Getting the horses cut – 14 March 2019

Today was a tidying up sort of day. A day for sorting out loose ends.

It started off with a visit to the school to pay the deposit for a retiral dinner. Met the lady in question and spent an hour chewing the fat about people we knew in the past and the less savoury ones who were in management in the present. Dropped in at my ex-department, but cautiously didn’t visit ‘my’ room. I prefer to remember it in my mind’s eye. From there I drove in to Glasgow to get the horses cut. It was an old joke when I was at school. The French for ‘hair’ is cheveux and the French for horses is chevaux. When you’re 12 it’s so, so funny to say you’re going to get your ‘Horses’ cut! Not so funny now, unfortunately.

Got a Number Four all over with eyebrows trimmed too and all for £7. A bargain at the price with a political diatribe on the failure of a Conservative government to finalise the Brexit details from the bearded one who was cutting hair (or horses) at the next chair, while my Polish barber was bemoaning the dishonesty of fellow barbers who had left with her ‘neck brush’, meaning she had to share the shop ‘hair brush’. I couldn’t say who had the more forceful opinion.

With a much reduced head of hair (or horses – Enough? Yes, probably) I went for a walk down the town for a coffee in Nero. Wandered through the Argyle Arcade and grabbed a few shots to create a PoD and then back up to the car park to retrieve the Juke for a decent enough price of a fiver.

Back home I had to get stuck in and clear a living space in the back bedroom for Jackie who was coming to stay the night before going back up to Skye tomorrow. After I found the sofa bed under an assortment of books, tablets, clothes and sketch pads, I started to make some pakora for the starter for tonight’s dinner. It’s such a faff to make, but once the prep is done, you can use it for a couple of days.

Visitor arrived and the pakora was deemed good enough for her to want the recipe. I tried to explain that it was a recipe handed down from mother to son or father to daughter, but I know she didn’t believe me after I said I’d send her the link to it from YouTube. Scamp made Chicken & Mushrooms with Rice and then June arrived and a coven was in session, so I cleared up the kitchen, made amoretti coffee coffee for everyone and then settled down with a glass of Grants Sherry Casked to write some emails.

Decided I just had enough time to process the PoD and post the blog before the witching hour. Hopefully I’ll make it.

Tomorrow we may go to lunch somewhere because Saturday looks snowy!

Sleet, snow, hail and rain – 10 March 2019

Set off around 9.30 for the long drive back home. It wasn’t looking like it would be a pleasant drive and it lived up to that estimate. Driving down through Skye was ok with the snow keeping mostly to the mountains and higher hills. I managed to grab a shot of the Old Man of Storr just emerging from a blizzard. That became the PoD.

Carried on down to the biscuit tin also know as Eilean Donan castle at Dornie and stopped there for a coffee and a scone each. Suitably refreshed and after I’d had a quick look at some of the paintings for sale in the shop, we got on our way again. The weather worsened quite a bit and when we passed Loch Cluanie it was down to minimal visibility and the snow was beginning to lie on the road. I expected worse would be to come when we made the turn off to climb up to the Glen Garry viewpoint because the road is very exposed. I needn’t have worried because the snow clouds didn’t break and we had a fairly easy run over to Invergarry. From there it was on and off sleet and rain all the way down to Fort Billy where we stopped for lunch.

Refuelled at Fort Billy (oh how I wish the Juke had a proper petrol tank) and set off for Glencoe. Glencoe itself was fine, but when we got up onto Rannoch Moor the snow started again in earnest and we joined a conga line of cars battling down the road. The snow and sleet stayed with us all way down to Crianlarich and eventually faded out, leaving us free to drive down to Stirling and the welcome wide lanes of the M9. We had had a blue van following us all the way from Fort Billy. He/she seemed in no hurry to pass us and we kept a steady pace all the way. Just before they turned off the M9 heading for Embra they flashed their headlights and I gave them a wave. Hope they got home safe.

The rest of the journey was thankfully boring and pedestrian compared with the highlands. Enjoyed the time with Jac & Murdo, but it was good to be home.

Tomorrow? Gems and Salsa that’s about it.

A Grey Day – 8 March 2019

A good day for dancing the greys away.

It was too dull a day for taking the Juke round the top end, so we just drove through the rain down to Portree, the big city. We headed for Jan’s Vans. A real find in Portree. Jan’s Vans is really just a big hardware store. Nothing fancy, but everything from a needle to an anchor. I’ve never actually seen any anchors in there, but I’m sure if you looked long enough you’d find one. We really were there for lunch, because it’s decent grub. Certainly not anything fancy, just good food. After lunch we went for a look round the shop part of the establishment and found lots of interesting and cheap stuff. Laces for my dancing shoes, memory foam insoles for the same. Bottle brushes that Scamp had been searching for everywhere. We passed on the ride-on mower for £2400 because it would be difficult to get it home. I suppose we could have ridden it, but it wouldn’t have been a comfortable journey.

