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.

Dancing again – 10 October 2018

It was a lovely day today. Just like summer … in October!

I kid you not, blue sky wall to wall with just a few white clouds to disturb the monotony of all that blue. Even better, it was warm. Didn’t do much in the morning, just tackled my daily sudoku. Drove in to Glasgow and marvelled at the beautiful day after all the torrential rain we’ve had. Walked down to Blackfriars and struggled a bit with the Timesteps in Jive class. Next we got some pointers for the waltz and were actually Best In Class at Quickstep. Maybe that would be better phrased as Best of the Rest, because the Rest were struggling. Coffee afterwards to recap on our successes and work still in progress. PoD was shot in Queen Street. Just the hand of a mannikin reflected in a shop window.

Driving home the temperature reached 22ºc and I knew Scamp was champing at the bit to give the front grass its last cut before winter sets in. She got it done. I got my sudoku solved. I also got today’s sketch done. Just my wee Lamy pen getting it’s ink refill. I’d actually intended going for a run on the bike, but better to get the essential things done first, then the things that aren’t quite so important.

Drove to Salsa and re-learned Bueno with the level 4(?) class. George Brown made an appearance. As usual he tried to wind me up asking about my painting, but it’s easy to misdirect him. Anyway, it’s not me he’s interested in! Spoke to a couple of people I hadn’t seen in ages. That’s what’s good about the AdS classes, people leave and then return a few years later with stories to tell.

Reset all my passwords for mail from dhcampbell, just in case.

Tomorrow I may take the bus in to Glasgow just for a walk in the rain. This hot weather can be very boring!

A new pair of glasses – 4 October 2018

Well, three new pairs actually.

Scamp was going out for coffee with Isobel this morning and was meeting her at 10am. I was also going out, but Scamp didn’t know it. Y’see, we have to rewind to yesterday to see what’s going on here.

On Wednesday’s when we go to Blackfriars for ballroom, we pass this wee charity shop with really interesting window displays every week. Usually it involves some old cameras and lenses, surprisingly. Yesterday, when I was ogling some 20th century photographic accessories, Scamp was looking in the other windows, the ones with boring antiques in them. One of those ‘boring antiques’ was a set of six wine glasses. We agreed they were good looking glasses and we’d go and have a better look after dancing. We didn’t go back. We were too busy discussing Ladles, Lindy Hops and Time Steps.

Probably before Scamp got to the bottom of the road this morning, I too was in my car and off in to Glasgow. Got to the shop, checked the glasses for damage, couldn’t see any. Paid for them and was back just after 11am. Job done.

I guessed I’d have just over an hour before I was going out to the physio and that’s when Inktober No 4 was drawn. It’s one of Scamp’s favourite roses, Sheila’s Perfume. Yellow and tinges of red and so well named with its heavy perfume. It took just over 30 minutes of controlled drawing. Not my usual scratchy rough sketching with loads of construction lines. Just careful measuring by eye and placing the lines on the paper. Used thick and thin lines to give a degree of form to the drawing. One in the bag.

I got a message from Scamp just before I left for the Physio to say she was going for a swim after the coffee. Physio gave me some more a good going over checking ligament and hamstring before zapping me with the laser and then sticking pins in me. While the needles did their work he gave me a book to read, Chris Hoy’s book How To Ride A Bike. Very, very interesting. It reminded me of a book I had back in the ‘80s Richard’s Bicycle Book, but updated for modern cycling equipment. Hadn’t realised how time was passing until he came back to remove the needles half an hour later. We were both agreed that the knee is back to normal after my twisting and turning had angered the ligament and then the hamstring. He signed me off but reminded me that if it comes back, I’ve just to give him a ring. I hope I don’t need it.

As I was walking out I got a text from Scamp to tell me that she’d found the parcel I’d left for her. I decided to go to Tesco to get a bottle of red to christen the glasses and to celebrate my sign-off from the physio.

Dinner tonight was Stir Fry, one of Scamp’s specialities. It was good, so was the wine from the new glasses.

Today’s PoD was Chestnuts. It looks simple but it was tricky lighting. I wanted the light from the window to be in front of the camera, but this created deep shadows which needed lightening. I did this with an A2 sheet of paper with a hole cut in it, big enough for the camera lens to poke through. This gave me a big reflector that threw the reflected light back into the shadows. Simple sometimes is best.

