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Days daze – 8 July 2017

It was late when we woke up because we’d been late going to bed last night.

Scamp decided we should go to Colzium for a walk. I thought this a bit strange, because we usually went there on a Sunday morning and today was Saturday, but it was a bright sunny day and a walk in the sun is always a good thing. Parked and went on a long wandering walk around the estate then found that the ‘clock theatre’ had been given a new lease of life as a cafe. We had a coffee and a scone each. The scones were nothing to write home about, but the coffee was absolutely terrible. Brown water with no taste. That’s not coffee. I admired the two folk running the cafe for their enterprise, but not their expertise. Must do better.

Left there and drove east. I suggested we go to Dunfermline because I wanted to go to Waterstones. Scamp agreed, but seemed surprised. Then she said, “Of course, it’s Saturday, not Sunday”. Suddenly, everything was clear. The walk, and the surprise that we weren’t just going home afterwards. It’s been such a confusing week, I can see where she got mixed up.

We walked through the park at Dunfermline and had a coffee, real coffee in Nero. She managed to get the sandals she’d been looking for in Clarks, but I still didn’t get a book.

We stopped off on the way home at Torryburn, near Culross, but it’s all right Hazy, we didn’t go to the ‘C’ place, we just skirted round it. Walked along the shore path at Torryburn, enjoying the sun. Came home and dropped in at Milano’s for late lunch. Pizza for me and Mussels for Scamp. Home and a seat in the sun, the garden with a glass of Pimms each in our glass holders. Ah, Summer!

Rain forecast tomorrow.

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Two birds, one stone – 15 June 2017

Met Fred for coffee today and while waiting, manage to get a sketch done. Two birds, one stone.

When I came home, I went for a quick walk in St Mo’s, more to test the Oly 5 because yesterday some of the photos from it wouldn’t load into Lightroom. I suspected a dodgy SD card and that might have been the case, because today after formatting the card twice, it performed perfectly. Also, one of the shots became PoD.

That was about it really. While I was meeting Fred, Scamp went for a walk around Falkirk, risking driving through one of the torrential rain showers in the process.

The sketch from the morning is reasonable with awkward perspective and figures!!! I hate drawing people. I like straight lines or regular curves, like ellipses and circles. People don’t have straight line or elliptical shapes and very few circles, except perhaps in the irises of their eyes. That makes them difficult for me to draw. I’ve read the books and tried to draw people, but they either look deformed or like cartoon characters. Must practise more. Heavens, there are enough people about to be unsuspecting models!

Today we may go to Perth. It depends, as always, on the weather.

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A sea of green – 28 May 2017

I thought it would be a good idea to go down The Green this morning for a wee walk.  So did a few thousand others, it seemed.

I’d made the fatal mistake of forgetting that yesterday twenty two men had been running around a green field chasing a ball in the rain  Eleven of them got a trophy for doing the running better than the other eleven.  The ones who won the trophy were wearing green and white shirts.  The losers were wearing red.  Today we were driving against a sea of green and white tee shirts.  Luckily.  If we had been going the other way, in the direction the crowd were going, we would still be waiting in that traffic jam.  Also, we started out fairly early and the traffic was light.  Later, when we were coming home the traffic queue was from Parkhead to the slip road from the motorway, in fact they were queueing along the inside lane of the westbound M80, a distance of about 5 miles!  Fanaticism!

However, it didn’t really affect us.  We drove to the People’s Palace and parked there then went for a walk along The Green to the McLennan Arch and back along the riverside to the suspension bridge.  Along the way I spotted on Mr McGivern who was the bane of my life for the last two years as a PT.  He worked two days of the two years he was meant to be with us.  A ghost of a man who screwed the system and probably still does so.  I didn’t speak to him.

We stood on the suspension bridge and watched the people rowing up and down the river.  Young and old, fit and unfit, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunshine, especially after yesterday’s rain.  We headed for home after that, without even our usual tea ’n’ toast or roll ’n’ sausage.

It was on the way home we saw the extent of fandom for Celtic.  So glad we were going the other way.  After lunch and a pretty boring Monaco GP, I drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal to Twechar and back along the railway path.  Saw a Humming Bird Hawk Moth.  The first time I’ve seen one in Scotland.  Photo wasn’t all that good, because I was using the Teazer and it’s not really designed for my kind of macro photography.  Should have taken the Oly 10 as a banker.  Next time, yes, next time.  It was when I was crossing the plantation I saw Bolt.  That’s his name and his photo is at the top of the page.  Cheery wee guy and PoD.

Dinner was roast chicken with cabbage (because it was there) and potatoes.  Lovely warm day and I well exceeded my step count.

Tomorrow, no Gems, but it’s forecast for rain.

