Coffee at last – 30 September 2021

We were taking Isobel with us to Costa

Picked up Isobel in the village and drove to Costa where I met Val. Surprise, Surprise, Costa had coffee. Real coffee, not instant and not filter, but barista made coffee. Conversation between Val and I ranged over the usual wide range of subjects, tech subjects and photography subjects admittedly, but what else would you expect from us?

During the discussions I must have missed the email that had arrived to tell me when DPD were delivering my parcel. We drove Isobel home, Val was meeting his wife at Tesco, and then Scamp and I went to Calders to get some snowdrop bulbs. Unluckily for us the HGV drivers hadn’t been to Calders and there were no snowdrop bulbs to be had. I think half of Cumbersheugh must have been panic buying them during the week. It was while we were at Calders that I found the email and the second one to say that they hadn’t been able to deliver it because there was nobody in! I wasn’t in the best mood after that, but we drove to Tesco to get food for tonight and tomorrow’s dinner.

Drove home and went in the huff for most of the afternoon. The only thing that brightened my afternoon and brought me out from under my black cloud was a phone call from Hazy. Found out about the goings on down Epsom way. Good to hear that Grannie is in much better spirits, and yes, I will try to get the recipe for the bread to you soon. By the way, I don’t know if I said Hazy, but I used a credit from Audible to download Entangled Life and am quite addicted to Mr Sheldrake’s soporific voice reading his book to me. Also it means I don’t have to try to work out how to pronounce those big sciency words! I like that it’s a Jamie and Hazy collaboration.

After we’d finished talking to Hazy I discovered that my phone had received a message to say that I could now collect my DPD parcel from Matalan at The Shops. Jacket on, because it had been raining on and off all day, made sure I had the QR code on my phone screen and that I had photo ID. I’m going to a shop. I have to wear a face mask in a shop. What good is photo ID? They can only really see my bloodshot eyes! Anyway, I picked up then parcel containing a Sony 50mm f2.8 macro lens that weighs about a third of the weight of the Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens I’ve already got. There was almost no useful light to test it with tonight, but the few photos I took look like it was worth the money … and the wait.

Scamp was busy all afternoon making ice cream and yet another Swiss Roll. The ice cream is now in the freezer and the Swiss Roll has its chocolate ganache coat on and is in the fridge.

Today’s PoD is one of Scamp’s Lisianthus cut flowers, not to be confused with Lissajous which is a figure I met on an oscilloscope many years ago and nothing like the flower.

Tomorrow we are having Crawford and Nancy for dinner, so lots of prep to be done, which probably explains the ice cream and Swiss Roll.

Somewhere we hadn’t been for a while – 29 September 2021

That was what I said yesterday and that’s where we went today.

We left early and drove by M80, M8, M77 then off the motorway on to Nitshill Road to Rouken Glen.

We parked and went for a walk, but half the park seemed to be cordoned off with great barriers either being put up or taken down, it wasn’t clear until we read a notice that Boy George, Nile Rodgers and some other has-been pop stars had been performing at the park at the weekend. It even gave a timescale for the removal of the stages and the barriers. Now we understood why there was a covid rapid testing bus just outside the car park. Oh well, at least we didn’t come on Saturday and have to endure that noise!

We found or way around to the Meadows which is really just a big park with rough cut grass and some craggy boulders. Wild but in a ‘contained’ way. It’s always good to find a path you haven’t been on before and that’s what we found. The path took us around the perimeter of the park on the border between park and golf course. I found a few chessies that I’ll plant in a pot full of dry compost and leave them to overwinter in the greenhouse. By the spring they should hopefully be ready to plant out properly and hopefully some of Glasgow will grow in Cumbersheugh.

The path didn’t look as if it was taking us anywhere interesting, so we took a side path, there are lots of side paths to explore. Our path took us beside a burn and eventually brought us out at the waterfall. The water from the falls drops about five or six meters and flows out through a bridge under the path. The bridge had been plagued by padlocks for years, but was now clear with signs warning that padlocks would be removed and destroyed. However, the thoughtful council had built a “Padlock Wall” for people to put the locks on and still display their everlasting love for all to see. There must have been hundreds, if not thousands of padlocks of all shapes, sizes and colours. That photo made PoD.

