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A day in the toon – 24 June 2017

A bit later than normal, we made our way into Glasgow for a wee wander.

Started with pizza for lunch in Paesano and then a coffee in Nero. I was looking for a new sketch book, now that the Seawhite landscape I’ve been using has run out of space and the Paperchase book I was intending to replace it with has failed to hold a watercolour wash. I didn’t find one and think now that I may have to revert to the Pink Pig books I’ve been using for years. They have these three benefits:

  • I’ve used them before and they are smooth with good tooth.
  • They hold a watercolour wash with ease.
  • They cost nothing, because I already have them

They have one drawback and that’s the fact that they are wire bound, so you can’t simply open them out and draw across the fold in the same way that you can with a perfect bound book like a Moleskine. Ah, life is a set of compromises and so it is with sketchbooks too, it seems.

When we were walking back to the car I saw a bloke selling white beanie hats. Couldn’t understand why, then I noticed that they had The Stone Roses printed on them. So that’s why there were so many people wandering around ‘The Toon’. Then two blokes passed and one said to the other “… and there I was standing right next to Ian Brown.” Isn’t he the one who looks like a monkey? Ian Brown that is, not the bloke who passed, although he did have that simian look about him too.

The wind was getting quite fierce on the way home, but I didn’t have a photo apart from this controversial one from Buchanan Galleries carpark, so I went for a walk around St Mo’s with Big Dog and the 105mm Macro and the Teazer as backup. It was the Nikon that produced the pic of the bee.

We had intended to go dancing at night, but neither of us were that bothered, so we had a night in instead. I managed to get a very bad sketch completed. It won’t be vying for Sketch of the Week.

No plans for tomorrow.

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Turned out nice again – 19 June 2017

When the temperature is about 20ºc when you wake in the morning, you just know it’s going to be a hot one.

Scamp was going out to a friend’s for lunch and I wasn’t invited this time, so I tidied up the blog in the morning and after my own lunch, set to and built the pea net I’ve been talking about constructing for the last week or two. It’s a beautiful construct of bamboo canes and pea netting held together by cable ties. I was watched all the while by next door’s wee yappy dogs. They obviously knew I hadn’t a clue how to build it and also that I wasn’t a threat, so they just patrolled their side of the fence and made sure I wasn’t going to invade their territory. I was fairly pleased with the finished article and I’m sure the pea plants will love it when they start to grow up.

Took a walk down Auchinstarry way again to see if there was the slightest chance the Humming Bird Hawk Moth would make another appearance, but it didn’t. The Ringlet butterflies were there in abundance though and that made up for the lack of the HBHM. Knee is still sore tonight although it wasn’t bothering me while I was walking. It’s either the walking or salsa that’s doing it, because I’ve deliberately avoided cycling since the last episode.

Salsa was interesting, I wasn’t needed for the Intermediate class, so I took the opportunity to get a June Ink sketch done. Today’s is of the staircase near Kelvin Bridge underground station. The escalator from the station up to street level is a boring plastic tube. The wrought iron staircase has real class and gravitas. Also, the old railway bridge under Great Western Road is very elegant too.  Today’s salsa moves were Agamemnon and El Yaco

Early rise tomorrow, so I better stop there. One last day of sunshine before the rains come. At least it’s a bit cooler tonight.

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Sunny Skies – 18 June 2017

Sunday was a lazy day. Really, it was too hot to be anything else, and after our late night on Saturday a lazy day was called for. Scamp was doing some tidying in the garden and I was just footering around. Although I did prepare dinner which was also a lazy meal: Chicken Tagine. Just fry the onions and the chicken in the Le Creuset (other makes are available) add the spices, some chopped dates, dried apricots, orange juice and water then bung in the oven for a couple of hours.

After lunch I went for a walk down the canal leaving Scamp to garden and keep an eye on the tagine. Walked along the canal, across the plantation and onto the railway road then back to Auchnstarry. That’s where I found the lovely wee dog rose. Got passed by two guys on scrambler bikes, one, just a boy seemed amused that I was a photographer. He seemed to want his photo taken, but I had two extension tubes on the camera and I didn’t really want a macro of his face. Should probably just have taken it. He’d never know. The other guy, maybe his dad was a lot more sensible and just gave me a wave as he passed. Such a lovely day to be out walking in your shirt sleeves.

