Stuffing bags – 17 May 2022

Scamp was out this morning, early and I decided I should make a final push at stuffing things into bags.

Yes, but stuffing things into bags in such a way that I’d be able to find them again later! That took up most of the morning, by which time Scamp had returned with confetti and cards, because we’re going to a wedding, not today, thankfully, but soon.

Bag stuffing completed and purchasing completed we settled down to lunch.

With some time to spare, I wangled a 3 for today’s Wordle. Scamp wasn’t so lucky, with a 6, but at least she did get the word, which is the target to aim for some days. If you haven’t a clue what I’m talking about, search the interweb for Wordle and join the people driven crazy by this addictive word puzzle. It’s like the old ‘70s peg game Mastermind with a touch of Scrabble thrown in for good measure.

That entertained us for a while before we had to decide what dinner was going to be. I suggested the easy way out – get an instant curry from M&S. That seemed to hit the spot and off we went in search of that quarry. We found a couple of new curries on the shelves. Scamp chose a Prawn Bhuna and I had a Lamb Rogan Josh we also had some Onion Bhajis. We walked back up the road and Scamp volunteered to take the food home which gave me the chance of a walk round St Mo’s. Found today’s PoD near the pond. It’s an as yet unidentified spider with its dinner of a black fly. No macro lens today, so this was captured with the kit lens.

Back home with just enough time to get changed before we headed off for the last week of Jamie Gal’s little pop-up salsa class at the Fort Theatre in Bishopbriggs. Such good fun, and such a pity he doesn’t have the time to keep it going. I’ll miss the exercise on a Tuesday night.

Back home the Bhuna was too much for Scamp so I ‘helped’ her to finish it as well as my own. The verdict was that the Bhuna was just hot enough to be comfortable. The Rogan Josh was good, but needed salt and the Bhajis were just ok. At least we didn’t need to cook it.

Heavy rain tonight that is due to last through the night, leaving a better day tomorrow. Let’s hope they got it right.

 

The runaway wean – 15 May 2022

Today we went for a walk round Chatelherault park in Hamilton.

It was my choice to go there today. We could have gone to Drumpellier, but Sundays are really busy there, even if you avoid the ‘conveyer belt’ and walk into the woods. Besides, it’s been a while since Scamp and I have been out for a walk in Chatelherault. Then I found out that there was a Craft & Design fair there today. That would make it a bit busier, I thought, but we’d still manage a walk round the many miles of paths in the park.

A Sunday morning drive and a walk in the park. That would be good. When we got there it became obvious that the C&D fair was a bit attraction because the main car park was almost completely full, but we knew of a better and much quieter parking area and it was almost deserted by comparison. Parked and walked up to the ‘Big House’, and I was right, the place was jumping. Lots of stalls and hundreds of people. Scamp found the stall she was looking for and they had the exact things she was looking for. With the deal sealed, we stood and talked the the husband and wife who run the stall and who make most of the articles themselves. We’ve known them for years and always catch up, finding out how their families are doing and updating them on how ours is getting on. We said our goodbyes to allow them the space to bring in more customers and I suggested a walk down past the steel sculptures my brother photographs so well. From there I was fairly sure we could do a circular walk to bring us back to the Big House again.

We walked down the path to the sculptures and passed a couple with a little girl on what looked like her first two wheeler bike with stabilisers. She was having a bit of bother getting the bike to stay on the path and the dad was giving instructions while he worked with his phone. When we were about half way down I could hear the mother shouting at the girl to slow down, but with the rattling of the stabilisers, it seemed that the wee girl was accelerating. There was no way she knew how to stop, she was just hanging on and she was going at quite a speed. I reckoned I could stop her without tipping her over the bars, so I stood right in her path and grabbed the handlebars as she rode right into me. Got her stopped and asked her if she was OK. She said yes! The mother was racing down the hill and caught up with us, out of breath. She apologised and just kept thanking me. The bloke was still standing at the top of the hill, still reading something on his phone. He said nothing except “You should have pulled the brake”. Some folk shouldn’t be allowed to have weans.

