The first day of Inktober 2018 – 1 October 2018

Just to add to the workload, there are now sketches to be done.

Not satisfied with having to produce a PoD and fit in Waltz, Quickstep, Tango and Jive classes, not to mention at least two hours of Salsa a week, I’ve committed myself to completing an ink sketch per day for the month of October, hence the name InkTober. This is the third year I’ve attempted this and although last year’s sketches weren’t the best and at times were a drag to do, for the most part I enjoyed the exercise. If PoD gets me out of my seat and away from the computer for an hour or so, Inktober gets me thinking in a different way and attempting something creative. Started this morning with this effort and and had it posted before midday. Quite liked it too.

After the sudoku was done and the sketch completed and posted, I suggested to Scamp that we go out for lunch. I’d decided in my head that Chatelherault would be a good place to visit. Lots of different walks and a decent tea shop at the end. Scamp agreed.

It only takes half an hour to get there and parking is rarely a problem. We weren’t intending to go for a long walk, just a short stroll with the opportunity of some photos too. As it turned out we walked a bit further than we’d intended and as Scamp was wearing her dress boots, it wasn’t the best surface to walk on, so she ended up with a pain in her ankle again.  Must go better prepared next time.

We really need to get a dog. Every other person we met had at least one and one poor bloke had five. All were tied up to a gate and were being towelled down. At least, I think that’s why they were tied up. Maybe he was selling them, or hoping to give them away. One woman we passed, twice offered us one of her dogs, but there were definitely no takers here. No, if we get a dog it will be a toy dog. By that, I don’t mean a Dachshund or a Chihuahua, I mean a real toy dog. One made out of fabric and stuffed with kapok and probably on wheels. That way we could drag it along behind us like lots of people do with dogs that are not toys. Dogs that are not on wheels. I think it’s a great idea. You don’t have to pick up their shit either which must be a great bonus.

Today’s PoD came from the walk. The little red fungus caught my eye. It looked clean and bright and totally unreal. It’s a shame it’s extremely poisonous. That’s what the red colour is all about. Red for Dead!

Saw lots of trees blown down. That’s what comes of doing a clear cut across the side of the valley. Removing all those beautiful big redwoods just took away the shelter they provided for smaller trees and allowed this year’s gales to blow down the valley and rip out loads of deciduous trees in full leaf. Some people are thoughtless.

Salsa tonight was empty. I think we only had about five or six couples in the advanced class. Moves tonight were Seo and Michaela. Both we had done before, but there’s no harm in that. Jamie G had to cancel his 6.30 class because only 2 people turned up. Scamp reckons it might have been because Andrew was dancing as a girl the last time they were there. The class are beginners and maybe didn’t know that he was just trying to learn to follow (at least that’s his story). Maybe some of the guys got the wrong impression! It’s possible.

Tomorrow? We may go swimming of gymming if gymming is a word. My spell checker thinks it is!

Dug wi’ a burst ba’ – 30 September 2018

Hazy wanted to Skype today. Skype said No!

Scamp got a message today from Hazy asking if we were free to Skype. It seemed a good way to test out Scamp’s new ‘puter’s communication setup. However …

We tried for about half an hour to get Skype to connect, well, that’s not entirely correct. We could see and hear Hazy, but nothing we did would allow her to see or hear us. We tried everything and eventually gave up on the shiny new HP and conducted the conversation on the iMac. After our virtual meeting was over, it was back to troubleshooting the PC version. I checked that the microphone was working in Wonderful Windows 10 and it was. I checked that the webcam was working in Wonderful Windows 10 and it was, however when we tried to combine these two successes in Skype it failed. Now who owns Skype? That’s right, Mickysoft. That probably explains why it didn’t work. Scamp told me not to waste the afternoon on it, but this was rapidly becoming a “dug wi’ a burst ba’ “ situation. I wasn’t going to let it go.

Eventually I had to give up. Uninstalled the troublesome Skype then re-installed it. When we got it working, but because Skype is a Mickysoft product, it registered it to Scamp’s login name, not the Skype name she’s had for the last fifty million years. Not only that, it had lost all her contacts. Uninstall and reinstall again and the same thing happened. Only once she’d logged out and logged in again could she change her Skype name. Why does Mickysoft screw up everything it gets its claws into? Finally we could communicate across the living room with a degree of feedback through Skype. I think we’re good to go now Hazy!

