The end of September – 30 September 2020

Scamp drives in Blue, in the rain.

It started out dull but dry, that didn’t last. Hazy phoned and after a wee chat with her the rain came on. Actually I think it had been raining while we were talking, but I couldn’t say for certain. What I could say was that it looked as if it was going to be on more most of the day and I wasn’t wrong there.

Scamp wanted to go to Tesco and that meant driving, so I volunteered to be co-pilot and while she browsed for a birthday card, I could go and get the items in my mental list. As it turned out, most of the items were sensible and hardly any were really ‘mental’. Wee Scottish joke there folks! Back home and she reverse parked like an expert. A first time pass. Now she can rip up those Blue ‘L plates’. I expect it helps that she’s going from a Micra to a Micra, but probably going from a red car to a blue one is causing most of the problems.

We’d bought into a Naked Wines offer just over a month ago and got a box of six wines for a decent price. The first four we’ve drunk and they were very nice. Today I noticed the company had taken a few quid from me and added it to my account. I’m not entirely sure I signed up to that, but it wasn’t as if they were pocketing it. Once I signed it to the website I found that they’d topped up my ‘contribution’ by a tenner, which was nice of them. We liked the wines and thought we’d just buy another box of six, pay the extra and then cancel the contract. Then Scamp noticed that once we’d chosen our six bottles, the ‘Go to Checkout’ button was still greyed out. Now the implication of “Buy 12 bottles to get a magnum of white” became a bit clearer. That wasn’t an option, it was a demand. I’m afraid we removed the six bottles from the basket and cancelled our contract with our silent ‘contribution’ being returned within the nominal five working days. It’d better be or we’ll refer them to The Harris Distillery to find out how bad publicity can damage a company’s reputation. Be warned any of you wine drinkers out there. Read the (very) small print before you part with your money.

It was still raining when I left to take my camera for its daily walk. Wandered out to St Mo’s and into the woodland there. Found a wee frog about the size of a 50p piece, if you can remember what real metal money looks like these days. But it was a low-down photo of a snail carrying its house on its back as it crossed the path that made PoD. The rain followed me home, but the snail didn’t, it was on a mission.

It was Madras Chettinad curry for dinner with rice and naan bread. The word “Madras” should have been a warning, but we’d had it before an I thought we’d manage to deal with it. We did, but only just. Thankfully we had a tin of coconut milk in the cupboard and it took away a fair bit of the heat. This was a curry from the Holy Cow range and what worries me now is that it’s a ‘three chilli’ curry, which used to be their hottest, but now in their new packaging, it’s a three chilli out of four. Does that mean there is a Thermonuclear version still to come? Will we need to make it in one of those fancy ceramic pots, because it will melt the stainless steel ones? I may leave it for someone else to test first.

Possibly driving in to Glasgow tomorrow, just for a look at something. I’m not saying what, but you just know it’s going to be a camera, don’t you? 😉

Another beautiful day – 29 September 2020

A day to go walking in the sunshine

But first there was the little matter of a bookcase to help tidy up my sketch books. We drove up to B&M and bagged the last grey bookcase on the rack for the princely sum of £18. I could have paid an extra £2 to get a veneered one, but the grey one was cheaper and nobody cares what it looks like, as long as it holds the books … more of which later.

Dropped off the bookcase and gathered a camera then off we went to Rouken Glen in the posh end of Glasgow. I can never remember which turnoff from the M77 takes us there and as a result I always come off too early and then have to navigate through the streets to find it again. This time the sat nav took me and I did what it told me and it worked. The last time we were there was in mid-March, just before things got crazy. Then the car park was empty. Today we were fighting for a space. We walked the park, from the north end all the way to the south gate and then down and round the boating pond.
What was it with boating on ponds in Glasgow in the past? Some stretches of water were for rowing boats like Rouken Glen and Hogganfield Loch and some were for model boats like Alexandra Park. Was it something to do with all the ship building going on along the banks of the Clyde?
Workies were cutting and trimming trees beside part of the pond so we had to take a diversion that brought us to the waterfall with its collection of padlocks locked onto the railings of the bridge carrying the path over the burn. We walked over and then out onto the rough area where the paths are just that, paths that have been trodden by hundreds, if not thousands of feet over the years. We followed our noses and finally came back to marked paths that took us back to the car park. A decent 7,000 odd steps to add to our total for the day. The tea shop in the Boathouse looked a bit busy and the service in the garden centre was hit and a miss last time, so we just came home and had a home lunch.

