A wild, windy and wet day – 23 February 2021

That’s quite enough alliteration for today thank you very much.

Despite the hammering rain and the wind, Scamp wanted to go for a walk down to the shops because we were running short on fruit. It wasn’t so bad when we were out, until we realised we had the wind at our back, but on the way home it was literally in our face. I’d thought I might take a detour through St Mo’s on the way back, but I decided that was not the thing to do in the rain, and besides we were carrying two bags of messages and my detour would have left Scamp with both, so we just went home.

I did go out a short while later when the rain stopped. The rain might have stopped, but the wind felt worse and unbelievably I was almost blown off my feet. Scamp keeps on telling me I’m getting thin and I just laugh, but maybe this once she’s right. I’ll have to stock up on steak pies and fish suppers to increase my BMI and lower my centre of gravity. I took a few photos, but nothing really stood out. Luckily I’d taken the opportunity of a grab shot on my way out. I’d seen this little dog’s collar with the red bow a few days ago and meant to get a photo. I did today and it became PoD. The rest of the shots were almost all out of focus. I was all for sending the lens back, but then relented because with the weather conditions we’re having, it’s hardly a fair test of the lens’ ability. I’ve got 30 days to make up my mind.

Spoke to Hazy later in the day and it seems that they are settling in to their ‘new’ place quite well. No activity from any river dwelling spirits yet though. If that means nothing to you, try reading the Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch

Tonight Scamp got her jag. Same one as me, Astra Zeneca. So hopefully that will take some of the stress out of life for a while. Boris the Bungler made his Roadmap out of Lockdown public yesterday and Nic the Chick made her proclamation today. A couple of nice wee sarcastic jags of her own at the London Lad. Also a more sensible and cautious path out for Scotland. I don’t really mind how long it takes (within reason), just as long as it works.

Today’s prompt was “Miami” and I couldn’t think what to do for it. I finally settled on Miami Vice, the ’80s version of Crocket and Tubbs. Drew a machine vice and put a Miami logo on it. Don’t tell anyone, but if you look carefully you’ll see that I spelt Miami wrong! Twice! I could have altered it digitally in the photo but an eraser was quicker in the end!  The Palomino Blackwing pencils are really soft.  They must be about a 6B and it takes very little to smear them all over the page.  That’s why it looks so dirty.

Tomorrow seems like a re-run of today, if slightly calmer. We may go for a walk somewhere, or we may not. I’ve baking to do.

Here be dragons – 7 August 2020

There wasn’t much to say about today other than it was a good day for dragonflies.

Scamp went shopping in the afternoon, in the huff because the rain came on this morning, just after we spoke to Hazy on the phone and heard about the predicted temperature down south. 35ºc is just too hot. We were all agreed on that. Maybe it was the thought of 35ºc down south and rain here that made her go off on a shopping expedition to Tesco. I stayed home and did nothing. I’m quite good at that now.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk in St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which is an ultra close-up of a Common Darter dragonfly. Beautiful beast and quite deadly to other insects. This one was quite unconcerned and waited for me to finish my thirty odd shots of it before it flew away and I went home to make the dinner.

Actually I was desperate to see how the combination of an excellent lens and a clever camera had managed to combine 11 photos of the dragonfly into one much more detailed one. It was almost perfect and all done in about ten seconds. It might be quite an old camera now, but it can certainly beat a lot of more modern ones at this stuff.

When I got home the residual heat in the air had dried the grass and Scamp wasted no time in getting the lawn mower out and giving it a short trim. Meanwhile I sat in the garden with a cafe freddo (espresso over ice) and watched the bloke next door building something. He’s always building something. This one looked like a hexagonal pyramid, but we think it’s a gazebo to hold his jacuzzi. Last week he had a cloth gazebo to cover it, today it’s a metal framed one. Like Scamp says, it doesn’t intrude in us and I suppose it gives him something to sail his boats in.

Dinner was a hybrid. We got a sourdough pizza dough last week and today we used that pre-kneaded and already part risen dough to make the base of a pizza. It worked, kind of. The pizza was ok, but a bit tough, as a lot of sourdough breads are, but it was quite doughy in the middle. I think mine are better and Scamp agrees.

