No more sweeties

NHS, they take away your pleasures, one at a time.

Went to the docs to get the result of my blood test in my annual checkup. Everything was fine except my diabetic sugar result which was a bit high. I know it was my own fault for pandering to my sweet tooth, but now I’m paying the price. No more sweeties for the foreseeable future 🙁

After I had been given a gentle reminder by the nurse to keep a firm rein on my sugar and fat intake, I went home to find that Scamp had bought a ready-made curry for tonight’s dinner. One more curry won’t do any harm I told her. There was no way I was asking her to take it back! It was lovely, by the way.

I sat in the garden for a while and attempted today’s sketch which was “The house you are living in”. I prefer the back of the house to the front. There’s more privacy at the back and that’s where the most interesting and older plants are. That’s why I sat under the rowan tree and sketched it from there. I used a sort of wide angle exaggerated perspective. I was happy enough with the result and then went out for a walk along the Luggie Water.

Took a longer walk than normal. Right from the waterfall all the way along almost to Condorrat. Got a few landscapes and lots of flower pics. No beasties today though. PoD went to the three poppies – Red against Green. Strongest colour contrast in the box.

Tonight I redrew the house and gave it a few washes of watercolour, but I’m not happy with the result. Too twee and too full of fine details. Tomorrow it’s a knife or a sword. I have plenty of knives to sketch, but I’ll have to go down to Millcroft to get a sword!

Dancing tomorrow, hopefully and sketching a knife.

A Plan – 27 May 2019

Today’s plan was an attempt at better use of time.

I’m getting fed up with heading for bed after midnight. My aim is to use my time more efficiently. The month of May is a bit of a nightmare of my own making. Not only do I have to get the daily photo taken, processed and uploaded to the sluggish Flickr, and get the blog written and also uploaded. Now I have to devise a sketch, complete it and probably slap some paint on it too. It keeps my mind alert, certainly, but it’s playing merry hell with my sleep pattern. Today I’m trying a different tack.

This morning I planned out today’s sketch and the topic was Books. I drew a stack of books and it looked reasonable until I realised that Escher could have drawn it. However, nobody could have built it. The stack of books needed some helium balloons attached to help them achieve their perilous balancing act. That said, it was only a planning sketch and had pointed out the need to plan more carefully. The next sketch was better and it looked like the books would actually stack like that without falling down. It went on to phase 2 and had some colour added. Yes, with a touch of shadow detail it looked solid. It’s been photographed, processed and uploaded to FB.

After lunch and after solving he difficult weekend Sudoku, admittedly a day late, I went for a walk around St Mo’s to try for more insect (beastie) pictures. Managed to get a bit closer to the flies and am better pleased with the results. Photos are now processed and uploaded to Flickr. The management of Flickr are stating that the site is now stable. If this is stable, I’d hate to see unstable. It’s slow, pictures disappear without warning, comments disappear. The whole structure seems fragile at present and give very little confidence in its use. It may improve. We can but hope.

That was the extent of the day’s work apart from some pruning in the garden. Trying to get rid of aphid damage on the black currant bushes. One of the benefits of having a brown bin is that you can happily dispose of damaged plants in it. I didn’t want to put the damaged leaves in the compost because that would only spread the infection. Our composter doesn’t get hot enough to destroy pests like that.

Tomorrow I go for my annual checkup at the docs. In the afternoon we may take a trip to visit one of Scamp’s Gems in hospital.

That’s the blog completed. I just need to post it and I will be about two hours ahead of my usual time!

Watching the dancers dancing

Not dancing ourselves, just watching the shivering and sheiking. All will become clear.

It was a wet, cool and windy Sunday and we could have gone dancing at Mango in Sausage Roll Street, but instead we’d promised ourselves a trip to the Record Factory to see The Shivering Sheiks (y’see, I told you all would become clear). They are a rock ’n’ roll foursome who play there every Sunday afternoon. We’d been told they were good and that there were lots of people up dancing to them.

