A bit of a wasted day – 12 May 2022

Both of us lay in bed reading this morning after yesterday’s busy day.

Finally we did get up because Scamp wanted to go to Tesco to use up two of her Covid vouchers. One voucher was being spent on our ‘essentials’ like wine, gin and food. The other was going on real essentials that were going into the Food Bank box. Both vouchers were spent and a little more besides.

While she was out I was just mooching around the house with little to do and no real incentive to go out. I tried reading for a while, then managed to complete yesterday’s Sudoku (today’s is sitting beside me, unfinished as yet). It was one of those days that somehow didn’t encourage you get up and go and do something, anything! Eventually lunch solved that problem. I made myself an omelette and Scamp had a piece ’n’ cheese with spicy beetroot.

After lunch and having spraying myself with bug repellant I went for a walk in St Mo’s with one camera and one lens. It’s something Alex and I have been discussing and it does make you think about what you’re using and what you’re photographing. My lens of choice was the Lensbaby Sweet 35. I was hoping against hope that I’d find something interesting to photograph. That something turned out to be a Salmonberry flower. It became PoD. A little further along the path I found a couple of black flies making more black flies. It was a case of crawl on your knees and get as close as the little 35mm lens will allow. Actually it turned out ok. The only problem is that it was black flies on a black tarmac, so colour choices went out the window. You can see it on Flickr.

By the time I came home I was feeling a bit rough and decided to post the photos and write the blog early, then go to bed. That’s still what I intend to do. I’ve dosed myself up with Vitamin C and I’m going to have a ‘hot toddy’ tonight and go to bed after this is posted. It’s nothing serious, just a summer cold.

I made dinner tonight and it was a very nice Prawn & Pea Risotto. The risotto paddle really does work Hazy, as I’m sure you knew it would.

We watched the first episode of this year’s Glow Up. Absolute nonsense. Very clever nonsense, but you begin to wonder after a while if these people are real! If you haven’t watched it before, get it on iPlayer and have a good laugh.

That’s about it for today. Hoping to feel a lot better tomorrow. A long walk in the fresh air somewhere might help.

Posh Lunch – 16 April 2022

Another sunny day and we were being taken for lunch.

Wandered round the garden in the morning then Jamie drove us to Bury St Edmonds for lunch at Maison Bleu and what a lunch. Here goes!

Scamp: A Beetroot Gateau which really did look like a slice of Tipsy Cake.
Jamie & Simonne: Seared Isle of Orkney King Scallop, Chicken Wings, artichoke, Pancetta and Chicken Jus.
Me: Slow braised Beef Cheek, Lettuce Ravioli, Carrot Crisp Kohlrabi with carrot and Curcuma sauce.
Scamp: Isle of Gigha Halibut, celery gel, nori seaweed powder, fish sauce grilled leek and broccoli.
Simonne: Fillet of Aberdeen Angus beef, Maury wine sauce, Celeriac, Roscoff Onion Confit, Béarnaise espuma, and salt fermented celeriac.
Jamie: Roasted Balotine of saddle and leg of Rabbit, reduction sauce, shallot confit, Jerusalem artichoke and chervil.
Me: Roasted haunch of Breckland venison, Tornatore black olive sauce, black potato purée and parsnip.
Scamp: Pear with Honeycomb (which I’d have called Puff Candy).
Jamie & Simonne: Opera Gateau.
Me: My dessert was called, simply, Apple. It looked like a shiny red apple, but when you cut into it with a spoon it crunched like an old fashioned candy apple. Inside was an apple mousse.
We washed all the foregoing down with a bottle of wine which Scamp chose but Jamie chose instead to have a bottle of beer.

Really quite an excellent and very posh lunch. Many photos were taken of the food as befits foodies like us and many stories will be told about it in the future, I hope.

We had a gentle walk round the outskirts of the centre of Bury St Edmonds before Jamie drove us home where we sat in the garden and admired the sunset over the church. I found a miner bee digging in the grass at the back of the house. The first time I’ve seen one of those. The insects down south have been an eye opener for me.

PoD was a picture of the church taken when we arrived back at the house after our lunch.

Tomorrow we may be doing some gardening.

Walking the dog – 15 April 2022

A bit of freedom for Vixen.

