A Day at the Seaside – 15 October 2019

Up and out we said. Up and out it was today.

Breakfast downstairs today and out for 10.30. Off to the seaside. I chose Troon as our destination. It began to look a bit dicey when we climbed up the M77 to the top of Fenwick Moor and drove into the low lying cloud. Fog lights on and we carried on. Thankfully after about 15 minutes we were back into sunshine with the cloud looking like a grey wall behind us. From there it was sunshine all the way to Troon.

Couldn’t get parked at the first car park, so we carried on to the one we used to go to round by the harbour. The place with the crashy waves. The waves weren’t crashing today, in fact the sea was very calm with only the slightest movement. Arran’s peaks were poking through some low cloud and made a great PoD. Taken by me, chosen from the sixty odd others by Scamp. We walked round the Ballast Bank by the low and now notifiably DANGEROUS path. Sat for a while on one of the seats by the path. Beautiful views over to Horse Island and Ailsa Craig in the distance. Listened to the hundreds of seabirds on the exposed rocks. It could have been summer, sitting in the sun with the high banking sheltering us from the sun.

Eventually we gave up our seat and walked on into town. Nearly at the town Scamp’s cousin appeared with her daughter and the two of them had a long catch up, nearly blocking the path for everyone else. Eventually we split up and went our separate ways. We walked as far as the wind surfers’ car park at the far end of town. There we turned and walked back in to town. I suggested we go to the Venice cafe for lunch. The best part of half an hour for a roll ’n’ sausage and a roll ’n’ scrambled egg. It’s not that they were busy. We were the only ones waiting to be served. No apologies, nothing. Scamp told them in no uncertain manner that we wouldn’t be back. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say that before. That will give you some idea of how angry she was. Now we know why it wasn’t busy.

Walked back to the car and who should we bump into again? Elspeth and her daughter. They had been to Scotts for lunch and that’s where we had been heading before we met them. Don’t see some folk for ages, then you see them twice in the same day.

Drove home through the usual 4pm traffic. No low cloud or fog this time, just loads and loads of cars on a busy road.

Sketch today was “A Dessert”. We had Meringue with Strawberries and Cream for tonight’s dessert and I attempted to draw that, but wasn’t impressed with the attempt, so I drew Strawberries and Cream instead. Three strawberries and a tub of Elmlea. I liked that one!

Maybe we should keep that Juke. Today we started out with 274 miles predicted in the tank. We arrived home with 295 miles predicted in the tank. It seems like the petrol tank is related to the Magic Porridge Pot that never emptied!

Tomorrow it’s dancing in the afternoon, hopefully.

Making the change – 14 October 2019

Today there will be no lying around. Today I will be active.

That’s what I said anyway. Out fairly early to drop off another sample at the doc’s. Don’t know what they find so fascinating about my pee, but it seems to keep them amused. Back home and today’s work schedule included cleaning the downstairs toilet. It didn’t take long, certainly not nearly as long as the bathroom last week. Probably that’s partly due to the fact that it’s a tiny little space. However I did give it the full “big clean” as one of my cleaners used to call it.

After that it was lunchtime and Scamp suggested I have a couple of slices of my excellent bread with some Wiltshire ham between. What makes the bread extra excellent is that it’s made by Prince Chic (Charles to you, but Chic to his friends). I don’t suppose Chic actually mills the flour himself, but it comes from his estate and it makes very good bread. It was also cheap at Waitrose or I wouldn’t have bought it.

When Gems came in I sat and talked to Margie for a while and showed her my sketches for Inktober. Margie is always very complementary about my work, but she produces some startling paintings herself. Veronica slipped a copy of Wildlife Photographer of the Year onto the table. It seems her son-in-law is a keen wildlife photog. I wouldn’t say that what I take are wildlife photos, more landscapes and macros. I like looking at landscape photos, but find it hard to compose them properly when I’m out and about with a camera. There’s no such problems with macros. With them the big challenges are more technical, like getting the aperture right and trying to get the best use of light. Also there’s the stalking of the tiny wee insects. Great fun, but not really artistic. On first glance at the photos in the book, I’m amazed at the quality and detail. I’ll have a good look before I have to give it back next week.

