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!


Walking on Sunshine – 16 January 2022

No dull skies today, only blue and the big white shiny thing was up in that sky.

I was so glad to see the hill basking in the warm glow of the morning sun when I got up. What a difference a day makes. We just had to go out and enjoy that sunshine. We drove down to Auchinstarry and found a space to park at the quarry. From there we walked along the old mineral line path as far as Twechar. On the way there we stopped to let four cyclists past. Further on we bumped into a wee older man pushing his bike up the hill. He told us it wasn’t a true electric bike, it was an electric assist bike which means that if you stop pedalling, the motor stops too. He seemed to be enjoying the freedom of the bike. I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet, although it’s a long time since I last took the Dewdrop out. By that time we were at the halfway point of the walk. I’d taken a few photos, but not a lot.

We crossed the road and followed the towpath back to Auchinstarry. On the way we passed a few folk out walking in the morning sunshine. A lot more photos were taken and with no wind, the reflections in the water were excellent. Most of the bikes that passed, and there were lots, were serious road bikes or hybrids, but there were a few electric bikes too. We even met the wee man on his assist bike. He seemed to be making good time, far better time than us. Back at Auchinstarry the car park had filled up quite significantly since we left the car. Every space was taken and cars were parked along the edge of the climbing wall of the quarryside too. We went to Kilsyth after that to get some potatoes for dinner and a bottle of gin for me. `

Back home and after lunch I started making some bread. Well, the mixer started making some bread and I just watched it. Then it was time to start reorganising the wires and cables behind the TV. We had discussed this last night and come to the conclusion that we could happily do without the DVD player and, since we now had a much neater TiVo box, we should try to build a pedestal for it that would hide the mass of cables that crowd into the space behind the TV. After photographing the back of the TiVo I disconnected the cables, removed the box and the, now redundant, DVD player. The next thing to do was to decide what cables were staying and what could go. Then it was time to plug everything back into the TiVo using the photo as a reference and hope it worked again. It did. For now the TiVo is sitting on a low stepping stool, but we’ve a plan to make a low pedestal from a piece of pine that has been wasting its time in a cupboard upstairs. The DVD player will go to the skip, maybe as early as tomorrow.

Next task was to get my lamb shoulder ready for the oven. Just for my reference, here is what I did:
Heat the oven to Gas 4.
Pan fry the rolled lamb shoulder
Tuck some rosemary into the meat and secure it under the string
Season with salt and pepper
Put in a roasting tray and cover with tinfoil
Cook for 1 hour
Check, then return to the oven for another hour.
Allow to cook for about 30 mins in a warm place.

This is for a piece of meat 600g approx.

PoD was a shot of a bloke walking his dog along the towpath of the canal.

Lamb was delicious. Scamp’s scallops were a disappointment. Bread looks good, although we haven’t tasted it yet

Spoke to Jamie in the evening and heard all about the extra costs in getting the house the way you want it and how the cost of every repair seems to have three zeros after the first number!

Tomorrow more sun and blue sky predicted. Another walk is on the cards I hope.

Out on Dewdrop – 31 August 2021

Not really a cycle run, more a bramble hunt.

In the morning Scamp went out to get something for tonight’s dinner and came home with three Tesco bags full. While she was out I tried connecting the old Tamron zoom lens onto the Sony A7M2. I’ve made a few changes to some of the buttons and they make it easier to use the lens in manual mode. It does seem to work quite well as a manual lens now and to be honest the autofocus was never all that good. Just a pity the anti-shake doesn’t work now, it was useful. I took some photos of Scamp’s sweet peas in their wee jug that Hazy gave her and they looked quite good. Have a look on Flickr if you get a chance.

After lunch I pumped up the tyres on the Dewdrop and took it out for a short run down to an old path beside the railway where I knew I would get some brambles. Sure enough there were loads of them there and because it’s only a path and about 100m from the road, the fruit would be free from the chemicals given out by the lorries and vans that clog that road. I found another patch on the way home and managed to come home with just over 700g of black berries that are now stored in the freezer.

While I was out Scamp had been making Viennese Fingers and part coating them in dark chocolate without burning her fingers, thanks to H&N’s gift of a silicone jug. What clever folk they are. I’ve been stuffing my face with the little biscuits and can confirm that they taste as good as they look.

