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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.

Cold and Frosty Morning – 1 December 2019

The rest of the day didn’t get much warmer.

Actually, I just realised tonight that we’d both achieved “out before 11am” today by accident rather than on purpose. The annual Santa Run, or Santa Dash or to give it its name this year Christmas Cracker 5k, started at 11am at Broadwood Stadium and we were standing waiting for the runners just before the start time. I felt sorry for the runners, there were more dog walkers than crowds of cheering punters there to see them off, but they didn’t seem to mind. Neither did they seem to mind the sub zero temperature or the freezing fog that covered the course. Two enterprising folk were trying to film the race using a drone. Good luck with that folks, you could hardly see the runners when they were about 100m away, even with their Pound Shop red Santa suits. That said, I commend them for their efforts and for the efforts of those who stood in the cold to cheer them on, all ten of them, and finally, the organisers who directed the runners round the correct way. It looked like almost everyone enjoyed it, everyone, that is except one wee toddler who was bawling when mum, dad and wean passed us about a quarter the way round the circuit. We went home to a house with heating on full and had lunch!

Not so lucky 10,000 houses in Falkirk without any gas because a valve had broken and the gas board couldn’t tell when it would be fixed. Tonight they don’t seem to be any further forward.

Actually that was the total of our ventures outside today. The temperature didn’t rise above freezing and now it’s -3ºc. It looks like we might get some less cold weather in the next few days. I hope so, because I’ve committed myself to getting my hair cut this week. We were meant to be going dancing tonight in Glasgow, but we both agreed it would be better to stay home.

PoD was a person wearing a Santa beard at the start line of the race. I don’t believe that’s a real beard!

With a bit of luck, Jackie is coming down to Embra tomorrow and staying with us on Monday night. June is expected for dinner and I’m being allowed to go to Salsa by myself! We’ll see how that turns out, or even if that turns out

A bit more relaxed day – 30 November 2019

Done my bit for the ‘up early and out’ brigade.

Today was cold, really cold -3ºc when we woke. Sun was shining, but it wasn’t making much of a difference to the frozen cars in the street. Definitely a day for taking things a bit slower.

Finally in the afternoon we decided we needed the basics. Dinner for tonight, some veg and some bread. Dressed for the winter weather which was now a temperate one point something above zero and headed down to the shops. Got the bread, the veg and a chicken for tonight’s dinner and walked back.

After the walk, it didn’t seem all that cold, so rather than taking off all my layers, I simply changed my trainers for boots, grabbed a camera and went to St Mo’s to test out their new footpaths. Actually it was just a compressed hardcore base, not an actual asphalt footpath. Maybe that’s still to come, or maybe that’s as much as the finances will stretch to. After all, NLC councillors annual Christmas junket must be on the horizon now and of course that will take precedence. Anyway, the lighting was good and I got a few moody shots. Enough to give Lightroom and Photo Raw something to get their teeth into.

Got some more detailed shots of the Hair Ice I saw yesterday. Took a quick photo of it on my phone purely to get a GPS fix on it, but the phone placed it about a mile and a half away, in the middle of a housing estate. Weird! But then again, I don’t suppose Mr Android and Mrs Google had ever been to Cumbersheugh, so how would they know.

That was about it for the day. Chicken was lovely. The bread is uneaten as yet and the veg will hopefully go to making soup tomorrow. PoD was a shot of the lovely frosted reed stems poking from a frozen pond, looking like early Christmas trees.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to dance at the Sunday Social in The Record Factory, but it does depend on the weather.

Out before 11am? – 29 November 2019

That’s just too easy!

I didn’t even bother to have a shower before I went out this morning (filfy beast). I just got up and went out and the first shot was taken at 9.39am. Unfortunately, at 9.38am I realised I’d forgotten to put the Oly in my bag and the camera I had, the Teazer2, wasn’t set to take sensible photos. I don’t know what buttons I’d pressed on it the last time I’d used it, but the ISO was set at 80 (just usable). The touch screen didn’t work (don’t know why). It wouldn’t focus any closer than about 1metre. Quite simply it was AAaaargh!!! Easiest way out of this mess was to use the magic 4K photo. That’s what I did. Once I had one in the bag that I knew was in focus somewhere in the fifty odd shots this remarkable camera takes in a second and a half, I applied logic and reset it to factory settings and once I’d switched on the RAW setting and switched off the annoying beep, we were sort of in business. First worthwhile shot was 9.51. Not bad after such a poor start. Of course what I should have done was go home, pick up the Oly and start again, but the light was changing and I didn’t want to waste it. I got a few shots that looked as if they’d be useable once they’d been Lightroomed into submission. Also saw some Hair Ice. Read about it, but this is the first time I’ve seen it. Strange looking and feeling stuff. Went home, cold but reasonably happy.

