Haircut a new laptop and a fish supper – 30 April 2021

The day started with an hour or so’s shopping at Tesco and ended with me just about swearing at Catalina.

Scamp wanted to get some stuff for tomorrow when we are hoping to go to a belated birthday Party. It’s Peter Wilson’s birthday. We’ve known him for a while because he and his wife are enthusiastic salsa dancers, and ballroom dancers and tango dancers. In fact they’re just enthusiastic dancers in any and every form it takes. I don’t know if they’ve done Soca yet, but I’m sure they’d excel at that too. We’ve been invited to a very special afternoon tea at their house. Because of Covid you can’t have a party in the house, so Gillian has divided the day up into three, two hour slots with two couples invited to each slot. That way there are only six people at any one time at the party, but it means he gets to see a dozen friends over the two days. Ingenious. We were shopping today because we needed a present for Peter, but also for Gillian because she had done all the organising.

Scamp was driving today and we were also dropping off two big bags of duvet covers and sheets into the Salvation Army collection bin. With the parcels delivered and sufficient bottles of alcoholic beverages for the couple we drove home. Last night we had had a long talk about a replacement laptop for my ageing MacBook Pro. I had thought about getting a PC, because they’re cheaper, but I like the Apple system and although they are expensive they last longer than a PC. I’d chosen the one that best fitted my needs (wants) and we’d agreed that it was probably worth paying the extra to get the Mac version rather than the PC. Long story short, I drove in to Glasgow when we got back to get the Mac if it was in stock at JL. Apple only seemed to have the widely criticised M1 chip. I wanted the tried and tested Intel i5 chipset. Drove to JL and sealed the deal, then went to get my hair cut. Best tenner I’ve spent in a long while. It only took the bloke about ten minutes top and it’s a lot neater than I can do.

When I came out, I noticed a ‘ghost sign’ across Bath Street. It was for William Brechin & Son. I grabbed the shot and it became PoD. I liked the idea that the flat above William Brechin’s shop, which had sold ‘spirits’ (quite apt for a ghost sign) was being used as a beautician’s and advertised Electrolysis and Nails. I wondered what he and his son would have made of that when they set up shop in 1903!

On the way back from the barbers, I picked up a plain brown box that concealed the normal white box holding the new MBP. When I phoned Scamp to tell her I was on the way home, she suggested we get a fish supper tonight for dinner. That suited me perfectly. I knew I’d suffer for it later, but it would taste like a Friday night when I was eating it.

It took a lot longer than I anticipated to get the MBP set up with all the extra security that’s onboard these days. Almost everything you do needs a confirmation six digit code sent to an iPhone I don’t have any more. Heavens, it even asked me to confirm my login pass to my old iPhone. Security gone mad. Finally I was finished and although it wasn’t quite as fast as the iMac, the flexibility Apple devices have with sharing files is impressive. Also all the apps I’d bought on the App Store were still available to download. Only one downside so far, Lightroom doesn’t work on Catalina. It’s not a deal breaker because I was intending leaving it behind anyway. Capture One can do most of what Lightroom can do and is a better photo processor.

Enough, you don’t want to know any more about my Apple Fanboy experience, I realise that. I’m happy with today’s purchase and that’s the end of it.

Tomorrow Scamp is getting her hair cut in the morning, but not a No 3 on the sides and a No 4 on top like I got. She has to look her best for the party tomorrow.

Chasing Butterflies – 29 April 2021

The butterflies almost won.

Scamp was off having coffee with Annette and I had intended to start a watercolour practise piece in preparation for Every Day in May, but then I though it would be a good idea to give some of the plants their freedom and planted out half a dozen peas and the same amount of kale. The peas were grown from last years peas, but the kale was bought as plug plants. With that done and a cup of coffee I started yesterday’s Sudoku. I was just getting to the sticking place with it when my Fitbit reminded me that I needed to get off my backside.

It was dry and the sun was shining, but I knew from my gardening that it wasn’t all that warm out there, and of course there was the risk of a wee April shower, so I dressed appropriately for a walk in St Mo’s.

