OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A busy day – 1 August 2017

We were having visitors from Hamilton today, so we had to stick to a tight schedule.

Scamp was up early to start the prep for the main course, then she found out that the chicken thighs weren’t as fresh as she had anticipated, so I volunteered to dive up to Tesco to replace them. With the Trinni Stew Chicken cooked to her satisfaction and the Pineapple Snow churned and freezing, we took some time out for lunch which we’d agreed would be at Torwood.

Lunch at Torwood was mini quiche in a filo basket, exactly what we’d decided to have as a starter, so in a way lunch was a final check to ensure that our recipe was correct. Scamp got a new, and much needed, pair of secateurs and a pot of parsley. I got a rhubarb plant. Wandered round the plants and made notes of things we may get later in the year for a bit of autumn colour.

When we got home, we got a text from Hazy to say they’d arrived in their holiday flat, despite a holdup at Heathrow. I started to do the prep for the starter. Such a lot of chopping for such a little thing. I was just taking the bag of coffee out of the freezer when I realised that we didn’t have a coffee pot, because I’d broken the old one a few months ago and we don’t use it except when we have guests. This time it was Scamp to the rescue, managing to get one in Tesco. Where would we be without Tesco?

Dinner menu was:

  • Starter Mini Quiche filled with cheese, chopped peppers and spring onion
  • Main Trinni Stew Chicken with rice and fried plantain
  • Puddings Pineapple Snow with Lime Chilli sauce or Summer Fruits Crumble

A good night, comparing holidays and telling tall tales.

Today’s PoD is a picture of my watercolour paintbox with its messy palette. A comment from an amateur artist like myself last year has become my maxim. “I might need that exact colour some day.” That’s why I rarely clean my palette.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coffee and Larky – 7 July 2017

After a lazy start, I went for coffee with Val and Fred. The usual subjects: Art, Politics and Life in the ‘70s. Just three auld guys.

After we split up to go our separate ways, I went looking for a PoD. Tried along the Luggie but nothing worth while sprang to mind. Drove round for a while and eventually gave up and designated the yellow flowers as the PoD.

Sketch of the Day was a quick (very quick) SP drawn blind, looking in the mirror. By the very nature of blind drawing, it has to be done quickly, it’s gestural and mainly line work with little or no shading. It’s a reasonable drawing and it’s done.

Out to Crawford and Nancy’s at Larkhall tonight and had a good time. Nancy cooked a ham and it was delicious. Must try that some time. Their grandson, Jack was there and I did feel a bit jealous when he called Crawford ‘Papa’. It’s not often I feel jealous of Crawford, especially now that I’m retired.

Addendum:
Although this is dated Friday 7th July, I must confess that I’m writing it on Sunday the 9th because I’m frantically trying to catch up on my blog posts and Flickr posts after a busy week. Hopefully, I’m up to date now.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Party Time – 2 July 2017

A late start today then the day was filled with some light gardening – pruning, repotting and just generally admiring our handiwork.

We were going to a 40th wedding anniversary party with dancing, salsa dancing that is, and I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. I never do look forward to parties as most people who know me will understand. For all the years I’ve been a teacher, I’m not a people person. Look at my photos and count how many have people in them. Look at my sketches and count how many have people as the main subject. Perhaps that’s why I took today’s photo. It’s a picture of a person – sort of, it’s just not a human person. It’s a wee lego stormtrooper. That makes it two steps away from a human and he’s holding a Tic Tac head. The title is “Alas poor Yorick”.

Anyway, today was Sunday, still is, and it was a Sunday Social day too. We had considered all the possible variations of travel and came up with the best solution being to take the car and drive to deepest, darkest Rutherglen after the social. Social was good and we both got a few dances.

I think we arrived too early at the party. Too early being 7.15ish. The cake had been cut and the toasts toasted. So it was that awkward time when nobody wants to move too far. Photos are still being taken and its too early for the family to leave. Luckily, Scamp found a baby to talk to and its mum to talk to too. Then other Salseros started to arrive and Shannon began to get things organised for the dancing to begin. We danced a silly rueda and then split up into couples and started dancing properly. Despite the fact that I wasn’t drinking, because I was the driver, I did enjoy myself a lot. We congratulated the happy couple and left just after 10pm.  I had actually enjoyed the night although at times I felt like a fish out of water.

