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Down the Green – 25 June 2017

We had decided to go for a walk down Glasgow Green this morning and that is what we did.

Usually the parking is quite tight at the People’s Palace, but either because we were there early or because the temperature had dropped significantly today and folk were just staying at home. I almost felt sorry for some French folk who had arrived at the People’s Palace in a tour bus, only to find a locked door. For most of the week, the building opens at 10am, but on Sundays it opens an hour later. They missed the opening by 5 minutes!

We walked around the usual circuit and that’s where my PoD abstract came from. Went in to the wintergarden for a quick coffee for me and peppermint tea for Scamp before going home. Unfortunately the barista(?) didn’t seem to understand “some hot milk on the side” and I got a cup of milky coffee. Not really surprising as two of the cafe assistants didn’t look as if they’d be able to spell their names correctly at the first attempt.

Back home we watched an enthralling and, I must say, interesting F1 GP from the street circuit of Baku in Azerbaijan. Thrill, spills, crashes, flaring tempers. It had it all. It even had a smiling winner who drank some of his champagne from his racing boot, but the best bit was when the 3rd placed rookie had to drink some too, from the same boot. The look on his face was a picture!

Today’s sketch was done on Pink Pig 150gsm cartridge paper and with an almost dry Derwent Graphik 0.1mm pen. I drew it as the race was nearing its nail biting climax and the flower head was drawn blind. I think this must be the most accurate ‘blind drawing’ I’ve done so far. I’m quite pleased with it, especially after yesterday’s effort.  The rose is Alec’s Red, Scamp’s favourite rose and it was a wedding present from Alex to us all those years ago.  Scamp cut the flower to stop it being battered by the high winds this weekend.

Tomorrow? I may go in to Glasgow to get my hair cut.

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A day in the toon – 24 June 2017

A bit later than normal, we made our way into Glasgow for a wee wander.

Started with pizza for lunch in Paesano and then a coffee in Nero. I was looking for a new sketch book, now that the Seawhite landscape I’ve been using has run out of space and the Paperchase book I was intending to replace it with has failed to hold a watercolour wash. I didn’t find one and think now that I may have to revert to the Pink Pig books I’ve been using for years. They have these three benefits:

  • I’ve used them before and they are smooth with good tooth.
  • They hold a watercolour wash with ease.
  • They cost nothing, because I already have them

They have one drawback and that’s the fact that they are wire bound, so you can’t simply open them out and draw across the fold in the same way that you can with a perfect bound book like a Moleskine. Ah, life is a set of compromises and so it is with sketchbooks too, it seems.

When we were walking back to the car I saw a bloke selling white beanie hats. Couldn’t understand why, then I noticed that they had The Stone Roses printed on them. So that’s why there were so many people wandering around ‘The Toon’. Then two blokes passed and one said to the other “… and there I was standing right next to Ian Brown.” Isn’t he the one who looks like a monkey? Ian Brown that is, not the bloke who passed, although he did have that simian look about him too.

The wind was getting quite fierce on the way home, but I didn’t have a photo apart from this controversial one from Buchanan Galleries carpark, so I went for a walk around St Mo’s with Big Dog and the 105mm Macro and the Teazer as backup. It was the Nikon that produced the pic of the bee.

We had intended to go dancing at night, but neither of us were that bothered, so we had a night in instead. I managed to get a very bad sketch completed. It won’t be vying for Sketch of the Week.

No plans for tomorrow.

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Wish I’d brought a sketchbook – 21 June 2017

You couldn’t say it rained today. It barely wet the ground, it certainly wasn’t the downpour that was predicted.

Couldn’t decide what to do with the day, but eventually Scamp suggested we go for a swim and that was what we did. Since my leg wasn’t quite back to normal, I thought a swim would be better than gym today. Pool was busy, but with hotel visitors this time, not spa punters. There were the usual fatties making a floating moveable island in the middle of the pool for others to swim around.

Went over to St Mo’s in the afternoon and got some photos of the insect life, but nothing interesting, except perhaps the shot above of a damselfly planking to show off its abs.

Dinner was a disaster. It was meant to be an authentic Chinese stir-fry using tofu, bean paste and black fungus! I tried sticking to the recipe, but the bean paste just fried itself into a solid lump … twice! Gave up and stir-fried the veg in the oil of the bean paste, then mashed up some beans with a mortar and pestle and added it with some hot water. Put the fried tofu in at the end and let it steam to cook the carrots. It tasted ok, but not really like what we had tasted when it was demonstrated at Gardening Scotland. Maybe we’ll stop for chips on the way home from salsa 😉

Saw a flash of lightning over the hills when we were driving in to salsa. Didn’t hear any thunder and the rain stayed away too. Hopefully the worst of the thunderstorms have passed us by.

