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You shall go to the ball – 25 April 2018

I had an idea at 4.30am

I woke at 4.30 this morning with an idea in my head. Today we were hardly going to be in the house. We were off to Glasgow to waltz and jive at midday and we wouldn’t get back until around 4pm. After dinner we were going to be off again to salsa for another couple of hours. We’d out of the house more than in it and wouldn’t notice that the heating was off, so why not cancel the repair to the boiler and re-schedule it for tomorrow. That’s what we did. There was no problem re-scheduling and we both got to dance practise. Simple. I don’t usually get good ideas in the middle of the night, but today I did.

Waltz was good, so good that we got to go on to the next dance which was Quickstep. I was so good at it, that I was too quick for quickstep and had to be slowed down. Michael wasn’t there, it was Ann Marie, his second in command, who took the class and went over the first steps in quickstep. It seems too simple, I’m sure it’s not. Jive was just the reprise of the first routine and also the First Spin of the Seven Spins. Ann Marie was answering questions about a dance this Sunday. The stupidest question was by one girl who asked “See this dance, do WE get to dance too?” Obviously she’d led a sheltered life and had never been to a dance before. They not only walk among us, some of them dance among us too!

On the walk back to the car I grabbed a few shots of the characters outside the Gallery Of Modern Art (GOMA) in Queen Street. My favourite and PoD is at the top of the page.

Salsa tonight was again a lot of fun. We managed three, well, actually two and a half classes tonight and needless to say both our fitbits were registering all green for our activities. I’m quite happy to admit that I was totally shattered coming out of the STUC afterwards. Drove home to a cold house with the hope that the repair man can get the boiler going again tomorrow, because it now won’t even try to start up.

So again the repair man will be knocking on the door between 8am and 12 noon tomorrow. We’ll have to be up and ready. That means an early(ish) bed. G’night!

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Friday The Thirteenth. Ooh Scary – 13 April 2018

Today we took the train in to Glasgow.

Scamp offered to drive us to the station, partly because it was easy to park and partly because we are hoping to go to Kilmarnock tomorrow to visit an old friend and I will be driving. Parked, walked smartly to the station and the train drove in just as we reached the platform. That was nice.

We walked down through George Square and that’s where I saw the seagulls (aka Shitehawks) having a food fight. Too good an opportunity to miss, so I grabbed a few shots. The Teazer excels in low grey light, low contrast light. It’s not so good now in bright contrasty conditions. That’s because it’s always in my jacket pocket with all the lint and oos (Remember oos? It’s a gran word for dust and wool fibres. It’s got a hard ’S’ at the end not like ooze more like the ’S’ in keys.). Oos. Try to find some today and say the word. Remember the word. Some words shouldn’t be left to die. But I digress. The oos gets into the lens and causes flare in the photos. Today the Teazer had no problem with the soft, flat, grey light.

As we walked down the same streets as we walk on a Wednesday I realised that we hadn’t practised our ballroom steps as we should have. Must get some practise done at the weekend. I refuse to have another disaster Wednesday. Scamp was heading for M&S and we went in through the side door. I told her I’d go to Millers in Stockwell Street and meet her in ten minutes. When I went to leave by the front door, Wow! There were hundreds of people milling around on Argyle Street. No, not a hyperbole, there must have been at least 200 people there and they were walking en mass up Stockwell Street, something was up. Then I noticed that one building and a shop were being evacuated across the street. There were people with clipboards, people with coloured paddles organising other folk into manageable groups and checking off names. I went back in and phoned Scamp to tell her, just in case M&S were going to follow suit when all the folk started to walk back to the building they’d recently exited. No fire engine, no police cars or ambulances. No sirens. Either it was a false alarm or today, Friday 13th, had been chosen as a safety drill by someone with a sense of humour. By the time Scamp appeared, none of the two hundred odd folk were to be seen. Weird.

Went along to Paesano and had a pizza lunch. We both had the customised pizzas we’d discussed the last time we were in Paesano and both agreed the customising is the way to go in future.

While Scamp was in a shop in Bucky Street I grabbed the shot of the bloke on the phone, talking to his Boss!!

Walked through to Cass Art and on the way grabbed my PoD outside the GOMA.  I think looks quite smart in mono.

Back home I found a parcel waiting for me. This was the second of my birthday parcels from JIC. I won’t say what it is, just that it’s very personalised and really quite funny. Photo coming soon when I get a chance to take time over the capture.

Tomorrow we are hoping to visit an old friend we haven’t seen for a long time. Looking forward to it.

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Snow begone (again) – 12 February 2018

By the time we got up today the snow was well on the way to disappearing. Good riddance.

