The end of October – 31 October 2021

Halloween and the day the clocks went back to GMT, plus the end of Inktober 2021.

All that and it was still raining!

The only useful thing we did today was to walk to the shops to get some veg for me to make a veggie chilli. For something that changes every time I make it, I was surprised when it actually turned out quite well today. One courgette, one Red Pepper, half a Red Chilli and Onion (chopped fine), a Red Onion (quartered), a large Tomato chopped, a tin of Kidney Beans and half a tin of chopped tomatoes. The veg fried for five minute or so then the rest tossed in along with a teaspoon of cocoa powder (thank you Aunt Belle). Brought to the boil then simmered for about half an hour. Served with rice and pitta bread if you have any. It wasn’t blindingly hot, just hot enough, but Scamp’s Lime Cheesecake finished things off and performed any cooling action that was required.

After we returned from the shops and before the culinary skills were on show, I went for a walk in St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which was a tree sapling growing from a stump of a tree. I just liked the idea of a tree growing in a tree. Sketch of the day was for the final prompt of Inktober 2021, ‘Risk’, and was a glass of whiskey, half finished with a set of car keys beside it. We all take risks. Sometimes the benefits mean the risks are worth it. Sometimes they’re not. I’m not making judgements here, just drawing an ink sketch. Strangest thing though, when I was walking upstairs to photograph the sketch for posting. I always do it under my daylight bulb, anyway I was singing a line from a Roger Waters song ‘Four Minutes’. Listen to it and you’ll see why I mention it.

I’m rushing to get this posted before the month changes …

… It’s posted with less than a minute to spare, now I can finish it.  The day did brighten up a bit and later in the evening I went to the door and stars where shining in an almost clear sky.  I don’t think it will last, more clouds, more rain predicted for tomorrow.  I think tomorrow we might go shopping in the morning and Scamp has plans to have coffee with June in the afternoon.  I have a final sendoff planned for Inktober 2021.  It wasn’t my favourite Inktober, but I got all 31 sketches done in time.  That’s good enough for me.

Jagging in the Rain – 30 October 2021

Scamp’s turn this time.

Drove up to The Link and Scamp joined the queue that took her through the different stages of the procedure for getting your booster jag and her flu jag. An experience we’ve both been through a couple of times now. She hadn’t been feeling brilliant earlier in the morning, but after the magic jags she was a lot better and improved throughout the day. It might be her new meds that don’t agree with her.

Of course it was raining all morning, but as we were driving home it did appear that the clouds were breaking and there was blue sky up there. After a light lunch I volunteered to go out and get dinner. Go out with a camera and get dinner, that is. I drove up to Fannyside and gawped at the colours and sharpness of everything. That’s what happens when you have three or four days of heavy rain, light rain and drizzle to wash the landscape clean. Not just the landscape, the sky too seems to get a wash down. All the dust in the atmosphere gets removed and you can see for miles. Late afternoon sunshine does help too, as do the scattered clouds being blown along by a strong, cold, western wind. It’s holes in those clouds that create little spots of sunshine on the land and give it texture. That’s what I was hoping for and that’s what I got today. It was a photo of an old ruined farmhouse on a hillock that got PoD, or rather, it was the lighting on the landscape that got PoD. The hillock and the old ruined farm were just props in the picture. “It’s all about the light”, someone once said.

When I got home, Scamp was feeling better, certainly well enough to enjoy a Bigham’s Fish Pie. I had a Lasagne. Both of them are expensive for what they are, but they’re worth it for the taste.

Watched another episode of Shetland and the plot thickens. After that it was time for Strictly, and as we hadn’t been able to get to the dance class today, this was our dance fix. I couldn’t be bothered with it after a while and gave up to write this and think about what today’s sketch, the second last one for this year’s Inktober, would be. I also listened to a track from A Momentary Lapse of Reason by Pink Floyd. Superb, although I never really understood what it was all about.

Tonight, the penultimate prompt in Inktober 2021 was ‘Slither’. I chose a snail as my muse. In the past month I’ve resorted to Google for some of my images, but this was one of my own photos, for a change.

