Fort Apache – The Bronx – 5 October 2018

Today we went to the Fort. No longer Fort Apache.

Just went for a run, because we had nowhere else to go today. A few hours of retail therapy without too much expense. Also needed to clear my head and find something to draw. As it happened, I found something to draw on instead. Last year I discovered a lovely A5 landscape format sketchbook in Paperchase. It was only £3, half price. I presume they weren’t selling well and that was the reason for the price drop. Paper was good although it didn’t take a watercolour wash very well. Still, it was fine for pencil and ink sketching. Best of all, it was ‘stitched bound’ which means the book opens flat. Perfect for long perspective sketches. I went back to see if they had any more, but they were all gone. I’ve kept checking in the Glasgow shop to see if they got any more in, but all their sketchbooks now are wiro bound which is hopeless for what I want. Today I went in to Paperchase at the Fort and found two A5 hard backed landscape sketchbooks. I bought them on the spot. If only I’d looked there last year I wouldn’t have had to skimp with my last few pages in the one I had. The only problem was I had to pay full price for them. A small price to pay, if you pardon the pun.

After that we went to Morrison’s and bought it, just as we sometimes buy Tesco. Went in to get fennel and fish and came out with a trolley load of stuff. Then we tried to find our way home through the labyrinth that is the new motorway ‘system’. Finally found myself at a roundabout I recognised and from there it was easy. Up until then it had been a nightmare because the Juke’s sat nav didn’t have the new roads in it. £125 for a new SD card with an updated map? I don’t think so.

Came home and went for a walk in St Mo’s where I found the fungi PoD. Quite liked it, even if the ISO was a bit high and so was the grain.

Left the sketching too late and was left with a poor drawing. I must try to get things done a bit earlier tomorrow.

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It looks like it will be the better day of the weekend.

A new pair of glasses – 4 October 2018

Well, three new pairs actually.

Scamp was going out for coffee with Isobel this morning and was meeting her at 10am. I was also going out, but Scamp didn’t know it. Y’see, we have to rewind to yesterday to see what’s going on here.

On Wednesday’s when we go to Blackfriars for ballroom, we pass this wee charity shop with really interesting window displays every week. Usually it involves some old cameras and lenses, surprisingly. Yesterday, when I was ogling some 20th century photographic accessories, Scamp was looking in the other windows, the ones with boring antiques in them. One of those ‘boring antiques’ was a set of six wine glasses. We agreed they were good looking glasses and we’d go and have a better look after dancing. We didn’t go back. We were too busy discussing Ladles, Lindy Hops and Time Steps.

Probably before Scamp got to the bottom of the road this morning, I too was in my car and off in to Glasgow. Got to the shop, checked the glasses for damage, couldn’t see any. Paid for them and was back just after 11am. Job done.

I guessed I’d have just over an hour before I was going out to the physio and that’s when Inktober No 4 was drawn. It’s one of Scamp’s favourite roses, Sheila’s Perfume. Yellow and tinges of red and so well named with its heavy perfume. It took just over 30 minutes of controlled drawing. Not my usual scratchy rough sketching with loads of construction lines. Just careful measuring by eye and placing the lines on the paper. Used thick and thin lines to give a degree of form to the drawing. One in the bag.

I got a message from Scamp just before I left for the Physio to say she was going for a swim after the coffee. Physio gave me some more a good going over checking ligament and hamstring before zapping me with the laser and then sticking pins in me. While the needles did their work he gave me a book to read, Chris Hoy’s book How To Ride A Bike. Very, very interesting. It reminded me of a book I had back in the ‘80s Richard’s Bicycle Book, but updated for modern cycling equipment. Hadn’t realised how time was passing until he came back to remove the needles half an hour later. We were both agreed that the knee is back to normal after my twisting and turning had angered the ligament and then the hamstring. He signed me off but reminded me that if it comes back, I’ve just to give him a ring. I hope I don’t need it.

As I was walking out I got a text from Scamp to tell me that she’d found the parcel I’d left for her. I decided to go to Tesco to get a bottle of red to christen the glasses and to celebrate my sign-off from the physio.

Dinner tonight was Stir Fry, one of Scamp’s specialities. It was good, so was the wine from the new glasses.

Today’s PoD was Chestnuts. It looks simple but it was tricky lighting. I wanted the light from the window to be in front of the camera, but this created deep shadows which needed lightening. I did this with an A2 sheet of paper with a hole cut in it, big enough for the camera lens to poke through. This gave me a big reflector that threw the reflected light back into the shadows. Simple sometimes is best.

