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Zombies and three Halyzia 16-guttata – 11 March 2018

Up early and out to get milk and bread, the staples.

It was Mothers Day today and it just didn’t seem right for Scamp to make the breakfast. She’s not my mother, but she looks after me as if she is. That’s why I got up and drove to Tesco to get the milk and bread, and also a bunch of bananas, not flowers, bananas. You can’t put flowers on your breakfast Bran Flakes, don’t be silly. Tesco looked like a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie. Empty shelves everywhere. There was milk and bananas, but almost no other fruit.  [Thinks: Do zombies not eat bananas? ]  Now I know we’ve been away for a week and the snow has been bad here, but surely the Tesco lorries were getting through? I know Nicola Sturgeon was condemning the lorry drivers for clogging up the motorways with furniture lorries, but essentials like fruit and veg, that’s different. The apples and oranges should get through. Likewise the bread. My God, there was no plain loaves in the rack!! There were the thick cut loaves, but nobody eats them even if they’re were starving. Heavens, even zombies don’t eat them.

Came home made breakfast then sat down and typed up the last two days blog entries. Now we’re all up to date, I can relax. My reading public will not be on tenterhooks wondering if we got home, safely from our Week In A Warm Place.

That took me to about lunchtime and, as the sun was shining from a blue sky, after lunch I went to see if St Mo’s was still there and not under about three feet of snow still. I needn’t have worried, the swans were swimming, the birds were singing and the deer were out grazing, so I took the opportunity and snapped a few shots of them before they ran off. I also found my ladybird, the little orange one with the sixteen white spots (Halyzia 16-guttata), that I’ve been keeping an eye on since the beginning of the year. Except that it was no longer a solo ladybird, but a member of a trio. Three little vegetarian ladybirds clinging to the same tree. Two shots in the bag. Next shot was just of a pine cone with little tufts of moss growing from it. I liked it best, and it became PoD.

Dinner was a roast chicken from Tesco. At least there were plenty of them. Apparently zombies don’t like chickens, maybe chicken’s brains are too small to be worth eating. They (the zombies) do, however, like ice cream, because the freezers that are usually full of it were empty. There seemed to be no logic in the empty shelves. The ones you’d expect to be empty like the dairy aisle were full and the one’s that are more luxury items like ice cream had been pillaged. There’s just no accounting for folk.

That was about it apart from running the washing machine almost all day. Tomorrow I’ll probably put the cases away until the summer and, as it’s a Gems day, I’ll maybe go to the gym.

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Just another day in paradise – 08 March 2018

P1040411_2_2It’s Thursday today and that can only mean one thing.  Thursday Prezzies.  Scamp had chosen her prezzy and in late morning we walked to the shops.

That was after we lazed for an hour in the shade beside the pool.  I got fed up lazing and went to get some photos in the garden.  Saw a dragonfly, but it was doing circuits again and didn’t stop.  Sometimes it slowed down to tease the fish in the stream and let them try to catch it, but it was far too fast for them.  That’s where the PoD came from.  It’s a flowering and fruiting cactus complete with Spanish greenbottles.  Like bluebottles,  only green.  Still tired of lazing, I did some sketches of the folk lying on their sunbeds.

With one in the bag, we decanted ourselves from the sunbeds and walked down the road past the Sheraton to the first row of shops.  Had lunch (burger for me, tuna club sandwich for Scamp.)  The beers we had quenched our thirst.  Got the prezzies then walked back along the ‘new’ walkway. 

I had intended going for a walk to get some more photos and Scamp was going for a swim, but then there was a power outage.  We didn’t fancy going down five flights of stairs, or worse, having to climb back up them again if the lifts weren’t back in business, so we waited on the balcony and had another G ‘n’ T.  By the time the power returned it was too late to go for a walk, so we went for a swim instead.  I tried out the ‘adult pool’ and it was COLD!  Freezin’!  However, I was in and I was going to do a circuit of the little island with the jacuzzi in it.  All the while I had the thought of that warm bubbly water, that WARM bubbly water.  Finally completed the circuit and did get a chance to warm up in the jacuzzi.  Scamp joined me although, theoretically she hadn’t earned the treat, her not having swum in the freezing pool avoiding the ice floes.

Walked straight across to the middle pool and it was heated!  Hadn’t really noticed it before, but after the cold pool, this one felt warm.  Swam there for a while before returning to the sunbeds to soak up some rays.  Scamp went to swim in the middle pool.

Came back, fought with Lightroom for a while then went for dinner.  After that, went and grabbed a good seat for Tina the saxophone playing singer who would play some salsa, we hoped.  She did.  We twirled and twisted with the best of them.  Not as clean a demo as last time, but we have the G ‘n’ Ts and the Rum ‘n’ Cokes to blame for that. 

