The Web – 11 June 2018

I had an appointment with the nurse today to review my blood results. Never much fun.

Before that I was booked to drive Scamp to the hospital for what turned out to be her last appointment. She’s now officially signed off.

After I dropped her back at the house, I grabbed my new shoes and took them for a run to Glasgow Fort to return them or exchange them for a half size bigger. Got there to find it wasn’t a Clarks outlet store, so they couldn’t process them. If you Google “Clarks outlet stores Glasgow” the map shows three pins. One of which is The Fort. If I’d read the text I’d have discovered it wasn’t an outlet. Why is the pin there on a map showing Outlet stores? Don’t know. The manager wasn’t that helpful, he just kept telling he “I don’t do the web”. Almost like “I don’t do drugs”. Maybe he should “Do the web”. (Maybe he should do drugs too.) What he should do is work on his customer skills. He just wanted to wash his hands of me and told me I should write to The Web and complain that they were showing the wrong information. Does anyone know the address for The Web? Maybe I just write my complaint on vellum, put it in an envelope, seal it with sealing wax and address it to:

The Web
Internet Land
The World

I should write to Clarks and suggest they give this man a computer and a modem then get someone to sit down with him and explain what Tim Berners-Lee invented. I bet he doesn’t even have electricity in his house. You should go to Clarks in The Fort, ask for the manager and say “Hi. You don’t know me, I’m The Web.”

Drove home blazing, but not quite incandescent. I didn’t know then that I was on the wrong. That’s when the incandescence started. Calmed down when Scamp left to go to Marjie’s Afternoon Tea. Sat and drew a face or two from Croquis Cafe. Just to show that I’d done some homework for Wednesday.

Saw the nurse and she reassured me that my stats were ok. Nothing to worry about, and she was very impressed JIC, that you’d convinced me I had to take paracetamol for about a week before I’d see any improvement. The problem with my knee is most likely a torn ligament. Painful, but not serious.

Drove to Salsa but didn’t want to dance in case I made my knee any worse. What I did do was help out with Irene’s class who are Level 1 week 6 so, fairly simple stuff that doesn’t involve dangerous twisting. Certainly couldn’t face the Advanced class so I took my leave and went for a walk around Kelvinbridge. Got the PoD there which started out as a boring, dull shot of the actual Kelvin Bridge, then dunked it in a bucket of ON1 (my newest photo-processor) and out came a faded, sepia toned aged print.

Going to meet the Auld Guys for beers and lunch tomorrow, hopefully.

In the Toon, in the sun – 6 June 2018

A girl cutting hair? It’s a barbers, not a hairdresser’s!

We were all set to go to the dancin’ today at Blackfriars until Scamp got a message to say that it was cancelled. That gave us a fair bit of the afternoon to fill. I wanted my hair cut, Scamp wanted to go shopping, not for shopping. Not going for the messages. This was serious shopping. I also wanted to go shopping for a couple of books. With all that in our collective heads, it seemed a visit to Glasgow was in order, but a visit on the bus this time, not a drive. It was a really hot day, so we also decided to have lunch out and make a day of it. So that’s what we did.

First stop the barbers. My usual place, the Nile Barbers, but what was this? None of the usual faces. One guy and a girl. A girl in Nile Barbers? Never seen that before. However, she cut my hair exactly how I wanted it and only asked for £7, pensioners rates. Then one of the usual barbers returned. Ah, that’s good. It’s not a total take-over. I can rest easy knowing that the everybody’s getting older guy and the conspiracy theorist have not been sacked, and that Silent Bob will be back in his corner cutting hair without a word.

Back up on to Sausageroll street and having to go round the part demolished New City Palace to get to Waterstones where I bought the final book in the Themis Files trilogy. I just finished the second book in the series this morning and it’s some measure of the attraction of the writing that I went out this afternoon to buy the sequel. Book two in a trilogy is so often just treading water and going nowhere, but this book took the story on a completely different direction and led neatly to the final(?) book. The question mark is there because I’ve read on the net that it might not be the final book. That would perhaps be a shame. I’d like to see the story drawn neatly to a close, whatever that is. I’m keeping the book for the holidays. That will leave a decent amount of time for my brain to work on the implications of book two and prepare for the finale. If you haven’t read the series, I really recommend that you do. I won’t give away the plot or the twists. All I’m saying is read it. It’s SF, but does the ‘F’ stand for Fiction or Fact? You choose.

