16 Oct

The Journey starts here – 10 October 2017

Last night I emailed the help line at Journey about exporting my journal from Day One and importing into Journey. This morning I got a sample .zip file to try to import. I tried it and it worked. It was just a file with some text and a few pics, but it proved to me that the import dialog worked. I tried exporting about ten days of Day One and then importing. That worked too. Tried a month and that worked. Tried six months and that didn’t. Tried four months (a third of a year, easy to slice up) and that worked. Spent the rest of the morning chopping up my journal into four month pieces, exporting them from Day One and importing them into Journey. It took some time and it wasn’t helped by the fact that Virgin were working on the fibre line so access was sporadic. However, it’s now done and it looks like the Journey has begun.

We went to the leisure centre before lunch and hit the sweet spot in the pool, just after 1pm when all the spa punters have gone to stuff their faces in the restaurant. We almost had the pool to ourselves. I was there trying to ease my aching back, so although I swam for a wee while, I lounged in the jacuzzi and steam room for longer than I exercised. Maybe next time It’ll be the other way round. Heard that the leisure centre and presumably the hotel too has been sold. That will probably mean the fees for the leisure centre will increase soon.

After lunch I went for a walk over to St Mo’s in the rain. I didn’t expect to get much, and I wasn’t disappointed. What I did get was a few shots of the Cladonia lichens after I’d given my knees a workout crouching down to get them. Thanks to the really good sensor on the D7000 the ISO 8000 didn’t create too much digital noise.

Tonight’s sketch is of my wee Cotman watercolour box that usually lives in my camera bag with my sketchbook, just in case I need to add some colour to a sketch.

Coffee with Fred and Val tomorrow and the weather looks wet!

16 Oct

It was still there in the morning – 8 October 2017

Yes, Santa hadn’t taken it back during the night and I hadn’t dreamed it either. There is was sitting on the table where I’d left it.

It was another day of backbreaking work adjusting, cajoling and a fair amount of swearing as anyone who knows me will testify to. Strangely, also a lot of talking to myself. Maybe that’s because I’m the only one who has the slightest clue what I’m doing. Most things are working now and the backbreaking, which was due to me stretching across the laptop in front of me to see what the iMac was telling me, has subsided a bit now that I’ve repositioned the monitor at a decent distance and angle.

Scamp is keeping an eye on me as is the wee man in the Fitbit on my wrist, getting me to take their advice and walk around a bit every hour. It’s difficult though, with this marvellous piece of equipment just sitting there in front of me. To that end, we drove down The Green this morning and went for an autumn walk. There’s a big chestnut tree near where we park and I was lucky enough to find a chessy as we used to call them when I was wee. This one was just breaking out of its shell. I stuck it in my pocket with the idea that if nothing else, it would make a PoD. As it happened, it was a view down the Clyde from behind the Glasgow Uni boathouse that got PoD. I liked the leading lines in the pic of the wee man and seagulls or to give them their Dundee name, shitehawks are always a good subject. The chessy as you will have noted became Inktober sketch number 8.

I worked for another hour or so after we came back, installing more stuff and swearing even more. For a break I went for a walk around St Mo’s before dinner, but the light was poor by that time and I didn’t get much.

That was about it. Sat for an hour or more afterwards working through the photos and being even more amazed at the quality of that screen.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go to the gym for a gentle workout and then sit in the steam room for half an hour. If I can drag myself away from the iMac.

16 Oct

Untrained – 30 September 2017

We had intended to take the train to Embra today. Scamp even drove us to the station in her car, but …

When we got there we found out that due to safety checks on the line between Haymarket and Waverley, trains (if they weren’t cancelled) were stopping at Linlithgow, about 20 miles from Embra, and it was up to you to get from Linlithgow to Embra. That’s Scotrail for you. Make it up as you go along. If the problem is between Haymarket and Waverley, both in Embra, why are they stopping the trains 20 miles away? That’s a pretty big safety zone.  Must be the wrong kind of leaves on the line again.

Anyway, we told the nice ticket man that we wouldn’t be travelling on his maybe-not-cancelled train today and drove home to change cars and drive (me driving this time) to Perf, not Embra. It was a pleasant drive up the A9 to the Fair City of Perth. Car performed perfectly and I finally got the hang of the new cruise control. I also tried out the speed limiter, but that’s not as much fun. Best of all, I tried out Sport mode which gives you a nice little whack of G-force as you accelerate! Only to be used sparingly as it does eat up your fuel consumption. All in all it’s a really nice car to drive. I’m very impressed.

