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.

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.

Looking for Gorillas – 15 July 2021

Out looking for a new Gorillapod.

I think it was JIC who bought me my first Gorillapod many years ago. It’s been well used, but after years of twisting the joints have become loose. Also with my cameras getting heavier and heavier, it’s just not strong enough to hold the big guns. With the prospect of using the 10 stop I was looking for a light, stable support and the Gorillapod fitted the bill perfectly. A Gorillapod is a short, light plastic tripod, only about 30cm high.The one I got today in Currys was capable of holding 3kg. I haven’t tested it yet, but might get round to it tomorrow.

While we were at Coatbridge, Scamp took the opportunity to stock up at M&S. After lunch she decided she needed she needed even more stuff, so she took herself off to The Shops to buy more bargains while I stayed at home and solved today’s Sudoku. It’s a hard life sometimes.

When she came back it was my turn to go out for a walk. I took the Sony round St Mo’s and found I’d forgotten my mask, shopping bag and earbuds. I came back with some photos in the Sony. Grabbed my mask, shopping bag and earbuds and went for a longer walk down the back of St Mo’s to see how construction is progressing. Apparently they are converting two blaes football pitches into a multi-sport games area with a grass football pitch, running track and basketball court. Well, they better get a move on, because there’s not a lot been done so far. I suppose they could argue that it’s holiday time and if they are really stuck they could always play the Covid card. “Oh, it’s because of Covid!”

Found a few interesting shapes and items lying around when I was out and got some photos from them. I walked on to the shops and, like Scamp, bought some stuff, mainly ice cream. Well, it’s what Scamp asked for and it was Thursday! Managed to get back up to the house before it melted. With temperatures rumoured to be hovering around 25º, that was quite a feat.

Sat in the back garden with a beer while Scamp had her usual Pimms. Our neighbour was playing his selection of ‘music’ through a speaker that seemed to be made from an old tin can. Scamp manages to tune things like that out and I was listening to Bobby March Will Live Forever by Alan Parks being read by a Glaswegian voice, so he was left to enjoy the sounds coming from the tin can.

PoD was a backlit leaf left over from autumn. A variety of similar, but varied shot are available to view on Flickr if you so wish.

Tomorrow looks to be similar to today, but perhaps a bit cooler. Thank goodness say some.

Chicken Burger and Cheese Burger – 14 July 2021

Chicken Burger (No barbecue sauce). Cheese Burger (No mayo). Foodies are fastidious.

Today we drove to The Fort to spend one of our M&S vouchers on ourselves. Sometimes it’s nice to spend money you don’t really feel you’ve earned on something. Today it was mainly alcohol. For some reason you can’t spend Tesco vouchers on alcohol, petrol or tobacco products. I fail to see the common factor there, but I presume Tesco see the hidden logic.

After our splurge, we went for a walk around this emporium of retail therapy. I went to Waterstones and found a few interesting books I might try on Audible or Kindle. Probably Audible because I’ve just finished my last book and my next credit has just appeared, also because I’ve got an interesting ‘Real’ book that I can read and it’s got illustrations which obviously you don’t get with Audible. Scamp knew she’d find me browsing in Waterstones, so after she dragged me away from the books we went for lunch.

We walked over to Ben & Jerry’s. Not really B&J, but that’s what we always call it. It’s really Frankie & Benny’s. It used to be our go-to place for breakfast when we were flying off to go on a cruise or to have a late deal week in the sun. In the days before quarantine, face masks and Covid. Now it’s just a fairly cheap place for lunch. The burgers are usually good and the chips are such a temptation! Today’s choice, as you can see from the title was Chicken Burger for Scamp and Cheese Burger for me with the usual alterations. Both were delicious, but the overpriced lemonade was stale tasting. Nothing is perfect.
Stopped off at The Shops on the way home to get pineapple in M&S plus a bottle of gin and four pineapple cakes in Aldi.

I took the Dewdrop out for its second run this year and went to my usual quiet place alongside the railway. Today’s PoD came from there. Originally there were the overhead wires cutting right across the sky in the photo, but about an hour’s work put paid to them and left a much better picture. While I was walking around looking for more photos I felt wee nip on my front and brushed away what I think must have been a cleg. It had bit me right through my tee shirt. I couldn’t see a hole, so it must have been using a syringe to draw off some blood. Another nip on my shoulder a few minutes later meant that it was time to get back on the bike before my tee shirt was ruined. Luckily I had some Piriton tablets and an old tube of Anthisan cream in my saddle bag. They got to work immediately and got the swelling down. No mark to be seen now.
Took another few shots on the way home, but the Beech trees were the clear winner of PoD.

