Morning came too quickly – 12 March 2022

I didn’t think I’d been to sleep when I woke at 7am.

I don’t know what woke me, but I wish it hadn’t. We didn’t need to go out until about 10:15am and I knew it would be difficult to get back to sleep, but I did.

Up, breakfasted, showered and dressed, we were ready for the drive to Bridge of Weir for the first dance class and a drive in torrential rain. It seemed to come in waves. Probably because we were heading west and that’s the direction the clouds were rolling in from, so it heavy rain then light rain then heavy again. Not the most pleasant drive, but the dance class, while taxing was interesting. Catching up with a waltz that I have no recollection of, but Scamp has. Then a Cha-Cha that was new for everyone and was also quite complicated. A few sequence dances added to the mix and leavened the lesson. There was a lot of surplus food available to be taken away free of charge and we did make good use of it.

More torrential rain on the way home, but the weather seemed to have kept folk from going out, because the roads were much quieter than they have been. That is, until we arrived at the Kingston Bridge where the usual traffic jams started. The secret seems to be to get into the outside lane before you reach the bridge and just keep plodding along. The outside lane almost always runs the quickest, although, perhaps ‘quickest’ is probably not the best description.

Back home and after lunch partly made from the goodies we’d picked up, Scamp went for a walk to the shops to get a chicken for tonight’s dinner. I stayed home and started on yesterday’s blog.

When she came home, not too heavily laden, I walked over to St Mo’s where I did take some frog photos, but where PoD turned out to be a bunch of crocuses growing wild.

A rum ’n’ coke for Scamp and a whisky for me while I finished off yesterday’s blog and started today’s after dinner is leading to an early(ish) night.

Tomorrow, after three busy days on the trot, we have no plans.

A busy musical day – 11 March 2022

Music rarely has a place in the blog, but it has today.

The day started with Scamp driving us to Tesco. Just a usual Friday shop. Basics and a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, the wine wasn’t for us but for friends we were visiting later.

Back home I started making dough for a loaf. I usually take a loaf to Crawford and Nancy in Larky. Scamp reckoned a small loaf would be enough for four of us and small loaves are easier to hand knead, so that’s what I did.

After lunch I went out for a walk and a hope for more frog photos, if they were still there. They were, and the photos were taken. They were taken with my big clunky Tamron 70-300mm lens. It was a great lens some years ago when I first bought it for my Nikon D7000, then things started going wrong. The Vibration Control would sometimes take a day off and just refuse to work. Focusing too was a hit and a miss. I got it repaired, and it worked for a while after that, but it really wasn’t to be trusted. Now I’ve got a Sony and a Nikon adapter which allows the lens to work in manual mode only and without VC. I don’t use a long lens very much and this one covers the times when I need a lens that’s longer than 105mm.

By the time I came back the dough had risen quite well and was ready to go into the little cane basket for its second prove as I looked through the photos from today’s shoot. Surprisingly, some were better than I’d expected. In fact one of the m made PoD.

That had given the bread time to puff up a bit and I bunged it in the oven for the required 25 mins. It came out almost as flat as a pancake. I decided we’d try it tomorrow, but there was no way it was going to Larky.

Time was getting on and it was nearly time to drive over to the the Town Behind the Wall. I was taking a ukulele and a steel strung guitar, because Crawford wanted to have a jam session with him playing uke and me playing guitar. I wasn’t looking forward to it all that much, but it was a really great evening. Both instruments were tuned together and we ran through many of his old favourites, but songs I hadn’t expected. I was very rough to start with, but as the night progressed, I started to settle in to the chord sequences. What I did find was that the finger tips of my left hand were painfully tingling. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat for an hour and a half playing a guitar.  While we were singing and playing, the ladies were in the sitting room blethering.

We left just after midnight, so as you will have guessed by now, this is a catch-up. A small glass of rum as a nightcap because I was driving to dance class in the morning, then it was off to bed.

Tomorrow we’re going to the first dance class in about five weeks. Hope we can remember which foot goes first!


Dancing’ – 10 March 2022

Today we were back dancing in Paisley.

I expected them to, at least, have some bunting out and maybe even some Scottish flags to celebrate the return of Sheila. What did we get? We got told off for “just waltzing in at any time”. Admittedly it was said tongue in cheek, but where were the balloons and streamers?

In the morning we spoke to Hazy for a while and found out how painful it is to to have a pain reducing patch ripped off, removing some skin in the process. Apparently Neil will be able to walk again once he’s out of traction.

