So, what of the day then? – 20 October 2018

So, what of the day then?

That’s a morning question, especially an uninspiring morning question.

This morning we asked each other that question, but answer came there none for a while. It was a dull morning and we’d nothing much to do. Nothing that had to be done, nowhere we needed to go. Sometimes that’s worse than having too much on your to-do list. Finally, Scamp suggested that we go to The Fort and have lunch in Wagamama. The Fort isn’t my favourite place and as they are digging up our usual approach road to put in new water mains, that makes it even less desirable. However, it’s a long while since we’ve been to Wagamama and The Fort has a book shop now … So, lunch was the answer to the question.

Drove there via the M80 and M8 to avoid the roadworks that have plagued and still plague the other much more direct route. Had lunch, Tantanmen Beef Brisket Ramen for me and Chicken Samla Curry for Scamp. Mine was superb, but Scamp said her’s was a bit hot. Judging by the pile of rejected red chilli slices at the side of her plate, it was. After lunch Scamp went to investigate M&S and I browsed through Waterstones. Neither of us came out laden with stuff, but I saw a book that might be interesting once the price has gone down sufficiently. Something to replace the excellent House of Lies (Rebus 22) which I finished this morning.

Next, we made a half-hearted attempt to buy Morrisons, but we only made a small dent in their stock. A few bargains, breakfast muesli for me and a muffin each for coffee at home. It was raining when we came out, so we drove home.

Watched a two hour long extravaganza of pointless pre-race nonsense before the qualifying for the American F1 GP. How they managed to fill all that time I really don’t know. Most of the time we watched it on a flickering fast-forward. So many meaningless statistics produced by so many puffed up pundits. Please, I just want to see the bright coloured motors going round and round the track!

That was it for a dull day. PoD was what you see at the top. It’s raindrops on gladioli leaves. Sketch for Inktober today was a doodle done on my paper mousemat of a photograph I took ‘way back in June in sunny Barcelona. A place marker and that’s all.

This was written, as you’ve probably guessed, on Sunday. I had hoped it would be a better day, but it’s not turning out that way so far. Maybe later.

Nothing much to report – 16 October 2018

Out early to the dentist, but no fillings for me, mum.

Drove Scamp to the dentist on a cold morning and waited in the car reading the latest Rebus book. Three quarters of the way through in just under two weeks. Must be a record. Scamp arrived just as the cold was beginning to seep in and I had switched on the engine to warm me up. Unfortunately, there was a filling for Scamp, a temporary one to see her through until a week on Friday, the 26th of October. The pain seems to have diminished a lot since yesterday and appears to be manageable. Now she’s complaining about the taste from the temporary filling. There’s no pleasing some people.

When we got back I noticed a little moth on the outside of the front window with the light shining through its wings. That became PoD. I also started what would become Inktober 2018 No16. Basically, it was what was sitting right in front of me on the coffee table. I got the scale of the apple totally wrong and that’s why there’s a ‘ghost apple’ there. That’s the trouble with drawing in ink, make a mistake and there’s no going back. There’s a fad just now for sketching in ball pen, that’s why today’s sketch was done with a cheapo black ball pen. I’m now looking for a better pen, one equipped with a Ctrl Z (Cmd Z Mac) button.

After the outing to the dentist, the furthest we went today was a short trip to Costa in Robroyston after calling in at the butchers in Muirhead for some raw meat for me. When we got back, and with the help of Scamp, I converted the raw chunks of meat into stew. Actually I’d so far as to say a very tasty stew. I can take no credit for it at all, it was all down to Scamp’s careful and patient instruction. I did add the Bisto though! Loads more for tomorrow’s dinner too.  By dinner time the sun from the morning was long gone, replaced by a drizzly smir.

Tomorrow is dancing day. Practised the Timesteps tonight to try to fix them in my head for tomorrow.

Now that’s much more like it – 14 October 2018

A much better day today. For once we thought the weather was trying to please, not punish.

Woke to milky white skies, but as the day progressed, so did the quality of the weather. By midday there were definite signs of blue skies and sunshine. Now that is more like the thing. I made the most of it by taking some shots of the light shining through the sweet pea leaves and also grabbed a shot of a hover fly on one of Scamp’s yellow flowers. I don’t know the name of the flower (or the hover fly), but I liked the shot. Immediately afterwards, Scamp decided it was time to strip out the sweet peas, so I was hoping that I’d got those shots cleanly. There would be no going back for more.

