Another year over – 31 December 2019

And a new one about to begin.

Scamp was a bit better this morning which was a relief. She’s so rarely ill and it takes a lot to floor her, but she said she felt better. Not really well enough to get up and make breakfast, but I’ve got a tally of the number of days she’s been shirking.

It looked cold outside and the temperature was still below zero, so we weren’t in any sort of rush to go out. I did eventually go and bring the car down from where I’d parked it last night and we replaced the de-humidifier which now weighed about 400g more than when we’d put it in. That’s 400ml of water its absorbed over about six months. Actually it’s more than that. We’ve already removed about 200ml by heating it up on a radiator. I think the bag contains salt and clay. The salt being hygroscopic draws in the moisture and the clay prevents it from going back out again. Still, it works well in the wee Nissan. Mine has AC and that pumps out dry air summer and winter, so that dries the windscreen, but what is it about Japanese cars that makes them so susceptible to condensation?

We still needed some stuff for dinner tonight, so we walked down to the shops. Glad we did, because the road was just a carpark. Cars, buses and lorries all getting in each other’s way. It was traffic chaos. We found out why when we went in to M&S Food. People everywhere, probably all the ones who were causing all the road chaos. All madly grabbing things, any things, because haven’t you heard? The shops are all shut tomorrow!! Now these shops weren’t even there a few months ago and nobody died of starvation. Still we have to stockpile just in case they decide to shut the shops for two days. We got enough to make dinner. We didn’t need any more.

Walked back home and had lunch then went out to St Mo’s to take the last photos of 2019, the last photos of this 365 and the last photos of the decade. It was a lovely day. Good light again and a wee bit of frost too, just to add some sparkle. PoD was a picture of a curved grass stem with a water bead caught in a leaf joint.

Came home to find that Scamp was feeling a lot better and was making cakes for tonight. I set to and made the stew to fill tomorrow’s steak pie. A couple of weeks ago I made the prototype, this is the real deal. After that I got two of the apps I use a lot on the Mac installed, but one, the main one, Lightroom is installed, but not registered yet. I’m hoping the new year will bring me a brainwave and I’ll get it done. If not, there are always other ways round things, if you know what I mean.

That’s about it. I think we’re ready to face 2020 now the place has been hoovered, the toilet has been cleaned, the bathroom has too. I think we’re ready.

All The Best to all my readers. I hope 2020 is good to you whoever and wherever you are.

Tomorrow? Probably a late start after a late night tonight. Drink will be taken, I’m sure (it already has been!).

Solar Power – 9 December 2019

Sometimes I think I am solar powered.

Woke to sunshine this morning. Beautiful sunshine. Got up and dressed, no time to waste on a shower, I’d go dirty! Grabbed two cameras in the big black camera bag and waltzed off to St Mo’s (actually I walked, no dancing was involved) while Scamp was defrosting her car. Nearly fell on my backside when I stepped on a thin slice of ice I hadn’t noticed, but regained my balance and nobody was there to laugh at me.

No time for camera testing today. I’d (partly) mastered the buttons and dials on the LBJ and today was too good to waste on test shots. Got a few shots of interesting fungi in the woods and some backlit leaves, but nothing too special. Nothing that was a contender for PoD. It’s remarkable how quiet the shutter is. Much quieter than any of the Olys. Yes, of course I was still testing and comparing. It’s the way I am!

By the time I got back, Scamp had returned from her shopping trip and she’d put the coffee maker on. Thank you Scamp. She’d been busy because she’d made a pot of soup too and it smelled lovely. She’d also done the hoovering which has been my Monday job for the past few weeks. She just can’t sit still some days.

After lunch and after Gems had gathered I had my Monday talk about all things Art with Margie, I put my boots on again and drove down to Auchinstarry to walk along the canal, across at the plantation then back along the railway. Got a few more shots with both cameras, two of which I knew would be on Flickr and one of which I was sure was destined to be PoD. Saw a poor luckless quad bike rider getting his/her front wheels stuck in a bog, right up to the axles. Don’t know how they were going to get out of that one, but I wasn’t going to help pull it out.

On the way back I paused to just take in the colours and shapes around me. You don’t realise just how beautiful the countryside is until you’ve had a week of rain and leaden skies. Sometimes I think I’m solar powered. I need sunlight to recharge my batteries. Without that dose of vitamin D I just get deeper and deeper down and it’s the sun on my face that lifts me, well that and Scamp’s smile. It can lift me any time. “One smile relieves a heart that grieves” Robert Graves.

Back home it was good news. Jamie Gal was in the driving seat tonight. We went in to see if the beginners class needed any helpers, but two weeks of Shannon had taken its toll and it was a vastly reduced class in the hall. An even class of leaders and followers, so we weren’t needed after all. Our own class was well attended, but the skills of the class were a fair bit below what an Advanced class should be able to demonstrate. Jamie took quite a lot of criticism for his absences and I did feel sorry for him with nobody to stand with him against the class. However it had to be said and now he knows the feelings of the class.

Came home feeling a bit deflated with the loss of two dance classes and nothing to fill the vacuum until the new year. Hopefully a new year will bring new opportunities or am I starting to sound like an astrology page from the Daily Record?

PoD today went to a dried stem of cow parsley with an out of focus background. I liked it. There’s more on Flickr.

Tomorrow we’re expecting rain and Windy Willy. That won’t be fun!

Meeting up – 5 December 2019

Back to The Fort again.

