Pythagoras, Roast Chicken and a Baked Potato – 9 November 2019

It was a cold start to the day and it only gradually got warmer. The best thing that happened today was Roast Chicken and a baked potato. Pythagoras was useful too.

It was one of those days that my dad used to warn me about. “When you’re retired,” he told me, “you don’t get weekends.” It’s true. Weekends are just like any other day … almost. Mondays are different. Mondays are days to wake early. Walk to the window and look at the rain streaming down, then go back to bed for an hour. Today was Saturday and we didn’t have anywhere we wanted to go. So we got up and sat and read the news on tablet or on computer.

I decided I’d best take the new piece of technology out for a test drive. It performed well enough, but not enough to convince me not to return it to JL. It might get packed up tonight, but more likely tomorrow morning. It’s good, but not worth the money that’s being asked for it. It’s touted as being a 1” sensor, but the actual dimensions of the sensor are 13.2mm by 8.8mm. Now, applying Pythagoras to that will give you a diagonal size of 15.86mm. As far as I can remember, 1” = 25.4mm, so the diagonal of the sensor in this camera and others like it is in fact 0.62 of an inch. That’s if and only if the entire sensor is used, because it never is! Do you realise that the ‘camera’ inside a phone is actually smaller than your pinkie nail? Like all things photographic, it’s a con. One of the photos I took with the ‘medium dog’, the Oly E-M1 graces the top of this page and became PoD. It’s a close up of the seed head of cow parsley. Shot against the sun it’s quite pretty IMO.

Lunch could have been in a restaurant or cafe somewhere, but ended up being a piece ’n’ black pudding for Scamp and a piece ’n’ bacon for me. Suitably refreshed, we started making plans for dinner and my suggestion of roast chicken met with Scamp’s approval. We walked down to the shops and got a chicken and other stuff for dinner. The car park was full, absolutely full. Maybe some folk were hoping for a glimpse and perhaps a selfie with Denise Van Outen whoever she is, because she was opening Matalan this morning, but I imagine she would be well gone by the time we arrived.

It’s a pleasant walk down to the shops now. I imagine Tesco is feeling a slight pinch, but nothing too serious. The roast chicken and baked potatoes were lovely. Even better, there’s more for tomorrow.

Speaking of tomorrow, I have no plans, but I my parcel up the Sony camera and give someone else the chance to be disappointed with it. Scamp is doing stuff in the house, I believe.

Dull, Dull, Dull – 7 November 2019

That sort of sums up the day. Dull with the chance of Brexit.

I’m getting fed up with the amount electioneering we are getting on the (supposed) news. The first thing they talk about is the election or Brexit. No news there. We know there’s going to be an election. We’ve been saddled with Brexit since 2016. Why is the important stuff always playing second fiddle to this nonsense.

Then it’s Labour slagging off the Conservatives. Conservatives slagging off Labour. Lib Dems labouring under a delusion that they’re going to oust both of them and the SNP slavering for another referendum. Then there’s some poor reporter who’s sent to some god-forsaken town to try to drum up some interest in the whole shebang. Haven’t you heard yet? Nobody’s interested, and apart from the party faithful, nobody has found any party in the whole mess worth voting for. For what must be the first time in my life I don’t want to vote. Scamp even suggested that I should spoil my ballot paper and I might just do that and write “NONE OF THE ABOVE” at the bottom. There, I’ve got that out of my system.

Today was a dull day, but it brightened up in the afternoon and the rain dried up too. I managed out for a walk in St Mo’s and came back with the monochrome offering at the top of the page. Walked on down to the new shops and got a nice wee bottle of wine to go with the dinner. I’d made some soup and Scamp made Chicken and Mushrooms. The wine washed it down beautifully.

After talking to Val in the morning I gave Linux on the Linx another go, but I’m getting tied in knots with it now and beginning to think that it’s more trouble than its worth. I’ll just put Windows back in, reset it to factory settings and sell the big black slab. It’s always been ok, but not great. Windows 10 kills it. Might get a few quid for it and put that to getting a replacement for my dust ridden Teazer.

