Late start. Lost day – 10 September 2018

Slept too late today because of a late night last night. In so doing, I lost the best part of the day.

If there was a best part, that is. Drove out to Airdrie to try another garage to get the scrape fixed. The owner was off on holiday. How inconsiderate of him! Who decides that these people can swan off on holiday any time they choose. He should have known I wanted to see him, even if I didn’t know him and hadn’t heard of him until yesterday. Only one more garage to try and that will need to be tomorrow.

Parcels are coming tomorrow. One contains coffee from Perth and the other contains the Samyang 7.5mm lens for the Olys. Don’t know which one get to play with it first. It seems to me that the Oly 5 gets the best shots from the short lenses an the Oly 10 certainly works better with the longer zoom. In particular, the Oly 10 does not work well with the short kit lens. Don’t know why, it just is.

Avoided Gems in the afternoon by driving to Auchinstarry and walking along the canal, over the plantation and back again in the rain. It was the rain that helped produce the PoD, so I shouldn’t be too critical of the weather. Weather is just there. It’s a given and you have to use it to your advantage. Of course, you could do like I did the other day and add some golden sunshine in Lightroom or ON1, but you should really accept what you’re given and do something with it. I don’t think I’ll ever be happy to do that though 😉

Salsa tonight was half an hour of beginners being amazed that they have mastered Dile Que No, which is no mean feat in week 2 of the course. That was followed by an advanced class reprising moves we’ve been doing for the past three weeks. I’m not complaining at all. I think that’s exactly what we need some times. I enjoyed the night, but my knee was giving me gyp for the last half hour.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to go out looking for someone to give me a price for fixing my scratched car. Alex sent me some shots he’s taken with the Samyang he used to have and they look good, so I’m hoping for some decent weather to test it out.

Just one of those days – 9 September 2018

Do you ever have one of those days when nothing happens, but then you have difficulty in recalling any of it? No? Must just be me then.

Didn’t get up until late. There seemed no point as the sun seemed to disappear, then reappear again weaker than it was. It would repeat this sequence, then come back strong again before starting again. It was also raining fitfully. Almost as if it couldn’t be bothered becoming full on rain, it just wanted to drizzle all day.

It was Scamp who decided we must get up and go shopping. Not go for messages, go shopping to Morrisons in Falkirk and she was driving. So off we went (we got dressed first 😉 ) We hadn’t gone far before the rain started in earnest and continued all the way to Falkirk. We went to get milk and muesli and came home with a whole lot more. Loads of stuff. Morrisons weren’t doing breakfast, well they were, but it was taking 20 minutes for hot food and we wanted hot food, so we said “no thanks” and came home to make breakfast / lunch. Not brunch, because that’s american (with a small ‘a’) and we’re not the sort of people who do brunch. Whatever it is.

After lunch or breakfast whatever you want to call it, I went out to see if a bloke in Coatbridge would fix the scrape I made in the car last week, but he only fixes bumps and wasn’t interested because the paint was scraped and he didn’t have the tools to do paint jobs. He did however tell me about somebody on the other side of town who could do the job. That’s tomorrow’s visit.

Came home and took today’s PoD from the top of the Whin Edge Brae above Mollinsburn. Faked it back home to produce moving clouds in the sky area but static grass stems in the lower part. Also gave it a warmer light overall. Not great, but at least I took a photo today.

Spent the evening tweaking the email settings on my Linx 12×64 and finally managed to get all my emails working on Windows 10.  We should have been  going  to Mango to dance with The Dark Side, but just before 6pm when we were due to leave, we had to put the house lights on because it was so gloomy and the rain was battering against the window.  We couldn’t really be bothered, so we left it to another day.

Just one of those days.

Tomorrow I am hoping to go to sunny Coatbridge to see a man about paint.

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.

Another patient transfer – 3 September 2018

Not such an early appointment today.

