Dull day – Wasted day – 9 May 2018

It was one of those days. We’ve all had one of those days. I had one today.

I really couldn’t be bothered doing anything. Scamp suggested we go to Livingston again and maybe it would have been better to do that but I didn’t and I regret it now. It’s usually better to do something, even something you’re not too keen on, than doing nothing.

Lunch was a kipper and I wish now I had hadn’t that, which kind of contradicts my previous statement but my stomach is upset and I blame that kipper. I think it had been in the freezer too long.

I did one positive thing today and that was to plant the remaining three Charlotte seed potatoes in a big pot. Not much to say for a day. Even my step counter shows only 4,020 steps after two hours of salsa. For some reason salsa doesn’t register on the Fitbit. Neither does jive although we didn’t have a jive or a waltz class as both the teachers are on holiday this week. Waltz seems to fair better. That may be because there is a fair bit of walking involve in it and heavy stepping too. Scamp says playing the piano is good for faking exercise and I’ve found that if I wear the Fitbit on my right wrist, chopping veg is good for maintaining a healthy if fake count.

As you will have gathered I’m back home now and my stomach has settled a lot. Maybe the jumping up and down at salsa jiggled the kipper around and made it think it was back in the sea again, or maybe it was the two Imodium I took before we went out. Possibly that’s too much information.

PoD today was a grab shot through the rain and demonstrates the incredible close focus of the new lens. That water drop was about 2mm diameter! Most impressive.

Tomorrow will be unlike today because we will both be busy all day. That, in itself will make a pleasant change.

Shorts and Tee Shirt Weather – 7 May 2018

When we woke this morning it was cloudy and dull.

It may have been cloudy and it may have been dull, but the outside temperature was already 14.4ºc. That’s only 0.6º short of official Shorts and Tee Shirt weather as decreed by me.

When I eventually dragged myself away from my book, got showered and dressed, it was definitely shorts and tee shirt time, but I retained my decorum and just wore a shirt and jeans instead. Scamp was already in the garden, watering and feeding the plants and encouraging the sun to shine down on this great land we live in. Even better, it seemed to be working. The sun was breaking through the clouds and it looked like it was going to be a lovely day. Cleaned the Gaggia and which has been on my to do list for ages. Sat on the front step with Scamp and grabbed today’s PoD which is the inside of an open tulip.

After a quick trip to Tesco, lunch and a conversation with Hazy. I decided it was time to get the bike out and take it for a run. Truly this was shorts and tee shirt weather, cycling shorts and a short sleeved top. It was a good run, but there wasn’t much for the new lens to get a grip on. Back home and it as salad for dinner and a mighty good one too. Potato salad, mixed leaves, yesterday’s mutton served cold, beetroot and all washed down with a glass of vino collapso. Then a seat in the garden to let it all slide down with the last of the vino to help it on its way. After an hour or so the sun had dipped far enough down to force us back inside.  Nice to have a restful Monday with no salsa as  the STUC building is closed on bank holidays.

All in all, it was a very nice day. Unfortunately it looks like it’s all going downhill from here on in. Never mind, it was a really good summer. We enjoyed both days.

Maybe that was summer – 6 May 2018

It was sunshine and blue skies when we woke today and it more or less stayed that way all day for a change.

Just on the off chance that today WAS summer, we made the most of it. Scamp was doing the most in the garden, of course. Putting up sweet pea netting, although I did the structural part and fixed the high bits. Pruning the blackcurrant bush. Repotting everything she could find. Cutting the front grass and having great fun blowing the cuttings into the trees. Generally being the gardener. Me? Well, apart from being the designer of the sweet pea frame, I wandered round looking at things and taking photos of the tulips, one of which became PoD. Oh yes and I planted the first batch of Charlotte potatoes.

After lunch I took a load of junk and garden waste to the council tip. There were signs on all the skips to the effect that you weren’t allowed to put soil in them. Why not, and if you’re not to put them in a skip in the tip, where are you meant to dump the soil? If you can’t dump it legally then illegally is the only other option. Then they wonder why people are fly-tipping. Joined up thinking is a step too far for NLC. Anyway, I joined everyone else by emptying the contents of my bag in the skip. “Honest mister, it wasn’t soil, it was compost.”

