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.

One out, one in – 15 March 2022

DPD were working overtime today.

My Sony A7ii was being collected this morning to go to MPB in Brighton. Later in the day I was expecting a box of coffee and tea from The Bean Shop in Perth. One out, one in.

The DPD man came to collect my camera right on time and off it went with a sticker on it that had the same number as the sticker that’s fixed with a magnet to the fridge door. One down. Not long after I got the message to say that my driver would deliver my parcel just after midday. Sure enough, the bloke knocked the door and photographed me lifting the parcel from the mat. I will drink tea and coffee today!

That left the rest of the day free. It’s a while since we’ve been out for a walk together. Scamp sometimes walks down to the shops herself and I often walk round St Mo’s myself. I suggested to her that maybe we should both go out together today. Just a walk round Broadwood Loch. She agreed and we walked down towards the loch, but she wasn’t interested in doing the round trip, so we chose the shorter version, over the plastic boardwalk and down round the new water management drainage ditch (first time we’ve been round that) and then round the exercise machines before stopping at the shops for oranges and milk. I did think of going for a circuit of St Mo’s pond, but decided just to go home as I’d a few shots that looked interesting.

Dinner tonight was Creamy Chicken, Mushrooms and Rice. Another Scamp favourite. She thought it needed salt and pepper. I agreed on the salt. It was actually fine without it, but the salt just gave it a bit more taste.

Heard the news from Nick the Chick that we have to wear face masks in shops and on public transport until the beginning of April. A bit disappointing, but that’s just the way her head works. Belts & Braces are her style and you have to believe she’s doing it for the good of our health, rather than to look good to the great unwashed as some other politicians do.

We had a quick practise at the new waltz and I think I can tentatively say that I can complete the first section without too many mistakes. I’m not sure I’ll be able to say that again tomorrow, but maybe the dancing gods will look down and smile at my attempts.

PoD turned out to be a shot I took with the A6000 from the boardwalk. Actually, it’s gone through a fair number of changes since it landed on Lightroom this afternoon. A lot of changes, but for the better.

It’s my turn to go for coffee tomorrow. Meeting John and Val at Costa in the morning. The rest of the day is our own.


Round the pond

And into the bog.

It was a beautiful morning with blue skies and light fluffy clouds. The only problem was we had no destination in mind to view this wonderful day from. After a lot of procrastination we finally settled on Broadwood Loch with the added extension of the walk through the woods. So, booted up, we set off into the morning.

I’m not that keen on the walk round Broadwood. Apart from the resident swans and the cormorants there’s not much of interest to see there, but the extension into the woodland does sometimes spring a few surprises, like the occasional deer which seem to view humans as a necessary part of the landscape and nothing to get fussed about. There were no deer today though. What we did find was a fir tree with Christmas baubles hanging from its branches. We had no idea why someone would provide this entertainment for people visiting the woodland, but it created a photo opportunity.

Further into the woods, we came to the part that’s usually flooded and that was the state of it today. I went first as Genghis Pathfinder trying to find the best way through the mud and murky water. I picked the wrong route and sank ankle deep in the mud, backtracked and discovered the water was only half as deep. As I led Scamp through the water which barely covered the rubber soles of her boots, a bloke coming the opposite way decided that it would be safer to go back the way he had come than to risk his new trainers getting dirty or wet. Actually both of us got through with dry feet. More a testament to the construction of our footwear than to my navigation skills.

We were past the worst of the wetland and walked on round the remainder of the loch and then past the exercise machines to the shops. Curry for dinner and ice cream for afters was the reason for the visit and we headed for home feeling so much better for the walk.

After lunch I decided I needed more photos to bolster my small collection from the morning’s walk. I brushed off most of the mud from my jeans and put my boots back on then carrying the 105mm macro lens on my Sony A7, I walked over to St Mo’s. I missed a deer on the other side of the road, deep in the woods, but got a few shots of Cladonia lichen in a nice little bit of afternoon light in the boggy area near the motorway slip road. Quite happy with the afternoon’s haul, I headed back over St Mo’s park and found that some kind soul had planted some crocuses into the grass. Nice little splash of blue/purple and those were the last shots today, but they didn’t quite make the cut.