Further on we found the boating pond with the Boathouse Cafe on the far side. That was our lunch venue. Two Fish Finger Sandwiches, one each. And there was that strange warning that they had no machine coffee, only filter! Why are coffee machines breaking down everywhere? I think the real reason is that you put a fair few spoonfuls of coffee into a filter machine fill it up with water and set it going. You can get a three or four times more cups of dodgy filter coffee from the the same amount of coffee beans that would produce one cup of barista produced espresso. It’s a fiddle and I blame Brexit.

After lunch with tea to wash the sandwiches down, we headed back to the car via the “Garden Centre” which was already “Beginning to look a lot like Christmas”. Heavens, we’ve not even had Halloween yet. In fact it’s only September!

Back home I took the bull by the horns and phoned EE. Was offered 2GB data for £9. Told them I could do better with Tesco. I got the usual spiel about Tesco being a supermarket and so on. He asked me what the Tesco deal was and when I told him he said he could better that. Long story short, I got a 12month contract for 11GB for £10, plus unlimited text and calls. Thought about it for a while then phoned back and sealed the deal. I could probably have held out for more, but why? I’ve not really had much bother with EE and I don’t need the faff of moving my number. Happy Bunny.

Scamp had closed one of our dormant bank accounts yesterday and in doing so lost her breakdown cover. Tonight she booked and 18 month cover with RAC. Cheaper than AA and not the same strings attached as with some of the cheaper companies. Happy Bunny.

Tomorrow we’re both intending to go out for coffee at Costa. Scamp with Isobel and me with Val. Parcel due for me from DPD tomorrow too. Hope it doesn’t clash, with the coffee and hope they actually have coffee!

A change of scenery – 28 September 2021

This was a lazy day and a wet one too.

Scamp was out meeting Annette for a coffee and I put some washing in the machine and set it to work while I worked upstairs. I removed the part finished pastel painting I’d been working on, because I wasn’t going to take it any further. It’s now pinned on the wall for appraisal.

Next task was to get my pens washed and primed ready for Inktober which is fast approaching. It’s a footery job. First you have to soak the nibs in a cleaning solution that has cleaned so many pens that it’s become 75% ink itself. Next that solution has to be washed out and the nibs dried. Finally I filled the pens with Higgins black fountain pen ink. My favourite drawing ink. Three pens are now ready to produce some excellent artworks, or failing that, my usual clumsy attempt at ink sketches.

The last task on my list was to produce a photo for the title page of this year’s Inktober group. The photography took about fifteen minutes, but trying to import the shot into Flickr is a nightmare. It tells you to drag the picture to your chosen position, but you can’t drag it. Actually it was fine where I’d put it, then when you save it, it changes the whole format of the title. It’s no use complaining to the staff on their badly named “Help” page. All they say is try to find a workaround. Excuse me, I’m paying for the privilege of finding my own workaround. That doesn’t seem like a good deal from my point of view. I get that the staff are actually unpaid volunteers, but who, then is collecting my subs every year? And what are they doing for that payment?
Answers, as always, on a postcard.

Maybe I was just in a bad mood because I found a tick on my arm this morning. A tiny little one that’s now a lot flatter than it was earlier on. I hate ticks.

With the pens washed, the title page finished and my anger abating, I hung out the washing and that was when Scamp returned. When we were having lunch some workies, who had erected scaffolding yesterday at a house across the road started stripping the roughcast off its gable end. The noise really got on my nerves, so I suggested we go out for a walk, and then noticed it was raining. Should I take the washing in, or let it have an extra rinse. “Leave it”, was Scamp’s suggestion as she started moving the furniture around. That’s the signal for a dance practise and that’s what we did for about half an hour, maybe not as long as that. It took my mind off the rain and the incessant hammering. Then the sun came out, so I got the Big Dog and a couple of lenses and went to take some photos down at Broadwood Loch. That’s where today’s PoD came from.

