You got a fast car – 9 December 2018

Today was a driving day for me and a passenger day for Scamp.

I’d intended going out early as I knew I’d be up about 8am because Scamp was getting picked up at 9.15 to go Falkirk to get the coach that was taking her and the other Witches to Norbreck Castle Hotel in Blackpool for an overnight with dinner. Tina Turner and Neil Diamond would be there, but it was uncertain whether they would be played by the same person or by a couple. Who knows (or cares). It was when I saw Scamp off I noticed James’s car was still covered in ice and then, that mine too was frozen solid. On that basis, it might be a good idea to just have a cup of coffee before attempting to drive.

A well as the coffee, I thought this would be an opportunity to tidy out the top drawer in the ‘Painting Room (i.e. back bedroom) and that’s what I did. One old dead tablet went in the bag and one old dead Kobo e-reader joined it along with a host of boxes, odd scraps of cardboard and paper napkins for soaking up watercolour washes. Things that seem to find their way into that drawer.

With a bag full of junk of different types I drove to B&Q to look for rat traps. You see, the ‘rat man’ came last Tuesday and then again on Wednesday and declared us free of the little beasties, but we’re both sure they were just playing Hide ’n’ Seek with him. I’m not so easily put off and even better, I have a Plan. The first phase is to trap the beasts, except they only had cheap traps in B&Q and I had decided to get the better Rentokil ones. No problem, I’d drive to Bishopbriggs after I’d dumped the rubbish. Rubbish disposed of, off I went.

Now the Juke is a strange car. Two weeks ago and early last week before the Lurgi struck, it was running like an arthritic slug. Today it was raring to go. Pulling at the leash like a mad thing. I must give it a rest more often … and put some high fibre fuel in it too to keep its engine from getting clogged. Maybe it’s the sunshine that’s making it run better, because there was a wall to wall blue sky today. Got the traps and drove home to set them. I put two in the loft and then put a mousetrap in under the kitchen floor. Let’s see what they produce.

With hands carefully washed, I started to make my dinner which was Pork Osso Bucco, slow cooked and with a Mirepoix (!) which apparently is a sauce made from vegetables. I spoke to Scamp while I was making it.  Of course, she already knew what a Mirepoix was.  Her hotel is on the seafront at Blackpool but on the outskirts.  She even sent me a picture of her ‘sea view’.  Yes, you can see the sea, if you look very closely! My dinner tasted lovely. I restrained myself and left half for tomorrow. Best recipe I’ve found for that meat.

In the evening I watched the final ’Trust’ and most, well some, well very little was made clear, but the tale was well told and the acting from everyone apart from Paul’s mother was superb. Spoke to Jamie for a while and found out more about their Welsh excursion. Then watched Fast and Furious 6 trying to work out which parts had been filmed in Glasgow. I saw two definites and two maybes.

PoD was from the drive back from Bishopbriggs. I really liked the way the white house stood out from the sky.

Tomorrow? More tidying and checking the traps.

Rain again – 29 November 2018

Yet more of the wet stuff, falling from the sky.

Not to worry though, I was booked with Fred today for coffee and a healthy dose of cynicism. Before that, a half-hearted attempt at tidying up the back bedroom. If you’d taken a photo of the room before I started and another when I’d finished, it would have been like one of those puzzle with two pictures with slight differences between them. You would have been hard put to find ten differences between the two pictures. Scamp meanwhile was out buying a ????????? (sorry, redacted Hazy) for a certain parcel. When she returned with the secret item (or was that items?) she parcelled them up, bagged them and posted them.

My coffee and politics was timetabled for 12 noon today. That’s early for Fred and me on a Thursday. What a horrible Thursday it was too. Wind with lots and lots of rain and a dark grey sky. Not an ideal day for driving, but much better than walking! Brexit was the main topic today. So much so that his Cortado got cold. Costa coffee is poor at the best of times, but cold Costa coffee is a sip too far. From Brexit we moved on to central heating boilers. I’m not sure how we did it, but wouldn’t it be nice if the newsreaders could use that technique to segue to something else, anything else. A few other topics met with our attention, but eventually it was time to go. The prohibitive parking regulations in Cumbersheugh make you twitchy if you’ve been sitting having coffee (and cold coffee) for too long, just incase the blue meanies are checking your car’s standing time.

