Less than manic Monday – 18 March 2019

Broke the surface just after 8am, then promptly fell asleep soon after and didn’t rise until 11am.

Must have needed the sleep! Spoke to Hazy on the phone for a while, then my morning coffee mix of Cuban and Sumatran beans woke me up properly. Did a bit of sketching with Margie in the early afternoon before I got itchy feet and went out for a drive to find a PoD. I drove all round the locale before I found what I was looking for, accidentally.

I’d driven up the Whin Edge Brae, so called because of the whin (gorse) bushes that line it. I chose this location because the light on the hills looked as if it would be interesting. I thought I’d get a decent set of frames, from which I could build a panorama of the Campsies. It was while I was grabbing these images that I heard the skein of geese approaching. Finished the pano frames and then managed to frame the skein just above a spot of sunshine on the Campsie Fells. I’d like to say that they were flying south, but they were actually heading due west at the time. Just after I took the shot the whole group banked through 180º and turned due east and were last seen heading for Edinburgh, or Embra to give it its proper name. I’m guessing they were looking for a large enough field or loch to land and feed then rest for the night. I’m sure they knew where they were going.

Drove in to the STUC building tonight for Salsa and enjoyed taking the beginners through their paces with Balsero being the highlight of their night. The advanced class were a bit down on leaders, Jamie and I being the only two men there. Scamp had to stand in as a leader and managed to lead the new move, Prisma perfectly.

Tomorrow we may go the Stirling or Glasgow for some shopping and lunch.

Just another Sunday

No breakfast in bed this morning. There was an F1 GP to be watched.

Up and having breakfast in the living room just after 8am. Interesting GP, slightly spoiled by the fact that Leclerc wasn’t allowed to race against Vettel. Come on Ferrari, it’s called a ‘Race’. If you keep protecting spoilt child Vettel, he’ll actually believe he’s number 1 driver. Be afraid Seb, the Russians are coming in the shape of Kvyat. I’m pretty sure he’ll have you in his sights and team orders won’t mean much then. Still a pretty good race.

Spent most of the afternoon making preparations for the mid-week, then got fed up and went for a walk in the sunshine in St Mo’s. Got a glimpse of three deer, but not before they saw me. I got a few shots of them, but nothing worth PoD. That went to a shot of the male and female flowers on a larch. Such a pretty thing and I only noticed it for the first time last year.

We went to the last ever Sunday Social at La Rambla in Paisley. Great food again. Black Pudding with Chorizo in a Red Wine Sauce was the star. Second was the Patatas Gradtinatas. Like I said yesterday, I’ll miss the food, but not the service. Really, four people working the bar with only one customer. One person took the order, passed it over to another who worked the till (after a long consultation with the menu). Meanwhile the first person poured the drinks and the second person took the money. What were the other two doing? It was anyone’s guess. It’s closing soon, no surprise to us.

Salsa was well run as usual by Shannon. I must say that for her, she works hard at providing social salsa dancing in and around Glasgow. It wasn’t as busy as we thought it would be, but we did manage a couple of hours dancing which was fine for us.

Gems day tomorrow, so I’ll get out of the way.

How are the mighty fallen – 13 March 2019

Unlucky 13th?  It didn’t affect me, for once, well it did, but only marginally.

We drove in to Glasgow after lunch to show off our new-found confidence in Quickstep. They do say that pride comes before a fall or as the Bible has it: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Either way, that’s what happened. Michael, as usual picked us up on a few little things we were doing wrong in Jive, then proceeded to tell us we weren’t doing one of the moves correctly. That might have because you hadn’t taught us it yet, Michael! It’s no use arguing with him, because he uses his deafness as a shield and just ignores complaints. I’m not convinced he is as deaf as he makes out. I’m going to get him one of those ear shaped erasers from CassArt and give it to him as a present. Rubber Ear indeed.

