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No gym, no swim, no more – 6 November 2018

Today we agreed to cancel our subscription the the Westerwood money pit.

We agreed, reluctantly, that we weren’t using the facilities at Westerwood. We don’t use the gym to its full extent and basically as we are more concerned with our cardio fitness rather than muscle building, we can achieve that easily with our three hours plus of dancing a week. The pool was the biggest draw for us, but with the increase of people using the spa facilities and getting free use of the pool, it was becoming a hit or a miss getting enough room in the pool to actually swim. Having to negotiate the little groups of girls standing in clumps in the pool wasn’t fun. I will definitely miss the steam room, especially on those days when I have a cold hanging over me. The steam room really did seem to help clear my tubes. I won’t miss the constant repairs that seemed to take much longer than necessary. I will also not miss the “Waterbabies” classes that took up half the already busy pool. In the last year, I think I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve done the gym/swim thing. I will have to make other arrangements for Mondays, but that shouldn’t really be a problem. The cancellation letter has been written and signed by both of us and the standing order has been cancelled. Anyone want to buy a nearly-new gym bag?

It was a bright morning this morning, but it went rapidly downhill. By 3pm when I finally dragged myself and the “Big Dog” over to St Mo’s, the light was fading away. Today’s PoD was one of the first shots I took. It was hand-held at 1/8th sec and if fairly sharp for that shutter speed. It’s been altered quite a lot since it was taken. General levels and cropping in Lightroom and more adventurous arty stuff in ON1 2018. Most significant was the injection of a new sky and also the reflection of it in the water. I’m now tempted to buy the 2019 version which has even more bells and whistles. It’s still at the Beta stage with the promise of the full thing in mid November. Perhaps I’ll wait for that.

Lovely dinner tonight which was Mince & Tatties with Mashed Turnip & Carrots. Of course, you can’t have M&T without Beetroot, now can you JIC? Scamp had the vegetables bolstered by veggie sausages.

I decided that after yesterday’s rally cross stuff over the Tak Ma Doon, I’d better wash the car. It was a pleasant enough day for it, especially in the early afternoon. Didn’t take too long either.

Tomorrow morning I’m going with Colin Campbell to Maureen Watson’s funeral in Airdrie. Another death that shook me more than I’d expected.

Out looking for foties – 5 November 2018

It’s Monday. It’s a Gems day. I need an excuse to get out.

Dull, damp, uninspiring morning. Hoping it would get better (brighter) later, I trawled through some photos in Flickr looking for inspiration. Saw a photo of Loch Lomond with the hills just dusted with snow. That would do. Millarochy Bay would be good if the light got a bit better. As one o’ clock drew nearer and no decent light appeared, I was getting worried that it might end up being the Luggie Water or even St Mo’s again, then I had a brainwave, or something like it. I’d go up over the Tak Ma Doon road and see what the weather was like on the other side of the hills, and that’s what I did.

Passed a few cyclists on the climb of the Tak Ma Doon into the clouds and was glad I was in a car. Had a near miss with a wee white Citroen near the top of the climb, but I needn’t have worried. The wee thing looked as if it was made from paper-thin steel and would probably just have bounced off the Juke and gone flying over the dyke and down the hill using the ‘alternative route’. Crested the final rise and yes, the weather did look a bit lighter on the other side, although it was difficult to be sure because I was still in the low cloud. Noticed that the Faughlin Reservoir is now a stocked trout fishery with a stonking price of £25 per day. I used to fish it regularly some years ago for nothing. Then I remembered that that was thirty years ago! Drove on to Carron Reservoir and parked for a very realistic £2.

Walked up to past the dam and took some shots near a wooden seat dedicated to Pam Jackson, but couldn’t find anything to say who she was.
Walked on and tried some bracketed exposures of the loch, but the light was fading, so I headed back to the car.

The PoD was taken near that seat and nearly got my feet wet again. Processed in ON1 2018 and in Lightroom. It gives the feel of the place. I would go back again on a day when the light was better.

Tomorrow we have no plans, but I’m sure something will come up to grab our attention.

Down the Green – 4 November 2018

We’ve been talking about it for a while, now we had to walk the walk, literally.

Drove down to Glasgow Green and walked round our usual circuit of the dear green place. Although there was very little of the ‘green’ stuff visible. Most of it was covered with protective tracks to allow the lorrys pulling the fairground rides to park up. Tomorrow is Bonfire night and The Green usually hosts the fireworks display and to entertain the crowds and to make a few bob on the side, the funfair comes to town.

