Driving, Driving, Driving – 14 November 2018

With a bit of Dancing too!

Woke early and we were on the road and in the torrential rain. Ran into the first traffic jam within 100m. Took a diversion and we were doing well until we hit the second traffic jam at the other end of town. Another diversion and we picked up June and pointed the Juke at Stobhill. Motorway started slowing down near our turn off and then the sat nav decided we’d like to go by the ‘scenic route’, rather than the one we usually drive. That added another traffic jam to our list, but we made it to the hospital with minutes to spare, literally. I drove back home the sensible way and waited for Scamp to request a taxi.

After an hour or so I got the phone call and drove in along a much quieter M80 and picked up the much relieved sisters. The offending lump was not malignant. Dropped June off at Shona’s and headed home again.  Still raining.

After lunch we packed our bags and drove in to Blackfriars for a tortuous Jive class followed by an improving Waltz class and then finally an impossible Quickstep where Michael demonstrated not only the FishTails but also the little run you see them doing on Strictly. It may be a week or so before we’re ready for that!  It rained all the way in and all the way home

Dinner was Paella and the PoD is a hash up of a picture of the old College of Building & Printing which later became the City of Glasgow College and is now just a slab of glass and concrete that sits unloved in the centre of the city. Solarized the image in Lightroom then adjusted the Shadow, Exposure and Highlight sliders until the colours you see here appeared. Certainly not my best shot, but it ticks the box.

Tomorrow another early rise. Even earlier than today.

Old haunts – 3 November 2018

Today we went for a curry in Hamilton.

Since my brother mentioned he and his wife were going to the Bombay Cottage I’ve been hinting at Scamp that we should go back there for lunch. Today was that day. It was a dismal, dull, wet day and a curry for lunch sounded just the job. Parked across from the restaurant and got a window seat to boot! Food was excellent and the nan bread was the biggest I’ve ever seen. I’d have taken a photo but I hadn’t brought the ultra wide angle lens! Really, it must have been over 60cm long. Scamp reckons it’s been ten years since we’ve been there. I’m hoping it won’t be another ten years before we’re back.

After lunch we walked down into what used to be Hamilton town centre. This place used to be bustling on a Saturday afternoon, wet or not. Today all that was missing was the tumbleweed rolling down the road. It was described by one of the shopkeepers as “a ghost town”. The streets were empty, half the shops were closed and boarded up and even the covered shopping centre was almost empty of customers. Another Scottish town that’s had the heart ripped out of it. We bought some fish for tomorrow’s dinner and that was about it. Couldn’t believe the difference in this once thriving town. I managed to get the makings of today’s PoD. A shot of Keith’s Building in Cadzow street. This building has a chequered history to say the least. Some dodgy goings on used to happen in and around it, way back in the late ’60s. Before we came home we visited Hazy’s favourite shop in Hamilton. The Ink Spot. Part stationery shop, part art shop, part interesting little nicknack shop. An Aladdin’s cave of goodies. It hasn’t changed Hazy!

Drove home and although the streets were drying there were dark clouds seeming to drape down right to the horizon all the way round. Went to Tesco on the way home to get milk and a bottle of wine to cheer us up tonight. We didn’t drink it all … honest! Spoke to Hazy and Neil on Skype until the connection started to fail on their end, after that we literally spoke to the icon of Hazy on our end although they were receiving both sound and video on their end.

Spent an hour working the first version of today’s PoD up on ON1, only for it to go !PoP! and leave me with nothing. Went to speak to Duncan on the phone while I cooled down, then after I was done, calmly started again. This time I saved often between important changes and of course it didn’t go !PoP! this time and the backups I’d made weren’t needed. But, if I hadn’t made those backups … !

Sketched a bit tonight using a mixture of fountain pen and dipper pen. I’m now looking for some brown / sepia fountain pen ink. I think it will need to be on-line!

Tomorrow? Apart from trout for dinner, there are no plans. It’s supposed to be a better day than today. That wouldn’t be difficult.

So, what of the day then? – 20 October 2018

So, what of the day then?

That’s a morning question, especially an uninspiring morning question.

This morning we asked each other that question, but answer came there none for a while. It was a dull morning and we’d nothing much to do. Nothing that had to be done, nowhere we needed to go. Sometimes that’s worse than having too much on your to-do list. Finally, Scamp suggested that we go to The Fort and have lunch in Wagamama. The Fort isn’t my favourite place and as they are digging up our usual approach road to put in new water mains, that makes it even less desirable. However, it’s a long while since we’ve been to Wagamama and The Fort has a book shop now … So, lunch was the answer to the question.

