Climbing and Flying – 1 September 2021

The assault on Croy Hill, the reverse direction.

Scamp suggested we go and visit Silvanus, the Roman warrior’s head that stands on the edge of Croy Hill, and instead of walking the usual path from Croy itself, we could walk along the canal and up on to the old railway line and tackle the hill from the north. It was a beautiful morning with blue skies and sun, so the walk seemed like a good idea, but first I wanted a closer look at a plane.

We’ve seen and heard a Spitfire flying around the town and I wanted a closer look. With that thought in mind we drove up to Wardpark and past the airfield, but saw no evidence of the old warbird. Disappointed I drove over to Kilsyth and from there to Auchinstarry where we parked and put on sensible walking boots for the walk.

I’d forgotten just how steep the climb was from the canal up to the old mineral line, but thankfully once we had reached that path, most of the hard work was done and we were on level ground for a stretch. The statue of Silvanus was much further along than we remembered, but as we were walking I could hear the sound of the Spitfire’s Merlin engines although I couldn’t see the plane itself. I checked with Flightradar24 and found that the plane was almost over Carron Reservoir, about 5 miles away. The sound of the plane faded as it dropped behind the hills. We walked on and as we neared the statue we could hear it returning. This time, with the help of Flightradar I found it heading straight for us. I took a few photos of it before it banked and overflew the airfield before climbing and performing a neat slow roll. Then it turned and headed back with flaps and undercarriage down. A few more photos before it disappeared over the hill to the airfield. I wasn’t sure I’d captured it, but at least it was better than nothing. A little bit of research at home led me to its website. You can book a flight in this two seater Spitfire. £3,000 will get you a 30 min flight in this old lady, which is five years older than me. I may have to save my pennies for a long time before I book that flight!

We met a bloke at the statue who was a Kilsyth local and was impressed that he’d ID’d the Spitfire. He wasn’t a fan of the Silvanus head, but like us was pleased that it hadn’t been vandalised in the time it had been up on the hill. We said our goodbyes and headed up over the hill while he seemed to take a lower path. I must admit I was wary of the hill because we’d passed notices to say that the cattle were back on the hill for the winter. These cattle are big brutes, if I remember right and I don’t like cattle at the best of times. “The best of times “ being when there’s a fence between them and me. There are no fences on Croy Hill. However we didn’t meet any today and we took the ‘easier’ paths where they were available, missing out the tourist routes over the tops.

When we had passed the top and were coming down the other side I realises Scamp wasn’t behind me. I walked back, expecting to find her having a seat somewhere. She was nowhere to be seen. I shouted for her, twice, but no response. I changed to a wider path that was closer to the edge and there she was. Did she not hear me shouting? Yes, she had. That could have been a time to pick up a ‘black monkey’, but for some reason I didn’t lose it. I think I was just glad to see she hadn’t come to any harm. She said she was on the right path and knew I’d eventually realise I was on the wrong one. That could be the story of my life!

When we got back to the car it was absolutely boiling inside. Drove home with the air con on full. It was lovely.

I spent the afternoon cleaning the sensors of the two Sonys. They seem to be absolute dust magnets. They are a bit cleaner now. Not perfect, but a lot better than they were. After that I got a request from Jamie to fix a photo for Sim. It was a fairly easy bit of editing, made even easier by the new Photoshop. Scamp was cleaning up the leaves in the back garden and managed to scrape both arms raking leaves from under the blackcurrant bush. Then it was Guinness and Pimms time in the garden, in the sun.

Fish & Fried Potatoes with tomatoes for dinner. A new twist on Fish & Chips. After that we sat in the garden while I listened to the end of my Alan Parks book, Bobby March Will Live Forever. Good story with a poor reader. It was there I got PoD. I was looking at a wee single sweet pea flower backlit by the setting sun. It took a wee bit of editing to get it looking like my eyes saw it, but that’s what Lightroom excels at.

A quick practise tonight. Just about half an hour at the most, but we covered Tango, Waltz, Cha Cha and Bossa Nova in that time.

Tomorrow Scamp is intending to go for lunch with Isobel, June and Ian. I’m hopefully meeting Val for coffee in a different place, but at almost at the same time. Scamp and I will be able to compare and contrast our experiences!

