15 Dec

Secret Squirrel Stuff – 29 November 2017

Scamp suggested that we should go for a walk this morning and offered to drive. How could I refuse?

She chose Glasgow Green as the venue and I was up for that. We usually go down the green on a Sunday morning, so it was a bit different to be driven there on a weekday. It was cold, but not uncomfortably so and we walked out to the McLennan Arch and then round past the rowing club boathouse to the viewing gallery over the Clyde. It was there I found the puffed up pigeon, the young gull and the swan. We walked on to the suspension bridge and then out to where there used to be a footbridge over the river to Richmond Park. The bridge has now been demolished but the piers still stand. Maybe they’ll build a new bridge (Aye Right!) Maybe they will, to celebrate the next millennium! We walked a bit further on and that’s where today’s PoD was created. Just a leaf with angled sunlight. I liked it right away. That was as far as we walked. Turned and walked back to the People’s Palace. On the way there we passed a group of school pupils on bikes being shown the basics of mountain biking by what I presume was their PE teacher. A good way to spend an hour or so learning a decent skill set that they can actually use. So much better than ‘book learning’. Good for you Mr Teacher, I applaud you. Coffee in the wintergarden cafe, but no Roll ‘n’ Sausage or toast, and then home.

Spoke to Hazy for half an hour or so after lunch and then Scamp decided she wanted to go in to Glasgow on some undisclosed sortie. So many ‘under the radar’ trips just before Christmas every year. I think that’s why I like it so much. It’s the subterfuge that makes it interesting. My own plans haven’t really been firmed up yet, but when they do, I’ll participate in the “I’m just going in to Glasgow”, “No, it’s alright I’ll probably just go myself” sort of Secret Squirrel stuff.

I drove Scamp to the station and then I had time to download this morning’s photos and have a look through them before I got the text to say that she was coming home on the X3. Time to make the risotto for dinner and then salsa. Salsa was quite interesting, but the class is reducing in numbers again and I felt that Jamie Gal was playing for time a bit.

It’s cold again tonight, 1.4ºc but it’s forecast to get warmer again from tomorrow night. I’m going to be the ‘roadie’ tomorrow when Gems play their second gig in a week before the Christmas break. Other than that I’m a free agent!

15 Dec

Fixin’, Walkin’ and Dancin’ – 22 October 2017

Last night the bulb in the oven gave up the ghost. Today we were heading to Glasgow to get a new one in that emporium of all things, The Barras.

After a fairly lazy start, well, it is Sunday even if we are retired, we drove to Glasgow and parked at The Green. Walked over to The Barras and specifically Pearsons. That’s the shop that has every electrical fitment and attachment you could think of, and a few that you couldn’t. Walked out with the bulb for £1.40. Certainly the best value shop in town as far as electrical goods go. After our purchase, we had a walk around The Green before heading for our lunch at the People’s Palace.

When we got home, fitting the bulb was a scoosh (ie, very simple), but the oven wouldn’t work now. Panicked for a bit before Scamp read the instruction book and found that you had to set the time on the clock or the oven wouldn’t work. Why? Who knows. Set the clock and the oven worked. Do they actually expect people to read instruction books?

Panic over, I grabbed an hour to walk along the canal to get some photos to augment the couple I had taken this morning at The Green. Then it was time to have dinner and get ready for Salsa at La Rambla in Paisley.

I don’t know if it was the dismal day or because we were a bit late, but there weren’t many Salseros there tonight. We did however dance a bit and got the new moves ironed out after a while.

Tonight’s sketch was done from photos, not from life, but it still counts.

Watched the travesty of Ferrari forcing Verstappen off the podium at Austin after a stunning drive from the young Dutch guy. Really, F1 you need to get your act together.

Tomorrow is Monday and that means Gems and Salsa with anything else we need to fit in around them.

15 Dec

It was still there in the morning – 8 October 2017

Yes, Santa hadn’t taken it back during the night and I hadn’t dreamed it either. There is was sitting on the table where I’d left it.

It was another day of backbreaking work adjusting, cajoling and a fair amount of swearing as anyone who knows me will testify to. Strangely, also a lot of talking to myself. Maybe that’s because I’m the only one who has the slightest clue what I’m doing. Most things are working now and the backbreaking, which was due to me stretching across the laptop in front of me to see what the iMac was telling me, has subsided a bit now that I’ve repositioned the monitor at a decent distance and angle.