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Sunny Skies – 16 May 2017

Although there were torrential rain showers today, for the most part the sun shone.

Drove to Falkirk to speak to our FA, and the news was good. To celebrate, we went to Vecchia Bologna for lunch, but that’s when things started to slide. Starter of Caprese Salad was great with the addition of Parma ham just to make it special, but the mains were nothing to write home about. Scamp’s Spaghetti dello Chef was overloaded with pasta and my Pasta del Contadia was heavy and overcooked. For once we left without having coffee and, after conferring, decided we won’t be back for a while. Driving home was when the torrential rain appeared and even with the wipers on double speed the windscreen wasn’t clearing very well.

Got home to find that the cabin we’d booked for the cruise was on the promenade deck. Not exactly a clear view, but better than having a lifeboat hanging outside your window, I suppose. Not all that impressed with Ramsay Travel’s handling of the booking, but it’ll have to do, I suppose 😉

Went out for a drive to get some tablet ice cream later because the sun was shining and it looked like a beautiful evening. It was, but the cafe was closed so we had to make do with Tesco ice cream when we got home. The silver lining was that I got the landscape photo from the backroad from Moodiesburn to Cumbersheugh. More garden photos on Flickr.

Weather is supposed to be better tomorrow. Just as long as the rain isn’t torrential.

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No rain today – 14 May 2017

Well, today we were prepared for a total downpour and it didn’t happen, which was nice.

To make the most of this little surprise gift, we went for a drive.  I knew where I was going, but Scamp hadn’t a clue.  We were going to Devilla Forest in Fife.  We’d passed it many, many times on the way to other places like Dunfermline and Burntisland, but never stopped to investigate it.  It wasn’t until our last bus journey to Dunfermline it had lodged in my brain as a possible place for a walk.

It just over half an hour to get there and there was a nice big parking area.  We decided to do the fairly easy (45mins) and short Red Squirrel walk along to and round a little loch.  The path was fairly good underfoot, wide and winding through the pine trees.  Unfortunately, no squirrels of any colour were available for photographs today.  The best wildlife we saw, in fact the only wildlife was a pair of mallards on the little loch.  That said, the trees were alive with the sound of, not music, but birdlife.  Hidden wildlife.  A very enjoyable walk and one we’ll build on this summer we hope.

I had also noticed that the next turning on the road lead to a plant nursery and where there is a plant nursery these days, there’s a tea shop.  So it was with The Walled Garden.  Beautiful panoramic views across Fife from the parking area and that’s what got my PoD award.  The tea shop was fairly decent, par for the course and better than Dobbies.  Scamp got a Potentilla for the toilet bowl planter in the back garden.

When I came home there was enough time to go for a quick walk to loosen up my sore leg before dinner and I grabbed the opportunity to stride out along the Forth & Clyde Canal.  Didn’t get many more photos, but although the clouds were threatening, I stayed dry.

Haven’t seen the weather for tomorrow.  It’ll be a surprise.

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Meeting Herr Kutz – 25 April 2017

Took the bus into Glasgow today, to meet Herr Kutz.  It’s been a long time since we met.  Too long, and so was the hair!

I risked using up the remainder of my data allowance and my battery life by listening to The Week’s Favourites on Spotify on the bus on the way in to Glasgow.  About the third of fourth track was a beautiful piece of piano playing and I thought I’d earmark it for Scamp.  Then the track changed to another piece by a different artist, but nowhere near as interesting.  I went back and searched for the piano music and found it was Piano Portraits by Rick Wakeman.  I listened to the rest of the album all the way in.

Still with Bluetooth earphones firmly plugged in I wandered round the *Toyshop* of John Lewis.  Not Lego and dollies but Panasonic and Lenovo.  Big Boys Toys.  Liked the look of a Panasonic TZ 60.  To give some perspective on that particular camera, I have an earlier model, a TZ 3.  I can hardly believe there has been 53 versions between the two!  An interesting camera the 60 because no only does it have an EVF 1, but it also produces RAW 2 files.  Interesting indeed.

The other toy was a neat little Lenovo 11” laptop which has a full size keyboard. The only thing wrong with my Linx 10 mini laptop is the equally mini keyboard, but maybe the Bluetooth keyboard I’m experimenting with will remove that particular problem.

After the retail therapy of the window shopping, it was time to meet Herr Kutz for a number 4 all over with a square neck.

After my haircut I walked down West Nile Street to Laboritorio Espresso for a quick Java.  It was only after I’d ordered my coffee and was taking my jacket off that I noticed the bloke across the room leaning against the wall and smiling at me.  It was an old adversary from the High School.  Steve and I crossed swords on many occasions, but today we were very pleasant to each other and sat and spoke for about half an hour.  Possible we both breathed a sigh of relief as we shook hands and went our separate ways, but a stranger wouldn’t have seen it.

