Cold and Bright – 30 November 2020

Cloudy and dull to start the day, but later the sky cleared.

Scamp was off to Tesco in the morning, leaving me to start my tidying of my half of the living room. It might not look like it, but it is tidier now than when I started. I was also tasked with some internet research that I cannot divulge as yet. Suffice to say it was successful, I hope. When Scamp returned, there was much rustling of paper and a box was packed. With that done it was my turn to do my part in this project and I had the experience of walking through a town centre with almost every shop closed. While a pre-recorded message was telling anyone who wanted to listen that “The Antonine Centre has all your favourite shops under one roof.” Yes, there are still a few shops in the centre, it’s just that none of them are open! I did my posting and the box changed hands.

By the time I came out the clouds had lifted and I was walking under a blue sky. I did think about going for a drive to take some photos, but decided that lunch would be a better option, so I drove home.

After lunch Scamp wanted to do some gardening and I wanted to take some photos. We decided on a fair division of labour. She did the gardening I did the photography. Couldn’t get any decent photos today. The light was good and the sky was still blue, but things just weren’t working out until I was headed home and saw today’s PoD in front of me. I took three shots of it and this is the only one that was in focus. That didn’t matter to me, I had a PoD.

<Technospeak>
In the evening I got a FB message from Colin (Not Colin C, but Colin B) with a suggestion for a way to get the data off the NAS drive. Basically he had connected his NAS drive to a Raspberry Pi which runs on a subset of Linux and then copied the files from there to a removable drive. Now that would be a lot easier than my idea of dual booting the MBP and doing it that way. I’m thinking it might just work. Thank you Colin, because I know you read this.
</Technospeak>

Today’s Sketch of the Day is “J” for Jelly Beans, traditional jelly beans. Lovely soft, shiny outer sugar shell with the jelly inside. And the colours, oh the colours! What’s not to like?
One of our favourite local Thai/Chinese restaurants, The Cotton House at Longcroft, presents you with a little cardboard tub of these with your bill. Certainly sweetens the paying part!

Tomorrow I must be up early to drive up to the doc’s to get my shingles jag! I don’t like jags, so I hope I get a sweetie for going, or at least a gold star!

Cold and dreary – 29 November 2020

Frost on the cars and the rooftops this morning.

I thought I’d go out and get some photos, but I waited to long to go and by then almost all that photogenic frost had melted to water. Now that the leaves have lost their autumn colours and beginning to deteriorate, only a few trees still shine. I’d taken the Oly with me is well as the Sony to hopefully get some macro shots and landscapes, but it looked like the Oly was the only one with a chance of capturing any images. I was right. The PoD is a drip hanging from a pine branch, taken with the Oly and its macro lens. I took about four shots with the Sony and none of them were really successful.

After lunch I spent my time culling the photos, rejecting some and accepting others then processing some of those photos that passed the test. That meant I could post them and get on with the next task which was the sketch of the day.

Sticking with the alphabetic scheme for sketches, I’d already decided that today’s “I” would be “Ink”. W&N ink in this case. I really like their retro little bottles. Unfortunately, I don’t like their ink, just the bottles. My go-to ink is Higgins Fountain Pen Ink. It’s a true black unlike some of the others I’ve tried. It’s water soluble and that allows me to create a nice dark grey with a waterbrush. Annoyingly it comes in a nondescript plastic bottle. So, ink from Higgins and bottle from W&N. So that’s what got me to today’s sketch.

Spoke to JIC after dinner and sympathised with him having to go the dentist to repair a broken filling and possibly having to pay for it. Double whammy, JIC.

Scariest GP for ages with Grojean crashing into the barrier on the first lap and the car splitting into two in a great ball of fire. Thankfully he walked away from what could have been a very serious crash.

Rain predicted for tomorrow as the clouds roll in and the temperature rises … a bit. That means we might get a walk, but only might.

A sunny day. Hooray! – 28 November 2020

It even rhymes.

