Back in the saddle – 11 January 2022

After yesterday’s little hissy fit, I’ve returned to the 365 proper.

It does get difficult sometimes to keep finding interesting subjects to photograph, but it’s important to remember the associated benefits. It gets me out in the fresh air, although it also ensures that I spend more time than I should in post processing. It keeps the little grey cells working and when I do get a good photo, or find something I thought I’d lost, like today, it does feel good.

The day didn’t start well. We went to a funeral for a girl I don’t remember meeting. She was the daughter-in-law of one of Scamp’s oldest friends. Funerals are never pleasant occasions, but when it’s for someone with her whole life still to live, it’s worse than normal. That’s all I’m going to say, except I have never seen the chapel at Daldowie as full as it was this morning.

Drove home in blinding sunshine and got on with the day. The sunshine mellowed a bit as the day progressed, but there was still blue sky up there and there was directional light. I took a camera for a walk, while Scamp stayed home and read. I was framing a shot through some trees when I thought I saw a ladybird on a tree beyond my framed shot. It was indeed an orange ladybird with white spots. Possibly the one I’ve been looking for since about November. It was still tucked up neatly in a knot in the trunk. This time I know which tree to look for. It’s the one two trees east of the one with the stick. You’ll know it when you see it, well, you won’t but I will.

That ladybird changed the complexion of the day completely. Unfortunately, none of the photos I took did it justice, so it didn’t get PoD. That award went to an orange coloured leaf, beautifully textured and almost translucent when seen against the light. There is another photo on Flickr that I worked on a tiny little bit tonight. It dates from September 2005, over sixteen years ago! It’s worth a look.

Scamp made Carrot and Lentil Curry tonight. It’s not he hottest curry in the world, but what it lacks in heat, it makes up for in taste. An old favourite.

I don’t think it’s going to be as good a day weatherwise tomorrow, but we may go out again for a spin. Need to get a wall calendar some time soon!

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!

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.

Back on track, and off road – 10 November 2021

A bright November day, although not as good as yesterday.

Scamp was out early to get prepared for our version of Strictly. I may get shaved later in the week if I can be bothered, that will be the sum total of my preparation. While she was out I did do some catch-up and got the blog posted. At 11.45pm last night I realised I hadn’t posted the photos on Flickr, nor had I written the blog. The blog takes well over half an hour to write and post on a good day, when the server, somewhere in deepest America, is running at about half speed. On bad days it’s on a go-slow and that half hour is how long it takes to send to exchange its starting handshake. I wasn’t going to risk it. I’d write it in the morning when most of America is in sleepy bye byes. I posted the photos on Flickr, then closed the Mac down. I hate having to write and post yesterday’s blog the next day, but I also hate dragging myself to bed at 1am. That’s my excuse, take it or leave it.

With the blog posted and the date changed to protect the innocent, I checked to see when my coffee grinder would arrive. Helpfully, Amazon tell you now roughly when it will arrive. Very roughly. It was 11am when I checked and the news was that it would be delivered today by 10pm. Somewhere in that 11 hours the Amazon person would leave it on our doorstep. I really think they could be a bit more accurate in their estimates.

When Scamp came back I was measuring out some coffee beans into the De’Longhi grinder that came with the coffee machine. It’s a bit rudimentary, but it works and even gives you a sort of idea how fine the grind is. Not as good as the ‘today by 10pm’ Krups grinder, but good enough for a cup of strong espresso.

Scamp phoned to see when her glasses would be ready, only to find, after a few more phone calls that they may not be ready until next Wednesday. Eventually we agreed that it wouldn’t be the disaster it appears, because from Sunday she won’t be wearing her contacts anyway. Also, today I went up into the loft to get a newer pair of emergency specs from the holiday case. They won’t be as up to date as the ones we’re waiting for, but they will hopefully be better than the old pair she found and will allow her to walk around the house.

I held on for a few hours after lunch before deciding that I’d take a couple of cameras out for a walk. Just as I was leaving the man from Amazon was photographing the coffee grinder sitting on the doorstep. Thanked him and unpacked it. It looks just like the old one. Let’s hope it works as well and as hard as that one did.

