Off to Stirling legally – 6 May 2021

The last time we went shopping in Stirling we were bending the Covid rules slightly.

Today it was legal. We are in the same level as Stirling, in fact all of Scotland is in the same level at present, although Sturgeon still points out that if we’re not good little mice, we WILL be put on the naughty step. Her battle cry of “I will treat you like adults” seems to have been forgotten at times.

Before we went, we exercised our legal right and voted. There wasn’t a great queue at the polling station, in fact there was only one other person in our lane. We had brought our own pencils with us although there were pencils available. Strangely, there was a box for “Used Pencils”. I wondered what they were going to do with them. Would they wash them tonight after the polls closed and keep them for the next election, or heaven forbid, for a referendum? Would they lock them up in a cupboard for 48 hours to make sure they were virus free for the next use? Would they ship them off to some third world country to be used in schools and give other children a chance to catch the virus? Who knows. One Use Pencils. What a waste of money. I wonder if anyone nicked their pencil or were they afraid of being called back and forced to put the offending article in the Used Pencils box.

After the arduous task of voting, we drove through the rain to Stirling. All we wanted was to wander round a different supermarket and see what they were offering that Tesco and M&S weren’t. We did get some stuff. Mainly food. Scamp bought some fish and I bought some meat. We did find some things that we couldn’t get back at the shops or Tesco, but it was really the feeling that we’d been away for the morning. That’s what mattered.

Back home and after lunch I did a quick sketch of a wood screw to practise today’s prompt A Screw. As usual, the quick sketch became the finished article with just a touch of Paynes Grey to add a bit of form to the screw.

After that, and between showers, I planted up two wee Basil cuttings I’d taken a few weeks ago. Scamp had read somewhere that if you cut a fairly long stem from a basil plant and put it in some water on the window ledge it will grow roots. Both of the cuttings we’d made have now got fairly substantial roots. Now they are planted in some compost and sitting on the window ledge upstairs where they’ll get a fair bit of sun.

Finally the rain abated and I went for a walk in St Mo’s. PoD turned out to be a Cladonia lichen looking almost translucent in the sun that had appeared from somewhere. As I headed home the rain came on again. The sun doesn’t stay long here. Take your chance when it comes, that’s the rule.

Chicken Thighs and Peas for dinner tonight. Easy to do and great tasting.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to get to The Cotton House for lunch. Nothing else planned.

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.


Sunshine in small doses – 9 March 2021

Sunshine in more ways than one.  Then wind and rain later. Typical Scottish weather.

The day was calm for most of the time, but this evening there’s a wind howling around the house. But there was a little sunshine in the afternoon, when Her Majesty the Nicola made her proclamation that groups of four people two households may meet in the open from Friday. Why do we have to wait until Friday? Because Nicola says so, of course!

We didn’t have much to do today and although it was fairly dry there was just the hint that drizzly rain would catch you if you went out. I went out in the afternoon to go for a circuit or two of St Mo’s and then extend the walk in the direction of the shops to get some veg for tonight’s dinner.

I had read some suggestions for the Tamron long zoom’s problems. It appears the drive motor in the camera may be failing, which would account for the squeal that comes from it when I switch on. I’m not sure if that’s the reason or not. I’m thinking it might be more a fault in the adapter. It was a real cheapo one and not very well quoted. However, another old lens I have, a Sigma works quite happily with the adapter. Also, and probably the most telling, is the number of repair tutorials on YouTube for that lens. My plan now is to visit Val and get him to try it on the old Nikon D70 he has. If the lens works on that, it’s the adapter that’s at fault and I can happily sell it. If it doesn’t work on the D70 it’s probably the lens that’s at fault and I might as well bin it. It’s costing me nothing just now, so I’ll leave it be for a while.

So, off I went to visit the frogs again today armed with the new Sigma macro which worked quite well yesterday, but as backup I carried my old Oly M1 with a 200mm lens. I got a few shots of the cavorting frogs with both cameras. In the end it was a picture of some Cladonia lichen that got PoD, but because you are such patient and devoted readers, here’s my favourite frog pic of the day. I called it “The Voyeurs.”

