Coffee – 16 March 2022

Yesterday I got a box of coffee. This morning I was drinking it.

Unfortunately it was Costa coffee I was drinking, but the company made up for it. John, Val and I were the trio of Auld Guys today. We just sat and talked for an hour and a half, mainly about folk we knew and worked beside. We also heard about John’s trip to Keswick for Big Ross’s stag party. A relaxed hour and a half for me at least. Eventually we’d talked ourselves out and it was time to go.

I was heading over to Abronhill and Val accepted a lift with me. I think his leg were giving him problems today and he was happy to be driven home on a dull day. I dropped him at his house and headed back to the recycling centre. The reason I was going to Abronhill was to take a DVD player and a bag of other bits and pieces to the skips. For once the recycling centre was fairly quiet and everything got dumped without any problem.

From there I drove up to Fannyside to see if the wee brown ladybird was still there. I though it might have been hibernating, but apparently not, because it was nowhere to be seen. I did find loads of lichen, Stag’s Horn and Cladonia and they kept me busy for a while. Switched to the 18mm wide angle and got some landscapes. Light wasn’t really very good. Quite flat and uninteresting, as were most of the photos. PoD went to a blob of moss with some fruiting bodies on top. Looked like a little green hill.

While I was driving home I got a notion to make Minestrone for dinner. I found the recipe in an old cook book and between us, Scamp and I worked out what we needed to augment the veg we had in the fridge. Then we walked down to the shops and bought just that and nothing that we didn’t need, not even a bottle of gin! We were very good today.

Spent a good hour or so while the soup was simmering away, trying to find a solution to a problem with the 18mm lens. There’s a blue cast at the edges of the frame and although I can fix it quite easily, it shouldn’t be there. After some research, I found out that it’s quite common to have a colour cast on ultra-wide lenses. It’s just something you have to put up with, but there is a fix and it’s built into Lightroom and it’s in the Library module. It’s called ‘Flat-Field Correction’. Google those words and you’ll find directions. Some preparation work needs to be done first before it will work.
Dear readers, that last paragraph was an aide mémoire for me in the future to remind me how to fix the problem of the blue cast.

Hoping to go to see Margie tomorrow and hear more of her madcap stories. I must take my concertina sketch book with me. Other than that, not a lot planned, although weather looks like it’s improving. Sub-zero tonight predicted.

Walking in the rain – 15 February 2022

This morning Scamp wanted to go for a walk.

After breakfast and after footering about for a while, Scamp said “I’m going for a walk”. I thought I’d better go with her just in case she dropped her glasses and couldn’t find her way home. Anyway, it was an opportunity to get a morning photo and maybe avoid having the go out later in the rain to get one.

We walked down to Broadwood, aiming to go round the boardwalk, then across the dam and up the hill to the shops to get milk on the way home. We were walking across the boardwalk when we felt the first drops of rain. It wasn’t too heavy at first, but soon settled into a soaking rain shower. We decided to cut out the walk over the dam and just walk to the shops. That was when the wind got up and we were feeling the full force of the rain blowing over the loch with no windbreaks to give us shelter. By the time we got to the stadium and some shelter from the rain and wind, we were already fairly wet. Bergy jackets are great for keeping your top half dry, but our jeans were just like blotting paper, soaking up the rain. We went to the shops and got milk and some oranges, then made our way home from there with a bit of blue sky here and there letting us know that the worst of the rain had gone.

After lunch and still footering about Scamp suggested we eat out of the freezer today. It was a good idea as the freezer is getting stuffed with food and we really could do with eating some of it instead of throwing it out when it finally goes out of date. That’s what we did, except, Scamp changed her mind and instead of the fish she was going to have, made a ratatouille instead, but keeping to the ethos of ‘eat out of the freezer’ she ate out our the fridge instead. I had a tub of mince ragu in the freezer and that would make a good sauce for some pasta. Scamp went further by making shortcrust pastry for a rhubarb & ginger pie. I’d plenty of time until I needed to defrost and cook my ragu, so it was boots on again and off to St Mo’s to bolster the few photos I’d taken in the morning. PoD came from that walk. It’s a macro of the fruiting bodies of moss plants. I find them fascinating.  Also worth noting is that today’s PoD is the 3,333rd photo to be nominated PoD in the ten years of 365s!

