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.

Preparation Day – 6 July 2018

A day of bad coffee, pizzas and surprise visitors

A trip to Tesco in the morning bought almost all the ingredients for tomorrows dinner with Crawford & Nancy and June & Ian. Scamp set to to build the dessert while I sat around and solved today’s Sudoku. We all have skills, we just have to utilise them the way we see best. After the prep was done, we went out for what Scamp called “a Light Lunch”. After ticking off the likely venues on our fingers, we plumped for Craigend Nursery. It’s a plant nursery, but their big claim to fame is their restaurant/cafe. We used to go there a lot, but now not so much. I know why. Burnt water pretending it’s coffee and a panini you could hammer in nails with was not what Scamp meant by “a Light Lunch”. Having said that, her Fish Finger Sandwich which was three sandwiches of hefty sliced bread filled with deep fried fish was lovely. Three slice was too much for her, so I helped her clear her plate. The attention to detail and desire to satisfy customers was evident when the girl making up the bill asked “Was everything alright?” and Scamp replied “No, not the best”. The girl’s reply was “Sorry”. No desire to ask what was wrong or even to pass it up the chain if she felt she couldn’t help us, just “Sorry”. We’re sorry too. This used to be a good place for a lunch, light or otherwise. Now it’s a victim of its own success.

Back home and there was cleaning to be done. There were also photos to be taken and I know which of these tasks was on my to-do list. Grabbed my cameras and drove down to Auchinstarry to look for the elusive kingfisher. Didn’t find it, but I did find Mrs Swan out with the weans. That became PoD. Most interesting shot was a green caterpillar on a mission to cross my path as quickly as possible. Maybe it was going to a meeting or something. Used the new macro lens at ground level to get a more interesting point of view. Oh it was hot. The day had started just over 16ºc but it must have been well above twenty now.

Walked back and made some bread dough to try out Scamp’s idea of bread rolls pinched from Epicurean, then sat in the garden for a while with Scamp, but without a drink as I was nominated driver for tonight, taking Scamp and Moira to a witches evening in Bonnybridge. It was after I got back and was halfway through dividing up the dough into the individual rolls, while heating my pizza dinner that our surprise visitors arrived. Crawford & Nancy stood on the doorstep thinking I was joking when I said it was tomorrow night they should be coming. I don’t know who was more embarrassed, them or me. I invited them in, but told them that Scamp was out for the night, but they refused. Hope they come back tomorrow!

I had intended getting a pizza from Domino’s, but after asking for an anchovy and olive pizza and being taken through the script:

“Did you say it was a pizza you wanted?” YES.
“What size pizza?” MEDIUM
“What would you like on it?” Anchovy and Olive
“Did you say Olive?” YES, and Anchovy
“We don’t have anchovies.” FORGET IT

Poor wee soul, he seemed surprised. Why didn’t I want his pizza. He could have told me at the start that they didn’t do anchovies, but that would have taken him off-script into the dangerous territory where you have to think and that just won’t do!

So, tomorrow. Should be making starter in the morning then Scamp will be assembling dessert and maybe we’ll go for lunch somewhere, but not Craigend.

“I ordered up some Suzette … – 27 June 2018

… I said could you please make that Crêpes.”
(Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream)

Painting class in the morning and today it was a pelican we were rendering on paper. It wouldn’t have been my first choice and in the end it looked a bit more like a distorted swan than the exotic fish eater. Still, as as I used to say, it’s done now. Scamp went dancing while I was struggling with a pelican and she was much more successful than me.

After that we went for a swim, walked round the ship and did a bit of dolphin spotting. However, there were other things in the sea, mostly junk. Bottles (maybe some with messages in), leaves, pieces of paper and a turtle. I thought it was a leaf at first, but then I realised that we were about ten decks up from the sea and there isn’t much to give a sense of scale. Then it moved its flippers and leaves don’t have flippers. It was a turtle. Too late I told Scamp and by that time it was a little brown smudge on the top of the water. We waited and waited and only saw one more. No photos I’m afraid, no time to get the camera focused on the little creatures and take the shot. Not when you’re travelling at 20 knots on an undulating sea. Still, we saw turtles. Also saw a pod of dolphins. No photos there either, but I did get a good shot of blue water where the dolphin had been.

Months ago we booked a meal at Epicurean, assuming that as it was the first week of the cruise, it would be menu ‘A’. It’s not as simple as that. Menus are rotated on a four or five day cycle and we got menu ‘B’ which to Scamp’s disappointment didn’t finish with a Crêpe Suzette. After what was an otherwise faultless meal we booked tonight’s dinner in the sure and certain knowledge that it would be menu ‘A’. It didn’t disappoint. We sat at the rail at the back of the ship watching the world drift by and looking out at where we’d been. Below us were the rear swimming pools and we could listen in to conversations of swimmers doing the same as us, but without the encumbrance of posh dress or heavyweight kilt, because tonight was a ‘Black & White’ dress code. National dress trumps ‘Black & White’, by the way. I’ll fill in the menu when I get a chance to check it, but what sticks in my mind were the ‘amuse bouche’, namely Bloody Mary Lollypops and Blackcurrant and White Chocolate Lollypop! Inventive.

That was about it for the day. Tomorrow it’s Gibraltar. Monkeys and cheap booze.