Boots – 23 May 2022

Today we climbed Quiraing. Not mountain climbed it, in the car, of course! Are you mad!

We drove up to see then fantastic new car park and it really was a totally different place from the one we used to know. No big boulders poking out of the hard packed earth. No mad foreigners (that includes english) parking anywhere they felt like it, which sometimes meant actually on the road. No, there is now a purpose built car park with plenty of room for everyone from normal folk to those who drive camper vans. There is a down side, of course. It’s no longer free. That didn’t seem to bother the folk who were filling up all those spaces. We didn’t stop. I’ve photographed the view from the top of Quiraing more times than I care to remember and it in all sorts of weather. No, today we were just being nosey!

We drove on to Uig and stopped at a viewpoint at the top. Just hard packed earth, but free. The whole of Uig bay was laid out below us. I took a few shots that I’d later merge into a panorama or two, then we faced the drop down into Uig proper and the tortuous hairpin in the middle of the drive. Came through unscathed and continued on to Portree. There’s nothing much to see in Uig apart from the ferry terminal to Lewis, or is it Harris? I can never remember.

We were heading to Elgol and its strange eroded rock face at the north end of what is laughingly called a beach. It’s really just a jumble of boulders from ones the size of your fist to massive ones the size of a small car. On a good day there are great views of the Cuillins. But not today. The weather was fine, in fact it was nearly perfect with white clouds in a blue sky, but unfortunately, just before we reached Sligachan, I discovered I’d not brought my walking boots. The thought of climbing over those boulders in my shoes didn’t inspire me, so we stopped and I took a few shots of the Cuillins from the almost diametrically opposite direction. Mountins continuously being covered and uncovered with cloud and with rain showers washing across them. It wasn’t Elgol, but it would do. We turned and drove back to Portree, bought some expensive petrol (£1.71 per litre) and went to Jans Vans for lunch, a hard brush for Scamp and a chilli plant for me.

From there we drove up to Staffin and went down to the beach with its grey/black sand. That’s where today’s PoD came from. It’s a time exposure looking towards Flodigarry, using a 10 stop ND filter. I just knew you wanted to know that Jamie. Scamp hung around for a while, but then went back to sit in the car.

With a few shots in the bag and one I was sure would be PoD, I drove back to the house and we got ready for tonight’s family meal in Columba. There were eight of us being fed on Chicken or Pork or Veggie Haggis with potatoes and broccoli as side dishes. Lots of talk at the table and Scamp was interrogating Allan about the correct way to cook Jackfruit. I was impressed how much information he passed on, explaining the good and bad points of this strange vegetable that we’ve only recently discovered. A good night, even if Mairi wasn’t feeling like joining us.

We drove back to the house because June and Ian had some more preparations before they leave for home tomorrow.

It was a well filled day. Tomorrow we’re hoping to get to Elgol with boots!

Washout – 20 May 2022

We’d gone out with the intention of driving down to Elgol. That didn’t happen.

We did drive down to the Co-op in Portree for something for tonight’s dinner for us, a couple of litres of milk and a bottle of gin for June. Then we took the road south although it was raining and kept going south into the teeth of a gale and driving rain until I pulled in at a parking place. The place where we’d stopped to photograph the waterfall on Wednesday. There we turned around and drove back to Jan’s Vans for lunch. It was pointless to drive on to Elgol in such weather. Sure, we might have arrived there to wall to wall sunshine. That’s quite possible on Skye. It’s also possible that there would be nowhere to park and the clouds would still be dumping rain on us. No, this was the sensible solution.

After lunch we drove back up the East road to the house. Shared out the messages with June and Ian and had a coffee in our own half of the house. All the while it was raining. But after an hour or so it began to tail off and I thought I might just get out for some photos. That happened when the sun did shine and the clouds did lift.

I drove down to Staffin shore, the beach with lovely light coloured sand. Unfortunately, today you could hardly see the sand, there were so many folk down there. Walking groups, family groups, people with dugs and just ‘folk’. Of course, they ubiquitous Camper Vans were there in their dozens too. Big bloody white boxes with a wheel at each corner. I gave up and drove down to the Slip where there were only two cars and a Manitou digger, forklift, jack of all trades. It looks brand new, so can’t belong to anyone on Skye. I got a few photos, but nothing spectacular. And, of course then the Camper Vans started arriving, so I left.

