15 Dec

Right Said Fred – 20 November 2017

Woke to a light grey Scottish sky. Light in colour but heavy with rain which they were proudly pouring down on us and it continued to pour down all day.

The big job this morning was the decanting of the the three-seater settee to the front garden for uplift tomorrow by the cooncil van. With typical NLC efficiency they had confirmed that the uplift would be some time between 7.30am and 6pm. However they forgot to confirm the day, so all we have is the word of the person on the other end of the phone last week. We tried twisting and turning the settee every which way, but it simply wouldn’t go through the door. The door had to come off. Still we needed that extra 20mm or so. The feet had to come off too. with that done, we now had the settee in the hall where it could be maneuvered more easily. Now we just had to get it through the front door. Again we twisted it and turned it, but it wouldn’t go. I did think about taking the door off, but that meant using a set of Allen Keys and they were in a cupboard that was blocked by the settee. Then I had the eureka moment. I didn’t need to take the whole door off, just removing the handles would be enough. So that is what I did and with a push and a shove a grunt or two and a few muttered sweary words the settee landed in the front garden, where it now resides until its uplift by the cooncil, some time between 7.30am and 6pm, hopefully tomorrow. Now we just need to go through the same procedure on Friday when the two-seater gets uplifted by a furniture charity, but we’ll leave the professionals to bring in the new settee next Monday. If you get a chance, look up “Right Said Fred” by Bernard Cribbins on Spotify. You’ll understand how this furniture removal thing works!

After we’d tidied up the living room and the hall, it was time for Gems to arrive although the sopranos were sitting were sitting on dining room chairs and the altos were on the two-seater. I didn’t wait to hear the comments, I headed to the leisure centre for a swim (hopefully), a sauna (probably) and a shot in the steam room (definitely). As it happened, I managed all three, although there were a lot of people in the pool for a while. I came away feeling a lot better than when I’d gone in. The heat and gentle exercise seemed to relax my poor battered, stretched and twisted body. I’m getting too old for this furniture moving lark.

Came home and it was time for dinner (chilli for me. Baked potato for Scamp) before we drove in to Glasgow for our Monday double dose of salsa. We hadn’t been to any class above level two for two weeks and it showed in our dancing, well, in mine at least. However we enjoyed the moves we learned which were Eva, Disco, Iadonovan and Puerto. I’d never have remembered them, but Jamie G demonstrated them at the end of the class and encouraged us to video them. Evalina from the 6.30 class also told us that there is a private WhatsApp group for sharing salsa videos from class. That would be useful. It was while we were in class that I realised I hadn’t put kidney beans into the chilli. Funny the things you think about at the most inappropriate times!

I grabbed a few shots after the removal was done, but before Gems arrived. Just a few shots in the garden taken despite the rain. The raindrops won PoD.

We had planned to go to Perth tomorrow, but now we’re not so sure. It looks like it will be Wet, Wet, Wet. Without Marti Pellow!

15 Dec

The Journey starts here – 10 October 2017

Last night I emailed the help line at Journey about exporting my journal from Day One and importing into Journey. This morning I got a sample .zip file to try to import. I tried it and it worked. It was just a file with some text and a few pics, but it proved to me that the import dialog worked. I tried exporting about ten days of Day One and then importing. That worked too. Tried a month and that worked. Tried six months and that didn’t. Tried four months (a third of a year, easy to slice up) and that worked. Spent the rest of the morning chopping up my journal into four month pieces, exporting them from Day One and importing them into Journey. It took some time and it wasn’t helped by the fact that Virgin were working on the fibre line so access was sporadic. However, it’s now done and it looks like the Journey has begun.

We went to the leisure centre before lunch and hit the sweet spot in the pool, just after 1pm when all the spa punters have gone to stuff their faces in the restaurant. We almost had the pool to ourselves. I was there trying to ease my aching back, so although I swam for a wee while, I lounged in the jacuzzi and steam room for longer than I exercised. Maybe next time It’ll be the other way round. Heard that the leisure centre and presumably the hotel too has been sold. That will probably mean the fees for the leisure centre will increase soon.

