Under the weather – 19 October 2021

Literally and actually.

Another wet day but I had a job to do today. I had to fix the broken lock on the bathroom window. Found what I needed at the B&Q website, but of course they didn’t have that cheap model in the store, only the dearer ones. I took one anyway after I’d checked that the screw holes in it lined up with the screw holes in the one I’d removed from the window yesterday. Drove back via Tesco for bread and a couple of bunches of carnations to brighten the kitchen and the downstairs toilet. Surprisingly the fitting of the new handle was simplicity itself after I’d confirmed that it could be used on the left side or the right side of the window, some can’t. Job done.

Lunch was a bowl of yesterday’s soup which was fairly tasty and warm. With a couple of slices of bread to dook in it, it was even better, but I wasn’t feeling too great. Aching shoulder from yesterday’s Covid booster jag and also that “coming down with a cold” feeling. Shivery and aching. That too could be from the jags, the flu jag this time. Scamp had a parcel to post to Skye, so that gave me an excuse to go for a walk with her to Condorrat. Came home via St Mo’s and I had a camera with me, so I took some photos although my heart wasn’t in it and it was raining. Best of a bad lot was a nettle that looked like I felt, washed out. That was PoD.

Scamp made dinner tonight which was chicken curry. Chicken Tikka Masala to be more exact. It was good and hot made from a Pataks kit. Another company jumping on the bandwagon that Spice Tailor started. I still think Spice Tailor is the best for range and taste although today’s offering would give them a run for their money. While Scamp was making the dinner, I was trying out my idea for today’s sketch. The prompt was ‘Loop’. Not the most interesting prompt, but it’s what I had to work with. I finally settled on a Mobius strip which is a loop with only one side. Its inside turns out to be its outside too. Just look at the sketch and you’ll get the idea. Follow the little cars and see where they go. It’s a fantasy Formula One race track called the Mobius Loop and yes, the cars do have to travel upside down. That’s what the magnetic tyres and the steel track are for! Following yesterdays lateral thinking again. I won’t say it’s my best sketch, but it’s different and it fulfils the prompt.

Took a couple of paracetamol after dinner and felt better. They’re beginning to wear off now, but I’ll take a couple more before I go to bed. I might even have a wee hot toddy too.

Hopefully meeting Alex tomorrow for a walk around the West End of Glasgow. That should be fun if I’m up to it and I think I will be.

Shopping, Jagging, Boosting – 18 October 2021

Don’t mistake Jagging for Jogging. Oh no, don’t do that!

We had to be up early today because the lady was coming with the swabs and the iPad that held the questions we have to answer on the Covid survey. She’s been before, in fact I think she was the first Ipsos MORI Market Researcher we met, more than a year ago. We both felt sorry for her having to stand outside in the rain asking all the questions and then trying to security seal the sample bags with sticky tape that wasn’t sticky any more in the rain.

With the survey done for another month, Scamp drove us to Tesco to get the messages. Mostly the usual sensible stuff that we use a lot and we managed to fill the Wee Red Car’s boot with bag after bag of useful sensible stuff. It was raining, of course, and showed no sign of letting up any time soon. When we were driving out of the estate I saw this car sitting under a tree with half the tree’s leaves covering it and decided that if it was still there when we came back I’d go out and photograph it. It was and I did. The photo didn’t need much post processing, it was just one of those ‘found things’ that make you smile. As I was finishing off removing the car’s number plate (on the computer) I noticed it was a Kia and thought wouldn’t it have been nice if it had been a Nissan Leaf!

With the photo done and posted fairly early in the afternoon, I started to make some soup. Today it would be Tomato and Red Pepper soup. I chopped and roasted the tomatoes and peppers then sweated the onion and garlic before adding everything to the pot, pouring in some stock and letting it bubble for half an hour or so. That gave me time to correspond a while with Alex about where and when we’d meet on Wednesday.

It was soon time to blitz the soup and make tonight’s dinner which was Pasta Carbonara and it was fairly good. It didn’t go with the soup, but neither of us paid that any mind.