A lot of the fruit trees in the park were beginning to show off their blossom and I took a few shots of them, then I went looking for damselflies to photograph, but there were none. It must be almost time for them to crawl up the reeds, shake off their shuck and fly away. However there were none today. Further into the woods there were a host of butterflies. This time of year, late April and early May is the time to catch the Orange Tip butterflies. That’s what I started chasing. However, every time I got near to one it would fly off, leaving me empty handed. Finally one landed on a dandelion flower and I did get the chance to shoot a few frames of it. It was one of them that made PoD. Lunch was beckoning and I headed home.

I hadn’t been in the house five minutes when the rain started battering on the window. That was lucky. I’m not usually as lucky. I’m usually just thinking about coming home as the first drops start falling. The first drops of a downpour.

Scamp arrived just after I’d finished lunch and I went off to go shopping in Tesco. I saw a good deal on true headphones and treated myself. It took me ages to get them paired to my phone. They paired right away to the tablet and to Scamp’s phone, but point blank refused to connect to mine. Then, suddenly they were working and at full volume. I think I’ve manage to get the better of them now and they are behaving quite well. Time will tell if they are as useful as I think they’ll be.

I’m still thinking about getting another MacBook Pro, because although I got the old MBP to run Mojave after a little tweak, it won’t run the new editing software, I’m guessing its because the processor in the MBP isn’t quite up to the task. I’ve seen what I’d like now and Scamp agrees with me, but I’m still not sure. I’ll sleep on it, at least for tonight.

With that in mind, I’m off to bed. No real plans for tomorrow, other than buying a bottle of something for a man who has everything. No JIC, it’s not you, although you do almost qualify!

A day in the Toon – 28 April 2021

We finally got to go into a shop that wasn’t M&S, Iceland or Tesco.

We drove in to Glasgow and walked around JL. Well, where else would we go as our first stop. Saw a lovely MacBook Pro 13”, i5 processor, 16GB memory and 512GB SSD storage. All for a mere £1,555! However I’d prefer the Space Grey version with 1TB storage for £1 short of Two Thousand Quid! I looked, smiled and walked away. I did look at reasonably priced used PCs, but that would be a backward step too far. I’ll buy a lottery ticket this weekend instead.

From there we walked down Bucky Street, staring in admiration at the tough nuts who were sitting outside a restaurant drinking champagne. It was 6ºc today, but they do say champagne should be served chilled! Apple were obviously doing good business with queues both sides of the door and two security staff keeping out the riff-raff. We walked on.

‘Every Day in May’ is about to start on Saturday and I treated myself to a box of watercolour tubes and a watercolour palette. When I came out of the art shop Scamp was waiting for me and she suggested we try to get a seat in Paesano for a first sit-down pizza this year. Surprisingly we got a seat right away and Scamp had her favourite No1 – Tomato sugo no garlic, oregano and rocket. As you can see she had to get a photograph of it on Facebook right away. I had a No 5 Prosciutto cotto (Italian cooked ham) with mushrooms, tomato sugo and mozzarella. No photograph! Just as filling and delicious as usual.

After an early lunch we walked down Miller Street to shake our heads in amazement at the folk queueing along Argyle Street and up Miller Street patiently waiting for a chance to enter the hallowed halls of Primark. I have never understood the attraction of Primark, although I did buy a baseball cap there a long time ago and it’s still wearable yet!

We walked back up Bucky Street and drove home. When we got in there was a Blue Envelope waiting for Scamp. That’s the envelope that gives you the date and place for your vaccination. This was Scamp’s second jag. The date was 3rd May, the time was 2.15pm, the place was East Kilbride!!! She went ballistic. It’s not often I’d describe her like that, but she was. We tried to go online to change the appointment to somewhere sensible, but there were no appointments available anywhere else … in the world, I think. Eventually we agreed that we’d just keep it at East Kilbride. Later in the afternoon I went through the whole shouting match again, this time with Fred who was also going to East Kilbride for his jag. He had found the same wasteland of “No Appointments” online, but he’d tried phoning. He got through to the appointment office and got a message “You have reached the vaccination appointment office. The mailbox is full. Goodbye.” This is the caring face of NHS Lanarkshire. I don’t know how you could get from Cumbersheugh to East Kilbride if you don’t have a car. You’d definitely have to take a flask and pieces!