Exhausted now, I’m sitting on the balcony with the waves crashing on the shore wondering what we’ll do tomorrow.  Maybe a trip to Caleta?  Maybe hire a bike and go for a run?  Maybe go and have lunch on the island?  Maybe some, but probably not all of the above.

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The first day of 2018 – 1 January 2018

How do you make yogurt ice cream without yogurt?

You go out for a walk on New Year’s Day when Tesco is closed and try to find a shop that’s open and also, one that stocks plain, natural yogurt. The first show I tried wasn’t open, no surprise. The second didn’t stock yogurt. That meant a much longer walk to the service station that I was sure was open and might, just might have yogurt. It was and it did. Success! The yogurt ice cream would be made after all.

With that task completed, I decided I’d go out and get an outside photo for the first one of the new year, because the sun was shining. I wandered around St Mo’s looking for a likely candidate before I remembered the little ladybird I’d seen away back at the beginning of December. It was still there. What’s more, it was moving. So it didn’t hibernate after all. It had chosen the east facing side of the tree which would be in the lee of the prevailing west wind. It had also chosen a spot with a bit of cover from the rain. Since I’d last seen it, it had survived 40mph winds and temperatures of -7ºc for three or four days in succession. Tough little cookies are ladybirds and that was the PoD.

Spoke to a bloke who was walking a friendly looking dog. The bloke told me it was a flat coated retriever. It certainly seemed well looked after and he said it would be even more friendly if I had some chicken, beef or liver with me. I told him it would be lucky, all I had was some stale bread for the ducks and swans. I know you’re not supposed to feed bread to ducks, but they don’t seem to have got that email yet. We said cheerio and went our different ways.

H&N arrived early just as I was beginning to clear the table. Scamp was busy and this time she had excelled herself with Salmon En Croute with roast potatoes, carrots and sugarsnap peas. Pudding was Pears in Red Wine, served with the Yogurt Ice Cream. Best she’s made, but that was only because I went the extra mile to get the yogurt!

After dinner we played Bears V Babies. A not very serious game with the most complicated rules ever. Still a good laugh and if not taken too seriously.

Resolutions for 2018
All the resolutions from 2017 plus:

  • Visit the gym or the pool at least once a week – and mean it this time!
  • Sketch at least one drawing a week. It can be in any medium, but it must be done on time.
  • Post the blog on the day it refers to unless some technical issue prevents it.
  • Get up for breakfast one day a week.

Let’s see how long they last.

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It depends on the weather and what H&N are doing.

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The great unboxing – 25 December 2017

Christmas, it’s a great time of year, and that’s Christmas with a ‘C’, not Xmas with an ‘X’

It used to be the day for kids cycling on their new bikes or showing off their new doll’s pram and for bigger kids to be snoozing in front of the fire. I didn’t see any kids cycling or pushing prams or anything. In fact I didn’t see any kids outside today at all. The fact that it’s been raining torrentially all day long probably had something to do with that. It wasn’t the best Christmas weather, and, of course we all have central heating now, so there’s no chance of snoozing by a fire.

That’s the moan over with. Today was the great unboxing of the big box. The one that has had Scamp flummoxed since the day it made an appearance almost a week ago. I don’t think she believed me that it was double wrapped, but it was and once she had removed both layers, the secret was revealed. It was a leaf blower. I know that sounds a bit mundane and unseasonal too, but Scamp has been talking about getting one of these things for over two years now and in a moment of inspiration, I though this was just the thing. Not something predictable or something extremely expensive. Just something she’d talked about and had forgotten about until the grass cutting season was here in a few months time. Even then, she’d just say it was a silly idea. It was, but the secret is out of the box now, literally. We’ve checked it, and it works. It works very, very well! No leaves or grass cuttings will be safe now.

My best favourite prezzy was a pattern for a shirt (long and short sleeved), a tie, a bow tie and best of all, a waistcoat, although it’s an American pattern and it’s described as a vest. My mum knitted me a vest from string when I was wee. Everyone who was anyone had a string vest. They kept you warm when the weather was cold because they trapped a layer of air next to your skin. It was like wearing the future, because it was scientific. Everyone wore them under a thin white shirt at school because you could see the pattern of the vest under your shirt. That was proof that you were up to date with fashion! String vests, where are they now? Anyway, this will be my next project, a waistcoat. There’s a whole new vocabulary to learn about with ‘darts’ and ‘notches’ and ‘basting’. Sounds like a whole new language to me! That’s not to say I didn’t like the rest of the prezzies, oh no, they were all great, like the ‘Buff’ from JIC and Sim, a winter version and the jar of fizzy flying saucers from Scamp (already opened and sampled). Christmas is a great time of year for new projects.

