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 🙁

 

Out in the countryside – 22 April 2019

We certainly were out in the countryside early this morning.

Scamp didn’t want to miss a minute of today’s beautiful weather. That’s why we were out and walking along the Forth & Clyde canal just after 10am. It seemed today was cycling day rather than Earth Day because we must have been passed by about twenty cyclists of varying degrees of fitness and skill as we walked the canal. We reached Twechar about 11am and started to walk back using the old railway as our path. That’s where today’s PoD came from. There was just a hint of blue haze as we made our way back to Auchinstarry, but I was fairly sure my software combination of Lightroom and ON1 would bring back the true colour and it did work out well. We crossed over at the Plantation and from there back on to the canal path to The Boathouse or “HEBO HOUSE” as it seems to have renamed itself. I actually like “HEBO HOUSE”. It’s got a Nordic sound to it. I’m sure the Kilsyth folk could spin a tale that it means “House by the still waters” in Lallans dialect.

Drove home and had lunch before Scamp parked her sun bed in the garden and waited for the sun to make itself known. I started on my task for the day which was to recreate the focaccia bread we’d bought in Embra on Saturday, “The day of the Signal Failure”. It was a bit of a faff making this sloppy dough. I started out making it in the food mixer, but thought I’d like to try hand kneading it, that’s when I found out just how sloppy and slithery it really was. Finally I gave in and got the Kenwood to do the heavy lifting. Bear in mind, this bread has 140ml of good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO to those in the know), whereas my usual bread dough has about 30ml. That’s how it became so slippery. However, once it was safely ensconced in its plastic tub it didn’t look so bad and after an hour it had completed its first rise. Next task was to slide it out of the tub, cut it in two and form it into two oval shapes on the baking trays. This part was easier than I’d anticipated, in fact, the worst was now past and the two focaccia breads have now been part consumed, although we did leave a bit for tomorrow. Focaccia is a dawdle as long as you have a Kenwood Chef mixer with a dough hook to do the hard work.

Basically that was it for the day. Scamp made an excellent Spaghetti dello Chef for dinner and we scoffed it and the best part of a bottle of white wine in the garden.

Spoke to JIC tonight and watched the final of University Challenge where Embra beat St Edmund Hall and the despicable Leo “Mmmmm”.

Tomorrow we’re off to Falkirk in the morning, hopefully a sunny Falkirk. Lunch for Scamp and coffee for me in the afternoon.

White Rabbits (x3) – 1 February 2019

Traditional welcome to the first day of the month. Today it wasn’t just the rabbits that were white. Everything was.

It all started out so nicely with frost on the cars and therefore no great incentive to go out, so we just read for a while and then had a coffee. After that we simply had to drag ourselves out to buy Tesco.

After lunch I decided to try my luck in the bogs again and this time I found the dry path and still got some photos! Impressed with the ability of the ice to hold the weight of the Oly 10, if not me! Also impressed with the Oly app on the iPhone that allows me to control the camera through a private WiFi connection. That’s how you get these low down shots like today’s PoD.

It was when I was walking back that the snow came on and it didn’t go off for about four hours. Now we don’t just have frost, we have snow too. Maybe the snow has done its work because the temperature is no 0.7ºc. Positive 0.7ºc!

That’s about it for today. I’m off now to get a sketch done for 28 Drawings Later on Facebook. If I have time I’ll even add it to the blog.

As Promised!

Tomorrow it all depends on the weather. I looks like the sky will be clear, but we’ll see!

Different Dances – 23 January 2019

It was cold this morning when we woke and that cold stayed all day.

Phoned the surgery to get the result of my blood test and it was fine. It was back to normal, but the doc had given me a course of penicillin to take to completely clear up the lingering UTI. Good result. Good start to the day.

Drove into town to go dancing and found out that we were doing a host of dances today. First we rattled through the seven spins of our jive routine. Then Michael started us on the Rumba which we hadn’t done since the Hamilton class years and years ago. After that we had an introduction to the Cha-Cha, which, again we had done before, mainly on sea days on a variety of cruises, but never in so much detail. Who knew your feet had to stay on the floor at all times? Finally we did a fairly representative waltz and a quickstep. Five dances in an hour. That’s not bad going. I think that’s us prepared for the workshops on Saturday in Strathaven, provided we can lay our hands on a pair of boilersuits.

