Dancin’ – 30 June 2022

Out dancing in Paisley

We drove over to Paisley just after midday for today’s tea dance. Got there late as usual. My fault again, as usual. Danced the afternoon away. We didn’t dance the Tango because we were too busy talking and we didn’t dance the Quickstep, because we can’t remember any of the steps Michael taught us and we never get a straight run at it with Stewart and Jane because we’re off visiting somewhere. One of these times we’ll get a chance for a private lesson and begin to dance the Quickstep. Everything else, Waltz, Social Foxtrot, Rumba and Cha-Cha plus innumerable sequence dances. It was a great way of adding to our step count and must have done us some good, because we were both exhausted when the ‘Last Waltz’ was called.

When the dancing was done, I gave Stewart the painting he’d asked me for back in February. It’s not the exact one he saw on Facebook, but a very good copy, and a larger copy too. I think it’s going to an 80 year old lady who simply loves ‘Green Door’ by Shakin Stevens and that’s what’s in the painting, my version of Green Door. I told him that I hoped it would exorcise that song which constantly runs through my head. I catch myself singing it at odd times through the day. It must be some kind of strange disease, because I hate that song!

As we were driving home I kept watching the great black clouds that were gathering in front of us and remembered the warning ‘Alexa’ gave this morning for thunderstorms. However, we got home without getting wet. The car took a bit of a soaking, but we were dry. Scamp’s washing that she’d left out also got an extra rinse from the rain, but the sun was warm and there was a gentle breeze, so most of them were drying. Despite that, she decided it was time to take them in and it was a good choice, because not long after that, the rain came.

I couldn’t be bothered going over to St Mo’s after the rain stopped. Instead I took some photos in and around the garden, but they weren’t that good. Despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t make a silk purse out of that sow’s ear. It was after our, Bacon and Borlotti Beans, dinner when I took a look outside and saw the light shining through the rain and the roses that grow round the back door. That’s where today’s PoD came from. Roses in the rain.

For once, I enjoyed the tea dance. I felt at home with most of the dances, even the social foxtrot which we’ve never managed, we did quite well today. It wasn’t full of fancy moves, it was just moving to the music, but that’s what dancing is, isn’t it?

Absolutely no plans for tomorrow, but there will be something, you can bet your boots on that.

Squaring the circle – 29 June 2022

Today we were in the market for some supports to help stop the sag.

We drove to Torwood and argued about discussed the various options for a support for at least one of Scamp’s roses. They really are massive and a bit lanky. Eventually we settled on two different, totally different support systems. One was interlocking metal rods that create a pentagonal frame for a basically round bush in a square pot. The other was three bamboo hoops, so essentially six legs, again supporting a round bush in a square pot with the addition of some coarse garden twine. We’ll see how they survive the summer into the autumn.

With the roses now better supported and feeling uplifted ourselves we drove back via Tesco for some real essentials. Just stuff for dinner which would be the leftover curry from yesterday with the addition of one of those ‘real essentials’, decent Garam Masala. The stuff we’d been using was 90% cinnamon and 10% floor sweepings. Not good. On the way out I spotted Fred buying some flowers for Mrs Fred and we had a wee blether for a while, comparing books we’d lent each other. I knew Scamp would be waiting patiently in the car for me, but I made my excuse and left agreeing to phone Fred later in the week.

After we’d both cut ourselves to ribbons squeezing the rose bushes into their new cordons, Scamp pruned some of the plants that were running to seed and I pruned the highest of the roses that were also going over.

With the garden work done just in time to avoid a heavy shower, we waited a while for the sun to come out and went our usual ways. Scamp went to do more rearranging of plants in the garden and I went for a quick walk round St Mo’s. Two circuits gave me what I thought was a skinny little flying ant, but what turned out to be a Sabre Wasp. That became PoD.

I’d a painting to do today for one of our dance teachers. It’s been promised since March and I kept putting it off to do other ones. Today I finished it, mounted it and framed it. We’re intending to go to a Tea Dance tomorrow, so I can deliver it to him then. Hope he likes it.

Later we watched the Sewing Bee and Scamp correctly predicted the winner. Because the SB was on at the same time as Andy Murray’s second round match, we missed the thrilling second half, having watched the first half earlier. If you don’t want to know the score, look away now …

Right we’re back again. Since anyone who was interested, already knows who won and the rest of you aren’t interested, I’m not going to tell you.

Scamp was really pleased that one of the plants she’d been given when we were down at Jamie and Simonne’s was flowering. It’s a little pink geranium. She sent them a picture of it and also a picture of a rose called “Simply the Best” that looks quite startling just now. Of course she got good comments on both and she deserves them.

