Electrifying – 31 January 2019

We’d both postponed the clearing out of the electricity cupboard for far too long. We even tried to ignore it today too, but we both knew we’d have to give up the pretence and get started.

A cup of coffee each about 10.30pm and then we both decided at the same time to get started. The reason for the big clean out was nothing to do with a certain Japanese lady and everything to do with a strange smell that’s pervaded the house for a week or so. With so many “pellets of poison” (A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan) in various places in three houses I thought there might be a deceased rodent somewhere under the floor of the cupboard. However, if we found some items in the cupboard that were surplus to requirements, it would make sense to dispose of them at the same time.

By lunchtime we’d cleared the cupboard and filled the kitchen with the resulting detritus. I’d lifted some floorboards and checked for any dead rodents and there were none. I’d photographed in all directions under the floorboards and around the various pipes. Nothing, except some insulation, tar and heavy duty polythene, all held in place by plastic netting. Just to be sure, I lifted the floorboards in the toilet too with the same result. We did manage to fill a black rubbish bag with lots of stuff. Yes, there is still a lot of stuff that has been put back and needs to be looked through again, but the cupboard isn’t nearly as congested as it was.

Just as we were finishing, Hazy phoned and we caught up with things in the London area, then it was time for lunch. A slightly more down to earth lunch than yesterday’s posh lunch. Afterwards I loaded lots of bags into the Juke and took them away to the council tip. Some were probably antiques, especially cobblers lasts for repairing shoes, but I didn’t throw everything away. I kept a couple of lasts and some tools. I also kept a replacement heel for a man’s shoe. It was marked with the letters WD and an up pointing arrow, which I think was for the War Department.

When I came home I brought tonight’s dinner with me. A curry for two from Tesco. Good value for a fiver! With food sorted, I got my boots on and went for a walk in St Mo’s, hoping to get some shots in the mist that was descending. I think I achieved that with the PoD you see here. On the way back I tested the depth of a bit of bog and found it was up to my knee. Luckily only one leg went in and I could easily haul myself out, but wet trousers today with the temperature well below zero were not funny.

Curry was indeed good value and something I’d try again. Tomorrow we have no plans except we need to go for the ’messages’.

Blue Skies and a Little Drop of Poison – 22 December 2018

Blue skies for a while today. Maybe Hazy was right, maybe this is Spring!

This morning, Scamp drove up to see what was left to buy in Tesco. The answer was “Not Much”, but she bought it anyway. I stayed at home nursing a sore throat. Heaven forbid I’ve caught her cold. When she returned it was my turn to go out. I drove out to B&Q and got some rat and mouse poison. If they are avoiding my traps, maybe it’s time to bring out the big guns. Chemical weapons, WMDs. I’m reluctant to use dirty tactics, but as someone said “They’re living in my house and they’re not paying rent.” So I baited the box and placed it in the loft secured by a couple of strips of duct tape. Have you ever tried using duct tape while wearing latex gloves? It’s not easy. If your mind drifts to more erotic images, forget it. This was fully clothed, in a cold loft, surrounded by itchy fibreglass insulation and a few mouse droppings. There, that should clear things up. Set another trap where I thought I heard the little blighter last night. I’ll leave the latest devices in place for a day or two before I check them again.

With my chemical weapons in the boot, I left B&Q and drove up the Arns Road. It’s a mile and a half of single track road with no passing places behind Abronhill. Lovely low angled light from a sun that was heading for the horizon and I managed to get a couple of shots of a new build house on a hill. One of the shots was out of focus, so luckily the other made up for it. Squirted it through Lightroom and it came out looking like the one at the top of the page.

Came home and after solving today’s Sudoku, it was time to get ready to go to J&M’s in Hamilton. Lovely dinner there and a chat with Laura who was home for Christmas. Unfortunately the effervescent Ross was otherwise engaged tonight, so no tall tales from him.

Left just before 10pm as Scamp was beginning to suffer from her cold again. I’m hoping I’ve sidestepped the worst of it, but just to be sure I’m having a little whisky nightcap while I write this with the option of a double dose of vitamin C afterwards.

