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Blowing up a storm – 16 October 2017

This was a strange day. So dull when I woke I thought I’d woken in the middle of the night. It wasn’t until I looked at my watch I found out it was almost 8.30.

It didn’t get much lighter for the rest of the day. I was going to say “for the morning” but really the rest of the day was just as dull. What did happen around midday was the sky turned a dirty yellow/orange colour. Almost a sick, jaundiced looking colour. Later I found that the sky over Britain was this colour because of Storm Ophelia which was dragging up Sahara sand with debris from forest fires in Portugal and Spain playing a part. It wasn’t until much later in the afternoon that the sky cleared and normal white clouds returned. Then the clouds parted and blue sky appeared. For a very short time the sun even shone. That was when I took the PoD which is, of course the sweetpeas and the rose in the tumbler . Scamp was being my ‘studio helper’, holding the A2 sheet of white backing paper. I liked the detail that was rendered and the fact that the white flowers were just slightly lighter than the background and stood away from it.

I also used the ‘brighter’ light to complete today’s sketch which is a Self Portrait. I think it’s a fair likeness although my eye is too large. The scruffy beard and all the dark lines on my face are fairly accurate. In the morning I finished yesterday’s Inktober sketch. Or to be more exact, I drew yesterday’s sketch. It’s an old cow bell. It was my dad’s and he got if from his sister who was in Malaya back before WW2. I’ve always liked it and today was its time to shine, although I didn’t do it justice. I thought it would be an easy thing to draw, just a sphere with some bits cut out. It’s not that easy at all. I have to learn to treat subjects much more carefully. Look and examine before putting pen or pencil to paper.

Driving in to Glasgow tonight was ‘interesting’ with the winds associated with ex-Hurricane Ophelia battering us on the motorway. Coming home was not quite so bad for some reason, but we don’t get the worst of the winds until the early hours of the morning. Poor Ireland has been battered all day. Salsa itself was good tonight. Much better than last week and at the end, Jamie G offered to demonstrate the three moves we did tonight for us to video them. That’s a great idea. Scamp was the model and I think she did very well, although she wasn’t impressed.

Well, no communication from Vodafone today despite being told by Omkar yesterday that: “You would get the confirmation tomorrow.” I can quote that because Vodie sent me the transcript of our conversation. I like evidence when I’m formulating my complaint!

No plans for tomorrow. We’ll see what the wind is like.

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Phones and Moans – 11 October 2017

Got to try out Skype on the iMac this morning when we had a webchat with Hazy. Seemed to work quite well, although there were more dropouts in sound and broken graphics too than usual. Maybe we should just stick to Scamp’s laptop in future. Must say that when the sound was working, it was superb quality.

Out at lunchtime to meet Val and Fred. On the way back I dropped in at Carphone Warehouse and Tesco to compare deals for a new phone that I need to get sorted for next week. CW couldn’t give me a decent quote for an iphone 6 and suggested I phone up Vody. Maybe I will. Tesco gave me a fairly decent quote on an iphone SE, but I don’t think their coverage is very good outside the central belt in Scotland. Still looking, still thinking.

Salsa tonight was a bit of a drag again. It doesn’t look as if the 7.30 Wednesday class will last past this session. Can’t say I’m all that bothered. I’m beginning to think that two classes a week are quite enough for me now. I don’t mind helping with beginners, but I don’t think we’re getting all that much out of the extra night, except some exercise. I’d rather give up the Wednesday classes and have a night’s dancing instead. That said, it’s really the driving into town Mondays and Wednesdays that’s a drag as much as the classes. I also feel that Jamie G is ‘inventing’ moves on a Monday just to keep the class going and keep the dancers interested. Some of them are too obscure to remember or too long to dance with someone who doesn’t know them. Maybe we need to give salsa break for a while.

Today’s PoD, was the leaf on the boardwalk, taken in a half hour walk round St Mo’s when I managed to get that wee bit of low sun in between the torrential rain showers. The Inktober sketch was a page marker. Just to say I’d done something. Not my best work, but it’s done.

A lot of condensation on the inside of the front windscreen of the car this afternoon, after a rain shower and the back window tonight when we left the STUC. Don’t remember having that trouble with the Megane when it was new. I should probably keep an eye on it, just in case there’s a leak in a seal somewhere.

Think I may go in to Glasgow tomorrow on the bus, just for a walk around.

Posted on the 12th because WiFi was going crazy last night, switching off and on repeatedly

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Today I had a plan – 2 October 2017

You should always start out with a plan. If nothing else, a list of things to do today. I had a plan, and I stuck to it (almost).

