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Stranger in a strange land – 31 January 2018

Today I left the real world and entered the world of darts, hems, gussets and linings. I went on a cloth hunt.

Scamp gave me a lift to the station and I caught the express train to Glasgow Queen Street. The express only makes one stop, Glasgow Queen Street. Take note First Bus. Not twenty stops. It, the train also takes about 12 minutes to get to Glasgow from Croy. The ‘Express’ X3 takes about 40 minutes. I could go on, but what’s the use. We’re stuck with the slow bus. That said, the bus stops at all the stops it’s supposed to while the train sometimes misses a station if it’s running late, but only about 20 times a day says the Scotrail representative as if that’s ok then. Ok as long as you aren’t running to a tight schedule and need to get to a meeting, or an appointment, or anything really. Ok as long as it’s not the Scotrail representative who misses his station. He probably doesn’t have that problem anyway as Jaguars and Daimlers are fairly reliable cars, so he never has to travel by public transport.

It was raining and then sleeting in Glasgow. Such a change from yesterday when the sun shone almost all day, or so it seemed to us. Today I was out getting cloth, sorry, fabric, lets speak the language of the country we’re in. I was buying fabric for a waistcoat I’m making. It’s part of the Christmas present from Scamp. She bought me the pattern and I got to choose my fabric, then I have to make it. A waistcoat seemed easy to start with, but now that I’m getting to the nitty gritty of it, it’s not that simple. However, I got some help from the assistants in a couple of shops today and now have some Tweed, some Cotton, some Viscose lining and some Satin. Probably enough to make two waistcoats. Hopefully it will look a lot better than the boxers, Hazy. I was shocked at the price of some of the material (Material is similar to Fabric, I believe). I foolishly thought it was going to be fairly cheap to make your own clothes, it’s not. And all those new words I’m picking up. Now I know how my pupils felt when they met strange things like Tenon Saws, Sash Cramps and Ball Pein Hammers. Every skill has its own terminology and I’m beginning to learn the correct words and grammar for this skill.

Got a few photos round the town when I was wandering around, but most were rejected after I’d had a good look at them on the computer. The bloke crossing the road was a grab shot, but I liked it the best, so it’s my PoD.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get the paper pattern cut out for the waistcoat and as Scamp is going out tomorrow night, I might have a go at a mock up, hopefully without too much mockery!

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Once upon a time 47 years ago – 30 January 2018

Yes, on the 30th of January 1971, Scamp and I met for the first time. She wasn’t called Scamp then, she laboured under her old name, but not for long!

We’d already planned to get the bus into Glasgow today and that’s what we did. Just waited at the bus stop for less than five minutes when the bus arrived. It was going to be a good day.

Walked through JL without visiting the ‘Toy Shop’, the one on the second floor that has the computers, tablets and cameras. No, I was going to be brave, I wasn’t going there today. Straight through and out the other side without with hardly a backward glance. Then down Bucky Street in bright sunshine and a cold wind down to Nero at St Enoch’s for coffee. From there we took the subway out to Byres Road, but not before I got today’s PoD which is at the top of the page. There’s another one from the same spot taken a few seconds before that way, vying for first place, but dropped to second because it didn’t fit my title just as neatly. It did, however get a place on Flickr, so I’ll let the great Flickr public decide which is the stronger.

At the West End we went for a walk to the Botanic Gardens and showing my resolve again, I didn’t go in to the Kibble Palace and waste gigabytes of space taking shots that I knew in my heart of hearts wouldn’t work. Instead we walked round the gardens in that cold wind, although the sun had disappeared. We saw what appeared at first to be a union meeting. Lots of folk in hi-vis jackets being harangued by some bloke. On closer inspection and with a bit of earwigging on my part, it appeared that they were in fact being given fairly detailed instructions on pruning plants, by a professor type bloke, you know the type; long hair, long beard, no hi-vis, very animated. The sort of bloke “who speaks loudly” in restaurants as John Cleese once said. The hi-vis brigade looked really bored, not to say pissed off. My heart went out to them.

Actually, we agreed that this was the first time we’d ventured further than the hothouses in the park and there were a lot of interesting things to see. Well, let me rephrase that to; there will be a lot of interesting things to see there once they are actually growing (and when the cold wind has gone). Definitely worth checking out in a few weeks time.

