IMG_4280- blog

Glasgow in the Rain – 18 October 2017

Now, I like Glasgow. It has beautiful architecture, some fairly decent shops and a good Cafe Nero, but Glasgow in the rain is like any other city in the rain – dismal.

I imagine that’s what the picture at the top shows. Its description on Flickr said “It’s Scotland. We specialize in gloomy.” It was my PoD. I’ve become a lot less invasive with my editing since I got the iMac. Up until last week I was applying the techniques from the French bloke Serge Ramelli. They work well, but give a rather false look and everyone looks the same or similar. Since I got the iMac I’ve been experimenting with a much simpler and less extreme group of settings and I like that better than Mr Ramelli’s technicolor marvels.

Photography aside, we went to Glasgow to get a party wig for Scamp who is going to said party on Friday. It’s to be standard Halloween fare for the ‘Witches’. Lots of drink, lots of food and a good laugh. Luckily it’s girls only, so I am spared the excesses. Also luckily it’s someone else’s turn to drive, so I have Friday night off. We did eventually find a wig. Nothing very special, but at least we got one. Not in Glasgow, though. Everything there was overpriced and tacky. I had forgotten how many pop-up shops appear like toadstools around autumn. Each shop selling the same tat for the same price. Is there a cartel running here simply to fleece the unwary at Halloween. I know these same shops will disappear overnight on the 1st of November, then pop up again on the 2nd November disguised as jolly Xmas shops.

Spent the afternoon writing an email complaint to Vodies. Maybe that should be Vogons, because “Resistance is Useless” (Not ‘Futile’ – that was Star-trek.) Then set about cataloguing my photo collection using Lightroom. So far I’ve got from 2000 to 2004. A little bit at a time is the way to do it.

Salsa tonight was interesting for a while, but the 7.30 class was boring because it has shrunk again to about six couples, three of whom are ‘advanced’ helpers. Not at all good. It’s due to close in three weeks.

Today’s sketch is the phone. Not nearly my best and yesterday’s (done this afternoon!) was little better. Must try harder.

Tomorrow? Maybe Falkirk.

IMG_4280- blog

Today I became a Windows Hater – 14 October 2017

The day started well. The wee tickle in the back of my throat had gone. Partly this was due to me taking a fairly big slug of Benylin and partly due to me taking an extra dose of vitamin C tablets with some honey, both just before I went to bed. I don’t know if the Benylin helped with the cough, but it did certainly get me to sleep double quick and I had the longest and best sleep I’ve had in weeks.

That was the good news. The weather outside was grim. When I woke it was light and there was just the hint of some sun, but that gradually faded to the usual grey. We couldn’t decide what to do and I think we were both waiting for the weather to improve. It didn’t and as we had nowhere we needed to be and nothing we needed to do, we went out of a run to that awkwardly named Chatelherault. Thank goodness for Ctrl V. Scamp chose the top route this time and I suggested we walk to the Green Bridge. It’s many, many years since I’ve been to the Green Bridge at Maryhoses. Unfortunately, we hadn’t brought the walking poles with us and the path down the hill to the river was really steep and slippery with muck. Scamp decided she wasn’t going to risk it and I agreed, so we walked back along the path to Chatelherault and had coffee and a pineapple cake (pure indulgence) for our efforts.

I got a couple of photos at Chatelherault and then we came home.

I’ve got a 2TB desktop HD. It’s got two partitions (Don’t worry. Not too much technospeak) Tonight I planned to use the PC to copy files from one partition to the other to free up space to make a backup drive for the iMac. I set the PC to copy the 300GB of photos (copies, of course). It reported that it would take about 4 hours. That was ok, I used a program that would allow ‘unattended copying’. To do that you just specify what to do on certain occasions and the program does the rest. No problem then? After about two hours I went to check how it was progressing, only to find that Windows 10 had installed an update and restarted the machine, halting the copying and switching off the drive in the process. The upshot is that the drive is now unreadable. I read so many tirades on the net about Windows being unmanageable these days since Windows 10 has taken over, but until tonight I didn’t really believe them. I do now. The iMac may have cost a lot of money and I know that Apple too has its flaws, but tonight’s escapade was pure vandalism by a company that expects us to trust them. I am now a fully paid up Windows Hater.

