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Out for a spin – 12 August 2017

Woke up to rain, so had a lazy start to the day until the sun started to show around midday. Set off about 1 pm to go for a wee spin and to see if there was anywhere that would serve us lunch. There was.

We drove to the Oakwood garden centre near Killearn and had a decent sandwich lunch and a more than decent cafetiere of Colombian Rich coffee. I got the scenic seat looking out the picture window across the fields to the hills beyond. The view in this cafe has to be seen to be believed. After lunch we drove down through Balfron to Stirling and Waitrose where we picked up tomorrow’s dinner. Sea Trout for Scamp and Pork Shoulder for me. Lovely drive through the Stirlingshire countryside. Loads of opportunities for photos, but never took them.

Came home and visited St Mo’s which is where I saw today’s PoD of a rather grumpy looking Mr Grey. St Mo’s was full of weans, and I don’t mean primary school weans, I mean S3/4 14 and 15 year olds easily twenty or thirty of them roaming around trying to find something to brag to their mates about on the last few days of their summer holidays. What one of the Principal Teachers described as a ‘Tribe’. That is what they are like. Feral, that’s the only word for them, almost domesticated animals. Barely house trained. I’m glad I can walk away from them now.

Hoping to catch a glimpse of some shooting stars tonight when we pass close to the Perseids. We’ve been on intersecting orbits since 36AD or before. The first documented encounter was around that time according to Wikipedia. (I can’t be arsed with the current CE or BCE nonsense. If you feel insulted by that then tough, off you go and complain to someone who cares.)

Tomorrow the weather will be much the same as today and maybe even a little better.

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The search continues – 28 June 2017

Today we drove to Stirling because at Springkerse in the town (I know, Mrs McQueen made it a city in 2000, but it’s still a town to me) at Springkerse there are a host of car retailers.

First stop was Arnold Clark for a look at a Renault. The Megane we looked at was too big, definitely too big, so was the price. It came off the list right away. Next up was the Clio from the same garage. It was much more like what we had in our heads, and after some jiggery pokery with the figures, so was the price. Had a seat in one and quite liked it. Were offered a test drive, but declined. Once our shortlist is complete we’ll use test drives to whittle it down.
Next up was Peugeot. Maybe we got off to a bad start by not having an actual model in mind, maybe he took a look at the scruffy jeans and dirty old rugby shirt and decided we couldn’t afford anything but a second hand car, but although he was pleasant enough, he wasn’t as enthusiastic as he could have been. We sat in a 208, but it was a second-hand bottom of the range model and it wasn’t what I was looking for. Off the list.
Last for the day was Nissan. Scamp didn’t like the Juke – I didn’t really think she would. It’s too big she said. We looked at the new Micra. The dealer said it was actually bigger than the Juke. He lied, it’s not. It is marginally smaller. I didn’t like it, Scamp did. He did offer us an interesting test drive option, whereby we could take the car for up to 24 hours and give it a long test. Nissan would even pay for the insurance! Again, after number crunching he came up with a much better price than the lady in Glasgow had offered. I think the Juke and the Micra both stay on the list, but I also think that Macklin Motors in Glasgow are now off the list.
That was the end of testing for today.

Had coffee in Stirling and then I needed to get a sketch done, and that is what you see here. I’ve been reading an excellent sketching book by Liz Steel entitled Five Minute Sketching – Architecture. I can’t say with any honesty that I can achieve the five minutes yet, but I’m putting a lot of her ideas into practise. I’m a lot better pleased with it than I was with yesterday’s effort.

When I got home, Scamp was on cooking duty so I had almost an hour in St Mo’s and came upon the little deer almost right away. As usual, I had the wrong lens on the Nikon, but managed to change and grab a few shots before Bambi took off.

Salsa tonight was a bit of a mix up with Jamie G taking over one of Colin’s classes and trying to teach a move that was new to both his class and Colin’s. Of course, us as old hands knew it (Romeo and Juliet) It was a bit of a shambles to start with, but then it began to flow a lot better. Let’s hope they all, or at least most of them, come back next week.

