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The Dragons are back – 4 June 2017

We had intended going to the West End Festival in Glasgow today, but decided to have a lazy day at home instead.  There was to be no procession and that’s the highlight of the event every year.

Scamp got busy planting, planting and more planting.  Me?  I went for a walk instead.  Walked around St Mo’s and got a few photos of a couple of mating damselflies.  I was using the Oly 10 because it was the most versatile tool for general shooting.  The 45-200 zoom is a great lens and works well for close ups when you attach the extension tubes.  You lose a couple of stops of exposure, but it was a bright day again and exposure wasn’t a problem.

On my second circuit of the pond, a dragonfly caught my eye.  Waited for it to land and get comfortable then got one shot before it flew away to circle the wee pond.  Then it returned to the same grass stem, but it wasn’t comfortable and with each move I made it flew off.  Eventually it settled down on a reed and I got the shot above.  I was quite pleased with it.  It’s a Four-spotted Chaser male as you probably already knew.  Set the shutter speed high (1/800) and aperture fairly deep (f9) and that amounted to an ISO of a manageable 1250.  You just couldn’t do things like that with the Teazer, so it had a day at home.  The dragonfly is a Four-spotted Chaser male but you probably knew that already.  Lots more beastie pictures on the Flickr page.

Came home and Scamp was finished working in the garden.  Finished working, but not finished with the garden.  No, she wanted to get some photos of us sitting outside with our new drinks holders.  We got them yesterday as well as a barrow load of plants.  Set up the tripod, bolted on the Oly 5 only to find that the battery was flat and the spare one had just started charging.  I tried using the Teazer, but it’s so hard to use without a flip up screen.  Eventually got the photo using Scamp’s camera and it has already been sent out to all my readers I think.

Took my dodgy left knee to the physio to see what he could deduce from a bit of prodding and pulling.  His deduction was that it was a healthy knee.  He thinks I’ve maybe nicked a ligament at the back of the knee and it’s now well on the way to being repaired.  He gave me some exercises to do and wouldn’t take any payment.  Good guy.

Today’s sketch is of the Campsie Fells viewed through the back bedroom window.  Just a quick watercolour that gains entry into J’ Ink because of the penwork.

The only fly in today’s ointment is the fact that I’ve got a fasting blood test tomorrow morning and a full dance card for the rest of the day.  Never mind, it’s all in a good cause.  May take my healthy knee out for a walk if the weather allows.

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Pigeon Point again – Still no pigeons.

9 FebOut early again and got to Pigeon Point before the resort was fully open!  The benefit of getting there early is that you get your pick of the beach huts.  With our one selected and with sun screen slathered on, Scamp and I went for a walk in the shallows.  The water was cold, but then it was just after 9am.  The sea was much calmer today, so it was time to grab the mask and snorkel and head out to the reef.

Despite the lack of wind and only a slight swell, there was still a fair bit of silt in the water and visibility wasn’t that great.  However, IMG_3755it was good to swim in the sea without getting hypothermia.  After a while I swam back to the shore and met Scamp who wanted to have a deeper paddle and test the improved buoyancy you get from sea water.  We just messed around in the fairly shallow water for a while and she did try a few strokes before we got out again.  Sat watching the colours in the sea and sky for a while then had an early lunch of biscuits and cheese, washed down with some fruit juice.  After that Scamp and I went for a walk along the beach and watched the pelicans diving for fish.  Scamp found a wee bit of coral to take back and then she found a sea urchin shell.  Walked back to the beach hut and did a quick sketch of the lifesaver’s hut.

Back at the beach hut, a hoard of americans arrived (lower case shows my respect for them).  The older ones were about our age and were quiet and quite biddable.  The younger ones were noisy and american.  What more can I say.  Each one seemed to want to project their inherent stupidity louder than the last.  Big Chief Stupid had his hair shaved at the sides and left long on top.  Such a good look.  I may grow my hair long this year and emulate him.  I won’t, however, plaster my arms and legs with ‘artistic’ tattoos.  To quote from Lou Reed “Stick a fork up their ass and turn them over, they’re done!”  Actually Lou was quoting from his friend, Donald, so maybe that’s a cyclic quote!?  We stayed a bit longer, I had another snorkelling mission then I went looking for a Sarong for Scamp, it being Thursday. Bought one from an old guy sitting on the beach with the sarongs hung up and drying in the breeze.  He even demonstrated the different ways to tie it.