I was too busy picking brambles to take any photos today, so after changing out of my cycling gear I took the Sony A7 out with the macro lens attached and got some close-up shots in St Mo’s. No insects today to photograph, but I did get a chance to practise my manual focus skills again and most of the shots looked ok.  It was a Birdsfoot Trefoil that got PoD manually focused of course.

I’d heard a strange engine note while I was messing around in the morning photographing posies of sweet peas.  After a bit of checking on Flightrader 24 it turned out to belong to a Spitfire a tandem trainer version which was built in 1945, making it five years older than me.  It seemed to be based for the last couple of days at Cumbernauld Airport.  I did think I might go up and see if I could get a few photos, but I’d promised to go and hunt some brambles for Scamp, but while I was out in St Mo’s in the afternoon I caught a glimpse of the plane completing a half loop with a roll off the top, an Immelmann Turn.  Sounded wonderful.  May go and have a look for it tomorrow if it’s still there.

Also tomorrow we may go somewhere interesting for a walk, because tomorrow may be us nearing the end of these balmy end of Summer days. Plus, it will be the first day of meteorological autumn.  Night’s will be fair drawing in!




Chicken Burger and Cheese Burger – 14 July 2021

Chicken Burger (No barbecue sauce). Cheese Burger (No mayo). Foodies are fastidious.

Today we drove to The Fort to spend one of our M&S vouchers on ourselves. Sometimes it’s nice to spend money you don’t really feel you’ve earned on something. Today it was mainly alcohol. For some reason you can’t spend Tesco vouchers on alcohol, petrol or tobacco products. I fail to see the common factor there, but I presume Tesco see the hidden logic.

After our splurge, we went for a walk around this emporium of retail therapy. I went to Waterstones and found a few interesting books I might try on Audible or Kindle. Probably Audible because I’ve just finished my last book and my next credit has just appeared, also because I’ve got an interesting ‘Real’ book that I can read and it’s got illustrations which obviously you don’t get with Audible. Scamp knew she’d find me browsing in Waterstones, so after she dragged me away from the books we went for lunch.

We walked over to Ben & Jerry’s. Not really B&J, but that’s what we always call it. It’s really Frankie & Benny’s. It used to be our go-to place for breakfast when we were flying off to go on a cruise or to have a late deal week in the sun. In the days before quarantine, face masks and Covid. Now it’s just a fairly cheap place for lunch. The burgers are usually good and the chips are such a temptation! Today’s choice, as you can see from the title was Chicken Burger for Scamp and Cheese Burger for me with the usual alterations. Both were delicious, but the overpriced lemonade was stale tasting. Nothing is perfect.
Stopped off at The Shops on the way home to get pineapple in M&S plus a bottle of gin and four pineapple cakes in Aldi.

I took the Dewdrop out for its second run this year and went to my usual quiet place alongside the railway. Today’s PoD came from there. Originally there were the overhead wires cutting right across the sky in the photo, but about an hour’s work put paid to them and left a much better picture. While I was walking around looking for more photos I felt wee nip on my front and brushed away what I think must have been a cleg. It had bit me right through my tee shirt. I couldn’t see a hole, so it must have been using a syringe to draw off some blood. Another nip on my shoulder a few minutes later meant that it was time to get back on the bike before my tee shirt was ruined. Luckily I had some Piriton tablets and an old tube of Anthisan cream in my saddle bag. They got to work immediately and got the swelling down. No mark to be seen now.
Took another few shots on the way home, but the Beech trees were the clear winner of PoD.

It was a lot cooler but the time I got home and the sky had clouded over quite a lot. It’s supposed to reach 27º tomorrow. We’ll believe it when we see it.

The Dewdrop goes out – 6 July 2021

It was a much better day than we anticipated.

Scamp was off for coffee with Isobel in the morning and I wasn’t invited. I wasn’t particularly bothered by the non-invite because I had my own plans for the day.

I’d planned that if the day was set fair, I’d take Dewdrop out for a spin. Just a short run, nothing too strenuous because I’ve not been cycling since about September last year and I wasn’t entirely sure I’d remember how to ‘go a bike’. It was easy. Dewdrop was docile and put up with me missing gears and struggling with the SPD plates on my shoes. We soon covered the 3 miles I’d earmarked as our first day out in 2021.

I had to lift the bike over a five bar gate on to the rutted old path alongside the railway. I didn’t get all the way along the path because I could see in the distance a JCB working near the end and as this path is technically private land I didn’t want to have to explain my intentions. Those intentions were to get some insect photos. So I cut my journey short and went looking for something less interesting, but still photographable.

