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Thunder and Lightning – 9 June 2018

Thankfully, it brought some rain too.

The day started out as it has done for the last month, with white skies, then the sun broke through. We hadn’t settled on anywhere in particular to go, but Stirling was on the cards as a possible. Drove in to the town, or should I say the City as it achieved city status in 2000. Wandered round the Thistle Centre (but didn’t see any thistles). Got a pair of chinos and a short sleeved shirt. Scamp was impressed that they colour matched. Me, I knew they would, I’ve seen the colour wheel, you know. I can even recite the colours primary and secondary in their correct sequence. Tertiary, that’s a bit more tricky. Had lunch in Nero and then came home, becoming more and more concerned about the heavy, lumpy, dark grey clouds.

We were just leaving the car park when the first drops hit the windscreen. By the time we were entering Cumbersheugh, the rain was heavy and it looked as if it had been heavy for some time. There were occasional flashes of lightning, and a few rumbles of distant thunder. Not long after we got home it started to roll all around us. Just to emphasise the point, the rain started in earnest, creating a nice wee river down past the house.

It took about three hours for the thunderstorm to completely subside and then the sun came out and shone as if there had been no rain, no thunder and no lightning. I got today’s PoD from the kitchen door, looking at a rose leaf with a neat little droplet of water creating a lens.

Went to start working again on the Linx, but it told me that Windows wants to complete the upgrade and it may take some time. At present it’s doing a backup that will hopefully allow me to undo all the bad work it is planning. Devious bastards Microsoft.

Knee is getting a bit painful. I’m going to get the results of my blood test on Monday and I think I’ll ask the sister if there’s anything I can do about it. If all else fails I’ll go and see David the Physio for some torture Oops, I meant treatment. Paracetamol isn’t working all that well on it.

Nothing planned for tomorrow except dancing in a new venue in Glasgow – Maracas. It’s a new cafe in Cambridge Street. Not sure how much I’ll be able to dance, but I’ll give it a whirl, I hope.

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Dull, dull, dull – 20 May 2018

Just in case you didn’t guess, today was a bit dull.

In the morning we drove in to Glasgow because Scamp had an appointment with M&S to spend some money. I was looking for photos. We both got what we intended to get. Scamp completed her swimsuit ensemble and I got a few photos I’d been looking for. My favourite and PoD is above.

<Technospeak>
When we got home I resumed my work on trying to figure out what was wrong with Scamp’s computer which wouldn’t respond properly to Autoplay any more. I eventually found the problem and the solution in an old post on the internet. It involved a complicated bit of deletion using the registry editor Regedit, also known as “The Hand Grenade” (what happens if I pull this little pin out?). Luckily I was very careful which pins I pulled out and nothing went bang afterwards, but what did happen was that Autoplay now plays nice. Not perfect, just nice. Perfectly may mean more work tomorrow or some other day. For now, it nearly works.
</Technospeak>

I made dinner tonight which was the complicated and not very successful Aloo Saag. Not as good as last time. The spinach sauce was too thick and there was a taste in there that just didn’t gel. I might water it down slightly tomorrow for lunch. I also baked another sourdough loaf which was slightly more successful than the first, but not as good as the last one.  Middling.  Still some work to be done on consistency of the dough and baking time.

It being such a dull day, I couldn’t even be bothered going over to St Mo’s to get more photos. I’d got the ones I wanted. This is the photo I went to take. The candelabra its twin are in an alley just off Queen Street and I’ve often wondered why these ornate lights are there in an alley that just hold dustbins. Maybe there’s a story there waiting to be unearthed. It didn’t win PoD because the group discussing The Duke (not to be confused with The Red Juke) was more interesting.

Did a bit of sketching while watching a boring Jools Holland, but I really need to do more, and before Wednesday. That may be the plan for tomorrow. Some decent sketching. Scamp’s going out to meet Isobel in the morning. Busy week this week, something on every day.

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Steamin’ – 12 May 2018

Last night after being fairly well organized, Windows decided it desperately needed an update without telling anyone.

