16 Oct

Off The Leash – 30 June 2017

Scamp was meeting the other witches for lunch. I was off the leash for the day.

We drove in to Glasgow together as I was heading there anyway, then we went our own way, except that when I was leaving John Lewis after perusing the ‘bargains’, who should I bump into but Scamp. We agreed to go our separate ways again. Later when I was going in to the art shot, there she was again, but this time she had the other three witches with her. Luckily she directed them into a bar for cocktails, so I was saved the ignominy of having to hide from four women. Thank you again Scamp.

I bought myself two sketchbooks in Cass Art. I don’t like shopping there, but they are the cheapest in town. The next thing to do was get some photos and a sketch. The first would be easier than the last. It usually is. I got the photo in Buchanan Street it was just an empty alley. I think it’s the emptiness and the perspective I like about these alley shots. The sketch was next and that was done at the entrance to Exchange Square, or Royal Exchange Square to give it its proper name. That’s June Ink or J’ Ink over for another year. Bring on the July challenge whatever it is.

Drove home and had lunch, then went out for a walk along the railway, hoping to get some more pictures. Unfortunately, the light was pretty low and I didn’t get much. Took about fifteen shots of a hoverfly and none of them were sharp. Ten of a ladybird and none of them were sharp. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many shots you take or what equipment you have, it just doesn’t work out for you. You just have to accept it and move on. Tomorrow will be better.

Tomorrow may be better, but it WILL be raining again.  The weather fairies predicted it.

16 Oct

It rained – 29 June 2017

Today it was supposed to rain and it did.  It forgot to stop.

To cure our cabin fever we drove to Bishopbriggs to have lunch in M&S and to get some messages. My roll ’n’ bacon was lovely, the coffee, not so, too weak. Scamp’s tommy mato soup was lovely, her coffee, no so, too strong. Neither of us happy. Maybe Hazy was right, maybe I am a coffee snob. Maybe Scamp and I should have simply swapped cups, but I’ve only just thought of that solution, and it’s far too late. Maybe we’ll know for next time.

While Scamp went to look for bargains in Next, I went to look at the toys in the PC World toyshop. Tried again to like the new 64 bit Linx 2-in-1 computer / tablet, but failed. Still couldn’t get the touch pad to work in a predictable way. Instead I watched a crowd of wee boys, S1 and S2 I’d reckon, baiting the security guards and the assistants by splitting up and messing about with the ‘tronic stuff while one or two were pretending to steal stuff. First day of the school holidays and it’s raining. Can’t blame them for looking for some entertainment.

After we came home, I got itchy feet again and went for a walk in the rain to St Mo’s and spotted a hedgehog in the distance. At first I thought it was a rabbit, then realised that rabbits hop and hedgehogs amble. I can’t remember the last time I saw a hedgehog, but there it was walking along the path towards me. Just out looking for its supper, before I went home to make ours (fish curry for us, and I think the hedgehog was having slugs.) I had to use flash because the light level was so low at 5 o’clock in the afternoon in June! That’s Scotland fur ye!

So, at least I had a PoD. Couldn’t settle on a sketch and then I spied my A6 Moleskine. I could draw that, and so I did. I did think about sketching it open at a page with a drawing of it open at a page and on that page was a drawing of it open … You get the idea I’m sure. A bit like an Escher sketch. It’s called the Droste Effect and you can get a plugin for that ill named Photoshop clone ‘The Gimp’ that will produce the effect with a little bit of Higher maths applied, but it really is a bit of a cliché. That’s why the sketchbook is open at a blank page. Not a deep meaning, that’s just how it was, sitting on the table.

Tomorrow Scamp is going into Glasgow for lunch with the Witches and I may go in to Glasgow myself to do the final ’June Ink’ drawing for this year. I might also get myself a new Moleskine sketchbook to replace the one that is now full, if I can remember the exact kind it was. There are so many different types and surfaces, not all conducive to watercolour washes.

16 Oct

The search continues – 28 June 2017

Today we drove to Stirling because at Springkerse in the town (I know, Mrs McQueen made it a city in 2000, but it’s still a town to me) at Springkerse there are a host of car retailers.

First stop was Arnold Clark for a look at a Renault. The Megane we looked at was too big, definitely too big, so was the price. It came off the list right away. Next up was the Clio from the same garage. It was much more like what we had in our heads, and after some jiggery pokery with the figures, so was the price. Had a seat in one and quite liked it. Were offered a test drive, but declined. Once our shortlist is complete we’ll use test drives to whittle it down.
Next up was Peugeot. Maybe we got off to a bad start by not having an actual model in mind, maybe he took a look at the scruffy jeans and dirty old rugby shirt and decided we couldn’t afford anything but a second hand car, but although he was pleasant enough, he wasn’t as enthusiastic as he could have been. We sat in a 208, but it was a second-hand bottom of the range model and it wasn’t what I was looking for. Off the list.
Last for the day was Nissan. Scamp didn’t like the Juke – I didn’t really think she would. It’s too big she said. We looked at the new Micra. The dealer said it was actually bigger than the Juke. He lied, it’s not. It is marginally smaller. I didn’t like it, Scamp did. He did offer us an interesting test drive option, whereby we could take the car for up to 24 hours and give it a long test. Nissan would even pay for the insurance! Again, after number crunching he came up with a much better price than the lady in Glasgow had offered. I think the Juke and the Micra both stay on the list, but I also think that Macklin Motors in Glasgow are now off the list.
That was the end of testing for today.

