Going for the messages – 9 March 2022

Some days are filled with sunshine.  Other days are dull.  Today was dull and the highlight was going for the messages.

Scamp drove us to The Fort today, or to be more precise, she drove us to Morrisons at The Fort.  We needed some messages and it was a dull day.  Also the wee Red car needed a run to charge its battery and to get its wheels moving again.  Scamp doesn’t like the twisty roads I drive on to The Fort and also there were roadworks on part of that route that were predicted to last for months and months, so we went by an alternative route.  It took us through Stepps, Ruchazie, Garthamlock and finally Provanhall, not Easterhouse, Provanhall.  There is a difference. I admit I was lost for most of the journey after Stepps.  There page markers had nearly all disappeared.  Where was the Golfers Rest?  Where was the bit of the canal that used to run parallel to the road. The Monkland Canal.  Gone was the answer.  Then as Scamp recited the names of places as we drove past, bits of it came back.  All things change.

We missed a turning at The Fort and drove on to Morrisons.  The order we visited them in was unimportant.  We bought some messages, but the main thing that Scamp had come for Branston Fruity Sauce was unavailable.  It wasn’t until we came home and I did a bit of internet digging that we discovered that Rich and Fruity Sauce, had been added to the list of over 400 products have been recalled after they were found to contain the carcinogen Sudan 1.  This was a bit surprising and worrying as the recall happened in 2005 and we still have an ‘in date’ bottle of the sauce in the cupboard!  I blame Brexit.

On the way back we did stop at The Fort.  Scamp wanted to go to M&S and I wanted to look for a book in Waterstones.  Both of us came back empty handed.  Scamp couldn’t find anything that suited her and I refused to pay £16 for a book I could get for £9 in Amazon.  She drove us home and I managed to find some of the places that I’d lost on the way in, or to be more correct I managed to find a school where the Golfers Rest used to be and a motorway slip road that was the Monkland Canal.

In the morning I found today’s photo in the bathroom.  It’s a close up of Scamp’s swimming goggles that she wears to prevent soap from getting in her eyes when she’s washing her hair.  I liked the water droplets on the goggles and the shine on the chrome tap.  There’s a group on Flickr where some of my photos land, called The Monochrome Mind.  For the first time in ages, I saw this photo in Black & White, not colour.  It went in to that group today.  A wee abstract for a change.

We had fish ’n’ chips tonight for dinner.  Smoked haddock and chips to be more precise.  Best bit of fish I’ve had for ages.  Beautifully cooked by Scamp.

Tomorrow it’s sequins and dance shoes.  We’re hoping to go to a tea dance in Paisley.

Fog – 18 December 2021

Thick, then thinning. Wet and clinging. That’s fog.

For a week my phone’s weather app has been predicting fog on Saturday. Today it changed its prediction to sunshine. Unfortunately it had already ordered the fog and, like on Amazon, once you’ve paid for it, you’re already too late to change the order. So we had that grey sheet of obliteration all day.

Last night we got the message that today’s dance class had been cancelled, so the silver lining to that cloud was that we had more time to parcel up the prezzies and send them on their way. I say ‘We’, but you all know that it’s Scamp who does all the work. I just do what I’m told (for a change). Today was no exception. Hazy and Neil’s parcel needed a firm top for the box, so I cut a bit of heavy card from one of my big A1 sketch pads and it fitted perfectly. Scamp was ordering and paying for the delivery label the we hit the first problem. The printer wasn’t working. The PC said the printer couldn’t be found. Of course it was because of the new modem which had a new address and password. There was a neat solution, of course. You only need to bring the printer near the modem and press a button on the modem and on the printer and the two will connect without the need for a password. It’s never that easy. This must be a slightly newer version of the modem. It was only after a lot of swearing and searching on the InterWeb that I found you have to hold the WPS button down for about five seconds then do the same on the WiFi button on the printer. With our old modem you just pressed the WPS button, no need to long press it. Once that was cleared up and the labels printed and fixed on the parcels we could relax.

