A walk in the park – 25 October 2015

comboThank goodness we had an extra hour’s sleep last night, we both needed it. Two late nights in a row does take it out of you. Scamp wanted to go for a walk and we both agreed on Glasgow Green. It’s ages since we’d been there. It hadn’t changed much, although there was a gigantic big ‘circus’ tent in the middle of the green. It turned out it was really a gigantic big ‘beer tent’, part of Oktoberfest Glasgow 2015.

We walked around the ‘Barras’ too, and that had changed quite a bit. Bill’s Tool Store was still there with everything from a needle to an anchor and everything else in between. However, only a very small percentage of the original outside stalls were still there. Yes, the “tabacca” (sic) sellers were still there and yes, the DVD sellers were there too, but where were the hawkers who sold the curtains, the carpets and the car cleaner? We went inside and it too was only half full. Some of the stallholders I remembered from the days Val and I cruised around the stalls looking for Public Domain copies of Atari and Amiga software, but very few. Loads of old faces, people who had worked the Barras every weekend. It wasn’t the same, not nearly the same. Quite a sad place now dying, but fighting all the way. There are still bargains to be had. I got the ‘gilet’ I’d been looking for with lots of pockets – you must have lots of pockets when you’ve got lots of phones. I got it for a very good price too and it was new and possibly not ‘knocked off’.

We went back over to ‘The Green’ and watched the students rowing on the Clyde. The river was full today. Single sculls, pairs, fours and eights. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many on the river.

Lunch for me was a roll ‘n’ sausage (medium rare) and for Scamp was a round of toast in The People’s Palace. Then I went for a wander round the flowers and plants in the Wintergarden. There are always photos to be had in this place, and I wasn’t disappointed today.

Used my new phone card at Tesco to put a tenner on my phone and Tesco kindly boosted that with another £20. Impressed with Tesco so far.

Click on the mosaic as usual to be transported by the magic of the internet to my Flickr page.

Still Raining – 28 July 2015

Another rainy day. Went to the gym and found that Windows was trying to shut down the computer at the gym. It looked remarkably like the shut down screen on Windows 95! Only 20 years out of date. Anyway, when Scamp went to the gym later in the morning, someone was trying to breathe some life into the old system and was hoping to get outside help to do so. Maybe the system will be running by the end of the year.

I felt like I was getting cabin fever today, so hitched the bike on to the carrier and drove to Auchinstarry for a wet, but warm run along the railway line past Dumbreck Marshes and on to the canal tow path. While I was there I watched some bees buzzing around the flowers. I thought it would be a good test of the high speed ‘motor drive’ on the E-PL5. I remember a few years ago I was in a group of photogs where there was a challenge among us to see who who would be the first to catch an insect on the wing. Lots of heavy duty technology was being used, but nobody got that shot. Today with a second hand Oly E-PL5 and a second hand Panasonic lens, I got the shot. I don’t suppose the wager still stands.


Another busy day – 17 July 2015

Visitors from Larky today, so up and get started. I’d made the risotto for the arancini last night, so up and get started on the rest. Put the mixer on and made some bread dough. Froze half and set the rest to prove. Had breakfast than started to clear my junk from the living room before I was told to do it. After that it was time for the messy job of hand moulding the arancini from the cold stodgy risotto rice. It’s not nice stuff at this stage. Next you have to form a hole in the ball of rice and push some mozzarella cheese into it before plugging up the hole with more rice mixture. The next stage is to coat the balls in flour then egg, then breadcrumbs before putting them into the fridge to chill until it was time to deep fry them.

By now it was past lunchtime, so we stopped for lunch and I chose to take an hour out to start a painting. It wasn’t very successful. I may try again with oils. While I was struggling with the acrylics, Scamp was making the pudding (I was on starter and main). By the time I was finished with my artwork, she was finished in the kitchen and as the oven was still hot, it was time to bake the bread, then prep the veg – Sweet Potato with Chilli, Coriander and Mango Chutney. Next, deep fry the arancini so they could go into the oven to dry out and keep warm after the bread was done. The veg joined them a little later. Good planning and use of DSC_2951- blog--199--198resources, eh? Scamp’s planning of course, not mine 🙁

There was a little hiatus at this point, so I managed to slip the leash for an hour and fled to the relative quiet of St Mo’s. There was very little of interest but in one or two of the sunny spells, I managed to get some pics of the wild flower and those tree climbing snails. No other wildlife to be seen apart from mini DSC_2959- blog--199--198froglets that were too quick for the 70-300 I had with me today. I’m still not convinced about the Tamron. It just doesn’t seem as sharp and certainly not as quick to focus as it was. The sharpness might be due to a misalignment in the focus system. I’ll have a go at re-calibrating it soon.



Meanwhile back at the ranch, Scamp had the table set and we were good to go. Visitors arrived a little later and it was showtime. The arancini went down a storm. Got the sea bass cooked and the veg was fine. Scamp’s choux pastry, profiteroles were as light as a feather. After dinner, much drink was taken (too much perhaps), many stories were told and jokes were laughed at.