Back home, I roasted my mutton and put it in the slow cooker for it to do its magic for four hours or so. By then the sun had gone behind a cloud and I sat for an hour struggling with Keyboard Maestro, a really clever piece of Mac magic that allows you to create macros to do clever stuff once you’ve written the code. It was the writing of the code, or to be more exact, the syntax of the code that was messing me about. I gave up after a while and joined Scamp with a G ’n’ T and a book in the garden. It was really lovely for a while, although the sun kept disappearing behind the odd cloud. Veg to go with my mutton (or hogget) was carrot and fennel, sliced thin, fried in butter and then put into the slow cooker to stew in the juices from the hogget. (It tasted lovely by the way. Quite like fennel now.

After dinner and a glass of wine I sat down again, determined to work out how to fix the syntax of the code. Finally I cracked it and this is what it does if you hold down Control + Option + Command and press the ‘3’ key:

Y6 – 365/126 – Photo1952

That means that this is the 6th year of my 365s. The picture at the top of the page is the 126th of this year’s 365 and it’s photo 1,952 to be given the title PoD. There, don’t you feel better for knowing that?

Tomorrow looks like it will be much the same as today, if not better, but after that it’s the downward slope into rain and ‘seasonal average’ temperatures. It’s coats-on time again, so we should make the best of it.

Waiting for the DPD man – 3 May 2018

My Panasonic 30mm f2.8 macro lens was due for delivery today.

The email arrived just after 10am to tell me that the lens would be delivered between 4.04pm and 5.04 pm. Why so exact? Anyway, that left us with the rest of the day to play with. Where should we go? We’d been to Glasgow yesterday. We’d been to Dunfermline on Saturday. Scamp suggested Stirling and that was the deal sealed.

It was a dull day with nothing to recommend it. Had a light lunch in Nero and then went to Waitrose for the messages. Came home. Not exactly the most exciting way to use your afternoon, but at least we were out for a while. I’d humphed two cameras round Stirling and hadn’t even taken one photo.

The lens arrived just after 4pm and when I unpacked it, it looked brand new. Almost untouched. Screwed it on to the Oly 5 and tested it. Oh yes! It does indeed focus down to almost nothing, and it looked really neat too. Almost brand new and sixty quid cheaper than the same lens from Jessops. Grabbed my bag again and headed over to St Mo’s just as the rain came on.

My parting words to Scamp were that I wasn’t taking the long lens because there wouldn’t be any deer to photograph. Walked through the trees to the path above the pond and there was a deer not 30m away to my left. It saw me at the same time and ran away into the deep pine forest. I was eager to try out the new lens an found some subjects in the sprouting Larch needles. ISO was a bit higher than I’d have liked, but the detail looked good on the viewing screen. Walked down through the trees and there in the open ground were two deer. Used the Teazer to grab some photos of them before they ran off. One more photo of a climbing snail and that was it for the day.

Walked back and was immediately impressed with the quality of the photos from the lens. Prime lenses are notable by their excellent quality and this one is no exception.

Dinner tonight was Aloo Sag or Potato and Spinach Curry to you and me. It took me over an hour of constant preparation and cooking to get it made, but it was really, REALLY good. Just a tad too hot perhaps, but very good sauce. Impressed.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Fred and Val.

Dancing, Dancing, but not all the day – 2 May 2018

Today we’d agreed to go to ballroom and jive, but not salsa, just in case it was a Shannon Show, all ‘Oo La La’ and ‘Happy Chests’ (Don’t ask). As it happened, we needn’t have worried as Will took both classes. So, here’s how the day unfolded.

Sat and worked through some of the tutorial videos for the new RAW processing software in the morning and am much better pleased with it now. It’s a real pity they didn’t get some of the YouTube tutors to produce their advertising videos. Then I’d have decided much quicker to give this software a try. It’s only when you get down to the nuts and bolts of a program explained by somebody who knows what they are talking about that you see its full potential. No need for tacky music and faked up special effects. It seems like a much better program now.

Drove in to Glasgow to go to the Ballroom Duet. Waltz was good and I think we passed with flying colours. Now we’re on to the small details. Big Steps and Rise and Fall. Using the Frame and Using the Core. Enjoyed it and also starting to get to grips with the Jive routines. Things are looking up at last. Next week will be a desert of dancing. No Salsa on Monday as the STUC is closed for the May holiday and no ballroom on Wednesday because both teachers are on holiday. We’ll just have to move the couch back and dance round the living room.

