E3231962- blog

Feeling Refreshed – 23 March 2018

Scamp was going out for coffee with Shona, so I had all morning to swear at the Toshiba or to do some painting.

I chose painting, but there was no gesso. Gesso is a thick, sometimes textured base coat you put on the card, canvas or wood you’re going to paint on with oils or acrylic. It can almost be replaced with acrylic paint or even emulsion paint these days. I chose acrylic and slapped a muddy brown layer on both sides of the card, then hung the card up to dry. That was about 10am. I think it’s still damp tonight at 11.25pm. So, it was back to swearing at the Tosh.

Actually there was very little swearing involved because I’d found an obscure website where one member claimed that it was possible to ‘refresh’ Windows 10 without losing any data or apps. Everyone else said it was impossible. I like a challenge, so I followed the blokes instructions, downloaded the ‘media creation tool’ from the Mickysoft site which took about an hour and a half, unpacked it and found I needed an 8gb memory stick. I didn’t have one that size that wasn’t being used so as it was lunchtime I called a halt to the computer nonsense and Scamp and I had lunch.

Set off to Sunny Coatbridge to see if I could get my hands on a Linx 12×64, because according to the Currys website, they had them in stock. I wandered round the lovely, selection of laptops. Some too big 17”. Some too small 10”. None just right 12”. So, feeling a bit like Goldilocks I went looking for an assistant who wasn’t checking his Facebook status to ask if they had the elusive Linx. The bloke I asked didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, but thankfully the youngster beside him who was just putting his phone away said he thought the had run out of them, but he’d check. He did and they had one left in the store, but it was in a box and he couldn’t open it. Bummer. But at least they had them. Maybe Stirling would have one, but that would be another day. Got a cheap memory stick and left.

Drove up to a dead end road at the back of Cumbersheugh Airport that cuts across the Antonine Wall and that’s where I got PoD. Looking North across Banknock, not to be confused with Bangkok. Sounds similar, different planet!

Came home via The Works to get some gesso, so over the weekend, I can paint, if not a masterpiece, at least something to take my mind of the failure of this wee drive to refresh my old PC laptop.

What a surprise! It took about five hours, but at the end of that I have a working Window’s 10 laptop. The ‘media creation tool’ and the memory stick did their work flawlessly. Not only that, the re-install did not touch any of my apps. Fantastic. Give that man on the obscure website a coconut. The laptop will still need to be reset properly and securely before I trade it in, but that was a ‘Wee Challenge’ that worked out well.

Speaking about coconuts, Scamp made Coconut and Fish Curry for dinner and it was really, really nice. Didn’t sound nice, I know, but it worked so well. The flavours blended beautifully.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for a sunny day for someone’s birthday and a trip down to Troon for lunch.

E3231962- blog

Another Good Day – 20 March 2018

And I quote:

“Tomorrow, if it works out as the weather man says, will be another good day with more sunshine, temperatures scraping under double digits and light winds again. Scamp wants to go into the garden. I might get my bike out.”

Well, it did turn out as the weather man said.
– It was another good day with sunshine.
– Temperatures in the sun were probably scraping the double digits.
– The winds were light
– Scamp did go into the garden
– I DID take my bike out

Scamp started clearing up the front garden in the morning, the back garden is still under permafrost. I cleared the snow off the back step, finding the mat in the process. I then attacked the ice with a spade, but gave up when I got to the stuff that was welded securely to the concrete and resorted to a chemical attack. Instead of Novichok, I used table salt which melted the ice really quickly. Meanwhile Scamp was trying to eradicate an influx of tiny white maggots from one of her containers. She eventually gave up, washed the offending plants and dumped the compost in the brown bin (garden waste). Then she tidied up the front of the window area to let the daffodils have some air and light. The garden looked so much better after that.

