Now that’s much more like it – 14 October 2018

A much better day today. For once we thought the weather was trying to please, not punish.

Woke to milky white skies, but as the day progressed, so did the quality of the weather. By midday there were definite signs of blue skies and sunshine. Now that is more like the thing. I made the most of it by taking some shots of the light shining through the sweet pea leaves and also grabbed a shot of a hover fly on one of Scamp’s yellow flowers. I don’t know the name of the flower (or the hover fly), but I liked the shot. Immediately afterwards, Scamp decided it was time to strip out the sweet peas, so I was hoping that I’d got those shots cleanly. There would be no going back for more.

After lunch I decided that I wasn’t going to sit around all day and got my boots on and went for a walk along the canal and across the plantation to the old railway. I’d intended walking back along the side of the Garrell Burn, but with all the rain we’d had in the last week, the path was flooded in a few places, so I satisfied myself with taking a few ‘selfies’ using the Samyang. You’ll have to go to Flickr to find the evidence. Just click on the Picture of the Day at the top of the page to be redirected. With the road blocked, I walked back along the same path I’d taken to get there, and back along the canal. That’s where PoD came from. This was taken with my new iPhone app, Procamera. The amazing thing about it is the ability to save images as RAW files, meaning that post-processing is possible in Lightroom. That explains the superb photographic quality of the shot. Sorry JIC, a little bit of technospeak slipped in there.

Came home and decided that Scamp’s Chicken Broth tasted so good that I’d rather have that than go dancing in Glasgow. Anyway, although Scamp claims that her ankle is ok, we both know that she lies through gritted teeth where dancing is concerned. We backed out and stayed at home, rather than go to Mango. Chicken broth for dinner followed by chicken omelettes. Just lovely.

I’m really pleased with today’s Inktober sketch. I did something similar last year, or maybe it was in February this year, anyway, it’s a bit of a drawing within a drawing if you see what I mean.

That was about it for a lovely day and while watching Countryfile (without the despicable ‘Tom’ or John Craven) we saw the long range weather forecast for the week and the temperature is to drop tonight, but there will be much less rain and wind which is a blessing.

Tomorrow is Gems, so I may go for a swim or failing that, a run on Dewdrop.

Footering about – 9 October 2018

Most of the footering was done in the morning. Later things became a bit busier.

After the morning’s footering I drove Scamp to the Dreaded Dentist. It’s not the dentist she dreads, or so she told me. It’s the thought of going to the dentist that’s the worst. I can understand that.  I keep a sketchpad in the car, so with some time to waste I sat in the car, in the torrential rain and sketched what was in front of me. What was in front of me, today, was a red VW Golf and that is what became Inktober 2018 No 9.

Home to have lunch and then with the patient convalescing on the sofa I took a box of bottles and assorted wine glasses to the local recycling centre.  The glasses either had become chipped or had bloom from the dishwasher and were deemed surplus to requirements. I do love dumping bottles in the big bins, but what is even more satisfying is smashing wine glasses. There were even a few crystal glasses with chipped rims and they made a sound like ice breaking when they smashed.

Came home and went out to St Mo’s with the Olys in in my bag and for once, I remembered to pack my GorillaPod. The rain had finally halted and the sun was even threating to come out so I got a few shots. Mainly fungi and mainly taken with the camera on the GorillaPod under WiFi control from my phone. Isn’t technology wonderful when it works.

Dinner tonight was Mushroom Soup made from cheap, reduced mushrooms and a pot of crème fraîche that needed to be used up soon. Surprisingly it turned out very well. Main was Sea Bream with vine tomatoes and baked sweet potatoes. Again, even more surprisingly, it tasted good.

So, you see, after much footering in the morning, the rest of the day was fully organised and successful. Smashing, in fact!

Hopefully tomorrow is dancin’ again.

The blank page – 2 October 2018

It’s always this way with Inktober. The first day is fine, then the second becomes a blank page and a blank look.

Decided there was no point in worrying about having nothing to draw, something would turn up, it always does … doesn’t it? Well, it did and it was in the form of two different USB plugin chargers. Not the most aesthetically pleasing objects, but where would we be without them these days? They would have to do. Sat them on my drawing board in the back room and sketched them. I had half an hour to get a quick sketch done while Scamp was out at Tesco. No watercolour today because one of the chargers was black and ugly and the other was white and smooth. No need for any fancy colour, just a pen, a brush pen and a paint brush. Done just within the half hour. Not perfect, but practical and done! Bring on day 3, I’m ready for you.

Had an hour or so before lunch, so finally managed to update the firmware of the dash cam. Got that done quite easily using the micro SD card to hold the upgrade and install it automatically. Surprisingly, it still works!

