Stuffing bags – 17 May 2022

Scamp was out this morning, early and I decided I should make a final push at stuffing things into bags.

Yes, but stuffing things into bags in such a way that I’d be able to find them again later! That took up most of the morning, by which time Scamp had returned with confetti and cards, because we’re going to a wedding, not today, thankfully, but soon.

Bag stuffing completed and purchasing completed we settled down to lunch.

With some time to spare, I wangled a 3 for today’s Wordle. Scamp wasn’t so lucky, with a 6, but at least she did get the word, which is the target to aim for some days. If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, search the interweb for Wordle and join the people driven crazy by this addictive word puzzle. It’s like the old ‘70s peg game Mastermind with a touch of Scrabble thrown in for good measure.

That entertained us for a while before we had to decide what dinner was going to be. I suggested the easy way out – get an instant curry from M&S. That seemed to hit the spot and off we went in search of that quarry. We found a couple of new curries on the shelves. Scamp chose a Prawn Bhuna and I had a Lamb Rogan Josh we also had some Onion Bhajis. We walked back up the road and Scamp volunteered to take the food home which gave me the chance of a walk round St Mo’s. Found today’s PoD near the pond. It’s an as yet unidentified spider with its dinner of a black fly. No macro lens today, so this was captured with the kit lens.

Back home with just enough time to get changed before we headed off for the last week of Jamie Gal’s little pop-up salsa class at the Fort Theatre in Bishopbriggs. Such good fun, and such a pity he doesn’t have the time to keep it going. I’ll miss the exercise on a Tuesday night.

Back home the Bhuna was too much for Scamp so I ‘helped’ her to finish it as well as my own. The verdict was that the Bhuna was just hot enough to be comfortable. The Rogan Josh was good, but needed salt and the Bhajis were just ok. At least we didn’t need to cook it.

Heavy rain tonight that is due to last through the night, leaving a better day tomorrow. Let’s hope they got it right.


Tidying up loose ends – 16 May 2022

Lots of stuff to do yet, but it’s getting clearer what’s needed and what’s not.

It was a wet morning and Scamp was out to Tesco, which gave me a chance to tidy up the back bedroom and clear a space to work on. When she came back the settee was cleared and ready.

To save time we just drove to The Fort. We were parked right next to another blue Micra. Exactly the same model and style. Twins! I wanted a book at Waterstones and she was looking for cards and gift boxes for yesterday’s gifts. I hate that work, ‘gift’. It’s so lacking in definition and emotion. I’d much rather say ‘Prezzy’, but I don’t suppose you can go into a shop and ask “Where do you keep the Prezzy boxes, please?” So that vanilla word, ‘gift’ will have to do. In Waterstones I managed to find both the books I was considering, sitting on the rack next to one another, so I bought both. One with a gift voucher (there’s that word again. I’ll call it a book token next time) and one with real money. The books were “May God Forgive” and “Bad Actors”. Met Scamp on the way back from the book shop and we drove home.

Back home it was lunch time and also time for a couple of chapters in my new Robert Pobi book “Under Pressure”which looks like another page turner. (Hazy, I don’t know if Neil has read this one, it’s the next in the sequence after “City of Windows”. Maybe you could mention to him.) I gave myself a limit of reading until 2.30 and then I had to start sorting things out after. I ended up with the settee covered again with clothes ready to go into cases. After I’d done all I could do, I grabbed a camera and two lenses and walked over to St Mo’s, hoping for some damselflies again, but there were none. The rain from the morning had disappeared and it was actually quite warm. Much warmer that the 10ºc we had going in to The Fort. I did find a big spider tending its web just by the side of the boardwalk and it became PoD. Not much light though, because those heavy rain bearing clouds were still hung overhead, so I took that as a sign to take my lucky spider shots and go home.

Dinner tonight was a bit of a mix up. Boiled some spaghetti, then cut some shallots and red pepper thin and fried them in some oil before adding some passata. While it was cooking through, griddled some slices of courgettes, aubergines and mushrooms in my ribbed pan. When the pasta was cooked I added it to the sauce and served the veg as a side. It was different and it seemed to work. This chapter is a reminder to me of how I made it.

We had a quick refresher of the “Baby” waltz, the Sweetheart Cha-Cha and the Fishtails from the quickstep.