After speaking to Hazy, I reckoned I had enough time to go on a frog hunt in St Mo’s. It is usually about the first or second week in March they arrive for a few all night parties with a bit of hanky panky, leaving great rafts of spawn clogging up the shallows of the ponds. Today was one of those days, and the frogs and a few toads too were congregating happily splashing through the water and playing leapfrog, at least that’s what it looked like. I got a few photos of the celebrations, some of which will be posted on Frog Porn later tonight. One particularly smug looking individual made it to PoD.

I’d just enough time after getting the photos to get home for a quick bite to eat before we were off to Paisley to the first Tea Dance in ages. It was a fairly reduced affair with a lot of the regulars having called off due to a resurgence of Covid. That left a bit more room for us to stagger around making more mistakes than we were getting right. I think a lot more practise needs to be done before the next one. Having said that, we did get up for almost every dance we knew how to do and even some of the old hands were having difficulty getting their old feet to find the proper steps in the correct order. Next time we’ll be better.

We left early, and again found that the traffic was much lighter with that 30minute difference. Of course everything snarled as we neared the Kingston Bridge, but that’s just inevitable. It would have been much worse if we had waited until the end of the dance.

No plans really for tomorrow apart from, perhaps, a visit to Larky later.


The Dewdrop goes out – 6 July 2021

It was a much better day than we anticipated.

Scamp was off for coffee with Isobel in the morning and I wasn’t invited. I wasn’t particularly bothered by the non-invite because I had my own plans for the day.

I’d planned that if the day was set fair, I’d take Dewdrop out for a spin. Just a short run, nothing too strenuous because I’ve not been cycling since about September last year and I wasn’t entirely sure I’d remember how to ‘go a bike’. It was easy. Dewdrop was docile and put up with me missing gears and struggling with the SPD plates on my shoes. We soon covered the 3 miles I’d earmarked as our first day out in 2021.

I had to lift the bike over a five bar gate on to the rutted old path alongside the railway. I didn’t get all the way along the path because I could see in the distance a JCB working near the end and as this path is technically private land I didn’t want to have to explain my intentions. Those intentions were to get some insect photos. So I cut my journey short and went looking for something less interesting, but still photographable.

I found it. The ‘It’ in question was a Burnet Moth and not just one, there were hundreds of them some, three to a flower. I think they were 5 Spot although they may be 6 Spot. It’s difficult to tell because the spots sometimes merge and also somtimes you get misled and find you’re counting a spot on the underwing.  Burnet moths are day flying insects and despite their startling appearance, aren’t all that rare. However they only seem to appear around here for a few days. I must just have hit it lucky today. I grabbed a few shots of course.

The other strange sight was a black slug emerging from a puddle where it had been completely submerged. As far as I could remember, slugs can’t breathe underwater, but this one was crawling along the bottom of the puddle, before it hauled itself out and then crawled over to another puddle to cross it head just above the water. Such a strange sight. I took photos … of course (on Flickr), but now I think about it, I should have taken a short video too. Is this the true origin of the Loch Ness Monster?  Is Nessie a gigantic slug?

When I got home, Scamp was back from her ‘coffee’ outing, although she said there seemed to be very little actual coffee in her cup. Maybe it was a ‘babychino’ rather than a latte.

After lunch Scamp started defrosting the freezer. It was my fault. Last night I didn’t close the door properly after I took the last of the ice cream out. The door stayed open until Scamp was going to bed around 11pm. That would mean it was gently losing its ice for about five hours. When we opened the door this morning it looked as if Frosty the Snowman had been in the freezer all night. Everything was covered in a layer of white frost. The freezer was needing defrosted anyway, so this was the incentive we needed. That’s one way of looking at it, anyway. After about an hour this afternoon with both of us taking turns at the defrosting process it was deemed clear enough to restart the freeze process. We put back about 60% of the contents. The rest were either too old to be worth keeping or Scamp didn’t think they were safe to refreeze. I’ll check next and every time and close that freezer door properly now.

Scamp made dinner tonight, a Prawn & Pea Risotto. Really lovely. Just enough mint in it to flavour the peas without overwhelming the whole thing.

We had a quick dance practise tonight just to make sure we can do the basic rumba, cha-cha and foxtrot. After a bit of discussion we came to agree on the correct moves in the correct places!

Tomorrow we may go out for a walk if the weather stays dry. It almost stayed dry today, just a little shower to remind us it was still there.



Walking in the rain – 3 July 2021

Twice I walked in the rain today. Once with Scamp and once by myself. Both times were enjoyable experiences.

