Getting out of the house – 7 May 2019

Today we went for a drive and got a table.

It wasn’t the brightest of days, in fact it was a bit overcast with a hint of rain in the wind. I’d thought of going to Bowling near Dumbarton, but I reckoned I wouldn’t get very interesting photos with the lack of light in the morning, so we went to Ikea instead. I wanted to get some of the drawer dividers we’d been using for the Marie Kondo stuff and Scamp just wanted a wander around looking at nothing in particular and everything in general. We ended up buying a garden table for a knock down price, a wooden one that looks as if it will be useful, not only for eating off, but also as a potting bench. Had lunch in Ikea and got a quid or two off our meal with the Family Card. A pain in the backside to fill in the detailed application for and they must have been hewing the card from a solid block of plastic, judging by the time it took to come. However it saved us money, so we shouldn’t complain.  We both had the fish ‘n’ chips.  It was supposed to be cod and I’d guess it swam in the same sea as the cod, but that’s as close as it got to being that fish.  Chips were good.

The rain got heavier after we left Glasgow and it looked as if it was settling in to be another dull day. I moped upstairs for a while trying to find something to draw to fulfil the brief of “Something that makes you sad”. I though of an empty bottle of beer which usually makes me sad, but I just couldn’t get it to look like I wanted it to. Decided that the rain had lessened to a drizzle and went for a walk in St Mo’s as much for a break as for any inspiration. However, on my way back, I passed the burger van that’s parked over there and saw the sign for the umpteenth time. This time I took a couple of shots. The one you see here is the best one, I think. Processed in ON1 2019 and then just a little bit of levels in Lightroom, it became PoD.

With the photo done and posted, Scamp and I shared the last two choc ices and that’s when I saw my sketch. To quote from the title: “I’m always sad when the last choc ice is gone!” I posted it in FB and then had a look at what everyone else had done and it was “Saving the planet”, “Protect the Bees”, fluffy bunnies, kittens and babies with tears in their eyes. It seems that I’m the only one with a sense of humour.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing in the afternoon and in the evening too.

Escher, Dancing and Good Light – 5 May 2019

Today’s challenge was “Your Favourite Artist”.

Where do you start? Who do you choose? Vincent Van Gogh would be a good place to start, then there would be Constable, Turner, Seurat, Durer. Closer to home there’s Peploe, or any of the Scottish Colourists. Plus of course The Glasgow Boys and Glasgow Girls. It could of course be a musician or a singer or anyone from any of the arts. I finally settled on MC Escher. Mainly because I like the range of his work, not just the Impossible Staircase (which is now attributed to Penrose) and the ever flowing Waterfall. His tessellation’s are amazing and his use of spherical perspective is great to look at, but almost impossible to replicate. That brings up the question of what do I do to represent him. I chose to try to work out how the Impossible Staircase was drawn. I found the answer in the repository of all things, YouTube. All human life is there … as well as a few things that most definitely are not human. What you see below is my attempt.

That was as much thinking and working as I did today. Well I did some lifting and carrying for Scamp in her ever increasing gardening exploits, trying her hardest to get the sun loving plants to the front of the house and those that prefer shade to the back. Today the Hydrangea was taken from the back to the front. Some things that are now at the front, like the tulips, will soon be moved to the back to rest after their flowering is over. For myself, I contented myself with planting some more peas because the first lot haven’t shown their little green heads. I remember Ann McPherson’s Maxim: Buying plant the plants at Easter that will die. Buy and plant the ones in May that will grow.” It works, you know. Especially if you live in Scotland.

Went dancing at the Record Factory this afternoon. Had a late lunch or an early dinner whatever you want to call it, it was fish ’n’ chips by the way at the venue and it was pretty good value. We may do that again. For some reason, nobody wanted to dance. We were first up on the floor and nobody joined us. The next two tracks were played and nobody got on their feet. Eventually people danced. It was a packed dance floor for a couple of hours then things started to fade off again. On the way to the car I got today’s PoD. Beautiful lighting on the Glasgow Uni tower, framed by a demolition crane!

Tomorrow we are in no rush to go out. No Gems and no Salsa at night. What will we do with our time?

Beer is the answer, now what was the question? – 30 April 2019

A day in town with the guys and being a good Samaritan.