Dinner tonight was a stir fry and I enjoyed it, but it had egg noodles in it and Scamp doesn’t like noodles, preferring rice. My fault. I bought the noodles.

We watched another excruciating episode of Drawers Off tonight. I may have to give up on this week’s episodes. None of the participants have the faintest idea how structure a painting. I realise it’s ‘edutainment’, but it should have at least one foot in reality.

Tomorrow we have an early(ish) rise because we’re off, illegally crossing county boundaries so I can hopefully get the horn on my car fixed at the Nissan garage, with the possibility of a little drop-in at Waitrose on the way home, because we’re almost there anyway.

Happy Birthday Hazy – 2 December 2020

After sending the usual birthday greeting to Hazy, I forced myself to get up and face the day.

We did a Skype with Hazy. It’s so hard to decide which of the many video conferencing apps to use now. Each one has its own advantages an disadvantages. We settled for Skype because the Birthday Girl thought it would be best. It was great, considering Mickysoft has its claws in it. Having said that I did notice a £ sign next to my sign in name. Is that a sign of things to come? Got to see her opening her presents and then caught up with all things round about Epsom and we had a few laughs too. Then it was time to go.

I rejoined battle with my NAS drive and Scamp went shopping for bird food and things. I got nowhere with the NAS. It just could be that the drive has been damaged by that one kick in the head too many. Since I’d accessed it last week using a Linux distro last week, I’d assumed everything was intact. Now I’m thinking that the data may be intact, but the OS is damaged, hence the problems I’m having trying to contact it with its own software.

I made a pizza to get my mind off the problem NAS. It was looking good, then I dropped it when I was cutting it. Half fell on the floor and I promptly decided that was my half. Just as bread always falls butter side down, so the half pizza fell topping side down. It’s all to do with neutral axis and centre of gravity. When you look at it that way it’s perfectly logical … but still annoying. It actually tasted ok and the pizza base was perfect. Scamp’s half was even better I’m told.

Struggled for a short while with the NAS software before I gave up and went for a walk with my camera in St Mo’s. I’d left it too late, far too late and by time I found some interesting stuff, like a couple of hibernating ladybirds, there was really insufficient light to get a decent shot. Then the rain started and I made the decision that a warm house was better than a cold, wet forest and I went home. All the time I’d been planning what to do with the NAS disk and by the time I came home I had a plan. The PoD went to a piece of Reindeer Moss although there were no reindeer to be seen and it was a bit of lichen, not moss.

I won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say that the plan worked. Copied a few files from the dodgy NAS drive to a newly formatted little hard disk using Linux as the copying OS. Now I can go to bed knowing that I can retrieve most, if not all, of the data on the drive. Thank you Colin for the suggestion and thank you Val for your help. Thank you lot for reading this exciting story of lost data and bad drives. Don’t worry about your WD My Cloud, Colin. It will be fine just as long as you don’t kick it in the head too many times.

A quick dance practise tonight before Scamp made Fish ’n’ Chips. Ages since we’ve had that.

I couldn’t settle on a subject for today’s sketch which would start with the letter ‘L’..  Light? Landscape? Lamp?  All were attempted and rejected.  Eventually I asked Scamp if she would like a drink as today was ‘Hump Day’, middle day of the week.  It’s all downhill from here, or so they say.  She was having G ‘n’ T and I was going to have beer, then I thought I might have lager, and the subject just appeared like magic.  It’s not a magic drawing, of that I’m sure, but it’s done and posted, so that’s a success of a kind.

Tomorrow looks like a Scottish winter. Thankfully we’re not rushing out anywhere too early, at least I hope we’re not!

Back to rain and leaden skies – 1 July 2020

After a wee respite yesterday, the weather reverted to normal.

Yesterday was just a ‘lucky’. Today it rained for most of the day, but there were a few intervals when the sun looked as if it was going to shine on us, but then it disappeared again.