It was a lot cooler but the time I got home and the sky had clouded over quite a lot. It’s supposed to reach 27º tomorrow. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Shopping and Waterfalls – 13 July 2021

Basically in that order.

We spoke to Hazy in the morning and found out how things were progressing now that Neil-D is on his last week of teaching before his summer holidays start. Plans were discussed and decisions made. I missed the start of the call because I was playing “Dress the Dolly” to see if my suit would still fit me for the service on Saturday morning. It did.

We went shopping later in the morning and Scamp drove us to Tesco. Lots of stuff on the list to buy. Not all of it was for us, because Scamp was using up one of our Covid test vouchers and we’d already agreed that half of the value should be ploughed back into the community by way of the food bank. We both chose things to put in the bank and then we added the things we needed, finally completing the shop with things we would like. That’s how I saw the shop progressing.

Back home and after lunch Scamp was gardening and I was going out to test my 10 Stop ND filter on the waterfall of the Luggie Water. Basically the filter cuts out lots of light from reaching the sensor of the camera, allowing me to use a much slower shutter speed than normal. You’ve probably seen those moody photos of misty looking sea or clouds apparently streaking across the sky. It’s done with a dark filter. The ND part just stands for Neutral Density, in other words, it doesn’t add any colour to the shot.

The waterfall is really quite impressive for such a small river. I usually try to photograph it from below, but this time I though I’d try a view looking across the top, or down from the top. It wasn’t the best decision because the water rounded rocks at the top of the falls were slimy and slippery. I had to grab some low growing branches to keep me from falling in. Unfortunately there were nettles growing over them and I got a few nasty stings from them. They say that if you grasp a nettle quickly and hard you don’t get stung. That’s not true!

I got the shot I wanted and you can see the result above. I was quite pleased with it, but I wish now I’d taken the shot from below. I suppose I could go back and do it again some time. I maybe need to wait until there’s been some rain and the falls are flowing faster.

I walked down to the old railway bridge and tried a shot from there. To get there I had to wade through some gigantic plants about 2m high with leaves that look for all the world like rhubarb. I’m not sure if its Butterbur or Chilean Rhubarb (Gunnera tinctoria) which is an invasive plant from South America. Anyway, the shot didn’t work very well. More work needed on the ND filter.

Tomorrow we’re planning on going to The Fort and maybe having lunch there.

Today we went to Glasgow – 12 July 2021

Off to the Toon

We drove in to Buchanan Galleries this morning and got parked on level 3. Until Covid-19 made home working the norm and commuting a thing of the past, parking anywhere below level 5 would have been impossible. Today it’s become just a normal occurrence.

We walked up a busy Sausage Roll Street (real name Sauchiehall Street). I went left to get my hair cut and Scamp continued on to look for a dress shop. While I was waiting for the sole barber to finish the bloke in the chair, I noticed Scamp outside. I wondered what could be wrong, but it turned out that the shop no longer existed. Like so many it had become a victim of the same change in ways of working that allowed parking on level three of the car park. It is down to insufficient footfall. The barber, when he was cutting my hair said the same thing. He finished cutting my hair around 12.30 and I had been the second customer that day.

I met Scamp and we went for a walk through the town. Nobody in the Central Belt talks about the City of Glasgow. Glasgow is The Town or The Toon if you’re my age. Edinburgh is A City, Glasgow is The Town.

I wanted to have a look in a charity shop that used to specialise in cameras and lenses, but I think they are just starting to get back on their feet after the stramash of the last year and a half. They didn’t seem to have anything to interest me. We walked down to Argyle Street and for coffee and a bite to eat in Cafe Nero. Then it was on to Queen Street where Scamp wanted to visit Next and I didn’t. I did wander into and out of Cass Art. Nothing much to interest me there. However I noticed a shoe style that Scamp likes in Shuropody next door. Managed to catch her as she was walking past and she got a new pair of shoes that she wears about the house like slippers! We went home.

The day had improved greatly since we left the house and when we returned, Scamp set to, to rake up the leaves from next door’s tree. It might be in Angela’s garden, but it will always be referred to as Betty’s tree, Betty being the previous tenant. I got my, now manky, shorts on (retrieved from the washing basket!) and took my Sony with the Sigma lens for a walk in St Mo’s. I took lots of photos, but really wasn’t all that impressed with the results. The PoD went to a picture of another battered and bruised butterfly. This one was a Ringlet. Second favourite was this one, taken outside the GOMA on Queen Street.

