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Another Good Day – 20 March 2018

And I quote:

“Tomorrow, if it works out as the weather man says, will be another good day with more sunshine, temperatures scraping under double digits and light winds again. Scamp wants to go into the garden. I might get my bike out.”

Well, it did turn out as the weather man said.
– It was another good day with sunshine.
– Temperatures in the sun were probably scraping the double digits.
– The winds were light
– Scamp did go into the garden
– I DID take my bike out

Scamp started clearing up the front garden in the morning, the back garden is still under permafrost. I cleared the snow off the back step, finding the mat in the process. I then attacked the ice with a spade, but gave up when I got to the stuff that was welded securely to the concrete and resorted to a chemical attack. Instead of Novichok, I used table salt which melted the ice really quickly. Meanwhile Scamp was trying to eradicate an influx of tiny white maggots from one of her containers. She eventually gave up, washed the offending plants and dumped the compost in the brown bin (garden waste). Then she tidied up the front of the window area to let the daffodils have some air and light. The garden looked so much better after that.

The coffee I’d ordered from the Bean Shop in Perth arrived just in time for lunch and after sampling some, I got dressed to go out on my bike. Glorious day if you were in the sun, quite cool in the shade. Cycled to the old tip and that’s where I got today’s PoD which is the Kirkintilloch Volcano. One day I will climb the Kirkintilloch Volcano and sit like this person did, just enjoying the view. There, that’s a challenge for this year.  I also got a photo of a newt.  Not great or crested, but a newt.  I’ve never seen one in St Mo’s and this is the first one I’ve seen for years.  Stood and watched the trains go by and listened to the silence, if you know what I mean.  It was simply wonderful to be out in the air without that cold wind dragging you down.  Maybe spring is just round the corner.  Glad I took advantage of today because the weatherwoman says it’s going to rain tomorrow. Worse still, Wunderground says it’s going to rain tomorrow and I trust Wunderground more than I trust the weatherwoman, Kawser Quamer.

Made chilli for dinner while Scamp had Rats which is her shorthand for Ratatouille.

Tomorrow is Dancing, Dancing, Dancing day we hope because we missed it last week.

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Just a Monday – 19 March 2018

Today was just a Monday.

After lunch Scamp went to collect some of the Gems ladies and reported that it was a lovely day.  I had been considering an afternoon at the gym, but it looked so good with blue skies, sunshine and light winds that I changed my mind and took the car out to Bishopbriggs to have a look at the Linx 12×64 2 ‘n’ 1 laptop.  Unfortunately in contradiction to their website, they didn’t have one.  Allegedly they had one in Coatbridge, but I wasn’t in the mood for a run out there and anyway, a walk would be much better, so that’s what I did.

I drove back to Cumbersheugh and parked down by the station then went for a walk along the Luggie Water which is where I got today’s PoD, a bunch of Snowdrops.  Thankfully most of the real show is going fast.  Warm breezes and some direct sunshine is doing the good work.  Got talking to a bloke walking an enormous Alsatian.  It started off with us complaining about  the state of the Luggie and the dearth of fish in it these days and finished with him telling me his life story.  Eventually I did manage to get away.  I felt kind of sorry for him because he just seemed to ramble on from one thing to another.  It was almost as if he had nobody to talk to and didn’t want to let you go.  Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I had to get home to make the dinner before we went out dancing.

Dinner on a Monday is pasta.  At my mum’s it was always mince ‘n’ tatties on a Monday.  Here it’s pasta.  Today, for a change, I thought I’d make a version of one of Scamp’s favourites, Spaghetti dello Chef which is spaghetti with vegetables and cheese.  Mine was spaghetti with onions, mushroons, tomatoes, peppers and capers.  Finished with parmesan shavings, fresh ground pepper, salt and extra virgin olive oil.  It was a success.

