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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.’

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It was still there in the morning – 8 October 2017

Yes, Santa hadn’t taken it back during the night and I hadn’t dreamed it either. There is was sitting on the table where I’d left it.

It was another day of backbreaking work adjusting, cajoling and a fair amount of swearing as anyone who knows me will testify to. Strangely, also a lot of talking to myself. Maybe that’s because I’m the only one who has the slightest clue what I’m doing. Most things are working now and the backbreaking, which was due to me stretching across the laptop in front of me to see what the iMac was telling me, has subsided a bit now that I’ve repositioned the monitor at a decent distance and angle.

Scamp is keeping an eye on me as is the wee man in the Fitbit on my wrist, getting me to take their advice and walk around a bit every hour. It’s difficult though, with this marvellous piece of equipment just sitting there in front of me. To that end, we drove down The Green this morning and went for an autumn walk. There’s a big chestnut tree near where we park and I was lucky enough to find a chessy as we used to call them when I was wee. This one was just breaking out of its shell. I stuck it in my pocket with the idea that if nothing else, it would make a PoD. As it happened, it was a view down the Clyde from behind the Glasgow Uni boathouse that got PoD. I liked the leading lines in the pic of the wee man and seagulls or to give them their Dundee name, shitehawks are always a good subject. The chessy as you will have noted became Inktober sketch number 8.

I worked for another hour or so after we came back, installing more stuff and swearing even more. For a break I went for a walk around St Mo’s before dinner, but the light was poor by that time and I didn’t get much.

That was about it. Sat for an hour or more afterwards working through the photos and being even more amazed at the quality of that screen.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go to the gym for a gentle workout and then sit in the steam room for half an hour. If I can drag myself away from the iMac.

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Living the Dream – 7 October 2017

Today we drove in to Glasgow. Parked in the JL carpark and walked down Bucky Street and said to the bloke in the Apple shop. We’ll have that one, please. That was about 1.30pm. From then until now I have been re-installing software and marvelling at the fact that all of it is, whisper it, LEGAL!

It’s an iMac 21” with a 3.4GHz quad-core Intel Core i5, 8Gig Ram and a 1TB Fusion drive. It ways almost a ton, or so it seemed when I was lugging this big white box up Bucky Street. The retina screen is simply superb. I’m over the moon.

That’s as much as you’re getting tonight, because I’m knackered.

Good Night. More nonsense tomorrow.

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Dreaming of things that could never be done – 6 October 2017

Today we went to Mugdock Park.

For the first time I actually used the satnav in the car. It worked perfectly. I knew how to get to Mugdock, but I wasn’t sure how to get in to central Glasgow from there and the satnav got me there without a single wrong turn. We went to Mugdock to go to a craft exhibition in aid of Playlist for Dementia, after being alerted to the event by a friend of ours. Exhibition was interesting, with quite a few decent paintings and also some lovely wood carving pieces. I wanted to go in to Glasgow afterwards and that’s where the satnav came into its own.

Saw some great places to photograph on the way in. Places I haven’t seen for years, like a place on Balmore Road I went looking for a job away back in the early ’70s. Didn’t get the job, got another one instead. Moving from one job to another was so much easier in those days, not like now. We parked in the JL carpark and I used that other brilliant piece of new-tech, the reversing camera. Honestly, I don’t know how I managed without it. In the street it’s useful, but in a multi it’s absolutely essential. We were on level 5 so we could just walk straight into JL which was convenient as I wanted to have a wistful, wishful look at an iMac. They had them in JL, but the model on display was an old-tech 2015 model. It might as well have been 1915, computers have moved on so quickly. It was running the latest Mac OS, but painfully slowly. Thankfully the ones in the Apple shop were up to date. For once, I’d say I’d trust them with my money before JL, but it’s just a dream at present.

For lunch we went to the Russian restaurant we went to ages ago and boring me had the same starter and main I had then while Scamp went for a different selection, but wasn’t impressed with it again. Hard to please, is Scamp. Of course I’m just the opposite. Happy with my lot 😉 Well, at least I was happy with my Borscht and Golubtzi.

On the way back I listened to a couple of blokes busking. The bloke on the guitar was ok, but the other one playing the sax was very good. That’s him at the top of the page.

