Rain, wind and the Craigmarloch Stormie – 31 October 2020

Today was wild. High winds, rain and a stormtrooper.

The winds started last night and continued for most of the day. It wasn’t just the winds that were wild, it was the gusts and the way they blew the rain right into the front windows. Double glazing is worth every penny you pay for it, believe me.

This wasn’t a day for going out if you didn’t need to. We did need to. Somebody needed to go out to get our meds from Boots and I volunteered. Drove up to Craigmarloch and did a double take at the roundabout. Was that an Imperial Stormtrooper standing there? You know that thing you get when you get a half second glimpse of something and you’re not sure if you really saw it? That’s how it was for me. I shook my head and continued in to Tesco, well, to Boots which is just next to Tesco. On the way home I checked. Nope, no Stormies to be seen. Aha, but we’ve got dash cams in our cars. I checked the film when I got back and sure enough, there he is (or SHE is) standing waiting at the roundabout. I’ve even got photo evidence.

Back home and after lunch I took a couple of sketch books upstairs and sketched out yesterday’s and then today’s Inktober offerings. The last ones this year. The first one is my take on Ominous. If they insist on giving us vague, vacuous prompts I think it only fit to give them irreverent drawings. Today’s was a bit more serious attempt at a lateral thinking answer to Crawl. I was impressed with the lifework in it. It was drawn straight with a fountain pen I’ve had for years. It’s comfortable to use and it’s drawn so many sketches and doodles, it does them of its own volition now. I liked it, can you tell?

PoD went to the last of the Habanero fruits on the last of the plants. They’ve been over-run with whitefly and greenfly this year and I don’t know how to deal with them. Answers on a postcard please.

That about wraps it up for today. Boris bumbled his way through his lockdown decision for England. If he was half the man he should have been he’d have laid it out plain and simple and told them what his decision was. But he isn’t and he hadn’t and he didn’t. Why? Because he’s Bumbling Boris and he’s out of his depth. Poor man.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for at least some dry hours with just the hint of sun. We may be lucky.

Old Tech meets New Tech – 29 October 2020

It was obvious from early morning that today was going to be wet.

Another of those days when the rain was heavy and continuous. There was no point in going out, far less travelling a distance. We just contented ourselves with staying at home, but were buoyed by the news that Nick the Chick wasn’t going to put us in Level 4 which is almost a total lockdown. It appeared at first that we’d be allowed the right to roam across all the Level 3 regions, i.e. all of Central Scotland. Now it looks like we will be restricted to travel in North Lanarkshire. That wasn’t in the original bill, but that’s what it is now. She, the witch, is also warning that all of Scotland may go back into lockdown. Isn’t she just a bundle of fun?

The furthest I got today was down to the shops for stuff to make tonight’s Thai Fishcakes. I’d intended walking down, but swiftly changed my mind when I met the wall of water falling from the sky. That’s what we buy a car for, to drive to the shops in, instead of getting soaked. So it was down to the shops, get the essentials (and a bottle of wine) and get home.

The Amazon man had been when I was out for that 15 minute jaunt and he’d brought me another adapter. This one takes old M42 (i.e. ancient) lenses and allows them to work on the Sony A7. The lens in question is a Helios 58mm f2 that used to be on the front of a Zenit EM that may or may not have belonged to JIC. If it was yours JIC, I hope you don’t mind me borrowing it. This adapter cost half the price of the Nikon adapter and feels a lot more solid. I used it to take today’s PoD which is the last of Scamp’s Lady Emma Hamilton’s from the back garden. I was amazed at the quality of this camera / lens combination. Old Tech meets New Tech, indeed.

Thanks for the email JIC. The video on the website was just at my level. No big words, lots of easy to understand graphics and nice colours. I approve. Just a pity you didn’t get a mention.

Message for Hazy. The Big Scottish Book Club, has guests including Neil Gaiman who will be discussing The Graveyard Book. (Sunday 1st November 10pm BBC Scotland. Also available on iPlayer) If you can’t get it, let me know and I’ll try to ‘obtain’ a copy.

Today’s prompt for Inktober was Shoes. I decided to rebel and sketch boots instead, my Merrell Moab boots. Like I said on Flickr:

Ok, they’re boots, not shoes, but arguing about that is just splitting hairs. Merrell Moab boots. Really comfortable and as waterproof as blotting paper. Goretex? Don’t make me laugh Merrell.

