempting to buy a camera for his daughter. She wanted one with a viewfinder, but the one he had his eye on didn’t have one. The assistant told him that nothing in that price range had viewfinders. She went to get the keys to the cabinet to show him some considerably more expensive ones, that’s when the Good Samaritan butted in. I pointed to a Teazer (TZ70) which was much closer to his price range than the £650 Sony the assistant was touting and told them that it had a viewfinder. Even better I had my Teazer in my pocket to show him. He seemed happy that it had a viewfinder and gave it over to his daughter so that she could try it. She said it was just what she was looking for. By then the assistant had returned and the man pointed at the Teazer in the case and said that “This Gentleman” (that’s me by the way) “says that one has a viewfinder”. The assistant agreed that the Lumix was a good make and confirmed that it did indeed have a viewfinder. I left them to test it out for themselves. I hate to see people being given that kind of sales pitch. A Gentleman and a Good Samaritan and it wasn’t even 11.30am!

Met up with the other three in the Horse Shoe Bar. It looked like a pensioners day out today. Not one person under the age of 60 drinking in that bar. Val and Jack couldn’t make it. Jim B couldn’t come today for some undisclosed reason. Had a good gossip about school stuff we don’t have to worry about anymore, then went upstairs for lunch. Three courses for a fiver! That’s a cheap lunch. After that it was home time.

Fred and I got the train home and Scamp very kindly dropped Fred off before we went home too. A good day out.  Scamp had managed to get the grass cut while I was away and just in time too, because when we were going home it started to drizzle.  It’s good for the garden!

Today’s PoD was taken from the top of Buchanan Street in the town.

Tomorrow it’s dancing again. Hopefully better than last week.

Lazy Sunday Afternoon – 28 April 2019

Not only the afternoon. The morning was lazy too, as was the evening.

Today I was cooking a spare rib for my dinner, and following the advice from Samin Nosrat (no, that’s not an anagram, it’s her name), I sprinkled it with Salt and put it in the fridge. Tick off Salt. Left it there for the required time (more than half an hour and no more than three hours). Then I took it out, unwrapped it and browned it in a little Oil, so that’s Fat ticked off. While I was doing that, I prepared that overworked slow cooker with herbs in the bottom (Parsley, [no Sage], Rosemary and Thyme – Simon & Garfunkel1 joke) and chopped onion on the middle layer. When the meat was well browned, I laid it on top of the veg and deglazed the pan with some Red Wine, which takes care of the Acid part and added it, with a little water to the pot. Finally I turned the heat setting to High for half an hour and that Heat completes the mantra of Salt – Fat – Acid – Heat that Ms Nosrat recommends in her book. After half an hour I turned the heat setting to Auto and left it to do its magic for four or so hours.

In the meantime I went out for a walk and found St Mo’s abuzz with insect life. Spiders (which I realise aren’t insects, but arachnids), flies and ladybirds. It was the seven spot ladybird (Coccinella septempunctata) which made PoD today. Never seen a ladybird face to face before. I also saw some different pine cones in the process of being fertilised. Didn’t get a good shot of them, will try again, maybe tomorrow.  While I was out, Scamp was planting some of her sweet peas.  The first lot to be planted where they are expected to flower.  I need to plant some carrots this week.

Came home and found the beef rib cooked to perfection. Well, nearly perfection. One half of it was a bit tough (or Cheugh [pronounced chuch] if you speak Larky) and the other side simply slid of the bone. I think that was the secret. The tough side wasn’t attached to the bone. I’ll test the method again with the next short rib. It seems to work.

Watched the Baku GP which was a bit of a let-down after the excitement of the qualifying session.

That was about it for the day. We were too lazy to go to Mango to dance tonight. It was that sort of day, really.

Tomorrow I’m intending to get the Micra booked in for MOT and hopefully dance at night.

  1. I noticed that Garfunkel was performing in Glasgow Royal Concert Hall the other week. Also appearing later that week was a Simon & Garfunkel tribute act. I just wondered if the real Garfunkel went to see them and also if he’d got in free if he said he was “With the band”?