Ticking Tuesday – 3 July 2018

Same start as yesterday. Still trying to get used to the sounds of the city back home I think.

More catchup on blog posts. Then spoke to Hazy on Skype which is now flying the Mickysoft flag and becoming an absolute bastard to use. No surprise for a Mickysoft product. If you want a good app broken, give it to Mickysoft.  After we’d signed off, I found that I’d picked up a tick yesterday. First one for ages. Must remember to be more careful.

Another trip to Tesco for more supplies and then I went for a run in the car hoping for more dragonflies up behind Fannyside Loch. Didn’t find any, but usually they are later than they are here. Ended up walking along the Luggie. Saw a deer but it was too far away and too deep in the long grass. Settled on a Red Admiral as PoD.

Later in the afternoon did more blog and Flickr posts.  Flickr now up to date.

Watered the garden in the evening and the thirsty wee plants soaked it all up.  Still hot.  G&Ts all round tonight and an early bed. Scamp’s cold seems to be improving, thankfully.

Tomorrow we’re intending to go dancing! And me wi’ a bad leg tae!

Just another Monday – 2 July 2018

Woke early and couldn’t get back to sleep, so started the blog reconstruction.  That gave Scamp an extra hour or so in bed because it looks as if she’s picked up somebody’s cold in the recycled air of the bus yesterday.

Thankfully I’d a couple of blog posts written on the Linx 12×64 that were ready to post. Written on Live Writer, the best blog composer on any platform, it was an easy job to post it. Since the last two days of the cruise were sea days I wasn’t willing to pay the exorbitant price for the Maritime WiFi, so I saved the files and posted them when we were back home. Then it was down to writing a few more of the blogs from the bullet points I’d written while at sea. Catchup is the name of the game here.

After that, it was the inevitable trip to Tesco to refill the fridge, the vegetable rack and the fruit bowl.

A quick trip to St Mo’s got a few pictures to use and the dragonfly shot became PoD. While I was there I put on my Fireman Sam hat and doused a smouldering fire in the woods. What idiots thought it was a good idea to build a fire in pine woods when everything was tinder dry. I sometimes wonder if the numpties here just switch off their brains in hot weather to avoid the overheating.

That was about it for the first day back home. No dancing tonight as we didn’t know the whereabouts of our salsa teacher and I for one didn’t fancy the alternatives! Instead we watered the garden again and the refreshment seems to be working. Still hot here.

Probably more of the same tomorrow

On the Rock – 28 June 2018

Today we were at Gibraltar. That little corner of a foreign land that is forever England. Not Britain, England.

Today was a short stop. We arrived at 8am and after being told for the umpteenth time not to carry anything on board “for the benefit of a stranger” (why use one word when ten would do?) we were ok to go looking for cheap booze and fags. There’s not a lot more to Gibraltar than that.

  • Well, there’s the rock, but once you’ve gone up on it and admired the view, you come back down.
  • There’s the apes, but manky beasts they are and best kept at someone else’s arms length, preferably a stranger’s.
  • There’s the hundreds of electronic and photography shops selling five year old models, slightly cheaper than Amazon and without any warranty.

Other than that, there used to be the Almeda Gardens, but the last time we went there the gardens were in a sorry state and looking the worse for wear. It used to be good fun for me watching the coming and going of the airies at the airport, especially the scary Tornados, but they’re all gone now and it’s just the occasional commercial flight that lands or takes off, so no fun today.

We got off fairly early and walked up the Main Street populated with well known UK high street shops, the aforementioned cheapo photography and computer shops and the rest are tax-free jewellery or tourist places. Scamp got a new piece for her Pandora bracelet in the shape of a dragonfly. How neat is that. She was quite taken by it and so, I must admit was I. That doesn’t mean I’m thinking about getting a Pandora bracelet any time soon.

Stopped at a street side cafe for a slice of apple pie and a coffee. I won’t tell you how much they cost, but it was extortionate. Very nice apple pie though. We bought two cards and posted them and then went back to the ship.