And the answer was …! – 15 May 2021

Beecraigs Park

Scamp was in agreement and off we drove to Linlithgow where we climbed (in the car) up a never-ending hill with speed bumps every 50m or less for an astounding 1,030m. If you do the division, you will discover that’s a helluva lot of speed bumps. Probably quite useful for boy racers coming down that hill, especially at night. However for me going up it was literally a pain in the bum. Eventually we drove into a mono-blocked and grassed parking place. Neither of us remembered this. We walked through and down to the Information Centre which I thought I remembered, but then realised it was much newer that it looked at first glance. Great panorama from the viewing gallery down to Linlithgow itself and across the Forth to Fife. This wasn’t the Beecraigs we remembered.

We walked down the road past the new caravan park and found the entrance to the park proper. This was more like it. What looked like a pedestrian bridge reminiscent of the old walkways over the lines at railway stations took us over the deer fence and on to the wide paths between the fields. The bridge, too, gave great views over the Forth, but where were the deer. There were cattle in the park where the deer used to roam. We found the deer further down the path, just hind, although the sign said there were stags in the field. If there were any the were cunningly disguised as hinds. We walked on.

Further along the path we came to the Loch. At least that hadn’t changed significantly, although because of Covid restrictions the two man rowing boats for fishing the loch were securely locked up in a pound. I suppose it’s hard to keep a two metre distance in a wee rowing boat. The geese and their goslings didn’t seem too bothered with the two meter rule.  They were too busy teaching the youngsters to swim and to feed properly.  It was good walking the paths through the enormous pine trees round the loch. They do say the air blowing through pines is good for your respiration. Our biggest disappointment in this new, ecologically friendly and Health & Safety conscious park was the children’s adventure playground. What had been an enormous pyramid constructed from ropes and bungee cords was now a shadow of its former self. I don’t know if you remember it JIC, but I don’t think you’d have felt a daredevil climbing that. With that said, lots of weans were screaming and shouting as they found their own adventures in this playground.

We eventually found our way back to the car and drove home down that steep hill with its uncountable speed bumps. We agreed we’d go back again. PoD turned out to be a goose standing proud in the loch. It seemed almost prehistoric to me.  I can’t explain why.  It was a close run thing between that and a monochrome shot across the Forth with the bridges on the right. It’ll be on Flickr as soon as I can get it loaded.

Dinner tonight came courtesy of Golden Bowl. Scamp had her usual Chicken Chop Suey and Fried Rice. I had Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls. Maybe my last one because the sweetness was just too much for me and I felt a bit ill afterwards. Chicken Chow Mein in future.

Short practise of the Cha-Cha tonight, mainly because we got the video of it today. Sketch topic was Medicines and my two bottles and a tube are here for your perusal. Glad you liked yesterday’s socks Hazy and recognised both your handiwork and also your repair!

Tomorrow, if the weather allows, we may go for a walk.

Out early and out of North Lanarkshire – 31 March 2021

We’d planned to go out today, driving and walking if the weather permitted and it did, so we did too!

We drove to Chatelherault in Hamilton or Fernigair to be more exact. I was never in Fernigair, I only passed it in the bus coming home from work in Cambuslang. I must have passed it going to work too, but I was probably half asleep then. I remember that all the houses were wooden framed and painted dark brown. Now they’ve all gone and been replaced by the tiny chicken box houses that cost a fortune and become too small for a growing family which forces them to buy a bigger chicken box somewhere else. And so the money goes round.

Chatelherault was then a private estate, owned by the landed gentry and mere proles like us were not permitted to even see their grand house behind its big stone wall. Nowadays anyone can tramp round their once private estate and that was our intention today. Last night we planned our route. We’d take the low path from the ‘Big House’ down through the forest and along beside the river to the ‘White Bridge’, then climb the steps to the high path and from there back to the car. That was the plan. Plans are a great idea. Even better is ignoring them.

