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A stay at home day – 20 April 2018

A day to get things done. That was the intention today and it worked … sort of.

It was an incredibly late start to the day and we probably lost the best of the day as a result, but The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle is an exasperatingly gripping story and one you just can’t lay down, especially when you’ve just worked out who’s talking and who they’re talking too. Just under 70% through the story and I still haven’t a clue who’s doing the murdering and even if there IS a murder. I’ll just have to wait another 30% to find out. It’s a bit like The Bone Clocks and a bit like Inception, but with Hercule Poirot type characters on each page.

When I eventually gave up, closed the Kindle and had my shower it was nearly 10.30! So much to do today. Most of it I achieved. Some I shelved for later, that indeterminate place in the future. Some things I hadn’t intended doing, I completed too. But first there had to be coffee!

After coffee I started on the bread making. Bread making used to consist of chucking the ingredients into the mixer, switching it on for 10 minutes. Then halving the dough. One half went in the freezer to be used in the future and half went to prove to make a loaf. If I was organised I’d get the dough made in the morning and the bread ready for the table by dinner time. Not so with Sourdough bread. Last night I made the ‘Leaven’ which is an extra-energetic form of the starter. Today I’d make the dough which has to be turned four times every fifteen minutes for an hour total. See? It’s quite complicated. After that it has to rest (so has the baker) before it’s tucked up in a basket and put in the fridge to sleep and dream of the nice warm oven it’s going into the next day. Three days seems to be the norm for a loaf. This is definitely not ‘fast food’. Anyway, I missed out the faff of turning it four times every fifteen minutes and went straight to dumping it in the fridge. Tomorrow we’ll see if I ever attempt another Sourdough loaf.

In between nursing and nurturing my dough, I washed the car to remove the rook crap from yesterday and even did a bit of planting in the garden. Basil (two kinds), kale and rocket were planted today. Some went out into the mini greenhouse to celebrate its first birthday and the basil went up into the front bedroom window sill to catch some rays and some heat (hopefully).

Dinner tonight was Butter Chicken from the Spice Tailor range. Lovely stuff. After that I struggled with Windows 10 trying to get it to do what it was told. Like a precocious child it did the exact opposite. Macs may be expensive, but they just work. Even the ones running El Capitan just work when compared with Windoze 10. Such a waste of time. In the later afternoon light I got my PoD which is a crocus stamen among some crocus leaves. I liked it right away.

Now I’m trying desperately to get the photos uploaded and the blog written so that I can go to bed the same day I got up. That would be another thing done!

Tomorrow? Thought of going to Embra, but Hibs are playing host to Sellic and that means loads of drunks on the train, so perhaps not. In other words, “Don’t know.”

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The Fit Family – 27 March 2018

Today was gym day.

I avoided it yesterday by going cycling instead, but today I had to bite the bullet and go, because Scamp too had decided it was time to revisit the machines of torture. That said, we did take it easy in the morning and had our coffee before we grabbed the bags and went out in the rain.

It was harder than I anticipated. I did my 12 minutes on the recumbent cycle and then frittered away some more time on some of the weight machines and the treadmill before finishing up on the leg press. Scamp worked the treadmill for 15 minutes or so then competed for a place in next year’s Boat Race with a sparkling performance on the rowing machine. Next it was time for a relaxing swim and it may have been something we said or maybe the excessive sweat from my exertions was overpowering, but everyone left the pool when we went in. A few lengths of the minuscule pool and ten minutes in the sauna and we were out. That’s it for another week. Scamp thinks we might go earlier next time. She mentioned 8am, but I think (hope) that was a joke. If not, it was wishful thinking.

In the afternoon I went for a walk around St Mo’s to see if there was anything wanting its photo taken. Couldn’t see much at first, but then I spotted the little green shoots of sycamore seedlings sprouting through the leaf litter (PoD). Don’t know if many of them will survive, but it was a hopeful start seeing all the green shoots. One final shot of what may become a Larch flower (https://flic.kr/p/RZNASn). They look really remarkable when they burst into colour. Never knew pine trees had such beautiful blooms. It’s amazing what you see when you take the time. Just because there were no deer or foxes in the woods doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. You just have to look a little more carefully. It’s even better if you have a macro facility or lens for your camera. Once you’ve seen the world from 20mm in front of your nose, you’ll understand the fascination of this kind of photography.