Met Scamp who had done the shopping she intended to do and was loaded down with bags. We went to lunch in Paesano – best pizza place in Glasgow. Unfortunately, Scamp reminded me that although we’d gone in by bus, I was driving Fred and me to the college tonight, so Nick the Chick says “No alcohol shall pass thy lips on pain of five thousand penalty points and a £50,000,000 fine (plus VAT).” So I had fizzy orange instead 🙁

Walked round to Queen Street for coffee in Nero and it was while walking round I got today’s PoD.  It’s a reflection of the College of Building and Printing reflected in my favourite glass fronted building in Queen Street.  I liked the distorted writing that should read “People Make Glasgow”.  Title was Lost in Translation.

Bus back and soon it was time to go for Fred. We’d an older sitter than last week and I think I managed to do him justice. Like he said, everyone’s interpretation is different. Roseanne (tutor) tried to rile me with a few digs about people criticising the Loomis method, but I gave as good as I got. She tried her best to blank me when doing her rounds, but eventually gave me a few words of wisdom. I took her advice and the second sketch once the sitter had had a rest was a lot better and from a totally different viewpoint.

Tomorrow is to be at least as hot as today. We have no plans as yet.

Quiche and Cross Body Salsa – 4 June 2018

The usual Monday but with baking.

I had expressed an interest in making a quiche today and my teacher was Scamp. It’s a long time since I’ve made shortcrust pastry from scratch, so that was the first lesson. With the pastry cooling and firming in the fridge, I took my virtual apron off for an hour or so to prep a few photos of Skye and Rannoch for Facebook. I had to get Scamp’s assistance again to upload them! After that I emailed Jackie whose quiche I was attempting to copy. Got the pastry made. Got the recipe. Good to go.

By then it was Gems time. Time for a hasty exit. I’d loads of stuff to take to the council tip and after that I went for a photo walk along the Luggie. That’s where the PoD came from. It’s a Wood Avens. Not a lot more to encourage me to photograph anything else, but it was warm and the sun was finally getting through.

Back home, I got started rolling the pastry (to the thickness of a pound coin) and fitting it into the baking tin. Pricked it all over with a fork and then blind baked it. Then I removed the ceramic baking beans and returned it to the oven to brown. Next I made up the egg and cream filling, blanched the broccoli and filled the pastry case with Hot Smoked Salmon pieces and the Broccoli then poured in the filling. Baked it and it’s smaller cousin (made in a smaller tin to use up the pastry) in the oven. Wee one was done well before the full size quiche was ready. We split the small one between us before we went to salsa.

Salsa tonight was a bit of a hotchpotch with Jamie and Will off, it fell to Shannon to teach the first advanced class and Alex (new teacher) to teach a free taster class on <spit> Cross Body Salsa which looks like salsa with a lot of fancy hand waving and posturing. It looked like there were going to be too many leaders in the advanced class, so I bowed out, partly because I had a headache and partly because I don’t want to waste my time being taught by these less capable ‘teachers’. Obviously I used a different word rather than ‘less capable’! Alex’s cross body class was also in that category as far as I was concerned. I’m afraid he didn’t win me over with his teaching style or his dance. Not for me.

Back home we shared a half of the big quiche and it too was excellent. Still needs work, but the basic structure is there.

Tomorrow, we have no plans. I may go in to Glasgow to get my hair cut.

Dancin’ and drawin’, that’s a Wednesday – 30 May 2018

The day started badly, but improved … a bit.

