Recovery time – 9 February 2019

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. So going to bed late, very late for some makes you the opposite? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Didn’t break the surface until well after 9am this morning. I consoled myself with the thought that I must have needed the rest, then after breakfast I fell back asleep. Finally got up and Scamp suggested lunch at Wagamama in The Fort. The Fort used to be a dump, but now that they’ve tidied it up, installed a coffee shop (unfortunately a Costa!) and a bookshop, not to mention Wagamama, it’s not at all bad. Yes Scamp, good call, we’ll go to Easterhouse for lunch. Bet you never thought I’d say that forty odd years ago!

Drove there and for once we got parked without a problem, unlike back at the house where it seemed that somebody was designing a slalom on the street with cars, vans and even lorries apparently abandoned everywhere. Wandered round the shops and bought some stuff that we both needed / wanted, then went to Wagamama which was jumping! Saturdays, the days when the working people go out shopping. Food took a little time to come, but it was busy. Scamp’s was not very hot, so she complained, she’s getting good at that, and got it replaced. It was a Raisukaree Curry and it looked and tasted lovely. I had a Chicken and Prawn Teppenyaki and although it was a bit dry, which was my fault for not checking, it was very tasty. Would I have it again? Probably not. I’d probably opt for my favourite Ramen, almost any flavour would do!

When we came out I grabbed today’s PoD which is the head of a bronze deer sculpture by Lucy Casson. There is a little group of them outside the restaurant. Then we went our different ways. Me to Hobbycraft to be shocked at the price they were asking for tubes of watercolour. Eight quid for the smallest tube? Luckily I’ve got plenty to keep me going. Scamp went looking for clothes. We met back at the car, both of us empty handed.

Drove to Morrisons to get ‘messages’ and the makings of pakora tonight, and that was it for the tour of The Fort. Storm Erik was still blustering around trying desperately to sound like the promised tornado, but not fooling anyone. Drove home watching the changing light on the hills caused by the clouds being ripped apart by the wind. Very pretty.

Attempted to make pakora tonight, but it wasn’t a glowing success. Couldn’t remember how to get the batter to the right consistency and as Scamp kept saying, there was something missing from the filling. Still not sure what it was. All we have now it dirty oil. It looks like somebody’s changed the oil in an old car. Need to find somewhere to dump it now.

Tonight’s sketch was done while watching a quite interesting documentary about Bowie. All these old blokes who used to be youngsters in the Spiders From Mars. Interesting part was listening to how they created the backing tracks with ancient technology.

Tomorrow we’re back to normal rising time hopefully and may go dancing later.

Out to lunch – Out to dinner – 8 February 2019

No home cooking for us today!

We were going to Larky to Crawford and Nancy’s for dinner tonight, but that wasn’t until about 7pm so the rest of the day was free for us to rampage through. We decided to go in to Glasgow to have lunch and for me to try to get the Burnt Umber paint I’d failed to get the other day. The weather was a bit wild with strong winds and heavy rain and it was forecast to get even wilder as the day progressed.

First stop was lunch, a light lunch we’d agreed, in Paesano. It was a fairly light lunch and as we weren’t going to be eating tonight until about 8pm, a pizza in the middle of the day wasn’t going to hurt. I certainly didn’t disappoint.

From there we parted company and while I went to get the paint, Scamp went to M&S to buy stuff. I bought another half pan marked Burnt Umber, it’s a dark brown ‘earth’ colour by the way, but this time after I’d bought it I immediately opened it in the shop and showed it to the girl who had served me. The actual pan was marked Burnt Sienna. This is Windsor & Newton colour. Not cheap and supposedly professional quality. I showed it to the assistant. She called the manager who went to test the actual colour. She came back and agreed that the colour in the pan was Burnt Sienna which is a much lighter orange-brown. She opened another sealed packet that was marked Burnt Umber and it too was marked Burnt Sienna on the actual pan. The last one in the rack was opened and it was marked Burnt Umber! Result!