Walking back from Blackfriars I looked along Hutcheson Street and saw the old Hutcheson’s Hospital lit up by the afternoon sun. It looked like a good subject and that’s why it became PoD. A fair bit of post processing in LR and ON1 2019 which meant the digital noise was a bit overpowering, but I managed to tone it down a bit in LR. Bought a couple of half pans of watercolour paint to beef up the Joan of Art painting box.

It tried to snow a bit as we were leaving Glasgow, but didn’t come to much. We weren’t sure if we were going to salsa tonight, but finally agreed that it would be fine. That was before the sleet and the snow on the M80 going in. Luckily again, it didn’t last and we arrived in fairly good time for Scamp to help out with the last half of the 6.30 class.

Moves in the 7.30 class were Astrella Complicada, Prado and Bayamo. Enjoyed the class although it was smaller than previous weeks.

Tomorrow I’m a Joiner for Shona fitting a lock to her bedroom door and then a Roadie for Scamp who’s got a gig for the Probus club. Not her favourite audience.

Out early – 17 January 2019

Not very early, just after 10am, but much earlier than usual

Scamp was off to see Isobel for coffee at 10am and I was up and out a few minutes later. Just a walk over to St Mo’s to see if there was anything worth taking the camera out of the bag for. I’d put some beeswax on to my old Lafuma boots which are about twenty years old now. Not the best boots in the world, but they’ve a Goretex lining and they’ve a decent sole, so they’re better than my Clarks boots, just as long as I remember to wax them.

I was just walking towards the woods when I saw the three deer I was hoping to photograph, running away. Oh well, hopefully there will be other things to photograph. Despite the blue skies and the ice on the ponds, there was nothing that fired my interest and I was walking back home when I saw the opportunity to take another low level shot by resting the camera on some thin ice. It’s a view I couldn’t get any other way. The Nikon was out of the question. Too heavy and wrong lens selection. It had to be the Teazer today and it performed quite well. I’d cleaned it last week by using the Dyson to suck some of the dust from the lens. I hadn’t believed this would work, but it did. Best of the shots is above after a fair bit of work in ON1 2019 and Lightroom.

Got home just before Scamp and then we went out to recce tomorrow’s venue for dinner with Margaret and Billy. Their treat, their choice of restaurant. They’d chosen John Carrigan’s in Blantyre. Now I know where Blantyre is and I know how to get there, but just in case, I punched the postcode into the satnav and blindly followed it. It was a strange route that eventually took us within 100m of my Auntie Mary’s house. The last time I was there was easily 45 years ago, but I still remembered the geography of the place. Really strange seeing the changes that had taken place. Even stranger was when the satnav said “turn left then immediately turn right”. That’s when I saw a pub that I used to pass on my way to work 50 years ago!! It looked exactly the same and I don’t think it had been painted since. Despite the strange route, the satnav did bring us exactly to the restaurant. I decided to follow my nose to find our way back home rather than take the twisty turny road we’d come. My route took almost the same time, but was much easier.

Back home, there was just enough time for a cup of tea before I was out again to the doc’s. The doc hadn’t been happy with my last blood test and wanted another one now that a month had elapsed since the previous one. Unfortunately, just before it was my turn, he was called away on an emergency. I hate waiting for the doctor or the dentist but I dare say emergencies happen and must take priority. I was dealt with fairly quickly and then was ‘lucky’ enough to get an appointment tomorrow. So, after a busy day today, I’m off to the health centre tomorrow for a blood test at 8.50am no less!! I don’t usually surface until 10am! What are these medical people thinking, getting a pensioner up at that time of the morning?

Well, if I’m up that early, I might as well take my camera with me and hopefully get some early morning shots of those deer before they have fully woken up.

The Plan – 3 January 2019

The plan was to get up early and fix the kitchen light. It didn’t work out that way, neither did the kitchen light.

Ok, we did get up fairly early. Before 10am is fairly early these days. Started the fix on the kitchen light, with limited success. That translates as it didn’t work. It looked like the fluorescent tube was a goner. So, it was time to have a coffee, start to solve today’s sudoku and take stock. In the mean time I got a text to say that my pills were ready in Boots. Scamp suggested we go to Tesco (surprise!) where she could get milk and stuff and post the calendars.  At the same time I could go to Boots to get my pills. Then we’d go to B&Q to get a new lamp for the kitchen. On the way we could drop the old HP computer off at the dump. That sounded like a solid Plan B.

