Posted today – 24 April 2022

Hopefully this blog will be posted the same day it was written. That will make it the first since April 13th. Here goes!

I spent most of the morning and some the afternoon writing the last few blog posts, posting them and also posting photos on Flickr. I always start off with good intentions on days when we’re on holiday, but I never quite manage to stick to those intentions. After all, I’m on holiday and blog writing, which can sometimes be good fun to do, can also be a terrible drag. Anyway, the backlog is gone for now.

After lunch we went for a walk round Broadwood stadium, the long way round. Over to the boardwalk and over that wibbly, wobbly way to dry land. Who in their right mind makes a boardwalk from plastic. Halfway along the boardwalk it feels like it’s ready to tip you into the loch it crosses. Typical NLC cost cutting. Some day it’s just going to collapse and then an investigation will begin and ‘Lessons will be learned’. After that they will replace it with another cheapo plastic boardwalk until the same thing happens again.
Well, we survived the boardwalk today, but it’s in a far worse state than it was in the last time we crossed it. We walked on over the dam then up past the exercise machines stopping on the dam to take a photo of a herring gull at the outfall from the loch. I never knew there were herrings in Broadwood Loch. We also got a good laugh at a Crested Grebe with its bad hair do. Unfortunately, the Sony 55-210mm lens wasn’t in a focusing mood today, so I don’t have a record of it.

We were sorted for dinner, so didn’t need to stop at the shops on the way home and I reckoned I had at least one decent shot from the birdwatching at the dam, so I didn’t need a walk over to St Mo’s.

Scamp watered the back garden using a watering can. I preferred to use the hose and watered the front garden. It will be so much easier if we get an outside tap fitted, but the tap adaptor worked for today. Also, as Carlyn, next door had watered our plants while we were away down south, I watered her’s today.

Dinner was steak for me and salmon for Scamp with a side of salad in the style of Simonne, but really nothing like as good as hers. I must practise that culinary skill.

Spoke to Jamie and heard about his plans for the coming week, jetting off to the US again to cause more mayhem by pouring oil on troubled waters. Good luck with pleasing all of the people all of the time, Jamie.

PoD was the herring-less gull.

Tomorrow I may plant my sort-of cow parsley, some in pots and some in the ground. I also need to get my hair cut soon as May is approaching fast. At least my kilt fits, I tried it on yesterday.

Happy Birthday Scamp – 24 March 2022

A day of celebration, overeating and a bottle of wine into the bargain.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and after the traditional singing of “Happy Birthday” she told us how Granny’s 90th birthday party turned into a Super Spreader event, with everyone present becoming positive for Covid! Luckily, Hazy hadn’t attended, unluckily for Neil, he had and is suffering today. Hope he feels better soon and Hazy stays negative.

After she had opened her cards and replied to most of the well-wishers on FB, we got changed into slightly dressier clothes and drove over to Falkirk. Actually not quite to Falkirk, just to the outskirts, to The Boardwalk restaurant for lunch. It’s an airy, modern building, part of a chain.It’s part of the same company as Coast, a restaurant we’d been to a month or so ago, near Port Glasgow. The meal that day was superb. While Scamp’s food today was very nice, I was disappointed. Starters was Mixed Tempura which I thought was oily, but Scamp disagreed. She was allowed to, it was her birthday. Mains were Smoked Haddock Gratin for Scamp and it did look impressive and tasted the same I’m told. Mine was Duck Ragu Rigatoni. The sauce was bland, the duck tasteless and the pasta overcooked. There’s not a lot you can say about it after that. Nobody came to ask how the meals were and the service was very slow. However, I’m glad Scamp enjoyed her meal.

After lunch we walked up to the Falkirk Wheel and watched a bus load of people get lifted up on the giant machine. I took some photos, but it was one of the lined up canal boats that got PoD. The centre was working on its winter timetable and was closing down at 4pm, which is fair, I think as there weren’t many folk there.

First stop on the way home was at Torwood for a pot for the new rose, and two bags of compost. I talked Scamp into another new rose which she reluctantly agreed to and also a pretty red anemone. Neither us had seen a red one before! That meant another two pots!

Final stop on the way was at the shops for a Bramley Apple Pie, ice cream and cream to go with it. Back home we had the apple pie as a belated dessert. We had a bottle of wine to wash it down and then watched the final of this year’s Apprentice. I think we were a bit surprised at who won in the end.

Tomorrow we’ve both got appointments with Simpson Opticians in Larky. Hope the sun doesn’t shine too brightly after getting the drops.

Off the leash – 24 January 2022

Scamp was heading out for lunch with the rest of the Witches. I was given free run of the house.

