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.

A day in the Toon – 27 November 2018

Off into Glasgow on my own to see if Christmas has arrived yet.

Scamp offered me a lift to the train station and I accepted. I couldn’t face JL with all its glitter and sparkling lights and xmas songs. Instead I wandered down Bucky Street which had glitter and sparkling lights and buskers who weren’t singing xmas songs yet. Wanted to send a pic to Scamp, but forgot that my data allowance is down to 18MB! Then I remembered that Glasgow has free WiFi now, so got connected fairly easily to BT. Walked into HMV and noticed a new Dylan album. Walked outside and downloaded it to Spotify using my new best friend, BT!

Managed a couple of photos in Glasgow, outside the GOMA, but the light was pretty poor, so the photos ended up a bit grainy. However, with a bit of help from ON1, I managed a fairly decent PoD. I called it “Cold Caller”.

Bus home and stir-fry for dinner. Scamp had already been out for lunch with one of her friends, but she helped me finish it off.

That was it for the day. None of the half a dozen rum ’n’ cokes or three course dinners we had last week. Just boring dull Scotland.

It appears we have some sort of rodent in the house. We’ve heard it occasionally in the past, but now it’s becoming more apparent that it has to be dealt with. In the past we’ve had problems with mice in a cupboard, but after despatching about ten of them over the course of a month they seem to have disappeared. This one may be a squirrel and we need professional help to dispose of it. Phoning the council tomorrow and we’ll see what they can do. Apparently they are quite efficient. We’ll see.

Dancing tomorrow we hope!

Out to lunch – 13 November 2018

Another day of bright spells and then cloudy skies, but at least there were those bright spells!

Scamp suggested we go out for lunch to The Broadwood. A cheap and cheerful pub food place within easy walking distance. That’s what we did. £20 for two fish ’n’ chips and a glass of wine and a pint of Guinness isn’t bad going these days. Neither of us had anything special to do today and it gave us somewhere to go that didn’t involve driving and also meant nobody had to make dinner tonight. Two birds – One stone!

Came back home and completed today’s Sudoku that had been laughing at my attempts at a solution earlier in the day. Ok, I had to have one hint, but just the one. Then the light was reasonable so I went for a walk in St Mo’s and got today’s PoD. It’s been messed around a bit, but it still hangs together quite nicely. I did part of the processing in the new improved ON1 2019 which is a bit more stylish than Lightroom, but still isn’t a patch on it for the basics of cataloguing and general housekeeping that Lightroom does so well. What it does do is produce slightly warm, slightly over-saturated photos that lots of people seem to want these days. This is the first version of the software that was not a ‘beta’, but it’s still not the finished article. It feels like there are a lot of rough edges yet.

That was about it for the day. A walk and lunch then a photo taken. Can’t argue with that.

Out early tomorrow for another patient transfer. June this time to Stobhill. Hopefully we’ll have time for a dance later in the afternoon.

Patient Ambulance – 12 November 2018

Waiting for that phone call again.

After breakfast Scamp sent a text to Shona and got the reply that we had been waiting for. She was being released today and hopefully would be ready by midday. We drove in to Glasgow and I dropped Scamp outside the front door of the hospital then drove round to Wishart Street to park the car. Stuck a pound coin in the meter and hoped that an hour would be sufficient. Then I settled down to do a bit of sketching. The subject was the ‘Bridge of Sighs’ that crosses the road from the Cathedral to the Necropolis. As well as the architecture, I also had a go at some of the cars parked all the way up the street. Just before my £1 ticket was due to expire, I got a phone call from Scamp to say that they were on their way out.

Picked up Scamp and Shona just outside the hospital and tried to take the least bumpy road home. Dropped her off and made sure she was comfortable before heading to pick up Marjie because Gems wait for no man (or woman) apparently. I sat and messed around with a new photo editor, or should I say a new version of a photo editor. Thinking all the time that this would have been a good day to go for a swim. You never miss the water until you’ve cancelled your subscription to the pool!

Just as the light was failing I grabbed a few shots in the garden with the ‘Big Dog’. I really don’t know what it was doing, but it was overexposing some shots and underexposing others. However, I got a silhouette of a strawberry plant as my PoD.

