The Messages – 20 February 2020

Today we planned to go somewhere to stock up on messages.

We drove to Falkirk and just managed to miss seeing a gigantic tractor lose its trailer which was now lying on its side blocking a roundabout at the entrance to Falkirk Hospital. Police and a heavy breakdown truck in attendance trying to keep the roundabout clear. Luckily we were on the other half or the roundabout. Further down the road a fire engine was heading towards the roundabout with blue lights on. I said to Scamp “I think we’ll take a different road home.”

We bought Morrisons today. I quite like Morrisons now. They have a totally different selection from Tesco and they also sell Yorkshire Mixtures sweets. I get a bag about once a month. Today they also had £10 off my whisky of the moment. Lastly they do one of the best Roll ’n’ Sausage for a knock down price. So after we’d bought the shop and I’d headed into a snowstorm that lasted about 5 minutes to fill the Juke’s boot. After that, we had lunch.

Back home and before I sat down, I got a message again to phone the surgery. What was it this time? One of the vampires had phoned in sick with anaemia and needed a quick fix? They’d got the labels wrong again and they wanted to tell me I was pregnant? Neither of the above. It was just to tell me that the doctor had left a prescription for me at reception. They couldn’t tell me what the prescription was for or why the nurse hadn’t mentioned it to me yesterday. I just left and drove up to the health centre. Discovered that the prescription WAS for me and it was because my urine sample had shown a slight infection. It must be something to do with my age and the fact that I had a severe infection last year. They’re being ultra-cautious. Well, better to deal with it than to have the pain I had last time.

Home again and the rain that had been pelting down had stopped, so I took an hour to myself in St Mo’s and managed to catch some late afternoon sun. Favourite shot was of a multi branch Cladonia lichen. That became PoD.

Today’s SoD was to be “Sparkling”. I chose Mrs McQueen’s favourite hat. It’s got lots of sparkly bits and bobs on it, so it fit the bill perfectly. I’m quite impressed with my render of the velvet in it. It seems to hold the creases and folds well.

Tomorrow, for once, we have no plans.

Another visit to the doc’s tomorrow – 18 February 2020

Not another blood test this time.

Got a message to call the surgery and was given an appointment tomorrow with the nurse to discuss my results. They had a free spot at 8.40am! I bet they did, as far as I know they still have it, and they can keep it too. Do you really think I’m getting up at 7.30am to have breakfast then drive through the gathering school runs just to find out that the nurse is running late and doesn’t arrive until 9.30? I think not. There’s a reason that slot is free. It’s because nobody wants it. I’m going at a sensible 10am. When the nurses will all be in and the weans will be in school.

With that settled, I started my new book “The End of the World Survivors Club”. I started it, but it’s just not cutting it for me. Not as gripping as the first book, but that’s sometimes the way with the second book in a series, or even worse in a trilogy. Because, in the second book of a trilogy, you just know that nothing is going to happen. I may struggle on with this one, but I don’t think so. Sorry Hazy.

I think I spent most of the day getting the blog hammered out in Day One and then posting it online. There must be an easier way to do it than this, it’s just that I haven’t found it yet.

Scamp was feeling a little bit better today, but not well enough to go out for lunch. I don’t blame her. I foolishly went out to get some photos in St Mo’s and got caught in a sleet shower, arriving home soaked. Saw a Golden Eye, nothing to do with James Bond, everything to do with a black & white duck with, you’ve guessed it, golden eyes. Beautiful wee thing it was too. It was too far away to be a contender for PoD, that went to a couple of coots. I really do think they recognise my red jacket and associate that with the person who feeds them bread. As soon as they saw me they gently swam in for some food and I gave them the two slices of granary loaf I’d kept for them after I’d fed the greedy swans and mallards earlier.

Today’s prompt was ‘Tennis’. Like I wrote on Flickr, I don’t like football or golf. Probably a cardinal sin in Scotland. I don’t like tennis either. I just don’t do ball games. Table tennis is the only one I partly mastered.

