Just another dancing fool – 9 October 2019

Driving through the driving rain to dance our hearts out to Michael’s tune.

Just another Wednesday. Weather was almost as bad as yesterday with more high winds blowing more rain clouds our way. Managed to avoid most of the rain on our walk down to Blackfriars. Stood and watched some brave souls abseiling down the City Chambers to give the statues a but of a wash and brush up. Thought it was Extinction Rebellion protesters at first, then realised they were wearing hi-vis jackets with a company logo on them, so they were legit. Below them they seemed to be giving away “Boris Bikes”, but on closer inspection it was just a photo opportunity to show off the new “Electric Boris Bikes”. I can’t imagine what an Electric Boris would be like. Probably he’d short circuit the National Grid.

Even further down the road there were a film crew setting up. We used to get excited when we saw film crews in Glasgow, but now it’s just par for the course and we’ve learned to ignore them. Glasgow is built on an orthogonal grid with roads running North / South and East / West, so with it’s old turn of the last century buildings it makes a decent look alike for some of the older parts of American cities. It must be a lot cheaper to seal off a portion of Glasgow that, say, Chicago. Couldn’t see what or who was being filmed today.

Dancing was quite good, but although the room is fine for Jive, it’s really too small for ballroom. We leaders keep getting told to take bigger steps in Waltz and Quickstep, but when we do, there’s so much clutter in the room we can’t fit in all the steps. Pillars in the way don’t help either. However, today we reprised the entire Over the Rainbow set and we got to dance with some of the advanced dancers which is always good, because they are so exact and so quick. We eventually gave up trying to dance round the room because people would stop and discuss who was right and who was wrong and, coupled with the two speaker stacks, the piano and the pillars there were too many obstacles in the way. Instead, we practised the short routines we’d been learning.

Coffee afterwards for our usual debrief, then back up to the car park. We weren’t so lucky on the way back and got fairly well soaked. In addition I wanted some shots to use for today’s sketch. My Inktober list for today wanted “A bird’s eye view or a worm’s eye view”. In view of the strong winds, I decided that a bird’s eye view was out of the question. Also because of the heavy rain showers, I had to give up on an in-situ sketch, so instead I took some shots to use as reference material for today’s sketch.  It’s the Cranberry’s [sic] Restaurant in Glasgow.  Interesting building with a sort of tower breaking out of the corner of it.

Back home I decided there was enough light to warrant a walk to St Mo’s where I got today’s PoD which is a toadstool I saw emerging on Saturday. It’s grown a fair bit since then. I thought I’d get home dry, but that wasn’t going to happen. I got soaked, but at least it was on the way back.

Tomorrow I go to see the nurse about my blood results and Isobel is coming to lunch.

Jag in the morning for my flu jag. What a way to start a Saturday – 5 October 2019

Flu jag on a dull day then problems solved.

At least 10 folk before me in the queue to get their flu jag, but I’d barely had time to fill in the form before I was called. No problems with it so far and if it keeps the flu away from me, I’ll be a happy bunny.

What to do with the rest of the day on such lovely afternoon with threatening rain that would soon be more than a threat? We went to lunch, that’s what we did. Drove to the Cotton House which has been completely renovated. No big fish tank taking up half the width of the restaurant, just a skimpy wee narrow one as you walk in. It looks like there are now fewer tables too with discrete little booths dotted around. Actually, I preferred the old style. However the one thing they haven’t changed is the menu or the chef. Thank goodness for that. Still got Spring Rolls and Chicken Noodle Soup as starters for Scamp and me. Scamp went for Chicken Mushroom which looked very like Chicken Chop Suey and I had the traditional Chicken Chow Mien. Both delicious. Slightly smaller portions than before, but quite adequate as a lunch. We hadn’t booked, so were given a one hour time slot which meant we had to forego coffee. We’ll be back again, hopefully soon.