The coffee I’d ordered from the Bean Shop in Perth arrived just in time for lunch and after sampling some, I got dressed to go out on my bike. Glorious day if you were in the sun, quite cool in the shade. Cycled to the old tip and that’s where I got today’s PoD which is the Kirkintilloch Volcano. One day I will climb the Kirkintilloch Volcano and sit like this person did, just enjoying the view. There, that’s a challenge for this year.  I also got a photo of a newt.  Not great or crested, but a newt.  I’ve never seen one in St Mo’s and this is the first one I’ve seen for years.  Stood and watched the trains go by and listened to the silence, if you know what I mean.  It was simply wonderful to be out in the air without that cold wind dragging you down.  Maybe spring is just round the corner.  Glad I took advantage of today because the weatherwoman says it’s going to rain tomorrow. Worse still, Wunderground says it’s going to rain tomorrow and I trust Wunderground more than I trust the weatherwoman, Kawser Quamer.

Made chilli for dinner while Scamp had Rats which is her shorthand for Ratatouille.

Tomorrow is Dancing, Dancing, Dancing day we hope because we missed it last week.

E3231962- blog

We went for the messages – 9 February 2018

Today we drove to Stirling to get the messages1. For a wee surprise, Scamp drove. It was great to just sit there and watch the scenery whizz past the window. It was a cold day and seemed to get colder as afternoon approached. We walked into Stirling form Waitrose where the ‘messages’ are. I’d hoped to go to Nero for a coffee and lunch, but Scamp had other ideas. She wanted to go and get the messages before they were all sold to other undeserving Stirling folk. So that is what we did. Scamp was the driver today so she was in charge. I was the passenger, just along to carry the messages.

I remember that on Fridays, it was ‘messages night’ back in Larky. I’d go down to the Co-op with my mum to bring the messages back home. I had a ‘barra’ (a barrow) made from an old wooden (they were all wooden in the old days) beer crate and a pair of pram wheels with wooden shafts fixed to the crate to push it. I remember being so proud that I could save my mum the work of carrying the messages the hundred yards or so up Wellgate Street to the house, because I had a ‘barra’.

We didn’t have a barra today, we just transferred the messages from the shopping trolley to the car boot then we went and had coffee and a bite to eat for lunch. After that, Scamp drove us home and all in bright sunshine, but by now, as I said earlier, it was getting cold.

When we got home I managed a quick walk round the pond at St Mo’s and that’s where today’s PoD came from. No sketch today, I’m heading for bed now because I’m still suffering the after-effects from yesterday although that was really an after-effect from too much dancin’ on Wednesday.

No dancin’ tomorrow, but maybe some on Sunday. Tomorrow we go for a walk in the park. Oh, yes, and I’ll fake a sketch for today!

  1. Messages is another word for shopping. 
E3231962- blog

Dull, dull, rain, dull – 3 February 2018

It was one of those days. According to the weather fairy it was going to improve in the afternoon. Perhaps she needs to revisit the dictionary of the meaning of ‘improve’.

We had decide to drive to The Smiddy near Blair Drummond for lunch and the possibility of a couple of photos, if not a sketch when the weather improved later in the afternoon. We drove through the increasingly heavy rain to get there and just a we were turning in to the restaurant/cafe the rain eased, just as they said it would. Away to the north west the sky was definitely clearing and there was the hint of blue sky there. Lunch was a Smiddy Burger for me and macaroni and cheese for Scamp. Both served with skin-on chips. The chips were oily and delicious, I knew I shouldn’t eat them all, but I just kept going until they were finished – so did Scamp. The macaroni seemed to go down well too. The too-thin burger was covered with melted cheese, bacon and mayo. Not a good choice and not one to put your name to, in my opinion. Last week I paid the same money for a nice thick home-made tasting burger in Scott’s in Troon. This was nothing like it. However, one bitten twice shy. In fact I wish I hadn’t bitten at all.

By the time we were coming out, the blue sky had gone, the sky had given up on the clearing and was returning to milky white. So much so that it looked like the colour had been drawn out of the landscape. I did grab a few pictures, but not many. You can see the best of them up at the top.