That was about it for interesting things to do this morning. Photographed and posted the sketch on Flickr and Facebook. Then, after lunch, Scamp was making noises about replanting stuff, so I took myself off to for a walk down to Auchinstarry. Lovely day, if a bit cold. But it was dry and the sun was shining, so nothing to worry me too much. Got some photos of a leaf on the footbridge over the Kelvin, but the PoD went to the bramble leaf with all the jaggy thorns looking like teeth. That’s why it was entitled “Jaws”.

Tonight Scamp suggested that we up the duvet from the Tog 1 we’ve been using since spring to a Tog 3. For once, I hadn’t really noticed the need for the upgrade, but with one upgrade done earlier in the day, it seemed sensible to upgrade our sleeping system too. Hope I’m not too warm now! Fat chance of that.

Tomorrow Scamp goes for her check-up at the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow and it’s a morning appointment, so we’ll be up and out early(ish). Then there’s the promise of pizza later, before we go dancing.

Dug wi’ a burst ba’ – 30 September 2018

Hazy wanted to Skype today. Skype said No!

Scamp got a message today from Hazy asking if we were free to Skype. It seemed a good way to test out Scamp’s new ‘puter’s communication setup. However …

We tried for about half an hour to get Skype to connect, well, that’s not entirely correct. We could see and hear Hazy, but nothing we did would allow her to see or hear us. We tried everything and eventually gave up on the shiny new HP and conducted the conversation on the iMac. After our virtual meeting was over, it was back to troubleshooting the PC version. I checked that the microphone was working in Wonderful Windows 10 and it was. I checked that the webcam was working in Wonderful Windows 10 and it was, however when we tried to combine these two successes in Skype it failed. Now who owns Skype? That’s right, Mickysoft. That probably explains why it didn’t work. Scamp told me not to waste the afternoon on it, but this was rapidly becoming a “dug wi’ a burst ba’ “ situation. I wasn’t going to let it go.

Eventually I had to give up. Uninstalled the troublesome Skype then re-installed it. When we got it working, but because Skype is a Mickysoft product, it registered it to Scamp’s login name, not the Skype name she’s had for the last fifty million years. Not only that, it had lost all her contacts. Uninstall and reinstall again and the same thing happened. Only once she’d logged out and logged in again could she change her Skype name. Why does Mickysoft screw up everything it gets its claws into? Finally we could communicate across the living room with a degree of feedback through Skype. I think we’re good to go now Hazy!

Most of the afternoon had gone, but there was some good light left, so I went for a walk around St Mo’s and spotted Mr Grey up a tree. He must have felt safe and secure there because he didn’t fly off even when I walked right to the shore of the pond and stole his soul for PoD. I was glad that I’d got him, because there was little else to photograph today.

Made some bread which we’ll need to have tomorrow because it was too late to have with our dinner. Also, the tomatoes that were roasting for the tomato soup are still in the tray in the oven because Mickysoft couldn’t leave Skype alone (and neither could I). That too will have to wait until tomorrow. However my lamb shoulder shank was very nice if a little fatty. The other one will do for tomorrow’s dinner. Scamp’s stuffed Portobello Mushroom looked dismal, but she declared it delightful.

Swallow Watch:  Almost forgot to mention, this week I did see some swallows flying very high and this is week 40.

Tomorrow? Well, it’s a free day. No Gems. What shall we do with it, I wonder?

Italian Lunch – 8 September 2018

We decided to go in to Glasgow today. The weather disagreed.

Got the bus in to town. The weather was fine when we left. There is no reason to drive in when we can take the bus. No parking charges, no petrol being used, no limit on the amount of alcohol we get to consume 🙂 What’s not to like?

Took the subway out to the West End. To Kelvinbridge to be more precise and walked along in the direction of Paesano, but we didn’t quite reach it in the rain. We stopped instead at La Lanterna West End. We’d been there before, away back in June. This was it’s first birthday and there were balloons round an archway at the door. We stopped to look at the menu, but I knew by the look on Scamp’s face that “Resistance is Useless” as the Vogon guard said in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. We were going to LLWE. Starter for both of us were the same: Fishcakes. But such good fishcake. Probably the best I’ve tasted. Scamp’s Cod with Genovese Potatoes wasn’t such a hit. The cod was dry she said and Scamp is never wrong about fish. My Pasta with Salsiccia was ok, but with far too much creamy Gorgonzola. I know we sound like foodies, but we’re paying for this and we expect it to be cooked properly. For once, we had dessert. Scamp’s was Stewed Apple something and I had Tiramisu. Both were very good, although the tiramisu could have done with just a drop or two of alcohol in it.
Like last time, the restaurant was noisy, but there were only three tables being used. It’s not the people, it’s the hard walls and floor. There’s no soft furnishings to soak up the noise. Nice and airy though, not like La Lanterna in town. Not impressed. We might not be back for a while.