Tomorrow? No plans. No subterfuges!

Urban Sketching – 3 October 2018

Out early to the Royal Infirmary and a bit of Urban Sketching.

In, Scamp delivered and the car park was full, so on to the next car park being careful of course not to scrape the car! The second car park, which was just across the road, was almost empty. So were my pockets! Only 80p in cash and a fiver in my wallet. Unfortunately the parking ticket machine didn’t take paper money and the minimum amount was £1.60, exactly double what I had in my pocket. On to plan 2, or is that plan 3. I was pretty sure I could park on Ladywell, the long street between the Necropolis and the Cathedral. Loads of spaces and the parking meter that had a minimum charge of 20p. Obviously the cheaper side of town. Parked!

Went for a look at the Cathedral, because I don’t like going to the Necropolis. It has a bad feeling. I did a 20 minute sketch that covered the basics, but wasn’t at all brilliant. It was one in the bag. It had started to rain as I was finishing, so I made my way back to the car. Just got there when Scamp phoned to say that was her finished, so I drove back to car park 1 and picked her up.

With a bit of time to kill, we drove back in to town, parked in Buchanan Galleries and went for a coffee. The place was ram jam full, so I went back to the car and got my sketchbook and assigned myself 20 mins to sketch Buchanan Galleries while Scamp went window shopping in the Galleries. While I was walking down Buchanan Street I crossed paths with a *STAR*. DI Jimmy Perez (AKA Douglas Henshall) had just walked into Sketchers wearing that same donkey jacket he wore all through the Shetland series! Got my sketch done, but it was a bit ropey too. Having said that, it was better than the Cathedral sketch from earlier. Met Scamp and we went to see if Nero was any quieter. Thankfully it was, but my coffee wasn’t much better than the last time I’d been there. In fact, that might be “the last time I’d been there” for a while!

After we finished our brown water, we walked down to Blackfriars, but as we were crossing the road, Who should be crossing the road but the ex Doctor himself? Peter Capaldi. Today we were really walking in the footsteps of *STARS*. Of course Scamp didn’t see him, but I turned her head and pointed it in his direction and she duly admitted that it “looked like him”. Unbeliever!
I could say “With stars in my eyes I danced down the rest of the way to Blackfriars”, but that would be pushing it, wouldn’t it? Anyway, we had plenty of time, so we dropped in at Paesano first for a couple of pizzas which came straight from the oven and were delicious. Sat amazed watching a bloke holding his fork as if it was a dagger he was stabbing his pizza with. It was the most bizarre way of handling a fork I’ve ever seen.

Jive was a bit complicated, but now we have a version of ’Timesteps’ in our heads and the Quickstep is firming up too. Waltz is definitely looking a lot better. Much cleaner turns help there. On the way home I picked up today’s PoD, “Sinusoid” which is the curved marble seating in Brunswick Street..

Home and a quick look at today’s sketches told me that there was only one Inktober No3 and it was the Buchanan Galleries. It has been cleaned up a bit and had a couple of watercolour washes applied, but it looks much better now. A worthy winner.

Salsa tonight was enjoyable, but the drive in was a nightmare. Crash just at the off slip for Great Western Road meant a lengthy detour, but we still caught a bit of the 6.30 class to add to our hour with the 7.30 class. Bumped into some old friends who were waiting for the 8.30 Thriller tutorial.

Tomorrow Scamp is out for coffee with Isobel and I’ve got a 1pm appointment with a man with a laser.

Dancing, Pensioners and Painting – 26 September 2018

Today being a Wednesday was a dancing day. Drove in to Glasgow through the rain and high winds. Dancing started with Jive and especially the Lindy Hops, the Ladles, the Stepover and the Timesteps. Only the Timesteps set was new. New and demanding for me at least. Scamp, of course breezed through it with little or no problem. Waltz was looking good again with only a few corrections from Michael. In Quickstep we were trying to iron out the problems in the Check and Lock steps. Again, I should rephrase that to I was trying to iron out the problems with those steps. In Tango we were starting to learn a backwards turn. Honestly, ma’ heid wiz buzzin’ by the time we walked out of Blackfriars into a dry Glasgow and we went for a coffee to debrief and discuss progress.

