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Once upon a time 47 years ago – 30 January 2018

Yes, on the 30th of January 1971, Scamp and I met for the first time. She wasn’t called Scamp then, she laboured under her old name, but not for long!

We’d already planned to get the bus into Glasgow today and that’s what we did. Just waited at the bus stop for less than five minutes when the bus arrived. It was going to be a good day.

Walked through JL without visiting the ‘Toy Shop’, the one on the second floor that has the computers, tablets and cameras. No, I was going to be brave, I wasn’t going there today. Straight through and out the other side without with hardly a backward glance. Then down Bucky Street in bright sunshine and a cold wind down to Nero at St Enoch’s for coffee. From there we took the subway out to Byres Road, but not before I got today’s PoD which is at the top of the page. There’s another one from the same spot taken a few seconds before that way, vying for first place, but dropped to second because it didn’t fit my title just as neatly. It did, however get a place on Flickr, so I’ll let the great Flickr public decide which is the stronger.

At the West End we went for a walk to the Botanic Gardens and showing my resolve again, I didn’t go in to the Kibble Palace and waste gigabytes of space taking shots that I knew in my heart of hearts wouldn’t work. Instead we walked round the gardens in that cold wind, although the sun had disappeared. We saw what appeared at first to be a union meeting. Lots of folk in hi-vis jackets being harangued by some bloke. On closer inspection and with a bit of earwigging on my part, it appeared that they were in fact being given fairly detailed instructions on pruning plants, by a professor type bloke, you know the type; long hair, long beard, no hi-vis, very animated. The sort of bloke “who speaks loudly” in restaurants as John Cleese once said. The hi-vis brigade looked really bored, not to say pissed off. My heart went out to them.

Actually, we agreed that this was the first time we’d ventured further than the hothouses in the park and there were a lot of interesting things to see. Well, let me rephrase that to; there will be a lot of interesting things to see there once they are actually growing (and when the cold wind has gone). Definitely worth checking out in a few weeks time.

We walked down Byres Road and had lunch in Usha’s Indian restaurant (no professor types speaking loudly though). Got the subway back to Glasgow and went for a wee drink in Lauder’s Old Folks Home Bar. Drink was cheap and we were close to average age for the clientele. This was a quote from a bloke speaking to Scamp, think about it:

“You stop liking snow when you have to buy your own shoes”

Here’s a last thought for two of my readers. If it wasn’t for two folk going to a party forty-seven years ago, And if it wasn’t for one of those folk losing a guitar on the train, you wouldn’t be here today!

Tomorrow, I may return to The Toon. Looking for a bit of Tweed!

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Into the teeth of a gale – 28 January 2018

This morning, after a call from Hazy, we drove down to Glasgow Green for a walk and a chance to blow the cobwebs away. The wind was rising, so there was a good chance that something would blow away.

We walked down to the west end of the park, turned and had the wind on our back as we took the path beside the river which was a dirty brown colour and with more than its usual shared of tree trunks, branches and dead crocodiles floating in it. When we got to the boathouse, we were surprised to find loads of ‘oary boats’ sitting outside it, all shined up and sparkling in the well filtered sunlight. There were also a lot more cars than usual beside the building. Surely they weren’t going to have a race today down river into the teeth of a gale and all the while trying to avoid the obstacles in their path. While I was photographing the boats, Scamp was earwigging and heard that the start was to be at 1.30pm. We walked up to the suspension bridge and noticed that the Humane Society safety boats were out on the river and a few crews were practising. It looked like they were going to go racing today.

We decided that we’d go and have lunch in the Wintergarden and then perhaps, just perhaps, we’d come down and see if there were any of the silly buggers paddling down the murky waters of the Clyde. While we were waiting for our lunch (soup for Scamp, roll ‘n’ sausage for me) to arrive, I did a wee sketch. Facebook’s ’28 Drawings Later’ is just around the corner, so it’s time to get the psychomotor skills honed. It’s not brilliant, but it’s done.