Tomorrow is the last day of the short salsa class in Bishopbriggs. Who knows what Jamie Gal will throw into the mix!

Spider Man – 14 May 2022

That’s me!

But let’s start at the beginning. We were going to dance class this morning. Up and out by 10.15 and walking in to the clubhouse of Brookfield Bowling Club, where the dance class is on a Saturday morning, by just before 11am.

We weren’t the first on the floor today, that privilege went to a couple who had been learning the first dance for their wedding in a couple of weeks time. Usually we just wait outside and see what delights the cast offs from a Food Bank have for us. It’s a terrible shame to see such good food go to waste when greedy guts like us could eat it. The couple. They needed an audience to demonstrate to and who better to show off their dance to, than us oldies and not so oldies. We watched their routine and while not faultless, it was exceptionally good for just a few short weeks of practise.

After they left, we were on the floor. This was really a preparation for next week’s ball in Perth which we won’t be able to attend. It suited us though, because we got a chance to run through a lot of dances in a short time. Thankfully we got another chance to brush up on our Quickstep, but also the X-Line Tango, the ‘Baby’ Waltz which might be useful soon as well as the Sallyanne Cha-Cha and the Sweetheart Cha-Cha. Not a bad list of dances to cram into an hour and a half. When we left we had to navigate the ‘Boolers’ who were playing their first serious match of the year, all dressed in their bowling whites. How the groundsmen and women manage to keep that grass looking so healthy and so short is beyond me.

Drove home by way of the Clyde Tunnel which cuts off a large part of the 40mph narrow lanes while road repairs are conducted, but also the crawl up to the Kingston Bridge. So much more relaxing after a hard morning’s dancing.

I think we were exhausted after our energetic morning and just sat around for a while after lunch competing with each other for the shortest number of tries at Worldle. Scamp got 5 and I got 3, Hazy. While Scamp walked down to the shops for potatoes, I earthed up OUR potatoes. Two bags almost full of earth now and two about half full.

Later I took the Sony for a walk in St Mo’s, hoping that the heat today would encourage some damselfly activity, but although there was a fair selection of insect life, there are no damselflies as yet. Loads of Wolf Spiders, though. I watched one trying to terrorise an ant, only to be doused in what I think was formic acid from this tiny ant. I don’t think the spider will make that mistake again. A full face shot of a wolf spider made PoD.

Tomorrow we might go for a walk, maybe to Chatelherault.


Gardening – 8 May 2022

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Another beautiful day – 21 March 2022

Almost wall to wall sunshine today, although the old weather station in the living room and also my little weather device in my alarm clock were both predicting rain that never came.

It was very relaxing, doing today’s Wordle and catching up with my Sudoku and reading, with sunshine streaming in the front windows. In fact it was so relaxing, neither of us wanted to do very much at all until lunch time.

After that, Scamp went off to the shops to get some oranges and apples and I eventually got my act together and went looking for photos in St Mo’s. I managed to capture my first fly of the year and my first spider. Both separated by a couple of meters, so no insects were injured as part of the photography process. However, with a little bit of back lighting, it was a couple of leaves from a Dogwood bush that got PoD. I just liked the colours in the translucent leaves (which are really shields for the flower buds) and the textures in the background. While I was away, Scamp had returned and couldn’t just sit around, so she strimmed the grass in the front garden.

I also brought back a tick. The first this year. It is now much flatter than it was when I found it and also much deader. That’s what happens when you ignore the obvious fact that you have to keep using preventative measures. I’ll order some Smidge tonight.

Not long after I came back, the clouds started to gather and it looked like the weather stations would be right after all, but it didn’t happen. It was just a bit of light cloud the weather man said. His idea of light and mine don’t quite line up I think. These were big clumsy looking clouds, but it seems they’ve passed by now.

Tonight’s dinner was the remainder of yesterday’s veggie chilli. Scamp had added some more chilli powder and it had a better kick today. Still the best veggie chilli ever, I think.

That was our lazy day. Not a lot done, but sometimes you don’t need to do a lot. Tomorrow Scamp has an appointment with the dentist in the afternoon. Our morning is might be free.

Lost and Found – 23 January 2022

Another dull day with a little bit of sunshine.

Not a lot to report today. Scamp didn’t go out at all today, I think we were still recovering from the excesses of Friday. Also the exercise that was the dance class on Saturday morning after a late night the day before must have contributed to our ‘rather relaxed’ Sunday.

