The day after – 22 May 2022

… the night before.

This was going to be a day of recovery. Recovery from too much to drink, from too much food and from too much dancing in new shoes.

We didn’t break surface until after 9am. Tea in bed with a good book. Then after that and after showering away yesterday’s excesses, breakfast proper. A look out the window confirmed our suspicions that there wouldn’t be much sunshine today. There would, however be a lot of rain.

Scamp went next door to speak to her sister and to see how she and Ian were getting on. She had walked much further than I had. I didn’t even pass the threshold. I took today’s PoD from the open kitchen window.

I did, however, have to go to the door in the afternoon when an american lady decided she’d just drop in to see us. I don’t know who she was or what she thought she was doing, but she soon got as far as the front hall before she got the “bum’s rush”. She allegedly thought this was a B&B and her husband wanted to use our ‘rest room’. I told her very little, and directed her to the house at the end of the drive. I know there is a sort of open door policy in the Highlands and Islands, but it’s strictly for locals, not for americans wanting to use our facilities. Anyway, we don’t have a room to rest in.

The rest of the day was without incident, but with a lot more rain. It was fish and chips for dinner. Both of which were cooked in the oven. Not an exceptional meal, but after yesterday’s excesses, something more grounded was required today.

Watched the Spanish GP, a boring race with little to recommend it.

Tomorrow we’re invited to dinner at Columba. A family dinner.

Wedding – 21 May 2022

The wedding wasn’t until 3pm, so we had a whole morning to fill.

We drove up to the tiny little parking place above what I heard a guide describe as “the healing spring”. We’d walked this path a few years ago, but it obviously didn’t make a great impression on me, because I couldn’t remember anything about it. It was a pleasant wee walk down around some hawthorn bushes and we did take a short detour that led us into a whole host of wild orchids. One of them made PoD. We thought the path would take us down to the shore, but it ended quite abruptly at a strange wee lochan of perfectly clear water. It was almost turquoise in colour. On reading about it later, it turned out that was the ‘healing waters’ and people would travel from far and wide to bathe in it and drink the waters, although there was no record of it having any medicinal properties. We chose not to bathe in or drink the waters and anyway we’d forgot our swimming costumes. There didn’t seem to be any way down from the lochan to the shore, so we walked back up the path we’d just come down, almost just in time to get back to the car before the rain started. Yes, we did get soaked.

We’d a couple of hours to have a quick lunch before we needed to get dressed for the wedding. The car was to pick us up at 2pm to be at the site for the wedding. June and Ian were to go first and then the driver would come back for us. That rain that started when we were waking back to the car had continued and got heavier when we were back at he house. Scamp and I were dressed when the car arrived to for J&I and Scamp went out in the rain to help June into the car. After that we had a while to wait before it was our turn. Eventually the driver arrived for us and just as we were setting off, I realised I didn’t know where I’d put the house key. Not having pockets in my kilt, and all the pockets in my dress jacket being sewn up still, I couldn’t think where the key would be. Eventually I found it had dropped in between my jacket and my waistcoat. It must have landed there when I was putting on my seatbelt.

So, we got to the wedding which was indeed in a barn, but what a barn. Carpets on the floor and seats arranged in rows. Family members at the front and also-rans at the back. Decorated with tassels, hundreds of them, hanging from strings on the rafters. A humanist ceremony with a Celebrant rather than a minister or an official at a registry office. This was much more relaxed and personal. I liked it.

From the barn we walked down a path lit with fairy lights to the marquee, in the sunshine. There we met with the new Mr & Mrs Macdonald who had gone on ahead. We were also able to have a glass of Prosecco and Canapés before being seated in the marquee. I had Scotch Broth with Texel lamb, peas and barley while Scamp had Artichoke & Spring vegetable soup, both served with sourdough rolls.
Our main courses were Curried lentil, sweet potato and spinach pie for Scamp and Moroccan spiced mutton & apricot pie for me with various sided dishes Boston style baked beans, Rosemary and sea salt potato wedges and Sautéed spring veg. Dessert, if you had room for it, was Four different types of donuts. I made room! Food fit for a special wedding.