We went for a swim in the inside/outside pool to avoid the Great British Sailaway. One man a few nights ago was trying to get the other people at the table excited about it, telling us that “… then the bunting comes out and we have a right good singsong.” Sorry mate, allergic to bunting and don’t do singsongs. Some of these english are so easy pleased. Give them a flag and some songs their granny sang and they’re happy as a sandboy, whatever a sandboy is.

Dinner tonight was with two of the most boring couples we’ve been with. They seemed frightened to speak to us because we were obviously not english. They droned on all meal about weather, sailing and driving. Driving us away.

Highlights of the day were the flowers in the garden of the court house and the cheap booze and fags.

Alghero – 26 June 2018

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Today we were in Sardinia.  We’d been there before, but not to this port.  That meant we didn’t have to go looking for a pizza shop or an art shop we’d been to on previous years!

Spent the morning in the pool again and then decided it was time to go ashore.  Today we had to get a Tender ashore.  As usual with P&O, the organization of the disembarkation was really well done.  Issued with tickets and told to wait in one of the restaurants until our number was called.  It was only about twenty minutes of a wait before we were called, then it was all aboard the Skylark for the short trip to the harbour. 

Alghero was a lovely little place.  One of those places you take an immediate liking to.  Old houses and a few Roman ruins.  Twisty, winding streets with lots of trees and little parks.  Nothing new or brash.  Not a lot of shops and the ones that were there were small jewellery shops or touristy ones.  No big stores, not even a supermarket.  Loads of cafes too.  We stopped and had lunch in one.  I had a pizza and Scamp demolished Spaghetti with Scampi (prawns) and Tomatoes.  Both were voted very good.  The only down side was the number of flies.  Earlier we saw a fountain that would scoot water up at random intervals in the street.  We stood for a while watching kids running round and through it, almost willing the water to start an soak them, but eventually they got fed up waiting and ran away … dry.  There were really large (3m long) posters on the walls of buildings showing old people around the town.  I was really impressed with the quality of them.  They seemed to be part of an exhibition.  We didn’t linger long after our lunch and soon got the tender back to the ship.

Dinner was at a table with a strange assortment of people.  A family where the father was really obnoxious and sarcastic to his wife who hardly spoke and a daughter who seemed quite ‘normal’ by comparison.  The other person at the table ‘Barbara’ was playing the ‘little old lady’ card.  She pretended that she was a little bit lost, but managed to wangle a full bottle of wine from the wine waiter by claiming she had handed over her wine card. (When you buy a bottle of wine and don’t drink it all, you can reserve the remainder for the next day and are given a card with a number on it.  That same number is written on to the bottle label.)  I’d seen her take out the card and then slide it into a side pocket of her purse.  After that she berated the wine waiter and told him she had definitely given him her card.  The daughter of the family of the family had seen the subterfuge too, but Barbara got a full bottle to replace her half empty one they couldn’t find without the matching number.  Must try that trick some time.

Not a lot going on after dinner, so a couple of drinks and then it was time for bed, and a sea day tomorrow.

Civitavecchia – 25 June 2018

P1050163- blogDespite all our plans and research, we decided not to go to Rome today.  Instead we’d go round Civitavecchia again.

This was definitely a bus into town day.  It’s a long walk to the town from where the ship was berthed.

As usual there was an enormous queue when we first looked, but we weren’t in a hurry.  Went for a swim in the inside/outside pool.  Finally decided to go about 11.30.  Queue by that time was minimal and we got on the bus which was just arriving.  My main task today was to get some watercolour paint.  Burnt Umber if you must know.  I had a bit left in the pan in the paintbox, but a tube bought in a holiday place always brings reminders of it on dark winter days. I remembered chancing upon a stationers shop that sold art materials the last time we were in the town and I was sure I could find it again. I did eventually find the shop, but they didn’t have any watercolour paint.  Acrylic and Oils, even some pastels and marker pens, but no watercolour.  Well, at least the shop was still there, almost where I remembered it to be.