<TECHNOSPEAK>
I thought I was sorted. Blog written, photos edited and ready to be exported. All I needed to do was put everything together and upload them. Unfortunately, Windows in association with Lightroom had other ideas. First, LR wanted to export the wrong file and absolutely refused to pick the right one. ON1 was no help, because it wouldn’t load. Usually a restart will solve the problem and when I tried to restart the computer and it told me it was configuring it, I knew it had been downloading another unnecessary upgrade. That explained it, I thought. However on restarting, nothing wanted to work at all. Got fed up with its shenanigans and did an impolite shutdown. On a Mac, a polite shutdown is where you tell the ‘puter to shut down. An impolite shutdown is where you pull the plug. You don’t have that option on a laptop. Holding down the on button does the same job. Val says leave it for a slow count of ten and then restart it. That’s what I did and it worked. Everything was normal. LR exported the file and Livewriter uploaded the blog without any problem.
</TECHNOSPEAK>

That was last night, today was much better. We were out fairly early to make the most of the day at the Steam Fair in Stotfold. We were walking there, taking the path between the old mill and the mill house, the former dull and uninteresting, the latter looking very elegant, but not worth the £2M asking price. From there across the fields to Stotfold, an odd mixture of new-builds and centuries old farm buildings.

The Steam Fair was marvellous. As the name suggests, lots of steam driven machinery and transport. Even better there was a fair, a real fair with stalls, a big wheel, a helter skelter and best of all, a Wall of Death. I can’t remember exactly when I last saw a wall of death, but it must have been fifty years ago at least. We wandered round the attractions, then we three meat eaters had hot roast pork with stuffing and crackling on a roll from a stall, while the vegetarian of the group had a carton of chips. The roast pork was excellent. Wandered round a few more of the stalls and bought two wee lego ‘Weemen’. A Darth and a panda, both of which will become models in the near future, I’m sure. Visited the Mill, a real working mill powered by a waterwheel. Really looked the part, despite being burnt to the ground in the ‘80s and rebuilt. Later we had a drink in the beer tent. JIC and I had an excellent IPA. Wish I’d taken a quick snap of the barrel to record its name. Sim had Old Peculiar which I always think is a bit too sweet. Scamp had a pint of Deuchers. Glad they had a decent Scottish beer too. Foodies, yes. Drinkies, perhaps. Finally decided to call it a day after I’d stood out in the rain watching a flying display by Captain Nevil’s Flying Circus. I bought myself a couple of caps, one waterproof (allegedly) one, just a cap for the hols. You can never have too many caps or bunnets. I was really glad I’d decided to wear my rainy coat because it rained all the way home.

At night we went to the Lancers, Indian restaurant in Baldock. Food was deemed ok. Not too bad, but with strange mixtures. Scamp wasn’t impressed with her Saag Paneer which seemed to have coconut milk in it. Never seen that before, but perhaps its a regional thing in India.

Watched a couple of strange Black Mirror episodes to finish off the day. What is it about Black Mirror that makes it stick in my head long after the program has finished? They remind me of the old ’60s Outer Limits, the black and white ones.

Tomorrow we must say goodbye to this place and fly back home.

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The Gas Man Returns – 26 April 2018

Another early rise.

The gas man phoned at 8.15 this morning to say that he was on his way, but asked me first to unscrew a bleed screw at the top of the boiler. When I did this, there was a hiss of escaping air and then a few gurgles. Still nothing from the boiler. When he came in he diagnosed the problem right away. I’d switched it off at the boiler and forgotten to switch it back on again. Numpty. That didn’t explain the inability of the boiler to fire up on Tuesday night though, for that he diagnosed an air lock which I’d partly resolved by unscrewing the bleed screw. He bled the air chamber inside the boiler and now it’s working perfectly, in fact it’s much better than it’s been for months, if not years. We now have instant HOT water in the upstairs bathroom, something we’ve never really had. So here’s a hint for you readers. If your central heating won’t come on, check that it’s actually switched on.  We’re now talking about getting a Hive to give us even more control over our heating.

With that problem solved we went in to Stirling to get some messages. Just the usual day’s shopping in Waitrose, then back home for lunch. Weather was traditional April showers with intervals of really bright sunshine in between.

