An improving situation – 8 November 2018

Today was indeed a better day than yesterday.

Went with Scamp to buy provisions for tomorrow’s dinner with Crawford & Nancy. I say “Went with Scamp” because she was driving. It was good to look out at the world zipping past the side window. It seems as if they’re putting the roof on the shops in the new retail park already. Once the roof is on and the walls are up, they are good, fitting out the insides. While Scamp was in Tesco, I picked up my repeat prescription from Boots and came away with an additional bottle of stuff that seems to have cured the stomach problem that has been nagging away at me for the past few days. Thanks to a very helpful pharmacist I didn’t even have to pay for it because I got it on the NHS. Isn’t it great to live in Scotland (when it’s not raining).

After lunch I messed around with ON1 2018 for a while before being told it would be good for me to go out and take a walk in the fresh air. In other words, Scamp wanted to watch her recorded episode episode of River City. There wasn’t much doing in St Mo’s, but I took a few arty shots of cow parsley seed heads knowing that they’d be turned into moody mono shots later, and they were.

When I got back and with today’s images safely in the computer I started, under supervision, to cook the stew for tomorrow’s main – Steak Pie. With it happily bubbling away I made that moody mono shot of the cow parsley seed head. Then I drank from the bottle I got from the chemist. The bottle that said “Drink Me!” I didn’t shrink or fall down any rabbit holes, but let’s say it did what it said on the bottle. Feeling better tonight.

I’m not going to bore you with all the conversions and stuff that were done to the photo. It is what it is.

Tomorrow looks like nasty weather and we’re taking Shona in to hospital for her op. Alarm has just been set for 6am! Picking her up at 6.45 because she has to be there for 7.30.

Just another Wednesday – 17 October 2018

Wednesdays are the bane of my life just now.

There’s no time to think on a Wednesday. We have a couple of hours in the morning, then it’s the drive in to Glasgow, followed by an hour’s dancing. Drive back home and another couple of hours later we’re driving in to Glasgow again for Salsa. Back home and post the photos, do the sketch if it’s not already done and write the blog. It seems non-stop. Yes, it’s self inflicted. Yes the dancing is enjoyable, but some days it just seems too much. Today was one of those days (if you hadn’t guessed!)

Dancing was tough today. We’d practised the moves on Monday night and again today before we went out. When we got there, we started with a different Jive routine and maybe it was that, that put me off my stride … literally. Waltz is still getting better, but I still need to make it smoother and faster, especially the turns. Quickstep is the same. It needs to be slicker. Tango we haven’t done for weeks now and it came as a shock to realise how little I could remember. It also plays with my head, changing the rhythms and steps with three ballroom dances in half an hour. That’s just 10 minutes for each. I felt like Worzel Gummidge with the wrong Dancing Head on. Next week it will be better I’m sure, especially if they play  the Scarecrow Hop!

When we got home I took the ‘Big Dog’ out for a walk in St Mo’s. The light was beautiful, but there was nothing interesting to photograph in it. I finally settled on the larch needles almost ready to fall as PoD. Walking back I watched a couple of swans going at it hammer and tongs. I’m guessing that, as they were two males, it was a fight to see who would be the dominant male. I’m not totally convinced the fight is over, this may only have been round 1. I’ll check back in the next few days.

Drove in to Glasgow and found that the time to the SECC was 43 minutes. Usually it’s around 10 minutes. The M8 was like a badly managed car park, but I managed to take a different route to our normal one that got us the STUC (not to be confused with the SECC!) by 7.30pm. Start time. Class was interesting with a variety of moves. New move for them was Ellie.

Sketched the beer bottle and glass while I was half watching The Apprentice. I think it may have run its course now. It’s formula is fairly predictable as are the contestants. It passes a mid-week TV slot, but is rarely worth wasting time on.

I think today was just a bad day. Tomorrow will be better. We may go out somewhere, but where I don’t know.

Nothing much to report – 16 October 2018

Out early to the dentist, but no fillings for me, mum.

Drove Scamp to the dentist on a cold morning and waited in the car reading the latest Rebus book. Three quarters of the way through in just under two weeks. Must be a record. Scamp arrived just as the cold was beginning to seep in and I had switched on the engine to warm me up. Unfortunately, there was a filling for Scamp, a temporary one to see her through until a week on Friday, the 26th of October. The pain seems to have diminished a lot since yesterday and appears to be manageable. Now she’s complaining about the taste from the temporary filling. There’s no pleasing some people.

