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Birlin’ round Stirlin’ – 10 June 2017

It wasn’t the brightest day when we got up today, but there was the prospect of better weather. We had been to Glasgow yesterday and there were twenty two men running around a piece of grass there today, so we headed in the other direction instead. We went to Stirling.

Drove from improving weather into drizzly rain and parked in the Cooncil carpark and paid our £1.40 for a day’s parking which must be the best value in Central Scotland. Before we got out of the car we agreed on ‘doing lunch’ and in particular, going for a curry.

We went to our usual curry shop and it was fairly busy at just past midday. Ordered and, by the time the starters had arrived, so had about ten other folk who were queueing out into the street. One dafty was standing half in and half out of the door, keeping it open so a cool breeze would waft over us all. If it had been January instead of June he would have got the “Shut the F&%$£@G door” message from everyone near the gale that would have blown in. Some people are not simply stupid, they are self-centred (if I’m going to be cold, everyone’s going to be cold) and stupid. A dangerous combination. Curry, by the way, was back to its old excellent standard as agreed by both of us. Only the pre-chopped nan bread was a disappointment.

Wandered around a damp Farmers Market in the town and then through the Thistle Centre where there seems to be a virus striking the shops in some areas with more boarded up than operating. Had a quick look in Waterstones, but there wasn’t much to tempt me to even get my Bento wishlist out of my pocket.

Walked back to the car in the sunshine that had blown in from the west I think. We stopped off at Waitrose to stock up on essentials and that’s where I got today’s PoD.

Back home I did some tidying in the garden. I planted out a few of the remaining spinach plants and then put pea netting around some of the pea plants. With strong wind forecast for the next few days, the pea plants may need that structure.

Today’s sketch was a last minute shot as anyone can see. Tomorrow’s will be better. That’s becoming a bit of a mantra these days, I realise, but at least I’m getting one decent drawing a week, so the J’ Ink (which will soon become June Ink I think) is working.

To my daily readers, my apologies for the late arrival of this blog post, but I was running a bit late last night after deciding to bake a loaf and then make a late evening pizza which was very nice thank you.  Anyway, I decided to write it fresh today (Sunday) when my head was a bit clearer.  Nothing to do with the Raspberry Vodka I’d had earlier, nothing at all 😉

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Dumped – 9 June 2017

Isn’t it nice when a plan comes together.  I don’t think that was what Theresa was saying this morning.

We went in to Glasgow today.  Went to Sarti’s for lunch.  So did about twenty other folk in what looked like an office party.  I think our order must have got swamped by that influx and first the waiter apologised, then the waitress apologised, then the chef apologised.  It was annoying, but I felt embarrassed for the poor chef.  It wasn’t his fault, it was the link between the till and the kitchen.  When the food came it was the usual high standard we expect in Sarti’s.  In the end, we got our coffees ‘on the house’, but I felt bad about that.  It was nobody’s fault and the food was good when it came.

While we were in Sarti’s we were watching the aftermath of the election unfold on TV.  When Theresa went to see Mrs McQueen we were discussing what the conversation would be like.  We decide it would be something like this:

“Your Majesty, I wish to form a new parliament.”

“ Eh,  ah don’t think so hen.  You’ve made a bit of a mess of this wan don’t ye think.”

“But we need a clear and strong government.”

“Aye, but ah really don’t think you’re the wan tae dae it.  Tell ye whit.  Ah’ll gie ye a chance, but realise that yer jaicket is oan a slack nail noo.  Right?  Oan yer way, ya chancer.”

Wandered up Sausage Roll Street and back down again, then drove home through torrential rain AGAIN!  What is wrong with the weather these days.

Sat on the back step (in the sun) and drew today’s sketch of the corner of the garden with its wonky clothes pole and containers, pots and alliums.  Quite liked the result with the reversed vanishing points (techy thing) and verging on spherical perspective (very techy thing!).

Today’s PoD is a jenny long legs sitting on Scamp’s car and is no way a subliminal message that Labour is on the ascendance and Conservatives are on the way down the tubes.  Not at all!

Rain forecast for tomorrow, so we may do lunch to cheer ourselves up.  BTW, Flickr is playing silly buggers tonight, so I’ll post the pics tomorrow DV.

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Vote, Vote, Vote – 8 June 2017

Today it rained on the good, on the great and on the politicians. Today was voting day.

