Avoiding the Christmas party – 3 December 2018

Today, being Scamp’s Gems Christmas party, I had already made plans to avoid it.

The day began around 8.30 when worries started demolishing next door’s bathroom. By the noise, I thought there was a whole squad of them with sledgehammers and maybe a small JCB, but there were only two and they must have been working on piecework by the look of things. Toilet, wash hand basin and loads of pipe work littered the garden. I’d say it was the noise that got us up, but we too had work to do. The preparations for the party wouldn’t fix themselves.

Most of the work was down to Scamp, but I did help with the tidying up, even to the extent of Dysonning the living room and the downstairs hall. Between us we increased the size of the table by inserting an additional leaf. I carried the iMac upstairs and cleared away more of the clutter. Finally, when Scamp went to collect Margie, I made myself scarce and drove in to Glasgow.

My first stop was Tiso to see what they had in the way of waterproof boots. My two or three year old Clarks Goretex boots simply aren’t doing the job any more. Last week I returned home with two wet feet after a less than demanding walk across some boggy fields. I think I need to put the old boots out to pasture and buy a new pair of good walking boots. In Tiso I spoke to a really helpful Latvian sales girl (I couldn’t place her accent, so I had to ask her) who explained the difference between fabric boots and leather ones. Yes, I know it’s obvious, but she explained the science part. That the water in boggy areas is acid and it rots the fabric, but more importantly the thread that holds the boots together. Leather boots have less parts, so less thread. It may be nonsense, but it sounded logical. Once I’ve looked around and seen what’s on offer elsewhere I’ll start trying some on.

Next I wandered round Glasgow’s Winter Wonderland. Well, it was Winter and I was Wondering where all these people were going. The town was mobbed and it was a Monday and just at the start of December too. Gave up eventually and drove home, but not before I got today’s PoD which is almost a panorama of the Glasgow skyline.

Salsa tonight was interesting, but the 7.30 class is getting smaller, much smaller. I fear for its survival. We danced one new one without a name and one called Pan Cortado which sounds like a mixture of a dessert and a coffee drink. Not sure if he’s got it quite right.

Tomorrow we are waiting for the ‘Rat Man’ to come, although with all the banging and drilling with next door’s new bathroom, I think the rodent will have packed its bags and gone somewhere quiet.

A blusterous day – 28 November 2018

That’s what Pooh called it. We call it a Scottish winter.

It was just a wee bit wet when we woke, but soon Storm Dorothy made its presence felt. Now Storm Dorothy was named by the Portuguese weather forecasters. I may be wrong, but I don’t think ‘Dorothy’ is a typical Portuguese name. Like I say, I could be wrong, but it just doesn’t have that Iberian feel to it. Anyway, that aside, Storm Dorothy was rolling in and by the time we were walking down through Santa’s Wonderland that used to be George Square in Glasgow on our way to dance class, it was beginning to get quite blowy and the rain was ferocious too.

We had a private lesson today because we were the only ones at our level in the Jive class. That meant Michael could focus his laser-like gaze on all of our mistakes, and there were a few of them. We went over the Seven Spins and learned all the little nuances we hadn’t noticed before. Waltz was similar, but finally I think I have sorted out the second part of the routine. It’s taken months, but it’s becoming clearer. I just hope we get some time to practise before next week and I can definitely clarify it in my head. By the end of the class my knee was really sore and it’s still sore tonight. It’s all to do with having to twist on my left leg twice to perform the double turn. It does work, in that it puts us both in the correct position at the correct time to go on to the promenade. It’s just puts a big twist on my knee.

Walked back up to the car park and although the rain was not as heavy, the wind, if anything was getting stronger. It didn’t stop me from getting the PoD, taken from a bus shelter looking over to a roundabout on George Square. I liked the warm colours and the movement in the horses on the roundabout.

