Shopping in Stirling – 18 August 2021

We were away for the messages.

Scamp had mentioned that she fancied going to Sainsbury’s for the messages this week. The nearest one, that didn’t run the risk of five miles of queues because of road works, was in Stirling. As far as we knew, there would be no problem with folk digging up the road there, so off we went. We drove through the Raploch, once the worst housing estate in Scotland, now very up-market and the worst place to drive through in Scotland. Every few yards the road surface changes from tarmac to concrete to granite tiles. Speed bumps everywhere, and in the tiled areas they are colour matched to the tiles which makes driving very tricky, but ensures you keep within the 20mph limit. We found Sainsbury’s without any problem and I discovered I’d a message from Jamie with some very good news.

Lots of interesting things to buy in Sainsburys. First supermarket I’ve been in where they sell watches! Whatever next. But it felt like we’d gone back in time a year and a bit, because a lot of the shelves were empty. Not enough delivery drivers we’re told. Well, some of you silly buggers voted for Brexit and swallowed every fairy tale you were told. It looks like reality is coming home to bite you now that there aren’t enough low paid foreign workers wanting to come to the UK to work.

We’d found an interesting historical artefact when we were checking out the road to Sainsbury’s. There’s a Beheading Stone on a hill near the supermarket. We’d half intended going for a look, but as far as we could tell, there were no beheadings scheduled for today. Maybe another day then.

Back home we potted up the echinacea we bought on Monday. We’d bought a clay pot for it and Scamp had had it soaking in the bird bath for a few days. You have to do that with clay pots because otherwise they will draw water away from the compost and allow it to evaporate into the air. After we’d potted the plant up we gave it a good drink of pure rain water we’d collected during the heavy rain last week. Then it got to sit in the sun for a while at the front of the house, while a rose that had sat there all summer went to the back garden to rest a while.

I finally chopped and sawed down the remaining trunk and branches of the tree that had been growing between Angela’s garden and ours. The loppers did most of the work on the branches, but I had to resort to a panel saw for the trunk. I’d been talking to Fred before that and he was telling me that he recycles all his tree branches with a shredder. I don’t think we have enough trees to warrant the purchase of a shredder, but it would have been useful today. However, it all went into the brown bin today and it gets lifted tomorrow.

Went for a walk in the woods of St Mo’s later and got today’s PoD. It’s a little ball of moss on a dead tree branch. I liked the way the sun was just catching the moss. Not everyone’s favourite, but I liked it which is the reason it got PoD.

A longer and calmer practise tonight trying to put together the ‘back end’ of the foxtrot routine. Sometimes if feels more like a ‘backside’ rather than a back end, but it’s coming together slowly.

Tomorrow we are intending to take Margie out for coffee somewhere.

An afternoon in the country – 17 August 2021

The morning was work. The afternoon was photography.

Scamp was off to have coffee with Isobel in the morning and I was left to my own devices. First thing to do was to investigate the leaking shower cabinet. It turned out to be a leak in two corners. One tiny little drip and one a bit bigger. Both were being caused by mould growth in the sealant between the glass and the ceramic base of the shower. Half an hour of poking and prodding with a wee round pointed device whose original purpose was to score cardboard teased most of the gunge out and allowed me to start to dry the offending parts. Left them to dry out properly by themselves and started the second, and bigger, task.

The top of the chest of drawers in my room has not seen the light of day for about a year. Today I was set to remedy that. I had a big IKEA bag ready to hold the stuff that was going to the skips, that meant most of it. Some things I didn’t really want to chuck away, but I had to ask myself if I was ever likely to use it again and if I wasn’t, was I emotionally attached to it. If the answer to either of those questions was YES, then it got to stay for six months. If the answer to both question NO, then it was going to the skip, via the IKEA bag. Some things even got he heave after failing only one test. Sometimes you have to be ruthless. As the bag got fuller and fuller, the top of the chest of drawers magically appeared.

After Scamp came back and we had lunch, I took all the stuff in the car to the skips. Heavens, Jamie, you’re not going to believe this, but I even parted with a camera. A working camera! I won’t list all that went to landfill, but there was a a lot. With the boot of the car empty I could go to B&Q to get a tube of sealant for the shower, and have somewhere to put it. Next stop was Screwfix for a Hive plug socket. The number of times I’ve left the house and driven to the bottom of the road wondering if I’ve left the phone charger or some other piece of dodgy equipment switched on. Now I can check on my phone if it’s on and with a touch of the screen, turn it off. Hopefully it will be worth the money in peace of mind. Two things in the boot. Time for some photo opportunities.

