The boot’s on the other foot – 13 September 2021

Scamp needed better shod and today was the day to look for new boots.

We drove to Kirkby Stephen and went to Mad About Mountains, an outdoor clothing shop which came recommended by Sim. It certainly held a lot of stuff in a small space. Scamp tried on a few boots and liked one of them, although she did think it was a bit tight. With that in mind, she asked for the other boot of the pair to try, and that’s when the trouble started. The bloke who was serving us couldn’t find it, however he told us his boss was due in soon and he would know where the missing boot was. He also recommended two different running shoes. They weren’t boots, but what the hell! He told us to go for a coffee and his boss would have found the rogue boot by the time we came back.

Since MaM had a café at the back of the shop, we went there. Scamp had a latte and I had an americano, but neither of them were coffee. I’m almost certain they had a fair amount of Chicory in them. Almost undrinkable, but we waited a while before we went back, hopefully, to try on a PAIR of boots. Same bloke was waiting at the till doing Facebook updates by the look of things. Eventually he noticed we were there and told us that he hadn’t been able to find the boot. When I asked him if his boss had managed to find what had happened to it, he looked confused and after gathering his brain cells (both of them) together said his boss hadn’t a clue either. He had told us he only worked there two days a week. If his excuses don’t get better soon, that will reduce to zero.

Feeling a bit disappointed and disillusioned we walked along the street where we found a wee walkers shop. Two blokes were sitting outside having a smoke and a natter. One of them said we didn’t need masks because there was nobody in, and to ask him if there was anything he could help with. Scamp told him what she was looking for and long story short, ten minutes later she was walking out with a pair of leather walking boots. Remember the name Mad About Mountains and give it wide berth. Head for Eden Outdoors instead. They sell their boots in pairs!

In the evening we went for a walk, going left after leaving the house, just to try out the new boots. Apparently the boots are fine for space, not cramping Scamp’s dainty toesies, but the collar at the ankle is pressing a bit tight. Not enough to be a problem, just an inconvenience. “They’re fine!” was her comment. Tonight Jamie and Sim were cooking Naked Fish and Carrot Chips, one of their specialities. We were agreed that this was the best version yet.

PoD was a shot of an old tractor Murdo would have been proud of.

Watched the first part of a Silent Witness. It seemed a bit more interesting than the last one we saw.

Tomorrow we may go for a longer walk and try out these new boots.

 

Brough Castle revisited – 11 September 2021

First day walk about.

We drove into Kirkby Stephen which is the nearest town and parked at the main carpark beside the auction mart. Carpark was really busy, even for a Saturday, but we found a space. The church bells were ringing and we assumed it was a wedding. Lots of well dressed people heading for the church and that’s what initially gave Scamp the inkling that it wasn’t a wedding. They weren’t dressed for a wedding apparently. It turned out it was it was a memorial for a woman called Joan Johnstone who was an important local Councillor.

We walked over Frank’s Bridge. Not a clue who Frank was, then around the cricket pitch looking for the path to take us up to the viewpoint on the hill which sort of overlooks the town. Eventually found that I’d led us the wrong way. How strange! 😏. We walked back, but couldn’t find any place to have lunch. Everywhere was full or closed. Presumably so the owners could get to the memorial service. Scamp got ten allium bulbs from the same shop we bought last year’s bulbs from and they turned out so well. With that done we chose to drive to Brough to see if it was open today.

Brough wasn’t nearly as big as Kirkby Stephen. It seemed to comprise of two streets at right angles to each other and a whole host of scarecrows. Lots of the houses had these, sometimes creepy, statues outside. We didn’t stop, but we did find a sign pointing to Brough Castle which we’d visited many years ago. When we stopped there on the way home from a visit down south we had lunch at the tea shop there and today we were happy to see it was still there. There were loads of scarecrows in the surrounding streets too, but not as creepy as the ones in Brough. After coffee and a warm, but not hot, panini each we went for a walk round the castle. The views from it were excellent and all under a blue sky with bubbly clouds too. I took lots of photos and so did Scamp. We walked round the village next and took in the Scarecrow Festival, because that’s what it was.