Tomorrow after the nurse has shouted at me, Scamp and I may go out to lunch in Hamilton. Hopefully, lunch will be a curry.

The Men in Red – 11 February 2020

Today we went to the tower. Luckily we came back again.

Walk to the station. Train to Wimbledon (no Wombles again!). Underground to Earls Court. Change train for Tower Hill, and we’re there. Tower of London awaits.

Walked to the ticket office and got our tickets, concessions of course. Had our bags searched and joined the crowd for the first of many interesting and really entertaining bloodthirsty stories of the tower’s chequered history told by the Yeoman Warder in his black and red uniform (Don’t dare call it a costume!). Beheadings, stranglings, hangings and interments, they were all laid out in their gory glory. It was great fun. The only problem was the wind. It stole away any warmth in the sun and nearly blew away our Yeoman Warder’s hat. Poor bloke must have been chilled to the bone having to stand there and give his talks.

After our 45 minute tour we went in search of some coffee and possibly some soup to warm us. It was tomato and basil soup and it was very welcome. Next Scamp wanted to see the Crown Jewels. Now I’m not entirely convinced that what we saw were the actual Crown Jewels, but they were certainly impressive. As well as the Crowns, lots of them, Sceptres another bucket load and a cardboard box of Orbs, there were platters, plates, punch bowls (one big enough to use as a bath) and assorted cutlery and tableware. All behind glass and looking splendid, but how would I a non-expert be able to tell if they were real or fake? I reckon the real stuff is in a vault somewhere guarded by a dozen big Alsatians and a battalion of the SAS. The vault itself is on an island with a moat infested with crocodiles and the Loch Ness Monster’s wee brother. That’s where I’d put the Crown Jewels, not in a glass box for every Tom, Dick and Harry to gawp at. They weren’t even in the Tower itself. They were in a building across the road. The Tower is used to display all the guns, swords and assorted weaponry from down the ages. Interesting, but pointless these days. (Note: Some of the swords were definitely NOT pointless. They had very real points.). It was the tower that provided the PoD.

When we’d had our fill of riches and weapons and been told all the blood-thirsty stories, we took the trains back to Hazy’s and dinner. It was good to be somewhere warm after all that freezing wind.

Today’s prompt was ‘Burn’. My take on it was burning the candle at both ends. We all do it. We all think we’re getting away with it, but sooner or later, that plan of action will catch up with us.

Windy Willy – 9 February 2020

Windy Willy was doing his best to make life difficult today.

Actually, Willy had nothing to do with it today. The trouble was all caused by Storm Ciara as it swept in from the Atlantic. Even in Hazy’s fairly sheltered bungalow, the wind was fairly thumping the roof as it bounced around the houses.

The storm didn’t stop Canute and Delia arriving and taking us to lunch. Just the two of us because Hazy chose to stay and rest after the excitement of JIC and Sim’s visit and the revelations after dinner. We drove to Chessington Garden Centre. I didn’t think it would be open with all the storm warnings and Canute said there were a few trees blown down near them. However, we needn’t have worried. There were hungry people out there with money to spend, so the garden centre was open and doing a brisk trade in meals.

After lunch we browsed what was available in the garden part of the garden centre. Scamp wanted to pot up a London Pride which my mum always called Nancy Pretty so we got a bag of compost an a pot. Canute and Delia also bought something, but it’s redacted until ND comes home.

Canute drove us back thorough more stormy weather, flooded roads, road works fences spread across the road, tree branches blown down, the usual aftermath of a storm, except the storm was still there as the news broadcasts were happily telling us.

PoD turned out to be a fig still clinging on to the tree in H&N’s front garden.  SoD was a padlock because the prompt was “Lock”.  For some reason ink drawings get fewer ‘likes’ than watercolours in EDiF and 28 DL.  Must try a pencil sketch soon to see how that fares.

