Another day of dropping drops into eyes – 19 February 2022

Or rather, eye, singular. The hard work probably starts next week when, hopefully there will be two to do!

Scamp wanted out today. She was fed up with hanging around the house and decided she’d risk a walk to take her new eye on a stroll around ‘The Policies’. We had a short jaunt around the torture machines then back up the hill and home. I think she enjoyed being out looking like a film star trying to look incognito with her dark sunglasses. They were necessary today. The optician at the hospital had recommended she wear them even if the sun wasn’t all that bright and it was really sparkly bright today, shining out of a blue sky and, because there was no wind, it wasn’t too cold either.

Back home and just before lunch, the second lot of drops went in. I remember having to put them in myself. Just getting excited about the clarity of what I was seeing, then having to put up with this milky white liquid blurring everything. It was only for a few minutes, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t annoying.

After lunch I left Scamp to watch one of her Netflix movies and went out for a walk with the A6000. I’d taken the A7 in the morning walk, but didn’t take very many photos. The A6000 actually works really well with both the 50mm macro and the 28-70mm kit lens. Also, it’s about half the weight of the A7. I got a few photos, but my favourite, and PoD, was probably the fungus growing on an old dead tree. I say probably, because I’m thinking that one of the photos in the forest would look good too with a bit of work.

Dinner tonight was Fish ’n’ Chips from the Chippy in Condorrat. It was meant to be a Golden Bowl tonight, but they are closed for a fortnight for Chinese New Year and don’t open until Tuesday. Bummer. But the fish and chips were lovely. Two haddock fillets done in breadcrumbs. A ‘Special Fish’ in Scotland. It tastes great the first time, not so much the second and third time. After dinner, more drops. Then we watched To Catch A Thief. An ancient (1955) sort of whodunnit. The car chases were hilarious. Worth watching for that alone.

Today’s prompt was I Love Paris. I based the Sacré-Cœur sketch on a photo I’d taken in Paris in October 2003. I doubt if it will have changed much in the intervening 18 years or so. The line of trees will probably have grown a bit and there might be a few more tourists around it, but the building itself won’t have changed. I remember being mightily impressed with the architecture in Paris, although this one looks like a fire sale in a turret factory. “Room for just one more little turret?” “Yes, I think we can squeeze one in.” Still a beautiful building. I deliberately omitted the sky to let the building have pride of place. Also, I deliberately left in the pencil construction lines.

Tomorrow looks like it might be wet for most of the day. I believe the rain is practising outside as I write this. We’ll see what we get!

Off the leash – 24 January 2022

Scamp was heading out for lunch with the rest of the Witches. I was given free run of the house.

After she was picked up by Jeanette I did think of driving out somewhere to get a few landscape photos, but the sky was that moody overall grey and without some directional light I’d be struggling to make a landscape look interesting, so I chose to wait for a while. I thought about starting a painting, but couldn’t decide what to paint. These dull days make it difficult to find an interest in anything. I did for one foolish moment toy with the idea of clearing up the back room, but one look at the enormity of the task was enough to disabuse me of that task. Instead, I had lunch. Beans on sourdough toast. Earlier I’d picked up Jamie’s transatlantic plane on Flightradar 24 and lunchtime gave me a chance to check his position. He was about halfway across the Atlantic as I was scraping the last of my beans from the plate.

I’d a letter to finish off and once I’d done that, it looked like the sky was brightening up with a bit of movement in the clouds, so I got my boots on and the camera sorted and went out for a walk in St Mo’s. The woods were looking bare. Bare trees, dried up grass and not a lot happening. I did try to grab a few shots of lichen and moss and also a few late season fungi, but nothing new. Nothing exciting or interesting. The most interesting was a leaf spread over a fallen log and worn almost transparent by the elements. That might look good reduced to monochrome. I walked further than I’ve gone for ages, across the boggy grassland almost beside the slip road from the motorway, but the landscapes were all the same. I’d taken them all in the past. However, when I came out of the woods the sky was definitely clearing and Jamie was heading south towards the eastern edge of Canada at about 38,000ft.