It rained on everyone today. It was dry for a couple of hours in the morning and that’s when I was smart enough to get the above shot of the coal tit. It was hovering for ages just beside the peanuts waiting for its time slot. It hovered almost like a humming bird. I grabbed my trusty Nikon with the 300mm lens and it had stopped humming and hovering. Not to worry, I got some shots of all the coal tits and blue tits on the peanuts. They move so quickly, the little birds, mainly because they are feeding their young just now.

By eleven it was raining and it simply forgot to go off. We drove up to the school to vote for the least worst party, that’s how bad it is this year. I just hope that June 9th isn’t a May day. A Theresa May day.

After doing our duty, we drove to Robroyston for a coffee and just to say we had been out. After that we went to Bishopbriggs by a circuitous route because of one road closure and no diversion signs. East Dumbarton must be as bad as NLC. We went for Scamp to get some ‘messages’ and me to look at new tech in Currys. She was successful, I wasn’t. The ‘New’ Linx 64bit ‘puter Val told me about is a backward step, as far as I can see. Only one USB 2 slot and a touch pad that has a mind of its own. We drove back through the canal that is the M80. Well, that’s what it feels like in places.

Basically, that was it. I repaired the pocket on my M&S jeans. Scamp tweaked her music for Gems. I did a sketch of a cassette tape and by then it was bedtime.

Frantically hoping for better weather tomorrow.

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Rain – 6 June 2017

It was raining in the morning when we got up. It rained all day and it’s raining still. I don’t think there’s been a dry minute.

There were no plans for today, luckily, so we just had a lazy morning. I saw the effect of the rain on the alliums and decided it would make an interesting photo. Unfortunately it was bucketing at the time and none of my cameras are weatherproof, but they are when you wrap them in a Timson’s bag. Low tech meets high tech.

Just before lunchtime we went to Westerwood, me to stretch my legs and Scamp to swim. Just to confuse everyone and only for today, ladies were to use the gents changing room and gents, the ladies. The reason was that two blokes were fitting new locks in the ladies changing rooms. The new locks are push button coded. You type in a four digit code – twice then close the lock handle. No key to lose (I lost mine in the pool on one of our first visits.) No deposit to pay for the key. No having to ask for an odd numbered key to get a decent sized locker. No, it was almost as if we were in the twentieth century at last. There are obvious shortfalls that the devious will exploit in the next few weeks and then the batteries will fail and all have to be replaced at the same time, and how much will that cost?? Still, it’s a pleasant move forward on their part and we should be grateful.

Gym was interesting now that I’ve worked out (or to be more exact, Scamp has worked out) how to display my actual heartbeat, rather than my resting heart beat. Did my reduced machine torture and felt better than yesterday. After that I had a swim in a nearly empty pool. Wonderful.

Came home and started on today’s sketch which I’d decided would be, must be better than yesterday’s effort. I hope you agree.

Dinner was Scamp’s excellent stir fry.  One of my Tuesday night favourites.

Irene is to be teacher for the beginners class tomorrow night at Salsa. That should be interesting. I’ve said for ages that Shannon should have another female teacher and Irene’s encyclopedic memory of moves and her strict timing counts will help her do well, at least I hope it will. I also hope she gets paid for her hour’s work. Shannon doesn’t have a great record on that count.

Off to Wishaw tomorrow morning for Scamp’s checkup. Coffee booked with Val for the afternoon.

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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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The Dragons are back – 4 June 2017

We had intended going to the West End Festival in Glasgow today, but decided to have a lazy day at home instead.  There was to be no procession and that’s the highlight of the event every year.

Scamp got busy planting, planting and more planting.  Me?  I went for a walk instead.  Walked around St Mo’s and got a few photos of a couple of mating damselflies.  I was using the Oly 10 because it was the most versatile tool for general shooting.  The 45-200 zoom is a great lens and works well for close ups when you attach the extension tubes.  You lose a couple of stops of exposure, but it was a bright day again and exposure wasn’t a problem.

