Sensible Shoes – 10 May 2022

We were going in to Glasgow today to get me a pair of sensible shoes. They would make a change from the black Ghillie brogues I have just now. The brogues themselves are actually quite comfortable, but the long laces criss-crossing the knee length kilt socks are awkward things to tie and uncomfortable after a while. I thought I’d try a pair of brown brogues instead. The first shop I tried had a pair that seemed to be what I was looking for. Foolishly I didn’t try them on, but went looking to see if there was anything else in a similar style.

There were loads of shoes in a similar style, but none that caught my eye. One pair looked the part, but when I tried them on, there was something just not right about them. Scamp noticed the creases in the leather that showed that they have been tried at home and returned as not suitable. They weren’t suitable for me either. There were brogues in dark brown, tan and even yellow. Brogues made from leather with tartan patches, some with tweed patches. Some were definitely meant for tramping the peat bogs of Wester Ross, weighing in at about a hundredweight each and others so thin you could spit peas through them. M&S had a great selection in every size under the sun … except mine. Eventually, after a coffee and a croissant in Nero I made my decision to go back to the first shop and try on that pair. They fitted perfectly. The looked like I wanted them to look. They were solid without being too clumpy. I bought them. The assistant wanted to put them in a machine that would spray them with some undisclosed liquid that would make them waterproof, stain-resistant, crease resistant and self ironing. She seemed quite disappointed when I said I’d polish them myself with shoe polish.

We drove home after Scamp had picked some cosmetics to make her look even more beautiful than she already is, if that’s possible. On the way to the car I grabbed a couple of photos from the JL bridge. One of them became PoD after some gentle toning and tweaking in Lightroom.

Lunch was a piece ’n’ banana. Fresh bread and a banana. The only thing that would make it better was a sprinkling of sugar, but I decided to forego that pleasure. Sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. I took a walk over St Mo’s later, but there wasn’t much to see although I did get one decent photo which is on Flickr.

Scamp was off to choir tonight, so I was going to be a salsa helper all by myself. The class was much the same as last week. We went over the same moves as last week and then Jamie added in Damé then, just for the hell of it, Damé Dos. It’s about a level 3 move, but the folk all enjoyed it. Really, it could have been carnage, but it didn’t. Great fun.

When I got home and pressed the button to stop the engine, all the lights in the car went out and it wouldn’t start again. The car wouldn’t lock and the boot wouldn’t open. Inside my car’s key fob there is a hidden key. I used it to lock, then unlock the car. Then I started it as normal, well nearly normal. It appears that the trip mileage had been reset and also the mpg was reset. The second time this has happened in the last couple of weeks. I’m taking it to the garage tomorrow.

Tomorrow, apart from a trip to Stirling we’re both hoping to go for coffee. Me with Val and Scamp with Isobel.

Photo Album – 4 May 2022

Photo albums were so much easier in the olden days.

Today we spent a bit of the morning and half of the afternoon making up a photo book of our recent trip down south. In the olden days, you took your film to the chemist who developed and printed it and handed it back to you in a neat little cardboard folder. Then you bought a photo album and a packet of Lick and Stick corners and used them to hold the photos in place. Usually this meant that the next day when you opened the album the photos all fell out. Either that or the pages had become stuck together by the Lick and Stick corners and then you tore the page when frustration took over.

Now you simply have to upload all your photos to an online company, decide what format of book you want and how many photos you want to add, then the hard work of arranging them is done automatically. The problems come when you want to move things around. No longer do you simply unclip them, replace them with another photo and then find a new place to put the old one. Now you have to consider the size and shape of every photo and sometimes the AI automatic formatter gets it a bit wrong and portrait shots get chopped into landscape and vice versa. It all seems to take a lot longer than the happy smiley company video shows it. That’s why it took us about three hours, with a break for lunch, to get things the way we wanted them. The book is to show off a new house to the folks up in Skye, because books are so much easier to look at than a tablet, aren’t they? Hopefully it will be printed and in their hands in no time.

