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.

An improving situation – 8 November 2018

Today was indeed a better day than yesterday.

Went with Scamp to buy provisions for tomorrow’s dinner with Crawford & Nancy. I say “Went with Scamp” because she was driving. It was good to look out at the world zipping past the side window. It seems as if they’re putting the roof on the shops in the new retail park already. Once the roof is on and the walls are up, they are good, fitting out the insides. While Scamp was in Tesco, I picked up my repeat prescription from Boots and came away with an additional bottle of stuff that seems to have cured the stomach problem that has been nagging away at me for the past few days. Thanks to a very helpful pharmacist I didn’t even have to pay for it because I got it on the NHS. Isn’t it great to live in Scotland (when it’s not raining).

After lunch I messed around with ON1 2018 for a while before being told it would be good for me to go out and take a walk in the fresh air. In other words, Scamp wanted to watch her recorded episode episode of River City. There wasn’t much doing in St Mo’s, but I took a few arty shots of cow parsley seed heads knowing that they’d be turned into moody mono shots later, and they were.

When I got back and with today’s images safely in the computer I started, under supervision, to cook the stew for tomorrow’s main – Steak Pie. With it happily bubbling away I made that moody mono shot of the cow parsley seed head. Then I drank from the bottle I got from the chemist. The bottle that said “Drink Me!” I didn’t shrink or fall down any rabbit holes, but let’s say it did what it said on the bottle. Feeling better tonight.

I’m not going to bore you with all the conversions and stuff that were done to the photo. It is what it is.

Tomorrow looks like nasty weather and we’re taking Shona in to hospital for her op. Alarm has just been set for 6am! Picking her up at 6.45 because she has to be there for 7.30.

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.

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.

More problems – 21 October 2018

Just when I thought I was ahead of the game, the game overtook me!

I was just getting myself organised last night (This was written on Monday) and tried to send an email to my brother when the whole email system seemed to go belly up. I could receive on all my accounts, but could only send on blueyonder. Couldn’t work it out. Then I went online and tried there. Everything was fine, so the problem was at the computer end. Still tried like a dug wi’ a burst ba’ to fix it, but eventually, well after 12 I gave up and went to bed. This morning after our flu jags I worked out a plan of attack that seems to have worked. I think something has gone wrong with the automatic email setup script, so I tried setting up manually and it worked. Now I need to be a bit more brutal and remove some of my unused or little used accounts as they only clutter up the place.

<Sunday>
What happened today?

Dull day that promised it would brighten up later. Later was much later, however in the morning I did today’s sketch which is of the waste basket in the kitchen for all the veggie stuff that’s going in the compost bin. Not the prettiest of subjects, but I liked the colour and shapes in there.

After that I wrote half of the email to my brother and saved the draft that would cause so much trouble, (or reveal so much trouble) later.

In the afternoon I went for a walk in St Mo’s and took the wee panda minifig for a photoshoot in the wild. Quite liked the finished article.

Went dancing to Maracas. It was ok, but far too many bachata tracks and far too few salsa ones. Still, met folk there we hadn’t seen for ages.

Came home and watched an interesting American GP. The pundits were wrong. Ferrari are not dead yet.

That’s when the problems started, and you know the rest.

Tomorrow flu jags and then maybe the gym.

The wrong lens – 19 October 2018

Today started off a bit dull and deteriorated.

<Technospeak>
The bonus of having two camera systems is that you can carry the light one without breaking your back on longer walks and the heavier one when you know where you’re going and you want really good quality. The problem occurs when you mix up the lenses. You carry the heavy camera complete with long lens and you *think* you’ve lifted a macro lens as well. You’ve been out for half an hour or so and you see an opportunity to get a macro shot, but the macro lens in your bag won’t fit. When you examine it more carefully, you find that it’s a 200mm lens for the other camera system. Bummer. No macros today then. That was this afternoon and I settled for the wide angle shot across St Mo’s pond as PoD instead of the macro of the rose hips I was considering. It took a fair bit of post processing to get what I wanted. I used Lightroom to develop two shots and then used ON1 to merge the sky from one into the foreground of the other. It works … kind of. It’s a case of taking the best parts of each and creating a new photo. Ansel Adams said we don’t take photos, we make them. So true.
</Technospeak>

That was the end of the day and the beginning of the good light which only lasted for about half an hour. The day started dull and got progressively worse until the rain started then it really went downhill. Couldn’t settle to do anything, that’s why I finally put on my rain coat and went out to see what the world could offer me, my Nikon and my 10-20mm lens, the 200mm being a passenger. After I got the photos for the paste up, I walked over behind St Mo’s school and down to the tarmac path. Caught a flicker from the bushes in the corner of my eye that turned out to be a young deer, not 3m away from me. I looked at it, it looked at me and we both decided to ignore each other. I stopped to take my camera out and it was off through the trees. I mean it was off THROUGH the trees. It just seemed to plough through them as if they weren’t there. Such a strange surreal experience. Saw nothing else worth photographing, but stopped for a while to inspect the new retail park that’s being thrown up across from St Mo’s school. Steelwork is up and I’d imagine the roof will be on in a week or two, then the sheeting on the walls the next week. That will make it wind and water tight enough for the sparks, plumbers and bricklayers to get in and work through the winter. Should be ready for opening by early summer I expect.

