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Coffee – 15 March 2018

Today revolved around Coffee for both of us.

Scamp was out in the morning and that gave me time to test out my theories about removing the mechanical HDD from the Mac Book Pro. They didn’t work. Neither did the MBP when I tried to power it up. Put everything back, screwed the base back on, checked that it still powered up then left it for a while. Chose to clean the shower cabinet instead. Much easier, if messier. No mylar connections, just a week and a bit’s worth of dust and gunk.

I was just finishing when Scamp came in from her coffee outing. Sat down with a ‘real’ coffee, a bridie and today’s Sudoku which took almost an hour to solve. A level 2 puzzle. Level 4 is almost impossible without some considerable help from the sudoku app on my phone.

After that it was time to meet the auld guys in a freezing town centre. Automatic doors were the problem. Actually it wasn’t the automatic doors that were the real problem. Manually operated doors and punters with one brain cell was the real problem. They open the door so it locks open and walk in forgetting that an icy blast just blows in behind them. At least the automatic doors close automatically … after about 15 minutes. It gave us something else to complain about apart from Council Tax, Income Tax and The Snow. Other topics were Lucky Bastards Swanning Off On Holiday (i.e. me). Lucky Bastards Swanning Off For A Boozy Weekend (Val) and Drawing Homework (Fred). I’ve no sympathy for that last one. He was the one who signed up for a Life Drawing course. Not my problem that the tutor was off ill and sent out a bit of homework to keep them going. Worst of all the above was the cold. They really need to do something about the heating in that great barn of a place.

Came home via Tesco to get milk and bread (staples again). Bumped into Colin who had forgotten about today’s coffee and got berated by his wife for it.

Dinner tonight was sea bream with mashed potatoes, broccoli and asparagus. Cooked to absolute perfection. Scamp made it, not me!

More research for the removal of the HDD tonight and I think there may be some swearing tomorrow when I try to implement the change. I also took the photo at the top of the page. Flooers, never a good sign. It was that kind of day, cold and damp.

Tomorrow, after the swearing, will be better we hope!

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Going for the messages – 14 March 2018

Since snow is forecast for Friday, we though it would be prudent to go get some messages today.  Also, our ballroom class was cancelled for today because the other two couples were on holiday.

Drove to Morrison’s in Falkirk to get some messages, three Tesco bags full of messages … and wine … and beer. We weren’t allowed to drink any today because of the Four Dry Days embargo. Actually, it will probably be Five Dry Days this week if I’m driving on Friday, as is likely. Anyway, Morrison’s in Falkirk was the highlight of the day really.

After lunch I went for a walk to St Mo’s and got the above PoD shot there. They are Cladonia, a type of lichen. They seem to grow on nothing. Nutrient free boulders are a typical habitat. These wee things seem to survive on air alone. Wouldn’t do for me. Certainly not after lugging three shopping bags of messages out of the car.

Salsa tonight was a game of two halves. Jamie’s first class was oversubscribed in men, so I bit the bullet and helped the other class, which Shannon ‘taught’. I wouldn’t really call that teaching. Teaching is where you increase the knowledge of your students. I didn’t see any increase in the knowledge of any of the pupils. She didn’t teach anything new, except that the girls should flirt with the guys. Not my idea of a dance class. Neither is repeating the same moves ad nauseam. What they want to do is learn, something, Shannon. Repeating the same set of moves for an hour is not teaching them to dance.

The second class started out with too many guys too, but ended up even. It was much more fun. Jamie’s classes at all levels are always fun, even when he’s a bit grumpy, which he has been in the past. Even although this was a beginners class, it was fun to help with and people were smiling. That’s what teaching is about. If you can make a class laugh while they are learning, they will come back for more.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Val and Fred in the afternoon. Scamp is having coffee in the morning with Isobel. I doubt if either of us will be having Flat Blacks.