Beautiful sunset tonight after a lovely day with loads of sunshine.  I didn’t photograph the sunset.  Yes, it was lovely, but everyone forgets that if you don’t have a decent foreground and an interesting midground, a beautiful sunset is just some oversaturated colours flung together.  So speaks Oscar the Grouch!

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It’s supposed to rain.

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Birlin’ round Stirlin’ – 10 June 2017

It wasn’t the brightest day when we got up today, but there was the prospect of better weather. We had been to Glasgow yesterday and there were twenty two men running around a piece of grass there today, so we headed in the other direction instead. We went to Stirling.

Drove from improving weather into drizzly rain and parked in the Cooncil carpark and paid our £1.40 for a day’s parking which must be the best value in Central Scotland. Before we got out of the car we agreed on ‘doing lunch’ and in particular, going for a curry.

We went to our usual curry shop and it was fairly busy at just past midday. Ordered and, by the time the starters had arrived, so had about ten other folk who were queueing out into the street. One dafty was standing half in and half out of the door, keeping it open so a cool breeze would waft over us all. If it had been January instead of June he would have got the “Shut the F&%$£@G door” message from everyone near the gale that would have blown in. Some people are not simply stupid, they are self-centred (if I’m going to be cold, everyone’s going to be cold) and stupid. A dangerous combination. Curry, by the way, was back to its old excellent standard as agreed by both of us. Only the pre-chopped nan bread was a disappointment.

Wandered around a damp Farmers Market in the town and then through the Thistle Centre where there seems to be a virus striking the shops in some areas with more boarded up than operating. Had a quick look in Waterstones, but there wasn’t much to tempt me to even get my Bento wishlist out of my pocket.

Walked back to the car in the sunshine that had blown in from the west I think. We stopped off at Waitrose to stock up on essentials and that’s where I got today’s PoD.

Back home I did some tidying in the garden. I planted out a few of the remaining spinach plants and then put pea netting around some of the pea plants. With strong wind forecast for the next few days, the pea plants may need that structure.

Today’s sketch was a last minute shot as anyone can see. Tomorrow’s will be better. That’s becoming a bit of a mantra these days, I realise, but at least I’m getting one decent drawing a week, so the J’ Ink (which will soon become June Ink I think) is working.

To my daily readers, my apologies for the late arrival of this blog post, but I was running a bit late last night after deciding to bake a loaf and then make a late evening pizza which was very nice thank you.  Anyway, I decided to write it fresh today (Sunday) when my head was a bit clearer.  Nothing to do with the Raspberry Vodka I’d had earlier, nothing at all 😉

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Thunderbolts and Lightning – 27 May 2017

Very, very frightening.  For a while today at least.

Feeling a bit delicate this morning after spending an hour or so last night with sickness and diarrhoea.  I blamed it on the smoked mackerel I had for dinner.  I thought because the fish was cured, I would be too, but obviously that wasn’t the case.  Did a bit of planting in the garden and that took my mind off it.  Now the raised bed now has Peas, Beetroot, Kale, Lettuce and Spinach growing in it.  I also planted out the mint we got yesterday and tried taking root cuttings from a mint plant we had last year.  Scamp planted some Parsley and cut the front grass.  The reason for the sudden rush to get things done was that the weather forecasters were predicting heavy and continuous rain today.

As I said yesterday, we needed shopping and so we drove to Waitrose in Stirling and got most of the stuff there.  As we were coming out, the rain started.  We headed for Morrisons to get the remainder when we found a Lidl and stopped there for some beer.  On to Morrisons and home in torrential rain.  Got home and it dried up with blue sky too.

There was a BMX competition on at Broadwood Stadium and I went down there later to get some photos.  As luck would have it two things happened simultaneously.