Scamp was looking for a pizza restaurant where she remembered us having a pizza and using their WiFi the last time we were here.  Despite looking in all the places it remained elusive.  We had a beer each in a little street cafe instead and that was good enough for me.  The place hadn’t changed much, but we did find a street we hadn’t been on before and while we investigated it, I noticed the clouds were drifting in.  Scamp said she thought she’d hear a clap of distant thunder too.  Not good.  As we walked down the street, I came across an artist’s shop!  It stocked W&N paints too, but it was closed, probably for lunch.  It didn’t matter, those clouds were definitely getting blacker and closer and the thunder was coming closer too.   It was time to go back on the ship.  If I got a chance I’d come back and get the paint.  If not, then maybe tomorrow.

Just got the bus back to the ship and were inside when the rain came on, and it stayed on all afternoon.  Spent the rest of the day in the inside/outside pool swimming and soaking in the hot tubs.  I didn’t get back in to town for that paint, although the rain disappeared just before we left the port.

Dinner was in the sit down restaurant.  We had two young(ish) boys at our table.  About 18/19 years old.  Scamp and I reckoned they ‘were an item’.  It certainly seemed like it, but they were good company and didn’t seem at all fazed by talking to all these ‘oldies.’

A glass of beer and a G&T sent us off to bed.

Tomorrow it’s Alghero in Sardinia.

Memories of Civitavecchia were the thunderstorm and the new bus parking area next to the castle and the water feature that’s under construction there.  Impressive.  We didn’t even have time for a walk along the prom!

Rambling around La Rambla–22 June 2018

P1050055- blogGot off the ship to the usual scramble for the free bus to take us in to Barcelona.  Asked one of the guides how long it would take to get into town and he told us abouthe t half an hour.   By the look of the snaking queue, it would take well over that to get in to town on the bus, so we walked.  And walked. And walked.  Down past three other cruise ships, past the heli-port and over the bridge to the town.  At the top of arched bridge it became quite bouncy when buses or lorries were passing.  A bit like the suspension bridge over the Clyde at The Green, but on a much bigger scale.  It took us about half an hour, just as predicted.

Walked up La Rambla and watched the ‘Human Statues’ setting up, likewise the craft stall holders.  For once we went in to the market and walked round amazed at the variety and colour of all the fruits, meats and fish that was being sold.  Had a beer in a wee square just outside the market and then continued up La Rambla.  There was a heavy police presence on the street and the now familiar army personnel carrying automatic weapons.  I’d guess with the tensions in this area with Catalan extremists, this is inevitable.  It didn’t seem to put off the hawkers and ‘lookie-lookie’ men selling fridge magnets and fans from their white bed sheets on the ground.

At the top of the street we went through the Place de Catalunia.  I hope I spelled that correctly.  Without any WiFi here that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, it’s difficult to do the normal Google checks! Out along a street, still heading in the same direction I got today’s PoD which is an old man sketching a lovely perspective view of the street.  He was working on a full sheet of watercolour paper, drawing with a sharpened piece of bamboo cane, dipping it in to an ink bottle he held in his other hand.  He seemed to be totally engrossed in his work and although he answered my questions, only gave short answers.  Beautiful work.

I wanted to get back to La Ramba to find the famous Miro mosaic.  It was just where we’d turned off Rambla to go in to the market.  Found it and photographed it.  Just before that I’d done a 15 minute sketch of a wee church in a side street.  Not nearly as good as the old man’s sketch, not even in the park.

Crossed out of Rambla and past a flea market we’d visited when we got to the town, then Scamp found the place where we could get the bus back to the ship.  Don’t think I could have faced another walk back!

Dinner tonight was with a young couple on their honeymoon, a doctor who had broken his neck while at college and was paralysed from the neck down and his carer who we presume was also a nurse.  All great company.

Missed the show, so early bed.

Recovery – 16 June 2018

I was exhausted today, it must have been that salsa dance last night.

So tired that I slept until almost 11am. Thankfully Scamp took pity on me and let me sleep on. Woke to the news that the GSA had burned down for the second time in four years. Such a pity after all the work that’s been put into it. Thankfully the new building wasn’t touched, but the old Mac building looks like a shell now. Perhaps that’s the way it should remain.

