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Italian Lunch – 8 September 2018

We decided to go in to Glasgow today. The weather disagreed.

Got the bus in to town. The weather was fine when we left. There is no reason to drive in when we can take the bus. No parking charges, no petrol being used, no limit on the amount of alcohol we get to consume 🙂 What’s not to like?

Took the subway out to the West End. To Kelvinbridge to be more precise and walked along in the direction of Paesano, but we didn’t quite reach it in the rain. We stopped instead at La Lanterna West End. We’d been there before, away back in June. This was it’s first birthday and there were balloons round an archway at the door. We stopped to look at the menu, but I knew by the look on Scamp’s face that “Resistance is Useless” as the Vogon guard said in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We were going to LLWE. Starter for both of us were the same: Fishcakes. But such good fishcake. Probably the best I’ve tasted. Scamp’s Cod with Genovese Potatoes wasn’t such a hit. The cod was dry she said and Scamp is never wrong about fish. My Pasta with Salsiccia was ok, but with far too much creamy Gorgonzola. I know we sound like foodies, but we’re paying for this and we expect it to be cooked properly. For once, we had dessert. Scamp’s was Stewed Apple something and I had Tiramisu. Both were very good, although the tiramisu could have done with just a drop or two of alcohol in it.
Like last time, the restaurant was noisy, but there were only three tables being used. It’s not the people, it’s the hard walls and floor. There’s no soft furnishings to soak up the noise. Nice and airy though, not like La Lanterna in town. Not impressed. We might not be back for a while.

By the time we came out the weather had deteriorated quite a bit and it was truly miserable. We were going to walk up to Byres Road, but we just retraced our steps to Kelvinbridge and got the train back to Glasgow and then the bus home. Strangely, when we got back the sun was shining. Now that must be a first for Cumbersheugh. Actually brighter here than anywhere else!

After an hour long snooze, I decided to go out on Dewdrop for a last bramble hunt and maybe a PoD, because the sun was still shining. I got 400g brambles and the above photo. It didn’t look like much when I downloaded it, but after some judicious application of level adjustment and some colour saturation work it started to shine.

I spotted a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye lens on MPB tonight. My old Olympus 9mm fisheye is getting a bit long in the tooth and the focus lever is starting to move of its own volition so I’ve been watching for the Samyang to appear for months now. I snapped it up. It’s due to come on Tuesday.

The other thing we did today was to set up mail on Scamp’s new ‘puter. Windows 10 is a nightmare to set up mail on. However, after only and hour’s swearing it was done. That’s not bad. Then, when I was out cycling, Scamp set up the printer all by her own wee self! Well done you, Scamp.

Tomorrow we may go to Mango to dance in a strange place.

Computing – 7 September 2018

Not so much computing, more looking for computers

We finally gave up on Scamp’s old laptop this morning and decided to cut our losses and go for a new one. Currys in Bishopbriggs was the place to go with a better selection than JL. After much indecision, soul searching and cups of coffee, she eventually settled on an HP 14” laptop, only to find that they didn’t have one in the store, the nearest store that did have one was Braehead, in fact it had eight. Braehead is on the other side of Glasgow.

The Juke’s satnav knew where it was and delivered us to the door. It was like walking into a time machine. This store looked exactly like the one we’d just left twenty minutes before, and I mean exactly! Even down to the displays all being the same with the same machines and in the same places. Weird. That’s the great thing about AutoCad. The architect draws one building and simply adjusts the sizes slightly to suit different ground areas and bang. You have cloned another store. It’s almost like there’s a factory somewhere churning out Currys PC World stores to order.

Anyway, we found the laptop easily because, of course, it was in exactly the same place relative to the front door. That’s where the efficiency ended. Lots of black clad Currys PC World employees looking busy, carrying pieces of paper or clipboards. Nobody ever questions you if you’re carrying a piece of paper. Even less likelihood of an questions being asked if you’ve got a clipboard in your hand. Eventually after about fifteen minutes of standing being ignored by all the sales people, a lady with a clipboard asked if she could help. Scamp said “Yes, I want that one.” The lady said she’d put us in the queue and told us there was one gentleman in the queue before us. She didn’t write our name on the clipboard, which was probably just for show and after another then minutes our assistant arrived. Scamp repeated her “Yes, I want that one” speech and off we went to get the order processed. He gaily typed the details into the computer and told us they only had one, the display model. When he turned the monitor around to prove it, Scamp noticed it was a totally different model. He grumbled something about it being the right model and when he returned, he had a piece of paper and told us that someone (?) had put the wrong model name in front of the computer. Not so, we’d already checked. Half a dozen times. We’d had about 25 minutes to make sure while we waited. The new bit of paper had the correct model number and there were now thirteen models of that type in stock. I think they breed them in that warehouse.

