Making the change – 14 October 2019

Today there will be no lying around. Today I will be active.

That’s what I said anyway. Out fairly early to drop off another sample at the doc’s. Don’t know what they find so fascinating about my pee, but it seems to keep them amused. Back home and today’s work schedule included cleaning the downstairs toilet. It didn’t take long, certainly not nearly as long as the bathroom last week. Probably that’s partly due to the fact that it’s a tiny little space. However I did give it the full “big clean” as one of my cleaners used to call it.

After that it was lunchtime and Scamp suggested I have a couple of slices of my excellent bread with some Wiltshire ham between. What makes the bread extra excellent is that it’s made by Prince Chic (Charles to you, but Chic to his friends). I don’t suppose Chic actually mills the flour himself, but it comes from his estate and it makes very good bread. It was also cheap at Waitrose or I wouldn’t have bought it.

When Gems came in I sat and talked to Margie for a while and showed her my sketches for Inktober. Margie is always very complementary about my work, but she produces some startling paintings herself. Veronica slipped a copy of Wildlife Photographer of the Year onto the table. It seems her son-in-law is a keen wildlife photog. I wouldn’t say that what I take are wildlife photos, more landscapes and macros. I like looking at landscape photos, but find it hard to compose them properly when I’m out and about with a camera. There’s no such problems with macros. With them the big challenges are more technical, like getting the aperture right and trying to get the best use of light. Also there’s the stalking of the tiny wee insects. Great fun, but not really artistic. On first glance at the photos in the book, I’m amazed at the quality and detail. I’ll have a good look before I have to give it back next week.

To continue the ‘active’ theme, I went for a walk along the canal and then on to the railway and that’s where I saw today’s PoD. It’s an old oak tree and I just liked the way the light hit the trunk. It was good to be out in the fresh air under  a blue sky for a change. Took a few more shots, but you’ll have to visit Flickr to see them.   Walking back along the canal, I saw a goosander surface quite close to me with a fish in its beak.  Knew I didn’t have time to grab the camera from my bag and focus, so I just watched it for a while.  It looked quite pleased with it’s early dinner.  Back to M&S for the makings of our own dinner and while I was traipsing around, I got the signal that I’d completed my 10,000 steps. Happy.

Dinner tonight met with a mixed reception. I thought it was great, Scamp was more critical. It was Prawns with Spaghetti and Courgette Spaghetti. Scamp didn’t like the dill that was in it, I didn’t mind. Maybe needs a bit of work.

The topic for today was “A Rowing Boat”. There aren’t many rowing boats lying around waiting to be sketched in the Central Belt of Scotland, so this one came straight out of my head. I quite liked it.

The plan for tomorrow is to get up early and then go to the seaside. Not sure if that will be east or west coast, but the weather looks like it will be fairly dry.

Another day at Monklands – 26 September 2019

Not for me this time, but for Clive.

Woke to a text from Clive’s daughter telling me Clive’s leg had been giving him some concern during the night and also giving her some concern now. After a bit of discussion with Scamp we decide we’d try the Kenilworth surgery first, but we really needed to take him to A&E. After a fifty second wait while a recording of one of the doctors played, explaining how a doctor’s surgery operated (I know the difference between condensation and condescension) I finally got through to a person who said they didn’t have a treatment room (yes, they do) or a nurse (yes they do) her recommendation was to take him to A&E. What she meant was they have nurses who start at 9am, this was about 8.15am and it’s those nurses who open the treatment room.

We got him ready and drove to Monklands. I dropped him and Scamp at A&E and went to park the car. By the time I’d walked back, he was in seeing the doctor. Waited about 20 minutes and then went to ask if we could see him on the pretence of giving him a bottle of water. It worked and I walked through to the patient’s area where I found him sitting looking a bit fed up. Talked to him about what had happened and found that the doc had said he was fairly certain it wasn’t DVT which was what we’d all feared and was just the result of a bump he’d had last week. Then the consultant and the doc returned. I handed Clive the water bottle and made a hasty retreat. Fifteen minutes later he was out. Just over an hour all in. Not a bad result.

It’s not until you see who comes in to these places that you realise the problems the doctors and nurses have to deal with. In the time we were there, there was a very poorly looking man whose daughter was telling someone on the phone he’d had “another stroke”, a young guy who said he’d hurt his back at work and a little boy who had a stone lodged in his ear … and Clive who was worried he had a blood clot, but hadn’t, thankfully. Drove us all home for toast and a cup of coffee.

We’d planned to drive to Perth today. I know I usually call it Perf, but I’m giving it the Sunday name today, Perth. That’s just what we did. Weather was rain for a while and sun for a long while on the drive up the A9. Lovely scenery. Saw a skein of geese heading sort of north. Clive suggested they may be Canada geese heading for new pastures. He’s probably right.