The trouble was they were on early in the afternoon, from 2pm to 4pm, which sort of chopped up the day, but as it wasn’t a day for doing anything else, we decided to make the sacrifice. That was until we went out into a heavy rain shower and gale force winds. Also, to make things worse the Juke was parked under a spreading chestnut tree and what it was spreading was its flowers, aided and abetted by the aforementioned gale force winds. Luckily I’d brought along a soft brush, not a painting brush, what my mum would have called a “hearth brush”. Maybe we didn’t have a hearth, but the brush made short work of the chestnut flowers.

Drove in to Glasgow cursing the stupidity of driving all that way just to hear a rock ’n’ roll band. What were we thinking of? Got parked right away, just across the road from the venue and when we went in the Sheiks were in full flow. Rhythm guitar, lead guitar, double bass and drummer. Only a foursome, but the sound filled the place and soon the floor was filled with dancers too. We could have danced to some of the tunes they played and thankfully most of those who did dance were our age group. We stayed for about an hour and a half and then came home, vowing to go back next week and dance, then dance some salsa when it started after the Sheiks had gone.  Scamp had been right again … as usual!

There was just enough time when we came home for me to go out to St Mo’s and encourage a few spiders and flies to pose for my camera. That’s where today’s lovely model came from. After that it was time to plan today’s sketch which was A Cup of Coffee or Tea. I chose coffee and to add a bit more to it, I painted some coffee beans too. On the subject of food and drink, dinner tonight was marinaded short ribs cooked for 90mins at gas 4 in the Le Creuset. Very nice. Scamp had ‘Rats’, or as it’s now known “Just some Rats”.

We watched a boring F1 GP from Monaco which was the usual procession with so few places to overtake. Then spoke to JIC and discussed plans for Wales.

Weather looks poor for tomorrow too. Much like today it seems. That may decide how far we go and where.

Well, the gardens need the rain – 25 May 2019

As you will have gathered, it rained today, almost incessantly. I do believe it’s raining still.

It didn’t keep us in. It almost did, but we both got a bit ‘scratchy’ and needed to get out, just to see how heavy the rain was. It wasn’t all that heavy, just irritatingly wet and constant. We consoled ourselves with the title of the blog. The gardens do need the rain. I tried a sort of rain dance the other day by washing the car, that usually triggers a shower, but it didn’t work. It kept the car feeling smooth for a day, but after that the sticky, sugary sap dripped from the trees outside and made it feel like sandpaper again.

We drove to Kirkintilloch to have lunch at Calders garden centre. I attempted a haggis and mozzarella panini, but it must have weighed over a kilo and I had to give up on it. Scamp had the more sensible tuna sandwiches. After that we just drove home. I’d hoped to get a chance to sketch Underwood Lockhouse for today’s challenge, but sketching in the rain is no fun. I’ve tried it and it’s just annoying, not to say impossible. If you like random washes on your drawing, then try it, but it’s not for me. Instead, we just drove home where Scamp settled down and I just paced the floor. It did wonders for my step count, but nothing for my peace of mind. There was only one thing for it. I was going out for a walk in the rain. To my mind there is nothing more calming than a walk in the rain, especially if you are well dressed for it. I was partly well dressed for it. Down to, but not including my feet I was impervious to the rain, but my old boots were leaking like a sieve. They need to be replaced and soon. However, I just accepted the wet socks and squelching feeling and took some photos to clear my head. My favourite was the waterlogged dandelion clock you see at the top. Others are now on Flickr, if it’s working. It’s been a bit temperamental since their latest upgrade.

Back home it was time to search out a photo of a ruined building. I still hankered after a drawing of Underwood, but eventually settled on a ruined house near the airport in Fuerteventura. I quite liked the finished result. Tomorrow should be a bit easier: A cup of tea / coffee.

The rest of tomorrow will hopefully be filled with listening to and perhaps dancing to the Shivering Sheiks, then watching a thrilling GP from Monaco where we would have been if we’d taken the option of an early season cruise!

Coffee with Fred

Val was off on holiday to Dunoon, (serves him right) and Colin was being “The man who worked in the garden”. So it was just Fred and me.

Read for a while, trying to eke out the last few pages of “The Boy and His Dog at The End of The World” by C. A. Fletcher. (There you go, Hazy. That saves me emailing you). That’s when the aforementioned Hazy phoned and I had to dress and get down stairs to find out about all things London-side.