Met Scamp and went for a coffee then we headed up past the GOMA where today’s PoD came from then home through the gathering Storm Erik. I started my sketch of the day which was oranges, new oranges, the last lot having been consumed, in an elegant bowl with lovely swirling colours. Just to be sure, I tested the Burnt Umber, checked and it did say Burnt Umber on the pan and painted a swatch only to find it was another bloody Burnt Sienna. No point going back to the shop. This time I’m writing to W&N to query their quality control.

PoD done. Sketch done. Both posted and on time, but no time left to blog. As you’ll have guessed it was written on Saturday.

June arrived bang on 7pm without Iain who wasn’t feeling well. Off we went for an entertaining night with C&N. Food and conversation was great and sitting in front of their log burning stove was just lovely. Great night. Couldn’t believe when I looked at the clock and it was just before 11.30. Home through the storm, dropped June off and home for a dram before bedtime.

Tomorrow (Today 😉 we would go out to lunch somewhere.
Spoiler Alert: We did!

A day of two halves

The morning was to be relaxing. The afternoon was not.

Not much to say about the morning, other than that we did relax. Drank some coffee, solved a sudoku. Scamp played patience on her tablet and read for a while. We went to Tesco and used a basket so we wouldn’t be tempted to buy everything. Then Hazy phoned, having read yesterday’s blog, and wanted to know what the big deal in the afternoon was. So I had to tell her about my prostate problem and that today I was going in to hospital for an examination and perhaps a biopsy. The secret was out. To be more accurate, the secret was fully out, because JIC had phoned last night and I’d told him.

Those of a nervous disposition should look away now
Got to the hospital in plenty of time. Scamp was driving because I might not have been fit enough to handle machinery after the biopsy. As it turned out, I couldn’t have the biopsy or the full ultrasonic scan because it was too soon after my recent UTI. Spoke to the surgeon and the nurse and had the situation explained to me. The nurse scanned my bladder area and declared herself happy with the result. The surgeon gave me a more personal examination. Anyone who has had it will understand what that means. Anyone who hasn’t, well, let’s put it this way, you don’t want to know. He also told me he was happy with the result, but added that I’d be getting an invitation to attend his surgery in the near future for further checks on my PSA which was not giving him any cause for alarm.
It’s OK, you can look again!

When we got back I grabbed my Nikon bag and went over to St Mo’s with a lighter heart than I’ve had for at least a week and probably a lot longer. The rain came on, but I didn’t mind. Today’s PoD entitled ‘Ripples’ for obvious reasons was the result. Walked to Condorrat in the now heavy rain and got two pineapple tarts for tonight and two Thunderball tickets for tomorrow night because today had been a good day. A day when a weight had been lifted.

I tried many subjects before I settled on tonight’s painting for 28 Drawings Later. I’m not exactly happy with it, but it fits the theme that seems to have started. It’s done and on time.

Tomorrow? Maybe a Day in the Toon. Maybe not.

Dancing in the afternoon – 6 February 2019

Not dancing all the day, just dancing.

Drove in to Blackfriars and ‘wasted time’ taking a picture of the building above while we walked down from the carpark. Every time I’ve passed the Ingram Square Building in the Merchant City I’ve liked it and wanted to photograph it, but the lighting had to be just right. It was today. I particularly like the angled turret at the top and the reflections from windows across Ingram Street. At the class we got an extra ten minutes practise. Our Jive moves today were Baskets, Step Over and Ladles. That will probably be gobbledegook to most of you, but it will act as a reminder for us, hopefully, next week. Waltz was getting a lot better according to Michael, but we didn’t do anything new. We didn’t really get any Quickstep done because I wasn’t feeling too good and we left early, just five or ten minutes early.

Why is it, when you’re in a hurry, that’s when the motorway jams up. That’s what happened today. Just about to join the M8 going home and everything ground to a halt. It turned out to be a three vehicle accident spread across the two exit lanes for Stirling. Luckily it didn’t close of the entire length of the exit lanes and we found our way back on in the great snaking line of cars and vans who were also Stirling bound.