The rain kept up all the way home. I couldn’t be bothered going out to St Mo’s because I didn’t think I was going to get any more interesting images there. Instead, I started writing new Hazel code to organise my Documents folder on the iMac. It’s halfway implemented and it’s doing a fairly decent job of making a more logical filing system for the PDF files.

Today’s sketch for 28 Drawings Later is a half peeled orange. I quite like it. Sketched with the Blackwing soft pencil Hazy & ND’A gave me for Christmas and painted with Cotman watercolours on a cheap cartridge paper. It really deserves a better support, but I like the ‘tooth’ of the Tiger cartridge paper.


Watched the final program in the BBC series ‘Surgeons: At the edge of life’. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. If you think your own job is stressful, watch these people and admire the work they do. Totally engrossing and leaves you wondering how a person can do that sort of thing day after day.

Tomorrow? It just might be better than today, but I’m not convinced. Probably dancing for part of the day.

E3231962- blog

A morning at the gee-gees – 2 February 2018

This morning broke early, too early say some, namely me.

The taxi phone didn’t ring until almost midnight last night. Apparently they were having such a good time … That meant that by the time I drove to the other side of town, picked up Scamp and Marge, dropped Marge off, returned home with Scamp and finally parked the car, it was almost 1am before I was staggering off to bed. So, when my Fitbit alarm vibrated on my wrist this morning at 8.30 it was a struggle to climb up through the layers of sleep to see the day. The up side was it was a beautiful day.

After breakfast, Scamp suggested we go to visit the Kelpies at Falkirk. That seemed like a great idea. It would get us out, give us a breath of fresh air and we wouldn’t visit any shops in the process. Besides which, the Kelpies always brighten your day no matter what mood you are in.

We arrived and walked round them, always finding something new. Some little thing or a different viewpoint. Today, my PoD was the dribbling Kelpie. Just a lamp standard on the motorway and a carefully chosen VP.

A cup of coffee and a scone each was lunch and then we drove home. Scamp was going out to meet ‘The Witches’ in the afternoon and I used that time to finish off my fourth painting of trees. Maybe the last one in the series, I’m all treed out now I think. Looking for new pastures. It was overpainted twice today and that’s on top of another two layers. One of the good things about corrugated cardboard is its strength. I put that strength to good use. If you’re looking for it, it’s here and it’s 28DL – No 2:

Four Trees

Dinner tonight was a pizza, home made and baked in the new combination microwave. Not ‘nuked’ but baked in the Convection oven. Just under 10 minutes then crisped up the base in the frying pan (no oil!). Washed down with a couple of glasses of Malbec. Hopefully getting this written earlier than normal to get to bed earlier and make up for lost sleep.

Tomorrow looks wet, so we may go to The Smiddy for lunch.

E3231962- blog

Out for a Spin – 26 January 2018

Today we went to the seaside.

We had decided that if the weather was kind to us we’d go out west and head for Troon. We walked in blinding sunshine along the beach for a mile or so with all the dog walkers and their assorted dogs. The sea was well out today, the tide must have been at its lowest point. Although the sun was low and very bright, it was cold but for once there was no wind. I think Scamp would have walked further, but I called a halt after about an hour and we turned and made our way back the same way we’d come. Scamp said it was just like being on the treadmill at the gym. I think that’s the wrong way round. Surely the gym imitates life, not the other way round. Anyway, I’ve still to see this marvellous video attraction. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try it out next week and not have to tap the sand out of my trainers afterwards.

Lunch was in Scotts which is becoming a firm favourite. Every time we go there it’s like being in the Crews Inn at Chaguaramas in Trinidad. The temperature is a bit different and the distant scenery is too, but the boats in the marina and the general layout of the place remind us both of a wonderful lunch and the most alcoholic sangria I’ve ever tasted. No alcohol today because I was driving, but Erdinger’s Alcohol Free ‘beer’ is now top of the list for a beer flavoured drink. Food was Chicken Stroganoff followed by Seasonal Fruit Crumble for Scamp and a Beef Burger followed by Key Lime Pie for me. The whole thing rounded off with coffee and the shortest shortbread I’ve had in a long time. Lovely! Service could have been a bit quicker, but otherwise it was excellent. We both agreed it was a great day out at the seaside.

