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A day in the toon – 24 June 2017

A bit later than normal, we made our way into Glasgow for a wee wander.

Started with pizza for lunch in Paesano and then a coffee in Nero. I was looking for a new sketch book, now that the Seawhite landscape I’ve been using has run out of space and the Paperchase book I was intending to replace it with has failed to hold a watercolour wash. I didn’t find one and think now that I may have to revert to the Pink Pig books I’ve been using for years. They have these three benefits:

  • I’ve used them before and they are smooth with good tooth.
  • They hold a watercolour wash with ease.
  • They cost nothing, because I already have them

They have one drawback and that’s the fact that they are wire bound, so you can’t simply open them out and draw across the fold in the same way that you can with a perfect bound book like a Moleskine. Ah, life is a set of compromises and so it is with sketchbooks too, it seems.

When we were walking back to the car I saw a bloke selling white beanie hats. Couldn’t understand why, then I noticed that they had The Stone Roses printed on them. So that’s why there were so many people wandering around ‘The Toon’. Then two blokes passed and one said to the other “… and there I was standing right next to Ian Brown.” Isn’t he the one who looks like a monkey? Ian Brown that is, not the bloke who passed, although he did have that simian look about him too.

The wind was getting quite fierce on the way home, but I didn’t have a photo apart from this controversial one from Buchanan Galleries carpark, so I went for a walk around St Mo’s with Big Dog and the 105mm Macro and the Teazer as backup. It was the Nikon that produced the pic of the bee.

We had intended to go dancing at night, but neither of us were that bothered, so we had a night in instead. I managed to get a very bad sketch completed. It won’t be vying for Sketch of the Week.

No plans for tomorrow.

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Rain – 6 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Before Ten? Ok Boss – 1 June 2017

Contrary to what we expected, it was dull, but dry this morning.  While Scamp did some washing, I started today’s Sudoku.  Each to his (or her) own.

Later, Scamp started to defrost the freezer.  With two of us on it, we did actually get it done a bit quicker.  Then we had to decide what would go back in.  The oldest item we found was a set of pork ribs dating to 2015.  They were a no-brainer, they had to go, in fact they almost walked to the bin themselves.  The rest was more difficult, but we did create some space by dumping some of the older bits and pieces.  Some space that could accommodate a couple of tubs of ice cream if only we had some.  If only we had a reason to got to the ice cream shop in Muirhead.  Scamp decided it would be good to go out to lunch and I decided to go to a tiny wee garden centre and cafe at Johnston Loch which is about two miles from the ice cream shop.  Sorted.

Lunch was a simple toastie, a panini and a couple of pots of tea.  Then we went to the ice cream shop for Toffee & Fudge for Scamp and Strawberries & Cream for me.

With the freezer replenished and the rain starting to get serious, we headed for home.  I went for a wet walk to St Mo’s and got the photo you see above.  Not brilliant, but given that it was taken at ISO 5000, it ain’t at all bad.

Spoke to JIC on the phone tonight and he asked for the blog to be up by 10pm.  Hope this is what the doctor ordered!

One last thing.  I know it’s after the 10pm curfew, but here goes.
I’ve become lax with sketching recently.  In an attempt to jolt myself back to inky fingers again I’ve started J’ Ink 17 J’ Ink 17 is short for June Ink 2017. A challenge to  myself to do at least one sketch, drawing, painting etc. a day for the month of June.’   This is day one.

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A sea of green – 28 May 2017

I thought it would be a good idea to go down The Green this morning for a wee walk.  So did a few thousand others, it seemed.

I’d made the fatal mistake of forgetting that yesterday twenty two men had been running around a green field chasing a ball in the rain  Eleven of them got a trophy for doing the running better than the other eleven.  The ones who won the trophy were wearing green and white shirts.  The losers were wearing red.  Today we were driving against a sea of green and white tee shirts.  Luckily.  If we had been going the other way, in the direction the crowd were going, we would still be waiting in that traffic jam.  Also, we started out fairly early and the traffic was light.  Later, when we were coming home the traffic queue was from Parkhead to the slip road from the motorway, in fact they were queueing along the inside lane of the westbound M80, a distance of about 5 miles!  Fanaticism!

However, it didn’t really affect us.  We drove to the People’s Palace and parked there then went for a walk along The Green to the McLennan Arch and back along the riverside to the suspension bridge.  Along the way I spotted on Mr McGivern who was the bane of my life for the last two years as a PT.  He worked two days of the two years he was meant to be with us.  A ghost of a man who screwed the system and probably still does so.  I didn’t speak to him.

