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Some days are good. This one was – 18 October 2019

Today started with some good news from Hazy. Well done you. I’m glad that it worked out for the best in the end. Saves a lot of hassle and neither of you need or deserve that.

Once Scamp had recovered from that and from the numbness from the jag she got so the dentist could fill her tooth, I cancelled my contract with the Vodies, requested my PAC code and asked for the iPhone to be unlocked. Free at last from Vodafone! Then we drove up to Tesco to see how much it would cost for a new phone. I already knew, but it made sense to ask an expert and to get a chance to look at and touch the new piece of plastic and glass. With that in mind, I could go in to Glasgow and see what the big three would offer.

First stop was going to be O2, but there was a climate protest going on outside the shop and I had to get some photos of that first. The girl in the shop was trying hard to push the Huawei and I didn’t really want that. I’ve already got a Samsung tablet that works really well and I thought I’d like a Samsung phone too. I hate being pushed into something, so I said thanks, but no thanks.

Next stop was EE. Nobody there was interested in speaking to us, so we left and I got today’s PoD which was a wee man playing the fiddle and walking the tightrope at the same time. Very clever. Got a few photos and dropped a quid or so in his hat.

No point in going in to Vodafone, so I dropped in to Carphone Warehouse instead where one bloke explained the difference between the Huawei and the Samsung. He seemed to come down on the side of Samsung, my side. I said I’d think about it and we went to Paesano to think about it.

With a number 1 (no garlic, extra rocket) for Scamp and a number 3 for me, we mulled over the options and I almost decided to go for the Tesco deal, using O2 masts. Walked back down the road and had a coffee in Nero to further digest the pizza and the technology overload. Came out and decided to try Carphone Warehouse. Spoke to a different bloke who explained the options in my price range and I settled on an EE Samsung A40 64GB. It looks like it will do everything I want. Hopefully it will do the business for the 24 months I’m booked for DV. Still need to use my iPhone for a while until the PAC code brings my number in to the new phone, hopefully on Monday.

Today’s Inktober called for “Nuts” I chose the edible variety. Of course I could have opted for the steel, brass or copper, hexagonal or square variety but you can’t eat your subject when you do that. Eating your subject removes the ability to compare the sketch with the posed subject. Something I try to do if at all possible.

No plans for tomorrow. It was to be Embra, but the weather in the east is to be worse than here in the almost west, so don’t know where we’ll go.

Another day not wasted – 17 October 2019

Today we had decided we’d go out somewhere again. I chose where today.

Out fairly early and I thought I knew how to get to Rouken Glen in Glasgow, but I came off the M77 one slip road too early and ended up having to program the sat nav and drive through a cluster of roads I’d never been on before. Next time I’ll trust the sat nav and not my intuition. Got there after a grand tour of the South Side. Found a place to park, squeezing into a space in a car park that was designed for about 300 cars, with only about 20 actual cars in it.

Scamp wanted some crocus bulbs to plant in the front grass. It’s not a lawn, it’s not a green, it’s front grass. She planted some last year about this time and they looked lovely in little groups in the springtime. The first packet, in fact the only packet I saw on the rack was called Dorothy. Bright yellow crocuses. Very fitting in view of our visit to Ayrshire last week, so we took them. Also got a packet of loose crocus bulbs in what we hope were mixed colours. Scamp also got a pot of mixed, real, heather. They also had imitation heather which looked real, but wasn’t as interesting as the real, real heathers we got. I got a kit for growing chillies. Finally, we got an oval planter which was great for carrying all the other things. We put them in the Juke boot and went for a walk, because, although we had driven through a few rain showers on our way to the South Side of Glasgow, it was fine now and the sun was shining. Walked around the park and admired the trees in leaf. It was one of those trees, a Hornbeam that made PoD. Try as I might, I couldn’t get rid of the flare from the sun, so I just had to accept it and I now think it looks ok. I did manage to use my adaptable lens hood to good effect later in the walk.

Loads of folk had arrived while we were walking and there must have been about 30 cars now in that big car park. It seemed that most of them had disgorged weans and dogs, because they were everywhere. Many of the weans were gathered under big spreading Chestnut trees picking up chessies or conkers if you’re English. Anyway, great fun was being had by all.

