Gardening – 8 May 2022

Scamp wanted to get the grass cut before the rains came. I wanted to plant some seeds.

Before that, Scamp started off de-icing the freezer. It’s a thankless task, so we split the job between us. Scamp started with a scraper tool and bowls of hot water to start the thaw and I took over with an assortment of kitchen tools plus knives and scrapers from my art supplies. Between us we got the job done fairly quickly.

Lunch was next and after that we started on the gardening. After a lot of huffing and puffing, we did manage to get both of these tasks completed, although I must admit that Scamp’s was by far the more energy sapping of the two. She cut the front grass, strimmed the edges and used her mighty blower to get rid of the loose cuttings. I attempted to dig into the skim of soil that covers a pile of rubble at the end of the garden and planted a row of Ammi majus, the cow parsley look-alike next to the old buddleia just to see if it would grow in such poor soil. Then I planted some Ambassador peas in a tray in the greenhouse and also a line of four of the same peas in the raised bed.

As I was working round the raised bed I saw a little daisy flower sitting in the shade with its flower head in the sun. That seemed like a good subject for the new Lensbaby Sweet 35 optic. It turned out so good, it made PoD.

While Scamp rested her back, I walked mine over to St Mo’s and got a few more with the Sweet 35. It seems a bit more extreme than the Sweet 50. The distortion is much more pronounced, which was the reason I bought it in the first place.

I was having the Lamb Flank Parcel I’d bought yesterday, for my dinner and Scamp was having a chicken pastie. Both with potatoes and carrots. Her’s seemed fine, but my lamb was fatty and probably undercooked. An hour and a half roasting in the oven at Gas 5 is nowhere nearly enough. Just a note to self for when I get round to cooking the other one that’s now in the much cleaner freezer. The other note to self is not to buy Salt & Chilli Wings from Tesco. Took far longer than the stated time and didn’t look anything like wings. Not a good impulse buy. Scamp had made a fruit salad for dessert with apples, oranges and pineapple, plus a tablespoon of Cointreau. Again, not nearly enough Cointreau, but a refreshing end to the meal.

Spoke to Jamie for a while over a very dodgy WiFi connection. Good to see them getting a bit of ‘me time’, or is that ‘us time’? Doing a bit of walking in the Lake District. Heard about plans for the future.

That was about it, except about fifteen minutes ago a tiny little tick appeared on my wrist, just crawling out from under my watch strap. It was quickly despatched before it could get stuck into my heavily medicated blood. First one I’ve seen for ages. On the subject of ‘first one I’ve seen for ages’, yesterday I saw my first swallow this year. They do say that one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but I saw three. Does that make a summer then?

Maybe going looking for a pair of good sturdy brogues tomorrow as an alternative to kilt shoes. Dark brown for preference, although my fashion guru says that won’t go with the rest of the outfit.

Out on the town – 6 May 2022

Meeting my brother for a walk around Glasgow.

This time we were heading for Glasgow Cathedral to see what difference there was between it and Paisley Abbey. Both of them are really big, grand buildings. I’d imagine that the cathedral is bigger than the abbey and I thought it would be grander, but the stonework was quite dark by comparison with Paisley. Balancing that was the total amount of rooms and the different areas, including the basement rooms. Of the two, I preferred the Paisley Abbey. However, a shot of the Cathedral made PoD.

We tried to find somewhere near the cathedral to get a cup of coffee, but the clumsily named St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art was closed as was a cafe on the other side of the nearby Glasgow Royal Infirmary, so we walked back to Glasgow City, in the rain.

We finally settled on a roll each and a bottle of juice from Greggs and ate our lunch in George Square, surrounded by pigeons keen to remove any crumbs. They also scoffed bits of chicken that Alex dropped. I tried to explain to them that was cannibalism, but my protestations fell on deaf pigeon ears. I must admit it was good to sit and eat our lunch in the open air and in the sunshine, even with the pigeons.

We took a walk down Queen Street to get some photos at the GOMA. Then we walked down to Cafe Nero in St Enoch’s and finally had that coffee. I had a flapjack, but I think my brother maybe later regretted his Raspberry and White Chocolate Chouxnut. I do hope you were ready for your dinner Alex.

