Coffee – 1 November 2018

Coffee with the boys. That’s enough to brighten anyone’s day.

Met Fred and Val for coffee this afternoon and sorted the world out again, discussed spying on bird feeders with Val and received critical acclaim for my Inktober sketches from both, but mainly Fred. While the other two had Cortados, I chose to have a Luxury Hot Chocolate, also know as Diabetes in a Glass. Super sweet chocolate syrup and just a hint of milk to water it down a bit.

We had to split up after an hour or so because Val was meeting his wife and Fred was edgy wondering how long we were allowed to park on in the Green carpark. NLC don’t seem to post a notice of waiting times, so they will argue that the didn’t actually state that you could park there for two hours. That was your supposition, not their stated limit. I think that’s how their mind works. Guilty until proven innocent.

Drove round to B&M for peanuts and fat balls for the bird feeder, then drove to B&Q where I bumped into Fred again who was just leaving. Left there with a picture frame for £2.50 and went to Tesco for a bottle of wine and a magazine for Scamp. Got petrol on the way out and again watched Fred drive past on his way home. I must tell him to stop stalking me, or am I stalking him? Who knows.

Later I went to pick up Isobel and bring her out for her dinner before we went to pick up June and take them to the concert they were going to. For some reason, Scamp decided it would be better (safer?) to park at the badly lit bus stop and decant everybody on to the roadside, then escort them across the road to the hall, rather than park in the carpark for the hall and let them get out there. Women’s logic. I’ll never understand it. Surprisingly, nobody was injured in this road safety nightmare.

Came home and shot tonight’s PoD after having to consult the InterWeb to find out how to get out of the complicated and overcrowded information screen I’d never seen before on the back of the D7000. Not the finest picture in the world, but it’s done. Noticed that Flickr is now going to limit the amount of photos the free account can have to 1,000. Not really surprised, the 1TB was a ridiculous amount of space. I may have to buy a Pro account to keep using it.

Really missing the routine of posting a picture of my sketches every day. I think after a few days of ‘freedom’ I’ll start to fill my ‘Sketches’ album in Flickr again.

Got the phone call to pick up the concert goers at 9.30 and drove Isobel back home. June decided to walk. Driving at that time of night is a delight. No traffic to speak of and no rush. Just driving.

So no sketch tonight, but tomorrow is another day. No plans for it yet, but I’m sure we’ll fill up our time somehow.

Perf – 30 October 2018

Today we were off to Perf. Gateway to the best coffee beans in Scotland, if not the world.

Drove up to Perf on a beautiful clear morning. That said, it became a bit cloudier as we travelled north. I’d come with gifts for the Perf folk. I donate my two bike carriers to the bike shop across the road from the car park. Neither of them fit either of our cars, and are now superfluous to our needs. They were just cluttering up the house and were going to be dumped, so if someone can get the benefit of them, all the better. I also took a load of computer books to the Oxfam shop in Perf. I’ve read them and used them well, but now I usually consult the InterWeb if I’m in need of information and besides, they were well out of date.

Next we had to decide what we were doing for lunch. Scamp had an Itison voucher for Cafe Tabou which is now under new ownership. We decided to give them a try and see if they’d kept up the excellent standard of the previous owners. For starter, Scamp had Roast Red Pepper Chick Pea Ragout with Tempura of Fish and I had Salad Du Chef.
For main she had Breaded Plaice Fillet with Chips(!) and I had French Black Pudding & Pork Belly. She was perfectly happy with her selection, I felt the main was a bit tasteless, although the caramelised apples and cider sauce was lovely. Worth another Itison voucher some time. When we came out the streets were just drying after a heavy rain shower and you could feel that there was still a bit of rain on the breeze.

After the lunch, we went for walk to get the coffee and tea that I so desperately needed. Then a walk along to the the viewing gallery over the River Tay. Beautiful light on the trees on the far bank and the sun was shining now on the bridge, so that became my PoD after it was de-fished (no fish were injured in the operation) and some work done on the levels. Samyang 7.5 is a really versatile lens.