To continue the ‘active’ theme, I went for a walk along the canal and then on to the railway and that’s where I saw today’s PoD. It’s an old oak tree and I just liked the way the light hit the trunk. It was good to be out in the fresh air under  a blue sky for a change. Took a few more shots, but you’ll have to visit Flickr to see them.   Walking back along the canal, I saw a goosander surface quite close to me with a fish in its beak.  Knew I didn’t have time to grab the camera from my bag and focus, so I just watched it for a while.  It looked quite pleased with it’s early dinner.  Back to M&S for the makings of our own dinner and while I was traipsing around, I got the signal that I’d completed my 10,000 steps. Happy.

Dinner tonight met with a mixed reception. I thought it was great, Scamp was more critical. It was Prawns with Spaghetti and Courgette Spaghetti. Scamp didn’t like the dill that was in it, I didn’t mind. Maybe needs a bit of work.

The topic for today was “A Rowing Boat”. There aren’t many rowing boats lying around waiting to be sketched in the Central Belt of Scotland, so this one came straight out of my head. I quite liked it.

The plan for tomorrow is to get up early and then go to the seaside. Not sure if that will be east or west coast, but the weather looks like it will be fairly dry.

Just another Monday – 7 October 2019

You know how it is when you dream a strange dream and the feeling of it stays with you all day? I had that today.

Drove down to Jim Dickson’s tyre emporium and got a couple of new front tyres put on the Juke. Not the best quality Michelins that were on it from new, but hopefully good winter boots. Only time will tell. Just managed to get back for a quick lunch before Gems descended. Sat and talked to Margie about drawing while she showed me her drawings and I showed mine. Both sets were admired by both parties. And that was the morning gone.

Took the newly booted Juke out for a run to get some inspiration for today’s Inktober sketch which was to be “A Stone”. Drove to Auchinstarry and stopped at the flooded quarry. Lots of stone there, but nothing that inspired me. Walked over the bridge that spans the infantile Kelvin and thought about drawing some of the stones that cap the upstand of the bridge. Took some photos, but without really expecting them to be useful. Further on at the edge of the canal I found a short dry stane dyke and took some photos of it, because that would make a decent sketch.

Walked along the towpath and got the first part of PoD when I took a landscape format shot along the canal with a wee lucky of a cyclist coming the other way. Took another for good measure. Walked along a bit further, but the sun was quite low and blinding, so I turned back. Because the sun was much brighter now I took a few shots from the same place as the first one and the colours in the trees were much better now. Sadly no cyclist for a point of interest.

Back home I isolated the cyclist from the earlier shots and placed him in the better landscape shots from later. After a bit of jiggery pokery he blended is well enough, and that is how you make a PoD! Photographers don’t take photos, they make them.

Salsa tonight was a bit hectic and quite good fun. A weird progressive rueda group of moves with a name that escapes me. New Move 3 from three weeks ago and Chop from a couple of years ago at least, probably nearer five! Only one class and that suited me fine.

Watched, or rather, listened to University Challenge tonight, sketched the dry stane dyke and answered a few of the questions at the same time. Who says men can’t multitask?

Dorothy’s funeral tomorrow.

A museum, a castle and a statue – 27 September 2019

A day out and about in the rain.

Despite the rain this morning, Clive and I drove over to Coatbridge to go to Summerlee. Summerlee has changed its name at least three times since it opened, but basically it’s an industrial museum. Lots of interesting exhibits of machinery and historical items, all with an industrial connection to Lanarkshire. Some were made here and some were used here. It brought back a lot of memories to me and also to Clive, I’m sure. Back out into the rain after an hour or so and drove home.

Lunch, then out again. This time we were going up the Tak Ma Doon road, over the top and on to Stirling, taking in the scenery as we went. Drove up to Stirling Castle and had a short walk down into the upper part of the town. We were just too late to have a decent look inside the castle grounds, and to walk through the grounds of the Church of the Holy Rude.

Back in the Juke and on to David Stirling’s monument between Dunblane and Doune. I must say, this is my favourite panorama anywhere in the local area. The light on the hills, the animation of the statue with his coat apparently blowing in the wind and reason for it being there make it worth visiting. David Stirling was the man who started the SAS. Drove back home along the M9 and M80 with far less than the expected miles of jams to contend with which was a great bonus.

