Well, the gardens need the rain – 25 May 2019

As you will have gathered, it rained today, almost incessantly. I do believe it’s raining still.

It didn’t keep us in. It almost did, but we both got a bit ‘scratchy’ and needed to get out, just to see how heavy the rain was. It wasn’t all that heavy, just irritatingly wet and constant. We consoled ourselves with the title of the blog. The gardens do need the rain. I tried a sort of rain dance the other day by washing the car, that usually triggers a shower, but it didn’t work. It kept the car feeling smooth for a day, but after that the sticky, sugary sap dripped from the trees outside and made it feel like sandpaper again.

We drove to Kirkintilloch to have lunch at Calders garden centre. I attempted a haggis and mozzarella panini, but it must have weighed over a kilo and I had to give up on it. Scamp had the more sensible tuna sandwiches. After that we just drove home. I’d hoped to get a chance to sketch Underwood Lockhouse for today’s challenge, but sketching in the rain is no fun. I’ve tried it and it’s just annoying, not to say impossible. If you like random washes on your drawing, then try it, but it’s not for me. Instead, we just drove home where Scamp settled down and I just paced the floor. It did wonders for my step count, but nothing for my peace of mind. There was only one thing for it. I was going out for a walk in the rain. To my mind there is nothing more calming than a walk in the rain, especially if you are well dressed for it. I was partly well dressed for it. Down to, but not including my feet I was impervious to the rain, but my old boots were leaking like a sieve. They need to be replaced and soon. However, I just accepted the wet socks and squelching feeling and took some photos to clear my head. My favourite was the waterlogged dandelion clock you see at the top. Others are now on Flickr, if it’s working. It’s been a bit temperamental since their latest upgrade.

Back home it was time to search out a photo of a ruined building. I still hankered after a drawing of Underwood, but eventually settled on a ruined house near the airport in Fuerteventura. I quite liked the finished result. Tomorrow should be a bit easier: A cup of tea / coffee.

The rest of tomorrow will hopefully be filled with listening to and perhaps dancing to the Shivering Sheiks, then watching a thrilling GP from Monaco where we would have been if we’d taken the option of an early season cruise!

Coffee with Fred

Val was off on holiday to Dunoon, (serves him right) and Colin was being “The man who worked in the garden”. So it was just Fred and me.

Read for a while, trying to eke out the last few pages of “The Boy and His Dog at The End of The World” by C. A. Fletcher. (There you go, Hazy. That saves me emailing you). That’s when the aforementioned Hazy phoned and I had to dress and get down stairs to find out about all things London-side.

Out to meet Fred in Costa. Not so much a coffee shop as somewhere to leave the kids while you talk to your mates. That’s how the mothers in Cumbersheugh seem to view it anyway. Today was less screamy than usual with fewer weans trying, unsuccessfully, to jump from the top of the stairs to the land balletically at the bottom. Most of the ‘mummies’ just looked around and said those famous words of Mhairi’s “They bounce!” Our own conversations ranged around his sketches, my sketches, the world in general, how much better it was when we were younger. All true. Well, it was better when we were both younger. The world was a much better and safer place than it is today. After an hour and a half of reminiscing, we both went our separate ways. Me to go home for a late lunch and him to Tesco. We agreed to meet in a few weeks time.

Came home and tried unsuccessfully to coax the Sony TV to play the video that was on the memory stick I’d inserted. I got so fed up with the whole thing I took my Olys for a walk over to St Mo’s to see if there was anything worth photographing. Got the one at the top of the page and nice shot of a dandelion clock, but don’t bother trying to see it online, because somebody’s broken Flickr. It’s called Ongoing Maintenance apparently.

When I came home, I did the unthinkable and read the instruction book for the TV, where I found out that the format for the video was not MP4 using an H.264 profile (no, I don’t know what that is either), but MPEG (no, nor that one either). I tried converting a short video to MPEG and it worked! Hooray. About two and a half hours wasted and all I had to do was RTFM (Read The F*cking Manual).

Today’s topic for sketching is A Well-used Bag: Fred laughed when I told him. Fred has a dirty mind and an even dirtier laugh. The bag I drew was my old camera bag that I’ve recently sewn back to life again. I’d forgotten how useful it was to take only the camera you’re going to use with you and not a bucket full of lenses that you won’t use. Simple.