When I came home I made Carrot and Orange soup which was nowhere near as delightful as it sounds. Neither of us could agree on what was wrong with it, but we did agree that it wasn’t nice. Back to the drawing board. I’m thinking Carrot and Ginger or Carrot and Apple for tomorrow, perhaps.

Tomorrow we may go for a run somewhere we haven’t been for a long time. That’s all I’m saying just now.

I think it’s raining – 27 September 2021

Every time we looked out the window we said that.

I’d kind of thought of stripping out the old sealant from the shower cabinet and redoing it, but it might take a few days to get that done, so maybe next week.

Instead we say and watched the showers blowing in from the west, then the sun would come out for a short spell before the next wave descended. It seemed to go on like that all morning and into the afternoon. We needed milk, so necessity meant we needed to face the elements and walk down to the shops. That’s what we did and on the way back I took the diversion through St Mo’s while Scamp continued on to the house.

There wasn’t much going on in the park. Two folk were spinning for pike in the pond and catching nothing by the looks of things. I was taking some moody shots of cow parsley and tangles of weeds when the sun shone enough to illuminate them. I eventually settled on a plant of the pea family with one of its tendrils firmly attached to an old russet colour dried up weed. It was fascinating the complicated knot it had made to grip the weed. That became PoD. Actually it’s two shots blended in Photoshop to get sharp seed pods on the right and keep the weed on the left in focus. You don’t shot photos, you make them.

I’d been out for about an hour all in, Scamp a little bit less and it hadn’t rained in all that time. However I’d hardly sat down with a cup of coffee when the raindrops were hitting the window. Maybe we were just lucky today

I bought myself a new, well second hand, short macro lens. It won’t be the same quality as the big heavy Sigma lens, but it will be so much lighter that it will entice me to carry it about with me. It should work well with the light little Sony A6000.

Scamp’s hoping to go out for coffee (if there is any) tomorrow with Annette. I may stay in and watch the rain.

Out for a test drive – 26 September 2021

Testing the red car and no coffee in a coffee shop. Strange times.

We decided we’d take the red car out for a longer run than it’s had for while. Enough to allow the alternator to generate some electrical power and store it in the battery. I suggested we drive to Robroyston and have a cup of coffee then come home. The drive was fine and the wee red car performed perfectly. The coffee shop, Costa, not so good.

There was a reasonable queue in the shop, but when I got to the front one of the baristas told me there was filter coffee and soft drinks, but no coffee, no lattes and no cappuccinos. If there was no coffee, what were they making the filter coffee with? Maybe instant coffee? Or perhaps gravy browning? To be honest, in Costa it’s difficult to tell the difference. I said “No thanks” and we left. Most of the queue left too. I’m guessing there were no HGV drivers available for the coffee delivery.

Instead we went to Lidl and bought enough to make tonight’s dinner and some other things too and drove home to get our caffeine fix. Again the wee red car behaved perfectly with a few squeaks from the brakes and maybe a noisy wheel bearing, but essentially it was working just as it should do. Now we just have to find a petrol station that’s open, without a mile long queue, and one with petrol in the pumps. That might be a bigger challenge!

After lunch and after watching Andrew Marr savaging Grant Shapps the transport minister and listening to Keir Starmer mumbling about what he’d have done if he’d been prime minister (fat chance of that), after all that, I booted up and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Sitting on an old log I found four dragonflies. I joined their group and took their photographs, individually and in pairs and trios. Never quite managed the full group photo. Well, you know how it is with group shots. There’s always somebody who blinks or looks the other way and there’s always the joker who pulls a funny face. It’s just the same with dragonflies, except with wings. One of the dragonfly photos got PoD.

Dinner tonight was Haggis Neeps and Tatties. No, it wasn’t Burns Night, it was just a great idea from Scamp that really hit the spot. It was buying the turnip from Lidl that settled the case for H,N&T. Very enjoyable and even better, there may be enough haggis left for tomorrow’s lunch.

