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Down the Green – 25 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Derelict Decadence – 17 June 2017

We drove in to Glasgow today. Me to see a photographic exhibition and Scamp to see a quilting exhibition. Both were interesting as it turned out, but mainly to the parties who attended.  The photo exhibition was by Alfonso Ramundo seen above with his partner.  The photographs were all monochrome and of dilapidated buildings, mainly in and around Glasgow, but also some from Czech Republic.  I spent a good half hour talking to the two artists and felt that they were both genuinely interested in their photography.  Very good show.  If you get a chance to see it anywhere, go.

Afterwards we went for lunch to Usha the tapas style Indian restaurant at the bottom of Byres road. Lunch was just as good as usual Patia Gosht an Achari Chicken for me and simply Saag Paneer for Scamp. Nan bread was cool but not cold as usual too. Still, the main food was good and hot so we shouldn’t and didn’t complain.

On the way back Scamp needed a single ticket on the underground as she’d used up her return and we waited a full five minutes behind a girl who seemed to be buying weekly tickets INDIVIDUALLY for her entire university class. Why she couldn’t just have bought them all with the one card swipe I’ll never know. She was english, so she probably didn’t know any better.

Came home and came over all exhausted. Must be the heat today, so went for a snooze.

Scamp is out at a concert which Nancy told her was in the Concert Hall, but turned out to be in the City Halls. Nowhere near each other. Must stop now because I need to get the train into Glasgow.

Didn’t have time to finish off the blog last night.  Didn’t get in until after midnight because of a 15 minute wait in Glasgow while they found a conductor for the train.  Delays like this give more weight to the company’s plans to have driver-only trains.

While I was walking back from the photograph exhibition to meet Scamp, I stopped to sketch this building.  Here’s what I wrote about it on Flickr:

Entrance to the Robertson Bio Incubator building (Glasgow Uni). Come on people, there must be a better name for this architectural masterpiece.

Today – because it is now Sunday morning – is warm and overcast.  It’s going to be a hot one I think, but not as hot as Hazy is predicting down England way!

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The Fitness Regime continues – 13 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Summer in Scotland – 12 June 2017

Monday is Gems day. I usually get out, but it didn’t look like it today. It was dull again with rain and wind. That’s what you call Summer in Scotland.

I’d decided that today would be Boxer Shorts Day and I have finished the hard work. In fact, all the work is finished, it’s just the little bits of cleaning up than need to be done. I’ve still to give them a final press with the iron and then they will be ready for play testing. It was a bit of a challenge, Hazy, but an interesting one. I’d never have attempted it without your push. Thank you. Hopefully I’ll have pictures tomorrow.

Once that was done and lunch was over, Gems were gathering and I put my headphones on and painted for a while before biting the bullet and heading for Argos to buy a WiFi extender. Setup was simple and once the extender was paired with the modem, it worked out of the box. Now I have a decent WiFi signal in the back bedroom.

Looking forward to Salsa with Jamie tonight, but it was not to be. He had called off at the last minute because of a funeral. Some things you just can’t plan for. So it was Cameron who took both the beginners and the advanced class and he was really, really good. I was impressed.

Today’s PoD was taken from the top of phase 4 of the town centre, looking across to what I suppose must be phase 3 although it never gets called that. Its official title seems to be ‘that dump’ or ‘where the post office used to be’. It really shines in this light, doesn’t it?

Couldn’t settle on a sketch and finally decided to immortalise the two strawberries that were living on the top shelf of the fridge.  I really should have sketched them insitu, but that would have meant leaving the fridge door open for too long.

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Sew, Sew Good – 31 May 2017

Today we woke to sunshine and it lasted all day, although rain is forecast just before midnight.  I’m hoping to be in bed by then, though, because I’ve been going to bed in the wee small hours for the past few days.

I had an appointment at John Lewis this afternoon for a guided tour round my sewing machine, not actually mine, by the same model.  The lesson took just under 45 minutes and I did learn a lot, like when and why you use stretch stitches, how to make button holes and how to clear that annoying birds nest I always get when I finish a row.  Simply.  Glad I signed up for it.

Before the lesson we had tea and a sandwich in the cafe at JL.  Such a lovely view up Sausage Roll Street from the JL building.  As Scamp said, you don’t appreciate the architecture from street level.

