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.

Dancing all the day – 2 June 2019

Well, that’s what it felt like anyway!

Spoke to Hazy for a while in the morning and discussed the first part of Good Omens that we’d both watched. Agreed that it was good to see they were sticking fairly faithfully to the book so far. While we were on the phone my replacement batteries for the new camera arrived. After we’d finished speaking to London, I charged up the first battery. It seems like it had a part charge in it because it only took about half an hour to fully charge using USB. The second one took a little longer. When I exchanged a new battery with the one that came with the camera, I noticed that Made in Japan actually read Made in japan. That was one of the signs that the battery is a fake. The second check is the misspelling of the word ‘explode’ in the warning section. The ‘Olympus’ battery had it spelled as ‘explose’. This was looking like a complete fake. The third and final test is to check the weight of the battery. A ‘real’ Olympus battery weighs around 52gms. A fake one around 35gms. The ‘Olympus’ battery weighed 39gms. A pretty comprehensive case for disposing of the fake battery, safely of course. Just in case it does ‘explose’!

Did a tiny wee bit of gardening, since the weather was much nicer that had been predicted for today.  We even had some sunshine later in the morning and it was warm.  I just potted up a Meconopsis which Scamp had bought me last week. I’ve always liked the lovely blue, papery flowers, but Scamp doesn’t. That’s why she bought one for me instead of for herself. Today I gave it some room to grow in a bigger pot. I’m sure it will like the space. The garden was where I got today’s PoD of the little bee dangling form a ‘Nancy Pretty’ flower. You may know it as London’s Pride, but my mum always called it Nancy Pretty and that’s what it will always be to me. Still finding out things about the new toy. The amazing and dazzling amount of buttons and dials for one thing and the clever little touches in its operating system.

Drove in to Glasgow to have a go at dancing Jive to a real rock ’n’ roll band. We did manage one song then the band played ‘Tequila’ so we just had to dance salsa to that. After the session was finished, we had another hour before the real salsa started, so we went for a walk up Byres Road and found out that today was the official start of the West End Festival which apparently is second only to Nottinghill in size in the UK. We thought we’d missed the procession, but after checking tonight, it seems that there was no procession this year again. Maybe it takes too much organising or maybe it’s difficult to close such a busy road to traffic for a full day. Who knows. It just didn’t happen. We walked round the edge of the celebrations in Ashton Lane then walked back to the Record Factory to get ready for another hour and a half’s salsa dancing. Met a few folk we hadn’t seen for ages and danced with a few beginners. Left after an hour and a half because I was worn out.

Storm winds and heavy rain forecast for tomorrow and Gems are here for the last practise before the summer break. Don’t know where I’ll go.

The day that the rains came – 29 May 2019

… and forgot to go away.

It wasn’t the best of days. Like I said at the top, the rains came and forgot to go away. I don’t suppose it mattered really as we weren’t intending to go anywhere except to Glasgow for dancing in the afternoon and then again in the evening. The furthest I was past the door was a quick trot round the block to achieve my 250 steps every hour. It was on one of those circuits I found the little Glass Bead Plant growing on the wall at the back of the house. Of course it was really a moss with raindrops clinging to the fruiting bodies, but some people will be avidly searching Google for Glass Bead Plants as I write this! It got PoD.

Drove in to Glasgow and ticked off another 250 odd steps on our walk down to Blackfriars for Jive, Quickstep and Cha-Cha. We made a few mistakes still, but not as many as last week, thankfully. It was almost a private lesson again as the class started out with three couples, then two were spirited away to learn the stuff that we already knew, that left us to the tender mercies of Michael. Worked on another part of the Over the Rainbow routine and then did some work on our Quickstep and in between we tackled the dreaded ‘off beat’ Cha-Cha. Totally drained, we went for coffee (no cake) and then drove home in the rain.

Scamp drove in to Glasgow tonight and we danced with the intermediate class and the beginners who are getting through the moves at quite a pace now. Thankfully the Tipsy Ladies were not in class tonight, so it was much more bearable than last week.

