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The sun returns – 11 December 2019

It wasn’t lost after all. I was just having a rest yesterday.

I was out early today to make sure of capturing some of those little photons and storing them away in an SD card. Yes, I was taking foties. Scamp had already been out to the doc’s for her medication check and back again. I went over to St Mo’s and got some good light. Grabbed a PoD which is a low down macro shot of some sphagnum moss strands, looking like miniature evergreens. Got back just in time to go out again to meet Colin and Fred for coffee. Scamp was off again to see what the retail paradise that is the Town Centre had to offer the discerning shopper.

The coffee snobs centred around pubs in Glasgow (a common topic among us), books and the NHS. Given that tomorrow is polling day and Fred is a political animal, it was strange that the merits and demerits of the leading campaigners did not enter into our conversation. Maybe it’s not all that strange. I think we’re all a bit jaded with the whole shebang. It’s become a tactical election. Pick the person you don’t want to win and vote for anyone else. Much like the old Scottish football question:
Question – “Who are you supporting in the World Cup?”
Answer – “Anyone who’s playing England!”
(Notice that Scotland is never mentioned. We don’t do the World Cup.)

Drove home into glaringly blinding sunshine to collect Scamp and take her to the doc’s again, this time to get her flu jag. By the time we were coming home, the sun had set and the day was sliding into evening.

When Scamp had been out earlier, she had bought the makings of Stir Fried Prawns with Singapore Noodles. Sounded great. I volunteered to make it. It tasted as good as it sounds. The sauce that came with it was labelled Soy, Chilli and Ginger, but it smelled like simple Brown Sauce, the stuff that comes out of a square bottle with letters HP at the top. The strange thing was it didn’t taste anything like it! Must have been my cooking skills that transformed it.

The weather has turned back to rain again and it’s forecast to further turn to snow during the early hours of tomorrow morning. We’re booked to take Isobel to Monklands in the morning. Let’s hope the snow has gone by then.

The other day – 10 December 2019

Yesterday was a beautiful winter day. This was the other day.

Today was wet with gale force winds. There was nothing good to say about it.

What I did do was tidy up loose ends. Wrote to Alex. Ordered some stuff from Amazon. Nothing all that interesting, just a book and a caddy to hopefully find out what’s on three old disk drives I found in a cupboard. They’re probably empty or unreadable, at least after I get the gizmo I’ll find out. Either way they go in the skip once I’ve disabled them.

Went to Tesco to get essentials like Milk, Bread and Chicken Stock. Put some stuff in the food bank because I felt guilty about constantly forgetting last year’s pledge to do that at least once every week. I didn’t even take a camera with me, that’s how bad it was.

In the evening it calmed down a bit. The wind died down and the rain became less intense. Now at almost 11.30 it’s starting up again. Phase two of Storm Something or Other. More wind and rain with some snow mixed in forecast for tomorrow. At least we won’t be driving in to Michael’s class tomorrow. He sent Scamp a message saying that ballroom classes are cancelled tomorrow. Little does he know that “School’s out for summer.” Well, his school is anyway. Still not sure about salsa, although it will probably be going that way anyway because the STUC is being sold to create even more student flats, and where will the salsa go then poor things? Probably either Revolution or Record Factory, that’s my guess. Neither of them are really ideal. I’m wondering if we should see it out to it’s natural end or just cut and run at Christmas. Neither way is very appealing, but in the end, it’s going to happen no matter what we think, so maybe better now than later.

Didn’t get out to grab some photons today, so it’s flooers again for a PoD. I like this little Christmas cactus. Scamp repotted it earlier in the year and it seems to appreciate the extra food and drainage it’s now getting. There are a few buds on it and this is the biggest. Maybe we should give mummy cactus a bit of a refresh too. She’s been going for a long time now and is beginning to show her age. Maybe that would be a nice Christmas present for her.

Tomorrow Scamp has a review at the docs and I’ve got coffee booked with Colin and Fred. On a Wednesday too! Shock Horror!!

Solar Power – 9 December 2019

Sometimes I think I am solar powered.

Woke to sunshine this morning. Beautiful sunshine. Got up and dressed, no time to waste on a shower, I’d go dirty! Grabbed two cameras in the big black camera bag and waltzed off to St Mo’s (actually I walked, no dancing was involved) while Scamp was defrosting her car. Nearly fell on my backside when I stepped on a thin slice of ice I hadn’t noticed, but regained my balance and nobody was there to laugh at me.