When we got back I noticed a little moth on the outside of the front window with the light shining through its wings. That became PoD. I also started what would become Inktober 2018 No16. Basically, it was what was sitting right in front of me on the coffee table. I got the scale of the apple totally wrong and that’s why there’s a ‘ghost apple’ there. That’s the trouble with drawing in ink, make a mistake and there’s no going back. There’s a fad just now for sketching in ball pen, that’s why today’s sketch was done with a cheapo black ball pen. I’m now looking for a better pen, one equipped with a Ctrl Z (Cmd Z Mac) button.

After the outing to the dentist, the furthest we went today was a short trip to Costa in Robroyston after calling in at the butchers in Muirhead for some raw meat for me. When we got back, and with the help of Scamp, I converted the raw chunks of meat into stew. Actually I’d so far as to say a very tasty stew. I can take no credit for it at all, it was all down to Scamp’s careful and patient instruction. I did add the Bisto though! Loads more for tomorrow’s dinner too.  By dinner time the sun from the morning was long gone, replaced by a drizzly smir.

Tomorrow is dancing day. Practised the Timesteps tonight to try to fix them in my head for tomorrow.

Blue Skies – 15 October 2018

Another beautiful day. Blue skies all around.

Not the warmest of days, but if you were in the sun it was warm, especially because there was little or no wind to draw the heat away.

As it was Gems today, I had to make the decision whether to go to the gym or take the Dewdrop out for a run. That blue sky and the lack of wind made it a no-brainer. Hurled 1 the Dewdrop out  and realised right away that I was over dressed for the conditions. It looked cold, but was remarkably mild. However, I was out now and I wasn’t going back in to remove one of my layers. Better too warm than too cold.

It was a short run, just about five miles or so, but cycling was only part of the reason I was out. I wanted to get some decent shots with the Samyang. Even after a month, I’m still having to get used to it. Today I was looking for macro shots in the ultra-wide. Apparently the Samyang is quite adept at getting in ultra close. It worked too, although as usual you have to be very careful setting the all important focusing distance.

Cycling was a bit aquatic today with loads of puddles and flooded parts of the track I like to ride on. The SPD shoes are great for getting the power down, but practically they are a disaster. Not only are there holes in the sole, the uppers are as waterproof as blotting paper. Apparently the holes in the sole are to allow the water to run out when you’re cycling in the rain, but they also let the standing water in. I don’t think there is a happy medium here.

After dinner we drove in to Glasgow and tonight’s Salsa move was interesting. Not nearly as bad as the one we dodged last week which was just a lucky bag of bits of moves, clumsily bolted together. This one also had bits of moves we already knew, but the joining together was more skilfully done. Jamie learned it from a video by a Polish couple, so it’s called ‘Poland’. That’s the way it is some times!

PoD was a macro shot of a ladybird on a leaf and it works for me. Inktober sketch for today was two bottles and a jam jar sitting on the worktop this morning.

Tomorrow Scamp goes to the dentist again in the morning and I’ll find something to sketch to fill my time.


  1. To Hurl – In the Scottish language does not mean to throw or even to be sick.  To Hurl is to wheel something.  “The mother put the baby in the pram and hurled it down the street.”  It is also possible to give someone a Hurl.  “The old man gave the boy a hurl in the barrow.”  Note that neither prams nor barrows, nor even boys were thrown anywhere. 

Callum – 12 October 2018

Well, he didn’t stay long did he. Although he did knock down two of our bins on the road out.

I think we were in a neat little pocket of still air while Storm Callum was bustling about all around us. Nice of him to topple our garden rubbish bin and our recycling bin as he left. He did drop a lot of rain though. It started about midday, just as I was heading out to meet Fred and I think it’s still raining yet at just before 10.30pm. What’s more, there’s a second, even heavier lot ready and waiting for us tomorrow. Oh what fun. And we were worried that there might be a drought during the summer. We were praying that they wouldn’t have a hosepipe ban! Now we’re more worried about flash floods.

The rain didn’t stop Fred and I meeting to set the world to rights as we sometimes have to do just before the weekend. Even Val made it for half an hour or so. While I was waiting for them, I thought I’d fill in the time and the last page of my sketchbook with a little drawing of the bloke sitting at the next table. He had his back to me as he read the paper, so there was little chance of him objecting to being my model for the day. Unfortunately, there are few interesting features on the back of a person’s head, so it was a bit of a dull sketch. So dull in fact that I forgot to sign it, so that was done on a separate sheet and pasted on in Photoshop. Yes, I could have done it in ON1, but that would have taken at least an hour and Photoshop’s so much easier when you’ve been using it for a while.

