A busy day – 16 July 2021

Lots to do for both of us.

Best to talk about the afternoon, because there was a lot of sitting around in the morning. Those who need to know will discover why.

Scamp went out after lunch to buy some more supplies and I was told to go out for a walk and talk to the bees! I don’t usually have long conversations with bees, they’re usually too busy. What I did find was a Plume Moth. This is only the second one I’ve seen and the first live one. It’s a strange insect with impossibly narrow wings. Actually it rolls the wings up when it has landed and when they are unfurled for flight they look like little feathers, hence the name, I presume. While I was engrossed in photographing it striding around a cow parsley head, in flew a Soldier Beetle to see what was going on. The plume moth seemed quite dismissive of it.

On my rounds of St Mo’s I also saw a Common Blue damselfly which when I looked closely on the computer, seemed to be laughing! Either that or it was trying to get some cooling air because it was very hot today, well past the mid 20s by all accounts.

We watched the first of the new qualifying rounds of F1. It’s a confusing system where the first set of qualifying on a Friday gives grid places for a sprint race on Saturday and results from that will determine the grid slots for the actual F1 GP on Sunday. Confused? We were! Today’s qualifying was much like a normal Saturday race. Tomorrow is the interesting one with a 25-30 minute Sprint race run over 100km.

Tomorrow we are attending a funeral mass for Margie’s husband in the morning. We may go for a drive in the afternoon.

Today we went to Glasgow – 12 July 2021

Off to the Toon

We drove in to Buchanan Galleries this morning and got parked on level 3. Until Covid-19 made home working the norm and commuting a thing of the past, parking anywhere below level 5 would have been impossible. Today it’s become just a normal occurrence.

We walked up a busy Sausage Roll Street (real name Sauchiehall Street). I went left to get my hair cut and Scamp continued on to look for a dress shop. While I was waiting for the sole barber to finish the bloke in the chair, I noticed Scamp outside. I wondered what could be wrong, but it turned out that the shop no longer existed. Like so many it had become a victim of the same change in ways of working that allowed parking on level three of the car park. It is down to insufficient footfall. The barber, when he was cutting my hair said the same thing. He finished cutting my hair around 12.30 and I had been the second customer that day.

I met Scamp and we went for a walk through the town. Nobody in the Central Belt talks about the City of Glasgow. Glasgow is The Town or The Toon if you’re my age. Edinburgh is A City, Glasgow is The Town.

I wanted to have a look in a charity shop that used to specialise in cameras and lenses, but I think they are just starting to get back on their feet after the stramash of the last year and a half. They didn’t seem to have anything to interest me. We walked down to Argyle Street and for coffee and a bite to eat in Cafe Nero. Then it was on to Queen Street where Scamp wanted to visit Next and I didn’t. I did wander into and out of Cass Art. Nothing much to interest me there. However I noticed a shoe style that Scamp likes in Shuropody next door. Managed to catch her as she was walking past and she got a new pair of shoes that she wears about the house like slippers! We went home.

The day had improved greatly since we left the house and when we returned, Scamp set to, to rake up the leaves from next door’s tree. It might be in Angela’s garden, but it will always be referred to as Betty’s tree, Betty being the previous tenant. I got my, now manky, shorts on (retrieved from the washing basket!) and took my Sony with the Sigma lens for a walk in St Mo’s. I took lots of photos, but really wasn’t all that impressed with the results. The PoD went to a picture of another battered and bruised butterfly. This one was a Ringlet. Second favourite was this one, taken outside the GOMA on Queen Street.

Dinner tonight was Pasta with Pesto. Too much garlic in the pesto and maybe a mixture of leaves is better than just basil. I’ll try to remember that next time.

We watched the first University Challenge of the new series and saw Glasgow Uni soundly beaten by some London mob. Really, they both were thick! I think I answered almost as many questions as either team. I don’t think the London mob will go far.

Not a bad day. Scamp came home from The Town with a new dress and a new pair of shoes. I came home with a new haircut. Number 3 on the side and back, Number 4 on top. Apparently that’s called Two Guards!

Tomorrow we’re probably going shopping … or so I’m told.

