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Another Good Day – 20 March 2018

And I quote:

“Tomorrow, if it works out as the weather man says, will be another good day with more sunshine, temperatures scraping under double digits and light winds again. Scamp wants to go into the garden. I might get my bike out.”

Well, it did turn out as the weather man said.
– It was another good day with sunshine.
– Temperatures in the sun were probably scraping the double digits.
– The winds were light
– Scamp did go into the garden
– I DID take my bike out

Scamp started clearing up the front garden in the morning, the back garden is still under permafrost. I cleared the snow off the back step, finding the mat in the process. I then attacked the ice with a spade, but gave up when I got to the stuff that was welded securely to the concrete and resorted to a chemical attack. Instead of Novichok, I used table salt which melted the ice really quickly. Meanwhile Scamp was trying to eradicate an influx of tiny white maggots from one of her containers. She eventually gave up, washed the offending plants and dumped the compost in the brown bin (garden waste). Then she tidied up the front of the window area to let the daffodils have some air and light. The garden looked so much better after that.

The coffee I’d ordered from the Bean Shop in Perth arrived just in time for lunch and after sampling some, I got dressed to go out on my bike. Glorious day if you were in the sun, quite cool in the shade. Cycled to the old tip and that’s where I got today’s PoD which is the Kirkintilloch Volcano. One day I will climb the Kirkintilloch Volcano and sit like this person did, just enjoying the view. There, that’s a challenge for this year.  I also got a photo of a newt.  Not great or crested, but a newt.  I’ve never seen one in St Mo’s and this is the first one I’ve seen for years.  Stood and watched the trains go by and listened to the silence, if you know what I mean.  It was simply wonderful to be out in the air without that cold wind dragging you down.  Maybe spring is just round the corner.  Glad I took advantage of today because the weatherwoman says it’s going to rain tomorrow. Worse still, Wunderground says it’s going to rain tomorrow and I trust Wunderground more than I trust the weatherwoman, Kawser Quamer.

Made chilli for dinner while Scamp had Rats which is her shorthand for Ratatouille.

Tomorrow is Dancing, Dancing, Dancing day we hope because we missed it last week.

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Coffee and dirty pictures – 1 February 2018

We had a quick coffee this afternoon, Val, Fred and me to discuss Fred’s dirty pictures.

Not very dirty pictures, certainly not in the usual sense of the word. They were quite finger marked and smudged, but that’s part of the technique of sketching with sanguine chalk. He’d been to the first of his Life Classes yesterday and was eager to show us the results. They were all female nudes, but very artfully posed. It’s not a thing I’ve ever considered myself. I find it hard enough drawing the little matchstick men and women who inhabit my urban landscapes, but the thought of drawing all that musculature and skeletal framework just turns me off. Maybe that’s why I stick to urban and architectural scenes. You know where you are with buildings. Mostly they are composed of straight lines although with designers making more use of 3D modelling software, and the influence of CNC machines, more and more buildings are taking on curvaceous and sinuous lines. Anyway, both Val and I were impressed with his work and even more so when he explained that he was given 10 minutes max for each sketch. I imagine it’s difficult for the model to hold the pose for much longer than that.

When I got home, I grabbed my camera and walked over to St Mo’s and that’s where I got the shot at the top. A lovely sunset over St Mo’s pond.

Scamp was out for the evening at a dinner party for Gems. I’m taxi driver and am sitting here writing this and waiting for a phone call to say the “Taxi for Campbell” is required.

As well as that I got a first sketch done for 28 Drawings Later and that’s what you see below.  I was quite pleased with it.  The first one I’ve done in ages.  Hopefully I’ll manage to get the other 27 done and in on time.

No great plans for tomorrow.  Scamp’s out for coffee tomorrow.  I might go for a walk.

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Hardly past the door – 20 January 2018

After yesterday’s problems with the River City stalker and his friends, we decided that a day at home was the safest way to deal with it.