I’d already agreed with our neighbour, Bobby, that I’d give him a lift to The Link in the town centre for our Covid booster, but when I went for him he said he’d drive because he has his own off-road parking place and parking in our parking area is at a premium after about 5pm. I accepted and then was driven in luxury in his big silver Mercedes. I’d already been warned by my pal, Fred, that there were long queues for the booster jag. He had a 45minute wait in the big converted games hall. He was lucky. We were just over an hour from start to finish, but we both walked away fully boosted and flu jag done at the same time. Ready to face the winter.

The rain was still beating down when we drove home. We rose at about 8am and it was raining. Bobby and I got back just after 8pm and it was still raining. We have had buckets out in the back garden to catch rainwater. They have been filled to the brim for about a week. The birdbath in the garden has been overflowing for weeks. Where is all the rain coming from, and more importantly, where is it all going?Tonight’s sketch is ‘Moon’. I thought about it long and hard and eventually came up with a rehash of last year’s Wolf. Added a crescent moon for the wolf to howl at and that’s what I’m posting here!

We have no plans for tomorrow, because more rain is predicted!

A thousand words for rain – 17 October 2021

Just as Inuits allegedly have thousands of words for snow. Scots have thousands of words for rain.

We saw a lot of those varieties today. Heavy rain, light rain, drizzle, smirk and everything in between. Just not a lot of dry spells. This left little opportunity for photography. As I said yesterday, there were lots of things to do in the house, just we didn’t want to do them.

Eventually, late in the afternoon I did manage to drag myself off to St Mo’s for a walk with a Sony. It rained all the time I was out. That same mix of heavy rain, light … well, you get the idea. I did get a few photos of the effect the rain had on the plants. Eventually I headed home with the prospect of at least a couple of shots.

Dinner tonight was Cod with Prawns and Fennel, a fairly standard weekend meal. Pudding was the last of Scamp’s lemon drizzle cake, served with custard.

PoD was a little glass-like ball of rainwater hanging from a weed in St Mo’s. Today’s sketch prompt was ‘Collide’. I puzzled about this for a long time, but just before I made the dinner I found I’d picked up a tiny, and I mean tiny tick on my walk round St Mo’s. Once I’d disposed of the tiny beastie, I got an idea for a sketch. It’s a little tick about to collide, or be collided by a cross pein hammer. I felt that was a fitting solution to the puzzle set by ‘Collide’.

Spoke to Jamie tonight and heard some good news on the house front. It looks like things are moving on at last.

Tomorrow looks no better than today as far as the weather is concerned, so maybe it WILL be time to start some of those inside jobs, but not until we have our monthly meeting with the lady who brings the throat and nose swabs and who asks those personal questions!

An afternoon at the seaside – 16 October 2021

Off to dancing class first.

I was a bit late off the mark this morning. Honest, it wasn’t a Freudian slip, it was just a touch of brain fade, but by cutting a few corners we did get on the road about ten minutes late. Just as we were driving past the Irn Bru factory we chanced to see some head case in a bright yellow car testing his vehicle’s 0-60 capabilities. Usually this is done of a perfectly straight and level piece of track, like a runway or something similar, not on a fairly busy ring road with a bend about 50m from his starting point. Also the greater than normal chance of HGVs crossing the road just past that bend. I pity the folk who will eventually have to scrape him off a lamp post. We drove sedately on.

Arrived with about five minutes to spare. Today we were tackling Tango and I was given a reminder of one of the finer points of the man’s part, the pull back on the leading foot after the first three forward steps < that’s my reminder to me. It doesn’t have to mean anything to you.> With that fixed we got a thumbs up! We must have spent almost an hour on the tango, I didn’t check. Next was a sequence dance that we’ve done many times, but which I still occasionally get wrong, the Mayfair Quickstep. We did the Bellisima Cha-Cha after that. I think we’re both fairly ok with it now. After that we went on to a real Quickstep. We haven’t done the quickstep with Stewart and Jane, but we did eventually get the first set of steps right. It will need some practise at home to hammer it into my head, but we should have it by next week. Another couple of sequence dances later and we were done. My little head was full.