We had a look in Skye Batiks to see if they’d any nice shirts. They did have, but not at a nice price. £50 for a short sleeved shirt is a bit expensive for me. A quick trip to the newsagent’s and that was it for Portree. We headed back up the road through the rain showers. Scamp had arranged with her sister that we could book the hall in her outdoor centre for an hour or so of dance practise. It was indeed a good idea and we got some useful dancing practise in and I grabbed PoD which was taken from one of the windows onto the wild Skye landscape.

Back home and after dinner we had a fair bit of excitement when the chimney in the house caught fire and the fire brigade had to called. As it’s a volunteer group the men had to be assembled and driven up to the house in their brand new fire engine. It didn’t take much more than fifteen minutes and the fire was out by the time they arrived, but it was quite a worrying time. The guys were really efficient and put everyone’s mind at rest when they checked the chimney and the wall with their heat sensitive camera. Later we managed to settle down with a G&T for some and a dram for others to calm us down. It will be talk of the township tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’re hoping for better weather and less excitement.

Taking the road north – 7 March 2019

Up and out by 10am. It was going to be a long day.

Topped up the Juke’s tank and pointed the nose at the M80 heading north. Passed Stirling, Calander and on past Loch Lubnaig through some beautiful sunshine and some heavy showers. Didn’t stop until Crianlarich for a ‘comfort break’ then back on the road to Rannoch Moor to grab some photos. Some things I can resist, but the mountains surrounding Rannoch Moor, especially when they’ve had a dusting of snow? No, that’s an impossibility. I just had to take the shot. I’ve taken it many, many times in all sorts of weather conditions, but it never looks exactly like I saw it in my mind’s eye.

Next stop was Morrison’s at Fort William (Fort Billy as we used to call it) for lunch and more fuel for the Juke. That was the easy part past. Next was a long slog up past Spean Bridge and then when we were past Invergarry we were on the road to Skye that took us past Eileen Donan castle the cover of so many biscuit tins and over the bridge to Skye proper. Finally reaching Jackie & Murdo’s croft just after 4pm.

Passed some beautiful countryside on those 240 odd miles, but I only took the half a dozen photos at Rannoch. Wish now we’d taken a little more time and grabbed some more images.

I suppose I should have gone out for a walk down by the slip, but I was tired and a glass of wine and a wee dram put paid to any ideas of more driving tonight.

Tomorrow, maybe a wee tour of the north end of the island.

Apprentice Drivers – 2 March 2019

Scamp was out this afternoon with Isobel and June (a girls afternoon out) at Cumbersheugh Theatre to see Sister Act. I volunteered to be driver. I’ve tried to park at the theatre many times before and know just how stupid people are. Today the stupid ones stayed at home it was the apprentice stupids who were out driving. As if it wasn’t bad enough having to manoeuvre around a bus, an actual bus in this tiny excuse for a carpark, there were holes with crowd of potholers complete with ropes and crash helmets waiting to investigate them. As if this wasn’t bad enough, one woman decided it would be good to go round the one way system the wrong way. When she was eventually discouraged from this suicidal move, the bus driver decided it was time to get back out, so we had to wait while he drove down the single track road avoiding more potholes and drivers coming the opposite way. Actually, the bus was a godsend because it cleared a path for the rest of us to get out of this disaster waiting to happen.

I just went home and painted a couple of apples, read a few pages in my latest book and browsed the InterWeb for holidays somewhere warm and dry without potholes. All too soon it was time to pick the ladies up. Thankfully Scamp suggested I wait five or ten minutes for the majority of the dodgem drivers to get out before I made my bid. Before I left the house I ordered a curry from Bombay Dreams, intending to pick it up when we were on our way home after dropping off the others.

Bombay Dreams usually produces lovely food. Today was an exception. The curries were ready and waiting for us when we arrived, but were cooling considerably sitting next to the front door. Naan bread was dead by the time we got to it and although the pakora tasted fresh, the curries were disappointing. It was maybe just a bad day or a new chef, but you’re only as good as your last meal in this game.

PoD was cut flowers. Not the most inspiring photo I’ve ever taken, but it was ok.

We watched Zootropolis to brighten our evening. It was a film Scamp had recorded at Christmas and was head and shoulders away from the junk that was being offered on a Saturday night by any of the terrestrial channels.

Hoping to go dancing to a new venue tomorrow.

28 Drawings Done – 28 February 2019

All present and submitted on time, all 28 of them.

Scamp was out at June’s this morning to see her new kitchen. That gave me time to a couple of quick sketches for an idea for the last day of 28 Drawings Later 2019. When she came back we got started working.

