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Happy Birthday JIC – 16 August 2017

Today is JIC’s birthday, so happy birthday JIC. Hope you had a better day weatherwise than we had!

Quote from yesterday’s blog:

“Today was a lovely day, but tomorrow is to be not so nice, so I may be doing some painting.”

That’s the way it turned out too. I did do a little watercolour painting in the morning, because I missed the sunshine by staying in bed too long. Only an hour after we woke up, the rain was on, so I didn’t miss all that much of the sunshine. After that it was shower after shower until they all merged into one big downpour.

Scamp wanted to clear out a cupboard and I ‘helped’ for a while before I got bored and went to sand down the window sills and give them their second coat of varnish. It was a strangely satisfying way to use the day. Standing painting while watching the rain pour down outside. By taking my time and not rushing, I actually managed to avoid getting stain on either:

a. The curtains.
b. The vertical blinds.

An amazing feat by my standards.
The great thing about applying acrylic staining varnish is that an idiot can do it and get good results. It’s not waterproof, and it’s not all that hard wearing, but it does what it says on the tin. It gives a good finish easily. That’s my kind of paint … or varnish.

After fish ’n’ chips for dinner we drove in to Glasgow to be met with worse than the usual Wednesday car crash that is the M8. By judicious changing of lanes and pleading looks with indicators on, I managed to get us to the STUC in reasonable time and just before the 6.30 class had started. And what caused this chaos? It was raining. As a result, there was local flooding. We live in Scotland. It rains occasionally, in fact, more than occasionally. It rains often. It’s not as if we are on the edge of the Gobi Desert, we’re in a temperate zone on the eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean. IT RAINS HERE OFTEN. So why did the pinheads who designed the M8 not take cognisance of that fact and build in enough drainage to deal with a known situation? Answers on a postcard please.

First class – Beginners Week 2 was fun. Everyone was really enjoying it, even the helpers like us.
<RANT>Second class – Advanced (?) Too many with heads up their collective arses, thinking they know it all when in fact they need to do a bit more serious preparation which begins with listening to the teacher. It’s OK being a ‘know it all’ if you actually do know it, as some people do. However, it’s not OK if you simply want to show off, because then you don’t really know it all, if fact you know nothing. </RANT>

Came home and spoke to the birthday boy, which brings us back to the start.

I’ll say it again. Hope you had a great day JIC and I hope the sun did shine for you today.

Hoping for some sun for ourselves tomorrow between the showers.

Today’s PoD was a little setup I’ve been considering for some days, and nothing at all to do with JIC’s celebration, just incase you were wondering Sim! It was something I dreamed up to use when the weather was against me. Always good to have something up your sleeve.

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Rainy Monday – 14 August 2017

Least said about the weather today, the better. It rained, let’s leave it at that.

Again, we were pottering about in the garden in the rain. Sowing seeds and stuff, but nothing much because we were having to work in the short dry spells.

We took a run up to B&Q to get some varnish for a much needed protective coat on the inside window ledges. That about sums up the best bits of the day.

Salsa at night was a hit and a miss. Jamie seemed a bit unprepared for taking a combined class composed of his 7.30 class and Will’s 8.30 class in the 7.30 slot (if that makes sense.) It was meant to happen next week, but I think it had been rushed through this week instead. Two new moves that might actually make it to next week unchanged. I helped at Shannon & Cameron’s 6.30 class. Big mistake. I hadn’t noticed Shannon in the class, only that Cameron was teaching and they were a leader down, so I filled the gap. Unfortunately, after that Shannon took over and the class went over the same three moves for the next half hour. Boooooring. I shall be more circumspect next time.

Supposed to be a better day tomorrow. Let’s hope so.

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Here be Dragons – 9 August 2017

Well, the weather fairies were right again. Sorry to you folks down south, but we had another beautiful day. Not quite the wall to wall sunshine of yesterday, but not far off it.

We were headed for Devilla forest again today. We’d last been there in May and enjoyed the walk, but didn’t see any of the red squirrels that are supposed to inhabit the woodland. Didn’t see any today either, but we did see loads of dragonflies around the pond at the end of the walk. Mainly Black Darters, but there were also a couple of Emeralds that seemed to fly non-stop all the time we were there. Sometimes they’d hover almost motionless while they checked out what was happening around them. Unfortunately the Oly or its lens was unable to focus on them properly, despite the fact they were static for five or six seconds at a time. Also despite the fact that I was swearing at it the whole time. I did get some satisfactory shots of the male and female Black Darters and a nice one of an Emerald Damselfly playing hide and seek behind a reed and that became PoD.