After lunch I decided that I wasn’t going to sit around all day and got my boots on and went for a walk along the canal and across the plantation to the old railway. I’d intended walking back along the side of the Garrell Burn, but with all the rain we’d had in the last week, the path was flooded in a few places, so I satisfied myself with taking a few ‘selfies’ using the Samyang. You’ll have to go to Flickr to find the evidence. Just click on the Picture of the Day at the top of the page to be redirected. With the road blocked, I walked back along the same path I’d taken to get there, and back along the canal. That’s where PoD came from. This was taken with my new iPhone app, Procamera. The amazing thing about it is the ability to save images as RAW files, meaning that post-processing is possible in Lightroom. That explains the superb photographic quality of the shot. Sorry JIC, a little bit of technospeak slipped in there.

Came home and decided that Scamp’s Chicken Broth tasted so good that I’d rather have that than go dancing in Glasgow. Anyway, although Scamp claims that her ankle is ok, we both know that she lies through gritted teeth where dancing is concerned. We backed out and stayed at home, rather than go to Mango. Chicken broth for dinner followed by chicken omelettes. Just lovely.

I’m really pleased with today’s Inktober sketch. I did something similar last year, or maybe it was in February this year, anyway, it’s a bit of a drawing within a drawing if you see what I mean.

That was about it for a lovely day and while watching Countryfile (without the despicable ‘Tom’ or John Craven) we saw the long range weather forecast for the week and the temperature is to drop tonight, but there will be much less rain and wind which is a blessing.

Tomorrow is Gems, so I may go for a swim or failing that, a run on Dewdrop.

It rained – 13 October 2018

All day, it rained.

As predicted by the weather fairies, it rained all day. It started off fairly light in the morning, but soon it grew more persistent and heavier as the day progressed. We decided to take the bus in to Glasgow with the sole purpose of having a decent lunch somewhere. Scamp suggested Sarti’s and I suggested Charcoals. We went with her choice, but first we had a wet walk down Buchanan Street and into the St Enoch Centre to view the artworks in The Unexpected Artist gallery. As usual there were some good paintings, one or two excellent pieces and a variety of things at exorbitant prices that we wouldn’t give house room. Worst today was a large canvas of the Rest & Be Thankful in Argyll priced at an eye-watering £960. Honestly, on a bad day I could paint something like this, hang it on the bedroom wall and cover it with white gesso in disgust the next day. It might just have been worth £9.60 for the canvas, but only if I was being very generous. There were others in the same style, but this was by far the worst. Such a shame to see a little watercolour of a hare for £900 less, painted with much less paint and lots more skill languishing among the rubbish on display. It’s a great place to visit, because it reminds you that even your worst paintings and sketches aren’t as bad as you think, but that there are also works to strive for.

Bumped into Val again. Don’t see him for ages, and then we bump into each other two days in a row.

Walked back up to Sarti’s for lunch. Cauliflower and Bean soup for starter with Sea Bream and Veg for Scamp and Penne with Meatballs for me. Delicious. Maybe we’ll go to Charcoals next time. Walked back to the bus station and got the bus home. Well, got the bus to Condorrat and walked the rest in what had become a light drizzle. Maybe Sunday will be better after all!

PoD was a grab shot just outside the bus station. Liked the light through the trees and the wind blown leaves on the pavement. Sketch was a pencil sketch inked in with a Micron 0.3 of the new Ian Rankin book I’m reading.

Tomorrow we may go dancing to Mango in Glasgow if Scamp’s ankle is ok. Weather fairies predict slightly drier weather.

Callum – 12 October 2018

Well, he didn’t stay long did he. Although he did knock down two of our bins on the road out.

I think we were in a neat little pocket of still air while Storm Callum was bustling about all around us. Nice of him to topple our garden rubbish bin and our recycling bin as he left. He did drop a lot of rain though. It started about midday, just as I was heading out to meet Fred and I think it’s still raining yet at just before 10.30pm. What’s more, there’s a second, even heavier lot ready and waiting for us tomorrow. Oh what fun. And we were worried that there might be a drought during the summer. We were praying that they wouldn’t have a hosepipe ban! Now we’re more worried about flash floods.

