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Child Minding – 30 April 2017

We didn’t do much in the morning.  ND was at church and the weather wasn’t too good.  We all sat and talked for a while.  The PoD is of the dried up hollyhocks in Hazy’s front garden.

When ND returned, we got ready and went to Canute and Delia’s for lunch.  After being ‘welcomed’ the two chihuahuas, Basil and Molly, we sat down to the biggest lunch I’ve seen in a long time.  Potato Salad, Green Salad, Channa Daal, Chicken Curry, the list goes on and on.  Then there was pudding afterwards!  All the time we were being entertained by Marcie, Joey and Jess’s daughter.  Not two years old yet, but ruling the roost in the house.

Suitably fed and entertained, we left later in the afternoon and went back to the house.  Sat and watched StarWars VII and again marvelled at the CGI until we just accepted it as real.

This week’s sketch was actually done earlier in the week at the Old Naval College in Greenwich.  As with most sketches, it’s not quite true to life, but hopefully it gives the idea of the building and I liked the quality of the line.  The building did look good that day with the sun shining on it.  I’d like to draw it again, maybe if I had somewhere to sit!  Drawing while standing is sore on the back!
Back up north tomorrow.

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The three did feed the deer – 29 April 2017

We were supposed to be going to a market this morning, but the plans were changed and we went to Kingston instead.  Not a big problem for us as we both like that place by the Thames.

While ND and Hazy went off to look for shoes, Scamp and I wandered round the labyrinth (this weekend’s word) of shops and alleys, agreeing to meet the other two back at the car in a couple of hours time.  It was getting near that time when we exited one alleyway to find ND and Hazy at the end.  Serendipity.  Lunch was eaten in the open air at the market in the centre of the town.  Scamp had Chicken Biryani and I had Achari Chicken.  I also found an Italian food stall selling cannoli (not e to self – find a recipe) and bought some.  Unfortunately, Hazy has a severe egg allergy and can’t eat cannoli which have a lot of eggs in them.  We can.  We did.  Headed back home and let Hazy rest while we went to Richmond Park.  We went to see the deer, but not feed them, despite the title of today’s blog.  However when we got the parking place, we wandered round the Isabella Plantation, one of the fenced off gardens, instead.  It was a good choice for Scamp because the azaleas were in full bloom and a good choice for ND and I because of the variety of photo opportunities.  When we had ooh’d and ah’d our fill in the Isabella, we took a walk round the woods and chanced on a couple of herds of deer.  Unlike the St Mo’s deer, these creatures were quite happy to sit or stand around having their photos taken.  Our exertions deserved an ice cream cone each and then we went home taking the long route round the extensive park.

Dinner tonight was ND’s Spanish Rice with Chicken and Prawns – got that recipe.   Then we watched Fantastic Beasts, the Harry Potter spinoff.  I must admit, I was lost halfway through, but did enjoy the CGI.  After a while I began to believe what I was watching was real.

Tomorrow we are having a lazy day and going to Canute and Delia’s for lunch.

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Dancing on the ceiling–28 April 2017

M4284604_thumb[2]Today we walked to the station and with ND’s help, took the train from Chessington to Greenwich.  From there, we just followed our collective nose until we found a Costa for a seat, a coffee, something to eat and a chance to regroup to decide where we should go.  Initially we had intended going to find the ‘Meridian’, but after finding we were near the Cutty Sark, we chose instead to go and see it. 

The last time we had been to Greenwich we hadn’t seen the Naval College properly because they were filming something in it.  This time we did get to see it.  We were intrigued by the possibility of seeing the ceiling of the college which apparently was very interesting.  When we got to the Naval College we found the place completely covered from floor to ceiling in scaffolding.  Oh, oh it looked like we weren’t going to see that remarkable ceiling with its artwork.  However, on checking with one of the guides, we discovered that you could get to see the ceiling, not only that, but you could see it from close range, almost close enough to touch, except you weren’t allowed to touch.  We both quickly agreed that we’d risk the ascent of the scaffolding with a guide of course and go see that ceiling.  First we were kitted out with a tabard (ours was the green group) and a hard hat to match.  Remarkably, this is the first time I’ve worn a hard hat since I was an apprentice draughtsman way back in the mid ‘60s.  We then had a talk about the hidden meanings in the enormous mural in the far wall before we made the climb.