Tonight it’s getting a bit windy, as was predicted by the weather fairies. However, the wind is supposed to blow away most of the rain over the night, leaving us a clear, dry day tomorrow. Then more wet stuff arrives on Saturday. Hoping to get out somewhere (in North Lanarkshire only ;o) for a wee run.

Christmas Prezzies … already – 28 October 2020

Today we were off to collect some Christmas Prezzies that Scamp had ordered.

I usually complain about the condensing of the year. You know the sort of thing. After the schools go back in August the first Xmas cards start appearing. We’ve hardly got Christmas and New Year out of the way and the Easter Eggs are on the shelves. However, Christmas prezzies in October is just good planning, Scamp says. We found the place, just a normal house in an everyday street where the maker lived. That’s the way things are now. Ideas are seen online. Discussions are done and prices agreed on Messenger. Purchases are made online and items are collected from the maker’s home. I suppose it’s better than using Amazon, and at least we are supporting small businesses, which is a good thing.

With that done we drove up to a retail park in Bishopbriggs. Probably as close as you could get to the diametric opposite of the small business we had just left. I attempted some visual retail therapy in Currys, which was a waste of time because there were so few pieces of tech on the shelves. Another loser to the online market place. The problem with that approach is where to you find someone to advise you on a purchase? Where is there a salesperson you can trust to give you sound advice? The other question you should ask yourself is “Would I buy my item from that salesperson, knowing that I can get a better deal by logging on to Amazon?” It’s the old chicken and egg quandary. Scamp got what she wanted. I got what I deserved. Then we went for coffee in Costa and drove home after using up our allocation of 30 mins.

Soup for lunch, then I went out to St Mo’s to get some photos in the two hour window the weather app said I’d get. The sun almost came out and the Larches shone in the unexpected light. They surprise me every year with their bright yellow needles. I also has that strange vision of snowflakes, walking down the avenue of trees with the yellow needles blowing in the wind and looking just like snow. A branch of a larch with its bright needles still attached and a pinecone too made PoD.

Just before dinner while I was working on the PoD and Scamp was reading, someone knocked on the door. It was the Tesco delivery! We’d completely forgotten about it. Rushed to empty the crates and let the driver get on his way. Dinner was one of Scamp’s specialities, Stir-fry. This was a Chicken Stir-fry with all the fancy veg. Quite delicious.

Sketch of the day was Float. I’d decided about a week ago that today’s drawing centre around a fishing float. It looked a bit dull, just a view of a fishing float from below, so I searched for sort of cartoon drawings of fish and adapted one of them to add to the sketch, then added a few rocks and sand on the bottom of the water. That brightened it up. I’m happy with it.

That was about it for the day. These autumn days are so short now. We really should get up and out early to make the most of them. We watched the first episode of Roadkill. We’re both still undecided about it. We’ve another episode recorded and we may watch it tomorrow. Tomorrow however we are booked for a full day of wind and rain, which seems to happen about every second day just now.

A stinker of a day – 27 October 2020

Not the best, but probably nearly the wettest of days.

It was dry in the morning, but not for long. Every time it teased us with the possibility that it was drying up, it started as soon as it heard the key turn in the lock. By the time we were outside, it was on full again. No respite all day.

Scamp was out with Annette whose turn it was to wait for her car to pass MOT today. I moped around the house deciding, will I, won’t I go out and get wet? Eventually I settled for NO, I won’t. I tried to get today’s sketch out of my head, but that didn’t materialise until much later. I tried reading a book that John had given me but gave up. I’m almost halfway through it, but I just can’t follow, or be bothered to follow, the plots. Too many words and too little going on. Thankfully Hazy agreed with me when she phoned later in the day. Life’s too short to waste it on poorly written books.

Finally gave in and took Blue out to Muirhead to get some carnivore food at the butchers. Hoped I’d see something worth photographing on what’s usually the scenic route home. Today everything was grey and wet and boring, so I didn’t even stop to say hello to the horses in the field. They looked as fed up as I felt. However, at least I’d done something constructive.

The next constructive thing to do was make some soup. Using Scamp’s (and my mum’s) method of a handful of this and a pinch of that, but with slightly more veg that I intended, the soup was simmering away quietly when Scamp arrived home. At least she’d had a decent day and kept Annette company while her car was undergoing its examination. It passed, but it’s a Juke and only about four years old, not like Scamp’s red OAP.

Spoke to Hazy about this and that. Heard her good news. New cars are always good news. Got a recommendation for a new book and warned her off my half finished effort.