Back home Scamp had guessed that I’d want the coffee machine on and it was warming up nicely when I got in. Once I’d thawed out and had looked at the results of the mornings work, and with a cup of hot Cuban coffee in me, I felt more human and knew I had at least one shot in the bag.

After that I footered (another great word) about for a while adjusting that and pruning that and generally wasting time until lunch, because it was still cold. When I went out it was just cresting the zero line. Now it was a fairly tropical 4ºc. Scamp was going out in the afternoon with the witches to celebrate one of them being released from a life of bondage at HMRC. That meant I had the afternoon and early evening to myself.

First things first, after she left, I started cooking the mince for my favourite Mince ’n’ Tatties with a slice of beetroot, except there were no tatties, so I had to bundle up again and drive down to M&S to get some. I thought the new shops would be a flash in the pan thing, but it really is becoming a boon, not having to drive round the new traffic calmed roundabout and up the road to Tesco. Yes, they are a great idea.

Finally got round to programming the second light controller for the living room. We’ve only had it for about ten years! Now we have two controlled lights. Progress!

Watched another episode of His Dark Materials although the TIVO box nearly gave up the ghost the first two times I tried to view the recording. I think we may need a new one, or possibly a new provider. Virgin Media are not the most helpful company in the world. Brilliant computer graphics in the scenes of The North. Totally believable.

Scamp arrived back home just after 8pm, driven back with Jeanette by James. I wonder if Jeanette has ever said those famous words “Home James!” Must ask her sometime.

PoD was a shot from the morning. Camera placed gingerly on the ice of a frozen pond and shutter triggered by a 2 second timer. Great idea, old technology in a very able camera.

Hopefully going out to lunch tomorrow although temperatures of -4ºc predicted overnight.

A good talking to – 28 November 2019

A better day … eventually.

Woke under a cloud, not a literal cloud because the sky was clear, but a rather black cloud that followed me about all morning. Helped Scamp tidy up the back garden. Well, I carried some of the cuttings round to the council compost bin. Cut back the two buddleia bushes and Scamp did all the rest. She didn’t seem to mind that it was cold. She had a big jacket on and I hadn’t, but that wasn’t the point, she never seems to mind the cold, especially when she’s working in the garden. Me? I always feel the cold, except when I’m taking photos of course. It used to be when I was fishing in the winter I wouldn’t feel the cold until my fingers stopped working and I had to go through that pins and needles stage, getting the blood to flow again. I made the excuse that I was going to heat up the soup for lunch and went inside.

After lunch I got her to go through yesterday’s move with me and … damnation, I’d been doing it wrong all that time. I should have been spinning on the ball of my foot. Instead I was walking round. It had the same effect, but my walking method wasn’t right. Should have known that the teacher was right. Teachers are always right, aren’t they. Unless they’re also pupils, then the water get muddied. I think that started the puncturing of the black cloud, that and a good talking to by Scamp. I felt a bit better after that. She then encouraged me (read ‘told me’) to go our for a walk.

Drove to Cumbersheugh station, parked and went for a walk down by the Luggie Water. That’s where the longer and final ‘good talking to’ happened. The remains of my black cloud lifted and dissolved in the wintry sunshine. It’s also where I got today’s PoD which is a wee thistle/dandelion plant’s parachute seedbeds that may or may not manage to blow away and start a new plant where the wind takes them. Came home feeling much, much better.

On the way back, I drove past the school and my old department is now gone. Bulldozed, flattened ready to be crushed to make the hardcore for what will be the playing fields of the new school. I quite like the idea that it will stay there in the campus. Still fulfilling a purpose. Of the destroying tank, there was no sign.