Tonight we went out to dinner at Milano. We all had pizza. Scamp had a Vegetarian Pizza while Clive and I had Quattro Stagioni Calzone. I meant to photograph the calzones. It’s the first time I’ve seen a pizza dough sliced into four pockets and each pocket filled with a different filling. Really excellent. Scamp discovered that we were sitting next to three girls she used to know and one of them knew a woman I worked with in Cumby High! What are the chances of that?

Drinks all round when we got home to celebrate an excellent week. Really enjoyed Clive’s company and sense of humour. He brightened up our week, hope we did the same for his.

On a sad note, we discovered today that Dorothy died last night. The funeral is on the 8th of October.

PoD for today is a pano made up from six portrait frames. Taken from Stirling Castle.

Tomorrow we are aiming to get up at 6am for an early breakfast before we drive Clive to the airport.

Kelpied – 24 September 2019

Today we were all Kelpied!

Today dawned dry but a bit dreary. However, it soon brightened up and we thought we’d risk a run to the Kelpies. It all went well until we were almost at the M9 then the car seemed to be misfiring, which is strange because it had been running so well since its last service. I hadn’t bought petrol from anywhere other than my usual two petrol stations and I hadn’t run the level down until the red light came on. So that should rule out the possibility of a little bit of dirt getting in to the carburettor or the jets, whatever it is the Juke has. Made the decision to detour via the Nissan garage in Stirling, where the service manager came to see what the problem was. He gave it a fair run through the gears, fierce acceleration and gentle driving, but could not replicate the problem. There was little more the poor man could do, but he took it in to the service bay, put it on the computer and pronounced it clean. No problems listed. Finally he suggested we drive off and if the problem reared its head again, we should book it in for a full day check. Clive and I were puzzled. We couldn’t agree on a possible cause and he knows a lot more about cars than me. It ran perfectly for the rest of the day.

Got to the Kelpies and wandered round them just taking them in. Glad to see that Clive was equally entranced with these beautiful equine sculptures. We both took lots of photos of them from different angles and in different lighting conditions. Scamp was also taking photos, but I think we were the subjects. People are more important than places to her and that’s probably her greatest photographic strength. She captures people very much better than me.

From Grangemouth, we said goodbye to the Kelpies and headed round the outskirts of Falkirk to The Falkirk Wheel. The giant boat lift was one of the things that Clive had wanted to see and we arrived just as it was doing a lift, so he got to see it in action right away. I took the car away to park it and met them in the shadow of the great wheel where we discussed the mechanics of this modern wonder. We waited for another boat to be lifted and after a swift look in the visitor centre, I found the one ticket machine that was working and paid for our parking. For a visitor centre which was meant to show this wonder of engineering design, there were a host of machines with OUT OF ORDER signs on them. Almost nothing of any note was working. Poor show Falkirk. Drove home and arrived just as the rain was starting.

PoD was a view of the Kelpies reflected in the turning pool of the canal.

Tomorrow we may go to Glasgow, but it depends on the weather.

Today I peed in a bucket – 20 September 2019

It was a bit more high tech than that, but basically that’s what they do for a ‘flow test’.

It’s the tech below the bucket that does all the clever stuff, measuring the rate of flow and producing a graph. Apparently I’d produced a classic bell shaped graph which is perfect. The nurse also gave me my PSA reading from the blood test and explained it all. The reading was 2.2 for those who understand such things. Way down the scale from the 5 I was producing back in February/March. She also showed me my blood sugar reading which was 47, but that was down from the 50 I’d had back in June, so it’s now off the Diabetic range and into the Pre-diabetic area. You’re never ever going to get off the scale. Once they’ve got their hooks into you, they don’t let you go.

So it was a Happy Boy who left Monklands with Scamp this afternoon. A little bit less to worry about. Back home I sorted out my car insurance which was another thing I was reminding myself to do before the end of the month. One thing left to do is pay the Road Tax. That has to be done before the end of the month too. September is always an expensive month. It used to be March, for the same reasons!