Most of the afternoon had gone, but there was some good light left, so I went for a walk around St Mo’s and spotted Mr Grey up a tree. He must have felt safe and secure there because he didn’t fly off even when I walked right to the shore of the pond and stole his soul for PoD. I was glad that I’d got him, because there was little else to photograph today.

Made some bread which we’ll need to have tomorrow because it was too late to have with our dinner. Also, the tomatoes that were roasting for the tomato soup are still in the tray in the oven because Mickysoft couldn’t leave Skype alone (and neither could I). That too will have to wait until tomorrow. However my lamb shoulder shank was very nice if a little fatty. The other one will do for tomorrow’s dinner. Scamp’s stuffed Portobello Mushroom looked dismal, but she declared it delightful.

Swallow Watch:  Almost forgot to mention, this week I did see some swallows flying very high and this is week 40.

Tomorrow? Well, it’s a free day. No Gems. What shall we do with it, I wonder?

Zoomers Day – 28 September 2018

Some days it seems like all the zoomers are out. Today was one of those days.

We were undecided where to go today but we finally settled on Glasgow. That’s when we met the first zoomer. We were driving up the hill to go on the motorway and the zoomer came screaming up behind us trying his level best to get in the Juke’s boot. Wasn’t going to happen though. It’s a 30mph zone and I was doing a steady 30, good law abiding citizen that I am. Then he started weaving from side to side. He’d been watching too much F1 and thought he was Lewis Hamilton trying to warm up his tyres. Either that or he was hoping to hurry me along. He obviously hasn’t heard the auld guy’s rule “The closer you come, the slower I go.” He wasn’t even driving a fancy car, it was a chemist’s delivery van for a Glenboig chemist. Best bit was when he stopped at the red light, not realising that the red is really for those turning right. He was heading straight on. It wasn’t until the drivers behind started sounding their horns that he saw the green filter lane light and drove on.

In Glasgow we met zoomer number two. He was a complete nutter. I signalled to move left into a filter lane, but he wasn’t having it. He was in that lane, it was his lane and he wasn’t giving it up. Stuff that. I accelerated, so did he, but I was quicker and nipped in in front of him. Oh he didn’t like that. He gave up on trying to cut me up as I turned left at the next lights, then undertook me to get in front of me before the next ones. He was smiling as I drove behind him, but I changed lanes and gave him a cheery toot as I passed him. He was in the wrong lane, stuck behind three cars and a bus waiting to turn right at the lights and I had a clear road ahead. A simple beginner’s mistake on his part. Perhaps he’ll learn, but I don’t think so. As we sailed past him I distinctly saw that angry little black monkey sitting on his shoulder, whispering in his ear. So nice to see them together, they deserve each other.

We went in to JL and Scamp quickly got exactly what she was looking for while I ogled the Big Boy’s Toys in the photography section. Then she decided to go look in Next and I went to practise sketching Buchanan Galleries. Inktober starts on Monday and I need lots of practise.

Once we met up, we went for a really poor excuse for a coffee in Nero at the Galleries. They have one more chance to up their game and then they get dropped. Almost Cumbernauld Costa quality they were producing. Burnt water blend.

Drove home without mishap and without meeting any more zoomers. Decided it was warm enough to go cycling if I had enough layers on. Made not a bad fist of fighting my way through the mad (not ‘zoomer’) drivers heading home early from work and did a bit of off road cycling. While I was out in the wilderness I heard the note of a small turboprop plane and guessed it was my favourite aircraft the Piaggio P180. A small 11 seater canard (an aircraft with horizontal stabilising and control surfaces in front of the wing). You can usually hear them long before you see them, but I still had to set up my camera properly to catch this small fast plane and that’s why I tried to jump a fallen tree and tangled my leg in a long bramble stem which is the reason that I’m smelling of TCP right now and have long scratches down my calves. I got the photo, though and that’s the main thing as any photog will tell you. It was indeed a Piaggio P180 flying from Bremen to Glasgow and my leg is indeed still sore.

