Half an hour of sunshine – 30 November 2018

That’s about all we got today. Took the opportunity and said thank you very much.

Today’s weather didn’t appear to be fierce enough to qualify for a name, but it was a bit windy and a lot wet. Drove Scamp to the train station for her expedition into the heart of a Glasgow Christmas. Do you know, yesterday I used the word ‘sortie’ to describe today’s visit. Last night, when I was reading the blog entry for the 29th November 2017, I discovered that I’d used exactly the same word for exactly the same visit! A creature of habit, that’s me. After dropping Scamp off at the station in the rain, I drove to Tesco to get some veg for tonight’s dinner which was going to be Aloo Saag, but later changed to Paella.

Back home I’d intended tidying up the bedroom (again). Again, it didn’t happen. Got a phone call from the Environmental Health to say that the Rodent Investigator would call on Tuesday. That should give me plenty of time to tidy that room … perhaps!

In the afternoon, I decided that Paella would be a lot easier to make than Aloo Saag, so I drove to Kilsyth to get the makings. Waiting to pay at the till Scamp texted to say she was on the way home by train. Luckily the station is on the road home, so I just managed to get there before the train arrived in the rain. From just after 10am until about 2.30pm the rain had been doing its best to make life miserable in the central belt of Scotland. After we drove home the sun came out. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity and grabbed my camera bag, put on my leaky boots and walked over to St Mo’s. Caught a nice bit of blue sky with fluffy clouds and just a hint of sunshine. The rest of the sunshine, my dear readers is fake, but it looks the part and it the photo became PoD!

That about sums today up. It rained, then for half an hour the sun shone weakly before setting.

Tomorrow we may go shopping in Stirling. What fun!

Rain again – 29 November 2018

Yet more of the wet stuff, falling from the sky.

Not to worry though, I was booked with Fred today for coffee and a healthy dose of cynicism. Before that, a half-hearted attempt at tidying up the back bedroom. If you’d taken a photo of the room before I started and another when I’d finished, it would have been like one of those puzzle with two pictures with slight differences between them. You would have been hard put to find ten differences between the two pictures. Scamp meanwhile was out buying a ????????? (sorry, redacted Hazy) for a certain parcel. When she returned with the secret item (or was that items?) she parcelled them up, bagged them and posted them.

My coffee and politics was timetabled for 12 noon today. That’s early for Fred and me on a Thursday. What a horrible Thursday it was too. Wind with lots and lots of rain and a dark grey sky. Not an ideal day for driving, but much better than walking! Brexit was the main topic today. So much so that his Cortado got cold. Costa coffee is poor at the best of times, but cold Costa coffee is a sip too far. From Brexit we moved on to central heating boilers. I’m not sure how we did it, but wouldn’t it be nice if the newsreaders could use that technique to segue to something else, anything else. A few other topics met with our attention, but eventually it was time to go. The prohibitive parking regulations in Cumbersheugh make you twitchy if you’ve been sitting having coffee (and cold coffee) for too long, just incase the blue meanies are checking your car’s standing time.

Back home I wanted to put the holiday cases away and at the same time check out the loft for our unwanted visitors. To assist with both, we brought the Christmas decorations down and cleared out some unloved and unwanted junk. There’s no other way to describe a 47 year old rucksack, a beer brewing bucket with a gigantic dead spider in it, an equally unwanted beer barrel, a mouldy bag for a music keyboard and those were the interesting things! I made my way through the warren of scantlings that make up the roof trusses. I found the evidence I was half hoping, half dreading finding. It looked like droppings to me. Maybe mice or maybe something larger. I took a photo of the droppings with a 50p coin beside them to give and indication of scale for the man from NLC who failed to phone today.

Next job was to take the junk to the tip before we changed our minds and put them back up. No, the trapdoor was closed, the loft light was switched off and our minds were made up.

After disposing of them I took a run up the Palacerigg road in a short window of dry weather and got today’s PoD. It took a considerable bit of post-processing and a considerable time to get it up to a reasonable standard. I leave it up to you to decide if it was time well spent.