Salsa tonight was the usual chaos in the first class with lots of old moves and a few new ones.  Second class was equally chaotic with a few old moves and a few new ones.  Can’t remember the names of them all, but today’s new move was Stormtrooper 2.  We also went over Stormtrooper 1 and the one that’s still called ‘The New One’.  Apparently the cost of a block is going up for the first time in 10 years, from £35 to £40.  Nobody objected.  It’s still good value.

Tomorrow, if it works out as the weather man says, will be another good day with more sunshine, temperatures scraping under double digits and light winds again.  Scamp wants to go into  the garden.  I might get my bike out.

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Oh no! More snow – 18 March 2018

Looked out this morning and the snow was still falling.

The snow continued all day, it may still be falling, I haven’t the heart to check. It did put a bit of a dampener on the day. Having said that, it did tail off for a while in the afternoon, and tomorrow is supposed to be a bit warmer.

On Friday night, or to be more exact, Saturday morning when we got back from Larky, the kitchen fluorescent light wouldn’t work, so we suspect it needed a new tube. This morning I got the steps out, took the bulb out, cleaned the contacts and plugged it back in and it worked. Either a dirty contact was the problem or, more likely, the spider who usually maintains the light was dead. Its poor wee desiccated carcass was lying on the diffuser. It had had a hard life, poor thing.

With the light sorted, I started restoring my Linx to a previous incarnation. After a few false starts, I finally got it done and it has screwed up Windows Update, because there’s not enough room on the C:\ drive for it to download the latest update. Two fingers up to you Mr Windows 10! Now I just have to remember the sequence of operations to fool Lightroom into believing that the TZ70 is actually a TZ60. Don’t worry Scamp and JIC, I’m not going into details, it would be gobbledegook to you, and Hazy only speaks IOS now.

After lunch Scamp and I had a discussion and decided to make a final decision about the Sunday Social later in the afternoon. I went out for a walk around St Mo’s to get some last pictures of the snow before it disappears until December (ever hopeful). There weren’t many animal tracks to be seen. I did see some frog spawn in the ponds, but no sign of their creators. I was reading last year’s blog (You can too, there’s a link from this page if you’re reading on a tablet or a computer. Can’t remember how to access it on a phone) and read that the larch trees were pushing out their little ‘shaving brush’ needles, but there were none in evidence today. I won’t be sure that the bad weather is past until I see the larch trees showing some green and the deciduous trees showing some leaf. Trees know more than you think they do. Read ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ by Peter Wohlleben if you don’t believe me. This man knows a thing or two about trees.

When I came back, not exactly frozen because I had layer upon layer of clothes on, we made the decision to stay put today and leave the Sunday Social to the warmer weather that’s coming. You could see that neither of us really wanted to cancel, but it was the sensible thing to do and sometimes, just sometimes we are sensible.

Today’s PoD is the Cladonia shot on the right.

Hopefully everything will be better in the morning and the snow will be on its way to some other more deserving recipients. That will mean it will be a normal Monday with all that that entails.

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A cold day in the toon – 17 March 2018

Late getting up and moving this morning and there was just a hint of snow on the ground.

After last night, we decided to get the bus into Glasgow. Everybody else had decided that was the way to travel too. But the time we were coming out of Muirhead, the bus was full, especially full of weans. Scamp thought it was Dad Takes The Kids Out Day. I thought she was probably right.

Went to look for a holiday laptop in JL. Sorry JIC an Scamp, whizz on to the next paragraph.  Y’see the problem is I like using Lightroom 6 which will allow me to process the RAW files from all my cameras, but LR6 on a PC only works with Windows 64 bit. The little Linx tablet I use is great, but its version of Windows is 32 bit. For stress-free work, I need a small (11” ish) laptop that works in 64bit. I thought I’d found the ideal one in an HP Stream, but warning bells were ringing. I’d seen a lot of them for sale really cheap as refurbished models and although their spec mentioned that they used Windows 10 64bit, when I did some digging, I discovered that the big problem was that they only had 32GB of storage and now that Windows 10 automatically updates itself regularly, it fills up that 32GB really quickly with its update files. This slows the system down and even worse, the processor is a Celeron which is slow to begin with. Bah! Back to the start.