Sketch today was done from a photo. I just can’t seem to gee my ginger and get some decent drawing done. Too much going on in my head I think. Must calm down, ground myself and my sketching will improve, I’m sure.

Trying out a new journal app now that Day One Classic has been dropped by Dropbox and is being retired by its makers. Day One 2 has been re-written and it’s now free, but to get it to sync you have to pay a hefty annual subscription. I’m not a fan of being held to ransom by subscription, so I’m testing out Journey. It works on OSX, Windows, Android and Chrome. For some reason best known to the makers, it is not available as an app for IOS, but you can use a web based version for free from any platform. I may not be using IOS either soon as my phone contract is up half way through the month and I don’t like the direction Apple are going with their mobiles. I think I will look at an Android instead.

Don’t have plans for tomorrow. Wait and see, that’s the byword.

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When I’m cleaning windows – 19 September 2017

Sitting in the people’s palace enjoying a roll ’n’ sausage and a fairly decent cup of coffee. I’m becoming a real coffee snob, Hazy! Scamp had her usual peppermint tea and a couple of slices of toast. It seems strange sitting here on a weekday! We’d just been on a recce to find the party venue for John Carrigan’s 60th in Ibrox, deep in Bluenose territory.

Earlier in the afternoon we were walking round Glasgow Green marvelling at three blokes who were abseiling down one of the multi-story flats. We thought they were cleaning the windows, but it wasn’t until I got the photos home and processed that it became clear that they were actually repairing the windows. They were replacing the seals. Not the sort of job I’d like to be doing, even on a beautiful day like today. However, the view from the top would have been wonderful.

After lunch we drove home and I went out to see if the dragonflies were still sunning themselves up at Fannyside. They were, but their numbers well well down from last week. Only about half a dozen rather than last week’s nineteen. This time I had the proper gear. Nikon D7000 and the Sigma 105mm macro. Maybe it was because it was later when I got there, but the little dragonflies that landed seem lazy and quite happy to simply sit there and be photographed. As usual, I got the feeling that they were sizing me up as I was photographing them. Scary things dragonflies.

In the morning, I’d put what might be the finishing touches to my acrylic painting, so I present it here for your perusal.

Salesman from the garage phoned tonight with an update on the car. It might be arriving a day or two earlier. We’ll know for sure later in the week.

Finally, we don’t have a plan for tomorrow apart from Salsa at night and yesterday’s move wasn’t Sombrero Doble, it was Balsero Dos. Almost the same thing.

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Creepy Building – 18 September 2017

It’s Monday and that means two things. Gems and Salsa.

While Gems were going through their paces I used the time to get a painting idea out of my head. I had a couple of old canvases that I’d painted over and were unallocated at present, so I started into them using some acrylics and some heavy body gel to give a bit of impasto. I was quite pleased with the effect and may work into it a bit more to brighten some areas of the hills to give it a bit more form.

That done, I drove to the Fort to buy a book from Waterstones – “How to paint people quickly” by Hazel Soan. I’m aware that I haven’t posted an ink sketch this week, but the matter is in hand.

On the way back from Glasgow, I stopped at Gartloch, where the ruin of the old mental hospital stands in the middle of an exclusive housing development. I took a few photos, but didn’t linger long. It felt like I shouldn’t be there. I can’t imagine what it must have been like being incarcerated in this victorian monstrosity. I’d heard it described as being like the set of a horror film, but it’s not until you see it, you fully appreciate what that means. I can’t understand why anyone in their right mind (no pun intended) would pay to live next to this scary big group of buildings, because this isn’t just one pile of sandstone, this is a whole group of them. No glass in the windows. Most of them and all the doors boarded up. I didn’t linger long, but I’d always told myself I’d visit it one day. It’s done now.

On a brighter note, Salsa tonight was great fun. Advanced class did Guanabo, Disco, Sombrero Doble Balsero Dos and ’The New One’.

Tomorrow we go to ‘recce’ the venue for a birthday party on Friday for John Carrigan.

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Cross Country – 16 September 2017

A day driving east, then west, then back east again. Don’t say we don’t get around.