It started off as a sunny summer’s day, but we knew it wouldn’t last. Our weather forecaster device, the weather fairies and the weather apps on our phones told us it was going to be wet today with the possibility of thunder storms too. With that in mind, we went out for a walk around St Mo’s in the morning before the deluge. Actually the dry spell lasted longer than we’d anticipated, but by 1pm it was starting to rain.

At first there wasn’t much rain. Just a shower, the edge of a cloud. After that we thought we’d manage a walk to the shops to get something for dinner, but it was waiting and we thought we’d just stay put until this heavier shower was past. It didn’t last long, but it was a heavy shower. When it had stopped we put rain coats on and went for that walk to the shops.

We got there and back again without getting too wet, in fact you could almost see the streets drying, there was so much heat in the ground. Back home I had a look through this morning’s photos and there wasn’t a lot there, so I was just considering going out again when the third wave struck and it was much longer and heavier than before. I looked again and wondered if there was just enough for a PoD. I decided to wait out the shower and when it was finally spent I dressed lightly but with a raincoat and went out to get some wet weather photos.

I found lots of slugs and snails out enjoying the wet weather. They seem to relish the rain, probably because it makes it easier for them to ‘walk’ on the rough stones of the paths. One of those shelled gastropod achieved PoD as it made its way across my path. I saw a couple of frogs and a larger toad which was a possible PoD but was pipped by the snail.

We had a short practise of the new Rumba routine Queen of Hearts as well as the Cha-Cha. It seems like the Cha-Cha will be featured tomorrow and it’s likely the teachers will also want to make sure we’ve been doing our homework on the Rumba too. Best to be prepared.

Tomorrow looks like an inside sort of day with heavy rain and thunderstorms on the cards. No great plans for a walk then!

Rebels without a clue – 10 March 2021

We broke the law today! I hope you’re reading this Queen Nic!

Just to be clear, we were driving to Stirling, which is outwith our region of North Lanarkshire, but the horn had stopped working on my car. For some reason, the garage wouldn’t come to me, so I had to drive there. Still, technically we were breaking the rules. We were being rebels. ‘Rebels without a clue’ as Tom Petty sang.

The car was only in the garage for about 45minutes in which time they fixed the horn (loose connection) gave it a full checkup, counted the wheels, then washed it and sanitised it too. I think I may loosen another wire in a few weeks time, nothing too serious or dangerous and take it in again to get it fixed and hope it will be washed again. There’s a Scottish expression, “Why have a dug and bark yersel’ ?” In other words, If someone is willing to do the work for you, why should you do it?

Since we felt we had good reason to be in Stirling and since we’d be passing Waitrose on our way home, it would have been foolish not to take the opportunity to visit, just for a few minutes. So, a ‘few minutes’ later and a fair few quid lighter we drove home with three very full bags of ‘essentials’. We were just discussing our visit on the way home and we reckon it might be about six months since we’ve been to Stirling! Hopefully we’ll get back soon.

After lunch I cooked some stew that had been in the freezer for far too long, added a three pork sausages and two chopped onions to the mix and poured in half a bottle of Newcastle Brown. Brought the whole thing to the boil then set it to simmer gently for as long as it takes. Scamp was staying home being sensible because it was getting a bit wet outside, but I took the Sony with the long Tamron zoom and went over to St Mo’s to bother the frogs, probably for one last time. It was actually a chance to test out the lens in manual focus mode and it worked quite well. That’s why there’s another frog photo in this blog. This time it’s the PoD.

That was about all we did today. Stew was ok, but the meat was a bit stringy and tough in places. Scamp says it was just the cut of beef that was at fault, not my cooking. I’m happy to take her word for it.

By the way, Hazy.  Fred was quite dismissive about the actual Beverly Brook.  Here’s his reply “Donald it looks a bit shallow, if you look at the banks it could put a couple of feet on it.”  Some people have no sense of the magic of a place!

The wind is returning again and driving more rain into the front window. It’s supposed to get worse in the early hours of Thursday before it calm down a bit during the day. We might just manage a dry spell when we can go out for a walk.

Sunshine in small doses – 9 March 2021

Sunshine in more ways than one.  Then wind and rain later. Typical Scottish weather.

The day was calm for most of the time, but this evening there’s a wind howling around the house. But there was a little sunshine in the afternoon, when Her Majesty the Nicola made her proclamation that groups of four people two households may meet in the open from Friday. Why do we have to wait until Friday? Because Nicola says so, of course!

We didn’t have much to do today and although it was fairly dry there was just the hint that drizzly rain would catch you if you went out. I went out in the afternoon to go for a circuit or two of St Mo’s and then extend the walk in the direction of the shops to get some veg for tonight’s dinner.

