Oh no! Snow! – 16 March 2019

We were promised snow today, and we got it.

For about an hour it snowed this morning, then the snow turned to sleet, and later to rain. It didn’t keep us in, we’d already agreed we weren’t going out today, so the snow, sleet, rain didn’t change things.

Like a dug wi’ a burst ba’ I continued on my project to get Linux on to the Linx. Eventually I had to agree with the experts who said it couldn’t be done. It can’t. The dug has finally buried the burst ba’. Well, maybe, but it knows where it buried it and it can dig it up again later for another go.

To take my mind off the ba’, I restarted my apple a day project with a painting on expensive Waterford 140lb NOT watercolour paper (NOT stands for Not Hot Pressed, i.e. not perfectly smooth). It was good to paint on paper that doesn’t soak up the paint right away and also doesn’t rub through at the slightest pressure from the brush. I found the paper in a drawer in the painting room. It must be well over twenty years old!

I finally dragged myself out later in the afternoon to plod over to Condorrat because we’d run out of milk and bread. I returned with the aforementioned staples plus chocolate, fudge, a pineapple cake and a rhubarb pie. Equally essential staples! So far we’ve still got the chocolate, but the rest are gone, apart from the bread and milk of course, we’re still working our way through them.

Today’s PoD was taken in St Mo’s, a short diversion from the road back from the shops. It looks like a log jam, but it’s fallen horsetails, one of the oldest groups of grasses. The genus can be traced back 250 million years.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Salsa in Paisley. The last La Rambla salsa social because the restaurant is being taken over by the next door sushi restaurant and salsa isn’t a very Japanese dance. I’ll miss the food, but I won’t miss the terrible service.

Sleet, snow, hail and rain – 10 March 2019

Set off around 9.30 for the long drive back home. It wasn’t looking like it would be a pleasant drive and it lived up to that estimate. Driving down through Skye was ok with the snow keeping mostly to the mountains and higher hills. I managed to grab a shot of the Old Man of Storr just emerging from a blizzard. That became the PoD.

Carried on down to the biscuit tin also know as Eilean Donan castle at Dornie and stopped there for a coffee and a scone each. Suitably refreshed and after I’d had a quick look at some of the paintings for sale in the shop, we got on our way again. The weather worsened quite a bit and when we passed Loch Cluanie it was down to minimal visibility and the snow was beginning to lie on the road. I expected worse would be to come when we made the turn off to climb up to the Glen Garry viewpoint because the road is very exposed. I needn’t have worried because the snow clouds didn’t break and we had a fairly easy run over to Invergarry. From there it was on and off sleet and rain all the way down to Fort Billy where we stopped for lunch.

Refuelled at Fort Billy (oh how I wish the Juke had a proper petrol tank) and set off for Glencoe. Glencoe itself was fine, but when we got up onto Rannoch Moor the snow started again in earnest and we joined a conga line of cars battling down the road. The snow and sleet stayed with us all way down to Crianlarich and eventually faded out, leaving us free to drive down to Stirling and the welcome wide lanes of the M9. We had had a blue van following us all the way from Fort Billy. He/she seemed in no hurry to pass us and we kept a steady pace all the way. Just before they turned off the M9 heading for Embra they flashed their headlights and I gave them a wave. Hope they got home safe.

The rest of the journey was thankfully boring and pedestrian compared with the highlands. Enjoyed the time with Jac & Murdo, but it was good to be home.

Tomorrow? Gems and Salsa that’s about it.

White Rabbits (x3) – 1 February 2019

Traditional welcome to the first day of the month. Today it wasn’t just the rabbits that were white. Everything was.

It all started out so nicely with frost on the cars and therefore no great incentive to go out, so we just read for a while and then had a coffee. After that we simply had to drag ourselves out to buy Tesco.

After lunch I decided to try my luck in the bogs again and this time I found the dry path and still got some photos! Impressed with the ability of the ice to hold the weight of the Oly 10, if not me! Also impressed with the Oly app on the iPhone that allows me to control the camera through a private WiFi connection. That’s how you get these low down shots like today’s PoD.