Lunch was light. Just cold meat on a wrap for me and toast for Scamp. Dinner was Salmon for Scamp and another Steak for me. Both served with Roast Potatoes and Brussel Sprouts. Then for pudding it was Tiramisu. I was more careful with this and only ate half. The rest is in the fridge for tomorrow. Christmas is a great time of year if you don’t over-eat. I managed to err just on the side of safety and sense. Scamp is almost always sensible and she was today.

I didn’t go out today. I took today’s PoD from the kitchen. It wasn’t until I examined it on the computer that I noticed the tiny little aphids clinging to the leaflets and stem. I hadn’t realised they could survive in our sub-zero climate. You live and learn.

It was great to talk to Hazy and JIC today. Just a little time with both of them at different times of the day, because they’re both on different sides of the planet living their own lives, and that’s good. Christmas is a great time of year for keeping in touch, and we did.

Ok, boxes have been opened, the recycling bin is full of wrapping paper. It’s time to face Boxing Day and hope for just a little respite from the rain. If only so the weans can get their new bikes and prams out to show them off. We may go for a walk.

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Photos, Phones and Probably a Sketch – 12 October 2017

Today I intended to get the bus in to Glasgow just to have a wander, probably gather some photos and maybe get a sketch completed. That was the ‘fun’ stuff, I also wanted to get a baseline price for a new phone contract. That wouldn’t be fun.

As it turned out, Scamp offered me a lift to the station, so I got the train in instead. When I got to the station there was a fair commotion with four police cars and two ambulances sitting outside. The reason for the stramash was lying on the floor in the corridor that takes you down to the low level station. One of the ceiling panels had fallen. Usually these panels are fibreboard or plasterboard, but this part of the station dates to the 1960s and this panel was concrete! Cordons had been set up, police were taking statements from witnesses and at least one wee Glesga wummin who wanted to be seen to be ‘assisting police with their enquiries’. There were also a few ambulance personnel looking for someone to assist. Thankfully only one person was injured, but looking at the size of the concrete lumps, this could have had a totally different outcome.

I walked up Sausage Roll Street and found a sketch for the day. It wasn’t a cold day, but the wind blowing over Garnethill was cutting. I took about 15 minutes to get the bones of the sketch of St Aloysius Church. Even at the second attempt I managed to truncate it and removed the dome at the top of the tower. However, I think I got the gist of the building. Went in to Mandors and got some fabric to make a bow tie for myself. It’s printed with cameras. Quite apt I thought.

From there I walked down to Argyle Street via a couple of art galleries, looking for inspiration. Into Cass Art to browse. Just window shopping. They too had a gallery where a group of 25 artists were selling their work, so I wandered round looking for inspiration. Inspiration is a fickle thing. I found it in the first galleries, but in the Cass Art gallery I realised that my own work was actually not bad. After all this fun stuff, it was time to face Vodafone.

As predicted, all they offered was the blanket price from the website. I could have sat on my backside in front of my shiny new iMac and got that same price. In fact I had. I was told that if I was in the police, army NHS or any of 5,000 other occupations or companies, I was eligible for a discount (allegedly!), but upgrading was not due a discount. Staying with a company was not due a discount. That said, the salesperson had originally told me that I was not eligible for an upgrade because I was outwith the 70 days until the end of my contract. Also, apparently I’d phoned the shop at some point in the last week. Believe me, I wouldn’t waste any of my unlimited minutes phoning them. I just wanted a baseline price and I got their laughable offer, then left.

Scamp had offered to pick me up from the station, so I just got the train back after checking that it was still ok with her. Had a quick roll ‘n’ cooked ham as a late lunch and then grabbed the Nikon and went for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s where I got PoD which was the spider. I was tempted by the pic of the bloke playing slide guitar on Bucky Street. It was when I got the photo home I realised that only his right hand had false nails. Presumably to help with picking the strings. I’d love to have been in the nail bar when he walked in!

Phoned Vodafone customer service later and spoke to someone sensible who sold me the same deal as the salesman in Glasgow, but with a 20% discount. I know I could have pressed for 25% or maybe eve 30%, but he had beaten the Tesco price and it meant I was getting a new phone with more storage space for less than I paid two years ago. Result!

All of that and Seabass for dinner. A good day!

Looks like overnight rain and a wet morning commute, except we don’t commute any more. We just wait for the sun to shine, which may happen around midday with a bit of luck. No plans for tomorrow. May do the first backup of the iMac. Need to think up a name for the new phone. The last one was ‘Mambo No 5’. I’m thinking this one might be ‘Isa.’