No plans for tomorrow other than hopefully going to Milano Express for lunch.

White Rabbits (x3) – 1 November 2019

It’s traditional on the first day of the month to say “White Rabbits, White Rabbits, White Rabbits”. Well, it’s traditional in this house anyway.

It was wet when we woke and it stayed that way all day. Eventually Scamp encouraged me to join her on a safari through the wet rainforest to the new shops. There we found our quarry, a pack of pancakes some chicken thighs and some ready-made flatbreads. Enough for dinner tonight we thought.

I was tempted to take another route home via St Mo’s and allow Scamp to carry the bags part way home, but that would be a bit unfair and I decided I was wet enough without an extra trudge through the muddy St Mo’s.

Back home, and after completing yesterday’s Sudoku, I started to make some pakora to go with the curry. I overestimated the amount of ingredients and ended up with far too much pakora. Luckily Scamp offered to scoff all the cauliflower pakora and I did the same with the onion bhajis. The result was we never did have the curry. We simply didn’t have enough room.

The rain did ease off for a while today after we returned from the shops, but not enough to encourage me out again.

PoD was a raindrop on a bush on the way to the shops. It was just a dull, wet day.

Tomorrow Scamp is going singing and I’m going to immerse myself in Cuba. All will become clear, I hope.

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.

Two left feet – 30 October 2019

You know those days when everything goes right? I don’t.

Today started well. Scamp was out meeting a friend this morning for coffee. That gave me time to sit and draw today’s prompt which was A Houseplant. I chose one of Scamp’s Geranium cuttings. Although both back and front gardens are full of plants, this is one of the few that are allowed into the house. I believe she has it house-trained and it is careful not to leak on the window ledge it usually sits on, basking in the warm autumn sun. I quite liked the result. The pot isn’t quite right, but the plant was well drawn, I think. The good stuff ended there.

We drove in to Glasgow and in the dance class we thought we danced quite well in the free dance practise at the start of the lesson. After that I had brain-fade. Led with my left when it should have been my right. Stepped inside the lady when I should have stepped outside. Got every element of the new routine wrong. I just couldn’t put a foot right, or was that left? Whichever it was, it wasn’t the correct one. Came away really disheartened.

A coffee and a photo of 110 Queen Street helped lighten my mood, but I wasn’t a happy bunny. The only good thing I can say about today is that next week will be better. Surely it can’t be any worse.

There’s not a lot else I can say other than that I made mini lamb chops and a lamb burger for dinner and it was delicious. Mini lamb chops are made from the individual pieces of a rack of lamb, cut from the rack and pan fried. I don’t know if I’ve invented it or if it’s already a thing, but this is the second time I’ve made them and they work really well.

Got a Tesco sim and stuck it into the now unlocked iPhone SE. Now I have a serviceable phone running on O2 as well as the Samsung on EE. The camera on the Samsung is pretty poor. Not a patch on the iPhone camera, but at least I don’t have to worry about running out of space on the phone. Swings and roundabout, that’s what it’s all about.

Coffee with Val tomorrow morning and then a run to Coatbridge in the afternoon. That’s the way the day should run.

On the Bonny, Bonny Banks – 29 October 2019

Today we visited Loch Lomond.

Tuesdays are becoming the ‘just go’ days. Just get up, get out and go somewhere. Today that ‘somewhere’ was Balmaha on Loch Lomond side. To those who have never heard of it, it sounds like somewhere exotic, but you’re probably getting mixed up with The Bahamas. It was not very exotic today, in fact it was a bit cold, but when you were in the sun it didn’t feel too bad.

We had packed a flask and the usual assortment of picnic food like crisps and chocolate biscuits. Good healthy food and not in the least fattening. Before we got stuck into that we had to do some walking to get the blood flowing after our 50 minute drive. Walked down to the jetty and that’s where I got today’s PoD. It’s a two frame panorama stitched in Lightroom 6, thanks for asking. The blue sky is real and it looks exactly like the view from that pontoon today.