The rain didn’t stop Fred and I meeting to set the world to rights as we sometimes have to do just before the weekend. Even Val made it for half an hour or so. While I was waiting for them, I thought I’d fill in the time and the last page of my sketchbook with a little drawing of the bloke sitting at the next table. He had his back to me as he read the paper, so there was little chance of him objecting to being my model for the day. Unfortunately, there are few interesting features on the back of a person’s head, so it was a bit of a dull sketch. So dull in fact that I forgot to sign it, so that was done on a separate sheet and pasted on in Photoshop. Yes, I could have done it in ON1, but that would have taken at least an hour and Photoshop’s so much easier when you’ve been using it for a while.

Drove home accompanied by a high pitched squeal from the car. The rain was torrential at the time and I’d nowhere to stop, so I soldiered on and it suddenly stopped. As the wipers were on full at the time, trying to clear the windscreen and the cavity where their motor sits was full of leaves, I suspect that’s what was causing the squeal. The mashed up leaves I found in the cavity when I got home seemed to bear out that theory, but I’ll keep a listening ear out for strange noises for the next few days.

Scamp made Chicken Curry for dinner and I made flatbread, saltless flatbread (by accident). Tasted strange, was perfectly edible.

Today’s PoD is ‘Flooers’, never a good sign. Other than raindrops running down the window (and I’ve done that already) there wasn’t much more I could do. I liked the close-up, almost macro shot of the anthers and stigma look really alien.

Hoping to get the bus in to Glasgow tomorrow to go for lunch in the rain!

Footering about – 9 October 2018

Most of the footering was done in the morning. Later things became a bit busier.

After the morning’s footering I drove Scamp to the Dreaded Dentist. It’s not the dentist she dreads, or so she told me. It’s the thought of going to the dentist that’s the worst. I can understand that.  I keep a sketchpad in the car, so with some time to waste I sat in the car, in the torrential rain and sketched what was in front of me. What was in front of me, today, was a red VW Golf and that is what became Inktober 2018 No 9.

Home to have lunch and then with the patient convalescing on the sofa I took a box of bottles and assorted wine glasses to the local recycling centre.  The glasses either had become chipped or had bloom from the dishwasher and were deemed surplus to requirements. I do love dumping bottles in the big bins, but what is even more satisfying is smashing wine glasses. There were even a few crystal glasses with chipped rims and they made a sound like ice breaking when they smashed.

Came home and went out to St Mo’s with the Olys in in my bag and for once, I remembered to pack my GorillaPod. The rain had finally halted and the sun was even threating to come out so I got a few shots. Mainly fungi and mainly taken with the camera on the GorillaPod under WiFi control from my phone. Isn’t technology wonderful when it works.

Dinner tonight was Mushroom Soup made from cheap, reduced mushrooms and a pot of crème fraîche that needed to be used up soon. Surprisingly it turned out very well. Main was Sea Bream with vine tomatoes and baked sweet potatoes. Again, even more surprisingly, it tasted good.

So, you see, after much footering in the morning, the rest of the day was fully organised and successful. Smashing, in fact!

Hopefully tomorrow is dancin’ again.

Ballroom Dancing – 7 October 2018

I was sure this wasn’t going to be the highlight of my day

That is to say, I wasn’t looking forward to it … at all! The weather when we woke was wet and a bit windy, but I’d rather have gone for a walk in the windy rain than go dancing ballroom. Yes, I know that’s what we’ve been learning Jive, Waltz, Quickstep and Tango for, but I just had the feeling it would be a big dance floor filled with critical, snooty oldies. The reality was somewhat like that, but also totally different.

Starting from the top. We’d recorded the Japanese GP from Suzuka, one of my favourite tracks and for once it was full of thrills and spills. Great to see Vettel getting spun off the track by Verstappen. He’s young, V, and a bit of a nutter, but he made short work of a four times world champion who tried to muscle in front of him. Well done to you Mad Max. I really enjoyed the race and for a couple of hours it put dancing to the back of my mind.

PoD was a view of raindrops running down the front window. Not the most interesting of photos, perhaps, but I wasn’t going out in that rainstorm just to get a better photo and another dose of the cold to boot.

After lunch I did today’s sketch which was of two of Scamp’s boots lying under the coffee table. Not very imaginative, but there was more observation and sketching in it than in the last six added together. I liked the finished drawing. Let’s hope it’s the start of some better work.

