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Halloween – 31 October 2017

What a dull, dank, dreary day.

It was almost 3pm before I risked leaving the house today. Up until the, it had been damp and dismal (I think that’s me got the ‘d’ alliteration out of my system). Even when I went out, I had to have the lights on in the car. This is such depressing weather, I can imagine how folk get Seasonally Affected Disorder well named by its acronym SAD. I’m glad my painting room has a daylight bulb in it and that the bathroom has daylight LED lights. Brightens up your day more than the weak yellowish sunlight does.

Only went out to get ‘messages’ for dinner. Do you know, I had to unlock the front door because I was the first one to cross the threshold! I wasn’t out long, but when I came back the headlights came on automatically on the car, because it was indeed growing dark.

I had already planned today’s PoD and it worked out quite well, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’. The ability to use the iPhone as a trigger for the camera is a great idea. Very useful for indoor shots.

Today’s sketch is the last in Inktober 2017 for obvious reasons. I can’t believe the number of folk who are asking on the Facebook ‘Inktober’ page if they can keep posting there. Eh, the clue is in the name. If you want to post your artwork, and some of it is so amazingly detailed, I think it must be drawn in advance, or nicked from the ‘net, then feel free to create your own page for NovINKber or some such. Me, I’m closing down my Flickr Inktober 2017 group on Friday. That gives the slow-coaches a couple of days to catch up. Today’s sketch is on toned Ingres paper and is of the workhorse of my sketching, the Micron 0.3mm pen and a bottle of white ink which I’ve re-discovered for adding highlights to the toned paper work. If I particularly feel like doing a sketch tomorrow, I’ll do one, but there is no pressure now to keep up with the one-a-day. It was fun last year and it was fun doing ’28 Days Later’ in February, but this year Inktober was a bit of a drag. Feeling burnt out now and looking forward to a rest (and a few early nights too!)

Tomorrow we are expecting more rain, so we may go to the gym.

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Feeling Sheepish – 30 October 2017

Today was Monday and it was cold when we woke. Not as cold as it was when I finally went to bed last night. Then it was just above zero!

It’s a Monday and that means Gems. I spent a few minutes in their company, which was possible because their ranks were depleted today. Margie had a cough that she thought was Whooping Cough (nasty) and somebody else was missing too. I was stuck in the living room waiting for my iMac to finish backing up and then I fled upstairs to tidy my room. Sounds like a punishment, doesn’t it, but believe me, the punishment was downstairs. As quickly as I could I made a sharp exit and drove away to Fannyside Moor hoping to get some landscape shots.

I got the landscapes, but they weren’t too scintillating, so I went for a walk along the narrow wee road towards the farm, hoping that a stray sunbeam would light up a farm in the distance. It did, but then the camera seemed to have amnesia and thought it didn’t have a card in the slot – it did. When I finally got it to realise this, the light had gone. However some sheep in a park on the other side of the road were wondering what on earth I was doing. I took some shots just in case anything interesting could be gleaned from them. Then I noticed the big pumped up looking sheep. It looked a proper bruiser and I realised it was a ram and obviously there to ‘service’ the sheep. It was standing next to a much smaller ewe and I thought they made a nice couple, so grabbed a few shots of them. As I was walking away I saw the other sheep with the earrings in. It seemed as if it was out for the day with its friends. A proper girls day out, so I took its photo too. Two certainties in the bag and neither of them was a landscape.

Came home and Gems were ready to leave, so I had a chance to looking at the shots. Both shots were good which was a blessing because it was now about 3.30 and the sky was already beginning to darken as it does in Scotland at this time of year. Dinner was pasta with carbonara sauce and it was time to make it.

Drove to the STUC for Halloween Salsa. It was a hoot as always. Balloons, sweets, glowsticks and silly rueda games. The man is simply mad as a brush and everyone in both classes agreed it was a brilliant night. Probaly the best laugh was La Confusion where the leaders and followers are reversed. Men become followers and ladies become leaders. Such a simple thing really, really messes with your head.

PoD was the “Me ‘n’ The Missus” and sketch today was The Teazer.

Tuesday, no plans as yet, although we may go for a swim.

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Summer’s End – 29 October 2017

Early this morning, the clocks went back, so we got an extra hour in bed.

It was a lovely morning, with sun streaming in through the windows, but it was really cold and tonight it is forecast to get even colder. It would have been a shame to stay in bed with all that sunshine outside, so we got up and went for a walk. Not Glasgow for a change, and not me driving either, but Scamp driving us to Colzium for a walk through the trees and round the gardens. It’s ages since we walked round Colzium.