After I’d had my fill of ‘beasties’, we drove to the Walled Garden for lunch. It was busy, but not so busy that we had to queue for a table which was better than I’d expected. After lunch we drove home.

Salsa tonight was the start of a beginners class and it was a gigantic class. Enjoyed helping, but in the 7.30pm class, I couldn’t get any of the moves right. Moves I knew well too. I think my brain must have been stuck on beginners level.

Hoping for just one more day of sunshine before it all collapses at the weekend.

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Go out walking in the rain – 6 August 2017

It wasn’t the most inspiring day today. It had been, earlier on. Then we had hills from the back window, but later in the morning the hills had disappeared under a sheet of white, low lying cloud and the rain looked as if it was just about to appear. It did, and it stayed for the rest of the day.

We didn’t have any decent bread, so when I was getting the lunch sausages out of the freezer (fried lunch on a Sunday) I pulled out a 500(ish)g piece of frozen bread dough and set it to thaw out. After lunch the rain got a bit lighter, then the sun tried to come out, failed and the rain took its place again. It was about then I decided I was going out to take some photos, in the rain if necessary. So dressed in an old pair of jeans and my trusty rainy coat, I walked over to St Mo’s to feed the ducks and hopefully get some photos. The one above is my favourite. It was taken with the Nikon and a Sigma 105mm macro lens. A beautiful lens designed for taking close-ups. No zoom. It’s a Prime and with a maximum aperture of f2.8, depth of field is minimal. If none of that makes sense to you, then I’m sorry. Let’s just say this is one of my oldest and most favourite lenses.  Brilliant for beasties!

When I got back and got changed out of the sodden boots and jeans, I started to solve a puzzle that has appeared since I started using El Cap. The problem is Photos. It’s an app that is part of OSX and every time you plug in an SD card it pops up wanting to handle your photos for you. Well, actually I have my own software to do that, thank you very much, so bog off Photos. Except, it won’t, or should I say it didn’t until I fixed it today. You see, because it’s part of the operating system, it can’t be uninstalled. Actually it can, but apparently that causes more problems than it solves. I used Keyboard Maestro, a clever little piece of software that allows you to write ‘macros’ that can go behind the Mac OS and make things happen for you. What my macro does is wait until it senses that Photos has been triggered. When it has, it immediately shuts it down. It was with great satisfaction that I watched that colourful wee icon appear on the task bar, bounce a couple of times, then bog off! Isn’t technology wonderful when it works?

Went to Salsa at La Rambla. Had tapas first and it was very good indeed. Sat with Ronnie, Sharon and Peter and were entertained all through the meal. Dancing was good, but with Cameron in charge of the music, there were a few too many bachata tunes. Glad we agreed to drive instead of getting the train. About 25 minutes journey time instead of an hour and a half. Would certainly go back.

Tomorrow? More rain I think, so more walking in the rain perhaps. Today’s title is from Alex Harvey – Faith Healer.

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Coffee for Two – 2 August 2017

It was my turn to make breakfast and while I was doing that, I unloaded last night’s dishes from the dishwasher and immediately refilled it with the remaining dishes, started it going again and returned to have breakfast in bed.

After breakfast we tidied up the remains of last night’s meal and I caught up with yesterday’s blog. Then it was off to meet Fred for coffee and a critique of each other’s artwork.

I’m beginning to really loathe Costa Coffee. Now Hazy gave me a brilliant tee shirt with the logo ‘Coffee Snob’. I may not really be a snob, but I do like my coffee tasting like coffee. Costa is becoming like Starbucks and selling Costa, not coffee. I’ve tried flat whites, americanos, cappuccinos and cortados. None of them taste anything like my own coffee from either my hard working Gaggia or my Aeropress. Cafe Nero make much better coffee in my opinion and are probably the best of the national coffee shops, but none of them are as good as the independents.

After ingesting the brown water, I drove through the rain to see what was happening at my former school. The reports of it becoming a building site proved correct. The rugby pitches are no more. It appears that the top soil has been bulldozed off and replaced with hardcore. I’m guessing that someone knows that what’s below that hardcore is peat and heavy duty piling will be in place before building construction starts.

Couldn’t really be bothered driving in to go to salsa tonight, but Scamp was keen to go. As usual, I really enjoyed the class. Came out feeling so much better than when I went in.

Not sure what I’m doing tomorrow. Scamp is meeting her sister for brown muck oops, coffee in Costa. I may go in to Glasgow.

Today’s PoD is a place marker. It is just a shot to complete today’s 365 requirement. Hopefully I’ll get something more creative tomorrow.