Drove home accompanied by a high pitched squeal from the car. The rain was torrential at the time and I’d nowhere to stop, so I soldiered on and it suddenly stopped. As the wipers were on full at the time, trying to clear the windscreen and the cavity where their motor sits was full of leaves, I suspect that’s what was causing the squeal. The mashed up leaves I found in the cavity when I got home seemed to bear out that theory, but I’ll keep a listening ear out for strange noises for the next few days.

Scamp made Chicken Curry for dinner and I made flatbread, saltless flatbread (by accident). Tasted strange, was perfectly edible.

Today’s PoD is ‘Flooers’, never a good sign. Other than raindrops running down the window (and I’ve done that already) there wasn’t much more I could do. I liked the close-up, almost macro shot of the anthers and stigma look really alien.

Hoping to get the bus in to Glasgow tomorrow to go for lunch in the rain!

Dragonflies, Porridge and Lentil Soup – 21 September 2018

Although not in that order.

Scamp was feeling a little under the weather this morning so I let her sleep on and got up and made some porridge for me. It’s a long while since I’ve had this Scottish breakfast. You can tell it’s the Scottish version if it comes unsweetened or even with added salt. Only sassenachs have honey / sugar / syrup on their porridge. Me? I take it as it comes. No salt and certainly nothing of a sugary nature. I make mine with oats, and milk. Boiled in the microwave for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. I find it funny, the looks I get, when we go on cruises and I add salt to my porridge. That look of horror from the english who don’t know any better 😉
After an hour or so, I took up her light breakfast. No porridge of any kind for Scamp. I was pleased to see her looking a lot better than yesterday.

We had an easy morning and after lunch Scamp instructed me in the noble art of making Lentil Soup. I’ve made soup before, in fact I’d half intended to make Tomato Soup for tonight’s dinner, but I’ve never attempted soup using the time honoured “a handful of this and a pinch of that and just about this amount of water”. It’s what my mum used in her cooking and what Scamp’s mum used too. I’m more a ‘time and temperature’ person, working to millilitres and grams where possible. Anyway, the soup turned out too thin, so I had to add “Just about a handful more lentils.” Then it was fine. I also made some bread using grams and millilitres, and felt so much more in control.

With the soup thickening and the bread proving, I walked over to St Mo’s to get some photos in the afternoon sunshine, because today we had sunshine almost all day. A bit of a breeze, but nothing like the gales we had midweek. PoD was the black dragonfly resting on the boardwalk over the mashes at St Mo’s. I used my usual method of taking a shot, moving closer, taking a shot, moving closer etc. Except, my final shots were taken at almost 1:1 and the dragonfly hadn’t even twitched. Maybe it was exhausted or maybe it was doing what dragons seem to do, sizing me up.

Came home and had soup and bread for dinner with a recovering Scamp. She does do a good lesson on soup making.

Tomorrow if the weather fairies are correct, should be a decent day, so we may go out for a run in a shiny clean Juke. Where, is open to suggestions!

Cold begone! – 17 September 2018

Woke with a fairly clear head this morning and the roughness in my throat had gone. I was miraculously cured!

Just as well really because today is Monday and that’s Gems’ Day. There is no way I could have gone to my bed and stayed there all day while they were singing. What I did do was strip out some old silicone sealant from the shower cabinet and dry out the resulting cavity. Then resealed it and left the bathroom smelling strongly of vinegar. It’s not the best repair in the world, but I think it’s waterproof, or at least better than it was which is the next best thing. Tomorrow, I have to put the shower cabinet back together again with more silicone.

With that done I was free to go out and take some photos. I drove up to the back of Fannyside to see if there were any likely subjects. I found a field with some black sheep that looked as if they’d just arrived from the sales. Usually sheep spread themselves thinly across a field, but this lot were all bunched together and when one of them ventured away from the crowd, the rest followed like … er … sheep! Must visit them next week to see if they’ve settled in a bit better.

My subjects today were macros. A scary looking Daddy Longlegs spider, some Cladonia lichen and some moss fruiting bodies. And the winner is <Cue Drum Roll> The Cladonia. It was a neat, low, tight bunch and that helped keep them nicely in focus.