A busy day, but great fun.

Walking the Canal – 12 July 2015

After a late start today we went for a walk along the railway from Auchinstarry to Twechar and then back along the canal. Weather was mainly dry with a couple of rain showers, nothing serious. The E-PL5 kept P7120156- blog--193.jpg going on to video mode without me realising it. It wasn’t until I got back home and looked at the pics, I found four short video clips. I’ve now switched off the instant video button on the camera to stop me pressing it by accident. What I did find that was interesting and useful was that when you are playing or scrubbing through a video in Lightroom 5, you can right-click anywhere and get a screen grab from that point. That’s how I got the bumble bee hoverfly shot. P7120148-3- blog--193.jpg

Had lunch when we got home and then read a lot more of The End of the World Running Club that Hazy recommended to me. It’s been a bit of a marathon (no pun intended) read and has taken me the best part of a month to slog my way through it, but I’m getting there now. I’m not intending to write a review of it here. I’ll keep that for Goodreads. Suffice to say that it may have been a long read, but it has kept me interested enough to finish it.

Dinner was the gigantic dinosaur bone that I got from JIC’s butcher. I’ve been holding on to it for ages until I felt I was ready to face this behemoth of the carnivore’s larder. I deemed that today was that day and while it defrosted ready for the oven, I went for a walk over to St Mo’s, armed with the Nikon, the Tamron lens and a Sigma 105mm macro. From the outset, it was plain that the Tamron would stay in the bag. This was a macro day where the weapon of choice would be the Sigma. There were insects everywhere. Some familiar, some not so. I’ve collected a set of them here for your perusal. Apart from the one on the left, the Scorpion Fly, I have no idea what they are. They are currently posted on Flickr and hopefully some kind person will ID them for me. That’s about it for the weekend. The dino bone was delicious by the way and I’m hoping to have the leftover bits for my lunch tomorrow.

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A daunder to Dumbreck – 6 July 2015

To paraphrase Facebook, “A lot has happened since you last walked to Dumbreck Marshes”, so I took myself off there for a walk this morning. A lot had happened. The trees were in full leaf. The Red P7060085- blog--187-1.jpg Campion and Ragged Robin were flowering well as was the Meadowsweet. The Himalayan Balsam was growing wild, partly due to me flicking the seeds everywhere last autumn and the Dog Roses were wide open enjoying the morning sun. In short, Summer was in full bloom. There were butterflies dithering around all these flowers

P7060069- blog--187-1.jpgand slugs climbing trees. Slugs climbing trees? Yes, Google it and you’ll find lots of theories about why these molluscs put on their climbing boots and scale the trees. I’m not convinced by any of the arguments, I think they just do it because they are there. If it’s good enough for us humans, it’s good enough for a snail. If you’ve got the time,

read Germaine Greer’s interesting piece about them in the Telegraph online.

While I was there (at Dumbreck) I got a verbal warning from some gulls that I was straying too close to their nesting grounds. I hate gulls. They are noisy, strutting, arrogant Stasi of the bird world. In Dundeethey are known as ‘Shite Hawks’, a very apt description. Anyway, thankfully they didn’t live up to their nickname today and I got away unstained. By the time I got back home it was time for lunch and then a quick trip to Larky to pick up my glasses which are much more laptop-friendly than the last pair. While I was there I bumped into my old HT who, believe it or not was just coming from the very opticians that I was heading to. Neither of us live in Larky. My claim to being there is that I was born

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and brought up there ‘behind the wall’. His nephew was the new partner in the optician’s business. Such a small world.

When I again returned home, Scamp was back from work and the gym. This made me feel guilty that my only exercise that day had been a four mile walk. Must get up early tomorrow and do the Gym/Swim thing.

Dancing at night and I’m now ready for bed, because my feet are dead on their feet.

Lazy Sunday – 28 June 2015

Last Sunday, I took 110 photos. Today, I took just 5. That’s the way it goes sometimes. The furthest I got today was the back garden. Torrential rain, then sun with a bit of a breeze. Not a bad day, just a lazy one. A very lazy one. My shot of the day was this one of pansies in the rain. Taken through the kitchen window this morning. Too lazy to go outside. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

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Ok, I’ll be honest. All is not as it seems. As usual. There just wasn’t enough depth of field to capture the whole flower, so I took two shots. One with focus on the front and one with focus a bit further back. Then took the two images into Potatoshop as layers and aligned them then used a mask to cut through part of the top layer to allow the bottom layer to show through. That way I could get the best sharp bits from both images. It’s posh name is focus stacking. Others call it cheating. I call it photography.

