24ºc in Scotland – 27 June 2019

Out early to see a consultant at Monklands Hospital, then the day was our own.

Consultant took less than five minutes to sign me off as clear of any serious problems. That was a great start to the day.

From Airdrie we drove to Livingston because I was looking for a pair of decent trainers at the discount outlets there. Didn’t get any. What I did see were a pair of black shoes, the exact same model as the ones I was wearing. The shoes in the shop were black, like I said. Mine were a medium grey. Have they been bleached in the sun or washed in the rain. Probably a bit of both. Although I didn’t get trainers, Scamp got a new dress and we bought a new general purpose knife for the kitchen.

Drove home and the temperature from the car thermometer went up to 24ºc. Now that’s definitely “Taps Aff” weather, but I restrained myself an turned up the air con.

Back home Scamp got her sun cream on and then started cutting the front grass. I put my shorts on and drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal, crossed over and back along the old railway. Got a host of photos of damselflies and hoverflies. The PoD was a shot of a damselfly having its lunch, a smaller fly caught in flight. The actual damselfly is about 40mm head to tail.

The temperature we noted in the car continued well into the afternoon and I regretted not putting some of Scamp’s sun cream on my exposed skin. It was a beautiful day and if the weather fairies are to be believed, we should have a similar, if not hotter day tomorrow. We even had our dinner tonight outside in the garden such a treat eating in the great outdoors … in Scotland … without our coats on!

Tomorrow we are hoping to get the bus in to Glasgow and go for a walk, somewhere scenic.

Out for a walk – 20 June 2019

It’s been a long time since I’ve been down to Auchinstarry. Today I resolved to fix that.

The only thing of note I had on my To Do list today was to wash and reproof my ‘rainy coat’. To keep it company in the machine, I added Scamp’s blue jacket. They’re now dry and ready for use again.

After that and a morning plugging away at the computer and putting a gallery of photos from Wales on the blog (have a look if you like), I decided to go for a walk. After all, I’ve got a new pair of good boots and it would be a shame not to wear them. Walked along the railway path and then across the plantation. From there it was an easy stroll back along the canal. I thought I’d try for another Focus Stack in the wild this time, but it wasn’t to be. Light too low, hand too shaky, shutter speed to low. Take your pick, it just didn’t work, although I didn’t know that at the time. It was only once I got back home I noticed that some frames were shaken and some were just out of focus. I’ll try again another time. Got today’s PoD of the swan family out for a paddle along the Forth & Clyde canal. Also got a couple of close up shots of beasties.

Dinner was Sea Bass with Cornish potatoes and broccoli from somewhere else. Not a lot more to say about today, other than it was a bright day for the most part with a sprinkling of rain occasionally and torrential rain at other times, but mainly bright sunshine. Colours were shining clearly and the boots seemed to enjoy being out for a walk.

Tomorrow Scamp is booked for lunch with the Witches in the afternoon and I have no plans. Maybe a bit of light painting will go down well.

Out to lunch – 23 May 2019

Today we were going out to Hebo House for lunch.

If you don’t understand what Hebo House is, don’t Google it. The original sign read THE BOAT HOUSE (all caps). After the original owners sold up, some of the sign’s letters disappeared and it now reads HE BO HOUSE, hence Hebo House. Much better when it’s not shouting at you too. It’s been re-opened for some time now, but the present owner(s) can’t be bothered to fix the sign. Maybe they too like the kudos of the Hebo House. The lunch was quite good, by the way. Mine was a burger and it worked for me. Scamp had a chicken burger that also looked good.

Now that we were fed and watered (soft drinks only) we went for a walk along the canal, mainly because my task for today was “A bridge over a river or canal”. We walked under the bridge, and I took photos from both sides and neither looked interesting enough to sketch. The other thing was the temperature. The car thermometer said 14ºc, but outside the wind sucked a lot of that heat away. We didn’t walk far. We just headed for Lidl in Kilsyth for essentials (wine, beer and ice cream) and came home. I still hadn’t a photo, so I drove down to the Luggie and went for a walk, because the sun had come out and it became pleasantly warm. Not only did I get my PoD shot of the railway arches, but I also got the ink sketch for today’s EDiM topic: A bridge over a river or canal: Bridge over Luggie Water. This is a lovely place for a walk. Along beside the Luggie Water under this bridge and then under the arches of the railway bridge. A lovely place … in the daylight at least! Don’t go after dark. Not without kevlar armour and a very big stick.

Used one of my sketches as today’s drawing and slapped some paint on it tonight. I like it.  Like Scamp says, “You can walk into it”.  Made a pizza tonight just for a wee snack since we hadn’t had anything substantial since early afternoon and the pizza was slightly overdone, but very nice.

That was it for the day. Tomorrow I’m having coffee with Fred at lunchtime and maybe a pizza for lunch before that. I believe someone is going to have to make a focaccia at some time too.

A day among the butterflies – 29 April 2019

Also a bit of portrait painting.

