A day in the toon in the sunshine – 12 July 2019

Today we’d decided to travel in to Glasgow on the bus and go to the Transport Museum on Riverside.

Got off the subway at Partick and walked along past the reconstruction that was going on by the Clyde until we came to the strange building that, from the air looks as if it’s been squeezed out of a toothpaste tube.  It looked very impressive with its glass frontage.  In the middle of July, it’s the middle of the Glasgow Beach.  Loads of weans building sand castles with pails and spaded on an area at the front of the building done up to look like a beach with tons of sand.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time, but we were itching to get in to see this wonderful new 21st century museum.

What a let down.  Yes, there were steam engines and tram cars, loads of tram cars and trolley buses too, but most of them were sealed off from the public by large perspex sheets.  This was a “Look, but don’t touch museum”.  One of the biggest selling points of the place, the revoloutionary Wall of Cars was the worst let-down.  Yes, there were a load of cars on shelves along a wall, like full size Dinky or Matchbox toys, but the problem was you couldn’t see into them.  They were too high up or too far away to see any of the detail.  The same was true for the Wall of Motorbikes.  Yes, they were there, but you could only see about two of the five layers of them. The rest were way up too high and you’d get a crick in your neck trying to see the details.  The bikes, especially seemed to be in a bit of a state.  Torn saddles and seats, suspensions not bolted to the frames.  It looked as if they’d just been placed there without any thought of restoration.  Worst of all were the cycles.  There they were, either sitting on or hanging upside down from a great circular wheel, hanging from the ceiling.  No description of what they were or why they were there.  Strangest exhibit was a Sinclair Cambridge Programmable Calculator.  I had one of those, away back in the 1980s.  At the time it was truly state of the art.  I bought it fully built and tested, but it was possible to buy it as a PCB with the components and build it yourself.  A friend of mine bought a Sinclair radio kit which was supposed to fit into a matchbox.  He got it built, but by the time he was finished it barely fitted into a suitcase.  But back to the Calculator.  Interesting though it was, what had it to do with Transport?

The building itself is striking, but there is a design theory that “Form Follow Function”.  In the case of this museum it’s more like “Function Follows Form”.  You get the feeling that they designed and built the building, then just stuffed everything they had into it.  Not impressed and wouldn’t go back.  Typical Council waste of money.

What I did get there was today’s PoD.  Probably the best, certainly the most detailed Oor Wullie I’ve seen so far.  You can get a better view on Flickr because by some miracle it managed to get into the site.  I personally think Flickr is now dead.  Today after half an hour of attempting to install the three images I’d uploaded, I got  the message that they had failed to upload.  Only to find out later that they had actually loaded successfully.  Since May, the site has been almost unusable.  Literally hundreds of complaints on the “official” help page and nothing being done about it.  I refuse to throw more money at such a failed excuse of a photo site.

Anyway, back home we got an hour in the sun in the back garden before I phoned Golden Bowl and uplifted a collection of Chicken Chop Suey & Fried Rice for Scamp and Special Chow Mein for me.  A good way to end a day in  the sun.

Tomorrow, strangely enough, we may go back to Partick again to go to a Farmers Market.

Crossing Paths – 11 July 2019

Today I was going for coffee with Fred and Val at 12.30. Colin was otherwise engaged.  Scamp was going for coffee with Annette at 1.30.  Inevitably our paths would cross.

Since we were both going to the same place at about the same time I offered Scamp a lift because her Wee Red Car needed two new back tyres.  That was also on the list of Things To Do today.  While she went off to window shop, I went to meet the boys.  As usual we had a wide ranging, free and frank discussion of topical matters.  That and a book exchange.  Found out from Val that John Walsh had died and his funeral had been yesterday.  Such a funny guy, John.  He gave me a lot of pointers when I was trying to be an author, away back in the late ’80s.  I never did sell anything, but it was good fun trying.

