Out early again – 30 August 2021

It’s becoming a habit, this up and out early.

The reason for today’s early rise was to take the Blue Micra to Stirling for its first service. I’ve not been too impressed with their service in the past, but was willing to give them another chance, better the devil you know … We were there early and sat for five minutes or so before we went in to hand over the keys. Once we’d signed the car over to their safe keeping we were told it would be ready “mid afternoon”. Hmm, obviously they hadn’t read the email they sent us telling us it would be ready by 12.30pm which is hardly mid afternoon. To give the young service assistant his due, he consulted with one of the more senior assistants and came back to say they could indeed have the car ready for 12.30pm. I handed over the keys and we left to find a bus to take us to Stirling itself, the dealership being on the outskirts of the city of Stirling.

Basically, we’d missed the bus and there wasn’t another one for 30 minutes. Mr Google said it would take us 20 minutes to walk into the city centre. This is beginning to sound a bit silly. Stirling is legally a City, but in reality it’s a big town with ideas above its station. From now on in today’s blog, it’s a town, with a town centre. Right? Good, let’s get on.

Mr Google was right on the money. Twenty minutes later we were walking into the town centre. We were going to got to Nero for a morning coffee, except the shop was experiencing a bit of a coffee rush and was queued out the door, so we went to a wee independent we’d been to before. It sold decent coffee and probably had cakes too.

While Scamp secured us a seat, I ordered two coffees and the slice of cake that Scamp had pointed to and watched the bloke at the counter note them down on his pad using a kind of shorthand. However when I chose an Eiffel Tower (two layers of sponge with cream in the middle and the whole thing covered with strawberry jelly and desiccated coconut) I noticed he spelled Eiffel with an “A” maybe it wasn’t an A at all, maybe it was a little drawing of an Eiffel Tower. Whatever, the coffee was weak, but the ET was excellent and he’d given me something to think about that would stay with me all day!

We walked round the Thistle Centre which used to be a thriving arcade with no empty shop fronts. Now there seemed to me more boarded up ex-shops than those open for business. It’s a terrible sight that’s becoming more and more common these days.

The garage phoned at about 11.30 to say that the car was ready to collect. We walked back the same way we’d come and picked up the keys, collected the paperwork and paid for an hour’s work, and drove home.

After lunch Scamp cleaned the downstairs toilet and I did the upstairs bathroom. With that done I felt I’d contributed something and went for a walk while she did the ironing. I’m not good at ironing. I put more creases in than I take out. I walked down and round the boardwalk at Broadwood for a change. I saw two ladies seemingly feeding the ducks from the boardwalk and commented on it, but was told they were feeding the fish. Sure enough the little fish were gathering to feed on the fish food they were throwing down to them. Now that’s something I’ve never seen in Cumbersheugh before. I walked round the loch a bit and included them in a photo of the loch.

No plans for tomorrow. It will be a surprise!


Going to the dancing – 7 August 2021

At 10.45am!

Ballroom dancing class in Johnstone, the posh end of Paisley. The class started with a fairly relaxed Tina Tango just to get us going, then we segued into the Foxtrot which we made a decent enough job of, we thought. We got round the floor without too many mistakes and increased our confidence in dancing around people. I picked up a couple of tips from Stewart about posture and its benefits and also how to better direct my partner by using my hand on her shoulder blade. Jane ironed out a flaw in Scamp’s Heel Turn that had been bothering her. Finished off with a Rumba One.

Next was the Sweetheart Cha Cha, the one we’ve been trying to get to grips with this week. It was much better than last week’s disaster. We’ve managed the first part of it (the Front End). The Back End is still a mystery to me, but Scamp will sort it out. We also filmed some of the demos the teachers did and we can work with them once we slow them down and cut them into manageable chunks.

We had a bit of rain going to the class and a heavier bit coming home. The road was really busy coming home. We just dumped our stuff and headed off again, this time to Stirling to go to Waitrose. We got a fair amount of things. Mainly things you can’t get in Tesco or Morrisons. I got a couple of lamb chops that are earmarked for dinner tomorrow and Scamp got some fish, also probably for tomorrow. Didn’t go in to Stirling proper, just came home because it looked as if the town was busy.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk in St Mo’s, in the rain. PoD came from there. Dandelion clocks are a bit of a cliché, but if they get wet they hold little beads of rainwater and become a bit bedraggled too which makes them more interesting, I think. There wasn’t much else that came from the walk.

