IMG_4158- blog

Go out walking in the rain – 6 August 2017

It wasn’t the most inspiring day today. It had been, earlier on. Then we had hills from the back window, but later in the morning the hills had disappeared under a sheet of white, low lying cloud and the rain looked as if it was just about to appear. It did, and it stayed for the rest of the day.

We didn’t have any decent bread, so when I was getting the lunch sausages out of the freezer (fried lunch on a Sunday) I pulled out a 500(ish)g piece of frozen bread dough and set it to thaw out. After lunch the rain got a bit lighter, then the sun tried to come out, failed and the rain took its place again. It was about then I decided I was going out to take some photos, in the rain if necessary. So dressed in an old pair of jeans and my trusty rainy coat, I walked over to St Mo’s to feed the ducks and hopefully get some photos. The one above is my favourite. It was taken with the Nikon and a Sigma 105mm macro lens. A beautiful lens designed for taking close-ups. No zoom. It’s a Prime and with a maximum aperture of f2.8, depth of field is minimal. If none of that makes sense to you, then I’m sorry. Let’s just say this is one of my oldest and most favourite lenses.  Brilliant for beasties!

When I got back and got changed out of the sodden boots and jeans, I started to solve a puzzle that has appeared since I started using El Cap. The problem is Photos. It’s an app that is part of OSX and every time you plug in an SD card it pops up wanting to handle your photos for you. Well, actually I have my own software to do that, thank you very much, so bog off Photos. Except, it won’t, or should I say it didn’t until I fixed it today. You see, because it’s part of the operating system, it can’t be uninstalled. Actually it can, but apparently that causes more problems than it solves. I used Keyboard Maestro, a clever little piece of software that allows you to write ‘macros’ that can go behind the Mac OS and make things happen for you. What my macro does is wait until it senses that Photos has been triggered. When it has, it immediately shuts it down. It was with great satisfaction that I watched that colourful wee icon appear on the task bar, bounce a couple of times, then bog off! Isn’t technology wonderful when it works?

Went to Salsa at La Rambla. Had tapas first and it was very good indeed. Sat with Ronnie, Sharon and Peter and were entertained all through the meal. Dancing was good, but with Cameron in charge of the music, there were a few too many bachata tunes. Glad we agreed to drive instead of getting the train. About 25 minutes journey time instead of an hour and a half. Would certainly go back.

Tomorrow? More rain I think, so more walking in the rain perhaps. Today’s title is from Alex Harvey – Faith Healer.

IMG_4158- blog

Paisley Pattern and Siri – 5 August 2017

We were intending to go to Salsa in Paisley on Sunday and, as we hadn’t ever driven there, we planned a recce today.

Getting there was simple, even if Google Maps on my iPhone insisted on showing the route upside down. Just off the motorway we found the restaurant that hosts the Paisley Sunday Social. There were some parking areas around it, but nothing substantial and, as the social attracts a fair number of dancers, we decided to find a bigger car park. That’s when the trouble began. Paisley, it seems, has an even more complicated one-way system than is really necessary. After travelling round and round, we eventually found the exit and after a couple of wrong turnings, got parked. I’d just pushed the button for 2 hours parking when I noticed that you only need to pay on weekdays! No problem, at least we were parked.

Paisley is like most Central Scotland towns. It’s in a state of decline with frantic attempts by the council to make it look new and vibrant. It wasn’t working. Too many ‘pound shop’ variants and charity shops in the main street. A new shopping mall with only half the shops occupied. Cumbernauld without the concrete.

We wandered round the Abbey and surroundings, but didn’t even stay long enough to have a coffee. That shows how bad it was. I found some interesting buildings that I may go back and sketch and today’s PoD is one of them. It’s a former Territorial Army drill hall, now on the steep slope to Beyond Economic Repair. It was also falling into a big bucket of Photoshop tonight and that’s where the Haunted House look came from.

When we went back to pick up the car, I thought I remembered the street it was parked in. It’s the same street I drove a box van up to JIC and Andy’s new student flat! It’s a small world, Paisley.

After negotiating most of the one-way system, I foolishly followed Apple Maps which took me the wrong way down a one-way street! Never again Apple. Google maps may be upside down, but at least they are reasonably accurate. Eventually found the road back to Glasgow and late lunch at Milano. While there, I noticed that Apple Maps was still active on my phone, despite me having switched the phone off half an hour before. I switched it off – again. Meal was good as usual in Milano and when we got home I again noticed that the phone had switched itself on and was sitting on the lock screen. I got so mad at it I long-pressed the button, summoning the useless Siri. When it appeared, I shouted at it “Switch the fuckin’ phone off”. It switched off!!!

