Fishing – 12 December 2020

Now, before you get the wrong idea, I wasn’t wearing waders and freezing my backside off by a river. No, I was only watching.

We were sort of curtailed by the Littlest Witch’s banishment of us to North Lanarkshire. Only sort of, because we’d both agreed that we didn’t really want to go to Glasgow at the first weekend when lockdown wasn’t in force and the place would be full of mad Xmas shoppers. Also, the sun was breaking through the clouds and it looked like it was dry outside, so we headed off in the general direction of Broadwood Loch to get some fresh air and possibly some foties. We walked down and over the boardwalk and that gave me a chance to warm up with some shots of Tufted Ducks (commonly called ‘Tufties’). It was when we had crossed over the boardwalk that we found the fisher. It was a female Goosander with a fairly big fish in its mouth. I’m guessing it was a perch, but I couldn’t be sure. The bird was struggling:

  • A to swallow the fish whole
    and
  • B to avoid all the other goosanders who wanted their share of the catch.

Eventually after a few minutes and a few shots from the camera, the fish was no more than a lump in the Goosander’s throat. Then off it swam in search of other fish to catch.

We walked on round part of the pond and on to the dam. Then it was down and round to go to the shops. It was a fairly pleasant day to start with and improved all afternoon, for a change. I was almost tempted to take a detour into St Mo’s on the way, but that would mean leaving Scamp to carry the heavy shopping home, besides I was fairly sure I’d a couple of shots in the bag.

We weren’t long home when there was a knock at the door and a woman handed me a parcel addressed to me. At first I thought Scamp had ordered something for my Christmas and forgotten to warn me, but she said no. Then she said that it would be my pan! Yes, I’d forgotten my pan. I ordered a cast aluminium non-stick griddle pan a week or so ago and this was indeed it. It’s a solid piece of metal and I got the chance to try it out tonight to cook my two venison burgers for dinner. Scamp was making crumbled curried cauliflower bhajis and we were sharing potato wedges to go with both our mains. She’d also made coconut pyramids. I know that’s not the correct name for them. It’s basically desiccated coconut, sugar and eggs made into little balls and baked in the oven. We usually get them at the Christmas Market in George Square in Glasgow, but of course, not this year.
The pan cooked the venison burgers perfectly. The first lot of Scamp’s coconut pyramids were a bit light coloured. The second lot were a bit darker. I liked the first lot, she preferred the well fired ones. The cauliflower bhajis were too spicy and the potato wedges just disappeared as soon as they hit the plate. A good dinner.

Watched Strictly which was dull. So was the final qualifier for the final race of the F1 GP season.

Tomorrow looks wet, so we might not get out for a walk.

Driving through the labyrinth – 14 November 2020

We had a big ball of string with us, just in case.

Drove in to Glasgow in the morning because the weather fairies said nasty weather was coming our way in the afternoon. They were almost right, as usual. The nasties were coming our way, blown in from the Atlantic by the Jet Stream. There wasn’t a JS when I was attempting to understand geography at Larky Academy. All we could afford was the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic Drift – which was the real name of what’s left of the Gulf Stream when it arrives battered and bruised after a long trip from Mexico to Scottish shores. Anyway the Jet Stream seems to be to the air, what the Gulf Stream is to water. It’s also a pain in the backside because it always dumps its unwanted wind and rain on Scotland and it was coming to a place near us in the afternoon, or so they said. What actually happened was the morning was ok, just ok and the afternoon was dull. The rain got dumped in the evening. It’s still being dumped now. For all those meteorological reasons we drove in to Glasgow in the morning to pick up a duvet cover we’d ordered from JL.

To get to the pick-up place you have to pick up a ticket at the entrance to the car park, drive through the labyrinth that is the Buchanan Galleries car park until you come to the gate that takes you to the pick-up area. There you stick your ticket in the machine and if it doesn’t have a hissy fit and spit your ticket back at you, it allows you to enter the sanctum. From there, suitably PPE’d you enter the collection area and after showing your collection barcode then flashing your picture ID, you get the item you have already paid for.
It sounds a bit archaic, but it works and best of all you don’t have to pay to park if all you want to do is just pick something up. The item in question was a duvet cover we’d ordered during the week. Scamp checked it while we were in the sanctum, just to make sure it was the right pattern and the right size. It was and after that we drove home.

