Walking in sunshine – 29 October 2018

Today I thought I’d go to the gym, or maybe a swim. Instead, I did a bit of sunbathing.

Well, Sunbathing might be a bit of a stretch, but a walk in the sun, now that would be a more pleasant way to spend the afternoon rather than swimming in a crowded pool or sweating it out in the gym.

That’s what I did. While Gems were being put through their paces I was making paces along the canal and across the plantation then back to the car. The light was beautiful this afternoon. One of those days with golden light. Managed to miss a lot of the good light, but also grabbed some too so I did bring some of the sunshine home with me in the little black boxes with the glass things in the front. PoD went to the one you see at the top of the page. It took a bit of post-processing which I won’t bore you with, but it went through a couple of pieces of software until I was happy with the result.

Driving home I came to the roundabout at the bottom of the road to find a blue car, maybe a Ka sitting on its roof with the windscreen in smithereens an the doors wide open. A crowd round it seemed to be consoling a young asian girl who looked as if she was in shock. Not the sort of thing you see everyday! When we went out to salsa tonight I noticed that two of the steel barrier poles on the roundabout had been flattened, I presume by a flying blue car. Nobody seemed to be seriously injured, but someone was not going to have a happy Monday night.

After I came home I settled down to sketch a bowl of pears that was just sitting there waiting to be recorded on paper. I was quite pleased with the way it went and decided to put it away and have a better look with a more critical eye when we came back from salsa.

Tonight was Jamie Gal’s Halloween Party – for the advanced class. Some dancers who had fallen away a bit appeared to bolster our numbers and we all had a great time. Played the Hat Game. Everyone tries to grab a hat from the present wearer’s head and when the music stops the wearer gets a prize. Simple and funny. In the past it has led to fights on the dance floor with bodies rolling around shouting “IT’S MINE!”. We were a bit more restrained tonight. Jamie had a new game “Sort of ready”. Which usually means he has the gist of it, but some of the a lot of the details need ironing out. The basis of the game was that we’d dance a Rueda until somebody stopped the music, then there would be a task given out. The task was to grab a roll of toilet paper from a stack in the middle of the floor and wrap up your partner like a mummy. I thought we did well, but Thomas went just that extra mile and ended up with some toilet paper stuffed up his nose as well as being wrapped in it. Probably the best game Jamie has invented recently. He tried to film some of our legendary Dancing In The Dark Rueda with his drone, but it didn’t want to play nice tonight and I think he aborted that part.

Came home and reviewed the sketch, changed some bits, but basically just cleaned it up and posted it. Inktober 2018 No 29 in the bag.

It’s cold tonight again. Just 0.5ºc. Tomorrow we may go to Perth.

Dancing, dancing all the day – 24 October 2018

Title comes from a Petula Clark song (Google her).

Didn’t sleep well last night. Partly my own fault for finally dragging myself up the stairs long after midnight. Tonight I’m hoping to be a bit earlier.

Intended getting the train in to Glasgow today, but there were no spaces in the carpark at the station, so there was nothing for it but to drive there. Had a bit of a scare in the multi carpark. I seemed to lose drive, reversing into a space. Helluva shuddering coming from the car too. Finally gave up and drove up to higher floor and parked without problem. Finally sorted it out in my head. The floor in the multi is paint concrete and the space I was reversing into was directly opposite to where they wash the cars. I presume some of the detergent had got on to the roadway, either that or some wax and the anti-skid had kicked in on the Juke. It hasn’t done anything like that before or since.

Walked down through the film stage that is Glasgow city centre this week. They are filming part of the Fast and Furious franchise. It certainly seemed to bring a load of spectators out to watch the fun. We were going to ask if they needed any dancers, but we didn’t really have the time.

Jive was good, except we didn’t get a chance to show off our ‘Timesteps’ routine because we were on to a new set of move. Waltz was good and we got some tips on how to smooth it out more. Quickstep as working too. It’s all definitely getting better. We seemed to get the thumbs up from Michael for our efforts. Much happier today.

Drove home, and as I said never noticed any problems, so the detergent theory seems likely. Couldn’t be bothered going out to take photos when we got back and anyway, the light was disappearing fast. Must check the sunset times tomorrow. Finally decided to do a tabletop shot of pastilles bottom lit by an LED lamp. Quite liked it. Took a long time to set up, but didn’t need so much post-processing.

