The highlight today was lunch – 19 March 2019

Some days are simply filled with fun and frolics. Some days are filled with work, work, work. Today was neither.

We couldn’t decide whether to go to Stirling or Glasgow today. Instead, we settled for Cumbersheugh. We didn’t need much, but we did need some shopping. Not ‘messages’, but ‘shopping’ there’s a difference, but much too subtle to try to explain here. After the shopping was completed successfully, we came home to rest from our labours before heading out to Milano’s for lunch. Started was Pollo Fritto for both of us and Pizza for me, Pollo a la Fiorintina for Scamp. Because she was driving, I had a half pint of Tennents. My food was fine, but Scamp’s rice was decidedly stodgy, almost like sticky rice.

After we got back I went for a walk to Condorrat with a slight detour round St Mo’s. Spotted a male goosander in among the tufted ducks and the mallards. Managed a few shots of it and it became PoD, even although the shot was taken at a fairly high ISO rating.

Dull day, and when I was coming back, all the cars had their lights on. Such a difference yesterday’s sunshine. It was cold too. Spring one day, winter the next.

Tomorrow it might be summer! Well, there’s always a chance with the spring equinox.

Just another Sunday

No breakfast in bed this morning. There was an F1 GP to be watched.

Up and having breakfast in the living room just after 8am. Interesting GP, slightly spoiled by the fact that Leclerc wasn’t allowed to race against Vettel. Come on Ferrari, it’s called a ‘Race’. If you keep protecting spoilt child Vettel, he’ll actually believe he’s number 1 driver. Be afraid Seb, the Russians are coming in the shape of Kvyat. I’m pretty sure he’ll have you in his sights and team orders won’t mean much then. Still a pretty good race.

Spent most of the afternoon making preparations for the mid-week, then got fed up and went for a walk in the sunshine in St Mo’s. Got a glimpse of three deer, but not before they saw me. I got a few shots of them, but nothing worth PoD. That went to a shot of the male and female flowers on a larch. Such a pretty thing and I only noticed it for the first time last year.

We went to the last ever Sunday Social at La Rambla in Paisley. Great food again. Black Pudding with Chorizo in a Red Wine Sauce was the star. Second was the Patatas Gradtinatas. Like I said yesterday, I’ll miss the food, but not the service. Really, four people working the bar with only one customer. One person took the order, passed it over to another who worked the till (after a long consultation with the menu). Meanwhile the first person poured the drinks and the second person took the money. What were the other two doing? It was anyone’s guess. It’s closing soon, no surprise to us.

Salsa was well run as usual by Shannon. I must say that for her, she works hard at providing social salsa dancing in and around Glasgow. It wasn’t as busy as we thought it would be, but we did manage a couple of hours dancing which was fine for us.

Gems day tomorrow, so I’ll get out of the way.

Oh no! Snow! – 16 March 2019

We were promised snow today, and we got it.

For about an hour it snowed this morning, then the snow turned to sleet, and later to rain. It didn’t keep us in, we’d already agreed we weren’t going out today, so the snow, sleet, rain didn’t change things.

Like a dug wi’ a burst ba’ I continued on my project to get Linux on to the Linx. Eventually I had to agree with the experts who said it couldn’t be done. It can’t. The dug has finally buried the burst ba’. Well, maybe, but it knows where it buried it and it can dig it up again later for another go.

To take my mind off the ba’, I restarted my apple a day project with a painting on expensive Waterford 140lb NOT watercolour paper (NOT stands for Not Hot Pressed, i.e. not perfectly smooth). It was good to paint on paper that doesn’t soak up the paint right away and also doesn’t rub through at the slightest pressure from the brush. I found the paper in a drawer in the painting room. It must be well over twenty years old!

I finally dragged myself out later in the afternoon to plod over to Condorrat because we’d run out of milk and bread. I returned with the aforementioned staples plus chocolate, fudge, a pineapple cake and a rhubarb pie. Equally essential staples! So far we’ve still got the chocolate, but the rest are gone, apart from the bread and milk of course, we’re still working our way through them.