After getting my photos we walked back to give some other folk a shot on the pontoon. Took some more photos near the poorly tended Tom Weir garden. Then it was back to the car for a coffee and a chocky biscuit.

Scamp fancied stopping at the Beech Tree Restaurant on the way home, so that’s what we did. Luckily the Sat Nav lady knew the way to Dumgoyne and gave us directions.

Food was good, but I got a fright when the waitress asked me if my name was Campbell and was I a Techy teacher, if so there was a young lady sitting in the corner seat who thought she knew me. It turned out to be a former pupil and thankfully, it was one of the most pleasant ones I’d taught. I went over and had a few words with her and her dad who I remembered from various parents nights. Poor girl, like so many others, she’s working in a job she doesn’t like. I know that feeling. It took me many years before I got the opportunity to do a job I really enjoyed. Hope she gets that chance before long. After being properly fed on Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, and giving father and daughter a wave on the way out, we headed for home. Today was a lovely day.

I’m still not sure if the proper term is Skullcandys or Skullcandies. I’m going with the former. These are my go-to headphones (or to be more precise earbuds) when I’m out walking by myself. They fitted the topic today perfectly and the topic was A Pair of Headphones.

Tomorrow Scamp is out in the morning and we’re hoping to dance in the afternoon.

A Morning Walk – 27 October 2019

We hadn’t been for a Sunday morning walk for months.

We drove over to Colzium estate for a walk among the trees. They have the most amazingly coloured Japanese Maples. I’d forgotten just how many there were. Unfortunately the place was looking a bit run down. The bandstand must have been bad because it had been put in a cage, or maybe it was just falling down. Loads of trees blown down and some looked as if they’d been there some time. The curling pond was almost completely silted up. The trees that were still vertical were magnificent, but the rest of the park was looking very sad. Such a shame. I did get today’s PoD which was a blob of moss growing in a crevice of the old road bridge at Colzium.

After lunch, Scamp walked down to the new shops to get some ‘messages’ and when she returned she reported that it wasn’t as cold as she’d expected. That gave me the impetus I needed to get out myself and have a walk over St Mo’s. With the clocks going back this morning, the days seem to become a lot shorter and this is most obvious in the late afternoon. I’d a photograph in mind and it relied on bright sunlight from a low sun. I almost caught it in one shot, but I think I missed the perfect time by a few minutes. Maybe another day. I’ll use either PhotoPills or The Photographer’s Ephemeris to work out the exact timing for it next time. Great apps, they allow you to find the optimum time for directional lighting anywhere in the world. They even work with light striking along a path in Kilsyth!

I was making dinner tonight and it was Chicken Cacciatore from one of Scamp’s cookery books. It was a bit fiddly to make, but it tasted very like her’s, so I must have made it right.  On the subject of food, today my Inktober list said “Bread”, but I included a glass of wine in the background. Then I drank the wine, which was perhaps a mistake on so many levels.  I could say that I’d baked the bread myself, but in fact it was a Warburtons Multi Seed and Grain and does taste just like home made.

Spoke to JIC at night and got the full story about the dummy interview he’s sent us. We both thought he’d managed the interview really well. Although we could see that he was taking the whole thing very seriously, he did inject a bit of humour too. A scary thing to volunteer for, especially knowing it was being filmed. Well done you!

Stayed up late to watch an ‘eventful’ Mexico GP. It’s amazing to listen to the drivers’ versions of events which vary greatly from the actual scenes you’ve been watching.

Tomorrow (or to be more exact, Today) is Gems day. I’ll make a sharp exit.

Diwali and French cuisine – 26 October 2019

We heard about the Diwali festival on the radio yesterday and Scamp decided it was a fair excuse to visit our eastern neighbours – Embra.

Actually our next door neighbours woke us just after 8am with the sawing and banging associated with having more decking laid in their back garden. We were up and out almost in time to catch the 10.30 train to Embra. The key word there is “almost”. We missed it by seconds. Not to worry, we walked back to the car and waited in relative comfort for the next one. Well, if it was you, would you rather sit on a cold aluminium seat on a station platform with a cool 1ºc breeze blowing or would you sit in your cooling, but 12ºc car with soft fabric seats? I rest my case, yer honour.

