The day that the rains came – 15 July 2018

It rained today, on St Swithin’s Day.

It hasn’t rained here for almost a month, then, today it rained. It was St Swithin’s day. If it rains on St Swithin’s, it’s supposed to rain for forty days. I suppose my shorts can go into the washing basket now along with the tee shirts and the short sleeved shirts. Might as well get the Bergy jackets looked out and the wellies. I should really start to sandbag the doors front and back to hold back the torrents. However, on looking on the bright side, I can put away the garden hose almost until September! If you believe the superstition, that is. What if you don’t? Does that mean it won’t rain on you? Will you have a little invisible umbrella shielding you from the downpour that’s soaking all the ‘believers’ ? I’ll go with that view. I’ll be an unbeliever, even if it means I have to keep watering the garden.

It was good to see the rain today, even if it wasn’t all that heavy. It was good to see the streets looking black again. Good to see the soil soaking up the moisture. I even put on my ‘rainy coat’ and went for a walk across to St Mo’s just to say I’d been out in it. The ground had that lovely smell of rain on dry earth that only comes after a long, hot, dry spell and the rain wasn’t cold. I even wore my shorts to better feel the warm rain. I managed to get some shots of a damp Soldier Beetle sitting on a Cow Parsley head and remembered that my mum used to call Cow Parsley, Dug’s Flourish. I never did find out why, but when I Googled the english version ‘Dogs Flourish’, back came confirmation from a few places on the Central Belt of Scotland, each with different possible reasons for the name. What’s in a name?

Under Scamp’s tutelage I cooked some stew using a combination of her mum’s and my mum’s methods. It worked, of course. With that lineage, how could it fail. That was dinner tonight. Something simple and homely. For me, Potatoes, Stewed Steak and Calabrese which is a variety of sprouting broccoli. Scamp substituted Ratatouille (or Rats) for the Stewed Steak. Both seemed to go down well, resulting in clean plates.

The rain persisted almost all day but is fading away now as darkness falls.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. No dancing because it’s Glasgow Fair Monday and although nobody bothers with ‘The Fair’, the STUC building is closed because it’s a local holiday. Old habits die hard.

The Tidy Up – 8 July 2018

Before we went to bed last night we did some tidying up, but not enough.

This morning we had to return the kitchen and living room back to normal. Actually it didn’t take that long. It never does when two people work together and that’s what we did. In a few hours we had everything under control and it was time for lunch.

After a ‘normal’ Sunday lunch we settled down to watch a grumpy Lewis Hamilton lose the British F1 GP to Sebastian Vettel. Poor little rich boy never, ever shunted anyone off the track in his life, apparently. It was a good race though with a fair bit of action on a fast track.

After the excitement of the GP I took the ‘big dog’ over to St Mo’s to get some photos, but the best I could do was a picture of the red eyed coot going for a paddle. That’s what made PoD.

It was a cloudier day than yesterday, but still warm, just not as warm as it’s been.

Tomorrow I think I’ll need to go and visit the physio to get his opinion on my knee.

Busy, busy, busy – 7 July 2018

Today was just a busy day.

Quiches to make in the morning, two different fillings. One my sister-in-law’s recipe for hot smoked salmon and broccoli and another with red pepper and cheese. Both for tonight’s dinner with last night’s visitors plus June and Ian. After that, my work was done and it was over to Scamp to assemble the dessert which was giant Jaffa cake and lemon syllabub. The Jaffa cake went well, but the syllabub wasn’t thickening to her satisfaction. Still, an hour or two in the fridge would surely firm it up. The ham had been roasted the day before and a slice from it proved that its cooking was perfect.

Grabbed an hour in the afternoon to get some photos in St Mo’s and the hoverfly won the PoD.

Dinner went well and we finally got to bed just before 12.

Recovery – 16 June 2018

I was exhausted today, it must have been that salsa dance last night.

So tired that I slept until almost 11am. Thankfully Scamp took pity on me and let me sleep on. Woke to the news that the GSA had burned down for the second time in four years. Such a pity after all the work that’s been put into it. Thankfully the new building wasn’t touched, but the old Mac building looks like a shell now. Perhaps that’s the way it should remain.

Didn’t do very much, didn’t even have to bring the car down from where I’d parked it last night. Scamp did the honours and drove down very carefully and parked it for me.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk to St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which is of a hover fly on a flowering weed. I just liked the shot. There’s a more arty one on Flickr if you care to visit it. It’s a leaf covered in water droplets from the torrential rain we had this morning.

