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The last day of Summer – 31 August 2017

According to the weather pixies, today is the last day of summer. When did it start? I think I must have blinked.

Sort of got off to a slow start today. We woke to blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  I’d thought of going to Helensburgh on the train (sorry JIC). Scamp had thought about going to Embra. We couldn’t agree on what to do and wasted too much time farting about.  In the end, we did neither. We went in to Glasgow on the train hoping to get me a pair of jeans in Debenhams. I’d got a pair in the sale last week and despite them having a button fly, they were really comfortable. Went today and they were full price again. Worse still, they didn’t have my size. Bummer. Had a coffee in Nero and came home, but not before I’d got a couple of photos with the Teazer on Queen Street. PoD is above.

After dinner Scamp tried to buy the jeans from Debenhams website, but although it promised next day delivery to your nearest shop, after choosing our nearest shop, in fact any shop, it said we could collect them on Saturday. What happened to Friday? Don’t they do Fridays? Maybe the delivery staff have a wee party on Fridays and customers can go to hell. It used to be, you wrote a letter of complaint to head office about stuff like this. Now you post it on their website for all to see, something like this:

Tried to order a pair of jeans today (Thursday) with ‘click and collect’. Order before 9pm it said and you can collect tomorrow after 12 noon it said. At the checkout I selected the Stirling store. You can collect after 12pm on Saturday it said. Saturday is not the next day after Thursday, Debenhams. Oh yes, and why are Scottish customers warned that they may have to wait another hour before their parcels are delivered? Is there a problem getting the parcels through the customs at Hadrian’s Wall? Filled in the survey, but of course there’s nowhere for you to put in your email address for a reply. I wonder why??

This morning it was the car’s turn for a clean out. Scamp had ‘done the stairs’ with the new Dyson and it was my turn to clean out the car. It does a great job, but the battery lasted about 5minutes of full power. What a handy little tool it is. It’s now been charged twice more, once to finish cleaning the car and once to get it back to a full charge. I think it’s a ‘keeper’.

Tomorrow we go for a test drive in a Juke. Hence the clean up of the Megane.

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No animals were injured – 30 August 2017

Spent an hour this morning cleaning out one of the drawers in the chest of drawers. It was the least opened one, the bottom one. Actually, one of the easiest to do because there was less junk in it. I also took down some of my old paintings and filed them away. Still loads to do, but a little every day makes it easier, or so Scamp says.

Just before lunch, Scamp decided that she was going to shell out on a portable Dyson. We’d talked about it before, but she had decided then that it wasn’t all that necessary. However, while I had been looking at printers in PC World, she had been comparing and contrasting the different models of Dyson. This just shows how PC World has changed. A few years ago it was a world of PCs with the occasional Mac to keep the weirdos happy, but now half the stores are taken up with white goods or vacuum cleaners, TVs and other non PC (in its widest sense) items. No longer can you talk to geeks about SCSII cables, USB gender changers and portable hard drive speeds. Now it’s just a household electrical store. It’s just not the same. It’s not a place to spend a wet Sunday afternoon in mooching around the latest desktop computer and comparing specs and prices. What it the world coming to?

Thankfully Scamp wanted to go to JL for the Dyson. At least there the salespeople have had a bit of training and seem to know what they’re talking about, as opposed to PC World and Currys where they haven’t a clue. The downside of the loss of the Geek! After testing out the different models, she settled on a Dyson V7. Halfway between the underpowered V6 and the scary V8 Animal. The lady had asked us if we had a dog and I had started to get worried. Maybe you had to have one to qualify for the purchase of the cleaner. Or maybe they were giving one away with every purchase. I don’t like dogs and I’ve heard they don’t even taste like chicken … er, but moving right along. The reason she had asked was that the scary ’Animal’ range is intended for picking up animal hair. She wasn’t all that clear about what you did with it after you’d picked it up. I remember Hazy talking about ‘knitting with cat hair’. So no, we could make do with the ordinary V7.