We walked around St Enoch’s taking a few shots in the late afternoon light before heading for the bus station and home. A good day. It was the first test for the ‘new toy’, the Tenba camera bag. It performed well with a fairly full set of camera gear. Heavy, but not uncomfortably so. Still to test the new Lensbaby Sweet 35 optic. Maybe tomorrow. Also I got a shot of Alex’s new 85mm f1.8 lens. It may go on the shopping list.

Tomorrow we’ll probably be doing a bit of dancing in Bridge of Weir, but the rest of the day is our own.

A busy day – 5 May 2022

Things getting delivered, things to be collected, people to see and hair to be cut, but not in that order.

A message in the morning to say that my camera bag was at WEX in Glasgow and ready to collect. That’s exactly when it should have been ready. One of the good things about dealing with WEX is that you can have your items delivered from Norwich to their Glasgow shop in a couple of days, free and usually on time. I had a little Lensbaby lens on order too, but it was to come to the house by the despicable Parcel Force. Due to be delivered tomorrow, but realistically by Monday. That’s why I was surprised when I checked their delivery page to find it too was to arrive today. Unfortunately it was to arrive between 2.30 and 3.30 when I should have been visiting Margie with Scamp. The last thing on today’s list was a haircut ready for a couple of weddings that are in the offing. Would I manage to fit them all into my day? Read on and find out!

Drove in to Glasgow in the morning, before I’d even had my coffee. Parked at Buchanan Galleries, right in the middle of town and walked to the barbers and was out of there half an hour later. Fifteen minutes for the bloke in front of me and fifteen minutes for me. Only one barber in today. Much tidier cut than I can manage, even with some help from Scamp. Walked up Bath Street to find the new WEX shop. I started at about number 10 and the shop was at number 240! So it was going to take a bit of time. Finally climbed the hill and down the other side was the WEX sign on a shiny new shopfront. Picked up the bag and told the blokes behind the till the story of the last bag with its extra item for the ‘Babe’. It gave them a laugh and they immediately guessed the unnamed retailer was Amazon.

Walked back up the hill and down the other side, stopping to take a shot looking down Bucky Street from the Concert Hall to St Enoch’s at the bottom. PoD was in the bag.

Drove out of the car park listening to Alan Cumming reading Baggage. I pressed the phone button on the steering wheel to tell Scamp I was on the way home. Selected Scamp from the list and the screen went blank. Remember I was still driving. Tried to play Alan again, but nothing happened, although the screen had returned to normal. Tried the phone again. This time it rang before the same thing happened again. Gave up and listened to Jazz FM.

I got in just in time to say “Hello” and “Cheerio” as Scamp left to visit Margie. About an hour later, a knock at the door signalled the delivery of my LensBaby lens. Unpacked it from its battered box and made sure it was the right one, then left to visit Margie.

Margie was on good form. Telling us about the problems of riding a Stannah Stairlift and getting it to stop in the correct place.  We discussed sketching and painting and “fishtails”.  Margie danced a lot when she was younger and understood lots of the techniques she and Scamp were discussing.

Soon it was time for us to go, but there were lots of stories to listen to.  Best one was about the family searching for an electrician who she was sure was called Shakespeare, only to find he was called Macbeth.  Close, but no cigar.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening trying to get an old Huawei phone to work.  In the end I gave up and might have to consider replacing my ailing Samsung.

A quick waltz and quickstep practise tonight brought some of it back, but not a lot.

Tomorrow, Alex and I are hoping to go and visit Glasgow Cathedral.

Stuff – 3 May 2022

Stuff was due to arrive today.

A parcel from Amazon was due and another from the Bean Shop in Perth.

Unusually for both, the parcel from Amazon was arriving just after midday and the Bean Shop parcel wasn’t coming until around 7pm. Usually they are the other way round! Oh well, we’d be out dancing or is that teaching dancing when the coffee from Perth was due and as it was coming DPD, I could arrange for it to be left in the bin shed, or “The cupboard beside the front door” as it was phrased on the instructions to DPD.