Walked down the Main Street in Perth to the observation ledge over the Tay. River was heavy and it looked as if someone had put some kayak gates in the river under the road bridge. Didn’t see anyone in canoes. Got coffee beans and then went for a walk through the park before coming home via Dobbies in Stirling where Scamp got a chrysanthemum pot plant. Then it was back home.

Clive and I pored over an old map overlay before dinner. He and Scamp sat and watched a recording of one of the Proms broadcasts from Albert Hall later while I caught up with yesterday’s blog.

A sort of vague response from the ‘Flickr Hero’ about how to get Inktober 2019 back on track, but basically it’s now worth the bother. They have their money and they’re not interested in the nuisance the cause. Wasters!

PoD is a 3 frame vertorama (vertical panorama) of a crane in Perth.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Summerlee. Nothing else planned.

Rain and battered birds – 22 September 2019

Rain and battered birds.

Maybe it was the heavy rain that caused the pigeon to thump into the kitchen window.

Woke to rain, just drizzle to begin with, but then it got heavier and heavier before it tailed off to drizzle, then began the cycle again. It used this set of options a few times before it finally gave up and turned off the taps around midday.  That was when we heard the thump form the kitchen.  I guessed, right away that it was a bird strike, in fact, a pigeon strike.  They usually make pretty ‘angel patterns’ on the window and often there is a dead bird lying underneath the pattern.  Today there was just a wet mark on the window and a stunned looking pigeon on one of the branches of the tree.  We kept a weather eye on the poor thing and eventually it flew off for further adventures, thankfully unharmed.  Speaking of birds, I just realised yesterday that I hadn’t seen any swallows this week.  Perhaps they’ve flown back down to warmer climes.

<Technospeak>
By then we’d had lunch and I’d been searching for about an hour for Autodesk Mechanical Desktop 2008 to draw my lens hood on the slightly more modern Linx computer. Unfortunately it wasn’t going to happen and I thought I could rely on the old fifteen year old Toshiba laptop running Windows 7 to complete the job. That’s when I found that although the Win 7 laptop said it could see the Epson printer, it was in fact lying. Why oh why do windows computers have such a problem connecting to printers. In the end I downgraded the Autocad file and successfully ported it across to the Linx which couldsee and connect to the printer. Such a faff! Anyway, I finally got the development printed.
</Technospeak>

Welcome back JIC. With the development printed, Scamp said it was time for me to take a walk outside in the rain to get some photos, and more importantly, some fresh air. I agreed. When I came back, the Spatchcock chicken was roasting away nicely in the oven and a glass of sherry was waiting for me.

Watched a boring Singapore GP while we ate our chicken. Looked for Sort-of-cousin Colin in the crown, but didn’t see him! Annoyed by the result, but the person on the top of the podium worked for his money today. I’m not saying who it was, just in case somebody reading this hasn’t seen the results yet.

Spent the rest of the evening flying around Scotland in X-Plane using a new flight plan construction software called Little Navmap which is so much simpler than trying to click on knobs to input waypoints and destinations. Heavens, this is the 21st century, not the 19th. No steampunk junk here thank you very much!

Today’s PoD was a raindrop hanging from a pine needle in St Mo’s. It sort of marked the day.

Tomorrow, Clive arrives, hopefully. Glad he’s not travelling with Thomas Cook who seem to be in serious trouble.

When the cat’s away – 26 August 2019

The mice can do as they please.

Scamp was out on the town with her friends today, so I had the whole day to do as I pleased, and I was pleased to do very little.

I started out having a battle with the printer, trying all the combinations and permutations of settings to get a decent print of a photo for a competition. It’s never exactly the simple setting. There’s always another tweak to be done to get it just right. I think I’ve found it, but I won’t know until tomorrow when I test the setting with another photo that’s on a removable HD stored away somewhere upstairs.

Next I’d to book my car in for its annual service. The service is already paid for as part of the leasing deal. However the person on the end of the line announced that the manufacturer suggests that the air con should be checked every two years and that check is not part of the servicing agreement. I said “No thanks.” to the £99 (plus VAT) check. If the manufacturer deems it necessary to do this check every two years, it should be part of the servicing agreement. They try to catch you any way they can. Never trust a car salesman. Used car or brand new, they are all shysters.

Final thing on my checklist of “What you need to do this morning” was to dig out a big bucket load of soil from my raised bed and replace it with fresh compost from the composter. Got that done and then planted my curly kale and leeks, even remembering to water them in.

By then lunch was beckoning and it looked quite bruschetta shaped to me. It was while I was making it I spotted the robin having a look at my handiwork, not the prints. No he was more interested in that fresh new soil and he promptly got stuck in turning some over and grabbing what was hiding underneath. He seemed to look up at me and say “There you go mate, that’s me cleared some of the beasties out for you!” Grabbed his photo with the Nikon. It’s ages since I used it, but the quality is really good. I’d forgotten quite how good it is.