Tonight’s sketch is of riverside apartments beside the River Clyde at Glasgow Green. It was done from a photo, but that’s ok by me. It’s done and on time.

I’m going to bed now to prevent me from having another rant about Windows fuckin’ Updates.

IMG_4280- blog

Photos, Phones and Probably a Sketch – 12 October 2017

Today I intended to get the bus in to Glasgow just to have a wander, probably gather some photos and maybe get a sketch completed. That was the ‘fun’ stuff, I also wanted to get a baseline price for a new phone contract. That wouldn’t be fun.

As it turned out, Scamp offered me a lift to the station, so I got the train in instead. When I got to the station there was a fair commotion with four police cars and two ambulances sitting outside. The reason for the stramash was lying on the floor in the corridor that takes you down to the low level station. One of the ceiling panels had fallen. Usually these panels are fibreboard or plasterboard, but this part of the station dates to the 1960s and this panel was concrete! Cordons had been set up, police were taking statements from witnesses and at least one wee Glesga wummin who wanted to be seen to be ‘assisting police with their enquiries’. There were also a few ambulance personnel looking for someone to assist. Thankfully only one person was injured, but looking at the size of the concrete lumps, this could have had a totally different outcome.

I walked up Sausage Roll Street and found a sketch for the day. It wasn’t a cold day, but the wind blowing over Garnethill was cutting. I took about 15 minutes to get the bones of the sketch of St Aloysius Church. Even at the second attempt I managed to truncate it and removed the dome at the top of the tower. However, I think I got the gist of the building. Went in to Mandors and got some fabric to make a bow tie for myself. It’s printed with cameras. Quite apt I thought.

From there I walked down to Argyle Street via a couple of art galleries, looking for inspiration. Into Cass Art to browse. Just window shopping. They too had a gallery where a group of 25 artists were selling their work, so I wandered round looking for inspiration. Inspiration is a fickle thing. I found it in the first galleries, but in the Cass Art gallery I realised that my own work was actually not bad. After all this fun stuff, it was time to face Vodafone.

As predicted, all they offered was the blanket price from the website. I could have sat on my backside in front of my shiny new iMac and got that same price. In fact I had. I was told that if I was in the police, army NHS or any of 5,000 other occupations or companies, I was eligible for a discount (allegedly!), but upgrading was not due a discount. Staying with a company was not due a discount. That said, the salesperson had originally told me that I was not eligible for an upgrade because I was outwith the 70 days until the end of my contract. Also, apparently I’d phoned the shop at some point in the last week. Believe me, I wouldn’t waste any of my unlimited minutes phoning them. I just wanted a baseline price and I got their laughable offer, then left.

Scamp had offered to pick me up from the station, so I just got the train back after checking that it was still ok with her. Had a quick roll ‘n’ cooked ham as a late lunch and then grabbed the Nikon and went for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s where I got PoD which was the spider. I was tempted by the pic of the bloke playing slide guitar on Bucky Street. It was when I got the photo home I realised that only his right hand had false nails. Presumably to help with picking the strings. I’d love to have been in the nail bar when he walked in!

Phoned Vodafone customer service later and spoke to someone sensible who sold me the same deal as the salesman in Glasgow, but with a 20% discount. I know I could have pressed for 25% or maybe eve 30%, but he had beaten the Tesco price and it meant I was getting a new phone with more storage space for less than I paid two years ago. Result!

All of that and Seabass for dinner. A good day!

Looks like overnight rain and a wet morning commute, except we don’t commute any more. We just wait for the sun to shine, which may happen around midday with a bit of luck. No plans for tomorrow. May do the first backup of the iMac. Need to think up a name for the new phone. The last one was ‘Mambo No 5’. I’m thinking this one might be ‘Isa.’