Tomorrow we may go to Epsom if the storm has subsided a bit.

The 365/6 must continue – 8 February 2020

JIC and Sim were visiting us today for lunch.

We’d bought a chicken yesterday and today it was due to be roasted. However, before that I was tasked with making some scones. I’ve only ever made them at home in our oven which I have a love/hate relationship with. Sometimes it works perfectly, but as it’s a fan-assisted gas oven, setting temperature is a bit of a hit and miss affair. Scamp is very good at getting it to the right setting for most things, but I’m always unsure exactly how it should be set. Hazy and ND have an electric eye level fan oven and it’s really easy to set and easy to use. I’d like one of those. It would go well with the four ring gas hob I’d also like. Yes, H&N have one of them too. The upshot of all this is that the scones, although made from a sticky wet dough, turned out perfectly. The best Lemonade Scones I’ve made, ever. All evenly baked and browned.

After my scones came out, the chicken went in. J&S arrived bang on time and dinner was great. Just one big family gathering. It’s such a pity ND wasn’t able to be there, but I suppose it’s a fair distance to travel from Goa just for a chicken dinner and some well baked scones. Maybe next time. It was at the end of the meal that The Next Time was revealed.

There has been some planning going on for my birthday, it seems. JIC, Hazy and ND are coming up north to celebrate with me. Unfortunately, Sim will have to dog-sit for Vixen as they can’t get her in to kennels because the visit will be during the Easter holidays. That revelation took me quite by surprise. I hadn’t expected it at all and nearly had me in tears.

The other thing that transpired was how much my readership enjoy the 365 or 366 as it is this year. So, despite my protestations that it takes a lot of time and effort, not to mention software to keep it going, it will continue. I was really sorry when JIC and Sim had to leave, but it won’t be long until Easter.

PoD was a desiccated plant in Hazy’s bathroom. I just liked it.
SoD was a wee man in a boat fishing to take the prize for “Fish”.

Tomorrow Scamp, Hazy and I have been invited out to lunch by Canute and Delia. More people. More chat, and entertaining chat too as it always is with Canute.

London – 7 February 2020

Today we were going to the Tower of London, except …

When we’d walked the mile or so to the train station I realised that neither of us had the details that Neil had so kindly typed up for us. Time for a change of plan.

We’d still go in to London, but instead of visiting the Tower we’d go for a wander and find somewhere new to visit. To start with we’d find a coffee shop. Not as easy as you’d think in London. Loads of coffee shops, but none where I’d deign to actually drink their coffee. Eventually we found Westminster Bridge and along from that we found St James’ Park which looked promising on another beautiful bright sunny day. Loads of other folk seemed to find it interesting too and most of them were Italian or French or Spanish it seemed. Hundreds of them, maybe even thousands, and all of them were watching the pelicans or having their photo taken with them. Pelicans in London? According to Wikipedia ”Pelicans have been a feature of St James’s Park since 1664 when the Russian Ambassador presented them to King Charles II.” Who knew? Well, apart from Wikipedia.  A picture of a pelican made PoD

Further on, we went to look at Mrs McQueen’s big hoose, but I don’t think she was in. Either that or she was hiding from the hordes who were gazing intently through her railings hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody royal. Either that or they were waiting to see the changing of the guards. I don’t know why they’re changing them anyway, they seemed alright the last time I saw them on the TV. We walked back along the Mall and found a coffee shop in Waterstones where they sold a decent latte fro Scamp and some burnt water for me. Lovely Danish pastries though! After that we went to Covent Garden where we heard some dodgy opera singer and I got a tee shirt.

After searching for somewhere to eat we settled for a pub lunch. Macaroni and (a ton of) Cheese for Scamp and an apparently prize winning pie for me. The pie casing was lovely, as was the veg, but the meat was tough. Walked along the banks of the Thames and caught the train back. Maybe we’ll visit the Tower another day … with the directions!

Today’s topic was “Fly” and my take on it was a fly of the Dragon persuasion.

