Happy Birthday JIC – 16 August 2018

Today dawned bright and clear today on JIC’s birthday, but the weather app said rain later.

With the foregoing in mind, I thought I should get the Dewdrop out and get some more practise in slipping the shoes into the SPDs. I had an appointment with the physio at 1pm, so I decided that it would be an morning run while Scamp made some Blackcurrant Jam, with a pot destined for the local garden show.

The second, trial wasn’t quite as successful as the previous. The right shoe clipped in perfectly and consistently. The left was a hit and a miss. More adjustment needed there I think. It might have been a good idea to take an adjustment spanner with me, but for the second time, I forgot. With that said, the shoes felt secure once they had been fitted into the clips and the big success is that I didn’t fall off this time!

Back home, a quick shower and I was off to see the physio. I was sure he’d sign me off, but he applied his laser again, twice! Then he stabbed five needles into my knee and had the cheek to come back about fifteen minutes later and twiddle them around to bring me even more twinges. However, again he wants to leave me for a few weeks before he sees me again and agrees that it’s an ‘Improving Situation’. More cycling recommended in the meantime to strengthen my thigh muscles.  Found the predicted rain when I left the gym and went up to the town centre, but when I arrived home the streets were dry.

Scamp was going out tonight with Isobel to an organ recital and hymn singing in the Village church. I dropped her off at Isobel’s and drove back to feed the birds and hopefully listen to a radio 4 prog I’d recorded (about the Wigtown Bookseller, Hazy). I was just finishing the bird’s meal when my phone rang. It was Scamp to tell me that the concert was next week, not tonight and could I please come and pick her up. No hurry though, because she was having coffee with Isobel.

Drove down to see Isobel’s compact and bijou garden and admire the quality and quantity of plants she has in it. Also to be amazed by her knowledge of the names and varieties of the plants. Some people just have that ability to remember all those Latin names. I know a few, but only a few.

Well, at least I could have a drink when we got back so I had a well-deserved G ’n’ T for my troubles.

Today’s PoD is the leaves on a strawberry plant in the garden. Changing colour already.

Tomorrow? Well on the cycling trip this morning I noticed that there were a few brambles ready for picking, so if it’s dry tomorrow I may go and do that.

Another early rise – 14 August 2018

This time we were all up fairly early

Today our visitors were returning home, back down the long road south. It was a dull morning, but the ‘going home’ morning is always dull. After breakfast they packed the bags in the car and they were off, just five minutes after their predicted time. It must be a world record!

With the rest of the day to fill, we sat for a while listening to the thumps and bangs from the workmen next door installing a new boiler and complaining to anyone who would listen that this was the second one they’d done in two days. But work was waiting for us too. Scamp filled the washing machine and set it to grumble through the first of many loads. While she was hanging it out, I started to pick the peas which as JIC had predicted were beginning to grow hard. Hopefully we’ve got them just in time. Since there was little likelihood of the remainder of the few flowers that were left setting any pea pods, we cut the plants down, composted some and put the rest in the recycling bin. I freshened up the soil where they had grown and planted some more leeks. Remembering that I’d said I’d prune the roses round the back door after lunch.

Sat for a while on the back step watching the birds lining up to for their turn at the dire sourdough bread we bought in Stirling on Saturday. Although it’s called sourdough, it’s actually the yeast that’s supposed to be sour. That’s where those bakers made their mistake. Their bread was sour. Birds didn’t seem to mind and today’s PoD is of part of the queue waiting for their slice of the bread in the rain.

I started to prune the roses after lunch, but the rain got heavier, the clothes were brought in and hung to dry indoors and my loppers were put away for another day.

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying unsuccessfully to get an old Zip drive to spring into life. I now think it’s a dodgy power supply that’s causing the problem, but as it’s a bit of an antique now, I think it will soon be consigned, like the pea plants to the recycling bin.

A thoroughly miserable day, but we did have a quick practise of our Jive steps, so hopefully we’ll be up to the Seven Spins tomorrow. All Being Well.

Early one morning – 13 August 2018

Very early this morning, about 6.30am to be more precise.

Couldn’t sleep, so I did what I haven’t done for a long time, I got up, got dressed and went for a walk in St Mo’s. Sometimes it’s really lovely and other worldly in the early morning light. Today was one of those days. I thought it was dew that was lying on the plants, flowers and spider webs, oh yes, the spider webs. However it was just raindrops. Light fine smirr of raindrops everywhere. Took loads of photos, mainly macros and it was one of them. A tiny wee wet snail that took PoD. I also some shots of Mr Grey, still looking half asleep, standing like a statue on a rock in the pond. Later I got a few of him stalking and catching his breakfast. The speed he can flash that beak out to trap an unwary fish is quite surprising. Came home feeling a lot better, but now tired, and had breakfast with everyone else.