Out to meet Fred in Costa. Not so much a coffee shop as somewhere to leave the kids while you talk to your mates. That’s how the mothers in Cumbersheugh seem to view it anyway. Today was less screamy than usual with fewer weans trying, unsuccessfully, to jump from the top of the stairs to the land balletically at the bottom. Most of the ‘mummies’ just looked around and said those famous words of Mhairi’s “They bounce!” Our own conversations ranged around his sketches, my sketches, the world in general, how much better it was when we were younger. All true. Well, it was better when we were both younger. The world was a much better and safer place than it is today. After an hour and a half of reminiscing, we both went our separate ways. Me to go home for a late lunch and him to Tesco. We agreed to meet in a few weeks time.

Came home and tried unsuccessfully to coax the Sony TV to play the video that was on the memory stick I’d inserted. I got so fed up with the whole thing I took my Olys for a walk over to St Mo’s to see if there was anything worth photographing. Got the one at the top of the page and nice shot of a dandelion clock, but don’t bother trying to see it online, because somebody’s broken Flickr. It’s called Ongoing Maintenance apparently.

When I came home, I did the unthinkable and read the instruction book for the TV, where I found out that the format for the video was not MP4 using an H.264 profile (no, I don’t know what that is either), but MPEG (no, nor that one either). I tried converting a short video to MPEG and it worked! Hooray. About two and a half hours wasted and all I had to do was RTFM (Read The F*cking Manual).

Today’s topic for sketching is A Well-used Bag: Fred laughed when I told him. Fred has a dirty mind and an even dirtier laugh. The bag I drew was my old camera bag that I’ve recently sewn back to life again. I’d forgotten how useful it was to take only the camera you’re going to use with you and not a bucket full of lenses that you won’t use. Simple.

Made a focaccia again today to go with a lovely salad Scamp made. How on earth did some Italian punter years ago came up with the idea of pouring one and a half times the usual amount of water into a dough and then pouring a jug full of oil in too before he / she attempted to knead the slurry into something resembling a dough? What made them think it would work? The strange thing is, it works really, really well. I’d just like to know how they came up with such a strange recipe.

Tomorrow, we’re going for lunch somewhere, and then it’s going to rain.

Out to lunch – 23 May 2019

Today we were going out to Hebo House for lunch.

If you don’t understand what Hebo House is, don’t Google it. The original sign read THE BOAT HOUSE (all caps). After the original owners sold up, some of the sign’s letters disappeared and it now reads HE BO HOUSE, hence Hebo House. Much better when it’s not shouting at you too. It’s been re-opened for some time now, but the present owner(s) can’t be bothered to fix the sign. Maybe they too like the kudos of the Hebo House. The lunch was quite good, by the way. Mine was a burger and it worked for me. Scamp had a chicken burger that also looked good.

Now that we were fed and watered (soft drinks only) we went for a walk along the canal, mainly because my task for today was “A bridge over a river or canal”. We walked under the bridge, and I took photos from both sides and neither looked interesting enough to sketch. The other thing was the temperature. The car thermometer said 14ºc, but outside the wind sucked a lot of that heat away. We didn’t walk far. We just headed for Lidl in Kilsyth for essentials (wine, beer and ice cream) and came home. I still hadn’t a photo, so I drove down to the Luggie and went for a walk, because the sun had come out and it became pleasantly warm. Not only did I get my PoD shot of the railway arches, but I also got the ink sketch for today’s EDiM topic: A bridge over a river or canal: Bridge over Luggie Water. This is a lovely place for a walk. Along beside the Luggie Water under this bridge and then under the arches of the railway bridge. A lovely place … in the daylight at least! Don’t go after dark. Not without kevlar armour and a very big stick.

Used one of my sketches as today’s drawing and slapped some paint on it tonight. I like it.  Like Scamp says, “You can walk into it”.  Made a pizza tonight just for a wee snack since we hadn’t had anything substantial since early afternoon and the pizza was slightly overdone, but very nice.

That was it for the day. Tomorrow I’m having coffee with Fred at lunchtime and maybe a pizza for lunch before that. I believe someone is going to have to make a focaccia at some time too.

Private Dancer – 22 May 2019

Well, almost. More like a private lesson for the normal price.

