Blog

16 Oct

Dreaming of things that could never be done – 6 October 2017

Today we went to Mugdock Park.

For the first time I actually used the satnav in the car. It worked perfectly. I knew how to get to Mugdock, but I wasn’t sure how to get in to central Glasgow from there and the satnav got me there without a single wrong turn. We went to Mugdock to go to a craft exhibition in aid of Playlist for Dementia, after being alerted to the event by a friend of ours. Exhibition was interesting, with quite a few decent paintings and also some lovely wood carving pieces. I wanted to go in to Glasgow afterwards and that’s where the satnav came into its own.

Saw some great places to photograph on the way in. Places I haven’t seen for years, like a place on Balmore Road I went looking for a job away back in the early ’70s. Didn’t get the job, got another one instead. Moving from one job to another was so much easier in those days, not like now. We parked in the JL carpark and I used that other brilliant piece of new-tech, the reversing camera. Honestly, I don’t know how I managed without it. In the street it’s useful, but in a multi it’s absolutely essential. We were on level 5 so we could just walk straight into JL which was convenient as I wanted to have a wistful, wishful look at an iMac. They had them in JL, but the model on display was an old-tech 2015 model. It might as well have been 1915, computers have moved on so quickly. It was running the latest Mac OS, but painfully slowly. Thankfully the ones in the Apple shop were up to date. For once, I’d say I’d trust them with my money before JL, but it’s just a dream at present.

For lunch we went to the Russian restaurant we went to ages ago and boring me had the same starter and main I had then while Scamp went for a different selection, but wasn’t impressed with it again. Hard to please, is Scamp. Of course I’m just the opposite. Happy with my lot 😉 Well, at least I was happy with my Borscht and Golubtzi.

On the way back I listened to a couple of blokes busking. The bloke on the guitar was ok, but the other one playing the sax was very good. That’s him at the top of the page.

Sketch today was done from a photo. I just can’t seem to gee my ginger and get some decent drawing done. Too much going on in my head I think. Must calm down, ground myself and my sketching will improve, I’m sure.

Trying out a new journal app now that Day One Classic has been dropped by Dropbox and is being retired by its makers. Day One 2 has been re-written and it’s now free, but to get it to sync you have to pay a hefty annual subscription. I’m not a fan of being held to ransom by subscription, so I’m testing out Journey. It works on OSX, Windows, Android and Chrome. For some reason best known to the makers, it is not available as an app for IOS, but you can use a web based version for free from any platform. I may not be using IOS either soon as my phone contract is up half way through the month and I don’t like the direction Apple are going with their mobiles. I think I will look at an Android instead.

Don’t have plans for tomorrow. Wait and see, that’s the byword.

16 Oct

DML – 5 October 2017

We had decided that if the day was good and sunny we’d go to DML to show it to the Red Juke. It was, and we did.

To make sure we were doing it right, we drove through ‘Blue Rinse’ Callander to take the Duke’s Pass to DML. It will now be renamed the Juke’s Pass. It was on this road that we realised one of the shortfalls of DAB radios. They are fine in the Central Belt and Glasgow, but take one to anywhere slightly hilly and out of town, for instance, the Juke’s Pass and the reception becomes patchy to say the least. We stopped to try to figure it out which allowed the wee silver car in front of us, the one that only had first and second gear, to get away from us. Started off again and enabled Sport Mode. I can now verify that the Juke can corner with the best of them. Scamp doesn’t like Sport Mode. Unfortunately she couldn’t find the Zaphod Beeblebrox glasses. It goes like stink, even up the steepest hills.

We got to DML It’s never going to be ’The Lodge’1 we parked in the designated place where we park every new car we get. It’s a tradition as you well know. That’s The Juke there in the picture, looking quite Flame Red.

We put our walking boots on. Mine clabbered in muck and Scamp’s showroom clean and walked to the waterfall which was looking very dramatic today with the water running off a spate after yesterday and the day before’s rain. The place was busy with a bus tour party, mostly American’s. The Capital letter means they didn’t get in my way while I was photographing the waterfall and weren’t loud and shouty as they sometimes are.

Had a bowl of soup in the cafe that purported to be leek and potato, but no leeks or potatoes were observed although it had been blitzed to death, so any constituent parts would have been microscopic. However, it was hot (very hot) and warmed us up.