Tomorrow I will wait for the man from NLC to phone. Scamp may go in to Glasgow on an undisclosed sortie. Hopefully the rain will lessen.

Coffee with Val – 26 November 2018

Hopefully a caffeine injection would jolt me from my lassitude.

I don’t think the coffee did any good. It was Costa coffee after all, but the conversation with Val and his enthusiasm for his new-found interest in ornithology via his bird cam brightened my day. He’d built the bird cam from bits and kits bolted on to his Raspberry Pi micro computer. The results were impressive. So impressive that I began to think I might have a go at it. Then he began to explain the coding side of it in Python and another exotic programming languages and I could see hours and hours of error trapping and bug finding in lines and lines of code. I’ve done that in the past and know just how much of my life I sacrificed to it. No, I decided. I’d waste my time and money on hands-on photography instead.

My hands-on photography today was done along the banks of the Luggie Water and the PoD is of a couple of leaves of grass with some raindrops. Simple and quite effective.

Got home and found an email from ON1 explaining how to fix my problem. I tried it and it didn’t work. Another email to the Techys. Then it was time for dinner (Spaghetti a la Campbell). Basically it’s just mixing together stuff that’s in the fridge and with some base tomato sauce and chucking in some spaghetti. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Today’s mixture of bacon, cherry tomatoes, onions and garlic with a good tin of tomatoes got a better than average vote from both of us.

Next we were out to Salsa. Really small class for the 7.30 group. Most unusual for this crowd. In fact it now looks as if we will be banished to the ‘wee room’ next week. That’s something that hasn’t happened for ages. Scamp reckons it’s because Jamie G has been off working at his real job or on holiday somewhere for odd Mondays since the summer. I think he’s right. When word gets out that he’s not here, the class numbers plummet. We caused a stir tonight as well when I told Shannon in front of the class that we wouldn’t be going to the Christmas Ball on Saturday because the ticket says 9.00pm start and now it looks like it won’t start until around 11pm. That’s too late for us. We’re not like the youngsters who are happy to dance until the early hours. We’d expected to be leaving around 11pm, not starting then. I think the galling thing is that she knew about this change, but kept it a secret. That’s the really unfair part of it. Oh well, the cat is out of the bag now and she can lump it, because we don’t like it.

Got another email from the Techys at ON1 with a file that sorted out the problem I’d had. I have to applaud their speedy response to questions and problems. That’s what makes you stay with a company.

Tomorrow Scamp has a lunch appointment and I may go take some photos.

Driving, Driving, Driving – 14 November 2018

With a bit of Dancing too!

Woke early and we were on the road and in the torrential rain. Ran into the first traffic jam within 100m. Took a diversion and we were doing well until we hit the second traffic jam at the other end of town. Another diversion and we picked up June and pointed the Juke at Stobhill. Motorway started slowing down near our turn off and then the sat nav decided we’d like to go by the ‘scenic route’, rather than the one we usually drive. That added another traffic jam to our list, but we made it to the hospital with minutes to spare, literally. I drove back home the sensible way and waited for Scamp to request a taxi.

After an hour or so I got the phone call and drove in along a much quieter M80 and picked up the much relieved sisters. The offending lump was not malignant. Dropped June off at Shona’s and headed home again.  Still raining.

After lunch we packed our bags and drove in to Blackfriars for a tortuous Jive class followed by an improving Waltz class and then finally an impossible Quickstep where Michael demonstrated not only the FishTails but also the little run you see them doing on Strictly. It may be a week or so before we’re ready for that!  It rained all the way in and all the way home

Dinner was Paella and the PoD is a hash up of a picture of the old College of Building & Printing which later became the City of Glasgow College and is now just a slab of glass and concrete that sits unloved in the centre of the city. Solarized the image in Lightroom then adjusted the Shadow, Exposure and Highlight sliders until the colours you see here appeared. Certainly not my best shot, but it ticks the box.

Tomorrow another early rise. Even earlier than today.

The day that never really started – 11 November 2018

One of those days that started off dull and never really improved.