Long story short, we finally got the ‘puter. We didn’t even have to endure the refusal to purchase Mickysoft Office 365 or the insurance package. I think he just wanted us to go. As we left we had to surrender our invoice so the guard at the door could check that we weren’t stealing a laptop, or buying a memory stick and trying to get through the exit carrying a laptop. I’m still not sure what that was all about.

Setup at home was the usual overdone Mickysoft pantomime, but in the end was fairly painless. We even managed to remove the old Micksoft Office Home from my old Tosh and release the license so that it could be installed in the new computer. By the way, it’s a 14″ HP with an i5 processor, 8GB memory and 128GB SSD. Just in case you wanted to know. 128GB isn’t much once you count in the room needed for Windows 10 and all it’s airs and graces. So once I got the hard drive out of the old HP we copied only the necessary files on to the new one.  I am reliably informed that Jigsaw World works perfectly.

After that I went a walk to St Mo’s and got today’s PoD there, before returning to make the best spaghetti I’ve made in years. The secret was some extra special Italian tinned tomatoes. Lovely thick sauce in them. Cirio Pulpa, look for them.

My apologies to JIC for the superexcess of Technospeak in today’s blog.

Tomorrow we’re going out somewhere, anywhere but Currys PC World.

Just when you think you’ve solved the problems – 6 September 2018

Another one pops up its ugly head.

<Technospeak>
Today’s problem came this morning. Scamp told me her laptop wasn’t charging, did we have another power supply? Well, yes we had another two laptop power supplies, but neither of them had the same connector as Scamp’s. However, armed with a voltmeter I checked the output voltage of her power supply and it was fairly close to the specification of 18v. It was actually running at 19.4v, but it has been running at that for seven years now and hasn’t given any problems until today. I didn’t reckon that was the problem.
I prowled the InterWeb looking for someone with the same problem and there were a few. The supposed best solution was to remove the battery and power supply then hold down the power switch on the laptop for at least 15 seconds to “possibly reset the CMOS”. I didn’t like the ’possibly’ part, but I tried it anyway. Replaced the battery and the power supply. It didn’t work. I then tried removing the battery as someone suggested and just connecting the power supply. It didn’t work. Reseat the memory? That didn’t work.
Powered up the iMac and loaded Google and told Scamp to use it to look for a new laptop while I went to the physio.
</Technospeak>

He listened to my update on all things knee and pronounced that part of the problem is with my hamstrings which seem to have become irritated (or irradiated) along with the ligaments. Four needles and a blast or two with the laser settled it down a bit. Two weeks off and then we’ll have an update. We talked bikes and cycling for the rest of the hour.

Between me swearing at Scamp’s HP and getting my two-weekly perforation with needles, the plumber had arrived and groaned when he saw the limited space available to him to fit the new tap. Half an hour and a lot of huffing and puffing later the tap was fitted and working and although it does produce one drip ever 15 minutes or so, it seems as if it works.

The problem with the power supply is still there. One possible solution is to replace the CMOS battery which is a tiny capsule containing a 1.5v hearing aid battery with a twist of red and white wires that connect to a socket on the motherboard. You can buy them in Maplin for about £2. And there is the problem. Maplin is no more. So now I have to source the battery. Probably Amazon will have them for £1 with £3 P&P. It would be nice it it worked. It might.

Today’s PoD, a seed pod, was seen in St Mo’s in a little bit of sunshine between rain, thunder and lightning and scarily heavy hail showers. A bit of a mixed day weatherwise.

Tomorrow we go laptop hunting I think.

Sorting out problems – 5 September 2018

As well as sorting problems, we also did a bit of dancing.

We were out fairly early and in Glasgow for a 12 o’ clock start. We started with waltz and picked up another few tips, just tweaks really. Some made little difference, others made things a lot easier. Next it was Quickstep to which we added a few more steps. Lastly a couple of runs through our Tango. In the second half there were two Jive classes running concurrently with two teachers again, now that Ann Marie had returned from Oz. Only three of us today, so it was almost a private lesson. We added to last week’s Lindy Hops and practised The Dance of the Seven Spins once more.

When we came back I phoned the plumber and ordered the fitting of the new kitchen tap. He’s coming tomorrow and hopefully by tomorrow afternoon we should have a shiny new tap that doesn’t drip. Problem one dealt with.