In the morning, after breakfast and a cup of Jamie’s coffee from his posh Sage coffee machine, we went for a walk round the garden, a conducted tour, in fact. The garden covers half an acre. I don’t know how big that is, but it is a fair swathe of grass with a veg area purely for Jamie and lots of island areas of flowers that are Simonne’s area. Best of all, he has a greenhouse, a real glass glazed one, not a little plastic one like ours. Lots of potential there.

After the tour, Jamie drove us to a dog walking field where Vixen could run as far as she wanted without fear of meeting any other four legged friends (or enemies). We spent about an hour wandering round three fields of different shapes and sizes. Vixen may have been the reason we were there, but I was searching the trees and hedges for photo opportunities. Almost right away I saw a Bee Fly, but of course my camera was still in the bag, but my phone was handy and was sure I could grab a snap with it. Next time I’ll buy a mobile with a macro facility. Missed the Bee Fly, but at least I saw one.

What I did find was an almost totally brown Shield Bug and I did get two photos of it. There were apple trees in one of the field hedges and they were still holding their blossom and one of the Lensbaby shots of the blossom was in for PoD. With Vixen exhausted and my Lensbaby having captured a potential PoD, Jamie drove us back home for lunch.

After lunch the other three went to do some gentle work in the garden and I took my camera for a walk past the old church and down the hill to the dried up stream bed at the bottom. I turned right before the bridge over the stream bed and walked for about half a mile to another bridge over the same stream bed, crossed the bridge, turned left and found my way back to the house. I was passing between two fields. One with what looked like beans and the other with some form of corn or maize. The soil was interspersed with big chunks of flint.

By the time I got back, there was just enough time to have a beer in The Gallery before dinner.

PoD did indeed go to the apple blossom.

Tomorrow we’re off to Bury St Edmonds for lunch.

Dancin’ – 9 April 2022

It was back to reality this morning with a bump.

Up fairly early. Washed, shaved, dressed and ready to face the day. Scamp skipped the shaving.

We were off to Brookfield to take a few more faltering steps on the way to being dancers. Today started with a fairly easy Valentino Jive which even Stewart, the teacher, got wrong to start with. We got it right most of the time, especially on the second track. Then we were straight into the Quickstep. As is usual, the teachers walked through the full routine, then danced it through at full speed, to music and we thought No Way! Heavens, there are Fishtails in it. Fishtails have been my nemesis for years now. Even when we tried the first few steps, I was just making things up until we got pulled up for it. We got pulled up quite quickly and it was Stewart who explained in simple terms what we were being asked to do. Could it really be that easy? Well, actually it could. After half an hour I was getting most of the footwork correct. After about forty five minutes I was adding in Fishtails, correctly danced for once. Of course we made mistakes, but not nearly as many as I thought we would. Needs practise, and needs practise in a big room.

Next was a short interlude of Mambo Marina sequence dance before we went back to last week’s Cha-Cha. It’s not quite as bad as it was. We have been practising it at home and I’m beginning to think I might be able to dance this some day. Maybe not some day soon, but some day. The teachers were adding some more advanced steps to fill out the dance, but we didn’t really take much notice. Best to get the basics right before we go on to advanced steps.

Driving home wasn’t as stressful as it was on Thursday, mainly because we didn’t try to cross the Kingston Bridge, but took the M74 instead. It’s a few miles longer, but at least you can travel at the legal limit all the way and not be in a start-stop line of cars with the other lanes always travelling faster than you. We may do that again.

We had picked up a lot of free food at Brookfield with a couple of loafs, half a dozen eggs and some potatoes filling our bags as we left. Such a shame that the food is being thrown away otherwise.

Scamp and I went a walk down to the shops in the afternoon and got a few things, then on the walk back, I took a detour round St Mo’s. Saw a hoverfly, first this year, sitting on some whin bushes. A bright whin flower got PoD, narrowly beating another branch of blossom.

Dinner tonight was provided by Bombay Dreams. We both ate half of our portion, leaving the other half for tomorrow’s lunch or dinner.

Got a message from Hazy to say that Neil still wasn’t getting rid of his chest infection and his dad was driving him to A&E. Message later to say that he had had tests done and he is just slowly recovering and there is nothing to worry about, thankfully.

Spent the evening catching up on yesterday’s blog post, but if I get this posted soon I will be all caught up!

With that in mind, I’m off to bed. I might read another chapter of my book James Oswald’s “All That Lives”. It’s a bit formulaic. It feels like he’s in a writing rut. Shame, because his early books were really good.

