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Feeling Refreshed – 23 March 2018

Scamp was going out for coffee with Shona, so I had all morning to swear at the Toshiba or to do some painting.

I chose painting, but there was no gesso. Gesso is a thick, sometimes textured base coat you put on the card, canvas or wood you’re going to paint on with oils or acrylic. It can almost be replaced with acrylic paint or even emulsion paint these days. I chose acrylic and slapped a muddy brown layer on both sides of the card, then hung the card up to dry. That was about 10am. I think it’s still damp tonight at 11.25pm. So, it was back to swearing at the Tosh.

Actually there was very little swearing involved because I’d found an obscure website where one member claimed that it was possible to ‘refresh’ Windows 10 without losing any data or apps. Everyone else said it was impossible. I like a challenge, so I followed the blokes instructions, downloaded the ‘media creation tool’ from the Mickysoft site which took about an hour and a half, unpacked it and found I needed an 8gb memory stick. I didn’t have one that size that wasn’t being used so as it was lunchtime I called a halt to the computer nonsense and Scamp and I had lunch.

Set off to Sunny Coatbridge to see if I could get my hands on a Linx 12×64, because according to the Currys website, they had them in stock. I wandered round the lovely, selection of laptops. Some too big 17”. Some too small 10”. None just right 12”. So, feeling a bit like Goldilocks I went looking for an assistant who wasn’t checking his Facebook status to ask if they had the elusive Linx. The bloke I asked didn’t have a clue what I was talking about, but thankfully the youngster beside him who was just putting his phone away said he thought the had run out of them, but he’d check. He did and they had one left in the store, but it was in a box and he couldn’t open it. Bummer. But at least they had them. Maybe Stirling would have one, but that would be another day. Got a cheap memory stick and left.

Drove up to a dead end road at the back of Cumbersheugh Airport that cuts across the Antonine Wall and that’s where I got PoD. Looking North across Banknock, not to be confused with Bangkok. Sounds similar, different planet!

Came home via The Works to get some gesso, so over the weekend, I can paint, if not a masterpiece, at least something to take my mind of the failure of this wee drive to refresh my old PC laptop.

What a surprise! It took about five hours, but at the end of that I have a working Window’s 10 laptop. The ‘media creation tool’ and the memory stick did their work flawlessly. Not only that, the re-install did not touch any of my apps. Fantastic. Give that man on the obscure website a coconut. The laptop will still need to be reset properly and securely before I trade it in, but that was a ‘Wee Challenge’ that worked out well.

Speaking about coconuts, Scamp made Coconut and Fish Curry for dinner and it was really, really nice. Didn’t sound nice, I know, but it worked so well. The flavours blended beautifully.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for a sunny day for someone’s birthday and a trip down to Troon for lunch.

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Dull, dull, rain, dull – 3 February 2018

It was one of those days. According to the weather fairy it was going to improve in the afternoon. Perhaps she needs to revisit the dictionary of the meaning of ‘improve’.

We had decide to drive to The Smiddy near Blair Drummond for lunch and the possibility of a couple of photos, if not a sketch when the weather improved later in the afternoon. We drove through the increasingly heavy rain to get there and just a we were turning in to the restaurant/cafe the rain eased, just as they said it would. Away to the north west the sky was definitely clearing and there was the hint of blue sky there. Lunch was a Smiddy Burger for me and macaroni and cheese for Scamp. Both served with skin-on chips. The chips were oily and delicious, I knew I shouldn’t eat them all, but I just kept going until they were finished – so did Scamp. The macaroni seemed to go down well too. The too-thin burger was covered with melted cheese, bacon and mayo. Not a good choice and not one to put your name to, in my opinion. Last week I paid the same money for a nice thick home-made tasting burger in Scott’s in Troon. This was nothing like it. However, one bitten twice shy. In fact I wish I hadn’t bitten at all.

By the time we were coming out, the blue sky had gone, the sky had given up on the clearing and was returning to milky white. So much so that it looked like the colour had been drawn out of the landscape. I did grab a few pictures, but not many. You can see the best of them up at the top.

