They brought a tank – 11 November 2019

I made my decision this morning and packed up the Sony RX 100iii.

It was a pretty little thing, but in the end it was overpriced, even considering what I paid for it and it didn’t do what I intended it to. It had to go. Drove into Glasgow and returned it. I got my money back and also had the JL points deducted from my account, which is only fair. I then bought a Panasonic TZ 90. Not nearly as pretty as the Sony, but a lot more useful I hope. I wanted a camera with a large sensor, a long zoom and a tilting rear screen with a viewfinder if possible, Santa. The TZ 90 doesn’t have the large sensor but it does have a long zoom, a tilting screen and a viewfinder. Actually the Sony had ticks in all but one of my boxes too, but I just didn’t like it. It’s as simple as that. The TZ 90 is to replace a hard worked TZ70, so most of the controls are in familiar places. The fact that it was £100 cheaper was of no consequence.

Came home and Scamp was just going out to get Gems. After a quick lunch and a cursory glance at the users manual, I plugged the camera in and let it charge and charge and charge for about four hours. In the meantime I took the Oly out for a run. I needed petrol and a run in the country would lift my spirits, I thought. Drove up onto Fannyside Moss and that’s where today’s PoD came from. Lovely cloudscape over the far hills. They had been covered with a light dusting of snow this morning, but now almost all of it was gone.

Came back just as Gems were leaving. After some discussion, Scamp and I decided that we’d miss out on Salsa tonight, because we both had a lot to do.

On the way back from my photo trip, I took a run past the school and, oh dear. It looks like they brought in a tank after all. The glazing panels down the side of the Techy block are gone and part of T1 drawing room has gone. It won’t be long until it’s just a memory. Goodbye T4. I had some good days and some bad days there, but mostly good.

No great plans for tomorrow. We’ll see where the day takes us.

The Highs and the Lows – 8 November 2019

Cameras. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

I’ve been looking for a replacement for my Panasonic Lumix TZ70 which is a wonderful pocket camera. Long, Long zoom, shoots in the malleable RAW format, nice comfortable grip and an ideal form factor. Its big drawbacks are the small sensor (the digital “film”) and its habit of sucking in dust to the lens and ultimately to the sensor. A tiny bit of dust on a DSLR sensor is a bit of a pain, as is a tiny hair. On a sensor that’s smaller than your pinkie nail, that tiny bit of dust is a great black blob. My Teazer has a host of those blobs and now has a hair to keep them company. That’s my reasoning for looking for a replacement. Not ‘another’ camera as JIC will have it, but a replacement. One in, one regretfully out.

I’ve been charting the price fluctuations of a Sony RX100iii for the past few weeks and had a look at the camera in Jessops which was the cheapest of the local shops and Amazon too. Today when I checked, the price had risen by £30 from £449 to £479. The price hike, I presume is so they can ‘reduce’ the price again for Black Friday at the end of the month. It looked like it was out of the question, but I had a second runner in the race and thought I’d have a look at it. Went to JL and they had it in stock it was a Panasonic LX10 (I knew you’d want to know that JIC), but although it had a viewfinder, it didn’t have tilting screen which I now use a lot on my Olys. Bummer! Then I noticed in the reduced section in JL, the Sony I’d been denied by Jessops false price hike. Better than that, it was a kit, complete with a finger grip and a leather case. Best of all, it was about £100 below even the original asking price for the kit in Jessops! I took it. Things were on the up, perhaps. Scamp had got herself ‘another’ pair of jeans in M&S, so she was a happy bunny too.

Came home and went to lunch at Milano Express at Old Inns. Pizzas were a bit of a disappointment, lovely light, well-fired base, but far too heavy on the cheese. Must ask for less cheese next time. Had a relaxing lunch and Scamp was driving on a beautiful sunny day.

By the time we got home there was hardly any time to grab a photo and I did want to unpack this small miracle camera. It was small, it is tiny. Without the finger grip it’s very difficult to hold. Quite slippery. The controls, too are tiny and the menu is a labyrinth of jargon filled abbreviations. You can control the camera using NFC which is great, but the software is a bit clumsy and doesn’t always work. Also, the ‘control’ you have is whether to shoot with a time delay or not. No chance to change aperture or shutter speed. No clue what you’re focusing on. It’s all a bit hit or miss, but mostly miss. Long story short, although the camera is perfect and looks like it’s never been used, I think it may go back on JL’s shelf soon.

Today’s PoD is a slice of pomegranate, but could equally well be a slice through my befuddled brain!

Tomorrow we have no plans.