The parcel from Amazon arrived right on time. It contained a ‘new’ camera bag in the shape of a rucksack. A very versatile one according to all the reviews. It was disappointing then to find that, although the cardboard box was intact, the seal on the polythene bag holding the rucksack had been broken. Even worse, inside one of the pockets of the camera bag was a birthday card! Obviously, the rucksack had been been an unwanted birthday prezzy for someone who then returned it to Amazon and then it was sent on to me without being checked. It was going back again, with the birthday card in the pocket.

Actually, the procedure for returning unwanted goods to Amazon is very, very simple and straightforward. Fill in an online form, get a QR code in an email from Amazon. Parcel up the package and take it to a Post Office. At the PO, they weigh the package, scan your QR code and print a sticky label which they stick on the package and give you a proof of postage note. Very impressed with that.

Walked home via St Mo’s and took some photos mainly of plants and flowers, then went home to find Scamp deep in conversation about weddings and planning with her wee sister. That gave me a chance to have a look at the photos while the sisters blethered away in the background.  The dandelion clock won PoD.

After a quick dinner of ravioli, we drove over to Bishopbriggs to ‘help with the beginners’ again. Tonight the ‘helpers’ almost outnumbered the beginners, but that meant we were getting more stuff done than we’d managed last week. After we drove back, Scamp was off to choir to give June some vocal support. She has just arrived back and apparently almost the entire choir needs some vocal support. Jamie, she said she bumped into Mrs Dunn the teacher when she was there and she was asking after you.

While Scamp was out, I took the opportunity to watch the first episode of Life After Life, Hazy. Confusing at first, but by the end, bits of the story were falling into place again. It seems an awful long time since I read that book.  Also, I started a new jug of cold brew coffee.  I’m hoping I have the proportions of coffee to water right this time.  It’s also been an awful long time since I last tried to make some, but since then I’ve discovered the delights of Café Freddo.

I’ve ordered the camera bag tonight from WEX who I’ve dealt with before. It’s an updated (and up-priced, of course) model, but the improvements will be worth it, I hope. It will be delivered to their Glasgow shop in a couple of days.

No firm plans for tomorrow as yet, although a ‘Fascinator’ may be required by someone for one of the weddings.

I’m busy doing nothing – 28 March 2022

That’s how today felt.

Scamp was out to lunch with Nancy today which left me the run of the house.

It was a beautiful day again, possibly the last really warm day for a while, so after I’d changed the battery in the solar powered light ball that hangs on the tree in the garden, I went and sat on the front step and read my new book for a while, until lunch time, in fact. After lunch which was a chicken, mushroom and red pepper omelette, I continued my sunbathing and reading, although I did change to shorts and a tee shirt because it was really quite warm. I got a warning from Scott the taxi driver that I should have sun cream on and thought that was a wise precaution, so I went in search of sun cream. Finally found some, slapped it on and grabbed a beanie hat to complete my rig out. Possibly not the most elegantly dressed gent in the estate, but certainly the most comfortable, because now I’d taken a folding chair out. You can only sit for so long on a step before your bum starts to complain. I know I should have been sanding down the woodwork of the bin shed, but you can’t put a good book down! The book was All That Lives by James Oswald, in case you’re interested.

When Scamp returned I thought I’d give her some space and too the camera and the Lensbaby out to get some photos of the flowering cherry that grows in the depths of St Mo’s woodland. I got a few shots of it and am beginning to come to terms with this strange contraption. It does produce some very arty effects, almost painterly. That’s what produced today’s PoD of the flowering cherry tree.

That was about it for today. My work on the light ball lit up tonight and is now off again. The little Ni Mh battery does a good job and gives two or three hours of light. I’m hoping there will be enough sun tomorrow to charge it up again. Apparently it’s going to get a lot colder in the next few days with a wind from the north and talk of that white fluffy stuff falling from the sky!

One more thing.  I made Pasta Carbonara tonight for dinner, with a difference.  Two kinds of cheese, Pecarino and Parmigiano-Reggiano and NO CREAM!  Instead I tried Val’s recipe with an extra egg yolk instead of cream and it did taste better.  Must try it again some time.

Tomorrow Scamp is out again. This time it’s coffee with Shona. I’ll hope for a morning of sunshine.


Mothers Day – 27 March 2022

After the crowds and rushing about of yesterday we wanted a quieter day today.

