The Messages – 20 February 2020

Today we planned to go somewhere to stock up on messages.

We drove to Falkirk and just managed to miss seeing a gigantic tractor lose its trailer which was now lying on its side blocking a roundabout at the entrance to Falkirk Hospital. Police and a heavy breakdown truck in attendance trying to keep the roundabout clear. Luckily we were on the other half or the roundabout. Further down the road a fire engine was heading towards the roundabout with blue lights on. I said to Scamp “I think we’ll take a different road home.”

We bought Morrisons today. I quite like Morrisons now. They have a totally different selection from Tesco and they also sell Yorkshire Mixtures sweets. I get a bag about once a month. Today they also had £10 off my whisky of the moment. Lastly they do one of the best Roll ’n’ Sausage for a knock down price. So after we’d bought the shop and I’d headed into a snowstorm that lasted about 5 minutes to fill the Juke’s boot. After that, we had lunch.

Back home and before I sat down, I got a message again to phone the surgery. What was it this time? One of the vampires had phoned in sick with anaemia and needed a quick fix? They’d got the labels wrong again and they wanted to tell me I was pregnant? Neither of the above. It was just to tell me that the doctor had left a prescription for me at reception. They couldn’t tell me what the prescription was for or why the nurse hadn’t mentioned it to me yesterday. I just left and drove up to the health centre. Discovered that the prescription WAS for me and it was because my urine sample had shown a slight infection. It must be something to do with my age and the fact that I had a severe infection last year. They’re being ultra-cautious. Well, better to deal with it than to have the pain I had last time.

Home again and the rain that had been pelting down had stopped, so I took an hour to myself in St Mo’s and managed to catch some late afternoon sun. Favourite shot was of a multi branch Cladonia lichen. That became PoD.

Today’s SoD was to be “Sparkling”. I chose Mrs McQueen’s favourite hat. It’s got lots of sparkly bits and bobs on it, so it fit the bill perfectly. I’m quite impressed with my render of the velvet in it. It seems to hold the creases and folds well.

Tomorrow, for once, we have no plans.

Curry and Dancin’ – 19 February 2020

Today we finally went for a curry in Hamiton after I’d been to the doc’s.

Yesterday I got a message  asking me to contact the doctor’s surgery re: the results of my blood test.  I phoned and was told that the doctor had looked at the results and my Haemoglobin level was too high and the nurse wanted to check it.  I made an appointment for this morning and the nurse went over all the results, but never mentioned haemoglobin.  When I queried it, it turned out the receptionist had got mixed up between haemoglobin and haemoglobin – sugar level. Yes, the sugar level was a bit high, but lower than it had been at my last test.  Panic over.  Nothing to worry about.

With that out of the way and another awful day of wind and rain in almost equal quantities we drove to Hamilton for a curry in the Bombay Cottage. Food was as plentiful as always. Starters were obviously freshly cooked but my main tasted a bit like it was a re-heat.  Scamp’s was fine but a bit spicy.  Still, that is just nit picking because this is one of the best Indian restaurants we’ve been to.

Hamilton, as I’ve said before is a bit of a ghost town now, compared to what it used to be like. For that reason and because of the weather we didn’t linger long. Visited Currys on the way home to see how much it would cost for another desktop hard drive for photos. Easy answer, they didn’t have any. Also it seemed to be Union Meeting day with all the sales staff in a huddle round a table, presumably discussing something so important they couldn’t (be bothered to) help customers. And then they complain that on-line shopping is killing the High Street. Hamilton High Street is already dead and buried and the same is about to happen to the retail park.

Back home, a grab shot of some daffs on the doorstep produced an acceptable PoD. SoD topic was ‘Phone’. Since most mobile phones are simply featureless black slabs of glass and plastic, I thought I’d go back a decade and sketch our old house phone. Nice curves and rectangles. Somehow more soul than and Android/Apple glass slab.