Today’s PoD was taken in St Mo’s, a short diversion from the road back from the shops. It looks like a log jam, but it’s fallen horsetails, one of the oldest groups of grasses. The genus can be traced back 250 million years.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Salsa in Paisley. The last La Rambla salsa social because the restaurant is being taken over by the next door sushi restaurant and salsa isn’t a very Japanese dance. I’ll miss the food, but I won’t miss the terrible service.

Lunch, Linx and Linux – 15 March 2019

We were up and about early this morning to make sure Jackie got her taxi on time to take her in to Glasgow.

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After our visitor had left I settled down to a relaxing hour of Sudoku wrangling while Scamp played Spider on her tablet. While I was sudoku solving I got the idea that I should maybe try putting Linux into the old Linx tablet. Maybe that would stop the continuous annoying demands that I update Windows 10 on it. I needed to download the Linux file on a PC, which was when I discovered that the modem driver on the Linux was screwed. In fact it was so seriously screwed that Windows couldn’t fix it. What it did tell me was to go online and search for a solution there. That would be difficult with no internet connection because of the fault. Eventually I gave up and just restored the entire OS from a backup. Long story – short, I wasted the entire morning fixing Windows problems and didn’t even get the Linux installed. Maybe tomorrow?!
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Drove out to The Smiddy for lunch. Mac ’n’ Cheese for Scamp and Chicken, Chorizo, Tomato and Beans for me. Bought a chump chop (lamb) which might possibly be tomorrow’s dinner for me and also a chunk of Blue Murder cheese which is a very nice blue cheese. Didn’t buy the aptly named “Minger” cheese which tasted just as it’s name would suggest. Drove home through the wild winds, driving sleet and blinding sunshine! Welcome to Scotland!

When we got home the rain and sleet halted, but the winds and the sunshine persisted, so I grabbed my boots and went for a walk in St Mo’s looking for a decent picture. I think I got one and that’s it at the top of the page. The tree that was swaying dangerously in the wind the other day was still there, still swaying. Bumped into Susan Greenshields on my way home and she was as grumpy as ever. Nice to see that some things and some people never change.

Made some more pakora in the evening and it tasted quite good again, but still needed something else. Don’t know what. Had another half hearted try at the Linux thing later and eventually found that it can’t be done. Something about a 64 bit processor and a 32bit BIOS that isn’t really a BIOS, but an EFI. It’s an EFFING pain in the arse if you ask me.

Tomorrow snow is forecast, so we won’t be going far.

Getting the horses cut – 14 March 2019

Today was a tidying up sort of day. A day for sorting out loose ends.

It started off with a visit to the school to pay the deposit for a retiral dinner. Met the lady in question and spent an hour chewing the fat about people we knew in the past and the less savoury ones who were in management in the present. Dropped in at my ex-department, but cautiously didn’t visit ‘my’ room. I prefer to remember it in my mind’s eye. From there I drove in to Glasgow to get the horses cut. It was an old joke when I was at school. The French for ‘hair’ is cheveux and the French for horses is chevaux. When you’re 12 it’s so, so funny to say you’re going to get your ‘Horses’ cut! Not so funny now, unfortunately.

Got a Number Four all over with eyebrows trimmed too and all for £7. A bargain at the price with a political diatribe on the failure of a Conservative government to finalise the Brexit details from the bearded one who was cutting hair (or horses) at the next chair, while my Polish barber was bemoaning the dishonesty of fellow barbers who had left with her ‘neck brush’, meaning she had to share the shop ‘hair brush’. I couldn’t say who had the more forceful opinion.

With a much reduced head of hair (or horses – Enough? Yes, probably) I went for a walk down the town for a coffee in Nero. Wandered through the Argyle Arcade and grabbed a few shots to create a PoD and then back up to the car park to retrieve the Juke for a decent enough price of a fiver.