Walked down Bucky Street along Argyll Street and back up Queen Street and that’s where I saw my PoD.  Like I said in the Flickr description: “Saw the photo and knew the title before I took it.”  The man in the High Castle.  It was taken with the Teazer and I’m very pleased with it.

Back home for dinner, then we were out again to Salsa.  Great fun in the beginners’ class watching their faces when Jamie G showed them tonight’s surprise move (Sombrero) and told them they had just over 3 minutes to perfect it before they would dance it, but dance it they did and very well too.  There’s a time to be cautious and a time for just going for it and tonight they threw caution to the winds.  Great class, great fun.  Advanced class did Tornado which is Scamp’s favourite move of all time.  It was great to go over it again slowly and get the timing just right.  Sometimes I just bomb through it and it becomes a bit clumsy.  It was nice to see it with all its hard edges, clean and tidy.

Tomorrow?  Looks like rain.  Don’t know what we’re doing.

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Dancing on the ceiling–28 April 2017

M4284604_thumb[2]Today we walked to the station and with ND’s help, took the train from Chessington to Greenwich.  From there, we just followed our collective nose until we found a Costa for a seat, a coffee, something to eat and a chance to regroup to decide where we should go.  Initially we had intended going to find the ‘Meridian’, but after finding we were near the Cutty Sark, we chose instead to go and see it. 

The last time we had been to Greenwich we hadn’t seen the Naval College properly because they were filming something in it.  This time we did get to see it.  We were intrigued by the possibility of seeing the ceiling of the college which apparently was very interesting.  When we got to the Naval College we found the place completely covered from floor to ceiling in scaffolding.  Oh, oh it looked like we weren’t going to see that remarkable ceiling with its artwork.  However, on checking with one of the guides, we discovered that you could get to see the ceiling, not only that, but you could see it from close range, almost close enough to touch, except you weren’t allowed to touch.  We both quickly agreed that we’d risk the ascent of the scaffolding with a guide of course and go see that ceiling.  First we were kitted out with a tabard (ours was the green group) and a hard hat to match.  Remarkably, this is the first time I’ve worn a hard hat since I was an apprentice draughtsman way back in the mid ‘60s.  We then had a talk about the hidden meanings in the enormous mural in the far wall before we made the climb.

The mural was impressive, but nowhere near as impressive as the painting covering the entire ceiling of the hall.  As promised, it was close enough to touch at a stretch.  I didn’t stretch.  Again, the hidden meanings of the painting were revealed as we walked along the ‘floor’.  To prevent damage to the artworks, the lighting was quite low and of course we weren’t allowed to use flash, not that I would.  We could have opted for radio headphones, but I’m glad we didn’t because our guide was so knowledgeable and able to answer questions, something you don’t get with a recording.  All in all, a brilliant afternoon and one I’d recommend to anyone visiting London.

By the time we came out, it was time to head for home, but not before we had a spot of lunch in the market.  I had pakora and channa daal.  Scamp headed for the slightly sweeter churros stall.  A bit out of character, but still food and from an independent retailer, and that’s how we work.

Got the train back to Chessington and walked back to the house, although we did stop for a beer and a G&T at the pub, because it was there!

Neil was out tonight, Scamp, Hazy and I sat and watched a film while eating pizza.  What else do you expect on a Friday night.

Tomorrow, ND is taking us to a market, I think.

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One Swallow – 24 April 2017

I started early this morning, going to the library then taking a walk down the Luggie.

Today’s PoD was taken on the walk to the library.  It proves that the sun can make even the ugliest building look good, not great, just good.  Let’s not get carried away here. It’s still a pretty ugly piece of concrete.

Didn’t get much along the Luggie, mainly because it was just too cold.

After lunch I went for a walk along the canal from Auchinstarry and got caught in a hailstorm blowing down from the north.  Not many photos there either.  However, despite the biting wind and the driving hail, I saw two swallows.  Now, as we all know, one swallow doesn’t make a summer, but do two swallows make a decent spring?  I think that maybe they do.  On the way back along the railway path I saw about a dozen of the birds flying low over a pond.  Low flying swallows means poor weather coming, but at least they are here, just a day later than last year.