Maybe it was the getting up early yesterday to watch the Sepang GP that did it. Maybe it was that if I stayed in bed I’d be listening to the wind howling through the trees. Maybe it was because Scamp had shamed me into getting up and out. Probably all three. I got up and got going. First stop on the plan was The Fort. I was looking for two or three half pans of watercolour paint, some fixative aerosol and some magnetic plastic strip. I figured I could get them all at Hobbycraft. Next, I was going to the gym or maybe the pool to kick the dull winter blues. Thirdly I was going to get a photo and a sketch done. The magnetic strip was no problem, Hobbycraft had loads of different sizes and shapes of them. Hedged my bets by getting some strip and also some stick-on squares. Half pans were a non starter. They didn’t sell them. Fixative was too expensive at £10. So I’d have to drive in to town and go to Cass Art.

It’s wasn’t an onerous task driving into town. Just for fun I switched into Sport mode and enjoyed the acceleration driving along the motorway. Parked no bother up on St James Street. That’s not its real name. I can never remember its real name, but it’s always St James Street to us. Walked down into the town and noticed that as usual it was much calmer with the buildings to shelter us pedestrians from the wind. Except, that is when you are near the big curved glass and steel structure on Queen Street. Like the Sky Garden in London, it seems to attract the wind and magnify its effect, possibly the curved frontage has something to do with that. Got the fixative, but still couldn’t find the colours was looking for and time was ticking away if I was going to achieve number 2 on the list. Gave up and headed back to the car then drove to Westerwood where I spent half an hour in the pool, the steam room and the sauna. Drove back home and just as I was getting to the front door the sun started to shine. It lit up the two or three nasturtiums that have self-seeded in the front garden. The bright orange of the flowers against the green of the leaves made a great colour combination, and that was the photograph. Nearly there.

Sorted out (hopefully) a problem that’s stopping some people from posting to the Flickr Inktober 2017 group and by then it was time to make the dinner. Strozzapreti with tomato, red pepper and spinach sauce. Very nice. Then out to salsa.

First class was easy. Intermediate level. Next class was murder, advanced and lots of twisting, turning, ducking and swearing. I don’t know why I put myself through it. Yes I do, it’s great fun.

Yesterday, driving home in the dark I wasn’t impressed with the car headlights. Today I found out why. I was driving home with side lights. The headlights weren’t coming on. Just to be safe, tonight I drove with sidelights and front fogs. I’m going to have to take the car to Stirling tomorrow to have a word with the man. Then, turning into the estate with no cars around I turned on main beam to see if that would work. It did, and then the headlights came on! So, they have been wired up, but is there a dry joint somewhere or a loose fuse? I don’t know, but in a car barely four days old, I’d expect the lights to work. Definitely going to have to have that looked at pronto.

Finally got a sketch done about an hour ago. It’s not great, but it’s done.

Tomorrow I believe I’m in the navigator and radio operator’s seat while Scamp has the controls. We’re off to Tesco. Then Stirling.

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J Day – 28 September 2017

The overriding topic of the day was the Juke. Everything else paled into insignificance.

The day started with Scamp heading off to have coffee with her aunt. I struggled with an app on the Samsung. On the Mac it would have been easy and on the PC I had already solved the problem, but it was becoming a challenge to get it working on android. I finally solved it and got a grid of squares on a photo which I could then transfer on to a canvas. The squaring up was next to do and I then realised that it had been a mistake to paint the ground of the canvas brown when I was going to sketch on it with charcoal which is black. After a frustrating hour of programming and sketching, I gave up and painted over the brown ground with a creamy yellow. I left it to dry just as Scamp returned from her meeting with lunch in paper bags marked ‘Greggs’.

After lunch we took a deep breath and drove the Megane to Stirling. An hour or so later we returned with a shiny bright red Juke after signing my name about a dozen times. The drive was comfortable and smooth. The car felt solid and dependable, but only time will tell. Scamp was delighted with her bouquet of flowers from the dealership too.

After a cup of tea and a read through the manual we set off for another drive. This time I had a fair idea how to use cruise control and how to program the radio and the sat nav. We found our way to Kilsyth and parked at Lidl to buy some ‘messages’ and then took a more twisty, turny road home along beside the canal. There are still some mysteries to investigate in the next few days, but that’s the way it should be with anything new. One disappointment was discovering that Nissan want to charge around £150 for an SD card with the latest map data for the sat nav. I don’t think I’ll be going that path. I may look at a famous internet auction site when the time comes.

