Out on two wheels again – 23 September 2018

Just a short run to make sure the lungs and legs are still up to cycling after the cold virus has had its wicked way.

It was a beautiful sunny morning. Almost a sin to waste it sitting up in bed reading. Almost a sin, but not quite. Unless reading in bed is now a sin.

However, all good things must come to an end and I did eventually drag myself away from my Kindle and in to the shower, thence to go downstairs where Scamp was already off buying Tesco. Yesterday she had been cutting flowers that had been battered by Wednesday’s wind. She had put them in a vase and it was sitting on the table in the living room where the light pouring in through the vertical blinds was lighting it up and throwing wonderful shadows on the table. Now that would make a good picture I said to myself. Set up the Samyang on the Oly and grabbed a few shots from different distances and angles until I was sure I’d have something decent. At least one in the bag!

I decided this good weather wasn’t going to last, so I did what I’d committed myself to yesterday and got dressed for winter cycling. Layer upon layer of thin clothes with shorts and longs, because the temperature was only just in double figures and it was just past midday. When Scamp returned with Tesco in two shopping bags, I left for a short run. Short runs never really stay short if the traffic is light and the light is good. That’s how it was today. I tried to find some swallows because I thought I’d seen and heard some last week, but alas I may have been mistaken. So definitely no swallows this is week and this is week 39. I tried to find some photos, but try as I might, there was nothing there that interested me today. Finally I gave up and made my way home, and lunch. While I was out, Scamp took brush, sponge and hot water in hand and washed her car. Not that it needed it, eh, Scamp?

<Technospeak>
After lunch I started looking at today’s captures on Lightroom and decided that the flower shots from the morning were the best of the bunch, even if I’d forgotten to set the focus. It’s so hard to go back to a manual focus lens again! Luckily I’d set a fairly small aperture and this gave me enough DOF to make the shot look as if it was in focus. It took a bit of work in Lightroom to get the levels the way I wanted them and a bit more work in ON1 to push the background out of focus enough to concentrate the eye on the flowers. Finally I returned to LR to add a bit of warmth to the shot and Bingo it was done! PoD done!
</Technospeak>

Dinner was Friday’s soup followed by yesterday’s curry reheated. Just your typical Sunday dinner!

Tomorrow we may take Big Red (that may be the Juke’s new name) out for a spin if the weather is good.

I have seen the future and it works – 15 September 2018

Electricity travels at almost the speed of light. Diesel is hard to spell and is a fossil fuel.

Today we took the ‘leccy train to Embra. We didn’t intentionally go the ‘leccy route. It just happened that the train we were waiting for was powered by the new clean, invisible power source. The Stirling train that preceded it was powered by old fashioned, smelly, hard to spell deisildesil, diesel. That’s because they don’t have electricity in Stirling yet. They still have gas lights in the street and coal fires. I do feel sorry for them.

The super fast ‘leccy train took longer than the diesel trains they are replacing. Maybe it was cheap, slow electricity they were using or maybe it was Abellio who now run Scotrail who couldn’t manage the rail system properly. Surely not! Anyway, we got to Haymarket and walked up the road for morning coffee in Nero, but not before I set the Samyang loose in Ladyfield which is a great canyon between large imposing office blocks. That’s where PoD came from. I really like the perspective this lens gives. With one in the bag, I could enjoy my morning coffee.

After that we walked up through the Grassmarket to see if anyone was actually selling grass. They weren’t, but I wasn’t surprised because I hadn’t seen anyone selling hay at Haymarket. (Sounds better with a Chic Murray delivery.) From there we headed for the Royal Mile which was mobbed. I was beginning to think that there had been an extension to the Fringe Festival, but it was just the usual bunch of escapologists, jugglers and fire eaters performing for the tourists. We’re not tourists, we LIVE in Scotland. There did seem to be quite a lot of tourists about, but I later checked and the Norwegian Jade cruise ship was docked at Leith, so that probably explained things.

We walked back down through the Old Town and from there along George Street, then back along Rose Street, eventually giving up and heading for the tea room at the National Gallery where our lunch was a shared baguette of smoked salmon with leaves and mayo and a two cups of tea, paper cups, to Scamp’s disgust. After our light lunch we just got the train home. We’d had a bit of a wander around the Capital and were ready to return to the real world.

