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Finally – 20 October 2017

Up and out fairly early this morning. It was light and blue sky was beginning to show and it was before 10am which is pretty good for me.

Wandered over to St Mo’s wearing my old corduroy trousers which, being brown, don’t show that they are clabbered in muck! I’d put the Sigma 105mm macro lens on the Nikon, not expecting to see any deer because they’d start grazing around daybreak when I’d still be snoring. Just entered the pine woods when I spotted movement at the bottom of the hill. At first I thought it was a young deer, then I realised it was quite a large fox. It was so intent on jumping around, presumably hunting field mice an other rodents, it didn’t notice me and this gave me time to change to the Tamron 300. I fired off ten shots hoping one of them would turn out before it heard/smelled/saw me. That gave me time to concentrate and get a better shot. I got three more shots before he/she was off, striding away out away from the trees. A couple of seconds later I caught a glimpse of his/her brush just visible behind an old stone wall going in the other direction. Now it could have been a different fox, but the one I photographed was quite large and therefore probably quite old and sly. Fly as a weasel … or a fox! I guess it was the same one, loping off in one direction and then running back the opposite way to put me off the scent. Whatever, those were the last shots I was going to get of a fox this morning. I just hoped the Tamron had performed.

Didn’t see anything else of much note all along the walk through the deciduous trees, although I did see some interestingly shaped fungi. The fungi reminded me of some of Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s architectural roof details. Could that be where he got his ideas from? Very Art Nouveau. The rest are just macro shots of bits of plants. I like them, but I don’t expect anyone else to.

In the afternoon Scamp decided to finally take the secateurs to the sweetpea plants that she’d lovingly grown from seed. They had provided posy after posy of flowers to brighten and scent the livingroom. The front garden will look quite bare now that they are gone. That gave us a reason to go out this afternoon to take some garden waste to the dump. Of course we should be putting it in the Brown recycling bin, but only when the cooncil decides that it can afford to buy some for us! Hell may freeze over …

Scamp was getting fired up to go to her Witches Disco Party tonight when I got an email from DPD to say that the phone would be delivered on Monday. While I was making my dinner tonight, after Scamp had left, I also got a text from the Vogons to say that someone would phone in the next half hour. Really, the Vogons must be strapped for cash, I could hardly make out a word the poor girl was saying. What it amounted to was that she was “Very, very, very, sorry”. There were probably a few more ‘verys’ there, but she did explain a few things and I did keep her on the phone for about 20 minutes before I finally acceded to her request to close the complaint. Hells Bells, the Vogons had kept me waiting for a week for my phone. I could keep her waiting for 20 minutes. That said, she was as good as her word and sent me a text later with confirmation that the phone would be delivered on Monday. She also confirmed that it was a new handset, not a second hand one as I suspected it might be. You have to be careful dealing with Vogons, as I’ve found out.

Dinner tonight was an Ostrich Sirloin Steak. I’m not sure I’ll have one again. It was a bit tough and not all that tasty. Bear in mind, though, that I was doing deals with the Vogons while I was eating it.

Tonight’s sketch is of a bottle and glass of St Peter’s Plum Porter (an alliterative stout). Very nice it tasted too.

Tomorrow? Well, it depends when Scamp arrives home and what state she’s in au matin!

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An Old Friend Returns – 13 October 2017

There’s not much to be said about the morning. It rained and it was windy, then it rained again.