Today we had decide we’d clear out the area under the stairs, and that’s what we did. I wish I’d taken a quick iPhone picture of the amount of stuff that we hauled out of that little triangular slice of space. It took up all the worktop space in the kitchen and also a fair bit of the hall too. Of course that didn’t include the white goods that live there. The freezer was too heavy to move and we only moved the tumble drier enough to hoover behind it. Then we had lunch, because we deserved it.

After lunch we did the Haynes manual procedure of “reassembly is the reverse of disassembly.” That didn’t take as long as I thought it would with two of us working as a team. It never does, as long as you don’t get in each other’s way. Unfortunately, everything that came out went back in again, so there wasn’t a Marie Kondo “Does This Spark Joy” moment, but it just proved that everything in there were useful. The potatoes, the onions and the bag full of black rubbish bags. They all sparked joy!

Scamp was looking for some colour for the garden, so we drove to Torwood in the rain to get some plants. We returned in the dry with a box of pink primulas and a dainty little Helleborus (Christmas Rose), but not the Helleborus Walberton’s Rosemary that was PoD today.  It was much colder today.  Temperature was 7º when I was making breakfast.  A bit of a culture shock after our warm February weather recently.

It had started raining again when we came home and we left the plants outside to recover and soak up some moisture. I’m sure they will be planted soon.

I went up to the drawing room to finalise my sketch for 28DL. I’d done a similar drawing last year for the last painting for the group. That’s what you see here. It was almost what I wanted, just the shadow is a bit false.

Tomorrow we may go out for lunch.

Just dancing once today – 27 February 2019

Just Michael’s class today, but that was enough for me.

Scamp was out for coffee with Annette this morning. Before she went she noticed we’d missed a phone call from Hazy yesterday, so I phoned her back and we had a long chat about stuff, just stuff, families and friends. For once we didn’t talk about books, so just incase you were wondering Hazy, I’m trying desperately to finish All The Birds In The Sky I notice you gave it four stars on Goodreads. I’m afraid my rating will be considerably lower!

Next on the list of To Do tasks was to get started on today’s sketch while the house was quiet. After a couple of false starts, I did achieve a likeness of an apple and that’s what you can see here. I decided to stick to a monochrome pencil sketch. I used a nice cheap school pencil. It’s an Impega No 2.5 HB. Just goes to show that the quality of the equipment has less of a bearing on the finished article than you’d imagine. I really need to practise these simple objects. Curved objects. I’m happy with my ability to draw objects with straight lines. Curves are the killer.

When Scamp came back we had lunch and drove in to Glasgow to Michael’s class. Jive was not a problem apart from a bit of brain fade by me. Rumba I will never get used to. The nonsense of not using beat one, starting on beat two instead is beyond me. Why make it more difficult than it needs to be? I’m sure some people will just smile and say it makes perfect sense (eh Scamp?), but I don’t hold with that belief. Beat one is there for a reason. Use it! Cha-Cha? Just Rumba with a wee shuffle in the middle. Equally pointless. You can see this is going downhill now, can’t you? You’d be right. We’d practised Quickstep at home last night and we’d practised it again today while the advanced Jivers were doing their stuff. When we were asked to do it on the dance floor it was a disaster. We didn’t even get as far as the running step, the fishtails which had worked so well half an hour before were more like fish paste! Back to the drawing board for quickstep. Maybe next week …

Coffee and a visit to CassArt put a smile back on my face.  After that we drove home and I managed an hour in St Mo’s to get today’s PoD which took a fair bit of post-processing.  Dinner tonight was roast veg risotto and it was lovely.  I squirted some lemon juice in at the end with a bit of lemon rind too and it lifted it.

No dancing tonight because the lady ‘teacher’ was reputedly taking the class!

Tomorrow is free, the last day of 28 Drawings Later.  Such a pity, it’s been a PITA and it’s been fun too.

A Sociable Sunday – 24 February 2019

After a lazy start, the lazy theme continued.

We were going to a Sunday Social in Mango today, the rest of the day was planned round that. In the morning I divided up the mince I’d bought last week and vacuumed it into bags for freezing then started on cleaning the coffee maker. I’ve had the Gaggia coffee machine for years and it gives sterling service, but occasionally the cup holder leaks hot water into the coffee and the grounds holder comes away from the holder just when you don’t want it to. It makes a terrible racket when it’s actually making coffee and all of these are signs that it wants a good clean. It’s not been done this year, so today was the day. Stripped it down as far as I dare and cleaned all the bits I could reach before re-assembling in the time honoured Haynes manner (re-assembly is the reverse of disassembly). It made an even worse racket until I managed to get the airlock out of the system. After that it ran as sweet as a nut and the coffee tasted better too.