It had to come. Just before 3pm I got washed, shaved and dressed for the dancing. Checked the postcode of the place we were going and wrote it down, lest I might (on purpose) forget it. We drove through the torrential rain to the hotel, only to find that there was no room to park, so I dropped Scamp off and went in search of a decent space in one of the side streets. We’d been allocated a table with some other folk. I think they were the ones nobody else wanted to sit beside. They weren’t that old, but they did tick the ‘Critical’ and ‘Snooty’ boxes. Basically the table I was dreading. We’d ordered food and when it came it was really good. Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp and Steak Pie for me. Mine needed some salt, but otherwise was excellent. Scamp’s seemed to suit her too. Then we manage to spirit ourselves away from Critical & Snooty. One of Scamp’s salsa friends had already had a run in with C&S and invited us to sit at her table. It was full of older women, but they smiled and made conversation with us, so we’d won a watch. The music started and some folk got up to dance. Scamp nudged me and we joined them, demonstration our 7 Spins Skills. That was better, we’d been on the floor. After that, Michael or his feminine persona took to the stage in a full length glittering golden gown. The floor show had begun.

It was a great show. Against my better judgement I laughed out loud at his antics and the costumes were amazing, starting with a fantastic Frank N Furter. Between each of his sets were a couple of dances. No waltz or tango and the quickstep was too quick for me. Lots of line dances (yuk!) and jive. We even managed a couple of salsa dances to what was really rock ’n’ roll music. The finale was his on-stage change from Dorothy (Wizard of Oz) to Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B. This was followed by a high energy routine with an unrecognisable Ann Marie to that Glen Millar tune. Overall a great night. I needn’t have worried, but if it hadn’t been for Scamp’s pal inviting us to her table, it might have gone very differently. Would we go again? Yes, probably, but maybe not for a while. Drove home through more wind and rain, happy to rely on the sat nav to find the right road.

Tomorrow is Gems day so I may go to the gym.

Dug wi’ a burst ba’ – 30 September 2018

Hazy wanted to Skype today. Skype said No!

Scamp got a message today from Hazy asking if we were free to Skype. It seemed a good way to test out Scamp’s new ‘puter’s communication setup. However …

We tried for about half an hour to get Skype to connect, well, that’s not entirely correct. We could see and hear Hazy, but nothing we did would allow her to see or hear us. We tried everything and eventually gave up on the shiny new HP and conducted the conversation on the iMac. After our virtual meeting was over, it was back to troubleshooting the PC version. I checked that the microphone was working in Wonderful Windows 10 and it was. I checked that the webcam was working in Wonderful Windows 10 and it was, however when we tried to combine these two successes in Skype it failed. Now who owns Skype? That’s right, Mickysoft. That probably explains why it didn’t work. Scamp told me not to waste the afternoon on it, but this was rapidly becoming a “dug wi’ a burst ba’ “ situation. I wasn’t going to let it go.

Eventually I had to give up. Uninstalled the troublesome Skype then re-installed it. When we got it working, but because Skype is a Mickysoft product, it registered it to Scamp’s login name, not the Skype name she’s had for the last fifty million years. Not only that, it had lost all her contacts. Uninstall and reinstall again and the same thing happened. Only once she’d logged out and logged in again could she change her Skype name. Why does Mickysoft screw up everything it gets its claws into? Finally we could communicate across the living room with a degree of feedback through Skype. I think we’re good to go now Hazy!

Most of the afternoon had gone, but there was some good light left, so I went for a walk around St Mo’s and spotted Mr Grey up a tree. He must have felt safe and secure there because he didn’t fly off even when I walked right to the shore of the pond and stole his soul for PoD. I was glad that I’d got him, because there was little else to photograph today.

Made some bread which we’ll need to have tomorrow because it was too late to have with our dinner. Also, the tomatoes that were roasting for the tomato soup are still in the tray in the oven because Mickysoft couldn’t leave Skype alone (and neither could I). That too will have to wait until tomorrow. However my lamb shoulder shank was very nice if a little fatty. The other one will do for tomorrow’s dinner. Scamp’s stuffed Portobello Mushroom looked dismal, but she declared it delightful.

Swallow Watch:  Almost forgot to mention, this week I did see some swallows flying very high and this is week 40.