After lunch I went for a walk over to St Mo’s in the rain. I didn’t expect to get much, and I wasn’t disappointed. What I did get was a few shots of the Cladonia lichens after I’d given my knees a workout crouching down to get them. Thanks to the really good sensor on the D7000 the ISO 8000 didn’t create too much digital noise.

Tonight’s sketch is of my wee Cotman watercolour box that usually lives in my camera bag with my sketchbook, just in case I need to add some colour to a sketch.

Coffee with Fred and Val tomorrow and the weather looks wet!

15 Dec

Today I had a plan – 2 October 2017

You should always start out with a plan. If nothing else, a list of things to do today. I had a plan, and I stuck to it (almost).

Maybe it was the getting up early yesterday to watch the Sepang GP that did it. Maybe it was that if I stayed in bed I’d be listening to the wind howling through the trees. Maybe it was because Scamp had shamed me into getting up and out. Probably all three. I got up and got going. First stop on the plan was The Fort. I was looking for two or three half pans of watercolour paint, some fixative aerosol and some magnetic plastic strip. I figured I could get them all at Hobbycraft. Next, I was going to the gym or maybe the pool to kick the dull winter blues. Thirdly I was going to get a photo and a sketch done. The magnetic strip was no problem, Hobbycraft had loads of different sizes and shapes of them. Hedged my bets by getting some strip and also some stick-on squares. Half pans were a non starter. They didn’t sell them. Fixative was too expensive at £10. So I’d have to drive in to town and go to Cass Art.

It’s wasn’t an onerous task driving into town. Just for fun I switched into Sport mode and enjoyed the acceleration driving along the motorway. Parked no bother up on St James Street. That’s not its real name. I can never remember its real name, but it’s always St James Street to us. Walked down into the town and noticed that as usual it was much calmer with the buildings to shelter us pedestrians from the wind. Except, that is when you are near the big curved glass and steel structure on Queen Street. Like the Sky Garden in London, it seems to attract the wind and magnify its effect, possibly the curved frontage has something to do with that. Got the fixative, but still couldn’t find the colours was looking for and time was ticking away if I was going to achieve number 2 on the list. Gave up and headed back to the car then drove to Westerwood where I spent half an hour in the pool, the steam room and the sauna. Drove back home and just as I was getting to the front door the sun started to shine. It lit up the two or three nasturtiums that have self-seeded in the front garden. The bright orange of the flowers against the green of the leaves made a great colour combination, and that was the photograph. Nearly there.

Sorted out (hopefully) a problem that’s stopping some people from posting to the Flickr Inktober 2017 group and by then it was time to make the dinner. Strozzapreti with tomato, red pepper and spinach sauce. Very nice. Then out to salsa.

First class was easy. Intermediate level. Next class was murder, advanced and lots of twisting, turning, ducking and swearing. I don’t know why I put myself through it. Yes I do, it’s great fun.

Yesterday, driving home in the dark I wasn’t impressed with the car headlights. Today I found out why. I was driving home with side lights. The headlights weren’t coming on. Just to be safe, tonight I drove with sidelights and front fogs. I’m going to have to take the car to Stirling tomorrow to have a word with the man. Then, turning into the estate with no cars around I turned on main beam to see if that would work. It did, and then the headlights came on! So, they have been wired up, but is there a dry joint somewhere or a loose fuse? I don’t know, but in a car barely four days old, I’d expect the lights to work. Definitely going to have to have that looked at pronto.

Finally got a sketch done about an hour ago. It’s not great, but it’s done.

Tomorrow I believe I’m in the navigator and radio operator’s seat while Scamp has the controls. We’re off to Tesco. Then Stirling.

15 Dec

When Technology Goes Bad – 21 August 2017

We had intended going swimming or to the gym today, but it never materialised.