Scamp was eager to help out with the beginners 6.30 class tonight, so we left early. Unfortunately there was an EIS union meeting in the main hall of the STUC building, so parking was at a premium and we were lumped in a small room on the second floor. Worse still, it was a carpeted room. It’s really hard to dance on a carpet, and especially hard to dance salsa on a carpet. They were doing turns tonight and with the friction of my feet on the carpet, it wasn’t doing my poor wee knee any good. Thankfully the meeting finished before our own class started and we were back on a hard slippy floor. Tonight’s move was called ‘Seo’. Not its real name of course. That was just the name of one of the dancers in a video the teacher had learned the move from. Jamie G once taught a move called Setenta Batman. We searched YouTube to find that move without any success until years later when another teacher told the class that the move was called Setenta Batman because the teacher in the video was wearing a Batman tee shirt. You get used to this method of naming moves after a while.
Andrew and, the newly returned to the fold, Megan had their first beginners class tonight. Apparently it went really well. I don’t imagine we will be helping with that class … Ever!

Tomorrow we may be going for a swim. If so, I may go to the gym and loosen up my leg on the bikes. First time since the spring, I believe!

Computing – 7 September 2018

Not so much computing, more looking for computers

We finally gave up on Scamp’s old laptop this morning and decided to cut our losses and go for a new one. Currys in Bishopbriggs was the place to go with a better selection than JL. After much indecision, soul searching and cups of coffee, she eventually settled on an HP 14” laptop, only to find that they didn’t have one in the store, the nearest store that did have one was Braehead, in fact it had eight. Braehead is on the other side of Glasgow.

The Juke’s satnav knew where it was and delivered us to the door. It was like walking into a time machine. This store looked exactly like the one we’d just left twenty minutes before, and I mean exactly! Even down to the displays all being the same with the same machines and in the same places. Weird. That’s the great thing about AutoCad. The architect draws one building and simply adjusts the sizes slightly to suit different ground areas and bang. You have cloned another store. It’s almost like there’s a factory somewhere churning out Currys PC World stores to order.

Anyway, we found the laptop easily because, of course, it was in exactly the same place relative to the front door. That’s where the efficiency ended. Lots of black clad Currys PC World employees looking busy, carrying pieces of paper or clipboards. Nobody ever questions you if you’re carrying a piece of paper. Even less likelihood of an questions being asked if you’ve got a clipboard in your hand. Eventually after about fifteen minutes of standing being ignored by all the sales people, a lady with a clipboard asked if she could help. Scamp said “Yes, I want that one.” The lady said she’d put us in the queue and told us there was one gentleman in the queue before us. She didn’t write our name on the clipboard, which was probably just for show and after another then minutes our assistant arrived. Scamp repeated her “Yes, I want that one” speech and off we went to get the order processed. He gaily typed the details into the computer and told us they only had one, the display model. When he turned the monitor around to prove it, Scamp noticed it was a totally different model. He grumbled something about it being the right model and when he returned, he had a piece of paper and told us that someone (?) had put the wrong model name in front of the computer. Not so, we’d already checked. Half a dozen times. We’d had about 25 minutes to make sure while we waited. The new bit of paper had the correct model number and there were now thirteen models of that type in stock. I think they breed them in that warehouse.

Long story short, we finally got the ‘puter. We didn’t even have to endure the refusal to purchase Mickysoft Office 365 or the insurance package. I think he just wanted us to go. As we left we had to surrender our invoice so the guard at the door could check that we weren’t stealing a laptop, or buying a memory stick and trying to get through the exit carrying a laptop. I’m still not sure what that was all about.

Setup at home was the usual overdone Mickysoft pantomime, but in the end was fairly painless. We even managed to remove the old Micksoft Office Home from my old Tosh and release the license so that it could be installed in the new computer. By the way, it’s a 14″ HP with an i5 processor, 8GB memory and 128GB SSD. Just in case you wanted to know. 128GB isn’t much once you count in the room needed for Windows 10 and all it’s airs and graces. So once I got the hard drive out of the old HP we copied only the necessary files on to the new one.  I am reliably informed that Jigsaw World works perfectly.

After that I went a walk to St Mo’s and got today’s PoD there, before returning to make the best spaghetti I’ve made in years. The secret was some extra special Italian tinned tomatoes. Lovely thick sauce in them. Cirio Pulpa, look for them.

My apologies to JIC for the superexcess of Technospeak in today’s blog.

Tomorrow we’re going out somewhere, anywhere but Currys PC World.

Just when you think you’ve solved the problems – 6 September 2018

Another one pops up its ugly head.

