Tidying up loose ends – 16 May 2022

Lots of stuff to do yet, but it’s getting clearer what’s needed and what’s not.

It was a wet morning and Scamp was out to Tesco, which gave me a chance to tidy up the back bedroom and clear a space to work on. When she came back the settee was cleared and ready.

To save time we just drove to The Fort. We were parked right next to another blue Micra. Exactly the same model and style. Twins! I wanted a book at Waterstones and she was looking for cards and gift boxes for yesterday’s gifts. I hate that work, ‘gift’. It’s so lacking in definition and emotion. I’d much rather say ‘Prezzy’, but I don’t suppose you can go into a shop and ask “Where do you keep the Prezzy boxes, please?” So that vanilla word, ‘gift’ will have to do. In Waterstones I managed to find both the books I was considering, sitting on the rack next to one another, so I bought both. One with a gift voucher (there’s that word again. I’ll call it a book token next time) and one with real money. The books were “May God Forgive” and “Bad Actors”. Met Scamp on the way back from the book shop and we drove home.

Back home it was lunch time and also time for a couple of chapters in my new Robert Pobi book “Under Pressure”which looks like another page turner. (Hazy, I don’t know if Neil has read this one, it’s the next in the sequence after “City of Windows”. Maybe you could mention to him.) I gave myself a limit of reading until 2.30 and then I had to start sorting things out after. I ended up with the settee covered again with clothes ready to go into cases. After I’d done all I could do, I grabbed a camera and two lenses and walked over to St Mo’s, hoping for some damselflies again, but there were none. The rain from the morning had disappeared and it was actually quite warm. Much warmer that the 10ºc we had going in to The Fort. I did find a big spider tending its web just by the side of the boardwalk and it became PoD. Not much light though, because those heavy rain bearing clouds were still hung overhead, so I took that as a sign to take my lucky spider shots and go home.

Dinner tonight was a bit of a mix up. Boiled some spaghetti, then cut some shallots and red pepper thin and fried them in some oil before adding some passata. While it was cooking through, griddled some slices of courgettes, aubergines and mushrooms in my ribbed pan. When the pasta was cooked I added it to the sauce and served the veg as a side. It was different and it seemed to work. This chapter is a reminder to me of how I made it.

We had a quick refresher of the “Baby” waltz, the Sweetheart Cha-Cha and the Fishtails from the quickstep.

Tomorrow is the last day of the short salsa class in Bishopbriggs. Who knows what Jamie Gal will throw into the mix!

The man who worked in the garden – 10 April 2022

Well, more likely, the man who makes a mess when he tries to help the lady who actually does work in the garden.

We were gardeners today. I was planting potatoes in potato bags. Three potatoes in each of the two bags. Maris Peers. We’d planted them last year and they had produced a good yield. They have been chitting on the window sill upstairs, light but cool. The spell checker thinks they’ve been ‘chatting’ which they might well have been, but they were actually firming up their sprouting shoots in a process known as ‘chitting’. Any chatting was purely accidental. While I was doing that, Scamp was pottering around the garden, filling watering cans, emptying bins and refilling them and pruning, always pruning. We did a quick survey of the garden and I found to my surprise that the Shooting Star which I feared was dead was showing signs of decent growth. Hooray! Also a plant we got brought back from Cambo gardens in St Andrews and had recently planted in the bed outside the back window was also showing signs of shoots as was another plant whose name neither of us can remember but is planted near the Cambo. Almost everything in the garden was rosy!

After lunch I put a decent pair of boots on, not gardening boots, and went for a walk in St Mo’s. With me today I took my old Tamron long zoom and the big, heavy Sigma macro lens. In addition I took a bag of slugs. There were loads of them clambering all over the compost heap and I just wanted rid of them and the eggs they’d be laying, so I put on a pair of disposable vinyl gloves and filled a plastic bag with them, then took them for a walk in St Mo’s. I dumped them in the woods. I hate killing creatures just because I don’t like them, so re-housing them is ok. If I call it re-wilding the countryside I’ll probably get a medal for it. I got today’s PoD in St Mo’s.  It was a coot sitting on its nest, floating among the stooks of last year’s horse tails.