Dinner tonight was Pasta with Pesto. Too much garlic in the pesto and maybe a mixture of leaves is better than just basil. I’ll try to remember that next time.

We watched the first University Challenge of the new series and saw Glasgow Uni soundly beaten by some London mob. Really, they both were thick! I think I answered almost as many questions as either team. I don’t think the London mob will go far.

Not a bad day. Scamp came home from The Town with a new dress and a new pair of shoes. I came home with a new haircut. Number 3 on the side and back, Number 4 on top. Apparently that’s called Two Guards!

Tomorrow we’re probably going shopping … or so I’m told.

Another warm one – 11 July 2021

The temperature has hovering around 20º at breakfast time, and the only way was up from there.

It was the usual lazy Sunday morning waiting for the sun to show its face and for the clouds to break. The window cleaner came and I had quite a long talk with him. He’s a former pupil and has been through the mill a lot with changing jobs, but it looks as if he’s going back to being a firefighter again after venturing into corporate firefighting. Poor bloke. Scamp went out to the shops and I washed the inside of the windows. It must have been my FP’s intervention that made me think of that.

After lunch and after watching Andrew Marr try to take apart the Vaccines Minister, Nadhim Zahawi. He did his best, but attempting to get a politician to answer “Yes” or “No” to any question is always a bit ask. Anyway, after that and after Scamp had scalped the roses, I went out for a walk in St Mo’s to see if there were any insects I hadn’t photographed yet. I did find on little moth, a Latticed Heath Moth. It’s a tiny little thing and one I’ve often seen as I wander round the rough ground behind the school, but this was the first time I’ve managed to get a photo of one.

In the Zoom dance class tonight the new routine was the 2020 Quarantine Quickstep and boy, it was quick. We’ve done quickstep before, but always with dance shoes on a wooden floor. Tonight it was heavy, well worn shoes for me and for both of us a carpeted floor. Not ideal, but we did make a fair fist of tonight’s first section. Part two to look forward to.

Spoke to JIC and heard about preparations down south and good to hear that everything is going well there.

What a shame, england lost out in the final of the Euros.

Tomorrow I need to get my hair cut.

Walking in the woods – 10 July 2021

We had a lazy start, but we were both eager to get out and about.

Neither of us was all that inclined to go anywhere today. It was one of those Scottish days with the milky white sky again. However, we did need something for tonight’s dinner and a walk to stretch our legs wouldn’t go amiss. So, with that in mind, off we trotted for a walk around Broadwood Loch.

Surprisingly, there weren’t a lot of folk out walking. It was almost as if we had the place to ourselves. I think we only passed three people walking through the wooded part of the walk. There were a few more on the usual circuit of the loch itself. In the woods there might not have been many folk, but there were lots of froglets or maybe toadlets, I can’t tell the difference. Luckily we managed to avoid stepping on any. Unluckily for me I didn’t get any photos of them because my camera was set to ISO 50 from last night’s testing sessions after sensor cleaning. With that sorted, we were back in normal business.

I don’t really like pylons. They are a blot on the landscape and the central belt of Scotland seems to be full of them. However, viewed as a subject in themselves and with a bit of help from Lightroom they become quite interesting structures. One is available for viewing in Flickr. We walked around the exercise machines path, following in the footsteps of a dad and two boys on bikes. One of the boys was berated by Scamp for leaving his bike on the path. The dad agreed with her and said he was trying to teach them good bike behaviour as well as how to cycle safely. “Good luck with that.” I told him as we passed on by.

We got tonight’s dinner in M&S. Stir fry. I chose half the ingredients, Scamp chose the other half.

Back home I had a look at the photos and knew they needed something better to put on Flickr, so I changed cameras to the Oly and went off hunting beasties in St Mo’s. I’d forgotten how useful a motor wind feature is on a neat little camera like the Oly. Great for the scattergun approach to macros. Get the subject framed and almost in focus and batter off ten frames or so. Move on and do the same again. I’d taken 10 shots on our 90min walk round Broadwood. I took 140 in less than an hour round St Mo’s and with almost the same success rate.

The PoD turned out to be the pylons but a furry hoverfly came a close second, as did The Caped Crusader. See Flickr to understand that title.

I overcooked the chicken in the stir fry, but we both agreed it was edible.

No rain appeared today although there was a very threatening sky for a while. Tomorrow we may get water from the sky.