Preparations – 27 May 2022

One day’s rest and back to preparations again.

More washing in the morning. Thankfully, Scamp took charge of that. Then a fruitless walk for her over to Condorrat looking for roses. We have our own roses, but they are either too big or not quite opened yet, so not suitable for today’s task. Finally gave in and had lunch. Scamp’s attempt at making Crimpets with plain brown bread was a bit of a disaster. Maybe they weren’t pressed enough. Maybe they don’t work with ordinary bread. Maybe there was just a little bit too much filling. Whatever the reason, the Crimpet came apart in the toaster and it took a bit of jiggery pokery with a knife (the toaster was unplugged) to get the remains of the Crimpet out. Inedible was the word that sprang to mind. Glad I had nothing to do with it this time.

After lunch Scamp started the ironing and the first item to receive a pressing was my kilt. A kilt is a heavy garment and it took two of us, one manoeuvring it around the ironing board and the other applying the steam iron to get the creases out from where they shouldn’t be while leaving the creases in where they should. It didn’t take that long and the result once she was finished was amazing. Then I spent half an hour trying to work out how and where to put the kilt pin. It’s a fiddly little thing with a lock that doesn’t lock. I think I’ve got it sorted with a tiny bit of black electrical tape. The whole thing looks so much better now.

While Scamp started on the bulk of the ironing, I took the camera for a walk around St Mo’s. Once round the pond and a wander into the woods before I took a walk down behind St Mo’s school and found today’s PoD which is a Flag Iris just about ready to burst into the sunlight. The real reason I was walking this path was to go to the shops looking for roses. White ones or pink ones were on today’s list, so I got both just in case I chose the wrong ones, as is my wont.

Back home it was time for dinner which today was Scamp’s macaroni cheese with streaky bacon on mine. Toasting hot and delicious as usual. The wind that had been gusting all day had calmed down by evening, thank goodness. This is really strange weather for May.

Tomorrow we’re intending to take a run to Hamilton and perhaps a little further.

Tidying up loose ends – 16 May 2022

Lots of stuff to do yet, but it’s getting clearer what’s needed and what’s not.

It was a wet morning and Scamp was out to Tesco, which gave me a chance to tidy up the back bedroom and clear a space to work on. When she came back the settee was cleared and ready.

To save time we just drove to The Fort. We were parked right next to another blue Micra. Exactly the same model and style. Twins! I wanted a book at Waterstones and she was looking for cards and gift boxes for yesterday’s gifts. I hate that work, ‘gift’. It’s so lacking in definition and emotion. I’d much rather say ‘Prezzy’, but I don’t suppose you can go into a shop and ask “Where do you keep the Prezzy boxes, please?” So that vanilla word, ‘gift’ will have to do. In Waterstones I managed to find both the books I was considering, sitting on the rack next to one another, so I bought both. One with a gift voucher (there’s that word again. I’ll call it a book token next time) and one with real money. The books were “May God Forgive” and “Bad Actors”. Met Scamp on the way back from the book shop and we drove home.

Back home it was lunch time and also time for a couple of chapters in my new Robert Pobi book “Under Pressure”which looks like another page turner. (Hazy, I don’t know if Neil has read this one, it’s the next in the sequence after “City of Windows”. Maybe you could mention to him.) I gave myself a limit of reading until 2.30 and then I had to start sorting things out after. I ended up with the settee covered again with clothes ready to go into cases. After I’d done all I could do, I grabbed a camera and two lenses and walked over to St Mo’s, hoping for some damselflies again, but there were none. The rain from the morning had disappeared and it was actually quite warm. Much warmer that the 10ºc we had going in to The Fort. I did find a big spider tending its web just by the side of the boardwalk and it became PoD. Not much light though, because those heavy rain bearing clouds were still hung overhead, so I took that as a sign to take my lucky spider shots and go home.

Dinner tonight was a bit of a mix up. Boiled some spaghetti, then cut some shallots and red pepper thin and fried them in some oil before adding some passata. While it was cooking through, griddled some slices of courgettes, aubergines and mushrooms in my ribbed pan. When the pasta was cooked I added it to the sauce and served the veg as a side. It was different and it seemed to work. This chapter is a reminder to me of how I made it.

