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!

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.

Photo Album – 4 May 2022

Photo albums were so much easier in the olden days.

Today we spent a bit of the morning and half of the afternoon making up a photo book of our recent trip down south. In the olden days, you took your film to the chemist who developed and printed it and handed it back to you in a neat little cardboard folder. Then you bought a photo album and a packet of Lick and Stick corners and used them to hold the photos in place. Usually this meant that the next day when you opened the album the photos all fell out. Either that or the pages had become stuck together by the Lick and Stick corners and then you tore the page when frustration took over.

Now you simply have to upload all your photos to an online company, decide what format of book you want and how many photos you want to add, then the hard work of arranging them is done automatically. The problems come when you want to move things around. No longer do you simply unclip them, replace them with another photo and then find a new place to put the old one. Now you have to consider the size and shape of every photo and sometimes the AI automatic formatter gets it a bit wrong and portrait shots get chopped into landscape and vice versa. It all seems to take a lot longer than the happy smiley company video shows it. That’s why it took us about three hours, with a break for lunch, to get things the way we wanted them. The book is to show off a new house to the folks up in Skye, because books are so much easier to look at than a tablet, aren’t they? Hopefully it will be printed and in their hands in no time.

After that collaboration, we split up. Scamp went to the shops to get stuff for tonight’s dinner and I headed over to Condorrat to post an envelope. Of course I took my camera with me and caught a fly with its beady little glass eye and that became PoD. Just an ordinary fly, because I haven’t seen any damselflies yet and very few hover flies.

It was a cold wind today, but if you found shelter, the sun was warm.

Oh yes, and May the Fourth have been with you today!

Tomorrow we’re booked to go and see Margie. Also hoping my new camera bag will arrive at WEX in Glasgow without a birthday card for a stranger in it this time!

A walk in the wilds – 7 March 2022

My first walk in and around Fannyside for a while.

Scamp was out to lunch with The Witches and I was like a knotless thread. It was another beautiful day and I didn’t want to spend it in the house. Nor did I fancy sitting in a car going somewhere, only to find I had half an hour there before driving back home. I chose to go to Fannyside Moor. Lots of big sky and silence. Not total silence, you understand. No, there was the soughing of wind in the pine trees and the distant sound of cars and vans on the single track road across the moor itself. There were sheep bleating somewhere and most joyous of all, I listened to a lark ascending. Not the Vaughan Williams piece, but a real lark, really ascending into a clear blue sky.

I’d parked at my usual place, on a rough bit of earth by a gate, but not blocking the gate and between two stands of Scots Pines. It’s on a ninety degree corner, but off the road. Just as well, because this is a single track road, just wide enough for a van or a tractor, but not nearly wide enough for two cars to pass without one or other losing a wing mirror. My kit for today was Sony A7iii with 105mm macro lens (just in case), kit lens and 18mm super wide. Actually that’s almost all my lenses. I’ve got others, but they are mainly mounted on adapters and that’s more to carry, too much.

I walked roughly east first almost as far as the farm, but not quite. Farms = dogs = trouble. Best avoided if possible. Halfway along the road I met a grumpy looking woman driving what an old Australian pen pal called a Ute. A four wheel drive go anywhere beefed up jeep. A utility vehicle. I climbed the verge to let her through, but she didn’t acknowledge me at all. I think she thought she owned Fannyside. Maybe she did. She slowed right down to have a good look at the Blue car, then drove on for a bit and stopped again. I think now she was checking that I wasn’t dumping rubbish, fly tipping. I hadn’t. I walked on, she drove on. I got some photos of lichen that covered some of the old fence posts. I also took some landscape shots. Then another car came the other way. Another Ute, another woman driver, but this one gave me a cheery wave as she passed. I’d walked as far as I wanted. Took some sheep photos then walked back.

Turned 90º and walked south until the cold north west breeze got a bit of an edge to it and I walked back to the car. Not far from it I spotted what looked like a pebble on a fence post and examination showed it to be a ladybird, a dark brown one with white spots. I remembered seeing one here before. I tried a few shots, but there was nothing to lean on or to give me some support. A walk back to the car brought a tripod. The flexible Benbo. Hated by many, but loved by those who persevere with its idiosyncrasies. It’s a steep learning curve getting the best out of it, but it’s a great bit of kit. Almost rock solid on most surfaces, todays thick matted grass was a challenge. Eventually I used it as a monopod and got the shots.

Back home, Scamp had returned from the lunch. I decided it was time the Blue car had a wash and as the day was still warm out of the wind, I took brush and bucket and got rid of the road muck from the last few weeks. I even gave Scamp’s wee red car a scrub too.

Fired up the computer and got the shots processed. At first I thought I’d captured images of a Cream Spot Ladybird, but then after a bit more investigation it turned out it was. Striped Ladybird (Myzia oblongoguttata). It was more a maroon colour than brown and it’s fairly clear to see that they are indeed stripes and not spots. Something new learned today.