Anyway, we survived Jive and also the ridiculousness of Rumba and Cha-Cha which start on beat 2. Whoever decided that was lacking in the numerical department. We waited impatiently for the Quickstep music to start because we knew we’d ace it after two hours of practise between Friday and Saturday. It was a disaster. For once it wasn’t me making the biggest mistakes, Scamp just couldn’t put a foot right. Now I know how she feels when I screw things up. A cup of coffee in Nero made things better. Drove home and Scamp made the dinner, but managed to drop her fried egg on the floor. Maybe she should have had a Large coffee in Nero!

Drove in to Glasgow for the 6.30 class. CITRAC claimed the time from Cumbersheugh to Glasgow Airport was 42mins (on a good night it’s less than 20). It looked like the motorway was going to be a carpark again. Fifteen minutes later we were in the STUC building. Why have a display system like CITRAC if it’s totally inaccurate? Anyway, the 6.30 class was great fun as was the 7.30 class, but as it is closing soon, the numbers were low, although the spirits were not! Maybe it was that, or a footbath to ease her feet, or maybe it was a stiff G ’n’ T that put the smile back on her face, but whatever it was, she’s gone off to her bed looking a lot more like herself.

Today’s PoD was taken outside the GOMA this afternoon. I think this one is much better.  It was taken near Duntulm on Skye last Saturday.

Tomorrow is a tying up loose ends day, I hope.

Minimal driving day – 11 March 2019

It was agreed that we wouldn’t be driving far today.

In fact we did very little today. Spoke to Hazy for a while and compared blue skies. Discussed gardens and Christmas plans, yes, Christmas plans already!

Started a wee bit of painting from Skye and in the style of one of the paintings I’d seen in the “Biscuit Tin”. Never quite got it finished because, as you’ve probably guessed today was the day for writing up the blog posts and posting the photos on Flickr. Put a pair of headphones on to drown out Gems and just got on with it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get round to finishing the painting and restarting the Apple Gallery.

Also grabbed a shot of one of Scamp’s sweet pea plants which is just forming its first ‘real’ leaves and that became PoD. That’s the result of being too lazy to go out. Tomorrow I must gee myself.

Salsa tonight was good fun as usual. Six thirty class has now moved on to level 2 and are Improvers. They were doing Enchufé tonight. In the advance class at 7.30 the ‘new’ old move was Swish along with the others we’d been doing last week.

That’s about it. Tomorrow we’re going for the ‘messages’. Wild weather forecast.

A much brighter day – 9 March 2019

Ah, this was more like it. Today we’d drive round the top.

Bright sunshine with just the prospect of a few showers too to keep us honest. Drove down the drive and turned left. Found this interesting PoD at Duntulm. Taken with a wide angle lens it almost looks like a panorama. The light was kind to us me for once and showed up the textures nicely. It also shows the remoteness of the landscape. I was looking for a new road to travel, but couldn’t find one that looked interesting, so we just continued to Uig, but when we got there the weather closed in again and we didn’t stop. We just continued on our way round to Portree.

We’d seen Portree yesterday and I doubted that there was much more to hold our interest, so after getting some fuel we drove down to Slighachan then on to the Fairy Pools on the Glenbrittle road. Unfortunately the brand new carpark looked full and at £5 flat fee was a bit expensive for what it was. We turned and drove back to Portree where we had lunch in Aros. For once I had a decent toast there. Bacon and Mushroom. I must remember that if we’re ever there again. Usually everything is slathered in heavy, oily cheese but this was just what the description said. Coffee was great too – it always is. Scamp wasn’t so impressed with her Tuna melt which seemed to be more melt than tuna. Such a pity after mine being so good.

Drove back to Staffin and went for another dancing practise. This time we filmed it to see how we looked when we were dancing. Learned a lot, especially that our posture isn’t as good as we thought. Also we must remember to look forward or to the side, not at our feet. We even entertained Jackie and Mairi with our waltz steps. They were kind enough not to laugh!