Drove back through Aberfoyle and stopped for coffee at the new place, the Smiddy near Blair Drummond. Coffee was ok, but not great and Ginger and Cranberry scone was worth experimenting with. We’ll add it to our ’Worth Trying Again’ list.

Stopped once more at Dobbies for Scamp to add another rose to her collection. This one was Peace. One of my mum’s favourites.

Tomorrow if it’s as good as today, we may go to Mugdock to a craft sale for a Dementia charity.


  1. If you come from Larky, ’The Lodge’ can either mean a protestant extremist organisation or a very secretive, but not secret (honest, nothing secret here) organisation. Both excuses for cheap bar prices. Count the ’rubber men’ outside either of their premises and you’ll agree. 
16 Oct

Wrong Tyres – 4 October 2017

Thought I’d get up out early to Jim Dicksons, only to find that there were about ten people already waiting for their tyres. Booked in and went for a walk. Shouldn’t be long the girl said. Walked down past the old school and got some photos there. Then went along to see if I see anything worth sketching, but nothing inspired me. Eventually turned back and waited in the garage, only to be told that the supplier had delivered the wrong tyres! Bloke apologised, well it wasn’t his fault, and said they’d be in about 1pm. Came home in a strop. This is what I’d given up my nice warm bed for. Calmed down when I realised they were about the cheapest around and they HAD apologised.

Finished my book The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben this morning. It was translated from German, but unfortunately it was translated into american. Why can’t they translate into English? It was a good book, verging on being a great book, but there was a lot of waffle in it and at first I thought it was going to be all ‘tree hugging’, but the science in it was interesting enough to keep me reading. Thought provoking is what I’d call it.

Finally got the tyres fixed about 3pm. The correct size tyres were there. There was someone to fit them. Job done!

Carrot and Chickpea Curry for dinner. Ages since I’d made this! It was good too.

Salsa in the evening and the lights worked in the Juke. Not as bright as the Megane, but at least they were there. The beginners class had reduced from around 50 eight weeks ago to about 10 tonight. Some folk just don’t have the stamina for classes!

Today’s sketch is just a place marker.  Need to be more organized.  Get Things Done as Bowie said.

Really wet coming home, but the weather system is supposed to pass overnight with the prospect of a good day tomorrow. If it is, we’re off to DML.

 

16 Oct

One in, One out – 3 October 2017

Today started with Scamp driving the Juke to Tesco with me in the co-pilot’s seat. I searched all morning, but I couldn’t find my Zaphod Beeblebrox glasses. You know, the ones that go completely dark when danger threatens! It wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Apart from the seat being too close to the steering wheel (wooden blocks for the pedals I think) and the mirrors being in the wrong place it went fine. No hissy fits from either of us, and we came home without any scratches (on us or the car).

After Scamp brought the car back home. I changed cars and drove her car down to the Village to get new tyres. Yes, they had tyres to fit it, but were too busy and would be for a while. Could I come back around 3pm. No problem, I could go back and then take the Juke to Stirling to sort out the lights problem, so drove home and picked up Scamp and drove the Juke to Stirling.

The salesman was a bit bemused and told me that Yes, I had been using the correct lights and Yes, the dipped headlight was working properly. He then took it into the garage so the ‘Techies’ could have a look at it. He came back and told us that everything was fine and the Techies couldn’t find anything wrong. However, the lights looked brighter to us now. I thought I had a winner when I remembered the dash cam had been on all the time so I had a record of what had happened. Then when I checked, I couldn’t see much of what had happened because by the time we got home, the camera had overwritten part of the recording, mainly because it had filled the ‘Protected’ folder of the camera with pointless videos, each one protected so it couldn’t be overwritten. Also, I couldn’t hear anything that was being said behind our backs because Christine and The Queens was playing at full blast. Ok, problem not explained, but probably solved. Drove home.

Dropped the Duke off and drove the Micra down to the tyre place. It was empty. Bloke asked me what I wanted done and when I told him two new front tyres, he said he only had one. Could I bring it back tomorrow. Oh well, what’s one more day, one more journey.

Drove home. You can guess the rest. Yes, dropped off the Micra and picked up my camera and took the Duke down to Auchinstarry which is where I got all of today’s pics and a sketch as well.  Bathtime for the Ducks got PoD.

Tomorrow I’ll take the Micra for new tyres. Hopefully they will have tyres and staff to fit them. Oh yes, tried the lights tonight and they are much brighter than yesterday. I still wonder what they did in the garage!