I drove up past the house, up to Loch Langaig near Flodigarry. It’s a big loch set among a horseshoe of hills. Lovely wee clean burn runs out of it and that’s what I was intending to photograph. I managed a few shots that I quite liked and decided to change lenses. When you’re in the hills, you should keep and eye on the clouds. The direction they’re coming from and how fast they’re moving. If I’d done that I might have noticed they were breaking over the hill tops and I might have got back to the car without getting soaked. I didn’t notice. I did get soaked.

But, I did get the photo. A low level view of the burn running off the loch and that became PoD. Best photographing day I’ve had since we arrived.

It’s unlikely I’ll have very much time for photography tomorrow. Lots of dressing up to do and lots of running around like a headless chicken. Isn’t that what weddings are all about?

Posted today – 24 April 2022

Hopefully this blog will be posted the same day it was written. That will make it the first since April 13th. Here goes!

I spent most of the morning and some the afternoon writing the last few blog posts, posting them and also posting photos on Flickr. I always start off with good intentions on days when we’re on holiday, but I never quite manage to stick to those intentions. After all, I’m on holiday and blog writing, which can sometimes be good fun to do, can also be a terrible drag. Anyway, the backlog is gone for now.

After lunch we went for a walk round Broadwood stadium, the long way round. Over to the boardwalk and over that wibbly, wobbly way to dry land. Who in their right mind makes a boardwalk from plastic. Halfway along the boardwalk it feels like it’s ready to tip you into the loch it crosses. Typical NLC cost cutting. Some day it’s just going to collapse and then an investigation will begin and ‘Lessons will be learned’. After that they will replace it with another cheapo plastic boardwalk until the same thing happens again.
Well, we survived the boardwalk today, but it’s in a far worse state than it was in the last time we crossed it. We walked on over the dam then up past the exercise machines stopping on the dam to take a photo of a herring gull at the outfall from the loch. I never knew there were herrings in Broadwood Loch. We also got a good laugh at a Crested Grebe with its bad hair do. Unfortunately, the Sony 55-210mm lens wasn’t in a focusing mood today, so I don’t have a record of it.

We were sorted for dinner, so didn’t need to stop at the shops on the way home and I reckoned I had at least one decent shot from the birdwatching at the dam, so I didn’t need a walk over to St Mo’s.

Scamp watered the back garden using a watering can. I preferred to use the hose and watered the front garden. It will be so much easier if we get an outside tap fitted, but the tap adaptor worked for today. Also, as Carlyn, next door had watered our plants while we were away down south, I watered her’s today.

Dinner was steak for me and salmon for Scamp with a side of salad in the style of Simonne, but really nothing like as good as hers. I must practise that culinary skill.

Spoke to Jamie and heard about his plans for the coming week, jetting off to the US again to cause more mayhem by pouring oil on troubled waters. Good luck with pleasing all of the people all of the time, Jamie.

PoD was the herring-less gull.

Tomorrow I may plant my sort-of cow parsley, some in pots and some in the ground. I also need to get my hair cut soon as May is approaching fast. At least my kilt fits, I tried it on yesterday.

Off to Falkirk – 13 April 2022

Doing patient transfer.

This afternoon we were taking Shona to Forth Valley Hospital for a checkup on the broken bone in her arm.

Once we dropped Shona off at the hospital we went for a coffee at Torwood Garden Centre. I’d taken the little Sony A6000 with its pop-up kit lens mainly because it fitted neatly in my jacket pocket. Got out of the car in the car park and saw the pastoral scene that made PoD. The fact that it was the only picture of the day is a coincidence.

We had a look round the flowers and shrubs in the garden centre and Scamp had her eye on some Violas or Pansies to fill the trough that hangs on the fence at home, but first we went for tea and a cake.

