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Early Start – 7 June 2017

Woke around 5.30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Finally decided there was nothing else for it but to get up and go out for a walk.

Put on wellies to protect me from marauding beasties especially ticks and took a walk around St Mo’s. Light was good, but there wasn’t much wildlife about. I did catch a glimpse of a deer. but it was too far away and I was making far too much noise to get anywhere near it.  What I did get were a selection of contre-jour shots (against the light) of flowers and greenery coated in raindrops.  The rain had been very heavy during the night although it was bright, sunny and windy today.

Came home and had breakfast, then we headed off to Wishaw General to get Scamp’s arm looked at.  Thankfully, there were no more moles to be found, so all was well.  We both had other commitments today, so we just drove home.  I chose to take the M8, just to make sure I could find the correct turn-off for Stirling.  We found it, but it sort of sneaks up on you with a very short slip road.

After lunch I had a coffee date with Val and Fred.  Apparently it’s too late for us to launch the Auld Guys Party for the General Election tomorrow, but if we had, I’m sure we’d win.  Our party pledges include free beer for the over 65s, paid for by the under 65s.  My revolutionary new voting system where the winner wins and the losers have to work for a living was unanimously carried.  Anyone found or admitting to lying in their promises (present company excepted) would be summarily executed.  Oh yes, and free coffee for all.  What’s not to like there?

Went to beginners Salsa tonight to support Irene who was taking Jamie G’s class.  Overall she did a good job, once she got her timing sorted and started shouting out the moves.  She’ll do well once she gets a bit more experience in this teaching game.

Today’s PoD is Buttercups, the gardener’s delight and today’s sketch is another ink / watercolour sketch of fruit.  Pear and Orange this time.

Tomorrow the rain is coming, although our wee old weather station is predicting sun.  I think that’s unlikely, but we’ll wait and see.

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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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The Dragons are back – 4 June 2017

We had intended going to the West End Festival in Glasgow today, but decided to have a lazy day at home instead.  There was to be no procession and that’s the highlight of the event every year.

Scamp got busy planting, planting and more planting.  Me?  I went for a walk instead.  Walked around St Mo’s and got a few photos of a couple of mating damselflies.  I was using the Oly 10 because it was the most versatile tool for general shooting.  The 45-200 zoom is a great lens and works well for close ups when you attach the extension tubes.  You lose a couple of stops of exposure, but it was a bright day again and exposure wasn’t a problem.

On my second circuit of the pond, a dragonfly caught my eye.  Waited for it to land and get comfortable then got one shot before it flew away to circle the wee pond.  Then it returned to the same grass stem, but it wasn’t comfortable and with each move I made it flew off.  Eventually it settled down on a reed and I got the shot above.  I was quite pleased with it.  It’s a Four-spotted Chaser male as you probably already knew.  Set the shutter speed high (1/800) and aperture fairly deep (f9) and that amounted to an ISO of a manageable 1250.  You just couldn’t do things like that with the Teazer, so it had a day at home.  The dragonfly is a Four-spotted Chaser male but you probably knew that already.  Lots more beastie pictures on the Flickr page.

Came home and Scamp was finished working in the garden.  Finished working, but not finished with the garden.  No, she wanted to get some photos of us sitting outside with our new drinks holders.  We got them yesterday as well as a barrow load of plants.  Set up the tripod, bolted on the Oly 5 only to find that the battery was flat and the spare one had just started charging.  I tried using the Teazer, but it’s so hard to use without a flip up screen.  Eventually got the photo using Scamp’s camera and it has already been sent out to all my readers I think.

Took my dodgy left knee to the physio to see what he could deduce from a bit of prodding and pulling.  His deduction was that it was a healthy knee.  He thinks I’ve maybe nicked a ligament at the back of the knee and it’s now well on the way to being repaired.  He gave me some exercises to do and wouldn’t take any payment.  Good guy.

Today’s sketch is of the Campsie Fells viewed through the back bedroom window.  Just a quick watercolour that gains entry into J’ Ink because of the penwork.

