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Walking, Dancing and Backups – 19 February 2018

I’d fully intended going to the gym today, but although there was a smir of rain in the air this morning, I decided that to avoid Gems, I’d go for a walk instead. It was the right decision.

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In the morning I finally got my wee 2-in-1 tablet computer sorted out by using an old memory stick to boot into Windows PE and from there run a backup program to restore a backup I’d made way back in 2016. I thought it might be a bit basic, but all the apps I need are on it and I’ve even worked out how to use Microsoft Gallery to import my RAW pics. I got truly fed up with having to manipulate the EXIF data on the photos to allow Lightroom 5 to work with the RAW files from the Teazer (Panasonic TZ 70) so now I’m going to use the free and very good RawTherapee to do the heavy lifting of the RAW processing. I’ll see how it goes in the next few weeks. Right JIC you can come back in again.
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After successfully got rid of the baggage that Win10 leaves behind, and after lunch too, I went for a walk down by the canal.  The weather had cleared up nicely and the air was much warmer than I’d anticipated.  It actually felt like spring was in the air.  I know, there another cold snap due in a few days, but it’s Scotland.  There’s always another cold snap due in a couple of days, even in June … Especially in June!!  I even saw a hairy caterpillar, but it wasn’t caterpillaring around, it was just sitting there.  Maybe it was sunbathing, yes, that’s it.  It was sunbathing in its fur coat.  I took its photo anyway, just for the record.  Caterpillars in February!  Who knew?!  The photo at the top was my favourite of the lot I took, so that’s why it made PoD.

We went dancing at night and just for fun I asked Alexa what the travel time was to the STUC just before we left the house.  She (it?) said 25 minutes.  Twenty five minutes later I was walking along Woodlands Road looking for a parking meter that actually worked.  Glasgow council, you do realise that it’s not enough to plonk new parking meters by the side of the road?  You know you have to maintain them too, and occasionally empty the coins we commuters cram into them every time we need to park?  Duh!  So Alexa translated my speech into text, sent the text to somewhere in California accessed a database from there, checked my commute and returned the data which was turned back into speech and spoken to me in a very human sounding voice, and got it spot on right!  All of that within about five seconds.  Brilliant waste of technology, but still Glasgow council doesn’t seem to know how to operate its parking meters.  If it was up to them, high speed internet connections would be done with two shiny tin cans and a piece of coloured string.
Dancing was ‘interesting’.  We did one rueda move that didn’t have a name and seemed to confuse everyone.  Tonight’s move was ‘Stormtrooper’  Great name.  I hated it.  Then as I saw how it was working, I began to like it and later  in the night when I’d almost perfected it, I thought it was great too, just like its name.  That’s what a good teacher can achieve.

Just my glasses

Tonight’s sketch was just a 15minute shot.  A placemarker of a pencil sketch.  It’s a bit rough, but I don’t have a lot of time on a Monday.

Tomorrow, hopefully, we’re off to Embra, to Leith in fact to go for a fancy lunch.

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Pizza No2 this week – 16 February 2018

New glasses were high on today’s acquisitions.

So we headed off to Larky for the second time this week. Paid my £30 and picked up my reconditioned specs. And what do we do now? Scamp thought we should drive to Glasgow and then go home. I had other ideas. In to Glasgow, but then out the other side. Down the motorway and Oh dear! Oh dear JIC, over the Erskine bridge and on to Helensburgh! But fear not JIC, no walk along the front today, it was far too cold for that. No, the furthest we got was the chip shop for a Helensburgh Pizza Neapolitan and a bag of chips. Both eaten in the car looking out to sea (or Greenock) watching the Hebridean Princess doing twirls, as Scamp called these nautical manoeuvers, in the middle of the Clyde estuary. It was bright sunshine, but although the temperature gauge in the car read 8ºc, it felt much closer to zero than that when we were walking back with the pizza and the chips. There are a selection of restaurants in Helensburgh, I hasten to add, but none of them come anywhere near the chip shop on the front for the quality of the pizzas. It’s gone through a fair few owners since we started darkening its door, but they have all provided excellent bread spread with tomato sauce, cheese and a variety of toppings. Oh yes, and chips, of course. Don’t forget the chips. More power to your elbow chip shop man and woman.

After pizza and chips, we headed for Waitrose, yet another Waitrose, for some more provisions and, more importantly a cup of something hot and coffee tasting. Their ‘flat white’ is much better than Costa’s offering and today’s slice of Salted Caramel Slice was the best ever accompaniment to Napolitana pizza.