Scamp wanted to do some gardening when we got home, so I did the sensible thing and took the bike out for a run in the surprisingly warm sunshine. It’s not often I can go out on the bike with shorts and a cycling top. When I was out I got some more brambles, but I think this lot will be the last. I didn’t see any ripening fruit. It was either ripe or turning to mush. We’ve got a fair bit this year, almost 2kg now. Freezer is full of bags bulging with deep purple berries.

PoD was almost a tie between a macro of a Cranesbill (Geranium maculatum) and an HDR shot of some corn bales. The corn bales won. What surprised me about the HDR shot was the way the camera just took over and did it. So easy! (I’m not going to explain what an HDR shot is because JIC will just complain about technospeak!).

That’s about it for today. The day I peed in a bucket and got a bell shaped graph. I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere. Tomorrow Scamp wants to go out somewhere if it’s ‘nice’. Neither of us have a clue where that place is.

Roundabout chaos – 23 August 2019

It was one of those days that promised a lot but failed to deliver

In the morning, it looked like it would brighten up and be a lovely day. Good wind to break up the clouds and just the hint of sunshine and blue sky now and again. However, it didn’t quite make it and it all degenerated into a dull, cloudy day.

It didn’t keep us in, not us. We were out and ready to buy a new strimmer cable and were driving merrily along past St Mo’s school when the traffic all jammed up. The lights had been switched on and they weren’t properly phased in. Confusing signals from the lights on the roundabout and drivers unsure of what was being asked of them brought the entire roundabout to a halt. Really and truly, in this day and age I’d have expected a computer model to have been built to check the traffic flow. Yes, it would have cost money, but so do six technicians wandering around with their chins on their hands, looking at the carnage on the roundabout and pretending they were thinking about it. What they were really doing was waiting for someone, anyone with a plan to tell them what they’d done wrong. Most of them were wearing brand new Hi Vis jackets, not a mark on them. These weren’t workies, these were managers, consultants and planners and all of them numpties. We managed to get through the mess and bought the strimmer cable then drove home. It was still the same when we drove round the roundabout a second time. Six numpties without a clue how to fix it. Oh dear.

We drove in to the new shops and this time we were buying!! Prices weren’t too bad. Haven’t checked the quality yet, but it’s another option for shopping and a competitor for Tesco can’t be a bad thing.

After lunch I went for a run and avoided the roundabout from hell. Drove over to Fannyside and got a few photos, but it’s just not the same as Venice or Dubrovnik, it’s just Fannyside. The best of a bad lot got PoD. On the way home, just for the fun of it, I drove round the roundabout which was doing what it says on the tin, making the traffic travel round it. Somebody, somewhere had found the solution. Ask a workie who would actually know what they were doing and get him to fix it.

Couldn’t be bothered going to the Balloon Festival tonight. No other reason, just couldn’t be bothered.

Tomorrow we may go out to lunch somewhere nice.

Out to lunch – 5 July 2019

Dull again with the threat of rain. A Scottish Summer.

Didn’t have a lot planned today, in fact we both had nothing planned. Did a bit more to the waistcoat in the morning. Stitched the welts up and then stitched them on to the waistcoat front. Such a lot of faffing about just to make two fake pockets. I ask you. Do these designer people have so much time on their hands, they just make tricky things like this simply to make the sewing difficult? What’s the point in taking an hour to make a pocket that you can’t use? Nonsense! Ought not to be allowed, if you ask me. Anyway it’s done now and they do look good even if it’s just a place to keep your you odd 20p. If tomorrow is as inviting as today, I’ll start the belt up the back, if that’s not a rude expression!

Went out to Milano Express for a lunchtime pizza each. I had a ’Meat Feast’ and it was good, but got a taste of Scamp’s veggie pizza and it was really nice. May try that some time. Very tasty. Dropped Scamp at home and took the Juke for a drive looking for a view I’d seen from the motorway one day. It was burned in my memory. A yellow field on a hill with a small stand of trees at the top. Took me ages to find it and by that time, what good light there had been had disappeared and there was rain in the wind. Took the photo of course, but will try again on a better day, DV. Today’s shot is on Flickr.

