Now that’s much more like it – 14 October 2018

A much better day today. For once we thought the weather was trying to please, not punish.

Woke to milky white skies, but as the day progressed, so did the quality of the weather. By midday there were definite signs of blue skies and sunshine. Now that is more like the thing. I made the most of it by taking some shots of the light shining through the sweet pea leaves and also grabbed a shot of a hover fly on one of Scamp’s yellow flowers. I don’t know the name of the flower (or the hover fly), but I liked the shot. Immediately afterwards, Scamp decided it was time to strip out the sweet peas, so I was hoping that I’d got those shots cleanly. There would be no going back for more.

After lunch I decided that I wasn’t going to sit around all day and got my boots on and went for a walk along the canal and across the plantation to the old railway. I’d intended walking back along the side of the Garrell Burn, but with all the rain we’d had in the last week, the path was flooded in a few places, so I satisfied myself with taking a few ‘selfies’ using the Samyang. You’ll have to go to Flickr to find the evidence. Just click on the Picture of the Day at the top of the page to be redirected. With the road blocked, I walked back along the same path I’d taken to get there, and back along the canal. That’s where PoD came from. This was taken with my new iPhone app, Procamera. The amazing thing about it is the ability to save images as RAW files, meaning that post-processing is possible in Lightroom. That explains the superb photographic quality of the shot. Sorry JIC, a little bit of technospeak slipped in there.

Came home and decided that Scamp’s Chicken Broth tasted so good that I’d rather have that than go dancing in Glasgow. Anyway, although Scamp claims that her ankle is ok, we both know that she lies through gritted teeth where dancing is concerned. We backed out and stayed at home, rather than go to Mango. Chicken broth for dinner followed by chicken omelettes. Just lovely.

I’m really pleased with today’s Inktober sketch. I did something similar last year, or maybe it was in February this year, anyway, it’s a bit of a drawing within a drawing if you see what I mean.

That was about it for a lovely day and while watching Countryfile (without the despicable ‘Tom’ or John Craven) we saw the long range weather forecast for the week and the temperature is to drop tonight, but there will be much less rain and wind which is a blessing.

Tomorrow is Gems, so I may go for a swim or failing that, a run on Dewdrop.

Dragonflies, Porridge and Lentil Soup – 21 September 2018

Although not in that order.

Scamp was feeling a little under the weather this morning so I let her sleep on and got up and made some porridge for me. It’s a long while since I’ve had this Scottish breakfast. You can tell it’s the Scottish version if it comes unsweetened or even with added salt. Only sassenachs have honey / sugar / syrup on their porridge. Me? I take it as it comes. No salt and certainly nothing of a sugary nature. I make mine with oats, and milk. Boiled in the microwave for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. I find it funny, the looks I get, when we go on cruises and I add salt to my porridge. That look of horror from the english who don’t know any better 😉
After an hour or so, I took up her light breakfast. No porridge of any kind for Scamp. I was pleased to see her looking a lot better than yesterday.

We had an easy morning and after lunch Scamp instructed me in the noble art of making Lentil Soup. I’ve made soup before, in fact I’d half intended to make Tomato Soup for tonight’s dinner, but I’ve never attempted soup using the time honoured “a handful of this and a pinch of that and just about this amount of water”. It’s what my mum used in her cooking and what Scamp’s mum used too. I’m more a ‘time and temperature’ person, working to millilitres and grams where possible. Anyway, the soup turned out too thin, so I had to add “Just about a handful more lentils.” Then it was fine. I also made some bread using grams and millilitres, and felt so much more in control.

With the soup thickening and the bread proving, I walked over to St Mo’s to get some photos in the afternoon sunshine, because today we had sunshine almost all day. A bit of a breeze, but nothing like the gales we had midweek. PoD was the black dragonfly resting on the boardwalk over the mashes at St Mo’s. I used my usual method of taking a shot, moving closer, taking a shot, moving closer etc. Except, my final shots were taken at almost 1:1 and the dragonfly hadn’t even twitched. Maybe it was exhausted or maybe it was doing what dragons seem to do, sizing me up.