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Another early rise – 13 March 2018

Out for 9.30am today

Taking Scamp to her hospital appointment in Glasgow today. It was a bright morning, so, since it was a routing check-up, while she was in the hospital, I went for a walk to Glasgow Cathedral. That’s where I got today’s photo, more of which later. I knew I only had half an hour of ‘freedom’, so after getting some wide angle shots of the building, I sat down to draw it. Sketch it would be a better description. Bearing in mind the usefulness information from a book on sketching architecture I’d read last year, I dispensed with the details and got the important bit, the bit that interested me drawn first, then, still working roughly, added in the remainder of the building. With that down, I started adding details, again working from my centre of interest first. It’s amazing how time flies when you concentrate on something and it only seemed like a few minutes before my phone rang and it was time to meet up with the patient. Sketch was only half finished and that half was lacking sooo much detail. Not to worry, it was done. I’d drawn it with a child’s fountain pen that’s great to sketch with. I’ve learned that if you use the fountain pen upside down you can draw really fine lines with almost any nib. Great for construction lines. When you’re ready to add in the outlines, you simply turn the pen round to the normal writing position. So simple and so effective. Two pens in one.

Anyway, a photo or five in the bag and a sketch too. Not bad for half an hour’s work. Drove home and stopped at Costa in Robroyston for a coffee, or to be more precise, “a flat black is stronger and smoother than an Americano due to the coffee extraction process”. However, it still manages to taste like an Americano and cost a little more. In other words it’s a Flat Con. Once bitten …

Back home, Skyped with Hazy for a while and caught up on all  the news from her end.  Halfway through there was a helluva thump.  It sounded like a door being slammed and we thought it must have been somebody next door leaving in the huff.  It wasn’t until the Skype session was over and I looked out the window that I saw the pigeon on the front grass.  Poor wee thing had battered into the bedroom window.  Went to have a look, but it was obviously dead with a broken neck.  Bagged it and binned it.  I don’t like pigeons, but I felt sorry for it.  Now we’ve got a white ‘angel dusting’ on the bedroom window.

Scamp was out to lunch with a friend and I started to clean my coffee machine which was leaking rather than making. The reason was soon obvious, there were coffee grounds everywhere. After half an hour of scrubbing and re-assembly the coffee making process was back in full swing. Just wish I could find some way to prime it properly after cleaning. It takes ages to get rid of all the air bubbles in the system.

<boring stuff>
Next task was to process the photos. It should have been easy, but as usual it was anything but. I’d deliberately taken more than one shot of the cathedral because there were a lot of people milling around, even at that early hour. The trick to avoid that is to take a lot of shots, preferably with the camera on a tripod, mine was at home. Then you lump all the shots into Photoshop in a stack, get the prog to align them, then carefully erase the people in the top and sometimes the second top layers to reveal the building or scenery in the layers below. Sounds more complicated than it is. Then I noticed that the top of the steeple was missing from the photo, so another bit of cut ’n’ paste repaired that. Because I’d been using an ultra wide angle lens, everything was curved, so a bit more doodling on Photoshop and finally Lightroom sorted that out. It took less than five minutes to get the photos and about two hours to make the composite final image. It started out at 12MB and the composite was a whopping 720MB. Still, I got the image I wanted. All photographs are fake, remember that.
</boring stuff>

Dinner tonight was paella where I got to use the Pimenton Dulce from Fuerteventura. Happy!

Tomorrow the dance class in the afternoon is cancelled as the other two couples are on holiday this week, so we have the day to ourselves. Might have a practise session. Oh yes, and Scamp got the all-clear as we expected. Happy!!

M3155074- blog

Just a typical Monday – 12 March 2018

Lunch, gym/swim, dinner, dancing, home. That’s a typical Monday and that was the overview today.

Other than the above, I planted the chestnuts I’d collected last autumn. They’d been living in the cold greenhouse all through the winter and would be fairly effectively chilled, which is what they are supposed to be. Apparently it stimulates growth in the spring. Well, good luck with finding spring this year, little chestnuts. Eleven chessies are now planted out in the greenhouse. Scamp also brought her broad beans down and they’re out there too now.

Did go to the gym today and everybody else was there too. Recumbent bike, treadmill and a couple of the weigh machines was my limit today. Nothing too strenuous, although I am feeling it in my legs tonight. Although, that could be from the two hours of salsa we did tonight. One week off and there are a lot of new moves to catch up with. Some were good, some were downright awful.  Moves were ‘New One’(!!), Abanico Complicado, Salao(??) and Stormtrooper.

