Just another Sunday

No breakfast in bed this morning. There was an F1 GP to be watched.

Up and having breakfast in the living room just after 8am. Interesting GP, slightly spoiled by the fact that Leclerc wasn’t allowed to race against Vettel. Come on Ferrari, it’s called a ‘Race’. If you keep protecting spoilt child Vettel, he’ll actually believe he’s number 1 driver. Be afraid Seb, the Russians are coming in the shape of Kvyat. I’m pretty sure he’ll have you in his sights and team orders won’t mean much then. Still a pretty good race.

Spent most of the afternoon making preparations for the mid-week, then got fed up and went for a walk in the sunshine in St Mo’s. Got a glimpse of three deer, but not before they saw me. I got a few shots of them, but nothing worth PoD. That went to a shot of the male and female flowers on a larch. Such a pretty thing and I only noticed it for the first time last year.

We went to the last ever Sunday Social at La Rambla in Paisley. Great food again. Black Pudding with Chorizo in a Red Wine Sauce was the star. Second was the Patatas Gradtinatas. Like I said yesterday, I’ll miss the food, but not the service. Really, four people working the bar with only one customer. One person took the order, passed it over to another who worked the till (after a long consultation with the menu). Meanwhile the first person poured the drinks and the second person took the money. What were the other two doing? It was anyone’s guess. It’s closing soon, no surprise to us.

Salsa was well run as usual by Shannon. I must say that for her, she works hard at providing social salsa dancing in and around Glasgow. It wasn’t as busy as we thought it would be, but we did manage a couple of hours dancing which was fine for us.

Gems day tomorrow, so I’ll get out of the way.

Minimal driving day – 11 March 2019

It was agreed that we wouldn’t be driving far today.

In fact we did very little today. Spoke to Hazy for a while and compared blue skies. Discussed gardens and Christmas plans, yes, Christmas plans already!

Started a wee bit of painting from Skye and in the style of one of the paintings I’d seen in the “Biscuit Tin”. Never quite got it finished because, as you’ve probably guessed today was the day for writing up the blog posts and posting the photos on Flickr. Put a pair of headphones on to drown out Gems and just got on with it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get round to finishing the painting and restarting the Apple Gallery.

Also grabbed a shot of one of Scamp’s sweet pea plants which is just forming its first ‘real’ leaves and that became PoD. That’s the result of being too lazy to go out. Tomorrow I must gee myself.

Salsa tonight was good fun as usual. Six thirty class has now moved on to level 2 and are Improvers. They were doing Enchufé tonight. In the advance class at 7.30 the ‘new’ old move was Swish along with the others we’d been doing last week.

That’s about it. Tomorrow we’re going for the ‘messages’. Wild weather forecast.

A better dancing day – 6 March 2019

At least for me.

The day started with Scamp visiting Tesco and me attempting an apple portrait in pastel. That didn’t work, so I tried again in watercolour. That wasn’t much better, so I left it, hoping to complete it after we came back from Blackfriars.

Drove in to Glasgow through torrential rain and then when we walked out of the multi-storey carpark, the sun came out. In the jive class, for most of the time I was doing well. Certainly a good deal better than last week, but that wouldn’t be difficult. Today it was Scamp who was making a few mistakes. A most unusual situation for her. In quickstep we both made bloomers, but I think I made the most. As usual, our first dance was great. We even managed to complete the fishtails without tripping over one another and then it all went to pieces. Waltz was just one disaster after another. Yes, in retrospect Jive was the highlight of the ballroom day.

Came home and planted the chestnuts that I’d gathered up in the autumn. Planted them in some papier mache egg boxes and put them in the little greenhouse. Hopefully they’ll sprout and I’ll be able to plant them out in their little biodegradable pots in St Mo’s. Back where most of them came from. While I was in the garden I grabbed today’s PoD. It’s one of a host of crocuses that have taken over one of Scamps containers. Yes, I’ve changed my mind. Croci sounds too arty farty. I think Crocuses is more down to earth.

I attempted to repair this morning’s apple portrait, but it just wasn’t working so I left it and went to tend to my beef olives which were to be my dinner with some potatoes. Scamp was having ‘Rats’ with potatoes instead. My olives were really tasty, but Scamp complained that her Rats were too salty. That’s when I remembered that I’d completely forgotten to salt my beef olives. Still, it didn’t seem to spoil the taste at all.