Came home and had soup and bread for dinner with a recovering Scamp. She does do a good lesson on soup making.

Tomorrow if the weather fairies are correct, should be a decent day, so we may go out for a run in a shiny clean Juke. Where, is open to suggestions!

Jukin’ with a Boy Racer Micra – 20 September 2018

This morning the Juke went for its first service and I swapped it for a shiny black and orange Micra, just for the day.

First thought on the Micra was that it was a lot bigger and lower than Scamp’s little red car. Then I slid into the driving seat and felt that my bum might just scrape along the tarmac and I wondered if I’d be able to get back out of it again without the use of a hoist. The clutch pedal seemed to have a rather long travel, either that or my legs had shrunk. Engine sounded healthy and there seemed to be a lot of horses under the bonnet. It was, like all things good in parts. One of the good bits, apart from the horses under the bonnet was the display on the dash. Very clear and with loads of information. Analog speedo and rev counter with incongruously a digital speedo between the two dials. What? So I can compare and contrast the differences in displayed speed as I run into the bus in front of me? Outside temperature, time, fuel economy. Maybe a bit of information overload. It drove well and like Scamp said “It was a car.” It was good to have the experience of the loan. It made me happy that I’d chosen the Juke over the Micra. I couldn’t see Scamp driving it with any less reluctance than she has for the Juke. Visibility in the car is certainly not as good as ‘Big Red’ The door pillar creates a large blind spot just where the mirror already has a blind spot and that’s not a great selling point. When we went for a spin this afternoon, we were agreed we didn’t like it all that much. A bit too plasticky. The Juke may be big and heavy, but it gives the feeling of solidity. I was glad when the garage phoned to tell us the car was ready.

After our trip to Stirling to pick up the very shiny Juke we drove home. Scamp wasn’t feeling too good, so she plunked herself down with a cup of ‘white tea’ and I went out for a walk in St Mo’s which is where I got today’s PoD. It’s an amalgam of two photos. One of the face of the fly and one of the hairy wee legs. Both shots blended in Photoshop. With an ISO of 3600 it was going to be a ‘noisy’ photo without too much in the way of smooth tones, but it was that kind of day. A day that started out with bright sunshine but by 4pm it was feeling more like twilight.

Between picking up the Micra and going for a spin I’d been to the physio who was pleased with the results on my knee and after a bit of laser treatment and some pin cushion tricks I was sent on my way with the possibility of being signed off in two weeks.

I did dinner tonight and with Scamp’s help it was pan fried chicken breast with baked potato. I was careful to stick to her tried and tested method and of course it worked. Why wouldn’t it.

The above is a wee watercolour I did from a photo I saw on Flickr.  After it was done I wasn’t happy with it, so I added some pen outlines once the paint had dried and I think it improves it greatly.
Details are W&N watercolours on Bockingford 300gsm Rough paper.

Don’t know what we’re up to tomorrow. I don’t expect we’ll be going far unless Scamp’s cold improves. Let’s hope it does.

Ladybirds, Spiders and Mini Trees – 31 August 2018

All in a days walk for me.

Scamp was out with the witches today for lunch, a late lunch where drink would be taken. Gentlemen were not invited, they were the taxi drivers. We know our place.

I painted for a while in the peace and quiet of the house and sort of improved yesterday’s Inktense disaster. It’s still a work in progress, but the acrylic paint does give a depth that the Inktense couldn’t quite achieve. I added another layer to it tonight after the initial layers had dried and liked the contrast that was created. You may never see it, it’s really a development sketch if I was going to be po faced about it. I’m sure there will be other iterations before it is ready for canvas and oils.

There are really disruptive roadworks with four phase traffic lights down at St Mo’s school this week and they are causing a lot of bother. Because of that I delivered Scamp to the restaurant before starting on the painting. While the painting was drying, I took the Duke out through the roadworks again to fill it with petrol and also to get some photos. I drove up to the back of Fannyside and found a little dragonfly sitting on the grass. Unfortunately the shots weren’t too sharp, so they will never see the light of day, I fear. Then I saw a long legged spider and a white spotted, orange ladybird having a .Mexican standoff’. It was a bit of a toss up, but the ladybird won the day. Just across the road I saw the fencepost with the miniature trees growing out of it. No doubt they had grown from seeds dropped by birds or seeds excreted by birds.