Drove up to Fannyside Moor and found an old fencepost strapped to its new replacement with its great collection of mosses and lichen. It looked like a little garden, although one comment on Flickr likened it to a “micro rainforest”. I understand what he meant. It got PoD. Found a little wee ladybird with sixteen spots. Dark red wing covers and white spots. It’s a Cream-spot Ladybird (Calvia quattuordecimguttata) and it’s not very rare.

Back home, Scamp made Sea Bass with asparagus and home grown Potatoes. Absolutely brilliant. Later we had a quick practise of the final parts of the Foxtrot we’ve been learning. I say ’final’, but it’s likely the teachers will add another two or three little bits to the end of the routine.

No plans for tomorrow, although a trip out for ‘the messages’ is not out of the question.

A day of two halves – 25 April 2021

The first part was the active half, the second was the relaxing part.

The active part was intended to be a walk along the Forth & Clyde canal from Auchinstarry to Twechar and then the return journey with a detour to Queenzieburn then by the railway walkway back to the car. However, both the parking places local to the walk were completely full. That’s one of the disadvantages of this glorious weather we’re enjoying lately. Everyone wants to be out in the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine. A quick reappraisal on the hoof suggested that Colzium Estate in Kilsyth might be an appropriate place for a shorter walk. So that’s what we did.

The parking at Colzium was fairly busy too, but we got parked quite easily. We walked a few of the paths we’d been on before and then found a couple of new ones. The entire estate is criss crossed with paths, some official, but most just short cuts through the trees. Although most of the flowers weren’t fully out yet, we did see some rhododendrons with buds almost ready to burst. Out near an old house in the north of the estate I found some beautiful moss fruiting bodies and they made PoD. We also watched Mrs Duck out with the weans for a swim round the old curling pond which is now almost completely overgrown. All in all we covered about two miles. About half of the distance we’d have managed if we’d gone along the canal, but some poor people have to work for a living and can only get out at weekends. We’re lucky enough to be able to go out anytime we want.

Back home it was the leftovers from yesterday’s curry for lunch and it tasted a lot better than it did last night. That’s often the way with a curry, though. After that we sat on the front step enjoying the sun and the relaxing half of the day. Scamp was reading and I was watching a YouTube video about building a catalog in Capture One and populating it. Sounds terribly dull, but I found out that the program may be a good replacement for the ageing Lightroom. Certainly worth considering.

There was no dance class tonight because only two couples, us included, were available. A good decision, really. It made a change to have a night off.

Tomorrow we are booked to have our next Covid survey and test. Can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I’ll put up with it. Tesco delivery is due too and then later I’ve got an appointment for my second jag. Busy day tomorrow. No time to enjoy the excitement of the shops opening for the first time since Christmas! There will be other days I’m sure.

Another early rise – 13 March 2021

Just because we don’t need to.

Third time this week we rose early. Instead of having breakfast in bed we had it in the living room, fully dressed. Only one of those times was enforced, the other twice were voluntary. Can’t say it made the day any better, or more memorable, but it meant we saw more of it. It may continue and it may not, but for the moment it’s fine.

It was a lovely morning with sun streaming in the window. However we were waiting, or at least I was waiting for a parcel from Amazon. One of the great things about an Echo/Alexa is that it spins a green light if you have a notification, which is usually an Amazon delivery. What’s not so great is when the lady in the grey cylinder tells all and sundry what’s in the delivery, especially if it’s Scamp’s birthday present and Scamp is sitting right next to me on the couch! Well, at least she knows now that I remembered what she asked for. The delivery usually arrives within an hour of the notification. Today? Six hours.

Lunch was a giant fish finger and an egg each.  I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the eggy face in the frying pan.

The rest of the day was dull. Weather wise and also emotionally. Not a lot to do, rain looked as if it was just about to pelt down again. Scamp went out to the shops for milk. I stayed in to wait for the parcel that was no longer a surprise. The rain didn’t arrive.

Later I went for a walk to find a PoD. It turned out to be some moss seed stems. Proper name, fruiting bodies, technical term sporophytes. Otherwise known as Green Blobs (when immature) and Brown Trumpets (when fully mature). The ones you see here were found on a tree trunk and growing head-down which didn’t fit my idea of the picture, so they were rotated and tweaked in Lightroom. It had stayed dry for most of my walk, but the rain came on as I was heading home.