Scamp didn’t need any dinner, but I baked the second Fougasse so she could try it while I had the leftover stew from yesterday. Unfortunately, on her second bite she cracked another part of her damaged tooth. Tomorrow she’s going to bend the truth a bit and get the dentist to fix it. Something he should have done months ago. If he won’t do it, I think we might go private again. It’s the way the country is going these days.

I was quite please with my ladybird photos and it was one of them that made PoD.

Tomorrow after we hopefully resolve the dental problem we may go out for a walk.

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!

A busy day – 21 January 2022

Today we continued with the cooking and baking for tonight’s dinner.

Started early, making the dough for the bread. It was to be a full size loaf, and to save time (and effort), I made it in the mixer. That did most of the work, but the dough still needed more flour to be worked in because it was too wet. Actually I’d have been better making it by hand because you can feel whether the dough is too stiff or too wet and make adjustments as you go. Eventually I was happy with it and left it to prove.

By then it was nearly lunchtime. After that I took some time to get the ingredients organised for the main course. Rice weighed out, onions chopped and likewise cabbage. Scamp already had the fish defrosting.

With the prep done, I went for a walk down to the shops to get some beer for the visitors. I took the camera with me, of course but nothing really caught my eye. My favourite shot, and PoD was of the afternoon light illuminating a hogweed seed head. It wasn’t until I had the shot home and was inspecting it in Lightroom that I noticed the little ladybird tucked neatly in between the branches.

Beer bought, I headed home and helped set up the table. My ‘help’ really only meant I helped pull the table out and lay the table cloth. Then it was time to put the bread in the oven. It had risen well. It was when I was turning it out of the wicker basket on to the baking tray the whole thing deflated. A flat as a pancake loaf is not what I wanted for tonight. In a fit of pique, I bunged it in the bin and started again. If I’d thought about it, I’d have knocked the air out of it completely and set it for another prove. I didn’t stop to think. Too hasty sometimes, that’s me. Anyway, I made a smaller quantity, hand kneaded it this time and set it to prove. That gave me time for a coffee and to make a start on today’s Sudoku.

This time the dough rose much better than last and it went into the oven to bake, it had fallen slightly, but reinflated quickly in the hot oven. It came out fine. I’d just started the main course when the visitors arrived. I left Scamp to do the entertaining while I fried the onions and the rice and veg then added the fish stock and bunged everything into the oven which was just at the right temperature to bake the risotto for 20mins. That gave me a chance to have a beer with Crawford and chat to Nancy. After some time I checked the timer, only to find that I’d set it, but forgotten to start it! I needn’t have worried, my inbuilt clock and Scamp’s hint about “How’s the risotto doing?” saved the day. Basically it all worked fine. Later when Scamp and I discussed the day, we agreed that the combination of a heavy soup and far too much risotto had made the dinner a bit heavy. Her Sticky Toffee pudding and my second loaf had been the stars of the show.

It was early morning before we got to bed after half the dishes had completed their cycle in the dish washer and that’s why this is another catch-up. First one for a while.

Tomorrow we need to be up and out early for the first dance class for a long time.

Back in the saddle – 11 January 2022

After yesterday’s little hissy fit, I’ve returned to the 365 proper.

It does get difficult sometimes to keep finding interesting subjects to photograph, but it’s important to remember the associated benefits. It gets me out in the fresh air, although it also ensures that I spend more time than I should in post processing. It keeps the little grey cells working and when I do get a good photo, or find something I thought I’d lost, like today, it does feel good.

The day didn’t start well. We went to a funeral for a girl I don’t remember meeting. She was the daughter-in-law of one of Scamp’s oldest friends. Funerals are never pleasant occasions, but when it’s for someone with her whole life still to live, it’s worse than normal. That’s all I’m going to say, except I have never seen the chapel at Daldowie as full as it was this morning.

Drove home in blinding sunshine and got on with the day. The sunshine mellowed a bit as the day progressed, but there was still blue sky up there and there was directional light. I took a camera for a walk, while Scamp stayed home and read. I was framing a shot through some trees when I thought I saw a ladybird on a tree beyond my framed shot. It was indeed an orange ladybird with white spots. Possibly the one I’ve been looking for since about November. It was still tucked up neatly in a knot in the trunk. This time I know which tree to look for. It’s the one two trees east of the one with the stick. You’ll know it when you see it, well, you won’t but I will.

That ladybird changed the complexion of the day completely. Unfortunately, none of the photos I took did it justice, so it didn’t get PoD. That award went to an orange coloured leaf, beautifully textured and almost translucent when seen against the light. There is another photo on Flickr that I worked on a tiny little bit tonight. It dates from September 2005, over sixteen years ago! It’s worth a look.