Heading back towards home I got a decent shot along the length of the boardwalk with the 18mm lens sporting its washed and clean lens hood. Also I took two shots looking towards the breaking sky over the pond. Both were taken in portrait format, one to make the most of the sky and the other to show the silted up edge of the pond. I intended to join them together in Photoshop. That was it for the photography and it looked like Jamie was now even higher at 40,000ft and crossing the border into the US. I hoped he was actually on that plane and had managed to get up for that 4am taxi!

Scamp was home by the time I got back and we compared our day. It would seem that the Railway Inn is worth a visit some time judging by the praise it was getting from Scamp. It would be good to start going out to eat again, now that the restrictions are being relaxed. We might even get to go back to salsa with a bit of luck!

Scamp’s lunch was Macaroni with Chips. My dinner was Tagliatelle with a meat Ragu. More in the pan for tomorrow or to go in the freezer to be discovered some hungry day.

I watched as the Airbus turned on its dogleg to final and landed in a place I’ve never been and am never likely to see with my own eyes. I hope you get to read this Jamie and aren’t too bored with all the photography talk. Enjoy your visit to the Big Apple.

The PoD is the two part picture, assembled and manicured in Photoshop then finished off in Lightroom. The others I took today are on Flickr.

We have no plans yet for tomorrow. Sometimes that’s the best way.


A sprinkling of snow – 26 December 2021

Just a dusting, that’s all and even that turned to rain quite quickly.

It didn’t matter, we weren’t going anywhere today. Too cold. Too lazy. Too little chance of getting a parking space back home. Instead, I mixed the flour, salt, yeast, butter and water and kneaded the mixture for over 10 minutes then set it to prove in a bowl covered with clingfilm, then went back to the Sudoku I hadn’t finished yesterday. Gave up on that and it was time for lunch.

It was Sunday and lunch on a Sunday always centres around eggs, mushrooms, bacon, tomatoes, black pudding and sausage in various combinations and quantities. All that to be eaten while watching and listening to Andrew Marr mauling one of a long list of politicians. Unfortunately last week was his last show, so today we ate in silence. I’ll bet a few of those mauled politicians would be licking their previous wounds and breathing a sigh of relief.

The weather wasn’t getting any better. Still cold, still wet, but that hasn’t stopped me before and it didn’t stop me today. Big jacket on, boots, hat and gloves on and I lugged my trusty A7ii over to St Mo’s to find something interesting to photograph. My chosen target would have been a deer. I actually saw one quite close up today, certainly within the range of the 55-210mm lens I’d left on the table back home. It didn’t stay in my sights for long and was soon laughing its way across the rough grass and into the trees.

I did get a PoD which was the jaggy spikes of a whin bush, one with a watery drip at the end of the jaggy bit. It was almost beaten by a slimy looking mushroom/toadstool with an interesting pattern on its stem. I’m pretty sure I also got a photo of a chanterelle, but can’t be certain. When I got back I checked the bread dough and it was looking ready for its final shaping and proving which is best done in a sort of cane basket that creates a spiral pattern on the finished loaf and also forms the finished loaf into a sort of beehive shape, like you see in Pooh Bear books.

While I was uploading my pictures to the Mac, Scamp declared it Gin O’Clock and I agreed with all but the gin. Instead, I had a Rum ’n’ Coke, Dark Matter rum. That put a heat in me.

Back to the still unfinished Sudoku and gave in. Loaded it into an app in my phone and finished it with technological help. Done! Thankfully one of my prezzies from Scamp was a new 365 day Sudoku calendar. It’s not been opened yet. Almost a week to wait.

The bread turned out a bit flatter than I’d have liked although it tasted ok.  Too much butter in the mix, I think. Must try harder.

Dinner tonight was yesterday’s chicken bits with potatoes and brussel sprouts.

