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The end of the ice age – 12 December 2017

Woke up to -5.5ºc, but my weather app said it would rain by 2.30pm. Nah, I don’t think so, somehow.

Spent most of the morning clearing up the back bedroom for Jackie. You might not think so to look at it, but you didn’t see it before I started!

After lunch I drove in to Glasgow to BUY STUFF. It didn’t really matter what I was buying, I just had to BUY STUFF. Well, that’s the way it felt until I realised I’d just had a near miss with the Xmas shopping bug and decided to be a bit more pragmatic. While I was driving in the rain started, just after the predicted time of 2.30pm and walking down Bucky Street in the rain, yesterday’s Christmas Card feel completely disappeared. This was back to business as usual. After managing to get all the things I’d come for (and a few more), I met up with Jackie off her bus from Skye and we drove home still in the rain.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Thighs with Leeks and Petit Pois (peas to you), from a Nigella. It was full of the gorgeous grains of green from the peas and the subtle mild onionniness of the leeks, but mainly the golden goodness of the chicken thighs. There, that’s a better description in Nigella language!

Today’s PoD is of the reflections in Exchange Square in Glasgow.

Tomorrow, it looks like there may be some snow in the forecast. I think I may be pastel painting while the sisters hit the ‘Toon’.

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Snow and Ice – 25 November 2017

Well, for once I stayed true to my intentions. This morning I went for a cold walk in the ice and snow.

Spotted a deer standing near a pond in St Mo’s, not the big pond, but a smaller one deeper in the trees. Got a few shots of it before it took fright, bringing a bigger deer with it. I’d have liked to have got a bit closer, but that wasn’t going to happen. I was wearing my red Bergy jacket and it doesn’t blend in well with the dark trees. However I did get a few shots and that was good because I hadn’t seen any deer in St Mo’s for ages. However, it was the high key photo of Cow Parsley that won PoD.

Came back and had a shower while Scamp made some tea and toast. Lovely! That is both Scamp and the tea and toast were lovely! Scamp thought we should go in to Glasgow on the bus and I thought that was a good idea too. We took the slow bus, the X3 in and surprisingly, the driver (David, I think) was an FP. Glasgow and especially JL was absolutely jumping. I heard one woman sayin “They’re going absolutely crazy over there.” I don’t know where ‘over there’ was, but folk seemed to have decided that today was the last shopping day before Christmas, grabbing anything they could get their hands on.

We decided the Glasgow visit was a bad idea, but we’d go for lunch anyway and Pulcinella was nominated as today’s restaurant. It was a bit cold in the restaurant, but the food was as good as ever. Scamp had Minestrone and Spaghetti Pulcinella and I had Pasta e Faglioli and Penne Amatriciana, all of which was excellent.

We walked back up to Sauchiehall Street and Scamp investigated clothes shops while I browsed the book shop. After that it was coffee, a cake and home on the X3 again after just missing the much faster X28. All of this was done in a temperature that claimed it was 2ºc. I don’t believe that.

That was about it. When we got home I tried again to get the Photos app to do what I wanted and eventually gave up. Fortunately I chanced on a website that said it was still possible to download iPhoto. I was never all that enamoured of iPhoto, but I was sure it would do what I wanted. I was right. It is a much better photo management tool than the dire Photos will ever be until Apple get their finger out and make it work properly. The upshot is that my 2018 calendar is almost finished. Well, version 1 is almost finished. There will be further versions before we get to print.

Mentioning print, I think that will be tomorrow’s task, the testing and price checking of the short leet of printers to replace the old Canon Pixma whose demise I still mourn.

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Deep and Crisp and Even – 19 November 2017

It was a lovely frosty morning (-1ºc) with bright sunshine, so I decided to get up (fairly) early and go out to source some photos in St Mo’s.

Scamp then noticed that Hazy had phoned yesterday when we were out and because we hadn’t checked the phone when we got in, we hadn’t phoned her back. So she warned me that she was going to check if Hazy was free for the return call. I told her I had my phone with me and to text me if she was up for a call back. I’d got a couple of photos which you can see above and was just walking into the woods to see if there were any photogenic deer available when my phone vibrated to tell me that Hazy was indeed on the phone. I about turned and retraced my steps back to the house and had a chat with Hazy. After comparing notes on books we’d read, she went to rest and I went for a coffee.