Left Helensburgh and drove home along the M8 again, into ever increasing density of traffic, but it would have been much worse if we’d have gone through Clydebank and then through the seeming thousands of little villages with their 30mph limits. Much better to face the M8, with the knowledge that it would all screw up the nearer we got to the Kingston Bridge. Actually, considering it was a Friday at around 4pm, the traffic wasn’t horrendous. Just a bit clogged up. Today, however, we weren’t under any time constraints, so we just took it easy and went with the flow.

PoD today was a seat on the pier at Helensburgh. It was bright, almost too bright for the Teazer (which looks as if it’s collected a few dust bunnies on its sensor), but it was too cold to sit for long, if at all. No sketch or painting today. I’d intended doing an oil for a change, but it turned out my oil paints were dead. Just thickened, unusable blobs of putty. I’ll do catch-up tomorrow I hope.

Until then Good Night and Happy Anniversary to H&N! Hope you had as good a day as us today.

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Larky – 13 February 2018

First things first, I was feeling a lot better when I got up this morning. That said, I didn’t rise until about 11am!

The predicted snow didn’t arrive here today, thankfully. After a restful night, I got up and got showered and made a plan for the day. Last week, I’d dropped my reading glasses in Arta the dark dingy hole we now dance in on occasional Sundays. I managed to avoid standing on them, but found I’d scratched one of the lenses, right in the middle. Sunday past, I dropped them on the path outside the house and luckily one of our neighbours found them and handed them in. Thanks Scott. Then that Sunday afternoon I dropped them on another dance floor in Paisley, scratching the other lens. Plan for the day was to take them to the optician in Larkhall and get them fixed.

Drove to Larky on a bright, very bright, sunny day and was told that I’d just missed the uplift, so the glasses would be back on Thursday after 1pm. Since Thursday afternoon is booked for coffee with Fred, I imagine it will be Friday before we are reunited. I can survive with a pair of ‘readers’ until then.

Instead of driving straight home, I took a fancy to a run down to Millheugh to see what was happening at the salmon ladder they were building. The answer was ‘not a lot’. Work seemed to have stopped, and after talking to a bloke who seemed to be taking it upon himself to clean up the grassy area of Millheugh next to the Avon Water, there won’t be anybody near the place until ‘the better weather’. That means Easter at least. Stood talking to him for a while. Took some photos of the run off from the Lade that used to carry water to the Bleachfield Works, but now is just a silted up piece of slow running water that’s being clogged by broken walls and tree roots. Another example of cooncils not caring enough to maintain things. No, it won’t make a good photo opportunity for councillors in the local press, but it still needs to be done. The bloke said he was supposed to be meeting a councillor today, but he was late. “Yes,” I thought, “extended lunch no doubt.” We said cheerio and headed back home.

That was about the extent of our travels today. Nice to see Larky again, but sad to see houses going up everywhere. I suppose that’s progress to some.

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It’s another house that became the subject of today’s sketch. It’s on Skye, but I couldn’t tell you where. I found it on Google Street View a year or two ago. It’s very grand and baronial with its little round tower. Somehow I don’t think it was built by a local.

PoD was the bottom water shot from Millheugh.

Tomorrow it’s Hospital for Scamp’s appointment, followed by Waltz lesson and then Jive lesson, hopefully with the chance of a cup of coffee somewhere between the three. Maybe Salsa at night because we missed out on Monday’s. Depends on the weather, although now doesn’t seem to be in the forecast for tomorrow.

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Snow begone (again) – 12 February 2018

By the time we got up today the snow was well on the way to disappearing. Good riddance.

Wasn’t feeling myself today. Just felt tired and listless. Pains in my stomach too. Don’t know what caused it. I’d say last night’s tapas, but they tasted good and the chilli had so little ‘carne’ in it, it was almost vegetarian. Yes, I know veg can upset your stomach too. Basically I just need to wait it out. Brought the car down from its abandonment last night, and parked it properly outside the house.

After lunch I went for a snooze while Scamp went for the messages. I just wasn’t up to it and she was happy to drive because the snow had disappeared completely. The snooze helped and I decided to get out and see if some fresh air would help. That’s where I got today’s shot. Saw two deer. Haven’t seen any for ages and on the way back I saw two herons! Scamp reckons they are Mr & Mrs Grey. I suppose that could be true. Either that or it’s an infiltrator looking for a face-off with Mr Grey. They squawked a bit at each other and then flew off in opposite directions. The walk and the fresh air did help a bit, but dinner was a plate of Scamp’s magic lentil soup and it did more than anything else to make me feel better.

