IMG_4158- blog

The beginning of the end – 10 August 2017

The sun was shining when we woke this morning, but then it said goodbye as the clouds rolled in and took its place.

That more or less summed up the day. Cloudy. Not cold and not wet, just dull.

Scamp went for messages and I painted over yesterday’s twee little landscape thing. Then I did what Fred had been talking about, the technique of the moment called Acrylic Pouring. He’s got a garage to paint in, I’ve got a back bedroom with a carpet on the floor. A light coloured carpet. That restricted the Jackson Pollock in me and I took a bit more care than he would have in my search for an abstract. As is usually the case, after a bit of mixing and splashing, the basis of a landscape appeared. I let fly with another burst of acrylic paint and the landscape disappeared under some cloud, then magically reappeared. At this point, Scamp returned laden with shopping and I had to stop to help her and allow my ‘creation’ dry. Then it was lunch time.

After lunch I poked, prodded and generally abused the canvas a bit more, then went out to take some photos. I love the work the volunteers have done in St Mo’s, creating a wildflower garden. The council threw some seed down a few years ago and with much publicity claimed it had created a wildflower garden. Weeds and grass do not a wildflower garden make NLC. Thankfully the volunteers took over and finished the job. Anyway, the autumn colours of the flowers today shone in the sun that was playing hide and seek among the breaking clouds and that is my PoD.

Came home after a short walk, because there were weans everywhere, also trying to make the most of the sun on their last full week of the summer holidays. Only they were noisier and not as well behaved as me.  As I was walking home from St Mo’s, and less than 50m from home, there were two deer.  A buck and a hind, grazing as if they were out on a hillside in Glencoe.  I managed a few shots, then thought better of going closer in case I spooked them and they ran off across the busy road.  Photo on Flickr.

After dinner, which was a lovely chicken breast on a green vegetable spread (with potatoes, of course) we were just watching the girls running races on the TV (some big ‘running races’ thing in London) when I absentmindedly pinged the cap off my tooth. It had only lasted about a month! I think it may be a waste of the dentist’s and my time replacing it this time.

Whisper it. It’s going to rain tomorrow. Oh no, the beginning of the end!

IMG_4158- blog

The search continues – 28 June 2017

Today we drove to Stirling because at Springkerse in the town (I know, Mrs McQueen made it a city in 2000, but it’s still a town to me) at Springkerse there are a host of car retailers.

First stop was Arnold Clark for a look at a Renault. The Megane we looked at was too big, definitely too big, so was the price. It came off the list right away. Next up was the Clio from the same garage. It was much more like what we had in our heads, and after some jiggery pokery with the figures, so was the price. Had a seat in one and quite liked it. Were offered a test drive, but declined. Once our shortlist is complete we’ll use test drives to whittle it down.
Next up was Peugeot. Maybe we got off to a bad start by not having an actual model in mind, maybe he took a look at the scruffy jeans and dirty old rugby shirt and decided we couldn’t afford anything but a second hand car, but although he was pleasant enough, he wasn’t as enthusiastic as he could have been. We sat in a 208, but it was a second-hand bottom of the range model and it wasn’t what I was looking for. Off the list.
Last for the day was Nissan. Scamp didn’t like the Juke – I didn’t really think she would. It’s too big she said. We looked at the new Micra. The dealer said it was actually bigger than the Juke. He lied, it’s not. It is marginally smaller. I didn’t like it, Scamp did. He did offer us an interesting test drive option, whereby we could take the car for up to 24 hours and give it a long test. Nissan would even pay for the insurance! Again, after number crunching he came up with a much better price than the lady in Glasgow had offered. I think the Juke and the Micra both stay on the list, but I also think that Macklin Motors in Glasgow are now off the list.
That was the end of testing for today.

Had coffee in Stirling and then I needed to get a sketch done, and that is what you see here. I’ve been reading an excellent sketching book by Liz Steel entitled Five Minute Sketching – Architecture. I can’t say with any honesty that I can achieve the five minutes yet, but I’m putting a lot of her ideas into practise. I’m a lot better pleased with it than I was with yesterday’s effort.

When I got home, Scamp was on cooking duty so I had almost an hour in St Mo’s and came upon the little deer almost right away. As usual, I had the wrong lens on the Nikon, but managed to change and grab a few shots before Bambi took off.

Salsa tonight was a bit of a mix up with Jamie G taking over one of Colin’s classes and trying to teach a move that was new to both his class and Colin’s. Of course, us as old hands knew it (Romeo and Juliet) It was a bit of a shambles to start with, but then it began to flow a lot better. Let’s hope they all, or at least most of them, come back next week.

