An open door policy – 16 May 2019

The door opened this morning and has been locked and unlocked a few times now. I call that a success.

Cut my hair after I got up. Number 4 all over. Thankfully Scamp corrected the bits I’d missed, and there were a few. After that I sat for a while in the sunny living room completing today’s Sudoku puzzle and also doing a quick painting of the fruit bowl with the oranges looking shiny and colourful in the sun.

With nothing else to do today and nowhere in particular to go. We finally settled on Stirling, or to be more exact, Waitrose in Stirling for the ‘messages’. I don’t know if you can actually go to Waitrose for ‘messages’. I think you go there to shop, or for shopping. We bucked the trend and went for messages.

Came home and tried to stop at Calders for some more plants. Calders was full, completely full. Not one parking space. Drove home and had lunch. An hour or two later we went back and got the plants and also a hook to hold our refilled hanging basket. Came home via Asda where I was hoping to get a couple of miniatures of whisky. The had none. It looked ominously as if that particular shelf had been cleared on purpose. This needed investigation.

Back home the sun was still shining and while it wasn’t as warm as yesterday, it was certainly shorts and tee shirt weather. So, suitably dressed I went for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s when the camera gave me a “Card Error!” Ejected it and re-inserted. Same result. After trying every thing I could think of, I knew the game was up and went for a non-photography walk over to Condorrat to see if Spar had the miniatures. Nope, they didn’t have them either. Eventually I phoned the Whisky Shop in Glasgow and was told, Yes, they had hundreds of them. The reason for the dearth elsewhere was because of new legislation for licensed premises that means they have to pay an extra fee and some are not willing to do so. Solved. Going in to Glasgow tomorrow to purchase a couple.

Still no photo, but then thought I’d take a few shots of our Strawberry & Cream Aquilegia. Set up the tripod and a few bits and pieces. Used a new card this time and it all went well.  The old card went in the bin.

Sketch theme today was A Messy Place. There are no messy places in this house. ;-). Ok. I lied. It ended up like a development sheet from a Craft & Design project, but that covered the brief. It’s done and on time.

Tomorrow, Glasgow may be the preferred destination.

Out to lunch – 13 May 2019

Meeting Shona for lunch today.

First, though I took a trip to Bishopbriggs to get myself the shaver adaptor that caused the bother on Friday and also a card reader that would allow me to import the files from my Nikon CP950. The 950 is an ancient digital camera made in 1999 and is one of the best cameras for recording in infrared without adaptation. All you need to do is stick an R72 filter in front of it and shoot away as if it’s not there. An R72 filter is a very, very dark red. It’s so dark it looks totally opaque to the human eye. What it does is restrict almost all the visible light, only allowing through the light in the 720nm area of the spectrum, in other words, infrared. The great thing about infrared is that living green material is rendered as white and skies are black. Fake green ‘leaves’ like camouflage are rendered as black and it was this ability to differentiate fake from real that made it so important during WW2. I just wanted to do fancy stuff to the shots later in Photoshop, but since the CP950 uses Compact Flash memory cards and hardly anybody uses them now, it’s a bit of a problem getting the images into the computer. However, Currys had a card reader with CF capability, so that’s why I was up and out early to get one.

After that and after I’d salivated over the low resolution, but true infrared images, I went to meet Shona. I’d fitted a couple of locks for her in her flat and she was buying me lunch as a ‘Thank You’. We drove up to the new Milano Cafe where she had Spaghetti Carbonara and I had Spaghetti con Polpette ( meatballs). Her Carbonara looked the part, but the sauce in mine was a bit thin. Having said that, there was plenty on the plate and it was a good fun lunch.

Drove Shona home and then went out to get some photos in St Mo’s. Didn’t stay long as I had to exhibit my EDiM photos to Margie, because Gems were in the house today. Saw another red damselfly, a smaller one than yesterday’s, but it was too fast for me and I didn’t manage to capture it. I did get some IR shots with the CP950 which is held together with a heavy duty rubber band, because of a design flaw in the locking mechanism of the battery compartment. It was one of the IR photos that took PoD.

I’d already started on the sketch of the day whose topic was “Your favourite song”. My favourite song was “Raindogs” by Tom Waits and that’s what you see here. A Raindog.

Salsa tonight was energetic and exhausting. The completely new one was “Lotus”, with a reprise of “Lizzy” and “Stormtrooper”. I got the blame for Stormtrooper because the tee shirt I was wearing had a lego stormtrooper on it. Hazy must shoulder part of the blame for that because she’s the one who bought it for me!

