Adding up the numbers – 15 January 2019

Highlight of the day was a visit to Falkirk.

First things first. Before we went our exciting trip, I fixed a dodgy wire on the plug that supplied electricity to the light in the loft and that allowed me to clear out some more junk. As a result, we had a place to store the Christmas decorations and that’s what we did. The decorations are now in their storage area and the spare room is a lot tidier.

Time to get ready to meet Andrew, the FA. Nothing to do with Football or Associations. Everything to do with numbers. The numbers were good. Some tweaks had been made and were explained, graphs were demystified and the bottom line was a very acceptable number. Andrew threw in his usual deliberate mispronunciations, today best one was Angela Meerkat, thrown into a serious discussion of global finances in such a deadpan way that you wondered “Did he really say that?”. It’s just one of his eccentricities, that and his shirts. Today’s flamboyant example was covered in large wine coloured roses. His prediction that the pound would rise tonight after the vote for/against Theresa May’s Brexit bill no matter what the result, has just been proven correct. An astute man with a wicked sense of humour. Always worth listening to.

A quick visit to Morrisons for essentials, but no strawberries and churros today. Real essentials, for a change. Then it was home. The headlights came on as we left Morrisons and it was just before 3pm. It was a dull, drizzly day, but the clouds were thinning as the light was disappearing. I decided to drop Scamp off and go for a quick drive down to Broadwood Loch to grab a shot or two. As it turned out it was nine shots, and the best one was what you see above. I liked the ball sitting on the great expanse of dirty concrete under a gloomy sky. The curved railings are due to the shot being taken with the Samyang fish eye lens.

When I got back, there was a message on the phone from Pest Control at NLC to check if we still had a problem and I told him we did have last night.  He then set out the steps the council would take with the council houses one either side of us and said that we would be advised what repairs needed done to our house.  No date was given for the examination, but I think sooner rather than later given the MSP’s email.  We’ll see.

So, Theresa has lost the vote by the biggest majority in history. Will it make any difference to the price of fish? Maybe, but we’ve got enough fish in the freezer to see us through for a week or two. Interesting times ahead.

Tomorrow we may be dancing in the afternoon if Michael is fit. He texted Scamp to say he has the flu. My heart goes out to him.

The “Rat Man”cometh – 11 January 2019

Today we were expecting the “Rat Man”to call and hoping he’d call early so we could go out to lunch. He didn’t, he came in the middle of the day and spoiled our plans.

So the “Rat Man”came and found that the trap he’d put down in the back garden had not been touched, which we both found a bit surprising because we’d had a few nights without any rodents. However, when he checked at No 36 he found that all the poison he’d put down was gone. Maybe we’ve found the source of the problem. He’d put the poison down in the loft there and he suspected the access route was through a hole in the flashing at their gable end. Since their loft is at the same level as our upstairs floor, it seems there may be access from No 36 to our ceiling void. I’ll need to check that. When he’d laid down some fresh poison next door he came round and explained that as there was nothing to find in our house he was signing us off. I suppose that’s logical, but I will miss him, because I got fed up typing “Rat Man” for the blog and I created a Keyboard Maestro shortcut which would type “Rat Man” for me if I typed R M! He said that he’d be back to check No 36 again next week, but he’d drop in to see what progress we’d had. As a leaving gift, he gave me a couple of blocks of poison on a wire trace that he encouraged me to lob up into the ceiling void and check it next week by pulling it out with the wire. I took it and removed the blanking plate then lobbed it like he suggested and then replaced the plate. Now we wait and see!

<Technospeak>
With the coast clear, I grabbed the Nikon and a couple of lenses and walked around St Mo’s for an hour. It was only when I came back that I realised the aperture had been set to f22, which is a tiny wee hole letting very little light through. The camera doesn’t want to use a really slow shutter speed, so it compensates by using a very high ISO speed. High ISO speeds mean lots of digital noise which used to be called ‘noise’. It gives lots of tiny little coloured dots on the photo, especially noticeable in areas of flat tone, like the sky and on still water. All my photos had those tiny little dots. Despite my processing you can still see them in the PoD. Disappointed.
</Technospeak>

Scamp gave me a fright when she came back early from Tesco saying the car was making a ‘funny noise’. I feared the worst, but it turned out she had accidentally run over a tube of plumber’s mastic and the goo had covered one of her tyres. As she was driving it was curing and coming off in strands, banging against the wheel arch and making the ‘funny noise’. No damage done and after we’d taken it for a test drive most of it had rubbed off the tyre. Breathe again.

Tomorrow we may go to Hamilton for a curry if the weather is decent.