I had read some suggestions for the Tamron long zoom’s problems. It appears the drive motor in the camera may be failing, which would account for the squeal that comes from it when I switch on. I’m not sure if that’s the reason or not. I’m thinking it might be more a fault in the adapter. It was a real cheapo one and not very well quoted. However, another old lens I have, a Sigma works quite happily with the adapter. Also, and probably the most telling, is the number of repair tutorials on YouTube for that lens. My plan now is to visit Val and get him to try it on the old Nikon D70 he has. If the lens works on that, it’s the adapter that’s at fault and I can happily sell it. If it doesn’t work on the D70 it’s probably the lens that’s at fault and I might as well bin it. It’s costing me nothing just now, so I’ll leave it be for a while.

So, off I went to visit the frogs again today armed with the new Sigma macro which worked quite well yesterday, but as backup I carried my old Oly M1 with a 200mm lens. I got a few shots of the cavorting frogs with both cameras. In the end it was a picture of some Cladonia lichen that got PoD, but because you are such patient and devoted readers, here’s my favourite frog pic of the day. I called it “The Voyeurs.”

Dinner tonight was a stir fry and I enjoyed it, but it had egg noodles in it and Scamp doesn’t like noodles, preferring rice. My fault. I bought the noodles.

We watched another excruciating episode of Drawers Off tonight. I may have to give up on this week’s episodes. None of the participants have the faintest idea how structure a painting. I realise it’s ‘edutainment’, but it should have at least one foot in reality.

Tomorrow we have an early(ish) rise because we’re off, illegally crossing county boundaries so I can hopefully get the horn on my car fixed at the Nissan garage, with the possibility of a little drop-in at Waitrose on the way home, because we’re almost there anyway.

Frogs – 8 March 2021

Hundreds of them. All of them, it seemed, busy making more frogs.

The day started wet, but we watched the weather monitor (the birdbath) carefully and eventually when the ripples from the raindrops disappeared, we knew we had a window of dry weather.

Without waiting for second bidding, we were out and walking down to the shops. It’s not a very exciting task, a walk to the shops, but it’s a measure of the boredom we all feel that this everyday occurrence becomes the highlight of the day. The visit was successfully completed and lunch was served.

I went out for a walk after lunch and that’s where I saw the frogs. The pond was bulging with them, all with one thing on their minds, making babies. Well, eventually there will probably little froglets, but the frogspawn was being laid down thickly today. The frogs were too far away for a decent image with the kit lens I had, so I went back to get the long zoom. However, either it or the adapter, or more likely both were having a hissy fit and the lens just wouldn’t autofocus. I gave up in disgust and went back with the macro which is longer than the kit lens, but considerably shorter than the zoom. The result of which is the lack of any good frog photos for PoD. Instead I have promoted the arty photo of some catkins to that spot. Tomorrow, if I get a dry spell, I’m hoping to take the recalcitrant combo of lens and adapter and use them in manual focus mode to grab the shot of the frogs for tomorrow’s PoD. No promises, just a possible work around. One last thought on Frogs before I leave the subject for today: If you’re reading this on computer, you can click on a link on the right hand side for “A Year Ago Today”.  If you navigate from there to the 8th March 2020, you will find how predictable frogs can be.

We had ‘white pasta’ (Fusilli a la Carbonara) for dinner, but on Val’s recommendation, I used Pecorino cheese instead of Parmesan. Scamp said it tasted different but neither better nor worse. I didn’t like it so much as the usual parmesan. Pecorino is much milder and creamier than parmesan. Maybe next time I’ll use a mixture.

Fred phoned me tonight and we talked for an hour or so about various topics including politics and the new comedy series “Drawers Off” where five amateur ‘artists’ take turns at being a partially nude model for the others to paint or draw. Last week was quite interesting, but not quite the quality of art I expected. Tonight’s was just cringe worthy, both Fred and I agreed on that. If you want to see what I mean take a look. It’s only a half hour slot and being at 5.30pm on C4 there’s nothing to scare the horses, except perhaps the final ‘art works’.

Tomorrow looks like wind and rain which might be fine for the frogs, but not so good for the photography. We’ll just have to take it as it comes. Oh yes, and we might hear an announcement from Her Majesty the Nicola about a slight loosening of the rules governing group meeting outdoors.

Christmas Prezzies … already – 28 October 2020

Today we were off to collect some Christmas Prezzies that Scamp had ordered.