16 Oct

Today I had a plan – 2 October 2017

You should always start out with a plan. If nothing else, a list of things to do today. I had a plan, and I stuck to it (almost).

Maybe it was the getting up early yesterday to watch the Sepang GP that did it. Maybe it was that if I stayed in bed I’d be listening to the wind howling through the trees. Maybe it was because Scamp had shamed me into getting up and out. Probably all three. I got up and got going. First stop on the plan was The Fort. I was looking for two or three half pans of watercolour paint, some fixative aerosol and some magnetic plastic strip. I figured I could get them all at Hobbycraft. Next, I was going to the gym or maybe the pool to kick the dull winter blues. Thirdly I was going to get a photo and a sketch done. The magnetic strip was no problem, Hobbycraft had loads of different sizes and shapes of them. Hedged my bets by getting some strip and also some stick-on squares. Half pans were a non starter. They didn’t sell them. Fixative was too expensive at £10. So I’d have to drive in to town and go to Cass Art.

It’s wasn’t an onerous task driving into town. Just for fun I switched into Sport mode and enjoyed the acceleration driving along the motorway. Parked no bother up on St James Street. That’s not its real name. I can never remember its real name, but it’s always St James Street to us. Walked down into the town and noticed that as usual it was much calmer with the buildings to shelter us pedestrians from the wind. Except, that is when you are near the big curved glass and steel structure on Queen Street. Like the Sky Garden in London, it seems to attract the wind and magnify its effect, possibly the curved frontage has something to do with that. Got the fixative, but still couldn’t find the colours was looking for and time was ticking away if I was going to achieve number 2 on the list. Gave up and headed back to the car then drove to Westerwood where I spent half an hour in the pool, the steam room and the sauna. Drove back home and just as I was getting to the front door the sun started to shine. It lit up the two or three nasturtiums that have self-seeded in the front garden. The bright orange of the flowers against the green of the leaves made a great colour combination, and that was the photograph. Nearly there.

Sorted out (hopefully) a problem that’s stopping some people from posting to the Flickr Inktober 2017 group and by then it was time to make the dinner. Strozzapreti with tomato, red pepper and spinach sauce. Very nice. Then out to salsa.

First class was easy. Intermediate level. Next class was murder, advanced and lots of twisting, turning, ducking and swearing. I don’t know why I put myself through it. Yes I do, it’s great fun.

Yesterday, driving home in the dark I wasn’t impressed with the car headlights. Today I found out why. I was driving home with side lights. The headlights weren’t coming on. Just to be safe, tonight I drove with sidelights and front fogs. I’m going to have to take the car to Stirling tomorrow to have a word with the man. Then, turning into the estate with no cars around I turned on main beam to see if that would work. It did, and then the headlights came on! So, they have been wired up, but is there a dry joint somewhere or a loose fuse? I don’t know, but in a car barely four days old, I’d expect the lights to work. Definitely going to have to have that looked at pronto.

Finally got a sketch done about an hour ago. It’s not great, but it’s done.

Tomorrow I believe I’m in the navigator and radio operator’s seat while Scamp has the controls. We’re off to Tesco. Then Stirling.

16 Oct

Inktober begins – 1 October 2017

Today is the 1st of October. For sketchers throughout the world, it’s the first of 31 days of inky fingers and that occasional sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach that tells them it’s 11pm and they haven’t done a sketch that day. On the other hand, as they reach day 31 with a complete folio, it’s a great feeling of achievement. Inktober was started by Jake Parker in 2009 as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavour with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year. In 2015 I signed up, but only managed five or six sketches. Last year, in 2016, I was more determined and completed all 31 sketches. I know Inktober isn’t for everyone, but the regime of a daily sketch helps keep the mind and the hand active. Some people have hosts of rules and a theme for each day of October. I try to keep it simple:

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can add a little watercolour if you want to).

2) Post it online

3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2017

4) Repeat next day

That’s enough of Inktober. What of the day? We were up and dressed early today, that is just after 8am to have breakfast watching the last ever Malaysian GP. It looked like shooty in for Hamilton starting from pole, and with Vettel starting from the back of the pack, but it wasn’t as simple as that. It rarely is. For the second time this season, it was an interesting race, even the parade lap after the chequered flag had its moments with Vettel crashing into Lance Stroll. What a numpty.