Today’s sketching topic was A Knife or a Sword. I suppose I could have found a sword somewhere in the town. Some areas of Cumbersheugh are awash with them on a Friday night … allegedly! However, I resisted that temptation and settled on drawing my old Swiss Army knife. It’s been sharpened so many times, the blade is a completely different shape from when it was new. It was my tool of choice for sharpening pencils. So much more efficient than a pencil sharpener. Unfortunately, the world has moved on and it’s now illegal to carry this useful tool.

Tomorrow looks like being much like today, weather wise, so I doubt if we’ll be going far.

Private Dancer – 22 May 2019

Well, almost. More like a private lesson for the normal price.

Because Wednesdays are such a rush, in the morning I got started on the sketch for the day. I’d taken a photo of the playpark last week and only had to transfer it to the tablet upstairs using Dropbox. While I was drawing, the gardener was planting in the new bed under the back window. Her final decision was to plant the green spotty plant and a couple of others in the space we had, then add some lower level primulas which we had split up yesterday. By the time she was finished, I had laid down the ink outline and it was lunch time. When I checked my email I found that Jamie G would be in Embra today. That would put paid to Salsa tonight.

After lunch we drove in to Glasgow to dance some Jive. It turned out that we were the only couple there for our level and had Michael’s undivided attention, which meant he’d catch every mistake we made, and we made a few. However, although we didn’t learn any new moves, we cleared up and cleaned up a lot of the ones we did know. Quickstep followed Jive and the same thing happened. Little things that we knew we were doing wrong were spotted and corrected. We’ve a lot of practise ahead of us this week.

While we were walking along Ingram Street, a wee man stopped in front of us and started photographing the glass building with his phone. We had a chat about the reflections on the building and the great shape of the curves. I took a few shots myself because the reflections looked so good today. I’d just switched the camera off when a seagull passed along the face of the building and the glass facets picked it up and multiplied its reflections so it looked like a flock of seagulls … and my camera was off! I must try and get that shot again. It looked lovely in my mind’s eye. PoD became the reflections on the building minus seagull! After a coffee we drove home.

Back home I started adding colour to the sketch and although it looks ok, it’s not as fresh as it could be. Overworked, I think. It was after dinner time when I checked on Facebook that I found the update from Jamie G to say that he’d make it back for class after all. That was a bummer, especially as there isn’t a class on Monday because of the bank holiday. That means our next class will be next Wednesday. Oh well, these things happen.

Tomorrow Scamp is meeting Shona for coffee and then I think we may go out for lunch.

Plants and plans – 20 May 2019

We went to visit Torwood Garden Centre today as Scamp had found a small square in the garden that would support one more plant.

A fairly early rise for me to go and post a parcel, then get some blood taken for my annual health check next week. Checked with the hospital about my prostate appointment and found that I’d been mistaken about the time and it was actually well in hand. More bloods needed to be taken for that too! Heavens I’ll be like a pin cushion this month!

After lunch we drove to Falkirk to the garden centre. Actually I wanted some peas for the raised bed as my previous two plantings have been growing downwards instead of up or something, because they weren’t showing their little green heads. Not in the raised bed where two lots were planted and not in the pots in the greenhouse where two lots were planted. Got some today. Not a named variety, just labelled Garden Peas. Scamp bought a big green plant with spotted leaves. Looks the part and will bring some colour to a dull part of the garden that gets little or no sun.

When we came home, she unveiled her plans for a long raised bed to be used as an edge to the front garden. It’s to run from the corner of the house out to the path. That’s a distance of about 4.5m and about “That wide” she indicated with two hands. I’m actually more used to working with numbers. It makes it much easier when you’re buying lengths of timber and also when you’re cutting them to size. I’ve found in the past that “That wide” can vary considerably with the length of a person’s arms. We may do some measuring and some drawing tomorrow.

Today’s PoD was the wee 2cm viola which is flowering in a plant pot. Tiny wee thing.

Today’s sketch took ages and I’m still not happy with it. Topic was Some Sweets and I chose liquorice allsorts. It took about four tries before I got something resembling them. No time left to do anything else, so it had to do. Onward and upward.

