Dancin’ – 30 June 2022

Out dancing in Paisley

We drove over to Paisley just after midday for today’s tea dance. Got there late as usual. My fault again, as usual. Danced the afternoon away. We didn’t dance the Tango because we were too busy talking and we didn’t dance the Quickstep, because we can’t remember any of the steps Michael taught us and we never get a straight run at it with Stewart and Jane because we’re off visiting somewhere. One of these times we’ll get a chance for a private lesson and begin to dance the Quickstep. Everything else, Waltz, Social Foxtrot, Rumba and Cha-Cha plus innumerable sequence dances. It was a great way of adding to our step count and must have done us some good, because we were both exhausted when the ‘Last Waltz’ was called.

When the dancing was done, I gave Stewart the painting he’d asked me for back in February. It’s not the exact one he saw on Facebook, but a very good copy, and a larger copy too. I think it’s going to an 80 year old lady who simply loves ‘Green Door’ by Shakin Stevens and that’s what’s in the painting, my version of Green Door. I told him that I hoped it would exorcise that song which constantly runs through my head. I catch myself singing it at odd times through the day. It must be some kind of strange disease, because I hate that song!

As we were driving home I kept watching the great black clouds that were gathering in front of us and remembered the warning ‘Alexa’ gave this morning for thunderstorms. However, we got home without getting wet. The car took a bit of a soaking, but we were dry. Scamp’s washing that she’d left out also got an extra rinse from the rain, but the sun was warm and there was a gentle breeze, so most of them were drying. Despite that, she decided it was time to take them in and it was a good choice, because not long after that, the rain came.

I couldn’t be bothered going over to St Mo’s after the rain stopped. Instead I took some photos in and around the garden, but they weren’t that good. Despite my best efforts, I just couldn’t make a silk purse out of that sow’s ear. It was after our, Bacon and Borlotti Beans, dinner when I took a look outside and saw the light shining through the rain and the roses that grow round the back door. That’s where today’s PoD came from. Roses in the rain.

For once, I enjoyed the tea dance. I felt at home with most of the dances, even the social foxtrot which we’ve never managed, we did quite well today. It wasn’t full of fancy moves, it was just moving to the music, but that’s what dancing is, isn’t it?

Absolutely no plans for tomorrow, but there will be something, you can bet your boots on that.

Squaring the circle – 29 June 2022

Today we were in the market for some supports to help stop the sag.

We drove to Torwood and argued about discussed the various options for a support for at least one of Scamp’s roses. They really are massive and a bit lanky. Eventually we settled on two different, totally different support systems. One was interlocking metal rods that create a pentagonal frame for a basically round bush in a square pot. The other was three bamboo hoops, so essentially six legs, again supporting a round bush in a square pot with the addition of some coarse garden twine. We’ll see how they survive the summer into the autumn.

With the roses now better supported and feeling uplifted ourselves we drove back via Tesco for some real essentials. Just stuff for dinner which would be the leftover curry from yesterday with the addition of one of those ‘real essentials’, decent Garam Masala. The stuff we’d been using was 90% cinnamon and 10% floor sweepings. Not good. On the way out I spotted Fred buying some flowers for Mrs Fred and we had a wee blether for a while, comparing books we’d lent each other. I knew Scamp would be waiting patiently in the car for me, but I made my excuse and left agreeing to phone Fred later in the week.

After we’d both cut ourselves to ribbons squeezing the rose bushes into their new cordons, Scamp pruned some of the plants that were running to seed and I pruned the highest of the roses that were also going over.

With the garden work done just in time to avoid a heavy shower, we waited a while for the sun to come out and went our usual ways. Scamp went to do more rearranging of plants in the garden and I went for a quick walk round St Mo’s. Two circuits gave me what I thought was a skinny little flying ant, but what turned out to be a Sabre Wasp. That became PoD.

I’d a painting to do today for one of our dance teachers. It’s been promised since March and I kept putting it off to do other ones. Today I finished it, mounted it and framed it. We’re intending to go to a Tea Dance tomorrow, so I can deliver it to him then. Hope he likes it.

Later we watched the Sewing Bee and Scamp correctly predicted the winner. Because the SB was on at the same time as Andy Murray’s second round match, we missed the thrilling second half, having watched the first half earlier. If you don’t want to know the score, look away now …

Right we’re back again. Since anyone who was interested, already knows who won and the rest of you aren’t interested, I’m not going to tell you.

Scamp was really pleased that one of the plants she’d been given when we were down at Jamie and Simonne’s was flowering. It’s a little pink geranium. She sent them a picture of it and also a picture of a rose called “Simply the Best” that looks quite startling just now. Of course she got good comments on both and she deserves them.