Dinner was good and we both have some left over for tomorrow’s lunch. Rhubarb & ginger pie was fine, but although the pastry was excellent, the rhubarb was a bit tasteless, Scamp thought and I chipped in with the ginger being a bit tough. As I was in charge of chopping up the ginger, I have to shoulder half the blame.

Today’s prompt was Up On The Roof. I’m fairly happy with that music and familiar with it too, however with two named storms due to make landfall in the next few days, ’up on the roof’ was not a place I wanted to be. Instead I drew on an old favourite of mine and sketched one of the gargoyles from Notre-Dame long before the fire. I hope these stone devils made it through the flames.
My apologies to any French people viewing this as I’ve take a few liberties with the architecture of Paris :-\

Tomorrow the first of the storms is set to come our way. Different reports give different scenarios. Hopefully it will just be a glancing blow we’ll get and not a full on body punch. I don’t see us going very far.

Happy Anniversary to us – 30 January 2022

Not the legal one, but the one we celebrate.

The other anniversary, next month is just the day we made it legal. This one is more important. If it hadn’t happened, the second one wouldn’t have happened either.

Because this was a special day we lay in bed and read for longer than was absolutely necessary. Then because the weather fairies were warning of heavy rain and strong winds later, we chose to go for a walk in the morning. The destination was Broadwood Loch and we walked round then over to the exercise machines and home via M&S for a steak for me and some oranges for Scamp. Back home for lunch and to check out today’s only picture. Actually it was three pictures of the same fencepost with its little garden on top. Never only take one picture of something interesting, just in case something happens, it’s out of focus, it’s a little bit shaken or and elephant charges past and blocks the view of the subject. Two or even better, three shots will usually suffice.

Lunch was calling and although my two slice of bacon and an egg was minimal for me, it needed to be after yesterday’s over eating and drinking. Watched the new replacement politics show for Andrew Marr. Not a patch on the great man. Sophie Raworth is trying hard, but she’s just not as incisive as the great man. Today she was interviewing Liz Truss. My heavens, that woman just sounds like a Tory. That same hectoring voice and a stare that would put a basilisk to shame.

Satisfied that the photo had worked, we settled down to do today’s Wordle. It appears that my spellchecker hasn’t heard of it yet. It’s an addictive word game where you only get six tries to find a five letter word. It’s a bit like the old Mastermind peg game, but alphabetical. I’m sure you’ve tried it, Hazy. Jamie, maybe not so much. Scamp likens it to the crossword puzzles my dad used to do many year ago. If you haven’t hear of it, Google it. It’s not Angry Birds or Candy Crush, it’s not going to steal away hours of your life and leave you wondering what happened to today.

I had thought about going over to St Mo’s to augment my three shots, but there was no need. I was satisfied with the quality and composition of my finished article. Besides it was time to get the dinner ready. My steak was just excellent. Maybe slightly overcooked, but it hadn’t lost any flavour by that. Scamp’s fish looked lovely too, but it was trout or salmon and I’m not a great fan. Our accompaniment was baked potato and cabbage.

As we were cooking dinner that wind started rising and the rain was driving through. I for one was glad we weren’t going out later. Jamie too was commenting that he was lucky for once and had timed his return from the US to perfection, just missing their snow-bomb. He seemed to enjoy the visit and the pizzas, although a pizza topped with mashed potato and bacon didn’t appeal to me.

Tomorrow looks like a repeat of today.  More rain, more wind.  That’s Scotland!  Scamp may be going for coffee with June.  I’ve two letters to write.  Hopefully I’ll get at least one done.

Dancin’ – 27 January 2022

Out photographing in the morning sun, dancing in the afternoon and fish ’n’ chips for dinner. Does life get any better than this?

I knew that most of the afternoon would be taken up with driving and dancing, neither of which I mind, but it was a lovely clear day and probably the only good day we’ve had for at least a week. The only way out of this and out in the fresh air was to go early, and that’s what I did.