It was my turn to cook from a trio of magazines. We’d both chosen things that sounded interesting and to kick it off, I was going to make Fennel, Leek and Smoked Salmon Fritatta. Unfortunately we didn’t have any leeks or smoked salmon. We did however have a fennel bulb, so that was a start. After lunch we walked down to the shops in the rain to get the missing ingredients. Apart from the rain it was fairly pleasant. When you look out at the drizzle falling you instantly think of the cold and damp. It was damp, but not cold.

Decided I’d better go out and see if I could photograph anything interesting. I wasn’t really expecting to see anything and I wasn’t disappointed. Hardly a beastie was stirring today. I got a PoD which looks like a little stunted tree, but is actually a little stunted Cladonia lichen. That was about it. Stood and watched two guys racing their radio controlled petrol driven dune buggies over the BMX track. Incredible speeds they get up to once they’ve built up a head of torque. Some magnificent jumps too.

The Fritatta worked out well, although the instructions suggested a 15 minute bake in the oven at gas 4 (180ºc) and that was nowhere near enough. It took twice that long. It could, however be our oven that’s at fault. If it says gas 4, we usually use halfway between 4 and 5. I’ve never managed to successfully calibrate the temperature settings. Maybe someday.

Sketch today was a trio of mushrooms that were heading for the compost bin until I retrieved them temporarily to paint them. It took two attempts and the second was by far the best. I used Cotman colours which aren’t quite as strong as the professional range. I’ve run out of quite a few colours in the W&N professional paintbox and hopefully will get it refilled soon. Until then I’ll use the Cotman colours. I also used Cass Art watercolour paper and it made a bit difference again.

Tomorrow we may drive in to Glasgow just to see how the city is faring. Some shops are already open and it looks like John Lewis is reopening on Monday. Things might be slowly returning to something like normal. Did I mention Cass Art opened today. That’s got nothing at all to do with the intended visit to Glasgow. 😉

Out before 11? Oh yes – 16 January 2020

Not only was I out before 11am, I was out and back with a card full of photos by 11 today.

The sun was up and so was I. I wasn’t going to waste good light like I did yesterday. Today I was going out to grab some photons and imprison them in an SD card. By the time I was actually going out, I could sense that the light was already fading, but undeterred I walked over the boardwalk and into the trees. I’d nothing really in my head for a photo, but as usual, I found some things. Mostly they were macro things. Wee things you pass by without thinking, but sometimes you have to stop and look and visualise what you could turn them into. That’s how I got today’s PoD. It’s really just an old rotting fence post with some barbed wire wound round it. I liked the different textures in the shot, but light was low, so I used the torch on my phone to give me some much needed light. Later when I was scanning the shots on the computer I realised the torch light had created a green cast. It was fairly easy to remove, but in the process it accentuated the reds in the lichen growing on the stump and also the rust on the wire. That’s what made it PoD. I could have turned it into a monochrome image, my first thought, but then I’d have missed those glorious colours.

Back home and after a morning coffee – much better today Hazy, we planned the rest of the day. I wanted a new pair of dance shoes. I’d say I needed a new pair of dance shoes, but ‘wanted’ is nearer the truth. I ‘need’ to get my old shoes re-soled, but another pair of dance shoes wouldn’t go amiss. Of course, Scamp is aways on the lookout for a new pair of sparkly dance shoes. Drove to the shop following the satnav and found it without any problem. They had the shoes I wanted, but not in my size. Bummer. Worse than that, they were sold out of gents shoe soles too! Double Bummer. The lady took my name and number and said she’d contact me when the shoes came back in to stock, possibly next week. Meanwhile Scamp had chosen one pair for herself and was considering another pair. Eventually she decided to limit herself to just the one pair, with the option to think about the other pair as a possible purchase when I was going to get mine. Devious.

We decided to go for lunch to Frankie & Benny’s for lunch. Since I was denied my dance shoes, I suggested we go to the Bishopbriggs site, where I could peruse the ‘toys’ in Currys after lunch. I’m not looking for anything in particular, but everything in general, usually the best time to window shop. That’s what we did. The satnav again did the heavy lifting and found us a way across a gloomy and dull Glasgow to the retail park. Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp and Cheese Burger (No Mayo) for me. Lovely. By the time we were coming out, the rain had started. Saw lots of ‘toys’ in Currys, but nothing that was very interesting. Drove home through the gloom and the rain.