We’d planned on going to Irvine if the weather was fairly decent after the class and although the little patches of sun that had appeared in the morning had disappeared to be replaced with milky white cloud, we did continue down through long convoluted road the sat nav picked for us and ended up at the seafront at Irvine. We parked near a little trailer selling New Mexican food. I had a beef taco and Scamp had a chicken one with a couple of coffees. The food was lovely. We both really did enjoy it. After that, it was coats on and a walk down to the pier. I took some photos of the bridge to nowhere. It’s a steel bridge with hand burned steel panels on the side depicting different inventors who originated from Scotland. It used to lead across the estuary to an island with a kind of Science Centre on it, partly buried in a man made hill. The bridge had a removable middle section to allow yachts to sail through, but now that removal has become permanent and the science centre has closed. Such a pity. Such short sightedness on the part of the councils. We saw a family walking a strange looking dog. I thought it was a Borzoi, but Mr Google says it could have been a Saluki. It was the shape of a greyhound with long hair and had a tail that looked like a fan. Strange looking beast.

I got PoD on the walk to the pier. It was a view of some folk walking out to the end of the pier with that grey sky above. Quite gloomy. We drove home by a different route, one that I knew and not the twisty turny routes the sat nav prefers. I must check the preferences on that device to see if I’ve set a flag for “Choose the most awkward route.”

Today’s sketch prompt was Compass. I drew my old Silva compass which is about fifty years old and although the clear perspex base is broken, the compass works perfectly. It’s little used now that Google Maps and OS maps online make instruments like this almost obsolete. However, it does not need batteries, nor does it lose its signal, so still useful as a backup.

When we were driving home the rain came on, gentle rain, that started off as a drizzle but was getting heavier all the time. Now, at just after 11.30pm it’s raining properly, and has been for a while.

Tomorrow we may go for a walk if it’s dry, and if it’s not, there are lots of things to do at home.

Curry then a walk – 15 October 2021

We did find that Indian restaurant in Hamilton.

The restaurant was the Bombay Cottage. Convenient parking just outside for the princely sum of £1.60 for three hours. As I’ve said before “Who would want to stay in Hamilton for three hours?” We had no intention of doing that. I had Chicken Rogan Josh which was very mild, too much oil/ghee and lacked salt. Scamp had Cauliflower Shimla Bhaji which was too salty. Two chefs with different tastes? Still the naan made up for the main courses. We left feeling that we’d been well fed.

We were entertained by a wedding group walking past the restaurant with their photographer in tow, heading for the car park of the Townhouse. Then they all trooped back again, walked through the main car park and out through another exit. By the time we were leaving the photographer was taking photos of the happy couple posing in front of a white minibus in the main car park, and everyone else crowded round him taking photos with their phones. I wish I hadn’t left my phone in the boot! What a photo that would have made! We drove slowly past the group with folk crossing in front of us like we weren’t there. Maybe there’s an unwritten law that states if you’re in a wedding group and get knocked down, it won’t hurt you. One woman nearly got the chance to try it out.

We drove in brilliant sunshine to Barons Haugh for a walk through the trees. Lighting was lovely and the path was interesting for a mile or so, then we turned a corner and the path went in to shadow and wasn’t nearly so interesting, so we turned back and although we were walking into the sun, the lighting made it so much more photographic. PoD was a photo of a yellow leaf that had found itself hooked onto the branch of a sapling.

Drove home with the sun still shining. What a difference a day makes. Headlights on when we left the house yesterday morning and brilliant sunshine and blue skies today. Tomorrow the weather begins to revert to Dull October again. However, for today the sun was still with us and I wanted to get more low sun pics in St Mo’s. I think I just missed the best of the light, but I still got a few decent shots.

Sketch for today was “Helmet” and I chose my bike helmet. Really demanding thing to draw with all the curves and cut aways. Also lots of air holes in it. I hadn’t realised just how many there were until I started it. I was beginning to think that a helmet is just an expensive bag of holes held together with some plastic. However it is essential when you’re on a bike.