Had a quick look in CassArt for a sketchbook to devote to Inktober 2018 which starts on Monday. One ink sketch per day, throughout the month of October, posted somewhere on-line. Mine usually go on my own Inktober group on Flickr and also on my blog. The group has been created and at present we have one member plus me, but I’m sure we’ll grow.

Scamp volunteered to do dinner tonight so I used the available time to paint another watercolour. This one, like the last two was based on a photograph. The photograph in question was a frame from a TV series about the lochs of Scotland. I think the view I chose was Plockton, but don’t quote me on that. I started painting purely with watercolour i.e. without a pencil outline. However, it became too difficult and there were a lot of perspective lines that needed to be there as a guide to the application of paint, so I set the brushes aside and lifted a pencil. Even after the pencil work had been done and the washes laid in place, it still looked a bit twee. That was when I added some ink lines and suddenly the painting looked a lot better. The pen gave the detail that was needed and the paint gave the colour. A great improvement.

After dinner (Kedgeree) we drove in to Glasgow to dance one class and it was really enjoyable. Nothing too taxing, just a relaxing dance or five! Even with two dancing classes, walking halfway through Glasgow and back, my step counter still says 9,525 steps. Somebody’s short changing me somewhere.

Today’s PoD was taken on the walk back from Blackfriars and its title is The Pensioners Day Out. I felt sorry for the poor wee bloke on the right who wasn’t allowed to join the group. Maybe he’d farted!

No plans for tomorrow. None at all!

Ali’s Rant – 19 September 2018

The Ali in question was the first named storm of the year, and it swept in this morning causing havoc and destruction.

Ali didn’t prevent us from having our weekly dose of ballroom, although the walk down from Buchanan Galleries to Blackfriars was ‘interesting’ and at times ‘challenging’. Enjoyed the Jive because we were reprising the First Seven Spins and adding on the Ladles and finally attempting to bolt on the Lindy Hops. We would have done more, I’m sure, but D&D were back and apparently had had their brains formatted securely in the intervening two weeks. It was back to the start for them, and us, because we were in the same (physical) class. Just different class!
Waltz was improving, just trying to get Rise and Fall included in our steps and with Quickstep it was the swooping turns at the start we were introduced to. So no new moves this week, but revision every so often is a great thing, especially to smooth off the rough corners of our dance routine.

After that we fought our way back up to the carpark and the run home. We had a tail wind on the way back, so didn’t feel the effects of the wind so much. Scamp is beginning to show signs of my cold which is a great pity. I’m really selfish with things like colds and flus and I like to keep them for myself, where possible.

I wasn’t keen on going out for a walk with Ali still prowling around, although he was looking like a shadow of his former self, so instead I photographed the roses that were sitting on the coffee table with my glamorous assistant holding a piece of A2 paper behind them to hide the untidy living room. The roses are Sheila’s Perfume on the left and Peace on the right.  Scamp brought them in from the garden to prevent Ali from running away with them or battering them flat.  I’m quite impressed with the photo. It’s been through the mill a bit with changes here and softening edges there, but it looks like I wanted it to and that’s what counts.

Dinner tonight was the remains of yesterday’s Aloo Saag which was actually more Saag than Aloo, but there were flatbreads and rice to pad it out and it was declared fine. Better than yesterday’s in my opinion, but that’s often the way with soups and curries.

Scamp declared herself fit enough to go to 7.30 class tonight in STUC and it was a shambles.  They just don’t listen to what’s being taught, they think they can make it up themselves and they can’t.  The class is supposed to be level 4, but they make, and keep making elementary mistakes like turning left, not right.  Simple things.  I know we’ve all done it, I’ve done it, but I stop, think and try to fix it.  They don’t.  Numpties.  It’s partly Shannon’s fault for merging classes from different levels and calling them by the higher number.  What I mean is:  There aren’t enough students in a level 3 class to make it cost effective to run.  Rather than tell them that, she lumps them in with a level 4 class and calls the combined class Level 4.  This makes it twice as difficult for the teacher of the combined class and means that the level 3 students are struggling to keep up with the level 4 pupils in the class or the level 4 pupils get bored having to repeat level 3 moves with the influx students.  It’s never going to be a good way to teach, and it’s long term pain for short term (financial) gain.  Not the best way to run a railroad … or a salsa class.

Tomorrow the car goes in for service and I am getting a courtesy car. Wonder what it will be. We’ll all find out tomorrow. Me first, then Scamp and then you lot!

