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The Fitness Regime continues – 13 June 2017

This morning, I was swearing at the WiFi extender. It had to happen.

The WiFi extender was glowing green this morning and that means it’s in the perfect place. Not too near the modem/router and not too far away. The green glow lasted until I opened my first web page, then I got the ‘No Internet’ message. Either I’d broken the Internet or the green glow had turned to a red one. Thankfully it was the second one. It’s been a long time since I’ve broken the Internet and the problem is that you can’t just go on the Internet to find out how to fix it, because you’ve broken the Internet. See? Thankfully all that was needed was for the extender to be put in another place, closer to the modem and it worked. Internet restored to full health, I went to the gym.

I thought I was having a hard time with my recumbent bike, treadmill and various weight machines, but there was one poor bloke much worse off than me. He had a Personal Trainer shouting instructions and ‘encouragement’ at him while he lifted kettle bells, bar bells and even played at making waves with a big heavy rope. We used to call it making ‘snakes’ when the kids were wee. I say ‘playing’, but there seemed to be very little enjoyment in this exercise. Once I’d done my half hour or so, I left them to it and drove home for a shower. I was just loading the boot when I noticed my extra passenger hiding behind the aerial. A spider had found a nice wee shelter and had presumably come all the way from home tucked away from the wind. Pic on Flickr.

After lunch, Scamp was off to have coffee with Isobel and I was going for a walk in the sunshine. Drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal, intending to cross through the Plantation and on to the Railway path, but it was so nice and warm beside the canal that I just kept on going. About half a mile later, the rain started and from then on, it was on and off all the way. Didn’t see any kingfishers, but the swallows kept me entertained with their aerial gymnastics and one of Mr Grey’s cousins posed for a close-up. Stopped at Twechar to sketch the lift bridge that opens once, maybe twice a year. Such a waste of money.  Interesting though and the first real Urban sketch for ages.

Across the road there is an old garage, boarded up and dilapidated and ripe for a bit of fisheye magic and some HDR. After a bit of fiddling, that’s what happened.  You can see the results above..

Walked back in the rain and Scamp made dinner which was a fish fingers salad using our own spinach and lettuce. Good to use stuff we’ve grown ourselves again.

Tomorrow I got to see the doc to get the results of my blood test. Going fairly early so I can enjoy the rest of the day.

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Summer in Scotland – 12 June 2017

Monday is Gems day. I usually get out, but it didn’t look like it today. It was dull again with rain and wind. That’s what you call Summer in Scotland.

I’d decided that today would be Boxer Shorts Day and I have finished the hard work. In fact, all the work is finished, it’s just the little bits of cleaning up than need to be done. I’ve still to give them a final press with the iron and then they will be ready for play testing. It was a bit of a challenge, Hazy, but an interesting one. I’d never have attempted it without your push. Thank you. Hopefully I’ll have pictures tomorrow.

Once that was done and lunch was over, Gems were gathering and I put my headphones on and painted for a while before biting the bullet and heading for Argos to buy a WiFi extender. Setup was simple and once the extender was paired with the modem, it worked out of the box. Now I have a decent WiFi signal in the back bedroom.

Looking forward to Salsa with Jamie tonight, but it was not to be. He had called off at the last minute because of a funeral. Some things you just can’t plan for. So it was Cameron who took both the beginners and the advanced class and he was really, really good. I was impressed.

Today’s PoD was taken from the top of phase 4 of the town centre, looking across to what I suppose must be phase 3 although it never gets called that. Its official title seems to be ‘that dump’ or ‘where the post office used to be’. It really shines in this light, doesn’t it?

Couldn’t settle on a sketch and finally decided to immortalise the two strawberries that were living on the top shelf of the fridge.  I really should have sketched them insitu, but that would have meant leaving the fridge door open for too long.

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I’ve got the shakes – 30 May 2017

It stared dull today, but it did get better.

This morning it didn’t look as if it was going to get better and by midday it was getting decidedly rainy.  Before that we’d done a bit of tidying up in the garden.  Chopped down the part of the rose that runs above the back door.  It’s been getting more and more straggly, so it had to happen sooner or later.  It happened today.  It looked a bit odd to start with, but hopefully it will force some growth into the part that runs up the side of the door.

We drove out in the rain to get the makings of tonight’s dinner at ASDA and stopped by Costa for a quick bite of lunch.  Came home and the weather started clearing up.  Took some photos in the garden, but they just didn’t work out.  May try again tomorrow.