Up early to go to the docs to get my blood taken. Sat for a while and finally went to check. Apparently my appointment which I’d been told was for 9.50 was actually for 8.50. Despite remonstrating with the receptionist, who I must say treated me like a retard, she was adamant that I was wrong. I was equally adamant that I was right. I eventually got another appointment for tomorrow. Came home slightly less incandescent than I left the health centre and wrote this suggestion to them:

Here’s a suggestion:
When a patient makes an appointment over the phone or at reception, send them a confirmation email or text. This will avoid wasted time on both sides and will also give a degree of certainty a scribbled note on a piece of paper (at best) doesn’t. My dentist has been doing it this way for years so why can’t Kenilworth? After all, it’s 2018, not 1918.

I don’t think it will be implemented. After all, what would a ‘retard’ know about automatic email generation? That was the started badly part over.

Drove in to Glasgow under a blue sky and danced up a fair sweat. I thought Michael was nit picking again until I realised that he was picking up on things I was doing wrong without noticing. He took us a bit further along our waltz journey, into the tricky double natural turns. Michael tried to teach us a new line dance based on Charleston which is much more difficult than you’d think when you see it on Strictly! We didn’t get much further with Jive, but we consolidated the first turns. I got as far as Spin 3, Scamp got to Spin 4. By the end I was exhausted.

Scamp bought a new pair of flip-flops (sparkly ones of course!) because she’d scraped her heel and needed a new pair of sparkly flip-flops to take her mind of the excruciating pain! I browsed some bargains in CassArt, but finally decided that I’d better places for my pennies to go.

Came home and went for a walk to St Mo’s, but by the time I got there the good light had gone and it was becoming decidedly dull and overcast. He weather fairies, the rain isn’t supposed to arrive until Friday! It didn’t arrive, but the clouds still held sway in the heavens, so I had to make do with some pretty wee Berberis flowers. They’ll do, and one of them got PoD.

Swift dinner of prawn salad which was really very nice and then Fred picked me up to go to art class where I caused a stooshie by telling the tutor that I thought the videos we’d been watching were a bit faked. It became rather heated for a while, then settled down to the usual sketching. I get a sore back from standing at an easel drawing for two hours, but it is rather therapeutic and enjoyable trying to get a likeness of someone. I got a bit of praise for my planar drawing of the model. Converted his youthful soft face into a series of flat plates. Strange, but there was a real resemblance there.

Tomorrow a repeat of the blood-letting attempt of this morning, hopefully with a better result. Scamp is off to see the new baby in Larky and I’m going for coffee with the auld guys.

Dancing, portraiture and faces – 23 May 2018

Dull day that started to smile in the afternoon.

Dancing the waltz is difficult, but we thought we had it fairly well under control until Michael showed us the next set of moves today. I’m sure in a couple of weeks they too will seem like child’s play. Now they are just the next hurdle to be waltzed over. Jive was just as difficult as jive usually is. Now we’re on spin number 4 of 7. It gets more complicated, even the men have a turn to do now. I’ve pretty much sorted out spins 1 and 2, 3 is a bit tricky and 4 is just a shambles. Instead of leading, I’m following, but that’s not new. It’s what I do most of the time. Still, it was enjoyable.

Walking back to the car in the sun provided today’s PoD which is a sandstone carving of a lion at the corner of the old fruit market in Glasgow. I also took photos of the ‘green men’ above the doors of the building. I remember drawing one of them in ink wash many years ago. Lovely bits of stone mason’s craft.

Back home I struggled with what was really a simple task of importing the photos into ON1. It’s simple now that I know how to do it. It most certainly wasn’t easy at the time, with hidden bits of menu that really should be more easily accessible.

Dinner was chicken breast wrapped in bacon and pan fried with boiled Jersey Royals and corn on the cob. Really tasty, Scamp. Also on the food front, I chopped up some strawberries and soaked them in vodka. They’ll stay in the fridge for a few days to flavour our Strawberry Vodka and hopefully be drunk outside in the garden under the sun.

Portrait class tonight was a bit of a disaster. A bit like Spin 4 is just now, except we’re more or less left to our own devices. I floundered a lot, trying to work out how to adapt the Loomis method to the head of the young boy we were drawing. It seemed, always, to make his head too fat. I think I’m missing something here. Must watch the videos again. On the way to pick up Fred for the class, I had to do some Genghis Pathfinder stuff to avoid the closed off road at St Mo’s School where a lorry had shed its load of wood. Not the simplest of diversions and it occurred, of course, when the factories along the road were coming out, so everywhere was chok-a-block. Managed it though.