The rain kept up all the way home. I couldn’t be bothered going out to St Mo’s because I didn’t think I was going to get any more interesting images there. Instead, I started writing new Hazel code to organise my Documents folder on the iMac. It’s halfway implemented and it’s doing a fairly decent job of making a more logical filing system for the PDF files.

Today’s sketch for 28 Drawings Later is a half peeled orange. I quite like it. Sketched with the Blackwing soft pencil Hazy & ND’A gave me for Christmas and painted with Cotman watercolours on a cheap cartridge paper. It really deserves a better support, but I like the ‘tooth’ of the Tiger cartridge paper.

Orange

Watched the final program in the BBC series ‘Surgeons: At the edge of life’. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. If you think your own job is stressful, watch these people and admire the work they do. Totally engrossing and leaves you wondering how a person can do that sort of thing day after day.

Tomorrow? It just might be better than today, but I’m not convinced. Probably dancing for part of the day.

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Under the Bridges – 9 December 2017

So, what of the day then? Well, it was cold when we woke this morning, sub-zero in fact.

We’d half intended to go to Embra, but as we both slept a little longer than we’d intended and as we then read a little longer than we’d intended, it was really too late to go to ‘Auld Reekie’ today. Instead we decided to go to South Queensferry. It’s a great place on a cold, bright, clear day and today fulfilled those specifications perfectly. Surprisingly, we found a parking place right away and then when we walked through the main car park we found there were lots of spaces. After yesterday’s experience, I guessed that everyone was in Embra or Glasgow today, frantically searching for just the right gift for someone. Maybe someone they don’t particularly like, while that other person is also searching for something someone else won’t like Both of these ‘gifts’ will soon find themselves in the council tip or in a charity shop. The recipients will be ultimately disappointed and the buyers will be out of pocket. The only winners from Xmas are the shops. Will I be taking part. Of course I will, because that’s part of the game, isn’t it?  We walked under the old bridge and that’s where most of the photos came from.  PoD was of the pillars, top right.

There were a lot of Asian tourists here. Maybe they were on a visiting cruise ship, or maybe it was just the one family and we just kept meeting different groups of them. We seemed to bump into them a few times as we walked along under the railway bridge. After that, we walked through the town of South Queensferry and Scamp remembered us sitting outside in a pub courtyard in warmer days, and as it was a pub courtyard, and there would be beer involved, it must have been a few years ago in more relaxed times. She also liked the way spaces in the lines of shops had been used to provide windows on the Forth and the bridge, the old bridge, the real Forth Bridge. She’s developing a good eye, is Scamp.

I think Scamp was really set on having lunch in the Italian restaurant we’ve been to a few times in Queensferry, but when we passed a second time, it was empty. An empty restaurant is not a good sign, so she made the decision to go to a busy one we’d passed. The fact that it had big picture windows was not a factor, honest. We had burgers for lunch. Chicken for Scamp and beef for me. Both lovely. I even had a Becks Blue with 0.05% alcohol, while Scamp had a latte. The only drawback was that the picture windows on to the main street had the low, bright sun shining straight in my eyes. I eventually gave in and allowed Scamp to move round the table so that I could sit with my back to the sun. The bonus was that we could both watch the tiny wee trains passing over the Forth Bridge.

Paid for lunch, walked back to the car and drove home. Took a wrong turning on the way and got the sat nav to help us out of our difficulty. It took us down a single track road, round a very posh looking farm conversion and then back along the single track onto the main road, then got us onto the M8/M9 perfectly with ease. I presume the detour round the posh houses was its version of ‘perform a U-turn when possible.’

 

Still cold tonight with the threat of snow. So, as to what we’re doing tomorrow, as Scamp says, it all depends on the weather.

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DML – 5 October 2017

We had decided that if the day was good and sunny we’d go to DML to show it to the Red Juke. It was, and we did.

