I have seen the future and it works – 15 September 2018

Electricity travels at almost the speed of light. Diesel is hard to spell and is a fossil fuel.

Today we took the ‘leccy train to Embra. We didn’t intentionally go the ‘leccy route. It just happened that the train we were waiting for was powered by the new clean, invisible power source. The Stirling train that preceded it was powered by old fashioned, smelly, hard to spell deisildesil, diesel. That’s because they don’t have electricity in Stirling yet. They still have gas lights in the street and coal fires. I do feel sorry for them.

The super fast ‘leccy train took longer than the diesel trains they are replacing. Maybe it was cheap, slow electricity they were using or maybe it was Abellio who now run Scotrail who couldn’t manage the rail system properly. Surely not! Anyway, we got to Haymarket and walked up the road for morning coffee in Nero, but not before I set the Samyang loose in Ladyfield which is a great canyon between large imposing office blocks. That’s where PoD came from. I really like the perspective this lens gives. With one in the bag, I could enjoy my morning coffee.

After that we walked up through the Grassmarket to see if anyone was actually selling grass. They weren’t, but I wasn’t surprised because I hadn’t seen anyone selling hay at Haymarket. (Sounds better with a Chic Murray delivery.) From there we headed for the Royal Mile which was mobbed. I was beginning to think that there had been an extension to the Fringe Festival, but it was just the usual bunch of escapologists, jugglers and fire eaters performing for the tourists. We’re not tourists, we LIVE in Scotland. There did seem to be quite a lot of tourists about, but I later checked and the Norwegian Jade cruise ship was docked at Leith, so that probably explained things.

We walked back down through the Old Town and from there along George Street, then back along Rose Street, eventually giving up and heading for the tea room at the National Gallery where our lunch was a shared baguette of smoked salmon with leaves and mayo and a two cups of tea, paper cups, to Scamp’s disgust. After our light lunch we just got the train home. We’d had a bit of a wander around the Capital and were ready to return to the real world.

It was a dull day weatherwise with nothing much to recommend it. I took a few more photos to test out the ability of the Samyang, but am fairly confident that at f8 or better it can handle almost anything I can throw at it. It’s a keeper, for sure.

Got the ‘leccy train back home and it was fast! Impressively so. Shave a good 10 minutes off a 45 minute journey. The folk in Stirling don’t know what they’re missing. They thought it was a great thing last year when the diesel trains replaced the steam trains they’d had for years. Not to mention that the carriages had roofs, not like the open carriages they’d had before.

Tomorrow it’s the Cumbersheugh 10k, so if we’re not out by 10am we’re locked in until midday. I don’t suppose we’ll mind as the weather is to be ‘Scottish’. Hopefully dancing later.

Stirling – 11 August 2018

The city with something for everyone.

While JIC, Sim and Steffi were visiting Stirling Castle, we too, or we two, were also in the town. It’ll never be a city to me. It’s just a jumped up town with a good curry shop and an interesting art gallery, oh yes, and a Waterstones and a Nero. The rest I can do without quite happily. Glasgow? It’s a city. Embra is a city too, Even Aberdeen is a city covered in granite and seagulls, but Stirling is just a decent sized town. Our reason for visiting today was to have lunch in that good curry shop. A few years ago it was on a downward slope, but it seems to have got its act together again and is now back on the up. New seating and maybe a bit less scruffy interior, but thankfully they decided to keep the menu as it was. Wise people. Scamp’s Veg Pakora followed by Veg Dhansak seemed to satisfy the lady and although my Haggis Pakora was a bit heavy and my Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna was a bit too spicy, it was deliciously sweet and full of flavour, so I won’t complain. It seems, like I said, that they are back on track. The foodies said so!

Had a look in the Art Gallery and appraised the offerings there. Some were just too twee and rejected out of hand, but a couple of others were in the category or “I’d but that if my lottery ticket came up”. Not having bought a lottery ticket, that purchase was unlikely, but the artist, Julian Mason, really had worked out how to paint wet water. As if I could do anything like that.

When we’d parked we couldn’t help but notice the number of Italian motorhomes that seemed to have taken over the carpark. They were still there when we were going home. Scamp thought they were something to do with the European Championships which finish tomorrow. It’s as likely an explanation as any.

Not long after we got home, the other three arrived back from Stirling Castle and Doune Castle where Steffi had re-encacted the Quest for the Holy Grail, complete with coconut shells, as so many have done in the past I seem to remember.

I drove them all in to Glasgow to meet ’The Boys’, Andy and Chris, with respective wives. We’re not expecting them back until late when old folks like us will be tucked up in bed. On the way back I got some ice cream for Scamp and me from the cafe in Muirhead. Also got some Oddfellows sweeties and a stick of Gin ’n’ Tonic rock which tasted neither of Gin, nor of Tonic. Disappointing. Oddfellows are half finished though!

