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Started dull, got duller, then it rained – 29 May 2017

Today started dull, got duller, then it rained.  Read on for the boring details:

The morning was spent ‘tidying the back bedroom’.  That is code for ‘digging down to see if I could find the couch, then the floor. Scamp’s sister is coming to stay for a few days and she’ll need a bed for the night.  After I’d found both of the preceding items, I started the ‘tidying up’ proper.  By lunchtime the work was almost done and I’d even hoovered (or Dysoned ) all the upstairs except the bathroom.

After lunch I took the rubbish to the tip.  Another load of junk disposed of.  I went for a run to see if there was anything that piqued my interest, but no interest was piqued and I came home empty handed.  No rubbish, no photos, not even rubbish photos.  That state of affairs didn’t last long.

The Stuckies (or Starlings to you) were queueing to get in at the peanuts.  They were perched all along the fence.  Just had time to grab the Oly10 and snap a few shots, the best of which is above.  By then dull had given over to dull and raining, so the ISO was really high, but somehow the Oly managed to handle it well.  Unfortunately the Teazer wasn’t so capable of handling it, even if its zoom is so much better than the Oly10, so the two shots on Flickr are from the Oly, not the Teazer.

Dinner tonight was chicken curry, made from the leftovers from yesterday’s dinner and it was very tasty.  Economy in all things.  Although Scamp wasn’t too pleased to find herself chewing on a cardamom seed.

I did manage to get  sketch done.  Not my best, but as ever, it’s done and almost on time.

So dull, duller, then rained, didn’t totally tell the whole tale.  It never does.

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No Partridge – 17 April 2017

Today it was decided that we’d go to the garden centre we had hoped to visit yesterday.  JIC had checked and it would definitely be open.

Before we got there, JIC wanted to visit another *garden centre* which was certainly not allied to any national or regional garden centre chain.  What it was, was a very busy plant sale with prices that were almost as good as those in Poundland, but for much healthier plants.  I felt sorry for Scamp, wandering around the racks of greenery like a wean in a sweetie shop without a penny in her pocket.  Only it wasn’t money she was without, it was transportation.  You see, we were FLYING home later in the afternoon and you can’t carry plants in a plane, at least not the quantity and size of plants she had here eye on.  Also, those glazed pots were really cheap, but can you imagine the damage the luggage handlers would inflict even if you did pay the £15 overhead for putting them in the hold.  Eventually we had to drag her away as we packed the car.  Three of us in the back, Scamp, me and a pear tree.  No partridge.

I got two photos at the plant sale.

  • On 14th April I took 71 shots
  • On 15th April I took71 shots
  • On 16th April I took 28 shots
  • On 17th April I took 4 shots

You can tell when we were going home.  But it’s not quantity, it’s quality that counts and I liked the quality of the above shot which is of a Queen’s Cushion flower.  That said, I find the background almost as interesting as the foreground with its mix of Oof (Out Of Focus) colours.

With the car fully loaded we arrived at the garden centre (a horticultural version of coals to Newcastle) for lunch.  I picked the poorest option which was Chicken wrapped in pastry with potatoes and as much veg as they could cram on.  The veg was great, the potatoes were awful and the chicken was dry.  I envied Scamp and Sim their salmon and JIC his roast lamb.  Oh well, maybe next time I’ll make the sensible choice.  After lunch we drove home and unloaded the car.

To quote Tom Paxton “… All too soon it was time to go …” (Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues), and it was time to go.  We said a sad farewell to Sim and Vixen (the Devil Dog) and JIC drove us to the airport.  For once the plane took off on time and we had a fairly pleasant flight given that the plane seemed to be three quarters full of noisy BBs and their minders.  I don’t suppose you can really call them BBs any more, but Persons Brigaders just doesn’t make sense.  I did laugh at the big cheer that burst from them when we landed in Glasgow.  The view from the plane as it cruised over the city was tremendous with the sun shining through rain clouds.  It reminded me of the cover of the Raintown album.

