Recovery time – 9 February 2019

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. So going to bed late, very late for some makes you the opposite? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Didn’t break the surface until well after 9am this morning. I consoled myself with the thought that I must have needed the rest, then after breakfast I fell back asleep. Finally got up and Scamp suggested lunch at Wagamama in The Fort. The Fort used to be a dump, but now that they’ve tidied it up, installed a coffee shop (unfortunately a Costa!) and a bookshop, not to mention Wagamama, it’s not at all bad. Yes Scamp, good call, we’ll go to Easterhouse for lunch. Bet you never thought I’d say that forty odd years ago!

Drove there and for once we got parked without a problem, unlike back at the house where it seemed that somebody was designing a slalom on the street with cars, vans and even lorries apparently abandoned everywhere. Wandered round the shops and bought some stuff that we both needed / wanted, then went to Wagamama which was jumping! Saturdays, the days when the working people go out shopping. Food took a little time to come, but it was busy. Scamp’s was not very hot, so she complained, she’s getting good at that, and got it replaced. It was a Raisukaree Curry and it looked and tasted lovely. I had a Chicken and Prawn Teppenyaki and although it was a bit dry, which was my fault for not checking, it was very tasty. Would I have it again? Probably not. I’d probably opt for my favourite Ramen, almost any flavour would do!

When we came out I grabbed today’s PoD which is the head of a bronze deer sculpture by Lucy Casson. There is a little group of them outside the restaurant. Then we went our different ways. Me to Hobbycraft to be shocked at the price they were asking for tubes of watercolour. Eight quid for the smallest tube? Luckily I’ve got plenty to keep me going. Scamp went looking for clothes. We met back at the car, both of us empty handed.

Drove to Morrisons to get ‘messages’ and the makings of pakora tonight, and that was it for the tour of The Fort. Storm Erik was still blustering around trying desperately to sound like the promised tornado, but not fooling anyone. Drove home watching the changing light on the hills caused by the clouds being ripped apart by the wind. Very pretty.

Attempted to make pakora tonight, but it wasn’t a glowing success. Couldn’t remember how to get the batter to the right consistency and as Scamp kept saying, there was something missing from the filling. Still not sure what it was. All we have now it dirty oil. It looks like somebody’s changed the oil in an old car. Need to find somewhere to dump it now.

Tonight’s sketch was done while watching a quite interesting documentary about Bowie. All these old blokes who used to be youngsters in the Spiders From Mars. Interesting part was listening to how they created the backing tracks with ancient technology.

Tomorrow we’re back to normal rising time hopefully and may go dancing later.

Out early – 17 January 2019

Not very early, just after 10am, but much earlier than usual

Scamp was off to see Isobel for coffee at 10am and I was up and out a few minutes later. Just a walk over to St Mo’s to see if there was anything worth taking the camera out of the bag for. I’d put some beeswax on to my old Lafuma boots which are about twenty years old now. Not the best boots in the world, but they’ve a Goretex lining and they’ve a decent sole, so they’re better than my Clarks boots, just as long as I remember to wax them.

I was just walking towards the woods when I saw the three deer I was hoping to photograph, running away. Oh well, hopefully there will be other things to photograph. Despite the blue skies and the ice on the ponds, there was nothing that fired my interest and I was walking back home when I saw the opportunity to take another low level shot by resting the camera on some thin ice. It’s a view I couldn’t get any other way. The Nikon was out of the question. Too heavy and wrong lens selection. It had to be the Teazer today and it performed quite well. I’d cleaned it last week by using the Dyson to suck some of the dust from the lens. I hadn’t believed this would work, but it did. Best of the shots is above after a fair bit of work in ON1 2019 and Lightroom.

Got home just before Scamp and then we went out to recce tomorrow’s venue for dinner with Margaret and Billy. Their treat, their choice of restaurant. They’d chosen John Carrigan’s in Blantyre. Now I know where Blantyre is and I know how to get there, but just in case, I punched the postcode into the satnav and blindly followed it. It was a strange route that eventually took us within 100m of my Auntie Mary’s house. The last time I was there was easily 45 years ago, but I still remembered the geography of the place. Really strange seeing the changes that had taken place. Even stranger was when the satnav said “turn left then immediately turn right”. That’s when I saw a pub that I used to pass on my way to work 50 years ago!! It looked exactly the same and I don’t think it had been painted since. Despite the strange route, the satnav did bring us exactly to the restaurant. I decided to follow my nose to find our way back home rather than take the twisty turny road we’d come. My route took almost the same time, but was much easier.