It was the Acers that grabbed our attention. Stunning reds and yellows. No dull greens here, and with a bit of back lighting they looked even better. I even had a willing model who suggested she sit on a seat to be framed by the red acers. I got my shots and we walked on. I thought it was a much longer walk than it was. Even our convoluted figure-of-eight seemed easy by comparison with our longer walks along the canal. Having said that, the colours in the trees were wonderful, and only ten minuted from the house. However, it was cold!

Came home and the best of the day was past. The sky clouded over a bit, but not enough to cause the temperature to rise significantly. Scamp washed her car, I went to Tesco for milk and basically that was it!

PoD is the red acer (without the model) and the sketch was done from an old photo of Castle Stalker.

Tomorrow is a Monday. Not time to think on a Monday.

 

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Travelling with the common people – 28 October 2017

Didn’t drive anywhere today. We took public transport instead.

Got the bus in to Glasgow and wandered round the town. Decided to go to Paesano for lunch, but so did everyone else, so we wandered round some more. Finally I suggested we go to the West End Paesano and that’s what we did. Got the subway out to Kelvinbridge and walked along to the old bank building that now houses Paesano. Food was just as good and Scamp even managed to get a Vegan pizza with garlic, two types of courgettes, garlic, sugo and garlic. Me? I just had a number 5 which is parma ham with sugo and cheese.

Left Paesano and bumped into Dr Barbara and one of her weans, but it being the West End, he was probably one of her Children or maybe even a Little One. People in the West End don’t have weans. Walked up to the Kibble Palace at the Botanic Gardens and I got a sketch done for today’s Inktober. It’s not brilliant, but I liked its curviness. Facebook doesn’t seem to like it at all, because it won’t let me post it. Maybe it’ll allow it tomorrow.

Subway back and then the bus home. Not a bad day all round. PoD is of a wee wummin walking into the Kibble.

Tomorrow a walk in the morning perhaps.

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What’s Cookin’ – 27 October 2017

Almost from first thing this morning somebody was cooking, because Crawford and Nancy were coming to dinner.

Scamp started early on her desserts, later I was baking bread and later she was on the main course, closely followed by me doing my mise en place or to put it another way, Getting Stuff Ready for the starter. So, we were a bit backward today, starting with the desserts and finishing with the starter. In between time Scamp went for messages and, later, so did I. Wow, that was about it! Now the puddings are done Giant Jaffa Cake & Grown up Banoffee Pie. Main is nearly ready and it’s Chicken with Tarragon and Leeks. As soon as I get this finished the Mini Quiche starters will be going into the oven (how mini, just one each).  In between times I managed to get my new iPhone (named See Saw) connected and working.  Isn’t it wonderful to have a phone that can hold two days worth of music and still have room to spare.  Unfortunately, I had to sacrifice a few of my favourite apps because they won’t work on the new OS.  Oh well, nothing lasts forever.

Five hours later:
Well that went down well. The starters were consumed as was the main. The overall impression from us pair was that the Giant Jaffa Cake was too dry and the Grown up Banoffee Pie was too heavy. Scamp thought it was too chocolatey, but nothing can be too chocolatey, can it? Otherwise it was a great night with memories, stories told and jokes laughed at. What more can you ask for. Even the alcohol-free beer got a thumbs up from Crawford.

I only grabbed two shots today the best of which is above. No sketch done yet, but I’ve got a note from the boss to say I’m excused as long as I promise to catch up tomorrow.

The dishwasher’s on and sleepy time beckons at 12:20AM. G’ night.

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Caught! – 26 October 2017

Today, as promised, I drove in to Glasgow

Ostensibly I was going to buy a white pen, and a pad of coloured paper and maybe to ask for some help from one of the Apple Geniuses (or is that Genies!) and possibly to get a photo and finally, a sketch over a cup of decent coffee would help. I actually achieved all of the above, but not all in Glasgow, as you will find out.

Paperchase didn’t have any white pens nor did they have pads of coloured paper. So, it was on to Cass Art with a stop off at the Apple shop first to speak to a Genius or a Genie if one were available. I was trying to find out how to transfer the apps and their data from the Mambo No 5 to the new and as yet unnamed new iPhone SE. I got an answer and it seems like it would work, but I have to confer first with my own Apple Genius to make sure they spoke the truth. Anyway, one tick on the list.

