When a plan goes awry and Mickysoft get it right – 16 September 2019

It was one of those days where I’d planned what I wanted to do and how to do it.

It was one of those days when the planning went to pot right from the start. I had an idea that I could install an old version of AutoCad that I got, legally, years ago in the Linx. The installation went well after a shaky start when Windows 10 kept interrupting to tell me it was time to “Get back on track”. This happens occasionally and if I tell it to go ahead, it just clears the screen and displays the annoying message again, and again, ad nauseam. I finally clicked “Update and Restart”. It didn’t update, just restarted, but when I looked the “Update and Restart” message had gone, so for once, Win 10 was satisfied that I was back on track. Now I could settle down to installing AutoCad. The installation went well and then when I clicked the icon the spinning wheel spun for a while, stopped spinning and so did AutoCad. Tried again with even less success. Not even a spinning wheel to infer that something was happening. I closed the laptop and went upstairs to avoid Gems.

I had been intending posting a parcel to Hazy and driving in to Glasgow in the morning. It was now early afternoon, there was no point in going in to Glasgow now and a black cloud had descended on me, but I did get the parcel posted Hazy! Outside the sun was shining, but I couldn’t be bothered to take any of the cameras with me for a walk, so I just went for a drive instead.

It was a good idea to take the laptop upstairs, because when I was out, I remembered that if you right click on a recalcitrant app on Win 10, you can sometimes encourage it to work by coaxing it into believing it’s running on an older OS. That’s what I did and after some number crunching it decided that the old AutoCad would work better in Windows XP, probably the most resilient and trustworthy OS Mickysoft has made. Tried it and it worked. How amazing. Everyone said that AutoCad 6 wouldn’t run on anything newer than Windows XP, even Microsoft said so. Then they make it believe it’s running on Windows XP and it works!! Sometimes Mickysoft do get it right. After that I struggled for a good hour trying to remember the commands and tweaks to draw in AutoCad. Just in case you’re wondering what I’m drawing, it’s a portable, One Size Fits All, foldable lens hood for the Oly and Panasonic lenses. Yes, I could have drawn it old-style on paper, on a drawing board, with instruments, but where’s the fun in that?!

By the time I’d managed to draw circles and straight lines properly it was time for Salsa, the black cloud had gone. In the last night of the intermediate class we covered an old move, Elliem which I should know, but couldn’t get right tonight. Also a new move which was much more complicated, but I got right every time. Don’t know how that happened. In our advanced class we did three new moves called New Move 1, New Move 2 and New Move 3. How we’re going to remember which one is 1 and which one is 3 next week I do not know. Also found out that Jamie G is not going to be teaching on Wednesdays after the end of September, due to pressure of work. That’s a pity. A vacuum that will need to be filled.

It may be partly filled by a new ballroom class we’re hopefully testing out tomorrow in Milton of Campsie, which is a bit of a trek for us. We’ll have to see what it’s like.

PoD was a grab shot of a cactus that’s been growing happily in the downstairs toilet for about 30 years. It’s a fair size now, but the original plant is still there, growing in an ice cream tub that came from Netherburn! I really should replant it.

Tomorrow hopefully dancing in a new venue and more AutoCad tutorials to read.

Wandering around the town in a gale – 14 September 2019

Today we were heading in to Glasgow – driving for a change on a Saturday.

Scamp wanted to get a new tub for cereals, yes it was that sort of day, any excuse to go out of the house! I wanted to see if CassArt still had the fancy Rowney easel Fred was raving about. Finally we were looking for lunch, but not Paesano today.

First we looked for somewhere for lunch. Looked at Amalfi which used to be really good, but there wasn’t anything on the displayed menu that inspired us. We tried O Sole Mio which didn’t awaken any interest either. Finally we settled on Cafe Andaluz and had our usual three tapas each. The only down side was the group of harridans who had booked the table across from us. The noise from them was deafening. When they arrived the waiters started clearing the tables between them and us. I presume it was to put the trough in for them to eat from.

After being fed, we walked to CassArt, but surprise, surprise they were sold out of the fancy Rowney easel. Not to worry, I’d kind of talked myself out of it anyway. Back up Bucky Street thinking I wish I’d lifted my wooly hat, because although it wasn’t raining, there was a cold wind blowing and I’d forgotten that it’s almost midway through September now, so I should be dressing appropriately. Tried Lakeland for the cereal tub, but the one they had was a bit big and also a bit pricey. Back to Cumbersheugh and Scamp got the tub she wanted in Tesco.