Tomorrow all depends on the weather. Hopefully it will be like today’s morning and afternoon (sunny) and not like tonight’s drive to Hamilton and back (wet). It also depends on Scamp’s cold.

Rain, sleet, snow, freezing rain, ice, plagues of frogs – 15 December 2018

We were amply warned about all of the above, except the plagues of frogs, but only the rain and a thin covering of snow appeared.

Woke to a dull leaden sky and a thin scraping of snow and expected the worst. By midday the dull leaden sky was still there, but the snow was disappearing and it was raining. Still the weather fairies predicted rain, sleet, snow and freezing rain with roads and paths being reduced to treacherous skating rinks. It rained some more.

We had decided not to go to Embra today, not because of the weather fairies predictions, but because it was just so dull. What was the point when it would be equally dull in Embra. We could save money and do some work in the house instead. I volunteered to take apart the back bedroom in the search for the rodent that still evades us. I moved my art cupboard and lifted the carpet, found a convenient floorboard to lift and found no evidence of there ever having been a rodent in that area. Before I put everything back in place, I took the opportunity to fill a big IKEA bag with a load of unwanted painting canvases and also some odds and sods from the chest of drawers. The rain was getting heavier so I postponed the dumping of the rubbish until tomorrow … at least.

That was the high point of the day. By then it was about 2pm and we were almost at twilight. Tidied the room back to its usual chaotic level and had a cup of coffee. Realised I’d very little coffee left, so ordered some from the Perth shop. Also ordered a new Toy off the Rack. A Raspberry Pi Zero W. The ‘W’ stands for WiFi.

<Technospeak>
This is a miniature computer with a 1.2GHz processor half a gig of memory WiFi and Bluetooth for the princely sum of just under £10. Ok, you have to supply your own keyboard and mouse and also a TV to see what’s going on. I runs on Linux which is a Windows-like OS that is totally free. The best part is that the whole shebang can be powered by a battery pack and is smaller than a cigarette packet. Great for experimenting with and getting your fingers burned when you have to solder some connections but if it all goes off with a bang, you’ve only spent a tenner.
</Technospeak>

Dinner was a plate and a half of Scamp’s delicious soup which is officially called “Just Broth”. Later we had a second go with the ‘Air Fryer’ and this time it was a lot more successful. Made potato wedges that tasted just like my usual ones.

PoD is a wee Lego model of a snail, or maybe it’s a tortoise. It’s hard to tell with Lego. Anyway, I wasn’t going out today, so this was it.

Tomorrow we go searching for food for dinner, hopefully the rain will have stopped and the plagues of frogs will have dissipated by then.

On the Beach – 20 November 2018

We’ve been left. We’ve been right. Today we went straight ahead, across the road and down to the beach.

Paddled in the sea and walked right. Sea was cold but not as rough as the day we went to see the airies.

Walked up through the holiday houses and continued left into Puerto del Carmen and found the post boxes, loads of them! Posted the cards.

Stopped for lunch (burgers with chips) washed down with a beer and a G&T respectively in The Galleon II. A decent Irish pub. Earwigged a conversation between two ‘nice boys’ sitting behind. Watched the yachts sailing past far out in the sea, disappearing then reappearing behind some decorative trees.

Bought some stuff to take back home to the cold country. All the cheap shops are owned or run by Asians!

Back at the hotel Scamp sat and read by the pool and I went to get more photos. Most interesting was a locust and an unconfirmed sighting of a Shrike. I’m beginning to think that the ‘dragonfly’ I was was in fact a locust. They make the same clattering noise with their wings that a dragonfly makes and are just large enough to be mistaken for a small dragon.

Dinner was in the Mexican restaurant at the hotel. It was just ok. The strangest thing I had was Chicken with Mole sauce. The Mole sauce that the chicken is coated in is made from paprika and dark chocolate. Very strange how the sweet spicy sauce works with the chicken. Quesedilas were good to. Afterwards we got an inside seat at the bar with no problem. Not so many German voices now, more English and Irish.

Played UNO and I think I won, but not by the margin Scamp achieved last night.

