Private lesson – 5 June 2019

Private lesson for two couples

Drove in to Glasgow through some torrential rain to find that there were only four of us, just two couples. We had a whole hour with teacher Ann Marie while the other couple had one of the experts, Heather. The great thing about Ann Marie is that she asks you what you want to do and then goes over that in detail. So, not only a private lesson, but an own design private lesson. We went over some of the Jive steps that were bugging us and then we ironed out my problems with the fish-tails and running steps in Quickstep. We also learned the Two Handed Cuff and improved on our Bumps in Jive. Came home after a coffee in Nero to give us some time to review the lesson.

Later in the afternoon I took a couple of cameras over to St Mo’s and everything fell apart. Not only did the camera start to vastly over-expose, but then it got itself stuck in electronic shutter mode and wouldn’t come back out again. Nothing I did would make it work. It all started when I stuck on the Samyang 7.5mm and the image started shaking and jumping in the viewfinder. After that, nothing would work again. Eventually I gave up and came home. Finally got it to do a full reset, after which it was back to normal and working well. I think the Samyang had messed with one of the esoteric settings I’d set up over the last week and the full reset put everything back to normal. Scary time though. I had visions of an irate phone call to Brighton followed by parcelling up the new ‘Toy off the Rack’ and sending back. Neither of these are now necessary … I hope. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.  So, no PoD from that visit to St Mo’s, but luckily I’d taken a walk around the block earlier in the day and got a couple of shots of Scamp’s alliums from the path at the back of the house and that’s what achieved PoD.

After the drama of the camera, I did some painting. Today’s challenge was meant to be Seashells, but the only shells I could find were snail’s shells, so that was what I painted. Even worse was that I only could find one shell, so it was one shell in two positions. Tomorrow’s target is Something Shiny.

It’s been a day of mixed weather.  Occasional sunny spells and occasional heavy rain showers, but for the most part it’s just been plain dull with heavy clouds.  Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

No Salsa tonight because teacher Jamie is still down in deepest England doing sciency things at a science festival.

Out early tomorrow to give a few drops of blood to be sent over to Monklands hospital for checking by the consultant. Nothing else planned.

Watching the dancers dancing

Not dancing ourselves, just watching the shivering and sheiking. All will become clear.

It was a wet, cool and windy Sunday and we could have gone dancing at Mango in Sausage Roll Street, but instead we’d promised ourselves a trip to the Record Factory to see The Shivering Sheiks (y’see, I told you all would become clear). They are a rock ’n’ roll foursome who play there every Sunday afternoon. We’d been told they were good and that there were lots of people up dancing to them.

The trouble was they were on early in the afternoon, from 2pm to 4pm, which sort of chopped up the day, but as it wasn’t a day for doing anything else, we decided to make the sacrifice. That was until we went out into a heavy rain shower and gale force winds. Also, to make things worse the Juke was parked under a spreading chestnut tree and what it was spreading was its flowers, aided and abetted by the aforementioned gale force winds. Luckily I’d brought along a soft brush, not a painting brush, what my mum would have called a “hearth brush”. Maybe we didn’t have a hearth, but the brush made short work of the chestnut flowers.

Drove in to Glasgow cursing the stupidity of driving all that way just to hear a rock ’n’ roll band. What were we thinking of? Got parked right away, just across the road from the venue and when we went in the Sheiks were in full flow. Rhythm guitar, lead guitar, double bass and drummer. Only a foursome, but the sound filled the place and soon the floor was filled with dancers too. We could have danced to some of the tunes they played and thankfully most of those who did dance were our age group. We stayed for about an hour and a half and then came home, vowing to go back next week and dance, then dance some salsa when it started after the Sheiks had gone.  Scamp had been right again … as usual!

There was just enough time when we came home for me to go out to St Mo’s and encourage a few spiders and flies to pose for my camera. That’s where today’s lovely model came from. After that it was time to plan today’s sketch which was A Cup of Coffee or Tea. I chose coffee and to add a bit more to it, I painted some coffee beans too. On the subject of food and drink, dinner tonight was marinaded short ribs cooked for 90mins at gas 4 in the Le Creuset. Very nice. Scamp had ‘Rats’, or as it’s now known “Just some Rats”.