Took it home and plugged it in to give it a full charge and while Scamp caught up with her soap watching, I wandered round St Mo’s and just missed Mr Grey. He was hiding in the bushes but when he saw me he was off like a shot squawking his derision at me. I did manage to grab the snail on the dried cow parsley seed head. There wasn’t much colour about it, so I turned it into a mono shot and that seems to suit it.

Salsa tonight was ok, but my feet were killing me wearing the dancing shoes. They are the most uncomfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. I couldn’t bear to wear them for any more than the beginners class. I may forget to take them next time we go dancing!
In the advanced class we went over Espejo.

No plans for tomorrow. Just hope we’re not driving again.

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Look for the Juke – 29 August 2017

Went to Stirling today hoping for a test drive in a Juke, just to clear the air and get the car out of my system. They didn’t have one.

Well, that’s not completely true. They had lots of cars, even lots of Jukes, just none that we could take for a test drive today. We did get to sit in one and the nice lady took our details and hopefully we’ll get that test drive on Friday.

Since we were in Stirling and PC World was just down the road, we went there looking for a printer to replace the one that’s languishing in the boot of the car at present. They didn’t have one.

Well, that’s not completely true. (Does this sound like groundhog day?) They had a few printers. Most of them were for Home or Office and only two were marked Photo. One, a Canon and one an Epson. Not an Epsom as the Head of Computing at the school insisted on calling them. I’d have liked a printer that was designed to print photos, but both the PC World offerings were printer/scanners. I don’t need a scanner, I’ve got a really good one. Why would I want to pay for a scanner I didn’t need? Both the alleged ‘photo’ printers used four photo inks and one text printing black cartridge. Proper photo printers have five photo inks, sometimes with a black text cartridge. I wasn’t impressed. Nobody came near me to offer a test drive either. It would be good if you could do a test print on the printer you’re interested in buying. Nobody would think of buying a laptop without first checking how fast apps load and how clear the screen is, but you have to trust the hyperbolic manufacturer’s claims for printers. Once you get it home and find it print pictures that look like something out of Minecraft, you can’t take it back and complain. Well, you could, but nobody at PC World would listen to you. Maybe I’ll just keep the old printer and try to coax it back from the dead.

The day started earlier with me attempting with a fair degree of success to tidy up the back room. I did find the sofa that was hidden under holiday stuff. It took some time and effort, but now it has reappeared, it gives me the impetus to clean up the rest of the room. It should only take another three or four days. Ok, a week tops.

The day finished with a walk along the canal. A place to unwind and do some tidying up of my head. As you can see from the confusing jumping back and forward in the blog, I need more of this ‘head time’. Today’s PoD is a Red Admiral that I managed to grab a few photos of at Dumbreck Marshes. Then it was home for fish pie! A nice end to a day in the sun. Some things done, some things in the pipeline.

Tomorrow is to be much like today apparently and as today was warm and sunny, I’ll take that and say thank you very much.

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The search is over – 28 August 2017

Finally the search is over and a couple of suitable cow skins on cheap plywood and pine frames have been purchased! Hooray!!

Drove in to Glasgow this morning hoping to clinch the deal for a new suite. Nothing is ever that easy. We went first to Sterling in London Road. We had intended to have one final look at the suite we had earmarked, but instead we were side tracked by another one. It seemed better finished and slightly more comfortable, but was considerably more expensive. It just had to be added to the list There were now four suites vying for our attention. We went next door to DFS and decided immediately to remove that contender. Back to three again. We drove to Birkenshaw to look at number two on the list. That was easy. It was scrubbed off the list too. Now we were down to two. The original front runner and the new arrival. At least we were getting somewhere. Scamp went to look for ‘something’ in Dunelm Mills and I went to look for a replacement printer in Currys. We both met up again without a printer or a ‘something’. I suggested we go back to London Road and have a cup of coffee while we thought about the pros and cons of the two suites that were now neck and neck. While we were drinking coffee and eating lunch, I suggested we get the measurements of the two contenders and then go home to see if either or both of them would fit in the space we had. Sounded like a plan, so armed with the dimensions of the two, three seater sofas we drove home (all of this in torrential rain too). Measured the two and found that both would fit into the space neatly. It was nearly down to the wire, I think Scamp was reaching for the coin to toss when I said I thought the original suite was the best. It had been in our heads for longest, it was the price we wanted to pay and the colour was right. We drove back in to Glasgow and sealed the deal. If only we hadn’t been side tracked by that rogue sofa, we’d have been done with hours to spare. As it was, we had barely enough time to come back home with the ink still drying on the contract and have dinner before we headed off to Salsa class.