After dinner drinks were the usual latte laced with Kahlua for Scamp and a Barraquito with layers of Condensed Milk, Licor 43, Espresso and Frothy Milk for me.  The only place we’ve seen it is in Tenerife.  Mine was definitely high octane!

We’ve not seen the weather for tomorrow, but a quick glance at the weather app on my phone would seem to rule out the possibility of going far.

Magpies and mushrooms – 13 December 2021

Photography started really early today.

While I was making breakfast today I watched a magpie struggling to peck some fat from the bird feeder in the garden. It was sitting on a low branch, too low for it to reach the bird feeder, but it didn’t have the sparrow’s and blue tit’s ability to hover and feed. They aren’t quite as elegant as humming birds, but they do get the job done. Poor magpie eventually gave up, but not before I’d taken a few shots.

After breakfast we drove up to NEXT to get a parcel Scamp had ordered and was delivered to the shop. We were still waiting for the other parcel that should have been delivered to the house on Friday. It was a Christmas present for Nancy who we visited on Saturday. That’s why alternative arrangements and prezzies were required. Next we drove down to Tesco at Craigmarloch and got Scamp’s meds, plus some food necessities. Milk, veg, yoghurt, two bottles of rum and a bottle of wine, oh yes, and bread. Just the essentials!

Back home and after lunch I booked an engineer from Virgin to come on Thursday and see what can be done about the modem. Then it was time to go for a walk in the woods with a camera or two. My favourite from that trip was a close up shot of some deformed mushrooms. They almost look as if they had deflated, like a burst football. It was that image that made me think they might be ageing Puffball mushrooms. They became PoD and I’ve just had a message on Flickr confirming that they are indeed puffballs. It’s good to have experts on hand, even if they are virtual experts.

Not a lot else done today. It was quite dull with no texture in the sky until quite late in the afternoon, then the setting sun found some blue sky and proceeded to change its colour to a lovely shade of violet. Dark at the top and lighter lower down. It was such a pity there was nothing to give a focal point of interest, although I did of course photograph the sky anyway. Not long after I arrived back home the missing parcel arrived. Allegedly it should have been here by 1pm. It finally came around 4pm, but at least it did come!

Tomorrow we have an appointment with a consultant to hear what he has to say about Scamp’s eyes. Hopefully he will be able to give us a more realistic time frame for the procedure than the NHS.

Out in the morning again – 7 December 2021

The weather didn’t look too clever, but then, neither am I. So I went out.

It was really dull this morning. In fact it turned out to be really dull all day. I took two cameras, but ended up only really using the small A6000. As insurance I took my Gorilla pod and was glad I did. I found a patch of Stag Horn fungus on a well rotted log. Light was really low already and it was only 11am. Since there was no wind to move the fungus, I could use the Gorilla pod on the ground to hold the camera and take the shot at a very low shutter speed but an equally low ISO. That gave me a sharp smooth photo in very low light. Suffice to say that I only took one shot and was satisfied that I had a potential PoD.

With one in the bag, I went for a walk in the woods and to my surprise I found a ladybird hibernating deep in a crevice in a tree. It was a 14 spot Orange Ladybird (Halyzia sedecimguttata). I’ve seen them before in the woods, in fact for the last two years I’ve seen them hibernating from November through to March. I had to get a photo, but the 50mm lens was a wee bit short for the task and I couldn’t use my Gorilla pod on the tree to steady the camera. I eventually got a reasonable image after hiking up the ISO to noisy levels.

By this time the rain was starting, so I put the hood up on my Bergy and walked home. As I was getting near to the house, the rain changed to sleet and the temperature was dropping. I was just taking my jacket off in the house when I looked out the window and it was snowing. Big fat flakes of the white stuff. We weren’t due any snow until nearly midnight, this isn’t what we signed up to. Never mind, it was tomato soup for lunch and it tasted good. Felt warm again. I think it’s the colour of the soup as much as the taste that makes you feel warm. Whatever it is, it worked.

