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The day the rain came – 27 June 2017

It was raining when we woke this morning and it’s still raining. For once that’s not a complaint, it’s just a statement of fact.

Went to Westerwood today. Me to the gym, Scamp for a swim. Days like this were what we’d joined for. Ideal for a bit of gentle exercise, a swim in a fairly comfortable environment. Of course the wonderful keypad lockers were acting up. They would lock, but not unlock again, but they’d been working for a whole two weeks now. That’s about as much as you could expect from them. Finally got mine to open after about 6 tries. It does not auger well.

Other than taking some predictable wet weather photos of flowers and raindrops, there wasn’t much more to say about the day. Scamp made Tomato and Red Pepper soup for dinner. Who would have thought after yesterday’s muggy heat we’d be glad of a plate of soup for dinner tonight. Dry day forecast for tomorrow then more rain. It’s all to do with the Jet Stream I’m told. I blame that Trump bloke.

Today’s sketch is best described as a placemarker.  It’s done and posted.  Fin.

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The Fitness Regime continues – 13 June 2017

This morning, I was swearing at the WiFi extender. It had to happen.

The WiFi extender was glowing green this morning and that means it’s in the perfect place. Not too near the modem/router and not too far away. The green glow lasted until I opened my first web page, then I got the ‘No Internet’ message. Either I’d broken the Internet or the green glow had turned to a red one. Thankfully it was the second one. It’s been a long time since I’ve broken the Internet and the problem is that you can’t just go on the Internet to find out how to fix it, because you’ve broken the Internet. See? Thankfully all that was needed was for the extender to be put in another place, closer to the modem and it worked. Internet restored to full health, I went to the gym.

I thought I was having a hard time with my recumbent bike, treadmill and various weight machines, but there was one poor bloke much worse off than me. He had a Personal Trainer shouting instructions and ‘encouragement’ at him while he lifted kettle bells, bar bells and even played at making waves with a big heavy rope. We used to call it making ‘snakes’ when the kids were wee. I say ‘playing’, but there seemed to be very little enjoyment in this exercise. Once I’d done my half hour or so, I left them to it and drove home for a shower. I was just loading the boot when I noticed my extra passenger hiding behind the aerial. A spider had found a nice wee shelter and had presumably come all the way from home tucked away from the wind. Pic on Flickr.

After lunch, Scamp was off to have coffee with Isobel and I was going for a walk in the sunshine. Drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal, intending to cross through the Plantation and on to the Railway path, but it was so nice and warm beside the canal that I just kept on going. About half a mile later, the rain started and from then on, it was on and off all the way. Didn’t see any kingfishers, but the swallows kept me entertained with their aerial gymnastics and one of Mr Grey’s cousins posed for a close-up. Stopped at Twechar to sketch the lift bridge that opens once, maybe twice a year. Such a waste of money.  Interesting though and the first real Urban sketch for ages.

Across the road there is an old garage, boarded up and dilapidated and ripe for a bit of fisheye magic and some HDR. After a bit of fiddling, that’s what happened.  You can see the results above..

Walked back in the rain and Scamp made dinner which was a fish fingers salad using our own spinach and lettuce. Good to use stuff we’ve grown ourselves again.

Tomorrow I got to see the doc to get the results of my blood test. Going fairly early so I can enjoy the rest of the day.

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Rain – 6 June 2017

It was raining in the morning when we got up. It rained all day and it’s raining still. I don’t think there’s been a dry minute.

There were no plans for today, luckily, so we just had a lazy morning. I saw the effect of the rain on the alliums and decided it would make an interesting photo. Unfortunately it was bucketing at the time and none of my cameras are weatherproof, but they are when you wrap them in a Timson’s bag. Low tech meets high tech.

