Hooray the sun is working today – 8 January 2020

A lovely change from yesterday. The sun was shining.

OK, it only lasted for about an hour, but even as the first raindrops fell, the sky was lightening again in the west. Another day when it would be wise to go out and have a walk in the sun. Scamp’s first suggestion of Muiravonside was the one that we chose. It’s years and years since we’ve been there and according to the satnav it’s only about 13 miles away.

Drove through rain and sun, but the Juke didn’t seem to be in a good mood today and also the mileage was only reading about 36mpg. Maybe JIC was right about the tyre pressure being the problem. I might check it tomorrow. It was sunny when we arrived, but the wind was quite strong over in the east and it was a cold wind too. Walked around one of the easy walks and then through the farm. Just a kids farm really with lots of birds and smaller animals to see, as well as some big fat pigs, a couple of highland cattle and also a couple of horses. After that we walked down to the river and that’s where I got today’s PoD which is the River Avon which begins its life strangely enough near Fannyside where I was on Monday. It was the Nikon that took the photo.  I was carrying both Nikon and Oly cameras, but I was surprised at how little I remembered about setting up the Nikon.  I couldn’t even remember the shortcut to format the disk.  Must be getting too used to the little Oly and Pana cameras that make everything so easy. On the way to the river we passed a load of apple trees growing beside the path, each one with its own little name plate on a wooden post beside it. Scamp was quite pleased to see a James Grieve. It was a bit younger and straighter than ours. Hope it fruits as well as ours. It was a steep path down to the river, but we didn’t really notice until we had to climb back up again. We were a bit out of breath after the climb.

Drove back and I thought I might have a chance of a photo or two in St Mo’s after a late lunch, but the clouds rolled in in earnest and the rain started again, so I left it for another day and went to collect my pills instead.

An email has just come in as I’m writing this to say that I’ve been fully reimbursed for the purchase of ON1 2020.  That was much quicker than I expected.  In the morning, I’ll check if the money is in the bank.

I think we’re both agreed we’ll go back to Muiravonside again, all being well. Tomorrow looks clear and cold again with just the chance of some showers, so with a bit of luck and good timing we may manage another walk in the sunshine.

Windy and Warm – 7 January 2020

I thought I’d woken up in the middle of the night and then notice it was about 8.15am and it was dark outside.

It stayed like that all day with only about 30 minutes in the middle of the day when there was light on the horizon, but it didn’t last. Scamp wanted to go shopping today and that’s what we did. Because the only place she knew she could get some of today’s messages was Morrisons, and in an attempt to offset the shortfall in their winter sales figures, that’s where we were going. Next question was where. Falkirk is our usual preferred shop, but with the strong winds, especially in the east and the heavy rain showers, I suggested we go to The Fort instead. Closer and quicker to get to. Also, I wanted some stuff from Hobbycraft at The Fort. With that settled, we wrapped up well and drove off. It may have been stormy and wet, but it was also warm. The car thermometer read 12ºc when we left the house.

So we got what we wanted in Morrisons, except the bottle of Grants Sherry Casked which was absent from the shelves and also the Yorkshire Mixture which was also missing. Could it be the same person who had a taste for sweeties and whisky? Did they perhaps drop a couple of sweeties in their dram? Maybe I should try that. We bought a bag of polystyrene beads for me to make a bean bag to rest my camera on when taking low macro shots (they came in handy later). We also bought some sparkly foam backed card to make The Fairy a new pair of wings. Scamp is going to wash The Fairy’s dress, make her a new underskirt and also repair her wings. The Fairy is almost 50 years old and hasn’t had her dress cleaned or her underskirt replaced in all that time. Her wings have been repaired once or twice, but really do need to be renewed. Happy with our purchases we headed home.

Scamp went out to get her hair cut after lunch and came back looking even more beautiful than normal (if that’s possible). Then I discovered I needed spring onions for tonight’s dinner (Pad Thai), so I wrapped up well, stuck in a pair of headphones and enjoyed a walk in the rain with The Uncle Devil Show to get the spring onions. That’s when I noticed my thighs were aching a bit, presumably from the two days dancing I’d had Sunday and Monday.

The Pad Thai worked really well. It was from a kit, but the only pre-prepared ingredient was the sauce, I’m sure I can find a recipe for it on the net and make my own. Noodles make a nice change from rice. After that I had to find a PoD. I found it in the bag of polystyrene beads. I sat a bunch of grapes on the bag of polystyrene beads. Lit it from below with two LED lights. Then used reflected light from a third LED light to remove some of the shadows from the grapes. PoD done.

