Boots – 23 May 2022

Today we climbed Quiraing. Not mountain climbed it, in the car, of course! Are you mad!

We drove up to see then fantastic new car park and it really was a totally different place from the one we used to know. No big boulders poking out of the hard packed earth. No mad foreigners (that includes english) parking anywhere they felt like it, which sometimes meant actually on the road. No, there is now a purpose built car park with plenty of room for everyone from normal folk to those who drive camper vans. There is a down side, of course. It’s no longer free. That didn’t seem to bother the folk who were filling up all those spaces. We didn’t stop. I’ve photographed the view from the top of Quiraing more times than I care to remember and it in all sorts of weather. No, today we were just being nosey!

We drove on to Uig and stopped at a viewpoint at the top. Just hard packed earth, but free. The whole of Uig bay was laid out below us. I took a few shots that I’d later merge into a panorama or two, then we faced the drop down into Uig proper and the tortuous hairpin in the middle of the drive. Came through unscathed and continued on to Portree. There’s nothing much to see in Uig apart from the ferry terminal to Lewis, or is it Harris? I can never remember.

We were heading to Elgol and its strange eroded rock face at the north end of what is laughingly called a beach. It’s really just a jumble of boulders from ones the size of your fist to massive ones the size of a small car. On a good day there are great views of the Cuillins. But not today. The weather was fine, in fact it was nearly perfect with white clouds in a blue sky, but unfortunately, just before we reached Sligachan, I discovered I’d not brought my walking boots. The thought of climbing over those boulders in my shoes didn’t inspire me, so we stopped and I took a few shots of the Cuillins from the almost diametrically opposite direction. Mountins continuously being covered and uncovered with cloud and with rain showers washing across them. It wasn’t Elgol, but it would do. We turned and drove back to Portree, bought some expensive petrol (£1.71 per litre) and went to Jans Vans for lunch, a hard brush for Scamp and a chilli plant for me.

From there we drove up to Staffin and went down to the beach with its grey/black sand. That’s where today’s PoD came from. It’s a time exposure looking towards Flodigarry, using a 10 stop ND filter. I just knew you wanted to know that Jamie. Scamp hung around for a while, but then went back to sit in the car.

With a few shots in the bag and one I was sure would be PoD, I drove back to the house and we got ready for tonight’s family meal in Columba. There were eight of us being fed on Chicken or Pork or Veggie Haggis with potatoes and broccoli as side dishes. Lots of talk at the table and Scamp was interrogating Allan about the correct way to cook Jackfruit. I was impressed how much information he passed on, explaining the good and bad points of this strange vegetable that we’ve only recently discovered. A good night, even if Mairi wasn’t feeling like joining us.

We drove back to the house because June and Ian had some more preparations before they leave for home tomorrow.

It was a well filled day. Tomorrow we’re hoping to get to Elgol with boots!

Sensible Shoes – 10 May 2022

We were going in to Glasgow today to get me a pair of sensible shoes. They would make a change from the black Ghillie brogues I have just now. The brogues themselves are actually quite comfortable, but the long laces criss-crossing the knee length kilt socks are awkward things to tie and uncomfortable after a while. I thought I’d try a pair of brown brogues instead. The first shop I tried had a pair that seemed to be what I was looking for. Foolishly I didn’t try them on, but went looking to see if there was anything else in a similar style.

There were loads of shoes in a similar style, but none that caught my eye. One pair looked the part, but when I tried them on, there was something just not right about them. Scamp noticed the creases in the leather that showed that they have been tried at home and returned as not suitable. They weren’t suitable for me either. There were brogues in dark brown, tan and even yellow. Brogues made from leather with tartan patches, some with tweed patches. Some were definitely meant for tramping the peat bogs of Wester Ross, weighing in at about a hundredweight each and others so thin you could spit peas through them. M&S had a great selection in every size under the sun … except mine. Eventually, after a coffee and a croissant in Nero I made my decision to go back to the first shop and try on that pair. They fitted perfectly. The looked like I wanted them to look. They were solid without being too clumpy. I bought them. The assistant wanted to put them in a machine that would spray them with some undisclosed liquid that would make them waterproof, stain-resistant, crease resistant and self ironing. She seemed quite disappointed when I said I’d polish them myself with shoe polish.

We drove home after Scamp had picked some cosmetics to make her look even more beautiful than she already is, if that’s possible. On the way to the car I grabbed a couple of photos from the JL bridge. One of them became PoD after some gentle toning and tweaking in Lightroom.