Over the Forth on the Fifth – 5 November 2019

Yesterday was Gems day. A Tuesdays is rapidly becoming our day.

It was a lovely morning and we decided we had to go out and enjoy it. Scamp suggested Kirkintilloch and I suggested Dunfermline. Scamp then said that was her second choice and we’d go to Kirkie on our next free day, so Dunfermline it was.

The River Forth was shining beautifully when we drove over the Kincardine Bridge. I was tempted to stop, but I’d proposed Dunfermline and while Scamp wouldn’t have complained about me taking a diversion, I thought I’d better stick to the plan. We parked just at Pittencrief Park and had a walk round the park in beautiful light shining through the trees and lighting them up. Found today’s PoD there too. A genuine fairy toadstool. The notorious Fly Agaric. Look but don’t touch unless you want to wake up in hospital, or never again.

The walk up through the town was less photogenic. Boarded up shops and more than their fair share of charity shops. It was like an outdoor version of the Cumbersheugh Town Centre. Good enough for coffee and a bit to eat though. After that we just walked back to the car, via M&S for Scamp and Waterstones for me.

As we were driving home the clouds seemed to be gathering, but I don’t think they were serious about it because the forecast is for sub zero temperatures tonight because of the clear skies. Also, as we reached the Forth again on the way out of Fife, with the low sun the river was shining again. I resisted the temptation again.

Practised the Fearsome Four Jive moves for tomorrow and I seem to have a finger hold on them at last. I’ll let the little grey cells work on them overnight and file the successful method away for further reference. Tomorrow morning we’ll try again and all will be well, I’m sure.

That was about it for today. A lovely day, most enjoyable. Tomorrow, hopefully, we’re dancing again.

Rain and Balloons – 4 November 2019

All day, it rained. I think it should stop now, we get the message.

There was no point in going anywhere today unless you had to. Scamp had to go out to collect some of Gems, because today was Monday and that’s what happens on a Monday, Gems come. After she came back and after Margie and I had a look at each other’s drawings, I got my wet weather stuff on and drove out to the local council tip to get rid of the bottle of stinking oil I’d used to make the pakora the other day. After that I drove back via Tesco to get some money from the money machine and to get milk. You understand that there are times when these things are the highlights of the day.

Salsa tonight was enough to brighten any day. Tonight was Jamie G’s Halloween Party with balloons, fairy lights, glow sticks and reindeer antlers. There should have been witches hats, but one the other teachers had stolen them. Children? What can you do with them? As well as the usual festivities, this was the first night of a beginners class and we were called upon to help out. It wasn’t an onerous task, in fact it’s quite fun to be considered an “expert”. It’s also fun to watch their faces when Jamie demonstrates what they’ll be able to do in eight weeks time. You can see them whispering to each other, “I’ll never be able to do that!” But the thing is, They Will! Yes a Halloween party with everybody acting like big kids and a chance to be an “Expert”. Those two things made me forget about the dull day and the rain.

Today’s PoD is a sycamore seed which was stuck by the rain on the rear light cluster of the car. I liked the patterns the rain made more than anything else.

Tomorrow looks like a better day, but we’ll have to wait until morning to see if it works out that way.

Singing, Photographs and Numpties – 2 November 2019

Today was going to be a busy day with a load of culture.

Today I was dropping Scamp off in Baillieston at midday for a choir rehearsal and then I was off into Glasgow to see Dougie’s photographs of Cuba.

The first part was fairly easy although the sat nav took us by a different route from that chosen by Google Maps. No big problem though because it got us there, possibly quicker than Google would have. Dropped Scamp off and headed for Glasgow. Took a wrong turning, but followed my nose and the lie of the land and found my way on to the M8 again at Easterhouse.

Got to Glasgow and parked on level 6 of Buchanan Galleries. Even then it was just a lucky space. Don’t usually have to go that high! When I was walking down to Tolcross where the exhibition was, I did notice more than the normal amount of Saltire clad Scotsmen (and women, but mainly men). The worrying bit was the amount of police roaming George Square. Much more than a normal Saturday.

Got to Dougie’s exhibition and had a word with him. Some lovely prints on the wall. Didn’t even ask the price because:

  1. If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.
  2. I’d been in such a rush to get there, I hadn’t had time to go to the bank and I only had £10 in my pocket. That said, £10 was the price of the catalogue, signed catalogue too by both artists, so not that bad.