Drove in to Glasgow tonight, not really interested in dancing, but came out of the STUC energised. That’s the only word for it. Jamie taught two new moves one was quite simple but the other was much more complicated and I thoroughly enjoyed both. Don’t think we’ll manage to get to Wednesday’s class, so I was glad I went tonight!!

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch.

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.

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.

Perf – 30 October 2018

Today we were off to Perf. Gateway to the best coffee beans in Scotland, if not the world.

Drove up to Perf on a beautiful clear morning. That said, it became a bit cloudier as we travelled north. I’d come with gifts for the Perf folk. I donate my two bike carriers to the bike shop across the road from the car park. Neither of them fit either of our cars, and are now superfluous to our needs. They were just cluttering up the house and were going to be dumped, so if someone can get the benefit of them, all the better. I also took a load of computer books to the Oxfam shop in Perf. I’ve read them and used them well, but now I usually consult the InterWeb if I’m in need of information and besides, they were well out of date.

Next we had to decide what we were doing for lunch. Scamp had an Itison voucher for Cafe Tabou which is now under new ownership. We decided to give them a try and see if they’d kept up the excellent standard of the previous owners. For starter, Scamp had Roast Red Pepper Chick Pea Ragout with Tempura of Fish and I had Salad Du Chef.
For main she had Breaded Plaice Fillet with Chips(!) and I had French Black Pudding & Pork Belly. She was perfectly happy with her selection, I felt the main was a bit tasteless, although the caramelised apples and cider sauce was lovely. Worth another Itison voucher some time. When we came out the streets were just drying after a heavy rain shower and you could feel that there was still a bit of rain on the breeze.

After the lunch, we went for walk to get the coffee and tea that I so desperately needed. Then a walk along to the the viewing gallery over the River Tay. Beautiful light on the trees on the far bank and the sun was shining now on the bridge, so that became my PoD after it was de-fished (no fish were injured in the operation) and some work done on the levels. Samyang 7.5 is a really versatile lens.

With the river inspected, we headed back to the car and the drive home through some beautiful light with nowhere to stop and record it. We also passed through some heavy rain showers that had probably created that beautiful light on the hills.

Sat and sketched my teacup and two digestive biscuits for today’s Inktober sketch. Thirty sketches in and only one left to do tomorrow. Tomorrow as I’m sure you know by now is one of those busy days with two dancing classes and the driving to get there, there’s not much time for dawdling, so I already have a plan for tomorrow’s sketch. It will need a bit of preparation, part of which I have already done with the assistance of an Excel spreadsheet. Art and computing are not the easiest bedfellows, but hopefully one will help with the other if I have my way.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Anything else will just have to fit in with that!

Off the leash for a couple of hours – 25 October 2018

Scamp was out singing this afternoon. I decided not to go and upstage her.

A relaxing afternoon waiting for the rain to stop. It didn’t. Instead, I tidied up the mess I’d left after shooting yesterday’s shot. After that I wandered around for a while and eventually sat down and watched my next episode of Trust. The story’s really well acted and even although it’s not totally true, parts being fictionalised, it still feels like a documentary. That’s enhanced by the Italians speaking in their own language with subtitles for us non Italian speakers. I know Scamp isn’t keen on Trust – it is a bit bloodthirsty. I think I enjoy it because I’ve lived through this story, I remember it all happening. I was just settling in to the story when the singer returned, flushed with success.

I decided to risk the rain and go for a walk instead of sitting around for the rest of the afternoon. The light was failing again as I went out, just like yesterday. Today, however, I was determined to get an outside photo. I got the makings of one and a shot of my old friend Mr Grey, standing on a stone in the middle of St Mo’s pond waiting for his supper to swim past. Mr Grey is a grey heron.

After dinner I started on the post processing. An hour or so and three different editors later I had my photo. It needed: Photoshop to create and blend the stack of photos, ON1 to work on the levels and colours and Lightroom to do the final tweaks and get rid of the rain drops that ended up on the lens.