I was just walking down the road when I checked my phone and found that my three hours of peace and quiet were at an end and Scamp was requesting her taxi.

That was a good day, with good weather, painting, photography and a little bit of nature too.

Brambling – 28 August 2018

Couldn’t decide what to do today, so did nothing for a while.

Tried to install the Nissan Connect app on my phone. To get it to work you have to fill in a lengthy form online, then you are asked to log in. The log in failed because apparently I used the wrong password ( I hadn’t). Then the whole webpage froze. Restarted and tried the application form again. Surprisingly it allowed me to go through the whole procedure without an error. This made me think it hadn’t recorded my data the last time. This time, a different page appeared and a confirmation email appeared in my inbox. Successfully logged in the second time, but couldn’t get the app to connect to the car. According to the FAQ on the Nissan Connect site, the iPhone doesn’t have the full Bluetooth app, which is surprising as it connects perfectly with the car to play music. Gave up at this point. Life’s too short for such badly written software. Shame, because after a year I’m getting to like the car.

In the afternoon I took the Dewdrop out to get some more brambles. Lots of flies about, one of which made PoD. Sun was hiding most of the day, but it was quite warm enough for shorts, however I was careful when picking the brambles to avoid more scratches to my already scarred legs. Apparently if I had seen the sun, it would have been surrounded by a red glow, caused by smoke being blown across the Atlantic from Canada!! So say the weather fairies anyway. Just over 1kg of brambles today. I think that should keep Scamp going until next year DV. I thought it would take ages to get the purple stains out of my hands when I got home, but Swarfega got the stains out pronto. The only problem was it also took all the moisture out of my skin too.

Out fairly early tomorrow for an 11.30 start at the dance class. May take the Dewdrop out again afterwards, because I think the SPDs are beginning to settle in.

Coming Down – 27 August 2018

Returning to normal today. No security checks, no check-in required, but it was raining.

Warning, this paragraph may contain Technospeak
Scamp went to buy Tesco, or at least that’s how it seemed, considering the weight of the shopping bags I carried in. While she was there, I posted the backlog of photos on Flickr. One of the great things about Lightroom is that you can export three or four days of photos as a catalog from one computer and import them into another. Not only are the photos imported, but any adjustments you’ve made to them are imported too. Another feature of Lightroom is the ability to geotag photos using the ‘Maps’ panel. You just drag and drop the photos on to the map and Lightroom automatically adds the location info to the files. That’s a feature I hadn’t used until today.
Technospeak all gone!

My contribution to the day was watering the slug nematodes into all the exposed earth I could find. I’m sure one wee woman thought I was completely aff ma’ heid when she saw me watering the flower pots just after the rain had stopped. It would have taken too long to explain to her that I was watering in microscopic worms that would kill the slugs and eat their eggs and that the best time to do it was after rain. It would have taken too long and it wouldn’t have changed her opinion. The coarse rose I bought ’Dahn Sarf’, as Ray would say, was a bit better than the normal medium rose, but still not really coarse enough. However it did the job and that’s it done for this year. We’ll see if those microscopic assassins have done their work next year DV.

Since we were going to salsa later than usual, I had enough time left to go over to St Mo’s and capture a pretty red dragonfly, but you’ll have to look on Flickr for that, because I decided that PoD should be a landscape view of the park. Just a little gentle adjustment to brighten it up a bit because, although the rain had stopped, it was a bit dull today.

Salsa tonight was a one hour class with a silly wee Rueda move a bit like the despicable Enroscate  and a reprise of various moves we’d been doing over the last four or five weeks. Knee survived, but it was giving me gyp all through the class. Maybe have to go see David on Wednesday, Tuesday being his day off, as Scamp reminded me tonight.