Wasn’t feeling myself today. Just felt tired and listless. Pains in my stomach too. Don’t know what caused it. I’d say last night’s tapas, but they tasted good and the chilli had so little ‘carne’ in it, it was almost vegetarian. Yes, I know veg can upset your stomach too. Basically I just need to wait it out. Brought the car down from its abandonment last night, and parked it properly outside the house.

After lunch I went for a snooze while Scamp went for the messages. I just wasn’t up to it and she was happy to drive because the snow had disappeared completely. The snooze helped and I decided to get out and see if some fresh air would help. That’s where I got today’s shot. Saw two deer. Haven’t seen any for ages and on the way back I saw two herons! Scamp reckons they are Mr & Mrs Grey. I suppose that could be true. Either that or it’s an infiltrator looking for a face-off with Mr Grey. They squawked a bit at each other and then flew off in opposite directions. The walk and the fresh air did help a bit, but dinner was a plate of Scamp’s magic lentil soup and it did more than anything else to make me feel better.

In the evening I didn’t feel like going to salsa and Scamp agreed that we should stay at home.  I stuck a bit of corrugated cardboard on the easel and painted a still life. It’s pretty basic, but halfway through I realised that the pain in my stomach had gone. The painting might be poor, but it forced me to stop thinking about myself for a while.

Fruit

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It depends on how I’m feeling and on the weather. There’s more snow forecast for tonight into tomorrow. Maybe the gym for a light bit of stretching.

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Once upon a time 47 years ago – 30 January 2018

Yes, on the 30th of January 1971, Scamp and I met for the first time. She wasn’t called Scamp then, she laboured under her old name, but not for long!

We’d already planned to get the bus into Glasgow today and that’s what we did. Just waited at the bus stop for less than five minutes when the bus arrived. It was going to be a good day.

Walked through JL without visiting the ‘Toy Shop’, the one on the second floor that has the computers, tablets and cameras. No, I was going to be brave, I wasn’t going there today. Straight through and out the other side without with hardly a backward glance. Then down Bucky Street in bright sunshine and a cold wind down to Nero at St Enoch’s for coffee. From there we took the subway out to Byres Road, but not before I got today’s PoD which is at the top of the page. There’s another one from the same spot taken a few seconds before that way, vying for first place, but dropped to second because it didn’t fit my title just as neatly. It did, however get a place on Flickr, so I’ll let the great Flickr public decide which is the stronger.

At the West End we went for a walk to the Botanic Gardens and showing my resolve again, I didn’t go in to the Kibble Palace and waste gigabytes of space taking shots that I knew in my heart of hearts wouldn’t work. Instead we walked round the gardens in that cold wind, although the sun had disappeared. We saw what appeared at first to be a union meeting. Lots of folk in hi-vis jackets being harangued by some bloke. On closer inspection and with a bit of earwigging on my part, it appeared that they were in fact being given fairly detailed instructions on pruning plants, by a professor type bloke, you know the type; long hair, long beard, no hi-vis, very animated. The sort of bloke “who speaks loudly” in restaurants as John Cleese once said. The hi-vis brigade looked really bored, not to say pissed off. My heart went out to them.

Actually, we agreed that this was the first time we’d ventured further than the hothouses in the park and there were a lot of interesting things to see. Well, let me rephrase that to; there will be a lot of interesting things to see there once they are actually growing (and when the cold wind has gone). Definitely worth checking out in a few weeks time.

We walked down Byres Road and had lunch in Usha’s Indian restaurant (no professor types speaking loudly though). Got the subway back to Glasgow and went for a wee drink in Lauder’s Old Folks Home Bar. Drink was cheap and we were close to average age for the clientele. This was a quote from a bloke speaking to Scamp, think about it:

“You stop liking snow when you have to buy your own shoes”

Here’s a last thought for two of my readers. If it wasn’t for two folk going to a party forty-seven years ago, And if it wasn’t for one of those folk losing a guitar on the train, you wouldn’t be here today!

Tomorrow, I may return to The Toon. Looking for a bit of Tweed!

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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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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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Up the Tak Ma Doon – 4 November 2017

After a couple of early rises and stravaigin’ days, it was time for a lazy start and a short run in the Juke.

It was a lovely morning and it seemed a shame to waste it on a long run, so we drove to Stirling over the Tak Ma Doon road. It’s the first time the Juke has been up it and although it’s only about 3 miles long, in that 3 miles it reputedly climbs nearly 1,000 feet. That’s just over 300 metres. Given that almost half those 3 miles is on a gentle climb, the other mile and a half is the demanding part with a few climbs over 16%, ending in a 19% incline. A good test for the Juke. It did ok in Normal mode, but baulked a bit at that last climb. Not as good as the old Megane. It cruised up most of the way with a need for 2nd gear near the summit. The Juke needed 1st for the final assault. Disappointing, but then am I really comparing apples with apples when I’m judging a 1.6 litre against a 1.3 turbo? Perhaps not. Next time I’ll use Sport mode and see how the Juke performs then.