It had been dry for most of the afternoon, but the rain came on when I was walking home, but it wasn’t such a dull day after all.

Tomorrow is Dancing Day with the possibility of a slightly different plan. Who knows?

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Just another dull Sunday – 15 October 2017

It was a dull day when we woke and it didn’t improve much throughout the day.

The highlight was a phone call from JIC.

Went for a walk to St Mo’s and got the three photos above. Quite liked the shot of Mr Grey standing in the greenery. I’d promised not to post pics of the autumn leaves, but that was never going to stand, was it? That’s why the pic of the tree was there. Sometimes I can see the title of the shot before I take it. That’s the reason for the photo of the bloke with the dog. The John Hiatt song just played in my head when I saw the dog turn and look at me.

Sorry to say, that’s about it, apart from a less than helpful email from Vodafone to tell me that my phone won’t be delivered after all. When will it be delivered? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Apparently Apple haven’t delivered them because of the weekend. Does the weekend last from Thursday night to Sunday now? Are Vodafone so strapped for cash that they buy their phones in ‘penny numbers’? Not impressed.
Tonight I went online and did a text chat with ‘Omrar’ who said I MIGHT get it tomorrow and then finally that I will get a confirmation of delivery tomorrow. We’ll see. Strangely enough this is exactly the same as happened when I got Mambo No 5 two years ago.

Tomorrow is batten down the hatches day as ex-hurricane Ophelia makes landfall across northern Britain. We tied up the sweetpea frame this afternoon, just in case.

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Masterchefs – 25 August 2017

Today we were cooking lunch for Scamp’s sister, June and her boyfriend (her word!) Ian and it was going to be hot in the kitchen. I can’t stand the heat, so I got out.

I’d done my part last night by making the panna cotta and it was chilling in the fridge. Scamp had set herself the task of making the other pudding option  which was to be Chocolate Pots (when we have guests, we always offer [for offer read eat] two puddings). She was also making the main which was chicken stuffed with mozzarella and wrapped in parma ham. I was going out to get a multipoint extension cable. Some would see that as the easy option, but you forget the skill that is required to purchase just the right cable length and the optimum amount and orientation of sockets. Yes, of course it’s the easy option.

I got back with loads of time to spare and got the thing connected up to the various AV electronics. It never ceases to surprise me just how many electronic and pure electrical devices we connect to our minimal amount of output sockets these days. Our living room has five power sockets and about twelve electrical devices looking for power.

After lunch which went very well, especially the panna cotta even if I say so myself, June and Ian wanted their photo taken. That was easy. The next bit wasn’t so easy. June wanted the photo to fit into her locket which is 23mm by 15mm. I really didn’t think my printer would manage it, but with a little help from Photoshop, it did. Then after a few prints, the printer died. I tried to resuscitate it without success. According to various sites on the internet, the problem is that the print head is kaput. Not surprising when you consider that the printer works almost non-stop for about a week just about Christmas and then lies dormant for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, that week’s work is me making my calendar and I really need a good quality printer for that. I’m hoping it’s not completely dead, but just in a state of shock after having been woken from hibernation too early, so I’m letting it sleep tonight and I’ll gently wake it tomorrow morning. Hopefully it will all be green lights. Today it was flashing amber lights.

Green was the dominant colour in today’s PoD. It was a drip falling from a chestnut leaf. Rain was falling from first thing this morning and it still is tonight.

It’s supposed to be better tomorrow. Let’s hope so.

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Coffee (and tea) – 26 April 2017

Lazed around this morning and watched another episode of Lucifer.  Not quite as funny as the first, but still amazed that americans can actually get this amount of satire, sarcasm and deadpan humour.  Series 1 is shaping up nicely.  I know it’s on to Series 3 now, but I’m a late convert to the show.

After that, it was up to Costa to meet up with Fred and Val.  After the normal exchange of music merchandise we proceeded to lay out in detail the Auld Guys Rules for Brexit, the proof that Maggie Thatcher has been reincarnated as Theresa May and why Jeremy Corbyn is a diddy.  Britain sorted over two cortados and a pot of tea.

