The day that never really started – 11 November 2018

One of those days that started off dull and never really improved.

We half expected to go in and visit Shona in hospital today, but Scamp got a message around midday to say that she was probably getting out. She was just waiting for her blood test results, so we waited … and waited and finally Scamp sent her a text asking how things were going. Shona’s reply was that she didn’t know if she was getting out or not.

The weather hadn’t improved in the afternoon so there was no real encouragement to go out anywhere. From the number of cars still parked along the street, it appeared that everyone else thought exactly the same thing.

We watched an ‘interesting’ Brazilian GP where Mad Max was leading the race until he came a cropper with Esteban Ocon who was attempting to unlap himself and clumsily took Verstappen out and allowed Hamilton to get the lead back. Max never really recovered and ended up in a pushing and shoving match with Ocon after the race. He was given two days of ‘community service’ and quite right too. He really has to learn to grow up. We had just been saying that we thought he HAD matured since last year when this storm in a teacup happened.

After the race was over I tried a few shots of an old broken table knife for PoD. When I went up the the back bedroom to take the shots the light on the trees outside was simply beautiful. We talk about the Golden Hour. This was a golden five minutes. It came, it got brighter and then faded away in less than five minutes. I got a few shots in those five minutes, but the hills were clouded over in the background and it was only a small strip of golden tree with heavy grain, so no chance they could he PoD. After dinner (Haddock Loin on Bacon, Peas and Lentils) I tried again and got a better shot. The one you can see at the top of the page. Just think, that knife is older than me probably.

Well, that was it for the day. Nothing else to report. Tomorrow will be better. Hopefully we’ll get that phone call from Shona for a start!

“If you wanna see the sunrise …” – 9 November 2018

“… Honey, I know where.”

Driving home at 7.25am we saw a glorious sunrise over Muirhead from the M80, but the day had started much earlier…

Alarm was set for 6am. Up and out after a mouthful of breakfast to pick up Shona and take her in to Glasgow Royal for her much needed op. Scamp was accompanying her and we thought she and Shona would be there for an hour at least, but I was just paying for parking when Scamp phoned to say she was ready to come home. Luckily I had time to cancel my parking request and get my money back!

Driving home is when we saw the sunrise you too can see at the top of the page. I can’t remember when I last saw a sunrise. Today’s was glorious. Back home it was coffee time before we got down to work. Made the soup and checked that the stew I’d made yesterday for the steak pie was ok and it was. Scamp was busy making her pear tart and when it went in to the oven, I made a wee loaf, hand made this time. Finally Scamp made ratatouille also know rather confusingly as ”Rats”. With us ready to go for tonight’s dinner, we headed off to Falkirk for a quick light lunch at Calders, our favourite garden centre.

When we got home there was just enough time to go for a walk to St Mo’s for some photos. None of them were deemed good enough to knock the sunrise off PoD position.  Technically I didn’t ‘take’ the photo, it’s a screen dump from my dash cam, but I’m claiming artistic ownership.

Visitors arrived on time and we made a night of it. I was most impressed with Scamp’s Pear Tart and only just in second place was my Steak Pie.

Tomorrow will be a lazy day. By the way, the title of this blog came from “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat” by Bob Dylan.

Old haunts – 3 November 2018

Today we went for a curry in Hamilton.

Since my brother mentioned he and his wife were going to the Bombay Cottage I’ve been hinting at Scamp that we should go back there for lunch. Today was that day. It was a dismal, dull, wet day and a curry for lunch sounded just the job. Parked across from the restaurant and got a window seat to boot! Food was excellent and the nan bread was the biggest I’ve ever seen. I’d have taken a photo but I hadn’t brought the ultra wide angle lens! Really, it must have been over 60cm long. Scamp reckons it’s been ten years since we’ve been there. I’m hoping it won’t be another ten years before we’re back.

After lunch we walked down into what used to be Hamilton town centre. This place used to be bustling on a Saturday afternoon, wet or not. Today all that was missing was the tumbleweed rolling down the road. It was described by one of the shopkeepers as “a ghost town”. The streets were empty, half the shops were closed and boarded up and even the covered shopping centre was almost empty of customers. Another Scottish town that’s had the heart ripped out of it. We bought some fish for tomorrow’s dinner and that was about it. Couldn’t believe the difference in this once thriving town. I managed to get the makings of today’s PoD. A shot of Keith’s Building in Cadzow street. This building has a chequered history to say the least. Some dodgy goings on used to happen in and around it, way back in the late ’60s. Before we came home we visited Hazy’s favourite shop in Hamilton. The Ink Spot. Part stationery shop, part art shop, part interesting little nicknack shop. An Aladdin’s cave of goodies. It hasn’t changed Hazy!