The walk started well and there was just the hint of blue sky breaking through the clouds. What’s more, it was quite warm. Not South of England, 24º warm, but nearer 12º Scottish warm. We wandered along the path through the trees and listened to the Avon flowing beside us on the right and to the waterfalls coursing down the side of the glen on the left. Of course I just had to try a slow shutter shot (or five) of the waterfalls. The path was fairly dry which was good because I’d worn my Merrell blotting paper boots. Their only good point is the grips on the soles that are much better at preventing slips than the polished soles of the Clarks boots. Now if I could only remove the soles from the Merrells and glue them onto the Clarks boots I’d have the ideal walking boots. Even better, if Nic the Chick would let Tiso open up sooner, I’d be able to buy a pair of boots the equal of my Frankenstein invention.

Back to the path. The path meanders horizontally and also vertically which makes it much more interesting than any road or asphalt path. Parts of it are almost straight and the gradient is gentle, but that’s because the path is following the route of an old mineral railway line. After that line ended we had to climb steps over a rocky part and then it was down the other side and we were almost at the White Bridge. There is a tubular metal barrier across the path at that point and a sign saying PATH CLOSED. The amount of boot marks and paw prints gave the lie to that notice, so we to ignored them. We both knew that the White Bridge was no longer there. Only the pillars remain. Scamp wasn’t happy with clambering over a gap in the boardwalk that would take us to the remains of the bridge and to be honest, neither was I, but I did it and came back without injury.

We discussed our best path back to the car and decided not to climb the steps to the high path, but rather take a fork in the path we’d seen on the way there, that would take us to the Old Avon Bridge. We found the fork without any trouble and followed the path below the Duke’s bridge and after a few hundred yards were at another decision. Do we follow the path to the Old Bridge or take a path up the side of the glen to the Big House. We chose the latter and it was a tough climb. A rest halfway up gave us time to catch our breath and we continued on to meet yet another level of path. From there I could see the avenue at the front of the house. It was an easy ramble from there along past the White Park cattle the estate is famed for and on to the car for a slice of orange, then home.

After we’d had lunch and I’d inspected the photos. I took a walk over to St Mo’s partly to get some more ammunition for a PoD and partly to stretch my legs. The photos didn’t really materialise, but my legs felt better for the stretching.

PoD became the photo of the Duke’s Bridge taken at the start of the walk. About seven miles walked and according to my Fitbit 16,000 steps and 69 sets of stairs climbed. Unfortunately, only 7 out of 8 active hours. The Fitbit is never satisfied!

Saw some Wood Anemones and bright yellow Celandine on our walk. Also smelled Wild Garlic which will always be called Stinking Ingins. (ingins is Scots for onions). I should have foraged some to make pesto.

Hopefully a more gentle day tomorrow. Maybe another leg stretching walk in store.

A walk in the woods – 6 March 2021

Different woods.

It being a beautiful morning, Scamp was raring to go out … somewhere … anywhere. By the time we did get out the sun had disappeared and the clouds were sliding in. Those same milky white clouds that have dogged us all week. We walked down to Broadwood Loch and followed the path clockwise, which like yesterday was against the natural flow of people on the Broadwood Bravelator. Again we took the first available exit and walked through the woods where we found a single deer, a hind, grazing beside Orchardton Pond. It stood for a few minutes inspecting us before it returned to its grazing. It was not in the least fazed by these humans pointing things at it. I suppose it must get used to the people walking along this path. I’m sure it wouldn’t be so happy being next to the Broadwood Travelator.

We left the deer to its breakfast and walked deeper into the woods following a winding path between the trees which eventually brought us back to the main path where we continued to walk against the flow until we were back on familiar ground along the ‘exercise machines’ path and from there back up the hills to home. My back was aching carrying one small and one big camera. I really have to be more sensible about these things. One camera is enough with a couple of lenses, but not the great weight of the 105mm macro or the old 70-300mm tele. A walk is no fun when you’re carrying a heavy load. Anyway, I’d pointed a piece of glass at a deer and got a few shots, one of which I was certain would make a decent PoD. As it was, there were quite a few decent shots, but I settled on this shot of the deer hind as my PoD.

Exercise over for the day, I settled down to finish yesterday’s Sudoku and then to select eight photos to send with my bi-monthly (that is every second month, not twice a month) email to my brother. Actually I was running a bit late this time as ‘Every Day in February’ had stolen away so much time. That took most of the remaining afternoon and is in fact, just posted!