We walked down Byres Road and had lunch in Usha’s Indian restaurant (no professor types speaking loudly though). Got the subway back to Glasgow and went for a wee drink in Lauder’s Old Folks Home Bar. Drink was cheap and we were close to average age for the clientele. This was a quote from a bloke speaking to Scamp, think about it:

“You stop liking snow when you have to buy your own shoes”

Here’s a last thought for two of my readers. If it wasn’t for two folk going to a party forty-seven years ago, And if it wasn’t for one of those folk losing a guitar on the train, you wouldn’t be here today!

Tomorrow, I may return to The Toon. Looking for a bit of Tweed!

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Semi-Supermoon – 29 January 2018

Well, the day started out well with bright sunshine, but it soon deteriorated into the norm. Grey skies. Later in the afternoon it cleared up nicely.

For weeks now I’ve been meaning to put the Christmas decorations up into the loft. Today I did it. Unfortunately, I made two discoveries.

  1. There’s a leak in the roof. I think it must have been a gradual process and occurred a week or so ago when all the snow was lying on it for some days. Need to get it looked at.
  2. There’s a bloody big spider in a beer bin I’ve got in the loft. It was easily as big as my hand. No, it was definitely bigger. In fact it was walking about in the loft with the beer bin on its head as a hat. Nah, it was big, but not enormous. I let it be.

Right, one problem solve and another created. We’ll need to get someone to look at the roof, specifically the ridge tiles, because that’s where the water I coming in, probably at the joints. With all the wild weather we’ve been having, I bet the roofers will be busy just now.

Went for a walk down the Luggie today to take my mind of giant spiders and leaking roofs. Got a couple of nice pictures of the moonrise above the pines. The bit thing just now is the Blue Blood Supermoon due to be seen across America on Wednesday night. A Blue moon is when there are two full moons in a month
A Blood moon is something to do with an lunar eclipse when the moon is at its nearest point.
So what I saw wasn’t a supermoon, it was a semi-supermoon! Still looked good.

Salsa tonight was a house full in both classes. Monkey has been re-worked again and emasculated even more until it’s no fun to dance at all. The new one from last week has been forgotten by the looks of things and we reprised La Cuadra but Jamie couldn’t remember the ending. A tiring night and not a very successful one. Maybe it was just me.

Tomorrow I think we may go in to Glasgow for a wander.

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Into the teeth of a gale – 28 January 2018

This morning, after a call from Hazy, we drove down to Glasgow Green for a walk and a chance to blow the cobwebs away. The wind was rising, so there was a good chance that something would blow away.

We walked down to the west end of the park, turned and had the wind on our back as we took the path beside the river which was a dirty brown colour and with more than its usual shared of tree trunks, branches and dead crocodiles floating in it. When we got to the boathouse, we were surprised to find loads of ‘oary boats’ sitting outside it, all shined up and sparkling in the well filtered sunlight. There were also a lot more cars than usual beside the building. Surely they weren’t going to have a race today down river into the teeth of a gale and all the while trying to avoid the obstacles in their path. While I was photographing the boats, Scamp was earwigging and heard that the start was to be at 1.30pm. We walked up to the suspension bridge and noticed that the Humane Society safety boats were out on the river and a few crews were practising. It looked like they were going to go racing today.

We decided that we’d go and have lunch in the Wintergarden and then perhaps, just perhaps, we’d come down and see if there were any of the silly buggers paddling down the murky waters of the Clyde. While we were waiting for our lunch (soup for Scamp, roll ‘n’ sausage for me) to arrive, I did a wee sketch. Facebook’s ’28 Drawings Later’ is just around the corner, so it’s time to get the psychomotor skills honed. It’s not brilliant, but it’s done.

With lunch done and dusted, we decided to go watch the nutters. There was quite a crowd on the bridge and Scamp engaged the bored looking man with the clipboard who told her that while we’d been stuffing our faces, the Division 1 race had gone down the river and that the Division 2 race was about to start. We waited and were soon treated to a quarter or an hour or so’s of races. Some looked fit as fleas, some looked like they just wanted it to be over so they could stand under a hot shower for a while. I got some photos. I’d previously been shooting the water cascading over the tidal weir at the end of the course and the camera was set to shutter priority with a slow speed set. (Sorry JIC that was <Technospeak>. There will be no more. ) I thought I’d just wasted two shots, but when I had a look at them they were interesting in an abstract way. Set the camera back to a sensible arrangement and went on shooting, but halfway through, got fed up and went back to ’interesting in an abstract way’ settings.  (It was one of those that got PoD – Bottom Right.) After the last pair had pulled themselves exhaustedly under the suspension bridge the crowds began to drift away to commiserate or congratulate their individual champions. Only the man with the clipboard was left, waiting for Division 3 to make their appearance. Having nobody to congratulate or commiserate with, we went home.