Tomorrow is back to dance lessons, but with the possibility of a run to the coast if the weather permits.

Lights on – 14 October 2021

Today we were driving in to Gorbals for a tea dance.

If I’d said that thirty or forty years ago you’d have thought I was mad. Gorbals, then had a really bad reputation. Now it’s all high flats, bright colours and roads that seem to take you where you want to go, but don’t. Today Glasgow is a different city.

When we started the car, the headlights came on. It was about 12.20pm. That will give you an indication of how bright it was today! The sat nav took us into Gorbals by M74. Then by a series of zig zags we almost reached the destination. But for some reason it took us round in a circle before dropping us outside the Glasgow Club and we recognised the inelegant building immediately, but had arrived from a completely different direction from the last time we visited.

The Glasgow Club is a giant gym, pool, dance studio sort of place. We’d been there before, just before the first Lockdown, 12th March 2020 to be exact. There were a lot fewer couples this time. Only five of us in total including the couple who were running the dance and an Indian lady who was recovering from a knee operation and wanted to see if there was anything that would give her some gentle exercise. Scamp talked to her while we were waiting for the music to start. I don’t think she realised it was more of less couples only. She didn’t stay long, but I don’t think it was anything Scamp said 😉

As time went on another couple joined our ranks and a really thin lady we recognised from our previous visit in 2020 appeared too. We both remembered that she danced the followers steps, alone. I wouldn’t say the people were the most friendly group I’ve ever met and strangely enough that’s what I said eighteen months ago too! An older couple did speak to us after a while and the bloke who was running the show did too, in fact he was quite encouraging. Maybe he was hoping we’d return and eventually become regulars to help boost their numbers.

We danced the waltz part we already knew and added some walking steps. Scamp would whisper “Four Forward Steps” when she felt we needed the extra distance and to break up the repetition of the few waltz steps we knew. We tried quickstep, but it was beyond me, just a hint of the moves in my memory weren’t strong enough to build a dance on. Foxtrot was good, though, after a while. By the end of the two hours I was beginning to get the hang of it. Sequence dances interspersed the ballroom and latin and we even learned a new sequence routine Catherine Waltz which we learned on Zoom in the living room during Lockdown. I even danced a Cha-Cha line dance. I’m sure you’ve heard me say on many occasions that my least favourite dance is cha-cha and I don’t do line dances. Today I did. I drew the line at Saturday Night Fever, but of course, Scamp joined in.

The sat nav took us home by a completely different route. As far as we could remember, it was the same one the Juke took us back in 2020. Why does this sat nav have two different routes for the same start and destination? Only Smarties have the answer. And yes, the automatic headlights were on again.

Stopped at the shops for a bottle of wine and two pots of sticky toffee pudding, because we deserved them. Another tea dance (without any tea break) under our belt.

Today’s PoD is a wilting carnation, taken on the kitchen window sill. I do believe, for once, it was brighter when we got back to Cumbersheugh than it had been all day! Today’s prompt is “Tick”. I was determined not to draw any little black arachnids, so I chose the Nike ’Tick’ ( ✔︎ ). I sketched my old battered and much maligned Merrell Moab trainers and stuck an orange Nike ‘Tick’ on the side, rather than just draw the tick itself. I hate the ‘swoosh’ word. It’s not even a real word! I’m quite pleased with the result.

Tomorrow we may go looking for an Indian Restaurant we’ve visited in the past in Hamilton.

Walking round Broadwood – 12 October 2021

It was such a dull day with the ever-present threat of rain … again.

We were sitting doing nothing all morning when Scamp declared that she was going out for a walk. I was told I could join her if I wanted to, but if not she would go herself. I didn’t see it as a challenge, exactly, but decided I’d tag along for the walk. I’d been yawning most of the morning and needed the exercise. So did my A6000 and my TZ 90 that I’d recently hoovered out to get rid of most of the dust between the elements of the lens. This would be a good chance to see if it had worked.

