15 Dec

Coffee – 15 December 2017

Today I was going for coffee, but not with the usual company.

The Campsie Fells enticed me to do a wee watercolour. It’s the snow that makes the hills so interesting. It smooths the shape, levelling everything out, but at the same time it enhances the ravines that cut their way down the slopes. Thankfully the snow didn’t quite reach us, because although it’s nice to look at, to paint and to photograph, it’s not so great to fight your way through.

By the time it was finished, it was time to drive to the town centre for coffee with Shona and Scamp. Usually I have no problems getting parked in Tesco car park, but today it was chock a block. No room at the inn and non in Tesco car park either. The only solution was to park in the main center car park, across the dual carriageway. I spotted a few spaces in the far away area of the car park and headed there. Then I found the reason for those empty parking spaces. None of the roads or pedestrian areas had been gritted or cleared of snow. Three days of thawing during the day and freezing at night had made the paths un-walkable. Where the snow and ice had melted and re-frozen, the suface was like a sheet of glass. Worse, it was like a sheet of glass with water running over it. Not good for walking on, but the company who own the town centre don’t care. They seem to think that having provided a car park, they don’t need to maintain it as well. Dobbers.

Had coffee with Shona and Scamp then gave Shona run home. I was surprised at the amount of snow still lying where she lives. We have no lying snow and we live only about two miles from Shona.

When I came home, the weather looked good and I reckoned I would manage an hour of decent light, so it was boots on and grab a camera time. The paths here are just as bad as those up at the town centre and the bin that was half full of salt grit last week was now lying empty. It won’t be filled again until next autumn. Saw a couple of deer in the woods of St Mo’s and managed to get a clear shot of one of them. The hills that had impressed me were turning pink as I climbed the mound at the end of the forest. I took a series of shots at varying zoom settings. What you see above was my favourite and became PoD.

Scamp sensibly decided to forego the delights of the choir carol concert tonight as the temperature dropped down to just above zero again. I think that was the right decision.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow in the morning to get the pain over with early!

15 Dec

Ice is not nice – 14 December 2017

An icy morning. Jac’s taxi didn’t come, so I volunteered to drive her to the station.

It wasn’t all that cold, but it had snowed during the night and the snow had melted, then frozen again and now that ice was melting, on the surface at least and that meant it was treacherous. The Juke performed perfectly, I couldn’t fault it. Unfortunately there was a queue of traffic heading along towards St Mo’s taking the children who can’t walk if it’s cold, or windy, or wet, or dry, or too hot, or too tired, or .. well, you get the picture. I turned at the roundabout and took the longer, but much quicker way round the back of Blackwood and then through the new estates to the station. Got there with plenty of time for Jac to catch the train (the next train, that is). Came home the same way because, although the queue was shorter, it was still there and resolutely not moving. Walked back from the car and that was when I found out just how slippery the surface was. Slid all the way down the short slope to the house. Didn’t fall, luckily, but Scamp decided it would help other folk if I spread some chippings on the path. Such a simple solution and it worked.

After lunch Scamp parceled up the Christmas parcels for JIC and Sim and I took them to be posted at Tesco. Got that completed and stopped off at St Mo’s to take some foties. Liked the shot through the trees also liked the shot of the swan attempting a tricky landing on ice, but decided the trees won PoD. The rest were good, but not great. I was better prepared for the ice this time with a pair of walking boots, real ones, not Clarks flashy looking, but ultimately useless Goretex ones. The ice was melting in the areas the late sun was reaching, but as I was leaving I could see thin icy fingers stretching out across the puddles. (Oh dear, I came over all ‘Nigella’ there!)

Later in the afternoon I finished last week’s Zentangle doodle. I thought these things were beneath me, but they are more difficult than they look. You need a good eye and a steady hand to produce the accurate linework.

That was about it for the day. The highlight of the day was going to Tesco. Some days are like that.

Tomorrow, I may be joining Scamp for a coffee with Shona!

15 Dec

Under the Bridges – 9 December 2017

So, what of the day then? Well, it was cold when we woke this morning, sub-zero in fact.

We’d half intended to go to Embra, but as we both slept a little longer than we’d intended and as we then read a little longer than we’d intended, it was really too late to go to ‘Auld Reekie’ today. Instead we decided to go to South Queensferry. It’s a great place on a cold, bright, clear day and today fulfilled those specifications perfectly. Surprisingly, we found a parking place right away and then when we walked through the main car park we found there were lots of spaces. After yesterday’s experience, I guessed that everyone was in Embra or Glasgow today, frantically searching for just the right gift for someone. Maybe someone they don’t particularly like, while that other person is also searching for something someone else won’t like Both of these ‘gifts’ will soon find themselves in the council tip or in a charity shop. The recipients will be ultimately disappointed and the buyers will be out of pocket. The only winners from Xmas are the shops. Will I be taking part. Of course I will, because that’s part of the game, isn’t it?  We walked under the old bridge and that’s where most of the photos came from.  PoD was of the pillars, top right.

