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Coming Down – 27 May 2018

“Coming down is the hardest thing”. That’s what the late Tom Petty said in “Learning to Fly”. It’s true and it’s even more true when you’re driving away from Skye and the sun is shining.

We left early, just after 10am, because we were ready and there seemed no point in prolonging the agony. The drive down was amazingly quiet, at least until we reached Rannoch Moor where we picked up some traffic. We stopped at the awkwardly named Lochan na h-Achlaise which apparently translates as Loch of the Armpit, or Loch Oxter. Anyway, that’s where I got PoD. It took a little longer to process than I’d anticipated. The basic levels and stuff was done in Lightroom and then I handed it over to ON1 for some more delicate make-up. The result went back into Lightroom for the final cropping and I’m more than happy with the final result.

Loch Oxter got quite noisy too with a collection of BMWs, Subaru Imprezas, Audis and assorted low riding Peugeots about 10 in all showing an impressive turn of speed as they turned the A82 into a drag strip. Noisy, dangerous and quite exhilaration, although others of the ‘blue rinse brigade’ were heard to say that “there’s no need for that” and “shouldn’t be allowed”. True, but that’s only because they were never young once. Some folk are born old.

Back on the road stopped for lunch at Morrisons in Fort William The next drag was a real drag. For about a mile and a half outside Callander we crawled forward in a long queue held there because of two sets of traffic lights. One set was true traffic lights at a junction and the other was a set of pedestrian lights where the ‘grannies’ were crossing and re-crossing the road just to annoy us drivers. Can’t they find somewhere better to spend their Sunday afternoon? I think it’s the same ones who where hissing and harrumphing about the folk of the testosterone brigade up at Loch Oxter.

Once we were past there, it was plain sailing all the way home. About 6 hours driving with half an hour out for lunch and half an hour out for Callander. That’s about average. It’s a long day and a long drive, but it has to be done and at least there weren’t very many potholes on the road.

Tomorrow is a relaxing day. Very little or no driving planned.

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Over the top end – 25 May 2018

As usual when we’re on Skye, the first day is a trip round the top end of the island.

A fairly late start to allow the alcohol in my system from last night to dissipate, just in case Nick the Chick’s meanies decided to stop us for any reason. So we left around 11am and pointed the Juke’s nose north. We managed to avoid a lot of potholes, broken verges and subsidence on our journey to Uig. We decided not to visit The Hungry Gull because it seemed a bit cheeky. Almost as if we were asking for a free lunch, which we weren’t. Then when we were climbing the hill out of Uig, we bumped into Wee Jacqueline and Betty (Cockapoo) out for a walk. Stopped to talk for a while, but eventually had to move on as we were getting black looks by locals and visitors alike as we were causing a road block. Stuff them.

We drove down the other side and had lunch at Jan’s Vans. We bought a wee delicate plant that looked a bit like an orchid, but obviously wasn’t because it was flowering in Skye. We visited Skye Batiks and scamp got a bag and another wee bag. I look at the shirts, but decided that £50 was a bit too much for a short sleeved shirt. On the way back to Staffin we took a detour to the slip and sat for an hour or so watching the waves crashing. Spoke to a bloke while I was taking photos of Thrift plants and he told me that a great white was allegedly cruising the straits between Skye and the mainland and that a pod of dolphins had been seen too. We had a look with binoculars, but saw nothing. Such a beautiful day though. Temperatures in the mid 20s and blue sky everywhere.

Back at Digg I went looking for photos on the croft. That’s where today’s PoD came from. It’s another of Murd’s Duds that have been sitting on the croft for years.

Spent the next few hours processing the shots.

Tomorrow we are going out or staying on the croft. There, it’s that decisive.

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Dancing by the loch side – 19 May 2018

Not us, although we’d have liked to have joined them.

It was a late start this morning, later than we’d anticipated. We both overslept so I’d guess we needed the sleep. Finally we decided that it was just stupid to waste such a lovely day and we got everything ready for a run to the country, to the start of the highlands, no less, to Loch Lubnaig. Seats, picnic basket with picnic, tripod, camera bag, paints (just in case). Off we went hoping that the Royal Wedding would keep the ladies glued to the TV and that the Scottish Cup Final would do the same form the gentlemen. We were right. Apart from a slight hiccup at Blair Drummond Safari park where the weans were being taken to see the monkeys (or vice versa) there were no traffic jams, not even in blue rinse Callander where it’s usually chock-a-block on any other Saturday. We drove on to the big car park on the loch side and got a place right away. Fantastic.

