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Beer – 12 June 2018

Today me and the Auld Guys were having lunch, a liquid lunch.

It started with breakfast and a couple of paracetamol (other pain killing, anti-inflammatory medicines are available). When I got up proper, an hour later, my knee was sore. Went for a walk around the house and then phoned the physio, only to find out that today was his day off. Left a message and went back to resting my knee again while Scamp was off getting her hair cut. She’d left me with the firm instructions to wait for her return and she’d give me a lift to the train station for the more relaxed run in to Glasgow. Not driving today because this was the first UBI club meeting in over a year and ‘drink would be taken.’ We all know what that means. If you get the sniff of a pint of lager, that’s enough to put you over the limit, I mean if you even see a bottle of beer, that’s you risking points on your license. Today we were going to do more than look or smell, we were going to drink the stuff.

Got in to the HorseShoe Bar in Drury Street about half an hour late and had missed the first round, but I swiftly caught up. It’s a skill well learned. A couple of rounds later we had caught up on all the gossip and were ready for lunch. For lunch we were going upstairs to the ‘restaurant’ where we’d have the three course meal for a fiver. It’s not haute cuisine, it’s just hot cuisine. Good filling stodge. Two fiery chicken strips as a starter, followed by ham, egg and chips (wafer thin ham, one egg and about fifteen chips).  Everyone else had the almost obligatory fish ‘n’ chips. Dessert had to be Apple Betty and ice cream. I don’t know who Betty is, or was, but she makes a great apple sponge. After that, we dispersed. Colin was first to go, then Ray, and that left the Fantastic Four; Jack, Val, Fred and me. In a break with tradition, we went for a coffee rather than more alcohol to finish the day and ambled up West Nile Street to Laboratorio Espresso where we had a coffee, and I got the return call from the physio.

I’ve had work done on my shoulder by this guy and Scamp has had her ankle repaired. I trust him He doesn’t tell you to have a full consultation if it’s not necessary. For the second time in a year he talked me through what I should be doing about my knee and what I shouldn’t be doing too (dancing). It seems that my three professionals; JIC, the nurse and the physio are in agreement. REST, ICE, ELEVATION. Much like the acronym RICE, just missing out the C for COMPRESSION because there is no swelling. I thanked him for phoning on his day off and for his advice then went back and enjoyed my coffee that bit more. Good strong coffee it was too.

After that it was time to shake hands and head for home. Jack and Val were getting the bus, Fred and I were getting the train. Scamp picked me up at the station but Fred managed to catch the bus that drops him almost at his door. We’d all agreed to meet up again soon, hopefully sooner than a year from now DV.

PoD today was taken in the garden. It’s the first of the Boogie peas to sprout and it looks as if it’s ready to grab hold of something to haul itself up.

No Jive for me tomorrow. Too may experts telling me the same story. It looks like a wild day with high winds and rain, but maybe not until evening.  May go to the Forge and change my shoes, providing I can find somebody who “Does the Web”!

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Getting in a scrape – 2 June 2018

Today was to be wet with thunderstorms. Well, they got that right.

John and Marion were coming to dinner today, so that mean we’d be busy. Not too busy to have to stay in all day. We went out early for a run in to Glasgow. Wandered round JL, went for a coffee in Nero perused CassArt for some A2 sketching paper, but decided I’d rather pay a reasonable price in The Works instead. After that we came home. I dropped Scamp off at the house and went up the ‘Toonie’ for some extra ‘messages’.

When I got back to the car, I got a shock. Big white scrape along the front wing and black scrape below it. Paint scraped off the corner of the wing too. Drove straight to Halfords and got some touch-up paint to add to the chicken and peanuts I’d got in Tesco. Luckily, the white scrape was off the offender’s car/van and not mine. Most of it washed off and the black scrape came off too with a bit of Brasso (cheaper than T Cut and does exactly the same job). Paint isn’t quite the right colour, but it’s only a couple of chips that as Maisie would have said “A blind man, running for his life wouldn’t notice.” Still angry though. Even worse, the dash cam hadn’t been set on parking mode. It is now. However, I bet Mr White noticed the dash cam and is shitting himself wondering when the irate driver or the polis’ are going to come knocking on his door. I also bet he’ll be checking his car for ‘ten pence coach lines’ when he next parks in Tesco.