Dinner tonight was the remainder of the chilli and Scamp was back to home food with a baked potato and tuna. Dessert was an excellent Neapolitan Choc Ice each from Tesco, where else!

Doodled a sketch of a horribly difficult Sudoku grid and that is my sketch for 28 Drawings Later. Not as detailed as some and not as colourful, but it fulfils the two requirements:  Done and On Time.

Tomorrow, hopefully a lazy morning to prepare us for a busy afternoon.

Up and out at stupid o’clock – 5 February 2019

I’d forgotten that 7.30AM existed. I used to be out the door and on my way to work at that time. That was just over four years ago and you tend to remember the good times and ignore the bad. 7.30AM was one of the bad times. Defrosted the car and picked up Scamp to take her to the train station. Her and half of Cumbersheugh seemed to on the way to the station at Croy this morning. Dropped her at the ticket office and drove off to park and walked back to check that she had caught the train. The train was already at the station by the time I got there, but I saw that familiar red hat on a person that was sitting in a seat. There’s only one hat like that in the world, Hazy!

With her safely on the first stage of her journey to Inverness to meet her sister, I drove home, had my breakfast, read my emails and went back to bed for an hour. I should have gone out and photographed that beautiful dawn sky before I went to bed, but I didn’t and I so regret it now.

When I got up for the second time today it was lunchtime and I had the last ladleful of my soup, then I went out to get a PoD under a much different sky. The clouds were Scottish Grey and as I walked to the car, the rain started. I drove down to the Luggie Water and found the snowdrops which were now blooming nicely. Using my glove as a cushion for the Oly and a Moleskine notebook as a wee tent to protect the lens from rain I grabbed half a dozen shots at various distances and quickly checked them to make sure they’d all worked and they had.

Back home, processed the photos and made my dinner which was chilli con CARNE, because Scamp would be having a posh lunch in Inverness, so I could have a meat dinner tonight. Dumped the chilli into the slow cooker and left it for an hour or two, plenty time to get my sketch of the day done. Today it was to be two oranges, a pear and an apple. I made the mistake of having four items in the sketch. Every beginner know you should always group odd numbered items. It was the apple that went wrong. If anyone asks me about it, I’ll just say that the apple was old and was getting a bruise at the bottom. I liked the oranges and the pear. Unfortunately you can’t clone out mistakes on a watercolour.

Scamp sent a text to say she was just passing Stirling Castle about 8.30pm and I got ready to drive in to Glasgow. Picked her up just after 9pm after doing a detour because the motorway was being repaired.

Tomorrow it’s Dancing day. Hopefully it will be Blackfriars in the afternoon and STUC salsa at night. Chilli was fine, but just a little too mild.

A Dull Day – 4 February 2019

Usually a walk along the canal can lift my spirits, but today the opposite was the truth.

It’s a Monday and that means Gems and Gems means I go out for a walk. Today I was half decided to go down to the Luggie to get some photos of snowdrops, but then I changed my mind and went to Auchinstarry instead. I walked along the canal, but there wasn’t much there that inspired me. Lots of other folk were there too, maybe they too were looking for inspiration. I hope they found some. I didn’t see any black monkeys while I was there, but one seemed to cling to me while I was there and it remained with me for the rest of the day.  Today’s PoD was taken crossing the Plantation over to the railway path.  I think they are crab apples.  As you can see, although it was a dull day for me, there was a beautiful bright blue sky.  That’s sometimes the way of things.

Dinner was the usual Monday, ‘Red’ Spaghetti. However, we also had a bowl of soup and that soup contained a selection of the veg I painted for yesterday’s 28 Drawings Later. The sketch was good, but the soup was better. Not so today’s sketch. Although it’s done and on time, I wasn’t happy with it. I don’t think the Midori notebook is conducive to watercolour work. It’s fine for ink, but doesn’t have the tooth or the strength to hold a watercolour wash. Note to self, horses for courses.