Dinner tonight was courtesy of Bombay Dreams which is soldiering on as a delivery service. Quite the best Indian food in Cumbersheugh by a long way and enormous portions. Also the hottest Rogan Josh I’ve had anywhere and the squeakiest Paneer that Scamp has eaten. Half of it was consumed tonight and the remainder we’ll keep until tomorrow, possibly for dinner tomorrow night.

A gentle dance practise tonight just to make sure we (for ’we’ read ’I’) remember it for tomorrow’s lesson. I got both the rumba and the waltz correct … second time around. That was quite good for me. We were both happy with it.

Tomorrow looks like rain. I doubt if a walk will be on the cards, but you never know.

Dances with Wolves – 25 February 2021

Honestly, it will all become clear

It was a lovely morning which we kind of wasted by sitting inside. We had a webinar booked with the man from Falkirk. There is the risk that listening to someone who is so steeped in his subject may turn out to be heavy in jargon and ultimately tedious. No fear of that with this twosome. Both he and his sidekick explained the intricacies of the financial world in simple terms, leavened with a fair amount of humour. He and his female counterpart would make excellent teachers.

By the time we were through and had returned to the here and now, it was almost lunchtime so we had our toasted cheese and listened to Nic the Chick twisting and turning, trying to make everyone believe she’s squeaky clean. Now I much prefer the Sturgeon to the Salmond, but neither of them are to be believed. As my pal John would say, “You know they’re lying because their lips are moving.” That sums up politics and politicians as far as I’m concerned. To clear our heads we went for a walk.

We needed food for dinner, so we walked down to the shops, via St Mo’s because the weather was still good, if not as bright as it had been earlier. Came home laden with more than we had intended getting, but who’s counting how many cakes we need?

Today’s prompt was “Wolf” and since there are no wolves near where we live, I resorted to Google to find some likely subjects. With half a dozen chosen I dumped them into Google Drive and sat down to finish today’s Sudoku. Then I dumped some kidney beans, some chilli paste and a few hot peppers in yesterday’s bolognese and voila we have a chilli for tonight’s dinner. Scamp was having fish with veg and rice, so we agreed to half the rice between us and dinner was sorted. Mine was a bit tasteless, but boy it was hot. Wish I’d bought some sour cream at the shops.

After dinner had slid down, we attempted Stewart and Jane’s waltz Spin Turn. I tried it in my dancing shoes, but the didn’t slide enough on the carpet. I tried it in my sox, but the gripped the carpet too. I didn’t trust my bare feet to Scamp’s dancing shoes, but the most help was Scamp’s count of the beats and also slowing down Stewart and Jane’s tutorial video to 75%. I even found how to use iMovie to slow the video but not distort the speech. Perfect. Well, as close to perfect as we were going to get tonight.

I’d already sorted out PoD which is some Cladonia lichen with a little moss tree making a macro garden of sorts. Looks totally alien to me as most macro shots do. It’s a miniature world of its own. Time to tackle that wolf. I glanced at some tutorials on YouTube that promised methods for drawing realistic wolf heads, but most of them were from influencers who just shout at you and then stumble through 25 minutes of ‘tutorial’ with about 5 minutes of content. After suffering a few of these, I took my sketchpad and pencils up stairs, turned the heater on low and had a good look at the wolf pictures I’d found on Google. From them I built up a framework of a dog-like head and from there stretched out some parts and reduced others until a lupine head appeared. A little bit of yellow watercolour for the eye and we were done.

Tomorrow the weather looks settled, so I think we’ll try a drive somewhere with a flask of coffee and a couple of pieces. A February picnic.


Sunshine for our anniversary – 17 February 2021

Forty eight years ago we tied the knot and the knot is still tight forty eight years later.

I actually got a message from Parcel Force to give me a one hour time slot for the delivery of my new lens. It wasn’t an anniversary present. Nothing to do with anniversary. Pure coincidence this time. The time slot was for 11.45 – 12.45. Right in the middle of what looked like a good day, but of course they got the time wrong. About 10.15 there was a knock at the door and there was a parcel on the doorstep with a Parcel Force man retreating.