Drove Shona in to Glasgow to ‘The Royal’ for her pre-op. Just a gentle drive to a 1pm appointment. However, when I was leaving the car park I managed to scrape the bottom of the rear passenger door on a really low metal boundary fence/pipe. If the car hadn’t had such good ground clearance, it would have been much worse. As it is, it’s just another dink to add to the Juke’s tally. So far it’s been:

  • July – Scrape along passenger’s side front wing when some eejit tried to scrape past me in Tesco car park. Fairly easily removed with Brasso (T Cut) and a scratch repair kit)
  • August – Dent from an over exuberant and spatially unaware Audi driver ( Dash cam caught the incident and was handed to police to deal with)
  • September – Today’s prang. May need expert assistance to get it sorted properly. My own stupid fault.

They say bad luck comes in threes. Let’s hope that’s me paid up to date.

While I was in Glasgow and before the bump, I got today’s PoD which is the clock tower of the Blind Asylum in Castle Street. Actually, the Blind Asylum is now a multi storey car park with only the clock tower to show where it stood. Each clock on the hexagonal tower is at a different time. I don’t think there is any significance to that. They just stopped at different times and as the tower has now fallen into disrepair, nobody started them again.

We went in early to salsa tonight to lend our experience to a beginners class. However, there were only about nine beginners, nine people, not nine couples, so we just went through to another room and practised our ballroom dances instead.

Our own advanced class were doing Tornado as not many of them had done it before. We had and it’s one of Scamp’s favourite moves, so we WERE helpers for that class.

Tomorrow? Scamp’s out to lunch and I think I’m phoning around for a plumber to fix our drippy tap.
Oh yes, and Shona passed her pre-op without any problem so the actual op may be happening sooner rather than later.

Ladybirds, Spiders and Mini Trees – 31 August 2018

All in a days walk for me.

Scamp was out with the witches today for lunch, a late lunch where drink would be taken. Gentlemen were not invited, they were the taxi drivers. We know our place.

I painted for a while in the peace and quiet of the house and sort of improved yesterday’s Inktense disaster. It’s still a work in progress, but the acrylic paint does give a depth that the Inktense couldn’t quite achieve. I added another layer to it tonight after the initial layers had dried and liked the contrast that was created. You may never see it, it’s really a development sketch if I was going to be po faced about it. I’m sure there will be other iterations before it is ready for canvas and oils.

There are really disruptive roadworks with four phase traffic lights down at St Mo’s school this week and they are causing a lot of bother. Because of that I delivered Scamp to the restaurant before starting on the painting. While the painting was drying, I took the Duke out through the roadworks again to fill it with petrol and also to get some photos. I drove up to the back of Fannyside and found a little dragonfly sitting on the grass. Unfortunately the shots weren’t too sharp, so they will never see the light of day, I fear. Then I saw a long legged spider and a white spotted, orange ladybird having a .Mexican standoff’. It was a bit of a toss up, but the ladybird won the day. Just across the road I saw the fencepost with the miniature trees growing out of it. No doubt they had grown from seeds dropped by birds or seeds excreted by birds.

I was just walking down the road when I checked my phone and found that my three hours of peace and quiet were at an end and Scamp was requesting her taxi.

That was a good day, with good weather, painting, photography and a little bit of nature too.

The Long Arm of the Law – 20 August 2018

This morning I was up and out early, very early for me.

Picked up June just after 8am, then picked up the (im)patient, Shona, then it was on to the M80 and a fairly clear run into Glasgow until Robroyston where traffic started to queue up. Actually, I was surprised we hadn’t run into more traffic earlier, but I suppose the workers were already in work and the school run doesn’t usually involve motorway driving. Got parked fairly quickly and easily, sent the mum and daughter off on their travels and settled down with a good book, Becky Chambers – Record of a Spaceborn Few. Strange SF, but really enthralling. I’d only been sitting a few minutes when I saw Scamp’s text -“Remember to look for the coffee shops.” Cryptic, but I knew what she meant and went in search of the coffee shops.

It turned out to be just the one coffee shop, an independent with a large frontage. Got a very decent take-away Americano and a packet of biscuits and went back to the comfort of the car.

Soon afterwards the twosome returned with smiles on their faces. It was a different doctor Shona had seen and he had pronounced her fit and ‘normal’ whatever ‘normal’ means. Anyway, that was the result they were hoping for and puts her back in the queue for the operation she’s been waiting for. He also suggested she had “white coat syndrome” as so many of us have.

