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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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I’m almost ready to ‘Jacket In’ – 4 April 2017

Went in to Glasgow this morning to look at more jackets.

I now know about ‘active shell’ jackets, ‘3 in 1s’. I can discuss the merits of DryVent™, HyVent® and GORE-TEX®. I know the difference between waterproofs and showerproofs and all the benefits of breathables. I’m at a bit of a loss to understand what a ‘grown on hood’ is! Do you have to sow hood seeds that will germinate when it rains? Or do you simply transplant one from another jacket? What I still haven’t found is a jacket that’s waterproof, breathable and under my price range WITH LOTS OF POCKETS! How difficult can it be? As you will have guessed, I didn’t get one.

Went to Millers Art shop to get Granulation Medium and tried it out when we got home. Strangely, using it with Ultramarine, which is quite a granular colour, it seemed to make no difference at all. Using it with a gentle orange, created a marked granular effect. Others colours were between these extremes. I think it will need a bit more experimentation. Also got a replacement Micron 0.3 pen, because I’ve burned out the last one!

Went to J&M in Hamilton for dinner tonight and drove through the M74 roadworks. Not too horrendous. However, the return after dark was a different story. Supposedly a 50mph speed limit, but we were never going to reach that. 35mph for the extent was a more realistic figure. I pity the poor commuters who have to pass through this every day.

Today’s pic is of Scamp’s pansy seedlings.  Almost ready to thin out.  Sweet peas are already outside being hardened off.

Another early rise is forecast tomorrow.

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So, that was March – 31 March 2017

Fred requested a coffee meeting today.  Scamp and I had already planned to go out for lunch, but she convinced me to go and meet Fred instead, too readily for my liking.  She then declared that she was going shopping for some clothes and that was why she was foregoing lunch, we could always do lunch tomorrow.

While she was out I layered on some washes on a sketch I’d done last night.  It looked reasonable and I managed, what for me was a decent graduated sky.  It seemed no time until she was back and it was time for me to go meet Fred.

His real reason for meeting was because I had offered him a loan of a book on perspective, his new pet project.  Not easy perspective either, but the awkward Curvilinear Perspective as loved by M. C. Escher, although my own efforts are much more grounded in mundane reality than his were.  We sat and talked a while although he seemed a lot more politically motivated than usual.  He did however give me a quick tutorial on drawing noses. He’s really good at sketching faces, especially good at quick sketches and getting a decent likeness too.  I’ve just finished putting his ideas into practice and they seem to work.

After putting the Tories and Labour firmly in their place and decrying the traitors among the Greens we went our separate ways.  Him to Tesco for shopping, me to Lidl for shopping (and beer).  On the way back, I stopped at The Boathouse at Auchinstarry to go for a walk along the south bank of the canal out in the direction of Falkirk.  The path didn’t go anywhere near Falkirk, but turned off after a hundred yards and headed up towards Croy to an area called Nethercroy, through some old tall trees swaying in a strong wind.  I followed the path until I came to a gate where the notice warned that cattle would be grazing on the hill from the beginning of April.  I didn’t fancy meeting early arrivals and anyway, I wasn’t really dressed for hillwalking, so I turned round and went in search of interesting photos.

I’d already taken some pics as information for preparatory sketches with the aim of developing a larger piece.  It might work, it might not.  Saw some moss growing on some old stonework and got a few shots of that and caught some nice light with the 20mm lens on the M5 too.

When I looked at the photos back home in Lightroom, the moss shots were all disappointing.  Very unsharp and blurry.  The common factor in them all was an aperture of f7.1 which is pretty wide at the long end <Ignore this, everyone, it’s for my own benefit, so I don’t do it again!> I usually set f9 minimum for the 45-200 lens and that would have sharpened up the images so much better than f7.  Moral of the story, check your settings BEFORE taking the shot.  The M5 shots were fine.  Prime 20mm lens at f10 can’t fail!

Came home and found that Scamp had been very busy preparing an Un-Birthday dinner.  Portobello mushrooms with spinach and cheese topped with Parma ham, roasted under the grill.  Gammon steak with potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and roast parsnips.  Same for Scamp, but without the gammon steak (obviously).  Pineapple snow with chilli sauce for pudding!  Absolutely perfect.  Now I know why she was so happy for me to go and meet Fred.

Tomorrow we may go and have the lunch we missed today.

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A day out with the boys – 29 March 2017

Today five auld guys had their first meeting of the year.  In fact, it might be the first meeting since August last year!  How we drift apart.  After a couple of beers in the Horseshoe Bar in Drury Street, we moved across to Paesano in Miller Street for a pizza.  Five pizzas later ( five total, that is!) three of us headed back to the bar for another beer before we split up and went our separate ways.  Thankfully, Scamp came to pick me up from the train station because it had started to rain.  It was good to get back in touch with everyone and we must do it again, but not leave it almost half a year next time.

Earlier, in fact quite early, I went for a walk in the woods at St Mo’s and found that a group of little ‘Hobbit Houses’ had arrived.  I’m guessing that this is the work of one of the local secondary schools.  Behind each door was the picture of an animal.  A lovely idea.  I think I got photos of all the little doors.  After that Scamp ran me to the train station where I met Fred.  We went for a walk through the ’Toon’ before we headed to the pub to meet the others.  The walk involved a quick trip to Cass Art of course.  Bought myself a mapping pen and some nibs.  Old school drawing, but I like the effect you get with indian ink and it wrecks fountain pens, but doesn’t damage the old fashioned dipper pens.  I was looking for a bottle of granulation medium, but that’s too unusual for them to carry, so it looks like I’ll need to go to Millers later in the week.  How I miss the Art Store now.

No sign of the weather improving tomorrow, or Friday.

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Sun Day Three – 27 March 2017

Today the sun shone from a big blue sky for the third day in a row, confirming that this is indeed summer.

Scamp had invited an old friend to the Monday Gems practise and I was nominated driver. It was a great run through to Denny. Not the most scenic area, but everywhere is scenic when the sun shines!  After I’d delivered Netta, I went for a drive down to Auchinstarry, not for a walk this time, but for a chance to sketch because I only had an hour to spare. Not the best place for a subject. The buildings were new-builds designed to look old and not really managing it. The longboats don’t interest me all that much, but are a lot better than the faux canal buildings. I finally settled on the boats after a half hearted attempt at the building. It’ll do. It’s late, but it’s completed.

Got back in time to run Netta home. Then it time to make the dinner and drive to salsa. Salsa was a bit boring, going over some old moves, but I did get a chance to help out at the intermediate class before our own.

Weather to be cloudy tomorrow which won’t bother us too much as the car is going in to have its front brakes and trackrod replaced.  More money, but at least it did get through its MOT a few weeks ago, so shouldn’t complain.