Spent the rest of the afternoon assembling the bookcase and filling it with sketchbooks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite big enough to accommodate the A4 sketchbooks I’ve been using lately, so I may adapt it a bit to fit them or I may leave it as it is and store them on their long edges with the spines at the top. They are taking up the same amount of room as they would if they were stored like normal books. Too hard to explain in words. I’ll maybe take a photo tomorrow and save the thousand words for my stories.

Scamp made pancakes for dessert tonight with syrup and ice cream. Maple syrup for me! Delicious!!

Tomorrow looks wet. We may go out walking in the rain or we may go for lunch.

Coffee with Val – 28 September 2020

Queueing for Costa coffee.

You’d have to be desperate to queue for coffee in Costa, but that’s what we had to do today. Costa didn’t open until 11am because today was a bank holiday. Nobody had mentioned it was a bank holiday. Even the banks didn’t know about it, because the bank across the concourse was open when I passed. Maybe it’s a secret bank holiday, one that only some people were told about. After we’d all queued until after 11, some wee ’jobsworth’ was in your face with his iPad taking your particulars for Track & Trace. We just told him we’d already signed in and he went away to bother someone else. Finally got sorted out with coffee and a bite to eat then got down to the serious business of discussing the technology we’d both been buying and playing with in the last month. Really enjoyed the natter, but soon it was time to go. Bid goodbye to Val as he headed to Asda and I drove home in the rain.

After lunch I did a bit of tidying up of the back bedroom. I did manage to chuck some stuff out, or at least bag it for chucking out. Undid a Gordian Knot of USB cables and sorted them by type into two lots. I’m going to test them next on the most exacting bits of tech to see if they are working perfectly or not. Pass the test and you can stay. Fail and you go in the bin. Marie Kondo eat your heart out.

The sun was coming out after I’d sorted the wiring and performed a cursory chuck out, so I took the Oly for a walk in St Mo’s. Lots of photogenic spider webs holding beads of water. Unfortunately there was a bit of a breeze which made photographing them difficult. One particular web was loaded with raindrops, it makes you wonder what weight is on these fragile strands and how the spider knows to construct using triangles. It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed on the screen that those particular shots had captured the spider as well as the web. A lucky! One of them made PoD. Of the 26 shots I took, only 6 survived the first cull. That’s not a good average.

It was pesto spaghetti tonight and I think I was too heavy on the garlic. Believe me when I tell you that although it tasted fine about 6pm, at 9.20pm it’s not quite so tasty!

Tomorrow we might be going looking for a small bookcase to assist in the further cleanup of the back bedroom. I don’t suppose that would fit with the ethos of Marie Kondo’s method, but I won’t tell her if you won’t.

The man from Malta – 27 September 2020

Continuing on our theme of daily walks, today’s destination was Glasgow Green.

Scamp drove us down to Glasgow Green in the Red Micra. We parked in our usual place and after inspecting the chestnut trees to see if there were any chessies although you may know them as ‘conkers’, we continued past the now closed People’s Palace. No people allowed in today. Walked the length of the path, past the folk practising hurling. I thought it might have been shinty, but I just checked and the sticks are definitely the spoon shape of a ’Hurley’ rather than the murderous ’Caman’ of shinty. There, I’m sure you’re as glad as I am that we’ve got that sorted out.

Walked back by the side or the river observing the ‘Keep Left’ signs that ensure social distancing. Stood for a while on the suspension bridge, watching the rowers on the river looking very efficient and freezing. It was only 0.5º this morning when I got up and the temperature hadn’t risen much when we were out walking on The Green. No ice floes on the river though, so it can’t be winter yet. Because it was such a lovely morning we continued on and crossed the river to Richmond Park. It’s really in a sorry state these days. I’m sure the council will blame Covid and problems with maintaining a workforce in these days, but the neglect here is more than the six months we’ve been under the cloud of the virus. This is an out of the way park, half of which has been sold off to developers and the other half left to wrack and ruin, and don’t get me started on the demise of the Wintergarden of the People’s Palace.