I offered to drive to Robroyston so that we could have the coffee we’d missed and Scamp could browse Watt Bros and I could browse B&M. Slumming it today you see. I found the tablet support I’d inadvertently dumped in a skip last week for the same price as the Ikea version, but it appeared that the tills were down and judging by the vacant look on the cashier’s face, his brain was down too. Oh dear, I should have known that it was just too good to be true. Gave up after five minutes and no sign of the meltdown ending, so I left to find Scamp in Watt Bros looking a bit worried as half the displays were empty. Surely Watt Bros weren’t going to the wall too. We’ll accept some things, but Watt Bros failing is a step too far. Where will she go for Christmas prezzies now? Maybe it’s just a re-stocking exercise and everything will be glittery, red and green for Christmas soon. Hopefully.

The coffee in Costa gave us a chance to unburden ourselves. We were tentatively booked for three Christmas Balls. I love the Salsa Christmas Ball, but I hate the venue which is the Classic Grand. It’s a glorified bingo hall. It’s manky with a capital M. It’s dark and I reckon it’s also a fire hazard with those narrow exit stairs. Basically it gives me the creeps. Strangely, Scamp felt the same, she also complained that there weren’t enough seats, so we scrubbed that one off the list.
Michael’s Christmas Ball is in the Redhurst Hotel which is out on the southern edge of Glasgow and is a nightmare to park at. I don’t mind that, but he, being a drag artist, is always wanting to drag (no pun intended) that into the night somewhere. It gives me the creeps. Scamp doesn’t really mind that, she just doesn’t like the venue. Agreed, we scrub that one too.
Finally we’ve been offered a place at a table at the Christmas Ball hosted by Stuart and Jane (our good dance teachers from the cruise). We are both agreed that we should accept that one. So Scamp said she’d confirm that as soon as we got home. All that sorted out over a Flat White and a Latte and a pastry each. Two minds set at rest. Two balls cancelled. One ball accepted and, Scamp being as good as her word, texted the confirmation to Stuart and Jane when we got back home. Done and Sorted!

When we got home, I decided to go for a walk in St Mo’s to get some foties. Luckily there were some fungi pushing up from the forest floor and the little umbrellas became PoD.

Topic for today’s Inktober was ‘Build’, so my answer was an Escher-like impossible stair.

Tomorrow I was thinking of going for a walk along Glasgow Green, but that may depend on the weather. It’s raining now.

Inktober 2019 begins and so does Winter – 1 October 2019

Scamp was going out for coffee, then she was going out for lunch and I was a happy bunny for once because Inktober 2019 had appeared on Flickr menu. It was cold today.

Scamp had a 10am appointment with Isobel and then a 12 noon appointment with Mags. Because it’s the first of the month I had some backing up of images to do, but that could be done by the computer without any input from me, other than to initiate the copying. I had also given myself the job of taking rubbish to the tip. One old SCSI scanner that never really worked and a bag of rubbish, which we’ll come back to later. We both got on with our respective duties and we bumped into each other after I’d been to the tip and she had been for coffee. I was heading back for lunch and she was heading out for lunch. My what busy lives we lead. I’d also checked on Inktober on Flickr and done a bit of armchair flying while she was out. Flying was a work in progress, but Flickr was looking good for once with 19 members. I’ve just checked and now we’re up to 34! Not everyone will participate, I realise that, but 34 is a very good start. I also cut out the patterns for the new waistcoat. A much more manageable set of pieces. Only six templates. We’ll see how simple the stitching is later.

After lunch, more armchair flying and then a walk to St Mo’s because the light was good even if the temperature was still in single figures (9.9ºc counts as single figures, just). I got well wrapped up, but needn’t have worried because the sun was actually quite warm and as long as I wasn’t in the shade, it was quite pleasant. The sun was low when I was almost ready to come home and that led to some interesting effects, resulting in me being later than I’d intended. The PoD was one of the last ones from the walk and was taken with the 14mm lens to give a bit of depth to the shot.

Tonight I did my first Inktober 2019 sketch, straight out of the ‘Official’ promos. The topic was ‘Ring’. I took the easy route and drew my hand with my wedding ring. It’s a bit rough, but I haven’t done much sketching since May. Quite enjoyed it though. Tomorrow’s theme is ‘Mindless’ and I’ve no idea what to do for it. Maybe because I’m mindless – now there’s an idea.