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Normal service has resumed – 31 July 2017

Ok, today was a better day. More like a normal Monday. Out in the morning and drive to Falkirk for some messages, then back for lunch.

After lunch I took the bike out for a run. Poor thing hasn’t been out for ages. After a couple of miles I noticed that the mileometer wasn’t recording distance and the display was dim. The dim display is solved by replacing the battery, but no amount of juggling the sender unit would encourage the miles to click up. Then I realised that the solution is in the name. The system is wireless and the unit on the forks is a sender. To send it needs a power source. Therein lies the problem and the solution, hopefully. Both sender and receiver need new batteries. I’ve never replaced the sender battery before, and I’ve had the milo for over five years. Granted it doesn’t go many miles now, but that is still good battery life.

It was a westerly wind today which meant a headwind going out but a tailwind coming home. The best situation.

Took the Teazer with me today because it’s light and slips easily into my pocket. It seems to have performed quite well, especially in macro mode. Got some interesting shots of black and yellow striped caterpillars which may be from the Cinnabar Moth. Hopefully someone on Flickr will confirm. Also caught a glance of a Burnett Moth before it was blown away on a westerly gust. That was it for wildlife. Add in a few shots of the Three Amigos (my favourite three beech trees) and that was it for photography too. Having said ‘that was it for wildlife’, I mean interesting, pretty wildlife. The air seemed to be full of ugly biting insects. For that reason alone, I was glad to leave.

I also had dinner to make before we went to salsa, and a tailwind to look forward to. Dinner was ‘Red Spaghetti’ or spaghetti with a tomato sauce to you.

Motorway was extra busy tonight. 49 minutes to the airport. 18 minutes on a good day. However we arrived almost in time which was lucky because Scamp wanted even more messages from one of the shops near the STUC.

Tonight’s move was Prado. Not its real name, so don’t bother Googling it.

And that’s July done and dusted!

Tomorrow can be summed up in two ‘C’ words. Cleaning and Cooking.

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The Glorious Twelfth – 12 July 2017

The weather was glorious today. Better than the forecast had promised. Now, I don’t often say that!

Scamp was out early to get her eyebrows done. I had intended getting mine done, but feared I’d be told “Hopeless cases not accepted.” When she came back we dithered about for a while before deciding that we’d go out for lunch. Somewhere nice, was Scamp’s request. She’d thought about going to South Queensferry, but I don’t think either of us fancied the long drive, so we settled for a slightly shorter drive to The Stables, just outside Kirkintilloch. The food is usually good and there’s also a pleasant wee walk along the canal. The Stables won.

Got parked easily and followed the path on to the towpath and along towards Bishopbriggs. Walked for about a mile or so and then came back the same way, avoiding cyclists be-helmeted and the others who live dangerously. They’re the ones who are immortal (so far).

Lunch for Scamp was her usual Fish ’n’ Chips and mine was Southern fried chicken on the bone. Both were deemed decent enough food. Scamp had a glass of wine and I had a Becks Blue. The first mouthful of the ‘beer’ was ok, but after that I sensed a chemical tinge to it that I didn’t like. However, you could almost convince yourself that you were drinking beer.

Came home and Scamp went to cut the grass while I almost managed a snooze.

Salsa tonight was a great laugh. With even numbers it was inevitable that we’d be doing rueda moves, and so it was. Great fun was had by all.

Today’s PoD is of a piece of artwork on the side of a barge on the canal. Saw this and thought of you Hazy!

Deteriorating weather conditions tomorrow, but at least we had a scorcher today. Scamp even had her sun cream on!

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A day in the toon by myself – 10 July 2017

Spoke to Hazy in the morning, then went into Glasgow for a wander. Danced in the evening. That’s the synopsis.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and discussed books among other things. That’s probably what sent me in to Glasgow. Scamp had other things to do today, but offered me a run to the station, probably to make sure I went. I had a walk around Glasgow and, yes, I did spend a fair amount of time in Waterstones. Finally got a book, a physical book to read. (FYI Hazy, it’s Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay)

Today’s PoD is of the reflections of clouds on the new 110 Queen Street building. It was either that or reflections of

Allegedly, the CityTree is a highly visual structure which, at 4 meters tall, nearly 3 meters wide and 2 meters deep, is said to have the environmental benefit of up to 275 urban trees.  This one was dumped planted outside the GOMA.

old sandstone buildings in the same glass building. You’ll need to visit Flickr to see that one. I’d half intended doing a sketch while I was in, but the rain came on and I didn’t manage it. I know I’m a sketch down after my lapse yesterday, but I’ll try to make it up tomorrow.

