Making the change – 14 October 2019

Today there will be no lying around. Today I will be active.

That’s what I said anyway. Out fairly early to drop off another sample at the doc’s. Don’t know what they find so fascinating about my pee, but it seems to keep them amused. Back home and today’s work schedule included cleaning the downstairs toilet. It didn’t take long, certainly not nearly as long as the bathroom last week. Probably that’s partly due to the fact that it’s a tiny little space. However I did give it the full “big clean” as one of my cleaners used to call it.

After that it was lunchtime and Scamp suggested I have a couple of slices of my excellent bread with some Wiltshire ham between. What makes the bread extra excellent is that it’s made by Prince Chic (Charles to you, but Chic to his friends). I don’t suppose Chic actually mills the flour himself, but it comes from his estate and it makes very good bread. It was also cheap at Waitrose or I wouldn’t have bought it.

When Gems came in I sat and talked to Margie for a while and showed her my sketches for Inktober. Margie is always very complementary about my work, but she produces some startling paintings herself. Veronica slipped a copy of Wildlife Photographer of the Year onto the table. It seems her son-in-law is a keen wildlife photog. I wouldn’t say that what I take are wildlife photos, more landscapes and macros. I like looking at landscape photos, but find it hard to compose them properly when I’m out and about with a camera. There’s no such problems with macros. With them the big challenges are more technical, like getting the aperture right and trying to get the best use of light. Also there’s the stalking of the tiny wee insects. Great fun, but not really artistic. On first glance at the photos in the book, I’m amazed at the quality and detail. I’ll have a good look before I have to give it back next week.

To continue the ‘active’ theme, I went for a walk along the canal and then on to the railway and that’s where I saw today’s PoD. It’s an old oak tree and I just liked the way the light hit the trunk. It was good to be out in the fresh air under  a blue sky for a change. Took a few more shots, but you’ll have to visit Flickr to see them.   Walking back along the canal, I saw a goosander surface quite close to me with a fish in its beak.  Knew I didn’t have time to grab the camera from my bag and focus, so I just watched it for a while.  It looked quite pleased with it’s early dinner.  Back to M&S for the makings of our own dinner and while I was traipsing around, I got the signal that I’d completed my 10,000 steps. Happy.

Dinner tonight met with a mixed reception. I thought it was great, Scamp was more critical. It was Prawns with Spaghetti and Courgette Spaghetti. Scamp didn’t like the dill that was in it, I didn’t mind. Maybe needs a bit of work.

The topic for today was “A Rowing Boat”. There aren’t many rowing boats lying around waiting to be sketched in the Central Belt of Scotland, so this one came straight out of my head. I quite liked it.

The plan for tomorrow is to get up early and then go to the seaside. Not sure if that will be east or west coast, but the weather looks like it will be fairly dry.

Rain and battered birds – 22 September 2019

Rain and battered birds.

Maybe it was the heavy rain that caused the pigeon to thump into the kitchen window.

Woke to rain, just drizzle to begin with, but then it got heavier and heavier before it tailed off to drizzle, then began the cycle again. It used this set of options a few times before it finally gave up and turned off the taps around midday.  That was when we heard the thump form the kitchen.  I guessed, right away that it was a bird strike, in fact, a pigeon strike.  They usually make pretty ‘angel patterns’ on the window and often there is a dead bird lying underneath the pattern.  Today there was just a wet mark on the window and a stunned looking pigeon on one of the branches of the tree.  We kept a weather eye on the poor thing and eventually it flew off for further adventures, thankfully unharmed.  Speaking of birds, I just realised yesterday that I hadn’t seen any swallows this week.  Perhaps they’ve flown back down to warmer climes.

<Technospeak>
By then we’d had lunch and I’d been searching for about an hour for Autodesk Mechanical Desktop 2008 to draw my lens hood on the slightly more modern Linx computer. Unfortunately it wasn’t going to happen and I thought I could rely on the old fifteen year old Toshiba laptop running Windows 7 to complete the job. That’s when I found that although the Win 7 laptop said it could see the Epson printer, it was in fact lying. Why oh why do windows computers have such a problem connecting to printers. In the end I downgraded the Autocad file and successfully ported it across to the Linx which couldsee and connect to the printer. Such a faff! Anyway, I finally got the development printed.
</Technospeak>

Welcome back JIC. With the development printed, Scamp said it was time for me to take a walk outside in the rain to get some photos, and more importantly, some fresh air. I agreed. When I came back, the Spatchcock chicken was roasting away nicely in the oven and a glass of sherry was waiting for me.