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Slipped the leash – 21 September 2017

Scamp was off to have lunch with one of her friends. I had the day to myself!

In the morning we had a Skype with Hazy. Unfortunately it was interrupted in the middle when Skype decided it was going to do an upgrade. Now I don’t mind upgrades for most bits of software (Windows excepted), but why does a communication program break into your conversation without even a by-your-leave? The answer is because it’s owned by Microsoft. The same company that decides you need the latest upgrade to Windows 10 so badly, it installs it on your computer whether you want it or not. Thought it was your computer? Nope, it belongs to Mickysoft. Unless, of course, you took the sensible route and installed Linux.

After our on-line chat, Scamp got ready and headed off. I set too to practise some ‘painting people’ after I’d filled the washing machine and part completed today’s Sudoku and made lunch. The washing machine was a timer. I had the forty minutes it takes to do a wash to do my painting, then I’d have to hang out the washing because it looked like a good drying day with a light breeze and some splashes of sun. After that it was time to go get some photos. Walked along the canal for a bit and then cut across the plantation. It was there I met today’s PoD, the dragonfly. I think it’s a female Black Darter. Quite small, only about 30mm long. It sat on the handrail of a bridge for ages. I thought at first it was sizing up a little fly for lunch, but then decided it was just sunning itself. Probably it had been listening to the weather forecast and knew the next two days wouldn’t allow for much sun bathing.

Walked back to the car and drove to Tesco to get the makings of dinner which turned out to be a truly awful curry. The best thing about it was the flatbreads. They were excellent as usual.

By the time I got home from my walk, Scamp was back home and my day ’off the leash’ was over. I think I may have a beer tonight to commiserate with myself for making such a poor curry. Must do better.

Tomorrow centres around John Carrigan’s Birthday Bash. Should be good fun.

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The Happy Wanderers – 15 September 2017

Today we took JIC and Sim to Devilla forest in Fife to have a walk through the trees.

Devilla is a Forestry Commission site with a fair bit of parking and a few interesting walks through well maintained woodland. At weekends it gets very busy, but on a Friday morning it wasn’t overrun. We started out in sunshine, but as we continued through, the clouds rolled in. Sim and I stopped to take some photos of the pond and later a black darter dragonfly that settled near us. There was also a brilliant green dragonfly that buzzed us, but didn’t want to settle. Then a black dog, not the Black Dog, just a labrador appeared and scared away the green dragonfly. It was as we were turning away we realised that Scamp and JIC were nowhere to be seen. I reckoned that they were ahead of us heading back to the car. Sim was of the mind that they’d taken the wrong turning, after passing the pond you see above, and were walking round the pond again. We headed back to the car, but the wanderers weren’t there. We sat and waited, then Sim phoned JIC and she had been right. They’d turned left rather than right when they passed the pond. Of course they hadn’t just walked the same path again, they’d gone ever further into the forest. Anyway, when they returned, it was time for lunch.

Lunch was in the Walled Garden, just along the road from the carpark. Food was fine and the cakes looked as good as they did the last time, but the coffee was almost as weak as Costa muck.

We drove to Pittencrieff park in Dunfermline for a walk around the flower beds. We went to get a photo opportunity of the ‘Fairy Castle’ that is in reality the City Chambers, but didn’t bother to visit the town itself. Best to view it from a distance.

Drove over the new Queensferry Crossing which was mildly mobbed. Not as bad as I thought it would be, but we were going north to south. South to north was a different story, with traffic attempting to merge from ever available angle.

Later we dropped JIC and Sim at Chris’s house in Caldercruix. The first time I’ve been there since John and I picked up Andy Taylor and took him to school, easily 25 years ago. It’s not improved.

Tomorrow after we drop ‘The Kids’ off, we may go out somewhere, although the weather doesn’t look a patch on today’s.

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Went out, lost the dog – 14 September 2017

Went to the Fort today in Easterhouse. For ages I’ve been saying that what they really needed to build in Easterhouse was a fort and finally someone listened to me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that kind of fort. It’s just a big collection of shops and cafes, but it does have a bookshop again.

Had a cup of brown water in Costa. I thought Cumbersheugh had the worst Costa. I was wrong the Fort version wins hands down. Someone should tell the ‘baristas’ that you have to refill the coffee filter for EACH customer. You don’t simply fill it in the morning and just keep using it again and again. Definitely having tea next time. Bought some Cerulean (other spellings are available) acrylic paint. Cheapest I could find was £1 for 75ml that sounds ok to me. It’s a useful sky colour.

