The Long Arm of the Law – 20 August 2018

This morning I was up and out early, very early for me.

Picked up June just after 8am, then picked up the (im)patient, Shona, then it was on to the M80 and a fairly clear run into Glasgow until Robroyston where traffic started to queue up. Actually, I was surprised we hadn’t run into more traffic earlier, but I suppose the workers were already in work and the school run doesn’t usually involve motorway driving. Got parked fairly quickly and easily, sent the mum and daughter off on their travels and settled down with a good book, Becky Chambers – Record of a Spaceborn Few. Strange SF, but really enthralling. I’d only been sitting a few minutes when I saw Scamp’s text -“Remember to look for the coffee shops.” Cryptic, but I knew what she meant and went in search of the coffee shops.

It turned out to be just the one coffee shop, an independent with a large frontage. Got a very decent take-away Americano and a packet of biscuits and went back to the comfort of the car.

Soon afterwards the twosome returned with smiles on their faces. It was a different doctor Shona had seen and he had pronounced her fit and ‘normal’ whatever ‘normal’ means. Anyway, that was the result they were hoping for and puts her back in the queue for the operation she’s been waiting for. He also suggested she had “white coat syndrome” as so many of us have.

Back home I got ready and took the Dewdrop out for a run, having stuffed a poly bag in my rucksack on the chance that I found some brambles along the way. I did and came home with just over 400g of berries and a bruised knee where I’d fallen down a banking in among the brambles. It was a good run, although one knee was aching and the other one was grazed and bruised. Today’s PoD came from that cycling visit. A wee dragonfly perched on some builder’s rubble on a fly-tip site.

After dinner we went to Glasgow to find that the parking charges had gone up and there was no 6.30pm class any more. That’s what happens when you miss one week of salsa. Today’s move was Lizzie and for once I managed to get it right.

Came home and checked in with police 101 to tell them we were available to hand over the footage from the dash cam. Just after 10.30 two polis arrived and had a look at the footage on the computer and agreed that as there wasn’t much damage to the car and none to the occupants, it was unlikely the matter would go to court. Breathe a sigh of relief. Still not totally settled yet, but I should know the final result by the end of the week.

Tomorrow? Going in to Glasgow to get my hair cut and probably cut mats for the painting and the two photos for the flower show.

An Inspector Calls – 17 August 2018

Any day that starts with a phone call from the polis is going to be a downer.

Luckily this call was just to check that I still had the dash cam footage of the wee bump last Sunday and to check that he could pick it up next week.

After that, and after almost finishing my latest Stuart MacBride book. Just a few pages left now to take time over. Good Scottish humour. Anyway, after that Scamp suggested we drive out to Morrison’s in Falkirk to get ’the messages’ and also maybe have lunch there. It was a sound suggestion and as she was driving, how could I resist.

After loading up the car and heading home we stopped at Halfords to get a dash cam for her car too. After much cajoling she had agreed to have one. We pointed the sales assistant at the one we wanted, a 312GW and off he went to find it. We also wanted it fitted, so we booked a time slot for Monday at 1pm. Then the assistant dived away and came back with about six boxes and started scanning them through. I told him I didn’t think we’d need the nice wee fitted case and asked what all the other things were. He told us they were part of the deal.

  • A case for the camera. (Why? To take it on its holidays perhaps?)
  • Another case with another SD card????
  • A pola filter to remove glare from the dashboard. Something we didn’t need.
  • The camera itself
  • An SD card. Ok, we needed that.

Scamp stopped him in his tracks with HOW MUCH DOES THAT COME TO? The answer was these were part of ‘The Deal’ for £99. We said no thanks, just the camera, the SD card and the fitting kit. How much do they get paid in Halfords for ‘suggesting’ these deals? Anyway we got the necessary stuff and were just leaving when he said “So that’ll be 12 o’clock on Monday”. Hadn’t he said 1 o’clock? Yes, I confirmed, it was 1pm he’d said. Now it was a one hour time slot starting at 12 o’clock. We’ll stick to that. I had great confidence in the fitting the last time when mine was installed. I hope it’s the same bloke who fits Scamp’s, rather than one who can’t tell the time, but knows how to hike the price of a dash cam. Back home and I did a quick fix to get the camera checked, installed and working until it gets plumbed in on Monday some time around midday. It was Monday, wasn’t it?

Grabbed about an hour in St Mo’s to get some beastie pictures as Scamp calls them. PoD was a hover fly holding on to a yellow flower in a stiffening breeze.

Out to Crawford and Nancy’s for dinner tonight with June and Ian. Great time and great food. Just a late night.

Tomorrow? Lunch is booked at the Cotton House. Chinese food for a change.

What you need is a dirty big spanner – 4 August 2018

Never a truer word spoken. If only I could get a dirty big spanner!

Both of us were loathe to get out of bed this morning. Both of us reading books that were totally unputdownable. Finally we sort of drew lots to decide who would go for a shower first. I chose to be the first to close the book.

With the plans for the day in ruins, we settled on Perf as Glasgow would be overrun with folk wanting to go to the Championships and Embra was winding itself up tight for the festival but the east was looking better than the west weatherwise. Also, I wanted some (more) coffee – you can never have too much coffee, can you JIC? Finally, I knew there was a good bike shop where I was sure I could get a pedal spanner. Perf it was then.

We drove through drizzle which turned to intermittent rain which turned to heavy and then torrential rain until we got to Gleneagles where the rain mysteriously stopped and blue sky opened out above us. The sun was shining and, although there were heavy black clouds in the rear view mirror, there was brightness ahead. We’d made the right decision.

Parked in our usual carpark which used to be an expensive NCP until they sold out to the Perf council who applied sensible charges. Not something that happens every day and not something that will ever happen to NLC. We walked in to the town and through the ‘farmers market’. I had a look in the Oxfam bookshop, but there wasn’t much to enthral me and the two prats who seemed to be in charge were too busy boosting each others egos with pompous reviews of films they’d seen and became so irritating I left empty handed.

Scamp suggested lunch in Cafe Tabou and we got a table without any bother, mainly because it was quite early. I’d forgotten just how good the food is there, but Salad du Chef and Traditional Cassoulet reminded me. Just simple good food well cooked and presented. Ok, it’s not quite so simple if you have to cook it yourself, but it appears to be simple food and that’s the clever part. We left feeling that we’d both eaten well. Scamp’s was Seafood Risotto followed by Coley en Croute.

Walked down to cycle shop, but he didn’t have a pedal spanner in stock. Typical. On to The Bean Shop, only to find that they’d run out of the coffee beans I was coming to buy. They’d have them in by Thursday or definitely by Friday. Disappointment number three. We went down to the river and stood on the overhanging vantage point to look down on the river. Just like being on a ship. The water was very low, even the rain we’ve had for the last week wasn’t enough to raise the water level by much. Turned and headed for the carpark although I knew there was another bike shop I could try near the carpark. Again, they didn’t have the spanner. This was beginning to sound a bit repetitive. However one of the mechanics gave me some interesting tips, like soak the joint in Coke! Apparently the phosphoric acid in Coke will destroy the aluminium oxide that causes the two metals to seize! Gave up and headed for home and Halfords.

The sun was still shining and it shone all the way to Cumbersheugh. Stopped at Halfords and yes, they did have a pedal spanner. It looked like a toy one. The handle wasn’t much bigger than the one I’d used last night. I said I wanted a ‘real’ one and he admitted that it might not be any good, then he showed me the one the bike mechanics used, but they don’t sell that one any more. Typical. It was a real one. I left empty handed for the fifth time that day.

I decided that it was worth driving in to Glasgow to see if Dales was open. Scamp agreed. Drove in parked and almost immediately found exactly what I was looking for. A sensible looking spanner with a long handle to give a decent bit of leverage and for a sensible price. Bought it, said thank you and headed home to sort that bike out!

Removed both wheels. Jammed the left crank in the workmate and tried that dirty big spanner. After the second try the white flag went up from the pedal and the bolt turned. Success at last. Both the mechanics in Perf had agreed that what was needed was a dirty big spanner. They were right. Now, before I put the SPDs on, I’m going to grease the threads well, so I don’t have to go through that rigmarole again.

PoD today was a macro shot of a rose. According to Scamp its name is Troika. It has beautiful colours and even more beautiful perfume.

Tomorrow I think we may be getting Public Transport in to Glasgow to see a cycle race and then I’m hopefully going to bolt the cleats on to my new cycle shoes, bolt the new SPDs in place with the dirty big spanner and then go for a run on my carefully washed and cleaned Dewdrop.

Seized! – 3 August 2018

Right is right except when it’s wrong.

The Right in question is the right side pedal on my Dewdrop. The saying ‘Right is Right’ means the the right side pedal has a right handed thread and is always tightened to the right, i.e. clockwise. The left pedal has a left handed thread and is tightened anti-clockwise. So, to slacken or remove a left pedal you turn it to the right. That’s what I did tonight and after a couple of judicious taps with a hammer on the spanner, it slackened nicely. The right pedal was the problem, and continues to be the problem. Nothing I did would convince the pedal to slacken. It’s seized solid. I tapped the spanner lightly, heavily, I swore at it mildly, then loudly. I heated1 up the crank with a blowtorch. I soaked it in WD40 and still it wouldn’t move. In fact it has now distorted the spanner so I’m leaving it soaking and sulking in WD40 until tomorrow when hostilities will recommence, once I get a new spanner. Oh yes, and before you ask JIC, I was trying to turn it the correct way, anti-clockwise!

From the above you will have gathered that I got a pair of cycling shoes and a pair of Shimano SPD pedals in, and I hate to say this, Decathlon today. Prices were as good as anywhere else and I got to try on the shoes which is one big benefit of going to an actual rather than a virtual shop. We also went to IKEA to buy some new cutlery … and a pillow for Scamp and a toilet brush and an egg slicer. Quite a random selection. I think we did really well to come home with so little! We tried to go for coffee afterwards, but the sat nav got lost. It told us to turn left at a junction that would have taken us into a Holiday Inn, then switched off. Perhaps it thought we needed the holiday.

Went out before dinner, which was the rest of yesterday’s Aloo Saag, to get some photos in St Mo’s. I took a couple of landscapes to play with in ON1 but the main subject today was ‘beasties’ as Scamp calls them or insects as the rest of us see them. Mainly wasps and hover flies today. Lots of both around hover flies won, as you can see from PoD.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. Glasgow will be jumping with these European Championships on, so we’ll probably point ourselves in a different direction, but where is anyone’s guess!


  1. Cranks are usually an aluminium alloy and aluminium expands more with heat than the steel of the pedal axle this should break the seal that has been formed between the two without melting the aluminium ;-) 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.