Well Done Colin – 15 September 2021

We woke to mist, or was it fog. Whatever it was, it was taking a while to clear. While it was clearing, Went out to take some photos of the sheep in the field across the road. I meant to shoot the sheep, but I got photobombed by the Shetland Pony stallion and I thought “Why not?” The resulting image worked for me.

Just after the sheep and photobombing stallion photo shoot, the mist started clearing quite rapidly and we were off to conquer the Nine Standards. The Nine Standards are nine (strangely enough), mostly conical cairns on top of Nine Standards Rigg which is over 620m above sea level. We weren’t climbing all 620m because Jamie was driving up to a parking place below the start of the main climb. Actually we’d walked the first part of it from Kirkby Stephen to the parking place last year.

The climb, or walk, started off well with Vixen leading the way and at a blistering rate. Scamp and I were bringing up the rear and I will admit that I was feeling the strain after about 20mins, even at Jamie’s relaxed pace. After a while we encouraged Jamie to go on ahead and keep Simonne company. Eventually at about two thirds distance I had to tell Scamp to leave me and walk up to meet the other two. I was almost totally exhausted. However, after about fifteen minutes rest sitting on some sheep droppings, watching the clouds form and reform over the distant hills I felt better, hoisted myself to my feet and plodded on up the never ending hill. Two more stops were needed to catch my breath and a couple of phone calls where I lied to Scamp that I was still sitting comfortably where she’d left me. No way was I going to tell her I was heading for the top. I think the others were almost ready to start the descent when I finally reached the cairns. A chocolate energy bar from Jamie and half a bottle of water sitting at one of the cairns gave me enough or a rest to start the walk down, which Jamie had repeatedly told us was much easier than the climb up.

He was right. The descent was much easier than I though it would be and best of all, instead of an ever present hill in front of us, we had a panorama of hills, blue sky and clouds to keep us interested. On the way down we met a group of three Auld Guys on their way up. We spoke a while to them. The lead walker was 76, the next was 86 and the final member was nearly 90. We were instructed to make sure to say “Well done, Colin” when we met him, and that’s what we did. He just laughed and said “Somebody must be broadcasting it!”

After Jamie drove us home we were treated to another, even more spectacular air show with a low flying helicopter another BAE Hawk. I wonder how much that operation cost. No idea where the helicopter came from, but the jet came all the way from Anglesey.

Scamp an I went for another walk along the road later in the afternoon to loosen our legs. Jamie and Simonne were making Parmigiano Chicken tonight.

The PoD wasn’t the cairns, or the view from the top, but the tree. It’s been in and out of Lightroom a few times since it was taken, but I like the look of it now.

Tomorrow is the day we all know must come. We all go home, but today was mighty!

The Far East – 23 August 2021

The weather seemed to be set fair so we drove out into it.

Pointed the Blue Micra in the general direction of Edinburgh and stopped driving at Cramond which was our destination for the day. The day started under a disappointing milky white sky, but as we travelled east the clouds lifted and thinned so that by the time we were parking at Cramond there was definite form to the clouds which were breaking to allow the sun through. We went for a walk.

We walked along the esplanade, again in the general direction of Edinburgh. There wasn’t much choice here, with the Forth estuary to the north, the way we’d come to the south and the River Almond cutting off our walk to the west. If we’d been there earlier we could have walked over the causeway to Cramond Island, but it looked as if the tide was on the turn, so that would have been a dangerous and wet direction to take. Maybe another day.

On the walk we found a community wildflower garden. It was carefully cordoned off and two ladies were carrying metre square grids to help them in taking serious measurements or counts of something scientific. We just liked the colour combinations of the red poppies, blue cornflower and something like a big daisy, but bright yellow. They almost made PoD, but as it happened they only played a supporting role. PoD went to a Small Copper butterfly on a fading cone flower.

I’d hoped we’d get a coffee in the wee café, but Scamp had remembered that it’s only open at weekends, so we walked on. We passed my favourite trees. I don’t know what they are. I must ask someone who knows, but they look so elegant. Tall straight trunks with little bunches of leaves at the top looking like a bad haircut. That’s when Scamp noticed someone hadn’t poop scooped and she’d walked through it. For once I played the good Samaritan and offered to take her shoe down to the sea and wash it clean. Of course, in the process I managed to confirm that the tide was indeed coming in. In to my trainers, that is! That was far enough we decided and walked back to the ice cream van that’s always parked at the roundabout that marks the west end of the esplanade. Two cones by the sea. What’s not to like?