By the time we came out the weather had deteriorated quite a bit and it was truly miserable. We were going to walk up to Byres Road, but we just retraced our steps to Kelvinbridge and got the train back to Glasgow and then the bus home. Strangely, when we got back the sun was shining. Now that must be a first for Cumbersheugh. Actually brighter here than anywhere else!

After an hour long snooze, I decided to go out on Dewdrop for a last bramble hunt and maybe a PoD, because the sun was still shining. I got 400g brambles and the above photo. It didn’t look like much when I downloaded it, but after some judicious application of level adjustment and some colour saturation work it started to shine.

I spotted a Samyang 7.5mm fisheye lens on MPB tonight. My old Olympus 9mm fisheye is getting a bit long in the tooth and the focus lever is starting to move of its own volition so I’ve been watching for the Samyang to appear for months now. I snapped it up. It’s due to come on Tuesday.

The other thing we did today was to set up mail on Scamp’s new ‘puter. Windows 10 is a nightmare to set up mail on. However, after only and hour’s swearing it was done. That’s not bad. Then, when I was out cycling, Scamp set up the printer all by her own wee self! Well done you, Scamp.

Tomorrow we may go to Mango to dance in a strange place.

Computing – 7 September 2018

Not so much computing, more looking for computers

We finally gave up on Scamp’s old laptop this morning and decided to cut our losses and go for a new one. Currys in Bishopbriggs was the place to go with a better selection than JL. After much indecision, soul searching and cups of coffee, she eventually settled on an HP 14” laptop, only to find that they didn’t have one in the store, the nearest store that did have one was Braehead, in fact it had eight. Braehead is on the other side of Glasgow.

The Juke’s satnav knew where it was and delivered us to the door. It was like walking into a time machine. This store looked exactly like the one we’d just left twenty minutes before, and I mean exactly! Even down to the displays all being the same with the same machines and in the same places. Weird. That’s the great thing about AutoCad. The architect draws one building and simply adjusts the sizes slightly to suit different ground areas and bang. You have cloned another store. It’s almost like there’s a factory somewhere churning out Currys PC World stores to order.

Anyway, we found the laptop easily because, of course, it was in exactly the same place relative to the front door. That’s where the efficiency ended. Lots of black clad Currys PC World employees looking busy, carrying pieces of paper or clipboards. Nobody ever questions you if you’re carrying a piece of paper. Even less likelihood of an questions being asked if you’ve got a clipboard in your hand. Eventually after about fifteen minutes of standing being ignored by all the sales people, a lady with a clipboard asked if she could help. Scamp said “Yes, I want that one.” The lady said she’d put us in the queue and told us there was one gentleman in the queue before us. She didn’t write our name on the clipboard, which was probably just for show and after another then minutes our assistant arrived. Scamp repeated her “Yes, I want that one” speech and off we went to get the order processed. He gaily typed the details into the computer and told us they only had one, the display model. When he turned the monitor around to prove it, Scamp noticed it was a totally different model. He grumbled something about it being the right model and when he returned, he had a piece of paper and told us that someone (?) had put the wrong model name in front of the computer. Not so, we’d already checked. Half a dozen times. We’d had about 25 minutes to make sure while we waited. The new bit of paper had the correct model number and there were now thirteen models of that type in stock. I think they breed them in that warehouse.

Long story short, we finally got the ‘puter. We didn’t even have to endure the refusal to purchase Mickysoft Office 365 or the insurance package. I think he just wanted us to go. As we left we had to surrender our invoice so the guard at the door could check that we weren’t stealing a laptop, or buying a memory stick and trying to get through the exit carrying a laptop. I’m still not sure what that was all about.

Setup at home was the usual overdone Mickysoft pantomime, but in the end was fairly painless. We even managed to remove the old Micksoft Office Home from my old Tosh and release the license so that it could be installed in the new computer. By the way, it’s a 14″ HP with an i5 processor, 8GB memory and 128GB SSD. Just in case you wanted to know. 128GB isn’t much once you count in the room needed for Windows 10 and all it’s airs and graces. So once I got the hard drive out of the old HP we copied only the necessary files on to the new one.  I am reliably informed that Jigsaw World works perfectly.

After that I went a walk to St Mo’s and got today’s PoD there, before returning to make the best spaghetti I’ve made in years. The secret was some extra special Italian tinned tomatoes. Lovely thick sauce in them. Cirio Pulpa, look for them.