Dinner tonight was a starter of pizza bread with olive oil, rosemary and sea salt. It started off as a bit of left over pizza dough from yesterday, but it tasted quite good, if a bit thin. Main course was another of Charlie Bigham’s ready meals. This one was Veggy Lasagne. Honestly I didn’t notice that there was no meat in it. It was quite delicious. Pudding was another CB offering of Sticky Toffee Pudding. Not as good as Scamp’s, but still not bad. Main and a pudding for two for a tenner.

That was about it for a dull day with an unwanted surprise.

Tomorrow breakfast in bed has been ordered by Scamp.


Cold damp and dull – 4 March 2021

That about sums up today.

Sometimes it’s hard to get up much interest, especially when the sun isn’t interested in doing much work. I assume it is up there, above the clouds, but it’s shirking on it’s job as far as I’m concerned. Nothing but milky white skies and the occasional rain. I’m looking for Spring and not finding it.

Scamp wanted to go for seed compost today and the only place we could be sure of getting any was B&Q. We could have driven to Falkirk, to the garden centre there, but until the Littlest Witch decides we’ve been good enough to allow us to go to garden centres, we’d have to go through the rigmarole of ordering online and then using click and collect. Plus it’s not the same as being free to wander round the plants and look at things. At least B&Q for all its faults, and there are a fair few, has an outdoor section with plants and a selection of compost types and bag sizes. Scamp eventually settled on two bags of seed compost. One for immediate use and another as a backup for later use. We agreed that it’s still a bit early for planting seeds, better to wait until later in the month or possibly even until April. Scotland is always a bit behind the rest of the uk in gardening terms.

Before we went driving through Cumbersheugh to B&Q I thought it might be a good idea to put some petrol in Blue. It’s been so long since I filled the tank, some time last year I believe, that I couldn’t remember which side the filler cap was on. Yes, I know there is a sign on the dash to tell you, but that’s not much use when you’ve just switched the engine off. Besides, it’s something I really should know without a prompt. It was passenger’s side.

Back home and after lunch, which was ‘Gluey Soup’ (Scamp’s description) I went for a walk in St Mo’s with the stated purpose of re-photographing yesterday’s PoD using the macro lens. Perhaps it was that statement of intent that made Scamp decide that a day inside would be better than watching me grovelling around moss covered stones. I did find the source of yesterday’s PoD and as you can see, well hopefully you can see, you get a much more “up close and personal” view with a macro lens. When I was looking at the photos on the computer, later, I was amazed at the detail the new lens resolves. I really am impressed.

The light wasn’t good today, but I was finding some good subjects when I got talking to a bloke who just walks round and round St Mo’s pond. I’d just intended to pass the time of day with him, but instead we stood there for about half an hour talking, or me listening and him talking. Eventually when he left to continue his circuits, what light there had been had gone and I’d missed my chance of more macros. Hopefully the light will be better tomorrow.

Phoned the garage today about the horn problem and the car is booked in for next Wednesday. That will mean a drive to Stirling, breaking the rules set by the Littlest Witch and the rest of her lying cohort, at least that’s the way they are portrayed by the media. While Alex Salmond is held up as a shining light of truth. Aye Right!

Tomorrow, hopefully, we might get out for a walk … together.

The day that the rains came – 14 February 2021

At last the snow was retreating.

We’d had a long day yesterday. Today was a day for catching up with stuff and not doing much more than that. What I did do was post yesterday’s Robin painting and catch up with yesterday’s blog. I also baked some bread, practised the rumba we learned over the last two weeks, learned a new waltz routine and baked a loaf.

The catch up of blog and painting were done in the morning and the early afternoon. The bread was made in the early afternoon, but didn’t even see the oven until about 8pm, just after the dance class where we learned the new waltz routine which looked quite complicated at first until I realised that it was made up of bits and pieces we’d picked up in Michael’s and Kirsty’s classes, then it was just a case of fitting them together as seamlessly as possible. We also went over the rumba routine we learned last week and got rid of some of the rough edges.

Spoke to JIC in the evening and discussed finance with him and also Vixen’s sore eye. I swear that dog is the most accident prone canine I’ve ever heard of. For such a big, strong, absolutely fearless animal, she’s had more than her fair share of bumps and scrapes.

That was about it apart from one of us standing at the window every half hour reporting on the disappearing snow. The only problem is that it’s disappearing too slowly for some folk!