Went dancing in the STUC and the new moves for the advanced class were “Spiral” and “Osco”. Both were interesting and both were doable with care. Beginners class were doing La Completa.

It was a day of ticking things off as we got them done. A good day.

Tomorrow we are both hoping to get our plants into the ground.

Out to lunch – 13 May 2019

Meeting Shona for lunch today.

First, though I took a trip to Bishopbriggs to get myself the shaver adaptor that caused the bother on Friday and also a card reader that would allow me to import the files from my Nikon CP950. The 950 is an ancient digital camera made in 1999 and is one of the best cameras for recording in infrared without adaptation. All you need to do is stick an R72 filter in front of it and shoot away as if it’s not there. An R72 filter is a very, very dark red. It’s so dark it looks totally opaque to the human eye. What it does is restrict almost all the visible light, only allowing through the light in the 720nm area of the spectrum, in other words, infrared. The great thing about infrared is that living green material is rendered as white and skies are black. Fake green ‘leaves’ like camouflage are rendered as black and it was this ability to differentiate fake from real that made it so important during WW2. I just wanted to do fancy stuff to the shots later in Photoshop, but since the CP950 uses Compact Flash memory cards and hardly anybody uses them now, it’s a bit of a problem getting the images into the computer. However, Currys had a card reader with CF capability, so that’s why I was up and out early to get one.

After that and after I’d salivated over the low resolution, but true infrared images, I went to meet Shona. I’d fitted a couple of locks for her in her flat and she was buying me lunch as a ‘Thank You’. We drove up to the new Milano Cafe where she had Spaghetti Carbonara and I had Spaghetti con Polpette ( meatballs). Her Carbonara looked the part, but the sauce in mine was a bit thin. Having said that, there was plenty on the plate and it was a good fun lunch.

Drove Shona home and then went out to get some photos in St Mo’s. Didn’t stay long as I had to exhibit my EDiM photos to Margie, because Gems were in the house today. Saw another red damselfly, a smaller one than yesterday’s, but it was too fast for me and I didn’t manage to capture it. I did get some IR shots with the CP950 which is held together with a heavy duty rubber band, because of a design flaw in the locking mechanism of the battery compartment. It was one of the IR photos that took PoD.

I’d already started on the sketch of the day whose topic was “Your favourite song”. My favourite song was “Raindogs” by Tom Waits and that’s what you see here. A Raindog.

Salsa tonight was energetic and exhausting. The completely new one was “Lotus”, with a reprise of “Lizzy” and “Stormtrooper”. I got the blame for Stormtrooper because the tee shirt I was wearing had a lego stormtrooper on it. Hazy must shoulder part of the blame for that because she’s the one who bought it for me!

Tomorrow looks like an interesting day with temperatures of 22ºc predicted! We may go out somewhere to celebrate.

Dancing – 8 May 2019

A dull, day with a cutting cold wind. If this is May, what will December bring?

I’d say Winter is Coming, but I haven’t a clue what that’s all about. Something to do with Games About Thrones, I believe.

We drove in to Glasgow today and danced Jive quite well. Learned The Bumps which were fun once you got the steps in your head. Got my Spin 5 sorted out properly and went over Kicksie which is mind bogglingly difficult for my feet to comprehend. In Quickstep I passed the test for Fishtails and the bit after Sway-Sway (I don’t know its name). All this was done under the tutelage of Anne Marie whose style was so much more relaxed than Michael’s

Came home in that cold wind again and started on a sketch for tonight’s EDiM topic which was “Broken Glass/Ice”. I’d downloaded a picture of a broken glass from a royalty-free site on the net and it looked like it would work. I’ll leave you to decide. At this point in proceedings I didn’t have a PoD and was running out of time (and light) to get one. After a bit of discussion with Scamp we decided not to go to Salsa tonight to allow me time to get everything completed on time. That took the pressure off and I grabbed some pics of flowers in the garden in the fading light. The Azalea at the top of the page is the result.

Finished the sketch and quite liked it. Used two thicknesses of pen for the lifework.