Made a focaccia again today to go with a lovely salad Scamp made. How on earth did some Italian punter years ago came up with the idea of pouring one and a half times the usual amount of water into a dough and then pouring a jug full of oil in too before he / she attempted to knead the slurry into something resembling a dough? What made them think it would work? The strange thing is, it works really, really well. I’d just like to know how they came up with such a strange recipe.

Tomorrow, we’re going for lunch somewhere, and then it’s going to rain.

Out to lunch – 23 May 2019

Today we were going out to Hebo House for lunch.

If you don’t understand what Hebo House is, don’t Google it. The original sign read THE BOAT HOUSE (all caps). After the original owners sold up, some of the sign’s letters disappeared and it now reads HE BO HOUSE, hence Hebo House. Much better when it’s not shouting at you too. It’s been re-opened for some time now, but the present owner(s) can’t be bothered to fix the sign. Maybe they too like the kudos of the Hebo House. The lunch was quite good, by the way. Mine was a burger and it worked for me. Scamp had a chicken burger that also looked good.

Now that we were fed and watered (soft drinks only) we went for a walk along the canal, mainly because my task for today was “A bridge over a river or canal”. We walked under the bridge, and I took photos from both sides and neither looked interesting enough to sketch. The other thing was the temperature. The car thermometer said 14ºc, but outside the wind sucked a lot of that heat away. We didn’t walk far. We just headed for Lidl in Kilsyth for essentials (wine, beer and ice cream) and came home. I still hadn’t a photo, so I drove down to the Luggie and went for a walk, because the sun had come out and it became pleasantly warm. Not only did I get my PoD shot of the railway arches, but I also got the ink sketch for today’s EDiM topic: A bridge over a river or canal: Bridge over Luggie Water. This is a lovely place for a walk. Along beside the Luggie Water under this bridge and then under the arches of the railway bridge. A lovely place … in the daylight at least! Don’t go after dark. Not without kevlar armour and a very big stick.

Used one of my sketches as today’s drawing and slapped some paint on it tonight. I like it.  Like Scamp says, “You can walk into it”.  Made a pizza tonight just for a wee snack since we hadn’t had anything substantial since early afternoon and the pizza was slightly overdone, but very nice.

That was it for the day. Tomorrow I’m having coffee with Fred at lunchtime and maybe a pizza for lunch before that. I believe someone is going to have to make a focaccia at some time too.

Private Dancer – 22 May 2019

Well, almost. More like a private lesson for the normal price.

Because Wednesdays are such a rush, in the morning I got started on the sketch for the day. I’d taken a photo of the playpark last week and only had to transfer it to the tablet upstairs using Dropbox. While I was drawing, the gardener was planting in the new bed under the back window. Her final decision was to plant the green spotty plant and a couple of others in the space we had, then add some lower level primulas which we had split up yesterday. By the time she was finished, I had laid down the ink outline and it was lunch time. When I checked my email I found that Jamie G would be in Embra today. That would put paid to Salsa tonight.

After lunch we drove in to Glasgow to dance some Jive. It turned out that we were the only couple there for our level and had Michael’s undivided attention, which meant he’d catch every mistake we made, and we made a few. However, although we didn’t learn any new moves, we cleared up and cleaned up a lot of the ones we did know. Quickstep followed Jive and the same thing happened. Little things that we knew we were doing wrong were spotted and corrected. We’ve a lot of practise ahead of us this week.

While we were walking along Ingram Street, a wee man stopped in front of us and started photographing the glass building with his phone. We had a chat about the reflections on the building and the great shape of the curves. I took a few shots myself because the reflections looked so good today. I’d just switched the camera off when a seagull passed along the face of the building and the glass facets picked it up and multiplied its reflections so it looked like a flock of seagulls … and my camera was off! I must try and get that shot again. It looked lovely in my mind’s eye. PoD became the reflections on the building minus seagull! After a coffee we drove home.

Back home I started adding colour to the sketch and although it looks ok, it’s not as fresh as it could be. Overworked, I think. It was after dinner time when I checked on Facebook that I found the update from Jamie G to say that he’d make it back for class after all. That was a bummer, especially as there isn’t a class on Monday because of the bank holiday. That means our next class will be next Wednesday. Oh well, these things happen.

Tomorrow Scamp is meeting Shona for coffee and then I think we may go out for lunch.