It took us much longer than it should have to get home because the slip road to Stirling was closed. Why do the motorway contractors trumpet the announcement that the new motorway is now open when from 8pm to 8am they are still repairing and finalising the construction? Be honest for once and deliver the works once they are complete.

Home by 11pm. Should have take us 20 mins, not double that.

Tomorrow? Maybe a swim and a gym.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Two birds, one stone – 15 June 2017

Met Fred for coffee today and while waiting, manage to get a sketch done. Two birds, one stone.

When I came home, I went for a quick walk in St Mo’s, more to test the Oly 5 because yesterday some of the photos from it wouldn’t load into Lightroom. I suspected a dodgy SD card and that might have been the case, because today after formatting the card twice, it performed perfectly. Also, one of the shots became PoD.

That was about it really. While I was meeting Fred, Scamp went for a walk around Falkirk, risking driving through one of the torrential rain showers in the process.

The sketch from the morning is reasonable with awkward perspective and figures!!! I hate drawing people. I like straight lines or regular curves, like ellipses and circles. People don’t have straight line or elliptical shapes and very few circles, except perhaps in the irises of their eyes. That makes them difficult for me to draw. I’ve read the books and tried to draw people, but they either look deformed or like cartoon characters. Must practise more. Heavens, there are enough people about to be unsuspecting models!

Today we may go to Perth. It depends, as always, on the weather.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A Busy Day – 5 June 2017

Up and out fairly early to get my fasting blood taken and then a quick trip to Tesco to get some essentials for my breakfast.

With a plate of porridge and a piece ’n’ jam under my belt the world was a better place.

Next thing to do was to go and get Netta for Gems tea party.  A pleasant enough drive to Denny and back.

I now had an hour and a half to myself now and decided to fritter it away by going to the gym and stretching my leg muscles a bit.  I had hoped that I’d have time for a quick dip in the pool, but time was too tight for that.

Back just before 3pm and time to get a shower before returning Netta home.  Back home I started on today’s photo which you see above.  I’d tried it last week, but wasn’t happy with the result.  Today I had it better planned.  The wee man or to be more exact, Weeman was sitting on a stone in the birdbath.  His ‘fishing float’ was actually a dressmaking pin with the point cut off.  It was pushed into a piece of Bluetack which was sitting on the concrete floor of the birdbath with just the tip of the pin breaking the surface.  Fishing line was black button thread.  It worked and there was minimal ‘fiddling’ required in Potatoshop.  Then it was time for dinner.

Before starting to make dinner.  Just a quick check on Facebook to make sure that there had been no last minute changes to Salsa class, and there it was.  Jamie G was in Cheltenham, not in Glasgow and he would be there all week!  Bummer.  I was so looking forward to a bit of “exercise and getting things wrong again to music” tonight.  (Also known as advanced Salsa.)  Scamp started emailing contacts to find out who would be taking the class and the two of us began discussing what, if any, the options were.  We decide that if Will was taking the class, then we’d go.  If it was Colin then we wouldn’t.  If it was Cameron, then that was a definite NO.
Will is a good teacher with a lot of good innovative moves.
Colin used to be good, but is now trying to incorporate cha-cha into everything he teaches.  Such a waste.
Cameron has been dancing for about three years and thinks he knows it all.  He doesn’t, unfortunately he doesn’t know that.
Word came through that it was Cameron.  Why do we have to find these things out on Facebook and through word-of-mouth from other class members?  Surely someone in the Academia de Salsa organisation knew that one of the teachers wasn’t going to be there and could have posted a message to that effect on the AdS website.  Why is it all such a big secret?  My guess is that if the class members are told in advance, they won’t turn up for class because they have suffered at the hands of the incompetent teachers before.  If they don’t come to class, then they won’t be paying and that will hurt AdS.  Just my take on the situation, but really, things need to change.  You can’t keep treating people like rhubarb (keep them in the dark – feed them shite.)

With that news, we decided that we’d go for a walk instead to lift our spirits and get some exercise, even if it wasn’t to music.  We walked round Broadwood Loch and I got some shots of ducks and a lovely shot of a Great Crested Grebe with the Teazer.

Today’s sketch is basically a placemarker in that it was done to fulfill the requirements of the remit.  Better tomorrow.
Rain predicted for all day tomorrow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thunderbolts and Lightning – 27 May 2017

Very, very frightening.  For a while today at least.