<Technospeak>
Today’s problem came this morning. Scamp told me her laptop wasn’t charging, did we have another power supply? Well, yes we had another two laptop power supplies, but neither of them had the same connector as Scamp’s. However, armed with a voltmeter I checked the output voltage of her power supply and it was fairly close to the specification of 18v. It was actually running at 19.4v, but it has been running at that for seven years now and hasn’t given any problems until today. I didn’t reckon that was the problem.
I prowled the InterWeb looking for someone with the same problem and there were a few. The supposed best solution was to remove the battery and power supply then hold down the power switch on the laptop for at least 15 seconds to “possibly reset the CMOS”. I didn’t like the ’possibly’ part, but I tried it anyway. Replaced the battery and the power supply. It didn’t work. I then tried removing the battery as someone suggested and just connecting the power supply. It didn’t work. Reseat the memory? That didn’t work.
Powered up the iMac and loaded Google and told Scamp to use it to look for a new laptop while I went to the physio.
</Technospeak>

He listened to my update on all things knee and pronounced that part of the problem is with my hamstrings which seem to have become irritated (or irradiated) along with the ligaments. Four needles and a blast or two with the laser settled it down a bit. Two weeks off and then we’ll have an update. We talked bikes and cycling for the rest of the hour.

Between me swearing at Scamp’s HP and getting my two-weekly perforation with needles, the plumber had arrived and groaned when he saw the limited space available to him to fit the new tap. Half an hour and a lot of huffing and puffing later the tap was fitted and working and although it does produce one drip ever 15 minutes or so, it seems as if it works.

The problem with the power supply is still there. One possible solution is to replace the CMOS battery which is a tiny capsule containing a 1.5v hearing aid battery with a twist of red and white wires that connect to a socket on the motherboard. You can buy them in Maplin for about £2. And there is the problem. Maplin is no more. So now I have to source the battery. Probably Amazon will have them for £1 with £3 P&P. It would be nice it it worked. It might.

Today’s PoD, a seed pod, was seen in St Mo’s in a little bit of sunshine between rain, thunder and lightning and scarily heavy hail showers. A bit of a mixed day weatherwise.

Tomorrow we go laptop hunting I think.

Dancing and Competition – 22 August 2018

Wednesday is dancing day, but we’re not good enough to compete yet.

It seemed that half the Buchanan Galleries car park was cordoned off today. Maybe it’s getting painted, maybe they’re going to re-cover the floor, maybe they’re not going to do anything at all and it’s all just a ploy to annoy us. Most likely the last one. Anyway, it didn’t stop us getting parked on level 4 which is quite good for midday and midweek. So off we trotted to Blackfriars to strut our stuff.

First up was Jive and maybe because I’m getting used to it and maybe because we’ve been practising more, but I’m beginning to enjoy it. I still get mixed up with the different spins in the Seven Spins, but even that’s beginning to iron itself out. I need some mental mnemonics to fix numbers to names. After that was more or less sorted, Michael added in four Ladles. What a ladle is, I do not know. It seemed a bit like Ochos in Salsa. In salsa that’s a bit of time wasting move that nobody apart from Shannon seems to like. I didn’t like it much in Jive either.

On to waltz and although we’re not perfect at it yet, the moves are becoming slicker. One of the lady helpers cleared up a few of my mistakes and set me right on a few other things. Next a quick reprise of quickstep which is fine when you’re walking through it, but is a nightmare at dancing pace. Still learning the basic steps. Last, it was Tango which I always found a comical dance. It’s not so comical when you have to dance it. It’s very quick and staccato. I never can get the head turn correct. I always go left – right and it should be right – left. More work needed here, definitely.

On the way home we stopped off at Colin’s to drop off two photos, one painting and one pot of jam. All for the Industry section of Chryston show which is on Saturday. This is the first year we’ve entered anything and it’s one of the few times we’ll not be able to go. Stayed for coffee at Colin and Evelyn’s and talked for a couple of hours. We got a conducted tour of their garden again. Lovely garden, but it seems to take 24/7 work to keep it that way.

Grabbed a camera when we came back and got an hour in St Mo’s. Lovely evening light and lots of photos of spiders, tiny wee ones on their webs. Most were rejected, but a couple were decent and that’s where today’s PoD came from.

Dinner was beef burger (own make), sausage, egg and chips. Scamp, of course, decided to forego the meat and had egg ’n’ chips. Our own Charlotte potatoes didn’t make very good chips. They’re much better boiled.

Up and out early tomorrow, hopefully.