That’s about it really. Tonight’s PoD was in my head to do all day and was easier to set up than I thought.

Tomorrow? Scamp has a hospital appointment in the morning then a lunch appointment after that. Me, I’m the driver in the morning and maybe a cyclist after my own lunch. Oh, yes, today’s lunch was an omelette. Tossed like a pancake, the way the omelette chef did at the hotel last week. Needs a bit of tweaking, but a worthwhile attempt.

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Zombies and three Halyzia 16-guttata – 11 March 2018

Up early and out to get milk and bread, the staples.

It was Mothers Day today and it just didn’t seem right for Scamp to make the breakfast. She’s not my mother, but she looks after me as if she is. That’s why I got up and drove to Tesco to get the milk and bread, and also a bunch of bananas, not flowers, bananas. You can’t put flowers on your breakfast Bran Flakes, don’t be silly. Tesco looked like a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie. Empty shelves everywhere. There was milk and bananas, but almost no other fruit.  [Thinks: Do zombies not eat bananas? ]  Now I know we’ve been away for a week and the snow has been bad here, but surely the Tesco lorries were getting through? I know Nicola Sturgeon was condemning the lorry drivers for clogging up the motorways with furniture lorries, but essentials like fruit and veg, that’s different. The apples and oranges should get through. Likewise the bread. My God, there was no plain loaves in the rack!! There were the thick cut loaves, but nobody eats them even if they’re were starving. Heavens, even zombies don’t eat them.

Came home made breakfast then sat down and typed up the last two days blog entries. Now we’re all up to date, I can relax. My reading public will not be on tenterhooks wondering if we got home, safely from our Week In A Warm Place.

That took me to about lunchtime and, as the sun was shining from a blue sky, after lunch I went to see if St Mo’s was still there and not under about three feet of snow still. I needn’t have worried, the swans were swimming, the birds were singing and the deer were out grazing, so I took the opportunity and snapped a few shots of them before they ran off. I also found my ladybird, the little orange one with the sixteen white spots (Halyzia 16-guttata), that I’ve been keeping an eye on since the beginning of the year. Except that it was no longer a solo ladybird, but a member of a trio. Three little vegetarian ladybirds clinging to the same tree. Two shots in the bag. Next shot was just of a pine cone with little tufts of moss growing from it. I liked it best, and it became PoD.

Dinner was a roast chicken from Tesco. At least there were plenty of them. Apparently zombies don’t like chickens, maybe chicken’s brains are too small to be worth eating. They (the zombies) do, however, like ice cream, because the freezers that are usually full of it were empty. There seemed to be no logic in the empty shelves. The ones you’d expect to be empty like the dairy aisle were full and the one’s that are more luxury items like ice cream had been pillaged. There’s just no accounting for folk.

That was about it apart from running the washing machine almost all day. Tomorrow I’ll probably put the cases away until the summer and, as it’s a Gems day, I’ll maybe go to the gym.

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Leaving on a jet plane – 10 March 2018

To take our minds off the inevitable, we went for a walk to the fort across from the hotel.

We don’t think it’s a real fort. Maybe there was a fort there some time ago, but it looks like this was built for the tourists. I’d seen people on top of it, but couldn’t find a way in. Then we walked round it and there was the stairway on the outside at the back. No handrail, just steps, so maybe it was a real fort after all. Anyway, it was a shame not to climb it, so I did. Not a great view from the top because it’s not such a big fort, but at least I’d done it.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was time to go and get a taxi to the airport. Taxi came quickly and we were right at the front of the queue waiting for the check-in. Through check-in, and through security with ease, that’s when the disaster struck. While we were in duty free, I realised I didn’t have my boarding card. Now I had to have had it to get through security, so somewhere between there and the duty free, I’d dropped it. Checked the carry-on bag three or four times, then Scamp checked it. Went down the stairs to security and told my sorry tale to one of the security guards who then took me to a senior security man. He must have heard this story hundreds of times in hundreds of languages. He immediately went to check the conveyer belts and there on the floor beneath one was my boarding card. Absolutely brilliant! I could have hugged him, but since he had an automatic pistol and a baton like a baseball bat on his belt, I just thanked him and shook his hand and babbled my thanks. We would go home after all!