Tomorrow? Well, it’s a free day. No Gems. What shall we do with it, I wonder?

“When you’re retired … – 29 September 2018

… you don’t have weekends.” So my dad said, and it’s true.

Sat on the couch discussing our options for the day. We could go to Glasgow, but we were there yesterday. We could go to Stirling, but there’s nothing much there that we want to do. Then Scamp suggested we go for lunch to The Smiddy near Doune. There, that’s it settled.

We went to Smiddy for lunch. I had veg chilli. I’d forgotten just how good it was, especially with lots of chopped jalapeño peppers on top and sour cream to cool down with. Scamp had her usual mac and cheese with chips. Just good wholesome food. I forgave the Smiddy for their poor offering the last time we were there. I had a look at their butchery counter, but didn’t find anything that tempted me. Although the Picanha steak looked interesting, it was not interesting enough to encourage me to part with the money for it. Maybe next time. That’s another thing I like about the Smiddy. They do have unusual cuts of meat.

While we were there I took some photos of the flat carse countryside. The light around the restaurant is beautiful and shows of the scenery so well. Usually I’d say that the scenery is beautiful, but it’s really the light here that’s so good. It is all about the light you know! Today’s PoD came from there. It is in fact two photos merged. The tree and the lane are one shot and the background hills are from another. The photos were merged in ON1 and saved just before it crashed. ON1 is a piece of software I want to like, but it’s still very rough around the edges and quite prone to crashing. Definitely going to keep using Lightroom for the moment.

We came home via Waitrose and got tomorrow’s dinner there, and a host of other things as well. It’s almost as bad as buying Tesco!

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. It depends on the weather.

Walking with the Romans – 27 September 2018

Watched the light disappearing this morning until it felt light twilight was approaching.

It didn’t look as if I was going to get any photograph worth its name today as clouds crowded in and the sunlight disappeared. Even worse, the software I bought earlier in the year wouldn’t start, telling me that my trial period had finished and asking me to log in. Went online and their website seemed to be ok, in fact I’d been on that same website two days ago watching the webinar presentation of their sparkling new 2019 version of the software. It didn’t impress me much. Lots of pretty colours and stuff, but nothing substantial. In fact when I’d asked a question on the webinar about the possibility of a history panel making an appearance in the new version, the answer came back that it would perhaps be included in an update later in 2019. So, in other words, no chance. You see, a history panel isn’t whizzo. It isn’t colourful, it’s practical. Lightroom has had it since version 1. With 61 votes it is the fifth most requested feature by users on the ON 1 website but has never been implemented while a keyword listing feature with one vote has been implemented in the new release. So much for being the company that listens to the users. They certainly weren’t listening to the users who were complaining bitterly about not being able to use the software this morning. It was only when America came on-line that the problem was solved, without a word of apology from the company that listens to the users.

After lunch, when I’d cooled down, I did go out and drove to the old road to Banknock. Its been closed for many years now. Initially it was because a railway bridge needed to be strengthened, but then it was discovered that the road was subsiding. Rather than fix it, the council made the decision to close the road. That’s the way it works (or doesn’t) in NLC. The worst council in Scotland.
I parked and walked up on to the Antonine Wall the northern Roman wall across Scotland. It wasn’t really much of a wall. Not like the one Hadrian built to keep out the Picts. That was a real wall built from stone. The Antonine wall by comparison was a turf and wood wall on a stone foundation with a deep ditch on the northern side to help repel the wild folk from Banknock and district. Now it’s covered with trees, mainly oaks that have suffered in the recent gales. Others have apparently been ‘made safe’ according to the notice that tells the unwary that the path is closed. Not very closed, because the five bar gate is easy to climb. It was on the top of the wall that I got today’s PoD. To tie up this and the previous paragraph, I used the working ON1 2018 software to process the PoD, although I did finish it off in Lightroom. Some of the fanatics supporters of ON 1, mostly americans were salivating at the prospect of what the new software could do, while aware that they couldn’t run their present 2018 version. Most said they had ditched Lightroom in preference to the ON 1 2018. I though “Babies and Bathwater”. Repent at leisure.

That’s the ranting over for today, I think. Dinner tonight was a second attempt at Vegan Spaghetti Bolognese. It worked, but maybe not as well as the last time.

Tomorrow? No real plans. Shopping for baby stuff for a newborn, perhaps.