We got some photos of the sculptures, of David Livingstone, William Wallace and Robert Owen. Impressive looking chunks of rusted steel, but the numpty who decided they should put a seat behind them and spoil the effect was obviously not a photographer or an artist.

As I suspected, there was a circular path that took us back to the Big House and it was a lovely walk through bluebell woods. I took a few photos of the bluebells, but it was a single Celandine growing out of the path that got PoD.

When we got back to the Big House it was Scamp who found another line of stalls, but there was nothing there to interest her. We bought a couple of coffees from a van with a proper coffee machine installed and while I was waiting for them, Scamp bought a couple of pieces of fish from another van. Drove home with the air-con on full for the first time this year, I think.

Stornoway Black Pudding and an egg each for lunch, then I gave the car its first wash for ages. I used a spray to remove seagull crap and it worked a treat. Then a quick soapy wash and a rinse with water from Bobby’s outside tap.

My dinner had been defrosting since we went out this morning. It was 500g of really nice stewing steak, Scamp had brought back From St Andrews. Carefully cooked it under Scamp’s instructions while she did the washing and hung it out to dry. It was a strange day. It was really quite warm, but occasionally there would be a sprinkling of rain that never really got anywhere.

Dinner was lovely. Scamp was going to have some of the fish, but settled for Ratatouille instead. My stew was maybe a bit over cooked, but still tasted like the quality meat it was.

Spoke to Jamie later and heard all about their walking holiday in Yorkshire. It did sound interesting, but quite strenuous too. Another big week for him this coming week.

No great plans for tomorrow. Not intending to catch any runaway weans!

 

Back and Forth – 11 May 2022

After yesterday’s strange behaviour of the Blue car, I was hoping for some resolution, or at least an explanation.

Before that could happen, there was some coffee to be drunk and some stories to be told. Before even that, Scamp was out to get her hair cut. With that done successfully, we headed hesitantly to the Costa in the Town Centre. Nothing untoward happened and the blue car behaved very well.

I met Val and we had Flat Whites and a cake each. He was telling me he’d had a fall and showed me the bruises to prove it. He has been renovating a 1946 radio. Val loves a challenge and this was certainly that. Of course, something of that age doesn’t have transistors inside, it runs on valves. Glass valves with all sorts of coils and things inside them and a multitude of pins protruding from the base. I told him I remember my dad taking the valves out of our old radio and cleaning all those fine pins with emery paper, dusting them off and carefully putting them back in place. It was a wonderful thing when he could tune into radio stations in faraway places and hear folk talking in foreign languages. Nowadays we just take without thinking that you can see and hear what’s happening all over the globe, instantly on TV or on your phone even. I admire Val’s ability to rebuild these old devices.  I showed him the photos in a photobook Scamp and I had had printed of our long weekend in Old Newton.  Jamie and Simonne, he was very impressed with the house and garden, as was Isobel when she saw the book.

I had a word with Isobel who was with Sheila in a different part of Costa’s. She looks so much younger now that she doesn’t need glasses after her cataract surgery. A very independent woman she delighted in telling me that she manages to put her drops in by herself.

I drove Val home because he’s feeling a bit stiff after his fall and also because he’s lost a bit of his confidence. Then I went and filled up the blue car before picking up Scamp and Isobel then took the lady with the new all seeing eye back to the Village.

Drove to Stirling, ready for a fight, as Scamp described it. The young bloke on the desk listened to my story and started telling me they didn’t have any free appointments today, then when I said I needed the car for next week he relented and managed to get me a slot at 4pm today. I thanked him and we drove home, had a bit of lunch before hoovering up all the sticky tree buds that always appear at this time of year. When I thought the car was looking at least a bit tidier than it had been I drove to Stirling again. Dropped off the keys and sat down to read my Kindle which I’d been bright enough to bring with me. Just over an hour later the young bloke came over and showed me the printout from the computer the blue car had been connected to. He agreed that there half a dozen different failures the test had thrown up. The mechanic had cleared all the fails and re-tested the car and it came up clean, so it was safe to drive. I thanked him for getting me the slot and for dealing with it so promptly, and I was on my way back home, through the rush hour traffic. I’d hate to have to drive through that every day. Fish and chips for dinner. Just what I needed after a stressful day.