With the river inspected, we headed back to the car and the drive home through some beautiful light with nowhere to stop and record it. We also passed through some heavy rain showers that had probably created that beautiful light on the hills.

Sat and sketched my teacup and two digestive biscuits for today’s Inktober sketch. Thirty sketches in and only one left to do tomorrow. Tomorrow as I’m sure you know by now is one of those busy days with two dancing classes and the driving to get there, there’s not much time for dawdling, so I already have a plan for tomorrow’s sketch. It will need a bit of preparation, part of which I have already done with the assistance of an Excel spreadsheet. Art and computing are not the easiest bedfellows, but hopefully one will help with the other if I have my way.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Anything else will just have to fit in with that!

Nothing much to report – 16 October 2018

Out early to the dentist, but no fillings for me, mum.

Drove Scamp to the dentist on a cold morning and waited in the car reading the latest Rebus book. Three quarters of the way through in just under two weeks. Must be a record. Scamp arrived just as the cold was beginning to seep in and I had switched on the engine to warm me up. Unfortunately, there was a filling for Scamp, a temporary one to see her through until a week on Friday, the 26th of October. The pain seems to have diminished a lot since yesterday and appears to be manageable. Now she’s complaining about the taste from the temporary filling. There’s no pleasing some people.

When we got back I noticed a little moth on the outside of the front window with the light shining through its wings. That became PoD. I also started what would become Inktober 2018 No16. Basically, it was what was sitting right in front of me on the coffee table. I got the scale of the apple totally wrong and that’s why there’s a ‘ghost apple’ there. That’s the trouble with drawing in ink, make a mistake and there’s no going back. There’s a fad just now for sketching in ball pen, that’s why today’s sketch was done with a cheapo black ball pen. I’m now looking for a better pen, one equipped with a Ctrl Z (Cmd Z Mac) button.

After the outing to the dentist, the furthest we went today was a short trip to Costa in Robroyston after calling in at the butchers in Muirhead for some raw meat for me. When we got back, and with the help of Scamp, I converted the raw chunks of meat into stew. Actually I’d so far as to say a very tasty stew. I can take no credit for it at all, it was all down to Scamp’s careful and patient instruction. I did add the Bisto though! Loads more for tomorrow’s dinner too.  By dinner time the sun from the morning was long gone, replaced by a drizzly smir.

Tomorrow is dancing day. Practised the Timesteps tonight to try to fix them in my head for tomorrow.

Callum – 12 October 2018

Well, he didn’t stay long did he. Although he did knock down two of our bins on the road out.

I think we were in a neat little pocket of still air while Storm Callum was bustling about all around us. Nice of him to topple our garden rubbish bin and our recycling bin as he left. He did drop a lot of rain though. It started about midday, just as I was heading out to meet Fred and I think it’s still raining yet at just before 10.30pm. What’s more, there’s a second, even heavier lot ready and waiting for us tomorrow. Oh what fun. And we were worried that there might be a drought during the summer. We were praying that they wouldn’t have a hosepipe ban! Now we’re more worried about flash floods.

The rain didn’t stop Fred and I meeting to set the world to rights as we sometimes have to do just before the weekend. Even Val made it for half an hour or so. While I was waiting for them, I thought I’d fill in the time and the last page of my sketchbook with a little drawing of the bloke sitting at the next table. He had his back to me as he read the paper, so there was little chance of him objecting to being my model for the day. Unfortunately, there are few interesting features on the back of a person’s head, so it was a bit of a dull sketch. So dull in fact that I forgot to sign it, so that was done on a separate sheet and pasted on in Photoshop. Yes, I could have done it in ON1, but that would have taken at least an hour and Photoshop’s so much easier when you’ve been using it for a while.

