Crossed Wires – 28 July 2021

We were supposed to meet Isobel for coffee today. We were there, but where was Isobel?

For once there were some empty tables when we arrived at Costa, an unusual occurrence at 11am. Usually it’s really busy with mums and screaming weans and auld yins taking up the rest of the seats. However, not only were there no screaming weans, but one auld yin (don’t tell her I said that) was missing too. Where was Isobel? After ordering and consuming our coffees Scamp decided she’d better phone the missing party to find out what was wrong. The answer was that she thought Scamp had agreed to pick her up. Scamp denied that, but agreed that we’d drive down to the Village for a coffee with her in her house.

I dropped Scamp off at the house and then parked the car. This let Scamp deal with the problem before I got there. As it happened we didn’t bother with coffee, just sat talking about the holiday, dancing and families. As usual with Isobel, we were entertained for a couple of hours.

Next on the agenda was a visit to B&Q for a piece of dowel to fix the cheapo wheels bins the council granted us with. I imagine there were the cheapest, seconds they could find. The plastic pins that form the hinge for the lid are wearing and I’ve had to replace one already. Today I was replacing the other one. A piece of 15mm diameter wooden dowel would do the job nicely. It’s now done and will be tested tomorrow when the bin is emptied.

After lunch I watched a video by Robin Wong explaining how to do some clever things with the E-M1 mk2. I’ve had the camera for about six months now and hadn’t realised you could do these things. Later I took the Oly out to see if his tricks worked, and of course they did. He’s a really clever guy and when I came home I found another video showing more clever tricks that I’ll test tomorrow, all being well.
On the subject of PoDs, July 23rd’s PoD the mono shot of the sheep at the house in Cumbria won Explore on Flickr.  Explore means it was one of the best shots of the day.  I was quite impressed, but not surprised, as it was a lovely shot, even if I say so myself!

Today’s PoD was shot in St Mo’s and is a worm’s eye view of Horsetails growing through gaps in the boardwalk. Almost as soon as they get about 5cm above the decking, they get trodden on or kicked until the break. Still they just keep growing. Horsetails can be traced back to the early Jurassic period. If they survived the dinosaurs, I’m sure they’ll not be destroyed by a few booted walkers.

We had been warned that there would be thunder and lightning during the night with heavy rain in the early hours.  There were a few peals of thunder, but very distant.  However, the rain did make an appearance and was welcomed by plants in the garden, but more will be needed before they will be happy.  How strange it is to wish for rain!

 

Tomorrow I’m booked to meet Val for coffee. I’m hoping he knows I’m not coming to pick him up!

Put on your dancing shoes – 24 July 2021

First time dancing in among people for a long, long time.

Another day to get up fairly early, have breakfast and get things organised for our first face to face dance class since March 2020. We left the house at about 10.15 to drive the 30 miles to the village hall in Johnstone, near Paisley. It took all of the 45 minutes we’d allowed for the journey. Google said 34 minutes, but Mr Google wasn’t driving today, I was.

There were people inside the hall, lots of people, around 14 people and we only knew two of them, the teachers, Stewart and Jane. Oh dear, I thought. Am I going to make a fool of myself here by not knowing any of the routines. Not to worry though, I had my magic Dancing Shoes and when I lace them up and tie them it all comes flooding back. The panic, that is. That’s what comes flooding back. Aha, but we knew the first dance, it was an easy one, a Rumba One. That built my confidence. The next one was the Foxtrot and we’d practised it hard and for a long time. We’re not exactly perfect at it, but we can make it look like we are. For those who saw us dance it on Thursday and are shaking their heads, we can do it. And we did. One or two little technical points were missed, but the majority of the dance was there and we were keeping fairly well to the music too. That’s the difference with Stewart & Jane as teachers. If they see you have the basic form of the dance and are keeping up with the rest of the class, they forgive some of the errors, knowing they can go back to them later and fix them. Others are perfectionist and we’ve suffered under them before.

