Fishing – 12 December 2020

Now, before you get the wrong idea, I wasn’t wearing waders and freezing my backside off by a river. No, I was only watching.

We were sort of curtailed by the Littlest Witch’s banishment of us to North Lanarkshire. Only sort of, because we’d both agreed that we didn’t really want to go to Glasgow at the first weekend when lockdown wasn’t in force and the place would be full of mad Xmas shoppers. Also, the sun was breaking through the clouds and it looked like it was dry outside, so we headed off in the general direction of Broadwood Loch to get some fresh air and possibly some foties. We walked down and over the boardwalk and that gave me a chance to warm up with some shots of Tufted Ducks (commonly called ‘Tufties’). It was when we had crossed over the boardwalk that we found the fisher. It was a female Goosander with a fairly big fish in its mouth. I’m guessing it was a perch, but I couldn’t be sure. The bird was struggling:

  • A to swallow the fish whole
  • B to avoid all the other goosanders who wanted their share of the catch.

Eventually after a few minutes and a few shots from the camera, the fish was no more than a lump in the Goosander’s throat. Then off it swam in search of other fish to catch.

We walked on round part of the pond and on to the dam. Then it was down and round to go to the shops. It was a fairly pleasant day to start with and improved all afternoon, for a change. I was almost tempted to take a detour into St Mo’s on the way, but that would mean leaving Scamp to carry the heavy shopping home, besides I was fairly sure I’d a couple of shots in the bag.

We weren’t long home when there was a knock at the door and a woman handed me a parcel addressed to me. At first I thought Scamp had ordered something for my Christmas and forgotten to warn me, but she said no. Then she said that it would be my pan! Yes, I’d forgotten my pan. I ordered a cast aluminium non-stick griddle pan a week or so ago and this was indeed it. It’s a solid piece of metal and I got the chance to try it out tonight to cook my two venison burgers for dinner. Scamp was making crumbled curried cauliflower bhajis and we were sharing potato wedges to go with both our mains. She’d also made coconut pyramids. I know that’s not the correct name for them. It’s basically desiccated coconut, sugar and eggs made into little balls and baked in the oven. We usually get them at the Christmas Market in George Square in Glasgow, but of course, not this year.
The pan cooked the venison burgers perfectly. The first lot of Scamp’s coconut pyramids were a bit light coloured. The second lot were a bit darker. I liked the first lot, she preferred the well fired ones. The cauliflower bhajis were too spicy and the potato wedges just disappeared as soon as they hit the plate. A good dinner.

Watched Strictly which was dull. So was the final qualifier for the final race of the F1 GP season.

Tomorrow looks wet, so we might not get out for a walk.

Rain showers and sun – 22 November 2020

You have to be quick to get a walk in the dry bits.

We sat watching the rain pelt down and then dry up again. Both of us ready to go, but neither of us wanting to say to the other that it looked dry. Eventually we went for a walk down and round Broadwood Loch. Although I took the kit lens on the camera, I really wanted to try out the old Sigma ultra-wide 10 – 20mm lens with the new adapter. It worked almost perfectly. It focused, it recorded the aperture and shutter speed and I could change them. The only problem I discovered later when I was processing them in LR.

For the most part it was a pleasant walk. Thermometer said 7.4ºc and in when we were in the windy parts of the walk it certainly felt like that. In the shelter of the trees it was a lot warmer. Today’s PoD was taken with the new camera and the old glass. The images were a bit dark, but I can forgive that for the quality of the finished product.

The problem with the adapter is that it makes a blind stab at the maker of the lens. The focal range too is wildly wrong. It’s a pain to change, but I’m sure I can come up with a fix. The main thing is I don’t have to rely on manual focusing which is difficult to remember to do when you’re used to having the camera do it for you. Best of all, I get to keep my good old Nikon glass and use it easily.

We just managed to get back to the house before the rain came on. Just as we were passing the shops we could feel a drizzle, but it didn’t really pelt down until we were safely inside. Of course I had to try out the Hive while we were out by setting a 30min ‘boost’ in temperature to warm the house for us getting back. Just showing off really.

Spoke to JIC tonight and he explained in a rational way how the vaccine works without the hyperbole that the news people seem to want to attach to it. So now we know that those freezers that are needed to keep the vaccine at -80ºc are not as uncommon as (again) the news broadcasts tell us.

I think my NAS drive is dead. I wasted about three hours on it today and apart from one time it appeared to work, the rest of the time it was just an ornament. I think it’s had one kick in the head too many!