When I got back to Scamp, she took the boarding card from me and told me I was too stupid to look after it. She’s probably right. She went off for a walk. I got my sketch book out and did a bit of de-stressing sketching. Not the best of sketches, but it kept my mind off what might have been.

It wasn’t too long a wait for the call to gate, but then a longer wait to actually be released on to the plane. Comfortable flight, watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. We’d ordered an in-flight meal and I chose Chicken Curry. Luckily, before I opened it, the word Mussels caught my eye. It appears the sauce for the CHICKEN curry is made with shellfish, especially Mussels! I explained that I take a severe allergic reaction to mussels and got it changed, but nobody had heard of mussels being used in a chicken curry sauce.
To make me feel better, Scamp bought me a new watch I’d seen two or three years ago on the Thomas Cook flight. It’s a ‘good’ watch, a Citizen Eco Drive. Nice clear analog face. A ‘toy of the rack’ to take my mind off two near misses 😉

Arrived in Glasgow to single digit temperatures and torrential rain, but no snow, thankfully, although there were piles of the dirty white stuff everywhere where it had been bulldozed off the roads.

Today’s PoD is from the plane just passing over Puerto del Rosario in Fuerteventura.

Tomorrow? Tomorrow is for returning to normal.

M3155074- blog

Too Cold?? – 9 March 2018

The last full day in Fuerteventura already!

After breakfast we walked down to the island to have a jug of sangria and pose in the sunshine. It wasn’t until we were on the bridge, watching the spotted or striped fish, it was hard to tell which, swimming beneath us, it wasn’t until then we realised that the wind was the killer today. The sun was warm and the sky was fairly clear of cloud, but the wind was cooling us down very quickly. When you hear the term ‘wind chill’ you think of snow and ice, not twenty something degrees in the sun, but the chill effect is still there and I was feeling it. Scamp wasn’t so bothered, but when we got to the island cafe itself, there isn’t much shelter there, especially when the wind is from the south as it was today. We walked a circuit of the round cafe building, then regrettably left. Too cold in Fuerteventura in March, who’d have thought it.

To lift our spirits (no pun intended) we walked up to the Spar shop in the Atlantico centre and bought another bottle of gin and some tonic. We also bought some spicy pimenton for cooking when we got home and the cheapest saffron we’d ever seen. Again the intention is to leave it in the cupboard and then take it out some day to make paella and remember the day it was too cold to drink sangria in the Canaries!

Had lunch in the hotel and afterwards, Scamp wanted to do some more sunbathing in the shelter of the gardens in the hotel. I took the Troopies for a walk in the wilderness to get their photos taken. That’s them at the top of the page the PoD.  Have you ever tried to take a photo of three troopies and a Peppa Pig in a gale force wind?  It’s not easy.  Oh how we suffer for our art.

When we both returned from our last outing on the last day, we started packing, with a little gin ’n’ tonic, to lift our spirits (N.P.I.)

After dinner we went to the entertainment team show. It was dire. Not funny at all. Dancers who couldn’t dance. Singers who couldn’t sing. Jokes that simply weren’t funny. We didn’t stay to the end.

Sat on the balcony and drank too much gin again to, you’ve guessed it, lift our spirits, and that’s why the blog was late.

Tomorrow we go home.

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Just another day in paradise – 08 March 2018

P1040411_2_2It’s Thursday today and that can only mean one thing.  Thursday Prezzies.  Scamp had chosen her prezzy and in late morning we walked to the shops.

That was after we lazed for an hour in the shade beside the pool.  I got fed up lazing and went to get some photos in the garden.  Saw a dragonfly, but it was doing circuits again and didn’t stop.  Sometimes it slowed down to tease the fish in the stream and let them try to catch it, but it was far too fast for them.  That’s where the PoD came from.  It’s a flowering and fruiting cactus complete with Spanish greenbottles.  Like bluebottles,  only green.  Still tired of lazing, I did some sketches of the folk lying on their sunbeds.