Scamp offered me a run to the train station to have a 10min trip into Glasgow, rather than the 45min trip the X3 forces on me. I was meeting the Auld Guys for a few beers, some adult conversation and a cheap lunch. Before that I had some time to spare, so I went for a look in JL. Where I saw a bloke attempting to buy a camera for his daughter. She wanted one with a viewfinder, but the one he had his eye on didn’t have one. The assistant told him that nothing in that price range had viewfinders. She went to get the keys to the cabinet to show him some considerably more expensive ones, that’s when the Good Samaritan butted in. I pointed to a Teazer (TZ70) which was much closer to his price range than the £650 Sony the assistant was touting and told them that it had a viewfinder. Even better I had my Teazer in my pocket to show him. He seemed happy that it had a viewfinder and gave it over to his daughter so that she could try it. She said it was just what she was looking for. By then the assistant had returned and the man pointed at the Teazer in the case and said that “This Gentleman” (that’s me by the way) “says that one has a viewfinder”. The assistant agreed that the Lumix was a good make and confirmed that it did indeed have a viewfinder. I left them to test it out for themselves. I hate to see people being given that kind of sales pitch. A Gentleman and a Good Samaritan and it wasn’t even 11.30am!

Met up with the other three in the Horse Shoe Bar. It looked like a pensioners day out today. Not one person under the age of 60 drinking in that bar. Val and Jack couldn’t make it. Jim B couldn’t come today for some undisclosed reason. Had a good gossip about school stuff we don’t have to worry about anymore, then went upstairs for lunch. Three courses for a fiver! That’s a cheap lunch. After that it was home time.

Fred and I got the train home and Scamp very kindly dropped Fred off before we went home too. A good day out.  Scamp had managed to get the grass cut while I was away and just in time too, because when we were going home it started to drizzle.  It’s good for the garden!

Today’s PoD was taken from the top of Buchanan Street in the town.

Tomorrow it’s dancing again. Hopefully better than last week.

Dancing just once today – 24 April 2019

Dancing just once, but we covered a whole lot of stuff. Jive, Waltz, Quickstep and Cha-Cha. All within an hour!

Lazy start to the day trying to get into a new book after the superb Natural Causes. The life story of a forensic pathologist. Utterly fascinating. The new book is a novel and it’s hard to change from a non-fiction book to a fiction book, at least it is for me.

Drove in to Glasgow and watched the speed of the advanced Jive class and wished we could be so slick. I think I’ve grown to like jive because of the music. Like Salsa music, jive is generally happy, lively music. Waltz is slow and steady. Quickstep is faster and quite bouncy, but Jive really has you tapping your feet, much like salsa. Our jive was a bit rough round the edges, but we were keeping our heads above water, so to speak. We may not have been as sharp as the advanced class, but we were keeping in time to the music most of the time and although we forgot a few moves, we were doing quite well. Even the Timestep was reasonably good. Michael took us on to the next step called the Kicksies. I video’d it and I’m glad I did. We’ve just watched it tonight and broken it down into manageable pieces and we’ve got a fair idea how it fits together and how it fits into our routine.

Waltz was a disaster. I just couldn’t put a foot right and for once, neither could Scamp. I think my head was still full of jive. I have to take my Jive head off and replace it with my Waltz head, just like Wurzel Gummidge before I can attempt the Waltz. Then I have to do the same with the Quickstep which was heading to be a disaster too until Michael made two changes to our Running Step. Hands high and Head high. What a difference those two simple things made. I know, all the foregoing is more like Technospeak than anything. I suppose it is just Dance Technospeak. Anyway, we walked out into the cold of Bell Street feeling much better about ourselves.

Quick coffee and then home. Grabbed a few shots of the Duke of Wellington with his robot head on and the makings of today’s PoD which is reflections in 110 Queen Street. The glass office building.

Back home and while I was post-processing the PoD, we got a text from Irene to say that Jamie G would not be taking the intermediate class tonight, Shannon would. That made life a lot easier. We were staying in tonight. I don’t need to be ‘taught’ for an hour how to hold my hands in the air and shout “Oo La La”. I find little use for that phrase in my normal, or dancing life. Sent Dougie a quick warning message on FB, because he is also a fully paid up member of the “Not Shannon” club. To get our dancing fix tonight, we practised a few Kicksies. If we do that for a few days it will Fixie the Kicksie in my head.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get my wedding ring back. Also need to do some shopping and prep for dinner on Friday.

Embra – 20 April 2019

We’d said we’d go to Embra and we did.

Set off early and did our usual walk up from Haymarket station to Nero on Lothian Road then from there through the farmers market where I got a piece of Hogget Leg Steak and Scamp got a chunk of Focaccia. I also grabbed a PoD of the folk sitting in the sun.

