Bored to abstraction – 21 December 2018

Full on dull dreary day. Needed some sunshine. Made my own.

Out early, well, early for me and out to Muirhead to get some meat for my Christmas Day dinner. Scamp was still in bed nursing her cold that doesn’t seem to have gotten any better overnight. An extra hour or so in bed wouldn’t do any harm.

Got to the butchers just after 10am and the queue was already the full length of the shop and it’s a fairly big shop. Lots of women serving and lots of butchers butchering and lugging great bags of different meats around. Not a place for vegans I fear. Despite the length of the queue, I was served quickly and soon I was out the door with my carnivore’s delights.

Drove home by the scenic route, but the low cloud, the poor light and the heavy rain put paid to any chance of a quick photo. So be it, maybe there would be a break in the clouds later. By the time I was home, Scamp was up and ready to go and buy what was left in Tesco. I had a coffee and started to work on using my old Samsung tablet as a screen for the Pi. Finally got it working, but it’s not the swiftest of cobbled together technology. It will do for now because it means I’m not hogging the TV.

I’d just finished squeezing my steaks and sausages into the freezer when Scamp returned with Tesco in two or three carrier bags. Lunch was a roll ’n’ sausage for me and a roll ’n’ egg for Scamp. We do eat well! Messed around with the new Toy in the afternoon because there wasn’t a hope of getting an outdoors photo.

Spoke to JIC who was on his way with Sim to Toronto hopefully if the drone that’s buzzing Gatwick runs out of battery power for an hour or so.

Tonight I cut a tangerine in half, then made another cut across the base. Sat the whole thing on a wee LED lamp and photographed it. That’s today’s PoD. Of course there’s a lot more to it than that. There’s at least two hours of post-processing and a fair bit of swearing too. However, it did bring a bit of artificial sunshine into the day, the shortest day.  From now on the light will be returning to our dark and gloomy land.

Scamp’s sister got out of hospital tonight and is back in the caring arms of her family. I thInk Scamp may go and visit with the mandatory black grapes tomorrow. Otherwise, we have no plans for tomorrow.

A ‘lovely’ day – 20 December 2018

Woke to rain, and that set the theme for the day.

Scamp was still suffering from a heavy cold, but was determined to meet Nancy at The Fort (our second home this week, it seems). I stayed in to wait for a parcel for the new Toy Off The Rack. It didn’t come. However I did get some other things parcelled up, things that had been lingering in the back bedroom for weeks. Hope they haven’t gone mouldy in that time. Anyway, they’re under the tree now, under the watchful eyes of Fairy and Fairy Nuff.

With a bit of peace and quiet to myself, I set to and made a couple of videos on One Point and Two Point Perspective for Margie, one of Scamp’s Gems singers who does a lot of sketching and painting, but has never mastered perspective. Hopefully they should help. Links at the bottom of the page in case you’re interested. I say I made a couple of videos. In actual fact I made about half a dozen, but most of them showed the bald patch on the top of my head, rather than any drawing. I just couldn’t get the camera in the right position, even when I was using the big Manfrotto tripod behind me in its most inelegant yoga position with one leg pressed horizontally against the wall while resting on the chest of drawers and the other two legs at various angles and extensions on the floor. I eventually gave up and used a neat little iPhone holder that Hazy gave me years ago and fixed it on the small Manfrotto tripod, sitting on the tabletop and filmed the whole thing on the iPhone. That worked perfectly. Simplest is sometimes best.

When Scamp returned I went out to get stuff for dinner and to take some photos. Today’s PoD is of part of the Antonine Wall at the east of Cumbersheugh. It was taken in the last of the afternoon light and in what turned out to be a fifteen minute window in the rain that persisted the rest of the day. Tried processing it in Lightroom and On1 and the latter won hands down. Ok, it’s not perfect, but neither was the weather. Dinner was chicken curry made with the excellent Patak’s Paste Pots.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to go to the butchers to get my Christmas steak.

Link 1: One Point Perspective

Link 2: Two Point Perspective

So, this is Sunday, isn’t it? – 16 December 2018

Yes, it was Sunday, so why did it feel like Saturday?

Well, the simple answer is because Saturday felt like a Friday and therefore it was logical that Sunday would feel like Saturday. OK?

With that in mind, we set of on to visit Stirling, pretending that it was Saturday. One of the benefits of visiting Stirling on a Sunday is that there is no charge for parking. That saved us a whole £1.40! We walked to Waitrose and bought the whole shop, then packed it carefully into the Juke’s boot and drove home.

By the time we got home there was just enough light to allow me to go a walk over to St Mo’s to grab a few shots with “The Big Dog”, i.e. the Nikon. Low light means you need a bigger sensor to grab as many of those photons as possible without resorting to a higher ISO. Bigger sensors mean less digital noise, sometimes called grain. Smaller grains means smoother images. I could have put a <Technospeak> warning there, but I just thought some of you deserved a bit of a photographic education. So now you know that to get smoother gradations you need a lower ISO and if possible a bigger sensor. There, quote that and you’ll sound so much cleverer! Got the photos and took them home to look at more closely on the ‘puter.

Earlier in the day, even before we’d gone out to buy Waitrose, we’d spoke to Hazy who updated us on all the things going on down London way. It’s nice to know that other folk are suffering from dull weather too. It’s not just us.

After perusing today’s photos and settling on a PoD, a moody shot across the boardwalk at St Mo’s, I started to make the dinner which was a vegan Spag Bol. I’ve made it before but today’s effort seemed a bit bland. Too many mushrooms or too little salt? Not sure. Scamp said it was fine, so maybe just me.

Sat down to watch the final of The Apprentice. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will tell you that it was one of the girls! Halfway through JIC which was a godsend really as two hours of TA without a break is more of a marathon than Mo Farah could withstand. Spoke for half an hour or so and got up to date on all the things going on down Cambridge way.

Finally watched the end of the epic journey to be Sugar’s next business partner. Slightly less interesting than a boring F1 GP.

Tomorrow will probably be a Monday. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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.