Perf was busy as usual on a weekend. Far too many people around I much prefer going on a weekday. Got some coffee, some tea and some dried fruit to make my breakfast compote. Fruit for the compote, there’s no coffee or tea in it. Just thought I’d make that clear. While we were there and while Scamp was shopping in Marks, I wandered round the outside of St John’s Kirk, the big church in the middle of the town. I got a sketch done. It’s a bit ropey, but with a bit of tweaking from the photo I took, it should do. Tomorrow is the start of Inktober 2017 and I need to get myself back in harness to do a sketch a day. There’s a wee challenge for you Hazy. One sketch every day, posted on Flickr. You can add it to my group if you want. Only one real rule. The predominant medium must be ink, hence the name. You too, JIC. Get started sketching. Fifteen minutes in your lunch break is all you need!!
Today’s PoD is a wide angle shot from the walk round the church. I also liked the monkey gargoyle!

A couple of weeks ago Scamp came across an envelope from a school venture with a £10 note in it. It was surplus money from a school trip we went on twenty odd years ago. It wasn’t my money and the school doesn’t exist any more, so today it went into a charity tin in the Heart Foundation shop in Perf. They will be able to use it. I’d already checked with the bank and it was still legal tender.

Back home, dinner was a Scamp speciality, Prawn Stir fry. Spicy and hot, but very, very good.

I’d been reading a book about painting with pastels in an Oxfam bookshop in Perf.  I don’t think you draw with pastels, you paint with them.  I hadn’t really used pastels, except for messing around with them for a graphics topic for school.  Today I pinned a sheet of Ingres paper on an old drawing board and painted a landscape.  The same one I’d been tentatively poking paint at for the last week.  This one took maybe half an hour?  It’s rough, but I like it.  Maybe I’ll fix it and frame it.

Tomorrow looks wet. I think we’re going dancing at night because the usual Sunday Social venue is double booked and we lose. Should still be fun.

16 Oct

Party Animals – 22 September 2017

“So do you think I’ll need another shirt to change into?” Question before leaving for John Carrigan and Natacha’s 110th Birthday Bash. “No” came the answer. By 11.30pm my shirt was sodden and Scamps dress was sticking to her. Wish I’d brought that other shirt now!

As you will have guessed today was the combined birthday party. Not a lot of Salsa or Ceilidh dancing, but a lot of Jive and Rock ’n’ Roll. I think I could handle jive, but I’m sure Scamp thinks I’d start dancing ‘jalsa’ which is half salsa, half jive. Well, it isn’t yet, but it would be. I already drive her crazy by inventing moves on the spot. How much more complicated would it be if we added in Jive? Anyway, we may give it a try!

Earlier in the day I framed the big A2 painting based on a London skyline and it’s hanging at the top of the stairs. Looking good too. It’s in an old IKEA frame that was just the right size and the mat is not real matting board, but a piece of cardboard Fred gave me ages ago. I think it sits well in the frame.

I went out to get some photos but the Luggie wasn’t looking very photogenic until I noticed the time and had to hurry home to get ready to go out. Then the sun came out and I got a couple of shots. This one looks good, but it could have been so much better if the light had been better earlier. That said, it’s a place marker and the 365 needed a photo, this was it.

I started writing this at 10.35pm while Scamp was dancing the Slosh or some other mindless line dance, and it’s now twelve fifty ish and it’s time for me to go to sleepy bye byes.

Nighty night readers.

16 Oct

Slipped the leash – 21 September 2017

Scamp was off to have lunch with one of her friends. I had the day to myself!

In the morning we had a Skype with Hazy. Unfortunately it was interrupted in the middle when Skype decided it was going to do an upgrade. Now I don’t mind upgrades for most bits of software (Windows excepted), but why does a communication program break into your conversation without even a by-your-leave? The answer is because it’s owned by Microsoft. The same company that decides you need the latest upgrade to Windows 10 so badly, it installs it on your computer whether you want it or not. Thought it was your computer? Nope, it belongs to Mickysoft. Unless, of course, you took the sensible route and installed Linux.