Dinner tonight was a Charlie Bigham Thai Green Curry which was plenty hot and really good. Expensive, but worth it, because it is Saturday and neither of us wanted to cook.

I think I might have pulled a muscle in my arm. I didn’t get much sleep last night and I’ve been dosing myself up with paracetamol all day. I’ve also used some Ralgex tonight. I don’t think it does much good. I’m pretty sure the massaging it in does more to encourage blood flow, but it’s worth trying.

We had some thunder again today and a few heavy rain showers. More of the same predicted for tomorrow, so I doubt if we’ll be going far. Maybe a bit of dance practise.

A dull day – 21 May 2021

It rained. Nice weather for ducks and also swans.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and got a low down on weather in Epsom, which sounded exactly the same as it was here. Wild and wet. Found about their trip to Wales and pleased that Neil D is expecting to return to work on Monday. A nice rambling conversation that brightened our day.

We drove to Stirling after the phone call mainly to visit Lakeland, but also to get out of the house for a while. No point in attempting a walk the rain stopped that idea. We went to the mini shopping centre that holds Lakeland and Dobbies, one of the last Dobbies after the business was chopped up and sold off. It still holds the Dobbies name, but who knows which conglomerate owns it now. The big “D” was once a garden centre, but now it’s become more of a department store with various different enterprises under its roof. Strangely, it’s possible to walk through from Lakeland to Dobbies although they are separate businesses and don’t share the tills. Scamp wanted a new cling film dispenser in Lakeland and I wanted some proofing wax or cream for my new boots. We got both, but also an assortment of other useful things, plus tonight’s dinner and a couple of plants. I took some photos of the Wallace Monument while we were there. It was a bit distant, but it was sitting under a glowering, but interesting sky. It made PoD. We drove home with a pizza for lunch from Sainsburys and tonight’s dinner from Cook. All from under that same Dobbies umbrella.

When we got home and after lunch, Scamp started the ironing and, as the rain had stopped and the clouds had lifted a bit, I went for a walk in St Mo’s, sticking strictly to the paths. Not much to photograph or to challenge the Wallace Monument for PoD, although I did laugh at the two resident swans out swimming with their seven, yes, SEVEN cygnets. Initially Mrs Swan was trailing three of them and Mr Swan escorted the other four. Then after some unseen signal the two groups of cygnets merged and created a convoy with mum at the front and dad at the back. Then off they paddled to the nest on the island. A photo is on Flickr.

We had a curry from Cook for dinner. Scamp had Chickpea Curry and I had Chicken Jalfrezi. Scamp complained that her’s wasn’t spicy enough. I had to add some yogurt to mine to cool it down. Maybe we should have mixed them for a medium hot curry. Still, it was as good as an M&S curry, but with a bit more flavour. I think we’d try it again.

I bit the bullet today and signed up for the subscription deal with Adobe. So far it’s working really well. It runs faultlessly on both machines and although it’s more expensive than other photo processors, it’s the one I know best. Some of it is pretty useless to me, but that’s always going to be the case. I’ll check it for the fourteen days I’m allowed before I need to buy it and then I’ll decide.

No sketch done today. Too much nonsense to get cleared away. I’ll do a catch up tomorrow.

No real plans for Saturday, but we might go out somewhere for a walk. It’s forecast to be a brighter, but colder day than today.


Rebels without a clue – 10 March 2021

We broke the law today! I hope you’re reading this Queen Nic!

Just to be clear, we were driving to Stirling, which is outwith our region of North Lanarkshire, but the horn had stopped working on my car. For some reason, the garage wouldn’t come to me, so I had to drive there. Still, technically we were breaking the rules. We were being rebels. ‘Rebels without a clue’ as Tom Petty sang.

The car was only in the garage for about 45minutes in which time they fixed the horn (loose connection) gave it a full checkup, counted the wheels, then washed it and sanitised it too. I think I may loosen another wire in a few weeks time, nothing too serious or dangerous and take it in again to get it fixed and hope it will be washed again. There’s a Scottish expression, “Why have a dug and bark yersel’ ?” In other words, If someone is willing to do the work for you, why should you do it?