We went dancing tonight in The Weavers in Condorrat. Not the biggest dance floor in the world and probably the strangest shape for one, being a distorted rhombus, Awkward to dance round. Especially so, if like me you are awkward to start with. Made a hash of the Foxtrot which we later put down to the teacher having cut a portion of it out to make it danceable in the space we had. Back home we went over the ‘figures’ again and sorted some of it out.

Tomorrow we’re intending going for the messages.

Another visit to the doc’s tomorrow – 18 February 2020

Not another blood test this time.

Got a message to call the surgery and was given an appointment tomorrow with the nurse to discuss my results. They had a free spot at 8.40am! I bet they did, as far as I know they still have it, and they can keep it too. Do you really think I’m getting up at 7.30am to have breakfast then drive through the gathering school runs just to find out that the nurse is running late and doesn’t arrive until 9.30? I think not. There’s a reason that slot is free. It’s because nobody wants it. I’m going at a sensible 10am. When the nurses will all be in and the weans will be in school.

With that settled, I started my new book “The End of the World Survivors Club”. I started it, but it’s just not cutting it for me. Not as gripping as the first book, but that’s sometimes the way with the second book in a series, or even worse in a trilogy. Because, in the second book of a trilogy, you just know that nothing is going to happen. I may struggle on with this one, but I don’t think so. Sorry Hazy.

I think I spent most of the day getting the blog hammered out in Day One and then posting it online. There must be an easier way to do it than this, it’s just that I haven’t found it yet.

Scamp was feeling a little bit better today, but not well enough to go out for lunch. I don’t blame her. I foolishly went out to get some photos in St Mo’s and got caught in a sleet shower, arriving home soaked. Saw a Golden Eye, nothing to do with James Bond, everything to do with a black & white duck with, you’ve guessed it, golden eyes. Beautiful wee thing it was too. It was too far away to be a contender for PoD, that went to a couple of coots. I really do think they recognise my red jacket and associate that with the person who feeds them bread. As soon as they saw me they gently swam in for some food and I gave them the two slices of granary loaf I’d kept for them after I’d fed the greedy swans and mallards earlier.

Today’s prompt was ‘Tennis’. Like I wrote on Flickr, I don’t like football or golf. Probably a cardinal sin in Scotland. I don’t like tennis either. I just don’t do ball games. Table tennis is the only one I partly mastered.

Tomorrow after the nurse has shouted at me, Scamp and I may go out to lunch in Hamilton. Hopefully, lunch will be a curry.

Driving the ladies to town – 16 February 2020

Today Scamp was off on her travels again. This time with her big sister to meet their wee sister.

The bus to Inverness was at 9.10am on Sunday, so we were up early. Out about 8.30 to pick up June then the drive through the wind and rain to Glasgow. Dropped them off at the Concert Hall and watched to make sure they were across the road safely and then drove back home for a restful day.

Didn’t actually do much with Storm Dennis thundering around the houses. I did manage to drive up to Tesco and buy myself a steak for dinner, then decided instead to make Chicken, Chorizo, Beans and Tomatoes. No recipe and no chicken, so I went for a walk to St Mo’s to see how high the water was and then do a detour to the local shops to get some chicken thighs. The water level in St Mo’s pond was fairly elevated, but not as high as I’d expected. The weather was actually quite decent, apart from the wind, but by the look of the clouds it wasn’t going to stay that way for long. Cut short the walk after I’d got my planned PoD which was an apple sitting on a rock. When I go out for a walk in the woods I usually take an apple. I eat about half of it and leave the rest somewhere conspicuous and it’s usually gone the next day. Deer, rabbits, squirrels and mice are all welcome to join in. Today that apple became PoD.

Walked back via the shops. No chicken thighs in the first shop, but that’s the benefit of having three grocery shops in a row. If you don’t find what you want in the first one, one of the others is sure to have it, and that’s what it was today. By the time I’d finished my last bit of shopping, the rain joined me for the walk back home.