Decided a walk over to St Mo’s would be good, so took the whole Oly / Teazer kit with me.  I wasn’t convinced that the anti-shake was doing anything.  I’m convinced now.  I switched off the anti-shake and took a couple of shots.  Actually, I didn’t need to take any, it was enough just to see the effect through the viewfinder.  Heaven knows what it would be like holding the camera at arm’s length like you do when you just have a viewing screen.  The anti-shake will now stay on at all times.  There wasn’t much to see or to photograph.  I did see some damselflies, but the wind was quite gusty and they were getting blown about too much.  No chance of a close-up with any camera.  Gave up and came home.

Scamp’s sister came in as I was getting the dinner ready (Cod and Smoked Paprika Chowder).  It was really good.  Now June has arrived too, so I’m in self-imposed exile in the front bedroom to get some peace and quiet to write the blog you’re reading.

Tomorrow?  Sewing class at JL.  Should be interesting.

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Tick – 26 May 2017

First tick this year. Let’s hope it’s the last. Tiny wee bugger under my watch strap. Beginning to nip now.

Another very hot day, well, very hot for Scotland. Sat out in the garden reading for a while but had to keep going in to the shade to cool down. Got he call from the car hospital about 11.00 to say that the car was ready to collect.

Picked up the car from the garage Car Hospital. They had replaced the radiator after having to remove the entire front of the car. Changed days from when my father in law and I removed the radiator from my Reliant Regal with the aid of a couple of spanners and a screwdriver. Then we took it to Hillington in Glasgow where he soldered a couple of cracks in the fins and brazed the bottom pipe back on.  Then we reinstalled it with the same two tools we’d used to remove it. Life was so much simpler then.

Drove to Torwood to get some more plants for the garden. This time the plants were herbs and vegetables. The radiator worked perfectly but unfortunately on the hottest day of the year (28ºc) the air-con has packed in. It was a very uncomfortable drive home. I think the time has come for the Megane and us to part company. I’ve enjoyed driving it for the eight years I’ve had it. It’s a bugger to park and the visibility to the rear is very poor, but other than that, it’s a very comfortable car to drive … and it goes fast, or at least it did when it was in its prime. I suppose we all did when we were younger.

I took a walk over to St Mo’s before dinner but didn’t get much. To many dobbers wandering around half cut with bottles of Buckfast. A typical Friday night in Cumbersheugh.

Today’s PoD if from the garden and is a rogue floret from one of the alliums (or allii if you’re being pedantic) in the front garden.

That was about it really. Tomorrow? Apparently we need some shopping – don’t we always? Then we need to sit indoors and watch the rain.

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In the recovery room – 25 May 2017

Phoned the garage this afternoon and the operation was a success, but the Megane will not be released until the doctor’s visit tomorrow morning.  Until then we will be waiting on tenterhooks.

Earlier in the day, Scamp went for coffee with our niece while I sat and read in the garden in the glorious sunshine. When she returned, I took our shared car and went to meet Fred and Val for coffee.  Talk was wide ranging as usual and covered book reviews, film reviews, the bastard Tories, the hapless, hopeless Labour and the only true political party worth its salt, The Glorious Nicola and The SNP.  I didn’t dare call her Nick the Chick or even worse, Wee Mooth.  I also didn’t mention that in the ‘60s the SNP were called the Tartan Tories.  I was outvoted today ( if you excuse the pun ).

Dinner was on me today and it was a salad with Smoked Mackerel at its centre.  It was very good.  Not as good as the pudding, however.  That was the lovely Pineapple Snow with Lime and Chilli sauce.  Sharp and clean.  Perfect foil for the oily fish.  Everything washed down with some Prosecco.

We took the last glasses of prosecco out into the garden to make the most of last hour of sun.  That’s when I got today’s PoD which is a low level view of daisies.  It was an experiment to see how easy it was to control the camera with an iPhone.  It worked.  Impressed.

According to the weather forecasters, we have one more full day of sun with even higher temperatures than today’s 25ºc.  After that, we have to face the thunderstorms that mark the return to ‘a fresher feel’.

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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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The May Is Oot – 19 May 2017

It’s been a bit of a flower centred week.  Since Tuesday there seems to be nothing but flower pictures imprinted on the CCDs of my cameras.

Today we welcome summer to Scotland with the Old Scots saying “Ne’er cast a cloot until May is oot.”  Which translates to english as “Don’t discard your winter clothes until the may (hawthorn) is in bloom.” Today’s PoD was of a cluster of hawthorn blossom frothing from a bush.  I had actually gone to this spot on the Antonine Way to try out the Teazer’s ability to produce a panorama in-camera which it did and also to check its in camera time-lapse ability which I failed to achieve.  Maybe I need to read the instruction book.  READ THE INSTRUCTIONS for what is basically a little point ’n’ shoot camera?  I think not!  Instruction books are for noobs.  Look, I paid good money for this camera and all its fancy modes, so it should deliver them without the need for an instruction book.  What is the camera world coming to?  It failed, in other words.  I didn’t fail, it failed.  Fin.