Deer Day – 2 June 2015

Up and out to get the blood taken, then home for a plate of porridge. Lovely warming and more important, filling. On the way to the health centre I had a letter to post. I was walking through our wonderful new shiny shopping centre (spot the sarcasm?) and couldn’t find a post box. Surely they would put a post box in the new shopping centre? You’d think they would, wouldn’t you? Nope. Not a one. I asked one of the security guards and he couldn’t think of one either. Then one of the cleaners put us out of our misery by informing us that she thought there was one about a half a mile away in a remote part of the labyrinth that is the old town centre. Unfortunately, I only had 15 minutes until my appointment and hadn’t brought a torch with me or serum against the venomous giant spiders that live in the dark nether regions of the centre, so I had to wait until I went to Tesco. At least they are thoughtful enough to put a post box in most of their stores. Don’t people write letters any more?

DSC_2626- blog-153Couldn’t settle down to do any painting today, so I just slouched around until Scamp came in from work because the rain was coming down in torrents. It was also coming down here, where I was. (that was a joke – ok?) Today was Scamp’s day at the gym, so, as the rain had stopped and the sun was attempting to put some light on the subject, I went out and took some photos. For some reason, the cantankerous Tamron 70-300mm was in a good mood and was willing to play nice. Walking through the woods I chanced upon a young doe. I think I saw her just as she saw me. We had a DSC_2634- blog-153standoff for just a few seconds, then she was off, but I managed one good clear shot of her. I was pretty sure she hadn’t gone far and sure enough I caught up with her, but she was up the hill and away like the wind. Her coat was a beautiful chestnut brown which glowed in the sun. This time I had switched on motor drive and got a few more shots to work with later. Headed DSC_2654- blog-153back home and caught up with the same deer again. This time I was upwind of her. She knew there was someone near, but she couldn’t see me. Her tail constantly twitched before she decided that hiding was better than standing in the open. Again, like once before, this deer knew she was safe as there was a burn between us. Even so, she only waited a few minutes before leaving for good.DSC_2671- blog-153DSC_2682- blog-153

The excitement was over for the day, but the photography wasn’t. I saw this fern backlit by the afternoon sun and tried a few contré jour shots. I liked the translucent green of the DSC_2685- blog-153fronds against the dark background. It looked to me like a green Curlywurly. Scamp was quite impressed with the fern, but said the bluebell flowers were her favourite, so that one is for her.

By the time the I got home the weather had calmed down a little more rain, but lessening wind. Tomorrow it’s forecast we’ll have temperatures of around 17ºc. Let’s hope the magic fairies in the weather men’s house have been whispering the truth in the weather men’s ears. That’s how they forecast the weather, you know.

One last thing. On the day when the ex Lib Dem MP Charles Kennedy died, I thought it was crass of the BBC News to headline with the fact that some Swiss football official had stepped down from his post before he was pushed.

What’s more important, a man’s life or an official’s career? Fin.

Rainy days and Mondays – 1 June 2015

It actually started out quite clear and not all that windy – no rain at all. Looks like the weather folk got it wrong again. Got up and did some washing – yes, I can work the washing machine, I just can’t or won’t DSC_2612- flickr-152.jpg grasp the technique of ironing. Breeze was getting up, so I hung out the washing to dry. My talents are almost endless these days. The sun came out for a while and I took the DSC_2619- blog-152.jpg opportunity to grab some shots of the azellia’s that are in full bloom just now. The red ones are Scamp’s favourite flowers in all the garden. The blue one is a new plant for this year. Not many flowers, but it’s early days.

My head was not in a good place this morning for some reason. Just felt a bit down. Later I remembered why. Tomorrow is a fasting blood test, so that means nothing to eat after 9.00pm and only water to drink. How is a man supposed to exist on that? I just keep thinking that after 9.10 tomorrow morning, I’ll be back to a sensible diet. Where I can eat anything I like – in moderation. Moderation being a country I’m usually a stranger in. I hate the fasting for the blood test. I always feel hungry just after the curfew time, no matter what I eat before it. However, it has to be done I suppose. I did a small preparatory sketch for a painting of Trumpan. It’s a view I’ve done before, but in acrylic, not watercolour. Still impressed with the water brushes and the new artist’s quality paints.

Today being Monday, Scamp had her ladies round for a practise, so I vamoosed in the general direction of the gym for an hour. That sounds really good, but it’s half an hour in the gym and half an hour in the steam room and the sauna, with maybe a splash in the pool to loosen up in between. When I came home I just had time to bring in the washing before the heavens opened. By the time we were going out to Glasgow for tonight’s classes, the rain was torrential. Black clouds clogged up the sky and the breeze had strengthened to a gale. Maybe the weather folk weren’t so daft after all. To cap it all, two hours later, when we were driving home there was a beautiful blue sky. Still a bit cool, but dry and the wind had disappeared again. It really is crazy weather these days, but it’s Scotland – Four season’s in one day.

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When we got to the house, I saw this big giant snail. I don’t know where this guy overwinters, but he arrives on our doorstep – literally – every year around this time. He’s quite a big fella now and he usually has a tryst with a lady snail in the flowerbed. Unless this is the lady snail …

Just as I am finishing off this blog, the wind is getting up again and the rain is starting to hammer on the windows.  I really should listen to these weather folk.  They do know what they are talking about.  Off to bed now to dream of steak pies and pints of beer and other stuff I can’t have until tomorrow!