After that collaboration, we split up. Scamp went to the shops to get stuff for tonight’s dinner and I headed over to Condorrat to post an envelope. Of course I took my camera with me and caught a fly with its beady little glass eye and that became PoD. Just an ordinary fly, because I haven’t seen any damselflies yet and very few hover flies.

It was a cold wind today, but if you found shelter, the sun was warm.

Oh yes, and May the Fourth have been with you today!

Tomorrow we’re booked to go and see Margie. Also hoping my new camera bag will arrive at WEX in Glasgow without a birthday card for a stranger in it this time!

Time to tidy up – 1 May 2022

Scamp returns today and that means the kitchen must be returned to its pristine condition. Oh dear.

As it happened, Scamp didn’t return to around 6pm which gave me plenty of leeway to make an even bigger mess of the kitchen by attempting to make a dozen English Muffins as advertised by Simon and Garfunkel in Punky’s Dilemma. Water, sugar, salt, yeast, flour, melted butter. What could go wrong!? Well, the answer was “Not much, actually.” It all went quite well considering how long it is since I’ve done any baking.

With the dough made, I left it to its own devices while I loaded the washing machine with stuff and set it to work. Then I went into the garden and planted some seeds. Teasels and a sort of Cowparsley or Hogweed called Ammi majus. The first is now in the greenhouse and the second is in the raised bed.

Lunch was another of Hazy’s “Crimpits”. This time the filling wasn’t so successful. I used grated cheese, cooked ham and beetroot. Maybe I overloaded it. Maybe it was because I was using white ‘Thins’, rather than wholewheat. Maybe it was because it was Sunday and Sunday should be a fried lunch. Anyway, I’ll try another mixture of fillings later in the week.

The dough was having a lazy Sunday and needed a bit of a talking to, so I gave it a last warning and told it to get rising or it would get kicked out, then I left it to consider its future while I took a camera and a couple of lenses to see what was hiding in St Mo’s woods.

There was a deer hiding there, but it saw me long before I saw it. It was last seen heading in the general direction of Glasgow at a fair rate of knots. PoD was a shot of a larch branch with fresh green needles that had captured some of yesterday’s rain and was holding on to it. I liked that.

Back home the dough was more than doubled in size. It’s amazing what a threat will do. I chopped it up into 12 little 77.33g balls and rolled them until they were smooth, flattened them and dusted them with a mixture of flour and semolina before cooking six of them in the frying pan (without oil),then baking them in the oven. As usual with our gas oven the timing was a bit hit and miss, and more miss than hit in this case. Some worked ok, some were underdone. There are another six in the fridge chilling tonight. Hopefully I’ll be more successful tomorrow. I suppose it doesn’t help that in Scotland we don’t eat many English muffins, so I didn’t really know what the texture should be like.

Halfway through the cooking and baking I got a WhatsApp from Jamie asking if we could do a FaceTime from New York. I explained that Scamp was still on the way home from St Andrews, but I was available. The next thing I knew, I was looking at Jamie with skyscrapers in the background. It felt such a surreal thing to do, to talk to someone I knew, thousands of miles away and in real time. I know this sounds incredibly old fashioned to some folk, but I’ve never had the need to do Face Time over a long distance before. It quite took my breath away. Thank you for that opportunity Jamie. Such a pity Scamp couldn’t have joined in too. And then he was off to catch his train to the airport to fly home. Safe flight home Jamie.

Scamp arrived about half an hour later, with lots of interesting foody things. Duck eggs, Ginger and Leek sausages, an interesting looking quiche, a jar of garlic piccalilli and two sticky cakes that we’re keeping for tomorrow. The sausages and a duck egg with some bacon became my dinner and mixed well with the piccalilli. Scamp said the quiche was ‘just all right’, but the pastry was lovely.

It’s great to have a bit of freedom, but its even better when you’re back home again. Lots of stories still to tell, I’m sure.

Somebody is coming to see us tomorrow to invite us to swab our throats and noses, then ask us those difficult searching questions.

Last full day – 18 April 2022

Our last full day at the house and we wanted to cram everything we could into those 12 waking hours.

