Out for coffee, out for coffee – 13 October 2021

Scamp was off to Tim Horton’s for coffee with Jeanette. I was out for coffee with Fred in Costa.

It did cross my mind that, as we were both meeting our respective friends at around the same time, what if we crossed over and I went for coffee with Jeanette and Scamp went to meet Fred? Not there’s a thought to start today’s blog! Just let that sit in your head for a while and consider the implications.

But we kept things the way they had been planned just so we wouldn’t scare the horses, or the friends. Fred and I did our usual. We compared the sketches we’d done recently and then talk turned to books we’d both read. After that the conversation took a wander down memory land with Fred telling stories about Glasgow in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Some of it seemed familiar, but not a lot. I was still living in Larkhall then and he was somewhere around Cranhill. We could have crossed paths back then, but I doubt it. I got the feeling he was clock watching today, eager to get back home before his wife returned from her early morning visit.

I bought a loaf, a couple of squashes and a flatbread semi-pizza. I thought I’d turn the squashes into a pot of soup and the flatbread with the soup would make a fairly decent dinner. That would allow yesterday’s Steak ’n’ Kidney to go into the freezer to be discovered at a later date for a surprise, easy dinner for one carnivore.

After Scamp returned and we’d had lunch, she left to post a birthday card and I started the prep of the squashes. I don’t know why they call them squashes. They were almost impossible to cut in half, let alone squash! Eventually I did get them peeled and chopped. Then I fried the onions and assorted soupy veg before I added the stock and said squashes. Boiled it then let it simmer for half an hour before blitzing it. Meanwhile, Scamp had returned from the exploration of darkest Condorrat and was starting to make a Lemon Drizzle cake. I, on the other hand, with my soup resting, went for a walk in St Mo’s with the A7ii and a selection of lenses.

On the way there I grabbed a low level shot of leaves on the path that follows the road through and avenue of trees. I quite liked the effect. One in the bag. I saw a woman who was walking her dogs (everyone walks dogs in St Mo’s – I must get myself one. Not a real one, just a little pull along one. Less mess and no vet’s bills.) Anyway, this woman was photographing the sky, then I saw why. The sky was filled with lovely Mare’s Tail clouds. I grabbed a few of those too.

PoD was taken on the Bee Seat in the park. It’s a broken snail’s shell with no sign of the snail. Probably lunch for a hungry starling or thrush. Of course the photo had originally been two images that had gone separately through Lightroom, were joined together in Photoshop, then returned to Lightroom before I was happy with the finished shot. But I was happy with it, that’s why it is PoD!

Back home and the baking was still progressing with a lot of huffing and puffing about the wrong kind of butter, or something. Later when we ate the offending article I couldn’t care what kind of butter it should have been made with, it was simply delicious and I don’t even like lemons.

The soup was a bit sweet and also a bit thin. It will probably be better tomorrow. The semi-pizza was just ok. A bit dry Scamp suggested and I agreed. However, it and the sweet soup filled a wee space as we say.

Sketch prompt for today was Roof. Roof of the mouth? Roof of a house? Probably the worst prompt so far this Inktober. I chose to draw the four most common types of roof I know. Flat roof, Mono pitch, Gable and Hipped. They are done and have had a wee splash of watercolour to brighten them up.

Tomorrow we’re intending driving to Gorbals for a tea dance.

Just another Sunday – 10 October 2021

It was sunny when we woke, but soon the clouds rolled in to dull things down again.

Scamp had done some washing in the morning and had hung it out too dry. That’s when the rain started. We guessed it was probably just a passing shower and put our coats on to go to the shops in search of some food for dinner. A chicken was to be the centrepiece with soup to start, the “Just Soup” from Friday and anything else we could find in the way of veg to fill the empty spaces on the plate. We came back with more than the bare essentials, but that’s always the case with us.

By the time we got back home all signs of rain had disappeared and lunch was on the menu. After we’d watched Andrew Marr take apart another Tory politician, I got dressed for the outdoors and took the Sony A7ii and the big heavy Sigma lens out for a walk. My target today was to be spiders, but I got sidetracked by the variety and quantity of fungi growing in and on the woods. It’s so easy just to shoot from a standing position, but much more interesting to shoot from the level of your quarry. I even went one better and shot from below one bunch of mushrooms. It wasn’t until I got the shot home I found the spider sheltering under the umbrella canopy of the mushroom, because it was raining again. Smart place to sit and keep dry while tending your web, if you’re an arachnid. That photo made PoD. It also ticked the box for completing my target!