We were just getting ready to leave when Scamp and Annette arrived, so that put, as they say, ‘The tin lid on things’.  We left them to their toasted teacakes.  Val and Fred headed for home via Tesco and I went straight home to get Scamp’s car and drive down to the Village where I was lucky enough to arrive at a quiet time and got to be next in  the queue.  Took my camera away with me and went for a walk around Cumbernauld Old Church.  I really like this building and it has a very interesting history.  Just search for Cumbernauld Old Church on Google and be amazed at the history right on our doorstep.  I took some photos, but even the 14mm lens wasn’t wide enough to get it all in, so I had to resort to the tried and tested method of taking a bundle of shots and reassembling them in Lightroom.  Wandered back and found the mechanic just tightening up the wheel nuts on the Wee Red Car.  Parted with the £80 for the two tyres and was on my way after about 40 minutes from arriving.  Drove home and was walking down to  the house when Scamp appeared from round the corner.  “Inevitably our paths would cross”!

Switched cars and took the Red Juke out for a run up to Fannyside to look for dragonflies.  Didn’t find any, but it’s early days yet.  I just thought that the warm, clammy weather would have brought out the insects a bit earlier than normal, but that wasn’t the case.  Took a few landscape shots, but really wanted to do a time lapse of the passing clouds with the new camera.  I simply couldn’t find the setting.  I knew it was in the five menus and the eleven sub-menus.  Eventually drove to Tesco to buy today’s dinner which was Breaded Salmon on a Bed of Mash & Peas.  There was a fair bit of garlic in it too.  I hadn’t realised quite how much until Scamp opened the kitchen door a few minutes ago and the anti-vampire scent wafted through.  I’ll be amazed if you can’t actually smell the garlic from this blog post.  The dinner was really good by the way, although one of the ingredients looked a bit strange “A slice of crusty bread with the crust removed”.  Now, excuse my ignorance, but isn’t that just a slice of bread?

After dinner I fed the six frames of Cumbernauld Old Church into Lightroom and it made an almost perfect panoramic shot of the building and that became PoD.  I also found the setting for the time lapse.  Just in case you ever need it, it’s in menu 1, the last item on the list.

Tomorrow we may go visit the Riverside Museum in Glasgow.  Travelling on the bus.

 

Aberystwyth without the rain – 12 June 2019

It was a very different place.

JIC, Sim and Sophie were going for a long walk today. We didn’t fancy that. There had been a change of plan and we were making tomorrow’s dinner as well as Friday’s, so we needed some extra supplies. I suggested that we take Madeleine and Jaime in to Aberystwyth with us and go for a walk in what we hoped would be the dry, if not the actual sun, and that’s what we did.

The trio left and entrusted us with the main door key. Soon after that we too left. Aberystwyth was dry when we arrived after meeting a milk tanker on a narrow road with very few passing places. Luckily we met at one of those places or it would have been Juke Soup! These narrow country lanes are not meant for wide cars like the Juke and even less for hulking great milk lorries, but we both came through unscathed. We parked at the exact same place as yesterday and walked along towards the castle.

After investigating the ruins, we wandered past the University and in to town proper. Coffee in Nero, just like yesterday and then walked back along the prom past the statue of the Mary Poppins lady and back to the car. Next stop Morrisons to get the extra food needed for tomorrow’s dinner, then home.

After unloading the car I was deciding whether or not to go for a walk when I got in conversation with the man who owned the house and most of the land on that side of the road and he told me how the house was renovated. I’d thought the beams that held up the ceilings (and provided Jaime and me with so many lumps on our head when we forgot to Duck not Grouse) were Greenheart, but he said they were more likely to be Oak and had come from the masts of ships which had been decommissioned in the 1700s. He’d heard about Cumbersheugh, but had never been there. I told him that’s what I’d have recommended. Interesting talking to someone who has a totally different lifestyle to mine.

Not long after that, the rain started and we went our different ways. Then the trio returned with Vixen ‘covered in ticks’. Poor dog, I know how he feels.

Then it was time for the Trinny Trio to start making dinner which was Stew Chicken and Macaroni Pie. Immediately I smelled it, I remembered eating it in Trinidad. It tasted just as good as it smelled.