From the airport we did the cheapo transport to home.  We got the (free) bus from the airport to Queen Street station, then just managed to catch the Croy train after paying the Pensioners price.  At Croy we just caught the (free) bus to Craiglinn and walked home from there.  Last of the big spenders, it cost us £4.10 total to get from the airport to home.

Tomorrow will be a lazy day.

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It Rained – 26 February 2017

All day it rained.  It rained heavy, it rained light, it rained sleet with an outside temperature of 9ºc (!), it pretended to stop, just to catch the unwary before launching another torrential downpour.  We weren’t fooled.  We live in Scotland.  We have a hundred names for rain, just as the Inuits have a hundred names for snow.  Most of the words for rain are suffixed with ‘AGAIN!’, or prefixed with ‘STILL’.  Sometimes, in extreme cases, with both!

Lunch for me was last night’s curry reheated.  I hope you’re impressed, N D’Ag.  Not quite up to having it for breakfast – on toast, but getting there.  Actually it was very good.  Not as fiery as last night.  After that I settled down to do a sketch for 28 Drawings Later …  I wasn’t going outside to sketch.  Watercolours or even ink pens and rain just mix too well, but not in a good way.  In an experimental way, perhaps, but not a good way.  Today I went back to Trinidad, at least in a photograph.  The building is an old house at Mt St Benedict’s Monastery in Trinidad and it fair brightened up the day.

We had already decided on a Trinni dinner and that’s what we had.  It’s Stewed Chicken with boiled rice, boiled cassava and fried plantain. Definitely a work in progress, but the fried plantain, although soft was the star of the show.  Loser was cassava.  Too much of a faff.  We’ll take Madeleine’s advice and try frozen stuff next time.  We were going to have coconut ice cream, but we’re leaving that for later in the week.  The coconut has been drained, smashed, flesh peeled and blitzed and the pulp drained, so the hard work has been done.

The forecast is for a drier day tomorrow after a wet and cold start.

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The Wee Red Car – 24 September 2016

After a wild and windy night with rain battering on the bedroom window, we woke to face the journey home.  It was still windy, it was still raining and there was no sign of either of them abating.

After breakfast I turned the car round so it was facing into the wind.  That way the boot lid wouldn’t blow up when I was loading in the camera bags, rucsacks, luggage bags, flask, poly bags, books and even more bags.  Finally we were loaded up and ready to say our goodbyes and hit the road.

The first stint was from Staffin down the east side of Skye through Portree and Broadford to the bridge.  I thought we might have trouble crossing the bridge, but the wind had dropped a bit by the time we got there and the crossing was really very easy.  On down to Dornie and a chance to grab a couple of shots of Eilean Donan Castle.  The castle that has graced a thousand biscuit tins.  Over the causeway and a stop for a coffee and a scone in the castle tea room.  Despite its tartan and shortbread overload, the coffee is surprisingly good. It was there we saw the blue Fiat 500 on the flatbed being towed by the camper van.  I liked the little touch of the hamper, clogs and tulips.

From there it was the most scenic part of the road normally, but today the weather took most of the scenery away.  Another uneventful, but boring drive to Fort William to stock up on food and drink then get back on the road again.  That’s where we picked up a Wee Red Car.  Now look, I’ve got no problem with people staying within the speed limit and Fort Billy has a 40mph limit for most of its length, but when you see the white circle with the diagonal black line, that generally mean floor the pedal for a bit.  No, the Wee Red Car was determined that 40 was a comfortable speed.  Occasionally it would accelerate to 45, then drop back to 35 just so that it wouldn’t be caught out by any average-speed-cameras that tried to pop up in front of it.  They didn’t, but better safe than sorry the Wee Red Car said.  Of course, there were plenty straights when those following could have passed the WRC, but there were always cars coming the other way.  To add to the holdup, just before the head of the glen at Glencoe, there were ‘mobile roadworks’.  This turned out to be a Cooncil van acting as a convoy vehicle to slow folk down just in case the WRC didn’t do its job properly.

