New Boots and Panties! – 7 June 2019

It was one of those days when I couldn’t settle.  Eventually Scamp talked me down.

What I did do was to solve today’s Fiendish level Sudoku with the new method which I got from YouTube of all places.1 I’m really impressed with this method.

With that out of the way we wandered in to Glasgow to look for a pair of boots for me. Ostensibly to replace both the leaking pairs I have. Probably I’ll keep the Clarks pair which don’t leak quite as badly and ditch the Lafuma ones. They look good, they just leak like a sieve now. Rather than throwing them out, I’ll probably put them in the next Salvation Army bag that arrives. They may not be good for walking through puddles, but they will keep someone’s feet warm in the winter. Tiso was the first, and only stop. I tried on a pair of boots that were the right size and lo and behold, not only were they a fit, they were also a comfortable fit. I’ve been wearing them all night just to make sure they are the ones for me and I’m comfortably sure they are.

Sat down for a while and painted A Stone.  Well, actually it’s a dry stane dyke, but it does contain at least one stone.

Back home via Robroyston for a coffee in Costa and a chance to stock up on messages at Asda. Next stop was Tesco for a bottle of rum – well, it is Friday. Then home, where I decided to wash the car and rinse it off with water from Bobby Flavell’s outside tap. Such a great idea, having an outside tap. So much easier than carrying buckets of water and getting soaked trying to wash off the roof or the Juke. Also allowed me to hose out the depressions where the wipers sit. The hose makes short work of all the fermenting flower heads and general gunge from the trees overhead. Thank you Bobby.

With the car dripping, it was time to go for a walk in St Mo’s to get some photos. Not a lot to see and the light was quite low. Managed a better view of the scary fly from yesterday. Maybe not that exact fly, but certainly one of that genus. Hopefully someone on Flickr will be able to ID it for me. PoD went to the close up shot of the daisies. Both Scamp and I agreed on that.

That was about it for the day. We shared a fish supper tonight and for the second time “Well, it is Friday.” Suffering a bit for it now, but it was delicious at the time.

Tomorrow? I think it’s going to be up fairly early and out.


  1. This is really a marker for me so that some time hence I can remember where I found this time saving tip. 

Is that deer? – 6 June 2019

Yes it is!

Off early to the blood letters this morning to give a tiny little amount of blood to the lab in Monklands. For some reason they wanted some of my pee too. Strange people in Monklands.

Back home for a cup of coffee and a chance to solve today’s medium strength Sudoku. Still sticking to my new method. It may not be faster and it may not do away entirely with the need for full pencil marks, but it makes the solving of the harder puzzles a bit more interesting and after all, that’s part of the reason for doing them.

With that done I tried switching on the new six year old camera and as soon as I half pressed the shutter, I knew that something was wrong. I hate cameras that beep to tell you they have found something to focus on. It’s the first thing I change on a camera – set it to silent. This one beeped. When I checked, everything was back to its out-of-the -box state. Oh dear. Reprogrammed it, removed the battery, counted to ten and replaced it. Sure enough. It’s short term memory was gone! Phoned the company MPB who I’ve never had any complaints with before and the lady there said I could spend it back for a refund or a replacement, except when we both looked on the website, there were no other E-M1s available. After a flood of emails between us in the next few hours, we finally agreed that I would try the camera for another week and if there was no improvement, I’d return it for a refund.

After lunch we went to Muirhead to the butchers to get some venison. I’d already ordered the meat earlier in the week. As she was weighing the meat I asked the woman behind the counter how much it would be. When she told me, she must have thought it was a bit expensive because she asked me “Is that dear?” (Scots for “Is that expensive”). I said “Yes! It is deer.” She just said “Oh!” Two or three minutes later she burst out laughing. The penny had finally dropped. I don’t think she’ll ever forget that conversation.

I took the camera out for a walk when we came back and it worked perfectly. Everything I’d programmed into it were retained. Hopefully it will stay that way now. There wasn’t much worth photographing in St Mo’s and PoD went to the little scary looking fly.

I didn’t manage a decent sketch of something “Shiny and Metallic”, so as a replacement, I give you a shot of a little prezzy Scamp gave me on Monday. Just so Scottish! Thank you Scamp. May need a little explanation for those of an English disposition!

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow to get me a new pair of walking boots.

Dancing all the day – 2 June 2019

Well, that’s what it felt like anyway!

