Rain in all its forms – 30 July 2020

Today was wet, really wet, soaking wet in fact.

It was that typical Scottish summer day. Every form of rain you could imagine falling incessantly from the sky. It didn’t come as a surprise, we knew from the weather reports that today was going to be a washout, so we’d planned for it. We went for the messages!

We drove to Waitrose in Stirling in the morning. We needed shopping and there was no point in wasting the warm sunny day that had been promised for Friday, so we thought it made sense to use up Thursday wandering round Waitrose filling a trolley. When we got to the till I thought we’d actually managed to buy Waitrose. We nearly did.

Coming back, the rain was even worse and the spray thrown up by the cars was like diving through fog. I was amazed at the number of drivers who chose not to use lights. The ones who had no rear lights were bad enough, but it was the ones who didn’t even daytime running lights who were the worst. A grey car driving through heavy spray on a dull day without lights is almost invisible from front or rear. Rant over.

The rain continued into the afternoon and as I didn’t have a photo, I took a walk in the rain to see if I could find some moody raindrop pictures. Instead I found some Yarrow plants. One shot of them became PoD.

After dinner I settled down to paint a wee jam jar of lavender flowers. Scamp had cut them yesterday and I’d dropped them into an jam jar of water to stop them wilting. Today that jam jar and its flowers became the subject of a wee watercolour. It’s up on Instagram, but I’ll let you have a look at it here too. I’m quite pleased with it.

Tomorrow is forecast to be the best day of the week with predicted temperatures in the mid 20s here in the Central Belt. Down in London it’s going to be over 30º. Too hot for me! Hope you enjoy it Hazy and Neil-D. Hope the Cambridge pair have a more sensible temperature.

We may go for a walk somewhere if tomorrow is going to be Summer!

Out walking – 6 July 2020

We drove down to Auchinstarry to walk along the canal this morning. Typically, now we are free to travel the length and breadth of the country, we stayed within the 5 mile lockdown limit!

Walked along the canal, avoiding a few cyclists and joggers on a beautiful, if slightly breezy morning. Still didn’t see any kingfishers, but did catch one of Mr Grey’s relatives hiding in the rushes on the far side of the canal. Initially he tried to hide, but then realised it was just a couple of humans out for a walk and totally ignored us. We turned around when we reached Twechar and took the railway path back to Auchinstarry. The railway path is much more sheltered than the canal towpath and as a result we could dispense with out waterproof jackets. Hardly met anyone on the path. When we were crossing the wee stone bridge at Auchinstarry I spotted a Shield Bug and that got PoD. It just ignored me for most of the time, but when I got too close it became defensive and as they have a tendency to fire smelly fluid at you if attacked, I said goodbye and took my leave.

After lunch Scamp went looking for food at the shops while I stayed home and attempted yesterday’s painting, a Ruby Wedding rose that Scamp had cut yesterday to stop it being battered by the gales. It was much more glamorous today picking up the light from the window. I didn’t do it justice, I know that, but this was the best of three attempts and would have to do. It was another catch-up.

When Scamp returned I grabbed my camera and went looking for more subjects. Found a Burnet moth behind St Mo’s school. First one I’ve seen this year. Didn’t get a chance to count its spots, just took its photo.

Tonight I did today’s sketch which turned out to be a still life pencil sketch of two apples. One of my favourite subjects, but, again, not very successful. I’m intending keeping the Lockdown Library going until we’re sure we’re out of it or until I reach my limit.

Another sketchbook filled tonight. May go looking for another one tomorrow. Otherwise no plans. Depends on the weather.

The sky is falling – 3 July 2020

Well, that’ the way it felt today with the amount of rain that was dropping from the sky.