Since we felt we had good reason to be in Stirling and since we’d be passing Waitrose on our way home, it would have been foolish not to take the opportunity to visit, just for a few minutes. So, a ‘few minutes’ later and a fair few quid lighter we drove home with three very full bags of ‘essentials’. We were just discussing our visit on the way home and we reckon it might be about six months since we’ve been to Stirling! Hopefully we’ll get back soon.

After lunch I cooked some stew that had been in the freezer for far too long, added a three pork sausages and two chopped onions to the mix and poured in half a bottle of Newcastle Brown. Brought the whole thing to the boil then set it to simmer gently for as long as it takes. Scamp was staying home being sensible because it was getting a bit wet outside, but I took the Sony with the long Tamron zoom and went over to St Mo’s to bother the frogs, probably for one last time. It was actually a chance to test out the lens in manual focus mode and it worked quite well. That’s why there’s another frog photo in this blog. This time it’s the PoD.

That was about all we did today. Stew was ok, but the meat was a bit stringy and tough in places. Scamp says it was just the cut of beef that was at fault, not my cooking. I’m happy to take her word for it.

By the way, Hazy.  Fred was quite dismissive about the actual Beverly Brook.  Here’s his reply “Donald it looks a bit shallow, if you look at the banks it could put a couple of feet on it.”  Some people have no sense of the magic of a place!

The wind is returning again and driving more rain into the front window. It’s supposed to get worse in the early hours of Thursday before it calm down a bit during the day. We might just manage a dry spell when we can go out for a walk.

Off to see David – 18 October 2020

He’s a hard man David. He stands there every day, wind, rain or shine.

We couldn’t agree what to do today. Scamp thought maybe we could walk round Glasgow Green. I wasn’t all that keen. Various other venues were discussed at length before we settled on a visit to Lakeland to get a flan dish for Scamp to make a flan in, strangely enough. That was it settled. We drove to Stirling and found the aforementioned flan dish and also found that Lakeland had fallen out with Dobbies which they used to be joined to. They had lowered the portcullis and were not receiving visitors from that shop. Dobbies had removed their outrageously expensive food shop and replaced it with a Sainsbury’s, which is probably why the portcullis was down. Otherwise the crafty Stirling folk would load their shopping basket at Sainsbury’s and waltz out through Lakeland without paying. I do hope Lakeland and Dobbies patch up their differences and exchange Christmas cards when the time is right. I hate seeing neighbours falling out.

With slightly more than the single flan dish in our bag (and paid for) we headed on to the motorway and up to see David Stirling. He was the man who invented the SAS and his statue is one of the most lifelike I’ve seen. It stands on a plinth with his greatcoat blowing in the wind and a pair of binoculars in his hand looking over to the hills he used for training his commandos in WW2. I had gone there because the view on a good day is tremendous. Today wasn’t a good day, but it gave me a chance to test and compare two camera lenses. None of the photos were going to win any prizes, but the difference in the shots was startling. Don’t worry, I’m not going to say any more on that score. Just let’s say the new camera is a STOATER!

Back home we needed potatoes for tonight’s dinner, so I volunteered to walk down to the shops and get them. On the way back I got today’s PoD which is simply two leaves stuck on a bush. You could almost say they were trapped on the bush and that would lead you neatly on to …

Today’s prompt was Trap and the sketch you see here is my answer to that request. There has been a bit of discussion going on at Inktober 2020 about the relevance of this year’s prompts, and some folk are saying they think it’s a good thing to have vague prompts. They make you move out of your comfort zone. I see where they are coming form with that argument but too many vague prompts make you think of simply giving up.

It was a sad day for me today. I packed up my old trusty D7000 ready to be uplifted by the man from DPD tomorrow to go to MPB to be sold to someone who would hopefully get the same amount of joy from it that I did. Look after the 7000 whoever you are and it will produce great pictures, just the same as it has done for me almost 23,000 times.

Tomorrow, it will be a day of comings and goings photography wise. Scamp is out in the morning with Veronica for coffee at Calders where I’m told not to go because they don’t serve what I would call coffee.

Oh yes, the Flan!! Wonderful. Worth the trip to Stirling to get the dish. Not any good for you Hazy, too many eggy weggies I think!

The test and the result – 8 August 2020

If, like me, you can’t be bothered about the details of the test and just jump straight to the result, here is the test in that order.