The mural was impressive, but nowhere near as impressive as the painting covering the entire ceiling of the hall.  As promised, it was close enough to touch at a stretch.  I didn’t stretch.  Again, the hidden meanings of the painting were revealed as we walked along the ‘floor’.  To prevent damage to the artworks, the lighting was quite low and of course we weren’t allowed to use flash, not that I would.  We could have opted for radio headphones, but I’m glad we didn’t because our guide was so knowledgeable and able to answer questions, something you don’t get with a recording.  All in all, a brilliant afternoon and one I’d recommend to anyone visiting London.

By the time we came out, it was time to head for home, but not before we had a spot of lunch in the market.  I had pakora and channa daal.  Scamp headed for the slightly sweeter churros stall.  A bit out of character, but still food and from an independent retailer, and that’s how we work.

Got the train back to Chessington and walked back to the house, although we did stop for a beer and a G&T at the pub, because it was there!

Neil was out tonight, Scamp, Hazy and I sat and watched a film while eating pizza.  What else do you expect on a Friday night.

Tomorrow, ND is taking us to a market, I think.

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Train Talk – 27 April 2017

Footered around in the morning and packed our bags.  Got the bus to Glasgow and onward on the airport bus to the airport – obviously!  Got through all the technicalities and security then went for a late lunch which was a Fish Finger Sandwich and chips (shared) beer for me and a glass of red for Scamp.  All of this was done under a blue sky with fluffy white clouds.  Footered about again and then on the plane and off slightly earlier than expected into that blue sky and through the fluffy white clouds.

An hour later and we were on approach to Heathrow and there was rain streaking the windows and the clouds were grey.  This wasn’t what we had ordered.  We were expecting sunshine!  We were promised jetpacks!  Theresa had said it would be sunny, although Nick the Chick had warned us that if we went to england it would rain.  Stay in Sunny Scotland she’d said.  I wish we had listened to her now.  Never mind, we caught the little monorail to the South Terminal and from there got the train to Clapham and that’s where the Train Talk started.  It came from an opinionated teenager who apparently could have been a nuclear physicist and also a Nobel Prize winning biologist, but she had foregone all that to concentrate on sexual politics.   I was amazed to find that there weren’t just Ls and Bs and Gs and Ts, but there were also Polys, although that might have been Pollys, it wasn’t all that clear.  Also, you could get wristband and bracelets to denote which you were.  She described herself as like ‘Sadness’ “because I’m short and round.”  So, not just fat then?  All this information came in an almost no-stop flow of consciousness with the occasional interjection from one of her two train companions when they woke up.  The interjections also gave her time to breath.  Thankfully, we soon arrived at Clapham and she went further on her merry way and we went ours.

ND met us at the station and we were soon at the house.  Dinner was chicken salad and it was well received.  Fairly early to bed tonight, because it had been a long day.  I think Ms LGBTP will still be talking and talking and talking!

Probably Greenwich tomorrow.

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Coffee (and tea) – 26 April 2017

Lazed around this morning and watched another episode of Lucifer.  Not quite as funny as the first, but still amazed that americans can actually get this amount of satire, sarcasm and deadpan humour.  Series 1 is shaping up nicely.  I know it’s on to Series 3 now, but I’m a late convert to the show.

After that, it was up to Costa to meet up with Fred and Val.  After the normal exchange of music merchandise we proceeded to lay out in detail the Auld Guys Rules for Brexit, the proof that Maggie Thatcher has been reincarnated as Theresa May and why Jeremy Corbyn is a diddy.  Britain sorted over two cortados and a pot of tea.

Next on today’s agenda was booking the Scampmobile in for MOT, followed by a long chat with the garage owner who just wanted an excuse to get away from the paperwork, I realise that.  Also I don’t blame him, I used to do that too.

Before dinner, I had time for a walk over to St Mo’s to see what was doing.  The answer was very little.  Not a lot of decent light, but the ‘big dog’ did a good job with what was left.  The result you see above.