After our on-line chat, Scamp got ready and headed off. I set too to practise some ‘painting people’ after I’d filled the washing machine and part completed today’s Sudoku and made lunch. The washing machine was a timer. I had the forty minutes it takes to do a wash to do my painting, then I’d have to hang out the washing because it looked like a good drying day with a light breeze and some splashes of sun. After that it was time to go get some photos. Walked along the canal for a bit and then cut across the plantation. It was there I met today’s PoD, the dragonfly. I think it’s a female Black Darter. Quite small, only about 30mm long. It sat on the handrail of a bridge for ages. I thought at first it was sizing up a little fly for lunch, but then decided it was just sunning itself. Probably it had been listening to the weather forecast and knew the next two days wouldn’t allow for much sun bathing.

Walked back to the car and drove to Tesco to get the makings of dinner which turned out to be a truly awful curry. The best thing about it was the flatbreads. They were excellent as usual.

By the time I got home from my walk, Scamp was back home and my day ’off the leash’ was over. I think I may have a beer tonight to commiserate with myself for making such a poor curry. Must do better.

Tomorrow centres around John Carrigan’s Birthday Bash. Should be good fun.

16 Oct

Dull, Dull, Dull – 20 September 2017

Today was very dull. The light was almost nonexistent. As a guide, we left for Salsa at 5.45pm and the car lights came on automatically and it had rained almost all day. However, before we get to that, other things happened.

Scamp had loads of ironing to do and for the first time in ages, I volunteered to help. That shows just how fed up I was. I managed to do three of my salsa shirts and two runners for the top of the drawers in the bedroom. I know she carefully filtered the selection to give me the easy ones, but at least it was five things she didn’t have to do. I managed to get them all done without burning them … or myself. I know I’ve now created a precedent, but I’ll deal with that on another day. A sunny day.

I added some watercolour to the sketch I did yesterday and it looked a bit better for that. I took four shots of a fuchsia in the garden and used Photoshop to create a ’stack’ which is just what it says. Every photo in the stack was sharp in a different area and the idea is to create a composite of all the ’good bits’ while hiding all the ‘bad bits’. I think it worked. I leave the final decision to you.

Salsa tonight was the highlight of the day. Seeing the beginners class actually dancing I mean reelly dancing was great and the numbers in the 7.30pm advanced class were very healthy again. That’s not to say they will stay healthy, we can but hope.

Tomorrow looks rainy, so I think I’ll do some painting.

16 Oct

When I’m cleaning windows – 19 September 2017

Sitting in the people’s palace enjoying a roll ’n’ sausage and a fairly decent cup of coffee. I’m becoming a real coffee snob, Hazy! Scamp had her usual peppermint tea and a couple of slices of toast. It seems strange sitting here on a weekday! We’d just been on a recce to find the party venue for John Carrigan’s 60th in Ibrox, deep in Bluenose territory.

Earlier in the afternoon we were walking round Glasgow Green marvelling at three blokes who were abseiling down one of the multi-story flats. We thought they were cleaning the windows, but it wasn’t until I got the photos home and processed that it became clear that they were actually repairing the windows. They were replacing the seals. Not the sort of job I’d like to be doing, even on a beautiful day like today. However, the view from the top would have been wonderful.

After lunch we drove home and I went out to see if the dragonflies were still sunning themselves up at Fannyside. They were, but their numbers well well down from last week. Only about half a dozen rather than last week’s nineteen. This time I had the proper gear. Nikon D7000 and the Sigma 105mm macro. Maybe it was because it was later when I got there, but the little dragonflies that landed seem lazy and quite happy to simply sit there and be photographed. As usual, I got the feeling that they were sizing me up as I was photographing them. Scary things dragonflies.

In the morning, I’d put what might be the finishing touches to my acrylic painting, so I present it here for your perusal.

Salesman from the garage phoned tonight with an update on the car. It might be arriving a day or two earlier. We’ll know for sure later in the week.

Finally, we don’t have a plan for tomorrow apart from Salsa at night and yesterday’s move wasn’t Sombrero Doble, it was Balsero Dos. Almost the same thing.

16 Oct

Creepy Building – 18 September 2017

It’s Monday and that means two things. Gems and Salsa.

While Gems were going through their paces I used the time to get a painting idea out of my head. I had a couple of old canvases that I’d painted over and were unallocated at present, so I started into them using some acrylics and some heavy body gel to give a bit of impasto. I was quite pleased with the effect and may work into it a bit more to brighten some areas of the hills to give it a bit more form.