Listened to the introduction to the gallery and the ethos behind the photos. Then the two photogs took us through a few of their photos, explaining the reasons for hanging them. Dougie spoke no Spanish and Roberto Chile, the other photog spoke no English, so the translator was kept busy. My one criticism of the event was the translator. He spoke in a monotone all the time. Shannon (Dance teacher Shannon) was there. She would have been a much better translator and would have injected a bit more life into the talk, and the occasional “Ooo la la” too. I must suggest it to Dougie.

Too many people there and too few seats, which meant I was leaving with a sore back. Walked back up the hill and found that the Saltire Army must have been breeding. There were hundreds of them all being whipped into a frenzy by some opinionated numpty with a microphone. The crowd did, however, give me the opportunity to take some crowd photos. Best one I got was That Selfie Moment which made PoD.

Walked up to the car and was trying to get out when I came across a poor woman trying to reverse what I suspect was her husband’s rather large automatic Audi out of a tight parking space. She was in a tizzy and had got herself into a position where it was almost impossible for her to move back in to the space and impossible to get out. I took the bull by the horns and gave her some simple driving instructions and between the two of us we got it out without any bumps or scrapes.

Drove to Tesco to get lunch and then realised that it was 3.30pm and Scamp’s concert started at 4.00pm. Dumped the loaf that would have been my lunch and drove back in to Baillieston and just got there in time. Thoroughly enjoyed the Faure Requiem. An hour’s peaceful music in a busy day.

Dinner was a dire curry from Bombay Dreams. Not sure what was wrong with it, but it wasn’t their best. Suffice to say if the next one isn’t any better we’ll be looking for an new Indian take-away.

Tomorrow we may go for a walk and there’s talk of a practise session for Jive, Quickstep and Waltz in the afternoon.

On the Bonny, Bonny Banks – 29 October 2019

Today we visited Loch Lomond.

Tuesdays are becoming the ‘just go’ days. Just get up, get out and go somewhere. Today that ‘somewhere’ was Balmaha on Loch Lomond side. To those who have never heard of it, it sounds like somewhere exotic, but you’re probably getting mixed up with The Bahamas. It was not very exotic today, in fact it was a bit cold, but when you were in the sun it didn’t feel too bad.

We had packed a flask and the usual assortment of picnic food like crisps and chocolate biscuits. Good healthy food and not in the least fattening. Before we got stuck into that we had to do some walking to get the blood flowing after our 50 minute drive. Walked down to the jetty and that’s where I got today’s PoD. It’s a two frame panorama stitched in Lightroom 6, thanks for asking. The blue sky is real and it looks exactly like the view from that pontoon today.

After getting my photos we walked back to give some other folk a shot on the pontoon. Took some more photos near the poorly tended Tom Weir garden. Then it was back to the car for a coffee and a chocky biscuit.

Scamp fancied stopping at the Beech Tree Restaurant on the way home, so that’s what we did. Luckily the Sat Nav lady knew the way to Dumgoyne and gave us directions.

Food was good, but I got a fright when the waitress asked me if my name was Campbell and was I a Techy teacher, if so there was a young lady sitting in the corner seat who thought she knew me. It turned out to be a former pupil and thankfully, it was one of the most pleasant ones I’d taught. I went over and had a few words with her and her dad who I remembered from various parents nights. Poor girl, like so many others, she’s working in a job she doesn’t like. I know that feeling. It took me many years before I got the opportunity to do a job I really enjoyed. Hope she gets that chance before long. After being properly fed on Haggis, Neeps and Tatties, and giving father and daughter a wave on the way out, we headed for home. Today was a lovely day.

I’m still not sure if the proper term is Skullcandys or Skullcandies. I’m going with the former. These are my go-to headphones (or to be more precise earbuds) when I’m out walking by myself. They fitted the topic today perfectly and the topic was A Pair of Headphones.

Tomorrow Scamp is out in the morning and we’re hoping to dance in the afternoon.

Sunny Coatbridge – 289 October 2019

Beautiful day. Too good to stay in.

Stayed for a while to talk to Margie and cause ructions in the Gems group, then did as I suggested I would yesterday and made a sharp exit.

Since we are taking June to get her eyes checked on Thursday, it made sense to do a quick recce of Coatbridge. I was pretty sure I knew where I was going, and I was right. More importantly, I found where the parking was. There’s not a lot of it in Coatbridge and most of it is either owned by Asda or NLC education department, neither of which I trust with the Red Juke. I’m sure there are other more secure parking places near the building. Google will know, even if I don’t.

Since I was in Coatbridge, I thought I’d have a look at the grand building Clive and I had investigated on Google Maps. It took a bit of finding, but today with the sun shining on it, it did indeed look very grand. It also looked like the original building had been there for a long time. I don’t know how much of it IS original now, but it looks expensively refurbished. Didn’t want to risk taking photos of it for fear of security taking an interest in me. Maybe another day. On the way there, I discovered that Coatbridge has a cricket club. Who would have thought that?