With that excitement over we had lunch and I took the Sony out for a walk. The best of a bad lot today was a picture of some tree fungus in St Mo’s. By the time I was walking home it was growing dark and it was only about 2.30pm! Some of the street lights were on. It was that kind of day.

There’s not a lot else I can say about today other than it was almost exactly what the weather fairies predicted. If they’re to believed tomorrow will be much the same. Oh what fun!

The coat of many colours – 11 November 2020

We couldn’t decide what to do today, but settled on Glasgow as the best option as it was dull and looked like rain was on the way.

Scamp wanted to look for a new coat. I wanted a couple of new sketch books. Scamp had also noticed an advert for a pop-up shop selling Harris Gin at Cafe Gandolfi so, three birds with one stone.

First stop was JL to see if they had any coats Scamp would be seen wearing. They hadn’t. I looked at a few lenses, but none I would consider buying either. She also looked at a duvet cover she’s fancied for a long time, but they didn’t have it in the right size. Further down Buchanan Galleries was Next, but none of the coats there took her fancy either. It was beginning to look like a waste of a day.

We walked down to CassArt and I did get the two sketch books I wanted. Next on the list was M&S for a coat. They had lots. Red ones, white ones and blue ones. I was beginning to think it was the Rangers Shop we’d staggered into. Eventually, after trying, rejecting and re-trying various styles, some with furry collars, some without, she finally settled on a blue one with removable furry collar. I got a jersey to replace the one I’m wearing as I type this. The one I got doesn’t have an oil stain on the front, but I’ll soon fix that!

We were on a roll. Walked on to Cafe Gandolfi and found the shop, conveniently situated where the bar used to be. Now that almost all bars in Scotland are closed, it made a good use of the space. Got the gin, time for a coffee.

This is where it all falls down. We went to Cafe Nero. Usually seriously good coffee. Not now. Two shots of coffee in one of the big cardboard buckets that hold about 500ml then topped up with about 400ml of hot water. Worse still I had what I thought was a Pigs in Blankets toastie while Scamp had her usual latte and a tuna melt. I hadn’t noticed the word ‘Swill’ between ‘Pigs’ and ‘in’. A slippery slimy couple of doorsteps of bread that did actually taste like blankets, or what I imagine blankets taste like, sandwiched between was the pig swill filling with one sausage and a couple of chewy bits of bacon. If you get the chance, avoid Pig Swill in Blanket like the plague, or it’s very likely that’s what you’ll get. Bubonic on a plate. I may use this paragraph as my email to Cafe Nero.

Drove back home through the gathering gloom, and the rain that had been threatening all day.  However, I was fairly sure I had a PoD in the bag, and I was right. It’s the rear of an old building on Trongate.  An example of the less publicised Glasgow architecture.

Tomorrow looks like a better day than today. We may manage a walk.

On the yellow brick road – 4 November 2020

… with masks on.

Today, you’ve probably guessed, we went to Ikea. That’s what Scamp suggested, and as I had nothing better to do, I agreed. Fairly long queue to get in, but it was moving quite quickly. One absolute numpty literally ran in front of us to get in the queue before us. I don’t know if she’d maybe never been in the Big Yellow House before, but I hope she found what she was looking for or I imagine she’d scream and scream!

We were looking for three things one of which I thought was on the upper floor. I was correct, but we had to walk all the way round the maze and found it at the very end of the upper floor. With Covid restrictions you MUST follow the yellow brick road where before you could double back sometimes. That is totally forbidden now. So two trays for my storage cabinet meant I accumulated about 1,000 steps. We came out with the three items we had gone for … and a few more.

Drove back into Glasgow, heading for Glasgow Green. I followed the map in my head and then missed a lane change and we had to drive right through the city rather than round the edge. It didn’t matter, Scamp knows the city well and told me the lane changes well in advance. As we were walking past the People’s Palace I saw what looked like two sword fencers practicing under some trees. Now, as I said to Scamp, there’s used to be a fair amount of swordplay down on Glasgow Green, but only on Saturday nights. This was in broad daylight. If it was London there would be van loads of polis armed to the teeth surrounding the Green within minutes. In Glasgow it’s just par for the course, apparently!

We went along to Parnie Street because I was looking for a fitment for my Benbo tripod. Unfortunately the didn’t have it. The nearest they had was more than double the price. I could get it from Amazon, but I’d have preferred to have bought it from a small independent shop. Never mind, they said they might have it in two or three weeks. I might wait that long. We walked back through The Green, the fencers were still there and there were still no police marksmen hidden in the bushes with laser sights drawing red dots on the fencers’ heads. Nobody shouting “Throw down your weapons and lie on the ground!”