I couldn’t settle on a subject for a sketch tonight and I finally grabbed the two chicken salt and peppers and put them in front of me. They became Inktober No 19.

Tomorrow looks even worse than today, so we may just go in to Stirling for lunch and messages.

Pansies and Painting – 18 October 2018

Pansies were what Scamp requested for her Thursday.

Bright sunny start to the day. It was good just sitting on the sofa in the sunshine. However, when I went out to retrieve the bin after it had been emptied, it was cold and there were cars everywhere. Is this a result of the general lack of money. This is the middle of the October week. A week when everyone goes away for a few days because the schools are off, or at least they used to do that. Maybe there’s less money around and it’s a stay at home holiday now.

I started looking for something to sketch and put pen to paper up in the back bedroom, just doodling really, then it started to become a drawing of the top of my painting cupboard and, because it was almost all straight lines, it became a perspective drawing. I left it for a while and Scamp and I went out for lunch at a garden centre nearby, well it’s in Falkirk, but that’s not really that far.

The place was full of old folk, most of them older than us! Almost all of them had weans with them. Grandweans I’d guess and that began to strengthen my theory about a general lack of money. Our soup and a coffee (with a shared Vanilla Slice) was a fairly frugal lunch too. Scamp got some bright yellow pansies, winter flowering pansies and some little daisy like flowers that looked nice and cheery.

Came home and decided the drawing looked ok. Sometime you just have to walk away from a sketch and come back with fresh eyes. It looked ok, but it needed a bit of colour to cheer it up and that’s what I did, then left it again to go and take some photos in St Mo’s. That’s where the PoD came from. Again, I took the ‘Big Dog’, but this time I took the Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens. I really miss the flip up screen the Olys have, but the quality is so much better from the Nikon. Didn’t see much else that interested me. The fight between the swans seems to be reaching phase 2 with one (the loser?) sitting out on the grass while the others swam in the pond. Took a few HDR bracketed shots and a few panorama shots too, but the light was going and so was I.

Added a bit more colour to the sketch and that’s what you see here. Some might say it’s more a painting than an ink sketch, but there’s ballpoint ink and drawing ink in it, so it’s as much an ink sketch with paint than a painting with ink outlines.

Scamp’s says the tooth is still not properly fixed yet, but it won’t be until she goes back to get it treated next week. Maybe it’s more the bill that’s giving her pain!

On Reporting Scotland today there was a report that the Winter Garden at the People’s Palace is to be closed indefinitely at the end of the year. Apparently it needs at least £5m worth of repairs! The People’s Palace too will close for a shorter time, but the Winter Garden is where I have my roll ’n’ sausage and Scamp has her two slice of toast of the occasional Sunday morning, and where I go for a walk among the plants. What are we going to do? Glasgow Council, get your finger out and get this fixed pronto, Tonto!

Tomorrow is to be a bit cloudier than today. No plans yet.

Fort Apache – The Bronx – 5 October 2018

Today we went to the Fort. No longer Fort Apache.

Just went for a run, because we had nowhere else to go today. A few hours of retail therapy without too much expense. Also needed to clear my head and find something to draw. As it happened, I found something to draw on instead. Last year I discovered a lovely A5 landscape format sketchbook in Paperchase. It was only £3, half price. I presume they weren’t selling well and that was the reason for the price drop. Paper was good although it didn’t take a watercolour wash very well. Still, it was fine for pencil and ink sketching. Best of all, it was ‘stitched bound’ which means the book opens flat. Perfect for long perspective sketches. I went back to see if they had any more, but they were all gone. I’ve kept checking in the Glasgow shop to see if they got any more in, but all their sketchbooks now are wiro bound which is hopeless for what I want. Today I went in to Paperchase at the Fort and found two A5 hard backed landscape sketchbooks. I bought them on the spot. If only I’d looked there last year I wouldn’t have had to skimp with my last few pages in the one I had. The only problem was I had to pay full price for them. A small price to pay, if you pardon the pun.

After that we went to Morrison’s and bought it, just as we sometimes buy Tesco. Went in to get fennel and fish and came out with a trolley load of stuff. Then we tried to find our way home through the labyrinth that is the new motorway ‘system’. Finally found myself at a roundabout I recognised and from there it was easy. Up until then it had been a nightmare because the Juke’s sat nav didn’t have the new roads in it. £125 for a new SD card with an updated map? I don’t think so.