I couldn’t put a foot right tonight. Even in the first class where we go as helpers, I couldn’t remember how to do a simple move, Caltec. My brain just wasn’t working. I think I was still driving in and out of Glasgow. Once I got the start, it was easy and I could repeat it all night. It was just that start position I couldn’t get. That’s what happens when you format your brain and re-install a previous backup. New move tonight was Disco.

Today’s PoD is sweet peas. I make no excuse for yet another flower picture or indeed for yet another sweet pea picture. They just look lovely.

The sky eventually cleared this evening and apparently we are to have a good day tomorrow. Don’t know where we’re going, but it won’t be London Road or Birkenshaw.

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Away to see the horses – 27 August 2017

Scamp suggested we go to see the Kelpies this morning and it seemed like a good way to get out and about on a Sunday morning. So did lots and lots of other people.

Despite a bit of a queue, we got parked without any trouble after paying the £3 fee which is very good these days. The place was busy and there were two bus tours just arriving but it’s a big site and we walked down to see the horses.

There really is something almost mystical about these statues. They make you smile for no reason. It’s as if they’re alive and watching you. Maybe watching over you is a better description, and going to see them is like going to meet old friends. It’s a difficult feeling to put into words, but Scamp and I are agreed about this. We wandered round the statues and as usual, I was trying to find a new angle for a photo. I think I found one today and it became my PoD, but not before Lightroom had done a bit of work on it.

After the Kelpies, we walked along through Helix park with a sinusoidal board walk through the wetlands to a massive semicircular brick and stone windbreak sheltering large circular grassed area and a circular pond with a kids play park and a cafe within easy reach. There was a path round the pond, but as it looked like it would take a good half hour or so to complete, we headed back towards the car park. Why can’t all councils spend their money on projects like this? Wouldn’t it be good to have a facility like this rather than spending half a million on the ridiculous ‘waves’ that Cumbernauld had dumped beside the dual carriageway.

By the time we were leaving, the queue for parking far exceeded the spaces available, so the moral of the story is get there before 12noon or you will be disappointed.

After lunch I went out to St Mo’s to calm down after another ‘exciting’ F1 GP. For such a high powered, enormously expensive sport, it can be like watching a procession sometimes and as most of the drivers are so far removed from reality, it’s difficult to find any empathy with them. Who cares if Hamilton or Vettel wins? It will make no difference to the price of fish. St Mo’s was buzzing with dragonflies, ordinary flies and spiders. I suppose it’s not surprising if there are a lot of flies around, there will be a lot of spiders waiting to snap them up. However, it wasn’t a spider I saw snapping up a fly, it was a dragonfly. A big green and white dragonfly was cruising up and down the alley between the trees and then it stopped in the air just beside me and grabbed a fly that had risen from a branch. Just like that. I had no time to take a shot, but I saw it right in front of my nose!  Oh yes, and the toadstool pic was taken with the Teazer with WiFi remote control.  So much easier on old knees!

That was about it for today. Got a painting started, but I’ll have to fake a sketch this week. Nothing done so far.

Rain forecast tomorrow. Maybe going suite hunting again.

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Unexpected – 26 August 2017

Today we were on a tight schedule. I wanted to get a pair of jeans in Glasgow and we both wanted to go to a flower show on the way back. Also, if we could find time in the middle to have lunch that would be a bonus!

Drove to Glasgow. When we emerged from the car park everyone was huddled round the door, because it was raining – such an unusual event in Scotland. However, after we walked down Buchanan Street in the gradually increasing deluge, we too took shelter in a shop doorway and I got the photo of the three ladies who chose an arboreal shelter instead.

