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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.

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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.

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Coffee and Larky – 7 July 2017

After a lazy start, I went for coffee with Val and Fred. The usual subjects: Art, Politics and Life in the ‘70s. Just three auld guys.

After we split up to go our separate ways, I went looking for a PoD. Tried along the Luggie but nothing worth while sprang to mind. Drove round for a while and eventually gave up and designated the yellow flowers as the PoD.

Sketch of the Day was a quick (very quick) SP drawn blind, looking in the mirror. By the very nature of blind drawing, it has to be done quickly, it’s gestural and mainly line work with little or no shading. It’s a reasonable drawing and it’s done.

Out to Crawford and Nancy’s at Larkhall tonight and had a good time. Nancy cooked a ham and it was delicious. Must try that some time. Their grandson, Jack was there and I did feel a bit jealous when he called Crawford ‘Papa’. It’s not often I feel jealous of Crawford, especially now that I’m retired.

Addendum:
Although this is dated Friday 7th July, I must confess that I’m writing it on Sunday the 9th because I’m frantically trying to catch up on my blog posts and Flickr posts after a busy week. Hopefully, I’m up to date now.

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The Dragons are back – 4 June 2017

We had intended going to the West End Festival in Glasgow today, but decided to have a lazy day at home instead.  There was to be no procession and that’s the highlight of the event every year.

Scamp got busy planting, planting and more planting.  Me?  I went for a walk instead.  Walked around St Mo’s and got a few photos of a couple of mating damselflies.  I was using the Oly 10 because it was the most versatile tool for general shooting.  The 45-200 zoom is a great lens and works well for close ups when you attach the extension tubes.  You lose a couple of stops of exposure, but it was a bright day again and exposure wasn’t a problem.

On my second circuit of the pond, a dragonfly caught my eye.  Waited for it to land and get comfortable then got one shot before it flew away to circle the wee pond.  Then it returned to the same grass stem, but it wasn’t comfortable and with each move I made it flew off.  Eventually it settled down on a reed and I got the shot above.  I was quite pleased with it.  It’s a Four-spotted Chaser male as you probably already knew.  Set the shutter speed high (1/800) and aperture fairly deep (f9) and that amounted to an ISO of a manageable 1250.  You just couldn’t do things like that with the Teazer, so it had a day at home.  The dragonfly is a Four-spotted Chaser male but you probably knew that already.  Lots more beastie pictures on the Flickr page.

Came home and Scamp was finished working in the garden.  Finished working, but not finished with the garden.  No, she wanted to get some photos of us sitting outside with our new drinks holders.  We got them yesterday as well as a barrow load of plants.  Set up the tripod, bolted on the Oly 5 only to find that the battery was flat and the spare one had just started charging.  I tried using the Teazer, but it’s so hard to use without a flip up screen.  Eventually got the photo using Scamp’s camera and it has already been sent out to all my readers I think.

Took my dodgy left knee to the physio to see what he could deduce from a bit of prodding and pulling.  His deduction was that it was a healthy knee.  He thinks I’ve maybe nicked a ligament at the back of the knee and it’s now well on the way to being repaired.  He gave me some exercises to do and wouldn’t take any payment.  Good guy.

Today’s sketch is of the Campsie Fells viewed through the back bedroom window.  Just a quick watercolour that gains entry into J’ Ink because of the penwork.

The only fly in today’s ointment is the fact that I’ve got a fasting blood test tomorrow morning and a full dance card for the rest of the day.  Never mind, it’s all in a good cause.  May take my healthy knee out for a walk if the weather allows.

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Before Ten? Ok Boss – 1 June 2017

Contrary to what we expected, it was dull, but dry this morning.  While Scamp did some washing, I started today’s Sudoku.  Each to his (or her) own.

Later, Scamp started to defrost the freezer.  With two of us on it, we did actually get it done a bit quicker.  Then we had to decide what would go back in.  The oldest item we found was a set of pork ribs dating to 2015.  They were a no-brainer, they had to go, in fact they almost walked to the bin themselves.  The rest was more difficult, but we did create some space by dumping some of the older bits and pieces.  Some space that could accommodate a couple of tubs of ice cream if only we had some.  If only we had a reason to got to the ice cream shop in Muirhead.  Scamp decided it would be good to go out to lunch and I decided to go to a tiny wee garden centre and cafe at Johnston Loch which is about two miles from the ice cream shop.  Sorted.