After lunch I gathered together a collection of ‘small electrical and electronic’ gadgetry that was destined for the council skip. For once there was no queue to get in and I was waved through after showing my proof of ID to show that I was a bona fide Cumbersheugh resident. Junk dumped, I headed for Fannyside Moor where I was aiming to get some photos with the Sony camera and a fifteen year old Sigma lens. The test went well and you can see the result on Flickr. It nearly made PoD, but was just pipped by the fencers. Love that stance!

Scamp and I hung up more of her ball lights on the rowan tree in the back garden. They really do brighten up the garden with such a cheery light.

That was about it for today. No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks good again so we might go out for another walk, this time in NL.

Windy and wet – 1 November 2020

Today started out reasonable and ended with rain. Along the way there were also some gales. Just a typical Scottish winter day.

Scamp offered to drive us to The Fort. I was looking for another sketch book after having worn the last one out with Inktober sketches. She wanted to look for some fruit in M&S. We were both disappointed. The queue for the art shop was too long and too slow. M&S had no queue to get in, but the queue for the food section was just as long as mine was. We did some shopping and then drove home through showers that got heavier and heavier. I had hoped to get out for a walk in St Mo’s, but it wasn’t to be. Just like the past few days, the rain became incessant and it’s still raining as I write this.

I took a few photos of the Lady Emma Hamilton rose in a short spell of sunshine this morning and later I took another few of some Habaneros on the window sill. I decided that you’d probably seen enough photos of the rose, so the Habs got PoD.

Spoke to JIC and discussed Lockdowns, antibodies, chillies and banana plants. A wide ranging conversation, as it usually is with both JIC and Hazy. By the way, Hazy, I’m enjoying the strangely named “To Be Taught …”. Taking my time with it and eking out the last chapter.

That was the long and short of a dull day. No plans for tomorrow although Scamp is hoping to meet her sister in the morning. That gives me an hour or so to relax and maybe do something with that back room again.

The dream is gone – 5 October 2020

If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Today I took back the Sony A7. It was so nearly perfect, except I have the feeling it might have been bashed about by a few people before it met me. Scratches on the baseplate. A deep scratch on the border of the back screen. I could have lived with those. There was nothing there that my own collection doesn’t have in some fashion, but it also had lots and lots, I mean LOTS of baked-in spots on the sensor that I couldn’t shift with sensor swabs and sensor cleaning liquid, that was the final straw. I couldn’t live with that. It’s only a bargain if it’s worth more than you paid for it. This one wasn’t. So with a heavy heart I took it back to JL today and got my money back. However, before I took it back I did find out what that APS-C switch did. It worked. It automatically cropped off the bits the lens couldn’t cover. Nice work Sony.

After driving back home on a beautiful day and having lunch, I did my Sudoku and eventually dragged myself off to St Mo’s to take some pictures with my ‘old’ cameras. The ones with the clean(ish) sensors and fewer scratches. There wasn’t much worth photographing today, because the clouds had rolled in and the light was decidedly dull. I watched Mr Grey stalking something deep in the reed beds, but he was too far away even for the zoom of the TZ90. I did grab a few shots using the post focus trick, but again, the light wasn’t directional enough to make anything worthwhile of them, but it’s still a clever trick.

Spent a profitable half an hour after dinner sketching tonight’s Inktober topic which was ‘Blade’. Mine is a fairly direct interpretation of the prompt, but the clever ones were Blade(runner) and Blade, the Wesley Snipes character. They probably took hours to get just right. Mine was the rough for a more detailed piece, but as it was progressing it got better and better and I just liked it. So did Scamp. She gave me the greatest praise by saying she was wondering who had drawn it!

PoD was a mediocre St Mo’s landscape. I should have taken some time out this morning in Glasgow and gone for a walk, but my heart just wasn’t in it.

I hope some of you recognised the title of this blog which is the second last line from “Comfortably Numb” by Gilmour & Waters. Possibly the best Pink Floyd track ever.

No plans for tomorrow.

Another beautiful day – 29 September 2020

A day to go walking in the sunshine

But first there was the little matter of a bookcase to help tidy up my sketch books. We drove up to B&M and bagged the last grey bookcase on the rack for the princely sum of £18. I could have paid an extra £2 to get a veneered one, but the grey one was cheaper and nobody cares what it looks like, as long as it holds the books … more of which later.