Tomorrow looks like an interesting day with temperatures of 22ºc predicted! We may go out somewhere to celebrate.

May the Fourth be with you – 4 May 2019

The weather fairies warned us that today would be cold with a wind from the Arctic bringing the possibility of sleet and snow. It did feel cold when we woke and despite the blue sky and sunny spells, the temperature didn’t rise much. Since we had nowhere in particular to go, we just had a day at home. Sometimes it’s better to stay home at weekends and do your travelling on weekdays when other folk are working.

Scamp was about to throw out some tulip flowers when I saw the beautiful texture and colour of their petals glowing in the sunshine. I set a camera on the table and taped a bit of tracing paper behind the flowers to allow light through, but soften the view of the living room. It took a few shots and a lot of changes to settings before I got the shot I wanted.

<Technospeak>
I finally decided that one shot wouldn’t do the job. It needed too much depth of field and the only way I was going to get it was by taking at least five shots of the subject. One at the very front petal, one at the extreme back petal and at least three in between. Actually it took seven shots. The technique is called Focus Stacking and takes ages to post-process. The more shots you take, the more accurate your final shot will be, but the more time you’ll be stuck in the computer deleting bits of the different layers. Luckily ON1 2019 has focus stacking built in and the hard work is done for you. Like all AI things, it does need some human intervention to get it exactly right. That’s what I did … for about two hours, but I think the final image was worth the effort.
</Technospeak>

Scamp made her version of Minestrone soup for dinner and I made a lovely Tear ’n’ Share bread to go with it. It was a bit like a focaccia but with tomatoes in it and less oil. It should have had mozzarella in it too, but we only had green and blue mozzarella with a Use By date of the middle of March, so we decided not to use it. The dough was really sloppy but the bread was lovely and so was the soup.

Today’s challenge on EDiM was Star Wars Day. The closest I could get to it was the heads of four Lego Troopies. Just pen for a change and a challenge.

Tomorrow we may go dancing at the Record Factory.

Out in the countryside – 22 April 2019

We certainly were out in the countryside early this morning.

Scamp didn’t want to miss a minute of today’s beautiful weather. That’s why we were out and walking along the Forth & Clyde canal just after 10am. It seemed today was cycling day rather than Earth Day because we must have been passed by about twenty cyclists of varying degrees of fitness and skill as we walked the canal. We reached Twechar about 11am and started to walk back using the old railway as our path. That’s where today’s PoD came from. There was just a hint of blue haze as we made our way back to Auchinstarry, but I was fairly sure my software combination of Lightroom and ON1 would bring back the true colour and it did work out well. We crossed over at the Plantation and from there back on to the canal path to The Boathouse or “HEBO HOUSE” as it seems to have renamed itself. I actually like “HEBO HOUSE”. It’s got a Nordic sound to it. I’m sure the Kilsyth folk could spin a tale that it means “House by the still waters” in Lallans dialect.

Drove home and had lunch before Scamp parked her sun bed in the garden and waited for the sun to make itself known. I started on my task for the day which was to recreate the focaccia bread we’d bought in Embra on Saturday, “The day of the Signal Failure”. It was a bit of a faff making this sloppy dough. I started out making it in the food mixer, but thought I’d like to try hand kneading it, that’s when I found out just how sloppy and slithery it really was. Finally I gave in and got the Kenwood to do the heavy lifting. Bear in mind, this bread has 140ml of good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO to those in the know), whereas my usual bread dough has about 30ml. That’s how it became so slippery. However, once it was safely ensconced in its plastic tub it didn’t look so bad and after an hour it had completed its first rise. Next task was to slide it out of the tub, cut it in two and form it into two oval shapes on the baking trays. This part was easier than I’d anticipated, in fact, the worst was now past and the two focaccia breads have now been part consumed, although we did leave a bit for tomorrow. Focaccia is a dawdle as long as you have a Kenwood Chef mixer with a dough hook to do the hard work.

Basically that was it for the day. Scamp made an excellent Spaghetti dello Chef for dinner and we scoffed it and the best part of a bottle of white wine in the garden.

Spoke to JIC tonight and watched the final of University Challenge where Embra beat St Edmund Hall and the despicable Leo “Mmmmm”.

Tomorrow we’re off to Falkirk in the morning, hopefully a sunny Falkirk. Lunch for Scamp and coffee for me in the afternoon.