Phoned the nice man in Stirling this morning and hopefully we’re off there tomorrow for a test drive and to ask a few questions. Let’s see what the Micra has to offer.

The Men in Red – 11 February 2020

Today we went to the tower. Luckily we came back again.

Walk to the station. Train to Wimbledon (no Wombles again!). Underground to Earls Court. Change train for Tower Hill, and we’re there. Tower of London awaits.

Walked to the ticket office and got our tickets, concessions of course. Had our bags searched and joined the crowd for the first of many interesting and really entertaining bloodthirsty stories of the tower’s chequered history told by the Yeoman Warder in his black and red uniform (Don’t dare call it a costume!). Beheadings, stranglings, hangings and interments, they were all laid out in their gory glory. It was great fun. The only problem was the wind. It stole away any warmth in the sun and nearly blew away our Yeoman Warder’s hat. Poor bloke must have been chilled to the bone having to stand there and give his talks.

After our 45 minute tour we went in search of some coffee and possibly some soup to warm us. It was tomato and basil soup and it was very welcome. Next Scamp wanted to see the Crown Jewels. Now I’m not entirely convinced that what we saw were the actual Crown Jewels, but they were certainly impressive. As well as the Crowns, lots of them, Sceptres another bucket load and a cardboard box of Orbs, there were platters, plates, punch bowls (one big enough to use as a bath) and assorted cutlery and tableware. All behind glass and looking splendid, but how would I a non-expert be able to tell if they were real or fake? I reckon the real stuff is in a vault somewhere guarded by a dozen big Alsatians and a battalion of the SAS. The vault itself is on an island with a moat infested with crocodiles and the Loch Ness Monster’s wee brother. That’s where I’d put the Crown Jewels, not in a glass box for every Tom, Dick and Harry to gawp at. They weren’t even in the Tower itself. They were in a building across the road. The Tower is used to display all the guns, swords and assorted weaponry from down the ages. Interesting, but pointless these days. (Note: Some of the swords were definitely NOT pointless. They had very real points.). It was the tower that provided the PoD.

When we’d had our fill of riches and weapons and been told all the blood-thirsty stories, we took the trains back to Hazy’s and dinner. It was good to be somewhere warm after all that freezing wind.

Today’s prompt was ‘Burn’. My take on it was burning the candle at both ends. We all do it. We all think we’re getting away with it, but sooner or later, that plan of action will catch up with us.

London – 7 February 2020

Today we were going to the Tower of London, except …

When we’d walked the mile or so to the train station I realised that neither of us had the details that Neil had so kindly typed up for us. Time for a change of plan.

We’d still go in to London, but instead of visiting the Tower we’d go for a wander and find somewhere new to visit. To start with we’d find a coffee shop. Not as easy as you’d think in London. Loads of coffee shops, but none where I’d deign to actually drink their coffee. Eventually we found Westminster Bridge and along from that we found St James’ Park which looked promising on another beautiful bright sunny day. Loads of other folk seemed to find it interesting too and most of them were Italian or French or Spanish it seemed. Hundreds of them, maybe even thousands, and all of them were watching the pelicans or having their photo taken with them. Pelicans in London? According to Wikipedia ”Pelicans have been a feature of St James’s Park since 1664 when the Russian Ambassador presented them to King Charles II.” Who knew? Well, apart from Wikipedia.  A picture of a pelican made PoD

Further on, we went to look at Mrs McQueen’s big hoose, but I don’t think she was in. Either that or she was hiding from the hordes who were gazing intently through her railings hoping to catch a glimpse of somebody royal. Either that or they were waiting to see the changing of the guards. I don’t know why they’re changing them anyway, they seemed alright the last time I saw them on the TV. We walked back along the Mall and found a coffee shop in Waterstones where they sold a decent latte fro Scamp and some burnt water for me. Lovely Danish pastries though! After that we went to Covent Garden where we heard some dodgy opera singer and I got a tee shirt.

After searching for somewhere to eat we settled for a pub lunch. Macaroni and (a ton of) Cheese for Scamp and an apparently prize winning pie for me. The pie casing was lovely, as was the veg, but the meat was tough. Walked along the banks of the Thames and caught the train back. Maybe we’ll visit the Tower another day … with the directions!