Scamp went back with Jackie and I drove down to the slip to get some moody sea shots. Couldn’t quite manage to find the right subjects. Saw this woman laying out what looked like a rolled up canvas on the ground behind the boat sheds and holding it down with rocks. Later I found out she is the Dutch landowner. At least that’s what Jackie and Murdo think after hearing my description of her. Finally got some shots from the ‘beach’ and I might, just might have seen the famous dinosaur’s footprints.

Home for dinner and to prepare for tomorrow’s journey back down the road.

A Grey Day – 8 March 2019

A good day for dancing the greys away.

It was too dull a day for taking the Juke round the top end, so we just drove through the rain down to Portree, the big city. We headed for Jan’s Vans. A real find in Portree. Jan’s Vans is really just a big hardware store. Nothing fancy, but everything from a needle to an anchor. I’ve never actually seen any anchors in there, but I’m sure if you looked long enough you’d find one. We really were there for lunch, because it’s decent grub. Certainly not anything fancy, just good food. After lunch we went for a look round the shop part of the establishment and found lots of interesting and cheap stuff. Laces for my dancing shoes, memory foam insoles for the same. Bottle brushes that Scamp had been searching for everywhere. We passed on the ride-on mower for £2400 because it would be difficult to get it home. I suppose we could have ridden it, but it wouldn’t have been a comfortable journey.

We had a look in Skye Batiks to see if they’d any nice shirts. They did have, but not at a nice price. £50 for a short sleeved shirt is a bit expensive for me. A quick trip to the newsagent’s and that was it for Portree. We headed back up the road through the rain showers. Scamp had arranged with her sister that we could book the hall in her outdoor centre for an hour or so of dance practise. It was indeed a good idea and we got some useful dancing practise in and I grabbed PoD which was taken from one of the windows onto the wild Skye landscape.

Back home and after dinner we had a fair bit of excitement when the chimney in the house caught fire and the fire brigade had to called. As it’s a volunteer group the men had to be assembled and driven up to the house in their brand new fire engine. It didn’t take much more than fifteen minutes and the fire was out by the time they arrived, but it was quite a worrying time. The guys were really efficient and put everyone’s mind at rest when they checked the chimney and the wall with their heat sensitive camera. Later we managed to settle down with a G&T for some and a dram for others to calm us down. It will be talk of the township tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for better weather and less excitement.

A better dancing day – 6 March 2019

At least for me.

The day started with Scamp visiting Tesco and me attempting an apple portrait in pastel. That didn’t work, so I tried again in watercolour. That wasn’t much better, so I left it, hoping to complete it after we came back from Blackfriars.

Drove in to Glasgow through torrential rain and then when we walked out of the multi-storey carpark, the sun came out. In the jive class, for most of the time I was doing well. Certainly a good deal better than last week, but that wouldn’t be difficult. Today it was Scamp who was making a few mistakes. A most unusual situation for her. In quickstep we both made bloomers, but I think I made the most. As usual, our first dance was great. We even managed to complete the fishtails without tripping over one another and then it all went to pieces. Waltz was just one disaster after another. Yes, in retrospect Jive was the highlight of the ballroom day.

Came home and planted the chestnuts that I’d gathered up in the autumn. Planted them in some papier mache egg boxes and put them in the little greenhouse. Hopefully they’ll sprout and I’ll be able to plant them out in their little biodegradable pots in St Mo’s. Back where most of them came from. While I was in the garden I grabbed today’s PoD. It’s one of a host of crocuses that have taken over one of Scamps containers. Yes, I’ve changed my mind. Croci sounds too arty farty. I think Crocuses is more down to earth.

I attempted to repair this morning’s apple portrait, but it just wasn’t working so I left it and went to tend to my beef olives which were to be my dinner with some potatoes. Scamp was having ‘Rats’ with potatoes instead. My olives were really tasty, but Scamp complained that her Rats were too salty. That’s when I remembered that I’d completely forgotten to salt my beef olives. Still, it didn’t seem to spoil the taste at all.