Will it stay or will it go? – 21 May 2019

Remember the big green plant with the spotty leaves Scamp bought yesterday? Well today it was going back … or was it?

To start the day I wanted to create order from the chaos of my painting room. It needed a good clean out and today was going to be the day for it, despite the blue skies outside and the sunshine outside and partly because Scamp was outside, planning!

After about an hour putting stuff away where it should have been and failing utterly to throw anything out except my old bike boots, and even they are not certain to find their way to the tip, the room did look better. I found the top of the chest of drawers again after a it had been reported missing a few weeks ago. That’s when Scamp came up and told me she was taking the big green plant back. According to the website you had 28 days to take things back. It was too big and was not going to fit in the place under the window she’d intended putting it in. I told her perhaps that 28 day rule didn’t apply to plants and was intended for hardware. She wasn’t to be turned from her path, so she phoned the garden centre and was assured that, Yes you could return plants. So it was settled the big green spotty plant was going back. We stood and looked at the place it was sitting among the other plants she’d arranged in the new space. I didn’t think it looked all that out of place, but we’d forgotten that there was a large unmovable Magnolia Stellata standing in the corner and perhaps she was right the green plant was too big. That’s the I had the light bulb moment. We were looking at the plant, in its pot, standing on the ground. When it was planted it would drop in height by about 200mm (8” in old money). Ah, that made a big difference. Hmm, I could see a sea change happening. Maybe, just maybe it would be alright after all. Her final decision was that we should plant it and revise our decision after a year, or at least a few months. Of course we couldn’t take it back then, but we could just dig it up and dispose of it.

The rest of the day was spent gardening. We put up the pea netting and planted the half a dozen pea plants in the raised bed. I think that’s the raised bed effectively full. The leeks are thickening up nicely, the calabrese is growing well not that we’re killing off the slugs that were attacking it and the kale is settling in nicely. The whole garden is looking good. We even measured out the area for the proposed raised bed / planter for the front garden. It’s probably too big for one single planter and I’m suggesting two beds, each 2m long by about 1.5m wide. It’s still in the sketchy ‘back of a fag packet’ stage. When we move on to Inventor and AutoCad it will become more ‘real’.

We were watching the BBC news at lunchtime when the picture froze on the TV and after a few seconds showed the ‘fault’ screen with a number to call if the program did not return. I phoned. Apparently they were “… receiving more calls than normal and the waiting time is 20 minutes”. The recording went on to suggest we phone back at the quiet time between 2pm and 4pm. It was 2.15 at this point. Not only was the TV disrupted, the broadband was dead too. Without broadband we are helpless these days. You need it to get the number to phone to report that your broadband isn’t working. Also, as we live in a ‘shadow area’ not very well covered by 4G we have to go outside to use the mobile phone to check what’s wrong. Eventually, after half an hour, service was resumed. You never miss the water ‘till the well runs dry!

Went out to St Mo’s for a walk in the sun and to take some photos later in the afternoon. Took a few macro shots, but that’s all. The best one of the buttercup got PoD. Saw two dragonflies, not damselflies, but dragonflies while I was out.  That’s most unusual in May. While I was out Scamp cut the back and front grass and also hoovered the downstairs. I know she reads this, so that’s why I’m saying “Leave some of it for me”. Delegation is the name of the game.

Today’s sketch topic was Something You Collect. So, Weemen (Minifigs) or cameras? Why not both? So that’s what I did. Not my best, but maybe I just need to settle down with it for a few days. That’s what’s happening with the liquorice allsorts sketch from yesterday. It’s growing on me.

Tomorrow, of course, is hopefully dancing in the afternoon and also perhaps at night.

A Dull Day

Today was one of those days where it always looked like it was just about to rain … but never did.

Not a day for going out, we decided, but a day for getting things done. Scamp got some emails written I got a parcel wrapped up and a difficult letter written. Other than that, we did very little. I took a walk round the garden late in the afternoon and took today’s PoD which is a close up of a rhododendron flower. Not anything startling, just a flower. At least it wasn’t a cut flower. Pulled some rhubarb and Scamp stewed it for pudding. Nice and sharp with good colour and just the hint of sweetness.