Broadwood was Scamp’s choice of venue. It’s certainly not mine. It’s just a big manmade pond that had great potential as a watersports venue, but the council refused to fund it, so they left it as it was and by doing so, called it a wildlife area. It does have a path round around it and an extension of the path into the woods is at least slightly more interesting. However, we weren’t going into the woods today because after a few days of rain the paths get flooded and too muddy to walk through without wellies, or better still waders. Today we were just doing the circuit. I did manage to take a few photos, but not too many as the sun never really got its act together and the clouds broke, only to reform again in heavier clumps. PoD was a shot of a cormorant on what used to be called Swan Island, but which is now owned by the cormorants and mallards. It was taken by the TZ90 and seems to be proof that the clean up worked, at least on a dull day. The big test will be when the sun shines. Then the remaining dust spots will show themselves.

Back home and after lunch the rain that never came was still threatening, and since I had a potential PoD I started processing the photos I’d taken. I also did some research for today’s sketch which was “Stuck”. I’d already decided what it was to be, I just needed a picture to get the angle of the shoe correct. As usual, Google Images came up trumps. Finally I phoned Fred and arranged a meeting for coffee tomorrow morning. We should have been going to Margie’s in the afternoon tomorrow, but she has a trapped nerve in her leg and called off. I understand just how painful that can be now.

Steak and kidney for me for dinner with potatoes and cauliflower. Scamp substituted lentil based veggie mince for steak and kidney and both plates looked remarkably similar.

Tomorrow morning Scamp is booked at Tim Hortons for coffee with Jeanette and I’m hoping to meet Fred at Costa.

Down the Canal – 11 October 2021

Out fairly early since there was a fair amount of blue sky.

By the time we were actually on the road most of that blue was replaced by grey and an ominous amount of clouds rolling over from the Campsie Fells, but we got parked easily at the Hebo House and walked along the side of the Forth & Clyde canal in the general direction of Twechar. We met hardly anyone along the path. A few cyclists and that was about it. After my lucky spotting of a kingfisher last week with Alex, I was hoping we’d get lucky and see one today, but there were no sightings of that blue flash. We did see one of Mr Grey’s family on the far bank, but he was almost invisible among the reeds.

As we were about to cross the road and head back on the path of the old mineral railway we saw a man with twa dugs. As well as the dugs, he was trailing a long lead and I mean LONG. I’d estimate it to be about nine or ten metres long. He crossed the road and I had visions of the lead getting tangled in a car going in the opposite direction and he with the dogs being dragged along behind it. Unfortunately that never happened. I’m guessing it was a running lead to let the dogs get some exercise, but he really should have been more careful.

We spotted loads of fungi on the way back along the path and I took the opportunity to photograph a few. We also saw a ’workie’ in full workie gear sitting near one of the barriers keeping pedestrians away from the Never-ending Story that is the upgrade of the paths along that stretch. For once there were no notices telling the public (ie, us) what was happening now to these excavations, tree felling, tree planting and general works that seem to have been going on for about three years with little sign of completion any time soon. However we did see one of the mythical workies today. Rarer that a kingfisher.

I got PoD along the path. A pretty little pink flower of the genus Impatiens glandulifera or Himalayan Balsam. It’s a large annual plant native to the Himalayas but is now present across much of the the UK and is considered an invasive species in many areas. I don’t think it does nearly as much harm as the workies and their upgrades. Right, I think I’ve said enough on that subject.

We did manage to complete the walk without getting wet. In fact as soon as we closed the car doors, the first raindrops appeared on the windscreen. Drove home, had lunch and Scamp went out to work in the garden, repotting some flowers and planting new bulbs for next year. Meanwhile I cooked some steak and kidney, some of which will hopefully be my dinner tomorrow. The rest will go in the freezer to be a welcome dinner in the future.

Today’s sketch was to be Sour. I sketched a lemon from the fridge and faked a slice of lemon behind it. Splashed some watercolour on it and that will be another day completed in Inktober. Not the finest painting or sketch I’ve done, but it’s been posted. Inktober is not nearly as full of participants or sketches as it was last year, but then Flickr is much the same.