Tomorrow, as I said, we’re hoping to go dancing at Paisley. Other than that, nothing much planned.

Well, that was a long day – 22 June 2022

Today was the longest day. I used to argue with my dad about which was the longest day. You were right dad, the 22nd June

After a cup of coffee each, Scamp announced that she was going to the shops to get something for lunch, but before that she suggested Kedgeree for dinner. That suited me and I got a slab of smoked haddock out of the freezer. It was just warm enough to walk to the shops wearing shorts. I thought I’d made the wrong decision at first, but when you’re walking you don’t notice the cool breeze so much.

We walked back and made some lunch. Mine was roast ham, lettuce, baby tomatoes and sweet peppers in a wrap. Scamp had a tomato sandwich. After lunch, Scamp went out to work in the garden. I’d done some gardening yesterday, so that was my work done for the week. Instead, I took the Sony with a short macro lens and a Lensbaby for a walk in St Mo’s. Saw a sneaky spider on a grass flower waiting to ambush any unsuspecting insects and used the Lensbaby to photograph some wild Geraniums bobbing around on the breeze. The geraniums got PoD.

Back home I did a bit of painting, well it was more a case of just slapping some paint on a sketch I did last week. The paint improved the sketch, but then again, covering it in a coat of Crown gloss would have improved it too, in my opinion. I wasn’t impressed.

Tonight’s dinner was Kedgeree which is one of Scamp’s specialities. Spicy but not too hot and lots of lovely smoked haddock in it to give that salty taste to the rice. All topped off with an egg that was just runny and no more. Lovely meal.

Watched another Sewing Bee tonight, but I think it was last week’s episode. I won’t say who left tonight just in case any of my readers haven’t watched it yet. I’d intended watching the first episode of Slough House tonight on Apple TV+ after I signed up to Apple for at least a month. I’d just finished Mick Herron’s latest book, Bad Actors. In the epilogue he explains all the shenanigans that went into making the film for Apple.

Tomorrow we’re booked for coffee with Isobel and after that a visit to Calders is on the cards to find a circular metal support to carry the weight of the flowers on Scamp’s latest rose – Lady of Shalott.

Rain – 9 May 2022

It was one of those days that started wet and just got wetter.

We needed the rain for the garden. We’ve had a few weeks of what can only be called Drought recently. Last week that finally ended when the rain blew in from the west. However now we’ve had enough rain. The buckets are full and the garden is pleasantly refreshed. Even the grass and the woodlands are bursting with fresh green, which is a great sight to see. But you can have too much of a good thing. We need the rain to taper off a bit to let that other natural source of growth stimulation, Sunshine, start doing some good work. Let the sun shine in and let the rain go somewhere else where it will be appreciated.

Lunch was another version of Crimpet™ Thins. Scamp had cheese and beetroot. I had ham, cheese and beetroot. But while Scamp made hers the traditional way, in the toaster, I gave mine a 20 second zap in the microwave first. That gave enough heat to melt the cheese in the bread. More experimentation needed.

Because of that, and the unlikelihood of getting anywhere to take some photos today, I started doing a bit of sketching and painting. I’d really meant to make a start on EDiM (Every Day in May) on Flickr. The main site for it is on Facebook, but after a bit of a bust up with the woman who runs it there, I only post to the Flickr group. However this May is going to be very busy for us and it’s unlikely I’ll be able to complete the 31 daily sketches that are required. So with that in mind, I thought I’d do a couple of quick sketches just to show willing. They didn’t turn out very well, but it was fun trying.

While I was engrossed in my paint splashes, Scamp was doing the opposite, she was cleaning and tidying the bathroom. Like she says, it needed done and today was, if not the best day to do it, at least a better use of a dull, wet day. I know I should have helped out, but it’s a small bath room, too small for two people to work in without really getting in each other’s way. I left her to it and made dinner. Monday dinner is almost always Italian in flavour. Today it was Red Pasta. The pasta in the cupboard (today it was mixed) with a tomato based ragu containing shallots and red peppers chopped fine. It was deemed ok! Foodies! We love to discuss and critique everything we eat.

Eventually I gave in and grabbed a camera and ventured into the garden to get some photos of the rhododendron bush that’s nearly flowering … in the rain. That’s what gets photogs a bad name.

Tomorrow we may go looking for a pair of brogues for me. No mention of another dress for Scamp. That doesn’t mean something won’t catch her eye, but I never said that.

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!

