We went for the messages – 22 October 2021

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A lazy start to the day – 21 October 2021

After a quick lunch we were off and the lazy start was behind us.

We set off thinking that the COP26 extravaganza would cause chaos with the traffic on the M8, but actually the road was just the usual snarl ups and then clear. The problem came in deepest Paisley where roadworks closed part of the road we were intending driving on. That meant a long detour to get to the hall where our tea dance was taking place. After such a good start it was annoying to have to start finding a way through the maze of Paisley’s traffic. Eventually we arrived about fifteen minutes late. That in itself was a success, just fifteen minutes!

The hall was very busy with a new group of tea dancers ready to strut their stuff. We both found the floor very slippery, so slippery that I changed from my old shoes to my new black and white shoes. That made it a bit better, but still not right. When you looked at the parquet flooring with the glancing light from the window, it looked as if the floor had been newly waxed. That might account for the problem. The other problem was that we were making more mistakes than normal. We tried Social Foxtrot, we completed two tracks of Ballroom Foxtrot and we achieved success with waltz with whispered instructions to each other. Tango wasn’t as good as it could have been, but it too is getting there. Lots of sequence dances and for the first time I danced the Sally Anne Cha Cha or to give it another name, FIREBALL! because that’s what you’re supposed to shout at the end of each sequence. I didn’t just in case I got it wrong. Two Scottish country dances and a waltz finished the dancing for today.

I was hoping to grab some of the late afternoon sun when we got home, but the traffic through Paisley and on the eastbound M8 was a crawl. If you can find a space in the fast lane to sneak into, you can get up to 40mph for a while, but it doesn’t last. That said, it was better than the M74 beside us was doing, it was almost at a halt, and this is before COP26 gets into full swing with its road closures all over the city.

An hour and a quarter after we left, we arrived home. The light was all but gone, but I managed a few shots taken along the lane down to the shops. A bit of jiggery pokery in Potatoshop and it became PoD.

Sketch prompt was ‘Fuzzy’, and that’s what my little caterpillar is. It was just a ten minute sketch, but it covered the basics and the prompt.

Tomorrow we may go for the messages at The Fort with the chance of lunch there too.

Out West – 20 October 2021

Today I was meeting Alex at the Art Galleries in Glasgow’s West End.

Scamp gave me a run up to the station and I trained it in to Glasgow. The light was beautiful when I came out of Queen Street station, so I grabbed a few shots of the buildings and one sneaky wee shot of a bloke leaning in a doorway where they were ripping out the inside of a shop to make it into another shop that would last a year or so before going to the wall and needing another makeover. “It all makes work for the working man to do” as Flanders and Swan sang many years ago. I walked through a lane to Buchanan Street and got the subway from there to Kelvin Hall and walked from there to the Art Galleries, or Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum to give it its proper title. On the way I passed what used to be one of our favourite restaurants, Usha’s. A vegetarian Indian restaurant. Now it’s a German Doner Kebab place. Possibly the exact opposite of an Indian vegetarian restaurant!

I took some photos outside Kelvingrove while I waited for Alex. A bus was parked outside the galleries and a group of drivers were being photographed. I don’t know what it was all about, but presume it was some new service that Glasgow Council have dreamed up. We walked round the museum part of the building and I took a few photos of the main hall with its pipe organ. Sadly no organ recitals today, probably something to do with Covid. Alex took some shots of the stuffed animals with his new acquisition, a Sony A6000 with a Zeiss standard zoom. Very nice! He’d kept quiet about that! After we’d had our fill of the stuffed animals and the beautiful Spitfire that hangs from the roof we went for lunch in the restaurant.

From there we made our way up to Glasgow Uni which was where Alex wanted to go today. Amazingly, I’d never been through it and was surprised that proles like me were actually allowed in. Light was fantastic today. My favourite place was the east quadrangle with a beautiful beech tree place, not in the middle, but towards one corner of the lawn. Alex wanted to visit the chapel and I did like the stained glass windows at each end and the lovely warmth of the wooden pews. I must go back again some day and have a second look at the Uni.

After a bit of shilly shallying I worked out how we should go to the Botanic Gardens, but by the time we got there, the good light had gone, so we headed back down Great Western Road to Kelvinbridge and the subway back to town, but before that there were street art paintings for Alex to photograph while I was amazed to see a bloke in a kayak shooting the rapids of the fast flowing River Kelvin. He seemed to be struggling against a fearsome current, but enjoying every minute of it. One of those shots made PoD.  Today’s prompt was ‘Sprout’ and I made up a bit of a fairytale about a boy who sold a cow for some seeds …  You’ve maybe heard it before.