There was one more photo taken today and that was the new and updated Christmas Tree fairy. She’s been in need of a makeover for many years and this year she got her wish. New underskirt. Newly washed (twice washed) dress and a new pair of sparkly wings. Most of the work was down to Scamp. Before she goes back in her box and into the loft until next year it seemed like a good idea to give her a photoshoot. I do believe she’s smiling.

Tomorrow we may go out somewhere. It will be cold, but clear for most of the day according to the weather people. We’ll wait and see.

The Shortest Day – 22 December 2019

And it felt like the shortest day too. Very little sunlight finding it’s way to the Scottish earth today.

Apart from having a lot to accomplish today, there wasn’t much incentive to get up and get started, but we did. Calendars to print. Doors to fix. Dinner (mine) to cook. Tidying up to be done. Just normal day to day stuff, but it all seems to mount up some days. Today was that day. Also, there was the usual photo to be taken in almost twilight.

I went to B&Q to get the stuff to fix the door. After lunch I started my dinner – Lamb Shoulder Shank, slow cooked. With that on its way, I went out and took some photos. Mostly macro photos and mostly macro photos of Cladonia lichen. Found some Cladonia Bellidiflora which are like normal green/blue cladonia but with red tips to the crown. Not particularly rare, but it’s a long time since I’ve seen any round here. That pic made PoD. Like I said, there wasn’t much light around and most of the pics were taken at ISO 3200. I know that sounds like technospeak, but to give an indication of the low light, normal photos for most of the year are taken at ISO 200 to 400. 3200 means that there is only about a 1/16th the light available at ISO 200. Dull, dull, dull. Yes, the maths is dull, but the light, more so.

To brighten up this shortest day we watched a BBC re-run of a re-run of a re-run of the five year old Penguins of Madagascar. Still as funny and still finding little quotes throughout the film.

Lamb was lovely and not too fatty. Scamp had salmon as usual. Both of us finished off a bottle of Barolo we’d started last night.

Spoke to JIC later in the evening and were pleased to hear that there wasn’t any serious flooding down by. Sorry to hear that Sim has to work on the 27th in her new job with no holiday allowance as yet.

Well, it was a dull day, but the good news is that after 2am on Monday, the days will start getting longer and Scamp will give a sigh of relief as her SAD husband starts to come out of the long winter tunnel.

No big plans for tomorrow.

Art Class – 21 January 2019

Followed by Music Class

Today I was encouraging Margie to draw a cube in two point perspective. Instead of me doing the drawing, Margie would be doing it while I watched her and gently pushed her back onto the right path when she strayed. I think it was a success because after three or four tries she was definitely getting the hang of it. After the class, she stayed for Scamp’s Music Class, but I didn’t.

I drove down to Cumbersheugh railway station and walk along the Luggie, upstream for a change. It’s a bit more interesting in that direction and not nearly as mucky. It was along that way I found today’s PoD. I think it’s a variety of Cladonea lichen, but I’m not sure what particular family it belongs to. I’m sure someone on Flickr will know, or at least have a good guess. It was cold and miserable, and I curtailed my walk and headed home.

Scamp and I have been dancing Salsa for about ten years and in that time have helped with a great number of beginners, some of whom have continued through the ranks and joined our advanced class, but I’ve never met anyone I knew outside the salsa circuit … until tonight.

The class were practising a couple of moves, old moves, but ones we’d partly forgotten when into the class came one of the teachers I used to work beside. She was in a different department, but our paths had crossed many times. Not such a strange thing to happen really. It was inevitable that, even in a place the size of Glasgow, I’d bump into someone I knew eventually. It still took me by surprise, and her too I imagine. If it had to happen, it couldn’t have been with a nicer person. If she enjoys the classes, we could even be dancing in the same group some day.