Because Wednesdays are such a rush, in the morning I got started on the sketch for the day. I’d taken a photo of the playpark last week and only had to transfer it to the tablet upstairs using Dropbox. While I was drawing, the gardener was planting in the new bed under the back window. Her final decision was to plant the green spotty plant and a couple of others in the space we had, then add some lower level primulas which we had split up yesterday. By the time she was finished, I had laid down the ink outline and it was lunch time. When I checked my email I found that Jamie G would be in Embra today. That would put paid to Salsa tonight.

After lunch we drove in to Glasgow to dance some Jive. It turned out that we were the only couple there for our level and had Michael’s undivided attention, which meant he’d catch every mistake we made, and we made a few. However, although we didn’t learn any new moves, we cleared up and cleaned up a lot of the ones we did know. Quickstep followed Jive and the same thing happened. Little things that we knew we were doing wrong were spotted and corrected. We’ve a lot of practise ahead of us this week.

While we were walking along Ingram Street, a wee man stopped in front of us and started photographing the glass building with his phone. We had a chat about the reflections on the building and the great shape of the curves. I took a few shots myself because the reflections looked so good today. I’d just switched the camera off when a seagull passed along the face of the building and the glass facets picked it up and multiplied its reflections so it looked like a flock of seagulls … and my camera was off! I must try and get that shot again. It looked lovely in my mind’s eye. PoD became the reflections on the building minus seagull! After a coffee we drove home.

Back home I started adding colour to the sketch and although it looks ok, it’s not as fresh as it could be. Overworked, I think. It was after dinner time when I checked on Facebook that I found the update from Jamie G to say that he’d make it back for class after all. That was a bummer, especially as there isn’t a class on Monday because of the bank holiday. That means our next class will be next Wednesday. Oh well, these things happen.

Tomorrow Scamp is meeting Shona for coffee and then I think we may go out for lunch.

Will it stay or will it go? – 21 May 2019

Remember the big green plant with the spotty leaves Scamp bought yesterday? Well today it was going back … or was it?

To start the day I wanted to create order from the chaos of my painting room. It needed a good clean out and today was going to be the day for it, despite the blue skies outside and the sunshine outside and partly because Scamp was outside, planning!

After about an hour putting stuff away where it should have been and failing utterly to throw anything out except my old bike boots, and even they are not certain to find their way to the tip, the room did look better. I found the top of the chest of drawers again after a it had been reported missing a few weeks ago. That’s when Scamp came up and told me she was taking the big green plant back. According to the website you had 28 days to take things back. It was too big and was not going to fit in the place under the window she’d intended putting it in. I told her perhaps that 28 day rule didn’t apply to plants and was intended for hardware. She wasn’t to be turned from her path, so she phoned the garden centre and was assured that, Yes you could return plants. So it was settled the big green spotty plant was going back. We stood and looked at the place it was sitting among the other plants she’d arranged in the new space. I didn’t think it looked all that out of place, but we’d forgotten that there was a large unmovable Magnolia Stellata standing in the corner and perhaps she was right the green plant was too big. That’s the I had the light bulb moment. We were looking at the plant, in its pot, standing on the ground. When it was planted it would drop in height by about 200mm (8” in old money). Ah, that made a big difference. Hmm, I could see a sea change happening. Maybe, just maybe it would be alright after all. Her final decision was that we should plant it and revise our decision after a year, or at least a few months. Of course we couldn’t take it back then, but we could just dig it up and dispose of it.

The rest of the day was spent gardening. We put up the pea netting and planted the half a dozen pea plants in the raised bed. I think that’s the raised bed effectively full. The leeks are thickening up nicely, the calabrese is growing well not that we’re killing off the slugs that were attacking it and the kale is settling in nicely. The whole garden is looking good. We even measured out the area for the proposed raised bed / planter for the front garden. It’s probably too big for one single planter and I’m suggesting two beds, each 2m long by about 1.5m wide. It’s still in the sketchy ‘back of a fag packet’ stage. When we move on to Inventor and AutoCad it will become more ‘real’.