PoD was a picture of Glasgow under a lovely cloudscape, taken from the JL bridge. It was an interesting, but at the same time disturbing visit to Glasgow. Interesting because it was good to see life beginning to return to normal, that much misused word. Disturbing because many of the shops are closed, some for good. Debenhams was the most disturbing because I’ve never been to Glasgow and not seen someone coming or going through those doors. The doors that are now locked. But nothing stays the same forever. Things will change. Places will open again. Someone, somewhere is planning right now to fill one of those empty spaces.

I’m writing this on my old MBP which seems to be happily running MacOS Mojave which it legally can’t do, but it does! That brings a smile to my face! Tomorrow, Scamp is hoping to go for coffee with Annette who has just returned from her first visit to her caravan this year. I may get started with those new paints.

We asked for rain – 27 April 2021

Today that rain was delivered.

The delivery took all day to complete, well at least I hope it’s complete although there could still be some of the smaller parcels of rain waiting to be dropped off in the next few days.

Scamp was off walking with Veronica again today. This time it was an anti-clockwise walk around Broadwood Loch. It was a bit wet, but that didn’t put off these hardy adventurers. While they were out I listened to a bloke telling me even more about catalogs in Capture One and then I cleared up some of the rats maze of cables that lie on the dining table to trap the unwary. They are now sorted into Micro USB, Mini USB and the catch-all, Assorted cables.

When Scamp returned we had lunch and afterwards she did the ironing and it was my turn to get wet. I took the Sony for a walk in the rain. Once round St Mo’s was enough today. By that time I had five photos and was wet through. Although, I did have my new leather boots on and my feet were dry for the first time this year on a rainy day.

I was thinking of retiring my old MacBook Pro. It’s twelve years old and beginning to fail. The card reader stopped working years ago, but plug in replacements are cheap to buy. It can’t be upgraded (legally) past OSX 11. The iMac is currently running MacOS 14 and there are another two levels available above that for newer machines like the iMac. I could do an illegal upgrade, and may yet do that, but you never know what little nasties you’re squirting into your system as a result. Finally, the touch pad is now beginning to fail and the second replacement battery is losing its power rapidly. I had a look to see what was available and was surprised to find there’s nothing anywhere in the Apple range that uses the tried and tested Intel chipset. Apple are only producing machines with their own M1 chipset. I read a few reviews from sensible sources and they were not at all complementary. Biggest problem seems to be that the machines run well with Apple apps, but less well, or not at all with the majority of commercial, non-Apple apps like Lightroom. I don’t want to go to a Microsoft machine, but maybe needs must … Difficult decisions.

Today’s PoD was a bunch of Cowslips growing in the wilderness (ie, the bit the council don’t cut and call a ’wildflower garden’) in St Mo’s. Thank goodness the Sony and its lens are weatherproof, which hopefully means waterproof too!

A half hour of dance practise tonight rubbed some more of the rough edges off the Waltz, Tango and Rumba and went some way to building the Bossa Nova too. We did finish off with a Salsa, but Oh my Goodness, the amount of stuff we’ve forgotten in just over a year! We need to get to some Sunday Socials once normality returns!

Tomorrow we may hasten that normality by taking a run in to Glasgow. Just to see if we can remember what shops look like!

Busy, Busy, Busy – 26 April 2021

Actually a fairly relaxing morning. Afternoon not so much.

In the morning I worked at the computer for a while. I wanted to see if I could handle the programming of the catalog for the new photo app. It looked remarkably easy in the tutorial, but, as with most ‘easy’ things, there were a few twists and turns on the way to success. However, after an hour or so’s work I think we have a more elastic, less restricting framework of a catalog. I still need to tweak some things and work out how to implement others. Let’s say it’s a work in progress and leave it there.