I wasn’t expecting that. Then I noticed, just as the display disappeared that power was down to 2%. That’s why it switched off, nothing to do with stupid Siri. Just coincidence.

No plans for Sunday, apart from Paisley.

IMG_4158- blog

Losing your memory – 9 July 2017

It started off just dull, then the rain came.

It was a dull, dreich morning, but there were a few brighter periods. We’d bought some large bamboo canes to increase the height of the sweet pea frame and today we just got it built when the rain came. It forgot to go away again. Actually it did dry up for a wee while, but not long enough to entice me out.

What I did do was try to fix Scamp’s computer which has developed a memory problem, but nothing serious. I’d pulled the memory board out of the seating and then pushed it back in. It’s a simple thing that usually works. It didn’t. I remember Val telling me once that if the computer appears to start but there is no display, then memory is the problem and that is what was happening.  It had gone from a minor problem to an absolute disaster. I had taken the usual precautions.  I had earthed myself before I touched the memory module and even made sure I didn’t move my feet on the carpet in case I generated a static charge that if transferred to the chips on the memory board would fry them. I took a deep breath and told Scamp “I might have blown the computer.” To her praise, she just said “Ok. What do you want me to do? Shouting at you won’t do any good.” I took it apart again and nearly made the fatal mistake of removing the memory with the battery still attached! After plugging the memory module in again, it powered up. Thank goodness. Now, looking back, I think either a tiny bit of dust had found its way into the memory slot and it was preventing a proper connection or I simply hadn’t seated it properly. Anyway, it lived to fight another day … and so did I. It’s still not fixed. It may need a new memory board, because it’s losing its memory, but it is no worse than it was yesterday.

I finally decided that I wasn’t going to get a walk outside today and took a few shots from the back door. Next door’s washing line made today’s PoD. The highlight of today was roast chicken with potatoes and cabbage. Lovely!  I made some bread but it was too late for dinner, so we’ll enjoy it tomorrow.

It was a poor day for photography today and it looks as if we get to do it all again tomorrow.

IMG_4158- blog

The search begins – 26 June 2017

Scamp was taking her sister out to lunch today and I was heading in to Glasgow on the train.

First stop was the Nile Barber for a number 3 all over. So who would it be? The conspiracy theorist? The Everything’s Getting Older grump with a story? Or would it be the new guy who doesn’t speak, just cuts? It turned out to be Aidan Moffat Everything’s Getting Older, and he had his left arm in a sling, so that would be another tale to tell. As it happened, he had a torn ligament, but didn’t divulge the reason. He did moan about all the folk who were just getting in his way in the town today, and how loads of trains were cancelled this morning because of ‘an incident’. “That usually means somebody’s jumped in front of a train”, his words not mine. “Monday morning’s a favourite time to do it.” Again, his profundity. However, he did tell some jokes to lighten the mood and he got a decent tip for that.

With the number 3 completed to both our satisfactions, I walked up to the Nissan garage that looks like a gigantic Matchbox Toy© display. That’s where today’s PoD came from, in fact the only photograph of the day. It was quite formal inside and I was beginning to worry if I’d dressed too casually for the occasion and whether I should have phoned ahead to make an appointment. However, I needn’t have worried, the fact that I had money which I appeared to be willing to part with made me a suitable target client. After having a seat in both the possible replacement for the Megane, I was a bit bamboozled with the ‘new’ uses technology had been put to in the last eight years. A lot has changed in Facebook cars since you last signed in. The salesperson obviously recognised my confusion and handed me the brochures for both cars and as a final ‘go away and stop wasting my time’ said “Is that all you came in for today?” My reply of “No, I came in to get my hair cut too.” seemed to go so far over her head it was stratospheric. Her blank looks proved that she suffered from an extreme form of NSOH. Clutching my brochures I made my way back into the real world. The search has begun.

Going back on the train, the bloke across the passage from me dropped a folded up £20 note as he was sitting down. I decided to be ‘good Samaritan’, tapped him on the shoulder and pointed. What a look of relief on his face. Good deed done for the day.

At Salsa tonight the beginners class were even, then a late arrival made me surplus to requirements, so I took my leave and polished off the above sketch in just over 15mins. It’s a fiddly building with curved stonework and strange angular areas of roof. I’m quite happy with the result, but wish I’d taken a photo to check some of the details. The little A6 Moleskine book is great for these small sketches.

Tomorrow the rains will come with a vengeance. On June’s birthday too!

IMG_4158- blog

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.

IMG_4158- blog

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.

IMG_4158- blog

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.

IMG_4158- blog

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.

IMG_4158- blog

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’.

IMG_4158- blog

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.