From then on the temperature rose just enough to take away the frost without providing a comfortable temperature for a walk. As a result, after lunch I got a sketch done for my one-a-week personal challenge and started planning the Keyboard Maestro macro that would allow me to automate the playlist creation for the car player. I didn’t get far with that, but at least I did get the sketch done.

We headed out to Glasgow for the Sunday Social at Arta and decided to park in JL carpark rather than try for an on-street space near Arta itself. The reason was that tonight was the switch on for the Christmas lights and I just knew parking would be at a premium. Got parked easily in JL which was a surprise, but the crowds around George Square were much more than we had anticipated. Added to the fact that anti-terrorist blockades had been erected around the square, it took us ages to get down through the city to the venue.

Arta itself was quite quiet until just after the switch-on, then it livened up a bit. We left earlier than we’d intended, hoping to avoid most of the crowds, but came out just as the fireworks display started. Once we were on Buchanan Street and the fireworks had ended, the crowds (estimated at 20,000) were streaming out and heading for the carparks and the bus station. Got through without too much pushing and shoving and emerged onto Dundas Street from the carpark without too much problem. One punter was a bit annoyed that I actually wanted to drive my car out of the carpark and onto the road. He seemed to think he had right of way and could walk in front of me. A quick “Fuck Off” informed him of the error of this assumption. Got home in double quick time after that.

A dull, dreary, grey day with nothing much to recommend it apart from a walk in the frosty air and a phone conversation with Hazy this morning. Oh yes, and the dancing was good too. PoD was the frozen cow parsley.

Tomorrow is Monday with all the timetable that entails. It’s 4.5ºc just now and raining, so not much chance of a frosty walk tomorrow.

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Brie, Apple & Honey again – 16 November 2017

A cold clear start to the day. Blue sky and sunny, but low temperatures.

I suppose I should have gone out early to get some photos, but I didn’t and by the time we were heading out, the clouds were gathering. We drove to Clachan of Campsie, not to Wheelcraft, but to the gallery tearoom and that’s where I got my second brie, apple and honey sandwiches. If you’ve not tried it, you are really missing out. I’ve tried it on brown bread and on white now and I think brown is the winner. Last time I had it in the gallery the apple was sliced micro thin. This time they were in big chunks. I think big chunks suit the rustic theme here. Sorry, got a bit cheffy there 😉

Got caught by the rain on the way home. We were just in Torrance, so it’s true that “Down came the rain in Torrance” – Gospel Chorus. Then as we were almost home on the motorway, the rain was still falling but the sun was shining from a bright blue sky! It’s Scotland, you expect that sort of thing!

When we arrived home I did go out for an hour or so to get PoD which might look quite good, but that’s only thanks to the adjustment brush and the graduated filters that brought some life to the sky. Still, it was worth it to see the final result.

Drove in to Glasgow tonight to help out at yet another beginners class, this time in Barca.  It was a good laugh and I think we both enjoyed it.  Didn’t enjoy the walk back to the car though.  Too many wideos and jakies hanging around Glasgow at that time of night.  However, it did increase our step-count for the day.

Tomorrow is coffee with Val. The rest of the day will revolve around that.

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Caught! – 26 October 2017

Today, as promised, I drove in to Glasgow

Ostensibly I was going to buy a white pen, and a pad of coloured paper and maybe to ask for some help from one of the Apple Geniuses (or is that Genies!) and possibly to get a photo and finally, a sketch over a cup of decent coffee would help. I actually achieved all of the above, but not all in Glasgow, as you will find out.

Paperchase didn’t have any white pens nor did they have pads of coloured paper. So, it was on to Cass Art with a stop off at the Apple shop first to speak to a Genius or a Genie if one were available. I was trying to find out how to transfer the apps and their data from the Mambo No 5 to the new and as yet unnamed new iPhone SE. I got an answer and it seems like it would work, but I have to confer first with my own Apple Genius to make sure they spoke the truth. Anyway, one tick on the list.