Made the strangest bread this morning because Scamp’s dad’s cousin was coming for dinner and she is a coeliac.  I’d never made a gluten free loaf before and when the instruction started with “beat two egg whites with two teaspoons of sugar, one teaspoon of vinegar, one teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of oil and 400ml of water”  I thought ’What is going on here?’.  However, I followed the instructions and the bread rose and was baked for the required 55min.  That’s twice the time a ‘normal’ loaf takes.  Even stranger, it looked like a cake rather than a loaf when all was done, BUT it tasted like a loaf.  Like a pan loaf and it had risen perfectly.  No soggy bottom and Isobel who has is an expert on gluten free loaves gave it her seal of approval.  She got the remainder of the loaf away with her.  I may try it again, even with its strange very white flour (that isn’t really flour) and beaten egg whites.

Scamp, June and Isobel were going to a concert in Glasgow afterwards and I was nominated driver.  When I came home I tried an install of Lightzone which is a very able Lightroom clone.  It’s free as in legally free and is cross-platform which means it works on the Mac and also on the Win 10 tablet because it has 32bit architecture.  It’s not as polished as Lightroom and doesn’t do the cataloging that is at the heart of the Adobe prog, but it’s a great piece of software.  Best of all, out of the box, it supports the Panasonic RAW files the Teazer produces.  Amazing what a little piece of free software can do.

Tomorrow?  More Teazer Testing, but I refuse to read the instructions.

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Toy Off The Rack – 18 May 2017

Drove in to Glasgow to have another look at the TZ60 and the TZ70.

After a lot of soul searching, I made the decision to buy the 70.  I won’t go in to the reasons because it’s of no interest to anyone but me.  It’s a clever bit of kit.  The two big winners for me were its ability to shoot in RAW and the fact that it had an EVF.  Again, I won’t explain why they were important, they just were and although the EVF isn’t quite as clear as I’d like and the RAW files need a bit of tweaking before Lightroom will accept them, I’m happy to put up with that as long as the results are worth it.  At present, I think they are.

Had lunch at Zizzi in Exchange Square.  Scamp had Ravioli and I had a Beef and Venison Ragu with some posh spiral spaghetti.  It was OK, but nothing to write home about, so I won’t write about it here either.

Went a walk down the town looking for inspiration for a sketch, but the Inspiration shop was closed on a Thursday, so I came home empty handed.  I did try a sketch in the sun outside Nero in St Enoch’s, but it didn’t quite work.  I may go back to it some time, but not today.

Got  the photo of the dandelion over in St Mo’s.  I accidentally overexposed it, although Lightroom tells me that I didn’t.  Anyway, I did some jiggery pokery in Lightroom to create a high key version and I quite like the result.  It was taken with the Oly 10 because the Teazer was still charging its battery at the time.

Listening to New Masters by someone called Cat Stevens on Spotify as I write this.  The album dates from 1967.  Positively Prehistoric.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to get some more photos taken with the new Toy Off The Rack.  Also hoping for another beautiful day like today.

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Testing – 12 May 2017

Scamp kindly offered me a run to the train station today because I wanted to go camera shop window shopping and she didn’t.

First stop was Jessops.  It used to be good, a long time ago, then it became truly terrible and eventually died.  It was taken over and re-energised by Peter Jones famous for Dragon’s Den.  For a while it became more like a photography shop again, but recently it’s become run down, staffed by people who don’t know what they’re talking about and just plain crap.  However, it was there or JL.  At least you can pick up the cameras in Jessops, even if most of them have almost no charge in the battery.  The big failing point for Jessops is the staff.  They think they know it all, and they don’t.  For selling point ’n’ shoot cameras to little old ladies, they’re fine.  Ask them questions about the more juicy details of a camera’s specification and you get that rabbit in the headlights look.  Either that or they tell you the first thing that comes into their head and then argue black is white that they’ve ‘Read it in a review’.  No you haven’t mate, you just made that up.  That was the case today.  Apparently Panasonic are wrong to say that the sensor size in the TZ 70 and the TZ60 are exactly the same size.  The schoolboy who served me today told me that the TZ70’s sensor is ‘just slightly bigger’.  Utter crap.  “Could I put a card in it, to try it?” I asked Mr Know-it-all. “Eh no actually.  Sorry.  You need a screwdriver to take the security device off.”  So you expect me to pay three hundred odd quid without checking the quality of the lens?  “Yes.  Sorry.”  See what I mean about Jessops.  They’re on the slippery slope.