Went in to St Enoch’s Centre to get out of the rain and use it as a short cut to Debenhams, and it was there I came upon The Unexpected Artist gallery. There were two artists on site. One wee bauchle singing away to himself while he painted in the corner and a tall thin woman with tattoos all down her neck, painting a portrait. Some of the work on show was very good, some was not all that great. Certainly worth another look though. Got the jeans and almost dodged the rain going for lunch in Charcoals. The food was great, but it was a bit spicy. I didn’t mind, but Scamp was sure there was steam coming out of her ears. A slight exaggeration, but there was a fair bit of heat in the Chicken Rogan Josh. No opportunity of a beer on the way home as I was driving, but at least the rain was easing off by then.

Got to Muirhead for the garden show and met the other Mr Campbell (no relation) and discussed retirement then exchanged news. Bemoaned the poor weather this year and discussed holidays past and still to come. Took our leave and left before the prize giving. Such a dull affair with too many in jokes.

Sort of intended going out to get some photos, but finally decided that I had enough. I’d taken the shots of the drips on the poppy stems this morning and grabbed one or two of the rowan berry on the allium, but it was the ladies in the rain that was my PoD.  What I did do was an attempted copy of Fred’s painting.  His looks better, the colour in mine is too muddy.  I’ll attempt version 2 tomorrow.

Hoping for the dry weather that appeared tonight to stay tomorrow, because Monday looks like more rain.  Not unexpected at all.

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Masterchefs – 25 August 2017

Today we were cooking lunch for Scamp’s sister, June and her boyfriend (her word!) Ian and it was going to be hot in the kitchen. I can’t stand the heat, so I got out.

I’d done my part last night by making the panna cotta and it was chilling in the fridge. Scamp had set herself the task of making the other pudding option  which was to be Chocolate Pots (when we have guests, we always offer [for offer read eat] two puddings). She was also making the main which was chicken stuffed with mozzarella and wrapped in parma ham. I was going out to get a multipoint extension cable. Some would see that as the easy option, but you forget the skill that is required to purchase just the right cable length and the optimum amount and orientation of sockets. Yes, of course it’s the easy option.

I got back with loads of time to spare and got the thing connected up to the various AV electronics. It never ceases to surprise me just how many electronic and pure electrical devices we connect to our minimal amount of output sockets these days. Our living room has five power sockets and about twelve electrical devices looking for power.

After lunch which went very well, especially the panna cotta even if I say so myself, June and Ian wanted their photo taken. That was easy. The next bit wasn’t so easy. June wanted the photo to fit into her locket which is 23mm by 15mm. I really didn’t think my printer would manage it, but with a little help from Photoshop, it did. Then after a few prints, the printer died. I tried to resuscitate it without success. According to various sites on the internet, the problem is that the print head is kaput. Not surprising when you consider that the printer works almost non-stop for about a week just about Christmas and then lies dormant for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, that week’s work is me making my calendar and I really need a good quality printer for that. I’m hoping it’s not completely dead, but just in a state of shock after having been woken from hibernation too early, so I’m letting it sleep tonight and I’ll gently wake it tomorrow morning. Hopefully it will all be green lights. Today it was flashing amber lights.

Green was the dominant colour in today’s PoD. It was a drip falling from a chestnut leaf. Rain was falling from first thing this morning and it still is tonight.

It’s supposed to be better tomorrow. Let’s hope so.

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The Lost Scotsman and the Lost Americans – 24 August 2017

Most railway stations have a newsagent or a coffee takeaway nearby. Not Lenzie. Lenzie has a psychologists office. I think that says a lot about the town. On the other hand, maybe it says more about me, because I noticed! Anyway, just an observation. Take of it what you will.