Beautiful sunset tonight after a lovely day with loads of sunshine.  I didn’t photograph the sunset.  Yes, it was lovely, but everyone forgets that if you don’t have a decent foreground and an interesting midground, a beautiful sunset is just some oversaturated colours flung together.  So speaks Oscar the Grouch!

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It’s supposed to rain.

IMG_4158- blog

Early Start – 7 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMG_4158- blog

Driving Miss Daisy – 20 May 2017

Well, it should have been Scamp we were driving, but Driving Miss Scamp didn’t have the same ring. Then to be perjink about it, we’d have to say Driving Mrs Scamp and by that time the title doesn’t scan and we lose the whole joy of it. Soooo, Driving Miss Daisy it is. By the way, isn’t perjink a lovely word? It means neat or fastidious.

We drove to Stirling today to get a new jacket for Scamp. She had a 20% discount voucher burning a hole in her pocket, or her purse to be more perjink. Enough? Yes, enough.
We were driving just ahead of the bad weather, you could see it in the rear view mirror. As we walked in to Stirling town centre, the rain came on, but we managed to shelter in M&S. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Scamp’s jacket in the right size. I suggested we should go to Glasgow because there are two big M&S shops there.

As we were driving down the M80 the rain got heavier and heavier and then CITRAC lit up with a warning of congestion just a mile or so before the M8/M80 junction and from experience, this means that the motorway will choke up and driving in that is no fun at all. I’m guessing that those 22 men from Wednesday were having another kick about. Time for a change of plans. Glasgow Fort has a big M&S store and we had time to change lanes to get there and avoid the congestion on the M80. That is what we did and also as a bonus, we drove out of the torrential rain.

At the Fort, Scamp got her jacket in the colour and size she wanted. Sorted. Lunch was in Wagamama across the road. While we were there, the next rain shower descended on us and it was nice to be sitting looking out at folk getting wet. After lunch we went our separate ways for a while. Me to Waterstones and Scamp window shopping. We met up at Hobbycraft as we had planned. I’ve an idea to make a fold up stand for my Linx 10 tablet. It makes it so much easier to type into with the Bluetooth keyboard, so I got a piece of 3mm plywood to make it. Fairly strong and light, plywood should be ideal. Today’s PoD came from The Fort and is one of a group of bronze deer statues around the site.

Back home, I managed to convince Adobe to allow me to download Lightroom 6 for half price because I had a serial number for my original LR 1. It’s not an amazing upgrade from V5, but at least I can get the Teazer’s RAW files processed more easily. Yes, the Teazer is a keeper. It produced today’s PoD.

Tomorrow? Maybe going for plants for the raised bed to keep the peas company and also the beetroot which just appeared today. Maybe dancing too in Paisley. We’ll see.

IMG_4158- blog

Breaking new ground – 8 May 2017

A Monday is Scamp’s Gems day, so generally, I make myself scarse. Today I’d decided to go exploring.

The morning was all about gardening. Added some more compost and soil to the raised bed and gave it a good soaking.  Then replanted the beetroot. Hopefully it will grow this time. Also planted out five of the peas I’ve been bringing on inside and hardening off in the mini greenhouse. Planted some spinach and kale in trays and put them into the space the peas have vacated in the mini greenhouse. I also planted out the strange wee plants I’ve been growing from seed since last autumn.  I don’t know what they are, or where they came from.  Maybe they will grow into a gigantic bean stalk.  That was enough work for one day, so the man who worked in the garden went and had lunch then got ready to go out.

I’d intended cycling to a wee nature reserve on the Auchinstarry road.  We’ve lived here for thirty odd years and this is the first time I’ve visited it.  Got there and found it’s a lot bigger than it looks from the road. Unfortunately it was nowhere near the building I wanted to photograph. I think it’s a ventilation shaft for an old mine. I couldn’t even see where it was from the nature reserve. More investigation required.

While I was sitting sunning myself in what was a natural suntrap, protected from the cool east wind, I managed to get a few shots of a hover fly and that’s my PoD.

I decided I had to find that wee building and cycled out along the Kirkie road and eventually found it half a field away!  Maybe tomorrow or later in the week I’ll visit it, on foot.

Carried on to the Drumgrew bridge and followed my nose into what used to be an old dump, but now looks as if it is being redeveloped. Lots of fenced off areas and warnings about Japanese Knotweed, so I kept well away. Two deer, a doe and a buck weren’t so bothered and casually walked across in front of me. Of course both cameras were in my bag and by the time I’d retrieved the Oly 10 the deer had realised they were not alone and jumped the fence totally ignoring the warning signs. Hooligan deer, obviously!

That was about it as far as cycling and photography was concerned. Am now standing as acting doorman at STUC building while Scamp gets a chance to dance as a follower for a change.