Ok, JIC and Scamp, you can take off the blindfold and the headphones and return to the blog.

After a coffee in Nero we walked down Bucky Street and along to Argyle Street. Scamp was going to M&S and I was going to Millers Art Shop I was looking for a new brush. Got one after paying more than I’d intended and Scamp added a few new holiday clothes to her Wishlist. We couldn’t decide were, or even if we were having lunch. It was so cold and there were flakes of snow blowing around and basically we had been out for an hour or so. The decision was made to just go home and order take-away tonight. Got to the bus station just as the bus started reversing, but the driver stopped and let us in. Thank you Mr Driver.

Back home we had a Golden Bowl dinner and watched TV before Scamp went to bed earlier than last night and I wrote up two days’ blog posts. PoD is called Behind Bars. It’s a shot of part of a panoramic painting on a building on Argyle Street through some scaffolding poles.

Tonight it’s snowing again. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow afternoon and we’ll get to Sunday Social. If not we’ll stay at home.

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To Darkest Larky – 16 March 2018

Tonight we were going to Darkest Larky to take June and Ian to meet Crawford & Nancy.

It was a dull, dismal, cold day. We decided to go out for lunch, a light lunch as we would be well fed tonight. We finally settled on The Smiddy out near Doune. Got a table easily enough and Scamp ordered Tomato soup. I fancied the Parmesan, Pancetta and Olive Quiche. Unfortunately, after taking the order, the waitress returned to say that the last piece of that quiche had just gone. Would I like the Highland Blue, Spinach and Tomato Quiche? I felt like saying “No, I’d like the Parmesan …”, but I foolishly agreed to the replacement. When it came it was a disappointingly mass-produced looking version that sat on the plate amid the mixed lettuce leaves and the sun dried tomatoes. The sun dried tomatoes were good. The rest was just as disappointing as it looked. I think The Smiddy is becoming the victim of their success. Scamp said her soup had a slightly ‘meaty’ taste to it, almost like there was marmite or something in it. We may give The Smiddy a rest for a while.

June and Ian arrived at night and we headed of for Larky. Crawford and Nancy proudly showed off their new kitchen and sun-room. It really, and I mean really made us both green with envy. Such a lovely space, and so spacious too. I know Crawford put a lot of work into it and it showed. June and Ian were so wrapped up in each other, I don’t think they took much notice.

Food and drink was just as good as it usually is except for the driver who had to make do with a Coke, thankfully a Full-Fat one. Conversation and jokes rattled about among us and it was good to see that Ian gave as good as he got. The only thing missing was a big black labrador that used to come and plonk itself down at June’s feet. Unfortunately it had gone the way of all flesh. It was a docile big soul.

Never really noticed the time until Scamp said we should be going. It was 11.45.

By the time we’d dropped everyone off it was 12.30am when we found a parking space right outside the door and came home. That’s why this blog was written on Saturday.

PoD was a grab shot of croci in the garden.

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Coffee – 15 March 2018

Today revolved around Coffee for both of us.

Scamp was out in the morning and that gave me time to test out my theories about removing the mechanical HDD from the Mac Book Pro. They didn’t work. Neither did the MBP when I tried to power it up. Put everything back, screwed the base back on, checked that it still powered up then left it for a while. Chose to clean the shower cabinet instead. Much easier, if messier. No mylar connections, just a week and a bit’s worth of dust and gunk.

I was just finishing when Scamp came in from her coffee outing. Sat down with a ‘real’ coffee, a bridie and today’s Sudoku which took almost an hour to solve. A level 2 puzzle. Level 4 is almost impossible without some considerable help from the sudoku app on my phone.