Not such a bright day – 16 April 2019

Today was Chris’s dad’s funeral. JIC had flown up specially for it last night.

He might have come up for the funeral, but before that JIC had to take a conference call with California and China. That’s just the kind of circles he moves in these days. Half past eight this morning and he was on Skype, doing work.

The funeral went well, I suppose. Well, as good as these things get. This was the first Humanist funeral I’d been to. I don’t confess to be a Christian. I suppose the closest I can get to religion is Buddhism, but even elements of that don’t work for me. I didn’t like the delivery of the woman who took the ceremony. Maybe she was new to it, but her delivery was too fast, too rushed with pauses that were too long and sometimes in the wrong places. It didn’t have the solemnity of a Church of Scotland funeral, but the delivery there has a style all of its own too and its not a pleasant one either. I’d guess it’s only someone who knew the person who has died who can really speak about them, from the heart, and that’s what the people listening want to hear.

We went to the ‘tea’ afterwards and met a few folk we knew. I liked the way Andy, JIC and Chris shared memories of Chris’s dad. That’s more like what folk do at a traditional ‘tea’ after a funeral. They remember the good bits in a person’s life and forgive the bad bits.

In the afternoon we went for a late lunch with JIC before he got the flight home. Unfortunately time seemed to slip away and the next thing I knew it was 5pm, we should have been on our way by then and we still hadn’t had our pudding. Eventually we got served and left for the drive into Glasgow. CITRAC was displaying its usual useless nonsense. “Nineteen minutes to the airport” it said. Actually it took nearly forty five minutes through what is euphemistically called ‘Rush Hour’, except nobody was rushing. Finally dropped him off at the airport to go through security. We turned round and started to drive home when Scamp suggested we go for a coffee at Braehead. That gave just enough time for the congestion to decrease and allow us to drive at a fairly steady pace back home through the rain. The plants need the rain Scamp said. She’s probably right.

Today’s PoD was made possible by that rain on the back bedroom window. I liked it. I called it “Through the fish-eyed lens of tear stained eyes” lyrics from The Final Cut by Roger Waters. Seemed somehow fitting.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing. Let’s hope it’s a happier day than today.

Up and Running – 12 April 2019

Well, it wasn’t quite so clever this morning, but by this evening it was indeed Up and Running.

This morning was marred by some swearing because the website still wasn’t behaving properly. Then I got the idea of getting Hazy to check it out from her end. Just before we left to go and see what Leonardo had been up to since he left Mr Belkevitz art class in Cumby High, I got a message from Hazy to say she could access the new website from her end down in Londinium. This was a relief because it meant that I could tick those damned nameservers off as DONE! It was also a pain because it meant the problem was at my end. Never mind, we’d drive in to Kelvingrove, see Dippy the diplodocus and also catch Leonardo’s exhibition of drawings. I didn’t actually expect to see him there, because he’s quite a famous artist now, but it would be good to see what JB had taught him.

When we got there, everyone else in Glasgow and the surroundings was there too. We drove round for a while, but the only place we could find wanted 40p to park for 30 mins. We were so far away it would take us a good 20 mins to reach the Art Galleries. That would leave us in deficit of 10 mins just to get back to the car if we just turned on our heels and walked back. What in the name of the wee man is in the heads of the people who make up these ridiculous parking charges. It’s not as if the parking places were in the middle of shops, just bays at the side of a road through playing fields. “Sorry, it can only be five a side today. That’s five MINUTES a side. Now off you go and play, your time starts now!”

Gave up. Did try to park within the Art Gallery carpark, but judging by the number of people cruising round, there weren’t many places to be had. It looked like musical chairs. When the music stops, try to find an empty chair. Drove home. Stopped at Costa for a coffee and a roll ’n’ sausage or a tuna wrap for Scamp.

When we got home I struggled for another hour or so with words and symbols I’d never seen before while Scamp went to Condorrat, partly to get out of the road, I think. Finally I too had had enough and I walked over to get dinner. Tonight’s dinner would be a large fish supper between us. On the way over I got the picture of the cherry blossom. As I saw it fluttering in the breeze I realised the first time I took a photo of that tree was around the year 2000 when the world was young, Brexit was a word that would be disallowed as not in the dictionary, in Scrabble and a 2 megapixel camera with an f2 lens was the marvel of the age. It was an Olympus DC-2000 Z. A beautiful camera that I sold to a colleague at school and which he still owns I think. Anyway this shot took PoD on a dull day using an Olympus E-PL5 with a 12-32mm lens and a much bigger 16 megapixel sensor. Sorry JIC just a little technospeak.