Salsa at night was fun and furious in the first class and dull in the second. I think this was mainly because the second class was so small and the participants were not all that bright, apart from Scamp and myself of course! Anyway, the class is closing soon and I think most of them are going to merge into the 6.30 class.

While we were watching ‘Shetland’ tonight I picked up an apple and started to eat it. Scamp asked me if I had sketched it first and when I said I’d started a drawing upstairs in the morning she looked very disapproving, so I grabbed a sketch book and drew the offending article. Tried painting it too, but the warm room lighting made colour evaluation too difficult, so I gave that up. The sketch got Scamp’s approval and I got to eat the remainder of the apple.

Tomorrow up early for a change.

Going our separate ways – 4 March 2019

I took the chance to slip the leash today, for a little while.

Scamp had the second gig of the year at Stepps and, as she didn’t need a roadie so I set off early to visit a new camera shop in Glasgow. The satnav lady knew where it was and got me there without a problem. They didn’t have the tripod I was looking for, but I didn’t really think they would have. It’s rather a niche model and I’ve read conflicting reports about it. I just wanted to have a look at it first hand before I parted with a hundred smackeroonies. The bloke in the shop couldn’t have been less interested:

“Do you have a Benbo Trekker tripod?”
”No. You have to order them from the website.”
“It’s just that I’d rather see it to make sure it will do what I want before I commit myself to buying it.”
”Yeah.”

Obviously not going for salesman of the month then?

Drove back in the general direction of Home using the satnav again. Because of the one-way system return was not the reverse of going, in this case, but the satnav lady knew this too. Once I was on the M8 heading roughly east I switched the satnav lady off and let her go back to sleep. Drove past Home and onward to Stirling where I turned off and took the back road up and over the Tak Ma Doon road, stopping near Loch Coulter to grab some shots to make a panorama later and also a grab shot of the straight road that looks as if it goes all the way to the Ochil Hills. The panorama became PoD. From there it was a lovely run in the springlike sunshine all the way home. Piece ’n’ flat sausage for my lunch and then after I’d dumped the images on the computer, I started today’s apple picture. It looks reasonable and hopefully you’ll be able to check my progress (or regress) soon on the website when I post the first seven. It’s an enjoyable task the painting and drawing of the apples, or at least it has been so far. May even branch out into ink or acrylic later. For just now it’s basically pencil and watercolour.

When Scamp came home I made a delicious tuna pasta. I say ‘delicious’, because we both agreed it was. Don’t know what I did differently this time, but I think it may have been some posh tomato concentrate. Must look for more of it the next time we’re buying Tesco.

Energetic beginners class in STUC and an advanced class where I couldn’t put a foot right. Every move a disaster. Even worse, I knew most of the moves. Just couldn’t get the moves into my head right. I think I just need to think less and go with the flow some times. Must practise Agamemnon this week to get rid of the rough edges. Still lots of laughs.

Tomorrow we have a free day. I think we may be going plant hunting again, although the weather looks rough. We’ll wait and see.

Angry old man – 3 March 2019

Scamp wanted some messages. Didn’t know it would turn into WW3.

The messages were bought and loaded into the Juke. Was reversing out of the space when I noticed in my parking camera display that somebody else across the road was doing the same. Braked and started to drive back into my space, only just not fast enough for the other driver and his bumper gave mine a little kiss. Drove in to the space properly and got out to have a look. That’s when the other driver shouted “Did you just reverse into me?” I just laughed and said, “No you reversed into me, I was trying to get out of your way.” I looked at the damage and it was almost invisible on the Juke and nothing at all on his. Then he went absolutely ballistic! Shouting and bawling that he had started reversing first and I was an <expletives deleted> idiot. All the while walking backwards to get back into his car. Mr Angry indeed. I was a bit worried that he’d turn green, burst out of his shirt and start throwing the cars about, but he didn’t. He just got back in and I allowed him to be first and to reverse out. I did give him a warning blast on the Juke Horn as he as getting near. He was very careful after that. I bet he would have fun parking at Cumbersheugh Theatre!