After a decent time, the four piece band of fiddle, accordion, keyboard and drums got us all on the dance floor. Scamp and I did a few of the country dances, but as the night got older, the length and speed of the dances seemed to increase and we saw watching rather than taking part. June and Ian left around 10.30pm, but we stayed and even managed a very badly danced salsa when the band were on their break. After their break, the band continued, but the pace was now frantic. Soon, too soon, we were at the last dance which was an Orcadian Strip the Willow which must have been the longest, fastest and most out of control of the night. We had no wish to be part of it, but Scamp’s younger sister was keen to join in. Well done to her. A rousing rendition of Loch Lomond signalled the end to the festivities for most of us.

So, it was now time to go. Time to pack up and make our way through the dark (there are no streetlights here ) and in the rain to try to find our taxi which we were assured would be waiting for us. We missed it, but caught it again when it was climbing the hill with the Gillies family in it. We eventually got back to the house about 1am. I took the opportunity to download my photos to the laptop and have a browse through them while having a final G ’n’ T with Scamp. Got to bed just before 2am, so as you will already have gathered, this is a catch up.

Tomorrow (today) we will be recovering.


Washout – 20 May 2022

We’d gone out with the intention of driving down to Elgol. That didn’t happen.

We did drive down to the Co-op in Portree for something for tonight’s dinner for us, a couple of litres of milk and a bottle of gin for June. Then we took the road south although it was raining and kept going south into the teeth of a gale and driving rain until I pulled in at a parking place. The place where we’d stopped to photograph the waterfall on Wednesday. There we turned around and drove back to Jan’s Vans for lunch. It was pointless to drive on to Elgol in such weather. Sure, we might have arrived there to wall to wall sunshine. That’s quite possible on Skye. It’s also possible that there would be nowhere to park and the clouds would still be dumping rain on us. No, this was the sensible solution.

After lunch we drove back up the East road to the house. Shared out the messages with June and Ian and had a coffee in our own half of the house. All the while it was raining. But after an hour or so it began to tail off and I thought I might just get out for some photos. That happened when the sun did shine and the clouds did lift.

I drove down to Staffin shore, the beach with lovely light coloured sand. Unfortunately, today you could hardly see the sand, there were so many folk down there. Walking groups, family groups, people with dugs and just ‘folk’. Of course, they ubiquitous Camper Vans were there in their dozens too. Big bloody white boxes with a wheel at each corner. I gave up and drove down to the Slip where there were only two cars and a Manitou digger, forklift, jack of all trades. It looks brand new, so can’t belong to anyone on Skye. I got a few photos, but nothing spectacular. And, of course then the Camper Vans started arriving, so I left.

I drove up past the house, up to Loch Langaig near Flodigarry. It’s a big loch set among a horseshoe of hills. Lovely wee clean burn runs out of it and that’s what I was intending to photograph. I managed a few shots that I quite liked and decided to change lenses. When you’re in the hills, you should keep and eye on the clouds. The direction they’re coming from and how fast they’re moving. If I’d done that I might have noticed they were breaking over the hill tops and I might have got back to the car without getting soaked. I didn’t notice. I did get soaked.

But, I did get the photo. A low level view of the burn running off the loch and that became PoD. Best photographing day I’ve had since we arrived.

It’s unlikely I’ll have very much time for photography tomorrow. Lots of dressing up to do and lots of running around like a headless chicken. Isn’t that what weddings are all about?

A wild day – 13 May 2022

Feeling a lot better today.

Yesterday’s paracetamol, Vitamin C and, of course, the hot toddy must have done its work because today was a different day. Different day outside too with gale force winds for a while.

We were booked for lunch at The Cotton House and arrived to an almost full car park. Partly caused by a builders lorry taking up about four spaces. I managed to squeeze the wee blue car into a narrow space, and we were good. Starter for Scamp was Spring Rolls. Just for a change, I had Salt and Pepper Spring Rolls. Not something I’ve seen on a menu before, but if you get a chance to try them, move on to the next item. Loads of fried chopped onions and fried chopped chilli with some horrible brown breadcrumbs, also fried, on top. All of this was covering the spring rolls. I ate the spring rolls and gave up on the rest. Main for Scamp was the long time standard in this Cantonese restaurant was Chicken Chow Mein with noodles. I had Cantonese Sweet and Sour Chicken with fried rice. Both were delicious, in fact, Scamp was finished before me for once. I’m usually the glutton, not that I’m saying Scamp is a glutton. Oh no, not me! We didn’t have a dessert or even tea or coffee. We just paid the bill and left, feeling full. I took their little tub of jelly beans. It’s the only restaurant I know of that gives you a tub of jelly beans with the bill.