Made what I think of as a chicken and chorizo stew and put it in the slow cooker to, well, cook slowly. Then finally produced yesterday’s sketch of Rooftops. Sort of from my imagination and also partly from photos I’d found of Robin Hood’s Bay. So that’s yesterday’s SoD done, but no time to attempt today’s topic of ‘Basket’. I really must get better organised.

Scamp seems to be enjoying the luxury of a night in an Inverness hotel with here sisters, while I eat chicken and chorizo stew. Actually it tasted quite good.

Tomorrow I’m intending going dancing by myself!

A day in town – 15 February 2020

Scamp was determined to go into Glasgow today despite her heavy cold.  I needed my ‘Pure Afro’ hair reduced to a normal thatch.

Drove in today. Scamp was in no condition to face the rigours of travelling for forty-five minutes on a cold bus. It’s a known fact that the heaters on the X3 bus only work from June to August. The rest of the time they blow cold air. Surprisingly for a Saturday, we got parked on level 4 of Buchanan Galleries without any bother. I’m guessing that Storm Dennis was keeping folk at home. On the topic of Named Storms. I think we may run out of names soon. This is only half way through February and we’ve already used up almost a fifth of our name quota.

While I went to the barber, Scamp investigated the bargains at M&S. As it turned out when I eventually came out of the shearing shop a tenner and a good bag full of hair lighter, it was me who secured the bargains at M&S. Got a new zip-up jumper and another new bunnet for my number 2 Bergy jacket.

We’d intended going for lunch somewhere, but after walking in driving rain for a while, we chose instead to have coffee and a bite to eat in Costa and then deal with dinner when the time came. As it happened, Scamp had made some Just Soup and that fitted the bill for both of us.

Drove home through more torrential rain and Scamp stocked up on alcoholic beverages for her trip to Inverness tomorrow.

Back home I struggled with today’s topic of Rooftops. I usually find roofs and houses no problem, even from my imagination, but today I drew a bland. Well, actually I drew a few things that would have been better if the page had remained blank, so I left it until tomorrow. It’s not the first time this February I’ve had to play catch-up.

PoD was a shot from the JL bridge showing a view of Glasgow that you wouldn’t see on a postcard.

Tomorrow Scamp and her sisters are travelling to Inverness for a ladies overnight, and I’ll probably be getting caught up with my blog, drawings and photos.

Recovery – 14 February 2020

It was a wet day again and we were still in the grip of one weather system with the second waiting in the wings. Where’s the ‘warming’ in Global Warming. All I see is rain, wind and cold.

Scamp’s cold doesn’t seem to be lifting much. We both think it came about wandering around in a cold wind at the tower of London. Most of the day was spent in recovery mode, just trying to come to terms with the wet and windy weather we’ve been sheltered from down south.

I went for a walk across at St Mo’s. I couldn’t really be bothered, but it had to be done to comply with the new ruling that the 365 must continue. PoD is of green shoots. A sycamore seedling pushing up through the leaf litter. Maybe spring will push its way through the storm clouds some day soon.

Managed to clear the backlog of drawings and paintings for February with a fairly decent ‘Day at the Seaside’ painting which covered the Wave topic, followed by a dire black and white sketch for the ‘Light’ prompt.

That’s about all you can say about today, other than tomorrow will be better.

The Men in Red – 11 February 2020

Today we went to the tower. Luckily we came back again.

Walk to the station. Train to Wimbledon (no Wombles again!). Underground to Earls Court. Change train for Tower Hill, and we’re there. Tower of London awaits.

Walked to the ticket office and got our tickets, concessions of course. Had our bags searched and joined the crowd for the first of many interesting and really entertaining bloodthirsty stories of the tower’s chequered history told by the Yeoman Warder in his black and red uniform (Don’t dare call it a costume!). Beheadings, stranglings, hangings and interments, they were all laid out in their gory glory. It was great fun. The only problem was the wind. It stole away any warmth in the sun and nearly blew away our Yeoman Warder’s hat. Poor bloke must have been chilled to the bone having to stand there and give his talks.