Later in the afternoon I took the panda on in the Dewdrop for a photoshoot and to get some more brambles (just over half a kilo). This was to be a simpler setup than yesterday. This would be a mountain climbing panda. Actually it’s a big boulder that somebody has hit with a van or a lorry. I know how that’s done now! The result was a big broken corner that made a lovely rock face of a mountain. The background was a sunset taken from the upstairs back window about a year ago. It’s amazing the lies you can tell with a computer, a decent bit of software and a bit of imagination.

Dancing tonight was a mixed lot. Far too many men, so I sat out for a while, only for more folk to join. That’s when I started writing this blog. Then I got fed up and danced for the last twenty minutes of the class.

When we came home, in fact just five minutes ago, I finally signed up for AppleCare. I think their website was having a bad day the last time I tried to sign up. So now I have two extra years insurance on the iMac, another weight off my mind. Problem two sorted.

Hopefully I’ll get my knee sorted tomorrow at the physio and that will be another tick in another box. Always hopeful. Totally unlike me!  Oh yes, and fingers still crossed, but the leeks survived the day.  The bird keeper outer is working DV.

Taking lego into the real world – 4 September 2018

Something I hadn’t thought about before I saw there was a group on Flickr devoted to it. So I tried it, and it worked.

The day began with Scamp going out for coffee with one of her friends. I stayed in, half intending to slap some watercolour on a bit of paper, but inspiration wasn’t there, so I started into my plan to thwart those pesky birds I suspect of stealing my leeks. Twice, or is it three times now, I’ve planted leeks and watered them in, only to find that they’d disappeared the next morning. JIC has now had the same problem. I don’t think it’s slugs because there is no sparkly slime across the raised bed and besides it’s been dosed twice now with slug nemesis nematodes. It must be birds. When I asked Colin last week, he agreed that the wee feathered buggers were the culprits. I had thought of buying a shotgun, but that was a bit severe and besides, the pellets would probably damage the kale that’s growing quite well now. Then there would be the noise and I don’t want the polis coming to the door asking if I have a license for a firearm. No prevention is better than cure, quieter and less damaging to the environment too.
I’d already planned it out, sort of, so I got some bamboo canes and cut them to size then used cable ties to tie them together at the top to … Now look, this is far too difficult to describe. Imagine a ridge tent. An inefficient ridge tent because it’s covered, not with canvas, but with netting. That’s the basis of the bird keeper outer. Hopefully it will work. We shall see in the morning. If the leeks are still there then it was a success. If not it’s on to the internet to find a supplier of shotguns. Ebay, that’s the place to go. Ebay for the Dark Web perhaps.

When Scamp came home the bird keeper outer was finished and looking … reasonable. I had just finished my lunch and was thinking that I might go out in the sunshine and take some of my lego weemen out for a run on the Dewdrop. Weemen were originally all men, but now some female minifigs have made their way into their midst but the name can still apply because the singular for a woman in West Central Scots is Wummin and the plural is Weemen, so it works. Set up the scenario on a bit of waste ground covered with big rough chipping. Set the camera up on a tripod and shot ten or so frames while moving the lady road mender around between each. Back home I layered up the shots and used masks to remove the bits I didn’t want and reveal the weemen. Like the bird keeper outer it’s easier to see than explain and it doesn’t need any cable ties either. The resulting image is PoD.

I think we are on our way to getting the dripping tap fixed. Unfortunately it looks like we’ll need a new tap, rather than fixing the old one. I was coming round to that conclusion after so many plumbers seemed to reject the idea of fixing the old tap. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I just want the Japanese water torture to stop. It’s driving me more crazy than normal.

Guess what happened today. Michael phoned to change the time of tomorrow’s class to an hour earlier. Actually it suits us better to go then, because it opens up the afternoon. So dancing tomorrow.

Another patient transfer – 3 September 2018

Not such an early appointment today.

Drove Shona in to Glasgow to ‘The Royal’ for her pre-op. Just a gentle drive to a 1pm appointment. However, when I was leaving the car park I managed to scrape the bottom of the rear passenger door on a really low metal boundary fence/pipe. If the car hadn’t had such good ground clearance, it would have been much worse. As it is, it’s just another dink to add to the Juke’s tally. So far it’s been:

  • July – Scrape along passenger’s side front wing when some eejit tried to scrape past me in Tesco car park. Fairly easily removed with Brasso (T Cut) and a scratch repair kit)
  • August – Dent from an over exuberant and spatially unaware Audi driver ( Dash cam caught the incident and was handed to police to deal with)
  • September – Today’s prang. May need expert assistance to get it sorted properly. My own stupid fault.