Today’s sketch is “B” for bottle. Just an old empty gin bottle that, like the NAS drive is just an ornament. We did drink some Harris Gin and it was very nice.

Tomorrow we’re taking Shona to collect paint form B&Q, six tins of it. Other than that, nothing planned.

Christmas Prezzies … already – 28 October 2020

Today we were off to collect some Christmas Prezzies that Scamp had ordered.

I usually complain about the condensing of the year. You know the sort of thing. After the schools go back in August the first Xmas cards start appearing. We’ve hardly got Christmas and New Year out of the way and the Easter Eggs are on the shelves. However, Christmas prezzies in October is just good planning, Scamp says. We found the place, just a normal house in an everyday street where the maker lived. That’s the way things are now. Ideas are seen online. Discussions are done and prices agreed on Messenger. Purchases are made online and items are collected from the maker’s home. I suppose it’s better than using Amazon, and at least we are supporting small businesses, which is a good thing.

With that done we drove up to a retail park in Bishopbriggs. Probably as close as you could get to the diametric opposite of the small business we had just left. I attempted some visual retail therapy in Currys, which was a waste of time because there were so few pieces of tech on the shelves. Another loser to the online market place. The problem with that approach is where to you find someone to advise you on a purchase? Where is there a salesperson you can trust to give you sound advice? The other question you should ask yourself is “Would I buy my item from that salesperson, knowing that I can get a better deal by logging on to Amazon?” It’s the old chicken and egg quandary. Scamp got what she wanted. I got what I deserved. Then we went for coffee in Costa and drove home after using up our allocation of 30 mins.

Soup for lunch, then I went out to St Mo’s to get some photos in the two hour window the weather app said I’d get. The sun almost came out and the Larches shone in the unexpected light. They surprise me every year with their bright yellow needles. I also has that strange vision of snowflakes, walking down the avenue of trees with the yellow needles blowing in the wind and looking just like snow. A branch of a larch with its bright needles still attached and a pinecone too made PoD.

Just before dinner while I was working on the PoD and Scamp was reading, someone knocked on the door. It was the Tesco delivery! We’d completely forgotten about it. Rushed to empty the crates and let the driver get on his way. Dinner was one of Scamp’s specialities, Stir-fry. This was a Chicken Stir-fry with all the fancy veg. Quite delicious.

Sketch of the day was Float. I’d decided about a week ago that today’s drawing centre around a fishing float. It looked a bit dull, just a view of a fishing float from below, so I searched for sort of cartoon drawings of fish and adapted one of them to add to the sketch, then added a few rocks and sand on the bottom of the water. That brightened it up. I’m happy with it.

That was about it for the day. These autumn days are so short now. We really should get up and out early to make the most of them. We watched the first episode of Roadkill. We’re both still undecided about it. We’ve another episode recorded and we may watch it tomorrow. Tomorrow however we are booked for a full day of wind and rain, which seems to happen about every second day just now.

Temptation – 1 October 2020

I warned you yesterday that I was going to do it and today I did.

I swithered, that’s a good Scots word, isn’t it? It means I couldn’t decide quite what to do about the camera. Eventually I settled for leaving it until at least the afternoon before choosing whether to go in to Glasgow or not. Last night as I was going to bed, ‘Not’ was winning. Today I swithered. I laid my case before that preeminent judge, Scamp and she listened impartially without giving any decision, because she knew I’d make my own mind up when the time came.

After lunch I made the decision to go in to JL and hold the camera if they still had it. That’s always been my way to assess the usefulness of a camera. You can read as many reviews as you want. Balance the Pros and the Cons, but if it doesn’t feel comfortable in your hot little hands, you’re not going to use it. Many, many years ago I picked up a camera, a Sony strangely enough, and knew it was worth having. That was a Sony F707 which I still have (Scamp will tell you I still have all of them and that’s nearly true) and it still feels ‘right’ in my hands. It’s just got a few problems now that aren’t repairable, but I still don’t want to part with it.

So now I have a Sony A7 full frame camera with a 28 – 70mm lens sitting on the table in front of me. It’s second hand.  It’s been used and taken back to the shop. There are a couple of scratches on it, but nothing serious. Tomorrow I’ll take it out for a walk in St Mo’s along with the Oly E-M1 which knows St Mo’s fairly well and we’ll see what they can come up with. Little and Large.