A lazy morning, taking some photos in the garden. Completing today’s Sudoku and just generally chilling. That was the tone for today. Scamp spoke to Hazy in the morning, and found that Neil was feeling a lot better and talking about going back to work tomorrow after his Covid scare. Scamp too was in good spirits and seemed to be enjoying the good weather.

After lunch we went out and did a bit of gentle pruning of the Schoolgirl rose that grows up the trellis beside the front door. Last autumn we’d done some drastic pruning and cut it back quite hard. It seems that the brutality of the pruning has encouraged a fair amount of new growth and perhaps we can do even more cutting after the risk of frost is past.

With the work in the garden done, we went for a walk round St Mo’s. Just one circuit. I was going to go for a second round, but the light was fairly flat, even for a bright day and we both walked down to the shops to get milk and sweeties. No gin today. Back home, Scamp made herself a Pimms and I opened a cheap bottle of beer that tasted like a cheap bottle of beer. I don’t think I’ll buy another one of those, but I would definitely have another bottle or two of Wainwright. Cheap beer that tastes like good beer. We sat in the garden and had a wee drink and I took some more photos, but most of them failed the cut because of striping, something to do with the electronic shutter. Too technical for me, but annoying. PoD went to a shot from the morning of some lovely scarlet anemones. Taken with the new toy, the Lensbaby Sweet 50.

With the sun going down, the Pimms drained and the beer finished too, it was dinner time. The main constituent was there remains of yesterday’s chicken with potatoes and cauliflower. Dessert was ice cream with our new raspberry sauce which tastes a lot like the raspberry we used to get at the ice cream van when we were wee.

Later Scamp spoke to Jamie and heard about the problems of travelling to Trinidad and the difficulty of getting Covid tests in the correct time scale. Not for him, but for Sim. Also the joys of cutting an enormous lawn in the new house.

Tomorrow Scamp is booked for lunch with Nancy at The Fort. I think I may go down the Luggie to get some photos, all being well.

Off to Larky – 25 March 2022

To see the optician.

Thankfully I didn’t need new glasses, in fact, the optician said that my long vision had improved since my last visit! I have no idea how that happened. Scamp did need new reading glasses, but she’s getting Transition glasses which darken in sunlight. I know they’ve been out for some time, but these new ones darken much quicker than the older ones I had once upon a time. Hers will probably more akin to the ones Zaphod Beeblebrox had that darkened when danger threatened! When we walked back out into the Larky sunshine I needed sunglasses because of the drops the optician put in my eyes. Trust us to both go on the brightest and warmest day of the year so far!

We sat in the car for a while until I deemed it safe for me to drive. To drive to Gouldings on Clydeside for lunch. Being Friday, it could only be Fish ’n’ Chips. For dessert we had an enormous double meringue with four flakes sticking out of it and a strawberry on top. Slightly over the top, but we shared the load of eating it!

After that it was back home for Scamp to try out her new compost scoop tool to help her to plant her new roses. The scoop has been a great success, the gardener reported and it hold a lot of earth. Meanwhile I took the Sony A7iii out for a walk in St Mo’s and PoD was one of a deep pink wild flower. Actually, I took a picture of a flower that looks exactly the same, a week earlier in 2021. That just shows two things:
1. Wild plants follow exact cycles every year.
2. I’m becoming very insular. Photographing in the same locality too often.

That was about it for today. Lovely sunny day again. Tomorrow we may go further afield.


Waiting, waiting, waiting – 23 March 2022

For the postman to arrive. Hopefully bringing a parcel.

It took a while for the postman to arrive with the parcel and two cards. Scamp had already been down to the shops and back, leaving me to wait for the parcel. I did spend my time wisely, going out into the sunshine and photographing the Forsythia bush with my strange new lens. It’s a bit cumbersome and difficult to work with. If I’d put the camera on a tripod and then adjusted things, it would have been better. However, like most things photographic, the instructions that come with it are only a starting point. Mostly you learn by doing.

After lunch we set off for a walk in Drumpellier park. Scamp got to choose the paths this time, because it’s her week. She wanted to try a path to Bishop Loch. The sign pointing out the way seemed to think it was 1.5 miles to the loch. We followed its path until we came to the main road. There was a another signpost there telling us to go left. That was strange, because I was sure Bishop Lock was right. Also, the distance to the loch was now 1.75 miles. We both though the signs were just leading us a merry dance and we went back the way we’d come.