Today’s PoD is Scamp’s little rose bush she has grown from seed. It’s Sunday name is Little Gem, but it’s always been called Rosie and it flowers continuously all summer. It deserves its place as PoD.

Tomorrow the visitors may be going to Embra and we may go to Glasgow. It all depends on the weather.

Thunderbolts and Lightning – 1 June 2018

Very, very frightening.

Not really all that frightening as it turned out, and it didn’t last all that long either. It was a dull morning when we woke, but then the sun came out for a little while and we decided to risk a visit to Waitrose in Stirling to get the makings of tomorrow’s dinner. John and Marion were coming to dinner tomorrow and Scamp had a menu in mind that needed lots of things. I had nothing in mind. To be more exact, I had nothing in MY mind. I was just dodging along and being the driver today. Came back laden with goodies of all different kinds from the great Waitrose.

Came home and had lunch which for me was a piece on Brie, Apple slices and Honey. On brown bread it’s an absolute delight. Sat on the step at the back door eating this and watching the clouds massing. Wunderground app predicted thunderstorms by 2.15pm. It was now 1.30pm and it looked like they were on track with their predictions. At about 2.20pm the first drops of rain fell and then the distant thunder started. Soon it was all round us and lightning flashes too. It only lasted about half an hour, but the rain stayed for a couple of hours before fading away. We’d got the plants out of the greenhouse at the first drops of rain and I’m sure the plants enjoyed their little downpour. Saved us watering them. When we were sitting watching the rain I was thinking how lucky it was that we hadn’t gone to Gardening Scotland today, its opening day. It will still be there on Sunday I’m sure.

I had intended going out to St Mo’s after the rain stopped and the sun came out, but I decided instead to take some garden photos and the little spider got PoD. I found a tick on my leg this morning. Probably only the second or third this year, so I’ve made myself a solemn promise; no more walking through the long grass until the first frost.

Dinner tonight was disappointing. It was a steak from Morrisons and it was as tough as old boots, not that I’ve actually eaten Old Boots, but from the reactions of those who have, it’s not a pleasant experience.

Tomorrow, as I said, we have visitors to dinner. I’ve not got much to prepare, just a loaf, sourdough of course. Hopefully it will be risen and ready to bake tomorrow morning. Maybe we’ll go in to the town for an hour or so in the morning after the baker has deemed the loaf edible.

We went for the messages – 9 February 2018

Today we drove to Stirling to get the messages1. For a wee surprise, Scamp drove. It was great to just sit there and watch the scenery whizz past the window. It was a cold day and seemed to get colder as afternoon approached. We walked into Stirling form Waitrose where the ‘messages’ are. I’d hoped to go to Nero for a coffee and lunch, but Scamp had other ideas. She wanted to go and get the messages before they were all sold to other undeserving Stirling folk. So that is what we did. Scamp was the driver today so she was in charge. I was the passenger, just along to carry the messages.

I remember that on Fridays, it was ‘messages night’ back in Larky. I’d go down to the Co-op with my mum to bring the messages back home. I had a ‘barra’ (a barrow) made from an old wooden (they were all wooden in the old days) beer crate and a pair of pram wheels with wooden shafts fixed to the crate to push it. I remember being so proud that I could save my mum the work of carrying the messages the hundred yards or so up Wellgate Street to the house, because I had a ‘barra’.

We didn’t have a barra today, we just transferred the messages from the shopping trolley to the car boot then we went and had coffee and a bite to eat for lunch. After that, Scamp drove us home and all in bright sunshine, but by now, as I said earlier, it was getting cold.

When we got home I managed a quick walk round the pond at St Mo’s and that’s where today’s PoD came from. No sketch today, I’m heading for bed now because I’m still suffering the after-effects from yesterday although that was really an after-effect from too much dancin’ on Wednesday.

No dancin’ tomorrow, but maybe some on Sunday. Tomorrow we go for a walk in the park. Oh, yes, and I’ll fake a sketch for today!


  1. Messages is another word for shopping. 

Dull, dull, rain, dull – 3 February 2018

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

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

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

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

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

Orange

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

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

All Good Things – 3 January 2018

Today H&N were off on the road back home.

We saw them off in the morning and then we drove in the opposite direction, out to Stirling to take our minds off their departure. The rain started almost as soon as we left the house and got gradually worse.

All I wanted in Stirling was a new Sudoku calendar and I got one half price in Waterstones. It was round about then my phone chirped and I found a list of WhatsApp messages between H&N and Neil ‘D’s family. It was a brilliant idea to set that up Hazy. Set our mind at rest knowing where you were at any time and also knowing that the weather hadn’t been as bad as we had feared.