Before I wrote this blog I cancelled my upgrade to ON1 2020. Too many bugs in it that would be caught, quote ’in a future update’. Sorry, but I paid for software, not to be a beta tester.

Tomorrow I may tackle the making of the bean bag. Also, we may go out somewhere for a walk if there’s any light and if the wind abates.

A day in the toon – 17 December 2019

Today we and a couple of million others went in to town to do some last minute shopping.

We decided that we’d drive in rather than freeze to death on a cold bus. It was probably the right decision, but it looked like half of Scotland thought the same way. We had to drive up to nose bleed altitude in the Buchanan Galleries car park to get a space. People were queueing everywhere on level 6 to squeeze into a space between a gigantic Land Rover Discovery and something that looked like a well polished Chieftan tank with alloy wheels. Meanwhile on level 7 we got to choose which of the hundred odd spaces we would grace with our presence. We both agreed on a “divide and conquer” approach and went on our separate and secret ways confirming that we would phone when we were finished or fed up, whichever came first.

I can’t remember who cracked first, but I do remember I was on my way to make my only purchase of the day when Scamp asked if I wanted to go to Paesano for lunch. Oh yes, that brightened the day. Actually the weather was quite bright, it was just the crowds of people everywhere that took some of the shine off it. When we got to the restaurant, it was crowded out the door. My face fell as I stood there wondering how long I was willing to wait. Ten minutes? Twenty minutes? Thirty minutes top. Nope, we got taken right away. It seemed that most of those waiting had booked full tables or were waiting for carry-outs. The place was jumping. We had to wait ages for our pizzas, but a bowl of balsamic onions helped stave off the hunger. The pizzas when they came were beautifully well done, mine to the point of charcoal in places. I cannot fault this place. My pizza had a bit too much garlic, but nothing I’d complain about. Scamp got the wrong pizza, but it turned out better than what she had ordered, so she was happy with the extra roast courgettes with her extra rocket and no cheese.

Coffee afterwards in Costa and it was good coffee too. Just goes to show that it’s Cumbernauld Costa that’s at fault. Too little coffee in their coffee I suspect. Scamp had some extra thing to buy, so I went for a walk, taking some photos. Didn’t really like anything I’d done, but I went up to load my single purchase in the car and took some photos from level 7. They were later turned into the PoD by some clever effects in On1.

Back home I struggled to find a way of removing the old HDD from the MacBook Pro and still get it loading. After about five hours of this, I’m back where I started. Tomorrow I’ve a different plan. It might work. All to be able to take it in to get a new battery.

Tomorrow we’ve been invited to lunch in the Village by Isobel. Sounds like a good meal too.

Coffee – 26 November 2019

Three auld guys moaning.

The three auld guys in question were Fred, Val and myself. It was more of a discussion than a moan today. We hadn’t met for quite some time, so there was a lot to discuss. Books exchanged, new tech demonstrated and coffee drunk. Even made plans for a bite to eat and a possible pint in Glasgow soon. Thankfully no politics muddied the the waters.

Drove home and found that my much needed tea and always needed coffee had been delivered by the DPD man. Such a clever and useful delivery service, flexible too. Worth the three quid I paid for it.

Scamp wasn’t feeling too great but she was still having lunch when I got back. It was too wet to go back out again and I had no notion of what I could photograph in the dull, dark landscape, and anyway it was raining, so I settled for an inside ‘flooer’ photo instead. When Scamp came back she got a phone call from the doc’s to say that there was a prescription for antibiotics waiting for her. I volunteered to go for it as it was getting dark now. I didn’t even bother to take a camera. Flooers it was then.

When I got back from the chemist and after a quick raid of Tesco, I made some soup along the lines of Scamp’s Just Soup and that was dinner with a couple of slices of good bread. Not home made bread, but good all the same.

Thought I could do the fancy 4K Post Focus trick with the new camera but then realised if I was going to use room lighting with low ISO it wouldn’t work. The Post Focus trick takes about twenty odd shots in 1-2 seconds. To get them all taken in that short time, it needs to use electronic shutter and the electronic shutter don’t work with exposure times greater than 1/30th of a second. Basically, this is a bright daylight only trick. Bummer.

Got the shot done using the E-M1 and it’s a rose from some cut flowers. Not exactly what I had in mind, but it works, and it’s PoD.

I was playing around with a trial version of a new prog called Luminar4. It has the amazing ability to change the sky in a landscape instantly to any one of about 40 different ones. It apparently uses AI to accomplish it. It really is a brilliant trick, but where’s the fun in doing it instantly when you can take an hour or so in Lightroom and ON1 to do it with a lot of swearing? AI? Not for me I prefer LOI. Lack Of Intelligence.  Typical result below.  Original sky on the left.