After lunch I went out for a walk and managed to get a photo of some Wood Anemone flowers down by the banks of the Luggie Water and that became the PoD as you can see. There wasn’t much else to see today and although the sky was interesting, there wasn’t much in the landscape to create a foreground, so it was ‘flooers’ again, I’m afraid.

Dinner was more of yesterday’s Simple Fish Stew. The fish might have been simple, but the stew was a whole host of complex flavours and tasted even better today. Scamp had bought some rhubarb in Waitrose and while I was out stravaigin’ the countryside, she had made the most delicious Rhubarb Pie for desert. It was so good, I had two pieces.

On the dot at 7.30pm the boiler fired up and in fifteen minutes the room was warm. It’s amazing what you can do if you switch the bloody thing on first 😉

Tomorrow is Scamp’s day. She’s out for dinner with The Witches and out in the evening with Isobel at Cumbernauld Theatre to a choir concert. I’m taxi driver, probably in both cases, but certainly at night. Morning’s free I think.

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What a difference a day makes – 22 April 2018

When we woke this morning it was dry and with a touch of sun. It didn’t last.

The rain started just before we got up and remained for most of the morning. It was indeed going to be a stay at home day.

<Technospeak>
Last night was another technological nightmare. While I was writing the blog I was restoring a backup from just over a week ago on to the Linx 12. I’d unfortunately decided to have it verified before I installed it. It was only after it was started, and the ‘cancel’ button had become greyed out, that I realised that it was going to take a long time to check the backup. In fact, it took as long as the actual restore to check it. Rather than go to bed and leave the ‘puter churning through this process, I sat and read another few pages of my book. Eventually it did complete around 1am and just as I was shutting it down, up came the inevitable message “Configuring updates. Don’t switch the computer off”. Too late mate, It’s switching itself off. I went to bed. Well, it was worth the loss of sleep, because when I started the Linx this morning, everything was there. Not only that, the bluetooth mouse that started off this drudgery worked perfectly after I made the change noted in yesterday’s blog. I spent an hour or so adding some stuff and subtracting others until I was happy that what I had was serviceable system. I then made a backup of the up to date system. This time I made sure that I set it to check the backup after it made it. That process, conducted under Windows and utilising a USB 3 connection to the backup drive took just under 20 minutes to backup and check. A far cry from last night’s three hour marathon.
Note to self: When you use Macrium to backup a 64Gig drive, do it uncompressed! It takes a fraction of the time the compressed backup takes!
</Technospeak>

Ok, now that Scamp and JIC at least have returned, here’s the rest of the day. By the way, I made a resolution to get to bed the same day I got up, so this blog and probably others in the next week or so will be written in blocks during the day when I’ve nothing better to do and they blocks will be seamlessly welded into a complete page.

It was a dreich day but I did manage to get out for a walk in the afternoon and it stayed dry all the time. Just a walk through St Mo’s and with the ‘Big Dog’ to look for something that wanted its photo taken. Mr Grey was the first customer. I did see a couple of deer, but they fled too quickly. The rest was all macros. My first hoverfly photo of the year and some neat closeups of catkins. Sometimes you’re lucky if you get one decent subject, sometimes you’re overwhelmed and struggling to refine it down to one photo. I also dragged back some bracken fronds to paint on. Not paint as a subject, but to stick on the canvas and paint over for added texture! Hopefully!

Had a quick practise of the waltz for Wednesday and am much more satisfied with it. Jive? Now that’s another kettle of fish.

Dinner was Sea Bass with Potatoes and Broccoli. Scamp made it of course. She’s the fish master. Much nicer than last night’s fish supper.

Tomorrow is Gems day and hopefully a better day all round than today.

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No Fish Today – 12 April 2018

A drive around Falkirk and Stirling was on the cards today.