Watched the Elton John documentary tonight and enjoyed every minute. Good to hear someone open up like that. Maybe it’s something we should all do if we can do it to someone we trust. There’s a moral there somewhere.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but it’s going to be cold tonight. Should have put the blanket on the rosemary bush. Probably being a taxi driver for Scamp tomorrow night.

Out before 11am – 27 November 2019

Success!

It was a foggy morning, but by the time I was up and dressed, it was just misty. Scamp went out to go to the chemist and when she got back I took the initiative and went our for a walk to see the work being done on St Mo’s and also to get some photos, although the mist had gone by then. Work seems to be progressing quite well. The asphalt teams were still busy laying paths and probably one of them in particular was lying on the paths! (See Monday’s post if you don’t understand that last sentence.). I got a few shots and one or two were worth becoming PoD. But the time I was coming home, the sun was breaking through the clouds and spreading its light on the Campsie Fells. Best of all, I’d just got out before the 11am deadline. Feeling quite pleased with myself.

Drove to Glasgow and we thought we’d danced our new routine quite well. There were some mistakes, but not too many. Then Anne Marie wanted to go back reprise Over The Rainbow. Again, I made a couple of mistakes, but nothing too serious, I thought. AM then proceeded to make me repeat and repeat one of the moves until I said “Enough” and walked off. One way to make sure someone fails is to make them repeat and repeat a mistake they’ve made the first time. As a teacher you learn that three is the magic number. If a pupil repeats the same mistake three times, making them repeat it for another three is going to be counterproductive. Leave it. Move on. Come back to it later when, hopefully, the grey matter has managed to unfankle (brilliant word) itself. But she wouldn’t leave it, that’s why I said “Enough”. I felt bad afterwards because I know Scamp enjoys the Wednesday ballroom and jive class and my actions today denied her that enjoyment. I may go back next week, but right now I’m not so sure, and that makes me feel worse.

We walked back into town to get some Christmas prezzies for Scamp’s friends and while she was in the shop I managed to get the makings of today’s PoD. Like I’ve often said, taking the shot is done in a couple of seconds, the making of the photograph takes a lot longer. Workflow tonight was Lightroom to ON1 2019 to Lightroom, but I was happy with the result. The sky was taken from another photo, but was representative of what I saw in the finder. No, I didn’t use Luminar4 with its AI. I relied again on LOI. The finished thing got PoD.

“Tomorrow”, Scamp says “is another day.” Let’s hope it’s better than today’s disaster.

Coffee – 26 November 2019

Three auld guys moaning.

The three auld guys in question were Fred, Val and myself. It was more of a discussion than a moan today. We hadn’t met for quite some time, so there was a lot to discuss. Books exchanged, new tech demonstrated and coffee drunk. Even made plans for a bite to eat and a possible pint in Glasgow soon. Thankfully no politics muddied the the waters.

Drove home and found that my much needed tea and always needed coffee had been delivered by the DPD man. Such a clever and useful delivery service, flexible too. Worth the three quid I paid for it.

Scamp wasn’t feeling too great but she was still having lunch when I got back. It was too wet to go back out again and I had no notion of what I could photograph in the dull, dark landscape, and anyway it was raining, so I settled for an inside ‘flooer’ photo instead. When Scamp came back she got a phone call from the doc’s to say that there was a prescription for antibiotics waiting for her. I volunteered to go for it as it was getting dark now. I didn’t even bother to take a camera. Flooers it was then.

When I got back from the chemist and after a quick raid of Tesco, I made some soup along the lines of Scamp’s Just Soup and that was dinner with a couple of slices of good bread. Not home made bread, but good all the same.

<Technospeak>
Thought I could do the fancy 4K Post Focus trick with the new camera but then realised if I was going to use room lighting with low ISO it wouldn’t work. The Post Focus trick takes about twenty odd shots in 1-2 seconds. To get them all taken in that short time, it needs to use electronic shutter and the electronic shutter don’t work with exposure times greater than 1/30th of a second. Basically, this is a bright daylight only trick. Bummer.
</Technospeak>

Got the shot done using the E-M1 and it’s a rose from some cut flowers. Not exactly what I had in mind, but it works, and it’s PoD.