When I got back, I’d just missed JIC, so I phoned him back and we compared temperatures and had a quick catch up. Then I let him go to prepare his barbecue. Hope it worked out well J. You’ll see his card on the left above. Don’t know where he gets his sarcasm from! Hazy’s is on the right with your recommended text alteration. Hope you approve H.

We couldn’t decide whether to go to Sunday Social or not. We’d been out late dancing on Saturday. We’d have usual salsa class on Monday. Can we be bothered? Will we, won’t we? Eventually we decided; stuff it, let’s go. Driving this time. We’ve learned our lesson with trains.

Got parked no problem and had a great time at Arta. I’m beginning to like it. It’s more ‘grown up’ than The Garage. It’s just a bit dark and gloomy. Danced with four girls as well as Scamp! Feeling the effects of it now on my knees. Chicken Tagine was voted good by the Cumbersheugh jury, but both of us agreed that it was too sweet. Less fruit next time.

Preparing for another hot day tomorrow.

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A clean bill of health – 14 June 2017

Out to the docs this morning for the results of my blood test. Everything was fine. The sister asked me if I keep active. I said I did, but didn’t tell her about the wee man on my wrist who pops up every day at ten minutes to the hour and encourages me to “Go for a stroll”.

Scamp and I went to lunch at Cotton House, Chinese / Thai restaurant. We were pretty sure we’d get a table, but went early, just in case. We were only the second couple there when we went in, but by the time we were leaving around 1pm the place was 75% full. Very popular is Cotton House. We were boring today and had Spring Rolls to start and then Chicken Chow Mein.

On the way home we went to B&Q for yet more garden stuff and other odds and ends and that’s where I saw and captured the bronze beetle, shining in the sun.

When we got back Scamp noticed that Hazy had phoned and we talked for nearly an hour about this and that. It was good to have a wee chat while Scamp laboured hard cutting the front grass.

Salsa tonight was a bit low key with very few beginners in the first class and not enough girls in the second. Shannon had to encourage a few of the girls from her class to join in, but that wasn’t really fair because they weren’t experienced enough to enjoy the moves. I think there will be a few classes combining in the next few weeks. It always happens in the summer.

Watched an interesting documentary about Billy Connolly being painted and photographed to celebrate his 75th birthday. Worth a watch on iPlayer.

Today’s sketch is a W&N Indian Ink bottle. I like it because of the highlights that make it look like glass.

Tomorrow is Coffee with Fred day, while Scamp goes galavanting to Falkirk.

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Early Start – 7 June 2017

Woke around 5.30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Finally decided there was nothing else for it but to get up and go out for a walk.

Put on wellies to protect me from marauding beasties especially ticks and took a walk around St Mo’s. Light was good, but there wasn’t much wildlife about. I did catch a glimpse of a deer. but it was too far away and I was making far too much noise to get anywhere near it.  What I did get were a selection of contre-jour shots (against the light) of flowers and greenery coated in raindrops.  The rain had been very heavy during the night although it was bright, sunny and windy today.

Came home and had breakfast, then we headed off to Wishaw General to get Scamp’s arm looked at.  Thankfully, there were no more moles to be found, so all was well.  We both had other commitments today, so we just drove home.  I chose to take the M8, just to make sure I could find the correct turn-off for Stirling.  We found it, but it sort of sneaks up on you with a very short slip road.

After lunch I had a coffee date with Val and Fred.  Apparently it’s too late for us to launch the Auld Guys Party for the General Election tomorrow, but if we had, I’m sure we’d win.  Our party pledges include free beer for the over 65s, paid for by the under 65s.  My revolutionary new voting system where the winner wins and the losers have to work for a living was unanimously carried.  Anyone found or admitting to lying in their promises (present company excepted) would be summarily executed.  Oh yes, and free coffee for all.  What’s not to like there?

Went to beginners Salsa tonight to support Irene who was taking Jamie G’s class.  Overall she did a good job, once she got her timing sorted and started shouting out the moves.  She’ll do well once she gets a bit more experience in this teaching game.

Today’s PoD is Buttercups, the gardener’s delight and today’s sketch is another ink / watercolour sketch of fruit.  Pear and Orange this time.

Tomorrow the rain is coming, although our wee old weather station is predicting sun.  I think that’s unlikely, but we’ll wait and see.

