Waiting, waiting, waiting – 23 March 2022

For the postman to arrive. Hopefully bringing a parcel.

It took a while for the postman to arrive with the parcel and two cards. Scamp had already been down to the shops and back, leaving me to wait for the parcel. I did spend my time wisely, going out into the sunshine and photographing the Forsythia bush with my strange new lens. It’s a bit cumbersome and difficult to work with. If I’d put the camera on a tripod and then adjusted things, it would have been better. However, like most things photographic, the instructions that come with it are only a starting point. Mostly you learn by doing.

After lunch we set off for a walk in Drumpellier park. Scamp got to choose the paths this time, because it’s her week. She wanted to try a path to Bishop Loch. The sign pointing out the way seemed to think it was 1.5 miles to the loch. We followed its path until we came to the main road. There was a another signpost there telling us to go left. That was strange, because I was sure Bishop Lock was right. Also, the distance to the loch was now 1.75 miles. We both though the signs were just leading us a merry dance and we went back the way we’d come.

We hadn’t walked far when I got a call from the lady who asks us questions and gives us cotton bud things to stick down our throat and up our nose. Not out in the wilds of Drumpellier park, you realise, but back home. We agreed a time and walked a shortened version of our original route. A route that took us past the ice cream van, where we stopped for a ’99’, or as I said “a 99 with a flake”. Silly bugger. We found a seat by the loch (not Bishop Loch) to sit and watch the world go by as we ate our cones.

On the way back we stopped at The Fort. Scamp went to browse clothes shops and I went looking for a book in Waterstones. I came out with two books and still with a fiver in my book tokens to reduce the price of the next book I fancy. I’d hoped to get a birthday card for Scamp too, but Waterstones didn’t have any and I didn’t want to run the risk of Scamp spotting me going in to a card shop.

Back home, we still had an hour to spare before the Covid Survey lady was due to come, so I grabbed my camera bag and told Scamp I was going over to St Mo’s to get a few more pictures. Instead I walked down to the shops and got a card there. I’d also intended getting a bottle of Bramble Gin, but the queues in Aldi were ridiculous, so I gave up, put the bottle back on the shelf and walked home. Sorry Scamp. IOU a bottle of Bramble Gin. On the walk I did find something to photograph. It made the cut too and is on Flickr. It’s another bunch of seeds from a Silver Birch, lying on the ground. A boy on a bike watched me as if I was mad. Had he never seen a man on his hands and knees photographing a bit of stick lying on the ground? These are exactly the antics that get photogs a bad name!

The lady came and we told her some lies variations on the truth, but mainly truthful. We shoved the stick down our throats and gagged a bit. We stuck it up our nose too, both nostrils. Note! It’s really important that you do the throat first, not the nose. Think about it. There are some things you don’t want to put down your throat!  The last question they ask you is always “Have you been out of the country in the last 28 days?”.  We always look sad at that point, but today the lady did a little dance and said that she was hoping to get out of the country and go to Teneriffe next week.  She looked so excited I forgave her for making us feel worse!  It’s nice to get an interviewer with a sense of humour.  Actually most of them have been fairly happy folk.

Dinner was Easy Fish and Cabbage Risotto. The oven does all the work and nobody will be able to tell that you didn’t spend half an hour feeding hot stock into slowly thickening rice starch.

Hoping to go for lunch in Falkirk tomorrow, then a visit to Torwood Garden Centre.


Happy Christmas – 25 December 2021

Christmas Day and the sun is shining. How did that happen?

After the presents were opened we both booted up and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Scamp went once round and then left to get the cooking started. I went round for a second try for a PoD, and also to get used to my new wooly hat which I needed today with the temperature just above zero. The wooly hat worked, but the PoD now so much, but at least I had contenders.

While I was out dessert had been made. We had just enough time left for a quick lunch and then an equally quick shower before our Zoom meeting with the other pairs. We ended up about three minutes late, but who’s counting. Jamie and Sim had a few problems with their webcam, but once they had it working, the took the rest of us on a live tour of the house and the garden. Both Neil and I were really impressed with Jamie and Sim’s wireless connection as they wandered round the garden showing of the surroundings as well as the garden. Vixen slept through the entire Zoom call, apparently after tiring herself out playing with the new Kong that Hazel and Neil had sent. All in all, we thought it was a great virtual visit. Almost like being there. Maybe that will happen in the new year.

A little G ’n’ T was required while the chicken was in the oven. That gave the cook a chance to relax and gave me the chance to have a first look at the photos.

