Blog

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Go out walking in the rain – 6 August 2017

It wasn’t the most inspiring day today. It had been, earlier on. Then we had hills from the back window, but later in the morning the hills had disappeared under a sheet of white, low lying cloud and the rain looked as if it was just about to appear. It did, and it stayed for the rest of the day.

We didn’t have any decent bread, so when I was getting the lunch sausages out of the freezer (fried lunch on a Sunday) I pulled out a 500(ish)g piece of frozen bread dough and set it to thaw out. After lunch the rain got a bit lighter, then the sun tried to come out, failed and the rain took its place again. It was about then I decided I was going out to take some photos, in the rain if necessary. So dressed in an old pair of jeans and my trusty rainy coat, I walked over to St Mo’s to feed the ducks and hopefully get some photos. The one above is my favourite. It was taken with the Nikon and a Sigma 105mm macro lens. A beautiful lens designed for taking close-ups. No zoom. It’s a Prime and with a maximum aperture of f2.8, depth of field is minimal. If none of that makes sense to you, then I’m sorry. Let’s just say this is one of my oldest and most favourite lenses.  Brilliant for beasties!

When I got back and got changed out of the sodden boots and jeans, I started to solve a puzzle that has appeared since I started using El Cap. The problem is Photos. It’s an app that is part of OSX and every time you plug in an SD card it pops up wanting to handle your photos for you. Well, actually I have my own software to do that, thank you very much, so bog off Photos. Except, it won’t, or should I say it didn’t until I fixed it today. You see, because it’s part of the operating system, it can’t be uninstalled. Actually it can, but apparently that causes more problems than it solves. I used Keyboard Maestro, a clever little piece of software that allows you to write ‘macros’ that can go behind the Mac OS and make things happen for you. What my macro does is wait until it senses that Photos has been triggered. When it has, it immediately shuts it down. It was with great satisfaction that I watched that colourful wee icon appear on the task bar, bounce a couple of times, then bog off! Isn’t technology wonderful when it works?

Went to Salsa at La Rambla. Had tapas first and it was very good indeed. Sat with Ronnie, Sharon and Peter and were entertained all through the meal. Dancing was good, but with Cameron in charge of the music, there were a few too many bachata tunes. Glad we agreed to drive instead of getting the train. About 25 minutes journey time instead of an hour and a half. Would certainly go back.

Tomorrow? More rain I think, so more walking in the rain perhaps. Today’s title is from Alex Harvey – Faith Healer.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Paisley Pattern and Siri – 5 August 2017

We were intending to go to Salsa in Paisley on Sunday and, as we hadn’t ever driven there, we planned a recce today.

Getting there was simple, even if Google Maps on my iPhone insisted on showing the route upside down. Just off the motorway we found the restaurant that hosts the Paisley Sunday Social. There were some parking areas around it, but nothing substantial and, as the social attracts a fair number of dancers, we decided to find a bigger car park. That’s when the trouble began. Paisley, it seems, has an even more complicated one-way system than is really necessary. After travelling round and round, we eventually found the exit and after a couple of wrong turnings, got parked. I’d just pushed the button for 2 hours parking when I noticed that you only need to pay on weekdays! No problem, at least we were parked.

Paisley is like most Central Scotland towns. It’s in a state of decline with frantic attempts by the council to make it look new and vibrant. It wasn’t working. Too many ‘pound shop’ variants and charity shops in the main street. A new shopping mall with only half the shops occupied. Cumbernauld without the concrete.

We wandered round the Abbey and surroundings, but didn’t even stay long enough to have a coffee. That shows how bad it was. I found some interesting buildings that I may go back and sketch and today’s PoD is one of them. It’s a former Territorial Army drill hall, now on the steep slope to Beyond Economic Repair. It was also falling into a big bucket of Photoshop tonight and that’s where the Haunted House look came from.

When we went back to pick up the car, I thought I remembered the street it was parked in. It’s the same street I drove a box van up to JIC and Andy’s new student flat! It’s a small world, Paisley.