Tomorrow looks dry, so I may take the Dewdrop out for a run.

Brambles and Beasties – 19 August 2018

Fighting through the latter to get to the former.

After another lazy start to the day that had seen some torrential rain during the night, predicted by JIC last night, I eventually broke surface just before lunchtime. After some scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, we drove down the Mollins Road and parked on a wee side road into some factories. We walked across Mollins Road and then split up, Scamp going right and me going left. Between us we fought through the thorny bramble bushes and the flying insects to get just over 1kg of the lovely black fruit. Most will be put straight into the freezer to be made into Bramble Jam at some later date. It took us just about an hour to harvest the fruit. An hour well spent.

Later in the afternoon we drove to Robroyston to have a coffee. While we were there we counted the number of outlets in the retail park that were either closed or in danger of closing. Out of the six units, two are already closed and one is marked for closure. Of the three surviving units, one is a gym and the other two are bargain basement shops. Not a good sign is it?

Back home it was Sea Bass with New Potatoes from the garden and Courgette Spaghetti from one of JIC’s courgettes, Scamp being today’s chef.

Today’s PoD is a devilish looking red eyed fly on a bunch of brambles. I didn’t pick that bramble, I left it for the fly!

Tomorrow I’m up early to take Shona to the hospital in Glasgow. Fighting my way through the going-to-work traffic. Oh what fun.

An Inspector Calls – 17 August 2018

Any day that starts with a phone call from the polis is going to be a downer.

Luckily this call was just to check that I still had the dash cam footage of the wee bump last Sunday and to check that he could pick it up next week.

After that, and after almost finishing my latest Stuart MacBride book. Just a few pages left now to take time over. Good Scottish humour. Anyway, after that Scamp suggested we drive out to Morrison’s in Falkirk to get ’the messages’ and also maybe have lunch there. It was a sound suggestion and as she was driving, how could I resist.

After loading up the car and heading home we stopped at Halfords to get a dash cam for her car too. After much cajoling she had agreed to have one. We pointed the sales assistant at the one we wanted, a 312GW and off he went to find it. We also wanted it fitted, so we booked a time slot for Monday at 1pm. Then the assistant dived away and came back with about six boxes and started scanning them through. I told him I didn’t think we’d need the nice wee fitted case and asked what all the other things were. He told us they were part of the deal.

  • A case for the camera. (Why? To take it on its holidays perhaps?)
  • Another case with another SD card????
  • A pola filter to remove glare from the dashboard. Something we didn’t need.
  • The camera itself
  • An SD card. Ok, we needed that.

Scamp stopped him in his tracks with HOW MUCH DOES THAT COME TO? The answer was these were part of ‘The Deal’ for £99. We said no thanks, just the camera, the SD card and the fitting kit. How much do they get paid in Halfords for ‘suggesting’ these deals? Anyway we got the necessary stuff and were just leaving when he said “So that’ll be 12 o’clock on Monday”. Hadn’t he said 1 o’clock? Yes, I confirmed, it was 1pm he’d said. Now it was a one hour time slot starting at 12 o’clock. We’ll stick to that. I had great confidence in the fitting the last time when mine was installed. I hope it’s the same bloke who fits Scamp’s, rather than one who can’t tell the time, but knows how to hike the price of a dash cam. Back home and I did a quick fix to get the camera checked, installed and working until it gets plumbed in on Monday some time around midday. It was Monday, wasn’t it?

Grabbed about an hour in St Mo’s to get some beastie pictures as Scamp calls them. PoD was a hover fly holding on to a yellow flower in a stiffening breeze.

Out to Crawford and Nancy’s for dinner tonight with June and Ian. Great time and great food. Just a late night.

Tomorrow? Lunch is booked at the Cotton House. Chinese food for a change.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the party to begin – 10 August 2018

JIC, Sim and Steffi were coming today. It’s a long drive for them and a long wait for us.