Just before lunchtime we went to Westerwood, me to stretch my legs and Scamp to swim. Just to confuse everyone and only for today, ladies were to use the gents changing room and gents, the ladies. The reason was that two blokes were fitting new locks in the ladies changing rooms. The new locks are push button coded. You type in a four digit code – twice then close the lock handle. No key to lose (I lost mine in the pool on one of our first visits.) No deposit to pay for the key. No having to ask for an odd numbered key to get a decent sized locker. No, it was almost as if we were in the twentieth century at last. There are obvious shortfalls that the devious will exploit in the next few weeks and then the batteries will fail and all have to be replaced at the same time, and how much will that cost?? Still, it’s a pleasant move forward on their part and we should be grateful.

Gym was interesting now that I’ve worked out (or to be more exact, Scamp has worked out) how to display my actual heartbeat, rather than my resting heart beat. Did my reduced machine torture and felt better than yesterday. After that I had a swim in a nearly empty pool. Wonderful.

Came home and started on today’s sketch which I’d decided would be, must be better than yesterday’s effort. I hope you agree.

Dinner was Scamp’s excellent stir fry.  One of my Tuesday night favourites.

Irene is to be teacher for the beginners class tomorrow night at Salsa. That should be interesting. I’ve said for ages that Shannon should have another female teacher and Irene’s encyclopedic memory of moves and her strict timing counts will help her do well, at least I hope it will. I also hope she gets paid for her hour’s work. Shannon doesn’t have a great record on that count.

Off to Wishaw tomorrow morning for Scamp’s checkup. Coffee booked with Val for the afternoon.

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A Busy Day – 5 June 2017

Up and out fairly early to get my fasting blood taken and then a quick trip to Tesco to get some essentials for my breakfast.

With a plate of porridge and a piece ’n’ jam under my belt the world was a better place.

Next thing to do was to go and get Netta for Gems tea party.  A pleasant enough drive to Denny and back.

I now had an hour and a half to myself now and decided to fritter it away by going to the gym and stretching my leg muscles a bit.  I had hoped that I’d have time for a quick dip in the pool, but time was too tight for that.

Back just before 3pm and time to get a shower before returning Netta home.  Back home I started on today’s photo which you see above.  I’d tried it last week, but wasn’t happy with the result.  Today I had it better planned.  The wee man or to be more exact, Weeman was sitting on a stone in the birdbath.  His ‘fishing float’ was actually a dressmaking pin with the point cut off.  It was pushed into a piece of Bluetack which was sitting on the concrete floor of the birdbath with just the tip of the pin breaking the surface.  Fishing line was black button thread.  It worked and there was minimal ‘fiddling’ required in Potatoshop.  Then it was time for dinner.

Before starting to make dinner.  Just a quick check on Facebook to make sure that there had been no last minute changes to Salsa class, and there it was.  Jamie G was in Cheltenham, not in Glasgow and he would be there all week!  Bummer.  I was so looking forward to a bit of “exercise and getting things wrong again to music” tonight.  (Also known as advanced Salsa.)  Scamp started emailing contacts to find out who would be taking the class and the two of us began discussing what, if any, the options were.  We decide that if Will was taking the class, then we’d go.  If it was Colin then we wouldn’t.  If it was Cameron, then that was a definite NO.
Will is a good teacher with a lot of good innovative moves.
Colin used to be good, but is now trying to incorporate cha-cha into everything he teaches.  Such a waste.
Cameron has been dancing for about three years and thinks he knows it all.  He doesn’t, unfortunately he doesn’t know that.
Word came through that it was Cameron.  Why do we have to find these things out on Facebook and through word-of-mouth from other class members?  Surely someone in the Academia de Salsa organisation knew that one of the teachers wasn’t going to be there and could have posted a message to that effect on the AdS website.  Why is it all such a big secret?  My guess is that if the class members are told in advance, they won’t turn up for class because they have suffered at the hands of the incompetent teachers before.  If they don’t come to class, then they won’t be paying and that will hurt AdS.  Just my take on the situation, but really, things need to change.  You can’t keep treating people like rhubarb (keep them in the dark – feed them shite.)