I found it. The ‘It’ in question was a Burnet Moth and not just one, there were hundreds of them some, three to a flower. I think they were 5 Spot although they may be 6 Spot. It’s difficult to tell because the spots sometimes merge and also somtimes you get misled and find you’re counting a spot on the underwing.  Burnet moths are day flying insects and despite their startling appearance, aren’t all that rare. However they only seem to appear around here for a few days. I must just have hit it lucky today. I grabbed a few shots of course.

The other strange sight was a black slug emerging from a puddle where it had been completely submerged. As far as I could remember, slugs can’t breathe underwater, but this one was crawling along the bottom of the puddle, before it hauled itself out and then crawled over to another puddle to cross it head just above the water. Such a strange sight. I took photos … of course (on Flickr), but now I think about it, I should have taken a short video too. Is this the true origin of the Loch Ness Monster?  Is Nessie a gigantic slug?

When I got home, Scamp was back from her ‘coffee’ outing, although she said there seemed to be very little actual coffee in her cup. Maybe it was a ‘babychino’ rather than a latte.

After lunch Scamp started defrosting the freezer. It was my fault. Last night I didn’t close the door properly after I took the last of the ice cream out. The door stayed open until Scamp was going to bed around 11pm. That would mean it was gently losing its ice for about five hours. When we opened the door this morning it looked as if Frosty the Snowman had been in the freezer all night. Everything was covered in a layer of white frost. The freezer was needing defrosted anyway, so this was the incentive we needed. That’s one way of looking at it, anyway. After about an hour this afternoon with both of us taking turns at the defrosting process it was deemed clear enough to restart the freeze process. We put back about 60% of the contents. The rest were either too old to be worth keeping or Scamp didn’t think they were safe to refreeze. I’ll check next and every time and close that freezer door properly now.

Scamp made dinner tonight, a Prawn & Pea Risotto. Really lovely. Just enough mint in it to flavour the peas without overwhelming the whole thing.

We had a quick dance practise tonight just to make sure we can do the basic rumba, cha-cha and foxtrot. After a bit of discussion we came to agree on the correct moves in the correct places!

Tomorrow we may go out for a walk if the weather stays dry. It almost stayed dry today, just a little shower to remind us it was still there.



Day two of freedom – 17 April 2021

My choice today, so blame me, Hazy!

Today we drove to Culross. Yesterday we were warned by JIC not to waste our freedom on Helensburgh. Today Hazy would say we wasted our second day on Culross.

We got parked right away. As one person was driving out we drove in. One out, one in. It’s quite a small car park and we did have an option of another one if the main car park was full. Later in the day we found yet another parking place that we’d not noticed before. Culross is a curious place indeed. Three fairly large car parks for such a small town.

Recently I’ve been describing, partly as an aide memoire for me which routes we’ve taken on our walks. Today, using the theory that one picture is worth a thousand words, I’ll provide you with a map.

We started off at the car park. Almost immediately, I got PoD which is a view of the ‘new’ pier with the precarious looking wooden walkway out to it. Then we walked on a narrow path between the, now defunct railway and the sea wall as far as the start of the reclaimed area that now landlocks Preston Island. We continued our walk beside the sea on our right and the lagoons protected by a chain link fence on the left, listening to larks ascending. It’s only in quiet undisturbed places like Preston Island that you hear skylarks now. They used to be everywhere, now they are getting very rare. We sat on some rocks and after I’d photographed what I think are fossils on the boulders that form the breakwater, we decided we’d turn our walk into a circular tour of the once island. Walked round the closed off area reclaimed by dumping ash from the now almost completely demolished Longannet power station. It was a coal fired power station and there must have been thousands of tons of ash dumped on this land to reclaim it from the salt water of the estuary. It wasn’t the prettiest walk, but the sun was shining and we weren’t climbing any great hills today, so we were just enjoying life.

Walking through an avenue of trees on the north side of the reclaimed land I took a photo of a couple cycling along in front of us (it’s on Flickr) and realised that almost all the cyclists I’d seen today were about our age and almost every one of them was seated on an electric bike. Scamp say’s it’s just the fashion, but maybe it’s going to be the way forward. I’m not sure it’s the right way. I think folk see electric power becoming popular as a ‘green’ alternative to petrol in cars and assume it’s the same for bikes. Surely the ‘greenest’ form of travel is by human power. After all, it keeps you fit. There are no batteries to charge or to replace and it’s cheaper. That said, I’d like to try an electric bike some time!