We didn’t linger long in Stirling. Went for a bite to eat and a coffee in Nero and came home via Waitrose, of course and that’s where I got the PoD. Scamp was the model. The rain had come and gone all afternoon, never completely leaving but getting quite heavy at times. Thankfully the winds were not as bad as those down south.

One look at today’s photos convinced me that colour was not an option and I simply cropped the best one and did a fairly simple levels adjustment and then converted to mono. I read a comment on Flickr last night by one of my contacts, Seaton Carew (Not his real name). He said :

”you only look at a colour picture, you read a black&white image”

I think that’s true

Tonight’s dinner was Potatoes, Cabbage and Bacon. An old favourite.

Hopefully we’ll go out again tomorrow. Hopefully it won’t rain all day. Hopefully H&N will continue their journey in better weather. You’ve always got to be hopeful. The Sudoku was hard!

Many Hands – 27 December 2017

Today is Wednesday and on Wednesdays you get a 10% discount in B&Q if you’ve got a diamond card. Guess where we went today.

Another cold start to the day so we stayed in bed, in the warm and I eked out the first Book of Dust by allowing myself two chapters only before I got up and got dressed to face the day.

We drove to Stirling B&Q after finding the car under half a ton of snow. Actually, the snow was a blessing because it insulated the car from the frost that attacked the areas where the snow had melted. It didn’t take long to defrost and the screen blower is great for melting the ice on the windscreen. The thermometer in the car read -3º when we left the house, but by the time we got on to the motorway, less than 10 minutes later it had risen by 3º. That’s the effect of the ‘Cumbernauld Cloud’ as Scamp calls it. It’s a known fact that there are places where there are sharp differences in weather. My mum always talked about that happening halfway between Larkhall and Hamilton and the head of the geography department at school confirmed it. I wish I could remember what he called it. Anyway, when you enter Cumbernauld the weather always changes, and never for the better.

We browsed the lamps in Stirling but we had to crane our necks as they were all sitting on a shelf at least 2m above the floor. What a stupid place to put a floor lamp. Luckily we’d seen all the models in Bishopbriggs and we were pretty sure we knew what we wanted (AKA Scamp knew what she wanted). It was soon bought and paid for along with a packet of halogen lamps. Assembly, when we got home was a dawdle until it came to adjusting the final angle of the three decorative lamps that were attached to the pillar with Allen head screws. We’d remarked on how tiny the Allen key was when we were unpacking the bits and put it carefully to one side. Now it had moved, possibly of its own volition, because neither of us could remember moving it. I tried my set of Torx keys, but the smallest one was just one size too big. Where could that wee key be? We even lifted the new couches and looked underneath, but it wasn’t there. I wasn’t down the side of the cushions either (so strange to find no crisps or broken biscuits down there!) Finally, I lifted the instructions and there on the back was stuck the Allen key. After we used it to tighten the three screws, we carefully stuck it back on the instruction sheet so we’d remember where it is in the unlikely event of us having to adjust the lamps again. We’re still not sure if the light is too bright, but we’ll give it a week or so to settle in and then decide. As for now, we’ve got three floor lamps in the living room, each one different!

Walked round St Mo’s afterwards and tried another Weemen (or WeeWomen in this case) picture. This time it’s the ice skater and again, it became the PoD. This one was taken on a tiny wee pond far away from prying eyes, so no chance of looking a proper Charlie lying on the ground in the snow. “Honest officer I was just taking a photo of this little Lego™ lady skater.” The pic needed some adjustments outside Lightroom and I managed this in Pixelmator which is now very like Photoshop. Totally recommended for Macs everywhere.

Watched the ‘Big Hero 6’ movie tonight and it was was hilarious. Who says it’s a kids film? It was just good entertainment.

No plans for tomorrow.

I’m moving back – 21 December 2017

Not that anyone here will notice, but I’m writing this in Day One again. I’ve tried Journey and it’s ‘ok’, but only ‘ok’. Until it stops working completely, I’ll be using Day One and synching the ‘old school’ way.

Now, as to the day. It started out a bit misty and then the mist got thicker and thicker until it was officially fog. We were going to have lunch at The Smiddy just past the Blair Drummond turn off on the Callander road. After consideration, we decided that the fog probably really only extended to the outskirts of Cumbersheugh and we’d drive out of the fog into sunshine by the time we reached Haggs. Well, maybe not sunshine, but certainly out of the fog. Nope, that didn’t happen. It just got thicker, the closer we got to Stirling. I couldn’t believe the number of folk driving with no lights. I don’t mean fog lights, I mean any lights at all. Some had the DRL (Daytime Running Lights) on, but they come on automatically on most modern cars, but some had no lights of any kind. Yes, they could see perfectly well, but if you’re driving a grey car in fog you are kind of invisible. My cousin John told me years ago when I first got a motorbike to always drive with dipped headlights everywhere. Don’t use sidelights he told me, use headlights. They don’t cost anything more to run and one day they’ll save your life. Sensible instructions.

