15 Dec

Untrained – 30 September 2017

We had intended to take the train to Embra today. Scamp even drove us to the station in her car, but …

When we got there we found out that due to safety checks on the line between Haymarket and Waverley, trains (if they weren’t cancelled) were stopping at Linlithgow, about 20 miles from Embra, and it was up to you to get from Linlithgow to Embra. That’s Scotrail for you. Make it up as you go along. If the problem is between Haymarket and Waverley, both in Embra, why are they stopping the trains 20 miles away? That’s a pretty big safety zone.  Must be the wrong kind of leaves on the line again.

Anyway, we told the nice ticket man that we wouldn’t be travelling on his maybe-not-cancelled train today and drove home to change cars and drive (me driving this time) to Perf, not Embra. It was a pleasant drive up the A9 to the Fair City of Perth. Car performed perfectly and I finally got the hang of the new cruise control. I also tried out the speed limiter, but that’s not as much fun. Best of all, I tried out Sport mode which gives you a nice little whack of G-force as you accelerate! Only to be used sparingly as it does eat up your fuel consumption. All in all it’s a really nice car to drive. I’m very impressed.

Perf was busy as usual on a weekend. Far too many people around I much prefer going on a weekday. Got some coffee, some tea and some dried fruit to make my breakfast compote. Fruit for the compote, there’s no coffee or tea in it. Just thought I’d make that clear. While we were there and while Scamp was shopping in Marks, I wandered round the outside of St John’s Kirk, the big church in the middle of the town. I got a sketch done. It’s a bit ropey, but with a bit of tweaking from the photo I took, it should do. Tomorrow is the start of Inktober 2017 and I need to get myself back in harness to do a sketch a day. There’s a wee challenge for you Hazy. One sketch every day, posted on Flickr. You can add it to my group if you want. Only one real rule. The predominant medium must be ink, hence the name. You too, JIC. Get started sketching. Fifteen minutes in your lunch break is all you need!!
Today’s PoD is a wide angle shot from the walk round the church. I also liked the monkey gargoyle!

A couple of weeks ago Scamp came across an envelope from a school venture with a £10 note in it. It was surplus money from a school trip we went on twenty odd years ago. It wasn’t my money and the school doesn’t exist any more, so today it went into a charity tin in the Heart Foundation shop in Perf. They will be able to use it. I’d already checked with the bank and it was still legal tender.

Back home, dinner was a Scamp speciality, Prawn Stir fry. Spicy and hot, but very, very good.

I’d been reading a book about painting with pastels in an Oxfam bookshop in Perf.  I don’t think you draw with pastels, you paint with them.  I hadn’t really used pastels, except for messing around with them for a graphics topic for school.  Today I pinned a sheet of Ingres paper on an old drawing board and painted a landscape.  The same one I’d been tentatively poking paint at for the last week.  This one took maybe half an hour?  It’s rough, but I like it.  Maybe I’ll fix it and frame it.

Tomorrow looks wet. I think we’re going dancing at night because the usual Sunday Social venue is double booked and we lose. Should still be fun.

15 Dec

Flying Solo – 29 September 2017

Today it was my turn to go for coffee.

Before I went I did the underpainting on my Rannoch Moor painting. It’s beginning to look better now I’ve got the proportions sorted out.

Just after midday, I met up with Val and Fred in Costa. I drove there in the Juke. I was flying solo for the first time. No Scamp as radio operator and navigator. Just me and the Juke. And I was fine. So was it. I even got a chance to use the windscreen wipers during one of the heavy rain showers we had.  I also managed to get parked almost straight and in the box at Tesco, thanks to the reversing camera.

It was when I was walking into the Antonine Centre that I realised I hadn’t taken my old satnav from the Megane. I know I won’t need it again, but I couldn’t get it out of my head.

After coffee and a discussion of the state of the world, I drove Val home and he too remarked on the different view you got from the Juke’s elevated seating. After that I went to fill the tank for the first time. The garage had given me half a tank to get me started, but I wanted to fill it to the brim. Surprisingly it cost me just £30! Then when I got back in the car I realised that the petrol tank was much smaller than the Megane. It only holds about 45 litres which is worth about 300miles. That’s just enough to get us to Skye. The Megane took about 60 litres. Oh well, I’ll just have to be more frugal in my driving style, I suppose.