We had intended to drive in to Glasgow today for a walk down Bucky Street and then, maybe along Argyle Street and up past a certain art shop in Queen Street, then drive back home. That was the plan yesterday, but it didn’t quite work out that way. First off we needed to take Scamp’s wee car out for a run. Just to make sure that the battery was charged and that it was continuing to charge. It passed both tests with flying colours. It started first time and with Scamp driving and me as radio operator, we managed to code in the security number correctly. Who among my readers could tell me that they’d have the radio security number for their car, ten years after they bought it? Scamp knew exactly where the four digit code was and even corrected me when I initially typed it in wrongly. Ms Memory, that’s Scamp!

She had decided that she’d drive in to Robroyston, turn there and come home. Halfway along the motorway, with blinding rain and spray it didn’t look as if we’d get that far, but she stuck it out and we turned at the retail park and drove straight back home without stopping. Battery seems to be charging properly and no problems with it at all. The rain seemed even worse coming home and we were both glad to park up and have lunch. One trial over.

In the afternoon I walked down to the shops and got the shopping for tonight’s dinner in M&S where I was complimented on my frog mask, but reminded that from Monday, masks will be mandatory in shops. Shoppers will not be allowed to enter M&S without one. Not everyone is happy about it, it seems, but it doesn’t bother either of us. A mask is now just something you keep in your back pocket or your bag and slip it on as soon as you enter an enclosed space. How easily we become used to the new regime.

I managed to grab one shot today. Taken from the living room window, it’s a close up of a pink rosebud from the climbing rose at the back door. Scamp reckons it came from my mum and dad’s house in Larky. That might be true. Anyway, the rosebud made PoD.

Dinner was disappointing despite all the ingredients looking like they worked together. It was a ‘healthy’ recipe, not so much a low salt as a no salt recipe. There is no point in making an ultra low salt recipe if, in the end, it tastes of nothing. Salt is there for a purpose. It’s a flavour enhancer. True, too much is dangerous, but too much of anything is dangerous. I may try it again but with the addition of that four letter flavour enhancer this time. Vegetable, Herb and Smoked Trout Patties if you must know.

I had a drawing for yesterday, but was too tired to post it, so it went in today. It was Glasgow’s pigeons sitting on one of the old buildings in Argyle Street. Today’s is a still life of the fruit bowl. Drawn on a rough textured cheap sketch book from Cass Art using a cheap compressed charcoal pencil from The Works. It just shows that not all art materials need to be expensive. The pencil and paper work so well together, they are great to draw with.  Both drawings now on Instagram and FB.

Tomorrow looks to be much less wet than today and we may go out. That’s all I’m saying.

A wet, wet day – 10 June 2020

I think from the outset that it wasn’t going to be a day for working in the garden, or even for getting some outside photos.

Today’s topic was ‘Draw your lunch’. For once a simple, yet difficult task. We take lunch for granted, it’s just something to fill your stomach until dinner time. It’s usually simple, often quickly cobbled together and sometimes it’s something to use up leftovers. It’s never anything you’d ever consider drawing, and that’s the genius of this topic. The other thing that’s unstated is that if it’s to be done properly, it has to be sketched in the morning, before lunch, and I needed that nudge to get started.

We were sharing half of yesterday’s second Quiche Lorraine, so I sliced it up and got started. I started on the last page of my A4 Seawhite sketchbook and even after having a telephone conversation with Scamp’s aunt halfway through, got it done in time to have lunch. I’d like to say I ate the evidence, but this time Scamp beat me to it and I ended up with the other slice! It was ok yesterday, not as good as the smoked salmon and broccoli, but today, eaten cold it was delicious. Maybe the flavours intensified with the time in the fridge. After lunch I posted the painting on Instagram and Facebook.

While I was talking to Isobel and then laying down the washes on the sketch, Scamp was off in Tesco, originally to get some soft cheese for tonight’s dinner. However when she came home with, I think I counted four bags worth of stuff, I knew she had had a great time buying Tesco!