Next on today’s agenda was booking the Scampmobile in for MOT, followed by a long chat with the garage owner who just wanted an excuse to get away from the paperwork, I realise that.  Also I don’t blame him, I used to do that too.

Before dinner, I had time for a walk over to St Mo’s to see what was doing.  The answer was very little.  Not a lot of decent light, but the ‘big dog’ did a good job with what was left.  The result you see above.

Went in to STUC early tonight, not to see Jeremy the Diddy, but to help out with Jamie Gal’s beginners salsa class.  Had a great time in both that class and the advanced class, succeeding in boosting today’s step count to almost 10,000.  This new Fitbit is much more comfortable and also much neater than the Goji Go.  Ok, it costs a lot more, but it was certainly worth it. You get what you pay for.

Tomorrow?  A bit of gentle painting in the morning and if I’m awake early enough, I may even go out and get some photos in the early morning light.

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Macros – 19 March 2017

Now, before I get started on macros and stuff, I have to make one thing clear.  My skin is old, I’m comfortable in it, and most of all it is, like me, quite thick.  So the the ‘Tramp’ comment by Scamp yesterday was like water aff a juck’s back.  If you don’t understand that, then sorry, life is too short for me to teach everyone the meaning of everything I say.  I accepted that the ‘Tramp’ comment was made in jest and although it might have appeared that I took offence, that wasn’t the case. Ok.  Can we move on now?

The photos above were the best I got today.  If I’d realised that the weather would stay clear and sunny all day, I might have been encouraged to travel further afield to make more of the conditions, but the weather men and women assured us that it was going to be torrential rain all day.  Give them their due, it did rain heavily during the night, but hardly a drop fell all day and for that I give thanks.  I went for a walk along the Luggie which was a raging brown torrent after the overnight rain.  It was treacherous underfoot.  Very slippy and slimy with mud moving about under my sole pair of boots.  Unfortunately, the old boots had developed a hole in the upper, just where it met (or in this case, didn’t meet) the sole, so after six years of exceptional service they had to go in the bin.  The new ones, just over a year old now are great for waterproofing, but not so good on grip.  My bargain walking trainers are great for grip and waterproofing, but are only trainers.  They don’t give support or keep you ankles dry.  I expect they’ll be fine in  the summer when that day comes.  I liked the detail in the green blobs (moss fruiting bodies) and the desiccated rose hip.  Both were taken with the Sigma 105mm Macro.  Such a good lens.  Never lets you down, always bitingly sharp.  Slow to focus, but I can put up with that.  Doesn’t have anti-shake, but doesn’t seem to need it either.  Comes into its own when focusing closer than about 150mm from the front element.  Truly a gem.

The sketch is an edited view of the bathroom window ledge.  I’ve removed half the junk and obviously a bathroom window wouldn’t have clear glass, but artistic license is a wonderful thing.  It’s not the best sketch I’ve done for my one-a-week, but it’s done and on time (must be done by Sunday).  We were both a bit clumsy to start with, but by the end we were getting much slicker.  Must go and practise our moves for tomorrow’s class.

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Is this your minky? – 11 February 2017

11 FebToday we set off after breakfast for Chaguaramas to walk into the Bamboo Cathedral.

I don’t know what I expected, but I wasn’t ready for the sign warning us to

  • Walk in groups
  • Don’t display cell phones or jewellery
  • Stay in well lit areas

I thought we were going for a leisurely walk.  I forgot to pack the AK47 and stab proof vest.  Bummer.  However, once we walked past the entrance gate, I forgot all about that.  This was jungle!  Well, jungle with a wide tarmac road through it.  The trees round us were enormous and there was some bamboo too, but nothing ‘cathedral-like’.  Then we turned a corner and there was the bamboo.  Not one or two clumps, but hundreds  – everywhere.  Now I could see the ‘cathedral’ reference.  The bamboo arched over our heads from both sides and met in the middle making it look and feel as if we were walking through a green tunnel.  We walked the length of the bamboo tunnel and then started climbing the hill at the end.  As far as we could see, the bamboo was finished.  We turned to go back and Madeleine stopped to ‘rescue’ a piece of vine from the depredations of some weeds.  Jaime managed to wrap some banana leaf round it and tie it off with a bit of creeper to keep the roots damp until we got it home and could replant it.  It was a rescue vine.  We walked back through the Bamboo Cathedral and just before we got to the high trees, Madeleine notices movement in the bushes at the side of the road.  I started mentally ticking off the warnings on that sign, then we all saw the monkeys.