I only had an hour or so out in the wilds of St Mo’s, but the light was good and bits and pieces of colour are appearing now. Green shoots are appearing, maybe a bit early, but the trees are preparing next years greenery already. However, it wasn’t the greenery or the trees that made PoD it was an alien looking landscape that was moss fruiting bodies in the morning light.

Back home, a quick lunch and we were off to Paisley, Sunny Paisley today. Still the same convoluted traffic system with a multitude of traffic lights. But we got there, a little later than anticipated, but we got seats too, although we didn’t sit on them much. I think the longest I was sitting was when the tea was served and when they played two line dances (if you can call ‘Waltz across Texas’ a dance. It’s more a walk around the floor with a grumpy face) back to back. The rest of the time we were on the floor for a waltz, every sequence dance, tango, salsa. Basically, you name it, we danced it. Some better than others, some for less than a minute before we admitted we didn’t know what we were meant to be doing.

We’d agreed that we would leave half an hour early today to try to avoid the worst of the traffic going through Paisley town centre. It worked. That half hour early must have cut at least an hour off the drive home.

I went for a walk to the shops when we got back, well, it is Thursday and traditions must be upheld. I didn’t take a camera with me because I was sure I’d enough in the bag from the morning walk, and so it turned out. It was a pity in a way, because there was a glorious sunset, all reds and golds.  Came home to the smell of home made Fish ‘n’ Chips.  Definitely the best fish and chips I’ve had for months.  Scamp’s expertise again.

Tomorrow doesn’t look anywhere like as good as today with wind, and rain forecast. If we manage to get out for a walk we’ll be lucky. Have a good flight home, Jamie.



Glasses – 19 November 2021

Driving in Larky on a Friday. Not a task for the faint hearted.

I’ve often thought that the best place in the world to have a driving test area would be Larky. If you can drive there, you can drive anywhere.

At lunchtime today we got the phone call to say that the glasses had been found and were ready to pick up. I was expecting a delivery from Amazon and with their usual helpfulness they gave us a window of about eleven hours. Somewhere between 11am and 10pm. Why bother? With that in mind, Scamp volunteered to wait in for the parcels while I drove to Larky to pick up the glasses. I decided to park at the Co-op because I had a parcel to post and the Co-op houses a the post office for Larky. There were cars abandoned everywhere and although there is a sort of one way system in the car park, nobody paid any heed to it. Lorries, delivery vans and a multitude of little old ladies with steely eyes were determined to either get into their parking space or out onto the road again and they were giving no quarter, but expecting everyone to get out of their way.

There was a queue of ten people all waiting with their parcels and only one person serving. I gave up and went to pick up the glasses. Got them and as I was leaving I asked the assistant where I could post a letter. She told me the sorting office was across the road and I could drop it in there if it was open. It appeared that the sorting office had different opening hours for every day of the week, but luckily it would be open for another half hour. That gave me enough time to go back to the car and collect my parcel and get rid of it too. It was while I was walking back I noticed that nearly everyone seems to park on the wrong side of the road in Larky, some even double park on the wrong side. That’s considered normal in the town. I even saw someone trying to reverse park into a space on the wrong side of the road. Truly, Larky on a Friday afternoon is in a different world.

I drove home and handed over the glasses in their case. Scamp was delighted, they fitted, were comfortable and most importantly she could see with them. Not perfectly, some things like door frames are still a bit rounded, but much, much better than the glasses she had been suffering with for the last few days. That was a relief.

I’d taken my own advice today and gone out early to get a photo. I got more than one, but not a lot more. That meant I didn’t need to go looking for pictures on a dull afternoon. I did need to get tonight’s dinner, so I got ready to walk to the shops and just at that moment the Amazon man came to the door. I got the parcels after I’d read out my six digit code, Amazon’s new security system that might last as long as a week. The bloke seemed to breathe a sigh of relief when I read out he number. I imagine he’d seen a few blank faces this week already.

I left the opening of the parcels until I came back from the shops. The external SSD I bought is tiny and has a capacity of 1TB. Really fast too. It’s been play tested tonight.

PoD today was a little mushroom with a tiny beetle sheltering inside.

I’m hoping for a bit brighter day tomorrow. We really deserve some sunshine.

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.