Cass Art had the pen and it looked as if it would work for my purpose. Unfortunately the sales person was having a long discussion with someone I took to be a customer, but who turned out to be the manager. It was only when she walked round to the stand by the tills to continue the conversation that I realised she worked for Cass Art. Both of them continued to blank me as I stood waiting to be relieved of my £3. Only when I turned to replace the pen in the rack did one of them, I don’t know which, ask if I needed any help. I told them I didn’t and left. This is the second, and last time I’ve had problems with Cass Art.

With Cass Art off my Christmas card list, it was down to Millers and glory be, they did have the pen and the paper. A bit more expensive than Cass, but much better to deal with. That made three ticks on the list.

Continued my sojourn to The Fort looking for a book (it wasn’t on the list.) Didn’t get it, but I did get a photo which you will see above. Only one task to complete, the sketch possibly over a cup of coffee.

I was early for once getting to Costa in Cumbersheugh and settled in the only seat available. What better place to do some sketching than over a cup of coffee. I decided that the lady at the next table would be a good subject to sketch. Didn’t notice that she’d seen me. She even came over to speak. I’m not sure if she was impressed with the sketch, but she was impressed with my bravery, drawing in public. We discussed Landscape Artist of the Year for a while and then she took her leave. Whoever you were, lady with the striped top in Costa today, thanks for speaking. Brightened my day! Also, the last tick in the last box.

Tomorrow it’s the in-house version of Masterchef (without the fat baldy bloke.)

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A visit to the Toblerones – 25 October 2017

Today we went to visit the Toblerones.

They’re not real Toblerones, by the way. They are gigantic triangular shaped concrete blocks planted in channel between Cramond Island and Cramond shore, built during WW2 as an anti-submarine defence.  You can just see them in the bottom photo.

We parked in the new parking place on Marine Drive and went for a walk along the front in a ‘bracing breeze’. In other words, a gale. Watched other folk walking their dogs on the beach. Saw one bloke with his dog on what must have been a 50 foot leash, I kid you not! Then he looped it round his waist to save him from actually holding it to keep the dog in check. What a monkey. Some folk shouldn’t be allowed to keep dogs. Some dogs should have more sense and should run away. Maybe it did and that’s why it’s on a 50 foot leash, trying desperately to retrieve a ball that’s 51 feet away.

We had brought a packed lunch today and I was happy to get out of that cold wind (the wind is always cold over in the east coast) and have that and a cup of coffee to heat me up.

Drove back in the huff when Scamp decided to switch the sat nav off. She thought I was finished with it. Even the radio wouldn’t work. DAB radios are fine when you’re in a town or city. When your out by Kirk o’ Shotts they are useless. Finally found the FM band on the radio tonight. Such a relief to not have your reception cut out when you’re in a hollow.

Rangers were playing at Ibrox tonight and rabid ‘Gers supporters were out in their thousands, all of them on the M8. Scamp suggested that we take her short-cut through the town when we were going to the Salsa class, and proved that the human sat nav is way, way better than the Nissan one. I was impressed, but tried not to show it, because that would make her big headed. Salsa was much better this week than last. Still exhausting, but at least I got most of the moves right.

Today’s Pod is daisies at Cramond and the sketch for today is of the other kind of Toblerones 😉

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Fred and maybe a trip into the toon – solo!

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Follow the yellow brick road – 24 October 2017

Today we went to Ikea, where you have to follow the ‘yellow brick road’ round the store, except …

Actually, the yellow brick road with the arrows painted on the floor has been modernised, updated and illuminated.  Now its a light that projects an arrow on the floor.  How enterprising.  I found it less intimidating.  I could stand under the projector and the arrow disappeared.  That meant I was free to go wherever I pleased, without being condemned to go where the arrow pointed, because I was controlling the arrow!!  Excellent.  We just browsed the ground floor of the store because we were looking for a floor lamp.  We didn’t find one that Scamp liked.  I got a frame for the pastel picture and tonight I cut a mat and framed it.  It’s hanging behind me now, but it’s a bit dark in this corner and I think I might move it.

When we came out of Ikea at Braehead, Scamp wanted to go for a cup of coffee, so me being a bit flash, typed Costa into the satnav and sure enough it showed all the nearby Costas.  Off we went following the directions.  Only, it took us down a filter lane at a roundabout, then promptly changed its mind and decided we should have gone straight ahead.  Worse still, the filter lane became the slip road on to the motorway, taking us back into Glasgow.  After much swearing and harrumphing by me, we settled on going to  the Costa at Robroyston instead.  Much easier to navigate.  Possibly the worst part of the whole escapade was that I KNEW where the Costa was, I was just following the sat nav to see if it knew an alternative route.  I’ll be more circumspect when taking its instructions in future.