With that news, we decided that we’d go for a walk instead to lift our spirits and get some exercise, even if it wasn’t to music.  We walked round Broadwood Loch and I got some shots of ducks and a lovely shot of a Great Crested Grebe with the Teazer.

Today’s sketch is basically a placemarker in that it was done to fulfill the requirements of the remit.  Better tomorrow.
Rain predicted for all day tomorrow.

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Goodbye 2016 – 31 December 2016

Today we didn’t want to be bumbling around the house all day, so made a frail excuse and headed in to Glasgow on the bus.  From there we got the subway to the west end, to be more exact Kelvin Hall station and went for lunch at Usha’s where food is served in tapas style.  It used to be totally vegetarian, but now it feeds the carnivore too.  I’m not going to have you salivating by repeating all our choices, but Scamp’s favourite was Aloo Gobi and mine was Patina Ghosht.

By the time we came out, it was bucketing down.  It was teeming.  We walked up Byres Road and while Scamp went to Waitrose – our frail reason for coming – I wandered round Waterstones.  It was there I found my PoD.  Hazy and I have been following Chris Riddell on Facebook for some time and this looked like an original.  After getting the shot, I met up with Scamp and we walked across the road to Oran Mor and had a drink and a chance to get warm.  Oran Mor is an old church that has been converted into a pub.  It’s pretty old-fashioned inside with sanded floor boards and dark furnishings and it suited us perfectly today because it was warm with good beer and wine.  Unfortunately, we had to get home today, so we restricted our drinking to one pint of Deuchars for Scamp and a large glass of Shiraz for me 😉

Outside the rain was still falling, so we decided to cut our west end visit short and get the subway home.  When we got to the platform and the train arrived, it was absolutely ram-jam-full of Rangers supporters, all of them with very long faces.  Today was the annual Old Firm match between bitter rivals Rangers and Celtic, and it didn’t take a genius to work out who had won.  It must have been the quietest subway journey I’ve had.  Every single one of the supporters was locked into his or her own little world, and it was colder in that world than the weather outside.

Got the bus home and that was the end of the Glasgow trips for 2016.

Now to the questions:

Best thing I’ve done this year?
Without doubt, it must be completing Inktober  Not only did it make me sketch, but it made me sketch outside and that was a big challenge for me.

Best ‘Toy off the Rack’.
It must be the Linx 10.1″ 2-in-1 tablet/laptop.  Very portable but very powerful too.

Worst thing I’ve done?
Technology again, but it’s installing El Capitan on the Mac.  It’s the ‘Windows Vista’ of the Mac OS.  The operating system that just didn’t operate.  Wish I’d stuck to Mountain Lion.

Challenges for next year

  • Sketch more.
  • Paint again.
  • Gym and Swim at least once a week.
  • Talk to more people.
  • Smile more!

Let’s see how it pans out.

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Ice and a Fiery Temper – 5 December 2016

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Woke this morning to sub-zero temperatures, ok it was -0.7º, but it was below zero and that counts.

By the time I got up and showered, the temp had risen to just above zero and it was brightening up nicely, so I wrapped up warm and grabbed the Nikon to go get some photos of the urban deer.  It was a good plan,  the only thing missing was the aforementioned deer.  They weren’t to be seen.  Imagine that, they were up and out before me!  Amazing.  Got some photos of some backlit weeds – backlighting is always good in the low winter sun.  When we were in Glasgow yesterday, I was sort of admiring some photos by a photog who was using 00 gauge figures in a variety of situations.  ‘Sort of’ because I wasn’t impressed with the actual photos which were unremarkable, but I’d forgotten about my own attempts with these tiny figures.  I kept seeing situations this morning where I could pose my mini-men.  I’m intending digging them out tonight and having a go at some mini-men scenarios tomorrow when I have the house to myself.