The third dance was a Cha-Cha and we’d covered it well on Zoom, so it was fairly easy for us. The class ended with a sort of Jive routine we’ve done loads of times and we mastered it on the second music track. All in all it was great. We’ve signed up for a ten week course that will take us into October! Strangely, I’m looking forward to the challenges we’ll face.

Drove back home and Scamp went out to buy Tesco. I stayed home and did some creative writing, converting a week’s worth of bullet points into a week’s worth of blog. When Scamp returned and she’d done two loads of washing, I went off to find a photo in St Mo’s. Returned with a few hopefuls, but today’s PoD was the hoverfly on ‘final’ to land on a cow parsley flower head.

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the garden soaking up what might just be the last of this hot weather.

Did you know that 50 years ago on this date (also a Saturday) we got engaged!

Tomorrow we may go out somewhere after we’ve given a man some snot and some saliva!

Driving home – 23 July 2021

It always comes to this day.

We had packed last night. Really all that had to be done was to load the car and tidy up the house. That work took about an hour and a half with all four of us doing our bit. Then the hugs and goodbyes with the promise that we’d do it again soon. I hope we do.

Drove in convoy with Hazy and Neil D until they branched off to go past Broughton in Furness and we headed for the northbound M6. A fair few holdups on the road, but once we were on the motorway it was plain sailing. Stopped at Gretna to stretch our legs and window shop, although I did buy a new kitchen knife. Then it was back on the road and home.

All the plants needed a drink, it looked like they had not had any real rain either

I’d taken some shots of the mist covered Duddon Valley with sheep coming across the field for their morning drink. That was easily the PoD.

Tomorrow we may go dancing … in a hall … with a wooden floor … wearing dance shoes … and … WITH OTHER PEOPLE IN THE ROOM!!!

Stones – 22 July 2021

We were travelling into history today, our history.

Years ago we often drove down to the lakes for a long weekend when school permitted. Sometimes to Ambleside and sometimes Grasmere. Once when we were there we noticed an appeal for money to repair an old church in Grasmere that needed a new roof. If you paid a sum of money, can’t remember how much, you could have a paving stone engraved with your name laid on a path in a new garden near the church. We made the donation and got our stone laid, but when we went to see it, the path was only part completed. It seemed a shame to come all this way this year and not search for our stone in the garden in Grasmere. That’s where we headed today.

We knew it would be a long journey, but we hadn’t realised just how steep some of those climbs and descents would be. One descent in particular was 25%! We were just starting it when a girl on a road bike was cresting the rise, hardly out of breath. I admired her stamina getting up there. It wasn’t the most fun drive I’ve ever had and I’m sure Scamp wasn’t all that happy either, but we got there.

Grasmere was a lot busier than I remember it. Every car park seemed crammed full. However there was a notice on the exit of one that pointed to a new car park. We found it and it was nearly empty, I presume because it was on the far edge of the village. Didn’t matter, we were parked. There was a long queue to pay for a ticket, because everyone uses plastic these days and this machine didn’t seem to like that. It was rejecting cards right left and centre. I offered to try my luck with cash and four quid lighter I had my parking ticket for three hours. So, there was nothing wrong with the machine, it just didn’t like plastic!

We walked along a path beside the river and saw one of Mr Grey’s distant relatives fishing in one of the pools. The path came out just at the church and beside the church was the new garden, the Daffodil Garden, and the paving stones. The search was on.

Scamp was off like a shot and of course it was her who found the stone. Just as we remembered it. The entire path was finished now, all 3,000 of them. That’s a lot of money raised. After we’d photographed each other standing next to the stone, we left the garden to the others who were reading the names. The repairs to the church are still ongoing, but a lot has been done with the money.

We had lunch in a wee tearoom we used to sit in. Looked much the same as it did all those years ago. The couple who owned and ran it then have only recently sold it.

Scamp remembered another road home that didn’t involve climbing that 25% hill. I think it might have given the wee blue car a heart attack climbing it.