No plans for tomorrow, but I must start looking for a shirt for the Salsa Ceilidh on Friday.

A day that starts with a dentist visit – 14 January 2019

… Is a lost cause!

Well, not totally lost because I was out within about fifteen minutes, £33 lighter, but with a front tooth that was back in business. Drove home, solved the ‘Mild’ Sudoku and had a cup of coffee.

Then it was almost time to go for Gems, but first Scamp and I cleaned out the smelly fridge once more, but still it smells. Can’t work out where the smell is coming from. We’ve taken everything out, chucked out half of it, only put back stuff we both agree we’ll use. We washed all the jars before putting them back. Washed the shelves and today we washed the walls of the fridge just to be sure we were covering every base. Still it’s there. My only thought is that the drain at the bottom of the fridge is leaking into the insulation of the box itself and that’s where the smell is coming from. Tomorrow I may put some disinfectant down the drain hole.

Went out for a while in the early afternoon to get some photos while the sun was shining and Gems were singing. Got some interesting macro shots of a lichen I’d never heard of before. It was Dog Lichen (Peltigera canina) so called because the fruiting bodies resemble a dog’s teeth. You might be able to see why from the photo at the top. There wasn’t much else to see today so I wandered back home to make the dinner.

We were going early to Salsa tonight because Mhairi and Robert were going to a new beginners class at 6.30. Wow, what a big class. Scamp and I helped out as there weren’t enough leaders (as usual). Our own class was remarkably small again. Where have all the leaders gone, I wonder? We covered Akia (that’s how you spell it apparently), Erato, Titanic and just for fun at the end, Roulette, the Rueda move.

Heard our first little scuttling noise from the ceiling tonight when we got home. First one in about four nights, but still disappointing. Stared to keep a record so we can pursue the issue (and the rodents) further.

Tomorrow we go visit Andrew in Falkirk.

Just another Manic Monday – 7 January 2019

Back in the old routine.

Scamp had Gems coming today and we were off to Salsa in the evening. In between it was pasta for dinner. Looks like the festivities are over and it’s back to the old routine.

Since Gems were coming, I decided I’d make a sharp exit and go for a walk along the canal, then back along the railway path, but not before I could check Margie’s homework. Her attempt at two point perspective was very good indeed. I think she has a fairly good grasp of it now. She wanted to go back over one point and I did that with her, but also showed her three point perspective, which is the least intuitive, but easiest to learn if you stick to the rules. Margie, by the way is over 80, but a quick and patient learner.

After today’s drawing lesson I drove down to Auchinstarry and parked at the now closed Boat House restaurant. I don’t see anyone rushing to buy up this failed fine dining establishment, but when they do, I’m afraid I’ll lose my parking place for a walk along the canal.

Walked into the teeth of a westerly gale. It wasn’t pleasant and there were no ducks or geese to photograph all along its length. They were probably tucked up in the reeds somewhere waiting for it to blow over. The wind was blowing in squally showers and then the sun would come out and shine from a blue sky, but it was still cold.  Spoke to one man walking his dog and didn’t see anyone else until I came back to Auchinstarry again. Today’s PoD is of a Cladonia lichen growing from an old rotting fencepost. Apparently lichen are a sign of clean air. So says Margie’s son who is an arboriculturist. There’s a nice little link there!

Back home via Tesco to post the final lot of calendars to their recipients, and then home to make Spaghetti Carbonara, otherwise known as “White Spaghetti”. Then it was time to get ready for Salsa. When I opened the drawer to get my shirt, I marvelled at the neatly stacked shirts I’d folded and arranged in the morning. That bloody Japanese woman is infiltrating this house with her tidying techniques! I thought you were supposed to start with your sock drawer.

Very few men tonight, two girls to each man in the Rueda. Scamp and Irene danced as leaders to even out the numbers. No new moves, but going over recent moves like Akea, not to be confused with IKEA, and Setenta e Cinco Moderno. Good fun.

Tomorrow we are intending driving to IKEA, not to be confused with the salsa move Akea. We are looking for something that will help to tidy my sock drawer!!