Heading home I met zoomer 3. Maybe they come in threes. She, it was definitely a She, was driving and she was in a hurry and she was taking no prisoners and she didn’t see cyclists, even ones with flashing red rear light on. If she’s been an inch or two closer she would have had a nasty scrape down her nearside door and I wouldn’t have had to worry about the bramble scratch on my legs. Luckily she didn’t make that move and I got home safe, but it was a very near miss, Miss.

“Zoomer – A person of an erratic or volatile disposition.”

PoD is a view from the JL bridge over the railway in Glasgow taken with the Samyang, the lens of the moment.

Tomorrow we have no plans. Nothing we need to get, nowhere we need to be. Let’s hope that it’s Zoomers Stay At Home Day.

Walking with the Romans – 27 September 2018

Watched the light disappearing this morning until it felt light twilight was approaching.

It didn’t look as if I was going to get any photograph worth its name today as clouds crowded in and the sunlight disappeared. Even worse, the software I bought earlier in the year wouldn’t start, telling me that my trial period had finished and asking me to log in. Went online and their website seemed to be ok, in fact I’d been on that same website two days ago watching the webinar presentation of their sparkling new 2019 version of the software. It didn’t impress me much. Lots of pretty colours and stuff, but nothing substantial. In fact when I’d asked a question on the webinar about the possibility of a history panel making an appearance in the new version, the answer came back that it would perhaps be included in an update later in 2019. So, in other words, no chance. You see, a history panel isn’t whizzo. It isn’t colourful, it’s practical. Lightroom has had it since version 1. With 61 votes it is the fifth most requested feature by users on the ON 1 website but has never been implemented while a keyword listing feature with one vote has been implemented in the new release. So much for being the company that listens to the users. They certainly weren’t listening to the users who were complaining bitterly about not being able to use the software this morning. It was only when America came on-line that the problem was solved, without a word of apology from the company that listens to the users.

After lunch, when I’d cooled down, I did go out and drove to the old road to Banknock. Its been closed for many years now. Initially it was because a railway bridge needed to be strengthened, but then it was discovered that the road was subsiding. Rather than fix it, the council made the decision to close the road. That’s the way it works (or doesn’t) in NLC. The worst council in Scotland.
I parked and walked up on to the Antonine Wall the northern Roman wall across Scotland. It wasn’t really much of a wall. Not like the one Hadrian built to keep out the Picts. That was a real wall built from stone. The Antonine wall by comparison was a turf and wood wall on a stone foundation with a deep ditch on the northern side to help repel the wild folk from Banknock and district. Now it’s covered with trees, mainly oaks that have suffered in the recent gales. Others have apparently been ‘made safe’ according to the notice that tells the unwary that the path is closed. Not very closed, because the five bar gate is easy to climb. It was on the top of the wall that I got today’s PoD. To tie up this and the previous paragraph, I used the working ON1 2018 software to process the PoD, although I did finish it off in Lightroom. Some of the fanatics supporters of ON 1, mostly americans were salivating at the prospect of what the new software could do, while aware that they couldn’t run their present 2018 version. Most said they had ditched Lightroom in preference to the ON 1 2018. I though “Babies and Bathwater”. Repent at leisure.

That’s the ranting over for today, I think. Dinner tonight was a second attempt at Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese. It worked, but maybe not as well as the last time.

Tomorrow? No real plans. Shopping for baby stuff for a newborn, perhaps.

Dancing, Pensioners and Painting – 26 September 2018

Today being a Wednesday was a dancing day. Drove in to Glasgow through the rain and high winds. Dancing started with Jive and especially the Lindy Hops, the Ladles, the Stepover and the Timesteps. Only the Timesteps set was new. New and demanding for me at least. Scamp, of course breezed through it with little or no problem. Waltz was looking good again with only a few corrections from Michael. In Quickstep we were trying to iron out the problems in the Check and Lock steps. Again, I should rephrase that to I was trying to iron out the problems with those steps. In Tango we were starting to learn a backwards turn. Honestly, ma’ heid wiz buzzin’ by the time we walked out of Blackfriars into a dry Glasgow and we went for a coffee to debrief and discuss progress.