Surveyed – 21 June 2021

A phone call with Hazy and the lady with the cotton buds.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning, glad that she’s feeling a bit better. Heard all her news and we filled in the details of our visit to St Andrews the details that hadn’t been recorded in the blog, that is. Also found out the back story of the Merlin Sheldrake book.

Then it was time to finish playing catch-up with the blog. Photos processed and uploaded. Blog written, but the posting left to later because lunch was on the horizon.

After that the lady with the cotton buds appeared. A new lady who hadn’t been before. Unfortunately the sampling technique hadn’t changed and was just as uncomfortable as ever. I think we are both glad we made the decision not to go with Phase 2: The Blood Letting! Just too invasive. However, we were able to answer “Yes” to a couple of questions about having people in the house, and seemed to surprise her by saying the we’d been to a restaurant more than once in the last seven days. Come on, we may be careful, but we do like to get out too!

Now that the survey was finished for this month I celebrated by going for a walk in St Mo’s. Scamp didn’t want to go today, but agreed that she’d join me tomorrow if I was going out. There were a few flying subjects today. A damselfly and a couple of strange looking little flies. The damselfly won PoD. Still haven’t seen very many dragonflies.

It had been a warm day again with very little breeze, but the weather fairies are warning us that the temperature is set to drop a bit in the next few days. That won’t be as good for daytime activities, but for sleeping at night it will be much more comfortable. The last few nights have been just too warm. Also there is the chance of rain by the end of the week. I don’t mind that, as long as it remembers to turn off after a while.

Tomorrow we may go for that walk. Somewhere nice, perhaps.

Dad’s Day – 20 June 2021

A lovely day for Father’s Day.

A fairly relaxed start to the day, waiting for the Zoom call at 1pm. Unfortunately I got a message from Hazy, who had organised the Zoom call, to say she wasn’t feeling well and would speak to me later in the week. That was a pity, but some things cannot be avoided.

I was having lamb neck fillet for dinner and it needed a bit of preparation. Crushed Rosemary, Pepper Corns, a Garlic Clove, some Thyme, a pinch of Salt and a drop or two of Olive Oil in a mortar and pestle. Then rubbed the mixture into the meat which was left to marinade in the fridge. With the messy stuff done I could concentrate on typing up more of the blogs from the last few days. Then I needed a walk, so I took the Sony and the macro lens for a walk in St Mo’s.

There wasn’t much sun in the afternoon and as a result not a lot of insect activity. I focused (no pun intended) on some tiny wee flies sitting on grass flowers and also on some umbellifers like wild carrot. The one that became PoD was the wee fly on the grass stem, mainly because it was Scamp’s favourite.

Back home Scamp was tidying up after her flowers! The massive flower heads of the peony roses in her latest bunch of cut flowers were casting all over the floor. Such beautiful flowers leaving such a beautiful carpet of white everywhere. They really should be more careful!

Soon it was time to start the dinner. Scamp was having Trout as her main and we were both sharing potatoes and cabbage. I used my fancy grill pan because the lamb had to be browned first on the hob and then cooked in the oven. Both meals turned out fine.

Dancing tonight started with a Rumba One then a jive version of the same thing. Next was the Foxtrot with its complicated (for me) step routines. We just don’t have enough space to complete the dance. Not enough length and not enough width in the living room. However, I think if we practise the new part of the routine we might be able to fit it in to the space we have available. A quick reprise of the Cha-Cha finished off the torture lesson for tonight.

Spoke to JIC later and complimented him on his strawberries. We might get two berries form our hanging baskets this year. Not a lot else happening down south, it seems.

Watched a F1 GP from Paul Ricard circuit in France that started with a mistake by Verstappen and ended with a tactical error by Mercedes. Between those events it was a pretty dull race, but an exciting finish by Verstappen was worth waiting for.

Tomorrow we’re getting our next four-weekly visit from the lady who offers us the chance to stick a cotton bud down our throat and up our nose. Oh what fun!

Back to life, back to reality – 18 June 2021

The car was packed and we were driving back south.

We’d started the packing last night, so it was really just a case of tidying up the caravan. Loading all the bags, rucksacks and more bags, plus the pink fluffy plant into various places in the car and pointing it south after we’d done some more shopping at Morrisons which happened to be on our way home. I must admit it was Scamp who did most of the work. I took a phone call from Fred. Not the easiest of calls to take. I’ll leave it at that.