In the evening I didn’t feel like going to salsa and Scamp agreed that we should stay at home.  I stuck a bit of corrugated cardboard on the easel and painted a still life. It’s pretty basic, but halfway through I realised that the pain in my stomach had gone. The painting might be poor, but it forced me to stop thinking about myself for a while.

Fruit

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It depends on how I’m feeling and on the weather. There’s more snow forecast for tonight into tomorrow. Maybe the gym for a light bit of stretching.

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Sudoku, Salsa and Snow – 11 February 2018

Lots of planning today, but not a lot done really. Mainly planning for storage of stuff, when the real solution is a good clear out. That day is getting closer!

Today we had committed ourselves to going for lunch/dinner at La Rambla in Paisley. Three tapas for just over a tenner is a bargain. The only problem is the laid back, i.e. horizontal attitude of the serving staff. I don’t think any of them have been to a catering college to learn how to serve tables. A half hour wait for food is quite normal. Apparently one of the ‘managers’ was complaining that he didn’t understand why people were coming up to the bar to order drinks. Didn’t these people realise there was table service? Eh, no mate, there isn’t. Maybe there is meant to be, but it’s just not happening. Try putting yourself in our shoes. Try being a customer, a thirsty customer and you’ll see how it’s essential to go to the bar and buy your drink there to avoid desiccation. I’m not altogether certain that there are any kitchen staff. I’m beginning to think that it’s the waiter and waitress that take the order, cook the food and serve it. The drinks waiter is a joke. I saw him trying to take away a half empty glass of wine from a customer, then stand and wait at the table while she finished it. Maybe that’s what he thinks a waiter does, wait. Anyway we finally got served an my food was really good as usual, but I don’t think I’ll be rushing back to La Rambla again for tapas, or anything else except dancing.

Dancing was good. Shannon was DJ and worked hard to get the dance floor filled. Came out to find that it had snowed and the streets were icy with melted, then refrozen snow. As we got neared Cumbersheugh the lying snow got thicker and thicker. Had trouble encouraging the Juke up the hill and then the fun of skidding about into a parking place. Don’t think Scamp was impressed. Actually the snow was much easier to walk on than the pavements of Paisley.

PoD is the green blobs. Taken in St Mo’s by the fading afternoon light before the snowfall. Sketch is of my Saturday and Sunday Sudoku. It’s a bit of a page marker, but it’s done.

Tomorrow? Finding the car and then working on a plan to get it down the road and parked again!

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Following the yellow brick road again – 10 February 2018

Today we were going to IKEA to see what mysteries and amazing gadgetry the Swedish had for us, and to buy four medium trays for my modular painting cabinet.

We had intended going to Dunfermline to have a walk in the park and hopefully to have lunch and a beer, because we were going by bus. Unfortunately, when I broke surface just before 10am it was raining and we weren’t going to be walking in a park today, not anywhere in Scotland. We decided instead to go to IKEA.

I hadn’t checked, but I didn’t think Rangers were playing today so the M8 should have been a whizz through. It wasn’t. From ten miles out they were predicting congestion west bound and we were west bound. For once they were right and for once I didn’t get upset. We weren’t in a hurry. We were going to IKEA and nowhere else. It seemed that the traffic disappeared as we got to the Express Way turnoff. Maybe everyone was desperate not to miss the start of the ballet at the SECC. Anyway, the rest of the journey was pain free except when I stalled the Juke in the middle lane and couldn’t get it to start again. It categorically refused until I put it in neutral and applied the hand brake before going through the foot on clutch and press button rigmarole. Must keep an eye out for that happening again. Hopefully never. We wandered round IKEA following the little projected arrows and bought lots of stuff that seemed so useful and important at the time. Most of it will languish in a drawer somewhere to be discovered later with a “What did we buy that for?” Some of them will come in handy, especially Scamp’s favourite, the blue fold-down porters trolley. I had thought we might have lunch there, with Swedish Meatballs high on my list, but we decided not to and drove back home stopping at Costa Robroyston for a quick lunch.

Time when we got home for a quick walk through St Mo’s with no prospect of a photo. Light level too low and nothing of any real interest. Maybe tomorrow. I have a germ of an idea. What became PoD was a shot of a Broad Bean sprouting in Scamp’s propagator.

Dinner tonight was courtesy of Bombay Dreams. I had too much pakora and was stuffed by the end of it. More stuff to go in the freezer.

