Emptying bags – 18 May 2022

There’s not much you can say about driving 250ish miles with a couple of stops.

Actually it was a fairly pleasant drive up through the west highlands to Fort William where we stopped for lunch and essentials like beer, wine and prosecco, and also to take on some really expensive petrol. Not the most expensive petrol we saw, because further on in our journey at Loch Cluanie we found an out of the way hotel with petrol on sale for £1.99 per litre!

We passed Eilean Donan Castle, but didn’t stop although a lot of folk did pause to photograph the biscuit tin castle that isn’t nearly as old as it looks. No, we went on over the bridge which has lost some of its elegance with a new conveyer belt stretching out to a deep water mooring for ships to take on what looks like gravel from an excavation. Such a pity. I’d still photograph it if the light was right and then just photoshop out the offending structure. We made our second stop near Loch Ainort to photograph the falls. They weren’t as impressive as they sometimes are, but it wasn’t raining and there was the opportunity to get the camera out of the bag and I wasn’t going to pass up on the chance! It’s a long time, and many cameras ago, since I last took pictures of them. That became PoD.

We didn’t bother to stop in Portree, but carried on to Digg and pulled up at Jackie and Murdo’s house around 5.30pm. Not a bad time after leaving home about 10.45am. A cup of coffee in the house and time for Scamp and her sister to catch up on preparations for Jaki’s wedding. Just a quick stop to break our journey before we drove to the cottage. Our holiday home for a week.

Just had time to start unpacking all those bags and then we walked down to J&M’s, which is barely 200m from the cottage, for dinner. After dinner and after Murdo had shooed off his brother and his sister in law, we sat in the living room, me with a glass of very nice Johnnie Walker Black Label and Scamp and sister with a G ’n’ T, while Murdo took up station in the kitchen watching Rangers ultimately lose the championship 5-4 on penalties. Such a terrible way to lose. We spoke to Mairi later and she had us in stitches with her stories of the bride and the bridesmaids antics getting a spray tan for the wedding. A spray tan in Skye?

We left later and made our way back to the cottage, were I’m writing this.

Tomorrow we may make our usual journey round the top of the island and down to Portree. The big city!


Change of plan

Driving to Perth for coffee. But …

I intended driving up to Perth today to get some coffee from my favourite tea and coffee shop, but on the way there I was calculating how much petrol I’d use and how much the drive would cost me. When I worked it out, it would be way cheaper to just order it online and pay the £3 delivery charge. So I changed my destination to Kincardine. At least I could get a walk and some different photos, plus free parking. The weather wasn’t great, with the rain clouds building from the west, but I got some interesting views, well, I think so anyway. The rain was just starting when I was halfway home, it hasn’t stopped. Kincardine did, however, provide today’s PoD.

I came home via Tesco to get something for lunch and some milk. No alcohol today. Now, I’m not saying that’s because Scamp isn’t at home this weekend, that’s purely coincidental!

Struggled with my Sudoku after the late lunch but it still remains unsolved until tomorrow. Couldn’t quite decide what would be dinner tonight. Would it be home made pizza or Golden Bowl. I eventually gave in and had Golden Bowl make me a fairly decadent Sweet and Sour Chicken Balls with Fried Rice. My only complaint was the fried rice was a bit soggy, but the sweet and sour was delicious. I know I’ll suffer for it tonight, but I don’t really care.

Finally finished Amongst Our Weapons. The little short story at the end was confusing, but added to the title, I felt.

I’ve just finished a photo swap with Alex showing our favourite photos from the last week or so. Really good to have someone to bounce ideas off.

Jamie sent some cracking photos of his day off in NYC. Beautiful skyline behind him on the boat. I really hope Time Square is equally good. You deserve it Jamie.

That’s it for today. Now I need to go and get the house looking more like a home than a student flat!

Tomorrow Scamp returns and expects everything to be just like she left it! It might be!

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.

Off exploring – 8 March 2022

This looked like the last good day for a while, so we went walking again.

We were off to East Kilbride today to Calderglen Country Park. One of EK’s best kept secrets. I think they just want it kept neat and tidy with none of the scruff from Glasgow and North Lanarkshire allowed access. But the reckoned without us. We’d been there before, when there were signs showing where it was and how to get in, so we got in!

It really is a lovely park with walks through steep sided glens and bridges across rushing streams. Well, actually it’s just bridges across the same rushing stream, but who’s counting. Most of the paths were in good nick, but there were a few places that could perhaps have done with a fence to prevent the unwary from taking a tumble. We didn’t take a tumble, but the opportunity was there. Light was lovely, especially since the trees are still bare, allowing it to shine through the branches and cast long shadows on the ground.