Apparently tomorrow morning is to be wet, but the afternoon will be better. We may be going for a walk somewhere not strenuous and without ticks. Good luck with that.

No more sweeties

NHS, they take away your pleasures, one at a time.

Went to the docs to get the result of my blood test in my annual checkup. Everything was fine except my diabetic sugar result which was a bit high. I know it was my own fault for pandering to my sweet tooth, but now I’m paying the price. No more sweeties for the foreseeable future 🙁

After I had been given a gentle reminder by the nurse to keep a firm rein on my sugar and fat intake, I went home to find that Scamp had bought a ready-made curry for tonight’s dinner. One more curry won’t do any harm I told her. There was no way I was asking her to take it back! It was lovely, by the way.

I sat in the garden for a while and attempted today’s sketch which was “The house you are living in”. I prefer the back of the house to the front. There’s more privacy at the back and that’s where the most interesting and older plants are. That’s why I sat under the rowan tree and sketched it from there. I used a sort of wide angle exaggerated perspective. I was happy enough with the result and then went out for a walk along the Luggie Water.

Took a longer walk than normal. Right from the waterfall all the way along almost to Condorrat. Got a few landscapes and lots of flower pics. No beasties today though. PoD went to the three poppies – Red against Green. Strongest colour contrast in the box.

Tonight I redrew the house and gave it a few washes of watercolour, but I’m not happy with the result. Too twee and too full of fine details. Tomorrow it’s a knife or a sword. I have plenty of knives to sketch, but I’ll have to go down to Millcroft to get a sword!

Dancing tomorrow, hopefully and sketching a knife.

Escher, Dancing and Good Light – 5 May 2019

Today’s challenge was “Your Favourite Artist”.

Where do you start? Who do you choose? Vincent Van Gogh would be a good place to start, then there would be Constable, Turner, Seurat, Durer. Closer to home there’s Peploe, or any of the Scottish Colourists. Plus of course The Glasgow Boys and Glasgow Girls. It could of course be a musician or a singer or anyone from any of the arts. I finally settled on MC Escher. Mainly because I like the range of his work, not just the Impossible Staircase (which is now attributed to Penrose) and the ever flowing Waterfall. His tessellation’s are amazing and his use of spherical perspective is great to look at, but almost impossible to replicate. That brings up the question of what do I do to represent him. I chose to try to work out how the Impossible Staircase was drawn. I found the answer in the repository of all things, YouTube. All human life is there … as well as a few things that most definitely are not human. What you see below is my attempt.

That was as much thinking and working as I did today. Well I did some lifting and carrying for Scamp in her ever increasing gardening exploits, trying her hardest to get the sun loving plants to the front of the house and those that prefer shade to the back. Today the Hydrangea was taken from the back to the front. Some things that are now at the front, like the tulips, will soon be moved to the back to rest after their flowering is over. For myself, I contented myself with planting some more peas because the first lot haven’t shown their little green heads. I remember Ann McPherson’s Maxim: Buying plant the plants at Easter that will die. Buy and plant the ones in May that will grow.” It works, you know. Especially if you live in Scotland.

Went dancing at the Record Factory this afternoon. Had a late lunch or an early dinner whatever you want to call it, it was fish ’n’ chips by the way at the venue and it was pretty good value. We may do that again. For some reason, nobody wanted to dance. We were first up on the floor and nobody joined us. The next two tracks were played and nobody got on their feet. Eventually people danced. It was a packed dance floor for a couple of hours then things started to fade off again. On the way to the car I got today’s PoD. Beautiful lighting on the Glasgow Uni tower, framed by a demolition crane!

Tomorrow we are in no rush to go out. No Gems and no Salsa at night. What will we do with our time?

Marie Kondo rules OK – 19 April 2019

Today I ignored the beautiful sunshine for a while and started tidying up the top three drawers in my chest of drawers in the back bedroom. Marie Kondo, you have a lot to answer for.