When we got home we celebrated the purchase with the bottle of prosecco which came from the dealership too.

Today’s PoD were a couple of cryptic views of the new car, of course. What else could I choose on this bright and sunny day. All shades of yesterday have gone.

Coffee with Fred and Val and then what? Perhaps a short spin? Yes, I think so.

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Dull, Dull, Dull – 20 September 2017

Today was very dull. The light was almost nonexistent. As a guide, we left for Salsa at 5.45pm and the car lights came on automatically and it had rained almost all day. However, before we get to that, other things happened.

Scamp had loads of ironing to do and for the first time in ages, I volunteered to help. That shows just how fed up I was. I managed to do three of my salsa shirts and two runners for the top of the drawers in the bedroom. I know she carefully filtered the selection to give me the easy ones, but at least it was five things she didn’t have to do. I managed to get them all done without burning them … or myself. I know I’ve now created a precedent, but I’ll deal with that on another day. A sunny day.

I added some watercolour to the sketch I did yesterday and it looked a bit better for that. I took four shots of a fuchsia in the garden and used Photoshop to create a ’stack’ which is just what it says. Every photo in the stack was sharp in a different area and the idea is to create a composite of all the ’good bits’ while hiding all the ‘bad bits’. I think it worked. I leave the final decision to you.

Salsa tonight was the highlight of the day. Seeing the beginners class actually dancing I mean reelly dancing was great and the numbers in the 7.30pm advanced class were very healthy again. That’s not to say they will stay healthy, we can but hope.

Tomorrow looks rainy, so I think I’ll do some painting.

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The other day – 10 September 2017

Yesterday was a beautiful sun filled, blue sky day. Today was the other day.

It rained almost all day. I did manage to grab a couple of photos one of which made it to PoD. The other one was shot using ISO 5000. Not good for detail, so it remains in Lightroom.

Hardly got past the door today. Drove down to Lidl at Kilsyth to get beer and that was it.

Started a painting, well, it actually started out as a charcoal sketch then a watercolour sketch and finally an acrylic painting, A2, biggest I’ve worked on so far. It’s still not finished, but it’s beginning to look like I hoped it would.

Dinner for Scamp was a sort of Crazy Water Fish and for me was half a Dinosaur Bone I got the last time we were visiting JIC and Sim. I’m not sure I cooked it for long enough as it was a bit jelly-like in places. I’ve pulled the rest of the meat off the bone and intend using it to make a ragu to have with pasta for tomorrow’s dinner.

Who would have thought two consecutive days could be so different? However, it is Scotland. We should be used to this.

Tomorrow I visit the Podiatrist to get my little feeties looked at.

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The day that the rains came down – 7 September 2017

Today it was raining in the morning when we woke.

Later in the morning, when I was feeding the birds, it was raining.

When I went to the docs to get my retinopathy test, it was raining. When I came out it wasn’t raining, it was monsooning, if monsooning is a word. If it isn’t a word, then it should be, because this is what I imagine a monsoon to be like. By the time we got home, we because Scamp had kindly offered to drive me to the docs in case I got drops in my eyes and couldn’t see to drive. When we got home it was just raining again.

I had intended going in to Glasgow in the morning to get my hair cut, but there was no way I was travelling far in this weather. Instead, I stayed home and completed another painting. This time, I’m ready to post a pic. I’ll also include yesterday’s painting which I chose to keep unaltered.

Dinner was what Scamp called ‘comfort food’ and with good reason. A plate of soup for us followed by Bubble ’n’ Squeak for Scamp and Stew with Potatoes and Cabbage for me.

PoD was the strawberry flower in the hanging basket (bottom right). It was taken during the lighter rain through the open back door, from the shelter of the kitchen. Oh yes, and it’s still raining!

More rain forecast for tomorrow, but it will be better rain than today’s. At least we don’t have the devastating 120mph winds they’re getting in the Caribbean with Storm Irma.

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Unexpected – 26 August 2017

Today we were on a tight schedule. I wanted to get a pair of jeans in Glasgow and we both wanted to go to a flower show on the way back. Also, if we could find time in the middle to have lunch that would be a bonus!

Drove to Glasgow. When we emerged from the car park everyone was huddled round the door, because it was raining – such an unusual event in Scotland. However, after we walked down Buchanan Street in the gradually increasing deluge, we too took shelter in a shop doorway and I got the photo of the three ladies who chose an arboreal shelter instead.