Had a quick look in CassArt for a sketchbook to devote to Inktober 2018 which starts on Monday. One ink sketch per day, throughout the month of October, posted somewhere on-line. Mine usually go on my own Inktober group on Flickr and also on my blog. The group has been created and at present we have one member plus me, but I’m sure we’ll grow.

Scamp volunteered to do dinner tonight so I used the available time to paint another watercolour. This one, like the last two was based on a photograph. The photograph in question was a frame from a TV series about the lochs of Scotland. I think the view I chose was Plockton, but don’t quote me on that. I started painting purely with watercolour i.e. without a pencil outline. However, it became too difficult and there were a lot of perspective lines that needed to be there as a guide to the application of paint, so I set the brushes aside and lifted a pencil. Even after the pencil work had been done and the washes laid in place, it still looked a bit twee. That was when I added some ink lines and suddenly the painting looked a lot better. The pen gave the detail that was needed and the paint gave the colour. A great improvement.

After dinner (Kedgeree) we drove in to Glasgow to dance one class and it was really enjoyable. Nothing too taxing, just a relaxing dance or five! Even with two dancing classes, walking halfway through Glasgow and back, my step counter still says 9,525 steps. Somebody’s short changing me somewhere.

Today’s PoD was taken on the walk back from Blackfriars and its title is The Pensioners Day Out. I felt sorry for the poor wee bloke on the right who wasn’t allowed to join the group. Maybe he’d farted!

No plans for tomorrow. None at all!

Doon the Luggie – 25 September 2018

A dull day, but I got a painting finished, a PoD and I made the dinner, so not that dull.

I started the painting in the morning while Scamp was out in a raiding party to Tesco. She went to the town centre store as she’d already bought Craigmarloch Tesco on Sunday. The painting was based on a photo from Flickr. Since it was a dull day and there was the likelihood of rain, I thought it would be best to work from a photo rather than from life. It took just over half an hour, including some tweaking of textures and adding an ink outline. Not bad I thought.

After lunch I toyed with the idea of going out to get some photos, but by the time I’d decided to go, it was raining. Not that it made much difference to me. I needed a PoD and that PoD was out there, in the rain. That’s the whole point of doing a PoD. It forces me to get off my backside and go out and grab a piece of the day, process it and post it. You take what the day gives you and you work with it. Yesterday it was all about the big picture, grand views. Today it would be about rain.

Drove down to the Cumbersheugh railway station and parked there. Then walked across the road and down through the trees to walk along the Luggie. It’s called the Luggie Water, but it’s really just a burn, a stream to English readers. It was flowing a bit higher than normal today and that’s what gave me the idea of a slow shutter speed shot of the wee waterfall. Out of six shots I took, only one didn’t have a hand, a foot or a bit of the gorilla pod in the frame. Honestly, these ultra wide lenses should come with a warning to check the viewfinder closely before you press the shutter button.

The final shot was what you see above and apart from a bit of cropping, was as it came out of the camera. It’s not often that happens, but this one did.

Dinner was Prawn and Courgette Spaghetti and was a bit of an experiment. Like most experiments, at least like most of my culinary experiments, it will need a bit of tweaking before I try it again. The lime dressing was too strong, the prawns were overdone but the courgette spaghetti was interesting enough to make again.

So a dull day weatherise. Drizzly rain for the most part, but an interesting day too. Got stuff done, that always helps. Tomorrow it’s dancin’!

Scone Palace – 24 September 2018

Went to Scone, but didn’t get one!

We’d been saying for ages that we should go to Scone Palace. Scamp had an Itison voucher which was valid until October and as time was marching on and it was a beautiful morning, we decided that today was the day.

Drove up there with the satnav taking us a circuitous route around the motorway system on the outskirts of Perth but it was down to Scamp in Genghis Pathfinder mode to spot the turnoff for the Palace. Parked up, got our tickets and went looking for the entrance. At first we thought it was closed for the day, but then got inside to be warned that we weren’t allowed to take photos. What is it with these big houses that they take your money, then lay down the law about what you can and can’t do. I remember once being told in a National Trust place that photography damages the fabric of the building! Well, it would if you had a big full frame camera with battery pack and you started banging it off the walls, but I don’t believe cameras steal your soul and I don’t believe they can damage the fabric of a building. Philistines! Interior was interesting, but I can’t imagine what life must have been like in a great gloomy mansion like that, not even having the pleasure of taking some photos for fear that your hobby would bring the place down around your ears.