I didn’t feel right. I couldn’t put my finger on it at first, but eventually I decided it felt like a UTI. I’d had one before about four years ago and as the saying goes, “Once you’ve had it, you won’t forget it.” After several visits to the toilets, I was certain that was the problem. I imagined a cup of tea or maybe two would help the situation and for once I was bang on right. We’d just finish our tea when Shona phoned to say she was ready to go home. Scamp got the pansies and I managed to drop them on the way to the till. Not my fault this time, the handle of the tray had broken and like a piece ’n’ jam, they fell face down. Scamp went and chose another tray, we paid and left before anything else could happen.

Picked Shona up and drove home. After drinking about a litre of water I felt a lot better. Dinner tonight was new Jersey Royal potatoes with bacon and a burger for me and with an omelette for Scamp. You really can’t beat the taste of new potatoes.

A lot of organising was going on tonight, but I think we’re both happy with the result now.

Tomorrow will be a long day, so probably an early bed would help.

Strathaven – 29 March 2022

We went to Larky, but Millheugh was shut, locked and bolted.

Scamp was out in the morning to meet Shona for coffee and I was feeling a bit down. The sun had forgotten to get up today and it was grey skies all around. Then I told myself to get up off my backside, put my old boots on and get out into the garden and start by chopping down the kale.

The kale is past its best now and is beginning to shoot. It really needs to be cropped, chopped and frozen if we aren’t to lose it. That was the easy bit. The little leeks were next to go from the raised bed. For some reason they just never took off like they should have done. Maybe they weren’t fed enough, or the compost was exhausted, but it seemed to feed the kale without any problem. Whatever the reason, they were coming out today and going into the soup later. That almost cleared out the bed, but there was a little bunch of aqilegia that I’d sheughed in (dug a hole and shoved it in to be reclaimed later) last year some time. I dug it out, split it into two plants and repotted it.

I spread some of Scamp’s cure-all fertiliser, Fish, Blood and Bone over the bed and started to fork it in. That’s when I discovered that at least one edge board of the raised bet has rotted right through. It will have to be replaced, but I don’t think the rot has stopped there.

It was round about then, Scamp returned with a bag of rolls for lunch. Bacon roll for lunch for me. Roll ’n’ Cheese for Scamp. After lunch we got ready and drove to Larky to donate Scamp’s now redundant reading glasses to the opticians to go to folk who need them. I went to B&M to get some superglue to fix my old Flying Tiger specs. Then we drove down to Millheugh where the big grassy bank beside the Avon Water has been barricaded because of unexplained dangers I get the impression they barricades and signs aren’t all that official. No explanations why you can’t fish there either. That’s Larky for you. It’s a different world, beyond the law.

Since Millheugh was closed and the weather was improving, I thought we might drive to Stonehouse. Got there, but there wasn’t anything interesting to photograph, so we travelled on to Strathaven. Parked in the bit car park on the Park and went for a walk through what used to be a great park, and actually, it’s looking quite good again. Some work being done on sprucing up the flower beds. A brilliant mural on the gable end of the toilets. Obviously aimed at children with bright colours and things to find in the painting. I may post it on Flickr.

I was photographing the trees growing beside the Powmillon Burn when a man, about my age commented on the blossom on a fruit tree we’d just passed. He gave me directions to a place to photograph behind Strathaven Castle. We couldn’t go today, but I said I’d go back on a day with better lighting, and I meant it. Then the strangest thing happened, he told us that he’d been diagnosed with dementia. It’s one of those times when you don’t know what to reply. He said he had had the test but was quite dismissive about it. Neither of us thought he really believed it was true. I was right about his age. He was a year older than me. Also, he went to Larkhall Academy. In those days, children who went to Strathaven Academy would leave school after third year. Only a few came to Larkhall for fourth to sixth year. I would almost certainly have been there when he came to the Academy.

We drove home by a twisted, circuitous route that brought us back via Millheugh, then it was a straight road through Larky to the motorway and home. I made soup as I’d intended with the leeks and some kale with carrots, turnip and some lentils. It was really good. I was impressed, even if it was 7pm before we got to eat it with a roll each.