JL were worse.  After waiting for 15 minutes for a promised sales assistant to allow me to touch the TZ70, one arrived and opened the case.  “Could I put a card in it, to try it?” I asked, “Yessssss??” was the hesitant reply. “If you …..”I didn’t wait to find out what I had to do, I just stuck an SD card in the camera and took a couple of shots.  It seemed ok.  “Can you tell me what the ring around the lens does?” I asked.  “I think it’s for focusing or something, but I’m not sure”  was the answer.  Her parting shot was the winner for me: “If you’ve got any questions, just come and ask me.”  By this time, I’d had enough.  I thanked my assistant and went to get the train home.

When I got back home, I eagerly fired up Lightroom to see what the purloined shots from the TZ70 with the ‘slightly bigger sensor’ would look like.  I’d deliberately chosen RAW and JPG files as the format.  Sorry JIC, is this giving you a headache?  Anyway, poor little Lightroom 5 just stared at the grey square in  the import dialog and said “I don’t know what this is.”  It appears that the RAW file requires Lightroom 6 to open it.  All that time wasted!  But there was an elegant solution (isn’t there always?)  It seems like that if you edit the EXIF (which is the little database inside almost every computer file) and change the camera model from TZ70 to TZ60, it will load perfectly.  I did and it did.  The result wasn’t earth shattering.  Well, the subject was a rack of ‘toy cameras’ in JL, so the subject matter wasn’t fantastic, but the quality wasn’t either.  It wasn’t bad, considering that the sensor (the digital ‘film’) is about half the size of an adult male’s pinkie nail.  It just wasn’t what I’m used to.  Size IS everything in cameras.

I think I’ve talked myself out of a superzoom compact camera.  I much prefer the quality of my Olys, despite their weight.  I took them out to run around St Mo’s for a while later in the afternoon sunshine.  That’s where today’s PoD came from.  It’s a Jenny Long Legs, also known as a Crane Fly.  The other two scary flies didn’t make it to PoD, but are available for your inspection on Flickr.

Tomorrow it’s going to rain.  So say the weather pixies.

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Cross Country – 5 May 2017

Woke about 7am and couldn’t get back to sleep.

It was just too warm.  Not a complaint we usually have in Scotland in May, but there it is.  Decided I wasn’t going to get back to sleep any time soon, so got dressed and took the ‘Big Dog’ for a walk through St Mo’s woods.  That’s where I found Robin singing his wee heart out and a bit further on I saw the green shoots appearing everywhere like little Bonsai trees.  Lovely light early in the morning when other folk are rushing to get to work.

Came back and processed the photos, then had a shower and breakfast in that order.  Always do the photos first.  Got an email from Hazy suggesting I look to Argos for an Amazon Fire Stick.  Logged on and ordered on in less than a minute.  Job done.  Thanks Hazy.

We couldn’t decide where to go on such a lovely day until I suggested Dunfermline and that became the chosen place.  Also decided to go on the bus all the way, stopping off in Cumbersheugh town centre to pick up the Fire Stick.  I’ve worked out why they are in such short supply.  I think it’s the Cumbersheugh Villagers who are buying them, thinking they will produce fire.  Somebody should tell them about disposable lighters.

Got a shoogly bus to Dunfermline and walked down the depressing main street after a coffee and a bun in Nero.  The park was full of weans, and I mean full.  There must have been about a dozen schools involved in an orienteering competition.  It was mayhem with weans running everywhere.  We wandered round the formal gardens because the glasshouse closed early on a Friday.  The place was looking a bit untidy with a lot of weeding needing to be done.  Not that I was volunteering to do any, I’ve done my bit for the week.  Walked back and had a beer (or a Rum ’n’ Coke) outside.  OUTSIDE, in the sun!  Then Scamp suggested that we just get the bus back to Glasgow as there were some things I needed to start my mammoth sewing adventure.  I needed tracing paper to trace the pattern.  I also wanted some Indian ink for sketching.  So it seemed like a good idea.

Got the bus back to Glasgow and once I’d got the tracing paper, we went to Paesano for a late pizza lunch before getting yet another shoogly bus home, setting up the Amazon Fire Stick (which doesn’t produce fire, by the way) and watching another episode of Lucifer in beautiful HD.  After that we found a video about a salsa competition that was ‘enlightening’.  I’d seen the lifts on Strictly, but they were child’s play compared to what these nutters were doing.  So far we’re both impressed with what this forty quid black box can do.

Tomorrow may be a stay at home day with a bit of light gardening for Scamp with some Pims as a refreshment and some cycling for me if the weather holds.