I messed up a setting on the Sony and ended up with three photos for each one I meant to take. Don’t ask for details, just accept that it wasn’t what I intended to do and the excess have now been dumped in the bin.
Saw a duck that I thought was a Potchard, but turned out to be a Widgeon. I remember photographing it last year and being confused about its name then too.

Dinner tonight was the leftover curries from last night and it was fine. Watched a quite interesting F1 GP where Verstappen ran into car trouble and Le Clerc won the race. Unfortunately Hamilton could only manage fourth ;-).

Spoke to Jamie later and heard about all the troubles and tribulations Simonne was having in Trinidad with catching Covid and the aftermath. Also heard the exorbitant price her flight home would have cost if she hadn’t had travel insurance.

Maybe dropping off a present for Olly at his gran and papa’s tomorrow.


Drivin’ and Dancin’ – 7 April 2022

We were going to a tea dance today.

Yes, tea was served as was a tea loaf. For the philistines there was instant coffee.

First we had to work out the quickest way to get there. The community hall that’s used for the tea dances is deep in darkest Paisley. It’s a different one from the one we go to in Brookfield for dance class on a Saturday, very different, but both have good floors for dancing. The problem with getting there is that the motorway has roadworks for a few miles on the M8 and the speed limit is 40mph which is fairly slow for a motorway. It wouldn’t concern me greatly, but there are average speed cameras for the full stretch of the roadworks, and in case, just in case they are actually switched on, most folk are travelling at about 38mph. This slows everyone up. Then, once you’re free to travel at mind blowing 70mph, you have to leave the motorway to work your way through the devious traffic system in Paisley itself. It takes ages.

There is another way. I found it a long time ago when we started this tea dance caper. It’s the one that the Nissan app recommends. Anything the Nissan app recommends is usually to be avoided. When you ask it for a route between two places it firstly gives you the route and the time it will take if you’re walking. This from a company who specialise, not in walking shoes, but in selling cars. I digress. Today I thought we might just try the route from the app. Surprisingly, it was a much less stressful route than the M8, then the slow crawl through Paisley. I’m not giving Nissan all the glory for finding this route, I checked with Google first and they agreed! We were late arriving at the hall, but we much earlier and much calmer than if we’d gone the Paisley route. We also used it coming back and the only problem was the queue to cross the Kingston Bridge, but that was driver error. I should have gone with my gut feeling which was avoid the Kingston Bridge at all costs.

Lots of sequence dances today and we learned a new one. It’s got the usual sequence dance silly name and is an amalgam of various other dances. We tried the new waltz routine and it was a shambling mess to start with, or I was making a shambling mess, which is nearer the truth. However by the time we got to the Last Waltz it was coming together nicely. Tango was a work in progress. I’m sure we were cutting corners somewhere, but where exactly, I couldn’t say. We tried and failed at the Cha-Cha. I thought the music was too fast, and despite Scamp’s best efforts, we didn’t finish it.

We were sitting with a good crowd, most of whom we’ve met before and we seemed to get on well with them. The numbers were down today, but, as Scamp said, a lot of folk our age are grandparents now and have kids to look after during the school holidays.

Back home I changed into ‘normal’ clothes and went for a walk down to the shops via the well worn path behind St Mo’s school. Today’s PoD is a macro shot of a rotting fence post with a few clumps of moss growing in its hollow top which I found beside that path. I quite liked the picture and cropped it square, then gave it a white rebate. Looks a bit like a Polaroid now.

Tomorrow we may be going in to Glasgow for lunch, it being someone’s birthday.

Solo – 4 April 2022

Scamp was out driving the Blue car by herself today.

Before that, she drove me up to Tesco partly to get some messages, but also partly to assure herself that she can drive the newer version of her own Red car.

When we returned after the shopping, I took the wheel of the blue car and drove down to the shops were I parked at the far end of the car park and walked over to the repair garage and explained the problem with the red car. The bloke there said it was most likely to be binding breaks or a failing wheel bearing. I have to bring the car down tomorrow and then we’ll find out.

