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Visiting Herr Kutz – 22 February 2018

Ok, this blog entry has been done on the 23rd for reasons that will become clear.

I set off this morning on the train in to Glasgow after Scamp kindly gave me a lift to the station. It was time to get my hair cut by someone who knew how to do it properly. The last time I had my hair cut properly, was last December or maybe November. I cut it myself in January, but as usual made a bit of a hack of it, just to keep it a bit shorter. This time I needed a bit of topiary. A bit of shaping, so it was off to the Nile Barber for some intelligent conversation and some humour as my untidy locks were snipped into shape.

It was the bloke with the beard today. He of the conspiracy theories and the liking for the Russian slant to the news. He says it gives a better balance than the BBC does. Now I like the BBC’s reporting, but while it’s not as sensationalist as some, there is a tendency to, as Morrissey said, ‘frighten you’.

Stop watching the news
Because the news contrives to frighten you
To make you feel small and alone
To make you feel that your mind isn’t your own

Spent the day in bed
Morrissey

Today he was a bit more down than I’ve heard him before, but when we had a discussion about the High School Shootings in America he became more voluble about the merits of Trump’s stance on arming the teachers. I must admit, when I first heard about DT’s proposal, I immediately remembered a line from Matt McGinn’s ‘Rap Tap Tap’:

Tak the straps fae a’ the teachers
Issue every wan a gun

Conversation drifted to legalising cannabis and then the explanation of his slightly depressed mood, when he said that he was ‘having some prostate problems.’ Poor guy. I know a couple of folk who have the same problems. Anyway, I enjoyed the conversation, and although I don’t agree with everything he said, his are intelligent and well though out arguments, always with a ‘middle ground’ stance.

Went for a walk down to CassArt and bought a couple of new pens and a wee sketch pad. St Enoch Nero provided, not only a coffee, but also a chance to do a quick sketch with my new pen, which turned out to be an old friend, a Pentel fibre tip which I hadn’t seen in years. Sketch was ok.

Nero St Enoch - Glasgow

Bus back home and listened to Dream of Gerontious on the journey. As usual, felt quite uplifted by it.

Dinner was roast chicken with baked potatoes and that’s when things went wrong. I’d also made sweet potato fritters which are also under suspicion.

About an hour or so after dinner, Scamp felt a bit sick and then was sick. That’s most unusual for her. I’m the one with the dicky stomach. The sickness and then diarrhoea went on for a good couple of hours and I was beginning to get a bit worried when it started to subside and she began to feel better and also get her colour back. She went to bed early feeling very tired. I decided to join her later once I’d cleared up.

This morning she was back to her usual self, ready to meet today’s problem!

TBC

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Foodies – 20 February 2018

Today we had a light breakfast before getting a taxi to the station, then the train to Embra.  Today was Foodie Day!

When we got to Embra we found the bus stop for the No 34 bus that would take us to Ocean Terminal.  With diversions, because Leith Walk is partially closed, it took about 35 minutes to cover the 4 miles.  The train journey from Croy to Edinburgh only took 45 minutes.  This was the X3 of Lothian buses.  However, we were in no hurry, because we had plenty of time to find today’s destination.  Had a cup of coffee in Ocean Terminal which is really just a great shopping mall with an entrance to the Royal Yacht Britannia, Mrs McQueen’s old boat.  We weren’t going there today, we were going for lunch at The Kitchin Restaurant.  It has been booked since November, such is the waiting list.  I was thinking “it better be worth the wait”.  It was.

Nothing to look at from the road, there’s a notice on the door telling customers to enter by Commercial Quay, round the back. Inside it was dark grey paintwork with discrete little areas like booths, but more open.  The food was superb.  Just what you’d expect from a Michelin star restaurant.  I’d recite what we had, but I can do better than that, and show you the menu with our selections highlighted.  Just click it to see it better.  It’s not a link to Flickr this time, just a link to the image.  My starter was from the Vegetarian menu because we were able to mix and match between menus.We also took the matching wine pairing and that really was an eye opener.  Truly an unforgettable lunch and not a potato to be seen 😉

After lunch we walked along and got a No 16 back to Waverly and it only took about 20 minutes and that because of traffic.  Got the train to Croy and a taxi home.  Strangely enough it was the same taxi driver we had in the morning!  Really, that’s the barest of bare bones of the day.  Too much to cram in to this blog post, you need to hear about it rather than read about  it (ask about the amuse bouche Oh yes, and the bread Hazy!)  A really memorable meal and one we’d do again once we’ve saved up enough to go back DV.