Back home I got ready and took the Dewdrop out for a run, having stuffed a poly bag in my rucksack on the chance that I found some brambles along the way. I did and came home with just over 400g of berries and a bruised knee where I’d fallen down a banking in among the brambles. It was a good run, although one knee was aching and the other one was grazed and bruised. Today’s PoD came from that cycling visit. A wee dragonfly perched on some builder’s rubble on a fly-tip site.

After dinner we went to Glasgow to find that the parking charges had gone up and there was no 6.30pm class any more. That’s what happens when you miss one week of salsa. Today’s move was Lizzie and for once I managed to get it right.

Came home and checked in with police 101 to tell them we were available to hand over the footage from the dash cam. Just after 10.30 two polis arrived and had a look at the footage on the computer and agreed that as there wasn’t much damage to the car and none to the occupants, it was unlikely the matter would go to court. Breathe a sigh of relief. Still not totally settled yet, but I should know the final result by the end of the week.

Tomorrow? Going in to Glasgow to get my hair cut and probably cut mats for the painting and the two photos for the flower show.

Happy Birthday JIC – 16 August 2018

Today dawned bright and clear today on JIC’s birthday, but the weather app said rain later.

With the foregoing in mind, I thought I should get the Dewdrop out and get some more practise in slipping the shoes into the SPDs. I had an appointment with the physio at 1pm, so I decided that it would be an morning run while Scamp made some Blackcurrant Jam, with a pot destined for the local garden show.

The second, trial wasn’t quite as successful as the previous. The right shoe clipped in perfectly and consistently. The left was a hit and a miss. More adjustment needed there I think. It might have been a good idea to take an adjustment spanner with me, but for the second time, I forgot. With that said, the shoes felt secure once they had been fitted into the clips and the big success is that I didn’t fall off this time!

Back home, a quick shower and I was off to see the physio. I was sure he’d sign me off, but he applied his laser again, twice! Then he stabbed five needles into my knee and had the cheek to come back about fifteen minutes later and twiddle them around to bring me even more twinges. However, again he wants to leave me for a few weeks before he sees me again and agrees that it’s an ‘Improving Situation’. More cycling recommended in the meantime to strengthen my thigh muscles.  Found the predicted rain when I left the gym and went up to the town centre, but when I arrived home the streets were dry.

Scamp was going out tonight with Isobel to an organ recital and hymn singing in the Village church. I dropped her off at Isobel’s and drove back to feed the birds and hopefully listen to a radio 4 prog I’d recorded (about the Wigtown Bookseller, Hazy). I was just finishing the bird’s meal when my phone rang. It was Scamp to tell me that the concert was next week, not tonight and could I please come and pick her up. No hurry though, because she was having coffee with Isobel.

Drove down to see Isobel’s compact and bijou garden and admire the quality and quantity of plants she has in it. Also to be amazed by her knowledge of the names and varieties of the plants. Some people just have that ability to remember all those Latin names. I know a few, but only a few.

Well, at least I could have a drink when we got back so I had a well-deserved G ’n’ T for my troubles.

Today’s PoD is the leaves on a strawberry plant in the garden. Changing colour already.

Tomorrow? Well on the cycling trip this morning I noticed that there were a few brambles ready for picking, so if it’s dry tomorrow I may go and do that.

All I can say about today is “It’s not great” – 12 August 2018

A slight case of lack of concentration.

I offered to run the visitors to the train station to get the one-an-hour train to Embra. I was too busy talking and I took the wrong turning, or it could be that the Juke thought I was going to Auchinstarry, my usual turn-off at the roundabout. Anyway, for whatever reason I took turn-off three instead of turn-off four. I could have turned around after 100 metres or so, but decided to carry on and detour through Croy because we had plenty of time. Bad decision, because just after turning in to Croy, we got a ROAD CLOSED sign. Nothing for it but to do a 180º turn and head back to the roundabout and take the correct turning. Now the time was ticking away and if I didn’t get there on time it was an hour wait for the next train. Luckily I got there in time and the visitors got their train to Embra.

Came home, picked up Scamp and off we went to the station again. This time I took the correct exit from the roundabout and we headed off in the opposite direction to the visitors. To Glasgow to see the Men’s Road Race for the European Championships with the hope that the rain that had been falling since we woke up would stop. Got the train and walked out of the station into the deluge and grabbed some shots right away. Walked around the corner and caught some more action at a corner. Corners are always good for cycle action.