Dinner was a frugal potatoes, fish fingers and spaghetti. Maybe frugal, but quite delicious. A house speciality.

That’s about it for today. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, but hopefully with a good outcome.

Zoglets Everywhere – 10 June 2018

They may be Frogs or Froglets to some, but to me they must be Zoglets.

The day didn’t start well with pain in my knee, but once I was up, showered and with a couple of paracetamol in me, I felt much better.

<Technospeak>
This bit is very complicated, so just keep your eyes closed when you’re reading it JIC. Right. Last night I made a backup of the Linx before it got a chance to install the Spring Update. After that I allowed it to do the update, as if I had a choice! It was taking hours. Two hours in, it had done less than 20%, so I halted the update process by doing that old trick of holding down the power button for ten seconds. I connected up the magic usb memory stick and the backup drive, booted to the memory stick and reinstalled the May backup which doesn’t have the overload of the downloaded Spring Update (SU) and left it there.

Today I booted that May backup. I don’t know what went wrong, because I’ve used this backup before, but everything went screwball. Restarted again and reinstalled last night’s backup with the SC taking up 10GB of extra disk space. As soon as I booted Windows asked when it should do the upgrade. Ach, to hell with it. Just do it. I’m pretty sure you can downgrade again, almost sure. This upgrade went much quicker. The whole thing was over in less than 2 hours. After I’d answered all the questions with NO, the system worked fine. I’m now toying with the idea of deleting the 19GB of ‘Windows.old’ that is Microsoft’s own backup, just in case something does go wrong. Perhaps, because of all the hassle so far, I’ll just leave it. Ok Eyes Open time JIC.
</Technospeak>

Planted my last two seed potatoes today in an enormous black bucket today. They’re meant to be ‘earlies’, just not that early. With that and with a bit of cutting and pruning I was finished with gardening for today.

Scamp chased me out, telling me to go out for a walk for half an hour. I took her at her word and went over to St Mo’s for a walk. That’s where I found the Zoglets. There must have been hundreds of them wandering around. That wasn’t PoD though, the dragonfly took that award. Surprisingly, it was the exact same dragon as yesterday’s PoD! What’s the chances of that? I did feel better after the walk. When you’re just sitting about in the house, aches in you knees seem to be there all the time with you. When you’re out walking, you’re too busy looking around you to notice the nag in your knee. Well done Scamp. Well done too for dinner tonight. Sea Bass with Broccoli and New Potatoes. Can’t go wrong with that, especially cooked by an expert.

Tomorrow? Hospital for Scamp in the morning. Scamp out for afternoon tea later and I’ve got the results of my blood test after that. Finally, we’re hoping to go dancing at STUC. Phew!

Nematode Nemesis – 8 June 2018

Slugs and snails beware. The end is nigh.

A package dropped through the letterbox today and in it were two boxes of Nematodes. One to treat the garden and hopefully eradicate the slug infestation and another to do the same for vine weevil. I’m not sure we have vine weevil, but I suspect we have and I know for certain that we have more than our fair share of slugs. I don’t really mind the shell carrying snails, but I hate slugs. The instructions on the box said to keep them in the fridge. I said no thanks and put them outside in the bin that holds the fertiliser and compost bags.

I took some photos of the Ladybird Poppies, macro, of course, and it was one of those that became PoD. Also on the agenda for today was putting up a frame for the peas. I’d bought the wood yesterday and also some woodscrews. It’s a pain having to buy these things, but like I said yesterday, I don’t have access to these materials and consumables any more! The frame wasn’t too difficult to erect and screw in place. The netting was a bit more of a faff, getting it stretched across the frame and clipped in place with staples and cable ties. Even after all this work, the bloody minded pea plants wouldn’t hang on to the netting. The ungrateful things just hung there for a minute or so and then dropped back to the ground. After a bit of delicate weaving of the tendrils, they eventually got the idea. I think I must have planted dim peas.