With no sign of a let up in the rain, I adjourned to the Craft Room. The conversion from Painting Room to Craft Room involves removing the easel from the card table and replacing it with the sewing machine. I’d found a new and hopefully better pattern for a mask. This one was a more fitted mask. It seemed to work, but now we need to have three layer masks to make sure none of the little baddies get in. I’ve got another pattern ready to try to hopefully accomplish that too. Maybe tomorrow.

Dinner was macaroni with soft cheese, bacon, peas and basil. I managed to squeeze all that in and also make it taste quite good. It’s been added to the ‘worth trying again’ pile.

We are rather hoping the rain will disappear for a while tomorrow so we can get out for a while.

Domain disaster averted – 5 June 2020

You’re lucky to be reading this!

It all started with an email this morning telling me that my domain name (the bit that starts ‘dhcampbell’) had expired and if I didn’t do something about it, i.e. pay them money, I’d lose the website. Well, that was a nice thing to read on a Saturday morning. I checked the address the email had come from and it was genuine, so I tried to contact my domain name provider, but couldn’t find an email address for them on their site. I did find a ‘chat’ box, but that timed out after a few minutes. After waiting for 20mins on the phone to them, I gave up on that too. Long story short, I eventually found that I could log a return call from them and did that. Had lunch and then Scamp and I went out for a walk. A very quiet walk on my part. Came home and checked for a reply, but there were none. Then I found a message to the effect that the message that started it all off was not about my domain at all, it was about a site they’d held for me “as a goodwill gesture”! It would have possibly have been an good idea to tell me that some time in the last year. I got the phone call from the help line exactly on time and the person on the other end confirmed what it said on the message. A message that had only been posted at 3.08pm today. I think I now know why. I’m guessing their switchboard was jammed with irate callers wanting to know what the hell they were doing. I may be looking for another domain name provider soon.

Our walk in the afternoon was round St Mo’s pond and then Scamp told me she was going to go to the butchers to get me a steak for dinner and I was to walk round the pond again and get some photos. There was nothing really worth photographing today, but I went anyway. It was only on the way home I found today’s PoD when a bee landed on the Marguerite flower I was photographing and made it much more interesting.

Scamp potted up her new rose today and it does look very elegant. Beautiful big pink flowers and what a perfume. I think she likes it!

Steak was very nice. Just on the over side of medium rare. Juicy and just what I needed to calm down.

Quick sketch today of two garlic bulbs. Couldn’t find anything I wanted to draw, so I reverted to another list. An old EDiM list this time. Looks much better than the 2020 list, although it was written at a time ago when we were free, there were shops, great metal birds flew in the sky and every year we were allowed to go on holiday. Seems like a long time ago, doesn’t it.

Tomorrow looks a bit warmer and calmer than today. It was a bit breezy!

A nice day for a stake – 21 April 2020

Not a spelling mistake. Not a very meaty stake.

The apple tree, our big James Grieve apple tree has been staked for a long number of years now. When the original stake was put in, the tree had barely started fruiting. Last year it was becoming quite bent and bowed with the weight of the apples on its much longer branches. That was when we decided it needed a better support. Today I cut up a lovely piece of mahogany used to be a ‘stretcher’ for holding up the washing line before the whirly came into our lives and the washing line became redundant. The stretcher originated from the woodwork department of a certain high school that doesn’t exist any more and for a years or so has been propping up the fence at the back door. Today it was repurposed as the support for the apple tree.

With the prop cut to length and sharpened to a fair point, it should have been easy to hammer it in to the ground, secure the branch to it and remove the old support. Things that should be easy rarely are as any DIY person will tell you. First it was almost impossible to hammer the new stake into the ground with the old one in place without damaging all the flowers on that branch, so with Scamp holding the branch, I cut off the cable tie securing the tree to the old stake and carefully removed the stake. Next there was what we will call ‘a discussion’ as to exactly where the new stake would go. Polis were not called to intervene, but it was a close run thing. Eventually we found a place that we could both agree on and the stake was duly battered into place. The branch was secured to the stake with a cable tie, cushioned with a couple of old socks. That seemed to work the last time and hadn’t damaged the branch unduly. We may replace the original stake just to provide extra support if we think the tree needs it, but for now it should be ready to carry the masses of fruit we’re hoping for, if I haven’t destroyed all the flower buds.