It was a dull day weatherwise with nothing much to recommend it. I took a few more photos to test out the ability of the Samyang, but am fairly confident that at f8 or better it can handle almost anything I can throw at it. It’s a keeper, for sure.

Got the ‘leccy train back home and it was fast! Impressively so. Shave a good 10 minutes off a 45 minute journey. The folk in Stirling don’t know what they’re missing. They thought it was a great thing last year when the diesel trains replaced the steam trains they’d had for years. Not to mention that the carriages had roofs, not like the open carriages they’d had before.

Tomorrow it’s the Cumbersheugh 10k, so if we’re not out by 10am we’re locked in until midday. I don’t suppose we’ll mind as the weather is to be ‘Scottish’. Hopefully dancing later.

Shiny and clean again – 12 September 2018

No drilling the wall this morning, but we were up early anyway.

I thought that as the car would be going in for its first service next week, I should make an effort and give it a bit of a wash and brush up. It didn’t take too long and then I took it for a run to Craigmarloch to dry it off. Of course, when I was coming back the rain came on to wash away any remaining suds. Saw the strangest thing when I got to the Broadwood roundabout. The lights were at green for me, but one bloke held at the red light decided he could nip in in front of me, then seemed to realise that the roundabout IS actually light controlled. By this time he was halfway across the road and blocking both lanes. When he’d sheepishly reversed back behind the line, I just managed to get past on amber. What a numpty. Having said that, I’ve done the same thing myself a few times.

Drove a clean car in to Glasgow to go to ballroom class. Managed to get a few shots of the shiny reflective building with the new toy, but the PoD was a view of Buchanan Galleries through the glass brick windows of the car park.

Waltz is getting smoother. Quickstep is getting quicker and Lindy Hops are as bad as ever. Almost a private lesson today as the rest of the class were rated as ‘Beginners’ and I think we are now ‘Improvers’. Knee was sore, but I had taken Scamp’s advice and downed a couple of Paracetamol before I left the house and they kept things manageable.

After class, Scamp had business in town and I went for a browse in CassArt. Didn’t find anything but students with lists of things to buy for their courses and grants that no doubt would be reducing by the minute.

Drove home and discovered that Jamie G was not taking the salsa class tonight. Nobody was willing to say who the teacher would be, which can only mean one thing, or one person. We made the decision that it was too wet to go tonight with no sign of any fun in the class. We’d supplement our Salsa time on Sunday with a Sunday Social instead, hopefully.

Tomorrow we’re booked for lunch at a posh fish and chip shop in The Barras!

What’s he building in there? – 11 September 2018

Title courtesy of Tom Waits, fitted this morning perfectly.

We have been in the habit of having breakfast in bed most mornings, but this morning our new next door neighbour decided it was time for us to stop this leisurely pursuit when he started drilling into the wall on the other side with a hammer drill. I don’t know what he was doing, but by the sound of it, he was hoping to strike oil, or maybe open a hole into our bedroom so he could have a word with us. I imagine he was putting up shelving in his attic which would be about level with our upstairs, his being a single storey and ours being a double. Anyway, my book was getting boring and his boring was getting on my nerves, so I got up, dressed and went down stairs. That’s when the drilling in the wall stopped!

I had intended to go looking for another body repair shop to fix the scrape in the car door today, but before I could really do that, I had to at least try to clean it up a bit. When I got started with a cloth and some Brasso (just the same as T Cut, but a fraction of the price), I found that the paint layer was undamaged. One tiny little chip and that was all. I decided to forego the expense of the body shop until it’s necessary, some time in the next two years. Procrastination is the name of the game! I’d just wash the car instead. That’s when the rain started. Did I say “Procrastination”? Maybe I’d wash the car tomorrow. The rain was getting heavier anyway.

It stayed raining for most of the afternoon, at least until the DPD man came with two parcels. One contained coffee and the other my new, well new to me, Samyang 7.5mm. I stuck it on the camera and took a few shots of the living room and laughed at the size of it, the living room, that is. I now know how estate agents get those shots of enormous rooms. Super Wide Angle Lenses, that’s how. I took some of the garden too and noticed that the rain had stopped. Too late to wash the car now, there were new toys to play with!