It was when I was walking back that the snow came on and it didn’t go off for about four hours. Now we don’t just have frost, we have snow too. Maybe the snow has done its work because the temperature is no 0.7ºc. Positive 0.7ºc!

That’s about it for today. I’m off now to get a sketch done for 28 Drawings Later on Facebook. If I have time I’ll even add it to the blog.

As Promised!

Tomorrow it all depends on the weather. I looks like the sky will be clear, but we’ll see!

Pasta Joke – 29 January 2019

Well, the predicted snow didn’t come to much. A few millimetres of manky grey sludge doesn’t constitute a snowfall.

I offered to do the shopping and returned with plain bread, milk and a dozen eggs. All will become clear.

I mixed two of the eggs with some special 00 flour that Scamp had bought last week and then kneaded the resulting mess for the required 10 minutes, wrapped it in cling film and let it cool its heels in the fridge for an hour or two, or three or five as it turned out.

We’d intended cleaning out a cupboard today, but it was a lovely bright cold day although the temperature was above zero because some of the snow was melting. Time enough to go out and get some photos and still get the cupboard cleared.

It’s never that simple. I found a few good places to shoot, mainly landscapes, but then I discovered the fruiting bodies of some moss on a few rocks. Yes, I know it doesn’t sound that interesting, but the light was so good, I had to take a few shots, quite a few shots. By the time I got back, we agreed that it was far too late to start on the cupboard, so we’re leaving it for another day, a less photogenic one. One of the moss shots made PoD.

I assembled my pasta machine and started rolling out the pasta dough from the fridge into decreasing thicknesses. It’s not nearly as easy as they show you in Masterchef. I think my dough was too wet and sticky. It seemed to want to cling to the rollers even after they had been dusted with flour. Eventually after a few tries, a lot of swearing and tantrums, we managed to make some spaghetti.

We cooked the spaghetti in boiling water just like the stuff you get in the deli at the supermarket, but it was a bit doughy and chewy. More practise needed and next time I’ll leave the dough to rest in the kitchen, not in the fridge. It’s a learning curve. However, I know this Italian bloke who might be able to show me how to cut a few corners! Tonight’s dinner was Spaghetti with olive oil for starter, then Minestrone soup and the main course was a haggis, neeps and tatties pie.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go out for dinner. 30th January.

No drops today mum – 28 January 2019

The big event today was getting my annual retinopathy scan.

Once upon a time many years ago the doc told me I had high blood pressure and it needed to be dealt with. You know those special deals you get in the supermarket, three for the price of one? Well, he talked me into getting three for the price of one. As well as high blood pressure, I’d get high cholesterol and diabetes too. Admittedly, in one blood test the sugar level in my blood was elevated, but that was because I was addicted to cheap sweeties at the time. Next blood test was back to normal, but the medical profession is dogged. No, you’re still diabetic. I told them I wasn’t diabetic and took all their tests which proved that I was right. Well, you may not be diabetic, but you are pre-diabetic. There is no way to beat them. As soon as you reach 50 you get given the trilogy HBP, Cholesterol and Diabetes, especially if you live in Scotland. The really lucky ones get COPD as well. Thankfully I’ve managed to dodge that one.

Today the nice nurse lady was taking photos of the back of my eye to see if I could jump the queue and get full blown diabetes. Usually I’m forced to have drops in my eyes that make me virtually blind for about an hour and really supersensitive to bright sun. Did I mention that the sun was really bright today? Luckily the shots turned out well without the need for drops and the sunglasses I’d left at home. Scamp had given me a lift up to the town centre because if I get drops in my eyes and am virtually blind, driving can be a problem. Not for me, but for the poor folk I run into. So it was the bus back home in time to look over Margie’s homework because it’s Monday today and Monday is Gems day. Margie had done amazingly well. The cubes she was drawing were improving out of all recognition. I’m so glad she’s finally got the hang of Two Point Perspective.