The new camera’s battery was charging this afternoon, so I took the Oly out to get some photos in the sunshine. There wasn’t much doing, but it was good to walk about without a raincoat or a fleece on. Cool in the shade, but plenty warm in the sun. I just found out about fifteen minutes ago that I picked up a tick on my travels. First one I’ve had in ages. Must be less blasé about them. I know our minds are on Covid just now, but there are other nasties out there, waiting for the unwary.

While I was out, Scamp was making mince ’n’ tatties with cabbage and carrots. She, of course, denied herself the pleasure of the mince and had the veggie version. Dessert was stewed apples and rhubarb with custard. Our own apples and rhubarb. All the apples have now been picked and the rhubarb too is finished until next year.

Today being the first of October is the start of Inktober. Today’s sketch is of one of the fish statues we saw in Corralejo back in 2016.  It will do to cover today’s topic of ‘Fish’. PoD was a bramble leaf from St Mo’s.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but the weather looks reasonable, so we may go for a walk somewhere interesting.

Another gardening day – 9 June 2020

For Scamp it was. I was only the labourer.

Scamp set out in the morning with her tool belt on ready to do battle with the Pieris and the Rhododendron. She worked like a trojan scraping away the moss and compacted top soil on both, then pruned the pieris then together we hauled it around until it was sitting in a better position. My job for the day was to repot the Rosemary which had been stuck in a rather small pot for quite some time now and we’d been promising it a new pot with fresh compost for a while now. Today was the day. Again, it was moved to a sunnier spot in the garden, although there wasn’t a lot of sun for it to sit in today. It was all a bit dull and grey.

After lunch we walked to the shops to get tortilla wraps, broccoli and smoked salmon for tonight’s dinner which was to be quick quiche. Found the recipe in an old newspaper where they used a tortilla wrap instead of shortcrust pastry for the base and sides of the quiche. What a difference it makes. Done in half the time with no faffing around chilling the pastry or blind baking.

Walked back and it felt like there was just the hint of rain in the wind. I decided to ignore it and go for a walk in St Mo’s just to make sure I had a photo for today. I saw a bloke fly fishing in the pond. I’ve heard of Fly Fishing in Yemen, but this must be the first time I’ve seen anyone fly fishing in the pond at St Mo’s. I suppose it’s possible to catch perch or maybe even a small pike with a fly, but usually it’s blokes with umbrellas, gigantic bait boxes and a six pack of Tennents or the sneaky little bottle of Bucky who sit there all day. This bloke was standing and moving. He was doing some nifty casts too. It might take you some time to see him, he’s well camouflaged! That photo got PoD. Those eagle eyed out there might have noticed in the photo that there were a lot of rain splashes in the water. I decided to cut short my walk and head for home, only having a hoodie as rain protection.

The quiche was lovely. Broccoli and smoked salmon. Something Jackie taught me up in Skye. It’s a very good combination. Scamp made another quiche, a Quiche Lorraine, but the flavours weren’t as strong as the first one.

Target for today was to Draw Something Huge. After a great deal of thought, I decided on the head-up kelpie. I can’t remember if he is Duke or Baron, all I know is that the head-down kelpie likes to be called Harry the Happy Kelpie, but that’s something he told me and it’s supposed to be a secret, so don’t go blabbing it. Pencil rough then Lamy ABC kids fountain pen (great for sketching), then a gentle water wash to give some light shadows. Always difficult to sketch such an icon, but I think I got away with it.

Tomorrow it looks wet for most of the afternoon. Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. I hope I am.

Making the change – 14 October 2019

Today there will be no lying around. Today I will be active.

That’s what I said anyway. Out fairly early to drop off another sample at the doc’s. Don’t know what they find so fascinating about my pee, but it seems to keep them amused. Back home and today’s work schedule included cleaning the downstairs toilet. It didn’t take long, certainly not nearly as long as the bathroom last week. Probably that’s partly due to the fact that it’s a tiny little space. However I did give it the full “big clean” as one of my cleaners used to call it.

After that it was lunchtime and Scamp suggested I have a couple of slices of my excellent bread with some Wiltshire ham between. What makes the bread extra excellent is that it’s made by Prince Chic (Charles to you, but Chic to his friends). I don’t suppose Chic actually mills the flour himself, but it comes from his estate and it makes very good bread. It was also cheap at Waitrose or I wouldn’t have bought it.