Dropped off the bookcase and gathered a camera then off we went to Rouken Glen in the posh end of Glasgow. I can never remember which turnoff from the M77 takes us there and as a result I always come off too early and then have to navigate through the streets to find it again. This time the sat nav took me and I did what it told me and it worked. The last time we were there was in mid-March, just before things got crazy. Then the car park was empty. Today we were fighting for a space. We walked the park, from the north end all the way to the south gate and then down and round the boating pond.
What was it with boating on ponds in Glasgow in the past? Some stretches of water were for rowing boats like Rouken Glen and Hogganfield Loch and some were for model boats like Alexandra Park. Was it something to do with all the ship building going on along the banks of the Clyde?
Workies were cutting and trimming trees beside part of the pond so we had to take a diversion that brought us to the waterfall with its collection of padlocks locked onto the railings of the bridge carrying the path over the burn. We walked over and then out onto the rough area where the paths are just that, paths that have been trodden by hundreds, if not thousands of feet over the years. We followed our noses and finally came back to marked paths that took us back to the car park. A decent 7,000 odd steps to add to our total for the day. The tea shop in the Boathouse looked a bit busy and the service in the garden centre was hit and a miss last time, so we just came home and had a home lunch.

Spent the rest of the afternoon assembling the bookcase and filling it with sketchbooks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite big enough to accommodate the A4 sketchbooks I’ve been using lately, so I may adapt it a bit to fit them or I may leave it as it is and store them on their long edges with the spines at the top. They are taking up the same amount of room as they would if they were stored like normal books. Too hard to explain in words. I’ll maybe take a photo tomorrow and save the thousand words for my stories.

Scamp made pancakes for dessert tonight with syrup and ice cream. Maple syrup for me! Delicious!!

Tomorrow looks wet. We may go out walking in the rain or we may go for lunch.

The man from Malta – 27 September 2020

Continuing on our theme of daily walks, today’s destination was Glasgow Green.

Scamp drove us down to Glasgow Green in the Red Micra. We parked in our usual place and after inspecting the chestnut trees to see if there were any chessies although you may know them as ‘conkers’, we continued past the now closed People’s Palace. No people allowed in today. Walked the length of the path, past the folk practising hurling. I thought it might have been shinty, but I just checked and the sticks are definitely the spoon shape of a ’Hurley’ rather than the murderous ’Caman’ of shinty. There, I’m sure you’re as glad as I am that we’ve got that sorted out.

Walked back by the side or the river observing the ‘Keep Left’ signs that ensure social distancing. Stood for a while on the suspension bridge, watching the rowers on the river looking very efficient and freezing. It was only 0.5º this morning when I got up and the temperature hadn’t risen much when we were out walking on The Green. No ice floes on the river though, so it can’t be winter yet. Because it was such a lovely morning we continued on and crossed the river to Richmond Park. It’s really in a sorry state these days. I’m sure the council will blame Covid and problems with maintaining a workforce in these days, but the neglect here is more than the six months we’ve been under the cloud of the virus. This is an out of the way park, half of which has been sold off to developers and the other half left to wrack and ruin, and don’t get me started on the demise of the Wintergarden of the People’s Palace.

However, there was life here. There were boats in the boating pond. Not rowing boats, but radio controlled model boats and it was here we met the man from Malta. We were sitting watching these detailed models sailing up and down controlled by their makers when this bloke came up and started telling us how he originally came from Malta, but moved to Glasgow when he was six. He told us how he’d seen the pond when he was coming home from school and thought it was the sea and how his dad gave him a severe telling off for being late home. He now has six or seven boats that he sails on the pond at weekends. He left saying that it was a great hobby and if I wanted to take it up I should join the club. I think I have enough roads for my money to go these days without building model boats. We walked round the rest of the park before retracing our steps to the car. Gone are the days for a roll ’n’ sausage and a cup of coffee for me or two slice of toast and tea for Scamp in the Wintergarden.

Back home, Scamp finished picking the remaining apples from the trees and we emptied the last ‘tattie bag’. We got lots of apples, but just enough tatties for tonight’s dinner. We also lifted one of the leeks and cut some kale for soup. I even lifted one of my carrots which also made it into the soup. I managed to burn today’s stew, but also managed to salvage enough for my dinner along with the potatoes we’d lifted.