We stood on the suspension bridge and watched the people rowing up and down the river.  Young and old, fit and unfit, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunshine, especially after yesterday’s rain.  We headed for home after that, without even our usual tea ’n’ toast or roll ’n’ sausage.

It was on the way home we saw the extent of fandom for Celtic.  So glad we were going the other way.  After lunch and a pretty boring Monaco GP, I drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal to Twechar and back along the railway path.  Saw a Humming Bird Hawk Moth.  The first time I’ve seen one in Scotland.  Photo wasn’t all that good, because I was using the Teazer and it’s not really designed for my kind of macro photography.  Should have taken the Oly 10 as a banker.  Next time, yes, next time.  It was when I was crossing the plantation I saw Bolt.  That’s his name and his photo is at the top of the page.  Cheery wee guy and PoD.

Dinner was roast chicken with cabbage (because it was there) and potatoes.  Lovely warm day and I well exceeded my step count.

Tomorrow, no Gems, but it’s forecast for rain.

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Tick – 26 May 2017

First tick this year. Let’s hope it’s the last. Tiny wee bugger under my watch strap. Beginning to nip now.

Another very hot day, well, very hot for Scotland. Sat out in the garden reading for a while but had to keep going in to the shade to cool down. Got he call from the car hospital about 11.00 to say that the car was ready to collect.

Picked up the car from the garage Car Hospital. They had replaced the radiator after having to remove the entire front of the car. Changed days from when my father in law and I removed the radiator from my Reliant Regal with the aid of a couple of spanners and a screwdriver. Then we took it to Hillington in Glasgow where he soldered a couple of cracks in the fins and brazed the bottom pipe back on.  Then we reinstalled it with the same two tools we’d used to remove it. Life was so much simpler then.

Drove to Torwood to get some more plants for the garden. This time the plants were herbs and vegetables. The radiator worked perfectly but unfortunately on the hottest day of the year (28ºc) the air-con has packed in. It was a very uncomfortable drive home. I think the time has come for the Megane and us to part company. I’ve enjoyed driving it for the eight years I’ve had it. It’s a bugger to park and the visibility to the rear is very poor, but other than that, it’s a very comfortable car to drive … and it goes fast, or at least it did when it was in its prime. I suppose we all did when we were younger.

I took a walk over to St Mo’s before dinner but didn’t get much. To many dobbers wandering around half cut with bottles of Buckfast. A typical Friday night in Cumbersheugh.

Today’s PoD if from the garden and is a rogue floret from one of the alliums (or allii if you’re being pedantic) in the front garden.

That was about it really. Tomorrow? Apparently we need some shopping – don’t we always? Then we need to sit indoors and watch the rain.

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Toy Off The Rack – 18 May 2017

Drove in to Glasgow to have another look at the TZ60 and the TZ70.

After a lot of soul searching, I made the decision to buy the 70.  I won’t go in to the reasons because it’s of no interest to anyone but me.  It’s a clever bit of kit.  The two big winners for me were its ability to shoot in RAW and the fact that it had an EVF.  Again, I won’t explain why they were important, they just were and although the EVF isn’t quite as clear as I’d like and the RAW files need a bit of tweaking before Lightroom will accept them, I’m happy to put up with that as long as the results are worth it.  At present, I think they are.

Had lunch at Zizzi in Exchange Square.  Scamp had Ravioli and I had a Beef and Venison Ragu with some posh spiral spaghetti.  It was OK, but nothing to write home about, so I won’t write about it here either.

Went a walk down the town looking for inspiration for a sketch, but the Inspiration shop was closed on a Thursday, so I came home empty handed.  I did try a sketch in the sun outside Nero in St Enoch’s, but it didn’t quite work.  I may go back to it some time, but not today.

Got  the photo of the dandelion over in St Mo’s.  I accidentally overexposed it, although Lightroom tells me that I didn’t.  Anyway, I did some jiggery pokery in Lightroom to create a high key version and I quite like the result.  It was taken with the Oly 10 because the Teazer was still charging its battery at the time.

Listening to New Masters by someone called Cat Stevens on Spotify as I write this.  The album dates from 1967.  Positively Prehistoric.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to get some more photos taken with the new Toy Off The Rack.  Also hoping for another beautiful day like today.

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Testing – 12 May 2017

Scamp kindly offered me a run to the train station today because I wanted to go camera shop window shopping and she didn’t.