The weather today was wild! Gusty wind blowing in heavy rain showers and then blowing them away again to let the sun shine though. PoD was a shot taken in the garden. It’s an azalea that lives in a sheltered corner of the garden and is flowering beautifully just now.

Tomorrow we are hoping for a more relaxing day, although it looks like rain for at least some of it.

Stuff – 3 May 2022

Stuff was due to arrive today.

A parcel from Amazon was due and another from the Bean Shop in Perth.

Unusually for both, the parcel from Amazon was arriving just after midday and the Bean Shop parcel wasn’t coming until around 7pm. Usually they are the other way round! Oh well, we’d be out dancing or is that teaching dancing when the coffee from Perth was due and as it was coming DPD, I could arrange for it to be left in the bin shed, or “The cupboard beside the front door” as it was phrased on the instructions to DPD.

The parcel from Amazon arrived right on time. It contained a ‘new’ camera bag in the shape of a rucksack. A very versatile one according to all the reviews. It was disappointing then to find that, although the cardboard box was intact, the seal on the polythene bag holding the rucksack had been broken. Even worse, inside one of the pockets of the camera bag was a birthday card! Obviously, the rucksack had been been an unwanted birthday prezzy for someone who then returned it to Amazon and then it was sent on to me without being checked. It was going back again, with the birthday card in the pocket.

Actually, the procedure for returning unwanted goods to Amazon is very, very simple and straightforward. Fill in an online form, get a QR code in an email from Amazon. Parcel up the package and take it to a Post Office. At the PO, they weigh the package, scan your QR code and print a sticky label which they stick on the package and give you a proof of postage note. Very impressed with that.

Walked home via St Mo’s and took some photos mainly of plants and flowers, then went home to find Scamp deep in conversation about weddings and planning with her wee sister. That gave me a chance to have a look at the photos while the sisters blethered away in the background.  The dandelion clock won PoD.

After a quick dinner of ravioli, we drove over to Bishopbriggs to ‘help with the beginners’ again. Tonight the ‘helpers’ almost outnumbered the beginners, but that meant we were getting more stuff done than we’d managed last week. After we drove back, Scamp was off to choir to give June some vocal support. She has just arrived back and apparently almost the entire choir needs some vocal support. Jamie, she said she bumped into Mrs Dunn the teacher when she was there and she was asking after you.

While Scamp was out, I took the opportunity to watch the first episode of Life After Life, Hazy. Confusing at first, but by the end, bits of the story were falling into place again. It seems an awful long time since I read that book.  Also, I started a new jug of cold brew coffee.  I’m hoping I have the proportions of coffee to water right this time.  It’s also been an awful long time since I last tried to make some, but since then I’ve discovered the delights of Café Freddo.

I’ve ordered the camera bag tonight from WEX who I’ve dealt with before. It’s an updated (and up-priced, of course) model, but the improvements will be worth it, I hope. It will be delivered to their Glasgow shop in a couple of days.

No firm plans for tomorrow as yet, although a ‘Fascinator’ may be required by someone for one of the weddings.

Old Friends – 28 April 2022

Off to Clydeside today, not to be confused with Clydebank!

We were off to have lunch with Crawford and Nancy at Gouldings garden centre. We’d forgotten to collect some photos of Jamie and Simonne’s nearly new house, so after a mad scramble we managed to export around fifteen photos and put them on a tablet to take with us. That left us just a wee bit late, but we made up some time on the motorway and thankfully there wasn’t a queue to get over Garrion Bridge. C&N had waited in the queue and been shown to a table, so we could just walk past the queue waiting to be allocated a table and just waltz in, like royalty!