It started off with a walk round the garden and the outside of this remarkable house and also some time for interior shots. I was glad I’d brought along the 18mm wide angle lens. Really useful for showing off the odd shaped rooms. Flowers, oh yes, lots of photos of flowers, but also photos of plants in Jamie’s greenhouse. Not just the immediate environs either, but also the church next door, St Mary’s. A few shots of that too. I’d thought I might get a last walk through it and down to the wee bridge, but there just wasn’t enough time.

Jamie drove us to look for some plants at a garden centre. The first place we went to had some plants they wanted and bought, but no compost which they needed. The second one was more like a retirement home for ill and dying plants. Not worth the name of a garden centre. The third one did have plants, compost and seeds. They didn’t want the seeds, but we did. I wanted Teasel seeds, but I also grabbed Yellow Rattle, Basil and Rocket micro greens. Scamp bought me a packet of Ammi majus which look like Cow Parsley, so hopefully I can have some in the garden, to save me walking to St Mo’s to capture hoverflies in the summer. Thanks Scamp!

Then we were off again, being driven to Bury St Edmonds to go for a walk through the Abbey gardens. Clever planting in the gardens with good colour combinations. We took more photos of the ruins in the gardens, but time constraints didn’t allow us a chance to visit the actual abbey. Maybe another time, if we’re allowed back. Outside the big ornate front entrance to the gardens there were a bollard and a post box that had been yarn bombed. I don’t know what I liked best, the Easter bunny or the flower garden with the bee. Both fun additions to the street furniture.

We had a rather high cholesterol lunch in Cafe Nero. My favourite being a Chouxnut which Jamie called a Croconut because that’s what they are called in the US where he’d seen them first. It is a soft choux pastry filled with white chocolate mousse topped with caramel biscuit fondant and crushed biscuits. Delicious and very fattening, but who’s counting when you’re on your holidays! I haven’t seen them up north, but maybe that’s a good thing.

Then we were driven back to the house, because Jamie wanted to show off his latest acquisition, a petrol driven lawn mower. Not a ride-on one, although that may come. Scamp was the first to try it out and found it a little bit more demanding than she’d anticipated. I have a video! I was a bit more cautious, since I’d had a chance to watch Scamp’s antics and realise that you don’t just go full speed all the time. I don’t do the ‘grass hoovering’ at home, but I can see how much of a boon this must be when you have such a big lawn on a slope.

Jamie wanted a head and shoulders shot for his profile page and I took a few shots when we were finished playing with the new toy. After a bit of cosmetic adjustments in Lightroom he was satisfied with the result.

After that it was time to start stuffing all our clothes into our bags, and for me, finding places to store cameras, lenses and all the assorted paraphernalia that photogs carry about with them. We had a final drink and then it was time for bed.

PoD was an ingenious lock on a little shed which holds the gas canisters that provide the means of cooking in the house.

Tomorrow is the long journey home.

A palindromic date – 22 February 2022

As well as being a date almost entirely composed of 2s, today’s date is a numerical palindrome. 22-02-2022 reads the same forwards and backwards. Check if you want to, but it’s right. I didn’t work this out myself, I found it on that great repository of knowledge, Facebook!

Today was one of those days when the weather couldn’t decide what to do. Would it stay dry or would it stay wet. Would it be windy or would it be calm. It couldn’t decide, so it did all of them, sometime it seemed to do all of them at the same time.

I have been looking for a new pair of true wireless headphones. The ones that are just two headphones that plug into your ears, or hang in your ears with no connecting cables. I bought a pair ages ago and they worked well for almost a year before they started losing connection. It seemed that you had to look straight ahead and not turn or one of the earbuds would switch off. It was really disconcerting, but they were very cheap and probably Tesco’s own make, because I never saw them anywhere else. Anyway, I bought a pair of Skullcandy’s to replace them, but the sound was awful. You’ve no way to check in-ear earbuds before buying. Scamp says it’s the same with earrings. I’ve never had that problem, personally! I had some money sitting in vouchers for JL and fancied a new (better quality) pair. A pair of Sony’s. They’d been out of stock at JL for weeks, but today they were back. Not back in black, but they had them in white and that would suit me fine. Scamp didn’t want to come to Glasgow today, she’s more or less self-isolating, getting ready for Thursday.