First stop was Jessops.  It used to be good, a long time ago, then it became truly terrible and eventually died.  It was taken over and re-energised by Peter Jones famous for Dragon’s Den.  For a while it became more like a photography shop again, but recently it’s become run down, staffed by people who don’t know what they’re talking about and just plain crap.  However, it was there or JL.  At least you can pick up the cameras in Jessops, even if most of them have almost no charge in the battery.  The big failing point for Jessops is the staff.  They think they know it all, and they don’t.  For selling point ’n’ shoot cameras to little old ladies, they’re fine.  Ask them questions about the more juicy details of a camera’s specification and you get that rabbit in the headlights look.  Either that or they tell you the first thing that comes into their head and then argue black is white that they’ve ‘Read it in a review’.  No you haven’t mate, you just made that up.  That was the case today.  Apparently Panasonic are wrong to say that the sensor size in the TZ 70 and the TZ60 are exactly the same size.  The schoolboy who served me today told me that the TZ70’s sensor is ‘just slightly bigger’.  Utter crap.  “Could I put a card in it, to try it?” I asked Mr Know-it-all. “Eh no actually.  Sorry.  You need a screwdriver to take the security device off.”  So you expect me to pay three hundred odd quid without checking the quality of the lens?  “Yes.  Sorry.”  See what I mean about Jessops.  They’re on the slippery slope.

JL were worse.  After waiting for 15 minutes for a promised sales assistant to allow me to touch the TZ70, one arrived and opened the case.  “Could I put a card in it, to try it?” I asked, “Yessssss??” was the hesitant reply. “If you …..”I didn’t wait to find out what I had to do, I just stuck an SD card in the camera and took a couple of shots.  It seemed ok.  “Can you tell me what the ring around the lens does?” I asked.  “I think it’s for focusing or something, but I’m not sure”  was the answer.  Her parting shot was the winner for me: “If you’ve got any questions, just come and ask me.”  By this time, I’d had enough.  I thanked my assistant and went to get the train home.

When I got back home, I eagerly fired up Lightroom to see what the purloined shots from the TZ70 with the ‘slightly bigger sensor’ would look like.  I’d deliberately chosen RAW and JPG files as the format.  Sorry JIC, is this giving you a headache?  Anyway, poor little Lightroom 5 just stared at the grey square in  the import dialog and said “I don’t know what this is.”  It appears that the RAW file requires Lightroom 6 to open it.  All that time wasted!  But there was an elegant solution (isn’t there always?)  It seems like that if you edit the EXIF (which is the little database inside almost every computer file) and change the camera model from TZ70 to TZ60, it will load perfectly.  I did and it did.  The result wasn’t earth shattering.  Well, the subject was a rack of ‘toy cameras’ in JL, so the subject matter wasn’t fantastic, but the quality wasn’t either.  It wasn’t bad, considering that the sensor (the digital ‘film’) is about half the size of an adult male’s pinkie nail.  It just wasn’t what I’m used to.  Size IS everything in cameras.

I think I’ve talked myself out of a superzoom compact camera.  I much prefer the quality of my Olys, despite their weight.  I took them out to run around St Mo’s for a while later in the afternoon sunshine.  That’s where today’s PoD came from.  It’s a Jenny Long Legs, also known as a Crane Fly.  The other two scary flies didn’t make it to PoD, but are available for your inspection on Flickr.

Tomorrow it’s going to rain.  So say the weather pixies.

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Damsel Day – 6 May 2017

After yesterday’s peregrinations across the breadth of Scotland, we had decided to have a day at home.

While Scamp went out to search for provisions, I made myself a cup of coffee and sat on the front step in the sun.  While I was sitting, I spotted this week’s potential sketch.  It’s just the house across the road.  Nothing special about it, just a corner house with some trees in front and some scrubby bushes.  Sometimes you miss what’s right in front of your face.

After lunch we went our separate ways.  Scamp to cut the grass and plant out some alpines and me to cycle, hoping for a few damselflies to photograph.  It seemed such a lovely day, it was a shame to waste it sitting around on the step or even worse still, moping around the house.

With a couple of squirts of WD 40 on the bike we were ready for the off.  The outward leg was so very easy, I knew it was a bad sign.  It was a tailwind.  The wind was from the east and also stronger than it was in the morning.  That meant it would be a headwind on the way home.  However, after wandering around for a while without any signs of insect life, I caught a few shots of a hoverfly sitting on my bike jacket.  A nice little one, with bright yellow stripes.  Maybe someone on Flickr will ID it for me.  Then I saw a little red damsel.  The first I’ve seen in Scotland this year.  I saw some in Tobago in February, but that’s a different world.  Here we don’t usually see damsels until the end of May or the beginning of June.  Early May is very unusual.  Got a few shots of it, then started to plan them a bit better, trying to get at 90º to its long body to keep as much as possible in sharp focus.  Almost impossible with the extension tubes and the very narrow depth of field.  Still, got a few ‘keepers’.  Nice colour on the body and thorax.

