I think it’s raining – 27 September 2021

Every time we looked out the window we said that.

I’d kind of thought of stripping out the old sealant from the shower cabinet and redoing it, but it might take a few days to get that done, so maybe next week.

Instead we say and watched the showers blowing in from the west, then the sun would come out for a short spell before the next wave descended. It seemed to go on like that all morning and into the afternoon. We needed milk, so necessity meant we needed to face the elements and walk down to the shops. That’s what we did and on the way back I took the diversion through St Mo’s while Scamp continued on to the house.

There wasn’t much going on in the park. Two folk were spinning for pike in the pond and catching nothing by the looks of things. I was taking some moody shots of cow parsley and tangles of weeds when the sun shone enough to illuminate them. I eventually settled on a plant of the pea family with one of its tendrils firmly attached to an old russet colour dried up weed. It was fascinating the complicated knot it had made to grip the weed. That became PoD. Actually it’s two shots blended in Photoshop to get sharp seed pods on the right and keep the weed on the left in focus. You don’t shot photos, you make them.

I’d been out for about an hour all in, Scamp a little bit less and it hadn’t rained in all that time. However I’d hardly sat down with a cup of coffee when the raindrops were hitting the window. Maybe we were just lucky today

I bought myself a new, well second hand, short macro lens. It won’t be the same quality as the big heavy Sigma lens, but it will be so much lighter that it will entice me to carry it about with me. It should work well with the light little Sony A6000.

Scamp’s hoping to go out for coffee (if there is any) tomorrow with Annette. I may stay in and watch the rain.

Recharging – 25 September 2021

Getting the wee red car back on the road.

Up with the bonnet and then … I found my socket set was all imperial sizes and the bolts holding the terminals to the battery were metric. My 7/16” socket was too tight and the 1/2” socket was too slack. I needed something like a 15/32” socket, or more realistically, an 11mm one. I did have a set of cheap metric sockets at one time, about a year ago, I think, but I reckon I must have thrown them out in a clear out last year. Oh well, I was going to Halfords anyway to get a battery charger. I’d add a socket set to the list.

Drove up to the retail park in my car, in heavy traffic all heading north or east. This was September weekend in Scotland a school holiday and what used to be a bank holiday too, so maybe that explained the rush into the wilds of the countryside. I wouldn’t have rushed, because it was another of those drizzly Scottish days. I got the battery charger and the cheap socket set that I won’t throw out this time and returned to remove a battery that’s only about a year old. Tried to remember which terminal you remove first and found that Mr Google had the answer. Dragged the battery up to the back bedroom and meanwhile Scamp had unboxed the charger which we plugged in and set it to work for a couple of hours, after which it merrily told us the battery was charged and being ‘maintained’ whatever that means. The instructions weren’t that explicit about that part of the charging procedure. Two hours seemed a very short time to charge a totally flat battery, but I took it out and after checking with Mr Google again connected the positive, then the negative terminal. Immediately the warning lights came on in the car which I remembered from last year when I replaced a totally dead battery. Locked the battery in place and tentatively locked the car with the fob then unlocked it again. Key in the socket turned and so did the starter motor and the engine burst into life again! Hooray! The Wee Red Car will live to fight another day. I left it to rest after the open heart surgery, but we’ll go for a run tomorrow just to give it a bit more energy.

A Piece ’n’ Egg, actually two eggs was a late lunch and then, while Scamp did a bit of baking, I took the Big Dog and the macro lens out for a walk in St Mo’s. Found a Black Darter dragonfly on the boardwalk which was very skittish to start with, but after a bit of patient crawling around the boardwalk, I managed to get a couple of shots of it. I saw one last year and was reading about it in last year’s blog post. It would have made PoD, but it was pipped to the post by a couple of mating Shield Bugs. The larger of the two (the female) was calling the shots and decided it wanted to head off while the poor male was dragged along behind. It’s a tough life and probably quite painful being a male shield bug!