No time for camera testing today. I’d (partly) mastered the buttons and dials on the LBJ and today was too good to waste on test shots. Got a few shots of interesting fungi in the woods and some backlit leaves, but nothing too special. Nothing that was a contender for PoD. It’s remarkable how quiet the shutter is. Much quieter than any of the Olys. Yes, of course I was still testing and comparing. It’s the way I am!

By the time I got back, Scamp had returned from her shopping trip and she’d put the coffee maker on. Thank you Scamp. She’d been busy because she’d made a pot of soup too and it smelled lovely. She’d also done the hoovering which has been my Monday job for the past few weeks. She just can’t sit still some days.

After lunch and after Gems had gathered I had my Monday talk about all things Art with Margie, I put my boots on again and drove down to Auchinstarry to walk along the canal, across at the plantation then back along the railway. Got a few more shots with both cameras, two of which I knew would be on Flickr and one of which I was sure was destined to be PoD. Saw a poor luckless quad bike rider getting his/her front wheels stuck in a bog, right up to the axles. Don’t know how they were going to get out of that one, but I wasn’t going to help pull it out.

On the way back I paused to just take in the colours and shapes around me. You don’t realise just how beautiful the countryside is until you’ve had a week of rain and leaden skies. Sometimes I think I’m solar powered. I need sunlight to recharge my batteries. Without that dose of vitamin D I just get deeper and deeper down and it’s the sun on my face that lifts me, well that and Scamp’s smile. It can lift me any time. “One smile relieves a heart that grieves” Robert Graves.

Back home it was good news. Jamie Gal was in the driving seat tonight. We went in to see if the beginners class needed any helpers, but two weeks of Shannon had taken its toll and it was a vastly reduced class in the hall. An even class of leaders and followers, so we weren’t needed after all. Our own class was well attended, but the skills of the class were a fair bit below what an Advanced class should be able to demonstrate. Jamie took quite a lot of criticism for his absences and I did feel sorry for him with nobody to stand with him against the class. However it had to be said and now he knows the feelings of the class.

Came home feeling a bit deflated with the loss of two dance classes and nothing to fill the vacuum until the new year. Hopefully a new year will bring new opportunities or am I starting to sound like an astrology page from the Daily Record?

PoD today went to a dried stem of cow parsley with an out of focus background. I liked it. There’s more on Flickr.

Tomorrow we’re expecting rain and Windy Willy. That won’t be fun!

A Mickey Bow! – 8 December 2019

Another dull, dark, dreary day. Rain from morning until night. However, I did, under Scamp’s careful tutelage make a steak pie for my dinner, she had salmon. After that, I just sat at the computer and moped.

In the afternoon I decided to walk to the shops to get puff pastry for the pie. It gave me a walk, even if it was in the rain and maybe, just maybe a chance to get a photo. You can probably tell from the photo at the top of the page that I was unsuccessful in that respect. I took the LBJ and tried, oh how I tried to get it to focus. It wouldn’t. I think the thing is just stupid. I think as well as the usual CPU it’s got a NUMPTYU. When the CPU gets fed up working it switches over to the NUMPTYU and it does whatever it wants to, as long as it contradicts what I want. Came home empty handed.

Finally I settled on another still life. This time the subject was my new bow tie and, as it’s a Disney bow tie, it’s only fair to call it a Mickey Bow. It tried tying it as usual, round my neck, but it’s not like a normal tie that you can loosen and pull gently over your head, as Number 1 Son used to do. The only way I could get it off was by cutting off my nose and possibly my ears. I felt that was just too much of a sacrifice for a photo, anyway the blood would probably stain the bow tie. I finally applied some maths to the problem.

If my collar size is 16.5”, that is the circumference, “C”, of the circle that is my neck.

C = πD where D is the diameter of the circle

By transposition D = C/π

So, roughly 16/3

Even more roughly 5”

Yet more roughly still, equal to the diameter of the yoghurt maker in the upstairs tools cupboard.

So, I tied the tie round the yoghurt maker, which was a lot easier than I thought, and carefully slipped it off. Voila, a subject for tonight’s PoD.

Tomorrow it’s Gems and they’re rehearsing, so I’m going out. Afterwards, we’re hoping against hope that it’s Jamie G who’s in the chair for salsa, but it looks like it’s the end of the advanced class for us. I think we may be going to a ballroom class instead of salsa on a Monday night. The end of an era.