Nobody else was moving much either. The roads in the estate (you can’t call them ’scheme roads’ any longer. “It’s not a ’scheme’ darling. That’s where common people live. Call it an ’estate’ that creates a much more civilised ethos, don’t you think?”). Anyway the road into the houses hadn’t been touched by the Cooncil. The unwritten law seems to be that if you live in a cup-de-sac, or any road that doesn’t have an entrance and an exit, or any road in Cumbernauld, you don’t get it gritted. We don’t get it gritted. That’s why nobody was moving today. I’m sure the Red Juke wouldn’t have bothered about the hill up to the house. The big wheels and the four wheel drive would have sorted it. It’s not actually got four wheel drive, but it looks big and it looks like it’s a 4WD, so that would probably mean it would get up the hill no probs. Still, we didn’t go out. There was tidying to do. There was an opportunity to rearrange stuff in the kitchen. There was also a bit of blue sky out there, so in the afternoon I left Scamp happy to be rearranging and took the big dog out for a walk to see what progress had been made at the new Aldi store.

The answer to that question was “Not Much”. I’m not sure if the flurry of interest that started in August ’17 actually was anything to do with the building of this mini retail park, but although an access road has been reclaimed from the dirt, mud and illegal fly tipping, it’s now been left to the elements and is covered in a thick coat of ice. Some breather pipes have sprung up around the site, so that probably means that it was originally landfill. I don’t know if that will make a difference positively or negatively to the outcome. I’m guessing we will just have to wait and see. The ice made an interesting couple of photos. From there I walked over to the M&S Food outlet to get Scamp some chocolate raisins to replace the energy she was expending tidying the kitchen. Up into St Mo’s and grabbed a couple of shots of two deer in the snow. Unfortunately it was on the Teazer, so the quality wasn’t the best. That’s because I’d been using the 105mm lens on the Nikon to photograph the PoD which is top right above. A little water droplet with a neat starburst pattern.

Came home with dry jeans for a change because I’d worn my snow gaiters. They only get worn a couple of days a year, but when I do wear them, they are real life (and jeans) savers. Cost me a fiver about ten years ago and it was the best fiver I’ve spent. When you’re wading through knee high snow as I was today, they are hard to beat for keeping you warm and dry.

My turn for dinner and tonight it was Chicken Curry, using the leftovers from yesterday’s chicken. It was one of those ‘chuck it in and see what happens’ kind of meal. It’s either going to taste brilliant or bog awful. Either way, you’ll never be able to make it exactly that way again. This one was just a tad off brilliant. I can remember the method, but the measurements were just by trial and error and taste, taste, taste. Flat bread was just excellent too. Maybe a bit salty, but neither of us complained.

Tomorrow, I think we may be dancing, although there’s even more snow forecast. We’ll wait and see.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A walk in the park – 18 January 2018

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

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

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

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

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Pants! – 8 January 2018

Not so much pants, as trunks, or the lack of them. Everything will become clear.

Drove to Tesco in the morning to get the makings for some soup. I’d never made just ordinary vegetable soup and I fancied a go under the strict tutelage of Chef Scamp. After we got all the veg that Tesco had, I drove back and got started chopping and dicing and washing veg. Then I basically bunged it all in a pot, poured in some water and set it to boil. After it boiled I turned it down to a simmer and left it for an hour. An hour in which I had my lunch and took my PoD of a failed leaf cutting sitting on the window ledge. Then I prepared myself for the onslaught of Gems.

It’s a Monday and Mondays mean Gems. Today they returned after their Christmas break and would be in good voice (for good read Loud). I had other plans, I was going to the gym.

Drove to the gym, found a vacant locker and started to unpack my gym bag, only to find that I’d forgotten to pack my swimming trunks. Now I had two options. One was skinny dipping, but I’m a bit old for that and the other was to return home, pick up the trunks and head back to the gym. Such a waste of time. The third option was to leave it until tomorrow and go for a walk instead. I chose option three and walked along the Luggie Water for a while and got some photos of the ice on the river and also some icicles on one of the railway bridges, so all was not lost. When I finish this, I’m going to put my swimming trunks in the gym bag for tomorrow.