To make sure we were doing it right, we drove through ‘Blue Rinse’ Callander to take the Duke’s Pass to DML. It will now be renamed the Juke’s Pass. It was on this road that we realised one of the shortfalls of DAB radios. They are fine in the Central Belt and Glasgow, but take one to anywhere slightly hilly and out of town, for instance, the Juke’s Pass and the reception becomes patchy to say the least. We stopped to try to figure it out which allowed the wee silver car in front of us, the one that only had first and second gear, to get away from us. Started off again and enabled Sport Mode. I can now verify that the Juke can corner with the best of them. Scamp doesn’t like Sport Mode. Unfortunately she couldn’t find the Zaphod Beeblebrox glasses. It goes like stink, even up the steepest hills.

We got to DML It’s never going to be ’The Lodge’1 we parked in the designated place where we park every new car we get. It’s a tradition as you well know. That’s The Juke there in the picture, looking quite Flame Red.

We put our walking boots on. Mine clabbered in muck and Scamp’s showroom clean and walked to the waterfall which was looking very dramatic today with the water running off a spate after yesterday and the day before’s rain. The place was busy with a bus tour party, mostly American’s. The Capital letter means they didn’t get in my way while I was photographing the waterfall and weren’t loud and shouty as they sometimes are.

Had a bowl of soup in the cafe that purported to be leek and potato, but no leeks or potatoes were observed although it had been blitzed to death, so any constituent parts would have been microscopic. However, it was hot (very hot) and warmed us up.

Drove back through Aberfoyle and stopped for coffee at the new place, the Smiddy near Blair Drummond. Coffee was ok, but not great and Ginger and Cranberry scone was worth experimenting with. We’ll add it to our ’Worth Trying Again’ list.

Stopped once more at Dobbies for Scamp to add another rose to her collection. This one was Peace. One of my mum’s favourites.

Tomorrow if it’s as good as today, we may go to Mugdock to a craft sale for a Dementia charity.


  1. If you come from Larky, ’The Lodge’ can either mean a protestant extremist organisation or a very secretive, but not secret (honest, nothing secret here) organisation. Both excuses for cheap bar prices. Count the ’rubber men’ outside either of their premises and you’ll agree. 
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Out to lunch – 26 September 2017

First job today was to clean out the car. Yesterday, the outside. Today the inside.

I used three poly bags and the KFC method again:

  • K = Keep – goes out and comes back in
  • F = File – goes somewhere else
  • C = Chuck – it goes in the bin

Most stuff went into the K or C bags with a few things finding their way back into the house again to be checked over before going through the KFC cycle again sometime later. It didn’t take as long as I anticipated and then it was time for lunch.

Scamp suggested going to the gallery at Clachan of Campsie. I wasn’t so sure, because the last time we went there the place was ruled by a rather superior lady who was definitely doing us a favour by allowing us into her cafe and also allowing us to pay for our meal. I needn’t have worried. The place was under new management and my soup and a sandwich were very, very good. The chicken soup was quite thick, warming and although a bit tasteless to start with, benefitted greatly from a pinch of salt. The sandwich. Hmm. Who in their right mind would combine chunks of Brie with thin slices of apple and a drizzle of honey, yes honey then wrap them in slices of unbuttered brown bread? Absolute genius. In my mind it ranks with Beetroot and Cheese toasties and Cheese and Marmalade pieces (sandwiches to you if you’re english). Such a brilliant flavour combination. I’m going to make it for my lunch some time this week. Scamp doesn’t like honey and as it’s the hook the whole thing hangs on, she doesn’t get any. Scamp had lentil soup, poor soul. She missed the flavour bomb!
The down side of the Gallery was the gallery itself. The paintings were awful. Twee wee landscapes that I’ve grown out of and uninspired, dull landscapes in big frames. That’s not photography, that’s taking bad foties. However, the food was good and the service was with a smile. Oh yes, and we had a cake between us. A Vienna Sponge that tasted great. We will be back DV. Oh, by the way JIC, Wheelcraft is still there and still doing a roaring trade.