Went in to STUC early tonight, not to see Jeremy the Diddy, but to help out with Jamie Gal’s beginners salsa class.  Had a great time in both that class and the advanced class, succeeding in boosting today’s step count to almost 10,000.  This new Fitbit is much more comfortable and also much neater than the Goji Go.  Ok, it costs a lot more, but it was certainly worth it. You get what you pay for.

Tomorrow?  A bit of gentle painting in the morning and if I’m awake early enough, I may even go out and get some photos in the early morning light.

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Meeting Herr Kutz – 25 April 2017

Took the bus into Glasgow today, to meet Herr Kutz.  It’s been a long time since we met.  Too long, and so was the hair!

I risked using up the remainder of my data allowance and my battery life by listening to The Week’s Favourites on Spotify on the bus on the way in to Glasgow.  About the third of fourth track was a beautiful piece of piano playing and I thought I’d earmark it for Scamp.  Then the track changed to another piece by a different artist, but nowhere near as interesting.  I went back and searched for the piano music and found it was Piano Portraits by Rick Wakeman.  I listened to the rest of the album all the way in.

Still with Bluetooth earphones firmly plugged in I wandered round the *Toyshop* of John Lewis.  Not Lego and dollies but Panasonic and Lenovo.  Big Boys Toys.  Liked the look of a Panasonic TZ 60.  To give some perspective on that particular camera, I have an earlier model, a TZ 3.  I can hardly believe there has been 53 versions between the two!  An interesting camera the 60 because no only does it have an EVF 1, but it also produces RAW 2 files.  Interesting indeed.

The other toy was a neat little Lenovo 11” laptop which has a full size keyboard. The only thing wrong with my Linx 10 mini laptop is the equally mini keyboard, but maybe the Bluetooth keyboard I’m experimenting with will remove that particular problem.

After the retail therapy of the window shopping, it was time to meet Herr Kutz for a number 4 all over with a square neck.

After my haircut I walked down West Nile Street to Laboritorio Espresso for a quick Java.  It was only after I’d ordered my coffee and was taking my jacket off that I noticed the bloke across the room leaning against the wall and smiling at me.  It was an old adversary from the High School.  Steve and I crossed swords on many occasions, but today we were very pleasant to each other and sat and spoke for about half an hour.  Possible we both breathed a sigh of relief as we shook hands and went our separate ways, but a stranger wouldn’t have seen it.

I made one more window shopping stop and this one was unintended.  I stopped to look in the window of a computer repair shop in Bath Street and saw a MacBook Air in the window for about half the normal price.  I guessed it was a refurbished model, but went in to check.  It was indeed refurbished, but the spec was good even if it was a bit long in the tooth.  Now that’s a idea I hadn’t considered before.  Since my MBP which I’m writing this on is now over eight years old, I know the longevity of the Apple computers.  That said, I’m still wondering if I’m just buying someone else’s problems.

Back home I downloaded the Rick Wakeman album from iTunes and Scamp was as delighted as me with it.

Later I went to get a PoD.  That’s what you see above.  It’s the view from the Antonine Wall, the Roman equivalent of Trump’s wall.  It was built by  the Romans to keep the uncivilised heathens out.  I don’t know who the uncivilised heathens are in america.

Tomorrow I’ve got coffee booked with Val and Fred.


  1. Electronic View Finder as opposed to the rear LCD screen. 
  2. Raw files are named so because they are not yet processed and therefore are not ready to be printed or edited.  They do, however give the purest image quality. 
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One Swallow – 24 April 2017

I started early this morning, going to the library then taking a walk down the Luggie.

Today’s PoD was taken on the walk to the library.  It proves that the sun can make even the ugliest building look good, not great, just good.  Let’s not get carried away here. It’s still a pretty ugly piece of concrete.

Didn’t get much along the Luggie, mainly because it was just too cold.

After lunch I went for a walk along the canal from Auchinstarry and got caught in a hailstorm blowing down from the north.  Not many photos there either.  However, despite the biting wind and the driving hail, I saw two swallows.  Now, as we all know, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but do two swallows make a decent spring?  I think that maybe they do.  On the way back along the railway path I saw about a dozen of the birds flying low over a pond.  Low flying swallows means poor weather coming, but at least they are here, just a day later than last year.