PoD was a shot of East Church House, now a hotel beside the Powmillon Burn.

Tomorrow we have no plans.

One out, one in – 15 March 2022

DPD were working overtime today.

My Sony A7ii was being collected this morning to go to MPB in Brighton. Later in the day I was expecting a box of coffee and tea from The Bean Shop in Perth. One out, one in.

The DPD man came to collect my camera right on time and off it went with a sticker on it that had the same number as the sticker that’s fixed with a magnet to the fridge door. One down. Not long after I got the message to say that my driver would deliver my parcel just after midday. Sure enough, the bloke knocked the door and photographed me lifting the parcel from the mat. I will drink tea and coffee today!

That left the rest of the day free. It’s a while since we’ve been out for a walk together. Scamp sometimes walks down to the shops herself and I often walk round St Mo’s myself. I suggested to her that maybe we should both go out together today. Just a walk round Broadwood Loch. She agreed and we walked down towards the loch, but she wasn’t interested in doing the round trip, so we chose the shorter version, over the plastic boardwalk and down round the new water management drainage ditch (first time we’ve been round that) and then round the exercise machines before stopping at the shops for oranges and milk. I did think of going for a circuit of St Mo’s pond, but decided just to go home as I’d a few shots that looked interesting.

Dinner tonight was Creamy Chicken, Mushrooms and Rice. Another Scamp favourite. She thought it needed salt and pepper. I agreed on the salt. It was actually fine without it, but the salt just gave it a bit more taste.

Heard the news from Nick the Chick that we have to wear face masks in shops and on public transport until the beginning of April. A bit disappointing, but that’s just the way her head works. Belts & Braces are her style and you have to believe she’s doing it for the good of our health, rather than to look good to the great unwashed as some other politicians do.

We had a quick practise at the new waltz and I think I can tentatively say that I can complete the first section without too many mistakes. I’m not sure I’ll be able to say that again tomorrow, but maybe the dancing gods will look down and smile at my attempts.

PoD turned out to be a shot I took with the A6000 from the boardwalk. Actually, it’s gone through a fair number of changes since it landed on Lightroom this afternoon. A lot of changes, but for the better.

It’s my turn to go for coffee tomorrow. Meeting John and Val at Costa in the morning. The rest of the day is our own.


Dancing’ – 10 March 2022

Today we were back dancing in Paisley.

I expected them to, at least, have some bunting out and maybe even some Scottish flags to celebrate the return of Sheila. What did we get? We got told off for “just waltzing in at any time”. Admittedly it was said tongue in cheek, but where were the balloons and streamers?

In the morning we spoke to Hazy for a while and found out how painful it is to to have a pain reducing patch ripped off, removing some skin in the process. Apparently Neil will be able to walk again once he’s out of traction.

After speaking to Hazy, I reckoned I had enough time to go on a frog hunt in St Mo’s. It is usually about the first or second week in March they arrive for a few all night parties with a bit of hanky panky, leaving great rafts of spawn clogging up the shallows of the ponds. Today was one of those days, and the frogs and a few toads too were congregating happily splashing through the water and playing leapfrog, at least that’s what it looked like. I got a few photos of the celebrations, some of which will be posted on Frog Porn later tonight. One particularly smug looking individual made it to PoD.

I’d just enough time after getting the photos to get home for a quick bite to eat before we were off to Paisley to the first Tea Dance in ages. It was a fairly reduced affair with a lot of the regulars having called off due to a resurgence of Covid. That left a bit more room for us to stagger around making more mistakes than we were getting right. I think a lot more practise needs to be done before the next one. Having said that, we did get up for almost every dance we knew how to do and even some of the old hands were having difficulty getting their old feet to find the proper steps in the correct order. Next time we’ll be better.

We left early, and again found that the traffic was much lighter with that 30minute difference. Of course everything snarled as we neared the Kingston Bridge, but that’s just inevitable. It would have been much worse if we had waited until the end of the dance.

No plans really for tomorrow apart from, perhaps, a visit to Larky later.


Wild Swimming – 21 February 2022

Not us! Oh no, not us!