PoD was a view of Brough Castle with a few sheep and a horse to fill up that empty green space.

Jamie and Simonne were cooking tonight. Beetroot falafels with a green salad – we must try that.

Watched the strange new qualifying for F1 tonight understood it a bit more than last time.  Then we watched a few episodes of Spitting Image which was repeats on Britbox and therefore slightly out of sync with life in 2021, but still funny.

Tomorrow we may go for a longer walk along the viaduct path.

 

A dull day – 9 September 2021

Heavy rain through the night and more during the day. The whole of Scotland looked as if it was under the blanket and didn’t want to come out.

We went out. We drove to The Cotton House for lunch and by that time most of the heavy rain had headed off in a northerly direction. What rain was falling was sporadic and didn’t worry the windscreen wipers. The car park was full when we arrived and we had to park away up the top in the wilderness area, but at least we were in a space. Scamp had booked a table last night and we were soon choosing from the menu. Unfortunately we were sitting immediately under the air con fan and I was getting its cold draught. When Scamp complained about it too, I knew it was time to go and get the hoodies from the car. I understand that in these Covid times a through draught of air is seen as a good thing, but this one was irritating and just a tad too cold.

The food was quick to come and just as good as it usually is. My eight quid hoody did the trick and kept the arctic winds at bay, but when we got home I started to feel shivery. The only think I can put it down to is that overenthusiastic air con. As the afternoon wore on I wasn’t feeling any better an eventually I took Scamp’s advice and went for a walk in St Mo’s, partly to get some photos and partly to just have a walk. A hot shower when I came home was great and two paracetamol started eating into the aches and pains. Typical this should happen today.

About seven pm I went upstairs for a snooze and when nurse Scamp woke me about half past eight I felt better for it. Only two decent photos from the afternoon which was a miracle in a way given the conditions, mine and the weather. PoD went to a partly post processed photo of a seed head of cow parsley, well, what else would it be.

Having a bit of a ding-dong battle with Flickr at present. Found out yesterday that some bloke has started an Inktober 2021 group which is legal. I don’t have absolute right to that name. What annoys me is that he bodily lifted the entire description and Admin’s Blast (The hook that attracts you to the group) from my site. I tried contacting Flickr admin but no answer from them yet. If that was print medium, it would be plagiarism. At best it’s bad practice. We’ll see how it pans out.

I’m finishing now with a wee hot toddy beside me and another couple of paracetamol in my system about an hour ago. Tomorrow is in the balance. Will we, won’t we?

 

Crossing the Forth – 8 September 2021

It was a lovely morning and we weren’t going to waste it.

We had a few places in mind for today. Culross (just look away and roll your eyes, Hazy), Dunfermline and Kincardine were three of them. We settled on Kincardine and drove over to Fife and parked in the free car park beside a ‘new’ Coop building. The parentheses are because I still don’t think it’s a new building. I’m pretty sure there was a residential home on that spot a few years ago, probably the last time we were there. If you looked closely you could see the outline of windows that had been bricked up, given a new coat of render then painted. Fancy wood facing to the building completed the transformation. A quick look on Google Street View when we got home confirmed the makeover. It was a nursing home that used to be on that site. You can’t kid us!

We walked down through the old part of Kincardine where all the houses seem to be dropped into place and then roads are added as an afterthought. We found or way down to the path that runs along the side of the Forth, noting on our way the big bramble bushes with a healthy number of fat berries. We’d collect some of them on our way back.

Walked along past the, now redundant, piers that originally carried in coal to the Kincardine power station, now razed to the ground. An electrical substation now occupies part of the site. Not the most scenic of views past on the right, but great views across the Forth to Airth on the south of the estuary. The Forth is tidal at this point and the tide was out this morning exposing the mudbanks on both sides.

We walked under the Clackmannanshire Bridge, an elegant structure with a really clumsy name. Some bright spark renamed it the Clacks Bridge which trips off the tongue much more easily than its sixteen letter official name. We sat for a while on a seat kindly provided by the council with a plaque to tell people how thoughtful they are. NLC, there’s things you could learn here. From the seat we could look over to some buildings that looked like a farm and a ruin that turned out to be Kennetpans Distillery, allegedly the first commercial distillery in the world.