Lunch was a piece ’n’ banana. Fresh bread and a banana. The only thing that would make it better was a sprinkling of sugar, but I decided to forego that pleasure. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. I took a walk over St Mo’s later, but there wasn’t much to see although I did get one decent photo which is on Flickr.

Scamp was off to choir tonight, so I was going to be a salsa helper all by myself. The class was much the same as last week. We went over the same moves as last week and then Jamie added in Damé then, just for the hell of it, Damé Dos. It’s about a level 3 move, but the folk all enjoyed it. Really, it could have been carnage, but it didn’t. Great fun.

When I got home and pressed the button to stop the engine, all the lights in the car went out and it wouldn’t start again. The car wouldn’t lock and the boot wouldn’t open. Inside my car’s key fob there is a hidden key. I used it to lock, then unlock the car. Then I started it as normal, well nearly normal. It appears that the trip mileage had been reset and also the mpg was reset. The second time this has happened in the last couple of weeks. I’m taking it to the garage tomorrow.

Tomorrow, apart from a trip to Stirling we’re both hoping to go for coffee. Me with Val and Scamp with Isobel.

Sun and Snow – 31 March 2022

Another day to sit inside in the sun and look out on the cold outside.

Just before lunch I got a WhatsApp from Alex to say that Ollie is improving. His infection is reducing and his temperature is being raised. It’s beginning to look more positive. Also, Carol, Alex’s wife is through her knee op and is feeling great, although that may be because of “some good stuff she got, post-op” as Alex put it!

The above brightened up lunch which was omelette for two. Scamp had a mushroom omelette and I had a “What’s in the fridge” omelette. Both very enjoyable. I gave Alex a quick call after lunch and he seems on top of the home situation, and sounded quite up beat.

After lunch we went shopping. Instead of the usual trail round Tesco, today we went to Lidl at Robroyston. Bought a fair amount of stuff, probably more than we need, but it was good to wander round a different set of aisles for a change.

We drove home by the back road for me to try to grab a few landscape shots. We parked by the side of the road and watched as the clouds broke and swept across the Campsie. Scamp once again demonstrated her new-found long vision by telling me there were trees on the top of one of the hills. I must admit that I could see them, but not really clearly. Definitely not as clearly as she could. I did take a few photos, but decided to call it a day when the snow started falling. It didn’t last, but it was a warning that winter isn’t finished with us yet. PoD turned out to be a nine frame panorama of the clouds breaking over Muirhead and Moodiesburn. Sometime the sky is the subject.

Dinner was a veg chilli I’d been smart enough to document in the blog on 31st October 2021. It wasn’t exactly the same and it wasn’t very spicy, but it worked and there’s more in the pot. It might go into a Lock ’n’ Lock tub and fit into the freezer for a surprise dinner, or it might get eaten tomorrow.

I suppose it all depends on what we do tomorrow. We may go in to Glasgow for a wander, but that depends on the weather. Temperature is supposed to go down to -3ºc tonight. Just think, a few days ago I was sitting reading in the garden wearing shorts and tee shirt. That’s Scotland for you!

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!


Glasgow Green – 25 November 2021

A bright day, but a cold one. You can’t have everything.

We drove down to Glasgow Green today, Scamp’s suggestion. It had been quite a while since we’d been there. These days you have to be very calculating or very lucky to get to walk an unmolested Glasgow Green. It seems that every weekend there is preparation for, or demolition of an ‘Event’. We must just have been lucky, because we didn’t do any research for today’s walk, and the ’green’ part of Glasgow Green was just as it should be, empty of scaffolding or wire fences. Wonderful. The old boathouse was being renovated, but that’s ok, because it’s on the edge of the green and didn’t inconvenience anyone.

We walked a fair bit of the periphery of the park as did quite a few others, but the feeling of space today was cheering. It was a shot from The Green that I got today’s PoD which was the reflection of the chimney and the smoke from the Strathclyde Distillery reflected in the Clyde. Another day with that strange yellowy sky. I’m guessing it’s because the sun isn’t rising very high in the sky and is therefore shining through a thicker layer of dust and smoke than in the summer.

We walked almost as far as the bridge over the Clyde to Richmond Park, but we were both feeling the cold by then and decided a warm car would be a better choice and left Richmond Park for another day. We stopped on the way home to have a coffee in Costa at Robroyston and then stocked up of essentials (which didn’t include a bottle of gin, this time) at Lidl before driving home.