No plans for tomorrow. Hopefully it will be another beautiful day like today.

Solo – 4 April 2022

Scamp was out driving the Blue car by herself today.

Before that, she drove me up to Tesco partly to get some messages, but also partly to assure herself that she can drive the newer version of her own Red car.

When we returned after the shopping, I took the wheel of the blue car and drove down to the shops were I parked at the far end of the car park and walked over to the repair garage and explained the problem with the red car. The bloke there said it was most likely to be binding breaks or a failing wheel bearing. I have to bring the car down tomorrow and then we’ll find out.

When I got back, and after lunch, Scamp was off again, driving solo this time. She was going to Calders garden centre for coffee and a cake with the now disbanded ‘Gems’. I left before her to post a couple of cards and also to get some photos. It was a fairly dull day with very little directional light, but with the help of the Lensbaby, I did get some useable shots. Not great shot, but useable.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon writing a fairly long email to Alex with some photos to keep his mind of all the things he has to do this coming week. No more word from him about the three generations of the family currently under “doctor’s orders”. No news is good news.

PoD was chosen by Scamp. It’s a wild currant flower. One of loads that are showing over in St Mo’s just now. A picture of a bright yellow whin flower took second place. You may know it as a gorse flower.

We watched the final of this year’s University Challenge and although there wasn’t a Scottish team in the final, at least the winners did have a Scottish captain.

It rained a bit today.  Just soft wetting rain that will refresh the plants in the garden.  More rain is predicted for the next few days and the gardens really need it.  Strange to say that we’re welcoming the rain!

Tomorrow it’s an early rise. The alarm has been set for 7.30am. We’re intending to drive the Red car down to garage and walk back to have an earlier than usual breakfast. Then we may go for coffee with Isobel.

A bit of gentle gardening – 3 April 2022

Not a lot of work. Just planting one bush and preparing the ground for this year’s veg.

Actually, most of the morning was spent sitting in the warm, looking out at the world going by. Eventually after a lunch of fried lamb’s liver which was just a bit overcooked, but better that way than too bloody, I put my old boots on and went to pot up a Buddleia bush Scamp bought me about a month ago. It’s allegedly a tricolour bush, but the jury is out on that at the moment. We’ll see what we get. I dug over the raised bed again, but it really needs to be strengthened before we plant anything in it this year. I’m thinking maybe some leeks, peas and a few kale plants. Those are the things we grow and actually eat. I’d love to be like Jamie and plant courgettes and marrows, but we know they won’t grow in our climate. Heavens, we had snow falling three days ago!

After the planting and a bit of gentle pruning too, I put on the big Bergy jacket and kept my old boots on, then went for a walk down to Broadwood and across to the repair garage, but as I suspected, it was closed on a Sunday. I’m intending to walk over tomorrow to book the wee Red car in to be looked at. From there I went to M&S to get pudding for tonight’s dinner which was to be Paella, Scamp’s request. It seemed a shame to be passing St Mo’s and not visit, so I dropped in, but couldn’t see anything that warranted me taking a photo. On my walk past Broadwood I’d taken a few shots of tiny little white flower which must be some fruit blossom. One of them got PoD.

Spoke to Jamie after dinner and heard of Simonne’s bad luck. With a few days to go until they were due to fly home from Trinidad, her sister got a positive result for Covid, then the next day, Simonne got one. That meant cancelling the flights and booking new ones. Not only that, she and Sophie have to isolate from their dad and that was the reason for going to Trinidad in the first place.

More good news from Alex today. Ollie is going from strength to strength and Carol got home today. Hopefully now things can return to some sort of normal.

Scamp is out for coffee tomorrow with most of the disbanded ‘Gems’. I’m intending booking the Red car in for a new wheel bearing.

Huntigowk – 1 April 2022

It may be April Fool’s day, but I saw no sign of it today. I think the world is so war and virus weary that there’s little time for fun this year.

