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.

Brambles and Beasties – 19 August 2018

Fighting through the latter to get to the former.

After another lazy start to the day that had seen some torrential rain during the night, predicted by JIC last night, I eventually broke surface just before lunchtime. After some scrambled eggs with smoked salmon, we drove down the Mollins Road and parked on a wee side road into some factories. We walked across Mollins Road and then split up, Scamp going right and me going left. Between us we fought through the thorny bramble bushes and the flying insects to get just over 1kg of the lovely black fruit. Most will be put straight into the freezer to be made into Bramble Jam at some later date. It took us just about an hour to harvest the fruit. An hour well spent.

Later in the afternoon we drove to Robroyston to have a coffee. While we were there we counted the number of outlets in the retail park that were either closed or in danger of closing. Out of the six units, two are already closed and one is marked for closure. Of the three surviving units, one is a gym and the other two are bargain basement shops. Not a good sign is it?

Back home it was Sea Bass with New Potatoes from the garden and Courgette Spaghetti from one of JIC’s courgettes, Scamp being today’s chef.

Today’s PoD is a devilish looking red eyed fly on a bunch of brambles. I didn’t pick that bramble, I left it for the fly!

Tomorrow I’m up early to take Shona to the hospital in Glasgow. Fighting my way through the going-to-work traffic. Oh what fun.

An Inspector Calls – 17 August 2018

Any day that starts with a phone call from the polis is going to be a downer.

Luckily this call was just to check that I still had the dash cam footage of the wee bump last Sunday and to check that he could pick it up next week.

After that, and after almost finishing my latest Stuart MacBride book. Just a few pages left now to take time over. Good Scottish humour. Anyway, after that Scamp suggested we drive out to Morrison’s in Falkirk to get ’the messages’ and also maybe have lunch there. It was a sound suggestion and as she was driving, how could I resist.

After loading up the car and heading home we stopped at Halfords to get a dash cam for her car too. After much cajoling she had agreed to have one. We pointed the sales assistant at the one we wanted, a 312GW and off he went to find it. We also wanted it fitted, so we booked a time slot for Monday at 1pm. Then the assistant dived away and came back with about six boxes and started scanning them through. I told him I didn’t think we’d need the nice wee fitted case and asked what all the other things were. He told us they were part of the deal.

  • A case for the camera. (Why? To take it on its holidays perhaps?)
  • Another case with another SD card????
  • A pola filter to remove glare from the dashboard. Something we didn’t need.
  • The camera itself
  • An SD card. Ok, we needed that.

Scamp stopped him in his tracks with HOW MUCH DOES THAT COME TO? The answer was these were part of ‘The Deal’ for £99. We said no thanks, just the camera, the SD card and the fitting kit. How much do they get paid in Halfords for ‘suggesting’ these deals? Anyway we got the necessary stuff and were just leaving when he said “So that’ll be 12 o’clock on Monday”. Hadn’t he said 1 o’clock? Yes, I confirmed, it was 1pm he’d said. Now it was a one hour time slot starting at 12 o’clock. We’ll stick to that. I had great confidence in the fitting the last time when mine was installed. I hope it’s the same bloke who fits Scamp’s, rather than one who can’t tell the time, but knows how to hike the price of a dash cam. Back home and I did a quick fix to get the camera checked, installed and working until it gets plumbed in on Monday some time around midday. It was Monday, wasn’t it?

Grabbed about an hour in St Mo’s to get some beastie pictures as Scamp calls them. PoD was a hover fly holding on to a yellow flower in a stiffening breeze.

Out to Crawford and Nancy’s for dinner tonight with June and Ian. Great time and great food. Just a late night.

Tomorrow? Lunch is booked at the Cotton House. Chinese food for a change.

Early one morning – 13 August 2018

Very early this morning, about 6.30am to be more precise.

Couldn’t sleep, so I did what I haven’t done for a long time, I got up, got dressed and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Sometimes it’s really lovely and other worldly in the early morning light. Today was one of those days. I thought it was dew that was lying on the plants, flowers and spider webs, oh yes, the spider webs. However it was just raindrops. Light fine smirr of raindrops everywhere. Took loads of photos, mainly macros and it was one of them. A tiny wee wet snail that took PoD. I also some shots of Mr Grey, still looking half asleep, standing like a statue on a rock in the pond. Later I got a few of him stalking and catching his breakfast. The speed he can flash that beak out to trap an unwary fish is quite surprising. Came home feeling a lot better, but now tired, and had breakfast with everyone else.

After breakfast I went up to the police station to make the statement about the accident. Lady there took all the details, watched the dash cam video and smiled at the bit where I swore. Then she told me I’d be contacted in a day or two by a police officer who would go over the information with me.

By the time I was coming home, it was raining and the visitors were preparing to go and visit David Marshall Lodge or DML as we’ve always called it. If the weather didn’t suit there, they had plan B which was to go in to Glasgow and visit the GOMA. As it turned out, plan B wasn’t needed because they’d had a fairly dry day and they went from DML to the Kelpies in Grangemouth. While they were out in the countryside, Scamp and I drove to Torwood Garden Centre to buy some leek plants to replace the Calabrese I’d dug up yesterday after cutting the last heads from them. We also got a bay tree to replace the one that suffered in the drought a month or so ago. Scamp liked the look of some fluffy looking daisies, so we got them too. Then we had lunch and drove home.

When the wanderers returned we went to Milano for dinner. Pizza Napolitana for me because I like it and because I couldn’t get a Neapolitan pizza in Napoli (Naples). We had a great night which culminated in a shocked look on Jamie’s face when a birthday cake was brought out and the staff all sang Happy Birthday … but it wasn’t for him! It was for a man at the next table. Jamie’s look of relief was a sight!!

Nobody was drinking much when we came home. Long day for the visitors tomorrow ‘cos they’re going home.