After we’d unloaded the car I changed keys and drove Scamp’s Wee Red Car to Boots at Craigmarloch to get Scamp’s prescription and also to give the wee car a run. I made sure the heat was flowing before I made my way back and got home before the St Mo’s weans came out of school.

I was half way through making Fish Curry for dinner when a strange message appeared on the TV. Something about the program being suspended, then Scamp noticed that the modem was off. I checked the electricity hadn’t tripped, but it hadn’t. Then the modem’s lights came on, but stayed at a flashing green. That’s not a good sign. I couldn’t get through to Virgin on my phone and I feared the worst. Eventually, after an hour, I got the message that there was a problem in our area, both Broadband and TV. Nothing to do but wait. Now I know what cold turkey feels like, even if I was eating hot fish curry. Then everything started up again. The electricity had gone off yesterday, for the whole street. Today it looked like the broadband had been the victim. Now, there is a group of council workies digging holes and doing some ‘repair’ work in the next street. Now call me suspicious, but … !

Tomorrow looks stormy. We look as if we’re on the edge of the ‘amber warning’, but that’s by no means certain. We’ll hang onto our hats and hope for the best.


An improving picture – 20 November 2021

A very dull start to the day, but the weather improved as the day went on.

Not the most interesting of days. A bit dull to start with, but that was before the rain came and dampened our spirits even more. I messed around with the new external SSD drive (which is bad English, because the ‘D’ in SSD actually stand for Drive, so what I’ve written in Solid State Drive drive which is nonsense and a wasteful use of the word ‘drive’. The pedant’s pedant, that’s me). I copied X-Plane to it and then ran it from there rather than from the computer’s hard disk. The difference in speed was appreciable. Loading took about a quarter the time. Clever little bit of kit, the SSD.

In the afternoon, once the sun had found a way to shine out through the cloud layer, I took the Sony out for a walk in St Mo’s. I found a little Garden Cross spider that now has a place on Flickr, but PoD was really the sky. As I came out of the woods on to the boardwalk, and I saw the sky, I knew that would be PoD. It took me quite a while to find the right spot, angle and lens for the photo. Even then I dithered for a while choosing from two different trees. I finally chose the fragile looking birch to be the focus. Hardly any post processing for once.

Back home we decided on Fish ’n’ Chips for dinner. I walked over to Condorrat about half past four and by the time I was coming back it was almost totally dark. I noticed the moon rising over the town centre and it looked like a full moon, but apparently that was last night. Still, it was glowing well over the Thunder Dome as John used to call it.

We watched the qualifying for the Quatar GP, but I’m growing tired with the politics and general bad feeling between the leaders. I’ll still watch it to see who wins, but Verstappen’s constant flouting of the rules and Hamilton’s aggression is putting me off. It’s come down to a two horse race and I wouldn’t back either of them.

Tomorrow looks better than today, so maybe we will get out for a walk. If not, a wee dance practise wouldn’t do any harm.

Happy Birthday Jamie – 16 August 2021

Hope it was just as good a day as you hoped it would be.

As for us, a man was coming go give us giant cotton buds to stick down our throats and up our noses. Always that way round, never the nose first! Once he’d taken the swabs back and asked us our twenty questions we were free to go.

Today we were off for a spin. We drove off in the general direction of Loch Lomond, basically following our route to our dance class on a Saturday. We reached and passed that turnoff and headed further north west past the end of the airport and were just about to take the slip road for the Erskine Bridge when we saw the queue and the warning about a breakdown on the bridge, so instead of turning off, we continued straight on through Port Glasgow, Greenock and parked for a few minutes at Gourock. We sat in the car, eating Dolly Mixtures and watching a Royal Navy ship and a yacht cruising around the estuary.

From there we drove down past Cloch lighthouse and stopped at the garden centre we’d both been heading for. Had a bite to eat there. Not a very posh lunch, think more School Dinners. Steak and Sausage Pie cut from bit tray for me and a couple of dollops of Macaroni Cheese for Scamp. Both served with chips, so yes, very reminiscent of School Dinners. Having said that, it was wasn’t expensive and my steak & sausage was lovely, just the puff pastry didn’t have enough puff left. Scamp’s was a bit congealed.

We walked round the plants and bought an Echinacea we both liked and a terracotta pot to put it in. Scamp bought herself a top in an Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop and I got some photos.