On my second circuit of the pond, a dragonfly caught my eye.  Waited for it to land and get comfortable then got one shot before it flew away to circle the wee pond.  Then it returned to the same grass stem, but it wasn’t comfortable and with each move I made it flew off.  Eventually it settled down on a reed and I got the shot above.  I was quite pleased with it.  It’s a Four-spotted Chaser male as you probably already knew.  Set the shutter speed high (1/800) and aperture fairly deep (f9) and that amounted to an ISO of a manageable 1250.  You just couldn’t do things like that with the Teazer, so it had a day at home.  The dragonfly is a Four-spotted Chaser male but you probably knew that already.  Lots more beastie pictures on the Flickr page.

Came home and Scamp was finished working in the garden.  Finished working, but not finished with the garden.  No, she wanted to get some photos of us sitting outside with our new drinks holders.  We got them yesterday as well as a barrow load of plants.  Set up the tripod, bolted on the Oly 5 only to find that the battery was flat and the spare one had just started charging.  I tried using the Teazer, but it’s so hard to use without a flip up screen.  Eventually got the photo using Scamp’s camera and it has already been sent out to all my readers I think.

Took my dodgy left knee to the physio to see what he could deduce from a bit of prodding and pulling.  His deduction was that it was a healthy knee.  He thinks I’ve maybe nicked a ligament at the back of the knee and it’s now well on the way to being repaired.  He gave me some exercises to do and wouldn’t take any payment.  Good guy.

Today’s sketch is of the Campsie Fells viewed through the back bedroom window.  Just a quick watercolour that gains entry into J’ Ink because of the penwork.

The only fly in today’s ointment is the fact that I’ve got a fasting blood test tomorrow morning and a full dance card for the rest of the day.  Never mind, it’s all in a good cause.  May take my healthy knee out for a walk if the weather allows.

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Gardening Scotland – 3 June 2017

We had planned to go to Gardening Scotland in Embra today.  We had intended to get the train to Haymarket, then get a No 98 bus to Ingliston Show Ground.  That plan was scuppered when I woke with a pain in my stomach.  Actually, the pain had been there all night, on and off.  My prediction was trapped wind, possibly too much information there.  Anyway, there was no way we were getting the 10:12 train from Croy.

Just before 11am I made the decision to drive there.  Yes, there would be queues, but there would be queues for the bus too, and probably the train would be busy into the bargain.  We were driving, the die was cast.

The drive to Embra couldn’t have been better, well, it could if some diddy hadn’t decided Saturday would be a good day to plonk some cones on the road outside Grangemouth so half a dozen road menders could get a Saturday shift out of digging up a traffic island.  Looks like a plan.  Road will be busy with folk going to Gardening Scotland.  Nobody really believes the M8 is running smoothly, so let’s dig up the M9 and cause chaos.  I really believe that’s how these idiots think.

After Grangemouth-Gate we reached Embra without any further problem.  Parking was a dawdle with lots of guides to get you parked quickly and efficiently.  Then I managed to ping the crown off one of my teeth.  Tiny wee thing, but my tongue still manages to find the crevice it was covering.  Walked the half a mile to the entrance gate.  It was only when we got there, Scamp realised she’d left her purse in the car.  We walked all the way back, retrieved the purse, walked back and went in.  Almost felt sorry for the ‘Fat Family’ who were just about to pay up when an official told them they couldn’t take a dog in with them.  It wasn’t a dog, it was a Pug.  Mrs Fat shouted to Mr Fat “Hold it.  They say we can’t take the dog in.”  Mr Fat replied “Can’t take the dog in?”  Mrs Fat “Can’t take the dog in.”  (Don’t you just love conversations like that?)  Then Mr Fat said “You could take dogs in last year.”  However, the official was adamant that No, you couldn’t take the dog in, and No you couldn’t take it in last year either.  Unfortunately, at that point Scamp had paid and we were in, so I don’t know the upshot of Pug-Gate.  It did entertain me for a wee while.

We had hoped for Chelsea with heather and thistles, but this was more of a horticultural show / shopping experience than a garden show.  That said it didn’t prevent us from buying lots of plants and a neat little trolly to drag them home with.  I think we would go again next year all being well, but probably go on the Friday when everything was sparkling and new.

Back home the M8 and drove through a thunder storm then managed to miss the Stirling turn off for the second time in a couple of weeks.  Must be more observant.

Today’s sketch was a last minute affair.  Nothing fantastic, just a coffee cup.

Not sure what’s happening tomorrow.  Depends on my insides again.

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Nursie – 2 June 2017

Scamp wasn’t at her best today.  In fact, she was so poorly, she made an appointment with the doctor for next week.  Unheard of.