A relaxing day – 7 December 2019

After yesterday’s energetic day and late night, today was a day of recovery.

The daylight just sidled in past the curtains this morning. I took longer than usual to drag myself from dreamland. Finally emerged from the shower just about 10.30. Scamp, of course had been up and dressed and sitting with her cup of coffee by the time I appeared downstairs. A drop too much whisky last night was the problem.

Finally got ourselves going just after midday and drove through torrential rain to Stirling. I’d woken with a stuffed up nose and with cotton wool or something like it in my head. One good cure for it, I’ve found, is a good hot curry. That’s what we were going to Stirling for. One of the chefs must have looked out of the kitchen and said, “He needs a good hot curry” and that’s what I had. My usual curry in the Indian Cottage is a Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna with a little bit of chopped up raw green chilli on top. Today the chefs decided I needed half a green chilli. Dutifully I ate it. It was hot and delicious. Scamp had her usual Vegetable Dhansak which she said was “Spicy”. I tried some of hers and couldn’t taste anything through the fire in my mouth from my green chillies. Just what the doctor ordered.

Went back home via Waitrose and drove through another deluge. On one occasion the wash from a car in the outside lane completely swamped our windscreen wipers. Lots of standing water.

The day had stared off dull and became gradually worse as the sun gave up the struggle of forcing some light through the clouds. Absolutely no chance of any photos outside today, so it’s flooers again. Just messing about with the new camera and some old lenses. PoD was one of the best shots.

Scamp’s been in touch with a ballroom teacher in Cumbersheugh and we may have found a solution of sorts to two problems. The classes are on a Monday evening which would conflict with Jamie G’s Salsa class, but if he continues to avoid his teaching duties, we may be losing that anyway. Also, we are now agreed that Michael is history, so another ballroom teacher will be a fresh start.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for some scattered showers and some broken cloud. We’ve had enough of the rain now thank you.

I saw the sun today – 6 December 2019

Not for long and it was late in the day, but it was definitely there.

My little grey cells must have been doing overtime while I slept last night. This morning I’d puzzled out what went wrong with the bow tie yesterday. I think the problem may lie with the pattern. I don’t think it’s symmetrical and I remember the very first time I made a bow tie, I carefully numbered the pieces so I wouldn’t get lost. If I’m right, the pieces have to be assembled in a specific order. It’s one of those things that is easy to demonstrate, but almost impossible to write down. Suffice to say I had a plan. Unfortunately I didn’t have any more of the lovely red print I was using yesterday, but I did have a nice white based one and that might just do.

Did as I had the first time and after cutting out all the pieces, I numbered them all so I would know better what I was doing. Also, I cut the interfacing slightly smaller than the fabric. Long story short, it worked. After a final hand sewing, I now have a festive bow tie to wear tonight to Stuart & Jane’s Christmas ball. I have other clothes to wear too, but the bow tie will be the star.

With that done, lunch was calling to us and Scamp suggested we go back to Frankie & Benny’s again which is precisely what we did. Note to self: Cheese Burgers are good too, but tell them to hold the mayo. Way too much.

Having nothing else to go for, we drove home and I grabbed the chance of some decent light for a quick shot. Well, it would have been a quick shot except I must have pressed a button somewhere, a button that shouldn’t have been pressed, because it switched off the viewfinder and the rear screen. Shooting blind, I got the shot and swore much more than is good for anyone’s blood pressure. Back home I finally managed to get the viewfinder and then the rear screen working again and went for a grumpy walk to St Mo’s. The best of the light had gone by this time, but I did get a few moody sky shots. The best made PoD.

Drove in to Renfrew for Stuart & Jane’s Christmas Ball and had a ball ourselves. Sitting at a table with three other couples about the same age as us. Not at all like the crowd at Michael’s dance. I’m not just saying that because we’re in the process of cutting links with him, this was a great night’s entertainment, thankfully without a drag show in the middle this time. S&J were low key all the way through the night, but they still gave us a great welcome and also kept the ball rolling. We even got a salsa spot, albeit with another six dancers, but they were really the support act! I think we may go to the next social in February, if we’re spared.

Arrived home at just after midnight. Sitting now with a (not-so) little whisky nightcap. Scamp took the sensible option and had Ovaltine.

