A dull Saturday – 12 June 2021

Not a day for doing much or going anywhere, although it did brighten up later.

Scamp did a bit of tidying up in the garden and moved some plants around to give them more sun and also to put them in places where they could be seen better. I deadheaded some of the aquilegia plants to, hopefully force them to produce more flowers. Scamp also cut the grass at the front and edged it I am now reminded!

We had the other half of yesterday’s quiche for lunch. I think I prefer it cold, while Scamp definitely prefers it hot. After lunch I took the camera for a walk in St Mo’s. Snapped a few damselflies, but because I hadn’t lifted the macro lens, none of them were acceptably in focus. I walked out behind St Mo’s school and disturbed a bit dragonfly. It flew around for a while before almost crashing into me. It seemed to perch in a tree, but when I looked I couldn’t find it. PoD turned out to be a little fragile looking damselfly that seemed to be playing hide and seek with me hiding behind a stem. Every time I moved, it moved too. I took some photos of it and left it to its game.

When I cropped the damselfly photo in Lightroom later, it was really a small image. However, this new Lightroom has the ability to enlarge a photo to four times it original size without losing definition. That’s what I did. The process is called ‘Enhance’ and that’s what it does. It takes a fair bit of processing power to do it and the PoD took almost 30 seconds. The wait was worth it, because the quality is quite amazing.

We walked over to Condorrat tonight to pick up a Golden Bowl dinner we’d ordered. Two Chicken Chop Suey and two Fried Rice. Just as good as it always is. It’s great that some things don’t change in this world.

After dinner, Scamp and I watered the garden, just the front garden and just with watering cans. If the warm dry weather continues we may hose back and front gardens tomorrow night. We had a quick practise later for tomorrow’s class. The routines are a bit rough, but we have most of the steps in the right place.

No plans for tomorrow. We’ll see what the weather brings us.

 

It almost rained today – 9 June 2021

Not quite rain, but a definite dampness in the air.

Scamp was feeling a bit fragile this morning, having been a bit sick during the night, but after a big dollop of the white medicine that has been sitting on the top of the cupboard for ages she gradually felt better as the day progressed. I think the medicine is peppermint flavoured white emulsion paint, but it seemed to do the trick.

Just before lunchtime there was a sprinkling of rain. Not enough to satisfy Scamp, but better than nothing. It didn’t last long either, but it did at least wet the plants. After it had turned off again, I went out to photograph School Girl, the rose at the front door. The first flower bud opened today and it was right at the top. Standing on tiptoes I could just get a clear shot of it. It looked good with the raindrops beading on the leaves and gave me another chance to get lots of salacious views on Flickr with the usual title of “Wet Schoolgirl” or something similar. You’d be surprised by just how many views, not likes, just views, that title brings in. I really don’t know draws so many people people to a picture of a peachy pink rose ☺️!

Because of the delicate state of the patient, and the disappointing weather today we didn’t really go very far. We just kept waiting for more of the promised rain. It never came back for a long time and I got fed up waiting, so I grabbed a camera and took it for a walk in St Mo’s. I was sure I’d already got a decent PoD, but if you don’t go and look, you can’t complain about not having a photo. I went, I looked but I didn’t get anything that beat the rose picture, partly because the battery died after about ten shots.

By dinner time Scamp was feeling like her old self again and she even made tonight’s dinner which was Kedgeree and although it was a bit dry, I liked it and told her so. She thought it needed salt and more liquid. Maybe she’s right, but it was fine for me.

After dinner the rain returned. It seemed to be just about enough to wet the ground again, so we may have to consider doing a rain dance tomorrow if the dry spell continues.

Hoping for a better day tomorrow and also hoping that Scamp gets a restful night’s sleep tonight.

Coffee and Visitors’ Biscuits – 8 June 2021

It was the biscuits that swung it for me.