Back at the apartment, I wanted to go out and get some pics of the pelicans fishing from the beach that had disappeared yesterday.  Today was better, but the waves were now attempting to cover it.  Walked along to where the pelicans were, and found a white bull in the field behind me  – no fence!  I said bye-bye to the bull and made a hasty retreat.  On the way back, I found a dragonfly, right next to me on a bush.  Dragonflies in February, now there’s a thing!  Got lots of photos.

Out to Karawak again for dinner.  Two waiters instead of waitresses tonight and it was Cajun Chicken for me and Mahi Mahi fish for the others.  I didn’t enjoy it as much as last night, but I was in the minority. 

Back at the apartment, Jaime, Scamp and I went to watch the limbo dancer.  I think now we saw him the last time we were here, but he was entertaining with his fire eating and his clowning around. 

We went to bed early because we’ll be up early tomorrow for the plane back to Trinidad.

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Just another Sunday – 05 February 2017

5 FebScamp went to church with M&J in the morning and I stayed home to clean up the blog and hopefully get some photos, but the rain came on.  In fact, the rain came straight down.  Ori (the dog) and I looked at one another and the silent message passed between us “I’m not going out in that!”  So we waited and eventually the rain abated and became a drizzle, a warm drizzle that dried on you almost immediately.  Also, the rain that had fallen had dried up too.  Five minutes later the sun came out, but didn’t stay long because more heavy clouds came in.  I gave up and sat watching the birds having their early morning bath.  We really must get a bird bath for the garden at home. 

When the promised rain failed to appear I changed into swimming trunks (they dry quicker than shorts) and went for a walk in the garden.  Found an empty shell of a wasp’s nest and marvelled at the construction.  Entrance / exit tunnel and all those little identical hexagonal cells, and all made from something as thin as paper.  Amazing.  I found a shield bug on a leaf looking like it was guarding its eggs.  Even saw a little orange dragonfly, but it was far too quick for me.  Gardens are wonderful places if you just have time to look.

Scamp returned with M&J bearing Doubles.  Doubles are two squares of thin fried dough, wrapping up a paste of chickpeas, onions, pepper and spices.  Apparently it used to be considered poor man’s IMG_3730food, but we all agreed it was delicious.  By then the sun had come out and it was hot, so it was time to get some serious sketching done.  So I put on my sketching hat, some sun cream and some insect repellent and went in search of a suitable subject. I finally settled on some plant pots hiding away at the back of the garden.  I had a reasonable rendering of them when Scamp came to tell me it was lunch time.  Lunch was a pork chop for the carnivores and salmon for Scamp the pescatarian with cassava root.  We’d never had cassava before, but it was really tasty.  Scamp described it well, as a nutty potato.  We must search it out and try cooking it some time soon.  Definitely on our to-do list.  With lunch out of the way, I found a new subject.  One that could be drawn from the comfort of the veranda.  I chose Next Door’s Utility room with its big square plant pots on the roof.  Both pots overflowing with roses.  It was basically architectural with strong perspective, a happy marriage for me.  I even added a wee touch of colour to add a wee bit of brightness. I liked it.  Still do.

Remembered to take the photos of the wasp’s nest and got it done along with the flower photos before it got totally dark. Haven’t posted them on Flickr because it went into one of its ‘Bad Panda’ strunts again.  Why do these things always happen on weekends?  Because Yahoo don’t employ enough people to fix it.  They want rid of Flickr which is becoming a money pit for them.

The remainder of the day was spent packing.  Off on our travels again tomorrow with a bit of luck.

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Mojitos & Earwigging – 9 November 2016

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This being our last full day in Lanzarote 2016, we took our time and made the most of it, but took it easy too.

We sat by the pool for a while after breakfast because it was very warm, possibly the warmest of the days, but a cooling breeze kept the temperature within a reasonable range.  We stayed there until after lunch when we walked along in the direction of the airport, with the task of finding a coloured strap for Scamp’s case to make it easier to find on the carousel at Glasgow … when the moving belt eventually squeaks into life.  After selecting a suitable strap we settled in a bar with two mojitos.  Real ones, not the pre-made, out-of-a-bottle ones they ply the unwary with at the hotel, topped up with a teaspoon of their watered down ‘local’ rum.  These weren’t the strongest mojitos we’ve had, but they were very tasty and went down a treat.