Subway back to Glasgow and a cup of coffee before we split up to go our separate ways, vowing to do it all again in a couple of weeks. By that time he will have mastered his new camera and amassed a bag of lenses, no doubt. I got the bus home, just managing to get it before it left the stance.

Dinner tonight was beef olives for me and mixed veg and potatoes for Scamp.

Tomorrow we may go dancing in Paisley.

Under the weather – 19 October 2021

Literally and actually.

Another wet day but I had a job to do today. I had to fix the broken lock on the bathroom window. Found what I needed at the B&Q website, but of course they didn’t have that cheap model in the store, only the dearer ones. I took one anyway after I’d checked that the screw holes in it lined up with the screw holes in the one I’d removed from the window yesterday. Drove back via Tesco for bread and a couple of bunches of carnations to brighten the kitchen and the downstairs toilet. Surprisingly the fitting of the new handle was simplicity itself after I’d confirmed that it could be used on the left side or the right side of the window, some can’t. Job done.

Lunch was a bowl of yesterday’s soup which was fairly tasty and warm. With a couple of slices of bread to dook in it, it was even better, but I wasn’t feeling too great. Aching shoulder from yesterday’s Covid booster jag and also that “coming down with a cold” feeling. Shivery and aching. That too could be from the jags, the flu jag this time. Scamp had a parcel to post to Skye, so that gave me an excuse to go for a walk with her to Condorrat. Came home via St Mo’s and I had a camera with me, so I took some photos although my heart wasn’t in it and it was raining. Best of a bad lot was a nettle that looked like I felt, washed out. That was PoD.

Scamp made dinner tonight which was chicken curry. Chicken Tikka Masala to be more exact. It was good and hot made from a Pataks kit. Another company jumping on the bandwagon that Spice Tailor started. I still think Spice Tailor is the best for range and taste although today’s offering would give them a run for their money. While Scamp was making the dinner, I was trying out my idea for today’s sketch. The prompt was ‘Loop’. Not the most interesting prompt, but it’s what I had to work with. I finally settled on a Mobius strip which is a loop with only one side. Its inside turns out to be its outside too. Just look at the sketch and you’ll get the idea. Follow the little cars and see where they go. It’s a fantasy Formula One race track called the Mobius Loop and yes, the cars do have to travel upside down. That’s what the magnetic tyres and the steel track are for! Following yesterdays lateral thinking again. I won’t say it’s my best sketch, but it’s different and it fulfils the prompt.

Took a couple of paracetamol after dinner and felt better. They’re beginning to wear off now, but I’ll take a couple more before I go to bed. I might even have a wee hot toddy too.

Hopefully meeting Alex tomorrow for a walk around the West End of Glasgow. That should be fun if I’m up to it and I think I will be.

A thousand words for rain – 17 October 2021

Just as Inuits allegedly have thousands of words for snow. Scots have thousands of words for rain.

We saw a lot of those varieties today. Heavy rain, light rain, drizzle, smirk and everything in between. Just not a lot of dry spells. This left little opportunity for photography. As I said yesterday, there were lots of things to do in the house, just we didn’t want to do them.

Eventually, late in the afternoon I did manage to drag myself off to St Mo’s for a walk with a Sony. It rained all the time I was out. That same mix of heavy rain, light … well, you get the idea. I did get a few photos of the effect the rain had on the plants. Eventually I headed home with the prospect of at least a couple of shots.

Dinner tonight was Cod with Prawns and Fennel, a fairly standard weekend meal. Pudding was the last of Scamp’s lemon drizzle cake, served with custard.

PoD was a little glass-like ball of rainwater hanging from a weed in St Mo’s. Today’s sketch prompt was ‘Collide’. I puzzled about this for a long time, but just before I made the dinner I found I’d picked up a tiny, and I mean tiny tick on my walk round St Mo’s. Once I’d disposed of the tiny beastie, I got an idea for a sketch. It’s a little tick about to collide, or be collided by a cross pein hammer. I felt that was a fitting solution to the puzzle set by ‘Collide’.

Spoke to Jamie tonight and heard some good news on the house front. It looks like things are moving on at last.

Tomorrow looks no better than today as far as the weather is concerned, so maybe it WILL be time to start some of those inside jobs, but not until we have our monthly meeting with the lady who brings the throat and nose swabs and who asks those personal questions!

An afternoon at the seaside – 16 October 2021

Off to dancing class first.