Salsa tonight was interesting. Working with the level 4 class and they were doing Ellie, Ceo and an old one, Cambio. I’d forgotten that one. Scamp thinks there will be another amalgamation of classes. Most of the 6.30 class could join the 7.30 class without too much difficulty.

Inktober sketch is of my iPhone SE. It’s not the best, but it’s done ….

Tomorrow Scamp has a gig. I may go for a walk if the light is decent and I can gee myself.

Just another Wednesday – 17 October 2018

Wednesdays are the bane of my life just now.

There’s no time to think on a Wednesday. We have a couple of hours in the morning, then it’s the drive in to Glasgow, followed by an hour’s dancing. Drive back home and another couple of hours later we’re driving in to Glasgow again for Salsa. Back home and post the photos, do the sketch if it’s not already done and write the blog. It seems non-stop. Yes, it’s self inflicted. Yes the dancing is enjoyable, but some days it just seems too much. Today was one of those days (if you hadn’t guessed!)

Dancing was tough today. We’d practised the moves on Monday night and again today before we went out. When we got there, we started with a different Jive routine and maybe it was that, that put me off my stride … literally. Waltz is still getting better, but I still need to make it smoother and faster, especially the turns. Quickstep is the same. It needs to be slicker. Tango we haven’t done for weeks now and it came as a shock to realise how little I could remember. It also plays with my head, changing the rhythms and steps with three ballroom dances in half an hour. That’s just 10 minutes for each. I felt like Worzel Gummidge with the wrong Dancing Head on. Next week it will be better I’m sure, especially if they play  the Scarecrow Hop!

When we got home I took the ‘Big Dog’ out for a walk in St Mo’s. The light was beautiful, but there was nothing interesting to photograph in it. I finally settled on the larch needles almost ready to fall as PoD. Walking back I watched a couple of swans going at it hammer and tongs. I’m guessing that, as they were two males, it was a fight to see who would be the dominant male. I’m not totally convinced the fight is over, this may only have been round 1. I’ll check back in the next few days.

Drove in to Glasgow and found that the time to the SECC was 43 minutes. Usually it’s around 10 minutes. The M8 was like a badly managed car park, but I managed to take a different route to our normal one that got us the STUC (not to be confused with the SECC!) by 7.30pm. Start time. Class was interesting with a variety of moves. New move for them was Ellie.

Sketched the beer bottle and glass while I was half watching The Apprentice. I think it may have run its course now. It’s formula is fairly predictable as are the contestants. It passes a mid-week TV slot, but is rarely worth wasting time on.

I think today was just a bad day. Tomorrow will be better. We may go out somewhere, but where I don’t know.

Dancing again – 10 October 2018

It was a lovely day today. Just like summer … in October!

I kid you not, blue sky wall to wall with just a few white clouds to disturb the monotony of all that blue. Even better, it was warm. Didn’t do much in the morning, just tackled my daily sudoku. Drove in to Glasgow and marvelled at the beautiful day after all the torrential rain we’ve had. Walked down to Blackfriars and struggled a bit with the Timesteps in Jive class. Next we got some pointers for the waltz and were actually Best In Class at Quickstep. Maybe that would be better phrased as Best of the Rest, because the Rest were struggling. Coffee afterwards to recap on our successes and work still in progress. PoD was shot in Queen Street. Just the hand of a mannikin reflected in a shop window.

Driving home the temperature reached 22ºc and I knew Scamp was champing at the bit to give the front grass its last cut before winter sets in. She got it done. I got my sudoku solved. I also got today’s sketch done. Just my wee Lamy pen getting it’s ink refill. I’d actually intended going for a run on the bike, but better to get the essential things done first, then the things that aren’t quite so important.

Drove to Salsa and re-learned Bueno with the level 4(?) class. George Brown made an appearance. As usual he tried to wind me up asking about my painting, but it’s easy to misdirect him. Anyway, it’s not me he’s interested in! Spoke to a couple of people I hadn’t seen in ages. That’s what’s good about the AdS classes, people leave and then return a few years later with stories to tell.

Reset all my passwords for mail from dhcampbell, just in case.

Tomorrow I may take the bus in to Glasgow just for a walk in the rain. This hot weather can be very boring!