Another beautiful day – 9 January 2019

Beautiful, but cold.

All the cars were frozen when we got up today, but we were determined to make the most of the beautiful day, so we got up and I went out to defrost the car. I’ve got a sort of love – hate relationship with the Juke. Somethings about it just irritate me. Some things I love. I’d like a car that has a heated front screen, but the Juke has the next best thing. Press the demise/defrost button and the blower starts going full blast and all of that blast is directed towards the windscreen and using the side jets, to the side windows. Wishing two or three minutes the screen and the side window are clear. It helped today that the sun was just creeping round to spread some heat on the top corner of the windscreen, but most of the work was done by that defrost button.

We drove east to Cramond, home to the giant toblerones and the nice wee cafe beside the River Almond. That was where we were headed, to the river walk. Unfortunately when we reached the cafe it was closed. It looked as if it had been closed for quite some time and there was an advert looking for kitchen staff. However, there were no kitchen staff in evidence, so we walked further up the river, past the ruins of the mill where today’s PoD came from and on until we reached the steps that lead up and over the cliffs and down the other side, then they go over another set of cliffs and down the other side of them. We decided that was too much of the up and over stuff, and postponed it until another (warmer) day.

Since it was now around midday, we were mindful of the fact that the sun would soon be dipping towards the horizon and also that a spot of lunch would be good. We knew of another cafe in the village and walked to that, but there was no room at this particular inn today. There was nothing for it but to grab a shot of the toblerones sparkling in the sunshine and looking good with the tide just starting to come in from a long way out, and go home.

Stopped at The Gyle shopping centre to go for lunch at Morrisons and to get some provisions too. Roll ’n’ Sausage for me, bowl of chips for Scamp and two coffees for just over six quid was a bargain. Then it was back in the Juke and home along the M8 for a change. And, for a change we made really good time on a road that’s almost always congested.

Spoke to Hazy for a while when we got home.  She had read yesterday’s blog to see what our plans were for today and time her call perfectly.  Good to catch up with all that’s going on “”, as Ray would say

Dinner was an old favourite, Mac & Cheese with extra bacon for me. Then it was time for Wednesday Salsa. I danced half of the 6.30 class and then the whole 7.30 class. Thoroughly enjoyed both. Coming home they were digging up the motorway or pretending to at least and we had to sit at every traffic light all the way from Charing Cross to Cumbernauld Road in Dennistoun. I didn’t count them, just harrumphed as the next one ahead turned from amber to red. Sometime’s you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not. Tonight was NOT!

Tomorrow it’s coffee with the boys. Adult entertainment. There may be strong language from the start as they say on the BBC.

So, this is Sunday, isn’t it? – 16 December 2018

Yes, it was Sunday, so why did it feel like Saturday?

Well, the simple answer is because Saturday felt like a Friday and therefore it was logical that Sunday would feel like Saturday. OK?

With that in mind, we set of on to visit Stirling, pretending that it was Saturday. One of the benefits of visiting Stirling on a Sunday is that there is no charge for parking. That saved us a whole £1.40! We walked to Waitrose and bought the whole shop, then packed it carefully into the Juke’s boot and drove home.

By the time we got home there was just enough light to allow me to go a walk over to St Mo’s to grab a few shots with “The Big Dog”, i.e. the Nikon. Low light means you need a bigger sensor to grab as many of those photons as possible without resorting to a higher ISO. Bigger sensors mean less digital noise, sometimes called grain. Smaller grains means smoother images. I could have put a <Technospeak> warning there, but I just thought some of you deserved a bit of a photographic education. So now you know that to get smoother gradations you need a lower ISO and if possible a bigger sensor. There, quote that and you’ll sound so much cleverer! Got the photos and took them home to look at more closely on the ‘puter.

Earlier in the day, even before we’d gone out to buy Waitrose, we’d spoke to Hazy who updated us on all the things going on down London way. It’s nice to know that other folk are suffering from dull weather too. It’s not just us.

After perusing today’s photos and settling on a PoD, a moody shot across the boardwalk at St Mo’s, I started to make the dinner which was a vegan Spag Bol. I’ve made it before but today’s effort seemed a bit bland. Too many mushrooms or too little salt? Not sure. Scamp said it was fine, so maybe just me.

Sat down to watch the final of The Apprentice. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will tell you that it was one of the girls! Halfway through JIC which was a godsend really as two hours of TA without a break is more of a marathon than Mo Farah could withstand. Spoke for half an hour or so and got up to date on all the things going on down Cambridge way.

