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Oh What a Beautiful Day – 8 August 2017

After two days of almost continuous rain, today’s blue skies and sunshine were a great relief. Scamp was going out for lunch with a friend and I was painting in the morning, but determined to get the bike out and turn the wheels a few times.

I set out for Auchinstarry to park and then cycle along the railway to Twechar and from there, take the road to Kirkintilloch, then cycle back along the canal to Auchinstarry. A nice easy run of a little more than 10 miles.

Lots of folk were out today, and not just the usual dog walkers either. What looked like a Summer School group were learning about rock climbing at Auchinstarry. Halfway along the railway path two women were having a picnic with their weans, sitting on an old iron bridge over the Garrell Burn. After that, it was just road traffic all the way to Kirkintilloch. Walked up the steep hill to reach the canal (That’s where today’s PoD came from) and then took the towpath from there to Twechar. Passed lots of cyclists on the way. Some gave a nod, some pretended I wasn’t there (Bike Snobs), some shouted a cheery ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ or the West of Scotland ‘Aye’ as we passed.

Changed my mind at Twechar and headed back along the railway again. The main reason is that the canal tow path gets really busy with cyclists and fishermen in the summer and the path narrows fairly frequently making crossing and overtaking difficult. I stopped to take some ‘beastie’ photos at Dumbreck Marshes and met a bloke who was extolling the joys of cycling. He realised he was preaching to the converted, but we agreed it was a great way to get some enjoyable exercise. He was on his way back from the Falkirk Wheel and was sitting having his lunch with his iPhone playing some music through a Bluetooth speaker in his rucksack. We wished each other an enjoyable run home and I was on the last leg of my run. Didn’t pass anyone else on the way back and then watched some blokes doing a bit of dangerous looking rock climbing in Auchinstarry Quarry where there is a sheer drop into very deep water. Rather them than me.

Back home, it was paella for dinner and I had volunteered for cooking duty. Turned out not to bad.

Tomorrow is to be more of the same. Hopefully they get it right again.

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Out for a walk – 3 August 2017

This morning Scamp was out to Costa with her sister and I spent a reasonably happy hour backing up the July pics on to external hard drive. After that, I started reorganising Lightroom’s storage areas to make more sensible use of the space available. Such an interesting morning. I didn’t mind, it was raining all the time.

After lunch I took myself out in the sunshine, that had now replaced the rain, for a walk along the canal, but failed again to see the elusive kingfisher. Some day I’m sure I’ll see him again. What I did see was a family on a narrowboat sailing serenely along the canal, heading towards Auchinstarry. There was a couple at the front seated in chairs either side of the door and another three at the back, steering. The man at the front gave me a nod as they passed. It seemed such a leisurely way to spend a sunny afternoon.

Cut across the plantation and on to the railway walk, then on to Dumbreck before retracing my steps and heading back to the car along the old railway. It was only when I was crossing the plantation that I saw anything interesting and that was the flowers buds that became PoD.

Scamp made dinner today and it was a lovely stir fry.

Spoke to JIC later and got all the news on his trip to San Francisco.

Just a nice lazy day after the rain cleared, that is.

Tomorrow? Maybe Perth.

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The Glorious Twelfth – 12 July 2017

The weather was glorious today. Better than the forecast had promised. Now, I don’t often say that!

Scamp was out early to get her eyebrows done. I had intended getting mine done, but feared I’d be told “Hopeless cases not accepted.” When she came back we dithered about for a while before deciding that we’d go out for lunch. Somewhere nice, was Scamp’s request. She’d thought about going to South Queensferry, but I don’t think either of us fancied the long drive, so we settled for a slightly shorter drive to The Stables, just outside Kirkintilloch. The food is usually good and there’s also a pleasant wee walk along the canal. The Stables won.

Got parked easily and followed the path on to the towpath and along towards Bishopbriggs. Walked for about a mile or so and then came back the same way, avoiding cyclists be-helmeted and the others who live dangerously. They’re the ones who are immortal (so far).