Lunch was a simple toastie, a panini and a couple of pots of tea.  Then we went to the ice cream shop for Toffee & Fudge for Scamp and Strawberries & Cream for me.

With the freezer replenished and the rain starting to get serious, we headed for home.  I went for a wet walk to St Mo’s and got the photo you see above.  Not brilliant, but given that it was taken at ISO 5000, it ain’t at all bad.

Spoke to JIC on the phone tonight and he asked for the blog to be up by 10pm.  Hope this is what the doctor ordered!

One last thing.  I know it’s after the 10pm curfew, but here goes.
I’ve become lax with sketching recently.  In an attempt to jolt myself back to inky fingers again I’ve started J’ Ink 17 J’ Ink 17 is short for June Ink 2017. A challenge to  myself to do at least one sketch, drawing, painting etc. a day for the month of June.’   This is day one.

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The May Is Oot – 19 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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Testing – 12 May 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Karma – 9 May 2017

It began last night when we were getting in to the car after leaving salsa, I asked Scamp if she had had her handbag with her when she went in, knowing that I had it under my jacket, because she had been too busy gossiping to pick it up when she left.  When she ran across the road I called her back and told her I had just put it in the boot of the car.  Almost total silence all the way home.  Later I apologised (of course) and the matter was forgotten.

Today we went to Linlithgow to get some fish for dinner and also to stock up the freezer.  After leaving the fishmongers we went for a coffee in a wee coffee shop across the road.  It was quite expensive and tasteless coffee, but  the chicken soup we had was excellent.  In general it was quite an expensive wee coffee shop where a panini was almost eight quid!  Eight quid for a long roll with cheese and a slice of ham?  I don’t think so.  We just had chicken soup and coffee, poor coffee.  There were painting for sale in the shop too, and they were as bad as the coffee, tasteless.  Anyway, we paid and left then went back to the car.  We’d almost reached it when I turned to Scamp and said “Camera Bag!”.  I handed her the shopping bag and hared off to the coffee shop.  Thankfully some kind soul had handed the bag in and we were reunited.  That’s Karma.

Sat for a while in the sun in the garden today.  The wind was westerly and milder than of late.  It had been cloudy in the morning, but by the time we were driving to Linlithgow, the sun was shining.  As I’m writing this, the sky is still blue with not a cloud to be seen.

However, you don’t get your 365 done by sitting around in the garden.  Well, you can, but sometimes you have to wander further afield if you want some decent photos.  Today’s decent photos were taken in St Mo’s in the late afternoon.  They are of Orange Tip butterflies – males.  Both genders have the underwing pattern, but only the males have the bright orange tips to their wings.  As usual, I started off a good distance away from them and grabbed a few shots, then moved closer. for another shot, then closer still.  What you have to avoid is your shadow covering the butterflies because they seem to be very sensitive to changes in light level.  It probably triggers their flight response.  The only way to get closeups with the ‘wee dog’ is to use extension tubes and that’s what produced both today’s shots.  Extension tubes with a zoom lens is a great tool for macro work.  I like it.

Scamp made a salad for dinner and it was delicious.  After going to Linlithgow, we didn’t use any of their fish, it went straight into the freezer.  I had about half an Arbroath Smokie in my salad and despite it having been in the freezer for about six months, it tasted perfectly fine.  Mind you, it was cured and smoked and frozen, so it should have been perfectly preserved!

Tomorrow, I’ve got the Dentist in the morning.  What we do afterwards hinges on that being a good meeting.

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Damsel Day – 6 May 2017

After yesterday’s peregrinations across the breadth of Scotland, we had decided to have a day at home.

While Scamp went out to search for provisions, I made myself a cup of coffee and sat on the front step in the sun.  While I was sitting, I spotted this week’s potential sketch.  It’s just the house across the road.  Nothing special about it, just a corner house with some trees in front and some scrubby bushes.  Sometimes you miss what’s right in front of your face.

After lunch we went our separate ways.  Scamp to cut the grass and plant out some alpines and me to cycle, hoping for a few damselflies to photograph.  It seemed such a lovely day, it was a shame to waste it sitting around on the step or even worse still, moping around the house.