Salsa was fun tonight. It took me all my time remembering what name went with what move, but I was not alone by the baffled looks on some of the faces around me. Tonight’s move was Gorila (one L) and it was a twisty turny one that I must look up on YouTube.

Tomorrow the Gym with all the correct equipment? Perhaps.

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Dancin’ – 7 January 2018

It was a late start today. I hadn’t meant to sleep so long, but there are no alarms on weekends.

I spent the morning parcelling up the calendars for Dorothy and my friend Peter. I also took some time writing notes for the parcels. It was only after I’d written the address on the last envelope that I checked and found that the post office was closed on a Sunday. Oh well, they wouldn’t be uplifted until tomorrow anyway. I’ll post them tomorrow with a bit of luck.

After lunch which traditionally is a fried breakfast on a Sunday I almost managed to get Scamp to come out a walk with me, but she’d been outside and knew just how cold it was, so she decided she’d rather do some ironing than face the great outdoors. I needed a PoD and I don’t do ironing very well, so I got dressed for the arctic and drove down to Auchinstarry then walked halfway along the canal which was frozen right across and took some photos from the only seat on the path for miles. Walked back, across the plantation and from there back to the car. Not quite my 10,000 steps, but at least I was out in the fresh air. Cold fresh air to be precise. I don’t think the temperature got above zero all day.

Just had time to dump the photos in the Mac and tweak some before it was time for the big event of the day, Dancin’. Drove in to Glasgow and got parked less than 100m from Arta. Inside it was fairly busy even if it was quite early. I don’t know what they had done to the floor, but it was lethally slippy. Almost took a tumble a few times and wished I’d worn my trainers instead of my shoes with the no-grip soles. Still, it was a good night with lots of firm handshakes (only one ‘funny’ one) and lots of ’mwah’ kisses, everyone coming with a ‘Happy New Year’. That’s what I like most about the salsa community. Its friendliness.

Home to the remains of last week’s steak stew dinner reheated and none the worse for it. Also the last G ’n’ T until Friday. An extra cold one as Scamp had left the tonic in her car in today’s sub-zero temperatures. The abstemiousness starts here. Oh by the way, when I was walking back into the house after retrieving the tonic, my watch vibrated to signal that I’d completed today’s 10,000 steps. Must have been all that sliding across the dance floor!

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Ice is not nice – 14 December 2017

An icy morning. Jac’s taxi didn’t come, so I volunteered to drive her to the station.

It wasn’t all that cold, but it had snowed during the night and the snow had melted, then frozen again and now that ice was melting, on the surface at least and that meant it was treacherous. The Juke performed perfectly, I couldn’t fault it. Unfortunately there was a queue of traffic heading along towards St Mo’s taking the children who can’t walk if it’s cold, or windy, or wet, or dry, or too hot, or too tired, or .. well, you get the picture. I turned at the roundabout and took the longer, but much quicker way round the back of Blackwood and then through the new estates to the station. Got there with plenty of time for Jac to catch the train (the next train, that is). Came home the same way because, although the queue was shorter, it was still there and resolutely not moving. Walked back from the car and that was when I found out just how slippery the surface was. Slid all the way down the short slope to the house. Didn’t fall, luckily, but Scamp decided it would help other folk if I spread some chippings on the path. Such a simple solution and it worked.

After lunch Scamp parceled up the Christmas parcels for JIC and Sim and I took them to be posted at Tesco. Got that completed and stopped off at St Mo’s to take some foties. Liked the shot through the trees also liked the shot of the swan attempting a tricky landing on ice, but decided the trees won PoD. The rest were good, but not great. I was better prepared for the ice this time with a pair of walking boots, real ones, not Clarks flashy looking, but ultimately useless Goretex ones. The ice was melting in the areas the late sun was reaching, but as I was leaving I could see thin icy fingers stretching out across the puddles. (Oh dear, I came over all ‘Nigella’ there!)

Later in the afternoon I finished last week’s Zentangle doodle. I thought these things were beneath me, but they are more difficult than they look. You need a good eye and a steady hand to produce the accurate linework.

