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.

The day the rain came back – 9 July 2019

It had been away for a long time, but today the rain made its triumphant return.

In a way it was good to see the rain.  It was like an old friend you haven’t seen for some time.  It also meant we wouldn’t have to water the garden tonight.  It was a gentle soaking rain that seeped into the soil and made sure the roots of the plants got properly wet.

It took the opportunity to use it as an excuse to get started on cutting out the lining of the waistcoat.  The Not-Quite-Satin I was writing about yesterday was really slippery today after I’d tentatively ironed it with Scamp’s super-zoomer steam iron, but I persevered and got three pieces cut out. One for the outside of the back and one for each for the inside of the front pieces.  That leaves three to be cut out still.  One for the inside of the back and two that will make the belt up the back (No jokes please).  It really is so difficult to work with fabric that is so slippery.  Even the scissors didn’t seem to want to cut it properly, or maybe I’m just not doing it right.  I tried the wee Olfa rolly-cutter (technical term), but it didn’t want to touch it either.  I thought this bit was going to be easy.  Now I’m dreading the sewing up that comes next!  Hoping against hope for a good day tomorrow so I can go out and take photos instead of firing up the sewing machine.

After lunch I did take the plunge, grab my cameras and go for a walk in St Mo’s. In spite of the rain, I did enjoy  the walk, but came back with three photos.  Then I looked out the kitchen window and saw the hanging basket with fuchsias dripping with rainwater.  Surely there was a shot or two to be had there.  Actually there were 41 shots to be had there.  Most disappeared onto the cutting room floor after they went through my rigorous selection procedure, but a (very) few remained and from them, two went to Flickr and PoD became the little raindrop fish-eye lens you see here.  It’s a bit of a cliché, but even clichés have their place.  I’m just showing off now that I can do that acute over the ‘e’ like this é.  Right, that’s quite enough of that.

Scamp was making dinner tonight.  The rules of the game are that it has to be a new recipe and it has to come from the most recent food magazine.  Tonight it was Spicy Chickpeas with Sea Bass.  Except she mistook Haricot beans for the Chickpeas, but I thought it tasted great the way it was.  With a green chilli and a spoonful of chilli flakes it was fairly fiery.  I didn’t mind at all, because it was very tasty.  A choc ice afterwards went a long way to cooling down our overheated tongues!

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing in the afternoon and at night, because next week with be Salsa free 🙁  Monday is a local holiday, so the STUC will be closed and Jamie G is off on his travels again on Wednesday, so we won’t be making the pilgrimage to Glasgow in the evening.

 

The Rubber Ear – 26 June 2019

Went dancing today. Almost came home with a black monkey.

It was all going swimmingly to start with. We’d covered the Seven Deadly Spins, and the Timestep. We’d even almost completed the Clap Back. In fact, the Jive wasn’t giving us too many problems. Then came the Waltz which we thought we were doing quite well. Even when one of the other group stepped onto the dance floor, I managed to dance around them. We actually danced for a whole song without a stop and almost without missing a beat. Of course, Michael wasn’t watching us then. When he did decide to watch us we made a few mistakes that’s when he pounced. First he told me I wasn’t dragging my foot in the proper way the waltz. I told him I was. He ignored me. Next I was told that I wasn’t looking where I was going and needed to lift my head. I was getting angry now. I told him straight to his face that I was looking where I was going, that was how I saw I needed to take avoiding action in the last dance. He ignored me again. Michael is deaf in one ear, but I believe he uses that as an excuse when he doesn’t want to hear something. Next was Quickstep, but to be honest I knew he’d find fault in that too. I gave up and just agreed with everything he said then told Scamp I’d had enough.