Tomorrow it’s back to Ballroom and Jive. No Salsa because it’s the lady with the “Oo la la”. No real dancing, just learning to raise your hand and shout “Oo la la”!

Oh yes, the rubbish thing. I bought a tablet stand from Ikea months ago because it was an ideal shape to hold my sketchbook for photographing the Inktober sketches. Guess what was in the bag of rubbish I took to the tip! Even worse, I put it in the bag in purpose. I’d forgotten I’d need it tonight. Numpty.

The Visitor returns home – 28 September 2019

Last night was a fairly late night, but this morning was an even earlier one.

Alarm was set for 6am, but I managed to switch it off before it woke us. Clive was already up and drinking his breakfast Cranberry juice. He thought he’d get away with that, but Scamp pressed him to have at least a digestive biscuit with his morning coffee. I can’t face a day on an empty stomach, so I had my breakfast muesli and a cup of tea, Scamp too had breakfast, then we were off to take Clive to the airport.

We were both sad to see him go. Dropped him at the airport in plenty of time to navigate his way through security and then get settled. He’d been a splash of sunshine on an otherwise dull week, and just as when anyone leaves, the house felt that little bit quieter and less colourful without him.

We’d planned to go to Edinburgh today because we knew we’d be up and out early anyway, but when we got back from the airport, we both agreed it would be good to have a lazy day. Couldn’t quite decide what to do with the rest of the day, but finally settled on going to Hamilton for a curry. That’s what we did, then, because there is so little of interest in Hamilton, we just came home. Food in the Bombay Cottage was just as good as ever.

Back home I thought there would be just enough light to give me a chance of getting some photos in St Mo’s, so that’s what I did. In the woods the light levels were that bit lower, but I still got a few shots. PoD was the branch of Larch pine needles turning yellow. The larch is one of the few deciduous pines. Also found a spiky bracket fungus, but you’ll have to go to Flickr to see that.

That was about it, other than sitting in judgement on the first ‘real’ Strictly heat. That and watching the qualifying for the Russian F1 GP.

No plans for tomorrow.

Early night tonight for a change, so I’m off. G’night!

Butterfly memory – 12 September 2019

The day started as so many have recently with rain, but the blue skies appeared later.

Gas man came this morning to do the boiler maintenance and gave us the usual warnings that it’s getting old and needs replaced. I have days like that too sometimes.

After that we went out for the messages and managed to spend a fair amount in three different, though similar, shops. That’s the thing about choice. It gives you the opportunity to spend more. Mostly it was just stuff we needed anyway.

Just before lunch I spotted a Red Admiral feeding on the buddleia bush at the back fence. I managed to get a few shots of it before I frightened it away. Bummer.

Fred came over later in the afternoon to pick up the paintings John had delivered yesterday. We had an hour or so of fairly adult conversation and he introduced me to another interesting Gerry Cinnamon song “Diamonds in the Mud”. Worth listening to, if only for the Glasgow accent. In return I suggested he listen to “Canter” with its own collection of adult content.

When he left, so did I for a walk down Auchinstarry way. The light was really excellent by now and the hills were glowing. Today’s PoD came from the walk. It’s a group of tiny wee fungi growing on a dead tree near the Forth & Clyde canal.

When I came home, the butterfly was back on the buddleia, but this time I barely got a chance to switch on the camera before it was off. I swear it looked straight at me and flew off. I’m sure it recognised me as the big human who pointed his black box at it a couple of hours earlier. Of course it could have been a different butterfly, but that was the impression it gave me.

Cod Chowder for dinner. I thought it tasted ok and just the same as usual. Scamp thought it was thicker and tasted different. Maybe she was right.

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks ok. Saturday, not so.

Brambles and Nettles – 8 September 2019

The day started with a visit to Calders garden centre for yet more plants.

Drove to Calders. Well, it’s a long walk there and an even longer walk back carrying a plant, a new plant pot and a bag of sharp sand. It made sense to take the car! You’d hardly recognise Dobbies as was. Much larger parking area, totally redesigned frontage and inside of the shop. Unfortunately the plants area is just as random and disorganised as ever. Lots of tat for sale inside, but if you’re looking for a watering can rose they don’t have one. Style over substance perhaps. Still we got the sharp sand, the flower pot and the plant, so we shouldn’t complain too much – shouldn’t, but did.