Drove there via the M80 and M8 to avoid the roadworks that have plagued and still plague the other much more direct route. Had lunch, Tantanmen Beef Brisket Ramen for me and Chicken Samla Curry for Scamp. Mine was superb, but Scamp said her’s was a bit hot. Judging by the pile of rejected red chilli slices at the side of her plate, it was. After lunch Scamp went to investigate M&S and I browsed through Waterstones. Neither of us came out laden with stuff, but I saw a book that might be interesting once the price has gone down sufficiently. Something to replace the excellent House of Lies (Rebus 22) which I finished this morning.

Next, we made a half-hearted attempt to buy Morrisons, but we only made a small dent in their stock. A few bargains, breakfast muesli for me and a muffin each for coffee at home. It was raining when we came out, so we drove home.

Watched a two hour long extravaganza of pointless pre-race nonsense before the qualifying for the American F1 GP. How they managed to fill all that time I really don’t know. Most of the time we watched it on a flickering fast-forward. So many meaningless statistics produced by so many puffed up pundits. Please, I just want to see the bright coloured motors going round and round the track!

That was it for a dull day. PoD was what you see at the top. It’s raindrops on gladioli leaves. Sketch for Inktober today was a doodle done on my paper mousemat of a photograph I took ‘way back in June in sunny Barcelona. A place marker and that’s all.

This was written, as you’ve probably guessed, on Sunday. I had hoped it would be a better day, but it’s not turning out that way so far. Maybe later.

The wrong lens – 19 October 2018

Today started off a bit dull and deteriorated.

<Technospeak>
The bonus of having two camera systems is that you can carry the light one without breaking your back on longer walks and the heavier one when you know where you’re going and you want really good quality. The problem occurs when you mix up the lenses. You carry the heavy camera complete with long lens and you *think* you’ve lifted a macro lens as well. You’ve been out for half an hour or so and you see an opportunity to get a macro shot, but the macro lens in your bag won’t fit. When you examine it more carefully, you find that it’s a 200mm lens for the other camera system. Bummer. No macros today then. That was this afternoon and I settled for the wide angle shot across St Mo’s pond as PoD instead of the macro of the rose hips I was considering. It took a fair bit of post processing to get what I wanted. I used Lightroom to develop two shots and then used ON1 to merge the sky from one into the foreground of the other. It works … kind of. It’s a case of taking the best parts of each and creating a new photo. Ansel Adams said we don’t take photos, we make them. So true.
</Technospeak>

That was the end of the day and the beginning of the good light which only lasted for about half an hour. The day started dull and got progressively worse until the rain started then it really went downhill. Couldn’t settle to do anything, that’s why I finally put on my rain coat and went out to see what the world could offer me, my Nikon and my 10-20mm lens, the 200mm being a passenger. After I got the photos for the paste up, I walked over behind St Mo’s school and down to the tarmac path. Caught a flicker from the bushes in the corner of my eye that turned out to be a young deer, not 3m away from me. I looked at it, it looked at me and we both decided to ignore each other. I stopped to take my camera out and it was off through the trees. I mean it was off THROUGH the trees. It just seemed to plough through them as if they weren’t there. Such a strange surreal experience. Saw nothing else worth photographing, but stopped for a while to inspect the new retail park that’s being thrown up across from St Mo’s school. Steelwork is up and I’d imagine the roof will be on in a week or two, then the sheeting on the walls the next week. That will make it wind and water tight enough for the sparks, plumbers and bricklayers to get in and work through the winter. Should be ready for opening by early summer I expect.

I couldn’t settle on a subject for a sketch tonight and I finally grabbed the two chicken salt and peppers and put them in front of me. They became Inktober No 19.

Tomorrow looks even worse than today, so we may just go in to Stirling for lunch and messages.

Urban Sketching – 3 October 2018

Out early to the Royal Infirmary and a bit of Urban Sketching.

In, Scamp delivered and the car park was full, so on to the next car park being careful of course not to scrape the car! The second car park, which was just across the road, was almost empty. So were my pockets! Only 80p in cash and a fiver in my wallet. Unfortunately the parking ticket machine didn’t take paper money and the minimum amount was £1.60, exactly double what I had in my pocket. On to plan 2, or is that plan 3. I was pretty sure I could park on Ladywell, the long street between the Necropolis and the Cathedral. Loads of spaces and the parking meter that had a minimum charge of 20p. Obviously the cheaper side of town. Parked!

Went for a look at the Cathedral, because I don’t like going to the Necropolis. It has a bad feeling. I did a 20 minute sketch that covered the basics, but wasn’t at all brilliant. It was one in the bag. It had started to rain as I was finishing, so I made my way back to the car. Just got there when Scamp phoned to say that was her finished, so I drove back to car park 1 and picked her up.