Watched a boring Singapore GP while we ate our chicken. Looked for Sort-of-cousin Colin in the crown, but didn’t see him! Annoyed by the result, but the person on the top of the podium worked for his money today. I’m not saying who it was, just in case somebody reading this hasn’t seen the results yet.

Spent the rest of the evening flying around Scotland in X-Plane using a new flight plan construction software called Little Navmap which is so much simpler than trying to click on knobs to input waypoints and destinations. Heavens, this is the 21st century, not the 19th. No steampunk junk here thank you very much!

Today’s PoD was a raindrop hanging from a pine needle in St Mo’s. It sort of marked the day.

Tomorrow, Clive arrives, hopefully. Glad he’s not travelling with Thomas Cook who seem to be in serious trouble.

Today I peed in a bucket – 20 September 2019

It was a bit more high tech than that, but basically that’s what they do for a ‘flow test’.

It’s the tech below the bucket that does all the clever stuff, measuring the rate of flow and producing a graph. Apparently I’d produced a classic bell shaped graph which is perfect. The nurse also gave me my PSA reading from the blood test and explained it all. The reading was 2.2 for those who understand such things. Way down the scale from the 5 I was producing back in February/March. She also showed me my blood sugar reading which was 47, but that was down from the 50 I’d had back in June, so it’s now off the Diabetic range and into the Pre-diabetic area. You’re never ever going to get off the scale. Once they’ve got their hooks into you, they don’t let you go.

So it was a Happy Boy who left Monklands with Scamp this afternoon. A little bit less to worry about. Back home I sorted out my car insurance which was another thing I was reminding myself to do before the end of the month. One thing left to do is pay the Road Tax. That has to be done before the end of the month too. September is always an expensive month. It used to be March, for the same reasons!

Scamp wanted to do some gardening when we got home, so I did the sensible thing and took the bike out for a run in the surprisingly warm sunshine. It’s not often I can go out on the bike with shorts and a cycling top. When I was out I got some more brambles, but I think this lot will be the last. I didn’t see any ripening fruit. It was either ripe or turning to mush. We’ve got a fair bit this year, almost 2kg now. Freezer is full of bags bulging with deep purple berries.

PoD was almost a tie between a macro of a Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum) and an HDR shot of some corn bales. The corn bales won. What surprised me about the HDR shot was the way the camera just took over and did it. So easy! (I’m not going to explain what an HDR shot is because JIC will just complain about technospeak!).

That’s about it for today. The day I peed in a bucket and got a bell shaped graph. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere. Tomorrow Scamp wants to go out somewhere if it’s ‘nice’. Neither of us have a clue where that place is.

Wandering around the town in a gale – 14 September 2019

Today we were heading in to Glasgow – driving for a change on a Saturday.

Scamp wanted to get a new tub for cereals, yes it was that sort of day, any excuse to go out of the house! I wanted to see if CassArt still had the fancy Rowney easel Fred was raving about. Finally we were looking for lunch, but not Paesano today.

First we looked for somewhere for lunch. Looked at Amalfi which used to be really good, but there wasn’t anything on the displayed menu that inspired us. We tried O Sole Mio which didn’t awaken any interest either. Finally we settled on Cafe Andaluz and had our usual three tapas each. The only down side was the group of harridans who had booked the table across from us. The noise from them was deafening. When they arrived the waiters started clearing the tables between them and us. I presume it was to put the trough in for them to eat from.

After being fed, we walked to CassArt, but surprise, surprise they were sold out of the fancy Rowney easel. Not to worry, I’d kind of talked myself out of it anyway. Back up Bucky Street thinking I wish I’d lifted my wooly hat, because although it wasn’t raining, there was a cold wind blowing and I’d forgotten that it’s almost midway through September now, so I should be dressing appropriately. Tried Lakeland for the cereal tub, but the one they had was a bit big and also a bit pricey. Back to Cumbersheugh and Scamp got the tub she wanted in Tesco.

Managed an hour in St Mo’s when we got back and that’s where today’s PoD came from. A snail on a swing! It never ceases to amaze me the places these snails get to.