We chose a slightly more picturesque route home, compared to the one the sat nav had chosen for the run up to St Andrews. Basically, after the initial avoidance of Crail and Anstruther, we just hugged the coast and followed it down to Rosyth where we crossed the Queensferry Crossing which is the Third Forth Bridge and from there we followed the M8 until the M73 and then we were on home ground.

After lunch we drove to reluctantly give Annette her caravan keys back, thank her for the opportunity and convince her that we hadn’t left too much of a mess in the ‘van.

Scamp and I went for a walk later in the afternoon and got a picture of some beasties which turned out to be immature Shield Bugs. They just looked like an unruly crowd of teenagers having fun. I couldn’t get that impression out of my head. They made PoD.  We continued our walk to Condorrat and got two fish suppers to celebrate the end of the short holiday.

Thank you Annette for the chance to share your holiday home. We really enjoyed it. I’m not entirely sure we could make a case for owning one ourselves, but it was still great fun.

Tomorrow I intend to relax and try to work out the knots that have appeared in my right calf. Something to do with yesterday’s up hill and down dale walk along the Fife Coastal path. Scamp is intent on starting a week’s worth of washing!

Coffee and Visitors’ Biscuits – 8 June 2021

It was the biscuits that swung it for me.

Isobel phoned this morning asking if we wanted to come down and visit today. She said we could have a cup of coffee and she’d bought Visitors’ biscuits. I didn’t know what visitors’ biscuits were, but I was fairly sure they weren’t Rich Teas or Digestives, so I was up for it, so was Scamp. She was on the phone to Annette about a certain caravan in St Andrews that would become vacant some time soon, so I agreed for her and said Scamp would phone her when the deal was done with Annette.

I had a couple of Aquilegia plants to pot up for Isobel, so I got started to that and we were almost ready to go. Just a quick cup of coffee first then we were off to the Village.

We had an entertaining hour or so with Isobel then she gave us a guided tour of her garden. She has a wealth of plants in her fairly small garden and takes no prisoners. If she thinks a plant if failing, it gets chucked out. I’m sure Scamp gets some of her gardening nous from Isobel. Oh yes, and the biscuits were Tunnocks Teacakes and very nice they were too!

On the way home we stopped at Tesco and came out with a shopping bag fairly clinking with our ‘groceries’. A bottle of gin, one of Pimms and one of Limoncello. All the bottles were reduced, so some money spent, but a fair amount saved too! We drove home.

Hazy phoned almost as we crossed the threshold of the house and we had a long chat. Lots of books discussed and yes, Hazy, The Hidden Palace is now on my wish list. I may even re-read the Gollem and the Djinni too, if I can remember how to read after all the Audible books!

Went for a walk in St Mo’s in the afternoon to give the ‘new’ Samyang 18mm lens a good test and it passed with flying colours. Every shot from macro, through middle distance to far distance was in focus. It’s such a pity that I had to shell out an extra £50 to buy the lens station that would allow me to upgrade the firmware. It’s just another case of a company expecting users to do their work for them and also having to pay for the privilege. The rush to get technology on the market ahead of rivals means that the tech itself goes on the shelf only part finished. It’s things like this that make me give up on some companies like Samyang. Yes, they are cheap, but yes, they are nasty too! Rant number 2 this week is over.

Dinner tonight was Butter Chicken, but for some reason this time the sauce was a bit acidic. It can only be down to the passata as that’s really the only thing that was changed since the last time. Next time I’ll just used blitzed tomatoes. Still makes a decent curry sauce, though.

PoD went to a bunch of clover flowers photographed with the updated Samyang 18mm.

No plans for tomorrow. It looks like being a wet morning.



Wall to Wall sunshine – 6 June 2021

Long may it last, even if we do have to water the garden!

After lunch we went for a walk round St Mo’s pond and stood watching the damselflies. I managed to capture one or two of them, or it could be that I caught the same one once or twice. Who knows with damselflies, they all look the same, don’t they? Well maybe not, because occasionally you can spot slight differences in their wing structure, some also have defects that mark them as different from the rest, just like humans, I suspect. Anyway, I was using the Sony camera and the Sigma macro lens and I did manage to get a PoD.