Tomorrow, as I said, we’re hoping to go dancing at Paisley. Other than that, nothing much planned.

Showers – 28 June 2022

It rained today, not all day, but occasional heavy showers all day.

We spent the morning looking for a pair of glasses. My glasses. My good glasses, not the cheapo readers I use most of the time, the ones I’m wearing now. No, they were the much more expensive ones I got from the opticians and the ones that, I now realise, don’t give me eye strain. We searched high and low for them, literally. We searched up on the top of cupboards and down under the settee in the living room. We looked in the kitchen, in the toilet, in the bathroom and worst of all in ‘my’ room where strange things are buried under more strange things. Eventually we gave up and had a cup of coffee each and didn’t speak about where they could be or where we hadn’t looked yet. For about half an hour we tried to put the glasses out of our heads instead of on our heads. Finally I frisked the bed for the second, or was that the third time? There, in the middle of the bed I felt a bump that shouldn’t be there. That bump was my glasses. They had been playing ‘hide and seek’ with me, and had chosen a smart hiding place, where I’d left them after I was finished reading in bed this morning. It only took us about three hours to find them. The good thing about the search was that it vastly increased my step count for the day. So, if I found my glasses, why am I wearing readers? Because the ‘lost’ pair had been bad and have been shut in the bedroom all day as a punishment. Furthermore, they have been warned that if they try that ‘hide and seek’ game again, they will be banished to ‘my’ room with all the terrors it contains!

After a lovely lunch of fried potatoes and the leftover chicken goujons from Sunday, Scamp declared that rather than go for a walk round St Mo’s, she’d rather do the ironing. I chose St Mo’s and took the Sony with its big, heavy macro lens, hoping for some wet weather shots taken in the sun during one of the dry spells. The dry spells occurred, but the sun was absent today. Instead I found a Ringlet butterfly, some more spider nests and best of all, a Plume Moth. So small and insignificant you’d pass it by, but if you look closely at this insect you will see its wings are far to narrow to carry it aloft. The reason is that when it lands, it doesn’t fold its wings along its body as most moths do, it rolls them up neatly and holds them out at its side, making a sort of cross shape.

Two of the great things about the Sony A7iii are Silent Shooting and Continuous Shooting. I won’t make Jamie yawn by explaining what they mean, although you can probably guess, I’ll just say that it means you can take lots of pictures in a very short time if you keep the shutter pressed. I managed to take about 200 shots of the Plume Moth in about two minutes. That meant I had 200 shots to look through when I got home.

After I’d done the first cull and got rid of about 150 of them, I started making tonight’s dinner which was Carrot and Lentil Curry. An old favourite and although it wasn’t as good as Scamp’s version, it filled a wee space.

PoD went to the Plume Moth.

Almost felt sorry for Serena Williams getting beat in the first round at Wimbledon. That must be a tough fall from grace.

No plans for tomorrow yet. Weather looks similar to today with perhaps less rain.



Thirty years a slave – 27 June 2022

Scamp reminded me that eight years ago today I retired after thirty years a slave.

My good (for ‘good’ read ‘only’) suit was going to the dry cleaners today, hopefully to remove some mysterious marks on the jacket. Since the dry cleaners is next to Tesco, it seemed a shame not to go and get some messages and Scamp’s meds. So we ended up with a fair load to bring back.

Back home Scamp started phoning P&O to check when we could book seats on the plane, only to find after 45minutes hanging on the phone that we do that through Jet 2. However, at least the procedure on Jet2 was really easy. One down. Next we had to get proof of Covid vaccination printed off. Two down, but still more than a few to go.

After lunch we went for a walk round St Mo’s. Once round for Scamp and twice round for me. One of the little green spiders with a red spot near its spinneret caught my eye. Pretty colour patterns on a reed leaf also appealed, but it was a Honeysuckle flower I saw on my way home that got PoD.

Spoke to Jamie tonight and heard about gardening in that enormous garden of his. Also, preparations for moving to a new job are high in his mind.

After dinner we watched Andy Murray get safety through his first match at Wimbledon.

Not a lot done today, but important things ticked off the list. Oh yes, and Scamp has a tiny baby tomato on her plant!

Tomorrow’s activities depend greatly on the weather.


Recovery – 26 June 2022

We got to bed too late last night and suffered the consequences today.

With that in mind, we decided to have a more relaxed day today and possibly get to bed at a more reasonable hour. Hopefully on the same day we got up. So here I am writing this blog at 22:50. That means I have just about an hour to get all the ducks in a row and in the right order. Here goes!