I did push myself to get out and take some photos in the afternoon, but the light wasn’t all that good. I really should have gone out in the morning. Maybe tomorrow. But back to today. I did a walk around St Mo’s and got a few shots, one of which became PoD. Earlier in the week I lost the lens hood from my little 18mm Samyang lens. Just like the skip on a cap stops the sun from shining in your eyes, a lens hood keeps the sun from shining on to the camera lens and causing light coloured blobs on the photo. They don’t look good. The lens hood I’d lost is called a ‘petal’ hood, because it looks like the petals on a flower and it’s quite small, and it’s lost!

For three days now I’ve walked the route I took round the back of St Mo’s and couldn’t find it. I was pretty sure I knew where I’d lost it, but today I tried a different tack. Instead of following the route I took, today I walked it in the other direction and surprise, surprise I found it, intact and nowhere near the spot I was sure I dropped it. It probable needs a good wash now, but apart from a little bit of dirt it’s fine. Isn’t it a great feeling when you find something you thought you’d lost.

Dinner for Scamp was two veggie sausages with potatoes and beans and for me was a burger made by my own fair hands with potatoes and beans. We both had sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Now I’ve got heartburn caused with far too much fatty meaty stuff and then an overload of sugar. It was almost worth it though.

Spoke to Jamie later and heard about a new short term trouble shooting position in the Big Apple and a 4am taxi ride to the airport tomorrow morning. Such a jet setter life style he leads!

PoD was a shot of three little seed heads from a Silver Birch. Sitting on top of the one on the right is a little spider. I only spotted it after it was loaded into the computer and viewed full size. Spiders do get everywhere.

Scamp is off to a Witches lunch in Dennyloanhead tomorrow, not as glamorous as NY, but no need for a 4am rise either!

An improving picture – 20 November 2021

A very dull start to the day, but the weather improved as the day went on.

Not the most interesting of days. A bit dull to start with, but that was before the rain came and dampened our spirits even more. I messed around with the new external SSD drive (which is bad English, because the ‘D’ in SSD actually stand for Drive, so what I’ve written in Solid State Drive drive which is nonsense and a wasteful use of the word ‘drive’. The pedant’s pedant, that’s me). I copied X-Plane to it and then ran it from there rather than from the computer’s hard disk. The difference in speed was appreciable. Loading took about a quarter the time. Clever little bit of kit, the SSD.

In the afternoon, once the sun had found a way to shine out through the cloud layer, I took the Sony out for a walk in St Mo’s. I found a little Garden Cross spider that now has a place on Flickr, but PoD was really the sky. As I came out of the woods on to the boardwalk, and I saw the sky, I knew that would be PoD. It took me quite a while to find the right spot, angle and lens for the photo. Even then I dithered for a while choosing from two different trees. I finally chose the fragile looking birch to be the focus. Hardly any post processing for once.

Back home we decided on Fish ’n’ Chips for dinner. I walked over to Condorrat about half past four and by the time I was coming back it was almost totally dark. I noticed the moon rising over the town centre and it looked like a full moon, but apparently that was last night. Still, it was glowing well over the Thunder Dome as John used to call it.

We watched the qualifying for the Quatar GP, but I’m growing tired with the politics and general bad feeling between the leaders. I’ll still watch it to see who wins, but Verstappen’s constant flouting of the rules and Hamilton’s aggression is putting me off. It’s come down to a two horse race and I wouldn’t back either of them.

Tomorrow looks better than today, so maybe we will get out for a walk. If not, a wee dance practise wouldn’t do any harm.

Dancing Central – 25 October 2021

But first the doc’s.

Drove Scamp to her appointment with the doc. The doc shook her hand, gave her a prescription for some pills and said she hoped Scamp would feel better. It was a blustery day with occasional rain showers that came thumping down, seemingly from nowhere. We drove to the chemist which is conveniently next to Tesco and while she was in the chemist, I went to get some messages then we drove home and it was just after 10am! Unluckily for Scamp she had just missed the Parcelforce man who was supposed to be delivering a parcel today. Now she’ll have to wait until tomorrow.