The only fly in today’s ointment is the fact that I’ve got a fasting blood test tomorrow morning and a full dance card for the rest of the day.  Never mind, it’s all in a good cause.  May take my healthy knee out for a walk if the weather allows.

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Started early – Didn’t take my dog – 19 April 2017

Woke early and couldn’t get back to sleep.

Eventually I gave up and went out for a walk to St Mo’s to see if the deer were awake.  Of course they were and they were way ahead of me on this dull drizzly morning.  Actually it wasn’t a drizzle, it was a smir.  That typically Scottish word that describes what rain is when it isn’t actually raining.  It was as if the rain thought it should be doing its work, but just couldn’t be bothered.  I couldn’t see much worth photographing, so I headed for home and breakfast, then I saw the yellow flowers.  I couldn’t remember their name, but the colours were interesting.  Took a few shots using the spot metering again on  the Nikon.  Almost home, I remembered they were Cowslips.

The plan for today was to buy the materials for the duckboarding we were going to use to replace the old flower box at the back door.  After breakfast, I was just thinking I should get going to B&Q when it appeared the rain had decided to fulfil its task and started to move from smir to drizzle with the possibility of actually raining some time soon.  No point in getting the materials and then having to leave them out in the garden, so I left it until later and went to finish a sketch I’d started down at JIC’s.  Finished the sketch and didn’t like what I saw, but the rain had stopped, so I drove to B&Q and got the wood.  Even sawed it to size and realised I didn’t have nearly enough, so it’s back to B&Q tomorrow for more decking timber.  It’s a work in progress, that’s all.  Not a big deal.  Now, years ago I’d have drawn the whole thing out in AutoCad or Inventor and modelled it and that would have taken a couple of days getting it just right.  Much quicker and easier to cut a mock up and decide if that will do the job.  Maybe I’m learning, but I doubt it.

We both went to salsa tonight and thankfully it was Jamie Gal and not Colin.  The class was interesting and full of humour, as it should be.  Unfortunately there were quite a few missing because of Colin’s Cha-Cha class last week.  Such a pity.

I’ve been trying out Spotify, finding lots of music I’d forgotten about.  It might be a strong contender to replace iTunes, especially if Apple really are phasing out iTunes.  It wouldn’t be a bad thing in my opinion because that bloat monster is becoming worse with every new version.

Tomorrow the mini greenhouse is due to land on our doorstep.  Let’s hope Scamp can put her jigsaw solving skills to the test in building it.

Blog title refers to a book by Kate Atkinson

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The day when nothing happened – 3 April 2017

Basically, that about sums it up. Nothing happened, but then …

Painted for an hour this morning while Scamp went to her final physio appointment.  I’d already done the groundwork and used masking fluid to protect the mountains (it’s an imaginary snow covered landscape).  I made the mistake of using some tubes of Cotman colour, that is student quality, for the sky area.  What should have been clear and transparent, turned out dull and cloudy.  What more could I do but turn it into a cloudy sky, it was meant to be a sunset!  After I took off the masking fluid, I added the rocks that show through the snow and the water below the mountains.  It looks quite good.  Try to remember all the above and I’ll attempt to post a picture of the watercolour tomorrow.

Took back my library books. Got another one out on the subject of watercolours and there’s a complete section on painting snow.  I’d forgotten how useful a library can be.

Came home and had lunch. Went in to Glasgow to look at wet weather jackets. Not heavy ones like I wear in the winter.  Just a light jacket that’s waterproof and breathable and HAS LOTS OF POCKETS!  Couldn’t find one.  The ones with lots of pockets were either too expensive or weren’t waterproof.  More investigation required.

It was too early to come home, so I took some pics down by the Luggie, and that’s what you see above.

For dinner, I made an innovative pasta Genovese with a poached egg on top.  It was good, but not great.  Needs a bit of tweaking, I think.