We walked up the path beside the river as far as the falls at the old ruined mill. Again I’d been hoping that a wee cafe that used to be there would be open, but it was under reconstruction, so no coffee today. There’s a great old tree next to the path. It sits on a steep slope and over the years the rain washing down that slope has removed most of the soil from its roots and they are now exposed to the air and covered in colourful fungi. Unfortunately it now has a white “X” painted on its trunk, so it may not have much longer to be climbed on by decades of children.

Back home I made a sort of salmon and pea tagliatelle which was less than successful. Maybe it’s worth another try.

Tomorrow looks like another dry day. Scamp has a hair appointment in the morning, but the afternoon might be free.

Shopping in Stirling – 18 August 2021

We were away for the messages.

Scamp had mentioned that she fancied going to Sainsbury’s for the messages this week. The nearest one, that didn’t run the risk of five miles of queues because of road works, was in Stirling. As far as we knew, there would be no problem with folk digging up the road there, so off we went. We drove through the Raploch, once the worst housing estate in Scotland, now very up-market and the worst place to drive through in Scotland. Every few yards the road surface changes from tarmac to concrete to granite tiles. Speed bumps everywhere, and in the tiled areas they are colour matched to the tiles which makes driving very tricky, but ensures you keep within the 20mph limit. We found Sainsbury’s without any problem and I discovered I’d a message from Jamie with some very good news.

Lots of interesting things to buy in Sainsburys. First supermarket I’ve been in where they sell watches! Whatever next. But it felt like we’d gone back in time a year and a bit, because a lot of the shelves were empty. Not enough delivery drivers we’re told. Well, some of you silly buggers voted for Brexit and swallowed every fairy tale you were told. It looks like reality is coming home to bite you now that there aren’t enough low paid foreign workers wanting to come to the UK to work.

We’d found an interesting historical artefact when we were checking out the road to Sainsbury’s. There’s a Beheading Stone on a hill near the supermarket. We’d half intended going for a look, but as far as we could tell, there were no beheadings scheduled for today. Maybe another day then.

Back home we potted up the echinacea we bought on Monday. We’d bought a clay pot for it and Scamp had had it soaking in the bird bath for a few days. You have to do that with clay pots because otherwise they will draw water away from the compost and allow it to evaporate into the air. After we’d potted the plant up we gave it a good drink of pure rain water we’d collected during the heavy rain last week. Then it got to sit in the sun for a while at the front of the house, while a rose that had sat there all summer went to the back garden to rest a while.

I finally chopped and sawed down the remaining trunk and branches of the tree that had been growing between Angela’s garden and ours. The loppers did most of the work on the branches, but I had to resort to a panel saw for the trunk. I’d been talking to Fred before that and he was telling me that he recycles all his tree branches with a shredder. I don’t think we have enough trees to warrant the purchase of a shredder, but it would have been useful today. However, it all went into the brown bin today and it gets lifted tomorrow.

Went for a walk in the woods of St Mo’s later and got today’s PoD. It’s a little ball of moss on a dead tree branch. I liked the way the sun was just catching the moss. Not everyone’s favourite, but I liked it which is the reason it got PoD.

A longer and calmer practise tonight trying to put together the ‘back end’ of the foxtrot routine. Sometimes if feels more like a ‘backside’ rather than a back end, but it’s coming together slowly.

Tomorrow we are intending to take Margie out for coffee somewhere.

Driving, Walking and Raining – 12 August 2021

With a few sunny spells too.

We’ve promised John and Marion that we’ll be at her dad’s funeral tomorrow in High Blantyre at 10am. We were up fairly early today, so we left the house at 9.30am to do a trial run to the crematorium to check out the traffic at about the time we’d leave tomorrow. We arrived almost at 10am, so our intended leaving time of 9.15 tomorrow looked ok.

Instead of coming straight home, Scamp suggested we go to Drumpellier for a walk round the loch. She hasn’t really been out of the house since Monday, so a walk in the park would do her some good, and do me some good too. This is the last week of the school holidays with teachers going back to work today and tomorrow and those lovely children (yes, that was sarcasm!) going back on Monday. There were quite a lot of children making the most of their last few days of freedom accompanied by mums, dads, grans and grandpas, all glad to see them going back to school. Add in the usual pensioners getting in their daily exercise and you can imagine, it was a busy place.

We walked the usual “travelator” circuit for a bit and then took one of the paths into the woods just to get out of the crowds. We walked through the Peace Garden which was looking a bit sorry for itself with long grass, weeds and overgrown bushes. Such a shame that the council doesn’t do more to keep these places tidy. Yes, I know they are strapped for cash, but it isn’t until you work for a council that you see the money that’s wasted every year. I guarantee there are ways the council could redirect some of that wasted money to make these places look better. However, in doing that, they’d be admitting that the money was wasted in the first place, so it’s never going to happen.