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Sew, Sew Good – 31 May 2017

Today we woke to sunshine and it lasted all day, although rain is forecast just before midnight.  I’m hoping to be in bed by then, though, because I’ve been going to bed in the wee small hours for the past few days.

I had an appointment at John Lewis this afternoon for a guided tour round my sewing machine, not actually mine, by the same model.  The lesson took just under 45 minutes and I did learn a lot, like when and why you use stretch stitches, how to make button holes and how to clear that annoying birds nest I always get when I finish a row.  Simply.  Glad I signed up for it.

Before the lesson we had tea and a sandwich in the cafe at JL.  Such a lovely view up Sausage Roll Street from the JL building.  As Scamp said, you don’t appreciate the architecture from street level.

Walked down Bucky Street along Argyll Street and back up Queen Street and that’s where I saw my PoD.  Like I said in the Flickr description: “Saw the photo and knew the title before I took it.”  The man in the High Castle.  It was taken with the Teazer and I’m very pleased with it.

Back home for dinner, then we were out again to Salsa.  Great fun in the beginners’ class watching their faces when Jamie G showed them tonight’s surprise move (Sombrero) and told them they had just over 3 minutes to perfect it before they would dance it, but dance it they did and very well too.  There’s a time to be cautious and a time for just going for it and tonight they threw caution to the winds.  Great class, great fun.  Advanced class did Tornado which is Scamp’s favourite move of all time.  It was great to go over it again slowly and get the timing just right.  Sometimes I just bomb through it and it becomes a bit clumsy.  It was nice to see it with all its hard edges, clean and tidy.

Tomorrow?  Looks like rain.  Don’t know what we’re doing.

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Under the Knife – 24 May 2017

This morning began early with me taking the Megane to the garage to have its water leak investigated. By lunchtime it had been confirmed that the problem was a hole in the radiator. It had to stay in overnight and is scheduled for an operation tomorrow with a replacement radiator being fitted. Scamp’s dad would simply have repaired the radiator, because that was his job. Now they just replace them. More expense.

Didn’t do much for the rest of the day until I was coaxed out for a walk by Scamp, not that she was coming with me, oh no, she was watching the final of MasterChef on catch-up. One thing I did do was work out how to use Mail Drop on the Mac. Very clever way of sending large (> 50MB) files to someone. I should make more use of it.

Walked over St Mo’s and got some photos of spiders and dandelion clocks (a must for photogs every year). Still using the Teazer and getting more used to it.

Had to drive Scamp’s car to Salsa tonight, but luckily the traffic was light and we made it with no problem. Salsa itself was fun. Beginners were experiencing the thrill of Exhibela. Advanced class was pretty small, but we covered La Cuadra, Tresario Doble, Cubaa Se. We also tried one of the most exasperating moves, La Confusion where the leaders become followers and vice versa. So well named. No Salsa on Monday, so we have to wait a week for our next fix.

Tomorrow? Scamp has coffee in the morning with Shona and I have coffee just after lunch with Fred and Val. Then hopefully we have to pick up the car.

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Tying up loose ends – 22 May 2017

It’s a Monday and a day for tying up loose ends.

In the morning I started the tidy up of the back bedroom, not for any particular reason but just because I can’t find anything and if I can’t find things, then it must be bad. With that part accomplished (it’s a big job, so part accomplished is good) I had lunch and admired my tidier room.

Ok, one task (part) completed. Now as Gems were gathering I made my second prototype of the tablet holder, this time from foam cored card. It was much more stable than version one. However, as I was making it I thought of a totally different and maybe better one. That’s how products should be developed. None of this investigation nonsense. It may look good on paper, but until you start modelling it, you won’t know if it’s possible without Quantum Mechanics. If in doubt search out M C Escher’s sketches. Anyway, it works.

Before Gems got into full swing, I made my escape to tick off tasks Two and Three. Booked my ‘fasting bloods test’ with the accompanying follow up review. Walked up the slippery blue slope to the library and, by returning my books, ticked off the last task. Done

With all the work done, I drove down to Dullater to walk a different bit of the Forth & Clyde canal. After a couple of hundred yards the rain came teeming down and I headed for the car after getting a few photos with the Teazer. Next stop was a little garden centre to get some veg to plant in the raised bed. Got a tray of lettuce plants for a bargain price. First time I’ve been there. I’d tell you where it was, but it’s called Teddy’ Secret Nursery and it wouldn’t be a secret if I told everyone where it was, would it? Enough to say that it is quite ‘compact and bijou’.