A watered down version of yesterday – 8 October 2018

Yes, today was a watered down version of yesterday. All the same component parts, just not so much of them.

It was windy and dull when we woke. Not as gale-force windy as yesterday and it was dry for a while. That didn’t last, by the time we came down stairs the rain was on again, but thankfully not as torrential or as sustained as yesterday.

I almost managed to get my easy sudoku finished before Scamp started busying around clearing the table into piles, easily managed piles that could be carried away and put somewhere. Somewhere I’d forget, and then spend ages trying to find them again. Then the hoovering began but by that time I’d finished the puzzle and was in pack horse mode carrying stuff upstairs. I should really open an Excel file and write down where I put all the stuff, then it would be easier to find. Don’t tell me that I’d lose the Excel file because I wouldn’t. It’s a computer file and Hazel (computer app Hazel 😉 ) would file it away for me exactly where I’d expect to find it.

With that accomplished, it was lunch time and after that, when Scamp went to pick up Gems, I made a sharp exit and headed for the gym. No swimming yet, because my leg’s still a bit scabby from my attempt to run through a fallen tree rather than over it. I must remember the ‘over method’ is much more successful … and less painful. In the changing room it took me three tries before I found a locker that locked. I counted seventeen that had the “Don’t leave valuables in this locker” sticker on them. That means they don’t lock. Sort of defeats the purpose really. Then I found three without the sticker, but they wouldn’t close properly because it looked as if someone had jemmied them open at some point. This is supposed to be a fairly posh gym and spa, and here is evidence that some person or persons unknown is jemmying open the lockers. So that’s at least twenty lockers that don’t fulfil their purpose. Spent half an hour in the gym torturing my poor legs on the recumbent cycle, the leg press and the treadmill. I even gave the legs a rest and took on the shoulder press just for a bit of variety. When I was leaving I noticed that the sauna door was still not repaired. That’s about two months now to fix a door. The final straw was a check on the time and the clock is at the wrong time!! Hilton is the third owner of this hotel in four years. They’ll probably fix some of these problems and then sell it on as a going concern.

Stopped at St Mo’s on the way home, but ever at 3pm, the light was so poor I knew I’d be struggling to get a reasonable photo, so I gave up and came home in the rain. Stopped outside the house and found today’s PoD, the windblown leaves from the trees in front of the house.

I’d missed all the singing today, so that was a mercy. I went upstairs an sketched today’s offering for Inktober. I doodled the original face for 28 Drawings Later in February, but thought I could reprise it for Inktober. As usual, the new one isn’t as good as the original, but I still like the face. I feel I know him from somewhere.

Drove to Salsa tonight to be met at the door by Megan who told us that Jamie G wasn’t taking the class it was the ’S’ person. We left and drove home in the rain. That’s when I noticed the message on my phone from our other informant to confirm Megan’s warning.

Tomorrow? Maybe taking Scamp to the dentist to see what’s going on in her mouth.

Ballroom Dancing – 7 October 2018

I was sure this wasn’t going to be the highlight of my day

That is to say, I wasn’t looking forward to it … at all! The weather when we woke was wet and a bit windy, but I’d rather have gone for a walk in the windy rain than go dancing ballroom. Yes, I know that’s what we’ve been learning Jive, Waltz, Quickstep and Tango for, but I just had the feeling it would be a big dance floor filled with critical, snooty oldies. The reality was somewhat like that, but also totally different.

Starting from the top. We’d recorded the Japanese GP from Suzuka, one of my favourite tracks and for once it was full of thrills and spills. Great to see Vettel getting spun off the track by Verstappen. He’s young, V, and a bit of a nutter, but he made short work of a four times world champion who tried to muscle in front of him. Well done to you Mad Max. I really enjoyed the race and for a couple of hours it put dancing to the back of my mind.

PoD was a view of raindrops running down the front window. Not the most interesting of photos, perhaps, but I wasn’t going out in that rainstorm just to get a better photo and another dose of the cold to boot.

After lunch I did today’s sketch which was of two of Scamp’s boots lying under the coffee table. Not very imaginative, but there was more observation and sketching in it than in the last six added together. I liked the finished drawing. Let’s hope it’s the start of some better work.