We made the decision on the way home NOT to go to Salsa class tonight. My knee was too sore and the combination of wind and rain would make driving miserable. Shannon will probably think we are in the huff after Monday night. Let her think that!

Tomorrow, Scamp is going in to Glasgow herself, probably to go on the Big Wheel in the wind, and I’m meeting Fred for coffee.

Driving, Driving, Driving – 14 November 2018

With a bit of Dancing too!

Woke early and we were on the road and in the torrential rain. Ran into the first traffic jam within 100m. Took a diversion and we were doing well until we hit the second traffic jam at the other end of town. Another diversion and we picked up June and pointed the Juke at Stobhill. Motorway started slowing down near our turn off and then the sat nav decided we’d like to go by the ‘scenic route’, rather than the one we usually drive. That added another traffic jam to our list, but we made it to the hospital with minutes to spare, literally. I drove back home the sensible way and waited for Scamp to request a taxi.

After an hour or so I got the phone call and drove in along a much quieter M80 and picked up the much relieved sisters. The offending lump was not malignant. Dropped June off at Shona’s and headed home again.  Still raining.

After lunch we packed our bags and drove in to Blackfriars for a tortuous Jive class followed by an improving Waltz class and then finally an impossible Quickstep where Michael demonstrated not only the FishTails but also the little run you see them doing on Strictly. It may be a week or so before we’re ready for that!  It rained all the way in and all the way home

Dinner was Paella and the PoD is a hash up of a picture of the old College of Building & Printing which later became the City of Glasgow College and is now just a slab of glass and concrete that sits unloved in the centre of the city. Solarized the image in Lightroom then adjusted the Shadow, Exposure and Highlight sliders until the colours you see here appeared. Certainly not my best shot, but it ticks the box.

Tomorrow another early rise. Even earlier than today.

“If you wanna see the sunrise …” – 9 November 2018

“… Honey, I know where.”

Driving home at 7.25am we saw a glorious sunrise over Muirhead from the M80, but the day had started much earlier…

Alarm was set for 6am. Up and out after a mouthful of breakfast to pick up Shona and take her in to Glasgow Royal for her much needed op. Scamp was accompanying her and we thought she and Shona would be there for an hour at least, but I was just paying for parking when Scamp phoned to say she was ready to come home. Luckily I had time to cancel my parking request and get my money back!

Driving home is when we saw the sunrise you too can see at the top of the page. I can’t remember when I last saw a sunrise. Today’s was glorious. Back home it was coffee time before we got down to work. Made the soup and checked that the stew I’d made yesterday for the steak pie was ok and it was. Scamp was busy making her pear tart and when it went in to the oven, I made a wee loaf, hand made this time. Finally Scamp made ratatouille also know rather confusingly as ”Rats”. With us ready to go for tonight’s dinner, we headed off to Falkirk for a quick light lunch at Calders, our favourite garden centre.

When we got home there was just enough time to go for a walk to St Mo’s for some photos. None of them were deemed good enough to knock the sunrise off PoD position.  Technically I didn’t ‘take’ the photo, it’s a screen dump from my dash cam, but I’m claiming artistic ownership.

Visitors arrived on time and we made a night of it. I was most impressed with Scamp’s Pear Tart and only just in second place was my Steak Pie.

Tomorrow will be a lazy day. By the way, the title of this blog came from “Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat” by Bob Dylan.

31 Not Out – 31 October 2018

An ink sketch every day in October completed.

Thirty one sketches in ten different sketchbooks, using eleven different drawing instruments.
High points, low points. Days when I could have happily posted more than one and days when I could happily have postponed my sketch until the next day. Great fun certainly worth the effort of drawing in ink all the time. It may just have been the fact that you can’t erase mistakes, you just have to accept them. It may have been the opportunity to try different techniques with different types of pens I’d never have thought about drawing with before. Looking forward to the next challenge.