Back home I had to get stuck in and clear a living space in the back bedroom for Jackie who was coming to stay the night before going back up to Skye tomorrow. After I found the sofa bed under an assortment of books, tablets, clothes and sketch pads, I started to make some pakora for the starter for tonight’s dinner. It’s such a faff to make, but once the prep is done, you can use it for a couple of days.

Visitor arrived and the pakora was deemed good enough for her to want the recipe. I tried to explain that it was a recipe handed down from mother to son or father to daughter, but I know she didn’t believe me after I said I’d send her the link to it from YouTube. Scamp made Chicken & Mushrooms with Rice and then June arrived and a coven was in session, so I cleared up the kitchen, made amoretti coffee coffee for everyone and then settled down with a glass of Grants Sherry Casked to write some emails.

Decided I just had enough time to process the PoD and post the blog before the witching hour. Hopefully I’ll make it.

Tomorrow we may go to lunch somewhere because Saturday looks snowy!

Gareth blows in – 12 March 2019

Storm Gareth has been rumbling around all day.

The highlight of the day was going for the ’messages’. We only went as far as Tesco, but it was far enough with the high winds and the driving rain. Thankfully there wasn’t any snow, just some sleet.

I did a bit of painting using the Inktense sticks to get some interesting colours in the sky. Also, because the sticks are actually solid ink, it’s possible to layer colours without disrupting the original layers. That’s something you can’t do with watercolour paints. It’s still been a bit messy and will take a while to get to grips with.

After lunch I thought I should go out and get some photos in the spells of sunshine we were having. I walked over to St Mo’s and got a shot of some daffys growing on the banking at the side of the M80 slip road. The daffodils are one of the few things that the Development Corporation got right in Cumbersheugh. However NLC undid all the good work when they dug up the flowers on Central Way to leave the banking clear for the £0.5m ‘waves’ that now grace the dual carriageway.
I stood for a while just in the treeline at St Mo’s listening to and watching the big Scots Pines bending in the wind. One of them was bending so much that you could see the roots rising out of the peat. I didn’t stay there too long. I must check tomorrow to see if it’s still standing.

Came home and made Butternut Squash soup and Scamp made Potatoes and Cabbage with the addition of bacon for me. An ideal meal for such a cold windy day.

Tomorrow we may be dancing. It depends on what Gareth says.

A much brighter day – 9 March 2019

Ah, this was more like it. Today we’d drive round the top.

Bright sunshine with just the prospect of a few showers too to keep us honest. Drove down the drive and turned left. Found this interesting PoD at Duntulm. Taken with a wide angle lens it almost looks like a panorama. The light was kind to us me for once and showed up the textures nicely. It also shows the remoteness of the landscape. I was looking for a new road to travel, but couldn’t find one that looked interesting, so we just continued to Uig, but when we got there the weather closed in again and we didn’t stop. We just continued on our way round to Portree.

We’d seen Portree yesterday and I doubted that there was much more to hold our interest, so after getting some fuel we drove down to Slighachan then on to the Fairy Pools on the Glenbrittle road. Unfortunately the brand new carpark looked full and at £5 flat fee was a bit expensive for what it was. We turned and drove back to Portree where we had lunch in Aros. For once I had a decent toast there. Bacon and Mushroom. I must remember that if we’re ever there again. Usually everything is slathered in heavy, oily cheese but this was just what the description said. Coffee was great too – it always is. Scamp wasn’t so impressed with her Tuna melt which seemed to be more melt than tuna. Such a pity after mine being so good.

Drove back to Staffin and went for another dancing practise. This time we filmed it to see how we looked when we were dancing. Learned a lot, especially that our posture isn’t as good as we thought. Also we must remember to look forward or to the side, not at our feet. We even entertained Jackie and Mairi with our waltz steps. They were kind enough not to laugh!