Scamp had cabbage and potatoes for dinner while I had mince ’n’ tatties with some of the cabbage. Not beetroot, Jamie! We had a baked corn on the cob each from the Campbell Garden down south. Both were still perfectly fresh. Scamp’s baking had included a rhubarb and apple tart from the Campbell Garden in Scotland. Beautifully crisp pastry. One of the best she’s made.

We struggled through the first Strictly of the year, but I’ll admit I wasn’t all that interested in most of it. Did enjoy the gay couple’s tango. Brilliantly done. We used to do a routine with Jamie Gal’ where the leader became the follower and vice versa. It’s very, very confusing for both parties, but the two men were faultless tonight.

Maybe we’ll take the Wee Red Car out for a run tomorrow to give its battery another charge.

Dancing first, then IKEA – 4 September 2021

Saturday is dancing day and as we almost pass IKEA on the way home it made sense to visit the yellow and blue store.

Dancing started with the Bellissima Cha Cha which we know fairly well and can dance with a fair degree of confidence. That’s what we did. It wasn’t perfect, but it was done with confidence which is sometimes the same thing. Next was the Foxtrot which we agreed was becoming a lot smoother. I’m not sure the teachers would entirely agree with that, but it felt that way to us. For the break in the middle it was the Rumba One which is a gentle bit of fluff danced as a sequence and apparently everyone was on the same beat for once. Next was waltz and we were told we were making things too difficult for ourselves, but we were trying to emulate the teachers in the video they sent us. We both agreed today wasn’t the time to say that, so we just kept quiet. Finally it was a Cha Cha line dance. Something I’d have baulked at before, but now I find I can do quite happily … as long as I’m not at the front! Good class, lots of stuff learned. No class next week as the teachers are off to Tenerife for a week in the sun, lucky people.

IKEA is on the way home so we stopped off there for re-sealable poly bags, a photo frame or two and some cheap serviettes that I use when painting watercolour as blotting paper if I overload my brush. Just useable stuff today and we whizzed through the checkout without a problem. We even managed to use a couple of shortcuts to save the “Yellow Brick Road” that we used to have to follow. Back to home.

After lunch I went for a walk in St Mo’s, but I’m beginning to get jaded with it. I’m looking for some open spaces to photograph. Some interesting landscapes with dappled sunlight. That’s not too much to ask for is it? Perhaps it is with rain forecast for tomorrow. We did have some drizzle today, but it was really just the edge of a cloud and didn’t come too much. PoD was a little Garden Cross spider on a web that looked like the high wire at the circus. The strange thing was it looked as if it had a larva of some kind on its abdomen. I’ve asked for help identifying it on Flickr.

That was about it for the first Saturday in September. We’ve both downloaded our QR codes to our phones to prove our vaccination status, although I read this morning that already it’s been shown that it can be hacked and the details changed. After the Scottish Government paying a reputed £600,000 for a Dutch company to create the code. I did think that was a fairly cheap price for the work that would be involved. It’s a true saying “if you pay peanuts you must expect monkeys.”

Holding our hands out tomorrow, expecting rain. Not sure if it will reach down as far south as us, but the highlands need the rain too.

Dancing and a walk in the rain – 21 August 2021

Off on our usual Saturday run to Johnstone. Then a walk in the rain at home.

The drive to Johnstone, or to be more exact, Bridge of Weir was fairly uneventful. Just a steady stream of west bound traffic and a steady drizzle of rain that occasionally got heavier and then threatened to dry up before changing its mind again and getting heavier. It was just constant and after a while I got so I didn’t really notice it.