Isobel phoned this morning asking if we wanted to come down and visit today. She said we could have a cup of coffee and she’d bought Visitors’ biscuits. I didn’t know what visitors’ biscuits were, but I was fairly sure they weren’t Rich Teas or Digestives, so I was up for it, so was Scamp. She was on the phone to Annette about a certain caravan in St Andrews that would become vacant some time soon, so I agreed for her and said Scamp would phone her when the deal was done with Annette.

I had a couple of Aquilegia plants to pot up for Isobel, so I got started to that and we were almost ready to go. Just a quick cup of coffee first then we were off to the Village.

We had an entertaining hour or so with Isobel then she gave us a guided tour of her garden. She has a wealth of plants in her fairly small garden and takes no prisoners. If she thinks a plant if failing, it gets chucked out. I’m sure Scamp gets some of her gardening nous from Isobel. Oh yes, and the biscuits were Tunnocks Teacakes and very nice they were too!

On the way home we stopped at Tesco and came out with a shopping bag fairly clinking with our ‘groceries’. A bottle of gin, one of Pimms and one of Limoncello. All the bottles were reduced, so some money spent, but a fair amount saved too! We drove home.

Hazy phoned almost as we crossed the threshold of the house and we had a long chat. Lots of books discussed and yes, Hazy, The Hidden Palace is now on my wish list. I may even re-read the Gollem and the Djinni too, if I can remember how to read after all the Audible books!

Went for a walk in St Mo’s in the afternoon to give the ‘new’ Samyang 18mm lens a good test and it passed with flying colours. Every shot from macro, through middle distance to far distance was in focus. It’s such a pity that I had to shell out an extra £50 to buy the lens station that would allow me to upgrade the firmware. It’s just another case of a company expecting users to do their work for them and also having to pay for the privilege. The rush to get technology on the market ahead of rivals means that the tech itself goes on the shelf only part finished. It’s things like this that make me give up on some companies like Samyang. Yes, they are cheap, but yes, they are nasty too! Rant number 2 this week is over.

Dinner tonight was Butter Chicken, but for some reason this time the sauce was a bit acidic. It can only be down to the passata as that’s really the only thing that was changed since the last time. Next time I’ll just used blitzed tomatoes. Still makes a decent curry sauce, though.

PoD went to a bunch of clover flowers photographed with the updated Samyang 18mm.

No plans for tomorrow. It looks like being a wet morning.

 

 

Hooray for rain – 5 June 2021

Out looking for compost and a pot.

Such exciting lives we lead sometimes. What could be a more satisfying thing to do on a Saturday afternoon that taking a trip to the garden centre for a bag of ericaceous compost and a chance to compare the size, shape and price of different plant pots. In the end we did buy the compost, but passed on the pots, judging them no better than the one we’d bought earlier in the week. For once we were totally focused on the task in hand and didn’t really look at the plants on sale, we just bought the compost and went home.

It was a was a warm day and I just knew Scamp would want to get the new rhododendron planted in its slightly acidic compost. I, on the other hand wanted to have a look for some damsels or even some dragons. It was warm enough to wear a pair of shorts instead of jeans and that’s what I did. I walked over to St Mo’s, but there were no damsels or dragons to be seen. I took some photos of hawthorn blossom before I found what would be PoD. It was a little black fly crawling about on a tree trunk. I’m guessing it’s a Wasp Fly of some description, but I was struck by its strange eyes. The compound eye seems to have a simple eye in the middle of it. Since it’s on Flickr, someone will probably be able to ID it for me. Anyway, it got PoD.

Came back and Scamp was putting the final touches to the planting and was trying to water the rhododendron in, but something was blocking the watering can. She cleaned the rose from the watering can but that didn’t help, then she found that something was stuck in the spout. After prodding it with a garden cane, out popped a snail, complete with shell. How it managed to climb into the watering can and get stuck in the spout we’ll never know. I thought it was only Incy Wincy Spider who did things like that!

After dinner we watched a Baku F1 GP qualifying session with more than its fair share of crashes. Everyone seemed to want to throw their million pound race cars into the barriers today … and that was just the qualifying! What will the actual race be like, tomorrow?