I’d intended stopping at Tyndrum, but I was so determined to pass the Wee Red Car, with Scamp’s consent we just continued on.  At Crianlarich I hoped against hope that the Red Bastard would take the new road down Loch Lomond side, and when it disappeared, I gave a silent cheer.  Then a couple of miles outside the village, there it was again, two cars in front of me.  How did it get there?  We reckon WRC was stuck at 45mph and drove at that speed through the village.  I waited my chance, with unaccustomed patience, dropped a gear and hammered it past both the cars in front of me, waving a victorious ‘Vicky’ to the WRC at the front of the line.  Life after that was just a bit boring.  No more Wee Red Cars to vent my anger on.

Arrived home just after 5pm, which meant we’d spent about 7 hours on the road, about par for the course.  Of course we’d have been home an hour or so earlier if it hadn’t been for the Wee Red Car, but then I wouldn’t have had much to write about, would I?

Lazy day planned for tomorrow with little or no driving.  Thanks for a great few day Murd and Jac1.  Also thanks to Jac2 for the tour round the Cow Shed.

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Cake Today! – 15 August 2016

15 Aug bWell, we did have cake today!  Woke to sunshine that didn’t really go away all day.

The sun enticed us out and into the wide world.  We couldn’t agree on a destination until Scamp suggested that we go a walk along the canal.  Now I go there quite often, but it’s a while since she’s walked along it, so it was decided that we’d drive to Auchinstarry and walk along to Twechar and back.

Today was the day the teachers went back to work after the summer hols and as we were walking along the railway, I was thinking about all the times I’ve sat in the assembly hall at school listening to head teachers and deputes droning on about grade averages, STACs, child protection procedures and other dry, boring paper-pushing nonsense.  They always started with a jolly “Well I hope you’ve enjoyed your holidays and are feeling refreshed.  Here’s the bad news …….. “.  Drone, drone, drone.  It was essential to get there early, not to show you were interested, although there were some that did.  No, it was to grab the seats at the back where you could doodle unseen on the hundred page handout you’d been given with charts and tables and mind numbing statistics that meant nothing to anyone but the bean-counter who had created them.  “Can you see this Powerpoint alright at the back?” some depute would ask. “Yes, we’re just not interested.” we’d mumble in reply.

Ah, but while all my former colleagues were enjoying this annual festival of figures and meaningless jargon, we were out in the sunshine, admiring the flowers and the light through the leaves and counting the wee fishes and talking to the ducks.  It was when we were walking back along the canal towpath I heard what I thought at first was a motorbike before I realised that although the pitch of the engine was rising, it wasn’t changing gear and it seemed to he coming from Barr Hill which has a roman fort, but no roads.  I knew what it was then, it was a Piaggio.  It’s an Italian plane type called a canard.  Which is a plane with a wing towards the rear and two little winglets just rear of the nose which makes it look as if it’s flying backwards.  Some people think it looks like a duck, hence the name ‘canard’.  Some have actual tail fins and tail planes like a normal aircraft and some have jet engines, but most have pusher props.  That is, the propellers stick out the back of the plane and push it through the air rather than pull it like a conventional plane. (I like planes, in case you hadn’t guessed.)  I’d seen one last year at almost exactly the same place, but hadn’t got a photo of it.  I started taking my camera out of the bag and tried explaining to Scamp what it was I was so excited about.  She didn’t share my enthusiasm and said “Oh, so it’s a plane?”  I managed two shots of the Piaggio before it disappeared into a cloud.  Neither of them very good.  I’ve never managed to get a good clean shot of this plane.  You can see today’s effort above.  Maybe one day …

After we drove home and had lunch, Scamp wanted to work in the garden.  I dumped my photos into Lightroom and let it get to work on them.  Then we sat in the garden and read until it was time to make the dinner and then get ready for salsa class.  I had done my exercises from the physio this morning under a hot shower and they paid off while I was in the class, allowing much more movement than I’d had last week.  We were able to complete almost all the moves tonight which is proof that we are moving in the right direction.