There were a lot of Asian tourists here. Maybe they were on a visiting cruise ship, or maybe it was just the one family and we just kept meeting different groups of them. We seemed to bump into them a few times as we walked along under the railway bridge. After that, we walked through the town of South Queensferry and Scamp remembered us sitting outside in a pub courtyard in warmer days, and as it was a pub courtyard, and there would be beer involved, it must have been a few years ago in more relaxed times. She also liked the way spaces in the lines of shops had been used to provide windows on the Forth and the bridge, the old bridge, the real Forth Bridge. She’s developing a good eye, is Scamp.

I think Scamp was really set on having lunch in the Italian restaurant we’ve been to a few times in Queensferry, but when we passed a second time, it was empty. An empty restaurant is not a good sign, so she made the decision to go to a busy one we’d passed. The fact that it had big picture windows was not a factor, honest. We had burgers for lunch. Chicken for Scamp and beef for me. Both lovely. I even had a Becks Blue with 0.05% alcohol, while Scamp had a latte. The only drawback was that the picture windows on to the main street had the low, bright sun shining straight in my eyes. I eventually gave in and allowed Scamp to move round the table so that I could sit with my back to the sun. The bonus was that we could both watch the tiny wee trains passing over the Forth Bridge.

Paid for lunch, walked back to the car and drove home. Took a wrong turning on the way and got the sat nav to help us out of our difficulty. It took us down a single track road, round a very posh looking farm conversion and then back along the single track onto the main road, then got us onto the M8/M9 perfectly with ease. I presume the detour round the posh houses was its version of ‘perform a U-turn when possible.’

 

Still cold tonight with the threat of snow. So, as to what we’re doing tomorrow, as Scamp says, it all depends on the weather.

15 Dec

Perf – 21 November 2017

Today we thought we’d go to Perf or to give it its proper name Perth.

Now we had to decide whether to:

  • Train (costs £20 have to chance getting a space in Croy station carpark and have to change trains at a cold platform in Stirling, going and coming.)

  • Bus (Free, but then we’ve got to wait in the cold at Castle Greyskull AKA Cumbersheugh town centre and there’s only one bus an hour back from Perf, except when you actually want to come home and then there’s none that hour. How do they know when I want to come home?)

  • Drive (Petrol costs, not very relaxing and the weather is going to be tricky, but we can come home when we want and it’s comfortable – no hanging about waiting for public transport.)

No contest, we’re driving.

We were just getting ready to go when the big yellow cooncil lorry arrived and two blokes carted the three seater settee away in it. Good, one down, one to go. The weather was just miserable leaving Cumbersheugh, but it gradually got worse as we climbed up the A9 towards Perth. On the high level parts of the road we were essentially in the clouds and it felt like it with poor visibility, although a few drivers of small builders’ lorries apparently had radar fitted which allowed them to see further ahead than most of us. The benefit of this is that they didn’t have to use lights at all. Brilliant. I must look into this innovation in driving safety.

Arrived in Perth and it was simply dreich and dismal. Coffee first, then a wander round the shops. For me that meant the Waterstones and Oxfam bookshops. Got a couple of books in the Oxfam shop, but everything in Waterstones was at Christmas prices, so no good deals there. Next we went to get coffee and tea, the main reason for going to Perth in the first place. Couldn’t decide where to go for lunch and finally settled on The George for Fish & Chips with breaded haddock instead of battered. That done we walked back to the car which was at the other end of the town and got a pleasant surprise. The ticket machine was out of order at the booth, so the bloke told us we would only be charged a quid instead of the four quid we expected. Result!

Drove back down the road in worsening conditions after a quick fruitless visit to Morrisons to see if they had any St Peter’s Plum Porter – they didn’t. It wasn’t really fruitless, we did get some Russet apples, so we got some fruit!

Managed a few photos with the Teazer. PoD was the statue in the main street in Perth with his trendy Christmas scarf.

Also managed a watercolour painting from a photo taken at The Smiddy on Saturday

Tomorrow we’ve got nothing planned. May or may not go to Salsa as it’s only one beginners class, but the likelihood is that we’ll go.

15 Dec

Brie, Apple & Honey again – 16 November 2017

A cold clear start to the day. Blue sky and sunny, but low temperatures.