Today’s topic was “Fly” and my take on it was a fly of the Dragon persuasion.

Tunnels and Trains – 5 February 2020

Goin’ down south to have a good time …

Out early(ish) for the taxi to the station for the train, then another train, walked for miles through underground tunnels, then another train. Climbed the stairs and missed the next train (as usual). Got the next one and then out of the station in a strange land. Started walking to the house. Discovered I’d lost my old brown bunnet somewhere. Oh no! Thought about going back, but where would it be? At the station? On one of the many trains? In a tunnel? At another station? Impossible to work out where, so resigned myself to the fact that we’d be separated forever. Hopefully someone who needed one would find it and give it a new head to keep warm.

Got to Hazy’s house after the long walk along, almost overtaking some of the cars stuck in what seems to be a perpetual traffic jam.

At Hazy’s we met Tilly the new cat and Penny the aloof matron. It was pizza for dinner tonight. A big 12” anchovy and olive for me while Hazy and Scamp shared a mushroom, peppers and anchovy one.

PoD was a grab shot, taken at Vauxhall. SoD topic was Dotty. Two ladybirds making more ladybirds was my take on the subject.

Fairly early to bed tonight after a long day of trains, tunnels and lost bunnets.

A day at the airies – 25 August 2018

Today we went to Brooklands Museum to see the airies and the cars, but mostly the airies!

During breakfast Scamp and Neil settled on Brooklands Museum as the place to visit today. I’d heard of Brooklands, the first car racing track in the UK. I didn’t know then it was the first dedicated car racing track in the world. Eat your heart out America, we were first. Hazy was going to spend the day resting, so she would be feel refreshed enough to go out tonight.

The trip to the museum only took the half hour Neil predicted and it was a lovely day again with blue sky and just a smidgin of clouds. We drove past Mercedes World where some posh people were scooting round a racetrack in equally posh Mercs. They even had water sprinklers spraying a piece of the track to provide a skid pan. However, that wasn’t our destination, you just had to drive round it to get to the museum. After the brash flash of Mercedes World, Brooklands looks a bit downmarket, but that just disguises the history that it holds.

First up was the Malcolm Campbell Shed with the really old cars that raced on the Brooklands circuit, then through the motor and pedal cycles section to the Formula 1 area. After that Neil left us to go and read in the cafe and we visited the airies. Big airies. The Sultan of Oman’s beautifully kitted out VC10, the BAC 1-11, the Viscount and the Vanguard. All passenger planes, all part of my growing up. It would take too much time (and be boring for you) to name them all, but it was a trip through time. PoD was the view dead on the nose of a Jetstream.

At the back of the Aircraft Park is the banked section of the race track. I climbed up part of it, almost two thirds of it, until it became too steep. Then I realised that in section it wasn’t a circular curve, but a parabolic curve and became incredibly steep the further you went. It’s an amazing thing to see and to think that those old solid wheeled cars in the museum raced around this track. If you can’t visit this place, Google it and be amazed.

Lunch was steak pasty with chips and veg for the boys and baked potato with tuna for Scamp. Then after a look at the inside airies and another climb of the banked track we headed for home. It was clouding over a bit by then, but not cold.

Out at night to an Indian restaurant with Canute and Delia. Delia looking great after her recent op. Food was good, service was poor and conversation was the usual D’Aguiar tennis match of seeing who could give the cheekiest answer to cause the most hilarity to all concerned. A great night, marred slightly by the noisy, and I mean NOISY bunch at an adjoining table. Why must some people shout at each other all the time? Are they all deaf or just stupid? Easy question.

Anyway, a good day and evening too.

Where the crows fly backwards – 24 August 2018

In Kingston on Thames today on the bus.