I filled the flask while Scamp sorted the tea and coffee things and grabbed a couple of biscuits and some crisps, then with a quick stop for petrol we were off to the highlands.

Yesterday Scamp had suggested that if today was as good as the weather fairies said it would be, we could maybe drive to Loch Lubnaig in the Trossachs for cup of coffee by the lochside. I thought it was a grand idea and as the day looked as promising as predicted we drove out past Stirling and through Callander then out to Kilmahog and that’s where it got a bit worrying. The water coming down the River Leny was very high, almost bursting its banks in places. The Falls of Leny which are usually a picturesque series of rapids were a roaring torrent that took up the entire width of the river. As the Leny flows out of Loch Lubnaig, I was beginning to wonder if the car park would be flooded.

When we got there the water was indeed high, but not as high as it might have been, There is usually a beach a about three metres wide before you reach the water, but not today. The water was coursing around the trees that grow two metres from the beach. Yes, the water was high. However, the wee coffee stall was open and the smell of frying bacon was enticing. We had a roll each, Scamp’s was egg, mine was bacon, with a cup of drinkable coffee. I’m not sure if it was instant or filter, but it was strong enough for me and tasted like coffee should.

I did manage to get a few photos, but I think I’ve been to Lubnaig so often that I think I’ve seen it all, however the high water gave a few more opportunities and the one I liked the best was the almost submerged picnic tables. I think diners would be advised to bring waders! That became PoD.

Another sight we saw was a couple, the man with a full wet suit and the woman with wet suit leggings and what looked like a neoprene bra, walking gingerly into the loch. I’d been wearing a pair of jeans, teeshirt, warm shirt, jersey and a lined Bergy jacket when I was taking photos and when I was standing around for about a minute, waiting for a time exposure to complete, I was beginning to feel the cold. I dread to think how that woman felt.

They eventually had had enough of the wild swimming. Yes they did some swimming, but going too far would have been dangerous today with a fair swell in the loch and a fast current too. I think we both relaxed a bit when they got out and wrapped themselves in heavy towel. I’m told that wild swimming in winter is good for you, but I’ll take their word for it, rather than try it myself.

We came back via the Duke’s Pass over the hills to Aberfoyle and from there to Doune and up to get some more shots from the David Stirling memorial. The view from there is quite phenomenal on a good day and it was a good day today. Photo also on Flickr. From there it was just the motorway home.

Today’s prompt was Edelweiss. I do believe I saw one once. Many more moons ago than I’d care to put a number on, when I was in primary school, in fact, the teacher brought one in for us to see. I don’t know where she got it from, because I don’t remember any growing wild in the central belt of Scotland. Dandelions and Daisies, yes, but not Edelweiss. I remember thinking it wasn’t the prettiest flower I’d ever seen. That being the case, I found this one tough to draw and paint, but that’s what this challenge is all about, isn’t it? It’s being forced to work outside your comfort zone. With that in mind, this one’s now complete and we move on to the next challenge, the next prompt!

Scamp has a telephone consultation booked with one of the docs from the Cumbernauld practice in the morning tomorrow to review her meds. The rest of the day is our own and the weather looks reasonable at present.

A quieter day – 31 January 2022

Last night was a blustery one. Didn’t know if it was wind or thunder, but it was loud.

Woke to a calm clear sort of day. Sun was shining when we got up and it stayed with us all day. Scamp was out with her sister for coffee in the morning and I was scouring the InterWeb for somewhere, anywhere that had interlinked fire alarms. Many were advertising them, but few had them in stock. I almost had two places on my shortlist One place at least gave a delivery date of 21st March, but wanted your money now. I think not. Sounds like their financial status is questionable. The other one had a good Trustpilot score, but seemed too good to be true. Even Amazon seemed to be hard put to supply any time soon. What government imposes a law on folk that they must abide by, then turns round and says it won’t be enforced. Really? Do they really think we believe them.

