16 Oct

Flying Solo – 29 September 2017

Today it was my turn to go for coffee.

Before I went I did the underpainting on my Rannoch Moor painting. It’s beginning to look better now I’ve got the proportions sorted out.

Just after midday, I met up with Val and Fred in Costa. I drove there in the Juke. I was flying solo for the first time. No Scamp as radio operator and navigator. Just me and the Juke. And I was fine. So was it. I even got a chance to use the windscreen wipers during one of the heavy rain showers we had.  I also managed to get parked almost straight and in the box at Tesco, thanks to the reversing camera.

It was when I was walking into the Antonine Centre that I realised I hadn’t taken my old satnav from the Megane. I know I won’t need it again, but I couldn’t get it out of my head.

After coffee and a discussion of the state of the world, I drove Val home and he too remarked on the different view you got from the Juke’s elevated seating. After that I went to fill the tank for the first time. The garage had given me half a tank to get me started, but I wanted to fill it to the brim. Surprisingly it cost me just £30! Then when I got back in the car I realised that the petrol tank was much smaller than the Megane. It only holds about 45 litres which is worth about 300miles. That’s just enough to get us to Skye. The Megane took about 60 litres. Oh well, I’ll just have to be more frugal in my driving style, I suppose.

Came home and decided to go out to St Mo’s in the rain to get some photos. I was surprised to find the dandelions still setting seeds. I liked the detail rendered, and that’s why it got PoD. Out behind the forest I saw a trio of Garden Cross spiders on their webs. One male and two female apparently. Troilism in spiders! Who knew?

Then the salesman from the garage phoned to ask how I was finding the car. That was my chance to ask him if the satnav was still in the Megane. He went and had a look and said it was there. He even offered to drop it off on his way home. I said no, that we’d come and pick it up during the week. He must have thought I was mad. Here I am with an up-to-date large screen satnav in the car and I want my old Navman back? It’s the principle of the thing though. It put my mind at rest.

Dinner was a Chicken, Mushroom and Kale pie. Quite delicious and totally gone now.

Maybe off to Embra tomorrow. Not driving though, train is less stressful.

16 Oct

Rain and Salsa, nothing else – 24 September 2017

Rain reigned today.  It started off just dull, then the rain came and really outstayed its welcome.

Had  a Neil D lunch of last night’s Chicken Rogan Josh and it went quite nicely on toast!  Then made the mad decision to give in and allow Windows 10 to perform its upgrade to Win 10 Creators Update.  That was about 2:30pm.  It’s now about 11.45pm and it’s still doing it.  Ok, I admit I closed it down to go to the Sunday Social, but it’s been going hard at it for the last four hours and is still not finished.  I hope the Creators (or is that Creatures) are worth it.  There was a message to say that I could postpone it to allow me to back up the hard drive, but then it seemed to say “Fuck it” and started installing it anyway borking the backup.  That’s what I love about Microsoft, NOTHING.  Macs, even with the despicable El Capitan are so much more user friendly that anything Mickysoft produces.  Windows 7 was the last stable OS on a PC and then Windows 8 came along to be the ‘inbetween OS’  The one that never worked.  No Windows 9 for some reason, maybe the same reason there’s an iPhone 8 and an iPhone X, but no iPhone 9.  Windows 10 started out well, then the inevitable upgraded borked it too.  Hopefully the Creators Upgrade will sort everything out, but I doubt it.  I think I’ll just return it to factory settings after its done its worst.