A late start to the day, but that was inevitable. We filled the washing machine and set it to work. The poor thing must have been almost totally full, but it struggled manfully with the load. Then Scamp phoned June to see if she was at home and entertaining visitors. She answered “Yes” to both questions, so Scamp gathered together all the things belonging to either June or Ian that she (Scamp) had brought back from Skye and hadn’t got round to returning to their rightful owner(s). Then she drove up to June’s house and deposited them and basically had a good blether with June for the rest of the morning. Me? I just messed around as I usually do on a Sunday morning. Doing nothing, but filling my time with it!

After Scamp had returned and we’d had lunch the washing was done, but it looked like it was raining, so we waited before committing to hanging out the washing. When the rain came on in a more serious way, Scamp gave up on the idea of hanging out the washing and just hung most of it on airers of various types around the house.

In between the showers, the sun nearly came out and the sky got a bit brighter, lighting up some alliums in a bunch of cut flowers on the table. I took some photos of the flowers and one of them eventually became PoD. I used the LensBaby Sweet 35, but didn’t actually label the photo with that as there is a bit of snobbery in photographic circles about using LensBaby lenses. I can’t see why. It’s a distorting lens, yes, but all lenses distort reality to some degree. To ostracise cheap(ish) lenses purely because they are not made by Nikon, Canon or Sony is simple snobbery, and it has no place in my photography.

We discussed dinner and set plans for Chicken Goujons with potatoes and broccoli. All was fine and well, until Scamp took the chicken out of the fridge and asked me to smell it. It was definitely off and went in the bin. I volunteered to walk down to the shops to get more. It wasn’t really raining by then, just a smirr in the wind but the wind was gusty and cold.

We were fated not to have those chicken goujons today, because the chicken fillets I’d bought turned out to be a bit tough. However they weren’t so tough that we couldn’t eat them.

We got a message from Jamie to say that they’d been working in the garden all day and time had just disappeared, they’d phone tomorrow. At least they had some sun by the sound of things. We’d just had wind and rain.

I did get a chance to write to Alex. Hope he’s feeling better and we can do a catch-up this week.

Tomorrow, we have to take my good suit (ie the one that fits me) to the cleaners to get some stains removed. Other than that nothing much to do. Weather looks better than today, but Tuesday? You don’t want to know what the weather forecast is for Tuesday.

Pride Glasgow 2022 – 25 June 2022

Today we were off to watch the madness that takes over Glasgow for one day only a year and it is called Pride Glasgow.

But first there was unfinished business to attend to and a couple of surprises in store. One for Scamp, and one for me. Scamp’s came first.

The postman knocked the door and handed Scamp a parcel, a long parcel, square in shape. A parcel that could contain a really fat pencil or a straight banana if such a thing existed. But there were no bananas or pencils in the parcel. There was a plant in a pot, carefully packaged. It was a Heuchera of the variety ‘Paprika’. We had one years ago, but it died and we’d been searching for a replacement in every garden centre we’ve visited, without success. What we’d forgotten was the biggest garden centre of all, the Internet. I found Paprika the other night, bought it right away, and it arrived today. It was supposed to arrive yesterday, but because of the inefficiency of Royal Mail, it appeared today. At least it did appear. Scamp was delighted and treated it like an infant, being careful to put it out in the sunniest spot in the garden for a while. What was really strange was that I hadn’t checked where it was coming from, I suspected it was from somewhere in the south of England. In fact it came from a wholesale nursery in Kilsyth, about ten miles away!

My surprise was next. I was checking for ‘likes’ and comments on my photos posted on Flickr and discovered that the green photo from a few days ago of a spider’s nest had won ‘Explore’. That is equivalent of an Olympic Gold Medal in Flickr. Suddenly everyone want to congratulate you and your ‘likes’ soar to unrealistic numbers. On a good day I get maybe four or five ‘likes’ on Flickr. This morning I had 71! Now, just after midnight, I have 180! I was Star for a Day.

I think I may have driven in to Glasgow with a smile on my face for once. We walked down to the GOMA and along Ingram Street. Almost at the end of the street we saw the first blue lights of the motorcycle outriders for the Pride March. Five or ten minutes later we saw the first open top bus with the grandees. The old guard of the Pride March. Then it was just the people. Possibly, probably most were running on fuel of some alcoholic description, but a lot of them were just there for the fun, and so were we. I think the first person who was handing out lollypops was surprised at the welcome they got, but lollypops have become a big part of Pride. There were young folk, old folk and middle aged folk too. Folk from every walk of life just out celebrating. Covid could have put an end to Pride, but we agreed that this year, while different from other years was almost as good as the best. Long may it continue.