Tried to copy a folder of videos from the MBP (Mac Book Pro) to the iMac. It was doing it over WiFi and reported that it would take about an hour. Videos are notoriously large files and there were a lot of them, around fifty at last count. In fact there were more like a hundred because I converted the MOVs to MP4s to make them more portable and ensure they would play in the majority of platforms. Anyway, I decided that an hour was far too long, so I stopped the transfer and used a portable hard disk to copy the files from the MBP. Then it was a simple job to unplug the portable HD and re-plug it to the iMac. There were two partitions on the portable HD and I should issue a warning that there’s a fair amount of Technospeak in this part of the blog. If you don’t want to hear all the geek stuff, maybe you should move down to the but that says “SAFE NOW!” Anyway, now the lightweights are gone, here’s where we talk about the ‘techy’ stuff and this is where things go awry.
The HD was partitioned into two parts. Part 1 was mainly for photos backup and Part 2 was for general use. Both partitions were formatted to NTFS. Now Macs can read NTFS, but natively,they can’t write to it. When I plugged the HD into the iMac it could only read the photos part and I’d copies the files to the other part and it wasn’t showing up. It wasn’t mounted that’s why. I ejected it and plugged it back in to the MBP and it read as normal. I checked it using Disk Utility and it showed up as ok. Ejected it again and plugged it back into the iMac. Still no go. Now I said that Macs can’t natively write to NTFS, but I use a wee app by Paragon that allows the Mac to write to an NTFS disk. It also has a disk checker, so I used it to check said HD. It told me it was dirty. That’s computerspeak for something’s screwed up here. It tried then to repair the damage, but after about ten minutes had got nowhere. This needed the big guns. Ejected the disk and went upstairs to where the PCs live and powered up the laptop, then attached the HD. Yes, it loaded, but only after a lot of clicks and whines. Went into a DOS command prompt and tried to run CHKDSK which is the program that CHecKs the DiSK. Unfortunately you can’t simply do that. You need to go to the Elevated Command Prompt as an Administrator. Typical american idea. Yes, you can buy a gun, or two, or three over the counter, but you have to be Administrator to fix your own disk on your own machine! Finally typed in the command CHKDSK G: /F, pressed enter and five minutes later the job was done. Ejected the disk and re-connected it just to check, and everything was fine and dandy. Ejected it again and took it down to the iMac where it loaded as if nothing had happened. The files copied in just under 6 minutes. The entire process from cancelling the WiFi transfer had taken just short of two hours.
The moral of the story is: If it’s working, don’t mess around with it.

SAFE NOW!

After the disk copying fiasco we had lunch and while Scamp was blowing up a storm on the clarinet, I slipped out to St Mo’s where I spotted the spider, the caterpillar, the chestnuts (although they were arranged tastefully first) and finally I chanced upon Mr Grey. I think it was Mr Grey my grey heron adversary in St Mo’s, but this one looked a bit thinner and smaller than Mr Grey. Maybe it’s Son of Mr Grey. I got a few photos of him before he made his exit down to the other end of the pond. I must say at this point, the photos on the retina screen look amazing. It totally transforms the editing process when you can see the detail so clearly.

Today’s sketch was of Mambo No 5, my trusty iPhone 5s. I think it deserved a photo after all the hard work its done and the hours of music its played. I even took the photo of the drawing with it, as I always do with sketches.

Now I’m off to bed. I’ve got a wee tickle in the back of my throat. Probably caught some nasty cold germs from all the sniffling passengers on the train yesterday. Looks like more rain tomorrow. Don’t have any plans, but may go somewhere for lunch.

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Slipped the leash – 21 September 2017

Scamp was off to have lunch with one of her friends. I had the day to myself!

In the morning we had a Skype with Hazy. Unfortunately it was interrupted in the middle when Skype decided it was going to do an upgrade. Now I don’t mind upgrades for most bits of software (Windows excepted), but why does a communication program break into your conversation without even a by-your-leave? The answer is because it’s owned by Microsoft. The same company that decides you need the latest upgrade to Windows 10 so badly, it installs it on your computer whether you want it or not. Thought it was your computer? Nope, it belongs to Mickysoft. Unless, of course, you took the sensible route and installed Linux.

After our on-line chat, Scamp got ready and headed off. I set too to practise some ‘painting people’ after I’d filled the washing machine and part completed today’s Sudoku and made lunch. The washing machine was a timer. I had the forty minutes it takes to do a wash to do my painting, then I’d have to hang out the washing because it looked like a good drying day with a light breeze and some splashes of sun. After that it was time to go get some photos. Walked along the canal for a bit and then cut across the plantation. It was there I met today’s PoD, the dragonfly. I think it’s a female Black Darter. Quite small, only about 30mm long. It sat on the handrail of a bridge for ages. I thought at first it was sizing up a little fly for lunch, but then decided it was just sunning itself. Probably it had been listening to the weather forecast and knew the next two days wouldn’t allow for much sun bathing.

Walked back to the car and drove to Tesco to get the makings of dinner which turned out to be a truly awful curry. The best thing about it was the flatbreads. They were excellent as usual.

By the time I got home from my walk, Scamp was back home and my day ’off the leash’ was over. I think I may have a beer tonight to commiserate with myself for making such a poor curry. Must do better.

Tomorrow centres around John Carrigan’s Birthday Bash. Should be good fun.