Tomorrow if we’re fit we’re hoping to go dancing.

Dull, Dull, Dull – 7 November 2019

That sort of sums up the day. Dull with the chance of Brexit.

I’m getting fed up with the amount electioneering we are getting on the (supposed) news. The first thing they talk about is the election or Brexit. No news there. We know there’s going to be an election. We’ve been saddled with Brexit since 2016. Why is the important stuff always playing second fiddle to this nonsense.

Then it’s Labour slagging off the Conservatives. Conservatives slagging off Labour. Lib Dems labouring under a delusion that they’re going to oust both of them and the SNP slavering for another referendum. Then there’s some poor reporter who’s sent to some god-forsaken town to try to drum up some interest in the whole shebang. Haven’t you heard yet? Nobody’s interested, and apart from the party faithful, nobody has found any party in the whole mess worth voting for. For what must be the first time in my life I don’t want to vote. Scamp even suggested that I should spoil my ballot paper and I might just do that and write “NONE OF THE ABOVE” at the bottom. There, I’ve got that out of my system.

Today was a dull day, but it brightened up in the afternoon and the rain dried up too. I managed out for a walk in St Mo’s and came back with the monochrome offering at the top of the page. Walked on down to the new shops and got a nice wee bottle of wine to go with the dinner. I’d made some soup and Scamp made Chicken and Mushrooms. The wine washed it down beautifully.

After talking to Val in the morning I gave Linux on the Linx another go, but I’m getting tied in knots with it now and beginning to think that it’s more trouble than its worth. I’ll just put Windows back in, reset it to factory settings and sell the big black slab. It’s always been ok, but not great. Windows 10 kills it. Might get a few quid for it and put that to getting a replacement for my dust ridden Teazer.

No plans for tomorrow other than hopefully going to Milano Express for lunch.

Rained again last night – 3 November 2019

And most of today too.

It was one of those days that entice you out with the promise of sunshine and the unwary will venture out and end up soaked. The more circumspect will notice that there is a fine drizzle sparkling through the sunshine and wait for it to clear completely. For most of the day we were in that second group, then we made an excuse, any excuse, went out and got wet. There, that more or less sums up the day.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and then she phoned back to sort out a couple of iPhone problems for me. It’s great to have an expert on hand for just those niggling problems. After a puzzling hour Scamp and I finally managed to get my calendar and hers to speak to each other. You would think that in this day and age of technical wizardry, something as simple as sharing a calendar would be easy peasy, but it’s not. But then it’s associated with emails and it’s well known that emails and printers are the biggest nuisances in computing, other than trying to install Linux in a Linx computer that its, but that’s another story.

Here is that other story. I have a Linx 12×64, 2 in 1 laptop. It works fairly well, but it’s saddled with the despicable Windows 10 OS. It forever wants to “Get me back on track”. I don’t want to get back on track, I just want it to do what it’s told. That’s when I thought it might be a good idea to install Linux. Linux for those of you who have never heard of it is a free (as in free beer and free speech) operating system that runs on a UNIX base, much like a Mac. It’s a bit geeky, Val uses it, so it’s a lot geeky and the two of us are now competing to get it to run on our 12x64s. He’s almost there and I thought I was today until the screen on Elementary OS closed down every 15 seconds, no matter what I did to try to stop it. The challenge still continues and I’ll have another go tonight. I thought I’d broken the Linx last night when it ended up in no man’s land with no OS at all. No Linux and no Windows. Then I crossed my fingers and used Macrium to restore a backup of Windows and it rose from the dead again. I’m trying to keep this light with very little technospeak for JIC’s benefit, so I won’t explain my big mistake that led to that little problem. Suffice to say I won’t do it again … until the next time it sounds like a good idea.

Eventually Scamp harrumphed and said it was time to go out and get wet. We walked down to the new shops in the almost dry, got our messages and came home in the rain, just solid, straight down, rain. We knew we’d get wet and were dressed for it, so that was fine.

PoD tonight was taken, hand held with the pens sitting on a couple of tissues with another couple behind to hide the mess on the coffee table. I quite liked it.

Today’s blog title came from a Tom Paxton song, by the way “The Things I Notice Now”.

Tomorrow it’s Gems and I’m hoping to go out for a while, rain or shine.

A museum, a castle and a statue – 27 September 2019

A day out and about in the rain.

