Half an hour of sunshine – 30 November 2018

That’s about all we got today. Took the opportunity and said thank you very much.

Today’s weather didn’t appear to be fierce enough to qualify for a name, but it was a bit windy and a lot wet. Drove Scamp to the train station for her expedition into the heart of a Glasgow Christmas. Do you know, yesterday I used the word ‘sortie’ to describe today’s visit. Last night, when I was reading the blog entry for the 29th November 2017, I discovered that I’d used exactly the same word for exactly the same visit! A creature of habit, that’s me. After dropping Scamp off at the station in the rain, I drove to Tesco to get some veg for tonight’s dinner which was going to be Aloo Saag, but later changed to Paella.

Back home I’d intended tidying up the bedroom (again). Again, it didn’t happen. Got a phone call from the Environmental Health to say that the Rodent Investigator would call on Tuesday. That should give me plenty of time to tidy that room … perhaps!

In the afternoon, I decided that Paella would be a lot easier to make than Aloo Saag, so I drove to Kilsyth to get the makings. Waiting to pay at the till Scamp texted to say she was on the way home by train. Luckily the station is on the road home, so I just managed to get there before the train arrived in the rain. From just after 10am until about 2.30pm the rain had been doing its best to make life miserable in the central belt of Scotland. After we drove home the sun came out. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity and grabbed my camera bag, put on my leaky boots and walked over to St Mo’s. Caught a nice bit of blue sky with fluffy clouds and just a hint of sunshine. The rest of the sunshine, my dear readers is fake, but it looks the part and it the photo became PoD!

That about sums today up. It rained, then for half an hour the sun shone weakly before setting.

Tomorrow we may go shopping in Stirling. What fun!

Coffee with Val – 26 November 2018

Hopefully a caffeine injection would jolt me from my lassitude.

I don’t think the coffee did any good. It was Costa coffee after all, but the conversation with Val and his enthusiasm for his new-found interest in ornithology via his bird cam brightened my day. He’d built the bird cam from bits and kits bolted on to his Raspberry Pi micro computer. The results were impressive. So impressive that I began to think I might have a go at it. Then he began to explain the coding side of it in Python and another exotic programming languages and I could see hours and hours of error trapping and bug finding in lines and lines of code. I’ve done that in the past and know just how much of my life I sacrificed to it. No, I decided. I’d waste my time and money on hands-on photography instead.

My hands-on photography today was done along the banks of the Luggie Water and the PoD is of a couple of leaves of grass with some raindrops. Simple and quite effective.

Got home and found an email from ON1 explaining how to fix my problem. I tried it and it didn’t work. Another email to the Techys. Then it was time for dinner (Spaghetti a la Campbell). Basically it’s just mixing together stuff that’s in the fridge and with some base tomato sauce and chucking in some spaghetti. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Today’s mixture of bacon, cherry tomatoes, onions and garlic with a good tin of tomatoes got a better than average vote from both of us.

Next we were out to Salsa. Really small class for the 7.30 group. Most unusual for this crowd. In fact it now looks as if we will be banished to the ‘wee room’ next week. That’s something that hasn’t happened for ages. Scamp reckons it’s because Jamie G has been off working at his real job or on holiday somewhere for odd Mondays since the summer. I think he’s right. When word gets out that he’s not here, the class numbers plummet. We caused a stir tonight as well when I told Shannon in front of the class that we wouldn’t be going to the Christmas Ball on Saturday because the ticket says 9.00pm start and now it looks like it won’t start until around 11pm. That’s too late for us. We’re not like the youngsters who are happy to dance until the early hours. We’d expected to be leaving around 11pm, not starting then. I think the galling thing is that she knew about this change, but kept it a secret. That’s the really unfair part of it. Oh well, the cat is out of the bag now and she can lump it, because we don’t like it.

Got another email from the Techys at ON1 with a file that sorted out the problem I’d had. I have to applaud their speedy response to questions and problems. That’s what makes you stay with a company.