They say bad luck comes in threes. Let’s hope that’s me paid up to date.

While I was in Glasgow and before the bump, I got today’s PoD which is the clock tower of the Blind Asylum in Castle Street. Actually, the Blind Asylum is now a multi storey car park with only the clock tower to show where it stood. Each clock on the hexagonal tower is at a different time. I don’t think there is any significance to that. They just stopped at different times and as the tower has now fallen into disrepair, nobody started them again.

We went in early to salsa tonight to lend our experience to a beginners class. However, there were only about nine beginners, nine people, not nine couples, so we just went through to another room and practised our ballroom dances instead.

Our own advanced class were doing Tornado as not many of them had done it before. We had and it’s one of Scamp’s favourite moves, so we WERE helpers for that class.

Tomorrow? Scamp’s out to lunch and I think I’m phoning around for a plumber to fix our drippy tap.
Oh yes, and Shona passed her pre-op without any problem so the actual op may be happening sooner rather than later.

A much less ‘clicking finger’ day – 2 September 2018

Yesterday I took 856 photos, most of them out of focus or just rubbish. Today I hoped for much less.

Lazy start to the day where I turned over after reading another couple of chapters of Record of a Spaceborn Few. “Nearly there,” I keep telling myself, “Nearly there.” Some books are like that. Usually the second book in a trilogy. This is the third book in what might be a trilogy, or it might not … It’s a trilogy for me!

Finally dragged myself up into a vertical position about 11am and ventured downstairs for a second look at yesterday’s airies. (Fixed the spellchecker problem last night, so no more ‘fairies’!).

After lunch I took my tired old D7000, the ‘big dog’, over to St Mo’s to look for beasties. Found some dragonflies, not DeHavilland Dragonflies, but real ones and managed to get a fairly good, clear macro of the head of one of these scary beasties. I rightly judged that it would be my PoD. Lots of other little beasties feasting on blue Scabious flowers, but none as close-up as the dragon’s head.

Back home and changed to go to Salsa in Paisley. Enjoyed the night where leaders outnumbered followers in a ratio of about 2:1. So strange. So, not many Old Firm supporters among our salsa crew then? Back home it was home made chilli for me and veg fried rice for Scamp. Sat with dinner on our laps and watched Vettel put himself out of the race with a charge into Hamilton. I like neither of them, but Vettel is probably the worst driver of the two and the most petulant. Anyway, it made for a slightly more interesting race than normal, which is a change.

Tomorrow I’m taking Shona to Glasgow for her pre-op. Other than that, it’s a free day. If it’s dry I may do some sketching. More photos from yesterday are now on Flickr.

Another Saturday among the Airies – 1 September 2018

Will we, won’t we go to see the airies? We will! WE WILL!!

The airies (I do wish my spell checker wouldn’t change ‘airies’ to ‘fairies’) were taking part in the Scottish International Air Show.  At Ayr, just to confuse things even more.  The reason for our indecision was the weather.  It was raining at home, hopefully it wouldn’t be raining at the coast. Since the trains would be busy and there was a reduced service due to an unsafe building next to Ayr train station, we decided to take the bus. It would be full of ‘pensioners’ using their bus pass, but as we fit into that demographic too, we can’t complain. Bus journey was fine and for once the connection between the X3 and the X77 worked perfectly. Followed the crowd down to the beach where the air show was to be staged. It’s the first time I’ve been to this show, but my favourite venue of Leuchars is no longer an air base and we were on holiday and missed the other Scottish Air Show at East Fortune. Hopefully this would be a good replacement. The fact that it was free had nothing to do with our decision!

Arrived at the show area on the Low Green, just above the beach to find that it hadn’t started. I thought at first that they were waiting for us to arrive, but apparently they were waiting for the weather to improve and the cloud ceiling to lift. The rain that had followed us all the way from Cumbersheugh to Ayr had halted, but the clouds were still hanging low and visibility, although improving, wasn’t great. However it gave me time to grab a photo of Scamp and her favourite helicopter, the Chinook, or ‘Double Twirly’ to give it its proper name.
After about fifteen minutes or so of hanging about, the announcement was made that the Typhoon was taxiing at Prestwick. Now that would be a sight to see as you waited for your Ryanair flight, a Eurofighter Typhoon taking off!

Unfortunately the Typhoon didn’t get to show what its 1:1 power to weight ratio could do, because of the low cloud base, but it was noisy and it was fast and it made my PoD when the pilot switched on the afterburner! It was an absolute bugger to photograph, slipping in and out of focus all the time.