After we left Blackfriars we went for a coffee in Nero in Queen Street and noticed a degree of activity around the GOMA. On further investigation, it turned out that it was a film company doing a little bit of location shooting. I’ve no idea who the ’star’ was, but she most definitely thought she was a ’STAR’! Took a few photos and walked back to the car, but not before we stood and watched the giant demolition machine that was biting lumps out of the old hotel in front of Queen Street Station like a gigantic prehistoric monster. Scary looking thing.

When we came home the sun was shining so I grabbed the Nikon bag and took a walk around St Mo’s. Got the PoD which is of a tree climbing snail that only seem to climb the ash trees. After a bit of processing in ON1 and a bit of detailed work in Lightroom it began to look very pretty. It’s not what I saw, it’s what I wanted to see.  Came home through a rain shower to fish ‘n’ chips which were delicious, Scamp!

Hoping my latest lens will arrive by DPD tomorrow. Not new of course, but as good as. I’m looking forward to having a macro lens for my Olys. Up until now I’ve had to rely on a cheap pair of extension tubes. They are made of plastic with metal mounts and are getting worn and as a result letting light in which means I need to do more post-processing.

Other than lens-waiting, we have no plans for tomorrow. Some light gardening perhaps?

The Gas Man Returns – 26 April 2018

Another early rise.

The gas man phoned at 8.15 this morning to say that he was on his way, but asked me first to unscrew a bleed screw at the top of the boiler. When I did this, there was a hiss of escaping air and then a few gurgles. Still nothing from the boiler. When he came in he diagnosed the problem right away. I’d switched it off at the boiler and forgotten to switch it back on again. Numpty. That didn’t explain the inability of the boiler to fire up on Tuesday night though, for that he diagnosed an air lock which I’d partly resolved by unscrewing the bleed screw. He bled the air chamber inside the boiler and now it’s working perfectly, in fact it’s much better than it’s been for months, if not years. We now have instant HOT water in the upstairs bathroom, something we’ve never really had. So here’s a hint for you readers. If your central heating won’t come on, check that it’s actually switched on.  We’re now talking about getting a Hive to give us even more control over our heating.

With that problem solved we went in to Stirling to get some messages. Just the usual day’s shopping in Waitrose, then back home for lunch. Weather was traditional April showers with intervals of really bright sunshine in between.

After lunch I went out for a walk and managed to get a photo of some Wood Anemone flowers down by the banks of the Luggie Water and that became the PoD as you can see. There wasn’t much else to see today and although the sky was interesting, there wasn’t much in the landscape to create a foreground, so it was ‘flooers’ again, I’m afraid.

Dinner was more of yesterday’s Simple Fish Stew. The fish might have been simple, but the stew was a whole host of complex flavours and tasted even better today. Scamp had bought some rhubarb in Waitrose and while I was out stravaigin’ the countryside, she had made the most delicious Rhubarb Pie for desert. It was so good, I had two pieces.

On the dot at 7.30pm the boiler fired up and in fifteen minutes the room was warm. It’s amazing what you can do if you switch the bloody thing on first 😉

Tomorrow is Scamp’s day. She’s out for dinner with The Witches and out in the evening with Isobel at Cumbernauld Theatre to a choir concert. I’m taxi driver, probably in both cases, but certainly at night. Morning’s free I think.

The gas man cometh and great winds did blow – 24 April 2018

The gas man came early which gave us the impetus to get up.

The gas man phoned just after 8.30 to say he’d be with us in about 20 mins. So that was it, put the book down, get dressed and get the front door open. Shower later. This is the earliest we’d been up since November! That in itself is scandalous. The central heating check didn’t take too long and for once there wasn’t a heavy push to replace the boiler. It was more a case of “If it’s not broke, don’t buy a new one … yet”.

With the rest of the day to play with we sat down with a cup of coffee. Scamp sat to read, I sat to do today’s Sudoku. After that and a quick run to Tesco to get tonight’s dinner, Scamp decided she’d go for a swim. I wanted to paint another masterpiece. She had her swim and I made a mess. Used black lacquer instead of black acrylic and then sprayed water on it to completely botch it up. Not to worry, it was just a small abstract. It was certainly abstract now. It may dry and it may not. I don’t really mind which. After that and after trying to clean the brushes with Hammerite thinners which will usually clean anything I was left with three claggy, oily feeling brushes. Tried heavy duty detergent on them and that didn’t work. I now have them steeping in warm water and will try using white spirit on them tomorrow. They weren’t expensive brushes, it’s just the challenge that’s keeping me going at it.