Today’s class started with the Tina Tango which I’m rapidly coming to grips with. Not so, the Foxtrot which was next. It sort of reminded me of the Hedgehog’s song by Incredible String Band “You know all the words and you’ve sung all the notes, but you’ve never quite learned the song”. We knew all the figures and the steps, but we never quite fitted them together to flow as they should. Jane helped a lot smoothing the transitions between figures, but it still wasn’t right. Part of the problem is learning all the figures for the dance and practising it in the living room. The room is really too small to dance the whole piece in a straight line. We have to dance three or four figures, then turn round and dance the next three or four on the way back.
After the Foxtrot we danced the Sweetheart Cha Cha which is my nemesis. I’m going to get a tee shirt with “I HATE CHA CHA” printed on it. I just don’t seem to be able to understand the reason why you MUST start on beat 2. It makes no sense. The less said about the Sweetheart, the better.
Next was what they called The Zoom Waltz, ie the waltz we learned in the zoom class. It took me a while to work out what it was, but after that light bulb moment, it started to become clear again and we managed a couple of circuits of the floor with the minimal amount of fuss and stopping.
We finished with the Mayfair Quickstep which is a fairly easy dance that reminds me of the Military Two Step we learned at school.
After all that, our brains were full and we needed to lie down in a darkened room. Unfortunately we had to drive home first. The road was even busier than last week and the drive home took over an hour.

After lunch Scamp suggested we go for a walk … in the rain, because the rain hadn’t really gone off since we left the house in the morning and showed no signs of going off now. We dressed for the weather and walked down to Broadwood Loch, round the loch and then round past the exercise machines. I took the Sony 6000 and one lens in my pocket and got a few photos as we walked round. Three photos made the cut for PoD and the final decision was in favour of the dandelion in the rain, although I liked a mono shot of some grass stems and an old fence we passed. You can view it better on Flickr.

Tonight we discussed today’s progress at ballroom class and finally settled on Vegetable Lasagne by Charlie Bingham followed by a cheapo Sticky Toffee Pudding from Aldi. The lasagne was excellent. The pudding was too, but it’s making its presence felt now and doesn’t seem so good second time around if you get my meaning.

Tomorrow we have no real plans, although the weather fairies say the weather is to be better, or at least less rain. We may go out somewhere.

Out early again – 11 August 2021

Another fairly early rise, but not for photography this time.

Scamp had had an uncomfortable night with what seemed like the beginnings of a urine infection. She phoned the surgery just after 8am and they referred her to the pharmacist. We drove up there after it opened and when she had discussed things with the pharmacist, they recommended a course of antibiotics. I’m sure the ten minute wait for them must have felt like ten hours. Back home she was feeling better by lunchtime and I made some soup for lunch, well, I opened the tin and heated the soup. That’s the same thing as making some soup! It must have been good soup because she looked and sounded better after that.

I had intended going out this morning to test run the new camera, but the foregoing put paid to that and now that the patient was on the mend, the rain started. The weather fairies suggested that it might go off around 4pm. It was fairly thumping down. Not quite a thunderstorm, but not just light rain. I had found some repair patches that would fix the tear in my raincoat, so I spent an hour or so cutting them to the right shape and ironing them on. Since I had the iron on anyway, I ironed the elbow patches on to my old ‘Dennis’ rugby shirt. I’ve been meaning to do it for ages and now it’s half done. I’ve just to stitch them on and I’ll be happy with the repair.

About 5pm the rain did turn off and after checking that the patient had everything she needed I went for that walk in St Mo’s. I think I must have been the only person to risk a walk today. There was very little activity out in the park, but I did see a little snail hanging upside down from some wild flowers, choosing the best ones to eat. That was done with the Big Dog and got PoD, but the Little Dog got a quite good shot of fallen leaves. That was a strong contender. Both are on Flickr.

Scamp seems a lot better tonight and she’s already gone to bed to catch up on the sleep she missed last night.

Tomorrow we will see how the land lies before deciding what we’re doing. It looks like another wet day.

Well, we asked for rain – 8 August 2021

Never happy. We needed rain for the garden, but now we’ve got it we want it to stop.