<Technospeak>
In the morning, Scamp was having coffee with Isobel. I cleaned out a file on the new Linx. It’s named Windows.old and on the ‘new’ computer, it holds 12.5GB of data. That’s data that I’m not going to use again. That’s data that takes up almost 19% of the 64GB storage on the Linx. I did the sensible thing first, of course. I backed up the whole 64GB earlier in the week. I should say that I tried to just simply delete the folder last night, but I kept on hitting blocks where some files were locked and others needed approval by the ‘administrator’ i.e. me. It wasn’t just the simple fire-and-forget deletion that my Windows Explorer replacement, Directory Opus, can usually be relied upon to supply. However, after a bit of searching on the Interweb, I found an elegant solution that Microsoft actually supply. Admittedly it’s hidden deep in the pages within pages of the ‘system’. It does a good job though. 12GB of useless crap surgically removed. I may say this only once: Thank you Microsoft! Oh yes, and I did today’s Sudoku too.
</Technospeak>

When she got back, Scamp suggested we go to the fish shop in Linlithgow. We’d been planning to go for a couple of weeks now. Seemed like a plan, so off we went. Drove along the traffic jam and assault course that is a Main Street in Linlithgow only for Scamp to cry out that the shop was shut. I couldn’t look myself for the simple reason that I’d have driven into a bus or a tractor coming the other way or run one of the amazing amount of red lights on that street. You really have to have driven there to realise just what I’m talking about. I took her word for it and drove on out the other side. I could have turned at the roundabout at the end of the Main Street, but that would have meant running the gauntlet a second time and I wasn’t up for that. That took us the long road down past Grangemouth and from there along the M9 to Stirling. It gave me the opportunity to stock up on breakfast muesli and beer at Morrisons. Both essentials. It also gave Scamp a chance to buy up their entire stock of ‘cheap wine’ (her words, not mine). We also had a cheap lunch (my words). Bowl of chips (S), Roll ’n’ Sausage (me) and two cups of reasonable coffee for just over £6. That’s a good deal.

On the way home was a plant nursery Isobel had been telling Scamp about. How convenient. She got a Ladybird Poppy there and she’d also got a wee Acer in Morrisons, so she was a happy bunny. When we got home I found a confirmation email from the shop to confirm that just short of £100 would be in our account soon. I was a happy bunny.

Back home I put on my walking trousers. That’s the pair of cords with holes in the pockets and muck splattered all the way up the legs. Went for a walk round St Mo’s. Found two of the Orange 16 Spot Ladybirds I’ve been keeping tabs on since December. One looked as if it was laying eggs, but was in a really awkward place in the moss at the bottom of an ash tree, so it was difficult to be sure. PoD went to the Gorse flower. Lovely and bright.  Notice the yellow theme!

Tomorrow looks like it will be wet. Don’t know what we’ll do. Maybe go for lunch, that would be good. Not going for fish.

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Waving goodbye to an old work friend – 10 April 2018

Today was one of those Scottish days. Dull, damp and dreary.

Slow to get started today, but I’d decided to reformat the old school laptop taking with it the last vestiges of me. Full deletion. This took a much shorter time than the last one, only about two hours which is reasonable for a 750GB drive and installation of the abominable Windows 10.

Scamp was out for coffee with a Witch friend, so I found the box for the laptop and took it up to the town centre to see what they’d give me for it. The shop was empty when I went in, but as soon as they sniffed fresh meat being delivered, all the Carbrain dead-heads were circling. Basically I handed over the machine. They confirmed the spec and told me I’d get an offer by phone or email, probably by Friday and gave me a receipt so they could do a ‘Three hour burn in test’. I didn’t want to tell them I’d done at least 30 hours of burn out test in the last week. Anyway, it’s gone and I’ll get something for it. How much I don’t know.

Next, when I came home I loaded more progs into the Linx and successfully secured the serial numbers for two of them. The rest were just Freeware – Real freeware I hasten to add. All legal and above board. Finally tonight I managed to get the email working. That was the worst struggle of all, but now it’s done.

You’ll notice I’ve said nothing about photos or food, which is unusual for me. I’d made a loaf last night and baked it today. It worked, but only just. It was a bit flat, so I let my sourdough starter go – down the pan. Somewhere the fishes are saying “What the F*** is that?” I’ll start a new batch tomorrow. Different recipe. Scamp made dinner. Mince ’n’ Tatties (with beetroot JIC!). Simply superb!

It wasn’t a day for photos. Today I just wanted to get the laptop off my hands, so today’s PoD is Hi Ho Silver. A funny weeman I treated myself to on Saturday. I quite liked him. Yes, I know the horse should be white and the rider should have a mask, but you get the idea!

Tomorrow is Dancing day. No time for anything else.

