All Gone – 23 January 2018

The last of the snow had disappeared overnight. We were back to grey skies and rain.

In the afternoon Scamp drove us to the gym. She was eager to use her new gym card, but the computer was not feeling well so she couldn’t log in. As one of the regulars said “Every week there’s something else broken in here”. Did my usual rounds of the torture machines and added in an extra five minutes on the cross trainer. It was supposed to be ten minutes, but I considered I’d been cross trained enough in those five minutes. After the gym I went for a leisurely swim interspersed with ten minutes in the sauna and ten minutes in the steam room. Scamp was so impressed with her new card that she booked another afternoon of torture (with an instructor) for later in the week. I think I’ll just stay un-instructed and just keep well away from the cross trainer. Maybe it was having a bad day and was a really cross trainer today, who knows.

After we got back and after undoing all that good work with two rolls ’n’ sausage, the sun broke through the clouds, so I grabbed the Olys and went for a walk over St Mo’s. With the snow all washed down the hills, the water in the pond was a lot higher than normal and so was the water coming out the overflow. That’s where I got my PoD. It’s a slow shutters speed shot of the wee burn in spate. Quite impressed with it after about six attempts at different shutter speeds. This one was 1/8th sec.

Did a wee bit more painting of trees before dinner (risotto with peas and prawns, since you asked) in the style of Paul Bailey.  Google him.  I like his style.  Very rough, not a lot of detail.  Scamp isn’t impressed.

Sitting watching my old Nexus 7 rebuild itself after a full factory reset as I type this. Sometimes it’s the only way to get them working properly again.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Hopefully Jive and Ballroom in the afternoon and then Salsa at night.

Went out early got some photos – 15 January 2018

It was grey and dark when we woke and didn’t improve much for a few hours.

After the dull start, the sun broke through and I decided to go out and get some photos. Just because it’s a Monday, a Gemsday, doesn’t mean I have to follow the usual pattern and do things in order. The sun was out and so was I. The mosaic above shows that the sun did actually shine for a while. The weather forecasters were going crazy telling us there would be snow for hours tonight with compromised travel arrangements tomorrow morning. I didn’t care. The sun was out and so was I. It wasn’t really cold either. Not exactly shorts and tee shirt weather, but decidedly not cold.

When I got home, the house was sparkling as it usually is on a Gemsday. Not that it’s ever dirty, but it gets that extra little burnish on a Gemsday. I’d started a painting this morning before I went out, when the sun was still hiding, so while the singers were assembling downstairs I put another layer of paint on it. Strangely I’d messed around with this method a few months ago and hadn’t really settled down to finish any of the paintings. Maybe I should dig them out from where they’re hiding and finish them off. Anyway, once I’d reached a point where the paint needed to dry, I left it on the easel and headed for the gym.

I did 15 mins on the recumbent bike and then 10 reps on three of the machines then a final 10 minutes on the walking treadmill. That was enough. Got changed and went for a swim then a soak in the steam room before heading home.

Salsa tonight was centred on the twisty, turny Gorila (one ‘L’) from last week. It’s not getting any easier, especially when we try to dance it. I think I managed it twice out of the six or seven attempts tonight. Maybe we’ll practise tomorrow.

Couldn’t get parked tonight. Everywhere was full in the carparks. When I came in and reported that, Scamp said airily “Oh, there are spaced further down the road.” Did she offer to go and park the Juke? Don’t be silly.  I went back out in the sleet and parked it on a different street, something I don’t like doing. Hopefully it will still be there in the morning.  Not in a good mood now.

PoD was the moss macro top left.

Dentist tomorrow. 🙁

Persona Non Grata – 10 January 2018

Finally we did as we had promised and went to the gym, although one of us was left out in the cold.

I was thinking when I was reading in bed that we are, or at least I am, getting into a rut with every day following the same sort of routine:

  • Read for a while
  • shower
  • coffee at 11
  • lunch at 12
  • afternoon go out and find PoD
  • process PoD
  • dinner
  • repeat

We really need to break this routine. We went to the gym today just after 12noon. That broke the routine. Tried to log in at the gym and got an error message, probably because I haven’t been for ages. I could still use all the machines, but couldn’t remember the weights I should be using on some of them. Of course, none of the data was recorded but that doesn’t matter because there doesn’t seem to be any way for us to access it. Today was just a place marker to say we’d started again, so neither of us did all that much. We did have a swim afterwards and that was good. On the way out I checked at the desk to see how to get my card restarted and it was as I’d expected, I hadn’t logged in at (or in fact been to) the gym since 24th June last year and my membership had lapsed. I was soon reinstated. Scamp was not so lucky. She had been absent for longer and was now persona non grata. Her gym membership was revoked and her card confiscated then she was escorted off the premises. Well, it wasn’t as bad as that, she needs a new card which she can pick up when we return, hopefully next week.

When we came home I built up the easel and got out my acrylics and began work on a new painting. Not exactly new, it’s seen some previous iterations and is all lumps and bumps which adds to its tactile quality (snigger.) That’s when I came up with today’s PoD, entitled Happy as Larry. Slapping paint on a board always makes me happy and if a painting results from it, that’s a bonus!

Salsa tonight had far too many men so I’m doorman as I write this, making sure the new beginners are welcomed in and directed to fill in the application forms. Unfortunately I don’t get to take in any money. That would have been nice. I also had to put on my big heavy winter jacket because it’s bloody freezing here!

