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Dull, Dull, Dull – 20 September 2017

Today was very dull. The light was almost nonexistent. As a guide, we left for Salsa at 5.45pm and the car lights came on automatically and it had rained almost all day. However, before we get to that, other things happened.

Scamp had loads of ironing to do and for the first time in ages, I volunteered to help. That shows just how fed up I was. I managed to do three of my salsa shirts and two runners for the top of the drawers in the bedroom. I know she carefully filtered the selection to give me the easy ones, but at least it was five things she didn’t have to do. I managed to get them all done without burning them … or myself. I know I’ve now created a precedent, but I’ll deal with that on another day. A sunny day.

I added some watercolour to the sketch I did yesterday and it looked a bit better for that. I took four shots of a fuchsia in the garden and used Photoshop to create a ’stack’ which is just what it says. Every photo in the stack was sharp in a different area and the idea is to create a composite of all the ’good bits’ while hiding all the ‘bad bits’. I think it worked. I leave the final decision to you.

Salsa tonight was the highlight of the day. Seeing the beginners class actually dancing I mean reelly dancing was great and the numbers in the 7.30pm advanced class were very healthy again. That’s not to say they will stay healthy, we can but hope.

Tomorrow looks rainy, so I think I’ll do some painting.

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When I’m cleaning windows – 19 September 2017

Sitting in the people’s palace enjoying a roll ’n’ sausage and a fairly decent cup of coffee. I’m becoming a real coffee snob, Hazy! Scamp had her usual peppermint tea and a couple of slices of toast. It seems strange sitting here on a weekday! We’d just been on a recce to find the party venue for John Carrigan’s 60th in Ibrox, deep in Bluenose territory.

Earlier in the afternoon we were walking round Glasgow Green marvelling at three blokes who were abseiling down one of the multi-story flats. We thought they were cleaning the windows, but it wasn’t until I got the photos home and processed that it became clear that they were actually repairing the windows. They were replacing the seals. Not the sort of job I’d like to be doing, even on a beautiful day like today. However, the view from the top would have been wonderful.

After lunch we drove home and I went out to see if the dragonflies were still sunning themselves up at Fannyside. They were, but their numbers well well down from last week. Only about half a dozen rather than last week’s nineteen. This time I had the proper gear. Nikon D7000 and the Sigma 105mm macro. Maybe it was because it was later when I got there, but the little dragonflies that landed seem lazy and quite happy to simply sit there and be photographed. As usual, I got the feeling that they were sizing me up as I was photographing them. Scary things dragonflies.

In the morning, I’d put what might be the finishing touches to my acrylic painting, so I present it here for your perusal.

Salesman from the garage phoned tonight with an update on the car. It might be arriving a day or two earlier. We’ll know for sure later in the week.

Finally, we don’t have a plan for tomorrow apart from Salsa at night and yesterday’s move wasn’t Sombrero Doble, it was Balsero Dos. Almost the same thing.

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Creepy Building – 18 September 2017

It’s Monday and that means two things. Gems and Salsa.

While Gems were going through their paces I used the time to get a painting idea out of my head. I had a couple of old canvases that I’d painted over and were unallocated at present, so I started into them using some acrylics and some heavy body gel to give a bit of impasto. I was quite pleased with the effect and may work into it a bit more to brighten some areas of the hills to give it a bit more form.

That done, I drove to the Fort to buy a book from Waterstones – “How to paint people quickly” by Hazel Soan. I’m aware that I haven’t posted an ink sketch this week, but the matter is in hand.

On the way back from Glasgow, I stopped at Gartloch, where the ruin of the old mental hospital stands in the middle of an exclusive housing development. I took a few photos, but didn’t linger long. It felt like I shouldn’t be there. I can’t imagine what it must have been like being incarcerated in this victorian monstrosity. I’d heard it described as being like the set of a horror film, but it’s not until you see it, you fully appreciate what that means. I can’t understand why anyone in their right mind (no pun intended) would pay to live next to this scary big group of buildings, because this isn’t just one pile of sandstone, this is a whole group of them. No glass in the windows. Most of them and all the doors boarded up. I didn’t linger long, but I’d always told myself I’d visit it one day. It’s done now.