Madeleine said they were Capuchin monkeys.  I was too busy trying to get a decent shot of them in the low light that filtered through the canopy.  Eventually, I gave up, switched on fast continuous shooting and fired off seven or eight shots at a time, gave the camera time to deal with them then fired off another seven or eight.  I tried a video, but the Oly 10 isn’t really up to that kind of task, and when I checked later, there was nothing useable on either video.  Everyone had a great time looking for new groups who seemed to appear from nowhere, climb high into the branches above our heads and jump the gap across to the other side  Adult and babies all made the journey without injury although some were better at jumping than they were at catching the branches on the other side and there were a few almost tumbles.  Once they were all over, they started feeding and it was time for us to move on.  Great fun for all.  All the time we were watching the monkeys, people were passing by, all saying “Good Morning” and none really batting an eyelid at the monkey gymnastics.  I’m guessing this is a normal occurrence here.

When we got back to the car, we drove on to Macqueripe Bay where we descended the stairs, under the screaming people on the Zip Wire above us, down to the beach.  Lovely little beach with what might have been a harbour at one end and a sort of short promenade above the sand.  The water looked lovely and clear and I wished I’d brought swimming stuff.  The whole place had a strange 1950s look to it and reminded me of the Lido at Bothwell Bridge near Hamilton.  Lots of folk swimming and just enjoying the sun, but then it was Saturday after all.  I got photos of some crabs before they dived down their holes.  They were well back from the sea and I wondered if they sneaked down the steps onto the beach at night.  From the promenade you could look out past an island to just see Venezuela in the distance.

After the short visit to the beach, we walked back up to the car and Madeleine drove us home via the supermarket which seemed to stock a lot of Waitrose goods. Which made me wonder if it’s an offshoot of that business.  We saw all the usual supermarket stuff and then some things you don’t get back home, like Chicken’s Feet again.  Scamp even took a photo of the aforementioned delicacy to show to the disbelieving ones back home.  On that subject, I did spot a cafe on the road advertising Cow Heel Soup.  Apparently it’s a local delicacy and the soup is really good.  I just hope they wash the cow’s heels well before making the soup, having seen the stuff that cows walk through!

Lunch was stewed chicken with fried plantain and salad, followed by coconut ice cream.  Maybe a notch down from the ice cream we got in Karawak, but still better than anything we get at home.

IMG_3767_3768Today’s sketch is of the house across the street with a bit of M&J’s house added in to set the scene.  Actually, after I was finished, I preferred the lightness of M&J’s house to the lumpy looking other house.  The perspective is much more pronounced with the viewpoint closer to the small house.  Worth another go, I think.  Maybe tomorrow.

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Geese – 15 January 2017

Half past one in the afternoon and I’m standing in the middle of an old coup that was previously a spoil tip for a coal mine. Now it’s just wilderness and I’m watching and listening to skein after skein of geese flying overhead heading north. What do they know that we don’t?

That was written much earlier in the day.  I’d cycled to the tip and by the time I was heading for home, an hour and a half later, the skeins were flying west, south and occasionally north, but not east.  By that time the light was failing and I imagine that these birds had been flying since first light some eight hours earlier and are now looking for somewhere to roost for the night.  There are quite a few fields around Cumbersheugh where geese feed and then roost.  That would explain the apparently contradictory flight paths.  It was great listening to the skeins as they ‘talked’ to each other.  Some will say that’s not true, that they don’t communicate, but if you listen, it does sound like they are sharing information with each other.

While I was walking around the tip, I got a few shots of folk on top of the Kirkie Volcano.  It’s really a pit bing (spoil heap), but from this angle it looks just like a volcano.  One day I’m going to walk up it and take some photos from the top.  East Dunbarton Council should really make it into a visitor attraction with a wee coffee shop at the top.  It would make a fortune.  I may suggest it to them.