I took a walk round the pond and then went into the woods that run parallel to the motorway. The trees there aren’t quite so closely crammed together, plus they are mainly deciduous and have lost most of their leaves now, so there was a bit more light. I did get a photo of a wee black fly with red eyes. It was sitting in the sunshine on a tree trunk and moved round with the sun. Not much time left for sunbathing now little fly. That didn’t get PoD. The award went to a view from the grassy area between the houses and St Mo’s. Lovely light and a beautiful yellow tree.

When I was coming home I slipped on a stone and fell into a muddy bit of a burn. Almost managing to stop the camera falling into it. Almost. When I got home and told Scamp, she asked me if I was alright. I said “Och that doesn’t matter, but I think I got some grit in the lens.” The expression on her face said it all. “We are not amused!” Yes, I was fine, and so it seems was the camera and lens combination.

Tomorrow I hoping to pick up my new walking trousers in Glasgow, which will be useful after today’s little incident!


Recharging – 25 September 2021

Getting the wee red car back on the road.

Up with the bonnet and then … I found my socket set was all imperial sizes and the bolts holding the terminals to the battery were metric. My 7/16” socket was too tight and the 1/2” socket was too slack. I needed something like a 15/32” socket, or more realistically, an 11mm one. I did have a set of cheap metric sockets at one time, about a year ago, I think, but I reckon I must have thrown them out in a clear out last year. Oh well, I was going to Halfords anyway to get a battery charger. I’d add a socket set to the list.

Drove up to the retail park in my car, in heavy traffic all heading north or east. This was September weekend in Scotland a school holiday and what used to be a bank holiday too, so maybe that explained the rush into the wilds of the countryside. I wouldn’t have rushed, because it was another of those drizzly Scottish days. I got the battery charger and the cheap socket set that I won’t throw out this time and returned to remove a battery that’s only about a year old. Tried to remember which terminal you remove first and found that Mr Google had the answer. Dragged the battery up to the back bedroom and meanwhile Scamp had unboxed the charger which we plugged in and set it to work for a couple of hours, after which it merrily told us the battery was charged and being ‘maintained’ whatever that means. The instructions weren’t that explicit about that part of the charging procedure. Two hours seemed a very short time to charge a totally flat battery, but I took it out and after checking with Mr Google again connected the positive, then the negative terminal. Immediately the warning lights came on in the car which I remembered from last year when I replaced a totally dead battery. Locked the battery in place and tentatively locked the car with the fob then unlocked it again. Key in the socket turned and so did the starter motor and the engine burst into life again! Hooray! The Wee Red Car will live to fight another day. I left it to rest after the open heart surgery, but we’ll go for a run tomorrow just to give it a bit more energy.

A Piece ’n’ Egg, actually two eggs was a late lunch and then, while Scamp did a bit of baking, I took the Big Dog and the macro lens out for a walk in St Mo’s. Found a Black Darter dragonfly on the boardwalk which was very skittish to start with, but after a bit of patient crawling around the boardwalk, I managed to get a couple of shots of it. I saw one last year and was reading about it in last year’s blog post. It would have made PoD, but it was pipped to the post by a couple of mating Shield Bugs. The larger of the two (the female) was calling the shots and decided it wanted to head off while the poor male was dragged along behind. It’s a tough life and probably quite painful being a male shield bug!

Scamp had cabbage and potatoes for dinner while I had mince ’n’ tatties with some of the cabbage. Not beetroot, Jamie! We had a baked corn on the cob each from the Campbell Garden down south. Both were still perfectly fresh. Scamp’s baking had included a rhubarb and apple tart from the Campbell Garden in Scotland. Beautifully crisp pastry. One of the best she’s made.

We struggled through the first Strictly of the year, but I’ll admit I wasn’t all that interested in most of it. Did enjoy the gay couple’s tango. Brilliantly done. We used to do a routine with Jamie Gal’ where the leader became the follower and vice versa. It’s very, very confusing for both parties, but the two men were faultless tonight.

Maybe we’ll take the Wee Red Car out for a run tomorrow to give its battery another charge.

Driving – 10 September 2021

Feeling a lot better this morning. No sign of yesterday’s Lurgi.

We got in the car and drove to the petrol station to buy some extremely expensive petrol that only had 5% of Ethanol in it. Better the devil you know when you’re on a fairly long journey, carrying half a tonne of stuff.