Yesterday’s sketch is a pencil sketch of my Timex watch and todays was described on Flickr as “An unnamed loch with Ben Thahuse in the background”. I’m sure there are some puzzled americans frantically searching Google Earth for Ben Thahuse, thinking it must mean ‘the snowy mountain’ in Gaelic.

Tomorrow? What else this week, but more dancin’. Sunday Social in La Rambla in Paisley with tapas lunch before it. That’s the way to do it.

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We went for the messages – 9 February 2018

Today we drove to Stirling to get the messages1. For a wee surprise, Scamp drove. It was great to just sit there and watch the scenery whizz past the window. It was a cold day and seemed to get colder as afternoon approached. We walked into Stirling form Waitrose where the ‘messages’ are. I’d hoped to go to Nero for a coffee and lunch, but Scamp had other ideas. She wanted to go and get the messages before they were all sold to other undeserving Stirling folk. So that is what we did. Scamp was the driver today so she was in charge. I was the passenger, just along to carry the messages.

I remember that on Fridays, it was ‘messages night’ back in Larky. I’d go down to the Co-op with my mum to bring the messages back home. I had a ‘barra’ (a barrow) made from an old wooden (they were all wooden in the old days) beer crate and a pair of pram wheels with wooden shafts fixed to the crate to push it. I remember being so proud that I could save my mum the work of carrying the messages the hundred yards or so up Wellgate Street to the house, because I had a ‘barra’.

We didn’t have a barra today, we just transferred the messages from the shopping trolley to the car boot then we went and had coffee and a bite to eat for lunch. After that, Scamp drove us home and all in bright sunshine, but by now, as I said earlier, it was getting cold.

When we got home I managed a quick walk round the pond at St Mo’s and that’s where today’s PoD came from. No sketch today, I’m heading for bed now because I’m still suffering the after-effects from yesterday although that was really an after-effect from too much dancin’ on Wednesday.

No dancin’ tomorrow, but maybe some on Sunday. Tomorrow we go for a walk in the park. Oh, yes, and I’ll fake a sketch for today!


  1. Messages is another word for shopping. 
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Oh no! Mair snow! – 6 February 2018

Woke up to a suspiciously white light coming through the curtains. It might have been sunshine, but it was more likely sunlight reflecting from lots of snow.

A cursory glance out the window confirmed that the snow lorry had indeed parked outside our house and deposited its load of snow. Went back and read for a while. Read the disappointing end to the Peter May book. It almost felt like he had got fed up writing the story and decided to tie everything up in the last five pages. Don’t you just hate books like that. I do.

A cup of coffee after my shower cheered me up and gave me the strength to face the day. I had intended to go to the gym today, but instead, decided to get my sketch done early. Today’s drawing, and it was going to be a drawing today, no paint was going to be spilt, was of Scamp’s poinsettia which she has been carefully tending for over a month now and although it’s a bit spidery now, it’s still holding some of its leaves. The secret appears to be to feed it warm water daily in a dish that the plant pot stands in. I presume that creates a moist atmosphere around the leaves and that’s what the plant needs. With the open, almost skeletal frame of a plant like this, a negative space technique seemed right. That is, instead of drawing the plant, you draw the open spaces it occupies; the spaces between the leaves and the spaces between the stems. After that’s done you can decide what part goes in front of or behind other parts. It seemed to work. It’s amazing how absorbing this technique is. I suppose it’s what makes adult colouring books so interesting, although I can’t really see that myself.

Poinsettia

While I was working on this a parcel dropped through the letterbox. A slim cardboard rectangle contained a book ‘True Story” by Jo Levy, a friend we met at salsa class, many years ago. Scamp had ordered it as an anniversary present for me. It’s a lovely wee thing. 31 drawings done by Jo, one a day, during the month of May 2017. She’s agreed to sign it, that will make it even better. Brilliant idea Jo and even more brilliant idea for a present, Scamp. I will treasure it.

After I completed the drawing which, although technically correct, wasn’t a patch on Jo’s cartoon drawings, I drove down to Auchinstarry and went for a walk along the canal and back along the railway. Cold and icy in places, but very enjoyable. Some days, like yesterday, you get one or maybe photos. Today I took 48, whittled them down to 18 and further reduced that to 6 of which only three were posted. This is part of the new plan. Yellow spots for ones worth considering and green spots for ‘record shots’. The some of the yellow spots become red spots because they’re going on Flickr. Once on Flickr, some more are lost because they look good on full screen, but don’t look so good as smaller resolution files on Flickr. Only one of the final selection becomes PoD and today’s shot that wins the acolade is the snow on the cow parsley heads.