Drove up the Crow Road to the big carpark with the panoramic views around East Dunbartonshire. (There is that anomaly again. Dumbarton is the county town of Dunbartonshire. Why is it spelled differently then?) That’s where the landscape shot came from. Ok that’s where the landscape shot originated from before I painted in some sunny patches and darkened the sky , oh and … You get the idea, don’t you. It may be fake, but it’s better in my opinion than the insipid offerings in the Gallery.

Came home and Scamp wanted to make the most of the watery sunshine and almost two dry days, so she went to cut the grass. I took my camera down the Luggie with me to try to get a better shot a scene I’d seen yesterday. The light wasn’t as good as yesterday, but I was better prepared and at least one of the shots turned out like I wanted. The the beer can ‘installation’ is PoD, in case you hadn’t guessed.

Watched part of the Invictus Games tonight and Scott Meenagh was being interviewed after coming second in a race.  He used to go the Cumby High.  He was a bit of a pain until he discovered drama.  When he left school he joined the army and lost both legs when his Landrover hit an IED.   He became quite a celebrity at school and rightly so.  Someone for all the kids to look up to, but a warning to them at the same time.  It was good to see him making a name for himself, and a new life for himself too.

Don’t have any plans yet for tomorrow. It might involve swimming or the gym to keep my excitement in check and Salsa at night.

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A rather full day – 17 September 2017

When we woke this morning, someone was shouting at us from a loud hailer from the general direction of the football stadium. It appeared that the Cumbernauld 10K had started. We really should go and watch.

We walked down through the new housing estate and found that the all the races had started. The 1K were already home, the 3K were due at any minute and the 10K were halfway round the pond. All this had happened while we were having our breakfast and reading in bed. We watched the 3K folk finishing and by the time their stragglers were coming to the stadium, the first of the 10K were in sight. We watched a few of them enter the stadium, then walked back along the road clapping to encourage the runners as we went. I find now if I stand in one place for too long, I get a back pain. Gentle moving eases it. Running 10K wouldn’t help though!

We did see one accident while we were watching. One man, not a competitor took a tumble on the grass beside the footpath and fell heavily on his shoulder. He started screaming in pain and holding his shoulder. The First-Aider got him to cross his arms in front of his chest and hold opposite shoulders. Classic textbook broken collar bone injury. He was eventually carted off in a wheelchair into the VIP area. Possibly that’s where he wanted to go in the first place, but a rather extreme way of getting entrance.

We walked back home and were just making lunch when JIC and Sim arrived back with Chris and Yvonne. After catching up with C & Y they left to go home and we booked an early dinner at Milano’s, then headed off to Chatelherault near Hamilton to go for a walk through the trees. We walked over the Duke’s Bridge, but when we got there and found that almost all the trees had been felled leaving the valley down to the Avon Water looking very different from the last time Scamp and I had been there. More of the Hunting Lodge was open than last time so we wandered round some of the rooms and I got some photos before we headed home.

Dinner in Milano’s was good, but the pizzas were not as brilliant as they used to be. New chef, or maybe just a weekend stand in? Only time will tell. Halfway through the meal Sim discovered that their flight had been put back 2 hours! So, would we go back home or did they just want to go to the airport? They chose to go in the hope that the flight would get away quicker.

We drove home from the airport and watched an interesting and, for once, exciting F1 GP from Singapore. I won’t say who won in case you haven’t seen it yet.

A rather full day, but an enjoyable one.

I’ve been meaning to post a weekly note on my blog to try to track down the week the swallows arrive and leave. This week I saw some swallows and this is week 38.

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Summer in Scotland – 12 June 2017

Monday is Gems day. I usually get out, but it didn’t look like it today. It was dull again with rain and wind. That’s what you call Summer in Scotland.

I’d decided that today would be Boxer Shorts Day and I have finished the hard work. In fact, all the work is finished, it’s just the little bits of cleaning up than need to be done. I’ve still to give them a final press with the iron and then they will be ready for play testing. It was a bit of a challenge, Hazy, but an interesting one. I’d never have attempted it without your push. Thank you. Hopefully I’ll have pictures tomorrow.