Came home and decided to go out to St Mo’s in the rain to get some photos. I was surprised to find the dandelions still setting seeds. I liked the detail rendered, and that’s why it got PoD. Out behind the forest I saw a trio of Garden Cross spiders on their webs. One male and two female apparently. Troilism in spiders! Who knew?

Then the salesman from the garage phoned to ask how I was finding the car. That was my chance to ask him if the satnav was still in the Megane. He went and had a look and said it was there. He even offered to drop it off on his way home. I said no, that we’d come and pick it up during the week. He must have thought I was mad. Here I am with an up-to-date large screen satnav in the car and I want my old Navman back? It’s the principle of the thing though. It put my mind at rest.

Dinner was a Chicken, Mushroom and Kale pie. Quite delicious and totally gone now.

Maybe off to Embra tomorrow. Not driving though, train is less stressful.

15 Dec

J Day – 28 September 2017

The overriding topic of the day was the Juke. Everything else paled into insignificance.

The day started with Scamp heading off to have coffee with her aunt. I struggled with an app on the Samsung. On the Mac it would have been easy and on the PC I had already solved the problem, but it was becoming a challenge to get it working on android. I finally solved it and got a grid of squares on a photo which I could then transfer on to a canvas. The squaring up was next to do and I then realised that it had been a mistake to paint the ground of the canvas brown when I was going to sketch on it with charcoal which is black. After a frustrating hour of programming and sketching, I gave up and painted over the brown ground with a creamy yellow. I left it to dry just as Scamp returned from her meeting with lunch in paper bags marked ‘Greggs’.

After lunch we took a deep breath and drove the Megane to Stirling. An hour or so later we returned with a shiny bright red Juke after signing my name about a dozen times. The drive was comfortable and smooth. The car felt solid and dependable, but only time will tell. Scamp was delighted with her bouquet of flowers from the dealership too.

After a cup of tea and a read through the manual we set off for another drive. This time I had a fair idea how to use cruise control and how to program the radio and the sat nav. We found our way to Kilsyth and parked at Lidl to buy some ‘messages’ and then took a more twisty, turny road home along beside the canal. There are still some mysteries to investigate in the next few days, but that’s the way it should be with anything new. One disappointment was discovering that Nissan want to charge around £150 for an SD card with the latest map data for the sat nav. I don’t think I’ll be going that path. I may look at a famous internet auction site when the time comes.

When we got home we celebrated the purchase with the bottle of prosecco which came from the dealership too.

Today’s PoD were a couple of cryptic views of the new car, of course. What else could I choose on this bright and sunny day. All shades of yesterday have gone.

Coffee with Fred and Val and then what? Perhaps a short spin? Yes, I think so.

15 Dec

Dull, Dull, Dull – 27 September 2017

There’s not a lot you can say about today. Certainly not a lot of good things anyway.

The highlight of today was driving to B&Q to buy a stepping stool and a new shower head. Now how’s that for excitement? We didn’t go for a walk. We didn’t go for a swim. We didn’t do anything.

Drove in to Glasgow to Salsa and found out that although Jamie G took the depleted beginners class, Shannon was taking the advanced class so I proposed a sharp exit. Shannon has had her fun with me as her whipping boy, but not any more. She runs a good business, but she isn’t a teacher. That’s an hour of my life I wanted to enjoy, not be told I wasn’t doing things right (i.e. her way.) We left. Just to put the tin lid on things, it rained all the way home.

Didn’t even take any decent photos because the light was so poor. Today’s PoD if you can call it that is three of Scamp’s bus-stop ladies made by Geof Cox.

Tomorrow will be better because, for one thing, tomorrow is is ‘J Day’. Hoping to paint in the morning.

15 Dec

Out to lunch – 26 September 2017

First job today was to clean out the car. Yesterday, the outside. Today the inside.

I used three poly bags and the KFC method again:

  • K = Keep – goes out and comes back in
  • F = File – goes somewhere else
  • C = Chuck – it goes in the bin

Most stuff went into the K or C bags with a few things finding their way back into the house again to be checked over before going through the KFC cycle again sometime later. It didn’t take as long as I anticipated and then it was time for lunch.