Cass Art had the pen and it looked as if it would work for my purpose. Unfortunately the sales person was having a long discussion with someone I took to be a customer, but who turned out to be the manager. It was only when she walked round to the stand by the tills to continue the conversation that I realised she worked for Cass Art. Both of them continued to blank me as I stood waiting to be relieved of my £3. Only when I turned to replace the pen in the rack did one of them, I don’t know which, ask if I needed any help. I told them I didn’t and left. This is the second, and last time I’ve had problems with Cass Art.

With Cass Art off my Christmas card list, it was down to Millers and glory be, they did have the pen and the paper. A bit more expensive than Cass, but much better to deal with. That made three ticks on the list.

Continued my sojourn to The Fort looking for a book (it wasn’t on the list.) Didn’t get it, but I did get a photo which you will see above. Only one task to complete, the sketch possibly over a cup of coffee.

I was early for once getting to Costa in Cumbersheugh and settled in the only seat available. What better place to do some sketching than over a cup of coffee. I decided that the lady at the next table would be a good subject to sketch. Didn’t notice that she’d seen me. She even came over to speak. I’m not sure if she was impressed with the sketch, but she was impressed with my bravery, drawing in public. We discussed Landscape Artist of the Year for a while and then she took her leave. Whoever you were, lady with the striped top in Costa today, thanks for speaking. Brightened my day! Also, the last tick in the last box.

Tomorrow it’s the in-house version of Masterchef (without the fat baldy bloke.)

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Follow the yellow brick road – 24 October 2017

Today we went to Ikea, where you have to follow the ‘yellow brick road’ round the store, except …

Actually, the yellow brick road with the arrows painted on the floor has been modernised, updated and illuminated.  Now its a light that projects an arrow on the floor.  How enterprising.  I found it less intimidating.  I could stand under the projector and the arrow disappeared.  That meant I was free to go wherever I pleased, without being condemned to go where the arrow pointed, because I was controlling the arrow!!  Excellent.  We just browsed the ground floor of the store because we were looking for a floor lamp.  We didn’t find one that Scamp liked.  I got a frame for the pastel picture and tonight I cut a mat and framed it.  It’s hanging behind me now, but it’s a bit dark in this corner and I think I might move it.

When we came out of Ikea at Braehead, Scamp wanted to go for a cup of coffee, so me being a bit flash, typed Costa into the satnav and sure enough it showed all the nearby Costas.  Off we went following the directions.  Only, it took us down a filter lane at a roundabout, then promptly changed its mind and decided we should have gone straight ahead.  Worse still, the filter lane became the slip road on to the motorway, taking us back into Glasgow.  After much swearing and harrumphing by me, we settled on going to  the Costa at Robroyston instead.  Much easier to navigate.  Possibly the worst part of the whole escapade was that I KNEW where the Costa was, I was just following the sat nav to see if it knew an alternative route.  I’ll be more circumspect when taking its instructions in future.

Back home I started looking for a website where I’d used a Java powered page that worked out optimal rebates for a picture mat.  That’s the edge bits round the aperture that you see the picture through.  I found the references to the page, but apparently the page itself has disappeared.  Every link gave an error 404 (not found).  Gave up eventually and took some useful information from a picture framers forum, then started to write my own program in Excel.  Mine only uses metric sizes, although I did see one written for Excel where you could put in sizes down to 1/16th inch accuracy.  I’m still not sure how the writer managed to code the conversion to decimal inches and then back again to fractions for the output.  Too much work.  I remember working out sizes  of bolt groups for steelwork using feet and inches and being so relived when we went over to the metric system.  Anyway, I got it working and it produces a decent mat.

After the mammoth calculations in Excel, I went out to St Mo’s to clear my head and try to get some photos.  It had been a decidedly wet drive in through Glasgow in the morning, and a dry and bright drive home, but by the time I went out for a walk it was just our usual dull.  Today’s photo I liked because of the twists and turns in the dried weed, but the ISO was 1000!