After lunch I drove Scamp to the dentist through the sleet that had come after the snow, and then drove to Tesco to get some messages. I was just at the checkout when I got the phone call to say she was ready to come home. This was a lot earlier than we’d anticipated, but there was a reason for that. She hadn’t got her tooth fixed. The dentist had examined it and told her she’d need to come back to have the work done. The appointment is for the 25th of February 2022! That’s three months in the future!! Of course, Covid was blamed for the delay. They are short staffed just now and they need to wipe down all the surfaces after a consultation, etc, etc. She still had to pay for the ‘consultation’ though. Really it’s getting ridiculous now. Three months wait to get a tooth fixed. Maybe we need a different dentist.

I drove back and picked up Scamp who was just disappointed, but resigned to her wait. I looked at my photos from the morning with the occasional glance outside, but the sleet had stopped and the sky was actually lightening, but it didn’t last. The sun was low on the horizon now and night was closing in.

Dinner tonight was a Scamp speciality, Chicken, Mushrooms and Rice. It was ages since we’d had it and it tasted great. Posted my photos early, which was lucky, because Flickr is down now. And the fungus did get PoD.

Ordered myself a new-to-me lens mainly for the A6000 it’s a Sony 55-210mm zoom. Not best quality, but it’s got built in anti-shake and I can afford it. Coming on Friday hopefully.

Jamie phoned tonight to say that his interview in Doncaster had gone quite well and he was satisfies with his performance. Now he has to wait until January. It seems that everyone has to wait for something these days.

No plans for tomorrow. Threats of heavy snow overnight have been removed, but will the snow know that? We’ll have to wait for that too!

Out for a walk – 5 December 2021

Scamp wanted to go out for a walk today. I agreed.

We went for a walk around the exercise machines. As we were going out there was a Santa changing out of his suit at the corner. It turned out he wasn’t the real Santa, but was Angela, our next-door neighbour’s father changing back into his normal clothes after giving out the medals at the annual Santa Race which is run at Broadwood Stadium every year. A bit disappointing to miss the race this year because we’ve been to the last few.

I bowed to Scamp’s decision about where we should go for our walk round the exercise machines and although it was cold and a bit slippery in places we had a non-eventful walk. We stopped at M&S for some tangerines for Scamp and a bottle of full cream milk for me to make Panna cotta for tonight’s pudding. Mackerel for lunch for me and the usual black pudding and egg for Scamp.

After lunch I went for my second walk of the day, this time in St Mo’s, and a macro shot of a mushroom got PoD. Not the most magnificent shot of the week, but the best one of the day.

Dinner tonight was a yesterday’s soup for starter, followed by rough ribeye steak for me and a trout fillet for Scamp. Both served with potatoes and cabbage. Panna cotta for pudding. More panna cotta for tomorrow.

Spoke to Jamie later  and heard all about the trials and tribulations of moving house.  We’ve had them ourselves, a few times, but in a different century and a different world.

Watching the most ridiculous F1 GP where Hamilton is being helped by the stewards to bring it to a tie going into the final race. This isn’t racing, this is politics.

No plans for tomorrow.

Frosty – 22 November 2021

Our first sub-zero morning this winter. Yes, winter, because it feels like autumn has silently slid into that colder season.

The temperature this morning was -0.4ºc. There were no birds bathing this morning because the birdbath was frozen over. When I went out to break the ice I had to use a half brick to get through the top layer of ice. Still there were no takers for a quick splash. Can’t say I blame them.

It might be cold, but it was bright. Really too bright to take photos. I’d intended making some bread, but instead I made one last backup of Mojave on the iMac and then plunged headlong into installing Catalina. I’d rather have stayed with Mojave, but fewer and fewer apps would now run on that older version of the Mac OS. The consolation is that both the MBP and the iMac will now be running the same OS and should play nice with each other. They should, but like two siblings separated by a few years, I’m sure they will fight and throw the occasional hissy fit. The update didn’t take all that long and most things worked as before. My real regret was the loss of Excel. My version runs in 32bit mode and Catalina only supports 64bit, so I am now stuck with the vastly inferior Apple Numbers.