After that it was time to meet the auld guys in a freezing town centre. Automatic doors were the problem. Actually it wasn’t the automatic doors that were the real problem. Manually operated doors and punters with one brain cell was the real problem. They open the door so it locks open and walk in forgetting that an icy blast just blows in behind them. At least the automatic doors close automatically … after about 15 minutes. It gave us something else to complain about apart from Council Tax, Income Tax and The Snow. Other topics were Lucky Bastards Swanning Off On Holiday (i.e. me). Lucky Bastards Swanning Off For A Boozy Weekend (Val) and Drawing Homework (Fred). I’ve no sympathy for that last one. He was the one who signed up for a Life Drawing course. Not my problem that the tutor was off ill and sent out a bit of homework to keep them going. Worst of all the above was the cold. They really need to do something about the heating in that great barn of a place.

Came home via Tesco to get milk and bread (staples again). Bumped into Colin who had forgotten about today’s coffee and got berated by his wife for it.

Dinner tonight was sea bream with mashed potatoes, broccoli and asparagus. Cooked to absolute perfection. Scamp made it, not me!

More research for the removal of the HDD tonight and I think there may be some swearing tomorrow when I try to implement the change. I also took the photo at the top of the page. Flooers, never a good sign. It was that kind of day, cold and damp.

Tomorrow, after the swearing, will be better we hope!

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Going for the messages – 14 March 2018

Since snow is forecast for Friday, we though it would be prudent to go get some messages today.  Also, our ballroom class was cancelled for today because the other two couples were on holiday.

Drove to Morrison’s in Falkirk to get some messages, three Tesco bags full of messages … and wine … and beer. We weren’t allowed to drink any today because of the Four Dry Days embargo. Actually, it will probably be Five Dry Days this week if I’m driving on Friday, as is likely. Anyway, Morrison’s in Falkirk was the highlight of the day really.

After lunch I went for a walk to St Mo’s and got the above PoD shot there. They are Cladonia, a type of lichen. They seem to grow on nothing. Nutrient free boulders are a typical habitat. These wee things seem to survive on air alone. Wouldn’t do for me. Certainly not after lugging three shopping bags of messages out of the car.

Salsa tonight was a game of two halves. Jamie’s first class was oversubscribed in men, so I bit the bullet and helped the other class, which Shannon ‘taught’. I wouldn’t really call that teaching. Teaching is where you increase the knowledge of your students. I didn’t see any increase in the knowledge of any of the pupils. She didn’t teach anything new, except that the girls should flirt with the guys. Not my idea of a dance class. Neither is repeating the same moves ad nauseam. What they want to do is learn, something, Shannon. Repeating the same set of moves for an hour is not teaching them to dance.

The second class started out with too many guys too, but ended up even. It was much more fun. Jamie’s classes at all levels are always fun, even when he’s a bit grumpy, which he has been in the past. Even although this was a beginners class, it was fun to help with and people were smiling. That’s what teaching is about. If you can make a class laugh while they are learning, they will come back for more.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Val and Fred in the afternoon. Scamp is having coffee in the morning with Isobel. I doubt if either of us will be having Flat Blacks.

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Another early rise – 13 March 2018

Out for 9.30am today

Taking Scamp to her hospital appointment in Glasgow today. It was a bright morning, so, since it was a routing check-up, while she was in the hospital, I went for a walk to Glasgow Cathedral. That’s where I got today’s photo, more of which later. I knew I only had half an hour of ‘freedom’, so after getting some wide angle shots of the building, I sat down to draw it. Sketch it would be a better description. Bearing in mind the usefulness information from a book on sketching architecture I’d read last year, I dispensed with the details and got the important bit, the bit that interested me drawn first, then, still working roughly, added in the remainder of the building. With that down, I started adding details, again working from my centre of interest first. It’s amazing how time flies when you concentrate on something and it only seemed like a few minutes before my phone rang and it was time to meet up with the patient. Sketch was only half finished and that half was lacking sooo much detail. Not to worry, it was done. I’d drawn it with a child’s fountain pen that’s great to sketch with. I’ve learned that if you use the fountain pen upside down you can draw really fine lines with almost any nib. Great for construction lines. When you’re ready to add in the outlines, you simply turn the pen round to the normal writing position. So simple and so effective. Two pens in one.