Today was dancing day and it didn’t go well. Scamp made mistakes, I made mistakes and between us we managed to screw up, not only the Jive, but also the Waltz and the Quickstep too. Maybe we were taking ourselves too seriously, maybe we were rating ourselves too highly. Whatever it was, it was knocked out of us today. Me more than Scamp, but we both had a share. We must practise before next week.

On the way home, the light was good on the big glass reflector that is 110 Queen Street and I got some clear shots of the reflections of the old sandstone buildings in it. I also tried some reflections of people in the convex glass panels near the door. The building reflections eventually became PoD after some jiggery pokery in Lightroom.

I’d counted the sketchbooks I’d used last night and the pens too, entering them in an Excel spreadsheet. Today I created that mysterious thing, a Pivot Table. I still don’t really know what I’m doing with it, but what I did worked and gave me a printable list of the things I needed to gather for today’s sketch. I cleared my drawing board and set up the pens in a cup and piled the sketchbooks up beside it and then set to to sketch it. It just seemed to flow together and when the ink work was dry I started in with some watercolour, realising immediately that I hadn’t been using a water resisting ink. However, I liked the shading the ink was producing when mixed with water, and kept it. That is the final sketch in Inktober 2018.

Salsa tonight was a re-run of Monday’s Halloween Party. Scamp and I won equal first place with another couple for the Dress the Mummy competition. I do hope Jamie G has a video of it, or even some photos. Great fun again.  What wasn’t fun was trying to thread a way through the football traffic on our way to the STUC.  I hate football traffic.

That’s about it. Successes and failures today. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Fred and Val. Looking forward to it.

Strange things afoot in St Mo’s – 27 October 2018

Off on the bus to Glasgow on the coldest day since March

Got the fast bus in to Glasgow, well the sort of fast bus. Certainly not the slow bus anyway. Wandered round JL looking at kettles! Such exciting lives we live. Then a leisurely walk down Bucky Street so Scamp could buy some Christmas prezzies (spoiler alert! None of them were kettles!). Outside the shop there was a bloke busking. When we came out, the song he was singing sounded like one by Phil Campbell and his singing was like Phil Campbell too. I’m still not sure, but it could have been him.

Got the subway to Kelvinbridge and walked up to Paesano. Had our favourite pizzas. No1 for Scamp: plain pizza with sugo, added rocket and no garlic (no cheese). For me it was a straight No5. We even had an ice cream each to finish (on the coldest day since April). Bumped into Dr Barbara and Callum with the boys in Paesano. Got the train back into town and went in to JL and bought a kettle!

When we got home I took a walk to St Mo’s and there was a fair buzz about the place. Lots of groups setting up stalls and things. I think it must have been from the Secondary school. Everything with a Halloween theme of course! Pumpkins spread all along the boardwalk and the seat in the park covered in fake spiderweb and covered in giant spiders. I got a few shots although the light was really low by that time.

PoD, however came from the Teazer in Glasgow. A reflection in a shop window.

Today’s sketch was another from the photograph library. It came from 2017 and is the church across the fields from JIC and Sim.  Slightly better than a place marker, but not by much.  Must try to get more sketching done outside in the real world.  Only four more days in Inktober 2018.

Tomorrow we have no plans. It’s a long time since I’ve been able to say that.

Dancing, dancing all the day – 24 October 2018

Title comes from a Petula Clark song (Google her).

Didn’t sleep well last night. Partly my own fault for finally dragging myself up the stairs long after midnight. Tonight I’m hoping to be a bit earlier.

Intended getting the train in to Glasgow today, but there were no spaces in the carpark at the station, so there was nothing for it but to drive there. Had a bit of a scare in the multi carpark. I seemed to lose drive, reversing into a space. Helluva shuddering coming from the car too. Finally gave up and drove up to higher floor and parked without problem. Finally sorted it out in my head. The floor in the multi is paint concrete and the space I was reversing into was directly opposite to where they wash the cars. I presume some of the detergent had got on to the roadway, either that or some wax and the anti-skid had kicked in on the Juke. It hasn’t done anything like that before or since.