On a brighter note, Salsa was really fun tonight.  Maybe that’s because we had tapas in the restaurant before the dancing started.  Scamp got to dance with the legendary ‘Jamie’.  Not ‘our Jamie’, nor Jamie Gal, but the strange and twisty turny ‘other Jamie’.  I think Scamp was quite taken aback when he asked her to dance.  She did look terrified when I saw her!!  I should explain that ‘other Jamie’ is an excellent dancer who we see at most of the socials.  We think he is a professional dancer.  A very smooth mover who likes to show off on the floor.  He often dances with guys too!  We did think he might be gay, but he appeared with his wife and wee boy.  I know that’s no proof of anything, but still …  He didn’t ask me to dance, of course.  There were lots of girls there tonight, most of them beginners or pre-beginners if that’s possible.  I danced with a couple of them, but it was more like giving a lesson than dancing.  Not that I minded.  Then I danced with another girl who could dance.  Unfortunately, I overstretched her knowledge with one move, Aficionado and tripped over her feet, landing on my bum amidst peals of laughter.  Shannon, the boss, had been videoing the proceedings earlier, but luckily she didn’t notice my acrobatics, so it’s just between you and me.  First time ever I’ve fallen on the dance floor!  Bummer.  Literally!

Today’s PoD came from the salsa venue, which was La Rambla in Paisley.  I saw it on the cistern in the restaurant toilet today. I just had to go back in and capture this chrome smile.  Glad nobody came in while I was taking the shot. That might have been a difficult one to explain away!

Just checked and as of 12:13am Windows 10, which was predicting 90minutes for the installation at 3pm, is at 92% complete and the helpful message reads:

This may take some time

This week’s sketch is just a doodle trying to sketch people for paintings and the theme is rain and umbrellas, as if you hadn’t guessed.  The weather fairies promise a drier day tomorrow and some sun on Tuesday.  Let’s wait and see.

Despite all the bad weather we’ve been having I still saw some swallows this week, so all is not lost.

16 Oct

A rather full day – 17 September 2017

When we woke this morning, someone was shouting at us from a loud hailer from the general direction of the football stadium. It appeared that the Cumbernauld 10K had started. We really should go and watch.

We walked down through the new housing estate and found that the all the races had started. The 1K were already home, the 3K were due at any minute and the 10K were halfway round the pond. All this had happened while we were having our breakfast and reading in bed. We watched the 3K folk finishing and by the time their stragglers were coming to the stadium, the first of the 10K were in sight. We watched a few of them enter the stadium, then walked back along the road clapping to encourage the runners as we went. I find now if I stand in one place for too long, I get a back pain. Gentle moving eases it. Running 10K wouldn’t help though!

We did see one accident while we were watching. One man, not a competitor took a tumble on the grass beside the footpath and fell heavily on his shoulder. He started screaming in pain and holding his shoulder. The First-Aider got him to cross his arms in front of his chest and hold opposite shoulders. Classic textbook broken collar bone injury. He was eventually carted off in a wheelchair into the VIP area. Possibly that’s where he wanted to go in the first place, but a rather extreme way of getting entrance.

We walked back home and were just making lunch when JIC and Sim arrived back with Chris and Yvonne. After catching up with C & Y they left to go home and we booked an early dinner at Milano’s, then headed off to Chatelherault near Hamilton to go for a walk through the trees. We walked over the Duke’s Bridge, but when we got there and found that almost all the trees had been felled leaving the valley down to the Avon Water looking very different from the last time Scamp and I had been there. More of the Hunting Lodge was open than last time so we wandered round some of the rooms and I got some photos before we headed home.

Dinner in Milano’s was good, but the pizzas were not as brilliant as they used to be. New chef, or maybe just a weekend stand in? Only time will tell. Halfway through the meal Sim discovered that their flight had been put back 2 hours! So, would we go back home or did they just want to go to the airport? They chose to go in the hope that the flight would get away quicker.

We drove home from the airport and watched an interesting and, for once, exciting F1 GP from Singapore. I won’t say who won in case you haven’t seen it yet.

A rather full day, but an enjoyable one.

I’ve been meaning to post a weekly note on my blog to try to track down the week the swallows arrive and leave. This week I saw some swallows and this is week 38.