My marinade worked quite well. Too much olive oil and not enough herbs. Plus, the dinosaur bone really needs to be slow cooked. The ‘sear then bash into the oven for an hour’ technique didn’t quite cut it. I have another plan, and another dinosaur bone too. I’m ready to try again.

Tonight the wind got even windier and I was glad we were parked up early, although one of the trees outside was making some dangerous sounding creaky noises. It’s still blowing a gale now.

Tomorrow, it definitely depends on the weather, but no Gems! Hooray!

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Not going out – 27 January 2018

This was the day after day at the seaside

Dull, rain and wind. That sort of summed up today. We’d half intended going to Dunfermline on the bus, but Dunf isn’t the most exciting destination on a good day, in the wet and the wind it wouldn’t have been worth the effort, so we just stayed in.

I did go out for a walk in the afternoon, just to get out of Scamp’s hair and to look for a PoD. The alien landscape above is it. It’s actually Cladonia lichen on a boulder in St Mo’s. For some reason there were thousands of them there today. Maybe it’s the unseasonably warm weather that’s made them sprout, but lichen are not fast growing, so that’s an unlikely reason. Answers on a postcard please.

Dinner courtesy of Golden Bowl, but a miniature dinosaur’s bone marinading in the fridge for tomorrow. Found a website that gives a formula for a marinade. Basically it’s an olive oil base with some garlic some acidic liquid and some herbs. Blitz the lot and put the meat in a zip-lock bag then pour the marinade over it. Seal the bag and leave for up to 24 hours. I’ll report back on the success or otherwise tomorrow.

Watched Trainspotting T2 tonight and loved it. Especially good was the extra feature with the four (five) of them talking.

No plans for tomorrow, but MUST go out somewhere!


Today’s Marinade

1/2 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 sprig thyme
A few basil leaves
Small handful parsley

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Out for a Spin – 26 January 2018

Today we went to the seaside.

We had decided that if the weather was kind to us we’d go out west and head for Troon. We walked in blinding sunshine along the beach for a mile or so with all the dog walkers and their assorted dogs. The sea was well out today, the tide must have been at its lowest point. Although the sun was low and very bright, it was cold but for once there was no wind. I think Scamp would have walked further, but I called a halt after about an hour and we turned and made our way back the same way we’d come. Scamp said it was just like being on the treadmill at the gym. I think that’s the wrong way round. Surely the gym imitates life, not the other way round. Anyway, I’ve still to see this marvellous video attraction. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try it out next week and not have to tap the sand out of my trainers afterwards.

Lunch was in Scotts which is becoming a firm favourite. Every time we go there it’s like being in the Crews Inn at Chaguaramas in Trinidad. The temperature is a bit different and the distant scenery is too, but the boats in the marina and the general layout of the place remind us both of a wonderful lunch and the most alcoholic sangria I’ve ever tasted. No alcohol today because I was driving, but Erdinger’s Alcohol Free ‘beer’ is now top of the list for a beer flavoured drink. Food was Chicken Stroganoff followed by Seasonal Fruit Crumble for Scamp and a Beef Burger followed by Key Lime Pie for me. The whole thing rounded off with coffee and the shortest shortbread I’ve had in a long time. Lovely! Service could have been a bit quicker, but otherwise it was excellent. We both agreed it was a great day out at the seaside.

PoD was the red boat passing Arran, although it was a tough call between that and the people silhouetted on the beach. The bottle was just a fun grab shot for a Flickr group called One Bottle.

Tonight we made the decision and we are going on a cruise in the summer. Not a balcony cabin, but an Ocean View. Next best thing. Booked and deposit paid.

Tomorrow? It looks like rain, so we may be going more local than today. It all depends on the weather. How many times do I end a blog with that?

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Back on the Shelf – 25 January 2018

I got a pair of shoes in the Clarks sale last week. They looked good, they fitted me, I should have known something was wrong.