It had to come. Just before 3pm I got washed, shaved and dressed for the dancing. Checked the postcode of the place we were going and wrote it down, lest I might (on purpose) forget it. We drove through the torrential rain to the hotel, only to find that there was no room to park, so I dropped Scamp off and went in search of a decent space in one of the side streets. We’d been allocated a table with some other folk. I think they were the ones nobody else wanted to sit beside. They weren’t that old, but they did tick the ‘Critical’ and ‘Snooty’ boxes. Basically the table I was dreading. We’d ordered food and when it came it was really good. Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp and Steak Pie for me. Mine needed some salt, but otherwise was excellent. Scamp’s seemed to suit her too. Then we manage to spirit ourselves away from Critical & Snooty. One of Scamp’s salsa friends had already had a run in with C&S and invited us to sit at her table. It was full of older women, but they smiled and made conversation with us, so we’d won a watch. The music started and some folk got up to dance. Scamp nudged me and we joined them, demonstration our 7 Spins Skills. That was better, we’d been on the floor. After that, Michael or his feminine persona took to the stage in a full length glittering golden gown. The floor show had begun.

It was a great show. Against my better judgement I laughed out loud at his antics and the costumes were amazing, starting with a fantastic Frank N Furter. Between each of his sets were a couple of dances. No waltz or tango and the quickstep was too quick for me. Lots of line dances (yuk!) and jive. We even managed a couple of salsa dances to what was really rock ’n’ roll music. The finale was his on-stage change from Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B. This was followed by a high energy routine with an unrecognisable Ann Marie to that Glen Millar tune. Overall a great night. I needn’t have worried, but if it hadn’t been for Scamp’s pal inviting us to her table, it might have gone very differently. Would we go again? Yes, probably, but maybe not for a while. Drove home through more wind and rain, happy to rely on the sat nav to find the right road.

Tomorrow is Gems day so I may go to the gym.

Urban Sketching – 3 October 2018

Out early to the Royal Infirmary and a bit of Urban Sketching.

In, Scamp delivered and the car park was full, so on to the next car park being careful of course not to scrape the car! The second car park, which was just across the road, was almost empty. So were my pockets! Only 80p in cash and a fiver in my wallet. Unfortunately the parking ticket machine didn’t take paper money and the minimum amount was £1.60, exactly double what I had in my pocket. On to plan 2, or is that plan 3. I was pretty sure I could park on Ladywell, the long street between the Necropolis and the Cathedral. Loads of spaces and the parking meter that had a minimum charge of 20p. Obviously the cheaper side of town. Parked!

Went for a look at the Cathedral, because I don’t like going to the Necropolis. It has a bad feeling. I did a 20 minute sketch that covered the basics, but wasn’t at all brilliant. It was one in the bag. It had started to rain as I was finishing, so I made my way back to the car. Just got there when Scamp phoned to say that was her finished, so I drove back to car park 1 and picked her up.

With a bit of time to kill, we drove back in to town, parked in Buchanan Galleries and went for a coffee. The place was ram jam full, so I went back to the car and got my sketchbook and assigned myself 20 mins to sketch Buchanan Galleries while Scamp went window shopping in the Galleries. While I was walking down Buchanan Street I crossed paths with a *STAR*. DI Jimmy Perez (AKA Douglas Henshall) had just walked into Sketchers wearing that same donkey jacket he wore all through the Shetland series! Got my sketch done, but it was a bit ropey too. Having said that, it was better than the Cathedral sketch from earlier. Met Scamp and we went to see if Nero was any quieter. Thankfully it was, but my coffee wasn’t much better than the last time I’d been there. In fact, that might be “the last time I’d been there” for a while!

After we finished our brown water, we walked down to Blackfriars, but as we were crossing the road, Who should be crossing the road but the ex Doctor himself? Peter Capaldi. Today we were really walking in the footsteps of *STARS*. Of course Scamp didn’t see him, but I turned her head and pointed it in his direction and she duly admitted that it “looked like him”. Unbeliever!
I could say “With stars in my eyes I danced down the rest of the way to Blackfriars”, but that would be pushing it, wouldn’t it? Anyway, we had plenty of time, so we dropped in at Paesano first for a couple of pizzas which came straight from the oven and were delicious. Sat amazed watching a bloke holding his fork as if it was a dagger he was stabbing his pizza with. It was the most bizarre way of handling a fork I’ve ever seen.