We sat soaking up the sun for a while before we headed back the same way to the car, stopping on the way to make good our promise to pick some of those black brambles. Unfortunately we didn’t have any poly bags with us, so Scamp used one of her shopping bags which got squashed later in the boot of the car, spreading bramble juice over everything. Back at the car we were heading for that terrible place that Hazy hates, may its name never be spoken in her presence. It was mobbed. We trundled through it with two cyclists who insisted on travelling so slowly they were in danger of losing their balance (it’s the gyroscopic effect of the spinning wheels that allows bikes to stay upright). Eventually we found a parking place off the road with a vacant picnic table where we could have coffee and crisps (and a chocolate biscuit) and christen our new flask. Then it was time to drive home.

I had intended going out on Dewdrop to get more brambles but the warm weather and the chance of a midweek beer put paid to that idea. Instead I finished a pastel painting I’ve been struggling with and then joined Scamp in the garden.

Dinner tonight was Neil’s Pulled Roast Chicken with Rice. Very summery and a fitting end to a good day out. Such a pity the good weather is forecast to end tomorrow, but we enjoyed it while it lasted.

PoD went to a picture of the Clacks Bridge taken from below to make the most of its curves.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch.

Rain at last! – 6 September 2021

It rained all day.

This was the day we’d planned to go somewhere scenic where I’d get a chance to shoot some landscapes, instead of macros around St Mo’s. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with macros and St Mo’s has been a life saver for us these last two years, but I just wanted to get out and take some photos in a wider landscape. However, it would have to be another day.

It was a dismal drizzle that was the main feature of the weather today. All the spiderwebs in the bushes across from the house were holding more than their fair share of moisture and, while very photogenic, I knew I’d be soaked to the skin if I even tried to get near them. I’ve done it before and I wasn’t going to be tricked into it again.

What I did notice when I was making my morning coffee was the little blue tit sitting on my pea frame. I stood there for a while watching it feeding on something invisible to me. I guess it was finding insects and maybe spiders in the nooks and crannies of the frame. When I’d finished my coffee and returned to the kitchen there were two blue tits this time on the pea frame. Both busy acrobatically feeding on the canes and wooden slats that make up the frame. This time I grabbed my camera and took a few shots through the window. I knew that although they seemed totally engrossed in their search, as soon as I put the key in to unlock the door they’d fly off, so I just had to be satisfied with a few shots through the window (thankfully recently cleaned). At least that would be two or three shots in the bag for today.

We drove up to the town centre as the drizzle turned to real rain. Scamp was going to Tesco and I was going looking for a decent pair of trainers in JB Sports. Not surprisingly, I didn’t find any. It would be a miracle if I was to find a Pair, far less a pair that I’d spend money on. Most of the boxes were empty or only had one shoe in them. It must be a shoplifter’s paradise. I came away empty handed, but still wearing my battered and torn Merrell Moabs. Comfortable now, but leaky as a sieve. Scamp was waiting for me in the car and we drove home through the drizzle to Bubble & Squeak and an egg for lunch.

I browsed the internet looking for trainers that I’d actually pay money for, but found little. Eventually gave up and when Jackie phoned Scamp I went upstairs to get a painting out of my head and on to paper. It was a pastel painting I was attempting. It’s part finished, but I don’t see it getting much further than tomorrow before it heads for the bin. Checked out the blue tit photos from the morning and they really weren’t all that bad. One of them made PoD. A little blue tit sitting on the cane at the top of the pea frame, looking as if it’s singing its wee heart out. It entitled “Singing in the Rain”.

Dinner tonight we shared a Giovanni Rana meal for one of Gnocchi with a Tomato, and Basil Sauce as a starter. Main course was another Giovanna Rana, this time Mushroom Tortellini. Giovanni is a clever man. The gnocchi starter was nuked for four and a half minutes and the tortellini was boiled for two minutes. That’s fast food, but not fast-food if you understand me. That hyphen does a fair bit of damage!