On the way home I stopped at St Mo’s and that’s where I got the PoD.  I just thought the nearly naked tree looked a great shape against that bright blue sky.  Later I though about straightening up the slope of the grass, but eventually decided it looked ok like that.  I must look next time and see if it really does slope.

Back home and after dinner we set off for Glasgow and Salsa. Tonight we learned that New One No 2 is now called Timber. Named after a snake I believe! Jamie G also tried to reinvent a couple of moves from last week. The first one, a Rueda move, he decided could be extended to run infinitely. It caused a fair bit of confusion. The second one which might or might not have a name could be converted to a follower’s move according to him. I don’t know if many of the followers or any of the leaders managed it.

Today the demand was for a sketch of coins or dosh or smash or loose change. I had to cadge some extra spondoolicks to bolster my meagre collection, but then, it is nearly the end of the month.

We have plans for tomorrow, but only if the weather fairies behave. It’s 1.2ºc just now, so we’ll have to be well wrapped up.

I thought I’d have a day in town today – 24 October 2019

Just window shopping mainly, but with intent.

Drove up to the station to see if there were any spaces. There weren’t, there were cars everywhere. Cars parked up on two wheels on the verges, cars in the flower beds, cars double parked. This is just carnage from Tuesday to Thursday. I think a lot of folk either work from home or take a holiday on Mondays and Fridays, because I can usually get parked without a problem then. However, there is always the worry that when you come back some moron has parked in front of you. Maybe a ‘ten pence coach line’ would remind them that behaviour like that is not acceptable. Sooo I had to drive in to Glasgow.

I was give a list of shower gels to get for Scamp in Molton Brown. Of course they don’t call them ‘shower gels’, they call them Body Wash. Isn’t that what shower gels do, wash your body? Anyway, today was the start of their annual 20% off offer so that’s why I was given the list. With the job done I wandered my way back up Bucky Street to see what goodies Jessops had for me. My attention was a girl interrogating an older couple. Then I felt a hand on my chest. It was attached to a woman about my age and it was there to stop me walking into her! I hate folk that don’t look where they’re going, and here was I doing exactly that thing. I apologised and laughed and thankfully she did too. Never did find out what the girl was doing.

I hadn’t heard that Jessops were on the point of being put into administration – for the second time. It was only when another customer asked one of the assistants if the shop was closing. His reaction gave the lie to his explanation that nothing was certain yet. Another one bites the dust, I think.

I had another look at the Sony RX 100 camera and for once the salesman I was talking to didn’t push me to try the version 5 of the camera, but said the best bargain was the version 3. I’m still not sure if it’s what I’m looking for. It has a silly little pop up viewfinder that I’m sure I’d break within the first month and then regret shelling out my money for it for the rest of the ownership.

Back home via Tesco to get the makings of dinner. Then I just had to visit the new Aldi store. It was a bit smelly and that could have been the veg counter, or just the great unwashed. I’m not sure which.

Back home I was in the middle of making a pot of Scamp’s Just Soup when the lady herself returned from her gig. It seemed to be a resounding success as it always is in Abronhill.

I left her to cool down and talk to her sister on the phone while I went to get today’s PoD. It turned out to be a little bush which grows wild around here with white berries and pink flowers. It’s called a Snowberry Bush. I liked the flower and the composition.

Apart from fish and prawns, I ‘m not a great fan of seafood, especially shellfish. However, that was today’s topic and needs must … Most of the bits and pieces were cobbled together from various photos of shellfish on the Internet. A splash or two of paint and we’re done!

No plans for tomorrow.

Another day not wasted – 17 October 2019

Today we had decided we’d go out somewhere again. I chose where today.

Out fairly early and I thought I knew how to get to Rouken Glen in Glasgow, but I came off the M77 one slip road too early and ended up having to program the sat nav and drive through a cluster of roads I’d never been on before. Next time I’ll trust the sat nav and not my intuition. Got there after a grand tour of the South Side. Found a place to park, squeezing into a space in a car park that was designed for about 300 cars, with only about 20 actual cars in it.