We had a quick refresher of the “Baby” waltz, the Sweetheart Cha-Cha and the Fishtails from the quickstep.

Tomorrow is the last day of the short salsa class in Bishopbriggs. Who knows what Jamie Gal will throw into the mix!

Gardening – 8 May 2022

Scamp wanted to get the grass cut before the rains came. I wanted to plant some seeds.

Before that, Scamp started off de-icing the freezer. It’s a thankless task, so we split the job between us. Scamp started with a scraper tool and bowls of hot water to start the thaw and I took over with an assortment of kitchen tools plus knives and scrapers from my art supplies. Between us we got the job done fairly quickly.

Lunch was next and after that we started on the gardening. After a lot of huffing and puffing, we did manage to get both of these tasks completed, although I must admit that Scamp’s was by far the more energy sapping of the two. She cut the front grass, strimmed the edges and used her mighty blower to get rid of the loose cuttings. I attempted to dig into the skim of soil that covers a pile of rubble at the end of the garden and planted a row of Ammi majus, the cow parsley look-alike next to the old buddleia just to see if it would grow in such poor soil. Then I planted some Ambassador peas in a tray in the greenhouse and also a line of four of the same peas in the raised bed.

As I was working round the raised bed I saw a little daisy flower sitting in the shade with its flower head in the sun. That seemed like a good subject for the new Lensbaby Sweet 35 optic. It turned out so good, it made PoD.

While Scamp rested her back, I walked mine over to St Mo’s and got a few more with the Sweet 35. It seems a bit more extreme than the Sweet 50. The distortion is much more pronounced, which was the reason I bought it in the first place.

I was having the Lamb Flank Parcel I’d bought yesterday, for my dinner and Scamp was having a chicken pastie. Both with potatoes and carrots. Her’s seemed fine, but my lamb was fatty and probably undercooked. An hour and a half roasting in the oven at Gas 5 is nowhere nearly enough. Just a note to self for when I get round to cooking the other one that’s now in the much cleaner freezer. The other note to self is not to buy Salt & Chilli Wings from Tesco. Took far longer than the stated time and didn’t look anything like wings. Not a good impulse buy. Scamp had made a fruit salad for dessert with apples, oranges and pineapple, plus a tablespoon of Cointreau. Again, not nearly enough Cointreau, but a refreshing end to the meal.

Spoke to Jamie for a while over a very dodgy WiFi connection. Good to see them getting a bit of ‘me time’, or is that ‘us time’? Doing a bit of walking in the Lake District. Heard about plans for the future.

That was about it, except about fifteen minutes ago a tiny little tick appeared on my wrist, just crawling out from under my watch strap. It was quickly despatched before it could get stuck into my heavily medicated blood. First one I’ve seen for ages. On the subject of ‘first one I’ve seen for ages’, yesterday I saw my first swallow this year. They do say that one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but I saw three. Does that make a summer then?

Maybe going looking for a pair of good sturdy brogues tomorrow as an alternative to kilt shoes. Dark brown for preference, although my fashion guru says that won’t go with the rest of the outfit.

Tying up loose ends – 25 April 2022

Scamp was out this morning to have coffee with her big sister. I got the free run of the house.

A wee bit of painting started the day. I think it was seeing Fred’s latest painting that encouraged me. He paints with the strangest equipment. Today’s picture was sketched on the back of an old canvas, then painted using emulsion paint, and just to make it even odder, he didn’t use brushes, but chose to use wooden coffee stirrers like the ones you get with a take-away coffee. Then for the fine detail, he used cocktail sticks to “move the paint around.” I, on the other hand used watercolours an brushes on a sketch book. That almost felt like cheating by comparison!