While we were there we were earwigging a scam being played out by an old white haired bloke with a beard and his wife behind us.  Scamp was shocked at the length of the claws his wife had, you couldn’t call them nails, these were full-on talons.  Anyway the old beardy had got wind of the fact that a bloke who owned a bar in Arrecife had a backup battery for his own bar that he didn’t need and wanted rid of.  According to his electrician friend, the bloke in Arrecife didn’t know what it was worth and would be happy to sell it on for a fraction of what it was worth.  OK?  The scene has been set.
So, old beardy bloke and Eagle Claw are plotting their pitch to Mr Arrecife.  They decide that they’ll tell the bloke they are interested in his backup battery to use to keep their two fishtanks running when there is a power outage.  The electrician has already told them that this battery will run all the electrical requirements for a bar; fridge, freezer, air-con, pumps, lighting, the lot for 10 hours, and they’re going to tell the bloke that they want it to power their fish tanks.  It made we wonder just how bit these fish tanks were, or how ingenuous they thought Mr Arrecife was.  Beardy thought they could get the battery for under €400.  The phone call was duly made and either the electrician was playing both sides against one another, or Mr Arrecife wasn’t as stupid as Beardy thought, because a figure of €1500 was being bandied about.  The call ended with Beardy telling Eagle Claw that he could probably beat him down to around the €400.  I hope he’s got a good baseball bat to beat him with, either that or he’ll have to threaten Mr A with Eagle Claw.  We’ll never know the outcome.

We walked back to the hotel and while Scamp went for to grab some more rays, I went for a last walk over the lava rocks.  Now, not all of the wilderness is rocky, there are dried up riverbeds, Arroyos that occasionally carry enough water to allow plants to survive and it was one of those areas that gave me the little green leaves.  Like I found in Fuerteventura there are lots of shells here, embedded in the soft dry clay and the lowering light brought out their textures.  At last, I found myself a dragonfly.  Apart from the unlucky pair laying eggs in a swimming pool, this was the first dragon I’d seen.  It was very delicate and thin, not like the big bruisers we get in Scotland.  However, the light was getting poor and I grabbed a couple of shots and then headed back to the hotel.

It was a Rock Show in the theater and it wasn’t quite dire, but it wasn’t all that good either.  There was a lot of shouting, enthusiastic applause and whistling coming from about four folk at the back of the audience, quite near us.  It was totally unwarranted and I have to admit, I think they were ‘Rent-a-mob’, bought in to encourage some interest in the miming and aping on stage.

That was it, apart from a G&T on the balcony to finish the bottle and the initial packing.  Another holiday draws to a close.

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Lazy day / Dancing night – 7 November 2016

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After the long walks these last two days, we both settled down to a sunbathing day today.  The furthest we were going to go was the pool, or should I say the pools.  The pool with the bar in it, yes in it, not just next to it, but in the img_3545-2-flickr-2pool itself, which means that you can swim up to the pool, have a drink and swim away again.  Sounds like a recipe for disaster, but it all went ‘swimmingly’ today Winking smile   Both Scamp and I had a swim in the pool and when we both tired of this aquatic activity, we baked in the sun for a while more.  It was while Scamp was swimming she shouted to me that there was a dragonfly dipping into the pool.  It was actually a mating pair that was laying eggs in the swimming pool.  I don’t think there is much chance of those eggs hatching any time soon.  If the chlorine doesn’t kill them, the filters will grind them to a pulp.  Such a waste of time.  I got a fairly decent ink sketch done while we were sitting by the pool

We had booked for the Asian restaurant tonight and so we settled for a light lunch to protect our appetite.  After lunch it was back to the hard work of sunbathing again.

Later in the afternoon the sun had moved round and our sunbeds  were in shadow so we went back to the room and sat on the balcony for a while.  I got itchy feet and headed over to the lava rocks to see if I could capture any photos of  butterflies.  I managed a couple and that was my lot.

The Asian meal was delicious although it was a buffet and Scamp’s not keen on food that’s not piping hot, so she was a bit disappointed.  I thought it was all lovely.  My favourite was deep fried Dim Sum.  Scamp’s fave was the Tuna – no surprise there.  We had intended going for a walk and possibly a drink after the meal, but when we left the restaurant we could hear a violin playing.  At first we thought it was piped music, but it turned out to be a live musician playing an electronic violin.  Very clever stuff and of course that put paid to any chances of a walk, so it was ‘cooncil cocktails’ tonight.  Like I said, the bloke was really good, playing classical, pop and jazz.  We listened for his full set.

After the violinist had left, we went to hear the duo singing.  Different duo tonight, different songs, slightly better mumbled English lyrics, but best of all, we got to dance!  We did one Bachata and one Salsa.  Not our finest, but better than nothing.  There was a German (?) couple a bit older than us sitting in front of us and they seemed to think we had done alright.  They seemed to dance Ceroc rather than salsa.