There weren’t really enough people to make up a beginners class, and too many men again, so I stepped out … again! This time I didn’t have a sketchbook, so I’m sitting in the car, on a huff, writing the blog instead. Blog or sketch, both take about half an hour to complete. If I get one or the other done, it’s time not wasted.

Looks like the 7.30pm class is ending as well as the beginners. If it does, that will mean the end of our Wednesday exercise! That would be a shame.

Finally settled on an old favourite for the SoD (I like that abbreviation!), the Sudoku block. Trying out the Paperchase sketch book. Not nearly as much ’tooth’ as the Seawhite one. Not sure I like the lack of texture.

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Cramond – 20 June 2017

It looks like this will be the last really hot day in June. We were up and out early, so we decided to make a day of it. I’d thought about going to Troon, Scamp chose Cramond. Cramond was closer, so that’s where we went.

It was a bit overcast when we arrived and the wind was from the east which is never a good direction for wind in Scotland. If the wind is from the west, it brings rain. If it’s from the east it brings cold. Cold? Today? When the south of england is having to cope with 30º? Yes, and to prove it, Scamp took her cardigan. That’s a sure sign that it’s a bit chilly.

We walked up the riverside path past the old mill, like we did in April, hoping, nay expecting that the steps had been fixed now, nearly two months later. Nope! It looks like the wheels of City of Edinburgh council turn as slowly as NLC’s. Nothing had been done, except some folk had pushed aside the barriers. Can’t say I blame them.

We didn’t go any further, we turned and walked down to the harbour at Cramond and had a coffee in a wee tea (and coffee) room with a bite to eat as well. Apple tart for Scamp. Scone for me. Feeling a bit better after the feast, we walked along the esplanade in the direction of Embra, constantly dodging dugs, weans, cyclists and hundreds of ‘grey hairs’. It’s a busy place. Everybody was making the most of the last bit of good weather, and despite that blustery east wind, the temperature was rising to comfortable. By the time we got back to the car, it was warm.

Scamp needed some baby stuff to send down south, so we stopped at The Gyle, which is a cheap version of Glasgow’s Braehead. Pleasant enough, but just nothing to write home about, or blog about, so I’ll stop there.

Drove home along the M8 and managed to find the Stirling turnoff. You have to have your wits about you or it will flash past on your left hand side. Stopped for ice cream in Muirhead and had to be satisfied with Highland Toffee Ice Cream. No Tablet and no Strawberries ’n’ Cream. What is the confectionary world coming to?

Today’s PoD is a wee plant growing beside the river at Cramond. No idea what it is. I’ll look it up later. Sketch of the Day (would that be SoD?) is my left slipper. Due to technical difficulties the right was not available because the sketch was rubbish. It appears I only ever draw left shoes.

Tomorrow the rains and thunderstorms arrive so we’ll just have to wait and see if Ark construction will be necessary.

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Turned out nice again – 19 June 2017

When the temperature is about 20ºc when you wake in the morning, you just know it’s going to be a hot one.

Scamp was going out to a friend’s for lunch and I wasn’t invited this time, so I tidied up the blog in the morning and after my own lunch, set to and built the pea net I’ve been talking about constructing for the last week or two. It’s a beautiful construct of bamboo canes and pea netting held together by cable ties. I was watched all the while by next door’s wee yappy dogs. They obviously knew I hadn’t a clue how to build it and also that I wasn’t a threat, so they just patrolled their side of the fence and made sure I wasn’t going to invade their territory. I was fairly pleased with the finished article and I’m sure the pea plants will love it when they start to grow up.

Took a walk down Auchinstarry way again to see if there was the slightest chance the Humming Bird Hawk Moth would make another appearance, but it didn’t. The Ringlet butterflies were there in abundance though and that made up for the lack of the HBHM. Knee is still sore tonight although it wasn’t bothering me while I was walking. It’s either the walking or salsa that’s doing it, because I’ve deliberately avoided cycling since the last episode.

Salsa was interesting, I wasn’t needed for the Intermediate class, so I took the opportunity to get a June Ink sketch done. Today’s is of the staircase near Kelvin Bridge underground station. The escalator from the station up to street level is a boring plastic tube. The wrought iron staircase has real class and gravitas. Also, the old railway bridge under Great Western Road is very elegant too.  Today’s salsa moves were Agamemnon and El Yaco

Early rise tomorrow, so I better stop there. One last day of sunshine before the rains come. At least it’s a bit cooler tonight.