IMG_4280- blog

Dreaming of things that could never be done – 6 October 2017

Today we went to Mugdock Park.

For the first time I actually used the satnav in the car. It worked perfectly. I knew how to get to Mugdock, but I wasn’t sure how to get in to central Glasgow from there and the satnav got me there without a single wrong turn. We went to Mugdock to go to a craft exhibition in aid of Playlist for Dementia, after being alerted to the event by a friend of ours. Exhibition was interesting, with quite a few decent paintings and also some lovely wood carving pieces. I wanted to go in to Glasgow afterwards and that’s where the satnav came into its own.

Saw some great places to photograph on the way in. Places I haven’t seen for years, like a place on Balmore Road I went looking for a job away back in the early ’70s. Didn’t get the job, got another one instead. Moving from one job to another was so much easier in those days, not like now. We parked in the JL carpark and I used that other brilliant piece of new-tech, the reversing camera. Honestly, I don’t know how I managed without it. In the street it’s useful, but in a multi it’s absolutely essential. We were on level 5 so we could just walk straight into JL which was convenient as I wanted to have a wistful, wishful look at an iMac. They had them in JL, but the model on display was an old-tech 2015 model. It might as well have been 1915, computers have moved on so quickly. It was running the latest Mac OS, but painfully slowly. Thankfully the ones in the Apple shop were up to date. For once, I’d say I’d trust them with my money before JL, but it’s just a dream at present.

For lunch we went to the Russian restaurant we went to ages ago and boring me had the same starter and main I had then while Scamp went for a different selection, but wasn’t impressed with it again. Hard to please, is Scamp. Of course I’m just the opposite. Happy with my lot 😉 Well, at least I was happy with my Borscht and Golubtzi.

On the way back I listened to a couple of blokes busking. The bloke on the guitar was ok, but the other one playing the sax was very good. That’s him at the top of the page.

Sketch today was done from a photo. I just can’t seem to gee my ginger and get some decent drawing done. Too much going on in my head I think. Must calm down, ground myself and my sketching will improve, I’m sure.

Trying out a new journal app now that Day One Classic has been dropped by Dropbox and is being retired by its makers. Day One 2 has been re-written and it’s now free, but to get it to sync you have to pay a hefty annual subscription. I’m not a fan of being held to ransom by subscription, so I’m testing out Journey. It works on OSX, Windows, Android and Chrome. For some reason best known to the makers, it is not available as an app for IOS, but you can use a web based version for free from any platform. I may not be using IOS either soon as my phone contract is up half way through the month and I don’t like the direction Apple are going with their mobiles. I think I will look at an Android instead.

Don’t have plans for tomorrow. Wait and see, that’s the byword.

IMG_4280- blog

DML – 5 October 2017

We had decided that if the day was good and sunny we’d go to DML to show it to the Red Juke. It was, and we did.

To make sure we were doing it right, we drove through ‘Blue Rinse’ Callander to take the Duke’s Pass to DML. It will now be renamed the Juke’s Pass. It was on this road that we realised one of the shortfalls of DAB radios. They are fine in the Central Belt and Glasgow, but take one to anywhere slightly hilly and out of town, for instance, the Juke’s Pass and the reception becomes patchy to say the least. We stopped to try to figure it out which allowed the wee silver car in front of us, the one that only had first and second gear, to get away from us. Started off again and enabled Sport Mode. I can now verify that the Juke can corner with the best of them. Scamp doesn’t like Sport Mode. Unfortunately she couldn’t find the Zaphod Beeblebrox glasses. It goes like stink, even up the steepest hills.

We got to DML It’s never going to be ’The Lodge’1 we parked in the designated place where we park every new car we get. It’s a tradition as you well know. That’s The Juke there in the picture, looking quite Flame Red.