The photos came from across the road from the garden centre where there were views across the estuary to Dunoon on one side and on the other side the remains of the the pier at what had been Hunterston Power Station. Those were just the middle ground props for the star which was the sky with it’s great cloud patterns. Well, it was for me anyway. PoD was a picture looking from Cloch towards Dunoon.

When we’d walked across the pebbly beach and on round a headland, we headed back to the car and drove on to Inverkip, then took the road over the hill to bring us back to the motorway and home.

Spoke to Jamie in the evening and found out he was intending to test his baking skills on a Swiss Roll.

Not quite the day out we’d planned, but a breath of fresh salt air and a walk along beside the Clyde estuary. Loch Lomond will have to wait for another day.

Tomorrow, Scamp is out for coffee with Isobel and I may just put pastel to paper if the weather is inclement, as seems likely and if not then I may go for a walk to see some dragons.

Just out for a stroll – 17 June 2021

Today we were going for a pleasant walk along the Fife coastal path.

We were out a bit later than normal today, but it wasn’t far to the coastal path. It runs along the cliffs, about 100m from the caravan. The path is fairly wide and solid underfoot. It climbs steadily inland for a stretch, skirting the side of the travelling caravan section of the park. After that the path becomes a bit narrower, but still a good walking surface. Further on it’s yet another golf course that’s on one side and the sea on the other. Soon after that the path drops away after a few steep climbs on hand laid steps and then an equal number of steps down the other side, finally settling on level with the rough beaches and boulders.

The biggest of the boulders stands next to the Rock and Spindle which is a sea stack, part of a volcano which erupted about 295 million years ago and punched through the pre-existing rocks. So says Mr Google anyway. The Rock is an impressive towering chunk of basalt. The Spindle is about 4m diameter, roughly wheel shaped and with a radiating pattern of something far too difficult to explain here (in other words, I don’t know).  As you can see,  The Rock and Spindle made PoD for today. We walked a bit further on, but the path became very vague after crossing a rock fall and we decided that although a coffee in the clubhouse of the golf club might be very nice, we couldn’t see an obvious way to get to it from the shore, so we headed back towards civilisation. Rather than climb all those steps up and over a bit of headland, I suggested we walk round it on the beach and meet the path on the far side. That seemed to be the sensible solution and, strangely for one of my brainwaves, it actually worked. We though we were doing well on this trek and were congratulating ourselves on our achievement. Then we were passed by a couple of runners, one going one way and the other going the other. How crazy do you have to be to run on an undulating path with stepping stones on a blisteringly hot day? As is usual with long walks in unfamiliar territory, our return seemed a lot quicker than the outward journey and we were soon back in the caravan.

Tonight’s dinner was to be a salad with a cooked chicken. To that end, we drove to Morrisons and bought the essentials for dinner, plus a bottle of beer for me and a couple of cans of Pimms for Scamp. Drove back and sat on the decking with a Pimms for Scamp and a beer for me. You could see how these static caravans worked, or to be clearer, how the people worked with these caravans. Mostly they seemed to be empty during the week, but at the extended weekends that seem to be the way things are now, they got busier. Today is Thursday and already there is more activity around caravans that have been empty since we arrived. Also the age of the people seems to be tending to the younger groups. Maybe the retired community live here all week, possibly for weeks at a time while those condemned to work for a living 😏 make use of the facilities at weekends.

I haven’t mentioned the weather much.  Perhaps that’s because I didn’t want to spook things.  The weather in Fife has been extraordinary.  Blue skies, light clouds for most of the time.  Just the very occasional light shower, the edge of a cloud.  Quite breezy, but oh how a caravan creaks an clicks as the aluminium panels heat up and expand it the sun. Then in the evening you have the same acoustics as the same panels contract again.  Also, as Annette is quick to tell you, you’re living in a tin can with little insulation, so the heat can be oppressive and the cold, severe.  Luckily we only had to suffer the heat.

Dinner was just as we’d intended Chicken and salad leaves with some crusty bread. We relaxed for a while on the decking with a ‘thin’ G&T each. A long day ahead tomorrow and a drive home. It had been a great few days and we must thank Annette for her offer!

Early bed tonight for an early(ish) rise tomorrow.

Blue skies and sunshine – 26 March 2021

Also rain, sleet and hail in varying quantities, because it’s Scotland.

It was raining when we woke and it had been the same during the night, so there was no rush to get up and go out. However, later in the morning the clouds part, the sky was blue and the sun was shining. We went shopping.

