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A cold day in the toon – 17 March 2018

Late getting up and moving this morning and there was just a hint of snow on the ground.

After last night, we decided to get the bus into Glasgow. Everybody else had decided that was the way to travel too. But the time we were coming out of Muirhead, the bus was full, especially full of weans. Scamp thought it was Dad Takes The Kids Out Day. I thought she was probably right.

Went to look for a holiday laptop in JL. Sorry JIC an Scamp, whizz on to the next paragraph.  Y’see the problem is I like using Lightroom 6 which will allow me to process the RAW files from all my cameras, but LR6 on a PC only works with Windows 64 bit. The little Linx tablet I use is great, but its version of Windows is 32 bit. For stress-free work, I need a small (11” ish) laptop that works in 64bit. I thought I’d found the ideal one in an HP Stream, but warning bells were ringing. I’d seen a lot of them for sale really cheap as refurbished models and although their spec mentioned that they used Windows 10 64bit, when I did some digging, I discovered that the big problem was that they only had 32GB of storage and now that Windows 10 automatically updates itself regularly, it fills up that 32GB really quickly with its update files. This slows the system down and even worse, the processor is a Celeron which is slow to begin with. Bah! Back to the start.

Ok, JIC and Scamp, you can take off the blindfold and the headphones and return to the blog.

After a coffee in Nero we walked down Bucky Street and along to Argyle Street. Scamp was going to M&S and I was going to Millers Art Shop I was looking for a new brush. Got one after paying more than I’d intended and Scamp added a few new holiday clothes to her Wishlist. We couldn’t decide were, or even if we were having lunch. It was so cold and there were flakes of snow blowing around and basically we had been out for an hour or so. The decision was made to just go home and order take-away tonight. Got to the bus station just as the bus started reversing, but the driver stopped and let us in. Thank you Mr Driver.

Back home we had a Golden Bowl dinner and watched TV before Scamp went to bed earlier than last night and I wrote up two days’ blog posts. PoD is called Behind Bars. It’s a shot of part of a panoramic painting on a building on Argyle Street through some scaffolding poles.

Tonight it’s snowing again. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow afternoon and we’ll get to Sunday Social. If not we’ll stay at home.

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Another early rise – 13 March 2018

Out for 9.30am today

Taking Scamp to her hospital appointment in Glasgow today. It was a bright morning, so, since it was a routing check-up, while she was in the hospital, I went for a walk to Glasgow Cathedral. That’s where I got today’s photo, more of which later. I knew I only had half an hour of ‘freedom’, so after getting some wide angle shots of the building, I sat down to draw it. Sketch it would be a better description. Bearing in mind the usefulness information from a book on sketching architecture I’d read last year, I dispensed with the details and got the important bit, the bit that interested me drawn first, then, still working roughly, added in the remainder of the building. With that down, I started adding details, again working from my centre of interest first. It’s amazing how time flies when you concentrate on something and it only seemed like a few minutes before my phone rang and it was time to meet up with the patient. Sketch was only half finished and that half was lacking sooo much detail. Not to worry, it was done. I’d drawn it with a child’s fountain pen that’s great to sketch with. I’ve learned that if you use the fountain pen upside down you can draw really fine lines with almost any nib. Great for construction lines. When you’re ready to add in the outlines, you simply turn the pen round to the normal writing position. So simple and so effective. Two pens in one.

Anyway, a photo or five in the bag and a sketch too. Not bad for half an hour’s work. Drove home and stopped at Costa in Robroyston for a coffee, or to be more precise, “a flat black is stronger and smoother than an Americano due to the coffee extraction process”. However, it still manages to taste like an Americano and cost a little more. In other words it’s a Flat Con. Once bitten …

Back home, Skyped with Hazy for a while and caught up on all  the news from her end.  Halfway through there was a helluva thump.  It sounded like a door being slammed and we thought it must have been somebody next door leaving in the huff.  It wasn’t until the Skype session was over and I looked out the window that I saw the pigeon on the front grass.  Poor wee thing had battered into the bedroom window.  Went to have a look, but it was obviously dead with a broken neck.  Bagged it and binned it.  I don’t like pigeons, but I felt sorry for it.  Now we’ve got a white ‘angel dusting’ on the bedroom window.