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You’ve NOT got mail – 9 April 2018

Wasted an hour today trying to get Windows 10 Mail to work with my blog account.

Mickysoft, here’s an idea: If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

Windows 7 worked superbly. Still does on Scamp’s laptop. Microsoft fixed it with Windows 8.
Windows 8, the great white wonder was a great white disaster. People just went back to Windows 7, supported or not.
Windows 10 was the biggest con in technology. It was free, but you now no longer own or control your computer, Microsoft does. Big, buggy, bloatware.
Windows Live Writer was a great little piece of blogging software. Windows 10 killed it.
Windows Live Mail was an ok email program until the latest Windows 10 upgrade killed it.
Now we are stuck with Windows Mail. It’s an absolute bastard to work with. It simply does not work. It tells you you are connected and everything is ok, then it decides that your password is wrong. It’s not wrong, the software is wrong. Will they fix it? I doubt it. Going back to Gmail on the Linx. Windows Mail isn’t worth the effort.

Went out for a walk down the Luggie to clear my head after the technology overload. Found some toads making more toads in a pond besides the bridge and that’s what became PoD. It was a lovely day with warm sunshine and just a gentle breeze. Daffies are flowering and it feels like spring.

Salsa tonight was hard work. I don’t know why, it just was. It should have been fairly easy in the level 4 class, but the heat was building as it usually does in that small room and there was no fan tonight. Advanced class wasn’t just as bad as we were in the big hall with greater air flow. However, I still felt it was a drag. We discussed it on the way home and maybe Scamp is right that Jamie is trying too hard to come up with new moves every week. Maybe we should be going back to older, more polished moves that really work. Maybe too, he has too much going on in his life to devote all his time to salsa. Who knows. Glad we’ve got ballroom dancing to fall back on too. It’s new, but there seems to be a progression that works. One of the girls from the advanced class was in a ballroom competition and we were watching the video of her waltz and it looked very swish. That’s what we are aiming for. Aye Right!

Scamp is out tomorrow for coffee with one of her witches. I think I’ll try to do a final clean out of the Tosh laptop and take it up to the second hand shop and sell it. May even find time to go for a run on the Dewdrop!

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Saturday in the Toon – 7 April 2018

Today Scamp had booked lunch for us in Chaophraya Thai restaurant.

Got the bus in to town and went for a wander up Sausage Roll Street. Stood gaping with the others at the demolition of the New City Palace restaurant, Greggs, The Works and who knows what else? They might even have to demolish Lauders! It will have a lot of smoke damage from the fire next door, but will any of the clientele notice? Probably not. It will just add to the ambience.

While Scamp looked for holiday stuff, I went to Waterstones. Found a book I was looking for, but didn’t buy it until I’d consulted Amazon. Glad I did. Waterstones price for the ‘real book’ £12.50. Amazon price for the kindle version £0.99! No contest. Did buy myself a ‘paintery and painterly’ book with some very interesting techniques in it. May try them out this week. Got a bargain of two posh rugby shirts for less than half price in M&S. Walked down the town looking for somewhere to get a drink. Found Drury Street Bar where Scamp had a G ’n’ T and I had a pint of draught Joker IPA, except it tasted exactly like the bottled version. Not real ale then. Quite a young person’s pub with everyone playing games :-/ Can’t imagine what the members of the UBI club would think about Dungeons & Dragons! Then it was time for lunch.

Pork Dumplings and then Thai Green Chicken Curry for me and Veg Tempura and Thai Red Prawn Curry for Scamp. Both served with Jasmine Rice. Starters and mains were the usual exceptional quality.  Only slight disappointment was Scamp’s Coconut Ice Cream and my Moroccan Mint Tea. Scamp’s complaint was that it was just ice cream with a bit of coconut – as she said, we’ve tasted the REAL stuff in Trinidad and in Tobago. My complaint was the MMT was advertised as Loose Tea and what I got was a tea bag in hot water. Not the same thing. Foodies, what can you do to satisfy them?