Tomorrow? No plans. No subterfuges!

I’ve got the Cold – 16 September 2018

Woke with a sore throat. It couldn’t have been last night’s rum ’n’ blackcurrant, surely. The Ribena is supposed to be good for you!

Felt as rough as my throat. Had breakfast and gargled with some awful Listerine which usually sorts it out pronto, but it didn’t today, so pulled up the covers and went back to bed. Surfaced an hour or so later feeling just the same. Decided that I’d better get up. Vertical is sometimes better than horizontal with the cold. The hot shower helped a bit, but only a bit.

Watched an ‘eventful’ Singapore GP with very little to recommend it other than Vettel coming in third. They really need to do something about Perez before he kills or maims someone. Crashing into someone you’re racing because the won’t let you past is a sign of the wrong temperament for a racing driver.

Decided that as the rain had gone off, I’d get covered up well and go for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s where today’s PoD came from. Also decided that I wasn’t fit to go dancin’, certainly not salsa dancin’, so we stayed at home. I felt sorry because I’d also done Scamp out of her evening’s dancin’. Hopefully I’ll be fit for class tomorrow.

That was it for a dull day in the rain. Tomorrow will be better.

I have seen the future and it works – 15 September 2018

Electricity travels at almost the speed of light. Diesel is hard to spell and is a fossil fuel.

Today we took the ‘leccy train to Embra. We didn’t intentionally go the ‘leccy route. It just happened that the train we were waiting for was powered by the new clean, invisible power source. The Stirling train that preceded it was powered by old fashioned, smelly, hard to spell deisildesil, diesel. That’s because they don’t have electricity in Stirling yet. They still have gas lights in the street and coal fires. I do feel sorry for them.

The super fast ‘leccy train took longer than the diesel trains they are replacing. Maybe it was cheap, slow electricity they were using or maybe it was Abellio who now run Scotrail who couldn’t manage the rail system properly. Surely not! Anyway, we got to Haymarket and walked up the road for morning coffee in Nero, but not before I set the Samyang loose in Ladyfield which is a great canyon between large imposing office blocks. That’s where PoD came from. I really like the perspective this lens gives. With one in the bag, I could enjoy my morning coffee.

After that we walked up through the Grassmarket to see if anyone was actually selling grass. They weren’t, but I wasn’t surprised because I hadn’t seen anyone selling hay at Haymarket. (Sounds better with a Chic Murray delivery.) From there we headed for the Royal Mile which was mobbed. I was beginning to think that there had been an extension to the Fringe Festival, but it was just the usual bunch of escapologists, jugglers and fire eaters performing for the tourists. We’re not tourists, we LIVE in Scotland. There did seem to be quite a lot of tourists about, but I later checked and the Norwegian Jade cruise ship was docked at Leith, so that probably explained things.

We walked back down through the Old Town and from there along George Street, then back along Rose Street, eventually giving up and heading for the tea room at the National Gallery where our lunch was a shared baguette of smoked salmon with leaves and mayo and a two cups of tea, paper cups, to Scamp’s disgust. After our light lunch we just got the train home. We’d had a bit of a wander around the Capital and were ready to return to the real world.

It was a dull day weatherwise with nothing much to recommend it. I took a few more photos to test out the ability of the Samyang, but am fairly confident that at f8 or better it can handle almost anything I can throw at it. It’s a keeper, for sure.

Got the ‘leccy train back home and it was fast! Impressively so. Shave a good 10 minutes off a 45 minute journey. The folk in Stirling don’t know what they’re missing. They thought it was a great thing last year when the diesel trains replaced the steam trains they’d had for years. Not to mention that the carriages had roofs, not like the open carriages they’d had before.

Tomorrow it’s the Cumbersheugh 10k, so if we’re not out by 10am we’re locked in until midday. I don’t suppose we’ll mind as the weather is to be ‘Scottish’. Hopefully dancing later.

Shiny and clean again – 12 September 2018

No drilling the wall this morning, but we were up early anyway.

I thought that as the car would be going in for its first service next week, I should make an effort and give it a bit of a wash and brush up. It didn’t take too long and then I took it for a run to Craigmarloch to dry it off. Of course, when I was coming back the rain came on to wash away any remaining suds. Saw the strangest thing when I got to the Broadwood roundabout. The lights were at green for me, but one bloke held at the red light decided he could nip in in front of me, then seemed to realise that the roundabout IS actually light controlled. By this time he was halfway across the road and blocking both lanes. When he’d sheepishly reversed back behind the line, I just managed to get past on amber. What a numpty. Having said that, I’ve done the same thing myself a few times.