When Gems came in I sat and talked to Margie for a while and showed her my sketches for Inktober. Margie is always very complementary about my work, but she produces some startling paintings herself. Veronica slipped a copy of Wildlife Photographer of the Year onto the table. It seems her son-in-law is a keen wildlife photog. I wouldn’t say that what I take are wildlife photos, more landscapes and macros. I like looking at landscape photos, but find it hard to compose them properly when I’m out and about with a camera. There’s no such problems with macros. With them the big challenges are more technical, like getting the aperture right and trying to get the best use of light. Also there’s the stalking of the tiny wee insects. Great fun, but not really artistic. On first glance at the photos in the book, I’m amazed at the quality and detail. I’ll have a good look before I have to give it back next week.

To continue the ‘active’ theme, I went for a walk along the canal and then on to the railway and that’s where I saw today’s PoD. It’s an old oak tree and I just liked the way the light hit the trunk. It was good to be out in the fresh air under  a blue sky for a change. Took a few more shots, but you’ll have to visit Flickr to see them.   Walking back along the canal, I saw a goosander surface quite close to me with a fish in its beak.  Knew I didn’t have time to grab the camera from my bag and focus, so I just watched it for a while.  It looked quite pleased with it’s early dinner.  Back to M&S for the makings of our own dinner and while I was traipsing around, I got the signal that I’d completed my 10,000 steps. Happy.

Dinner tonight met with a mixed reception. I thought it was great, Scamp was more critical. It was Prawns with Spaghetti and Courgette Spaghetti. Scamp didn’t like the dill that was in it, I didn’t mind. Maybe needs a bit of work.

The topic for today was “A Rowing Boat”. There aren’t many rowing boats lying around waiting to be sketched in the Central Belt of Scotland, so this one came straight out of my head. I quite liked it.

The plan for tomorrow is to get up early and then go to the seaside. Not sure if that will be east or west coast, but the weather looks like it will be fairly dry.

Out looking for foties – 5 November 2018

It’s Monday. It’s a Gems day. I need an excuse to get out.

Dull, damp, uninspiring morning. Hoping it would get better (brighter) later, I trawled through some photos in Flickr looking for inspiration. Saw a photo of Loch Lomond with the hills just dusted with snow. That would do. Millarochy Bay would be good if the light got a bit better. As one o’ clock drew nearer and no decent light appeared, I was getting worried that it might end up being the Luggie Water or even St Mo’s again, then I had a brainwave, or something like it. I’d go up over the Tak Ma Doon road and see what the weather was like on the other side of the hills, and that’s what I did.

Passed a few cyclists on the climb of the Tak Ma Doon into the clouds and was glad I was in a car. Had a near miss with a wee white Citroen near the top of the climb, but I needn’t have worried. The wee thing looked as if it was made from paper-thin steel and would probably just have bounced off the Juke and gone flying over the dyke and down the hill using the ‘alternative route’. Crested the final rise and yes, the weather did look a bit lighter on the other side, although it was difficult to be sure because I was still in the low cloud. Noticed that the Faughlin Reservoir is now a stocked trout fishery with a stonking price of £25 per day. I used to fish it regularly some years ago for nothing. Then I remembered that that was thirty years ago! Drove on to Carron Reservoir and parked for a very realistic £2.

Walked up to past the dam and took some shots near a wooden seat dedicated to Pam Jackson, but couldn’t find anything to say who she was.
Walked on and tried some bracketed exposures of the loch, but the light was fading, so I headed back to the car.

The PoD was taken near that seat and nearly got my feet wet again. Processed in ON1 2018 and in Lightroom. It gives the feel of the place. I would go back again on a day when the light was better.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but I’m sure something will come up to grab our attention.

No Fish Today – 12 April 2018

A drive around Falkirk and Stirling was on the cards today.

In the morning, Scamp was having coffee with Isobel. I cleaned out a file on the new Linx. It’s named Windows.old and on the ‘new’ computer, it holds 12.5GB of data. That’s data that I’m not going to use again. That’s data that takes up almost 19% of the 64GB storage on the Linx. I did the sensible thing first, of course. I backed up the whole 64GB earlier in the week. I should say that I tried to just simply delete the folder last night, but I kept on hitting blocks where some files were locked and others needed approval by the ‘administrator’ i.e. me. It wasn’t just the simple fire-and-forget deletion that my Windows Explorer replacement, Directory Opus, can usually be relied upon to supply. However, after a bit of searching on the Interweb, I found an elegant solution that Microsoft actually supply. Admittedly it’s hidden deep in the pages within pages of the ‘system’. It does a good job though. 12GB of useless crap surgically removed. I may say this only once: Thank you Microsoft! Oh yes, and I did today’s Sudoku too.