Salsa at night was fun and furious in the first class and dull in the second. I think this was mainly because the second class was so small and the participants were not all that bright, apart from Scamp and myself of course! Anyway, the class is closing soon and I think most of them are going to merge into the 6.30 class.

While we were watching ‘Shetland’ tonight I picked up an apple and started to eat it. Scamp asked me if I had sketched it first and when I said I’d started a drawing upstairs in the morning she looked very disapproving, so I grabbed a sketch book and drew the offending article. Tried painting it too, but the warm room lighting made colour evaluation too difficult, so I gave that up. The sketch got Scamp’s approval and I got to eat the remainder of the apple.

Tomorrow up early for a change.

Out to lunch – 1 March 2019

Out for lunch at The Cotton House. Glad we booked!

First time we’ve been there and couldn’t get parked. Eventually found a space away round the back of the buildings. Had to walk for miles to get to the restaurant – slight exaggeration. I had Chicken noodle soup and Scamp had boring spring rolls. She had Chicken and Mushroom for a main I had the much more exciting Chicken with Ginger and Spring Rolls. It was good to have something other than our usual Chicken Chow Mien.

Came home via Lidl to get some fruit and maybe some coloured pencils which somebody on 28DL had said were worth trying. Apparently the artists in Kilsyth had thought so too, because there were none to be seen. We still managed to buy much more than ‘some fruit’ and came out with two laden bags.

Forgot to get my pills from Boots and petrol, so I went back out and returned by way of St Mo’s so I wouldn’t have to lug my tripod all the way from the house. My target today was one of the larch flowers which are so difficult to catch shooting freehand. The tripod did make it easier, but because the flowers are at the end of the branches, they move in even the slightest of breezes. Captured one successfully and that became PoD.

Basically, that was it for the day. Not the brightest day, the ISO the camera chose was 4000 which is quite high. A bit colder than usual too, but better to make the most of it because it looks like rain tomorrow.

Scamp, June and Isobel are going to a matinee of Sister Act tomorrow and I’ve volunteered to be taxi driver. That should give me some free time in the afternoon to get an apple drawing done. First one was done today. You’ll have to believe me because I aint going to post it!

A Sociable Sunday – 24 February 2019

After a lazy start, the lazy theme continued.

We were going to a Sunday Social in Mango today, the rest of the day was planned round that. In the morning I divided up the mince I’d bought last week and vacuumed it into bags for freezing then started on cleaning the coffee maker. I’ve had the Gaggia coffee machine for years and it gives sterling service, but occasionally the cup holder leaks hot water into the coffee and the grounds holder comes away from the holder just when you don’t want it to. It makes a terrible racket when it’s actually making coffee and all of these are signs that it wants a good clean. It’s not been done this year, so today was the day. Stripped it down as far as I dare and cleaned all the bits I could reach before re-assembling in the time honoured Haynes manner (re-assembly is the reverse of disassembly). It made an even worse racket until I managed to get the airlock out of the system. After that it ran as sweet as a nut and the coffee tasted better too.

By then it was lunch time and as we wouldn’t be eating dinner until well after 7pm, we had what could be called a substantial lunch. Watched the Andrew Marr program. The only political program I’d watch given the opportunity and then started today’s painting which I’d already decided would be a Rudbeckia. Sketched and painted from a photo taken over at St Mo’s during the summer. It fitted the bill perfectly on a dull day like today. With the painting well under way, I went out for a walk to see what I could find worth snapping. What I found was a tiny tree climbing snail about 3mm diameter and some larch flowers which when fully blooming look exactly like tiny pineapples! The snail won PoD. Back home in time for a shower, a shave and a change of clothes and we were off to Glasgow.

It took a while to find somewhere to park now that Sauchihall Street is in the throes of being pedestrianised. Eventually found a space further away from Mango than I’d have liked, but at least we were in a legal space that didn’t cost us a bean. Parking is free on a Sunday in Glasgow City Centre.

Mango was jumping, but we found a chair to sit our bags on and hang our jackets over the back of. Squeezed ourselves into a space on the floor and had a few dances. Saw some folk from AdS salsa classes although most of the dancers were either from Mango or one of the other two dance classes in the city. Only stayed for an hour because the floor was too crowded and Scamp was getting buffeted by those with more energy than skill. Eventually, we agreed that we’d had enough and drove home.

Spoke to JIC after dinner and exchanged gossip for half an hour or so. Completed the painting and was happy with the finished article, so that’s what you see here. I’m not a great fan of spatter on a painting, but in this case it suited the subject. Traced round the main flower on tracing paper, cut it out and used it as a mask for the spatter.