Managed an hour in St Mo’s when we got back and that’s where today’s PoD came from. A snail on a swing! It never ceases to amaze me the places these snails get to.

I checked out the fancy Rowney easel on Google and it got slated on Amazon. Allegedly it’s made from wood, but it’s actually made from MDF which is fine for something that’s not meant to move. The big selling point of the easel is that it can move. Lots of criticism of the construction. I think I will leave it where it is, unsold!

It’s cold tonight although the weather station says it’s 15.3ºc. I think the gale force winds are stealing away that heat.

Tomorrow we may go dancing in the Record Factory, but apart from that we have no plans.

The Plan – 7 September 2019

We had decided that if the weather was good we’d go for a walk somewhere nice and if not, then we’d do lunch instead, and if we could combine the two, so much the better.

Thankfully the weather fairies were good to us and the sun shone. With that in mind and with my new sunglasses in the car, we drove to Loch Leven for a walk. Walked for about a couple of miles to a viewpoint, and once we’d viewed from the point we turned and came back. There’s not a lot to see for most of the walk because you are a fair distance from the loch and then you are walking along the outskirts of a golf course. However, there were always the airies to watch. Lots of gliders, both powered and those being towed up.

Drove on to Loch Leven’s Larder for lunch. We had to wait about half an hour for a table, but when we got one, the food made it worthwhile. We both had a misnamed Fish Finger Sandwich which was in reality a haddock fillet cut down the middle, coated in batter and sandwiched between two thick slices of bread, lettuce and tomato. Fish fingers indeed. It took us all our time to eat them, then Scamp had to have the Gin & Tonic Cheesecake. I don’t know if I’m being more careful or not, but I abstained.

Drove home the long way, across the new Forth Road Bridge just to check that the new sat nav card was indeed up to date. It was. A glorious late summer, or early autumn day.

The iMac was playing up tonight.  It has seemed slow to load for about a week now, plus I got a memory error tonight.  Later it refused to start, just a grey screen.  I forced a restart, but the same thing happened.  Finally I did a ‘Repair Restart’ (CMD + R as you power up) and it fixed some catalog settings which seemed to sort the problem.  Hopefully.  Fingers crossed.

PoD was a rusted scroll on an old gate from our walk.

Tomorrow I may go looking for brambles.

A sign of things to come perhaps – 3 September 2019

Today the Red Juke was going in for service and I had a courtesy car booked and it was a surprise!

Drove to Stirling in the morning and was passing the ‘New Shops’ just around 9.30am. The new M&S food store was opening at 10am and the crowds, half an hour before it opened were a very, very long snaking queue along the shop frontage, along part of the car park and down the side of the building. At a guess, I’d say between 500 and 700 people were standing in the rain hoping for one of the Golden Tickets that would give them up to £200 worth of shopping vouchers and a bad dose of the flu in to the bargain. I phoned Scamp to warn her that she was too late already. She just laughed

I had to wait half an hour for the courtesy car to be delivered, but when it arrived it was a ’19 plate Micra. Then the service manager dropped the bombshell. It was also an Automatic. I’ve only rarely been in an automatic car and certainly never driven one. How was I going to get this home? Luckily the lady was very positive about it and explained quietly how it worked and drove me round the block. She then offered to sit with me to allow me to get used to driving it round the block. Oh dear I must have looked terrified, but I took her up on her offer anyway. Then it was time for me to ‘go solo’. Despite knowing that there was no gearstick, I still tried to change up and down with the drive selector for the first few roundabouts, then concentrated a bit more and found it was quite a natural way to drive. When I got it home, I took Scamp out for a drive, but she refused to have a go. It’s amazing how quickly you adapt to a completely new driving style. By the time I was taking it back, it was as natural as any other car I’ve driven.

When I got to the garage the same lady came to deal with me and all I said was “Well, that was a lovely car.” I didn’t add “I want one.”, but she knew that was in my head. However, outside was a shiny clean Red Juke that will need two new front tyres this year, so I put the thoughts of an Automatic Micra to the back of my mind for now, paid for my day’s insurance and left with a smile on my face. Western Nissan aren’t so bad after all.