Jive was a bit complicated, but now we have a version of ’Timesteps’ in our heads and the Quickstep is firming up too. Waltz is definitely looking a lot better. Much cleaner turns help there. On the way home I picked up today’s PoD, “Sinusoid” which is the curved marble seating in Brunswick Street..

Home and a quick look at today’s sketches told me that there was only one Inktober No3 and it was the Buchanan Galleries. It has been cleaned up a bit and had a couple of watercolour washes applied, but it looks much better now. A worthy winner.

Salsa tonight was enjoyable, but the drive in was a nightmare. Crash just at the off slip for Great Western Road meant a lengthy detour, but we still caught a bit of the 6.30 class to add to our hour with the 7.30 class. Bumped into some old friends who were waiting for the 8.30 Thriller tutorial.

Tomorrow Scamp is out for coffee with Isobel and I’ve got a 1pm appointment with a man with a laser.

Dancing, Pensioners and Painting – 26 September 2018

Today being a Wednesday was a dancing day. Drove in to Glasgow through the rain and high winds. Dancing started with Jive and especially the Lindy Hops, the Ladles, the Stepover and the Timesteps. Only the Timesteps set was new. New and demanding for me at least. Scamp, of course breezed through it with little or no problem. Waltz was looking good again with only a few corrections from Michael. In Quickstep we were trying to iron out the problems in the Check and Lock steps. Again, I should rephrase that to I was trying to iron out the problems with those steps. In Tango we were starting to learn a backwards turn. Honestly, ma’ heid wiz buzzin’ by the time we walked out of Blackfriars into a dry Glasgow and we went for a coffee to debrief and discuss progress.

Had a quick look in CassArt for a sketchbook to devote to Inktober 2018 which starts on Monday. One ink sketch per day, throughout the month of October, posted somewhere on-line. Mine usually go on my own Inktober group on Flickr and also on my blog. The group has been created and at present we have one member plus me, but I’m sure we’ll grow.

Scamp volunteered to do dinner tonight so I used the available time to paint another watercolour. This one, like the last two was based on a photograph. The photograph in question was a frame from a TV series about the lochs of Scotland. I think the view I chose was Plockton, but don’t quote me on that. I started painting purely with watercolour i.e. without a pencil outline. However, it became too difficult and there were a lot of perspective lines that needed to be there as a guide to the application of paint, so I set the brushes aside and lifted a pencil. Even after the pencil work had been done and the washes laid in place, it still looked a bit twee. That was when I added some ink lines and suddenly the painting looked a lot better. The pen gave the detail that was needed and the paint gave the colour. A great improvement.

After dinner (Kedgeree) we drove in to Glasgow to dance one class and it was really enjoyable. Nothing too taxing, just a relaxing dance or five! Even with two dancing classes, walking halfway through Glasgow and back, my step counter still says 9,525 steps. Somebody’s short changing me somewhere.

Today’s PoD was taken on the walk back from Blackfriars and its title is The Pensioners Day Out. I felt sorry for the poor wee bloke on the right who wasn’t allowed to join the group. Maybe he’d farted!

No plans for tomorrow. None at all!

Ali’s Rant – 19 September 2018

The Ali in question was the first named storm of the year, and it swept in this morning causing havoc and destruction.

Ali didn’t prevent us from having our weekly dose of ballroom, although the walk down from Buchanan Galleries to Blackfriars was ‘interesting’ and at times ‘challenging’. Enjoyed the Jive because we were reprising the First Seven Spins and adding on the Ladles and finally attempting to bolt on the Lindy Hops. We would have done more, I’m sure, but D&D were back and apparently had had their brains formatted securely in the intervening two weeks. It was back to the start for them, and us, because we were in the same (physical) class. Just different class!
Waltz was improving, just trying to get Rise and Fall included in our steps and with Quickstep it was the swooping turns at the start we were introduced to. So no new moves this week, but revision every so often is a great thing, especially to smooth off the rough corners of our dance routine.

After that we fought our way back up to the carpark and the run home. We had a tail wind on the way back, so didn’t feel the effects of the wind so much. Scamp is beginning to show signs of my cold which is a great pity. I’m really selfish with things like colds and flus and I like to keep them for myself, where possible.