Drove home accompanied by a high pitched squeal from the car. The rain was torrential at the time and I’d nowhere to stop, so I soldiered on and it suddenly stopped. As the wipers were on full at the time, trying to clear the windscreen and the cavity where their motor sits was full of leaves, I suspect that’s what was causing the squeal. The mashed up leaves I found in the cavity when I got home seemed to bear out that theory, but I’ll keep a listening ear out for strange noises for the next few days.

Scamp made Chicken Curry for dinner and I made flatbread, saltless flatbread (by accident). Tasted strange, was perfectly edible.

Today’s PoD is ‘Flooers’, never a good sign. Other than raindrops running down the window (and I’ve done that already) there wasn’t much more I could do. I liked the close-up, almost macro shot of the anthers and stigma look really alien.

Hoping to get the bus in to Glasgow tomorrow to go for lunch in the rain!

Zoomers Day – 28 September 2018

Some days it seems like all the zoomers are out. Today was one of those days.

We were undecided where to go today but we finally settled on Glasgow. That’s when we met the first zoomer. We were driving up the hill to go on the motorway and the zoomer came screaming up behind us trying his level best to get in the Juke’s boot. Wasn’t going to happen though. It’s a 30mph zone and I was doing a steady 30, good law abiding citizen that I am. Then he started weaving from side to side. He’d been watching too much F1 and thought he was Lewis Hamilton trying to warm up his tyres. Either that or he was hoping to hurry me along. He obviously hasn’t heard the auld guy’s rule “The closer you come, the slower I go.” He wasn’t even driving a fancy car, it was a chemist’s delivery van for a Glenboig chemist. Best bit was when he stopped at the red light, not realising that the red is really for those turning right. He was heading straight on. It wasn’t until the drivers behind started sounding their horns that he saw the green filter lane light and drove on.

In Glasgow we met zoomer number two. He was a complete nutter. I signalled to move left into a filter lane, but he wasn’t having it. He was in that lane, it was his lane and he wasn’t giving it up. Stuff that. I accelerated, so did he, but I was quicker and nipped in in front of him. Oh he didn’t like that. He gave up on trying to cut me up as I turned left at the next lights, then undertook me to get in front of me before the next ones. He was smiling as I drove behind him, but I changed lanes and gave him a cheery toot as I passed him. He was in the wrong lane, stuck behind three cars and a bus waiting to turn right at the lights and I had a clear road ahead. A simple beginner’s mistake on his part. Perhaps he’ll learn, but I don’t think so. As we sailed past him I distinctly saw that angry little black monkey sitting on his shoulder, whispering in his ear. So nice to see them together, they deserve each other.

We went in to JL and Scamp quickly got exactly what she was looking for while I ogled the Big Boy’s Toys in the photography section. Then she decided to go look in Next and I went to practise sketching Buchanan Galleries. Inktober starts on Monday and I need lots of practise.

Once we met up, we went for a really poor excuse for a coffee in Nero at the Galleries. They have one more chance to up their game and then they get dropped. Almost Cumbernauld Costa quality they were producing. Burnt water blend.

Drove home without mishap and without meeting any more zoomers. Decided it was warm enough to go cycling if I had enough layers on. Made not a bad fist of fighting my way through the mad (not ‘zoomer’) drivers heading home early from work and did a bit of off road cycling. While I was out in the wilderness I heard the note of a small turboprop plane and guessed it was my favourite aircraft the Piaggio P180. A small 11 seater canard (an aircraft with horizontal stabilising and control surfaces in front of the wing). You can usually hear them long before you see them, but I still had to set up my camera properly to catch this small fast plane and that’s why I tried to jump a fallen tree and tangled my leg in a long bramble stem which is the reason that I’m smelling of TCP right now and have long scratches down my calves. I got the photo, though and that’s the main thing as any photog will tell you. It was indeed a Piaggio P180 flying from Bremen to Glasgow and my leg is indeed still sore.