I suppose I should have gone out early to get some photos, but I didn’t and by the time we were heading out, the clouds were gathering. We drove to Clachan of Campsie, not to Wheelcraft, but to the gallery tearoom and that’s where I got my second brie, apple and honey sandwiches. If you’ve not tried it, you are really missing out. I’ve tried it on brown bread and on white now and I think brown is the winner. Last time I had it in the gallery the apple was sliced micro thin. This time they were in big chunks. I think big chunks suit the rustic theme here. Sorry, got a bit cheffy there 😉

Got caught by the rain on the way home. We were just in Torrance, so it’s true that “Down came the rain in Torrance” – Gospel Chorus. Then as we were almost home on the motorway, the rain was still falling but the sun was shining from a bright blue sky! It’s Scotland, you expect that sort of thing!

When we arrived home I did go out for an hour or so to get PoD which might look quite good, but that’s only thanks to the adjustment brush and the graduated filters that brought some life to the sky. Still, it was worth it to see the final result.

Drove in to Glasgow tonight to help out at yet another beginners class, this time in Barca.  It was a good laugh and I think we both enjoyed it.  Didn’t enjoy the walk back to the car though.  Too many wideos and jakies hanging around Glasgow at that time of night.  However, it did increase our step-count for the day.

Tomorrow is coffee with Val. The rest of the day will revolve around that.

15 Dec

Up the Tak Ma Doon – 4 November 2017

After a couple of early rises and stravaigin’ days, it was time for a lazy start and a short run in the Juke.

It was a lovely morning and it seemed a shame to waste it on a long run, so we drove to Stirling over the Tak Ma Doon road. It’s the first time the Juke has been up it and although it’s only about 3 miles long, in that 3 miles it reputedly climbs nearly 1,000 feet. That’s just over 300 metres. Given that almost half those 3 miles is on a gentle climb, the other mile and a half is the demanding part with a few climbs over 16%, ending in a 19% incline. A good test for the Juke. It did ok in Normal mode, but baulked a bit at that last climb. Not as good as the old Megane. It cruised up most of the way with a need for 2nd gear near the summit. The Juke needed 1st for the final assault. Disappointing, but then am I really comparing apples with apples when I’m judging a 1.6 litre against a 1.3 turbo? Perhaps not. Next time I’ll use Sport mode and see how the Juke performs then.

The real reason for taking the Tak Ma Doon road was to get some photos on the other side of the Campsies, on the run down into Stirling. There’s a gate halfway down that road with a draw-in beside it where the sky simply takes over. It’s near Loch Coulter and looking over to Muirpark Farm. That’s where I has heading for. I missed the first bit of good light, but took some photos of the twists and turns of the road over the hill we’d just climbed in the Juke. As I was framing up the farmhouse, a rain shower started, an then a rainbow appeared. It just grew and grew until it became the full bow, starting at the farmhouse and ending on the road away towards Stirling. I got as many shots as I could before it disintegrated. Like I said on Flickr, I could have faked it using Photoshop, but it was so much nicer to just shoot it first hand.  The rain shower didn’t last and with a few shots in the bag, we drove on under a blue sky to Stirling.

Neither of us really wanted any lunch, so we just had a coffee  in Nero and watched hoards of Asian tourists, presumably from a bus tour, taking hundreds of selfies and photographs of groups of their friends in Stirling main street.  We’ve all been strangers in a strange land sometimes.  After coffee and a bite to eat we headed for home.  I’m guessing they did too.

Tonight we went to see the fireworks at St Mo’s. A strange place to have a fireworks show, in a school grounds, but I suppose there’s plenty of parking there and easy access for the fire brigade if the need arises! It didn’t arise, but the fire engine did pass us a couple of times. Quite a spectacular show, lasting just about the predicted half an hour. Such a waste of money though. I always feel it could be better spent than on pyrotechnics. That said, it’s better spent on a fireworks show than on a councillors Christmas junket.

It was the monochrome photo of the road and the trees that got PoD today.

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks good. May take the bike out of retirement for a run.

15 Dec

Summer’s End – 29 October 2017

Early this morning, the clocks went back, so we got an extra hour in bed.

It was a lovely morning, with sun streaming in through the windows, but it was really cold and tonight it is forecast to get even colder. It would have been a shame to stay in bed with all that sunshine outside, so we got up and went for a walk. Not Glasgow for a change, and not me driving either, but Scamp driving us to Colzium for a walk through the trees and round the gardens. It’s ages since we walked round Colzium.

It was the Acers that grabbed our attention. Stunning reds and yellows. No dull greens here, and with a bit of back lighting they looked even better. I even had a willing model who suggested she sit on a seat to be framed by the red acers. I got my shots and we walked on. I thought it was a much longer walk than it was. Even our convoluted figure-of-eight seemed easy by comparison with our longer walks along the canal. Having said that, the colours in the trees were wonderful, and only ten minuted from the house. However, it was cold!