Drove a clean car in to Glasgow to go to ballroom class. Managed to get a few shots of the shiny reflective building with the new toy, but the PoD was a view of Buchanan Galleries through the glass brick windows of the car park.

Waltz is getting smoother. Quickstep is getting quicker and Lindy Hops are as bad as ever. Almost a private lesson today as the rest of the class were rated as ‘Beginners’ and I think we are now ‘Improvers’. Knee was sore, but I had taken Scamp’s advice and downed a couple of Paracetamol before I left the house and they kept things manageable.

After class, Scamp had business in town and I went for a browse in CassArt. Didn’t find anything but students with lists of things to buy for their courses and grants that no doubt would be reducing by the minute.

Drove home and discovered that Jamie G was not taking the salsa class tonight. Nobody was willing to say who the teacher would be, which can only mean one thing, or one person. We made the decision that it was too wet to go tonight with no sign of any fun in the class. We’d supplement our Salsa time on Sunday with a Sunday Social instead, hopefully.

Tomorrow we’re booked for lunch at a posh fish and chip shop in The Barras!

What’s he building in there? – 11 September 2018

Title courtesy of Tom Waits, fitted this morning perfectly.

We have been in the habit of having breakfast in bed most mornings, but this morning our new next door neighbour decided it was time for us to stop this leisurely pursuit when he started drilling into the wall on the other side with a hammer drill. I don’t know what he was doing, but by the sound of it, he was hoping to strike oil, or maybe open a hole into our bedroom so he could have a word with us. I imagine he was putting up shelving in his attic which would be about level with our upstairs, his being a single storey and ours being a double. Anyway, my book was getting boring and his boring was getting on my nerves, so I got up, dressed and went down stairs. That’s when the drilling in the wall stopped!

I had intended to go looking for another body repair shop to fix the scrape in the car door today, but before I could really do that, I had to at least try to clean it up a bit. When I got started with a cloth and some Brasso (just the same as T Cut, but a fraction of the price), I found that the paint layer was undamaged. One tiny little chip and that was all. I decided to forego the expense of the body shop until it’s necessary, some time in the next two years. Procrastination is the name of the game! I’d just wash the car instead. That’s when the rain started. Did I say “Procrastination”? Maybe I’d wash the car tomorrow. The rain was getting heavier anyway.

It stayed raining for most of the afternoon, at least until the DPD man came with two parcels. One contained coffee and the other my new, well new to me, Samyang 7.5mm. I stuck it on the camera and took a few shots of the living room and laughed at the size of it, the living room, that is. I now know how estate agents get those shots of enormous rooms. Super Wide Angle Lenses, that’s how. I took some of the garden too and noticed that the rain had stopped. Too late to wash the car now, there were new toys to play with!

Walked round a bit of Broadwood Loch and got the PoD above and a whole lot of others besides. The lens is a lot bigger and bulkier that the slim Oly 9mm, but there are a host more controls. The images it creates are sharp and really well saturated. I think this one’s a keeper. It better be, it’s paid for now.

Dinner tonight was fish pie. Very tasty. Followed by Apple Pie using our own James Grieve apples and this is where the InterWeb is such a mine of sometimes useless and often fascinating information. Did you know that most apple trees have diploid chromosomes? I’m sure one or two of you out there are saying “Doesn’t everyone know that they have two chromosomes?”. The rest of us are saying “Does it make them taste better?” Most people know that you have to cross fertilise apple trees, that is you can’t have two apple trees of the same variety and hope that they will pollenate each other, but did you know that some trees are partially self fertilising? Apparently it all depends on the spring weather. If it’s a dry, warm spring, the chances of success are better than if it’s the damp and cold spring weather we usually have. Our James Grieve is a partially self fertilising and that brings me round to how I found out all this information and so much more. You see, I was just wondering if it was “I before E” in Grieve. It was, but I got drawn away from my spell checking into the private lives of our apple trees. Aren’t computers wonderful. You’d never go and look up an encyclopaedia to check a spelling and get drawn in like you can on a computer. With that thought I’ll finish this blog for today.

Tomorrow we’re dancing in the afternoon and hopefully at night too.

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.

An afternoon among the beasties – 18 May 2018

After I drove Scamp over to meet the other ‘Witches’, the day was my own.