Walked down through the film stage that is Glasgow city centre this week. They are filming part of the Fast and Furious franchise. It certainly seemed to bring a load of spectators out to watch the fun. We were going to ask if they needed any dancers, but we didn’t really have the time.

Jive was good, except we didn’t get a chance to show off our ‘Timesteps’ routine because we were on to a new set of move. Waltz was good and we got some tips on how to smooth it out more. Quickstep as working too. It’s all definitely getting better. We seemed to get the thumbs up from Michael for our efforts. Much happier today.

Drove home, and as I said never noticed any problems, so the detergent theory seems likely. Couldn’t be bothered going out to take photos when we got back and anyway, the light was disappearing fast. Must check the sunset times tomorrow. Finally decided to do a tabletop shot of pastilles bottom lit by an LED lamp. Quite liked it. Took a long time to set up, but didn’t need so much post-processing.

Salsa tonight was interesting. Working with the level 4 class and they were doing Ellie, Ceo and an old one, Cambio. I’d forgotten that one. Scamp thinks there will be another amalgamation of classes. Most of the 6.30 class could join the 7.30 class without too much difficulty.

Inktober sketch is of my iPhone SE. It’s not the best, but it’s done ….

Tomorrow Scamp has a gig. I may go for a walk if the light is decent and I can gee myself.

Just another Wednesday – 17 October 2018

Wednesdays are the bane of my life just now.

There’s no time to think on a Wednesday. We have a couple of hours in the morning, then it’s the drive in to Glasgow, followed by an hour’s dancing. Drive back home and another couple of hours later we’re driving in to Glasgow again for Salsa. Back home and post the photos, do the sketch if it’s not already done and write the blog. It seems non-stop. Yes, it’s self inflicted. Yes the dancing is enjoyable, but some days it just seems too much. Today was one of those days (if you hadn’t guessed!)

Dancing was tough today. We’d practised the moves on Monday night and again today before we went out. When we got there, we started with a different Jive routine and maybe it was that, that put me off my stride … literally. Waltz is still getting better, but I still need to make it smoother and faster, especially the turns. Quickstep is the same. It needs to be slicker. Tango we haven’t done for weeks now and it came as a shock to realise how little I could remember. It also plays with my head, changing the rhythms and steps with three ballroom dances in half an hour. That’s just 10 minutes for each. I felt like Worzel Gummidge with the wrong Dancing Head on. Next week it will be better I’m sure, especially if they play  the Scarecrow Hop!

When we got home I took the ‘Big Dog’ out for a walk in St Mo’s. The light was beautiful, but there was nothing interesting to photograph in it. I finally settled on the larch needles almost ready to fall as PoD. Walking back I watched a couple of swans going at it hammer and tongs. I’m guessing that, as they were two males, it was a fight to see who would be the dominant male. I’m not totally convinced the fight is over, this may only have been round 1. I’ll check back in the next few days.

Drove in to Glasgow and found that the time to the SECC was 43 minutes. Usually it’s around 10 minutes. The M8 was like a badly managed car park, but I managed to take a different route to our normal one that got us the STUC (not to be confused with the SECC!) by 7.30pm. Start time. Class was interesting with a variety of moves. New move for them was Ellie.

Sketched the beer bottle and glass while I was half watching The Apprentice. I think it may have run its course now. It’s formula is fairly predictable as are the contestants. It passes a mid-week TV slot, but is rarely worth wasting time on.

I think today was just a bad day. Tomorrow will be better. We may go out somewhere, but where I don’t know.

Now that’s much more like it – 14 October 2018

A much better day today. For once we thought the weather was trying to please, not punish.