That was about all we did today. No plans for tomorrow. Weather looks like an improving picture.

Just another Sunday – 10 October 2021

It was sunny when we woke, but soon the clouds rolled in to dull things down again.

Scamp had done some washing in the morning and had hung it out too dry. That’s when the rain started. We guessed it was probably just a passing shower and put our coats on to go to the shops in search of some food for dinner. A chicken was to be the centrepiece with soup to start, the “Just Soup” from Friday and anything else we could find in the way of veg to fill the empty spaces on the plate. We came back with more than the bare essentials, but that’s always the case with us.

By the time we got back home all signs of rain had disappeared and lunch was on the menu. After we’d watched Andrew Marr take apart another Tory politician, I got dressed for the outdoors and took the Sony A7ii and the big heavy Sigma lens out for a walk. My target today was to be spiders, but I got sidetracked by the variety and quantity of fungi growing in and on the woods. It’s so easy just to shoot from a standing position, but much more interesting to shoot from the level of your quarry. I even went one better and shot from below one bunch of mushrooms. It wasn’t until I got the shot home I found the spider sheltering under the umbrella canopy of the mushroom, because it was raining again. Smart place to sit and keep dry while tending your web, if you’re an arachnid. That photo made PoD. It also ticked the box for completing my target!

After dinner and Scamp’s excellent pudding of Lime and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake. I doodled my answer to today’s prompt “Pick”. Remember, you can pick your friends and you can pick your nose, but you can’t pick your friend’s nose. A maxim to live by. It was only a doodle, but I couldn’t be bothered copying it into the official ‘concertina’ sketch book, so it stayed where it was on my Paperchase roughing sketch book.

We watched an interesting tactical race for the Turkish F1 GP. Good to see Bottas take the win and put Hamilton in his place for a change. The poor Fin has played second fiddle for too long.

After that we spoke to Jamie and were a bit put out when he told us that it was warm down south and he and Sim were sitting its the garden yesterday. We could have sat in the garden too, but we’d have ended up with a heavy cold after it. This country of Great Britain is ill divided at times.

No plans for Monday. Weather looks as if it will be much the same as today.

What a wet day – 9 October 2021

We’d already agreed to go to Stirling for some light shopping and the possibility of a coffee.

Basically, we did exactly what we’d agreed. Driving through torrential rain and blinding spray in to Stirling. We parked in the big cheap carpark just outside the town centre proper. It was even cheaper today, in fact it was free for some reason. All the ticket machines were covered, maybe to protect them from the rain. Who cares, we didn’t even have to pay the usual cheap price of £2 per day.

We walked in to the town and found a new cycle shop where the owner was repairing, of all things, a Clavinova. Scamp’s Clavinova has a dodgy key and I’ve been telling for ages to get it fixed. The bloke listened to her explanation of the problem, then told her what was causing it, and more importantly, that it could be fixed. No estimate of the cost until he sees the piano. She got his card and will probably phone him to get him to have a look at it.

From there we walked past The Gallery, an art shop we always stop to look in, but sadly is now closing. Stirling won’t be the same without it. Then, down through the Thistle Centre which is the Stirling version of a mall. Brilliant lego fantasy creatures in the mall. The Griffin was exceptional. Coffee in Nero and a few pies bought from the farmers market then that shopping in Waitrose before the drive home into the rain that seems to linger around Cumbersheugh on these damp days. Drizzle elsewhere, rain in Cumbersheugh.

That, I’m afraid was about it for today’s excursion. PoD was taken in the garden when the rain had reverted to dismal drizzle.  It’s what’s left of the geranium flower Rozanne after  the wind and rain have blown away all its petals.  It’s posted on Flickr as Rozanne naked ☺️. Prompt for today was Pressure. I chose to do some lateral thinking and my offering is the difference between high pressure and low pressure as far as weather is concerned. I was going to draw a pressure cooker, but this was better fun.

We have no plans for tomorrow. Weather looks a bit better than today. We’ll, believe it when we see it.