Food was just as good as it always is. Not fancy, Fish Cakes for the ladies, Fish for Crawford and Scampi for me, all served with chips and salad. Dessert was equally easy to remember. Three slices of Rhubarb Pie and one Apple Pie, washed down with coffee. We sat and talked about what we’d been doing, where we’d been going and what plans we had for the summer. Just old friends sitting talking and holding on to a table while the queue to get in got longer and longer!

Scamp had a music stand for Nancy and Nancy had some music for Sheila. Fair exchange etc. We said our goodbyes, hands were shaken, hugs were hugged and we went our separate ways. They were going to collect their granddaughter from nursery and we were going to the plant nursery to get some more flowers for the garden.

After that we headed for home. Scamp was itching to get her new plants into the soil we hope they’ll grow in and I wanted to plant my last two seed potatoes. We both accomplished our tasks and in addition I took on the task of turning the compost in the bin, just to make sure it’s well mixed.

I had half intended taking a camera for a walk round St Mo’s, but saw two pretty blue anemone flowers in a pot on the back step. That became PoD.

A good day with great company. Also some work done in the garden. Tomorrow we may go dress hunting again in the Middle East.

 

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.

Sunshine and snow showers – 30 March 2022

Typical Scottish weather, but only two seasons in one day.

Beautiful sunshine in the morning and it looked great until you went outside, then you did believe what the thermometer said. I don’t think I even ventured out in the morning, preferring to concentrate on the important stuff that had to be done, like the Sudoku and making coffee. Jamie, I’m beginning to agree with you about Perth coffee. I’ve been getting Sumatran beans for years now and know what the coffee should taste like. Now it’s beginning to be a bit flat. Strong enough, but lacking in flavour. It was pointed out when I got a bag of the ‘coffee of the month’ earlier this month. It was Papua New Guinea and would probably be fresher than most of the beans in the shop. It certainly tasted fresher. It had a totally different taste to anything I’ve had recently. I’ll keep some for you if I can resist trying it again! Could it be that some of his sacks of beans have been lying too long? Maybe. I’ve a lot of coffee in the freezer. Once it’s used I’ll try something else. Sometimes you need someone to point out the obvious to you!

After lunch I got a WhatsApp from Alex with some photos of his new grandson, Ollie. He has been having a hard time since he was born on Sunday night, but he’s in the best hospital for neonatal care in the region. I feel sorry for Alex because Carol goes in to hospital tomorrow to have the knee operation she has waited a long time for. That means he will be solo cook and bottle washer for the rest of the family for a few days. Spare him a thought, and while you’re at it, spare a thought for wee Ollie.

Fred phoned me later and we had a good half hour on the phone, talking about nothing much in particular and everything in general. He reminded me that the new Ben Aaronovitch book is coming out next week. I may use some of my book tokens to get that.

Later in the afternoon, Scamp got the Dyson out and that was my cue to get my boots on and go for a walk. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for, but I’d seen a wee patch of daisies the other day and they might look good with the Lensbaby. However, it didn’t look as if the weather gods were going to play ball because big black clouds were rolling in. After my second circuit of St Mo’s pond, the sun poked its head out and shone nice and brightly, so I got my shot. The lens produces some strange effects in the areas in front of the mains subject. This one looked almost like a nest for the flowers. It got PoD. Other contenders were a full unopened can of Coke, but I was rushing and didn’t notice that the horizon was tilted and the can was not. I might go back and reshoot some time if I get a chance, although that original can will be long gone by then. A full unopened can of coke? In St Mo’s? No chance!  Ten minutes after I took the photo of the daisies, there was a snow storm!  Luckily it didn’t last and the snow didn’t lie.

A short dance practise tonight of the waltz we’re learning. We can now stumble through the entire routine without too many mistakes. What’s the betting the teachers will change something “… to make it easier …”. It never is easier. They know that. We know that, and worst of all, they know that we know that!

No plans for tomorrow although a trip to the shops may be in order.