I phoned The Man in Stirling about 4pm and confirmed that we’d like to take the “Power Blue” Nissan Micra, and if the one we’d test driven this morning was available, that would be just fine.  He agreed that the one we’d road tested was available and that the paperwork would be in our hands by Monday.  You’ll note that most of our responses were in the plural.  We both liked the car and when Scamp said, after we’d road tested it: “I like it”, the deal was all but sealed.  After about an hour of driving round Stirling, Scamp and I were happy with the Micra.  Scamp said she felt quite at home with it.  I was happy with it.  Maybe not as powerful as the Juke, but not as heavy on fuel either.  Lots of lovely stuff to play with and at last, a digital speedometer display on a Nissan!  Something I’d really missed when moving from the old Megane to the Juke.  Good sound from the radio courtesy of Bose speakers and less road noise, if a little more engine noise when travelling.  Overall, it’s a car that we can both drive with confidence, and that’s what I was looking for.  Sold!

After our stressful morning we left Stirling to drive to Perth in the Juke. It was a beautiful day for the drive up to Perth but  when we got the Fair City, we found that the carpark was now an online parking carpark run using the Ringo app.  I’d read a few scathing reviews of it and decided it wasn’t for me, so promptly exited and parked across the road in a pay (using coins) carpark.  That was much better.  Maybe Ringo has improved from where it was a year or so ago, but I’ll read a few reviews first. In Perth we had our second coffee in a coffee shop this week, Nero this time just to balance things out, then while Scamp went looking for trousers in M&S, I went to get some much needed coffee beans in The Bean Shop.  Nearly maxed out the £45 ‘touch’ card limit just managing to sneak under the line.  I felt it was needed because I’d been reduced to drinking decaf coffee for a few days.  Actually ‘good’ decaf isn’t all that bad.  Perfectly drinkable and it doesn’t give you that  ‘Buzzzz’.  Bad decaf is just awful.  “Death before Decaf.”  Never a truer word spoken, Hazy!  Scamp didn’t find the trousers she was looking for and I thought I’d get my hands on the Sony camera I’d been searching for, but the bloke in the camera shop only had one which was 1p away from £1000.  I said “No Thanks”.  He didn’t look all that interested and didn’t even try to interest me in the purchase.  Perhaps it’s getting near the end of the line for small independent shops.

Drove home through the same beautiful countryside under the same beautiful blue skies.  Back home, Scamp wanted to work in the garden.  I went for a walk in St Mo’s.  Lovely big blue dragonfly flying over the small pond, but not resting on anything.  Gave up on it.  Nothing else really interesting, so came home.  PoD turned out to be a pic on my phone taken in Perth outside a toy shop.  Good to see a bit of Covid-19 humour.  Dinner tonight was a salad which we ate outside in the sunshine.  Chicken and Prawn Salad.  All washed down with a glass for white.  What’s not to like.

So, the car problem looks as if it’s on the way to being solved and the sun was shining all day today.  It’s been a good day.  Let’s hope that’s a sign for  the future, for everyone.




Where did the day go? – 5 August 2020

It didn’t help getting up just before 11am.

After a cup of espresso to wake me up, I went out to clean the remnants of a six month old parking ticket from the Juke’s windscreen. Then there was some residue from electrical tape that was still showing on a door pillar. Sweetie wrappers stuck down the side of the seat were the next target for me and my Dyson. Finally there were the dust and debris in the inaccessible places under the seat and stuck fast between the seat back and the cushion, but the long nose of the Dyson proved that there was no place to hide. It looked much better when I was finished and as a bonus, I found a charging cable and a plug-in charger I’d lost months ago!

After lunch we drove through the rain to Stirling to see what the man would say about our now (almost) sparkling Juke and how much he’d want something to replace it. We arrived too early but the man was busy talking to other hopefuls. He apologised and we waited some more. My unspoken limit was 30 minutes, then we’d drive home and he’d lose a sale. Scamp’s unspoken limit was the same 30 minutes. With literally minutes to spare he finished with his two customers and he escorted us to his table, complete with the mandatory clear acrylic screen. We had a look and a seat in the new Juke. Neither of us were all that impressed. It was much bigger and clumsier looking than the Red Juke. The Micra was much smaller by comparison and the seat seemed much lower too. Finally we got round to the numbers. It wasn’t as bad as I’d anticipated. We were all singing from the same hymn sheet and the bottom line was a bit better than what we’d feared. In fact, the top of the line Micra was quite well appointed for a fair price. The Juke we looked at was above our spending limit. It’s not that we couldn’t afford it as much as we didn’t want to. I don’t think we need such a big car now.