John and Marion arrived just after the predicted thunder storm having driven through the heavy rain that was also forecast. It was a late end to a frustrating day for quite a few reasons. Tomorrow will be better.

Hoping to go to Gardening Scotland tomorrow.

<NOTE: Blog written up on 3rd June>

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May leaves us – 31 May 2018

The last day of May and it left us in sunshine.

Up early for the blood-letter to do her worst, then back for breakfast before Scamp left to see the new ‘wean’. With some time to myself I set the A2 drawing pad on the easel and drew the ‘man in the mirror’ again. This time I was more pleased with the result. I got the nose right and the proportions which is what the Andrew Loomis method is supposed to help with, but I adapted rather than adopted the method to make it work for me. I suppose that’s what the tutor was talking about really when she said last night that it’s a generic method that produces a generic head. The trick is to know how to move away from that to the realistic head.

Went off to meet the Auld Guys with a lighter step, knowing that I’d got a foothold on this portrait thing, only to find that the coffee machine in the coffee shop wasn’t working. If the coffee machine stops working, does that just make it a shop then? Maybe, but it wasn’t selling anything I wanted to buy, so I met val and we went to the other Costa at the opposite end of the mall. It was not as mobbed as I thought it would be and we grabbed three seats and I phoned Fred to tell him about the change of venue.  The usual topics for discussion:

  • How we got in this mess (politics)
  • Life was so much simpler and more fun in the ’70s (nostalgia)
  • The cost of living (economics)

I also got some tips on what to see in Rome, Marseilles, Barcelona and Naples.  Not visiting some of these places, but I now know what to see and where.  Finally had to break up after a couple of coffees because of the overbearing rules on parking by Tesco.  That should really have been added to the agenda.

Came home and had just enough  time to grab a camera and get some photos of St Mo’s wildlife before dinner.  It was really muggy with a heavy feel to the air, but the sun was still shining.  Got some photos of a little deer with its nice colourful summer coat.  Loads of dragonflies, but also loads of biting beasties about, so I was quite pleased to come home to make dinner.  Dinner was mushroom burgers with potatoes and broccoli.  The potatoes and broccoli were good!

Tomorrow we are due thunder storms almost all day.  I think we’re going for the messages.

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May The Fourth Be With You – 4 May 2018

In the morning, just to make sure I wasn’t wasting my time I installed ON1 on the new Linx laptop. I also did a bit of gardening, planting peas in pots in the greenhouse. I checked the kale and it’s looking good too. Hopefully it will need thinned out in a week or so. A few straggling rocket shoots showing. Can’t exactly say they are rocketing up though.

Went up to the Costa in the already dilapidated Antonine Centre and spent a couple of hours with Fred and Val. As usual it was left to us to make some sense of the present crises in the world. We solved all the problems, the only difficulty now is getting the ’dunderheids’ in both the Labour and Tory parties to agree to our solutions. We can dismiss the Lib Dems as they are just a catch-all for all the politicos who have no interest in actual politics. We broke up the meeting with the promise to meet up again in another week or so.

Before I went out, Scamp had offered me the opportunity to make dinner tonight, which was kind of her. She went further and asked that dinner should be Paella. With that in mind, I visited Tesco to buy the makings for the paella and then headed for home. Put my DIY skills to good use screwing another boot hanger to the wall in the boiler cupboard. Hung up one set of boots and got another pair down, put them on and took the Olys and the new lens out to St Mo’s to see what wanted photographing. Nothing and nobody was playing today, so I took some photos of wild flowers instead. When I looked at them later, they were less than excellent. I’d fallen into the trap that even if you’ve got a ‘good camera’ and a ‘good lens’, it’s still the photographer who takes the picture. One day I may learn.

Made a reasonable attempt at paella and after that, installed ON1 on the MBP. I’m just after testing it and it works well.

Took PoD after dinner. It took a while for me to find a good font for the Star Wars banner, but after that was done the rest was easy. I used the well tested combination of Lightroom and Photoshop. Photoshop to blend two photos together and Lightroom to perform the levels adjustment and crops. Quite pleased with it because it had been in my head all day and now it was open to the world in Flickr.