Tomorrow we’re out early(ish). Hopefully before 11am, but I’ll have to go out even earlier to get some (very expensive £1.26 /litre) petrol.

The Man in the Mirror – 21 May 2018

I had homework to do for the Wednesday’s Portraiture class. Today was my first attempt.

Scamp was out with Isobel in the morning and I got started sketching my reflection in the mirror in the back bedroom. It’s been ages since I’ve attempted a self portrait. This was different because it was planned and better structured using the Andrew Loomis method. I’d even made an Autodesk Inventor model of the basic shape of a head to give me a basic understanding of the shape. We’ve still to learn the basic bits that make up a face, like Nose, Mouth, Eyes and Ears. They are important, but the basic shape of the skull is even more important. I’m beginning to understand that now. With a bit of time to myself, I had my first try at an SP.

It was rough and ready, so I set it aside and made lunch which was yesterday’s Aloo Saag bolstered with some more spinach and a few more spices. It was agreed that it was an improvement on yesterday’s. Still needs some fine tuning, and the kitchen cabinets needed a bit of fine cleaning after my attempt at liquidising the second bag of spinach. It looked like the attack of the Jolly Green Giant. Most of it was cleaned up before Scamp came home.

I wasn’t happy with my first portrait attempt, so, after lunch when Scamp and the Gems were going through their repertoire, I started the second version. One of the eyes wasn’t right and that was when I found that I hadn’t a putty rubber, essential when you’re sketching in charcoal, like I was. That gave me the impetus to go out. I bought a putty rubber and then went looking for photos. Drove to Auchinstarry and did the canal, plantation and railway walk under glorious blue skies. That built up my step count for the day and provided my PoD which is a Bum Bee’s Bum. Actually, it’s a hoverfly’s bum, but that doesn’t sound as good, does it?

Back home and I didn’t really need any dinner after a very hearty lunch, so it was tea and toast before we drove in to Glasgow for our Monday dose of Salsa. Two good classes, but so few men. Tonight’s moves for the 6.30 class were Candado Complicado, El Chullo and La Chulla. For the 7.30 class it El Cien. All doable with a bit of practise.  Step count for today is just over 15,800.  Not bad at all!

Tomorrow we have a telephone meeting with Andrew from ARD at 9.30 and the rest of the day is ours!

Shopping with the Diamond Geezers – 16 May 2018

We didn’t have much planned today, other than to get some compost and do some more work in the garden.  It would have been a shame to anything else with another beautiful day.

To that end, we went for a trip to B&Q in the morning to get some cheap grow bags. Half the ’grey hairs’ in Cumbersheugh were there today with their Diamond Cards, looking for their 10% discount, and they’d all been raiding the cheap grow bag section. As a result there was only one left. A poor little torn at the corner item with some of its peat leaking out. I took pity on it and humphed it into my trolley. Scamp wanted some ‘Busy Lizzies’ for her planter beside the back door. She picked some that looked as if they might last until the weekend at least. The same couldn’t be said for a lot of the plant in B&Q. Lots of them were dehydrated and even more looked as if they were past reviving. However, she was happy with her choice and with her care and attention, I’m sure they’ll be flowering soon. Back home we got to use our IKEA porter’s trolley to cart the bag of peat from the car to the raised bed where it will provide some much needed nutrient.

By the time we got back there was just enough time to have a bite to eat before we left for Glasgow and our ballroom / jive torture. We didn’t do too badly with the ballroom, but the jive was a bit of a ’disaaaaster darling’. I can handle the footwork in the waltz and the footwork in the jive, but trying to fit in the footwork with the arms in jive is too much for my little single core processor to handle. I really need a brain transplant, hopefully a quad core one to manage the psychomotor skills needed for this dancing caper. I was really thankful when the lessons came to an end. It was great to walk back through Glasgow under a blue sky with office workers walking about in their shirt sleeves. Glasgow under a blue sky became PoD.