Feeling a bit delicate this morning after spending an hour or so last night with sickness and diarrhoea.  I blamed it on the smoked mackerel I had for dinner.  I thought because the fish was cured, I would be too, but obviously that wasn’t the case.  Did a bit of planting in the garden and that took my mind off it.  Now the raised bed now has Peas, Beetroot, Kale, Lettuce and Spinach growing in it.  I also planted out the mint we got yesterday and tried taking root cuttings from a mint plant we had last year.  Scamp planted some Parsley and cut the front grass.  The reason for the sudden rush to get things done was that the weather forecasters were predicting heavy and continuous rain today.

As I said yesterday, we needed shopping and so we drove to Waitrose in Stirling and got most of the stuff there.  As we were coming out, the rain started.  We headed for Morrisons to get the remainder when we found a Lidl and stopped there for some beer.  On to Morrisons and home in torrential rain.  Got home and it dried up with blue sky too.

There was a BMX competition on at Broadwood Stadium and I went down there later to get some photos.  As luck would have it two things happened simultaneously.

  1. It started raining
  2. The crowds started coming out of the track, because it was a tea break or a beer break or something.  I don’t think they stop for rain.

I couldn’t be bothered waiting around and should have taken some photos of the proceedings, but just went for a walk instead.  It was strange to see all these 40 somethings all dressed up and on their wee BMX bikes.  Reliving their misspent youth perhaps?  The rain just got heavier and more persistent, as per forecast, so I grabbed some photos around the dam at Broadwood Loch.  Taken with the Oly10.

Walked back home soaked below the waist to my ankles.  Top half perfectly dry.  Feet perfectly dry.  Thank goodness for the person who invented Goretex!

According to Wunderground weather app, the thunderstorm would strike at 16:45.  At precisely 16:48 the first peal of thunder rang out.  Now that’s what I call a forecast!

Weather to improve a bit tomorrow.  Shame it wasn’t better today for Brian Gregg.  He got married today.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The May Is Oot – 19 May 2017

It’s been a bit of a flower centred week.  Since Tuesday there seems to be nothing but flower pictures imprinted on the CCDs of my cameras.

Today we welcome summer to Scotland with the Old Scots saying “Ne’er cast a cloot until May is oot.”  Which translates to english as “Don’t discard your winter clothes until the may (hawthorn) is in bloom.” Today’s PoD was of a cluster of hawthorn blossom frothing from a bush.  I had actually gone to this spot on the Antonine Way to try out the Teazer’s ability to produce a panorama in-camera which it did and also to check its in camera time-lapse ability which I failed to achieve.  Maybe I need to read the instruction book.  READ THE INSTRUCTIONS for what is basically a little point ’n’ shoot camera?  I think not!  Instruction books are for noobs.  Look, I paid good money for this camera and all its fancy modes, so it should deliver them without the need for an instruction book.  What is the camera world coming to?  It failed, in other words.  I didn’t fail, it failed.  Fin.

Made the strangest bread this morning because Scamp’s dad’s cousin was coming for dinner and she is a coeliac.  I’d never made a gluten free loaf before and when the instruction started with “beat two egg whites with two teaspoons of sugar, one teaspoon of vinegar, one teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of oil and 400ml of water”  I thought ’What is going on here?’.  However, I followed the instructions and the bread rose and was baked for the required 55min.  That’s twice the time a ‘normal’ loaf takes.  Even stranger, it looked like a cake rather than a loaf when all was done, BUT it tasted like a loaf.  Like a pan loaf and it had risen perfectly.  No soggy bottom and Isobel who has is an expert on gluten free loaves gave it her seal of approval.  She got the remainder of the loaf away with her.  I may try it again, even with its strange very white flour (that isn’t really flour) and beaten egg whites.

Scamp, June and Isobel were going to a concert in Glasgow afterwards and I was nominated driver.  When I came home I tried an install of Lightzone which is a very able Lightroom clone.  It’s free as in legally free and is cross-platform which means it works on the Mac and also on the Win 10 tablet because it has 32bit architecture.  It’s not as polished as Lightroom and doesn’t do the cataloging that is at the heart of the Adobe prog, but it’s a great piece of software.  Best of all, out of the box, it supports the Panasonic RAW files the Teazer produces.  Amazing what a little piece of free software can do.