  1. It started raining
  2. The crowds started coming out of the track, because it was a tea break or a beer break or something.  I don’t think they stop for rain.

I couldn’t be bothered waiting around and should have taken some photos of the proceedings, but just went for a walk instead.  It was strange to see all these 40 somethings all dressed up and on their wee BMX bikes.  Reliving their misspent youth perhaps?  The rain just got heavier and more persistent, as per forecast, so I grabbed some photos around the dam at Broadwood Loch.  Taken with the Oly10.

Walked back home soaked below the waist to my ankles.  Top half perfectly dry.  Feet perfectly dry.  Thank goodness for the person who invented Goretex!

According to Wunderground weather app, the thunderstorm would strike at 16:45.  At precisely 16:48 the first peal of thunder rang out.  Now that’s what I call a forecast!

Weather to improve a bit tomorrow.  Shame it wasn’t better today for Brian Gregg.  He got married today.

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Driving Miss Daisy – 20 May 2017

Well, it should have been Scamp we were driving, but Driving Miss Scamp didn’t have the same ring. Then to be perjink about it, we’d have to say Driving Mrs Scamp and by that time the title doesn’t scan and we lose the whole joy of it. Soooo, Driving Miss Daisy it is. By the way, isn’t perjink a lovely word? It means neat or fastidious.

We drove to Stirling today to get a new jacket for Scamp. She had a 20% discount voucher burning a hole in her pocket, or her purse to be more perjink. Enough? Yes, enough.
We were driving just ahead of the bad weather, you could see it in the rear view mirror. As we walked in to Stirling town centre, the rain came on, but we managed to shelter in M&S. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Scamp’s jacket in the right size. I suggested we should go to Glasgow because there are two big M&S shops there.

As we were driving down the M80 the rain got heavier and heavier and then CITRAC lit up with a warning of congestion just a mile or so before the M8/M80 junction and from experience, this means that the motorway will choke up and driving in that is no fun at all. I’m guessing that those 22 men from Wednesday were having another kick about. Time for a change of plans. Glasgow Fort has a big M&S store and we had time to change lanes to get there and avoid the congestion on the M80. That is what we did and also as a bonus, we drove out of the torrential rain.

At the Fort, Scamp got her jacket in the colour and size she wanted. Sorted. Lunch was in Wagamama across the road. While we were there, the next rain shower descended on us and it was nice to be sitting looking out at folk getting wet. After lunch we went our separate ways for a while. Me to Waterstones and Scamp window shopping. We met up at Hobbycraft as we had planned. I’ve an idea to make a fold up stand for my Linx 10 tablet. It makes it so much easier to type into with the Bluetooth keyboard, so I got a piece of 3mm plywood to make it. Fairly strong and light, plywood should be ideal. Today’s PoD came from The Fort and is one of a group of bronze deer statues around the site.

Back home, I managed to convince Adobe to allow me to download Lightroom 6 for half price because I had a serial number for my original LR 1. It’s not an amazing upgrade from V5, but at least I can get the Teazer’s RAW files processed more easily. Yes, the Teazer is a keeper. It produced today’s PoD.

Tomorrow? Maybe going for plants for the raised bed to keep the peas company and also the beetroot which just appeared today. Maybe dancing too in Paisley. We’ll see.

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Piper at the gates of dawn – 4 May 2017


Trying to keep up the musical lyrics theme, today we went to Stirling, all should become clear.

It was another bright day with a cold easterly wind.  We had decided to complete yesterday’s tasks with a visit to the travel agent in Stirling to see what they could offer for our summer cruise.  When we were walking through the centre of Stirling there was a bloke, a piper, with the obligatory £20 kilt on making the most awful racket outside the Stirling Tourist Office.  Just as we drew level with him, two officials came from the office, walked over and uttered the termination introduction; “Before you get started again mate …”  As we walked down the street, I noted that there was no skirl of the pipes from behind us, so I presume he had been sent on his way with a flea in his ear (and a stopper in his drones.)