Tonight’s ‘Acrobat’ show was poor. Two guys who were the acrobats and a girl whose job was to shout “Woo!” at random intervals. Her specialty seemed to be dropping hula hoops. One of the guys was a ‘strongman’. The other did the best act of the night inside a giant hula hoop, looking like Da Vinci’s Vitruvian man.

Sat listening to a singer who thought she was better than she was, accompanied by a good guitarist. Had one dance. Other dancing couple had one dance too. I don’t think the singer wanted us there disturbing her concert. Good luck with the singing career dear, just don’t give up the day job.

Sat on the balcony with G&Ts watching the stars.

Down the Green – 4 November 2018

We’ve been talking about it for a while, now we had to walk the walk, literally.

Drove down to Glasgow Green and walked round our usual circuit of the dear green place. Although there was very little of the ‘green’ stuff visible. Most of it was covered with protective tracks to allow the lorrys pulling the fairground rides to park up. Tomorrow is Bonfire night and The Green usually hosts the fireworks display and to entertain the crowds and to make a few bob on the side, the funfair comes to town.

That wasn’t all. Lots of rowers were out on the river. You could tell that the 8s and 4s were time-served crews, but some of the pairs and single sculls were ropey to say the least. The river was running dirty and full of debris. We watched half a tree, complete with leaves making its way downstream against groups of rowers attempting to head upstream. Eventually it was coaxed into the shallows on the park side of the river. Today’s PoD was a tight crop on one of the rowing fours. I think Scamp’s ankle was acting up because she wasn’t interested in extending our walk and settled for watching the action from the suspension bridge.

Walked over to the People’s Palace and had lunch in the Winter Garden. Such a shame that this lovely structure is to be closed indefinitely. In other words, it will be sealed off until it fails catastrophically, then it will be demolished as it is a H&S risk. That’s cheaper than repairing it. The up side of this decision is that the Councillors Christmas Junket Fund is safe for the next few years.

Had my usual roll ’n’ sausage and a cup of coffee. Scamp had peppermint tea and a piece of shortbread. Then we had a walk round the plants and saw some Dasheen which as far as we can remember is used for making Callaloo in Trinidad.

Drove back and while Scamp went out to dig up some gladioli from the front garden and ‘do a bit of tidying up’ there, I gathered my cameras and went for a walk to St Mo’s. The most interesting thing I saw was a Caddis Fly wildly out of season. They usually hatch in late spring or at the beginning of summer. Poor wee thing looked quite shell-shocked, and no wonder.

Went over to St Mo’s in the evening to see the firework display. Usual set of bangs and flashes, but notably a few purple lights in them for a change. What is it about purple? You don’t see it all that often in fireworks. I’m guessing the chemical used to give that light is more expensive than most the other colours.

Tomorrow is Gems day. I may go to the gym and I may go in to Glasgow looking for drawing ink.

Summer’s gone – 28 October 2018

British Summer Time ended at 2am this morning and I didn’t even hear it go.

So we are now officially out of summer and into the autumn, if not the winter, of our discontent. Even the weather got in on the act with the temperature just managing to climb above zero this morning. Tonight, as I write this, it is dropping away again and sits at 2.1ºc.

We’d half intended to go for a walk in Glasgow Green this morning, but instead we headed in the other direction and visited Asda instead with the twin purposes of buying Cream of Tartar (apparently and essential ingredient in the making of soda scones) and a Halloween tee shirt for Jamie’s Halloween Salsa class tomorrow night. We were partly successful, in that I got a tee shirt and the Cream of Tartar (is Cream of Tartan different? I just typed that by mistake) but Scamp was not impressed by any of the Halloween offerings.

After lunch I went through the usual argument at this time of year: “So, if it’s twenty past ONE now, that’s really the equivalent of twenty past TWO yesterday, since the clocks went back silently this morning. And if it’s now twenty past TWO and a few seconds, I shouldn’t really be sitting here arguing with myself, I should be out in the bright sunshine taking some photos.” Scamp didn’t want to go out for a walk because she was up to her armpits in cake mixture after taking a notion to bake a cake for Gems tomorrow.