Salsa was as energetic and as brain taxing as ever with one old and one new move.  The old move was Tresario Doble and the new one was Agamemnon.  Nobody seemed to like Agamemnon, well, nobody except Jamie G.  It might grow on me.

Tomorrow?  Maybe a visit to Glasgow.  Got stuff to get.

IMG_4158- blog

The three did feed the deer – 29 April 2017

We were supposed to be going to a market this morning, but the plans were changed and we went to Kingston instead.  Not a big problem for us as we both like that place by the Thames.

While ND and Hazy went off to look for shoes, Scamp and I wandered round the labyrinth (this weekend’s word) of shops and alleys, agreeing to meet the other two back at the car in a couple of hours time.  It was getting near that time when we exited one alleyway to find ND and Hazy at the end.  Serendipity.  Lunch was eaten in the open air at the market in the centre of the town.  Scamp had Chicken Biryani and I had Achari Chicken.  I also found an Italian food stall selling cannoli (not e to self – find a recipe) and bought some.  Unfortunately, Hazy has a severe egg allergy and can’t eat cannoli which have a lot of eggs in them.  We can.  We did.  Headed back home and let Hazy rest while we went to Richmond Park.  We went to see the deer, but not feed them, despite the title of today’s blog.  However when we got the parking place, we wandered round the Isabella Plantation, one of the fenced off gardens, instead.  It was a good choice for Scamp because the azaleas were in full bloom and a good choice for ND and I because of the variety of photo opportunities.  When we had ooh’d and ah’d our fill in the Isabella, we took a walk round the woods and chanced on a couple of herds of deer.  Unlike the St Mo’s deer, these creatures were quite happy to sit or stand around having their photos taken.  Our exertions deserved an ice cream cone each and then we went home taking the long route round the extensive park.

Dinner tonight was ND’s Spanish Rice with Chicken and Prawns – got that recipe.   Then we watched Fantastic Beasts, the Harry Potter spinoff.  I must admit, I was lost halfway through, but did enjoy the CGI.  After a while I began to believe what I was watching was real.

Tomorrow we are having a lazy day and going to Canute and Delia’s for lunch.

IMG_4158- blog

Away again – 13 April 2017

Got up early, just after 6.30 to go for a walk because it was too warm!  Too warm in Scotland in April?  Walked around St Mo’s and although I saw some deer, they were too far away, so it was flooers and blossom that provided the PoD.

Scamp out for coffee with Isobel in the morning, giving me time to frame up my mixed media painting.  Not sure now if it’s the right colour of mount, maybe it’s a bit too dark.  I also managed to get my packing done for the visit down south.
After Scamp returned, I went for coffee with Val.  Fred was indisposed with flu, so sent his apologies.  Val was on good form and we discussed computers and technology in general over a couple of cups of java.

Bought a pot of Marguerites for Scamp in B&Q and they fitted perfectly into the pot vacated by the Black Eyed Susans.

Then it was time to get organized properly and get the bus into Glasgow.  Then the airport bus to be told that the plane was delayed by 20min.  What do you expect from EasyJet?

Pleasant flight and was met by JIC at Stanstead.

Long day, many miles travelled by car, bus, bus, plane and finally car.

Vixen didn’t seem too impressed with me, although Scamp was readily accepted.  Maybe she’ll be better tomorrow.

Going for a walk through the gardens of a stately home tomorrow, hopefully.

IMG_4158- blog

The end of summer – 28 March 2017

Like they say, “What a difference a day makes”.  Gone were the blue skies, gone was the sun, and with it the warmth.  At least it was dry, but the forecast for tomorrow is for wall to wall rain.  That being so, I rest my case m’lud.  The end of summer.

Up and out early to take the Megane to the garage for new front brake disks and pads and a new trackrod .  Spoken like someone who knows exactly what they are.  I know what brake disks are and what the pads do.  I’ve also got a basic knowledge of what a trackrod does and the fact that it’s got an end, probably a beginning too.  What I can say for certain is that, combined, they cost pennies short of £300 which was duly paid around lunchtime when I went to collect the car.  A car that will now stop when you tell it to, and one that will go round corners properly.

Earlier, partly to take my mind off the fact that the Megane was under the knife, and partly because we needed ‘messages’, Scamp drove me to Asda at Robroyston with the inevitable coffee at Costa afterwards.  It was there we saw a *STAR*.  ’Shellsuit Bob’ from River City, no less!  Looking much the same as he does on TV.  Our lives will not be the same from now on, knowing that ’Shellsuit Bob’ is a real person.  We watched River City tonight knowing that we had been sitting within feet of a *STAR*.

