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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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Number Crunching – 5 December 2017

Meeting with the FA today (no, nothing to do with football)

Drove to Falkirk today to meet with our FA for the six monthly meeting. All was good, so we went to Tea Jenny’s for lunch on the strength of it. Omelette for Scamp and Stovies for me. Lovely grub. Today’s PoD is one of their famous tea cosies. After that, a walk through the delights of Falkirk which didn’t take long. Waterstones for me and M&S for Scamp. That’s about all the High Street shopping there is in Falkirk. We did, however, go to Morrisons after that for ‘messages’ and copious amounts of alcohol. It’s Scamp’s Witches Christmas party on Friday. Copious amounts of alcohol are a must.

Came home and got the tree down. The house always looks that much cosier with the tree up and the lights on. Yes, Hazy, the letter was there in the Christmas lights box. I’ll hopefully get a shot of the tree tomorrow, just for the record. Need a bit of daylight to show it off at its best. There was precious little daylight today. Not a lot of rain, but very little light.

Finally managed to get up to date with Ink ’17 sketches as you can see.

Tomorrow we should have been taking the car in to check the condensation in the headlights, but the garage phoned to say that, as there had been no recurrence it would be pointless to investigate it and when I suggested I take a photo of the extent of condensation the next time it happens they agreed it was the most sensible solution. Apparently there is a bulletin from Nissan as so many people have had the same complaint. That means we’re free tomorrow. I think we’re still going in to Stirling, though because Scamp wants to go shopping. Stirling has a good Waterstones and a Nero, so it won’t be a totally wasted day for me.

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Deep and Crisp and Even – 19 November 2017

It was a lovely frosty morning (-1ºc) with bright sunshine, so I decided to get up (fairly) early and go out to source some photos in St Mo’s.

Scamp then noticed that Hazy had phoned yesterday when we were out and because we hadn’t checked the phone when we got in, we hadn’t phoned her back. So she warned me that she was going to check if Hazy was free for the return call. I told her I had my phone with me and to text me if she was up for a call back. I’d got a couple of photos which you can see above and was just walking into the woods to see if there were any photogenic deer available when my phone vibrated to tell me that Hazy was indeed on the phone. I about turned and retraced my steps back to the house and had a chat with Hazy. After comparing notes on books we’d read, she went to rest and I went for a coffee.

From then on the temperature rose just enough to take away the frost without providing a comfortable temperature for a walk. As a result, after lunch I got a sketch done for my one-a-week personal challenge and started planning the Keyboard Maestro macro that would allow me to automate the playlist creation for the car player. I didn’t get far with that, but at least I did get the sketch done.

We headed out to Glasgow for the Sunday Social at Arta and decided to park in JL carpark rather than try for an on-street space near Arta itself. The reason was that tonight was the switch on for the Christmas lights and I just knew parking would be at a premium. Got parked easily in JL which was a surprise, but the crowds around George Square were much more than we had anticipated. Added to the fact that anti-terrorist blockades had been erected around the square, it took us ages to get down through the city to the venue.

Arta itself was quite quiet until just after the switch-on, then it livened up a bit. We left earlier than we’d intended, hoping to avoid most of the crowds, but came out just as the fireworks display started. Once we were on Buchanan Street and the fireworks had ended, the crowds (estimated at 20,000) were streaming out and heading for the carparks and the bus station. Got through without too much pushing and shoving and emerged onto Dundas Street from the carpark without too much problem. One punter was a bit annoyed that I actually wanted to drive my car out of the carpark and onto the road. He seemed to think he had right of way and could walk in front of me. A quick “Fuck Off” informed him of the error of this assumption. Got home in double quick time after that.

A dull, dreary, grey day with nothing much to recommend it apart from a walk in the frosty air and a phone conversation with Hazy this morning. Oh yes, and the dancing was good too. PoD was the frozen cow parsley.

Tomorrow is Monday with all the timetable that entails. It’s 4.5ºc just now and raining, so not much chance of a frosty walk tomorrow.

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Recovery Mode – 15 November 2017

Woke to dull, grey, cold Scotland.