The reason for our missing exercise is that today is Monday and the gym but especially the pool is over-run with folk on a Monday, having an extended weekend and eager to use up their Groupon vouchers for a ‘pampering’ session at the spa. Usually this means that the pull is full of floating islands of (mainly) women talking and taking up swimming space. The same happens to a lesser extent in the gym. There they just stand around gawping at the machines and wondering how they can get out of the room without looking a total fraud. It’s one of my pet hates in the leisure centre. So, we didn’t go.

Scamp was going for messages and I settled down to do a painting. All I needed to do was assemble the easel and load the photo onto my tablet, and there was the problem. Although I’d exported the photos to my NAS drive, their folder showed up on the tablet, but the folder was empty. I don’t know where the photos went. I checked on the computer and they had been sent. Unfortunately the folder was empty on the laptop too. Nothing for it than to export them again and this time check that they landed on the NAS safely. They did. Now the tablet couldn’t get network access. I showed it the WiFi extender with its green light. I showed it my phone which had network access. All to no avail. Finally I uninstalled the WD Mycloud app and re-installed it. Now it asked me for a twelve digit access code to connect to the NAS. I gave up. Scamp was now back home with half of Tesco in bags in the hall and I was running out of battery power in the tablet and patience. What’s worse, I could access the photos easily from my (spit) Windows 10 tablet. I know, I know, I could use that instead, but this was a matter of principle now. Why does the Samsung not connect when a Win 10 tablet can? Answers on a postcard please. It was now time to make the dinner before we went to Salsa.

Salsa sorted me. It grounded me, as it usually does and I had a great time Tonight’s new move was ‘Disco’. A strange name for a salsa move. It’s like calling Fillet Steak, reconstituted mince. Other moves tonight were Enchufe Dos and Enchufe Complicado

Today’s PoD is of sweet pea stems in a rectangular vase. I turned it upside down ( the photo that is!) to make it look more interesting.

Hoping for an incentive to go out tomorrow, away from Android tablets.

15 Dec

The day the rain came – 27 June 2017

It was raining when we woke this morning and it’s still raining. For once that’s not a complaint, it’s just a statement of fact.

Went to Westerwood today. Me to the gym, Scamp for a swim. Days like this were what we’d joined for. Ideal for a bit of gentle exercise, a swim in a fairly comfortable environment. Of course the wonderful keypad lockers were acting up. They would lock, but not unlock again, but they’d been working for a whole two weeks now. That’s about as much as you could expect from them. Finally got mine to open after about 6 tries. It does not auger well.

Other than taking some predictable wet weather photos of flowers and raindrops, there wasn’t much more to say about the day. Scamp made Tomato and Red Pepper soup for dinner. Who would have thought after yesterday’s muggy heat we’d be glad of a plate of soup for dinner tonight. Dry day forecast for tomorrow then more rain. It’s all to do with the Jet Stream I’m told. I blame that Trump bloke.

Today’s sketch is best described as a placemarker.  It’s done and posted.  Fin.

15 Dec

Rain – 6 June 2017

It was raining in the morning when we got up. It rained all day and it’s raining still. I don’t think there’s been a dry minute.

There were no plans for today, luckily, so we just had a lazy morning. I saw the effect of the rain on the alliums and decided it would make an interesting photo. Unfortunately it was bucketing at the time and none of my cameras are weatherproof, but they are when you wrap them in a Timson’s bag. Low tech meets high tech.

Just before lunchtime we went to Westerwood, me to stretch my legs and Scamp to swim. Just to confuse everyone and only for today, ladies were to use the gents changing room and gents, the ladies. The reason was that two blokes were fitting new locks in the ladies changing rooms. The new locks are push button coded. You type in a four digit code – twice then close the lock handle. No key to lose (I lost mine in the pool on one of our first visits.) No deposit to pay for the key. No having to ask for an odd numbered key to get a decent sized locker. No, it was almost as if we were in the twentieth century at last. There are obvious shortfalls that the devious will exploit in the next few weeks and then the batteries will fail and all have to be replaced at the same time, and how much will that cost?? Still, it’s a pleasant move forward on their part and we should be grateful.