Scamp was out to lunch with a friend and I started to clean my coffee machine which was leaking rather than making. The reason was soon obvious, there were coffee grounds everywhere. After half an hour of scrubbing and re-assembly the coffee making process was back in full swing. Just wish I could find some way to prime it properly after cleaning. It takes ages to get rid of all the air bubbles in the system.

<boring stuff>
Next task was to process the photos. It should have been easy, but as usual it was anything but. I’d deliberately taken more than one shot of the cathedral because there were a lot of people milling around, even at that early hour. The trick to avoid that is to take a lot of shots, preferably with the camera on a tripod, mine was at home. Then you lump all the shots into Photoshop in a stack, get the prog to align them, then carefully erase the people in the top and sometimes the second top layers to reveal the building or scenery in the layers below. Sounds more complicated than it is. Then I noticed that the top of the steeple was missing from the photo, so another bit of cut ’n’ paste repaired that. Because I’d been using an ultra wide angle lens, everything was curved, so a bit more doodling on Photoshop and finally Lightroom sorted that out. It took less than five minutes to get the photos and about two hours to make the composite final image. It started out at 12MB and the composite was a whopping 720MB. Still, I got the image I wanted. All photographs are fake, remember that.
</boring stuff>

Dinner tonight was paella where I got to use the Pimenton Dulce from Fuerteventura. Happy!

Tomorrow the dance class in the afternoon is cancelled as the other two couples are on holiday this week, so we have the day to ourselves. Might have a practise session. Oh yes, and Scamp got the all-clear as we expected. Happy!!

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A daunder with St Mungo – 24 February 2018

Bright day, so let’s head for Dunfermline on the bus, we said. They do say disasters come in threes, right?

Went for the bus and missed it by about three minutes. Waited in a cold wind for the next one which luckily was due in ten minutes. After a mystery tour of Condorrat and Westfield, thanks to roadworks, we reached the town centre only to find that that Dunfermline bus has been discontinued. Oh well, nothing for it but to head in the other direction and go in to Glasgow … again. We were in on Sunday for Sunday Social. Back on Monday for dancing, on Wednesday afternoon for dancing, and again on Wednesday evening for more dancing. I was in on Thursday to get my hair cut and here we were again on Saturday. We might as well move in to Glasgow for all the time we spend in our own house. Not a happy bunny, I harrumphed behind Scamp into Nero for a coffee. When we came out the black cloud had lifted. The sun was out and we had said that we’d go for a walk in the sun, so that’s what we should do. With a lightening heart I walked down Bucky Street with Scamp and even the Bastard Drummers couldn’t dent my new good humour.

We walked right down Bucky Street, past St Enoch’s (it is St Enoch’s. I heard a wee wummin’ telling her pal on the phone to meet her at St Enoch’s and you don’t argue with wee weemin’ in Glasgow.) We walked on to the Clyde Walkway, stood for a while then walked downriver under the bridges and that’s where I saw the PoD entitled “Lady in Waiting”. As Scamp said, it couldn’t have been any other title. On under more bridges until we came to the Tradeston Bridge, known to Glaswegians as “The Sqiuggley Bridge”. Why do designers and Cooncil busybodies come up with names for bridges when they know fine well the general populace will christen it with a better name. Just build the bridge and wait for its name to appear. Saves time and money.

Back across the King George V bridge and up to Pulcinella for lunch which was decidedly second class. Not just compared to Tuesday’s food, just compared to anything I could have made. Not their finest hour.

After our lunch we walked up to Sausage Roll Street. Me to the book shop. Scamp to Bonmarche. Neither of us came out with anything. Came home on the fast bus and made a couple of coffees to warm us up when we got in.


Today’s sketch started out as a doodle and then this strange wee man appeared.

No plans for tomorrow. That’s not true, maybe I’ll get my bike out and see if it still runs. Yes, I know I said I’d do that before, but the sunny skies are bringing that day closer.