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When I’m cleaning windows – 19 September 2017

Sitting in the people’s palace enjoying a roll ’n’ sausage and a fairly decent cup of coffee. I’m becoming a real coffee snob, Hazy! Scamp had her usual peppermint tea and a couple of slices of toast. It seems strange sitting here on a weekday! We’d just been on a recce to find the party venue for John Carrigan’s 60th in Ibrox, deep in Bluenose territory.

Earlier in the afternoon we were walking round Glasgow Green marvelling at three blokes who were abseiling down one of the multi-story flats. We thought they were cleaning the windows, but it wasn’t until I got the photos home and processed that it became clear that they were actually repairing the windows. They were replacing the seals. Not the sort of job I’d like to be doing, even on a beautiful day like today. However, the view from the top would have been wonderful.

After lunch we drove home and I went out to see if the dragonflies were still sunning themselves up at Fannyside. They were, but their numbers well well down from last week. Only about half a dozen rather than last week’s nineteen. This time I had the proper gear. Nikon D7000 and the Sigma 105mm macro. Maybe it was because it was later when I got there, but the little dragonflies that landed seem lazy and quite happy to simply sit there and be photographed. As usual, I got the feeling that they were sizing me up as I was photographing them. Scary things dragonflies.

In the morning, I’d put what might be the finishing touches to my acrylic painting, so I present it here for your perusal.

Salesman from the garage phoned tonight with an update on the car. It might be arriving a day or two earlier. We’ll know for sure later in the week.

Finally, we don’t have a plan for tomorrow apart from Salsa at night and yesterday’s move wasn’t Sombrero Doble, it was Balsero Dos. Almost the same thing.

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The Happy Wanderers – 15 September 2017

Today we took JIC and Sim to Devilla forest in Fife to have a walk through the trees.

Devilla is a Forestry Commission site with a fair bit of parking and a few interesting walks through well maintained woodland. At weekends it gets very busy, but on a Friday morning it wasn’t overrun. We started out in sunshine, but as we continued through, the clouds rolled in. Sim and I stopped to take some photos of the pond and later a black darter dragonfly that settled near us. There was also a brilliant green dragonfly that buzzed us, but didn’t want to settle. Then a black dog, not the Black Dog, just a labrador appeared and scared away the green dragonfly. It was as we were turning away we realised that Scamp and JIC were nowhere to be seen. I reckoned that they were ahead of us heading back to the car. Sim was of the mind that they’d taken the wrong turning, after passing the pond you see above, and were walking round the pond again. We headed back to the car, but the wanderers weren’t there. We sat and waited, then Sim phoned JIC and she had been right. They’d turned left rather than right when they passed the pond. Of course they hadn’t just walked the same path again, they’d gone ever further into the forest. Anyway, when they returned, it was time for lunch.

Lunch was in the Walled Garden, just along the road from the carpark. Food was fine and the cakes looked as good as they did the last time, but the coffee was almost as weak as Costa muck.

We drove to Pittencrieff park in Dunfermline for a walk around the flower beds. We went to get a photo opportunity of the ‘Fairy Castle’ that is in reality the City Chambers, but didn’t bother to visit the town itself. Best to view it from a distance.

Drove over the new Queensferry Crossing which was mildly mobbed. Not as bad as I thought it would be, but we were going north to south. South to north was a different story, with traffic attempting to merge from ever available angle.

Later we dropped JIC and Sim at Chris’s house in Caldercruix. The first time I’ve been there since John and I picked up Andy Taylor and took him to school, easily 25 years ago. It’s not improved.

Tomorrow after we drop ‘The Kids’ off, we may go out somewhere, although the weather doesn’t look a patch on today’s.

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The day that the rains came down – 7 September 2017

Today it was raining in the morning when we woke.

Later in the morning, when I was feeding the birds, it was raining.

When I went to the docs to get my retinopathy test, it was raining. When I came out it wasn’t raining, it was monsooning, if monsooning is a word. If it isn’t a word, then it should be, because this is what I imagine a monsoon to be like. By the time we got home, we because Scamp had kindly offered to drive me to the docs in case I got drops in my eyes and couldn’t see to drive. When we got home it was just raining again.

I had intended going in to Glasgow in the morning to get my hair cut, but there was no way I was travelling far in this weather. Instead, I stayed home and completed another painting. This time, I’m ready to post a pic. I’ll also include yesterday’s painting which I chose to keep unaltered.