On a brighter note, Salsa tonight was great fun. Advanced class did Guanabo, Disco, Sombrero Doble Balsero Dos and ’The New One’.

Tomorrow we go to ‘recce’ the venue for a birthday party on Friday for John Carrigan.

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A rather full day – 17 September 2017

When we woke this morning, someone was shouting at us from a loud hailer from the general direction of the football stadium. It appeared that the Cumbernauld 10K had started. We really should go and watch.

We walked down through the new housing estate and found that the all the races had started. The 1K were already home, the 3K were due at any minute and the 10K were halfway round the pond. All this had happened while we were having our breakfast and reading in bed. We watched the 3K folk finishing and by the time their stragglers were coming to the stadium, the first of the 10K were in sight. We watched a few of them enter the stadium, then walked back along the road clapping to encourage the runners as we went. I find now if I stand in one place for too long, I get a back pain. Gentle moving eases it. Running 10K wouldn’t help though!

We did see one accident while we were watching. One man, not a competitor took a tumble on the grass beside the footpath and fell heavily on his shoulder. He started screaming in pain and holding his shoulder. The First-Aider got him to cross his arms in front of his chest and hold opposite shoulders. Classic textbook broken collar bone injury. He was eventually carted off in a wheelchair into the VIP area. Possibly that’s where he wanted to go in the first place, but a rather extreme way of getting entrance.

We walked back home and were just making lunch when JIC and Sim arrived back with Chris and Yvonne. After catching up with C & Y they left to go home and we booked an early dinner at Milano’s, then headed off to Chatelherault near Hamilton to go for a walk through the trees. We walked over the Duke’s Bridge, but when we got there and found that almost all the trees had been felled leaving the valley down to the Avon Water looking very different from the last time Scamp and I had been there. More of the Hunting Lodge was open than last time so we wandered round some of the rooms and I got some photos before we headed home.

Dinner in Milano’s was good, but the pizzas were not as brilliant as they used to be. New chef, or maybe just a weekend stand in? Only time will tell. Halfway through the meal Sim discovered that their flight had been put back 2 hours! So, would we go back home or did they just want to go to the airport? They chose to go in the hope that the flight would get away quicker.

We drove home from the airport and watched an interesting and, for once, exciting F1 GP from Singapore. I won’t say who won in case you haven’t seen it yet.

A rather full day, but an enjoyable one.

I’ve been meaning to post a weekly note on my blog to try to track down the week the swallows arrive and leave. This week I saw some swallows and this is week 38.

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Cross Country – 16 September 2017

A day driving east, then west, then back east again. Don’t say we don’t get around.

Started out driving Sim and JIC to Chris’s for them to be taken to Embra for the, as yet, undisclosed ‘Birthday Surprise. We knew what it was, but were sworn to secrecy. With the rest of the day ahead of us and no particular place to go, we headed, not for the Kokomo 1, but in a generally western direction. I thought we would go to Gourock or Helensburgh to sit and watch the sea … in the rain. Yes, it was raining, just as the weather fairies had predicted.

All was going well until we reached the Royal Infirmary section of the M8, then things started to clog up. However, our many drives through this part of the motorway meant I had the answer in my head. Never get stuck in the inside lane where all the dimwits ahead of you allow poachers to cut in in front of them. Get into the middle lane and if that clogs up, move over to the outside lane. Using this technique, the Kingston Bridge was a dawdle. Drove on past the airport and out into the country. That’s when traffic jam number 2 started. At first, after two police cars passed at a fair lick, we assumed it was an accident, then it became clear that only the inside lane was clogged. Managed to ease my way into the outside lane by choosing a decent space in front of a fairly new car. (Drivers of new cars will let you in. They don’t want to damage their shiny new car by rear-ending a dirty old car!!) Soon it became clear that the problem wasn’t an accident, well, not that we could see, but it was roadworks on the Erskine Bridge that would have taken us over to Helensburgh. So, we could confidently wipe Helensburger off today’s chalkboard. On to Gourock.