It was lunchtime by the time we’d seen all the characters and rainbow banners and we went to Paesano for lunch. I was driving, but Scamp had a Prosecco with her pizza (No 1 with no garlic, plus extra rocket – yes, I know there’s no cheese. Mine was a No7 Fennel sausage, tomato sugo and mozzarella).

Drove home and processed the 200 odd photos I’d taken and posted PoD which I called The Look. No, they don’t have a fag in their mouth, it’s the phone from the person behind. (For the benefit of readers from across the pond, ‘Fag’ = ‘Cigarette’, not what you think.)

Next task was to get showered, shaved and changed to go out to a ballroom dance in Brookfield (Scamp passed on the shaving!). We had a brilliant time dancing to almost all of the tracks that Stewart played. I must admit I was almost dead on my feet by the time it finished and we drove home in a strange twilight arriving home just after 11pm. You will have gathered by now that this is a catch up.

Tomorrow we may have a long lie in to recover. After that the day will be our oyster. I’m sure some of those walkers and dancers from Gay Pride Glasgow 2022 will have sore feet and heads tomorrow too.

Girls day out – 24 June 2022

Scamp was going out to lunch and drinkies today.

We sat about in the morning wondering if the sun was going to come out or it the rain was going to fall. As it happened, the sun did win for most of the day. Scamp went down to the shops to buy enough booze goodies to take to Denny. I stayed at home and splashed some more paint on a failing painting.

After a meatfeast lunch for me (corned beef and roast ham with a touch of HP sauce) we started off. Scamp wasn’t so bothered because she was expecting to be waited on hand and foot In Moira’s new summerhouse (NOT a shed!). We picked up Jeanette and headed to Denny. For once I found the correct route to Moira’s house, and only made one mistake when I was heading home!

Back home I finally gave up with that painting, turned the page and started another one. I was getting no further with that one, so I left it to be continued at a later date and took two cameras out to St Mo’s to look for inspiration. Inspiration came late. After a couple of circuits of the pond, I had very little of interest. Finally, walking home I passed a woman carrying two bags of messages. When she was far enough away, I took a few shots of her with the LensBaby on the A6000. With a bit of Lightroom jiggery pokery, she became the distant subject of the PoD.

Scamp arrived back home around 6pm after an interesting day. Dinner was a home made pizza. To my mind the rosemary focaccia I made with the leftovers was far better than the pizza, but Scamp disagreed, as was her right.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow to see the Pride march. We won’t be taking the train, though, because the trains are AFF! Another rail strike, the third this week had made sure we’ll be driving or busing in.

Coffee in Costa – 23 June 2022

We were booked to meet Isobel for coffee in Costa.

The two ladies didn’t have coffee, they each had a latte, which is coffee for those who don’t like coffee. I had a cortado which is coffee for those who like cups without handles. I still can’t get used to seeing Isobel without her glasses on. Since she’s had a cataract removed, she doesn’t seem to need glasses. It’s still strange to me. Scamp had driven to the Town Centre in her car, and she drove all three of us down to the Village with me sitting like Lord Muck in the back!

With Isobel saved a walk to the bus stop and then a walk through the Village to her house, we two drove on to the Garden Centre because Scamp wanted a pair of semi-circular metal supports for her roses, to keep the heavy flower heads from falling down. We couldn’t find any. I suggested we try B&Q. They did have what we were looking for, but they weren’t nearly strong enough looking, so we went home via Tesco of course.

After lunch I thought I’d better wash the car, because I’m taking Scamp and Jeanette for afternoon refreshments at Moira’s house, to christen her new summerhouse. I couldn’t have Jeanette sitting in a mucky car, certainly not one covered in seagull crap. That spent a good half hour and gave me a chance to listen to the end of ‘Baggage’ Alan Cumming’s excellent autobiography.

With the wee Blue car glistening in occasional glimpses of sunshine, I went over to St Mo’s with two cameras. One had the long, heavy macro lens and the other had the short, but still heavy Lensbaby 35 attached. Found today’s PoD which I think is either a trap for unwary insects or more likely a nest for mummy spider’s spiderlings when they hatch from their eggs. Either way it made a strange abstract looking object that could actually be a design for a post-modern building! Or am I dreaming?

A seat in the sun in the  garden was calling to us after a fairly successful chicken stir-fry I managed to make. No drinks were drunk this time, just tea for me and coffee for Scamp. Tomorrow may be different for at least one of us.