Well, not exactly, that was the next problem. The time was 12:10 and the Post Office closed at 12:30 today, so I got my jacket on and legged it over to Condorrat to hand the parcel over. Thankfully there was no queue and I got it into the bag and the receipt in my hands just as the Parcelforce men were loading the sacks. One down.

With a bit of time to spare now, I went to the butchers to get stew for my dinner this week, plus some Tattie Scones, plus four black puddings, plus a steak pie for my dinner tonight. Walked back to find Scamp had tidied up the carnage in the living room and it was time for a cup of Sumatran coffee. Hazy and Neil’s parcel is going DPD for logistical reasons. That is, I’d already paid for the DPD delivery before realising that we could have sent them both by Parcelforce.

After lunch Scamp and I went out in the fog for a walk round St Mo’s. It was that creepy fog that is thick in some places and non-existent in others. I grabbed a quick shot of a bloke striding home along the path through the trees and with a bit of work, that made PoD. Lots of spiderwebs revealed by the water droplets courtesy of the fog. Very etherial but very few that made a good shot.

Steak pie was lovely, if a little sparse in steak. I couldn’t tell you when I last had a butcher’s steak pie. Half of it is gone with the other half for dinner tomorrow. Scamp had a white dinner Cauliflower and Potatoes.

Later we watched a stretched out Strictly. We weren’t totally surprised by the winning competitor, nor were we impressed by the performance. The worst thing was the time wasting that was going on. I gave up after a while with all the weeping and ‘emulsion’ people were showing. How many crocodiles did they need to collect all those tears?

Thanks for the email address Hazy. We did eventually get signed in and found the film we were looking for on Amazon Prime, plus another one I wanted to see.

Tomorrow looks a bit like today, foggy. Maybe another walk in a different direction.

Off to Hospital – 9 December 2021

Not for me, Scamp’s visit to Hairmyres.

We left in plenty of time for Scamp’s 10am appointment. I made sure she got to the correct area of this gigantic building. Actually a much airier building than many of its like and with Christmas decorations on all the doors, it was more welcoming than most. After that, I headed for the shopping centre, just to be nosey and to compare it with our megalithic atrocity. It won by a mile, no, make that a hundred miles. Clean, well lit and with many more shops. Very few shuttered shops and no closed off areas. Yes, this was a shopping centre, not a disaster area. Only sore point was that you had to pay to park, but a quid wasn’t going to break the bank for an hour’s stay.

Took some photos of the outside of the building and tried not to compare with the collapsing Town Centre we have. Then I found my way to Calderglen Park. The last time we were there, the place was a mess with ongoing works designed to mess up the traffic flow. Nothing had changed. The last time we were there, there was no notice to show you where the entrance to the park was. Nothing had changed there either. It seems that North Lanarkshire and South Lanarkshire are joined by more than their surnames. In other words, both as crap as each other. But there was a shining light in the park, the wee cafe, the Courtyard Cafe to give it’s full name. I had a roll ’n’ sausage with fried onions and a mug of coffee for just over six quid. I was pleased with that. Good roll ’n’ sausage, award winning fried onions and, ok, the coffee was a bit of a letdown, but you can’t have everything. There was blue sky when I had arrived, but when I left the clouds had rolled in and it looked like rain was on the way.

I was just thinking I should head back to the hospital when Scamp phoned to say that she too was having coffee (but without sausage or fried onions) and then she told me she’d have to wait at least 10 months for the operation. Almost a year to wait for a cataract removal! Is it any wonder that people are going private? Apart from that, she seemed satisfied with the consultation and of course because it was NHS, we’d already paid for it with our NI contributions. But still, at least 10 months. Factor in the uncertainty with Covid restrictions and what are we talking about? 18 months? 2 YEARS?! Who knows.