With a bit of time to kill, we drove back in to town, parked in Buchanan Galleries and went for a coffee. The place was ram jam full, so I went back to the car and got my sketchbook and assigned myself 20 mins to sketch Buchanan Galleries while Scamp went window shopping in the Galleries. While I was walking down Buchanan Street I crossed paths with a *STAR*. DI Jimmy Perez (AKA Douglas Henshall) had just walked into Sketchers wearing that same donkey jacket he wore all through the Shetland series! Got my sketch done, but it was a bit ropey too. Having said that, it was better than the Cathedral sketch from earlier. Met Scamp and we went to see if Nero was any quieter. Thankfully it was, but my coffee wasn’t much better than the last time I’d been there. In fact, that might be “the last time I’d been there” for a while!

After we finished our brown water, we walked down to Blackfriars, but as we were crossing the road, Who should be crossing the road but the ex Doctor himself? Peter Capaldi. Today we were really walking in the footsteps of *STARS*. Of course Scamp didn’t see him, but I turned her head and pointed it in his direction and she duly admitted that it “looked like him”. Unbeliever!
I could say “With stars in my eyes I danced down the rest of the way to Blackfriars”, but that would be pushing it, wouldn’t it? Anyway, we had plenty of time, so we dropped in at Paesano first for a couple of pizzas which came straight from the oven and were delicious. Sat amazed watching a bloke holding his fork as if it was a dagger he was stabbing his pizza with. It was the most bizarre way of handling a fork I’ve ever seen.

Jive was a bit complicated, but now we have a version of ’Timesteps’ in our heads and the Quickstep is firming up too. Waltz is definitely looking a lot better. Much cleaner turns help there. On the way home I picked up today’s PoD, “Sinusoid” which is the curved marble seating in Brunswick Street..

Home and a quick look at today’s sketches told me that there was only one Inktober No3 and it was the Buchanan Galleries. It has been cleaned up a bit and had a couple of watercolour washes applied, but it looks much better now. A worthy winner.

Salsa tonight was enjoyable, but the drive in was a nightmare. Crash just at the off slip for Great Western Road meant a lengthy detour, but we still caught a bit of the 6.30 class to add to our hour with the 7.30 class. Bumped into some old friends who were waiting for the 8.30 Thriller tutorial.

Tomorrow Scamp is out for coffee with Isobel and I’ve got a 1pm appointment with a man with a laser.

Scone Palace – 24 September 2018

Went to Scone, but didn’t get one!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I have seen the future and it works – 15 September 2018

Electricity travels at almost the speed of light. Diesel is hard to spell and is a fossil fuel.

Today we took the ‘leccy train to Embra. We didn’t intentionally go the ‘leccy route. It just happened that the train we were waiting for was powered by the new clean, invisible power source. The Stirling train that preceded it was powered by old fashioned, smelly, hard to spell deisildesil, diesel. That’s because they don’t have electricity in Stirling yet. They still have gas lights in the street and coal fires. I do feel sorry for them.

The super fast ‘leccy train took longer than the diesel trains they are replacing. Maybe it was cheap, slow electricity they were using or maybe it was Abellio who now run Scotrail who couldn’t manage the rail system properly. Surely not! Anyway, we got to Haymarket and walked up the road for morning coffee in Nero, but not before I set the Samyang loose in Ladyfield which is a great canyon between large imposing office blocks. That’s where PoD came from. I really like the perspective this lens gives. With one in the bag, I could enjoy my morning coffee.

After that we walked up through the Grassmarket to see if anyone was actually selling grass. They weren’t, but I wasn’t surprised because I hadn’t seen anyone selling hay at Haymarket. (Sounds better with a Chic Murray delivery.) From there we headed for the Royal Mile which was mobbed. I was beginning to think that there had been an extension to the Fringe Festival, but it was just the usual bunch of escapologists, jugglers and fire eaters performing for the tourists. We’re not tourists, we LIVE in Scotland. There did seem to be quite a lot of tourists about, but I later checked and the Norwegian Jade cruise ship was docked at Leith, so that probably explained things.

We walked back down through the Old Town and from there along George Street, then back along Rose Street, eventually giving up and heading for the tea room at the National Gallery where our lunch was a shared baguette of smoked salmon with leaves and mayo and a two cups of tea, paper cups, to Scamp’s disgust. After our light lunch we just got the train home. We’d had a bit of a wander around the Capital and were ready to return to the real world.

It was a dull day weatherwise with nothing much to recommend it. I took a few more photos to test out the ability of the Samyang, but am fairly confident that at f8 or better it can handle almost anything I can throw at it. It’s a keeper, for sure.