After our 45 minute tour we went in search of some coffee and possibly some soup to warm us. It was tomato and basil soup and it was very welcome. Next Scamp wanted to see the Crown Jewels. Now I’m not entirely convinced that what we saw were the actual Crown Jewels, but they were certainly impressive. As well as the Crowns, lots of them, Sceptres another bucket load and a cardboard box of Orbs, there were platters, plates, punch bowls (one big enough to use as a bath) and assorted cutlery and tableware. All behind glass and looking splendid, but how would I a non-expert be able to tell if they were real or fake? I reckon the real stuff is in a vault somewhere guarded by a dozen big Alsatians and a battalion of the SAS. The vault itself is on an island with a moat infested with crocodiles and the Loch Ness Monster’s wee brother. That’s where I’d put the Crown Jewels, not in a glass box for every Tom, Dick and Harry to gawp at. They weren’t even in the Tower itself. They were in a building across the road. The Tower is used to display all the guns, swords and assorted weaponry from down the ages. Interesting, but pointless these days. (Note: Some of the swords were definitely NOT pointless. They had very real points.). It was the tower that provided the PoD.

When we’d had our fill of riches and weapons and been told all the blood-thirsty stories, we took the trains back to Hazy’s and dinner. It was good to be somewhere warm after all that freezing wind.

Today’s prompt was ‘Burn’. My take on it was burning the candle at both ends. We all do it. We all think we’re getting away with it, but sooner or later, that plan of action will catch up with us.

Windy Willy – 9 February 2020

Windy Willy was doing his best to make life difficult today.

Actually, Willy had nothing to do with it today. The trouble was all caused by Storm Ciara as it swept in from the Atlantic. Even in Hazy’s fairly sheltered bungalow, the wind was fairly thumping the roof as it bounced around the houses.

The storm didn’t stop Canute and Delia arriving and taking us to lunch. Just the two of us because Hazy chose to stay and rest after the excitement of JIC and Sim’s visit and the revelations after dinner. We drove to Chessington Garden Centre. I didn’t think it would be open with all the storm warnings and Canute said there were a few trees blown down near them. However, we needn’t have worried. There were hungry people out there with money to spend, so the garden centre was open and doing a brisk trade in meals.

After lunch we browsed what was available in the garden part of the garden centre. Scamp wanted to pot up a London Pride which my mum always called Nancy Pretty so we got a bag of compost an a pot. Canute and Delia also bought something, but it’s redacted until ND comes home.

Canute drove us back thorough more stormy weather, flooded roads, road works fences spread across the road, tree branches blown down, the usual aftermath of a storm, except the storm was still there as the news broadcasts were happily telling us.

PoD turned out to be a fig still clinging on to the tree in H&N’s front garden.  SoD was a padlock because the prompt was “Lock”.  For some reason ink drawings get fewer ‘likes’ than watercolours in EDiF and 28 DL.  Must try a pencil sketch soon to see how that fares.

Tomorrow we may go to Epsom if the storm has subsided a bit.

Tiger – 4 February 2020

A beautiful bright morning. Seemed a shame to waste it.

Drove over to Drumpellier Park and walked round the loch in the sunshine. On the far side of the loch the water had overflowed into the bank of trees and it looked just like a mangrove swamp. We were expecting to see crocodiles in the water and a snake or two hanging from the trees, but all we saw were a gang of Mallards quacking away as they paddle through the maze of tree trunks. We went for a coffee in the wee cafe, at least it was coffee we asked for, but I think we got Babychinos instead. There certainly wasn’t much coffee in evidence. The place seemed to be full of mums and babies, three of whom were having a laughing competition to see who could make the most noise. Even the scones were a disappointment today. Not a good day at the cafe.

Drove home and after lunch I thought I should start today’s sketch and the topic was Tiger. I’d thought of doing a Tiger Lily or a De Havilland Tiger Moth, but finally put pen to paper and copied a tiger from a Google Images shot. My first attempt wasn’t all that good, so I tried a practise piece on my doodle sheet, beginning with the nose rather than the eyes. Then the beast you see above appeared through the doodles! It became PoD.