With my painting drying, I made up my mind to check off some other things that had been bugging me, or things I was delaying until “tomorrow”, although tomorrow never comes, we know that.
Well, today I was going to go and get lunch. To do that I’d need to drive Scamp’s Wee Red Car up to Tesco. The brakes had been repaired, but Scamp didn’t feel they were as positive as they used to be. A test drive had been on the cards for weeks now. Time it was done.
While I was at Tesco I was going to ask the pharmacist for something to deal with sores that had appeared on my leg. Much quicker to ask the pharmacist than to wade through the telephone conversations explaining the problem to a doc. Once, that is, you finally get to talk to a doc or a nurse.
The third thing on the list was to go up and have a chin wag with Fred and hand over some books he showed an interest in.
So in one fell swoop I drove the car and the brakes, although a bit softer than previously were ok. I got some cream from the chemist for mild eczema which is what the rash is, and I delivered the books to Fred and heard all about his problems with NHS. Everyone has a story to tell about the NHS and doctors these days. Back with rolls and a roll ’n’ sausage was on the menu for lunch. Scamp had a roll ’n’ egg instead.

It was colder than normal today and cloudy. In fact both of us had had a little rain shower while we were out. Nothing to be bothered about, but good to know there is still some water up in them clouds.

Later in the afternoon I got dressed for the wild woods and went off in search of, what I thought might be a Shamrock. It turned out to be a Wood Sorrel which is just as good. I’d seen it yesterday when I was out, but didn’t have the correct lens. Today I had the right lens and got the shot. Nice little bit of light too from a break in the clouds too. That became PoD.

Standard Monday dinner today. Red Pasta. A bit posher than normal pasta, the sauce started off with shallots chopped fine and half a tin of anchovies, both being fried in the oil from the anchovies. Next, half a tin of good chopped tomatoes and a large dollop of good tomato concentrate. All this done while the pasta was cooking for 14mins after the water had returned to the boil. Pasta water added as was required to the sauce. Heaped into bowls with three little anchovies sitting on top. Delicious!

Watched another episode of The Split, and thought the title of Saturday’s PoD was quite apt: “Oh what a tangled web we weave. When first we practice to deceive”

Tomorrow we may be travelling in the Glasgow to look for dresses fit for a wedding. My heavy tartan skirt is hanging up in the back bedroom!

Walking the dog – 15 April 2022

A bit of freedom for Vixen.

In the morning, after breakfast and a cup of Jamie’s coffee from his posh Sage coffee machine, we went for a walk round the garden, a conducted tour, in fact. The garden covers half an acre. I don’t know how big that is, but it is a fair swathe of grass with a veg area purely for Jamie and lots of island areas of flowers that are Simonne’s area. Best of all, he has a greenhouse, a real glass glazed one, not a little plastic one like ours. Lots of potential there.

After the tour, Jamie drove us to a dog walking field where Vixen could run as far as she wanted without fear of meeting any other four legged friends (or enemies). We spent about an hour wandering round three fields of different shapes and sizes. Vixen may have been the reason we were there, but I was searching the trees and hedges for photo opportunities. Almost right away I saw a Bee Fly, but of course my camera was still in the bag, but my phone was handy and was sure I could grab a snap with it. Next time I’ll buy a mobile with a macro facility. Missed the Bee Fly, but at least I saw one.

What I did find was an almost totally brown Shield Bug and I did get two photos of it. There were apple trees in one of the field hedges and they were still holding their blossom and one of the Lensbaby shots of the blossom was in for PoD. With Vixen exhausted and my Lensbaby having captured a potential PoD, Jamie drove us back home for lunch.

After lunch the other three went to do some gentle work in the garden and I took my camera for a walk past the old church and down the hill to the dried up stream bed at the bottom. I turned right before the bridge over the stream bed and walked for about half a mile to another bridge over the same stream bed, crossed the bridge, turned left and found my way back to the house. I was passing between two fields. One with what looked like beans and the other with some form of corn or maize. The soil was interspersed with big chunks of flint.

By the time I got back, there was just enough time to have a beer in The Gallery before dinner.

PoD did indeed go to the apple blossom.

Tomorrow we’re off to Bury St Edmonds for lunch.

Drivin’ and Dancin’ – 7 April 2022

We were going to a tea dance today.

Yes, tea was served as was a tea loaf. For the philistines there was instant coffee.