I was playing around with a trial version of a new prog called Luminar4. It has the amazing ability to change the sky in a landscape instantly to any one of about 40 different ones. It apparently uses AI to accomplish it. It really is a brilliant trick, but where’s the fun in doing it instantly when you can take an hour or so in Lightroom and ON1 to do it with a lot of swearing? AI? Not for me I prefer LOI. Lack Of Intelligence.  Typical result below.  Original sky on the left.

Tomorrow if we’re fit we’re hoping to go dancing.

Up and out before 11am – 25 November 2019

Well, that didn’t happen.

It was a great plan and would have worked too if it hadn’t been raining. To be honest, it had been raining all night and the morning was just the continuation of the deluge. Maybe I shouldn’t call it a deluge, it was mainly just rain in all its glorious variations, but whatever variation it was in, I wasn’t going out in it, at least not yet.

By lunchtime and with Gems looming, I decided I’d go “For the messages”. Scamp gave me a list. I put on my big Bergy jacket and drove off to get some food. Raided Tesco and got everything on the list and a few more things too, and still it rained. Came home, put away the messages, grabbed my camera and went for a walk in the rain.

They were actually laying tarmac on the paths round St Mo’s pond when I went over and I saw the strangest sight. My brother has a saying “The things you see when you haven’t got a gun.” The thing I saw today was a bloke in the full hi-vis rain suit lying stretched out on the freshly tarmacked path while the aforementioned rain fell continuously. I was just getting worried for his safety or mental state when he got up and stretched in a leisurely way. I imagine the warm tarmac was quite comfortable to lie on. I just hope there’s not a man shaped depression on the finished footpath. Maybe a ‘tarmac angel’. Of course I had a camera, but I’d only brought a short lens with me and wouldn’t have been able to get a good shot of it, but what a shot that would have been!

Found a few bits of wildlife around and about, mainly in and on the trees. Tiny wee snail about 4mm long, a fly that presumably had hatched in the relatively warm spell we’re having. Similarly a shield bug, bright green underneath and dull green and brown on top. Perfect camouflage when sitting on the bark of a tree. The fly won PoD.

After dinner we drove in to Glasgow to find that Shannon was taking the class. Big disappointment and big surprise to even the other young teachers. We vamoosed to the kitchen area and practised our jive, quickstep and waltz for a while. Scamp hadn’t been feeling too good today because she has waterworks problems and they were making theirselves felt towards the end of our enforced practise, so we left early after warning everyone coming in that Shannon was taking Jamie’s class. We’re guessing after some research by Scamp that he’d been caught out by a train blockage between Aberdeen and Edinburgh. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and let it be.

Scamp may be going to lunch with Mags tomorrow all being well and I might be having coffee with Val and Fred all being well. We’ll wait and see. It’s still raining!

Dull, Foggy and Wet – 24 November 2019

Typical Sunday!

Drove to B&Q in the morning to get some Jeyes Fluid to clean our smelly dustbin. We’ve definitely got some. I know because I bought it last year. After spending about an hour searching everywhere it could have been we gave up and bit the bullet. I went to B&Q to spend £3.50 on a new bottle. Hardly worth the effort of searching every cupboard in the house, only to come up empty handed. It was just as I reached B&Q that I drove into the fog. The motorway had been misty, but B&Q’s microclimate turned that into thick fog. Drove back out of it on the way home and it remained misty here for the rest of the day.

Took a walk to St Mo’s in the afternoon to try for some moody shots in the rain. The light was a bit too low for the new Teazer2 to do its best work, but the Oly came up trumps and got the best shot of the day, the little spider on its wet web. That became PoD

Spoke to JIC in the evening and discussed managing people, Welsh folk with guns and sports massage! Watched another slow episode of His Dark Materials. It’s certainly dark, but does it have to be so slow? I don’t remember the book dragging on like this. It’s becoming too tedious to watch.

There wasn’t much more you could say about the day, in fact the title of the blog sort of summed it up. Dull, Foggy and Wet. These days, realistically, if you don’t get up and out by about 11am, you’re not going to get any worthwhile photos. That’s what I might do tomorrow.  One good thing that happened was Scamp making a lovely Coq au Vin for dinner.  We were very restrained and managed to keep some for tomorrow’s lunch.  A great sacrifice!

Gems tomorrow and hopefully dancing at night.