We left Drumpellier to the mums, dads, grans and grandpas, plus the weans, of course and headed for Morrisons at The Fort. Just messages today. No time for essentials like gin or whisky, so no fun either. From there it was back home.

After lunch I spoke to Fred on the phone for about an hour and heard his news.

Up until then it had been a fairly pleasant day although the clouds were gathering now. I was just putting my jacket on to go for a walk in St Mo’s when the rain started and it was heavy rain. The shower lasted about half an hour before it dwindled away to just the occasional spits and spots. I took that as a sign that I’d get a second walk of the day. I was walking over to St Mo’s when I saw a woman waking her dog on the footpath through the trees. Once I’d retrieved the Wee Dog from my rucksack and focused I had a chance to get three decent shots. In one of them the woman was standing in a patch of sunlight. That became PoD. A bit of ‘shopping’ to get it from the raw image to the one you see here.

Some recipes are fickle. You make one mistake and the whole thing turns to a tasteless mush, or a bitter inedible mess. Carrot and Lentil Curry isn’t like that. I used the wrong seeds. Should have been fennel and I used cumin. I used double the amount of lentils. I missed out the garlic that should have gone in. I even allowed it to burn dry. However, it turned out really alright! In fact it tasted better than alright and that wasn’t just my description, Scamp agreed. That’s a good standby recipe, one you can work with.

Quick dance practise tonight because I really need to concentrate a lot more on steps and frame and a hundred and one other things. Tina Tango was looking better after some help from dance maestro Scamp.

Tomorrow a funeral in the morning and then the rest of the day will, hopefully, be our own.

Chicken Burger and Cheese Burger – 14 July 2021

Chicken Burger (No barbecue sauce). Cheese Burger (No mayo). Foodies are fastidious.

Today we drove to The Fort to spend one of our M&S vouchers on ourselves. Sometimes it’s nice to spend money you don’t really feel you’ve earned on something. Today it was mainly alcohol. For some reason you can’t spend Tesco vouchers on alcohol, petrol or tobacco products. I fail to see the common factor there, but I presume Tesco see the hidden logic.

After our splurge, we went for a walk around this emporium of retail therapy. I went to Waterstones and found a few interesting books I might try on Audible or Kindle. Probably Audible because I’ve just finished my last book and my next credit has just appeared, also because I’ve got an interesting ‘Real’ book that I can read and it’s got illustrations which obviously you don’t get with Audible. Scamp knew she’d find me browsing in Waterstones, so after she dragged me away from the books we went for lunch.

We walked over to Ben & Jerry’s. Not really B&J, but that’s what we always call it. It’s really Frankie & Benny’s. It used to be our go-to place for breakfast when we were flying off to go on a cruise or to have a late deal week in the sun. In the days before quarantine, face masks and Covid. Now it’s just a fairly cheap place for lunch. The burgers are usually good and the chips are such a temptation! Today’s choice, as you can see from the title was Chicken Burger for Scamp and Cheese Burger for me with the usual alterations. Both were delicious, but the overpriced lemonade was stale tasting. Nothing is perfect.
Stopped off at The Shops on the way home to get pineapple in M&S plus a bottle of gin and four pineapple cakes in Aldi.

I took the Dewdrop out for its second run this year and went to my usual quiet place alongside the railway. Today’s PoD came from there. Originally there were the overhead wires cutting right across the sky in the photo, but about an hour’s work put paid to them and left a much better picture. While I was walking around looking for more photos I felt wee nip on my front and brushed away what I think must have been a cleg. It had bit me right through my tee shirt. I couldn’t see a hole, so it must have been using a syringe to draw off some blood. Another nip on my shoulder a few minutes later meant that it was time to get back on the bike before my tee shirt was ruined. Luckily I had some Piriton tablets and an old tube of Anthisan cream in my saddle bag. They got to work immediately and got the swelling down. No mark to be seen now.
Took another few shots on the way home, but the Beech trees were the clear winner of PoD.

It was a lot cooler but the time I got home and the sky had clouded over quite a lot. It’s supposed to reach 27º tomorrow. We’ll believe it when we see it.

Just another Friday – 9 July 2021

There wasn’t much to say about today.  The sky was Scottish white.  It was warm, too warm and we did nothing.

