Dreary, wet and Foxtrot – 23 May 2021

Another of those drizzly wet days.

There was little point in going far today. The forecast had been for rain in the morning and it appeared almost exactly on time. It gave me a chance to start today’s sketch which was A Treasure Chest. The sketch was done early, but the painting took a bit longer. Overall, I’m fairly happy with the result.

The rest of the morning was spent fixing all the little niggling bits and pieces that surround any big app. Moving bits of code and plugins that do all the heavy lifting in Lightroom and have to be slotted into their correct place by hand. I think most of it is done now. The actual program seems to run a lot faster than the old V6.14 I was using. It should do, this is Lightroom V10 I’m using now!

We did manage to get out for a walk in the late afternoon with only a light shower to dampen our waterproofs. Blustery wind and cold too. This doesn’t feel like May. I was watching an interview with a bird watcher the other day and he was saying that up until recently the seasons were predictable and stayed in their patterns. Now all that seems to have changed and the seasons appear to be more chaotic. He said it’s almost certainly down to Global Warming. He might be right.

Scamp made a lovely dinner tonight with grilled chicken that had been marinaded in ground cumin, ground coriander, chopped coriander and garlic. It was absolutely beautiful. Served with potatoes and roast veg.

PoD came from the walk to St Mo’s in the afternoon. It’s the unfurling crozier of a fern. I was impressed with the quality of it. Nothing to do with me, just a great camera and an excellent lens.

Dancing tonight centred around a Foxtrot. I think we did quite well with it, although Scamp reminded me that we’ve only been doing the easy part so far.

Spoke to JIC later and caught up with how things are down south. It seems that the weather we’ve been having has been pretty much universal. Rain and more rain.

Tomorrow we’re booked to meet Isobel for coffee at Costa.

Busy, Busy, Busy – 26 April 2021

Actually a fairly relaxing morning. Afternoon not so much.

In the morning I worked at the computer for a while. I wanted to see if I could handle the programming of the catalog for the new photo app. It looked remarkably easy in the tutorial, but, as with most ‘easy’ things, there were a few twists and turns on the way to success. However, after an hour or so’s work I think we have a more elastic, less restricting framework of a catalog. I still need to tweak some things and work out how to implement others. Let’s say it’s a work in progress and leave it there.

It was a dull day with the threat of rain. Actually the rain didn’t appear until late in the afternoon, but by then we were well into the biz. First to appear was the Tesco delivery and I must say we are getting into rhythm unpacking the crates and then distributing the contents to the various storage places around the house. Scamp wanted to clear out a cupboard next. It’s the one where we keep the extra duvets for visitors as well as the ones we use ourselves. Hard to believe that there are TOG 10 duvets in that cupboard. We usually restrict ourselves to a TOG 1 from late spring until early autumn, with a TOG 3 or 5 in the coldest winter weather. The heavier duvets were earmarked for the tip along with a bag of deflated pillows which were well past their use by date. In all three black bags full and a small bag of electrical odds and ends. I drove to the tip and dumped them.

Back home we were visited by the girl who encouraged us to stick a swab down our throat and up our nose. If we did it properly without choking or gagging too much we got to answer her questions which were carefully phrased so I didn’t have to admit to being in another house for 15mins. That was the visit to Val’s two weeks ago and she was only interesting in an hour long visit in the last seven days. I did tell the truth, but not the whole truth. With that done it was wander around for a while time before the next big visit.

The big visit was to Muirfield Centre near the Town Centre for my second anti-Covid vaccination. They really do have it very well organised now. No messing about. You go from one testing station to the next to a row of cubicles to ensure social distancing, then to the doctor or nurse who administers the jag. That when it went a bit wrong. I answered my name, DOB and postcode for the first time, elected to have my right shoulder punctured and then the doctor looked at the ampule bottle and said “Oh, this one’s a dud.” It was only part full, so he had to go and get another one. I was going to ask him if this was a common occurrence, but by that time it was all over and he was pulling up my shirt sleeve. All done.

You know that feeling you get in your jaw after you’ve been to the dentist and the anaesthetic is beginning to wear off. It’s a kind of dull not-an-ache feeling. I could feel that sensation just as I was driving out of the car park. Now the bloke who gave me my jag was wearing dentist’s scrubs and I don’t know if this was psychosomatic, but it was strange. Maybe something to do with the release of stress or something or maybe I’m just that kind of zoomer!

Back home, all done and dusted. Scamp had taken over the Monday dinner but kept it to pasta, the way it should be. It was Mac ’n’ Cheese. Lovely! Afterwards I did a quick walk round the garden for a suitable PoD and found the apple tree almost ready to flower after today’s rain. That would do nicely.