Once that was done and lunch was over, Gems were gathering and I put my headphones on and painted for a while before biting the bullet and heading for Argos to buy a WiFi extender. Setup was simple and once the extender was paired with the modem, it worked out of the box. Now I have a decent WiFi signal in the back bedroom.

Looking forward to Salsa with Jamie tonight, but it was not to be. He had called off at the last minute because of a funeral. Some things you just can’t plan for. So it was Cameron who took both the beginners and the advanced class and he was really, really good. I was impressed.

Today’s PoD was taken from the top of phase 4 of the town centre, looking across to what I suppose must be phase 3 although it never gets called that. Its official title seems to be ‘that dump’ or ‘where the post office used to be’. It really shines in this light, doesn’t it?

Couldn’t settle on a sketch and finally decided to immortalise the two strawberries that were living on the top shelf of the fridge.  I really should have sketched them insitu, but that would have meant leaving the fridge door open for too long.

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No rain today – 14 May 2017

Well, today we were prepared for a total downpour and it didn’t happen, which was nice.

To make the most of this little surprise gift, we went for a drive.  I knew where I was going, but Scamp hadn’t a clue.  We were going to Devilla Forest in Fife.  We’d passed it many, many times on the way to other places like Dunfermline and Burntisland, but never stopped to investigate it.  It wasn’t until our last bus journey to Dunfermline it had lodged in my brain as a possible place for a walk.

It just over half an hour to get there and there was a nice big parking area.  We decided to do the fairly easy (45mins) and short Red Squirrel walk along to and round a little loch.  The path was fairly good underfoot, wide and winding through the pine trees.  Unfortunately, no squirrels of any colour were available for photographs today.  The best wildlife we saw, in fact the only wildlife was a pair of mallards on the little loch.  That said, the trees were alive with the sound of, not music, but birdlife.  Hidden wildlife.  A very enjoyable walk and one we’ll build on this summer we hope.

I had also noticed that the next turning on the road lead to a plant nursery and where there is a plant nursery these days, there’s a tea shop.  So it was with The Walled Garden.  Beautiful panoramic views across Fife from the parking area and that’s what got my PoD award.  The tea shop was fairly decent, par for the course and better than Dobbies.  Scamp got a Potentilla for the toilet bowl planter in the back garden.

When I came home there was enough time to go for a quick walk to loosen up my sore leg before dinner and I grabbed the opportunity to stride out along the Forth & Clyde Canal.  Didn’t get many more photos, but although the clouds were threatening, I stayed dry.

Haven’t seen the weather for tomorrow.  It’ll be a surprise.

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The trick is to not let on – 30 December 2016

Today, in total secrecy we slipped out of the house just before 10am and drove under leaden skies to Croy station.  There we boarded a train headed for … Embra.  The trick is to not let on.  That way you actually get to Scotland’s second city without any interference.

We had coffee in our usual Cafe Nero in Lothian Road and gazed out on light clouds with bits of blue sky.  Scamp took pity on a Big Issue seller and bought her a coffee.  A random act of kindness.  We should all do that more often.

We had intended walking through Princes Street Gardens, but they were locked and guarded by security staff.  I suppose that’s to be expected with the amount of work having to be done for the Hogmanay celebrations tomorrow.  That said, we went back the way we’d come and walked up the Grassmarket and from there on to Princes Street.  We had thought about going to JL, but it’s too depressing going into a shop in a building that’s being demolished.  A story of the irresistible force and the (literally) immovable object.  This is what happens when people don’t speak to one another.

Edinburgh was jumping!  It was almost as busy as when the Festival is in full swing.  I’d hate to think what it would be like tomorrow.  There were so many barricades around Princes Street, I said to Scamp it looked like a war zone.  Probably that’s what it will be just before The Bells tomorrow night.

We walked along Rose Street and on to Whighams for lunch.  Breaded Haddock, chips and peas for Scamp and Pheasant, Bacon and Leek Pie with roast potatoes and roast vegetables for me.  I even risked a half pint of Deuchars.  Another very decent lunch.

