Cold begone! – 17 September 2018

Woke with a fairly clear head this morning and the roughness in my throat had gone. I was miraculously cured!

Just as well really because today is Monday and that’s Gems’ Day. There is no way I could have gone to my bed and stayed there all day while they were singing. What I did do was strip out some old silicone sealant from the shower cabinet and dry out the resulting cavity. Then resealed it and left the bathroom smelling strongly of vinegar. It’s not the best repair in the world, but I think it’s waterproof, or at least better than it was which is the next best thing. Tomorrow, I have to put the shower cabinet back together again with more silicone.

With that done I was free to go out and take some photos. I drove up to the back of Fannyside to see if there were any likely subjects. I found a field with some black sheep that looked as if they’d just arrived from the sales. Usually sheep spread themselves thinly across a field, but this lot were all bunched together and when one of them ventured away from the crowd, the rest followed like … er … sheep! Must visit them next week to see if they’ve settled in a bit better.

My subjects today were macros. A scary looking Daddy Longlegs spider, some Cladonia lichen and some moss fruiting bodies. And the winner is <Cue Drum Roll> The Cladonia. It was a neat, low, tight bunch and that helped keep them nicely in focus.

Scamp was eager to help out with the beginners 6.30 class tonight, so we left early. Unfortunately there was an EIS union meeting in the main hall of the STUC building, so parking was at a premium and we were lumped in a small room on the second floor. Worse still, it was a carpeted room. It’s really hard to dance on a carpet, and especially hard to dance salsa on a carpet. They were doing turns tonight and with the friction of my feet on the carpet, it wasn’t doing my poor wee knee any good. Thankfully the meeting finished before our own class started and we were back on a hard slippy floor. Tonight’s move was called ‘Seo’. Not its real name of course. That was just the name of one of the dancers in a video the teacher had learned the move from. Jamie G once taught a move called Setenta Batman. We searched YouTube to find that move without any success until years later when another teacher told the class that the move was called Setenta Batman because the teacher in the video was wearing a Batman tee shirt. You get used to this method of naming moves after a while.
Andrew and, the newly returned to the fold, Megan had their first beginners class tonight. Apparently it went really well. I don’t imagine we will be helping with that class … Ever!

Tomorrow we may be going for a swim. If so, I may go to the gym and loosen up my leg on the bikes. First time since the spring, I believe!

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.

Posh Fish ’n’ Chips – 13 September 2018

But without the chips.

Today we went to The Barras to have lunch in A’Challtainn Fish Restaurant. Drink would be taken, so we went in to Glasgow on the bus. Coffee in Nero and then a walk down Bucky Street and across the Merchant City to Glasgow Cross, then off into the depths of The Barras. I found it difficult to work out where I was for a while. There were buildings where there used to be empty spaces. There were empty spaces where there used to be buildings. Some of the buildings that were where I left them the last time I was there had now been wrapped up like Christmas prezzies and were being shot blasted. As we walked past these plastic covered buildings I wondered what it must be like working in those conditions. It was noisy enough outside, it must be (literally) deafening inside.

Thankfully Bill’s Tool Store was still there, so we had a landmark. We were headed further in to the Barras to a place called BaaD (Barras art and Design) bad acronym. We were booked for 1.30 and it was only just after 1pm when we arrived, but it wasn’t a problem because they weren’t busy. The food was lovely. Scamp had a starter of Smoked Salmon Crab Cannelloni. The Cannelloni turned out to be a slice of smoked salmon wrapped round a portion of crabmeat. My starter was Grilled Sardines. Both starters were served with Smoked Herring Roe which I can remember having when I was really young because my mum loved it. I didn’t, and I still don’t.
Mains were:
Scamp – Sorched Scottish Salmon, Lime Pickled Fennel & Smoked Mussels
Me – Crab Linguini, chilli, garlic, lemon, white wine & parsley
Both had complementary Smoked Herring Roe.
We finished off with coffee.
All in all, the food and service were exceptional. Who would have thought that there would be a posh fish restaurant in the Barras (and no chips).

After our lunch we walked back up through the town and got the bus back home. Not before I got today’s PoD outside TJ Hughes. I’m not sure if it looked better in colour or mono. I risked the colour version.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Fred at midday and dinner with June, Ian, Jackie and Murdo in the evening all being well. Might even have fish ’n’ chips!

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.

Late start. Lost day – 10 September 2018

Slept too late today because of a late night last night. In so doing, I lost the best part of the day.

If there was a best part, that is. Drove out to Airdrie to try another garage to get the scrape fixed. The owner was off on holiday. How inconsiderate of him! Who decides that these people can swan off on holiday any time they choose. He should have known I wanted to see him, even if I didn’t know him and hadn’t heard of him until yesterday. Only one more garage to try and that will need to be tomorrow.

Parcels are coming tomorrow. One contains coffee from Perth and the other contains the Samyang 7.5mm lens for the Olys. Don’t know which one get to play with it first. It seems to me that the Oly 5 gets the best shots from the short lenses an the Oly 10 certainly works better with the longer zoom. In particular, the Oly 10 does not work well with the short kit lens. Don’t know why, it just is.

Avoided Gems in the afternoon by driving to Auchinstarry and walking along the canal, over the plantation and back again in the rain. It was the rain that helped produce the PoD, so I shouldn’t be too critical of the weather. Weather is just there. It’s a given and you have to use it to your advantage. Of course, you could do like I did the other day and add some golden sunshine in Lightroom or ON1, but you should really accept what you’re given and do something with it. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy to do that though 😉

Salsa tonight was half an hour of beginners being amazed that they have mastered Dile Que No, which is no mean feat in week 2 of the course. That was followed by an advanced class reprising moves we’ve been doing for the past three weeks. I’m not complaining at all. I think that’s exactly what we need some times. I enjoyed the night, but my knee was giving me gyp for the last half hour.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to go out looking for someone to give me a price for fixing my scratched car. Alex sent me some shots he’s taken with the Samyang he used to have and they look good, so I’m hoping for some decent weather to test it out.

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.