More rain, more drizzle, then sunshine – 28 July 2019

It rained in the morning, but my weather app said rain would stop at 1.30pm and it did.

Yes, it did stop then, and the sun shone for a while, but it wasn’t really trying very hard.

It was a day of not doing much apart from clearing up after last night and writing yesterday’s blog. Sometimes you just have to admit it and play catch-up. Hardly went past the door for most of the day. Took the chance of a bright spell and grabbed some photos in the garden. Front garden shots were best today, especially the PoD of a hover fly on an Eryngium Planum (Sea Holly).

Other than that, it was preparations in the afternoon and watching an amazingly interesting F1 GP from Germany where it looked like there wouldn’t be enough cars left to form a quorum for the podium.

Spoke to JIC in the evening and got up to date on all things going on in Cambridgeshire.

Tomorrow we have no real plans, apart from intending to go dancing at the STUC in the evening.

Butterflies, Buddleia and dancing the Swivel ’n’ Pivot – 24 July 2019

Dancing and butterflies, but not at the same time.

The day started with an attempt at making buttonholes. Not as easy as it seems and with the sweet, sweet voice of the oriental tutor from the Brother DVD ringing in my ears, it was mystifying. Eventually I found the secret, sneakily hidden away in another part of the tutorial. It was simply a case of trial and error to find the correct stitch length. After that we were “cooking with gas”. By the time I’d sussed it out, it was time to dress properly (Shorts are not deemed suitable for ballroom dancing) and drive in to Glasgow to dance. BTW, if all this stitchery talk is becoming boring, fear not. The end is in sight.

Glasgow was steaming, not to be confused with steamin’, that’s a totally different thing. The heat was unbearable and the humidity was as high as I’ve ever seen it. And we were going down to an airless dungeon to dance! Right, that makes sense. I don’t know if the heat and humidity had frazzled our brains, but we couldn’t put a foot right in Jive, but we fitted a few of the moves together to Anne Marie’s satisfaction. Even better, there was a fan in the room and that did help to cool things down. Quickstep was fairly good until AM decided we needed stretched a bit and taught us the new part of the routine called Swivel ’n’ Pivot. We were a disaster. However after a load of clipped heels and stood-upon toes we were getting the basics. Even tonight with the settees pushed back and the living room turned into a dance floor, we were struggling with it and beginning, just beginning to get it connected up with the normal Quick, Quick, Slow. Not there yet, but seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Back home we decided not to go to Salsa tonight. Reasons were it was hot still. There are usually too many men, so I have to sit out. It’s a forty minute round trip for an hour of a class that’s well below our level. Scamp offered to make dinner which was Fish Fingers, Egg ’n’ Chips. What’s not to like? While she was making it a flicker on my flowering buddleia bush caught my eye. It was a butterfly, a Small Tortoiseshell as it turned out, but a BUTTERFLY on MY BUDDLEIA. This might not be a great occurrence to most folk, but I’ve been carefully tending, pruning and feeding a buddleia for years and years and it finally deigns to flower some time in October when all the butterflies have gone. The woman at the garden centre where I got the one that’s flowering now gave me this advice. “Dig a hole, put it in, water it and leave it.” That’s what I’ve been doing wrong all this time, being too kind to it. At least now I know. The butterfly on the buddleia made PoD.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow in the afternoon.

Feeling the heat – 22 July 2019

Woke to high winds and a bit of rain, but by the end of the day it was the heat that was in command

Today I was going to finish the waistcoat, or at least have it near enough finished that I could wear it. That was the challenge. Stitched it up and then faced the task of turning it outside in, or inside out, depending on the way you look at it. It was actually easier than I thought it would be. With that done, Scamp suggested I press it, and that’s what I did. I hadn’t realised how useful a pair of tweezers would be to help you pull out all those little corners that wanted to stay rounded and I wanted to be sharp. Finally got it pressed as flat as my sewing would allow, and that’s when I found my mistake. In my wisdom I’d assumed you only needed to allow one opening to turn the thing outside in and had sewn up the other side, but the instructions that had seemed vague to me at first now became clear. I’d have to undo part of my wonderful sewing. Stitch-rippers are fun to use too. Soon got it sorted and all joined up properly so that it did indeed look like a wearable garment. It still needs the finishing hand sewing to fix the lining, but I’m hoping to do that tomorrow.

That took up most of the day, but I booked an hour before dinner to grab some beastie photos in St Mo’s. That’s where today’s PoD came from. As well as getting some beasties, one beastie got me. Found a cleg chewing happily away at my hand. It won’t bite anyone else in this world. Piriton to the rescue and also some Anthisan to be sure. Still stings a bit, but hopefully I caught it in time. I’ve been so careful making sure that I clear of ticks, I forgot about the ubiquitous Cleg.