A cup of coffee and then we were off out and walking round Broadwood. I was using the Tamron 70-300mm for the first time on the new adapter. Managed to get what turned out to be the PoD in the first fifteen minutes. It’s a female Goosander. Got to the far end and decided we’d walk the extension into the woods. A bit more than halfway round the extension we found a puddle. A fairly large puddle. It was about 2m long and took up almost all of the width of the path. The remainder of the width had been churned up by an army of boots. We attempted a crossing, but when I sank up to my ankle I told Scamp not to even think about it. A bloke we had passed earlier said he wasn’t bothered about it because he’d his work boots on. I think they must have been calf length boots, because he just waded on through the middle of this mini-loch, following his dog. We turned back, feeling like a couple of softies!
We warned a couple of people about the flood. Some carried on regardless, others took our advice and turned back. Next time I’m taking wellies.

We had to walk back the way we’d come, but that wasn’t an onerous task because the light today was beautiful. A low sun meant the light was blinding at times, but it was worth it. Took a few more bird shots with the Tamron and realised just how effective the in-lens anti shake was. Lots of people out walking round the pond, so we avoided most of them by extending our walk even further to take in what we’ve called the Exercise Machine path. It’s got all these brightly coloured, but essentially unused exercise machines all along its length. Mainly they are used by teenagers as seats or by the curious who will suffer the consequences next day. Just as we were coming home my Fitbit pinged to tell me I’d done my 10,000 steps (now I’m up to 14,000, a respectable amount.

It was good to get out in the sunshine, even if it felt quite cold at times. I ended up with a sore back from carrying the heavy lens and a camera bag too, but I shared the load with the bag across my back and the camera on my shoulder strap. Scamp had cramp in her toe on the last leg of the walk, but soldiered on.

That was about it for the day. The morning had turned into afternoon by the time we got back and soon you could feel that the sun was heading for the horizon. Days are short in a Scottish winter and light is always in short supply. I think we made the most of the day.

Today’s letter was ‘H’ and I chose Helmet. I’d already drawn an easy jet-style motorcycle helmet for Inktober, so I chose a Crusader style knight’s helmet today. Imagine having to wear that piece of headgear when you were going into battle. They must have been tough guys those knights. The horses that carried them must have been tougher still. While we moan and groan about having to wear a mask when we go into a shop, or have to wear one to work. We don’t know how lucky we are.

No plans for tomorrow, but there’s rain in the forecast.

No fog, just clouds – 27 November 2020

In a way I’d have preferred fog to the ubiquitous white clouds.

Today we were heading to Kilsyth to get some gin for me. Cheap gin, but I like the taste. With that in mind, we went via Lidl and picked up a fair bit more than a bottle of gin. Waited in the queue, but when we’d loaded our goods onto the belt the flake in front of us put a ‘dead’ card into the machine and screwed up the till. She said she’d kept her old cancelled card and that was what she’d used by mistake. Neither Scamp nor I believed it. It then took the assistant ages to put things right again. I have a feeling there was a scam being played out here. Who keeps their old cancelled bank card unless they’re trying to pull a scam?

Drove to Colzium House for a walk round the grounds and hopefully a couple of pics. I did get a PoD, but that was the good one with around 30 duff shots. After walking round the trees and the almost silted up curling pond, we walked through to have a look at the loch. Banton Loch is manmade and was built to feed the Forth & Clyde canal in the 18th century. I’m sure on a bright summer’s day it’s very photogenic, but today it was just a pool of dull grey water. We walked to the outfall dam and read about the battle of Kilsyth in the ’45 rebellion. Strangely there was a footnote on the commemoration cairn in French. There was nothing to see here and nothing to photograph either. That didn’t stop me taking photos that I just knew would be deleted later. We drove back home for lunch.

Walked to St Mo’s in the afternoon to try out the Sigma 105mm macro on the adapter for the Sony. It performed really well, but the weather and the light hadn’t improved since the morning and I had to give up. PoD went to the leaves we saw at Colzium. Today’s sketch nearly never happened. I just couldn’t find a ‘G’ subject until I saw a tin of beanz when I went to get some glasses from the cupboard. Set up a wee trio of groceries and sketched a thumbnail. As usually happens with these things, the thumbnail became the sketch and after I’d splashed on some paint it looked ok. Actually better than ok. I’m happy with it.

Hoping for some decent light tomorrow to get out and take some photos.

Fog – 26 November 2020

Woke to fog. We’d been warned about it by the weather fairies, but you can never believe anything they say.

It took a fair time to clear and the house was cold, because the heating hadn’t come on, because I’d turned it off last night when I was trying in vain to program the lights to do something they didn’t want to do and forgotten to put them back on schedule. Quickly fixed once I discovered what had happened.

