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Slow bus to Glasgow – 11 August 2017

It was raining when we woke. Not heavy rain, just fitful little showers, like a petulant child who doesn’t want to be ignored, but has nothing to say.

After the inevitable checking of FB and Flickr, and of course a cup of strong coffee, it was time to get the bus into Glasgow. A journey that would have taken 15 minutes in the car took almost an hour. 15 miles in an hour. It’s not difficult to work out the average speed. What was worse was that this was an almost brand new bus which, like modern cars has the engine cut out whenever the gearbox is in neutral and the wheels have stopped. That’s ok(ish) in a car, but is a total pain in the arse in a bus. I’d estimate that in an unlucky car being caught at all the traffic light and roundabouts, taking the same route, the engine would stop less than 10 times. The bus must have stopped easily 30 times and each time the engine cut out. Like I said earlier, I can almost see the point of the engine switching off in a car in the city, but the inevitable wear and tear on the engine and especially the starter motor by the constant stopping and starting must offset any fuel saving or air pollution advantages.

Visited Nero for a coffee and a chance to sketch the grey masses walking, head down, along Sausage Roll Street.  First decent sketch since we returned from the cruise.  Pleased with it.  The wee A6 sketchbook fits neatly in the pocket of my blue rainy coat, so it’s always there.  I’ve got Fred to thank for that idea.

I wanted to see the Lost Glasgow exhibition run by Glasgow City Heritage Trust
in Bell Street. It originated from a FaceBook page. Although there were some interesting photos, I couldn’t say I found it all that interesting. What I did like was the fact that the photos were mounted on foam board with a short description on the back. The photos themselves were stacked on shelves around the display space and this allowed easy access and the ability to pick them up and examine them close up. They even had magnifying glasses placed around the room to allow even more investigation of places and faces. I’d have liked to have seen more photos, always more photos. That’s what this FB page is famous for. Outside in Brunswick Street the JCBs were creating another Lost Glasgow entry by demolishing more old buildings.

Lunch in Paesano was a salad for Scamp and a pizza for me. After that, some light shopping and few foties, then the slow bus back home. My PoD was the shot of the GOMA. I felt sorry for Marlie Mul having her exhibition cancelled, then I read the full story here.

The weather started off wet in the morning, dried up in the early afternoon, rained a bit more in the late afternoon and then dried up again. Scattered showers, that kind of summed it up. Tomorrow might be a bit better according to the weather fairies.

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Paisley Pattern and Siri – 5 August 2017

We were intending to go to Salsa in Paisley on Sunday and, as we hadn’t ever driven there, we planned a recce today.

Getting there was simple, even if Google Maps on my iPhone insisted on showing the route upside down. Just off the motorway we found the restaurant that hosts the Paisley Sunday Social. There were some parking areas around it, but nothing substantial and, as the social attracts a fair number of dancers, we decided to find a bigger car park. That’s when the trouble began. Paisley, it seems, has an even more complicated one-way system than is really necessary. After travelling round and round, we eventually found the exit and after a couple of wrong turnings, got parked. I’d just pushed the button for 2 hours parking when I noticed that you only need to pay on weekdays! No problem, at least we were parked.

Paisley is like most Central Scotland towns. It’s in a state of decline with frantic attempts by the council to make it look new and vibrant. It wasn’t working. Too many ‘pound shop’ variants and charity shops in the main street. A new shopping mall with only half the shops occupied. Cumbernauld without the concrete.

We wandered round the Abbey and surroundings, but didn’t even stay long enough to have a coffee. That shows how bad it was. I found some interesting buildings that I may go back and sketch and today’s PoD is one of them. It’s a former Territorial Army drill hall, now on the steep slope to Beyond Economic Repair. It was also falling into a big bucket of Photoshop tonight and that’s where the Haunted House look came from.

When we went back to pick up the car, I thought I remembered the street it was parked in. It’s the same street I drove a box van up to JIC and Andy’s new student flat! It’s a small world, Paisley.