Tomorrow is Gems day. I may take the Dewdrop out for a run.

S’no Snow – 3 February 2019

Last night when I went to bed the temperature was just on zero. This morning it was raining, so the temp was in the positive range.

By lunchtime the ice and snow as definitely on the back foot. There was liquid water in the bird bath although there was a decidedly large iceberg sitting in it. After lunch it was back to the ‘leccy cupboard again to investigate and empty the last remaining boxes, most of which contained light bulbs or screws. They were easily sorted, the ‘keepers’ stored and the ‘chuckers’ put in the bin.

That left PoD to be taken. I couldn’t decide what would fit that particular bill and eventually decided to go for a walk to St Mo’s to see if anything there was suitable. The light was poor, so landscape was out of the question. There was ice on the pond but the ducks and swans had managed to cut a hole in it right in the middle, so, well out of range of the 200mm end of the Panasonic zoom. Nothing for it but to rely on a macro. It’s getting like cut flowers and ‘Weemen’, a last resort. That’s what you see at the top of the page. It’s not the best macro I’ve done, but it was a chance to try out a noise reducing setting I’d seen on Flickr. It worked, but was not the great solution that the person seemed to suggest. Maybe I’m just hard to please. Surely not! By the time I came home from my walk the snow had gone and now it’s raining heavily and the temperature is almost 5ºc.

I’d bought a Hogged Shoulder Steak at the farmers market in Embra yesterday and cooked it for my dinner while Scamp finished off the roast chicken we’d bought on Friday. I must say the shoulder steak was delicious. I’ll be looking out for Annanwater at the Glasgow farmers market on the last Saturday of the month.

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was of the veg I’m hoping to make soup from tomorrow. Scamp has already boiled the pulses, but as she’ll be busy with Gems preparation tomorrow, I’ll do the dinner. I liked the sketch. Colour needed a bit more saturation, but luckily Lightroom came to the rescue.

Spoke to JIC tonight and got his take on the implications of a no-deal Brexit (how I hate that name!) and dealing with new ‘mental’ neighbours.

That’s about it. Tomorrow is Gems day and we haven’t a clue what we did last week at salsa, so we’ll have to make it up as we go along, just the same as everybody else.

Pasta Joke – 29 January 2019

Well, the predicted snow didn’t come to much. A few millimetres of manky grey sludge doesn’t constitute a snowfall.

I offered to do the shopping and returned with plain bread, milk and a dozen eggs. All will become clear.

I mixed two of the eggs with some special 00 flour that Scamp had bought last week and then kneaded the resulting mess for the required 10 minutes, wrapped it in cling film and let it cool its heels in the fridge for an hour or two, or three or five as it turned out.

We’d intended cleaning out a cupboard today, but it was a lovely bright cold day although the temperature was above zero because some of the snow was melting. Time enough to go out and get some photos and still get the cupboard cleared.

It’s never that simple. I found a few good places to shoot, mainly landscapes, but then I discovered the fruiting bodies of some moss on a few rocks. Yes, I know it doesn’t sound that interesting, but the light was so good, I had to take a few shots, quite a few shots. By the time I got back, we agreed that it was far too late to start on the cupboard, so we’re leaving it for another day, a less photogenic one. One of the moss shots made PoD.

I assembled my pasta machine and started rolling out the pasta dough from the fridge into decreasing thicknesses. It’s not nearly as easy as they show you in Masterchef. I think my dough was too wet and sticky. It seemed to want to cling to the rollers even after they had been dusted with flour. Eventually after a few tries, a lot of swearing and tantrums, we managed to make some spaghetti.

We cooked the spaghetti in boiling water just like the stuff you get in the deli at the supermarket, but it was a bit doughy and chewy. More practise needed and next time I’ll leave the dough to rest in the kitchen, not in the fridge. It’s a learning curve. However, I know this Italian bloke who might be able to show me how to cut a few corners! Tonight’s dinner was Spaghetti with olive oil for starter, then Minestrone soup and the main course was a haggis, neeps and tatties pie.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go out for dinner. 30th January.

A non-dancing day – 27 January 2019

I think after Friday and Saturday, we were well danced out.

Today we had a light breakfast at the hotel said our goodbyes to new and old friends, excluding Diane who was not in either of these sets and anyway, hadn’t surfaced by our 9.30am scraping of the car and driving home. Beautiful light and scenery as we took the Hamilton road home. Much quicker route, especially on a quiet, cold Sunday morning.