Tiger – 4 February 2020

A beautiful bright morning. Seemed a shame to waste it.

Drove over to Drumpellier Park and walked round the loch in the sunshine. On the far side of the loch the water had overflowed into the bank of trees and it looked just like a mangrove swamp. We were expecting to see crocodiles in the water and a snake or two hanging from the trees, but all we saw were a gang of Mallards quacking away as they paddle through the maze of tree trunks. We went for a coffee in the wee cafe, at least it was coffee we asked for, but I think we got Babychinos instead. There certainly wasn’t much coffee in evidence. The place seemed to be full of mums and babies, three of whom were having a laughing competition to see who could make the most noise. Even the scones were a disappointment today. Not a good day at the cafe.

Drove home and after lunch I thought I should start today’s sketch and the topic was Tiger. I’d thought of doing a Tiger Lily or a De Havilland Tiger Moth, but finally put pen to paper and copied a tiger from a Google Images shot. My first attempt wasn’t all that good, so I tried a practise piece on my doodle sheet, beginning with the nose rather than the eyes. Then the beast you see above appeared through the doodles! It became PoD.

Scamp and I were discussing PoDs this morning and I was admitting that the quality of my PoDs of late has not been really worthy of the name. On dull, wet, dark days it’s difficult to find suitable subjects for the PoD, or even a decent photo to put into the 365. I’m loathe to stop the 366, but I have to say that the time it takes to make a silk purse from a pig’s ear photo, even in the best of software is disproportionate to the quality of the finished product. Also, taking the photos, processing them, sketching something that fits the February day’s prompt and then posting both shots, plus the blog takes a lot of time. As some of you will have noticed, if anything else happens on any given day, the blog is the one that suffers and I find myself playing catch-up next day.

With that in mind, and it being February, I intend to still take a photo if the light and the weather suits, but hopefully I’ll manage to complete a drawing or painting from the month’s list and this will become PoD. Hopefully once February is over and we are into the lighter days of March there will be more opportunities for photos DV. If not, then I will probably suspend the 366 and just post the occasional good quality photo.

Plans have been made for tomorrow. Hoping for some decent light to get some photos too.

Dreadful Dancing – 3 February 2020

But before we come to that, it was a windy, wet day, but I posted a letter, solved a problem (perhaps), got rid of some stuff and I got one decent shot.

So, with Gems coming today and no Margie because she’d called off, I grabbed the letter and a bag of old laptop batteries and went out to solve a problem. The problem was the poor mpg on the Juke. I took JIC at his word and checked the tyre pressures. Front 31psi should be 36. Rear 29psi should be 31. The rear ones weren’t a problem, but the front ones certainly were. Crouched in a heavy rain shower and got them all up to the recommended pressures with the automatic pump at the petrol station, because I don’t trust my old pump that plugs into the lighter socket. It seems to be working JIC. Mpg seems to have improved after a very rough and ready check. Will keep you posted.

Next on the list was the letter. I’d recently signed myself fit in mind and body to drive a motor vehicle and was given a new plastic driving licence free of charge on the understanding that I’d cut through the old licence and return it to the DVLA. I cut it up over a week ago and today I posted it away.

The stuff I was getting rid of was a collection of old laptop batteries. Two HP and two Apple batteries. Easy peasy, there is a metal container at the recycling centre where you can drop them off. There’s a load more stuff that needs recycled from the back bedroom, but that can wait until next week.

With that all done, I drove up to Fannyside Moor looking for some inspiration. It came in the form of a bank of cloud lying over the loch. I’ve photographed that tree for many years with many cloudscapes behind it and with varying degrees of success. Today wasn’t one of the best, but it recorded the day.

With that I drove home and started to make dinner. Tonight it was red pasta day. Just a basic sugo with some finely chopped shallots and mushrooms mixed in. Seemed to work well.