Scamp made Carrot and Lentil Curry tonight. It’s not he hottest curry in the world, but what it lacks in heat, it makes up for in taste. An old favourite.

I don’t think it’s going to be as good a day weatherwise tomorrow, but we may go out again for a spin. Need to get a wall calendar some time soon!

Glasses – 19 November 2021

Driving in Larky on a Friday. Not a task for the faint hearted.

I’ve often thought that the best place in the world to have a driving test area would be Larky. If you can drive there, you can drive anywhere.

At lunchtime today we got the phone call to say that the glasses had been found and were ready to pick up. I was expecting a delivery from Amazon and with their usual helpfulness they gave us a window of about eleven hours. Somewhere between 11am and 10pm. Why bother? With that in mind, Scamp volunteered to wait in for the parcels while I drove to Larky to pick up the glasses. I decided to park at the Co-op because I had a parcel to post and the Co-op houses a the post office for Larky. There were cars abandoned everywhere and although there is a sort of one way system in the car park, nobody paid any heed to it. Lorries, delivery vans and a multitude of little old ladies with steely eyes were determined to either get into their parking space or out onto the road again and they were giving no quarter, but expecting everyone to get out of their way.

There was a queue of ten people all waiting with their parcels and only one person serving. I gave up and went to pick up the glasses. Got them and as I was leaving I asked the assistant where I could post a letter. She told me the sorting office was across the road and I could drop it in there if it was open. It appeared that the sorting office had different opening hours for every day of the week, but luckily it would be open for another half hour. That gave me enough time to go back to the car and collect my parcel and get rid of it too. It was while I was walking back I noticed that nearly everyone seems to park on the wrong side of the road in Larky, some even double park on the wrong side. That’s considered normal in the town. I even saw someone trying to reverse park into a space on the wrong side of the road. Truly, Larky on a Friday afternoon is in a different world.

I drove home and handed over the glasses in their case. Scamp was delighted, they fitted, were comfortable and most importantly she could see with them. Not perfectly, some things like door frames are still a bit rounded, but much, much better than the glasses she had been suffering with for the last few days. That was a relief.

I’d taken my own advice today and gone out early to get a photo. I got more than one, but not a lot more. That meant I didn’t need to go looking for pictures on a dull afternoon. I did need to get tonight’s dinner, so I got ready to walk to the shops and just at that moment the Amazon man came to the door. I got the parcels after I’d read out my six digit code, Amazon’s new security system that might last as long as a week. The bloke seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when I read out he number. I imagine he’d seen a few blank faces this week already.

I left the opening of the parcels until I came back from the shops. The external SSD I bought is tiny and has a capacity of 1TB. Really fast too. It’s been play tested tonight.

PoD today was a little mushroom with a tiny beetle sheltering inside.

I’m hoping for a bit brighter day tomorrow. We really deserve some sunshine.

Goldfish bowl – 15 November 2021

Today the lenses came out and the glasses went on and there was a long face.

Today was the day Scamp had chosen to remove her lenses for the four week preparation for her next visit to Hairmyres, when she would be measured for the lenses that might just improve her sight and remove the cataracts that have been growing. It was not a day without its tension and sufferance. However as everyone she’s met has told her, “It will be worth it in the long run.” Not much consolation when you’re looking at a world that has no straight lines. It must be what a goldfish sees from its bowl. I don’t think you’re really encouraged to put goldfish in bowls these days, but apparently you can do that to people, because It Will Be Worth It …

The rest of the day was quite dull and dreary. Just what you expect after coming down from the heights of a weekend filled with bright lights, music, glitz and some glamour. I think my dad got it right: Auld Claes and Purrich. Even the weather seemed to be dragging us down.

I did go out in the late afternoon when the sky brightened for a while. I walked part of the woods in St Mo’s looking for ‘beasties’ while Scamp watched TV from her goldfish bowl. I came back with a few shots of a spider on a tree and that got PoD.

It being Monday, pasta was on the menu. It was one of those,’ What’s in the fridge’, meals. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Today’s worked. Finely chopped veg cooked with some finely chopped pancetta, then passata added to make the sauce. Served with penne. A Monday dinner.

Watched an interesting Brazilian GP. Some good driving with some very clever tactics. F1 is becoming more and more a statisticians race, where the outcome is carefully calculated on a constantly changing spreadsheet. Some of the fun has gone out of it.

We had a surprise invitation from Jamie to a video call from their new house. They got their keys today and they both looked delighted. They took us round the garden, through the downstairs rooms and then up those notorious stairs to upper floor and that ridiculously small door. It looks like it was a pair of cave explorers who lived in it before, not a couple who are older than us! Beautiful house all the same. Oh, and that garden!!

Hoping the weather fairies have got it wrong and it’s going to be a lovely day tomorrow.