With the job done we had lunch. After lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which I think is a hover fly. It might be a honey bee, but I’m fairly certain it’s a hover. It was another beautiful day if you could find somewhere sheltered from a fierce eastern wind. It might be blowing in from the North Sea, but it felt as if it was coming from the Arctic. Still the whin bushes were glowing in the sunshine and the pine trees behind them were providing a barrier to that wind.

Went looking for a wooden box I made when I was an apprentice away back in the late 60s. Didn’t find it, but Scamp found a few strips of colour negatives and we scanned them into the iMac. Some good memories there. I’ll distribute some of them when I’ve got them all scanned.

Before dinner I started on today’s Lockdown Library painting. Tonight it was to be four pears. Laid down some basic washes and left it there to go and sample Scamp’s veggie chilli. It was delicious. One of those dishes that taste so good you forget there’s no meat in it. After dinner I laboured on at the painting and finally got it to a stage I was fairly happy with. It’s photographed and up on Instagram.

No plans for tomorrow, other than maybe another dance practise.

A bit of a downer – 12 March 2020

Usually I write this blog chronologically. Today, because of an email we got from P&O, I’m cutting to the chase. Since the PM’s statement that those over 70 or with underlying health problems are advised against cruise ship travel at this time our travel insurance would be null and void. The email we received today from P&O more or less confirmed this and told us that they will contact us shortly. I imagine, since we have to pay the outstanding balance of the cruise by the end of the month, they may offer us a refund of the deposit. Princess Cruises, who are owned by Carnival Corporation have cancelled all sailings for 60 days. When we hear more, we’ll let you know the next steps.

The rest of the day:

It had snowed during the night and this morning there was some snow on the hills and a little in the garden, but it disappeared before we were heading out for the Tea Dance at Gorbals sports centre. Lovely big hall and easy parking. Dancers weren’t as friendly as some we’ve met, but we did meet and talk to a few folk. Danced a reasonable Waltz a pathetic Quickstep and lots of sequence dances. Overall, it was a pleasant afternoon.

Chicken Tikka for dinner and it was HOT! Worth trying again, but only if I tone down the chilli. However, I did use some of the ingredients to compose a still life and that became the PoD. Not very interesting, but I wasn’t in a very good place when I was taking it.

Hopefully tomorrow will be better.

Another rubbish day – 11 March 2020

The weather was rubbish and the car was full of it too.

High winds and lashing rain. Not much chance of getting photos taken today then. I’d resigned myself to that and decided that instead I’d take a trip to the skip with a whole load of rubbish we had collected over the years. Stuff that was clogging up the front bedroom. Last week Scamp sold the keyboard which was a big space hogger. Today it was a collection of worn out shoes, ancient electrical stuff and a footstool that looked good in IKEA, but wasn’t really comfortable when we got it built up at home. Everything was sorted into bags of Electrical, Household, Wood and Metal and I dumped it all in the skips with those headings. The car was much lighter when I got home and the front bedroom was looking a lot more like a room and less like a jumble sale too.

After the trip to the skip, I went for a drive to see if there was anything in need of being photographed, but there was nothing the looked photographable. So, I made my way home via Tesco. There were no packets of loose pasta. Only four packets of toilet rolls on the shelf – the most expensive ones, and half a dozen bags of plain flour. These were the most obvious panic buys. I still can’t imagine why people need so many toilet rolls. Is it because the news is shite just now with every one of the so called experts contradicting themselves and talking crap? I managed to get the last bag of bread flour and a packet of spaghetti and I put a tin of soup in the food bank box. In the mean time Scamp had been out to the shops and bought dinner. Coincidentally when we both came out of our respective raided shops, the ground was white. Not with snow, but with hail. Strange days.