A gentle practise of the Foxtrot, Waltz and Saunter Together tonight worked well. No great mistakes by either party.

I think the rain may have stopped now and we’re hoping we might get out somewhere scenic tomorrow.

Some days are busy, busy, others … – 3 September 2021

Others are more like today.

Nowhere to go and nothing to do. Milky white sky and nothing to entice a photog to go out and capture the world in all its majesty. The furthest we got was a walk to the shops for milk and bread, literally. We bought milk and bread … and a packet of Jammy Joes, just for fun. I didn’t even take the camera with me because I didn’t think I’d need it. I was right.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk in St Mo’s and got today’s PoD of a little fly stuck in a spider web with another fly overseeing the prisoner. A bit sinister in black and white, but it suited the subject and the day I thought.

Even later in the afternoon I walked over to Condorrat to buy dinner: One special fish supper for me and a small fish supper for Scamp. It’s been ages since I’ve had a deep fried slice of fish done in breadcrumbs. Quite, quite delicious. A Friday treat if there is one.

On the way home I got another treat. I got to see a Friday tradition. A bloke with a burst lip got chucked out of Broden’s Bar which used to be The Masonic Bar in Condorrat. He was absolutely “rat arsed” and was shouting for somebody in the bar to come out and give him a square go. Swearing and performing a modern dance as he tried, with one arm in his jacket sleeve, to find a way of getting the other arm into the other sleeve. It’s nice to see that the old traditions aren’t dying out.

Oh, yes. One strange thing happened. I got the renewal notice for my car insurance in the post and it was LESS than I paid last year. I’ve checked it at least twice and Scamp has confirmed that it’s true. I’ll say this one more time IT’S LESS THAN LAST YEAR’S. Mind you, I’d done just over 5000 miles when the car went in for service at the start of the week!

The Spitfire flew over Westfield tonight and then disappeared into the setting sun. That’s the sun that appeared from behind the clouds about 6pm, just in time to set. I think it was having the day off.

Tomorrow we’re hoping the teachers will be able to explain where we’ve missed a step in the waltz, because we can’t find where it’s gone. It might be under the couch, I may go and look for it after I’ve posted this short blog.

Coffee and Tea – 2 September 2021

Not one, but two chances to dine out today.

Met Val at 11am for coffee and a chat, mainly about tech as usual. Any kind of tech was fair game. Val was raving about a new type of vinyl record which is heavier and less flexible than old vinyl, meaning the needle doesn’t have the same tendency to slip. I was raving about the new (to me) Sony A6000 whose sensor, although smaller than the mighty Sony A7M2 held just as much information. We both ooh’d and aah’d at each other tech, but neither of us were really interested in the other’s wonders, we were so entranced by our own.

Just after 12.30 we parted company, Val to meet his wife to go shopping and me to drive down to the village for lunch with June, Ian, Isobel and Scamp. We hoped that Shona would be able to join us, but she didn’t make it. The other four had ordered before I arrived, but had kept a place for me at the table. Lots for everyone to talk about and we cross-talked a lot. The problems of getting to a Skye wedding hopefully next year. The glory of new windows (not Microsoft, glass ones). How to tell when you’re too old to drive. Plus lots more. Food was passable although my panini with bacon, brie and cranberry was just a bit over stuffed and Scamp’s baked potato had been out of the oven too long and was also a bit tasteless. Foodies can always fault food.

After everyone was almost talked out and the tea had been drunk and the potatoes had been eaten we split up. Scamp was going home June & Ian were going to sort out June’s medicine and I was taking Isobel up to Tesco. While she and I was there I got carrots to make Carrot and Lentil Curry. Took Isobel back home and changed my mind about the curry, so went to M&S to get the ingredients for a stir fry. Instead of the usual sticky sauce, I took a packet of Chicken Ramen Broth to try as an alternative. It worked well, except I didn’t notice that the veg had green beans in it, one of Scamp’s “ I DON’T LIKE IT!” vegetables. I allowed her to leave them in a separate bowl. We both agreed it was a pleasant change from the sticky sweet sauce we usually have, although not as good as Scamp’s stir fry.