Tomorrow Scamp has a lunch appointment and I may go take some photos.

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!

Strange things afoot in St Mo’s – 27 October 2018

Off on the bus to Glasgow on the coldest day since March

Got the fast bus in to Glasgow, well the sort of fast bus. Certainly not the slow bus anyway. Wandered round JL looking at kettles! Such exciting lives we live. Then a leisurely walk down Bucky Street so Scamp could buy some Christmas prezzies (spoiler alert! None of them were kettles!). Outside the shop there was a bloke busking. When we came out, the song he was singing sounded like one by Phil Campbell and his singing was like Phil Campbell too. I’m still not sure, but it could have been him.

Got the subway to Kelvinbridge and walked up to Paesano. Had our favourite pizzas. No1 for Scamp: plain pizza with sugo, added rocket and no garlic (no cheese). For me it was a straight No5. We even had an ice cream each to finish (on the coldest day since April). Bumped into Dr Barbara and Callum with the boys in Paesano. Got the train back into town and went in to JL and bought a kettle!

When we got home I took a walk to St Mo’s and there was a fair buzz about the place. Lots of groups setting up stalls and things. I think it must have been from the Secondary school. Everything with a Halloween theme of course! Pumpkins spread all along the boardwalk and the seat in the park covered in fake spiderweb and covered in giant spiders. I got a few shots although the light was really low by that time.

PoD, however came from the Teazer in Glasgow. A reflection in a shop window.

Today’s sketch was another from the photograph library. It came from 2017 and is the church across the fields from JIC and Sim.  Slightly better than a place marker, but not by much.  Must try to get more sketching done outside in the real world.  Only four more days in Inktober 2018.

Tomorrow we have no plans. It’s a long time since I’ve been able to say that.

“When you’re retired … – 29 September 2018

… you don’t have weekends.” So my dad said, and it’s true.

Sat on the couch discussing our options for the day. We could go to Glasgow, but we were there yesterday. We could go to Stirling, but there’s nothing much there that we want to do. Then Scamp suggested we go for lunch to The Smiddy near Doune. There, that’s it settled.

We went to Smiddy for lunch. I had veg chilli. I’d forgotten just how good it was, especially with lots of chopped jalapeño peppers on top and sour cream to cool down with. Scamp had her usual mac and cheese with chips. Just good wholesome food. I forgave the Smiddy for their poor offering the last time we were there. I had a look at their butchery counter, but didn’t find anything that tempted me. Although the Picanha steak looked interesting, it was not interesting enough to encourage me to part with the money for it. Maybe next time. That’s another thing I like about the Smiddy. They do have unusual cuts of meat.

While we were there I took some photos of the flat carse countryside. The light around the restaurant is beautiful and shows of the scenery so well. Usually I’d say that the scenery is beautiful, but it’s really the light here that’s so good. It is all about the light you know! Today’s PoD came from there. It is in fact two photos merged. The tree and the lane are one shot and the background hills are from another. The photos were merged in ON1 and saved just before it crashed. ON1 is a piece of software I want to like, but it’s still very rough around the edges and quite prone to crashing. Definitely going to keep using Lightroom for the moment.

We came home via Waitrose and got tomorrow’s dinner there, and a host of other things as well. It’s almost as bad as buying Tesco!

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. It depends on the weather.

Out on two wheels again – 23 September 2018

Just a short run to make sure the lungs and legs are still up to cycling after the cold virus has had its wicked way.

It was a beautiful sunny morning. Almost a sin to waste it sitting up in bed reading. Almost a sin, but not quite. Unless reading in bed is now a sin.

However, all good things must come to an end and I did eventually drag myself away from my Kindle and in to the shower, thence to go downstairs where Scamp was already off buying Tesco. Yesterday she had been cutting flowers that had been battered by Wednesday’s wind. She had put them in a vase and it was sitting on the table in the living room where the light pouring in through the vertical blinds was lighting it up and throwing wonderful shadows on the table. Now that would make a good picture I said to myself. Set up the Samyang on the Oly and grabbed a few shots from different distances and angles until I was sure I’d have something decent. At least one in the bag!