PoD was the red boat passing Arran, although it was a tough call between that and the people silhouetted on the beach. The bottle was just a fun grab shot for a Flickr group called One Bottle.

Tonight we made the decision and we are going on a cruise in the summer. Not a balcony cabin, but an Ocean View. Next best thing. Booked and deposit paid.

Tomorrow? It looks like rain, so we may be going more local than today. It all depends on the weather. How many times do I end a blog with that?

E3231962- blog

Fog – 11 January 2018

We had considered two options for today. Go to Perth or go to lunch. Lunch won.

It was foggy when I woke around 5.15 this morning. I went back to bed and when I finally broke the bounds of sleep the fog had gone. However, about half an hour later it started to sneak back around us again. We decided to go to lunch and defer the Perth trip until the weekend.

We went to the Cotton House in Longcroft and saw almost no fog, in fact there was blue sky up there. The Cotton House a Chinese and Thai restaurant and we always have the same main: Chicken Chow Mein. It’s only our starters that change.

After lunch we drove in to Dunipace and then up the Carron Valley road then over on to the Tak Ma Doon road and just had to stop because although there had been no fog all the way on the climb to the hilltop, there in front of us was a sea of fog stretching right across the valley. It was thickest over Glasgow to the right (west) and thinned out over to Grangemouth and the Forth Bridges on the left (east). This had to be PoD. I got about twenty shots of the scene before we drove down the other side and into that sea of fog. The view from the top of the hill reminded me of the fog we saw from the top of Box Hill when we were visiting H&N away back in 2007!!! Can it really be that long ago? The EXIF data rarely lies.

When I started to process the shots, that’s when the work really started. Contrast was very low and it took me quite some time to tease out the details in the images without increasing the digital noise too much. You can see the three best images above. Final decision was that bottom left was PoD.

One last thing before I close and it’s for you JIC. Have a look at this shot I saw on Flickr tonight (I don’t think it will mean much to you Hazy):

Outside Newton Stewart

If you click on it you can read the description and my comment and it will all become clear. That should take you back about forty years! It did for me.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Val, Fred and Colin. Looking forward to it.

E3231962- blog

Chasing the Sunset – 9 January 2018

A bit of a nothing day. Not a lot to report other than the frost had all melted by about 10.30 this morning, but it was dull.

Finished off The Book of Dust. “A good read. A bit Boys Own Paper with some sweaty words”, sums it up for me.

Finally got round to posting the last calendar, JIC. Should slide through your letterbox in a day or two. Printed out another two last night and that will be the end of the calendar print for another year, unless I go the whole hog and print one for myself. Unlikely.

Driving back from Tesco I say the sky turn a golden pink colour from an already setting sun. It was just after 3pm, but that’s about the extent of the daylight at this time of the year up north. Drove round trying to find a suitable foreground for the sunset, but couldn’t find one. Eventually gave in and took a shot from behind Moodiesburn looking towards Muirhead. The resulting image that loaded into Lightroom wasn’t really what I saw, so I changed it a wee bit, and that’s what you see above as PoD.

Hazy, I had a problem with WordPress last night. The editing was restricted to text input and no Visual option was available. I got the blog written and posted, but knew this was some kind of screw-up. Slept on it and this morning investigated and found it could be caused by an update of themes and plugins. Since I’d upgraded both the theme and a few plugins yesterday morning, I suspected that was the culprit. So, this afternoon I deactivated all the plugins and tested with a new post. Yes, the input screen was normal with the text and visual tabs available again. Long story short, I found the culprit to be the upgraded Wordrpress(!) Markdown plugin. I’ve deactivated it and activated all the rest, then found another Markdown plugin that did the same job without the side effects. I hope you’re impressed, and thankful that I didn’t just automatically phone the ‘helpline’. I’m guessing you would have told me to do exactly what I found on the ‘net.