Dinner was:

Starter Prawn Cocktail
Main Roast Chicken with Roast Veg
Dessert. Lime Cheesecake

Of course, we both had too much to eat and possibly to drink and it took a while for all that excess to settle down.

I’d originally though about making bread for today, but it’s been postponed until tomorrow … at least. PoD turned out to be a nearly mono photo of an old bramble bush.

Rushing now to get this blog finished and posted before Christmas Day is done for another year.

Thank you Hazel and Neil for organising the Zoom meeting. Thank you Jamie and Simonne for the virtual tour of the house and thank you Scamp for being a brilliant chef for the day.

Tomorrow we may get some snow! Whether we go for a walk or not depends on the weather really, and whether we can walk after a day of over indulgence.


Crossing the Forth – 8 September 2021

It was a lovely morning and we weren’t going to waste it.

We had a few places in mind for today. Culross (just look away and roll your eyes, Hazy), Dunfermline and Kincardine were three of them. We settled on Kincardine and drove over to Fife and parked in the free car park beside a ‘new’ Coop building. The parentheses are because I still don’t think it’s a new building. I’m pretty sure there was a residential home on that spot a few years ago, probably the last time we were there. If you looked closely you could see the outline of windows that had been bricked up, given a new coat of render then painted. Fancy wood facing to the building completed the transformation. A quick look on Google Street View when we got home confirmed the makeover. It was a nursing home that used to be on that site. You can’t kid us!

We walked down through the old part of Kincardine where all the houses seem to be dropped into place and then roads are added as an afterthought. We found or way down to the path that runs along the side of the Forth, noting on our way the big bramble bushes with a healthy number of fat berries. We’d collect some of them on our way back.

Walked along past the, now redundant, piers that originally carried in coal to the Kincardine power station, now razed to the ground. An electrical substation now occupies part of the site. Not the most scenic of views past on the right, but great views across the Forth to Airth on the south of the estuary. The Forth is tidal at this point and the tide was out this morning exposing the mudbanks on both sides.

We walked under the Clackmannanshire Bridge, an elegant structure with a really clumsy name. Some bright spark renamed it the Clacks Bridge which trips off the tongue much more easily than its sixteen letter official name. We sat for a while on a seat kindly provided by the council with a plaque to tell people how thoughtful they are. NLC, there’s things you could learn here. From the seat we could look over to some buildings that looked like a farm and a ruin that turned out to be Kennetpans Distillery, allegedly the first commercial distillery in the world.

We sat soaking up the sun for a while before we headed back the same way to the car, stopping on the way to make good our promise to pick some of those black brambles. Unfortunately we didn’t have any poly bags with us, so Scamp used one of her shopping bags which got squashed later in the boot of the car, spreading bramble juice over everything. Back at the car we were heading for that terrible place that Hazy hates, may its name never be spoken in her presence. It was mobbed. We trundled through it with two cyclists who insisted on travelling so slowly they were in danger of losing their balance (it’s the gyroscopic effect of the spinning wheels that allows bikes to stay upright). Eventually we found a parking place off the road with a vacant picnic table where we could have coffee and crisps (and a chocolate biscuit) and christen our new flask. Then it was time to drive home.

I had intended going out on Dewdrop to get more brambles but the warm weather and the chance of a midweek beer put paid to that idea. Instead I finished a pastel painting I’ve been struggling with and then joined Scamp in the garden.

Dinner tonight was Neil’s Pulled Roast Chicken with Rice. Very summery and a fitting end to a good day out. Such a pity the good weather is forecast to end tomorrow, but we enjoyed it while it lasted.

PoD went to a picture of the Clacks Bridge taken from below to make the most of its curves.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch.

Out on Dewdrop – 31 August 2021

Not really a cycle run, more a bramble hunt.

In the morning Scamp went out to get something for tonight’s dinner and came home with three Tesco bags full. While she was out I tried connecting the old Tamron zoom lens onto the Sony A7M2. I’ve made a few changes to some of the buttons and they make it easier to use the lens in manual mode. It does seem to work quite well as a manual lens now and to be honest the autofocus was never all that good. Just a pity the anti-shake doesn’t work now, it was useful. I took some photos of Scamp’s sweet peas in their wee jug that Hazy gave her and they looked quite good. Have a look on Flickr if you get a chance.