I drove through torrential rain all the way in to Glasgow and eventually found someone in JL who unlocked the cabinet and sold me the headphones. I only had to pay £4 odd for them because the vouchers paid off the rest. I’d another reason to go in to Glasgow today. We have loads of books in the house looking for a new home. Scamp has collected lots of them up and they’re sitting in bags in various rooms. I’d brought one of the bigger bags with me today and I handed them over, with bag, to the girl in the Oxfam shop in Exchange Square. Two jobs done. I bought myself another concertina sketch book in Cass Art, an A6 one. Scamp gave me my present A5 book and it’s almost half full with EDiF sketches, but a smaller one that could easily fit in my pocket would be useful. On the way back to the car, I was passing the GOMA and it’s usually a great place to people watch and people snap. Today it was a girl on her fag break or to be more correct a ‘vape break’ and a guy who seemed to be bragging about his drawings, you’ll need to go on Flickr to find him.

Drove back home through more rain. It just seems never-ending these days, although I walked around Glasgow and not a drop wet my Bergy. It’s the wind that makes it so unpredictable.

I charged the headphones when I got home and dumped the photos. The it was time to make a chicken curry for dinner. It turned out fine, but I was toying with the idea of using some Padron peppers to add a different flavour to it, but these padrons were HOT, so rather than risk it, they went in the bin.

After dinner I started today’s sketch. Today’s prompt was Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
I started off copying a shot of Noel Coward, but it just didn’t feel right and he really needed the sun in the picture as well as the ‘Mad Dog’ to fit the prompt. So, it became a sort of stereotypical man who is ‘something in the city’ with his times under one arm and a bottle of MD 2020 under the other. According to its website, MD 2020 is “made with juicy, luscious fruit infused with tasty flavors to create a unique variety of MD 20/20 selections”. Made in America, drunk in Coatbridge! Delicious (so I’m told) served cold in a bus shelter.

The headphones sounded terrible to start with, but once I’d worked out how to use the equaliser they came alive. It didn’t help that they weren’t sitting properly in my ears. Sorted now. Great sound with just the gentlest hiss at times.

Scamp’s telephone consultation with the doc went well this morning. Her meds are being returned to the previous dosage.

No plans for tomorrow, although I might need to get the front wipers on my car replaced.


Another wet and windy one – 20 February 2022

It was raining today when we woke up. What a surprise!

I took Scamp’s car out for a run to Tesco to top up its fuel and to buy some stuff. I had a voucher for groceries that I’d been meaning to spend, so I took it with me too. Scamp gave me a short list of her requirements and I got most of them. Bumped into Fred at the shops and we spent a good few minutes catching up on what each of us had been doing, which wasn’t much. We discussed the merits and demerits of the current participants on Landscape Artist of the Year. He asked after Scamp and I asked after Margo then we went our separate ways him to but more groceries and me to get one of those fancy scanner things everyone in Tesco seems to use these days.

With the scanner beeping away as I recorded all my purchases, I had a great time. Then I realised I didn’t know what to do next. I did what most sensible people do, but what most Auld Guys don’t, I read the instructions which said “bag as you go”. Had I done that? No. I’d just loaded everything into the trolley. However, I planned to use the Auld Guy card when I went to the checkout and plead stupidity. It comes naturally to me. Eventually the girl at the checkout sorted everything out and I apologised to the next couple in the queue, then made a hasty exit after paying my dues and using my voucher. A lot of my stuff was going in the Food Bank box which was now overflowing, but I managed to squeeze it all in. Feeling I’d actually made a difference to someone, I drove to the petrol station where the Wee Red Car got some much needed expensive petrol. After that I drove home. It really is a lovely little car. You can see for miles in it. Probably the best visibility I’ve ever had in a car.