Tomorrow we may go shopping on foot. I might take a more interesting photo than today’s PoD which was some moss growing on our Magnolia Stellata. That and also get today’s “Venice” prompt finished and tomorrow’s “Cycle” completed too. If I get half of those thing completed, I’ll be a happier bunny.

Little bits of snow on the breeze – 7 February 2021

Not real snow. Not flakes of snow or blizzards, but what my mum used to call ‘Piling Snow’.

Piling snow is more like hail than snow. It’s usually the precursor to ‘real’ snow, but not today. Today it was just piling snow all day. Like little soft pills of snow. Not hard like hail, but soft and spongy like those little expanded polystyrene balls that get everywhere. Piling snow gets everywhere too, probably because it’s solid enough to bounce off the leaves of plants and soft enough not to break up when it lands. Strange stuff and it was there on the wind almost all day.

I eventually bowed to the inevitable and went for a walk in St Mo’s, but not before I made my bread from the Bread Baking Club, a present from my son and his wife. This bread was “Honey Wheat Baguettes”. Strange dough made from two types of flour, chocolate powder, coffee powder, dark brown sugar, honey, salt, butter and yeast. With it mixed, kneaded and proving I set off, wrapped up like Nanook of the North. I’d not idea what I was going to photograph today. With a cold east wind and the snow piling around me I did my best to find something interesting, but the best I could find was a little blob of moss on a tree trunk. I liked the colour and the detail in the tiny baby flowers. I also found an almost abstract collection of snow and ice on another bit of moss. The tree trunk moss won PoD the other is on Flickr if you’re interested.

Back home I baked the bread rolls in the oven once the chicken was roasted. The chicken looked delicious and it was. The nascent bread looked disgusting. I won’t tell you what it looked like! However, miracles do happen. They did happen in this case and the batch of rolls turned out very nice. Good texture and interesting taste. Even Scamp agreed and she doesn’t like honey.

Dancing class tonight was Mambo, Rumba and Jive with a bit of sequence Quickstep thrown in for good measure. Not bad in sixty minutes! We did a lot better this week, evidence that practise pays off, as does patience from Scamp. Thank you dear!

Spoke to JIC later on the phone and heard about his long term plans which sound interesting to say the least. Also, it’s even colder down south than up here.

Sketch for today was “Fishing Boat”. I’m not a very nautical person. The nearest I’ve come to a fishing boat was cod fishing on a wee boat from Troon many, many years ago. However thanks to Wikipedia image searches, I present to you the good ship INK 1125 sailing from a port near you … wherever you are.

That was about it for today. Hopefully the weather will get its act together by tomorrow and decide if it’s going to snow or not. Personally I’d prefer Not, but I don’t get to choose. We’ll take what we get.

An improving picture – 6 February 2021

It was actually dry when we woke today.

We’ve had so much rain recently, it was quite a surprise to look out of a window without raindrops on it. Even when Scamp announced she was going to walk down to the shops to get tonight’s dinner, it was still dry. I wasn’t going. I was staying to work on tonight’s sketch which involved people, or at least a person and I really need the practise in people drawing. When she returned, she reported that there was a bit of rain in the wind, but nothing like the last few days.

After lunch I went for a walk round St Mo’s. ‘Round the Policies’ as Colin would say. Just checking out the usual photo spots to see if there was anything worthwhile. I did see a crocodile, actually a log lying low in the water with two branch stubs that looked like eyes. Well, it looked like that to me. I thought it might make PoD, but a bit of chimping dispelled that thought. No, PoD went to some green blobs. Fruiting bodies of moss. I can’t remember when I first saw the ‘Green Blobs’, but it was many years ago and they were growing on a low tree branch. They are the most remarkable things and only really visible when you look carefully and it helps to be looking through a macro lens. With a potential PoD and a crocodile, it was time to head home.

Dinner tonight turned out to be, not the chicken that Scamp had lugged up from the shops, but a veg curry made from a Spice Tailor kit. It tasted brilliant, really superb. Scamp made it, that’s why.

With that done and the PoD sorted, I started making more detailed preparatory drawings for “Dance”. Finally got one I liked and laid on a few washes. It started to come together and that’s what went on display around the world on Facebook tonight. I know it’s not perfect, but it gives the feeling of movement, I think. That’s what I was aiming for.

Well, it stayed dry almost all day today but it’s to be much colder tomorrow if the weather fairies are to be believed. We’ll wait and wonder.

Fishing, Pizzas and Ironing – 15 January 2021

I should make it clear that I didn’t do all of these things, but I was a participant.