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Sunny Skies – 18 June 2017

Sunday was a lazy day. Really, it was too hot to be anything else, and after our late night on Saturday a lazy day was called for. Scamp was doing some tidying in the garden and I was just footering around. Although I did prepare dinner which was also a lazy meal: Chicken Tagine. Just fry the onions and the chicken in the Le Creuset (other makes are available) add the spices, some chopped dates, dried apricots, orange juice and water then bung in the oven for a couple of hours.

After lunch I went for a walk down the canal leaving Scamp to garden and keep an eye on the tagine. Walked along the canal, across the plantation and onto the railway road then back to Auchnstarry. That’s where I found the lovely wee dog rose. Got passed by two guys on scrambler bikes, one, just a boy seemed amused that I was a photographer. He seemed to want his photo taken, but I had two extension tubes on the camera and I didn’t really want a macro of his face. Should probably just have taken it. He’d never know. The other guy, maybe his dad was a lot more sensible and just gave me a wave as he passed. Such a lovely day to be out walking in your shirt sleeves.

When I got back, I’d just missed JIC, so I phoned him back and we compared temperatures and had a quick catch up. Then I let him go to prepare his barbecue. Hope it worked out well J. You’ll see his card on the left above. Don’t know where he gets his sarcasm from! Hazy’s is on the right with your recommended text alteration. Hope you approve H.

We couldn’t decide whether to go to Sunday Social or not. We’d been out late dancing on Saturday. We’d have usual salsa class on Monday. Can we be bothered? Will we, won’t we? Eventually we decided; stuff it, let’s go. Driving this time. We’ve learned our lesson with trains.

Got parked no problem and had a great time at Arta. I’m beginning to like it. It’s more ‘grown up’ than The Garage. It’s just a bit dark and gloomy. Danced with four girls as well as Scamp! Feeling the effects of it now on my knees. Chicken Tagine was voted good by the Cumbersheugh jury, but both of us agreed that it was too sweet. Less fruit next time.

Preparing for another hot day tomorrow.

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Perf – 16 June 2017

Drove to Perth today, mainly for coffee and tea for me, but also for a wee run.

Weather was fairly nice with warm temperatures and occasional sun. We were there fairly early, so we went for a walk down beside the river and on to the pedestrian path on the long, long railway bridge over the Tay and Moncreiff Island to the park and gardens on the far side. Beautifully laid out garden with lots of interesting plants and flowers. Also lots of not so interesting sculptures. Couldn’t make had nor tail of most of them, even with a description. Found a ford that takes you over to Moncreiff Island, but the water was too high today to attempt it, but a photo of it provided my PoD. The island itself seems to be basically a golf course with some allotments in the middle. According the the gazetteer it has a population of 3.

Saw some baby coots and moorhens in a lily pond, but it was mainly the plants that interested Scamp. Surprised to see some amaryllis flowering in the open air. Massive great thick stems on the plants. Crossed back over and went to a cafe for lunch. Somebody remind me not to have the cheese burger the next time we go. The burger was fine, but the cheese was determined to have a conversation with me all the way home.

Bought some dried fruit to try for breakfast. I’ve just finished boiling it to soften it and to make a syrup for it. A bit of a faff, but hopefully it’ll taste good tomorrow. Scamp fancied a pizza, so I made one while the fruit was steeping and it turned out very well.

Today’s sketch is a hotchpotch of different practise pieces. Some badly drawn figures and some better ones that were drawn blind. Not ‘eyes closed’ blind, drawn without looking at the paper, just staring really hard at your subject. The faces were from a book. I did try a sketch of Scamp working at the computer, but decided not to post it as it wasn’t very complementary. In fact it didn’t look like her at all.

Oh yes, almost forgot to mention Hazy.  The boxers had their first outing today and appear to have survived to tell the tale.  Ta!

Glasgow tomorrow.

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Two birds, one stone – 15 June 2017

Met Fred for coffee today and while waiting, manage to get a sketch done. Two birds, one stone.

When I came home, I went for a quick walk in St Mo’s, more to test the Oly 5 because yesterday some of the photos from it wouldn’t load into Lightroom. I suspected a dodgy SD card and that might have been the case, because today after formatting the card twice, it performed perfectly. Also, one of the shots became PoD.

That was about it really. While I was meeting Fred, Scamp went for a walk around Falkirk, risking driving through one of the torrential rain showers in the process.