Had coffee in Stirling and then I needed to get a sketch done, and that is what you see here. I’ve been reading an excellent sketching book by Liz Steel entitled Five Minute Sketching – Architecture. I can’t say with any honesty that I can achieve the five minutes yet, but I’m putting a lot of her ideas into practise. I’m a lot better pleased with it than I was with yesterday’s effort.

When I got home, Scamp was on cooking duty so I had almost an hour in St Mo’s and came upon the little deer almost right away. As usual, I had the wrong lens on the Nikon, but managed to change and grab a few shots before Bambi took off.

Salsa tonight was a bit of a mix up with Jamie G taking over one of Colin’s classes and trying to teach a move that was new to both his class and Colin’s. Of course, us as old hands knew it (Romeo and Juliet) It was a bit of a shambles to start with, but then it began to flow a lot better. Let’s hope they all, or at least most of them, come back next week.

Beautiful sunset tonight after a lovely day with loads of sunshine.  I didn’t photograph the sunset.  Yes, it was lovely, but everyone forgets that if you don’t have a decent foreground and an interesting midground, a beautiful sunset is just some oversaturated colours flung together.  So speaks Oscar the Grouch!

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It’s supposed to rain.

16 Oct

The day the rain came – 27 June 2017

It was raining when we woke this morning and it’s still raining. For once that’s not a complaint, it’s just a statement of fact.

Went to Westerwood today. Me to the gym, Scamp for a swim. Days like this were what we’d joined for. Ideal for a bit of gentle exercise, a swim in a fairly comfortable environment. Of course the wonderful keypad lockers were acting up. They would lock, but not unlock again, but they’d been working for a whole two weeks now. That’s about as much as you could expect from them. Finally got mine to open after about 6 tries. It does not auger well.

Other than taking some predictable wet weather photos of flowers and raindrops, there wasn’t much more to say about the day. Scamp made Tomato and Red Pepper soup for dinner. Who would have thought after yesterday’s muggy heat we’d be glad of a plate of soup for dinner tonight. Dry day forecast for tomorrow then more rain. It’s all to do with the Jet Stream I’m told. I blame that Trump bloke.

Today’s sketch is best described as a placemarker.  It’s done and posted.  Fin.

16 Oct

The search begins – 26 June 2017

Scamp was taking her sister out to lunch today and I was heading in to Glasgow on the train.

First stop was the Nile Barber for a number 3 all over. So who would it be? The conspiracy theorist? The Everything’s Getting Older grump with a story? Or would it be the new guy who doesn’t speak, just cuts? It turned out to be Aidan Moffat Everything’s Getting Older, and he had his left arm in a sling, so that would be another tale to tell. As it happened, he had a torn ligament, but didn’t divulge the reason. He did moan about all the folk who were just getting in his way in the town today, and how loads of trains were cancelled this morning because of ‘an incident’. “That usually means somebody’s jumped in front of a train”, his words not mine. “Monday morning’s a favourite time to do it.” Again, his profundity. However, he did tell some jokes to lighten the mood and he got a decent tip for that.

With the number 3 completed to both our satisfactions, I walked up to the Nissan garage that looks like a gigantic Matchbox Toy© display. That’s where today’s PoD came from, in fact the only photograph of the day. It was quite formal inside and I was beginning to worry if I’d dressed too casually for the occasion and whether I should have phoned ahead to make an appointment. However, I needn’t have worried, the fact that I had money which I appeared to be willing to part with made me a suitable target client. After having a seat in both the possible replacement for the Megane, I was a bit bamboozled with the ‘new’ uses technology had been put to in the last eight years. A lot has changed in Facebook cars since you last signed in. The salesperson obviously recognised my confusion and handed me the brochures for both cars and as a final ‘go away and stop wasting my time’ said “Is that all you came in for today?” My reply of “No, I came in to get my hair cut too.” seemed to go so far over her head it was stratospheric. Her blank looks proved that she suffered from an extreme form of NSOH. Clutching my brochures I made my way back into the real world. The search has begun.

Going back on the train, the bloke across the passage from me dropped a folded up £20 note as he was sitting down. I decided to be ‘good Samaritan’, tapped him on the shoulder and pointed. What a look of relief on his face. Good deed done for the day.

