Turning the Tables – 20 July 2018

Found some woodwork to do for a change.

Scamp was off visiting one of her old friends out near Denny which left me with nothing to do and all morning to do it. It was raining for a change, so cycling was out. I could have gone to the gym, but that didn’t hold any fascination for me, so I started to tackle a bit of homework that’s been on my to-do list for a long time. My dad had an old folding card table, beech framed and covered with a green baize top. I’ve used it as a computer table and a painting table for years now, but the baize was torn and peeling off and the top was sagging in the middle. It really needs a new top and a new piece of green baize. Today I stripped the green felt off then carefully removed the hardboard top. That left the rebate in the top filled with the glued on felt. It took me over an hour, working with a couple of chisels to cut, pare and scrape the felt off. Then I had to decide what to do about the top. I’m still not sure. It really should be replaced, but I’m thinking it might be an idea to use plywood in place of hardboard because it is more stable. Went to price 3 or 4mm plywood in B&Q. I need a piece 503mm square, but the biggest offset they had was only 450mm wide. The only other option was a 2m x 0.6m sheet at an exorbitant price. I’ll have a look around. Maybe I’ll be able to find an off-cut down the Barras. Anyway, the hard work is done now, just the reassembly to do.

Did think of going over to St Mo’s to see if anything wanted its photo taken, but the day was unispiring with little directional light, so it was a last minute garden safari instead. It secured me PoD which is a flower from one of my Ambassador pea plants.

No plans for tomorrow. It’s forecast to be a better day than today, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings.

Only half a day – 12 July 2018

I woke about 5.30 this morning and just couldn’t get back to sleep.

After I finally entered dreamland, it took me ages to find the exit. I felt really rough. My throat was dry and itchy and my head felt thicker than normal. It was Scamp’s turn to get breakfast, which was just as well. I ate my muesli, drank my tea, turned over and went back to sleep. Scamp woke me at 11 with another cup of tea and some toast. That gave me enough strength to go, get showered, get dressed and do my exercises (see JIC, even when I’m feeling ill, I do as the physio tells me). Feeling a lot better, I re-entered the land of the living around midday. Wandered round the garden and decided it was time for lunch.

After two boiled eggs Scamp drove us to Asda for the messages. We usually go to Tesco, but we went to Asda for a change. I used to avoid it because that’s where all the school kids went to shoplift shop. Now, after four years of freedom, I hardly recognise any of them and none of them seem to recognise me, thank goodness. Possibly they see me smiling and think “Nah. Couldn’t be him”. Laden down with goodies and not so goodies, we made our way back home.

The back garden, especially looked a bit in need of watering, so I unrolled the hose and gave everything a good blast. I didn’t have anything as a photo, so I took a walk to St Mo’s. It still strikes me as strange to go over there wearing a pair of shorts and a tee shirt. Unnatural. Found myself a PoD in the picture of a hover fly apparently egg laying. I was quite impressed with the quality of image from the Nikon and the Sigma 105mm. I also got a shot of a flower head set out in a pentagon. Most unusual. I didn’t notice what the plant looked like, but I’ll go back tomorrow with my plant book and try to find it.

When I came home I sat in the garden for a while before we had dinner, Stir Fry. After dinner we soaked up the last of today’s sun before we went in.

Had intended going to Embra at the weekend, but apparently there are to be rallies there complaining about Donald Trump being allowed to visit Scotland or to breathe air or something. Anyway, it won’t make any difference to DT and it would probably spoil our day, so we’re going to choose a different, non-DT destination.

Tomorrow the plan is to get up at a normal time, meet Val for coffee and then go to Larky to pic up our optical devices,

Nematode Nemesis – 8 June 2018

Slugs and snails beware. The end is nigh.

A package dropped through the letterbox today and in it were two boxes of Nematodes. One to treat the garden and hopefully eradicate the slug infestation and another to do the same for vine weevil. I’m not sure we have vine weevil, but I suspect we have and I know for certain that we have more than our fair share of slugs. I don’t really mind the shell carrying snails, but I hate slugs. The instructions on the box said to keep them in the fridge. I said no thanks and put them outside in the bin that holds the fertiliser and compost bags.