Maybe going to Embra tomorrow where the weather might be better than the overcast grey we’ve had all day today.

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Burnt Water – 17 April 2018

Coffee with Fred today. Lots of stuff to discuss.

This was a change of day for us. Usually we’re there on Thursday or occasionally Friday. This week it was Tuesday. We’d books to exchange and TV programs to criticise and building control department to castigate for messing up Fred’s daughter’s extension. Basically we just complained about stuff for a couple of hours, then agreed that we’d had a good natter.

Came out of that dive with the sour taste of the last cup of something described as ‘coffee’, but was really burnt water, or so it felt to me. Went to get some gardening and painting stuff:

  • Seed potatoes. Charlotte, one of Scamp’s favourite varieties.
  • Twine to make a climbing frame for Scamp’s broad beans.
  • Tester paint pots to use as cheap gesso for painting boards

Came home to a slightly rearranged garden again and had it explained to me. I’m sure I’ll forget the finer details, but I have the basic idea of what was achieved while I was out drinking burnt water.

Since Scamp was making dinner I had some time to go and get a photo or two in St Mo’s. Like yesterday, today was a mixture of sunshine and showers. What we used to expect in April a few years ago before the jet stream started messing around with our weather. With that thought in my mind I grabbed my jacket and camera bag and went to see what I could see. What I saw was somebody sitting on a seat looking out over the BMX track and thought it would make a decent shot, especially if I reduced it to mono and darkened the sky, cropped it and … So I took a few shots from different positions and exposure setting. Walked round the pond after that, but saw nothing else interesting.

After dinner (Chicken with a mushroom and shallot sauce since you’re asking), I started to process the pics. About two hours later, after a fair bit of swearing, I finally exported the finished result into Flickr. Takes about two or three minutes to take the shots and two hours to make the picture. The new software I’m using on trial is ON1 2018 and it is very flash, a bit heavy on special effects and unable to export without crashing (twice). I may not shell out the $69 for the pleasure of beta testing their dodgy software for them.

We did manage a bit of dance practise tonight again. Just the waltz, but I’m happier with it after yesterday and today. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.

Tomorrow is dancing day!

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Coffee and Sourdough – 29 March 2018

Not together. No, that would not be a good idea.

Today was meant to be coffee for four, but it became coffee for three. Fred, Colin and Me. Val being laid up in bed with shingles. Poor man. The replacement of Val with Colin changed the dynamic of the group completely, and also the proportions of the coffee. Instead of two Cortados and one Americano it was one Cortado and two Americanos. Topics discussed were school awards for LGBT, FPs (Former Pupils), FCs (Former Colleagues), gardening and sketching. It was interesting to have a different perspective on things, not better or worse, just different. Maybe refreshing would be a better word.

After an hour or so we split up and went our separate ways. Me to go shopping, Fred to pick up Margo and Colin to go back to his garden. I went looking for plant labels for Scamp. That’s what she asked for and that’s what she got today. After a very late lunch I managed half an hour or so in St Mo’s looking for something interesting. That’s where today’s PoD came from. Just a rotting fencepost, but lots of lovely textures in it. I was surprised to see that the number of the ladybirds I’ve been checking had decreased. Maybe the little bit of sun we’ve had has encouraged them out to look for food. It’s good to see as it might be another sign of spring, although it looks like there’s more snow in week ahead.

Back home, I fed the hungry sourdough starter. I’ve been buying sourdough bread from Tesco ever since I read that book by the same name that Hazy recommended. It’s lovely bread. Very open textured and quite rough. Best eaten as toast I find. The secret to sourdough bread is the starter.  Basically it’s the natural yeast in wholemeal flour that’s been actively encouraged to grow and multiply in a warm, damp environment.  Apparently, and a chemist would know better, the ‘sour’ part comes from the lactic acid which is a byproduct of the action of the yeast on the starches in the flour.  On Sunday I finally began making a ‘starter’. It’s not difficult, just a bit long winded.

  • 200g Stoneground bread flour
  • 200ml Water (30ºc)
  1. Put it into a large (1litre) container and beat some air into it.
  2. Cover with a breathable covering.
  3. Leave for 48 hours.

