Heraklion – The Wee Train – 6 August 2019

It’s fascinating watching other people work, especially when you’re on holiday.

In the morning I watched a crane with grab loading scrap metal on to a ship. Maybe it’s a ‘man thing’, but I just found it fascinating. It wasn’t just the amount of scrap they dumped at a time, but also the delicate precision with which they could pick out a car tyre from the load that was dumped on the quayside and put it into another pile. Like I say, maybe it’s a ‘man thing’.

We walked in to to town of Heraklion, or rather, the Old Town. It didn’t seem like Rhodes, the other walled town we’d seen. This one seemed a bit more run-down.

After walking for what felt like miles we found a little train, a trolly train I think it’s called and it took us round the walls, in and out of most of the city gates, because it is a city, not a town.
It was quite dilapidated in places furthest from the sea. Lots of old crumbling buildings and football pitches with knee high grass.

We got off at the wrong stop which was supposed to be for a shopping centre. It didn’t look like one, it didn’t even look as if there had ever been one there, and had to walk for a bit in the hot sun. What we did find was an Italian cafe where we had an overpriced latte for Scamp and cafe freddo for me.

Walked round some ruined buildings with a new church in their midst and eventually found the town centre exactly where we’d got on train.
I got a tee shirt, probably the best one I’ve got so far
Scamp found a M&S! Demanded she have her photo taken outside it! She never asks for her photo to be taken outside Marks in Stirling or Glasgow. Maybe it’s a ‘woman thing’!

Cafe Jardin at night (second formal night). We both had risotto which was absolutely beautiful. This was the second menu.

Danced for a while, then off to bed after a wee G ’n’ T on the balcony watching the stars.

PoD was a steel cube on a plinth in a sort of town hall building. Couldn’t understand the significance of it, but very elegant building.

Sea day tomorrow.

Crossing Paths – 11 July 2019

Today I was going for coffee with Fred and Val at 12.30. Colin was otherwise engaged.  Scamp was going for coffee with Annette at 1.30.  Inevitably our paths would cross.

Since we were both going to the same place at about the same time I offered Scamp a lift because her Wee Red Car needed two new back tyres.  That was also on the list of Things To Do today.  While she went off to window shop, I went to meet the boys.  As usual we had a wide ranging, free and frank discussion of topical matters.  That and a book exchange.  Found out from Val that John Walsh had died and his funeral had been yesterday.  Such a funny guy, John.  He gave me a lot of pointers when I was trying to be an author, away back in the late ’80s.  I never did sell anything, but it was good fun trying.

We were just getting ready to leave when Scamp and Annette arrived, so that put, as they say, ‘The tin lid on things’.  We left them to their toasted teacakes.  Val and Fred headed for home via Tesco and I went straight home to get Scamp’s car and drive down to the Village where I was lucky enough to arrive at a quiet time and got to be next in  the queue.  Took my camera away with me and went for a walk around Cumbernauld Old Church.  I really like this building and it has a very interesting history.  Just search for Cumbernauld Old Church on Google and be amazed at the history right on our doorstep.  I took some photos, but even the 14mm lens wasn’t wide enough to get it all in, so I had to resort to the tried and tested method of taking a bundle of shots and reassembling them in Lightroom.  Wandered back and found the mechanic just tightening up the wheel nuts on the Wee Red Car.  Parted with the £80 for the two tyres and was on my way after about 40 minutes from arriving.  Drove home and was walking down to  the house when Scamp appeared from round the corner.  “Inevitably our paths would cross”!

Switched cars and took the Red Juke out for a run up to Fannyside to look for dragonflies.  Didn’t find any, but it’s early days yet.  I just thought that the warm, clammy weather would have brought out the insects a bit earlier than normal, but that wasn’t the case.  Took a few landscape shots, but really wanted to do a time lapse of the passing clouds with the new camera.  I simply couldn’t find the setting.  I knew it was in the five menus and the eleven sub-menus.  Eventually drove to Tesco to buy today’s dinner which was Breaded Salmon on a Bed of Mash & Peas.  There was a fair bit of garlic in it too.  I hadn’t realised quite how much until Scamp opened the kitchen door a few minutes ago and the anti-vampire scent wafted through.  I’ll be amazed if you can’t actually smell the garlic from this blog post.  The dinner was really good by the way, although one of the ingredients looked a bit strange “A slice of crusty bread with the crust removed”.  Now, excuse my ignorance, but isn’t that just a slice of bread?

After dinner I fed the six frames of Cumbernauld Old Church into Lightroom and it made an almost perfect panoramic shot of the building and that became PoD.  I also found the setting for the time lapse.  Just in case you ever need it, it’s in menu 1, the last item on the list.

Tomorrow we may go visit the Riverside Museum in Glasgow.  Travelling on the bus.

 

Nostalgia – 25 June 2019

Coffee at midday. Nostalgia at night.

Finished packing up June’s Birthday prezzy and let Scamp carry it off to deliver to her today, because tomorrow we’re dancing and on Thursday (her actual birthday) I’m going to the hospital in the morning and the rest of June’s day is taken up with family stuff. Anyway, it’s finished and now delivered.

Coffee with Colin and Fred at midday. Usual topics:

  1. “How useless is Boris Johnston? Let me count the ways.”
  2. “How useless is NLC? Let …”.
  3. Why I hate tourists wearing Celtic / Rangers tops on holiday abroad. (I have to agree on that one!)

