Coffee – 1 November 2018

Coffee with the boys. That’s enough to brighten anyone’s day.

Met Fred and Val for coffee this afternoon and sorted the world out again, discussed spying on bird feeders with Val and received critical acclaim for my Inktober sketches from both, but mainly Fred. While the other two had Cortados, I chose to have a Luxury Hot Chocolate, also know as Diabetes in a Glass. Super sweet chocolate syrup and just a hint of milk to water it down a bit.

We had to split up after an hour or so because Val was meeting his wife and Fred was edgy wondering how long we were allowed to park on in the Green carpark. NLC don’t seem to post a notice of waiting times, so they will argue that the didn’t actually state that you could park there for two hours. That was your supposition, not their stated limit. I think that’s how their mind works. Guilty until proven innocent.

Drove round to B&M for peanuts and fat balls for the bird feeder, then drove to B&Q where I bumped into Fred again who was just leaving. Left there with a picture frame for £2.50 and went to Tesco for a bottle of wine and a magazine for Scamp. Got petrol on the way out and again watched Fred drive past on his way home. I must tell him to stop stalking me, or am I stalking him? Who knows.

Later I went to pick up Isobel and bring her out for her dinner before we went to pick up June and take them to the concert they were going to. For some reason, Scamp decided it would be better (safer?) to park at the badly lit bus stop and decant everybody on to the roadside, then escort them across the road to the hall, rather than park in the carpark for the hall and let them get out there. Women’s logic. I’ll never understand it. Surprisingly, nobody was injured in this road safety nightmare.

Came home and shot tonight’s PoD after having to consult the InterWeb to find out how to get out of the complicated and overcrowded information screen I’d never seen before on the back of the D7000. Not the finest picture in the world, but it’s done. Noticed that Flickr is now going to limit the amount of photos the free account can have to 1,000. Not really surprised, the 1TB was a ridiculous amount of space. I may have to buy a Pro account to keep using it.

Really missing the routine of posting a picture of my sketches every day. I think after a few days of ‘freedom’ I’ll start to fill my ‘Sketches’ album in Flickr again.

Got the phone call to pick up the concert goers at 9.30 and drove Isobel back home. June decided to walk. Driving at that time of night is a delight. No traffic to speak of and no rush. Just driving.

So no sketch tonight, but tomorrow is another day. No plans for it yet, but I’m sure we’ll fill up our time somehow.

31 Not Out – 31 October 2018

An ink sketch every day in October completed.

Thirty one sketches in ten different sketchbooks, using eleven different drawing instruments.
High points, low points. Days when I could have happily posted more than one and days when I could happily have postponed my sketch until the next day. Great fun certainly worth the effort of drawing in ink all the time. It may just have been the fact that you can’t erase mistakes, you just have to accept them. It may have been the opportunity to try different techniques with different types of pens I’d never have thought about drawing with before. Looking forward to the next challenge.

Today was dancing day and it didn’t go well. Scamp made mistakes, I made mistakes and between us we managed to screw up, not only the Jive, but also the Waltz and the Quickstep too. Maybe we were taking ourselves too seriously, maybe we were rating ourselves too highly. Whatever it was, it was knocked out of us today. Me more than Scamp, but we both had a share. We must practise before next week.

On the way home, the light was good on the big glass reflector that is 110 Queen Street and I got some clear shots of the reflections of the old sandstone buildings in it. I also tried some reflections of people in the convex glass panels near the door. The building reflections eventually became PoD after some jiggery pokery in Lightroom.

I’d counted the sketchbooks I’d used last night and the pens too, entering them in an Excel spreadsheet. Today I created that mysterious thing, a Pivot Table. I still don’t really know what I’m doing with it, but what I did worked and gave me a printable list of the things I needed to gather for today’s sketch. I cleared my drawing board and set up the pens in a cup and piled the sketchbooks up beside it and then set to to sketch it. It just seemed to flow together and when the ink work was dry I started in with some watercolour, realising immediately that I hadn’t been using a water resisting ink. However, I liked the shading the ink was producing when mixed with water, and kept it. That is the final sketch in Inktober 2018.