We came back almost the same way as we went out, except we were on the other side of the railway line. Loads of people and their dogs walking along the path. Everyone rejoicing in their new found freedom. I often think I’ve lost something, a pen, a brush, something I’d hate to lose, only to find it later. The joy it brings to find you’ve not lost something you thought was gone for ever is a great feeling. I believe it’s the same with our freedom being returned after we thought we’d lost it for good.

Tomorrow we may drive to Glasgow Green for a walk, if the weather holds out.


Out on the bike – 30 August 2020

With a little fruit picking too.

One of those mornings when you wake early and can’t get back to sleep, so the best thing to do is get up and have breakfast. That’s what I intended to do, but instead I took breakfast back to bed and read for an hour. After that there were dishes to do (in the dishwasher) and washing to do (in the washing machine). With the machines doing all the grunt work, I settled down to read the news on my phone with a cup of coffee and a catch-up with Scamp still in University-city, St Andrews. Hung out he washing, although the complete absence of any sort of breeze meant it would take the clothes a long time to dry, despite the warm air temperature. Not to worry, I’d plenty of time.

I took the Dewdrop out for a run, but as well as my usual camera in the rucksack, I’d a couple of poly bags to collect some brambles. Now, you may know them as Blackberrys and argue that it’s the plant that’s the Bramble. If that’s the case, then you’re probably not Scottish and definitely not Central Scottish. Here it’s the economic language. Why have two names for what is essentially the same thing. The bushes AND the fruits are Brambles. That’s it settled. Those wee black berries (note the subtle difference that space makes) were in much shorter supply than I’d anticipated and it took me some time to find a good fruit bearing bush, but eventually I managed to pick just over 300g of black fruit.

While I was out I noticed a whole host of swallows congregating on the overhead lines and wondered if it’s almost time for them to make their annual migration to warmer climes.  I also wondered, as I have before, how they know it’s time and if they can sense the change of the seasons much more accurately than we mere humans can.

I’d only been home for about 10 minutes when Scamp arrived. We compared car journeys and weather, then it was time to make dinner. Tonight we were having Veg Chilli with just about everything that wasn’t bolted down going into the pot. After some delicate adjustments to the spicing and the condiments we settled down to a fairly tasty chilli. No recipe was needed or recorded. Sometimes that’s the best way, unless you want to make a second lot sometime in the future, then you’ve to try to rack your brains to remember what went into that great chilli you made ages ago. Maybe one of these days I’ll write it down, but I doubt it.

Watched the Ferraris having a terrible time at the Belgian GP with, maybe, a little snigger. Also watched George Russel escape unscathed from what could have been a very nasty accident when a wheel from another car came bounding towards him at a reported 125mph (how do they know what speed the wheel was travelling at?).
Other than that it was a dire day for Ferrari and a great day for Mercedes and Hamilton in particular.

That was about it apart from sampling another new bottle of gin with the addition of a grapefruit slice to spice things up. PoD was a picture of three cows in a field composed using rule of thirds and PoD because I liked it.

Tomorrow we have no real plans.

Took the bike out – 15 August 2020

Went for a walk in the afternoon, hoping against hope for some sun.

It worked! The sun arrived and blue sky reigned for a while, then the wind got a bit more fierce and blew all the warmth away. It was lovely to look out at, but not so nice to be in it. We went for a walk before the wind arrived. A long walk, to post a card that won’t be picked up until Monday and will probably be delivered before the end of the week, for a birthday that’s tomorrow. Just all at sixes and sevens these days. Normal for me, but a bit unusual for Scamp. Sorry JIC!

With the card safely in the big round red box, we walked down to the shops to get what was needed for today’s dinner. Back home I couldn’t decide what to do with the rest of the day and finally got the track pump out and inflated the Dewdrop’s tyres, dressed appropriately and took it out for a spin. Not a long run, just enough to blow away the cobwebs from me and the bike. Got today’s PoD which is a bunch of early brambles. Only one of them is ripe, but it’s early days yet. We need lots more sun and a little drop more rain. We’ll probably get those two necessities, except the quantities will be reversed. It was pleasantly warm as long as you were out of the wind. Otherwise it was a bit chilly for August.

Tonight’s dinner was Cod and Prawns with Fennel and White Wine. Sounds very posh, but it’s really easy to make. Well within my capabilities.

