Coffee and Visitors’ Biscuits – 8 June 2021

It was the biscuits that swung it for me.

Isobel phoned this morning asking if we wanted to come down and visit today. She said we could have a cup of coffee and she’d bought Visitors’ biscuits. I didn’t know what visitors’ biscuits were, but I was fairly sure they weren’t Rich Teas or Digestives, so I was up for it, so was Scamp. She was on the phone to Annette about a certain caravan in St Andrews that would become vacant some time soon, so I agreed for her and said Scamp would phone her when the deal was done with Annette.

I had a couple of Aquilegia plants to pot up for Isobel, so I got started to that and we were almost ready to go. Just a quick cup of coffee first then we were off to the Village.

We had an entertaining hour or so with Isobel then she gave us a guided tour of her garden. She has a wealth of plants in her fairly small garden and takes no prisoners. If she thinks a plant if failing, it gets chucked out. I’m sure Scamp gets some of her gardening nous from Isobel. Oh yes, and the biscuits were Tunnocks Teacakes and very nice they were too!

On the way home we stopped at Tesco and came out with a shopping bag fairly clinking with our ‘groceries’. A bottle of gin, one of Pimms and one of Limoncello. All the bottles were reduced, so some money spent, but a fair amount saved too! We drove home.

Hazy phoned almost as we crossed the threshold of the house and we had a long chat. Lots of books discussed and yes, Hazy, The Hidden Palace is now on my wish list. I may even re-read the Gollem and the Djinni too, if I can remember how to read after all the Audible books!

Went for a walk in St Mo’s in the afternoon to give the ‘new’ Samyang 18mm lens a good test and it passed with flying colours. Every shot from macro, through middle distance to far distance was in focus. It’s such a pity that I had to shell out an extra £50 to buy the lens station that would allow me to upgrade the firmware. It’s just another case of a company expecting users to do their work for them and also having to pay for the privilege. The rush to get technology on the market ahead of rivals means that the tech itself goes on the shelf only part finished. It’s things like this that make me give up on some companies like Samyang. Yes, they are cheap, but yes, they are nasty too! Rant number 2 this week is over.

Dinner tonight was Butter Chicken, but for some reason this time the sauce was a bit acidic. It can only be down to the passata as that’s really the only thing that was changed since the last time. Next time I’ll just used blitzed tomatoes. Still makes a decent curry sauce, though.

PoD went to a bunch of clover flowers photographed with the updated Samyang 18mm.

No plans for tomorrow. It looks like being a wet morning.

 

 

A busy day – 7 June 2021

Scamp was off to meet her sister. I was head gardener for a while.

Lots of things I could have been doing, but I chose to put my free time to good use and scrubbed out the bird bath then refilled it. My chilli plants have been desperate for more space and some real compost, not the floor sweepings B&Q seem to think they can foist off as ‘peat free’. What is this sudden panic to make everything peat free? Crofters up north have been digging it up, drying it out and burning it in their fireplaces for centuries. Suddenly they are virtually criminals because apparently that peat has been storing carbon and saving the planet. It seems strange to me that all these activists use the same terms like “locking away the carbon”. It’s as if this new jargon explains everything, when in actual fact it’s more like The King’s New Clothes. Everyone seems afraid to ask them what that means in Topsy and Tim language. How does it lock it away? Where does the peat put the carbon? I think it’s all smoke and mirrors, but probably not peat smoke. Anyway, I used some general purpose compost which may or may not have peat in it and the chillies are probably better off in it than in the B&Q floor sweepings. Rant over. After that I soaked the plants in the bird bath, muddying the water and undoing all the good work I’d done there.

Before I started the gardening I’d made a pizza dough and left it to prove in the warm living room. When Scamp came home I’d just finished rolling and stretching some of the dough to a rough circle and put it into the proving oven (the grill that had been preheated for about five minutes) to puff up. It was just a simple tomato base with extra chopped up fresh tomatoes and some grated mozzarella on top. Baked for about fifteen minutes at gas 6 – that was just a reminder for me. It was very successful.