Walked down to the shore and felt a cool, nearly cold breeze. But what took our breath away was a group of four folk dancing a mini rueda in the water. Even better, we recognised the moves involved. It’s one of Jamie Gal’s favourite ways to terrify the advanced dancers. It looks so simple until you try it, then you know why it’s only for the advanced group. After that the group set up a full rueda and danced for a couple of tracks. It took all our willpower not to get up and join them. After their two ruedas and a group photo, they packed up, jumped in their minibus and left. It’s been suggested that they were from an Embra salsa group, but I’m not sure that’s right. The caller was definitely foreign, possible Spanish, possibly Cuban and there were other languages there too, none of them Embra accents.

With the entertainment gone, we sat down to lunch in the lee of the car. Still sitting in the sun, but avoiding the wind. Scamp had her factor 30 on just in case. After that, she sat and read for a while and I went for a walk to get some photos. The best one was taken with my iPhone on the shore of the loch and it became PoD. Just a wee dandelion flower washed up on the loch side.

When we were driving home, just after 2.30 the afternoon traffic was building up, so my guess is that as the wedding was now past, but the cup final was still to be played, it was the women who were out driving while the men stayed in to see twenty two other men kicking a ball around a piece of grass while thousands stood and watched.

By the time we got home the hazy clouds were solidifying and blotting out a lot more of the sun than they had when we were on the loch side. I think we can agree that we had the best of the day, despite a late start.

I spent the remainder of the day beating some flour, water and salt into what may or may not be a sourdough loaf tomorrow. It’s resting now in its basket to fluff up enough to bake tomorrow. I think Scamp wants to go to Glasgow tomorrow. Me? I’m not bothered, I had a grand day today.

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Going down South–10 May 2018

Like I said yesterday, today was going to be a busy day.  Woke at the usual time, but unusually, got up and got going right away.

Quick breakfast and then the slow bus to Glasgow.  Isn’t it strange to think if we had got the bus one hour earlier, it would have taken it as long to get to Glasgow as it would take to fly from Glasgow to London.  We weren’t in a rush though, we walked along three stance in the bus station to get the bus to the airport and then went through security and had a sort of lunch before getting the call to the gate and then on the plane to Stanstead.  JIC picked us up at the airport and drove us to see the ‘Devil Dog’ who was quite angelic compared with our last meeting over a year ago.  She seemed to accept us as ‘safe’ since we had been passed fit by her owners.

After settling in, downing a cup of tea, getting a tour of the garden and catching up with all things English, we settled down in the garden, enjoying the chat and the exploits of Vixen.  She really is much calmer and more settled than when we last saw her.  Still a funny dog, stalking pigeons, but never catching them.  Trying to square up to next door’s dogs who weren’t even in their garden.

Later in the evening we went for a walk across the fields with Jamie and Vixen and that’s where today’s PoD came from.  Beautiful light tonight.  It’s not surprising that everything is some much further progressed here.  Oil seed rape is almost past where back home it’s not even started flowering yet.

By the time we got back Sim had returned from work.  It was soon time for dinner which was Mackerel tray bake with rice.  Very messy to eat, but lovely.

We watched a Black Mirror episode at night which I can’t get out of my head.  Could they really plug in to someone’s memories as easily as that?  I’m sure it’s not that far fetched.

Vixen decide it was time for us all to go to bed and actually I was ready for an early night.

Tomorrow we go to Baldock I believe.

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Magic Millarochy – 30 April 2018

I got up at just after 8.30 this morning to make the breakfast and to fire up the oven because it was sourdough baking time again.

Yes, I’d made the leaven on Saturday and used it on Sunday to make the dough. This time I thought I’d made a stiffer dough, but when I left the dough to stand ( you don’t knead sourdough with this recipe, you fold it and then allow it to stand for half an hour or so) it became quite wet and sloppy again. That said, it had been rising happily overnight in it’s cane basket and now looked ready to bake, so I whacked it (gently) on to the pizza stone that came out blazing hot from the oven and it promptly slumped down again like a balloon that was blown up a week ago and is now a bit slack. Oh well, nothing ventured etc. I hacked into the top of it to give it space to rise and put it into the fiery furnace for about 45 minutes. When I took it out and tapped the bottom it sounded ’toom’ which was one of my mum’s words. It means empty or hollow. Try using it some time. Anyway, a hollow sound is good.