Finally watched the end of the epic journey to be Sugar’s next business partner. Slightly less interesting than a boring F1 GP.

Tomorrow will probably be a Monday. Let’s hope it stays that way.

Perf – 30 October 2018

Today we were off to Perf. Gateway to the best coffee beans in Scotland, if not the world.

Drove up to Perf on a beautiful clear morning. That said, it became a bit cloudier as we travelled north. I’d come with gifts for the Perf folk. I donate my two bike carriers to the bike shop across the road from the car park. Neither of them fit either of our cars, and are now superfluous to our needs. They were just cluttering up the house and were going to be dumped, so if someone can get the benefit of them, all the better. I also took a load of computer books to the Oxfam shop in Perf. I’ve read them and used them well, but now I usually consult the InterWeb if I’m in need of information and besides, they were well out of date.

Next we had to decide what we were doing for lunch. Scamp had an Itison voucher for Cafe Tabou which is now under new ownership. We decided to give them a try and see if they’d kept up the excellent standard of the previous owners. For starter, Scamp had Roast Red Pepper Chick Pea Ragout with Tempura of Fish and I had Salad Du Chef.
For main she had Breaded Plaice Fillet with Chips(!) and I had French Black Pudding & Pork Belly. She was perfectly happy with her selection, I felt the main was a bit tasteless, although the caramelised apples and cider sauce was lovely. Worth another Itison voucher some time. When we came out the streets were just drying after a heavy rain shower and you could feel that there was still a bit of rain on the breeze.

After the lunch, we went for walk to get the coffee and tea that I so desperately needed. Then a walk along to the the viewing gallery over the River Tay. Beautiful light on the trees on the far bank and the sun was shining now on the bridge, so that became my PoD after it was de-fished (no fish were injured in the operation) and some work done on the levels. Samyang 7.5 is a really versatile lens.

With the river inspected, we headed back to the car and the drive home through some beautiful light with nowhere to stop and record it. We also passed through some heavy rain showers that had probably created that beautiful light on the hills.

Sat and sketched my teacup and two digestive biscuits for today’s Inktober sketch. Thirty sketches in and only one left to do tomorrow. Tomorrow as I’m sure you know by now is one of those busy days with two dancing classes and the driving to get there, there’s not much time for dawdling, so I already have a plan for tomorrow’s sketch. It will need a bit of preparation, part of which I have already done with the assistance of an Excel spreadsheet. Art and computing are not the easiest bedfellows, but hopefully one will help with the other if I have my way.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Anything else will just have to fit in with that!

Windy Willy – 23 October 2018

Windy Willy was whirling past the house this morning.

Willy went to bother some other folks in the afternoon, but has returned to blow on us this evening.

It was a day of eating out of the freezer, for no other reason than we’ve a lot of stuff in there that’s needing used up. Scamp chose a chunk of salmon and I chose a short rib. The salmon just needed defrosting, but the short rib needed a marinade to get to work on it once it had defrosted. I made my usual marinade. It’s got four basic ingredients:

  • An acid
  • A sugar
  • A salt
  • A flavouring

Today’s mix was

  • White wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar for the acid
  • A squirt of honey for the sugar
  • A shake of soy sauce for the salt
  • A spoonful of mustard for the flavour

You can make it using your own ingredients, but the basic Acid, Sugar, Salt, Flavouring mix works well. There’s probably a Phd Chemist who could explain why it works 😉 but I’m not really bothered, it just works for me.
I put the marinade into a poly bag, shook it a bit to make everything mix properly and then dumped the meat in it and left it to rest in the fridge for an hour. While I was waiting for the marinade to work its magic, I baked a pizza from a bit of dough I’d taken from the freezer with the meat. Pizza wasn’t startling, but it did for lunch. I’d also brought some dough from the freezer, so I baked that into a loaf. When it was done I fried the meat in some oil in the Le Creuse, added some chopped onion and a chopped pepper then put the lid on an put it in the oven and turned the gas down to gas 3. It worked away at that for an hour or so before I turned it down and added some water and a chopped carrot. Lots of work, but fairly easy work.

Scamp wasn’t for going out, so I went out for a walk along the Luggie and that’s where PoD came from. Slow shutter speed this time. No complicated Photoshop actions and scripts. Must look for a decent pair of boots. My usual boots have no grip in muddy clay and they’re beginning to leak. Also got Inktober 23 done. It wasn’t until I came home that I realised that I’d drawn the exact same sketch before.  Finally found it on Flickr.  It was drawn in July last year.

Hopefully, tomorrow we’ll be dancing if we can get past the closed streets because Hollywood is coming to Glasgow!