I get annoyed when I make a mistake and someone sees it, most folk do. I get really angry when I get accused of doing something I know I didn’t do and then get ignored when I argue against it. Even Scamp was ignored when she defended me. In CassArt you can buy an eraser shaped like an ear. I’m going to buy one for Michael. Just in case his usual ‘Rubber Ear’ isn’t working. One thing he did let slip before I walked off was that we should enter his ‘Strictly’ competition with a rival teacher because after all the criticism, he said we are really good. Scamp reckons we are being groomed to be his star pupils for a competition. That might just be what all this serious nit picking is about. Unfortunately for him, it’s not going to happen.

As you can imagine, I came out blazing mad. Thankfully halfway up the hill to the car park we passed a couple about the same age as us. They were having an argument and at that moment I felt the wee black monkey I’d been carrying, leave me for another host! The sun shone even brighter and I felt much better.  Glad I’ve got that out of my system now!

The rest of the afternoon went much better. Went to Tesco to get the makings of a salad and then grabbed my camera and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Got a host of photos, most of which are destined for the bin, but a few ended up on Flickr. The best one of the day and PoD is the red rose Alec’s Red. My brother gave it to us as a wedding present, although I’d guess it was my mum who picked it as Alex would be about 11 when we got married. It’s grown in every garden we’ve had and it still flowers every year. The perfume is exquisite.

Sat in the garden with a beer after dinner soaking up the sun.

Tomorrow it’s a early rise and then out to go to the hospital for a routine check up for me. Hopefully it will be ok and the we will be able to enjoy another beautiful day.

Another Beautiful Summer’s Day – 21 June 2019

Actually it was Midsummer’s Day.

Today was a day for getting out, driving somewhere scenic and taking lots of photos, so we did none of these things. Instead, we lazed around all morning, then Scamp went out to meet the Witches for lunch at Milano Express. I had a meagre lunch of toast pizza, which to the uninitiated is a slice of bread with drizzled olive oil toasted both sides under the grill, then spread with the remainder of a tin of tomatoes on one side covered with cheese (preferably Mozzarella) and toasted to within an inch of its life. It’s actually very nice!

Afternoon was spent cutting out the pattern for a waistcoat that Scamp had bought for me last Christmas. It’s tricky cutting out the extremely thin tissue paper these patterns are printed on. Scissors are a bit slow, the rolling Alfa cutter is fast but inaccurate but the scalpel is almost ideal. That’s what I used, the scalpel. With the six pieces cut out and pinned to the wall, I felt in charge of the situation for the first time since I opened the pattern. Next I read, re-read, made notes and re-re-read the vague instructions written in a language new to me, using words like darts and pin-tack and selvage. I waited for Scamp to return from her lunch date to explain them to me and to bring me food in the form of a meat-feast pizza.

After I’d consumed the pizza and interrogated Scamp to find out what I was expected to do to assemble this waistcoat from the pieces of cloth, because it appear that the pattern is not the actual waistcoat itself, but just a jigsaw puzzle that you use to help create the pieces of cloth that in turn must be sewn together to make the aforementioned waistcoat. Who knew that waistcoats were so complicated? After having had that explained I went out for a walk to St Mo’s to find some photos. What I found was the Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary you see here and it was PoD. I was playing around with the machine-gun like sequential shooting setting which fires off five frames per second in total silence for as long as you hold the shutter button down for. Forty odd frames in my case. All done in eight seconds. Try doing that with your Practika Nova!! From those forty odd frames I got one sharp one, well, two sharp frames that were seamlessly welded together to make the photo you see here.

Back home there was nothing worth watching on terrestrial TV, so I watched another episode of Good Omens on Prime. Great entertainment!

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll go out somewhere scenic and take lots of photos.

A good day – 18 June 2019

Sometimes the phone rings and it’s good news.

This was one of those days. PSA was normal and no infection found ‘down south’. No need for a biopsy and no need to go to the hospital tomorrow, just a routine visit to the clinic next week. I breathed a sigh of relief and the sun started shining brighter.

Postman brought me a Father’s Day present. Two books. One by the man who completely changed the way I looked at trees, Peter Wohlleben. If you’ve never heard of him, search out The Hidden Life of Trees. It’s an eye opener, at least it was for me. The other book was a novel on the same theme. Thanks Hazy.