That wasn’t all. Lots of rowers were out on the river. You could tell that the 8s and 4s were time-served crews, but some of the pairs and single sculls were ropey to say the least. The river was running dirty and full of debris. We watched half a tree, complete with leaves making its way downstream against groups of rowers attempting to head upstream. Eventually it was coaxed into the shallows on the park side of the river. Today’s PoD was a tight crop on one of the rowing fours. I think Scamp’s ankle was acting up because she wasn’t interested in extending our walk and settled for watching the action from the suspension bridge.

Walked over to the People’s Palace and had lunch in the Winter Garden. Such a shame that this lovely structure is to be closed indefinitely. In other words, it will be sealed off until it fails catastrophically, then it will be demolished as it is a H&S risk. That’s cheaper than repairing it. The up side of this decision is that the Councillors Christmas Junket Fund is safe for the next few years.

Had my usual roll ’n’ sausage and a cup of coffee. Scamp had peppermint tea and a piece of shortbread. Then we had a walk round the plants and saw some Dasheen which as far as we can remember is used for making Callaloo in Trinidad.

Drove back and while Scamp went out to dig up some gladioli from the front garden and ‘do a bit of tidying up’ there, I gathered my cameras and went for a walk to St Mo’s. The most interesting thing I saw was a Caddis Fly wildly out of season. They usually hatch in late spring or at the beginning of summer. Poor wee thing looked quite shell-shocked, and no wonder.

Went over to St Mo’s in the evening to see the firework display. Usual set of bangs and flashes, but notably a few purple lights in them for a change. What is it about purple? You don’t see it all that often in fireworks. I’m guessing the chemical used to give that light is more expensive than most the other colours.

Tomorrow is Gems day. I may go to the gym and I may go in to Glasgow looking for drawing ink.

Old haunts – 3 November 2018

Today we went for a curry in Hamilton.

Since my brother mentioned he and his wife were going to the Bombay Cottage I’ve been hinting at Scamp that we should go back there for lunch. Today was that day. It was a dismal, dull, wet day and a curry for lunch sounded just the job. Parked across from the restaurant and got a window seat to boot! Food was excellent and the nan bread was the biggest I’ve ever seen. I’d have taken a photo but I hadn’t brought the ultra wide angle lens! Really, it must have been over 60cm long. Scamp reckons it’s been ten years since we’ve been there. I’m hoping it won’t be another ten years before we’re back.

After lunch we walked down into what used to be Hamilton town centre. This place used to be bustling on a Saturday afternoon, wet or not. Today all that was missing was the tumbleweed rolling down the road. It was described by one of the shopkeepers as “a ghost town”. The streets were empty, half the shops were closed and boarded up and even the covered shopping centre was almost empty of customers. Another Scottish town that’s had the heart ripped out of it. We bought some fish for tomorrow’s dinner and that was about it. Couldn’t believe the difference in this once thriving town. I managed to get the makings of today’s PoD. A shot of Keith’s Building in Cadzow street. This building has a chequered history to say the least. Some dodgy goings on used to happen in and around it, way back in the late ’60s. Before we came home we visited Hazy’s favourite shop in Hamilton. The Ink Spot. Part stationery shop, part art shop, part interesting little nicknack shop. An Aladdin’s cave of goodies. It hasn’t changed Hazy!

Drove home and although the streets were drying there were dark clouds seeming to drape down right to the horizon all the way round. Went to Tesco on the way home to get milk and a bottle of wine to cheer us up tonight. We didn’t drink it all … honest! Spoke to Hazy and Neil on Skype until the connection started to fail on their end, after that we literally spoke to the icon of Hazy on our end although they were receiving both sound and video on their end.

Spent an hour working the first version of today’s PoD up on ON1, only for it to go !PoP! and leave me with nothing. Went to speak to Duncan on the phone while I cooled down, then after I was done, calmly started again. This time I saved often between important changes and of course it didn’t go !PoP! this time and the backups I’d made weren’t needed. But, if I hadn’t made those backups … !

Sketched a bit tonight using a mixture of fountain pen and dipper pen. I’m now looking for some brown / sepia fountain pen ink. I think it will need to be on-line!

Tomorrow? Apart from trout for dinner, there are no plans. It’s supposed to be a better day than today. That wouldn’t be difficult.