However, a night in your own bed works wonders. Much lighter breakfast than we’ve been used to last week, but that won’t do any harm and will, hopefully remove some of those extra kilos we’ve both gained.

Today consisted of making inroads in the piles of washing, emptying suitcases and re-stocking the fridge. I went out at about 2.30 to get some photos, forgetting that the light goes around 3pm. That makes today’s grab shots the best I’ve got. Even at that, I was working at 10,000 ISO which accounts for the amount of digital noise in the pics.

Did go to salsa tonight and only stayed to help at one beginners class, then came home. But great news, Glasgow Cooncil have found some parking meters in a skip somewhere and they take the new pound coins, so no more harassing people for their old now non-legal pound coinage.

Finally got a chance to display my sketch of last week.  The view from the roof terrace down onto the complex beside us.  It looked nice, but the grass is always greener … !

Don’t know what’s happening tomorrow. It’s too late to think and I’ve finally cleared my blog backlog. Is that what ‘blog’ stands for? Does it stand for BackLOG? It seems to for me.

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Halloween – 31 October 2017

What a dull, dank, dreary day.

It was almost 3pm before I risked leaving the house today. Up until the, it had been damp and dismal (I think that’s me got the ‘d’ alliteration out of my system). Even when I went out, I had to have the lights on in the car. This is such depressing weather, I can imagine how folk get Seasonally Affected Disorder well named by its acronym SAD. I’m glad my painting room has a daylight bulb in it and that the bathroom has daylight LED lights. Brightens up your day more than the weak yellowish sunlight does.

Only went out to get ‘messages’ for dinner. Do you know, I had to unlock the front door because I was the first one to cross the threshold! I wasn’t out long, but when I came back the headlights came on automatically on the car, because it was indeed growing dark.

I had already planned today’s PoD and it worked out quite well, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’. The ability to use the iPhone as a trigger for the camera is a great idea. Very useful for indoor shots.

Today’s sketch is the last in Inktober 2017 for obvious reasons. I can’t believe the number of folk who are asking on the Facebook ‘Inktober’ page if they can keep posting there. Eh, the clue is in the name. If you want to post your artwork, and some of it is so amazingly detailed, I think it must be drawn in advance, or nicked from the ‘net, then feel free to create your own page for NovINKber or some such. Me, I’m closing down my Flickr Inktober 2017 group on Friday. That gives the slow-coaches a couple of days to catch up. Today’s sketch is on toned Ingres paper and is of the workhorse of my sketching, the Micron 0.3mm pen and a bottle of white ink which I’ve re-discovered for adding highlights to the toned paper work. If I particularly feel like doing a sketch tomorrow, I’ll do one, but there is no pressure now to keep up with the one-a-day. It was fun last year and it was fun doing ’28 Days Later’ in February, but this year Inktober was a bit of a drag. Feeling burnt out now and looking forward to a rest (and a few early nights too!)

Tomorrow we are expecting more rain, so we may go to the gym.

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Stirling – 21 October 2017

After a particularly lazy start we drove to Stirling. It had been a fairly bright morning, but as I stepped out of the front door, the first drops of rain fell.

That’s the way it continued all day. Lunch was in the poshed-up Indian Cottage. Well, it’s now got cloth table covers and cloth napkins, but the food, thankfully, was just the same. There were a few additional items on the menu, but we are creatures of habit and pick the same selection every time. Prices increased to cover these additions, of course. Still, the lunch was good and Scamp asked for a ‘well-done’ naan bread and that’s exactly what we got.

Wandered round the depressing Thistle Centre, now partly closed off for some reason not disclosed at present. Had a look in Waterstones, but their prices are undercut by Tesco, not to mention Amazon, but at least you can browse and see what’s available and that’s why I occasionally buy a book or two there.

Cafe Nero was our next stop for a coffee and a chance to watch the world go by, or at least Stirling go past the window for half an hour. While we were sitting I got this sketch done. I realise it’s quite light and not very detailed, but I like it for that alone. Next, Waitrose for more ‘messages’ before the drive home.