The real reason for taking the Tak Ma Doon road was to get some photos on the other side of the Campsies, on the run down into Stirling. There’s a gate halfway down that road with a draw-in beside it where the sky simply takes over. It’s near Loch Coulter and looking over to Muirpark Farm. That’s where I has heading for. I missed the first bit of good light, but took some photos of the twists and turns of the road over the hill we’d just climbed in the Juke. As I was framing up the farmhouse, a rain shower started, an then a rainbow appeared. It just grew and grew until it became the full bow, starting at the farmhouse and ending on the road away towards Stirling. I got as many shots as I could before it disintegrated. Like I said on Flickr, I could have faked it using Photoshop, but it was so much nicer to just shoot it first hand.  The rain shower didn’t last and with a few shots in the bag, we drove on under a blue sky to Stirling.

Neither of us really wanted any lunch, so we just had a coffee  in Nero and watched hoards of Asian tourists, presumably from a bus tour, taking hundreds of selfies and photographs of groups of their friends in Stirling main street.  We’ve all been strangers in a strange land sometimes.  After coffee and a bite to eat we headed for home.  I’m guessing they did too.

Tonight we went to see the fireworks at St Mo’s. A strange place to have a fireworks show, in a school grounds, but I suppose there’s plenty of parking there and easy access for the fire brigade if the need arises! It didn’t arise, but the fire engine did pass us a couple of times. Quite a spectacular show, lasting just about the predicted half an hour. Such a waste of money though. I always feel it could be better spent than on pyrotechnics. That said, it’s better spent on a fireworks show than on a councillors Christmas junket.

It was the monochrome photo of the road and the trees that got PoD today.

No plans for tomorrow, but the weather looks good. May take the bike out of retirement for a run.

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What’s Cookin’ – 27 October 2017

Almost from first thing this morning somebody was cooking, because Crawford and Nancy were coming to dinner.

Scamp started early on her desserts, later I was baking bread and later she was on the main course, closely followed by me doing my mise en place or to put it another way, Getting Stuff Ready for the starter. So, we were a bit backward today, starting with the desserts and finishing with the starter. In between time Scamp went for messages and, later, so did I. Wow, that was about it! Now the puddings are done Giant Jaffa Cake & Grown up Banoffee Pie. Main is nearly ready and it’s Chicken with Tarragon and Leeks. As soon as I get this finished the Mini Quiche starters will be going into the oven (how mini, just one each).  In between times I managed to get my new iPhone (named See Saw) connected and working.  Isn’t it wonderful to have a phone that can hold two days worth of music and still have room to spare.  Unfortunately, I had to sacrifice a few of my favourite apps because they won’t work on the new OS.  Oh well, nothing lasts forever.

Five hours later:
Well that went down well. The starters were consumed as was the main. The overall impression from us pair was that the Giant Jaffa Cake was too dry and the Grown up Banoffee Pie was too heavy. Scamp thought it was too chocolatey, but nothing can be too chocolatey, can it? Otherwise it was a great night with memories, stories told and jokes laughed at. What more can you ask for. Even the alcohol-free beer got a thumbs up from Crawford.

I only grabbed two shots today the best of which is above. No sketch done yet, but I’ve got a note from the boss to say I’m excused as long as I promise to catch up tomorrow.

The dishwasher’s on and sleepy time beckons at 12:20AM. G’ night.

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Follow the yellow brick road – 24 October 2017

Today we went to Ikea, where you have to follow the ‘yellow brick road’ round the store, except …

Actually, the yellow brick road with the arrows painted on the floor has been modernised, updated and illuminated.  Now its a light that projects an arrow on the floor.  How enterprising.  I found it less intimidating.  I could stand under the projector and the arrow disappeared.  That meant I was free to go wherever I pleased, without being condemned to go where the arrow pointed, because I was controlling the arrow!!  Excellent.  We just browsed the ground floor of the store because we were looking for a floor lamp.  We didn’t find one that Scamp liked.  I got a frame for the pastel picture and tonight I cut a mat and framed it.  It’s hanging behind me now, but it’s a bit dark in this corner and I think I might move it.