Next Scamp wanted to wash her car, but couldn’t reach the roof, so I did that and then gave it all a bit of a soapy wash while Scamp scrubbed off the sticky sugary stuff that drips from the trees in late spring. Then I set up the hose for her to wash it all off and started on my car. It made sense to just get it all done at the same time. Thank you Bobby Flavell for the use of your outside tap again.

With the cars sparkling in the sun, Scamp decided to water the garden. Easier to use our own water for that, so I fixed up the hose and let her get on with it while I went for a walk in St Mo’s. Not a lot of movement, but one little Common Blue damselfly sat and watched me while I carefully dragged my camera out of the bag and took its picture a few times.

After dinner the Amazon man dropped off a parcel I’d ordered last night. It was a Samyang Lens Station. Basically the 18mm lens I use on the Sony camera is crap at focusing. However, Samyang will sell you a piece of kit that connects your lens through the computer to their website where you can download a new firmware file that will improve the focusing. It’s a neat scam and it certainly works! Thankfully, so did the lens afterwards, because I’d read horror stories on websites to the effect that the software could wreck your lens. Maybe it could, but it only improved mine. I’ll do a field test tomorrow just to make sure.

Finally wrote to my brother. The last email I sent him was in March! So much going on? Not really, just bad time management on my part. Must get better organised.

The last thing to do on a busy day was to have a quick dance practise just to make sure that the muscle memory was working properly. It was, after a false start!

No plans for tomorrow. We’re waiting to see what the weather will be like.

An almost wasted day – 12 October 2020

Today was wet.

Not thumping down torrential wet, more a smirr that strengthened to a drizzle, then returned to a smirr again. Almost turned itself off to catch the unwary before continuing again as a slightly heavier drizzle. Look, just give us a soaking and be done with it, but no it was lazy rain.

I was struggling with the Sony website today. I have never seen such a convoluted piece of badly written HTML. Ok, Hazy I hear you, nobody uses HTML any more, but the coding on that site is horrendous. Captchas, don’t talk to me about Captchas. Those infuriating “Prove you’re not a robot” nine picture grids where you have to identify ‘crosswalks’. I live in Scotland you moron, we don’t have crosswalks. We don’t even have happywalks these days. Eventually got through the maze of crosswalks, bicycles, school buses and traffic lights, only to be told “There’s been a problem”. No kidding, a problem eh? On this magnificent piece of artistic code, there’s been a problem. The only reason I was there was to download a shitty app that didn’t work because it needed another piece of code that it wanted me to download after I’d signed into another webpage. What, and go through all that Captcha nonsense again? I think not. Sony I know none of your grunts are reading this, but you really need to employ humans to do your coding. The monkeys you have just now are simply messing you about.

There, that’s got that out of my system. By the time I’d given up on Sony and had lunch the clouds were lifting, literally, the clouds outside the window were lifting. I went out to buy some milk and got today’s PoD on the way back as the sun came out. It’s pretty good, but it would have been better if I’d remembered to set the ISO back to a reasonably 400 rather than the 6400 I’d been using for practise earlier. Still, it shows the power of a full frame sensor. Every year I promise myself I won’t shoot the golden leaves we get in autumn. Every year I give in to the temptation, and so it was this year. Low, warm coloured sun just lights everything up and I’m lost in it.

Sketch prompt today was ’Slippery’. I almost gave up and did my own thing, because I’m beginning to hate these vague prompts. Too airy fairy for me. However for another day I stuck to the script and drew a frog. They don’t come much more slippery than a frog, unless they’re an MP. I think I prefer frogs. You know where you are with a frog.

That was about it for today. Tomorrow I hope we’ll go out somewhere for a walk in the autumn sun and I’ll forget about Captchas and the ISO will be set to something sensible, maybe even Auto, and we can enjoy the light. Before that, I’m booked for coffee with Val.

Rain in all its forms – 30 July 2020

Today was wet, really wet, soaking wet in fact.

It was that typical Scottish summer day. Every form of rain you could imagine falling incessantly from the sky. It didn’t come as a surprise, we knew from the weather reports that today was going to be a washout, so we’d planned for it. We went for the messages!

We drove to Waitrose in Stirling in the morning. We needed shopping and there was no point in wasting the warm sunny day that had been promised for Friday, so we thought it made sense to use up Thursday wandering round Waitrose filling a trolley. When we got to the till I thought we’d actually managed to buy Waitrose. We nearly did.