There was just enough light when we got home for me to do a recce of St Mo’s for a photo opportunity. The only thing worth shooting was a spider building its web, so that would have to do.

Attempted to repair some of the rips and tears in my old jeans with the sewing machine tonight, but I think to be realistic I need one of those embroidery feet. It’s like a normal foot, but it does embroidery. I’m sorry if you don’t understand, but you really have to be a machinist to fully comprehend the details of this skill. In other words, I haven’t a clue.

Tomorrow? No idea. Suggestions on a postcard please.

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Inktober begins – 1 October 2017

Today is the 1st of October. For sketchers throughout the world, it’s the first of 31 days of inky fingers and that occasional sinking feeling in the pit of their stomach that tells them it’s 11pm and they haven’t done a sketch that day. On the other hand, as they reach day 31 with a complete folio, it’s a great feeling of achievement. Inktober was started by Jake Parker in 2009 as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavour with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year. In 2015 I signed up, but only managed five or six sketches. Last year, in 2016, I was more determined and completed all 31 sketches. I know Inktober isn’t for everyone, but the regime of a daily sketch helps keep the mind and the hand active. Some people have hosts of rules and a theme for each day of October. I try to keep it simple:

1) Make a drawing in ink (you can add a little watercolour if you want to).

2) Post it online

3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2017

4) Repeat next day

That’s enough of Inktober. What of the day? We were up and dressed early today, that is just after 8am to have breakfast watching the last ever Malaysian GP. It looked like shooty in for Hamilton starting from pole, and with Vettel starting from the back of the pack, but it wasn’t as simple as that. It rarely is. For the second time this season, it was an interesting race, even the parade lap after the chequered flag had its moments with Vettel crashing into Lance Stroll. What a numpty.

I had intended going out for a walk to clear my head after that, but I did my first Inktober sketch instead. It was a really dreadful day weatherwise. Rain, drizzle, smir, torrential. All words for rain and each of them had a place in our weather map today. You’ll notice sunshine wasn’t mentioned. It was there, but its presence was measured in seconds, not minutes and certainly not hours. A dull, dreich day.

The bright spot was Salsa at night. It should have been on in the afternoon, but after a double booking we were sidelined to Ad Lib which is actually a very nice venue. I’d go there again, mainly because I got a nice parking spot almost right outside. Well, I deserve it, having a nice new motor.

Swallow Watch:  This week I saw some swallows, on Monday I think, and this is week 40.

Tomorrow? It’s going to be windy and wet. I may go in to Glasgow to get fixative for the pastels and some watercolour half pans. If I’ve got time I might go swimming. Oh, and I need a sketch!

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Rain and Salsa, nothing else – 24 September 2017

Rain reigned today.  It started off just dull, then the rain came and really outstayed its welcome.

Had  a Neil D lunch of last night’s Chicken Rogan Josh and it went quite nicely on toast!  Then made the mad decision to give in and allow Windows 10 to perform its upgrade to Win 10 Creators Update.  That was about 2:30pm.  It’s now about 11.45pm and it’s still doing it.  Ok, I admit I closed it down to go to the Sunday Social, but it’s been going hard at it for the last four hours and is still not finished.  I hope the Creators (or is that Creatures) are worth it.  There was a message to say that I could postpone it to allow me to back up the hard drive, but then it seemed to say “Fuck it” and started installing it anyway borking the backup.  That’s what I love about Microsoft, NOTHING.  Macs, even with the despicable El Capitan are so much more user friendly that anything Mickysoft produces.  Windows 7 was the last stable OS on a PC and then Windows 8 came along to be the ‘inbetween OS’  The one that never worked.  No Windows 9 for some reason, maybe the same reason there’s an iPhone 8 and an iPhone X, but no iPhone 9.  Windows 10 started out well, then the inevitable upgraded borked it too.  Hopefully the Creators Upgrade will sort everything out, but I doubt it.  I think I’ll just return it to factory settings after its done its worst.