Went to a Nero for a coffee. Seemed to confuse the poor server with “Sitting in. A regular one shot, extra hot latte and a regular americano.” She replied “To take away or to have here.” I growled, “Sitting in, that’s what I said.” Probably took her too far off the script. The bloke next to me said “I’m surprised she understood you with that accent.” Hackles up! “Sorry, I couldn’t understand you with yours”, I replied. He just laughed and asked where I came from. I gave Scamp’s non committal reply “Just outside Glasgow”. Then he told me he came originally from Motherwell, but moved down to London when he was 21. Went to work at IBM. “But,” he said, “I was a smart bugger then”. I questioned the ‘was’ and he just said that brain cells deteriorate with age, then went on to explain all the medical problems he’d survived, finishing up by saying that he had a 6 year old sitting outside. I said “Good for you!” and he just laughed and said “It only took a minute.” Both us burst out laughing. Then he took his tray outside, stopping to have a word with Scamp. When we were leaving, I tapped him on the shoulder and told him I originally came from Larkhall. “Oh my God.” he said “Where the crows fly backwards!” I don’t know when I last heard that one. Probably when I was at school. Wished him good day and he did the same then we went on our way.

Wandered round the town looking for a coffee shop that Neil had told us about where you could buy coffee beans. Finally gave up the search and went for a walk along the river on a breezy day with bright blue skies and a few white clouds overhead. Sat for a while and sketched a bit of the river and the boats moored by the path while Scamp remarked on the variety of boats on the river. Big boats, small boats, a wooden scull and a full paddle steamer. Finally gave up when I realised that the sketchbook wasn’t going to take the watercolour paint, it just sort of beaded on the surface.

Went for lunch in a wee cafe selling home made quiche and vegetarian food served with healthy looking salad. I had Salmon Quiche and Scamp had Veg Lasagne. Both of us tried each others, but both settled on our own as the better option. My side of Sweet Potato with Chilli and Kidney Beans was delicious. Walked on to Bentalls where Scamp found a set of four glasses to replace or augment ones we have at home. One of which is missing. I went to the Apple shop to try to find out how to get Apple Care, but I think it should be renamed Apple Doesn’t Care. They don’t seem to want to sell it, telling me that I’d have to bring my computer in to the store so the ‘experts’ could check it over first before they’ll allow me to give them money. No thank you Apple, that’s not how it works. It looks to me as if they are only interested in selling you Apple hardware and aren’t interested in after sales service.

We did eventually find the coffee shop, but neither of us were that impressed with their coffee and at £8.50 for 250g it was just a little over the top. Also over the top was the nearly £15 I paid for a G ’n’ T and a pint of IPA. Admittedly it was a double G, but £15 for two drinks? What is it with London prices. Blame Brexit.

Bus back to the house and Neil was on dinner duty, making Spicy Prawn Risotto. We have now got the recipe!! Pudding was Vienetta. Something we haven’t had for years. Watched another film, Victoria and Abdul which was quite funny.

Today’s PoD was taken under the bridge over the Thames. I just liked the patterns.

Tomorrow Neil is taking us somewhere if his viral infection is not too bad. Not sure where yet.

One in the bag? What bag? – 23 August 2018

Another early rise!

Up at 6.15am after about 4.5 hours sleep. Taxi came at 7am and a driver from Pakistan took us to the airport an kept us entertained with stories of a gay breakup, the current weather in Pakistan and the expectations of a new era under a new political leader. Unfortunately the new era was in Pakistan, not Brexit shackled UK. His flow of consciousness ended with an exhortation to try an automatic drive car next time. “You’ll never go back to manual”, he said.

Had a coffee in Caledonian at the airport. Possibly the worst run restaurant in Glasgow, if not the world. Today we were served promptly, but others were complaining loudly and getting nowhere. When it came to paying, nobody wanted to take our money. There were some dazed looking servers going around doing anything but serve. Really, giving somebody a credit card machine isn’t enough. You have to teach them how to use them and also how to respond to a customer trying to catch your eye. Eventually Scamp had to go to the bar and pay there. All this on a really quiet weekday. Heaven knows what it will be like at a busy weekend in the summer. Caledonian, there is a difference between laid back and totally unconscious.

Bumpy flight down to Londinium, but a nice gentle, controlled landing into rainy Gatwick. Sitting in the airport bus I saw the PoD. Wide angle shot of the plane from just under the port wingtip. Only had time for one grab shot. One in the bag.

Inside the terminal, we wandered around the car park until we eventually found directions to the Express Pick Up hidden round a corner behind the lifts. Just got there as Neil was drawing into a parking space. He drove us back to the house in their new (manual drive) car. Very comfortable and a nice array of ‘tronics in it. Listened to an interesting Spotify playlist Pop goes Classical. It’s now on my list too.