Drove home and although the streets were drying there were dark clouds seeming to drape down right to the horizon all the way round. Went to Tesco on the way home to get milk and a bottle of wine to cheer us up tonight. We didn’t drink it all … honest! Spoke to Hazy and Neil on Skype until the connection started to fail on their end, after that we literally spoke to the icon of Hazy on our end although they were receiving both sound and video on their end.

Spent an hour working the first version of today’s PoD up on ON1, only for it to go !PoP! and leave me with nothing. Went to speak to Duncan on the phone while I cooled down, then after I was done, calmly started again. This time I saved often between important changes and of course it didn’t go !PoP! this time and the backups I’d made weren’t needed. But, if I hadn’t made those backups … !

Sketched a bit tonight using a mixture of fountain pen and dipper pen. I’m now looking for some brown / sepia fountain pen ink. I think it will need to be on-line!

Tomorrow? Apart from trout for dinner, there are no plans. It’s supposed to be a better day than today. That wouldn’t be difficult.

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.

Back on an even keel – 22 October 2018

Email and printers. The most difficult and flakiest things to set up. Look at them the wrong way and they just refuse to work.

The email account I fixed this morning seems to still be working. Sent my brother an email tonight and it hasn’t bounced yet. I hate setting up email accounts and printers. They are the most hated things to get going right first time. Yes, things are getting better and the wireless printers are a dream to set up now, but even they still have hissy fits sometimes.

Today was Gems day, so after all that technology overload this morning and after getting our flu jags and after buying Tesco I packed my bag and went for a swim. I had thought of going for some exercise first, but instead I sat in the steam room for quarter of an hour, then swam for another twenty minutes. Five minutes is enough for me in the sauna thankfully now with its door back on its hinges. Then a shower and a word with old Bob who probably lives in the changing room. I’ve seen him sitting with his lunch and a flask of tea a couple of times! Still, he’s paying his money the same as us and making the most of it. He tells some tall and wonderful stories at times. David Beckham was his topic today. I get the impression he doesn’t like the man!

Came home and doodled a sketch of a concrete and wood park bench from one of my photos. It took me two tries to get it right and when it was done it looked really smart … if you ignored the ghost bench beside it which was a bit squint and out of proportion. Went out for a walk in St Mo’s to try to catch the last of the light and maybe have a look at that bench again. Never did get a look at it. Instead I found some bright red bramble leaves and disturbed a long legged spider then tried a low shot of some leaves. They’re much thicker on the ground this year, I think. Leaves that is, not spiders. Eventually settled on a ten shot view across the loch with the camera sitting on a (different) bench. The ten shots were the raw material for an idea I had. Wind was strong and gusty and the clouds were scudding across the sky. That was the reason for the 10 shots.

<Technospeak>
Came home and downloaded the images. Cleaned up the ten shots in Lightroom, then exported them to a temporary folder. Imported them from there into a ‘stack’ in Photoshop. A stack is basically one image made up of a number of layers. Ran a script called “Image Averaging Layers” in Photoshop which does a very clever blending of the layers in the stack. With that done I selected the sky and water area with the Colour Range selector tool, Inverted the selection and proceeded to delete all the ground areas except one. That one I duplicated, reset the opacity to 100%, inverted the selection again and deleted the sky from that one. Bingo. My work was done in Photoshop. Saved it off and then flattened the image. Saved it again with a different name and imported that back into Lightroom where I could do all the usual twiddly bits.
</Technospeak>
Now all that previous bit was to remind me how I did the moving sky, but the solid ground and trees. Hopefully I’ll find this some day when I’m stuck.

No dancing tonight because Jamie G is off on his travels again and also we were waiting for a call from Hazy to see how ND was. Turns out he was getting home tonight. Although his ailment was serious enough, it wasn’t as bad as initially feared. Back home in Hazy’s tender care, I’m sure he’ll be on his feet again soon.

Tonight I did another Ink and Watercolour sketch of that park bench. It’s not as good as the first one. A second sketch never is in my opinion, but at least it doesn’t have a ghost bench intruding into its space.