After she was picked up by Jeanette I did think of driving out somewhere to get a few landscape photos, but the sky was that moody overall grey and without some directional light I’d be struggling to make a landscape look interesting, so I chose to wait for a while. I thought about starting a painting, but couldn’t decide what to paint. These dull days make it difficult to find an interest in anything. I did for one foolish moment toy with the idea of clearing up the back room, but one look at the enormity of the task was enough to disabuse me of that task. Instead, I had lunch. Beans on sourdough toast. Earlier I’d picked up Jamie’s transatlantic plane on Flightradar 24 and lunchtime gave me a chance to check his position. He was about halfway across the Atlantic as I was scraping the last of my beans from the plate.

I’d a letter to finish off and once I’d done that, it looked like the sky was brightening up with a bit of movement in the clouds, so I got my boots on and the camera sorted and went out for a walk in St Mo’s. The woods were looking bare. Bare trees, dried up grass and not a lot happening. I did try to grab a few shots of lichen and moss and also a few late season fungi, but nothing new. Nothing exciting or interesting. The most interesting was a leaf spread over a fallen log and worn almost transparent by the elements. That might look good reduced to monochrome. I walked further than I’ve gone for ages, across the boggy grassland almost beside the slip road from the motorway, but the landscapes were all the same. I’d taken them all in the past. However, when I came out of the woods the sky was definitely clearing and Jamie was heading south towards the eastern edge of Canada at about 38,000ft.

Heading back towards home I got a decent shot along the length of the boardwalk with the 18mm lens sporting its washed and clean lens hood. Also I took two shots looking towards the breaking sky over the pond. Both were taken in portrait format, one to make the most of the sky and the other to show the silted up edge of the pond. I intended to join them together in Photoshop. That was it for the photography and it looked like Jamie was now even higher at 40,000ft and crossing the border into the US. I hoped he was actually on that plane and had managed to get up for that 4am taxi!

Scamp was home by the time I got back and we compared our day. It would seem that the Railway Inn is worth a visit some time judging by the praise it was getting from Scamp. It would be good to start going out to eat again, now that the restrictions are being relaxed. We might even get to go back to salsa with a bit of luck!

Scamp’s lunch was Macaroni with Chips. My dinner was Tagliatelle with a meat Ragu. More in the pan for tomorrow or to go in the freezer to be discovered some hungry day.

I watched as the Airbus turned on its dogleg to final and landed in a place I’ve never been and am never likely to see with my own eyes. I hope you get to read this Jamie and aren’t too bored with all the photography talk. Enjoy your visit to the Big Apple.

The PoD is the two part picture, assembled and manicured in Photoshop then finished off in Lightroom. The others I took today are on Flickr.

We have no plans yet for tomorrow. Sometimes that’s the best way.

 

A walk around part of Broadwood – 24 December 2021

It was cold and it was raining, but we went for a walk anyway.

All the shoppers seemed to have tired themselves out yesterday. Today the shops were almost deserted. Only ‘almost’ though. There were still some of the dyed in the wool ‘have to buy something, anything’ brigade out splashing their cash. We didn’t. I’d like to say we had more sense, but who was out in the rain and who was in a nice warm shop?

We did an anticlockwise version of our usual walk, starting with the exercise machines path and then across the dam, round on to the boardwalk and back along the pavement beside the main road. Today’s PoD came from the boardwalk where we disturbed a group of Tufted Ducks and they became the subject of the photo. I was surprised to see that big white disc in the sky again. I saw it last Friday over in Fife, but since then it had been hiding. There were rumours that it had been self isolating, but I couldn’t say for the truth of that. I don’t know if the sun could catch Covid. Back home it was toast and scrambled eggs for lunch, by which time the sun had disappeared again.

In the afternoon, Scamp iced the Christmas Cake and we took turns at putting the decorations on it. My first choice was the Santa on his sleigh, as always and Scamp’s was the children on their sledge. The rest we took turns at.

By that time the darkness had encroached enough for the house lights to come on and evening was in charge.

That was about it for the day’s adventures. Tomorrow we must wait to see if we’ve been good enough for Santa to have come!

 

Out for a walk – 22 August 2021

Or two, in my case.

It was a warm sunny morning, but we didn’t really get going until the afternoon. We finally decided to walk round Broadwood again, but the opposite way round, just to be different. There wasn’t a lot to see, but when we came out at the wee pond near the Irn Bru factory, I did see a dragonfly sunning itself on the top of one of the NLC signs telling you what to look for. It could have been a living advert for the woodland walk, but it got its photo taken anyway. A few steps further on, there was another dragonfly, also sunning itself on a wooden fence. I tried for its photo, but couldn’t get through the grass that was shielding it. I gave up and eventually it did too and flew away. Still, I had one in the bag.

