A sign of things to come perhaps – 3 September 2019

Today the Red Juke was going in for service and I had a courtesy car booked and it was a surprise!

Drove to Stirling in the morning and was passing the ‘New Shops’ just around 9.30am. The new M&S food store was opening at 10am and the crowds, half an hour before it opened were a very, very long snaking queue along the shop frontage, along part of the car park and down the side of the building. At a guess, I’d say between 500 and 700 people were standing in the rain hoping for one of the Golden Tickets that would give them up to £200 worth of shopping vouchers and a bad dose of the flu in to the bargain. I phoned Scamp to warn her that she was too late already. She just laughed

I had to wait half an hour for the courtesy car to be delivered, but when it arrived it was a ’19 plate Micra. Then the service manager dropped the bombshell. It was also an Automatic. I’ve only rarely been in an automatic car and certainly never driven one. How was I going to get this home? Luckily the lady was very positive about it and explained quietly how it worked and drove me round the block. She then offered to sit with me to allow me to get used to driving it round the block. Oh dear I must have looked terrified, but I took her up on her offer anyway. Then it was time for me to ‘go solo’. Despite knowing that there was no gearstick, I still tried to change up and down with the drive selector for the first few roundabouts, then concentrated a bit more and found it was quite a natural way to drive. When I got it home, I took Scamp out for a drive, but she refused to have a go. It’s amazing how quickly you adapt to a completely new driving style. By the time I was taking it back, it was as natural as any other car I’ve driven.

When I got to the garage the same lady came to deal with me and all I said was “Well, that was a lovely car.” I didn’t add “I want one.”, but she knew that was in my head. However, outside was a shiny clean Red Juke that will need two new front tyres this year, so I put the thoughts of an Automatic Micra to the back of my mind for now, paid for my day’s insurance and left with a smile on my face. Western Nissan aren’t so bad after all.

The drive back home took almost twice as long as going, because everyone in Central Scotland seemed to want to go the same way. I was hungry and was looking forward to Scamp’s Prawn Stir Fry for dinner, otherwise I’d have taken it for a run away from the motorway bizz to test out the updated sat nav card they’d plugged in as part of the service. Maybe we’ll get a chance to try it out tomorrow.

PoD was a shot of the last of Scamp’s sweet peas standing up to the incessant rain today. We were promised some sun. We got rain instead.

No dancing tomorrow because Scamp has an appointment with the doc to check out the insect bites she’s got, and no other plans. No dancing at night either because Jamie the Salsa teacher won’t be there. Even worse, he won’t be there next week either.

Finally up to date! – 22 August 2019

Today the blog came up to date. Flickr’s up to date with the option to add more holiday photos when I want to. Blog is up to date and posted. Just today’s post to get done before the witching hour and all will be well.

So, today. It started out well in the morning with some sunshine and a bowl of porridge from oats I’d bought in Wales. They needed to go, as did the older ones that were taking up space in the cupboard. Today we needed a good clear out and Scamp was the one to do it! I just bought new porridge oats. She did all the cleaning of the house. I got the last of the washing into the machine.

Scamp decided that it would rain later, so it would be a good idea to cut the grass in the morning. That’s when we found the strimmer cord, not the electric cable, but the cord that whirls round at a fair rate of knots and severs the grass, was dead. Every time we pulled out a new bit and switched on the machine the cord would break again. Need to get a new cord. Bear in mind that this is the original cord. Since the grass still needed cut, we hauled out the mower and while I moved all the pots and troughs around, Scamp cut the back grass. While she was busy upstairs cleaning stuff, I offered to cut the front grass. The mower has been playing up for year, at least three years. The blade is chipped and blunt, but the dangerous bit is that the interlock that will switch off the mower when you release the handle doesn’t work any more and hasn’t for some time. For someone who is usually safety conscious, Scamp was quite laissez faire about the lack of a safety cut-off. For me, I’d say it was becoming a liability and we need to think of getting a new one. I think I may have talked her round, but if she reads this, she’ll stonewall again. Won’t you dear?

With the cleaning done and the front and back grass cut it was lunchtime. Earlier in the day I’d bitten the bullet and bought X-Plane 11. A pure indulgence. Some would call it a game, but what do they know. It’s a flight simulator with very realistic graphics and it had just finished downloading. That gave me something to do in the afternoon when the rains came. I did fly it a couple of times but had to go out and get the PoD sorted out. It turned out to be an orange Rudbeckia flower I saw in St Mo’s. Dinner was a roast chicken and it was cooking while I was out walking. Cooking in the new roasting pan Scamp had bought yesterday. It’s still sitting in that pan while I’m writing this and the smell is very tempting. Unfortunately, Scamp has just put it in the fridge so it’s out of sight, out of mind!