First we had to work out the quickest way to get there. The community hall that’s used for the tea dances is deep in darkest Paisley. It’s a different one from the one we go to in Brookfield for dance class on a Saturday, very different, but both have good floors for dancing. The problem with getting there is that the motorway has roadworks for a few miles on the M8 and the speed limit is 40mph which is fairly slow for a motorway. It wouldn’t concern me greatly, but there are average speed cameras for the full stretch of the roadworks, and in case, just in case they are actually switched on, most folk are travelling at about 38mph. This slows everyone up. Then, once you’re free to travel at mind blowing 70mph, you have to leave the motorway to work your way through the devious traffic system in Paisley itself. It takes ages.

There is another way. I found it a long time ago when we started this tea dance caper. It’s the one that the Nissan app recommends. Anything the Nissan app recommends is usually to be avoided. When you ask it for a route between two places it firstly gives you the route and the time it will take if you’re walking. This from a company who specialise, not in walking shoes, but in selling cars. I digress. Today I thought we might just try the route from the app. Surprisingly, it was a much less stressful route than the M8, then the slow crawl through Paisley. I’m not giving Nissan all the glory for finding this route, I checked with Google first and they agreed! We were late arriving at the hall, but we much earlier and much calmer than if we’d gone the Paisley route. We also used it coming back and the only problem was the queue to cross the Kingston Bridge, but that was driver error. I should have gone with my gut feeling which was avoid the Kingston Bridge at all costs.

Lots of sequence dances today and we learned a new one. It’s got the usual sequence dance silly name and is an amalgam of various other dances. We tried the new waltz routine and it was a shambling mess to start with, or I was making a shambling mess, which is nearer the truth. However by the time we got to the Last Waltz it was coming together nicely. Tango was a work in progress. I’m sure we were cutting corners somewhere, but where exactly, I couldn’t say. We tried and failed at the Cha-Cha. I thought the music was too fast, and despite Scamp’s best efforts, we didn’t finish it.

We were sitting with a good crowd, most of whom we’ve met before and we seemed to get on well with them. The numbers were down today, but, as Scamp said, a lot of folk our age are grandparents now and have kids to look after during the school holidays.

Back home I changed into ‘normal’ clothes and went for a walk down to the shops via the well worn path behind St Mo’s school. Today’s PoD is a macro shot of a rotting fence post with a few clumps of moss growing in its hollow top which I found beside that path. I quite liked the picture and cropped it square, then gave it a white rebate. Looks a bit like a Polaroid now.

Tomorrow we may be going in to Glasgow for lunch, it being someone’s birthday.

Early rise – 5 April 2022

The alarm went off at 7.30am and just to rub it in, it played its little tune again five minutes later. I got the message.

We both got the message. Got dressed, yawned and drove the Red car down to the garage for the car doctor to have a look at it. We walked back to the house in the rain. Breakfast at 8.30am is unusual for us and even more unusual when we’re fully dressed and sitting in the living room, instead of in jammy’s and in bed. However, we were up and fully awake, so the day started here.

We were out again at just after 10am to go and pick up Isobel to go for coffee. Usual rubbish Costa coffee. I had the small cup of what they describe as americano. Weakest americano I’ve had in a long time. I must try their espresso to see what It’s like. The ladies were having lattes. Don’t ever watch latte coffees being made. Half a pint of warm milk and a teaspoon full of coffee. Latte is coffee for folk who don’t like coffee. But we weren’t there for the coffee (thankfully) we were there for the banter, the repartee. Isobel just keeps the conversation going, never repeating herself and always injecting that sarcastic humour that delights me. Nobody is safe, especially her listeners. Soon she and Scamp decided it was time to go and we drove her back to the Village. Scamp reckons she was going to meet another of her friends and would share some of what we’d been talking about with her!

We drove home via Tesco for rolls and petrol. I don’t know what was going on with my pump, but it was delivering its expensive fluid very slowly. Maybe it was just thinking we should savour the liquid since it’s become so expensive these days, £1.58 for a litre. It’ll soon be cheaper drink beer rather than petrol – in joke!

Back home is was lunch time. For Scamp a roll ’n’ scrambled egg and for me, substitute two slices of bacon for the egg. Both seemed to hit the spot. Then for me a roll ’n’ jam as a lunchtime dessert.