We watched a boring F1 GP from Monaco which was the usual procession with so few places to overtake. Then spoke to JIC and discussed plans for Wales.

Weather looks poor for tomorrow too. Much like today it seems. That may decide how far we go and where.

Losing the rag! – 1 May 2019

There are some days when you can’t put a foot wrong. This wasn’t one of them.

Our Jive was fine. No real problems. Michael even taught us three new moves to add to our little routine. I got most of them right … eventually. However the quickstep was a different story. I lost count of the number of times he stopped us and corrected me. I was beginning to lose my rag and I think he noticed it. I stuck with it though because most of the corrections he was making were legitimate if a bit picky. Sometimes, however he would tell me I was doing things wrong but I’m sure I was doing exactly what he had taught. Maybe he was just having a bad day or had got out of bed on the wrong side. Graham and Isobel left halfway through the class. I think they’d had enough too. Maybe next week will be better.

Back home, a cup of coffee and a completed first painting for the ‘Every Day in May’ challenge (topic -Some Fruit) got my head in a better place and I managed to get an hour in St Mo’s where a dandelion seed head became PoD. It looked a bit bedraggled after an afternoon of rain.  Dinner was Kedgeree made by Scamp with just the right amount of curry powder and a lovely bit of fish. Delicious.

Salsa was good fun and just for fun I asked a few of the girls I was dancing with if they’d enjoyed their “Ooh La La” class last week. Their looks spoke volumes. I don’t think it was a fun class. The beginners were doing Sombrero and the looks on their faces when they saw it demonstrated were hilarious. The looks that said “We’ll never be able to do that!” But they did and by the end of the class they had all but conquered it. Beautiful light on the drive home and a lovely sunset after a wet day.

Up early tomorrow to take Scamp’s car in to the garage for MOT. Keeping our fingers crossed.

Dancing just once today – 24 April 2019

Dancing just once, but we covered a whole lot of stuff. Jive, Waltz, Quickstep and Cha-Cha. All within an hour!

Lazy start to the day trying to get into a new book after the superb Natural Causes. The life story of a forensic pathologist. Utterly fascinating. The new book is a novel and it’s hard to change from a non-fiction book to a fiction book, at least it is for me.

Drove in to Glasgow and watched the speed of the advanced Jive class and wished we could be so slick. I think I’ve grown to like jive because of the music. Like Salsa music, jive is generally happy, lively music. Waltz is slow and steady. Quickstep is faster and quite bouncy, but Jive really has you tapping your feet, much like salsa. Our jive was a bit rough round the edges, but we were keeping our heads above water, so to speak. We may not have been as sharp as the advanced class, but we were keeping in time to the music most of the time and although we forgot a few moves, we were doing quite well. Even the Timestep was reasonably good. Michael took us on to the next step called the Kicksies. I video’d it and I’m glad I did. We’ve just watched it tonight and broken it down into manageable pieces and we’ve got a fair idea how it fits together and how it fits into our routine.

Waltz was a disaster. I just couldn’t put a foot right and for once, neither could Scamp. I think my head was still full of jive. I have to take my Jive head off and replace it with my Waltz head, just like Wurzel Gummidge before I can attempt the Waltz. Then I have to do the same with the Quickstep which was heading to be a disaster too until Michael made two changes to our Running Step. Hands high and Head high. What a difference those two simple things made. I know, all the foregoing is more like Technospeak than anything. I suppose it is just Dance Technospeak. Anyway, we walked out into the cold of Bell Street feeling much better about ourselves.

Quick coffee and then home. Grabbed a few shots of the Duke of Wellington with his robot head on and the makings of today’s PoD which is reflections in 110 Queen Street. The glass office building.