After negotiating most of the one-way system, I foolishly followed Apple Maps which took me the wrong way down a one-way street! Never again Apple. Google maps may be upside down, but at least they are reasonably accurate. Eventually found the road back to Glasgow and late lunch at Milano. While there, I noticed that Apple Maps was still active on my phone, despite me having switched the phone off half an hour before. I switched it off – again. Meal was good as usual in Milano and when we got home I again noticed that the phone had switched itself on and was sitting on the lock screen. I got so mad at it I long-pressed the button, summoning the useless Siri. When it appeared, I shouted at it “Switch the fuckin’ phone off”. It switched off!!!

I wasn’t expecting that. Then I noticed, just as the display disappeared that power was down to 2%. That’s why it switched off, nothing to do with stupid Siri. Just coincidence.

No plans for Sunday, apart from Paisley.

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Perf – 4 August 2017

Perf (or Perth). A great place for coffee, tea and lunch in any order you like.

Today I drove, although we could have gone on the bus or the train. I didn’t mind, it’s usually an interesting drive. Today, although it was fairly dry when we left, it rained for most of the journey. We listened to a Radio Scotland program while we travelled about a couple who have been to almost all the Edinburgh Festivals from 1947 to the present. They were German Jews who had come to Britain in the Kindertransport just prior to WW2. Really fascinating. Pity it was presented by Stephen Jardine. We outran the rain just before Perf.

Lunch was in Cafe Tabou which has restricted its menu a bit, but my Lamb Gigot was absolutely faultless. Scamp’s Sea Bream seemed to satisfy her too and left her with just enough space to have a Rhubarb Martini instead of a coffee to complete the meal. Choice a bit more restrictive, but quality not compromised.

Bought my coffee and much needed tea and then headed back to the car … in the rain, because the clouds had traced us to Perf and dumped some of the wet stuff on us.

Today’s PoD is of a strange architectural detail on the roof of a shop in Perf. It would make a very nice roof garden.

Tomorrow? Don’t know.

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I didn’t know this time existed – 13 July 2017

13 July v4It was 2.30am when the alarm sounded and the day had begun.  Up and out with nothing but half a cup of tea in me.  Drove to the airport along an almost deserted motorway.  Bus from the long stay to the airport proper.  Booked in security checked and sitting at breakfast in Frankie & Benny’s just before 5am.  Only one small problem at security when they wanted to inspect my black box of wires, connectors and assorted cables.  However the poor girl got a shock when she opened the bag and smelled my almost freshly ground coffee which was leaking from the lock ‘n’ lock tub.  That put a smile on her face.  It always does.  Flight was inconsequential but apparently the landing was a bit bumpy.  I didn’t think it was anything out of the ordinary.  Besides, we had been warned that it might be an uncomfortable approach because of gusty winds.

Transfer to the ship from the airport was organized and quick with a half hour drive along the coast to Dubrovnik.  The ship is quite small, compared with others we’ve been on, but it has all we’ll need.  I was disappointed with the cabin, but in a way, it was what I expected from the deck plan.  Ramsay (bastard) Travel assured us it was an unrestricted view.  Unrestricted if you can ignore the chest high metal barrier three metres in front of the window and the door that cuts off our view forward.  I grumped about it all afternoon yesterday and I apologise for that now, Scamp.

After the grumping session, we went for a quick lunch in the Thomson version of ‘Smash ‘n’ Grab’, we went for a short walk into town.  We decided that we didn’t have time to go as far as the Old Town today and that when we return in a week’s time we’ll be sensible and get a taxi DV.  Walked for about an hour and then dropped into a bar for a beer.  Scamp must have been thirsty because she polished off a full pint of lager.  Cost us 50 Kuna which is about £6.50 so not bad at all.  I think we both needed a drink because the sun was shining from a clear blue sky and the temperature was 30 degrees  Walked back to the ship and found the wee market on the quayside where Scamp got a dress two years ago.

IMG_4092-2When we got back I began today’s SoD which is of an impressive road bridge across a wide estuary just outside the port.  It was a second attempt, but it turned out looking like the bridge.  I was satisfied.  More strange looks for a bit of Urban Sketching!

After the sketch was completed, it was time for the lifeboat drill.  It was the usual pantomime, but the most realistic we’ve been to with names and room numbers being checked off.  Our staff member was quite strict and officious pushing and prodding us until we were all in exactly the proscribed positions.