Coffee with Isobel – 28 February 2022

Coffee with Isobel in Costa. Always an entertainment.

I was glad the company was good, because the coffee was awful. Watery liquid with no taste of coffee. You should watch some time and see how much hot water goes into the cup and how little coffee. However, that wasn’t why we were there. It was just a chance for Scamp and Isobel to catch up on recent events. Isobel goes for her pre-assessment on Wednesday and was full of questions for Sheila.

After an hour and a half or so, we went our separate ways. Isobel to meet a friend and us to go and get the messages in Tesco. Drove to Craigmarloch and frightened ourselves with the price of petrol. Nearly £1.50 per litre! I don’t know if I can afford to fill up the tank of the wee blue car.

After lunch I went out for a walk in St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which was another larch flower. It looked as if it and the pine cone were having a discussion, or more likely that the pine cone was giving the new arrival some hints and tips for an easy life in the woods. Or is that just me being stupid again. It’s called Anthropomorphism, just in case you are wondering. Then I thought the larch flower looked like a wee cup cake. I don’t think there is a name for that and I do believe I should severely reduce my alcohol intake in the mornings!!

When I came home and was perusing the photos I’d taken, I noticed the sun had come out for the first time today. It had been noticeably missing when I was out walking.

Today’s final prompt was Happy. This is me sitting at the table trying to think up something to draw for the final sketch of February 2022. I think that this is fitting. I’m happy that I’ve finished all 28 again. As always, it’s been a struggle some nights, but it was good to get ‘likes’ and even some comments, so thank you for your ‘reactions’ as FB describes it. It does make you want to continue and gives value to the sketches and paintings. Also, a thank you to my wife for being my most honest critic. I don’t think I’ll torture myself with an Every Day in March, but maybe I’ll participate in the May edition, if I’m allowed, DV.

Spoke to Fred tonight and he was asking how Scamp was getting on. Then we discussed the quality of work on Landscape Artist of the Year and what we’d have done to improve it. While Fred and I were talking, Scamp was talking weddings and outfits with Jacqueline (Big Jac). Later Jamie phoned and we discovered that the survey of the roof timbers of the house had found that the woodworm was historical and nothing needed to be done, but as usual, other timbers needed strengthening. Good news and bad news. That’s the way of the world. You just hope that the good outweighs the bad, because there’s usually little you can do about it anyway.

So with that thought, I don’t think we have any plans for tomorrow. It looks like rain.

A beautiful day – 27 February 2022

We got up and went out this morning, pointing the blue car at Auchinstarry.

We were lucky to get one of the last spaces in the car park, then it was off on foot along the canal footpath as far as Twechar. Hardly a breeze to ruffle the surface of the Forth & Clyde canal. The path was busy with walkers taking advantage of the first decent day for at least a week. Lots of cyclist, most of whom were sensible enough to have a bell that worked on their bike. I was thinking I should really get my Dewdrop out and give it a run in the fresh air, but that’s all it was, just a thought!

At Twechar we met up with a wee group of boys, about 12 years old hanging over the barrier trying to get passing motorists to toot their horn at them. This must be ‘entertainment’ in Twechar. No TVs, no computers and no Xbox for them. Just a toot from a car sends them into hoots of laughter. One of the boys who may have been twelve but had the seriousness of a 90 year old great-grandfather agreed with Scamp that it was a lovely morning and told us that it was “good to get out in, er, nature”. I think he thought he was taking the mick! Probably another Twechar pastime.

We crossed the road and the sound of the toots and the laughter followed us for a while until we reached to path to take us back to the car. I’d brought the Sony A7 today and I found a great subject for it in the bank of snowdrops just beside the path. So good to see so many of them all flowering at the same time. We walked on, but apart from some shots of the Campsie Fells, there wasn’t much to entice me. Scamp just enjoys the walk and I sometimes feel I hold her back with my constant stops for photos.

Back home and after lunch I wrote to Alex to see if he was up for a photo walk this week. At present, Friday looks the best day. Then I grabbed the A7 with the posh macro lens and went hunting for the mysterious Female Larch Flowers. The female flowers are big and showy in pinks and yellows. They sit upright, usually at the end of a branch, looking like miniature pineapples. The male flowers are fairly insignificant little things that hang down from the branches in groups and are limited to yellow. There were a lot of the female flowers today. I got quite a few shots of them. Last year there were hardly any.