Tomorrow, Scamp is off walking with Veronica. I’m hoping to be experimenting more with Capture One or making fancy bread.

 

Another hot one on the way – 23 April 2021

Blue sky and sunshine at 8am. Looks like it’s going to be warm again.

It was warm. We drove down to have a wee natter with Isobel in the Village. Scamp had promised her an Astilbe plant. The plant simply wants to take over the entire garden, so it had to be cut back every few years. Strangely, Isobel didn’t have a piece of it in her garden, so good luck to her keeping it in its place. However, if anyone can do it Isobel can. We sat in her little sun trap at the side of her house and chatted away. Before we’d noticed, an hour had passed and it was time for us to go.

Back home, and after lunch, I made a pizza dough and left it to rise while we went for a walk in St Mo’s. One circuit of the pond was enough for Scamp today. She headed off to the shops after that and I went for another circuit. There wasn’t much to see today, but the hawthorn bushes were pushing out their flower buds, not opened yet, but it won’t be long. PoD went to some Cladonia. Sprouting up like upturned trumpets. There are alien landscapes all around us if we take the time to look and to wonder.

Walked down to meet Scamp and walked back up the road with her. Sat in the garden for a while and finished off my first book from Audible (What Abigail Did That Summer). It’s supposed to be a young adult book, but this old adult enjoyed it tremendously. It’s encouraged me to try another one. I think I’ve bought two, years ago, and never started them. I also have another one that was awful and it was probably that experience that put me off audiobooks.

The pizzas I made from the dough were among the best I’ve ever made. Light and fluffy base but not heavy in the middle. I don’t know how I did it, but the remains of the dough are in the fridge, so I just might make a pizza to share tomorrow. As well as finishing off the book in the garden, I also finished off two wee cans of beer (to keep Scamp company with her Pimms!) and then a glass of wine with my pizza. Later in the evening we both had a G ’n’ T. I’m beginning to feel the effects now and maybe it’s time to get to bed before my eyes close.

Hoping for another warm day tomorrow before the weather breaks and the rain comes on Sunday.

 

An improving picture – 6 February 2021

It was actually dry when we woke today.

We’ve had so much rain recently, it was quite a surprise to look out of a window without raindrops on it. Even when Scamp announced she was going to walk down to the shops to get tonight’s dinner, it was still dry. I wasn’t going. I was staying to work on tonight’s sketch which involved people, or at least a person and I really need the practise in people drawing. When she returned, she reported that there was a bit of rain in the wind, but nothing like the last few days.

After lunch I went for a walk round St Mo’s. ‘Round the Policies’ as Colin would say. Just checking out the usual photo spots to see if there was anything worthwhile. I did see a crocodile, actually a log lying low in the water with two branch stubs that looked like eyes. Well, it looked like that to me. I thought it might make PoD, but a bit of chimping dispelled that thought. No, PoD went to some green blobs. Fruiting bodies of moss. I can’t remember when I first saw the ‘Green Blobs’, but it was many years ago and they were growing on a low tree branch. They are the most remarkable things and only really visible when you look carefully and it helps to be looking through a macro lens. With a potential PoD and a crocodile, it was time to head home.

Dinner tonight turned out to be, not the chicken that Scamp had lugged up from the shops, but a veg curry made from a Spice Tailor kit. It tasted brilliant, really superb. Scamp made it, that’s why.

With that done and the PoD sorted, I started making more detailed preparatory drawings for “Dance”. Finally got one I liked and laid on a few washes. It started to come together and that’s what went on display around the world on Facebook tonight. I know it’s not perfect, but it gives the feeling of movement, I think. That’s what I was aiming for.

Well, it stayed dry almost all day today but it’s to be much colder tomorrow if the weather fairies are to be believed. We’ll wait and wonder.

A walk in the park – 19 July 2020

The park in question was Glasgow Green. Long time no see.

Today at Scamp’s suggestion, we went for a walk along Glasgow Green. Simply ages since we’ve been down there, but today we did. We walked along to the McLennan arch. I can never remember whether it’s McLellan or McLennan. It’s definitely McLennan because I’ve just checked on Google so you don’t have to. Anyway, before I lose the thread, we walked along to the McLennan arch and from there along beside the river to the suspension bridge where eager joggers were running along it making it bounce. Always a source of amusement as long as you weren’t trying to take a photo with a slow shutter speed. I wasn’t, so it was funny.