After lunch and after marinading the short ribs I was having for dinner, I wrote an email to Alex explaining the difficulties of being a nurse for Scamp and sending him some of my latest photo offerings. With the email sent, I went for a walk in St Mo’s. I’d hoped to get some decent light, but, of course with my luck, I got the rain that had threatened most of the afternoon but hadn’t appeared. Just as it was beginning to clear, the sun shone brightly and I grabbed half a dozen decent shots looking straight into the light. When they were processed, there was no doubt they were going to be competing for PoD. The one I chose was the easiest to process. No fancy shading or sepia toning, this was virtually out of the camera.

I cooked the short ribs in the Le Creuset in the oven for two hours at gas 6, then for about half an hour at gas 4. My marinade was Salt, Honey, White Wine Vinegar and Olive Oil plus Mustard. (Salt, Sugar, Acid and Oil) You see Hazy. I do remember the important things. By the way, the mustard helps the olive oil and the vinegar to mix. The chemist will probably disagree. They were well cooked, but they had to be, they’d been chilling in the freezer since March last year! They tasted as fresh as if they’d been bought yesterday. Scamp had a simpler pieces of salmon cooked in tinfoil. No fancy marinade. No Le Creuset. Just simple good cooking. Both tasted great with potatoes and a little butter.

Spoke to Jamie later and heard how they survived the recent storms and more work needed in the house. He got an update on Scamp’s eye situation too.

Today’s prompt was Beautiful Day.  Unfortunately it wasn’t a beautiful day where I was today. Rain, wind and occasional bright sun, but beautiful? Not really. I watched the video for the prompt but nothing really jumped out at me apart from this bloke who girned and groaned into the camera. He’s probably someone important, at least important to himself. To me he’s a bloke with black glasses who needs a shave. Before you say anything, yes, I do know who he is. He’s Bozo, no, he’s Bono. Bozo is another thing entirely, not quite human, but still bumbling along, pretending he’s Churchill.

Tomorrow looks like it might be a good day. If it is, we may go somewhere scenic.



A really dull day again – 12 January 2022

Missed a coffee date with Isobel, but I’d work to do.

Actually, I’d forgotten about this morning’s coffee date with Isobel, but Scamp hadn’t. I still had work to do on those calendars. I know how Hazy likes the “Where was it took” page and I’d already made the Numbers database which I’d converted to Excel, but couldn’t quite get it to mail merge to a Word document. Then last night I found a brilliant way of doing it online using the website. Actually, I had it all completed and was checking it when I realised that I was using LAST YEAR’S Excel file!! Numpty. I did it all again this morning and then Pages wouldn’t let me format it. Grrrr!

Finally, after struggling with it for about an hour, I got it to work using a bit of software that I’ve had for about a year and never really used. It’s called Affinity Publisher and it’s basically a DTP package with far more power than I will ever need. Long story short, it only took a few minutes to get the page formatted … then another hour to line things up and space them out to my satisfaction. It’s done, they’re printed and I was hoping to get the calendars posted tomorrow, but I’m meeting Alex.

He had wanted to go to Glasgow again for more urban exploration, but I thought we might go to get some photos of the Mausoleum in Hamilton. I don’t think he was all that keen, but then Carol (his wife) suggested we go to get the photos in Hamilton and then we head for Chatelherault for a coffee and a blether. That sounded like a plan to me and Alex seemed to agree. Hoping it doesn’t rain tomorrow!

I took the Sony out for a walk in St Mo’s in the afternoon and left it a bit too late. The light was all but gone by the time I went out, but I did get a few things. The best of a bad lot is this little sapling. The trunk of the tree it’s growing out of had split many years ago and one of the two trunks was sawn off. I’m guessing a seed got lodged in a crack in the stump and that’s what produced the sapling. I’m wondering now if the sapling is the same as the main tree which is a Silver Birch. It would be a talking point if it survived and was a totally different tree, like an ash or a beech, both of which are quite prolific in St Mo’s. The Squatter Seedling made PoD.

The big question tonight is: Is Boris dead in the water, or will he survive to bumble again? Answers, as always, on a postcard please.