After negotiating most of the one-way system, I foolishly followed Apple Maps which took me the wrong way down a one-way street! Never again Apple. Google maps may be upside down, but at least they are reasonably accurate. Eventually found the road back to Glasgow and late lunch at Milano. While there, I noticed that Apple Maps was still active on my phone, despite me having switched the phone off half an hour before. I switched it off – again. Meal was good as usual in Milano and when we got home I again noticed that the phone had switched itself on and was sitting on the lock screen. I got so mad at it I long-pressed the button, summoning the useless Siri. When it appeared, I shouted at it “Switch the fuckin’ phone off”. It switched off!!!

I wasn’t expecting that. Then I noticed, just as the display disappeared that power was down to 2%. That’s why it switched off, nothing to do with stupid Siri. Just coincidence.

No plans for Sunday, apart from Paisley.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Perf – 4 August 2017

Perf (or Perth). A great place for coffee, tea and lunch in any order you like.

Today I drove, although we could have gone on the bus or the train. I didn’t mind, it’s usually an interesting drive. Today, although it was fairly dry when we left, it rained for most of the journey. We listened to a Radio Scotland program while we travelled about a couple who have been to almost all the Edinburgh Festivals from 1947 to the present. They were German Jews who had come to Britain in the Kindertransport just prior to WW2. Really fascinating. Pity it was presented by Stephen Jardine. We outran the rain just before Perf.

Lunch was in Cafe Tabou which has restricted its menu a bit, but my Lamb Gigot was absolutely faultless. Scamp’s Sea Bream seemed to satisfy her too and left her with just enough space to have a Rhubarb Martini instead of a coffee to complete the meal. Choice a bit more restrictive, but quality not compromised.

Bought my coffee and much needed tea and then headed back to the car … in the rain, because the clouds had traced us to Perf and dumped some of the wet stuff on us.

Today’s PoD is of a strange architectural detail on the roof of a shop in Perf. It would make a very nice roof garden.

Tomorrow? Don’t know.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Out for a walk – 3 August 2017

This morning Scamp was out to Costa with her sister and I spent a reasonably happy hour backing up the July pics on to external hard drive. After that, I started reorganising Lightroom’s storage areas to make more sensible use of the space available. Such an interesting morning. I didn’t mind, it was raining all the time.

After lunch I took myself out in the sunshine, that had now replaced the rain, for a walk along the canal, but failed again to see the elusive kingfisher. Some day I’m sure I’ll see him again. What I did see was a family on a narrowboat sailing serenely along the canal, heading towards Auchinstarry. There was a couple at the front seated in chairs either side of the door and another three at the back, steering. The man at the front gave me a nod as they passed. It seemed such a leisurely way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Cut across the plantation and on to the railway walk, then on to Dumbreck before retracing my steps and heading back to the car along the old railway. It was only when I was crossing the plantation that I saw anything interesting and that was the flowers buds that became PoD.

Scamp made dinner today and it was a lovely stir fry.

Spoke to JIC later and got all the news on his trip to San Francisco.

Just a nice lazy day after the rain cleared, that is.

Tomorrow? Maybe Perth.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coffee for Two – 2 August 2017

It was my turn to make breakfast and while I was doing that, I unloaded last night’s dishes from the dishwasher and immediately refilled it with the remaining dishes, started it going again and returned to have breakfast in bed.

After breakfast we tidied up the remains of last night’s meal and I caught up with yesterday’s blog. Then it was off to meet Fred for coffee and a critique of each other’s artwork.

I’m beginning to really loathe Costa Coffee. Now Hazy gave me a brilliant tee shirt with the logo ‘Coffee Snob’. I may not really be a snob, but I do like my coffee tasting like coffee. Costa is becoming like Starbucks and selling Costa, not coffee. I’ve tried flat whites, americanos, cappuccinos and cortados. None of them taste anything like my own coffee from either my hard working Gaggia or my Aeropress. Cafe Nero make much better coffee in my opinion and are probably the best of the national coffee shops, but none of them are as good as the independents.