Dinner was what Scamp called ‘comfort food’ and with good reason. A plate of soup for us followed by Bubble ’n’ Squeak for Scamp and Stew with Potatoes and Cabbage for me.

PoD was the strawberry flower in the hanging basket (bottom right). It was taken during the lighter rain through the open back door, from the shelter of the kitchen. Oh yes, and it’s still raining!

More rain forecast for tomorrow, but it will be better rain than today’s. At least we don’t have the devastating 120mph winds they’re getting in the Caribbean with Storm Irma.

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Musical Chairs – 22 August 2017

Today we chose not to go to the gym or the pool, but instead went looking for a new suite.

Scamp chose the Birkenshaw Trading Estate as the best place to browse for a suitable replacement for our sagging two and three seaters, but first we had to find the place. It’s no longer as simple as just scooting along the A/M8 and taking the first turnoff. Nope, since the new M8 superhighway was built, nothing is simple anymore. To get to the turnoff you have to drive on until you reach the Eurocentral exit, go round two roundabouts and then back the way you’ve come, but on the old A8 until you reach the turnoff for Birkenshaw. I suppose it made sense to someone when they were designing it, but it makes no sense to me. I was only glad I’d filled the tank before we left.

Eventually found the clutter of furniture shops all selling the same stuff, it seemed, at varying prices and with varying financial incentives. We finally settled on three front runners. Of which one was lagging behind. Scamp got fed up eventually and didn’t even bother going to Sofa King, something about the name apparently (“No need to swear.” she said!), but since she’d removed that one from the list, she substituted it with another. This was an easier drive, along London Road to DFS which is where we picked up the fourth possible contender for the Suite of the Year Award. So now we’ve got it whittled down to four suites in four different shops. She thinks we should leave it for a few days and then go again to make a final decision. I agree with that strategy, and in the mean time I’ll try to find a way round the roundabouts to get us to Birkenshaw.

We did try one more ‘shop’. This one only made bespoke suites. Yes, they did make leather suites, but it “depended on our budget!” we were told. A leather hide would cost in the region of £350 and a suite would need at least 5 hides. So, that was £1750 for the hides. God knows how much the frame would cost. We smiled and left.

Came home and calmed down with a Smokalies Base which was Skye weans talk for Spaghetti Bolognese, away back when the weans were wee. Then I declared that the afternoon would be devoted to slapping oil paint on a canvas, and very enjoyable it was too. After that and before dinner, I went for a walk in St Mo’s with the Nikon. Captured some interesting dragonfly shots, the most startling of which is headlining the blog. Prime macro lenses are such an eye opener. A must if you’re interested in nature subjects like what Scamp calls ‘Beasties’.

Dinner was a prawn and pea risotto and it was very nice, even if I say so myself. Pudding was an apple pie made by Scamp from our own apples. Even better than my risotto.

Tomorrow I’m going to skip the gym/swim thing again because I’m booked in for a coffee with Fred. May do some more painting in the morning, but I’m running low on the water base oils, so I need to get two or three somewhere. Oh yes, and it’s going to rain tonight and into tomorrow morning, so the weather pixies say.

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When Technology Goes Bad – 21 August 2017

We had intended going swimming or to the gym today, but it never materialised.

The reason for our missing exercise is that today is Monday and the gym but especially the pool is over-run with folk on a Monday, having an extended weekend and eager to use up their Groupon vouchers for a ‘pampering’ session at the spa. Usually this means that the pull is full of floating islands of (mainly) women talking and taking up swimming space. The same happens to a lesser extent in the gym. There they just stand around gawping at the machines and wondering how they can get out of the room without looking a total fraud. It’s one of my pet hates in the leisure centre. So, we didn’t go.

Scamp was going for messages and I settled down to do a painting. All I needed to do was assemble the easel and load the photo onto my tablet, and there was the problem. Although I’d exported the photos to my NAS drive, their folder showed up on the tablet, but the folder was empty. I don’t know where the photos went. I checked on the computer and they had been sent. Unfortunately the folder was empty on the laptop too. Nothing for it than to export them again and this time check that they landed on the NAS safely. They did. Now the tablet couldn’t get network access. I showed it the WiFi extender with its green light. I showed it my phone which had network access. All to no avail. Finally I uninstalled the WD Mycloud app and re-installed it. Now it asked me for a twelve digit access code to connect to the NAS. I gave up. Scamp was now back home with half of Tesco in bags in the hall and I was running out of battery power in the tablet and patience. What’s worse, I could access the photos easily from my (spit) Windows 10 tablet. I know, I know, I could use that instead, but this was a matter of principle now. Why does the Samsung not connect when a Win 10 tablet can? Answers on a postcard please. It was now time to make the dinner before we went to Salsa.