Back home it was lunch time, then Scamp was off into the garden, weeding and pruning and generally plant bothering. I was struggling with Friday’s Sudoku. Friday’s!? I must be slipping. Eventually I gave up and wandered down to the shops via the wildflower area behind St Mo’s. Not a lot of insect life there today. A few butterflies and a ladybird that was determined to avoid the big man with the glass tube on a box. Couldn’t blame the poor thing. Imagine if you were being pursued by a giant carrying a glass tube and constantly poking it near you. That’s the stuff of nightmares. Or is that just me?
Anyway, I got the stuff I needed for pasta with meatballs. I’d made the actual meatballs earlier, a mix of pork mince and bacon which actually worked well.

Back home it was time to start making the sauce which was a basic marinara sauce same as I’d made last week. After cooking away for 40 minutes or so it was reduced enough and the meatballs were cooked. It tasted ok, but really needed something more to make it sing. Maybe a few more herbs or some spice to brighten it up. Maybe next time. Scamp has salmon with potatoes and a spoonful of my sauce. She wasn’t impressed with her salmon either. Maybe it was just us. Maybe it was just a bad day.

Pudding was “a sort of Eton Mess”. It didn’t sound all that impressive, but it tasted brilliant. Scamp as usual talking down her culinary expertise. Simple and tasty too.

Big test next. Will Scamp like the Sunday Coffee? I needn’t have worried. It got a definite thumbs up. Especial mention for the creamy foamed milk. She even bragged about it when we talked to JIC later. Found out that he doesn’t have to cool the boiler in his upmarket coffee machine because it has two boilers. One for steam and one for coffee. That explains it. Mine does the job for me and produces great espressos and has the ability to make creamy foamed milk too. You just as Scamp and she’ll tell you.

Apart from the walk in The Green today there wasn’t a lot going on, although I got a PoD which was the second shot I took and achieved about 15,000 steps and eight active hours. Didn’t do a sketch, will cover that tomorrow, hopefully. We may go out.

Rained again last night – 21 May 2020

Woke up this morning to wet pavements and just the hint of rain in the air. Scamp was delighted. The garden needs the rain.

By the time we were up, Scamp got a text to say her prescription was ready to pick up from the chemist, so off she went to collect it. I stayed home and flew a plane from Glasgow to Prestwick and tried to remember how to land it using ILS (Instrument Landing System). All the different planes I’ve got in my virtual hanger use different autopilots and trying to keep track of them all is difficult to say the least. Pilots may get exorbitant wages, but they certainly work for their money. It wasn’t the glorious success I hoped it would be. I also messed around with some oranges trying to get a suitable setup for Lockdown Library No 39 today, again with very little success.

Scamp arrived home with another clinking bag, but I forgave her, because there was beer in it this time as well as a bottle or two of wine. She asked me to bring down the last bag, and could I please see if the car, which was up the top of the road, would fit into a space she wasn’t confident in driving in to. It would, and I did and in the boot as a thank-you there were two new folding garden chairs. We’ve only had one chair for ages and have been talking about getting another. She had managed to get two new ones for a knock down price. Delighted!

After lunch I walked down to the shops and came home with a lavender plant for Scamp, a bee hotel for, well, for bees – obviously! Also an assortment of sweets because … well, do I need an excuse? If I do, then it was because it was a beautiful sunny day and tomorrow is looking like it will not be beautiful or sunny. Lashing rain and strong winds forecast. I got changed into a pair of shorts a tee shirt and a shirt and went off in search of photos. I got today’s PoD which was a little tree growing up through the leaf litter in the woods of St Mo’s. Caught a fleeting glimpse of a deer, but too fast and too far away for me to catch.

Came home and enjoyed a beer in the garden, then we had dinner in the garden too. Scamp had Cauliflower Cheese with Jersey Royal Potatoes. I added some grilled bacon to mine. Very nice sitting on our new chairs in the sun having dinner. Very civilised.

When it got too cool we went inside. While I was drawing and painting today’s topic which was Fruits, we watched ‘Glow Up’ on iPlayer. If you haven’t watched it, it’s a must see. It must be one of the most cringeworthy programs on TV. It’s a well tried format:

  1. Take a team of “I Want To Be On A Show” people
  2. Give them three tasks an episode
  3. Dump the weakest
  4. Repeat.

The ‘contestants’ are wannabe make-up artists and each one is more outrageous than the last. The “Judges” equally so. It’s a hoot! I recommend it to you.

That was about it. The “Fruit” turned out to be chopped up pieces of orange and I was fairly happy with the result. Viewable on Instagram or FB.

Title of today’s blog is the first line of the Tom Paxton song “The Things I Notice Now”. What do you mean “Who’s Tom Paxton?”

Tomorrow, as I mentioned, it looks like rain and gale force winds.