By then it was lunch time and as we wouldn’t be eating dinner until well after 7pm, we had what could be called a substantial lunch. Watched the Andrew Marr program. The only political program I’d watch given the opportunity and then started today’s painting which I’d already decided would be a Rudbeckia. Sketched and painted from a photo taken over at St Mo’s during the summer. It fitted the bill perfectly on a dull day like today. With the painting well under way, I went out for a walk to see what I could find worth snapping. What I found was a tiny tree climbing snail about 3mm diameter and some larch flowers which when fully blooming look exactly like tiny pineapples! The snail won PoD. Back home in time for a shower, a shave and a change of clothes and we were off to Glasgow.

It took a while to find somewhere to park now that Sauchihall Street is in the throes of being pedestrianised. Eventually found a space further away from Mango than I’d have liked, but at least we were in a legal space that didn’t cost us a bean. Parking is free on a Sunday in Glasgow City Centre.

Mango was jumping, but we found a chair to sit our bags on and hang our jackets over the back of. Squeezed ourselves into a space on the floor and had a few dances. Saw some folk from AdS salsa classes although most of the dancers were either from Mango or one of the other two dance classes in the city. Only stayed for an hour because the floor was too crowded and Scamp was getting buffeted by those with more energy than skill. Eventually, we agreed that we’d had enough and drove home.

Spoke to JIC after dinner and exchanged gossip for half an hour or so. Completed the painting and was happy with the finished article, so that’s what you see here. I’m not a great fan of spatter on a painting, but in this case it suited the subject. Traced round the main flower on tracing paper, cut it out and used it as a mask for the spatter.

Tomorrow is Gems day. I may take the Dewdrop out for a run.

Happy Anniversary – 17 February 2019

Forty six years ago today, we made it legal.

Today started off dull, but brightened up as the day went on. It rained too, but not all day. One of those days with a little bit of everything. Rain, wind and sunshine. No snow thankfully.

In the afternoon Scamp got fed up with me mooching around the house and sent me off to St Mo’s to get some photos and to get out of her hair. The light was really nice and I managed to get today’s PoD and a few more. Really liked the light colour in this one and the sharpness. It’s called The Finger because it does look like a finger to me, at least. Managed to slip off a slimy log and fall into a burn. The just-cleaned jacket may recover with a wipe down, or it might be another trip to the washing machine for it.

Not a lot else to say about today. Spoke to JIC in the evening after dinner and caught up with their busy lives. Then I tackled today’s sketch in my new Paperchase sketch book. I think they must have re-formulated their paper in the books. It seems a lot more absorbent than the last one I had. The watercolour washes just appeared to soak into it. However, it’s done and on time.

Gems tomorrow with salsa planned for the evening.

Forty six years ago! Were did all that time go?

Up and out at stupid o’clock – 5 February 2019

I’d forgotten that 7.30AM existed. I used to be out the door and on my way to work at that time. That was just over four years ago and you tend to remember the good times and ignore the bad. 7.30AM was one of the bad times. Defrosted the car and picked up Scamp to take her to the train station. Her and half of Cumbersheugh seemed to on the way to the station at Croy this morning. Dropped her at the ticket office and drove off to park and walked back to check that she had caught the train. The train was already at the station by the time I got there, but I saw that familiar red hat on a person that was sitting in a seat. There’s only one hat like that in the world, Hazy!

With her safely on the first stage of her journey to Inverness to meet her sister, I drove home, had my breakfast, read my emails and went back to bed for an hour. I should have gone out and photographed that beautiful dawn sky before I went to bed, but I didn’t and I so regret it now.

When I got up for the second time today it was lunchtime and I had the last ladleful of my soup, then I went out to get a PoD under a much different sky. The clouds were Scottish Grey and as I walked to the car, the rain started. I drove down to the Luggie Water and found the snowdrops which were now blooming nicely. Using my glove as a cushion for the Oly and a Moleskine notebook as a wee tent to protect the lens from rain I grabbed half a dozen shots at various distances and quickly checked them to make sure they’d all worked and they had.

Back home, processed the photos and made my dinner which was chilli con CARNE, because Scamp would be having a posh lunch in Inverness, so I could have a meat dinner tonight. Dumped the chilli into the slow cooker and left it for an hour or two, plenty time to get my sketch of the day done. Today it was to be two oranges, a pear and an apple. I made the mistake of having four items in the sketch. Every beginner know you should always group odd numbered items. It was the apple that went wrong. If anyone asks me about it, I’ll just say that the apple was old and was getting a bruise at the bottom. I liked the oranges and the pear. Unfortunately you can’t clone out mistakes on a watercolour.

Scamp sent a text to say she was just passing Stirling Castle about 8.30pm and I got ready to drive in to Glasgow. Picked her up just after 9pm after doing a detour because the motorway was being repaired.

Tomorrow it’s Dancing day. Hopefully it will be Blackfriars in the afternoon and STUC salsa at night. Chilli was fine, but just a little too mild.