When Scamp left to drive Margie home, I started preparing dinner which would be Minestrone soup. It’s the simplest soup in the world to make. You just chuck all the vegetables you have into a pot, add a tin of tomatoes and about a litre of water and boil the stuffing out the mix for an hour. Chuck in some crushed pasta after that and simmer for 15minutes. Done. The hard part is the chopping of the veg, because there is so much of it. It tasted quite good. Maybe a bit too salty, but we both survived it.

Drove to Salsa and enjoyed most of the beginners 6.30pm class and then our own 7.30pm class. Our class were doing Akia and a new move that’s been christened Russia because the couple demonstrating it on YouTube are Russian. Logical for once.

Today’s PoD was a grab shot, taken while walking home from Condorrat in the afternoon. It’s a bolt group on the bridge over the M80.

Tomorrow I think we’re cleaning out a cupboard called the Electricity Cupboard because it houses the distribution board and meter for the electricity. Heavy snow is forecast although it doesn’t seem to have started yet.

Sunday on a Tuesday – 3 April 2018

Have you ever had the feeling that the calendar is wrong and the day it says is Tuesday, is really Sunday. That’s how it was for me today.

It was another lazy start to the day, but that’s what we usually do on a Sunday, I mean a Tuesday. The snow that was lying last night had all but gone by the time we hauled ourselves out of bed. We had intended going for a swim today, but Scamp got a message to say the pool was closed. No reason for it, Maybe somebody stole the water. More likely a Carbrainer snuck in and they’ll have to clean the filters now. Ok, so the gym has little to recommend it if there’s not a swim as the carrot, so we went to Tesco instead to get food for dinner tonight. We didn’t end up getting anything, but we decided on soup, and I volunteered to make it.

Went for a walk across to St Mo’s in the afternoon because the rain had eased. It was in the woods there I saw the sycamore seedling growing in the crevice of an ash tree and it became my PoD. A nice little bit of biodiversity I thought. With a shot in the bag, I walked on to Condorrat to get a cabbage to use in the minestrone. On my way back the rain came back with a vengeance and I was soaked by the time I got back home.

The soup wasn’t one of my best. I blame the poor quality Dutch cabbage from the Spar shop. Maybe it will taste better tomorrow.

After my clean out yesterday I came across a couple of books I’d forgotten about. I started reading one today and was surprised just how prophetic it was. Written by Rob Grant, ‘Incompetence’ is set in a near future Europe where no-one can be ”prejudiced from employment for reason of age, race, creed or incompitence.“ [sic]. As a result, much of the population demonstrates an extreme lack of competence in their occupations.

Tomorrow is dancing day and we’re hoping to go to the late classes at STUC in the evening, so I might be late in posting the blog. We’ll see what transpires. Let’s just hope it’s a Wednesday.

So that was March? – 31 March 2018

It was the month that stated with roads closed by incessant snowfalls and the challenge of digging the car out of a snowdrift to get to the airport to go on holiday and it ends today with cold winds, rain and the threat of more snow. And they say this is British SUMMER Time?

We took the bus in to Glasgow today. We were going for lunch and nothing else, because it was a dull cold old day. After a walk up Sausage Roll Street to view the damage the fire had wrought last week (and it was extensive), we walked down to St Enoch’s to get the subway out to Kelvinbridge and thence to Paesano on Gt Western Road. Scamp found her (near) ideal pizza in a Tomato sugo (sauce) with garlic, oregano and evoo (extra virgin olive oil) with an extra of rocket. It would have been ideal without the garlic I’m told. Next time, Scamp. Next time. I had a number 4 which is Spianata spicy salami with tomato sugo, mozzarella and evoo. I found the salami too spicy and the waiter suggested that next time I should have a number 7 which is Fresh Tuscan fennel sausage with friarielli (Neapolitan wild broccoli) mozzarella and evoo. Notice there is no tomato sugo, so I just have to ask for that as an extra. I’ll try to remember that recommendation.