With lunch done and dusted, we decided to go watch the nutters. There was quite a crowd on the bridge and Scamp engaged the bored looking man with the clipboard who told her that while we’d been stuffing our faces, the Division 1 race had gone down the river and that the Division 2 race was about to start. We waited and were soon treated to a quarter or an hour or so’s of races. Some looked fit as fleas, some looked like they just wanted it to be over so they could stand under a hot shower for a while. I got some photos. I’d previously been shooting the water cascading over the tidal weir at the end of the course and the camera was set to shutter priority with a slow speed set. (Sorry JIC that was <Technospeak>. There will be no more. ) I thought I’d just wasted two shots, but when I had a look at them they were interesting in an abstract way. Set the camera back to a sensible arrangement and went on shooting, but halfway through, got fed up and went back to ’interesting in an abstract way’ settings.  (It was one of those that got PoD – Bottom Right.) After the last pair had pulled themselves exhaustedly under the suspension bridge the crowds began to drift away to commiserate or congratulate their individual champions. Only the man with the clipboard was left, waiting for Division 3 to make their appearance. Having nobody to congratulate or commiserate with, we went home.

My marinade worked quite well. Too much olive oil and not enough herbs. Plus, the dinosaur bone really needs to be slow cooked. The ‘sear then bash into the oven for an hour’ technique didn’t quite cut it. I have another plan, and another dinosaur bone too. I’m ready to try again.

Tonight the wind got even windier and I was glad we were parked up early, although one of the trees outside was making some dangerous sounding creaky noises. It’s still blowing a gale now.

Tomorrow, it definitely depends on the weather, but no Gems! Hooray!

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Back on the Shelf – 25 January 2018

I got a pair of shoes in the Clarks sale last week. They looked good, they fitted me, I should have known something was wrong.

Scamp was going for a gym induction today at 2pm. The morning was free, so we decided to go to Stirling and return the shoes that looked good, fitted, but offered less support than an old pair of slippers (I don’t wear slippers – I’m not that old). Scamp had to accompany me because the shoes were bought on her card. It felt a bit like being taken to the shops by your mum, except I drove! She got the money back on her card and I went for a browse in Waterstones, but didn’t see anything that interested me. Had a coffee, stocked up on things we didn’t really need at Waitrose as we passed and drove home.

As I said, Scamp had an appointment at the gym at 2pm and as none of my coffee fiends were coming out to play today, it gave me a chance to tidy up some of my rubbish from the living room and dump it upstairs. My next painting project is going to be a self portrait. I’ve tried doing it by looking into the mirror, but why do that when I can take a photo and print it out, pin it to the easel and work from that. It worked with the painting below so perhaps it will work with me too. You’ll find out when I have finished, whenever that may be.

After taking my selfies I gathered up my Olys and took them for a walk down along the Luggie Water. There was a fair bit of water coming down today probably fuelled by the last two days rain and also the snow melt. I’d missed most of the good light, but I did get a couple of images I was pleased with in the 24 shots I took. I’m being a bit more cautious with shots now. I still take a lot, but don’t keep them all.

Today’s PoD was the monochrome pic of the concrete bridge arches.

Scamp found the gym induction quite interesting. I didn’t know that on the treadmill you could get a little animation of you walking along a beach. A bit twee, but worth a laugh. Better than just seeing the time clicking away. Must play with that next time.

Tomorrow seems set to be a bit brighter and better, if not warmer. We may go for a spin.


My Workflow

  1. The first thing I do after I’ve downloaded the photos from the card is go full screen and select shots that have some potential. In Lightroom they get a yellow flag. (Only that selection makes it through at the end of the month. The unflagged get deleted.)
  2. After the initial selection I go through the yellow flagged shots and work on them to see if there are any that will make it to PoD. Potential PoDs are given a red flag. Any yellows that aren’t so good after all have their yellow flag removed and will meet the fate of the other unflagged ones at the end of the month.
  3. With the red flagged images selected, I pick the best one (It’s usually a foregone conclusion) and give it five stars. That’s PoD. All reds get uploaded to Flickr. Five star shot goes into the 365 album and the remainder go in the Nearly a 365 album.
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The trio becomes a quartet – 12 January 2018

Coffee with Fred and Val became Coffee with Fred, Val and Colin today. Apart from that, nothing much changed. We still drank the same miserable Costa brown water and we still discussed politics, books, music, old friends and old enemies. It’s a no-politics and a no-religion area, but all other topics are fair game. Colin provided some reminders of folk we’d forgotten, both pupils and teachers. He seemed to fit in well. He even offered to buy the coffees next time. We’ll let him join the UBI. I look forward to his input next time.