I took some photos of the Ladybird Poppies, macro, of course, and it was one of those that became PoD. Also on the agenda for today was putting up a frame for the peas. I’d bought the wood yesterday and also some woodscrews. It’s a pain having to buy these things, but like I said yesterday, I don’t have access to these materials and consumables any more! The frame wasn’t too difficult to erect and screw in place. The netting was a bit more of a faff, getting it stretched across the frame and clipped in place with staples and cable ties. Even after all this work, the bloody minded pea plants wouldn’t hang on to the netting. The ungrateful things just hung there for a minute or so and then dropped back to the ground. After a bit of delicate weaving of the tendrils, they eventually got the idea. I think I must have planted dim peas.

<Technospeak>
I spent the afternoon clicking and typing away at the new Win10 machine, trying to get it to create a macro to allow me to log on to my blog. I can do it on the Mac using a macro created with Keyboard Maestro, but there’s nothing like that app in WindowsWorld. You have to resort to some cryptic code in AutoHotKey to get anything like the same result. I finally managed to adapt a piece of code I found on an internet forum, but it only works with Internet Explorer. It’ll be another afternoon of swearing before I can get it to do the same on Firefox. Finally when I shut down the PC it wanted to do an upgrade. Now is that different from an update? Who knows. Maybe when I switch on the computer today everything will be different. I doubt it.
</Technospeak>

A walk across St Mo’s later cleared my head and gave me some photos of dragonflies and also a couple of coots feeding their scraggy little red headed young.  A cool breeze at times, but still a beautiful day.

After dinner it was time to deal with the pesky slugs. Dissolved the contents of the nematode packet in a 5 litre bucket of water and stirred frantically. Removed 500ml (ish) into the watering can and diluted it to 5 litres of slug nemesis. Tried to water it over the raised bed with the rose, but found that the rose was too fine. Had to remove it and just pour it on. Repeated this round the plants and pots in the garden until the bucket was empty. I should have watered it in later, but it was getting a bit cool, so we left it to nature, it’s supposed to rain tonight.

Tomorrow we may go to Stirling to look for cheap trainers for me and lunch for us.

Johnny Appleseed – 5 June 2018

Went to Livingston today to get a pair of trainers and failed, but didn’t come home empty handed.

I’d intended going to Glasgow today to get my hair cut, but, as we would probably be going there tomorrow and could accommodate the shearing in that visit.  That left the day open. An open day never stays that way for long in this house, so we drove to the retail outlet place at Livingston to look for a pair of cheap(ish) trainers for me. I didn’t find any that I’d risk my delicate little tootsies in, at least not for the price they were asking. What I did get was a pair of shoes. Nice oxblood colour sensible Clarks shoes. I’m still not sure that they are the right size, but will persevere with them for a day or two in the house and if they are too small, I’ll reluctantly take them back. Scamp says I only want them because of the colour. She could be right.

When we got back home I had time to go for a walk to St Mo’s and I took with me, in my camera bag, a trowel and a chestnut seedling that I’d grown in the greenhouse. I picked the chestnuts in October last year, overwintered them in a paper bag in the greenhouse and planted eleven out in pots in March. Of those eleven I think it’s eight that have survived and it’s now time to return them to the wild to fend for themselves. A bit like Johnny Appleseed in America, but with chestnuts instead. Maybe none of them will grow, maybe all will flourish, but it’s been fun doing it and at least they’ve had a good start.

Photos today were scarce. It was down to the ‘beasties’ as Scamp calls them to provide most of the interest. I liked the shot of the Crane Fly or ‘Jenny Long Legs’ if you come from Scotland. It should actually be a vertical format, but I turned it  horizontal to get more of the actual fly on the page. Other than that, there were dragonflies again and some fat hoverflies. Fewer damselflies than I’d have expected with the warm weather. Maybe they are falling prey to the faster flying dragons.

It was another really hot day, but later, in  the early evening it cooled down quite quickly.  So quickly in fact that Scamp postponed watering the garden until tomorrow morning.  Forecast is for more warm weather tomorrow and Thursday with cloud and the chance of rain on Friday.  Oh well, we should make the most of it and get a tan while we can.

Tomorrow it’ll probably be dancin’ and drawin’ again. If time permits, I’ll get my hair cut.

Dancin’ and drawin’, that’s a Wednesday – 30 May 2018

The day started badly, but improved … a bit.