<Technospeak>
With some photos in the bag we walked down to Argyle Street because I wanted to change my ideas for more interesting photos. No longer fast shutter speeds and the inevitable high ISO on a dull, overcast day like today. I chose a slow shutter speed to balance a fairly small aperture in manual exposure mode and kept the ISO low as well. That gave me the basis of the PoD that is at the top. If all of the above mean nothing to you, then just see it as a way of getting that blurred effect. Used Lightroom and ON1 to accentuate the blur and saturation of the colours. I think it worked.
</Technospeak>

We walked through the Merchant City after that, but the rain was becoming heavier as we walked and we decided enough was enough. We went for coffee in the usual Queen Street Nero and then after a few more photos we crossed the road race circuit for the last time and went for the train home. Inevitably we just missed the train. On a Sunday there are only two trains an hour to Cumbersheugh, both leaving within 15 minutes of each other, leaving a gap of 45mins to the next pair. It was the second one we’d missed. I moaned about the stupidity of Scotrail’s timetabling all the way back to watch more cycling and laconic Scamp agreed “It’s not great”. That’s about as severe as Scamp’s comments get. We got one of the new extra-long electric trains back home.

JIC texted to say they were on the 5.30pm train from Embra and I drove down to collect them. This time I took the correct turn at the roundabout! On the way home some eejit in a silver Audi bumped into me at a roundabout and sped off without a second thought. Wee bump to the front wing and another scrape to paint over. Luckily the dash cam got a good record of the event. I’ve reported it to the polis, but I don’t see them doing anything about it. Nobody was hurt and no real damage done. Don’t think it’s worth claiming on my insurance as I’d end up paying more in excess and my premium would just increase next year. That’s just one of the joys of motoring today.

Tomorrow looks not as bad as today. The visitors may go in to Glasgow. I’ve got to go to fill in the forms for the polis. Oh joy of joys.

Stirling – 11 August 2018

The city with something for everyone.

While JIC, Sim and Steffi were visiting Stirling Castle, we too, or we two, were also in the town. It’ll never be a city to me. It’s just a jumped up town with a good curry shop and an interesting art gallery, oh yes, and a Waterstones and a Nero. The rest I can do without quite happily. Glasgow? It’s a city. Embra is a city too, Even Aberdeen is a city covered in granite and seagulls, but Stirling is just a decent sized town. Our reason for visiting today was to have lunch in that good curry shop. A few years ago it was on a downward slope, but it seems to have got its act together again and is now back on the up. New seating and maybe a bit less scruffy interior, but thankfully they decided to keep the menu as it was. Wise people. Scamp’s Veg Pakora followed by Veg Dhansak seemed to satisfy the lady and although my Haggis Pakora was a bit heavy and my Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna was a bit too spicy, it was deliciously sweet and full of flavour, so I won’t complain. It seems, like I said, that they are back on track. The foodies said so!

Had a look in the Art Gallery and appraised the offerings there. Some were just too twee and rejected out of hand, but a couple of others were in the category or “I’d but that if my lottery ticket came up”. Not having bought a lottery ticket, that purchase was unlikely, but the artist, Julian Mason, really had worked out how to paint wet water. As if I could do anything like that.

When we’d parked we couldn’t help but notice the number of Italian motorhomes that seemed to have taken over the carpark. They were still there when we were going home. Scamp thought they were something to do with the European Championships which finish tomorrow. It’s as likely an explanation as any.

Not long after we got home, the other three arrived back from Stirling Castle and Doune Castle where Steffi had re-encacted the Quest for the Holy Grail, complete with coconut shells, as so many have done in the past I seem to remember.

I drove them all in to Glasgow to meet ’The Boys’, Andy and Chris, with respective wives. We’re not expecting them back until late when old folks like us will be tucked up in bed. On the way back I got some ice cream for Scamp and me from the cafe in Muirhead. Also got some Oddfellows sweeties and a stick of Gin ’n’ Tonic rock which tasted neither of Gin, nor of Tonic. Disappointing. Oddfellows are half finished though!