From there we walked up to the Grassmarket and Scamp bought a wee bottle of Elderberry liqueur, although the rum liqueur they were selling tasted very nice. They didn’t have wee bottles of it, unfortunately, only big bottles. The place was mobbed. In fact Embra in general was mobbed. It was a beautiful day. Warm sunshine and very little wind which is strange for Embra because it quite often is the Windy City. I was beginning to regret wearing my leather jacket AND a jersey. One had to go, in fact, eventually both had to go.

We couldn’t decide where to go for lunch, so we headed for Princes Street Gardens via M&S where I went to get some fresh fruit while Scamp searched for the trousers she’s been looking for for the last week or so. I got the fruit, but Scamp didn’t find the trousers she wanted. However she did find a sun hat that looked good, so after some swithering about a colour, she opted for the plain white one.

We sat in the gardens for a while eating the fruit and people watching, but decided eventually that it was far too busy in Embra and we should just head for home. Went for the 2pm train and were there in plenty of time. Sat waiting for what seemed a long time when a message came over the tannoy that with apologies, the train was cancelled. There was nothing to do but walk back to the concourse and wait for the next train which was in half an hour. Then Scamp noticed that it too was cancelled. Apparently due to a signalling fault. She suggested we get the 2.15 train which wouldn’t stop at Croy, but we could go straight to Glasgow and get another train back. After all the ticket did say “Valid via any permitted route”, so we could have gone via Inverness if we’d fancied, but we didn’t, we just wanted to get home now. Got the 2.15 which did take us all the way to Glasgow and then got the Stirling train back to Croy. A journey that should have taken us 40mins had taken 2 hours. Strangely, the 2.15 train travelled exactly the same route as the one that was cancelled because of a signalling fault. Did they magically repair the fault for the 2.15 train to pass, but knew that it would be broken again when the 2.30 train was due to leave? Maybe they should just be more honest and say “Due to staff not being available because it was such a nice day”. Anyway, we got home.

Sat in the garden and scoffed a bottle of wine that had been in the fridge since Christmas. It would be getting near it’s sell-by date anyway!

Tomorrow we may go dancing in the Record Factory.

Walking with dinosaurs – 18 April 2019

Went to Glasgow to see what Leonardo had been up to.

We decided to go on the bus, because I’d been driving quite a lot and also, so we could have a drink before we came home. We had a coffee in the toon and then we got the subway out to Kelvin Hall and walked along to Kelvingrove Art Gallery. Walked around the Dippy the Diplodocus exhibit, and although it was large, I’d imagined it was much bigger. Nicely balanced though, with a long neck and a long tail keeping Dippy in equilibrium.

Found the Leonardo exhibit and we were amazed with the condition of the drawings. True Mrs McQueen has been looking after them and she’s been doing a good job, but the detail in the drawings was so clear and the paper was so clean I was impressed. Beautiful detail in the drawings, especially the studies of grasses and plants. The only thing I was disappointed in was the lack of mention of his tutor, Jim Belkevitz. Any child who was in my drawing class knows that Leonardo was a genius because he could draw a circle freehand, and the man who taught him that was Mr B.

Scamp wanted to listen to the organ recital and I wanted to go and see the Glasgow Boys paintings.  I saw the painting of Anna Pavlova which Fred gave JIC and Sim for a wedding present.  Theirs is a print of course, but the real thing is very impressive.  Also saw the Dali picture that poor Neil went to see, only to find out that it was on load to a New York gallery.

Got the bus back in to town and had lunch in Paesano with a glass of wine each to compensate for travelling by public transport. Then Scamp went to look in M&S and I went to wander through CassArt. Both of us came away empty handed.

Back home, I noticed that the overflow from the central heating boiler was dripping water. Checked the boiler and found that the pressure gauge was well into the high pressure red area. Phoned the gas board and after chatting on-line with someone somewhere in the world, but I guess India, I was told that a technician visit was booked for Saturday. Until then I was told best not to use the boiler. I couldn’t remember how to decrease the pressure in the system, because there isn’t a stopcock like there was in the old boiler, but then I found articles online that said to drain one of the highest radiators with the system switched off. I did that and the pointer came down into the middle green area, so we got some heat tonight after all, but that still doesn’t explain why the pressure was so high when we got home, so it still need expert help.

PoD was a picture of a man with his granddaughter (?) photographing Dippy. I think he was more interested in the dinosaur than she was.