I checked out the fancy Rowney easel on Google and it got slated on Amazon. Allegedly it’s made from wood, but it’s actually made from MDF which is fine for something that’s not meant to move. The big selling point of the easel is that it can move. Lots of criticism of the construction. I think I will leave it where it is, unsold!

It’s cold tonight although the weather station says it’s 15.3ºc. I think the gale force winds are stealing away that heat.

Tomorrow we may go dancing in the Record Factory, but apart from that we have no plans.

A better day – 1 September 2019

One of those days where you just get things done. Well, some things done.

Went out early to make sure I had a photo for PoD. Yesterday I saw some toadstools over in St Mo’s and today I thought I’d go better prepared and get some wide angle shots of them. Unfortunately, when I got to the spot where I was sure I saw them, there was nothing there. After a bit of searching around I finally found where they’d been, but of the fungi there was nothing left but a bit of the stalk. It looked like something had eaten them. Hope they were mushrooms and not toadstools then!

I did see a brightly coloured Red Admiral butterfly, but it simply refused to settle on any of the Scabious flower heads. I finally gave up after getting one distant, out-of-focus shot of it, just to check when I got back home that it was, indeed, a red admiral. It was. The Peacock that became PoD was a much calmer individual and posed quite happily for me.

Dragonflies were out in force too loads of Common Darters (Sympetrum striolatum). They are fairly small dragonflies. Red/orange coloured and easy to photograph as they like to sit on the metal strips on the boardwalk at St Mo’s, where I’m guessing they can pick up some heat from the metal after it’s been heated by the sun.

I made some beef olives today using beef ham that had been battered flat to help it roll round the mince core more easily. They would have been good if I’d turned the gas off after cooking them for half an hour, unfortunately it wasn’t until I smelled burning that I realised I’d turned the gas DOWN, not OFF as instructed. Oh dear. Well, the carbon is good for the digestion they say. Actually it’s people who burn things a lot who say that!

Dancing at the Record Factory in Byres Road tonight and really quite enjoyed it. We went a bit later, we thought, but it didn’t liven up for nearly an hour after that. I was exhausted, both physically and mentally by the time I called a halt. Scamp would have been happy to dance more! I think she is beginning to get over the Lurgi that’s been hanging over her. Maybe she needs a wee holiday.

Tomorrow I’m going in to Glasgow, hopefully to get my hair cut, because Gems will be here for their first practise of the new session. That’s usually a good time to be elsewhere.

Flowers, Green Beasties and The Proms – 31 August 2019

Today we were going to Chryston Flower Show to see how my submissions fared. Scamp declared that she was feeling a fair bit better, thank goodness!

It had rained hard during the night and when we woke around 9am, it was still pelting down. That continued until around midday when we got ready for the show and drove out to Muirhead to have lunch in 3 Regazzi I liked the name, 3 Guys. It was standard Italian fare. Scamp had Bruschetta as a starter followed by Chicken in a creamy sauce, with veg and roast potatoes. Mine was Potato and Broccoli soup followed by a spicy Penne Arrabbiata. Both were fine and tasted authentically Italian. We’ll be back.

Walked down to Chryston HS where the flower show was to be. First thought was that there were a lot more folk there than last time. Also the produce was better and more varied than last time. Flowers were the usual incredibly high quality. It’s hard to believe that these people are doing this, basically, for fun. It’s got to be for enjoyment because nobody is going to go to all this trouble for a £1.50 prize for a First, £1 for a Second and £0.50 for a Third. Like my pal Colin says, it’s not about winning, it’s about taking part. My painting got me a First. One landscape photo got a Second and another got a Third. My waistcoat got a Second, so all four were placed. Result!

After we’d spoken to Colin and Evelyn and after Scamp had won a host of prizes at the Tombola we drove home.

The rain that had plagued us for the past two days had tailed off by then and by the time we got home the streets were drying, so I took myself out for a walk in St Mo’s. Not much of interest until I was almost home and that’s when I found a Hawthorn Shield Bug. Sitting on a Dogwood plant minding its own business, it became PoD.

That was about it apart from listening to a quite excellent concert from the BBC Proms with Lisa Fischer and Ledisi presenting an evening honouring Nina Simone. I was amazed by Lisa Fischer’s seamless switch from jazz to Henry Purcell (which Scamp tells me was When I Am Laid In Earth.). Singing with two microphones, she played some clever vocal gymnastics. I wasn’t so impressed with Ledisi, but she too was worth listening to.

