DSC_8883- 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.

DSC_8883- 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.

<Technospeak>
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.
</Technospeak>

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.

DSC_8883- 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!

DSC_8883- 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.

DSC_8883- blog

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!

DSC_8883- blog

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!

DSC_8883- blog

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.

DSC_8883- blog

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.

DSC_8883- blog

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.

DSC_8883- blog

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.