This being a weekday, we had to travel off-peak, so had to get the train home by 4pm or it would turn into a pumpkin or something.  That meant we had to forego a shot on the big wheel or vertical chair-o-planes and head for the train home.  Such a pity 😉  When we got back to Croy the grey clouds were still there, maybe a bit lighter grey, but that was probably because they’d dumped some of their rain on Cumbersheugh.

Wind is getting up again tonight and it looks like rain for tomorrow.  Don’t have anything planned.

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Design Obsolescence – 22 November 2016

22-nov

My car is just coming up for eight years old.  Its had a few bits and pieces replaced since new.  The usual consumables like the oil filter and the air filter every year at servicing time.  Every couple or so years it also has needed new tyres when they run a bit thin on tread.  More expensive items like brake disks, wheel bearings and CV joints have also been replaced when necessary.  Sometimes I use good quality third party replacements, but manufacturers parts are always available at an extra cost.  Occasionally I use them when it seems prudent to do so.  All based on the trusted advice from my local garage.  It’s a good car and runs perfectly well.

My Macbook Pro is also coming up for its eighth birthday.  It’s also had a few ‘improvements’ over the years.  It’s had a memory upgrade and a new hard drive installed, then last year I added a super fast Solid State Drive.  Some from Apple and some from third party alternatives.  Now its battery is failing, so I went to the Apple store in Buchanan Street to find out how much it would cost for an Apple fitted new battery.  I was shocked to hear them claim not to have replacement batteries for “such an old computer”!  Really?  A company the size of Apple can’t source the parts to repair its own computers?  I was told by a ‘Tech’ that I would have to phone technical support to see if they still had any in stock, and if they did the repair would cost around £160.  I don’t think so.  Amazon are advertising a replacement battery for £40 and I’m not so ham fisted I can’t fit it myself.
Since I’ve had the Macbook I’ve become a great fan of Apple, but my allegiance is fading after this example of Designed Obsolescence.

Right, now that I’ve got that out of my system, here’s a synopsis of the day:

Had an entertaining phone call with Hazy in the morning (yes, I did look up the Hive – impressive structure, H), then out to visit the dentist and no fillings, no scale and polish, just a cap replacement and no charge.  What a nice man.

After lunch Scamp and I drove in to Glasgow for some pre-Christmas shopping.  Better to go mid-week when the crowds are at work earning the pennies to spend at the weekend when we head for the hills, literally.  Parked in the Buchanan Galleries carpark with its wonderful panoramic walkway to the galleries proper.  Such a great view of Glasgow (and carpark is cheaper than Concert Hall!)  I headed off to the book shop for a couple of books I’d my eye on, but which turned out to be less than enthralling.  Scamp went looking for girlie stuff.  Met up later and had my introduction to the wonders of Designed Obsolescence – Apple style.  How to kill of a potential sale in one easy lesson.

Coffee and then trudged back homeward, but not before Scamp noticed that Jacques Vert had a sale on.  I’ll give her that, she always makes it look as if it’s a great surprise to see the sale posters in the window.  More girlie stuff bought.  Walked back across the bridge to the carpark and the light was just marvellous, so I had to stop to take some photos.  Such a beautiful sunset and one you knew just couldn’t last, so I made the most of it.  If I’d hurried past I’d have saved myself £1.50 in parking money, but I’d have missed today’s PoD (I’d also have brought the price of an Apple replaced battery down to £158.50, but I’m not bitter!)

Back home I found out that the books weren’t as interesting as I’d thought and have decided to return them (in pristine condition) tomorrow.  After a lovely stirfry cooked by Scamp I made some scones that turned out the best yet!  No eggs Hazy!

Was posting a condensed version of my rant on the Buchanan Street Apple shop page on Facebook when my eye was drawn down the page to a bloke complaining about exactly the same thing.  So, I am not the only grumpy old man then.

Travel clinic tomorrow to book our jags for foreign climes and maybe take that book back.  Unless Apple phone in the morning and offer me a brand new Macbook Pro – top of the range and an iPhone 7 to go with it to make up for their shocking customer service today.  But then I’d wake up and it would all be a dream  😉