Beautiful sunset tonight which augers well for tomorrow’s weather.  We’ll see what the day brings.  If it’s as good as today it will be very welcome.

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A more relaxing day – 22 July 2016

22 July bToday was a day for relaxing after the last couple of driving days.

We were intending getting the bus in to Glasgow, but as the rain was pelting down (the garden needs it), we changed plans and drove in. For lunch we went to the Chinese restaurant on Sauchiehall Street (AKA Sausage Roll Street) where Scamp used to take her mum for lunch. We’d been there before. It always was in the “Cheap and Cheerful” category, but today it was only “Cheap”. The food left a lot to be desired. My Sweet and Sour Chicken was tasteless, apart from the sickly sauce. Scamp’s Chicken Pineapple was also tasteless. I don’t think we’ll be back. I think we might be spoilt by Cotton House.

After we came back, I went to get petrol because we’d used up all the Chessington petrol from yesterday. Then I went for a walk down the Luggie Water. Not a lot there to photograph apart from some early fruiting rasps. Drove over to Moodiesburn then over the back road and found some horses in a field. Took Harry the Horse’s photo, and drove home.

Jackie, Scamp’s sister and her husband referred to previously as Murd were on the way north from Southampton and I was going to give them a lift from Glasgow. That was before they got caught up in an almighty traffic jam just before Tebay services. They were due in Glasgow around 7.30pm. It’s now 10.30pm and they’re still not here. They told us they would get a taxi from Glasgow instead of tying up my night, which was very good of them.

A relaxing day for us, but maybe not for Jackie and Murd

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. To quote Scamp “It depends on the weather”

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Did I say it was meant to rain today? – 10 July 2016

10 JulyWell it did.  It rained and rained and rained.  Then it rained again, just to make sure.  We watched Lewis Hamilton win the British GP.  We watched Andy Murray win Wimbledon.  We didn’t watch Portugal win Euro 2016.  That would be too much excitement for one day.

I made some bread, I did some sketching, I did some moping around the house.  I was hardly past the door today.  I did manage to get a photo of one of the roses from the back garden and in doing that, I was trying out my new tripod.  It worked perfectly.  Unfortunately, the same can’t be said about Flickr now.  Another night of irritating problems with uploads.  I was attempting to upload two photos.  I managed to upload one, but not the other.  Checked the flickr (lack of ) help page and found I was not alone.  As someone says, these things used to happen at weekends and during the (US) night when nobody was at work on Flickr to fix things.  Now it happens all the time.  Weekends and weekdays, night and day.  You get the feeling that nobody cares any more.  Until I find an alternative, I’m using 500px.  Just click on the photo as usual and it should load for you.

After all the faffing around trying to get time lapse shots to work, I forgot to check that amazing camera, the on in the iPhone.  It’s got a time lapse setting built in.  I also found a couple of apps, one free and one cheap.  Results so far are impressive.  Must post them when I have time.  They definitely won’t be going on Flickr.

Maybe, just maybe the sun will come out tomorrow.

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A Busy Tuesday – 26 April 2016

comboA full dance card today.  Lots of stuff planned and some added later.

Tuesday morning we were getting the central heating boiler serviced, so that meant the cupboard it lives in had to be cleaned out so the gas man could at least see his quarry and with a bit of luck, reach the beast.  Once that was finished, the man arrived and the maintenance was completed.  Our boiler is about 15 years old and is getting to the end of its useful life so we signed up to an appointment to price a new one.  We did well to get the boiler through the winter and had planned to replace it during the summer, so this was a good opportunity to commit to the replacement.