At Salsa tonight the beginners class were even, then a late arrival made me surplus to requirements, so I took my leave and polished off the above sketch in just over 15mins. It’s a fiddly building with curved stonework and strange angular areas of roof. I’m quite happy with the result, but wish I’d taken a photo to check some of the details. The little A6 Moleskine book is great for these small sketches.

Tomorrow the rains will come with a vengeance. On June’s birthday too!

16 Oct

Down the Green – 25 June 2017

We had decided to go for a walk down Glasgow Green this morning and that is what we did.

Usually the parking is quite tight at the People’s Palace, but either because we were there early or because the temperature had dropped significantly today and folk were just staying at home. I almost felt sorry for some French folk who had arrived at the People’s Palace in a tour bus, only to find a locked door. For most of the week, the building opens at 10am, but on Sundays it opens an hour later. They missed the opening by 5 minutes!

We walked around the usual circuit and that’s where my PoD abstract came from. Went in to the wintergarden for a quick coffee for me and peppermint tea for Scamp before going home. Unfortunately the barista(?) didn’t seem to understand “some hot milk on the side” and I got a cup of milky coffee. Not really surprising as two of the cafe assistants didn’t look as if they’d be able to spell their names correctly at the first attempt.

Back home we watched an enthralling and, I must say, interesting F1 GP from the street circuit of Baku in Azerbaijan. Thrill, spills, crashes, flaring tempers. It had it all. It even had a smiling winner who drank some of his champagne from his racing boot, but the best bit was when the 3rd placed rookie had to drink some too, from the same boot. The look on his face was a picture!

Today’s sketch was done on Pink Pig 150gsm cartridge paper and with an almost dry Derwent Graphik 0.1mm pen. I drew it as the race was nearing its nail biting climax and the flower head was drawn blind. I think this must be the most accurate ‘blind drawing’ I’ve done so far. I’m quite pleased with it, especially after yesterday’s effort.  The rose is Alec’s Red, Scamp’s favourite rose and it was a wedding present from Alex to us all those years ago.  Scamp cut the flower to stop it being battered by the high winds this weekend.

Tomorrow? I may go in to Glasgow to get my hair cut.

16 Oct

A day in the toon – 24 June 2017

A bit later than normal, we made our way into Glasgow for a wee wander.

Started with pizza for lunch in Paesano and then a coffee in Nero. I was looking for a new sketch book, now that the Seawhite landscape I’ve been using has run out of space and the Paperchase book I was intending to replace it with has failed to hold a watercolour wash. I didn’t find one and think now that I may have to revert to the Pink Pig books I’ve been using for years. They have these three benefits:

  • I’ve used them before and they are smooth with good tooth.
  • They hold a watercolour wash with ease.
  • They cost nothing, because I already have them

They have one drawback and that’s the fact that they are wire bound, so you can’t simply open them out and draw across the fold in the same way that you can with a perfect bound book like a Moleskine. Ah, life is a set of compromises and so it is with sketchbooks too, it seems.

When we were walking back to the car I saw a bloke selling white beanie hats. Couldn’t understand why, then I noticed that they had The Stone Roses printed on them. So that’s why there were so many people wandering around ‘The Toon’. Then two blokes passed and one said to the other “… and there I was standing right next to Ian Brown.” Isn’t he the one who looks like a monkey? Ian Brown that is, not the bloke who passed, although he did have that simian look about him too.

The wind was getting quite fierce on the way home, but I didn’t have a photo apart from this controversial one from Buchanan Galleries carpark, so I went for a walk around St Mo’s with Big Dog and the 105mm Macro and the Teazer as backup. It was the Nikon that produced the pic of the bee.

We had intended to go dancing at night, but neither of us were that bothered, so we had a night in instead. I managed to get a very bad sketch completed. It won’t be vying for Sketch of the Week.

No plans for tomorrow.

16 Oct

New Eyes – 23 June 2017

Phoned the opticians at midday today to check if my new glasses were ready, and they were. New eyes for me.

Earlier I’d spoken to Hazy on the phone and then Scamp had squeezed every last bit of information from her about her new nephew. Good to hear that they too are experiencing more comfortable temperatures.

Drove to Larkhall and got my new glasses which I am now wearing to write this blog. Don’t they look good? When I had picked up and paid for them, I drove down to Millheugh and used that as a basis for today’s SoD. I was careful in my description there, because it seems that someone has decided to build a salmon ladder up the far side of the waterfall (locally called ‘The Boards’). It looks as if it’s still in the construction stage yet. It may be some time before it’s completed. The SoD does not include the salmon ladder, because it’s basically a building site with loads of scaffolding and massive concrete precast panels at present. Ugly is not the word for it.