Despite the rain this morning, Clive and I drove over to Coatbridge to go to Summerlee. Summerlee has changed its name at least three times since it opened, but basically it’s an industrial museum. Lots of interesting exhibits of machinery and historical items, all with an industrial connection to Lanarkshire. Some were made here and some were used here. It brought back a lot of memories to me and also to Clive, I’m sure. Back out into the rain after an hour or so and drove home.

Lunch, then out again. This time we were going up the Tak Ma Doon road, over the top and on to Stirling, taking in the scenery as we went. Drove up to Stirling Castle and had a short walk down into the upper part of the town. We were just too late to have a decent look inside the castle grounds, and to walk through the grounds of the Church of the Holy Rude.

Back in the Juke and on to David Stirling’s monument between Dunblane and Doune. I must say, this is my favourite panorama anywhere in the local area. The light on the hills, the animation of the statue with his coat apparently blowing in the wind and reason for it being there make it worth visiting. David Stirling was the man who started the SAS. Drove back home along the M9 and M80 with far less than the expected miles of jams to contend with which was a great bonus.

Tonight we went out to dinner at Milano. We all had pizza. Scamp had a Vegetarian Pizza while Clive and I had Quattro Stagioni Calzone. I meant to photograph the calzones. It’s the first time I’ve seen a pizza dough sliced into four pockets and each pocket filled with a different filling. Really excellent. Scamp discovered that we were sitting next to three girls she used to know and one of them knew a woman I worked with in Cumby High! What are the chances of that?

Drinks all round when we got home to celebrate an excellent week. Really enjoyed Clive’s company and sense of humour. He brightened up our week, hope we did the same for his.

On a sad note, we discovered today that Dorothy died last night. The funeral is on the 8th of October.

PoD for today is a pano made up from six portrait frames. Taken from Stirling Castle.

Tomorrow we are aiming to get up at 6am for an early breakfast before we drive Clive to the airport.

Big Dancefloor & Hill Walking – 17 September 2019

Easily achieved my 10,000 steps and my 8 active hours today!

Out to Milton of Campsie to a fairly new church hall for an extra dance class today. Big hall, but only three couples again. We went through our paces with Quickstep and Waltz, then had a go at the Over the Rainbow set for Jive. I think we were slightly further ahead than the other two, but not by much and the size of the hall was a bit off-putting to start with. We still managed to get in folks way when dancing, but not as much as at Blackfriars. I think we’ll go back again.

Back home, Scamp was gardening as usual, but the sun was shining, so why not. I grabbed my wee camera bag and took it for a walk up Croy Hill. I’ve been meaning to climb it for a few weeks now and, as the weather was kind today, that seemed like the ideal opportunity. I made the mistake of parking at Auchinstarry which meant I had to walk up the path to the start of the real assault on the hill, but I will remember that I can park nearer to the interesting part of the hill and forego the slog up from the car park.

The main hill was fine, although it was hard going when you haven’t done this sort of thing for a few years. Great view from the top, all the way along the valley and across to Glasgow too. The light was lovely on the Campsie. Took a couple of groups of shots for an extended panorama, but Lightroom baulked at it, so I had to use Autopano Giga which apparently has been bought out and discontinued by another company. Such a pity as it was an expensive, but really useful panorama maker. It was based on a free program, but the company who developed it added lots of bits and pieces that made it far more user friendly. That’s the way of things these days. After all that, I wasn’t that impressed with my pano, much preferring the view across to Bar Hill, the next Roman fort on the line of the Antonine Wall. That’s the one that got PoD.

Tonight I tried to update the firmware on our NAS drive, but it was a complete disaster from start to finish. It’s a Western Digital MyCloud and it’s as slow as treacle on a Mac. On a PC it’s no problem. I thought the ‘automatic updater’ had ‘bricked’ it, but it came back on line again after a cold restart. Might have a go at a manual install tomorrow.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to give some blood for my PSA test and for a diabetic check. Best to get them both done at the same time.

When a plan goes awry and Mickysoft get it right – 16 September 2019

It was one of those days where I’d planned what I wanted to do and how to do it.

It was one of those days when the planning went to pot right from the start. I had an idea that I could install an old version of AutoCad that I got, legally, years ago in the Linx. The installation went well after a shaky start when Windows 10 kept interrupting to tell me it was time to “Get back on track”. This happens occasionally and if I tell it to go ahead, it just clears the screen and displays the annoying message again, and again, ad nauseam. I finally clicked “Update and Restart”. It didn’t update, just restarted, but when I looked the “Update and Restart” message had gone, so for once, Win 10 was satisfied that I was back on track. Now I could settle down to installing AutoCad. The installation went well and then when I clicked the icon the spinning wheel spun for a while, stopped spinning and so did AutoCad. Tried again with even less success. Not even a spinning wheel to infer that something was happening. I closed the laptop and went upstairs to avoid Gems.