16 Oct

Out West – 9 September 2017

Today after a lazy morning without any drawer rearranging, we drove down to Kilmarnock to see our friend Dorothy and her son, Colin.

Well, that was the intention, but we got as far as the Robroyston turn-off before CIRTRAC lit up with the happy news that there had been an accident after junction 16 of the M8. Just what we needed! Not to worry, it’s never usually as bad as they predict. A mile or so later, it was as bad as they predicted, in fact it was worse. The queue had backed up on to the M80 we were on. I took the next exit on to the M8 going in the opposite direction. From there we could go south on to the M74 and then take the exit to East Kilbride and from there onto the M77. Sounds complicated, but it was preferable to sitting in the carpark that is the M8 when there’s an accident somewhere ahead. As it happened we got to Dorothy’s place only about fifteen minutes late.

We spent about an hour with Dorothy, showed her some of our holiday pics, but she began to feel tired and we left her with her son looking after her. She looked a bit more tired than the last time we’d visited and we did have far too many holiday pics. We really need to make the effort to visit more often, but not stay as long.

It was still a lovely day, so we decided drive on down to Troon. Got parked without any bother at the harbour carpark and walked from there into town. The town was jumping. Hunners of people on the beach, but thankfully only dogs in swimming. If there were folk in swimming, they would probably have needed an ambulance in attendance. The sun was warm, but I’d imagine there were baby icebergs out there in the wet stuff. Wandered round the ‘town centre’ to give it the benefit of the doubt. Scamp wanted to go for lunch at The Lido. I’m not a big fan of it. You always have to wait ages for a table, even if you’ve phoned ahead to book one. Once you’re seated, you have to wait ages for the food. However, the food, when it arrives is worth the wait … almost. I suggested we give Scotts a go. It’s from the same stable as The Lido so hopefully the same quality of food, but without the wait. I was right on both counts. Food was great – Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp (what a surprise) and Roast Chicken for me, but roast chicken with Smoked Carrot Puree among the sides! Interesting taste. The most remarkable thing though was driving into the restaurant carpark. It brought me in mind of Crews Inn at Chagauramas in Trinidad. Without the palm trees obviously. Sitting looking out at the boats in the marina under a beautiful blue sky just emphasised that memory. I think we’ll be back … to Scotts that is. I’d love to think that one day we’d go back to Crews Inn at Chagauramas too with its lethal brandy based Sangria.

Today’s PoD was taken just outside Dundonald on  the hill up from Troon and is looking over Troon to Arran.  I just had to stop to grab a shot or two … or twenty eight!  It’s been through Lightroom a few times, but I like the finished result.  Click on it to see it bigger in Flickr as usual.

Tomorrow we leave the blue skies behind and return to the land of the rain. Oh well, at least we had one really good day this week.

16 Oct

Drawer No 2 – 8 September 2017

The task today was to clear up the second drawer of the four.

I thought this was going to be an easy job, but after an hour and another poly bag in the bin, I had a semblance of order in the second drawer. It has become my ‘paper drawer’. Watercolour paper, pastel paper, photo paper, even tracing paper. Now the top drawer looks a mess again by comparison.

Coffee with the guys today and perhaps, just perhaps, I’ve found the happy medium with Cumby Costa. Mocha Cortado to start and a double espresso after an hour or so. We talked a lot across a wide range of topics and finished discussing the start of construction of the new Cumbernauld Academy or Cumbernauld Atrocity as Fred will have it.

Because this was in my head when I drove away from Tesco, I just had to see what was happening to my old school. It appears that the concrete columns have been poured and there’s a bit of work on the concrete too. Basically it’s at the stage of being a quagmire with some concrete pillars poking out of it. One day it may come together, but for now, all I can say is that it’s in exactly the place that the architects intended it to be in.