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Dancing Day – 14 February 2018

Wednesday has now become dancing day.

Today started with driving Scamp to her hospital appointment and surprise, surprise, there was a space in the car park for once. Sat with a coffee and a 2 for 1 doughnuts in the cafe reading my latest Hazy find, ‘Sourdough’. You were right H, it’s a great antidote to the heavy and sluggish ‘Rotherweird’ which was Rather to Weird for me. It’s now languishing in the ‘Maybe Later’ folder on the Kindle. Sourdough is much lighter and funnier. Thanks again H.

Drove from there in to Glasgow just before lunch time to go to Waltz and Jive classes. Before the class we went for lunch at Paesano, and the No 3 (anchovy and olive) was as good as ever, as was Scamp’s No 1 Sugo (no cheese) apparently. The only thing missing was a glass of red wine, but you can’t have drive and wine in the same sentence. If you do, it could lead to a sentence of a different kind. Waltz was a bit of a problem for me with two left feet. You see, in Salsa the man always leads with his left foot. In Waltz, the man generally does so to, but occasionally he leads with his right, and that’s where the problem comes in. My left foot KNOWS that it always leads, so that’s what it does. Here’s a quote from Robin Sloan’s Sourdough:

When you walk, you look forward, not down at your feet, because you are confident they are where you expect them to be, obeying your commands. That’s a pretty cool feature.

Well Mr Sloan, that may be true, but not if you’re trying to dance Waltz with Salsa trained feet. It is not at all a ‘cool feature.

The Jive was much better. I think we cracked it today. Well, most of it anyway.

Came home and then decided we’d go to the beginners salsa classes to give my left foot its head if you know what I mean.
Jamie G wasn’t there so we were getting Will who is quite stylish an has the enviable skill of being able to dance as a guy or a girl. I’m sure Jamie G can do it too, but he doesn’t offer to do it in class. Will had no problem with it, although some of the guys in the class found it a bit off putting to start with. Jamie returned in time for the second beginners class and it was fun as usual.

Have you seen this man?

I did a quick selfie with a photo from PhotoBooth on the iMac. That worked in two ways:
1. No squinting in a mirror and trying to draw at the same time.
2. The screensaver kicks in after 5 minutes, so that gives me a timer.
So, one sketch in three sessions, i.e. 15 minutes. Not a bad likeness I’m told by Scamp, although I think the right eye (my left) is too big. Other than that it’s not too bad.

Today’s PoD was taken walking over the walkway between the carpark and JL in Glasgow and is a silhouette of the city centre architecture under a wild sky. I like it.

Tomorrow I’m booked for coffee with Fred and Val.

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Dancin’, Dancin’, Dancin’ – 7 February 2018

Did I mention that we were dancin’ today?

Scamp was out in the morning which gave me some time to slap some acrylic paint on a piece of corrugated cardboard. It had already been primed with a mix of green, red and blue paint yesterday. Then after a quick lunch when Scamp returned, we were off the other first and second dance class.

First class was Waltz and it was not as frantic or as difficult as the first one a fortnight ago, mainly because we’d been practising. Second class immediately afterwards was Jive and it was difficult. Much more footwork than I’d imagined. After that we just drove back home

While Scamp made the dinner, I returned to the painting and blocked in the mass of the foliage, the foreground grass and the area between that would be the trunks of some trees. After dinner (fish curry made with yesterday’s daal and a couple of pieces of smoked haddock – quite delicious) we got ready for the next lot of dancing.   Luckily it would be easy because we were helping out at beginners classes.  There were too many men as usual at the first class, so I helped out with Shannon’s beginners.  A bit of a culture shock as the moves aren’t very well explained, nor is the timing very clear, but she does make sure the basics are covered again and again and again.  I won’t say any more as I would go on for quite some time.  Next class was also a beginners class, but much more fun and no poking fun at folk who couldn’t get things right, but that’s just Jamie’s way.  A much more gentle and considerate approach.