Earlier, I’d found a wee spider in the kitchen sink and encouraged it to go for a walk on the wild side, or at least in the garden. It paid for its freedom by posing for a few photos. Managed to grab a few 19 frame focus stacks – hand held. Dropped them in to ON1 and it made a decent job of the processing.

Just before lunch I saved Scamp the backache of cutting the grass by strimming the back garden. It’s not the best cut its ever had, but it got the worst of the grass reduced down and if we get a few dry days, perhaps we can get it cut properly. Re-potted the Lupin that wasn’t happy where it was. Hopefully it will recover in a pot of nearly new compost.

In the afternoon I went out for a walk around St Mo’s for a breath of fresh air and just to get out of the house. Managed a PoD of one of the millions of Wolf Spiders that live under the boardwalk. Apparently they come up onto the wood to soak up the heat from the sun because the warmth encourages the spiderlings they carry in the sac under their spinnerets to mature quicker. Scary looking beasts these arachnids with their eight eyes!

Dinner was Sunday’s chicken made into a chicken curry with lovely flat bread to go with it.

I had a wee dram tonight to celebrate my good luck phone call.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing.

New Boots and Panties! – 7 June 2019

It was one of those days when I couldn’t settle.  Eventually Scamp talked me down.

What I did do was to solve today’s Fiendish level Sudoku with the new method which I got from YouTube of all places.1 I’m really impressed with this method.

With that out of the way we wandered in to Glasgow to look for a pair of boots for me. Ostensibly to replace both the leaking pairs I have. Probably I’ll keep the Clarks pair which don’t leak quite as badly and ditch the Lafuma ones. They look good, they just leak like a sieve now. Rather than throwing them out, I’ll probably put them in the next Salvation Army bag that arrives. They may not be good for walking through puddles, but they will keep someone’s feet warm in the winter. Tiso was the first, and only stop. I tried on a pair of boots that were the right size and lo and behold, not only were they a fit, they were also a comfortable fit. I’ve been wearing them all night just to make sure they are the ones for me and I’m comfortably sure they are.

Sat down for a while and painted A Stone.  Well, actually it’s a dry stane dyke, but it does contain at least one stone.

Back home via Robroyston for a coffee in Costa and a chance to stock up on messages at Asda. Next stop was Tesco for a bottle of rum – well, it is Friday. Then home, where I decided to wash the car and rinse it off with water from Bobby Flavell’s outside tap. Such a great idea, having an outside tap. So much easier than carrying buckets of water and getting soaked trying to wash off the roof or the Juke. Also allowed me to hose out the depressions where the wipers sit. The hose makes short work of all the fermenting flower heads and general gunge from the trees overhead. Thank you Bobby.

With the car dripping, it was time to go for a walk in St Mo’s to get some photos. Not a lot to see and the light was quite low. Managed a better view of the scary fly from yesterday. Maybe not that exact fly, but certainly one of that genus. Hopefully someone on Flickr will be able to ID it for me. PoD went to the close up shot of the daisies. Both Scamp and I agreed on that.

That was about it for the day. We shared a fish supper tonight and for the second time “Well, it is Friday.” Suffering a bit for it now, but it was delicious at the time.

Tomorrow? I think it’s going to be up fairly early and out.


  1. This is really a marker for me so that some time hence I can remember where I found this time saving tip. 

Is that deer? – 6 June 2019

Yes it is!

Off early to the blood letters this morning to give a tiny little amount of blood to the lab in Monklands. For some reason they wanted some of my pee too. Strange people in Monklands.

Back home for a cup of coffee and a chance to solve today’s medium strength Sudoku. Still sticking to my new method. It may not be faster and it may not do away entirely with the need for full pencil marks, but it makes the solving of the harder puzzles a bit more interesting and after all, that’s part of the reason for doing them.