We had a quick lunch in the garden centre. Soup was good. Cakes were excellent but coffee was dire. I think the espresso machine was only there for show. I’m certain my coffee came out of a jar, not a bean. There was certainly a degree of sleight of hand in its making.

Drove home and just as we were getting out of the car, the rain appeared and stayed on and off all afternoon. Scamp didn’t even get her heather planted, but I expect she will tomorrow.

Today’s topic from my Inktober list was “Crumpled Paper”. Crumpled paper may sound simple to draw, but it a difficult subject to draw in ink. With pencil you can add a bit of soft shading. That’s not really possible in ink, especially if you’re just using ink. I could have used a water brush to soften the edges of the lines and give a bit of tonality, but I decided not to and to draw with pen only for a change. This is the result. Parts are good, parts are not. That’s just the way it is sometimes.

Scamp had dentist in the morning tomorrow. We may go in to Glasgow later, depending on the weather and the denture situation.

Dancing – 16 October 2019

Unlike yesterday, we woke to rain.

However, as the morning progressed, so the weather improved and by midday the sun was shining. Time to go out and do some dancing.

No Michael today, so we had Anne Marie. Today we went over Somewhere Over The Rainbow again, and again we wore away some of the rough edges of the routine. I think it’s about as good as it’s going to get. I just hope we can remember:

a. The sequence of the moves.
b. The little tweaks we learned today.

If we can do that, I think we can progress on to the moves we learned today. New moves for an, as yet unnamed, Jive routine. One of the moves we’d done before, but the name evades Scamp and I and the second one we’re calling Knee, 3 kicks, because that’s a basic description of it. That was all Jive. We didn’t have time to do any waltz, but we did cover a new routine we’re learning for Quickstep. As with all quickstep routines, it’s the combination of Slow and Quick that cause me the most of my problems. Scamp seems to have no difficulty with them at all. It ’s just the way her brain works I think. Wired differently from mine.

Back home there was just enough time for a quick walk over to St Mo’s to feed the ducks on the remains of my loaf and some other bread that was as dry as a bone in the kitchen. The ducks didn’t seem to mind in the slightest. I got today’s PoD walking in the woods. I’d have liked to have used the 9mm lens, but I hadn’t brought it. The 14mm did a fairly good job and I was happy with the result.

Today’s sketch task was “A Frog”. I tried a quick sketch in the morning of Kermit who holds some lavender in the back bedroom. It wasn’t very successful and Scamp told me the head was the wrong shape. This confirmed what I already thought. After dinner I had another go and took more time to get the proportions of the poor frog’s head a bit better. Yes, it worked better this time. The only problem is the poor soul looks a bit sad. It’s hard to get Kermit’s quizzical expression just the way he looks on TV. Never mind, it’s a fair likeness. Tomorrow it’s “Crumpled Paper”. Inktober brings loads of that!

Tomorrow we’re hoping to be up and out early because the weather looks better in the morning.

A Day at the Seaside – 15 October 2019

Up and out we said. Up and out it was today.

Breakfast downstairs today and out for 10.30. Off to the seaside. I chose Troon as our destination. It began to look a bit dicey when we climbed up the M77 to the top of Fenwick Moor and drove into the low lying cloud. Fog lights on and we carried on. Thankfully after about 15 minutes we were back into sunshine with the cloud looking like a grey wall behind us. From there it was sunshine all the way to Troon.

Couldn’t get parked at the first car park, so we carried on to the one we used to go to round by the harbour. The place with the crashy waves. The waves weren’t crashing today, in fact the sea was very calm with only the slightest movement. Arran’s peaks were poking through some low cloud and made a great PoD. Taken by me, chosen from the sixty odd others by Scamp. We walked round the Ballast Bank by the low and now notifiably DANGEROUS path. Sat for a while on one of the seats by the path. Beautiful views over to Horse Island and Ailsa Craig in the distance. Listened to the hundreds of seabirds on the exposed rocks. It could have been summer, sitting in the sun with the high banking sheltering us from the sun.