Back home and while I was post-processing the PoD, we got a text from Irene to say that Jamie G would not be taking the intermediate class tonight, Shannon would. That made life a lot easier. We were staying in tonight. I don’t need to be ‘taught’ for an hour how to hold my hands in the air and shout “Oo La La”. I find little use for that phrase in my normal, or dancing life. Sent Dougie a quick warning message on FB, because he is also a fully paid up member of the “Not Shannon” club. To get our dancing fix tonight, we practised a few Kicksies. If we do that for a few days it will Fixie the Kicksie in my head.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get my wedding ring back. Also need to do some shopping and prep for dinner on Friday.

A well filled day – 23 April 2019

Driving to Falkirk, and back, lunch out (for some), coffee (for some), broken website – now repaired. Just your usual Tuesday.

Very warm during the night, but the temperature was dropping all morning and, when we got out of the car in Falkirk, I was glad I had worn my fleece. Dropped my ring off in the jeweller’s to have it repaired after having it cut from my finger back in March. We will be reunited on Thursday, hopefully. Went to Morrison’s while we were there to buy muesli, hand wash and milk. That, with a few other things, came to just over £70. That’s the way the money goes.

When we came home, Scamp just had time to change before she went out for lunch with her pal Mags. I had an hour to rearrange the mess in the art room before I too went out. No lunch for me just coffee and setting the world to rights with Fred and Val.

By the time I got home, Scamp was too and there was just enough of the day left to wander over to St Mo’s to get some photos. PoD went to a branch with what looks like Wild Cherry blossom. The competitor for the PoD was this shot of a new memorial seat in St Mo’s park. The name on it is Deone, who I think is Deone MacRae who died of cancer in 2013 aged 15. The family put a memorial bench beside Broadwood Loch, but some people didn’t like it and burned it to ashes. You really wonder about the mentality of some people. The new butterfly seat is cut and welded from 6mm steel. I don’t think that will be quite so easy to burn.

After dinner which was a joint effort at a paella, I noticed all the email from the new server was offline, and so was my site. Try as I might, I couldn’t get it to clear itself. I tried a website checker and it showed the site as open. Asked Hazy to check and she got access. Eventually used the chat facility on the new server’s webpage and after some checking on their side I was told that my IP address had been blocked after too many attempts to log in to an email address using different passwords. Actually it was me who was attempting to log in and get Mac Mail to accept the new password. Good to know they are on the ball, but will have to be more careful in future when changing passwords.

That was my busy day. Tomorrow will be equally busy, I’m sure. Hoping to go dancing in the afternoon and maybe in the evening too. The weather fairies say it’s going to get colder and wetter. Oh what fun. Summer’s over for another year perhaps.

Up and Running – 12 April 2019

Well, it wasn’t quite so clever this morning, but by this evening it was indeed Up and Running.

This morning was marred by some swearing because the website still wasn’t behaving properly. Then I got the idea of getting Hazy to check it out from her end. Just before we left to go and see what Leonardo had been up to since he left Mr Belkevitz art class in Cumby High, I got a message from Hazy to say she could access the new website from her end down in Londinium. This was a relief because it meant that I could tick those damned nameservers off as DONE! It was also a pain because it meant the problem was at my end. Never mind, we’d drive in to Kelvingrove, see Dippy the diplodocus and also catch Leonardo’s exhibition of drawings. I didn’t actually expect to see him there, because he’s quite a famous artist now, but it would be good to see what JB had taught him.

When we got there, everyone else in Glasgow and the surroundings was there too. We drove round for a while, but the only place we could find wanted 40p to park for 30 mins. We were so far away it would take us a good 20 mins to reach the Art Galleries. That would leave us in deficit of 10 mins just to get back to the car if we just turned on our heels and walked back. What in the name of the wee man is in the heads of the people who make up these ridiculous parking charges. It’s not as if the parking places were in the middle of shops, just bays at the side of a road through playing fields. “Sorry, it can only be five a side today. That’s five MINUTES a side. Now off you go and play, your time starts now!”

Gave up. Did try to park within the Art Gallery carpark, but judging by the number of people cruising round, there weren’t many places to be had. It looked like musical chairs. When the music stops, try to find an empty chair. Drove home. Stopped at Costa for a coffee and a roll ’n’ sausage or a tuna wrap for Scamp.