When we came out of Ikea at Braehead, Scamp wanted to go for a cup of coffee, so me being a bit flash, typed Costa into the satnav and sure enough it showed all the nearby Costas.  Off we went following the directions.  Only, it took us down a filter lane at a roundabout, then promptly changed its mind and decided we should have gone straight ahead.  Worse still, the filter lane became the slip road on to the motorway, taking us back into Glasgow.  After much swearing and harrumphing by me, we settled on going to  the Costa at Robroyston instead.  Much easier to navigate.  Possibly the worst part of the whole escapade was that I KNEW where the Costa was, I was just following the sat nav to see if it knew an alternative route.  I’ll be more circumspect when taking its instructions in future.

Back home I started looking for a website where I’d used a Java powered page that worked out optimal rebates for a picture mat.  That’s the edge bits round the aperture that you see the picture through.  I found the references to the page, but apparently the page itself has disappeared.  Every link gave an error 404 (not found).  Gave up eventually and took some useful information from a picture framers forum, then started to write my own program in Excel.  Mine only uses metric sizes, although I did see one written for Excel where you could put in sizes down to 1/16th inch accuracy.  I’m still not sure how the writer managed to code the conversion to decimal inches and then back again to fractions for the output.  Too much work.  I remember working out sizes  of bolt groups for steelwork using feet and inches and being so relived when we went over to the metric system.  Anyway, I got it working and it produces a decent mat.

After the mammoth calculations in Excel, I went out to St Mo’s to clear my head and try to get some photos.  It had been a decidedly wet drive in through Glasgow in the morning, and a dry and bright drive home, but by the time I went out for a walk it was just our usual dull.  Today’s photo I liked because of the twists and turns in the dried weed, but the ISO was 1000!

Yes, I did open the box.  I’m sure you knew I would Hazy. Like I said in the description of the sketch on Flickr:

*I opened the box, and inside was a thin slab of black glass with a silver rim. Amazingly this slab of glass can bring me pictures from all around the world and allow me to speak to people thousands of miles away. I call it black magic!*

When I look back on it, it’s been a busy day.  Most days are now we’re retired.  When did we ever have the time to work, or to put it another way, what did we have to give up to allow us to work?

Tomorrow the weather should be better than today.  We may go out and take pieces!

 

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No animals were injured – 30 August 2017

Spent an hour this morning cleaning out one of the drawers in the chest of drawers. It was the least opened one, the bottom one. Actually, one of the easiest to do because there was less junk in it. I also took down some of my old paintings and filed them away. Still loads to do, but a little every day makes it easier, or so Scamp says.

Just before lunch, Scamp decided that she was going to shell out on a portable Dyson. We’d talked about it before, but she had decided then that it wasn’t all that necessary. However, while I had been looking at printers in PC World, she had been comparing and contrasting the different models of Dyson. This just shows how PC World has changed. A few years ago it was a world of PCs with the occasional Mac to keep the weirdos happy, but now half the stores are taken up with white goods or vacuum cleaners, TVs and other non PC (in its widest sense) items. No longer can you talk to geeks about SCSII cables, USB gender changers and portable hard drive speeds. Now it’s just a household electrical store. It’s just not the same. It’s not a place to spend a wet Sunday afternoon in mooching around the latest desktop computer and comparing specs and prices. What it the world coming to?

Thankfully Scamp wanted to go to JL for the Dyson. At least there the salespeople have had a bit of training and seem to know what they’re talking about, as opposed to PC World and Currys where they haven’t a clue. The downside of the loss of the Geek! After testing out the different models, she settled on a Dyson V7. Halfway between the underpowered V6 and the scary V8 Animal. The lady had asked us if we had a dog and I had started to get worried. Maybe you had to have one to qualify for the purchase of the cleaner. Or maybe they were giving one away with every purchase. I don’t like dogs and I’ve heard they don’t even taste like chicken … er, but moving right along. The reason she had asked was that the scary ’Animal’ range is intended for picking up animal hair. She wasn’t all that clear about what you did with it after you’d picked it up. I remember Hazy talking about ‘knitting with cat hair’. So no, we could make do with the ordinary V7.

Took it home and plugged it in to give it a full charge and while Scamp caught up with her soap watching, I wandered round St Mo’s and just missed Mr Grey. He was hiding in the bushes but when he saw me he was off like a shot squawking his derision at me. I did manage to grab the snail on the dried cow parsley seed head. There wasn’t much colour about it, so I turned it into a mono shot and that seems to suit it.

Salsa tonight was ok, but my feet were killing me wearing the dancing shoes. They are the most uncomfortable shoes I’ve ever worn. I couldn’t bear to wear them for any more than the beginners class. I may forget to take them next time we go dancing!
In the advanced class we went over Espejo.

No plans for tomorrow. Just hope we’re not driving again.