From St Mo’s we went down to Broadwood Stadium to extend our walk and take in the exercise machines path, then back across the dam through the houses and the underpass before climbing the long steep hill to St Mo’s school and then home. Not a bad walk. Later I wanted to see if any dragonflies had appeared, so I went for a short walk over to the pond, but there was no sign of life and it was getting late in the afternoon, so I headed home, because tonight was a dance class and I didn’t want to be in a rush to get dinner made and get a quick practise in. I needn’t have worried, Scamp was on the ball and had my burger cooking while her scallops were waiting their turn to go in the other pan.

Dance class tonight started with Mambo Marina which is a fairly old sequence dance that we learned months ago, but of course I’d forgotten bits of it. A quick reprise from Scamp and I was good to go. The Foxtrot was going to be next and it was nowhere near as easy as the MM. Lots of little tricky bits to it and we couldn’t agree on the correct footwork, but Jane and Stewart soon ironed out our problems and it was plain sailing after that. Last part of tonight’s lesson was the Cha-Cha. It is such an energy sapping dance. Most of the moves are fine, but it’s that little cha-cha step that has to be done right to keep in the tempo of the dance, that’s the problem. However, we managed to get it completed without too much trouble. We sat in the garden to cool down after that with a couple of beers. It really was a beautiful night.

Spoke to JIC later and got the low down on house hunting in and around Cambridge, Simonne’s run today and how JIC’s ankle injury is doing. Gave him some sage advice from his gran on how to prevent birds from eating all his veg. Black thread was her secret weapon. I imagine it works equally well with English sparrows as it did with Scottish ones! I hope so anyway.

Watched a Crash – Bang, Baku GP. Not driver errors this time, but tyre failures. More like Wacky Races than a GP!

Tomorrow morning Scamp is off to have coffee with June. I’m hoping to finish my epistle to Alex.

A walk in the woods again – 16 May 2021

Out before I’d even had my morning coffee.

The weather looked good and it wasn’t forecast to last, so we got up and went for a walk round Broadwood. Scamp suggested the walk because on good weekends like this one, you have to be out really early to get a parking place that allows a walk along the canal, her first preference. Even at 10.30am we would have been too late. So it was the second choice which was the extended walk round Broadwood Loch.

Unfortunately we didn’t see any deer down for a morning drink at the wee pond, but we did enjoy a walk in the warm sunshine through the pines. The path was a bit muddy in places, but we were both well shod and the water and mud weren’t too deep. No cormorants on the island because the swans seem to have taken control of their island again and Mrs Swan was sitting on her nest. As is our wont, we walked clockwise while everyone else in the world seemed to want to walk counter-clockwise. That just shows how little they know.

Back home for lunch and after watching the belligerent Andrew Marr terrorising Matt Hancock we chose different paths for the afternoon. I was cooking stew for my dinner then going for a walk to the shops to get potatoes and veg for tonight’s dinner. Scamp was itching to get the front grass cut. We both achieved our stated goals. The grass was cut and the veg was bought. With the hard work done, we settled in the garden with a beer each. Scamp was reading and I was listening to a book being read to me, The Reluctant Assassin by Eoin Colfer. I’m getting the hang of this Audible malarkey. It’s really quite good having a book read to you.

A glass of wine with dinner which was Scallops, mixed veg and potatoes for Scamp. Replace the scallops with Stew and you have my dinner. Scallops were deemed “nice, but not worth the money” and my take on the Lidl stew was “get it from a butcher next time”.

Dancing tonight was a bit of a shambles for us. Both of us made mistakes but both of us also managed to dance a whole routine without too many errors. Not our finest hour, but not our worst either.

Spoke to JIC and heard that he’s actually going to have to go in to work next week. That will be a change for him I’m sure. I’m not all that sure that working from home is the way to go. It’s much better if you can separate the two. That way the work is less likely to be carried into your home time. Believe me, I know, I’ve done it.

PoD is one of Scamp’s Allium flowers just about to burst out of its protective sheath. Sketch today asked for a crumpled piece of paper and that’s what I drew.