Spoke to Hazy for a while in the morning and discussed the first part of Good Omens that we’d both watched. Agreed that it was good to see they were sticking fairly faithfully to the book so far. While we were on the phone my replacement batteries for the new camera arrived. After we’d finished speaking to London, I charged up the first battery. It seems like it had a part charge in it because it only took about half an hour to fully charge using USB. The second one took a little longer. When I exchanged a new battery with the one that came with the camera, I noticed that Made in Japan actually read Made in japan. That was one of the signs that the battery is a fake. The second check is the misspelling of the word ‘explode’ in the warning section. The ‘Olympus’ battery had it spelled as ‘explose’. This was looking like a complete fake. The third and final test is to check the weight of the battery. A ‘real’ Olympus battery weighs around 52gms. A fake one around 35gms. The ‘Olympus’ battery weighed 39gms. A pretty comprehensive case for disposing of the fake battery, safely of course. Just in case it does ‘explose’!

Did a tiny wee bit of gardening, since the weather was much nicer that had been predicted for today.  We even had some sunshine later in the morning and it was warm.  I just potted up a Meconopsis which Scamp had bought me last week. I’ve always liked the lovely blue, papery flowers, but Scamp doesn’t. That’s why she bought one for me instead of for herself. Today I gave it some room to grow in a bigger pot. I’m sure it will like the space. The garden was where I got today’s PoD of the little bee dangling form a ‘Nancy Pretty’ flower. You may know it as London’s Pride, but my mum always called it Nancy Pretty and that’s what it will always be to me. Still finding out things about the new toy. The amazing and dazzling amount of buttons and dials for one thing and the clever little touches in its operating system.

Drove in to Glasgow to have a go at dancing Jive to a real rock ’n’ roll band. We did manage one song then the band played ‘Tequila’ so we just had to dance salsa to that. After the session was finished, we had another hour before the real salsa started, so we went for a walk up Byres Road and found out that today was the official start of the West End Festival which apparently is second only to Nottinghill in size in the UK. We thought we’d missed the procession, but after checking tonight, it seems that there was no procession this year again. Maybe it takes too much organising or maybe it’s difficult to close such a busy road to traffic for a full day. Who knows. It just didn’t happen. We walked round the edge of the celebrations in Ashton Lane then walked back to the Record Factory to get ready for another hour and a half’s salsa dancing. Met a few folk we hadn’t seen for ages and danced with a few beginners. Left after an hour and a half because I was worn out.

Storm winds and heavy rain forecast for tomorrow and Gems are here for the last practise before the summer break. Don’t know where I’ll go.

Flaming June – 1 June 2019

Well, maybe not flaming as such, just not raining.

We were still in two minds whether to got to the Italian festival in Glasgow or just have a day somewhere in the dry, with the outside chance of a bit of sun. If we chose the latter, Scamp suggested Stirling or Hamilton. Both curry capitals of central Scotland. Finally, because there are at least some shops still open in Stirling and very few in Hamilton, we chose Stirling.

We went to the Indian Cottage in Stirling and had our usual: Vegetable Pakora followed by Vegetable Dhansak for Scamp and Chicken Pakora followed by Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna for me. Almost every time we go to this restaurant, that is what we have.

After lunch we went for a walk round the centre of Stirling. I was looking for a cheap, second hand copy of Good Omens, because the copy I’m reading on my Kindle must have been a publishers advanced copy complete with all the typos and bad typesetting. I looked in vain. It seemed that the hype about the new film of the book had led to all the copies being bought up. Scamp wasn’t looking for anything, but came home with a new ‘holiday and maybe for salsa’ dress.

On the way home we were stopping to get some compost and some ‘chuckies’ which for those readers who are from south of the border are small, possibly rounded stones. The chuckies were to provide drainage for the latest of Scamp’s containers. After a bit of an argument about where we should park and whether we should drive in or reverse in, we got a space. Scamp was right, of course, about driving in – easier access to the boot for loading stuff in. She was wrong about the tiny wee space she expected me to get the Juke in. It’s a wider car than her’s. The compost wasn’t too heavy, but those chuckies certainly were. However, we got them in and got home without breaking a spring. Had to barrow them out of the car and through the house. That gave Scamp time to get the container planted with two Gazanias, a Shooting Star (American Cowslip) and a Geum (Cookie). It looks good. That the second mixed planting she’s done recently and both are looking very natural.

A walk in the unexpected sunshine through St Mo’s gave me a chance to test out the ‘new toy’ and it certainly seemed up to the task. Especially impressive was the way the electronic shutter and automatic focus bracketing made short work of a shot of a tiny wee snail on a tree. It may go up on Flickr later. The only problem is the state of the battery. After about 60 shots it appeared to be losing most of its power. Not surprising really when I noted that it was manufactured in 2014. That makes it five years old. That’s a long time for a battery to be working. Luckily Amazon was offering a decent looking replacement pair plus USB charger for £18. It’s being delivered tomorrow. Not an actual Olympus battery. They cost around £70!