Tomorrow? Maybe Perth or if tonight’s fog persists, Cotton House for lunch instead.

Pants! – 8 January 2018

Not so much pants, as trunks, or the lack of them. Everything will become clear.

Drove to Tesco in the morning to get the makings for some soup. I’d never made just ordinary vegetable soup and I fancied a go under the strict tutelage of Chef Scamp. After we got all the veg that Tesco had, I drove back and got started chopping and dicing and washing veg. Then I basically bunged it all in a pot, poured in some water and set it to boil. After it boiled I turned it down to a simmer and left it for an hour. An hour in which I had my lunch and took my PoD of a failed leaf cutting sitting on the window ledge. Then I prepared myself for the onslaught of Gems.

It’s a Monday and Mondays mean Gems. Today they returned after their Christmas break and would be in good voice (for good read Loud). I had other plans, I was going to the gym.

Drove to the gym, found a vacant locker and started to unpack my gym bag, only to find that I’d forgotten to pack my swimming trunks. Now I had two options. One was skinny dipping, but I’m a bit old for that and the other was to return home, pick up the trunks and head back to the gym. Such a waste of time. The third option was to leave it until tomorrow and go for a walk instead. I chose option three and walked along the Luggie Water for a while and got some photos of the ice on the river and also some icicles on one of the railway bridges, so all was not lost. When I finish this, I’m going to put my swimming trunks in the gym bag for tomorrow.

Salsa was fun tonight. It took me all my time remembering what name went with what move, but I was not alone by the baffled looks on some of the faces around me. Tonight’s move was Gorila (one L) and it was a twisty turny one that I must look up on YouTube.

Tomorrow the Gym with all the correct equipment? Perhaps.

Hot Stuff – 5 January 2018

It was a cold day today. Damp, dull but most of all, cold. It was that sort of cold that gets into your bones and once it’s there, it’s hard to shift it.

One way to shift it is with a warming lunch and that’s what Scamp suggested. Scrambled egg with smoked salmon on toast. Just what I needed. My suggestion for a bit of warmth, and carrying on from my NY resolutions was to spend some time in the pool – not the gym. Maybe next week, but not today. Everything in moderation, that’s the way to make it stick.

We drove to the leisure centre and although the pool was full to start with, half the folk exited when the jacuzzi became available, so we both got the chance to do a few lengths in the lovely warm water. Next was a good ten minutes in the steam room and it was HOT. I could actually feel that warmth penetrating my bones and warming from the inside. I tried the sauna too, but I feel that it dries out my skin too much and that makes me feel like I’m burning. Back it the pool for another few lengths and I was ready to face the cold again. I don’t know if it was the lunch or the swim in warm water or the steam room, but for the rest of the day I was warm.

We went out to the Red Deer (or Dead Deer as we used to call it for no reason) for dinner tonight. Y’see Hazy, I was so captivated by ND’s Lamb Duo, I just had to try it, so that’s what I had (Yes! It was as good as it looked). Scamp was less adventurous and had Fish ’n’ Chips. I also had a bottle of the worst low alcohol beer that’s ever passed my lips. Imagine a bottle of diluted treacle with some hops dunked in them and you have the makings of St Peter’s Without. I’ll certainly go without rather than drinking that brown water again.

Today’s PoD is one of my wee men almost submerged in a box of screws. It was entitled ’Screwed’ and this is the description on Flickr:

You know the feeling. You’re looking for a bolt or screw and although you’ve got a box full of them, you just can’t find the right one, and you’re screwed!

Tomorrow (whisper it) we may go to Embra for lunch at Ravi Shankar’s restaurant. Not the real name, just what Scamp called it today!

We went for a swim – 22 December 2017

The day dawned dull and wet, but no fog.

However, by about 11am the fog van had arrived and was dumping its grey load on Cumbersheugh. We sat discussing what to do, and it was me who suggested going for a swim. It turned out to be a great idea. There were two people in the jacuzzi and one woman swimming in the pool when we arrived. Unprecedented room in the pool. We were only going to the pool, because we weren’t feeling energetic enough to attempt the gym. We spent just over half an hour enjoying the freedom of the facilities before we headed for home and lunch.

After lunch I drove to B&Q to get some silicone to reseal the shower cabinet in the bathroom and to get some photos of the statue of Arria which stands above the M80 and at the back of the graveyard. It was getting dark by that time and I was surprised at the number of people out walking dogs in the grey gloaming.

Came home and noticed when I was getting the fish out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner (simple fish stew) that the meat I’d put in yesterday wasn’t frozen. I think I might not have closed the freezer door properly and so we had to set the machine to fast freeze just to make sure that everything was frozen properly. I think we’ve managed to catch it in time. It was mainly the meat in the upper compartment that was affected and most of it is either needing to be chucked out anyway, or it was only just put in. It’s still on fast freeze now and will remain at that setting until I go to bed.

The picture of Arria made PoD as there wasn’t much else to compete with it. Like yesterday, I’d hoped for more fog to give it that etherial quality, but by the time I got there, the fog had turned to rain.

Watched JIC and Sim’s flight cross the Atlantic and stop over in St Lucia and then carry on to Trinidad, all on Flight Radar 24. Amazing use of technology. Hope you pair enjoy the upgrade in temperature from our 10ºc to your 29ºc.

Tomorrow we may go to Glasgow and we may go to Embra or we may not go anywhere at all. It all depends on the weather.

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!

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!

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.

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.