Gym was interesting now that I’ve worked out (or to be more exact, Scamp has worked out) how to display my actual heartbeat, rather than my resting heart beat. Did my reduced machine torture and felt better than yesterday. After that I had a swim in a nearly empty pool. Wonderful.

Came home and started on today’s sketch which I’d decided would be, must be better than yesterday’s effort. I hope you agree.

Dinner was Scamp’s excellent stir fry.  One of my Tuesday night favourites.

Irene is to be teacher for the beginners class tomorrow night at Salsa. That should be interesting. I’ve said for ages that Shannon should have another female teacher and Irene’s encyclopedic memory of moves and her strict timing counts will help her do well, at least I hope it will. I also hope she gets paid for her hour’s work. Shannon doesn’t have a great record on that count.

Off to Wishaw tomorrow morning for Scamp’s checkup. Coffee booked with Val for the afternoon.

15 Dec

Back in the old routine – 8 March 2017

This morning we got ready and went for a swim. There were nine people in the pool. NINE!  It’s busy with five, it’s a health and safety risk with nine. Thankfully there was nobody in the steam room and it was steaming hot too. From there I went to the sauna and by that time the pool emptied a bit so I managed a few lengths before it got mobbed again. After that I alternated between steam room and pool. Not really a bad way to spend a cold morning.

After lunch I dragged myself round St Mo’s and got a couple of decent shots of some coots and a couple of awful shots of some fungus. No deer. No Mr Grey. Don’t blame them, it was miserable and cold and so was I.

Driving in to Salsa tonight was a dawdle with next to no traffic 18mins to the airport from the CITRAC at Moodiesburn.  This is partly due to us leaving later and partly due to there being no football on.  Still, 18mins is almost a record.  Tonight was an amalgamation of two advanced classes and there were only 3 men for half of the time until Roy arrived and made it 4.  Scamp and Irene had to dance as leaders.  In an advanced class, that’s difficult.  I take my hat off to them (if I wore a hat, that is).  The new folk seemed to get on well enough with everyone else and by the end of the night we were fine.  That’s how it works in salsa.  Everyone gets on with it and enjoys themselves.  Not at all like ballroom where you have to remain po faced all the time.

To keep my poor wee coot company, I added some Trinni photos for you.  Hope you enjoy them.

It looks like coffee for Scamp tomorrow morning and coffee for me with Fred in the afternoon.  Quite the caffeine-heads day out!

15 Dec

A Grand Day Out – 08 February 2017

8 FebThis will be a rushed post.  It’s been a long day and we’ve crammed a lot into it, although it might not seem so with this compressed or condensed description.

The day started well and we left the apartment with the intention of visiting Scarborough and then heading to a beach, but that’s not how it turned out.  Firstly we made a stop at the Magdalena Grand Hotel to see how the other half live.  The hotel, which is quite grand and quite magnificent is surrounded by a golf course which has the usual water hazards.  However, the water hazards on most golf courses don’t have warning signs saying ‘This lake contains caimans’.  Thankfully we didn’t stop near the water.  We did continue on to see the hotel and to walk the grounds as if we were staying there.  It’s a technique I must learn some time.  We were both impressed with the size and look of the building, but there weren’t very may folk staying there, so we did wonder how profitable it was.  While we were there I got my first decent shots of Frigatebirds.