We hadn’t walked far when I got a call from the lady who asks us questions and gives us cotton bud things to stick down our throat and up our nose. Not out in the wilds of Drumpellier park, you realise, but back home. We agreed a time and walked a shortened version of our original route. A route that took us past the ice cream van, where we stopped for a ’99’, or as I said “a 99 with a flake”. Silly bugger. We found a seat by the loch (not Bishop Loch) to sit and watch the world go by as we ate our cones.

On the way back we stopped at The Fort. Scamp went to browse clothes shops and I went looking for a book in Waterstones. I came out with two books and still with a fiver in my book tokens to reduce the price of the next book I fancy. I’d hoped to get a birthday card for Scamp too, but Waterstones didn’t have any and I didn’t want to run the risk of Scamp spotting me going in to a card shop.

Back home, we still had an hour to spare before the Covid Survey lady was due to come, so I grabbed my camera bag and told Scamp I was going over to St Mo’s to get a few more pictures. Instead I walked down to the shops and got a card there. I’d also intended getting a bottle of Bramble Gin, but the queues in Aldi were ridiculous, so I gave up, put the bottle back on the shelf and walked home. Sorry Scamp. IOU a bottle of Bramble Gin. On the walk I did find something to photograph. It made the cut too and is on Flickr. It’s another bunch of seeds from a Silver Birch, lying on the ground. A boy on a bike watched me as if I was mad. Had he never seen a man on his hands and knees photographing a bit of stick lying on the ground? These are exactly the antics that get photogs a bad name!

The lady came and we told her some lies variations on the truth, but mainly truthful. We shoved the stick down our throats and gagged a bit. We stuck it up our nose too, both nostrils. Note! It’s really important that you do the throat first, not the nose. Think about it. There are some things you don’t want to put down your throat!  The last question they ask you is always “Have you been out of the country in the last 28 days?”.  We always look sad at that point, but today the lady did a little dance and said that she was hoping to get out of the country and go to Teneriffe next week.  She looked so excited I forgave her for making us feel worse!  It’s nice to get an interviewer with a sense of humour.  Actually most of them have been fairly happy folk.

Dinner was Easy Fish and Cabbage Risotto. The oven does all the work and nobody will be able to tell that you didn’t spend half an hour feeding hot stock into slowly thickening rice starch.

Hoping to go for lunch in Falkirk tomorrow, then a visit to Torwood Garden Centre.


Waiting for a parcel – 22 March 2022

You wait all morning and then two come at once.

I got an email yesterday to say that a parcel would arrive for me today. It was a new, well, second hand, lens. Not your normal lens. It’s a bendy twisty turn round corners lens called a Lensbaby. It wasn’t too expensive in the camera lens terms. I ordered it last week and it was coming today! Also coming today was a birthday prezzy for Scamp. Scamp was going to the dentist today and I was hoping that her parcel would arrive while she was away. It didn’t happen.

After lunch and before she left for the dentist, the DPD man arrived with both parcels. I might still have got away with it, except as he was photographing it and signing it into his handheld device, he said “These David Austin roses are expensive, but they are good.” I knew then the game was up and brought both parcels into the living room where Scamp was laughing her head off. Well, it just extended the birthday celebrations I suppose. The rose I’d chosen was, thankfully, on her short list. It’s a Lady of Shalott.

After the excitement she came down to reality with a bump when she found out that she’d need a crown on her tooth. When she told how much it would cost, I thought it might be a real crown! Another long wait to get it done too. First appointment she was given was for mid June! Also, our dentist is retiring next week. He was good, well, I liked him anyway. So now we need to hope that the new lady dentist who is his replacement will take us both on as NHS patients and end the misery of me being NHS and Scamp being private.

I was just getting the mower out to cut the front grass when Scamp arrived back with her sorry tale about an expensive piece of porcelain. She told me to leave the grass cutting to her and go out an play with the new toy. I didn’t need told twice. I just laced up my boots and got on with the test.