After lunch I got ready to go cycling for brambles and despite the threats of rain, I had a dry run and grabbed about 400g of berries. They are much harder to come by than last year and much later too. There may be more later in the week hopefully. Hopefully there will be less nettles though. My legs are still stinging from today’s forays into the nettle patches.

Scamp made potato and leek soup followed by Trout and Prawn Risotto for dinner and both were delicious.  I made some focaccia which was quite good, but needed better olive oil.

Watched an interesting Monza GP. Not a fair one as Leclerc won after flouting the rules a couple of times. Of course the road to fairness against an Italian team at the Italian GP is an uphill struggle, but it needn’t be so blatant or you just turn people off. Poor Vettel, he should concede the crown to his younger partner now. He’s becoming a liability. Let’s hope he wakes up to that before he does something with more serious consequences.

Spoke to JIC and got an update on all that’s happening down Cambridge way. Good to hear that he’s had a chance to get some gardening done and that his labours are bearing fruit … literally!

PoD was a group of fungi I saw when I was taking a break from bramble picking.

Tomorrow is Monday which means Gems and Salsa in that order.

Pansies and Painting – 18 October 2018

Pansies were what Scamp requested for her Thursday.

Bright sunny start to the day. It was good just sitting on the sofa in the sunshine. However, when I went out to retrieve the bin after it had been emptied, it was cold and there were cars everywhere. Is this a result of the general lack of money. This is the middle of the October week. A week when everyone goes away for a few days because the schools are off, or at least they used to do that. Maybe there’s less money around and it’s a stay at home holiday now.

I started looking for something to sketch and put pen to paper up in the back bedroom, just doodling really, then it started to become a drawing of the top of my painting cupboard and, because it was almost all straight lines, it became a perspective drawing. I left it for a while and Scamp and I went out for lunch at a garden centre nearby, well it’s in Falkirk, but that’s not really that far.

The place was full of old folk, most of them older than us! Almost all of them had weans with them. Grandweans I’d guess and that began to strengthen my theory about a general lack of money. Our soup and a coffee (with a shared Vanilla Slice) was a fairly frugal lunch too. Scamp got some bright yellow pansies, winter flowering pansies and some little daisy like flowers that looked nice and cheery.

Came home and decided the drawing looked ok. Sometime you just have to walk away from a sketch and come back with fresh eyes. It looked ok, but it needed a bit of colour to cheer it up and that’s what I did, then left it again to go and take some photos in St Mo’s. That’s where the PoD came from. Again, I took the ‘Big Dog’, but this time I took the Sigma 10-20mm wide angle lens. I really miss the flip up screen the Olys have, but the quality is so much better from the Nikon. Didn’t see much else that interested me. The fight between the swans seems to be reaching phase 2 with one (the loser?) sitting out on the grass while the others swam in the pond. Took a few HDR bracketed shots and a few panorama shots too, but the light was going and so was I.

Added a bit more colour to the sketch and that’s what you see here. Some might say it’s more a painting than an ink sketch, but there’s ballpoint ink and drawing ink in it, so it’s as much an ink sketch with paint than a painting with ink outlines.

Scamp’s says the tooth is still not properly fixed yet, but it won’t be until she goes back to get it treated next week. Maybe it’s more the bill that’s giving her pain!

On Reporting Scotland today there was a report that the Winter Garden at the People’s Palace is to be closed indefinitely at the end of the year. Apparently it needs at least £5m worth of repairs! The People’s Palace too will close for a shorter time, but the Winter Garden is where I have my roll ’n’ sausage and Scamp has her two slice of toast of the occasional Sunday morning, and where I go for a walk among the plants. What are we going to do? Glasgow Council, get your finger out and get this fixed pronto, Tonto!

Tomorrow is to be a bit cloudier than today. No plans yet.

Footering about – 9 October 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

Hopefully tomorrow is dancin’ again.