After the fish ’n’ chips we had a pineapple cake each, which actually had pineapple in it, but I don’t think the ‘cream’ had ever seen a cow. Then we watched another recorded episode of Portrait Artist of the Year, before I opened up my Linx 12 and got the surprise of the day when the website opened up in the new server. I won’t bore you with the details of how and why I knew it was the new server, JIC would just moan about no Technospeak warnings. It was working. Checked on the iMac and, yes, it was actually on the new server settings. In these days of instant results, you have to remember that Virgin Media takes at least 30 hours to realise that some settings have changed and refresh its lists or something. ‘Slow’ and ‘Treacle’ in the same sentence as ‘Virgin Media’ seems to be the name of the game.

Tomorrow, no computers until at least 12 noon. Maybe a trip to the countryside somewhere.

Happy Birthday to Me – 8 April 2019

Sixty nine years ago Mr and Mrs Campbell had a wee boy. Today he’s much older, but not a lot wiser.

I had a lovely day. Breakfast in bed then opened all my parcels. Lots of imaginative things and funny cards. Lots of sweeties too. You can never have too many sweeties. Went out to lunch at The Battlefield Rest. I had Bruschetta Verdura followed by Chicken and Salsiccia Cacciatore. Scamp had Fish Crêpe followed by Haddock Risotto. Neither of us had a space for pudding. Drove back home and ordered my new slice of webspace at a much lower price than my last one. Now I just have to get the virtual removal van to take the website over to its new home, or most likely, get some clever bots to do the job for me. With the help of my favourite daughter, of course who coincidentally I spoke to on the phone just as I was wiping the sweat from my forehead.

That left just enough time to get changed into salsa clothes to go out to class. First class was a bit frantic and really quite big now. Second class had also grown in numbers and I was getting a bit worried that I’d have to dance a Birthday Rueda. That’s when the the person who’s birthday it is, in this case me, has to stand in the centre of the rueda and dance with all the girls, one after the other while everyone else shouts and claps. It didn’t happen. Oh dear, what a shame!! Maybe it was because it was my birthday, but I managed to remember the new move, not its name, of course, but I did remember the sequence of moves.

On the way home I tried to grab a shot of the lights of the football stadium shining across to the Broadwood Loch. I took the shot from the car park at the loch. My apologies to all the people sitting in the cars who felt the sudden need to be elsewhere when they saw someone walking about with a camera!

When we came back I spoke to JIC on the phone and he explained how he uses his fancy coffee filter. Tomorrow I will try again with his information in my head.

To all those at Burnside in Skye, JIC and Sim, Hazy and Neil and of course Scamp, thank you for all the prezzies and cards. You all helped me have a brilliant day. Thank you.

Tomorrow I may go to the butchers to get some nice meaty protein. Scamp is going out with Isobel to tell tall tales of our holiday.

A much brighter day – 9 March 2019

Ah, this was more like it. Today we’d drive round the top.

Bright sunshine with just the prospect of a few showers too to keep us honest. Drove down the drive and turned left. Found this interesting PoD at Duntulm. Taken with a wide angle lens it almost looks like a panorama. The light was kind to us me for once and showed up the textures nicely. It also shows the remoteness of the landscape. I was looking for a new road to travel, but couldn’t find one that looked interesting, so we just continued to Uig, but when we got there the weather closed in again and we didn’t stop. We just continued on our way round to Portree.

We’d seen Portree yesterday and I doubted that there was much more to hold our interest, so after getting some fuel we drove down to Slighachan then on to the Fairy Pools on the Glenbrittle road. Unfortunately the brand new carpark looked full and at £5 flat fee was a bit expensive for what it was. We turned and drove back to Portree where we had lunch in Aros. For once I had a decent toast there. Bacon and Mushroom. I must remember that if we’re ever there again. Usually everything is slathered in heavy, oily cheese but this was just what the description said. Coffee was great too – it always is. Scamp wasn’t so impressed with her Tuna melt which seemed to be more melt than tuna. Such a pity after mine being so good.

Drove back to Staffin and went for another dancing practise. This time we filmed it to see how we looked when we were dancing. Learned a lot, especially that our posture isn’t as good as we thought. Also we must remember to look forward or to the side, not at our feet. We even entertained Jackie and Mairi with our waltz steps. They were kind enough not to laugh!