After opening up the big box and extracting quite a heavy piece of metal and glass, taking a few photos, just to make sure it worked, we planned the rest of the day. We had dinner to buy at Tesco and meds to collect at the next door chemist, then we might go for a spin out in a world that had colour, not simply white.

It was when we left Tesco I thought we might go to Motherwell, the Capital city of North Lanarkshire and find Baron’s Haugh which is a nature reserve and parkland where my brother was taken loads of great photos.
So … we were heading for a nature reserve with plenty of opportunities for nature and macro photography and I remembered, just as we were driving down the slip road to the motorway, that I’d left my brand new macro lens at home, because when we left we’d intended to tootle round Cumbersheugh for half an hour and there would be limited photo opportunities there that I hadn’t already made use of. Numpty.

The reason for Baron’s Haugh in particular was because of a FB post from one of the salsa beginners from last year, berating me for being less than complimentary about Motherwell in general. She waxed lyrical about Baron’s Haugh and we though we should give it a try sometime. We got there after only one wrong turn (sat nav hadn’t a clue for once) and had a half hour walk past one of the bird watching areas in the sunshine although the wind was cold. We were standing on a crossroads of paths and I was checking exactly where we were with the OS map on my phone when a deer ran past, then another and another. In total, four deer ran past, less than 50m away. Motherwell is certainly a lot more rural than I remember it. We walked back to the car, but didn’t see any more wild animals and drove home, agreeing to go back again, better prepared for the conditions. Isn’t it strange that it took a Polish girl about the same age as our daughter to tell us about this parkland, almost on our doorstep.  Thank you Mirka!

Dinner tonight was individual fish pies from Tesco. Sounds a bit downmarket for an anniversary dinner, but they were rather posh fish pies in little thin wooden baskets and were baked in the oven. Washed down with a very nice bottle of white and followed by Eve’s Pudding from M&S. The only thing we made (Scamp made) was bruschetta as a starter and it too was intensely tasty.

We listened to Album II by Loudon Wainwright III (Me and my friend the Cat!) and reminisced for the second time recently. A great day.

PoD was a fence post covered in ivy from our Motherwell walk.

I used coloured pencils for today’s prompt of “Violin”. Not quite what I was intending it to look like. A bit clumsy but a change from paints and graphite or ink sketches. It’s OK, that’s all I’ll say.

The other day I almost cut my hair. “… It was getting kind of long. Could have said it was in my way, but I didn’t and I wonder why …” Tomorrow I may do that thing.

As you will have guessed this is another catch up. Hopefully the last for a while.

Oh no, more snow – 8 February 2021

We woke to a white world today.

No more piling, this was real snow and a fair amount of it too. At first the air was clear, but soon the wind dragged more clouds from the east and they began to drop their load of snow, driven along by that same wind. Soon we could watch a full strength blizzard outside the window. We agreed that it would be best to wait a while before we went out for a walk.

Later when a few blizzards had blown through, the skies cleared and the sun shone. We gave it another fifteen minutes or so before we dared to get the boots on and go for that walk. However, it was not to be a long walk today, just in case the snow returned.

We need not have worried because the snow was kind enough to stay away long enough for us to complete our walk. I did get today’s PoD which was my favourite wild flower, the Cow Parsley holding little pockets of snow in its talons. The sun shining through the trees gave a bit of dappled light to brighten up the background and the wind was calm enough to prevent too much movement. I used the old Sigma 105mm macro lens for it. It’s more or less a manual lens now. It has no internal motor, so cannot autofocus which is a great disadvantage for a macro lens. However, it still takes exceedingly good photographs for its age. It’s definitely Old Glass.

Back home and after lunch which was Scamp’s minestrone soup, with lemons (!), I started to rough out today’s sketch for which the prompt was “Puppy”. The first rough looked good and assured me that I could do this. I’m not a great fan of dogs which is what puppies grow up to be, so I’m told. Cats I’m ok with, but not dogs. But that’s why I enjoy I enjoy drawing from lists on groups like EDiF and 28DL. It forces me to face my demons, even if the demons are puppies. The thing to remember is that you’re not drawing or painting a fluffy puppy, you’re just drawing a shape and shading it to give some 3D appearance to it. I liked the finished result.