When I got back, and after lunch, Scamp was off again, driving solo this time. She was going to Calders garden centre for coffee and a cake with the now disbanded ‘Gems’. I left before her to post a couple of cards and also to get some photos. It was a fairly dull day with very little directional light, but with the help of the Lensbaby, I did get some useable shots. Not great shot, but useable.

I spent the remainder of the afternoon writing a fairly long email to Alex with some photos to keep his mind of all the things he has to do this coming week. No more word from him about the three generations of the family currently under “doctor’s orders”. No news is good news.

PoD was chosen by Scamp. It’s a wild currant flower. One of loads that are showing over in St Mo’s just now. A picture of a bright yellow whin flower took second place. You may know it as a gorse flower.

We watched the final of this year’s University Challenge and although there wasn’t a Scottish team in the final, at least the winners did have a Scottish captain.

It rained a bit today.  Just soft wetting rain that will refresh the plants in the garden.  More rain is predicted for the next few days and the gardens really need it.  Strange to say that we’re welcoming the rain!

Tomorrow it’s an early rise. The alarm has been set for 7.30am. We’re intending to drive the Red car down to garage and walk back to have an earlier than usual breakfast. Then we may go for coffee with Isobel.

I’m busy doing nothing – 28 March 2022

That’s how today felt.

Scamp was out to lunch with Nancy today which left me the run of the house.

It was a beautiful day again, possibly the last really warm day for a while, so after I’d changed the battery in the solar powered light ball that hangs on the tree in the garden, I went and sat on the front step and read my new book for a while, until lunch time, in fact. After lunch which was a chicken, mushroom and red pepper omelette, I continued my sunbathing and reading, although I did change to shorts and a tee shirt because it was really quite warm. I got a warning from Scott the taxi driver that I should have sun cream on and thought that was a wise precaution, so I went in search of sun cream. Finally found some, slapped it on and grabbed a beanie hat to complete my rig out. Possibly not the most elegantly dressed gent in the estate, but certainly the most comfortable, because now I’d taken a folding chair out. You can only sit for so long on a step before your bum starts to complain. I know I should have been sanding down the woodwork of the bin shed, but you can’t put a good book down! The book was All That Lives by James Oswald, in case you’re interested.

When Scamp returned I thought I’d give her some space and too the camera and the Lensbaby out to get some photos of the flowering cherry that grows in the depths of St Mo’s woodland. I got a few shots of it and am beginning to come to terms with this strange contraption. It does produce some very arty effects, almost painterly. That’s what produced today’s PoD of the flowering cherry tree.

That was about it for today. My work on the light ball lit up tonight and is now off again. The little Ni Mh battery does a good job and gives two or three hours of light. I’m hoping there will be enough sun tomorrow to charge it up again. Apparently it’s going to get a lot colder in the next few days with a wind from the north and talk of that white fluffy stuff falling from the sky!

One more thing.  I made Pasta Carbonara tonight for dinner, with a difference.  Two kinds of cheese, Pecarino and Parmigiano-Reggiano and NO CREAM!  Instead I tried Val’s recipe with an extra egg yolk instead of cream and it did taste better.  Must try it again some time.

Tomorrow Scamp is out again. This time it’s coffee with Shona. I’ll hope for a morning of sunshine.


Mothers Day – 27 March 2022

After the crowds and rushing about of yesterday we wanted a quieter day today.

A lazy morning, taking some photos in the garden. Completing today’s Sudoku and just generally chilling. That was the tone for today. Scamp spoke to Hazy in the morning, and found that Neil was feeling a lot better and talking about going back to work tomorrow after his Covid scare. Scamp too was in good spirits and seemed to be enjoying the good weather.

After lunch we went out and did a bit of gentle pruning of the Schoolgirl rose that grows up the trellis beside the front door. Last autumn we’d done some drastic pruning and cut it back quite hard. It seems that the brutality of the pruning has encouraged a fair amount of new growth and perhaps we can do even more cutting after the risk of frost is past.