Struggled to draw a decent drawing of my TZ70, The Teazer, for Inktober No 25.  I had drawn it for last year’s Inktober and wasn’t really happy with another repeat.  Basically my heart wasn’t in it, but it wasn’t until Scamp, my most honest critic commented that it looked a bit flat that I decided to leave it and start something new.  Then I saw her feet in her fancy slippers resting on the corner of the coffee table.  Draw what’s in front of you.  That started out as my maxim this year and that’s what I did.  Yes, there are mistakes, but I like the simplicity of the sketch and the fact that it was completed in about 15 minutes.  It worked and it wasn’t flat.  It got the Scamp Seal of Approval and that’s good enough for me!

It’s been a dull day with a (very) few bright intervals but we are going to have much brighter weather soon. Brighter but much colder with winds blowing out of the north, straight from the Norwegian Sea. That’s what the weather pixies tell us. Hard frost on Sunday night. Hmm, I don’t like the sound of that.

Tomorrow, it’s Dentist Day 3 for Scamp. Let’s hope it’s third time lucky.

Back on an even keel – 22 October 2018

Email and printers. The most difficult and flakiest things to set up. Look at them the wrong way and they just refuse to work.

The email account I fixed this morning seems to still be working. Sent my brother an email tonight and it hasn’t bounced yet. I hate setting up email accounts and printers. They are the most hated things to get going right first time. Yes, things are getting better and the wireless printers are a dream to set up now, but even they still have hissy fits sometimes.

Today was Gems day, so after all that technology overload this morning and after getting our flu jags and after buying Tesco I packed my bag and went for a swim. I had thought of going for some exercise first, but instead I sat in the steam room for quarter of an hour, then swam for another twenty minutes. Five minutes is enough for me in the sauna thankfully now with its door back on its hinges. Then a shower and a word with old Bob who probably lives in the changing room. I’ve seen him sitting with his lunch and a flask of tea a couple of times! Still, he’s paying his money the same as us and making the most of it. He tells some tall and wonderful stories at times. David Beckham was his topic today. I get the impression he doesn’t like the man!

Came home and doodled a sketch of a concrete and wood park bench from one of my photos. It took me two tries to get it right and when it was done it looked really smart … if you ignored the ghost bench beside it which was a bit squint and out of proportion. Went out for a walk in St Mo’s to try to catch the last of the light and maybe have a look at that bench again. Never did get a look at it. Instead I found some bright red bramble leaves and disturbed a long legged spider then tried a low shot of some leaves. They’re much thicker on the ground this year, I think. Leaves that is, not spiders. Eventually settled on a ten shot view across the loch with the camera sitting on a (different) bench. The ten shots were the raw material for an idea I had. Wind was strong and gusty and the clouds were scudding across the sky. That was the reason for the 10 shots.

<Technospeak>
Came home and downloaded the images. Cleaned up the ten shots in Lightroom, then exported them to a temporary folder. Imported them from there into a ‘stack’ in Photoshop. A stack is basically one image made up of a number of layers. Ran a script called “Image Averaging Layers” in Photoshop which does a very clever blending of the layers in the stack. With that done I selected the sky and water area with the Colour Range selector tool, Inverted the selection and proceeded to delete all the ground areas except one. That one I duplicated, reset the opacity to 100%, inverted the selection again and deleted the sky from that one. Bingo. My work was done in Photoshop. Saved it off and then flattened the image. Saved it again with a different name and imported that back into Lightroom where I could do all the usual twiddly bits.
</Technospeak>
Now all that previous bit was to remind me how I did the moving sky, but the solid ground and trees. Hopefully I’ll find this some day when I’m stuck.

No dancing tonight because Jamie G is off on his travels again and also we were waiting for a call from Hazy to see how ND was. Turns out he was getting home tonight. Although his ailment was serious enough, it wasn’t as bad as initially feared. Back home in Hazy’s tender care, I’m sure he’ll be on his feet again soon.

Tonight I did another Ink and Watercolour sketch of that park bench. It’s not as good as the first one. A second sketch never is in my opinion, but at least it doesn’t have a ghost bench intruding into its space.

So, basically everything is back on an even keel again, fingers crossed.

Maybe going for a curry tomorrow.