After dinner and Scamp’s excellent pudding of Lime and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. I doodled my answer to today’s prompt “Pick”. Remember, you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose. A maxim to live by. It was only a doodle, but I couldn’t be bothered copying it into the official ‘concertina’ sketch book, so it stayed where it was on my Paperchase roughing sketch book.

We watched an interesting tactical race for the Turkish F1 GP. Good to see Bottas take the win and put Hamilton in his place for a change. The poor Fin has played second fiddle for too long.

After that we spoke to Jamie and were a bit put out when he told us that it was warm down south and he and Sim were sitting its the garden yesterday. We could have sat in the garden too, but we’d have ended up with a heavy cold after it. This country of Great Britain is ill divided at times.

No plans for Monday. Weather looks as if it will be much the same as today.

Coffee at last – 30 September 2021

We were taking Isobel with us to Costa

Picked up Isobel in the village and drove to Costa where I met Val. Surprise, Surprise, Costa had coffee. Real coffee, not instant and not filter, but barista made coffee. Conversation between Val and I ranged over the usual wide range of subjects, tech subjects and photography subjects admittedly, but what else would you expect from us?

During the discussions I must have missed the email that had arrived to tell me when DPD were delivering my parcel. We drove Isobel home, Val was meeting his wife at Tesco, and then Scamp and I went to Calders to get some snowdrop bulbs. Unluckily for us the HGV drivers hadn’t been to Calders and there were no snowdrop bulbs to be had. I think half of Cumbersheugh must have been panic buying them during the week. It was while we were at Calders that I found the email and the second one to say that they hadn’t been able to deliver it because there was nobody in! I wasn’t in the best mood after that, but we drove to Tesco to get food for tonight and tomorrow’s dinner.

Drove home and went in the huff for most of the afternoon. The only thing that brightened my afternoon and brought me out from under my black cloud was a phone call from Hazy. Found out about the goings on down Epsom way. Good to hear that Grannie is in much better spirits, and yes, I will try to get the recipe for the bread to you soon. By the way, I don’t know if I said Hazy, but I used a credit from Audible to download Entangled Life and am quite addicted to Mr Sheldrake’s soporific voice reading his book to me. Also it means I don’t have to try to work out how to pronounce those big sciency words! I like that it’s a Jamie and Hazy collaboration.

After we’d finished talking to Hazy I discovered that my phone had received a message to say that I could now collect my DPD parcel from Matalan at The Shops. Jacket on, because it had been raining on and off all day, made sure I had the QR code on my phone screen and that I had photo ID. I’m going to a shop. I have to wear a face mask in a shop. What good is photo ID? They can only really see my bloodshot eyes! Anyway, I picked up then parcel containing a Sony 50mm f2.8 macro lens that weighs about a third of the weight of the Sigma 105mm f2.8 macro lens I’ve already got. There was almost no useful light to test it with tonight, but the few photos I took look like it was worth the money … and the wait.

Scamp was busy all afternoon making ice cream and yet another Swiss Roll. The ice cream is now in the freezer and the Swiss Roll has its chocolate ganache coat on and is in the fridge.

Today’s PoD is one of Scamp’s Lisianthus cut flowers, not to be confused with Lissajous which is a figure I met on an oscilloscope many years ago and nothing like the flower.

Tomorrow we are having Crawford and Nancy for dinner, so lots of prep to be done, which probably explains the ice cream and Swiss Roll.

Out for a walk – 21 September 2021

Today looked like being the best day this week, so we planned a walk.

Every time we passed Devilla forest near Kincardine we promised ourselves that we’d go for a walk in the woods. That’s where we headed today. The weather was a bit breezier and duller than we’d expected, but Scamp filled the flask and packed some biscuits so we wouldn’t starve. New boots were packed in the car and off we went.

By the time we were crossing the Kincardine Bridge into Fife, the sky was clearing and it was looking quite hopeful. Arrived at the car park which was less than half full. One of the benefits of going there on a weekday. Weekends are fairly busy. Got dressed for the walk and after a cursory glance at the map we headed off in the general direction of Peppermill Dam. Signposting is pretty hit and miss in this Forestry Commission (or Forestry and Land Scotland as it’s now known) land and the uncompacted hardcore underfoot on the main paths is treacherous to walk on. Once we were on the smaller paths near the dam the walking was much easier and we found quite a few mushrooms for me to photograph. Wandered on and found our way back to the car park with the aid of the OS app. We needed it because of the scarcity of signposts. All in all the Devilla of today needs a good makeover. The hardcore tracks are an accident waiting to happen and labelling them as “Cycle paths” must have been done by someone who hasn’t been on a bike this century. Also, people want signs to show where they are and how to get to the interesting sights in the forest. Such a shame.