So, basically everything is back on an even keel again, fingers crossed.

Maybe going for a curry tomorrow.

Coffee and the Bridge to Nowhere – 14 September 2018

Coffee first then a walk over the bridge from nowhere to nowhere.

I met Fred for a coffee and a wee natter this morning. Just the two of us. We’d both forgotten to invite Val and Colin, so we share the blame. Topics were mainly about painting, drawing and photography. No politics for a change.

When we were done, instead of going our separate ways, we went by the new bridge. It’s not really new, it’s been there for a few years now, but few people cross it, so it’s new to a lot of folk. I’d never had cause to cross it until today, because both of us were parked on the north of Central Way that bisects the town centre and the coffee shop is on the south side. Here’s the first amazing thing. You don’t need to climb any stairs to get on to the bridge, there’s a lift. Hardly anyone crosses this bridge, but there’s a lift. The second amazing thing is that the voice that tells you “Doors Closing”, “Lift Going Up”, “Level One” etc, have a Scottish accent! The third, and probably the most amazing thing is that the lift and the bridge haven’t been vandalised yet. Maybe that’s because the lift and bridge take you from a ground level carpark to an upper story carpark. Who in their right mind builds a bridge and installs a lift to take you from one carpark to another. There is no direct access to any offices or shops from this bridge, just carparks. Maybe it was designed by a forgetful driver who couldn’t remember where he’d left his car and wanted easy access between the two possible sites. Who knows. It’s just another Cumbersheugh Anomaly. What it did do was give me PoD, so it can’t be all bad. One more strange anomaly is that when you do get across there’s a covered walkway along the side of the carpark, but only for about 20m then it just stops. The walkway continues, but then it’s open to the elements. It’s as if they just got fed up with the idea and abandoned it. It’s typical of Cumbersheugh, half finished. Walked across the wasteland of the upper carpark in the rain and drove home.

We were going out tonight to a meal in Glasgow to celebrate Scamp’s sister’s birthday which is actually tomorrow. Unfortunately she’ll be on her way to Southampton tomorrow for a holiday cruise to the Canaries. The meal was in the Premier Inn on Sausage Roll Street and although there were no sausage rolls involved, it was a good night. Most enjoyable. Again, because drink would be taken, we got the bus in to Glasgow and the bus back again. Sometimes I feel we spend half our lives on the x3.

That was about it for a wet and windy Friday in September. Tomorrow we may go east to Embra where you get a better class of weather than here.

Going home, flying home – 26 August 2018

It was dry for a time this morning, but it didn’t last.

It rained, then it rained harder and harder. I’d have liked to have gone a walk this morning before we got on that big bird and flew north, but the rain prevented it. There’s a great walk round the golf course near Hazy and Neil’s that takes you through some lovely old hawthorn and beech trees. Apparently, if you’re really lucky you get to see some deer too, but not today. Too wet and if it’s been raining for some time, the trees just shake their leaves and you end up wetter than ever under them. We just stayed in and talked.

Hazy decided she’d join us on our trip to Gatwick which was good. I was amazed at the amount of surface water that had gathered on the roads when we were being driven to the airport. Water with white foam on top, whipped up by the cars’ tyres. I suppose it occurs mainly after a sustained dry spell. Anyway, I imagine it was quite unpleasant to drive through. Thankfully, that was Neil’s job today.

Arrived at the airport with plenty of time in hand and volunteered to put my wheely case in the hold for free and to free up some of the overhead locker space for those who were in a hurry, unlike us. Swiftly through security and into the waiting area. Had a vile cup of brown water and a lovely pizza from Jamie Oliver’s take-away, while Scamp and a latte and an ‘OK’ Portuguese custard tart from the same. I bought a painting magazine and we went through to the gate. Boarded quickly and efficiently, unlike the SqueezyJet like boarding procedure at Glasgow.

<Technospeak>
Reading my magazine, there were two articles dealing with the hues in blue paint. One claimed that Ultramarine Blue is warmer in hue than Cerulean and the following article completely refuted that! This from what is meant to be a fairly authoritarian magazine. Any blue which tends towards red must be a warm hue. Not my opinion this time, it’s basic colour theory. Absolute crap. Stiffly worded complaint ready to be emailed to the editor forthwith.
</Technospeak>

Waited our usual half hour at Glasgow for the bags to arrive, but at least that was better than the fifty minutes the message board was predicting.
The flight distance from London to Glasgow is approximately 345miles and takes about an hour.
The distance from the plane to the carousel is approximately 0.5miles and it takes about fifty minutes.
Bus in to Glasgow and then the X3 out to Cumbersheugh. I won’t go into the comparative distances and times, I’m sure you know my thoughts on that by now.