Scamp is keeping an eye on me as is the wee man in the Fitbit on my wrist, getting me to take their advice and walk around a bit every hour. It’s difficult though, with this marvellous piece of equipment just sitting there in front of me. To that end, we drove down The Green this morning and went for an autumn walk. There’s a big chestnut tree near where we park and I was lucky enough to find a chessy as we used to call them when I was wee. This one was just breaking out of its shell. I stuck it in my pocket with the idea that if nothing else, it would make a PoD. As it happened, it was a view down the Clyde from behind the Glasgow Uni boathouse that got PoD. I liked the leading lines in the pic of the wee man and seagulls or to give them their Dundee name, shitehawks are always a good subject. The chessy as you will have noted became Inktober sketch number 8.

I worked for another hour or so after we came back, installing more stuff and swearing even more. For a break I went for a walk around St Mo’s before dinner, but the light was poor by that time and I didn’t get much.

That was about it. Sat for an hour or more afterwards working through the photos and being even more amazed at the quality of that screen.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go to the gym for a gentle workout and then sit in the steam room for half an hour. If I can drag myself away from the iMac.

15 Dec

When I’m cleaning windows – 19 September 2017

Sitting in the people’s palace enjoying a roll ’n’ sausage and a fairly decent cup of coffee. I’m becoming a real coffee snob, Hazy! Scamp had her usual peppermint tea and a couple of slices of toast. It seems strange sitting here on a weekday! We’d just been on a recce to find the party venue for John Carrigan’s 60th in Ibrox, deep in Bluenose territory.

Earlier in the afternoon we were walking round Glasgow Green marvelling at three blokes who were abseiling down one of the multi-story flats. We thought they were cleaning the windows, but it wasn’t until I got the photos home and processed that it became clear that they were actually repairing the windows. They were replacing the seals. Not the sort of job I’d like to be doing, even on a beautiful day like today. However, the view from the top would have been wonderful.

After lunch we drove home and I went out to see if the dragonflies were still sunning themselves up at Fannyside. They were, but their numbers well well down from last week. Only about half a dozen rather than last week’s nineteen. This time I had the proper gear. Nikon D7000 and the Sigma 105mm macro. Maybe it was because it was later when I got there, but the little dragonflies that landed seem lazy and quite happy to simply sit there and be photographed. As usual, I got the feeling that they were sizing me up as I was photographing them. Scary things dragonflies.

In the morning, I’d put what might be the finishing touches to my acrylic painting, so I present it here for your perusal.

Salesman from the garage phoned tonight with an update on the car. It might be arriving a day or two earlier. We’ll know for sure later in the week.

Finally, we don’t have a plan for tomorrow apart from Salsa at night and yesterday’s move wasn’t Sombrero Doble, it was Balsero Dos. Almost the same thing.

15 Dec

Down Glasgow Green – 20 August 2017

True to our challenge, we were out pretty early today and off down Glasgow Green.

Went for our usual walk around The Green to see the newbies taking their first steps on the road (or should that be water) to becoming competent rowers. There were lots of them out splashing about on the water. Lots of older gentlemen on bikes, carrying megaphones were shouting instructions to the more seasoned rowers. I don’t know if any of them were actually listening to these encouragements, in fact I think I heard one shout back “Why don’t you fuck off ya bastard”. Of course I could have been mistaken.

We went to the People’s Palace for the usual roll ’n’ sausage for me and toast for Scamp, but horror of horrors, it wasn’t flat sausage, it was two pork links in the roll and even worse, my coffee and Scamp’s tea came in a cardboard cup! What it the world coming to when you can’t get flat sausage or real crockery? Actually the link sausages were very nice, but the brown water was not coffee. By the time we were leaving some of the Ls, the Gs and the Bs, Ts and Is were gathering for some sort of festival thing which took up most of the Green. At first, thought it was a circus that had set up, and after some consideration, I was probably right!  Glasgow Pride weekend continues.

The afternoon was a bit of a lazy time. Didn’t do much other than work up an ink and wash drawing from an ink sketch I’d done in the winter garden. I’m not that impressed with it, but it’s done and there is some ink in it and it’s finished. Just got it finished and my pen disintegrated, spilling ink over my nice new watercolour pad. No great loss, it’s not such a brilliant pad. Might be good for acrylic, but the grain pattern is too regular for real watercolour work. Still worth the £3.  While I was engaged in this artistic endeavour, Scamp was completing one of her digital jigsaws.