With one in the bag, we decanted ourselves from the sunbeds and walked down the road past the Sheraton to the first row of shops.  Had lunch (burger for me, tuna club sandwich for Scamp.)  The beers we had quenched our thirst.  Got the prezzies then walked back along the ‘new’ walkway. 

I had intended going for a walk to get some more photos and Scamp was going for a swim, but then there was a power outage.  We didn’t fancy going down five flights of stairs, or worse, having to climb back up them again if the lifts weren’t back in business, so we waited on the balcony and had another G ‘n’ T.  By the time the power returned it was too late to go for a walk, so we went for a swim instead.  I tried out the ‘adult pool’ and it was COLD!  Freezin’!  However, I was in and I was going to do a circuit of the little island with the jacuzzi in it.  All the while I had the thought of that warm bubbly water, that WARM bubbly water.  Finally completed the circuit and did get a chance to warm up in the jacuzzi.  Scamp joined me although, theoretically she hadn’t earned the treat, her not having swum in the freezing pool avoiding the ice floes.

Walked straight across to the middle pool and it was heated!  Hadn’t really noticed it before, but after the cold pool, this one felt warm.  Swam there for a while before returning to the sunbeds to soak up some rays.  Scamp went to swim in the middle pool.

Came back, fought with Lightroom for a while then went for dinner.  After that, went and grabbed a good seat for Tina the saxophone playing singer who would play some salsa, we hoped.  She did.  We twirled and twisted with the best of them.  Not as clean a demo as last time, but we have the G ‘n’ Ts and the Rum ‘n’ Cokes to blame for that. 

Exhausted now, I’m sitting on the balcony with the waves crashing on the shore wondering what we’ll do tomorrow.  Maybe a trip to Caleta?  Maybe hire a bike and go for a run?  Maybe go and have lunch on the island?  Maybe some, but probably not all of the above.

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The Walking Tour – 07 March 2018

7 MarToday we were walking down to the harbour with a stop on the way for a drink perhaps.

After breakfast, that’s what we did.  We plastered ourselves in suncream as per usual and walked around the bay to the new harbour.  It was only after we got back that I checked and found that it’s been ‘new’ since at least 2014, the last time we came to Caleta.  We had coffee at the new El Faro bar.  Lovely views across the bay, but the 1/2 litre of sangria we had yesterday for £5.50 would have cost us £8.50.  We had coffee instead.  Walked out to the San George hotel and just a little bit further on to the cliffs.  Decided that was far enough and headed back, past the Dorido Suites hotel which is not being demolished, but is being ‘renovated’.  I think that means the balconies are being rebuilt.  Interesting to see the quality of the blockwork!!  Glad we weren’t booked there an don’t think we’ll be going there any time soon.

Back at the Elba we were in time for lunch which had to be reduced in quantity as we were going to the Italian waitress service meal tonight.  After lunch Scamp decided to do some more sunbathing while I went for a walk to try to get some sketching done.  I’d already completed my 10,000 steps for the day and this was just a little extra exercise.  I walked along the pedestrian path to the Museo de la Sal, the museum of salt!  The result is shown below:

IMG_4706_4706By the time I’d walked back, my 10,000 steps had doubled to over 20,000, and it was time to get ready for our Italian meal.  We both started with a selection from the buffet, then Scamp’s main was Vegetable Lasagne which she said was “warm on a hot plate”.  Mine was Spaghetti Puttanesca. which was lovely, although the sauce was quite thick.  Pudding for me was a “Disgustingly lovely” ice cream on a mascarpone cream.   Scamp just had to have Tiramisu. A great meal with coffee and a bottle of wine added in for free.

Evening entertainment, apart from Pepe, was a dire soul singer who thought he was every real soul singer in creation, but the star attraction was ‘Mr Sleazy’ from last night reliving his even sleazier youth with some seriously bad dance moves.  Oh dear, I hope I never look like that.

PoD was the upside down beer bottle, entitled ‘Reeb’.  Work it out yourself.

Tomorrow?  I might find the church behind the museum, but I’ll be going by bike, hopefully.  Scamp says she’s hoping to be grabbing some more rays!

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Sangria, Dolphins and a Demonstration – 06 March 2018

P1040326The task for today was to walk to the island for sangria.  Anything else was a bonus.

