Rained again last night – 3 November 2019

And most of today too.

It was one of those days that entice you out with the promise of sunshine and the unwary will venture out and end up soaked. The more circumspect will notice that there is a fine drizzle sparkling through the sunshine and wait for it to clear completely. For most of the day we were in that second group, then we made an excuse, any excuse, went out and got wet. There, that more or less sums up the day.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and then she phoned back to sort out a couple of iPhone problems for me. It’s great to have an expert on hand for just those niggling problems. After a puzzling hour Scamp and I finally managed to get my calendar and hers to speak to each other. You would think that in this day and age of technical wizardry, something as simple as sharing a calendar would be easy peasy, but it’s not. But then it’s associated with emails and it’s well known that emails and printers are the biggest nuisances in computing, other than trying to install Linux in a Linx computer that its, but that’s another story.

Here is that other story. I have a Linx 12×64, 2 in 1 laptop. It works fairly well, but it’s saddled with the despicable Windows 10 OS. It forever wants to “Get me back on track”. I don’t want to get back on track, I just want it to do what it’s told. That’s when I thought it might be a good idea to install Linux. Linux for those of you who have never heard of it is a free (as in free beer and free speech) operating system that runs on a UNIX base, much like a Mac. It’s a bit geeky, Val uses it, so it’s a lot geeky and the two of us are now competing to get it to run on our 12x64s. He’s almost there and I thought I was today until the screen on Elementary OS closed down every 15 seconds, no matter what I did to try to stop it. The challenge still continues and I’ll have another go tonight. I thought I’d broken the Linx last night when it ended up in no man’s land with no OS at all. No Linux and no Windows. Then I crossed my fingers and used Macrium to restore a backup of Windows and it rose from the dead again. I’m trying to keep this light with very little technospeak for JIC’s benefit, so I won’t explain my big mistake that led to that little problem. Suffice to say I won’t do it again … until the next time it sounds like a good idea.

Eventually Scamp harrumphed and said it was time to go out and get wet. We walked down to the new shops in the almost dry, got our messages and came home in the rain, just solid, straight down, rain. We knew we’d get wet and were dressed for it, so that was fine.

PoD tonight was taken, hand held with the pens sitting on a couple of tissues with another couple behind to hide the mess on the coffee table. I quite liked it.

Today’s blog title came from a Tom Paxton song, by the way “The Things I Notice Now”.

Tomorrow it’s Gems and I’m hoping to go out for a while, rain or shine.

Coffee for two – 31 October 2019

Off to meet Val for a technological chat.

There are four of us. Fred, Val, Colin and me. We all have our specialisms. Fred likes to talk politics, books and music. Val talks technology and books. Colin talks about gardening. I talk bollocks and books, music and technology. Between us we always find some topic of conversation to take apart. Today there were only two of us and so it was Technology and Books, but mainly Technology. We discussed new phones and old computers, books we’d read or were going to read and we both told each other lies and tall stories. That’s the best bit about shooting the breeze, nobody really believes everything the other is saying.

After we were done, Val went off to meet his wife and I went home to meet mine via M&S to get some lunch. After that, we picked up June and took her to sunny Coatbridge for her eye check. While the ladies were in the clinic, I took a trip to Currys for a bit of window shopping. Found another possible replacement for the Teazer, but on further inspection it didn’t quite fit the specification I’d set for myself. The back screen doesn’t flip up. Such a pity. The Sony RX100 iii is still the front runner.

Picked up the sisters after they were finished and after dropping June off, we went home. Scamp was getting ready to assemble a fish pie, so I went out to get some photos, but it was cold and I came back with only a couple of shots. Luckily they were decent, so I present one of them as my PoD.

Tonight’s sketch, and the last one of this year’s Inktober is an umbrella. This is not just an umbrella, this is a dripping umbrella. Let’s face it, those of us who live in Scotland get plenty of opportunity to sketch them, except today. Today was a bright, cold, sunny, DRY day. Typical!

We have no plans for tomorrow, at least not yet. Looks like rain.

A Day at the Seaside – 15 October 2019

Up and out we said. Up and out it was today.

Breakfast downstairs today and out for 10.30. Off to the seaside. I chose Troon as our destination. It began to look a bit dicey when we climbed up the M77 to the top of Fenwick Moor and drove into the low lying cloud. Fog lights on and we carried on. Thankfully after about 15 minutes we were back into sunshine with the cloud looking like a grey wall behind us. From there it was sunshine all the way to Troon.