Scamp was going for a gym induction today at 2pm. The morning was free, so we decided to go to Stirling and return the shoes that looked good, fitted, but offered less support than an old pair of slippers (I don’t wear slippers – I’m not that old). Scamp had to accompany me because the shoes were bought on her card. It felt a bit like being taken to the shops by your mum, except I drove! She got the money back on her card and I went for a browse in Waterstones, but didn’t see anything that interested me. Had a coffee, stocked up on things we didn’t really need at Waitrose as we passed and drove home.

As I said, Scamp had an appointment at the gym at 2pm and as none of my coffee fiends were coming out to play today, it gave me a chance to tidy up some of my rubbish from the living room and dump it upstairs. My next painting project is going to be a self portrait. I’ve tried doing it by looking into the mirror, but why do that when I can take a photo and print it out, pin it to the easel and work from that. It worked with the painting below so perhaps it will work with me too. You’ll find out when I have finished, whenever that may be.

After taking my selfies I gathered up my Olys and took them for a walk down along the Luggie Water. There was a fair bit of water coming down today probably fuelled by the last two days rain and also the snow melt. I’d missed most of the good light, but I did get a couple of images I was pleased with in the 24 shots I took. I’m being a bit more cautious with shots now. I still take a lot, but don’t keep them all.

Today’s PoD was the monochrome pic of the concrete bridge arches.

Scamp found the gym induction quite interesting. I didn’t know that on the treadmill you could get a little animation of you walking along a beach. A bit twee, but worth a laugh. Better than just seeing the time clicking away. Must play with that next time.

Tomorrow seems set to be a bit brighter and better, if not warmer. We may go for a spin.


My Workflow

  1. The first thing I do after I’ve downloaded the photos from the card is go full screen and select shots that have some potential. In Lightroom they get a yellow flag. (Only that selection makes it through at the end of the month. The unflagged get deleted.)
  2. After the initial selection I go through the yellow flagged shots and work on them to see if there are any that will make it to PoD. Potential PoDs are given a red flag. Any yellows that aren’t so good after all have their yellow flag removed and will meet the fate of the other unflagged ones at the end of the month.
  3. With the red flagged images selected, I pick the best one (It’s usually a foregone conclusion) and give it five stars. That’s PoD. All reds get uploaded to Flickr. Five star shot goes into the 365 album and the remainder go in the Nearly a 365 album.
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Dancin’, Dancin’, Dancin’ – 24 January 2018

Today we went in to Glasgow and learned more waltz steps in half an hour than we ever learned in all the Hamilton classes years ago. We’ve done Box Steps, Whisks and even Wings today.  I’m not saying we are perfect in our stepping, but the basics are there.  The jive class? Not so successful, but I managed to keep in time most of the time and you can’t expect much more than that from me, the Two Left Feet man. I think that’s what it is. I’m having problems getting my feet to move properly. Salsa is such a lazy dance for the leader. The footwork is very simple and most of the time, repetitive. In salsa it’s the hands that do most of the work. The feet just mark time and help you get out of the follower’s way. We’ll stick at the new stuff and hopefully with a bit more practise at home I’ll be able to coax these feet into doing what my head tells them to. I’ve got two weeks to get my act together because there is no class next week unfortunately.

After a coffee and a discussion on our thoughts of the class, then a walk round CassArt we went home to rest for a couple of hours before we were out again for salsa. Three dance types in one day. We had to drive through terrible traffic tonight which meant I was in an equally terrible mood, mainly because I’d noticed yesterday that Rangers were playing at home against Aberdeen. That meant the motorway would become a car park. I’d told Scamp that we really needed to leave early for tonight’s class, but we still left at our usual time and joined the car park near the Royal Infirmary. From there it was just a case of switching lanes to the fastest one and then switching back when it slowed down too. We did get to the west end about 15 minutes later than a normal night, but both of us were in a foul mood, each blaming the other. Salsa sorted that out and we came out with smiles on our faces.  We always do.

Today’s photos were taken walking back from the earlier dancing. PoD was the shot of the badminton murial (yes, I know it’s a mural, but I like to think of it as a ‘Murial’ – My blog, my rules!)

Tomorrow we’ll aim to be calmer. Scamp is going to get tuition on the machines of torture in the gym and I’m hoping to cover another piece of corrugated cardboard in paint (maybe oil paint this time). That’s after we retrieve our shiny new green and brown bins which should be getting emptied for the first time tomorrow.  Such excitement!

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All Gone – 23 January 2018

The last of the snow had disappeared overnight. We were back to grey skies and rain.