The drill passed and everyone walking around like Lego Men, it was time to put the lifejackets away and get ready for dinner.  Dinner was not as good as some we’ve had, and for the first time on a cruise we had to pay for a steak.  I didn’t.  Company at the table was ok, but one woman was amazed that I didn’t like Elvis! 

Went to the show which was ‘Motown’.  It was ok, but a bit too long.  Then it was a walk along the deck to see the sail away.  Strange having a sail away in the dark.  Went to watch the ‘Sailaway Party’ which seemed to be a lot of embarrassing ‘dad dancing’ before we went to bed. 

Day at sea tomorrow.  Time to relax.

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2B or not 2B – 11 July 2017

The 2B in question was a packet of 2B leads in Ryman. They wanted nearly £4 for them. I think not 2B.

Went to get some stuff, important stuff, like 2B leads for one thing and a pencil extender (which makes short stubby pencil ends usable again) for another. Scamp went for non-esssentials like a hat to keep the sun off and a scarf to do the same. Y’see, the sun was out today and it had its hat on, so Scamp needed one too.

Went to get a drawing done too, because July has been deemed an odd month. Sketches must be done on odd days. Today was the 11th and I had to do a bit of catch-up and find one for Sunday the 9th. Got the 11th done. Did it in pencil for a change. The “Well, that’s odd!” challenge doesn’t demand that sketches are done in ink, hence the desire for 2B leads and a pencil extender. Pens are not the only drawing tools. Today’s PoD was taken nearby in Springfield Court. I liked the textures and shapes on the wall.

Watched one of the worst singers, but best performers entertaining the punters outside M&S in Argyle St. He was singing Motown covers and doing it really badly, but he used up meters of mike cable covering the whole street. I’ve seen him before and his singing hasn’t improved since then. His act has. He made a nice change from the Bowie – Bolan bloke who neither looks nor sounds like either of them. I’m sure I heard him sing a Bowie song in his fake Bolan voice one day. It was a sort of crossover cover.

Cup of coffee in Nero and then it was time to head for home.

Earlier in the day we had been planting stuff in the garden in an attempt at tidying up the number of plant pots we have. I planted up a wee mystery plant that I’ve been growing from seed since last year. I don’t have a clue what it is. Originally there were three seedlings, but only two made it through the winter. One of the remainder seems to be thriving and one is struggling. I’ve planted up the stronger of the two because it has the best chance of survival. If it perks up, I’ll pot up its sickly friend.

Had a bit of a problem with the Linx 1010 tonight. It seems to lose its charge overnight. Can’t understand why, but I’m beginning to suspect it may have done a sneaky upgrade overnight last week with this new Creators Update that seems to be an automatic update. Must check tomorrow.

Tomorrow looks like an even better version of today’s weather. By the way, I finally got the 2B leads in Cass Art for £1.60!

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A day in the toon by myself – 10 July 2017

Spoke to Hazy in the morning, then went into Glasgow for a wander. Danced in the evening. That’s the synopsis.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and discussed books among other things. That’s probably what sent me in to Glasgow. Scamp had other things to do today, but offered me a run to the station, probably to make sure I went. I had a walk around Glasgow and, yes, I did spend a fair amount of time in Waterstones. Finally got a book, a physical book to read. (FYI Hazy, it’s Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay)

Today’s PoD is of the reflections of clouds on the new 110 Queen Street building. It was either that or reflections of

Allegedly, the CityTree is a highly visual structure which, at 4 meters tall, nearly 3 meters wide and 2 meters deep, is said to have the environmental benefit of up to 275 urban trees.  This one was dumped planted outside the GOMA.

old sandstone buildings in the same glass building. You’ll need to visit Flickr to see that one. I’d half intended doing a sketch while I was in, but the rain came on and I didn’t manage it. I know I’m a sketch down after my lapse yesterday, but I’ll try to make it up tomorrow.

On the way home in the train, I glanced out the window while the train was going quite slowly and saw three fox cubs playing together in the grass of a cutting. They stopped to stare at the train as I stared back. So strange to see three cubs together in a little splash of sun after the rain.