It’s been coming for a while, but when Scamp was out buying Tesco today, I got started clearing out the top two drawers. Actually I’d already started on the top drawer yesterday, but hadn’t managed to file very much in the big round filing cabinet in the corner. Today was a more concerted effort. Using partly the Marie Kondo mantra of “Does this spark joy?” and partly my own “Keep, File, Chuck” method, I managed to get rid of a few more things, then allocate a particular space to the ones I wanted to keep. What was the top drawer is now the second top, because the boxes I was using for the ‘filing’ wouldn’t fit in the top drawer. The chest of drawers is designed in the architectural style where the highest drawer is the shallowest and the lowest is the deepest. It’s the way Victorian and Edwardian architects designed windows in big houses. Look some time and you’ll see how it works. So, the top drawer now only holds paper and sketch books and the second top drawer holds two main categories of objects:

  • File (pens, knives and stuff) They don’t necessarily Spark Joy, but they are useful or essential tools.
  • Keep (photos, flyers etc). They are not tools, but they remind me of something. They all Spark Joy.

That drawer is much more organised than it was before, but may not stay that way.

The third drawer is still a work in progress. It has much more Spark Joy items than the other two and will need a bit more willpower to encourage me to put things into the ‘Chuck’ pile.

Halfway through Hazy phoned and we had a long discussion about gardens, cats and birthdays. Heavens, we also managed to fit in Christmas plans, which seem to be firming up quite nicely.

After lunch which was delicious Cheese and Beetroot sandwiches, we started on the garden. I wanted to plant the Calabrese which is like broccoli, but Scamp suggested that it might be a good idea to put up the pea frame first, to prevent disruption of the growing plants when it’s actually needed. I agreed and got it built up quite easily. Planted the Calabrese while Scamp did all the rest of the garden work.

Sat out for a while in the sun with a glass of wine each because it was a beautiful warm spring day and Good Friday too. Found today’s PoD crawling round a garden bucket. It’s a Nut Weevil and is probably the reason my chestnuts aren’t growing this year, as the adult insect bores a hole into the nut and lays its eggs inside. The grub hatches, eats its way out and it’s goodbye Chestnut. It made a nice photo though.

Tomorrow we may go to Embra. Hoping for another sunny day. Central heating seems to be fixed by the way. Oh, yes and Hazy, I’ve got the two backups downloaded tonight. One from the old website and one from the new. Belts & Braces, that’s me!

Getting the horses cut – 14 March 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday – Gems Day – 25 February 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Out for a walk – 16 February 2019

Although today started out cloudy, the weather fairies said it would brighten up. It did.

We drove to Chatelherault for a walk among the trees. It was busy, but then it was Saturday and people like to get out and about on a Saturday. We chose a path we hadn’t been on before that would eventually take us down to the old Avon Bridge. It was a fairly easy path. Wide enough and interesting enough to keep us occupied for the 1.5km that was the advertised distance. At least it was until we reached the last 100m which was a steep slope downhill and what goes down must eventually go up. We stopped for a while on the old bridge to watch the river flow and the world go by, then we made our way back along the Avon until we came to the steps that would be the Up part we’d been expecting. It was good exercise, let’s leave it at that! From there it was a leisurely stroll back to the centre and the cafe.

I went to buy lunch and Scamp went to find a table. She found more than a table, she found Crawford and Nancy’s daughter with her own daughter Imogen. By the time I got the lunches and the coffees, Imogen had been whisked away by her dad to the baby changing room. Such things were never available in our day. Soon dad arrived with Imogen wearing nappies and nothing else. Apparently she had been soaked to the skin and they’d not brought a change of clothes. However her mum soon sorted things out and Scamp got to hold her for a while. I felt a bit like the Kevin Bridges character who has to talk to a baby and all he can think of is “Ye a’ right, mate?” I try to avoid talking to babies as they usually just start crying. Imogen didn’t cry, she just wanted to test the strength of the material in my sweatshirt. Apparently it passed the test, but wasn’t deemed good enough to eat … thankfully! When they left we had another coffee because Scamp had been too busy discussing things with Imogen to drink her last cup. After that we left. It’s an ok cafe, the coffee is drinkable, but the food is dire and the prices ridiculously high.