After lunch and when I was getting itchy feet, I took the Sony for a walk in St Mo’s. There wasn’t much to see although I did spook a deer in the woods. I got a photo of what looked like a family group of fungi all cambering over each other to get their foties took. That’s available for perusal on Flickr, but PoD went to a yellow leaf tangled in a tree. I used an updated version of Lightroom to pull it out of the gloaming gloom. Lightroom is becoming more and more sophisticated with each update. More and more useful too.

I think the highest temperature we reached today was about 5ºc. Not great, but above zero at least. We spoke to Jamie in the evening and found that even down south it had been cold today. House preparation seems to be going ahead apace. The electrician has been and said that the wiring is up to scratch but the sockets need to be replaced. Vixen has approved the house in general, but isn’t sure about those stairs.The carpets have been bought a will be laid soon. The removals company has been booked too. Lots of stuff is being sorted as you’d expect with two new, young house owners!

Tomorrow we may go out for a short walk if Scamp is fit enough and I have to pick someone’s brains about cataract surgery outside the NHS. Other than that, no plans.


Glasses – 19 November 2021

Driving in Larky on a Friday. Not a task for the faint hearted.

I’ve often thought that the best place in the world to have a driving test area would be Larky. If you can drive there, you can drive anywhere.

At lunchtime today we got the phone call to say that the glasses had been found and were ready to pick up. I was expecting a delivery from Amazon and with their usual helpfulness they gave us a window of about eleven hours. Somewhere between 11am and 10pm. Why bother? With that in mind, Scamp volunteered to wait in for the parcels while I drove to Larky to pick up the glasses. I decided to park at the Co-op because I had a parcel to post and the Co-op houses a the post office for Larky. There were cars abandoned everywhere and although there is a sort of one way system in the car park, nobody paid any heed to it. Lorries, delivery vans and a multitude of little old ladies with steely eyes were determined to either get into their parking space or out onto the road again and they were giving no quarter, but expecting everyone to get out of their way.

There was a queue of ten people all waiting with their parcels and only one person serving. I gave up and went to pick up the glasses. Got them and as I was leaving I asked the assistant where I could post a letter. She told me the sorting office was across the road and I could drop it in there if it was open. It appeared that the sorting office had different opening hours for every day of the week, but luckily it would be open for another half hour. That gave me enough time to go back to the car and collect my parcel and get rid of it too. It was while I was walking back I noticed that nearly everyone seems to park on the wrong side of the road in Larky, some even double park on the wrong side. That’s considered normal in the town. I even saw someone trying to reverse park into a space on the wrong side of the road. Truly, Larky on a Friday afternoon is in a different world.

I drove home and handed over the glasses in their case. Scamp was delighted, they fitted, were comfortable and most importantly she could see with them. Not perfectly, some things like door frames are still a bit rounded, but much, much better than the glasses she had been suffering with for the last few days. That was a relief.

I’d taken my own advice today and gone out early to get a photo. I got more than one, but not a lot more. That meant I didn’t need to go looking for pictures on a dull afternoon. I did need to get tonight’s dinner, so I got ready to walk to the shops and just at that moment the Amazon man came to the door. I got the parcels after I’d read out my six digit code, Amazon’s new security system that might last as long as a week. The bloke seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when I read out he number. I imagine he’d seen a few blank faces this week already.

I left the opening of the parcels until I came back from the shops. The external SSD I bought is tiny and has a capacity of 1TB. Really fast too. It’s been play tested tonight.

PoD today was a little mushroom with a tiny beetle sheltering inside.

I’m hoping for a bit brighter day tomorrow. We really deserve some sunshine.

Coffee with Val – 17 November 2021

Out with Val to hear his news and pick his brains.