Tonight’s sketch is a coloured pencil sketch of an orange.  I described it thus:  “Oranges make great subjects because after you draw them you can eat them and destroy the evidence of your mistakes!”

Orange

Today’s PoD was a view of reflections on the Water of Leith.

Tomorrow?  Auld claes and purrich I’m afraid!

 

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Walking, Dancing and Backups – 19 February 2018

I’d fully intended going to the gym today, but although there was a smir of rain in the air this morning, I decided that to avoid Gems, I’d go for a walk instead. It was the right decision.

<Technospeak Alert>
In the morning I finally got my wee 2-in-1 tablet computer sorted out by using an old memory stick to boot into Windows PE and from there run a backup program to restore a backup I’d made way back in 2016. I thought it might be a bit basic, but all the apps I need are on it and I’ve even worked out how to use Microsoft Gallery to import my RAW pics. I got truly fed up with having to manipulate the EXIF data on the photos to allow Lightroom 5 to work with the RAW files from the Teazer (Panasonic TZ 70) so now I’m going to use the free and very good RawTherapee to do the heavy lifting of the RAW processing. I’ll see how it goes in the next few weeks. Right JIC you can come back in again.
</Technospeak Alert>

After successfully got rid of the baggage that Win10 leaves behind, and after lunch too, I went for a walk down by the canal.  The weather had cleared up nicely and the air was much warmer than I’d anticipated.  It actually felt like spring was in the air.  I know, there another cold snap due in a few days, but it’s Scotland.  There’s always another cold snap due in a couple of days, even in June … Especially in June!!  I even saw a hairy caterpillar, but it wasn’t caterpillaring around, it was just sitting there.  Maybe it was sunbathing, yes, that’s it.  It was sunbathing in its fur coat.  I took its photo anyway, just for the record.  Caterpillars in February!  Who knew?!  The photo at the top was my favourite of the lot I took, so that’s why it made PoD.

We went dancing at night and just for fun I asked Alexa what the travel time was to the STUC just before we left the house.  She (it?) said 25 minutes.  Twenty five minutes later I was walking along Woodlands Road looking for a parking meter that actually worked.  Glasgow council, you do realise that it’s not enough to plonk new parking meters by the side of the road?  You know you have to maintain them too, and occasionally empty the coins we commuters cram into them every time we need to park?  Duh!  So Alexa translated my speech into text, sent the text to somewhere in California accessed a database from there, checked my commute and returned the data which was turned back into speech and spoken to me in a very human sounding voice, and got it spot on right!  All of that within about five seconds.  Brilliant waste of technology, but still Glasgow council doesn’t seem to know how to operate its parking meters.  If it was up to them, high speed internet connections would be done with two shiny tin cans and a piece of coloured string.
Dancing was ‘interesting’.  We did one rueda move that didn’t have a name and seemed to confuse everyone.  Tonight’s move was ‘Stormtrooper’  Great name.  I hated it.  Then as I saw how it was working, I began to like it and later  in the night when I’d almost perfected it, I thought it was great too, just like its name.  That’s what a good teacher can achieve.

Just my glasses

Tonight’s sketch was just a 15minute shot.  A placemarker of a pencil sketch.  It’s a bit rough, but I don’t have a lot of time on a Monday.

Tomorrow, hopefully, we’re off to Embra, to Leith in fact to go for a fancy lunch.

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Timba Merchant – 18 February 2018

Like I said a few days ago, most days revolve around something. Today’s something was dancing … yet again.

Before the dancing could begin, some painting needed done. Painting in oils again, I’d practised the apple and the pear, so today I was painting the apple AND the pear, with the addition of a pink duster just to make it more difficult. I was also using a different mixture of oils. This time it was ‘normal’ oils mixed with ‘quick drying’ oils. Would it make any difference? I doubted it, but I did add some turpentine to the mix to avoid me dipping my brushes in water to clean them. Oil and water don’t mix you know! It turned out not too bad, well I think so anyway.

Apple and pear

We decided to go in early today to take Will’s Styling Class. Maybe he could make me dance with style. Anything is possible in Salsa. It turned out not to be salsa, but Timba. Timba is more like Rhumba than Salsa, but it was great fun and we now how to do Pelo (or ‘potatoes’) and ‘Ki-chang!’ Or at least something like that. Like I said, it was great fun but I’m not sure I’ll ever attempt it on the dance floor outside Arta. I think I’d look a right eejit trying that stuff outside the Salsa Set.
Two of the girls from our real beginners Wednesday class appeared and Scamp and I danced with them. One of them said she trusted me because she knew I “wouldn’t throw her about or anything.” Now was that a challenge or a warning? I took it as a bit of a challenge and tried some level 2 or maybe even level 3 moves mixed in with the beginners stuff she knew. Before we started dancing I did tell her that if things got too difficult, all she had to do was let go. She did, a few times.  Scamp and I danced a few times too.  Well, more than a few times.  By  the end of it I was soaked in sweat and my brain was empty of moves, but it was good fun.  The girls seemed to have enjoyed their introduction to Social Salsa and I told them that next time I WOULD throw them about and anything.”  They laughed, thankfully.  Just remember, if the going gets tough, LET GO.  That could be a rule for life!