Lunch over we walked up a cold and breezy Gt Western Road and Scamp found a fish shop where she could stock up the freezer a bit with fishy stuff. From there we’d intended going for a drink in Òran Mór but it was too cold and we just got the underground back to Bucky Street and then the bus home.

Scoffed the other half of a bag of chocolaty things tonight with some gin to wash them down and watched La La Land. Scamp thought it was just so so, I thought it was really good apart from John Legend trying to act. Stick to the day job John.

Today’s PoD was ‘Red Shoes’ seen in Renfield Street. Actually I was photographing the glass tower building through the narrow lane. The man with the red shoes was just a lucky!

My other ‘lucky’ was the one below.  Saw it when we were walking home from the bus stop.  It was the writing on the bag that caught my eye, well, that and the ‘Bucky’ bottle.  I think that’s called Irony.

No plans for tomorrow. Just hoping for a better (warmer and brighter) day than today.

Oh no! More snow – 18 March 2018

Looked out this morning and the snow was still falling.

The snow continued all day, it may still be falling, I haven’t the heart to check. It did put a bit of a dampener on the day. Having said that, it did tail off for a while in the afternoon, and tomorrow is supposed to be a bit warmer.

On Friday night, or to be more exact, Saturday morning when we got back from Larky, the kitchen fluorescent light wouldn’t work, so we suspect it needed a new tube. This morning I got the steps out, took the bulb out, cleaned the contacts and plugged it back in and it worked. Either a dirty contact was the problem or, more likely, the spider who usually maintains the light was dead. Its poor wee desiccated carcass was lying on the diffuser. It had had a hard life, poor thing.

With the light sorted, I started restoring my Linx to a previous incarnation. After a few false starts, I finally got it done and it has screwed up Windows Update, because there’s not enough room on the C:\ drive for it to download the latest update. Two fingers up to you Mr Windows 10! Now I just have to remember the sequence of operations to fool Lightroom into believing that the TZ70 is actually a TZ60. Don’t worry Scamp and JIC, I’m not going into details, it would be gobbledegook to you, and Hazy only speaks IOS now.

After lunch Scamp and I had a discussion and decided to make a final decision about the Sunday Social later in the afternoon. I went out for a walk around St Mo’s to get some last pictures of the snow before it disappears until December (ever hopeful). There weren’t many animal tracks to be seen. I did see some frog spawn in the ponds, but no sign of their creators. I was reading last year’s blog (You can too, there’s a link from this page if you’re reading on a tablet or a computer. Can’t remember how to access it on a phone) and read that the larch trees were pushing out their little ‘shaving brush’ needles, but there were none in evidence today. I won’t be sure that the bad weather is past until I see the larch trees showing some green and the deciduous trees showing some leaf. Trees know more than you think they do. Read ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wohlleben if you don’t believe me. This man knows a thing or two about trees.

When I came back, not exactly frozen because I had layer upon layer of clothes on, we made the decision to stay put today and leave the Sunday Social to the warmer weather that’s coming. You could see that neither of us really wanted to cancel, but it was the sensible thing to do and sometimes, just sometimes we are sensible.

Today’s PoD is the Cladonia shot on the right.

Hopefully everything will be better in the morning and the snow will be on its way to some other more deserving recipients. That will mean it will be a normal Monday with all that that entails.

Dig for Victory – 2 March 2018

P1040263v2Scamp had checked in the morning with Tommy Cook and discovered that the flight was on at the posted time for Saturday morning from Glasgow.  All we needed was to get to the airport.  The weather was a little bit kinder, so I thought I’d try cleaning the car and see what came of that.