Went to salsa and helped out at the 6.30 beginners class. Very big class with too many followers or to few leaders. Either way, that meant both Scamp and I were needed as leaders, as were any other people willing to lend a hand. Our class suffered from the same lack of leaders, but whereas the beginners class had over forty participants, our class had seven people in total. Three followers and four leaders including the teacher. Even worse, one of the followers left to go to her ballet class halfway through the lesson. Unless we get a sudden injection of salseros, I don’t see the advanced class continuing in its present form after this session, and that will be a terrible shame. Scamp and I have discussed the problem at length and cannot put our collective finger on the source of the problem. I don’t think there is a single source, as usual with things like this, there are a host of contributing factors. Only time will tell if the class will continue. It may not have been the most successful class for numbers, but I did manage to pass on that wee black monkey to someone else!
Tonight’s ‘new’ move was an old favourite Chi Wa Wa. We also tried to remember Agamemnon with little success. I’m sure Jamie G will have it perfected by next week.

Tomorrow I’m up early to give Scamp a lift to the station to catch the Glasgow train and from there she will hopefully get the bus to Inverness to have lunch and a gossip with Jackie. I may go looking for interesting photos and inspiration!

S’no Snow – 3 February 2019

Last night when I went to bed the temperature was just on zero. This morning it was raining, so the temp was in the positive range.

By lunchtime the ice and snow as definitely on the back foot. There was liquid water in the bird bath although there was a decidedly large iceberg sitting in it. After lunch it was back to the ‘leccy cupboard again to investigate and empty the last remaining boxes, most of which contained light bulbs or screws. They were easily sorted, the ‘keepers’ stored and the ‘chuckers’ put in the bin.

That left PoD to be taken. I couldn’t decide what would fit that particular bill and eventually decided to go for a walk to St Mo’s to see if anything there was suitable. The light was poor, so landscape was out of the question. There was ice on the pond but the ducks and swans had managed to cut a hole in it right in the middle, so, well out of range of the 200mm end of the Panasonic zoom. Nothing for it but to rely on a macro. It’s getting like cut flowers and ‘Weemen’, a last resort. That’s what you see at the top of the page. It’s not the best macro I’ve done, but it was a chance to try out a noise reducing setting I’d seen on Flickr. It worked, but was not the great solution that the person seemed to suggest. Maybe I’m just hard to please. Surely not! By the time I came home from my walk the snow had gone and now it’s raining heavily and the temperature is almost 5ºc.

I’d bought a Hogged Shoulder Steak at the farmers market in Embra yesterday and cooked it for my dinner while Scamp finished off the roast chicken we’d bought on Friday. I must say the shoulder steak was delicious. I’ll be looking out for Annanwater at the Glasgow farmers market on the last Saturday of the month.

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was of the veg I’m hoping to make soup from tomorrow. Scamp has already boiled the pulses, but as she’ll be busy with Gems preparation tomorrow, I’ll do the dinner. I liked the sketch. Colour needed a bit more saturation, but luckily Lightroom came to the rescue.

Spoke to JIC tonight and got his take on the implications of a no-deal Brexit (how I hate that name!) and dealing with new ‘mental’ neighbours.

That’s about it. Tomorrow is Gems day and we haven’t a clue what we did last week at salsa, so we’ll have to make it up as we go along, just the same as everybody else.

Cauld Reekie – 2 February 2019

Today we went to Embra. About a couple of thousand rugby supporters went too. I think they were all on our train.

We’d been promising ourselves that we’d go to Embra since well before Christmas, but with the combination of health problems and rodent problems, not to mention the train problems, we didn’t get. Today we did. The seven coach ‘leccy train was mobbed, but we did get a seat and of course we got off with all the rugby supporters going to see Scotland get humped by Italy. I hope they weren’t too disappointed when our team won! It was cold enough to freeze the snotters dripping from my nose as we walked up to our usual Nero. How cold must it be when you’re wearing a kilt and sitting in Murrayfield for a couple of hours? I suppose most of them had some form of alcoholic central heating so wouldn’t feel the cold too much.