No plans for tomorrow yet, although we might go to the Strathaven Balloon Festival if the weather is decent tomorrow evening.

Dancing and New Shoes – 7 July 2019

Not Dancing IN New Shoes. That would be torture.

It was another of those strange days we’ve been having for some time now.  In the morning the sky is clear and blue, but then before midday the clouds roll in and obscure the sun.  The afternoons are warm but sunless with those same milky white clouds covering all the blue sky.  In the early evening the sky starts clearing and by about 9pm it’s blue sky again.  It happens over and over.  But we shouldn’t complain because at least it’s dry and that in itself is unusual for a Scottish summer.  It looks as if it’s not going to stay that way all week, though.  Heavy rain and the potential for thunderstorms later in the week.  Ah! that’s more like a Scottish summer.

We were going dancing today.  First Sunday in the month is a Sunday Social day and for just now it’s in  the Record Factory in Glasgow and it’s big selling point is the wooden dance floor.  Not exactly a sprung dance floor, but wooden, which is much kinder on the feet and legs than concrete with tiles.  But before that there were photos to take.

I took a walk in St Mo’s in my new Merrell Moab 2 GTXs.  I hadn’t noticed the GTX when I bought them, but they’re alright even if they are cut a bit lower on  the heels to give that Gran Tourismo feel.  Actually, GTX stands for Gore Tex, or so the InterWeb tells me, and it’s never, well rarely, well actually quite often wrong.  Anyway, the decision was made this morning that the label gets cut off and the shoes are free to travel untrammeled across the length and breadth of the country, or at least over to St Mo’s.  Got some pics of beasties there.  Fifty Four photos to be exact, but acutally they were reduced to Nine by my swingeing cuts to the not-so-good ones.  Still, tonight the icon showed the first signs that the battery was starting to become depleted and would need refilling with electrons soon after taking over 130 shots.  That’s pretty good going for a non-OEM battery.  I’m impressed.  One of the final nine, a Large Red Damselfly became PoD.

Went dancing in The Record Factory and actually got asked to dance by three, yes, THREE ladies.  Now that might have been because there weren’t a lot of men around, but I think it because of my stylish moves and dashing good looks.  Believe that if you will!  It was a good night, although there weren’t many dancers of either sex strutting their stuff.

So tomorrow I’ve a doc’s appointment to check my new medication (Cheapo pills) are working and the rest of the day is our own to do with as we will.  Hoping to bag some sunshine while it lasts!

 

 

A Stitch in time – 4 July 2019

Today was dull. No sunshine. A very short sprinkle of rain. Nothing for it but to get the needles and pins out.

After breakfast I took the scissors and cut out the front of the waistcoat complete with all those strange wee triangles that stick out of cut out patterns. After consulting with Scamp and also after watching a few YouTube videos I was prepared to mark the darts with needle and thread. I’d also seen a video that recommended using a chinagraph pencil to mark out the lines. What it failed to mention was that when you iron the darts flat, the heat melts the marks made by the chinagraph pencil and they disappear. Numpty. I forgot the three rules of watching YouTube videos:

  1. Don’t believe anything you see here.
  2. Don’t try this at home.
  3. If you must ignore Rule 1 and Rule 2, test it on a scrap piece first.

Luckily the iron wasn’t quite hot enough and I could see the marks faintly glowing on the dark material. Then I used tailor’s chalk to complete the marking.
Later in the morning, I fired up the sewing machine and after a bit of jiggery pokery with Thread Tension, Stitch Width and Sweary Words, I’d stitched the darts to my satisfaction. Later I made a Welt (No, I don’t know what it is either). Exhausted, that’s where I left it today.

The DPD man came to deliver my new batteries for the new toy. Hopefully they’ll be more successful than the other lot and I set them to charge while I took the old Oly 5 for a walk around the pond. Not many beasties about, but I did get a moody shot of an old apple tree growing all by itself in the park. After a bit of work in ON1, that became PoD.