On a brighter note, Salsa was really fun tonight.  Maybe that’s because we had tapas in the restaurant before the dancing started.  Scamp got to dance with the legendary ‘Jamie’.  Not ‘our Jamie’, nor Jamie Gal, but the strange and twisty turny ‘other Jamie’.  I think Scamp was quite taken aback when he asked her to dance.  She did look terrified when I saw her!!  I should explain that ‘other Jamie’ is an excellent dancer who we see at most of the socials.  We think he is a professional dancer.  A very smooth mover who likes to show off on the floor.  He often dances with guys too!  We did think he might be gay, but he appeared with his wife and wee boy.  I know that’s no proof of anything, but still …  He didn’t ask me to dance, of course.  There were lots of girls there tonight, most of them beginners or pre-beginners if that’s possible.  I danced with a couple of them, but it was more like giving a lesson than dancing.  Not that I minded.  Then I danced with another girl who could dance.  Unfortunately, I overstretched her knowledge with one move, Aficionado and tripped over her feet, landing on my bum amidst peals of laughter.  Shannon, the boss, had been videoing the proceedings earlier, but luckily she didn’t notice my acrobatics, so it’s just between you and me.  First time ever I’ve fallen on the dance floor!  Bummer.  Literally!

Today’s PoD came from the salsa venue, which was La Rambla in Paisley.  I saw it on the cistern in the restaurant toilet today. I just had to go back in and capture this chrome smile.  Glad nobody came in while I was taking the shot. That might have been a difficult one to explain away!

Just checked and as of 12:13am Windows 10, which was predicting 90minutes for the installation at 3pm, is at 92% complete and the helpful message reads:

This may take some time

This week’s sketch is just a doodle trying to sketch people for paintings and the theme is rain and umbrellas, as if you hadn’t guessed.  The weather fairies promise a drier day tomorrow and some sun on Tuesday.  Let’s wait and see.

Despite all the bad weather we’ve been having I still saw some swallows this week, so all is not lost.

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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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Paisley Pattern – 21 May 2017

It was a lazy Sunday with a late start.  I thought we could could go down the Green for a walk, but the rain put an end to that idea.

Started making a mock-up of the stand for the tablet and got a fairly stable version after a few iterations.  Next step is the prototype.  At least that’s what I remember of the Design & Make method … or maybe it’s the prototype first then it’s the mock-up.  I never did work it out.  In fact, I don’t ever remember actually using the design method, but I was happy to teach others that it solved all their problems.  It doesn’t.

Took a walk over St Mo’s later with the Teazer and the ’50 as backup.  This might be my holiday setup if the Teazer starts to cut the mustard.  So far, it’s a hit and a miss.  It’s a nice light little camera with a long zoom.  The CCD is the problem, it’s just too small, but I have to ignore that, stop ‘pixel-peeping’ (that means examining every shot at 100% magnification) and look, really LOOK at the finished result, because after all that is the what I and everyone else will want to see.

After I got back from my photographic sojourn, it was time to get ready to dance.  Today we were going to the uncharted wilds of Paisley.  The last time I was in Paisley, I was driving a hired box van to do a flitting for you, JIC.  That was many years ago.  Checking the height and width of the van against the size of the arch leading to the flat you and Andy were renting.  Anyway, I digress, as I usually do.  We got the train from Croy to Queen Street and then another from Central to Paisley Gilmour Street and walked to La Rambala restaurant.  It was much smaller than our usual Sunday Social floor, but it felt comfortable and the smells from the Spanish restaurant that made up the other half of the building were good.  We’ll go back again and next time we’ll have tapas before dancing.

The train home was full of drunk Sellic supporters fresh from the win against Hearts, a sort of second-hand derby, a cross country derby.  Drove back from the station in sunshine, which was nice.

Today’s PoD is of a tree climbing snail from St Mo’s.  The answer is ‘Because they’re there’  You know the question.

Two little sketches to get the ‘one sketch a week’ thing up to date.  The relation is obvious.  They’re both cameras, in fact, they’re both TZs separated by about nine years which is an age in digital cameras.

Tomorrow it’s Library and Health Centre then dancing at night hopefully with a wee bit of photography in between, DV as always.