Heading home I met zoomer 3. Maybe they come in threes. She, it was definitely a She, was driving and she was in a hurry and she was taking no prisoners and she didn’t see cyclists, even ones with flashing red rear light on. If she’s been an inch or two closer she would have had a nasty scrape down her nearside door and I wouldn’t have had to worry about the bramble scratch on my legs. Luckily she didn’t make that move and I got home safe, but it was a very near miss, Miss.

“Zoomer – A person of an erratic or volatile disposition.”

PoD is a view from the JL bridge over the railway in Glasgow taken with the Samyang, the lens of the moment.

Tomorrow we have no plans. Nothing we need to get, nowhere we need to be. Let’s hope that it’s Zoomers Stay At Home Day.

Taking lego into the real world – 4 September 2018

Something I hadn’t thought about before I saw there was a group on Flickr devoted to it. So I tried it, and it worked.

The day began with Scamp going out for coffee with one of her friends. I stayed in, half intending to slap some watercolour on a bit of paper, but inspiration wasn’t there, so I started into my plan to thwart those pesky birds I suspect of stealing my leeks. Twice, or is it three times now, I’ve planted leeks and watered them in, only to find that they’d disappeared the next morning. JIC has now had the same problem. I don’t think it’s slugs because there is no sparkly slime across the raised bed and besides it’s been dosed twice now with slug nemesis nematodes. It must be birds. When I asked Colin last week, he agreed that the wee feathered buggers were the culprits. I had thought of buying a shotgun, but that was a bit severe and besides, the pellets would probably damage the kale that’s growing quite well now. Then there would be the noise and I don’t want the polis coming to the door asking if I have a license for a firearm. No prevention is better than cure, quieter and less damaging to the environment too.
I’d already planned it out, sort of, so I got some bamboo canes and cut them to size then used cable ties to tie them together at the top to … Now look, this is far too difficult to describe. Imagine a ridge tent. An inefficient ridge tent because it’s covered, not with canvas, but with netting. That’s the basis of the bird keeper outer. Hopefully it will work. We shall see in the morning. If the leeks are still there then it was a success. If not it’s on to the internet to find a supplier of shotguns. Ebay, that’s the place to go. Ebay for the Dark Web perhaps.

When Scamp came home the bird keeper outer was finished and looking … reasonable. I had just finished my lunch and was thinking that I might go out in the sunshine and take some of my lego weemen out for a run on the Dewdrop. Weemen were originally all men, but now some female minifigs have made their way into their midst but the name can still apply because the singular for a woman in West Central Scots is Wummin and the plural is Weemen, so it works. Set up the scenario on a bit of waste ground covered with big rough chipping. Set the camera up on a tripod and shot ten or so frames while moving the lady road mender around between each. Back home I layered up the shots and used masks to remove the bits I didn’t want and reveal the weemen. Like the bird keeper outer it’s easier to see than explain and it doesn’t need any cable ties either. The resulting image is PoD.

I think we are on our way to getting the dripping tap fixed. Unfortunately it looks like we’ll need a new tap, rather than fixing the old one. I was coming round to that conclusion after so many plumbers seemed to reject the idea of fixing the old tap. In the end, it doesn’t matter. I just want the Japanese water torture to stop. It’s driving me more crazy than normal.

Guess what happened today. Michael phoned to change the time of tomorrow’s class to an hour earlier. Actually it suits us better to go then, because it opens up the afternoon. So dancing tomorrow.

Two Firsts & A Second! – 30 August 2018

Four quid too!

Scamp was out in the morning and that gave me time to start painting my latest masterpiece. It was to be an abstract seascape. I tried using the Inktense sticks, but they didn’t look right once they were down. I think the colours are too ‘cold’, especially the blues. I’ll probably just paint over it again with acrylic tomorrow.