After breakfast I went up to the police station to make the statement about the accident. Lady there took all the details, watched the dash cam video and smiled at the bit where I swore. Then she told me I’d be contacted in a day or two by a police officer who would go over the information with me.

By the time I was coming home, it was raining and the visitors were preparing to go and visit David Marshall Lodge or DML as we’ve always called it. If the weather didn’t suit there, they had plan B which was to go in to Glasgow and visit the GOMA. As it turned out, plan B wasn’t needed because they’d had a fairly dry day and they went from DML to the Kelpies in Grangemouth. While they were out in the countryside, Scamp and I drove to Torwood Garden Centre to buy some leek plants to replace the Calabrese I’d dug up yesterday after cutting the last heads from them. We also got a bay tree to replace the one that suffered in the drought a month or so ago. Scamp liked the look of some fluffy looking daisies, so we got them too. Then we had lunch and drove home.

When the wanderers returned we went to Milano for dinner. Pizza Napolitana for me because I like it and because I couldn’t get a Neapolitan pizza in Napoli (Naples). We had a great night which culminated in a shocked look on Jamie’s face when a birthday cake was brought out and the staff all sang Happy Birthday … but it wasn’t for him! It was for a man at the next table. Jamie’s look of relief was a sight!!

Nobody was drinking much when we came home. Long day for the visitors tomorrow ‘cos they’re going home.

All I can say about today is “It’s not great” – 12 August 2018

A slight case of lack of concentration.

I offered to run the visitors to the train station to get the one-an-hour train to Embra. I was too busy talking and I took the wrong turning, or it could be that the Juke thought I was going to Auchinstarry, my usual turn-off at the roundabout. Anyway, for whatever reason I took turn-off three instead of turn-off four. I could have turned around after 100 metres or so, but decided to carry on and detour through Croy because we had plenty of time. Bad decision, because just after turning in to Croy, we got a ROAD CLOSED sign. Nothing for it but to do a 180º turn and head back to the roundabout and take the correct turning. Now the time was ticking away and if I didn’t get there on time it was an hour wait for the next train. Luckily I got there in time and the visitors got their train to Embra.

Came home, picked up Scamp and off we went to the station again. This time I took the correct exit from the roundabout and we headed off in the opposite direction to the visitors. To Glasgow to see the Men’s Road Race for the European Championships with the hope that the rain that had been falling since we woke up would stop. Got the train and walked out of the station into the deluge and grabbed some shots right away. Walked around the corner and caught some more action at a corner. Corners are always good for cycle action.

<Technospeak>
With some photos in the bag we walked down to Argyle Street because I wanted to change my ideas for more interesting photos. No longer fast shutter speeds and the inevitable high ISO on a dull, overcast day like today. I chose a slow shutter speed to balance a fairly small aperture in manual exposure mode and kept the ISO low as well. That gave me the basis of the PoD that is at the top. If all of the above mean nothing to you, then just see it as a way of getting that blurred effect. Used Lightroom and ON1 to accentuate the blur and saturation of the colours. I think it worked.
</Technospeak>

We walked through the Merchant City after that, but the rain was becoming heavier as we walked and we decided enough was enough. We went for coffee in the usual Queen Street Nero and then after a few more photos we crossed the road race circuit for the last time and went for the train home. Inevitably we just missed the train. On a Sunday there are only two trains an hour to Cumbersheugh, both leaving within 15 minutes of each other, leaving a gap of 45mins to the next pair. It was the second one we’d missed. I moaned about the stupidity of Scotrail’s timetabling all the way back to watch more cycling and laconic Scamp agreed “It’s not great”. That’s about as severe as Scamp’s comments get. We got one of the new extra-long electric trains back home.

JIC texted to say they were on the 5.30pm train from Embra and I drove down to collect them. This time I took the correct turn at the roundabout! On the way home some eejit in a silver Audi bumped into me at a roundabout and sped off without a second thought. Wee bump to the front wing and another scrape to paint over. Luckily the dash cam got a good record of the event. I’ve reported it to the polis, but I don’t see them doing anything about it. Nobody was hurt and no real damage done. Don’t think it’s worth claiming on my insurance as I’d end up paying more in excess and my premium would just increase next year. That’s just one of the joys of motoring today.