In the afternoon we were getting Smart Meters fitted to replace the gas and electricity meters.  That meant the drinks cabinet, which doubles as an electricity cupboard, had to be cleared out.  I hadn’t realised we had so many bottles of spirits in that cupboard.  I won’t say how many bottle bags we filled, but it was less than six, just less than six!  Each bag holds six bottles.  Mind you, some of them only had a little drop in them, well, that’s what I’m saying anyway.  Scamp wanted milk so I offered to go and get some.  I was just putting on my jacket when my hand brushed the light switch and I got the lightest tingle.  I blamed it on static, but when I deliberately touched one of the retaining screws, it happened again.  Not static then.  Checked it with an electrical screwdriver and the little neon light went on.  Oh, oh.  We need to get someone in to have a look at that.  I checked all the other light fittings and all but one passed.  It looks as if the upstairs/downstairs cable needs to be replaced.  That will definitely need an expert to look at.  I taped off the screw heads with insulating tape and tested again and it is safe for the moment, but it needs attending ASAP.  Add to the list.

The Smart Meter fitter came and fitted the meters, but couldn’t get them to connect to the server in the office, so they need to be checked in the next two weeks.  Add that to the list too.

Scamp had phoned the osteopath in the village to get her shoulder looked at and had an appointment at 6pm, so we had to have an early dinner and then I dropped her off at the surgery then went to get some photos.  Got some decent landscape shots with dramatic rain filled clouds behind. as delivered above.

When I went back to pick up Scamp, I listened to Bryan Burnett’s programme Get It On which has a daily theme.  Scamp and I try to work out the most apt track when we are travelling in to salsa on an evening.  Today’s theme was “Vinyl Records”  I chose Richard Thomson’s “Don’t sit on my Jimmy Shand’s”  Which mentions 78s and “They don’t mend with sticky tape and glue”  I had the time and the opportunity to send in my suggestion, so I did!  I’d just finished when Scamp got in the car.  She was impressed with what the osteopath had said and done and couldn’t stop talking about it.  I was half listening to her and half listening to hear if my suggestion would get a mention.  We’d almost reached the Town Centre when I heard “Zog” from Bryan!  Yes!  I got my mention on the radio.  Unfortunately, Scamp just kept talking, and they didn’t play my suggestion.  Their loss.

One of JIC’s birthday presents was a lump of 99% pure cocoa with instructions for cooking it into a cocoa drink.  This is the one that when wrapped had a label explaining that it wasn’t a suppository!  Today I tried it and it was really rich and smooth.  Not at all what I was expecting, but I won’t say what, exactly, I was expecting!

So, a day of some successes and some failures and some “Work in Progress”

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I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now – 11 April 2016

combo bYesterday was a long day and a long drive, so today was just about relaxing and coming to terms with this urban environment again after the wide open spaces of Skye.

Didn’t do much this morning apart from my daily sudoku, but today’s game was an “Easy”, so not to much of a challenge.

While the “Gems” were practising I went for a walk along the Luggie, but under a milky sky, everything was dull.  I did find a new piece of graffiti under the road bridge.  Good bright colours, but poor shading and highlights which left it pretty 2D looking.  It looks like one critic has already tried to burn it off.  Difficult on a concrete wall, but that’s the Cumbernauld mentality for you.  Totally brainless.  The other shot was a couple of daffodils that looked like they were talking to each other.  Unfortunately, under the flat lighting, there was very little modelling.

I hadn’t realised until recently just how much the clouds and sky contribute to landscapes whether they are paintings or photographs.  The Indian bloke with the umbrella from a couple of days ago needed a plain, textureless sky to focus attention on the main subject, the man.  Contrast that with yesterday’s monochrome landscape.  A flat toned sky would have dragged that image down.  The wild sky in it – it wasn’t faked by the way – was in harmony with the wild land underneath it.  These are the extremes and there are degrees of cloud detail within those extremes and the sky must be in sympathy with the land and the subject.  Sometimes the land is simply a backdrop and then the sky too should be a supporting player, but if the landscape is the subject then the sky should play a more leading role.  After all is said and done, it’s the light from the sky that creates the modelling on the land.  Maybe I should think more about the effects of the sky light on the subject and if the light isn’t good or is too flat, I should re-assess my subject.

After all somebody said that it’s all about the light.