Salsa tonight was great. It was in Arta and Grant was DJ, so the music was danceable. There weren’t many men there, and as a result, I was in great demand. I don’t think I sat down for more than two dances in succession. Totally wabbit I was by the end of the night.

Tomorrow we may go to the gym or for a swim if we can remember how to get there. It’s been a long time.

15 Dec

Down the Green – 25 June 2017

We had decided to go for a walk down Glasgow Green this morning and that is what we did.

Usually the parking is quite tight at the People’s Palace, but either because we were there early or because the temperature had dropped significantly today and folk were just staying at home. I almost felt sorry for some French folk who had arrived at the People’s Palace in a tour bus, only to find a locked door. For most of the week, the building opens at 10am, but on Sundays it opens an hour later. They missed the opening by 5 minutes!

We walked around the usual circuit and that’s where my PoD abstract came from. Went in to the wintergarden for a quick coffee for me and peppermint tea for Scamp before going home. Unfortunately the barista(?) didn’t seem to understand “some hot milk on the side” and I got a cup of milky coffee. Not really surprising as two of the cafe assistants didn’t look as if they’d be able to spell their names correctly at the first attempt.

Back home we watched an enthralling and, I must say, interesting F1 GP from the street circuit of Baku in Azerbaijan. Thrill, spills, crashes, flaring tempers. It had it all. It even had a smiling winner who drank some of his champagne from his racing boot, but the best bit was when the 3rd placed rookie had to drink some too, from the same boot. The look on his face was a picture!

Today’s sketch was done on Pink Pig 150gsm cartridge paper and with an almost dry Derwent Graphik 0.1mm pen. I drew it as the race was nearing its nail biting climax and the flower head was drawn blind. I think this must be the most accurate ‘blind drawing’ I’ve done so far. I’m quite pleased with it, especially after yesterday’s effort.  The rose is Alec’s Red, Scamp’s favourite rose and it was a wedding present from Alex to us all those years ago.  Scamp cut the flower to stop it being battered by the high winds this weekend.

Tomorrow? I may go in to Glasgow to get my hair cut.

15 Dec

A sea of green – 28 May 2017

I thought it would be a good idea to go down The Green this morning for a wee walk.  So did a few thousand others, it seemed.

I’d made the fatal mistake of forgetting that yesterday twenty two men had been running around a green field chasing a ball in the rain  Eleven of them got a trophy for doing the running better than the other eleven.  The ones who won the trophy were wearing green and white shirts.  The losers were wearing red.  Today we were driving against a sea of green and white tee shirts.  Luckily.  If we had been going the other way, in the direction the crowd were going, we would still be waiting in that traffic jam.  Also, we started out fairly early and the traffic was light.  Later, when we were coming home the traffic queue was from Parkhead to the slip road from the motorway, in fact they were queueing along the inside lane of the westbound M80, a distance of about 5 miles!  Fanaticism!

However, it didn’t really affect us.  We drove to the People’s Palace and parked there then went for a walk along The Green to the McLennan Arch and back along the riverside to the suspension bridge.  Along the way I spotted on Mr McGivern who was the bane of my life for the last two years as a PT.  He worked two days of the two years he was meant to be with us.  A ghost of a man who screwed the system and probably still does so.  I didn’t speak to him.

We stood on the suspension bridge and watched the people rowing up and down the river.  Young and old, fit and unfit, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunshine, especially after yesterday’s rain.  We headed for home after that, without even our usual tea ’n’ toast or roll ’n’ sausage.

It was on the way home we saw the extent of fandom for Celtic.  So glad we were going the other way.  After lunch and a pretty boring Monaco GP, I drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal to Twechar and back along the railway path.  Saw a Humming Bird Hawk Moth.  The first time I’ve seen one in Scotland.  Photo wasn’t all that good, because I was using the Teazer and it’s not really designed for my kind of macro photography.  Should have taken the Oly 10 as a banker.  Next time, yes, next time.  It was when I was crossing the plantation I saw Bolt.  That’s his name and his photo is at the top of the page.  Cheery wee guy and PoD.

Dinner was roast chicken with cabbage (because it was there) and potatoes.  Lovely warm day and I well exceeded my step count.

Tomorrow, no Gems, but it’s forecast for rain.

15 Dec

“I don’t get hangovers yet” – 23 April 2017

This morning we went for a walk round the Barras.