Cold Day – Hot Orange – 2 November 2018

Cold start anyway, with zero on the outside thermometer when we woke.

Cold but bright. Sat for an hour or so in the morning soaking up the sunshine coming straight through the front windows. Not so comfortable at the back garden where the birdbath was frozen solid all day.

Spent an hour or so trying and succeeding in cataloguing videos on my NAS drive. Eventually wrote a wee Hazel script to do it much more efficiently and more importantly, automatically.

Finally went out in the afternoon to take Scamp to a Witches Coven in Wetherspoons. Tried to tell her she was a couple of days late, but it didn’t seem to matter. Kneaded some dough to make a pizza for dinner, then while it proved, I spent an hour taking photos for the PoD that I’d half intended doing yesterday before Pierre grabbed the limelight. After that it was another hour on an overheating (artistic license!) computer to merge the two images I liked best. After all that I didn’t like the finished result and changed the background to a better less rubbish one and that became PoD!

That was about it. It’s going to rain all day tomorrow according to the doom merchants at the weather centre, so we will rue our stay-at-home day today. It was all our own fault.

Tomorrow we are going out for lunch apparently, despite the weather! Probably the best thing we could do.

Coffee – 1 November 2018

Coffee with the boys. That’s enough to brighten anyone’s day.

Met Fred and Val for coffee this afternoon and sorted the world out again, discussed spying on bird feeders with Val and received critical acclaim for my Inktober sketches from both, but mainly Fred. While the other two had Cortados, I chose to have a Luxury Hot Chocolate, also know as Diabetes in a Glass. Super sweet chocolate syrup and just a hint of milk to water it down a bit.

We had to split up after an hour or so because Val was meeting his wife and Fred was edgy wondering how long we were allowed to park on in the Green carpark. NLC don’t seem to post a notice of waiting times, so they will argue that the didn’t actually state that you could park there for two hours. That was your supposition, not their stated limit. I think that’s how their mind works. Guilty until proven innocent.

Drove round to B&M for peanuts and fat balls for the bird feeder, then drove to B&Q where I bumped into Fred again who was just leaving. Left there with a picture frame for £2.50 and went to Tesco for a bottle of wine and a magazine for Scamp. Got petrol on the way out and again watched Fred drive past on his way home. I must tell him to stop stalking me, or am I stalking him? Who knows.

Later I went to pick up Isobel and bring her out for her dinner before we went to pick up June and take them to the concert they were going to. For some reason, Scamp decided it would be better (safer?) to park at the badly lit bus stop and decant everybody on to the roadside, then escort them across the road to the hall, rather than park in the carpark for the hall and let them get out there. Women’s logic. I’ll never understand it. Surprisingly, nobody was injured in this road safety nightmare.

Came home and shot tonight’s PoD after having to consult the InterWeb to find out how to get out of the complicated and overcrowded information screen I’d never seen before on the back of the D7000. Not the finest picture in the world, but it’s done. Noticed that Flickr is now going to limit the amount of photos the free account can have to 1,000. Not really surprised, the 1TB was a ridiculous amount of space. I may have to buy a Pro account to keep using it.

Really missing the routine of posting a picture of my sketches every day. I think after a few days of ‘freedom’ I’ll start to fill my ‘Sketches’ album in Flickr again.

Got the phone call to pick up the concert goers at 9.30 and drove Isobel back home. June decided to walk. Driving at that time of night is a delight. No traffic to speak of and no rush. Just driving.

So no sketch tonight, but tomorrow is another day. No plans for it yet, but I’m sure we’ll fill up our time somehow.

31 Not Out – 31 October 2018

An ink sketch every day in October completed.

Thirty one sketches in ten different sketchbooks, using eleven different drawing instruments.
High points, low points. Days when I could have happily posted more than one and days when I could happily have postponed my sketch until the next day. Great fun certainly worth the effort of drawing in ink all the time. It may just have been the fact that you can’t erase mistakes, you just have to accept them. It may have been the opportunity to try different techniques with different types of pens I’d never have thought about drawing with before. Looking forward to the next challenge.

Today was dancing day and it didn’t go well. Scamp made mistakes, I made mistakes and between us we managed to screw up, not only the Jive, but also the Waltz and the Quickstep too. Maybe we were taking ourselves too seriously, maybe we were rating ourselves too highly. Whatever it was, it was knocked out of us today. Me more than Scamp, but we both had a share. We must practise before next week.