Some days are like that.  You keep waiting for things to get better, but mostly they just stay the same.  I was waiting for my coffee and tea to be delivered from the Bean Shop in Perth. Scamp went for a walk to the shops for tonight’s dinner and I stayed and waited for the text from the DPD man to say when the parcel would be delivered.  DPD usually text around 11am to say when it’s going to arrive.  If the text doesn’t come by then, it means it’s a later delivery.  When the text arrived it was to say that the parcel wouldn’t be delivered until later in the afternoon.  After lunch we did a quick round of the garden,  dead heading the flowers that had lost all their petals or had gone to seed.

After the parcel arrived I went for a walk.  That’s when I found the tree growing through the fence of St Mo’s school. I’ve always meant to photograph it, just in case the council take it into their heads to cut it down.  Today was the day.  Not great lighting, but a record of the event was made.  I’d taken the old Sigma 10-20mm lens and the Zenit Helios 44 58mm.  An Old Glass day. Both lenses work in manual only now which is a different experience to the automation I’m used to.  The Sigma took the shot of the tree.  Unfortunately that was about the only decent shot I got.

Dinner was an M&S curry each because it is Friday and nearly the weekend, if such a thing exists any more.

Hopefully tomorrow will be a better day, but that’s not what the weather fairies say.  They are predicting rain.  At least that will mean we don’t have to water the garden!

Up Hill and Down Dale – 22 June 2021

It was a beautiful morning and we were off early to Chatelherault in Hamilton.

I usually take one camera with two or three lenses. Today I took two cameras and two lenses. That meant I didn’t have to change lenses out in the wild, windy, dusty woods. It sounded like a good plan.

We started off going over the Duke’s Bridge, then turned left. Then … They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are one thousand words:

Actually the walk started at the chequered flag, but I forgot to start the OS app when we left the car and we walked the route anti-clockwise.  Oops.

After a gentle, but constant climb we reached the first of the Down Dale stage, immediately followed by an Up Hill part. That was the first of many, but generally it was just a walk. We found some newts in a pond. I couldn’t see if they were of the Great Crested variety, but they were definitely newts. Found some damselflies there too. Found a mountain bike partly disassembled and lying in the trees just off the path. Thrown there in disgust it appeared. After an hour or so of walking we started the descent to the Avon Water and the Green Bridge. As I’m sure I’ve said before, the Green Bridge is not green. It’s just that silvery grey of weathered wood. The original bridge on that spot was made of steel and it was painted green. It was one of my mum’s favourite places to take us in the summer holidays, with a bag full of pieces and a vacuum flask of tea. Great days.

We stopped at the bridge to rest a while then crossed it knowing that this was the halfway point and one of the biggest ‘Up Hills’ was ahead of us. After walking on an elevated path through the trees, usually between two pools of water which today were bone dry, the path turned and started climbing in a series of awkwardly long steps. Up and up and up until we found the seat at the top, thankfully, vacant. Scamp had come prepared for this with a plastic tub of apple slices liberally doused with lemon juice. I had a bottle of water in my rucksack too. After we’d caught our breath, we vacated the seat to two ladies who had just finished the climb. They were as thankful as us for the rest.

I found the walk from the top of the steps to the Visitor Centre a bit boring compared with the outward leg, but Scamp wasn’t concerned. I usually hate golf courses, but I was glad to see one appearing on our right side, because that meant we were nearly at the Visitor Centre. When we got there, we had a coffee with an apple pie for Scamp and a scone for me. After that it was a case of changing boots for something more comfortable and driving home.

Back home we stopped off at M&S for beef burgers for me and some fruit for both of us. Back at the house we sat in the sun in the garden with a beer and a Pimms. I’ll let you guess who got what. Dinner was the remaining Trout fillet for Scamp and an M&S burger for me. Later we watched Bakeoff the Professionals while most of Scotland watched the Scotland team be ousted from the Euros.

PoD turned out to be landscape view through the trees to another group of trees on the horizon.

Tomorrow the weather looks a bit wet for a change and we’re looking for something less strenuous to fill our day.

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.

Off on our travels again – 19 May 2021

Another beautiful morning. Scamp suggested we do the ascent of Barr Hill or drive to Dunfermline for lunch. I thought if we went to Dunfermline I might get a chance to play with try out my 6 stop ND filter at Torryburn on the way home. That seemed to meet with her approval, so I bundled two cameras in the car (the tripod was already there) and off we went.