There was a cruise ship docked at Port Glasgow, the Caribbean Princess. I think she was far from the Caribbean. Perhaps she had been blown off course by the recent hurricanes. We did see some bemused looking travellers seeming to come from the ship and wonder why on earth they had been given this wet and miserable place to berth. We both knew exactly how they felt after our admittedly warmer trip to Igoumenitsa or as it will always be known to me,  ‘The Ig Place’ in Greece.

By the time we go to Gourock it was really miserable. The rain was thumping down and the Lomond hills were just smudges on the horizon. We continued to Cardwell Garden Centre near the Cloch lighthouse. It used to be a wee garden centre with a cafe. Now it’s a gigantic place with a children’s zoo, an indoor amusement arcade, a whole host of shops as well as a fairly extensive plants sections. It also sells coffee and scones. Decent enough coffee, but really, really excellent scones. Best I’ve tasted in a long time. We weren’t tempted to buy any plants and just started back the way we had come.

On the way home the weather started improving with the rain finally going to annoy someone else and the sun coming out. We stopped just outside Port Glasgow because the light was getting good and I reckoned I could get some photos. I did, but they needed some work. That’s the PoD above.

From there it was a straight run home in the dry. In fact it was under a clear blue sky.

Tomorrow is to be a better day. Don’t know where we’re going yet.


  1. No Particular Place To Go – Chuck Berry. Google the lyrics. 
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The Happy Wanderers – 15 September 2017

Today we took JIC and Sim to Devilla forest in Fife to have a walk through the trees.

Devilla is a Forestry Commission site with a fair bit of parking and a few interesting walks through well maintained woodland. At weekends it gets very busy, but on a Friday morning it wasn’t overrun. We started out in sunshine, but as we continued through, the clouds rolled in. Sim and I stopped to take some photos of the pond and later a black darter dragonfly that settled near us. There was also a brilliant green dragonfly that buzzed us, but didn’t want to settle. Then a black dog, not the Black Dog, just a labrador appeared and scared away the green dragonfly. It was as we were turning away we realised that Scamp and JIC were nowhere to be seen. I reckoned that they were ahead of us heading back to the car. Sim was of the mind that they’d taken the wrong turning, after passing the pond you see above, and were walking round the pond again. We headed back to the car, but the wanderers weren’t there. We sat and waited, then Sim phoned JIC and she had been right. They’d turned left rather than right when they passed the pond. Of course they hadn’t just walked the same path again, they’d gone ever further into the forest. Anyway, when they returned, it was time for lunch.

Lunch was in the Walled Garden, just along the road from the carpark. Food was fine and the cakes looked as good as they did the last time, but the coffee was almost as weak as Costa muck.

We drove to Pittencrieff park in Dunfermline for a walk around the flower beds. We went to get a photo opportunity of the ‘Fairy Castle’ that is in reality the City Chambers, but didn’t bother to visit the town itself. Best to view it from a distance.

Drove over the new Queensferry Crossing which was mildly mobbed. Not as bad as I thought it would be, but we were going north to south. South to north was a different story, with traffic attempting to merge from ever available angle.

Later we dropped JIC and Sim at Chris’s house in Caldercruix. The first time I’ve been there since John and I picked up Andy Taylor and took him to school, easily 25 years ago. It’s not improved.

Tomorrow after we drop ‘The Kids’ off, we may go out somewhere, although the weather doesn’t look a patch on today’s.

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Went out, lost the dog – 14 September 2017

Went to the Fort today in Easterhouse. For ages I’ve been saying that what they really needed to build in Easterhouse was a fort and finally someone listened to me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that kind of fort. It’s just a big collection of shops and cafes, but it does have a bookshop again.

Had a cup of brown water in Costa. I thought Cumbersheugh had the worst Costa. I was wrong the Fort version wins hands down. Someone should tell the ‘baristas’ that you have to refill the coffee filter for EACH customer. You don’t simply fill it in the morning and just keep using it again and again. Definitely having tea next time. Bought some Cerulean (other spellings are available) acrylic paint. Cheapest I could find was £1 for 75ml that sounds ok to me. It’s a useful sky colour.

Came home and grabbed the camera and the black dog and took them both to St Mo’s. Got some photos of a poor wee Jenny Long Legs untangling itself from a spider web, but wasn’t impressed with the results. Gave it a helping hand on its way. Turned round and the black dog had gone. The last I saw, it was following a couple out walking their Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Have fun with them Big Black Dog, people.  I won’t miss it.