It was a lovely day today with a few showers of rain, but the temperature was decent, very decent for the time of year with highs of just over 10ºc.  Not quite shorts and tee shirts weather, but not far off it.  I did wander around in my shorts for a while, but it was too cool to cycle in them.  I saw the moss fruiting bodies (Green Blobs) when I was putting my cycling ‘longs’ (the opposite of shorts) back on and was quite impressed with the colour the camera caught.

Tomorrow is back to Gems in the afternoon, so I need somewhere to go.  Not sure where yet.  😉

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Green – 17 August 2016

17AugI’d read on a blog somewhere about taking shots of part of an object or even parts of an object and allowing them to define the whole and another about taking more time to study a shot before taking it.  They must have struck a chord with me because that’s what I found myself doing today.  First when we went to Strathaven this morning after we’d picked up our new reading glasses in Larky.  We were sitting having lunch in a wee cafe.  The local secondary school was coming out for lunch too and for a time we were surrounded by school weans.  I felt quite nostalgic for a while.  Aye Right! (that mean’s “No I DId Not” in Scotland).  Anyway, we were sitting next to a wall and over the wall was the Powmillon Burn and a beautiful fern lit by contré jour light (backlight). It looked good, and it still does after Lightroom has had a go at it.  I took another wide angle shot from the same position, but it did not come out of Lightroom very well.  In other words, it was rubbish.

That sort of set the tone for today’s photos.  Also,most of them were green, like the fern, but one that bucked the trend was a shot of a Yellow Wagtail which wasn’t a plant and wasn’t green, but it WAS only a part of the frame, because I couldn’t get closer and I only got one shot.  Remember, it’s better to have one shot in the bag and then try to improve on it rather than fart about trying different compositions but then miss the shot entirely and end up with nothing.  The other one that wasn’t green was the blue blobs shot which was taken with the intention of having only one flower of the three in focus.

After Strathaven, we came straight back home as I wanted to get the ingredients for tonight’s dinner and Scamp wanted to cut the grass in the back garden.  Grass is also green, or am I stretching this too thin now?

With the dinner half made and having solved today’s Sudoku puzzle while sitting in the garden, I went for a walk to St Mo’s to see if there were any other parts of things I could isolate and that’s where the leaf and the two grasses came from.  Back home I finished making today’s dinner – Thai Green Curry.  Total coincidence!

Possibly one more glorious day tomorrow before the rains come.

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Dug wi’ a burst ba’ – 24 July 2016

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was raining when we got up and it never stopped. Last week it was too much sun, this week it’s too little.

We sat and watched a boring Hungarian F1 GP. Most of the race was yawn-friendly, only becoming interesting in the closing stages. Best part was the after-race comment by Jenson Button about his team being ‘unfriendly’ towards him. I can’t blame him for this throw away comment after the ridiculous rule change that prevents the teams telling drivers about safety issues. F1 is becoming more regulated than the EU. Maybe Britain should opt out of it too.

I spent the rest of the afternoon ‘fiddling’ with a neat little program called Elementary OS. As the name implies, it’s not so much a program, more an Operating System. It’s based on Linux and like most Linux programs it’s free. Unlike most Linux operating systems it looks very neat an clean and almost Mac-like. After a few unsuccessful attempts to install it on my ancient HP netbook, I found that the laptop wouldn’t boot back into Windows. After dinner, I spent the rest of the evening trying to coax it back into life, unsuccessfully. It seemed like the hard disk was empty!! Oh dear.

Eventually I gave up and went out to get a PoD of raindrops on the nasturtiums at the front of the house. I did a bit of focus stacking to get the front and the back beads in focus and with the aid of Photoshop, it all came together as a whole.

After we went to bed, I couldn’t sleep. My mind was still worrying away at the netbook problem, like a “dug wi’ a burst ba’” (That’s a Scottish way of saying “a dog with a bone“). After another hour’s work using the excellent, free and dubiously sourced Hiren’s Boot Disk 15, I managed to get it going again with no loss of data. Now I could go back to sleep.

Looking for some dry weather (sun would be nice, but dry would do) tomorrow.