As we walked, we both remembered different bits of the path as we reached them. I’m not sure we had walked the full circuit we did today, the last time we were there, but certainly bits of it were familiar. I made a few miscalculations photographically speaking. I was finding it difficult to get focus on a big patch of snowdrops through the tracery of tree branches and set the camera to manual focus just to check that I was controlling it, not the other way round. It was only after taking a good dozen photos, I realised I hadn’t set it back to automatic. Luckily nobody but me would notice the difference! In fact the PoD was one of the slightly out of focus shots.

Lots of folk with lots of dogs. I think we only passed two people who didn’t have a four legged animal trotting along beside them. Most of the folk were friendly with a smile and a “Morning!” However, there were some who didn’t recognise our faces and just KNEW we were outsiders. Maybe Glasgow ‘Keelies’ or worse still, North Lanarkshire Louts, here to steal our scenery or leave litter everywhere. They were the ones who didn’t speak.

We had hoped to have a seat, a coffee and a bite to eat at the end of our walk, but there was a 20 – 30min wait for a table at the cafe and food was going to take between 15 and 20mins. Gone were my chances of a roll ’n’ sausage with fried onions. Instead we both settled for a flat white and slice of tipsy cake to eat in the car. Eat in the car, because there was a really cold wind getting up and we didn’t want to sit on the wooden benches in the outside courtyard chittering. Drove home afterwards with half the tipsy cake to eat later.

That was about it for the day. Dinner tonight was Muttar Paneer (Peas and Indian cheese) for dinner. Scamp made the dinner, I made the flat bread.

Happy 8th Wedding Anniversary to Jamie and Sim. Hope you had a great day.

Tomorrow looks wet, in fact I do believe the weather is practising as I write! Maybe another bread kit tomorrow.

Off the leash – 17 December 2021

Scamp was out at a Witches Christmas lunch at Moira’s. Do witches ‘do’ Christmas? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Or am I just showing off now? Answers on a postcard please.

That was after a rather fractious morning. I thought we were going to Torwood and Scamp thought we were going to Calders. After a dodgy manoeuvre crossing lanes in a thankfully fairly quiet motorway and a great deal of swearing on my part and silence on Scamp’s we did arrive safely at Calders. Later I apologised and agreed that she was right (as always).

Then, heading home empty handed, Calders not having the plant she was looking for, we dropped in at Tesco, looking for a box big enough to pack some (a lot of ) Christmas prezzies. Again I returned empty handed. No packing boxes big enough for our needs. We tried M&S, but still no packing boxes. Finally I tried Iceland and asked one of the assistants if they had any empty cardboard boxes. She asked how big and I made the usual accurate dimensions by holding my hand, palms facing and moved them from about 300mm to about 1m apart. Yes, about that size. She returned with a box nearly big enough to fit my car in. Yes, I said, that would do nicely. Thanked the young lady and we drove home with the box, now folded down, still taking up all the space in the back of the car.

After we’d bundled the box out of the car we had just enough time for a coffee before we headed off to Dunnipace to Moira’s house. As we were heading east, the sky was lightening and there was blue sky out there. After I dropped Scamp off at the lunch / party, I headed further east, asking the sat nav to give me directions to Kincardine in the Kingdom of Fife. It found it without any problem and soon I was driving over the Kincardine Bridge and parking.

I took the Benbo tripod with me. It lives most of its life in the boot of the blue car. Took my Sony A7 too. I knew where I was heading and soon I was set up on a strip of sand by the river with just enough time for half a dozen shots before the tide started lapping around the feet of the tripod. I moved back to the asphalt path and walked round the bridge itself, marvelling at the light and the open space here. Less than half an hour later I was walking back to the car, talking on my phone to Fred who had phoned me for a wee blether. After we’d said our bit and then said our goodbyes, I drove home with enough time for a plate of soup before the Tesco man brought three boxes of messages. I just decanted everything from their crates and left them on the work surface, the cooker lid and anywhere they’d sit safely, then phoned Scamp for an update on the time to pick her up.

Checked the photos and knew right away that they were a good set. Fifty three shots taken, five rejected immediately. That left 48 good sharp shots. That must be a success record for me. Phoned Scamp at 5pm to tell her I was on my way. I always get lost going into Moira’s estate. Today I’d set myself markers and knew where to turn left and when to turn right. For some reason it worked perfectly. Spoke to the witches. Moira as welcoming as ever and Annette pretending she was drunk and convincing nobody. It’s all just a laugh and good friendship. Unfortunately Covid had put an end to the Auld Guys coffee mornings in Costa and beers in The Horseshoe Bar. Maybe they’ll return next year, but I have my doubts. Dinner for me was a rather excellent, but gigantic pizza. Half waiting for me for lunch tomorrow.

The real bad news of the day was that the dance class has failed to generate enough interest from dancers this week and Stewart informed us that it is with regret that tomorrow’s class is cancelled. I hope this is all to do with last minute Christmas shopping and not Covid and it will return stronger in the new year.

PoD was a picture of the Kincardine Bridge with afternoon sunshine lighting it up.

Tomorrow we may go for a walk somewhere scenic and somewhere without shops.