Scamp wanted some crocus bulbs to plant in the front grass. It’s not a lawn, it’s not a green, it’s front grass. She planted some last year about this time and they looked lovely in little groups in the springtime. The first packet, in fact the only packet I saw on the rack was called Dorothy. Bright yellow crocuses. Very fitting in view of our visit to Ayrshire last week, so we took them. Also got a packet of loose crocus bulbs in what we hope were mixed colours. Scamp also got a pot of mixed, real, heather. They also had imitation heather which looked real, but wasn’t as interesting as the real, real heathers we got. I got a kit for growing chillies. Finally, we got an oval planter which was great for carrying all the other things. We put them in the Juke boot and went for a walk, because, although we had driven through a few rain showers on our way to the South Side of Glasgow, it was fine now and the sun was shining. Walked around the park and admired the trees in leaf. It was one of those trees, a Hornbeam that made PoD. Try as I might, I couldn’t get rid of the flare from the sun, so I just had to accept it and I now think it looks ok. I did manage to use my adaptable lens hood to good effect later in the walk.

Loads of folk had arrived while we were walking and there must have been about 30 cars now in that big car park. It seemed that most of them had disgorged weans and dogs, because they were everywhere. Many of the weans were gathered under big spreading Chestnut trees picking up chessies or conkers if you’re English. Anyway, great fun was being had by all.

We had a quick lunch in the garden centre. Soup was good. Cakes were excellent but coffee was dire. I think the espresso machine was only there for show. I’m certain my coffee came out of a jar, not a bean. There was certainly a degree of sleight of hand in its making.

Drove home and just as we were getting out of the car, the rain appeared and stayed on and off all afternoon. Scamp didn’t even get her heather planted, but I expect she will tomorrow.

Today’s topic from my Inktober list was “Crumpled Paper”. Crumpled paper may sound simple to draw, but it a difficult subject to draw in ink. With pencil you can add a bit of soft shading. That’s not really possible in ink, especially if you’re just using ink. I could have used a water brush to soften the edges of the lines and give a bit of tonality, but I decided not to and to draw with pen only for a change. This is the result. Parts are good, parts are not. That’s just the way it is sometimes.

Scamp had dentist in the morning tomorrow. We may go in to Glasgow later, depending on the weather and the denture situation.

A Day at the Seaside – 15 October 2019

Up and out we said. Up and out it was today.

Breakfast downstairs today and out for 10.30. Off to the seaside. I chose Troon as our destination. It began to look a bit dicey when we climbed up the M77 to the top of Fenwick Moor and drove into the low lying cloud. Fog lights on and we carried on. Thankfully after about 15 minutes we were back into sunshine with the cloud looking like a grey wall behind us. From there it was sunshine all the way to Troon.

Couldn’t get parked at the first car park, so we carried on to the one we used to go to round by the harbour. The place with the crashy waves. The waves weren’t crashing today, in fact the sea was very calm with only the slightest movement. Arran’s peaks were poking through some low cloud and made a great PoD. Taken by me, chosen from the sixty odd others by Scamp. We walked round the Ballast Bank by the low and now notifiably DANGEROUS path. Sat for a while on one of the seats by the path. Beautiful views over to Horse Island and Ailsa Craig in the distance. Listened to the hundreds of seabirds on the exposed rocks. It could have been summer, sitting in the sun with the high banking sheltering us from the sun.

Eventually we gave up our seat and walked on into town. Nearly at the town Scamp’s cousin appeared with her daughter and the two of them had a long catch up, nearly blocking the path for everyone else. Eventually we split up and went our separate ways. We walked as far as the wind surfers’ car park at the far end of town. There we turned and walked back in to town. I suggested we go to the Venice cafe for lunch. The best part of half an hour for a roll ’n’ sausage and a roll ’n’ scrambled egg. It’s not that they were busy. We were the only ones waiting to be served. No apologies, nothing. Scamp told them in no uncertain manner that we wouldn’t be back. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say that before. That will give you some idea of how angry she was. Now we know why it wasn’t busy.

Walked back to the car and who should we bump into again? Elspeth and her daughter. They had been to Scotts for lunch and that’s where we had been heading before we met them. Don’t see some folk for ages, then you see them twice in the same day.

Drove home through the usual 4pm traffic. No low cloud or fog this time, just loads and loads of cars on a busy road.

Sketch today was “A Dessert”. We had Meringue with Strawberries and Cream for tonight’s dessert and I attempted to draw that, but wasn’t impressed with the attempt, so I drew Strawberries and Cream instead. Three strawberries and a tub of Elmlea. I liked that one!

Maybe we should keep that Juke. Today we started out with 274 miles predicted in the tank. We arrived home with 295 miles predicted in the tank. It seems like the petrol tank is related to the Magic Porridge Pot that never emptied!

Tomorrow it’s dancing in the afternoon, hopefully.