Walked round a bit of Broadwood Loch and got the PoD above and a whole lot of others besides. The lens is a lot bigger and bulkier that the slim Oly 9mm, but there are a host more controls. The images it creates are sharp and really well saturated. I think this one’s a keeper. It better be, it’s paid for now.

Dinner tonight was fish pie. Very tasty. Followed by Apple Pie using our own James Grieve apples and this is where the InterWeb is such a mine of sometimes useless and often fascinating information. Did you know that most apple trees have diploid chromosomes? I’m sure one or two of you out there are saying “Doesn’t everyone know that they have two chromosomes?”. The rest of us are saying “Does it make them taste better?” Most people know that you have to cross fertilise apple trees, that is you can’t have two apple trees of the same variety and hope that they will pollenate each other, but did you know that some trees are partially self fertilising? Apparently it all depends on the spring weather. If it’s a dry, warm spring, the chances of success are better than if it’s the damp and cold spring weather we usually have. Our James Grieve is a partially self fertilising and that brings me round to how I found out all this information and so much more. You see, I was just wondering if it was “I before E” in Grieve. It was, but I got drawn away from my spell checking into the private lives of our apple trees. Aren’t computers wonderful. You’d never go and look up an encyclopaedia to check a spelling and get drawn in like you can on a computer. With that thought I’ll finish this blog for today.

Tomorrow we’re dancing in the afternoon and hopefully at night too.

Sorting out problems – 5 September 2018

As well as sorting problems, we also did a bit of dancing.

We were out fairly early and in Glasgow for a 12 o’ clock start. We started with waltz and picked up another few tips, just tweaks really. Some made little difference, others made things a lot easier. Next it was Quickstep to which we added a few more steps. Lastly a couple of runs through our Tango. In the second half there were two Jive classes running concurrently with two teachers again, now that Ann Marie had returned from Oz. Only three of us today, so it was almost a private lesson. We added to last week’s Lindy Hops and practised The Dance of the Seven Spins once more.

When we came back I phoned the plumber and ordered the fitting of the new kitchen tap. He’s coming tomorrow and hopefully by tomorrow afternoon we should have a shiny new tap that doesn’t drip. Problem one dealt with.

Later in the afternoon I took the panda on in the Dewdrop for a photoshoot and to get some more brambles (just over half a kilo). This was to be a simpler setup than yesterday. This would be a mountain climbing panda. Actually it’s a big boulder that somebody has hit with a van or a lorry. I know how that’s done now! The result was a big broken corner that made a lovely rock face of a mountain. The background was a sunset taken from the upstairs back window about a year ago. It’s amazing the lies you can tell with a computer, a decent bit of software and a bit of imagination.

Dancing tonight was a mixed lot. Far too many men, so I sat out for a while, only for more folk to join. That’s when I started writing this blog. Then I got fed up and danced for the last twenty minutes of the class.

When we came home, in fact just five minutes ago, I finally signed up for AppleCare. I think their website was having a bad day the last time I tried to sign up. So now I have two extra years insurance on the iMac, another weight off my mind. Problem two sorted.

Hopefully I’ll get my knee sorted tomorrow at the physio and that will be another tick in another box. Always hopeful. Totally unlike me!  Oh yes, and fingers still crossed, but the leeks survived the day.  The bird keeper outer is working DV.

Taking lego into the real world – 4 September 2018

Something I hadn’t thought about before I saw there was a group on Flickr devoted to it. So I tried it, and it worked.