Today’s prompt was True Colours. I listened to the song until about halfway through and switched it off. I decided there was nothing inspirational in there.
No, I had to change my thinking on this one. There is no such thing as a true colour. There is no true blue or red or yellow. Ultramarine blue tend to purple, as does Alizarin Crimson. Lemon Yellow tends towards green, and that’s just the primaries. Once you get into secondary and tertiary colours it’s just a big mess. So that was my starting point for today’s sketch: My watercolour palette. Not one true colour in the box and as you will notice I ignore the teachers’ warnings not to start mixing colours in the pots. I just go for it. All the colours in the box started out as tube colours, squeezed out into pots and they looked pretty for about a day, then as they dried, they darkened and that gets us to a whole new argument about True Colours. Here endeth the lesson on colour theory. Maybe I’ll be a bit “Happier” tomorrow!

Booked for coffee with Isobel tomorrow.

Woke at 7am – 25 February 2022

I hadn’t intended waking at 7am.

I was just so tired last night I forgot to cancel the alarm on my watch. It’s cancelled now. Oh yes it’s been warned that if it does that again it’s going out the window. If I’m feeling generous I might even open the window first.

I got a message from Jamie asking how the patient was and telling me that there was a parcel arriving here between 11am and 2.30pm. I reckoned I could keep a secret for a few hours. It was a lovely bright morning. Cold but the sun was shining. We watched one of our neighbours nearly take a tumble on the ice sheet that had appeared overnight on the path outside. That meant we weren’t going anywhere soon, which meant I didn’t have to tell too many lied keep Scamp at home until the parcel arrived. We did go out to have a look round the front garden and that was where I found today’s PoD. One little yellow crocus flower poking its head out above the grass. I’d initially taken it just because it looked good, shining in the morning sun. It turned out to be almost the one picture I took today.

It was after lunch before the parcel arrived. Scamp answered the door and carried in a big blue box with ‘Moonpig’ written in pink. No guesses who had sent this one. Inside was a big bottle of sparkling rosé wine and a box of posh chocolates. They have now been sampled and found to be just as good as you’d expect. Scamp very kindly allowed me to help her test them! Nice card. We both laughed.  We both appreciated these gifts.  You are all lovely people.

After an exchange of messages we went for a walk round St Mo’s and then on to the shops to get a Friday Pizza. It’s going back to the old Friday tradition, I think! We also got a box of ice cream, just in case the pizza, wine and chocolates didn’t fill us up entirely and we were peckish later.

After dinner which was pizza, of course, we watched another uninspired episode of Death In Paradise. As Scamp says, we only watch it for the music and the scenery which is lucky, because the acting is stilted and the plots are terrible.

Yesterday’s prompt was Black & White. I chose a piano keyboard as the typical case of black and white. I know I should have looked more deeply at this subject and researched the hidden meanings in the Michael Jackson song, but sometimes the literal answer is the best one. This is version 3 of the drawing. The first one is generally the best with me, but it was just too rough and version 2 which drawn using a ruler and a 0.7 pencil was too neat and tidy, although the perspective was much more accurate. The ‘Goldilocks Version’ you see here was just right to my eyes and was drawn today, because yesterday had been a long day that started about 6am and finished after midnight. Something had to give and, unfortunately, it was the sketch.

Today’s prompt was The Love Cats.
I don’t really love cats and I’m not a great fan of The Cure either. Having said that, I’d much rather have a cat in the house than a dog, just not this particular cat. This is not a ‘puddy tat’. This is a true Scottish Wildcat and it would do you up a treat, mate, given half a chance. There’s not much love in those eyes. Getting rare now in Scotland and reduced to a few mating pairs in the highlands. Still a fearsome creature to meet on a dark night. This was drawn from a photograph I took in 2005 and I still love that look. So, I suppose, in a way it IS a Love Cat!

Tomorrow we’re hoping to get out for a longer walk.

Wild Swimming – 21 February 2022

Not us! Oh no, not us!

I filled the flask while Scamp sorted the tea and coffee things and grabbed a couple of biscuits and some crisps, then with a quick stop for petrol we were off to the highlands.

Yesterday Scamp had suggested that if today was as good as the weather fairies said it would be, we could maybe drive to Loch Lubnaig in the Trossachs for cup of coffee by the lochside. I thought it was a grand idea and as the day looked as promising as predicted we drove out past Stirling and through Callander then out to Kilmahog and that’s where it got a bit worrying. The water coming down the River Leny was very high, almost bursting its banks in places. The Falls of Leny which are usually a picturesque series of rapids were a roaring torrent that took up the entire width of the river. As the Leny flows out of Loch Lubnaig, I was beginning to wonder if the car park would be flooded.