I made one more window shopping stop and this one was unintended.  I stopped to look in the window of a computer repair shop in Bath Street and saw a MacBook Air in the window for about half the normal price.  I guessed it was a refurbished model, but went in to check.  It was indeed refurbished, but the spec was good even if it was a bit long in the tooth.  Now that’s a idea I hadn’t considered before.  Since my MBP which I’m writing this on is now over eight years old, I know the longevity of the Apple computers.  That said, I’m still wondering if I’m just buying someone else’s problems.

Back home I downloaded the Rick Wakeman album from iTunes and Scamp was as delighted as me with it.

Later I went to get a PoD.  That’s what you see above.  It’s the view from the Antonine Wall, the Roman equivalent of Trump’s wall.  It was built by  the Romans to keep the uncivilised heathens out.  I don’t know who the uncivilised heathens are in america.

Tomorrow I’ve got coffee booked with Val and Fred.

  1. Electronic View Finder as opposed to the rear LCD screen. 
  2. Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited.  They do, however give the purest image quality. 
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“I don’t get hangovers yet” – 23 April 2017

This morning we went for a walk round the Barras.

I was going looking for a cheap Bluetooth 4.0 dongle – it’s a bit of computer hardware, in case you don’t know.  There used to be a multitude of wee computer shops selling legitimate and highly illegal hardware and software down the Barras.  Most Barras stuff was knocked off, one way or another and everybody knew that and accepted the risk that what you were buying was either unlikely to work once you got it home or a man in a black suit wearing a cap with a black and white chequered pattern would relieve you of it as soon as you stepped away from the stall.  No guarantees, no money back, but glorious bargains to be had.  Not today and by the looks of things not ever again.  The Barras was dead.  All the wee shops and some of the bigger ones were closed and firmly shuttered.  Worst of all, there was almost nobody about..  It looks like the end of an era, and also the end of my search for a cheap Bluetooth dongle.

We walked down to Glasgow Green and strolled through the trees just springing into leaf, about a month behind the ones we walked in last week in Astwick.  That’s what happens, they get the weather, we get the scenery.  It’s a fair exchange and I like the way it’s weighted.  We were just heading for the People’s Palace for my usual Sunday roll ’n’ sausage and Scamp’s tea ’n’ toast when three girls passed us and the following snippet of their conversation floated towards me  “… I don’t get hangovers yet. I suppose I will later …”.  I felt like telling her she had to be actually drinking alcohol first.  Merely talking about it won’t have the desired effect, nor will drinking lemonade or coke.  I almost shouted “Try Buckfast.  That should work.”  She was english, which explains everything.  Just one step away from being american.  (Yes, lower case ‘e’ and lower case ‘a’.)

Today’s sketch was from the Wintergarden of the People’s Palace.  Simpler and more accurate than previous ones IMO, maybe because I was sitting down enjoying my R ’n’ S while I completed it.  The trees were Celtic trees.  Green, White, Green, White, Green.  Must have been planted by a Sellic supporter!  But then, you don’t get many trees with Blue or Red leaves do you?  The mono shot of the old shop with the ‘ghost signs’ was not from the Barras, but from quite near there.

Back home to do a bit of joinery, completing the duckboard for the plants to stand on.  Actually enjoyed it and it looked reasonable when it was finished.  It could maybe do with a lick of paint or stain to finish it off, but the biggest part of the work is done now.  Helped Scamp with a bit of gentle gardening after that, but nothing creative, just labouring really.

Made some bread 50/50 white flour and dark wholegrain flour from Prince Chic’s own farm.  I imagine he planted it himself and then carefully tended it, talking to it daily before harvesting it with a scythe he’d sharpened himself then grinding it carefully in an authentic and architecturally sound windmill.  Lastly he’d transport the flour by horse and cart to Waitrose where we bought it.  He’s that kind of a guy.  The bread was good, thanks Chic.

Tomorrow is Monday so it’s Gems day.  I’ll be making a hasty exit.

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A day at the Toblerones – 22 April 2017

Not real Toblerones, just my nickname for the anti-submarine defences on the Forth at Cramond.

We walked up the path beside the River Almond past the ruins of the old mill, or should I say through the ruins because the walls are still there with archways and window spaces, but the roof is long gone.  We didn’t get much further past the dam because the path has been closed off by the council as being in a dangerous state.  Such a shame as it’s only a very short stretch of path that’s been condemned, about 3 or 4 metres really.  It appears from the maps that have been posted that beyond that it’s fine.  Anyway, that was the end of our riverside walk.  Saw a Japanese bloke on our way down the river kitted out in chest-high waders and with a fly rod.  I didn’t think he’d get anything today, then a couple of mayflies flew past, so the flies are emerging in the warm weather we’ve been having and he might have caught something after all.