After lunch and having picked up the car, the sky lightened a bit and I went out to see what I could see (and photograph) over in St Mo’s.  Took my new favourite lens with me, hoping for some macro shots.  It’s amazing what you see when you’re looking for close-ups.  Most of todays pics were taken with the D7000 and Sigma 105mm combo.  Obviously the deer shot was taken with the 300mm end of the Tamron, and it looked quite good.

Hopefully off for beer and pizza with the Auld Guys tomorrow … in the rain.

IMG_4158- blog

Deepan’ Crispan’ Deevan’ – 21 March 2017

It’s snow, of course and that’s what we woke to today.  Not that deep and not that crisp as the temperature was three above zero and very uneven.  In fact it was just a scraping of show, but then, as I was making the breakfast, the snow returned, blown along by Windy Willie’s wild westerly wind.  Now, that’s what you call alliteration!

Once we realised that we wouldn’t be snowed in any time soon, we decided to go to Falkirk to retrieve a ring, a substitute wedding ring, that Scamp had handed in last week for repair.  Not long after I retired we went to Ayr and Scamp tripped and damaged her hand.  I thought her finger was broken, but it was just badly staved.  So badly staved that the wedding ring had to be cut off because it was restricting the blood supply to her finger.  That was almost three years ago.  It took a long time to get the ring repaired, but today we picked it up from the jeweller looking as good as new.  Driving home was a challenge with torrential rain, hail and sleet driving straight towards us.

When we got home and had lunch, the wet stuff had stopped and the sun had come out again, so it was boots on and out to St Mo’s.  I took the Big Dog with the macro lens and the E-PL5 with a 20mm lens.  A nice combo.  Just waked into the woods and saw two deer grazing down the path.  They were crosswind to me, so didn’t sniff my deodorant I crept down the path walking on the grass, not on the broken twigs, so they didn’t hear me either.  It would have been better to have brought the 300mm Tamron, but the macro gives such good quality results that I wasn’t all that worried.  The landscape is from the 20mm lens, another good quality lens.

Got home and did a bit of messing around painting the hills with snow on them.  Four miniatures in different colour schemes and another four ready for finishing tomorrow.

Tomorrow?  Not got a clue.  According to the weatherman, the snow will be gone and the weather is set fine.  As usual, we’ll see.

IMG_4158- blog

Visitors – 14 March 2017

So, what of today then?  Jackie was coming down from Skye to stay for a night before going to Embra tomorrow for a meeting, so the painting room/sewing room/back bedroom had to be cleared of extraneous junk, so that would take up most of my morning.

Got stuck in and was doing quite well until Hazy phoned and then I just had to talk to her, so the clearing up was put on the back burner for a short while, but only for a short while, then I decided to hang some of my recent paintings, so that meant some of the older ones had to be removed into storage, ie hidden behind painting board or anything else I could find.  After a few hours work with extra time for phone calls and gallery reconstruction, it was done.  Well, not so much done as there was now room for anyone to walk into the room, find the sofa bed and possibly, only possibly make it to the window without tripping over some essential piece of tech.  That’s when I found that the steam iron had still had some water in its reservoir when I put it down on my PC laptop which was sitting on my printer.  Now both had dripping pools of water.  Oh dear.  The main thing was it was a PC and therefore expendable.  If it had been the MBP it would have been a totally different matter and I wouldn’t have been sitting here typing this.  With the aid of a few cloths and some kitchen paper the disaster was averted – I think.  It still works, but the fan is making some strange noises now.  I’ll leave it to dry out properly before I investigate further.

After lunch which was soup from a Tesco recipe, good, but not great, I floated around waiting for decent weather to arrive and entice me out to St Mo’s to grab some photos. I did get a couple of shots of bluetits on the bird feeder, but they were little more than grab shots. There was a blustery wind and fleeting sun splashes with heavy rain showers in between. Finally, I decided to brave it and just go out into the wild weather and do it.  As you would expect with such blustery conditions, there wasn’t a lot to photograph.  Some ducks and swans on the pond and a couple of deer – too far away to be any use – there was little of interest.  I did get a shot of some trees against an interesting sunset sky, but that was it.  What I did do was a stupid thing.  I ran out of shots on the SD card, so had to delete some of yesterday’s frog pictures.  In doing that, I accidentally deleted the bluetit pictures from lunchtime.  Unfortunately the D7000 does not have and ‘undo’ function.  Thankfully when I got home I found a demo of a data retrieval prog – Diskdrill – that allowed me to retrieve the JPG versions of the shots and save them to disk.  You really need the full version of the app, not the demo, to do it properly, but I still managed it.  Thankfully because they were high resolution images I got some editing done.

Jackie and June arrived and we had Trinni stewed chicken and Scamp’s Pineapple Snow for pudding with chilli sauce.  Delicious again.

A good night after a wild day.  No plans for tomorrow.