 

 

Another beautiful day – 21 March 2022

Almost wall to wall sunshine today, although the old weather station in the living room and also my little weather device in my alarm clock were both predicting rain that never came.

It was very relaxing, doing today’s Wordle and catching up with my Sudoku and reading, with sunshine streaming in the front windows. In fact it was so relaxing, neither of us wanted to do very much at all until lunch time.

After that, Scamp went off to the shops to get some oranges and apples and I eventually got my act together and went looking for photos in St Mo’s. I managed to capture my first fly of the year and my first spider. Both separated by a couple of meters, so no insects were injured as part of the photography process. However, with a little bit of back lighting, it was a couple of leaves from a Dogwood bush that got PoD. I just liked the colours in the translucent leaves (which are really shields for the flower buds) and the textures in the background. While I was away, Scamp had returned and couldn’t just sit around, so she strimmed the grass in the front garden.

I also brought back a tick. The first this year. It is now much flatter than it was when I found it and also much deader. That’s what happens when you ignore the obvious fact that you have to keep using preventative measures. I’ll order some Smidge tonight.

Not long after I came back, the clouds started to gather and it looked like the weather stations would be right after all, but it didn’t happen. It was just a bit of light cloud the weather man said. His idea of light and mine don’t quite line up I think. These were big clumsy looking clouds, but it seems they’ve passed by now.

Tonight’s dinner was the remainder of yesterday’s veggie chilli. Scamp had added some more chilli powder and it had a better kick today. Still the best veggie chilli ever, I think.

That was our lazy day. Not a lot done, but sometimes you don’t need to do a lot. Tomorrow Scamp has an appointment with the dentist in the afternoon. Our morning is might be free.

A busy musical day – 11 March 2022

Music rarely has a place in the blog, but it has today.

The day started with Scamp driving us to Tesco. Just a usual Friday shop. Basics and a bottle of wine. Unfortunately, the wine wasn’t for us but for friends we were visiting later.

Back home I started making dough for a loaf. I usually take a loaf to Crawford and Nancy in Larky. Scamp reckoned a small loaf would be enough for four of us and small loaves are easier to hand knead, so that’s what I did.

After lunch I went out for a walk and a hope for more frog photos, if they were still there. They were, and the photos were taken. They were taken with my big clunky Tamron 70-300mm lens. It was a great lens some years ago when I first bought it for my Nikon D7000, then things started going wrong. The Vibration Control would sometimes take a day off and just refuse to work. Focusing too was a hit and a miss. I got it repaired, and it worked for a while after that, but it really wasn’t to be trusted. Now I’ve got a Sony and a Nikon adapter which allows the lens to work in manual mode only and without VC. I don’t use a long lens very much and this one covers the times when I need a lens that’s longer than 105mm.

By the time I came back the dough had risen quite well and was ready to go into the little cane basket for its second prove as I looked through the photos from today’s shoot. Surprisingly, some were better than I’d expected. In fact one of the m made PoD.

That had given the bread time to puff up a bit and I bunged it in the oven for the required 25 mins. It came out almost as flat as a pancake. I decided we’d try it tomorrow, but there was no way it was going to Larky.

Time was getting on and it was nearly time to drive over to the the Town Behind the Wall. I was taking a ukulele and a steel strung guitar, because Crawford wanted to have a jam session with him playing uke and me playing guitar. I wasn’t looking forward to it all that much, but it was a really great evening. Both instruments were tuned together and we ran through many of his old favourites, but songs I hadn’t expected. I was very rough to start with, but as the night progressed, I started to settle in to the chord sequences. What I did find was that the finger tips of my left hand were painfully tingling. It’s been a long time since I’ve sat for an hour and a half playing a guitar.  While we were singing and playing, the ladies were in the sitting room blethering.

We left just after midnight, so as you will have guessed by now, this is a catch-up. A small glass of rum as a nightcap because I was driving to dance class in the morning, then it was off to bed.

Tomorrow we’re going to the first dance class in about five weeks. Hope we can remember which foot goes first!

 

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.