After lunch I pumped up the tyres on the Dewdrop and took it out for a short run down to an old path beside the railway where I knew I would get some brambles. Sure enough there were loads of them there and because it’s only a path and about 100m from the road, the fruit would be free from the chemicals given out by the lorries and vans that clog that road. I found another patch on the way home and managed to come home with just over 700g of black berries that are now stored in the freezer.

While I was out Scamp had been making Viennese Fingers and part coating them in dark chocolate without burning her fingers, thanks to H&N’s gift of a silicone jug. What clever folk they are. I’ve been stuffing my face with the little biscuits and can confirm that they taste as good as they look.

I was too busy picking brambles to take any photos today, so after changing out of my cycling gear I took the Sony A7 out with the macro lens attached and got some close-up shots in St Mo’s. No insects today to photograph, but I did get a chance to practise my manual focus skills again and most of the shots looked ok.  It was a Birdsfoot Trefoil that got PoD manually focused of course.

I’d heard a strange engine note while I was messing around in the morning photographing posies of sweet peas.  After a bit of checking on Flightrader 24 it turned out to belong to a Spitfire a tandem trainer version which was built in 1945, making it five years older than me.  It seemed to be based for the last couple of days at Cumbernauld Airport.  I did think I might go up and see if I could get a few photos, but I’d promised to go and hunt some brambles for Scamp, but while I was out in St Mo’s in the afternoon I caught a glimpse of the plane completing a half loop with a roll off the top, an Immelmann Turn.  Sounded wonderful.  May go and have a look for it tomorrow if it’s still there.

Also tomorrow we may go somewhere interesting for a walk, because tomorrow may be us nearing the end of these balmy end of Summer days. Plus, it will be the first day of meteorological autumn.  Night’s will be fair drawing in!




We took Katy skating – 23 January 2021

It was a cold start again. No snow and only a little bit of ice, but frost covering all the cars.

We decided we’d make a fairly leisurely start today. In fact it was well into afternoon before we booted up and walked around St Mo’s. I reckoned there would be enough ice for Katy and there was. I took Scamp on a trek out into the wild woods at the back of St Mo’s. I thought I’d make a slight detour to show her my hibernating ladybird, but shock, horror, no ladybird. Perhaps the two sunny days recently have brought it out of its winter sleep. Let’s hope so. We did find a lush crop of hair ice on the exact same log I’d found it earlier in the month. Plenty of other logs nearby in the same state of degradation with no sign of the strange ice formation on them. Apparently it’s linked to a specific type of fungus. Strange stuff.

Katy had been wanting to go skating for weeks, but the thaw had put paid to her chances. I was sure the ice would be thick enough today and it was … but only just. I got her to pose and even as I was setting up the camera, I could tell that the ice was starting to melt. I could even see the dead leaves under the ice moving in the current. Took a swift half dozen or so shots from various angles. Some with extra illumination, some not. As we were walking away from the tiny pond I ’chimped’ them and none of them were truly sharp. Not to worry I was sure I’d find a more accessible shot on the other side of the big pond.

We walked round the pond after we’d survived the tangled brambles and the two leaps of faith across the burn. There I found what I was looking for. The rain from last week had frozen solid on the path making walking it without YakTrax treacherous. Not so for a minifig with ice skates. Katy posed again and this time I got the shot. Not perfect, but much better than the first shots. I have to be careful here. Katy is not technically a Weeman. She is a WeeWummin. She’s my ice skater. She made PoD.

Dinner was Fish Fingers and Baked Potato for Scamp and M&S Beef Burger with Baked Potato for me. Both washed down with a glass of Malbec. Not the best tasting wine I’ve ever had. It tasted raw and bitter to me, although Scamp found it really nice.

Entertainment started at 7.30pm in the form of a Zoom Dance. It was a particularly well attended dance and our feet are feeling the effects of dancing the night away. It finished just half an hour ago. Great fun as usual and another Zoom Class to look forward to tomorrow.

Apart from the dance class we may go out for a walk if the weather is conducive. It may be cold tomorrow as the temperature is -2.4c just now.

Temptation – 1 October 2020

I warned you yesterday that I was going to do it and today I did.

I swithered, that’s a good Scots word, isn’t it? It means I couldn’t decide quite what to do about the camera. Eventually I settled for leaving it until at least the afternoon before choosing whether to go in to Glasgow or not. Last night as I was going to bed, ‘Not’ was winning. Today I swithered. I laid my case before that preeminent judge, Scamp and she listened impartially without giving any decision, because she knew I’d make my own mind up when the time came.