After that and after hanging out the washing, I went to meet Val and Colin. Coffees all round. Fred was missing because he’d to stay in to keep the plumbers on the right lines when they were rebuilding his bathroom. Colin very kindly brought my photos and painting back from the flower show, along with my winnings. Four quid for two firsts and a second! The little piggy watercolour got a first and the landscape of Quiraing also got a first in the photography section. My favourite landscape, Murdo’s old tractor with the Quiraing behind it only got a second. Now it could have been that there were on two photographs and one painting in the competition, I don’t know because we were down in England at the time, but Colin did say that competition was tough, so I’m thinking that’s good enough for me. I’m now considering entering the little piggy in the Venice Biennale. I think it has a fighting chance.

Came home and realised that I didn’t have a photo for today, so got my cycling shorts and long sleeved top on and took the Dewdrop out on the back road to Kirkintilloch. That’s where I got the PoD. I also got a fairly good shot of these four horses in a field under a glowering sky, but the landscape felt more luminous, so it won.

Fell off the bike on the way back. I think the SPDs need some adjustment or maybe some grease. Left shoe is sticking a lot. Amazingly, the right pedal is fine although it’s caked in dried mud. The left one is shiny clean and it’s the one that’s sticking. Can’t fathom it out. I’ll grease them and see if that helps. No harm done in the fall, just my pride, but luckily there was no-one there to see me!

Dinner tonight deserves special mention. It was Chicken Milanese with potatoes and a big hunk of broccoli. Scamp showing just how good a cook she is. Absolutely delicious.

Tomorrow Scamp is out to lunch with the witches. May take the Dewdrop out again along the same road as today. I’ve a hankering to climb the Kirky Volcano. It’s actually an old pit bing, but from certain angles it looks like a volcano.

Dancing in the morning – 29 August 2018

Today Michael had deemed that the dance lesson would be in the morning.

That meant an earlyish rise and we were out by 10.15am. In Glasgow we started with a fairly lengthy waltz lesson covering all we’d learned so far with Michael tweaking and gently adjusting it. Things were beginning to make more sense. Next was quickstep and that wasn’t much clearer than it had been before. I’d forgotten just how fast it was. Tango was much better. Got the head movement and the staccato style of the dance better. Today we had to change partners for a while just to see how the other half danced! Finally we were on to Jive, but not the Dance of the Seven Spins, well not at first. We started with the Ladles and then went on to the Lindy Hop. Mental wee moves from the 1920s. I don’t know what they were drinking when they invented it, but I’d like to taste it! And that’s when the Seven Spins came back in to complete the sequence. It did all fit together after all.

Coffee afterwards to calm down and take stock. Yes, we certainly are improving. Michael spent some time with us, correcting mistakes, but not nearly as much as he spent with the other couples. We must be improving. On the way to coffee we passed Hutcheson’s Hospital grabbing a ray of sunlight and shining brightly. That became PoD. I say ’became’ because it is actually a Vertorama, a made up name for a vertical panorama. It’s made up of two shots, one of the top down almost to the start of the street and another of the foreground cobbles combined in Lightroom and then processed a bit to brighten up the white building.

Went for a walk when we came back, just over to St Mo’s, but there really wasn’t much of interest there.

Salsa at night was fairly interesting in the first class (7.30) but I just can’t get into that second class. Maybe my dancing brain is exhausted by the end of the day but it just seems a bit of a drag. I think we’ve agreed to dismiss it from our dancing day.

Tomorrow, Scamp has a coffee booked with Shona in the morning and I have coffee booked with Colin and Val in the afternoon. Fred is supervising the fitting out of his new bathroom.

I walked into a door – 7 August 2018

Today, a Tuesday, we were going dancing.

So far we’ve had ballroom classes on a Wednesday, a Thursday and a Friday. Today we added a Tuesday to the list. The only weekday we haven’t had has been a Monday, not yet, anyway. Today saw a definite improvement. The Waltz was better and we were introduced to the mysterious Spin 7 in Jive. Even the Tango was getting better. All of this was a miracle in itself after the black monkey I brought to the basement of Blackfriars pub.