Scamp’s return put an end to my investigations for today. However, I’d also made some practical use of my time and made a Sage and Olive loaf from one of my Baked In kits. It was a heavy looking dough, but it started rising quite well. After lunch I grabbed my camera and went to make the most of the fading sunshine in St Mo’s. That’s where the PoD came from. It’s proof that we had sunshine today, producing some shadows on the ground and with the boardwalk shining nicely too.

I got a few more, and almost got a nice little family group of Mallards to be the foreground interest, except I tramped on too many fallen branches getting to the water’s edge and they flew off in fright. I still took the photo, but the one in my head will maybe make it to Flickr another day. It was a really calm looking pond today. Hardly a ripple after yesterday’s hurricane force winds.

The bread turned out fine and is still to be cut. Dinner was tortellini. Not the best I’ve ever tasted, but it filled a space as we often say. I think the trouble with us both is that we are filling too much and not leaving enough spaces!

Boris apologised today for being bad after the long awaited Sue Gray report was published. He thinks that’s him off the hook. I don’t think he realises just how deep that hook is in, nor does he realise that most hooks have barbs to stop them coming out again.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to meet Alex in Glasgow in the morning. Later, Scamp is off to have coffee with Isobel and I’ll get pelters for missing her again. The last time I was supposed to meet Isobel, I stayed in instead to play with a new camera. This time my excuse is photography again! Weather looks cold again tomorrow.


Oh Burger! – 9 January 2022

It was a day for getting your hands dirty.

I’d bought 500g of steak mince on Friday and had already made a mince pie with half of it. The other half was destined to languish in the freezer until it was old and grey, or be made into burgers today. That rhymed, but it was an accident! Better a burger than an old grey mince ball.

I put the mince into a bowl, and since it was fresh meat, I thought it deserved fresh herbs, so I ventured into the swamp that is the back garden and cut and chopped some Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. If I’d thought about it I’d have added some Parsley for obvious reasons. Added an egg to bind it (that could be a canticle line, couldn’t it) and some salt and pepper. Then it was time to get my hands dirty and massage the whole thing into a not too sticky ball that was cut into two then the balls were flattened to make rough burger shapes. One did go in the freezer, but it won’t last long in there, the other went into the fridge to chill.

Lunch time beckoned and it was an omelette for me and a slice of black pudding with some fried potatoes on the side. Was I really going to have room for dinner tonight, I asked myself? Yes, of course I would, just as long as I didn’t eat all of the omelette. For once I took my own advice. We watched and criticised the new Sunday morning politics show that’s being fronted by Sophie Raworth. Too many interruptions said Scamp.

I was just finishing off an epistle to Alex when I looked out the back window and saw a rainbow spread across the sky where there had only been grey clouds when I had started. Even better, there was sunshine too. Closed the laptop, (sorry Alex) and put on my boots and jacket and lugged a Sony A7 across to St Mo’s. Found some swans swimming in a vague line along the side of the pond and thought that might be PoD. Then I took the camera up to the small pond which was covered in ice and the ice was covered in water. I took a £1000+ camera and lens. Placed them gingerly on the wet ice of a pond. Gently pressed the shutter button. Didn’t breathe, but with my heart in my mouth whipped the camera away before the ice changed its mind. One look at the camera screen convinced me that I’d a PoD.

Walked home where I finished the email to Alex and gave him the first look at the PoD. Then it was time to cook the burger. Almost 15 minutes, 7min and a bit on each side then a resting time of about 10min while we had thin Sourdough toast and paté as a starter. Scamp had Roasted Cauliflower with Roasted Baby Tomatoes and I had a Handmade Burger with potatoes. Pudding was a Christmas Pudding with Posh Madagascar Custard. Actually, the Christmas Pudding and Posh Custard was the winner for both of us.

We rested for a while after that and coffee, then spoke to Jamie and found out about Fences, Water Softeners and Gardiners.

Finally finished the Hidden Palace, Hazel. Beautifully written book. I think I now need to read book 1 again to remind myself how all this came to pass. I do hope there is a book 3.

Tomorrow we may go out for a spin. I need to put some expensive alcohol in the Blue Car’s tank. I think Vodka would be cheaper than petrol, these days. <Thinks, can you run a petrol car on vodka?>