Tomorrow my coffee is being delivered, so one of us will have to stay at home for that.

Not such a bright day – 16 April 2019

Today was Chris’s dad’s funeral. JIC had flown up specially for it last night.

He might have come up for the funeral, but before that JIC had to take a conference call with California and China. That’s just the kind of circles he moves in these days. Half past eight this morning and he was on Skype, doing work.

The funeral went well, I suppose. Well, as good as these things get. This was the first Humanist funeral I’d been to. I don’t confess to be a Christian. I suppose the closest I can get to religion is Buddhism, but even elements of that don’t work for me. I didn’t like the delivery of the woman who took the ceremony. Maybe she was new to it, but her delivery was too fast, too rushed with pauses that were too long and sometimes in the wrong places. It didn’t have the solemnity of a Church of Scotland funeral, but the delivery there has a style all of its own too and its not a pleasant one either. I’d guess it’s only someone who knew the person who has died who can really speak about them, from the heart, and that’s what the people listening want to hear.

We went to the ‘tea’ afterwards and met a few folk we knew. I liked the way Andy, JIC and Chris shared memories of Chris’s dad. That’s more like what folk do at a traditional ‘tea’ after a funeral. They remember the good bits in a person’s life and forgive the bad bits.

In the afternoon we went for a late lunch with JIC before he got the flight home. Unfortunately time seemed to slip away and the next thing I knew it was 5pm, we should have been on our way by then and we still hadn’t had our pudding. Eventually we got served and left for the drive into Glasgow. CITRAC was displaying its usual useless nonsense. “Nineteen minutes to the airport” it said. Actually it took nearly forty five minutes through what is euphemistically called ‘Rush Hour’, except nobody was rushing. Finally dropped him off at the airport to go through security. We turned round and started to drive home when Scamp suggested we go for a coffee at Braehead. That gave just enough time for the congestion to decrease and allow us to drive at a fairly steady pace back home through the rain. The plants need the rain Scamp said. She’s probably right.

Today’s PoD was made possible by that rain on the back bedroom window. I liked it. I called it “Through the fish-eyed lens of tear stained eyes” lyrics from The Final Cut by Roger Waters. Seemed somehow fitting.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go dancing. Let’s hope it’s a happier day than today.

Just a walk – 15 April 2019

No photos, just a walk.

Lunch today was yesterday’s Pakora and Onion Bhajis reheated and they tasted better than they did yesterday. Crunchier anyway. Ten minutes @ 180º if you’re asking. After that Scamp went out to get herd Gems and bring them by to use the shepherd’s terms. Just before they arrived a racket started in No 38. It sounded to me like an orbital sander being used on the floor. That was strange, because on Friday night the exact same noise was coming from No36. We are being surrounded by sanders! I’d had enough. After a quick catchup with Margie who had done more painting than me in the last fortnight, I grabbed the Oly bag and drove down to Auchinstarry.

Walked along the canal and though the plantation from there back to Auchinstarry. I took two photos, but only record shots of red flowers on a bush to try to find the name of them. It was simply a walk and nothing else. It’s ages since I’ve walked along the canal and although nothing had changed much, it was very enjoyable. I didn’t need to take any photos, because I’d grabbed a few shots of a young blackbird. I’d had a look at them earlier and they looked fine, so the cameras were with me just in case I saw anything that the ever ready iPhone couldn’t manage.

Back home, dinner tonight was Spaghetti and Tuna in a Tomato sauce. A staple.

Drove in to Glasgow and helped the beginners get their heads round Setenta y Cinco. They picked it up quite quickly. Much quicker than I picked up the advanced class’s new move, called surprisingly, New Move. We also reprised one from last week now called York because it looks like The Grand Old Duke of York. Good fun, but almost undanceable in a rueda.

Just getting ready now to go and pick up JIC who’s flying in for a quick visit.

Tomorrow our day if fairly well marked out. Will explain tomorrow, DV.

Up and Running – 12 April 2019

Well, it wasn’t quite so clever this morning, but by this evening it was indeed Up and Running.

This morning was marred by some swearing because the website still wasn’t behaving properly. Then I got the idea of getting Hazy to check it out from her end. Just before we left to go and see what Leonardo had been up to since he left Mr Belkevitz art class in Cumby High, I got a message from Hazy to say she could access the new website from her end down in Londinium. This was a relief because it meant that I could tick those damned nameservers off as DONE! It was also a pain because it meant the problem was at my end. Never mind, we’d drive in to Kelvingrove, see Dippy the diplodocus and also catch Leonardo’s exhibition of drawings. I didn’t actually expect to see him there, because he’s quite a famous artist now, but it would be good to see what JB had taught him.