Couldn’t get parked at the first car park, so we carried on to the one we used to go to round by the harbour. The place with the crashy waves. The waves weren’t crashing today, in fact the sea was very calm with only the slightest movement. Arran’s peaks were poking through some low cloud and made a great PoD. Taken by me, chosen from the sixty odd others by Scamp. We walked round the Ballast Bank by the low and now notifiably DANGEROUS path. Sat for a while on one of the seats by the path. Beautiful views over to Horse Island and Ailsa Craig in the distance. Listened to the hundreds of seabirds on the exposed rocks. It could have been summer, sitting in the sun with the high banking sheltering us from the sun.

Eventually we gave up our seat and walked on into town. Nearly at the town Scamp’s cousin appeared with her daughter and the two of them had a long catch up, nearly blocking the path for everyone else. Eventually we split up and went our separate ways. We walked as far as the wind surfers’ car park at the far end of town. There we turned and walked back in to town. I suggested we go to the Venice cafe for lunch. The best part of half an hour for a roll ’n’ sausage and a roll ’n’ scrambled egg. It’s not that they were busy. We were the only ones waiting to be served. No apologies, nothing. Scamp told them in no uncertain manner that we wouldn’t be back. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say that before. That will give you some idea of how angry she was. Now we know why it wasn’t busy.

Walked back to the car and who should we bump into again? Elspeth and her daughter. They had been to Scotts for lunch and that’s where we had been heading before we met them. Don’t see some folk for ages, then you see them twice in the same day.

Drove home through the usual 4pm traffic. No low cloud or fog this time, just loads and loads of cars on a busy road.

Sketch today was “A Dessert”. We had Meringue with Strawberries and Cream for tonight’s dessert and I attempted to draw that, but wasn’t impressed with the attempt, so I drew Strawberries and Cream instead. Three strawberries and a tub of Elmlea. I liked that one!

Maybe we should keep that Juke. Today we started out with 274 miles predicted in the tank. We arrived home with 295 miles predicted in the tank. It seems like the petrol tank is related to the Magic Porridge Pot that never emptied!

Tomorrow it’s dancing in the afternoon, hopefully.

Another wet day – 10 October 2019

Isobel was the visiting garden guru today.

Drove up to see the nurse about my recent blood test. She didn’t seem concerned about my sugar level, in fact she seemed pleased that it had come down and assured me that if I stayed on my regime it would continue to drop. I asked her about a leak I have in my eye after I bumped it with a pen on Tuesday. Yes, really. Clumsy I know. She told me to go to an optician and get it checked. Left with a smile on my face and a sample bottle in my pocket to be filled and returned to the surgery tomorrow.

Back home, Scamp was getting ready to go and get Isobel so she could assess the state of the garden. Basically Scamp’s been overcrowding the pots with too many plants. That and everything needs pruning and shaping. This is worse than Shannon’s styling classes! We had Broccoli soup for lunch and then Scamp showed her some of her holiday photos and that kept them amused for most of the afternoon. All the time the rain had been pelting down.

When Scamp took Isobel back home, I did a bit of armchair flying, then when the driver returned I drove up to the Town Centre to speak to an optician. In Specsavers the manager was very helpful and didn’t laugh too much when I told her what I’d done. The optician had a look and said I’d damaged a bit of the white of my eye, but that it was healing well. She gave me some ointment to put on it at night. I haven’t tried it yet as it seems to make your vision blur, but I’ll do it as soon as I get the blog written. I was relieved that it wasn’t anything worse and pleased that I’d got it seen to (pun not entirely intended).

By the time I was coming home, the automatic headlights came on, so there would be no outdoors photos today. In fact the only thing I could think of photographing was three of the roses that Clive had sent us. With a slow shutter speed to achieve a low ISO, they looked good. I know you really are interested in this JIC, that’s why I’m telling you 😉!

Today’s topic on my Inktober list was “A Radio. This is Scamp’s DAB digital radio. It’s the only discrete radio in the house, that is one that’s not built into something else. It’s so rarely that we use a radio these days. Scamp listens to Money Box on Radio 4 and I rarely listen to anything at all. Radios are and endangered species these days. This one was drawn in pen, then rendered with a water colour marker and a white pen. I also used lots and lots of Post It notes as masks to keep the edges neat. I thought a radio would be an easy topic. It wasn’t. Tomorrow the topic is “A Butterfly”. Not many of them around in October.

Not sure what we’re doing tomorrow. It looks like being wet again.