First time for ages I’ve met Val for a coffee and a chat. Drinking Costa’s version of coffee and trying not to compare it with real coffee. We spent a good hour and a half comparing each other’s technology and being amazed at the advances in computing that has become par for the course these days. He showed me a photo of his latest microcomputer the size of a postage stamp and I discussed with him the challenges of upgrading an iMac with more memory and a 1TB SSD.  Did manage to get Val to give me his opinion on the SSD as a replacement for the HDD in the iMac.  That previous sentence wouldn’t have meant a thing to most people, because, like almost everything we said today, it was in the form of numbers or letters with only a smattering of words to leaven it. So you see, Jamie, you are not alone in being a technophobe.

Back home for lunch and then later in the afternoon I went for a walk in the woods of St Mo’s looking for Stag’s Horn fungi. Managed to find one I’d been unsuccessful in photographing on Monday. Today’s shot was better, but still not great. PoD is a Sycamore seed with a wing that looks almost like windsurfer sail. The seed is caught in the the fork of a tree, maybe a sycamore itself!

Dinner was disappointing disappointing ravioli from Waitrose. Quite tasteless. It didn’t help that dinner was interrupted when the kitchen tap started running and wouldn’t stop. After struggling with it for about fifteen minutes, it stopped by itself. I still don’t know what caused it or what made it stop. Maybe it just felt it wanted a bit more attention than I was giving it.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to pick up Scamp’s new glasses which should be ready in the afternoon. If they’re not ready, Scamp will be reading the riot act!

Down the Canal – 11 October 2021

Out fairly early since there was a fair amount of blue sky.

By the time we were actually on the road most of that blue was replaced by grey and an ominous amount of clouds rolling over from the Campsie Fells, but we got parked easily at the Hebo House and walked along the side of the Forth & Clyde canal in the general direction of Twechar. We met hardly anyone along the path. A few cyclists and that was about it. After my lucky spotting of a kingfisher last week with Alex, I was hoping we’d get lucky and see one today, but there were no sightings of that blue flash. We did see one of Mr Grey’s family on the far bank, but he was almost invisible among the reeds.

As we were about to cross the road and head back on the path of the old mineral railway we saw a man with twa dugs. As well as the dugs, he was trailing a long lead and I mean LONG. I’d estimate it to be about nine or ten metres long. He crossed the road and I had visions of the lead getting tangled in a car going in the opposite direction and he with the dogs being dragged along behind it. Unfortunately that never happened. I’m guessing it was a running lead to let the dogs get some exercise, but he really should have been more careful.

We spotted loads of fungi on the way back along the path and I took the opportunity to photograph a few. We also saw a ’workie’ in full workie gear sitting near one of the barriers keeping pedestrians away from the Never-ending Story that is the upgrade of the paths along that stretch. For once there were no notices telling the public (ie, us) what was happening now to these excavations, tree felling, tree planting and general works that seem to have been going on for about three years with little sign of completion any time soon. However we did see one of the mythical workies today. Rarer that a kingfisher.

I got PoD along the path. A pretty little pink flower of the genus Impatiens glandulifera or Himalayan Balsam. It’s a large annual plant native to the Himalayas but is now present across much of the the UK and is considered an invasive species in many areas. I don’t think it does nearly as much harm as the workies and their upgrades. Right, I think I’ve said enough on that subject.

We did manage to complete the walk without getting wet. In fact as soon as we closed the car doors, the first raindrops appeared on the windscreen. Drove home, had lunch and Scamp went out to work in the garden, repotting some flowers and planting new bulbs for next year. Meanwhile I cooked some steak and kidney, some of which will hopefully be my dinner tomorrow. The rest will go in the freezer to be a welcome dinner in the future.

Today’s sketch was to be Sour. I sketched a lemon from the fridge and faked a slice of lemon behind it. Splashed some watercolour on it and that will be another day completed in Inktober. Not the finest painting or sketch I’ve done, but it’s been posted. Inktober is not nearly as full of participants or sketches as it was last year, but then Flickr is much the same.

That was about all we did today. No plans for tomorrow. Weather looks like an improving picture.