The drive back home took almost twice as long as going, because everyone in Central Scotland seemed to want to go the same way. I was hungry and was looking forward to Scamp’s Prawn Stir Fry for dinner, otherwise I’d have taken it for a run away from the motorway bizz to test out the updated sat nav card they’d plugged in as part of the service. Maybe we’ll get a chance to try it out tomorrow.

PoD was a shot of the last of Scamp’s sweet peas standing up to the incessant rain today. We were promised some sun. We got rain instead.

No dancing tomorrow because Scamp has an appointment with the doc to check out the insect bites she’s got, and no other plans. No dancing at night either because Jamie the Salsa teacher won’t be there. Even worse, he won’t be there next week either.

A portrait session – 30 August 2019

Today we were out fairly early to drive to Larky.

We should have been going to Crawford & Nancy’s for dinner tonight, but since Scamp’s pain started, she can’t sit for longer than about an hour without stretching out (which she’s doing just now), so we decided to cancel tonight. When Scamp suggested to Nancy that they could meet for coffee, just to catch up, Nancy invited us out to the house instead. That’s what we did. The best of both worlds. Scamp got to meet up with Nancy and also to play with Imogen, C&N’s granddaughter, and I got a chance to catch up with Crawford. All of that within a timeframe of an hour and a bit which was comfortable for Scamp.

While we were there I managed to take a few (over 60) photos of Nana, Papa and Imogen. The light was really good in their new sitting room although it was tipping it down outside. Really pleased with the results from the E-M1 with the 30mm lens. It’s becoming a well used combination. The 14mm lens would have been too short and would have caused distortion and the 45-200mm would have been too long. The 30mm was the ‘Goldilocks Option’ – just right!  Imogen herself was a great model who happily posed for photo after photo.  Beautiful blue eyes and for most of the time a happy temperament.  Happy for her papa to teach her some basic gymnastics.

Tried to drive down to Asda in Larky when we left, but had difficulty finding it. It’s stuck down behind the baths and next to the new, new Larkhall Academy. I say ‘new, new’ because there have been two new academies since I went to the original one back in the ‘60s. That makes me feel ancient.

Drove home in the rain that had been falling incessantly since early morning, in fact, since last night. Took today’s PoD of a poor waterlogged Gazania in the back garden with a lens hood made from a piece of A4 paper folded in half and wrapped around the lens, not so much to keep out the sun as to keep out the rain. Useful thing to keep in the camera bag.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for a little bit of sun for a trip to Muirhead for Colin’s Flower Show.

Getting ready for the show – 29 August 2019

I thought all I had to do was stick a couple of photos in frames, but for the artist there’s always more things to do.

After talking to Hazy on the phone for half an hour or so and catching up with all the Wimbledon gossip, I was fairly sure I was ready to start the picture framing.
I was reusing old picture frames for my submissions to the flower show. The painting was all framed up yesterday, so today was the photos. Didn’t like the photos bare in the frames, so decided to cut a couple of mats to clean up the presentation. Those looking at the photos wouldn’t notice, but I would. Couldn’t find my mat cutter, couldn’t find a ruler, the Stanley knife was blunt. I just wasn’t prepared properly, sooo.

  • Clear a space.
  • Find the tools and get them organised.
  • Agree with myself on mat colours and then off we go.

Didn’t actually take that long once I was sorted. Happy with the results, it was time for lunch.

After lunch and under supervision by Scamp, I pressed the waistcoat using her fancy super-zoomer steam iron with the separate steam generator. Now I see why she bought it. It simply does an excellent job, and if I could get almost all the creases out of the fabric, then it must be good. Thanks Scamp!

After that it was off to Colin’s in torrential rain to get the photos, painting and handicraft (because there isn’t a separate category for Waistcoats made by a Man in the show), so I’ll be up against all the macrame, crochet and knitwear. Not that I’m competitive, like! Got some of Colin’s home grown tomatoes while I was there, then it was off to Tesco for some provisions.

Back home and Scamp was looking and sounding better. Maybe it’s the painkillers starting to work or maybe it’s the actual pain easing. It’s hard to tell after just a couple of days, but I’m happy it’s an improvement on yesterday.