We half expected to go in and visit Shona in hospital today, but Scamp got a message around midday to say that she was probably getting out. She was just waiting for her blood test results, so we waited … and waited and finally Scamp sent her a text asking how things were going. Shona’s reply was that she didn’t know if she was getting out or not.

The weather hadn’t improved in the afternoon so there was no real encouragement to go out anywhere. From the number of cars still parked along the street, it appeared that everyone else thought exactly the same thing.

We watched an ‘interesting’ Brazilian GP where Mad Max was leading the race until he came a cropper with Esteban Ocon who was attempting to unlap himself and clumsily took Verstappen out and allowed Hamilton to get the lead back. Max never really recovered and ended up in a pushing and shoving match with Ocon after the race. He was given two days of ‘community service’ and quite right too. He really has to learn to grow up. We had just been saying that we thought he HAD matured since last year when this storm in a teacup happened.

After the race was over I tried a few shots of an old broken table knife for PoD. When I went up the the back bedroom to take the shots the light on the trees outside was simply beautiful. We talk about the Golden Hour. This was a golden five minutes. It came, it got brighter and then faded away in less than five minutes. I got a few shots in those five minutes, but the hills were clouded over in the background and it was only a small strip of golden tree with heavy grain, so no chance they could he PoD. After dinner (Haddock Loin on Bacon, Peas and Lentils) I tried again and got a better shot. The one you can see at the top of the page. Just think, that knife is older than me probably.

Well, that was it for the day. Nothing else to report. Tomorrow will be better. Hopefully we’ll get that phone call from Shona for a start!

“If you wanna see the sunrise …” – 9 November 2018

“… Honey, I know where.”

Driving home at 7.25am we saw a glorious sunrise over Muirhead from the M80, but the day had started much earlier…

Alarm was set for 6am. Up and out after a mouthful of breakfast to pick up Shona and take her in to Glasgow Royal for her much needed op. Scamp was accompanying her and we thought she and Shona would be there for an hour at least, but I was just paying for parking when Scamp phoned to say she was ready to come home. Luckily I had time to cancel my parking request and get my money back!

Driving home is when we saw the sunrise you too can see at the top of the page. I can’t remember when I last saw a sunrise. Today’s was glorious. Back home it was coffee time before we got down to work. Made the soup and checked that the stew I’d made yesterday for the steak pie was ok and it was. Scamp was busy making her pear tart and when it went in to the oven, I made a wee loaf, hand made this time. Finally Scamp made ratatouille also know rather confusingly as ”Rats”. With us ready to go for tonight’s dinner, we headed off to Falkirk for a quick light lunch at Calders, our favourite garden centre.

When we got home there was just enough time to go for a walk to St Mo’s for some photos. None of them were deemed good enough to knock the sunrise off PoD position.  Technically I didn’t ‘take’ the photo, it’s a screen dump from my dash cam, but I’m claiming artistic ownership.

Visitors arrived on time and we made a night of it. I was most impressed with Scamp’s Pear Tart and only just in second place was my Steak Pie.

Tomorrow will be a lazy day. By the way, the title of this blog came from “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat” by Bob Dylan.

A dull day – 7 November 2018

Nothing much happened to brighten the day apart from mince ’n’ tatties.

Out early with Colin to a funeral in Airdrie for one of our old colleagues. As usual at funerals we both met folk we hadn’t seen for years.

Came home, got changed and Scamp and I were off to Glasgow for Dancin’. Learned a new part of the Lindy Hop routine. Our first Waltz was amazing. We hardly put a foot wrong. Later in the routines our quality slipped, but we were complimented by both teachers who confirmed that we were certainly improving greatly. Quickstep was ok until we tried the Fishtails’ which looked easy until we tried it. I video’d Michael and Anne Marie dancing it and we can practise it for next week.

I grabbed a couple of shots of the GOMA on the way home, and home is were we went after a coffee and a discussion of our progress in Nero.