With the aborted abstract congealing on a board, I set about a landscape painting of the hills from the back window. Almost successful. Such a damning statement! Then Scamp arrived home just as the sun was coming out for the hundredth time today and she wanted to cut the front grass. Afterwards she was delighted with the speed at which she could blow the grass cuttings across the path into the trees. What would have taken about 15 minutes of heavy brush work was achieved by the Christmas Big Box Toy in about 20 seconds. Honestly, that was all it took. I think she was a bit disappointed because she wanted to play with it for a little longer. She’s had to wait four months to get to play with it and it was all over in half a minute.

The sun came out just before dinner and illuminated the garden. I quickly grabbed the Nikon and took a few macro shots of flower buds, mainly the Pieris which should by rights be a mass of red and orange foliage by now. Unfortunately it’s just the buds that are red at present, but it will be much more colourful by next week. One of the shots became PoD.

After dinner, it was my turn to do the dishes, but there was no hot water. Checked the boiler and sure enough the flame light was out. Pressed the reset button, but the power light was resolutely off. Unplugged it and re plugged it, but still no joy. Phoned Scottish Gas and the call centre girl told me she’d booked an engineer, the same one who had broken a working boiler this morning. He’d call between 12 and 6 tomorrow. I told her that was poor service, but I realised as I was saying it that she was just the messenger who didn’t want shot. She said I should visit the Scottish Gas website to see what freebies and great offers were available. I declined. She signed off by telling me to “have a great night”!!

Tomorrow? Waiting for the gas man I suspect.

A sewing day – 23 April 2018

Today I had intended to do a bit of sewing, because the weather was dull and rainy.

That was in the morning, but after lunch it brightened up a bit. However, it wouldn’t take too long to run up a bag for my dance shoes. Would it? Actually it didn’t take that long after all. I’d already discussed the design with Scamp and had a fair idea how to progress. I had a bit of problem with the stitch tension (should this be under a <Technospeak> warning ;-). I just turned a couple of dials to different numers and it all seemed to settle down. I started out with setting 2 and finished up with setting 3 on both the dials (that was just for me to remind me what I did). The bag is a bit bigger than the original, but that’s not a bad thing. It just means I have more room and it was easier to make the big one than the small one. Still lots of coffee beans left just in case I need something else coffee themed! Thanks Hazy.

Downstairs Gems were practising and for a while I put up with it, but eventually I had to resort to Spotify and a pair of uncomfortable, but great sounding headphones. They did their work and soon Gems and the sewing machine faded under Daily Mix 2.

Later, after my dancing bag was finished, I grabbed the Nikon bag and went for a walk over to St Mo’s. Not a long walk, and there wasn’t much to see, but I did get some macro shots and a PoD which was the green alien at the top of the page. It’s actually a fern frond emerging from the leaf litter. The Sigma 105mm macro lens is really great. The only thing it lacks is anti-shake, but you can’t have everything I suppose.  I got one other photo of interest.  It’s a bunch of Cowslip flowers.  When I was reading the blog for 19th April 2017 I noticed the photo of the flowers.  Then when I was out yesterday there were the same flowers in the same place!  This must be the time of year they flower, even given the fact that everything else in the garden and in the wild is at least a month behind just now.  Just thought you’d like to see them.  Compare them with the shot on 19th April 2017 from the Archive section of the blog.

Salsa tonight was exhausting but good fun. New move was Leoncio Complicado which was a name we both remembered but we didn’t have a record of it in our library, well, we did have but it was a YouTube video, not one of us dancing it, which makes me think that it wasn’t a great success with the class and fell from favour. That’s a pity because it’s quite a stylish move with difficult turns for the leader. We’ll give it another try.

Tomorrow the gas man cometh to give the boiler its annual service. It should be before 1pm. Don’t know what we’ll do with the rest of the day. Weather doesn’t look very promising.

What a difference a day makes – 22 April 2018

When we woke this morning it was dry and with a touch of sun. It didn’t last.

The rain started just before we got up and remained for most of the morning. It was indeed going to be a stay at home day.