Drove home the long way and stopped off at a wee garden centre to see if they had any of the massive pots we need to pot up Scamp’s pieris. They did, and at a bargain price too! Got two for the price some garden centres were asking for one. Also found hanging baskets planted with strawberries (that’s what you see above). Had to have one of them, if only to repay Scamp for slaving over a hot stove re-boiling yesterday’s strawberry jam to make it thicker. She’s a perfectionist.

That was about it for the day. I had ordered a book on urban sketching from Amazon yesterday and it arrived at lunchtime today. It looks like one of he best, most concise books on sketching architecture I’ve read. Now I need to put it into practise.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow so that I can start that practise.

It’s been very windy today, but not a lot of rain. Tomorrow we keep the wind and apparently we get rain too. Oh well, the garden needs it.

16 Oct

Through Old Eyes – 22 June 2017

Up fairly early again, this time to go for our annual eye check in Larkhall. It about 20 miles away, but we’ve been going there for years ever since the present optician’s father had the business. When you trust someone with your sight, you stick with them.

While Scamp was undergoing the annual torture of the Visual Field Test among others, I went for a walk around Larky. Down the main street and then into Raploch street then turned into Crossgates. It was then I realised I was looking with old eyes, seeing things as they were years ago. Eyes that expected to find two old houses sitting like conjoined twins. Mirror images of each other. Built from red engineering brick with wooden barge boards painted turquoise. Always turquoise. They weren’t there of course. They’d probably been torn down years ago to make room for some 21st century chicken boxes. Such a shame. I walked back to the main street, disillusioned. Sat down on a seat. Street furniture in Larky? How upmarket. Sat down and sketched Union Street School. My first school. First a primary school, then a few years later it became the Technical and Home Economics annex. It’s still a lovely building although the windows and, I presume, the doors have all been boarded up. It still stands there waiting for the bulldozers. Too expensive to maintain. Too old to turn into flats. Such a shame.

After my torture in the opticians, we drove down Clydeside. Still in the nostalgic frame of mind, we drove out and round Netherburn. It didn’t take long. Probably only about five minutes. Looking with those old eyes again we saw it as it had been thirty years ago.

Took the road down on to Clydeside proper and went looking for a coffee and a bite to eat. Found both at Silver Birch Garden Centre in Crossford. Like quite a few Scottish place names, you have to be careful where you put the emphasis. There is a Crossford in Fife where the emphasis is on the first syllable. The one on Clydeside has the emphasis on ’ford’. Quite confusing. Scamp got another plant for the garden. A vivid green Heuchera, not the flower at the top of the page.

On the way home we stopped to get some strawberries. I thought they were for eating, but Scamp had different ideas. That’s why the house smells of strawberry jam tonight. There is nothing in the world like fresh strawberry jam on fresh bread. Not fancy bread like mine, but good honest sliced bread. That’s what I’m going for tomorrow morning.

16 Oct

Wish I’d brought a sketchbook – 21 June 2017

You couldn’t say it rained today. It barely wet the ground, it certainly wasn’t the downpour that was predicted.

Couldn’t decide what to do with the day, but eventually Scamp suggested we go for a swim and that was what we did. Since my leg wasn’t quite back to normal, I thought a swim would be better than gym today. Pool was busy, but with hotel visitors this time, not spa punters. There were the usual fatties making a floating moveable island in the middle of the pool for others to swim around.

Went over to St Mo’s in the afternoon and got some photos of the insect life, but nothing interesting, except perhaps the shot above of a damselfly planking to show off its abs.

Dinner was a disaster. It was meant to be an authentic Chinese stir-fry using tofu, bean paste and black fungus! I tried sticking to the recipe, but the bean paste just fried itself into a solid lump … twice! Gave up and stir-fried the veg in the oil of the bean paste, then mashed up some beans with a mortar and pestle and added it with some hot water. Put the fried tofu in at the end and let it steam to cook the carrots. It tasted ok, but not really like what we had tasted when it was demonstrated at Gardening Scotland. Maybe we’ll stop for chips on the way home from salsa 😉

Saw a flash of lightning over the hills when we were driving in to salsa. Didn’t hear any thunder and the rain stayed away too. Hopefully the worst of the thunderstorms have passed us by.

There weren’t really enough people to make up a beginners class, and too many men again, so I stepped out … again! This time I didn’t have a sketchbook, so I’m sitting in the car, on a huff, writing the blog instead. Blog or sketch, both take about half an hour to complete. If I get one or the other done, it’s time not wasted.

Looks like the 7.30pm class is ending as well as the beginners. If it does, that will mean the end of our Wednesday exercise! That would be a shame.

Finally settled on an old favourite for the SoD (I like that abbreviation!), the Sudoku block. Trying out the Paperchase sketch book. Not nearly as much ’tooth’ as the Seawhite one. Not sure I like the lack of texture.