When we got there the water was indeed high, but not as high as it might have been, There is usually a beach a about three metres wide before you reach the water, but not today. The water was coursing around the trees that grow two metres from the beach. Yes, the water was high. However, the wee coffee stall was open and the smell of frying bacon was enticing. We had a roll each, Scamp’s was egg, mine was bacon, with a cup of drinkable coffee. I’m not sure if it was instant or filter, but it was strong enough for me and tasted like coffee should.

I did manage to get a few photos, but I think I’ve been to Lubnaig so often that I think I’ve seen it all, however the high water gave a few more opportunities and the one I liked the best was the almost submerged picnic tables. I think diners would be advised to bring waders! That became PoD.

Another sight we saw was a couple, the man with a full wet suit and the woman with wet suit leggings and what looked like a neoprene bra, walking gingerly into the loch. I’d been wearing a pair of jeans, teeshirt, warm shirt, jersey and a lined Bergy jacket when I was taking photos and when I was standing around for about a minute, waiting for a time exposure to complete, I was beginning to feel the cold. I dread to think how that woman felt.

They eventually had had enough of the wild swimming. Yes they did some swimming, but going too far would have been dangerous today with a fair swell in the loch and a fast current too. I think we both relaxed a bit when they got out and wrapped themselves in heavy towel. I’m told that wild swimming in winter is good for you, but I’ll take their word for it, rather than try it myself.

We came back via the Duke’s Pass over the hills to Aberfoyle and from there to Doune and up to get some more shots from the David Stirling memorial. The view from there is quite phenomenal on a good day and it was a good day today. Photo also on Flickr. From there it was just the motorway home.

Today’s prompt was Edelweiss. I do believe I saw one once. Many more moons ago than I’d care to put a number on, when I was in primary school, in fact, the teacher brought one in for us to see. I don’t know where she got it from, because I don’t remember any growing wild in the central belt of Scotland. Dandelions and Daisies, yes, but not Edelweiss. I remember thinking it wasn’t the prettiest flower I’d ever seen. That being the case, I found this one tough to draw and paint, but that’s what this challenge is all about, isn’t it? It’s being forced to work outside your comfort zone. With that in mind, this one’s now complete and we move on to the next challenge, the next prompt!

Scamp has a telephone consultation booked with one of the docs from the Cumbernauld practice in the morning tomorrow to review her meds. The rest of the day is our own and the weather looks reasonable at present.

We had snow – 18 February 2022

We had snow for a while in the morning, but it quickly turned to slush.  Yuk.

We shouldn’t complain.  We had some wind in the morning too, but not nearly as bad as the folks down south had. 100mph gusts are no fun, I’m sure.  We just had snow, not heavy and not the nice fluffy snow that you see on Christmas cards, just wet sleety snow that turned to slush as it hit the ground.  It didn’t last.  Scamp, however, was amazed to see snow from her bed before breakfast.  She kept telling anyone who would listen (me) that she could see the flakes of snow.  She had taken the eye patch off while I was making breakfast.  I remember just how amazed I was to see things so clearly after my first cataract op.  The colours were brilliant.  Much brighter than I’d ever seen before and I was telling everyone (Scamp) so I guess it was my turn to listen to her. I put in her drops for her, I remember that too.  The drops that nipped and the ones that were just cold.  Two different bottles, four drops per day spaced evenly throughout the day.

After breakfast and as the snow flurries were fading away, Scamp got her check-up phone call and got to ask all the questions she’d built up since yesterday.  I think that helped her settle down.  After that, a knock at the door and there stood a man with a long cardboard box I thanked him as he photographed me holding it to prove that he’d delivered it, I guess.  Scamp opened it and inside was a beautiful bouquet of mixed flowers.  Scamp was speechless (for once).  She just stood staring at these bright flowers she was seeing without contact lenses!  I can’t imagine how that must feel.  To see without glasses or contacts for the first time since she was about 5.

With the flowers arranged in a vase it was lunch time.  After lunch I walked down to the shops to get a pizza for dinner and also various things Scamp asked me to get, boring things like potatoes and cream.  I also got interesting things like two fruit and custard Danish pastries!  They were delicious, but we really must make the effort now to stop eating all the time.  On the way back I got today’s PoD which is a wee bunch of weeds on a barbed wire fence. There was little else of interest.

Today’s prompt was Rocket Man. Just to be different and because I’ve always loved the shape of Tintin’s rocket with its bright red chequer board pattern, I chose him as my Rocket Man rather than Elton John.  Tintin probably predates him anyway.

Tomorrow if the weather is kind we may go for a gentle walk.