I think I may be saying ‘Goodbye’ to the Linx laptops. Windows 10 is just taking all the joy out of them. Last night I was trying, and managing to download a large file from my NAS drive. When I checked on the progress I found the cheery message

”Lets get you back on track”

Windows 10 had halted the download to display this big blue message box informing me that it was about to re-install the update I’d removed before we went on holiday. It’s not meant to do that. It’s meant to return the OS to the previous (working) version, not the bloatware it had just installed. I give up. Because of the weird bootsector on the Linx, I can’t install Linux and be done with it, which would be the sensible solution in this situation. I’m stuck with this half-arsed, laughingly poor operating system. I’ll wipe the drive. Remove the micro SD card and sell the lump of plastic to someone who appreciates an OS that interrupts you every month or so to do what it pleases, not what you want.

PoD is a wee wet flower in St Mo’s this afternoon. Just missing the rain.

Tomorrow we may drive through the rain to Larky to visit Crawford & Nancy – in the morning.

Coffee with the boys – 27 August 2019

Thought I had plenty of time to do stuff before I went to meet Fred and Val. I was wrong.

Just after 8am and Scamp had already phoned the docs to speak to the nurse. She’d been complaining of pains like a stitch, just under her ribcage for a couple of days. She suspected she had pulled a muscle, maybe when she had been evacuating her stomach contents last week. The nurse, when she phoned back agreed and gave her an appointment with the doc at 10.30. In the meantime, she decided to do a washing. Why waste time she said! Drove up to the doc’s and after examining her, the doc said she had torn a couple of fibres in either the diaphragm or on the abdominal wall. She gave her a prescription for Co-codamol which should take the pain away and with the added benefit that she can sell any she has left outside St Mo’s. We’ll know better tomorrow if the painkillers were successful. Once I’ve coaxed her down from the ceiling.

Coffee with the boys was the usual bun fight with everything except Brexit and religion being fair game for discussion and a severe slagging. However, we were a bit more restrained than normal. Must be something to do with summer coming to an end soon. At least that’s my theory.

Went for a walk in the afternoon and got some lovely close up shots of a patient dragonfly. This was the fifteenth shot in a series that started off with me about a metre away and ended up with the lens almost, but not quite touching the insect’s wing. It’s a game. Take a shot move in a bit. Repeat. No time to chimp, just assume that the shot worked. After a while you begin to wonder who’s watching whom. I definitely get the impression that I’m the one under surveillance when I’m photographing dragonflies. Damselflies are much more shy and timid. Dragonflies are just sizing you up.
Earlier in the day I’d taken a couple of shots of Cumbersheugh’s remarkable architecture, but decided that, like the town itself, it was a bit grey and boring. A bit of sun would have been an improvement, but it wasn’t on offer then. The dragonfly was a clear winner of PoD.

Almost finished making my final selections for the photography part of Colin’s flower show submission. Tomorrow I’m hoping to frame and mat the painting. Such a lot of work for a flower show.

Hopefully Scamp will have a restful night’s sleep and be fully fit for dancing tomorrow. For some reason the pain doesn’t affect her when she’s standing or walking, so maybe the dancing will be good exercise for her.

Roundabout chaos – 23 August 2019

It was one of those days that promised a lot but failed to deliver

In the morning, it looked like it would brighten up and be a lovely day. Good wind to break up the clouds and just the hint of sunshine and blue sky now and again. However, it didn’t quite make it and it all degenerated into a dull, cloudy day.

It didn’t keep us in, not us. We were out and ready to buy a new strimmer cable and were driving merrily along past St Mo’s school when the traffic all jammed up. The lights had been switched on and they weren’t properly phased in. Confusing signals from the lights on the roundabout and drivers unsure of what was being asked of them brought the entire roundabout to a halt. Really and truly, in this day and age I’d have expected a computer model to have been built to check the traffic flow. Yes, it would have cost money, but so do six technicians wandering around with their chins on their hands, looking at the carnage on the roundabout and pretending they were thinking about it. What they were really doing was waiting for someone, anyone with a plan to tell them what they’d done wrong. Most of them were wearing brand new Hi Vis jackets, not a mark on them. These weren’t workies, these were managers, consultants and planners and all of them numpties. We managed to get through the mess and bought the strimmer cable then drove home. It was still the same when we drove round the roundabout a second time. Six numpties without a clue how to fix it. Oh dear.

We drove in to the new shops and this time we were buying!! Prices weren’t too bad. Haven’t checked the quality yet, but it’s another option for shopping and a competitor for Tesco can’t be a bad thing.