After lunch I made the decision to go in to JL and hold the camera if they still had it. That’s always been my way to assess the usefulness of a camera. You can read as many reviews as you want. Balance the Pros and the Cons, but if it doesn’t feel comfortable in your hot little hands, you’re not going to use it. Many, many years ago I picked up a camera, a Sony strangely enough, and knew it was worth having. That was a Sony F707 which I still have (Scamp will tell you I still have all of them and that’s nearly true) and it still feels ‘right’ in my hands. It’s just got a few problems now that aren’t repairable, but I still don’t want to part with it.

So now I have a Sony A7 full frame camera with a 28 – 70mm lens sitting on the table in front of me. It’s second hand.  It’s been used and taken back to the shop. There are a couple of scratches on it, but nothing serious. Tomorrow I’ll take it out for a walk in St Mo’s along with the Oly E-M1 which knows St Mo’s fairly well and we’ll see what they can come up with. Little and Large.

The new camera’s battery was charging this afternoon, so I took the Oly out to get some photos in the sunshine. There wasn’t much doing, but it was good to walk about without a raincoat or a fleece on. Cool in the shade, but plenty warm in the sun. I just found out about fifteen minutes ago that I picked up a tick on my travels. First one I’ve had in ages. Must be less blasé about them. I know our minds are on Covid just now, but there are other nasties out there, waiting for the unwary.

While I was out, Scamp was making mince ’n’ tatties with cabbage and carrots. She, of course, denied herself the pleasure of the mince and had the veggie version. Dessert was stewed apples and rhubarb with custard. Our own apples and rhubarb. All the apples have now been picked and the rhubarb too is finished until next year.

Today being the first of October is the start of Inktober. Today’s sketch is of one of the fish statues we saw in Corralejo back in 2016.  It will do to cover today’s topic of ‘Fish’. PoD was a bramble leaf from St Mo’s.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but the weather looks reasonable, so we may go for a walk somewhere interesting.

Out on the bike – 30 August 2020

With a little fruit picking too.

One of those mornings when you wake early and can’t get back to sleep, so the best thing to do is get up and have breakfast. That’s what I intended to do, but instead I took breakfast back to bed and read for an hour. After that there were dishes to do (in the dishwasher) and washing to do (in the washing machine). With the machines doing all the grunt work, I settled down to read the news on my phone with a cup of coffee and a catch-up with Scamp still in University-city, St Andrews. Hung out he washing, although the complete absence of any sort of breeze meant it would take the clothes a long time to dry, despite the warm air temperature. Not to worry, I’d plenty of time.

I took the Dewdrop out for a run, but as well as my usual camera in the rucksack, I’d a couple of poly bags to collect some brambles. Now, you may know them as Blackberrys and argue that it’s the plant that’s the Bramble. If that’s the case, then you’re probably not Scottish and definitely not Central Scottish. Here it’s the economic language. Why have two names for what is essentially the same thing. The bushes AND the fruits are Brambles. That’s it settled. Those wee black berries (note the subtle difference that space makes) were in much shorter supply than I’d anticipated and it took me some time to find a good fruit bearing bush, but eventually I managed to pick just over 300g of black fruit.

While I was out I noticed a whole host of swallows congregating on the overhead lines and wondered if it’s almost time for them to make their annual migration to warmer climes.  I also wondered, as I have before, how they know it’s time and if they can sense the change of the seasons much more accurately than we mere humans can.

I’d only been home for about 10 minutes when Scamp arrived. We compared car journeys and weather, then it was time to make dinner. Tonight we were having Veg Chilli with just about everything that wasn’t bolted down going into the pot. After some delicate adjustments to the spicing and the condiments we settled down to a fairly tasty chilli. No recipe was needed or recorded. Sometimes that’s the best way, unless you want to make a second lot sometime in the future, then you’ve to try to rack your brains to remember what went into that great chilli you made ages ago. Maybe one of these days I’ll write it down, but I doubt it.

Watched the Ferraris having a terrible time at the Belgian GP with, maybe, a little snigger. Also watched George Russel escape unscathed from what could have been a very nasty accident when a wheel from another car came bounding towards him at a reported 125mph (how do they know what speed the wheel was travelling at?).
Other than that it was a dire day for Ferrari and a great day for Mercedes and Hamilton in particular.

That was about it apart from sampling another new bottle of gin with the addition of a grapefruit slice to spice things up. PoD was a picture of three cows in a field composed using rule of thirds and PoD because I liked it.

Tomorrow we have no real plans.