Drove home discussing the implications of what she’d heard today and wondering where it took us. Back home and after lunch I had a look at the photos and although I’d taken a few at Calderglen, it was the architectural ones from the EK shopping centre that were the most interesting to me. It’s one of them that got PoD.

We’d brought the tree down from the loft yesterday and today was the day to put it up. That’s really Scamp’s job. Even with her present limited vision, she is far better at lighting and dressing a Christmas tree. With some Christmas cards hung up and some decorations, the place is looking quite festive. All I did was put batteries in the little strings of lights that are scattered round the living room.

I phoned Virgin Media tonight to sort out a problem with accessing some websites. As far as I can see there is something different in the DNS coding/decoding of the relatively new modem we have. After being on the phone for half an hour or so, I managed to convince the lady on the other end that something was awry. She agreed that it would be best to send out an engineer (possibly to get rid of me). He/she is coming on Sunday. We’ll see what they can suggest. Knowing my expertise with modems it will be a simple fix and it may cost us £25 if there is no fault with the hardware. It’ll be worth it to be able to access websites properly and at least we don’t have to wait ten months for someone to fix it!

One last thing.  I saw this on FB today, attributed to Chris Riddell political cartoonist on a sketch of a certain British Prime Minister:

I’m really sorry that the British public found out about the party that didn’t happen last Christmas, but the person who laughed about not being at the party that didn’t happen has resigned and I have appointed someone who might have been at that party that didn’t happen to investigate … Now please wear a mask the way I don’t …

Hoping to meet Alex tomorrow in Glasgow. I intend to drive in that means I don’t have to sit on a bus or a train with the great unwashed. Don’t know where we’ll go. It’ll be a surprise!


Encouraged – 6 December 2021

Woke to rain, heavy rain, thumping down.

This wasn’t going to be a good photographing day by the looks of things. Sat down and got started on yesterday’s unfinished sudoku. There are six sudoku puzzles a week in the Times daily block. Five weekday puzzles were Monday is the easiest and Friday is really hard. You get two days to solve one weekend puzzle which is at times diabolical. On Saturday I started what looked like a remarkably easy one, but I wasn’t fooled. Last night I was still struggling with it. As sometimes happens, when I look at it afresh, like today, it just falls into place. Easy! With that done and after a false start, I got today’s done. That took me to coffee time. By the time I’d finished my coffee the sun had come out properly and the rain had stopped. That’s when I was ’encouraged’ by Scamp to go for a walk while the sun was out.

This was a two camera day. I thought I might get some decent light and with the kit lens on the big camera and the macro on the other one, I was ready for most things. I saw my first opportunity when I was walking up the path to the ’venchie. That was the abbreviated version of Adventure Playground. It’s a bit more upmarket than the one that two of my readers would remember, but is just as well used. By kids in the daylight hours and neds in the evenings. You don’t want to know what goes on in there after dark. You might think you know, but it will always be worse. Anyway, it was just a photo of a leaf and it was just to get the ball rolling so to speak. Next I found an old scarf tied to a tree branch. It has been there for years and is now growing all sorts of fungi and a nicely sprouting hummock of moss on top. Quite photogenic to a photog.

Walked over to St Mo’s where everyone but me had a dog. Dog walkers look at you kind of strange if you’re walking alone and without a dog on a string. Why? Dog-walkers, on the end of that bit of string is a creature that is one stage away from a carnivorous wild animal. And you think I’m strange? Some of them even have two or three of the things. Each of them capable of communicating with each other and planning your demise in a language no translator will be able to understand. I walked on.

I took photos of Cladonia lichen which I love and besides it looks as if I’m photographing a rock. Sometime I talk to myself while I’m doing it. That really spooks the dog-walkers. You can see them pulling their pooches away from the obviously deranged man in the old dirty jacket. You see how photogs get a bad name now? PoD ended up being a monochrome shot of a park bench in St Mo’s. The scarf came a close second and in third place was a rather limp nettle. All can be seen on Flickr.