With my loaf cooling on the rack, I started to plan the rest of my day. It was a beautiful day too, Blue skies all round and a temperature that was just entering the teens. This was a Gems day, so I thought I’d go a run for a change and chose Millarochy Bay as my destination. After sharing the first cut of the loaf with Scamp, I used it to make up a packed lunch and with a flask and the makings of coffee I got in the car. Set the satnav for the postcode of the campsite near the bay and off I went. I followed the directions until I reached a sign that said ‘Road Closed’. Little was I to know that would be the first of many. Made the recommended detour and after being stuck behind a slow moving truck full of asphalt, no doubt going somewhere to fill in potholes, I took the turning to my next ‘Road Closed’. Found the detour again and was almost at my turn off when I came across a third ‘Road Closed’. This time my turn off came just before the road did close. After that it was plain sailing and I arrived at Millarochy Bay just about fifteen minutes after the satnav had initially predicted.

The carpark was very, very busy, but I was lucky enough to find a free space. Had my lunch looking out at a view similar to the PoD you see at the top of the page. Went for a walk and got a few photos, well just over fifty, but who’s counting. It was still a beautiful day and it was getting even warmer. Unfortunately it was soon time to go so I had to pack up and head back. This time the satnav took me out towards Stirling and although it was a greater travelling distance, it was on much faster roads, much wider roads too.

Started processing the photos in Lightroom and also in ON1 which I bought last night. It’s not nearly as bad as I’d initially thought and is really very adaptable. You get lost in it very easily with all the options and variations available. Some of the effects are a bit tacky and probably not much use, but some are very useful. More on this app as I dig deeper in to its potential uses.

Salsa tonight was a bit underwhelming. Too many leaders in the 6.30 class so I helped out in Will’s. Jamie’s was disappointing. Too many obscure and pointless moves now. Just because they are weird, they aren’t necessarily wonderful. Salsa moves have to be stylish or adventurous. The ones we’ve been doing for the last month have been neither. No Salsa next Monday as it’s a Bank Holiday and probably none for us on Wednesday because he won’t be taking the class. That may mean Shannon which would not be good or perhaps Irene and Andrew which I’d rather avoid.

Tomorrow Scamp’s car goes in for MOT, so we have a free day after we drop it off.

Oh, one last thing. We were driving home and came to the traffic lights at Charing Cross in Glasgow and noticed a sign saying M8 Closed Eastbound (that’s us). Oh no! The curse of the Road Closed rears its ugly head again. When the lights turned green, everybody seemed to ignore it, so that’s what we did too and there were no road works to be seen. Probably somebody’s idea of a joke, just to annoy me!

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An exciting F1 GP – 29 April 2018

For once, it really was a Formula 1 Grand Prix filled with thrills and spills and best of all, Vettel didn’t get a podium.

We both did a bit of light gardening this morning although as usual, I did the lightest possible while Scamp got stuck in and did the heavy stuff and was constantly planning changes, alterations and improvements to the layout of the plants. It’s what she does best. Me? I just footer around the edges pruning things a bit and thinking about planting things. Today I thought about planting peas and potatoes. Didn’t actually do any planting, but I thought about it, then decided that tomorrow would be a better day to do the work … or maybe Tuesday would be a better day. Hmm.  After that I did a bit more pruning.  Used the hairclippers to give myself ‘a Number 4 all over’.  I’ve had worse, fairly often and had to get Scamp to tidy up the bits I couldn’t reach.  Saved a tenner!

Watched the Baku GP with crashes galore, punctures galore and even two team mates crashing into one another. Oh how we laughed when Vettel performed what used to be called a ‘Banzai’ move and forgot he’d need to brake for the corner that was fast approaching. Went from first to fourth in one easy move. Such a shame <snigger>.

After the race we had to get ready sharpish to drive to Paisley for a tapas meal before Salsa. Food was good and I must give Shannon full marks for a sensible improvement to the ordering procedure which used to be a shambles. Now it’s a much reduced menu, but the food comes out far quicker.

After the tapas, we had a styling class with Will and although styling is not my thing, (you can tell that by today’s DIY crewcut) I did enjoy the class but maybe my partners didn’t think very much of my attempts at styling. It was a bit of fun and it would have got the dancing off to a good start, except that nobody wanted to dance after that, they all wanted to talk. We did get a few dances and I even managed to dance with two former classmates and also with one of the new ‘Improvers’.

On the road home I got today’s PoD which was taken just outside Moodiesburn. Who would have thought it would be so photogenic.

Tomorrow I may go out looking for photos after I’ve done a bit of alteration to my ‘raised bed’ Going to drill a few holes in the woodwork to erect a frame for a pea net. Guess what I’ll be planting soon after that hopefully!

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Somewhere Nice – 19 April 2018

We said yesterday that today we’d go somewhere nice. We did.