PoD went to the boatbuilders at Richmond Park. The man from Malta is slightly right of centre with his back to the camera. I liked his story and the fact he took time to speak to us.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to have coffee and a gab with Val.

Foodies again – 24 September 2020

Second day of eating out this week.

Eating out in Glasgow this time. Two Fat Ladies in Blythswood Street. Quite compact and bijou. Specialises in seafood which isn’t too good for me, but usually there’s a meat dish or a chicken dish. Not so today. Scamp’s selection from the menu was: Mussels, followed by Channa Dal with a Vegetable Masala, finishing off with Sticky Toffee Pudding and Custard. I had Mushroom Rarebit, then the same Channa Dal with a Vegetable Masala and decided to learn from yesterday and just have a Cappuccino. I shouldn’t say ‘just a Cappuccino’, this must have been the best Cap’ I’ve ever had! Nero and Costa, you have a lot to learn from Two Fat Ladies as far as coffee is concerned. The menu today restricted me a bit. Of the three mains on offer, the only one I could have was the dal. Not that I’m regretting it, because this was up to Delia’s standard, well not quite, but almost. I must say that Neil’s mum makes the best Channa Dal I’ve ever eaten. This one was hotter than her’s and almost as tasty. Although I said the restaurant was ‘compact and bijou’, you really want to see the size of the kitchen. I passed it on the way to the ‘little boys room’. It wasn’t so much a kitchen as a galley from a small boat, like a rowing boat. The poor guy who works there must be skinny as a rake to fit in!

After lunch we wandered down SausageRoll Street and drove home via Calders Garden Centre to get some Geum plants to keep Scamp’s Allium bulbs company. We bought the bulbs in Kirkby Stephen last week and she planted them during the week.

I’d had a look at a discounted camera in JL and thought it might be interesting. It’s a Sony A7 at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately the prices of the lenses it takes are not at all reasonable. Most of them are the same price as the camera, which makes me wonder what quality the piece of glass in the front of the camera is. I think I’ll leave that one to someone less critical than me.

PoD is a shot looking up at the Premier Inn on SausageRoll Street. It looks like it’s getting its second refurb in as many years.

I think we’ve done our fair bit of eating out for this week. Tomorrow may be a stay at home dinner.

Pizza! – 10 September 2020

Today we were heading for Glasgow.

A bit of window shopping in JL but nothing even barely whetted my appetite, so we went for a walk down Bucky Street and then I suggested we see if we could get a table in Paesano. We got there just after it opened, so we could get a table. We had our details taken and our temperature checked and were deemed fit and healthy enough to eat a pizza. We had our favourites. Scamp had her own design No1: (Tomato sugo, oregano, olive oil, no garlic, no cheese, extra rocket.)
I had a No 3: (Tomato sugo, capers, olives, anchovies, mozzarella and olive oil)
They arrive about three minutes after we ordered them. Even after we had finished and paid and were on our way out, the place wasn’t nearly as busy as it used to be. Surely this new-normal can’t stay this way. Things must change.

I had a wander round CassArt and got the Posca white acrylic paint brush I was looking for, a sketchbook of kraft paper and a white marker. Rather a frugal amount. I was being careful. Just a few things I can’t get anywhere else.

Had a coffee in Nero but it felt watery and tasteless, partly because it was filling the entire cardboard cup which must have been a ‘large’ size and the server probably thought that a ‘regular’ in that big cup looked a bit mean. Next time I’ll ask for a ‘regular’ size in a half cup. Maybe I’m spoilt now by my own version of coffee from the De’Longhi, but before Covid, Nero made good coffee. This stuff tasted like Costa. Not impressed.

Grabbed a couple of street shots outside the GOMA in Queen Street, but wasn’t all that impressed with the result. Also tried to get some reflections from the frontage of the new Queen Street Station, but there was too much rubbish lying around, destroying the effect. Once it get’s cleaned up, possibly by the end of the century it might be possible to get better shots. As it was, a digitally altered shot of the GOMA got PoD.

Had the second batch of our potatoes for dinner tonight. Mine with bacon and mixed beans, Scamp chose not to have the bacon and stuck to Potatoes and Beans. Both were very nice, but then again, these were Artisan Potatoes!

That’s about it for today. Tomorrow there is rain forecast and lots of it too. Lovely!