As you will have gathered, I took the train in to Glasgow. I managed to get the only, yes, the ONLY parking space in the enormous Croy Station carpark. Granted it was about a half mile walk to the station, but I was parked, and in a space. Not on a flower garden, not up on the kerb or in a turning circle, but in a space. On a Thursday, that is no mean feat. Had a wander around Glasgow. I had thought about having my hair cut, but rejected that until the autumn sets in, in September. What I was looking for was a cheap box of water soluble oil paints. I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but they do exist and are very good. They have the feel of oil paints without the need for solvents. The smell of the linseed oil or the turps doesn’t bother me, but it does leave a lingering smell in the room that permeates to the whole house. I was also looking for a small watercolour block that I got in Tiger at the weekend and swapped for a roll of canvas when I met Fred yesterday. Like I wrote earlier, it wasn’t the best watercolour paper, but it was cheap and a neat size. Unfortunately the first shop I went to had none and the second only had the larger size which would have cockled (buckled) more when I put a wet wash on. On the way back I bumped into a group of young American guys (note the capital letter – If you don’t know what I mean, click here). They were lost and looking for Gordon Street. I couldn’t for the life of me remember where it was. I said sorry and walked on, then I realised that Gordon Street was the next street down. Walked back and told them. I also asked if they were going to the station. They said no, they were looking for a sports shop called Reeves. Reeves is a paint manufacturer, I was on my way to get some paint, so I just shrugged and said good luck. I was going the same direction as they were, so not wishing to crowd them, I slowed down. Almost at Gordon Street and the database in my head filtered out the answer to their problem. The sports shop was Greaves. One of the oldest sports shops in the UK if not the world. Tapped the leader on the shoulder and pointed at the illuminated sign behind him. His smile told me that’s where they were going. Isn’t it nice to do someone a good turn? The answer, which can be on a postcard if you wish, is YES!

Found the paints for a bargain price in Cass Art and got a canvas the exact size and proportions I wanted in Millers. Pity about the Tiger watercolour block, but I’ll keep looking for it. Headed home to find that they have eventually started the rebuild of Queen Street Station with hoardings all round the block and only a small entrance / exit to Dundas Street. Of course, because it was such a small entrance, some idiot english (same rules apply) family of about ten folk were blocking it. You don’t do that in Glasgow. People will just barge past, through and over you whichever takes their fancy. I did the ‘past’ option. Others took the ’through’. I didn’t see any ‘over’ supporters, but then it was Thursday. Now if it had been a Saturday just after full-time and Rangers had been robbed by a blind referee, there would have been carnage.

Today’s PoD was taken on Argyle Street and is entitled Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear.

Only had to wait about ten minutes for a train and that brings us neatly back to the start!

Met Duncan for a ‘wee chat’ and to hand over some books tonight. It was really good to hear his version of what day to day life is like in the school three years down the line. I really enjoyed the catch up and will probably take up his offer of a visit to see how the department works now. However, I have no intention of taking up his other offer of me doing ‘supply’. Oh no, I have a different life now and nothing will make me give it up.

Tomorrow June and Ian are coming for lunch.  Pannacotta is already made, cooling and hopefully setting.

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Coffee with Fred – 23 August 2017

Scamp saw the snail crawling, upside down, along the sweet pea frame this morning, but by the time I got my shoes on and grabbed the camera, it had reached the corner and was trying without success to navigate the cross bracing I’d put in to keep the frame rectangular and more stable. I took a couple of shots, but knew they weren’t going to work. Always better to take the shot and reject it later than to not take it and later regret not having at least a record of the event – A Zog Maxim. Later, I checked and Mr Snail had given up the challenge of the cross bracing and was making his way back across the bamboo, still upside down. This time I had him. Got the photos of the poppy, the sweet peas and the star shaped seed pods of the allium at the same time. However, I knew the snail shot was the winner.

Gave Costa’s manky Americano the bum’s rush today and had a fairly tasty Mocha Cortado. A bit sweeter and less claggy than the standard Cortado. I was meeting Fred for a chat and a chance to show off my paintings – One finished and one in the finishing stages. We swapped stories and critiques on pictures plus I got a roll of canvas from him and he got a watercolour block from me.