Back at the house it was an early dinner to allow JIC and Sim to get on the road. This was Neil D’s turn as chef again and it was Fried Gnocchi with Mushrooms and Beans. There was yet another group photo and a few tears when JIC and Sim took their leave.

I went for a last walk along the road and got a few landscape photos in the beautiful evening light. I think they are some of my favourite photos of the week. Back at the house I tried again for some shots of the moon, but none of them worked very well. One of the landscapes became PoD.

Tomorrow is the day we all dread. Packing up and going home.

Rosemary from the garden – 21 July 2021

Scamp wanted milk Sim wanted tonic JIC wanted rosemary, fresh preferably.

We drove down to Millom by the ‘high road’ which the sat nav doesn’t understand. Too small a road and with no road number. Once there we went to Tesco. Got the milk and some other stuff but no elderflower tonic to be found and no fresh rosemary.

Drove down to Broughton and parked down near the livestock market, then found the wee deli where we’d got the cherries earlier in the week. Woman said there might be rosemary in the chiller cabinet in the back of the shop. The guy who was serving went to look said if there wasn’t any there, he’s cut us a couple of sprigs from the garden. That’s good service. Scamp bought two bottles of wine and one of gin.

Came out and decided it was far too warm to walk anywhere, even through the avenue of trees to the pools we’d found a couple of days ago. Just came home by the new road and stopped at the bridge just before the zig zag through the farm. I realise that means nothing to everyone except those who have driven that narrow road. Got a few photos there of a couple wee cottages that stand by the side of a river, half covered by a stand of trees. One of those photos. Back in the car I though “Isn’t air-con a wonderful thing”!

Spent the rest of the day lounging around. Jamie made Fish with Carrot Chips and I made Cheesy Tear & Share bread. JIC and Sim are leaving tomorrow night. They have business to attend to at home and also it will be cooler driving in the evening.

I took some moody shots of the moon which was looking good tonight, but the midges were busy again so I didn’t linger.

May go looking for stones tomorrow.

All Aboard the Skylark – 20 July 2021

We were going on a cruise.

Neil drove Hazy and us to Lakeside where we got a boat with about 300 other people for a sail down to Bowness. Originally we’d intended going down to Ambleside, but because the pier is about an hour’s walk from the town, we took the shorter option.

The place was mobbed. Lots of Scottish voices doing their Staycation. We were going to look for Lakeland, but eventually we gave up because it was too far away. About 15 miles too far away.

All the cafés were really busy, but we did manage to grab a table in a Cornish restaurant with easy access for Hazy and very good food. Just toasties, quiche and pasties but all made on the premises.

After lunch we split up Hazy went to Costa for a coffee and Neil went shopping. We wandered round the busy streets and found a Herdy shop where Scamp got a new bone china cup because she hates the thick walled cups in the house. She also bought an umbrella to ward off any rain. Not that it looked like rain would appear from the clear blue sky, but more as a preventative measure. Just as we were leaving the shop, Neil appeared on an errand from Hazy. We agreed to reconvene in Costa. While Scamp was having a latte, I had a Café Freddo (iced cappuccino). It was a delight on such a hot day. Made me think of holidays in far flung foreign climes under a similar blue sky.

After ice creams for all of us, apart from Neil who dropped his ice and was left with the cone(!), we joined the big long snaking queue for the boat back to Lakeside. Halfway down the lake, three Eurofighter Typhoons flew very low overhead as a sendoff. We were impressed by that.  Today’s PoD was the line of rowing boats on the shore of Lake Windermere at Bowness.

I went for a walk later when it was cooler and got some more moody landscapes and also some flower photos.

Scamp was cooking her signature Spicy Chicken tonight and it was a great success, as usual. Made from an old Gary Rhodes recipe. It should have been served with couscous, but she served it with new potatoes and even those who don’t eat potatoes cleared their plates. It was good to be sitting round the table eating and talking together. We should do this more often.

Tomorrow we may stay closer to home because it’s going to be very hot.

Cars on the rooftop – 19 July 2021

Today we went to Broughton in Furness to see what was there.