Went to salsa and acted as doorman there for the extent of the beginners class but quite enjoyed the advanced even if there were far too many girls and the class was quite small.  That’s what happens during school holidays.

Other than that, nothing happened.

More researching into jackets tomorrow.

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So, that was March – 31 March 2017

Fred requested a coffee meeting today.  Scamp and I had already planned to go out for lunch, but she convinced me to go and meet Fred instead, too readily for my liking.  She then declared that she was going shopping for some clothes and that was why she was foregoing lunch, we could always do lunch tomorrow.

While she was out I layered on some washes on a sketch I’d done last night.  It looked reasonable and I managed, what for me was a decent graduated sky.  It seemed no time until she was back and it was time for me to go meet Fred.

His real reason for meeting was because I had offered him a loan of a book on perspective, his new pet project.  Not easy perspective either, but the awkward Curvilinear Perspective as loved by M. C. Escher, although my own efforts are much more grounded in mundane reality than his were.  We sat and talked a while although he seemed a lot more politically motivated than usual.  He did however give me a quick tutorial on drawing noses. He’s really good at sketching faces, especially good at quick sketches and getting a decent likeness too.  I’ve just finished putting his ideas into practice and they seem to work.

After putting the Tories and Labour firmly in their place and decrying the traitors among the Greens we went our separate ways.  Him to Tesco for shopping, me to Lidl for shopping (and beer).  On the way back, I stopped at The Boathouse at Auchinstarry to go for a walk along the south bank of the canal out in the direction of Falkirk.  The path didn’t go anywhere near Falkirk, but turned off after a hundred yards and headed up towards Croy to an area called Nethercroy, through some old tall trees swaying in a strong wind.  I followed the path until I came to a gate where the notice warned that cattle would be grazing on the hill from the beginning of April.  I didn’t fancy meeting early arrivals and anyway, I wasn’t really dressed for hillwalking, so I turned round and went in search of interesting photos.

I’d already taken some pics as information for preparatory sketches with the aim of developing a larger piece.  It might work, it might not.  Saw some moss growing on some old stonework and got a few shots of that and caught some nice light with the 20mm lens on the M5 too.

When I looked at the photos back home in Lightroom, the moss shots were all disappointing.  Very unsharp and blurry.  The common factor in them all was an aperture of f7.1 which is pretty wide at the long end <Ignore this, everyone, it’s for my own benefit, so I don’t do it again!> I usually set f9 minimum for the 45-200 lens and that would have sharpened up the images so much better than f7.  Moral of the story, check your settings BEFORE taking the shot.  The M5 shots were fine.  Prime 20mm lens at f10 can’t fail!

Came home and found that Scamp had been very busy preparing an Un-Birthday dinner.  Portobello mushrooms with spinach and cheese topped with Parma ham, roasted under the grill.  Gammon steak with potatoes, cauliflower, cabbage and roast parsnips.  Same for Scamp, but without the gammon steak (obviously).  Pineapple snow with chilli sauce for pudding!  Absolutely perfect.  Now I know why she was so happy for me to go and meet Fred.

Tomorrow we may go and have the lunch we missed today.

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Deepan’ Crispan’ Deevan’ – 21 March 2017

It’s snow, of course and that’s what we woke to today.  Not that deep and not that crisp as the temperature was three above zero and very uneven.  In fact it was just a scraping of show, but then, as I was making the breakfast, the snow returned, blown along by Windy Willie’s wild westerly wind.  Now, that’s what you call alliteration!

Once we realised that we wouldn’t be snowed in any time soon, we decided to go to Falkirk to retrieve a ring, a substitute wedding ring, that Scamp had handed in last week for repair.  Not long after I retired we went to Ayr and Scamp tripped and damaged her hand.  I thought her finger was broken, but it was just badly staved.  So badly staved that the wedding ring had to be cut off because it was restricting the blood supply to her finger.  That was almost three years ago.  It took a long time to get the ring repaired, but today we picked it up from the jeweller looking as good as new.  Driving home was a challenge with torrential rain, hail and sleet driving straight towards us.