Today’s sketch was “Your favourite shoes”. Not exactly my favourite shoes, but my old trusty bike boots. I bought these many years ago in a sale. They’re Merrell rock climbing boots, but they made excellent cycling boots for use with toe clips. They are now considerably past their best with the soles coming loose and a few tears that I can’t repair. Sadly they must go soon, but they were so much more comfortable than the Shimano shoes I now wear on my bike.

Tomorrow I have a blood test in the morning and a parcel to post. Then the rest of the day is our own because Gems is cancelled. Hopefully dancing at night, because neither of us could be bothered to make a good case for going dancing tonight.

What’s that water falling from the sky – 18 May 2019

It rained today, almost all day, on and off. That held back the desert for a few days.

Scamp volunteered to drive us through torrential rain to Stirling to go to Dobbies to get an adaptor for the new kitchen tap to allow us to connect the hose. They didn’t have the one I’d intended getting, but we did get an alternative. Scamp got a top in a Country Casuals franchise and I got a baseball cap. Originally it was to keep the sun off my head, but there was no need for it today. Next stop was Bridge of Allan for lunch at Vecchia Bologna. Unfortunately half of Scotland decided they wanted lunch there too, so we went elsewhere. After negotiating some of BoA’s roundabouts we found a parking space on the bridge over the Allan Water and we went to the Allanwater Cafe for fish ’n’ chips. Not your ordinary fish either, but breaded fish which is a ‘special’ fish in the rest of the chip shop world. We’ve passed this wee cafe many times and always intended to go in. Today we did and our fish tea was really very good. We’ll be back, all being well.

Got back to the car and it was dry for a while as we made our way home. Got to Broadwood roundabout and found traffic chaos. Cars everywhere. Folk getting out of cars in the middle of the traffic jam, just mental. There’s only one thing that can cause such madness and it’s football. Sure enough, Clyde were playing Annan in the Scottish 27th division cup final. Eventually we got home by a circuitous route. While the shellshocked Scamp cursed herself for volunteering to drive today and settled her nerves with a ‘white tea’, I went for a walk to St Mo’s as I’d intended getting a few photos in Stirling and the airts, but the rain had put paid to that, so St Mo’s it was. Found lots of interesting stuff, but PoD went to the Snail Race down a tree trunk.

Back home and started today’s sketch which was “A collection of bottles”. All ink bottles of differing colours and designs. It appeared that every one had a different style of cap, but all one colour … black.

Made some cauliflower pakora and some onion bhajis which were deemed good enough to keep until tomorrow.

Tomorrow we may go dancing in Record Factory, but I’ll be driving!

An open door policy – 16 May 2019

The door opened this morning and has been locked and unlocked a few times now. I call that a success.

Cut my hair after I got up. Number 4 all over. Thankfully Scamp corrected the bits I’d missed, and there were a few. After that I sat for a while in the sunny living room completing today’s Sudoku puzzle and also doing a quick painting of the fruit bowl with the oranges looking shiny and colourful in the sun.

With nothing else to do today and nowhere in particular to go. We finally settled on Stirling, or to be more exact, Waitrose in Stirling for the ‘messages’. I don’t know if you can actually go to Waitrose for ‘messages’. I think you go there to shop, or for shopping. We bucked the trend and went for messages.

Came home and tried to stop at Calders for some more plants. Calders was full, completely full. Not one parking space. Drove home and had lunch. An hour or two later we went back and got the plants and also a hook to hold our refilled hanging basket. Came home via Asda where I was hoping to get a couple of miniatures of whisky. The had none. It looked ominously as if that particular shelf had been cleared on purpose. This needed investigation.

Back home the sun was still shining and while it wasn’t as warm as yesterday, it was certainly shorts and tee shirt weather. So, suitably dressed I went for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s when the camera gave me a “Card Error!” Ejected it and re-inserted. Same result. After trying every thing I could think of, I knew the game was up and went for a non-photography walk over to Condorrat to see if Spar had the miniatures. Nope, they didn’t have them either. Eventually I phoned the Whisky Shop in Glasgow and was told, Yes, they had hundreds of them. The reason for the dearth elsewhere was because of new legislation for licensed premises that means they have to pay an extra fee and some are not willing to do so. Solved. Going in to Glasgow tomorrow to purchase a couple.

Still no photo, but then thought I’d take a few shots of our Strawberry & Cream Aquilegia. Set up the tripod and a few bits and pieces. Used a new card this time and it all went well.  The old card went in the bin.