Came home and grabbed the camera and the black dog and took them both to St Mo’s. Got some photos of a poor wee Jenny Long Legs untangling itself from a spider web, but wasn’t impressed with the results. Gave it a helping hand on its way. Turned round and the black dog had gone. The last I saw, it was following a couple out walking their Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Have fun with them Big Black Dog, people.  I won’t miss it.

Picked up JIC and Sim at Glasgow Airport and caught up over a few beers and a G ’n’ T.

Today’s PoD is of St Mo’s under a bright blue sky. A 9mm lens works wonders. So does watching the BBD disappearing over the hill.

Don’t know what tomorrow brings. A walk has been suggested. We can do that!

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Nnnn Nineteen – 11 September 2017

Phone call this morning from the nurse to say that the podiatrist was off ill, so my appointment today was cancelled and I’d be given a new one. Five minutes later the nurse phoned back to say that another podiatrist had been contacted and my appointment was back if I was still available. I was.

Spent the morning putting the finishing touches to my painting. When I got to the point where as Whistler allegedly said “I can do no more to it”, I stopped and tore the A2 sheet from its spiral binding and hung it on the wall. Ostensibly to dry, but also to see if I would still like it when I walked past it occasionally. I did and it’s still drying. If I hadn’t it’d be in pieces in the bin by now.

After lunch I got ready and went to meet the podiatrist who signed me off as having a fit pair of feet, which was nice. Just what I’d expected.

Dinner tonight was exactly what I’d intended. A ragu made with the pulled meat from the dinosaur bone, served with some ribbon past I found in the back of the cupboard. It was very nice. Great way to use up the meat.

Salsa tonight was a bit frantic. One move in particular had me tied up in knots. It was called Balsero Dos and I hope Jamie G forgets about it next week, but I doubt if he will. We also did Disco(very), El Paraguas and Guanabo.

Found one of the limitations of the dashcam tonight. The detail in night driving is very poor. During the day it’s fine, but the contrast is so high at night and the frame rate and the shutter speed doesn’t allow for any detail to be recorded. This was pointed up when we were passed by a boy racer along Westfield Road. When I reviewed the footage, you could see it was a red car, and that was it. No detail. Useless as evidence in an accident.  Luckily we didn’t need it.

Today’s PoD is of a bunch of dragonflies I found sunning themselves up at Fannyside. There were an incredible nineteen of them all snoozing (I think) on an old rusted gate. One even let me get to within 30mm of her (I checked, it was a female Black Darter). All the photos were taken with the Teazer. Just shows what you can do with a point ’n’ shoot camera these days.

Early rise tomorrow when we’re off to the hospital in Glasgow for Scamp’s checkup.

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A lazy day with some brambles – 2 September 2017

We’d intended going to Ayr to see the ‘airies’, (Flying display to you) today. However, although I’d have liked to have seen the scary Typhoon, I decided that we would both be standing around for some time and that’s sore on the back. Also as the last minute cancellations mounted, I didn’t want to get there and find it was all a waste of time. As it happened, it looked a reasonable display although the Red Arrows flypast was cancelled just before it was due to start and the pilot of the Typhoon had to cut short the demo because of fuel problems. Makes you wonder why all these things happen a week or less before the event. Makes you wonder if the organizers knew about the cancellations, but just didn’t inform the public, the paying public, that is.

Anyway, it was a lovely sunny day with hardly a breeze, so we drove over to the Kirky road and picked just over a kilo of brambles between us. I wanted to get them before the rain came tomorrow (Sunday). That said, the latest forecast is for rain during the night and warm but cloudy tomorrow.  Later we did a bit more tidying in the garden, eventually getting round to planting the rhubarb in one of the big plastic pots I got ages ago.  It was half filled with rainwater and was providing a neat little swimming pool for various insects and flies.  Unfortunately I had to interrupt their swimming lessons to put it to a more mundane task of becoming the home to the rhubarb plant.  I’m sure it will be happy in it because the roots had become an almost solid ball.

I made dinner tonight and it was Sea Bass en Papillote with Thai Flavours. Basically a paper parcel of sea bass marinated in lemongrass, garlic, chilli and lime juice. Served with new potatoes. I clean forgot to get veg to go with it, but the main component, the sea bass was great, but the potatoes were the winner. I’d intended making Thai Green Curry, but that’s been postponed until tomorrow. Paste is almost made and is resting in the fridge. That’s the hardest part done.

Almost completely forgot about a photo today, but I’d had this idea in my head for a while so it didn’t take long to put together, thankfully, because it was about 10pm when I shot it.

Tomorrow, as I said is to be cloudy and warm. Don’t know what we’re up to.