When I was making the breakfast, I plugged in the skeleton NAS drive and powered up the computer. Later when I’d showered and was ready to meet the monster I tried to access the NAS. At the second attempt I got connected, but when I tried to download a small PDF file the access stopped and the icon for the drive disappeared from the screen. The most success I’ve had with it has been from Windows 10 on Scamp’s computer. Apparently, NAS drives in general don’t like what Apple OS in any of its many flavours. No taste, you see! I’ve given up. Even with Scamp’s reliable laptop the downloads don’t actually complete. I think it’s time to “take the burst ba’ away from the dug”.

We kept waiting for the fog to lift but it took its own sweet time. Scamp made some soup, leek and potato and I thought it was lovely but she was more critical. She didn’t want to go for a walk, because she had tidying up to do. I didn’t ask what was being tidied, sometimes it’s better not to know.

Instead, I grabbed my old Clarks boots which, although they have little or no tread, at least keep my feet dry, and I went for a walk in St Mo’s hoping for some sunshine since the fog had lifted and the sky was clearing. It wasn’t to be. However, I did get a PoD which was the water drops left by the fog on some spiderwebs. It’s ok and the quality is good, but the lens just isn’t up to close-ups. We are supposed to get more fog tomorrow morning, so I may take the old macro lens and try again.

I redrew yesterday’s sketch of eggs an egg shells and laid on some better washes. I’m happier with this version. I also drew today’s sketch which is the wee fairy that sits on the shelf in the living room. At Christmas it gets to sit beside the Christmas tree. I think it enjoys the change of view, but prefers its higher viewpoint on the bookcase.

Tonight Scamp and I had a practise of The Christmas Pudding Rock which is a dance Stewart and Jane have invented for the virtual Christmas ball. It’s left me with two left feet Usually the man leads with his left foot, but in this dance he leads with his right! Most confusing, but I’ve almost got it. Another few practise sessions and I’ll be there or there about … I hope!

One last thing.  Today Hazy sent a photo of a postcard that had just dropped through her letterbox, sent by us from Fuerteventura A YEAR AGO!  Delivered by camelpost perhaps?

No plans made for tomorrow. It looks like it will be cold. If it’s cold and clear that will be fine, a walk might be on the cards. It it’s not we may practise that Christmas Pudding Rock again.

Out for a walk – 25 November 2020

Lovely sunny morning. Too good to waste. Off to walk the canal

Drove to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal passing some folk and avoiding the cyclists. Beautiful light, but low lying cloud on the Campsies to the north. There was very little wind and so the reflections of the trees were almost mirror perfect. Took a fair amount of photos. Even found a bunch of Ragwort looking bright and cheerfully yellow beside the canal and a cow parsley plant still in bloom. Scamp found a wee bunch of white flowers whose name escapes me growing at the side of the path. I’m guessing the vegetation is well sheltered by Bar Hill and the trees that overgrow the canal itself. We had to walk back by the same path from Twechar because our alternative route back by the old railway is still being upgraded. Thankfully fewer cyclists on the way back and only a few joggers. The good light was disappearing too as the clouds merged together.

Back home and after lunch we spoke to Hazy for half an hour and caught up on what’s happening down south. Like JIC she agreed that it’s pretty much life as usual, just a bit duller. We discussed books and she and her mum discussed clothes. It was good to speak to her.

The sun had disappeared when we returned from our walk, but later it started to show its face again, so I put my boots on and went out to investigate the photo opportunities of St Mo’s. They were few and far between and then my camera ran out of film, digital film and I had no spare card, so I had to come home to find I’d missed a call from Val. Scamp was heading off to the shops and I spent a pleasant hour on the phone to Mr Rinaldi, my go-to guru for all things computer. I was intrigued to find that his WD Mycloud NAS had died recently too. I think that settles it. I won’t be throwing any more good money at Western Digital.

Dinner was a delicious plate of Fish Fingers, Egg and Spaghetti. An absolute favourite in the house. Just tasty welcoming food. I had intended to sketch the egg shells for today’s sketch, but it wasn’t happening and I needed to get the PoD into Flickr. A view of the canal from Auchinstarry achieved that little bit of fame. I also needed, still do, to get the blog written and posted. So if you’ll excuse me, I’ll end there and get that done.