When we got there, everyone else in Glasgow and the surroundings was there too. We drove round for a while, but the only place we could find wanted 40p to park for 30 mins. We were so far away it would take us a good 20 mins to reach the Art Galleries. That would leave us in deficit of 10 mins just to get back to the car if we just turned on our heels and walked back. What in the name of the wee man is in the heads of the people who make up these ridiculous parking charges. It’s not as if the parking places were in the middle of shops, just bays at the side of a road through playing fields. “Sorry, it can only be five a side today. That’s five MINUTES a side. Now off you go and play, your time starts now!”

Gave up. Did try to park within the Art Gallery carpark, but judging by the number of people cruising round, there weren’t many places to be had. It looked like musical chairs. When the music stops, try to find an empty chair. Drove home. Stopped at Costa for a coffee and a roll ’n’ sausage or a tuna wrap for Scamp.

When we got home I struggled for another hour or so with words and symbols I’d never seen before while Scamp went to Condorrat, partly to get out of the road, I think. Finally I too had had enough and I walked over to get dinner. Tonight’s dinner would be a large fish supper between us. On the way over I got the picture of the cherry blossom. As I saw it fluttering in the breeze I realised the first time I took a photo of that tree was around the year 2000 when the world was young, Brexit was a word that would be disallowed as not in the dictionary, in Scrabble and a 2 megapixel camera with an f2 lens was the marvel of the age. It was an Olympus DC-2000 Z. A beautiful camera that I sold to a colleague at school and which he still owns I think. Anyway this shot took PoD on a dull day using an Olympus E-PL5 with a 12-32mm lens and a much bigger 16 megapixel sensor. Sorry JIC just a little technospeak.

After the fish ’n’ chips we had a pineapple cake each, which actually had pineapple in it, but I don’t think the ‘cream’ had ever seen a cow. Then we watched another recorded episode of Portrait Artist of the Year, before I opened up my Linx 12 and got the surprise of the day when the website opened up in the new server. I won’t bore you with the details of how and why I knew it was the new server, JIC would just moan about no Technospeak warnings. It was working. Checked on the iMac and, yes, it was actually on the new server settings. In these days of instant results, you have to remember that Virgin Media takes at least 30 hours to realise that some settings have changed and refresh its lists or something. ‘Slow’ and ‘Treacle’ in the same sentence as ‘Virgin Media’ seems to be the name of the game.

Tomorrow, no computers until at least 12 noon. Maybe a trip to the countryside somewhere.

Moving Day – 10 April 2019

Somewhere in America a big removal van turned up at A Small Orange and the man with the van started loading my website on to it.

At least, that’s how I imagine it worked. I got an email telling me that the migration had started. I hope the man-with-a-van packs everything neatly and doesn’t drop anything valuable. I know I should have insured the contents, but sometimes you have to trust the person doing the removal.

Drove in to Glasgow to go to ballroom dance class. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. The two pairs of dancers were starting their usual blame game. This time it was worse than normal and we got hardly anything done, thanks to their childish antics. I really don’t know why they go to the class. They go to twice as many classes as we do, they don’t practise, they seem to retain nothing. All they do is bitch with each other or giggle like schoolgirls. Once upon a time I had a boy in my Tech Studies class who, we swore, had his brain formatted every weekend, because when he turned up on a Monday for class, he had no knowledge of what he’d learned the previous week. This is the same scenario, except these are supposed adults.

After what felt like a lost hour, I got myself a new pair of Chinos from Debenhams. The girl who sold them asked if I wanted a Debenhams card! Eh no, I don’t know what benefits that would bring me.

Drove to Salsa and everyone in the Intermediate class listened to Jamie’s instructions and did exactly what they’d been told. Maybe not the first time, but after a few run throughs, they had it. I bet Michael wishes he had a class like that. Even the Beginners class that came after that had obviously practised and were better than they were last week.

When we got home an email was waiting for me from my new web host to say that the man had delivered the website and had plugged it in. I checked it with the link provided and it looked like it had been last night. It appears I’ve now moved into bigger and cheaper premises. Just a few tweaks and we’re good to go (fingers crossed).

PoD was a wee man standing outside the GOMA.

Tomorrow we’re going to Stirling to buy Waitrose.