Scamp went back with Jackie and I drove down to the slip to get some moody sea shots. Couldn’t quite manage to find the right subjects. Saw this woman laying out what looked like a rolled up canvas on the ground behind the boat sheds and holding it down with rocks. Later I found out she is the Dutch landowner. At least that’s what Jackie and Murdo think after hearing my description of her. Finally got some shots from the ‘beach’ and I might, just might have seen the famous dinosaur’s footprints.

Home for dinner and to prepare for tomorrow’s journey back down the road.

Going our separate ways – 4 March 2019

I took the chance to slip the leash today, for a little while.

Scamp had the second gig of the year at Stepps and, as she didn’t need a roadie so I set off early to visit a new camera shop in Glasgow. The satnav lady knew where it was and got me there without a problem. They didn’t have the tripod I was looking for, but I didn’t really think they would have. It’s rather a niche model and I’ve read conflicting reports about it. I just wanted to have a look at it first hand before I parted with a hundred smackeroonies. The bloke in the shop couldn’t have been less interested:

“Do you have a Benbo Trekker tripod?”
”No. You have to order them from the website.”
“It’s just that I’d rather see it to make sure it will do what I want before I commit myself to buying it.”
”Yeah.”

Obviously not going for salesman of the month then?

Drove back in the general direction of Home using the satnav again. Because of the one-way system return was not the reverse of going, in this case, but the satnav lady knew this too. Once I was on the M8 heading roughly east I switched the satnav lady off and let her go back to sleep. Drove past Home and onward to Stirling where I turned off and took the back road up and over the Tak Ma Doon road, stopping near Loch Coulter to grab some shots to make a panorama later and also a grab shot of the straight road that looks as if it goes all the way to the Ochil Hills. The panorama became PoD. From there it was a lovely run in the springlike sunshine all the way home. Piece ’n’ flat sausage for my lunch and then after I’d dumped the images on the computer, I started today’s apple picture. It looks reasonable and hopefully you’ll be able to check my progress (or regress) soon on the website when I post the first seven. It’s an enjoyable task the painting and drawing of the apples, or at least it has been so far. May even branch out into ink or acrylic later. For just now it’s basically pencil and watercolour.

When Scamp came home I made a delicious tuna pasta. I say ‘delicious’, because we both agreed it was. Don’t know what I did differently this time, but I think it may have been some posh tomato concentrate. Must look for more of it the next time we’re buying Tesco.

Energetic beginners class in STUC and an advanced class where I couldn’t put a foot right. Every move a disaster. Even worse, I knew most of the moves. Just couldn’t get the moves into my head right. I think I just need to think less and go with the flow some times. Must practise Agamemnon this week to get rid of the rough edges. Still lots of laughs.

Tomorrow we have a free day. I think we may be going plant hunting again, although the weather looks rough. We’ll wait and see.

Out to lunch – 1 March 2019

Out for lunch at The Cotton House. Glad we booked!

First time we’ve been there and couldn’t get parked. Eventually found a space away round the back of the buildings. Had to walk for miles to get to the restaurant – slight exaggeration. I had Chicken noodle soup and Scamp had boring spring rolls. She had Chicken and Mushroom for a main I had the much more exciting Chicken with Ginger and Spring Rolls. It was good to have something other than our usual Chicken Chow Mien.

Came home via Lidl to get some fruit and maybe some coloured pencils which somebody on 28DL had said were worth trying. Apparently the artists in Kilsyth had thought so too, because there were none to be seen. We still managed to buy much more than ‘some fruit’ and came out with two laden bags.

Forgot to get my pills from Boots and petrol, so I went back out and returned by way of St Mo’s so I wouldn’t have to lug my tripod all the way from the house. My target today was one of the larch flowers which are so difficult to catch shooting freehand. The tripod did make it easier, but because the flowers are at the end of the branches, they move in even the slightest of breezes. Captured one successfully and that became PoD.

Basically, that was it for the day. Not the brightest day, the ISO the camera chose was 4000 which is quite high. A bit colder than usual too, but better to make the most of it because it looks like rain tomorrow.

Scamp, June and Isobel are going to a matinee of Sister Act tomorrow and I’ve volunteered to be taxi driver. That should give me some free time in the afternoon to get an apple drawing done. First one was done today. You’ll have to believe me because I aint going to post it!