Anyway, we reached The Smiddy without incident and had lunch there:

  • Macaroni and Cheese with lovely chips for Scamp
  • Vegetarian (!!) Chilli for me. Quite spicy and with an extra side of Jalapeño Peppers, and they were hot!!

Afterwards I got some sausages, a Denver steak, Ham trimmings and some Venison because their on-site butcher’s shop is good quality.

Got today’s PoD there. While we were having lunch I watched the fog lift quite a bit and thought my chance of a shot of a tree lined farm track was gone. I’d taken my small tripod with me because I guessed the light would be fairly low and if the fog was lingering in the low lying areas around the restaurant then I’d need some support. It’s just a light weight tripod, not as stable as the big Manfrotto 055, but it’s great for holding the Olys. The fog was just beginning to come down again when we were leaving the restaurant and I took my chance to grab my shot before the fog became too thick and obscured everything. I think, not, that I could have waited a little longer, but I didn’t want to waste too much time before we drove home.

One more sketch to add for last week’s ink ’17.  This one, like last week’s was done on my mousemat / blotter / notepad, call it what you will.  It’s basically a doodle that evolved over a few days.  It’s in oblique projection (Aargh!  I hated oblique projection at school, both as a receiver and a giver of drawing skills), possibly the crudest form of projection, but also the easiest to learn.  It’s in ink and it’s done.  The maxim for Ink ’17.

No great plans for tomorrow. Maybe a swim. Maybe a trip into Glasgow. Depends as always on the weather.

Stirling – 6 December 2017

Dull day. We went to Stirling. We had coffee in Nero. We came home and had soup for dinner. We went to Salsa and danced an hour away with the beginners. We came home and I took a photo of the condensation on the front headlights of the Juke.  The beginning of the evidence file.

Some days are just so exciting it takes me all my time to record all the details. Then there’s days like today.

PoD is Fairy Nuff on the Christmas tree.

Tomorrow we visit Glasgow for more fun.  This time we are facing Storm Caroline which is starting to wind itself up tonight

Up the Tak Ma Doon – 4 November 2017

After a couple of early rises and stravaigin’ days, it was time for a lazy start and a short run in the Juke.

It was a lovely morning and it seemed a shame to waste it on a long run, so we drove to Stirling over the Tak Ma Doon road. It’s the first time the Juke has been up it and although it’s only about 3 miles long, in that 3 miles it reputedly climbs nearly 1,000 feet. That’s just over 300 metres. Given that almost half those 3 miles is on a gentle climb, the other mile and a half is the demanding part with a few climbs over 16%, ending in a 19% incline. A good test for the Juke. It did ok in Normal mode, but baulked a bit at that last climb. Not as good as the old Megane. It cruised up most of the way with a need for 2nd gear near the summit. The Juke needed 1st for the final assault. Disappointing, but then am I really comparing apples with apples when I’m judging a 1.6 litre against a 1.3 turbo? Perhaps not. Next time I’ll use Sport mode and see how the Juke performs then.

The real reason for taking the Tak Ma Doon road was to get some photos on the other side of the Campsies, on the run down into Stirling. There’s a gate halfway down that road with a draw-in beside it where the sky simply takes over. It’s near Loch Coulter and looking over to Muirpark Farm. That’s where I has heading for. I missed the first bit of good light, but took some photos of the twists and turns of the road over the hill we’d just climbed in the Juke. As I was framing up the farmhouse, a rain shower started, an then a rainbow appeared. It just grew and grew until it became the full bow, starting at the farmhouse and ending on the road away towards Stirling. I got as many shots as I could before it disintegrated. Like I said on Flickr, I could have faked it using Photoshop, but it was so much nicer to just shoot it first hand.  The rain shower didn’t last and with a few shots in the bag, we drove on under a blue sky to Stirling.

Neither of us really wanted any lunch, so we just had a coffee  in Nero and watched hoards of Asian tourists, presumably from a bus tour, taking hundreds of selfies and photographs of groups of their friends in Stirling main street.  We’ve all been strangers in a strange land sometimes.  After coffee and a bite to eat we headed for home.  I’m guessing they did too.

Tonight we went to see the fireworks at St Mo’s. A strange place to have a fireworks show, in a school grounds, but I suppose there’s plenty of parking there and easy access for the fire brigade if the need arises! It didn’t arise, but the fire engine did pass us a couple of times. Quite a spectacular show, lasting just about the predicted half an hour. Such a waste of money though. I always feel it could be better spent than on pyrotechnics. That said, it’s better spent on a fireworks show than on a councillors Christmas junket.

It was the monochrome photo of the road and the trees that got PoD today.

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks good. May take the bike out of retirement for a run.