I was a bit late off the mark this morning. Honest, it wasn’t a Freudian slip, it was just a touch of brain fade, but by cutting a few corners we did get on the road about ten minutes late. Just as we were driving past the Irn Bru factory we chanced to see some head case in a bright yellow car testing his vehicle’s 0-60 capabilities. Usually this is done of a perfectly straight and level piece of track, like a runway or something similar, not on a fairly busy ring road with a bend about 50m from his starting point. Also the greater than normal chance of HGVs crossing the road just past that bend. I pity the folk who will eventually have to scrape him off a lamp post. We drove sedately on.

Arrived with about five minutes to spare. Today we were tackling Tango and I was given a reminder of one of the finer points of the man’s part, the pull back on the leading foot after the first three forward steps < that’s my reminder to me. It doesn’t have to mean anything to you.> With that fixed we got a thumbs up! We must have spent almost an hour on the tango, I didn’t check. Next was a sequence dance that we’ve done many times, but which I still occasionally get wrong, the Mayfair Quickstep. We did the Bellisima Cha-Cha after that. I think we’re both fairly ok with it now. After that we went on to a real Quickstep. We haven’t done the quickstep with Stewart and Jane, but we did eventually get the first set of steps right. It will need some practise at home to hammer it into my head, but we should have it by next week. Another couple of sequence dances later and we were done. My little head was full.

We’d planned on going to Irvine if the weather was fairly decent after the class and although the little patches of sun that had appeared in the morning had disappeared to be replaced with milky white cloud, we did continue down through long convoluted road the sat nav picked for us and ended up at the seafront at Irvine. We parked near a little trailer selling New Mexican food. I had a beef taco and Scamp had a chicken one with a couple of coffees. The food was lovely. We both really did enjoy it. After that, it was coats on and a walk down to the pier. I took some photos of the bridge to nowhere. It’s a steel bridge with hand burned steel panels on the side depicting different inventors who originated from Scotland. It used to lead across the estuary to an island with a kind of Science Centre on it, partly buried in a man made hill. The bridge had a removable middle section to allow yachts to sail through, but now that removal has become permanent and the science centre has closed. Such a pity. Such short sightedness on the part of the councils. We saw a family walking a strange looking dog. I thought it was a Borzoi, but Mr Google says it could have been a Saluki. It was the shape of a greyhound with long hair and had a tail that looked like a fan. Strange looking beast.

I got PoD on the walk to the pier. It was a view of some folk walking out to the end of the pier with that grey sky above. Quite gloomy. We drove home by a different route, one that I knew and not the twisty turny routes the sat nav prefers. I must check the preferences on that device to see if I’ve set a flag for “Choose the most awkward route.”

Today’s sketch prompt was Compass. I drew my old Silva compass which is about fifty years old and although the clear perspex base is broken, the compass works perfectly. It’s little used now that Google Maps and OS maps online make instruments like this almost obsolete. However, it does not need batteries, nor does it lose its signal, so still useful as a backup.

When we were driving home the rain came on, gentle rain, that started off as a drizzle but was getting heavier all the time. Now, at just after 11.30pm it’s raining properly, and has been for a while.

Tomorrow we may go for a walk if it’s dry, and if it’s not, there are lots of things to do at home.

Curry then a walk – 15 October 2021

We did find that Indian restaurant in Hamilton.

The restaurant was the Bombay Cottage. Convenient parking just outside for the princely sum of £1.60 for three hours. As I’ve said before “Who would want to stay in Hamilton for three hours?” We had no intention of doing that. I had Chicken Rogan Josh which was very mild, too much oil/ghee and lacked salt. Scamp had Cauliflower Shimla Bhaji which was too salty. Two chefs with different tastes? Still the naan made up for the main courses. We left feeling that we’d been well fed.

We were entertained by a wedding group walking past the restaurant with their photographer in tow, heading for the car park of the Townhouse. Then they all trooped back again, walked through the main car park and out through another exit. By the time we were leaving the photographer was taking photos of the happy couple posing in front of a white minibus in the main car park, and everyone else crowded round him taking photos with their phones. I wish I hadn’t left my phone in the boot! What a photo that would have made! We drove slowly past the group with folk crossing in front of us like we weren’t there. Maybe there’s an unwritten law that states if you’re in a wedding group and get knocked down, it won’t hurt you. One woman nearly got the chance to try it out.