Back home, I reckoned I had enough photos of mushrooms, toadstools and scenery to make a PoD and started on the seemingly never ending task of filling in the blanks of the blog. Scamp was champing at the bit to get both front and back grass cut, possibly egged on my Jamie’s comment of making the last cut of his grass while we were down in Cumbria. I helped a bit with some gentle strimming and also shifting the flower tubs in the front garden.

Dinner tonight was Beetroot Falafels from Jamie and Sim’s recipe. They tasted ok, but the star attraction was the roasted beetroot chunks. Sweet and utterly delicious.

Tomorrow Scamp is off out to lunch with the now disbanded Gems. I may paint, because the weather looks wet.

Dancing first, then IKEA – 4 September 2021

Saturday is dancing day and as we almost pass IKEA on the way home it made sense to visit the yellow and blue store.

Dancing started with the Bellissima Cha Cha which we know fairly well and can dance with a fair degree of confidence. That’s what we did. It wasn’t perfect, but it was done with confidence which is sometimes the same thing. Next was the Foxtrot which we agreed was becoming a lot smoother. I’m not sure the teachers would entirely agree with that, but it felt that way to us. For the break in the middle it was the Rumba One which is a gentle bit of fluff danced as a sequence and apparently everyone was on the same beat for once. Next was waltz and we were told we were making things too difficult for ourselves, but we were trying to emulate the teachers in the video they sent us. We both agreed today wasn’t the time to say that, so we just kept quiet. Finally it was a Cha Cha line dance. Something I’d have baulked at before, but now I find I can do quite happily … as long as I’m not at the front! Good class, lots of stuff learned. No class next week as the teachers are off to Tenerife for a week in the sun, lucky people.

IKEA is on the way home so we stopped off there for re-sealable poly bags, a photo frame or two and some cheap serviettes that I use when painting watercolour as blotting paper if I overload my brush. Just useable stuff today and we whizzed through the checkout without a problem. We even managed to use a couple of shortcuts to save the “Yellow Brick Road” that we used to have to follow. Back to home.

After lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s, but I’m beginning to get jaded with it. I’m looking for some open spaces to photograph. Some interesting landscapes with dappled sunlight. That’s not too much to ask for is it? Perhaps it is with rain forecast for tomorrow. We did have some drizzle today, but it was really just the edge of a cloud and didn’t come too much. PoD was a little Garden Cross spider on a web that looked like the high wire at the circus. The strange thing was it looked as if it had a larva of some kind on its abdomen. I’ve asked for help identifying it on Flickr.

That was about it for the first Saturday in September. We’ve both downloaded our QR codes to our phones to prove our vaccination status, although I read this morning that already it’s been shown that it can be hacked and the details changed. After the Scottish Government paying a reputed £600,000 for a Dutch company to create the code. I did think that was a fairly cheap price for the work that would be involved. It’s a true saying “if you pay peanuts you must expect monkeys.”

Holding our hands out tomorrow, expecting rain. Not sure if it will reach down as far south as us, but the highlands need the rain too.

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.

Dancing and cakes and more dancing – 28 August 2021

The dancing on a Saturday is obvious, the cakes, maybe not so, nor the more dancing. Hopefully this will help

We drove through the usual Saturday morning traffic to the dance class in Bridge of Weir and on the way in, picked up a loaf and a chocolate muffin. These, and many other offerings are given away free every week. It’s still not clear, yet who provides them, but they are all nearing the end of their Best Before date and are free to a good home. Last week it was a cheese loaf – which tasted better than it sounds – and doughnuts. It’s a little sweetener (no pun intended) for the rigours of the dance class.

Today we started the class with a Saunter Together. At one time this was my most despised dance, now it’s just another sequence dance. Next up was Foxtrot which we thought we’d put to bed last night, but the teachers found various defects in the routine that we’ll try to remember how to fix in the coming days, all being well. Next, just to give our head a chance to assimilate that information, was the Bossa Nova danced to Iko Iko, a song we’ve been trying to remember since the last time we danced to it a fortnight ago. Then I was time for the Waltz and we are rank beginners at this. We only know the simplest form of Stewart and Jane’s version and even then we were making mistakes. The expression “Every day is a school day” was never truer then today! Finally we danced the Valentino Jive which we learned on a cruise ship in a different world, where masks were for Halloween and a vaccination was something you got when you were going on holiday to a far away country. That was a tough morning’s work, for us and probably for the teachers too.