Tomorrow?  More Teazer Testing, but I refuse to read the instructions.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

A bit of culture – 11 May 2017

Where else would we get Culture, but Embra.  Today we were going to the ballet.

We set off in the mid morning, not as early as we usually leave on a Saturday, and intended walking down to get the bus to Croy, but one of our neighbours was taking his ‘big car’ out for a drive and offered us a lift.  Thank you Bobby.  Caught the train to Embra, but not before we had to move along the platform as we appeared to be blocking the entrance to a honeybee’s nest in a drainage pipe in the wall. From Haymarket we did our usual walk up to get our morning coffee in Nero, then on up Lothian Road for a change and from there to the Grassmarket.  Saw a couple of interesting litter bins there, but you’ll have to go to Flickr to see that photo.

To begin our cultural visit, we went to the National Museum of Scotland.  It’s a long while since I’ve been there and there have been a great number of improvements.  When I was very wee, my dad took me to the museum when we were on our summer holidays at my Aunt Sarah’s.  I think he enjoyed the visit as much as me.  There were always loads of glass cases with models in them and there was always a well thumbed button on the case.  If you pressed the button marvellous things happened.  Tiny little lights came on in rooms in the dioramas, wheels turned, signals changed.  In other words, they came alive.  The last time I was there nothing worked.  Today, I was transported back to that wee boy, there with his dad, pressing buttons, because everything was working again.  Even better, lots of other wee boys and girls were running around the place pressing buttons, pulling levers and watching things working.  Brilliant fun.

The main event today was Ballet at the Festival Theatre and that was our next stopping point.  We were there in plenty time, which was just as well, as there were hundreds of stairs to climb up to the top floor where our seats awaited us.  Possibly the most uncomfortable seats it’s been my bum’s displeasure to sit on, but these are the sacrifices we must make for our art.  The ballet, The Red Shoes was fascinating.  How those blokes did the jump with a pirouette in mid air, I’ll never know.  The first half dragged on a bit too long for me (and my sore bum), but the second half flew past in a trice.  I’d go back again.  Best bit for me was when Scamp shouted “Oops!” just as the heroine was knocked down by a train!  Can’t take her anywhere.
Today’s PoD is of one of the Art Deco lights in the theatre.

Walked back down The Bridges and had a quick drink in a pub we passed, then down to the Grassmarket where Scamp and I agreed on an interesting looking Italian restaurant.  Had pizza bread to share as a starter, then Scamp had Mushroom Risotto and I had Spaghetti Arrabiata.  Her’s was garlicky and creamy, mine was hot and spicy.  We’ll be back.

Train back was very busy and then we got a taxi to the house.  A lovely day of culture.  Tomorrow?  Maybe Glasgow.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Coffee (and tea) – 26 April 2017

Lazed around this morning and watched another episode of Lucifer.  Not quite as funny as the first, but still amazed that americans can actually get this amount of satire, sarcasm and deadpan humour.  Series 1 is shaping up nicely.  I know it’s on to Series 3 now, but I’m a late convert to the show.

After that, it was up to Costa to meet up with Fred and Val.  After the normal exchange of music merchandise we proceeded to lay out in detail the Auld Guys Rules for Brexit, the proof that Maggie Thatcher has been reincarnated as Theresa May and why Jeremy Corbyn is a diddy.  Britain sorted over two cortados and a pot of tea.

Next on today’s agenda was booking the Scampmobile in for MOT, followed by a long chat with the garage owner who just wanted an excuse to get away from the paperwork, I realise that.  Also I don’t blame him, I used to do that too.

Before dinner, I had time for a walk over to St Mo’s to see what was doing.  The answer was very little.  Not a lot of decent light, but the ‘big dog’ did a good job with what was left.  The result you see above.

Went in to STUC early tonight, not to see Jeremy the Diddy, but to help out with Jamie Gal’s beginners salsa class.  Had a great time in both that class and the advanced class, succeeding in boosting today’s step count to almost 10,000.  This new Fitbit is much more comfortable and also much neater than the Goji Go.  Ok, it costs a lot more, but it was certainly worth it. You get what you pay for.

Tomorrow?  A bit of gentle painting in the morning and if I’m awake early enough, I may even go out and get some photos in the early morning light.