After a morning spend tidying up, Dysoning, dusting and generally making the place spick and span, we headed out in the rain to Kirkintilloch for lunch at Calders garden centre. Lunch was fine, better than a lot of places we’ve been to recently and afterwards we had a walk round the plants while the rain thumped down on the roof of the covered area. We also ventured out in the rain to rove further into the plant area. I was impressed with the way the place was set out, with very few single species arrays beside other single species arrays. Instead, most of the displays were of mixed plants, different colours, different textures and varying heights. Now that’s a refreshingly different way to show off plants. Not so good if you’re searching for a specific plant, but if you want to see what plants complement others, it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, we weren’t looking for plants today. I was looking for a new coarse rose for the watering can, specifically one that could be used to water in the nematodes I’d received in the post this morning. We found lots of ornaments, cards, books, scarves, mottos and pictures, none of which I would have in the house and none of which would be at all good for watering in the nematodes. That’s the big problem with garden centres. The outdoor part may have plenty of plants, but the indoor section is jammed full of tat!

Came home in sunshine, roseless. Then Scamp offered an old watering can with a fairly coarse plastic rose. I decided it might just do and if it didn’t, I could drill out a few of the holes with the power drill. I was right for once. It was almost coarse enough, but after drilling out most of the holes with a power drill, it was fine for the job. Or should that be coarse for the job? With the nematodes now burrowing deep into the soil to find some tasty vine weevil grubs, my work was done for the day.

After a cup of tea I grabbed my camera and went in search of some photos in St Mo’s. Found Mr Grey close enough to photograph, some ‘beasties’ and also some Rudbeckia flowering in the wild garden that volunteers planted a couple of years ago. The Rudbeckia won PoD, just like it did last year!!

Finally at about 7pm the visitors arrived and we spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking and talking. Just really catching up. Scamp spent a short time showing off our garden front and back and we admired the veg that JIC and Sim had brought with them.

Tomorrow they go to Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument and we may go to Embra.

Seized! – 3 August 2018

Right is right except when it’s wrong.

The Right in question is the right side pedal on my Dewdrop. The saying ‘Right is Right’ means the the right side pedal has a right handed thread and is always tightened to the right, i.e. clockwise. The left pedal has a left handed thread and is tightened anti-clockwise. So, to slacken or remove a left pedal you turn it to the right. That’s what I did tonight and after a couple of judicious taps with a hammer on the spanner, it slackened nicely. The right pedal was the problem, and continues to be the problem. Nothing I did would convince the pedal to slacken. It’s seized solid. I tapped the spanner lightly, heavily, I swore at it mildly, then loudly. I heated1 up the crank with a blowtorch. I soaked it in WD40 and still it wouldn’t move. In fact it has now distorted the spanner so I’m leaving it soaking and sulking in WD40 until tomorrow when hostilities will recommence, once I get a new spanner. Oh yes, and before you ask JIC, I was trying to turn it the correct way, anti-clockwise!

From the above you will have gathered that I got a pair of cycling shoes and a pair of Shimano SPD pedals in, and I hate to say this, Decathlon today. Prices were as good as anywhere else and I got to try on the shoes which is one big benefit of going to an actual rather than a virtual shop. We also went to IKEA to buy some new cutlery … and a pillow for Scamp and a toilet brush and an egg slicer. Quite a random selection. I think we did really well to come home with so little! We tried to go for coffee afterwards, but the sat nav got lost. It told us to turn left at a junction that would have taken us into a Holiday Inn, then switched off. Perhaps it thought we needed the holiday.

Went out before dinner, which was the rest of yesterday’s Aloo Saag, to get some photos in St Mo’s. I took a couple of landscapes to play with in ON1 but the main subject today was ‘beasties’ as Scamp calls them or insects as the rest of us see them. Mainly wasps and hover flies today. Lots of both around hover flies won, as you can see from PoD.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. Glasgow will be jumping with these European Championships on, so we’ll probably point ourselves in a different direction, but where is anyone’s guess!


  1. Cranks are usually an aluminium alloy and aluminium expands more with heat than the steel of the pedal axle this should break the seal that has been formed between the two without melting the aluminium ;-)