Lunch for Scamp was her usual Fish ’n’ Chips and mine was Southern fried chicken on the bone. Both were deemed decent enough food. Scamp had a glass of wine and I had a Becks Blue. The first mouthful of the ‘beer’ was ok, but after that I sensed a chemical tinge to it that I didn’t like. However, you could almost convince yourself that you were drinking beer.

Came home and Scamp went to cut the grass while I almost managed a snooze.

Salsa tonight was a great laugh. With even numbers it was inevitable that we’d be doing rueda moves, and so it was. Great fun was had by all.

Today’s PoD is of a piece of artwork on the side of a barge on the canal. Saw this and thought of you Hazy!

Deteriorating weather conditions tomorrow, but at least we had a scorcher today. Scamp even had her sun cream on!

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The Android – 4 July 2017

This morning we were off to the hospital – nothing serious. The doc had arranged for Scamp to have an ambulatory blood pressure monitor because her BP has been fluctuating a bit recently. I had one away back fifteen years or so ago. You have to wear it for 24 hours. It beeps every half hour and then the wrap on your arm starts to inflate and then releases. During the day it’s a pain in the … arm, but it’s much more annoying at night. I didn’t tell her that! I’m sure she’ll find out.

After bringing back the android with the battery pack on her hip and what looks like a cable round the back of her neck, we settled down to lunch. Before that we’d gone to Aldi to get some messages. When we were going out, the ABPM must have set off the alarm that checks if you’ve nicked anything. We did as we usually do when we’re out shoplifting oops, shopping, and ignored it. Does anyone bother with these things? The answer is yes. At the weekend, I saw a poor woman with her trolley full of goodies, being escorted back into ASDA at Robroyston by two security guards. However, we got away without even a warning, but that was it! Scamp wasn’t going anywhere with that thing attached to her arm if it was going to trigger alarms everywhere. She was staying put at home!

I, on the other hand, didn’t have a photo for today, so I drove to Auchinstarry and went a walk along the canal. That’s where I got my PoD. This is almost as I saw it. I’ve done some levels work, but very little and it’s not been cropped. It was just a lucky shaft of sunlight that lit up the little bunch of Cow Parsley flowers turning into seeds. Further on I chanced upon this happy bunch of cygnets out for a paddle. Just thought they looked so cute, they had to be included.

That was about as much as we did today. Scamp’s off to bed now and counting the hours until 11am tomorrow when she is released from the bondage of the ABPM. Hope she gets some sleep!

Tomorrow? That depends on the mood of the android. I wonder if she will dream of electric sheep?

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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.

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Sunny Skies – 18 June 2017

Sunday was a lazy day. Really, it was too hot to be anything else, and after our late night on Saturday a lazy day was called for. Scamp was doing some tidying in the garden and I was just footering around. Although I did prepare dinner which was also a lazy meal: Chicken Tagine. Just fry the onions and the chicken in the Le Creuset (other makes are available) add the spices, some chopped dates, dried apricots, orange juice and water then bung in the oven for a couple of hours.

After lunch I went for a walk down the canal leaving Scamp to garden and keep an eye on the tagine. Walked along the canal, across the plantation and onto the railway road then back to Auchnstarry. That’s where I found the lovely wee dog rose. Got passed by two guys on scrambler bikes, one, just a boy seemed amused that I was a photographer. He seemed to want his photo taken, but I had two extension tubes on the camera and I didn’t really want a macro of his face. Should probably just have taken it. He’d never know. The other guy, maybe his dad was a lot more sensible and just gave me a wave as he passed. Such a lovely day to be out walking in your shirt sleeves.

When I got back, I’d just missed JIC, so I phoned him back and we compared temperatures and had a quick catch up. Then I let him go to prepare his barbecue. Hope it worked out well J. You’ll see his card on the left above. Don’t know where he gets his sarcasm from! Hazy’s is on the right with your recommended text alteration. Hope you approve H.

We couldn’t decide whether to go to Sunday Social or not. We’d been out late dancing on Saturday. We’d have usual salsa class on Monday. Can we be bothered? Will we, won’t we? Eventually we decided; stuff it, let’s go. Driving this time. We’ve learned our lesson with trains.