Tomorrow looks not as bad as today. The visitors may go in to Glasgow. I’ve got to go to fill in the forms for the polis. Oh joy of joys.

Waiting, waiting, waiting for the party to begin – 10 August 2018

JIC, Sim and Steffi were coming today. It’s a long drive for them and a long wait for us.

After a morning spend tidying up, Dysoning, dusting and generally making the place spick and span, we headed out in the rain to Kirkintilloch for lunch at Calders garden centre. Lunch was fine, better than a lot of places we’ve been to recently and afterwards we had a walk round the plants while the rain thumped down on the roof of the covered area. We also ventured out in the rain to rove further into the plant area. I was impressed with the way the place was set out, with very few single species arrays beside other single species arrays. Instead, most of the displays were of mixed plants, different colours, different textures and varying heights. Now that’s a refreshingly different way to show off plants. Not so good if you’re searching for a specific plant, but if you want to see what plants complement others, it’s a great idea. Unfortunately, we weren’t looking for plants today. I was looking for a new coarse rose for the watering can, specifically one that could be used to water in the nematodes I’d received in the post this morning. We found lots of ornaments, cards, books, scarves, mottos and pictures, none of which I would have in the house and none of which would be at all good for watering in the nematodes. That’s the big problem with garden centres. The outdoor part may have plenty of plants, but the indoor section is jammed full of tat!

Came home in sunshine, roseless. Then Scamp offered an old watering can with a fairly coarse plastic rose. I decided it might just do and if it didn’t, I could drill out a few of the holes with the power drill. I was right for once. It was almost coarse enough, but after drilling out most of the holes with a power drill, it was fine for the job. Or should that be coarse for the job? With the nematodes now burrowing deep into the soil to find some tasty vine weevil grubs, my work was done for the day.

After a cup of tea I grabbed my camera and went in search of some photos in St Mo’s. Found Mr Grey close enough to photograph, some ‘beasties’ and also some Rudbeckia flowering in the wild garden that volunteers planted a couple of years ago. The Rudbeckia won PoD, just like it did last year!!

Finally at about 7pm the visitors arrived and we spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking and talking. Just really catching up. Scamp spent a short time showing off our garden front and back and we admired the veg that JIC and Sim had brought with them.

Tomorrow they go to Stirling Castle and Wallace Monument and we may go to Embra.

Flânerie – 9 August 2018

Flânerie: Aimless strolling or lounging; idleness.

Sounds about right. I got the bus in to Glasgow and go to see a photography exhibition Steven Berkoff: Gorbals 1966. It was a really interesting exhibition. All monochrome prints of the Gorbals and from a time when I was just starting to take an interest in photography. Also from a time when I started work. There was a picture of one bloke walking past a bar with a wild head of hair. It could almost have been me. I’d never set foot in the Gorbals, and he looked a few years older than me, but it could almost have been me.

On my way down from the bus station, I took some shots of buildings and stuff that I found interesting. That’s what’s good about going in yourself. You have time to take what you like, reject what you don’t and you don’t feel that you’re holding anyone back. No need to go shopping if you don’t want to (I didn’t want to today). Most of the shots I took were buildings, but I did stray into the Merchant City Festival area on the way back and grabbed some photos of the goings on there. PoD went to the shiny glass building on Queen Street, or to be more accurate, the reflections of clouds on that building. Every time I see it, I see something different.

With a few photos in the bag and the inspiration of those old photos I got the bus back. While I was waiting this big loud english girl came along pushing a pram and with another one in tow. Then her dim looking partner brought another one along. She sat down and the inevitable phone came out. Then she started swearing at the phone about some “stupid fu$*in’ bitch” who had sent her an offensive message on Facebook and then immediately blocked her and how she couldn’t then tell her exactly what she thought of her. The noise level got really high and then the kids started crying, but she didn’t attempt to tone it down or pacify the kids. She just kept ranting on. Poor bloke, I thought. We’ve only got to put up with that for ten minutes, he’s got the rest of his life to face that. Luckily they stayed downstairs while I got upstairs and into the front seat so I could drive!

Scamp was working in the garden when I got home. We lifted the small pot of potatoes and only got 370g which was well down on the first lot. We think the problem was that the plants were too dry. Still, they tasted fine in Scamp’s Chicken with Rats and potatoes.

Tomorrow is to be much like today, dry and partly sunny. We may go out somewhere in the afternoon.

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.

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!

Another wet day – 1 August 2018

We shouldn’t complain, should we.