I took a walk over St Mo’s suitably wrapped up in the Bergy jacket with the zipped in lining and a warm hat. I wish I’d also taken a warm scarf, but at least I’d the forethought to stuff a pair of gloves in my pocket. The remains of yesterday’s Halloween party were scattered around. Pumpkins everywhere. I’d expected them to be almost completely destroyed by now after having been booted around the park, but no, they were neatly piled up with their toothy grins smiling at passers by. Got a few photos of them, but PoD turned out to be a Harvestman arachnid (NOT a spider).

”Harvestmen have one body section (spiders have two), two eyes on a little bump (most spiders have eight), a segmented abdomen (unsegmented in spiders), no silk, no venom, a totally different respiratory system, and many other differences.”
Burke Museum of Natural History

Anyway, the Harvestman made it to the PoD.

By the time I came back home the temperature was definitely dropping away as the sun was also dropping below the horizon. Such short days at this time of year.

Today’s Inktober sketch, No 28 is of chillies. It might be because of the curry we had for dinner that was just a wee bit hot. It might be because it’s been a chilly day with the temperature not rising much above 5ºc. Anyway, it’s chillies for a chilly day.

Tomorrow is a Gems day. I may go to the gym. Too cold for cycling I fear.

Blue Skies – 15 October 2018

Another beautiful day. Blue skies all around.

Not the warmest of days, but if you were in the sun it was warm, especially because there was little or no wind to draw the heat away.

As it was Gems today, I had to make the decision whether to go to the gym or take the Dewdrop out for a run. That blue sky and the lack of wind made it a no-brainer. Hurled 1 the Dewdrop out  and realised right away that I was over dressed for the conditions. It looked cold, but was remarkably mild. However, I was out now and I wasn’t going back in to remove one of my layers. Better too warm than too cold.

It was a short run, just about five miles or so, but cycling was only part of the reason I was out. I wanted to get some decent shots with the Samyang. Even after a month, I’m still having to get used to it. Today I was looking for macro shots in the ultra-wide. Apparently the Samyang is quite adept at getting in ultra close. It worked too, although as usual you have to be very careful setting the all important focusing distance.

Cycling was a bit aquatic today with loads of puddles and flooded parts of the track I like to ride on. The SPD shoes are great for getting the power down, but practically they are a disaster. Not only are there holes in the sole, the uppers are as waterproof as blotting paper. Apparently the holes in the sole are to allow the water to run out when you’re cycling in the rain, but they also let the standing water in. I don’t think there is a happy medium here.

After dinner we drove in to Glasgow and tonight’s Salsa move was interesting. Not nearly as bad as the one we dodged last week which was just a lucky bag of bits of moves, clumsily bolted together. This one also had bits of moves we already knew, but the joining together was more skilfully done. Jamie learned it from a video by a Polish couple, so it’s called ‘Poland’. That’s the way it is some times!

PoD was a macro shot of a ladybird on a leaf and it works for me. Inktober sketch for today was two bottles and a jam jar sitting on the worktop this morning.

Tomorrow Scamp goes to the dentist again in the morning and I’ll find something to sketch to fill my time.


  1. To Hurl – In the Scottish language does not mean to throw or even to be sick.  To Hurl is to wheel something.  “The mother put the baby in the pram and hurled it down the street.”  It is also possible to give someone a Hurl.  “The old man gave the boy a hurl in the barrow.”  Note that neither prams nor barrows, nor even boys were thrown anywhere. 

Dragonflies, Porridge and Lentil Soup – 21 September 2018

Although not in that order.

Scamp was feeling a little under the weather this morning so I let her sleep on and got up and made some porridge for me. It’s a long while since I’ve had this Scottish breakfast. You can tell it’s the Scottish version if it comes unsweetened or even with added salt. Only sassenachs have honey / sugar / syrup on their porridge. Me? I take it as it comes. No salt and certainly nothing of a sugary nature. I make mine with oats, and milk. Boiled in the microwave for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. I find it funny, the looks I get, when we go on cruises and I add salt to my porridge. That look of horror from the english who don’t know any better 😉
After an hour or so, I took up her light breakfast. No porridge of any kind for Scamp. I was pleased to see her looking a lot better than yesterday.