With the Sudoku done and the Worldle word found, admittedly the latter took me six tries today, Last Chance Saloon territory. With that done I took the Sony and the 50mm macro lens out for a walk in St Mo’s. I’d noticed the big chestnut tree that grows in between the scrawny bushes of the wilderness area in front of the house was starting to produce flower buds. It’s a lovely tree, but the background to any photo would be windows, doors and brickwork but I fancied I could find an equally good looking tree with better background in St Mo’s.

Sure enough, there it was with its branches at a decent height for photographing and the flower buds were almost bursting. Beautiful textures on the and one of them made PoD. Just a solo flower bud on a tree, but beautiful in its own way. I read up on the tree later and discovered things I hadn’t realised about the sticky resin stuff that coats the buds. It’s amazing what you find out about things these days on the internet. Some of it unbelievable but true, other things are believable and total lies! Caveat Lector.

While I was post processing the photos the garage phoned to say the car doctors had taken the car for a test drive and discovered the noise was caused by a stuck brake calliper on the driver’s side. It will need replaced, as will the pads, and after we pay for it, the car will hopefully be ready tomorrow.

That was all the excitement we could stand for one day. Dinner tonight was a Cod Chowder which was ok, but not as good as it usually was. Scamp didn’t like the lardons and I didn’t like the fact that I’d burnt some of the veg. Must try harder.

PoD was indeed the bud from the Horse Chestnut tree. I’m hoping to get another shot later once it’s unfurled its leaves.

No plans for tomorrow apart from getting a wee Red car back to its rightful place in the parking space.

I’m busy doing nothing – 28 March 2022

That’s how today felt.

Scamp was out to lunch with Nancy today which left me the run of the house.

It was a beautiful day again, possibly the last really warm day for a while, so after I’d changed the battery in the solar powered light ball that hangs on the tree in the garden, I went and sat on the front step and read my new book for a while, until lunch time, in fact. After lunch which was a chicken, mushroom and red pepper omelette, I continued my sunbathing and reading, although I did change to shorts and a tee shirt because it was really quite warm. I got a warning from Scott the taxi driver that I should have sun cream on and thought that was a wise precaution, so I went in search of sun cream. Finally found some, slapped it on and grabbed a beanie hat to complete my rig out. Possibly not the most elegantly dressed gent in the estate, but certainly the most comfortable, because now I’d taken a folding chair out. You can only sit for so long on a step before your bum starts to complain. I know I should have been sanding down the woodwork of the bin shed, but you can’t put a good book down! The book was All That Lives by James Oswald, in case you’re interested.

When Scamp returned I thought I’d give her some space and too the camera and the Lensbaby out to get some photos of the flowering cherry that grows in the depths of St Mo’s woodland. I got a few shots of it and am beginning to come to terms with this strange contraption. It does produce some very arty effects, almost painterly. That’s what produced today’s PoD of the flowering cherry tree.

That was about it for today. My work on the light ball lit up tonight and is now off again. The little Ni Mh battery does a good job and gives two or three hours of light. I’m hoping there will be enough sun tomorrow to charge it up again. Apparently it’s going to get a lot colder in the next few days with a wind from the north and talk of that white fluffy stuff falling from the sky!

One more thing.  I made Pasta Carbonara tonight for dinner, with a difference.  Two kinds of cheese, Pecarino and Parmigiano-Reggiano and NO CREAM!  Instead I tried Val’s recipe with an extra egg yolk instead of cream and it did taste better.  Must try it again some time.

Tomorrow Scamp is out again. This time it’s coffee with Shona. I’ll hope for a morning of sunshine.


Doing the housework – 14 March 2022

Scamp was off to meet Isobel for coffee and I was staying home to brush the stairs.

I can see why Scamp didn’t want to do the job because all the dust might irritate her recently operated on eyes. There was quite a load of dust, dirt and general detritus lodged in the folds of the stair carpet and she was correct, the best way of tackling it was to get down on my knees and brush it out with a stiff brush. It took a lot longer than I anticipated and eventually I gave up using the shovel to hold all the grit and just brushed it into the middle of each tread, then used the portable Dyson to sook it all up. Then I started on the landing using the same technique, but it was much easier. No need to climb the north face of the Eiger as you scrub. Much easier on the flat. Soon it was all done.  One of the most delightful things today was walking barefoot up the stairs after they had been brushed and Dysoned.  The treads felt so soft and springy, it was worth all that work.