With the work in the garden done, we went for a walk round St Mo’s. Just one circuit. I was going to go for a second round, but the light was fairly flat, even for a bright day and we both walked down to the shops to get milk and sweeties. No gin today. Back home, Scamp made herself a Pimms and I opened a cheap bottle of beer that tasted like a cheap bottle of beer. I don’t think I’ll buy another one of those, but I would definitely have another bottle or two of Wainwright. Cheap beer that tastes like good beer. We sat in the garden and had a wee drink and I took some more photos, but most of them failed the cut because of striping, something to do with the electronic shutter. Too technical for me, but annoying. PoD went to a shot from the morning of some lovely scarlet anemones. Taken with the new toy, the Lensbaby Sweet 50.

With the sun going down, the Pimms drained and the beer finished too, it was dinner time. The main constituent was there remains of yesterday’s chicken with potatoes and cauliflower. Dessert was ice cream with our new raspberry sauce which tastes a lot like the raspberry we used to get at the ice cream van when we were wee.

Later Scamp spoke to Jamie and heard about the problems of travelling to Trinidad and the difficulty of getting Covid tests in the correct time scale. Not for him, but for Sim. Also the joys of cutting an enormous lawn in the new house.

Tomorrow Scamp is booked for lunch with Nancy at The Fort. I think I may go down the Luggie to get some photos, all being well.

Off to Larky – 25 March 2022

To see the optician.

Thankfully I didn’t need new glasses, in fact, the optician said that my long vision had improved since my last visit! I have no idea how that happened. Scamp did need new reading glasses, but she’s getting Transition glasses which darken in sunlight. I know they’ve been out for some time, but these new ones darken much quicker than the older ones I had once upon a time. Hers will probably more akin to the ones Zaphod Beeblebrox had that darkened when danger threatened! When we walked back out into the Larky sunshine I needed sunglasses because of the drops the optician put in my eyes. Trust us to both go on the brightest and warmest day of the year so far!

We sat in the car for a while until I deemed it safe for me to drive. To drive to Gouldings on Clydeside for lunch. Being Friday, it could only be Fish ’n’ Chips. For dessert we had an enormous double meringue with four flakes sticking out of it and a strawberry on top. Slightly over the top, but we shared the load of eating it!

After that it was back home for Scamp to try out her new compost scoop tool to help her to plant her new roses. The scoop has been a great success, the gardener reported and it hold a lot of earth. Meanwhile I took the Sony A7iii out for a walk in St Mo’s and PoD was one of a deep pink wild flower. Actually, I took a picture of a flower that looks exactly the same, a week earlier in 2021. That just shows two things:
1. Wild plants follow exact cycles every year.
2. I’m becoming very insular. Photographing in the same locality too often.

That was about it for today. Lovely sunny day again. Tomorrow we may go further afield.


Waiting for a parcel – 22 March 2022

You wait all morning and then two come at once.

I got an email yesterday to say that a parcel would arrive for me today. It was a new, well, second hand, lens. Not your normal lens. It’s a bendy twisty turn round corners lens called a Lensbaby. It wasn’t too expensive in the camera lens terms. I ordered it last week and it was coming today! Also coming today was a birthday prezzy for Scamp. Scamp was going to the dentist today and I was hoping that her parcel would arrive while she was away. It didn’t happen.

After lunch and before she left for the dentist, the DPD man arrived with both parcels. I might still have got away with it, except as he was photographing it and signing it into his handheld device, he said “These David Austin roses are expensive, but they are good.” I knew then the game was up and brought both parcels into the living room where Scamp was laughing her head off. Well, it just extended the birthday celebrations I suppose. The rose I’d chosen was, thankfully, on her short list. It’s a Lady of Shalott.

After the excitement she came down to reality with a bump when she found out that she’d need a crown on her tooth. When she told how much it would cost, I thought it might be a real crown! Another long wait to get it done too. First appointment she was given was for mid June! Also, our dentist is retiring next week. He was good, well, I liked him anyway. So now we need to hope that the new lady dentist who is his replacement will take us both on as NHS patients and end the misery of me being NHS and Scamp being private.

I was just getting the mower out to cut the front grass when Scamp arrived back with her sorry tale about an expensive piece of porcelain. She told me to leave the grass cutting to her and go out an play with the new toy. I didn’t need told twice. I just laced up my boots and got on with the test.