Came home and slapped the sky in and also added the highlights on the trees and it is now up for perusal on Flickr and Instagram:

Five Trees

Today’s PoD was seen at Candleriggs in Glasgow.  It should spell Candleriggs Square, but someone has nicked a few of the letters.  It reminded me of the anagram round in Countdown.  “Could I have a consonant please.”

I think Scamp is off having coffee AGAIN tomorrow, so I’ll probably clean up the mess in the back room and see what’s what.  May go dancing at night!!

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Parking and Dancing – 4 February 2018

It was a really lazy sort of day.

Lay in bed and read, trying to finish my latest book “I’ll keep you safe” by Peter May. A good tale, well told. I like his books about, or set in Lewis and Harris. Absolutely hate his Paris series, although this one did start out in Paris. Most of the book is set in the Hebrides, so that’s ok. Couldn’t quite finish it, so left the final pages to tomorrow.

Got out for a walk in the afternoon and the weather was quite pleasant with no wind, blue sky and a surprisingly mild feel, I fed some bread to the ducks, swans and gulls on the pond. They still haven’t received the memo about not eating carbohydrate, so they gobbled it down. Walked into the woods with two cameras, neither of which was switched on, and neither of which was in my hand, that’s why the deer, two of them walked right in front of me. I tried to get the Teazer out of my pocket, but I knew it was a pointless attempt. Both fled, one went one way the other went in the opposite direction. Oh well, maybe next time. I did get some photos of trees and moss and stuff, but they were just place markers to give me a PoD to upload to Flickr. PoD was the stem with the green bud, by the way.

Drove in to Glasgow to go dancing at the dungeon that is Arta. I must have driven round for about twenty minutes before I found a parking place. Everywhere, and I do mean Everywhere was full. I was past the point of giving up and going home when a space magically appeared, and a real painted-on-the-road parking bay too. Thank you whoever you were. Dancing was good. Music was reasonable considering it wasn’t Grant who was DJ. It was Shannon and thankfully not DJ Daniel.

Home to Crazy Water Fish (Cod in tomato and capers sauce) with potatoes. Quite, quite delicious.

My old Lamy pen

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was my old Lamy fountain pen. Much loved and much battered, then repaired with Tensol Cement, Superglue and finally Sellotape. Still working and still great for sketching. I’m still amazed at the response to yesterday’s pic of an orange. It was good, as my good friend Marcus Waring would say, “There were issues”.

Tomorrow is a normal Monday with all that entails. Gems and Dancing. Hopefully we won’t have as much problem parking as we had today. I usually go to the gym on a Monday, but to make sure my graphical and photographic commitments are covered, I may leave the gym until Tuesday. We’ll see. Temperature drop forecast, so I have to factor that in to the equation too. Life is so complicated some times!

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Stranger in a strange land – 31 January 2018

Today I left the real world and entered the world of darts, hems, gussets and linings. I went on a cloth hunt.

Scamp gave me a lift to the station and I caught the express train to Glasgow Queen Street. The express only makes one stop, Glasgow Queen Street. Take note First Bus. Not twenty stops. It, the train also takes about 12 minutes to get to Glasgow from Croy. The ‘Express’ X3 takes about 40 minutes. I could go on, but what’s the use. We’re stuck with the slow bus. That said, the bus stops at all the stops it’s supposed to while the train sometimes misses a station if it’s running late, but only about 20 times a day says the Scotrail representative as if that’s ok then. Ok as long as you aren’t running to a tight schedule and need to get to a meeting, or an appointment, or anything really. Ok as long as it’s not the Scotrail representative who misses his station. He probably doesn’t have that problem anyway as Jaguars and Daimlers are fairly reliable cars, so he never has to travel by public transport.