Anyway, a photo or five in the bag and a sketch too. Not bad for half an hour’s work. Drove home and stopped at Costa in Robroyston for a coffee, or to be more precise, “a flat black is stronger and smoother than an Americano due to the coffee extraction process”. However, it still manages to taste like an Americano and cost a little more. In other words it’s a Flat Con. Once bitten …

Back home, Skyped with Hazy for a while and caught up on all  the news from her end.  Halfway through there was a helluva thump.  It sounded like a door being slammed and we thought it must have been somebody next door leaving in the huff.  It wasn’t until the Skype session was over and I looked out the window that I saw the pigeon on the front grass.  Poor wee thing had battered into the bedroom window.  Went to have a look, but it was obviously dead with a broken neck.  Bagged it and binned it.  I don’t like pigeons, but I felt sorry for it.  Now we’ve got a white ‘angel dusting’ on the bedroom window.

Scamp was out to lunch with a friend and I started to clean my coffee machine which was leaking rather than making. The reason was soon obvious, there were coffee grounds everywhere. After half an hour of scrubbing and re-assembly the coffee making process was back in full swing. Just wish I could find some way to prime it properly after cleaning. It takes ages to get rid of all the air bubbles in the system.

<boring stuff>
Next task was to process the photos. It should have been easy, but as usual it was anything but. I’d deliberately taken more than one shot of the cathedral because there were a lot of people milling around, even at that early hour. The trick to avoid that is to take a lot of shots, preferably with the camera on a tripod, mine was at home. Then you lump all the shots into Photoshop in a stack, get the prog to align them, then carefully erase the people in the top and sometimes the second top layers to reveal the building or scenery in the layers below. Sounds more complicated than it is. Then I noticed that the top of the steeple was missing from the photo, so another bit of cut ’n’ paste repaired that. Because I’d been using an ultra wide angle lens, everything was curved, so a bit more doodling on Photoshop and finally Lightroom sorted that out. It took less than five minutes to get the photos and about two hours to make the composite final image. It started out at 12MB and the composite was a whopping 720MB. Still, I got the image I wanted. All photographs are fake, remember that.
</boring stuff>

Dinner tonight was paella where I got to use the Pimenton Dulce from Fuerteventura. Happy!

Tomorrow the dance class in the afternoon is cancelled as the other two couples are on holiday this week, so we have the day to ourselves. Might have a practise session. Oh yes, and Scamp got the all-clear as we expected. Happy!!

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Zombies and three Halyzia 16-guttata – 11 March 2018

Up early and out to get milk and bread, the staples.

It was Mothers Day today and it just didn’t seem right for Scamp to make the breakfast. She’s not my mother, but she looks after me as if she is. That’s why I got up and drove to Tesco to get the milk and bread, and also a bunch of bananas, not flowers, bananas. You can’t put flowers on your breakfast Bran Flakes, don’t be silly. Tesco looked like a scene from a zombie apocalypse movie. Empty shelves everywhere. There was milk and bananas, but almost no other fruit.  [Thinks: Do zombies not eat bananas? ]  Now I know we’ve been away for a week and the snow has been bad here, but surely the Tesco lorries were getting through? I know Nicola Sturgeon was condemning the lorry drivers for clogging up the motorways with furniture lorries, but essentials like fruit and veg, that’s different. The apples and oranges should get through. Likewise the bread. My God, there was no plain loaves in the rack!! There were the thick cut loaves, but nobody eats them even if they’re were starving. Heavens, even zombies don’t eat them.

Came home made breakfast then sat down and typed up the last two days blog entries. Now we’re all up to date, I can relax. My reading public will not be on tenterhooks wondering if we got home, safely from our Week In A Warm Place.