Up early to go to the docs to get my blood taken. Sat for a while and finally went to check. Apparently my appointment which I’d been told was for 9.50 was actually for 8.50. Despite remonstrating with the receptionist, who I must say treated me like a retard, she was adamant that I was wrong. I was equally adamant that I was right. I eventually got another appointment for tomorrow. Came home slightly less incandescent than I left the health centre and wrote this suggestion to them:

Here’s a suggestion:
When a patient makes an appointment over the phone or at reception, send them a confirmation email or text. This will avoid wasted time on both sides and will also give a degree of certainty a scribbled note on a piece of paper (at best) doesn’t. My dentist has been doing it this way for years so why can’t Kenilworth? After all, it’s 2018, not 1918.

I don’t think it will be implemented. After all, what would a ‘retard’ know about automatic email generation? That was the started badly part over.

Drove in to Glasgow under a blue sky and danced up a fair sweat. I thought Michael was nit picking again until I realised that he was picking up on things I was doing wrong without noticing. He took us a bit further along our waltz journey, into the tricky double natural turns. Michael tried to teach us a new line dance based on Charleston which is much more difficult than you’d think when you see it on Strictly! We didn’t get much further with Jive, but we consolidated the first turns. I got as far as Spin 3, Scamp got to Spin 4. By the end I was exhausted.

Scamp bought a new pair of flip-flops (sparkly ones of course!) because she’d scraped her heel and needed a new pair of sparkly flip-flops to take her mind of the excruciating pain! I browsed some bargains in CassArt, but finally decided that I’d better places for my pennies to go.

Came home and went for a walk to St Mo’s, but by the time I got there the good light had gone and it was becoming decidedly dull and overcast. He weather fairies, the rain isn’t supposed to arrive until Friday! It didn’t arrive, but the clouds still held sway in the heavens, so I had to make do with some pretty wee Berberis flowers. They’ll do, and one of them got PoD.

Swift dinner of prawn salad which was really very nice and then Fred picked me up to go to art class where I caused a stooshie by telling the tutor that I thought the videos we’d been watching were a bit faked. It became rather heated for a while, then settled down to the usual sketching. I get a sore back from standing at an easel drawing for two hours, but it is rather therapeutic and enjoyable trying to get a likeness of someone. I got a bit of praise for my planar drawing of the model. Converted his youthful soft face into a series of flat plates. Strange, but there was a real resemblance there.

Tomorrow a repeat of the blood-letting attempt of this morning, hopefully with a better result. Scamp is off to see the new baby in Larky and I’m going for coffee with the auld guys.

Cliché Time – 29 May 2018

It had to happen. You simply can’t avoid it every year.

Off to dull, cloudy Falkirk this morning to get some ‘messages’. It wasn’t much of an improvement from dull, cloudy Cumbersheugh. Came home (with the ‘messages’) and had lunch. Still no sunshine and still less than comfortable temperatures. Hmm.

It was much later in the day before the cloud started to lighten and we went for a walk along the canal. The pessimist as always, I took my rainy coat because it did look as if rain might stop play. It didn’t and halfway along to Twechar I was forced to take may rainy coat off and tie it round my waist. The sun had now burned away the cloud and was shining from a big blue sky. We walked on to Twechar and then crossed over to the railway walk to take us back via the Plantation to the car. It was on the Plantation I got today’s PoD. Taken with the 30mm Panasonic macro. It was the only one of the seven shots I took that was reasonably sharp, actually very sharp. It’s a cliché, the dandelion clock or the little ‘parachutes’ that fly off from it. Every photog takes the pictures every year. We just can’t avoid it. It’s almost like it’s hard wired into our psyche that we must take that photo. Usually once we’ve taken it, we can relax until the next year. Sometimes we continue on and on taking dandelion pictures for ages until we’re sated and have to go on a dandelion diet until the next May.

I think the dull afternoon must have put a lot of people off, because we were only passed by a few runners and cyclists on our walk. Usually the canal towpath is a busy thoroughfare in mid May. Also today we only saw two dogs. That in itself is amazing. Maybe the dogs looked out at the milky white sky and said “Naw mate, no’ gaun oot today” and went back to sleep.

Dinner tonight was crab spaghetti. It should have been Linguini, but Scamp doesn’t care for the thicker pasta, so spaghetti it was. The crab was lovely and there was just enough chilli in it to brighten it up. Splash of white wine, a finely chopped bit of garlic, olive oil (good stuff-EVOO) and a handful of parsley with the Skye crab and you have a very tasty meal. I commend it to you.

Tomorrow I have an appointment with the nurse who will draw some blood for my annual check-up, but joy of joys, it’s NOT a fasting blood test. At last we are being dragged into the 21st century. Hallelujah!

Up the Glen – 22 May 2018

Up fairly early for a Tuesday to speak to a man from Falkirk on the phone.

The man told us that we are doing all right and that’s what we wanted to hear. To celebrate we went out to lunch, but not before we had a word with Hazy and caught up with all the news from London, discussed plans, books and the disappointment of having to wait another few days before getting a new car. Their car, not ours. After the second phone call of the morning, we did go for lunch.

We drove to the cafe at Clachan of Campsie where I had the disappointment of discovering that the cafe no longer listed their Apple, Brie and Honey sandwich. We were told that it was because not enough people liked it. Why not? Have these people no taste? It’s an absolute find, a delight of a sandwich. To her credit, the waitress said she could make me one because she had all the ingredients, but I had already ordered a bacon, brie and cranberry toastie, so that had to do instead. I’ll just have to settle for my own, homemade ABH sandwich.

After lunch we walked up the path to Campsie Glen. I’m sure my dad took us there years ago. I’m also sure that the ‘us’ in question were Mum, Dad and Me, because it was before my brother was made, and I was quite wee. Probably not even ten. I remember getting a collapsible tumbler to go, because my dad said the water was so clear you could drink it. I’ve vague memories of the place, but nowhere we went today relived that memory. Maybe we had to go further up the glen than we managed today. We both had the wrong kind of shoes for the dodgier bits of the path. Maybe next time. Just think, from Larky you’d have to get a bus in to Glasgow that would take about an hour, then get another bus to Clachan of Campsie, another hour at least. What a lot of planning. You don’t realise the things your parents did for you or the sacrifices they made. Not until it’s too late.

Took some photos there of some water running over stones, but the water was so low they didn’t amount to much. Also got some photos of Wood Avens flowers, but they were just out of focus, so didn’t appear in today’s published shots. What did appear was a photo of our red and white aquilegia which became PoD. Scamp thought it was called Strawberry Sundae. I thought it was Strawberries and Cream. After checking the label on the pot, we found its name was Swan Red and White. I prefer either of our names.

That was our day in the countryside, again under blue skies and sun. I’ve been meaning to go to Campsie Glen for years and am glad I did go today. Just a shame it wasn’t as I remember it about sixty years ago. Maybe we just didn’t go far enough. Yes, that’s it, we need to go back.

Tomorrow it’s dancing in the afternoon and portraits at night. Another busy Wednesday.

The Man in the Mirror – 21 May 2018

I had homework to do for the Wednesday’s Portraiture class. Today was my first attempt.

Scamp was out with Isobel in the morning and I got started sketching my reflection in the mirror in the back bedroom. It’s been ages since I’ve attempted a self portrait. This was different because it was planned and better structured using the Andrew Loomis method. I’d even made an Autodesk Inventor model of the basic shape of a head to give me a basic understanding of the shape. We’ve still to learn the basic bits that make up a face, like Nose, Mouth, Eyes and Ears. They are important, but the basic shape of the skull is even more important. I’m beginning to understand that now. With a bit of time to myself, I had my first try at an SP.

It was rough and ready, so I set it aside and made lunch which was yesterday’s Aloo Saag bolstered with some more spinach and a few more spices. It was agreed that it was an improvement on yesterday’s. Still needs some fine tuning, and the kitchen cabinets needed a bit of fine cleaning after my attempt at liquidising the second bag of spinach. It looked like the attack of the Jolly Green Giant. Most of it was cleaned up before Scamp came home.

I wasn’t happy with my first portrait attempt, so, after lunch when Scamp and the Gems were going through their repertoire, I started the second version. One of the eyes wasn’t right and that was when I found that I hadn’t a putty rubber, essential when you’re sketching in charcoal, like I was. That gave me the impetus to go out. I bought a putty rubber and then went looking for photos. Drove to Auchinstarry and did the canal, plantation and railway walk under glorious blue skies. That built up my step count for the day and provided my PoD which is a Bum Bee’s Bum. Actually, it’s a hoverfly’s bum, but that doesn’t sound as good, does it?