In between rain showers I managed to grab today’s PoD which turned out to be two nasturtiums growing in a pot at the back door. They’ve flowered all summer long and are now flowering into autumn. No variation in colour. They’ve all been yellow, but at least they bring a bit of colour to dull days like today.

Finally settled on a sketch for today’s prompt, Music. It’s my old MiniDisk recorder/player. Brilliant machine that’s about 25 years old now and still works a treat. The disks hardly ever jump and the music sounds as clear today as when it was recorded. I’m sure you remember a certain choral concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Hazy!

That was about it for the day. The soup was good, thick, but good. It will probably be better with some water to thin it down. As far as tomorrow goes, hopefully it won’t feel the need for more water. I think it had enough today. We’re hoping to go for a drive tomorrow.

MOT – 26 October 2020

The red car lives to fight another day!

Out at 8am to take the Red Micro to the garage for MOT. Since we’d driven down to the garage, and had nothing else planned for the rest of the day, we went for a walk, since it was such a clear, dry morning. We walked down and round the stadium, then back home for breakfast. Like Scamp said while we were out, we should do this more often. Lie in bed reading on the cold, wet mornings, but on decent days we should be out and enjoying what little sunshine we get now that the days are shorter. It’s a plan. Whether it turns into action is still to be seen.

After breakfast we did sit around for a while and basically ‘footered’ for what was left of the morning. Just after lunch we got a call from the garage to say that the car had failed MOT because of a broken coil spring on the driver’s side. I’d guessed that might be the case, because I’d noticed during the week that it seemed to be listing a bit to that side, and said as much to JIC yesterday. Not too expensive to fix and they had one in stock, so it would be done today. With that dealt with we went for a walk around St Mo’s with a bit of a spring in our steps. Because the light was good and also because the car would be fixed today, we went round the pond twice! On the way back I grabbed today’s PoD of leaves beside the path to the Adventure Playground. Later in the afternoon we paid our dues and picked up the car. MOT’d, repaired and serviced. Scamp had a smile on her face. We drove home in the dark. First time driving in the dark since about February!!

Sketch topic today was “Hide”. I was tempted to put in a signed blank page to the effect that everyone was hiding, so I couldn’t draw them. Instead I drew a bit of a face peering round an open door. The ‘Hide’ part of Hide ’n’ Seek.

Scamp cut the last of her roses today and they were sitting in a vase on the coffee table. With such good light streaming in the window I couldn’t resist the opportunity. Look on Flickr and you’ll see them.

Tomorrow Scamp is meeting Annette who is coming to Cumbersheugh to get her Juke MOT’d. How is that for synchronicity? I may go for a walk.

Oh Summer’s gone – 25 October 2020

Early in the morning, too early for us to know about it, the clocks silently went back an hour. Summer’s gone and winter’s in the meadow.

Because we’d had an extra hour in sleep, we took the lazy approach to the day. So lazy that we did hardly anything. The furthest we went was a walk down to Broadwood Loch after lunch. We continued down to Blackwood and up past the stadium. Dropped in at the shops for essentials, milk, a bag of mixed veg, a packet of sticky buns, a box of Turkish delight (mine) and a bag of chocolate raisins. Essentials, like I said. By the time we were heading home it seemed to be growing dark and it was feeling a bit cold in the strong west wind, even with my big ‘Bergy’ jacket on.  Connolly was right. “Nights are fair drawing in.”

Spent an hour afterwards playing a brilliant new time waster I’ve found, called Numbers Game. Deceptively simple concept but totally engrossing. Lost a couple of hours already to it. After dragging myself away I worked on PoD which is a view across Broadwood Loch. This isn’t the photo that came out of the camera, it’s the view from my mind’s eye. I know it’s a bit fake, but I like the lighting.

Topic for sketching today was “Buddy”. I’d roughed out a face on portrait of Buddy Holly that looked ok. Today I inked it in and it looked, not quite as good as the rough pencil sketch, but Scamp said it was a decent likeness and that’s good enough for me.

Watched a boring first competitive episode of Strictly. Well, actually I watched half an episode before giving up and posting the photos for today. It really was that riveting.

Spoke to JIC and heard about chlorine in a hot tub and rodent saboteurs. Not both together. The mice weren’t in the hot tub, just in case you were wondering.