Coming back, the rain was even worse and the spray thrown up by the cars was like diving through fog. I was amazed at the number of drivers who chose not to use lights. The ones who had no rear lights were bad enough, but it was the ones who didn’t even daytime running lights who were the worst. A grey car driving through heavy spray on a dull day without lights is almost invisible from front or rear. Rant over.

The rain continued into the afternoon and as I didn’t have a photo, I took a walk in the rain to see if I could find some moody raindrop pictures. Instead I found some Yarrow plants. One shot of them became PoD.

After dinner I settled down to paint a wee jam jar of lavender flowers. Scamp had cut them yesterday and I’d dropped them into an jam jar of water to stop them wilting. Today that jam jar and its flowers became the subject of a wee watercolour. It’s up on Instagram, but I’ll let you have a look at it here too. I’m quite pleased with it.

Tomorrow is forecast to be the best day of the week with predicted temperatures in the mid 20s here in the Central Belt. Down in London it’s going to be over 30º. Too hot for me! Hope you enjoy it Hazy and Neil-D. Hope the Cambridge pair have a more sensible temperature.

We may go for a walk somewhere if tomorrow is going to be Summer!

Mr Simon Roe – 10 February 2020

A man who doesn’t understand spoken English.

Took the bus into Epsom today. I must say that England, or at least Greater London does a great job at making public transport easy to access and cheap too. Admittedly, ours is even cheaper thanks to our Pensioners Ticket, but down in London they’ve had Oyster cards for years and we’re only getting them now. They’ve had pay by debit card for almost as long and we in Scotland have only had them since last year. It’s a connected travel system that just works.

So we reached a cold and dismal Epsom, but most places are cold and dismal on a Monday in February, even without the gales and the driving rain. We went for a coffee first as is our usual procedure and then we went to Waitrose to get the ingredients for tonight’s dinner. We got most of the stuff we needed, but couldn’t see any bacon. I stopped a ‘Partner’ wearing a suit, so not just a shelf filler and asked where I could find bacon. He pointed over to a stand and said “That’s the vegan area there.” No, I said, “Bacon”. Again he pointed and said that “That’s the vegan shelves.” I was beginning to think I was in the Burniston lift sketch. You must have seen it. “No,” I said, “B A C O N!” That’s when the sketch changed from Burniston to Monty Python. “You asked for Vegan. Bacon’s at the end of the line” he said. Oh, oh. Please don’t tell me what I said. Please don’t treat me like an idiot. I got as far as “Now listen ..” when he starts shouting “Don’t point your finger at me”. It’s a finger for heaven’s sake. It wasn’t loaded and anyway, the safety was on. At this point Scamp entered the argument and tried to calm things down with “He said Bacon, you weren’t listening.” I’ve not written the email to his manager yet. Mr Simon Roe, you may think you’ve had a bad Monday morning, but worse is yet to come!

It took me a while to calm down, but eventually I did. We paid for our ’messages’, had a walk down the main street and a spot of lunch in Nero, then waited for the next bus back to Hazel’s.  Epsom’s not my favourite place.  It’s really drab and dowdy.  I think it might be overshadowed by its famous racecourse.

Back home I took my bad temper out for a walk in the woods around the golf course at Chessington. There wasn’t much to see, but it was a pleasant enough walk in the windy woods. Still a bit windy here with occasional showers, but not nearly as bad as yesterday.  I got my PoD there.  It’s just a glove, but its title on Flickr is “They went that-away”.

SoD was a painting of canal boats at Auchinstarry.  I wasn’t all that pleased with it, partly because I was painting in artificial light and it’s always hard to judge colour in that lighting.  I think it’s a bit too orange, but it seems to be getting enough attention on FB, so who knows. The topic was Reflection.

Tomorrow we may go in to London again. This time we might get to the Tower and I’ll behave myself or else I’ll get kept in.

Talking to HAL 2000 – 19 September 2019

It was all going so swimmingly. A sure sign failure was on the horizon.