As we were leaving the weather seemed to take a turn for the worse with squally rain appearing.  It had been threatening while we were trespassing on the hotel grounds, but now it was doing more than threatening.  We carried on to Scarborough, and it did remind me of the English seaside town with the steep hills around it.  Madeleine drove us to Fort King George and old stronghold, now open as a museum.  Loads of interesting stuff to be seen and most of it was open to the public.  That’s where we saw the cockerels and the hens.  They seemed to have the run of the place.  Jaime bought us some Tamarind Balls which are made from Tamarind paste with added pepper made into balls then covered in sugar.  A strange sweet/sour/salty taste.  Hard to define.  Great place to visit.  It was there too we found all these lovely butterflies.  Butterflies in January?  Who would have thought it?  Aha, but this isn’t Scotland.

By the time we were leaving here the rain had started for real.  No longer  squally, but a proper downpour.  After an attempt to outrun it, we gave up and headed with our sandwiches and juice back to the apartment where we had a picnic on the balcony.  Not quite what we’d intended, but at least we were dry for a time.  Then the rain started again and we took shelter inside.  These showers continued all afternoon.  I got fed up after a while and went out to walk along the beach.  Unfortunately, the beach had disappeared under the heavy breakers of high tide, so I sat down and sketched a concrete seat as a possible subject.  It rained again and I had to give up.  At that point Jaime appeared wondering where I’d got to.  We walked back and he showed me the fruits on one of the trees in the hotel grounds.  I must remember to ask him what it was called.  Before we got ready to go out to the restaurant Scamp wanted to dip her feet in one of the hot tubs.  We sat in it for about half an hour while the rain made little soldiers on the surface of the water around us.  What a strange feeling that was.  When we finally gave up the hot tub, we went for a swim in the pool.  The water was remarkably warm.

After our swim we went back to the room and Scamp went to shower and wash her hair.  I grabbed my sketchbook and drew the view from the balcony.  It’s not technically perfect, but it’s a better, and more interesting, drawing than the concrete seat.  IMO.

IMG_3753Dinner was in Karawak restaurant and it was fabulous.  Callaloo soup followed by Tomato, Basil and Olive salad then a main of steak or shrimp with rice, pumpkin and a sort of ratatouille served in a hollowed out half aubergine.  Dessert was coconut cream cake with ice cream, sorbet or ice cream.  It’s hard not to compare that with what we had on our first night here at the steak and lobster grill and it’s hard to see now how the S&L Grill survives against competition like this.  The waitress worked the table with a great sense of humour that you couldn’t help but appreciate.  The only fly in the ointment was the owner or manager, it wasn’t clear which, who only seemed to be interested in her regular customers and only gave us a cursory glance.  She needs to take a lesson from our waitress.  Nobody it that high and mighty that they don’t need to cultivate new custom.

Well, that was meant to be a condensed description of the day.  I missed out the Karaoke because it was so bad, it wasn’t even funny, and no we didn’t take part.

15 Dec

He swims with the fishes – 07 February 2017

7 FebThis morning, Jaime said that he’d prefer to drive to Pigeon Point rather than take the hotel minibus.  We’d already agreed that hiring a car would be good, so this just meant that the hire would be a day early and it would give us more flexibility with travel arrangements, so off he went to arrange the hire.  When he came back, he told us there was one problem, his driving license was out of date and needed to be renewed.  It could be done on Tobago, but with the present backlog in licensing, it would probably take a whole day.  Since my paper license is no longer acceptable for hiring a car, the easy way was for Madeleine to hire the car.  With that settled, they both went back to the hire firm to seal the deal and soon arrived with the car.  Our bags were packed and we then went to Pigeon Point and parked ourselves under an almond tree on the edge of the glorious beach with that beautiful blue sea beyond.  Pigeon Point hadn’t changed much since we were last there.  The beach huts had been painted and had new roofs and there was now a new reception room for weddings and big parties, but apart from that it was the same.

Once we were settled, Scamp and I went for a paddle, but I couldn’t resist the pull of that blue water and the prospect of little brightly coloured fish in the reef just a few metres offshore.  After all, for once I’d remembered to bring my snorkel and mask, so it would be a much closer look this time.