Dinner tonight was a delicious piece of smoked haddock with chips. Watched the tennis, well it was on everywhere by the look of things, and eventually managed to get the TV to respond to the Red Button to allow us to watch Andy Murray and his partner win their doubles match. Doubles is so much more interesting than singles. No long tedious grunt punctuated rallies. Much faster and good fun wondering what they were whispering to each other between shots of banging the ball over the net. Probably just deciding who’s round it is in the bar after the game.

Hoping against hope for a nice sunny day tomorrow to brighten up the end of the week and for a chance to take the OM D E-M1 (Now renamed Oly 1) out for a few shots of somewhere nice.

A New Toy – 2 July 2019

Ordered on-line yesterday, delivered free to the store today.  Impressive.

Ordered a second hand Panasonic 14mm lens on-line from WEX at lunchtime yesterday and got an email from them today, just 24 hours later, to say it was ready for collection in their Glasgow store.  Impressive service.  So, I drove in and picked it up.  I could have waited until tomorrow, but I was doing nothing else today and it seemed a pity for it to be cooling its heels in a store room when I could be putting it through its paces in  the sunshine.  Drove home via B&Q to get some black Sugru to try to fix the battery door on my old, but good Oly E-PL5.  However, as usual with this branch, they had blue, red, yellow and white Sugru, but no BLACK.  Left disappointed and drove over to the Antonine Wall and got some landscape shots of the hay bales under a blue sky.  The above shot made PoD.  I must admit I’m impressed with the lens.  In case you’re interested (I know you’re not). It’s a Silver Panasonic 14mm F2.5 Lumix G II ASPH Lens.  It came in its original box with the instructions and warranty still in their sealed wrapper.  Nobody reads instructions these days.  If in doubt, Google it.  What do you mean you don’t have a computer?  How the hell are you going to view your photos?  Take the disk in to Boots and ask them to print them?

While I was out doing the rounds, Scamp was at lunch with her pal.  She should have gone last week, but uncharacteristically, forgot.  By the time I got back, so was she.  Basically, that was the day.  Highlight for me was the new lens.  Highlight for Scamp was lunch and a natter.  We’re easily pleased, you see!

Tomorrow we’re probably going dancing in the afternoon at Michael’s Fun Palace, and he better be on his best behaviour or fur will fly! Then intending to go to Jamie Gal’s Salsa class at night.  Should be a fun day!!!

It Rained – 24 June 2019

It didn’t rain all day, but when it did, you knew about it!

Didn’t do much this morning. It was just one of those days. I ordered another camera strap from the Cordweaver bloke. He makes such a neat job of them, it’s simply not worth your time learning to weave the paracord.

In the afternoon I dragged myself out for a walk with the E-M1 to see if there were any beasties out looking for a photog to take their foties. They found me. Spiders were the prey today and some scary ones too. The yellow and black striped one was looking decidedly scary, but then black and yellow are the warning colours in nature aren’t they? Wasted lots of shots today trying things that would never work, but it’s just part of the learning curve with a new camera. I really need to catalog what the four storage areas are holding in terms of camera settings. I know what they do, but I need to use a spreadsheet to save the details of HOW they do it.

Drove in to Glasgow to Salsa through some really torrential rain. It didn’t last long, but it certainly was heavy. Even with the wipers on double speed they were struggling to clear the deluge. Salsa with the beginners class was interesting and fairly easy, but the advanced class were few in number and unlike last Wednesday, especially few in men. Jamie actually cajoled Megan and Andrew to join in as leaders. Last week’s twisty turny move got a new name: Boda. And of course there was a new, new one which hasn’t got a name yet. The advanced class is becoming a bit stale. New moves that very few people will dance at socials and too many new moves for my poor wee brain to retain. Maybe we just need a holiday in the sun. Yes, that would be nice.

Lightroom is being a bugger again. Forgetting where to put photos and forgetting which are its default settings. Tonight I reset the .plist and that helped a bit, but didn’t fix all the problems. It actually caused a few more problems! Most are fixed now, but since the main reason I use Lightroom is to catalog my photos, if it doesn’t do the cataloguing, then it’s not really much use. I’ll go search the InterWeb for a solution tomorrow. That’s what I did last time and I fixed it, so a solution is out there, I just have to fix it.

Tomorrow I have to sort June’s birthday prezzy and then it’s coffee with the boys.

New Boots and Panties! – 7 June 2019

It was one of those days when I couldn’t settle.  Eventually Scamp talked me down.