<Technospeak>
I spent the afternoon clicking and typing away at the new Win10 machine, trying to get it to create a macro to allow me to log on to my blog. I can do it on the Mac using a macro created with Keyboard Maestro, but there’s nothing like that app in WindowsWorld. You have to resort to some cryptic code in AutoHotKey to get anything like the same result. I finally managed to adapt a piece of code I found on an internet forum, but it only works with Internet Explorer. It’ll be another afternoon of swearing before I can get it to do the same on Firefox. Finally when I shut down the PC it wanted to do an upgrade. Now is that different from an update? Who knows. Maybe when I switch on the computer today everything will be different. I doubt it.
</Technospeak>

A walk across St Mo’s later cleared my head and gave me some photos of dragonflies and also a couple of coots feeding their scraggy little red headed young.  A cool breeze at times, but still a beautiful day.

After dinner it was time to deal with the pesky slugs. Dissolved the contents of the nematode packet in a 5 litre bucket of water and stirred frantically. Removed 500ml (ish) into the watering can and diluted it to 5 litres of slug nemesis. Tried to water it over the raised bed with the rose, but found that the rose was too fine. Had to remove it and just pour it on. Repeated this round the plants and pots in the garden until the bucket was empty. I should have watered it in later, but it was getting a bit cool, so we left it to nature, it’s supposed to rain tonight.

Tomorrow we may go to Stirling to look for cheap trainers for me and lunch for us.

Johnny Appleseed – 5 June 2018

Went to Livingston today to get a pair of trainers and failed, but didn’t come home empty handed.

I’d intended going to Glasgow today to get my hair cut, but, as we would probably be going there tomorrow and could accommodate the shearing in that visit.  That left the day open. An open day never stays that way for long in this house, so we drove to the retail outlet place at Livingston to look for a pair of cheap(ish) trainers for me. I didn’t find any that I’d risk my delicate little tootsies in, at least not for the price they were asking. What I did get was a pair of shoes. Nice oxblood colour sensible Clarks shoes. I’m still not sure that they are the right size, but will persevere with them for a day or two in the house and if they are too small, I’ll reluctantly take them back. Scamp says I only want them because of the colour. She could be right.

When we got back home I had time to go for a walk to St Mo’s and I took with me, in my camera bag, a trowel and a chestnut seedling that I’d grown in the greenhouse. I picked the chestnuts in October last year, overwintered them in a paper bag in the greenhouse and planted eleven out in pots in March. Of those eleven I think it’s eight that have survived and it’s now time to return them to the wild to fend for themselves. A bit like Johnny Appleseed in America, but with chestnuts instead. Maybe none of them will grow, maybe all will flourish, but it’s been fun doing it and at least they’ve had a good start.

Photos today were scarce. It was down to the ‘beasties’ as Scamp calls them to provide most of the interest. I liked the shot of the Crane Fly or ‘Jenny Long Legs’ if you come from Scotland. It should actually be a vertical format, but I turned it  horizontal to get more of the actual fly on the page. Other than that, there were dragonflies again and some fat hoverflies. Fewer damselflies than I’d have expected with the warm weather. Maybe they are falling prey to the faster flying dragons.

It was another really hot day, but later, in  the early evening it cooled down quite quickly.  So quickly in fact that Scamp postponed watering the garden until tomorrow morning.  Forecast is for more warm weather tomorrow and Thursday with cloud and the chance of rain on Friday.  Oh well, we should make the most of it and get a tan while we can.

Tomorrow it’ll probably be dancin’ and drawin’ again. If time permits, I’ll get my hair cut.

May leaves us – 31 May 2018

The last day of May and it left us in sunshine.

Up early for the blood-letter to do her worst, then back for breakfast before Scamp left to see the new ‘wean’. With some time to myself I set the A2 drawing pad on the easel and drew the ‘man in the mirror’ again. This time I was more pleased with the result. I got the nose right and the proportions which is what the Andrew Loomis method is supposed to help with, but I adapted rather than adopted the method to make it work for me. I suppose that’s what the tutor was talking about really when she said last night that it’s a generic method that produces a generic head. The trick is to know how to move away from that to the realistic head.

Went off to meet the Auld Guys with a lighter step, knowing that I’d got a foothold on this portrait thing, only to find that the coffee machine in the coffee shop wasn’t working. If the coffee machine stops working, does that just make it a shop then? Maybe, but it wasn’t selling anything I wanted to buy, so I met val and we went to the other Costa at the opposite end of the mall. It was not as mobbed as I thought it would be and we grabbed three seats and I phoned Fred to tell him about the change of venue.  The usual topics for discussion:

  • How we got in this mess (politics)
  • Life was so much simpler and more fun in the ’70s (nostalgia)
  • The cost of living (economics)

I also got some tips on what to see in Rome, Marseilles, Barcelona and Naples.  Not visiting some of these places, but I now know what to see and where.  Finally had to break up after a couple of coffees because of the overbearing rules on parking by Tesco.  That should really have been added to the agenda.