Just relaxed when we got home with a decent cup of coffee and solved today’s Sudoku while Scamp complained that there were pieces missing in her digital jigsaw. To clear this problem from her mind she went off to buy Tesco. After she got back, I grabbed my boots and went over to St Mo’s to get some photos. My favourite became PoD and is what you see above. It’s another Cladonia Pixie Cup with a bokeh background. Just out of focus shapes really, given a fancy Japanese name.

We had partly intended to go a Sunday Social at Mango tonight, but neither of us could be bothered and a little glass of Rhubarb & Ginger Gin followed by a glass of white from Michael’s hamper signed the fate of the evening. I’d be well over Nicola’s Abstemious Law, so couldn’t drive in to Glasgow, even if I wanted to.  Scamp made dinner and it was a belated Burns Supper i.e. Haggis, Neeps (mashed turnip) and Tatties (mashed potatoes).  Lovely wholesome food.

Spoke to Jamie later and heard about all the things happening down in his neck of the woods. Other than that, watched a bit of fluff on the TV and now I’m writing this record of a relaxing, non-dancing day.

Tomorrow I get my annual diabetic retinopathy test. Hope I don’t get drops in my eyes, but I’m getting the bus anyway!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – 22 January 2019

We woke to snow today. Not lots and not long lasting, but still snow.

It was one of those mornings when we rejoice at being retired. Not for us the scraping of the windscreen and then the slow drive to work, single file in the tyre tracks of the car in front. No, back to bed with a cup of tea and a good book. Rivers of London (book 1, Hazy). The snow came and went for most of the morning before eventually tailing off and then the slow drip, drip of the thaw started, but not before I grabbed a camera and got some macro shots of the snowmelt on the plants in the garden and also on the metal allium feature in the back garden. That’s what achieved PoD.

The furthest we went today was Tesco and only after we were sure the road was clear of the white stuff. Tonight the snow is all but gone, but the temperature is down to -2ºc as I write this.

January is a time for hanging up calendars, but I found we had misplaced one of ours. It was in a polythene bag at the side of the wardrobe in the bedroom and it came from Sardinia. It started us checking back through our photos to see what Alghero, Sardinia looked like. Scamp usually does a screen grab of the temperature every day we are on holiday and in Alghero in June it was 27ºc. That’s a nice thought to end with!

Tomorrow will probably another dancing day. I may go and get three half pans of watercolour paint to replace the ones in the Joan of Art paintbox Hazy bought me a year or so ago. I liked the tin, loved the idea and the tiny little brush, but hated the colour selection – too acidic for me. I’d been painting tonight and decided it was time to warm up the colour selection.

A day that starts with a dentist visit – 14 January 2019

… Is a lost cause!

Well, not totally lost because I was out within about fifteen minutes, £33 lighter, but with a front tooth that was back in business. Drove home, solved the ‘Mild’ Sudoku and had a cup of coffee.

Then it was almost time to go for Gems, but first Scamp and I cleaned out the smelly fridge once more, but still it smells. Can’t work out where the smell is coming from. We’ve taken everything out, chucked out half of it, only put back stuff we both agree we’ll use. We washed all the jars before putting them back. Washed the shelves and today we washed the walls of the fridge just to be sure we were covering every base. Still it’s there. My only thought is that the drain at the bottom of the fridge is leaking into the insulation of the box itself and that’s where the smell is coming from. Tomorrow I may put some disinfectant down the drain hole.

Went out for a while in the early afternoon to get some photos while the sun was shining and Gems were singing. Got some interesting macro shots of a lichen I’d never heard of before. It was Dog Lichen (Peltigera canina) so called because the fruiting bodies resemble a dog’s teeth. You might be able to see why from the photo at the top. There wasn’t much else to see today so I wandered back home to make the dinner.

We were going early to Salsa tonight because Mhairi and Robert were going to a new beginners class at 6.30. Wow, what a big class. Scamp and I helped out as there weren’t enough leaders (as usual). Our own class was remarkably small again. Where have all the leaders gone, I wonder? We covered Akia (that’s how you spell it apparently), Erato, Titanic and just for fun at the end, Roulette, the Rueda move.

Heard our first little scuttling noise from the ceiling tonight when we got home. First one in about four nights, but still disappointing. Stared to keep a record so we can pursue the issue (and the rodents) further.

Tomorrow we go visit Andrew in Falkirk.