I was going looking for a cheap Bluetooth 4.0 dongle – it’s a bit of computer hardware, in case you don’t know.  There used to be a multitude of wee computer shops selling legitimate and highly illegal hardware and software down the Barras.  Most Barras stuff was knocked off, one way or another and everybody knew that and accepted the risk that what you were buying was either unlikely to work once you got it home or a man in a black suit wearing a cap with a black and white chequered pattern would relieve you of it as soon as you stepped away from the stall.  No guarantees, no money back, but glorious bargains to be had.  Not today and by the looks of things not ever again.  The Barras was dead.  All the wee shops and some of the bigger ones were closed and firmly shuttered.  Worst of all, there was almost nobody about..  It looks like the end of an era, and also the end of my search for a cheap Bluetooth dongle.

We walked down to Glasgow Green and strolled through the trees just springing into leaf, about a month behind the ones we walked in last week in Astwick.  That’s what happens, they get the weather, we get the scenery.  It’s a fair exchange and I like the way it’s weighted.  We were just heading for the People’s Palace for my usual Sunday roll ’n’ sausage and Scamp’s tea ’n’ toast when three girls passed us and the following snippet of their conversation floated towards me  “… I don’t get hangovers yet. I suppose I will later …”.  I felt like telling her she had to be actually drinking alcohol first.  Merely talking about it won’t have the desired effect, nor will drinking lemonade or coke.  I almost shouted “Try Buckfast.  That should work.”  She was english, which explains everything.  Just one step away from being american.  (Yes, lower case ‘e’ and lower case ‘a’.)

Today’s sketch was from the Wintergarden of the People’s Palace.  Simpler and more accurate than previous ones IMO, maybe because I was sitting down enjoying my R ’n’ S while I completed it.  The trees were Celtic trees.  Green, White, Green, White, Green.  Must have been planted by a Sellic supporter!  But then, you don’t get many trees with Blue or Red leaves do you?  The mono shot of the old shop with the ‘ghost signs’ was not from the Barras, but from quite near there.

Back home to do a bit of joinery, completing the duckboard for the plants to stand on.  Actually enjoyed it and it looked reasonable when it was finished.  It could maybe do with a lick of paint or stain to finish it off, but the biggest part of the work is done now.  Helped Scamp with a bit of gentle gardening after that, but nothing creative, just labouring really.

Made some bread 50/50 white flour and dark wholegrain flour from Prince Chic’s own farm.  I imagine he planted it himself and then carefully tended it, talking to it daily before harvesting it with a scythe he’d sharpened himself then grinding it carefully in an authentic and architecturally sound windmill.  Lastly he’d transport the flour by horse and cart to Waitrose where we bought it.  He’s that kind of a guy.  The bread was good, thanks Chic.

Tomorrow is Monday so it’s Gems day.  I’ll be making a hasty exit.

15 Dec

A walk down The Green – 12 March 2017

We decided, well I suggested, last night that we go for a walk down Glasgow Green today.  It fitted with the new regime of getting up that wee bit earlier, especially if we were to miss the hoards of ‘Billys’ and ‘Dans’ who would be heading for Celtic park for a local derby, AKA a punchup, because that’s what usually happens.  Actually, although Celtic park is close to Glasgow Green, I’d rather drive there than Ibrox which is the Rangers park.  Both Scamp and I know lots of short-cuts we can take to avoid most of the Parkhead traffic, but if Rangers are playing at home, the motorway becomes one big car park with all the maddies desperate to get there before anyone else.  I imagine living near Ibrox must be a nightmare, no matter which team you support.  I can just imagine all those cars parked everywhere.

So we drove through the green and white hoards to The Green and got parked without any problem.  Walked down to the McLennan Arch at the far end, then back along the side of the Clyde past the rowing clubhouse.  The high flats on the far side of the Clyde always impress me.  They seem to catch the light so well, especially in the winter and spring.  I took some pictures of them, but preferred the shot of the washing drying behind the perspex screens.  Lots of rowers out today and an unusually large number of ‘8s’ with the self-important looking coaches cycling along beside them shouting through tannoys.  Stood on the suspension bridge watching the coming and going of the different boats with their varying skill sets.  Then went up the hill to the People’s Palace.