On the way home in the train, I glanced out the window while the train was going quite slowly and saw three fox cubs playing together in the grass of a cutting. They stopped to stare at the train as I stared back. So strange to see three cubs together in a little splash of sun after the rain.

While I made the dinner, Scamp picked blackcurrants from the bush in the garden. We’d noticed the birds taking an unhealthy interest in the blackcurrants recently and we were both determined to got our share of them picked and frozen. She managed to pick 1lb of berries. Less than it has been, but then the bush is getting quite old now. Scamp is very fair with her harvest. She never cleans out the busy, but always leaves some for the birds to have.

Salsa class was good tonight and although it wasn’t all that warm outside, it was hot inside and it was a joy to dance near the fan. Our new moves in Advanced class were:

  • Besso por Abaho
  • Agamemnon
  • Vueltas
  • Estrella

No real plans for tomorrow, but hopefully the weather will be better than today, because the rain was torrential on the way home from salsa class.

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Return of the Human – 5 July 2017

Up and out by 10.30 to return the Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor to the hospital and say a fond goodbye (and good riddance).

I know that, despite what my Fitbit says, I didn’t get much sleep last night with the bloody thing beeping every hour and then pumping the cuff up to measure Scamp’s BP. I dread to think how many minutes sleep Scamp got. Anyway, took it back today and noted what the media would call ’a high profile police presence’ across the road from the hospital. Checked on the BBC site, but couldn’t see anything to warrant it. Could it be something to do with a suspected shoplifting in Aldi yesterday? Might be.

Left Airdrie and went to Stirling to pick up our holiday tickets from the dazed and confused Ramsay Travel. They really are almost comic in their slapdash approach to this holiday booking. I think we’ll go to a real travel agent next year DV.
While we were in Stirling we went to The Fat Cyclist cafe and had a light lunch Toast and Scrambled Eggs for Scamp and Roll ’n’ Sausage for me. Service was slow, but the food and the coffee were good. We’ll be back.
Also while there, I got a new(ish) sporran for my Lord of the Isles national dress set. This one looks like a real dress sporran and was a bargain as an ex-hire.
Finally, I got a sketch done of the entrance to the Atheneum in Stirling, while Scamp was almost being successful in purchasing a pair of sandals.

When we got home I went for a walk to St Mo’s to get today’s PoD. It’s a close-up of a wild orchid. They are all over the place just now and look almost like little hyacinths. The photo was taken on the Oly 10 with the 20mm prime and a 10mm extension tube, allowing me to get really close. The quality of results from that lens is superb.

Salsa tonight was covered by Cameron. He was losing his temper a bit in the middle of the class and showboating a bit too much I thought, but he’s young and you have to cut him some slack sometimes. Much, much better than the other alternative – Colin!

Dentist in the morning tomorrow to repair the damage to cap I pinged off about three weeks ago.

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Recovering from an overdose of salsa – 3 July 2017

Today was always going to be a recovery day. Dancing at the Sunday Social, then dancing at the 40th wedding anniversary celebration for Johnny and Andrea. Late drive home then crashing to get the blog done before the witching hour. I don’t suppose the wee dram helped either.

Anyway, a new day. Did a bit more gardening, but not as much as Scamp. After lunch I went for a walk to lose the black monkey that was on my shoulder all day. Went down the Luggie for a change and got the photo of the dog rose and the sketch of the railway bridge. Came home, without the monkey, had dinner and went to more salsa. That’s the day in a nutshell.

There’s not much more to say other than I hadn’t intended doing a sketch every day in July, it was just a lovely warm sunny then dull day and I love the textures of the old railway bridge. I expect some day they will have to repair or replace it, but until then I’ll admire its rusty overgrown features and photograph it or sketch it when it appeals to me.

I helped out at Cameron’s enormous beginners salsa class. He really needs the help. He’s getting better as a teacher, but really needs to “speak more clearly and distinctly” to quote Scamp. He also needs to stop referring to everyone as ‘guys’. That’s ok when you’re talking to a bunch of guys, but calling everyone ‘guys’ can be confusing for beginners to know when he’s talking to leaders and when he’s talking to followers. Maybe he will improve, or maybe as someone once said at school “He’s plateaued.” IE. ‘reached a state of little or no change after a period of activity or progress’. Only time will tell, but I, as a seasoned dancer, found today’s class confusing, so what did the beginners think.  One big bonus tonight was that Scamp drove us in and back from class.  It was so relaxing being driven, but I don’t think Scamp found it that way.  I think I may be driving on Wednesday DV.

Tomorrow we’re out fairly early. Don’t know what we will be doing after that.