We went via St Mo’s so I could get some photos. Today I was toting only the 18mm very wide angle. For once it was the right lens to have. There were some lovely cloudscapes over St Mo’s pond and I grabbed a few until the camera reported “Disk Full”. Aha, but I’d come prepared with a spare 32GB card. Plugged it in and we were in business again. One of those shots became PoD. Hardly any editing needed, almost straight out of the camera.

We walked out of the park and across the road, then down the way we’d walked on Wednesday and I’d walked yesterday, but still no deer. That didn’t matter, I was sure I had a PoD and that’s more important than the flighty deer. Walked round to the shops, just as the school was coming out for lunchtime. Thankfully they are at half capacity until after the Easter Holidays, when the whole contingent will be invited to return to lessons. That’s not to say they will all come back. I don’t see some of them ever returning after almost a year’s freedom. Feral, that’s what they’ll be. The new cavemen and women.

Got what we went for at the shops and came home for lunch. I took a few close up shots of some alstroemeria flowers, just to bolster the collectio. Later in the afternoon I got itchy feet and went out for a late walk in St Mo’s and saw a skein of geese heading north. Then as one, they turned and flew west, losing altitude all the time. They were heading for a large open field near Moodiesburn where they often break their journey north in autumn and south in spring. Another photo opportunity.

Came home to the news that Alex Salmond has announced that he’s standing for the Holyrood elections with a new party he’s created called something pretending to be Gaelic. What a Wally! It’s so transparent what he’s trying to do – to screw up Nic the Chick’s plans for world domination. Who would vote for that eejit? Then I think, but what about Trump? Millions voted for him. Maybe … No, that’s unthinkable. Isn’t it??

The remains of the Carrot & Lentil Curry for dinner but the panna cotta was finished as were the tuiles. Never mind. Hopefully there will be more some day.

Tomorrow the weather looks much the same as today, probably even worse. We may get out for a walk.

The Golden Hour – 29 January 2021

We were waiting for a parcel, a parcel for Scamp this morning. That and the fact it was raining meant we simply HAD to stay in.

Once the parcel had arrived, just after 11.30 we could safely have lunch without worrying about going to the door, with clown red mouth, to collect the parcel from the DPD, because it was tomato soup for lunch and it always gives me a clown red mouth. With the parcel safely delivered, opened and the contents tested (moisturiser and girlie stuff) and with lunch over, Scamp went out to post a letter while I footered about on the computer before getting my boots ready and going for carnivore food for tomorrow’s dinner. The pescatarian was having fish, of course. We almost passed like ships in the night, me going, her returning at the door. I took a detour and walked round the back of St Mo’s school on my way to the shops, hoping for something interesting to cross my path, but I came home with wet feet, two bags of messages and half a dozen uninteresting photos. However …

However, as I was coming home the sky was clearing and the rain had definitely stopped, so I quickly changed sox and boots and lenses and went out again with the short lens setup. Sigma 10-20mm on an adapter, standard kit lens and Samyang 18mm. The light responded happily to my change of kit. The low sun was shiny and gold and it was lighting up the trees beautifully. I took the shot, but knew it wasn’t what I wanted. I wanted a bit more drama and the best way to get it is to shoot into the sun. Forget the rule that says you should always have sun over your left shoulder. Rules were made for folk to break them. I chose a spot on the boardwalk that allowed me to shoot in to the sun and get a bit of reflection from the sky on the clear channels around the pond’s edge. About twenty photos later I came home much happier than I’d been coming home from the shops.

Photos roughly processed and favourites earmarked for further tweaking, I started the dinner. Dinner itself was easy, it was just a case of reheating yesterday’s curry, warming up the flatbread dough that was left over from last night and cooking the rice. We’d decided to have pakora as well as the curry, as a kind of starter. The last time I made it, I made too much and we ended up the starter became the dinner. Not so this time. Four mushroom pakora to share and about ten cauliflower pakora to share, not too big pieces either. It actually turned out quite good. I’ll never be able to make that batter again, because it was a bit of this, a bit of that and just enough sparkling water to make it sticky without being stodgy or runny. It was voted a success. A wee glass of cheap red afterwards sealed the meal.

Later in the evening a G&T while we watched the comedy show pretending to be a whodunnit called Death in Paradise. Worth watching just for the tropical views.

The picture of the Golden Hour (the hour just before the sun sets) got PoD. Old glass on a new camera.

Tomorrow we’re planning to go for a walk and later have a posh dinner in.