Back home I took some time processing the shots in Lightroom and ON1 and what you see at the top is the PoD. The GOMA and 110 Queen Street in one frame with a decent sky looks interesting.
Mince ’n’ Tatties with Cabbage for dinner.

Drove in to Glasgow tonight and were disappointed to discover that Shannon was booked to teach the 7.30 class, because Jamie wasn’t there. We didn’t stay. There seem to be fewer and fewer classes by Jamie recently. He is a great teacher, but only when he’s there. Neither of us could stomach a full hour of class being taught by Shannon. She raises nit-picking to an art form and also, you simply don’t get a chance to dance. All she seems to do is repeat, repeat, repeat the same move until everyone is pig sick of it. Worst of all, she thinks she’s a good teacher. Delusional. I don’t know, we’ve just cancelled the gym and swim this week (the letter was posted today). Hopefully we won’t have to take time off from salsa too. That would probably be a bridge too far. Something needs to be done by Academia de Salsa in the mean time. Lots of good teachers have left the group or had their teaching commitment drastically reduced. What was once a five strong teaching team is now reduced to two (if you count Shannon). There are three junior instructors, but we’ve forgotten much more than they’ll ever know, and I purposefully didn’t include Bachata and Cross Body teachers as that’s not salsa. Not real salsa. A difficult and disappointing situation. I don’t really mind driving for half an hour through mental traffic on a Monday and a Wednesday to get to the STUC building, but I really, really object to doing that only to find it’s not the advertised teacher taking the class.

So that was today. Not the best day ever, but it can only get better. No plans for tomorrow, but the weather doesn’t look like improving.

No gym, no swim, no more – 6 November 2018

Today we agreed to cancel our subscription the the Westerwood money pit.

We agreed, reluctantly, that we weren’t using the facilities at Westerwood. We don’t use the gym to its full extent and basically as we are more concerned with our cardio fitness rather than muscle building, we can achieve that easily with our three hours plus of dancing a week. The pool was the biggest draw for us, but with the increase of people using the spa facilities and getting free use of the pool, it was becoming a hit or a miss getting enough room in the pool to actually swim. Having to negotiate the little groups of girls standing in clumps in the pool wasn’t fun. I will definitely miss the steam room, especially on those days when I have a cold hanging over me. The steam room really did seem to help clear my tubes. I won’t miss the constant repairs that seemed to take much longer than necessary. I will also not miss the “Waterbabies” classes that took up half the already busy pool. In the last year, I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve done the gym/swim thing. I will have to make other arrangements for Mondays, but that shouldn’t really be a problem. The cancellation letter has been written and signed by both of us and the standing order has been cancelled. Anyone want to buy a nearly-new gym bag?

It was a bright morning this morning, but it went rapidly downhill. By 3pm when I finally dragged myself and the “Big Dog” over to St Mo’s, the light was fading away. Today’s PoD was one of the first shots I took. It was hand-held at 1/8th sec and if fairly sharp for that shutter speed. It’s been altered quite a lot since it was taken. General levels and cropping in Lightroom and more adventurous arty stuff in ON1 2018. Most significant was the injection of a new sky and also the reflection of it in the water. I’m now tempted to buy the 2019 version which has even more bells and whistles. It’s still at the Beta stage with the promise of the full thing in mid November. Perhaps I’ll wait for that.

Lovely dinner tonight which was Mince & Tatties with Mashed Turnip & Carrots. Of course, you can’t have M&T without Beetroot, now can you JIC? Scamp had the vegetables bolstered by veggie sausages.

I decided that after yesterday’s rally cross stuff over the Tak Ma Doon, I’d better wash the car. It was a pleasant enough day for it, especially in the early afternoon. Didn’t take too long either.

Tomorrow morning I’m going with Colin Campbell to Maureen Watson’s funeral in Airdrie. Another death that shook me more than I’d expected.

Out looking for foties – 5 November 2018

It’s Monday. It’s a Gems day. I need an excuse to get out.