Back home I had a look through the afternoon’s shots and, yes, there was at least one shot of the dragonfly that would pass muster. However, there were more things out there, I was sure. So I left Scamp to read and went for a short walk in St Mo’s. Found more small dragonflies sitting on the upstand of the boardwalk and included them in my photos. Even better I found a Leaf-hopper, a bright green leaf-hopper (Cicadella viridis) and took its picture too. I tried a Wolf spider, but couldn’t get it all in focus. There was a Garden Cross spider but it was too far away and there was no way I was wading into the murky waters of St Mo’s pond. It’s bad enough when you don’t know what you’re walking in, but it’s worse if you do!  The leaf-hopper got PoD, just beating the posing dragonfly from earlier in the day.

Decided that I had enough and came home to make dinner which tonight was Naked Fish and Carrot Chips. I thought we had everything to make the dish, but then found we had no garlic. I added garlic granules but they didn’t quite cut it. Also, the carrot chips weren’t very chip-like. Discussion later with the chef himself, disclosed that he thinks there should be more cornflour than the recipe says. I agree with Jamie, that would probably work. We were discussing this when he phoned after the dinner was made and eaten. We also found out about how things are down Cambridge way. You forget that England has different rules and timings than up here. Schools are still on holiday there while they are back at work here. House buying seems to work on mystery and black magic there whereas it might be archaic here, but it’s much more clear cut.

Scamp had been working hard trying to learn some of the figures and their link steps form the second half of the Foxtrot routine. My versions were different, but between us we managed to get everything sorted out and it now looks doable again. It just needs a few more practise sessions and we’ll have a full foxtrot.

Tomorrow seems to be even better than today and today was good. Not too bright and sunny, but warm. Tomorrow we are governed by high pressure, so we should be dry at least. No plans.

Crossed Wires – 28 July 2021

We were supposed to meet Isobel for coffee today. We were there, but where was Isobel?

For once there were some empty tables when we arrived at Costa, an unusual occurrence at 11am. Usually it’s really busy with mums and screaming weans and auld yins taking up the rest of the seats. However, not only were there no screaming weans, but one auld yin (don’t tell her I said that) was missing too. Where was Isobel? After ordering and consuming our coffees Scamp decided she’d better phone the missing party to find out what was wrong. The answer was that she thought Scamp had agreed to pick her up. Scamp denied that, but agreed that we’d drive down to the Village for a coffee with her in her house.

I dropped Scamp off at the house and then parked the car. This let Scamp deal with the problem before I got there. As it happened we didn’t bother with coffee, just sat talking about the holiday, dancing and families. As usual with Isobel, we were entertained for a couple of hours.

Next on the agenda was a visit to B&Q for a piece of dowel to fix the cheapo wheels bins the council granted us with. I imagine there were the cheapest, seconds they could find. The plastic pins that form the hinge for the lid are wearing and I’ve had to replace one already. Today I was replacing the other one. A piece of 15mm diameter wooden dowel would do the job nicely. It’s now done and will be tested tomorrow when the bin is emptied.

After lunch I watched a video by Robin Wong explaining how to do some clever things with the E-M1 mk2. I’ve had the camera for about six months now and hadn’t realised you could do these things. Later I took the Oly out to see if his tricks worked, and of course they did. He’s a really clever guy and when I came home I found another video showing more clever tricks that I’ll test tomorrow, all being well.
On the subject of PoDs, July 23rd’s PoD the mono shot of the sheep at the house in Cumbria won Explore on Flickr.  Explore means it was one of the best shots of the day.  I was quite impressed, but not surprised, as it was a lovely shot, even if I say so myself!

Today’s PoD was shot in St Mo’s and is a worm’s eye view of Horsetails growing through gaps in the boardwalk. Almost as soon as they get about 5cm above the decking, they get trodden on or kicked until the break. Still they just keep growing. Horsetails can be traced back to the early Jurassic period. If they survived the dinosaurs, I’m sure they’ll not be destroyed by a few booted walkers.

We had been warned that there would be thunder and lightning during the night with heavy rain in the early hours.  There were a few peals of thunder, but very distant.  However, the rain did make an appearance and was welcomed by plants in the garden, but more will be needed before they will be happy.  How strange it is to wish for rain!

 

Tomorrow I’m booked to meet Val for coffee. I’m hoping he knows I’m not coming to pick him up!