Tomorrow I’m told we may be going for the messages. I’m hoping for some sun, I’m always looking for some sun or at least decent light, but I’ll settle for ‘dry’.

It rained again – 29 October 2021

And again and again and eventually it did dry up for a while. That is the end of the weather report.

Really dull day again with no sign of the rain stopping. We had intended to go out for lunch, but that never happened. Eventually we settled on scrambled egg on toast. Hardly what we’d thought we’d have, but it was just that sort of day, the sort of day that drags you down. There must be an end to these constant deluges, but it wasn’t today.

Eventually I did manage to go out for a walk with the camera, over to St Mo’s when the rain lessened sufficiently to allow me to take some photos. Of course those photos centred around RAIN. My favourite and PoD was another amalgamation of two shots. Technically it’s called ‘Focus Stacking’. The front leaf was in focus in one picture and the rest was in focus in the other. Load them into Potatoshop and you can make them both be in focus. A little cheat that sound much better when you call it Focus Stacking!

We watched another episode of the Portrait Artist of the Year. It’s always amazing to me to see how these people can slap paint on a canvas and then pull an image from the resulting mess. It’s like the sculptors who chip away at a block of marble to reveal the head and shoulders of a person that they knew was there all the time. As usual, neither Scamp nor I agreed with any of the judges decisions.

I struggled for an idea that would solve today’s prompt ‘Patch’. Lots of ‘patches’ were considered and rejected. My aunties had a dog called Patch that I was allowed to take out for a walk when we visited them. I like him, he was a scruffy little mongrel, but really obedient. I could do a patch on a pair of jeans. I’ve patched a few. A patch on a bike tyre, or a bike repair kit with its patches? All were rejected for one reason or another. I finally chose an eye patch as the most interesting. It’s really just a prop on a portrait of some bloke who doesn’t look like me, but it was interesting to draw.

I eventually wandered off to bed about midnight, without having written this blog, so today is a catch up. I hope the rain stops and the sun shines, so we can go out for a while.

Another early one – 28 October 2021

Taking the wee red car to get its yearly checkup. Always a case for heart in the mouth.

Drove down to the garage and waited. It was supposed to open at 9am, and although one of the mechanics appeared, it was still locked up. Eventually we left the car key with him and just at that moment someone arrived with the key to the garage, so we headed off home for breakfast, stopping at Tesco on the way for milk and bread. Unfortunately it was still before 10am so the other essential (alcoholic beverages) weren’t available.

A while after breakfast I eventually decided that it was dry enough to risk a walk in St Mo’s to get some photos. If the day brightened up later I’d get some more, but that looked unlikely to say the least. I did get some photos, but none of them were really contenders for the PoD.

Came home and we had lunch. Finished today’s Sudoku and started investigating the possibility of getting my phone to get itself an upgrade. I’d put a dodgy piece of software in it about a year ago that would prevent Samsung doing upgrades every second day. Now that software had disappeared, but its effect was still there. Eventually after consulting with the inter web I found that it hadn’t really gone. It was just hiding deep in the settings. When I too the plunge and switched it off the updates screen lit up. BUT I needed the phone because that was the number I’d given the garage, but once I got the word that the car was ready to pick up, I’d start the installation.

Hazy phoned not long after and she and Scamp had a long discussion about dresses for weddings. You will notice that the ‘wedding’ word is in the plural and it’s no surprise then to discover that the ‘dress’ word is also in its plural form. After the fashionistas had completed their discussion I managed to get involved in the conversation too. We talked for a while about family stuff, just catching up, really. Then my phone rang. The car had passed and been serviced, so was ready to collect. We talked to Hazy for a while longer then said our “cheerios”. Drove to the garage, paid our dues and drove home.

When I was driving back, the sky was definitely clearing from the west. By the time I got home blue sky was visible. I waited for Scamp to return then took my camera for its second walk today in St Mo’s. It was quite warm with beautiful light and I did manage to get a PoD. It was just a little weed that had been washed for days by the torrential rain and all its neighbours had been washed clean at the same time. They really sparkled in the late afternoon sun.