My apologies to JIC for the superexcess of Technospeak in today’s blog.

Tomorrow we’re going out somewhere, anywhere but Currys PC World.

Just when you think you’ve solved the problems – 6 September 2018

Another one pops up its ugly head.

<Technospeak>
Today’s problem came this morning. Scamp told me her laptop wasn’t charging, did we have another power supply? Well, yes we had another two laptop power supplies, but neither of them had the same connector as Scamp’s. However, armed with a voltmeter I checked the output voltage of her power supply and it was fairly close to the specification of 18v. It was actually running at 19.4v, but it has been running at that for seven years now and hasn’t given any problems until today. I didn’t reckon that was the problem.
I prowled the InterWeb looking for someone with the same problem and there were a few. The supposed best solution was to remove the battery and power supply then hold down the power switch on the laptop for at least 15 seconds to “possibly reset the CMOS”. I didn’t like the ’possibly’ part, but I tried it anyway. Replaced the battery and the power supply. It didn’t work. I then tried removing the battery as someone suggested and just connecting the power supply. It didn’t work. Reseat the memory? That didn’t work.
Powered up the iMac and loaded Google and told Scamp to use it to look for a new laptop while I went to the physio.
</Technospeak>

He listened to my update on all things knee and pronounced that part of the problem is with my hamstrings which seem to have become irritated (or irradiated) along with the ligaments. Four needles and a blast or two with the laser settled it down a bit. Two weeks off and then we’ll have an update. We talked bikes and cycling for the rest of the hour.

Between me swearing at Scamp’s HP and getting my two-weekly perforation with needles, the plumber had arrived and groaned when he saw the limited space available to him to fit the new tap. Half an hour and a lot of huffing and puffing later the tap was fitted and working and although it does produce one drip ever 15 minutes or so, it seems as if it works.

The problem with the power supply is still there. One possible solution is to replace the CMOS battery which is a tiny capsule containing a 1.5v hearing aid battery with a twist of red and white wires that connect to a socket on the motherboard. You can buy them in Maplin for about £2. And there is the problem. Maplin is no more. So now I have to source the battery. Probably Amazon will have them for £1 with £3 P&P. It would be nice it it worked. It might.

Today’s PoD, a seed pod, was seen in St Mo’s in a little bit of sunshine between rain, thunder and lightning and scarily heavy hail showers. A bit of a mixed day weatherwise.

Tomorrow we go laptop hunting I think.

Another Saturday among the Airies – 1 September 2018

Will we, won’t we go to see the airies? We will! WE WILL!!

The airies (I do wish my spell checker wouldn’t change ‘airies’ to ‘fairies’) were taking part in the Scottish International Air Show.  At Ayr, just to confuse things even more.  The reason for our indecision was the weather.  It was raining at home, hopefully it wouldn’t be raining at the coast. Since the trains would be busy and there was a reduced service due to an unsafe building next to Ayr train station, we decided to take the bus. It would be full of ‘pensioners’ using their bus pass, but as we fit into that demographic too, we can’t complain. Bus journey was fine and for once the connection between the X3 and the X77 worked perfectly. Followed the crowd down to the beach where the air show was to be staged. It’s the first time I’ve been to this show, but my favourite venue of Leuchars is no longer an air base and we were on holiday and missed the other Scottish Air Show at East Fortune. Hopefully this would be a good replacement. The fact that it was free had nothing to do with our decision!

Arrived at the show area on the Low Green, just above the beach to find that it hadn’t started. I thought at first that they were waiting for us to arrive, but apparently they were waiting for the weather to improve and the cloud ceiling to lift. The rain that had followed us all the way from Cumbersheugh to Ayr had halted, but the clouds were still hanging low and visibility, although improving, wasn’t great. However it gave me time to grab a photo of Scamp and her favourite helicopter, the Chinook, or ‘Double Twirly’ to give it its proper name.
After about fifteen minutes or so of hanging about, the announcement was made that the Typhoon was taxiing at Prestwick. Now that would be a sight to see as you waited for your Ryanair flight, a Eurofighter Typhoon taking off!

Unfortunately the Typhoon didn’t get to show what its 1:1 power to weight ratio could do, because of the low cloud base, but it was noisy and it was fast and it made my PoD when the pilot switched on the afterburner! It was an absolute bugger to photograph, slipping in and out of focus all the time.

I won’t bore you with a list of all the planes that we saw performing, but the stand out ones for me were the DC3 and three Beech 18s formation, the Catalina and the superbly noisy and fast F18. Such a scary beast. Photos of these and others are on Flickr.