That took me to about lunchtime and, as the sun was shining from a blue sky, after lunch I went to see if St Mo’s was still there and not under about three feet of snow still. I needn’t have worried, the swans were swimming, the birds were singing and the deer were out grazing, so I took the opportunity and snapped a few shots of them before they ran off. I also found my ladybird, the little orange one with the sixteen white spots (Halyzia 16-guttata), that I’ve been keeping an eye on since the beginning of the year. Except that it was no longer a solo ladybird, but a member of a trio. Three little vegetarian ladybirds clinging to the same tree. Two shots in the bag. Next shot was just of a pine cone with little tufts of moss growing from it. I liked it best, and it became PoD.

Dinner was a roast chicken from Tesco. At least there were plenty of them. Apparently zombies don’t like chickens, maybe chicken’s brains are too small to be worth eating. They (the zombies) do, however, like ice cream, because the freezers that are usually full of it were empty. There seemed to be no logic in the empty shelves. The ones you’d expect to be empty like the dairy aisle were full and the one’s that are more luxury items like ice cream had been pillaged. There’s just no accounting for folk.

That was about it apart from running the washing machine almost all day. Tomorrow I’ll probably put the cases away until the summer and, as it’s a Gems day, I’ll maybe go to the gym.

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Leaving on a jet plane – 10 March 2018

To take our minds off the inevitable, we went for a walk to the fort across from the hotel.

We don’t think it’s a real fort. Maybe there was a fort there some time ago, but it looks like this was built for the tourists. I’d seen people on top of it, but couldn’t find a way in. Then we walked round it and there was the stairway on the outside at the back. No handrail, just steps, so maybe it was a real fort after all. Anyway, it was a shame not to climb it, so I did. Not a great view from the top because it’s not such a big fort, but at least I’d done it.

By the time we got back to the hotel it was time to go and get a taxi to the airport. Taxi came quickly and we were right at the front of the queue waiting for the check-in. Through check-in, and through security with ease, that’s when the disaster struck. While we were in duty free, I realised I didn’t have my boarding card. Now I had to have had it to get through security, so somewhere between there and the duty free, I’d dropped it. Checked the carry-on bag three or four times, then Scamp checked it. Went down the stairs to security and told my sorry tale to one of the security guards who then took me to a senior security man. He must have heard this story hundreds of times in hundreds of languages. He immediately went to check the conveyer belts and there on the floor beneath one was my boarding card. Absolutely brilliant! I could have hugged him, but since he had an automatic pistol and a baton like a baseball bat on his belt, I just thanked him and shook his hand and babbled my thanks. We would go home after all!

When I got back to Scamp, she took the boarding card from me and told me I was too stupid to look after it. She’s probably right. She went off for a walk. I got my sketch book out and did a bit of de-stressing sketching. Not the best of sketches, but it kept my mind off what might have been.

It wasn’t too long a wait for the call to gate, but then a longer wait to actually be released on to the plane. Comfortable flight, watching Bugs Bunny cartoons. We’d ordered an in-flight meal and I chose Chicken Curry. Luckily, before I opened it, the word Mussels caught my eye. It appears the sauce for the CHICKEN curry is made with shellfish, especially Mussels! I explained that I take a severe allergic reaction to mussels and got it changed, but nobody had heard of mussels being used in a chicken curry sauce.
To make me feel better, Scamp bought me a new watch I’d seen two or three years ago on the Thomas Cook flight. It’s a ‘good’ watch, a Citizen Eco Drive. Nice clear analog face. A ‘toy of the rack’ to take my mind off two near misses 😉

Arrived in Glasgow to single digit temperatures and torrential rain, but no snow, thankfully, although there were piles of the dirty white stuff everywhere where it had been bulldozed off the roads.

Today’s PoD is from the plane just passing over Puerto del Rosario in Fuerteventura.

Tomorrow? Tomorrow is for returning to normal.