With a couple of squirts of WD 40 on the bike we were ready for the off.  The outward leg was so very easy, I knew it was a bad sign.  It was a tailwind.  The wind was from the east and also stronger than it was in the morning.  That meant it would be a headwind on the way home.  However, after wandering around for a while without any signs of insect life, I caught a few shots of a hoverfly sitting on my bike jacket.  A nice little one, with bright yellow stripes.  Maybe someone on Flickr will ID it for me.  Then I saw a little red damsel.  The first I’ve seen in Scotland this year.  I saw some in Tobago in February, but that’s a different world.  Here we don’t usually see damsels until the end of May or the beginning of June.  Early May is very unusual.  Got a few shots of it, then started to plan them a bit better, trying to get at 90º to its long body to keep as much as possible in sharp focus.  Almost impossible with the extension tubes and the very narrow depth of field.  Still, got a few ‘keepers’.  Nice colour on the body and thorax.

As I predicted, the homeward leg was a struggle with a gusty eastern wind.  Bag was heavy too with a couple of rocks to create perches for the smaller birds in the birdbath.

Dinner was the second attempt at Spanish Rice (just as good as the first.)  While I was making it, Scamp was sunning herself with a Pimms for company in the back garden.  Yes, she did have her sun cream on.

Watched the BFG on Amazon Prime tonight.  Great escapist fun.

Tomorrow?  Probably dancing in the afternoon, the rest is up for grabs.

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Meeting Herr Kutz – 25 April 2017

Took the bus into Glasgow today, to meet Herr Kutz.  It’s been a long time since we met.  Too long, and so was the hair!

I risked using up the remainder of my data allowance and my battery life by listening to The Week’s Favourites on Spotify on the bus on the way in to Glasgow.  About the third of fourth track was a beautiful piece of piano playing and I thought I’d earmark it for Scamp.  Then the track changed to another piece by a different artist, but nowhere near as interesting.  I went back and searched for the piano music and found it was Piano Portraits by Rick Wakeman.  I listened to the rest of the album all the way in.

Still with Bluetooth earphones firmly plugged in I wandered round the *Toyshop* of John Lewis.  Not Lego and dollies but Panasonic and Lenovo.  Big Boys Toys.  Liked the look of a Panasonic TZ 60.  To give some perspective on that particular camera, I have an earlier model, a TZ 3.  I can hardly believe there has been 53 versions between the two!  An interesting camera the 60 because no only does it have an EVF 1, but it also produces RAW 2 files.  Interesting indeed.

The other toy was a neat little Lenovo 11” laptop which has a full size keyboard. The only thing wrong with my Linx 10 mini laptop is the equally mini keyboard, but maybe the Bluetooth keyboard I’m experimenting with will remove that particular problem.

After the retail therapy of the window shopping, it was time to meet Herr Kutz for a number 4 all over with a square neck.

After my haircut I walked down West Nile Street to Laboritorio Espresso for a quick Java.  It was only after I’d ordered my coffee and was taking my jacket off that I noticed the bloke across the room leaning against the wall and smiling at me.  It was an old adversary from the High School.  Steve and I crossed swords on many occasions, but today we were very pleasant to each other and sat and spoke for about half an hour.  Possible we both breathed a sigh of relief as we shook hands and went our separate ways, but a stranger wouldn’t have seen it.

I made one more window shopping stop and this one was unintended.  I stopped to look in the window of a computer repair shop in Bath Street and saw a MacBook Air in the window for about half the normal price.  I guessed it was a refurbished model, but went in to check.  It was indeed refurbished, but the spec was good even if it was a bit long in the tooth.  Now that’s a idea I hadn’t considered before.  Since my MBP which I’m writing this on is now over eight years old, I know the longevity of the Apple computers.  That said, I’m still wondering if I’m just buying someone else’s problems.

Back home I downloaded the Rick Wakeman album from iTunes and Scamp was as delighted as me with it.

Later I went to get a PoD.  That’s what you see above.  It’s the view from the Antonine Wall, the Roman equivalent of Trump’s wall.  It was built by  the Romans to keep the uncivilised heathens out.  I don’t know who the uncivilised heathens are in america.

Tomorrow I’ve got coffee booked with Val and Fred.


  1. Electronic View Finder as opposed to the rear LCD screen. 
  2. Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited.  They do, however give the purest image quality.