Got parked no problem and had a great time at Arta. I’m beginning to like it. It’s more ‘grown up’ than The Garage. It’s just a bit dark and gloomy. Danced with four girls as well as Scamp! Feeling the effects of it now on my knees. Chicken Tagine was voted good by the Cumbersheugh jury, but both of us agreed that it was too sweet. Less fruit next time.

Preparing for another hot day tomorrow.

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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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Tying up loose ends – 22 May 2017

It’s a Monday and a day for tying up loose ends.

In the morning I started the tidy up of the back bedroom, not for any particular reason but just because I can’t find anything and if I can’t find things, then it must be bad. With that part accomplished (it’s a big job, so part accomplished is good) I had lunch and admired my tidier room.

Ok, one task (part) completed. Now as Gems were gathering I made my second prototype of the tablet holder, this time from foam cored card. It was much more stable than version one. However, as I was making it I thought of a totally different and maybe better one. That’s how products should be developed. None of this investigation nonsense. It may look good on paper, but until you start modelling it, you won’t know if it’s possible without Quantum Mechanics. If in doubt search out M C Escher’s sketches. Anyway, it works.

Before Gems got into full swing, I made my escape to tick off tasks Two and Three. Booked my ‘fasting bloods test’ with the accompanying follow up review. Walked up the slippery blue slope to the library and, by returning my books, ticked off the last task. Done

With all the work done, I drove down to Dullater to walk a different bit of the Forth & Clyde canal. After a couple of hundred yards the rain came teeming down and I headed for the car after getting a few photos with the Teazer. Next stop was a little garden centre to get some veg to plant in the raised bed. Got a tray of lettuce plants for a bargain price. First time I’ve been there. I’d tell you where it was, but it’s called Teddy’ Secret Nursery and it wouldn’t be a secret if I told everyone where it was, would it? Enough to say that it is quite ‘compact and bijou’.

Going out to salsa tonight, I noticed some yellow, slippery liquid under the front of the car. I’d noticed the same liquid earlier in the afternoon, but wasn’t sure if it had been there when I parked the car last night. Twice is too much of a coincidence. Dipped my finger in the liquid and touched it to my tongue and it had that strange sweet taste of anti-freeze. Checked the radiator overflow tank and it was low. It may be ok, but I doubt it. Looks like my car will be having a wee trip to the car hospital soon. Salsa was difficult. I just couldn’t manage to do anything right. The only way to fix it is to practise, practise, practise. Tomorrow.

Today’s PoD is a macro of a tulip flower with raindrops. Taken with the Oly 5.

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I’ve got a bike – 3 May 2017

This morning we took Scamp’s car down to the garage for its MOT.  Then back for breakfast.

That’s how the day started.  Since we were up and about early, we decided to make the best of what was shaping up to be a beautiful day.  We drove to Torwood Garden Centre to get some plants and ended up with nine plants and a bird bath.  We’ve been looking for a bird bath since Trinidad, back in February, but couldn’t find one we liked or didn’t grudge the exorbitant price for.  This one was exactly what we wanted.  Made from concrete, fairly small and fairly priced.  We’d originally intended continuing on to Stirling, but changed our plans and just went home so that the plants could find their way into their new homes, assisted by gardner Scamp of course.

Back home we had just had lunch when the garage phoned to say the car had passed and was ready to collect.  We brought it home and as the gardening needed expert hands, Scamp decided to carry on with that while I dragged the bike out for a run.  For the first time this year, I took it on the bike rack to Auchinstarry and cycled along the canal almost to Kirkintilloch and then back again along the railway.  Going out was fine with the sun on my face and the wind at my back.  The run back wasn’t so idyllic, but it was still enjoyable.  I think everybody who had a bike was out on it today, or at least that’s what it seemed.  Not surprising on such a lovely warm, if windy day.  Tracked it on my new FitBit and was surprised at the amount of data it generated.

Salsa tonight was good although the drive in was a not much fun with traffic jams because of a breakdown in the middle lane just at the busiest spot near the Royal Infirmary.  Poor woman who had to escort her kids on to the fencing at the edge (there isn’t a hard shoulder at that part), then get them back again into the breakdown truck, with their cases!

Looks like tomorrow is going to be much the same as today.  Maybe going to Stirling.

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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.’