After ingesting the brown water, I drove through the rain to see what was happening at my former school. The reports of it becoming a building site proved correct. The rugby pitches are no more. It appears that the top soil has been bulldozed off and replaced with hardcore. I’m guessing that someone knows that what’s below that hardcore is peat and heavy duty piling will be in place before building construction starts.

Couldn’t really be bothered driving in to go to salsa tonight, but Scamp was keen to go. As usual, I really enjoyed the class. Came out feeling so much better than when I went in.

Not sure what I’m doing tomorrow. Scamp is meeting her sister for brown muck oops, coffee in Costa. I may go in to Glasgow.

Today’s PoD is a place marker. It is just a shot to complete today’s 365 requirement. Hopefully I’ll get something more creative tomorrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A busy day – 1 August 2017

We were having visitors from Hamilton today, so we had to stick to a tight schedule.

Scamp was up early to start the prep for the main course, then she found out that the chicken thighs weren’t as fresh as she had anticipated, so I volunteered to dive up to Tesco to replace them. With the Trinni Stew Chicken cooked to her satisfaction and the Pineapple Snow churned and freezing, we took some time out for lunch which we’d agreed would be at Torwood.

Lunch at Torwood was mini quiche in a filo basket, exactly what we’d decided to have as a starter, so in a way lunch was a final check to ensure that our recipe was correct. Scamp got a new, and much needed, pair of secateurs and a pot of parsley. I got a rhubarb plant. Wandered round the plants and made notes of things we may get later in the year for a bit of autumn colour.

When we got home, we got a text from Hazy to say they’d arrived in their holiday flat, despite a holdup at Heathrow. I started to do the prep for the starter. Such a lot of chopping for such a little thing. I was just taking the bag of coffee out of the freezer when I realised that we didn’t have a coffee pot, because I’d broken the old one a few months ago and we don’t use it except when we have guests. This time it was Scamp to the rescue, managing to get one in Tesco. Where would we be without Tesco?

Dinner menu was:

  • Starter Mini Quiche filled with cheese, chopped peppers and spring onion
  • Main Trinni Stew Chicken with rice and fried plantain
  • Puddings Pineapple Snow with Lime Chilli sauce or Summer Fruits Crumble

A good night, comparing holidays and telling tall tales.

Today’s PoD is a picture of my watercolour paintbox with its messy palette. A comment from an amateur artist like myself last year has become my maxim. “I might need that exact colour some day.” That’s why I rarely clean my palette.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Normal service has resumed – 31 July 2017

Ok, today was a better day. More like a normal Monday. Out in the morning and drive to Falkirk for some messages, then back for lunch.

After lunch I took the bike out for a run. Poor thing hasn’t been out for ages. After a couple of miles I noticed that the mileometer wasn’t recording distance and the display was dim. The dim display is solved by replacing the battery, but no amount of juggling the sender unit would encourage the miles to click up. Then I realised that the solution is in the name. The system is wireless and the unit on the forks is a sender. To send it needs a power source. Therein lies the problem and the solution, hopefully. Both sender and receiver need new batteries. I’ve never replaced the sender battery before, and I’ve had the milo for over five years. Granted it doesn’t go many miles now, but that is still good battery life.

It was a westerly wind today which meant a headwind going out but a tailwind coming home. The best situation.

Took the Teazer with me today because it’s light and slips easily into my pocket. It seems to have performed quite well, especially in macro mode. Got some interesting shots of black and yellow striped caterpillars which may be from the Cinnabar Moth. Hopefully someone on Flickr will confirm. Also caught a glance of a Burnett Moth before it was blown away on a westerly gust. That was it for wildlife. Add in a few shots of the Three Amigos (my favourite three beech trees) and that was it for photography too. Having said ‘that was it for wildlife’, I mean interesting, pretty wildlife. The air seemed to be full of ugly biting insects. For that reason alone, I was glad to leave.