Back home there was a card waiting for me. A birthday card from my brother. I sent him a message to say thanks, and that because it was a little late, it was a surprise. He wrote back to say that he’d posted it first class on the 6th of April. Five weeks to travel 20 miles. That’s even slower than an X3!

Scamp was singing with Cumbersheugh Choir tonight and was leaving around 5.30pm. I was actually thinking of going to the concert, but Scamp said it wouldn’t be all that interesting. She’s very honest about these things, so I took her at her word and stayed. Didn’t do much with my free time. Browsed the photos in Flickr and posted today’s PoD which was the first of the American cowslips to flower, Shooting Stars is their name and that’s exactly what they look like.  It was taken in a lull between showers and gales when there was relative calm in the garden.  Scamp’s new rhododendron, Nancy Evans came a close second. Both are on Flickr.

Apparently the concert was well attended and it sounded a lot better than Scamp had feared, but she still insisted that I wouldn’t have liked the way that the pieces were sung.

Tomorrow we’re intending to go dancing in the morning, but the rest of the day is ours to do with as we wish.


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.

Meeting Margie – 17 March 2022

Another day entering the wonderful world of Margie

Before we get to that, here’s the weather report for today. It will try to rain for a while, but its heart isn’t really in it, so it will stop and consider its options, then it will rain again, but decide maybe sun would be good. No, that doesn’t work either. Probably give them some more rain, just light rain this time, or maybe heavy rain would be better … Do you get the idea the weather was having one of its indecision days?

We stayed at home in the morning and watched the sun then the rain exchange places until lunch time, then after toast ’n’ beans, we did our Lat Flow tests and set off to Seafar to visit Margie.

She lives alone now since Tarry died. Her son visits her every day and has dinner with her every night. It was bucketing with rain when we arrived, but she brightened our day, as I hope we brightened hers. She had one of her paintings for me to look at and I had my Every Day in February sketches for her to critique. I liked her painting of two sax players. It was painted alla prima (in one session without underpainting) and in acrylic. It felt fresh and you could feel the subjects moving. I was impressed. She seemed to like my sketches too and gave reasons for her likes and dislikes. As always, she had lots of stories to tell mainly about Tarry’s family this time. All about his father’s escapades during WW2, being sent to internment camps in the Isle of Man. It’s easy to forget, in these days of Russia invading Ukraine, that Italians in the UK during the war weren’t trusted and sent to what were almost PoW camps here. After an hour or so we left her to rest a while before her son arrived, vowing to come back soon. She’s a great fan of Alan Cumming, Hazy and was interested to hear that he has a new book out. I think it’s on her shopping list now.

We drove home via Tesco at the town centre, because we were near there. As I was coming out, I saw a face that I recognised, but couldn’t put a name to. It was Brian Gregg, one time student teacher at my school, then a probationer with us too. He recognised me too and we talked in a howling gale for a while in the Tesco car park. Strange to think that seven years later he’s married with two kids. He’s still teaching and obviously enjoying it, also making plans for promotion too. It was really good to speak to him. Cheered me up just as much as Margie did.

Back home the wind was still wild, but the rain had turned itself off again, so I went walking in the woods of St Mo’s and that’s where the Larch flowers came from. It was a close thing between it and another blossom shot.

Dinner was the second half of yesterday’s minestrone. Almost as good as yesterday’s.

Today was the end of another of the drops for Scamp. Only one bottle left. Seven more days and four drops a day, so that’s 28 drops to go until we’re done, all being well.

Tomorrow we might go for lunch. Since we’ve been talking Italian today, we might to an Italian restaurant.

Doing the housework – 14 March 2022

Scamp was off to meet Isobel for coffee and I was staying home to brush the stairs.

I can see why Scamp didn’t want to do the job because all the dust might irritate her recently operated on eyes. There was quite a load of dust, dirt and general detritus lodged in the folds of the stair carpet and she was correct, the best way of tackling it was to get down on my knees and brush it out with a stiff brush. It took a lot longer than I anticipated and eventually I gave up using the shovel to hold all the grit and just brushed it into the middle of each tread, then used the portable Dyson to sook it all up. Then I started on the landing using the same technique, but it was much easier. No need to climb the north face of the Eiger as you scrub. Much easier on the flat. Soon it was all done.  One of the most delightful things today was walking barefoot up the stairs after they had been brushed and Dysoned.  The treads felt so soft and springy, it was worth all that work.