After about an hour in the travel agents where we had set out our initial requirements:

  1. Cruise
  2. Eastern Med
  3. June – July

Later we added almost as an afterthought:

  • Not an inside cabin
  • Not on a low deck
  • Not Greece
  • Flying from Glasgow
  • Not more than £xxxx each
  • Not an old ship

It’s amazing just how many requirements we have after our initial ones.  That said, the bloke in the shop was very patient, but I’m sure he’d heard all these lists before and knew the initial requirements are only ever sketchy and will be firmed up and filled out later.  We left the shop with a couple of possibles and after a coffee and a bog awful Goat’s cheese an beetroot panini for me and an excellent (I’m told) Mushroom Toastie for Scamp we had chosen the front runner.  Back to the shop and confirmed the booking.  We’re off on a cruise in the summer, DV.

Thought I’d get an Amazon Fire Stick to stick in the (not so) smart TV with which to watch some extra content.  Y’see that’s what happens when you visit the weans and find they’ve got access to a world of entertainment you haven’t dreamed of.  Cruised round all the electrical retailers in Cumbersheugh, but nobody had one.  Bummer.  Scamp did manage to get some solar powered lights from B&M though, but only after a bum steer when we found the box that allegedly contained six lights only had four in it.  Typical Cumbersheugh thievery.

Dinner tonight was another ND recipe.  Chicken with Rice using a very tasty pre-roasted chicken.  Again, thank you Masterchef Neil.

Today’s grab shot is of Marguerites in the garden.  They were enjoying the sun too.  Also, I’ve just checked and all six solar powered lights are shining brightly.

Today’s title, comes from Pink Floyd’s first studio album, of course.

Tomorrow?  The search for an Amazon Fire Stick continues.  Maybe JL will have one.  Failing that, I’m sure Amazon will have it in stock.

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A Tramp – 18 March 2017

A Tramp, that’s what Scamp described me as today.  Just because my Bergy jacket is a wee bit untidy and maybe needing a wash.  Apparently it totally transforms me into a tramp.  I wonder how many tramps today, real tramps that is, the ones who wander round the countryside, sleeping rough, not the beggars on the city streets, I wonder how many of them have given up the luxuries of home because somebody called them a tramp.  I did consider doing it myself today, but who would drive Scamp home, because she can’t (won’t) drive my car, and besides it was raining.

The above conversation happened in the carpark in Stirling.  We should have been going to Embra today, but Scotland were playing somebody Italian, I think, at Murrayfield so the trains would be packed.  Also, we didn’t get to bed until after 1am last night (or this morning to be perjink), so we had a lazy morning after tidying up after last night’s meal with Crawford and Nancy, with June of course, eventually deciding to go to Stirling as a second choice.  We wandered round the soulless Thistle Centre whose only redeeming feature, in my opinion, is Waterstones.  Saw a couple of books worth adding to my ‘Must Read’ list.

When we got home, I messed around with a new painting before deciding that there was just enough light left to have a walk around St Mo’s.  I didn’t really need the photo, I had one in the bag from the morning.  Beautiful light on the stems of some carnations in a glass on the bedroom window sill. So, it was more a walk than a desperate attempt to get a PoD.  Bumped into an FP on the boardwalk round St Mo’s.  I don’t know who was more surprised, her or me.  Got the other two shots in the failing light at St Mo’s and on the walk back.

Hopefully we’ll be earlier to bed tonight, especially if I get this blog posted.