I wasn’t keen on going out for a walk with Ali still prowling around, although he was looking like a shadow of his former self, so instead I photographed the roses that were sitting on the coffee table with my glamorous assistant holding a piece of A2 paper behind them to hide the untidy living room. The roses are Sheila’s Perfume on the left and Peace on the right.  Scamp brought them in from the garden to prevent Ali from running away with them or battering them flat.  I’m quite impressed with the photo. It’s been through the mill a bit with changes here and softening edges there, but it looks like I wanted it to and that’s what counts.

Dinner tonight was the remains of yesterday’s Aloo Saag which was actually more Saag than Aloo, but there were flatbreads and rice to pad it out and it was declared fine. Better than yesterday’s in my opinion, but that’s often the way with soups and curries.

Scamp declared herself fit enough to go to 7.30 class tonight in STUC and it was a shambles.  They just don’t listen to what’s being taught, they think they can make it up themselves and they can’t.  The class is supposed to be level 4, but they make, and keep making elementary mistakes like turning left, not right.  Simple things.  I know we’ve all done it, I’ve done it, but I stop, think and try to fix it.  They don’t.  Numpties.  It’s partly Shannon’s fault for merging classes from different levels and calling them by the higher number.  What I mean is:  There aren’t enough students in a level 3 class to make it cost effective to run.  Rather than tell them that, she lumps them in with a level 4 class and calls the combined class Level 4.  This makes it twice as difficult for the teacher of the combined class and means that the level 3 students are struggling to keep up with the level 4 pupils in the class or the level 4 pupils get bored having to repeat level 3 moves with the influx students.  It’s never going to be a good way to teach, and it’s long term pain for short term (financial) gain.  Not the best way to run a railroad … or a salsa class.

Tomorrow the car goes in for service and I am getting a courtesy car. Wonder what it will be. We’ll all find out tomorrow. Me first, then Scamp and then you lot!

Cold begone! – 17 September 2018

Woke with a fairly clear head this morning and the roughness in my throat had gone. I was miraculously cured!

Just as well really because today is Monday and that’s Gems’ Day. There is no way I could have gone to my bed and stayed there all day while they were singing. What I did do was strip out some old silicone sealant from the shower cabinet and dry out the resulting cavity. Then resealed it and left the bathroom smelling strongly of vinegar. It’s not the best repair in the world, but I think it’s waterproof, or at least better than it was which is the next best thing. Tomorrow, I have to put the shower cabinet back together again with more silicone.

With that done I was free to go out and take some photos. I drove up to the back of Fannyside to see if there were any likely subjects. I found a field with some black sheep that looked as if they’d just arrived from the sales. Usually sheep spread themselves thinly across a field, but this lot were all bunched together and when one of them ventured away from the crowd, the rest followed like … er … sheep! Must visit them next week to see if they’ve settled in a bit better.

My subjects today were macros. A scary looking Daddy Longlegs spider, some Cladonia lichen and some moss fruiting bodies. And the winner is <Cue Drum Roll> The Cladonia. It was a neat, low, tight bunch and that helped keep them nicely in focus.

Scamp was eager to help out with the beginners 6.30 class tonight, so we left early. Unfortunately there was an EIS union meeting in the main hall of the STUC building, so parking was at a premium and we were lumped in a small room on the second floor. Worse still, it was a carpeted room. It’s really hard to dance on a carpet, and especially hard to dance salsa on a carpet. They were doing turns tonight and with the friction of my feet on the carpet, it wasn’t doing my poor wee knee any good. Thankfully the meeting finished before our own class started and we were back on a hard slippy floor. Tonight’s move was called ‘Seo’. Not its real name of course. That was just the name of one of the dancers in a video the teacher had learned the move from. Jamie G once taught a move called Setenta Batman. We searched YouTube to find that move without any success until years later when another teacher told the class that the move was called Setenta Batman because the teacher in the video was wearing a Batman tee shirt. You get used to this method of naming moves after a while.
Andrew and, the newly returned to the fold, Megan had their first beginners class tonight. Apparently it went really well. I don’t imagine we will be helping with that class … Ever!

Tomorrow we may be going for a swim. If so, I may go to the gym and loosen up my leg on the bikes. First time since the spring, I believe!