We were watching the BBC news at lunchtime when the picture froze on the TV and after a few seconds showed the ‘fault’ screen with a number to call if the program did not return. I phoned. Apparently they were “… receiving more calls than normal and the waiting time is 20 minutes”. The recording went on to suggest we phone back at the quiet time between 2pm and 4pm. It was 2.15 at this point. Not only was the TV disrupted, the broadband was dead too. Without broadband we are helpless these days. You need it to get the number to phone to report that your broadband isn’t working. Also, as we live in a ‘shadow area’ not very well covered by 4G we have to go outside to use the mobile phone to check what’s wrong. Eventually, after half an hour, service was resumed. You never miss the water ‘till the well runs dry!

Went out to St Mo’s for a walk in the sun and to take some photos later in the afternoon. Took a few macro shots, but that’s all. The best one of the buttercup got PoD. Saw two dragonflies, not damselflies, but dragonflies while I was out.  That’s most unusual in May. While I was out Scamp cut the back and front grass and also hoovered the downstairs. I know she reads this, so that’s why I’m saying “Leave some of it for me”. Delegation is the name of the game.

Today’s sketch topic was Something You Collect. So, Weemen (Minifigs) or cameras? Why not both? So that’s what I did. Not my best, but maybe I just need to settle down with it for a few days. That’s what’s happening with the liquorice allsorts sketch from yesterday. It’s growing on me.

Tomorrow, of course, is hopefully dancing in the afternoon and also perhaps at night.

Plants and plans – 20 May 2019

We went to visit Torwood Garden Centre today as Scamp had found a small square in the garden that would support one more plant.

A fairly early rise for me to go and post a parcel, then get some blood taken for my annual health check next week. Checked with the hospital about my prostate appointment and found that I’d been mistaken about the time and it was actually well in hand. More bloods needed to be taken for that too! Heavens I’ll be like a pin cushion this month!

After lunch we drove to Falkirk to the garden centre. Actually I wanted some peas for the raised bed as my previous two plantings have been growing downwards instead of up or something, because they weren’t showing their little green heads. Not in the raised bed where two lots were planted and not in the pots in the greenhouse where two lots were planted. Got some today. Not a named variety, just labelled Garden Peas. Scamp bought a big green plant with spotted leaves. Looks the part and will bring some colour to a dull part of the garden that gets little or no sun.

When we came home, she unveiled her plans for a long raised bed to be used as an edge to the front garden. It’s to run from the corner of the house out to the path. That’s a distance of about 4.5m and about “That wide” she indicated with two hands. I’m actually more used to working with numbers. It makes it much easier when you’re buying lengths of timber and also when you’re cutting them to size. I’ve found in the past that “That wide” can vary considerably with the length of a person’s arms. We may do some measuring and some drawing tomorrow.

Today’s PoD was the wee 2cm viola which is flowering in a plant pot. Tiny wee thing.

Today’s sketch took ages and I’m still not happy with it. Topic was Some Sweets and I chose liquorice allsorts. It took about four tries before I got something resembling them. No time left to do anything else, so it had to do. Onward and upward.

Went dancing in the STUC and the new moves for the advanced class were “Spiral” and “Osco”. Both were interesting and both were doable with care. Beginners class were doing La Completa.

It was a day of ticking things off as we got them done. A good day.

Tomorrow we are both hoping to get our plants into the ground.

A Dull Day

Today was one of those days where it always looked like it was just about to rain … but never did.

Not a day for going out, we decided, but a day for getting things done. Scamp got some emails written I got a parcel wrapped up and a difficult letter written. Other than that, we did very little. I took a walk round the garden late in the afternoon and took today’s PoD which is a close up of a rhododendron flower. Not anything startling, just a flower. At least it wasn’t a cut flower. Pulled some rhubarb and Scamp stewed it for pudding. Nice and sharp with good colour and just the hint of sweetness.

Today’s sketch was “Your favourite shoes”. Not exactly my favourite shoes, but my old trusty bike boots. I bought these many years ago in a sale. They’re Merrell rock climbing boots, but they made excellent cycling boots for use with toe clips. They are now considerably past their best with the soles coming loose and a few tears that I can’t repair. Sadly they must go soon, but they were so much more comfortable than the Shimano shoes I now wear on my bike.

Tomorrow I have a blood test in the morning and a parcel to post. Then the rest of the day is our own because Gems is cancelled. Hopefully dancing at night, because neither of us could be bothered to make a good case for going dancing tonight.