After dinner and after watching another fascinating GP which Hamilton won <Insert boo here> and Verstappen drove a spectacular second place after starting last <Insert Hooray here> we did a bit of online investigating. Scamp found that the owner of the garage we used to take our car to for MOT and servicing has now gone into partnership in a new place. We may go and do a drive by tomorrow, just in case the wee red car need some TLC.

Spoke to Jamie in the evening and found that life was just ticking over as normal down there. Told him I was testing Dashline and Lastpass, his and Hazy’s password managers at present. I’ve Dashline working on the MBP and Lastpass on the iMac. Not much to pick and choose between them, but I’m just a week in to the test.

Tomorrow we might do that drive by, or we might go for a walk or maybe we’ll do both. Who knows? You might, tomorrow.


Recharging – 25 September 2021

Getting the wee red car back on the road.

Up with the bonnet and then … I found my socket set was all imperial sizes and the bolts holding the terminals to the battery were metric. My 7/16” socket was too tight and the 1/2” socket was too slack. I needed something like a 15/32” socket, or more realistically, an 11mm one. I did have a set of cheap metric sockets at one time, about a year ago, I think, but I reckon I must have thrown them out in a clear out last year. Oh well, I was going to Halfords anyway to get a battery charger. I’d add a socket set to the list.

Drove up to the retail park in my car, in heavy traffic all heading north or east. This was September weekend in Scotland a school holiday and what used to be a bank holiday too, so maybe that explained the rush into the wilds of the countryside. I wouldn’t have rushed, because it was another of those drizzly Scottish days. I got the battery charger and the cheap socket set that I won’t throw out this time and returned to remove a battery that’s only about a year old. Tried to remember which terminal you remove first and found that Mr Google had the answer. Dragged the battery up to the back bedroom and meanwhile Scamp had unboxed the charger which we plugged in and set it to work for a couple of hours, after which it merrily told us the battery was charged and being ‘maintained’ whatever that means. The instructions weren’t that explicit about that part of the charging procedure. Two hours seemed a very short time to charge a totally flat battery, but I took it out and after checking with Mr Google again connected the positive, then the negative terminal. Immediately the warning lights came on in the car which I remembered from last year when I replaced a totally dead battery. Locked the battery in place and tentatively locked the car with the fob then unlocked it again. Key in the socket turned and so did the starter motor and the engine burst into life again! Hooray! The Wee Red Car will live to fight another day. I left it to rest after the open heart surgery, but we’ll go for a run tomorrow just to give it a bit more energy.

A Piece ’n’ Egg, actually two eggs was a late lunch and then, while Scamp did a bit of baking, I took the Big Dog and the macro lens out for a walk in St Mo’s. Found a Black Darter dragonfly on the boardwalk which was very skittish to start with, but after a bit of patient crawling around the boardwalk, I managed to get a couple of shots of it. I saw one last year and was reading about it in last year’s blog post. It would have made PoD, but it was pipped to the post by a couple of mating Shield Bugs. The larger of the two (the female) was calling the shots and decided it wanted to head off while the poor male was dragged along behind. It’s a tough life and probably quite painful being a male shield bug!

Scamp had cabbage and potatoes for dinner while I had mince ’n’ tatties with some of the cabbage. Not beetroot, Jamie! We had a baked corn on the cob each from the Campbell Garden down south. Both were still perfectly fresh. Scamp’s baking had included a rhubarb and apple tart from the Campbell Garden in Scotland. Beautifully crisp pastry. One of the best she’s made.

We struggled through the first Strictly of the year, but I’ll admit I wasn’t all that interested in most of it. Did enjoy the gay couple’s tango. Brilliantly done. We used to do a routine with Jamie Gal’ where the leader became the follower and vice versa. It’s very, very confusing for both parties, but the two men were faultless tonight.

Maybe we’ll take the Wee Red Car out for a run tomorrow to give its battery another charge.

Family Photography – 24 September 2021

Today I was going to Glasgow on the train, to meet my brother. Unfortunately the Wee Red car wouldn’t take us to the station.