Scamp wanted to get in two salsa classes tonight and I was happy to comply.  By the end of the two hours I was dead beat, but according to my Fitbit, I’ve taken just over 19,000 steps today.  That must be a record.

This is a short blog entry because I’m trying desperately to get to bed the same day I woke up.  I might even achieve it.

Tomorrow?  Haircut probably.  It’s getting like a ‘pure afro.’

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“I don’t get hangovers yet” – 23 April 2017

This morning we went for a walk round the Barras.

I was going looking for a cheap Bluetooth 4.0 dongle – it’s a bit of computer hardware, in case you don’t know.  There used to be a multitude of wee computer shops selling legitimate and highly illegal hardware and software down the Barras.  Most Barras stuff was knocked off, one way or another and everybody knew that and accepted the risk that what you were buying was either unlikely to work once you got it home or a man in a black suit wearing a cap with a black and white chequered pattern would relieve you of it as soon as you stepped away from the stall.  No guarantees, no money back, but glorious bargains to be had.  Not today and by the looks of things not ever again.  The Barras was dead.  All the wee shops and some of the bigger ones were closed and firmly shuttered.  Worst of all, there was almost nobody about..  It looks like the end of an era, and also the end of my search for a cheap Bluetooth dongle.

We walked down to Glasgow Green and strolled through the trees just springing into leaf, about a month behind the ones we walked in last week in Astwick.  That’s what happens, they get the weather, we get the scenery.  It’s a fair exchange and I like the way it’s weighted.  We were just heading for the People’s Palace for my usual Sunday roll ’n’ sausage and Scamp’s tea ’n’ toast when three girls passed us and the following snippet of their conversation floated towards me  “… I don’t get hangovers yet. I suppose I will later …”.  I felt like telling her she had to be actually drinking alcohol first.  Merely talking about it won’t have the desired effect, nor will drinking lemonade or coke.  I almost shouted “Try Buckfast.  That should work.”  She was english, which explains everything.  Just one step away from being american.  (Yes, lower case ‘e’ and lower case ‘a’.)

Today’s sketch was from the Wintergarden of the People’s Palace.  Simpler and more accurate than previous ones IMO, maybe because I was sitting down enjoying my R ’n’ S while I completed it.  The trees were Celtic trees.  Green, White, Green, White, Green.  Must have been planted by a Sellic supporter!  But then, you don’t get many trees with Blue or Red leaves do you?  The mono shot of the old shop with the ‘ghost signs’ was not from the Barras, but from quite near there.

Back home to do a bit of joinery, completing the duckboard for the plants to stand on.  Actually enjoyed it and it looked reasonable when it was finished.  It could maybe do with a lick of paint or stain to finish it off, but the biggest part of the work is done now.  Helped Scamp with a bit of gentle gardening after that, but nothing creative, just labouring really.

Made some bread 50/50 white flour and dark wholegrain flour from Prince Chic’s own farm.  I imagine he planted it himself and then carefully tended it, talking to it daily before harvesting it with a scythe he’d sharpened himself then grinding it carefully in an authentic and architecturally sound windmill.  Lastly he’d transport the flour by horse and cart to Waitrose where we bought it.  He’s that kind of a guy.  The bread was good, thanks Chic.

Tomorrow is Monday so it’s Gems day.  I’ll be making a hasty exit.

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Around and about – 15 April 2017

Today we started out being driven to Hitchen for lunch and a walk around the shops.  It seemed like a plan as the sun was out and it was fairly warm.

It seems a pleasant wee town with a busy market in the centre.  Had lunch in a Greek restaurant.  I had lamb casserole as my main after a starter of Borek which is filo pastry filled with Greek feta cheese & spinach.  Afterwards we went for a walk around the main part of the town where a Sikh group were giving out free food and cans of juice to anyone who wanted it, free of charge as part of their Vaisakhi festival.  We had just had lunch, but there were big queues at the stall, happy to make the most of the food on offer.  It appears that there is such a thing as a free lunch!