Back home there was the temptation to go over to St Mo’s for another photo or two, but I only had an hour and that isn’t long enough to do it justice, so I left Scamp to her planting while I prepared my drawing materials for taking to college tonight for the portraiture class. I have to say I was a bit apprehensive about the class. How good would these artist be? I know how good Fred is, but would the others be even better? I needn’t have worried. I’m about the middle of the class. Not as good or as confident as Fred and not as basic as some. I’ve a lot to learn. It’s just a small class just now, only five of us, but hopefully it will get bigger. First week done. Homework for next week. A self portrait or a head and shoulders of a member of your family. I suppose that will be Scamp! Oh yes, as a bonus the teacher, Roseanne, plays some interesting music.

Tomorrow the car goes under the knife at Halfords to fit the dash cam. Hopefully Scamp’s taking us out for the afternoon while the operation continues.

The man who worked in the garden – 15 May 2018

Of course the woman who worked in the garden was there too!

It was a lovely morning, but unlike yesterday, it didn’t last. The clouds started to roll in, just as the weather fairies had predicted. However, it wouldn’t prevent us from doing a bit of digging in the garden. Before all that though, Scamp decided we should both visit Tesco, me as passenger in the Red Juke. I was most impressed with the work Mr Tesco had done on the store’s carpark. Before we left for our sojourn to the south, the carpark had been a disaster area. Full of ruts and potholes. Now it seemed that the poor man had been out all weekend labouring under the hot sun to make it a much nicer place to park with all the ruts filled, likewise the potholes and even new while lines marking out the boxes. I was just a little bit annoyed that Scamp managed to place the Red Juke right in the middle of one of those white boxes. I felt I should have been like Cherish, the judge from GBBO The Professionals and started measuring with my metal ruler, but I didn’t. I just put it down to beginners luck.

Back home, we got to work:
Scamp cutting the front grass and pruning. I kept moving because it looked as if she was pruning everything that was standing still.
Me when I wasn’t avoiding the secateurs, I was digging a hole and planting my birthday buddleia, planting some English peas (Boogie) and thinning out my kale. We were just finished our respective tasks when the rain started. Very light, but there all the same. It was lunch time.

The rain continued for most of the afternoon until I eventually got fed up and went in search of ‘beasties’ in St Mo’s. Found a tiny little spider, but had to give up on it because the light wasn’t very good deep in the woods, then I spotted a quite attractively patterned moth, but it saw me at the same time and flew off. Finally I cornered a bored or tired fly that sat patiently for its close up. That was PoD. Came home had dinner watched TV. Lots of little bits of work done today. Feeling better for it.

Tomorrow it’s not the danceathon its been of late as we’re only doing the ballroom and jive classes. I’ve got a portraiture class at the college in the evening. Student, not teacher, just in case you think I’m getting a bit above myself. Scamp’s having a week off to decide whether to face the M80/M8 traffic jam to go to two low level salsa classes. It’s an experiment. It may work or it may not. It just depends on how things pan out.

Embra in the Spring

Today we did as we had planned and went to Embra where we found the sun.

We left Croy with the sun completely hidden behind layers of heavy cloud. It was quite warm though, so we shouldn’t complain too much.

Coffee in Nero when we got to the Capital and then a walk through the Farmer’s Market where I bought tomorrow’s dinner, a piece of mutton from Annanwater. I’d bought from them before, so was sure that it would be fresh and good quality. I think I prefer mutton to lamb now. It’s not as light a meat and needs a fair bit of care in cooking, but the taste is that much richer and deeper. (Foodie Speak)