Scamp went back with Jackie and I drove down to the slip to get some moody sea shots. Couldn’t quite manage to find the right subjects. Saw this woman laying out what looked like a rolled up canvas on the ground behind the boat sheds and holding it down with rocks. Later I found out she is the Dutch landowner. At least that’s what Jackie and Murdo think after hearing my description of her. Finally got some shots from the ‘beach’ and I might, just might have seen the famous dinosaur’s footprints.

Home for dinner and to prepare for tomorrow’s journey back down the road.

Just dancing once today – 27 February 2019

Just Michael’s class today, but that was enough for me.

Scamp was out for coffee with Annette this morning. Before she went she noticed we’d missed a phone call from Hazy yesterday, so I phoned her back and we had a long chat about stuff, just stuff, families and friends. For once we didn’t talk about books, so just incase you were wondering Hazy, I’m trying desperately to finish All The Birds In The Sky I notice you gave it four stars on Goodreads. I’m afraid my rating will be considerably lower!

Next on the list of To Do tasks was to get started on today’s sketch while the house was quiet. After a couple of false starts, I did achieve a likeness of an apple and that’s what you can see here. I decided to stick to a monochrome pencil sketch. I used a nice cheap school pencil. It’s an Impega No 2.5 HB. Just goes to show that the quality of the equipment has less of a bearing on the finished article than you’d imagine. I really need to practise these simple objects. Curved objects. I’m happy with my ability to draw objects with straight lines. Curves are the killer.

When Scamp came back we had lunch and drove in to Glasgow to Michael’s class. Jive was not a problem apart from a bit of brain fade by me. Rumba I will never get used to. The nonsense of not using beat one, starting on beat two instead is beyond me. Why make it more difficult than it needs to be? I’m sure some people will just smile and say it makes perfect sense (eh Scamp?), but I don’t hold with that belief. Beat one is there for a reason. Use it! Cha-Cha? Just Rumba with a wee shuffle in the middle. Equally pointless. You can see this is going downhill now, can’t you? You’d be right. We’d practised Quickstep at home last night and we’d practised it again today while the advanced Jivers were doing their stuff. When we were asked to do it on the dance floor it was a disaster. We didn’t even get as far as the running step, the fishtails which had worked so well half an hour before were more like fish paste! Back to the drawing board for quickstep. Maybe next week …

Coffee and a visit to CassArt put a smile back on my face.  After that we drove home and I managed an hour in St Mo’s to get today’s PoD which took a fair bit of post-processing.  Dinner tonight was roast veg risotto and it was lovely.  I squirted some lemon juice in at the end with a bit of lemon rind too and it lifted it.

No dancing tonight because the lady ‘teacher’ was reputedly taking the class!

Tomorrow is free, the last day of 28 Drawings Later.  Such a pity, it’s been a PITA and it’s been fun too.

We had cake! – 26 February 2019

So, that apple again. I’m determined to get it right. Dug wi’ a burst ba’, that’s me!

Spent the morning taking a different tack. Tried using Inktense ink blocks. They look and feel a bit like hard pastels, but they are made from intensely coloured dry ink held together with a binder of some sort. You draw directly on to paper with them, add a clean water wash and the colour whooshes all over the place. To be used with care, I think as they are permanent. Once on the paper, it’s there for good. The same goes for shirts, jerseys, carpets too I’d think, although I’ve only really tested the first two. It was an improvement, much better than yesterday’s apple, but still not right. By the time I had finished, it was lunchtime and then we were off to Sandford to visit the wean (and its mum) and to see if there was indeed cake on offer.

Set the satnav for Sandford which is a village near Strathaven. The last time I was along this road was on a motorbike and it must have been around 1978. Amazingly I remembered the road. Mostly single track and through farmland. The satnav got it perfectly correct and took us right to the door. However the thing that impressed me the most was that the voice on the satnav told us to take the Strathaven road, but pronounced it correctly as Strayven. Artificial Intelligence gone mad.