While I was puppy drawing, Scamp was baking. She was making a Sticky Toffee Pudding. I did help out a bit. I was in charge of liquidising the dates and water mixture that would go into the pudding. It looked absolutely disgusting. However I must say that the finished article was worth all that messy stuff. Probably not the least fattening food I’ve eaten, but it was disgustingly good!

Although we had our walk in a snowy landscape this morning without any of the white stuff falling from the sky, during the afternoon it made up for that with continuous blustery blizzards. Tonight it’s continuing to drop more snow on us. I’m really glad we’re not intending to go anywhere tomorrow.

A day for recharging batteries – 31 January 2021

After the biz of yesterday, we both agreed we needed a slower pace today.

We did think of going out for a walk in the morning, but although it was bright enough, it was cold and there was a scattering of snow on  the ground, so we talked ourselves out of it. I think I might have eaten just a little too much yesterday, so a light lunch was called for. On Friday I’d bought half a sourdough loaf I don’t really like sourdough bread to eat on its own, but toasted it is delicious, so we had scrambled egg on toast.

Feeling a lot better, I settled down to documenting yesterday’s highlights. My usual readers will probably have read all about it by now. Scamp was pruning the greenery that was covering some of the blooms we got yesterday and that made the display look even better. With photos and blog posted, I decided it was safe to go for a walk in St Mo’s. Nobody had moved from their parking spot today and I was loathe to give up my space and have to park by the side of the road when I got back from somewhere more interesting than St Mo’s. Besides, I’d left it a bit late and the light was already fading.

I walked round the pond, then out through the woodland looking for likely subjects. I wanted to try out a new focusing method on the Sony, called “Back Button Focusing”. I’d read about it before, but it seemed a bit complicated to set up although most photogs seem happy with the results. Basically, you nominate a button to be your focusing button and remove the shutter button’s ability to refresh focus. Then you can take your time focusing using the back button and when you’re happy, press the shutter to take the photo. It only took me about ten minutes to set it up and it did seem to work as described. I took some photos using it, but couldn’t work out how to return the setup to the camera default where a half press on the shutter sets focus. I decided the light was fading too much and I was almost sure I had at least one shot on the card that would make PoD, so I set off for home.  It had indeed worked. Most of the photos I’d take were solidly in focus. After re-reading the instructions I found the magic button on the camera that would not only return it to normal service, but could be used to switch on the Back Button Focusing again. PoD turned out to be a monochrome leaf dangling pitifully from a branch with new buds starting to form. The old and the new.

After yesterday’s overindulgence, tonight’s dinner was a much pared down affair. A simple Spaghetti a la Carbonara. It might have been even better if I’d cooked the spaghetti properly, but it was edible.

Dancing class tonight centred on the rumba routine we’d been learning and I’d been dreading. We had a practise before the class and it was going fine until the music started, then it went to pot. However by the end of the lesson it was looking and feeling much better. I actually enjoyed it.

Spoke to JIC and found out that Vixen now has an injured shoulder, caused, according to JIC, by her having two speeds, Full Ahead and Stop. After being out walks with her I can understand that.

A gentler G&T each tonight and an early(ish) bed again. Temperature is already heading towards zero. More snow predicted for tomorrow, the first day of February and the start of the 28 Drawings Later challenge on FB.

The Bin Man and The Girls – 25 January 2021

Today I was a bin man. Not for us, but for my niece, although a few of our empty bottles went along for the ride.

Our niece was having problems getting her rubbish collected and she asked me to help her out. It wasn’t really a problem. She’d done all the hard work of sorting into different bags. I was just the transport to the council skips. For once there was no queue and no need to check proof of residential status. Just an “Ok buddy. Go right in.” Shona had done a good job of sorting all the paper, cardboard, general waste and glass. All I had to do was chuck the bags in the skips, empty the paper in the bins and the cardboard into the hopper for the crusher. Then the good bit, smashing the bottles in the big steel boxed with the rubber seals over the openings. I just love that smashing sound. Someone once told me that it’s only men who have a fascination with bonfires and throwing anything into them that isn’t bolted down. The same is true with water. Women want to walk beside it. Men want to throw things into it. Apparently it’s the same with recycling centres. Men love throwing empty bottles into those boxes to hear the smash. It’s some primal instinct.