Walked up to the Grassmarket and after perusing the stalls with exorbitant prices for food (well, it is tourist season and a bank holiday to boot) we settled on Petit Paris, the inevitable choice for both of us. Lovely French restaurant run by French blokes where the food, as well as being French is lovely.
Starters:
Green Pea and Garlic soup for Scamp
Pan fried Brie wrapped in Filo for me
Mains:
Fillet of Cod with Mash for Scamp
Beef Bourguignon for me
I even risked Nick the Chick’s anger by having a glass of red wine. When we came out the Grassmarket was mobbed. Tourists everywhere. It looked like a score of tourist busses had just disgorged their passengers and driven off. We walked up West Bow Street which was where I got the PoD of two biddies scoffing their lunch, sitting on the pavement. From there we walked across the Royal Mile and down the steps to the National Gallery. Stood and watched an ok guitarist, piper and drummer busking. Nothing special, but it entertained the bank holiday crowds. This was all done under blue skies I hasten to add. One of the advantages of going to Embra is that because it’s the capital, it gets better weather than the Glasgow area. I think it’s written into a statute somewhere.

Scamp was on the hunt for a new pair of dance shoes and there is a really good dance ware shop on Rose Street, so that was our next port of call. After securing that purchase (to be delivered to the house next week) we dropped in at Waterstones where I browsed the books, but didn’t find anything I wanted to buy. We were fed and fed up by this time, so after a walk through Princes Street Gardens we got the train home. As we travelled west, we lost more and more of the blue sky and it was replaced by more and more grey clouds. Arrived back at Croy and found it as we’d left it, grey, damp and warm. At least we had some east coast sun today.

Watched an ok, but nothing special film ‘Dough’ on Netflix.

Tomorrow should be a better day if the weather fairies are to be believed. Let’s wait and see. Some stuff needs to be taken to the dump, some gardening needs to be done and the bike needs another outing. Also, some mutton needs to be cooked. Hopefully some of these tasks will be completed, and hopefully under blue skies!

Dancing, Dancing, but not all the day – 2 May 2018

Today we’d agreed to go to ballroom and jive, but not salsa, just in case it was a Shannon Show, all ‘Oo La La’ and ‘Happy Chests’ (Don’t ask). As it happened, we needn’t have worried as Will took both classes. So, here’s how the day unfolded.

Sat and worked through some of the tutorial videos for the new RAW processing software in the morning and am much better pleased with it now. It’s a real pity they didn’t get some of the YouTube tutors to produce their advertising videos. Then I’d have decided much quicker to give this software a try. It’s only when you get down to the nuts and bolts of a program explained by somebody who knows what they are talking about that you see its full potential. No need for tacky music and faked up special effects. It seems like a much better program now.

Drove in to Glasgow to go to the Ballroom Duet. Waltz was good and I think we passed with flying colours. Now we’re on to the small details. Big Steps and Rise and Fall. Using the Frame and Using the Core. Enjoyed it and also starting to get to grips with the Jive routines. Things are looking up at last. Next week will be a desert of dancing. No Salsa on Monday as the STUC is closed for the May holiday and no ballroom on Wednesday because both teachers are on holiday. We’ll just have to move the couch back and dance round the living room.

After we left Blackfriars we went for a coffee in Nero in Queen Street and noticed a degree of activity around the GOMA. On further investigation, it turned out that it was a film company doing a little bit of location shooting. I’ve no idea who the ’star’ was, but she most definitely thought she was a ’STAR’! Took a few photos and walked back to the car, but not before we stood and watched the giant demolition machine that was biting lumps out of the old hotel in front of Queen Street Station like a gigantic prehistoric monster. Scary looking thing.

When we came home the sun was shining so I grabbed the Nikon bag and took a walk around St Mo’s. Got the PoD which is of a tree climbing snail that only seem to climb the ash trees. After a bit of processing in ON1 and a bit of detailed work in Lightroom it began to look very pretty. It’s not what I saw, it’s what I wanted to see.  Came home through a rain shower to fish ‘n’ chips which were delicious, Scamp!

Hoping my latest lens will arrive by DPD tomorrow. Not new of course, but as good as. I’m looking forward to having a macro lens for my Olys. Up until now I’ve had to rely on a cheap pair of extension tubes. They are made of plastic with metal mounts and are getting worn and as a result letting light in which means I need to do more post-processing.

Other than lens-waiting, we have no plans for tomorrow. Some light gardening perhaps?