What I did do was to solve today’s Fiendish level Sudoku with the new method which I got from YouTube of all places.1 I’m really impressed with this method.

With that out of the way we wandered in to Glasgow to look for a pair of boots for me. Ostensibly to replace both the leaking pairs I have. Probably I’ll keep the Clarks pair which don’t leak quite as badly and ditch the Lafuma ones. They look good, they just leak like a sieve now. Rather than throwing them out, I’ll probably put them in the next Salvation Army bag that arrives. They may not be good for walking through puddles, but they will keep someone’s feet warm in the winter. Tiso was the first, and only stop. I tried on a pair of boots that were the right size and lo and behold, not only were they a fit, they were also a comfortable fit. I’ve been wearing them all night just to make sure they are the ones for me and I’m comfortably sure they are.

Sat down for a while and painted A Stone.  Well, actually it’s a dry stane dyke, but it does contain at least one stone.

Back home via Robroyston for a coffee in Costa and a chance to stock up on messages at Asda. Next stop was Tesco for a bottle of rum – well, it is Friday. Then home, where I decided to wash the car and rinse it off with water from Bobby Flavell’s outside tap. Such a great idea, having an outside tap. So much easier than carrying buckets of water and getting soaked trying to wash off the roof or the Juke. Also allowed me to hose out the depressions where the wipers sit. The hose makes short work of all the fermenting flower heads and general gunge from the trees overhead. Thank you Bobby.

With the car dripping, it was time to go for a walk in St Mo’s to get some photos. Not a lot to see and the light was quite low. Managed a better view of the scary fly from yesterday. Maybe not that exact fly, but certainly one of that genus. Hopefully someone on Flickr will be able to ID it for me. PoD went to the close up shot of the daisies. Both Scamp and I agreed on that.

That was about it for the day. We shared a fish supper tonight and for the second time “Well, it is Friday.” Suffering a bit for it now, but it was delicious at the time.

Tomorrow? I think it’s going to be up fairly early and out.


  1. This is really a marker for me so that some time hence I can remember where I found this time saving tip. 

Is that deer? – 6 June 2019

Yes it is!

Off early to the blood letters this morning to give a tiny little amount of blood to the lab in Monklands. For some reason they wanted some of my pee too. Strange people in Monklands.

Back home for a cup of coffee and a chance to solve today’s medium strength Sudoku. Still sticking to my new method. It may not be faster and it may not do away entirely with the need for full pencil marks, but it makes the solving of the harder puzzles a bit more interesting and after all, that’s part of the reason for doing them.

With that done I tried switching on the new six year old camera and as soon as I half pressed the shutter, I knew that something was wrong. I hate cameras that beep to tell you they have found something to focus on. It’s the first thing I change on a camera – set it to silent. This one beeped. When I checked, everything was back to its out-of-the -box state. Oh dear. Reprogrammed it, removed the battery, counted to ten and replaced it. Sure enough. It’s short term memory was gone! Phoned the company MPB who I’ve never had any complaints with before and the lady there said I could spend it back for a refund or a replacement, except when we both looked on the website, there were no other E-M1s available. After a flood of emails between us in the next few hours, we finally agreed that I would try the camera for another week and if there was no improvement, I’d return it for a refund.

After lunch we went to Muirhead to the butchers to get some venison. I’d already ordered the meat earlier in the week. As she was weighing the meat I asked the woman behind the counter how much it would be. When she told me, she must have thought it was a bit expensive because she asked me “Is that dear?” (Scots for “Is that expensive”). I said “Yes! It is deer.” She just said “Oh!” Two or three minutes later she burst out laughing. The penny had finally dropped. I don’t think she’ll ever forget that conversation.

I took the camera out for a walk when we came back and it worked perfectly. Everything I’d programmed into it were retained. Hopefully it will stay that way now. There wasn’t much worth photographing in St Mo’s and PoD went to the little scary looking fly.

I didn’t manage a decent sketch of something “Shiny and Metallic”, so as a replacement, I give you a shot of a little prezzy Scamp gave me on Monday. Just so Scottish! Thank you Scamp. May need a little explanation for those of an English disposition!

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow to get me a new pair of walking boots.