After lunch I spent the rest of the afternoon trying and failing to avoid writing Christmas cards until dinner time. Spaghetti Carbonara followed by panna cotta.

A strange thing happend last night, just as I was locking up before going to bed.  There was what looked like an envelope lying in the garden.  I went out to have a look and it was indeed an envelope.  No address on the front, just a message Merry Christmas.  Inside was a Christmas card with a message “To you Stranger.  Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year”.  A random act of kindness perhaps?  Scamp suggested we put it in the window in the kitchen.  Hopefully someone will see that it was delivered and read.  There are good people out there.

Tomorrow Scamp has an appointment with the dentist and I’m taxi driver.



Crossing the Forth – 8 September 2021

It was a lovely morning and we weren’t going to waste it.

We had a few places in mind for today. Culross (just look away and roll your eyes, Hazy), Dunfermline and Kincardine were three of them. We settled on Kincardine and drove over to Fife and parked in the free car park beside a ‘new’ Coop building. The parentheses are because I still don’t think it’s a new building. I’m pretty sure there was a residential home on that spot a few years ago, probably the last time we were there. If you looked closely you could see the outline of windows that had been bricked up, given a new coat of render then painted. Fancy wood facing to the building completed the transformation. A quick look on Google Street View when we got home confirmed the makeover. It was a nursing home that used to be on that site. You can’t kid us!

We walked down through the old part of Kincardine where all the houses seem to be dropped into place and then roads are added as an afterthought. We found or way down to the path that runs along the side of the Forth, noting on our way the big bramble bushes with a healthy number of fat berries. We’d collect some of them on our way back.

Walked along past the, now redundant, piers that originally carried in coal to the Kincardine power station, now razed to the ground. An electrical substation now occupies part of the site. Not the most scenic of views past on the right, but great views across the Forth to Airth on the south of the estuary. The Forth is tidal at this point and the tide was out this morning exposing the mudbanks on both sides.

We walked under the Clackmannanshire Bridge, an elegant structure with a really clumsy name. Some bright spark renamed it the Clacks Bridge which trips off the tongue much more easily than its sixteen letter official name. We sat for a while on a seat kindly provided by the council with a plaque to tell people how thoughtful they are. NLC, there’s things you could learn here. From the seat we could look over to some buildings that looked like a farm and a ruin that turned out to be Kennetpans Distillery, allegedly the first commercial distillery in the world.

We sat soaking up the sun for a while before we headed back the same way to the car, stopping on the way to make good our promise to pick some of those black brambles. Unfortunately we didn’t have any poly bags with us, so Scamp used one of her shopping bags which got squashed later in the boot of the car, spreading bramble juice over everything. Back at the car we were heading for that terrible place that Hazy hates, may its name never be spoken in her presence. It was mobbed. We trundled through it with two cyclists who insisted on travelling so slowly they were in danger of losing their balance (it’s the gyroscopic effect of the spinning wheels that allows bikes to stay upright). Eventually we found a parking place off the road with a vacant picnic table where we could have coffee and crisps (and a chocolate biscuit) and christen our new flask. Then it was time to drive home.

I had intended going out on Dewdrop to get more brambles but the warm weather and the chance of a midweek beer put paid to that idea. Instead I finished a pastel painting I’ve been struggling with and then joined Scamp in the garden.

Dinner tonight was Neil’s Pulled Roast Chicken with Rice. Very summery and a fitting end to a good day out. Such a pity the good weather is forecast to end tomorrow, but we enjoyed it while it lasted.

PoD went to a picture of the Clacks Bridge taken from below to make the most of its curves.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch.

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.

Happy Birthday Jamie – 16 August 2021

Hope it was just as good a day as you hoped it would be.

As for us, a man was coming go give us giant cotton buds to stick down our throats and up our noses. Always that way round, never the nose first! Once he’d taken the swabs back and asked us our twenty questions we were free to go.