Other than that, it was a fairly dull day that brightened up a bit in the late afternoon, but stayed cold. I stopped off at St Mo’s on the way home to get some photos. You can see the result at the top of the page. It’s not much, but I was impressed with the way the ‘Teazer’ handled the sun in the frame without too much flare. There is some, but most of it was painted away in Lightroom.

Highlight of the day was mince pie. Not mincemeat pie, although it was minced meat that was in the pie. No, this was a savoury pie. Scamp tried to show me how to make it last year, but she is so much better at it than me. It’s good hot, but so much better served cold. A bit like revenge, allegedly. However, cold mince pie now gives me heartburn. It’s almost worth the pain.

That about sums up today. Maybe going on the postponed visit to Perf tomorrow. As always, it all depends on the weather.

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Travelling on the ‘leccy – 6 January 2018

Today we got up early and drove to Croy to catch the train to Embra, but a surprise was in store!

This wasn’t a noisy old diesel train, this was a silent ‘leccy train, travelling by electricity! The future had arrived. It was seventy coaches long too, well, probably only about seven, but much longer than the usual three units. The future had arrived at last.

I’d like to say that the coaches were shining, sparkling and new, but they weren’t. They were someone else’s castoffs. You can’t expect Scotrail to pay for new platforms, new overhead power lines AND new carriages, be fair. Still the journey was smooth, comfortable and slightly slower than the old fashioned diesels. They did however get us to Haymarket much quieter than the old ones did.

I’m always a bit disappointed when I come out of the station at Haymarket. There is never a market there and very little evidence of hay. Is it like a Farmers Market which only arrives one or two days a month and we’re just not in Embra on those days? Perhaps it’s a sort of hidden, secret market that’s down an alleyway or round a corner and you need to know the password to be allowed entrance. Not that I’m at all interested in buying hay, it’s just that I hate the thought of missing out on something.

We walked up for coffee at Nero and on the way I saw today’s PoD just sitting there in front of me. The softness of the child’s bright pink woollen glove stood out so well against the clinical lines of the architecture, I just knew it would be PoD. I’d earlier taken the shot of the reflection of buildings, but the pink glove was the winner, by a mile.

After Nero, we walked down to Princes Street (No princes in evidence today) and on through a few shoe shops with no resulting purchases by Scamp, then up on to the Mound and across the Royal Mile to the Grassmarket heading for Tony Singh’s restaurant there. That was the cryptic message on yesterday’s blog. Not Ravi Shankar’s, but Tony Singh’s. However, it looked as if it was Under New Management because there was little evidence of Mr Singh’s sense of humour in the menu. It all looked very bland. Disappointed we crossed the road to Petit Paris where we knew from experience there was good wholesome French fare available, and so it turned out. Scamp had Courgette Soup and Poisson de Jour (Coley) and I had French Onion Soup and Plat de Jour (Toulouse Sausage) washed down with a glass or red wine, risking the wrath of the Scottish drink driving laws.

After lunch we wandered back down to Princes Street and walked through what used to be called the German Christmas Market, but which is now more likely to be the Polish folk selling Chinese copies of German artefacts. However, it was bright and cheery and everything was half price which must be a sickener for those who bought their Chinese knock-offs last week at full price. We didn’t buy anything, we were getting cold, so we just went for the rain home.

What a disappointment. It wasn’t a ‘leccy train, it was an old noisy diesel. What was worse was that it wasn’t seventy coaches long, just three. I felt we’d been sold short. However, the up side was that it was warm and it was a faster journey that the one in the morning.

Tomorrow it’s a Sunday Social Day, so we’re hoping to be dancing!

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All Good Things – 3 January 2018

Today H&N were off on the road back home.

We saw them off in the morning and then we drove in the opposite direction, out to Stirling to take our minds off their departure. The rain started almost as soon as we left the house and got gradually worse.