Since we had missed last week’s dance practise, we though we should do a walk through of what we’ve learned so far, and we have learned quite a lot. Tonight we walked through two different waltz routines, a rumba, a tango and a cha-cha. We sort of walked through the first part of the foxtrot too, but couldn’t remember or agree on the first five or six steps. Hopefully it will all become clear tomorrow.

My weather app on my phone has been promising rain today for most of the week. It was apparently going to start at 4pm. They got it wrong by almost an hour. Just after 4.45 the first raindrops hit the window. It turned to hail for a time and then went back to rain again. It didn’t last all that long, but it did mean we didn’t have to water the garden, so the snail will be relieved.

Tomorrow seems like a better day and if the weather app is as accurate as it was today we may get out for a walk.

Coffee for three – 4 June 2021

For the first time in ages we had a quorum when the call went out for coffee.

Scamp was away first to meet Veronica for a walk around Broadwood Loch. I was next, away to meet Val for coffee. We had barely sat down when Colin joined us. I’d missed his reply to my email invitation. For the first time in ages most of us were available. Fred had to call off as he was taking his wife to a hospital appointment. As you can imagine, discussions were wide ranging and interesting but without politics rearing its ugly head. Time just flew by and it was Val who had to leave first to meet his wife to go shopping. That seemed to break the spell and we all left to go our separate ways.

Back home and after lunch, Scamp drove us up to Tesco and we did a bit of shopping. Just essentials today, although I did get a few bottles of beer and Scamp selected a suitable bottle of wine, oh yes, and some ice cream. Like I said, just the essentials.

Back home, I grabbed the Sony with its big, heavy, slow macro lens, put it in a small rucksack and went over to St Mo’s on a damsel-hunt. I couldn’t find anything worth taking the camera out of its bag for, but wandered round the pond and then tried again. Immediately I found a couple of Large Red damselflies sitting on the upstand of the boardwalk. Took a few shots, then went looking for a dragonfly or two, but none were there to be found today. Walked back and found the two damselflies were now joined in the mating position with the male grasping the female at the back of her head. They sat quite patiently and gave me the opportunity to get some detailed photos. The Sigma 105mm may be big, heavy and slow to focus, but it really does resolve a lot of detail when it gets the chance. The mating pair became PoD. The rucksack makes it much easier to carry heavy kit like the Sony/Sigma pair although it is a bit more awkward to get quick access to the camera compared to the black Lowepro sling bag.

Scamp went out to sit and read in the garden later while I made Paella for dinner. It turned out really well although I hadn’t done anything different to what I’d done many times before. It’s probably just an extra gram or two of spice or herbs that tilts the flavour enough to make things taste different.

Tomorrow we may go out to get some more compost for the rhododendron and I may shovel some more earth on the potatoes which are showing their green leaves above the soil again.

What a difference a day makes – 3 June 2021

Today dawned dull, cloudy and wet.

It wasn’t actually raining when we woke, but it had been. The streets were wet and those clouds showed no sign of breaking up any time soon.

After we finally got out of bed and dressed we noticed a visitor on the kitchen window. I don’t know what kind of fly it is, but I’m sure I’ve seen one before somewhere, probably on a window. I got a few shots with the Oly then for good measure, I took some more with the Sony. Sony won hands down. That was six shots in the bag, and one of them became PoD, but only after a fair bit of work. The great thing about the Sigma 105mm macro on the Sony is the detail it finds in things. The bad thing about it is the detail if finds in things. I’d washed that window on Monday or Tuesday. Today was Thursday and the window was covered in pollen which the camera and lens captured just as perfectly as it captured the detail in the fly’s wings and body. It took about an hour’s work to retain the fly’s details while blurring out the dust and pollen from the window glass. Photoshop is a cracking tool once you have time to work out how to use it!