 

Doon the Luggie – 25 September 2018

A dull day, but I got a painting finished, a PoD and I made the dinner, so not that dull.

I started the painting in the morning while Scamp was out in a raiding party to Tesco. She went to the town centre store as she’d already bought Craigmarloch Tesco on Sunday. The painting was based on a photo from Flickr. Since it was a dull day and there was the likelihood of rain, I thought it would be best to work from a photo rather than from life. It took just over half an hour, including some tweaking of textures and adding an ink outline. Not bad I thought.

After lunch I toyed with the idea of going out to get some photos, but by the time I’d decided to go, it was raining. Not that it made much difference to me. I needed a PoD and that PoD was out there, in the rain. That’s the whole point of doing a PoD. It forces me to get off my backside and go out and grab a piece of the day, process it and post it. You take what the day gives you and you work with it. Yesterday it was all about the big picture, grand views. Today it would be about rain.

Drove down to the Cumbersheugh railway station and parked there. Then walked across the road and down through the trees to walk along the Luggie. It’s called the Luggie Water, but it’s really just a burn, a stream to English readers. It was flowing a bit higher than normal today and that’s what gave me the idea of a slow shutter speed shot of the wee waterfall. Out of six shots I took, only one didn’t have a hand, a foot or a bit of the gorilla pod in the frame. Honestly, these ultra wide lenses should come with a warning to check the viewfinder closely before you press the shutter button.

The final shot was what you see above and apart from a bit of cropping, was as it came out of the camera. It’s not often that happens, but this one did.

Dinner was Prawn and Courgette Spaghetti and was a bit of an experiment. Like most experiments, at least like most of my culinary experiments, it will need a bit of tweaking before I try it again. The lime dressing was too strong, the prawns were overdone but the courgette spaghetti was interesting enough to make again.

So a dull day weatherise. Drizzly rain for the most part, but an interesting day too. Got stuff done, that always helps. Tomorrow it’s dancin’!

Dancin’ and Meltin’ – 2 August 2018

Raindrops keep falling …

The garden was a wonderland this morning. The drizzle and smirr we had last night had resulted in lots of little beads of water on all the plants. I tried both macro lenses on them, but surprisingly, it was the little 30mm on the Oly that produced the PoD. Raindrops on a sweet pea. With a photo in the bag, next on the agenda was dancin’.

We left early, not knowing just how busy Glasgow would be with the start of the European Championships. Traffic was light, but we had to park two floors higher than usual in the carpark and that sort of told us that the town was indeed busy. Lots of guards round George Square, looking officious, scanning people and opening their bags. Yes, I know they have to be ultra careful these days, but this was the first real day and I think they just wanted to use those scanners! Some crap bands were belting out noise from the covered stage that had been set up in the square. People I’d never heard of, although that is no indication of their fame. At least the rain had held off.

We got down to the pub, which hosts the dance class, a bit early because of our early start.  The door was locked which is unusual. A class sounded as if it was in full swing though, the previous class is an advanced jive class, one man and loads of women. We decided we’d go for a walk round the block as we were a wee bit early. Arrived back just a bit before starting time and managed to get in because one of the barmen was coming out. Nobody was dancing, then the other two couples we share the class with started in on the waltz. That’s when we realised that the class was starting at 1pm, not 1.30 as usual. Oops, we were late! Soon got into the waltz and I almost mastered the turn for the second promenade. I think I would have mastered it if it wasn’t for the other two couples standing arguing right in the dancing line. Some people are so thoughtless. After we’ve finished our line, or more likely aborted it, we clear out of the dancing space, but these other couples don’t bother and walk right in front of you. One day soon there will be a collision and there will be no dash cam to record it.

After the waltz we had a short go at ballroom Tango. It’s about as much like Argentinian Tango as Ballroom Salsa is like Cuban. It was still difficult enough for me.
Then it was jive time and we were attempting to master the first six spins. Almost did it too with a little help from Scamp telling me what spin came next. Still a bit of practise needed there. The place by this time was melting. Sweat was dripping from all of us. I think they must have had the heating turned up.

Cup of coffee in Nero to cool down, then back home. Dinner was Aloo Saag from the Bosh book and although it is fiddly to make, it tastes very authentic. Best of all, there’s enough for tomorrow too.

That was about it. The rain that threatened all day finally arrived just about 4pm and outstayed its welcome. It’s becoming a bit of a pain now. Enough rain!  Go and play somewhere else. We’ll tell you when we need you again.