Eventually we gave up our seat and walked on into town. Nearly at the town Scamp’s cousin appeared with her daughter and the two of them had a long catch up, nearly blocking the path for everyone else. Eventually we split up and went our separate ways. We walked as far as the wind surfers’ car park at the far end of town. There we turned and walked back in to town. I suggested we go to the Venice cafe for lunch. The best part of half an hour for a roll ’n’ sausage and a roll ’n’ scrambled egg. It’s not that they were busy. We were the only ones waiting to be served. No apologies, nothing. Scamp told them in no uncertain manner that we wouldn’t be back. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say that before. That will give you some idea of how angry she was. Now we know why it wasn’t busy.

Walked back to the car and who should we bump into again? Elspeth and her daughter. They had been to Scotts for lunch and that’s where we had been heading before we met them. Don’t see some folk for ages, then you see them twice in the same day.

Drove home through the usual 4pm traffic. No low cloud or fog this time, just loads and loads of cars on a busy road.

Sketch today was “A Dessert”. We had Meringue with Strawberries and Cream for tonight’s dessert and I attempted to draw that, but wasn’t impressed with the attempt, so I drew Strawberries and Cream instead. Three strawberries and a tub of Elmlea. I liked that one!

Maybe we should keep that Juke. Today we started out with 274 miles predicted in the tank. We arrived home with 295 miles predicted in the tank. It seems like the petrol tank is related to the Magic Porridge Pot that never emptied!

Tomorrow it’s dancing in the afternoon, hopefully.

Making the change – 14 October 2019

Today there will be no lying around. Today I will be active.

That’s what I said anyway. Out fairly early to drop off another sample at the doc’s. Don’t know what they find so fascinating about my pee, but it seems to keep them amused. Back home and today’s work schedule included cleaning the downstairs toilet. It didn’t take long, certainly not nearly as long as the bathroom last week. Probably that’s partly due to the fact that it’s a tiny little space. However I did give it the full “big clean” as one of my cleaners used to call it.

After that it was lunchtime and Scamp suggested I have a couple of slices of my excellent bread with some Wiltshire ham between. What makes the bread extra excellent is that it’s made by Prince Chic (Charles to you, but Chic to his friends). I don’t suppose Chic actually mills the flour himself, but it comes from his estate and it makes very good bread. It was also cheap at Waitrose or I wouldn’t have bought it.

When Gems came in I sat and talked to Margie for a while and showed her my sketches for Inktober. Margie is always very complementary about my work, but she produces some startling paintings herself. Veronica slipped a copy of Wildlife Photographer of the Year onto the table. It seems her son-in-law is a keen wildlife photog. I wouldn’t say that what I take are wildlife photos, more landscapes and macros. I like looking at landscape photos, but find it hard to compose them properly when I’m out and about with a camera. There’s no such problems with macros. With them the big challenges are more technical, like getting the aperture right and trying to get the best use of light. Also there’s the stalking of the tiny wee insects. Great fun, but not really artistic. On first glance at the photos in the book, I’m amazed at the quality and detail. I’ll have a good look before I have to give it back next week.

To continue the ‘active’ theme, I went for a walk along the canal and then on to the railway and that’s where I saw today’s PoD. It’s an old oak tree and I just liked the way the light hit the trunk. It was good to be out in the fresh air under  a blue sky for a change. Took a few more shots, but you’ll have to visit Flickr to see them.   Walking back along the canal, I saw a goosander surface quite close to me with a fish in its beak.  Knew I didn’t have time to grab the camera from my bag and focus, so I just watched it for a while.  It looked quite pleased with it’s early dinner.  Back to M&S for the makings of our own dinner and while I was traipsing around, I got the signal that I’d completed my 10,000 steps. Happy.

Dinner tonight met with a mixed reception. I thought it was great, Scamp was more critical. It was Prawns with Spaghetti and Courgette Spaghetti. Scamp didn’t like the dill that was in it, I didn’t mind. Maybe needs a bit of work.