It being Easter, there were a few others stalls dotted around, a town crier shouting the odds and even a couple of Imperial Stormtroopers searching for those droids, I presume.  We were looking for Just Desserts, a dessert restaurant, but it when we found it, it was closed, not just for Easter, but for good.   It had had its just desserts.  Instead of a dessert, we settled for a posh, artisan coffee shop.  Coffee was lovely, if  a bit sharp and there were loads of cakes on display.  JIC and I had Yoghurt and Cranberry slice.  Best laugh of the day was when I went to the toilet and found the toilet brush was stuck in a Starbucks mug!  Someone with a sense of humour and an opinion of Starbucks much like my own.

Back in the town the Vaisakhi procession was in full swing with drummers and marchers who were preceded by two men spraying water on the road in front of the markers, presumably to ritually clean it for them.  It was all quite a jolly and colourful affair in the sunshine.  However, our parking time was nearly up, so we made our way past and old church back to the car with a few minutes to spare.

Went out later to see the new Mill House and it’s quite a revelation although there is still a fair bit of scaffolding enclosing it.  Sketched it, but I’m not impressed with the sketch.  May redo it later.

Dinner should have been in the Benington Bell which is a traditional British pub serving traditional Trinidad food!  I had Aloo Pies to start with, but everybody else had Salt Fish and Tomato.  Main for me was Lamb Curry for me and for everyone else was Chicken Curry.  I just like to be different.  Unfortuntely, Sim wasn’t feeling too good, so we just ate and left. (Since I’m writing this on Sunday, I can tell you that she was fine after a night’s sleep.) The food was really, and I mean really excellent.  Thank you JIC and Sim for that.

When we got home, Sim went for a snooze while we watched Black Mirror on Netflix.  Interesting programme.  Must search for it when we get back home.

Tomorrow (or to be truthful, today 😉 we’re hoping to visit a garden centre.)

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To the Manor Born – 14 April 2017

Actually Wimpole is an estate, not a manor, but ’estate’ didn’t make such a good title I thought.

JIC drove us all there in the morning, and this being Good Friday, there were already hundreds, if not thousands of people there.  Most seemed to have brought their 2.5 children with then.  I did hope there were an even number of families, otherwise it might become messy with that poor 0.5 of a child wandering around.  Got parked and Sim set off in search of the ticket office and managed, somehow, to get to the front of the queue.  Tickets purchased we went in search of the formal gardens.  Most of the other families with their 2.5 children in tow were taking part in the ’Easter’ Egg Hunt which had been cunningly renamed to Cadbury’s Egg Hunt so as not to offend any non-Christians while they searched for eggs.  I thought it was a petty and childish piece of semantics and, as my mum used to say, “That’s how wars start.”

It being early spring, there weren’t a great variety of different flowers in bloom, but the colours of the daffodils and tulips made up for that.  You can see a couple of shots of them above.  As well as flowering plants, there were also veg and fruit plots and it was good to see that many of the plants had been labelled.  I learned on our visit to Kew a few years ago to photograph the label as well as the plant.

The estate farm was quite interesting, but there were too many weans squealing around the place, so I was quite glad when we left.  Even more squealing and grunting was coming from the enormous pigs in the piggery.  It’s not until you see these providers of our bacon that you realise just how big they are. Just as we were leaving the farm, which thankfully is a real farm and not just a petting zoo, an old plane flew over, a biplane.  I thought it was a Tiger Moth, and when I got home and checked the reg, I found I was right for once.  So strange looking at it through the EVF (Electronic View Finder) because it looked as if the propellor was stationary.  Must be due to the refresh rate of the EVF.

I took some photos of the Wimpole Hall itself. It was very grand and enormous.  Such a terrible waste of accommodation.  How the other half live.  Even more astounding was the view down the tree lined avenue which appears to be about a mile and a half long.  Another demonstration of one family’s wealth.

Having said all that, it was a great day out.  A bit cold, especially when you weren’t sheltered from the wind.

Back home, Sim made Trinni Stewed Chicken while Scamp watched and made mental notes.  Chicken was lovely.  Much better than anything we saw the contestants making on Masterchef later.  However I did have a nice bottle of IPA to take the edge off the bald bloke’s “Oh Mate!” exclamations.

Vixen still doesn’t seem to take too kindly to male bearded strangers, especially if they are standing.  Maybe tomorrow.

Tomorrow we may be going to Hitchin for a walk round the shops in a quiet wee town.