Started out driving Sim and JIC to Chris’s for them to be taken to Embra for the, as yet, undisclosed ‘Birthday Surprise. We knew what it was, but were sworn to secrecy. With the rest of the day ahead of us and no particular place to go, we headed, not for the Kokomo 1, but in a generally western direction. I thought we would go to Gourock or Helensburgh to sit and watch the sea … in the rain. Yes, it was raining, just as the weather fairies had predicted.

All was going well until we reached the Royal Infirmary section of the M8, then things started to clog up. However, our many drives through this part of the motorway meant I had the answer in my head. Never get stuck in the inside lane where all the dimwits ahead of you allow poachers to cut in in front of them. Get into the middle lane and if that clogs up, move over to the outside lane. Using this technique, the Kingston Bridge was a dawdle. Drove on past the airport and out into the country. That’s when traffic jam number 2 started. At first, after two police cars passed at a fair lick, we assumed it was an accident, then it became clear that only the inside lane was clogged. Managed to ease my way into the outside lane by choosing a decent space in front of a fairly new car. (Drivers of new cars will let you in. They don’t want to damage their shiny new car by rear-ending a dirty old car!!) Soon it became clear that the problem wasn’t an accident, well, not that we could see, but it was roadworks on the Erskine Bridge that would have taken us over to Helensburgh. So, we could confidently wipe Helensburger off today’s chalkboard. On to Gourock.

There was a cruise ship docked at Port Glasgow, the Caribbean Princess. I think she was far from the Caribbean. Perhaps she had been blown off course by the recent hurricanes. We did see some bemused looking travellers seeming to come from the ship and wonder why on earth they had been given this wet and miserable place to berth. We both knew exactly how they felt after our admittedly warmer trip to Igoumenitsa or as it will always be known to me,  ‘The Ig Place’ in Greece.

By the time we go to Gourock it was really miserable. The rain was thumping down and the Lomond hills were just smudges on the horizon. We continued to Cardwell Garden Centre near the Cloch lighthouse. It used to be a wee garden centre with a cafe. Now it’s a gigantic place with a children’s zoo, an indoor amusement arcade, a whole host of shops as well as a fairly extensive plants sections. It also sells coffee and scones. Decent enough coffee, but really, really excellent scones. Best I’ve tasted in a long time. We weren’t tempted to buy any plants and just started back the way we had come.

On the way home the weather started improving with the rain finally going to annoy someone else and the sun coming out. We stopped just outside Port Glasgow because the light was getting good and I reckoned I could get some photos. I did, but they needed some work. That’s the PoD above.

From there it was a straight run home in the dry. In fact it was under a clear blue sky.

Tomorrow is to be a better day. Don’t know where we’re going yet.


  1. No Particular Place To Go – Chuck Berry. Google the lyrics. 
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Went out, lost the dog – 14 September 2017

Went to the Fort today in Easterhouse. For ages I’ve been saying that what they really needed to build in Easterhouse was a fort and finally someone listened to me. Unfortunately, it wasn’t that kind of fort. It’s just a big collection of shops and cafes, but it does have a bookshop again.

Had a cup of brown water in Costa. I thought Cumbersheugh had the worst Costa. I was wrong the Fort version wins hands down. Someone should tell the ‘baristas’ that you have to refill the coffee filter for EACH customer. You don’t simply fill it in the morning and just keep using it again and again. Definitely having tea next time. Bought some Cerulean (other spellings are available) acrylic paint. Cheapest I could find was £1 for 75ml that sounds ok to me. It’s a useful sky colour.

Came home and grabbed the camera and the black dog and took them both to St Mo’s. Got some photos of a poor wee Jenny Long Legs untangling itself from a spider web, but wasn’t impressed with the results. Gave it a helping hand on its way. Turned round and the black dog had gone. The last I saw, it was following a couple out walking their Staffordshire Bull Terrier. Have fun with them Big Black Dog, people.  I won’t miss it.

Picked up JIC and Sim at Glasgow Airport and caught up over a few beers and a G ’n’ T.

Today’s PoD is of St Mo’s under a bright blue sky. A 9mm lens works wonders. So does watching the BBD disappearing over the hill.

Don’t know what tomorrow brings. A walk has been suggested. We can do that!