Scamp drove us in to Glasgow for salsa tonight and I have to thank her for that. Although it was a fairly easy drive, the wind was dropping away and the heat was building in the early evening sunshine. It was good to be a passenger for once. New moves tonight were Archangel which was Angel with Gabriel bolted on to the end, Sombrero Doble which is actually three Sombreros and that good old standard, New One.

Just in case you though I’d made up the story about the Partick Samurai, here’s the video to prove we did see it:

Tomorrow is to be even hotter than today and then we’re to have heavy rain and thunderstorms at night. Oh what fun. No plans.

The rains came. Waiting for the thunder – 19 July 2019

Today was forecast to be a decidedly unnice day with rain and thunder in the forecast.  So went to Tesco in  the morning to avoid the rush.

We visited Tesco in the morning, just to provision ourselves for the coming of the Skye folks tomorrow.  Just messages really.  Plus some ice cream and a bottle of gin.  Also got a bottle of rhubarb & custard cider which I wont have again.  Yes, it did taste just like rhubarb and custard, but why anyone in their right mind would make that into cider, or for that matter why anyone in their right mind would buy it, I don’t know.  Be warned, it’s out there and it took a bottle of Proper Job and a wee glass of whisky tonight to take the taste away!

Back in time for lunch and to prune some of the roses that had finished flowering.  Then Scamp decided to feed the flowers with sulfate of potash before the rains came.  I did a bit of stitchery, finally deciding to do the stay-stitch (who knew that sewing was so complicated?) that had been bugging me all week.  It was actually quite easy, I think.  But I won’t really know until I finish the piece I’m working on tomorrow, or maybe later depending on how busy I am with other stuff tomorrow.  Anyway, it’s basted, stay-stitched and pinned ready for the next step (or stitch) whenever it comes.  BTW, Hazy, the kit you sent for the boxers was a piece of cake (egg-free of course) compared to this waistcoat.  Thanks for the making the introduction so easy.  Wish I’d known just how easy it was at the time.

Went out for a drive with the camera but came back with nothing apart from two burghers, two chicken burgers and a piece of salmon from the butchers in Muirhead. No photos.  Went out to St Mo’s in the rain when I got back and got today’s PoD of the mating Soldier Beetles.  Walked over to Condorrat and got a loaf, to go with the Fishy Jam (Marmalade) I got this morning and a couple of Frog Cakes.  They don’t taste quite as good as they look, but we both agree they are fun.

Weather fairies are predicting more rain and also some thunder during the night.

Tomorrow we are going in to Glasgow I think to see if the Skye folk are sober enough to come here for the night.   Before that can happen, however we two have to do a fair bit of tidying up.

Grand Prix Crashes and Beasties – 14 July 2019

Today was the British F1 GP and for once it was interesting and quite exciting at times.

Spoke to Hazy for a while in the morning and got up to date on what’s happening in London. I’m quite happy she phoned because it got me out of bed where I’d been lying reading The October Man by Ben Aaronovitch. It’s a novella and I didn’t even have to buy it, I swapped another book with Fred for it. Good story and maybe an offshoot from the Rivers of London series, we’ll see. Anyway, after talking to Hazy and being told by her that it was time I was up and out, that’s what I did.

It was another slow start for the weather with heavy cloud cover rolling in and staying there. Walked down to the M&S place to get some lunch and some stuff for tomorrow’s dinner too. Looking forward to the new M&S Food Hall opening across the road from St Mo’s school. That will give us a wider choice and not as far to walk.

After lunch we settled down to watch the British GP. It was full of thrills and spills for once and gave Vettell another chance to show just how much he has lost it as a driver. After crashing into Verstappen, he complained that it wasn’t his fault. Hmm, from about four different camera angles it was his fault and his alone. Ten second penalty is no penalty at all when he ended up being second last on the track. He is becoming a danger on the track and should be given the option of a one race ban or a week’s community service, picking up litter in Carbrain. That would teach him not to cause a crash!

After the race finished I decided to go looking for beasties in St Mo’s, because I couldn’t be bothered driving today. Found some interesting insects, but my favourite was the metal fly that looks as if it’s been dancing in the icing sugar. The others I’m hoping to load up on Flickr later, if it deigns to work today.

After dinner we watered the garden. The hose is a great boon for this. No need to lug watering can after watering can of water through the house for the thirsty plants.

Tomorrow, we may go for that walk we were meant to be going on today, although we did go for a walk to get lunch, so perhaps we did accomplish what we set out to do.

Muggy – 10 July 2019

Uncomfortably hot and clammy today.  Not something I usually complain about.