This wasn’t a day for going out. Scamp wasn’t feeling too good anyway and the poor weather put the tin lid on it. What I did do was pack up the Panasonic GX80 that I’m selling to MPB. All the bits are there and even the users manual is still in the box. Well, who reads users manuals anyway. Users only read them if they get stuck and there’s never an answer to your problem in there.

After lunch I was getting fractious, so despite the fact that it was still raining I put on my raincoat and shorts (Raincoat to keep most of me dry. Shorts because there’s less to get wet!) and went for a walk in the woods. Managed to get some photos of hoverflies on the wing using the Sony with manual focus. Quite impressed with the results. While I was out I found a wasp’s nest (called a ‘byke’ in Scotland). It was in a hole between two tree roots and looked as if it had been dug up, probably by a badger. Loads of wasps working hard to move the grubs and close up the torn walls of the nest. I got a few photos, but then the wasps were taking an interest in me taking an interest on them, so I left them too it. It’s the first time I’ve seen a wasp’s nest under the ground.

Dinner for me was two lamb chops cooked under supervision from Scamp who was feeling a bit better by then. I was also cooking her trout fillet and we shared some cabbage and the last of our first lot of potatoes.

Thankfully today was the closing ceremony of the Olympics so now the TV schedules might get back to normal again. We haven’t watched much of it. There’s so little that interests us.

I’ve signed up for a five day course on portrait painting using pastels. It’s free on a private Facebook page, but the pastels they are recommending amount to around £100 plus a further £30 for paper. I might watch the videos, but I’ll be using my ten quid pastels and my five quid paper!

PoD was a pretty wee hoverfly, but the wasps are on Flickr too.

Tomorrow looks slightly better than today, but I don’t think we’ll be going far.

Only available in silver – 6 August 2021

Not only that. Silver was twenty quid more than black.

We had a rather lazy morning with me reading Merlin Sheldrake’s book on fungi. I never knew they were so devious and also interesting. The section I was reading today was about lichen. Amazing things. I already knew about they really were a symbiotic relationship between fungi and algae, but I didn’t really understand what that meant. Now I do. I also found the word “mitochondria” and I wanted to shout out “Hey! My son knows about them!” This Merlin bloke treats this whole book like a thesis with all the references that entails. Heavy science for me, but absolutely absorbing in a literal sense. Who knew that lichen can absorb rocks!

Finally I had to leave the world of lichen, fungi and other things of that ilk and get up and face the day. We’d said we’d go in to Glasgow today and that’s what we did. As we were driving along the M80 in the general direction of Glasgow, we saw the CITRAC signs warning about surf water. Now the CITRAC is notorious for getting things wrong, so we ignored the warnings. Hmm, then we saw the spray on both carriageways ahead. A few seconds later the rain hit us, literally hit us. I did consider turning off and going back home, because the wipers weren’t really clearing the screen and cars on the outside lane were leaving wakes from the wheels. Then as quickly as it had come, it stopped.

Parked no problem in Buchanan Galleries and I walked into JL while Scamp went off to Boots. I was looking for a camera, but they only had it in silver. I wanted it in black, and I was going to take the black one when the bloke said that the silver one was twenty quid more expensive. Twenty quid just for a silver camera and lens? I think not. I ordered it and paid for it. It will be available for collection on Tuesday.

Met Scamp and we walked down to Paesano for a pizza lunch. She had Tomato sugo No garlic, oregano, Evoo (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) plus Spinach and Mushroom. I had a basic number 5 which is Prosciutto with mushrooms, tomato sugo, mozzarella and Evoo. Both were delivered double quick and mine had that lovely, slightly burnt crust. Delicious! The next time you are in Glasgow, you but go!