Salsa tonight was a re-run of Monday’s Halloween Party. Scamp and I won equal first place with another couple for the Dress the Mummy competition. I do hope Jamie G has a video of it, or even some photos. Great fun again.  What wasn’t fun was trying to thread a way through the football traffic on our way to the STUC.  I hate football traffic.

That’s about it. Successes and failures today. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Fred and Val. Looking forward to it.

Perf – 30 October 2018

Today we were off to Perf. Gateway to the best coffee beans in Scotland, if not the world.

Drove up to Perf on a beautiful clear morning. That said, it became a bit cloudier as we travelled north. I’d come with gifts for the Perf folk. I donate my two bike carriers to the bike shop across the road from the car park. Neither of them fit either of our cars, and are now superfluous to our needs. They were just cluttering up the house and were going to be dumped, so if someone can get the benefit of them, all the better. I also took a load of computer books to the Oxfam shop in Perf. I’ve read them and used them well, but now I usually consult the InterWeb if I’m in need of information and besides, they were well out of date.

Next we had to decide what we were doing for lunch. Scamp had an Itison voucher for Cafe Tabou which is now under new ownership. We decided to give them a try and see if they’d kept up the excellent standard of the previous owners. For starter, Scamp had Roast Red Pepper Chick Pea Ragout with Tempura of Fish and I had Salad Du Chef.
For main she had Breaded Plaice Fillet with Chips(!) and I had French Black Pudding & Pork Belly. She was perfectly happy with her selection, I felt the main was a bit tasteless, although the caramelised apples and cider sauce was lovely. Worth another Itison voucher some time. When we came out the streets were just drying after a heavy rain shower and you could feel that there was still a bit of rain on the breeze.

After the lunch, we went for walk to get the coffee and tea that I so desperately needed. Then a walk along to the the viewing gallery over the River Tay. Beautiful light on the trees on the far bank and the sun was shining now on the bridge, so that became my PoD after it was de-fished (no fish were injured in the operation) and some work done on the levels. Samyang 7.5 is a really versatile lens.

With the river inspected, we headed back to the car and the drive home through some beautiful light with nowhere to stop and record it. We also passed through some heavy rain showers that had probably created that beautiful light on the hills.

Sat and sketched my teacup and two digestive biscuits for today’s Inktober sketch. Thirty sketches in and only one left to do tomorrow. Tomorrow as I’m sure you know by now is one of those busy days with two dancing classes and the driving to get there, there’s not much time for dawdling, so I already have a plan for tomorrow’s sketch. It will need a bit of preparation, part of which I have already done with the assistance of an Excel spreadsheet. Art and computing are not the easiest bedfellows, but hopefully one will help with the other if I have my way.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Anything else will just have to fit in with that!

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.

The Far East – 26 October 2018

Not quite as far as China or Japan, but certainly a different land.

South Queensferry was Scamp’s choice of destination today, so that’s where we went. Not quite as far as Embra, but just on the edge of the capital city. It does look like a different country and probably a different era too. Narrow winding streets and cobble stone roads. For once we got parked with not problem in fact I had to check to make sure it was still free parking. It was.  The low light was really bright and the sky was blue.  We went for a walk.

We walked through the town and had lunch in Scamp’s favourite restaurant. My burger was a bit dry and needed some salt. The chips were excellent and I had to ration myself. Scamp’s Fish ’n’ Chips looked lovely and the wee bit she gave me to taste was indeed delicious. Thin tasty batter, not overdone as it sometimes is.

Took a few photos with the Samyang to get the wide look through the narrow closes down to the sea, but finally settled on a Samyang shot through the handrail at the carpark that allowed me to capture all three bridges in the same frame as PoD.