Another day that dawned fairly bright and fairly dry, but deteriorated gradually all through the morning and then in the afternoon started a steep decline.

In spite of the weather, or maybe because of it, I decided that today wasn’t going to be a macro day or a flower day. Every month I make a screensaver of the last month’s PoDs and when I previewed the July screensaver it appeared to be totally composed of those beastie and flowery photos. No mono. No landscapes, few cityscapes and no faces. That, I’m sure is what made me want to shoot a landscape (or two) today.

With that in mind, I drove up to Fannyside, intending to get some landscape shots in the dull weather, then the rain came on, but that might just add a bit of moodiness to the images, I thought. That’s when I saw the burned out van. Hmm. I’d fitted a wide angle lens to the Nikon and that van just screamed out for wide angle, moody sky and monochrome. Unfortunately, the sky was anything but moody. It was milk bottle white behind the van. Turn through 90º and the sky was a bit more interesting, so concentrate on getting a good shot of the van and then composite the sky in later. Not PS this time, but ON1. I’d seen it done the other night on a YouTube video. It wasn’t quite as easy as it appeared (is it ever?), but I managed it without the aid of Photoshop. Quite liked the finished effect.

By the time I was coming home the rain was ramping up, or thumping down if you prefer it. I don’t think that would have added anything to the photo. I liked it as it was. Nice to see some mono and landscape squirting out of Lightroom for a change.

I danced salsa for two hours tonight and enjoyed most of it. Especially because my knee wasn’t hurting as bad as last week. I think it may be on the mend, but the big test will be tomorrow. Horrendous traffic going in 24 minutes allegedly between Junction 13 and Charing Cross (normally 6 minutes). Although there was an accident after Junction 16, most of the holdup seemed to be folk travelling in to Glasgow to see the opening of the European Championships. I hope they weren’t expecting something like the Olympic Games. This is Glasgow. Two bottles of fizzy water and half a dozen sparklers, that’s all you’ll get. Anyway, we managed to slip into the moving part of the queue on the motorway without causing any problems and made Charing Cross in record time.

Tomorrow we’re dancing ballroom and jive or jive and ballroom, who knows at 1pm. Unless we get a text before then to ask if he can change it to 5.30am on Saturday. Don’t laugh, it’s well within the bounds of possibility.

Goodbye July – 31 July 2018

Not Flaming June, but Toasty July.

It’s certainly been a July to remember with temperatures into and above the mid twenties here in relatively cool Scotland. Hints of hosepipe bans and serious warnings of the dangers of the “Taps Aff” culture. When will we see your likes again?

After scanning Facebook and the InterWeb, we decided that the fish shop in Linlithgow was indeed still in business and had been closed the last time we went because they were on holiday. We were wrong. The shop was closed as we drove past unless they have changed their window display to soft furnishings to dissuade some customers and so avoid crowding out the shop. Disappointed, we drove as far as the Coop carpark, squeezed our way past the abandoned cars and went to Aldi instead. Came home and checked again on FB and on the InterWeb and although it does say that the shop is still there, it makes no mention of soft furnishings. Maybe it’s just a front.

After lunch Scamp started ‘sorting out’ another cupboard while I just mooched around. The weather had taken a down turn since the morning and it now looked like rain. My weather app said rain was likely at 2.15 and when Scamp took a break from her reorganisation at 2.25 she reported that it was indeed raining. Amazingly accurate, but ultimately disappointing. No cycling today.

Today’s PoD nearly never appeared. Sometimes I think I’m only taking photos to complete the 365 for that day. Sometimes that IS the case. That’s not the way photography should be. Maybe I need a break from it. Anyway, today’s PoD was one I’d been considering for a week or so. The ‘Spiny Alien’ is actually an early chestnut I found near the People’s Palace in Glasgow.
<Technospeak>
The photo was taken with my new macro lens and this lens doesn’t have enough depth of field (DOF) to cover both the chestnut and the minifig, so the best way to achieve the full depth is to take two photos. One focusing on the chestnut and the other focusing on the minifig. Then combine the two in Photoshop. Unfortunately it’s really difficult to get them both into the old version of PS I have. I was watching an ON1 video of a similar problem last week and used that method to fix this one. It worked perfectly mainly because the camera was firmly fixed on a tripod for both shots, so alignment wasn’t an issue. That pleased me.
</Technospeak>

Tomorrow we have no dancing in the afternoon, but we are still dancing at night. Unless Michael changes it again tomorrow morning. He’s already changed it from Friday to Thursday. Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow.