A walk in the wilds – 7 March 2022

My first walk in and around Fannyside for a while.

Scamp was out to lunch with The Witches and I was like a knotless thread. It was another beautiful day and I didn’t want to spend it in the house. Nor did I fancy sitting in a car going somewhere, only to find I had half an hour there before driving back home. I chose to go to Fannyside Moor. Lots of big sky and silence. Not total silence, you understand. No, there was the soughing of wind in the pine trees and the distant sound of cars and vans on the single track road across the moor itself. There were sheep bleating somewhere and most joyous of all, I listened to a lark ascending. Not the Vaughan Williams piece, but a real lark, really ascending into a clear blue sky.

I’d parked at my usual place, on a rough bit of earth by a gate, but not blocking the gate and between two stands of Scots Pines. It’s on a ninety degree corner, but off the road. Just as well, because this is a single track road, just wide enough for a van or a tractor, but not nearly wide enough for two cars to pass without one or other losing a wing mirror. My kit for today was Sony A7iii with 105mm macro lens (just in case), kit lens and 18mm super wide. Actually that’s almost all my lenses. I’ve got others, but they are mainly mounted on adapters and that’s more to carry, too much.

I walked roughly east first almost as far as the farm, but not quite. Farms = dogs = trouble. Best avoided if possible. Halfway along the road I met a grumpy looking woman driving what an old Australian pen pal called a Ute. A four wheel drive go anywhere beefed up jeep. A utility vehicle. I climbed the verge to let her through, but she didn’t acknowledge me at all. I think she thought she owned Fannyside. Maybe she did. She slowed right down to have a good look at the Blue car, then drove on for a bit and stopped again. I think now she was checking that I wasn’t dumping rubbish, fly tipping. I hadn’t. I walked on, she drove on. I got some photos of lichen that covered some of the old fence posts. I also took some landscape shots. Then another car came the other way. Another Ute, another woman driver, but this one gave me a cheery wave as she passed. I’d walked as far as I wanted. Took some sheep photos then walked back.

Turned 90º and walked south until the cold north west breeze got a bit of an edge to it and I walked back to the car. Not far from it I spotted what looked like a pebble on a fence post and examination showed it to be a ladybird, a dark brown one with white spots. I remembered seeing one here before. I tried a few shots, but there was nothing to lean on or to give me some support. A walk back to the car brought a tripod. The flexible Benbo. Hated by many, but loved by those who persevere with its idiosyncrasies. It’s a steep learning curve getting the best out of it, but it’s a great bit of kit. Almost rock solid on most surfaces, todays thick matted grass was a challenge. Eventually I used it as a monopod and got the shots.

Back home, Scamp had returned from the lunch. I decided it was time the Blue car had a wash and as the day was still warm out of the wind, I took brush and bucket and got rid of the road muck from the last few weeks. I even gave Scamp’s wee red car a scrub too.

Fired up the computer and got the shots processed. At first I thought I’d captured images of a Cream Spot Ladybird, but then after a bit more investigation it turned out it was. Striped Ladybird (Myzia oblongoguttata). It was more a maroon colour than brown and it’s fairly clear to see that they are indeed stripes and not spots. Something new learned today.

Scamp didn’t need any dinner, but I baked the second Fougasse so she could try it while I had the leftover stew from yesterday. Unfortunately, on her second bite she cracked another part of her damaged tooth. Tomorrow she’s going to bend the truth a bit and get the dentist to fix it. Something he should have done months ago. If he won’t do it, I think we might go private again. It’s the way the country is going these days.

I was quite please with my ladybird photos and it was one of them that made PoD.

Tomorrow after we hopefully resolve the dental problem we may go out for a walk.

Going for the messages – 10 February 2022

Scamp had considered going to a tea dance today, but then thought better not, just in case of picking up a nasty.

When Scamp makes a decision, she sticks to it. Nothing will changer her mind. So we definitely not going dancing today. It was probably the right choice, but she knew that it was the last chance for a dance for at least a fortnight, maybe more, depending on what the consultant said after the eye op. What she did say was that we needed a ‘few things’. The ‘things’ were mainly vegetables and I suggested we take a trip to Waitrose in Stirling for them. Veg are usually fresh. There is a good fish counter and also a meat counter. The fact that they seem to be the only place in the central belt where you can get Chocolate and Nut Cantuccini is merely accidental!

Weather was terrible again. Driving through the rain and spray from countless lorries and white vans, but we got to Waitrose and managed to get all the veg, plus some fish and some diced pork with a wee bonus of three bits of lamb’s liver which may do nicely for tomorrow’s lunch. Oh yes and two boxes of Cantuccini. One to use and one to squirrel away.

After a French Toast lunch, I went out into the cold to get some photos. The weather had cleared up after we got back and the sun was shining brightly. I got a few close-up shots with nice textures, rusty wire as you can see and attempted to capture some backlit sphagnum moss that was looking very fresh and green. The only down side was that my little ladybird had disappeared. Maybe the bright sun had convinced it that spring had arrived. I’m hoping so.

I went shopping for even more food after I was finished at St Mo’s and by the time I came back, Scamp was starting to make Sweet Potato Soup for dinner. It tasted a bit spicier than mine, it was fine. More in the pot for tomorrow.

I’m beginning to struggle with the music and film prompts from EDiF, but as Scamp says, it’s prompts like these that make you think.
Today’s prompt was Vienna. That word, is now synonymous with Ultravox for many people. Rather than draw the famous ‘girl and horse’ scene or the one where Midge sings his wee heart out at the start, I chose the fade out scene where they all walk off towards that big scary building in the distance. I think it’s the moody atmosphere and the restricted palette of purples and blues that I like. That’s Vienna for me, just don’t mention Joe Dolce!

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks bright and clear, although the temperature is due to go down to -4ºc tonight!


A busy day – 21 January 2022

Today we continued with the cooking and baking for tonight’s dinner.

Started early, making the dough for the bread. It was to be a full size loaf, and to save time (and effort), I made it in the mixer. That did most of the work, but the dough still needed more flour to be worked in because it was too wet. Actually I’d have been better making it by hand because you can feel whether the dough is too stiff or too wet and make adjustments as you go. Eventually I was happy with it and left it to prove.

By then it was nearly lunchtime. After that I took some time to get the ingredients organised for the main course. Rice weighed out, onions chopped and likewise cabbage. Scamp already had the fish defrosting.

With the prep done, I went for a walk down to the shops to get some beer for the visitors. I took the camera with me, of course but nothing really caught my eye. My favourite shot, and PoD was of the afternoon light illuminating a hogweed seed head. It wasn’t until I had the shot home and was inspecting it in Lightroom that I noticed the little ladybird tucked neatly in between the branches.

Beer bought, I headed home and helped set up the table. My ‘help’ really only meant I helped pull the table out and lay the table cloth. Then it was time to put the bread in the oven. It had risen well. It was when I was turning it out of the wicker basket on to the baking tray the whole thing deflated. A flat as a pancake loaf is not what I wanted for tonight. In a fit of pique, I bunged it in the bin and started again. If I’d thought about it, I’d have knocked the air out of it completely and set it for another prove. I didn’t stop to think. Too hasty sometimes, that’s me. Anyway, I made a smaller quantity, hand kneaded it this time and set it to prove. That gave me time for a coffee and to make a start on today’s Sudoku.

This time the dough rose much better than last and it went into the oven to bake, it had fallen slightly, but reinflated quickly in the hot oven. It came out fine. I’d just started the main course when the visitors arrived. I left Scamp to do the entertaining while I fried the onions and the rice and veg then added the fish stock and bunged everything into the oven which was just at the right temperature to bake the risotto for 20mins. That gave me a chance to have a beer with Crawford and chat to Nancy. After some time I checked the timer, only to find that I’d set it, but forgotten to start it! I needn’t have worried, my inbuilt clock and Scamp’s hint about “How’s the risotto doing?” saved the day. Basically it all worked fine. Later when Scamp and I discussed the day, we agreed that the combination of a heavy soup and far too much risotto had made the dinner a bit heavy. Her Sticky Toffee pudding and my second loaf had been the stars of the show.

It was early morning before we got to bed after half the dishes had completed their cycle in the dish washer and that’s why this is another catch-up. First one for a while.

Tomorrow we need to be up and out early for the first dance class for a long time.

A bit of woodwork – 18 January 2022

But first a return to the abysmal B&Q.

I decided I’d have another look for the correct screws for the pedestal I was making to hold the new TiVo box. I found them in the place I’d been looking. I remembered that the staff don’t to bother where they put some of the boxes and bags of screws and applied that logic to finding the right size of screws. They were in a box labeled 4mm x 25mm, but the actual screws were 3.5mm diameter x 30mm. It doesn’t help when the bag containing the corner blocks states that you need number 6 gauge screws and that nomenclature was changed around the late 1990s to the much more sensible metric measurement. B&Q living in the past. I got the screws and drove home.

Before lunch I managed to get all the wood cut to size and had a freshly charge battery in the drill. The hardest bit, apart from decoding B&Q’s filing system, was sawing the wood I’d drawn the elevation and end elevation of the pedestal and added all the required dimensions, so it would be as simple as I could make it before I put saw to wood. After lunch it was just a case of assembling the structure and, for once, it was done with the minimum of swearing!

The completed support passed muster with Scamp and looked reasonable in its place under the TV. It also fulfilled its secondary purpose of disguising the rats maze of cables that run between the modem, the TiVo, the Hive controller and the TV itself. Job done.

After hoovering the back room and putting all the tools away, I put my boots on and took the new Sony to meet the wildlife in St Mo’s. I got a picture of the little orange ladybird, still hibernating. However it was after I lost my Samyang’s lens hood and was retracing my steps to find it (it’s still lost), I noticed the Dragon Tree. It’s a rotten old fallen tree, but doesn’t that look like a dragon’s head? Or do I have to decrease my gin intake? Anyway, it got PoD.

Tonight’s dinner was potatoes and cabbage for Scamp. I usually have mine with the addition of bacon, but tonight I had the remains of my roast lamb shoulder. I think it tasted even better tonight than on Sunday. It’s all gone now!

We watched the first episode of The Tourist, but neither of us was convinced by it. If you can’t relate to the actors, (I think empathise is the word) then it’s a hard ask to keep watching it. I may give it one more chance, or maybe not. Much more entertaining and just downright watchable is Around the World in 80 Days. Just good fun.

Bloke came to encourage us to push probes down our throats and up our noses. He had a good sense of humour, despite having to stand in the bucketing rain. I suppose you need a GSOH for that job.

Well, it looks like the dance classes will be free to start again after the weekend. That is good news. Most of the restrictions have been released, and not before time, say we.

Tomorrow I’m booked for coffee with Val. Scamp is intending to do some more tidying up.

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!