Drove home and Scamp made a quite delicious Trout with veg and potatoes dinner.  Honestly, the fish just flaked off the skin.  Beautiful.  Nobody, but nobody cooks fish like Scamp!

Today’s PoD is a shot of Scamp’s Broad Bean shoots.  They really are sturdy specimens and fast growing too.  She thinks she’ll put them outside in the cold greenhouse to harden off a bit.  It seems a bit harsh with more cold weather forecast for the coming weeks, but I’m sure they’ll survive.

Tomorrow is Gems day.  If the weather is set fine, I may get my bike out and see if I can cycle for a few miles without falling off.  If it’s dull and dingy I’ll go to  the gym and cycle in comfort!

 

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Anniversary – 17 February 2018

45 years ago today we made it legal. The rest is history.

We got the bus in to Glasgow today to have lunch, a wee drink, perhaps and to celebrate our anniversary. We were heading to Sarti’s when Revolución De Cuba caught Scamp’s eye. She fancied the baked hake, wrapped in a banana leaf and the Caribbean Chicken Curry would do me. Drinks in a Cuban bar just had to be Mojitos. The Mojitos turned out to be lack lustre with too much ice, not enough alcohol, mint or sugar. Disappointing. The Caribbean Chicken Curry was deliciously fruity and hot, but lacked the volume I was expecting. Scamp’s baked hake was the same, but worse. Lacking in filling power, but also lacking in seasoning. We paid and left to have coffee in Nero with a slice of cake each, to make up for the pudding we didn’t have.

Wandered round the centre of town. I had a look in CassArt to see if I could anything with a 75% that was advertised on big billboards in the windows. I found one little taster acrylic set that almost made the cut, but wasn’t worth buying for £2.25. Walked up to JL to buy our big anniversary prezzy for us and the house, an Amazon Echo. It had been on sale for £75 earlier in the week, but now it was back to the Amazon price of £90. I was happy to walk away from it. Maybe ‘happy’ isn’t the right word, ‘settled’ maybe gives a better idea of how I felt, but Scamp convinced me that we should buy it. Which is what we did. We were going to have a drink, then get the bus home, but then I suggested getting the bus along to Craiglinn, have a drink there and walk home. That’s what we did. One dobber on the bus, a former pupil. He pontificated almost all the way home. I remember him as a pupil at school. An opinionated, but utterly useless individual. He hadn’t changed.

After a drink in the dingy, but fairly cheap Stonehouse ‘restaurant’, we walked home and plugged in the Echo. Spent an interesting hour or so trying to get ‘Alexa’ the automaton to play some music. ‘Her’ most common phrase seems to be “I’m sorry, I can’t find XXX in your music library.” I’m sorry too. She may be going back to JL.

Today’s PoD was an attempt at a reflection / distortion shot of the Saturday crowds in Glasgow.
Yesterday’s and today’s 28 Drawings Later paintings are oils. Yesterday’s is the orange and today’s is the apple. Used a mixture of oil paints and then realised that although the Water Soluble Oils and the Fast Drying Oils mix happily, if you add water to them, only the WS Oils will dilute and then separate from the FD Oils. Obvious really when you think about it. Pity I hadn’t thought about it before I messed them up! Still, the survived long enough to be photographed and entered. Oh yes, and Scamp bought me a new phone case with the camera aperture the correct size and in the correct position, so no more dark shadows I hope.

Tomorrow? It’s a Sunday Social day, so dancing, of course.

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Snow begone (again) – 12 February 2018

By the time we got up today the snow was well on the way to disappearing. Good riddance.

Wasn’t feeling myself today. Just felt tired and listless. Pains in my stomach too. Don’t know what caused it. I’d say last night’s tapas, but they tasted good and the chilli had so little ‘carne’ in it, it was almost vegetarian. Yes, I know veg can upset your stomach too. Basically I just need to wait it out. Brought the car down from its abandonment last night, and parked it properly outside the house.