Pizza for lunch. Hand made dough while Scamp ironed things. Too many things in my opinion, but at times she’s a perfectionist and demands her own standards. The pizza dough looked great. IMO the finished pizza wasn’t quite as great, however, Scamp disagreed as was her right. Too long in the oven or the oven too high, I’m not sure. My excuse is that it’s been a long time since I’ve made a pizza. Must try harder.

That’s Ironing and Pizza covered. The ‘Fishing’ is a bit of a red herring :-). What it really means is we “went for the messages”. We drove to M&S because we had a fairly long list of stuff to get and Scamp was coming down with the cold, but still wanted to get out the house for a while. Driving to M&S was the right solution today. The main items on the list by far was fish. Fish in its many varieties and colours. Fish on a Friday is traditional in some places, so it made sense. We got a few bits of veg too. Just a general shop really. We’ve got a Tesco delivery booked for Monday but sometimes you like to see what you’re buying, especially fruit and veg which Tesco are a bit hit and miss with. I think they throw some of the fruit into the basket from the other side of the shop.

So, Fishing, Pizzas and Ironing covered and explained. Another load of washing went into the new machine and came out drier than they did from the old one. I went for a walk in St Mo’s to get some more of the moss photos using a macro lens on my ancient Oly E-PL5. Solid and chunky. Hardly any plastic went into its construction, just glass and metal really. For such a tiny wee camera it weighs a ton. PoD was the little water drop jewel on a moss fruiting body. If you look on Flickr you’ll see its neighbour, the ‘Periscopes’.

Hazy: I finished Tales from the Folly, the short story collection we talked about. I’d managed to spin it out to one story a day, well, sometimes two a day. Mostly very good with the inevitable one or two duff ones. Good recommendation, thanks.
Now waiting for the price of “What Abigail Did …” to come down to a reasonable price, once it appears, that is. Now starting the last in the Slow Horses series. Another one I’ve been keeping on the back burner for a long time.

No plans for tomorrow. Weather looks cold and wet. I might paint something.

Hot Stuff – 4 May 2020

Up at 4.30am for a cooling glass of OJ.

It did the trick, but it took me ages to get back to sleep again. It was, in the words of the song “Too … Damn … Hot!” I finally broke surface just before 8.30, but still felt tired. We both agreed that we need to change the duvet cover to our cheapo IKEA low tog one. That was one job added to the to-do list.

Scamp was delighted to hear that while we were struggling with heat, the grass was getting a good soaking from the rain. That meant we didn’t have to water the combined weedkiller, mosskiller, lawn feed into the roots of the front grass again. We didn’t bother to spread any on the back grass, because if all the weeds and moss was killed off, there wouldn’t be much else there, except about a dozen blades of grass.

Last night I’d been on the point of removing myself from Every Day in May on Facebook.  Today I did it. EDiM is a private group for sketchers to share and discuss our interpretation of a daily prompt. It’s a great idea and one I’ve taken to in the past couple of years. Unfortunately, a change in Admins has meant a change in the rules. I’m in agreement with some, but felt the need to complain about some that have been slipped in quietly in the dead of night. Now a member can’t post a drawing/sketch in their own page and then link it to EDiM. The Admin gave a somewhat contorted reasoning for this new rule. I disagreed. Today I received a reply to my criticism which basically explained how to post the pic twice, once to my page and then once to EDiM page. Now I know the difference between condensation and condescension and I hate being talked down to. That is why my response was “Wrong Answer.” Left the message a couple of hours to be read by anyone passing by and then left the group. I know the words “Toys” and “Pram” may be in your mind, but I don’t like to be told how to do something the awkward way when there are already routes in the software to do it much more neatly. Too many leaders in that group now, I believe. Too many rules.

We went for a walk, our daily exercise to St Mo’s. When we were walking there, we both spotted a bunch of daisies sprouting from a crack in the mortar of a wall. They became the PoD. Scallywag Daisies.

Scamp was baking today while I was working in the painting room. She made a Banana Cake which we haven’t tasted yet and also a Fruit Loaf which was very nice, especially spread with butter and with a cup of tea to wash it down. Tomorrow, hopefully we will get to taste the Banana Cake.

That was about it for the day. The rain cleared up halfway through the morning and the sun shone which was probably what enticed us out to St Mo’s. Weather seems set to improve in the next few days, but tales from the weather fairies of “Wintry Showers!!!” at the weekend. I don’t like the sound of that!

May need to go out for milk tomorrow, but just down to the local shops.

Oh, yes, and May The Fourth Be With You.