Caught the next train and luckily chose the right carriage to get a seat. I’d my phone in my pocket, but, of course, my headphones were in my other jacket. Typical. Never mind it was good watching the sunny, if Arctic, countryside whizz past. There was a zoomer in the carriage. I thought he was German or possibly Austrian. Scamp thought he was Dutch, but he was definitely from the Planet Zanussi. He kept asking people questions with the Columbo catch phrase “I have one question.” He also seemed to holding a conversation with his phone, not on his phone, but with it. Really strange. Never met a German / Austrian / Dutch Zoomer before.

While he went off to find Kirkcaldy, we walked up towards the Nero for coffee. As we were walking through the architectural canyons that link the Western Approach Road with Lothian Road, we chanced upon a window cleaner washing the windows on one of the canyon sides with an enormously long brush. Strangely I’d never wondered how they washed those window. Now I know. Rattled off a half a dozen shots and knew right away that I had a potential PoD. Coffee and a pastry in Costa then a walk up through the farmers market and on to the Grassmarket. I could see Scamp’s eyes light up as we got near the Petit Paris restaurant and knew resistance was useless. That was going to be our lunch venue.

Today’s topic for sketching was Urban Sketch. It was now about 3ºc, but with windchill it would be nearer 1ºc, so I doubted that I’d be doing anything urban and still retaining my fingers, so we went for a walk instead, but just in case I’d get the opportunity, I got a cheap sketch book in Greyfriars Art Shop. Then on to the Meadows and, because the sun was in our eyes and it was blinding, we took a detour round the University, then doubled back when we found we were near Bristo Square. From there it was an easy jaunt back to the Grassmarket and Petit Paris.

Got a table easily downstairs in the dungeon. I had Lentil Stew with Bacon and Sausage. Scamp had Pan Fried Chicken Breast with Forestiere Sauce. Both were lovely, although I had an upset stomach later and the only thing I could blame was that lentil stew. Half a glass of red wine washed down my lunch and a glass and a half of the same washed down Scamp’s. Thanks for that Nicola, ya bastard!

Just managed to catch the end of the Diwali Festival group walking and dancing their way across Embra. There were two big white horses pulling the ceremonial carriage. When they were stopped on The Mound, one of them felt the need to receive itself of excess liquid. Dear me, these horses can carry a fair amount of water! I reckon it stood there for about five minutes “emptying its tanks”. Needless to say, it being Embra, after the procession had passed, the last vehicle was a street sweeper! Can’t have the horses messing up their clean streets!

Decided we’d been fed and watered and seen part of the procession, so we headed for the train and caught it this time with just a few minutes to spare. No foreign Zoomers on it, just some home-grown ones.

I chose to draw our last five apples as a replacement for the missing “Urban Sketch”. I was quite pleased with the result.

Tomorrow we have no plans. We don’t even know the predicted temperature. It’s supposed to be sunny, so we may go for a walk.

Old Bologna – 25 October 2019

Today was dull, really dull, so to brighten our day we went out to Italy.

I started the theme early by flying from Italy to Sicily. It was an uneventful flight until I allowed X-Plane to take control of the aircraft. It was supposed to fly it by AI, but I don’t know what the ‘I’ stood for. It certainly wasn’t Intelligence. It decided to take it away from the flight path and turn off the jet engine. After a bit of a struggle I got everything sorted out an performed a text book landing … at the designated airport, not in somebody’s garden as my brother used to do in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

Back in the real world I struggled with getting email to work on the Samsung. Eventually I gave up or we wouldn’t have arrived at the restaurant in time for supper, let alone lunch. It must be at least three years since we’ve been in Vecchia Bologna, but the menu was quite familiar, the prices were a bit higher and the food was just as good as before. Next time, and I’m sure there will be a next time, we’ll book in advance to get a window seat.