Coffee and the Bridge to Nowhere – 14 September 2018

Coffee first then a walk over the bridge from nowhere to nowhere.

I met Fred for a coffee and a wee natter this morning. Just the two of us. We’d both forgotten to invite Val and Colin, so we share the blame. Topics were mainly about painting, drawing and photography. No politics for a change.

When we were done, instead of going our separate ways, we went by the new bridge. It’s not really new, it’s been there for a few years now, but few people cross it, so it’s new to a lot of folk. I’d never had cause to cross it until today, because both of us were parked on the north of Central Way that bisects the town centre and the coffee shop is on the south side. Here’s the first amazing thing. You don’t need to climb any stairs to get on to the bridge, there’s a lift. Hardly anyone crosses this bridge, but there’s a lift. The second amazing thing is that the voice that tells you “Doors Closing”, “Lift Going Up”, “Level One” etc, have a Scottish accent! The third, and probably the most amazing thing is that the lift and the bridge haven’t been vandalised yet. Maybe that’s because the lift and bridge take you from a ground level carpark to an upper story carpark. Who in their right mind builds a bridge and installs a lift to take you from one carpark to another. There is no direct access to any offices or shops from this bridge, just carparks. Maybe it was designed by a forgetful driver who couldn’t remember where he’d left his car and wanted easy access between the two possible sites. Who knows. It’s just another Cumbersheugh Anomaly. What it did do was give me PoD, so it can’t be all bad. One more strange anomaly is that when you do get across there’s a covered walkway along the side of the carpark, but only for about 20m then it just stops. The walkway continues, but then it’s open to the elements. It’s as if they just got fed up with the idea and abandoned it. It’s typical of Cumbersheugh, half finished. Walked across the wasteland of the upper carpark in the rain and drove home.

We were going out tonight to a meal in Glasgow to celebrate Scamp’s sister’s birthday which is actually tomorrow. Unfortunately she’ll be on her way to Southampton tomorrow for a holiday cruise to the Canaries. The meal was in the Premier Inn on Sausage Roll Street and although there were no sausage rolls involved, it was a good night. Most enjoyable. Again, because drink would be taken, we got the bus in to Glasgow and the bus back again. Sometimes I feel we spend half our lives on the x3.

That was about it for a wet and windy Friday in September. Tomorrow we may go east to Embra where you get a better class of weather than here.

Posh Fish ’n’ Chips – 13 September 2018

But without the chips.

Today we went to The Barras to have lunch in A’Challtainn Fish Restaurant. Drink would be taken, so we went in to Glasgow on the bus. Coffee in Nero and then a walk down Bucky Street and across the Merchant City to Glasgow Cross, then off into the depths of The Barras. I found it difficult to work out where I was for a while. There were buildings where there used to be empty spaces. There were empty spaces where there used to be buildings. Some of the buildings that were where I left them the last time I was there had now been wrapped up like Christmas prezzies and were being shot blasted. As we walked past these plastic covered buildings I wondered what it must be like working in those conditions. It was noisy enough outside, it must be (literally) deafening inside.

Thankfully Bill’s Tool Store was still there, so we had a landmark. We were headed further in to the Barras to a place called BaaD (Barras art and Design) bad acronym. We were booked for 1.30 and it was only just after 1pm when we arrived, but it wasn’t a problem because they weren’t busy. The food was lovely. Scamp had a starter of Smoked Salmon Crab Cannelloni. The Cannelloni turned out to be a slice of smoked salmon wrapped round a portion of crabmeat. My starter was Grilled Sardines. Both starters were served with Smoked Herring Roe which I can remember having when I was really young because my mum loved it. I didn’t, and I still don’t.
Mains were:
Scamp – Sorched Scottish Salmon, Lime Pickled Fennel & Smoked Mussels
Me – Crab Linguini, chilli, garlic, lemon, white wine & parsley
Both had complementary Smoked Herring Roe.
We finished off with coffee.
All in all, the food and service were exceptional. Who would have thought that there would be a posh fish restaurant in the Barras (and no chips).

After our lunch we walked back up through the town and got the bus back home. Not before I got today’s PoD outside TJ Hughes. I’m not sure if it looked better in colour or mono. I risked the colour version.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Fred at midday and dinner with June, Ian, Jackie and Murdo in the evening all being well. Might even have fish ’n’ chips!