Dull, damp, uninspiring morning. Hoping it would get better (brighter) later, I trawled through some photos in Flickr looking for inspiration. Saw a photo of Loch Lomond with the hills just dusted with snow. That would do. Millarochy Bay would be good if the light got a bit better. As one o’ clock drew nearer and no decent light appeared, I was getting worried that it might end up being the Luggie Water or even St Mo’s again, then I had a brainwave, or something like it. I’d go up over the Tak Ma Doon road and see what the weather was like on the other side of the hills, and that’s what I did.

Passed a few cyclists on the climb of the Tak Ma Doon into the clouds and was glad I was in a car. Had a near miss with a wee white Citroen near the top of the climb, but I needn’t have worried. The wee thing looked as if it was made from paper-thin steel and would probably just have bounced off the Juke and gone flying over the dyke and down the hill using the ‘alternative route’. Crested the final rise and yes, the weather did look a bit lighter on the other side, although it was difficult to be sure because I was still in the low cloud. Noticed that the Faughlin Reservoir is now a stocked trout fishery with a stonking price of £25 per day. I used to fish it regularly some years ago for nothing. Then I remembered that that was thirty years ago! Drove on to Carron Reservoir and parked for a very realistic £2.

Walked up to past the dam and took some shots near a wooden seat dedicated to Pam Jackson, but couldn’t find anything to say who she was.
Walked on and tried some bracketed exposures of the loch, but the light was fading, so I headed back to the car.

The PoD was taken near that seat and nearly got my feet wet again. Processed in ON1 2018 and in Lightroom. It gives the feel of the place. I would go back again on a day when the light was better.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but I’m sure something will come up to grab our attention.

Old haunts – 3 November 2018

Today we went for a curry in Hamilton.

Since my brother mentioned he and his wife were going to the Bombay Cottage I’ve been hinting at Scamp that we should go back there for lunch. Today was that day. It was a dismal, dull, wet day and a curry for lunch sounded just the job. Parked across from the restaurant and got a window seat to boot! Food was excellent and the nan bread was the biggest I’ve ever seen. I’d have taken a photo but I hadn’t brought the ultra wide angle lens! Really, it must have been over 60cm long. Scamp reckons it’s been ten years since we’ve been there. I’m hoping it won’t be another ten years before we’re back.

After lunch we walked down into what used to be Hamilton town centre. This place used to be bustling on a Saturday afternoon, wet or not. Today all that was missing was the tumbleweed rolling down the road. It was described by one of the shopkeepers as “a ghost town”. The streets were empty, half the shops were closed and boarded up and even the covered shopping centre was almost empty of customers. Another Scottish town that’s had the heart ripped out of it. We bought some fish for tomorrow’s dinner and that was about it. Couldn’t believe the difference in this once thriving town. I managed to get the makings of today’s PoD. A shot of Keith’s Building in Cadzow street. This building has a chequered history to say the least. Some dodgy goings on used to happen in and around it, way back in the late ’60s. Before we came home we visited Hazy’s favourite shop in Hamilton. The Ink Spot. Part stationery shop, part art shop, part interesting little nicknack shop. An Aladdin’s cave of goodies. It hasn’t changed Hazy!

Drove home and although the streets were drying there were dark clouds seeming to drape down right to the horizon all the way round. Went to Tesco on the way home to get milk and a bottle of wine to cheer us up tonight. We didn’t drink it all … honest! Spoke to Hazy and Neil on Skype until the connection started to fail on their end, after that we literally spoke to the icon of Hazy on our end although they were receiving both sound and video on their end.

Spent an hour working the first version of today’s PoD up on ON1, only for it to go !PoP! and leave me with nothing. Went to speak to Duncan on the phone while I cooled down, then after I was done, calmly started again. This time I saved often between important changes and of course it didn’t go !PoP! this time and the backups I’d made weren’t needed. But, if I hadn’t made those backups … !

Sketched a bit tonight using a mixture of fountain pen and dipper pen. I’m now looking for some brown / sepia fountain pen ink. I think it will need to be on-line!

Tomorrow? Apart from trout for dinner, there are no plans. It’s supposed to be a better day than today. That wouldn’t be difficult.