Watched the immaculate Red Arrows go through their routine with inch perfect precision. In formation all the planes’ wings were aligned perfectly and the pilots’ spatial awareness must be super accurate. They closed the show and then the rush started to get to cars, trains and buses. We just managed to get on the X77, and I mean JUST. There were eight seats left on the bus and we were four and five in the queue.

Bus back to Condorrat and a Special Fish Supper each to end a Special day. It wasn’t perfect. The Battle of Britain aircraft didn’t make it because of poor weather and there were lengthy gaps in the programme, but all in all it was enjoyable. Best of all it was free.

Tomorrow? Dancing in the afternoon, that’s all that’s planned.

Brambling – 28 August 2018

Couldn’t decide what to do today, so did nothing for a while.

Tried to install the Nissan Connect app on my phone. To get it to work you have to fill in a lengthy form online, then you are asked to log in. The log in failed because apparently I used the wrong password ( I hadn’t). Then the whole webpage froze. Restarted and tried the application form again. Surprisingly it allowed me to go through the whole procedure without an error. This made me think it hadn’t recorded my data the last time. This time, a different page appeared and a confirmation email appeared in my inbox. Successfully logged in the second time, but couldn’t get the app to connect to the car. According to the FAQ on the Nissan Connect site, the iPhone doesn’t have the full Bluetooth app, which is surprising as it connects perfectly with the car to play music. Gave up at this point. Life’s too short for such badly written software. Shame, because after a year I’m getting to like the car.

In the afternoon I took the Dewdrop out to get some more brambles. Lots of flies about, one of which made PoD. Sun was hiding most of the day, but it was quite warm enough for shorts, however I was careful when picking the brambles to avoid more scratches to my already scarred legs. Apparently if I had seen the sun, it would have been surrounded by a red glow, caused by smoke being blown across the Atlantic from Canada!! So say the weather fairies anyway. Just over 1kg of brambles today. I think that should keep Scamp going until next year DV. I thought it would take ages to get the purple stains out of my hands when I got home, but Swarfega got the stains out pronto. The only problem was it also took all the moisture out of my skin too.

Out fairly early tomorrow for an 11.30 start at the dance class. May take the Dewdrop out again afterwards, because I think the SPDs are beginning to settle in.

One in the bag? What bag? – 23 August 2018

Another early rise!

Up at 6.15am after about 4.5 hours sleep. Taxi came at 7am and a driver from Pakistan took us to the airport an kept us entertained with stories of a gay breakup, the current weather in Pakistan and the expectations of a new era under a new political leader. Unfortunately the new era was in Pakistan, not Brexit shackled UK. His flow of consciousness ended with an exhortation to try an automatic drive car next time. “You’ll never go back to manual”, he said.

Had a coffee in Caledonian at the airport. Possibly the worst run restaurant in Glasgow, if not the world. Today we were served promptly, but others were complaining loudly and getting nowhere. When it came to paying, nobody wanted to take our money. There were some dazed looking servers going around doing anything but serve. Really, giving somebody a credit card machine isn’t enough. You have to teach them how to use them and also how to respond to a customer trying to catch your eye. Eventually Scamp had to go to the bar and pay there. All this on a really quiet weekday. Heaven knows what it will be like at a busy weekend in the summer. Caledonian, there is a difference between laid back and totally unconscious.

Bumpy flight down to Londinium, but a nice gentle, controlled landing into rainy Gatwick. Sitting in the airport bus I saw the PoD. Wide angle shot of the plane from just under the port wingtip. Only had time for one grab shot. One in the bag.

Inside the terminal, we wandered around the car park until we eventually found directions to the Express Pick Up hidden round a corner behind the lifts. Just got there as Neil was drawing into a parking space. He drove us back to the house in their new (manual drive) car. Very comfortable and a nice array of ‘tronics in it. Listened to an interesting Spotify playlist Pop goes Classical. It’s now on my list too.

Lunch was pizza (for me, I forget what everyone else had) at a garden centre near the house. We’d been there before and that’s how I knew to order pizza. Small, thin with good toppings. Lovely.

Came home and found that the photo I’d taken at the airport wasn’t on the card! The bag was empty. Took some photos of the figs growing in the front garden, but the actual PoD was a shot of Mal sleeping on Hazy’s bed.

The early rise was beginning to catch up with me. I went for a snooze before dinner and what was dinner? It was take away pizza. Not as good, in my opinion, as the one in the garden centre, but it was a Domino’s and it had anchovies in it. Why don’t we get them in Cumbersheugh? Maybe they don’t travel well. We watched Moana, another Disney film. We are reverting to our childhood.

May go to Kingston tomorrow.