Drove around looking for a subject for today’s PoD. It took me quite a while, but eventually I decided to have a look at the Falls of Luggie. That’s not its real name, but it’s a small waterfall on the Luggie Water, and Falls of Luggie makes it sound spectacular. A long shutter speed would have been good, but I didn’t bring a tripod. I’ve got two good tripods and I keep on telling myself to leave one in the car. I only need one at home. I made do with the slowish shutter. Slow enough to blur the water, but fast enough to hand hold. Couldn’t decide whether the 45mm or the 9mm worked better. The result is above.

Tomorrow we go to visit Dorothy and it’s supposed to be a better day, although today wasn’t all that bad.

16 Oct

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.

16 Oct

The Lost Scotsman and the Lost Americans – 24 August 2017

Most railway stations have a newsagent or a coffee takeaway nearby. Not Lenzie. Lenzie has a psychologists office. I think that says a lot about the town. On the other hand, maybe it says more about me, because I noticed! Anyway, just an observation. Take of it what you will.

As you will have gathered, I took the train in to Glasgow. I managed to get the only, yes, the ONLY parking space in the enormous Croy Station carpark. Granted it was about a half mile walk to the station, but I was parked, and in a space. Not on a flower garden, not up on the kerb or in a turning circle, but in a space. On a Thursday, that is no mean feat. Had a wander around Glasgow. I had thought about having my hair cut, but rejected that until the autumn sets in, in September. What I was looking for was a cheap box of water soluble oil paints. I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but they do exist and are very good. They have the feel of oil paints without the need for solvents. The smell of the linseed oil or the turps doesn’t bother me, but it does leave a lingering smell in the room that permeates to the whole house. I was also looking for a small watercolour block that I got in Tiger at the weekend and swapped for a roll of canvas when I met Fred yesterday. Like I wrote earlier, it wasn’t the best watercolour paper, but it was cheap and a neat size. Unfortunately the first shop I went to had none and the second only had the larger size which would have cockled (buckled) more when I put a wet wash on. On the way back I bumped into a group of young American guys (note the capital letter – If you don’t know what I mean, click here). They were lost and looking for Gordon Street. I couldn’t for the life of me remember where it was. I said sorry and walked on, then I realised that Gordon Street was the next street down. Walked back and told them. I also asked if they were going to the station. They said no, they were looking for a sports shop called Reeves. Reeves is a paint manufacturer, I was on my way to get some paint, so I just shrugged and said good luck. I was going the same direction as they were, so not wishing to crowd them, I slowed down. Almost at Gordon Street and the database in my head filtered out the answer to their problem. The sports shop was Greaves. One of the oldest sports shops in the UK if not the world. Tapped the leader on the shoulder and pointed at the illuminated sign behind him. His smile told me that’s where they were going. Isn’t it nice to do someone a good turn? The answer, which can be on a postcard if you wish, is YES!

Found the paints for a bargain price in Cass Art and got a canvas the exact size and proportions I wanted in Millers. Pity about the Tiger watercolour block, but I’ll keep looking for it. Headed home to find that they have eventually started the rebuild of Queen Street Station with hoardings all round the block and only a small entrance / exit to Dundas Street. Of course, because it was such a small entrance, some idiot english (same rules apply) family of about ten folk were blocking it. You don’t do that in Glasgow. People will just barge past, through and over you whichever takes their fancy. I did the ‘past’ option. Others took the ’through’. I didn’t see any ‘over’ supporters, but then it was Thursday. Now if it had been a Saturday just after full-time and Rangers had been robbed by a blind referee, there would have been carnage.

Today’s PoD was taken on Argyle Street and is entitled Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear.

Only had to wait about ten minutes for a train and that brings us neatly back to the start!

Met Duncan for a ‘wee chat’ and to hand over some books tonight. It was really good to hear his version of what day to day life is like in the school three years down the line. I really enjoyed the catch up and will probably take up his offer of a visit to see how the department works now. However, I have no intention of taking up his other offer of me doing ‘supply’. Oh no, I have a different life now and nothing will make me give it up.