Back home I started looking for a website where I’d used a Java powered page that worked out optimal rebates for a picture mat.  That’s the edge bits round the aperture that you see the picture through.  I found the references to the page, but apparently the page itself has disappeared.  Every link gave an error 404 (not found).  Gave up eventually and took some useful information from a picture framers forum, then started to write my own program in Excel.  Mine only uses metric sizes, although I did see one written for Excel where you could put in sizes down to 1/16th inch accuracy.  I’m still not sure how the writer managed to code the conversion to decimal inches and then back again to fractions for the output.  Too much work.  I remember working out sizes  of bolt groups for steelwork using feet and inches and being so relived when we went over to the metric system.  Anyway, I got it working and it produces a decent mat.

After the mammoth calculations in Excel, I went out to St Mo’s to clear my head and try to get some photos.  It had been a decidedly wet drive in through Glasgow in the morning, and a dry and bright drive home, but by the time I went out for a walk it was just our usual dull.  Today’s photo I liked because of the twists and turns in the dried weed, but the ISO was 1000!

Yes, I did open the box.  I’m sure you knew I would Hazy. Like I said in the description of the sketch on Flickr:

*I opened the box, and inside was a thin slab of black glass with a silver rim. Amazingly this slab of glass can bring me pictures from all around the world and allow me to speak to people thousands of miles away. I call it black magic!*

When I look back on it, it’s been a busy day.  Most days are now we’re retired.  When did we ever have the time to work, or to put it another way, what did we have to give up to allow us to work?

Tomorrow the weather should be better than today.  We may go out and take pieces!

 

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iPhone Day? – 23 October 2017

Well, today should be iPhone day, but then, so should last Monday and look what happened there … and since!

It’s usual when you have a parcel being delivered by DPD to get a text or an email giving you a one hour time slot. Today, nothing. I waited until after eleven and checked on the DPD site and found that my parcel would be delivered between 6.00am and 10pm today. By my reckoning that’s slightly more than an hour. However, at least it did say ‘today’. Later I phoned the depot and got a voice message to the effect that it would be delivered between 5.20pm and 6.20pm today. A bit more helpful, but nothing in writing and as I’ve found, that’s what you need these days. I’ll wait, not patiently, but I’ll wait.

Other than that, I didn’t do much today. Installed a ‘free’ version of Acronis on the Linx just as Windows 10 decided it wanted to install updates and restart. That’s another computer whose access to the internet I need to restrict. This is becoming an epidemic. Operating systems that seem to think they own the computer. They didn’t pay for the computer, I did. It’s getting to the stage that the only OS worth installing is going to be Linux. At least for now, you are in control of updates.

Drove to The Fort to try to get a white gel pen. Fred phoned me while I was there to see if I was up for a coffee. I told him I wasn’t, but he did point me in the general direction of some cheap artists paint. Found the white gel pens, but at £3 a shot, declined the offer. Just to cheer myself up, on the way back I switched from Eco mode to Sport and zoomed past some traffic! It goes like stink in Sport mode, but I did manage to stay within the speed limit … just.

By the time I got back the Gems were packing up, so for once that was good timing. Salsa tonight and we have to try to remember last week’s moves. Off to try that now.

Well, the phone did arrive and it became today’s Inktober sketch, that is, its box did. “Take the money or open the box?” That was a line from an old TV show starring Michael Miles if I’m not mistaken. This box contains my new iPhone SE. I’ve had so much trouble getting it from Vodafone that I’m not sure now if I want to stay with them. So, do I take the money, ie cancel my contract? Or do I open the box and in so doing accept the contract? I think I’ll sleep on it tonight. I’ve waited over a week now for the resolution, so another day won’t matter.

Salsa tonight was much less stressful than last week, mainly because we took some time in the afternoon for a quick practise and that paid back a hundredfold when we came to dance the moves in class.

Today’s photo is of the last of the roses and the last of the sweetpeas. The rose is Alec’s Red which still grows strongly in the front garden, despite being over 40 years old.

Tomorrow we follow the yellow brick road through IKEA. Scamp is looking for a new lamp and I’m looking for a large frame for my pastel painting. Oh yes, and some Swedish Meatballs too.