We were off to The Fort to meet Crawford and Nancy for lunch today. It was a great catch-up and great lunch in Frankie & Benny’s. It was strange having something that wasn’t breakfast at F&B’s. We’ve only ever been to one of their restaurants for breakfast when we’ve been jetting off to some warm place. Fish ’n’ Chips for four and everyone agreed the lunch was excellent. Drove back through the rain vowing we’d catch up again in the new year.

Long before we got home, around 2.30 the headlights turned themselves on automatically making it feel dark already. Heavy rain and gale force winds didn’t encourage me to go out and get some photos. Instead I started making a bow tie for tomorrow’s dance and Scamp started on wrapping up some parcels in a new ethical way. After a couple of hours of trying, I gave up and chopped the whole thing up. Don’t know what went wrong, but I think I need to be more accurate with my cutting out. Scamp’s parcels are done, finished and packed in a a bag. I’m jealous. I may try another bow tie tomorrow, but there seems to be less rain forecast for tomorrow afternoon and with the strong winds still in evidence, there may be breaks in the cloud to let some sunshine in, so I may go and take some photos instead.

Today’s PoD is the Weemen trying to find out exactly what went wrong with the sewing process. Not the use of a hazmat suit and the hard hats. H&S is very important to weemen.

So tomorrow we may go dancing, I may take some photos and I may make a bow tie. Scamp has no plans at present.

Lost in Coatbridge – 3 December 2019

Not the place to get lost really.

Jackie left early to go for the bus home from Glasgow. As usual she booked herself a taxi, because she didn’t want to bother us. It was good to see her. We must visit Skye soon.

We set off ourselves a bit later in search of a walk in the fresh air at Drumpellier Park on the edge of Coatbridge. It was a fine day, not sunny, not bitterly cold and dry into the bargain. A comfortable walk around an essentially dull big pond, watching the ducks and swans being ice-breakers and cutting through the thin surface layer of ice. Had a coffee and shared a muffin in the cafe and gazed out over the pond. Great view across the water and although I said it wasn’t cold, it wasn’t too warm either, so a heat in the cafe was ideal.

Drove out of the gates of the park and turned right. After about half a mile I got a bit worried, because I couldn’t remember seeing those buildings when we came in. Turned at a school, I definitely couldn’t remember that. Lost, we switched on the sat nav and asked it to find the Fort. It directed us back the way we’d come. I didn’t think that was right either, but followed its instructions for a while before I went my own way again. Nope, that wasn’t right either. Finally after checking with Google Maps, I agreed that we had to go back the way we’d come and found the proper road. Trick was to turn left on exiting the park THEN turn right. Dumplin’! ( A “dumplin’ “ is like a “numpty”, but not as stupid. )

Found the Fort and got a few things for making parcels for Christmas. Then Scamp suggested we drive in to Glasgow because Santa was going halfers with me on my Christmas Prezzy. It’s (yet) another camera. This one is new. My first new camera for a month and before that? About ten years, maybe more. So, don’t start you pair! You know who you are.

Back home it was soup and Spaghetti Carbonara for dinner. Best I’ve made for ages, although Scamp’s Lentil Soup came a close second.

Testing the camera tonight, I found a big dust bunny on the sensor. This is a new camera and the sensor has dust on it and not just a microscopic particle, this one was bit. I was tempted to take it back, but then I tried my trusty blower on it and that did the trick. It’s a nice bit of kit this. It’s a bit smaller than the rest of my M43 cameras, but has that magic 4K Post Focus trick up its sleeve. Hopefully the best of both worlds. Even better, it came with a 12-32mm lens which I loved until it fell apart on me when we were down in Wales. Hopefully this one will last longer.

PoD was a Convolvulus stem making a neat helix on a cow parsley. Taken at Drumpellier before we got lost in darkest Coatbridge.

Tomorrow, hopefully we’re dancing again and I think I’ve worked out how to do that bloody spin 4 properly.

A bit more relaxed day – 30 November 2019

Done my bit for the ‘up early and out’ brigade.

Today was cold, really cold -3ºc when we woke. Sun was shining, but it wasn’t making much of a difference to the frozen cars in the street. Definitely a day for taking things a bit slower.

Finally in the afternoon we decided we needed the basics. Dinner for tonight, some veg and some bread. Dressed for the winter weather which was now a temperate one point something above zero and headed down to the shops. Got the bread, the veg and a chicken for tonight’s dinner and walked back.

After the walk, it didn’t seem all that cold, so rather than taking off all my layers, I simply changed my trainers for boots, grabbed a camera and went to St Mo’s to test out their new footpaths. Actually it was just a compressed hardcore base, not an actual asphalt footpath. Maybe that’s still to come, or maybe that’s as much as the finances will stretch to. After all, NLC councillors annual Christmas junket must be on the horizon now and of course that will take precedence. Anyway, the lighting was good and I got a few moody shots. Enough to give Lightroom and Photo Raw something to get their teeth into.

Got some more detailed shots of the Hair Ice I saw yesterday. Took a quick photo of it on my phone purely to get a GPS fix on it, but the phone placed it about a mile and a half away, in the middle of a housing estate. Weird! But then again, I don’t suppose Mr Android and Mrs Google had ever been to Cumbersheugh, so how would they know.

That was about it for the day. Chicken was lovely. The bread is uneaten as yet and the veg will hopefully go to making soup tomorrow. PoD was a shot of the lovely frosted reed stems poking from a frozen pond, looking like early Christmas trees.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to dance at the Sunday Social in The Record Factory, but it does depend on the weather.