Came home and ordered takeaway from Golden Bowl. Usual for Scamp. Sweet & Sour Pork Balls for me. Fatty pork belly deep fried in batter and served with fried rice and sweet & sour sauce. Can’t be healthy because it tastes so good. Even reading those ingredients puts about a kilo on you and elevates your sugar and cholesterol levels to the warning flashing red area. It was lovely.

Today’s PoD is a fake photo of Chatelherault House. The house is ok, but the sky came from a totally different shot. It works though! Tonight’s sketch is of the big watercolour paint box. Done while listening and partly watching a program about how big a bastard Frank Williams of the Williams F1 team was. I never liked him, but I hadn’t realised just how nasty he was.

Tomorrow it’s due to rain, so I don’t know where we’re going, if anywhere.

An hour in the Toon – 14 February 2019 ♡

Actually less than an hour according to the parking machine in Cowcaddens.

Scamp was off to meet Isobel for coffee this morning, so I was free to do anything I wanted. What I ended up doing was tidying up the back bedroom even more. Scamp had left me two Creme Eggs as a Valentine’s prezzy! I had that with a coffee while I tried today’s medium Sudoku. When she came back the clouds had rolled in and it wasn’t looking like a day for going to Mugdock or anywhere else of that ilk. I had lunch and afterwards decided I’d go out somewhere to take some foties. My first choice was Haggs, down by the canal at Haggs to be more precise. I was halfway there when I made the decision that there was no point, because you really need good light for landscape, and the light was poor. So I turned back and pointed the Juke at the carpark for the Luggie. Maybe a walk down the Luggie would work. After I’d parked I reconsidered. I wanted to go and look for drawing ink in a new shop I’d found near Cowcaddens underground. I couldn’t go tomorrow, weekends are alway accounted for, so what about Monday. Nope, Monday is too busy as it is and Tuesday is accounted for. It’s in the wrong end of Sausageroll Street for a Wednesday detour, and next Thursday is coffee with the boys. Why don’t I just go today and hope to get some foties in town. Sorted. Turned round and drove into Glasgow.

Parked at Cowcaddens and walked round the disaster that is the Art School (how much does even the scaffolding cost?) Finally arriving at the Paint & Mortar shop that sells graphics stuff to students at the GSA (Glasgow School of Art), but is perfectly happy to take money from ordinary punters too. Two very helpful sales staff told me that they didn’t have the ink I was looking for. All their drawing ink had a shellac base which will completely destroy a normal fountain pen in about a week. I used to have an old Osmiroid fountain pen when I was an apprentice draughtsman. It’s the only fountain pen that would survive being filled with shellac based Indian ink. You can’t get them anymore.

I walked back to the car and grabbed a few shots in the soft light that had appeared after the clouds had broken up. One of them made PoD after a bit of post-processing in Lightroom. I was quite pleased with the effect. Put my ticket in the parking machine and I’d used less than an hour of time. Had a walk, clarified what ink I needed and got a couple of photos all in less than 60mins!

Came home and after manipulating the image, I got stuck into making some pakora using a new recipe I’d found on YouTube. Mercifully it worked because there was a fair bit of prep needed. It still needs a bit more work, but the basis is there now. Scamp agreed that it tastes a lot better than that first recipe. Dinner tonight was a curry from ASDA and we both agreed it better than the Tesco version.

Watched the Sewing Bee tonight while I copied one of Tuesday’s photos of Scamp’s Christmas Rose. Not entirely satisfied with with it, but it’s not too bad. Halfway through the 28 Drawings already. How time flies.  I don’t know how those people in the GBSB can take an old pair of jeans and make a dress out of it without a pattern.  I think I’m doing well if I can repair a pocket.  Making a bow tie is the limit of my abilities.  Maybe I will start that waistcoat this year.

Don’t have any plans for tomorrow. Weather fairies seem to think it’s going to be good, but they said that about today and although it did eventually brighten up, it took it’s own sweet time about it. Still, probably go somewhere nice.