Going out to salsa tonight, I noticed some yellow, slippery liquid under the front of the car. I’d noticed the same liquid earlier in the afternoon, but wasn’t sure if it had been there when I parked the car last night. Twice is too much of a coincidence. Dipped my finger in the liquid and touched it to my tongue and it had that strange sweet taste of anti-freeze. Checked the radiator overflow tank and it was low. It may be ok, but I doubt it. Looks like my car will be having a wee trip to the car hospital soon. Salsa was difficult. I just couldn’t manage to do anything right. The only way to fix it is to practise, practise, practise. Tomorrow.

Today’s PoD is a macro of a tulip flower with raindrops. Taken with the Oly 5.

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Paisley Pattern – 21 May 2017

It was a lazy Sunday with a late start.  I thought we could could go down the Green for a walk, but the rain put an end to that idea.

Started making a mock-up of the stand for the tablet and got a fairly stable version after a few iterations.  Next step is the prototype.  At least that’s what I remember of the Design & Make method … or maybe it’s the prototype first then it’s the mock-up.  I never did work it out.  In fact, I don’t ever remember actually using the design method, but I was happy to teach others that it solved all their problems.  It doesn’t.

Took a walk over St Mo’s later with the Teazer and the ’50 as backup.  This might be my holiday setup if the Teazer starts to cut the mustard.  So far, it’s a hit and a miss.  It’s a nice light little camera with a long zoom.  The CCD is the problem, it’s just too small, but I have to ignore that, stop ‘pixel-peeping’ (that means examining every shot at 100% magnification) and look, really LOOK at the finished result, because after all that is the what I and everyone else will want to see.

After I got back from my photographic sojourn, it was time to get ready to dance.  Today we were going to the uncharted wilds of Paisley.  The last time I was in Paisley, I was driving a hired box van to do a flitting for you, JIC.  That was many years ago.  Checking the height and width of the van against the size of the arch leading to the flat you and Andy were renting.  Anyway, I digress, as I usually do.  We got the train from Croy to Queen Street and then another from Central to Paisley Gilmour Street and walked to La Rambala restaurant.  It was much smaller than our usual Sunday Social floor, but it felt comfortable and the smells from the Spanish restaurant that made up the other half of the building were good.  We’ll go back again and next time we’ll have tapas before dancing.

The train home was full of drunk Sellic supporters fresh from the win against Hearts, a sort of second-hand derby, a cross country derby.  Drove back from the station in sunshine, which was nice.

Today’s PoD is of a tree climbing snail from St Mo’s.  The answer is ‘Because they’re there’  You know the question.

Two little sketches to get the ‘one sketch a week’ thing up to date.  The relation is obvious.  They’re both cameras, in fact, they’re both TZs separated by about nine years which is an age in digital cameras.

Tomorrow it’s Library and Health Centre then dancing at night hopefully with a wee bit of photography in between, DV as always.

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The All Clear – 17 May 2017

Today we went in to the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow to find the result of the biopsy on Scamp’s arm after the initial mole had been removed. This was the ‘big bite’ they were testing and the result was that no more cancerous cells had been found. The all clear that we were hoping for.

We drove to Cambuslang Road to a little dance-shoe shop where Scamp got herself, not one, but two pairs of dancing shoes to celebrate. Then after a coffee in a Costa in Tesco (never seen that before) we drove home, but on the way we stopped off to get the ice creams we were denied last night. They were put away in the freezer to wait for a suitable time – maybe tomorrow night.

After lunch I went out for a walk down the Luggie and got the above PoD of a Wood Avens, at least, that’s what I think it is. Watched a buzzard being mobbed by a couple of crows and nearly, oh so nearly nabbing one of them for dinner.

Driving in to Salsa tonight was a nightmare. I believe twenty two men were rushing around a park, chasing a ball and a couple of thousand folk were either cheering them on or heaping their derision upon them. It’s called Sport and that’s why the M8 became a car and bus park for an hour. Salsa was good. Beginners were doing Dile Que No and the ‘advanced’ were doing Tresario Dos then La Cunada after I managed to get it playing on my phone over WiFi from my NAS drive. Technology is wonderful when everything hooks up perfectly (on that one day a year).

Tomorrow? Maybe going in to Glasgow – Still wondering about that TZ 70. Should be called Teazer 70.