Scamp was out today for coffee with Isobel, that meant I had a few hours to myself. I chose to do some washing. The towels basket was overflowing, so it seemed a good idea to run them through a washing cycle while I was upstairs painting. Good time management. With the towels happily cavorting in the washing machine, I was free to spread some acrylic paint on a piece of paper. Happy with that, I moved on to the even messier and smellier oil paints. They may have both those negative properties, but they are buttery and lovely to paint with. I spent a happy hour or so wearing an old tee shirt and an old pair of jeans, slapping paint on to the paper. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s fun.

When Scamp returned we had lunch and then I drove to the garage to book the Micra in for MOT. After that, it was still a lovely sunny day, so I drove on down to Auchinstarry and went for a walk along the canal. Lots of other folk were down there too, most of them cycling. I crossed over the plantation and found that the dandelions were in full bloom and doing a roaring trade with the butterflies. Tortoiseshell butterflies were the biggest takers and it was one of them that made the PoD. Others I saw were Peacock with the round ’eyes’ looking like little targets on their wings and also the lovely little Orange Tip. So well named.

It really was a beautiful day, but it was soon time to come home and make the dinner. Tonight it was Penne with Tomato Ragu and Bacon. Quite tasty, but maybe just a little bit too salty and maybe a bit dry if you’re being picky and we’re always picky.

Salsa for the beginners tonight was the amazingly confusing Setenta y Cinco. For us advanced or “Rueda Club” it was “Sanza” and a twisty turny move with an
unpronounceable name that apparently came from Game of Thrones. I didn’t catch the name, but Catherine though it could be Tiramisu! Also reprised “Sequentia”. Really, really fast Rueda to finish off the night. Most enjoyable.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to go for beer and lunch with the Auld Guys.

Out in the countryside – 22 April 2019

We certainly were out in the countryside early this morning.

Scamp didn’t want to miss a minute of today’s beautiful weather. That’s why we were out and walking along the Forth & Clyde canal just after 10am. It seemed today was cycling day rather than Earth Day because we must have been passed by about twenty cyclists of varying degrees of fitness and skill as we walked the canal. We reached Twechar about 11am and started to walk back using the old railway as our path. That’s where today’s PoD came from. There was just a hint of blue haze as we made our way back to Auchinstarry, but I was fairly sure my software combination of Lightroom and ON1 would bring back the true colour and it did work out well. We crossed over at the Plantation and from there back on to the canal path to The Boathouse or “HEBO HOUSE” as it seems to have renamed itself. I actually like “HEBO HOUSE”. It’s got a Nordic sound to it. I’m sure the Kilsyth folk could spin a tale that it means “House by the still waters” in Lallans dialect.

Drove home and had lunch before Scamp parked her sun bed in the garden and waited for the sun to make itself known. I started on my task for the day which was to recreate the focaccia bread we’d bought in Embra on Saturday, “The day of the Signal Failure”. It was a bit of a faff making this sloppy dough. I started out making it in the food mixer, but thought I’d like to try hand kneading it, that’s when I found out just how sloppy and slithery it really was. Finally I gave in and got the Kenwood to do the heavy lifting. Bear in mind, this bread has 140ml of good extra virgin olive oil (EVOO to those in the know), whereas my usual bread dough has about 30ml. That’s how it became so slippery. However, once it was safely ensconced in its plastic tub it didn’t look so bad and after an hour it had completed its first rise. Next task was to slide it out of the tub, cut it in two and form it into two oval shapes on the baking trays. This part was easier than I’d anticipated, in fact, the worst was now past and the two focaccia breads have now been part consumed, although we did leave a bit for tomorrow. Focaccia is a dawdle as long as you have a Kenwood Chef mixer with a dough hook to do the hard work.

Basically that was it for the day. Scamp made an excellent Spaghetti dello Chef for dinner and we scoffed it and the best part of a bottle of white wine in the garden.

Spoke to JIC tonight and watched the final of University Challenge where Embra beat St Edmund Hall and the despicable Leo “Mmmmm”.

Tomorrow we’re off to Falkirk in the morning, hopefully a sunny Falkirk. Lunch for Scamp and coffee for me in the afternoon.

Just a walk – 15 April 2019

No photos, just a walk.

Lunch today was yesterday’s Pakora and Onion Bhajis reheated and they tasted better than they did yesterday. Crunchier anyway. Ten minutes @ 180º if you’re asking. After that Scamp went out to get herd Gems and bring them by to use the shepherd’s terms. Just before they arrived a racket started in No 38. It sounded to me like an orbital sander being used on the floor. That was strange, because on Friday night the exact same noise was coming from No36. We are being surrounded by sanders! I’d had enough. After a quick catchup with Margie who had done more painting than me in the last fortnight, I grabbed the Oly bag and drove down to Auchinstarry.

Walked along the canal and though the plantation from there back to Auchinstarry. I took two photos, but only record shots of red flowers on a bush to try to find the name of them. It was simply a walk and nothing else. It’s ages since I’ve walked along the canal and although nothing had changed much, it was very enjoyable. I didn’t need to take any photos, because I’d grabbed a few shots of a young blackbird. I’d had a look at them earlier and they looked fine, so the cameras were with me just in case I saw anything that the ever ready iPhone couldn’t manage.

Back home, dinner tonight was Spaghetti and Tuna in a Tomato sauce. A staple.