When we got home and had lunch, the wet stuff had stopped and the sun had come out again, so it was boots on and out to St Mo’s.  I took the Big Dog with the macro lens and the E-PL5 with a 20mm lens.  A nice combo.  Just waked into the woods and saw two deer grazing down the path.  They were crosswind to me, so didn’t sniff my deodorant I crept down the path walking on the grass, not on the broken twigs, so they didn’t hear me either.  It would have been better to have brought the 300mm Tamron, but the macro gives such good quality results that I wasn’t all that worried.  The landscape is from the 20mm lens, another good quality lens.

Got home and did a bit of messing around painting the hills with snow on them.  Four miniatures in different colour schemes and another four ready for finishing tomorrow.

Tomorrow?  Not got a clue.  According to the weatherman, the snow will be gone and the weather is set fine.  As usual, we’ll see.

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Windy Willie – 20 March 2017

Windy Willie was Scamp’s explanation for strong winds when the weans were wee.  No need then for Storm Agatha or Storm Benjamin.  No, when the house was shaking in the gusts, Windy Willie was out there, that was enough explanation.  Windy Willie was out today.

Scamp was singing again with Gems today.  This time in Stepps.  I had intended to go sketching in Glasgow to get back to more architectural subjects, but when I got there, the horizontal rain and hail put me off, so instead I drove to the Fort to get some cheap pens and not so cheap painting stuff.  I say *painting stuff* because Inktense sticks are difficult to categorise.  They are part pastel sticks and part aquarelle.  Aquarelles are usually in the form of pencils and these are just sticks of pigment in a binder and are like pastels, except when you add water to them they turn into watercolour.  Worth a few quid to try them out and see what kind of mess I can make with them.

I drove back past the old Gartloch Hospital, a scary looking ex asylum on the outskirts of Easterhouse.  I kind of want to photograph it, but it comes into the same category as graveyards for me.  I often feel uneasy about photographing graveyards and most times don’t get the camera out.  It’s almost as if I have to ask permission to take photos there.  I can’t really explain it.  Some day I’ll make time to go to Gartloch and get some images.  Whether or not I’ll keep them I can’t say.  I might just format the card after they’re taken.  I will say this though, it will be a bright sunny day I go there.

Only two photos worth showing today.  One of contrasting textures between the grey sky and the grey aluminium of  the M&S building at the Fort and another of an old knife with a couple of beads of jam on it (not blood!) sitting on the draining board at the sink at home.  I just liked them both.  PoD was  the knife.

Before salsa tonight, I was enlisted to help with beginners Bachata which Cameron was teaching, and teaching quite well.  He still needs to relax, but his voice control is much better and he also needs to realise that he doesn’t need to show off so much.  It all looks like a lack of self-confidence to me, but I’d never tell him that.  Enjoyed it.  Salsa was fast and furious.  New move tonight was Tresario Doble, I think.  Interesting and counter intuitive at times.  We need to practise it.  Also Cubaa Se from last week.  Good fun.

No plans for tomorrow.  Snow and ice forecast with Windy Willie around too.

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A Tramp – 18 March 2017

A Tramp, that’s what Scamp described me as today.  Just because my Bergy jacket is a wee bit untidy and maybe needing a wash.  Apparently it totally transforms me into a tramp.  I wonder how many tramps today, real tramps that is, the ones who wander round the countryside, sleeping rough, not the beggars on the city streets, I wonder how many of them have given up the luxuries of home because somebody called them a tramp.  I did consider doing it myself today, but who would drive Scamp home, because she can’t (won’t) drive my car, and besides it was raining.