As I predicted, the homeward leg was a struggle with a gusty eastern wind.  Bag was heavy too with a couple of rocks to create perches for the smaller birds in the birdbath.

Dinner was the second attempt at Spanish Rice (just as good as the first.)  While I was making it, Scamp was sunning herself with a Pimms for company in the back garden.  Yes, she did have her sun cream on.

Watched the BFG on Amazon Prime tonight.  Great escapist fun.

Tomorrow?  Probably dancing in the afternoon, the rest is up for grabs.

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The man who worked in the garden … 20 April 2017

Another early rise this morning to go, not for a walk over St Mo’s this time, but to Tesco for muesli which I fancied for my breakfast.  A lovely morning with bright sunshine although the weather fairies depressingly predicted clouds drifting in from the north.

After that bout of energy, and after breakfast, Hazy Skyped for a while.  By then it was about lunchtime, or should that be ’dinner time’ (all will be explained later 1 ).

After dinner oops, lunch, I settled down to watch episode 1 of Lucifer.  Brilliant.  Such deadpan humour.  I might even extend Prime, just to watch it.  Thank you for the heads-up Hazy.

Then the man came with the greenhouse.  It was a dawdle to set up and it was soon in its place in the garden after digging up the roots of an old bush and levelling the ground again to move the magnolia tree.  It’s not an enormous greenhouse, but it is green and has a ridged roof, like a house, so it’s a green-house and now has a few plants in it.  Planted seeds of  English basil, and some English peas.  Still to plant the English beetroot.

To ensure we did have even more plants, we went to B&Q and bought some seedtrays and a pot of flowers.  While we were there, I went to Currys.  I’d been last week to see if they had cheap bluetooth keyboards to use with my Linx 10 tablet.  They did have, but when I took it to the till, two assistants were serving one customer while a queue formed.  The store manager seemed to be enjoying berating a junior employee quite loudly in the middle of the store.  I got fed up and went to return the keyboard when he said “I’ll take that over at the other till sir.”  I told him he was too late, but he didn’t seem concerned.
Today, I relented and decided that last week was a one off and went back to Currys to get the keyboard.  This time when I took it to the till, the assistant was on the phone trying to get some issue for a customer cleared up.  Again a ‘manager’ was standing in the middle of the store, this time watching a video on a man’s laptop.  It did not appear that this was a problem he was solving, in fact it looked like a couple of friends discussing something.  Again, I gave up after a few minutes.  Walked past the ‘manager’, yes, he did have a badge on with his title, put the keyboard back and walked out.  Not a word was spoken this time.  Don’t they want sales in this shop?  Harrumph!

Went to St Mo’s when I came back.  Got a few macros and that was it.

Tomorrow is Friday and that might mean a day In The Toon.  Perhaps.


  1. In the children’s tv program Bill an Ben, the mysterious gardener goes for his dinner in the middle of the day, not lunch, dinner.  This allows the Flowerpot Men and Little Weed to get up to mischief.  The show ends when ‘The man who worked in the garden had finished his dinner and was coming down the garden path!’
    For a much deeper social commentary on ‘The man who …’, go here.  Who knew there was such a deep undercurrent of social division in this children’s programme? 
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I’m almost ready to ‘Jacket In’ – 4 April 2017

Went in to Glasgow this morning to look at more jackets.

I now know about ‘active shell’ jackets, ‘3 in 1s’. I can discuss the merits of DryVent™, HyVent® and GORE-TEX®. I know the difference between waterproofs and showerproofs and all the benefits of breathables. I’m at a bit of a loss to understand what a ‘grown on hood’ is! Do you have to sow hood seeds that will germinate when it rains? Or do you simply transplant one from another jacket? What I still haven’t found is a jacket that’s waterproof, breathable and under my price range WITH LOTS OF POCKETS! How difficult can it be? As you will have guessed, I didn’t get one.

Went to Millers Art shop to get Granulation Medium and tried it out when we got home. Strangely, using it with Ultramarine, which is quite a granular colour, it seemed to make no difference at all. Using it with a gentle orange, created a marked granular effect. Others colours were between these extremes. I think it will need a bit more experimentation. Also got a replacement Micron 0.3 pen, because I’ve burned out the last one!

Went to J&M in Hamilton for dinner tonight and drove through the M74 roadworks. Not too horrendous. However, the return after dark was a different story. Supposedly a 50mph speed limit, but we were never going to reach that. 35mph for the extent was a more realistic figure. I pity the poor commuters who have to pass through this every day.

Today’s pic is of Scamp’s pansy seedlings.  Almost ready to thin out.  Sweet peas are already outside being hardened off.

Another early rise is forecast tomorrow.