We stopped for lunch at the wee cafe at the Mill House.  My lentil soup and toastie was great, but Scamp’s poached egg on avocado and sourdough bread looked a bit insipid and underdone.  She wasn’t impressed and told the owner so.  The cheese scone she received to replace the poached egg was too hard for her taste.  She really is spoilt after having tasted my scones 😉

After our aborted lunch we walked down and had a Mr Whippy ice cream each!  There were no words of dissent!  To walk them off, we strode out along the esplanade watching weans on bikes, neds on bikes, weans on scooters, dugs (not on bikes or scooters) folk in paddling!  It really is a bit early for paddling.  Yes, we did it in January, but that was in Trinidad!  Walked for about a mile or so and turned back to the car and drove home.  Lovely day, walking in the sunshine in good company.

Eventually relented and found a human in Currys and got the keyboard I wanted.  Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.  Scamp says it’s about not cutting off your nose to spite your face, or am I mixing my metaphors now?

Before we went out, I got a book delivered, a painting book.  I’d borrowed it from the library and it was worth buying.  Unfortunately, it was out of print but available for a few quid second hand.  It almost cost as much to post as to buy, but it was in almost perfect condition.  I’d consider this option in future.  Maybe I’ve just been lucky today or maybe second hand books, like second hand cameras are worth looking at.

Tomorrow?  Maybe a walk down the green to collect more steps, miles and maybe even stairs climbed.

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A Closed Shop – 16 April 2017

Not a union matter, just that every shop we tried today for a couple of tins of tomatoes was shut.

Earlier in the day, Scamp and I went out for a walk past the Mill and on out into this incredibly flat countryside under a wide blue sky.  Saw and photographed a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly and a Common Blue butterfly.  I wouldn’t mind being called Small if I was a butterfly, but I’d object to being described as Common.  Why are we so dismissive of these pretty flying insects?

It was after we returned and JIC took us off to wander round a garden centre that the problem reared its ugly head.  Sim had gone off to ride Valioso, so JIC was left to entertain us.  He did try his best, but shop after shop after supermarket after garden centre was shut.  Closed, padlocked, locked and shuttered.  It was like the end of the world.  The out of town retail parks looked so different without lights, with only a few abandoned cars and straggles of zombie looking folk.  That’s what it looked like.  It looked like the zombies were taking over.  Where’s that devil dog when you need her?

There was nothing to it but to drive back to the village and go to the corner shop which is always open, isn’t it, and buy the tins of tomatoes there.  At least we’d eat tonight.  We ate JIC’s chicken tagine which was much tastier than the one I made, although I think my Lamb Tagine would give him a run for his money.  After dinner we watched a confusing but very interesting episode of Black Mirror on Netflix.  Definitely one to search for.

Tomorrow we’ll try the garden centre again.  We may bring Vixen to dissuade the zombies.

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Flying Home, Going Home – 9 April 2017

We were going home, but unlike Yes in “Ritual: Nous Sommes Du Soleil”, we weren’t flying home, just driving, driving for just over six hours.  That said, I thought it would be good to finish this little break like it started, with a song quote.
It’s always a drag, the journey home.  It’s like flying, sailing, driving home from any holiday, you just want to be there.  When teleportation becomes viable it will immediately become the most used form of transport for coming home from holiday.

We only stopped twice.  Once at a wee cafe in Spean Bridge.  I don’t know what it’s called but it wouldn’t be hard to spot, it’s the only cafe in the town as far as I can see.  It used to be a Little Chef, but re-opened as, what looks looks like a family run cafe.  It’s a great place to stop coming back from Skye because it’s roughly half distance.
The other stop was at Balachullish to stretch my legs and check the tyres when I accidentally bumped the kerb.  Legs were stretched, tyres were deemed ok and the above photo was taken.  On with the journey.

Once back on the road it was a straight run home with very light traffic.  Weather was dry for the most part with just a couple of light showers, not the downpours that were predicted.  Jackie did send a text to say that it was pouring in Skye.  So for once, we brought the dry weather to Skye and took it away with us!  Murd will not admit that.

So, after 761.3 miles and 17.8 gallons of petrol, we were back where we started.  Thank you Jackie and Murd for the hospitality (and the mince ‘n’ tatties and the ‘wee’ drams).  Thanks Mairi for the entertaining stories and for being a foodie in the making.  Nice to see Jaki again, even if it was just for a few minutes.  We’ll be back DV.