We drove in brilliant sunshine to Barons Haugh for a walk through the trees. Lighting was lovely and the path was interesting for a mile or so, then we turned a corner and the path went in to shadow and wasn’t nearly so interesting, so we turned back and although we were walking into the sun, the lighting made it so much more photographic. PoD was a photo of a yellow leaf that had found itself hooked onto the branch of a sapling.

Drove home with the sun still shining. What a difference a day makes. Headlights on when we left the house yesterday morning and brilliant sunshine and blue skies today. Tomorrow the weather begins to revert to Dull October again. However, for today the sun was still with us and I wanted to get more low sun pics in St Mo’s. I think I just missed the best of the light, but I still got a few decent shots.

Sketch for today was “Helmet” and I chose my bike helmet. Really demanding thing to draw with all the curves and cut aways. Also lots of air holes in it. I hadn’t realised just how many there were until I started it. I was beginning to think that a helmet is just an expensive bag of holes held together with some plastic. However it is essential when you’re on a bike.

Tomorrow is back to dance lessons, but with the possibility of a run to the coast if the weather permits.

Out for coffee, out for coffee – 13 October 2021

Scamp was off to Tim Horton’s for coffee with Jeanette. I was out for coffee with Fred in Costa.

It did cross my mind that, as we were both meeting our respective friends at around the same time, what if we crossed over and I went for coffee with Jeanette and Scamp went to meet Fred? Not there’s a thought to start today’s blog! Just let that sit in your head for a while and consider the implications.

But we kept things the way they had been planned just so we wouldn’t scare the horses, or the friends. Fred and I did our usual. We compared the sketches we’d done recently and then talk turned to books we’d both read. After that the conversation took a wander down memory land with Fred telling stories about Glasgow in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Some of it seemed familiar, but not a lot. I was still living in Larkhall then and he was somewhere around Cranhill. We could have crossed paths back then, but I doubt it. I got the feeling he was clock watching today, eager to get back home before his wife returned from her early morning visit.

I bought a loaf, a couple of squashes and a flatbread semi-pizza. I thought I’d turn the squashes into a pot of soup and the flatbread with the soup would make a fairly decent dinner. That would allow yesterday’s Steak ’n’ Kidney to go into the freezer to be discovered at a later date for a surprise, easy dinner for one carnivore.

After Scamp returned and we’d had lunch, she left to post a birthday card and I started the prep of the squashes. I don’t know why they call them squashes. They were almost impossible to cut in half, let alone squash! Eventually I did get them peeled and chopped. Then I fried the onions and assorted soupy veg before I added the stock and said squashes. Boiled it then let it simmer for half an hour before blitzing it. Meanwhile, Scamp had returned from the exploration of darkest Condorrat and was starting to make a Lemon Drizzle cake. I, on the other hand, with my soup resting, went for a walk in St Mo’s with the A7ii and a selection of lenses.

On the way there I grabbed a low level shot of leaves on the path that follows the road through and avenue of trees. I quite liked the effect. One in the bag. I saw a woman who was walking her dogs (everyone walks dogs in St Mo’s – I must get myself one. Not a real one, just a little pull along one. Less mess and no vet’s bills.) Anyway, this woman was photographing the sky, then I saw why. The sky was filled with lovely Mare’s Tail clouds. I grabbed a few of those too.

PoD was taken on the Bee Seat in the park. It’s a broken snail’s shell with no sign of the snail. Probably lunch for a hungry starling or thrush. Of course the photo had originally been two images that had gone separately through Lightroom, were joined together in Photoshop, then returned to Lightroom before I was happy with the finished shot. But I was happy with it, that’s why it is PoD!

Back home and the baking was still progressing with a lot of huffing and puffing about the wrong kind of butter, or something. Later when we ate the offending article I couldn’t care what kind of butter it should have been made with, it was simply delicious and I don’t even like lemons.

The soup was a bit sweet and also a bit thin. It will probably be better tomorrow. The semi-pizza was just ok. A bit dry Scamp suggested and I agreed. However, it and the sweet soup filled a wee space as we say.

Sketch prompt for today was Roof. Roof of the mouth? Roof of a house? Probably the worst prompt so far this Inktober. I chose to draw the four most common types of roof I know. Flat roof, Mono pitch, Gable and Hipped. They are done and have had a wee splash of watercolour to brighten them up.

Tomorrow we’re intending driving to Gorbals for a tea dance.

Walking round Broadwood – 12 October 2021

It was such a dull day with the ever-present threat of rain … again.