I walked round to Cass Art for a browse. Scamp found a dress shop to investigate. When I came out of the art shop it was bucketing down, absolutely hammering it. Scamp had texted me to say she was trying on a dress or two and I agreed to meet her there. That meant I’d to try to get into some shelter first before I got soaked. I found a lot of folk sheltering under an extended roof of an office building that gave me a good view of others sheltering under the portico of the GOMA. Instant photo that became PoD.

Found Scamp and we agreed the first dress was a possible but the second was a definite no-no. She wanted to leave it for a day or two to think about the ‘possible’ and I suggested she join me when I go to collect the camera on Tuesday, all being well. After that we found the quickest and shortest way from Queen Street to the Buchanan Galleries, but we were both still soaked by the time we got there.

By the time we were leaving the car park the rain was almost off, but traffic was jammed up everywhere. That’s when Scamp’s knowledge of Glasgow came to the rescue as she directed me back on to the motorway. I didn’t think we’d missed the rain. I was almost certain we were going to drive right into it again and I was right. A few miles out of Glasgow City we drove through it again, and again, by the time we arrived home it was almost dry. The rain did catch up with us again once we were in the house and we had some thunder too, but no lightning yet.

In what was left of the afternoon I found all the bits and pieces of the camera kit I’m going to sell to help pay for the new camera. We’d always agree that this was a ‘One in, One out’ deal and I’m happy to stick to that.

A short practise tonight, then a study of the video before another shorter but more useful practise almost prepared us for tomorrow. Hopefully we won’t look as if we’re totally lost this time.

Tomorrow’s weather looks much like today’s, so it will need to be another early rise to be there for 11am.



The singer and the song – 5 August 2021

The singer listened to the backing track and was sold on it immediately.

Veronica listened to the backing track Scamp and I had made and sang along to it. It fitted her vocal range perfectly as Scamp knew it would. The deal was signed and the disks will be in good record shops any time soon, now that I’ve found my CD writer hiding in the bottom drawer of my cupboard. I swear it wasn’t there yesterday.

Next up was to sell one of my rarely used cameras. The GX 80 was a neat little thing, but didn’t quite cut it for me. WEX offered £156 for it, MPB offered £211. That’s quite a markdown from WEX. I might remove them from my Christmas Card list now! Cheek! I’ll sign the deal with MPB tomorrow.

Drove to Tesco later to celebrate by buying myself a bar of Cadbury’s Fruit and Nut and a bunch of flowers for Scamp. When we got back, we found that Stewart had been as good as his word and sent a copy of the video for Sweetheart Cha Cha. It needed a bit of slowing down to appreciate the footwork in this dance. Luckily iMovie was up to the job and we’ve now almost got the first half of the routine. I find it so difficult to work out which foot I’m moving on with these fast latin dances. You don’t have to worry about footwork in Salsa, it’s the arms and the hands that do all the work. After a bit of swearing tonight, I think I’ve worked out where which foot should go, but I have to remember that at present we’re dancing it at half speed. It may take some practise to get us up to full steam ahead!

I went out on a dull afternoon with just the occasional sprinkling of rain. No insect activity apart from busy little bees of various types and colour combinations. PoD went to my favourite seeds, the Cow Parsley seed heads. Second place went to a delicate frilly seed head on a plant in the marshy edge of St Mo’s pond.

Torrential rain promised for tomorrow and the threat of thunderstorms too. We may go out early and hope to miss most of them.

Just an ordinary Friday – 2 July 2021

We went for the messages, Scamp did some housework, I went for a walk. That’s about it really!

While I’ll admit that Scamp did some housework, I had hoovered the kitchen before I’d even had my breakfast this morning. Granted, when I’d been making the breakfast I’d accidentally spilled half a box of bran flakes on the kitchen floor, but that’s a mere detail. I hoovered the kitchen.

We went for the messages. Scamp drove to Tesco and we collected the usual essentials but also bought some milk to put in between the wine bottles to stop them clinking.