We put our walking boots on. Mine clabbered in muck and Scamp’s showroom clean and walked to the waterfall which was looking very dramatic today with the water running off a spate after yesterday and the day before’s rain. The place was busy with a bus tour party, mostly American’s. The Capital letter means they didn’t get in my way while I was photographing the waterfall and weren’t loud and shouty as they sometimes are.

Had a bowl of soup in the cafe that purported to be leek and potato, but no leeks or potatoes were observed although it had been blitzed to death, so any constituent parts would have been microscopic. However, it was hot (very hot) and warmed us up.

Drove back through Aberfoyle and stopped for coffee at the new place, the Smiddy near Blair Drummond. Coffee was ok, but not great and Ginger and Cranberry scone was worth experimenting with. We’ll add it to our ’Worth Trying Again’ list.

Stopped once more at Dobbies for Scamp to add another rose to her collection. This one was Peace. One of my mum’s favourites.

Tomorrow if it’s as good as today, we may go to Mugdock to a craft sale for a Dementia charity.


  1. If you come from Larky, ’The Lodge’ can either mean a protestant extremist organisation or a very secretive, but not secret (honest, nothing secret here) organisation. Both excuses for cheap bar prices. Count the ’rubber men’ outside either of their premises and you’ll agree. 
IMG_4280- blog

Inktober begins – 1 October 2017

Today is the 1st of October. For sketchers throughout the world, it’s the first of 31 days of inky fingers and that occasional sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach that tells them it’s 11pm and they haven’t done a sketch that day. On the other hand, as they reach day 31 with a complete folio, it’s a great feeling of achievement. Inktober was started by Jake Parker in 2009 as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavour with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year. In 2015 I signed up, but only managed five or six sketches. Last year, in 2016, I was more determined and completed all 31 sketches. I know Inktober isn’t for everyone, but the regime of a daily sketch helps keep the mind and the hand active. Some people have hosts of rules and a theme for each day of October. I try to keep it simple:

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can add a little watercolour if you want to).

2) Post it online

3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2017

4) Repeat next day

That’s enough of Inktober. What of the day? We were up and dressed early today, that is just after 8am to have breakfast watching the last ever Malaysian GP. It looked like shooty in for Hamilton starting from pole, and with Vettel starting from the back of the pack, but it wasn’t as simple as that. It rarely is. For the second time this season, it was an interesting race, even the parade lap after the chequered flag had its moments with Vettel crashing into Lance Stroll. What a numpty.

I had intended going out for a walk to clear my head after that, but I did my first Inktober sketch instead. It was a really dreadful day weatherwise. Rain, drizzle, smir, torrential. All words for rain and each of them had a place in our weather map today. You’ll notice sunshine wasn’t mentioned. It was there, but its presence was measured in seconds, not minutes and certainly not hours. A dull, dreich day.

The bright spot was Salsa at night. It should have been on in the afternoon, but after a double booking we were sidelined to Ad Lib which is actually a very nice venue. I’d go there again, mainly because I got a nice parking spot almost right outside. Well, I deserve it, having a nice new motor.

Swallow Watch:  This week I saw some swallows, on Monday I think, and this is week 40.

Tomorrow? It’s going to be windy and wet. I may go in to Glasgow to get fixative for the pastels and some watercolour half pans. If I’ve got time I might go swimming. Oh, and I need a sketch!

IMG_4280- blog

Untrained – 30 September 2017

We had intended to take the train to Embra today. Scamp even drove us to the station in her car, but …

When we got there we found out that due to safety checks on the line between Haymarket and Waverley, trains (if they weren’t cancelled) were stopping at Linlithgow, about 20 miles from Embra, and it was up to you to get from Linlithgow to Embra. That’s Scotrail for you. Make it up as you go along. If the problem is between Haymarket and Waverley, both in Embra, why are they stopping the trains 20 miles away? That’s a pretty big safety zone.  Must be the wrong kind of leaves on the line again.