Came home and the best of the day was past. The sky clouded over a bit, but not enough to cause the temperature to rise significantly. Scamp washed her car, I went to Tesco for milk and basically that was it!

PoD is the red acer (without the model) and the sketch was done from an old photo of Castle Stalker.

Tomorrow is a Monday. Not time to think on a Monday.

 

15 Dec

A visit to the Toblerones – 25 October 2017

Today we went to visit the Toblerones.

They’re not real Toblerones, by the way. They are gigantic triangular shaped concrete blocks planted in channel between Cramond Island and Cramond shore, built during WW2 as an anti-submarine defence.  You can just see them in the bottom photo.

We parked in the new parking place on Marine Drive and went for a walk along the front in a ‘bracing breeze’. In other words, a gale. Watched other folk walking their dogs on the beach. Saw one bloke with his dog on what must have been a 50 foot leash, I kid you not! Then he looped it round his waist to save him from actually holding it to keep the dog in check. What a monkey. Some folk shouldn’t be allowed to keep dogs. Some dogs should have more sense and should run away. Maybe it did and that’s why it’s on a 50 foot leash, trying desperately to retrieve a ball that’s 51 feet away.

We had brought a packed lunch today and I was happy to get out of that cold wind (the wind is always cold over in the east coast) and have that and a cup of coffee to heat me up.

Drove back in the huff when Scamp decided to switch the sat nav off. She thought I was finished with it. Even the radio wouldn’t work. DAB radios are fine when you’re in a town or city. When your out by Kirk o’ Shotts they are useless. Finally found the FM band on the radio tonight. Such a relief to not have your reception cut out when you’re in a hollow.

Rangers were playing at Ibrox tonight and rabid ‘Gers supporters were out in their thousands, all of them on the M8. Scamp suggested that we take her short-cut through the town when we were going to the Salsa class, and proved that the human sat nav is way, way better than the Nissan one. I was impressed, but tried not to show it, because that would make her big headed. Salsa was much better this week than last. Still exhausting, but at least I got most of the moves right.

Today’s Pod is daisies at Cramond and the sketch for today is of the other kind of Toblerones 😉

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Fred and maybe a trip into the toon – solo!

15 Dec

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.

15 Dec

Today I became a Windows Hater – 14 October 2017

The day started well. The wee tickle in the back of my throat had gone. Partly this was due to me taking a fairly big slug of Benylin and partly due to me taking an extra dose of vitamin C tablets with some honey, both just before I went to bed. I don’t know if the Benylin helped with the cough, but it did certainly get me to sleep double quick and I had the longest and best sleep I’ve had in weeks.

That was the good news. The weather outside was grim. When I woke it was light and there was just the hint of some sun, but that gradually faded to the usual grey. We couldn’t decide what to do and I think we were both waiting for the weather to improve. It didn’t and as we had nowhere we needed to be and nothing we needed to do, we went out of a run to that awkwardly named Chatelherault. Thank goodness for Ctrl V. Scamp chose the top route this time and I suggested we walk to the Green Bridge. It’s many, many years since I’ve been to the Green Bridge at Maryhoses. Unfortunately, we hadn’t brought the walking poles with us and the path down the hill to the river was really steep and slippery with muck. Scamp decided she wasn’t going to risk it and I agreed, so we walked back along the path to Chatelherault and had coffee and a pineapple cake (pure indulgence) for our efforts.

I got a couple of photos at Chatelherault and then we came home.

I’ve got a 2TB desktop HD. It’s got two partitions (Don’t worry. Not too much technospeak) Tonight I planned to use the PC to copy files from one partition to the other to free up space to make a backup drive for the iMac. I set the PC to copy the 300GB of photos (copies, of course). It reported that it would take about 4 hours. That was ok, I used a program that would allow ‘unattended copying’. To do that you just specify what to do on certain occasions and the program does the rest. No problem then? After about two hours I went to check how it was progressing, only to find that Windows 10 had installed an update and restarted the machine, halting the copying and switching off the drive in the process. The upshot is that the drive is now unreadable. I read so many tirades on the net about Windows being unmanageable these days since Windows 10 has taken over, but until tonight I didn’t really believe them. I do now. The iMac may have cost a lot of money and I know that Apple too has its flaws, but tonight’s escapade was pure vandalism by a company that expects us to trust them. I am now a fully paid up Windows Hater.

Tonight’s sketch is of riverside apartments beside the River Clyde at Glasgow Green. It was done from a photo, but that’s ok by me. It’s done and on time.

I’m going to bed now to prevent me from having another rant about Windows fuckin’ Updates.