M&S curry for dinner. Chicken for me and Veg for Scamp with ice cream to follow. I actually sat and read for a while tonight after the photos were posted on Flickr. The book was The Second Cut by Louise Welsh . Good story, but better read as the sequel to The Cutting Room which I read 20 years ago! TWENTY YEARS AGO!! PoD was one of the Cladonia pictures. The Christmas tree in Broadwood is on Flickr too.

We have no plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks good.


Happy Anniversary to us – 30 January 2022

Not the legal one, but the one we celebrate.

The other anniversary, next month is just the day we made it legal. This one is more important. If it hadn’t happened, the second one wouldn’t have happened either.

Because this was a special day we lay in bed and read for longer than was absolutely necessary. Then because the weather fairies were warning of heavy rain and strong winds later, we chose to go for a walk in the morning. The destination was Broadwood Loch and we walked round then over to the exercise machines and home via M&S for a steak for me and some oranges for Scamp. Back home for lunch and to check out today’s only picture. Actually it was three pictures of the same fencepost with its little garden on top. Never only take one picture of something interesting, just in case something happens, it’s out of focus, it’s a little bit shaken or and elephant charges past and blocks the view of the subject. Two or even better, three shots will usually suffice.

Lunch was calling and although my two slice of bacon and an egg was minimal for me, it needed to be after yesterday’s over eating and drinking. Watched the new replacement politics show for Andrew Marr. Not a patch on the great man. Sophie Raworth is trying hard, but she’s just not as incisive as the great man. Today she was interviewing Liz Truss. My heavens, that woman just sounds like a Tory. That same hectoring voice and a stare that would put a basilisk to shame.

Satisfied that the photo had worked, we settled down to do today’s Wordle. It appears that my spellchecker hasn’t heard of it yet. It’s an addictive word game where you only get six tries to find a five letter word. It’s a bit like the old Mastermind peg game, but alphabetical. I’m sure you’ve tried it, Hazy. Jamie, maybe not so much. Scamp likens it to the crossword puzzles my dad used to do many year ago. If you haven’t hear of it, Google it. It’s not Angry Birds or Candy Crush, it’s not going to steal away hours of your life and leave you wondering what happened to today.

I had thought about going over to St Mo’s to augment my three shots, but there was no need. I was satisfied with the quality and composition of my finished article. Besides it was time to get the dinner ready. My steak was just excellent. Maybe slightly overcooked, but it hadn’t lost any flavour by that. Scamp’s fish looked lovely too, but it was trout or salmon and I’m not a great fan. Our accompaniment was baked potato and cabbage.

As we were cooking dinner that wind started rising and the rain was driving through. I for one was glad we weren’t going out later. Jamie too was commenting that he was lucky for once and had timed his return from the US to perfection, just missing their snow-bomb. He seemed to enjoy the visit and the pizzas, although a pizza topped with mashed potato and bacon didn’t appeal to me.

Tomorrow looks like a repeat of today.  More rain, more wind.  That’s Scotland!  Scamp may be going for coffee with June.  I’ve two letters to write.  Hopefully I’ll get at least one done.

It’s raining again – 3 January 2022

I’m beginning to sound like a broken record, but hopefully there are better days ahead.

It might be that it’s just this dull time after the sparkle of Christmas and the fireworks of New Year (yes, there were fireworks still, despite Omicron). Now that we’ve exited the weekend and are back to what my dad used to call “Auld Claes and Purrich”. You’ve probably heard me talk about it before, but it really sums this month up. It’s all over for another year. This week the decorations come down, the tree is packed away and the Christmas cards are put into the recycling bin. It’s back to normal life.

With that gloom out of the way, what were we going to do with today? First thing was to cut some kale to add to the leftover yesterday’s soup. Put a little iron in your diet. It won’t do you any harm and it might just do you some good.

Next we changed the jolly Snowman tablecloth for a clean and lighter coloured one. That meant the computer could go back on the table and I could get some things ironed out that needed fixing. I did eventually get round to it, but it took a little (a lot) more time than I’d anticipated. It always does. By that time it was lunch time and the soup was ready.