I much preferred the walk through the trees, especially the pinetum with its enormous redwood. Just walking in the sunshine under these trees, smelling the pine resin scents was a tonic in itself. We also inspected the kitchen garden, but it looked as if almost everything had been harvested fairly recently. There was very little of interest to see apart from some overgrown flowers and a poly tunnel with tomatoes and courgettes. There were some cordon grown plums, but two fat ladies were picking and eating the plums, at least, I hope they were plums or else there will be two fat, dead ladies in Scone tonight. Our last stop on the tour of the gardens was the maze and we wandered round half of it before finding the way to the fountain in the centre and so to the exit.

Before our walk in the woods, we stopped in the cafe for two baked tatties with haggis, two coffees and a shared strawberry tart, just to fortify us. Food was good and reasonably priced, but the prices in the ‘gift shop’ were daylight robbery. I know, we should have had a scone instead of a strawberry tart, just to say we had a scone at Scone, but we didn’t. Maybe next time DV.

Drove back into Perth and stopped to get coffee beans and, because we could, we went to Nero for more coffee, then we drove home through the usual stramash at Dunblane and again at Haggs. Gave up at the latter and took the longer, but quicker way home through Kilsyth and Dullatur.

PoD was a view of the ‘chapel’ which is actually a mausoleum.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow, but today was a good day. Glad we went, pity about the scone!

An improving situation – 22 September 2018

Woke late this morning and Scamp seemed to be much better.

It was a decent looking morning with a bit of sunshine through the trees outside, so I thought it would be a good idea to go for a spin. A few possible destinations came to mind. Possibly Perth or Troon or Dunfermline. Dunfermline won, so we headed over the Forth to The Kingdom of Fife and its capital Dunfermline. Just managed to grab a space as a car came out of it in the carpark for Pittencrief Park and went for a walk through the lungs of the town. Pittencrief is a large open green space on the southern edge of the town. A great place for a walk on a bright autumn day.

The place was really busy and everyone had their phones out. In fact, some people had two phones, one in each hand. All the phone users were firmly fixed on a map app. I presume it was some sort of treasure hunt where you actually had to be in the vicinity of the clues to get further instructions to finding the treasure. We weren’t locals, so we didn’t take part, but it looked like a lot of Fun For Fifers. We didn’t get in to the glasshouse which is usually a great spot for photos, because for some reason it was closed today. Bummer. We usually come midweek and always on a day when it’s closed. Today I thought we were safe, coming on a Saturday, but somebody had grassed on us and they’d closed the glasshouse.

Walked back through the town and had coffee and a light lunch in a Nero, then drove home. When we got home, Scamp pronounced herself well enough to go and cut the front grass. She had just finished when the rain came on. Just before she was going to get the blower out and hurricane all the cut grass into the trees across the path. She stood watching out of the front window like an impatient child waiting for the rain to stop so that she could go and terrify the neighbourhood with the Big Orange Blowy Thing. The rain stopped and out she went to put that grass in its place. Such delight at such a simple thing.

Dinner tonight was curry from Bombay Dreams. Possibly the best Indian restaurant and take-away in Scotland, if not the world. We were circumspect tonight and only ate half, keeping the other half for tomorrow’s dinner.

PoD turned out to be three phone fanatics in Dunfermline today. One of those shots you take and just know that PoD is in the bag.

Tomorrow? If the weather holds, I think we might risk a walk down The Green with the possibility of cycling for me in the afternoon.

Dragonflies, Porridge and Lentil Soup – 21 September 2018

Although not in that order.

Scamp was feeling a little under the weather this morning so I let her sleep on and got up and made some porridge for me. It’s a long while since I’ve had this Scottish breakfast. You can tell it’s the Scottish version if it comes unsweetened or even with added salt. Only sassenachs have honey / sugar / syrup on their porridge. Me? I take it as it comes. No salt and certainly nothing of a sugary nature. I make mine with oats, and milk. Boiled in the microwave for 2 minutes and 20 seconds. I find it funny, the looks I get, when we go on cruises and I add salt to my porridge. That look of horror from the english who don’t know any better 😉
After an hour or so, I took up her light breakfast. No porridge of any kind for Scamp. I was pleased to see her looking a lot better than yesterday.