Dorothy – 8 October 2019

Today was Dorothy’s funeral.

A funeral is a sad occasion. Maybe because it makes us think, not only about the person who has died, but also about our own mortality. This was one of the most fitting funeral services I’ve been to. No hymns, no prayers and no quotes from the Bible. Just one man talking about someone he hadn’t met, but speaking as he had known her all his life. We found out later he had been a policeman and was now a Celebrant. He did a very good job. It also helped that we were looking over the coffin to a window wall and some open fields beyond with trees blowing wildly in today’s gales. She’d have liked that.

At the tea afterwards we got to meet folk we haven’t seen for years. I met my cousin Myra who used to paint beautiful pastel pictures. Now she can hardly see and can’t paint anymore. She was there with her husband and the daughter of another of my cousins, Judith, who took my breath away with her likeness to her mother who died about ten years ago. Funerals are strange things. For some of us, it’s the only time we meet our distant relations, and sadly they get fewer every time.

Drove back through the rain and wind, but the Juke was flying home, we had a tail wind! By the time we got back the automatic street lights were turning on and it was only 3.30pm. No time to go our for a walk, although I’d have liked to have gone today, just to talk to myself. The rain had gone for a while, but soon it was back again and I was glad I hadn’t gone out and got soaked. I changed out of my formal clothes and life began to return to normal.

Today’s PoD was taken on the dining room table because it was dark outside. Just a bunch of cut flowers and I really liked the deep pink chrysanthemum.

My Inktober list for today was “A mouth, ear, eye or nose”. I decided to try all four. It ended up like “three stars and a wish”. I really have to keep working at the mouth, or lips. I’ve read all the tutorials, watched all the YouTube videos, but I simply need to practise more. Maybe tomorrow will be easier. It’s “A bird’s eye view or A worm’s eye view”. Now I’m thinking “Could I do both in the same drawing?” That’s a wee challenge.

Tomorrow, hopefully, we’re dancing.

Inktober 2019 begins and so does Winter – 1 October 2019

Scamp was going out for coffee, then she was going out for lunch and I was a happy bunny for once because Inktober 2019 had appeared on Flickr menu. It was cold today.

Scamp had a 10am appointment with Isobel and then a 12 noon appointment with Mags. Because it’s the first of the month I had some backing up of images to do, but that could be done by the computer without any input from me, other than to initiate the copying. I had also given myself the job of taking rubbish to the tip. One old SCSI scanner that never really worked and a bag of rubbish, which we’ll come back to later. We both got on with our respective duties and we bumped into each other after I’d been to the tip and she had been for coffee. I was heading back for lunch and she was heading out for lunch. My what busy lives we lead. I’d also checked on Inktober on Flickr and done a bit of armchair flying while she was out. Flying was a work in progress, but Flickr was looking good for once with 19 members. I’ve just checked and now we’re up to 34! Not everyone will participate, I realise that, but 34 is a very good start. I also cut out the patterns for the new waistcoat. A much more manageable set of pieces. Only six templates. We’ll see how simple the stitching is later.

After lunch, more armchair flying and then a walk to St Mo’s because the light was good even if the temperature was still in single figures (9.9ºc counts as single figures, just). I got well wrapped up, but needn’t have worried because the sun was actually quite warm and as long as I wasn’t in the shade, it was quite pleasant. The sun was low when I was almost ready to come home and that led to some interesting effects, resulting in me being later than I’d intended. The PoD was one of the last ones from the walk and was taken with the 14mm lens to give a bit of depth to the shot.

Tonight I did my first Inktober 2019 sketch, straight out of the ‘Official’ promos. The topic was ‘Ring’. I took the easy route and drew my hand with my wedding ring. It’s a bit rough, but I haven’t done much sketching since May. Quite enjoyed it though. Tomorrow’s theme is ‘Mindless’ and I’ve no idea what to do for it. Maybe because I’m mindless – now there’s an idea.

Tomorrow it’s back to Ballroom and Jive. No Salsa because it’s the lady with the “Oo la la”. No real dancing, just learning to raise your hand and shout “Oo la la”!

Oh yes, the rubbish thing. I bought a tablet stand from Ikea months ago because it was an ideal shape to hold my sketchbook for photographing the Inktober sketches. Guess what was in the bag of rubbish I took to the tip! Even worse, I put it in the bag in purpose. I’d forgotten I’d need it tonight. Numpty.

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.