That was a good night, so goodnight.

Meeting up – 5 December 2019

Back to The Fort again.

We were off to The Fort to meet Crawford and Nancy for lunch today. It was a great catch-up and great lunch in Frankie & Benny’s. It was strange having something that wasn’t breakfast at F&B’s. We’ve only ever been to one of their restaurants for breakfast when we’ve been jetting off to some warm place. Fish ’n’ Chips for four and everyone agreed the lunch was excellent. Drove back through the rain vowing we’d catch up again in the new year.

Long before we got home, around 2.30 the headlights turned themselves on automatically making it feel dark already. Heavy rain and gale force winds didn’t encourage me to go out and get some photos. Instead I started making a bow tie for tomorrow’s dance and Scamp started on wrapping up some parcels in a new ethical way. After a couple of hours of trying, I gave up and chopped the whole thing up. Don’t know what went wrong, but I think I need to be more accurate with my cutting out. Scamp’s parcels are done, finished and packed in a a bag. I’m jealous. I may try another bow tie tomorrow, but there seems to be less rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon and with the strong winds still in evidence, there may be breaks in the cloud to let some sunshine in, so I may go and take some photos instead.

Today’s PoD is the Weemen trying to find out exactly what went wrong with the sewing process. Not the use of a hazmat suit and the hard hats. H&S is very important to weemen.

So tomorrow we may go dancing, I may take some photos and I may make a bow tie. Scamp has no plans at present.

The end of a beautiful friendship – 4 December 2019

Almost made the 11am cut-off.

Just after 11am I took a the new little brown job out for a walk in St Mo’s along with a few of my little bayonet fitting pieces of expensive glass. It was a dull day, but I wanted to see how it coped with dull Scottish weather. The answer was, not all that well. The kit lens was fine, but when I put on the macro, it just didn’t want to focus. Couldn’t work out how to set it to manual focus (Don’t worry JIC, almost done with the technospeak) and it has started raining. Didn’t want to get the little brown job wet, because it was going back to JL in the afternoon, so it went back in the bag.

I wanted to see how NLC and their helpers were getting on with the upgrade to the footpath. Work is progressing well on the new boardwalk, but less than half the footpath has been tarmacked so far. Hopefully it’s a temporary setback.

Home just in time to stuff a piece ’n’ bacon in my face before getting ready to drive in to Glasgow.

Michael was in charge today and no sign of Anne Marie. We started off by dancing Over the Rainbow with the ‘expert girls’, then Michael began correcting some of the individual elements. The bane of my life since last week, Spin 4, was amongst them, but his teaching was clear and not all that repetitive. It was going to be ok. Messed up a few of the moves in the new routine, but that was to be expected. Then it was time for waltz.

We made a small mistake at one corner and he started tearing our routine apart. Told us we were doing it all wrong. Told us we’d missed out two steps. Now Scamp is brilliant at getting the counts right and she argued with him that although she’d made a mistake at the corner, the rest was fine. So he took her through some steps we’d never seen before and tried to baffle us with maths. It didn’t work. We both told him that we’d never seen those steps before. He seemed to lose it at that point, shouting “Check your phone. Check your phone.” I told him I didn’t need to check my phone, I knew we were right. (I did check tonight and we WERE right.). Then he switched to Quickstep, but not before he had danced the proper routine, the one we recorded about a year ago, the one I checked tonight, and said that’s how it should be done. He wouldn’t listen to us when we told him that was a different set of steps from the one he’d done, not ten minutes before, but he’d switched on his Rubber Ear by then and was hiding behind it. I don’t know if he realised it was all over by then, but we had.

We walked up through the Christmas Market on George Square and bought two Coconut Buns. Delicious cold, but heavenly when warm.

Back home I got instruction from Scamp on how to make a stir fry and I showed her how to thread the needle on my sewing machine and how to do the basic stuff (all I can do, to be honest).

Sitting watching The Apprentice I started fiddling with the Little Brown Job (it’s got tan coloured leatherette trimming) and found lots of interesting and useful things. Lots more than just manual focusing. It’s a keeper.

PoD was some stacked architecture from Glasgow.

Tomorrow we’re booked for coffee with Crawford & Nancy.

Lost in Coatbridge – 3 December 2019

Not the place to get lost really.