We parked in the village square and walked down the Main Street. There wasn’t a lot to see, it looked like a sleepy little market town. One busy pub on a corner, as most pubs seem to be, especially old ones. It was earmarked for a visit later.

We walked further down the hill away from the retail centre and found a petrol station/garage with an interesting display of what looked like old pedal cars on its roof. Further still down the hill there was a sign pointing down an avenue of trees to a woodland walk and ponds. We agreed that we should investigate.

The path ran straight for as far as we could see with the back gardens of houses on both sides for the first 100m or so. The ones on the right were well manicured, while some of the ones on the left were a bit overgrown, but looked as if they had been well maintained in the past with vegetable plots laid out neatly below the weeds. Others, of course were pristine. Best of all, near the path was a community garden with a sign saying that everything was free to a good home. I suppose that’s what you expect in a small rural community.

We walked for a mile or so along the path and found the ponds, two of them. The first one was almost dried up with little sign of life, but further on was the second pond. This one had a bit more shelter from the sun and near the edge I could see what I think were dace feeding in the shallows. Also a few ducks, mallards, soaking up the rays on the pebbly shore.

The woodland walk and the ponds were part of Broughton Tower estate and private property, but with access allowed to the public. There was a large area of grassland with paths leading up to the Big House which we glimpsed through the trees, but didn’t investigate because we were walking back along the path and out into Broughton again.

We found a street running parallel to the Main Street with a neat little deli at the end where Scamp bought some lovely fat cherries and I got a pack of dates which I intend to eat this time, instead of keeping them in the fridge!

By this time it was definitely Beer o’ Clock, so we took a seat at the pub we’d noticed earlier and Scamp had a half pint of lager and I had a half pint of very dry stout. I wish I’d remembered the name of the stout, because it was just excellent. If we ever go back to this area again I’ll search it out.

Took a wrong turning heading out of the town and ended up on narrower and narrower roads, then the sat nav pulled us out of trouble again and got us on the right road. Halfway along the narrow wee road to the house we came on a traffic jam. A car and a van were blocking the road trying to do the “two into one won’t go” trick and neither were willing to give ground. Eventually the car driver who was at the front of our line of vehicles, reversed, down the wrong side of the road, ending up in a ditch. That allowed the van to wriggle through the gap and the rest of our line of cars and vans to pass. I don’t know when or how the car driver got out of the ditch, but nobody was stopping to help him/her.

Later in the day I went for a walk along our narrow road and got a few photos of flowers and landscapes in the low afternoon sun. The harebells got PoD.

JIC was chef tonight Turkey Parmagiano which was delicious and will be added to our own list of things to try. It was their standard Monday dinner, just as our Monday dinner is Pasta with either a Tomato or Carbonara sauce.

I attempted a Milky Way photoshoot when the sky looked dark enough, but it wasn’t a great success. I think Photopills may be right when it seemed to indicate that the Milky Way wasn’t visible from our global position at this time. Anyway, the midges were definitely visible and biting!

Tomorrow we may go sailing!

 

Another hot day – 18 July 2021

It was cloudy in the morning, but it cleared up quickly. It’s 10pm now and it’s still warm.

Because there was a bit of a breeze, I set up a tripod and tried a few slow shutter shots, but the Gorillapod was too low and the Benbo wasn’t quite stable enough, so they turned out a bit shaken but not stirred. This slow shutter thing needs more practise. Made up for my disappointment by taking even more landscapes.

Scamp started to make a Swiss roll in the afternoon. She called it a “Live Bake” after the disaster of Friday. Her technique seemed to impress the assembled audience with her rolling up the baked ‘cake’ in the silicone baking paper

After lunch we sat around the house and found cool places to be. Sim went for a run. In the heat! Down the hill then up through the fields to an old ruined house then back along a single track road to the house. She declared it a good run. We took her word for it.

Later in the afternoon Scamp and I walked for half an hour along the single track road with few passing places. Fairly easy going. Harder climbing the hills coming back

JIC went for his run on the same short route we took. He was much quicker than sim.