After lunch I went for a run and avoided the roundabout from hell. Drove over to Fannyside and got a few photos, but it’s just not the same as Venice or Dubrovnik, it’s just Fannyside. The best of a bad lot got PoD. On the way home, just for the fun of it, I drove round the roundabout which was doing what it says on the tin, making the traffic travel round it. Somebody, somewhere had found the solution. Ask a workie who would actually know what they were doing and get him to fix it.

Couldn’t be bothered going to the Balloon Festival tonight. No other reason, just couldn’t be bothered.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch somewhere nice.

The day before – 31 July 2019

Not a lot you can say about Wednesday, so I’ll give the bare minimum.

We went to Milano for lunch and thereby avoided the torrential rain. Pizza was good, but not excellent. It felt as if it had been sitting under the heating lights for too long. More frazzled than hot. Scamp’s fish ’n’ chips was good in parts. Forget curate’s eggs. What’s a curate anyway? We don’t have them in Scotland. The chips were deemed good, although I didn’t like the taste of the sample I was given. The fish was fine apparently, but the batter? Oh the batter was about 10mm thick in places and I’m not exaggerating. It had been put on with a trowel by an apprentice plasterer. Scamp complained as she usually does these days when things she’s paying for aren’t quite right, and that’s what we should all do. By the time we were leaving the rain was off, so it was back to last minute checks before the off. The ‘off’ was 6.30, aiming for a 7.00pm arrival at the airport.

You know when you have a nagging feeling that something isn’t right, but you’re on the motorway and you haven’t time to check? That’s what I was feeling. Surely I had packed the laptop, hadn’t I? Still I wanted to check and when I finally got off the motorway at the airport and parked outside the long stay parking I found that for once I was right in trusting my instincts. No laptop. Drove back to Cumbersheugh. Picked up a laptop that was sniffling on the coffee table because it though it wasn’t going on its holidays. It was, it did and if I hadn’t driven all the way back through more torrential rain I wouldn’t have been sitting here on a balcony in 30º heat typing this.

Dropped the car off. Bus to the hotel and and expensive pint of lager and an equally expensive glass of red while listening to some Ya, Ya english bam sounding off to his Scottish squeeze (Glasgow? That’s quite rough isn’t it?) Kevin Bridges you’ve a lot to answer for!

Then it was time for bed for at least 3 hours before that bloody alarm would ring.

PoD is a wet wee sow thistle after the deluge that we missed when we were sitting in Milano’s.

Strawbs and rain – 29 July 2019

It was a dry start to the day, but it didn’t stay that way for long.

The clouds descended and the rain began.  It was going to be a dull, wet day.  I’d already timetabled a backup for my Linx laptop for today and it went without a hitch.  That was lucky and it was the last good thing that happened.  After restarting the laptop, the message I’d not seen for ages blocked access to everything else.  Apparently Windows 10 wanted, no, demanded that it be allowed to upgrade the OS.  Oh well, I wasn’t going anywhere, so I let it get on with it.  Two hours later the laptop greeted me with the news that it had been updated to the  ‘New’ April 2018 version.  Was this what had taken two hours?  Apparently it was.  I wasn’t impressed.  I promptly got rid of it and downgraded it to the previous version of the OS, only to find that as well as removing the ‘New’ April 2018 version, it had also removed at least one of my apps.  A Windows app.  One of the few things that Mickysoft make that actually works, the one I use to occasionally post the blog.  Thankfully I’d made that backup this morning.  Twenty minutes later the laptop was returned to the state it was in first thing this morning.  Now I have to find a way to block Mickysoft from reinstalling any ‘New’ version.

The rain persisted all day and I took the opportunity to do a little still life of some strawberries fresh from the fridge.  Not our strawberries from the garden, these three came from Tesco.  They got PoD.

Salsa tonight was interesting and exhausting.  New move from last week was called Sombrero <Something>  I’ll fill in the <Something> when we remember – you can see how memorable a name it was!  So was the move!!  We also covered Archangel, Dame Pa’Fuera, ‘New One’ and ‘Old One’.  He must take ages making up these names 😉  That said, he is coming up with lots of short interesting moves that are easy to join together in different combinations.

When we were driving home from Glasgow about 9.15pm the sky was clearing and there was a lovely sunset.  Then the automatic headlights came on.  Nights are fair drawing in already!

Tomorrow we’re off to Larky to get our eyes tested.