It was a dull day with the threat of rain. Actually the rain didn’t appear until late in the afternoon, but by then we were well into the biz. First to appear was the Tesco delivery and I must say we are getting into rhythm unpacking the crates and then distributing the contents to the various storage places around the house. Scamp wanted to clear out a cupboard next. It’s the one where we keep the extra duvets for visitors as well as the ones we use ourselves. Hard to believe that there are TOG 10 duvets in that cupboard. We usually restrict ourselves to a TOG 1 from late spring until early autumn, with a TOG 3 or 5 in the coldest winter weather. The heavier duvets were earmarked for the tip along with a bag of deflated pillows which were well past their use by date. In all three black bags full and a small bag of electrical odds and ends. I drove to the tip and dumped them.

Back home we were visited by the girl who encouraged us to stick a swab down our throat and up our nose. If we did it properly without choking or gagging too much we got to answer her questions which were carefully phrased so I didn’t have to admit to being in another house for 15mins. That was the visit to Val’s two weeks ago and she was only interesting in an hour long visit in the last seven days. I did tell the truth, but not the whole truth. With that done it was wander around for a while time before the next big visit.

The big visit was to Muirfield Centre near the Town Centre for my second anti-Covid vaccination. They really do have it very well organised now. No messing about. You go from one testing station to the next to a row of cubicles to ensure social distancing, then to the doctor or nurse who administers the jag. That when it went a bit wrong. I answered my name, DOB and postcode for the first time, elected to have my right shoulder punctured and then the doctor looked at the ampule bottle and said “Oh, this one’s a dud.” It was only part full, so he had to go and get another one. I was going to ask him if this was a common occurrence, but by that time it was all over and he was pulling up my shirt sleeve. All done.

You know that feeling you get in your jaw after you’ve been to the dentist and the anaesthetic is beginning to wear off. It’s a kind of dull not-an-ache feeling. I could feel that sensation just as I was driving out of the car park. Now the bloke who gave me my jag was wearing dentist’s scrubs and I don’t know if this was psychosomatic, but it was strange. Maybe something to do with the release of stress or something or maybe I’m just that kind of zoomer!

Back home, all done and dusted. Scamp had taken over the Monday dinner but kept it to pasta, the way it should be. It was Mac ’n’ Cheese. Lovely! Afterwards I did a quick walk round the garden for a suitable PoD and found the apple tree almost ready to flower after today’s rain. That would do nicely.

Tomorrow, Scamp is off walking with Veronica. I’m hoping to be experimenting more with Capture One or making fancy bread.


A day of two halves – 25 April 2021

The first part was the active half, the second was the relaxing part.

The active part was intended to be a walk along the Forth & Clyde canal from Auchinstarry to Twechar and then the return journey with a detour to Queenzieburn then by the railway walkway back to the car. However, both the parking places local to the walk were completely full. That’s one of the disadvantages of this glorious weather we’re enjoying lately. Everyone wants to be out in the fresh air, enjoying the sunshine. A quick reappraisal on the hoof suggested that Colzium Estate in Kilsyth might be an appropriate place for a shorter walk. So that’s what we did.

The parking at Colzium was fairly busy too, but we got parked quite easily. We walked a few of the paths we’d been on before and then found a couple of new ones. The entire estate is criss crossed with paths, some official, but most just short cuts through the trees. Although most of the flowers weren’t fully out yet, we did see some rhododendrons with buds almost ready to burst. Out near an old house in the north of the estate I found some beautiful moss fruiting bodies and they made PoD. We also watched Mrs Duck out with the weans for a swim round the old curling pond which is now almost completely overgrown. All in all we covered about two miles. About half of the distance we’d have managed if we’d gone along the canal, but some poor people have to work for a living and can only get out at weekends. We’re lucky enough to be able to go out anytime we want.

Back home it was the leftovers from yesterday’s curry for lunch and it tasted a lot better than it did last night. That’s often the way with a curry, though. After that we sat on the front step enjoying the sun and the relaxing half of the day. Scamp was reading and I was watching a YouTube video about building a catalog in Capture One and populating it. Sounds terribly dull, but I found out that the program may be a good replacement for the ageing Lightroom. Certainly worth considering.

There was no dance class tonight because only two couples, us included, were available. A good decision, really. It made a change to have a night off.