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Programming for Nerds – 21 February 2017

Nothing to do with Elton John.  Keyboard Maestro is a very powerful programming tool for the Mac.  I’ve been struggling with it on and off for over a year now and have to tell you that with great power comes great complexity.  I’ve programmed interesting stuff in Basic and Assembly Language along with simple stuff in C and in Pascal, and even used Visual Basic to write macros in Excel, but the programming syntax in Keyboard Maestro is back to the stone age.  It makes assembly language look slick by comparison.  All I wanted to do was add two numbers together.  It shouldn’t be difficult, should it?  It was.  Mainly because of an almost total lack of tutorials using variables with this behemoth of an app.  I eventually found a wiki for it and all became (almost) clear.  I don’t think I’ll be coding very much in Keyboard Maestro, but my macro now works and I’m happy about that.  Actually I’ve been using it in the background while I type this blog.  I’ve got it set up to alter a few of my typos and also, if I type * KM without the space, it changes it to Keyboard Maestro –  See?  It did it there and you never even noticed.  I know, lots of other apps do the same thing, but this is an app for nerds!  I’m not afraid to say it: I AM A NERD!!

Scamp went to visit her Auntie, well, her dad’s cousin [that’s close enough to be an Auntie (or Uncle, depending on the version) in Larky].  Anyway, she was going for coffee with Isobel this morning and I was looking for something to do, so I copied yesterday’s sketch onto watercolour paper and made it into a painting.  I was quite pleased with the result.  I know it’s a bit gloomy, but the real thing is gloomy too.  The house sits back among trees and there can’t be a lot of light getting in those windows.

When Scamp came home and after we had lunch we went searching for food in Waitrose which is where I found the group of Neds you see above.  Who would have thought that Neds would be allowed in Waitrose.  Either they’ve cleaned up their act or that supermarket is allowing its standard to slip.

It was such a dull day, we just drove home afterwards with our spoils.  Lamb chops with potatoes and mushrooms for me.  Salmon and potatoes for Scamp.  Still on our self enforced diet, we didn’t even have a pudding!  We did have a crayfish salad to start with though, but you can’t consider that, because it was healthy!

Played a game of my new addiction Upwords tonight, but I don’t think Scamp was impressed with this Scrabble look alike.  I think it might be going in the next but one charity bag.

Nothing planned as yet for tomorrow because the weather may be taking a turn for the worse.

Oh, yes.  If you’re in the need of someone to add two numbers together, I’m your man.  Just give me a couple of hours to write the code and debug it and I should have it done!

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“Excuse me …” – 20 January 2017

Earlier today:
I’m sitting alone watching and listening to the films of the people’s stories in the Disappearing Glasgow exhibition in the Lighthouse. I’ve just had to shut up a couple of wahoos who were pontificating loudly about the photography round the walls.  I just got madder and madder with them and eventually turned round and called across the room “Excuse me. Do you mind if I listen to this?” That did the trick.  My seven days beard growth and my old battered and torn Bergy jacket probably helped.  They shut up then left … quietly.  They were english, so they didn’t know how to behave.

Later today:
When I eventually rose to leave, about twenty minutes later, there were six other people sitting around me.  I hadn’t noticed them arriving.  They hadn’t said a word throughout the films.  They were Scottish.  Brought up properly.
Definitely an exhibition worth seeing and hearing if you get the chance.

Glasgow was dull today with one of those milky white skies that simply drag you further down.  A January Sky.  No directional light, so no shadows.  I couldn’t see anything I wanted to photograph, so I got the train back home.

Stepped off the train at Croy and realised that it was only just coming up to 2pm.  It seemed a shame to just drive home and stare at a glowing screen for an hour or two, so I decided to travel east in the hope of finding some brighter skies in Stirling and also hoping that Tiso would still be in business there and would have a pair of the excellent Bergy gloves in a small size to fit Scamp, and that is what I did.

I didn’t get the brighter skies, but I did get a couple of photos.  One of the Wallace Monument through the mist and another of a closed down pub.  I also got the gloves.  I considered stopping for a coffee, but then decided I’d rather be on my way home before rush hour, because rush hour on the M9/M80 is a nightmare of drivers changing lanes, changing back, cutting in, cutting out. Just a situation to be avoided, and that is what I did.

I don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow.  The weather fairies say it will be fine with sunshine.