Dinner was Bubble ’n’ Squeak, a long time favourite of mine, but something I haven’t had for years. I even learned to make it myself a long time ago. I may have to relearn it.

The prompt for today asked for ‘Crispy’. I gave them a Crispy Cake. Made with Corn Flakes or Rice Krispies, it fits the bill for me. One of the few cakes Hazy can eat. It mush have been your phone call that put it in my head.

Tomorrow I go to see the health centre vampires who will want to take some of my blood. It’s almost Halloween, so it’s quite fitting.

Another wet one – 27 October 2021

Where is all this rain coming from?

The rain seems never ending these days. If it doesn’t rain in the morning, it rains in the afternoon. If it doesn’t rain in the morning or the afternoon it’s a miracle. We haven’t had any miracles for a while. But we shouldn’t complain because some places in Southern Scotland have a prediction for 200mm of rain in a day. Thankfully, this far, we haven’t had that amount, but we have two water buckets and a watering can in the back garden. The smaller of the two water buckets has been overflowing for days now, the other bucket is three quarters full and the watering can will be full by now. Then the weather fairies have the cheek to give us more rain tomorrow.

I did nip out with the Sony and the big macro lens in one of the spells of drizzle to get some photos. The best one of the lot was the fuchsia that hangs from a hook on the fence. At least that wee flower has a chance to discard its excess water, the ones on the ground are now waterlogged. The fuchsia got PoD.

That was about the extent of my walk today. A wander round the garden (like a teddy bear) and a walk up to the corner to put the bin out.

Today’s prompt was “Spark”. What do you draw for that? I chose a spark plug. Without these little wonders of technology our petrol driven cars wouldn’t work. I did try to add a spark, but it didn’t look right, so I removed it.

Well, sorry people, that was it for today. Not a day for going out and not a lot that I wanted to do in the house either. Scamp made soup, so at least we’ll have something to eat tomorrow.

Out early tomorrow to take the Wee Red Car for its MOT. Then we’ll wander round the house with our fingers crossed until we get the phone call.

Life in the twilight zone – 26 October 2021

Not the scary one, just the one where the sun never seems to rise.

Scamp was out early to go to the Post Office in Eastfield which is where she’d been told there was a parcel waiting for her, the one she’d missed yesterday. When she got there the woman in the PO said she didn’t have it or couldn’t find it, but would have another look and would phone her to update her. We didn’t hold out much hope for that happening. We’ve not had a great deal of success with Parcelforce.

Scamp was going out to lunch with the witches later, and I was off the leash. Yesterday I’d a couple of things in mind for today. I was intending to fix a grip on the cooker top and maybe get round to taking up my walking trousers, because they are way too long. If time and weather permitted I thought I might go up to the Carron reservoir to get some photos and some fresh air. One look out the window in the morning put paid to that last idea. Time might have permitted, but the weather certainly wouldn’t. It really looked like the sun had forgotten to rise. The other ideas would be the fallbacks.

When Scamp had left for lunch with Jeanette, I drove down to Wardpark to book Scamp’s car in for MOT. I drove rather than phoned because the sky might have brightened up and I might manage to get some photos, but it didn’t and I didn’t. I just drove home again and started cutting up my walking trousers. It sounds a bit drastic, but it really wasn’t. I had a plan and it involved sewing and cutting and pressing and it worked. The trousers are now a good 40mm shorter than they were and don’t get caught in the heels of my boots. By the time I’d done that and cleared up the back bedroom a bit, because that’s where I draw at night in October and also where I photograph the drawings to go in the blog and on Flickr. Even I get fed up with tripping over cables, although Scamp won’t believe that. I was just finishing and making a late lunch when Scamp reappeared. I hadn’t noticed the time, but two and a half hours had passed since she left.