Back home, there was just enough time for a cup of tea before I was out again to the doc’s. The doc hadn’t been happy with my last blood test and wanted another one now that a month had elapsed since the previous one. Unfortunately, just before it was my turn, he was called away on an emergency. I hate waiting for the doctor or the dentist but I dare say emergencies happen and must take priority. I was dealt with fairly quickly and then was ‘lucky’ enough to get an appointment tomorrow. So, after a busy day today, I’m off to the health centre tomorrow for a blood test at 8.50am no less!! I don’t usually surface until 10am! What are these medical people thinking, getting a pensioner up at that time of the morning?

Well, if I’m up that early, I might as well take my camera with me and hopefully get some early morning shots of those deer before they have fully woken up.

Adding up the numbers – 15 January 2019

Highlight of the day was a visit to Falkirk.

First things first. Before we went our exciting trip, I fixed a dodgy wire on the plug that supplied electricity to the light in the loft and that allowed me to clear out some more junk. As a result, we had a place to store the Christmas decorations and that’s what we did. The decorations are now in their storage area and the spare room is a lot tidier.

Time to get ready to meet Andrew, the FA. Nothing to do with Football or Associations. Everything to do with numbers. The numbers were good. Some tweaks had been made and were explained, graphs were demystified and the bottom line was a very acceptable number. Andrew threw in his usual deliberate mispronunciations, today best one was Angela Meerkat, thrown into a serious discussion of global finances in such a deadpan way that you wondered “Did he really say that?”. It’s just one of his eccentricities, that and his shirts. Today’s flamboyant example was covered in large wine coloured roses. His prediction that the pound would rise tonight after the vote for/against Theresa May’s Brexit bill no matter what the result, has just been proven correct. An astute man with a wicked sense of humour. Always worth listening to.

A quick visit to Morrisons for essentials, but no strawberries and churros today. Real essentials, for a change. Then it was home. The headlights came on as we left Morrisons and it was just before 3pm. It was a dull, drizzly day, but the clouds were thinning as the light was disappearing. I decided to drop Scamp off and go for a quick drive down to Broadwood Loch to grab a shot or two. As it turned out it was nine shots, and the best one was what you see above. I liked the ball sitting on the great expanse of dirty concrete under a gloomy sky. The curved railings are due to the shot being taken with the Samyang fish eye lens.

When I got back, there was a message on the phone from Pest Control at NLC to check if we still had a problem and I told him we did have last night.  He then set out the steps the council would take with the council houses one either side of us and said that we would be advised what repairs needed done to our house.  No date was given for the examination, but I think sooner rather than later given the MSP’s email.  We’ll see.

So, Theresa has lost the vote by the biggest majority in history. Will it make any difference to the price of fish? Maybe, but we’ve got enough fish in the freezer to see us through for a week or two. Interesting times ahead.

Tomorrow we may be dancing in the afternoon if Michael is fit. He texted Scamp to say he has the flu. My heart goes out to him.

A day that starts with a dentist visit – 14 January 2019

… Is a lost cause!

Well, not totally lost because I was out within about fifteen minutes, £33 lighter, but with a front tooth that was back in business. Drove home, solved the ‘Mild’ Sudoku and had a cup of coffee.

Then it was almost time to go for Gems, but first Scamp and I cleaned out the smelly fridge once more, but still it smells. Can’t work out where the smell is coming from. We’ve taken everything out, chucked out half of it, only put back stuff we both agree we’ll use. We washed all the jars before putting them back. Washed the shelves and today we washed the walls of the fridge just to be sure we were covering every base. Still it’s there. My only thought is that the drain at the bottom of the fridge is leaking into the insulation of the box itself and that’s where the smell is coming from. Tomorrow I may put some disinfectant down the drain hole.

Went out for a while in the early afternoon to get some photos while the sun was shining and Gems were singing. Got some interesting macro shots of a lichen I’d never heard of before. It was Dog Lichen (Peltigera canina) so called because the fruiting bodies resemble a dog’s teeth. You might be able to see why from the photo at the top. There wasn’t much else to see today so I wandered back home to make the dinner.

We were going early to Salsa tonight because Mhairi and Robert were going to a new beginners class at 6.30. Wow, what a big class. Scamp and I helped out as there weren’t enough leaders (as usual). Our own class was remarkably small again. Where have all the leaders gone, I wonder? We covered Akia (that’s how you spell it apparently), Erato, Titanic and just for fun at the end, Roulette, the Rueda move.