We actually watched the full show tonight – Best of Shows it was called.  More like Least Worst in my opinion.  Blokes with balloons up their jumpers seem to get a great laugh here.  Possibly a Teutonic sense of humour.  I think it was the show that put the tin lid on things.  We went back to the room and off to sleep.  No nightcap on the balcony tonight because we were both tired out after such a lazy day!

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I have seen the future and it works, sort of – 3 October 2016

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I couldn’t stay living in the past, I simply didn’t work for me.  After I’d tasted the future, the old fashioned way of working in Mountain Lion was passé.  I longed for all those little tweaks that could make life so much easier.  It had to be done.  I reinstalled El Cap via the Carbon Copier disk.  Hazel still didn’t work, but I found a strange workaround for the NAS.  If I access the drive as a ‘guest’, access is so much faster than if I login as me, with name and password.  Weird! The main thing is it works.  I’ll just have to rewrite the rules I use a lot with Hazel.  Sorry JIC, I should have explained yesterday that the Hazel I’m referring to is not a person, it’s an app.  A very clever app that files stuff away according to rules you write for the purpose.

While Carbon Copier was reinstalling the Capitan, I went for a walk to get some photos and to clear my head.  Saw at least four dragonflies down near the Luggie.  I also forgot to mention that summer is not over yet, because I’ve recently seen swallows still flying and feeding themselves up for the long journey south.  The last sighting was last week.  It’s easy to tell when you see the first swallow in spring, but it’s more difficult to record the last sighting.

I’m going to bed. I’ve had a long day and am knackered.  Tomorrow I intend to do a little computing, some painting and some photographing.  Kizomba was much better than the last mob.  I think we might stay with this pair.  Even if it took us an hour and fifteen minutes to do the 20 min journey into Glasgow tonight.  There must be a better way, after all, it’s the future!

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Setting the world to rights and macros – 19 September 2016

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Met Fred and Val and sorted the world out again over a couple of coffees. It’s so easy, repairing all the wrongs of the world. If they’d only ask us, we could fix all the problems in no time.

After that went for a drive round the outskirts of our wonderful town looking for something to photograph and found a few things.

  • A Ladybird.
  • Some Cladonia lichen
  • Cow Hair on a barbed wire fence.

They don’t sound interesting, but when it’s a sunny day and you’re just out taking your time and enjoying the scenery, they are interesting things to photograph.

The Ladybird was orange with white spots and apparently it is rare in Scotland, but quite widespread in England and Wales. Also, it feeds on fungus rather than on insects like aphids.

Cladonia lichen or ‘Grey Trumpets’, also known as ‘Golf Tees lichen have fascinated me since I started taking macro photographs. They look so alien.

The Cow Hair needs some explanation. I was wandering around looking for something to photograph when I disturbed a black bodied dragonfly it buzzed round me a couple of times and then flew off, but I could still hear its wings clattering. (They sound like cellophane being crumpled. Strange description, but that’s what it sounds like to me.) The next thing I knew, it landed on my shoulder. Now what I should have done was take a ‘selfie’ with my phone. “Here’s me with my mate, the black dragonfly!”, but what did I do? I swiped at it and it flew away. Numpty. Then I saw it again sitting on a barbed wire fence, just across the road. As I cautiously approached it, it didn’t move, which is quite strange behaviour for inquisitive creatures like dragonflies. You get the feeling they are watching you when you are watching them. It was only when I got closer, I noticed that my ‘dragonfly’ was a tuft of black cow hair caught on one of the barbs. Despite my disappointment, I photographed it and quite liked the finished result from the fisheye lens.

Salsa tonight was energetic and a great deal of fun. I was dreading Scamp wanting to go to the next class which was ’styling’. Not my idea of fun at all. However, I acquiesced to her suggestion that we “give it half an hour”. We did and it was indeed good fun, interesting and taxing with its concentration on footwork. I can see us being hooked on this in the future.

Tomorrow looks as if it’s set fair but cooler which is a decent forecast for the time of year.

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The End of Summer – 17 September 2016