It was raining and then sleeting in Glasgow. Such a change from yesterday when the sun shone almost all day, or so it seemed to us. Today I was out getting cloth, sorry, fabric, lets speak the language of the country we’re in. I was buying fabric for a waistcoat I’m making. It’s part of the Christmas present from Scamp. She bought me the pattern and I got to choose my fabric, then I have to make it. A waistcoat seemed easy to start with, but now that I’m getting to the nitty gritty of it, it’s not that simple. However, I got some help from the assistants in a couple of shops today and now have some Tweed, some Cotton, some Viscose lining and some Satin. Probably enough to make two waistcoats. Hopefully it will look a lot better than the boxers, Hazy. I was shocked at the price of some of the material (Material is similar to Fabric, I believe). I foolishly thought it was going to be fairly cheap to make your own clothes, it’s not. And all those new words I’m picking up. Now I know how my pupils felt when they met strange things like Tenon Saws, Sash Cramps and Ball Pein Hammers. Every skill has its own terminology and I’m beginning to learn the correct words and grammar for this skill.

Got a few photos round the town when I was wandering around, but most were rejected after I’d had a good look at them on the computer. The bloke crossing the road was a grab shot, but I liked it the best, so it’s my PoD.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get the paper pattern cut out for the waistcoat and as Scamp is going out tomorrow night, I might have a go at a mock up, hopefully without too much mockery!

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Into the teeth of a gale – 28 January 2018

This morning, after a call from Hazy, we drove down to Glasgow Green for a walk and a chance to blow the cobwebs away. The wind was rising, so there was a good chance that something would blow away.

We walked down to the west end of the park, turned and had the wind on our back as we took the path beside the river which was a dirty brown colour and with more than its usual shared of tree trunks, branches and dead crocodiles floating in it. When we got to the boathouse, we were surprised to find loads of ‘oary boats’ sitting outside it, all shined up and sparkling in the well filtered sunlight. There were also a lot more cars than usual beside the building. Surely they weren’t going to have a race today down river into the teeth of a gale and all the while trying to avoid the obstacles in their path. While I was photographing the boats, Scamp was earwigging and heard that the start was to be at 1.30pm. We walked up to the suspension bridge and noticed that the Humane Society safety boats were out on the river and a few crews were practising. It looked like they were going to go racing today.

We decided that we’d go and have lunch in the Wintergarden and then perhaps, just perhaps, we’d come down and see if there were any of the silly buggers paddling down the murky waters of the Clyde. While we were waiting for our lunch (soup for Scamp, roll ‘n’ sausage for me) to arrive, I did a wee sketch. Facebook’s ’28 Drawings Later’ is just around the corner, so it’s time to get the psychomotor skills honed. It’s not brilliant, but it’s done.

With lunch done and dusted, we decided to go watch the nutters. There was quite a crowd on the bridge and Scamp engaged the bored looking man with the clipboard who told her that while we’d been stuffing our faces, the Division 1 race had gone down the river and that the Division 2 race was about to start. We waited and were soon treated to a quarter or an hour or so’s of races. Some looked fit as fleas, some looked like they just wanted it to be over so they could stand under a hot shower for a while. I got some photos. I’d previously been shooting the water cascading over the tidal weir at the end of the course and the camera was set to shutter priority with a slow speed set. (Sorry JIC that was <Technospeak>. There will be no more. ) I thought I’d just wasted two shots, but when I had a look at them they were interesting in an abstract way. Set the camera back to a sensible arrangement and went on shooting, but halfway through, got fed up and went back to ’interesting in an abstract way’ settings.  (It was one of those that got PoD – Bottom Right.) After the last pair had pulled themselves exhaustedly under the suspension bridge the crowds began to drift away to commiserate or congratulate their individual champions. Only the man with the clipboard was left, waiting for Division 3 to make their appearance. Having nobody to congratulate or commiserate with, we went home.

My marinade worked quite well. Too much olive oil and not enough herbs. Plus, the dinosaur bone really needs to be slow cooked. The ‘sear then bash into the oven for an hour’ technique didn’t quite cut it. I have another plan, and another dinosaur bone too. I’m ready to try again.

Tonight the wind got even windier and I was glad we were parked up early, although one of the trees outside was making some dangerous sounding creaky noises. It’s still blowing a gale now.

Tomorrow, it definitely depends on the weather, but no Gems! Hooray!