Back home I wanted to put the holiday cases away and at the same time check out the loft for our unwanted visitors. To assist with both, we brought the Christmas decorations down and cleared out some unloved and unwanted junk. There’s no other way to describe a 47 year old rucksack, a beer brewing bucket with a gigantic dead spider in it, an equally unwanted beer barrel, a mouldy bag for a music keyboard and those were the interesting things! I made my way through the warren of scantlings that make up the roof trusses. I found the evidence I was half hoping, half dreading finding. It looked like droppings to me. Maybe mice or maybe something larger. I took a photo of the droppings with a 50p coin beside them to give and indication of scale for the man from NLC who failed to phone today.

Next job was to take the junk to the tip before we changed our minds and put them back up. No, the trapdoor was closed, the loft light was switched off and our minds were made up.

After disposing of them I took a run up the Palacerigg road in a short window of dry weather and got today’s PoD. It took a considerable bit of post-processing and a considerable time to get it up to a reasonable standard. I leave it up to you to decide if it was time well spent.

Tomorrow I will wait for the man from NLC to phone. Scamp may go in to Glasgow on an undisclosed sortie. Hopefully the rain will lessen.

On the Beach – 20 November 2018

We’ve been left. We’ve been right. Today we went straight ahead, across the road and down to the beach.

Paddled in the sea and walked right. Sea was cold but not as rough as the day we went to see the airies.

Walked up through the holiday houses and continued left into Puerto del Carmen and found the post boxes, loads of them! Posted the cards.

Stopped for lunch (burgers with chips) washed down with a beer and a G&T respectively in The Galleon II. A decent Irish pub. Earwigged a conversation between two ‘nice boys’ sitting behind. Watched the yachts sailing past far out in the sea, disappearing then reappearing behind some decorative trees.

Bought some stuff to take back home to the cold country. All the cheap shops are owned or run by Asians!

Back at the hotel Scamp sat and read by the pool and I went to get more photos. Most interesting was a locust and an unconfirmed sighting of a Shrike. I’m beginning to think that the ‘dragonfly’ I was was in fact a locust. They make the same clattering noise with their wings that a dragonfly makes and are just large enough to be mistaken for a small dragon.

Dinner was in the Mexican restaurant at the hotel. It was just ok. The strangest thing I had was Chicken with Mole sauce. The Mole sauce that the chicken is coated in is made from paprika and dark chocolate. Very strange how the sweet spicy sauce works with the chicken. Quesedilas were good to. Afterwards we got an inside seat at the bar with no problem. Not so many German voices now, more English and Irish.

Played UNO and I think I won, but not by the margin Scamp achieved last night.

Tonight’s ‘Acrobat’ show was poor. Two guys who were the acrobats and a girl whose job was to shout “Woo!” at random intervals. Her specialty seemed to be dropping hula hoops. One of the guys was a ‘strongman’. The other did the best act of the night inside a giant hula hoop, looking like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man.

Sat listening to a singer who thought she was better than she was, accompanied by a good guitarist. Had one dance. Other dancing couple had one dance too. I don’t think the singer wanted us there disturbing her concert. Good luck with the singing career dear, just don’t give up the day job.

Sat on the balcony with G&Ts watching the stars.

A walk in the woods – 10 November 2018

Today started late, but not late enough for me. I was knackered.

Yesterday transitioned into today, early in the morning when our visitors left after a great night. Two retired couples comparing notes. When we finally got to bed after loading the dishwasher and tidying some of the detritus away, it must have been close to 1am and we’re not used to these late nights. So, it was a fairly late morning wakeup. Completed the remainder of the clean-up operation and finally settle down with a coffee and a sudoku sitting on the couch in the sunlight. Beautiful morning after a night of heavy rain I believe although luckily I was in the Land of Nod while the rain fell.