We had an easy morning and after lunch Scamp instructed me in the noble art of making Lentil Soup. I’ve made soup before, in fact I’d half intended to make Tomato Soup for tonight’s dinner, but I’ve never attempted soup using the time honoured “a handful of this and a pinch of that and just about this amount of water”. It’s what my mum used in her cooking and what Scamp’s mum used too. I’m more a ‘time and temperature’ person, working to millilitres and grams where possible. Anyway, the soup turned out too thin, so I had to add “Just about a handful more lentils.” Then it was fine. I also made some bread using grams and millilitres, and felt so much more in control.

With the soup thickening and the bread proving, I walked over to St Mo’s to get some photos in the afternoon sunshine, because today we had sunshine almost all day. A bit of a breeze, but nothing like the gales we had midweek. PoD was the black dragonfly resting on the boardwalk over the mashes at St Mo’s. I used my usual method of taking a shot, moving closer, taking a shot, moving closer etc. Except, my final shots were taken at almost 1:1 and the dragonfly hadn’t even twitched. Maybe it was exhausted or maybe it was doing what dragons seem to do, sizing me up.

Came home and had soup and bread for dinner with a recovering Scamp. She does do a good lesson on soup making.

Tomorrow if the weather fairies are correct, should be a decent day, so we may go out for a run in a shiny clean Juke. Where, is open to suggestions!

Jukin’ with a Boy Racer Micra – 20 September 2018

This morning the Juke went for its first service and I swapped it for a shiny black and orange Micra, just for the day.

First thought on the Micra was that it was a lot bigger and lower than Scamp’s little red car. Then I slid into the driving seat and felt that my bum might just scrape along the tarmac and I wondered if I’d be able to get back out of it again without the use of a hoist. The clutch pedal seemed to have a rather long travel, either that or my legs had shrunk. Engine sounded healthy and there seemed to be a lot of horses under the bonnet. It was, like all things good in parts. One of the good bits, apart from the horses under the bonnet was the display on the dash. Very clear and with loads of information. Analog speedo and rev counter with incongruously a digital speedo between the two dials. What? So I can compare and contrast the differences in displayed speed as I run into the bus in front of me? Outside temperature, time, fuel economy. Maybe a bit of information overload. It drove well and like Scamp said “It was a car.” It was good to have the experience of the loan. It made me happy that I’d chosen the Juke over the Micra. I couldn’t see Scamp driving it with any less reluctance than she has for the Juke. Visibility in the car is certainly not as good as ‘Big Red’ The door pillar creates a large blind spot just where the mirror already has a blind spot and that’s not a great selling point. When we went for a spin this afternoon, we were agreed we didn’t like it all that much. A bit too plasticky. The Juke may be big and heavy, but it gives the feeling of solidity. I was glad when the garage phoned to tell us the car was ready.

After our trip to Stirling to pick up the very shiny Juke we drove home. Scamp wasn’t feeling too good, so she plunked herself down with a cup of ‘white tea’ and I went out for a walk in St Mo’s which is where I got today’s PoD. It’s an amalgam of two photos. One of the face of the fly and one of the hairy wee legs. Both shots blended in Photoshop. With an ISO of 3600 it was going to be a ‘noisy’ photo without too much in the way of smooth tones, but it was that kind of day. A day that started out with bright sunshine but by 4pm it was feeling more like twilight.

Between picking up the Micra and going for a spin I’d been to the physio who was pleased with the results on my knee and after a bit of laser treatment and some pin cushion tricks I was sent on my way with the possibility of being signed off in two weeks.

I did dinner tonight and with Scamp’s help it was pan fried chicken breast with baked potato. I was careful to stick to her tried and tested method and of course it worked. Why wouldn’t it.

The above is a wee watercolour I did from a photo I saw on Flickr.  After it was done I wasn’t happy with it, so I added some pen outlines once the paint had dried and I think it improves it greatly.
Details are W&N watercolours on Bockingford 300gsm Rough paper.

Don’t know what we’re up to tomorrow. I don’t expect we’ll be going far unless Scamp’s cold improves. Let’s hope it does.

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.