Tomorrow we are booked to have our next Covid survey and test. Can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I’ll put up with it. Tesco delivery is due too and then later I’ve got an appointment for my second jag. Busy day tomorrow. No time to enjoy the excitement of the shops opening for the first time since Christmas! There will be other days I’m sure.

Walking in the woods – 24 April 2021

The woodlands of Coatbridge. Not the first thing that springs to mind when I think of Coatbridge.

Coatbridge used to be a centre for heavy industry with a dirty old dilapidated canal running through it. Now it’s cleaned itself up quite a lot and most of that dirty old canal has been drained or filled in and where that failed, it’s been gentrified. We used to restrict ourselves to a wet walk around the pond whose name is really Lochend Loch. The path was really a conveyer belt with people in both directions, keeping left and stubbornly completing their exercise for the day. It was only recently we discovered the paths into and around the woodland that covers the majority of the park. The forests are a mixture of deciduous and coniferous trees and the paths are wide and winding. Some gentle climbs and some slightly more demanding. All easy walking, really. It’s difficult to get lost with the park being bounded by a railway line, a road and the pond, oops Loch. Wandered round today and chose a new path we hadn’t travelled on before and found a cricket ground. A cricket ground in Coatbridge! Who knew? The walk finished with an ice cream cone which seems to be becoming the icon of this spring’s warm days.

Back home I fashioned the remains of yesterday’s pizza into another shared pizza. It wasn’t quite as memorable as yesterday’s, but it filled a wee space. After that and after a cup of coffee, Scamp seemed determined to tidy things up an I got my shorts and boots on and went for a walk in the woods of St Mo’s. I’d tried a few shots of blossom and horse chestnut flowers in Drumpellier, but I reckoned there was better to be found in St Mo’s. Actually it was the blossom from Coatbridge that got PoD and a little mini tree got second place. None of the chestnut tree pictures got a sniff at the place on Flickr. Maybe once the candelabra flowers open up they will get their place in the sun and on Flickr.

Dinner tonight was a disappointing curry from Bombay Dreams. Pakora was only just warm and my Chicken Tikka Bhoona had too much ghee and too little flavour. Scamp’s seemed to be a bit better. Not their best offering.

Tomorrow may be the last of the warm spring days and we might go for another walk somewhere interesting and not too far away.


Another hot one on the way – 23 April 2021

Blue sky and sunshine at 8am. Looks like it’s going to be warm again.

It was warm. We drove down to have a wee natter with Isobel in the Village. Scamp had promised her an Astilbe plant. The plant simply wants to take over the entire garden, so it had to be cut back every few years. Strangely, Isobel didn’t have a piece of it in her garden, so good luck to her keeping it in its place. However, if anyone can do it Isobel can. We sat in her little sun trap at the side of her house and chatted away. Before we’d noticed, an hour had passed and it was time for us to go.

Back home, and after lunch, I made a pizza dough and left it to rise while we went for a walk in St Mo’s. One circuit of the pond was enough for Scamp today. She headed off to the shops after that and I went for another circuit. There wasn’t much to see today, but the hawthorn bushes were pushing out their flower buds, not opened yet, but it won’t be long. PoD went to some Cladonia. Sprouting up like upturned trumpets. There are alien landscapes all around us if we take the time to look and to wonder.

Walked down to meet Scamp and walked back up the road with her. Sat in the garden for a while and finished off my first book from Audible (What Abigail Did That Summer). It’s supposed to be a young adult book, but this old adult enjoyed it tremendously. It’s encouraged me to try another one. I think I’ve bought two, years ago, and never started them. I also have another one that was awful and it was probably that experience that put me off audiobooks.

The pizzas I made from the dough were among the best I’ve ever made. Light and fluffy base but not heavy in the middle. I don’t know how I did it, but the remains of the dough are in the fridge, so I just might make a pizza to share tomorrow. As well as finishing off the book in the garden, I also finished off two wee cans of beer (to keep Scamp company with her Pimms!) and then a glass of wine with my pizza. Later in the evening we both had a G ’n’ T. I’m beginning to feel the effects now and maybe it’s time to get to bed before my eyes close.

Hoping for another warm day tomorrow before the weather breaks and the rain comes on Sunday.