Now the dancing. We started with the Saunter Together which I thought we’d mastered, but I was wrong. After a couple of dummy runs we did a passable version of the first part, but the second part still eludes me. Next was Foxtrot and I was confident we’d have that off pat. Again I was wrong. We just kept making mistakes. I got lost. Scamp was determined to turn the opposite way from the one I was trying to turn her in (for once, I was right too!). We just made a pig’s ear of it. Finally the Waltz, and finally we found we could dance that. Not perfectly, but definitely much the best of all tonight’s dances. Only stayed for an hour because our brains were befuddled.

Came home and I sketched tonight’s Burger. I don’t like salad on my burger and I detest mayo on it too, so my burger is a hamburger with a nice piece of melted cheese. If I’m going to have to draw and paint it, I might as well make it the burger I’d actually eat.

So, some successes and some work in progress. Wind seems to have died down a lot after a very stormy night last night. That said, it was sleet that was falling when we were on the way to the dance class tonight.

Tomorrow no real plans. Maybe move the settee round and clear the floor for some Foxtrot practise.

I saw shadows today – 2 February 2020

It was another of those dull days we’ve grown to accept this January and February. I went out for a walk and saw some shadows.

You don’t get shadows on a dull day. They only appear when there’s direct sunlight. It didn’t last long, but I managed to get a few shots in the time it was there. One of them became PoD and that’s what you see above.

Earlier, in the morning to be more exact, I started to recover the back room from the piles of rubbish and not-so-rubbish that was covering every horizontal surface. I used my usual FKB method. File, Keep, Bin. Some of the stuff was in the Keep box. Some went into the File box, in fact some of the stuff that had been put in the Keep box got moved to the File box in phase 2. The remainder dropped into the Bin which is now overflowing. The bonus from this is that I’ve once again found the top of the chest of drawers and with just a little more work, I’ll be able to sit on the sofa.

Later in the afternoon, I went out in the rain to try to find some photos, that’s when I found the sunlight and grabbed my few shots. Back home I started to make dinner – paella. We were just finishing dinner when Scamp’s phone announced that tonight’s Sunday Social had been cancelled because the Record Factory was hosting a Super Bowl evening instead. I wouldn’t like to be in their shoes when Shannon goes eyeball to eyeball with them tomorrow. That Canadian snarl will freeze them to the floor. Seriously though, 15 minutes before the social was due to start and we get a message to say it’s been cancelled. Somebody somewhere has some explaining to do.

At least it gave me an extra two or three hours to get my February drawing done. Today’s topic was Paris and rather than do the usual and expected Eiffel Tower, I drew one of the gargoyles from Notre Dame. The purists will know that you can’t actually see the Eiffel Tower from this angle, but that’s what artistic licence was designed for.

Tomorrow is a Gems day. I’m hoping for another few minutes of shadows to allow me to grab some more photons.

It rained – 29 January 2020

I think it had an early breakfast to give it the strength to keep going all day.

There was no chance of going out photographing today without a pair of waders or a wetsuit. The furthest we went was Tesco to get the makings of tonight’s dinner and also some of the makings of Friday night’s dinner. At Tesco I bumped into the bloke who used to own the garage we always took our cars to. Now his sons run the place and he’s retired. I asked him how he was getting on with having so much time to himself and although said he was keeping busy, I didn’t get the impression that he was totally relaxed with it. It takes a while to leave one lifestyle and embrace another.

Back home we ignored today’s dinner and Friday night’s dinner and concentrated on tomorrow’s itinerary and lunch. I think we have it sorted now. Hopefully I’ll be singing its praises tomorrow.

For dinner tonight Scamp made Chicken Cacciatore. It was delicious. I couldn’t attempt something like that. I’d take my hat off to her if I was wearing one.

Today’s PoD was a tabletop shot of my partly disassembled pens and a drawing to prove that I’m getting ready for 28 Drawings Later which starts on Saturday.

Tomorrow, a day in town for lunch and hopefully not so much rain.