Woke to milky white skies, but as the day progressed, so did the quality of the weather. By midday there were definite signs of blue skies and sunshine. Now that is more like the thing. I made the most of it by taking some shots of the light shining through the sweet pea leaves and also grabbed a shot of a hover fly on one of Scamp’s yellow flowers. I don’t know the name of the flower (or the hover fly), but I liked the shot. Immediately afterwards, Scamp decided it was time to strip out the sweet peas, so I was hoping that I’d got those shots cleanly. There would be no going back for more.

After lunch I decided that I wasn’t going to sit around all day and got my boots on and went for a walk along the canal and across the plantation to the old railway. I’d intended walking back along the side of the Garrell Burn, but with all the rain we’d had in the last week, the path was flooded in a few places, so I satisfied myself with taking a few ‘selfies’ using the Samyang. You’ll have to go to Flickr to find the evidence. Just click on the Picture of the Day at the top of the page to be redirected. With the road blocked, I walked back along the same path I’d taken to get there, and back along the canal. That’s where PoD came from. This was taken with my new iPhone app, Procamera. The amazing thing about it is the ability to save images as RAW files, meaning that post-processing is possible in Lightroom. That explains the superb photographic quality of the shot. Sorry JIC, a little bit of technospeak slipped in there.

Came home and decided that Scamp’s Chicken Broth tasted so good that I’d rather have that than go dancing in Glasgow. Anyway, although Scamp claims that her ankle is ok, we both know that she lies through gritted teeth where dancing is concerned. We backed out and stayed at home, rather than go to Mango. Chicken broth for dinner followed by chicken omelettes. Just lovely.

I’m really pleased with today’s Inktober sketch. I did something similar last year, or maybe it was in February this year, anyway, it’s a bit of a drawing within a drawing if you see what I mean.

That was about it for a lovely day and while watching Countryfile (without the despicable ‘Tom’ or John Craven) we saw the long range weather forecast for the week and the temperature is to drop tonight, but there will be much less rain and wind which is a blessing.

Tomorrow is Gems, so I may go for a swim or failing that, a run on Dewdrop.

It rained – 13 October 2018

All day, it rained.

As predicted by the weather fairies, it rained all day. It started off fairly light in the morning, but soon it grew more persistent and heavier as the day progressed. We decided to take the bus in to Glasgow with the sole purpose of having a decent lunch somewhere. Scamp suggested Sarti’s and I suggested Charcoals. We went with her choice, but first we had a wet walk down Buchanan Street and into the St Enoch Centre to view the artworks in The Unexpected Artist gallery. As usual there were some good paintings, one or two excellent pieces and a variety of things at exorbitant prices that we wouldn’t give house room. Worst today was a large canvas of the Rest & Be Thankful in Argyll priced at an eye-watering £960. Honestly, on a bad day I could paint something like this, hang it on the bedroom wall and cover it with white gesso in disgust the next day. It might just have been worth £9.60 for the canvas, but only if I was being very generous. There were others in the same style, but this was by far the worst. Such a shame to see a little watercolour of a hare for £900 less, painted with much less paint and lots more skill languishing among the rubbish on display. It’s a great place to visit, because it reminds you that even your worst paintings and sketches aren’t as bad as you think, but that there are also works to strive for.

Bumped into Val again. Don’t see him for ages, and then we bump into each other two days in a row.

Walked back up to Sarti’s for lunch. Cauliflower and Bean soup for starter with Sea Bream and Veg for Scamp and Penne with Meatballs for me. Delicious. Maybe we’ll go to Charcoals next time. Walked back to the bus station and got the bus home. Well, got the bus to Condorrat and walked the rest in what had become a light drizzle. Maybe Sunday will be better after all!

PoD was a grab shot just outside the bus station. Liked the light through the trees and the wind blown leaves on the pavement. Sketch was a pencil sketch inked in with a Micron 0.3 of the new Ian Rankin book I’m reading.

Tomorrow we may go dancing to Mango in Glasgow if Scamp’s ankle is ok. Weather fairies predict slightly drier weather.