However, there was life here. There were boats in the boating pond. Not rowing boats, but radio controlled model boats and it was here we met the man from Malta. We were sitting watching these detailed models sailing up and down controlled by their makers when this bloke came up and started telling us how he originally came from Malta, but moved to Glasgow when he was six. He told us how he’d seen the pond when he was coming home from school and thought it was the sea and how his dad gave him a severe telling off for being late home. He now has six or seven boats that he sails on the pond at weekends. He left saying that it was a great hobby and if I wanted to take it up I should join the club. I think I have enough roads for my money to go these days without building model boats. We walked round the rest of the park before retracing our steps to the car. Gone are the days for a roll ’n’ sausage and a cup of coffee for me or two slice of toast and tea for Scamp in the Wintergarden.

Back home, Scamp finished picking the remaining apples from the trees and we emptied the last ‘tattie bag’. We got lots of apples, but just enough tatties for tonight’s dinner. We also lifted one of the leeks and cut some kale for soup. I even lifted one of my carrots which also made it into the soup. I managed to burn today’s stew, but also managed to salvage enough for my dinner along with the potatoes we’d lifted.

PoD went to the boatbuilders at Richmond Park. The man from Malta is slightly right of centre with his back to the camera. I liked his story and the fact he took time to speak to us.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to have coffee and a gab with Val.

Another bright sunny day – 26 September 2020

It looks like the end of September is a bit of an Indian summer. Certainly better than this year’s Scottish Summer.

It was too good a day to waste, so we got ourselves kitted out with boots and wet weather gear, just in case, and drove over to Chatelherault (I managed to spell it this time without resorting to Google! Am I not clever!?). There’s a fairly big carpark there and it was already full when we arrived, but I didn’t want to park there anyway. The potholes are decidedly deep an I didn’t want to damage Blue’s delicate substructure. Instead, I chose one of the little carparks and found there were only about five cars parked there. People are so blinkered. They see the main carpark and think it must be better because it’s so busy. It’s not.

Boots and jackets on and with a walking pole each, we strode off towards the Cadzow Oaks. John had introduced me to them a couple of weeks ago and although the biggest one was cordoned off while they do some health checks on it and decide how best to support it, the slightly smaller ones were still magnificent enough to demand I took their photos. Because they are so large and so close to you, it’s difficult to get them all in without using an ultra-wide lens and I hadn’t brought one, choosing instead to travel light. Instead I took about 20 shots and knew I could produce a decent patch together later in the computer. For some reason the camera was over exposing everything and I couldn’t work out why, but, again, I could deal with that later too.

We walked on past the oaks and found a path that was climbing steadily along the side of the ravine that sloped down to the Avon Water. Nobody we spoke too could definitely say where the path led and how long it would take to get back to the visitor centre if we followed it. We decided to go back the way we’d come. Rather than just returning to the centre and inevitably going home, we extended our walk to take in The Duke’s Monument. I’d been there before and found it a forbidding and eerie place. Even today on a sunny afternoon it felt cold and unwelcoming. Coupled with the overexposure of the camera, the shots I took weren’t what I’d intended. I sat down and puzzled it out. On the E-M1 there’s a little lever, near the eyepiece that allows you to meddle with far more settings than are good for you. It was sitting in the ‘Meddle’ position and I’d been twiddling the wheels that should be marked ‘Screw up your settings here’. It was the work of mere minutes to repair the damage, but that didn’t fix the thirty odd photos I’d taken. I set myself a reminder to switch the bloody thing off when I got home, and after we walked the mile or so back to the car and after driving home, that’s what I did. I took great care to turn off that switch. I think that’s what I like about the E-M1. It’s so easy to screw things up, but there’s usually a way to put them right again if you know where to look in the massive menu.

Back home, sitting in the warm living room with the sun shining through the blinds, I had a Guinness and Scamp had a Pimms to quench our thirst after a long walk. Not as long as the walk two Saturdays ago, but with almost as many hills.

PoD was one of the Cadzow Oaks, reputed to be over 800 years old. They were growing when the Crusaders set off on the Fourth Crusade and when Genghis Khan invaded China. If they could speak, what stories they could tell.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for another good sunny day. We may go for another walk.

A new camera, a dash cam – 25 September 2020

Dashcam day.

I got to use my dash cam a couple of years ago and I wouldn’t be without one now. Today I went to Halfords to find out when they could fit one in Blue. Luckily, they had a space this afternoon, so confirmed the booking and drove home for a quick lunch before driving up to allow the nice man to fit a brand new dash cam for me. Yes, I could have saved a few quid by using the supplied cable and plug, but it looks untidy and a new car deserves a new neat fitting. Even more unlikely, I could have fitted it myself, but I knew that would have involved a lot of swearing and a fair bit of damage to the inside of Blue. The bloke from Halfords had made a really neat job of the fitting the last time and I trusted him to do the same again.