Got the train in to Glasgow today after Scamp gave me a run to the station. Got my hair cut and indulged in a bit of politician bashing with the political barber. Went to look at a possible new camera in Jessops and then in JL. That’s when the message came in and the day turned sour. Message from the health centre to phone about my results. Phoned the doc and had to endure the now annoying half a minute of condescension from one of the doctors, explaining how a good health centre works. Nothing like the one I was phoning. Finally got through and asked to check my results. Gave my name, address and DOB. A lot of grunting and things being bashed about on the other end of the line, eventually ending in:

“Was it blood results?”
Yes.
“Are you having them done here or at central?”
I’ve had them done. I got a message to phone about my results.
“Oh” <more bashing and phones ringing>
“You’ve to make an appointment with the practice nurse.”
OK, but what about my results?
“That’s why you have to make an appointment with the practice nurse”
Can’t you give me the results?
“I don’t have a medical background, I can’t give you details”
Can’t you give me the numbers then? <This is when the receptionist turned into HAL>
“I’m sorry, I’m afraid I can’t do that”
Hmmm
“I’m sorry, did I say something funny?” <Oh dear, that’s ‘light the blue touch paper and retire time. I felt like saying “Did you really say that?”>
So you want me to make an appointment. I’ll phone next week and do it.

Now that I think about it. I believe she didn’t actually have the results in front of her. That’s what all the banging was about, she was trying to find the results. Either that or she had found what she thought were the results, but there were big words on that bit of paper and she couldn’t read them. I ended the call there and walked away fuming.

Walked down Bucky Street, going over the conversation in my head. Did she really say that? Should I report that? Make a formal complaint? Nah. Just put it to the back of your head (nicely coiffed, by the way) and go for a walk, so that’s what I did.

Wandered around taking pictures and bought myself another, allegedly simple, pattern for another waistcoat. Took some photos down Bucky Street, Queen Street and the GOMA. Finally arrived at George Square to find that battle lines had been drawn. West side and all the pubs therein was commandeered by Feyenoord supporters. East side by equally noisy and steamin’ Rangers supporters, with about twenty police trying to keep the peace. Good luck with that. Took a few photos of that too and then got the bus home.

Ranted at Scamp when I got back and gave another version of the conversation to her. Than “Dug and Burst Ba’” (Can’t let it go, got to keep worrying it), phoned the surgery and got a different receptionist, a human who told me my PSA was fine and my sugar was a bit high, and I made the appointment with the nurse. All over in less than a minute. HAL 2000 must have left the building.

Last story of the day, and this one is interesting. Scamp found a thin silver ring when she was doing even more tidying this afternoon. She cleaned it up and I did some research on the Internet. It was made in Glasgow, Assayed in Edinburgh and dated around 1860. Probably belonged to either Scamp’s or my Great Grannie, or maybe even Great, Great Grannie. Just a wee ring sitting in a bowl. What stories could it tell? I photographed it with the macro lens. What would the lady who owned it think of me taking a photograph of it with a tiny little camera and looking at that photograph on an illuminated sheet of glass that can let me talk to people on the other side of the world?

Today’s PoD is the head of a dragonfly from a walk in St Mo’s this afternoon. Walking without a jacket too. Lovely warm day.

Tomorrow I go to the Hospital, basically, to pee into a bucket. No other plans.

Getting ready for the show – 29 August 2019

I thought all I had to do was stick a couple of photos in frames, but for the artist there’s always more things to do.

After talking to Hazy on the phone for half an hour or so and catching up with all the Wimbledon gossip, I was fairly sure I was ready to start the picture framing.
I was reusing old picture frames for my submissions to the flower show. The painting was all framed up yesterday, so today was the photos. Didn’t like the photos bare in the frames, so decided to cut a couple of mats to clean up the presentation. Those looking at the photos wouldn’t notice, but I would. Couldn’t find my mat cutter, couldn’t find a ruler, the Stanley knife was blunt. I just wasn’t prepared properly, sooo.

  • Clear a space.
  • Find the tools and get them organised.
  • Agree with myself on mat colours and then off we go.

Didn’t actually take that long once I was sorted. Happy with the results, it was time for lunch.

After lunch and under supervision by Scamp, I pressed the waistcoat using her fancy super-zoomer steam iron with the separate steam generator. Now I see why she bought it. It simply does an excellent job, and if I could get almost all the creases out of the fabric, then it must be good. Thanks Scamp!