Bus home afterwards and although the weather had been warm and dry, just got in and  the rain came on and stayed on all evening.  Watched the qualifying for the F1 GP in Bahrain and then the final portrait of some american actress, Kim Cattrall, painted by the winner of Portrait Artist 2018. The portrait, to our eyes, was poor with only a passing resemblance to the actress. Having said that, she got what she deserved. She was so full of herself and her love for Liverpool (which she left when she was three months old according to Wikipedia). Who knew what she actually looked like.

Still plugging software into the new Linx. It’s still holding a good charge and joy of joys, Lightroom 6 on it reads the problematic Panasonic TZ70 raw files. You don’t need to know what that is. Just accept it that it’s a very good thing!

PoD, in fact almost the only picture of the day is of some bloke looking really lost and alone in Buchanan Street. Almost feel sorry to post it!

Tomorrow? Don’t know. May go to a food fair in Glasgow. Foodies? Us? May go cycling if the weather stays warm (9ºc just now at 11.30pm). Who knows. I get to decide, apparently.

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Biting the bullet – 6 April 2018

Today wasn’t as bright as yesterday. Maybe that was summer and we’re into autumn?

<Technospeak>
My old, not excessively old, maybe seven years old Toshiba laptop had been backing up my ‘Data’ partition overnight. I don’t know exactly how long it took, but when I woke this morning it was finished. I woke it, ejected the backup drive and, as someone on the net described it, pressed the ‘Kill button’. A couple of hours later the ‘quick reinstall’ had completed. The Data partition had been deleted and probably formatted. The C: drive had also been cleaned out and a new version of Windows had been installed. Everything seemed ok and everything seemed to move with the same sluggishness as before. Welcome to Windows 10 (this may take some time). I think that’s the full name of Windoze 10. I had a friend in Australia who always referred to Windows as Windoze. Then, ten or so years ago we didn’t know how lucky we were. Now we really have a Win Doze. The most sluggish OS in the galaxy.
</Technospeak>

We went out for a late lunch at the Torwood Garden Centre after my technology overload. I think it must have been Greyhairs’ Day today. We may have been the only ones with our own teeth. (Oops, sorry H!). After our repast, we went for a walk through the plants. Scamp bought me an early birthday prezzy of a Buddleia. It’s the plant you see flowering on spare ground and beside rail tracks. Unfortunately it doesn’t flower for me in the garden. I’ve been trying to grow them for years without success. Maybe this time will be different. Scamp also got some plants for herself and a couple of big pots to put them in. Packing them in to the car wasn’t a problem as I’d discovered the versatility of the boot which converts from a flat floor to a deep pit. Very smart. You have to see it, I’m not going to try to explain how it works. Believe me it does.

On the way home I bit the bullet and told Scamp I was going to but a Linx 12×64. I was going to buy it from the bastard Curry’s too, because they were the cheapest. Drove to Coatbridge to do the deed and as usual, went in and recited the name of the tablet. “No, we don’t have any.” was the reply. I told the bloke that they had them last week. He checked the system while telling me that “That was last week. Maybe we’ve sold it since then”, but he did it with a smile and was multitasking, so I knew he was an AI, not a Sales Droid. Turned out they had one and I grabbed it before they could tell me they’d need to set it up for me and that would cost another forty quid, but I’d get a setup USB stick. I also said no to the usual offer of an insurance money pit. To be fare to the Droid who’d taken over the selling of the device, he didn’t push it. Well, it was a Friday afternoon and his sights were on a Buckfast bottle chilling nicely for him in the fridge at home. A fridge not bought from Curry’s I’d guess.

Drove home and went out for a walk round St Mo’s while the laptop was charging up and downloading the 3Gb updates. 3Gb! That’s massive. Anyway, St Mo’s provided today’s PoD which is the pic of the seat with a view over the BMX track. Nice.

Long story short. The Linx 12×64 works well and those nice people at Adobe even allowed me to install Lightroom 6 on it for nothing. Legally too I hasten to add before you say ‘Hmm, all his software costs him nothing’. New leafs people, new leafs! Tomorrow I’ll probably find there’s another 3Gb download waiting for me! For today I’m a happy bunny who’s double formatting his old Tosh data drive one more time for luck. It goes on sale on Monday.

Tomorrow we’re going in to Glasgow not to look at laptops, but hopefully to have lunch in Chaophraya. Going in on the bus too because drink will be taken I think.