I had intended going out for a walk to clear my head after that, but I did my first Inktober sketch instead. It was a really dreadful day weatherwise. Rain, drizzle, smir, torrential. All words for rain and each of them had a place in our weather map today. You’ll notice sunshine wasn’t mentioned. It was there, but its presence was measured in seconds, not minutes and certainly not hours. A dull, dreich day.

The bright spot was Salsa at night. It should have been on in the afternoon, but after a double booking we were sidelined to Ad Lib which is actually a very nice venue. I’d go there again, mainly because I got a nice parking spot almost right outside. Well, I deserve it, having a nice new motor.

Swallow Watch:  This week I saw some swallows, on Monday I think, and this is week 40.

Tomorrow? It’s going to be windy and wet. I may go in to Glasgow to get fixative for the pastels and some watercolour half pans. If I’ve got time I might go swimming. Oh, and I need a sketch!

16 Oct

Untrained – 30 September 2017

We had intended to take the train to Embra today. Scamp even drove us to the station in her car, but …

When we got there we found out that due to safety checks on the line between Haymarket and Waverley, trains (if they weren’t cancelled) were stopping at Linlithgow, about 20 miles from Embra, and it was up to you to get from Linlithgow to Embra. That’s Scotrail for you. Make it up as you go along. If the problem is between Haymarket and Waverley, both in Embra, why are they stopping the trains 20 miles away? That’s a pretty big safety zone.  Must be the wrong kind of leaves on the line again.

Anyway, we told the nice ticket man that we wouldn’t be travelling on his maybe-not-cancelled train today and drove home to change cars and drive (me driving this time) to Perf, not Embra. It was a pleasant drive up the A9 to the Fair City of Perth. Car performed perfectly and I finally got the hang of the new cruise control. I also tried out the speed limiter, but that’s not as much fun. Best of all, I tried out Sport mode which gives you a nice little whack of G-force as you accelerate! Only to be used sparingly as it does eat up your fuel consumption. All in all it’s a really nice car to drive. I’m very impressed.

Perf was busy as usual on a weekend. Far too many people around I much prefer going on a weekday. Got some coffee, some tea and some dried fruit to make my breakfast compote. Fruit for the compote, there’s no coffee or tea in it. Just thought I’d make that clear. While we were there and while Scamp was shopping in Marks, I wandered round the outside of St John’s Kirk, the big church in the middle of the town. I got a sketch done. It’s a bit ropey, but with a bit of tweaking from the photo I took, it should do. Tomorrow is the start of Inktober 2017 and I need to get myself back in harness to do a sketch a day. There’s a wee challenge for you Hazy. One sketch every day, posted on Flickr. You can add it to my group if you want. Only one real rule. The predominant medium must be ink, hence the name. You too, JIC. Get started sketching. Fifteen minutes in your lunch break is all you need!!
Today’s PoD is a wide angle shot from the walk round the church. I also liked the monkey gargoyle!

A couple of weeks ago Scamp came across an envelope from a school venture with a £10 note in it. It was surplus money from a school trip we went on twenty odd years ago. It wasn’t my money and the school doesn’t exist any more, so today it went into a charity tin in the Heart Foundation shop in Perf. They will be able to use it. I’d already checked with the bank and it was still legal tender.

Back home, dinner was a Scamp speciality, Prawn Stir fry. Spicy and hot, but very, very good.

I’d been reading a book about painting with pastels in an Oxfam bookshop in Perf.  I don’t think you draw with pastels, you paint with them.  I hadn’t really used pastels, except for messing around with them for a graphics topic for school.  Today I pinned a sheet of Ingres paper on an old drawing board and painted a landscape.  The same one I’d been tentatively poking paint at for the last week.  This one took maybe half an hour?  It’s rough, but I like it.  Maybe I’ll fix it and frame it.

Tomorrow looks wet. I think we’re going dancing at night because the usual Sunday Social venue is double booked and we lose. Should still be fun.

16 Oct

Flying Solo – 29 September 2017

Today it was my turn to go for coffee.

Before I went I did the underpainting on my Rannoch Moor painting. It’s beginning to look better now I’ve got the proportions sorted out.

Just after midday, I met up with Val and Fred in Costa. I drove there in the Juke. I was flying solo for the first time. No Scamp as radio operator and navigator. Just me and the Juke. And I was fine. So was it. I even got a chance to use the windscreen wipers during one of the heavy rain showers we had.  I also managed to get parked almost straight and in the box at Tesco, thanks to the reversing camera.