When we got home I struggled for another hour or so with words and symbols I’d never seen before while Scamp went to Condorrat, partly to get out of the road, I think. Finally I too had had enough and I walked over to get dinner. Tonight’s dinner would be a large fish supper between us. On the way over I got the picture of the cherry blossom. As I saw it fluttering in the breeze I realised the first time I took a photo of that tree was around the year 2000 when the world was young, Brexit was a word that would be disallowed as not in the dictionary, in Scrabble and a 2 megapixel camera with an f2 lens was the marvel of the age. It was an Olympus DC-2000 Z. A beautiful camera that I sold to a colleague at school and which he still owns I think. Anyway this shot took PoD on a dull day using an Olympus E-PL5 with a 12-32mm lens and a much bigger 16 megapixel sensor. Sorry JIC just a little technospeak.

After the fish ’n’ chips we had a pineapple cake each, which actually had pineapple in it, but I don’t think the ‘cream’ had ever seen a cow. Then we watched another recorded episode of Portrait Artist of the Year, before I opened up my Linx 12 and got the surprise of the day when the website opened up in the new server. I won’t bore you with the details of how and why I knew it was the new server, JIC would just moan about no Technospeak warnings. It was working. Checked on the iMac and, yes, it was actually on the new server settings. In these days of instant results, you have to remember that Virgin Media takes at least 30 hours to realise that some settings have changed and refresh its lists or something. ‘Slow’ and ‘Treacle’ in the same sentence as ‘Virgin Media’ seems to be the name of the game.

Tomorrow, no computers until at least 12 noon. Maybe a trip to the countryside somewhere.

Isn’t it nice when a plan comes together – 2 April 2019

Drove in to Glasgow this morning and dropped Scamp off so she could go on a shopping trip, then went to see the nice man at JL about an Un-Fitbit.

The nice young man at JL had a good look at my faulty Fitbit and, after checking the receipt, immediately pounced on the fact that the screen was cracked in a few places, suggesting that the cracks could be the cause of the screen failure. I was ready for this and told him that it was a well documented fault on the Fitbit2 caused by differential expansion between the metal body and the acrylic screen. He said he’d have to go and check with ‘the techies’ to see what they’d say. When he returned he agreed that it was indeed a manufacturing fault and was nothing to do with the pretty black and white pattern adorning the screen of the now defunct Fitbit. Unfortunately JL didn’t have any Fitbit2s in stock now, only the more expensive Fitbit3, but if I was willing to pay the £20 difference, I’d get a new Fitbit3 with a new two year warranty. I paid the money, said thank you very much and walked out of the shop with a new fitness tracker complete with warranty.

Drove home, grabbed some photos off the iMac and stuck them on the Samsung Note to show to Val and Fred. Met Fred in the car park and we walked in through the rain to meet Val. Strangely, Fred was very generous to Morag when I told him about her retirement and agreed that she had had a raw deal. For once it was me who did all the talking, but both Fred and Val admired the statues and sculptures I showed them from the tablet.

Got home just after Scamp had returned from the shopping expedition. Quick lunch and then unwrapped the Fitbit, charged it up and got it sync’d to the iPhone. Seems to be working fine. Long may it continue. I was just thinking about taking it out for a walk in St Mo’s when the hail storm put an end to that idea. The hail lasted for about an hour and the white layer that looks exactly like snow is still there. I did manage an hour in St Mo’s later and got the PoD at the top of the page of the daisies pushing their heads through the hail into beautiful sunshine.

Gave Scamp a quick look at the potential of Lighthroom as a replacement for the deplorable ‘Photos’ app on Windows 10. It’s even worse than its twin on the Mac. Not sure if she is totally happy with it yet, only time will tell.

Tomorrow it’s “Put on your dancing shoes” time again.

How are the mighty fallen – 13 March 2019

Unlucky 13th?  It didn’t affect me, for once, well it did, but only marginally.