Powered up X-Plane and had a ‘quick’ flight. Took off from Glasgow and flew to Prestwick partly using instruments and partly by visual. It’s quite the most fascinating program, but it really makes you think about the technicalities of flying and the things that could go wrong. I was watching a program about pilots and one bloke said something along the lines of “If a car breaks down on the motorway, you coast onto the hard shoulder and somebody will come and help you. If you break down in a plane, you’re on your own!” Anyway, after safely landing at Prestwick I started a new flight in a glider and found that you can fly from Strathaven airfield. We just passed it, in the real world, on Saturday!

Salsa at night and the first class was fairly easy. Scamp joined us for the second class and it was a bundle of fun. Lots of new moves and a couple of older ones we’d forgotten Nudo was the one that caused the most hilarity.

PoD was the Robin, of course.

Tomorrow my turn to be out for a while meeting the boys for coffee.

Stirling today – 6 July 2019

Settled on Stirling for today’s visit.

Managed to convince myself that the Merrel Moab trainers were worth the money. Even in Sports Direct they were still expensive, but as Scamp says, you sometimes have to pay the money for quality. Vibram soles and Goretex uppers should see me sure footed for the summer.

Got some photos of folk mirrored in the ceiling of the Thistle Centre and with a bit of jiggery pokery, that’s what became the PoD. Back home the parking was ridiculous. Cars and vans everywhere. Finally got a space away up the top of the road, hoping to get a place nearer hand later, but that wasn’t to be. Too many cars. I blame all these two car families.

Be brought back a Gypsophila plant from Waitrose in Stirling. You quite often see annual gypsophila, but my mum had an enormous gypsophila in her front garden and it was an annual plant, growing bigger and flowering better every year.  Lots of tiny little white flowers.  I’m glad we’ve got one too now. Hope it grows as well as her’s did.

Watched a young crow trying to get a drink from the bird bath and it seemed to having a terrible time getting to it, so Scamp decided it was time to rearrange the plants so that the birds could get easier access to the water. I think it works now, but we’ll have to interview the birds to see if it’s a real improvement.

I’m sitting wearing my new Moabs tonight as I’m writing this, wondering if they are comfortable or not. It’s not always easy and it may take a day or two wearing them in the house to be completely sure.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing again at the Record Factory. Just a normal Sunday Social this time.

Dancin’ – 3 July 2019

Today we were dancing again without the torture, almost.

For once we didn’t get picked up on every single wrong footed mistake. That’s only because Michael exited after the Jive session, leaving Anne-Marie to teach the Waltz and Quickstep session. It was much more interesting without the Chief Torturer’s nit picking. I can’t say it was any more perfect than our norm, but it was far less stressful than last week.

I got today’s PoD in Glasgow, walking back from Nero where we had our post practise debrief. It is, of course, outside the GOMA. To paraphrase Findlay Napiers “Down there at the GOMA where all the weirdos go …” All human life is there and a few that will never be human.

I’d already had a walk in St Mo’s earlier today, but despite the blue sky and some sunshine, I didn’t get anything interesting.

Scamp drove us in to Salsa tonight, but I think I had been trying too hard to keep my back straight and my head up in Blackfriars during the afternoon and as a result I had to give up halfway through the 7.30 class because my back was aching. Sat in the car and guzzled a couple of paracetamol which took away most of the pain.

Tomorrow we have no plans, other than waiting in for my batteries to arrive.

Out for a walk – 20 June 2019

It’s been a long time since I’ve been down to Auchinstarry. Today I resolved to fix that.

The only thing of note I had on my To Do list today was to wash and reproof my ‘rainy coat’. To keep it company in the machine, I added Scamp’s blue jacket. They’re now dry and ready for use again.

After that and a morning plugging away at the computer and putting a gallery of photos from Wales on the blog (have a look if you like), I decided to go for a walk. After all, I’ve got a new pair of good boots and it would be a shame not to wear them. Walked along the railway path and then across the plantation. From there it was an easy stroll back along the canal. I thought I’d try for another Focus Stack in the wild this time, but it wasn’t to be. Light too low, hand too shaky, shutter speed to low. Take your pick, it just didn’t work, although I didn’t know that at the time. It was only once I got back home I noticed that some frames were shaken and some were just out of focus. I’ll try again another time. Got today’s PoD of the swan family out for a paddle along the Forth & Clyde canal. Also got a couple of close up shots of beasties.

Dinner was Sea Bass with Cornish potatoes and broccoli from somewhere else. Not a lot more to say about today, other than it was a bright day for the most part with a sprinkling of rain occasionally and torrential rain at other times, but mainly bright sunshine. Colours were shining clearly and the boots seemed to enjoy being out for a walk.