After that, and before Scamp returned, I started collecting the bits and pieces to go in the box with the Sony A7ii camera that was going to MPB. That’s the original Sony I bought in October 2020. It’s going to MPB to help pay for its younger brother who is working very hard for me every day. So many different cables, adapters, chargers and a massive brick of a manual that tells you nothing, but takes a long time to do it. Finally got everything collected and fitted into the box, just as Scamp came home and the rain came on.

After we had lunch and after I’d struggled with today’ Wordle puzzle, I was hoping to go out and find something other than frogs to photograph, but the rain stayed on. All afternoon it stayed on and eventually I put my boots on and went out for a walk. Knowing that I’d find something interesting … and I did. I was walking through a bit of mixed woodland behind St Mo’s park when I found a flower on a tree, then another couple. Not missing an opportunity like that I took a few shots. Then I saw what looked like a whole tree covered in white flowers. I think it’s either apple blossom or wild cherry (Gean) coming out a bit early. After about a dozen different photos I went for a walk down the avenue of trees and found a neat little larch flower with raindrops on it. Took a few photos of that too. That’s when the rain came on. It just got heavier and heavier. By the time I’d reached home I was ‘drookit’.

Scamp suggested Amatriciana which is Tomatoes, Bacon, Pinch of Chilli flakes, Onions and Pecarino cheese. It sounded like a plan and that’s what I made for dinner, served with Spaghetti. Long time since we’ve had that, but I hope it won’t be that long until we have it again.

After dinner while Scamp was reading I finished packing up the camera for the DPD driver to collect tomorrow. Wrote an email to Alex and confirmed Wednesday as a coffee meet-up with some of the Auld Guys.

PoD was a branch of those white Gean flowers that Scamp described as a flight of butterflies. I understand exactly what she means

Tea and coffee incoming tomorrow and cameras outgoing. Other than that, nothing planned, but I’m sure a walk will be squeezed in somewhere, possibly with photos.

Morning came too quickly – 12 March 2022

I didn’t think I’d been to sleep when I woke at 7am.

I don’t know what woke me, but I wish it hadn’t. We didn’t need to go out until about 10:15am and I knew it would be difficult to get back to sleep, but I did.

Up, breakfasted, showered and dressed, we were ready for the drive to Bridge of Weir for the first dance class and a drive in torrential rain. It seemed to come in waves. Probably because we were heading west and that’s the direction the clouds were rolling in from, so it heavy rain then light rain then heavy again. Not the most pleasant drive, but the dance class, while taxing was interesting. Catching up with a waltz that I have no recollection of, but Scamp has. Then a Cha-Cha that was new for everyone and was also quite complicated. A few sequence dances added to the mix and leavened the lesson. There was a lot of surplus food available to be taken away free of charge and we did make good use of it.

More torrential rain on the way home, but the weather seemed to have kept folk from going out, because the roads were much quieter than they have been. That is, until we arrived at the Kingston Bridge where the usual traffic jams started. The secret seems to be to get into the outside lane before you reach the bridge and just keep plodding along. The outside lane almost always runs the quickest, although, perhaps ‘quickest’ is probably not the best description.

Back home and after lunch partly made from the goodies we’d picked up, Scamp went for a walk to the shops to get a chicken for tonight’s dinner. I stayed home and started on yesterday’s blog.

When she came home, not too heavily laden, I walked over to St Mo’s where I did take some frog photos, but where PoD turned out to be a bunch of crocuses growing wild.

A rum ’n’ coke for Scamp and a whisky for me while I finished off yesterday’s blog and started today’s after dinner is leading to an early(ish) night.

Tomorrow, after three busy days on the trot, we have no plans.

Out early – 24 February 2022

The alarm rang at 7am and we had to be out before 8am.

A phone call yesterday asking if we could make it in to Braehead to the eye clinic for, say, 8.50am instead of 10am? We said yes, having already planned our leaving time after considering the traffic on the route. Today we were allowing an extra fifteen minutes or so for rush hour traffic. Then there was the threat of snow and high winds, leading to blizzard conditions. Let’s aim for an hour and ten minutes for a trip that would normally take about twenty minutes. The threat of snow had materialised into real snow this morning. We left at about 7.45am and Google Maps though that should be enough.