That done, I drove to the Fort to buy a book from Waterstones – “How to paint people quickly” by Hazel Soan. I’m aware that I haven’t posted an ink sketch this week, but the matter is in hand.

On the way back from Glasgow, I stopped at Gartloch, where the ruin of the old mental hospital stands in the middle of an exclusive housing development. I took a few photos, but didn’t linger long. It felt like I shouldn’t be there. I can’t imagine what it must have been like being incarcerated in this victorian monstrosity. I’d heard it described as being like the set of a horror film, but it’s not until you see it, you fully appreciate what that means. I can’t understand why anyone in their right mind (no pun intended) would pay to live next to this scary big group of buildings, because this isn’t just one pile of sandstone, this is a whole group of them. No glass in the windows. Most of them and all the doors boarded up. I didn’t linger long, but I’d always told myself I’d visit it one day. It’s done now.

On a brighter note, Salsa tonight was great fun. Advanced class did Guanabo, Disco, Sombrero Doble Balsero Dos and ’The New One’.

Tomorrow we go to ‘recce’ the venue for a birthday party on Friday for John Carrigan.

16 Oct

Nnnn Nineteen – 11 September 2017

Phone call this morning from the nurse to say that the podiatrist was off ill, so my appointment today was cancelled and I’d be given a new one. Five minutes later the nurse phoned back to say that another podiatrist had been contacted and my appointment was back if I was still available. I was.

Spent the morning putting the finishing touches to my painting. When I got to the point where as Whistler allegedly said “I can do no more to it”, I stopped and tore the A2 sheet from its spiral binding and hung it on the wall. Ostensibly to dry, but also to see if I would still like it when I walked past it occasionally. I did and it’s still drying. If I hadn’t it’d be in pieces in the bin by now.

After lunch I got ready and went to meet the podiatrist who signed me off as having a fit pair of feet, which was nice. Just what I’d expected.

Dinner tonight was exactly what I’d intended. A ragu made with the pulled meat from the dinosaur bone, served with some ribbon past I found in the back of the cupboard. It was very nice. Great way to use up the meat.

Salsa tonight was a bit frantic. One move in particular had me tied up in knots. It was called Balsero Dos and I hope Jamie G forgets about it next week, but I doubt if he will. We also did Disco(very), El Paraguas and Guanabo.

Found one of the limitations of the dashcam tonight. The detail in night driving is very poor. During the day it’s fine, but the contrast is so high at night and the frame rate and the shutter speed doesn’t allow for any detail to be recorded. This was pointed up when we were passed by a boy racer along Westfield Road. When I reviewed the footage, you could see it was a red car, and that was it. No detail. Useless as evidence in an accident.  Luckily we didn’t need it.

Today’s PoD is of a bunch of dragonflies I found sunning themselves up at Fannyside. There were an incredible nineteen of them all snoozing (I think) on an old rusted gate. One even let me get to within 30mm of her (I checked, it was a female Black Darter). All the photos were taken with the Teazer. Just shows what you can do with a point ’n’ shoot camera these days.

Early rise tomorrow when we’re off to the hospital in Glasgow for Scamp’s checkup.

16 Oct

The other day – 10 September 2017

Yesterday was a beautiful sun filled, blue sky day. Today was the other day.

It rained almost all day. I did manage to grab a couple of photos one of which made it to PoD. The other one was shot using ISO 5000. Not good for detail, so it remains in Lightroom.

Hardly got past the door today. Drove down to Lidl at Kilsyth to get beer and that was it.

Started a painting, well, it actually started out as a charcoal sketch then a watercolour sketch and finally an acrylic painting, A2, biggest I’ve worked on so far. It’s still not finished, but it’s beginning to look like I hoped it would.

Dinner for Scamp was a sort of Crazy Water Fish and for me was half a Dinosaur Bone I got the last time we were visiting JIC and Sim. I’m not sure I cooked it for long enough as it was a bit jelly-like in places. I’ve pulled the rest of the meat off the bone and intend using it to make a ragu to have with pasta for tomorrow’s dinner.

Who would have thought two consecutive days could be so different? However, it is Scotland. We should be used to this.

Tomorrow I visit the Podiatrist to get my little feeties looked at.