I decided this good weather wasn’t going to last, so I did what I’d committed myself to yesterday and got dressed for winter cycling. Layer upon layer of thin clothes with shorts and longs, because the temperature was only just in double figures and it was just past midday. When Scamp returned with Tesco in two shopping bags, I left for a short run. Short runs never really stay short if the traffic is light and the light is good. That’s how it was today. I tried to find some swallows because I thought I’d seen and heard some last week, but alas I may have been mistaken. So definitely no swallows this is week and this is week 39. I tried to find some photos, but try as I might, there was nothing there that interested me today. Finally I gave up and made my way home, and lunch. While I was out, Scamp took brush, sponge and hot water in hand and washed her car. Not that it needed it, eh, Scamp?

<Technospeak>
After lunch I started looking at today’s captures on Lightroom and decided that the flower shots from the morning were the best of the bunch, even if I’d forgotten to set the focus. It’s so hard to go back to a manual focus lens again! Luckily I’d set a fairly small aperture and this gave me enough DOF to make the shot look as if it was in focus. It took a bit of work in Lightroom to get the levels the way I wanted them and a bit more work in ON1 to push the background out of focus enough to concentrate the eye on the flowers. Finally I returned to LR to add a bit of warmth to the shot and Bingo it was done! PoD done!
</Technospeak>

Dinner was Friday’s soup followed by yesterday’s curry reheated. Just your typical Sunday dinner!

Tomorrow we may take Big Red (that may be the Juke’s new name) out for a spin if the weather is good.

Two Firsts & A Second! – 30 August 2018

Four quid too!

Scamp was out in the morning and that gave me time to start painting my latest masterpiece. It was to be an abstract seascape. I tried using the Inktense sticks, but they didn’t look right once they were down. I think the colours are too ‘cold’, especially the blues. I’ll probably just paint over it again with acrylic tomorrow.

After that and after hanging out the washing, I went to meet Val and Colin. Coffees all round. Fred was missing because he’d to stay in to keep the plumbers on the right lines when they were rebuilding his bathroom. Colin very kindly brought my photos and painting back from the flower show, along with my winnings. Four quid for two firsts and a second! The little piggy watercolour got a first and the landscape of Quiraing also got a first in the photography section. My favourite landscape, Murdo’s old tractor with the Quiraing behind it only got a second. Now it could have been that there were on two photographs and one painting in the competition, I don’t know because we were down in England at the time, but Colin did say that competition was tough, so I’m thinking that’s good enough for me. I’m now considering entering the little piggy in the Venice Biennale. I think it has a fighting chance.

Came home and realised that I didn’t have a photo for today, so got my cycling shorts and long sleeved top on and took the Dewdrop out on the back road to Kirkintilloch. That’s where I got the PoD. I also got a fairly good shot of these four horses in a field under a glowering sky, but the landscape felt more luminous, so it won.

Fell off the bike on the way back. I think the SPDs need some adjustment or maybe some grease. Left shoe is sticking a lot. Amazingly, the right pedal is fine although it’s caked in dried mud. The left one is shiny clean and it’s the one that’s sticking. Can’t fathom it out. I’ll grease them and see if that helps. No harm done in the fall, just my pride, but luckily there was no-one there to see me!

Dinner tonight deserves special mention. It was Chicken Milanese with potatoes and a big hunk of broccoli. Scamp showing just how good a cook she is. Absolutely delicious.

Tomorrow Scamp is out to lunch with the witches. May take the Dewdrop out again along the same road as today. I’ve a hankering to climb the Kirky Volcano. It’s actually an old pit bing, but from certain angles it looks like a volcano.

Cool? – 5 July 2018

Today was supposed to be cool. Well, that didn’t work, did it?

Scamp was going to meet June and Isobel for coffee and a catch up. That gave me a few hours to do some painting. I attempted the sweet peas that were sitting on the table. I got completely lost in the complexity of the subject. Must try something simpler next time. Maybe just one or two blooms.