Scamp wanted to get in two salsa classes tonight and I was happy to comply.  By the end of the two hours I was dead beat, but according to my Fitbit, I’ve taken just over 19,000 steps today.  That must be a record.

This is a short blog entry because I’m trying desperately to get to bed the same day I woke up.  I might even achieve it.

Tomorrow?  Haircut probably.  It’s getting like a ‘pure afro.’

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“I don’t get hangovers yet” – 23 April 2017

This morning we went for a walk round the Barras.

I was going looking for a cheap Bluetooth 4.0 dongle – it’s a bit of computer hardware, in case you don’t know.  There used to be a multitude of wee computer shops selling legitimate and highly illegal hardware and software down the Barras.  Most Barras stuff was knocked off, one way or another and everybody knew that and accepted the risk that what you were buying was either unlikely to work once you got it home or a man in a black suit wearing a cap with a black and white chequered pattern would relieve you of it as soon as you stepped away from the stall.  No guarantees, no money back, but glorious bargains to be had.  Not today and by the looks of things not ever again.  The Barras was dead.  All the wee shops and some of the bigger ones were closed and firmly shuttered.  Worst of all, there was almost nobody about..  It looks like the end of an era, and also the end of my search for a cheap Bluetooth dongle.

We walked down to Glasgow Green and strolled through the trees just springing into leaf, about a month behind the ones we walked in last week in Astwick.  That’s what happens, they get the weather, we get the scenery.  It’s a fair exchange and I like the way it’s weighted.  We were just heading for the People’s Palace for my usual Sunday roll ’n’ sausage and Scamp’s tea ’n’ toast when three girls passed us and the following snippet of their conversation floated towards me  “… I don’t get hangovers yet. I suppose I will later …”.  I felt like telling her she had to be actually drinking alcohol first.  Merely talking about it won’t have the desired effect, nor will drinking lemonade or coke.  I almost shouted “Try Buckfast.  That should work.”  She was english, which explains everything.  Just one step away from being american.  (Yes, lower case ‘e’ and lower case ‘a’.)

Today’s sketch was from the Wintergarden of the People’s Palace.  Simpler and more accurate than previous ones IMO, maybe because I was sitting down enjoying my R ’n’ S while I completed it.  The trees were Celtic trees.  Green, White, Green, White, Green.  Must have been planted by a Sellic supporter!  But then, you don’t get many trees with Blue or Red leaves do you?  The mono shot of the old shop with the ‘ghost signs’ was not from the Barras, but from quite near there.

Back home to do a bit of joinery, completing the duckboard for the plants to stand on.  Actually enjoyed it and it looked reasonable when it was finished.  It could maybe do with a lick of paint or stain to finish it off, but the biggest part of the work is done now.  Helped Scamp with a bit of gentle gardening after that, but nothing creative, just labouring really.

Made some bread 50/50 white flour and dark wholegrain flour from Prince Chic’s own farm.  I imagine he planted it himself and then carefully tended it, talking to it daily before harvesting it with a scythe he’d sharpened himself then grinding it carefully in an authentic and architecturally sound windmill.  Lastly he’d transport the flour by horse and cart to Waitrose where we bought it.  He’s that kind of a guy.  The bread was good, thanks Chic.

Tomorrow is Monday so it’s Gems day.  I’ll be making a hasty exit.

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A day at the Toblerones – 22 April 2017

Not real Toblerones, just my nickname for the anti-submarine defences on the Forth at Cramond.

We walked up the path beside the River Almond past the ruins of the old mill, or should I say through the ruins because the walls are still there with archways and window spaces, but the roof is long gone.  We didn’t get much further past the dam because the path has been closed off by the council as being in a dangerous state.  Such a shame as it’s only a very short stretch of path that’s been condemned, about 3 or 4 metres really.  It appears from the maps that have been posted that beyond that it’s fine.  Anyway, that was the end of our riverside walk.  Saw a Japanese bloke on our way down the river kitted out in chest-high waders and with a fly rod.  I didn’t think he’d get anything today, then a couple of mayflies flew past, so the flies are emerging in the warm weather we’ve been having and he might have caught something after all.