I chose to follow orders for a while because it suited me. I watered the garden just before 11am because the sun hadn’t forced its way through the clouds yet and it’s a sacrosanct rule that you never water flowers or veg when the sun is shining. All those little beads of water become magnifying lenses and burn the living daylights out of the plants. This was the first time the hose has been used this year. I really enjoy watering the garden with the hose. So much easier than humphing full watering cans around. Not as efficient though. There’s a fair bit of wastage with a hose as my sodden trainers were witness to. I even managed to get it wrestled through the toilet window to water the front garden too.

While I waited for the sun to burst through the clouds, I read a bit, drank a cup of weak tasteless coffee, then another cup of really good strong brew to make up for it. I doodled some sketches and I played around with some of the more esoteric aspects of this new photography program ON1. It’s absolutely enormous and like some program designed by a committee there seems to about ten ways to do exactly the same thing with the same results, but using totally different procedures. I assume they are slightly different and that’s why they are there, but to my naked eye they look the same. Finally, after having achieved absolutely nothing and learned even less, I shut up shop and went to have lunch which was another cup of coffee and a ‘piece’ (that’s a ‘sandwich’ if you’re not Scottish).

After lunch I’d had enough of the Hide and Seek game the sun was playing and went to get my dinner and some petrol for the car from Tesco. Then I pointed the Red Juke at Auchinstarry and said “Go There!”. It did. Walked along the canal hoping for a sighting of the elusive kingfisher, but it wasn’t showing itself today. What I did find was my PoD, the first Scottish damselfly this year. I thought it was dead, but on careful examination, the opposite was the case. It had just released itself from its nymphal shuck and was drying its wings in the sun. Also pumping blood into those wings to stiffen them. Good luck wee red damselfly and make good use of these warm days. Rain is on its way after, or maybe including Sunday. After that I found a plethora of ‘beasties’. Spiders, beetles and flies. You’ll have to look on Flickr to find them.

Drove home and set the new, fancy, complicated combination microwave to cook my pizza dinner. It did it, perfectly. Beautifully baked, not quite Peasano quality, but good enough for me and so much better than a microwaved one with that yucky squidgy base. No, this was a firm base with a crispy topping. Superb. I hope you’re listening JIC. Fiddly to set up, but very adaptable. Tried to watch the news, but apparently there is a wedding in London tomorrow and the rest of the world had to stop turning just to watch it. I didn’t. The pizza was too good to wait for.

All too soon I got the text to say that the witches were leaving Ayr, then the inevitable “on the bus” text. Agreed to pick Scamp up at the bus stop and, of course, by that time the sun was shining from a clear blue sky. What was wrong with having that three or four hours ago? You know how photogs love directional light. So that was it. Slipping the leash for a day is a great thing. I recommend it to you all.

Tomorrow looks like the last good day for a while. I suggest we make the most of it.

Shorts and Tee Shirt Weather – 7 May 2018

When we woke this morning it was cloudy and dull.

It may have been cloudy and it may have been dull, but the outside temperature was already 14.4ºc. That’s only 0.6º short of official Shorts and Tee Shirt weather as decreed by me.

When I eventually dragged myself away from my book, got showered and dressed, it was definitely shorts and tee shirt time, but I retained my decorum and just wore a shirt and jeans instead. Scamp was already in the garden, watering and feeding the plants and encouraging the sun to shine down on this great land we live in. Even better, it seemed to be working. The sun was breaking through the clouds and it looked like it was going to be a lovely day. Cleaned the Gaggia and which has been on my to do list for ages. Sat on the front step with Scamp and grabbed today’s PoD which is the inside of an open tulip.

After a quick trip to Tesco, lunch and a conversation with Hazy. I decided it was time to get the bike out and take it for a run. Truly this was shorts and tee shirt weather, cycling shorts and a short sleeved top. It was a good run, but there wasn’t much for the new lens to get a grip on. Back home and it as salad for dinner and a mighty good one too. Potato salad, mixed leaves, yesterday’s mutton served cold, beetroot and all washed down with a glass of vino collapso. Then a seat in the garden to let it all slide down with the last of the vino to help it on its way. After an hour or so the sun had dipped far enough down to force us back inside.  Nice to have a restful Monday with no salsa as  the STUC building is closed on bank holidays.

All in all, it was a very nice day. Unfortunately it looks like it’s all going downhill from here on in. Never mind, it was a really good summer. We enjoyed both days.