A rattle from the starter made me think it was a flat battery, except the battery was only a year old. Starter motor? I had a look under the bonnet, but there was nothing to see. Nothing loose, battery connections tight. Not sure if the RAC would come to the house, because we don’t have Home Start. The simple answer would be for Scamp to drive me there in the Blue Micra, but she’s only driven it once or twice a year ago. However, she stepped up to the plate, locked the red car and got into the driver’s seat of the Blue Micra. She drove me to the train station and I had plenty of time to get a ticket and get on the train. Meanwhile she texted me to say she had parked at Tesco.

I wandered round Bucky Street, because I was a bit early and it was a lovely clear morning, which was a change from the soaking Scottish drizzle at Croy station. I sat on the steps of the Concert Hall and took a few 18mm photos down Bucky Street to St Enoch at the bottom and on to the M74 in the distance with just the hint of Queens Park on the South Side. I was wearing a red carnation so he’d recognise me, but I spotted him first. Even from the back he was recognisably Alex. We met halfway up the stairs and after a quick hug we walked up Sausageroll Street.

Alex wanted to photograph some architecture and I suggested St Aloysius church on Rose Street. I really like this building and did a pen sketch of it some years ago. I can’t remember ever photographing it though. Maybe I did, but it’s so tall and there is no room to get distance to it, I don’t think any of my lenses could have coped with it. The 18mm managed it today. From there we walked down towards the motorway and more importantly the beautiful wedge shaped ex-bank on Shamrock Street. Glasgow’s version of the ‘Flat Iron’ building. While we were photographing it an older lady stopped to ask if we were interested in the building. She told us she lived in it and gave us a bit of its history. Built in 1909 and designed by architect Neil C. Duff. She said it was good that some people were interested enough in the building to photograph it. We thanked her and said our goodbyes.  Today’s PoD was a view of the front door of the ex-bank.

From there Alex wanted to photograph some modern day graffiti on the Chinese Supermarket across the street. Then we went for a coffee in Costa and compared notes. Next stop was Union Street for a bit of tech shopping, but the actual purchase didn’t happen because the queue was far too long. More graffiti on Mitchell Street (the lady picking people off the street), then a delightful tea and cake in the Willow Tea Rooms on Bucky Street. Never been in there before, but would go back again for the carrot cake!

All too soon it was time to go. We’d had a fairly comprehensive walk and photo shoot around central Glasgow. I got the bus home and Alex headed for the train. We’ve vowed to meet up again soon in two or three weeks, depending on the weather. I thoroughly enjoyed today. We will do it again.

Back home I brought tonight’s dinner. A small fish supper for Scamp and a single large fish for me. I needed that after a day of sugar overload. Found the battery in the car was completely flat. It’s been lying dormant for a long time, so maybe it needs to keep its wheels turning, or maybe there’s something more wrong. I’m suspecting a flat battery caused by a dodgy alternator, but we’ll get a charger tomorrow and try that first. One step at a time. That might be the theme for today.

No plans for tomorrow except charging a battery.

In Deepest Paisley – 23 September 2021

We were off into the depths of Paisley to dance.

Drove in through Glasgow again and the traffic wasn’t all that bad at all. Just make sure you’re in the right lane and don’t deviate. Go with the flow and all will be well. All did go well until in the centre of Paisley I made the same wrong turning I’d made two years ago and found myself relying on the sat nav to get me out of trouble. It did it perfectly. Arrive with about five minutes to spare.

Danced Waltz, Social Foxtrot, Foxtrot, Tango and innumerable Sequence Dances. Sat beside two folk we’ve met at tea dances before and who also go to our Saturday morning class, John and Madge. We also has a chat with two others we know from Salsa, Barry and Cath. There were also a number of “Weel Kent Faces” in the group, about a dozen couples in total. I don’t think we were the clumsiest and I know we were nowhere near the best, but we danced, socially and didn’t bump into anyone. Yes, we made mistakes, but we just got on with it. We kept to the right lane, didn’t deviate too much and went with the flow. It works, you know!