Jackie left early to go for the bus home from Glasgow. As usual she booked herself a taxi, because she didn’t want to bother us. It was good to see her. We must visit Skye soon.

We set off ourselves a bit later in search of a walk in the fresh air at Drumpellier Park on the edge of Coatbridge. It was a fine day, not sunny, not bitterly cold and dry into the bargain. A comfortable walk around an essentially dull big pond, watching the ducks and swans being ice-breakers and cutting through the thin surface layer of ice. Had a coffee and shared a muffin in the cafe and gazed out over the pond. Great view across the water and although I said it wasn’t cold, it wasn’t too warm either, so a heat in the cafe was ideal.

Drove out of the gates of the park and turned right. After about half a mile I got a bit worried, because I couldn’t remember seeing those buildings when we came in. Turned at a school, I definitely couldn’t remember that. Lost, we switched on the sat nav and asked it to find the Fort. It directed us back the way we’d come. I didn’t think that was right either, but followed its instructions for a while before I went my own way again. Nope, that wasn’t right either. Finally after checking with Google Maps, I agreed that we had to go back the way we’d come and found the proper road. Trick was to turn left on exiting the park THEN turn right. Dumplin’! ( A “dumplin’ “ is like a “numpty”, but not as stupid. )

Found the Fort and got a few things for making parcels for Christmas. Then Scamp suggested we drive in to Glasgow because Santa was going halfers with me on my Christmas Prezzy. It’s (yet) another camera. This one is new. My first new camera for a month and before that? About ten years, maybe more. So, don’t start you pair! You know who you are.

Back home it was soup and Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner. Best I’ve made for ages, although Scamp’s Lentil Soup came a close second.

Testing the camera tonight, I found a big dust bunny on the sensor. This is a new camera and the sensor has dust on it and not just a microscopic particle, this one was bit. I was tempted to take it back, but then I tried my trusty blower on it and that did the trick. It’s a nice bit of kit this. It’s a bit smaller than the rest of my M43 cameras, but has that magic 4K Post Focus trick up its sleeve. Hopefully the best of both worlds. Even better, it came with a 12-32mm lens which I loved until it fell apart on me when we were down in Wales. Hopefully this one will last longer.

PoD was a Convolvulus stem making a neat helix on a cow parsley. Taken at Drumpellier before we got lost in darkest Coatbridge.

Tomorrow, hopefully we’re dancing again and I think I’ve worked out how to do that bloody spin 4 properly.

Hot Mulled Buckfast – 2 December 2019

Now, there’s a thought.

Went in to Glasgow at lunchtime for two reasons:

  1. It was Gems day and anywhere is better than staying in the house with them ‘singing’.
  2. I was going to get my hair cut.

Before I could escape we spoke to Hazy because it was her birthday. Hope you had a lovely day today Hazy. Twenty-one again, eh?

Didn’t even have any lunch, just drove in to The Toon and achieved both challenges at the same time. It was much, much more comfortable today. Dry (to start with) and +6ºc too. After the shearing I walked down to George Square and walked through the Christmas Market with its glittery marvels. The best of which was the stall selling Hot Mulled Buckfast. Guaranteed to take the enamel right off your teeth and rot your gut into the bargain. There just has to be an EEC regulation against the selling of this corrosive liquid.

Came back home via Asda for lentils for tonight’s dinner. That’s when the rain started and it followed me all the way home.

Got home to the news that Jamie G was on his way to London. You kept that one quiet Shannon. You posted a timetable on FB to the effect that Jamie was teaching two classes tonight, knowing that if you told the truth and said that you, yourself were teaching those classes, very few of the advanced class would arrive. Really, for the business woman you are, you should be more transparent in your dealings with your clientele. Jamie at least gave an indication that he wouldn’t be in Glasgow, but it’s still not fair on those who are paying for a monthly block of lessons. We want taught by people who know how to teach and not by those who can only teach how to do ‘Styling’ and don’t give us a chance to dance. This is a great way to lose your followers. You’ve certainly lost us. We will buy no more of your blocks, choosing for the foreseeable future to pay on a week by week basis, but in the long term … well, other opportunities may arise outside AdS.

Disappointed, but enjoyed an evening with the two sisters. Good fun, good chat and also a couple of G ’n’ Ts to relax with.

PoD was indeed the Hot Mulled Buckfast.

Tomorrow Jackie gets the early but to Skye and we may go out somewhere because it’s a Tuesday.