Snow wasn’t too bad to start with and on the motorway at that time of a morning you’re riding in someone else’s tyre tracks anyway. Just stay in line and keep the pace. Actually we arrived with a few minutes to spare. I walked Scamp to the clinic door, from the snow covered car park and told her I’d see her in about two and a bit hours. Drove home by the alternative route on the M74/M73. Same tyre tracks maybe even the same car, who knows. Took about the same time too. Had a coffee and solved today’s Sudoku then the phone rang. The bloke said the op had gone well, no problem and Scamp would be ready to pick up in about 15 mins. I wasted no time getting into the tyre tracks again and Scamp was waiting for me when I parked the car. Drove home through various clumps of falling snow, some sleety, some large light fluffy flakes, some just dirty spray. I’d meant to wash the car at the beginning of the week. I’m glad I didn’t now, it would have been such a waste of time. Also glad I had fitted the new wipers!

Another coffee and time to relax a bit. I did go out later to get a pair of swimming goggles for Scamp. Apparently they are recommended for patients after eye surgery so they can use the shower without getting their eyes wet. Then I left the car at home and walked over to St Mo’s to take a photo for the PoD. It’s actually one I took from the door step. Miniature daffodils poking through the slush that used to be virgin white snow.

Dinner was a cut down version of Bacon and Borlotti Beans. It was more a “what have you got in the fridge?” version.

No sketch yet, because I’d dog tired and am going to bed. Scamp has already gone to bed she looks shattered, but she says she can see much better now that both eyes are done.  She said there was a ‘gritty’ feeling from the new lens, but that’s sometimes quite usual and it’s clearing up now.  I remember one of my eyes feeling like that after my cataract surgery.  Also there was some water leaking from one eye for a while this morning when she came home, but that seems to have cleared up now.  I’m sure she’s looking forward to getting the eye patch off tomorrow and seeing with both new eyes.

Today the Russians invaded Ukraine. Such a senseless waste. Such a senseless loss of life.

No plans for tomorrow yet. If the slush and the lying water freeze tonight we won’t be going far tomorrow.

Wiping the windows – 23 February 2022

The Blue car needed its windows wiped, so I went to Halfords to see if they had any wipers.

For once it was easy to get the right size and type of windscreen wipers. Just type in your reg and up comes a list of what’s available. Got a 26” and a 14” paid for them and drove home, dreading the next part. How do you fit the bloody things. Every new car has a different removing and refitting technique. Luckily the instructions were in the vehicle manual and I followed them carefully and they worked. New blades on and old ones going in the blue IKEA bag to go to the tip soon.

With that done, it was time for lunch which was yesterday’s leftover curry and then a piece ’n’ fishy jam, which is what my mum used to call marmalade, trying to con my wee brother into believing the little bits of shred were tiny fish. He never believed it, but he used to pretend that he did to make her smile. After that the rain came on and I’d to wait an hour or so to get my daily photography fix. I used the time wisely by finishing Rizzio a short novella by Denise Mina about the murder of David Rizzio, Mary Queen of Scots’ lover. Quite the best historical book I’ve read. If all history books had been written like this, I’d have passed ‘O’ grade history all those years ago.

Not long after I finished the book, the sun came out and the rain stopped, so I got my bare hour in St Mo’s to grab a few photos. A very few photos as it turned out, because I was just talking to one of our neighbours out walking his Scots terrier when the first splashes of rain appeared on the pond. Time to go home, but I was pretty sure I had my PoD, a close-up of a seed head of a weed.

Dinner tonight was paella and it was a nice dry one for a change. I’ve a tendency to make my paella too sloppy. More careful measurement of rice and water helped today.

Today’s prompt was Windmills Of Your Mind. This is the windmill of My mind. It’s a deconstructed windmill. It has most of the important parts. It has sails as most windmills have. It has a circular base (Circles) and it has a Spiral. It has planetary gears (Wheel within a Wheel). The belt drive is Never Ending and it drives an Ever Spinning Reel. Yes, I think that’s what’s going on inside my head most of the time. My mum used to say my head was “Full of wee wheels”. Which meant I talked rubbish most of the time. Some things never change.

Early bed tonight because we’ve an early rise tomorrow for eye number two.