The topic for today was “A Rowing Boat”. There aren’t many rowing boats lying around waiting to be sketched in the Central Belt of Scotland, so this one came straight out of my head. I quite liked it.

The plan for tomorrow is to get up early and then go to the seaside. Not sure if that will be east or west coast, but the weather looks like it will be fairly dry.

Another dull day – 13 October 2019

Not really raining, but not really not either. One of those days just made for being lazy.

A day when I did nothing. Well, I made a loaf and hand kneaded it, but that was all the constructive work I did. I flew a couple of planes and added an airport to my world. I didn’t actually make it, I downloaded it and plonked it in place. It’s called Portmoak, and it’s a gliding centre. I did add a couple of huts and a hanger to the airport, because for some reason X-Plane wants me to download some stuff from a Russian site, as if I’m going to do that after Russia trounced Scotland at football the other day. Worse than that it was eleven Russian grannies who beat them.

Watched the Japanese GP and though Verstappen was hard done by at first, but then I have to admit that he’s been guilty of trying the same tactics against others, so he has not right to complain about being run off the circuit.

PoD was taken late in the afternoon and is the flower on a spider plant with the ribbed window of the toilet in the background. Nothing startling, but a neat mono image.

Spoke to JIC on the phone and agreed with him that we really need to get moving. This laziness is getting to be a bad habit. Unfortunately we don’t have Salsa tomorrow because Jamie G is on holiday.

Today’s topic for Inktober was “Sunglasses”. Sunglasses? In October? In Scotland? Almost as bad as butterflies. That’s what you get when you tweak a list that was originally meant for May and make it fit October. Tomorrow’s prompt is “A Rowing Boat”. Not a lot of them in Cumbersheugh.

Tomorrow is a Gems day, so I may start the week with a walk just to get out and about.

Embra? Nope – 12 October 2019

We should have been going to Embra on the train today, but it just didn’t happen.

Instead we lounged about in the morning and for some of the afternoon, finally getting our act together and deciding that east or west were best today, because north and south were rain clouds waiting to dump their damp load on us if we ventured near them.

We decided to head in the general direction of Callander, home to the blue rinse brigade and Sunday drivers. However, Callander is North east and the key word there is North. The closer we got, the heavier the rain became and we eventually resigned ourselves to going to the Smiddy for lunch instead. Ahead of us lay the restaurant, but between it and us was a “Sunday Driver”. She was doing 40mph on a busy 60mph road. Too much traffic travelling in the opposite direction to pass her. “Never mind, she’ll be going to Callander”, I thought. No, she was going to The Smiddy. It’s a quite narrow road in to the restaurant, but wide enough for two cars to pass easily. Not so easy when Ms “Sunday Driver” wants to drive down the middle of the road, then stop because someone is coming the opposite way. Luckily she stopped near a cut off to a field and the poor bloke managed to find his way round her. People of that age shouldn’t be allowed to drive a car. They should have to pass another driving test where there’s not someone walking in front of them waving a red flag. Those were my printable suggestions. The others were more extreme.

Grabbed a few photos before we went in, because the lighting was interesting. I made a pano of a group of five shots, but because I was shooting into the light and there was light rain in the wind, the resulting image looked like it had been taken in a snow storm! Rejected. The best photo and PoD went to a touristy shot of Highland Cattle sheltering under a tree. Very pastoral and for once not faked … not faked much!

Inside we got a seat at a bench table, the last seat in the restaurant. Scamp had Mac ’n’ Cheese and I had the Fishcakes, two of them. Thin as pancakes but fairly tasty. Some chopped up beetroot, some leaves and a large dollop of fairly crunchy and evidently home made coleslaw. I enjoyed it, but would I pay nearly a tenner for it? Probably not again. Prices in the shop were even more inflated. Some of the stuff it good and it’s not everywhere you can buy Hanger Steak, or Flat Iron Steak, but I hate being ripped off. As you’ll have guessed, we didn’t buy anything.

Drove around the countryside on the way back and enjoyed the scenery, then it was on to the motorway and back to boring, but dry Cumbersheugh.

Today’s topic was “A Fruity Cocktail.” My choice was a Margarita.
This Margarita is memorable for being mixed in Malta and for its ability to steal my legs when I went to leave the table!