We drove to Falkirk in the late morning to pick up our wedding rings that had been faultlessly repaired by the lady at McMaster’s. Mine cost nothing to resize, presumably because she could reuse the gold dust she’d cut off and because it was only 9ct. Scamp’s on the other hand was quite expensive because it needed a relatively large piece of 18ct gold inserted. It doesn’t matter, we are both now wearing the rings we exchanged when we got married.

On the way back we stopped at Torwood to get a pot and some compost to plant Scamp’s new rhododendron. After lunch Scamp started the baking of a tray of ‘Brookies’ which I’m told are Brownie Cookies. I went out for a walk in St Mo’s and continued on to the shops to get milk and some marshmallows which I seem to have become addicted to recently. No photos were taken in St Mo’s because there were no insects of any description flying today. When I got back home the baking was in full swing and by dinner time there was a box of Brookies to share. They weren’t as sweet as the usual brownies I’ve tasted, but had a nice crunch to them. Lots more there for tomorrow.

The clouds finally parted and the sun shone for an hour at night and we had a walk in the garden, deciding what to put where now that there’s a new plant to fit in. We’re still not decided on the final position, but I’m sure we’ll find enough of a space to squeeze it in.

I’m adding another photo from yesterday into today’s blog. Walking round the gardens yesterday, I found what looked like a good composition looking past the Reg Butler sculpture ‘Girl’, through the gap in the hedge to the people in the distance. However these two folk wouldn’t budge. In frustration, I took the shot anyway, including them. Just as I was pressing the shutter I heard the girl say “It’s not a very good sculpture is it? It looks corroded or something”. To which her partner replied “Hmm.”
Those who Can, Do. Those who Can’t, become critics. Thank goodness for the almost silent shutter on the Oly!!

Tomorrow I’m hoping to meet Val for coffee and a catch up and Scamp is intending going walking with Veronica.

An undecided day – 1 June 2021

It’s wasn’t us who were undecided, it was the weather.

It looked as if it would be another scorching day when we woke, but it never really reached full scorch. It was warm, but not bright all the time. The sun came and went for most of the day.

The first task today was to water the garden. Scamp did the front and I did the back. I think I got the heavy end of the stick, because there are only about a dozen pots of plants at the front and easily, easily thirty at the back. However, it was my choice and it was good just walking about spraying water on the thirsty plants. It also gave me a chance to stand there and admire all the things we’ve grown. Such a variety of flowers, greenery and vegetables.

After we put the hose away and had a coffee we had some admin to do. The boring things like backing up my photos, paying off my debts and also changing providers for house insurance. The problem is there’s no real shortcut to them, but they have to be done. One thing I didn’t have to do today was a sketch. May is over and with it, EDiM. I’ll miss it in some ways, but in others I’m really glad I don’t have to start working on a sketch at 10pm, then trying to get it into the computer and posted on Flickr before I write the blog. As it is, it’s just before 10pm now and I’m already halfway through the blog.

We’d walked down to the shops after lunch and bought what we needed for dinner which was to be a stir fry. On the way back I veered off to walk round St Mo’s, hoping for a chance to snap those dragonflies from yesterday. They seemed to have disappeared. Maybe the lack of constant sun was giving them problems. I think they need the sun to keep their bodies warm. I did almost capture a little red damselfly and a Jenny Long Legs, but it was a couple of Wolf Spiders that took most of my attention. The one of the female trailing her egg sac got PoD. I think I’ve mentioned it before, but anyway, they like to bask in the sun with their load because the heat helps the eggs to hatch. It looks such an uncomfortable existence. Almost as uncomfortable as a woman in the last weeks of pregnancy. The swelling is proportionally the same.

It sounds like most of our time was spent being active or doing work, but that’s only half the story. Although it wasn’t exactly wall to wall sunshine today it was still warm enough to sit in the garden with a beer and that’s what we did for the odd hour or two, just reading or daydreaming.

Dinner tonight, as I said, was a stir fry. Scamp made hers with rice as the base and I used noodles for mine. Hers looked a lot better than mine, but mine tasted good. I’d do that again. Maybe even without the tuition from my wife next time!