While I made the dinner, Scamp picked blackcurrants from the bush in the garden. We’d noticed the birds taking an unhealthy interest in the blackcurrants recently and we were both determined to got our share of them picked and frozen. She managed to pick 1lb of berries. Less than it has been, but then the bush is getting quite old now. Scamp is very fair with her harvest. She never cleans out the busy, but always leaves some for the birds to have.

Salsa class was good tonight and although it wasn’t all that warm outside, it was hot inside and it was a joy to dance near the fan. Our new moves in Advanced class were:

  • Besso por Abaho
  • Agamemnon
  • Vueltas
  • Estrella

No real plans for tomorrow, but hopefully the weather will be better than today, because the rain was torrential on the way home from salsa class.

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Return of the Human – 5 July 2017

Up and out by 10.30 to return the Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor to the hospital and say a fond goodbye (and good riddance).

I know that, despite what my Fitbit says, I didn’t get much sleep last night with the bloody thing beeping every hour and then pumping the cuff up to measure Scamp’s BP. I dread to think how many minutes sleep Scamp got. Anyway, took it back today and noted what the media would call ’a high profile police presence’ across the road from the hospital. Checked on the BBC site, but couldn’t see anything to warrant it. Could it be something to do with a suspected shoplifting in Aldi yesterday? Might be.

Left Airdrie and went to Stirling to pick up our holiday tickets from the dazed and confused Ramsay Travel. They really are almost comic in their slapdash approach to this holiday booking. I think we’ll go to a real travel agent next year DV.
While we were in Stirling we went to The Fat Cyclist cafe and had a light lunch Toast and Scrambled Eggs for Scamp and Roll ’n’ Sausage for me. Service was slow, but the food and the coffee were good. We’ll be back.
Also while there, I got a new(ish) sporran for my Lord of the Isles national dress set. This one looks like a real dress sporran and was a bargain as an ex-hire.
Finally, I got a sketch done of the entrance to the Atheneum in Stirling, while Scamp was almost being successful in purchasing a pair of sandals.

When we got home I went for a walk to St Mo’s to get today’s PoD. It’s a close-up of a wild orchid. They are all over the place just now and look almost like little hyacinths. The photo was taken on the Oly 10 with the 20mm prime and a 10mm extension tube, allowing me to get really close. The quality of results from that lens is superb.

Salsa tonight was covered by Cameron. He was losing his temper a bit in the middle of the class and showboating a bit too much I thought, but he’s young and you have to cut him some slack sometimes. Much, much better than the other alternative – Colin!

Dentist in the morning tomorrow to repair the damage to cap I pinged off about three weeks ago.

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Recovering from an overdose of salsa – 3 July 2017

Today was always going to be a recovery day. Dancing at the Sunday Social, then dancing at the 40th wedding anniversary celebration for Johnny and Andrea. Late drive home then crashing to get the blog done before the witching hour. I don’t suppose the wee dram helped either.

Anyway, a new day. Did a bit more gardening, but not as much as Scamp. After lunch I went for a walk to lose the black monkey that was on my shoulder all day. Went down the Luggie for a change and got the photo of the dog rose and the sketch of the railway bridge. Came home, without the monkey, had dinner and went to more salsa. That’s the day in a nutshell.

There’s not much more to say other than I hadn’t intended doing a sketch every day in July, it was just a lovely warm sunny then dull day and I love the textures of the old railway bridge. I expect some day they will have to repair or replace it, but until then I’ll admire its rusty overgrown features and photograph it or sketch it when it appeals to me.

I helped out at Cameron’s enormous beginners salsa class. He really needs the help. He’s getting better as a teacher, but really needs to “speak more clearly and distinctly” to quote Scamp. He also needs to stop referring to everyone as ‘guys’. That’s ok when you’re talking to a bunch of guys, but calling everyone ‘guys’ can be confusing for beginners to know when he’s talking to leaders and when he’s talking to followers. Maybe he will improve, or maybe as someone once said at school “He’s plateaued.” IE. ‘reached a state of little or no change after a period of activity or progress’. Only time will tell, but I, as a seasoned dancer, found today’s class confusing, so what did the beginners think.  One big bonus tonight was that Scamp drove us in and back from class.  It was so relaxing being driven, but I don’t think Scamp found it that way.  I think I may be driving on Wednesday DV.