After that, and before Scamp returned, I started collecting the bits and pieces to go in the box with the Sony A7ii camera that was going to MPB. That’s the original Sony I bought in October 2020. It’s going to MPB to help pay for its younger brother who is working very hard for me every day. So many different cables, adapters, chargers and a massive brick of a manual that tells you nothing, but takes a long time to do it. Finally got everything collected and fitted into the box, just as Scamp came home and the rain came on.

After we had lunch and after I’d struggled with today’ Wordle puzzle, I was hoping to go out and find something other than frogs to photograph, but the rain stayed on. All afternoon it stayed on and eventually I put my boots on and went out for a walk. Knowing that I’d find something interesting … and I did. I was walking through a bit of mixed woodland behind St Mo’s park when I found a flower on a tree, then another couple. Not missing an opportunity like that I took a few shots. Then I saw what looked like a whole tree covered in white flowers. I think it’s either apple blossom or wild cherry (Gean) coming out a bit early. After about a dozen different photos I went for a walk down the avenue of trees and found a neat little larch flower with raindrops on it. Took a few photos of that too. That’s when the rain came on. It just got heavier and heavier. By the time I’d reached home I was ‘drookit’.

Scamp suggested Amatriciana which is Tomatoes, Bacon, Pinch of Chilli flakes, Onions and Pecarino cheese. It sounded like a plan and that’s what I made for dinner, served with Spaghetti. Long time since we’ve had that, but I hope it won’t be that long until we have it again.

After dinner while Scamp was reading I finished packing up the camera for the DPD driver to collect tomorrow. Wrote an email to Alex and confirmed Wednesday as a coffee meet-up with some of the Auld Guys.

PoD was a branch of those white Gean flowers that Scamp described as a flight of butterflies. I understand exactly what she means

Tea and coffee incoming tomorrow and cameras outgoing. Other than that, nothing planned, but I’m sure a walk will be squeezed in somewhere, possibly with photos.

Just chilling’ – 13 March 2022

A lazy start to the day and a lazy afternoon too.

Actually quite a bright day although it started off very dull. I’d finished my book “The Second Cut” by Louise Welsh yesterday and had nothing worthwhile to read. So, for once, it was me who got up first after breakfast in bed – I did say it was a lazy start to the day.

It wasn’t long before the sun found a way through the clouds and shone brightly. It didn’t encourage either of us to go out and test the temperature. Instead we just sat and talked for a while. Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch, Scamp was ready to do some ironing and as I’m allergic to it, I took the Sony out for a walk in St Mo’s, but not before I’d ordered some tea and coffee, invited the Auld Guys to a coffee morning some time this week then finally, sold the old Sony to MPB and arranged its pick-up. Lots of boxes ticked on my To Do list.

I didn’t get many interesting photos on my walk, but there were a lot of sycamore seeds sprouting through the leaf litter in St Mo’s woods and one of them made PoD. Just because I liked it, I added another wee plant I’d photographed a couple of days ago to Flickr. I don’t know what it is, but the dark brown seed pods are never touched by any creature or bird. I must assume then that they are poisonous. I might look them up on my wild flower book to see exactly what they are.

Dinner tonight was the remains of yesterday’s roast chicken, although not all of it, because there’s more sitting in the fridge for tomorrow. Served with roasted beetroot and potato wedges. Very nice, especially the beetroot.

Spoke to Jamie and heard about the problems of being a boss and also of starting up a sports massage centre in a new village. Not him doing the massage, I hasten to add. That’s more Sim’s line of work. We’re looking forward to seeing the video of the mattress doing its automatic unpacking routine.

That was about it for today. Lots of stuff done, but in a lazy way. It works for me! Tomorrow Scamp is out in the morning to meet Isobel and I’m hoovering (Dysoning) the hall and stairs!