After lunch I went for a snooze while Scamp went for the messages. I just wasn’t up to it and she was happy to drive because the snow had disappeared completely. The snooze helped and I decided to get out and see if some fresh air would help. That’s where I got today’s shot. Saw two deer. Haven’t seen any for ages and on the way back I saw two herons! Scamp reckons they are Mr & Mrs Grey. I suppose that could be true. Either that or it’s an infiltrator looking for a face-off with Mr Grey. They squawked a bit at each other and then flew off in opposite directions. The walk and the fresh air did help a bit, but dinner was a plate of Scamp’s magic lentil soup and it did more than anything else to make me feel better.

In the evening I didn’t feel like going to salsa and Scamp agreed that we should stay at home.  I stuck a bit of corrugated cardboard on the easel and painted a still life. It’s pretty basic, but halfway through I realised that the pain in my stomach had gone. The painting might be poor, but it forced me to stop thinking about myself for a while.

Fruit

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It depends on how I’m feeling and on the weather. There’s more snow forecast for tonight into tomorrow. Maybe the gym for a light bit of stretching.

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Following the yellow brick road again – 10 February 2018

Today we were going to IKEA to see what mysteries and amazing gadgetry the Swedish had for us, and to buy four medium trays for my modular painting cabinet.

We had intended going to Dunfermline to have a walk in the park and hopefully to have lunch and a beer, because we were going by bus. Unfortunately, when I broke surface just before 10am it was raining and we weren’t going to be walking in a park today, not anywhere in Scotland. We decided instead to go to IKEA.

I hadn’t checked, but I didn’t think Rangers were playing today so the M8 should have been a whizz through. It wasn’t. From ten miles out they were predicting congestion west bound and we were west bound. For once they were right and for once I didn’t get upset. We weren’t in a hurry. We were going to IKEA and nowhere else. It seemed that the traffic disappeared as we got to the Express Way turnoff. Maybe everyone was desperate not to miss the start of the ballet at the SECC. Anyway, the rest of the journey was pain free except when I stalled the Juke in the middle lane and couldn’t get it to start again. It categorically refused until I put it in neutral and applied the hand brake before going through the foot on clutch and press button rigmarole. Must keep an eye out for that happening again. Hopefully never. We wandered round IKEA following the little projected arrows and bought lots of stuff that seemed so useful and important at the time. Most of it will languish in a drawer somewhere to be discovered later with a “What did we buy that for?” Some of them will come in handy, especially Scamp’s favourite, the blue fold-down porters trolley. I had thought we might have lunch there, with Swedish Meatballs high on my list, but we decided not to and drove back home stopping at Costa Robroyston for a quick lunch.

Time when we got home for a quick walk through St Mo’s with no prospect of a photo. Light level too low and nothing of any real interest. Maybe tomorrow. I have a germ of an idea. What became PoD was a shot of a Broad Bean sprouting in Scamp’s propagator.

Dinner tonight was courtesy of Bombay Dreams. I had too much pakora and was stuffed by the end of it. More stuff to go in the freezer.

Yesterday’s sketch is a pencil sketch of my Timex watch and todays was described on Flickr as “An unnamed loch with Ben Thahuse in the background”. I’m sure there are some puzzled americans frantically searching Google Earth for Ben Thahuse, thinking it must mean ‘the snowy mountain’ in Gaelic.

Tomorrow? What else this week, but more dancin’. Sunday Social in La Rambla in Paisley with tapas lunch before it. That’s the way to do it.

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Dancin’, Dancin’, Dancin’ – 7 February 2018

Did I mention that we were dancin’ today?

Scamp was out in the morning which gave me some time to slap some acrylic paint on a piece of corrugated cardboard. It had already been primed with a mix of green, red and blue paint yesterday. Then after a quick lunch when Scamp returned, we were off the other first and second dance class.

First class was Waltz and it was not as frantic or as difficult as the first one a fortnight ago, mainly because we’d been practising. Second class immediately afterwards was Jive and it was difficult. Much more footwork than I’d imagined. After that we just drove back home

While Scamp made the dinner, I returned to the painting and blocked in the mass of the foliage, the foreground grass and the area between that would be the trunks of some trees. After dinner (fish curry made with yesterday’s daal and a couple of pieces of smoked haddock – quite delicious) we got ready for the next lot of dancing.   Luckily it would be easy because we were helping out at beginners classes.  There were too many men as usual at the first class, so I helped out with Shannon’s beginners.  A bit of a culture shock as the moves aren’t very well explained, nor is the timing very clear, but she does make sure the basics are covered again and again and again.  I won’t say any more as I would go on for quite some time.  Next class was also a beginners class, but much more fun and no poking fun at folk who couldn’t get things right, but that’s just Jamie’s way.  A much more gentle and considerate approach.