Just another sunny day – 5 May 2020

It was one of those unexpectedly good days. Expected it to be overcast and right from the start it was lovely sunshine.

Possibly it was because of that sunshine, but neither of us did very much in the morning. Scamp was reading and I was struggling through today’s Sudoku. Cup of coffee each and a bit of cake. After that we agreed that we needed milk and bread, so off we trotted to the shops. Big queues everywhere except The Food Factory, so that’s where we went. They didn’t have as much as M&S or Aldi, but we weren’t looking for much, so that sufficed for our shopping.

Back home, lunch for me was a panini wrapped round some tinned red salmon and lettuce. Ages and ages since I’ve had salmon of the tinned variety. It has a totally different taste from ‘real’ salmon. Makes you wonder what it’s made from. I doubt if there’s much fish in there. Scamp had tuna with lettuce on a panini and declared it fine. There again, tinned tuna is nothing like fresh tuna. Hardly the same colour and nothing like the taste. What is it really? To finish off lunch we had a piece of banana cake. It was truly delicious. I had two bits and I think Scamp had the same.

I’d a bit more work to do in the back room. I’m thinking about making a light box to photograph my drawings in and I was scrounging around for some cardboard to make it. I think I’ve managed to find enough. May start construction tomorrow after the plans are drawn up. I’ve been watching some folk making them on YouTube and they don’t look too difficult. We’ll see.

Got fed up and decided to take the Big Dog out for a walk in St Mo’s and Scamp decided a walk would do her good, so off we went. Went round the pond twice and that’s where I got the picture of the baby coot looking really straggly and scruffy. Strange how the area around their beak is like orange fur when it will later become the iconic white plate. They were deep in the horsetails and were difficult to spot and even more difficult to get a clear shot of. I shot about 20 frames, but it was the very first one that was the best and that made PoD.

We had a bit of a dance practise tonight and covered some of the sequence dances with Scamp trying to teach me a couple of new ones she’d seen Stewart and Jane doing in their little Lockdown Videos. Really appreciate them taking the time to do them.

Tomorrow I may go cycling, just may. It was warm in the sun today, but the east wind was cold. Tomorrow is to be warmer apparently. We’ll see.

A cold start – 13 April 2020

It had been cold during the night, but once the sun broke through, it soon warmed up and turned into another beautiful day.. Nothing much to do today and no need to go anywhere.

In the afternoon I went for a walk with the Nikon, a long tele lens and a macro lens. Carried the Oly 5 with Samyang 7.5mm lens in my pocket, just in case anything worked for it.

<Technospeak>
I’d had a problem yesterday with the Nikon. Some of the pics were blurry. Couldn’t explain it because they were all shot at 1/800th sec shutter which should have dealt adequately with camera shake. After some research, I began to suspect mirror slap which means that the mirror flipping up causes internal vibrations in the camera. Fancy modern cameras have a setting that reduces it, but the D7000 is the oldest of the 7000 series and doesn’t have that facility. What it does have is ‘Quiet Mode’ which I think may be the predecessor to the damping of the mirror. I switched it on today and it seemed to work. No visible, or should I say less visibly blurred shots. I’ll keep a watching brief.
</Technospeak>

I wanted to get some Hover Fly photos, but the hover flies, though hovering happily wouldn’t stay still once they’d landed which led to some interesting shots of empty grass stems. Also, they were easily spooked and so I couldn’t get close enough to use the macro lens and was trying my best with the long lens. It’s not nearly as good at fine detail as the macro. However, I did get some decent shots after a while.

Walking back home I noticed the light shining through the larch tree pine needles and they weren’t bothered by me getting close with the macro lens. One of the shots of them made PoD.  Polis car drove round St Mo’s car park when I was walking home, then positioned itself at the entrance.  Not so much looking for ‘baddies’ as much as acting as a deterrent for anyone foolish enough to think they can drive to the park to go for a walk.  Warning, police state approaching!

Back home, we sat in the garden for a while and enjoyed the late afternoon sun before it began to cool and I went in to make the dinner. Unusually for a Monday, it wasn’t pasta, but risotto. Chicken and Mushroom risotto. Worked out fine, and the next bit is just a reminder for me if I have to make it again.
Pan fried the chicken pieces in oil, then made the stock for the risotto. Once it was hot I transferred the chicken pieces from the pan to the stock pot. That way the flavour of the chicken juices was added to the stock. Seemed to work.

Put a sketch on Instagram today. Just a pencil sketch of a wee bowl that sits beside the TV. It looked lovely in the sunlight this morning. It’s the first of my Lockdown Library. Don’t know how long the series will continue. We’ll have to wait and see.

Up early tomorrow to get our Iceland delivery, all the way from Reykjavík I believe.