With that done I tried switching on the new six year old camera and as soon as I half pressed the shutter, I knew that something was wrong. I hate cameras that beep to tell you they have found something to focus on. It’s the first thing I change on a camera – set it to silent. This one beeped. When I checked, everything was back to its out-of-the -box state. Oh dear. Reprogrammed it, removed the battery, counted to ten and replaced it. Sure enough. It’s short term memory was gone! Phoned the company MPB who I’ve never had any complaints with before and the lady there said I could spend it back for a refund or a replacement, except when we both looked on the website, there were no other E-M1s available. After a flood of emails between us in the next few hours, we finally agreed that I would try the camera for another week and if there was no improvement, I’d return it for a refund.

After lunch we went to Muirhead to the butchers to get some venison. I’d already ordered the meat earlier in the week. As she was weighing the meat I asked the woman behind the counter how much it would be. When she told me, she must have thought it was a bit expensive because she asked me “Is that dear?” (Scots for “Is that expensive”). I said “Yes! It is deer.” She just said “Oh!” Two or three minutes later she burst out laughing. The penny had finally dropped. I don’t think she’ll ever forget that conversation.

I took the camera out for a walk when we came back and it worked perfectly. Everything I’d programmed into it were retained. Hopefully it will stay that way now. There wasn’t much worth photographing in St Mo’s and PoD went to the little scary looking fly.

I didn’t manage a decent sketch of something “Shiny and Metallic”, so as a replacement, I give you a shot of a little prezzy Scamp gave me on Monday. Just so Scottish! Thank you Scamp. May need a little explanation for those of an English disposition!

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow to get me a new pair of walking boots.

Not going far – 4 June 2019

Not going far

It wasn’t the weather this time, it was just the threat from tiny wee beasties.

Last night after I’d posted the blog and put the iMac to bed I found another tick. That settled it. Definitely no more walks in the long grass at least until the first frost. The further I got today was over the paths around St Mo’s pond, keeping strictly to the path. Didn’t get many photos, because the light level was fairly low. Heavy cloud all afternoon was the culprit. In the morning the weather was much more pleasant and on retrospect I should have gone out then, but I didn’t. My fault. I’ve made that mistake before and I’ll probably make it again. However I didn’t come home empty handed, I got today’s PoD which is a couple of White Tailed Bees (Bombus lucorum) on some bramble flowers.

I potted up some strawberry plants and a yellow aquilegia in the late morning , then, together with Scamp pruned some of the roses and the forsythia. We also pulled some rhubarb which Scamp made into a pie. There’s even some left over for tomorrow.

Later in the afternoon the rain returned and drizzled on for the rest of the day, so I retired to the drawing room – the room where I draw and managed to catch up with the sketches for June. June 3rd was A Bird and today was A Weed. The bird became a Blackbird from a photo I’d taken back in April and the weed was some buttercups which are the bane of Scamp’s gardening, but I like them. They were drawn from life. That’s me up to date now so maybe it will become easier from now on. Since I’m only doing it for fun and am not posting them on social media, I’m treating them as practise pieces and a chance to experiment.

Tomorrow we’re probably heading in to Glasgow to dance the afternoon away at Blackfriars. I don’t think we’re going to risk going to STUC at night, since Jamie G is still down south.

Flaming June – 1 June 2019

Well, maybe not flaming as such, just not raining.

We were still in two minds whether to got to the Italian festival in Glasgow or just have a day somewhere in the dry, with the outside chance of a bit of sun. If we chose the latter, Scamp suggested Stirling or Hamilton. Both curry capitals of central Scotland. Finally, because there are at least some shops still open in Stirling and very few in Hamilton, we chose Stirling.

We went to the Indian Cottage in Stirling and had our usual: Vegetable Pakora followed by Vegetable Dhansak for Scamp and Chicken Pakora followed by Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna for me. Almost every time we go to this restaurant, that is what we have.