Gave myself a sore back again today marking out and cutting more linings.  I hate this shiny, slippery fabric.  That’s most of it done now.  Still got some cutting to do and then it’s on to the stiffening stuff that’s not so difficult to cut.  It’s the height of the table that’s the killer.  It’s not really a table.  It’s the frame of an old card table with the bedroom door laid on top.  That gives me a massive 2.5m x 1.2m area to lay things out on.  The trouble is the table is just too high to sit at comfortably and just to low to lean over to cut the fabric.  I need an adjustable height table.

After the Fabric & Fashion course and also after lunch we drove in to Glasgow for more back ache in the ballroom.  Anne Marie was taking the class because Michael has a sore arm, or so he says.  We covered Jive with a new move, the Cross Over and then the Sway into the Pendulum, in Quickstep, but didn’t get as far as completing the double lock chassis.  If this means nothing to you, I’m probably describing it wrong.  I’m also probably dancing it wrong too.  It was an ok session and we both felt we were getting somewhere with it.

Getting coffee in Nero afterwards I was talking to another old guy who was telling me that the English school holidays are based on the hop picking times, so that entire families could leave London to go the Kent to pick the hops.  It made me think that probably  the Scottish school holidays were based either around  the Glasgow Fair or the fruit picking around Dundee.  Just a short conversation, but I’ll probably look into the possibilities of the theory.

Back home I took the Oly 1 and a macro lens for a walk around St Mo’s.  Really, I had a good shot of a delivery biker doing a running repair on his tyre – seen in Merchant City in Glasgow.  What I really wanted to do was rattle off a few more frames to completely flatten the battery of the camera.  I managed it, or near enough after 150 shots.  That’s 381 shots in total from that battery.  Very good indeed as the Oly battery which costs about 5 times as much only does 300.  I did get the PoD in the process, it is the tiny little hover fly you see above.

Salsa tonight was in almost unbearable heat in the STUC building.  Two fairly busy classes, but only because there were a lot of us helpers doing our bit.  The actual class sizes were poor and the second class, Improvers, will not be continuing.  Unfortunately there is nowhere for them to go as there are no other improvers classes they can merge into.  That’s a problem for the manageress to deal with, not the teachers, but it doesn’t show good management.  Tomorrow I’ve got coffee with Fred and Val at 12.30 and Scamp has coffee with Annette at 1.30.  Seems like bad use of time, but I don’t think it would do to merge these two classes!!

So coffee for both of us tomorrow and I’ll maybe take Scamp’s car down to the Village to get two new rear tyres.  Heavens, tyres don’t last well these days, they’re only 9 years old and the side walls are cracking already! Thunderstorms on  the horizon as well.

 

24ºc in Scotland – 27 June 2019

Out early to see a consultant at Monklands Hospital, then the day was our own.

Consultant took less than five minutes to sign me off as clear of any serious problems. That was a great start to the day.

From Airdrie we drove to Livingston because I was looking for a pair of decent trainers at the discount outlets there. Didn’t get any. What I did see were a pair of black shoes, the exact same model as the ones I was wearing. The shoes in the shop were black, like I said. Mine were a medium grey. Have they been bleached in the sun or washed in the rain. Probably a bit of both. Although I didn’t get trainers, Scamp got a new dress and we bought a new general purpose knife for the kitchen.

Drove home and the temperature from the car thermometer went up to 24ºc. Now that’s definitely “Taps Aff” weather, but I restrained myself an turned up the air con.

Back home Scamp got her sun cream on and then started cutting the front grass. I put my shorts on and drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal, crossed over and back along the old railway. Got a host of photos of damselflies and hoverflies. The PoD was a shot of a damselfly having its lunch, a smaller fly caught in flight. The actual damselfly is about 40mm head to tail.

The temperature we noted in the car continued well into the afternoon and I regretted not putting some of Scamp’s sun cream on my exposed skin. It was a beautiful day and if the weather fairies are to be believed, we should have a similar, if not hotter day tomorrow. We even had our dinner tonight outside in the garden such a treat eating in the great outdoors … in Scotland … without our coats on!

Tomorrow we are hoping to get the bus in to Glasgow and go for a walk, somewhere scenic.

Another Beautiful Summer’s Day – 21 June 2019

Actually it was Midsummer’s Day.

Today was a day for getting out, driving somewhere scenic and taking lots of photos, so we did none of these things. Instead, we lazed around all morning, then Scamp went out to meet the Witches for lunch at Milano Express. I had a meagre lunch of toast pizza, which to the uninitiated is a slice of bread with drizzled olive oil toasted both sides under the grill, then spread with the remainder of a tin of tomatoes on one side covered with cheese (preferably Mozzarella) and toasted to within an inch of its life. It’s actually very nice!