For the next 10 days repeat the following daily:

  1. Chuck away half.
  2. Add 100g Stoneground bread flour and 100ml water.
  3. Beat some air into the mixture.

So far I’m on day 4 and the mixture is looking interesting (lots of bubbles) and smelling interesting (smells a bit like milk). Hopefully that means the natural yeasts in the flour have started working and multiplying.  And No, Hazy, I haven’t played it any music.  Maybe I’ll try some Tom Waits on it, but probably Salsa would be better!  I’ll keep you posted.

No firm plans for tomorrow. Maybe go to Dunfermline.

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To Darkest Larky – 16 March 2018

Tonight we were going to Darkest Larky to take June and Ian to meet Crawford & Nancy.

It was a dull, dismal, cold day. We decided to go out for lunch, a light lunch as we would be well fed tonight. We finally settled on The Smiddy out near Doune. Got a table easily enough and Scamp ordered Tomato soup. I fancied the Parmesan, Pancetta and Olive Quiche. Unfortunately, after taking the order, the waitress returned to say that the last piece of that quiche had just gone. Would I like the Highland Blue, Spinach and Tomato Quiche? I felt like saying “No, I’d like the Parmesan …”, but I foolishly agreed to the replacement. When it came it was a disappointingly mass-produced looking version that sat on the plate amid the mixed lettuce leaves and the sun dried tomatoes. The sun dried tomatoes were good. The rest was just as disappointing as it looked. I think The Smiddy is becoming the victim of their success. Scamp said her soup had a slightly ‘meaty’ taste to it, almost like there was marmite or something in it. We may give The Smiddy a rest for a while.

June and Ian arrived at night and we headed of for Larky. Crawford and Nancy proudly showed off their new kitchen and sun-room. It really, and I mean really made us both green with envy. Such a lovely space, and so spacious too. I know Crawford put a lot of work into it and it showed. June and Ian were so wrapped up in each other, I don’t think they took much notice.

Food and drink was just as good as it usually is except for the driver who had to make do with a Coke, thankfully a Full-Fat one. Conversation and jokes rattled about among us and it was good to see that Ian gave as good as he got. The only thing missing was a big black labrador that used to come and plonk itself down at June’s feet. Unfortunately it had gone the way of all flesh. It was a docile big soul.

Never really noticed the time until Scamp said we should be going. It was 11.45.

By the time we’d dropped everyone off it was 12.30am when we found a parking space right outside the door and came home. That’s why this blog was written on Saturday.

PoD was a grab shot of croci in the garden.

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Coffee – 15 March 2018

Today revolved around Coffee for both of us.

Scamp was out in the morning and that gave me time to test out my theories about removing the mechanical HDD from the Mac Book Pro. They didn’t work. Neither did the MBP when I tried to power it up. Put everything back, screwed the base back on, checked that it still powered up then left it for a while. Chose to clean the shower cabinet instead. Much easier, if messier. No mylar connections, just a week and a bit’s worth of dust and gunk.

I was just finishing when Scamp came in from her coffee outing. Sat down with a ‘real’ coffee, a bridie and today’s Sudoku which took almost an hour to solve. A level 2 puzzle. Level 4 is almost impossible without some considerable help from the sudoku app on my phone.

After that it was time to meet the auld guys in a freezing town centre. Automatic doors were the problem. Actually it wasn’t the automatic doors that were the real problem. Manually operated doors and punters with one brain cell was the real problem. They open the door so it locks open and walk in forgetting that an icy blast just blows in behind them. At least the automatic doors close automatically … after about 15 minutes. It gave us something else to complain about apart from Council Tax, Income Tax and The Snow. Other topics were Lucky Bastards Swanning Off On Holiday (i.e. me). Lucky Bastards Swanning Off For A Boozy Weekend (Val) and Drawing Homework (Fred). I’ve no sympathy for that last one. He was the one who signed up for a Life Drawing course. Not my problem that the tutor was off ill and sent out a bit of homework to keep them going. Worst of all the above was the cold. They really need to do something about the heating in that great barn of a place.

Came home via Tesco to get milk and bread (staples again). Bumped into Colin who had forgotten about today’s coffee and got berated by his wife for it.

Dinner tonight was sea bream with mashed potatoes, broccoli and asparagus. Cooked to absolute perfection. Scamp made it, not me!