I’d suggested that we go for a walk round Glasgow today. I’d no ulterior motive, just a walk round town and a chance to drop off a bag of books that had been languishing in my room. Scamp said we might go in on the bus, but we’d have been too late to catch the fast bus and neither of us fancied the X3 which takes nearly 50 minutes to trace 20 miles. Then Scamp said why didn’t we go in the car and she’d drive. She meant her car. I eventually agreed and we piled into the car. I tried to get the boot to open, but there was a softness at the switch that made me think the switch mechanism had come adrift and it really is an terrible faff to get in via the back seat. However, we didn’t really need to use the boot, we weren’t carrying much and weren’t intending buying much either. Halfway along the road the car started, what Scamp calls, ‘whistling’. It sounded more like screeching to me. As she was driving it gave me time to work out what was happening. Eventually I settled on a dried out wheel bearing. By the time we got to Glasgow it was getting loud and alternating from side to side. Two wheel bearings, both front? When we were waiting at lights after leaving the motorway, I could definitely smell burning, like overheated metal. We got parked and walked away and the car just sat there no clicking like you get with overheated metal, so maybe I was imagining things.

Took the bag of books to the Oxfam shop and they were again happy to see them. That was my main task completed. With nothing to do, Scamp suggested we walk to Glasgow Green. That sounded like a decent idea, because the sun was shining and there weren’t too many folk about. Then I realised I’d not brought my woolly hat, in fact I didn’t have anything to keep my head and ears warm. That’s what happens when you decide you don’t need your big heavy Bergy jacket whose pockets are filled with everything you might need, including a woolly hat. However we walked round the green and at the front gate I got today’s PoD which was a Lensbaby shot of some cherry blossom. I also got a second conventional lens shot of two folk walking through the cherry trees. That’s on Flickr too. Scamp prefer that one to my arty-farty flower photo. On the way back we did nip into M&S for a cheap woolly hat to shut me up.

Lunch was in Paesano and, as Scamp was driver for the day, I had a glass of red wine with my No 3 pizza. Scamp had her standby No1 – no garlic. We were halfway through our pizzas when we were joined by four weans of the female persuasion. Their combined ages were about 40, but they were probably younger. They all seemed to talk at the same time, then all pick up their phones and silently type madly into them, probably sending messages to each other. Then they discovered another group of four further along and started verbal, and probably digital, conversations with them too. I can’t stand weans, and these looked like snooty, posh weans and they’re worse. Thankfully we were leaving soon.

We both took a waltz round JL, me window shopping and Scamp buying, then we headed for home. The noise from the bearing started right away and by the time we reached Cumbersheugh it was deafening. I told Scamp to turn off onto an alternative, quieter road and stop when we’d a fairly straight stretch. That’s when I heard the ticking of metal cooling. I got out and tentatively touched the nearside wheel, but it was just warm. The offside wheel was too hot to touch. That settled it, at least a new wheel bearing needed. We took it easy the rest of the way home and the smell of overheated grease lingered for a while. The wee Red car will need to go to the car hospital to get the work done and in the mean time I’ll see what I can do about the boot switch.

When we arrived at the house there was a big box of flowers waiting for Scamp. There was no message with it and no indication of who had sent it. Scamp did some investigations and worked out who it might have come from. She spoke to her sister in Skye later and confirmed her suspicions. Somebody at M&S is going to get an earful for not including that birthday message.

Early rise tomorrow because it looks as if the dance class is on and as there are still roadworks on the way to Bridge of Weir, we’ll need to be out a bit earlier. Other than that, no plans.

I’m busy doing nothing – 28 March 2022

That’s how today felt.

Scamp was out to lunch with Nancy today which left me the run of the house.

It was a beautiful day again, possibly the last really warm day for a while, so after I’d changed the battery in the solar powered light ball that hangs on the tree in the garden, I went and sat on the front step and read my new book for a while, until lunch time, in fact. After lunch which was a chicken, mushroom and red pepper omelette, I continued my sunbathing and reading, although I did change to shorts and a tee shirt because it was really quite warm. I got a warning from Scott the taxi driver that I should have sun cream on and thought that was a wise precaution, so I went in search of sun cream. Finally found some, slapped it on and grabbed a beanie hat to complete my rig out. Possibly not the most elegantly dressed gent in the estate, but certainly the most comfortable, because now I’d taken a folding chair out. You can only sit for so long on a step before your bum starts to complain. I know I should have been sanding down the woodwork of the bin shed, but you can’t put a good book down! The book was All That Lives by James Oswald, in case you’re interested.

When Scamp returned I thought I’d give her some space and too the camera and the Lensbaby out to get some photos of the flowering cherry that grows in the depths of St Mo’s woodland. I got a few shots of it and am beginning to come to terms with this strange contraption. It does produce some very arty effects, almost painterly. That’s what produced today’s PoD of the flowering cherry tree.