Watched an amazingly expensive (in terms of damage to cars) first five minutes of the Belgian GP. Thankfully everyone walked away unhurt. Then it just slid into the usual boring parade of cars. <Yawn>

PoD was the view of the rain streaking across the aircraft window as we left a wet London for a wet Glasgow!

I think it may still be raining, but it’s going to be drier tomorrow, so they say. We’ll see.

A day at the airies – 25 August 2018

Today we went to Brooklands Museum to see the airies and the cars, but mostly the airies!

During breakfast Scamp and Neil settled on Brooklands Museum as the place to visit today. I’d heard of Brooklands, the first car racing track in the UK. I didn’t know then it was the first dedicated car racing track in the world. Eat your heart out America, we were first. Hazy was going to spend the day resting, so she would be feel refreshed enough to go out tonight.

The trip to the museum only took the half hour Neil predicted and it was a lovely day again with blue sky and just a smidgin of clouds. We drove past Mercedes World where some posh people were scooting round a racetrack in equally posh Mercs. They even had water sprinklers spraying a piece of the track to provide a skid pan. However, that wasn’t our destination, you just had to drive round it to get to the museum. After the brash flash of Mercedes World, Brooklands looks a bit downmarket, but that just disguises the history that it holds.

First up was the Malcolm Campbell Shed with the really old cars that raced on the Brooklands circuit, then through the motor and pedal cycles section to the Formula 1 area. After that Neil left us to go and read in the cafe and we visited the airies. Big airies. The Sultan of Oman’s beautifully kitted out VC10, the BAC 1-11, the Viscount and the Vanguard. All passenger planes, all part of my growing up. It would take too much time (and be boring for you) to name them all, but it was a trip through time. PoD was the view dead on the nose of a Jetstream.

At the back of the Aircraft Park is the banked section of the race track. I climbed up part of it, almost two thirds of it, until it became too steep. Then I realised that in section it wasn’t a circular curve, but a parabolic curve and became incredibly steep the further you went. It’s an amazing thing to see and to think that those old solid wheeled cars in the museum raced around this track. If you can’t visit this place, Google it and be amazed.

Lunch was steak pasty with chips and veg for the boys and baked potato with tuna for Scamp. Then after a look at the inside airies and another climb of the banked track we headed for home. It was clouding over a bit by then, but not cold.

Out at night to an Indian restaurant with Canute and Delia. Delia looking great after her recent op. Food was good, service was poor and conversation was the usual D’Aguiar tennis match of seeing who could give the cheekiest answer to cause the most hilarity to all concerned. A great night, marred slightly by the noisy, and I mean NOISY bunch at an adjoining table. Why must some people shout at each other all the time? Are they all deaf or just stupid? Easy question.

Anyway, a good day and evening too.

Where the crows fly backwards – 24 August 2018

In Kingston on Thames today on the bus.

Went to a Nero for a coffee. Seemed to confuse the poor server with “Sitting in. A regular one shot, extra hot latte and a regular americano.” She replied “To take away or to have here.” I growled, “Sitting in, that’s what I said.” Probably took her too far off the script. The bloke next to me said “I’m surprised she understood you with that accent.” Hackles up! “Sorry, I couldn’t understand you with yours”, I replied. He just laughed and asked where I came from. I gave Scamp’s non committal reply “Just outside Glasgow”. Then he told me he came originally from Motherwell, but moved down to London when he was 21. Went to work at IBM. “But,” he said, “I was a smart bugger then”. I questioned the ‘was’ and he just said that brain cells deteriorate with age, then went on to explain all the medical problems he’d survived, finishing up by saying that he had a 6 year old sitting outside. I said “Good for you!” and he just laughed and said “It only took a minute.” Both us burst out laughing. Then he took his tray outside, stopping to have a word with Scamp. When we were leaving, I tapped him on the shoulder and told him I originally came from Larkhall. “Oh my God.” he said “Where the crows fly backwards!” I don’t know when I last heard that one. Probably when I was at school. Wished him good day and he did the same then we went on our way.