Tomorrow Scamp’s car goes for MOT, so it’s an early rise to drive down and either walk back (if it’s dry) or drive back in the more likely event that it’s raining. Then we have to wait for the phone call.

Better than we expected – 24 October 2020

It was raining this morning as predicted by the weather fairies. Then, surprisingly, it brightened up!

I wasn’t feeling at my best this morning. I think I’ve got a cold hanging over me. For that reason I was quite happy to sit and watch the rain on the window with nothing really to go out for. I was also waiting for a parcel to arrive for Scamp, one she didn’t know about and thankfully it did arrive on time. It got the reaction I was hoping for.

After that I sketched out my version of today’s prompt “Dig”. I was quite pleased with the result because it was drawn from my imagination. Not sketched from a Google Images photo.

After lunch it brightened up and the rain stopped, so with some vitamin C in me, Scamp and I went for a walk round St Mo’s, but the tribes were holding a convention there that involved getting bevvied and swearing. They really do drag the area down. I’m pretty sure the polis know about it, but it doesn’t tick any boxes for them, so they aren’t interested. At least until something more serious happens and that does tick a box, then, too late, they’ll react. Might give St Mo’s a wide berth at weekends for a while.
Continued or walk down to the shops and came back with stuff for tonight’s and tomorrow’s dinners. Grabbed a few photos on the way and one of them made PoD. It’s my favourite plant, the Cow Parsley against a bush of brambles.

The highlight of the day was tonight’s Zoom dance with, at it’s height, sixteen, or was it seventeen couples participating. One of Stewart’s great ideas. Dancing in your living room, or sitting watching others dance in their own houses no problem with bumping into others or avoiding the “Thick Couple” who insist on stopping every time one of them makes a mistake and enter into a “That was your fault. No, it was your fault.” discussion. No flamboyant show-offs to dance around. Just two and a half hours of dancing. Absolutely brilliant. Made us feel human again in these surreal times. We’ll ache a bit tomorrow, but it will be worth it.

Tomorrow I think it’ll be more of the same weatherwise. Rain and sun. We may go out for a walk.

One of those mixed days – 23 October 2020

A day that could have been lovely and one that could have been rained off. We took the chance.

Before anything else today I drew yesterday’s sketch which is now on yesterday’s post and I was happy with it. The theme was Chef, so the chef’s hat and knife are part and parcel of his or her trade.

If you just sit there and say “It might clear up”, it never will. We’ve learned that. Take the chance and seize the day. Scamp suggested we should go to Drumpellier and she was driving. It was the right thing to do. We had a walk round the loch. I think it’s big enough to call a loch, not a pond. Lots of people walking round the pond in ones and twos and even in groups of four, but we didn’t stop them to interview them on how many households were involved and was this their region. We leave that to the FM, should she dare to do such a thing. We must have been striding out at a fair pace, because we covered the distance in no time. We did stop a few times to watch the duck, geese and swans, oh yes and I took some photos too! Quite a few. There was nowhere to have a coffee or something to eat, because it’s Coatbridge and they don’t do hospitality. Everywhere was boarded up and barricaded. It’s a virus, not the return of the Visigoths! There was an ice cream van, but with a temperature hovering around 7ºc we passed on that option and Scamp drove us home.

Back home, after inspecting today’s photos and having lunch, I walked down to the shops to get some peas for tonight’s dinner via St Mo’s. Got another couple of decent shots there. Light was that lovely golden hour just before the sun truly sets. One of them almost made PoD, but it was beaten by a gull sitting on a sculpture of a whale’s tail, taken at Drumpellier.

After dinner we did a short ballroom practise ahead of tomorrows Zoom dance. We’re not absolutely certain sure that it’s going ahead, but it’s best to do a bit of practise just in case. We were both a bit rusty on the exact moves that were joined together to make the Waltz, but Scamp was on the button with the ‘ring a ring a roses’ dance she calls Sequence. We finished up with a fair chance of not making complete idiots of ourselves tomorrow, if the dance goes live.

Today’s sketch topic was Rip. I drew a pair of ripped jeans. Everyone has a pair, I think. They are usually the most comfortable pair you’ve ever worn and it’s not that you’re mean and don’t want to spend the money on a new pair. It’s just that it took you so long to get them as comfortable as this. They have character.
Fashionable ripped jeans are a totally different thing. Not worth talking about.

Tomorrow looks like rain. We may stay in at least in the morning.

Out to Brunch – 22 October 2020

Another day to get out and about fairly early.