The water was much colder for swimming in than I had anticipated, but like always, you quickly become accustomed to it and are able to concentrate on looking for interesting things on the seabed.  Unfortunately, the sea was rougher than it had been three years ago and the sand was being lifted from the floor by the waves, so my vision, even with the mask was limited.  Further round the corner there is another smaller reef and it proved more interesting.  At least there were some fish there.  I didn’t want to stay there too long as I was out of visual contact from the shore and I thought Scamp would be worried I’d be swept out to sea or eaten by a giant crab.  Actually it was Madeleine who was worried, not Scamp, but no matter, I’d snorkelled and I’d seen some fish.  The next time we come back to Tobago  – oh, yes, there will be a next time  – I’ll bring flippers too.  Ungainly on land, but so much more efficient for swimming.

Lunch was Bake and Shark from one of the booths on the beach, but three of us agreed it wasn’t a patch on the offering from Maracas.  That and a couple of drinks kept us fed and watered until it was time to go home to Sandy Point.  I got one sketch done in the interim and that’s this little doodle here.  Not very impressive, but it fits the bill.

When we got home, Scamp and I went for a walk along the beach past the airport runway and passed a big poisonous tree.  The sign said BEWARE of touching bark, leaves, fruit or anything to do withx-default the tree as it poisonous and corrosive and can kill.  Then at the bottom of the sign there’s a not to say ‘Don’t Panic’!  Watched the pelicans fishing for a while.  When we got back from the walk, we sat with our feet in a VERY hot tub. Then Scamp went back to the room while I did a sketch that I would fake as yesterday’s for the 28 Drawings Later page on Facebook.  Just a slip of the pen really.  I meant to write 7-2-2017, honest officer Winking smile

Dinner was a marvellous Stewed Chicken with Plantain and Macaroni Pie.  Sorry Sim, yours was good, and it was a close run thing, but your mum’s had the edge this time.

Two rum ‘n’ coke’s while listening to the entertaining Calypso singer in the bar rounded the day off.

15 Dec

Steamin’ – 24 January 2017

The dogs started their howling at 8.30 this morning and didn’t let up until 12 noon.  Something will need to be done soon.

To get us out more than anything else, I think, Scamp suggested going for a swim.  I thought it was a good idea and grabbed my bag.  The pool wasn’t totally empty when we got there, so there was space for a couple of wee ones.  I think Scamp just wanted to try out her new swimming costume.  I just wanted a bit of peace and quiet.  Then other folk seemed to think they had the right to come in to ‘Our Pool’.  I don’t know what gets into these folk.  They should know by now that when we are in the pool, they get out.  Anyway, I let them have their swim because I was going in to the steam room.

It certainly was steamy.  It was hot and steamy and smelly in a nice way.  When we started going to the leisure centre the steam smelled like eucalyptus, then gradually it just smelled like, well, like steam I suppose.  Now the eucalyptus is back as the flavour of the month and it makes a pleasant change.  I managed to stay in there for about 10 minutes before the steam became unbearable and I had to go for a shower.  Another couple of lengths then it was time to try out the sauna.  Not as hot as the steam room, but still hot enough.  Things are finally looking up at the pool after all the alterations and essential maintenance.  One short swim and another dose of eucalyptus and that was my exercise for the day.

Back home, an roll ’n’ egg replaced the calories I’d lost with my exercise regime.  Then it was time to cram stuff into a bag and see how much it weighed before dinner time.

After dinner, I finished off Avarice a book by Pete Brassett.  If you want to read my review, it should be on Amazon and Goodreads.  It got one star, because it was funny.  I don’t think it was really meant to be a comedy, but it was simply ridiculous.  Tartan Twee I called it, and it was.  Rebus meets Brigadoon and sticks the nut in him.

It’s been another of those dull, not quite rainy days, but I did manage to get a few shots of Mr Squirrel stealing the birds peanuts.  Tomorrow the weather is meant to be brighter.  We’ll see.