I won’t bore you with a list of all the planes that we saw performing, but the stand out ones for me were the DC3 and three Beech 18s formation, the Catalina and the superbly noisy and fast F18. Such a scary beast. Photos of these and others are on Flickr.

Watched the immaculate Red Arrows go through their routine with inch perfect precision. In formation all the planes’ wings were aligned perfectly and the pilots’ spatial awareness must be super accurate. They closed the show and then the rush started to get to cars, trains and buses. We just managed to get on the X77, and I mean JUST. There were eight seats left on the bus and we were four and five in the queue.

Bus back to Condorrat and a Special Fish Supper each to end a Special day. It wasn’t perfect. The Battle of Britain aircraft didn’t make it because of poor weather and there were lengthy gaps in the programme, but all in all it was enjoyable. Best of all it was free.

Tomorrow? Dancing in the afternoon, that’s all that’s planned.

Ladybirds, Spiders and Mini Trees – 31 August 2018

All in a days walk for me.

Scamp was out with the witches today for lunch, a late lunch where drink would be taken. Gentlemen were not invited, they were the taxi drivers. We know our place.

I painted for a while in the peace and quiet of the house and sort of improved yesterday’s Inktense disaster. It’s still a work in progress, but the acrylic paint does give a depth that the Inktense couldn’t quite achieve. I added another layer to it tonight after the initial layers had dried and liked the contrast that was created. You may never see it, it’s really a development sketch if I was going to be po faced about it. I’m sure there will be other iterations before it is ready for canvas and oils.

There are really disruptive roadworks with four phase traffic lights down at St Mo’s school this week and they are causing a lot of bother. Because of that I delivered Scamp to the restaurant before starting on the painting. While the painting was drying, I took the Duke out through the roadworks again to fill it with petrol and also to get some photos. I drove up to the back of Fannyside and found a little dragonfly sitting on the grass. Unfortunately the shots weren’t too sharp, so they will never see the light of day, I fear. Then I saw a long legged spider and a white spotted, orange ladybird having a .Mexican standoff’. It was a bit of a toss up, but the ladybird won the day. Just across the road I saw the fencepost with the miniature trees growing out of it. No doubt they had grown from seeds dropped by birds or seeds excreted by birds.

I was just walking down the road when I checked my phone and found that my three hours of peace and quiet were at an end and Scamp was requesting her taxi.

That was a good day, with good weather, painting, photography and a little bit of nature too.

Two Firsts & A Second! – 30 August 2018

Four quid too!

Scamp was out in the morning and that gave me time to start painting my latest masterpiece. It was to be an abstract seascape. I tried using the Inktense sticks, but they didn’t look right once they were down. I think the colours are too ‘cold’, especially the blues. I’ll probably just paint over it again with acrylic tomorrow.

After that and after hanging out the washing, I went to meet Val and Colin. Coffees all round. Fred was missing because he’d to stay in to keep the plumbers on the right lines when they were rebuilding his bathroom. Colin very kindly brought my photos and painting back from the flower show, along with my winnings. Four quid for two firsts and a second! The little piggy watercolour got a first and the landscape of Quiraing also got a first in the photography section. My favourite landscape, Murdo’s old tractor with the Quiraing behind it only got a second. Now it could have been that there were on two photographs and one painting in the competition, I don’t know because we were down in England at the time, but Colin did say that competition was tough, so I’m thinking that’s good enough for me. I’m now considering entering the little piggy in the Venice Biennale. I think it has a fighting chance.

Came home and realised that I didn’t have a photo for today, so got my cycling shorts and long sleeved top on and took the Dewdrop out on the back road to Kirkintilloch. That’s where I got the PoD. I also got a fairly good shot of these four horses in a field under a glowering sky, but the landscape felt more luminous, so it won.

Fell off the bike on the way back. I think the SPDs need some adjustment or maybe some grease. Left shoe is sticking a lot. Amazingly, the right pedal is fine although it’s caked in dried mud. The left one is shiny clean and it’s the one that’s sticking. Can’t fathom it out. I’ll grease them and see if that helps. No harm done in the fall, just my pride, but luckily there was no-one there to see me!

Dinner tonight deserves special mention. It was Chicken Milanese with potatoes and a big hunk of broccoli. Scamp showing just how good a cook she is. Absolutely delicious.

Tomorrow Scamp is out to lunch with the witches. May take the Dewdrop out again along the same road as today. I’ve a hankering to climb the Kirky Volcano. It’s actually an old pit bing, but from certain angles it looks like a volcano.