It took me the best part of half an hour  to clear the car of snow and another hour to dig away a path from the front wheels to the twin ruts that ran down the hill.  I wasn’t alone in my travail.  There were woolly hatted diggers everywhere this morning.  Some digging, some spreading salt grit and some just leaning on their shovels shooting the breeze.  When I came in I was tired and aching, but confident that we could break the grip of the snow. Most of the folk I spoke to were more worried about getting back UP the hill, rather than getting out.  I smiled, because that wasn’t bothering me that much.  I knew that if we got out, we wouldn’t be worrying about the return journey until next week. Scamp, meantime was trying to book us a taxi, but having entered the queue at position 9  then after 18 minutes, having reached position 4 in the queue, I wasn’t confident that we’d get a taxi, anyway unless they were driving helicopters, they were unlikely to get the up the hill and there was nowhere safe for them to stop and pick us up on the main road.  The decision was made.  We’d drive.   After lunch I went out to inspect my handiwork and was impressed with the way the salt and grit had reduced the icy snow to sludge.  Cautiously nudged the car forward, then back again and the tyres were gripping well.

The drive in to the airport was a bit of a disappointment after all the digging, spreading, working in the salt and clearing of the car.  It just worked, thankfully and we were parked up in the multi at the airport in record time.  Hotel is a bit basic.  Heating seems to be controlled through a timer and as a result the room is a bit cool, but we’re here and that’s much further than I thought we’d be last night.

There is a picture to go with this blog post, but I haven’t had time to process it yet.  Perhaps  I will tomorrow, all being well.  Scamp is happily sitting watching athletics from Manchester as I write this.  Me?  I’m just happy that all that back-breaking digging was worth the effort.  Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

Going Outside – 1 March 2018

Cabin fever was high today so I went for a walk in the snow

Put on my wellies and cleared a path from the front door. Thankfully the boy next door had cleared a path from their door out to the pavement, so I only had to join ours up to theirs and we were done. The snow was powdery and light and lifted easily at least it did until I trampled it with by wellies, then it compressed into slabs that were heavier, but still easy to lift with a shovel. I wanted to see just how the outside world looked in this deep, white coating. The answer was that it looked very bright and I instantly regretted not having a pair of sunglasses to hand. Why would anyone need sunglasses on the first day of March?

I walked over to Condorrat and watched the cars go by, slowly, from the bridge and watched the police erecting a ROAD CLOSED sign complete with a complement of cones on the northbound side of the M80. There weren’t many cars, lorries or other vehicles going in either direction, which was just as well as the road was down to one lane. The road over the bridge was down to one lane too with the extra hazard of a black van parked outside the bookies half on and half off the road. As I got closer I noticed that it was a satellite van and there was a film crew interviewing one of the ‘workies’ shovelling snow from the pavement in Condorrat. The news must get through, you know.

Tried in Spar for bread or milk, none. There was an enormous queue snaking all round the shop and folk with every conceivable foodstuff in their basket. Tried in the newsagents for bread and milk, none, but at least there wasn’t a queue here, so I bought a couple of bars of chocolate. It is still Thursday, even if we are almost cut off from civilisation!

Walked back and had soup for lunch. Then took Scamp out to survey the snowy scene. She was as impressed as I was with the alien landscape we walked through. This time I was wearing my cycling glasses with yellow tinted lenses. They make everything sharper and yellow (obviously) for a while and then you don’t notice the yellow, in fact you notice just round the edges, outside the frame that everything there is blue! So strange. There was a bit more traffic on the motorway but the diversion was still in place and when we walked back to the estate ring road, it looked much the same as it had when I first went out. I’d say it was down to one lane, but that would be a misnomer. There is no way you could call two slushy ruts in grey snow a ‘lane’.

Came home and fed the birds at what was the back garden. It’s now another field of white. At least there was less snow falling today and for a while it even felt as if it was thawing slightly. As I write this, around 10.30pm the temp is only -0.4ºc which is a good sign I hope

PoD is a ginger bottle (soft drinks bottle) stuck in a half meter deep snowbank.

Tomorrow, who knows. Checking websites to see what’s open and what’s not. Will keep you posted.