When I got back from the garage, there was a note to say that a parcel weIt was in the bin store. I wasn’t sure if it was for me or her, but was pretty sure this was the missing one. It was for me, and it was a bottle of the hand wash that I’d been raving about after we left Bombay Cottage last week, or was that the week before? Anyway, here was the very bottle and it was just the same perfume. That was a brilliant surprise! Thank you, Scamp. I’m still not all that clear on the details of the travels of this parcel, but all’s well that ends well.

PoD turned out to be a detail from a vase of flowers that I sat on the worktop in the kitchen, catching what light was available at the time. It needed 20 seconds of exposure to get the shot, but it was worth it.

Sketch prompt was ‘Connect’. Have you ever stopped to count all the different cables and connectors you have? I don’t have the time to do it, but there must be close on a hundred different pieces of wire and plastic that connect something to something else in the house. Then there are all the duplicates and triplicates and … ! These are some of mine.

No plans for tomorrow because the weather fairies are predicting that tomorrow will be episode two of Life In The Twilight Zone


Dancing Central – 25 October 2021

But first the doc’s.

Drove Scamp to her appointment with the doc. The doc shook her hand, gave her a prescription for some pills and said she hoped Scamp would feel better. It was a blustery day with occasional rain showers that came thumping down, seemingly from nowhere. We drove to the chemist which is conveniently next to Tesco and while she was in the chemist, I went to get some messages then we drove home and it was just after 10am! Unluckily for Scamp she had just missed the Parcelforce man who was supposed to be delivering a parcel today. Now she’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

We had a late breakfast and I messed about with the computer for a while, bought The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker. Yes, Hazy, you talked me into it and I needed something well written after having ploughed through the latest John Connolly. I used to like his stories, but too much padding, too much history and too little story in this one. After that we watched yesterday’s F1 GP from Austin. Quite and exciting race for once with lots of action and a good finish.

After lunch it was a case of pack up your dance shoes and drive to another tea dance. This one was in Falkirk, in Central Region, hence the cryptic title to this blog. We’d been to a tea dance in Falkirk before the first lockdown, but only one, then everything shut down. That one had been in the Council Offices, but today’s was in a church hall in the centre of Falkirk. Lovely looking church with a reasonably sized hall but the bonus was the live music. A bloke playing an organ, not a keyboard, but an organ with foot pedals and stuff. Apparently he’s an opera singer, but makes a bob or two running tea dances in local churches. He was good, but hadn’t quite got the mark of the clientele. Twice he tried to get people up to dance Scottish country dance tunes. Once couple got up for the first one, but nobody did for the second! Just a bit embarrassing. We did all the dances that I was sure I knew and one or two that I was a bit rust on. Big bonus of this tea dance was that they actually had tea. Gorbals didn’t and that was a black mark against them. Extra big bonus, they had Tunnocks Caramel Wafers and also Snowballs. Scamp was peeved that she didn’t get a snowball. The company was a lot less friendly than other places we’ve been too. Insular or maybe inbred, difficult to tell, but none of the dancers spoke to us. Black mark against them, then.

We had got soaked walking from the carpark to the church, but when we came out the sun was shining. Not so shiny was Falkirk Main Street. If this had been America, there would have been tumbleweed rolling down the streets. Shop after shop was closed and boarded up. These days you only need one or two big shops to close and you’ve started on the slippery slope. It was really depressing. There were a lot of smaller shops on some of the streets off the main street, but some of them were almost certainly on a short let. The only shop that was busy was the big party shop. People were queueing all the way down its frontage, almost all with children in tow, desperate to get their Halloween costumes. We drove home and agreed that we’d go back to the next tea dance in the church, all being well.

Back home there was just enough light to allow a safari to St Mo’s. I got today’s PoD of a spider there. I think that was the last of the light just disappearing.

Dinner was Saturday’s soup with croutons and a pizza to follow. Today’s prompt was ’Splat’. My sketch of a splatted egg got Scamp’s approval with a couple of suggestions that I agree with, but by then it was too late to change things. The sketch this time is drawn on an A2 sheet of cartridge paper. A bit bigger than my usual A5! No eggs were harmed in making this sketch, only virtual ones!