That was about it for the day. The highlight of the day was going to Tesco. Some days are like that.

Tomorrow, I may be joining Scamp for a coffee with Shona!

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Walking in a Christmas Card – 11 December 2017

Today started early, too early.

I switched off the alarm before it rang at 7.30am. A quick breakfast, dressed and out to defrost and warm up the car (it was -7ºc), then we were off into Glasgow for Scamp’s second routine hospital appointment in two weeks. There were warning signs on the motorway that things weren’t good ahead. Speed restriction signs set for 40mph. That usually means a serious bit of congestion ahead. There was serious congestion, six miles of it at just at under 10mph. I decided on a change of direction. If I left at the Stepps slip, I could circumvent the congestion and go through the outskirts of Kirkintilloch. Bad move. As soon as I left the 10mph motorway, the slip road ground to a halt and the motorway speeded up, but it was too late to change my mind, the die was cast. Not to worry, we’d plenty of time in hand for such contingencies. Eventually reached the roundabout and headed for Kirkintilloch, then I saw the queue on that road and the blue flashing lights at the head of the queue. That explained the congestion. There was an accident at the next roundabout and it looked as if everyone was heading back on to the motorway we’d just left. There was nothing for it but to rejoin the queue on the motorway and follow the sat nav. After about fifteen minutes of ‘taking the second exit’ and ‘turning left in 200yards’, the computerized voice proudly announced, “You have reached your destination” which was a dead end next to a boarded up shop with two dead cars parked outside. Shouting “Oh no it’s not” didn’t seem to help, so I did what I usually do and followed my nose for about 100yds and found the sign directing us to the hospital. Got there with time to spare and it looked like everyone else had been held up too, because we sat in the waiting room for another half an hour or so. Scamp got seen and told everything is ok, come back in six months. After a cup of coffee and a scone, we made our way home. This time the sat nav took a totally different route, through the outskirts of Glasgow and we were were home in less than 20 mins.

Next thing to do was get the room sorted for Gems Christmas party, then I volunteered to go and collect Margie while Scamp prepared the food. I then vamoosed to get some photos. I drove to Auchinstarry and walked the canal. It really was like walking inside a Christmas card. Everywhere was white and clean looking. It was cold too, but I was wrapped up well, with hat, gloves, scarf and fleece lined Bergy jacket, but I could still feel that dry cold you get on really frosty days. I’m not sure what my PoD is. I think it might be the tilted Christmas tree, which is really a frosted piece of reed poking out of the ice on the flooded Auchinstarry quarry. Decided I couldn’t hang around too long, because Scamp wanted me back for 3.30pm to take Margie back home. Managed that with a few minutes to spare.

Salsa tonight was good, mainly because we only had one new (impossible) move. The exercise was good.

Tomorrow I think I’m going in to Glasgow in the afternoon. Certainly don’t plan an early rise!

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The Big Freeze – 10 December 2017

We woke to a temperature of -6ºc which was cold, but no snow and some areas of the country were much harder hit than us.

After lunch I went out to get a mouse trap, because something has been eating its way into the bag with the birds peanuts and I don’t think there are any birds in the house. On the way back I parked at the station and went for a walk along the Luggie Water. Not much actual water, but a lot of ice. Got some nice shots of icicles hanging in front of the wee falls upstream a bit from my usual walk. That made PoD. There wasn’t much else to shoot, although I’m always tempted by the contre-jour shots of hoar frost on the weeds.

We were dining out in La Rambla in Paisley before the salsa. Food was good, but the service was just too slow. The waiters never seem to know where food is going and it becomes a bit of a free for all. Dancing was organized by Shannon and it was very enjoyable. Just like last week, I danced almost non-stop for about two hours. Good fun.

The heater in the car is quite excellent and tonight, coming home it was actually too warm and I had to turn it down. Pity we don’t have heated front seats and heated steering wheels though. That would be the ultimate luxury! 😉

Early bed tonight, because we’re up and out early tomorrow morning and since it’s -6.9ºc just now, I think I’ll be scraping the car in the morning.