All I wanted in Stirling was a new Sudoku calendar and I got one half price in Waterstones. It was round about then my phone chirped and I found a list of WhatsApp messages between H&N and Neil ‘D’s family. It was a brilliant idea to set that up Hazy. Set our mind at rest knowing where you were at any time and also knowing that the weather hadn’t been as bad as we had feared.

We didn’t linger long in Stirling. Went for a bite to eat and a coffee in Nero and came home via Waitrose, of course and that’s where I got the PoD. Scamp was the model. The rain had come and gone all afternoon, never completely leaving but getting quite heavy at times. Thankfully the winds were not as bad as those down south.

One look at today’s photos convinced me that colour was not an option and I simply cropped the best one and did a fairly simple levels adjustment and then converted to mono. I read a comment on Flickr last night by one of my contacts, Seaton Carew (Not his real name). He said :

”you only look at a colour picture, you read a black&white image”

I think that’s true

Tonight’s dinner was Potatoes, Cabbage and Bacon. An old favourite.

Hopefully we’ll go out again tomorrow. Hopefully it won’t rain all day. Hopefully H&N will continue their journey in better weather. You’ve always got to be hopeful. The Sudoku was hard!

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Hogmanay – 31 December 2017

The last day of 2017.

I suppose I should do a review of our year, but there have been so many ups and downs and they have all been recorded in these pages along with some photos to give a bit of perspective and also some colour to the day. Some dull days have contributed very little to the overall and some have produces a surprising amount. I’ve tried to write up these notes on the actual day, but sometimes I’ve left it to the next day to do the writing. Often I’ve gone just over the midnight cut-off and had to fake the publishing day. That’s as much review as I’m going to write.

Today was windy to start with. Storm Dylan visited us overnight and was on its way out when we woke, but was still gusting around until midday. After lunch of not one, but two rolls ’n’ sausage, flat sausage, I did think about going out for a walk, but then H&N arrived and the walk had to be put on hold. Next it was time to pick up Auntie June and bring her over to meet them. I managed a few minutes then to make a PoD which I’d been considering anyway. It’s the flower from the Christmas cactus. It just missed Christmas, but I don’t mind. I’ll forgive it this time because it’s had a tough year, as have we all.

June stayed for dinner tonight which was Broccoli Soup, Chicken and Mushroom pie and Lavender Panna Cotta. Various coffees followed Decaf and Caf and also one flavoured with Amaretto for June. We sat and talked for a while after that to allow the dinner to slide down, then I took June home and H&N left soon after.

It was good to have everyone round on Hogmanay. Plenty of good humoured talk and laughing a plenty. That’s what an old fashioned Hogmanay was all about.

While Scamp and I sat and watched the Christmas Lectures, I did a wee sketch. The last one of Ink ’17. Number 52. 52 sketches in 52 weeks.

Tomorrow? Tomorrow will be a new year with new challenges and new photos to take. Maybe even more sketches to draw, definitely more sketches to draw and improve on.

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The day that the rains came – 30 December 2017

It was with a great deal of pleasure that we noted it was raining this morning. Snow is nice for a while. Ice can be pretty too, but there comes a time when I’ve had enough of it and a return to the dull colours of winter are more relaxing than the pure white of snow or the shine of ice.

We went out for a wee run in the afternoon. Hazy was resting and Neil was off on an urban safari through darkest Glasgow. Dangerous territory for the uninitiated, but he survived it and even claimed to enjoy the experience. We, on the other hand just drove to Robroyston and searched ASDA for any food leftover by the ravening hoards. There was some, but not the exact food we were looking for, so we left empty handed. We did have a coffee and a toastie in Costa, but that was the extent of our travels.

Today’s PoD was taken tonight sitting on the sofa trying to arrange the new Weemen so that they had the Christmas tree lights behind them and out of focus. This was the best shot.

Tomorrow, it’s lunch with Hazel, Neil and Auntie June. I may try to get some photos in the morning if Storm Dylan has left anything in its wake.

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Coffee and Beta testing – 20 December 2017

Today revolved around Coffee and Salsa. I also managed a few moments to take a some photos and a few hours to edit them into some semblance of a landscape. That’s what computers do in this house, well, my computer anyway.