After lunch I went out looking for some photo paper, but Tesco had none, in fact neither of the two Tescos had any photo paper. I got some heavyweight high quality paper that might do at a pinch, but I’m not sure it’s quite photo paper standard. We’ll see. I also bought another pair of cheap true wireless headphones. Skullcandy this time. My original TWH are losing their pairing ability and music jumping through my head from one side to the other is ok for Pink Floyd, but not for more gentle sounds and really, really distracting when you’re listening to YouTube videos. The sound from the Skullcandys is usually good, but these were cheap and so is the sound. Oh well, at least the music doesn’t jump through my head. While I was out I dropped by Broadwood Loch looking for a suitable PoD, but I’d left it a bit late and the sun was setting. A bunch of young gulls gave me a chance to use the long zoom lens on the A6000. Not brilliant, but with a bit of work, it looked not bad.

Back home I struggled further with the Lightroom Catalog Problem and got things working. All it needed was a night’s sleep last night and all the knots that were tying up the problem fell away and the problem was solved.

Dinner was three different types and colours of pasta shapes with a Carbonara sauce. Followed by the remains of yesterday’s apple pie served with custard. Perfect end to any meal.

No plans for tomorrow. The weather fairies say the North wind will blow and we may have snow and what will the robin do then, poor thing? Probably the same as us, have dinner and try to keep warm. The temp just now has just gone sub-zero and I’m off to bed. G’night.

The first day of a new year – 1 January 2022

A day when some people make resolutions they have no intention of keeping. I’ll cut out the middle man by not making any resolutions in the first place.

The day dawned quite bright then lost some of its early brightness. But then, surprise surprise, the brightness returned. Would we? Wouldn’t we go out for a walk? I said wait and see if it lasts, Scamp prowled round the living room like a caged beast and I eventually gave in and put my boots on. The irresistible force always beats the immovable object.

We walked over towards Broadwood Loch where we played our usual game of each taking turns at choosing a direction to go when there was an actual choice. Scamp chose first and her’s was an easy choice. Right would have meant a short walk and we weren’t doing short walks today because the sun was still shining and the day looked set for fair. Left it was and all the way along the side of the loch. She cheated a bit and made the second choice for me by declaring that the winding path through the woods would probably be waterlogged today, so we went right and around to the other side of the loch. I got the feeling that clockwise was the wrong way today as everyone seemed to be meeting us face on, rather than overtaking us, or us overtaking them. However, there are no rules at Broadwood, so we marched on. My choice next was a left turn to extend the walk past the exercise machines and a joint decision for the last choice was to go right and pass between the stadium and the BMX track and from there the decisions were made for us to find our way home.

All in all, it was about 4 miles of undulating track with some chances for photos. My favourite, and PoD was two joggers crossing paths over Broadwood Dam. I reduced it to mono because there was very little colour in it.

Spoke to Hazy in the afternoon and heard how her med reduction is going  and also how others in the family are fairing in these Omicron days, and how percieved protections aren’t to be relied upon!  Speaking about Omicron, I noticed a pair of Omnicron sunglasses for sale in Boots the other week.  They were reduced.  I’d imagine they weren’t selling all that well, even with that extra ‘n’ in their name!

Posh dinner tonight with three courses seated at the table. Starter was Prawn Cocktail. Main was Trout Fillet and sweetcorn for Scamp, Rump Steak and mushrooms for me. Both served with roast potatoes. I pan fried my steak in the fancy grill pan that gets blindingly hot if you don’t use the silicone handles which Scamp forgot to put on before she moved it, resulting in an ice pack for her right index finger and thumb. It meant I had to do the serving or the Apple Crumble with Custard for pudding. Scamp had made it with our the last of our own apples that had been in the freezer since early autumn. They tasted just as good as fresh ones.

Scamp managed to elicit sympathy at every possible juncture tonight and I have to admit it was a good act. Let’s hope the burn is healing by tomorrow.

Tomorrow, we have no real plans, but the temperature is set to take a drop over this coming week, so we might manage another walk if it stays dry. Possibly having Shona over for dinner.

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!


Walking round Broadwood – 12 October 2021

It was such a dull day with the ever-present threat of rain … again.

We were sitting doing nothing all morning when Scamp declared that she was going out for a walk. I was told I could join her if I wanted to, but if not she would go herself. I didn’t see it as a challenge, exactly, but decided I’d tag along for the walk. I’d been yawning most of the morning and needed the exercise. So did my A6000 and my TZ 90 that I’d recently hoovered out to get rid of most of the dust between the elements of the lens. This would be a good chance to see if it had worked.