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Wandering around my own favourite wilderness and noticing the skies are empty of swallows. If it takes more than one swallow to make a summer, does a lack of them mean the end? I think it does. Then I spot a dragon. Is that the contradiction?We had intended going to Embra today, but it looked like being a nice day and I didn’t want to spend the day in a train or wandering around the shops. Too good a day for that and if the first paragraph is correct, we should make the most of the good days now. The upshot was that as usual, Scamp was in the garden and I did a wee bit of painting and grubbing around in WordPress without any great success in either. Eventually, I decided that the weather was settled enough for shorts and tee shirt cycling and went out to get some photos and also some brambles if there were any left.There were brambles a-plenty and I got just over 600g which is not too bad. Just over a pound in old money, or is that me mixing my metaphors or something? The sun was warm and although there were no swallows, there was a dragon later in the afternoon. I got some photos, but knew that if I went closer, my shadow would encroach on the insect and it would fly away. Dragonflies seem to be very sensitive to changes in light, or maybe they just don’t want anyone stealing their sun. I also grabbed a few shots of spiders, sorry arachnophobes, look away now. It’s the transparency of the body that I like about spiders, especially contré jour. I just had to experiment a bit more with the pinhole effect and got a shot of the Three Amigos with the camera sitting on a fencepost. The last shot was as I was coming home and the light was warming up. It took me some time to find the best VP for the shot of the hay bales, but I’m happy with this one. There was a fair bit of post-processing done to get it just the way I wanted it, balancing the light and dark areas of the photo without falsifying it too much.Came home and dinner was courtesy of Bombay Dreams. Great online ordering system and way too much for one meal. The rest for lunch on Sunday.Weather on the turn for Sunday with lots of widespread rain forecast.

[]: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ztf/

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Coffee, Dragons and Vitamin D – 25 August 2016

E8251411- flickr--238On a cloudy day, I went for a coffee with Fred in the morning and we set the world to rights again.

Met Scamp afterwards and sorted out our winter, week-long Vitamin D supplement, sometimes known as a week-in-the-sun. For once the process of booking was much easier than it could have been, and has been in the past.

After that, the sun came out, and I took a walk as usual around St Mo’s. Still a few dragons flying around. None of them breathed fire, but I managed to get a shot of one, despite having completely the wrong settings on the camera. I don’t know what I did, but I was using ISO 100 with an aperture setting of f10 which produced a shutter speed of 1/40th. Luckily I set the camera down on the boardwalk to take a low level shot and this meant I had a really steady support, otherwise the shot would have been as shaky as the other 7 I took today. That’s what happens when you assume you have the normal settings and don’t check the info on the screen. Numpty. Still, it’s a good shot.

Physio to look forward to tomorrow :-/ Then maybe lunch out would be good. We’ll see tomorrow.

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Kes – 23 July 2016

23 July bOur visitors arrived much later last night than we expected, just before 11pm, in fact.  Drink was taken, tales were told, jokes were laughed at and much later than normal, we got to bed.

This morning they were up fairly early and we were up soon after although my head felt a bit thick.  That was when our other visitor dropped in.  Scamp said there was a bird sitting outside the front door, not a little bird, she thought it was a pigeon and it wasn’t looking too well.  Murd said two big black birds had ‘had a word with it’ and it perked up a bit after that.  He said he thought they must have been doctors 🙂

When I opened the front door I saw, not a dead pigeon as I expected, but an apparently live but unmoving kestrel.  It was a bit battered and its eyes were closed, so I feared the worst.  Then its head moved, so it was probably just dazed.  Maybe after hitting the bedroom window and falling on to the grass in the front garden.  I put on a pair of Scamp’s gardening gloves because that beak looked sharp, and gently lifted it up.  Some of the feathers on one wing were splayed out, but other than that it looked ok.  I pulled out a bit of dried grass from its wing feathers and smoothed the wing down. That was when it opened its eyes.  Wow!  Such beautiful, bright yellow eyes.  It looked at me, shook itself staggered a bit then flew off across the road and landed in a tree.  I think it must have been a young bird.  Lovely chestnut coloured plumage, and oh, those eyes.  A great start to the day, and my thick head had gone.

Scamp drove us in to Stirling today and we went for a curry in the usual restaurant, we both had our usual starters and mains too.  Creatures of habit.  Afterwards I went to the bookshop and was intrigued by the title of one book:
“The Genius of Birds” by Jennifer Ackerman.
I wonder why that one caught my eye.  Managed to download it when I got home and will add it to my Kindle booklist tonight.  We both wandered round BHS which was closing today, looking for bargains, but there were none, just junk nobody wanted.

After that we went to Waitrose and I got a big lump of ribeye which I cut into five steaks when I got home.  That should keep the carnivore in me occupied for the next few weeks.

Went out this evening to get some photos in the rain at St Mo’s, being careful to stick to the path.  Don’t want any more ticks.  Surprised to see that NLC have created an avenue of trees and reseeded the wild flower areas.  They must have cut out one of the councillors junkets to pay for that.  Light was terrible with ISOs in the thousands.  Last week I was struggling to keep the shutter speeds fast enough not to overexpose at ISO 100.  That’s the difference in being down south and up north.

More rain forecast tomorrow, so I doubt if we’ll be going far.

I can still see those yellow eyes.  Wish I’d thought to take a photo.