New Boots and Panties! – 7 June 2019

It was one of those days when I couldn’t settle.  Eventually Scamp talked me down.

What I did do was to solve today’s Fiendish level Sudoku with the new method which I got from YouTube of all places.1 I’m really impressed with this method.

With that out of the way we wandered in to Glasgow to look for a pair of boots for me. Ostensibly to replace both the leaking pairs I have. Probably I’ll keep the Clarks pair which don’t leak quite as badly and ditch the Lafuma ones. They look good, they just leak like a sieve now. Rather than throwing them out, I’ll probably put them in the next Salvation Army bag that arrives. They may not be good for walking through puddles, but they will keep someone’s feet warm in the winter. Tiso was the first, and only stop. I tried on a pair of boots that were the right size and lo and behold, not only were they a fit, they were also a comfortable fit. I’ve been wearing them all night just to make sure they are the ones for me and I’m comfortably sure they are.

Sat down for a while and painted A Stone.  Well, actually it’s a dry stane dyke, but it does contain at least one stone.

Back home via Robroyston for a coffee in Costa and a chance to stock up on messages at Asda. Next stop was Tesco for a bottle of rum – well, it is Friday. Then home, where I decided to wash the car and rinse it off with water from Bobby Flavell’s outside tap. Such a great idea, having an outside tap. So much easier than carrying buckets of water and getting soaked trying to wash off the roof or the Juke. Also allowed me to hose out the depressions where the wipers sit. The hose makes short work of all the fermenting flower heads and general gunge from the trees overhead. Thank you Bobby.

With the car dripping, it was time to go for a walk in St Mo’s to get some photos. Not a lot to see and the light was quite low. Managed a better view of the scary fly from yesterday. Maybe not that exact fly, but certainly one of that genus. Hopefully someone on Flickr will be able to ID it for me. PoD went to the close up shot of the daisies. Both Scamp and I agreed on that.

That was about it for the day. We shared a fish supper tonight and for the second time “Well, it is Friday.” Suffering a bit for it now, but it was delicious at the time.

Tomorrow? I think it’s going to be up fairly early and out.


  1. This is really a marker for me so that some time hence I can remember where I found this time saving tip. 

Is that deer? – 6 June 2019

Yes it is!

Off early to the blood letters this morning to give a tiny little amount of blood to the lab in Monklands. For some reason they wanted some of my pee too. Strange people in Monklands.

Back home for a cup of coffee and a chance to solve today’s medium strength Sudoku. Still sticking to my new method. It may not be faster and it may not do away entirely with the need for full pencil marks, but it makes the solving of the harder puzzles a bit more interesting and after all, that’s part of the reason for doing them.

With that done I tried switching on the new six year old camera and as soon as I half pressed the shutter, I knew that something was wrong. I hate cameras that beep to tell you they have found something to focus on. It’s the first thing I change on a camera – set it to silent. This one beeped. When I checked, everything was back to its out-of-the -box state. Oh dear. Reprogrammed it, removed the battery, counted to ten and replaced it. Sure enough. It’s short term memory was gone! Phoned the company MPB who I’ve never had any complaints with before and the lady there said I could spend it back for a refund or a replacement, except when we both looked on the website, there were no other E-M1s available. After a flood of emails between us in the next few hours, we finally agreed that I would try the camera for another week and if there was no improvement, I’d return it for a refund.

After lunch we went to Muirhead to the butchers to get some venison. I’d already ordered the meat earlier in the week. As she was weighing the meat I asked the woman behind the counter how much it would be. When she told me, she must have thought it was a bit expensive because she asked me “Is that dear?” (Scots for “Is that expensive”). I said “Yes! It is deer.” She just said “Oh!” Two or three minutes later she burst out laughing. The penny had finally dropped. I don’t think she’ll ever forget that conversation.

I took the camera out for a walk when we came back and it worked perfectly. Everything I’d programmed into it were retained. Hopefully it will stay that way now. There wasn’t much worth photographing in St Mo’s and PoD went to the little scary looking fly.

I didn’t manage a decent sketch of something “Shiny and Metallic”, so as a replacement, I give you a shot of a little prezzy Scamp gave me on Monday. Just so Scottish! Thank you Scamp. May need a little explanation for those of an English disposition!

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow to get me a new pair of walking boots.

Private lesson – 5 June 2019

Private lesson for two couples

Drove in to Glasgow through some torrential rain to find that there were only four of us, just two couples. We had a whole hour with teacher Ann Marie while the other couple had one of the experts, Heather. The great thing about Ann Marie is that she asks you what you want to do and then goes over that in detail. So, not only a private lesson, but an own design private lesson. We went over some of the Jive steps that were bugging us and then we ironed out my problems with the fish-tails and running steps in Quickstep. We also learned the Two Handed Cuff and improved on our Bumps in Jive. Came home after a coffee in Nero to give us some time to review the lesson.