We had a late breakfast and I messed about with the computer for a while, bought The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker. Yes, Hazy, you talked me into it and I needed something well written after having ploughed through the latest John Connolly. I used to like his stories, but too much padding, too much history and too little story in this one. After that we watched yesterday’s F1 GP from Austin. Quite and exciting race for once with lots of action and a good finish.

After lunch it was a case of pack up your dance shoes and drive to another tea dance. This one was in Falkirk, in Central Region, hence the cryptic title to this blog. We’d been to a tea dance in Falkirk before the first lockdown, but only one, then everything shut down. That one had been in the Council Offices, but today’s was in a church hall in the centre of Falkirk. Lovely looking church with a reasonably sized hall but the bonus was the live music. A bloke playing an organ, not a keyboard, but an organ with foot pedals and stuff. Apparently he’s an opera singer, but makes a bob or two running tea dances in local churches. He was good, but hadn’t quite got the mark of the clientele. Twice he tried to get people up to dance Scottish country dance tunes. Once couple got up for the first one, but nobody did for the second! Just a bit embarrassing. We did all the dances that I was sure I knew and one or two that I was a bit rust on. Big bonus of this tea dance was that they actually had tea. Gorbals didn’t and that was a black mark against them. Extra big bonus, they had Tunnocks Caramel Wafers and also Snowballs. Scamp was peeved that she didn’t get a snowball. The company was a lot less friendly than other places we’ve been too. Insular or maybe inbred, difficult to tell, but none of the dancers spoke to us. Black mark against them, then.

We had got soaked walking from the carpark to the church, but when we came out the sun was shining. Not so shiny was Falkirk Main Street. If this had been America, there would have been tumbleweed rolling down the streets. Shop after shop was closed and boarded up. These days you only need one or two big shops to close and you’ve started on the slippery slope. It was really depressing. There were a lot of smaller shops on some of the streets off the main street, but some of them were almost certainly on a short let. The only shop that was busy was the big party shop. People were queueing all the way down its frontage, almost all with children in tow, desperate to get their Halloween costumes. We drove home and agreed that we’d go back to the next tea dance in the church, all being well.

Back home there was just enough light to allow a safari to St Mo’s. I got today’s PoD of a spider there. I think that was the last of the light just disappearing.

Dinner was Saturday’s soup with croutons and a pizza to follow. Today’s prompt was ’Splat’. My sketch of a splatted egg got Scamp’s approval with a couple of suggestions that I agree with, but by then it was too late to change things. The sketch this time is drawn on an A2 sheet of cartridge paper. A bit bigger than my usual A5! No eggs were harmed in making this sketch, only virtual ones!

Tomorrow Scamp is booked with the Witches for lunch. I have a few jobs to do in the house and also a prospective drive into the country if weather permits.



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!

Lazy Sunday – 5 September 2021

Just as the weather fairies predicted, dull with the chance of wet later.

Last night when I was reading in bed I felt a scratch under my watch strap. It was a little eight legged friend, an arachnid, but not a spider. A little tic. It hadn’t actually pierced the skin but was wandering around looking for a good place to do so. I managed to get it on to my finger and from there on to my bedroom cabinet where its wanderings came to an end. I’ve now worked out how and where it got onto my hand and for that reason I wasn’t going to re-photograph the fungi I saw yesterday.

Instead, I made some bread. Complicated bread with dried tomatoes, garlic granules, dried basil, grated mozzarella, a medium egg and 120ml of milk as well as the usual bread flour, yeast, salt, sugar and warm water. When mixed together in the correct proportions, proved, rolled and lots of other things it was baked and produced a Pane Bianco. It smelled lovely after it was baked and tasted quite good too. Maybe not quite as good a the smell promised, but certainly worth the effort.

The furthest we walked today was down to the shops to get some veg for dinner. All today’s photos were taken in or around the house. My favourite and therefore PoD was a slow shutter/low ISO shot of a Berberis bush in the back garden.

Dinner was a chicken pasty with potatoes and mixed greens. Down to earth food is sometimes best. Watched the Dutch GP and was pleased that Verstappen won convincingly. Also like that Bottas showed a bit of spirit by going against team orders. It looks like he won’t be at Mercedes next year, so he has little to lose now, and possibly everything to gain. Good man.

That was it for a lazy Sunday. There could be worse ways to spend your time.

Tomorrow we may go out for a run if it’s dry and take some interesting landscape shots to get away from constant macros. It’s raining now. Just like the weather fairies predicted.