With him working away in the car, Scamp drove me off in her car to a nice little parking place beside the Forth & Clyde Canal where we could walk along under a fairly blue sky and some sunshine as far as the ill fated Underwood Lock House. It had originally been the lock keeper’s cottage and around 2000 was converted to a pub and restaurant, but after a fire in 2013 it remains a roofless ruin. It seemed a sensible place to turn and walk back. I grabbed a set of seven shots to form into a panorama when we returned.

Collected the car and paid for the dash cam and the fitting and drove home. I couldn’t see any evidence of how that man fitted the wiring, but he did just as clean a job as last time, if not better. Dash cams are a bit like insurance. It’s something you have to buy these days, but you hope you’ll never need them.

Dinner tonight was Veg Chilli and AGAIN I forgot to add the kidney beans. I did the same last week down at Little Musgrave, so you see JIC and Sim, it was nothing personal, it’s just a mental block I have with veg chilli!

PoD was that seven frame panorama. The other thing I did today was set up Inktober 2020 on Flickr. Hope I don’t have the same problems I had last year with nobody except me being able to find it on the website!

Tomorrow we may go for a walk.

Foodies again – 24 September 2020

Second day of eating out this week.

Eating out in Glasgow this time. Two Fat Ladies in Blythswood Street. Quite compact and bijou. Specialises in seafood which isn’t too good for me, but usually there’s a meat dish or a chicken dish. Not so today. Scamp’s selection from the menu was: Mussels, followed by Channa Dal with a Vegetable Masala, finishing off with Sticky Toffee Pudding and Custard. I had Mushroom Rarebit, then the same Channa Dal with a Vegetable Masala and decided to learn from yesterday and just have a Cappuccino. I shouldn’t say ‘just a Cappuccino’, this must have been the best Cap’ I’ve ever had! Nero and Costa, you have a lot to learn from Two Fat Ladies as far as coffee is concerned. The menu today restricted me a bit. Of the three mains on offer, the only one I could have was the dal. Not that I’m regretting it, because this was up to Delia’s standard, well not quite, but almost. I must say that Neil’s mum makes the best Channa Dal I’ve ever eaten. This one was hotter than her’s and almost as tasty. Although I said the restaurant was ‘compact and bijou’, you really want to see the size of the kitchen. I passed it on the way to the ‘little boys room’. It wasn’t so much a kitchen as a galley from a small boat, like a rowing boat. The poor guy who works there must be skinny as a rake to fit in!

After lunch we wandered down SausageRoll Street and drove home via Calders Garden Centre to get some Geum plants to keep Scamp’s Allium bulbs company. We bought the bulbs in Kirkby Stephen last week and she planted them during the week.

I’d had a look at a discounted camera in JL and thought it might be interesting. It’s a Sony A7 at a very reasonable price. Unfortunately the prices of the lenses it takes are not at all reasonable. Most of them are the same price as the camera, which makes me wonder what quality the piece of glass in the front of the camera is. I think I’ll leave that one to someone less critical than me.

PoD is a shot looking up at the Premier Inn on SausageRoll Street. It looks like it’s getting its second refurb in as many years.

I think we’ve done our fair bit of eating out for this week. Tomorrow may be a stay at home dinner.

Dining out – 23 September 2020

Just an opportunity to go for lunch and put aside Covid fears for an hour or so.

Scamp had bought the original Itison (Scottish version of Groupon) voucher back in February with the intention that it would be a useful lunch treat in the spring or summer, then Covid arrived and we tumbled into lockdown. Recently, when restaurants opened again, the vouchers came back to life. Today’s was for “21”, an Italian restaurant in Hamilton.  We even got free parking in the town because all the meters were covered, presumably to avoid folk having to risk catching the disease when emptying the meters. A little bonus. We walked down to the restaurant in the sunshine and arrived right on time. Scamp had Cream of Veg soup to start, followed by Veg Risotto. I had Salami Bruschetta followed by Balmoral Chicken. Both were perfectly satisfactory, but I wished later I’d stuck with my original choice of Lasagne. Because we’d had a cheap starter and main we felt it would only be fair to had a dessert too. Scamp had Coppa Amarena (ice cream with cherries) and I had Tiramisu. The Coppa looked great and the one cherry I had was beautiful. The Tiramisu was dry and looked as if it had come from a wholesaler. Not great. All in all it was fine. Next time if we go back, I’ll be more sensible in my choices. What impressed me most was that the staff spoke Italian to each other. That’s the way it should be.