Wandered round the town looking for a coffee shop that Neil had told us about where you could buy coffee beans. Finally gave up the search and went for a walk along the river on a breezy day with bright blue skies and a few white clouds overhead. Sat for a while and sketched a bit of the river and the boats moored by the path while Scamp remarked on the variety of boats on the river. Big boats, small boats, a wooden scull and a full paddle steamer. Finally gave up when I realised that the sketchbook wasn’t going to take the watercolour paint, it just sort of beaded on the surface.

Went for lunch in a wee cafe selling home made quiche and vegetarian food served with healthy looking salad. I had Salmon Quiche and Scamp had Veg Lasagne. Both of us tried each others, but both settled on our own as the better option. My side of Sweet Potato with Chilli and Kidney Beans was delicious. Walked on to Bentalls where Scamp found a set of four glasses to replace or augment ones we have at home. One of which is missing. I went to the Apple shop to try to find out how to get Apple Care, but I think it should be renamed Apple Doesn’t Care. They don’t seem to want to sell it, telling me that I’d have to bring my computer in to the store so the ‘experts’ could check it over first before they’ll allow me to give them money. No thank you Apple, that’s not how it works. It looks to me as if they are only interested in selling you Apple hardware and aren’t interested in after sales service.

We did eventually find the coffee shop, but neither of us were that impressed with their coffee and at £8.50 for 250g it was just a little over the top. Also over the top was the nearly £15 I paid for a G ’n’ T and a pint of IPA. Admittedly it was a double G, but £15 for two drinks? What is it with London prices. Blame Brexit.

Bus back to the house and Neil was on dinner duty, making Spicy Prawn Risotto. We have now got the recipe!! Pudding was Vienetta. Something we haven’t had for years. Watched another film, Victoria and Abdul which was quite funny.

Today’s PoD was taken under the bridge over the Thames. I just liked the patterns.

Tomorrow Neil is taking us somewhere if his viral infection is not too bad. Not sure where yet.

One in the bag? What bag? – 23 August 2018

Another early rise!

Up at 6.15am after about 4.5 hours sleep. Taxi came at 7am and a driver from Pakistan took us to the airport an kept us entertained with stories of a gay breakup, the current weather in Pakistan and the expectations of a new era under a new political leader. Unfortunately the new era was in Pakistan, not Brexit shackled UK. His flow of consciousness ended with an exhortation to try an automatic drive car next time. “You’ll never go back to manual”, he said.

Had a coffee in Caledonian at the airport. Possibly the worst run restaurant in Glasgow, if not the world. Today we were served promptly, but others were complaining loudly and getting nowhere. When it came to paying, nobody wanted to take our money. There were some dazed looking servers going around doing anything but serve. Really, giving somebody a credit card machine isn’t enough. You have to teach them how to use them and also how to respond to a customer trying to catch your eye. Eventually Scamp had to go to the bar and pay there. All this on a really quiet weekday. Heaven knows what it will be like at a busy weekend in the summer. Caledonian, there is a difference between laid back and totally unconscious.

Bumpy flight down to Londinium, but a nice gentle, controlled landing into rainy Gatwick. Sitting in the airport bus I saw the PoD. Wide angle shot of the plane from just under the port wingtip. Only had time for one grab shot. One in the bag.

Inside the terminal, we wandered around the car park until we eventually found directions to the Express Pick Up hidden round a corner behind the lifts. Just got there as Neil was drawing into a parking space. He drove us back to the house in their new (manual drive) car. Very comfortable and a nice array of ‘tronics in it. Listened to an interesting Spotify playlist Pop goes Classical. It’s now on my list too.

Lunch was pizza (for me, I forget what everyone else had) at a garden centre near the house. We’d been there before and that’s how I knew to order pizza. Small, thin with good toppings. Lovely.

Came home and found that the photo I’d taken at the airport wasn’t on the card! The bag was empty. Took some photos of the figs growing in the front garden, but the actual PoD was a shot of Mal sleeping on Hazy’s bed.

The early rise was beginning to catch up with me. I went for a snooze before dinner and what was dinner? It was take away pizza. Not as good, in my opinion, as the one in the garden centre, but it was a Domino’s and it had anchovies in it. Why don’t we get them in Cumbersheugh? Maybe they don’t travel well. We watched Moana, another Disney film. We are reverting to our childhood.

May go to Kingston tomorrow.