Came home and slapped the sky in and also added the highlights on the trees and it is now up for perusal on Flickr and Instagram:

Five Trees

Today’s PoD was seen at Candleriggs in Glasgow.  It should spell Candleriggs Square, but someone has nicked a few of the letters.  It reminded me of the anagram round in Countdown.  “Could I have a consonant please.”

I think Scamp is off having coffee AGAIN tomorrow, so I’ll probably clean up the mess in the back room and see what’s what.  May go dancing at night!!

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Dull, dull, rain, dull – 3 February 2018

It was one of those days. According to the weather fairy it was going to improve in the afternoon. Perhaps she needs to revisit the dictionary of the meaning of ‘improve’.

We had decide to drive to The Smiddy near Blair Drummond for lunch and the possibility of a couple of photos, if not a sketch when the weather improved later in the afternoon. We drove through the increasingly heavy rain to get there and just a we were turning in to the restaurant/cafe the rain eased, just as they said it would. Away to the north west the sky was definitely clearing and there was the hint of blue sky there. Lunch was a Smiddy Burger for me and macaroni and cheese for Scamp. Both served with skin-on chips. The chips were oily and delicious, I knew I shouldn’t eat them all, but I just kept going until they were finished – so did Scamp. The macaroni seemed to go down well too. The too-thin burger was covered with melted cheese, bacon and mayo. Not a good choice and not one to put your name to, in my opinion. Last week I paid the same money for a nice thick home-made tasting burger in Scott’s in Troon. This was nothing like it. However, one bitten twice shy. In fact I wish I hadn’t bitten at all.

By the time we were coming out, the blue sky had gone, the sky had given up on the clearing and was returning to milky white. So much so that it looked like the colour had been drawn out of the landscape. I did grab a few pictures, but not many. You can see the best of them up at the top.

The rain kept up all the way home. I couldn’t be bothered going out to St Mo’s because I didn’t think I was going to get any more interesting images there. Instead, I started writing new Hazel code to organise my Documents folder on the iMac. It’s halfway implemented and it’s doing a fairly decent job of making a more logical filing system for the PDF files.

Today’s sketch for 28 Drawings Later is a half peeled orange. I quite like it. Sketched with the Blackwing soft pencil Hazy & ND’A gave me for Christmas and painted with Cotman watercolours on a cheap cartridge paper. It really deserves a better support, but I like the ‘tooth’ of the Tiger cartridge paper.

Orange

Watched the final program in the BBC series ‘Surgeons: At the edge of life’. If you haven’t seen it, you really should. If you think your own job is stressful, watch these people and admire the work they do. Totally engrossing and leaves you wondering how a person can do that sort of thing day after day.

Tomorrow? It just might be better than today, but I’m not convinced. Probably dancing for part of the day.

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Out for a Spin – 26 January 2018

Today we went to the seaside.

We had decided that if the weather was kind to us we’d go out west and head for Troon. We walked in blinding sunshine along the beach for a mile or so with all the dog walkers and their assorted dogs. The sea was well out today, the tide must have been at its lowest point. Although the sun was low and very bright, it was cold but for once there was no wind. I think Scamp would have walked further, but I called a halt after about an hour and we turned and made our way back the same way we’d come. Scamp said it was just like being on the treadmill at the gym. I think that’s the wrong way round. Surely the gym imitates life, not the other way round. Anyway, I’ve still to see this marvellous video attraction. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try it out next week and not have to tap the sand out of my trainers afterwards.

Lunch was in Scotts which is becoming a firm favourite. Every time we go there it’s like being in the Crews Inn at Chaguaramas in Trinidad. The temperature is a bit different and the distant scenery is too, but the boats in the marina and the general layout of the place remind us both of a wonderful lunch and the most alcoholic sangria I’ve ever tasted. No alcohol today because I was driving, but Erdinger’s Alcohol Free ‘beer’ is now top of the list for a beer flavoured drink. Food was Chicken Stroganoff followed by Seasonal Fruit Crumble for Scamp and a Beef Burger followed by Key Lime Pie for me. The whole thing rounded off with coffee and the shortest shortbread I’ve had in a long time. Lovely! Service could have been a bit quicker, but otherwise it was excellent. We both agreed it was a great day out at the seaside.

PoD was the red boat passing Arran, although it was a tough call between that and the people silhouetted on the beach. The bottle was just a fun grab shot for a Flickr group called One Bottle.

Tonight we made the decision and we are going on a cruise in the summer. Not a balcony cabin, but an Ocean View. Next best thing. Booked and deposit paid.

Tomorrow? It looks like rain, so we may be going more local than today. It all depends on the weather. How many times do I end a blog with that?