The day began with Scamp going out for coffee with one of her friends. I stayed in, half intending to slap some watercolour on a bit of paper, but inspiration wasn’t there, so I started into my plan to thwart those pesky birds I suspect of stealing my leeks. Twice, or is it three times now, I’ve planted leeks and watered them in, only to find that they’d disappeared the next morning. JIC has now had the same problem. I don’t think it’s slugs because there is no sparkly slime across the raised bed and besides it’s been dosed twice now with slug nemesis nematodes. It must be birds. When I asked Colin last week, he agreed that the wee feathered buggers were the culprits. I had thought of buying a shotgun, but that was a bit severe and besides, the pellets would probably damage the kale that’s growing quite well now. Then there would be the noise and I don’t want the polis coming to the door asking if I have a license for a firearm. No prevention is better than cure, quieter and less damaging to the environment too.
I’d already planned it out, sort of, so I got some bamboo canes and cut them to size then used cable ties to tie them together at the top to … Now look, this is far too difficult to describe. Imagine a ridge tent. An inefficient ridge tent because it’s covered, not with canvas, but with netting. That’s the basis of the bird keeper outer. Hopefully it will work. We shall see in the morning. If the leeks are still there then it was a success. If not it’s on to the internet to find a supplier of shotguns. Ebay, that’s the place to go. Ebay for the Dark Web perhaps.

When Scamp came home the bird keeper outer was finished and looking … reasonable. I had just finished my lunch and was thinking that I might go out in the sunshine and take some of my lego weemen out for a run on the Dewdrop. Weemen were originally all men, but now some female minifigs have made their way into their midst but the name can still apply because the singular for a woman in West Central Scots is Wummin and the plural is Weemen, so it works. Set up the scenario on a bit of waste ground covered with big rough chipping. Set the camera up on a tripod and shot ten or so frames while moving the lady road mender around between each. Back home I layered up the shots and used masks to remove the bits I didn’t want and reveal the weemen. Like the bird keeper outer it’s easier to see than explain and it doesn’t need any cable ties either. The resulting image is PoD.

I think we are on our way to getting the dripping tap fixed. Unfortunately it looks like we’ll need a new tap, rather than fixing the old one. I was coming round to that conclusion after so many plumbers seemed to reject the idea of fixing the old tap. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I just want the Japanese water torture to stop. It’s driving me more crazy than normal.

Guess what happened today. Michael phoned to change the time of tomorrow’s class to an hour earlier. Actually it suits us better to go then, because it opens up the afternoon. So dancing tomorrow.

Two Firsts & A Second! – 30 August 2018

Four quid too!

Scamp was out in the morning and that gave me time to start painting my latest masterpiece. It was to be an abstract seascape. I tried using the Inktense sticks, but they didn’t look right once they were down. I think the colours are too ‘cold’, especially the blues. I’ll probably just paint over it again with acrylic tomorrow.

After that and after hanging out the washing, I went to meet Val and Colin. Coffees all round. Fred was missing because he’d to stay in to keep the plumbers on the right lines when they were rebuilding his bathroom. Colin very kindly brought my photos and painting back from the flower show, along with my winnings. Four quid for two firsts and a second! The little piggy watercolour got a first and the landscape of Quiraing also got a first in the photography section. My favourite landscape, Murdo’s old tractor with the Quiraing behind it only got a second. Now it could have been that there were on two photographs and one painting in the competition, I don’t know because we were down in England at the time, but Colin did say that competition was tough, so I’m thinking that’s good enough for me. I’m now considering entering the little piggy in the Venice Biennale. I think it has a fighting chance.

Came home and realised that I didn’t have a photo for today, so got my cycling shorts and long sleeved top on and took the Dewdrop out on the back road to Kirkintilloch. That’s where I got the PoD. I also got a fairly good shot of these four horses in a field under a glowering sky, but the landscape felt more luminous, so it won.

Fell off the bike on the way back. I think the SPDs need some adjustment or maybe some grease. Left shoe is sticking a lot. Amazingly, the right pedal is fine although it’s caked in dried mud. The left one is shiny clean and it’s the one that’s sticking. Can’t fathom it out. I’ll grease them and see if that helps. No harm done in the fall, just my pride, but luckily there was no-one there to see me!

Dinner tonight deserves special mention. It was Chicken Milanese with potatoes and a big hunk of broccoli. Scamp showing just how good a cook she is. Absolutely delicious.

Tomorrow Scamp is out to lunch with the witches. May take the Dewdrop out again along the same road as today. I’ve a hankering to climb the Kirky Volcano. It’s actually an old pit bing, but from certain angles it looks like a volcano.

Dancing in the morning – 29 August 2018

Today Michael had deemed that the dance lesson would be in the morning.