Drove in to Glasgow and helped the beginners get their heads round Setenta y Cinco. They picked it up quite quickly. Much quicker than I picked up the advanced class’s new move, called surprisingly, New Move. We also reprised one from last week now called York because it looks like The Grand Old Duke of York. Good fun, but almost undanceable in a rueda.

Just getting ready now to go and pick up JIC who’s flying in for a quick visit.

Tomorrow our day if fairly well marked out. Will explain tomorrow, DV.

Out to Lunch again – 5 March 2019

Today as I expected we were going to look for more flowers and have lunch too. Both these things are becoming habit forming.

In the morning I broke my rule and painted a bunch of grapes instead of an apple. I hope that won’t cause any great rift in the space-time continuum. When I came downstairs Scamp broke the bad news that there was no Glasgow flight for any of the cruise holidays we had on our short list. Not to worry, I’m sure something will turn up.

Scamp wanted to go out to Torwood Garden Centre to get more flowers for some spring colour. I suggested that on the way back we could go to The Boathouse, the new improved Boathouse which seems to have changed its name to Hebo House. Look on Flickr to find out what I’m talking about. She even offered to drive us there, which made it an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Drove to Torwood, loaded more plants of a flowering persuasion into the car and drove to Hebo House. It’s a much more welcoming place than the one that was there before. It was all style and no substance as I recall. As usual when testing a place we had our standard lunch. No starters, Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp and a burger (no mayo) for me. I hate mayo on a burger. It just makes the whole thing slippery and difficult to hold, not to mention the mess it makes on my jerseys. Both meals passed muster, although the mushy peas with Scamps F ’n’ C were inedible and the coffee was poor. We’ll go back all being well. When we were going in I noticed a photogenic tree on the far bank of the canal and was going to take a quick snap, then decided I’d get one on the way out. When we were leaving, it was bucketing with rain, but I stuck to my guns and grabbed two quick shots. One of them later became PoD after a fair bit of work.

Back home I made some beef olives, froze two of them and the rest go in the fridge for tomorrow’s dinner. I was just finishing when Scamp shouted that she’d found a cruise with a Glasgow departure. Superb! We booked it on the spot. We shall sail the seas again. Not for quite a while yet, but that gives us something to look forward to. Not only that, we’ve got a balcony cabin!! I can’t wait, but I’ll just have to. The booking this year was a joint effort with both of us looking and poring over web pages for hours.

Went back upstairs and painted a poor effort of a couple of apples and some grapes. It covers the remit, so the space-time continuum should be ok, but it wasn’t a great painting.

Tomorrow we are intending to go dancing in the afternoon and at night. We’ll see how it pans out. We also need to get some practise done in the morning.

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!

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.

A Dull Day – 4 February 2019

Usually a walk along the canal can lift my spirits, but today the opposite was the truth.

It’s a Monday and that means Gems and Gems means I go out for a walk. Today I was half decided to go down to the Luggie to get some photos of snowdrops, but then I changed my mind and went to Auchinstarry instead. I walked along the canal, but there wasn’t much there that inspired me. Lots of other folk were there too, maybe they too were looking for inspiration. I hope they found some. I didn’t see any black monkeys while I was there, but one seemed to cling to me while I was there and it remained with me for the rest of the day.  Today’s PoD was taken crossing the Plantation over to the railway path.  I think they are crab apples.  As you can see, although it was a dull day for me, there was a beautiful bright blue sky.  That’s sometimes the way of things.

Dinner was the usual Monday, ‘Red’ Spaghetti. However, we also had a bowl of soup and that soup contained a selection of the veg I painted for yesterday’s 28 Drawings Later. The sketch was good, but the soup was better. Not so today’s sketch. Although it’s done and on time, I wasn’t happy with it. I don’t think the Midori notebook is conducive to watercolour work. It’s fine for ink, but doesn’t have the tooth or the strength to hold a watercolour wash. Note to self, horses for courses.

Went to salsa and helped out at the 6.30 beginners class. Very big class with too many followers or to few leaders. Either way, that meant both Scamp and I were needed as leaders, as were any other people willing to lend a hand. Our class suffered from the same lack of leaders, but whereas the beginners class had over forty participants, our class had seven people in total. Three followers and four leaders including the teacher. Even worse, one of the followers left to go to her ballet class halfway through the lesson. Unless we get a sudden injection of salseros, I don’t see the advanced class continuing in its present form after this session, and that will be a terrible shame. Scamp and I have discussed the problem at length and cannot put our collective finger on the source of the problem. I don’t think there is a single source, as usual with things like this, there are a host of contributing factors. Only time will tell if the class will continue. It may not have been the most successful class for numbers, but I did manage to pass on that wee black monkey to someone else!
Tonight’s ‘new’ move was an old favourite Chi Wa Wa. We also tried to remember Agamemnon with little success. I’m sure Jamie G will have it perfected by next week.

Tomorrow I’m up early to give Scamp a lift to the station to catch the Glasgow train and from there she will hopefully get the bus to Inverness to have lunch and a gossip with Jackie. I may go looking for interesting photos and inspiration!