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Snow. Snow. Thick, Thick Snow – 19 January 2018

When we woke this morning it had been snowing during the night, but the strangest news that NLC had decided that all schools in the region would close at midday. Unheard of for eight years. Is this the end of Global Warming? Does this mean that Donald Trump is right?

It’s winter. In winter it snows. If it’s a bad winter, it snows a lot. That does not mean the end of the world, or even the beginning of the end. It just means that it’s winter. Live with it. It doesn’t mean that Global Warming is not happening, it just means that the seven year cycle thing has a bit of truth in it. This is the cold winter that happens about every seven years of so.

Today we drove in to Glasgow to buy a new microwave. The stop button on our old one had, indeed, stopped working. I could say that we were looking for a more efficient one to help reduce the effects of GW, but that would be cynical and I’m not a cynic! ;-D)))))
We went to JL, because they were the cheapest for the model we were looking for and they give an extra year’s guarantee. While we were browsing the incredible selection of microwave models we discovered that yet another Scottish celeb was following us. Sanjeev Kohli AKA Navid from Still Game, AKA AJ Jandhu from River City was pretending to be considering the purchase of a fridge freezer, while constantly trying to see what we were buying. Last month it was Nicola Sturgeon AKA Nick the Chick who was stalking us through the mens wear department. In November it was Leah MacRae who plays Ellie McLean in River City who was trying to hear what we were saying in a beachside bar in Tenerife. Before that it was Wee Boab from the same soap who followed us to Costa in Robroyston. Don’t these people have their own lives to lead? Why must they live their lives vicariously through ours? I’d offer them an autograph, but that would only encourage them. Anyway, we eventually shook off Mr K and got the microwave we were looking for.

The weather did look as if it was closing in when we left Glasgow and I was glad to just drive home and get parked up before the predicted snow hit. When we got home, the sky was lightening again and I thought I’d risk an hour or so in St Mo’s to augment the few shots I’d got in Glasgow. I had just arrived back home when the snow stared. It was on and off all night after that. Tonight’s dinner was chicken cooked in the gas oven and baked potatoes cooked in the fancy new microwave. I was impressed with both.

PoD today was Mr Grey who looked imperious, stalking through the reeds on St Mo’s pond, and NO, the middle pic is not mum.

We may stay at home tomorrow if the snow is still falling. That will also put off the autograph hunters.

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A walk in the park – 18 January 2018

Today I was the driver, taking Scamp to her hospital appointment.

Scamp thought she’d be about an hour and we were in the wilderness of Springburn, so what was I going to do for an hour in this place? Well, there was a park nearby I could see people in the park but I couldn’t find a way in to it. I think I drove almost right round it and every entrance was locked and chained. Was it to keep the locals out or the wild beasts of the park in? There was a polis car parked inside. That wasn’t a good sign. Then I found a line of cars parked in the street beside a pedestrian gate. Aha, so this is how you get in! I walked around a big pond, but there was nothing interesting to photograph. Then I found a path that took me up a hill and on top of it was what must have been a boating pond. It was now half frozen and in the thawed out half there were hundreds of ducks. That’s where my PoD came from. The one above. It’s a Tufted Duck. We sometimes get them in St Mo’s, but I’ve not seen any this year. I always think they look like Daffy Duck. I also saw duck footprints, or maybe they were Coot footprints impressed into the ice and that’s what the other shot is It was a toss up to decide what pic would be PoD, but Tufty won.

That was about it for the day. I did a bit of retail therapy at Currys in Bishopbriggs, looking for a microwave to replace our un-switchoffable present one. I also sneaked a look at 7″ tablets to replace my ageing Nexus 7 which was dragging its heels a bit. However, when I got home I researched the problem and decided that a factory reset might solve the problem. It looks as if it has. My fingers are still crossed, but it looks as if it has regained its previous speed. Now I just have to find out how to do a factory reset on a Panasonic microwave. That might be a bit more difficult.

Well, the snow is gradually disappearing and the rain that’s fallen today has helped with that. However, there’s more work to be done. Tomorrow, we have no plans.  It depends, as usual, on the weather.