Parked at Pittencrieff Park and with the Oly in its old brown bag slung over my shoulder and the tripod left to look after the Sony in the car, we walked over the park. Trees were beautiful carrying a full head of blossom. We walked down past the big glasshouse which was locked as expected due to Covid restrictions and round the formal garden which looked well maintained although hardly any of the flowers were blooming. Just too early in the year for that. Lots of primary kids on activities week running races and having shouting matches in the big empty spaces of the park. Two folk were doing a meditation under a bit tree. I don’t know what kind of tree it was, we weren’t close enough to do an ID, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a Bo tree!

We walked over to the aviary and found one shy peacock that would strut along the outside of the fenced enclosure, take a look at us and hurry back. It did this three or four times. All the peacocks and peahens had names and identity rings on their legs. Two old guys were discussing them as if they were family members or friends they met at the pub. Today’s PoD came from there and was just a lucky shot, catching the bird with that “What you think you’re looking at?” look on its face. We said goodbye to the peacocks and the peahens and headed into town. We went in to Nero and I had the best coffee I’ve tasted (except my own) for about a year or more. After the first wave of the pandemic, Nero started selling coffee in takeaway cardboard cups and seemed determined to fill the cups to the brim, diluting the coffee so much it was undrinkable. Today’s coffee, while not up to my or JIC’s standards was certainly a much more palatable drink than those watery waste of taste cups from last year. Even better, the coffees were served in real cups. Surely a sign that things are returning to normal.

We both wanted to get a cheap Hoodie, just to keep in the car for emergencies. Right next door to Nero was Primark. Less than £20 for two hoodies seemed like a bargain. They’re not top quality, but they will serve the purpose they were bought for. We walked back to the car, not stopping to count the boarded up shops that won’t open again for some time. Some shops that have been in the town for years have now disappeared. That’s sad. Dunfermline was a bit of a ghost town before Covid hit, but not even the ghosts have gone, it seems. Maybe it will rise from the ashes, but it might take some time.

Drove back via Torryburn where I was hoping for high tide, some heavy clouds and a bit wave movement. Unfortunately, the tide was right out, the sun was shining and you couldn’t even see any waves. We didn’t even get out of the car, we just drove home.

Stopped at Tesco to get yet another birthday card (count back 9 months from mid May and that might give a clue to the reason for those births 😉). Scamp got herself a pair of leisure trousers.

Scamp had bought me a tray of Calabrese yesterday, so when we got back I planted a row of them in the raised bed and watered them in. I don’t really think they will need watered, because we’re due some heavy rain tomorrow. I also completed today’s prompt which is “The View From Your Window” That was tough. I’m not totally happy with the result, but it’s finished and it’s uploaded now, so I’ve completed today’s challenge.

Tomorrow, because of the weather forecast, I think we might go for a drive if we’re going out at all. I don’t think a walk will be on the cards.

Walking in the woods – 24 April 2021

The woodlands of Coatbridge. Not the first thing that springs to mind when I think of Coatbridge.

Coatbridge used to be a centre for heavy industry with a dirty old dilapidated canal running through it. Now it’s cleaned itself up quite a lot and most of that dirty old canal has been drained or filled in and where that failed, it’s been gentrified. We used to restrict ourselves to a wet walk around the pond whose name is really Lochend Loch. The path was really a conveyer belt with people in both directions, keeping left and stubbornly completing their exercise for the day. It was only recently we discovered the paths into and around the woodland that covers the majority of the park. The forests are a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees and the paths are wide and winding. Some gentle climbs and some slightly more demanding. All easy walking, really. It’s difficult to get lost with the park being bounded by a railway line, a road and the pond, oops Loch. Wandered round today and chose a new path we hadn’t travelled on before and found a cricket ground. A cricket ground in Coatbridge! Who knew? The walk finished with an ice cream cone which seems to be becoming the icon of this spring’s warm days.

Back home I fashioned the remains of yesterday’s pizza into another shared pizza. It wasn’t quite as memorable as yesterday’s, but it filled a wee space. After that and after a cup of coffee, Scamp seemed determined to tidy things up an I got my shorts and boots on and went for a walk in the woods of St Mo’s. I’d tried a few shots of blossom and horse chestnut flowers in Drumpellier, but I reckoned there was better to be found in St Mo’s. Actually it was the blossom from Coatbridge that got PoD and a little mini tree got second place. None of the chestnut tree pictures got a sniff at the place on Flickr. Maybe once the candelabra flowers open up they will get their place in the sun and on Flickr.

Dinner tonight was a disappointing curry from Bombay Dreams. Pakora was only just warm and my Chicken Tikka Bhoona had too much ghee and too little flavour. Scamp’s seemed to be a bit better. Not their best offering.

Tomorrow may be the last of the warm spring days and we might go for another walk somewhere interesting and not too far away.