Almost shorts & tee shirt – 22 April 2021

Warmest day so far this year.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and got the lowdown on life down south. The big question of the day was “Has Joey and Jess’s baby arrived yet?” It hadn’t but there were lots of other things to talk about like having a fountain in your birdbath! That’s just showing off.

Drove out to Torwood garden centre for a look around and for grass fertiliser. Also if we just happened to find any interesting looking plants we’d maybe bring them home too. I got some curly kale plants which I much prefer to the black kale I grew last year and some cheap seed potatoes. We also got a couple of mint plants, a potted Ranunculus and the lawn feed.

Back home it was lunch time then we were out in the garden planting stuff. I planted the seed potatoes, or at least three tubers. Put the kale into the greenhouse to harden off while Scamp potted up the mint and dug out what was left of last years mint and repotted it to see if it would come. After that she stated that she was going to sit in the sun with a book. That’s when I decided it was time for a pair of shorts and a walk in the woods.

There wasn’t much to see for the ordinary punter, but if you’ve got a new toy to play with and a macro lens for it, there’s always an interesting subject or two. Today’s subject was a little fly blowing bubbles on a tree. I’ve seen photos of this activity before on various sites and wondered what was going on. It turns out that the fly cools itself by blowing out and sucking in the tiny water droplet. Why it needs to do that in Scotland, in April is beyond me. Granted, I was wearing shorts, but I had a thick hoodie on too. It wasn’t shorts and tee shirt time yet! The bubble blowing fly got PoD.

Scamp watered the garden, both front and back tonight and I’m sure the plants would feel better after that soaking. It also helped wash in the lawn feed and also the rose feed she’d put on the plants this morning. Quite the little gardening duo today.

Tomorrow we may go for a walk somewhere and maybe visit Isobel.

A day at the seaside – 21 April 2021

Off to Troon

Just as we were leaving, literally as we were going out the door, the phone rang. It was Isobel wanting a big strong man to tighten the inlet of her garden hose. No big strong men around, so I’d have to do it instead. Drove down to the village and tightened it up as far as it would go. She seemed delighted with the prompt service!

Drove on to the motorway at the Village and after navigating the lane closures in Glasgow we had an easy run down to Troon. Parked near the Ballast Bank which is a hill built as a breakwater with the ballast from ships sailing into the harbour. We climbed the Bank and got a good view of Arran from the top. Also from the top I got PoD which is a view looking over towards Ayr just south of Troon along the coast. From there we walked back into town and on along the beach to the place where the kite surfers usually park up. No kite surfers today. There was not enough wind and as a result, no waves. It must have been a neap tide because we had to walk a fair distance to find the sea. We did stand in the sea for a bit with our trainers on. Some folk were paddling, but not us, we didn’t want frostbite. The sun was warm and the sky was blue, but the breeze from the east was cool to say the least.

On the way back we had an ice cream cone each. It had warmed up by then and we were sheltered from the breeze. I was thinking about getting some chips to eat on the way back to the car, but the logistics didn’t work. If we ate the chips first, the ice cream would melt and if we ate the ice cream first, the chips would be cold. Best to leave the chips for another day.

Drove home via Morrisons supermarket because Scamp wanted brown sauce and Morrisons is the only place you can guarantee getting it. The drive home through Glasgow was easier than the drive down. Same restrictions, but less traffic, I think.

Scamp had bought two big thick slices of haddock in Morrisons and we had one of them cut into chunks as giant fish fingers for dinner. No chips or peas needed just fish fingers and an egg with beetroot. Lovely stuff.

I came home to find a blue NHS letter waiting for me. My appointment for the second jag is on Monday at Muirfield in Cumbersheugh. Thankfully it’s not a trek to Motherwell for it.

We just had some sad news tonight. Jamie Gallacher posted the news that George Brown, one of the old school Salsa dancers died yesterday. He was 80. He was a real character who was forever taking the mickey out of me. He danced Jive and Salsa too, sometimes mixing the two together. Its ages since I last saw him and Elsie, his girlfriend. A nice bloke.

No great plans for tomorrow. Maybe a trip to the garden centre. The weather looks as if it’s set fair.