If the weather is fine tomorrow we’re going out for a walk. If not we’re not.

Will the rain never end? – 24 November 2020

Just another day of seemingly unremitting rain and wind.

I’m beginning to see a pattern forming from these incessant lows being driven across the Atlantic to dump their rain on us. They seem to come in three day bursts. Sometimes we almost have a dry morning. Sometimes almost a dry afternoon, but the ‘almost’ is always there. Then there are a couple of cold, dry, sunny days or sometimes only one of those before the next train of wets lands. Personally I blame Trump.

I’d downloaded a potential saviour for the old NAS hard disk, but unfortunately it didn’t live up to the hype, which was unusual because I’ve bought the same sort of software from this company before and it’s been faultless. Not today. I’m not going to rant on about this, so don’t skip ahead. All I’m going to say is I’ve found a workaround. Not an elegant one, but it does work and I’m now on the lookout for a replacement NAS.

Scamp went to Tesco today and got soaked just walking from house to car to shop and then the same coming back. You don’t have to be out in this wind driven rain for long to get soaked. After lunch I reckoned I’d get a half hour of light before darkness fell and I was just about right. I took a total of 9 photos and one of them, with Scamp’s cropping suggestion made PoD.

Today’s sketch was generated by the letter ‘D’ and it was Driver, as in Screwdriver. It could have been Dugs, Diamonds or Donald (selfie), but for some reason I chose screwDriver. I think it looks a bit bent, this screwdriver, but who has never used a screwdriver to open a paint can or two? Some say today’s choice is a con or a cop-out, but “C” was yesterday.

Dinner tonight was mince ‘n’ tatties for me and cabbage ‘n’ tatties for Scamp.  Not the most elegant food, but filling and very tasty.  I still had to have a great deal of assistance from Scamp to cook the mince, but my head was still trying to get round the problems of Linux and Unix.  If that means nothing to you, then you are lucky.

Tomorrow may be the first of two dry(ish) days. We must wait and see about that.

Another early(ish) rise – 23 November 2020

Off to get some paint, not watercolour and not for me.

Shona is getting her living room painted and needed transport to get the half a dozen tins of paint from B&Q. I didn’t think it would be open, because away back in March it was closed for the first few weeks of Lockdown. It was open today but there was no queue. Found the paint after a hunt round the shelves. Organisation is not the watchword in this B&Q by the look of things. Drove back to her flat and carried the tins up the stair, dumped them and headed back to coffee in our house, our good deed done for the day.

<Technospeak>
I waited a while before I started interrogating the NAS drive again, but I was fairly sure it would work this time. It didn’t. I couldn’t get in through the control panel (called a Dashboard). I couldn’t get in through my homemade access app that’s worked for the last three years. I couldn’t get in through the low-level Network app in Utilities. I eventually succumbed to the inevitable and sourced a video that showed how to get into the case without the use of a claw hammer. That worked quite neatly. The upshot was the drive is undamaged, but it’s formatted to Linux and the partitions are Linux too. One person suggested booting into a Linux distro and using that to access the files. It works, but I can’t work out how to download them from there. More research needed.
</Tecnospeak>

By the time I’d gone through all these hoops, it was too late to get any photos, so after dinner I took the NAS hard drive and set up the tabletop you see here. If in doubt, use minifigs to set up something to laugh at. This one brightened my night. Well, that and the remains of yesterday’s wine.

Today’s sketch is brought to you by the letter ‘C’.  It could have been Citrus, Coconut or Camera, but I finally settled for two carrots.  Pencil sketch with a splash of watercolour.  I was fairly happy with the final result.  Managed to post it to Instagram from the computer, using Developer Tools in Chrome.  Nice little workaround.

That was about it for a really dull, depressing day. I’m sure my Italian Pal who understands Linux will have a solution to my problem. I’ll email him tomorrow. A wee challenge for him.

Tomorrow we have no plans. There may be dry spells in the rainstorms that are blowing in from the Atlantic. We might manage to catch one of those dry spells for a walk.

Rain showers and sun – 22 November 2020

You have to be quick to get a walk in the dry bits.