Tomorrow June and Ian are coming for lunch.  Pannacotta is already made, cooling and hopefully setting.

16 Oct

Coffee with Fred – 23 August 2017

Scamp saw the snail crawling, upside down, along the sweet pea frame this morning, but by the time I got my shoes on and grabbed the camera, it had reached the corner and was trying without success to navigate the cross bracing I’d put in to keep the frame rectangular and more stable. I took a couple of shots, but knew they weren’t going to work. Always better to take the shot and reject it later than to not take it and later regret not having at least a record of the event – A Zog Maxim. Later, I checked and Mr Snail had given up the challenge of the cross bracing and was making his way back across the bamboo, still upside down. This time I had him. Got the photos of the poppy, the sweet peas and the star shaped seed pods of the allium at the same time. However, I knew the snail shot was the winner.

Gave Costa’s manky Americano the bum’s rush today and had a fairly tasty Mocha Cortado. A bit sweeter and less claggy than the standard Cortado. I was meeting Fred for a chat and a chance to show off my paintings – One finished and one in the finishing stages. We swapped stories and critiques on pictures plus I got a roll of canvas from him and he got a watercolour block from me.

Went shopping for a dash cam in Halfords and found there is quite a range from about £40 to over £140. I imagine if we get one it will be mid range. They look quite useful, but so many folk on the net have so many different opinions on what’s best. What features you should have and what features are just surplus to requirements. Of course, some folk are trying to make you buy a product they are sponsoring. Do they help if you are in an accident? I’m not sure. Yes, they probably do now, but in the future when everyone has one will it just muddy the water? The jury is still out.

Came home and finished off the painting of Kotor bay with the two little islands.  Quite like it.  Heavy on the impasto though it is.  Scamp made dinner and it was an old favourite, Carrot and Chickpea Curry, which isn’t all that curry like because it’s not very hot, but today’s offering was very, very tasty. Even better, there’s some left over for tomorrow’s dinner!

The reason I couldn’t get the snail shot this morning was because I had my ‘ballroom shoes’ on. I got them years ago when Scamp and I were taking ballroom lessons. I’ve hardly worn them because they’re not the most comfortable shoes and they look a bit posh. However, I reckoned they would be better than trainers for dancing on a dance floor, so I wore them about the house this morning to break them in again. I wore them tonight to the beginners class and they do make turning a lot easier. However, Jamie G decided to do Kuduro at the end of class and I had visions of me landing flat on my face or worse still doing the splits so I chose the easier path and changed back into my trainers, just in case.
There were a lot more people in the advanced class than last week. Word must have got out that Shannon was threatening to close the class down. We’ll have to see what happens next week. Hope it stays open. It’s a bit more relaxing than Monday’s advanced as we’ve done most of the moves and feel more comfortable with them.

Tomorrow is looking like another good day. I may go car hunting.

16 Oct

Gay for a Day – 19 August 2017

The sun enticed us out of bed and stayed with us until we left the house. After that it rained a bit, but it didn’t dampen our intent to go in to Glasgow on the bus. We were going to see the ‘maddies’ at Gay Pride.