Tomorrow we’re out fairly early. Don’t know what we will be doing after that.

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Curry – 1 July 2017

It was one of those mornings when you just can’t be bothered to get up. I lay for an extra half an hour, not sleeping, not even snoozing, just lying there with my eyes closed. Delightful. Then the day began.

It was sunny and warm (15º) when we woke. Not at all what we’d expected from the weather fairies. It’ll never last, we said. It did. Eventually at about midday we ventured on Scamp’s suggestion that we go for lunch at a nice wee curry restaurant in Kirkintilloch. We’d passed it during the week and I’d mentioned that we hadn’t been there for ages. I’d forgotten all about that, but Scamp hadn’t. So that was it. Got there and the place was empty! Open, but empty! Oh dear, maybe the good people of Kirky have weighed it and found it wanting. Pakora starters were hot, but a little bit dry for my liking. Then the mains came and the nan bread looked like nan should. Big, well fired and slathered in ghee. As well as the mains, the customers came too. Then we twigged. Buffet started at 1pm and that was what folk were waiting for. I wish I’d had a look at the buffet offering when I left, because there looked to be a good selection. Scamp doesn’t like buffets and I know I tend to just gorge on them, so perhaps they are best avoided. The mains were spicy hot and physically hot too. They tasted freshly cooked, but maybe lacked a little bit in taste. Foodies! What can you do to impress them?

Scamp wanted to do some shopping in Kirky. Not ’Messages’, but ’Shopping’. There is a difference. I wandered round Kirky counting the number of charity shops and ‘pound shops’ and deciding it was on a downward slope.

After leaving Kirky, we drove to Robroyston for a coffee and some messages. Then it was home before the rain came. Today’s PoD actually came from Robroyston originally, before it was dunked in a bucket of Photoshop. I think it improved it.  If you want to see the original, it’s here.

Got fed up and wanted to get some more photos, so I took a bag of stale bread and went to feed the ducks in St Mo’s. Got some photos of the pond and faked them to look as if the sun was shining using Lightroom. Went to Condorrat on the way home to get some sweeties and found my sketch subject for the day, Condorrat Library. Lovely wee building that always made me think of Fort Apace The Bronx with its high windows and narrow door opening. The iron grating just enhances that feeling. Still it has some trees round it and even a couple of hanging baskets.

That was it for today. As I was heading home the first drops of rain were falling. The weather fairies are rarely wrong!

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Off The Leash – 30 June 2017

Scamp was meeting the other witches for lunch. I was off the leash for the day.

We drove in to Glasgow together as I was heading there anyway, then we went our own way, except that when I was leaving John Lewis after perusing the ‘bargains’, who should I bump into but Scamp. We agreed to go our separate ways again. Later when I was going in to the art shot, there she was again, but this time she had the other three witches with her. Luckily she directed them into a bar for cocktails, so I was saved the ignominy of having to hide from four women. Thank you again Scamp.

I bought myself two sketchbooks in Cass Art. I don’t like shopping there, but they are the cheapest in town. The next thing to do was get some photos and a sketch. The first would be easier than the last. It usually is. I got the photo in Buchanan Street it was just an empty alley. I think it’s the emptiness and the perspective I like about these alley shots. The sketch was next and that was done at the entrance to Exchange Square, or Royal Exchange Square to give it its proper name. That’s June Ink or J’ Ink over for another year. Bring on the July challenge whatever it is.

Drove home and had lunch, then went out for a walk along the railway, hoping to get some more pictures. Unfortunately, the light was pretty low and I didn’t get much. Took about fifteen shots of a hoverfly and none of them were sharp. Ten of a ladybird and none of them were sharp. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many shots you take or what equipment you have, it just doesn’t work out for you. You just have to accept it and move on. Tomorrow will be better.

Tomorrow may be better, but it WILL be raining again.  The weather fairies predicted it.