After lunch we went for a walk round the centre of Stirling. I was looking for a cheap, second hand copy of Good Omens, because the copy I’m reading on my Kindle must have been a publishers advanced copy complete with all the typos and bad typesetting. I looked in vain. It seemed that the hype about the new film of the book had led to all the copies being bought up. Scamp wasn’t looking for anything, but came home with a new ‘holiday and maybe for salsa’ dress.

On the way home we were stopping to get some compost and some ‘chuckies’ which for those readers who are from south of the border are small, possibly rounded stones. The chuckies were to provide drainage for the latest of Scamp’s containers. After a bit of an argument about where we should park and whether we should drive in or reverse in, we got a space. Scamp was right, of course, about driving in – easier access to the boot for loading stuff in. She was wrong about the tiny wee space she expected me to get the Juke in. It’s a wider car than her’s. The compost wasn’t too heavy, but those chuckies certainly were. However, we got them in and got home without breaking a spring. Had to barrow them out of the car and through the house. That gave Scamp time to get the container planted with two Gazanias, a Shooting Star (American Cowslip) and a Geum (Cookie). It looks good. That the second mixed planting she’s done recently and both are looking very natural.

A walk in the unexpected sunshine through St Mo’s gave me a chance to test out the ‘new toy’ and it certainly seemed up to the task. Especially impressive was the way the electronic shutter and automatic focus bracketing made short work of a shot of a tiny wee snail on a tree. It may go up on Flickr later. The only problem is the state of the battery. After about 60 shots it appeared to be losing most of its power. Not surprising really when I noted that it was manufactured in 2014. That makes it five years old. That’s a long time for a battery to be working. Luckily Amazon was offering a decent looking replacement pair plus USB charger for £18. It’s being delivered tomorrow. Not an actual Olympus battery. They cost around £70!

No sketches today. I’m having at least a week off, if I don’t go cold turkey. PoD went to a little dowdy looking fly that sat nicely for me in St Mo’s. No fancy focus stacking, just a straight forward shot.

A Plan – 27 May 2019

Today’s plan was an attempt at better use of time.

I’m getting fed up with heading for bed after midnight. My aim is to use my time more efficiently. The month of May is a bit of a nightmare of my own making. Not only do I have to get the daily photo taken, processed and uploaded to the sluggish Flickr, and get the blog written and also uploaded. Now I have to devise a sketch, complete it and probably slap some paint on it too. It keeps my mind alert, certainly, but it’s playing merry hell with my sleep pattern. Today I’m trying a different tack.

This morning I planned out today’s sketch and the topic was Books. I drew a stack of books and it looked reasonable until I realised that Escher could have drawn it. However, nobody could have built it. The stack of books needed some helium balloons attached to help them achieve their perilous balancing act. That said, it was only a planning sketch and had pointed out the need to plan more carefully. The next sketch was better and it looked like the books would actually stack like that without falling down. It went on to phase 2 and had some colour added. Yes, with a touch of shadow detail it looked solid. It’s been photographed, processed and uploaded to FB.

After lunch and after solving he difficult weekend Sudoku, admittedly a day late, I went for a walk around St Mo’s to try for more insect (beastie) pictures. Managed to get a bit closer to the flies and am better pleased with the results. Photos are now processed and uploaded to Flickr. The management of Flickr are stating that the site is now stable. If this is stable, I’d hate to see unstable. It’s slow, pictures disappear without warning, comments disappear. The whole structure seems fragile at present and give very little confidence in its use. It may improve. We can but hope.

That was the extent of the day’s work apart from some pruning in the garden. Trying to get rid of aphid damage on the black currant bushes. One of the benefits of having a brown bin is that you can happily dispose of damaged plants in it. I didn’t want to put the damaged leaves in the compost because that would only spread the infection. Our composter doesn’t get hot enough to destroy pests like that.

Tomorrow I go for my annual checkup at the docs. In the afternoon we may take a trip to visit one of Scamp’s Gems in hospital.

That’s the blog completed. I just need to post it and I will be about two hours ahead of my usual time!