Broadwood was Scamp’s choice of venue. It’s certainly not mine. It’s just a big manmade pond that had great potential as a watersports venue, but the council refused to fund it, so they left it as it was and by doing so, called it a wildlife area. It does have a path round around it and an extension of the path into the woods is at least slightly more interesting. However, we weren’t going into the woods today because after a few days of rain the paths get flooded and too muddy to walk through without wellies, or better still waders. Today we were just doing the circuit. I did manage to take a few photos, but not too many as the sun never really got its act together and the clouds broke, only to reform again in heavier clumps. PoD was a shot of a cormorant on what used to be called Swan Island, but which is now owned by the cormorants and mallards. It was taken by the TZ90 and seems to be proof that the clean up worked, at least on a dull day. The big test will be when the sun shines. Then the remaining dust spots will show themselves.

Back home and after lunch the rain that never came was still threatening, and since I had a potential PoD I started processing the photos I’d taken. I also did some research for today’s sketch which was “Stuck”. I’d already decided what it was to be, I just needed a picture to get the angle of the shoe correct. As usual, Google Images came up trumps. Finally I phoned Fred and arranged a meeting for coffee tomorrow morning. We should have been going to Margie’s in the afternoon tomorrow, but she has a trapped nerve in her leg and called off. I understand just how painful that can be now.

Steak and kidney for me for dinner with potatoes and cauliflower. Scamp substituted lentil based veggie mince for steak and kidney and both plates looked remarkably similar.

Tomorrow morning Scamp is booked at Tim Hortons for coffee with Jeanette and I’m hoping to meet Fred at Costa.

A change of scenery – 28 September 2021

This was a lazy day and a wet one too.

Scamp was out meeting Annette for a coffee and I put some washing in the machine and set it to work while I worked upstairs. I removed the part finished pastel painting I’d been working on, because I wasn’t going to take it any further. It’s now pinned on the wall for appraisal.

Next task was to get my pens washed and primed ready for Inktober which is fast approaching. It’s a footery job. First you have to soak the nibs in a cleaning solution that has cleaned so many pens that it’s become 75% ink itself. Next that solution has to be washed out and the nibs dried. Finally I filled the pens with Higgins black fountain pen ink. My favourite drawing ink. Three pens are now ready to produce some excellent artworks, or failing that, my usual clumsy attempt at ink sketches.

The last task on my list was to produce a photo for the title page of this year’s Inktober group. The photography took about fifteen minutes, but trying to import the shot into Flickr is a nightmare. It tells you to drag the picture to your chosen position, but you can’t drag it. Actually it was fine where I’d put it, then when you save it, it changes the whole format of the title. It’s no use complaining to the staff on their badly named “Help” page. All they say is try to find a workaround. Excuse me, I’m paying for the privilege of finding my own workaround. That doesn’t seem like a good deal from my point of view. I get that the staff are actually unpaid volunteers, but who, then is collecting my subs every year? And what are they doing for that payment?
Answers, as always, on a postcard.

Maybe I was just in a bad mood because I found a tick on my arm this morning. A tiny little one that’s now a lot flatter than it was earlier on. I hate ticks.

With the pens washed, the title page finished and my anger abating, I hung out the washing and that was when Scamp returned. When we were having lunch some workies, who had erected scaffolding yesterday at a house across the road started stripping the roughcast off its gable end. The noise really got on my nerves, so I suggested we go out for a walk, and then noticed it was raining. Should I take the washing in, or let it have an extra rinse. “Leave it”, was Scamp’s suggestion as she started moving the furniture around. That’s the signal for a dance practise and that’s what we did for about half an hour, maybe not as long as that. It took my mind off the rain and the incessant hammering. Then the sun came out, so I got the Big Dog and a couple of lenses and went to take some photos down at Broadwood Loch. That’s where today’s PoD came from.

When I came home I made Carrot and Orange soup which was nowhere near as delightful as it sounds. Neither of us could agree on what was wrong with it, but we did agree that it wasn’t nice. Back to the drawing board. I’m thinking Carrot and Ginger or Carrot and Apple for tomorrow, perhaps.

Tomorrow we may go for a run somewhere we haven’t been for a long time. That’s all I’m saying just now.

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.