On the way home, the light was good on the big glass reflector that is 110 Queen Street and I got some clear shots of the reflections of the old sandstone buildings in it. I also tried some reflections of people in the convex glass panels near the door. The building reflections eventually became PoD after some jiggery pokery in Lightroom.

I’d counted the sketchbooks I’d used last night and the pens too, entering them in an Excel spreadsheet. Today I created that mysterious thing, a Pivot Table. I still don’t really know what I’m doing with it, but what I did worked and gave me a printable list of the things I needed to gather for today’s sketch. I cleared my drawing board and set up the pens in a cup and piled the sketchbooks up beside it and then set to to sketch it. It just seemed to flow together and when the ink work was dry I started in with some watercolour, realising immediately that I hadn’t been using a water resisting ink. However, I liked the shading the ink was producing when mixed with water, and kept it. That is the final sketch in Inktober 2018.

Salsa tonight was a re-run of Monday’s Halloween Party. Scamp and I won equal first place with another couple for the Dress the Mummy competition. I do hope Jamie G has a video of it, or even some photos. Great fun again.  What wasn’t fun was trying to thread a way through the football traffic on our way to the STUC.  I hate football traffic.

That’s about it. Successes and failures today. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Fred and Val. Looking forward to it.

Perf – 30 October 2018

Today we were off to Perf. Gateway to the best coffee beans in Scotland, if not the world.

Drove up to Perf on a beautiful clear morning. That said, it became a bit cloudier as we travelled north. I’d come with gifts for the Perf folk. I donate my two bike carriers to the bike shop across the road from the car park. Neither of them fit either of our cars, and are now superfluous to our needs. They were just cluttering up the house and were going to be dumped, so if someone can get the benefit of them, all the better. I also took a load of computer books to the Oxfam shop in Perf. I’ve read them and used them well, but now I usually consult the InterWeb if I’m in need of information and besides, they were well out of date.

Next we had to decide what we were doing for lunch. Scamp had an Itison voucher for Cafe Tabou which is now under new ownership. We decided to give them a try and see if they’d kept up the excellent standard of the previous owners. For starter, Scamp had Roast Red Pepper Chick Pea Ragout with Tempura of Fish and I had Salad Du Chef.
For main she had Breaded Plaice Fillet with Chips(!) and I had French Black Pudding & Pork Belly. She was perfectly happy with her selection, I felt the main was a bit tasteless, although the caramelised apples and cider sauce was lovely. Worth another Itison voucher some time. When we came out the streets were just drying after a heavy rain shower and you could feel that there was still a bit of rain on the breeze.

After the lunch, we went for walk to get the coffee and tea that I so desperately needed. Then a walk along to the the viewing gallery over the River Tay. Beautiful light on the trees on the far bank and the sun was shining now on the bridge, so that became my PoD after it was de-fished (no fish were injured in the operation) and some work done on the levels. Samyang 7.5 is a really versatile lens.

With the river inspected, we headed back to the car and the drive home through some beautiful light with nowhere to stop and record it. We also passed through some heavy rain showers that had probably created that beautiful light on the hills.

Sat and sketched my teacup and two digestive biscuits for today’s Inktober sketch. Thirty sketches in and only one left to do tomorrow. Tomorrow as I’m sure you know by now is one of those busy days with two dancing classes and the driving to get there, there’s not much time for dawdling, so I already have a plan for tomorrow’s sketch. It will need a bit of preparation, part of which I have already done with the assistance of an Excel spreadsheet. Art and computing are not the easiest bedfellows, but hopefully one will help with the other if I have my way.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Anything else will just have to fit in with that!

Walking in sunshine – 29 October 2018

Today I thought I’d go to the gym, or maybe a swim. Instead, I did a bit of sunbathing.

Well, Sunbathing might be a bit of a stretch, but a walk in the sun, now that would be a more pleasant way to spend the afternoon rather than swimming in a crowded pool or sweating it out in the gym.

That’s what I did. While Gems were being put through their paces I was making paces along the canal and across the plantation then back to the car. The light was beautiful this afternoon. One of those days with golden light. Managed to miss a lot of the good light, but also grabbed some too so I did bring some of the sunshine home with me in the little black boxes with the glass things in the front. PoD went to the one you see at the top of the page. It took a bit of post-processing which I won’t bore you with, but it went through a couple of pieces of software until I was happy with the result.