Today’s PoD was taken on a walk around the block to get my 250 steps per hour done. It’s a dog rose (Rosa canina) or what’s left of it once the petals have fallen. I always think they look so much more interesting and ‘graphic’ with just the bare bones of the flower showing.

Highlight of the day was those pizzas in Milano Express. Cheap and cheerful.

Tomorrow we may go in to Stirling or Glasgow. Not too far anyway.

A Stitch in time – 4 July 2019

Today was dull. No sunshine. A very short sprinkle of rain. Nothing for it but to get the needles and pins out.

After breakfast I took the scissors and cut out the front of the waistcoat complete with all those strange wee triangles that stick out of cut out patterns. After consulting with Scamp and also after watching a few YouTube videos I was prepared to mark the darts with needle and thread. I’d also seen a video that recommended using a chinagraph pencil to mark out the lines. What it failed to mention was that when you iron the darts flat, the heat melts the marks made by the chinagraph pencil and they disappear. Numpty. I forgot the three rules of watching YouTube videos:

  1. Don’t believe anything you see here.
  2. Don’t try this at home.
  3. If you must ignore Rule 1 and Rule 2, test it on a scrap piece first.

Luckily the iron wasn’t quite hot enough and I could see the marks faintly glowing on the dark material. Then I used tailor’s chalk to complete the marking.
Later in the morning, I fired up the sewing machine and after a bit of jiggery pokery with Thread Tension, Stitch Width and Sweary Words, I’d stitched the darts to my satisfaction. Later I made a Welt (No, I don’t know what it is either). Exhausted, that’s where I left it today.

The DPD man came to deliver my new batteries for the new toy. Hopefully they’ll be more successful than the other lot and I set them to charge while I took the old Oly 5 for a walk around the pond. Not many beasties about, but I did get a moody shot of an old apple tree growing all by itself in the park. After a bit of work in ON1, that became PoD.

Dinner tonight was a delicious piece of smoked haddock with chips. Watched the tennis, well it was on everywhere by the look of things, and eventually managed to get the TV to respond to the Red Button to allow us to watch Andy Murray and his partner win their doubles match. Doubles is so much more interesting than singles. No long tedious grunt punctuated rallies. Much faster and good fun wondering what they were whispering to each other between shots of banging the ball over the net. Probably just deciding who’s round it is in the bar after the game.

Hoping against hope for a nice sunny day tomorrow to brighten up the end of the week and for a chance to take the OM D E-M1 (Now renamed Oly 1) out for a few shots of somewhere nice.

A New Toy – 2 July 2019

Ordered on-line yesterday, delivered free to the store today.  Impressive.

Ordered a second hand Panasonic 14mm lens on-line from WEX at lunchtime yesterday and got an email from them today, just 24 hours later, to say it was ready for collection in their Glasgow store.  Impressive service.  So, I drove in and picked it up.  I could have waited until tomorrow, but I was doing nothing else today and it seemed a pity for it to be cooling its heels in a store room when I could be putting it through its paces in  the sunshine.  Drove home via B&Q to get some black Sugru to try to fix the battery door on my old, but good Oly E-PL5.  However, as usual with this branch, they had blue, red, yellow and white Sugru, but no BLACK.  Left disappointed and drove over to the Antonine Wall and got some landscape shots of the hay bales under a blue sky.  The above shot made PoD.  I must admit I’m impressed with the lens.  In case you’re interested (I know you’re not). It’s a Silver Panasonic 14mm F2.5 Lumix G II ASPH Lens.  It came in its original box with the instructions and warranty still in their sealed wrapper.  Nobody reads instructions these days.  If in doubt, Google it.  What do you mean you don’t have a computer?  How the hell are you going to view your photos?  Take the disk in to Boots and ask them to print them?

While I was out doing the rounds, Scamp was at lunch with her pal.  She should have gone last week, but uncharacteristically, forgot.  By the time I got back, so was she.  Basically, that was the day.  Highlight for me was the new lens.  Highlight for Scamp was lunch and a natter.  We’re easily pleased, you see!

Tomorrow we’re probably going dancing in the afternoon at Michael’s Fun Palace, and he better be on his best behaviour or fur will fly! Then intending to go to Jamie Gal’s Salsa class at night.  Should be a fun day!!!