After that excitement, we had lunch. That curry last night had given me heartburn during the night and I was careful not to have too much fatty stuff today. No black pudding, no bacon. Just sausages and an egg. Very restrained. After that I went for a walk in St Mo’s and got today’s PoD which is a couple of gorse flowers. Definite signs of spring are appearing although the weather fairies are predicting possible snow showers this week.

We decided we’d try out Shannon’s new Sunday Social venue which is the Record Factory at the bottom of Byres Road. I was a bit concerned about parking in the West End as it is usually expensive, even on a Sunday after 6pm whereas in the centre of town it is free. I needn’t have worried. All the parking spaces, and there were lots of them, were free on a Sunday. We actually got there early and found a seat no problem. It was a fairly large dance floor, but only half of it was wooden, the other half was tiled concrete. Once the music started the floor filled up quite quickly and time flew by. We left about 8pm because we still hadn’t had dinner. Quite impressed with the new venue. Let’s hope it becomes a regular twice monthly event. It felt like the old venues we’ve had for Sunday Socials and there were lots of folk we hadn’t seen in years.

Tomorrow Scamp has a Gems gig, but doesn’t need a roadie, so I may go for a run in to Glasgow to look at a tripod.

Just dancing once today – 27 February 2019

Just Michael’s class today, but that was enough for me.

Scamp was out for coffee with Annette this morning. Before she went she noticed we’d missed a phone call from Hazy yesterday, so I phoned her back and we had a long chat about stuff, just stuff, families and friends. For once we didn’t talk about books, so just incase you were wondering Hazy, I’m trying desperately to finish All The Birds In The Sky I notice you gave it four stars on Goodreads. I’m afraid my rating will be considerably lower!

Next on the list of To Do tasks was to get started on today’s sketch while the house was quiet. After a couple of false starts, I did achieve a likeness of an apple and that’s what you can see here. I decided to stick to a monochrome pencil sketch. I used a nice cheap school pencil. It’s an Impega No 2.5 HB. Just goes to show that the quality of the equipment has less of a bearing on the finished article than you’d imagine. I really need to practise these simple objects. Curved objects. I’m happy with my ability to draw objects with straight lines. Curves are the killer.

When Scamp came back we had lunch and drove in to Glasgow to Michael’s class. Jive was not a problem apart from a bit of brain fade by me. Rumba I will never get used to. The nonsense of not using beat one, starting on beat two instead is beyond me. Why make it more difficult than it needs to be? I’m sure some people will just smile and say it makes perfect sense (eh Scamp?), but I don’t hold with that belief. Beat one is there for a reason. Use it! Cha-Cha? Just Rumba with a wee shuffle in the middle. Equally pointless. You can see this is going downhill now, can’t you? You’d be right. We’d practised Quickstep at home last night and we’d practised it again today while the advanced Jivers were doing their stuff. When we were asked to do it on the dance floor it was a disaster. We didn’t even get as far as the running step, the fishtails which had worked so well half an hour before were more like fish paste! Back to the drawing board for quickstep. Maybe next week …

Coffee and a visit to CassArt put a smile back on my face.  After that we drove home and I managed an hour in St Mo’s to get today’s PoD which took a fair bit of post-processing.  Dinner tonight was roast veg risotto and it was lovely.  I squirted some lemon juice in at the end with a bit of lemon rind too and it lifted it.

No dancing tonight because the lady ‘teacher’ was reputedly taking the class!

Tomorrow is free, the last day of 28 Drawings Later.  Such a pity, it’s been a PITA and it’s been fun too.