Got the ‘leccy train back home and it was fast! Impressively so. Shave a good 10 minutes off a 45 minute journey. The folk in Stirling don’t know what they’re missing. They thought it was a great thing last year when the diesel trains replaced the steam trains they’d had for years. Not to mention that the carriages had roofs, not like the open carriages they’d had before.

Tomorrow it’s the Cumbersheugh 10k, so if we’re not out by 10am we’re locked in until midday. I don’t suppose we’ll mind as the weather is to be ‘Scottish’. Hopefully dancing later.

Coffee and the Bridge to Nowhere – 14 September 2018

Coffee first then a walk over the bridge from nowhere to nowhere.

I met Fred for a coffee and a wee natter this morning. Just the two of us. We’d both forgotten to invite Val and Colin, so we share the blame. Topics were mainly about painting, drawing and photography. No politics for a change.

When we were done, instead of going our separate ways, we went by the new bridge. It’s not really new, it’s been there for a few years now, but few people cross it, so it’s new to a lot of folk. I’d never had cause to cross it until today, because both of us were parked on the north of Central Way that bisects the town centre and the coffee shop is on the south side. Here’s the first amazing thing. You don’t need to climb any stairs to get on to the bridge, there’s a lift. Hardly anyone crosses this bridge, but there’s a lift. The second amazing thing is that the voice that tells you “Doors Closing”, “Lift Going Up”, “Level One” etc, have a Scottish accent! The third, and probably the most amazing thing is that the lift and the bridge haven’t been vandalised yet. Maybe that’s because the lift and bridge take you from a ground level carpark to an upper story carpark. Who in their right mind builds a bridge and installs a lift to take you from one carpark to another. There is no direct access to any offices or shops from this bridge, just carparks. Maybe it was designed by a forgetful driver who couldn’t remember where he’d left his car and wanted easy access between the two possible sites. Who knows. It’s just another Cumbersheugh Anomaly. What it did do was give me PoD, so it can’t be all bad. One more strange anomaly is that when you do get across there’s a covered walkway along the side of the carpark, but only for about 20m then it just stops. The walkway continues, but then it’s open to the elements. It’s as if they just got fed up with the idea and abandoned it. It’s typical of Cumbersheugh, half finished. Walked across the wasteland of the upper carpark in the rain and drove home.

We were going out tonight to a meal in Glasgow to celebrate Scamp’s sister’s birthday which is actually tomorrow. Unfortunately she’ll be on her way to Southampton tomorrow for a holiday cruise to the Canaries. The meal was in the Premier Inn on Sausage Roll Street and although there were no sausage rolls involved, it was a good night. Most enjoyable. Again, because drink would be taken, we got the bus in to Glasgow and the bus back again. Sometimes I feel we spend half our lives on the x3.

That was about it for a wet and windy Friday in September. Tomorrow we may go east to Embra where you get a better class of weather than here.

Shiny and clean again – 12 September 2018

No drilling the wall this morning, but we were up early anyway.

I thought that as the car would be going in for its first service next week, I should make an effort and give it a bit of a wash and brush up. It didn’t take too long and then I took it for a run to Craigmarloch to dry it off. Of course, when I was coming back the rain came on to wash away any remaining suds. Saw the strangest thing when I got to the Broadwood roundabout. The lights were at green for me, but one bloke held at the red light decided he could nip in in front of me, then seemed to realise that the roundabout IS actually light controlled. By this time he was halfway across the road and blocking both lanes. When he’d sheepishly reversed back behind the line, I just managed to get past on amber. What a numpty. Having said that, I’ve done the same thing myself a few times.

Drove a clean car in to Glasgow to go to ballroom class. Managed to get a few shots of the shiny reflective building with the new toy, but the PoD was a view of Buchanan Galleries through the glass brick windows of the car park.

Waltz is getting smoother. Quickstep is getting quicker and Lindy Hops are as bad as ever. Almost a private lesson today as the rest of the class were rated as ‘Beginners’ and I think we are now ‘Improvers’. Knee was sore, but I had taken Scamp’s advice and downed a couple of Paracetamol before I left the house and they kept things manageable.

After class, Scamp had business in town and I went for a browse in CassArt. Didn’t find anything but students with lists of things to buy for their courses and grants that no doubt would be reducing by the minute.

Drove home and discovered that Jamie G was not taking the salsa class tonight. Nobody was willing to say who the teacher would be, which can only mean one thing, or one person. We made the decision that it was too wet to go tonight with no sign of any fun in the class. We’d supplement our Salsa time on Sunday with a Sunday Social instead, hopefully.

Tomorrow we’re booked for lunch at a posh fish and chip shop in The Barras!