Photos turned out better than I’d hoped.  I think my favourite was the skating Coot.  It reminded me of the painting “Revd Dr Robert Walker (1755 – 1808) Skating on Duddingston Loch” by Sir Henry Raeburn (Google it).  It doesn’t really look like it, it just reminds me of it.  That was my favourite, but PoD goes to the frozen feather.

This afternoon when Gems were doing their singing practise I went to the gym and the pool for an hour or so.  It was a very pleasant hour or so too.  Sauna wasn’t all that hot, but the steam room was.  Even managed a few lengths.

Kizomba tonight was the end of the road for me.  I’ve taken as much as I can take of assistant teacher, Levis’s Mr Cool antics.  Yes, he’s quite stylish, but when the class has just managed to achieve even numbers because Kaye, the teacher, is dancing, that is not the time for Mr Cool to cut in and push a paying customer, me, out to be a wallflower.  I don’t like being the wallflower and I don’t do it quietly now.  That’s why I made a fuss tonight and complained to his boss about his attitude.  I also told her that was the reason I wasn’t coming back.  It did seem to cause a bit of a kerfuffle and an extended discussion with Shannon under whose auspices the class runs.  It also forced Levis to come and apologise to me although he didn’t seem to understand why.  It made no difference to me.  That was my last Kizomba class with them.  Maybe I’m just a silly old man to him.  He’ll find out I’m a vociferous and angry old man too.  I feel sorry for Scamp, because she was enjoying the class.  I wasn’t and I’d already told her I would give it until Christmas and then evaluate the situation.

The foregoing left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, but it had to be resolved.  There’s no point in complaining to Scamp and shouting the odds.  Better to get these things out in the open then, maybe they will learn from their mistakes.  Salsa took the bad taste away and with three new moves to remember and Jamie Gal’s inevitable tall stories , it didn’t take long to put a smile back on my face.

Tomorrow is another day and it’s going to be a painting day, I think.  Well, that and a trip into Glasgow to retrieve Scamp’s boots that she left at the STUC tonight!

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Super Moon, Ordinary Day – 14 November 2016

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Not such a bad day today compared to yesterday. Thankfully, Scamp is feeling a lot better and I think a phone call this morning from Hazy helped too, that and looking forward to a visit from JIC and Sim has lifted her spirits. Still a bit cloudy with the occasional rain shower, but we had that in Lanzarote last week too. Having said that, the temperature differential is significant, nearly 20ºc .

Last night’s attempt to resurrect the damaged partition on the external hard disk ended in failure, as I expected it would. However PhotoRec which comes as part of the free TestDisk partition recovery suite managed to find all the photos in the damaged partition and, using it I also managed to download some of the photos to check that they were intact. It looks like most if not all of the photos are recoverable. The problem now is where to put them while I sort them back into their proper folders. Sorting them into the folders won’t be a big problem as the Hazel app on the Mac and File Juggler on the PC will manage that task with relative ease. The problem is that I now need (yet) another external hard drive to use as temporary storage while I do the filing. I might just bite the bullet and buy another external HDD and be done with it. Then I’ll format the old one and use both as a photo repository. It does make you think though, that a free program downloaded from the ‘net can search your hard disk and recover deleted photos even from a formatted drive. If a free prog can do that, what can dedicated forensic software used by police and other agencies do?

For the rest of the day, I went to the gym and then for a swim. Really quite enjoyed it. Salsa and Kizomba tonight was demanding, but also enjoyable.

Today’s photo is of the ‘Supermoon’. Did look slightly bigger than normal, but nothing to get excited about.

Looking for sunshine tomorrow. Always looking!

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Write and Post the same day – 20 October 2016

20-oct1That is today’s target.

Yesterday, or to be more exact, early this morning I was still writing the blog just before 1am.  That’s what happens when you try to cram in 1 hour’s driving 2 hours of Salsa, a pen sketch, photo processing, posting to the now despicable Flickr and blog writing into six hours.  It just doesn’t work.  I must try to clean up my workflow on Mondays and Wednesdays.  Thursdays?  They’re not so bad.  Still bad, just not so bad as Mon and Wed.