After that it was off to Colin’s in torrential rain to get the photos, painting and handicraft (because there isn’t a separate category for Waistcoats made by a Man in the show), so I’ll be up against all the macrame, crochet and knitwear. Not that I’m competitive, like! Got some of Colin’s home grown tomatoes while I was there, then it was off to Tesco for some provisions.

Back home and Scamp was looking and sounding better. Maybe it’s the painkillers starting to work or maybe it’s the actual pain easing. It’s hard to tell after just a couple of days, but I’m happy it’s an improvement on yesterday.

I think I may be saying ‘Goodbye’ to the Linx laptops. Windows 10 is just taking all the joy out of them. Last night I was trying, and managing to download a large file from my NAS drive. When I checked on the progress I found the cheery message

”Lets get you back on track”

Windows 10 had halted the download to display this big blue message box informing me that it was about to re-install the update I’d removed before we went on holiday. It’s not meant to do that. It’s meant to return the OS to the previous (working) version, not the bloatware it had just installed. I give up. Because of the weird bootsector on the Linx, I can’t install Linux and be done with it, which would be the sensible solution in this situation. I’m stuck with this half-arsed, laughingly poor operating system. I’ll wipe the drive. Remove the micro SD card and sell the lump of plastic to someone who appreciates an OS that interrupts you every month or so to do what it pleases, not what you want.

PoD is a wee wet flower in St Mo’s this afternoon. Just missing the rain.

Tomorrow we may drive through the rain to Larky to visit Crawford & Nancy – in the morning.

Roundabout chaos – 23 August 2019

It was one of those days that promised a lot but failed to deliver

In the morning, it looked like it would brighten up and be a lovely day. Good wind to break up the clouds and just the hint of sunshine and blue sky now and again. However, it didn’t quite make it and it all degenerated into a dull, cloudy day.

It didn’t keep us in, not us. We were out and ready to buy a new strimmer cable and were driving merrily along past St Mo’s school when the traffic all jammed up. The lights had been switched on and they weren’t properly phased in. Confusing signals from the lights on the roundabout and drivers unsure of what was being asked of them brought the entire roundabout to a halt. Really and truly, in this day and age I’d have expected a computer model to have been built to check the traffic flow. Yes, it would have cost money, but so do six technicians wandering around with their chins on their hands, looking at the carnage on the roundabout and pretending they were thinking about it. What they were really doing was waiting for someone, anyone with a plan to tell them what they’d done wrong. Most of them were wearing brand new Hi Vis jackets, not a mark on them. These weren’t workies, these were managers, consultants and planners and all of them numpties. We managed to get through the mess and bought the strimmer cable then drove home. It was still the same when we drove round the roundabout a second time. Six numpties without a clue how to fix it. Oh dear.

We drove in to the new shops and this time we were buying!! Prices weren’t too bad. Haven’t checked the quality yet, but it’s another option for shopping and a competitor for Tesco can’t be a bad thing.

After lunch I went for a run and avoided the roundabout from hell. Drove over to Fannyside and got a few photos, but it’s just not the same as Venice or Dubrovnik, it’s just Fannyside. The best of a bad lot got PoD. On the way home, just for the fun of it, I drove round the roundabout which was doing what it says on the tin, making the traffic travel round it. Somebody, somewhere had found the solution. Ask a workie who would actually know what they were doing and get him to fix it.

Couldn’t be bothered going to the Balloon Festival tonight. No other reason, just couldn’t be bothered.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch somewhere nice.

At Sea – Lovely Jubbly – 9 August 2019

A sea day again.

At lunchtime we got to test out the skills of the new dance teachers. What could they teach us. They had big boots to fill. First off, they were English and had a totally different style. The bloke spoke very fast and gave the impression of being a bit nervous. The woman was much more self-assured and was obviously the brains of the operation. He did the talking, she did the thinking. They taught us the Social Foxtrot which we’d learned a long number of years ago and for some reason it had stuck in my mind. Something few dance steps do, so it was either memorable or simple! We didn’t go in the afternoon, already missing the dry humour of Stuart and Jane! Also the bloke’s constant repetition of “Lovely Jubbly” was becoming irritating.