Back home and with our heads clearing a bit after information overload, we had lunch. After that, I went for a walk in St Mo’s, in the sunshine while Scamp tidied up the kitchen and listened to some music. There was very little life about, certainly no animal life and very little insect activity … or so it seemed at first. Macro is such a strange land. I though I was taking a photo of a dandelion parachute which ended up out of focus or blurred because of the breeze but in the corner and reasonably sharp was a battle between a spider and what looked like a tick. I hope the spider won. PoD, however went to wild raspberry fruit. Just the one and a nicely translucent too.

After dinner, which was an instant curry from M&S, simply because we didn’t have very much time to cook today, we got ready to go to a 50th birthday party. We were surprised when Jacqui invited us to her birthday party in The Savings Bank in Glasgow. We’d planned it all out yesterday. Drive in to Concert Square car park, walk down to Buchanan Street subway and get a train to Bridge Street then walk to the venue. For once it worked like clockwork. The place wasn’t too busy when we got there and we snaffled two seats beside Jim Brown. In the time we were there we met loads of folk who used to go to Salsa. Sat and talked to a few of them and even got to dance … SALSA!! First time in ages we’ve danced salsa on a dance floor. Not a living room floor! I did manage to spill half a glass of non-alcoholic beer over Scamp’s lovely dress. I’m not sure I’ll be able to live that down, but apart from that we had a great time and left just after 10.30pm, in time to miss the subway train and had to wait the interminable 10 Minutes until the next one.  Even got a parking place back home.  Some special wee God was looking after us tonight.  Thank you.

Tomorrow we have no plans, except to have a long hot shower to ease those long forgotten muscles we’ve used tonight!

Out for coffee with Margie – 19 August 2021

But before that, there was the problem of petrol.

Drove up to Tesco to check if my credit card would work with what I thought was my PIN, after the debacle with another of my cards last week. If it did, I was intending to bring back a loaf and get petrol. It did and I got the loaf, unfortunately the petrol station was under reconstruction which was annoying because that’s why I’d gone to Tesco in the first place. However, I’d just have to go back to BP on my way home, which is what I did. Bought £40 worth of that liquid gold which according to my dashboard computer would cover me for just over 400 miles. That got me doing some quick mental arithmetic while I was driving home (who says men can’t multitask?) that meant a quid would get me roughly 10 miles of travel and that’s before you consider Road Tax, Insurance and depreciation. Maybe I should start cycling everywhere instead.

However, if Scamp and I were taking Margie out to Torwood Garden Centre for coffee and a cake, I’d need a tandem with a little two wheeled buggy behind for Margie if I was to change to the eco-friendly method of travel. I put the though aside to suggest it to Scamp at a later date – Oops, too late, it’s out of the bag now!

We picked up Margie (in the car) and drove to Torwood. While I parked the car, the ladies went in and found us a table. It was a great afternoon. We talked about loads of things and I was pleased that she included Tarri in the conversation, but in a realistic, matter of fact way. She is a very practical woman, Margie. After coffee and a scone each we went for a walk round the plants. I could see that Scamp was casting a searching eye over various flower pots and their contents. I think we may be making a return journey to the Garden Centre soon.

While we had been in Torwood, Scamp had asked one of the gardeners how to deal with her ailing 35 year old blackcurrant bush and had been told to prune it to open it out and also to clear away all the leaves from the ground underneath the plant. That made some sense to us and she got started when we got back. We’d dropped Margie off at her house on the way. While she was hard at work with that, I started to pin up our new fairy lights to the fence. They seem to work and are lit as I write this.

With that done, I left her to pruning and dead-heading and took the Sony out for a walk in St Mo’s. There wasn’t much to see on a day that had dulled down a lot from its promising start earlier in the day. Lots of flies on knapweed and one of them achieved PoD. I was trying out lots of different tricks and tips to make the Sony focus more accurately. I don’t know if the problem is with the lens or with the camera or, more likely, a bit of both.

Another practise session tonight trying to make sense of the Melody Foxtrot sequence dance. It must be one of the most complicated and totally useless dance sequences designed by humans. I think after about a dozen walk throughs we have a fair idea how it works (famous last words!). We also covered the second half of the Foxtrot sequence without anyone falling out with anyone else and almost no swearing.

Tomorrow we may attempt to drive to Hamilton, just for a laugh … and a curry.