So, photos are in Flickr and the blog is just about to be posted and it’s just after 10pm. That must be a record … if it all works out.

While some of Scotland went down to level 1 today, most of the Central Belt were fated to remain in level 2. It’s not a big benefit for us really. More people from more households could meet indoors and soft play centres could open again, but neither of these would affect us. It appears that Covid cases are on the rise again across the Central Belt and this is a preventative measure. Better to be safe than sorry, I suppose.

Tomorrow we may be going east to look at some flowers.

Another day too good to waste

Up fairly early and out for a walk in the woods.

Scamp drove us to Drumpellier where we joined the conveyer belt of folk out for a walk in the sunshine. It really was a beautiful day and there were literally hundreds of people in the park, all carefully socially distant. How many times have we walked on that same conveyer belt but never investigating the woods? What an opportunity lost. This was our third trek into the cool shade of the trees. Lots to see if you look. Today we saw a Jay. Years since I’ve seen one with its bright blue band on its wings. Almost got a shot of it on the wing and looking as if it was heading straight for me, but it was out of focus. I did get a static shot of it and, although you can see the blue stripe, you can’t quite see its head because it was in shadow. Pity. We walked on and tried a new path, but found it just lead on to the road backtracked and found a path we’d been on before. Followed if for a mile or so then chose a new one, just to see where it went. It turned out to circle the cricket pitch we’d found last time. From there, all the paths were ones we’d already investigated. Walked back to the car and stopped for an ice cream on the way. The place was even busier now. There was even a bloke busking to a pre-recorded backing track. Never seen that in Drumpellier before. He didn’t seem to be making much.

Back home and after lunch Scamp got the folding seats out and set up in the sun. It seemed a sensible way to spend a warm afternoon on the last day of May. The month started with us driving down to Irvine to go to the first High Tea of Peter’s two day birthday. Along the way it had been a month of stretching our wings, getting gradually further away from the house and the walks round Broadwood, although the weather hadn’t always been great. Wettest on record some said, but it was dry today and the sun was out and I was listening to Rebus on my headphones.

Later I went out for a walk because I wasn’t sure I had any decent shots from today’s walk and could hardly believe that there were two dragonflies circling the small pond the boardwalk crosses. They were busy making more dragonflies, so paid no heed to me, but were far too far away and too fast to catch with a camera. I did see a couple of damselflies too, but they were too skittish, probably avoiding the bigger dragonflies. The best shot I took was just a branch of May blossom. It looked ok.

Dinner tonight was a salad with tuna pasta and curry rice which was just ok. Scamp had boiled the rice earlier and I added the curry powder and some curry paste, but it didn’t taste like I expected. However the pasta was lovely and worked so well on a warm day. We sat outside for a while to soak up some extra rays, but I nearly fell asleep and we retired to the house to tidy up and for me to get started on the last EDiM drawing of 2021.

Today’s prompt was your computer mouse. Rather than draw my usual mouse I drew an old corded mouse. It works when no other mouse will. It’s not as flaky as the Apple Magic Mouse 2 and it doesn’t use batteries that fail when you really need them, like the Logitech ones. There’s a place for old tech, even these days.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for another good day and we’re hoping to get out for a walk.

A lazy day – 30 May 2021

A day to enjoy the sunshine.

Today we didn’t go anywhere, we gave the car a rest day, we didn’t even have a dance class. What we did do was a bit of planting and rearranging in the garden. We also did a fair bit of sitting around, occasionally moving the seats to catch some more rays.

In the afternoon I took the Sony with the macro lens for a walk in St Mo’s and found a red damselfly fresh out of its exoskeleton, hanging on to a reed while unfurling its wings and pumping the blood into them before trying them out for the first time. It must have enjoyed the attention I was giving it, because its first flight ended with it hanging on to my arm. Then it flew back to its perch to dry out those delicate wings. I said my goodbyes and walked home, pretty sure I had a PoD. I did, although I hadn’t managed to get as close as I’d wanted. Maybe there will be other chances tomorrow.