Went shopping for a dash cam in Halfords and found there is quite a range from about £40 to over £140. I imagine if we get one it will be mid range. They look quite useful, but so many folk on the net have so many different opinions on what’s best. What features you should have and what features are just surplus to requirements. Of course, some folk are trying to make you buy a product they are sponsoring. Do they help if you are in an accident? I’m not sure. Yes, they probably do now, but in the future when everyone has one will it just muddy the water? The jury is still out.

Came home and finished off the painting of Kotor bay with the two little islands.  Quite like it.  Heavy on the impasto though it is.  Scamp made dinner and it was an old favourite, Carrot and Chickpea Curry, which isn’t all that curry like because it’s not very hot, but today’s offering was very, very tasty. Even better, there’s some left over for tomorrow’s dinner!

The reason I couldn’t get the snail shot this morning was because I had my ‘ballroom shoes’ on. I got them years ago when Scamp and I were taking ballroom lessons. I’ve hardly worn them because they’re not the most comfortable shoes and they look a bit posh. However, I reckoned they would be better than trainers for dancing on a dance floor, so I wore them about the house this morning to break them in again. I wore them tonight to the beginners class and they do make turning a lot easier. However, Jamie G decided to do Kuduro at the end of class and I had visions of me landing flat on my face or worse still doing the splits so I chose the easier path and changed back into my trainers, just in case.
There were a lot more people in the advanced class than last week. Word must have got out that Shannon was threatening to close the class down. We’ll have to see what happens next week. Hope it stays open. It’s a bit more relaxing than Monday’s advanced as we’ve done most of the moves and feel more comfortable with them.

Tomorrow is looking like another good day. I may go car hunting.

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Musical Chairs – 22 August 2017

Today we chose not to go to the gym or the pool, but instead went looking for a new suite.

Scamp chose the Birkenshaw Trading Estate as the best place to browse for a suitable replacement for our sagging two and three seaters, but first we had to find the place. It’s no longer as simple as just scooting along the A/M8 and taking the first turnoff. Nope, since the new M8 superhighway was built, nothing is simple anymore. To get to the turnoff you have to drive on until you reach the Eurocentral exit, go round two roundabouts and then back the way you’ve come, but on the old A8 until you reach the turnoff for Birkenshaw. I suppose it made sense to someone when they were designing it, but it makes no sense to me. I was only glad I’d filled the tank before we left.

Eventually found the clutter of furniture shops all selling the same stuff, it seemed, at varying prices and with varying financial incentives. We finally settled on three front runners. Of which one was lagging behind. Scamp got fed up eventually and didn’t even bother going to Sofa King, something about the name apparently (“No need to swear.” she said!), but since she’d removed that one from the list, she substituted it with another. This was an easier drive, along London Road to DFS which is where we picked up the fourth possible contender for the Suite of the Year Award. So now we’ve got it whittled down to four suites in four different shops. She thinks we should leave it for a few days and then go again to make a final decision. I agree with that strategy, and in the mean time I’ll try to find a way round the roundabouts to get us to Birkenshaw.

We did try one more ‘shop’. This one only made bespoke suites. Yes, they did make leather suites, but it “depended on our budget!” we were told. A leather hide would cost in the region of £350 and a suite would need at least 5 hides. So, that was £1750 for the hides. God knows how much the frame would cost. We smiled and left.

Came home and calmed down with a Smokalies Base which was Skye weans talk for Spaghetti Bolognese, away back when the weans were wee. Then I declared that the afternoon would be devoted to slapping oil paint on a canvas, and very enjoyable it was too. After that and before dinner, I went for a walk in St Mo’s with the Nikon. Captured some interesting dragonfly shots, the most startling of which is headlining the blog. Prime macro lenses are such an eye opener. A must if you’re interested in nature subjects like what Scamp calls ‘Beasties’.

Dinner was a prawn and pea risotto and it was very nice, even if I say so myself. Pudding was an apple pie made by Scamp from our own apples. Even better than my risotto.

Tomorrow I’m going to skip the gym/swim thing again because I’m booked in for a coffee with Fred. May do some more painting in the morning, but I’m running low on the water base oils, so I need to get two or three somewhere. Oh yes, and it’s going to rain tonight and into tomorrow morning, so the weather pixies say.