Scamp and I were discussing PoDs this morning and I was admitting that the quality of my PoDs of late has not been really worthy of the name. On dull, wet, dark days it’s difficult to find suitable subjects for the PoD, or even a decent photo to put into the 365. I’m loathe to stop the 366, but I have to say that the time it takes to make a silk purse from a pig’s ear photo, even in the best of software is disproportionate to the quality of the finished product. Also, taking the photos, processing them, sketching something that fits the February day’s prompt and then posting both shots, plus the blog takes a lot of time. As some of you will have noticed, if anything else happens on any given day, the blog is the one that suffers and I find myself playing catch-up next day.

With that in mind, and it being February, I intend to still take a photo if the light and the weather suits, but hopefully I’ll manage to complete a drawing or painting from the month’s list and this will become PoD. Hopefully once February is over and we are into the lighter days of March there will be more opportunities for photos DV. If not, then I will probably suspend the 366 and just post the occasional good quality photo.

Plans have been made for tomorrow. Hoping for some decent light to get some photos too.

Dreadful Dancing – 3 February 2020

But before we come to that, it was a windy, wet day, but I posted a letter, solved a problem (perhaps), got rid of some stuff and I got one decent shot.

So, with Gems coming today and no Margie because she’d called off, I grabbed the letter and a bag of old laptop batteries and went out to solve a problem. The problem was the poor mpg on the Juke. I took JIC at his word and checked the tyre pressures. Front 31psi should be 36. Rear 29psi should be 31. The rear ones weren’t a problem, but the front ones certainly were. Crouched in a heavy rain shower and got them all up to the recommended pressures with the automatic pump at the petrol station, because I don’t trust my old pump that plugs into the lighter socket. It seems to be working JIC. Mpg seems to have improved after a very rough and ready check. Will keep you posted.

Next on the list was the letter. I’d recently signed myself fit in mind and body to drive a motor vehicle and was given a new plastic driving licence free of charge on the understanding that I’d cut through the old licence and return it to the DVLA. I cut it up over a week ago and today I posted it away.

The stuff I was getting rid of was a collection of old laptop batteries. Two HP and two Apple batteries. Easy peasy, there is a metal container at the recycling centre where you can drop them off. There’s a load more stuff that needs recycled from the back bedroom, but that can wait until next week.

With that all done, I drove up to Fannyside Moor looking for some inspiration. It came in the form of a bank of cloud lying over the loch. I’ve photographed that tree for many years with many cloudscapes behind it and with varying degrees of success. Today wasn’t one of the best, but it recorded the day.

With that I drove home and started to make dinner. Tonight it was red pasta day. Just a basic sugo with some finely chopped shallots and mushrooms mixed in. Seemed to work well.

Now the dancing. We started with the Saunter Together which I thought we’d mastered, but I was wrong. After a couple of dummy runs we did a passable version of the first part, but the second part still eludes me. Next was Foxtrot and I was confident we’d have that off pat. Again I was wrong. We just kept making mistakes. I got lost. Scamp was determined to turn the opposite way from the one I was trying to turn her in (for once, I was right too!). We just made a pig’s ear of it. Finally the Waltz, and finally we found we could dance that. Not perfectly, but definitely much the best of all tonight’s dances. Only stayed for an hour because our brains were befuddled.

Came home and I sketched tonight’s Burger. I don’t like salad on my burger and I detest mayo on it too, so my burger is a hamburger with a nice piece of melted cheese. If I’m going to have to draw and paint it, I might as well make it the burger I’d actually eat.

So, some successes and some work in progress. Wind seems to have died down a lot after a very stormy night last night. That said, it was sleet that was falling when we were on the way to the dance class tonight.

Tomorrow no real plans. Maybe move the settee round and clear the floor for some Foxtrot practise.