Tesco and Boots were no problem, nor was the council dump, it was when we got to B&Q that the problems started. We’d had the old fluorescent light for so long we’d forgotten that they are no longer made or to be more accurate, they’ve been superseded by LED units. The LED lamps seem to have no user replaceable parts in them any more, are simpler to fit and are more expensive, of course. No problem, we got one.

Got home and fitting was simpler than the previous one, once I’d drilled the fitting holes in the right place (second time lucky). Also lucky not to electrocute myself when I accidentally crossed two live wires. Silly bugger. Turn the power off at the box before doing anything with ‘lecky. Those tiny little LEDs don’t half provide a powerful light. Nice white light too. Apparently they have a five year lifespan. We’ll see.

Today’s PoD was taken in the front garden and processed in ON1 2019 where it did a magic trick called Focus Stacking. To prevent your eyes glazing over I’ll leave it at that. If you want to know any more Google it. Green shoots in the first week of January. Maybe Hazy is right and spring is just round the corner. We’ll see.

Lady from the pest control company phoned to say that someone will be here tomorrow to set down some poison outside the house in the hope that the rodents will take it to their nest and kill off the whole lot of them. Now last night the rodents were running around like mad thing right above my head and I was getting a bit upset, so Scamp suggested we email our MSP and see if he could do anything. Suddenly today we get a call from the pest control company suggesting their own Plan B. Coincidence?

It wasn’t the brightest of days today, in fact it was pretty dull all day so we didn’t get very far, but we do have a bright new sun in the kitchen. Maybe tomorrow we’ll get out somewhere nice, after the “Rat Man” has been.

Just the essentials – 26 December 2018

The essentials in question were milk, churros, strawberries and chocolate raisins

Felt a lot better when I woke today, and even better still after a shower. It felt like my head was my own again. It didn’t help with today’s Sudoku puzzle. You’d think that they’d make it a bit easier at Christmas, wouldn’t you? But no. Today’s was a real stinker. When I eventually solved it I had a cup of Christmas Blend coffee and then went out for a walk, I was feeling that good.

I walked over to St Mo’s, saw the group of seagulls standing on a wee hillock and took the shot. Then I went round the pond and was heading towards the Marks & Spencer food place at Broadwood roundabout, but had to stop and catch my breath because I was knackered. It’s amazing how a simple thing like a cold can sap your energy. However, I was on a mission. I was hunter-gatherer and I was out to get milk. Also the weather was more much more conducive to being out than it had been for the last few days.  No blue sky, but the clouds were quite high and it wasn’t raining.

Got to the shop and grabbed the Milk. That was when I saw the Churros and decided they’d be good for later. Next I chanced upon some Strawberries, Egyptian strawberries, but I wasn’t going to hold that against them, especially as they were reduced, being near their sell by date. Finally I grabbed a packet of Chocolate Raisins, which Scamp loves, as a thank-you for putting up with me yesterday. Got to the counter and the woman asked me “Any fuel?” I said “No, just the essentials. milk, churros, strawberries and chocolate raisins.” That made her smile, and me too when she replied “That will be £9.18 for your essentials then!” The walk back was a bit slower than the walk there and I managed to get the basis of this shot. It is a fake of course. The sky came from a library shot, but the Cow Parsley was real today. Blended seamlessly in ON1 2019.

After that we set to and cleared out the bottom level of the cupboard next to the bathroom as Angela next door said that the rodents in her house had chewed their way in there and started sniffing around some Christmas prezzies she had stored in there. We didn’t find any evidence of rodents in ours, but oh boy there was a whole load of junk, most of which has now been bagged ready to go to the dump on the next available day.

Today’s dinner was a much simpler and less extravagant affair than yesterday’s. Starter was Scamp’s “Just Lentil Soup”. Main was veg pakora I got at the butchers the other day and it was plenty hot and spicy. Pudding was a Fruited Caramel Brandy Pudding with a Brandy Caramel Sauce Centre. Quite a mouthful, as was the pudding. Oh yes, and I baked a loaf that we haven’t cut open yet, but looks good

Tomorrow we may take some plastic bags of rubbish to the tip. Maybe a walk and a light lunch somewhere too.

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