I had been intending posting a parcel to Hazy and driving in to Glasgow in the morning. It was now early afternoon, there was no point in going in to Glasgow now and a black cloud had descended on me, but I did get the parcel posted Hazy! Outside the sun was shining, but I couldn’t be bothered to take any of the cameras with me for a walk, so I just went for a drive instead.

It was a good idea to take the laptop upstairs, because when I was out, I remembered that if you right click on a recalcitrant app on Win 10, you can sometimes encourage it to work by coaxing it into believing it’s running on an older OS. That’s what I did and after some number crunching it decided that the old AutoCad would work better in Windows XP, probably the most resilient and trustworthy OS Mickysoft has made. Tried it and it worked. How amazing. Everyone said that AutoCad 6 wouldn’t run on anything newer than Windows XP, even Microsoft said so. Then they make it believe it’s running on Windows XP and it works!! Sometimes Mickysoft do get it right. After that I struggled for a good hour trying to remember the commands and tweaks to draw in AutoCad. Just in case you’re wondering what I’m drawing, it’s a portable, One Size Fits All, foldable lens hood for the Oly and Panasonic lenses. Yes, I could have drawn it old-style on paper, on a drawing board, with instruments, but where’s the fun in that?!

By the time I’d managed to draw circles and straight lines properly it was time for Salsa, the black cloud had gone. In the last night of the intermediate class we covered an old move, Elliem which I should know, but couldn’t get right tonight. Also a new move which was much more complicated, but I got right every time. Don’t know how that happened. In our advanced class we did three new moves called New Move 1, New Move 2 and New Move 3. How we’re going to remember which one is 1 and which one is 3 next week I do not know. Also found out that Jamie G is not going to be teaching on Wednesdays after the end of September, due to pressure of work. That’s a pity. A vacuum that will need to be filled.

It may be partly filled by a new ballroom class we’re hopefully testing out tomorrow in Milton of Campsie, which is a bit of a trek for us. We’ll have to see what it’s like.

PoD was a grab shot of a cactus that’s been growing happily in the downstairs toilet for about 30 years. It’s a fair size now, but the original plant is still there, growing in an ice cream tub that came from Netherburn! I really should replant it.

Tomorrow hopefully dancing in a new venue and more AutoCad tutorials to read.

A trip through history – 15 July 2019

Our own history and even further back.

I’d been reading a blog post by one of the girls from Salsa.  She is one of the ones Shannon used to call her “Expert Girls”.  Now that may conjure up entirely the wrong picture.  Anyway, she was writing about Craignethan Castle in South Lanarkshire.  When I was at school, nobody called it Craignethan, everybody called it Tillietudlem because it was said to be the inspiration for the castle of that name in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Old Mortality.   Back in the early ’80s we lived near the castle and used to walk along the line of the old railway for a day out at Tillietudlem.  I think that must have stuck in my mind, because neither of us wanted to get stuck in a traffic jam trying to get to the coast today, but we agreed it would be good to be out somewhere.  I suggested Craignethan as that ‘somewhere’, and it was settled, that’s where we went.

I’d forgotten quite how far out in the sticks it was.  Netherburn was the back of beyond, but Tillietudlem was beyond that again.  The sun came out for us when we got there and we spent a good hour or two remembering simpler days when a walk to the castle was a great experience for all the family.  We drove back through Netherburn, but hardly recognised any of it at all.  Stopped for a roll and a cup of coffee at the antique centre at Garrion Bridge, then home.

The sun had disappeared by the time we got home, but it was still warm, so I went out for a walk over St Mo’s and got today’s PoD of a damselfly.  As usual, all is not as it seems.  It’s a bit of a Frankenstein damselfly.  I had one good shot of its head and most of it’s body apart from the tail, and another with less of  the head, but all of the tail.  It’s a simple thing to join the two in Photoshop, so that’s what I did.  More photos of the day in Flickr (again, if Flickr is playing nice).

After a bit of an argument about how to make a quiche, we finally collaborated and made two.  We’ve eaten one and the other will do lunch tomorrow.  Pudding today was Orange jelly with our own stewed rhubarb in it.  Quite, quite delicious.

Didn’t manage to get a seat in the garden in the sun today, but did get one at Tillietudlem, watching and listening to the swallows flying round the castle.  It was a good day.

Tomorrow Scamp’s getting her hair cut and maybe I’ll go in to Glasgow and get my number 3 all over, just to tidy myself up a bit.  Rain is predicted 🙁