After breakfast, we sat by the pool for a while, but I was getting itchy feet and wanted to go for a walk.  The grounds of the hotel are fairly extensive and really well landscaped.  There’s  a stream running through it with fish in it.  There was a waterfall too which feeds the stream.  Along the banks of the stream there is a cat house and a fenced off area for the partly feral cats to live in.  I’m sure you’d be impressed Hazy.  That was where I headed today.  I was disappointed to hear that there was no rushing waterfall noise and that was because the waterfall wasn’t operating now.  The river is still there and the fish are enormous.  There are loads of cats too wandering around.  Some are quite dismissive of humans, as only cats can be, others are quite skittish.  This too will be quite normal for you Hazy.  Saw one of these large butterflies and managed to get a photo of it while it was feeding on some pelargonium flowers.  That is my PoD.

Wandered back to find Scamp and then we got ready and walked to the island.  It is actually an island, partly manmade I think and only accessible by a bridge.  A new bridge as it turned out.  Not more than a year old and made of good quality mahogany.  Most impressive.  We found a table and ordered a jug of sangria.  It was really quite good.  Not as good as the brandy based sangria Scamp had in Trinidad, but tastier than a  lot of red coloured water I’ve had in the past.  Lots of apple and orange bits floating in it too.  That’s when we saw the dolphins.  I’d seen some from the balcony last night, but all I really saw was the spray from their blowholes.  They were far too far away and my binoculars were no use because they were in a drawer in the back bedroom back home.  Difficult to access from that distance away.  These ones were much closer, but you could clearly see their fins and the spray when they breached.  I took a few photos and we agreed it was good to see them so close to the shore.  When I went to pay I saw one of the dolphins even closer to the island, only it appeared that there was a ball shaped object floating, now sinking, now floating again, just ahead of it.  Next time it surfaced I saw the pipe of the snorkel strapped to its head and then realised that ‘fin’ was in fact the diver’s flipper breaking the surface.  Oh dear, what a numpty.  Sangria must have been quite strong after all!

Walked back via the Spar shop in the Atlantico Centre and bought a tin of Pimento Dulce (Sweet pepper) for cooking with when we get home.  Yes, I know that I could have bought it in Tesco for about the same price, but when I use this pepper in a paella, I’ll remember the day we had sangria on the island at Caleta and saw the mysterious dolphin.

When we came back, it was time for lunch and today it was steak for me, cooked perfectly. Scamp had the vegetarian option.  After lunch Scamp and I went for a walk over the wilderness bit of the dunes.  There wasn’t much to see there, but it was good again to listen to the sea crashing in.

After dinner we went to wait for the singer and sax player we’d heard the last time we were here.  Unfortunately she couldn’t start until some football game was finished.  Bad planning by the hotel authorities.  Also, the germans (Small ‘g’  –  you know what that mean) had taken over all the seating and wouldn’t let anyone sit near them.  Now maybe we’ve just met some rude germans, but every time we come into contact with them, they are rude and overbearing.  Eventually we found a seat far away from the guttural shouting they call language.  Heavens, they didn’t win the first world war and they didn’t win the second word war,  They weren’t even placed!  What right do they have to be so noisy and proud of themselves?  Like I say, maybe we’ve just been unlucky.

When the music started, it was the typical middle-of-the-road stuff I hate.  Music for people who don’t like music.  However, Scamp coaxed me up to shuffle around the floor to something totally forgettable.  When we were leaving the floor she asked the singer if she could play some salsa.  Yes, she would.  She made an announcement that a couple wanted to do a salsa dance and she would play El Carnaval.  It was fast, really quite fast, but we knew it and gave it everything we had.  Not quite a perfect dance, but a good demonstration.  It certainly shut up the slimy guy who seemed to think he was John Travolta.  We got a great clap for that, then it was back to german junk and vanilla pop.  Got to keep the germans happy.  Look what happened the last twice they got upset.  We did try out our emerging Jive steps to an old Neil Diamond track and that was the end of the night.

Tomorrow we are hoping to go for a walk to the harbour.  Maybe get some food and drink on the way.