Yes, I did open the box.  I’m sure you knew I would Hazy. Like I said in the description of the sketch on Flickr:

*I opened the box, and inside was a thin slab of black glass with a silver rim. Amazingly this slab of glass can bring me pictures from all around the world and allow me to speak to people thousands of miles away. I call it black magic!*

When I look back on it, it’s been a busy day.  Most days are now we’re retired.  When did we ever have the time to work, or to put it another way, what did we have to give up to allow us to work?

Tomorrow the weather should be better than today.  We may go out and take pieces!

 

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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.

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Glasgow in the Rain – 18 October 2017

Now, I like Glasgow. It has beautiful architecture, some fairly decent shops and a good Cafe Nero, but Glasgow in the rain is like any other city in the rain – dismal.

I imagine that’s what the picture at the top shows. Its description on Flickr said “It’s Scotland. We specialize in gloomy.” It was my PoD. I’ve become a lot less invasive with my editing since I got the iMac. Up until last week I was applying the techniques from the French bloke Serge Ramelli. They work well, but give a rather false look and everyone looks the same or similar. Since I got the iMac I’ve been experimenting with a much simpler and less extreme group of settings and I like that better than Mr Ramelli’s technicolor marvels.

Photography aside, we went to Glasgow to get a party wig for Scamp who is going to said party on Friday. It’s to be standard Halloween fare for the ‘Witches’. Lots of drink, lots of food and a good laugh. Luckily it’s girls only, so I am spared the excesses. Also luckily it’s someone else’s turn to drive, so I have Friday night off. We did eventually find a wig. Nothing very special, but at least we got one. Not in Glasgow, though. Everything there was overpriced and tacky. I had forgotten how many pop-up shops appear like toadstools around autumn. Each shop selling the same tat for the same price. Is there a cartel running here simply to fleece the unwary at Halloween. I know these same shops will disappear overnight on the 1st of November, then pop up again on the 2nd November disguised as jolly Xmas shops.

Spent the afternoon writing an email complaint to Vodies. Maybe that should be Vogons, because “Resistance is Useless” (Not ‘Futile’ – that was Star-trek.) Then set about cataloguing my photo collection using Lightroom. So far I’ve got from 2000 to 2004. A little bit at a time is the way to do it.

Salsa tonight was interesting for a while, but the 7.30 class was boring because it has shrunk again to about six couples, three of whom are ‘advanced’ helpers. Not at all good. It’s due to close in three weeks.

Today’s sketch is the phone. Not nearly my best and yesterday’s (done this afternoon!) was little better. Must try harder.

Tomorrow? Maybe Falkirk.

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Blowing up a storm – 16 October 2017

This was a strange day. So dull when I woke I thought I’d woken in the middle of the night. It wasn’t until I looked at my watch I found out it was almost 8.30.

It didn’t get much lighter for the rest of the day. I was going to say “for the morning” but really the rest of the day was just as dull. What did happen around midday was the sky turned a dirty yellow/orange colour. Almost a sick, jaundiced looking colour. Later I found that the sky over Britain was this colour because of Storm Ophelia which was dragging up Sahara sand with debris from forest fires in Portugal and Spain playing a part. It wasn’t until much later in the afternoon that the sky cleared and normal white clouds returned. Then the clouds parted and blue sky appeared. For a very short time the sun even shone. That was when I took the PoD which is, of course the sweetpeas and the rose in the tumbler . Scamp was being my ‘studio helper’, holding the A2 sheet of white backing paper. I liked the detail that was rendered and the fact that the white flowers were just slightly lighter than the background and stood away from it.

I also used the ‘brighter’ light to complete today’s sketch which is a Self Portrait. I think it’s a fair likeness although my eye is too large. The scruffy beard and all the dark lines on my face are fairly accurate. In the morning I finished yesterday’s Inktober sketch. Or to be more exact, I drew yesterday’s sketch. It’s an old cow bell. It was my dad’s and he got if from his sister who was in Malaya back before WW2. I’ve always liked it and today was its time to shine, although I didn’t do it justice. I thought it would be an easy thing to draw, just a sphere with some bits cut out. It’s not that easy at all. I have to learn to treat subjects much more carefully. Look and examine before putting pen or pencil to paper.