We left with smiles on our faces, lots to investigate and talk about an a box of posh chocolates for taking part. We’ve to phone on Friday to arrange a test drive in a Micra. I’ve already driven one and liked it, although it was an automatic. Scamp has had a quick spin round the factories in the driving seat too. We both quite liked it.

Drove home through the usual 5pm traffic and sat down to look at the details of what we were about to commit to. Looked at the clock and it was 7pm! Where did the day go? Dinner was pasta and tomato sauce (with meatballs for me). More talking about money and cars afterwards and then we raided those posh, Lindt chocolates. Took today’s PoD in the fading light in the garden. It’s rain on a pea leaf. Peas are looking very good this year. May pick some at the weekend. While Scamp watched a documentary, I processed and posted the PoD. More talking after that and finally got round to writing this blog just before midnight.

Tomorrow we’re booked for coffee in Costa with Isobel. Hoping to go and look at a camera in Glasgow in the afternoon. It’s looking like a better day tomorrow. Today was dry in the morning and wet in the afternoon.

Rain in all its forms – 30 July 2020

Today was wet, really wet, soaking wet in fact.

It was that typical Scottish summer day. Every form of rain you could imagine falling incessantly from the sky. It didn’t come as a surprise, we knew from the weather reports that today was going to be a washout, so we’d planned for it. We went for the messages!

We drove to Waitrose in Stirling in the morning. We needed shopping and there was no point in wasting the warm sunny day that had been promised for Friday, so we thought it made sense to use up Thursday wandering round Waitrose filling a trolley. When we got to the till I thought we’d actually managed to buy Waitrose. We nearly did.

Coming back, the rain was even worse and the spray thrown up by the cars was like diving through fog. I was amazed at the number of drivers who chose not to use lights. The ones who had no rear lights were bad enough, but it was the ones who didn’t even daytime running lights who were the worst. A grey car driving through heavy spray on a dull day without lights is almost invisible from front or rear. Rant over.

The rain continued into the afternoon and as I didn’t have a photo, I took a walk in the rain to see if I could find some moody raindrop pictures. Instead I found some Yarrow plants. One shot of them became PoD.

After dinner I settled down to paint a wee jam jar of lavender flowers. Scamp had cut them yesterday and I’d dropped them into an jam jar of water to stop them wilting. Today that jam jar and its flowers became the subject of a wee watercolour. It’s up on Instagram, but I’ll let you have a look at it here too. I’m quite pleased with it.

Tomorrow is forecast to be the best day of the week with predicted temperatures in the mid 20s here in the Central Belt. Down in London it’s going to be over 30º. Too hot for me! Hope you enjoy it Hazy and Neil-D. Hope the Cambridge pair have a more sensible temperature.

We may go for a walk somewhere if tomorrow is going to be Summer!

The big city – 30 June 2020

Not Glasgow or Embra, but the minor city of Stirling.  Granted City status by The Queen in 2002.  Queen Lizzie, not Nicola, who is the queen in waiting.

Today we went to Stirling for ‘the messages’. Since we, the common people are still restricted to approximately five miles from home for exercise and recreation, we wouldn’t be allowed to travel the fifteen or so miles to Stirling, BUT if we were travelling for essential food supplies, like Waitrose might have, permission is granted. We drove to Stirling. Parked at an almost deserted Waitrose and went for a walk in the city centre.

It was a bit strange walking past the closed up shops in the Thistle Centre. Y’see, according to Her Majesty Nicola’s decree, only shops with an outside entrance may open. Those that only have an entrance to a mall may not. Since most of the shops in centre fail that test, they can’t open yet. In fact, only Boots can tick that box, having an entrance to the pedestrian precinct through Boots Opticians. However, WH Smith was open and it doesn’t have an outside entrance. Aha, but it does house the post office and that way it can thwart the rule. One rule for Post Offices and another for the ordinary shops. We didn’t tarry long, Scamp didn’t even go in to M&S.