When I eventually got home the sun had appeared and I changed into my shots and tee shirt and went seeking Beasties. I found loads, but PoD went to a little Shield Bug.

No dancing practise tonight, but hopefully we’ll have one tomorrow. Nothing else planned as yet. Weather is beginning to head towards rain at the weekend, so maybe we should make the most of these last few warm days.

Out early again – 30 August 2021

It’s becoming a habit, this up and out early.

The reason for today’s early rise was to take the Blue Micra to Stirling for its first service. I’ve not been too impressed with their service in the past, but was willing to give them another chance, better the devil you know … We were there early and sat for five minutes or so before we went in to hand over the keys. Once we’d signed the car over to their safe keeping we were told it would be ready “mid afternoon”. Hmm, obviously they hadn’t read the email they sent us telling us it would be ready by 12.30pm which is hardly mid afternoon. To give the young service assistant his due, he consulted with one of the more senior assistants and came back to say they could indeed have the car ready for 12.30pm. I handed over the keys and we left to find a bus to take us to Stirling itself, the dealership being on the outskirts of the city of Stirling.

Basically, we’d missed the bus and there wasn’t another one for 30 minutes. Mr Google said it would take us 20 minutes to walk into the city centre. This is beginning to sound a bit silly. Stirling is legally a City, but in reality it’s a big town with ideas above its station. From now on in today’s blog, it’s a town, with a town centre. Right? Good, let’s get on.

Mr Google was right on the money. Twenty minutes later we were walking into the town centre. We were going to got to Nero for a morning coffee, except the shop was experiencing a bit of a coffee rush and was queued out the door, so we went to a wee independent we’d been to before. It sold decent coffee and probably had cakes too.

While Scamp secured us a seat, I ordered two coffees and the slice of cake that Scamp had pointed to and watched the bloke at the counter note them down on his pad using a kind of shorthand. However when I chose an Eiffel Tower (two layers of sponge with cream in the middle and the whole thing covered with strawberry jelly and desiccated coconut) I noticed he spelled Eiffel with an “A” maybe it wasn’t an A at all, maybe it was a little drawing of an Eiffel Tower. Whatever, the coffee was weak, but the ET was excellent and he’d given me something to think about that would stay with me all day!

We walked round the Thistle Centre which used to be a thriving arcade with no empty shop fronts. Now there seemed to me more boarded up ex-shops than those open for business. It’s a terrible sight that’s becoming more and more common these days.

The garage phoned at about 11.30 to say that the car was ready to collect. We walked back the same way we’d come and picked up the keys, collected the paperwork and paid for an hour’s work, and drove home.

After lunch Scamp cleaned the downstairs toilet and I did the upstairs bathroom. With that done I felt I’d contributed something and went for a walk while she did the ironing. I’m not good at ironing. I put more creases in than I take out. I walked down and round the boardwalk at Broadwood for a change. I saw two ladies seemingly feeding the ducks from the boardwalk and commented on it, but was told they were feeding the fish. Sure enough the little fish were gathering to feed on the fish food they were throwing down to them. Now that’s something I’ve never seen in Cumbersheugh before. I walked round the loch a bit and included them in a photo of the loch.

No plans for tomorrow. It will be a surprise!

 

Recovery – 29 August 2021

The day after the dance was over.

I thought I’d be aching a lot more than I was today. However, an extra half hour in bed and a relaxing day wouldn’t do any harm at all. With that in mind, the most strenuous thing I did in the morning was finish Friday’s sudoku. It’s strange that you can study these fascinating puzzles for hours on end without adding one number to the grid, then pick it up the next day and see all the clues you missed. It’s almost as if some good fairy comes in overnight and writes a few extra clues for you.

After lunch we had a wander round the garden, pruning this and dead heading that. We also discussed what was going to be moved and where it was going to as well as what was going to fill its space. It’s all sorted in Scamp’s head. She was just telling me about it. Sometimes, that’s what ‘discussion’ is.

