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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Cramond – 20 June 2017

It looks like this will be the last really hot day in June. We were up and out early, so we decided to make a day of it. I’d thought about going to Troon, Scamp chose Cramond. Cramond was closer, so that’s where we went.

It was a bit overcast when we arrived and the wind was from the east which is never a good direction for wind in Scotland. If the wind is from the west, it brings rain. If it’s from the east it brings cold. Cold? Today? When the south of england is having to cope with 30º? Yes, and to prove it, Scamp took her cardigan. That’s a sure sign that it’s a bit chilly.

We walked up the riverside path past the old mill, like we did in April, hoping, nay expecting that the steps had been fixed now, nearly two months later. Nope! It looks like the wheels of City of Edinburgh council turn as slowly as NLC’s. Nothing had been done, except some folk had pushed aside the barriers. Can’t say I blame them.

We didn’t go any further, we turned and walked down to the harbour at Cramond and had a coffee in a wee tea (and coffee) room with a bite to eat as well. Apple tart for Scamp. Scone for me. Feeling a bit better after the feast, we walked along the esplanade in the direction of Embra, constantly dodging dugs, weans, cyclists and hundreds of ‘grey hairs’. It’s a busy place. Everybody was making the most of the last bit of good weather, and despite that blustery east wind, the temperature was rising to comfortable. By the time we got back to the car, it was warm.

Scamp needed some baby stuff to send down south, so we stopped at The Gyle, which is a cheap version of Glasgow’s Braehead. Pleasant enough, but just nothing to write home about, or blog about, so I’ll stop there.

Drove home along the M8 and managed to find the Stirling turnoff. You have to have your wits about you or it will flash past on your left hand side. Stopped for ice cream in Muirhead and had to be satisfied with Highland Toffee Ice Cream. No Tablet and no Strawberries ’n’ Cream. What is the confectionary world coming to?

Today’s PoD is a wee plant growing beside the river at Cramond. No idea what it is. I’ll look it up later. Sketch of the Day (would that be SoD?) is my left slipper. Due to technical difficulties the right was not available because the sketch was rubbish. It appears I only ever draw left shoes.

Tomorrow the rains and thunderstorms arrive so we’ll just have to wait and see if Ark construction will be necessary.

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Turned out nice again – 19 June 2017

When the temperature is about 20ºc when you wake in the morning, you just know it’s going to be a hot one.

Scamp was going out to a friend’s for lunch and I wasn’t invited this time, so I tidied up the blog in the morning and after my own lunch, set to and built the pea net I’ve been talking about constructing for the last week or two. It’s a beautiful construct of bamboo canes and pea netting held together by cable ties. I was watched all the while by next door’s wee yappy dogs. They obviously knew I hadn’t a clue how to build it and also that I wasn’t a threat, so they just patrolled their side of the fence and made sure I wasn’t going to invade their territory. I was fairly pleased with the finished article and I’m sure the pea plants will love it when they start to grow up.

Took a walk down Auchinstarry way again to see if there was the slightest chance the Humming Bird Hawk Moth would make another appearance, but it didn’t. The Ringlet butterflies were there in abundance though and that made up for the lack of the HBHM. Knee is still sore tonight although it wasn’t bothering me while I was walking. It’s either the walking or salsa that’s doing it, because I’ve deliberately avoided cycling since the last episode.

Salsa was interesting, I wasn’t needed for the Intermediate class, so I took the opportunity to get a June Ink sketch done. Today’s is of the staircase near Kelvin Bridge underground station. The escalator from the station up to street level is a boring plastic tube. The wrought iron staircase has real class and gravitas. Also, the old railway bridge under Great Western Road is very elegant too.  Today’s salsa moves were Agamemnon and El Yaco

Early rise tomorrow, so I better stop there. One last day of sunshine before the rains come. At least it’s a bit cooler tonight.

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Sunny Skies – 18 June 2017

Sunday was a lazy day. Really, it was too hot to be anything else, and after our late night on Saturday a lazy day was called for. Scamp was doing some tidying in the garden and I was just footering around. Although I did prepare dinner which was also a lazy meal: Chicken Tagine. Just fry the onions and the chicken in the Le Creuset (other makes are available) add the spices, some chopped dates, dried apricots, orange juice and water then bung in the oven for a couple of hours.

After lunch I went for a walk down the canal leaving Scamp to garden and keep an eye on the tagine. Walked along the canal, across the plantation and onto the railway road then back to Auchnstarry. That’s where I found the lovely wee dog rose. Got passed by two guys on scrambler bikes, one, just a boy seemed amused that I was a photographer. He seemed to want his photo taken, but I had two extension tubes on the camera and I didn’t really want a macro of his face. Should probably just have taken it. He’d never know. The other guy, maybe his dad was a lot more sensible and just gave me a wave as he passed. Such a lovely day to be out walking in your shirt sleeves.

When I got back, I’d just missed JIC, so I phoned him back and we compared temperatures and had a quick catch up. Then I let him go to prepare his barbecue. Hope it worked out well J. You’ll see his card on the left above. Don’t know where he gets his sarcasm from! Hazy’s is on the right with your recommended text alteration. Hope you approve H.

We couldn’t decide whether to go to Sunday Social or not. We’d been out late dancing on Saturday. We’d have usual salsa class on Monday. Can we be bothered? Will we, won’t we? Eventually we decided; stuff it, let’s go. Driving this time. We’ve learned our lesson with trains.

Got parked no problem and had a great time at Arta. I’m beginning to like it. It’s more ‘grown up’ than The Garage. It’s just a bit dark and gloomy. Danced with four girls as well as Scamp! Feeling the effects of it now on my knees. Chicken Tagine was voted good by the Cumbersheugh jury, but both of us agreed that it was too sweet. Less fruit next time.

Preparing for another hot day tomorrow.