With that done I drove up to Fannyside to see The Girls. The sheep, some white, some black who live in a field up there. The last time Scamp and I were there, the sheep stood for ages, like statues, watching us. Today they were more interested in their lunch which the farmer had just served. I took their photo anyway, because I knew they expected it. Nice backdrop of the Campsie Fells and their light covering of snow with cloud shadows giving some added 3D effects. On the way back I stopped to grab a shot of an old ruined farm which, according to the OS map is Jawhill. It’s very picturesque and would be even more so if it wasn’t for those bloody wind farms behind it, two different ones. Blots on the landscape.

Stopped at Tesco on the way home for food. Veg for soup and also milk and bread. When I got home, and after lunch, Scamp went out on a foraging mission armed with her shopping voucher from the Office for National Statistics and Oxford Uni. We had decided that we’d both use half our money to buy food for the local food banks and half we’d keep. Seems only fair. She returned looking pleased with herself. Half of her first payment now gracing the food bank donation box in Tesco. My turn later in the week.

It was Burn Night tonight and it’s traditional in this house to have Haggis, Neeps (which my spellchecker doesn’t understand) and Tatties (which it does!). So that was dinner sorted. Scamp was cooking. I was footering about with today’s photos. ‘The Ladies’ won PoD as I knew they would and should.

It started snowing about an hour ago and it’s still hard at it. I expect it will be mostly gone by tomorrow because it’s forecast to turn to rain later, but then again, they might get it completely wrong. We can only wait and see. If the weather is decent we might go for a walk.

The Ladies – 15 December 2020

Parcels to send today. Going down south by different routes.

Parcels loaded into the car this morning and off to post them. One going by Royal Mail because the postman knows where our son and his wife live. One going by DPD because they are cheaper. It’s a race then. Which one wins. Which one gets there quickest. We’ll find out later in the week, hopefully.

With the heavy posting done, it was time for a drive into the wilds. The wilds of Fannyside Moor. It was a beautiful morning with blue sky and just a little cloud or two. Once we got there we just sat in the car and listened. Listened to nothing. Just the distant sound of the occasional car running across the moss. That’s the peat moss, the moorland road across the peat moss. A single track road with passing places in the middle of the Central Belt in Scotland. Not ten miles from Cumbersheugh and it’s a single track road with passing places. This is the 21st century isn’t it. Anyway, we sat and listened to the radio for a while and then let the silence rule us. Perfect peace.

When we got out we found a bunch of ladies standing watching. Lady sheep, that is. Some black and some white, but all waiting and watching. Sheep have this disturbing way of looking at you that makes you think you should really turn round because something may be creeping up on you from behind. They also look as if they’re sizing you up, challenging you. Actually, I think they were just waiting for the farmer to bring their lunch. I took some photos and we walked down the road a way. Took some photos of an old ruined farmhouse and then came back. They were still there, the ladies. Still watching. Still waiting. Took some more photos and they all drifted away, bored with the show.

Drove home for lunch and Scamp went to visit her sister while I filled my birthday pen and started on the pile of unwritten Christmas cards. I got halfway through them when Scamp returned. I’d had enough of that for now, so I grabbed my camera and went to bolster my collection of photos. I needn’t have bothered. It was too late and the rain came on. I get the feeling it just waits for me some times. Came home and had a look at the photos, but as I suspected, they weren’t worth the bother. Went back to finish off the cards.

I don’t usually approve of the ‘one size fits all’ catch up ‘what we did this year’ stories that used to be all the rage at Christmas, but I decided that this year had been such a momentous one it was worthwhile cataloging it. If for nothing else, it showed our friends that they are not alone. We’ve all had a terrible year. Some worse that others, but nobody got away lightly in 2020. I’ll include it in some of the Christmas cards, just to keep folk in the loop.

Tomorrow we pay another whack of money to Royal Mail when we have to buy the second dose of stamps for this load of cards.

Tomorrow looks wet for most of the morning and early afternoon. What fun today was, though. I wonder if those sheep are still standing. Watching, Waiting.