Heard our first little scuttling noise from the ceiling tonight when we got home. First one in about four nights, but still disappointing. Stared to keep a record so we can pursue the issue (and the rodents) further.

Tomorrow we go visit Andrew in Falkirk.

The “Rat Man”cometh – 11 January 2019

Today we were expecting the “Rat Man”to call and hoping he’d call early so we could go out to lunch. He didn’t, he came in the middle of the day and spoiled our plans.

So the “Rat Man”came and found that the trap he’d put down in the back garden had not been touched, which we both found a bit surprising because we’d had a few nights without any rodents. However, when he checked at No 36 he found that all the poison he’d put down was gone. Maybe we’ve found the source of the problem. He’d put the poison down in the loft there and he suspected the access route was through a hole in the flashing at their gable end. Since their loft is at the same level as our upstairs floor, it seems there may be access from No 36 to our ceiling void. I’ll need to check that. When he’d laid down some fresh poison next door he came round and explained that as there was nothing to find in our house he was signing us off. I suppose that’s logical, but I will miss him, because I got fed up typing “Rat Man” for the blog and I created a Keyboard Maestro shortcut which would type “Rat Man” for me if I typed R M! He said that he’d be back to check No 36 again next week, but he’d drop in to see what progress we’d had. As a leaving gift, he gave me a couple of blocks of poison on a wire trace that he encouraged me to lob up into the ceiling void and check it next week by pulling it out with the wire. I took it and removed the blanking plate then lobbed it like he suggested and then replaced the plate. Now we wait and see!

<Technospeak>
With the coast clear, I grabbed the Nikon and a couple of lenses and walked around St Mo’s for an hour. It was only when I came back that I realised the aperture had been set to f22, which is a tiny wee hole letting very little light through. The camera doesn’t want to use a really slow shutter speed, so it compensates by using a very high ISO speed. High ISO speeds mean lots of digital noise which used to be called ‘noise’. It gives lots of tiny little coloured dots on the photo, especially noticeable in areas of flat tone, like the sky and on still water. All my photos had those tiny little dots. Despite my processing you can still see them in the PoD. Disappointed.
</Technospeak>

Scamp gave me a fright when she came back early from Tesco saying the car was making a ‘funny noise’. I feared the worst, but it turned out she had accidentally run over a tube of plumber’s mastic and the goo had covered one of her tyres. As she was driving it was curing and coming off in strands, banging against the wheel arch and making the ‘funny noise’. No damage done and after we’d taken it for a test drive most of it had rubbed off the tyre. Breathe again.

Tomorrow we may go to Hamilton for a curry if the weather is decent.

A day in the toon – 10 January 2019

Went for coffee with the boys and then decided to wander round Glasgow.

Finished off Colin’s calendar and with the ink barely dry, set off for the town centre. For once we were all there and the chat was good for an hour and a half until Jeanette arrived to drag Val away to do the shopping. That seemed to signal a breakup in the group and we all went our merry way.

I’d half intended going in to Glasgow for a walk and a bit of window shopping and as the day was still fairly light and almost dry, that’s what I did. Parked deliberately on level 5 of the multi so I could walk straight in to the ‘toyshop’ level of JL. However, there weren’t many toys at a price I was willing to consider, far less spend, but that was ok, because I was only window shopping. I think it’s true what the pundits on the news have been saying, there’s so many cut price weekends and end of season sales now, the January Sales haven’t the bargains they used to have. They’re just a means to ditching the Xmas tat they were selling full price a month ago. The great thing about them is the silence. No longer do we have to be assailed by xmas musak. Wizzard and Cliff Richard have now been put back in their box along with the mistletoe and wine.

Down Bucky Street and along Argyle Street looking for a PoD. I eventually got it in the form of the back of the St Enoch’s subway entrance. I joked with a couple of students who were also photographing it that it looked as if there was a queue forming to take the best shot. They agreed that it was an interesting building, but not as good as the old sandstone entrance to the station that’s now a Nero. I had to disagree with them when they said the cafe spoiled it. At least the cafe had changed the building only very slightly. It could have been a lot worse. We agreed to differ and went our separate ways.

That was about the extent of my Glasgow walk. I did buy myself a pair of bluetooth headphones just because they were cheap and looked better than the other ones I’d bought last week. I was right, they were fine. Got two songs out of them before the battery died.