Came home and had just enough  time to grab a camera and get some photos of St Mo’s wildlife before dinner.  It was really muggy with a heavy feel to the air, but the sun was still shining.  Got some photos of a little deer with its nice colourful summer coat.  Loads of dragonflies, but also loads of biting beasties about, so I was quite pleased to come home to make dinner.  Dinner was mushroom burgers with potatoes and broccoli.  The potatoes and broccoli were good!

Tomorrow we are due thunder storms almost all day.  I think we’re going for the messages.

The Constant Gardener – 17 May 2018

Today I had the car booked in at Halfords to get the dash cam wired in properly.

We were told that it might take up to 2 hours to do the job, but after having a quick look, the bloke said it would only take 15 minutes. He was correct. With the work done and paid for we drove to Torwood Garden Centre for Scamp to buy some (more) plants for the garden. We ended up with quite a car full, but she has it all planned out. She knows where they are all going, and I believe her. I got some leafy broccoli looking plants whose name escapes me at the moment and we also got a bay tree to replace the one we lost to the winter snows. All the rest were flowers. I’m sure they’ll all look beautiful.

Went out for a walk and left Scamp to her digging, potting and pottering. Got a good shot of Mr Grey and another of a young deer just losing its winter coat, but PoD goes to the Orange Tip butterfly that sat patiently for me to focus the new macro lens on. The lens is a prime (non-zoom) and is as sharp as a tack. You can see the butterfly above, but you’ll have to go to Flickr to see the other two.

When I came back there was just enough time for a glass of wine in the sun in the garden before dinner. Dinner tonight was Neil’s Chicken and Wild Rice Salad. It’s a firm favourite in the summer and went down especially well tonight.

Tomorrow Scamp and the Witches are off on the town, although which town isn’t totally settled yet. Me? I’m off the leash for a day, so I think I may go and take photos. Now there’s a surprise!

The man who worked in the garden – 15 May 2018

Of course the woman who worked in the garden was there too!

It was a lovely morning, but unlike yesterday, it didn’t last. The clouds started to roll in, just as the weather fairies had predicted. However, it wouldn’t prevent us from doing a bit of digging in the garden. Before all that though, Scamp decided we should both visit Tesco, me as passenger in the Red Juke. I was most impressed with the work Mr Tesco had done on the store’s carpark. Before we left for our sojourn to the south, the carpark had been a disaster area. Full of ruts and potholes. Now it seemed that the poor man had been out all weekend labouring under the hot sun to make it a much nicer place to park with all the ruts filled, likewise the potholes and even new while lines marking out the boxes. I was just a little bit annoyed that Scamp managed to place the Red Juke right in the middle of one of those white boxes. I felt I should have been like Cherish, the judge from GBBO The Professionals and started measuring with my metal ruler, but I didn’t. I just put it down to beginners luck.

Back home, we got to work:
Scamp cutting the front grass and pruning. I kept moving because it looked as if she was pruning everything that was standing still.
Me when I wasn’t avoiding the secateurs, I was digging a hole and planting my birthday buddleia, planting some English peas (Boogie) and thinning out my kale. We were just finished our respective tasks when the rain started. Very light, but there all the same. It was lunch time.

The rain continued for most of the afternoon until I eventually got fed up and went in search of ‘beasties’ in St Mo’s. Found a tiny little spider, but had to give up on it because the light wasn’t very good deep in the woods, then I spotted a quite attractively patterned moth, but it saw me at the same time and flew off. Finally I cornered a bored or tired fly that sat patiently for its close up. That was PoD. Came home had dinner watched TV. Lots of little bits of work done today. Feeling better for it.

Tomorrow it’s not the danceathon its been of late as we’re only doing the ballroom and jive classes. I’ve got a portraiture class at the college in the evening. Student, not teacher, just in case you think I’m getting a bit above myself. Scamp’s having a week off to decide whether to face the M80/M8 traffic jam to go to two low level salsa classes. It’s an experiment. It may work or it may not. It just depends on how things pan out.