Tomorrow looks like a better day than today. We may go dancing.

Baking, Cooking, Talking, Raining – 27 July 2019

Today we woke to rain, and it looked as if it was on for the day.

It rained and rained, just like the weather fairies had predicted. We gave up on the idea of going in to Glasgow. Standing in the rain in George Square listening to any kind of band isn’t the best use of a day. Instead, we threw ourselves into the preparations for John & Marion’s dinner. In my case, quite literally.

Scamp had been using the mixer in the morning, while I was clearing the dining table of computer and photographic junk. When she was finished I started weighing out flour and stuff to bake a loaf. I was just putting the bowl with the flour, yeast, water mixture into the mixer cradle when the whole thing slipped out of my hands and fell onto the hall carpet. The disgusting mess of slurry took both of us about half an hour to clean up. Then I had to start all over again and be more careful this time putting the bowl back in the cradle. Switched on and let it do its stuff for ten minutes. That gave me time to take the Dyson’s beater head to bits to clean the dough out of it. The bread actually turned out well, I was fairly pleased with it.

Still it was raining, but in one of the few dry spells I took the chance to go into the garden to get some photos. The rasps were PoD, but on Flickr you can see Scamp’s new Gypsophila. My mum was very proud of her great big gypsophila bush in the front garden. It really was a beautiful big plant. Maybe Scamp’s will grow to that size in a few years. The rasps won PoD because of the bright colours Red against Green is always a strong colour combination.

Dinner tonight was Melon Balls as starter, Lamb Leg Steaks with Potatoes and Calabrese as main (Scamp substituted Salmon for Lamb) and Syllabub as pudding. There was also cake in the form of Scamp’s Apple & Lemon Sandwich Cake which, in my opinion was better than last time although Scamp disagreed.

Sat talking after dinner for ages, just catching up with old friends. It was a great night.

Tomorrow (actually today, because it was a very late night, so this is catch-up) we will finish the washing up and put all the posh stuff back in the cupboards and hope we get some dry spells to go for a walk.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A trip through history – 15 July 2019

Our own history and even further back.

I’d been reading a blog post by one of the girls from Salsa.  She is one of the ones Shannon used to call her “Expert Girls”.  Now that may conjure up entirely the wrong picture.  Anyway, she was writing about Craignethan Castle in South Lanarkshire.  When I was at school, nobody called it Craignethan, everybody called it Tillietudlem because it was said to be the inspiration for the castle of that name in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Old Mortality.   Back in the early ’80s we lived near the castle and used to walk along the line of the old railway for a day out at Tillietudlem.  I think that must have stuck in my mind, because neither of us wanted to get stuck in a traffic jam trying to get to the coast today, but we agreed it would be good to be out somewhere.  I suggested Craignethan as that ‘somewhere’, and it was settled, that’s where we went.

I’d forgotten quite how far out in the sticks it was.  Netherburn was the back of beyond, but Tillietudlem was beyond that again.  The sun came out for us when we got there and we spent a good hour or two remembering simpler days when a walk to the castle was a great experience for all the family.  We drove back through Netherburn, but hardly recognised any of it at all.  Stopped for a roll and a cup of coffee at the antique centre at Garrion Bridge, then home.

The sun had disappeared by the time we got home, but it was still warm, so I went out for a walk over St Mo’s and got today’s PoD of a damselfly.  As usual, all is not as it seems.  It’s a bit of a Frankenstein damselfly.  I had one good shot of its head and most of it’s body apart from the tail, and another with less of  the head, but all of the tail.  It’s a simple thing to join the two in Photoshop, so that’s what I did.  More photos of the day in Flickr (again, if Flickr is playing nice).

After a bit of an argument about how to make a quiche, we finally collaborated and made two.  We’ve eaten one and the other will do lunch tomorrow.  Pudding today was Orange jelly with our own stewed rhubarb in it.  Quite, quite delicious.

Didn’t manage to get a seat in the garden in the sun today, but did get one at Tillietudlem, watching and listening to the swallows flying round the castle.  It was a good day.

Tomorrow Scamp’s getting her hair cut and maybe I’ll go in to Glasgow and get my number 3 all over, just to tidy myself up a bit.  Rain is predicted 🙁

 

Grand Prix Crashes and Beasties – 14 July 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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