Finally found out how to retrieve the call list on the Juke. If you delete the phone from the Juke’s system, then plug it in using a USB cable, it installs it again and the call list reappears fully loaded with its previous numbers. Why you need to connect it with a cable when it’s a Bluetooth system, only Nissan knows. Also, it’s only the iPhone that needs this connection.

There was a slight patter of tiny rodent feet tonight and there had been the same on Tuesday night. Certainly not as much as before, but it will be reported to the “Rat Man”when he returns tomorrow.

Because we need to wait for the “Rat Man” tomorrow we have no other plans. If he comes early, which we suspect he will, we may go out to lunch.

Every Cloud

Apparently every one of them has a shiny metallic inside covering.

Today we were awake and ready to rise from 8am. That was the earliest the “Rat Man” would arrive. With that in mind, Scamp was up and out by 9.30. I was much more relaxed and waited ‘till the end of the chapter of the excellent “Lies Sleeping”, well actually it was the end to the second chapter as it turned out. Still, I’m trying to meter myself with this book, because I know it will be another year before the next one gets published. After coffee and the first run through of today’s Sudoku puzzle, it was time to go back up stairs to clear out the top three shelves of the ‘tank press’ cupboard. It’s been called that since we moved in to the house thirty odd years ago and about twenty years since the actual hot water tank was removed. We waded into the multiple tins of paint, varnish and paint remover. We sorted through boxes of hammers, saws, chisels and gouges. We threw out a fair bit of what might be called antiques, but were really just rubbish and we put the rest back in a much more orderly manner. All this because we worried that the rodents might have built themselves a nest in that cupboard. They hadn’t, thankfully, but as Scamp said, “Every cloud has a silver lining.” I have to agree the cupboard looks a lot more organised. She also said that we should look, next, at the ‘towel cupboard’. So called because it has towels in it. It’s also got loads of cables, cardboard boxes, more cables, boxes of Lego and even more cables. This may take a little longer.

After lunch the “Rat Man” phoned to say he’d be with us in about an hour, and he was as good as his word. He still seemed determined that the rodents were in the loft, but we insisted that we’d heard them last night in the ceiling void. He inspected my handiwork blocking up the hole in the downstairs cupboard and seemed very impressed. What did he expect from an ex-woodwork teacher? He did a fairly extensive survey of the outside of the house back and front and agreed with the lady on the phone who had suggested that he’d probably put down an external box with poison that it’s hoped the rodents will carry in under the house and feed the family in the nest. A sort of rodent Trojan Horse. With that done he went to inspect the house at No 26 where he thought he had seen a possible access hole near the steps to their back door. We bid him farewell and hoped that when he returned in a week’s time we’d have a quieter house.

It was a dull, dreary day, but I’d already got a PoD. While we were waiting for the “Rat Man” I had taken a few shots of Scamp’s Christmas Rose plant on the back step. The flowers are beautiful and just seem to keep coming. The best shot it at the top of the page. Camera on a Gorilla Pod allowed me to use low ISO and remote control from the phone app. That prevented me from getting grain like golfballs in the low light.

That was about it for the day. I think we may be going in to Glasgow tomorrow so I can get my hair cut. New year, New hair.

The wanderer returns – 10 December 2018

Scamp was on the road this morning on the return journey from Blackpool.

I was on the road even earlier, but I was walking. Just a gentle stroll around St Mo’s ponds then a walk through the trees. I’d been up earlier to check the traps and found I’d got one rodent. I thought at first it was a mouse, but later realised it was probably a small rat. Either way, it wasn’t going anywhere so I left it to go and get some photos in the hoar frost that lay over everything. Some beautiful lighting at that time in the morning. It was one of those shots that made PoD.

Finished my walk by going in to Condorrat to get bread and a couple of rolls. One of the latter would be eaten with butter and jam, washed down with a cup of my new blend 2 parts Cuban and 1 part Kenyan beans. Count the air miles and therefore the amount of CO2 that has been spread across the world all because of my desire to drink coffee. It’s worth it.
The other roll would hold a medium-rare square sausage. So called because it’s square and it’s made of sausage meat. Clever use of language there.

