Embra – 1 August 2015


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe least said about today, the better. Went to Embra. Had lunch, came home. ‘NufP8010240-blog-213.jpg said. Saw this wee man standing in the rain just off Princes Street. He was stuck looking up at a Kelpies maquette. Thought he looked quite good with the raindrops. Also saw a couple of posers on penny farthings. Only in Embra!


Cycling away from home – 20 July 2015


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWell, today was the big test day for the bike carrier and it passed with flying colours.  More below. Not a long drive today, but enough to make sure the carrier carried! Drove to Auchinstarry and parked there and cycled along the Forth and Clyde canal to Kirkintilloch then back again via Dumbreck Marshes. On the way there, for the first time ever, I think, I saw the bascule bridge at Twechar working. It was raised to allow a longboat to pass through heading east.  Three or four motorists were standing looking a bit bemused as I was.  However, it was a good morning and a pleasant way to pass some time.  The canal towpath was quite quietOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA this morning, with only a few dog walkers and the occasional cyclist to block my way.  On the way back, I took the detour through Dumbreck Marshes and managed a shot of a soldier beetle.  I know it’s not really sharp, but it’s the expression on it’s face I like.  It’s like “Are you looking at me?”, but it’s hard to second guess a beetle as Christopher Robin will tell you.

Back to the carrier.  It’s a Saris Solo and as you can imagine from the name, it’s for only one bike.  Suits me fine as Scamp doesn’t cycle.  The other novel feature of the Solo is that it’s made from plastic. Surprisingly, it’s really quite strong with lots of reinforcing fins inside the structure.  Another innovation is that there are only four nylon bands that hold the rack on the car – two at the top and two at the bottom.  They seem to hold it securely to the boot but it will need a little more testing to give it a longer test on a longer drive.  So far, I’m impressed and willing to take it on that longer drive.  I’ll keep you posted.

Beer, the solution … 16 July 2015

It’s been a busy day, a very busy day. Up at 7.30am. Quick breakfast of tea and toast then out to the gym. Gym was hard work, but the pool was at a lovely temperature. Not too hot and not too cold. Goldilocks temperature in fact. After that I had a quick visit to Halfords to see if they had a cycle rack that would fit my car. They did, a Thule rack that cost £95. Not what I was looking for. I asked one of the passing salesmen if they had anything else. He pointed to a Halfords model (surprisingly) and said “That one will fit it and it’s a lot cheaper. I’m 110% certain it will fit”. I went home and checked online. It didn’t fit. However I did find an even cheaper one and ordered it online. It will be in the Cumbernauld branch by Saturday afternoon. If I’d wanted it delivered to the Falkirk branch, it would take until Tuesday?! Falkirk is about 20minutes away!

After a quick lunch, it was off to Linlithgow to get some good fresh fish, mince and … a bottle of whisky. In Tesco at Linlithgow, apparently they keep their whisky bottles in the back store and only display their boxes on the shelves. It’s a good way of stopping shoplifters, if a bit old fashioned these days. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, at least not at Tesco Linlithgow. When we got to the checkout, it took 15 minutes – the time it takes for three customers to pass through for someone to notice that we were waiting, take the box and go pick up the whisky. She admitted that she didn’t know where they kept the whisky. Thankfully she did find it and we returned shaking our heads. One of the customers who had been served while we waited said that it was probably a bit “too expensive for them”. It wasn’t that expensive. it wasn’t even a single malt! Maybe I should have bought some Buckfast instead.

Tonight, I spent the best part of an hour making a mushroom risotto to make arancini tomorrow.  It’s been a full day, so now it’s time for a cheap french beer.  All The Best!

Beer, the solution, now, what's the problem.  This algorithm applies to a single beer.  If more than two or three are required, then ... Beer is the problem.  Now what's the solution.
Beer, the solution, now, what’s the problem. This algorithm applies to a single beer. If more than two or three are required, then …
Beer is the problem. Now what’s the solution.

A Sunny Saturday – 30 May 2015

It’s Saturday and I’d decided I wanted to go to Stirling for a curry at the Indian Cottage. It used to be good and I had become addicted to the Chicken Tikka Chilli Boona, but they recently changed the menu. Gone is the CTCB also gone is Scamp’s Vegetable Dhansak. We had lunch there a few weeks ago and weren’t all that impressed, but decided to give it another go. Bad move. The lunch was much worse than before. This time we may be gone for good. This used to be one of the busiest curry shops in Stirling. If you weren’t there by 1.30pm you would have to queue for a seat. Now it’s half empty. Maybe that’s an indictment of the maxim “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Hey get me with ‘indictment’ and ‘maxim’, and this from the boy that didn’t get his O Grade English!

Got back early, and dissatisfied but at least it gave me time to go out cycling for a while. A chance to see if all that gym work was worth while. Headwind going out, as per normal and it was a struggle. So disappointed. For God’s sake, I’ve been going to the gym for two whole weeks now! That’s forty minutes not the cycling machine thing. Surely I would be fit by now? What did I pay my gym fees for if it doesn’t make me fit? Total waste of my time and money. I’m not a happy ‘gym bunny’. Anyway, the cycling is becoming a means to an end, not an end in itself. It’s a device for getting me to places to take photos, but the Kona is still a lovely bike. Much better than the heavy mountain bike with front suspension. It never ceases to amaze me how well it accelerates,even in a headwind.

On to the photos, and a warning to JIC and Hazy – There will be technospeak :

[Group 0]-P5302389_P5302397-9 images- blog-150.jpgI like these three trees and I’ve photographed them many times. Today I didn’t have a lens that covered them adequately, so I did the next best thing and shot nine frames with the Panasonic 45-200mm with the intention of stitching them later. This time I took the long route and used Autopano. It’s a bit more circuitous than just plain “merge to panorama in Photoshop” from Lightroom, but it does have the advantage of giving more control. I was impressed with the basic output, but tweaked the exposure in Lightroom to give a more interesting result. I’m pleased with it. That’s why it’s my photo of the day. 365/150

The next ones were just luckies. I saw them while tramping through the grass, thinking that I had to be very careful as I’d listened to a program on the radio yesterday about sheep ticks infecting people with Lyme disease. I’d got a tick bite about a year ago when we were in Skye and became ultra cautious, checking every day for the telltale ‘target mark’. Thankfully it never appeared, so it looks like I’m clear this time. Having said that, it pays to be cautious, and take these things seriously. With all my antics chasing deer with my camera, I forget that these wee beasties are attracted to deer as well as sheep and can make your life a misery. Anyway, no ticks were found today, but I almost missed the ladybird making its way down a grass stem and next to it a couple of Bonking Beetles, bonking. Yes, I know they are also called Soldier Beetles, but that’s not half as much fun. I liked the luminosity of the grass and the colour contrast with the insects. Both shots taken with the 45-200mm Panasonic lens with extension tubes to get the close up shot I wanted.

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A good day’s cycling and a tailwind to look forward to on the way home. Hooray!

Edited with Ecto.