Didn’t do very much, didn’t even have to bring the car down from where I’d parked it last night. Scamp did the honours and drove down very carefully and parked it for me.

Later in the afternoon I went for a walk to St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which is of a hover fly on a flowering weed. I just liked the shot. There’s a more arty one on Flickr if you care to visit it. It’s a leaf covered in water droplets from the torrential rain we had this morning.

Dinner was a frugal potatoes, fish fingers and spaghetti. Maybe frugal, but quite delicious. A house speciality.

That’s about it for today. Tomorrow is going to be a busy day, but hopefully with a good outcome.

The Web – 11 June 2018

I had an appointment with the nurse today to review my blood results. Never much fun.

Before that I was booked to drive Scamp to the hospital for what turned out to be her last appointment. She’s now officially signed off.

After I dropped her back at the house, I grabbed my new shoes and took them for a run to Glasgow Fort to return them or exchange them for a half size bigger. Got there to find it wasn’t a Clarks outlet store, so they couldn’t process them. If you Google “Clarks outlet stores Glasgow” the map shows three pins. One of which is The Fort. If I’d read the text I’d have discovered it wasn’t an outlet. Why is the pin there on a map showing Outlet stores? Don’t know. The manager wasn’t that helpful, he just kept telling he “I don’t do the web”. Almost like “I don’t do drugs”. Maybe he should “Do the web”. (Maybe he should do drugs too.) What he should do is work on his customer skills. He just wanted to wash his hands of me and told me I should write to The Web and complain that they were showing the wrong information. Does anyone know the address for The Web? Maybe I just write my complaint on vellum, put it in an envelope, seal it with sealing wax and address it to:

The Web
Internet Land
The World

I should write to Clarks and suggest they give this man a computer and a modem then get someone to sit down with him and explain what Tim Berners-Lee invented. I bet he doesn’t even have electricity in his house. You should go to Clarks in The Fort, ask for the manager and say “Hi. You don’t know me, I’m The Web.”

Drove home blazing, but not quite incandescent. I didn’t know then that I was on the wrong. That’s when the incandescence started. Calmed down when Scamp left to go to Marjie’s Afternoon Tea. Sat and drew a face or two from Croquis Cafe. Just to show that I’d done some homework for Wednesday.

Saw the nurse and she reassured me that my stats were ok. Nothing to worry about, and she was very impressed JIC, that you’d convinced me I had to take paracetamol for about a week before I’d see any improvement. The problem with my knee is most likely a torn ligament. Painful, but not serious.

Drove to Salsa but didn’t want to dance in case I made my knee any worse. What I did do was help out with Irene’s class who are Level 1 week 6 so, fairly simple stuff that doesn’t involve dangerous twisting. Certainly couldn’t face the Advanced class so I took my leave and went for a walk around Kelvinbridge. Got the PoD there which started out as a boring, dull shot of the actual Kelvin Bridge, then dunked it in a bucket of ON1 (my newest photo-processor) and out came a faded, sepia toned aged print.

Going to meet the Auld Guys for beers and lunch tomorrow, hopefully.

Zoglets Everywhere – 10 June 2018

They may be Frogs or Froglets to some, but to me they must be Zoglets.

The day didn’t start well with pain in my knee, but once I was up, showered and with a couple of paracetamol in me, I felt much better.

<Technospeak>
This bit is very complicated, so just keep your eyes closed when you’re reading it JIC. Right. Last night I made a backup of the Linx before it got a chance to install the Spring Update. After that I allowed it to do the update, as if I had a choice! It was taking hours. Two hours in, it had done less than 20%, so I halted the update process by doing that old trick of holding down the power button for ten seconds. I connected up the magic usb memory stick and the backup drive, booted to the memory stick and reinstalled the May backup which doesn’t have the overload of the downloaded Spring Update (SU) and left it there.