Scamp suggested going to the gallery at Clachan of Campsie. I wasn’t so sure, because the last time we went there the place was ruled by a rather superior lady who was definitely doing us a favour by allowing us into her cafe and also allowing us to pay for our meal. I needn’t have worried. The place was under new management and my soup and a sandwich were very, very good. The chicken soup was quite thick, warming and although a bit tasteless to start with, benefitted greatly from a pinch of salt. The sandwich. Hmm. Who in their right mind would combine chunks of Brie with thin slices of apple and a drizzle of honey, yes honey then wrap them in slices of unbuttered brown bread? Absolute genius. In my mind it ranks with Beetroot and Cheese toasties and Cheese and Marmalade pieces (sandwiches to you if you’re english). Such a brilliant flavour combination. I’m going to make it for my lunch some time this week. Scamp doesn’t like honey and as it’s the hook the whole thing hangs on, she doesn’t get any. Scamp had lentil soup, poor soul. She missed the flavour bomb!
The down side of the Gallery was the gallery itself. The paintings were awful. Twee wee landscapes that I’ve grown out of and uninspired, dull landscapes in big frames. That’s not photography, that’s taking bad foties. However, the food was good and the service was with a smile. Oh yes, and we had a cake between us. A Vienna Sponge that tasted great. We will be back DV. Oh, by the way JIC, Wheelcraft is still there and still doing a roaring trade.

Drove up the Crow Road to the big carpark with the panoramic views around East Dunbartonshire. (There is that anomaly again. Dumbarton is the county town of Dunbartonshire. Why is it spelled differently then?) That’s where the landscape shot came from. Ok that’s where the landscape shot originated from before I painted in some sunny patches and darkened the sky , oh and … You get the idea, don’t you. It may be fake, but it’s better in my opinion than the insipid offerings in the Gallery.

Came home and Scamp wanted to make the most of the watery sunshine and almost two dry days, so she went to cut the grass. I took my camera down the Luggie with me to try to get a better shot a scene I’d seen yesterday. The light wasn’t as good as yesterday, but I was better prepared and at least one of the shots turned out like I wanted. The the beer can ‘installation’ is PoD, in case you hadn’t guessed.

Watched part of the Invictus Games tonight and Scott Meenagh was being interviewed after coming second in a race.  He used to go the Cumby High.  He was a bit of a pain until he discovered drama.  When he left school he joined the army and lost both legs when his Landrover hit an IED.   He became quite a celebrity at school and rightly so.  Someone for all the kids to look up to, but a warning to them at the same time.  It was good to see him making a name for himself, and a new life for himself too.

Don’t have any plans yet for tomorrow. It might involve swimming or the gym to keep my excitement in check and Salsa at night.

15 Dec

Paperwork, paperwork – 25 September 2017

 

Checked my mail this morning and the registration document for the car had arrived. That meant it was time to get the insurance arranged. Hard to believe, but in the two weeks since I last got a quote, it had gone up by £30 from both companies, Nissan and Tesco. After a bit of moaning and wheedling with Nissan I got it down by £20. Tesco, on the other hand, were as flexible as an iron bar. No way were they going to shift an inch on their extortionate quote. Such a shame as I’d been with them for three years and their quote for the Megane had been fairly good. After a bit more paperwork and emailing we were done. Looks like Thursday will be “J Day”.

After that I spent some time swearing at Windoze 10 Creature Edition. I don’t think it will be staying with us very long. Gone, now are the days when you could just access the BIOS with a couple of keys at startup. Oh no, that would be too easy. Now you have to delve into settings, restart the machine, do more configuration on the blue screen that load and then you can access the BIOS. And then you wonder why Macs are so popular? Added to all that, it runs like a slug with a hangover. I do so wish I could go back to the original Win 10 I upgraded Win 8 to. That was brilliant, well, not exactly brilliant, but sooooo much better than The Creature From The Black Lagoon I have now.

Went out for a walk later in the afternoon after I’d taken the Megane for a wash and brush up. By then the sun started poking its face through the clouds and I found it was a beautiful autumn afternoon out there, warm too. Got some photos, two of which are above. Also saw two potentials. Will keep them in mind for tomorrow, perhaps. Today’s PoD was the Brambles. Not Blackberries, that’s for the english. These are fierce, jaggy Scottish Brambles and proud of it. If you look at the Flickr version and click to magnify it there, you’ll see a wee spider waiting to catch unwary flies enticed in to sample some bramble juice. Didn’t see it when I was taking the photo, only when I got it into the computer. The other plant’s name evaded me for years, but now I know it’s a Butterbur of the genus Petasites. There, you’ve learned something today (I learned it yesterday, so I’m a day ahead of you).