I usually complain about the condensing of the year. You know the sort of thing. After the schools go back in August the first Xmas cards start appearing. We’ve hardly got Christmas and New Year out of the way and the Easter Eggs are on the shelves. However, Christmas prezzies in October is just good planning, Scamp says. We found the place, just a normal house in an everyday street where the maker lived. That’s the way things are now. Ideas are seen online. Discussions are done and prices agreed on Messenger. Purchases are made online and items are collected from the maker’s home. I suppose it’s better than using Amazon, and at least we are supporting small businesses, which is a good thing.

With that done we drove up to a retail park in Bishopbriggs. Probably as close as you could get to the diametric opposite of the small business we had just left. I attempted some visual retail therapy in Currys, which was a waste of time because there were so few pieces of tech on the shelves. Another loser to the online market place. The problem with that approach is where to you find someone to advise you on a purchase? Where is there a salesperson you can trust to give you sound advice? The other question you should ask yourself is “Would I buy my item from that salesperson, knowing that I can get a better deal by logging on to Amazon?” It’s the old chicken and egg quandary. Scamp got what she wanted. I got what I deserved. Then we went for coffee in Costa and drove home after using up our allocation of 30 mins.

Soup for lunch, then I went out to St Mo’s to get some photos in the two hour window the weather app said I’d get. The sun almost came out and the Larches shone in the unexpected light. They surprise me every year with their bright yellow needles. I also has that strange vision of snowflakes, walking down the avenue of trees with the yellow needles blowing in the wind and looking just like snow. A branch of a larch with its bright needles still attached and a pinecone too made PoD.

Just before dinner while I was working on the PoD and Scamp was reading, someone knocked on the door. It was the Tesco delivery! We’d completely forgotten about it. Rushed to empty the crates and let the driver get on his way. Dinner was one of Scamp’s specialities, Stir-fry. This was a Chicken Stir-fry with all the fancy veg. Quite delicious.

Sketch of the day was Float. I’d decided about a week ago that today’s drawing centre around a fishing float. It looked a bit dull, just a view of a fishing float from below, so I searched for sort of cartoon drawings of fish and adapted one of them to add to the sketch, then added a few rocks and sand on the bottom of the water. That brightened it up. I’m happy with it.

That was about it for the day. These autumn days are so short now. We really should get up and out early to make the most of them. We watched the first episode of Roadkill. We’re both still undecided about it. We’ve another episode recorded and we may watch it tomorrow. Tomorrow however we are booked for a full day of wind and rain, which seems to happen about every second day just now.

An almost wasted day – 12 October 2020

Today was wet.

Not thumping down torrential wet, more a smirr that strengthened to a drizzle, then returned to a smirr again. Almost turned itself off to catch the unwary before continuing again as a slightly heavier drizzle. Look, just give us a soaking and be done with it, but no it was lazy rain.

I was struggling with the Sony website today. I have never seen such a convoluted piece of badly written HTML. Ok, Hazy I hear you, nobody uses HTML any more, but the coding on that site is horrendous. Captchas, don’t talk to me about Captchas. Those infuriating “Prove you’re not a robot” nine picture grids where you have to identify ‘crosswalks’. I live in Scotland you moron, we don’t have crosswalks. We don’t even have happywalks these days. Eventually got through the maze of crosswalks, bicycles, school buses and traffic lights, only to be told “There’s been a problem”. No kidding, a problem eh? On this magnificent piece of artistic code, there’s been a problem. The only reason I was there was to download a shitty app that didn’t work because it needed another piece of code that it wanted me to download after I’d signed into another webpage. What, and go through all that Captcha nonsense again? I think not. Sony I know none of your grunts are reading this, but you really need to employ humans to do your coding. The monkeys you have just now are simply messing you about.

There, that’s got that out of my system. By the time I’d given up on Sony and had lunch the clouds were lifting, literally, the clouds outside the window were lifting. I went out to buy some milk and got today’s PoD on the way back as the sun came out. It’s pretty good, but it would have been better if I’d remembered to set the ISO back to a reasonably 400 rather than the 6400 I’d been using for practise earlier. Still, it shows the power of a full frame sensor. Every year I promise myself I won’t shoot the golden leaves we get in autumn. Every year I give in to the temptation, and so it was this year. Low, warm coloured sun just lights everything up and I’m lost in it.

Sketch prompt today was ’Slippery’. I almost gave up and did my own thing, because I’m beginning to hate these vague prompts. Too airy fairy for me. However for another day I stuck to the script and drew a frog. They don’t come much more slippery than a frog, unless they’re an MP. I think I prefer frogs. You know where you are with a frog.

That was about it for today. Tomorrow I hope we’ll go out somewhere for a walk in the autumn sun and I’ll forget about Captchas and the ISO will be set to something sensible, maybe even Auto, and we can enjoy the light. Before that, I’m booked for coffee with Val.