We drove in to Glasgow after lunch to show off our new-found confidence in Quickstep. They do say that pride comes before a fall or as the Bible has it: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Either way, that’s what happened. Michael, as usual picked us up on a few little things we were doing wrong in Jive, then proceeded to tell us we weren’t doing one of the moves correctly. That might have because you hadn’t taught us it yet, Michael! It’s no use arguing with him, because he uses his deafness as a shield and just ignores complaints. I’m not convinced he is as deaf as he makes out. I’m going to get him one of those ear shaped erasers from CassArt and give it to him as a present. Rubber Ear indeed.

Anyway, we survived Jive and also the ridiculousness of Rumba and Cha-Cha which start on beat 2. Whoever decided that was lacking in the numerical department. We waited impatiently for the Quickstep music to start because we knew we’d ace it after two hours of practise between Friday and Saturday. It was a disaster. For once it wasn’t me making the biggest mistakes, Scamp just couldn’t put a foot right. Now I know how she feels when I screw things up. A cup of coffee in Nero made things better. Drove home and Scamp made the dinner, but managed to drop her fried egg on the floor. Maybe she should have had a Large coffee in Nero!

Drove in to Glasgow for the 6.30 class. CITRAC claimed the time from Cumbersheugh to Glasgow Airport was 42mins (on a good night it’s less than 20). It looked like the motorway was going to be a carpark again. Fifteen minutes later we were in the STUC building. Why have a display system like CITRAC if it’s totally inaccurate? Anyway, the 6.30 class was great fun as was the 7.30 class, but as it is closing soon, the numbers were low, although the spirits were not! Maybe it was that, or a footbath to ease her feet, or maybe it was a stiff G ’n’ T that put the smile back on her face, but whatever it was, she’s gone off to her bed looking a lot more like herself.

Today’s PoD was taken outside the GOMA this afternoon. I think this one is much better.  It was taken near Duntulm on Skye last Saturday.

Tomorrow is a tying up loose ends day, I hope.

Just dancing once today – 27 February 2019

Just Michael’s class today, but that was enough for me.

Scamp was out for coffee with Annette this morning. Before she went she noticed we’d missed a phone call from Hazy yesterday, so I phoned her back and we had a long chat about stuff, just stuff, families and friends. For once we didn’t talk about books, so just incase you were wondering Hazy, I’m trying desperately to finish All The Birds In The Sky I notice you gave it four stars on Goodreads. I’m afraid my rating will be considerably lower!

Next on the list of To Do tasks was to get started on today’s sketch while the house was quiet. After a couple of false starts, I did achieve a likeness of an apple and that’s what you can see here. I decided to stick to a monochrome pencil sketch. I used a nice cheap school pencil. It’s an Impega No 2.5 HB. Just goes to show that the quality of the equipment has less of a bearing on the finished article than you’d imagine. I really need to practise these simple objects. Curved objects. I’m happy with my ability to draw objects with straight lines. Curves are the killer.

When Scamp came back we had lunch and drove in to Glasgow to Michael’s class. Jive was not a problem apart from a bit of brain fade by me. Rumba I will never get used to. The nonsense of not using beat one, starting on beat two instead is beyond me. Why make it more difficult than it needs to be? I’m sure some people will just smile and say it makes perfect sense (eh Scamp?), but I don’t hold with that belief. Beat one is there for a reason. Use it! Cha-Cha? Just Rumba with a wee shuffle in the middle. Equally pointless. You can see this is going downhill now, can’t you? You’d be right. We’d practised Quickstep at home last night and we’d practised it again today while the advanced Jivers were doing their stuff. When we were asked to do it on the dance floor it was a disaster. We didn’t even get as far as the running step, the fishtails which had worked so well half an hour before were more like fish paste! Back to the drawing board for quickstep. Maybe next week …

Coffee and a visit to CassArt put a smile back on my face.  After that we drove home and I managed an hour in St Mo’s to get today’s PoD which took a fair bit of post-processing.  Dinner tonight was roast veg risotto and it was lovely.  I squirted some lemon juice in at the end with a bit of lemon rind too and it lifted it.

No dancing tonight because the lady ‘teacher’ was reputedly taking the class!

Tomorrow is free, the last day of 28 Drawings Later.  Such a pity, it’s been a PITA and it’s been fun too.

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!