Tomorrow it’s dancing, dancing and dancing again, hopefully.

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Bananas (no Pyjamas) – 5 February 2018

It was Monday and we all know how restricting that is. Today I had a plan.

Didn’t get much done this morning, but after lunch I locked myself in my room with a bunch of bananas, a sketch book and pencil and a paint box. I reckoned that was the only way I was going to get a sketch done today. It took a long while and a few wasted sheets before I was settled on, but not altogether happy with, a little painting. It could have been a lot better, but it was complete and it was in on time. All the time I was earwigging the Gems practise. We all have to make sacrifices for our art!

Bananas today

With a painting in the bag, I went looking for a PoD. The light was dying as I walked over to St Mo’s, but I got a shot of Mr Grey hiding in the shallows beneath the trees. If it was to work, I had to have a close-up of his eye because he was well hidden in the bushes and only his eye would give me the shot I wanted. I got the shot and he flew off, fed up, no doubt with my clumsy stalking technique.

Back home, I had about an hour before I made the dinner. Got the photos downloaded, then the sketch photographed and transferred too. Worked on both photos and uploaded them to FB, Instagram and Flickr. Then it was time for dinner. Spaghetti with roast peppers in tomato sauce. Then we drove in to Glasgow with CITRAC displaying a yellow warning for snow and ice during the night and the early morning hours. Hopefully that won’t bother us.

Salsa with the first class (Advanced 1) wasn’t all that demanding, but the new move in the second class (Advanced 5) was a test, not only of our abilities, but also of Jamie Gal’s memory. It may or may not be called ‘Corfu’. Jamie said he’d post the move on FB, but so far nothing has appeared. It was actually quite an interesting move. We may try it out ourselves tomorrow just to see if we can work out between us what it was all about.

For once I got parked easily back at the house. That doesn’t happen often.

I sacrificed the gym and swim for a chance to get a sketch done today. Tomorrow I intend to pay back. Gym and Swim then sketch with photography taking a back seat. That’s the plan any way!

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Parking and Dancing – 4 February 2018

It was a really lazy sort of day.

Lay in bed and read, trying to finish my latest book “I’ll keep you safe” by Peter May. A good tale, well told. I like his books about, or set in Lewis and Harris. Absolutely hate his Paris series, although this one did start out in Paris. Most of the book is set in the Hebrides, so that’s ok. Couldn’t quite finish it, so left the final pages to tomorrow.

Got out for a walk in the afternoon and the weather was quite pleasant with no wind, blue sky and a surprisingly mild feel, I fed some bread to the ducks, swans and gulls on the pond. They still haven’t received the memo about not eating carbohydrate, so they gobbled it down. Walked into the woods with two cameras, neither of which was switched on, and neither of which was in my hand, that’s why the deer, two of them walked right in front of me. I tried to get the Teazer out of my pocket, but I knew it was a pointless attempt. Both fled, one went one way the other went in the opposite direction. Oh well, maybe next time. I did get some photos of trees and moss and stuff, but they were just place markers to give me a PoD to upload to Flickr. PoD was the stem with the green bud, by the way.

Drove in to Glasgow to go dancing at the dungeon that is Arta. I must have driven round for about twenty minutes before I found a parking place. Everywhere, and I do mean Everywhere was full. I was past the point of giving up and going home when a space magically appeared, and a real painted-on-the-road parking bay too. Thank you whoever you were. Dancing was good. Music was reasonable considering it wasn’t Grant who was DJ. It was Shannon and thankfully not DJ Daniel.

Home to Crazy Water Fish (Cod in tomato and capers sauce) with potatoes. Quite, quite delicious.

My old Lamy pen

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was my old Lamy fountain pen. Much loved and much battered, then repaired with Tensol Cement, Superglue and finally Sellotape. Still working and still great for sketching. I’m still amazed at the response to yesterday’s pic of an orange. It was good, as my good friend Marcus Waring would say, “There were issues”.

Tomorrow is a normal Monday with all that entails. Gems and Dancing. Hopefully we won’t have as much problem parking as we had today. I usually go to the gym on a Monday, but to make sure my graphical and photographic commitments are covered, I may leave the gym until Tuesday. We’ll see. Temperature drop forecast, so I have to factor that in to the equation too. Life is so complicated some times!