It really is a weird piece of equipment. The body of the lens is in two parts, held together in a ball and socket joint. The lens itself fits into this contraption. There is no electronic connection to the camera itself an very little assistance to focusing the beast. The image in the viewfinder took a bit of getting used to, but I could see how the thing worked after I’d taken a few experimental shots. First thoughts are that it’s not a lens for everyday photography, but it does things I’ve never seen before from a lens. I’ll keep it for a while at least.

Today’s PoD wasn’t taken with it. That shot camera from a ‘normal’ Samyang 18mm lens. A bit of tweaking in Lightroom revealed the image you see of St Mo’s under a wonderful sky. The weird photos are on Flickr.

Tomorrow we may be going for a walk if the weather holds. If not, then it’s maybe a trip into Glasgow.

A palindromic date – 22 February 2022

As well as being a date almost entirely composed of 2s, today’s date is a numerical palindrome. 22-02-2022 reads the same forwards and backwards. Check if you want to, but it’s right. I didn’t work this out myself, I found it on that great repository of knowledge, Facebook!

Today was one of those days when the weather couldn’t decide what to do. Would it stay dry or would it stay wet. Would it be windy or would it be calm. It couldn’t decide, so it did all of them, sometime it seemed to do all of them at the same time.

I have been looking for a new pair of true wireless headphones. The ones that are just two headphones that plug into your ears, or hang in your ears with no connecting cables. I bought a pair ages ago and they worked well for almost a year before they started losing connection. It seemed that you had to look straight ahead and not turn or one of the earbuds would switch off. It was really disconcerting, but they were very cheap and probably Tesco’s own make, because I never saw them anywhere else. Anyway, I bought a pair of Skullcandy’s to replace them, but the sound was awful. You’ve no way to check in-ear earbuds before buying. Scamp says it’s the same with earrings. I’ve never had that problem, personally! I had some money sitting in vouchers for JL and fancied a new (better quality) pair. A pair of Sony’s. They’d been out of stock at JL for weeks, but today they were back. Not back in black, but they had them in white and that would suit me fine. Scamp didn’t want to come to Glasgow today, she’s more or less self-isolating, getting ready for Thursday.

I drove through torrential rain all the way in to Glasgow and eventually found someone in JL who unlocked the cabinet and sold me the headphones. I only had to pay £4 odd for them because the vouchers paid off the rest. I’d another reason to go in to Glasgow today. We have loads of books in the house looking for a new home. Scamp has collected lots of them up and they’re sitting in bags in various rooms. I’d brought one of the bigger bags with me today and I handed them over, with bag, to the girl in the Oxfam shop in Exchange Square. Two jobs done. I bought myself another concertina sketch book in Cass Art, an A6 one. Scamp gave me my present A5 book and it’s almost half full with EDiF sketches, but a smaller one that could easily fit in my pocket would be useful. On the way back to the car, I was passing the GOMA and it’s usually a great place to people watch and people snap. Today it was a girl on her fag break or to be more correct a ‘vape break’ and a guy who seemed to be bragging about his drawings, you’ll need to go on Flickr to find him.

Drove back home through more rain. It just seems never-ending these days, although I walked around Glasgow and not a drop wet my Bergy. It’s the wind that makes it so unpredictable.

I charged the headphones when I got home and dumped the photos. The it was time to make a chicken curry for dinner. It turned out fine, but I was toying with the idea of using some Padron peppers to add a different flavour to it, but these padrons were HOT, so rather than risk it, they went in the bin.

After dinner I started today’s sketch. Today’s prompt was Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
I started off copying a shot of Noel Coward, but it just didn’t feel right and he really needed the sun in the picture as well as the ‘Mad Dog’ to fit the prompt. So, it became a sort of stereotypical man who is ‘something in the city’ with his times under one arm and a bottle of MD 2020 under the other. According to its website, MD 2020 is “made with juicy, luscious fruit infused with tasty flavors to create a unique variety of MD 20/20 selections”. Made in America, drunk in Coatbridge! Delicious (so I’m told) served cold in a bus shelter.

The headphones sounded terrible to start with, but once I’d worked out how to use the equaliser they came alive. It didn’t help that they weren’t sitting properly in my ears. Sorted now. Great sound with just the gentlest hiss at times.

Scamp’s telephone consultation with the doc went well this morning. Her meds are being returned to the previous dosage.

No plans for tomorrow, although I might need to get the front wipers on my car replaced.