When I got back, I toyed with the idea of taking the Benbo for a walk, because the sun was out again, but before I could get my boots on, the clouds had closed in again and the rain came on. No point in getting wet for nothing.

Dancing tonight was in the new venue at the British Legion. Small dance floor, but level, and square (that’s not a Masonic Key Phrase by the way!). The night was devoted to sequence dances. Something I’d have turned my nose up at a year or so ago. Not now. I understand now that these are complicated dances certainly not to be sniffed at. However, I still draw the line at Line Dancing. No cowboy boots and stetson hats for me.

I did manage a PoD. It’s a Poinsettia. Scamp has had this plant since early December 2019, unfortunately it’s now getting to the end of its useful life. Before that happens, I thought I should photograph it.

Tomorrow we may go dancing in Gorbals

Lunch at The Cotton House – 7 March 2020

That’s what I was looking forward to.

A lazy morning watching the rain and, for me, testing out the sketch book I got yesterday. The rain just kept coming and the sketch book didn’t hold a wash very well, but did respond nicely to pencil, so that was ok.

Drove through the rain and darkening skies to The Cotton House. The “The” appears to be important, no just Cotton House. The definite article seems to be important here, possibly because it is the only definite article in the English language. There, you probably didn’t know that and now you do. You’ve learned something today.

Scamp had Thai Spring Rolls followed by Chicken Chow Mein. For me it was Chicken Noodle Soup followed by Chicken Green Pepper in Black Bean Sauce with Noodles. Both were deemed excellent, but that’s what you expect at TCH. Inside it’s gone through some changes, but the food is just as good as it always was. That’s why we booked a table today, because you just have to on a Saturday. Scamp’s coffee and my Chinese tea afterwards were disappointing, but I suppose some corners have to be cut to keep the price of lunch to an acceptable level. I’ll forgive them.

After that we drove home via Tesco for essentials like milk and stuff for tomorrow’s dinner. Oh yes, and toilet rolls. Because we need them. Nothing to do with the dreaded Coronavirus or Covid 19, whichever you prefer. It seems that shelves in supermarkets across the world are becoming depleted and the most sought after articles are toilet rolls. That’s a load of shite if you ask me. Come on, you expected that, didn’t you?

Scamp was selling her old keyboard and asking a ridiculously small amount of money, but it was her keyboard to sell (don’t panic people, it’s not the Clavinova) and the woman arrived this afternoon to buy it. I think it was much bigger and more complicated than she realised. She seemed overwhelmed by it, but money crossed hands and there’s more space now in the front bedroom.

I’d thought of going out for a walk in St Mo’s today when we got back from lunch, but the light was failing even at about 4pm, so I gave up on that. We’ve had almost a week of dry shiny weather and we’ve forgotten just how dull it can get by 4 o’clock. Today reminded us. With that in mind I took a bit of broccoli, a bag of yellowing parsley, a few mushrooms and a bag of coffee beans upstairs and arranged them, tastefully on an A3 piece of cartridge paper and photographed them. Then, in ON1, I added a bit of grassy field to the foreground. Imported the resulting image into Luminar 4 and added one of my skies, but missed a bit of it and that bit rankled with me, so … I exported the image to an old version of Photoshop, cut out that bit and then pasted a new bit in behind the hole then exported the image back into Lightroom. Cropped it, adjusted the levels and that’s what you see up at the top. Photography took about 15 minutes. Post-processing took a couple of hours. That’s what digital photography is all about. A PoD was created.

On Netflix we watched three episodes of a documentary about the 2019 F1 GPs from the viewpoint of the smaller teams, not the big three. Really interesting. Also watched another video about an actor chef being tutored by a real chef. How to make an omelette, followed by how to cook a steak. A massive steak, but it was set in America where they don’t do things by half.

Tomorrow we aren’t going dancing, but we may be practising. More rain forecast.

It rained – 29 January 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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