I watched the first episode of Slough House. Hazy, you can tell Neil that I completely agree. The typecasting of Lamb is perfect. So too was River Cartwright, exactly what I thought he would look like. Roddy Ho is the only one who wasn’t quite spot on, IMHO. Brilliant television.

Tomorrow I’m booked to Scamp and Jeanette and James will bring them back. That leaves me with a free afternoon which would be great but it looks like rain, I’m afraid!

Well, that was a long day – 22 June 2022

Today was the longest day. I used to argue with my dad about which was the longest day. You were right dad, the 22nd June

After a cup of coffee each, Scamp announced that she was going to the shops to get something for lunch, but before that she suggested Kedgeree for dinner. That suited me and I got a slab of smoked haddock out of the freezer. It was just warm enough to walk to the shops wearing shorts. I thought I’d made the wrong decision at first, but when you’re walking you don’t notice the cool breeze so much.

We walked back and made some lunch. Mine was roast ham, lettuce, baby tomatoes and sweet peppers in a wrap. Scamp had a tomato sandwich. After lunch, Scamp went out to work in the garden. I’d done some gardening yesterday, so that was my work done for the week. Instead, I took the Sony with a short macro lens and a Lensbaby for a walk in St Mo’s. Saw a sneaky spider on a grass flower waiting to ambush any unsuspecting insects and used the Lensbaby to photograph some wild Geraniums bobbing around on the breeze. The geraniums got PoD.

Back home I did a bit of painting, well it was more a case of just slapping some paint on a sketch I did last week. The paint improved the sketch, but then again, covering it in a coat of Crown gloss would have improved it too, in my opinion. I wasn’t impressed.

Tonight’s dinner was Kedgeree which is one of Scamp’s specialities. Spicy but not too hot and lots of lovely smoked haddock in it to give that salty taste to the rice. All topped off with an egg that was just runny and no more. Lovely meal.

Watched another Sewing Bee tonight, but I think it was last week’s episode. I won’t say who left tonight just in case any of my readers haven’t watched it yet. I’d intended watching the first episode of Slough House tonight on Apple TV+ after I signed up to Apple for at least a month. I’d just finished Mick Herron’s latest book, Bad Actors. In the epilogue he explains all the shenanigans that went into making the film for Apple.

Tomorrow we’re booked for coffee with Isobel and after that a visit to Calders is on the cards to find a circular metal support to carry the weight of the flowers on Scamp’s latest rose – Lady of Shalott.

Gardener, Electrician, Bin Man – 21 June 2022

A few tasks to complete today, but nothing onerous.

First thing to do was to remove the old solar powered lights from the tree and the fence. The tree lights were easy to strip out, but I was a bit concerned when I tried to remove the staples that held the fence lights in place because I found the cable had been cut. Can’t really see how anyone could reach into cut it, so for now I’m keeping an open mind on it. I tried stripping back the insulation on the wires and joining up the copper wire inside, but the lights still won’t work. Cheap and cheerful describes them perfectly.

The new, much shorter set was fairly easy to install and, once Scamp had shown me where she wanted them, they were quickly stapled in place. It’s still not dark enough just now at just after 10.30pm for the sensor to switch from collecting light from the sky to giving out light from the little LED lights.

Next on the list was lunch and after that I’d a trip to the skips to do. One bag of Small Electrical, one big bag of Household, one bag of magazines and a little bag of dead or dying batteries. All done and dusted in ten minutes, plus travelling time of course.

Drove back to see Fred who was cutting his grass with his new battery powered mower. We had a blether for a while and I gave him the latest Slow Horses book I’d finished this morning and he gave me three in return, all by authors I’d read but the book titles were new to me. I think I won in that exchange.

Went home via Tesco for ‘real’ essentials, bread and potatoes but also with a punnet of strawberries and one of raspberries too. Took the Sony and the big macro lens over to St Mo’s and got a few photos of a Common Blue damselfly. That was the only decent photo I got and it automatically became PoD.

It was warm enough to sit in the garden before and after dinner which was the leftovers from Sunday’s dinner, reheated.

We got a letter from the bank, addressed to The Manager of a group Scamp used to run. She’s tried to write, phone, email them to say the group was disbanded about fifteen years ago and even then she was no longer involved in it. Still we get the letters once or twice a year. I thought I’d try a little humour (With a bank? I hear you say!). This is the returned letter that will go in the post tomorrow.

Speaking about tomorrow. It looks like being a decent enough day with the chance of dry weather. I think we should take it while it’s on offer. Other than that, we have no plans.