More research for the removal of the HDD tonight and I think there may be some swearing tomorrow when I try to implement the change. I also took the photo at the top of the page. Flooers, never a good sign. It was that kind of day, cold and damp.

Tomorrow, after the swearing, will be better we hope!

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Coffee – 15 February 2018

Most days seem to revolve around one topic, and so it was today I was booked for coffee with Val and Fred.

Although the coffee, or to be more precise, the chat that came with the coffee rather than the vile stuff Costa calls coffee, the chat was the king. CDs passed round, book returned to the library of Fred, replaced with a DVD to watch. Drawings and paintings by Fred and I were critiqued by everyone. Val’s computer problems were discussed by me and him, because Fred just grunts and shakes his head when technology rears its ugly head. Memories of old Glasgow were trotted out along with names that have not seen the light of day for years. Thompson’s for coffee and tea, Epicures the deli. Dino’s the best pizza shop in the town and the wee hole-in-the-wall newsagents across from Dino’s where Val remembered buying his Italian newspaper on a Saturday morning. It was strange all three of us walking down old Buchanan Street together in our imagination, although we were years away from meeting each other, back then in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. Sometimes talk and gossip lag for a while when it’s a coffee day. Today wasn’t like that. I think we all walked out feeling better than when we walked in. I know I did.

I’d grabbed a photo before I went in to the meeting. I just like the seedy decay of the broken down back of the Town Centre. With a wee bit of work there’s a world of colour and detail there just waiting to be found. Well, I like it anyway and that’s why it’s PoD.

Crofthouse - Braes, Skye

Today’s sketch was from a photo, but not one I took. It was one I searched out in Google Street View. I think it might be Braes, just south of Portree a dead end road that finishes in a turning circle where the sheep stare at you with derision as you 3, 5, 7 point turn, careful to avoid hitting them. They know you’re not a local. Locals would drive over them. Anyway, that’s today’s picture. Hopefully I’ll slap some paint on a bit of cardboard tomorrow for a wee change.

After a bit of discussion, we agreed not to go to salsa tonight. Five hours of dancing this week was enough we thought and if the weather fairies are to be believed, tomorrow is to be dry and clear so we’ll be driving to Larky to reunite me with my reading glasses and loosen £30 from my wallet for the pleasure, so no driving tonight then. Sounded good to me. Also it allowed us to have a wee glass of Rhubarb & Ginger Gin. Sounds even better to me. We’ll see how things go.

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A morning at the gee-gees – 2 February 2018

This morning broke early, too early say some, namely me.

The taxi phone didn’t ring until almost midnight last night. Apparently they were having such a good time … That meant that by the time I drove to the other side of town, picked up Scamp and Marge, dropped Marge off, returned home with Scamp and finally parked the car, it was almost 1am before I was staggering off to bed. So, when my Fitbit alarm vibrated on my wrist this morning at 8.30 it was a struggle to climb up through the layers of sleep to see the day. The up side was it was a beautiful day.

After breakfast, Scamp suggested we go to visit the Kelpies at Falkirk. That seemed like a great idea. It would get us out, give us a breath of fresh air and we wouldn’t visit any shops in the process. Besides which, the Kelpies always brighten your day no matter what mood you are in.

We arrived and walked round them, always finding something new. Some little thing or a different viewpoint. Today, my PoD was the dribbling Kelpie. Just a lamp standard on the motorway and a carefully chosen VP.

A cup of coffee and a scone each was lunch and then we drove home. Scamp was going out to meet ‘The Witches’ in the afternoon and I used that time to finish off my fourth painting of trees. Maybe the last one in the series, I’m all treed out now I think. Looking for new pastures. It was overpainted twice today and that’s on top of another two layers. One of the good things about corrugated cardboard is its strength. I put that strength to good use. If you’re looking for it, it’s here and it’s 28DL – No 2:

Four Trees

Dinner tonight was a pizza, home made and baked in the new combination microwave. Not ‘nuked’ but baked in the Convection oven. Just under 10 minutes then crisped up the base in the frying pan (no oil!). Washed down with a couple of glasses of Malbec. Hopefully getting this written earlier than normal to get to bed earlier and make up for lost sleep.

Tomorrow looks wet, so we may go to The Smiddy for lunch.