I also had dinner to make before we went to salsa, and a tailwind to look forward to. Dinner was ‘Red Spaghetti’ or spaghetti with a tomato sauce to you.

Motorway was extra busy tonight. 49 minutes to the airport. 18 minutes on a good day. However we arrived almost in time which was lucky because Scamp wanted even more messages from one of the shops near the STUC.

Tonight’s move was Prado. Not its real name, so don’t bother Googling it.

And that’s July done and dusted!

Tomorrow can be summed up in two ‘C’ words. Cleaning and Cooking.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The final day of farting about – 30 July 2017

Such a lazy day.

According to my Fitbit I slept for over 8 hours last night. The first time I’ve broken the 8 hour barrier for about three weeks. To celebrate, I spent the next hour or so in bed reading ‘How to stop time’ by Matt Haig. Not quite finished it yet, so I’ll keep that pleasure until tomorrow.

Picked the rest of the peas and we had them and our potatoes with our sea trout for dinner. I did go out and take some photos of the smaller alliums in one of the rare dry spells – the rain was torrential when it came. So today’s PoD is the allium with the peas and potatoes as the runners up.

Blog is up to date now and Flickr is half way there. This blog nonsense doesn’t half take up your time. I hope you’re all enjoying reading it.

I think I’ll treat myself to a small G&T tonight to mark the end of the holiday and tomorrow it’s back to business as usual. May even go to the gym.

I did say “May”!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Continuing the journey into reality – 29 July 2017

The day dawned dull and damp, but we forced ourselves to get up and go out.

Scamp noticed the squirrel sitting at the end of our fence. It sat there for ages, ignoring the rain and high winds. Liked this shot best, so it became PoD.

We took a trip to B&Q and Dobbies to look for secateurs. What an exciting life we live eh? Didn’t get any.

Back home we lifted the second pail of potatoes and got 640g from two seed potatoes. That with our remaining peas will form the veg input to tomorrow’s dinner. Although there is a lot of water lying in the back garden and we do have a bird bath, but I have to admit that the trout we’re having wasn’t farmed in our garden.

Tonight’s dinner came courtesy of Golden Bowl. It’s ages since I had Sweet & Sour Pork Balls. Low in saturates, high in polyunsaturates and low in cholesterol. As long as you don’t eat it, that is. On the way back from Condorrat, two blokes on the radio were talking about a Pizza Crunch which is basically a cheap pizza dipped in batter and deep fried. Usually eaten with chips. That made me feel a bit better about my Chinese meal.

That was the sum and substance of our Saturday. Hopefully tomorrow will see us knocking at the door of reality.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Auld Claes and Purrich – 28 July 2017

Auld Claes and Purrich. One of my dad’s sayings, meaning back to real life after a holiday. That sums up today perfectly.

It was dry and fairly bright when we set off to do some shopping. Decided to drive to Stirling to shop in Waitrose, partly for the run and partly for a walk round the shops.

Took a couple of shots of a sow thistle growing out of a wall near the car park in Stirling, but rushed it and it turned out overexposed so badly it was out with Lightroom’s capabilities to bring it back into gamut. That’s why it’s flooers again for PoD. This time they were carefully exposed and taken on a tripod. Remarkably detailed and low(ish) grain from the Teazer which which is proving a very adaptable camera. These are Scamp’s sweet peas which she has grown from seed this year and are flowering very nicely now and just over 2m tall. A much more successful batch than last year’s.

Dinner tonight was pea and prawn risotto, the peas came from the garden. Not sweet peas, but garden peas. Ones I grew this time. Last year I got one pea plant. This year I have about seven, grown from seed I got when we visited JIC and Sim earlier in the year. There weren’t that many peas in the risotto, but they tasted good.  Partly that was due to chopping up the pea pods and boiling them with the liquid for the risotto.  Hoping to have more peas with Sunday dinner. Also hoping to have new potatoes from our second batch which I’m going to lift today.

That’s about it for a dull day back in Scotland. No plans for tomorrow.