We walked through the farmer’s market and I got a bit of shoulder mutton for tomorrow’s dinner. It should be cooked like steak apparently. Hopefully I’ll be singing its praises tomorrow. After that we walked along Rose Street, had a coffee in Waterstones in Princes Street and then just missed the train home, so had to sit for half an hour in Haymarket. That’s where today’s PoD came from. The poor woman must have wondered what the bloke across the concourse was doing, and why is he laying his camera on the floor? Much quieter train home while the tartan clad hordes roared their team on to victory.

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was a bowl of pears and I’m pretty happy with it. I just wish Facebook would get it into its tiny head that I’m not selling it!!!

For tomorrow there are no plans. We’ll just see what the day brings.

White Rabbits (x3) – 1 February 2019

Traditional welcome to the first day of the month. Today it wasn’t just the rabbits that were white. Everything was.

It all started out so nicely with frost on the cars and therefore no great incentive to go out, so we just read for a while and then had a coffee. After that we simply had to drag ourselves out to buy Tesco.

After lunch I decided to try my luck in the bogs again and this time I found the dry path and still got some photos! Impressed with the ability of the ice to hold the weight of the Oly 10, if not me! Also impressed with the Oly app on the iPhone that allows me to control the camera through a private WiFi connection. That’s how you get these low down shots like today’s PoD.

It was when I was walking back that the snow came on and it didn’t go off for about four hours. Now we don’t just have frost, we have snow too. Maybe the snow has done its work because the temperature is no 0.7ºc. Positive 0.7ºc!

That’s about it for today. I’m off now to get a sketch done for 28 Drawings Later on Facebook. If I have time I’ll even add it to the blog.

As Promised!

Tomorrow it all depends on the weather. I looks like the sky will be clear, but we’ll see!

Electrifying – 31 January 2019

We’d both postponed the clearing out of the electricity cupboard for far too long. We even tried to ignore it today too, but we both knew we’d have to give up the pretence and get started.

A cup of coffee each about 10.30pm and then we both decided at the same time to get started. The reason for the big clean out was nothing to do with a certain Japanese lady and everything to do with a strange smell that’s pervaded the house for a week or so. With so many “pellets of poison” (A Hard Rain’s a Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan) in various places in three houses I thought there might be a deceased rodent somewhere under the floor of the cupboard. However, if we found some items in the cupboard that were surplus to requirements, it would make sense to dispose of them at the same time.

By lunchtime we’d cleared the cupboard and filled the kitchen with the resulting detritus. I’d lifted some floorboards and checked for any dead rodents and there were none. I’d photographed in all directions under the floorboards and around the various pipes. Nothing, except some insulation, tar and heavy duty polythene, all held in place by plastic netting. Just to be sure, I lifted the floorboards in the toilet too with the same result. We did manage to fill a black rubbish bag with lots of stuff. Yes, there is still a lot of stuff that has been put back and needs to be looked through again, but the cupboard isn’t nearly as congested as it was.

Just as we were finishing, Hazy phoned and we caught up with things in the London area, then it was time for lunch. A slightly more down to earth lunch than yesterday’s posh lunch. Afterwards I loaded lots of bags into the Juke and took them away to the council tip. Some were probably antiques, especially cobblers lasts for repairing shoes, but I didn’t throw everything away. I kept a couple of lasts and some tools. I also kept a replacement heel for a man’s shoe. It was marked with the letters WD and an up pointing arrow, which I think was for the War Department.

When I came home I brought tonight’s dinner with me. A curry for two from Tesco. Good value for a fiver! With food sorted, I got my boots on and went for a walk in St Mo’s, hoping to get some shots in the mist that was descending. I think I achieved that with the PoD you see here. On the way back I tested the depth of a bit of bog and found it was up to my knee. Luckily only one leg went in and I could easily haul myself out, but wet trousers today with the temperature well below zero were not funny.

Curry was indeed good value and something I’d try again. Tomorrow we have no plans except we need to go for the ’messages’.