After my coffee and the roll ’n’ jam, I disposed of the rodent in the trap and nearly lost a finger resetting the trap. Checked the other traps, but they were empty. Next I set to work on cutting and laying the new carpet tiles in the downstairs toilet. As usual with these things, I started out very slowly and deliberately, and finished by cutting corners, literally. You’d never tell. Strangely only one of the six tiles had its nap running the wrong way. It looks good, so good that Scamp didn’t even notice that it had been done. Not surprising as the colour of the tiles is remarkably close to the original. It’s only when you walk on the new tiles you realise the quality is much better than the thin tiles that are now in the boot of the car, ready to be taken to the dump. I think I earned that medium-rare square sausage on a well-fired roll.

Scamp eventually returned about 4pm and after dinner we went out to Salsa where we learned or for us, re-learned an old move: Setenta Batman. One of the moves which look impossible until you actually try it. Jamie G described part of it as a “Matrix style turn”. I agree, but I can do it.

Tomorrow, a lazy day, maybe a bit less cold than today, but today was much less cold than a year ago. Go look here!

Bad Loser! – 19 November 2018

After breakfast we sat in the warm sun in case it would disappear. It didn’t.

We sat in the sun for most of the morning. Later when it appeared that the sun was staying with us for the day, we went swimming. I swam in both the pools. One was cold and the other was warm by comparison, but not by absolute temperature. Some people who waded in to the ‘warm’ pool thought it cold! This was the pool with the bar and the underwater bar stools. All it lacked today was a barman. He was otherwise engaged clearing tables and serving drinks in the other bar outside the pool.

After lunch Scamp went sunbathing I went looking for dragonflies. I thought I’d seen one yesterday when I was coming back from the lava fields. I didn’t find any dragons, but got a few shots of a Brimstone butterfly photos. I wished I’d brought the Oly M5 with the macro lens, but you can’t have everything. The Teazer and the iPhone were doing sterling duty as default image grabbers. Thought I saw a young fox, but it turned out to be a feral cat.

Later we went for a walk and got then wrote postcards. Couldn’t find a postbox, so that’s tomorrow’s task.

Watched a beautiful sunset this evening. Lovely colours and massed clouds with the sun finally going down behind some palm trees just outside Los Pocillos. That became PoD.

We had forgotten to bring our usual assortment of games, so I bought an UNO card game. Scamp won five games in a row against my none! Not a happy bunny! Sitting in the covered area with the flame heaters on.

Tonight’s show was about dance. Quite funny and enjoyable. Lady in Red sketch was memorable. Drunk woman at the end of the night was not funny! Not Scamp I hasten to add!!

Two Firsts & A Second! – 30 August 2018

Four quid too!

Scamp was out in the morning and that gave me time to start painting my latest masterpiece. It was to be an abstract seascape. I tried using the Inktense sticks, but they didn’t look right once they were down. I think the colours are too ‘cold’, especially the blues. I’ll probably just paint over it again with acrylic tomorrow.

After that and after hanging out the washing, I went to meet Val and Colin. Coffees all round. Fred was missing because he’d to stay in to keep the plumbers on the right lines when they were rebuilding his bathroom. Colin very kindly brought my photos and painting back from the flower show, along with my winnings. Four quid for two firsts and a second! The little piggy watercolour got a first and the landscape of Quiraing also got a first in the photography section. My favourite landscape, Murdo’s old tractor with the Quiraing behind it only got a second. Now it could have been that there were on two photographs and one painting in the competition, I don’t know because we were down in England at the time, but Colin did say that competition was tough, so I’m thinking that’s good enough for me. I’m now considering entering the little piggy in the Venice Biennale. I think it has a fighting chance.

Came home and realised that I didn’t have a photo for today, so got my cycling shorts and long sleeved top on and took the Dewdrop out on the back road to Kirkintilloch. That’s where I got the PoD. I also got a fairly good shot of these four horses in a field under a glowering sky, but the landscape felt more luminous, so it won.

Fell off the bike on the way back. I think the SPDs need some adjustment or maybe some grease. Left shoe is sticking a lot. Amazingly, the right pedal is fine although it’s caked in dried mud. The left one is shiny clean and it’s the one that’s sticking. Can’t fathom it out. I’ll grease them and see if that helps. No harm done in the fall, just my pride, but luckily there was no-one there to see me!

Dinner tonight deserves special mention. It was Chicken Milanese with potatoes and a big hunk of broccoli. Scamp showing just how good a cook she is. Absolutely delicious.

Tomorrow Scamp is out to lunch with the witches. May take the Dewdrop out again along the same road as today. I’ve a hankering to climb the Kirky Volcano. It’s actually an old pit bing, but from certain angles it looks like a volcano.