Anyway, we told the nice ticket man that we wouldn’t be travelling on his maybe-not-cancelled train today and drove home to change cars and drive (me driving this time) to Perf, not Embra. It was a pleasant drive up the A9 to the Fair City of Perth. Car performed perfectly and I finally got the hang of the new cruise control. I also tried out the speed limiter, but that’s not as much fun. Best of all, I tried out Sport mode which gives you a nice little whack of G-force as you accelerate! Only to be used sparingly as it does eat up your fuel consumption. All in all it’s a really nice car to drive. I’m very impressed.

Perf was busy as usual on a weekend. Far too many people around I much prefer going on a weekday. Got some coffee, some tea and some dried fruit to make my breakfast compote. Fruit for the compote, there’s no coffee or tea in it. Just thought I’d make that clear. While we were there and while Scamp was shopping in Marks, I wandered round the outside of St John’s Kirk, the big church in the middle of the town. I got a sketch done. It’s a bit ropey, but with a bit of tweaking from the photo I took, it should do. Tomorrow is the start of Inktober 2017 and I need to get myself back in harness to do a sketch a day. There’s a wee challenge for you Hazy. One sketch every day, posted on Flickr. You can add it to my group if you want. Only one real rule. The predominant medium must be ink, hence the name. You too, JIC. Get started sketching. Fifteen minutes in your lunch break is all you need!!
Today’s PoD is a wide angle shot from the walk round the church. I also liked the monkey gargoyle!

A couple of weeks ago Scamp came across an envelope from a school venture with a £10 note in it. It was surplus money from a school trip we went on twenty odd years ago. It wasn’t my money and the school doesn’t exist any more, so today it went into a charity tin in the Heart Foundation shop in Perf. They will be able to use it. I’d already checked with the bank and it was still legal tender.

Back home, dinner was a Scamp speciality, Prawn Stir fry. Spicy and hot, but very, very good.

I’d been reading a book about painting with pastels in an Oxfam bookshop in Perf.  I don’t think you draw with pastels, you paint with them.  I hadn’t really used pastels, except for messing around with them for a graphics topic for school.  Today I pinned a sheet of Ingres paper on an old drawing board and painted a landscape.  The same one I’d been tentatively poking paint at for the last week.  This one took maybe half an hour?  It’s rough, but I like it.  Maybe I’ll fix it and frame it.

Tomorrow looks wet. I think we’re going dancing at night because the usual Sunday Social venue is double booked and we lose. Should still be fun.

IMG_4280- blog

When I’m cleaning windows – 19 September 2017

Sitting in the people’s palace enjoying a roll ’n’ sausage and a fairly decent cup of coffee. I’m becoming a real coffee snob, Hazy! Scamp had her usual peppermint tea and a couple of slices of toast. It seems strange sitting here on a weekday! We’d just been on a recce to find the party venue for John Carrigan’s 60th in Ibrox, deep in Bluenose territory.

Earlier in the afternoon we were walking round Glasgow Green marvelling at three blokes who were abseiling down one of the multi-story flats. We thought they were cleaning the windows, but it wasn’t until I got the photos home and processed that it became clear that they were actually repairing the windows. They were replacing the seals. Not the sort of job I’d like to be doing, even on a beautiful day like today. However, the view from the top would have been wonderful.

After lunch we drove home and I went out to see if the dragonflies were still sunning themselves up at Fannyside. They were, but their numbers well well down from last week. Only about half a dozen rather than last week’s nineteen. This time I had the proper gear. Nikon D7000 and the Sigma 105mm macro. Maybe it was because it was later when I got there, but the little dragonflies that landed seem lazy and quite happy to simply sit there and be photographed. As usual, I got the feeling that they were sizing me up as I was photographing them. Scary things dragonflies.

In the morning, I’d put what might be the finishing touches to my acrylic painting, so I present it here for your perusal.

Salesman from the garage phoned tonight with an update on the car. It might be arriving a day or two earlier. We’ll know for sure later in the week.