Picked up JIC and Sim at Glasgow Airport and caught up over a few beers and a G ’n’ T.

Today’s PoD is of St Mo’s under a bright blue sky. A 9mm lens works wonders. So does watching the BBD disappearing over the hill.

Don’t know what tomorrow brings. A walk has been suggested. We can do that!

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Unlucky for some – 13 September 2017

Thirteenth of September. Not a good day. Went for a walk round St Mo’s about 3.30pm Only saw one black dog, and it was a cheery wee spaniel pup, but it was a big black dog that followed me home. It’s taken me about four hours to get rid of it. Those who know about big black dogs will understand what I mean. Wee black monkeys are equally bad, possibly worse because they sit on your shoulders.

Never mind, tomorrow will be better.

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Deadly in all but name – 12 September 2017

Drove in to Glasgow in the morning for Scamp’s appointment at the ‘Royal’. She was hardly in when she was back out again, but at least that means there was little to comment on, which is good.

Continued in to Glasgow and got my hair cut. Chose a conservative Nº 4 because the temperature is dropping away these days. This morning the temp was 11.3ºc when I got up, just after eight. Got a book I’d been considering ‘The Hidden Life of Trees’ in Waterstones. Cup of coffee in Nero and we were on our way back down Sausage Roll Street for the run home and a sausage roll for lunch. Before lunch however, we had to go and buy lots of things in Tesco, just to make sure their shares don’t plummet.

I went out in the afternoon for a walk, to grab some photos and to hopefully forage some brambles. Had the walk, got the photos and scraped up some brambles, but not many. Maybe it’s my lack of head insulation, but it did feel a bit cooler today, almost cold in the breeze. Came home and made Pasta Genovese for dinner. Always a good filling meal. Fiddly to make the pesto, but we can use it again tomorrow.

That’s about it. Today’s PoD is the Solanum Dulcamara or woody nightshade. The little bright red, deadly berries. Even the birds won’t eat them, that’s a good indication.

Tomorrow I am attempting to clear out the last drawer in the chest of drawers while Scamp goes out for coffee with Annette. What fun filled lives we lead.

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Nnnn Nineteen – 11 September 2017

Phone call this morning from the nurse to say that the podiatrist was off ill, so my appointment today was cancelled and I’d be given a new one. Five minutes later the nurse phoned back to say that another podiatrist had been contacted and my appointment was back if I was still available. I was.

Spent the morning putting the finishing touches to my painting. When I got to the point where as Whistler allegedly said “I can do no more to it”, I stopped and tore the A2 sheet from its spiral binding and hung it on the wall. Ostensibly to dry, but also to see if I would still like it when I walked past it occasionally. I did and it’s still drying. If I hadn’t it’d be in pieces in the bin by now.

After lunch I got ready and went to meet the podiatrist who signed me off as having a fit pair of feet, which was nice. Just what I’d expected.

Dinner tonight was exactly what I’d intended. A ragu made with the pulled meat from the dinosaur bone, served with some ribbon past I found in the back of the cupboard. It was very nice. Great way to use up the meat.

Salsa tonight was a bit frantic. One move in particular had me tied up in knots. It was called Balsero Dos and I hope Jamie G forgets about it next week, but I doubt if he will. We also did Disco(very), El Paraguas and Guanabo.

Found one of the limitations of the dashcam tonight. The detail in night driving is very poor. During the day it’s fine, but the contrast is so high at night and the frame rate and the shutter speed doesn’t allow for any detail to be recorded. This was pointed up when we were passed by a boy racer along Westfield Road. When I reviewed the footage, you could see it was a red car, and that was it. No detail. Useless as evidence in an accident.  Luckily we didn’t need it.

Today’s PoD is of a bunch of dragonflies I found sunning themselves up at Fannyside. There were an incredible nineteen of them all snoozing (I think) on an old rusted gate. One even let me get to within 30mm of her (I checked, it was a female Black Darter). All the photos were taken with the Teazer. Just shows what you can do with a point ’n’ shoot camera these days.

Early rise tomorrow when we’re off to the hospital in Glasgow for Scamp’s checkup.