The anaesthetic effects of Dancin’ – 28 August 2019

Today Scamp was just a little bit better. I was concerned that dancing might maybe too demanding, but on the other hand it could just take her mind off the pain.

Jive first, and because we were the only beginners there, it was a private lesson. Really useful. Learned a new move although the name “Shuffle Ball Change” does need a rethink in my opinion! Then a bit of wash and brush up for the waltz and quickstep routines. The hour just flies by sometimes.

When we were walking along for a coffee and a discussion of today’s progress, I had to stop and photograph the Devil Duke of Wellington whose dark mask had slipped, exposing his glowing ‘devil eyes’. It might just have been a trick of the light or it could have been something more sinister. Take a look at the pic on Flickr and make your own mind up. It didn’t make PoD. That went to a shot I took this morning of a rose I accidentally cut down. when I was pruning the rambling rose round the back door yesterday.

Macaroni & Cheese for dinner! Quite excellent! Then it was time to go out to Salsa. Two classes with lots of new and reprised moves. Great fun as usual with Jamie G’s classes.

JIC phoned to say that his birthday tee shirt had arrive and fitted. After Scamp’s story of woe, however, he did comment that he should have washed if first with all these stories of Norovirus!

Scamp looked exhausted tonight and eventually admitted that she had probably done too much dancing, but that it had indeed taken her mind off the itch from some beastie bites and the pain from her ‘stitch’. So it was most likely the best thing to do in the circumstances.

Tomorrow I have to get the photos and stuff packaged ready for Colin’s Flower Show. He says he’s resigned from it, but I know that he’ll still be keeping a weather eye on proceedings.

Curry, Dragons and a Comma – 24 August 2019

Hamilton for a curry, nowhere to park in Strathaven, but beasties at Drumgrew. That’s the synopsis, here’s the detail.

Drove to Hamilton to have a curry in Bombay Cottage. Now if my brother hadn’t mentioned going there about a year ago, I’d wouldn’t have remembered this was my favourite eating place in South Lanarkshire. Thankfully he did and we’ve been going regularly since. Chicken Tikka for me today to replace my usual Chicken Rogan Josh. Not as good as the CRG, but the curry sauce was far more tasty than anything I’ve had elsewhere.

We’d nowhere to go after that, so I suggested we should drive up to Strathaven to see if any of the balloons were flying. Bad move. Nowhere to park in the town and it looked as if most of the folk were parking in a farmer’s field about two miles from the park where the balloons were supposed to be. We didn’t stop. I’d seen the balloons before and it’s impressive, but not worth the two mile walk along a single track road that’s advertised as having passing places. The ’s’ in ’places’ makes it sound as if there are more than one passing place. This is a case of bad advertising I think. So we drove back into Strathaven and got some petrol for the thirsty Juke and then drove home in 24º which isn’t bad for the latter half of August in Scotland.

Scamp had decided to top up her tan in the garden when we got back and I was thinking I might take the Dewdrop out to see if there were any brambles worth picking. It looks like I was about a week early as there were very few in my favourite places. I got about 250g which is very poor. Hopefully today’s sun and the rain that’s forecast for the beginning of next week fatten up the berries I’ll get some next weekend.

What I did get was some photos of a Comma butterfly, so called because of the white ‘comma’ shape on its underwing. I also grabbed a shot of a Common Darter dragonfly feeding on a grass flower head. So not a wasted afternoon after all. Sat for an hour in the garden afterwards with Scamp, drinking Staropramen and pretending we were in a little café in Hvar.

Tomorrow looks like it will be more of the same, hopefully. That would be nice. May go to raid a garden centre!

More rain, more drizzle, then sunshine – 28 July 2019

It rained in the morning, but my weather app said rain would stop at 1.30pm and it did.

Yes, it did stop then, and the sun shone for a while, but it wasn’t really trying very hard.

It was a day of not doing much apart from clearing up after last night and writing yesterday’s blog. Sometimes you just have to admit it and play catch-up. Hardly went past the door for most of the day. Took the chance of a bright spell and grabbed some photos in the garden. Front garden shots were best today, especially the PoD of a hover fly on an Eryngium Planum (Sea Holly).

Other than that, it was preparations in the afternoon and watching an amazingly interesting F1 GP from Germany where it looked like there wouldn’t be enough cars left to form a quorum for the podium.

Spoke to JIC in the evening and got up to date on all things going on in Cambridgeshire.

Tomorrow we have no real plans, apart from intending to go dancing at the STUC in the evening.