Tomorrow Scamp is booked with the Witches for lunch. I have a few jobs to do in the house and also a prospective drive into the country if weather permits.



A day to relax and take stock – 24 October 2021

After yesterday’s hustle and bustle we needed a day to relax.

Although there was still some work to do, the dishwasher would manage to do the heavy lifting. All we had to do was empty yesterday’s last load and fill it up with the final bits and pieces from the cooking and the eating. Then the living room had to be returned to normal, but with Scamp’s guidance that didn’t take long. By midday we were beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I say ‘we’, but Scamp did most of the work, as usual.

Lunch saw the watershed and we knew it was downhill after that. We sat and watched last night’s qualifying session for the American GP amazed at the drivers’ skill to navigate the zig zag changes of direction while managing to avoid slower cars in front of them. Good to see Mad Max get pole for today, Sunday although, because the race is in Austin, Texas it won’t be available to us poor souls without Sky Sport until the early hours of Monday morning. We can wait. It won’t make much difference to our life to wait until tomorrow.

In the late afternoon I went out for a walk in St Mo’s and got some photos, 49 photos to be more precise. I liked the shot of the larch needles changing colour and almost ready to drop.

Dinner was some soup from yesterday, the remains of the Chicken Cacciatore from yesterday augmented with some chicken thighs from the freezer and a baked potato each. We also finished off the tear & share bread and the wine. It seemed a shame to waste all that good food, and it was also an ecologically sound choice.

Spoke to Jamie later and found out more of the last minute changes that have to be made and the slight alterations to timing that come when house buying. As always, Jamie was very calm about the whole thing, never making a drama out of a crisis. Totally unlike his father.

Prompt for today was ‘Extinct’ and while others were sketching dinosaurs and skeletons and some were even predicting the end of the human race, I chose to draw Sid from ‘Ice Age’. It seemed to fit the prompt and he was fun to draw. Another ink sketch with no watercolour. The ink is still drying as I’m writing this.

Tomorrow Scamp is off to the Doc’s, so Neil, this is her interpretation of ‘Soon’. You were the one who gave her the incentive to do it. Thank you.

Relentless – 23 October 2021

Today would be no-stop.

Up early today because, before we did anything today, there was a loaf to make, or at least the dough to prepare. John and Marion were coming for dinner tonight and I was in charge of the bread and the soup. The bread just had to be the Tear & Share. The soup was to be tomato and red pepper, but the prep of that could wait until we returned from dance class. Scamp was ahead of the game having made the main course yesterday and was preparing the Lime Cheesecake while I was kneading the bread dough.

Out a bit earlier for our trip to Bridge of Weir for the dance class. Hoping there wouldn’t be too much congestion on the M8 because to f the COP26 stramash happening across the river at the SEC. Actually there was very little traffic.

Dance class was ok to start with. Strange complicated sequence dance called Mambo Magic. Much, much more energetic and frantic than any I’ve encountered so far. Very disjointed too, as if it had been designed by a committee! Lots if disparate routines that didn’t seem to gel. Even teacher Jane agreed with this complaint.
Next was Tango and a fault finding and tuning of the basic tango. This was very useful because it changed a simple dance into a much more sophisticated one.
Final teaching session was for the Quickstep which is my bête noire of the moment. We’d practised this at home, yesterday and I’d managed to get all the bits in the right place, but today all Scamp’s teaching went out the window. By the end of the session and with Scamp and Jane’s help it began to come together again, but this will need some more practise sessions at home before I’m ready to progress.

Drove home through Glasgow and the only time we met any substantial amount of traffic was just before the Kingston Bridge where it’s usually busy anyway. We stopped at Tesco on the way home, but were still parked and in the house much, much earlier than a usual Saturday. I wonder if all the talk of road closures and long delays had made some people stay at home today or at least choose a different route that avoided the motorways. Whatever it was, it was a pleasant surprise.