Strange night tonight, not having Salsa on a Monday is quite unsettling. Hopefully Wednesday will arrive soon and we’ll get our Latin fix.

Weather seems favourable tomorrow. We may go out for a run. In the car of course!

15 Dec

Rain and Salsa, nothing else – 24 September 2017

Rain reigned today.  It started off just dull, then the rain came and really outstayed its welcome.

Had  a Neil D lunch of last night’s Chicken Rogan Josh and it went quite nicely on toast!  Then made the mad decision to give in and allow Windows 10 to perform its upgrade to Win 10 Creators Update.  That was about 2:30pm.  It’s now about 11.45pm and it’s still doing it.  Ok, I admit I closed it down to go to the Sunday Social, but it’s been going hard at it for the last four hours and is still not finished.  I hope the Creators (or is that Creatures) are worth it.  There was a message to say that I could postpone it to allow me to back up the hard drive, but then it seemed to say “Fuck it” and started installing it anyway borking the backup.  That’s what I love about Microsoft, NOTHING.  Macs, even with the despicable El Capitan are so much more user friendly that anything Mickysoft produces.  Windows 7 was the last stable OS on a PC and then Windows 8 came along to be the ‘inbetween OS’  The one that never worked.  No Windows 9 for some reason, maybe the same reason there’s an iPhone 8 and an iPhone X, but no iPhone 9.  Windows 10 started out well, then the inevitable upgraded borked it too.  Hopefully the Creators Upgrade will sort everything out, but I doubt it.  I think I’ll just return it to factory settings after its done its worst.

On a brighter note, Salsa was really fun tonight.  Maybe that’s because we had tapas in the restaurant before the dancing started.  Scamp got to dance with the legendary ‘Jamie’.  Not ‘our Jamie’, nor Jamie Gal, but the strange and twisty turny ‘other Jamie’.  I think Scamp was quite taken aback when he asked her to dance.  She did look terrified when I saw her!!  I should explain that ‘other Jamie’ is an excellent dancer who we see at most of the socials.  We think he is a professional dancer.  A very smooth mover who likes to show off on the floor.  He often dances with guys too!  We did think he might be gay, but he appeared with his wife and wee boy.  I know that’s no proof of anything, but still …  He didn’t ask me to dance, of course.  There were lots of girls there tonight, most of them beginners or pre-beginners if that’s possible.  I danced with a couple of them, but it was more like giving a lesson than dancing.  Not that I minded.  Then I danced with another girl who could dance.  Unfortunately, I overstretched her knowledge with one move, Aficionado and tripped over her feet, landing on my bum amidst peals of laughter.  Shannon, the boss, had been videoing the proceedings earlier, but luckily she didn’t notice my acrobatics, so it’s just between you and me.  First time ever I’ve fallen on the dance floor!  Bummer.  Literally!

Today’s PoD came from the salsa venue, which was La Rambla in Paisley.  I saw it on the cistern in the restaurant toilet today. I just had to go back in and capture this chrome smile.  Glad nobody came in while I was taking the shot. That might have been a difficult one to explain away!

Just checked and as of 12:13am Windows 10, which was predicting 90minutes for the installation at 3pm, is at 92% complete and the helpful message reads:

This may take some time

This week’s sketch is just a doodle trying to sketch people for paintings and the theme is rain and umbrellas, as if you hadn’t guessed.  The weather fairies promise a drier day tomorrow and some sun on Tuesday.  Let’s wait and see.

Despite all the bad weather we’ve been having I still saw some swallows this week, so all is not lost.

15 Dec

Recovery – 23 September 2017

Yesterday, while not being a busy day, was a long one. Didn’t get to bed until the early hours of this morning. Today was to be a day of recovery.

About midday we were ready to go out and we went as far as Stirling. Bumped into Andy, Kat and the kids. Stood and talked for a while before I wandered off to see if there were any books worthy of consideration in Waterstones (there weren’t), while Scamp watched three blokes performing an improvisation from the new show ‘Coal’. I wasn’t impressed, she was. One bloke walking along behind me wasn’t impressed either, explaining to his son that the music was alright, but “those guys looked like they had never lifted a shovel in their lives.” I think that summed up my views too.