The above conversation happened in the carpark in Stirling.  We should have been going to Embra today, but Scotland were playing somebody Italian, I think, at Murrayfield so the trains would be packed.  Also, we didn’t get to bed until after 1am last night (or this morning to be perjink), so we had a lazy morning after tidying up after last night’s meal with Crawford and Nancy, with June of course, eventually deciding to go to Stirling as a second choice.  We wandered round the soulless Thistle Centre whose only redeeming feature, in my opinion, is Waterstones.  Saw a couple of books worth adding to my ‘Must Read’ list.

When we got home, I messed around with a new painting before deciding that there was just enough light left to have a walk around St Mo’s.  I didn’t really need the photo, I had one in the bag from the morning.  Beautiful light on the stems of some carnations in a glass on the bedroom window sill. So, it was more a walk than a desperate attempt to get a PoD.  Bumped into an FP on the boardwalk round St Mo’s.  I don’t know who was more surprised, her or me.  Got the other two shots in the failing light at St Mo’s and on the walk back.

Hopefully we’ll be earlier to bed tonight, especially if I get this blog posted.

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Just Get Up Ya Lazy Sod – 3 March 2017

I usually list my alarms on the iPhone by where we were when they were created, however, today’s alarm which was sandwiched between ‘Last Day Cruise 2011’ and ‘Dubrovnik’ and was called ‘Just Get Up Ya Lazy Sod’.  It was for 6.15am!

Today, Scamp was to go to the hospital to be assessed by the plastic surgeon for a further operation on the site of the mole.  Unfortunately, the hospital was in Greenock, just over 40 miles away and on the other side of Glasgow.  Google estimated the time to get there for 9am was from 1 hour to  1 hour 40 minutes.  At the worst estimate, that’s an average speed of 24mph,  which is quite slow for, in fact illegal for, a motorway, but realistic for the M80/M8 at any peak time.  So that explains the 6.15am alarm.  I’d intended leaving at 7am and as the temperature last night was forecast to be below zero for most of the night, I knew I’d have to get out early to get the car warmed up and the windscreen scraped.  Not like the lucky folk with their heated front screens 😉

As usual when I know I’ve an alarm set, I seem to sleep for two hours at a time before waking, then as the allotted time approaches I enter deep sleep, only to get a rude awakening with some awful chime from the phone.  That’s what it was like today.

After prepping the car, we had a quick breakfast and were off, just after 7am.  Cutting a long story short, we entered the quagmire of traffic of the M80 / M8 intersection.  From there to the Kingston Bridge it was nose to tail and constantly changing to the lane that was moving fastest.  Luckily all those Monday and Wednesday nights stood me in good stead and I found the fastest lane through.  After the Kingston, it was good going for a while, until we reached Greenock, in fact. The scenery was beautiful all the way down the estuary, with pockets of fog and mist creating perfect photo opportunities.  Unfortunately, you can’t use ‘Photo Opportunity’ as a reason for stopping on the hard shoulder of a motorway.  Personally, I can’t understand why.

Almost at the hospital, we hit the ‘Road Closed – Follow Diversion’ sign.  For once, I followed the diversion with Scamp acting as a navigator who was becoming more and more concerned that we seemed to be going in the wrong direction, then seeing where it was leading us and confirming that we were, indeed, heading in the right direction.  Parked at the hospital with 10minutes to spare from the Google worst estimate.  Impressive, Mr G!

In and out of the consultant’s office within about 30 minutes, then it was the simpler route back to Glasgow, but the good light and the good photo opportunities were gone by now, of course.  Parked up on what will always be St James St. in Glasgow and went for a coffee in JL with Scamp before leaving her to meet up with ’The Witches’.  After doing some window shopping, I drove back home to a cold, dreich, Cumbersheugh.  I had thought I’d manage to get my bike out, but it was the cold east wind that put an end to that idea, so I did a bit of painting instead.  I also made some bread dough and retained enough to make a pizza.

Went for a late afternoon walk around St Mo’s, but there was nothing of interest to photograph.

Scamp arrived back about 7.30pm after having had a ‘Day in the Toon’.  It’s almost 11pm now and it’s been a long day, so I’m heading for the Land of Nod.

Good Night!