Driving in to Glasgow tonight was ‘interesting’ with the winds associated with ex-Hurricane Ophelia battering us on the motorway. Coming home was not quite so bad for some reason, but we don’t get the worst of the winds until the early hours of the morning. Poor Ireland has been battered all day. Salsa itself was good tonight. Much better than last week and at the end, Jamie G offered to demonstrate the three moves we did tonight for us to video them. That’s a great idea. Scamp was the model and I think she did very well, although she wasn’t impressed.

Well, no communication from Vodafone today despite being told by Omkar yesterday that: “You would get the confirmation tomorrow.” I can quote that because Vodie sent me the transcript of our conversation. I like evidence when I’m formulating my complaint!

No plans for tomorrow. We’ll see what the wind is like.

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Photos, Phones and Probably a Sketch – 12 October 2017

Today I intended to get the bus in to Glasgow just to have a wander, probably gather some photos and maybe get a sketch completed. That was the ‘fun’ stuff, I also wanted to get a baseline price for a new phone contract. That wouldn’t be fun.

As it turned out, Scamp offered me a lift to the station, so I got the train in instead. When I got to the station there was a fair commotion with four police cars and two ambulances sitting outside. The reason for the stramash was lying on the floor in the corridor that takes you down to the low level station. One of the ceiling panels had fallen. Usually these panels are fibreboard or plasterboard, but this part of the station dates to the 1960s and this panel was concrete! Cordons had been set up, police were taking statements from witnesses and at least one wee Glesga wummin who wanted to be seen to be ‘assisting police with their enquiries’. There were also a few ambulance personnel looking for someone to assist. Thankfully only one person was injured, but looking at the size of the concrete lumps, this could have had a totally different outcome.

I walked up Sausage Roll Street and found a sketch for the day. It wasn’t a cold day, but the wind blowing over Garnethill was cutting. I took about 15 minutes to get the bones of the sketch of St Aloysius Church. Even at the second attempt I managed to truncate it and removed the dome at the top of the tower. However, I think I got the gist of the building. Went in to Mandors and got some fabric to make a bow tie for myself. It’s printed with cameras. Quite apt I thought.

From there I walked down to Argyle Street via a couple of art galleries, looking for inspiration. Into Cass Art to browse. Just window shopping. They too had a gallery where a group of 25 artists were selling their work, so I wandered round looking for inspiration. Inspiration is a fickle thing. I found it in the first galleries, but in the Cass Art gallery I realised that my own work was actually not bad. After all this fun stuff, it was time to face Vodafone.

As predicted, all they offered was the blanket price from the website. I could have sat on my backside in front of my shiny new iMac and got that same price. In fact I had. I was told that if I was in the police, army NHS or any of 5,000 other occupations or companies, I was eligible for a discount (allegedly!), but upgrading was not due a discount. Staying with a company was not due a discount. That said, the salesperson had originally told me that I was not eligible for an upgrade because I was outwith the 70 days until the end of my contract. Also, apparently I’d phoned the shop at some point in the last week. Believe me, I wouldn’t waste any of my unlimited minutes phoning them. I just wanted a baseline price and I got their laughable offer, then left.

Scamp had offered to pick me up from the station, so I just got the train back after checking that it was still ok with her. Had a quick roll ‘n’ cooked ham as a late lunch and then grabbed the Nikon and went for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s where I got PoD which was the spider. I was tempted by the pic of the bloke playing slide guitar on Bucky Street. It was when I got the photo home I realised that only his right hand had false nails. Presumably to help with picking the strings. I’d love to have been in the nail bar when he walked in!

Phoned Vodafone customer service later and spoke to someone sensible who sold me the same deal as the salesman in Glasgow, but with a 20% discount. I know I could have pressed for 25% or maybe eve 30%, but he had beaten the Tesco price and it meant I was getting a new phone with more storage space for less than I paid two years ago. Result!

All of that and Seabass for dinner. A good day!

Looks like overnight rain and a wet morning commute, except we don’t commute any more. We just wait for the sun to shine, which may happen around midday with a bit of luck. No plans for tomorrow. May do the first backup of the iMac. Need to think up a name for the new phone. The last one was ‘Mambo No 5’. I’m thinking this one might be ‘Isa.’