Later in the afternoon I took a couple of cameras over to St Mo’s and everything fell apart. Not only did the camera start to vastly over-expose, but then it got itself stuck in electronic shutter mode and wouldn’t come back out again. Nothing I did would make it work. It all started when I stuck on the Samyang 7.5mm and the image started shaking and jumping in the viewfinder. After that, nothing would work again. Eventually I gave up and came home. Finally got it to do a full reset, after which it was back to normal and working well. I think the Samyang had messed with one of the esoteric settings I’d set up over the last week and the full reset put everything back to normal. Scary time though. I had visions of an irate phone call to Brighton followed by parcelling up the new ‘Toy off the Rack’ and sending back. Neither of these are now necessary … I hope. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.  So, no PoD from that visit to St Mo’s, but luckily I’d taken a walk around the block earlier in the day and got a couple of shots of Scamp’s alliums from the path at the back of the house and that’s what achieved PoD.

After the drama of the camera, I did some painting. Today’s challenge was meant to be Seashells, but the only shells I could find were snail’s shells, so that was what I painted. Even worse was that I only could find one shell, so it was one shell in two positions. Tomorrow’s target is Something Shiny.

It’s been a day of mixed weather.  Occasional sunny spells and occasional heavy rain showers, but for the most part it’s just been plain dull with heavy clouds.  Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

No Salsa tonight because teacher Jamie is still down in deepest England doing sciency things at a science festival.

Out early tomorrow to give a few drops of blood to be sent over to Monklands hospital for checking by the consultant. Nothing else planned.

Not going far – 4 June 2019

Not going far

It wasn’t the weather this time, it was just the threat from tiny wee beasties.

Last night after I’d posted the blog and put the iMac to bed I found another tick. That settled it. Definitely no more walks in the long grass at least until the first frost. The further I got today was over the paths around St Mo’s pond, keeping strictly to the path. Didn’t get many photos, because the light level was fairly low. Heavy cloud all afternoon was the culprit. In the morning the weather was much more pleasant and on retrospect I should have gone out then, but I didn’t. My fault. I’ve made that mistake before and I’ll probably make it again. However I didn’t come home empty handed, I got today’s PoD which is a couple of White Tailed Bees (Bombus lucorum) on some bramble flowers.

I potted up some strawberry plants and a yellow aquilegia in the late morning , then, together with Scamp pruned some of the roses and the forsythia. We also pulled some rhubarb which Scamp made into a pie. There’s even some left over for tomorrow.

Later in the afternoon the rain returned and drizzled on for the rest of the day, so I retired to the drawing room – the room where I draw and managed to catch up with the sketches for June. June 3rd was A Bird and today was A Weed. The bird became a Blackbird from a photo I’d taken back in April and the weed was some buttercups which are the bane of Scamp’s gardening, but I like them. They were drawn from life. That’s me up to date now so maybe it will become easier from now on. Since I’m only doing it for fun and am not posting them on social media, I’m treating them as practise pieces and a chance to experiment.

Tomorrow we’re probably heading in to Glasgow to dance the afternoon away at Blackfriars. I don’t think we’re going to risk going to STUC at night, since Jamie G is still down south.

Dancing all the day – 2 June 2019

Well, that’s what it felt like anyway!

Spoke to Hazy for a while in the morning and discussed the first part of Good Omens that we’d both watched. Agreed that it was good to see they were sticking fairly faithfully to the book so far. While we were on the phone my replacement batteries for the new camera arrived. After we’d finished speaking to London, I charged up the first battery. It seems like it had a part charge in it because it only took about half an hour to fully charge using USB. The second one took a little longer. When I exchanged a new battery with the one that came with the camera, I noticed that Made in Japan actually read Made in japan. That was one of the signs that the battery is a fake. The second check is the misspelling of the word ‘explode’ in the warning section. The ‘Olympus’ battery had it spelled as ‘explose’. This was looking like a complete fake. The third and final test is to check the weight of the battery. A ‘real’ Olympus battery weighs around 52gms. A fake one around 35gms. The ‘Olympus’ battery weighed 39gms. A pretty comprehensive case for disposing of the fake battery, safely of course. Just in case it does ‘explose’!

Did a tiny wee bit of gardening, since the weather was much nicer that had been predicted for today.  We even had some sunshine later in the morning and it was warm.  I just potted up a Meconopsis which Scamp had bought me last week. I’ve always liked the lovely blue, papery flowers, but Scamp doesn’t. That’s why she bought one for me instead of for herself. Today I gave it some room to grow in a bigger pot. I’m sure it will like the space. The garden was where I got today’s PoD of the little bee dangling form a ‘Nancy Pretty’ flower. You may know it as London’s Pride, but my mum always called it Nancy Pretty and that’s what it will always be to me. Still finding out things about the new toy. The amazing and dazzling amount of buttons and dials for one thing and the clever little touches in its operating system.

Drove in to Glasgow to have a go at dancing Jive to a real rock ’n’ roll band. We did manage one song then the band played ‘Tequila’ so we just had to dance salsa to that. After the session was finished, we had another hour before the real salsa started, so we went for a walk up Byres Road and found out that today was the official start of the West End Festival which apparently is second only to Nottinghill in size in the UK. We thought we’d missed the procession, but after checking tonight, it seems that there was no procession this year again. Maybe it takes too much organising or maybe it’s difficult to close such a busy road to traffic for a full day. Who knows. It just didn’t happen. We walked round the edge of the celebrations in Ashton Lane then walked back to the Record Factory to get ready for another hour and a half’s salsa dancing. Met a few folk we hadn’t seen for ages and danced with a few beginners. Left after an hour and a half because I was worn out.