Lunch was pizza (for me, I forget what everyone else had) at a garden centre near the house. We’d been there before and that’s how I knew to order pizza. Small, thin with good toppings. Lovely.

Came home and found that the photo I’d taken at the airport wasn’t on the card! The bag was empty. Took some photos of the figs growing in the front garden, but the actual PoD was a shot of Mal sleeping on Hazy’s bed.

The early rise was beginning to catch up with me. I went for a snooze before dinner and what was dinner? It was take away pizza. Not as good, in my opinion, as the one in the garden centre, but it was a Domino’s and it had anchovies in it. Why don’t we get them in Cumbersheugh? Maybe they don’t travel well. We watched Moana, another Disney film. We are reverting to our childhood.

May go to Kingston tomorrow.

Another airport, another flight – 1 May 2017

In the morning, we went for a walk round the golf course along from the house.  It was raining on and off as we walked through the woodland, but because we were walking through trees, there were plenty of places to shelter.  Labyrinth again became the word of the day.  There are so many paths through the woodland all crossing and re-crossing, it’s difficult to work out where you are going and where you’ve been.  We got ourselves lost a couple of times, but then Genghis Pathfinder chose a path I wouldn’t have chosen, but it lead back to the golf clubhouse.  Unfortunately, by the time we got there the rain was fairly heavy and there was no point in stopping for a coffee as all the inside seats were taken and not even the hardiest of smokers was risking the downpour at the outside seating.  We found our way back to the road and from there, back to the house.

ND suggested that we all go to a garden centre for lunch.  I didn’t recognise the route, but I did recognise the pizza stand and remembered that the pizzas were good indeed, but the waiting time was 25 mins and that was too long.  I chose instead to have sausage and beans with potato wedges.  It was an excellent choice.  Got some kale seeds and some spinach.  Scamp got a square of washable table cover.

All too soon, it was time it go.  Just had time to repack the bags and case and we were off to the airport again.  Seems like only yesterday we were getting picked up there.  Poor ND had to drive through torrential rain to get there, but as usual, he didn’t complain.

Case has now been dropped off and we’re through security although they did want to search my tablet separately.  I don’t know what was wrong with it.  Now I’m sitting in the departures lounge writing this up and whiling away the couple of hours until we go in the big metal tube in the sky.

The three did feed the deer – 29 April 2017

We were supposed to be going to a market this morning, but the plans were changed and we went to Kingston instead.  Not a big problem for us as we both like that place by the Thames.

While ND and Hazy went off to look for shoes, Scamp and I wandered round the labyrinth (this weekend’s word) of shops and alleys, agreeing to meet the other two back at the car in a couple of hours time.  It was getting near that time when we exited one alleyway to find ND and Hazy at the end.  Serendipity.  Lunch was eaten in the open air at the market in the centre of the town.  Scamp had Chicken Biryani and I had Achari Chicken.  I also found an Italian food stall selling cannoli (not e to self – find a recipe) and bought some.  Unfortunately, Hazy has a severe egg allergy and can’t eat cannoli which have a lot of eggs in them.  We can.  We did.  Headed back home and let Hazy rest while we went to Richmond Park.  We went to see the deer, but not feed them, despite the title of today’s blog.  However when we got the parking place, we wandered round the Isabella Plantation, one of the fenced off gardens, instead.  It was a good choice for Scamp because the azaleas were in full bloom and a good choice for ND and I because of the variety of photo opportunities.  When we had ooh’d and ah’d our fill in the Isabella, we took a walk round the woods and chanced on a couple of herds of deer.  Unlike the St Mo’s deer, these creatures were quite happy to sit or stand around having their photos taken.  Our exertions deserved an ice cream cone each and then we went home taking the long route round the extensive park.

Dinner tonight was ND’s Spanish Rice with Chicken and Prawns – got that recipe.   Then we watched Fantastic Beasts, the Harry Potter spinoff.  I must admit, I was lost halfway through, but did enjoy the CGI.  After a while I began to believe what I was watching was real.

Tomorrow we are having a lazy day and going to Canute and Delia’s for lunch.