That was about it for today. My work on the light ball lit up tonight and is now off again. The little Ni Mh battery does a good job and gives two or three hours of light. I’m hoping there will be enough sun tomorrow to charge it up again. Apparently it’s going to get a lot colder in the next few days with a wind from the north and talk of that white fluffy stuff falling from the sky!

One more thing.  I made Pasta Carbonara tonight for dinner, with a difference.  Two kinds of cheese, Pecarino and Parmigiano-Reggiano and NO CREAM!  Instead I tried Val’s recipe with an extra egg yolk instead of cream and it did taste better.  Must try it again some time.

Tomorrow Scamp is out again. This time it’s coffee with Shona. I’ll hope for a morning of sunshine.


Off to Larky – 25 March 2022

To see the optician.

Thankfully I didn’t need new glasses, in fact, the optician said that my long vision had improved since my last visit! I have no idea how that happened. Scamp did need new reading glasses, but she’s getting Transition glasses which darken in sunlight. I know they’ve been out for some time, but these new ones darken much quicker than the older ones I had once upon a time. Hers will probably more akin to the ones Zaphod Beeblebrox had that darkened when danger threatened! When we walked back out into the Larky sunshine I needed sunglasses because of the drops the optician put in my eyes. Trust us to both go on the brightest and warmest day of the year so far!

We sat in the car for a while until I deemed it safe for me to drive. To drive to Gouldings on Clydeside for lunch. Being Friday, it could only be Fish ’n’ Chips. For dessert we had an enormous double meringue with four flakes sticking out of it and a strawberry on top. Slightly over the top, but we shared the load of eating it!

After that it was back home for Scamp to try out her new compost scoop tool to help her to plant her new roses. The scoop has been a great success, the gardener reported and it hold a lot of earth. Meanwhile I took the Sony A7iii out for a walk in St Mo’s and PoD was one of a deep pink wild flower. Actually, I took a picture of a flower that looks exactly the same, a week earlier in 2021. That just shows two things:
1. Wild plants follow exact cycles every year.
2. I’m becoming very insular. Photographing in the same locality too often.

That was about it for today. Lovely sunny day again. Tomorrow we may go further afield.


A little less driving – 20 March 2022

The furthest I drove today was to Tesco and back.

Scamp would have driven, but I wanted to retrieve my car from the parking place it was in from yesterday, before the road and the parking became even more congested. Sundays are always busy round our way. Anyway, if she’d driven I’d have been tempted to stay at home and snooze away the morning. Better to be up and out.

I think we bought out almost all of Tesco’s alcohol shelves. We had two bottles of gin and two, or was it three bottles of wine? I think it was three but who’s counting! On our circuits of the aisles, we bumped into a former colleague, Lynn. She is always either going on holiday or just coming back and she was amazed that we’d taken a two year sabbatical from overseas trips. Younger people don’t seem to understand that some of us ‘Oldies’ are reluctant to just jump in to a foreign holiday while there is still a chance of everything shutting down around our ears. Besides we have a fairly full dance card this year without going beyond the confines of the UK. Maybe later we’ll take the plunge again.

Back home and after lunch, Scamp persuaded me to humph a big bag of compost from the back garden where it had lain since autumn through the house to the front garden where it would be used to replenish some of the earth around her roses. After she had finished, I agreed with her that it had been worthwhile and the roses would feel the benefit. After that was done I even dug up part of the back garden to plant two plants that had been languishing in pots. I’m sure they too will benefit from their new beds and be able to stretch out their roots.

Gardening finished, I went for a walk around St Mo’s with one subject in mind. I wanted some photos of the Flowering Currant bushes (Ribes sanguineum) with their pretty pink flowers. Typically, there has been very little wind this last week, but when I want to photograph these flowers, they start bobbing around in the breeze. However I did get a few decent shots. One of them made PoD. Strangely they were the PoD exactly a year ago and also exactly two years ago!  How predictable I’ve become!

Dinner tonight was a veggie chilli, made with a base of brown lentils. Always a winner. It wasn’t very hot today, but that will change as it sits for a day or maybe two.

Spoke to Jamie and found out that the petrol crisis has had a knock on effect for his lady gardener who can’t afford to travel to his new house, but she has recommended someone who is more local. Sim is getting ready to fly back to Trinidad for a week. Lucky girl! We have sunshine, but Trinidad has SUNSHINE!!!

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks good, so maybe some gardening or a walk.