Dough was rising for the bread and Scamp was hard at work getting the table set while I chopped tomatoes and peppers for the soup. I was trialing a new method for the soup. Just chop all the veg sprinkle with oil and bake in the oven for 60mins at gas 6. After that, add the stock and a tin of tomatoes and cook for 20mins before blitzing. Much less faff which leaves time for other things, like photography!

PoD was a shot of a single rose stem with one bud and one blown flower. Used Potatoshop to put a nice blue sky (from another of my photos) in the background and there you have it!

Visitors arrived on time and we had a great, relaxing evening eating, talking an generally catching up with everything that’s been going on in all of our lives over the past two years. Found out about the May wedding too.

After the visitors left and the dishwasher was chugging away with the first load, we had a chance to sit and relax for a while. I managed to get the sketch finished and posted just before midnight. The prompt was “Leak” and I drew the leaky tap you see here. A bit rushed and no watercolour this time, but finished (just) in time and fulfilling the prompt.

Tomorrow (today, you realise!) we will probably load up the dishwasher again and try to put the house back to its normal relaxed state!

We went for the messages – 22 October 2021

We drove to The Fort for messages and for lunch, after a technology breakdown.

I wanted to see if my covid vaccination status had been updated, but the app wouldn’t work. It simply refused to accept my password. I finally gave up and uninstalled it, then reinstalled it and started fresh. When it asked me to scan my driver’s license I realised what was going on. People in Scotland had been reported as getting in to a nightclub, then passing their phone back to one of their pals. That allowed them to get in with an other person’s phone. The problem was there was no biometrics check on the app. Now there is. It took me two tries before I could get the thing to work, then it crashed just before the final stage. After the first two failed attempts I had to go right back to the start and go through everything again. On my last try at a restart it just took me through all the screens without having to do anything. No license scan, no facial recognition scan, just a QR code. Of course, Scamp got right through first time! Now we’ll be able to get into a nightclub!

With our new covid passport, Scamp went looking for towels, a house warming present for Shona, in M&S and I went looking for my next book in Waterstones, but found none that interested me. Then I went to Boots to get fine tweezers. Just the thing for picking off nasty little ticks. The first pair I saw were £23. I was thinking more about £2 or 3. I found a pair, thankfully, for £2. Then I saw a sign of the times. The bloke at the set of Pay Here cubicles asked if I wanted to pay cash or card. I had enough ready cash in my pocket to cover the cost of the tweezers, so I said cash. He pointed to one cubicle at the corner and said “Wait until that one is clear.” There was one cubicle for pay cash, the other five or six were card only. I swiftly changed my mind and paid by card. It cost ME the same amount of money, but I’m sure Boots got less from me once the card company’s share of my £2 had been deducted. The shape of things to come.

Met Scamp and we went to Wagamama for lunch. Checked in (will we always have to do that from now on?) Ordered shirodashi ramen (pork belly) for me and shu’s ‘shiok’ chicken (curry) for Scamp with a couple of sides. Ebi katsu (prawns in crispy panko breadcrumbs) and Vegetable Tempura. Scamp’s main was only just warm, but was replaced without question. Mine was very spicy hot, but tolerable. The Ebi katsu was lovely as usual but the tempura was far too oily. Not Wagamama’s best day.

We went to Morrisons for the messages and bought a fair amount of stuff, then drove to to Hobbycraft. Scamp was looking for ring moulds, but they didn’t have any. I was looking for a paintbrush, but they didn’t have the one I wanted. We drove home.

After a while I put on my boots and went for a walk in St Mo’s to see what I could find. PoD went to a golden leaf. Not real gold, just gold leaf 😂🤣. Sketch for today was ‘Open’. My thinking was the door to a shop that is open, but the restrictions on entry mean it’s closed. I liked it although the sketching and painting were rubbish.

We’re having John and Marion over for dinner tomorrow, so tonight we started our prep. My soup didn’t quite hit the mark, so I’ll have a rethink for tomorrow, but Scamp’s main is looking good.

Tomorrow will be busy. Work will hopefully start before we go out to Bridge of Weir for dance class.