Drove from there to Hobbycraft at The Fort to get some material to make a bow tie. I saw it earlier in the week and should have got it then, but the ‘fat quarter pack’ I was looking for was still there. Met Nancy when we left and made arrangements for lunch some time soon. Back via Aldi so that Scamp could test it out. That smell was still there, but again, it could have been because of the clientele although it did seem to be coming from the fruit and veg aisle.

Back home it was too dull to get an outside photo, so today’s PoD is of the last five apples from the James Grieve tree. Best year we’ve had so far.

Got a bit pissed off with the poor phone reception near the house. Can’t even get Spotify to play on the dire music system on the Juke. Eventually cooled down and accepted that EE is probably, overall the best of a bad bunch. O2 is better than all of them, but elsewhere its coverage is decidedly patchy. Vodafone is about the same as EE, but they really do make life difficult for you. I spent about an hour filling in the form to unlock my iPhone SE! O2 and EE unlock theirs after 18 months automatically. Three is just a joke – no coverage and a poor record. The moral of the tale is “Live with what you’ve got.”  What I did manage to do with the phone was finally get the email sorted.  It was the simplest thing.  The username was wrong, and that completely borked everything.  That’s not what the Samsung told me was wrong.  It told me that I hadn’t set up the PoP or the IMAP properly.  Misdirection is one of the greatest bugbears of the digital life.

Today’s Inktober topic was A Towel. This is how I spend my Friday nights now. Sitting on the toilet sketching an ink drawing of a pink towel. It’s things like this that give amateur artists a bad name!

Tomorrow we have no firm plans. It all depends on the weather fairies.

I thought I’d have a day in town today – 24 October 2019

Just window shopping mainly, but with intent.

Drove up to the station to see if there were any spaces. There weren’t, there were cars everywhere. Cars parked up on two wheels on the verges, cars in the flower beds, cars double parked. This is just carnage from Tuesday to Thursday. I think a lot of folk either work from home or take a holiday on Mondays and Fridays, because I can usually get parked without a problem then. However, there is always the worry that when you come back some moron has parked in front of you. Maybe a ‘ten pence coach line’ would remind them that behaviour like that is not acceptable. Sooo I had to drive in to Glasgow.

I was give a list of shower gels to get for Scamp in Molton Brown. Of course they don’t call them ‘shower gels’, they call them Body Wash. Isn’t that what shower gels do, wash your body? Anyway, today was the start of their annual 20% off offer so that’s why I was given the list. With the job done I wandered my way back up Bucky Street to see what goodies Jessops had for me. My attention was a girl interrogating an older couple. Then I felt a hand on my chest. It was attached to a woman about my age and it was there to stop me walking into her! I hate folk that don’t look where they’re going, and here was I doing exactly that thing. I apologised and laughed and thankfully she did too. Never did find out what the girl was doing.

I hadn’t heard that Jessops were on the point of being put into administration – for the second time. It was only when another customer asked one of the assistants if the shop was closing. His reaction gave the lie to his explanation that nothing was certain yet. Another one bites the dust, I think.

I had another look at the Sony RX 100 camera and for once the salesman I was talking to didn’t push me to try the version 5 of the camera, but said the best bargain was the version 3. I’m still not sure if it’s what I’m looking for. It has a silly little pop up viewfinder that I’m sure I’d break within the first month and then regret shelling out my money for it for the rest of the ownership.

Back home via Tesco to get the makings of dinner. Then I just had to visit the new Aldi store. It was a bit smelly and that could have been the veg counter, or just the great unwashed. I’m not sure which.

Back home I was in the middle of making a pot of Scamp’s Just Soup when the lady herself returned from her gig. It seemed to be a resounding success as it always is in Abronhill.

I left her to cool down and talk to her sister on the phone while I went to get today’s PoD. It turned out to be a little bush which grows wild around here with white berries and pink flowers. It’s called a Snowberry Bush. I liked the flower and the composition.

Apart from fish and prawns, I ‘m not a great fan of seafood, especially shellfish. However, that was today’s topic and needs must … Most of the bits and pieces were cobbled together from various photos of shellfish on the Internet. A splash or two of paint and we’re done!

No plans for tomorrow.