Came home and went for a walk in St Mo’s where I found the fungi PoD. Quite liked it, even if the ISO was a bit high and so was the grain.

Left the sketching too late and was left with a poor drawing. I must try to get things done a bit earlier tomorrow.

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It looks like it will be the better day of the weekend.

Dug wi’ a burst ba’ – 30 September 2018

Hazy wanted to Skype today. Skype said No!

Scamp got a message today from Hazy asking if we were free to Skype. It seemed a good way to test out Scamp’s new ‘puter’s communication setup. However …

We tried for about half an hour to get Skype to connect, well, that’s not entirely correct. We could see and hear Hazy, but nothing we did would allow her to see or hear us. We tried everything and eventually gave up on the shiny new HP and conducted the conversation on the iMac. After our virtual meeting was over, it was back to troubleshooting the PC version. I checked that the microphone was working in Wonderful Windows 10 and it was. I checked that the webcam was working in Wonderful Windows 10 and it was, however when we tried to combine these two successes in Skype it failed. Now who owns Skype? That’s right, Mickysoft. That probably explains why it didn’t work. Scamp told me not to waste the afternoon on it, but this was rapidly becoming a “dug wi’ a burst ba’ “ situation. I wasn’t going to let it go.

Eventually I had to give up. Uninstalled the troublesome Skype then re-installed it. When we got it working, but because Skype is a Mickysoft product, it registered it to Scamp’s login name, not the Skype name she’s had for the last fifty million years. Not only that, it had lost all her contacts. Uninstall and reinstall again and the same thing happened. Only once she’d logged out and logged in again could she change her Skype name. Why does Mickysoft screw up everything it gets its claws into? Finally we could communicate across the living room with a degree of feedback through Skype. I think we’re good to go now Hazy!

Most of the afternoon had gone, but there was some good light left, so I went for a walk around St Mo’s and spotted Mr Grey up a tree. He must have felt safe and secure there because he didn’t fly off even when I walked right to the shore of the pond and stole his soul for PoD. I was glad that I’d got him, because there was little else to photograph today.

Made some bread which we’ll need to have tomorrow because it was too late to have with our dinner. Also, the tomatoes that were roasting for the tomato soup are still in the tray in the oven because Mickysoft couldn’t leave Skype alone (and neither could I). That too will have to wait until tomorrow. However my lamb shoulder shank was very nice if a little fatty. The other one will do for tomorrow’s dinner. Scamp’s stuffed Portobello Mushroom looked dismal, but she declared it delightful.

Swallow Watch:  Almost forgot to mention, this week I did see some swallows flying very high and this is week 40.

Tomorrow? Well, it’s a free day. No Gems. What shall we do with it, I wonder?

Dragonflies, Porridge and Lentil Soup – 21 September 2018

Although not in that order.

Scamp was feeling a little under the weather this morning so I let her sleep on and got up and made some porridge for me. It’s a long while since I’ve had this Scottish breakfast. You can tell it’s the Scottish version if it comes unsweetened or even with added salt. Only sassenachs have honey / sugar / syrup on their porridge. Me? I take it as it comes. No salt and certainly nothing of a sugary nature. I make mine with oats, and milk. Boiled in the microwave for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. I find it funny, the looks I get, when we go on cruises and I add salt to my porridge. That look of horror from the english who don’t know any better 😉
After an hour or so, I took up her light breakfast. No porridge of any kind for Scamp. I was pleased to see her looking a lot better than yesterday.

We had an easy morning and after lunch Scamp instructed me in the noble art of making Lentil Soup. I’ve made soup before, in fact I’d half intended to make Tomato Soup for tonight’s dinner, but I’ve never attempted soup using the time honoured “a handful of this and a pinch of that and just about this amount of water”. It’s what my mum used in her cooking and what Scamp’s mum used too. I’m more a ‘time and temperature’ person, working to millilitres and grams where possible. Anyway, the soup turned out too thin, so I had to add “Just about a handful more lentils.” Then it was fine. I also made some bread using grams and millilitres, and felt so much more in control.

With the soup thickening and the bread proving, I walked over to St Mo’s to get some photos in the afternoon sunshine, because today we had sunshine almost all day. A bit of a breeze, but nothing like the gales we had midweek. PoD was the black dragonfly resting on the boardwalk over the mashes at St Mo’s. I used my usual method of taking a shot, moving closer, taking a shot, moving closer etc. Except, my final shots were taken at almost 1:1 and the dragonfly hadn’t even twitched. Maybe it was exhausted or maybe it was doing what dragons seem to do, sizing me up.

Came home and had soup and bread for dinner with a recovering Scamp. She does do a good lesson on soup making.

Tomorrow if the weather fairies are correct, should be a decent day, so we may go out for a run in a shiny clean Juke. Where, is open to suggestions!