It was when I was walking into the Antonine Centre that I realised I hadn’t taken my old satnav from the Megane. I know I won’t need it again, but I couldn’t get it out of my head.

After coffee and a discussion of the state of the world, I drove Val home and he too remarked on the different view you got from the Juke’s elevated seating. After that I went to fill the tank for the first time. The garage had given me half a tank to get me started, but I wanted to fill it to the brim. Surprisingly it cost me just £30! Then when I got back in the car I realised that the petrol tank was much smaller than the Megane. It only holds about 45 litres which is worth about 300miles. That’s just enough to get us to Skye. The Megane took about 60 litres. Oh well, I’ll just have to be more frugal in my driving style, I suppose.

Came home and decided to go out to St Mo’s in the rain to get some photos. I was surprised to find the dandelions still setting seeds. I liked the detail rendered, and that’s why it got PoD. Out behind the forest I saw a trio of Garden Cross spiders on their webs. One male and two female apparently. Troilism in spiders! Who knew?

Then the salesman from the garage phoned to ask how I was finding the car. That was my chance to ask him if the satnav was still in the Megane. He went and had a look and said it was there. He even offered to drop it off on his way home. I said no, that we’d come and pick it up during the week. He must have thought I was mad. Here I am with an up-to-date large screen satnav in the car and I want my old Navman back? It’s the principle of the thing though. It put my mind at rest.

Dinner was a Chicken, Mushroom and Kale pie. Quite delicious and totally gone now.

Maybe off to Embra tomorrow. Not driving though, train is less stressful.

16 Oct

J Day – 28 September 2017

The overriding topic of the day was the Juke. Everything else paled into insignificance.

The day started with Scamp heading off to have coffee with her aunt. I struggled with an app on the Samsung. On the Mac it would have been easy and on the PC I had already solved the problem, but it was becoming a challenge to get it working on android. I finally solved it and got a grid of squares on a photo which I could then transfer on to a canvas. The squaring up was next to do and I then realised that it had been a mistake to paint the ground of the canvas brown when I was going to sketch on it with charcoal which is black. After a frustrating hour of programming and sketching, I gave up and painted over the brown ground with a creamy yellow. I left it to dry just as Scamp returned from her meeting with lunch in paper bags marked ‘Greggs’.

After lunch we took a deep breath and drove the Megane to Stirling. An hour or so later we returned with a shiny bright red Juke after signing my name about a dozen times. The drive was comfortable and smooth. The car felt solid and dependable, but only time will tell. Scamp was delighted with her bouquet of flowers from the dealership too.

After a cup of tea and a read through the manual we set off for another drive. This time I had a fair idea how to use cruise control and how to program the radio and the sat nav. We found our way to Kilsyth and parked at Lidl to buy some ‘messages’ and then took a more twisty, turny road home along beside the canal. There are still some mysteries to investigate in the next few days, but that’s the way it should be with anything new. One disappointment was discovering that Nissan want to charge around £150 for an SD card with the latest map data for the sat nav. I don’t think I’ll be going that path. I may look at a famous internet auction site when the time comes.

When we got home we celebrated the purchase with the bottle of prosecco which came from the dealership too.

Today’s PoD were a couple of cryptic views of the new car, of course. What else could I choose on this bright and sunny day. All shades of yesterday have gone.

Coffee with Fred and Val and then what? Perhaps a short spin? Yes, I think so.

16 Oct

Dull, Dull, Dull – 27 September 2017

There’s not a lot you can say about today. Certainly not a lot of good things anyway.

The highlight of today was driving to B&Q to buy a stepping stool and a new shower head. Now how’s that for excitement? We didn’t go for a walk. We didn’t go for a swim. We didn’t do anything.

Drove in to Glasgow to Salsa and found out that although Jamie G took the depleted beginners class, Shannon was taking the advanced class so I proposed a sharp exit. Shannon has had her fun with me as her whipping boy, but not any more. She runs a good business, but she isn’t a teacher. That’s an hour of my life I wanted to enjoy, not be told I wasn’t doing things right (i.e. her way.) We left. Just to put the tin lid on things, it rained all the way home.

Didn’t even take any decent photos because the light was so poor. Today’s PoD if you can call it that is three of Scamp’s bus-stop ladies made by Geof Cox.

Tomorrow will be better because, for one thing, tomorrow is is ‘J Day’. Hoping to paint in the morning.