Salsa sorted me. It grounded me, as it usually does and I had a great time Tonight’s new move was ‘Disco’. A strange name for a salsa move. It’s like calling Fillet Steak, reconstituted mince. Other moves tonight were Enchufe Dos and Enchufe Complicado

Today’s PoD is of sweet pea stems in a rectangular vase. I turned it upside down ( the photo that is!) to make it look more interesting.

Hoping for an incentive to go out tomorrow, away from Android tablets.

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Painting again – 17 August 2017

It was a lovely warm sunny morning, but rather than go out walking, for some cantankerous reason, I decided to stay in to sand and paint the upstairs window ledges.

I think it was because the sun was warm and that would help the varnish to dry quicker. I got all three rooms finished in about an hour or so. Looks so much better now. They will probably need another coat, but no great rush.

After lunch I went out for a walk along the canal and out to Dumbreck Marshes. Got some more shots of the caterpillars, as you can see. After some investigation tonight, I discovered they were Buff-tip moth caterpillars. The key was that inverted ‘V’ on the head. Glad that’s sorted. There weren’t so many of them today. Maybe the gusty winds have blown the rest away. Weather was fine going out, but torrential rain showers on the way back to the car.

I was on dinner duty today and the Curried Chicken and New Potato Traybake didn’t exactly hit the spot. Chicken breast was too dry although the legs were fine. Potatoes took too long, so maybe parboil them next time. Other than that, it was fine and easy to make.

Heavy rain and high winds forecast for tomorrow. More painting maybe.

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Woof! – 6 July 2017

It was another up and out early(ish) day. This time it was me needing the repair.

A few weeks ago, just as we were parking for Gardening Scotland, I pinged the cap from one of my front teeth. Today I’d have to pay up and get the nice dentist man to stick a minuscule piece of resin to the tusk and then get his assistant to bombard it with her ultra-sonic ray gun. The whole procedure took less that 15 minutes, including the “That’ll be twenty quid then sir.” I can’t complain, it was my own stupid fault. Plus I made the appointment on Tuesday and got it done on Thursday. Try doing that at our doctors surgery. Scamp phoned for an appointment on Tuesday and the soonest they could give was next Thursday. Reason? The nurse is on holiday. Fair enough, the nurse is due a holiday like everyone else, but don’t they have a replacement? It’s a blood sample they’re doing, not open heart surgery! Anyway, the tooth is fine and Scamp’s decided to keep her blood for a while.

We drove to Torwood Garden Centre in the sunshine for lunch and to get some potting compost, but before we went, I grabbed a quick shot of Alec’s Red doused with last night’s rain. I knew we’d also end up buying at least one plant at Torwood, and so it turned out. Lunch was fine we both had the quiche which was neatly presented in its own wee filo pastry bowl. Very neat. Must try that some time. After lunch and after browsing round the plants, Scamp chose a nice fiery red Alstroemeria. As I was picking up the plant, I felt my finger brush something and thought it might have been a slug, but when I looked, it was just a bit of bark. “Just bark” I said. Scamp looked up at me, all innocence and said “Woof!” Then almost collapsed in a fit of the giggles. This from the woman who has had a sense-of-humourectomy. She just takes me by surprise sometimes and that is one of the reasons I love her so much.

By the time we got home, the clouds were gathering and it looked decidedly like rain. I was glad we’d bought that wee folding trolley thing at Gardening Scotland. It came in very handy for carting the three bags of compost from the car to the house. With them safely stashed beneath the tree just in case it rained, I settled down to lift our first batch of potatoes. Planted nearly three months ago in a big plastic pot, the shaws were turning yellow and I fancied they were ripe for picking. For once, I was right. We got nearly 800g from three seed potatoes, variety Charlotte.  Best we’ve had for a long time. The other pail is a wee bit behind and won’t be ready for another month I reckon. We had Salmon in a Creamy Leek Sauce and New Potatoes for dinner. Your own produce always tastes good.

The Alec’s Red got PoD, but the gigantic bee on the flowers at the garden centre came a close second.

Tomorrow? Coffee with Fred and Val and maybe a run into town if I can be bothered.