No plans for tomorrow. There may or may not be a GP tomorrow as it appears that the race might be postponed because of Typhoon Hagibis which hopefully will miss Suzuka.

Deone’s Seat – 11 October 2019

Today’s topic from my list was “Butterfly”. In October, in Scotland? Really?

Then I remembered Deone’s Seat. It’s to remember Deone MacRae who died, aged 15, from cancer. The story is much longer. Google her name if you’re interested. It’s not a memorial. First and foremost it’s a seat. It’s been powder coated a cheerful bright pink and it sits beside the pond at St Maurices park. The seat is cut and welded from 1/4″ sheet steel and is a fitting tribute. I went out this morning to sketch it and then added some colour later. It was my interpretation of the prompt.

Came back and Scamp was getting herself ready for a trip in to Glasgow, solo. That suited me. I’d a bit of virus killing to do on the iMac. Probably only the second time I’ve had to resort to a virus killer. I’d tried Bitdefender last night, but it’s a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It took 25 minutes last night and it still was only about 75% through on a short scan. Nah, I needed something quicker. I’d found the offending article, it was an extension in Safari, Apple’s worthless browser. Worthless or not it was harbouring a piece of dodgy software that needed excising. I’d read that Malwarebites was good, so I downloaded that and it quickly found, not one, but two pieces of malware and deleted them, or to be precise, quarantined them. I don’t like quarantine, I prefer deletion. So that’s what I did. Malwarebites it’s the way to go.

By this time Scamp was on the bus to Glasgow, so I had time to add some colour to today’s sketch. Plenty of time, so for once, I let one colour dry before adding the next. I was pleased with the result. Yes I know it’s not totally symmetrical and there are some rogue lines, but that’s what happens when you’ve half an eye on the rain clouds, half an eye on the swan that’s sidling up to you looking for an early lunch and half an eye on nosy folk asking “Are you drawing?” Luckily the only person who passed was a bloke jogging around the pond and he just nodded and gave me a Scottish “Aye” which can mean “Good Morning”, “Looks like rain” or just “Hi”. It never means “What are you doing here?” It’s just a nod and an “Aye.” I don’t think they do that anywhere else in the world.

With the sketch and the painting done, I did a bit of flying from Fuerteventura to Lanzarote. Not far, but still taxing until you work out how to do the ILS approach under autopilot. I know this is gibberish, but it’s interesting gibberish to me. Gave up after the third attempt and made my lunch. Piece on brie, apple and honey. Totally heavenly. Home grown apples too, James Grieve.

After lunch I walked down to M&S to get chicken for tonight’s dinner and also a box of their delicious Turkish Delights, bread and a couple of pastries for after dinner. Got a text to say that it was back to business, Scamp had returned.

PoD was a photo of St Mo’s pond that I took after sketching Deone’s seat. Looks very pleasant once you’ve spotted out the Bucky bottles and the crisp wrappers. Swans seem to like it anyway.

Tomorrow we may go to Embra. It depends on the weather, but I expect I’ll be driving part of the way, which means I won’t be able to partake of tomorrows prompt: A Fruity Cocktail.

Another wet day – 10 October 2019

Isobel was the visiting garden guru today.

Drove up to see the nurse about my recent blood test. She didn’t seem concerned about my sugar level, in fact she seemed pleased that it had come down and assured me that if I stayed on my regime it would continue to drop. I asked her about a leak I have in my eye after I bumped it with a pen on Tuesday. Yes, really. Clumsy I know. She told me to go to an optician and get it checked. Left with a smile on my face and a sample bottle in my pocket to be filled and returned to the surgery tomorrow.

Back home, Scamp was getting ready to go and get Isobel so she could assess the state of the garden. Basically Scamp’s been overcrowding the pots with too many plants. That and everything needs pruning and shaping. This is worse than Shannon’s styling classes! We had Broccoli soup for lunch and then Scamp showed her some of her holiday photos and that kept them amused for most of the afternoon. All the time the rain had been pelting down.