Better than we expected – 12 April 2020

We had expected a cold, cloudy day, but we got quite a lot of sunshine.

Scamp managed to grab a delivery slot for Saturday 18th from Tesco. Isn’t it strange that something so mundane as ordering a grocery delivery can bring a smile to our faces? It’s a measure of how our lives have changed. Anyway, while she set up the Saturday delivery, I amended our Tuesday delivery, adding a few things. Mainly because I’d never done that before. It’s also strange that something that’s being done by all the supermarkets is slightly different in all of them.

Both tasks completed, we went for a walk in St Mo’s. I took the Nikon and the little Oly 5 which doesn’t get out much now. I know how it feels. The Nikon produced some brilliant macro shots of furry looking ferns, a bright green blob (also known as a moss fruiting body) an a nesting coot. The Oly 5 with the fish-eye lens attached captured a wide angle view of St Mo’s. The PoD went to the furry fern crozier. The remainder can be seen on Flickr. The park wasn’t too busy today, just a few weans on bikes and a couple of adults taking their daily exercise. Scamp took my photo on the bench I’d earmarked for last Wednesday’s shot, but I’ll keep it on my phone for now, because I look guttered. It was meant to show off the tee shirt I got from Canute, but you can hardly see it. Pity, because I quite like it.

Scamp spent a half hour or so talking to Shona on the phone. I can’t imagine how that girl copes with Ben in a flat on lockdown. Anyone who has kids at this time must be absolutely round the twist trying to find something, anything, for them to do while they’re not at school.

We both spent half an hour speaking to JIC later and marvelled at the amount of gardening they’re getting done in the warm weather they get.  Got a fair bit of slagging from him for not being able to get a delivery from Ocado.  OK JIC, I walked into that one!

One idea I’ve had started from a picture I saw on Flickr. It’s an Instagram challenge to complete a drawing a day for the lockdown period. I’m a bit late coming to it, but it sound feasible. Starting it tomorrow. Small sketch posted from my phone.

That’s it for today. A bright, sunny, spring day in lockdown. Tomorrow will probably feel more like winter if the weather fairies are to be believed.

The day that never really began – 2 April 2020

Some days are full of things to do some are not. Today was in the latter group.

It was a cold day with strong winds in the morning and early afternoon. It didn’t lend itself to gardening or to photography, so Scamp resorted to dusting the bedroom furniture. I started tidying up the back bedroom, but soon tired of that. Spoke to Colin on the phone and found that he didn’t do “the what’s appy thing” so I didn’t go as far as trying to talk him through Zoom™. Did find out that his son-in-law is volunteering to deliver folk’s Click and Collect groceries in the surrounding villages. We agreed this was a very useful task, but only if you can actually get a C&C slot. The problem seems to be people block booking slots and the supermarkets are unable (or unwilling) to do anything about it. Still, an admirable use of time and labour.

After lunch, Scamp wanted a loaf, so I offered to make one, rather than wait in a long queue to get one loaf and feel foolish, having waited all that time with just a loaf to show for it. I knew I’d end up buying a basket of stuff we didn’t need. We have loads of flour, some of it getting close to its Use By date, so this was an ideal way to do something useful with it. Made the dough and left it to prove then went out for a walk just in case there was anything interesting out in the Coronavirus world, because although there were scattered clouds, the wind had died down. I did get a few pictures of some dogwood branches with the buds just opened and the leaves caught in the transmitted light of centre-jour (backlighting). Interesting, but not brilliant. It was only when I got home I saw a wee daisy just starting to shut down for the night because the sun was dipping down behind some houses. That became PoD.

Scamp made a lovely Chicken Stir Fry for dinner. No sticky chilli sauce, just veg, rice, chicken and a great deal of skill. A little soy sauce just as extra seasoning and it was perfect.

We had a dance practise tonight. Foxtrot, Quickstep and New Waltz with some jive routines we hadn’t practised in too long a time. Really enjoyed it. Sometimes it’s the practise at home that burns the routines into your memory. At least it’s that way for me. I won’t claim that I got it all right, but the majority of it worked … eventually. Before that we joined a straggling few at 8pm to clap for the NHS. Not nearly as many as last week.

Watched the national news tonight and oh my they are so depressing. Such a difference from the Scottish news who are quite upbeat by comparison. Scamp thinks it’s because the geography is so different in Scotland in that we have a lot of open space around us, unlike London where everyone lives in each other’s pockets. Whatever way it finally turns out, we can only look after ourselves and try our best to keep healthy.

Tomorrow, getting colder according to the weather folk. Maybe even snow.  Probably stay in and eat the bread I made.