Back home and back to reality, Scamp cut the front grass and I volunteered to do the same to the back grass. Maybe that will be the last cut of the year. The light was still good when we were done, so while Scamp relaxed, I took the Oly over to St Mo’s and went for a walk in the woods. It was a bit cold out of the sun, but the low light created opportunities for some decent photos. PoD was a backlit shot of a spider wrapping up its dinner. It’s a Garden Spider (Araneus diadematus).

Tonight about 8pm I was taking the recycling out for collection tomorrow morning. A group of folk were standing outside the house next door. Their father and mother, whose house it is, were inside with their grandchildren, but the parents were outside talking. Some were standing, some were sitting in garden chairs. It was dark and the temperature was a chilly 9ºc. What they were doing was perfectly legal and in line with the new rules for Scotland, but why would anyone go to those lengths? Will they do the same in a couple of months when it’s snowing? Who knows.

Tomorrow we may drive in to Glasgow.

The Bin Man – 22 September 2020

Finally, if I get this blog posted, I will be up to date.

Scamp was out this morning meeting Isobel. That gave me a bare two hours to organise my PoDs, export them and then import them to Flickr, write up the remaining blog posts and combine them with the images and post those online. I managed to get almost all of that done while Scamp was gabbing chatting with Isobel and had time for a cup of coffee too.

We’d decided to make good on yesterday’s promise and go to Falkirk looking for a duvet cover and a fancy new kitchen bin. We went, we looked, we came back empty handed. On the way home we dropped in at B&Q and found a bin there for much less than they were selling them for in Falkirk. I went looking for a new dash cam in Halfords while Scamp went looking elsewhere for a duvet cover, again we returned empty handed, at least we had a new bin. Unfortunately the bin didn’t fit into the space the old one had lived in, so there was a bit of rearranging of the kitchen, but everything is now in place and working.

Went out late in the afternoon to post a card and to have a walk round St Mo’s. By the time I was getting there the light was all but gone. Not just the good light either, all the light was gone, it was like twilight had come early, although twilight actually arrived about 2pm today. It was just one of those days. PoD became a picture of a late blooming dog rose rescued by using HDR (don’t ask what HDR is. JIC goes crazy when I start talking in Technospeak.) It’s not great, but it was the best of a bad lot today.

Remember yesterday I was being Bob the Builder? Tonight one of the real builders trundled up in a mini JCB to level off Scott’s garden. He did in about an hour what Scott had been trying to do in three weeks in his spare time. No barrowing needed today. Technology did the grunt work.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Hamilton for lunch. For an hour and a half we can pretend that Covid happened somewhere else.

On being Bob the Builder – 21 September 2020

It just felt like a better day today for some reason.

Didn’t do that much apart from talk to Hazy in the morning and see life from her side for a change after hearing about it from JIC’s point of view. After that and after lunch I went out for a walk in St Mo’s. The road past St Mo’s was closed to allow a bit of asphalt laying near Condorrat and this allowed folk the whole width of the road to walk on. Nobody seemed all that bothered to do so, except the hoards from the school who spread themselves in social distancing groups right across what’s usually a busy road.

In St Mo’s I tried to avoid the usual dragonflies and managed instead to get some shots of a spider and some moody shots of dried thistle leaves. PoD, however went to a planned shot of leaves floating on the pond, near the outfall. I’d seen it yesterday and attempted a few shots, but wasn’t happy with them. Today I used the Samyang 7.5mm fisheye and got what I’d been looking for. It’s still not perfect, but it’s close.

When I came home, Scott who has been digging up his front garden had ‘acquired’ a load of whin dust to lay as part of the foundation for his newly planned astroturf front lawn. He and his neighbour, Wullie and Bobby from our block were taking it in turns to barrow it from the road to Scott’s garden. It seemed un-neighbourly to leave them to it, so I grabbed a pair of gardening gloves and went to lend a hand. It was good to have a laugh with three other folk who usually get a not and a word in passing. A bit like the “Auld Guys” having coffee before lock down. Just four guys having a laugh and some adult humour. I reckon I might have a sore back tomorrow from all that work, but it was fun.

We didn’t get to Falkirk today, so maybe tomorrow.