That about sums up the day. Dull and dank, but with a reasonable sunset thanks to Lightroom and Picktorial. A sort of Software Sunset.

Don’t have any plans for tomorrow. May take a trip to Perf, or may leave that until Thursday.

E3231962- blog

Dancin’ – 7 January 2018

It was a late start today. I hadn’t meant to sleep so long, but there are no alarms on weekends.

I spent the morning parcelling up the calendars for Dorothy and my friend Peter. I also took some time writing notes for the parcels. It was only after I’d written the address on the last envelope that I checked and found that the post office was closed on a Sunday. Oh well, they wouldn’t be uplifted until tomorrow anyway. I’ll post them tomorrow with a bit of luck.

After lunch which traditionally is a fried breakfast on a Sunday I almost managed to get Scamp to come out a walk with me, but she’d been outside and knew just how cold it was, so she decided she’d rather do some ironing than face the great outdoors. I needed a PoD and I don’t do ironing very well, so I got dressed for the arctic and drove down to Auchinstarry then walked halfway along the canal which was frozen right across and took some photos from the only seat on the path for miles. Walked back, across the plantation and from there back to the car. Not quite my 10,000 steps, but at least I was out in the fresh air. Cold fresh air to be precise. I don’t think the temperature got above zero all day.

Just had time to dump the photos in the Mac and tweak some before it was time for the big event of the day, Dancin’. Drove in to Glasgow and got parked less than 100m from Arta. Inside it was fairly busy even if it was quite early. I don’t know what they had done to the floor, but it was lethally slippy. Almost took a tumble a few times and wished I’d worn my trainers instead of my shoes with the no-grip soles. Still, it was a good night with lots of firm handshakes (only one ‘funny’ one) and lots of ’mwah’ kisses, everyone coming with a ‘Happy New Year’. That’s what I like most about the salsa community. Its friendliness.

Home to the remains of last week’s steak stew dinner reheated and none the worse for it. Also the last G ’n’ T until Friday. An extra cold one as Scamp had left the tonic in her car in today’s sub-zero temperatures. The abstemiousness starts here. Oh by the way, when I was walking back into the house after retrieving the tonic, my watch vibrated to signal that I’d completed today’s 10,000 steps. Must have been all that sliding across the dance floor!

E3231962- blog

The highlight of the day – 4 January 2018

The highlight of today was taking the cardboard boxes and the bottles to the recycling centre. Yes, it was that sort of day.

In the morning I made that drive to the recycling centre. It would have been easier if we had been supplied with a green bin (for glass) back in October when we were promised it, but we weren’t, so we had to load the car up and drive there. Everyone else was there too, but I had a smashing time dropping bottles into the big containers and listening to the crashing sounds they made.

After that, and after deciding what we’d have for dinner, we had lunch. Then we went to Tesco. Scamp drove and we filled the car with all the stuff we needed for the next few days, mainly food. When we got back I found some stew in the freezer and set it to defrost while I grabbed a last hour of daylight in St Mo’s. That’s where I got today’s PoD which is an ultra wide-angle view of the pond and the boardwalk. It’s just an ordinary pond, but the ultra-wide makes it look like something special I think.

All the time we’d been checking on H&N’s second leg of their journey home. They were leaving the relative calm of the midlands and heading for the stormy zone around London, but we soon got the message that they were home and the cats had been collected and they too were home.

Dinner for me was stewed steak with potatoes, turnip and carrots. Substitute haggis for stewed steak and you have Scamp’s dinner. My thanks to Scamp for the clear and concise instruction on how to cook the stew without burning but with added flavour. Next time I’ll try to fly solo.

So, the highlight of the day really was smashing the bottles in the recycling bin. A close second was finding that the stew was beautifully tender and tasty. It was also good to know that H&N arrived home safely.

Tomorrow we may go to the gym or to the pool for a swim. Also, the other pair leave Tobago and the sun to face the long flight home. Glad you got a few dry, windy, sunny days after all that rain.