Afternoon was spent cutting out the pattern for a waistcoat that Scamp had bought for me last Christmas. It’s tricky cutting out the extremely thin tissue paper these patterns are printed on. Scissors are a bit slow, the rolling Alfa cutter is fast but inaccurate but the scalpel is almost ideal. That’s what I used, the scalpel. With the six pieces cut out and pinned to the wall, I felt in charge of the situation for the first time since I opened the pattern. Next I read, re-read, made notes and re-re-read the vague instructions written in a language new to me, using words like darts and pin-tack and selvage. I waited for Scamp to return from her lunch date to explain them to me and to bring me food in the form of a meat-feast pizza.

After I’d consumed the pizza and interrogated Scamp to find out what I was expected to do to assemble this waistcoat from the pieces of cloth, because it appear that the pattern is not the actual waistcoat itself, but just a jigsaw puzzle that you use to help create the pieces of cloth that in turn must be sewn together to make the aforementioned waistcoat. Who knew that waistcoats were so complicated? After having had that explained I went out for a walk to St Mo’s to find some photos. What I found was the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary you see here and it was PoD. I was playing around with the machine-gun like sequential shooting setting which fires off five frames per second in total silence for as long as you hold the shutter button down for. Forty odd frames in my case. All done in eight seconds. Try doing that with your Practika Nova!! From those forty odd frames I got one sharp one, well, two sharp frames that were seamlessly welded together to make the photo you see here.

Back home there was nothing worth watching on terrestrial TV, so I watched another episode of Good Omens on Prime. Great entertainment!

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll go out somewhere scenic and take lots of photos.

Out for a walk – 20 June 2019

It’s been a long time since I’ve been down to Auchinstarry. Today I resolved to fix that.

The only thing of note I had on my To Do list today was to wash and reproof my ‘rainy coat’. To keep it company in the machine, I added Scamp’s blue jacket. They’re now dry and ready for use again.

After that and a morning plugging away at the computer and putting a gallery of photos from Wales on the blog (have a look if you like), I decided to go for a walk. After all, I’ve got a new pair of good boots and it would be a shame not to wear them. Walked along the railway path and then across the plantation. From there it was an easy stroll back along the canal. I thought I’d try for another Focus Stack in the wild this time, but it wasn’t to be. Light too low, hand too shaky, shutter speed to low. Take your pick, it just didn’t work, although I didn’t know that at the time. It was only once I got back home I noticed that some frames were shaken and some were just out of focus. I’ll try again another time. Got today’s PoD of the swan family out for a paddle along the Forth & Clyde canal. Also got a couple of close up shots of beasties.

Dinner was Sea Bass with Cornish potatoes and broccoli from somewhere else. Not a lot more to say about today, other than it was a bright day for the most part with a sprinkling of rain occasionally and torrential rain at other times, but mainly bright sunshine. Colours were shining clearly and the boots seemed to enjoy being out for a walk.

Tomorrow Scamp is booked for lunch with the Witches in the afternoon and I have no plans. Maybe a bit of light painting will go down well.

Another walk for everyone – 13 June 2019

Today the forecast wasn’t too clear, so we went for a shorter walk, closer to home, then yet another for the hardy.

Before we left, Jaime showed us his amazing darts prowess.  He’d managed to get two darts in the outer ring of the bull and the final one in  the bull itself.  Quite astounding from a man who couldn’t get all three darts in the board yesterday!  Some would doubt him and say he’d set it up, but who could be so mean hearted?

JIC and Sim were the nominated drivers and they took all seven of us, eight if you include Vixen a couple of miles along the road to a forest walk along the river. It was a pleasant enough walk without any hills, but with some boggy bits. Vixen seemed to enjoy the opportunity to demonstrate her swimming skills in the river, although the water was fairly rushing down and quite brown. I got a second chance at photographing the red and black insect we’d seen earlier in the week. It turned out to be a froghopper (Cercopis vulnerata). We also came across a little lizard which Scamp got some good photos of and so did I. PoD went to the long lazy drip sliding off a fern frond. I’m thinking it might have been a slug or snail trail that had attracted the rain water. Looked quite remarkable anyway.

Back home for lunch and then JIC, Sim, Sophie and us were off again. This time to investigate the old railway line halfway down the road from the house. It’s a steep decline to the bridge over the railway and I wasn’t looking forward to the climb back up! We walked part of the way along, but as we were cooking tonight, we decided not to go the full stretch of the path and came back early. I was right. The climb back up the road to the house was hard work, but we made it without stopping.

Dinner tonight was Fish and Egg Curry. An unlikely combination that actually works very well.