I’m hoping to go and take some architectural photos tomorrow with the chance of a coffee and a blether later. Scamp is booked for coffee with Annette.

Almost cut my hair – 10 January 2022

I didn’t actually. It’s much deeper.

“Almost cut my hair” is a song by Stephen Stills on the “Déja Vu” album, away back in 1970. It seems to be about almost making a bad decision, one you will regret for a long time and once that decision is made, you can’t go back to how it was before. Today started as a dull day and just got more gloomy as the morning changed to afternoon and by about 3pm there was no point in going out to grab a photo. I almost decided to call a halt to the 365. I’m finding it harder to get fresh ideas for photos. The lack of decent directional light, day after day is part of it and I think the other part is needing to get out and look for new photographic opportunities. So, almost cut my hair, but not quite, not yet anyway.

What I did do was to dig through the archives to find some old stuff, old digital negatives from Skye and places like that. Places we haven’t been for a long time, years even, and try processing them again. Today’s one is on Flickr if you wish to have a look.

Today’s PoD turned out to be two little cat salt and pepper pots. Scamp bought them some years ago in a warm place. When they sit on the table they make us smile and remember past holidays. The are awkward to use because rather than having one hole in the top for salt or lots of smaller ones for pepper, both of them have three holes. It makes it a game of chance, a lucky dip whether you get salt or pepper.

We did go for a spin today over to Coatbridge to buy a WiFi extender. Two boxes, one you plug into the mains and connect to the modem. The other you put somewhere with a poor wireless signal. Plug it in to the mains and search for it with whatever device you are using. Once you find it you type in the password from the box and like magic it connects through the first box to the modem and you have an excellent signal. That sounds a bit complicated, but it is much simpler to do than to describe. Best of all, it just works!

I also got some more photo paper and made us a calendar for the toilet. I know it sounds sort of weird, having a calendar in the toilet, but every month in it has a different holiday picture. Like the wee cats it brings back memories of warmer places. The ‘real’ calendars are printed and bound and ready to fly to deserving people in the next few days. I’ve even done a “Where Was It Took” page especially for you Hazy. I’m struggling at the moment to remember how to mail merge it from Excel to Word.

That was about it for the day I almost cut my hair. We had pasta and tomato sauce for dinner. Scamp had bought M&S Plant Kitchen veggie balls. We tried them in with the pasta and tomato sauce. They were boggin. If you’re ever in Marks and you see them, just walk on by. That’s our recommendation.

Tomorrow we’re out in the morning but the afternoon doesn’t have anything planned for it. You’ll find out if we do anything interesting. No hair will be cut!

Another day of swearing – 6 January 2022

Swearing at the printer and the coffee maker, making a loaf, taking a few photos and making the dinner. My day in a nutshell.

The printer was being bad. It was as simple as that. It would print perfectly, then stop, chuck out the next two pages and then put on its red light to show it wasn’t happy. After trying lots of different things that you aren’t interested in hearing, I did what I should have done ages ago and removed it in its entirety from the iMac. Then I reinstalled all the stuff I’d taken off, and it worked perfectly for the rest of the day!

The coffee maker was being bad. I cleaned the portafilter, checked the filter itself and made sure it was clean. I checked the little hole in the filter cup wasn’t clogged. Filled it with coffee and set it to work, except it didn’t. It just held its breath and grumped, not releasing any life-giving coffee. So in true John Cleese fashion I gave it a damn good thrashing. I took the filter cup upstairs and used a nail and a cross pein hammer to enlarge that tiny little hole. No coffee ground is going to get stuck in there now. Maybe a coffee bean might manage to get lodged, but no coffee grounds. It would probably have been better to use a 1mm drill, but I didn’t have any. It worked perfectly after the thrashing.

The loaf knew better than to mess me about. It just worked, perfectly. I let the mixer do the hard kneading work and at the end of the process, a perfectly baked and slightly odd shaped loaf graced the cooling rack. Nice to know that some things just do what they’re told.