Coffee in Stirling and home via Waitrose to get some supplies. After that I spent an annoyingly long time trying to brighten a video I’d shot with the Teaser last night. Unfortunately, Lightroom doesn’t work on videos, so I downloaded the ‘free’ Lightworks which is idiosyncratic to say the least. By that I mean I eventually worked out how to do a levels adjustment with the software and got one film looking reasonable. However, when I performed the exact same steps on the second one (same format, both MP4) the levels adjustments weren’t available. In the end I gave up and posted the first one, thankfully the one I liked the best. Painfully difficult software.

Dinner tonight was from Bombay Dreams, ordered through the website.  I have never understood how that thing works.  As you go through the menus adding stuff to your list it ‘counts up’ the total cost, except it’s totally wrong.  Somebody somewhere needs to learn how to add and subtract.  The strangest thing is when you go to  the next page to actually pay, the cost is correct.  Weird!  The food, of course was excellent, as usual.

Today’s PoD was taken using an Aloe Vera plant as a ‘jungle’ prop in the downstairs toilet! An attempt at toilet humour? Possibly.

That’s basically how our day turned out. Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow, but it will probably involve dancing at some point.

15 Dec

Party Animals – 22 September 2017

“So do you think I’ll need another shirt to change into?” Question before leaving for John Carrigan and Natacha’s 110th Birthday Bash. “No” came the answer. By 11.30pm my shirt was sodden and Scamps dress was sticking to her. Wish I’d brought that other shirt now!

As you will have guessed today was the combined birthday party. Not a lot of Salsa or Ceilidh dancing, but a lot of Jive and Rock ’n’ Roll. I think I could handle jive, but I’m sure Scamp thinks I’d start dancing ‘jalsa’ which is half salsa, half jive. Well, it isn’t yet, but it would be. I already drive her crazy by inventing moves on the spot. How much more complicated would it be if we added in Jive? Anyway, we may give it a try!

Earlier in the day I framed the big A2 painting based on a London skyline and it’s hanging at the top of the stairs. Looking good too. It’s in an old IKEA frame that was just the right size and the mat is not real matting board, but a piece of cardboard Fred gave me ages ago. I think it sits well in the frame.

I went out to get some photos but the Luggie wasn’t looking very photogenic until I noticed the time and had to hurry home to get ready to go out. Then the sun came out and I got a couple of shots. This one looks good, but it could have been so much better if the light had been better earlier. That said, it’s a place marker and the 365 needed a photo, this was it.

I started writing this at 10.35pm while Scamp was dancing the Slosh or some other mindless line dance, and it’s now twelve fifty ish and it’s time for me to go to sleepy bye byes.

Nighty night readers.

15 Dec

Slipped the leash – 21 September 2017

Scamp was off to have lunch with one of her friends. I had the day to myself!

In the morning we had a Skype with Hazy. Unfortunately it was interrupted in the middle when Skype decided it was going to do an upgrade. Now I don’t mind upgrades for most bits of software (Windows excepted), but why does a communication program break into your conversation without even a by-your-leave? The answer is because it’s owned by Microsoft. The same company that decides you need the latest upgrade to Windows 10 so badly, it installs it on your computer whether you want it or not. Thought it was your computer? Nope, it belongs to Mickysoft. Unless, of course, you took the sensible route and installed Linux.

After our on-line chat, Scamp got ready and headed off. I set too to practise some ‘painting people’ after I’d filled the washing machine and part completed today’s Sudoku and made lunch. The washing machine was a timer. I had the forty minutes it takes to do a wash to do my painting, then I’d have to hang out the washing because it looked like a good drying day with a light breeze and some splashes of sun. After that it was time to go get some photos. Walked along the canal for a bit and then cut across the plantation. It was there I met today’s PoD, the dragonfly. I think it’s a female Black Darter. Quite small, only about 30mm long. It sat on the handrail of a bridge for ages. I thought at first it was sizing up a little fly for lunch, but then decided it was just sunning itself. Probably it had been listening to the weather forecast and knew the next two days wouldn’t allow for much sun bathing.

Walked back to the car and drove to Tesco to get the makings of dinner which turned out to be a truly awful curry. The best thing about it was the flatbreads. They were excellent as usual.

By the time I got home from my walk, Scamp was back home and my day ’off the leash’ was over. I think I may have a beer tonight to commiserate with myself for making such a poor curry. Must do better.

Tomorrow centres around John Carrigan’s Birthday Bash. Should be good fun.