Today’s PoD is Scamp’s little rose bush she has grown from seed. It’s Sunday name is Little Gem, but it’s always been called Rosie and it flowers continuously all summer. It deserves its place as PoD.

Tomorrow the visitors may be going to Embra and we may go to Glasgow. It all depends on the weather.

What you need is a dirty big spanner – 4 August 2018

Never a truer word spoken. If only I could get a dirty big spanner!

Both of us were loathe to get out of bed this morning. Both of us reading books that were totally unputdownable. Finally we sort of drew lots to decide who would go for a shower first. I chose to be the first to close the book.

With the plans for the day in ruins, we settled on Perf as Glasgow would be overrun with folk wanting to go to the Championships and Embra was winding itself up tight for the festival but the east was looking better than the west weatherwise. Also, I wanted some (more) coffee – you can never have too much coffee, can you JIC? Finally, I knew there was a good bike shop where I was sure I could get a pedal spanner. Perf it was then.

We drove through drizzle which turned to intermittent rain which turned to heavy and then torrential rain until we got to Gleneagles where the rain mysteriously stopped and blue sky opened out above us. The sun was shining and, although there were heavy black clouds in the rear view mirror, there was brightness ahead. We’d made the right decision.

Parked in our usual carpark which used to be an expensive NCP until they sold out to the Perf council who applied sensible charges. Not something that happens every day and not something that will ever happen to NLC. We walked in to the town and through the ‘farmers market’. I had a look in the Oxfam bookshop, but there wasn’t much to enthral me and the two prats who seemed to be in charge were too busy boosting each others egos with pompous reviews of films they’d seen and became so irritating I left empty handed.

Scamp suggested lunch in Cafe Tabou and we got a table without any bother, mainly because it was quite early. I’d forgotten just how good the food is there, but Salad du Chef and Traditional Cassoulet reminded me. Just simple good food well cooked and presented. Ok, it’s not quite so simple if you have to cook it yourself, but it appears to be simple food and that’s the clever part. We left feeling that we’d both eaten well. Scamp’s was Seafood Risotto followed by Coley en Croute.

Walked down to cycle shop, but he didn’t have a pedal spanner in stock. Typical. On to The Bean Shop, only to find that they’d run out of the coffee beans I was coming to buy. They’d have them in by Thursday or definitely by Friday. Disappointment number three. We went down to the river and stood on the overhanging vantage point to look down on the river. Just like being on a ship. The water was very low, even the rain we’ve had for the last week wasn’t enough to raise the water level by much. Turned and headed for the carpark although I knew there was another bike shop I could try near the carpark. Again, they didn’t have the spanner. This was beginning to sound a bit repetitive. However one of the mechanics gave me some interesting tips, like soak the joint in Coke! Apparently the phosphoric acid in Coke will destroy the aluminium oxide that causes the two metals to seize! Gave up and headed for home and Halfords.

The sun was still shining and it shone all the way to Cumbersheugh. Stopped at Halfords and yes, they did have a pedal spanner. It looked like a toy one. The handle wasn’t much bigger than the one I’d used last night. I said I wanted a ‘real’ one and he admitted that it might not be any good, then he showed me the one the bike mechanics used, but they don’t sell that one any more. Typical. It was a real one. I left empty handed for the fifth time that day.

I decided that it was worth driving in to Glasgow to see if Dales was open. Scamp agreed. Drove in parked and almost immediately found exactly what I was looking for. A sensible looking spanner with a long handle to give a decent bit of leverage and for a sensible price. Bought it, said thank you and headed home to sort that bike out!

Removed both wheels. Jammed the left crank in the workmate and tried that dirty big spanner. After the second try the white flag went up from the pedal and the bolt turned. Success at last. Both the mechanics in Perf had agreed that what was needed was a dirty big spanner. They were right. Now, before I put the SPDs on, I’m going to grease the threads well, so I don’t have to go through that rigmarole again.

PoD today was a macro shot of a rose. According to Scamp its name is Troika. It has beautiful colours and even more beautiful perfume.

Tomorrow I think we may be getting Public Transport in to Glasgow to see a cycle race and then I’m hopefully going to bolt the cleats on to my new cycle shoes, bolt the new SPDs in place with the dirty big spanner and then go for a run on my carefully washed and cleaned Dewdrop.