We were picking up Isobel at 10.15 and then we were all heading off to Calders for either a late breakfast or an early lunch, it was unclear which. I’d been warned beforehand not to order coffee because I’d be disappointed with the quality and the quantity of actual coffee in my cup. The other two had scrambled eggs and a latté each while I went for poached eggs on sourdough bread with a pot of tea. Even the tea was a bit thin and to be even more critical, the eggs were a bit underdone and tepid. Maybe a bit harsh, but I am one half of the Foodie pair. As usual, Isobel regaled us with stories about her family.

We dropped her off and drove home for a cup of real coffee each. Then I went upstairs to check out a bag full of old hard disks that had been torn from ancient computers over the years. Two went in the ‘skip bag’ and two were given a reprieve until I get a chance to download the useful stuff, then they will probably be ‘skipped’ too. In the process I discovered that one of my old removable drives was also destined for the ‘skip bag’. It had had a question mark hanging over it for a while and now it wasn’t booting up, so it is with regret that it goes in the ‘skip bag’ too. However, as Scamp keeps reminding me, that’s what’s wrong with our house. Holding on to too many things that have outlived their usefulness. That’s why I make the breakfast every second day and do my fair share of the cooking too. Otherwise I might find myself in that big blue Ikea bag with the hard disks one of these days.

While I was doing the technology thing, Scamp was shopping for dinner stuff. The dinner turned out to be Trout en Croûte. They looked a bit like sausage rolls, but tasted so much better. They were so good I was almost won over to be a pescatarian!

Before dinner I risked another soaking by going for a walk in St Mo’s. Got a few shots in among the trees. Some nice looking toadstools (not good enough to eat though) and the PoD which is a spider living life in the upside down. Managed to get my feet soaked trying to get the mud off them by paddling in the shallows of the pond. Merrel is not the company it once was. Quality has really gone downhill in the last few years.

I had found some gems in my search of the hard disks. We spent an hour tonight watching a video we’d made in Amsterdam away back in 2007. Half an hour of seeing life in a different world. Crowds of people not obeying the two metre rule and none of them wearing a mask!

You will notice the lack of a sketch today. This is due to a technical problem (I didn’t have time … or inclination.). Hopefully normal service will be resumed tomorrow. I Lied!

On the subject of tomorrow, we have no plans as yet. Apart from two sketches!!

Wet Ones – 21 October 2020

That used to be the name of hand wipes. Now it seems an apt description of the days this week.

The sun was splitting the trees this morning and we took a chance on it staying with us when we drove over to Mugdock Park. It was a bad choice. At least, for the choice of weather it was a bad one. It rained on and off all the way there, but we’d come prepared with raincoats and boots. We needed them. It was just liquid air we were walking through for a while. Down past the old ruined ‘Big House’, then down the hill to the tree lined walk. Crossed the boardwalk over the bog to Mugdock Castle on the banks of Mugdock Loch. We were in and out of the trees all the way, but I did get a few shots through the trees and of the trees themselves. It was a bit dreich, but the colours were beautiful and the company was good. We continued round the loch in the hopes of getting a cup of coffee in one of the wee cafés, but one only had outdoor seating with no available umbrellas. One only had uncomfortable bar stools available and by that time the notion had left us. We changed our footwear and went home. Annoyingly, the closer we got to Cumbersheugh, the better the weather became and when we arrived home, blue sky was showing through the clouds.

After lunch Scamp drove to Halfords to get a rear wiper fitted. I told her I could do it. The biggest problem was taking the old one off and I’d done that at the weekend. Not without a fair bit of wrestling. With the wiper in place we tackled the scrubbing down of Scamp’s car. It needed it. One of our neighbours who was watching the action said “Oh, so it’s a Red car then!” That is its first wash this week. It’s going to need at least one more, probably in a carwash before it goes for MOT next week.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Tikka Masala and I was chef. It was a slightly less than successful curry. I don’t think I’ll be using that recipe again.

Today’s prompt was “Sleep”. Another vague request. Thinking along the lines of “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?”, I asked the question:
“Do insomniac sheep dream of counting humans?”
Answers on a postcard please.

PoD was a grab shot walking through the avenue of trees at Mugdock. I don’t know who the bloke was wearing the red jacket, but thank you sir for providing my focal point. ARPS = A Red Point Somewhere!

Tomorrow we’re booked for breakfast at Calders with Isobel. Let’s hope the rest of the day is not another Wet One!