The reason was this. When we left the house, I was ducking down to avoid a low hanging branch of the chestnut tree we park under, and simultaneously opening the car door. I whacked my nose off the corner of the door and bells started ringing in my head. I ended up with two cuts to the side of my beak. To say the red mist descended would be an understatement. The sensible thing to do would have been to go back into the house, clean the cut and maybe put some ice on my beak to halt the progress of any bruising, but when have I done anything sensible? No, I drove off with a paper hankie in one hand, dabbing away the blood when there was an opportunity. Nothing can stop the desire to go dancing. Parked in silence and that silence continued all the way down through the streets to the the basement of the pub. We arrived just in time to start the class. I firmly believe that the black monkey only leaves you when it finds some other person who deserves its attention. Some poor soul left that place with the cares of the world on their shoulders, disguised as a black monkey. Me? I was in a much better mood and Scamp breathed a sigh of relief. I don’t think she believes in black monkeys and you have to believe in them, for them to cling to you. Some call them black dogs, but for me it’s always monkeys.

Coffee after the dancing to discuss what we’d learned today and what we need to improve. We’d had a few pointers from Michael. The most enlightening for us was the importance of ‘The Frame’ and ‘The Hold’. The Hold especially made so much difference to the difficult second part of the waltz. It’s sometimes the little tweaks that make the biggest difference. The other two couples didn’t bother to use what he taught us. One couple think they know it all. The other pair have just started learning to walk upright, so it meant nothing to them.

Got today’s PoD in that storeroom of photo opportunities, The GOMA. All human life is there, and a few other species too. I got another shot too. Another sketch on a junction box at the side of Candleriggs. I’ve seen one by the same artist before only a few meters from this new one. Impressive work in what looks like wax crayon or chinagraph pencil.

Home with a sore nose. I got a few strange looks, but if asked if I was alright, I had the answer off pat.

“I walked into a door!”

Early rise – 6 August 2018

Up early to get the milk for breakfast.

I woke just after 7am and knew I wouldn’t get back to sleep, so I got up and dressed and went to get some milk for breakfast. Tesco is so much easier to park in, shop in and browse at this time of the morning. I should do it more often. After breakfast, Scamp left to go see her cousin and I did some essential cleaning up. After that, I fixed the new SPD pedals to the Dewdrop. It was a much easier job fitting them than removing the old rat traps. A dollop of grease on the crank threads, another on the pedal threads and male met female in perfect harmony. Tightened them up with the new pedal spanner, just because I could. After that I did the final tidying of the back bedroom. By that time Scamp was home for lunch before exiting again for her next meeting with one of the witches.

I’d considered going out to get a new external HD to back up July’s photos, but decided to plough on with getting the room ready for the visitors. Now they have a bed and also sufficient space to swing a cat. Fear not Hazy, no members of the feline community were injured in this exercise. Apparently the ‘cat’ in question was a cat o’ nine tails anyway, at least according to the InterWeb, that mine of useless and occasionally factual information.

By the time Scamp returned full of caffein, it was dinner time and I tried a variation on Spaghetti Carbonara which contained mushrooms as an extra ingredient. It was ok, but nothing special.

Salsa tonight was tiring and the moves confusing to a bear of little brain (me). Most people had their own variations on the moves and stuck to them. The new move was Setenta Chino, but this may have its name changed to something more PC.

Today our neighbours in the pensioner’s house next door left to move to a bigger house around the corner. I guess they need it now that their daughter is nearly six months old. Wonder who we’ll get now? Heavens, we would both qualify for a pensioner’s house, but how would we pack all our stuff into a smaller house. We’d need a ginormous version of a vacuum packer machine!

Today’s PoD is just some leaves with a bit of side lighting. Never really got out to get anything else. That’s the problem with shooting over 200 shots yesterday. You become sated and need a bit of a photo diet to bring you back to normal.

Dancing in town tomorrow, hopefully unless Scamp gets a phone call tomorrow to re-schedule. Hopefully not.