Neil D was on dinner duty.Turkey pilau. Rice maybe a little bit stodgy he thought – we didn’t. We thought it was lovely. Just blame it on that oven, Neil.

Scamp finished the Swiss roll and coated it in ganache. I helped with the decorative white chocolate dribbles after Scamp managed to burn her fingers lifting the cup containing the melted white chocolate out of the microwave.

PoD was a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly that Scamp and I saw on our afternoon walk.

Sprite, Gin and Rum all round tonight and an early bed again.

Going down south – 17 July 2021

Driving down to our first family meet-up for a year and a half.

We had a funeral to attend in the morning for a friend of the family. After the service we drove home, changed and started the process of loading the car. Surprisingly we managed to squeeze all those bags into the boot and the back seat.

Drove down the M74, A74, M6 then the small roads under a blazing hot sun. After that, the smaller roads. Finally the tiny roads, nearly all single track. We’ve driven on single track roads before, we’ve been to Skye and know the way they work. It’s all to do with keeping a one eye on the road in front of you and another on the road a hundred meters ahead. We managed the twists and turns and the steep climbs with the similarly steep descents. I was amazed when the sat nav took us to the door!

Sent a message to the other family members who were driving up from the south. Hazy & Neil D were the next to arrive. By then we’d investigated the house and found out where everything was. So after showing them round and asking after Neil’s family the next pair arrived.

JIC & Sim were about an hour behind H&N ah, but now there were four of us to show them and Vixen round the house. Rooms were allocated and agreed and we sat down to talk as families do that haven’t seen each other face to face for too long a time. We also took some an opportunity to take in the stunning scenery of Cumbria, especially the hills on the other side of the Duddon Valley, oh yes, and the silence!

We had previously agreed that all six of us would take turns at cooking. Tonight I was cooking Chicken and Pea Traybake. It’s simple and easy to do and it does taste good. However, I’m used to cooking on a gas cooker and here I was faced with an electric one. Also our oven has gas marks engraved on the dials. This one had nothing. Luckily someone had made a sketch of where the cardinal temperature settings were and what the four clicks on the settings dial controlled, oven, grill, fan grill and cool. I’ve never heard of an oven with a ‘cool’ setting before. Maybe it’s an English setting. The meal was made, on time and it was ok, just ok. Everyone was very polite and nobody said it was awful, but it wasn’t the best thing I’ve ever made. We didn’t starve.

I think everyone was too tired and too hot to do much later and bed was calling us, so we headed to our room.

PoD was the view from the house across the Duddon Valley to the hills beyond.

Tomorrow we may go adventuring.

 

A busy day – 16 July 2021

Lots to do for both of us.

Best to talk about the afternoon, because there was a lot of sitting around in the morning. Those who need to know will discover why.

Scamp went out after lunch to buy some more supplies and I was told to go out for a walk and talk to the bees! I don’t usually have long conversations with bees, they’re usually too busy. What I did find was a Plume Moth. This is only the second one I’ve seen and the first live one. It’s a strange insect with impossibly narrow wings. Actually it rolls the wings up when it has landed and when they are unfurled for flight they look like little feathers, hence the name, I presume. While I was engrossed in photographing it striding around a cow parsley head, in flew a Soldier Beetle to see what was going on. The plume moth seemed quite dismissive of it.

On my rounds of St Mo’s I also saw a Common Blue damselfly which when I looked closely on the computer, seemed to be laughing! Either that or it was trying to get some cooling air because it was very hot today, well past the mid 20s by all accounts.

We watched the first of the new qualifying rounds of F1. It’s a confusing system where the first set of qualifying on a Friday gives grid places for a sprint race on Saturday and results from that will determine the grid slots for the actual F1 GP on Sunday. Confused? We were! Today’s qualifying was much like a normal Saturday race. Tomorrow is the interesting one with a 25-30 minute Sprint race run over 100km.

Tomorrow we are attending a funeral mass for Margie’s husband in the morning. We may go for a drive in the afternoon.