Drove out of the petrol station, still smarting from the expense and joined the M80 heading in the general direction of Glasgow. Merged on to the M73 which in turn merged on to the M74. Drove sedately past the roadworks at Hamilton that are due to finish in October (year not stated), watching the train of cars, vans and lorries on the other carriageway, a train that went on and on and on. Made a mental note to exit the motorway at Canderside on our return journey and not be caught in a stramash like this.

After a hundred miles or so, Scotland became England and the M74 became the M6. Exited at Penrith and then it was on to the smaller A66. Just before the exit, the Start/Stop app in the car signalled a System Failure. This had happened before and I reported it to Nissan at the service a week ago. I was told then that the Start/Stop “… Checks a lot of parameters …” Which was technospeak for “It just does that, we can’t fix it”. Another Nissan failure on an otherwise great car.

Not long after we left the outskirts of Penrith, we were on a stretch of road which should have been dual carriageway, but was under repair, so it became a slow moving single carriageway. Just after what seemed like an hour, but was probably a lot less, we took the turn off that eventually led through narrower and narrower roads to the house. Actually overshot it, but Scamp noticed and we arrived. First to arrive again!

Cup of tea on the patio and a quick Foxtrot along the paving stones. I’ll bet that’s the first time anyone had danced a Foxtrot along that patio! Jamie and Sim weren’t far behind us, having left home long before us. Their’s a six hour journey and ours only about two. The world is ill divided.

PoD was to confirm that roses, even in England, have the same beasties we have up north. Honest, we didn’t bring them with us.
Scamp made Chicken Cacciatore for dinner and we all sat round the table, talked and ate.

Tomorrow we’re going exploring.

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.

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.

Go West – 27 August 2021

Off to the seaside today!

We were driving down to Troon, Scamp’s Happy Place. I’d booked lunch at Scotts for 12.45pm and the sun was shining. Drove down the M77 and by the time we’d passed Kilmarnock we could see that we were leaving the blue skies behind and driving into the black clouds. It looked like the west wasn’t the best today. However we passed under the black clouds unscathed and continued on to Troon without getting one drop of rain.

We were far too early for our lunch appointment, so we went for a walk over the ‘Ballast’, the big hill beside the saw mill, then along almost, but not quite into town. Then walked back by the low path. The Ballast is a hill, reputed to have been made from the ballast from cargo ships and also dredged material the was excavated when they were building the harbour. Its original purpose was to protect the new harbour. The great thing about it is that you can walk over the top, but on calm days like today, you can also walk round the edge on the sea side. Actually it’s a more interesting walk on windy days with crashing waves and the chance you’ll get soaked. Today the tide was out and the sea was behaving itself. We sat for a while in the car gazing out in the general direction of Arran willing it to emerge from the mist that was shrouding it. It didn’t want to play today.

We has a wee bit of excitement when we were walking round when two fast jets took off from Prestwick and did their screaming climb into the clouds. Scamp was not amused. I was!

Scotts was busy with no lunch tables available unless you’d booked. We were shown to our table and given the menus.
We shared a starter of Crispy Chicken Tempura which, then Scamp had Chicken Caesar Salad and I had Thai Spiced Breast of Chicken. We both had dessert. Scamp’s was Rhubarb and Apple Tart with Apple Ice Cream and I had plain and simple Ice Cream. The only upset was my debit card wouldn’t work in the machine, even before I tried to input my PIN. Scamp had to pay for me. Luckily the girl at the till had seen this happening before and directed us to the Bank of Scotland in the town where she said they would fix the problem. It’s quite a while since we’ve been to Scotts and I’m glad to say their standard haven’t slipped.

Found the bank and parked about half a mile away then waited to find out what was wrong. The teller asked me to put my card in the machine on her desk and saw the problem. She said she could fix it in the autoteller outside. I put my card in, it was denied, she touched a few buttons and all was well. When we got home I went to the petrol station and put some of that expensive fuel in the car and tested the work the teller had done, and of course the card worked. Let’s hope it’s a long term fix not a short term one like last time.

Checked the photos I’d taken, but there was nothing interesting enough to be PoD, so I took the Big Dog out to St Mo’s woods and found a couple of mating Crane Flies who posed for me and the PoD was sorted.

After a ‘discussion’ tonight I think we almost ready to dance the Foxtrot tomorrow, although we both agree that it might not be exactly right. I might even wash the car tomorrow if it’s a decent day.