I went for a walk in St Mo’s later in the afternoon and PoD was a Red Admiral butterfly, although a Lacewing was a close competitor, as was a little Ringlet butterfly. These words, Red Admiral, Lacewing, Ringlet and even Butterfly are ones we only use for three or four months a year in Scotland. After that the most common word is rain. Which neatly brings me to the next topic.

All the way through my walk I’d been watching the black clouds that were looming from the south. Just as I was getting to the house, I felt the first drops of rain. Scamp was just hanging out the clothes, fresh from the washing machine and was loathe to bring them in again, but resistance was futile. The rain just got heavier. She brought them in. Strangely, about a couple of hours later the rain stopped, the sun shone and it was a beautiful evening, but it was too late to risk putting the washing out again.

I used the new toy on my wrist to log my walk today and was surprised at just how accurate it was. Not only that, the amount of data it collected and sent to its masters in China will all be analysed by their top scientists to try to steal even more of my identity. I now know how many minutes and seconds it takes for me to walk a mile and how many Kcal I burn in the process (not enough says Scamp). Still it’s an amazing piece of tech. It even has a torch built in. That’s a godsend if you want to raid the drinks cupboard while Scamp is in her bed and I’m supposed to be writing the blog!

We watched poor Bandy Andy doing his best to play against his younger, fitter, but less bionic opponent.  However, it was all in vain.  Proving that old age and treachery won’t always beat youth and exuberance.

Tomorrow we have rain, hail, thunder and lightning forecast for our entertainment. I think the shorts and the tee shirts will be in the washing machine and I’ll be looking out my jeans and my rainy coat. No real plans.

It was a lovely morning … 24 June 2021

… but then it all got kind of wet!

Indeed the morning was lovely. Not too bright, but warm and there was always the hope that it would stay that way at least until the evening, then we’d be thankful for overnight rain. However just after lunch, when we’d decided to drive in to Glasgow, the rain started. It’s now just after 10pm and I don’t think it’s stopped yet. Now don’t get me wrong, this is exactly the kind of rain we and the plants were looking for. Nice light, soaking rain. Not a heavy cloudburst then it all dries up. No, this was what the garden needed a good continuous rain that would wet the ground through. I should have expected it to happen. The schools in Scotland broke up today for the summer holidays and it always rains on that afternoon … every year!

We did drive in to Glasgow, well actually we drove in to the Buchanan Galleries because all the shops we wanted were there. Scamp was looking for a Swiss Roll Tin and possibly a new vacuum flask to replace our two ageing ones. One of which keeps the water hot, but leaks. One which keeps the water warm but doesn’t leak. We found a flask in JL and the tin in Lakeland. I’d thought about going for a browse in Cass Art, but when it came to it, I couldn’t be bothered with a walk in the rain, so I went back to JL to look at ‘The Toys’. What I did get was a pair of suede elbow patches to repair one of my favourite rugby shirts. Even better, the patches are iron-on with holes already pierced in them for stitching on, if I decide they need the extra security. I may try them tomorrow. Once we were sure we had everything, we drove home through the rain. One stop at The Shops to get butter for the Swiss Roll and a bar of chocolate each for Scamp and me.

Grabbed a few shots in the garden, mainly of flowers and a quarter of a Calendula got PoD. Watched a second episode of Rankin Pontificates, some sort of photography challenge, but really a vehicle for that man. Not impressed. That may be the last one I watch. Sorry Hazy. It looked good, but so far it isn’t for me.

Feeling like I’ve a cold coming on which is a shame because Scamp has booked us in at Mango, a new(ish) Italian/Indian restaurant near the mighty Cotton House. I’m sure I’ll be feeling a bit better by then. A small glass of Dark Matter spiced rum with a splash of water in it is helping. A couple of paracetamol tablets will also aid recovery and guarantee a good night’s sleep – That sounds a bit like an advert, doesn’t it? Maybe that’s where I got it from.

Ok, off to bed early tonight and we’ll see if the morning brings a visit to Mango!