Today I booted that May backup. I don’t know what went wrong, because I’ve used this backup before, but everything went screwball. Restarted again and reinstalled last night’s backup with the SC taking up 10GB of extra disk space. As soon as I booted Windows asked when it should do the upgrade. Ach, to hell with it. Just do it. I’m pretty sure you can downgrade again, almost sure. This upgrade went much quicker. The whole thing was over in less than 2 hours. After I’d answered all the questions with NO, the system worked fine. I’m now toying with the idea of deleting the 19GB of ‘Windows.old’ that is Microsoft’s own backup, just in case something does go wrong. Perhaps, because of all the hassle so far, I’ll just leave it. Ok Eyes Open time JIC.
</Technospeak>

Planted my last two seed potatoes today in an enormous black bucket today. They’re meant to be ‘earlies’, just not that early. With that and with a bit of cutting and pruning I was finished with gardening for today.

Scamp chased me out, telling me to go out for a walk for half an hour. I took her at her word and went over to St Mo’s for a walk. That’s where I found the Zoglets. There must have been hundreds of them wandering around. That wasn’t PoD though, the dragonfly took that award. Surprisingly, it was the exact same dragon as yesterday’s PoD! What’s the chances of that? I did feel better after the walk. When you’re just sitting about in the house, aches in you knees seem to be there all the time with you. When you’re out walking, you’re too busy looking around you to notice the nag in your knee. Well done Scamp. Well done too for dinner tonight. Sea Bass with Broccoli and New Potatoes. Can’t go wrong with that, especially cooked by an expert.

Tomorrow? Hospital for Scamp in the morning. Scamp out for afternoon tea later and I’ve got the results of my blood test after that. Finally, we’re hoping to go dancing at STUC. Phew!

Nematode Nemesis – 8 June 2018

Slugs and snails beware. The end is nigh.

A package dropped through the letterbox today and in it were two boxes of Nematodes. One to treat the garden and hopefully eradicate the slug infestation and another to do the same for vine weevil. I’m not sure we have vine weevil, but I suspect we have and I know for certain that we have more than our fair share of slugs. I don’t really mind the shell carrying snails, but I hate slugs. The instructions on the box said to keep them in the fridge. I said no thanks and put them outside in the bin that holds the fertiliser and compost bags.

I took some photos of the Ladybird Poppies, macro, of course, and it was one of those that became PoD. Also on the agenda for today was putting up a frame for the peas. I’d bought the wood yesterday and also some woodscrews. It’s a pain having to buy these things, but like I said yesterday, I don’t have access to these materials and consumables any more! The frame wasn’t too difficult to erect and screw in place. The netting was a bit more of a faff, getting it stretched across the frame and clipped in place with staples and cable ties. Even after all this work, the bloody minded pea plants wouldn’t hang on to the netting. The ungrateful things just hung there for a minute or so and then dropped back to the ground. After a bit of delicate weaving of the tendrils, they eventually got the idea. I think I must have planted dim peas.

<Technospeak>
I spent the afternoon clicking and typing away at the new Win10 machine, trying to get it to create a macro to allow me to log on to my blog. I can do it on the Mac using a macro created with Keyboard Maestro, but there’s nothing like that app in WindowsWorld. You have to resort to some cryptic code in AutoHotKey to get anything like the same result. I finally managed to adapt a piece of code I found on an internet forum, but it only works with Internet Explorer. It’ll be another afternoon of swearing before I can get it to do the same on Firefox. Finally when I shut down the PC it wanted to do an upgrade. Now is that different from an update? Who knows. Maybe when I switch on the computer today everything will be different. I doubt it.
</Technospeak>

A walk across St Mo’s later cleared my head and gave me some photos of dragonflies and also a couple of coots feeding their scraggy little red headed young.  A cool breeze at times, but still a beautiful day.

After dinner it was time to deal with the pesky slugs. Dissolved the contents of the nematode packet in a 5 litre bucket of water and stirred frantically. Removed 500ml (ish) into the watering can and diluted it to 5 litres of slug nemesis. Tried to water it over the raised bed with the rose, but found that the rose was too fine. Had to remove it and just pour it on. Repeated this round the plants and pots in the garden until the bucket was empty. I should have watered it in later, but it was getting a bit cool, so we left it to nature, it’s supposed to rain tonight.

Tomorrow we may go to Stirling to look for cheap trainers for me and lunch for us.