Tomorrow Scamp and her witch friends are meeting up for the first time since August 2020 at Annette’s. I’m the driver who’s bringing them back in the afternoon. That’s the plan anyway. Things may change, of course.

A day of two halves – 25 April 2021

The first part was the active half, the second was the relaxing part.

The active part was intended to be a walk along the Forth & Clyde canal from Auchinstarry to Twechar and then the return journey with a detour to Queenzieburn then by the railway walkway back to the car. However, both the parking places local to the walk were completely full. That’s one of the disadvantages of this glorious weather we’re enjoying lately. Everyone wants to be out in the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine. A quick reappraisal on the hoof suggested that Colzium Estate in Kilsyth might be an appropriate place for a shorter walk. So that’s what we did.

The parking at Colzium was fairly busy too, but we got parked quite easily. We walked a few of the paths we’d been on before and then found a couple of new ones. The entire estate is criss crossed with paths, some official, but most just short cuts through the trees. Although most of the flowers weren’t fully out yet, we did see some rhododendrons with buds almost ready to burst. Out near an old house in the north of the estate I found some beautiful moss fruiting bodies and they made PoD. We also watched Mrs Duck out with the weans for a swim round the old curling pond which is now almost completely overgrown. All in all we covered about two miles. About half of the distance we’d have managed if we’d gone along the canal, but some poor people have to work for a living and can only get out at weekends. We’re lucky enough to be able to go out anytime we want.

Back home it was the leftovers from yesterday’s curry for lunch and it tasted a lot better than it did last night. That’s often the way with a curry, though. After that we sat on the front step enjoying the sun and the relaxing half of the day. Scamp was reading and I was watching a YouTube video about building a catalog in Capture One and populating it. Sounds terribly dull, but I found out that the program may be a good replacement for the ageing Lightroom. Certainly worth considering.

There was no dance class tonight because only two couples, us included, were available. A good decision, really. It made a change to have a night off.

Tomorrow we are booked to have our next Covid survey and test. Can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I’ll put up with it. Tesco delivery is due too and then later I’ve got an appointment for my second jag. Busy day tomorrow. No time to enjoy the excitement of the shops opening for the first time since Christmas! There will be other days I’m sure.

Walking in the woods – 24 April 2021

The woodlands of Coatbridge. Not the first thing that springs to mind when I think of Coatbridge.

Coatbridge used to be a centre for heavy industry with a dirty old dilapidated canal running through it. Now it’s cleaned itself up quite a lot and most of that dirty old canal has been drained or filled in and where that failed, it’s been gentrified. We used to restrict ourselves to a wet walk around the pond whose name is really Lochend Loch. The path was really a conveyer belt with people in both directions, keeping left and stubbornly completing their exercise for the day. It was only recently we discovered the paths into and around the woodland that covers the majority of the park. The forests are a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees and the paths are wide and winding. Some gentle climbs and some slightly more demanding. All easy walking, really. It’s difficult to get lost with the park being bounded by a railway line, a road and the pond, oops Loch. Wandered round today and chose a new path we hadn’t travelled on before and found a cricket ground. A cricket ground in Coatbridge! Who knew? The walk finished with an ice cream cone which seems to be becoming the icon of this spring’s warm days.

Back home I fashioned the remains of yesterday’s pizza into another shared pizza. It wasn’t quite as memorable as yesterday’s, but it filled a wee space. After that and after a cup of coffee, Scamp seemed determined to tidy things up an I got my shorts and boots on and went for a walk in the woods of St Mo’s. I’d tried a few shots of blossom and horse chestnut flowers in Drumpellier, but I reckoned there was better to be found in St Mo’s. Actually it was the blossom from Coatbridge that got PoD and a little mini tree got second place. None of the chestnut tree pictures got a sniff at the place on Flickr. Maybe once the candelabra flowers open up they will get their place in the sun and on Flickr.

Dinner tonight was a disappointing curry from Bombay Dreams. Pakora was only just warm and my Chicken Tikka Bhoona had too much ghee and too little flavour. Scamp’s seemed to be a bit better. Not their best offering.

Tomorrow may be the last of the warm spring days and we might go for another walk somewhere interesting and not too far away.