Driving home I came to the roundabout at the bottom of the road to find a blue car, maybe a Ka sitting on its roof with the windscreen in smithereens an the doors wide open. A crowd round it seemed to be consoling a young asian girl who looked as if she was in shock. Not the sort of thing you see everyday! When we went out to salsa tonight I noticed that two of the steel barrier poles on the roundabout had been flattened, I presume by a flying blue car. Nobody seemed to be seriously injured, but someone was not going to have a happy Monday night.

After I came home I settled down to sketch a bowl of pears that was just sitting there waiting to be recorded on paper. I was quite pleased with the way it went and decided to put it away and have a better look with a more critical eye when we came back from salsa.

Tonight was Jamie Gal’s Halloween Party – for the advanced class. Some dancers who had fallen away a bit appeared to bolster our numbers and we all had a great time. Played the Hat Game. Everyone tries to grab a hat from the present wearer’s head and when the music stops the wearer gets a prize. Simple and funny. In the past it has led to fights on the dance floor with bodies rolling around shouting “IT’S MINE!”. We were a bit more restrained tonight. Jamie had a new game “Sort of ready”. Which usually means he has the gist of it, but some of the a lot of the details need ironing out. The basis of the game was that we’d dance a Rueda until somebody stopped the music, then there would be a task given out. The task was to grab a roll of toilet paper from a stack in the middle of the floor and wrap up your partner like a mummy. I thought we did well, but Thomas went just that extra mile and ended up with some toilet paper stuffed up his nose as well as being wrapped in it. Probably the best game Jamie has invented recently. He tried to film some of our legendary Dancing In The Dark Rueda with his drone, but it didn’t want to play nice tonight and I think he aborted that part.

Came home and reviewed the sketch, changed some bits, but basically just cleaned it up and posted it. Inktober 2018 No 29 in the bag.

It’s cold tonight again. Just 0.5ºc. Tomorrow we may go to Perth.

Summer’s gone – 28 October 2018

British Summer Time ended at 2am this morning and I didn’t even hear it go.

So we are now officially out of summer and into the autumn, if not the winter, of our discontent. Even the weather got in on the act with the temperature just managing to climb above zero this morning. Tonight, as I write this, it is dropping away again and sits at 2.1ºc.

We’d half intended to go for a walk in Glasgow Green this morning, but instead we headed in the other direction and visited Asda instead with the twin purposes of buying Cream of Tartar (apparently and essential ingredient in the making of soda scones) and a Halloween tee shirt for Jamie’s Halloween Salsa class tomorrow night. We were partly successful, in that I got a tee shirt and the Cream of Tartar (is Cream of Tartan different? I just typed that by mistake) but Scamp was not impressed by any of the Halloween offerings.

After lunch I went through the usual argument at this time of year: “So, if it’s twenty past ONE now, that’s really the equivalent of twenty past TWO yesterday, since the clocks went back silently this morning. And if it’s now twenty past TWO and a few seconds, I shouldn’t really be sitting here arguing with myself, I should be out in the bright sunshine taking some photos.” Scamp didn’t want to go out for a walk because she was up to her armpits in cake mixture after taking a notion to bake a cake for Gems tomorrow.

I took a walk over St Mo’s suitably wrapped up in the Bergy jacket with the zipped in lining and a warm hat. I wish I’d also taken a warm scarf, but at least I’d the forethought to stuff a pair of gloves in my pocket. The remains of yesterday’s Halloween party were scattered around. Pumpkins everywhere. I’d expected them to be almost completely destroyed by now after having been booted around the park, but no, they were neatly piled up with their toothy grins smiling at passers by. Got a few photos of them, but PoD turned out to be a Harvestman arachnid (NOT a spider).

”Harvestmen have one body section (spiders have two), two eyes on a little bump (most spiders have eight), a segmented abdomen (unsegmented in spiders), no silk, no venom, a totally different respiratory system, and many other differences.”
Burke Museum of Natural History

Anyway, the Harvestman made it to the PoD.

By the time I came back home the temperature was definitely dropping away as the sun was also dropping below the horizon. Such short days at this time of year.

Today’s Inktober sketch, No 28 is of chillies. It might be because of the curry we had for dinner that was just a wee bit hot. It might be because it’s been a chilly day with the temperature not rising much above 5ºc. Anyway, it’s chillies for a chilly day.

Tomorrow is a Gems day. I may go to the gym. Too cold for cycling I fear.