Private lesson – 5 June 2019

Private lesson for two couples

Drove in to Glasgow through some torrential rain to find that there were only four of us, just two couples. We had a whole hour with teacher Ann Marie while the other couple had one of the experts, Heather. The great thing about Ann Marie is that she asks you what you want to do and then goes over that in detail. So, not only a private lesson, but an own design private lesson. We went over some of the Jive steps that were bugging us and then we ironed out my problems with the fish-tails and running steps in Quickstep. We also learned the Two Handed Cuff and improved on our Bumps in Jive. Came home after a coffee in Nero to give us some time to review the lesson.

Later in the afternoon I took a couple of cameras over to St Mo’s and everything fell apart. Not only did the camera start to vastly over-expose, but then it got itself stuck in electronic shutter mode and wouldn’t come back out again. Nothing I did would make it work. It all started when I stuck on the Samyang 7.5mm and the image started shaking and jumping in the viewfinder. After that, nothing would work again. Eventually I gave up and came home. Finally got it to do a full reset, after which it was back to normal and working well. I think the Samyang had messed with one of the esoteric settings I’d set up over the last week and the full reset put everything back to normal. Scary time though. I had visions of an irate phone call to Brighton followed by parcelling up the new ‘Toy off the Rack’ and sending back. Neither of these are now necessary … I hope. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.  So, no PoD from that visit to St Mo’s, but luckily I’d taken a walk around the block earlier in the day and got a couple of shots of Scamp’s alliums from the path at the back of the house and that’s what achieved PoD.

After the drama of the camera, I did some painting. Today’s challenge was meant to be Seashells, but the only shells I could find were snail’s shells, so that was what I painted. Even worse was that I only could find one shell, so it was one shell in two positions. Tomorrow’s target is Something Shiny.

It’s been a day of mixed weather.  Occasional sunny spells and occasional heavy rain showers, but for the most part it’s just been plain dull with heavy clouds.  Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

No Salsa tonight because teacher Jamie is still down in deepest England doing sciency things at a science festival.

Out early tomorrow to give a few drops of blood to be sent over to Monklands hospital for checking by the consultant. Nothing else planned.

A non dancing Monday – 3 June 2019

Dancing with some teachers isn’t dancing, it’s repeti-ti-ti-tion.

The day began with me finding the first tick of the year. I was reading last year’s blog last night, and would you believe it, a year ago on the 1st of June I found a tick. I make the solemn pledge then “No more walking through long grass until the first frost.” Today I made the same pledge. While a nasty surprise, it gave me a chance to try out the tick remover Scamp got for me last year. First time I’ve had cause to use it. Hopefully the last for a long time. Unfortunately the wee bugger landed on the carpet when I pinged it off and that meant I got to hoover the carpet to make sure it didn’t reattach itself to me or anyone else. Then just to make sure it was definitely gone, I sprayed the carpet with fly and insect killer. Probably took a few days off my life too, breathing in the noxious fumes.

With that done and with the carpet hoovered, I phoned the butcher to order some meat for the weekend. Scamp was out visiting one of her friends who was just out of hospital. She was also taking here sister to the docs after Gems, so I was given the job of taxi driver for the other two. Not a problem really, I hadn’t intended going out. The weather was hit and miss today and that’s why I gave it a miss. Too many heavy showers and a (very) few sunny periods. Instead I headed upstairs and did a sketch from my June list. Topic was An Umbrella. It’s finished and looks ok, but not great. Actually, the practise sketch was better. That’s quite often the case with me.

After my taxi job was done and Scamp was back from the docs, having dropped June back home (she got a course of antibiotics for a chest infection), we had to decide what was happening about salsa tonight. Last night Shannon had said she was taking Jamie G’s advanced class tonight. After much soul searching and discussion we decided not to go. It’s about 40 minutes driving there and back with a boring waste of an hour dancing the same move over and over again. I know Scamp still feels bad about it and deep down thinks we should have gone, but we agreed not to and it’s done now. After dinner I finished another swift watercolour sketch of mushrooms. That the first two done. The sketch for today (3rd June) is A Bird and for tomorrow itself is A Weed. Plenty of them to practise on!

Today’s PoD is a landscape taken from the top of the Whin Edge Brae above Mollinsburn, and was taken just before one of the heaviest rain showers I’ve nearly been caught in. Luckily I was just home before the clouds broke. Scamp wasn’t so lucky and was driving through it. I’m still trying to find out what all the buttons and dials do on the new toy. It’s amazing how much it can do.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow looking for a new pair of boots. Although if I’m not walking in the long grass until the first frost, I may not need them for a while.