Went in to St Enoch’s Centre to get out of the rain and use it as a short cut to Debenhams, and it was there I came upon The Unexpected Artist gallery. There were two artists on site. One wee bauchle singing away to himself while he painted in the corner and a tall thin woman with tattoos all down her neck, painting a portrait. Some of the work on show was very good, some was not all that great. Certainly worth another look though. Got the jeans and almost dodged the rain going for lunch in Charcoals. The food was great, but it was a bit spicy. I didn’t mind, but Scamp was sure there was steam coming out of her ears. A slight exaggeration, but there was a fair bit of heat in the Chicken Rogan Josh. No opportunity of a beer on the way home as I was driving, but at least the rain was easing off by then.

Got to Muirhead for the garden show and met the other Mr Campbell (no relation) and discussed retirement then exchanged news. Bemoaned the poor weather this year and discussed holidays past and still to come. Took our leave and left before the prize giving. Such a dull affair with too many in jokes.

Sort of intended going out to get some photos, but finally decided that I had enough. I’d taken the shots of the drips on the poppy stems this morning and grabbed one or two of the rowan berry on the allium, but it was the ladies in the rain that was my PoD.  What I did do was an attempted copy of Fred’s painting.  His looks better, the colour in mine is too muddy.  I’ll attempt version 2 tomorrow.

Hoping for the dry weather that appeared tonight to stay tomorrow, because Monday looks like more rain.  Not unexpected at all.

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When Technology Goes Bad – 21 August 2017

We had intended going swimming or to the gym today, but it never materialised.

The reason for our missing exercise is that today is Monday and the gym but especially the pool is over-run with folk on a Monday, having an extended weekend and eager to use up their Groupon vouchers for a ‘pampering’ session at the spa. Usually this means that the pull is full of floating islands of (mainly) women talking and taking up swimming space. The same happens to a lesser extent in the gym. There they just stand around gawping at the machines and wondering how they can get out of the room without looking a total fraud. It’s one of my pet hates in the leisure centre. So, we didn’t go.

Scamp was going for messages and I settled down to do a painting. All I needed to do was assemble the easel and load the photo onto my tablet, and there was the problem. Although I’d exported the photos to my NAS drive, their folder showed up on the tablet, but the folder was empty. I don’t know where the photos went. I checked on the computer and they had been sent. Unfortunately the folder was empty on the laptop too. Nothing for it than to export them again and this time check that they landed on the NAS safely. They did. Now the tablet couldn’t get network access. I showed it the WiFi extender with its green light. I showed it my phone which had network access. All to no avail. Finally I uninstalled the WD Mycloud app and re-installed it. Now it asked me for a twelve digit access code to connect to the NAS. I gave up. Scamp was now back home with half of Tesco in bags in the hall and I was running out of battery power in the tablet and patience. What’s worse, I could access the photos easily from my (spit) Windows 10 tablet. I know, I know, I could use that instead, but this was a matter of principle now. Why does the Samsung not connect when a Win 10 tablet can? Answers on a postcard please. It was now time to make the dinner before we went to Salsa.

Salsa sorted me. It grounded me, as it usually does and I had a great time Tonight’s new move was ‘Disco’. A strange name for a salsa move. It’s like calling Fillet Steak, reconstituted mince. Other moves tonight were Enchufe Dos and Enchufe Complicado

Today’s PoD is of sweet pea stems in a rectangular vase. I turned it upside down ( the photo that is!) to make it look more interesting.

Hoping for an incentive to go out tomorrow, away from Android tablets.

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Rainy Monday – 14 August 2017

Least said about the weather today, the better. It rained, let’s leave it at that.

Again, we were pottering about in the garden in the rain. Sowing seeds and stuff, but nothing much because we were having to work in the short dry spells.

We took a run up to B&Q to get some varnish for a much needed protective coat on the inside window ledges. That about sums up the best bits of the day.

Salsa at night was a hit and a miss. Jamie seemed a bit unprepared for taking a combined class composed of his 7.30 class and Will’s 8.30 class in the 7.30 slot (if that makes sense.) It was meant to happen next week, but I think it had been rushed through this week instead. Two new moves that might actually make it to next week unchanged. I helped at Shannon & Cameron’s 6.30 class. Big mistake. I hadn’t noticed Shannon in the class, only that Cameron was teaching and they were a leader down, so I filled the gap. Unfortunately, after that Shannon took over and the class went over the same three moves for the next half hour. Boooooring. I shall be more circumspect next time.

Supposed to be a better day tomorrow. Let’s hope so.