I’d half intended that we’d get up fairly early and go somewhere for a walk today. It was the other half that won in the end. The half that said “Well, it’s pretty dull, but it might get better if I finish this chapter.” I finished the chapter. In fact we both finished a few chapters, but it was still dull outside. Finally, when Scamp asked me if I wanted the coffee maker switched on, I made the decision that we should go and chase the sun. East seemed the best bet, so we pointed the Juke at Fife and then Kinross and drove to Loch Leven.

Managed to find a parking space under some Scots Pines where rooks were busy building nests. We were just about ready to go for our walk when Scamp found out the truth in the expression about not shitting in the nest. The rooks were being very careful not to mess up the nest and dumping their ‘doings’ over the side and some of it splattered on her hair. Thankfully I just caught some on my jeans. While I was wiping her hair with a tissue, I did think about telling her that it’s meant to be lucky. I decided to bite my tongue on this occasion!

We settled on a clockwise walk round the loch and found that it was just as boring as the anti-clockwise walk we’d done many times before. We walked until we caught sight of Loch Leven’s Larder, the cafe we were going to have lunch in. We both considered walking on, but finally decided to leave that for another day, because the promised sunshine still hadn’t arrived. We could see it in the distance across the loch and also away to the west – the direction we’d come from. We walked back to the car and the scenery was better in that direction. Saw some deer down by the loch side and then spotted a pheasant in the woods. Other than that and some yellow flowers there wasn’t much to recommend the walk. We walked along this path one day a few winters ago and it looked beautiful all frosted under a blue sky. It was nothing like that today. Having said that, it was on the return journey I got the PoD of a farm. The light on the far field was a lucky. Usually I have to fake these things, but today the light lit it up for me.

Went to Loch Leven’s Larder for lunch.  It wasn’t as busy as I’ve seen it, but still doing a fair trade. Years ago it was just a rough and ready farm cafe that served good food. Now it’s a cafe bolted on to a deli a kitchen shop, an ice cream parlour and a shop selling overpriced tat. Ok, maybe that’s being a bit harsh, and it is catering to a certain demographic. I’m not in that group.  While we were having lunch the sun was just coming out and the view across the loch was beautiful.  Just our luck.  We were inside when the sun was out!

Drove home using the satnav after I took a wrong turning. Stopped for a while at Torryburn in Fife and there’s a couple of shots of it on Flickr if you’re interested.

Highlights for us:

  • Walking in warm weather
  • Watching swans taking off and landing
  • Light reflecting on glider’s wings

Lowlights:

  • Don’t walk under rooks nest building!
  • Wee black flies!

Tomorrow I think Scamp wants to do some gardening. I may cycle if the weather’s as warm as today.

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The day I met HAL 9000 and lived to tell the tale – 5 April 2018

Today was a technology fest and more lies from Currys.

Scamp was out singing with Gems today, so I was off the leash! Started off in Glasgow at what was Val and my stamping ground at PC World in Finnieston. Oh dear, how this place has gone downhill. It used to be THE place for the PC aficionados. Now it sells washing machines and fridge-freezers and some PCs. I’d already checked before I left the house and the Linx 12×64 was in stock and on display. Despite all my checking I couldn’t see the little black plastic devil anywhere. Eventually one of the ‘assistants’ (AKA Sales Droids) asked if he could help. I told him I was looking for the elusive Linx and he seemed to know what I was talking about. He tried to check on one of the expensive laptops if they had them in stock, but couldn’t get the website to work. Warning bells were ringing. I told him I’d just have a wander around and see if I could locate one myself. He did eventually find that they had them in stock and even brought out the box, but agreed that there wasn’t one on display. I told him that’s not what the website said, but he had an answer for that. It’s a mistake on the website. I told him I wasn’t interested and went out.

I checked in Office Outlet next door. It used to be Staples – when it was a real shop. Now it’s a big partly empty barn with very little to recommend it. They had even fewer laptops than PCW. I couldn’t let it go. Back in to PCW, approached a group of Sales Droids and asked to speak to a manager. Every one of them turned in a different direction, then an assistant manager (apparently referred to as an AI or Programmer) said the manager was dealing with a customer (aren’t they always?) and could she help. I told her my story of the mistaken website and how the Sales Droid had found the box, but no displayed computer. She offered to get the Droid to open the box. Did he need the AI’s permission or did he need re-programming for this task. I told her she was missing the point, but the intense look in her eyes and the sweet smile didn’t falter and I was reminded of oh so many SF films. I just left before they started repeating “I’m sorry Dave I’m afraid I can’t do that …”. I was so glad when the automatic doors opened to allow me to exit.

Drove around for a while, but never saw a Linx 12×64 in any of the Curry’s PC World places I visited, but now I understand why the assistants are called Sales Droids. They’re pretty tame really. It’s the programmers that are the dangerous ones.