Scamp eventually encouraged me to drive us to some place where we could go for a walk in the fresh air. Her first suggestion was The Kelpies which, while interesting wasn’t as interesting as her second suggestion, Chatelherault for a walk through the trees. We set off for Hamilton and a walk through the trees.

It turned out to be a much longer walk than either of us had anticipated, but at least this time we were well prepared with boots and walking poles. My pole doubles as a monopod, so that makes it doubly useful for steadying the camera. Took the ‘Big Dog’ and walked as far as the closed off path to the “White Bridge”. Well, I walked on to see the White Bridge (Scamp waited at the bottom of the steps). There is little left of the White Bridge now because  unfortunately it has been stripped of its floor and handrails, so is now simply two steel beams crossing the Avon Water. Took some photos and then walked back to meet up with Scamp. Then we had to climb thousands, literally thousands of steps up to the High Parks and then back to the cafe and a hard won coffee and half a scone each.

Drove back through the heavy rain that got heavier as we approached Cumbersheugh. Dinner tonight was the remains of yesterday’s Steak Pie for me and yesterday’s Rats for Scamp. I enjoyed today’s walk, but those steps are a real killer.

We have no plans for tomorrow as yet, but we may go in and visit Shona.

Out looking for foties – 5 November 2018

It’s Monday. It’s a Gems day. I need an excuse to get out.

Dull, damp, uninspiring morning. Hoping it would get better (brighter) later, I trawled through some photos in Flickr looking for inspiration. Saw a photo of Loch Lomond with the hills just dusted with snow. That would do. Millarochy Bay would be good if the light got a bit better. As one o’ clock drew nearer and no decent light appeared, I was getting worried that it might end up being the Luggie Water or even St Mo’s again, then I had a brainwave, or something like it. I’d go up over the Tak Ma Doon road and see what the weather was like on the other side of the hills, and that’s what I did.

Passed a few cyclists on the climb of the Tak Ma Doon into the clouds and was glad I was in a car. Had a near miss with a wee white Citroen near the top of the climb, but I needn’t have worried. The wee thing looked as if it was made from paper-thin steel and would probably just have bounced off the Juke and gone flying over the dyke and down the hill using the ‘alternative route’. Crested the final rise and yes, the weather did look a bit lighter on the other side, although it was difficult to be sure because I was still in the low cloud. Noticed that the Faughlin Reservoir is now a stocked trout fishery with a stonking price of £25 per day. I used to fish it regularly some years ago for nothing. Then I remembered that that was thirty years ago! Drove on to Carron Reservoir and parked for a very realistic £2.

Walked up to past the dam and took some shots near a wooden seat dedicated to Pam Jackson, but couldn’t find anything to say who she was.
Walked on and tried some bracketed exposures of the loch, but the light was fading, so I headed back to the car.

The PoD was taken near that seat and nearly got my feet wet again. Processed in ON1 2018 and in Lightroom. It gives the feel of the place. I would go back again on a day when the light was better.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but I’m sure something will come up to grab our attention.

Perf – 30 October 2018

Today we were off to Perf. Gateway to the best coffee beans in Scotland, if not the world.

Drove up to Perf on a beautiful clear morning. That said, it became a bit cloudier as we travelled north. I’d come with gifts for the Perf folk. I donate my two bike carriers to the bike shop across the road from the car park. Neither of them fit either of our cars, and are now superfluous to our needs. They were just cluttering up the house and were going to be dumped, so if someone can get the benefit of them, all the better. I also took a load of computer books to the Oxfam shop in Perf. I’ve read them and used them well, but now I usually consult the InterWeb if I’m in need of information and besides, they were well out of date.

Next we had to decide what we were doing for lunch. Scamp had an Itison voucher for Cafe Tabou which is now under new ownership. We decided to give them a try and see if they’d kept up the excellent standard of the previous owners. For starter, Scamp had Roast Red Pepper Chick Pea Ragout with Tempura of Fish and I had Salad Du Chef.
For main she had Breaded Plaice Fillet with Chips(!) and I had French Black Pudding & Pork Belly. She was perfectly happy with her selection, I felt the main was a bit tasteless, although the caramelised apples and cider sauce was lovely. Worth another Itison voucher some time. When we came out the streets were just drying after a heavy rain shower and you could feel that there was still a bit of rain on the breeze.