We decided that, as it was a holiday weekend, we’d pass on the dance class tonight. We’re still not sure if the class went ahead without their star pupils, but I’m sure we’ll find out next week.

Spoke to JIC and found out about Vixen’s dentist’s visit to repair a damaged canine. A canine with a damaged canine? How strange. I wonder what she thought when she came out of the anaesthetic.

Sketch tonight was A Pack of Playing Cards. I chose UNO because it’s the only game Scamp can trounce me at. I must have won maybe one or two games in all the games we’ve played which must number about fifty now. I just don’t seem to be able to break that jinx!

Tomorrow we’re hoping for similar glorious weather to today’s offering. We’ve seen the promises, but we’ve had promises before that didn’t live up to the hype. Maybe it will this time!

The man who worked in the garden – 28 May 2021

We couldn’t decide whether to trust the weather or not. NOT won.

It wasn’t a terrible day, but it wasn’t looking like it would stay dry all day, so we chose to work in the garden instead. Lots of things needed fixing, moving, cutting and filling, so there were plenty of jobs to fill our time. I started by strimming the back grass. There wasn’t much grass to strim, but just like a bad haircut, it’s the little areas with the long strands that make the place look untidy. I’d done most of the grass and weeds when the plastic cable on the strimmer broke. When I thought I’d reassemble the cutter again the drum flew off and the plastic strands became tangled into a birds nest. Ten minutes and a bit of swearing later it was working again … properly!

Scamp meantime was rearranging the flower pots. Because of tree roots in the back garden, many of the pots sit at odd angles and today it was the pieris that was causing problems. I thought it might benefit from some bark underneath it as a cushion and levelling agent. The problem was that the pieris itself is really heavy and fairly bushy, so it takes two people to manoeuvre it into place again after it’s been moved. I think it looks better now that it’s on an even keel, but I’m not sure Scamp agrees. Only time will tell once it’s settled in its place. I dug out some compost from our compost bin and used it to cover the sprouting potatoes in their bags, after I’d filtered it for slugs which were promptly despatched to the brown compost bin to go to the council recycling facility. Scamp was also adding a load of trimmings and rubbish into the same brown bin for recycling. All in all an hour and a bit’s work made the whole back garden look so much better and gave us an appetite for lunch.

After lunch we went for a walk round St Mo’s, but again, no damselflies, although the cygnets were out with mum and dad. Last night after posting the blog I was reading last year’s blog and found that a year ago yesterday I’d photographed the first damselfly of the year. So, rather than being a bit behind this year, we are actually ahead of last year’s hatch. The walk brought today’s PoD which is a snail sheltering under a leaf. I wondered, as I was taking the shot, if that snail knew more than me and perhaps rain was on the way.

Dinner tonight was Frittata. Fry up a couple of leeks with any veg or meat you fancy in an oven proof pan. Beat up eight eggs and half a cup of milk and pour over the leeks/veg/meat mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes then bake in the oven at 180c for 15 mins(ish). Done. Serves four or serves two for two days. Sorry Hazy, obviously not for you!

Today’s prompt was for “Your Car, Any Car, A Matchbox Car …”. I chose Scamp’s Wee Red Car. I took some photos of it today and tonight I attempted to draw the car from those reference photos. Trying to get realistic curves in perspective is much harder than drawing an extension cable, even a four gang, switched, three pin UK one. Believe me. However, it’s done!

So, although the majority of Scotland is now in Level 2 or below, Glasgow has to remain in Level 3 until next week at least. I feel sorry for all the restaurant owners and publicans who can’t open their doors because a fairly small section of the community can’t obey the rules. Another case of ‘one bad apple’, or so it seems.

Tomorrow we may go on the road again, somewhere, whatever the weather. That will mean filling the Blue car’s tank again. That will be the fourth time in five months! I’m not sure we can afford this luxury!