When we got to the house the wean, Imogen, was asleep in her pram in the garden. IN THE GARDEN?? IN FEBRUARY?? Are ye mad? No of course they weren’t. This is no normal February is it? Not with temperatures like we’ve been having. This is Costa Del February! The wean was perfectly happy sleeping in the sun.  Anyway, nice house, lovely landscape photos printed large and hung on the wall. And why not. That’s what photogs take photos for and it wasn’t until I got this lovely big iMac that I truly appreciated the detail in my photos. I should print more of them and hang them up, not for visitors to admire, but for us.

The cake was delicious. We’re still at a loss to explain to ourselves how Jaclyn managed to make a crunchy topped sponge. Probably it’s good that we don’t know how or we’d be making sponges all the time. Nancy arrived just before Imogen woke up and she reminded me of my mum willing JIC and Hazy to wake up so she could hold them. Scamp was no different. She too was eager for a chance to hold her. Me? No. I don’t speak the baby talk and usually reduce them to tears, so I stayed in the background.

Eventually Scamp had had enough of the wean and we went home, but we were encouraged to go visit the waterfall on our way home. We parked the car and walked along the path to see moving water. Always fascinating, mainly to men, but probably to photogs in general. On the way we found a clump of snowdrops growing wild at the side of the path. That became PoD. Drove home and scamp made a delicious fish pie. One of my favourites.

Today’s painting was done in watercolour, not Inktense, but with more concentrated colours for the apple. I think I was trying too hard to lay on too many washes and overloading the paper. Fewer, but stronger colour washes may be the way to go. I’m better pleased with it, but practised a few more apples while watching the TV tonight. Practise, practise!

Tomorrow we are only dancing in the afternoon. It is rumoured that a certain lady salsa ‘teacher’ will be taking Jamie Gal’s class and that will be no fun, no fun at all.

Monday – Gems Day – 25 February 2019

Started early drawing an apple. Tomorrow I will eat it to prevent any more time being wasted on it.

It wasn’t the best drawing day. I blame Scamp for talking me into having toast for breakfast because we forgot to get milk yesterday. I had volunteered to go and get some this morning, but she said she’d prefer toast and I thought “Why not!” I think that simple act unsettled me for the rest of the day. No toast for breakfast tomorrow.

I decided that I’d get the drawing done early and that would leave the rest of the day free to do as I pleased (once I’d got a PoD). I struggled with that simple task of drawing an apple. I tried it in one pose, I tried it in another. I tried the red side uppermost and the green side uppermost and nothing I did would allow me to create a decent looking apple on paper. The nearest I got was a sketch of an apple in pen on a scrappy bit of paper, but even that had distorted proportions. Eventually I gave up and went for a drive. At least I got today’s PoD. It was taken down beside the Forth & Clyde canal from under the bridge that carries the M80. I liked the letterbox format and the HDR colours. You don’t need to know what HDR is, believe me.

Came home and arrived just as the tea was being served, so I poured myself a cup of coffee instead and took it upstairs to start fresh, except inspiration wouldn’t come. I realise now I had the subject in my hand when I went upstairs. A cup of coffee and two biscuits that would have settled my drawing and it would also have removed that bloody apple from my mind. I started the apple again, this time using gouache which is watercolour paint that feels like oils. It didn’t work. I was just unsettled.

Once Gems had gone I suggested we go in early to salsa. At least that would give me something new to think about. We enjoyed both classes and the moves for the big boys and girls were Setenta Nueve, Desperado, Mariposa, Topo and Zorro. Quite a lot, but only Desperado was relatively new, being an old, old one reprised.

Came home, turned my back on that apple and instead I drew my specs. Sort of a last resort drawing, and even they wouldn’t play. The lenses kept moving and the legs manage to twist themselves into the wrong shape. However, they have been submitted on time and we’ll let that be an end of it.

Tomorrow we’re off to see a wean in Sandford and maybe get some foties taken around that village.  We have been promised cake!