After lunch we went for a drive to The Fort to look for some cheap watercolour paint for me and also for something for dinner. I didn’t get the paint, certainly not at over £8 for a tube. We did get tonight’s dinner which turned out to be Sea Bass.

Drove home and sat in the garden for a while with a wee shandy each. Sitting in the sun soaking it up. Weather fairies said it would reach 20ºc today. Yes it did, but that was at 8.30am. By the middle of the afternoon it was in the high twenties.

I was cook tonight and the sea bass with broccoli and cauliflower was excellent, even if I say so myself. Just to round off the meal we had another wee seat in the garden before Scamp deemed it was time to water the plants. By then the sun was off the garden, so there wasn’t any point in sitting out any longer. Today’s PoD is a strawberry that’s growing happily in our hanging basket. A hanging basket that’s survived ice, snow, wind and now drought. Still the plant not only survives, but thrives and produces fruit. Brilliant.

While I’m typing this, I’m listening to Another Side Of Bob Dylan (1964). The songs, especially Chimes of Freedom and To Ramona take me instantly back 50 years to my bedroom in Scotia. The light tonight even enhances that, it’s the warm light you get just before sunset. It’s funny how music has that power.

Tomorrow night Scamp is going to a witches dinner. I’m volunteer driver, but looking forward to another chance to paint those sweet peas.

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.

Once upon a time 47 years ago – 30 January 2018

Yes, on the 30th of January 1971, Scamp and I met for the first time. She wasn’t called Scamp then, she laboured under her old name, but not for long!

We’d already planned to get the bus into Glasgow today and that’s what we did. Just waited at the bus stop for less than five minutes when the bus arrived. It was going to be a good day.

Walked through JL without visiting the ‘Toy Shop’, the one on the second floor that has the computers, tablets and cameras. No, I was going to be brave, I wasn’t going there today. Straight through and out the other side without with hardly a backward glance. Then down Bucky Street in bright sunshine and a cold wind down to Nero at St Enoch’s for coffee. From there we took the subway out to Byres Road, but not before I got today’s PoD which is at the top of the page. There’s another one from the same spot taken a few seconds before that way, vying for first place, but dropped to second because it didn’t fit my title just as neatly. It did, however get a place on Flickr, so I’ll let the great Flickr public decide which is the stronger.

At the West End we went for a walk to the Botanic Gardens and showing my resolve again, I didn’t go in to the Kibble Palace and waste gigabytes of space taking shots that I knew in my heart of hearts wouldn’t work. Instead we walked round the gardens in that cold wind, although the sun had disappeared. We saw what appeared at first to be a union meeting. Lots of folk in hi-vis jackets being harangued by some bloke. On closer inspection and with a bit of earwigging on my part, it appeared that they were in fact being given fairly detailed instructions on pruning plants, by a professor type bloke, you know the type; long hair, long beard, no hi-vis, very animated. The sort of bloke “who speaks loudly” in restaurants as John Cleese once said. The hi-vis brigade looked really bored, not to say pissed off. My heart went out to them.

Actually, we agreed that this was the first time we’d ventured further than the hothouses in the park and there were a lot of interesting things to see. Well, let me rephrase that to; there will be a lot of interesting things to see there once they are actually growing (and when the cold wind has gone). Definitely worth checking out in a few weeks time.

We walked down Byres Road and had lunch in Usha’s Indian restaurant (no professor types speaking loudly though). Got the subway back to Glasgow and went for a wee drink in Lauder’s Old Folks Home Bar. Drink was cheap and we were close to average age for the clientele. This was a quote from a bloke speaking to Scamp, think about it:

“You stop liking snow when you have to buy your own shoes”

Here’s a last thought for two of my readers. If it wasn’t for two folk going to a party forty-seven years ago, And if it wasn’t for one of those folk losing a guitar on the train, you wouldn’t be here today!

Tomorrow, I may return to The Toon. Looking for a bit of Tweed!