Went for the usual lunch of Roll ’n’ Sausage for me and two rounds of Toast for Scamp.  My sausage was inedible.  That’s the first time that’s happened to me.  I think it must have been left over from New Year’s Day and had been ‘nuked’ in the microwave once a week since then to heat it up and kill of the bacteria.  I left it on the plate.  I value the few teeth I’ve got left and wasn’t going to risk damage to the expensive crowns.  Maybe I should have complained, but, like I said, this is the first time it’s happened, so I’ll cut them some slack.  Did a quick sketch of the inside of the Wintergarden.  It’s still got its emergency sheeting in place to prevent any further risk of falling glass panels.  I expect that sheeting will become a permanent feature, which is a shame, because it does detract from the look of the wrought iron trusses, but safety before beauty, I suppose.  I am quite pleased with the sketch because the perspective is fairly correct, but also I managed to include a couple of people, something I must practise.  Walked round the plants and took a few shots.  Smiled when I saw a wee girl with her wee sister and a point-n-shoot camera. Talking into it as if she was conducting an interview, finishing with “… and that’s it for this visit to Glasgow.  Handing you back to the BBC in London.”  Imagination.  That’s what it’s all about.  The camera wasn’t even switched on.

Came home and dumped my photos, then the sun came out.  It had been raining on and off all morning, but now the clouds had rolled away and the sun was coming out.  Scamp was ‘Tidying Up’ and I didn’t want to get involved in that, so I too the ‘Big Dog’ out to St Mo’s to see if there was anything interesting there.  Some coots building nests, but they were too far away to make anything of.  A cormorant, but it flew away.  No deer to be seen, but load of frogs.  Spent a wee while watching them, watching me.  I took some photos of some of them, but didn’t notice them photographing me.  Maybe they did and have posted them on FrogFlickr.  Maybe they’re writing in their blog about the BigBloke with the BigCamera who they saw today.  Who knows.  We are not alone in this world.  Might go back for some more photos tomorrow.

Dinner tonight should have been Tuna steak, but neither of us were impressed with it.  It just didn’t taste right, so we ditched it.  It looked so nice too.  Last time we’ll go to that fishmonger – it wasn’t even Tesco!

Hoping to go in to Salsa early tomorrow to get some ‘messages’.

15 Dec

An Old Friend Returns – 28 December 2016

Today we drove in to Glasgow, but not for shopping.  We went down Glasgow Green for a walk.  A walk down The Green is usually a Sunday pursuit, but today was dry and open, so we chose to do our Sunday walk on a Wednesday – just for a change.

There were a few folk out walking off the Xmas excesses.  Some folk had even taken to the water to do some serious rowing.  There were even some like me who were out taking photos.  It was a fine day for it with low sun and some clouds to make the sky that bit more interesting.  A most enjoyable walk, but the best was yet to come.

We always use to complete our walk with a coffee and a roll ’n’ sausage (for me) and a peppermint tea and toast (Scamp) in the Wintergarden of the People’s Palace.  Until, that is, the day when a glass panel fell from the roof of the Wintergarden some time in July.  Since then the Wintergarden has been closed.  Today it was open again and it was quite full of families too.  Even better, they had fresh rolls, fresh bread and fresh sausages.  The coffee was real.  Not like yesterday’s brown water, this was coffee.  Brilliant!

After my Sunday lunch I usually go for a walk round the plants because these are plants you only get to see in a large, enormous glasshouse like this.  Today was no exception.  It looks like the gardens section of Glasgow Council has taken the opportunity to remodel the gardens while it was closed and the difference is quite dramatic.  It take it all back Glasgow Council.  You’ve done a great job here.

We needed some milk when we got back, so rather than drive to Tesco, Scamp decided to walk to the local M&S to get some and I came along for the walk.  On the way back, I carried on with my walk round St Mo’s while Scamp went home.  I managed to get my first decent shots of a couple of deer in a long while.  I could see the animals grazing quite contentedly upwind from me through the cover of some pine trees and I was able to get the camera set, focused and ready before I quietly broke cover and got the first few shots.  Then they sensed something and their heads came up.  I stayed stock still for a few minutes still taking a few more shots before they went back to grazing.  My next step broke a twig and that was all the warning they needed.  They were off, running and jumping.  I hammered off about 10 shots in motor-wind mode before they were lost in the bushes.  That was it for photography today.  Happy, I went home.

Tomorrow is booked solid for Scamp, so I’m free to do as I please.  I may get my hair cut, ‘cos it’s a ‘Pure Afro’ as we say in this house!