Sketch theme today was A Messy Place. There are no messy places in this house. ;-). Ok. I lied. It ended up like a development sheet from a Craft & Design project, but that covered the brief. It’s done and on time.

Tomorrow, Glasgow may be the preferred destination.

The day the locksmith came – 15 May 2019

I was up early as you can imagine and even started fiddling around with the lock again, but had breakfast before I phoned for a locksmith. With no idea who was good, who was bad, well there was one obvious bad one. The only review he had on Google was one star and one word “Cowboy”. I avoided him and went for one on Yell. The bloke said he’d be out between 10 and 10.30 in the morning. He was as good as his word and he had the door opened in TEN SECONDS!! I kid you not.  Unfortunately, that was only half the story. The locking mechanism was broken and needed to be replaced. That he did with good speed and good humour. Paid him and he was off to Bellshill to fix a garage door that wouldn’t lock. I’d recommend him again to anyone.

That left us just enough time for lunch and to drive in to Glasgow for some Jive, some Quickstep, a bit of Cha-Cha and to finish off, a wee Waltz. Michael showed us the next part of our Jive routine and we also had a go at New Yorkers in Cha-Cha and a bit of the next stage in Quickstep. He really does fly through the routines.

Home and after dinner Scamp drove us to the STUC for Intermediate Salsa which was fun and Beginners Salsa which was not. Two girls, one slightly the worse for wear and one three sheets to the wind kind of spoiled the class. Yes, salsa is meant to be fun, but not to the extent that you giggle all the way through the class. That’s called Steamin’.

PoD was a hastily shot photo of the first flowering Aquilegia. Must do better. Sketch topic today was A Tree. I chose Chestnut and the result is here. It started out well, but I ran out of time. A common complaint on a Wednesday.

Tomorrow? I don’t have a clue. Today was hot. Temperature according to the car was max 25ºc and I could believe it. Tomorrow is to be cooler and not as sunny.

A walk in the park with a pokey hat – 14 May 2019

Today was a scorcher. We decided to go to Dunfermline for a walk in the park.

It looked like we had left it too late because there seemed to be no room in the usual car park at Pittencrieff Park. We even tried going further in to the park, but there were no spaces there either. Then Lady Luck smiled on us and as we were leaving I decided to have one last run round to see if anyone had moved. Someone had and it was a space under a flowering cherry tree. So not only did we have a space to park in, we had a nice flowery parasol to shade the Juke from the sun! I even took a couple of shots of the parasol and that made PoD.

We walked in to the park and, as the ice cream van was there and it was sunny, we had a cone each with Mr Whippy ice cream. Two of my readers will maybe remember Papa and Gran calling a cone, a pokey hat. That’s what we had, a pokey hat each. It was lovely ice cream too. Walked over to the long greenhouses at the far end of the park and while Scamp sat outside I went in for a nosey, mainly because the last twice we’ve been in the park, the greenhouses have been closed. Not today, and it looked like there had been some cleaning up done since we’d last been there. Also lots of the plants had labels on. Really useful.

Scamp had noticed an improvement to the general condition of the park too and as we walked round the formal garden, it was obvious that some time and money had been spent on it. Not before time.

We walked up into the town, but there isn’t much to see or do in Dunfermline now. It’s just like so many Scottish towns, more closed shops than open ones. It gets a bit depressing seeing it all over the country. We had coffee and shared a panini in Nero and then made our way back to the car. We visited a wee garden centre on the way home where Scamp got some trailing plants and I got some kale plants, because I kept forgetting to plant the seeds. I’ll put them in the raised bed tomorrow, hopefully. I also got a tap adaptor for the garden hose. Unfortunately when we got home I discovered that it wasn’t the right size for the kitchen tap, but it did fit the downstairs toilet, so we could at least water the front garden tonight. The hose is a Hozelock, and the adaptor is a Flopro, but the are interchangeable. What a brilliant idea. Both systems can live in harmony with each other. Wouldn’t it be great if our esteemed political parties could do the same!

Came home and drew today’s sketch which was A Toy.

Now found out at 11.15pm that the front door has locked itself shut and won’t open. It’s a UPVC door with the long bar running the height of the door. Locksmith needed in the morning I think. It may be a long day tomorrow!