We’d been to see the gay pride march last year, hoping to see one of Scamp’s old friends from work with her wife. Sorry, but I still find that a hard thing to say. Anyway, we didn’t see either of them and today was much the same. We started out with a coffee in Nero and then walked up Sauchiehall Street to Waterstones. On the way I went in to Tiger to get a pair of readers, because I had forgotten mine. In there, I picked up a watercolour block for the princely sum of £3! That’s about a quarter the price of the same sized article in Cass Art and they are the cheapest art shop in town. I’m not expecting much. It’s not going to be hand-made 100% rag paper, but for £3 you can’t expect miracles. Some people would say I always expect miracles! I was just going in to Waterstones when this bloke asked me how I was doing and if I was enjoying my retirement. I could almost see the Identikit pictures fluttering across my internal scanner as I tried to place him. Salsa? No, not salsa. High School? No, not high school, but there was a hook there. Teacher then? Yes. PT Tech from somewhere near. Kilsyth? Yes, that’s it. Isn’t the human brain wonderful. It’s been over three years since I’d last met Andy and I’ve had almost no connection to teaching since then, but the filters and sorts on my organic database worked their magic again. We talked for a while about people we knew and the state of Scottish education. I knew it was going downhill, you only have to watch the Scottish news to see that, but it’s much more pointed when you are getting the full story from someone at the chalkface. It was good speaking to him. I always got on well with him at PTs meetings. He was one of the quieter ones who had no need for arse licking. One of the few. We said our goodbyes and I wandered the bookshop trying to make sense of some of the things he had told me. For once I didn’t even add a book to my book list.

Met Scamp who had been raking through the bargain at M&S, then we walked down Buchanan Street to watch the march. We missed the start of it, but caught the most of the celebration. It never ceases to surprise me just how good natured this march is. Yes, it’s noisy and yes there are a lot of politicos there, but there is no bad feeling or even a harsh word. Everyone is just there to have a good time.  Even the rain showers didn’t dampen their enthusiasm. I got a few shots, quite a few, and when it was over we went to Cafe Andaluz for a tapas lunch washed down with a nice glass of red. After lunch we did a bit more shopping. Alliterative Sparkly Sandals for Scamp. For me, an inconclusive attempt to get a pair of jeans that I like at a price I was willing to pay. Possibly an impossible proposition.

To round off our day we dropped in to the Horse Shoe Bar for a little drink before we got the bus home. I don’t think Scamp was too comfortable on a shoogly bar stool. She’s not used to drinking at height.

Oh, today’s title doesn’t refer to us, at least I don’t think it does.  It was a discussion we had as we were walking back up Buchanan Street, wondering how many of those marching today with their rainbow colours and sequins were actually L or G or B or T or I.  We reckoned on about 50%.  The rest were just there for the fun of it or to support friends.  Why not?  That’s what life is all about.

Tomorrow? Maybe a walk in the morning. Tomorrow may be the first day of a new regime. A fitness regime. We’ll see how long it lasts.

16 Oct

Coffee for Two – 2 August 2017

It was my turn to make breakfast and while I was doing that, I unloaded last night’s dishes from the dishwasher and immediately refilled it with the remaining dishes, started it going again and returned to have breakfast in bed.

After breakfast we tidied up the remains of last night’s meal and I caught up with yesterday’s blog. Then it was off to meet Fred for coffee and a critique of each other’s artwork.

I’m beginning to really loathe Costa Coffee. Now Hazy gave me a brilliant tee shirt with the logo ‘Coffee Snob’. I may not really be a snob, but I do like my coffee tasting like coffee. Costa is becoming like Starbucks and selling Costa, not coffee. I’ve tried flat whites, americanos, cappuccinos and cortados. None of them taste anything like my own coffee from either my hard working Gaggia or my Aeropress. Cafe Nero make much better coffee in my opinion and are probably the best of the national coffee shops, but none of them are as good as the independents.

After ingesting the brown water, I drove through the rain to see what was happening at my former school. The reports of it becoming a building site proved correct. The rugby pitches are no more. It appears that the top soil has been bulldozed off and replaced with hardcore. I’m guessing that someone knows that what’s below that hardcore is peat and heavy duty piling will be in place before building construction starts.

Couldn’t really be bothered driving in to go to salsa tonight, but Scamp was keen to go. As usual, I really enjoyed the class. Came out feeling so much better than when I went in.

Not sure what I’m doing tomorrow. Scamp is meeting her sister for brown muck oops, coffee in Costa. I may go in to Glasgow.

Today’s PoD is a place marker. It is just a shot to complete today’s 365 requirement. Hopefully I’ll get something more creative tomorrow.