Back home and I didn’t really need any dinner after a very hearty lunch, so it was tea and toast before we drove in to Glasgow for our Monday dose of Salsa. Two good classes, but so few men. Tonight’s moves for the 6.30 class were Candado Complicado, El Chullo and La Chulla. For the 7.30 class it El Cien. All doable with a bit of practise.  Step count for today is just over 15,800.  Not bad at all!

Tomorrow we have a telephone meeting with Andrew from ARD at 9.30 and the rest of the day is ours!

The Constant Gardener – 17 May 2018

Today I had the car booked in at Halfords to get the dash cam wired in properly.

We were told that it might take up to 2 hours to do the job, but after having a quick look, the bloke said it would only take 15 minutes. He was correct. With the work done and paid for we drove to Torwood Garden Centre for Scamp to buy some (more) plants for the garden. We ended up with quite a car full, but she has it all planned out. She knows where they are all going, and I believe her. I got some leafy broccoli looking plants whose name escapes me at the moment and we also got a bay tree to replace the one we lost to the winter snows. All the rest were flowers. I’m sure they’ll all look beautiful.

Went out for a walk and left Scamp to her digging, potting and pottering. Got a good shot of Mr Grey and another of a young deer just losing its winter coat, but PoD goes to the Orange Tip butterfly that sat patiently for me to focus the new macro lens on. The lens is a prime (non-zoom) and is as sharp as a tack. You can see the butterfly above, but you’ll have to go to Flickr to see the other two.

When I came back there was just enough time for a glass of wine in the sun in the garden before dinner. Dinner tonight was Neil’s Chicken and Wild Rice Salad. It’s a firm favourite in the summer and went down especially well tonight.

Tomorrow Scamp and the Witches are off on the town, although which town isn’t totally settled yet. Me? I’m off the leash for a day, so I think I may go and take photos. Now there’s a surprise!

The man who worked in the garden – 15 May 2018

Of course the woman who worked in the garden was there too!

It was a lovely morning, but unlike yesterday, it didn’t last. The clouds started to roll in, just as the weather fairies had predicted. However, it wouldn’t prevent us from doing a bit of digging in the garden. Before all that though, Scamp decided we should both visit Tesco, me as passenger in the Red Juke. I was most impressed with the work Mr Tesco had done on the store’s carpark. Before we left for our sojourn to the south, the carpark had been a disaster area. Full of ruts and potholes. Now it seemed that the poor man had been out all weekend labouring under the hot sun to make it a much nicer place to park with all the ruts filled, likewise the potholes and even new while lines marking out the boxes. I was just a little bit annoyed that Scamp managed to place the Red Juke right in the middle of one of those white boxes. I felt I should have been like Cherish, the judge from GBBO The Professionals and started measuring with my metal ruler, but I didn’t. I just put it down to beginners luck.

Back home, we got to work:
Scamp cutting the front grass and pruning. I kept moving because it looked as if she was pruning everything that was standing still.
Me when I wasn’t avoiding the secateurs, I was digging a hole and planting my birthday buddleia, planting some English peas (Boogie) and thinning out my kale. We were just finished our respective tasks when the rain started. Very light, but there all the same. It was lunch time.

The rain continued for most of the afternoon until I eventually got fed up and went in search of ‘beasties’ in St Mo’s. Found a tiny little spider, but had to give up on it because the light wasn’t very good deep in the woods, then I spotted a quite attractively patterned moth, but it saw me at the same time and flew off. Finally I cornered a bored or tired fly that sat patiently for its close up. That was PoD. Came home had dinner watched TV. Lots of little bits of work done today. Feeling better for it.

Tomorrow it’s not the danceathon its been of late as we’re only doing the ballroom and jive classes. I’ve got a portraiture class at the college in the evening. Student, not teacher, just in case you think I’m getting a bit above myself. Scamp’s having a week off to decide whether to face the M80/M8 traffic jam to go to two low level salsa classes. It’s an experiment. It may work or it may not. It just depends on how things pan out.