When Scamp took Isobel back home, I did a bit of armchair flying, then when the driver returned I drove up to the Town Centre to speak to an optician. In Specsavers the manager was very helpful and didn’t laugh too much when I told her what I’d done. The optician had a look and said I’d damaged a bit of the white of my eye, but that it was healing well. She gave me some ointment to put on it at night. I haven’t tried it yet as it seems to make your vision blur, but I’ll do it as soon as I get the blog written. I was relieved that it wasn’t anything worse and pleased that I’d got it seen to (pun not entirely intended).

By the time I was coming home, the automatic headlights came on, so there would be no outdoors photos today. In fact the only thing I could think of photographing was three of the roses that Clive had sent us. With a slow shutter speed to achieve a low ISO, they looked good. I know you really are interested in this JIC, that’s why I’m telling you 😉!

Today’s topic on my Inktober list was “A Radio. This is Scamp’s DAB digital radio. It’s the only discrete radio in the house, that is one that’s not built into something else. It’s so rarely that we use a radio these days. Scamp listens to Money Box on Radio 4 and I rarely listen to anything at all. Radios are and endangered species these days. This one was drawn in pen, then rendered with a water colour marker and a white pen. I also used lots and lots of Post It notes as masks to keep the edges neat. I thought a radio would be an easy topic. It wasn’t. Tomorrow the topic is “A Butterfly”. Not many of them around in October.

Not sure what we’re doing tomorrow. It looks like being wet again.

Just another dancing fool – 9 October 2019

Driving through the driving rain to dance our hearts out to Michael’s tune.

Just another Wednesday. Weather was almost as bad as yesterday with more high winds blowing more rain clouds our way. Managed to avoid most of the rain on our walk down to Blackfriars. Stood and watched some brave souls abseiling down the City Chambers to give the statues a but of a wash and brush up. Thought it was Extinction Rebellion protesters at first, then realised they were wearing hi-vis jackets with a company logo on them, so they were legit. Below them they seemed to be giving away “Boris Bikes”, but on closer inspection it was just a photo opportunity to show off the new “Electric Boris Bikes”. I can’t imagine what an Electric Boris would be like. Probably he’d short circuit the National Grid.

Even further down the road there were a film crew setting up. We used to get excited when we saw film crews in Glasgow, but now it’s just par for the course and we’ve learned to ignore them. Glasgow is built on an orthogonal grid with roads running North / South and East / West, so with it’s old turn of the last century buildings it makes a decent look alike for some of the older parts of American cities. It must be a lot cheaper to seal off a portion of Glasgow that, say, Chicago. Couldn’t see what or who was being filmed today.

Dancing was quite good, but although the room is fine for Jive, it’s really too small for ballroom. We leaders keep getting told to take bigger steps in Waltz and Quickstep, but when we do, there’s so much clutter in the room we can’t fit in all the steps. Pillars in the way don’t help either. However, today we reprised the entire Over the Rainbow set and we got to dance with some of the advanced dancers which is always good, because they are so exact and so quick. We eventually gave up trying to dance round the room because people would stop and discuss who was right and who was wrong and, coupled with the two speaker stacks, the piano and the pillars there were too many obstacles in the way. Instead, we practised the short routines we’d been learning.

Coffee afterwards for our usual debrief, then back up to the car park. We weren’t so lucky on the way back and got fairly well soaked. In addition I wanted some shots to use for today’s sketch. My Inktober list for today wanted “A bird’s eye view or a worm’s eye view”. In view of the strong winds, I decided that a bird’s eye view was out of the question. Also because of the heavy rain showers, I had to give up on an in-situ sketch, so instead I took some shots to use as reference material for today’s sketch.  It’s the Cranberry’s [sic] Restaurant in Glasgow.  Interesting building with a sort of tower breaking out of the corner of it.

Back home I decided there was enough light to warrant a walk to St Mo’s where I got today’s PoD which is a toadstool I saw emerging on Saturday. It’s grown a fair bit since then. I thought I’d get home dry, but that wasn’t going to happen. I got soaked, but at least it was on the way back.

Tomorrow I go to see the nurse about my blood results and Isobel is coming to lunch.