We stopped for lunch at the wee cafe at the Mill House.  My lentil soup and toastie was great, but Scamp’s poached egg on avocado and sourdough bread looked a bit insipid and underdone.  She wasn’t impressed and told the owner so.  The cheese scone she received to replace the poached egg was too hard for her taste.  She really is spoilt after having tasted my scones 😉

After our aborted lunch we walked down and had a Mr Whippy ice cream each!  There were no words of dissent!  To walk them off, we strode out along the esplanade watching weans on bikes, neds on bikes, weans on scooters, dugs (not on bikes or scooters) folk in paddling!  It really is a bit early for paddling.  Yes, we did it in January, but that was in Trinidad!  Walked for about a mile or so and turned back to the car and drove home.  Lovely day, walking in the sunshine in good company.

Eventually relented and found a human in Currys and got the keyboard I wanted.  Sometimes you just have to bite the bullet.  Scamp says it’s about not cutting off your nose to spite your face, or am I mixing my metaphors now?

Before we went out, I got a book delivered, a painting book.  I’d borrowed it from the library and it was worth buying.  Unfortunately, it was out of print but available for a few quid second hand.  It almost cost as much to post as to buy, but it was in almost perfect condition.  I’d consider this option in future.  Maybe I’ve just been lucky today or maybe second hand books, like second hand cameras are worth looking at.

Tomorrow?  Maybe a walk down the green to collect more steps, miles and maybe even stairs climbed.

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A Toy off the Rack – 21 April 2017

The toy in question was a Fitbit Charge 2. Scamp had decided that since I’d been using the cheapo Goji Go since Christmas, perhaps I’d like to move up to a more sophisticated model. The price was good in JL and so that’s where I got it. More on it later.

Clutching my new toy in its box we walked down Bucky Street and had coffee in the Nero at St Enoch’s after listening to four old guys who perform under the name Buchanan Street Preachers. They sing old stuff, our music, from the ‘60s and ‘70s and are good to listen to. I photographed them and Scamp gave them a couple of quid for their efforts. I managed a late sketch for my one a week. It was of the amazingly detailed building that now houses Cafe Nero. It used to be the underground station and is a Cat ‘A’ listed building. I was quite pleased with the finished sketch, especially the crinkly bits. It was a 20 minute job and the perspective is ok, but the proportions are poor.

On the way home I wanted to try to get the BT keyboard in a different Currys. They didn’t have the one I wanted, but they did have an alternative that looked just as good and at exactly the same price. As I was walking to the till I noticed a label on the box to say it was ‘pre-owned’ one. It was the last one on the shelf. When I got to the till the assistant checked the price and told me the same price as the label on the shelf. I explained that it was pre-owned, so what was the discount. No discount. “It’s probably just someone took it home and didn’t like it” he said. So it’s not someone took it home and the dog peed on it, so they brought it back? So it’s not someone took it home and spilled coffee on it, so they brought it back? “No, they probably didn’t want it.” I told him neither did I and left, keyboardless. What is wrong with Currys these days? They were never all that great, but a few years ago they seemed to be improving. However, if they continue to employ managers who can’t manage, managers who ignore customers and robots who are ‘only obeying orders’, they are going to go downhill fast. They are certainly losing me.

Back to the Fitbit. It’s quite an amazing upgrade from the Goji Go. Not only does it count steps, distance travelled and calories burned. It also counts stairs climbed and checks heart rate. Even better, it doesn’t have to be told what time you are going to sleep, it works it out itself, based on heart rate and the fact you’re not moving. Best of all is that you can get replacement straps for the inevitable time when your strap wears out. It’s much smoother and less bulky than the Goji. All in all it’s a brilliant upgrade and not in any way a toy. My only problem is getting it to sync to the Mac. I think I’ve solved that problem. I thought the Mac had Bluetooth 4, but what I was reading was the Apple Bluetooth software version. The actual chipset is Bluetooth 2 which is not supported by the Fitbit. Looks like I’ll need a BT dongle.

Hoping to go to Cramond tomorrow.