Today we were off for a spin. We drove off in the general direction of Loch Lomond, basically following our route to our dance class on a Saturday. We reached and passed that turnoff and headed further north west past the end of the airport and were just about to take the slip road for the Erskine Bridge when we saw the queue and the warning about a breakdown on the bridge, so instead of turning off, we continued straight on through Port Glasgow, Greenock and parked for a few minutes at Gourock. We sat in the car, eating Dolly Mixtures and watching a Royal Navy ship and a yacht cruising around the estuary.

From there we drove down past Cloch lighthouse and stopped at the garden centre we’d both been heading for. Had a bite to eat there. Not a very posh lunch, think more School Dinners. Steak and Sausage Pie cut from bit tray for me and a couple of dollops of Macaroni Cheese for Scamp. Both served with chips, so yes, very reminiscent of School Dinners. Having said that, it was wasn’t expensive and my steak & sausage was lovely, just the puff pastry didn’t have enough puff left. Scamp’s was a bit congealed.

We walked round the plants and bought an Echinacea we both liked and a terracotta pot to put it in. Scamp bought herself a top in an Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop and I got some photos.

The photos came from across the road from the garden centre where there were views across the estuary to Dunoon on one side and on the other side the remains of the the pier at what had been Hunterston Power Station. Those were just the middle ground props for the star which was the sky with it’s great cloud patterns. Well, it was for me anyway. PoD was a picture looking from Cloch towards Dunoon.

When we’d walked across the pebbly beach and on round a headland, we headed back to the car and drove on to Inverkip, then took the road over the hill to bring us back to the motorway and home.

Spoke to Jamie in the evening and found out he was intending to test his baking skills on a Swiss Roll.

Not quite the day out we’d planned, but a breath of fresh salt air and a walk along beside the Clyde estuary. Loch Lomond will have to wait for another day.

Tomorrow, Scamp is out for coffee with Isobel and I may just put pastel to paper if the weather is inclement, as seems likely and if not then I may go for a walk to see some dragons.

Driving home – 23 July 2021

It always comes to this day.

We had packed last night. Really all that had to be done was to load the car and tidy up the house. That work took about an hour and a half with all four of us doing our bit. Then the hugs and goodbyes with the promise that we’d do it again soon. I hope we do.

Drove in convoy with Hazy and Neil D until they branched off to go past Broughton in Furness and we headed for the northbound M6. A fair few holdups on the road, but once we were on the motorway it was plain sailing. Stopped at Gretna to stretch our legs and window shop, although I did buy a new kitchen knife. Then it was back on the road and home.

All the plants needed a drink, it looked like they had not had any real rain either

I’d taken some shots of the mist covered Duddon Valley with sheep coming across the field for their morning drink. That was easily the PoD.

Tomorrow we may go dancing … in a hall … with a wooden floor … wearing dance shoes … and … WITH OTHER PEOPLE IN THE ROOM!!!

Under a milky white sky – 2 March 2021

Yes, it was a milky white sky this morning. Although the weather fairies told us that the sun would come out of hiding, they forgot to mention that it wouldn’t happen until about 4pm.

There was no real need to get up and go anywhere in the Central Belt today because it looked like the white sky stretched from west to east and there was no getting away from it. Worse still, my phone was out of charge and my Kindle was too. Just to complete the trilogy, my Fitbit was telling me it was feeling a bit deflated on the power front too. I plugged in the phone and the kindle but forced the Fitbit to work for its dose of energy which it did in a disgruntled way beeping every hour to tell me to move my backside, which I also did in a disgruntled way. I blame the milky white sky for it all.