Today’s PoD is of the Campsie Fells under their snow covering. Not as dramatic as yesterday evening, but still quite pretty.

This is the sourdough loaf I made when I came back from my brush with HAL 9000. It’s not perfect, but it’s a start. The photo makes it look better than reality. It was a bit heavy in the middle. Still not got the proportions of Production to flour and water. It’s a start and I’m hoping it will get better.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. If it’s as lovely a day as today, we’ll go somewhere nice for a walk. We can only hope.

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Huntigowk – 1 April 2018

That’s what my mum used to call April fool. Probably meant Hunt the Gowk (fool).

Today we were going out for a drive and hoping for a walk too. Scamp’s first suggestion was Devilla Forest, but when we got there, the circular car park was full and there were cars parked everywhere. On to Scamp’s suggestion number 2 which was Kirkcaldy and a walk to see the seals. Not really so bad as Devilla is about halfway between Cumbersheugh and Kirkcaldy.

We may have been about half way there, distance wise, but the twisty turny road and the 20mph zones made it feel much longer. It didn’t help when I decided to go a shortcut and found after a mile that the road was closed. OK, there was a sign in Burntisland, but it didn’t say clearly which road was closed. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! Finally got to Kirkcaldy and parked with a great view of the crashing waves. Sat watching them for a while before we got out and got walking. Luckily we’d both brought boots because the path we were walking along was quite mucky. As usual, almost everyone else had a dog with them. I think we need to get a dog. Probably not a real one though. I remember JIC had a wee pull-along daschund. Maybe we should look it out and take it with us on our next walk. Then everyone will think we’re ‘normal’ walkers. Anyway, we found the ‘castle’ which is called Seafield Tower and used to be a grade B listed building, but was delisted from Category B in 2015 and has been a designated a Scheduled Monument, which smacks of “I wash my hands of it” by Historic Scotland.

It appeared that the seals which are usually there in herds sunning themselves on the rocks were on their Easter holidays and had jetted off to sunnier climes. I can’t blame them, with the prospect of more snow on the way tomorrow. However, we walked on a bit further in the vain hope of seeing some of the fat blubbery mammals. We’d have been better going up to Cumbersheugh town centre. We’d have seen a tumble-down ruin there and lots of fat blubbery mammals. Ah, but the sun was shining here!

Lunch was a cup of instant coffee and a Mars bar when we got back to the car. Then after a quick spin round Morrisons for bread, we took a much more sensible road home with no 20mph zones. Drove across the new Forth Road Bridge and home.

PoD is the view through the square window. One of the few left in Seafield Tower.  That really was a beautiful day and an interesting walk.  Isn’t it great when the sun shines and you’ve got someone you love to walk with.

Tomorrow is a day off. No dancing. No Gems. What will we do? I’ll tell you tomorrow DV.

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Happy Birthday, Birthday Girl – 24 March 2018

Today is Scamp’s Birthday.

Because it was Scamp’s birthday it was my turn to make the breakfast. I also brought up the presents for her to open. After that, Hazy phoned, then we waited for the post to arrive with Hazy’s prezzy. An exciting morning.

Drove down to Troon for a walk along the beach before we went to lunch at Scott’s of Troon. On the way down, Scamp got a FaceTime call from Jaime and Madeleine from Trinidad! Most unexpected and so nice to see them again, although I didn’t contribute much to the conversation as I was driving.

Troon was busy because it was a lovely bright sunny day. Parked by the sea wall and walked along the esplanade to the sand dunes, then back along the beach to the car park. That’s where I saw the Micra driver who thought he/she was a motorcyclist. Would these people park in a disabled space? Probably not, but they think it’s fair game to park in a space for motorcycles. It would have been good if a hulking big Harley had parked right behind them, preferably with a hulking big Harley rider sitting in the saddle. That didn’t make PoD. The accolade went to THE best fig in Morrisons.

Lunch in the conservatory of Scotts was lovely, and went as follows:

Scamp:

  • Alex Vause Gin cocktail (Hic!)

  • Selection of breads (shared)

  • Smoked haddock, king prawn and pea risotto

  • Sticky Toffee Pudding Sundae

  • Coffee

Me:

  • Selection of breads (shared)

  • Roast breast of chicken with carrot puree, veg, fondant potatoes and black pudding & chorizo bon bons

  • Mini Eton Mess

  • Coffee

After that we poured ourselves into the car and drove home via Morrisons, still in the sunshine that someone had ordered for Scamp’s birthday. Whoever you were, thank you. It was worth every penny.

A lovely day with a lovely lady!

Tomorrow? Back to the real world. Hoping to go in to Glasgow with Fred to an art sale.