That’s about it for today. Tomorrow is still a mystery. No plans.

Out for a run – 20 June 2020

We went for petrol today, the first since March!

We went to Tesco. Scamp was scouting around for the best deal in mobile phones and Tesco is usually up there with the best. It took us a long time to see just the extent of the queue to get in and when we did find out how long it was, we went for petrol instead. One of the advantages of being in Lockdown is that we don’t use much petrol. The last time I filled the tank was in March! From Tesco we drove to Calders where there was no queue to get in. Scamp wanted some begonias to fill up some empty tubs and, of course, some compost to help with the filling up. Got what we needed and left to see what the rest of the day offered.

It offered me a run out on the Dewdrop. For Scamp it was a seat in the sun and a Pimms to cool down with. My run took me the backroad to Kirkintilloch, then the main road back to Cumbersheugh. That’s not a road I’ll travel again on a bike if I can avoid it. No lorries, but buses and nutters doing what must have been 80 on something that is really a country road. The back road may have been a bit hilly in places, but it was much safer than the wider roads.

Back home I sat in the sun with Scamp for a while and had a glass or two of soda water and lime. Felt really dehydrated. She’d been working while I was away. There was a pot holding four begonias and another one with a heather plant and another two begonias.

We’d already agreed that we’d have a Golden Bowl dinner tonight, so after I came out of the shower I phoned our order and half an hour later, after a walk to Condorrat we were sitting down to Chicken Chop Suey (Scamp) and Special Chow Mein (Me) and Prawn Crackers to share. Lovely meal, cooked perfectly. My compliments to the chef.

Lovely email from JIC this morning asking if we’d like to join them at a farmhouse they’d booked in the Yorkshire Dales in September. That really did bring smiles to our faces. With a bit of luck, we’ll be going on holiday this year after all.

PoD was taken on that bike ride this afternoon, proving that Cumbersheugh is not always as grim as I sometimes portray it. No sketch yet, an early night for once. My aching bones need the rest.

Well, it’s been another lovely warm day, but tomorrow is forecast to bring wind and rain.  The gardens need it.

Another dull day to start with – 14 June 2020

We’d hoped for a brighter start, but the weather fairies told us to wait and all would be sunshine an light.

Dull milky white sky, but Scamp got an email that put a smile on her face. It seemed that her new tablet case would be delivered today. We waited for a while and still the white cloud persisted. Finally after lunch the parcel arrived and so did the sunshine. Once again the weather fairies had proved that all those expensive computers were worthwhile and that we should have patience and wait for the good weather to appear.

After lunch and after watching Andrew Marr try to antagonise Rishi Sunak without success (He actually answered every question Marr fired at him) we decided what to do with what remained of the day. The walk or cycle debate was solved by me saying I’d take the sunshine as a sign that it would be a good day to cycle. Scamp did some dinner preparation and then relaxed in the garden after some ‘essential gardening’. Rearranged pots to her satisfaction. I went in search of something worth photographing using the Teazer 90. I couldn’t find it to start with, but after searching all the likely places, stated looking in the unlikely, but possible places. Finally found it in a Bergy jacket in a cupboard. Not only that, I thought I’d found my glasses that I’d lost a week ago in the same jacket. That didn’t seem likely, because the jacket had been in that cupboard for at least a month. It appears that I’ve found a pair of glasses that I thought I’d lost around Christmas last year. Still haven’t found their replacement. If its taken me six months to find one pair, and I lost the replacement pair a week ago, does that mean I’ll find them (the replacement pair) somewhere around Christmas 2020? Time scale seems to work, not sure the logic does. Personally I blame the Hortus gin!

Cycled to the waste ground near Drumgrew bridge and watched the bees gathering nectar from the flowers. Found a conducive Small Heath butterfly which sat on a Marguerite flower for enough time for me to focus and grab a few shots of it. Its wings were a bit battered and bruised, but I’m happy that my ID is correct

Back home we had some time sitting in the sun and drinking non-alcoholic Lime cordial and water while the sun slipped down the slope of the afternoon. Dinner was fillet steak from Lidl for me and salmon for Scamp with Jersey Royal potatoes, broccoli and cauliflower. Coffee in the garden afterwards. Tried Amoretto coffee for the first (and last) time. One of Scamp’s favourites. It tastes like I’d imagine liquid marzipan would. Such a waste of good coffee.

Not a bad Sunday after all, especially given the poor start. Tomorrow we have no plans, as yet.