Although there’s usually a lot to do on sea days, there’s not a lot to photograph. So, today’s PoD was a Royal Caribbean ship following us for a while.

Dinner was in the ‘council’ restaurant and although it was a ‘black tie’ affair with everyone dressed up, we had to wait for about half an hour for a table and then service was extra slow. Something is wrong with P&O. We think they have cut the staff and it’s beginning to cause problems. Lots of people are complaining about the time it takes to serve food. Lots of people are complaining about the difficulty in getting drinks in the bars, because waiter don’t seem to be interested in serving. Scamp thinks it’s linked to the drinks packages they sell. If they’ve sold a drinks package, the company already has your money in the bank, so they don’t need to work trying to sell you drinks. Makes sense. Also people are complaining about grumpy looking waiters and workers on the ship. If P&O are indeed cutting staff, then the remaining staff need to work longer hours for presumably the same wages. That leads to an unhappy workforce and an unhappy customer base. It’s a downward slope from there.

We danced for a while at night, but it wasn’t the same atmosphere and not the same music either. It sounded to me like midi tracks, or ‘Elevator Music’ as Scamp described it.

Never mind, tomorrow we’re in Dubrovnik.

Causing bother again – 10 May 2019

The day started well, and then it stalled at B&Q.

It was a lovely morning. Really too lovely to lie in bed, but that’s what we both did. That’s what happens when you’re stuck in a good book. You waste the best part of the day.

However we did eventually get going and of course Scamp was out sorting the garden again. Planning new layouts of plants, new colour schemes and sometimes, just new schemes. However, she did get a chance to use our new garden table as a potting table. So much more sensible than crouching down filling pots with compost. Better for the back. Then she was off to get her hair cut while I messed around on the computer looking at stuff, electric shavers and such.

After lunch she was stuck in the house because it was raining, really raining. I went off to The Fort to buy the electric shaver of my dreams. Not quite as posh as some people with their Series 9s with their cleaning modules. Mine would be a Series 5, but a big step up from the old blunt Series 4 I’ve had for about fifteen years, we think.

On the way back I spotted some beautiful light beginning to build, so I stopped and photographed it of course. Not on the motorway, but down a wee side road on the outskirts of Cumbersheugh. I didn’t have time to change lenses, because the light itself was changing rapidly, so instead I took three shots and intended to combine them into a panorama in ON1. I think it worked very well. I’m very impressed with that application.  Oh yes, and while I was there I saw the first swallow this year.  This is week 19.

Back home is where the bother started. The plug that came with the shaver didn’t fit our old shaver adaptor. No problem I managed to slide the contacts in until the shaver started charging. After dinner (Simple Fish Stew from yesterday) Scamp was going to the choir concert with Isobel and I’d volunteered to drive. After dropping her off, I went to B&Q to get an adaptor. Saw one for £1.50. Yes, that sounded right. No it wasn’t. Checkout girl said it was £2.65. Nope, I said, ticket says £1.50. Her supervisor said £2.65. Long story short. I went and checked, photographed said box of adaptors and the price ticket, but it made no difference. The supervisor wouldn’t believe the photo. The price was £2.65. The arrogance of that woman really got to me. Her mantra must be ‘The Customer Is Always Wrong’. I left without the adaptor. Have you ever tried writing a complaint to B&Q? There is nowhere on their website where such a thing is possible, believe me, I spent half an hour scrutinising the website, but they must be so perfect, nobody ever complains. Either that or they’ve hauled up the drawbridge, lowered the portcullis and are all running around with their fingers in their ears, saying “NOPE, NO COMPLAINTS HERE”. I did eventually get my complaint written and sent to somewhere in the system. We’ll see what happens next.

Today’s topic is A Door. My answer is the Bin Shed Door. It used to house the bins, but now we have four different types and different sizes of bins, there’s no room for all of them in the shed. Now it’s crammed full of gardening stuff, that’s why it’s firmly closed and the snib is down!  Not perfect, but I like the pot of Honeybells on the doorstep. That makes up for the rest of the painting.

Tomorrow we’re going to the funeral of Crawford’s brother. After that, the day will start.