When she got back, Scamp suggested we go to the fish shop in Linlithgow. We’d been planning to go for a couple of weeks now. Seemed like a plan, so off we went. Drove along the traffic jam and assault course that is a Main Street in Linlithgow only for Scamp to cry out that the shop was shut. I couldn’t look myself for the simple reason that I’d have driven into a bus or a tractor coming the other way or run one of the amazing amount of red lights on that street. You really have to have driven there to realise just what I’m talking about. I took her word for it and drove on out the other side. I could have turned at the roundabout at the end of the Main Street, but that would have meant running the gauntlet a second time and I wasn’t up for that. That took us the long road down past Grangemouth and from there along the M9 to Stirling. It gave me the opportunity to stock up on breakfast muesli and beer at Morrisons. Both essentials. It also gave Scamp a chance to buy up their entire stock of ‘cheap wine’ (her words, not mine). We also had a cheap lunch (my words). Bowl of chips (S), Roll ’n’ Sausage (me) and two cups of reasonable coffee for just over £6. That’s a good deal.

On the way home was a plant nursery Isobel had been telling Scamp about. How convenient. She got a Ladybird Poppy there and she’d also got a wee Acer in Morrisons, so she was a happy bunny. When we got home I found a confirmation email from the shop to confirm that just short of £100 would be in our account soon. I was a happy bunny.

Back home I put on my walking trousers. That’s the pair of cords with holes in the pockets and muck splattered all the way up the legs. Went for a walk round St Mo’s. Found two of the Orange 16 Spot Ladybirds I’ve been keeping tabs on since December. One looked as if it was laying eggs, but was in a really awkward place in the moss at the bottom of an ash tree, so it was difficult to be sure. PoD went to the Gorse flower. Lovely and bright.  Notice the yellow theme!

Tomorrow looks like it will be wet. Don’t know what we’ll do. Maybe go for lunch, that would be good. Not going for fish.

Fish and Monkey Glands – 19 December 2017

Out early and drove to Linlithgow to get some fish to fill the freezer.

We had to go early because my coffee mountain was being delivered in the afternoon. Got the fish and also got some gin that John had recommended at Aldi in the town. Also got a couple of steaks, one of which will do for Christmas dinner.

Came home and after lunch went to dump some empties in the bottle bank, but not before photographing them! Discovered I didn’t have my phone with me. I’d intended getting more photos when I was out, but that wasn’t going to happen now. Came home to find Scamp dressed ready to go out. Her aunt was stranded at Monkey Glands (Monklands) hospital in Airdrie. As it was getting dark now, I offered to drive there with her. Came home and dropped Isobel at her house and drove home. Still no more photos, so the old bottles would have to do as PoD.

That’s about it. We now have some parcels under the tree, at last.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with the boys.

New Eyes – 23 June 2017

Phoned the opticians at midday today to check if my new glasses were ready, and they were. New eyes for me.

Earlier I’d spoken to Hazy on the phone and then Scamp had squeezed every last bit of information from her about her new nephew. Good to hear that they too are experiencing more comfortable temperatures.

Drove to Larkhall and got my new glasses which I am now wearing to write this blog. Don’t they look good? When I had picked up and paid for them, I drove down to Millheugh and used that as a basis for today’s SoD. I was careful in my description there, because it seems that someone has decided to build a salmon ladder up the far side of the waterfall (locally called ‘The Boards’). It looks as if it’s still in the construction stage yet. It may be some time before it’s completed. The SoD does not include the salmon ladder, because it’s basically a building site with loads of scaffolding and massive concrete precast panels at present. Ugly is not the word for it.

Drove home the long way and stopped off at a wee garden centre to see if they had any of the massive pots we need to pot up Scamp’s pieris. They did, and at a bargain price too! Got two for the price some garden centres were asking for one. Also found hanging baskets planted with strawberries (that’s what you see above). Had to have one of them, if only to repay Scamp for slaving over a hot stove re-boiling yesterday’s strawberry jam to make it thicker. She’s a perfectionist.

That was about it for the day. I had ordered a book on urban sketching from Amazon yesterday and it arrived at lunchtime today. It looks like one of he best, most concise books on sketching architecture I’ve read. Now I need to put it into practise.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow so that I can start that practise.

It’s been very windy today, but not a lot of rain. Tomorrow we keep the wind and apparently we get rain too. Oh well, the garden needs it.