Couldn’t settle on an Inktober sketch and finally copied and simplified a photograph I’d taken in St Mo’s away back in the heady days of summer. Remember summer? I quite liked the finished article.

Tomorrow we may be going to Glasgow, again, but this time for a pizza lunch.

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.

The calm before the storm – 11 October 2018

Today was quite bright when we woke, but soon it dulled over. A taste of what’s to come.

Storm Callum is due to make landfall during the night, but today was a mediocre day which started well, but deteriorated as the day progressed. Yes, we did have some sunny spells, but they were short and not really all that sweet. Lots of sharp heavy showers. After I’d finished my Sudoku this morning, I decide to abandon my proposed trip to Glasgow as the first of the heavy showers dropped on us. What’s the point of sitting in a damp bus to wander round Glasgow in the rain, getting wetter all the time and then to get the damp bus home again. I’m not selling it to you, am I? No, better to just sit here and watch the rain, hoping that the rain would go off for long enough for me to get some photos.

After lunch, the rain stopped and Scamp went out to buy Asda while I took the car out for a run round the outskirts of Cumbersheugh looking for photos. Up round Abronhill, passing my old school on the way and impressed with the look of the buildings. Passed Abronhill and then down to Haggs. I was intending to go for a walk along the canal, but the dry spell finished and the rain came down again. Enough. I changed my plans and headed home via Kilsyth without any photos.

By the time I got home, the rain had stopped and I risked taking a chance to get some photos over at St Mo’s before the next shower. I made it and that’s where today’s PoD came from. I was just heading home when the next shower arrived.

Tonight’s sketch was done while glancing at a dire programme with an unlikely storyline about three unlikely chefs driving round Italy to cook a meal for one of their number’s cousin’s wedding. Yes, it was that bad. Gordon Ramsay, Gino D’Acampo and an embarrassed looking Fred Sirieux. We were only watching it because there was nothing much else on TV and it was about Italy. I don’t mind swearing, in fact I do practise the skill myself, but I can’t stand Ramsay’s swearing for effect. The sketch isn’t all that great. I can’t blame the program for that, although I’d like to.

Tomorrow, I don’t think we’ll be going far although I’m meeting Fred for coffee at midday.

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.

Fort Apache – The Bronx – 5 October 2018

Today we went to the Fort. No longer Fort Apache.

Just went for a run, because we had nowhere else to go today. A few hours of retail therapy without too much expense. Also needed to clear my head and find something to draw. As it happened, I found something to draw on instead. Last year I discovered a lovely A5 landscape format sketchbook in Paperchase. It was only £3, half price. I presume they weren’t selling well and that was the reason for the price drop. Paper was good although it didn’t take a watercolour wash very well. Still, it was fine for pencil and ink sketching. Best of all, it was ‘stitched bound’ which means the book opens flat. Perfect for long perspective sketches. I went back to see if they had any more, but they were all gone. I’ve kept checking in the Glasgow shop to see if they got any more in, but all their sketchbooks now are wiro bound which is hopeless for what I want. Today I went in to Paperchase at the Fort and found two A5 hard backed landscape sketchbooks. I bought them on the spot. If only I’d looked there last year I wouldn’t have had to skimp with my last few pages in the one I had. The only problem was I had to pay full price for them. A small price to pay, if you pardon the pun.

After that we went to Morrison’s and bought it, just as we sometimes buy Tesco. Went in to get fennel and fish and came out with a trolley load of stuff. Then we tried to find our way home through the labyrinth that is the new motorway ‘system’. Finally found myself at a roundabout I recognised and from there it was easy. Up until then it had been a nightmare because the Juke’s sat nav didn’t have the new roads in it. £125 for a new SD card with an updated map? I don’t think so.

Came home and went for a walk in St Mo’s where I found the fungi PoD. Quite liked it, even if the ISO was a bit high and so was the grain.

Left the sketching too late and was left with a poor drawing. I must try to get things done a bit earlier tomorrow.

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It looks like it will be the better day of the weekend.