<RANT>
The day started with an email from the developer of a piece of software I am presently evaluating asking for a couple of files and more information about a problem I’m having with it. It’s the second problem I’ve had. The first problem was simply fixed with an update, but the update seems to have caused the second problem. Those who work in problem solving will understand this as a daily situation One Step Forwards, Two Steps Back. However, this software is being sold as a full price item just now and it patently hasn’t been tested properly. Don’t these people beta test before taking folk’s hard earned cash? Or, are the first users expected to, not only pay for the software, but also beta test as they go? Then when all the bugs have been squished the company feels obliged to issue an updated version which said customers will have to shell out more money to own. It’s companies with attitudes like this that encourage piracy. Anyway, I tried to send the files he asked for, but as they amounted to just over 280MB, they would have broken the Internet, so he got a couple of smaller files that still exhibited the problem. I don’t think I’ll be buying the software because it doesn’t do anything that my present editor Lightroom can do anyway. Don’t get me started on Lightroom and Adobe who make it, though. That’s another can of worms!
</RANT>

After all that technospeak and computery stuff I made a couple of CDs of music I’d found on my old HP computer. The most interesting, but very Lo Fi, music was from 1991 and was of Frank Zappa being given the chance to be a DJ on Radio 1. I do not know whose it was, but whoever it was, was taking a big chance. Two other things I’d taped from the radio were of Nicky Campbell interviewing Mr Zappa and are extremely thought provoking. Anyone who thought that Zappa was just an airhead would be amazed at the logical arguments this man put forth on radio. It appears that at the time he was considering running for president. Who would you rather have as president? An absolutely out-of-his-box airhead or Frank Zappa. I’d go for Zappa every time. Better hair and he can play guitar.

The CDs were for Val and Fred. Our last coffee meeting before Christmas and probably the New Year. It was an interesting meeting with sketches reviewed, books and CDs exchanged. Arguments argued and laughs laughed. A brilliant way to spend a Wednesday afternoon. On the way home I grabbed those few minutes to take some photos of the sunset from the top of the Whinedge Brae above Mollinsburn. When I got them home, the hours of tweaking and massaging them into some form of acceptable landscape began. I think that’s when I realised that Lightroom is Lightyears ahead of the new program (Picktorial). It did exactly what was needed with the minimum of fuss. It’s not got all the bells and whistles, but it produces the goods. A time will come when I will need to leave it behind, but not yet.

Went to Salsa to find that Jamie G was not in the building, he was off ‘darn sarf’ somewhere. Class was being taken by Irene who is quite good, but seriously lacks confidence and some young guy who can dance, but it years behind Scamp, Roy or I in experience or range of moves. We stayed to help out, but thankfully made an excuse and took off after the class finished. Leaving the pair to teach the next class themselves.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch, but not anywhere near shops.

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Redacted – 18 December 2017

This shouldn’t take too long today.

It shouldn’t take long because most of today’s activities have been redacted by the Santa Club. That means I was parcelling stuff up while Scamp and here sister were off having lunch with Nancy at the Fort. Not the most salubrious of places to have lunch, but who am I to argue. It gave me some time to get stuff done for Santa.
Earlier I’d decided not to travel to Perf to get some coffee and tea. What’s the point in driving for two hours when I could click a few buttons and buy the same coffee and tea online with a delivery charge of only £3. As Scamp said, it would cost more than that for the parking.

Took some time out to take today’s PoD. It was a very dull day, so I made the decision to take a tabletop shot. It’s a box of soft, crumbly pastel chalks.

Tonight was the last Advanced class of the year and it was a good one, with:

  • The Hat Game (it would take too long to describe, but let’s say it always ends in chaos).
  • The Antlers Game (this is a new one, but just as chaotic and prone to cheating as The Hat Game)
  • Leaders Choice (designed to cause panic among the leaders, where they have to call out the next move – Panic and Chaos.
  • Dancing in the Dark (with Glow Sticks). This is becoming a holiday standard. Any excuse to wear glow sticks and dance a rueda in the dark.

Not happy with doing it once, we did it all over again in the next class. Brilliant fun and free chocolate to boot. What’s not to like. There never has been a teacher like Jamie Gal and there never will be his equal. A legend.

Tomorrow, the coffee is delivered and if there’s time we’ll go to Linlithgow to get fish.