We had an easy morning and after lunch Scamp instructed me in the noble art of making Lentil Soup. I’ve made soup before, in fact I’d half intended to make Tomato Soup for tonight’s dinner, but I’ve never attempted soup using the time honoured “a handful of this and a pinch of that and just about this amount of water”. It’s what my mum used in her cooking and what Scamp’s mum used too. I’m more a ‘time and temperature’ person, working to millilitres and grams where possible. Anyway, the soup turned out too thin, so I had to add “Just about a handful more lentils.” Then it was fine. I also made some bread using grams and millilitres, and felt so much more in control.

With the soup thickening and the bread proving, I walked over to St Mo’s to get some photos in the afternoon sunshine, because today we had sunshine almost all day. A bit of a breeze, but nothing like the gales we had midweek. PoD was the black dragonfly resting on the boardwalk over the mashes at St Mo’s. I used my usual method of taking a shot, moving closer, taking a shot, moving closer etc. Except, my final shots were taken at almost 1:1 and the dragonfly hadn’t even twitched. Maybe it was exhausted or maybe it was doing what dragons seem to do, sizing me up.

Came home and had soup and bread for dinner with a recovering Scamp. She does do a good lesson on soup making.

Tomorrow if the weather fairies are correct, should be a decent day, so we may go out for a run in a shiny clean Juke. Where, is open to suggestions!

Jukin’ with a Boy Racer Micra – 20 September 2018

This morning the Juke went for its first service and I swapped it for a shiny black and orange Micra, just for the day.

First thought on the Micra was that it was a lot bigger and lower than Scamp’s little red car. Then I slid into the driving seat and felt that my bum might just scrape along the tarmac and I wondered if I’d be able to get back out of it again without the use of a hoist. The clutch pedal seemed to have a rather long travel, either that or my legs had shrunk. Engine sounded healthy and there seemed to be a lot of horses under the bonnet. It was, like all things good in parts. One of the good bits, apart from the horses under the bonnet was the display on the dash. Very clear and with loads of information. Analog speedo and rev counter with incongruously a digital speedo between the two dials. What? So I can compare and contrast the differences in displayed speed as I run into the bus in front of me? Outside temperature, time, fuel economy. Maybe a bit of information overload. It drove well and like Scamp said “It was a car.” It was good to have the experience of the loan. It made me happy that I’d chosen the Juke over the Micra. I couldn’t see Scamp driving it with any less reluctance than she has for the Juke. Visibility in the car is certainly not as good as ‘Big Red’ The door pillar creates a large blind spot just where the mirror already has a blind spot and that’s not a great selling point. When we went for a spin this afternoon, we were agreed we didn’t like it all that much. A bit too plasticky. The Juke may be big and heavy, but it gives the feeling of solidity. I was glad when the garage phoned to tell us the car was ready.

After our trip to Stirling to pick up the very shiny Juke we drove home. Scamp wasn’t feeling too good, so she plunked herself down with a cup of ‘white tea’ and I went out for a walk in St Mo’s which is where I got today’s PoD. It’s an amalgam of two photos. One of the face of the fly and one of the hairy wee legs. Both shots blended in Photoshop. With an ISO of 3600 it was going to be a ‘noisy’ photo without too much in the way of smooth tones, but it was that kind of day. A day that started out with bright sunshine but by 4pm it was feeling more like twilight.

Between picking up the Micra and going for a spin I’d been to the physio who was pleased with the results on my knee and after a bit of laser treatment and some pin cushion tricks I was sent on my way with the possibility of being signed off in two weeks.

I did dinner tonight and with Scamp’s help it was pan fried chicken breast with baked potato. I was careful to stick to her tried and tested method and of course it worked. Why wouldn’t it.

The above is a wee watercolour I did from a photo I saw on Flickr.  After it was done I wasn’t happy with it, so I added some pen outlines once the paint had dried and I think it improves it greatly.
Details are W&N watercolours on Bockingford 300gsm Rough paper.

Don’t know what we’re up to tomorrow. I don’t expect we’ll be going far unless Scamp’s cold improves. Let’s hope it does.