Eventually after lunch, we got ourselves in gear and went a walk to the shops. Scamp went to get milk and sensible stuff while I went for ice cream and sticky toffee pudding. Just a different kind of sensible. We carried our messages home and then while Scamp went out to comb the front grass, well, actually she was raking it, but when it was done it looked as if someone had combed it badly. While she went to do that, I went for a walk in St Mo’s. It felt a bit cold, so I wore my big Bergy jacket with its fleece, but actually it wasn’t all that bad once you were out and walking. The light was improving, but not enough to create shadows. For that you need directional light and there was none. I went to visit the ladybirds which were still hibernating and that’s when the sun started to shine, about 4pm.

Although the photos of the ladybirds are interesting to me, I realise they have limited appeal to the general public. It was while I was walking home that I tried my old 10-20mm Sigma lens and grabbed a few landscapes. When I looked at them on the computer I thought a monochrome format improved them and that’s what you see here.

Dinner tonight was Scamp’s job. She made Chickpea and Spinach Curry and I thought it was delicious. She thought it was OK, but that there was too much salt in it. She’s a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to seasoning, so I let her be right – just this once. My job was to make the flatbread and it turned out OK, but Scamp thought it was delicious. It’s not that I’m a perfectionist about flatbread …

Interesting text from Hazy this morning which I missed when my phone was filling its boots with electricity. She told me that while they were out for a walk they passed a cafe where I had coffee a few years ago and sat writing a speech for a certain wedding. Now that is nice to know. It has changed its name and probably been through a few iterations since that day, but it’s still there.

Tomorrow we don’t have any plans. The weather looks like it will be the same as today. We might go out somewhere and look for breaks in the clouds.

The ice is melting – 5 January 2021

Time to get the boots and the YakTrax on and go for a walk.

Just a walk round St Mo’s, but the ice is still treacherous, even more so as there was a slight melt happening and the water was covering the ice. With care it was possible to get round and that’s what we did. Just one circuit. The ducks haven’t returned from their holiday in a warm place and it looked like the swans had become frozen to the ice that covered St Mo’s pond, but they were just pretending and got up and staggered around while we watched. The worst bit of the walk was the boardwalk, because the ice runs for the whole width of the path with no snow and therefore nowhere to get a better grip. However, again, the YakTrax proved their worth and we completed the walk intact.

I made a loaf after lunch because we needed bread or at least we would tomorrow. For speed and also because I couldn’t be bothered with the faff of hand kneading, I asked the mixer to do the hard work and it did produce a decent dough. Set it to prove and headed off to St Mo’s again for a second chance at some photos, although I reckoned I had one in the bag already.

I tried another of the daring camera on the ice shots, but the ice was melting and I could hear it creaking a bit under my boots. I could also smell the decomposing leaf mass under the ice, so it definitely wasn’t as stable as I’d have liked. Four shots and I was off onto dry land again.

Back home and an hour or so’s work and I had a mono PoD of a park bench and a colour shot of the view from the ice. The PoD came from the morning walk with Scamp and the colour shot was from the afternoon.

The bread had completed its first prove and I placed it carefully into a Banneton which is a round basket made from rattan to do the second prove. Rattan is a climbing palm that grows in Indonesia. There, you’ve learned something today. I don’t often use the banneton, but it was recommended for the long proving times necessary for sourdough bread. It certainly produced a very decorative spiral pattern on the dough which rose quite quickly in the warm living room and the bread baked beautifully. Too late for our dinner unfortunately, maybe just as well because I don’t think it would have gone too well with a fiery chicken curry. The ice cream afterwards did go well with it.

Spent an annoying hour trying unsuccessfully to get rid of some dust bunnies on my sensor. I think I ended up with more than I started off with.

Spoke to Canute tonight. We were supposed to phone him, but instead, he phoned us. Had a long talk about the ‘joys’ of grandchildren. Living with Covid and the effects it had on small retail shops. I’d forgotten that his school clothes business would now be Click ’n’ Collect. It must be so difficult for small businesses in these days of constant on – off closures. We wished him well on his operation at the end of the month.

Tonight the temperature is forecast to drop to -5ºc. We may not be going far tomorrow.