We sat watching the rain pelt down and then dry up again. Both of us ready to go, but neither of us wanting to say to the other that it looked dry. Eventually we went for a walk down and round Broadwood Loch. Although I took the kit lens on the camera, I really wanted to try out the old Sigma ultra-wide 10 – 20mm lens with the new adapter. It worked almost perfectly. It focused, it recorded the aperture and shutter speed and I could change them. The only problem I discovered later when I was processing them in LR.

For the most part it was a pleasant walk. Thermometer said 7.4ºc and in when we were in the windy parts of the walk it certainly felt like that. In the shelter of the trees it was a lot warmer. Today’s PoD was taken with the new camera and the old glass. The images were a bit dark, but I can forgive that for the quality of the finished product.

The problem with the adapter is that it makes a blind stab at the maker of the lens. The focal range too is wildly wrong. It’s a pain to change, but I’m sure I can come up with a fix. The main thing is I don’t have to rely on manual focusing which is difficult to remember to do when you’re used to having the camera do it for you. Best of all, I get to keep my good old Nikon glass and use it easily.

We just managed to get back to the house before the rain came on. Just as we were passing the shops we could feel a drizzle, but it didn’t really pelt down until we were safely inside. Of course I had to try out the Hive while we were out by setting a 30min ‘boost’ in temperature to warm the house for us getting back. Just showing off really.

Spoke to JIC tonight and he explained in a rational way how the vaccine works without the hyperbole that the news people seem to want to attach to it. So now we know that those freezers that are needed to keep the vaccine at -80ºc are not as uncommon as (again) the news broadcasts tell us.

I think my NAS drive is dead. I wasted about three hours on it today and apart from one time it appeared to work, the rest of the time it was just an ornament. I think it’s had one kick in the head too many!

Today’s sketch is “B” for bottle. Just an old empty gin bottle that, like the NAS drive is just an ornament. We did drink some Harris Gin and it was very nice.

Tomorrow we’re taking Shona to collect paint form B&Q, six tins of it. Other than that, nothing planned.

In better tid today – 21 November 2020

I learned the word ‘Tid’ when we were down in Newton Stewart. It sort of mean ‘state’ and I’ve only heard it in a positive setting.

So, today my head was in a better place, that’s what I was saying. Number one, I had a good sleep and a long one too. Woke fairly refreshed. Secondly, the problem with the NAS drive had resolved itself. Yesterday after the electrician plugged in the hub for the Hive, my NAS changed its IP address and nothing I did would get it back again. Today, I think, the OS had taken a long hard look and consulted its DNS spreadsheet and discovered the new address for the NAS (I apologise if that’s too many UPPER case abbreviations, JIC). Whatever happened, the NAS was online again.

A possible third reason was that our Hive controlled lightbulb arrived and we could play with it. Scamp was the first one to get it installed on her phone, but couldn’t quite remember how she did it. Then my phone registered it too. We had some fun switching it on and off, brightening it and dulling it, and then it was lunch time. Simple things and simple minds!

After lunch I chose to go out for a walk and a rainstorm was just waiting for me to walk about half a mile before dumping on me. I walked to the butchers and waited in the queue which went down quite quickly until some dimwit wanted a whole lamb rack French dressed, and then said she wanted them cut into individual chops. All the while she was chatting up the butcher. Eventually the women who work in the shop could see their wet customers considering leaving and decided they could allow two people in the shop as long as they were socially distant. When the dimwit entered the shop there were two of us waiting outside, when I left there were about nine wet, disgruntled shoppers. Some people just don’t care about others.

Came back home via St Mo’s and as the weather had brightened up considerably, I got some photos in the sunshine for a change. My favourite, and PoD was the tree.

I wasn’t long home when my parcel arrived from Amazon with its autofocus adapter to allow some of my old Nikon lenses to work seamlessly with the Sony A7. I was pleasantly surprised to find that two out of three worked completely. One didn’t quite cover all the bases, but enough to make it a worthwhile investment.

Nick the Chick (no, I wouldn’t risk calling her that to her face!) put a large swathe of Scotland into Level 4 on Friday, yesterday. Unluckily for me, I’m in Level 4 of the Scottish Covid prevention scheme. It’s not total lockdown, but it’s fairly close to it. With that in mind I decided I’d start sketching again. Initially it will be alphabetical subjects.
Today it starts with ‘A’ is for Apple.

Tomorrow may be a case of sunshine and showers, but we can survive that. We may go for a walk.