So, it was on with the nurse’s uniform for me and a chance to fetch and carry for her.  A chance too, to pay her back for all the times she looks after me.  Thankfully by lunchtime she was on her feet and managed to put away a couple of slices of toast.  I’d have blamed last night’s chicken and strozzapreti pasta, but if anyone was going to have a hard time because of it, it would have been me with my famous dodgy insides.

I went out for a while in the afternoon to get some stuff for dinner and hopefully some photos.  Some hope.  Nothing remotely interesting flitted through my head, so I came home empty handed of photos, but with the makings of dinner.  Such a shame on a beautiful June day.

After the dodgiest chicken pie I’ve had the misfortune to eat ( Waitrose, you should be ashamed of yourselves), I took some photos in the garden and that’s where today’s PoD came from.  I also sat on the back step in the evening sun and sketched the old Rowan tree in the garden with a couple of old flower pots sitting at its base.  I think the Graphik 0.1mm pen I used is on its last legs, because the lines were becoming fainter and fainter the further I got.  I was thinking about changing to the Uni Pin pen anyway.  The result is below.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow, it depends on Scamp.

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I’ve got the shakes – 30 May 2017

It stared dull today, but it did get better.

This morning it didn’t look as if it was going to get better and by midday it was getting decidedly rainy.  Before that we’d done a bit of tidying up in the garden.  Chopped down the part of the rose that runs above the back door.  It’s been getting more and more straggly, so it had to happen sooner or later.  It happened today.  It looked a bit odd to start with, but hopefully it will force some growth into the part that runs up the side of the door.

We drove out in the rain to get the makings of tonight’s dinner at ASDA and stopped by Costa for a quick bite of lunch.  Came home and the weather started clearing up.  Took some photos in the garden, but they just didn’t work out.  May try again tomorrow.

Decided a walk over to St Mo’s would be good, so took the whole Oly / Teazer kit with me.  I wasn’t convinced that the anti-shake was doing anything.  I’m convinced now.  I switched off the anti-shake and took a couple of shots.  Actually, I didn’t need to take any, it was enough just to see the effect through the viewfinder.  Heaven knows what it would be like holding the camera at arm’s length like you do when you just have a viewing screen.  The anti-shake will now stay on at all times.  There wasn’t much to see or to photograph.  I did see some damselflies, but the wind was quite gusty and they were getting blown about too much.  No chance of a close-up with any camera.  Gave up and came home.

Scamp’s sister came in as I was getting the dinner ready (Cod and Smoked Paprika Chowder).  It was really good.  Now June has arrived too, so I’m in self-imposed exile in the front bedroom to get some peace and quiet to write the blog you’re reading.

Tomorrow?  Sewing class at JL.  Should be interesting.

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Started dull, got duller, then it rained – 29 May 2017

Today started dull, got duller, then it rained.  Read on for the boring details:

The morning was spent ‘tidying the back bedroom’.  That is code for ‘digging down to see if I could find the couch, then the floor. Scamp’s sister is coming to stay for a few days and she’ll need a bed for the night.  After I’d found both of the preceding items, I started the ‘tidying up’ proper.  By lunchtime the work was almost done and I’d even hoovered (or Dysoned ) all the upstairs except the bathroom.

After lunch I took the rubbish to the tip.  Another load of junk disposed of.  I went for a run to see if there was anything that piqued my interest, but no interest was piqued and I came home empty handed.  No rubbish, no photos, not even rubbish photos.  That state of affairs didn’t last long.

The Stuckies (or Starlings to you) were queueing to get in at the peanuts.  They were perched all along the fence.  Just had time to grab the Oly10 and snap a few shots, the best of which is above.  By then dull had given over to dull and raining, so the ISO was really high, but somehow the Oly managed to handle it well.  Unfortunately the Teazer wasn’t so capable of handling it, even if its zoom is so much better than the Oly10, so the two shots on Flickr are from the Oly, not the Teazer.

Dinner tonight was chicken curry, made from the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner and it was very tasty.  Economy in all things.  Although Scamp wasn’t too pleased to find herself chewing on a cardamom seed.

I did manage to get  sketch done.  Not my best, but as ever, it’s done and almost on time.

So dull, duller, then rained, didn’t totally tell the whole tale.  It never does.