<Technospeak>
Last night was another technological nightmare. While I was writing the blog I was restoring a backup from just over a week ago on to the Linx 12. I’d unfortunately decided to have it verified before I installed it. It was only after it was started, and the ‘cancel’ button had become greyed out, that I realised that it was going to take a long time to check the backup. In fact, it took as long as the actual restore to check it. Rather than go to bed and leave the ‘puter churning through this process, I sat and read another few pages of my book. Eventually it did complete around 1am and just as I was shutting it down, up came the inevitable message “Configuring updates. Don’t switch the computer off”. Too late mate, It’s switching itself off. I went to bed. Well, it was worth the loss of sleep, because when I started the Linx this morning, everything was there. Not only that, the bluetooth mouse that started off this drudgery worked perfectly after I made the change noted in yesterday’s blog. I spent an hour or so adding some stuff and subtracting others until I was happy that what I had was serviceable system. I then made a backup of the up to date system. This time I made sure that I set it to check the backup after it made it. That process, conducted under Windows and utilising a USB 3 connection to the backup drive took just under 20 minutes to backup and check. A far cry from last night’s three hour marathon.
Note to self: When you use Macrium to backup a 64Gig drive, do it uncompressed! It takes a fraction of the time the compressed backup takes!
</Technospeak>

Ok, now that Scamp and JIC at least have returned, here’s the rest of the day. By the way, I made a resolution to get to bed the same day I got up, so this blog and probably others in the next week or so will be written in blocks during the day when I’ve nothing better to do and they blocks will be seamlessly welded into a complete page.

It was a dreich day but I did manage to get out for a walk in the afternoon and it stayed dry all the time. Just a walk through St Mo’s and with the ‘Big Dog’ to look for something that wanted its photo taken. Mr Grey was the first customer. I did see a couple of deer, but they fled too quickly. The rest was all macros. My first hoverfly photo of the year and some neat closeups of catkins. Sometimes you’re lucky if you get one decent subject, sometimes you’re overwhelmed and struggling to refine it down to one photo. I also dragged back some bracken fronds to paint on. Not paint as a subject, but to stick on the canvas and paint over for added texture! Hopefully!

Had a quick practise of the waltz for Wednesday and am much more satisfied with it. Jive? Now that’s another kettle of fish.

Dinner was Sea Bass with Potatoes and Broccoli. Scamp made it of course. She’s the fish master. Much nicer than last night’s fish supper.

Tomorrow is Gems day and hopefully a better day all round than today.

Dancing on an empty floor – 15 April 2018

Up early to watch an exciting Chinese GP. Yes, really. Exciting!

Up early, well around 9am to watch the Chinese GP. For once it was worth getting out of bed for. Great tussle between the top teams with lots of ill will on the part of most of them. My, what spoilt brats they are.

Spoke to Hazy for a while after that and then went to work in the garden. No, really. I did actually do some creative work for a change. I built up the frame for Scamp’s broad beans to grow on. Unfortunately we couldn’t find any gardeners green twine, so the actual net the will climb on is not in place yet. Not my problem mate. I didn’t put it away. I’ll get some new twine tomorrow. With the work part completed, I skedaddled to St Mo’s to get some photos.

There wasn’t much doing across the road, but I did get one photo of a coot standing on its nest. The nest looked almost as untidy as my ‘bean frame’. PoD went to a macro shot of a tiny wee spider on a tree trunk. It could only have been 3mm long. Most impressed with the result from my pair of extension tubes.  The down side, or maybe not is that the orange ladybirds I’ve been tracking have disappeared.  Flown the coop, I hope.  Hopefully if they were egg laying earlier in the week, I’ll see the results next year.

Came home and started the prep for dinner which was to be 5 A Day Chicken with Pesto. It should have been pistachio pesto, but Scamp’s avoidance of any nuts meant that I substituted pine nuts for pistachios. Apparently pine nuts aren’t really nuts at all and can be used in place of ‘real’ nuts. I was only doing the prep, because I’d spent too long in the Land of St Mo and, as we were strapped for time to get in to Glasgow to go dancing, we’d have to have our dinner after we came back.

The dungeon that is Arta was almost empty when we got there. Apparently Cameron was holding an event in competition with AdS and Rangers were getting gubbed by Celtic (as usual) and most of the guys would be there or else be too inebriated to dance. It did brighten up a bit later, or to be more precise, more people arrived. Nobody could ever call it bright. We did have a few dances and both of us tried out moves we’ve learned in the past few weeks. We really should go out more often just to practise some of our moves.

Came home and I made the dinner which turned out better than I’d hoped, but there was a lot of garlic in the mixture. Possibly (definitely) too much. Needs some tweaking, but then again don’t most recipes. Just to get them working like you imagine they should taste.

Tomorrow looks good if the weather fairies are correct. If it turns out as predicted, I’ll go for a walk along the canal. If not, then I’ll go to the gym.