Today we went to the leisure centre in the early afternoon.  Me to gym and swim, Scamp to swim.  It was very pleasant.  Gym wasn’t busy and neither was the pool.  That’s because we are in the middle of half-term week, so loads of families are off grabbing some last minute foreign sun.  I’m not complaining, just explaining.  After a late lunch I went to find some photos and if possible find something to sketch.  “Nights are fair drawing in now” as Billy Connolly said and it’s true.  The sun is setting sooner these evenings, so although it provided me with some lovely sunset shots, it also cancelled out any opportunity for sketching in the wild.

Earlier in my driving around I spotted some strange looking clouds.  I thought it was the end of the world, such strange shapes.  It turned out to be Cumulonimbus incus.  Google it.  It’s a classic anvil shaped thundercloud.  Luckily they sidled off westward before they could drop their thunderbolts and the inevitable rain.  The sunset really was lovely.  I don’t usually shoot sunsets because you get suckered in by the colour contrasts and just shoot wildly, but this time I planned the shot with the old tree and fencepost in the middle distance to hold the viewer’s eye while allowing them to appreciate the colours in the sunset.

img_3457-flickr-1I was stuck for an Inktober shot tonight and it defaulted to my glasses on the coffee table.  That meant I couldn’t wear them and that’s my excuse for poor proportions.  That coffee table is almost forty years old, an antique.  It was my second year project at college and it’s still standing.

Well, that’s it.  I’m hoping to get to bed the same day I woke up.  It may happen.

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Back in harness – 17 October 2016

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Today I returned to the gym for the first time in months.  I took it easy, not wanting to undo all the good the physio had done.  I did my 10 mins on the recumbent bike and 10 mins on the treadmill, although I did up the incline and the speed to get my heart rate up a bit.  I also did one of the arm machines and one of the leg machines, so not too much yet.  I even managed a swim as the pool was nearly empty.  Unfortunately, Mondays are busy days and I had to get back home to get the dinner made.  Then it was off to Kizomba and Salsa.

Kizomba was quite stressful for me as we had to work on foot moves and arm moves too on Saida and Cross Step.  If I continue with the class, as seems likely just now, and if I look back at these posts (DV), the Saida and Cross Step will seem very tame, I’m sure, but tonight they were tough.  Salsa was frantic as usual and also very enjoyable.  Nice to see Catherine Mc back.

img_3452-flickrToday’s photo was of the peanut thief caught raiding the bird feeder again this morning.  The Inktober sketch is of Scamp’s Venetian mask.  It was a bit out of my comfort zone because of the amount of curves in it and the fact that there was light and shade to deal with on those curved surfaces.  Still, it’s a fair representation of the article.  What will tomorrow’s be?

Don’t know what the weather is going to do tomorrow.  The majority of the votes are for some sunny periods but with the chance of rain and some strong winds.  That about sums up any day in Scotland.

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A New Start – 8 August 2016

8 augToday we returned to the gym after a couple of months lay off.  Hopefully it will be a return to fitness for us with our stated intention of having two days a week at the gym and pool.  Well, the weans will be back at school next week, so there should be fewer of them in the pool.  It was good to get back to a bit of exercise.

In the afternoon I went for a walk along the railway and got some good shots of a couple of Red Admiral butterflies as well as some abstract looking photos of translucent seed pods on the gorse bushes.  It was a lovely day when I was out, but half an hour earlier it had been heavy rain.  I wasn’t complaining, because the sun shone all the time I was out.

To complete our ‘new start’, Scamp started back at salsa class tonight and her shoulder held up with very little pain or awkwardness.  Tomorrow will be a better test to see how successful it was.

Off to Larkhall tomorrow for eye checks for us both.