It really is a weird piece of equipment. The body of the lens is in two parts, held together in a ball and socket joint. The lens itself fits into this contraption. There is no electronic connection to the camera itself an very little assistance to focusing the beast. The image in the viewfinder took a bit of getting used to, but I could see how the thing worked after I’d taken a few experimental shots. First thoughts are that it’s not a lens for everyday photography, but it does things I’ve never seen before from a lens. I’ll keep it for a while at least.

Today’s PoD wasn’t taken with it. That shot camera from a ‘normal’ Samyang 18mm lens. A bit of tweaking in Lightroom revealed the image you see of St Mo’s under a wonderful sky. The weird photos are on Flickr.

Tomorrow we may be going for a walk if the weather holds. If not, then it’s maybe a trip into Glasgow.

Another beautiful day – 21 March 2022

Almost wall to wall sunshine today, although the old weather station in the living room and also my little weather device in my alarm clock were both predicting rain that never came.

It was very relaxing, doing today’s Wordle and catching up with my Sudoku and reading, with sunshine streaming in the front windows. In fact it was so relaxing, neither of us wanted to do very much at all until lunch time.

After that, Scamp went off to the shops to get some oranges and apples and I eventually got my act together and went looking for photos in St Mo’s. I managed to capture my first fly of the year and my first spider. Both separated by a couple of meters, so no insects were injured as part of the photography process. However, with a little bit of back lighting, it was a couple of leaves from a Dogwood bush that got PoD. I just liked the colours in the translucent leaves (which are really shields for the flower buds) and the textures in the background. While I was away, Scamp had returned and couldn’t just sit around, so she strimmed the grass in the front garden.

I also brought back a tick. The first this year. It is now much flatter than it was when I found it and also much deader. That’s what happens when you ignore the obvious fact that you have to keep using preventative measures. I’ll order some Smidge tonight.

Not long after I came back, the clouds started to gather and it looked like the weather stations would be right after all, but it didn’t happen. It was just a bit of light cloud the weather man said. His idea of light and mine don’t quite line up I think. These were big clumsy looking clouds, but it seems they’ve passed by now.

Tonight’s dinner was the remainder of yesterday’s veggie chilli. Scamp had added some more chilli powder and it had a better kick today. Still the best veggie chilli ever, I think.

That was our lazy day. Not a lot done, but sometimes you don’t need to do a lot. Tomorrow Scamp has an appointment with the dentist in the afternoon. Our morning is might be free.

Just chilling’ – 13 March 2022

A lazy start to the day and a lazy afternoon too.

Actually quite a bright day although it started off very dull. I’d finished my book “The Second Cut” by Louise Welsh yesterday and had nothing worthwhile to read. So, for once, it was me who got up first after breakfast in bed – I did say it was a lazy start to the day.

It wasn’t long before the sun found a way through the clouds and shone brightly. It didn’t encourage either of us to go out and test the temperature. Instead we just sat and talked for a while. Then it was time for lunch.

After lunch, Scamp was ready to do some ironing and as I’m allergic to it, I took the Sony out for a walk in St Mo’s, but not before I’d ordered some tea and coffee, invited the Auld Guys to a coffee morning some time this week then finally, sold the old Sony to MPB and arranged its pick-up. Lots of boxes ticked on my To Do list.

I didn’t get many interesting photos on my walk, but there were a lot of sycamore seeds sprouting through the leaf litter in St Mo’s woods and one of them made PoD. Just because I liked it, I added another wee plant I’d photographed a couple of days ago to Flickr. I don’t know what it is, but the dark brown seed pods are never touched by any creature or bird. I must assume then that they are poisonous. I might look them up on my wild flower book to see exactly what they are.

Dinner tonight was the remains of yesterday’s roast chicken, although not all of it, because there’s more sitting in the fridge for tomorrow. Served with roasted beetroot and potato wedges. Very nice, especially the beetroot.

Spoke to Jamie and heard about the problems of being a boss and also of starting up a sports massage centre in a new village. Not him doing the massage, I hasten to add. That’s more Sim’s line of work. We’re looking forward to seeing the video of the mattress doing its automatic unpacking routine.

That was about it for today. Lots of stuff done, but in a lazy way. It works for me! Tomorrow Scamp is out in the morning to meet Isobel and I’m hoovering (Dysoning) the hall and stairs!