After the lunch, we went for walk to get the coffee and tea that I so desperately needed. Then a walk along to the the viewing gallery over the River Tay. Beautiful light on the trees on the far bank and the sun was shining now on the bridge, so that became my PoD after it was de-fished (no fish were injured in the operation) and some work done on the levels. Samyang 7.5 is a really versatile lens.

With the river inspected, we headed back to the car and the drive home through some beautiful light with nowhere to stop and record it. We also passed through some heavy rain showers that had probably created that beautiful light on the hills.

Sat and sketched my teacup and two digestive biscuits for today’s Inktober sketch. Thirty sketches in and only one left to do tomorrow. Tomorrow as I’m sure you know by now is one of those busy days with two dancing classes and the driving to get there, there’s not much time for dawdling, so I already have a plan for tomorrow’s sketch. It will need a bit of preparation, part of which I have already done with the assistance of an Excel spreadsheet. Art and computing are not the easiest bedfellows, but hopefully one will help with the other if I have my way.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Anything else will just have to fit in with that!

Walking in sunshine – 29 October 2018

Today I thought I’d go to the gym, or maybe a swim. Instead, I did a bit of sunbathing.

Well, Sunbathing might be a bit of a stretch, but a walk in the sun, now that would be a more pleasant way to spend the afternoon rather than swimming in a crowded pool or sweating it out in the gym.

That’s what I did. While Gems were being put through their paces I was making paces along the canal and across the plantation then back to the car. The light was beautiful this afternoon. One of those days with golden light. Managed to miss a lot of the good light, but also grabbed some too so I did bring some of the sunshine home with me in the little black boxes with the glass things in the front. PoD went to the one you see at the top of the page. It took a bit of post-processing which I won’t bore you with, but it went through a couple of pieces of software until I was happy with the result.

Driving home I came to the roundabout at the bottom of the road to find a blue car, maybe a Ka sitting on its roof with the windscreen in smithereens an the doors wide open. A crowd round it seemed to be consoling a young asian girl who looked as if she was in shock. Not the sort of thing you see everyday! When we went out to salsa tonight I noticed that two of the steel barrier poles on the roundabout had been flattened, I presume by a flying blue car. Nobody seemed to be seriously injured, but someone was not going to have a happy Monday night.

After I came home I settled down to sketch a bowl of pears that was just sitting there waiting to be recorded on paper. I was quite pleased with the way it went and decided to put it away and have a better look with a more critical eye when we came back from salsa.

Tonight was Jamie Gal’s Halloween Party – for the advanced class. Some dancers who had fallen away a bit appeared to bolster our numbers and we all had a great time. Played the Hat Game. Everyone tries to grab a hat from the present wearer’s head and when the music stops the wearer gets a prize. Simple and funny. In the past it has led to fights on the dance floor with bodies rolling around shouting “IT’S MINE!”. We were a bit more restrained tonight. Jamie had a new game “Sort of ready”. Which usually means he has the gist of it, but some of the a lot of the details need ironing out. The basis of the game was that we’d dance a Rueda until somebody stopped the music, then there would be a task given out. The task was to grab a roll of toilet paper from a stack in the middle of the floor and wrap up your partner like a mummy. I thought we did well, but Thomas went just that extra mile and ended up with some toilet paper stuffed up his nose as well as being wrapped in it. Probably the best game Jamie has invented recently. He tried to film some of our legendary Dancing In The Dark Rueda with his drone, but it didn’t want to play nice tonight and I think he aborted that part.

Came home and reviewed the sketch, changed some bits, but basically just cleaned it up and posted it. Inktober 2018 No 29 in the bag.

It’s cold tonight again. Just 0.5ºc. Tomorrow we may go to Perth.