No sketches today. I’m having at least a week off, if I don’t go cold turkey. PoD went to a little dowdy looking fly that sat nicely for me in St Mo’s. No fancy focus stacking, just a straight forward shot.

A Plan – 27 May 2019

Today’s plan was an attempt at better use of time.

I’m getting fed up with heading for bed after midnight. My aim is to use my time more efficiently. The month of May is a bit of a nightmare of my own making. Not only do I have to get the daily photo taken, processed and uploaded to the sluggish Flickr, and get the blog written and also uploaded. Now I have to devise a sketch, complete it and probably slap some paint on it too. It keeps my mind alert, certainly, but it’s playing merry hell with my sleep pattern. Today I’m trying a different tack.

This morning I planned out today’s sketch and the topic was Books. I drew a stack of books and it looked reasonable until I realised that Escher could have drawn it. However, nobody could have built it. The stack of books needed some helium balloons attached to help them achieve their perilous balancing act. That said, it was only a planning sketch and had pointed out the need to plan more carefully. The next sketch was better and it looked like the books would actually stack like that without falling down. It went on to phase 2 and had some colour added. Yes, with a touch of shadow detail it looked solid. It’s been photographed, processed and uploaded to FB.

After lunch and after solving he difficult weekend Sudoku, admittedly a day late, I went for a walk around St Mo’s to try for more insect (beastie) pictures. Managed to get a bit closer to the flies and am better pleased with the results. Photos are now processed and uploaded to Flickr. The management of Flickr are stating that the site is now stable. If this is stable, I’d hate to see unstable. It’s slow, pictures disappear without warning, comments disappear. The whole structure seems fragile at present and give very little confidence in its use. It may improve. We can but hope.

That was the extent of the day’s work apart from some pruning in the garden. Trying to get rid of aphid damage on the black currant bushes. One of the benefits of having a brown bin is that you can happily dispose of damaged plants in it. I didn’t want to put the damaged leaves in the compost because that would only spread the infection. Our composter doesn’t get hot enough to destroy pests like that.

Tomorrow I go for my annual checkup at the docs. In the afternoon we may take a trip to visit one of Scamp’s Gems in hospital.

That’s the blog completed. I just need to post it and I will be about two hours ahead of my usual time!

Watching the dancers dancing

Not dancing ourselves, just watching the shivering and sheiking. All will become clear.

It was a wet, cool and windy Sunday and we could have gone dancing at Mango in Sausage Roll Street, but instead we’d promised ourselves a trip to the Record Factory to see The Shivering Sheiks (y’see, I told you all would become clear). They are a rock ’n’ roll foursome who play there every Sunday afternoon. We’d been told they were good and that there were lots of people up dancing to them.

The trouble was they were on early in the afternoon, from 2pm to 4pm, which sort of chopped up the day, but as it wasn’t a day for doing anything else, we decided to make the sacrifice. That was until we went out into a heavy rain shower and gale force winds. Also, to make things worse the Juke was parked under a spreading chestnut tree and what it was spreading was its flowers, aided and abetted by the aforementioned gale force winds. Luckily I’d brought along a soft brush, not a painting brush, what my mum would have called a “hearth brush”. Maybe we didn’t have a hearth, but the brush made short work of the chestnut flowers.

Drove in to Glasgow cursing the stupidity of driving all that way just to hear a rock ’n’ roll band. What were we thinking of? Got parked right away, just across the road from the venue and when we went in the Sheiks were in full flow. Rhythm guitar, lead guitar, double bass and drummer. Only a foursome, but the sound filled the place and soon the floor was filled with dancers too. We could have danced to some of the tunes they played and thankfully most of those who did dance were our age group. We stayed for about an hour and a half and then came home, vowing to go back next week and dance, then dance some salsa when it started after the Sheiks had gone.  Scamp had been right again … as usual!

There was just enough time when we came home for me to go out to St Mo’s and encourage a few spiders and flies to pose for my camera. That’s where today’s lovely model came from. After that it was time to plan today’s sketch which was A Cup of Coffee or Tea. I chose coffee and to add a bit more to it, I painted some coffee beans too. On the subject of food and drink, dinner tonight was marinaded short ribs cooked for 90mins at gas 4 in the Le Creuset. Very nice. Scamp had ‘Rats’, or as it’s now known “Just some Rats”.

We watched a boring F1 GP from Monaco which was the usual procession with so few places to overtake. Then spoke to JIC and discussed plans for Wales.