Tomorrow Scamp is booked to have her hair cut and I may go somewhere scenic and hopefully sunny to grab some photos.

Escher, Dancing and Good Light – 5 May 2019

Today’s challenge was “Your Favourite Artist”.

Where do you start? Who do you choose? Vincent Van Gogh would be a good place to start, then there would be Constable, Turner, Seurat, Durer. Closer to home there’s Peploe, or any of the Scottish Colourists. Plus of course The Glasgow Boys and Glasgow Girls. It could of course be a musician or a singer or anyone from any of the arts. I finally settled on MC Escher. Mainly because I like the range of his work, not just the Impossible Staircase (which is now attributed to Penrose) and the ever flowing Waterfall. His tessellation’s are amazing and his use of spherical perspective is great to look at, but almost impossible to replicate. That brings up the question of what do I do to represent him. I chose to try to work out how the Impossible Staircase was drawn. I found the answer in the repository of all things, YouTube. All human life is there … as well as a few things that most definitely are not human. What you see below is my attempt.

That was as much thinking and working as I did today. Well I did some lifting and carrying for Scamp in her ever increasing gardening exploits, trying her hardest to get the sun loving plants to the front of the house and those that prefer shade to the back. Today the Hydrangea was taken from the back to the front. Some things that are now at the front, like the tulips, will soon be moved to the back to rest after their flowering is over. For myself, I contented myself with planting some more peas because the first lot haven’t shown their little green heads. I remember Ann McPherson’s Maxim: Buying plant the plants at Easter that will die. Buy and plant the ones in May that will grow.” It works, you know. Especially if you live in Scotland.

Went dancing at the Record Factory this afternoon. Had a late lunch or an early dinner whatever you want to call it, it was fish ’n’ chips by the way at the venue and it was pretty good value. We may do that again. For some reason, nobody wanted to dance. We were first up on the floor and nobody joined us. The next two tracks were played and nobody got on their feet. Eventually people danced. It was a packed dance floor for a couple of hours then things started to fade off again. On the way to the car I got today’s PoD. Beautiful lighting on the Glasgow Uni tower, framed by a demolition crane!

Tomorrow we are in no rush to go out. No Gems and no Salsa at night. What will we do with our time?

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.

A day among the butterflies – 29 April 2019

Also a bit of portrait painting.

Scamp was out today for coffee with Isobel, that meant I had a few hours to myself. I chose to do some washing. The towels basket was overflowing, so it seemed a good idea to run them through a washing cycle while I was upstairs painting. Good time management. With the towels happily cavorting in the washing machine, I was free to spread some acrylic paint on a piece of paper. Happy with that, I moved on to the even messier and smellier oil paints. They may have both those negative properties, but they are buttery and lovely to paint with. I spent a happy hour or so wearing an old tee shirt and an old pair of jeans, slapping paint on to the paper. It’s still a work in progress, but it’s fun.

When Scamp returned we had lunch and then I drove to the garage to book the Micra in for MOT. After that, it was still a lovely sunny day, so I drove on down to Auchinstarry and went for a walk along the canal. Lots of other folk were down there too, most of them cycling. I crossed over the plantation and found that the dandelions were in full bloom and doing a roaring trade with the butterflies. Tortoiseshell butterflies were the biggest takers and it was one of them that made the PoD. Others I saw were Peacock with the round ’eyes’ looking like little targets on their wings and also the lovely little Orange Tip. So well named.

It really was a beautiful day, but it was soon time to come home and make the dinner. Tonight it was Penne with Tomato Ragu and Bacon. Quite tasty, but maybe just a little bit too salty and maybe a bit dry if you’re being picky and we’re always picky.

Salsa for the beginners tonight was the amazingly confusing Setenta y Cinco. For us advanced or “Rueda Club” it was “Sanza” and a twisty turny move with an
unpronounceable name that apparently came from Game of Thrones. I didn’t catch the name, but Catherine though it could be Tiramisu! Also reprised “Sequentia”. Really, really fast Rueda to finish off the night. Most enjoyable.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to go for beer and lunch with the Auld Guys.