Windy Willy – 23 October 2018

Windy Willy was whirling past the house this morning.

Willy went to bother some other folks in the afternoon, but has returned to blow on us this evening.

It was a day of eating out of the freezer, for no other reason than we’ve a lot of stuff in there that’s needing used up. Scamp chose a chunk of salmon and I chose a short rib. The salmon just needed defrosting, but the short rib needed a marinade to get to work on it once it had defrosted. I made my usual marinade. It’s got four basic ingredients:

  • An acid
  • A sugar
  • A salt
  • A flavouring

Today’s mix was

  • White wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar for the acid
  • A squirt of honey for the sugar
  • A shake of soy sauce for the salt
  • A spoonful of mustard for the flavour

You can make it using your own ingredients, but the basic Acid, Sugar, Salt, Flavouring mix works well. There’s probably a Phd Chemist who could explain why it works 😉 but I’m not really bothered, it just works for me.
I put the marinade into a poly bag, shook it a bit to make everything mix properly and then dumped the meat in it and left it to rest in the fridge for an hour. While I was waiting for the marinade to work its magic, I baked a pizza from a bit of dough I’d taken from the freezer with the meat. Pizza wasn’t startling, but it did for lunch. I’d also brought some dough from the freezer, so I baked that into a loaf. When it was done I fried the meat in some oil in the Le Creuse, added some chopped onion and a chopped pepper then put the lid on an put it in the oven and turned the gas down to gas 3. It worked away at that for an hour or so before I turned it down and added some water and a chopped carrot. Lots of work, but fairly easy work.

Scamp wasn’t for going out, so I went out for a walk along the Luggie and that’s where PoD came from. Slow shutter speed this time. No complicated Photoshop actions and scripts. Must look for a decent pair of boots. My usual boots have no grip in muddy clay and they’re beginning to leak. Also got Inktober 23 done. It wasn’t until I came home that I realised that I’d drawn the exact same sketch before.  Finally found it on Flickr.  It was drawn in July last year.

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll be dancing if we can get past the closed streets because Hollywood is coming to Glasgow!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The calm before the storm – 11 October 2018

Today was quite bright when we woke, but soon it dulled over. A taste of what’s to come.

Storm Callum is due to make landfall during the night, but today was a mediocre day which started well, but deteriorated as the day progressed. Yes, we did have some sunny spells, but they were short and not really all that sweet. Lots of sharp heavy showers. After I’d finished my Sudoku this morning, I decide to abandon my proposed trip to Glasgow as the first of the heavy showers dropped on us. What’s the point of sitting in a damp bus to wander round Glasgow in the rain, getting wetter all the time and then to get the damp bus home again. I’m not selling it to you, am I? No, better to just sit here and watch the rain, hoping that the rain would go off for long enough for me to get some photos.

After lunch, the rain stopped and Scamp went out to buy Asda while I took the car out for a run round the outskirts of Cumbersheugh looking for photos. Up round Abronhill, passing my old school on the way and impressed with the look of the buildings. Passed Abronhill and then down to Haggs. I was intending to go for a walk along the canal, but the dry spell finished and the rain came down again. Enough. I changed my plans and headed home via Kilsyth without any photos.

By the time I got home, the rain had stopped and I risked taking a chance to get some photos over at St Mo’s before the next shower. I made it and that’s where today’s PoD came from. I was just heading home when the next shower arrived.

Tonight’s sketch was done while glancing at a dire programme with an unlikely storyline about three unlikely chefs driving round Italy to cook a meal for one of their number’s cousin’s wedding. Yes, it was that bad. Gordon Ramsay, Gino D’Acampo and an embarrassed looking Fred Sirieux. We were only watching it because there was nothing much else on TV and it was about Italy. I don’t mind swearing, in fact I do practise the skill myself, but I can’t stand Ramsay’s swearing for effect. The sketch isn’t all that great. I can’t blame the program for that, although I’d like to.

Tomorrow, I don’t think we’ll be going far although I’m meeting Fred for coffee at midday.