We discussed these topics at length, had a quick look at my paintings discussed some books and basically that was it. Just a relaxing coffee, if you can call Costa burnt water, coffee! In the course of the conversation, Colin told me that today is the official last walk round the school for anyone who has an interest.

I decided not to go, although in my heart of hearts, I did want one last chance to say goodbye to thirty years of Blood (yes, there was a lot of that spilt). Sweat (Oh yes, that too). And Tears (Tears of sadness and also tears of joy). I’m guessing deep down I knew I had to go, so I relented and am glad I did. I met lots of pupils who knew me although at times I was hard put to remember them. In my imagination, I had to remove the makeup and change the hair colour for some of the girls. Then shave the beards off and then add hair to the heads of some of the boys. That’s when their younger selves shone through. I was amazed at the number of ex-pupils came up to me with a questioning “Mr Campbell?” It was a really emotional night. Best bit was that my old room, T5, was locked, but I noticed a back door was open a crack, so I walked through a cupboard and opened the back door into the room. It hadn’t changed a lot, in fact, as someone said of a different room, “All the graffiti is still there!” I took some photos, but they don’t work because there’s no life left in the room. It’s a true saying that “It’s people who breathe life into a building.” Spoke to some of the teachers, but spent most of my time speaking to ex-pupils. Nostalgia – it is what it’s cracked up to be.

Today’s PoD was taken on a walk down the Luggie Water after Costa and before Nostalgia. It’s a patch-up rather than a focus stack, but it works. Just a little ladybird adding a bit of colour to a grass flower. Strange to think of grasses flowering, but they do.

Dancing in the afternoon tomorrow, hopefully, but don’t think we’ll be able to make Salsa at night. Pity.

Embra beckons – 22 June 2019

We’d both had it in our heads to go to Embra today, but it wasn’t until Scamp said “Right, let’s go to Embra” that the idea became a plan.

We headed for and caught the 10:12 train to Embra. Got off at Haymarket and walked along Shandwick Place, past some Oor Wullies, hoping to get coffee in Nero. Unfortunately, other people got there before us and there were no seats left, so, so did we. We left. Walked up to our usual Nero on Lothian Road and were welcomed with open arms, because there were loads of empty seats. We even got a window seat so we could watch the world, or at least the Embra world, go by.

Suitably refreshed we walked up through the Farmers Market stopping only to buy a couple of hogget leg steaks and a chump roast for my dinner tomorrow. No doubt Scamp will have a piece of salmon instead. On past more Oor Wullies only one of which was good enough to be ranked beside Glasgow’s versions. Embra folk are too ‘po faced’ to fully commit themselves to the topic of humour, especially street humour. Yes, they have the ‘festival fringe’, but that’s really just a bunch of foreigners (i.e. not Embra folk) who are to be tolerated rather than encouraged. Anyway, I digress as I usually do. We walked up through the Grassmarket and on to the Royal Mile. Today was the Embra Gay Pride March. We simply followed the throng to find the weirdos.

The weirdos in question were gathering at the the bottom of the Royal Mile outside the parliament building. That’s the first time I’ve actually been to the parliament building and I must say, reluctantly, I was impressed. It is an interesting building and I think now I’d like to see inside. After all, I helped pay for it. I wonder where the bit I paid for is. Would I be able to see it? Would it have a wee plaque saying “DC paid for this bit of skirting board.” That would be nice.

Back to the weirdos. Scamp reckoned that the majority of the LGBTIs were under voting age. I’d say so too. Mostly opinionated school weans who don’t fit in with the ‘big boys and girls’ but want to be in a group who are ‘different’. All the group are different in the same way. Boys who want to be girls and girls who want to be boys, but they all want to be different and still be the same. Would they all be happy to be called homosexuals rather than ‘gays’? I get the L and the G and the B and even the T, but what in the name of the wee man is the I. I think it stands for “Isnae Sure”. Anyway, as it turned out, this was a refined Embra Gay Pride. Nobody really gave the impression that they were out to have fun. They just marched slowly up the Royal Mile. My PoD was a wee man who stood defiantly with his sign and ignored the children who posed coquettishly beside him. He looked dignified and stoic. They just looked like the spoilt children they were. Mummies’ little darlings. I didn’t agree with his religion, but I did applaud his courage.

After watching the boring march we went for lunch in a Turkish cafe where I had a Falafel, Peppers and Hummus wrap with a salad and Scamp had Sweet Potato and Smoked Haddock Fishcakes with a similar, but slightly different salad. Food was interesting, but coffee was black and pretty tasteless. Pity. However we left with some Baklava for me and Borek (Spinach and Goat’s Cheese in Filo) for both of us.

Train home and then sat in the garden, in the sun for an hour with a G&T to toast the day.

Alex sent me some disturbing news that Craig Fell, whom we both knew had died while on holiday in Greece. He’d thought it was a spoof at first, but then Gillian had confirmed it. Such a sad time for Uncle Herb and Auntie Maisie. Craig could be an absolute eejit at times, but always had a smile on his face. He’d never do anyone a bad turn. A loss to Larky.

Tomorrow we have no plans, other than a bit of shopping, maybe in Glasgow.

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.