Storm winds and heavy rain forecast for tomorrow and Gems are here for the last practise before the summer break. Don’t know where I’ll go.

Flaming June – 1 June 2019

Well, maybe not flaming as such, just not raining.

We were still in two minds whether to got to the Italian festival in Glasgow or just have a day somewhere in the dry, with the outside chance of a bit of sun. If we chose the latter, Scamp suggested Stirling or Hamilton. Both curry capitals of central Scotland. Finally, because there are at least some shops still open in Stirling and very few in Hamilton, we chose Stirling.

We went to the Indian Cottage in Stirling and had our usual: Vegetable Pakora followed by Vegetable Dhansak for Scamp and Chicken Pakora followed by Chicken Tikka Chilli Bhuna for me. Almost every time we go to this restaurant, that is what we have.

After lunch we went for a walk round the centre of Stirling. I was looking for a cheap, second hand copy of Good Omens, because the copy I’m reading on my Kindle must have been a publishers advanced copy complete with all the typos and bad typesetting. I looked in vain. It seemed that the hype about the new film of the book had led to all the copies being bought up. Scamp wasn’t looking for anything, but came home with a new ‘holiday and maybe for salsa’ dress.

On the way home we were stopping to get some compost and some ‘chuckies’ which for those readers who are from south of the border are small, possibly rounded stones. The chuckies were to provide drainage for the latest of Scamp’s containers. After a bit of an argument about where we should park and whether we should drive in or reverse in, we got a space. Scamp was right, of course, about driving in – easier access to the boot for loading stuff in. She was wrong about the tiny wee space she expected me to get the Juke in. It’s a wider car than her’s. The compost wasn’t too heavy, but those chuckies certainly were. However, we got them in and got home without breaking a spring. Had to barrow them out of the car and through the house. That gave Scamp time to get the container planted with two Gazanias, a Shooting Star (American Cowslip) and a Geum (Cookie). It looks good. That the second mixed planting she’s done recently and both are looking very natural.

A walk in the unexpected sunshine through St Mo’s gave me a chance to test out the ‘new toy’ and it certainly seemed up to the task. Especially impressive was the way the electronic shutter and automatic focus bracketing made short work of a shot of a tiny wee snail on a tree. It may go up on Flickr later. The only problem is the state of the battery. After about 60 shots it appeared to be losing most of its power. Not surprising really when I noted that it was manufactured in 2014. That makes it five years old. That’s a long time for a battery to be working. Luckily Amazon was offering a decent looking replacement pair plus USB charger for £18. It’s being delivered tomorrow. Not an actual Olympus battery. They cost around £70!

No sketches today. I’m having at least a week off, if I don’t go cold turkey. PoD went to a little dowdy looking fly that sat nicely for me in St Mo’s. No fancy focus stacking, just a straight forward shot.

The day that the rains came – 29 May 2019

… and forgot to go away.

It wasn’t the best of days. Like I said at the top, the rains came and forgot to go away. I don’t suppose it mattered really as we weren’t intending to go anywhere except to Glasgow for dancing in the afternoon and then again in the evening. The furthest I was past the door was a quick trot round the block to achieve my 250 steps every hour. It was on one of those circuits I found the little Glass Bead Plant growing on the wall at the back of the house. Of course it was really a moss with raindrops clinging to the fruiting bodies, but some people will be avidly searching Google for Glass Bead Plants as I write this! It got PoD.

Drove in to Glasgow and ticked off another 250 odd steps on our walk down to Blackfriars for Jive, Quickstep and Cha-Cha. We made a few mistakes still, but not as many as last week, thankfully. It was almost a private lesson again as the class started out with three couples, then two were spirited away to learn the stuff that we already knew, that left us to the tender mercies of Michael. Worked on another part of the Over the Rainbow routine and then did some work on our Quickstep and in between we tackled the dreaded ‘off beat’ Cha-Cha. Totally drained, we went for coffee (no cake) and then drove home in the rain.

Scamp drove in to Glasgow tonight and we danced with the intermediate class and the beginners who are getting through the moves at quite a pace now. Thankfully the Tipsy Ladies were not in class tonight, so it was much more bearable than last week.

Today’s sketching topic was A Knife or a Sword. I suppose I could have found a sword somewhere in the town. Some areas of Cumbersheugh are awash with them on a Friday night … allegedly! However, I resisted that temptation and settled on drawing my old Swiss Army knife. It’s been sharpened so many times, the blade is a completely different shape from when it was new. It was my tool of choice for sharpening pencils. So much more efficient than a pencil sharpener. Unfortunately, the world has moved on and it’s now illegal to carry this useful tool.

Tomorrow looks like being much like today, weather wise, so I doubt if we’ll be going far.

No more sweeties

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dancing tomorrow, hopefully and sketching a knife.

A Plan – 27 May 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Watching the dancers dancing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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