As promised, there was tea and cake and sweets. There was plenty of time to mingle and talk to folk. Do you know, I’m beginning to enjoy this social aspect of dancing. It’s slower than Salsa, but it’s just as enjoyable in a different way. Like so many things, it’s the people who make it enjoyable.

Back home the sat nav had an off day and took us home by the ‘Scenic Route’ then dumped us in the middle of a traffic jam caused by road works. We did eventually get home and I went out for a walk in St Mo’s to get some poor quality photos then went to Condorrat to get some ‘thick milk’ to add to tonight’s dinner which was Smoked Haddock and Leek Risotto. One of our leeks again.

PoD was a Garden Cross spider, so called because it has the markings of a cross on its back.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to meet my brother in Glasgow.

Out to lunch – 22 September 2021

Scamp had arranged a lunch for Gems to mark the end of an era for the singing group.

A sad day in a way, but as she, and the other ladies, admitted, although Covid had put an end to their activities with all the churches and halls closing their doors during Lockdown, the heyday for the singing group had passed. The final decision had really been taken out of their hands. All the remaining members joined in the celebration of years of providing music and enjoyment to people who needed just that little lift. I was taxi driver for today and drove Scamp and Margie down to The Village for their lunch.

That meant I had some time on my own and nothing to do, or so I thought. I’d intended doing some painting or drawing because Inktober is just around the corner. In the end I just added some pastel to the ongoing sketch that lives in the back room. Then I started on more catch-up for the blog and finally finished the posting of photos on Flickr. Finally I made a bowl of dough to make a pizza for dinner, mine really, but I knew Scamp would sample it too.

I’d almost finished when my phone chirped to tell me it was time to go and pick up the ladies. It had turned into one of those miserable Scottish days with drizzle and rain designed to dampen anyone’s spirits, but they seemed to have had a good afternoon.

I couldn’t be bothered going out to get wet and come home with a miserable set of photos, so I put the A6000 on the Gorilla Pod and set up a tabletop display of some of our apples. Red ones are James Grieve (much redder than usual) the dull green ones are Russets. One of those shots became PoD.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go dancing, tea dancing, and there will be cake!

Out for a walk – 21 September 2021

Today looked like being the best day this week, so we planned a walk.

Every time we passed Devilla forest near Kincardine we promised ourselves that we’d go for a walk in the woods. That’s where we headed today. The weather was a bit breezier and duller than we’d expected, but Scamp filled the flask and packed some biscuits so we wouldn’t starve. New boots were packed in the car and off we went.

By the time we were crossing the Kincardine Bridge into Fife, the sky was clearing and it was looking quite hopeful. Arrived at the car park which was less than half full. One of the benefits of going there on a weekday. Weekends are fairly busy. Got dressed for the walk and after a cursory glance at the map we headed off in the general direction of Peppermill Dam. Signposting is pretty hit and miss in this Forestry Commission (or Forestry and Land Scotland as it’s now known) land and the uncompacted hardcore underfoot on the main paths is treacherous to walk on. Once we were on the smaller paths near the dam the walking was much easier and we found quite a few mushrooms for me to photograph. Wandered on and found our way back to the car park with the aid of the OS app. We needed it because of the scarcity of signposts. All in all the Devilla of today needs a good makeover. The hardcore tracks are an accident waiting to happen and labelling them as “Cycle paths” must have been done by someone who hasn’t been on a bike this century. Also, people want signs to show where they are and how to get to the interesting sights in the forest. Such a shame.

Back home, I reckoned I had enough photos of mushrooms, toadstools and scenery to make a PoD and started on the seemingly never ending task of filling in the blanks of the blog. Scamp was champing at the bit to get both front and back grass cut, possibly egged on my Jamie’s comment of making the last cut of his grass while we were down in Cumbria. I helped a bit with some gentle strimming and also shifting the flower tubs in the front garden.

Dinner tonight was Beetroot Falafels from Jamie and Sim’s recipe. They tasted ok, but the star attraction was the roasted beetroot chunks. Sweet and utterly delicious.

Tomorrow Scamp is off out to lunch with the now disbanded Gems. I may paint, because the weather looks wet.