Scamp had taken the Wee Red Car out for a spin in the morning, just to make sure its battery was well charged, and also to get some messages. Fruit, veg a half price Christmas Pudding and a packet of tooth brushes were here prizes today. Oh yes, and I can report that the wee red car is looking very pumped up after its run. Pumped up and sparkling, actually, as you can see!.

It had been a very dull, wet and cold day with not a hint of sunshine until about 3pm when the sun broke loose from the clouds and shone on Cumbersheugh! On with the boots, camera in the bag and out looking for photos. I managed to grab a few shots of a couple of Coots before the swans came, demanding to be fed. Tomorrow I’ll take them some of the bread I made on Sunday. They won’t come asking again. They might not even get to the other side of the pond before they have that sinking feeling. It was a heavy loaf.

Dinner was Chicken Curry made with real chicken dated August 2021. Last year’s chicken that had been hiding at the back of the freezer. That poor cooker. It had all its four rings burning brightly. It’s a wonder it didn’t melt! One ring for the curry, one for the rice, one for the flat bread and one for the leftover chicken that couldn’t be re-frozen or put into the fridge while raw, but could go in after it had been cooked. Maybe it was because I couldn’t stand the heat, but I was finding it hard to keep my cool in the kitchen. More swearing ensued. Finish the day as you started it, that’s my motto!

Tomorrow there is snow forecast. In fact as I look out the window, it’s arriving early. We might manage a walk tomorrow, it depends if we get snowed in or not!

Blue Skies – 30 December 2021

Now there’s a surprise. It surprised us too, but the blue skies didn’t last – they never do these days.

At around 9am the skies were clearing and there was blue sky up there. Not a lot of it, I grant you, but it was there and there were much lighter clouds than of late. By 11am when we were setting off for a shopping expedition to Tesco, the blue sky had disappeared and the clouds were getting lower and lower. I think it was just a ruse to encourage us out.

Scamp got a phone call from Jackie in Skye and the two were blethering away, so firstly I went out with a camera to photograph an Echinacea plant that’s still flowering in the garden. Then I went upstairs to work on our kitchen calendar adding some photos that I’d shared through iCloud. Unfortunately the WiFi signal from the new modem couldn’t reach to the upstairs bedroom and I started thinking I might try one of those ‘powerline’ extenders that carry a wireless signal through the 240v cables in the house and can be picked up anywhere through a receiver. I might look into it. Anyway, I finally got the share done and half the photos inserted into the Pages document.

After she was finished on the phone, Scamp drove us in the Wee Red Car up to Tesco and we did a fair bit of shopping. Enough to keep us going into the new year which was only two days away (it’s a bit closer now). Lots of other folk were doing their last minute New Year shopping. Lots of clinks to be heard at the checkout, the sort of clinks that bottles make. We were no exception, so we have no room to talk.

When we got back we found that the Amazon fairies had been and left us a couple of parcels. Only one was really for us, or for Scamp to be more precise. It was a new pen that I couldn’t find anywhere in a 30 mile radius, but Amazon had it of course. After lunch and while Scamp was getting her Dundee cake ready for the oven, I went out to get some more photos in St Mo’s. By then the clouds were gathering and there was no sign of that lovely blue sky. I took a few photos while I was out, but nothing compared to the echinacea from the morning.

Back home it was soon time to make dinner and we’d both agreed on Mushroom Risotto. It turned out exceptionally good. Probably because I was using a ‘Risotto Paddle’ made from cherry wood and designed for mixing the risotto. It’s got a hole about 50mm diameter in the blade to increase the surface area and force the rice granules through, making the risotto much creamier. Also, the flat base and straight sides make it easy to scrape the rice from the bottom and sides of the pan. Very clever tool that does everything its been designed for. I was impressed. Thank you both for it!

We watched The Remains of the Day tonight. It was a strange film that posed more questions than it answered. It was based on a book, written by Kazuo Ishiguro. I’ve read one of his books and it left me with the same feeling this film did.

Tomorrow we have no plans. It’s unlikely to be dry by the looks of things, but that won’t be anything unusual. If it dries up we may go for a walk. Otherwise it will be the usual Hogmanay story of cleaning up the house ready for The Bells.