Finally, we don’t have a plan for tomorrow apart from Salsa at night and yesterday’s move wasn’t Sombrero Doble, it was Balsero Dos. Almost the same thing.

IMG_4280- blog

Creepy Building – 18 September 2017

It’s Monday and that means two things. Gems and Salsa.

While Gems were going through their paces I used the time to get a painting idea out of my head. I had a couple of old canvases that I’d painted over and were unallocated at present, so I started into them using some acrylics and some heavy body gel to give a bit of impasto. I was quite pleased with the effect and may work into it a bit more to brighten some areas of the hills to give it a bit more form.

That done, I drove to the Fort to buy a book from Waterstones – “How to paint people quickly” by Hazel Soan. I’m aware that I haven’t posted an ink sketch this week, but the matter is in hand.

On the way back from Glasgow, I stopped at Gartloch, where the ruin of the old mental hospital stands in the middle of an exclusive housing development. I took a few photos, but didn’t linger long. It felt like I shouldn’t be there. I can’t imagine what it must have been like being incarcerated in this victorian monstrosity. I’d heard it described as being like the set of a horror film, but it’s not until you see it, you fully appreciate what that means. I can’t understand why anyone in their right mind (no pun intended) would pay to live next to this scary big group of buildings, because this isn’t just one pile of sandstone, this is a whole group of them. No glass in the windows. Most of them and all the doors boarded up. I didn’t linger long, but I’d always told myself I’d visit it one day. It’s done now.

On a brighter note, Salsa tonight was great fun. Advanced class did Guanabo, Disco, Sombrero Doble Balsero Dos and ’The New One’.

Tomorrow we go to ‘recce’ the venue for a birthday party on Friday for John Carrigan.

IMG_4280- blog

A rather full day – 17 September 2017

When we woke this morning, someone was shouting at us from a loud hailer from the general direction of the football stadium. It appeared that the Cumbernauld 10K had started. We really should go and watch.

We walked down through the new housing estate and found that the all the races had started. The 1K were already home, the 3K were due at any minute and the 10K were halfway round the pond. All this had happened while we were having our breakfast and reading in bed. We watched the 3K folk finishing and by the time their stragglers were coming to the stadium, the first of the 10K were in sight. We watched a few of them enter the stadium, then walked back along the road clapping to encourage the runners as we went. I find now if I stand in one place for too long, I get a back pain. Gentle moving eases it. Running 10K wouldn’t help though!

We did see one accident while we were watching. One man, not a competitor took a tumble on the grass beside the footpath and fell heavily on his shoulder. He started screaming in pain and holding his shoulder. The First-Aider got him to cross his arms in front of his chest and hold opposite shoulders. Classic textbook broken collar bone injury. He was eventually carted off in a wheelchair into the VIP area. Possibly that’s where he wanted to go in the first place, but a rather extreme way of getting entrance.

We walked back home and were just making lunch when JIC and Sim arrived back with Chris and Yvonne. After catching up with C & Y they left to go home and we booked an early dinner at Milano’s, then headed off to Chatelherault near Hamilton to go for a walk through the trees. We walked over the Duke’s Bridge, but when we got there and found that almost all the trees had been felled leaving the valley down to the Avon Water looking very different from the last time Scamp and I had been there. More of the Hunting Lodge was open than last time so we wandered round some of the rooms and I got some photos before we headed home.

Dinner in Milano’s was good, but the pizzas were not as brilliant as they used to be. New chef, or maybe just a weekend stand in? Only time will tell. Halfway through the meal Sim discovered that their flight had been put back 2 hours! So, would we go back home or did they just want to go to the airport? They chose to go in the hope that the flight would get away quicker.

We drove home from the airport and watched an interesting and, for once, exciting F1 GP from Singapore. I won’t say who won in case you haven’t seen it yet.

A rather full day, but an enjoyable one.

I’ve been meaning to post a weekly note on my blog to try to track down the week the swallows arrive and leave. This week I saw some swallows and this is week 38.