Tomorrow? Maybe the dreaded Decathlon at Braehead. Worse still, it may also include a visit to IKEA!

Barking Mad – 7 June 2018

It started out a bit cloudy today, but the sun soon burned that away.

We had nothing particular to do today and nowhere significant to go. Some days are like that, you can just relax. However, with a garden there’s little time to relax and soon we were shifting flower pots around and then we went to buy more. It seems that flower pots are like shoes, you can never have enough of them. I also suggested to Scamp that it might be a good idea to put a layer of chipped bark on the earth, especially in the pots. It acts as a deterrent to snails, discourages weed growth and helps retain moisture. So we came back with another pot and a bag of chipped bark. While Scamp did the re-potting, I helped out with the layer of bark. It certainly gives a good universal appearance to the pots and looks as if it will fulfil the other tasks too. Only time will tell.

After lunch I was encouraged to start the frame for the pea netting, so off I went to B&Q to get some wood. I used to have a regular supply of it, but alas and alack, I am no longer employed in that side of things 😉 so I had to buy some. I asked if I could borrow a saw to cut the timber to more manageable lengths but was told that service was no longer available because of H&S regulations. I suppose that’s true. Pity the trolley that kept giving me shocks in B&M this morning hadn’t been GS23’d or run past H&S. Scamp says it’s me that’s generating my own electricity and that it’s me that’s creating the sparks. Some folk say I’m a bright spark, but they’re lying.

Anyway, the 2.4m of timber fitted easily into the Juke and I dropped it off at home before going for a walk along the canal under a hot sun. Saw today’s PoD there and couldn’t resist it. It took a bit of processing in Lightroom then ON1 to get it the way I wanted it, after the camera overexposed it, but I liked the result.

Came home via Lidl to try out their supposedly excellent gin. It is excellent and to our taste test, better than the watery Aldi alternative. Maybe it’s just the different tonic.

Halfway through dinner (Paella) the rain came on, so we had to rush out to save the washing from drowning, or at least getting wet. It didn’t last long, it was really just a shower, but it did mean we didn’t have to water the garden tonight!

Tomorrow looks not as hot as today. I think it’s all going to get a bit tricky from here on in. I think I’m constructing a pea frame, so a bit cooler day will be good.

Up the Glen – 22 May 2018

Up fairly early for a Tuesday to speak to a man from Falkirk on the phone.

The man told us that we are doing all right and that’s what we wanted to hear. To celebrate we went out to lunch, but not before we had a word with Hazy and caught up with all the news from London, discussed plans, books and the disappointment of having to wait another few days before getting a new car. Their car, not ours. After the second phone call of the morning, we did go for lunch.

We drove to the cafe at Clachan of Campsie where I had the disappointment of discovering that the cafe no longer listed their Apple, Brie and Honey sandwich. We were told that it was because not enough people liked it. Why not? Have these people no taste? It’s an absolute find, a delight of a sandwich. To her credit, the waitress said she could make me one because she had all the ingredients, but I had already ordered a bacon, brie and cranberry toastie, so that had to do instead. I’ll just have to settle for my own, homemade ABH sandwich.

After lunch we walked up the path to Campsie Glen. I’m sure my dad took us there years ago. I’m also sure that the ‘us’ in question were Mum, Dad and Me, because it was before my brother was made, and I was quite wee. Probably not even ten. I remember getting a collapsible tumbler to go, because my dad said the water was so clear you could drink it. I’ve vague memories of the place, but nowhere we went today relived that memory. Maybe we had to go further up the glen than we managed today. We both had the wrong kind of shoes for the dodgier bits of the path. Maybe next time. Just think, from Larky you’d have to get a bus in to Glasgow that would take about an hour, then get another bus to Clachan of Campsie, another hour at least. What a lot of planning. You don’t realise the things your parents did for you or the sacrifices they made. Not until it’s too late.

Took some photos there of some water running over stones, but the water was so low they didn’t amount to much. Also got some photos of Wood Avens flowers, but they were just out of focus, so didn’t appear in today’s published shots. What did appear was a photo of our red and white aquilegia which became PoD. Scamp thought it was called Strawberry Sundae. I thought it was Strawberries and Cream. After checking the label on the pot, we found its name was Swan Red and White. I prefer either of our names.

That was our day in the countryside, again under blue skies and sun. I’ve been meaning to go to Campsie Glen for years and am glad I did go today. Just a shame it wasn’t as I remember it about sixty years ago. Maybe we just didn’t go far enough. Yes, that’s it, we need to go back.

Tomorrow it’s dancing in the afternoon and portraits at night. Another busy Wednesday.