The sketch from the morning is reasonable with awkward perspective and figures!!! I hate drawing people. I like straight lines or regular curves, like ellipses and circles. People don’t have straight line or elliptical shapes and very few circles, except perhaps in the irises of their eyes. That makes them difficult for me to draw. I’ve read the books and tried to draw people, but they either look deformed or like cartoon characters. Must practise more. Heavens, there are enough people about to be unsuspecting models!

Today we may go to Perth. It depends, as always, on the weather.

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The Fitness Regime continues – 13 June 2017

This morning, I was swearing at the WiFi extender. It had to happen.

The WiFi extender was glowing green this morning and that means it’s in the perfect place. Not too near the modem/router and not too far away. The green glow lasted until I opened my first web page, then I got the ‘No Internet’ message. Either I’d broken the Internet or the green glow had turned to a red one. Thankfully it was the second one. It’s been a long time since I’ve broken the Internet and the problem is that you can’t just go on the Internet to find out how to fix it, because you’ve broken the Internet. See? Thankfully all that was needed was for the extender to be put in another place, closer to the modem and it worked. Internet restored to full health, I went to the gym.

I thought I was having a hard time with my recumbent bike, treadmill and various weight machines, but there was one poor bloke much worse off than me. He had a Personal Trainer shouting instructions and ‘encouragement’ at him while he lifted kettle bells, bar bells and even played at making waves with a big heavy rope. We used to call it making ‘snakes’ when the kids were wee. I say ‘playing’, but there seemed to be very little enjoyment in this exercise. Once I’d done my half hour or so, I left them to it and drove home for a shower. I was just loading the boot when I noticed my extra passenger hiding behind the aerial. A spider had found a nice wee shelter and had presumably come all the way from home tucked away from the wind. Pic on Flickr.

After lunch, Scamp was off to have coffee with Isobel and I was going for a walk in the sunshine. Drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal, intending to cross through the Plantation and on to the Railway path, but it was so nice and warm beside the canal that I just kept on going. About half a mile later, the rain started and from then on, it was on and off all the way. Didn’t see any kingfishers, but the swallows kept me entertained with their aerial gymnastics and one of Mr Grey’s cousins posed for a close-up. Stopped at Twechar to sketch the lift bridge that opens once, maybe twice a year. Such a waste of money.  Interesting though and the first real Urban sketch for ages.

Across the road there is an old garage, boarded up and dilapidated and ripe for a bit of fisheye magic and some HDR. After a bit of fiddling, that’s what happened.  You can see the results above..

Walked back in the rain and Scamp made dinner which was a fish fingers salad using our own spinach and lettuce. Good to use stuff we’ve grown ourselves again.

Tomorrow I got to see the doc to get the results of my blood test. Going fairly early so I can enjoy the rest of the day.

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Just under the wire – 11 June 2017

With a little bit of luck, I’ll manage to get this posted before the witching hour.

Today was dull.  Dull weather, dull feeling and dull food.  Here’s the breakdown, but first I’ll publish so I’m just in under the wire!

Ha, ha.  Managed to get it sneaked in.  Right, today the weather was dull and cloudy with the threat of rain and gale force winds later.  The rain came soon enough and with the strengthening winds, the showers came and went quickly.  I managed to get out between a couple of them and get some photos of Mr Grey playing hide ‘n’ seek among the horsetails in St Mo’s pond.  I couldn’t quite get close enough with the 45-200 on the Oly 10, but the longer lens of the Teazer worked its magic again and that gave me a PoD.

Dinner for me was Lamb Leg Steaks.  I don’t know if I overcooked them, if they should really be eaten fresh, not frozen or if they were just tough pieces of meat, but they were like eating bits of leather.  Not nice.  Just to match me, Scamp’s tuna that looked such a pretty colour was overcooked too.  We’re a pair, aren’t we?  Even the Lemon Tart we bought in the market in Sausage Roll Street on Friday was insipid tonight.  It was just a dull day.

After dinner, Scamp settled down to watch last night’s Casualty and I went upstairs to the sewing room to do the waistband of my boxer shorts kit.  I wasn’t looking forward to it, but I did eventually get it done and even managed to put the elastic through it.  Now I’ve just got the hem on the legs to do and it should be wearable.

Tonight’s sketch is of my old Alwyn Crawshaw paint box.  It’s a really neat little box which holds just six colours.  Plenty for sketching and the great thing about it is that it’s about the size of a box of matches.  Do you still get matches?  You never see anyone with them nowadays.  Anyway, just to complete the drawing, the colours I used were from that self same box.

Tomorrow?  Let’s hope it will be better than today and I’ll get out somewhere other than St Mo’s.