Tomorrow Scamp is booked for lunch with the Witches in the afternoon and I have no plans. Maybe a bit of light painting will go down well.

Walking – 10 June 2019

Today dawned sunny, so we were going for a longer walk than yesterday.

Madeleine decided to stay as this was going to be a fairly energetic walk. The first part was definitely energy sapping and was a climb up a fairly steep hillside, but as Sim had told us, after that it levelled out and we walked along a metalled road … for what seemed like miles, but wasn’t really. The views from the top of the hill were excellent with speckled sunlight over the Welsh hills. It was a circular path that took us back the way we came eventually. Findings were a strange looking Shield Bug with red and black markings, a bird’s nest with chicks in a hole at the side of the road some strange brown striped flies with enormous antennae and an interesting brown butterfly. I got photos of everything except the birds nest because I didn’t want to disturb the parent birds and risk them abandoning the chicks, unlike the rest of the group who crowded round for a better look. Then I noticed I’d set the ISO to 256000! Luckily I only took a few shots with the heavy grain. Unluckily the butterfly was one of those shots.

We just got home before the rain started and I was beat, so I had a snooze. After that it was lunch and I managed to get some more photos taken. Then Scamp and I sat in the garden where I got a couple of sketch/paintings done one of which is here.

The clouds had been gradually massing and when the thunder started Scamp decided the good weather had gone. I stuck it out for ten minutes or so before having to give up too. Just in time as it turned out, because the rain came down in torrents, but the thunder grumbled away down the valley.

Chicken curry and roti for dinner.

Not going far – 4 June 2019

Not going far

It wasn’t the weather this time, it was just the threat from tiny wee beasties.

Last night after I’d posted the blog and put the iMac to bed I found another tick. That settled it. Definitely no more walks in the long grass at least until the first frost. The further I got today was over the paths around St Mo’s pond, keeping strictly to the path. Didn’t get many photos, because the light level was fairly low. Heavy cloud all afternoon was the culprit. In the morning the weather was much more pleasant and on retrospect I should have gone out then, but I didn’t. My fault. I’ve made that mistake before and I’ll probably make it again. However I didn’t come home empty handed, I got today’s PoD which is a couple of White Tailed Bees (Bombus lucorum) on some bramble flowers.

I potted up some strawberry plants and a yellow aquilegia in the late morning , then, together with Scamp pruned some of the roses and the forsythia. We also pulled some rhubarb which Scamp made into a pie. There’s even some left over for tomorrow.

Later in the afternoon the rain returned and drizzled on for the rest of the day, so I retired to the drawing room – the room where I draw and managed to catch up with the sketches for June. June 3rd was A Bird and today was A Weed. The bird became a Blackbird from a photo I’d taken back in April and the weed was some buttercups which are the bane of Scamp’s gardening, but I like them. They were drawn from life. That’s me up to date now so maybe it will become easier from now on. Since I’m only doing it for fun and am not posting them on social media, I’m treating them as practise pieces and a chance to experiment.

Tomorrow we’re probably heading in to Glasgow to dance the afternoon away at Blackfriars. I don’t think we’re going to risk going to STUC at night, since Jamie G is still down south.

Just a walk – 15 April 2019

No photos, just a walk.

Lunch today was yesterday’s Pakora and Onion Bhajis reheated and they tasted better than they did yesterday. Crunchier anyway. Ten minutes @ 180º if you’re asking. After that Scamp went out to get herd Gems and bring them by to use the shepherd’s terms. Just before they arrived a racket started in No 38. It sounded to me like an orbital sander being used on the floor. That was strange, because on Friday night the exact same noise was coming from No36. We are being surrounded by sanders! I’d had enough. After a quick catchup with Margie who had done more painting than me in the last fortnight, I grabbed the Oly bag and drove down to Auchinstarry.

Walked along the canal and though the plantation from there back to Auchinstarry. I took two photos, but only record shots of red flowers on a bush to try to find the name of them. It was simply a walk and nothing else. It’s ages since I’ve walked along the canal and although nothing had changed much, it was very enjoyable. I didn’t need to take any photos, because I’d grabbed a few shots of a young blackbird. I’d had a look at them earlier and they looked fine, so the cameras were with me just in case I saw anything that the ever ready iPhone couldn’t manage.

Back home, dinner tonight was Spaghetti and Tuna in a Tomato sauce. A staple.

Drove in to Glasgow and helped the beginners get their heads round Setenta y Cinco. They picked it up quite quickly. Much quicker than I picked up the advanced class’s new move, called surprisingly, New Move. We also reprised one from last week now called York because it looks like The Grand Old Duke of York. Good fun, but almost undanceable in a rueda.

Just getting ready now to go and pick up JIC who’s flying in for a quick visit.

Tomorrow our day if fairly well marked out. Will explain tomorrow, DV.