That meant an earlyish rise and we were out by 10.15am. In Glasgow we started with a fairly lengthy waltz lesson covering all we’d learned so far with Michael tweaking and gently adjusting it. Things were beginning to make more sense. Next was quickstep and that wasn’t much clearer than it had been before. I’d forgotten just how fast it was. Tango was much better. Got the head movement and the staccato style of the dance better. Today we had to change partners for a while just to see how the other half danced! Finally we were on to Jive, but not the Dance of the Seven Spins, well not at first. We started with the Ladles and then went on to the Lindy Hop. Mental wee moves from the 1920s. I don’t know what they were drinking when they invented it, but I’d like to taste it! And that’s when the Seven Spins came back in to complete the sequence. It did all fit together after all.

Coffee afterwards to calm down and take stock. Yes, we certainly are improving. Michael spent some time with us, correcting mistakes, but not nearly as much as he spent with the other couples. We must be improving. On the way to coffee we passed Hutcheson’s Hospital grabbing a ray of sunlight and shining brightly. That became PoD. I say ’became’ because it is actually a Vertorama, a made up name for a vertical panorama. It’s made up of two shots, one of the top down almost to the start of the street and another of the foreground cobbles combined in Lightroom and then processed a bit to brighten up the white building.

Went for a walk when we came back, just over to St Mo’s, but there really wasn’t much of interest there.

Salsa at night was fairly interesting in the first class (7.30) but I just can’t get into that second class. Maybe my dancing brain is exhausted by the end of the day but it just seems a bit of a drag. I think we’ve agreed to dismiss it from our dancing day.

Tomorrow, Scamp has a coffee booked with Shona in the morning and I have coffee booked with Colin and Val in the afternoon. Fred is supervising the fitting out of his new bathroom.

One in the bag? What bag? – 23 August 2018

Another early rise!

Up at 6.15am after about 4.5 hours sleep. Taxi came at 7am and a driver from Pakistan took us to the airport an kept us entertained with stories of a gay breakup, the current weather in Pakistan and the expectations of a new era under a new political leader. Unfortunately the new era was in Pakistan, not Brexit shackled UK. His flow of consciousness ended with an exhortation to try an automatic drive car next time. “You’ll never go back to manual”, he said.

Had a coffee in Caledonian at the airport. Possibly the worst run restaurant in Glasgow, if not the world. Today we were served promptly, but others were complaining loudly and getting nowhere. When it came to paying, nobody wanted to take our money. There were some dazed looking servers going around doing anything but serve. Really, giving somebody a credit card machine isn’t enough. You have to teach them how to use them and also how to respond to a customer trying to catch your eye. Eventually Scamp had to go to the bar and pay there. All this on a really quiet weekday. Heaven knows what it will be like at a busy weekend in the summer. Caledonian, there is a difference between laid back and totally unconscious.

Bumpy flight down to Londinium, but a nice gentle, controlled landing into rainy Gatwick. Sitting in the airport bus I saw the PoD. Wide angle shot of the plane from just under the port wingtip. Only had time for one grab shot. One in the bag.

Inside the terminal, we wandered around the car park until we eventually found directions to the Express Pick Up hidden round a corner behind the lifts. Just got there as Neil was drawing into a parking space. He drove us back to the house in their new (manual drive) car. Very comfortable and a nice array of ‘tronics in it. Listened to an interesting Spotify playlist Pop goes Classical. It’s now on my list too.

Lunch was pizza (for me, I forget what everyone else had) at a garden centre near the house. We’d been there before and that’s how I knew to order pizza. Small, thin with good toppings. Lovely.

Came home and found that the photo I’d taken at the airport wasn’t on the card! The bag was empty. Took some photos of the figs growing in the front garden, but the actual PoD was a shot of Mal sleeping on Hazy’s bed.

The early rise was beginning to catch up with me. I went for a snooze before dinner and what was dinner? It was take away pizza. Not as good, in my opinion, as the one in the garden centre, but it was a Domino’s and it had anchovies in it. Why don’t we get them in Cumbersheugh? Maybe they don’t travel well. We watched Moana, another Disney film. We are reverting to our childhood.

May go to Kingston tomorrow.

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.