I took the Big Dog and the Big Lens out for a walk in St Mo’s where I found two dragonflies, one male and one female who were perfectly happy to sit and be photographed. It was the male that made PoD, or more precisely, the head and thorax of the male dragonfly that made PoD. Interesting too was the shield bug carrying aloft a caterpillar like a trophy. Both are available on Flickr along with the delightful Troika rose.

Dinner had a bit of a cobbled together theme with half of yesterday’s Chicken Tikka Masala added to half a Vegetable Masala plus some cauliflower and served with rice. Actually it tasted really good, as did the Eve’s Pudding that was the dessert.

Spoke to Jamie later and heard about the trials of house buying. Once you’re past the initial excitement it’s all to do with money for this and more money for that. I don’t envy him this part of the game. Being Jamie, he played down his baking skills after making a Chocolate Swiss Roll.

We settled down to watch what turned out to be the shortest F1 GP in history. With only three laps completed under a safety car, in the torrential rain, Max Verstappen was declared the winner. I really felt bad for the fans who had paid to watch some racing and got to watch the rain falling.

Out fairly early again tomorrow to take the Blue car for its first service in Stirling. We may get the bus in to Stirling itself and go for a coffee.

Dancing and cakes and more dancing – 28 August 2021

The dancing on a Saturday is obvious, the cakes, maybe not so, nor the more dancing. Hopefully this will help

We drove through the usual Saturday morning traffic to the dance class in Bridge of Weir and on the way in, picked up a loaf and a chocolate muffin. These, and many other offerings are given away free every week. It’s still not clear, yet who provides them, but they are all nearing the end of their Best Before date and are free to a good home. Last week it was a cheese loaf – which tasted better than it sounds – and doughnuts. It’s a little sweetener (no pun intended) for the rigours of the dance class.

Today we started the class with a Saunter Together. At one time this was my most despised dance, now it’s just another sequence dance. Next up was Foxtrot which we thought we’d put to bed last night, but the teachers found various defects in the routine that we’ll try to remember how to fix in the coming days, all being well. Next, just to give our head a chance to assimilate that information, was the Bossa Nova danced to Iko Iko, a song we’ve been trying to remember since the last time we danced to it a fortnight ago. Then I was time for the Waltz and we are rank beginners at this. We only know the simplest form of Stewart and Jane’s version and even then we were making mistakes. The expression “Every day is a school day” was never truer then today! Finally we danced the Valentino Jive which we learned on a cruise ship in a different world, where masks were for Halloween and a vaccination was something you got when you were going on holiday to a far away country. That was a tough morning’s work, for us and probably for the teachers too.

Back home and with our heads clearing a bit after information overload, we had lunch. After that, I went for a walk in St Mo’s, in the sunshine while Scamp tidied up the kitchen and listened to some music. There was very little life about, certainly no animal life and very little insect activity … or so it seemed at first. Macro is such a strange land. I though I was taking a photo of a dandelion parachute which ended up out of focus or blurred because of the breeze but in the corner and reasonably sharp was a battle between a spider and what looked like a tick. I hope the spider won. PoD, however went to wild raspberry fruit. Just the one and a nicely translucent too.

After dinner, which was an instant curry from M&S, simply because we didn’t have very much time to cook today, we got ready to go to a 50th birthday party. We were surprised when Jacqui invited us to her birthday party in The Savings Bank in Glasgow. We’d planned it all out yesterday. Drive in to Concert Square car park, walk down to Buchanan Street subway and get a train to Bridge Street then walk to the venue. For once it worked like clockwork. The place wasn’t too busy when we got there and we snaffled two seats beside Jim Brown. In the time we were there we met loads of folk who used to go to Salsa. Sat and talked to a few of them and even got to dance … SALSA!! First time in ages we’ve danced salsa on a dance floor. Not a living room floor! I did manage to spill half a glass of non-alcoholic beer over Scamp’s lovely dress. I’m not sure I’ll be able to live that down, but apart from that we had a great time and left just after 10.30pm, in time to miss the subway train and had to wait the interminable 10 Minutes until the next one.  Even got a parking place back home.  Some special wee God was looking after us tonight.  Thank you.

Tomorrow we have no plans, except to have a long hot shower to ease those long forgotten muscles we’ve used tonight!