In the afternoon Scamp drove us to the gym. She was eager to use her new gym card, but the computer was not feeling well so she couldn’t log in. As one of the regulars said “Every week there’s something else broken in here”. Did my usual rounds of the torture machines and added in an extra five minutes on the cross trainer. It was supposed to be ten minutes, but I considered I’d been cross trained enough in those five minutes. After the gym I went for a leisurely swim interspersed with ten minutes in the sauna and ten minutes in the steam room. Scamp was so impressed with her new card that she booked another afternoon of torture (with an instructor) for later in the week. I think I’ll just stay un-instructed and just keep well away from the cross trainer. Maybe it was having a bad day and was a really cross trainer today, who knows.

After we got back and after undoing all that good work with two rolls ’n’ sausage, the sun broke through the clouds, so I grabbed the Olys and went for a walk over St Mo’s. With the snow all washed down the hills, the water in the pond was a lot higher than normal and so was the water coming out the overflow. That’s where I got my PoD. It’s a slow shutters speed shot of the wee burn in spate. Quite impressed with it after about six attempts at different shutter speeds. This one was 1/8th sec.

Did a wee bit more painting of trees before dinner (risotto with peas and prawns, since you asked) in the style of Paul Bailey.  Google him.  I like his style.  Very rough, not a lot of detail.  Scamp isn’t impressed.

Sitting watching my old Nexus 7 rebuild itself after a full factory reset as I type this. Sometimes it’s the only way to get them working properly again.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Hopefully Jive and Ballroom in the afternoon and then Salsa at night.

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Snow Begone – 22 January 2018

Well, the thaw started last night and seemed to have continued its good work through the night.

Green grass was revealed in the garden, front and back as the temperature rose. It continued to rise throughout the day and even now as I’m writing this the outdoor thermometer is showing 6.1ºc. That said, it was a bit of a dull day, overcast with grey cloud. We shouldn’t complain, though, because that’s what was keeping the temperature up.

We dusted the last of the snow off both cars and then I drove us to the dump to toss the old microwave into the skip. It joined at least eight others in the ‘Small Electrical Items’ skip. Had they all been hit by some electronic lurgi at the same time or had everyone got new microwaves for Christmas? I don’t suppose we’ll ever know.

After lunch I did consider going to the gym and the steam room for half an hour as I had a crick in my back that just wouldn’t go away. However, it seemed a shame to waste a silent Monday as Gems had been cancelled today because the paths, although thawing, were still quite slippery. It gave me a chance to just sit and finish today’s ‘mild’ Sudoku. After that I set to, to copy a painting I’ve got sitting on my cork board wallpaper on the iMac. Instructions for making a cork board are down here. I wasn’t all that happy with the first attempt, but then chopped a piece of corrugated card from the microwave box and painted a much better one. Well, it looked good at the time, but it may look different in the harsh light of another day.

Salsa tonight was good and we were back to Gorila again, then Jamie G changed the ending and, in my opinion totally destroyed it. He took out the lovely tricky twisty bit and put in a bland enchufé as a finish. He even gave it a ridiculous name ‘Monkey’. Possibly because he’d made a monkey out of it. His other new one is called ‘The New One’. Nothing new there. We did one more new move called Enchufé Clap which is just silly. Enchufé then clap in the air, clap behind your back, clap below your left knee, clap behind your right knee. Hmmm.

PoD was a grab shot in the dull afternoon and is possibly the worst PoD this year.

Hopefully we’ll get out somewhere interesting tomorrow and get some photos took!


Make A Corkboard

The idea of a cork board as a wallpaper came to me some time ago and it’s an easy one to implement. I downloaded a cork board image from the net and tiled it up to cover the iMac’s enormous screen. That it the base.

Now whenever I see an interesting picture or sketch I use Cmd + Shift + 4 to create a clipping tool to grab the image or part of the image as a .PNG file and save it to the desktop. To add the image to the cork board I just open the cork board image in my photo editor, (I use Pixelmator, although Photoshop does the same thing) and drag the picture into the cork board image in the photo editor, then resize it and position it. It’s on a new layer, so it floats above the cork board image.

I now save two versions of the background file. The first file is in the native format of the photo editor. This will ensure that all the different layers are saved and it’s this one I’ll reload the next time I’m going to add another idea clip. The next file to be saved is a .JPG file that will be the actual wallpaper. Make sure you remember where each one is saved, because they are not interchangeable. Finally, I just right click on the background and select Change Desktop Background. That’s how it works on a Mac, but YMMV depending on your OS.