We walked back to Waitrose and made a valiant attempt at buying it. I can’t say Scamp did that on her own, I aided and abetted her, buying more than we really needed, but not as much as we really wanted. It felt very strange to me to be wearing a mask and taking care to dance around people in Waitrose. It put it down to accepting the queueing and the gradual return to almost normality in Tesco and the new shops, Waitrose was a known quantity in a known town. This was the first time we’d been there since about February and you grow to expect all the restrictions in the place you live in, but once you go to somewhere you haven’t visited in a while, it feels a but alien almost. Maybe it’s just me.

Back home and after lunch, Scamp went out to cut the grass. I did the strimming round the plant pots. I was also trusted with using the blower to scatter the loose grass cuttings to the four winds. I didn’t realise just how strong the torque is in that leaf blower. It’s a powerful motor.

Afterwards I laid in a sky for a wee acrylic painting that’s been in my head for weeks. Hopefully the sky will follow tomorrow.

Headed off for a walk round St Mo’s and got another photo of a grasshopper. It may be the same one, or perhaps it’s a different one. I never got to find out its name. I thought it might make PoD, but that went to a woman walking her dog.

Not a bad day, and a day without any rain. That doesn’t look set to last. More of the wet stuff on the way and we have no plans for tomorrow, even although Cass Art will be open tomorrow! Yes, I’ve checked and it does have the required type of entrance.

Leaping Day – 29 February 2020

It’s that day that only exists every four years.

To celebrate Leap Day, we went in to Stirling, in fact we went over the Tak-Ma-Doon road to Stirling. For the most part if was a jolly little run in the country, however halfway to Stirling, just as we were crossing the main road we came upon a bit of flooding. It wasn’t a problem for the Red Juke with its high clearance, but I was a bit worried incase there were any nasty little potholes lurking under that seemingly innocent water surface, but there weren’t, at least we didn’t sink into any, but it did make me think about all these poor folk down south who have been flooded out of their houses.

The next part of the journey was uphill again with no place for a lurking flood then it was down-dale and all the water would be rushing ahead of us with no time to block our path. After the downhill stretch we were on to the straight and level road where I could stop and get a few photos, one of which made PoD. It’s a wee farm under a glowering sky that promised snow. Luckily the snow had the good sense to wait for an hour or two before coming pelting down.

Stirling was busy, so busy that we couldn’t get in to Nero, so we went to a wee independent coffee shop where the coffee was poor, but the food was really good. Much better than either Costa or Nero’s usual tasteless stuff. Must go back again the next time we’re in Stirling. There being nothing else we wanted other than a wee run in the country and a bite to eat, we came back home via Waitrose where Scamp chose a basket rather than a trolley and that prompted us to buy what we needed, rather than the whole shop.  We had sleet all the way home and later in the evening the snow did make a brief appearance, but it didn’t last and it didn’t lie.  It’s getting a bit windy now as Storm Jorge slides across the country.  Allegedly we won’t get the worst of it.  There is heavy snow forecast for north of us and strong winds south of us, but as I’m writing this the bins are taking a battering from the wind.

Dinner tonight was a frugal but really tasty omelette. Peppers, onions, mushrooms and cooked ham sorted mine. Scamp’s was the same minus the cooked ham. We had considered getting a carry-out, but settled for a cooked meal because we couldn’t be bothered going out for Chinese or Indian and didn’t want to wait until 10pm to have a tepid meal delivered. A glass of wine washed the omelettes down nicely, and you can’t drink wine with a Chinese or an Indian take-away, at least we can’t.

The sketching topic was “Wedding”. Presumably it was to celebrate the fact that on Leap Day, the lady can ask the gentleman to marry them. SoD was Scamp’s suggestion. It was the bridesmaid’s basket that Hazy carried at Jackie’s wedding a few years ago … quite a few years ago! My mum crocheted the basket and formed it using sugar to stiffen it. She also dressed it with with artificial flowers. The flowers have faded a bit, but the memories are still there. That’s the last one done for this year. I may continue sketching, but if my past record is repeated, the work will peter out gradually, there being no real incentive to get things done and on time. I’ll miss it, but I can hold out until May when it returns again.

No plans for tomorrow except for dancing hopefully in the late afternoon. Real dancing. Salsa!