Weather looks poor for tomorrow too. Much like today it seems. That may decide how far we go and where.

Oh what a beautiful day – 12 May 2019

This wasn’t a day for lying around in bed, but we did, although not for long.

The strawberry plant in the hanging basket needed splitting up and repotting. So that was my gardening task for the day. It didn’t really take me that long, especially with the new garden table to raise things up so I wasn’t bending all the time. After splitting the original plant I had enough to fill two hanging baskets with some to spare, so that’s what I did. After that, it was wearing on to lunchtime, so we rested our trowels and forks for a while and had lunch. Watched an irritating interview on the Andrew Marr program with the despicable Nigel Farage (Who my spellchecker thinks is Nigel Garage. He has as much sincerity as a Garage). He’d make a great snake oil salesman.

I could have done a lot of things, but I eventually decided that the bike needed a run, so I dragged myself out in the warm sunshine and cycled to the spot where I can usually depend on seeing some damselflies in the summer. It’s the verge of a fair sized pond, but today it was a reed bed with little sign of any standing water. It just shows how little rain we’ve had this year. Occasionally great deluges lasting days, then nothing for the next week. Is this another sign of Global Warming? Something else that the esteemed Mr Farage doesn’t believe in. Trained by Trump perhaps? I was about to leave empty handed when I remembered another very small pond where the damselflies hang out and lo and behold there was a Large Red Damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula). Got a few shots of it as it sunned itself and that made PoD.

Back home it was lamb shank for me and salmon for Scamp. Both done in the oven. The lamb shank was enormous and made great eating. Scamp’s salmon looked good too. As a surprise she’d made meringues. Light as a feather they were. There are some kept aside for tomorrow, but they are at their best straight from the oven.

Watched a boring Spanish GP before I started on today’s sketch whose topic was “Pastimes / Amusements”. My answer was “The Times Daily Sudoku” which passes a significant part of my time but is rarely amusing.

Tomorrow I’m going to lunch with Shona and she’s paying.

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.

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”? 

Marie Kondo rules OK – 19 April 2019

Today I ignored the beautiful sunshine for a while and started tidying up the top three drawers in my chest of drawers in the back bedroom. Marie Kondo, you have a lot to answer for.

It’s been coming for a while, but when Scamp was out buying Tesco today, I got started clearing out the top two drawers. Actually I’d already started on the top drawer yesterday, but hadn’t managed to file very much in the big round filing cabinet in the corner. Today was a more concerted effort. Using partly the Marie Kondo mantra of “Does this spark joy?” and partly my own “Keep, File, Chuck” method, I managed to get rid of a few more things, then allocate a particular space to the ones I wanted to keep. What was the top drawer is now the second top, because the boxes I was using for the ‘filing’ wouldn’t fit in the top drawer. The chest of drawers is designed in the architectural style where the highest drawer is the shallowest and the lowest is the deepest. It’s the way Victorian and Edwardian architects designed windows in big houses. Look some time and you’ll see how it works. So, the top drawer now only holds paper and sketch books and the second top drawer holds two main categories of objects:

  • File (pens, knives and stuff) They don’t necessarily Spark Joy, but they are useful or essential tools.
  • Keep (photos, flyers etc). They are not tools, but they remind me of something. They all Spark Joy.

That drawer is much more organised than it was before, but may not stay that way.

The third drawer is still a work in progress. It has much more Spark Joy items than the other two and will need a bit more willpower to encourage me to put things into the ‘Chuck’ pile.

Halfway through Hazy phoned and we had a long discussion about gardens, cats and birthdays. Heavens, we also managed to fit in Christmas plans, which seem to be firming up quite nicely.

After lunch which was delicious Cheese and Beetroot sandwiches, we started on the garden. I wanted to plant the Calabrese which is like broccoli, but Scamp suggested that it might be a good idea to put up the pea frame first, to prevent disruption of the growing plants when it’s actually needed. I agreed and got it built up quite easily. Planted the Calabrese while Scamp did all the rest of the garden work.

Sat out for a while in the sun with a glass of wine each because it was a beautiful warm spring day and Good Friday too. Found today’s PoD crawling round a garden bucket. It’s a Nut Weevil and is probably the reason my chestnuts aren’t growing this year, as the adult insect bores a hole into the nut and lays its eggs inside. The grub hatches, eats its way out and it’s goodbye Chestnut. It made a nice photo though.

Tomorrow we may go to Embra. Hoping for another sunny day. Central heating seems to be fixed by the way. Oh, yes and Hazy, I’ve got the two backups downloaded tonight. One from the old website and one from the new. Belts & Braces, that’s me!