We were sitting doing nothing all morning when Scamp declared that she was going out for a walk. I was told I could join her if I wanted to, but if not she would go herself. I didn’t see it as a challenge, exactly, but decided I’d tag along for the walk. I’d been yawning most of the morning and needed the exercise. So did my A6000 and my TZ 90 that I’d recently hoovered out to get rid of most of the dust between the elements of the lens. This would be a good chance to see if it had worked.

Broadwood was Scamp’s choice of venue. It’s certainly not mine. It’s just a big manmade pond that had great potential as a watersports venue, but the council refused to fund it, so they left it as it was and by doing so, called it a wildlife area. It does have a path round around it and an extension of the path into the woods is at least slightly more interesting. However, we weren’t going into the woods today because after a few days of rain the paths get flooded and too muddy to walk through without wellies, or better still waders. Today we were just doing the circuit. I did manage to take a few photos, but not too many as the sun never really got its act together and the clouds broke, only to reform again in heavier clumps. PoD was a shot of a cormorant on what used to be called Swan Island, but which is now owned by the cormorants and mallards. It was taken by the TZ90 and seems to be proof that the clean up worked, at least on a dull day. The big test will be when the sun shines. Then the remaining dust spots will show themselves.

Back home and after lunch the rain that never came was still threatening, and since I had a potential PoD I started processing the photos I’d taken. I also did some research for today’s sketch which was “Stuck”. I’d already decided what it was to be, I just needed a picture to get the angle of the shoe correct. As usual, Google Images came up trumps. Finally I phoned Fred and arranged a meeting for coffee tomorrow morning. We should have been going to Margie’s in the afternoon tomorrow, but she has a trapped nerve in her leg and called off. I understand just how painful that can be now.

Steak and kidney for me for dinner with potatoes and cauliflower. Scamp substituted lentil based veggie mince for steak and kidney and both plates looked remarkably similar.

Tomorrow morning Scamp is booked at Tim Hortons for coffee with Jeanette and I’m hoping to meet Fred at Costa.

Down the Canal – 11 October 2021

Out fairly early since there was a fair amount of blue sky.

By the time we were actually on the road most of that blue was replaced by grey and an ominous amount of clouds rolling over from the Campsie Fells, but we got parked easily at the Hebo House and walked along the side of the Forth & Clyde canal in the general direction of Twechar. We met hardly anyone along the path. A few cyclists and that was about it. After my lucky spotting of a kingfisher last week with Alex, I was hoping we’d get lucky and see one today, but there were no sightings of that blue flash. We did see one of Mr Grey’s family on the far bank, but he was almost invisible among the reeds.

As we were about to cross the road and head back on the path of the old mineral railway we saw a man with twa dugs. As well as the dugs, he was trailing a long lead and I mean LONG. I’d estimate it to be about nine or ten metres long. He crossed the road and I had visions of the lead getting tangled in a car going in the opposite direction and he with the dogs being dragged along behind it. Unfortunately that never happened. I’m guessing it was a running lead to let the dogs get some exercise, but he really should have been more careful.

We spotted loads of fungi on the way back along the path and I took the opportunity to photograph a few. We also saw a ’workie’ in full workie gear sitting near one of the barriers keeping pedestrians away from the Never-ending Story that is the upgrade of the paths along that stretch. For once there were no notices telling the public (ie, us) what was happening now to these excavations, tree felling, tree planting and general works that seem to have been going on for about three years with little sign of completion any time soon. However we did see one of the mythical workies today. Rarer that a kingfisher.

I got PoD along the path. A pretty little pink flower of the genus Impatiens glandulifera or Himalayan Balsam. It’s a large annual plant native to the Himalayas but is now present across much of the the UK and is considered an invasive species in many areas. I don’t think it does nearly as much harm as the workies and their upgrades. Right, I think I’ve said enough on that subject.

We did manage to complete the walk without getting wet. In fact as soon as we closed the car doors, the first raindrops appeared on the windscreen. Drove home, had lunch and Scamp went out to work in the garden, repotting some flowers and planting new bulbs for next year. Meanwhile I cooked some steak and kidney, some of which will hopefully be my dinner tomorrow. The rest will go in the freezer to be a welcome dinner in the future.

Today’s sketch was to be Sour. I sketched a lemon from the fridge and faked a slice of lemon behind it. Splashed some watercolour on it and that will be another day completed in Inktober. Not the finest painting or sketch I’ve done, but it’s been posted. Inktober is not nearly as full of participants or sketches as it was last year, but then Flickr is much the same.

That was about all we did today. No plans for tomorrow. Weather looks like an improving picture.