Oh no! Snow! – 16 March 2019

We were promised snow today, and we got it.

For about an hour it snowed this morning, then the snow turned to sleet, and later to rain. It didn’t keep us in, we’d already agreed we weren’t going out today, so the snow, sleet, rain didn’t change things.

Like a dug wi’ a burst ba’ I continued on my project to get Linux on to the Linx. Eventually I had to agree with the experts who said it couldn’t be done. It can’t. The dug has finally buried the burst ba’. Well, maybe, but it knows where it buried it and it can dig it up again later for another go.

To take my mind off the ba’, I restarted my apple a day project with a painting on expensive Waterford 140lb NOT watercolour paper (NOT stands for Not Hot Pressed, i.e. not perfectly smooth). It was good to paint on paper that doesn’t soak up the paint right away and also doesn’t rub through at the slightest pressure from the brush. I found the paper in a drawer in the painting room. It must be well over twenty years old!

I finally dragged myself out later in the afternoon to plod over to Condorrat because we’d run out of milk and bread. I returned with the aforementioned staples plus chocolate, fudge, a pineapple cake and a rhubarb pie. Equally essential staples! So far we’ve still got the chocolate, but the rest are gone, apart from the bread and milk of course, we’re still working our way through them.

Today’s PoD was taken in St Mo’s, a short diversion from the road back from the shops. It looks like a log jam, but it’s fallen horsetails, one of the oldest groups of grasses. The genus can be traced back 250 million years.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Salsa in Paisley. The last La Rambla salsa social because the restaurant is being taken over by the next door sushi restaurant and salsa isn’t a very Japanese dance. I’ll miss the food, but I won’t miss the terrible service.

Gareth blows in – 12 March 2019

Storm Gareth has been rumbling around all day.

The highlight of the day was going for the ’messages’. We only went as far as Tesco, but it was far enough with the high winds and the driving rain. Thankfully there wasn’t any snow, just some sleet.

I did a bit of painting using the Inktense sticks to get some interesting colours in the sky. Also, because the sticks are actually solid ink, it’s possible to layer colours without disrupting the original layers. That’s something you can’t do with watercolour paints. It’s still been a bit messy and will take a while to get to grips with.

After lunch I thought I should go out and get some photos in the spells of sunshine we were having. I walked over to St Mo’s and got a shot of some daffys growing on the banking at the side of the M80 slip road. The daffodils are one of the few things that the Development Corporation got right in Cumbersheugh. However NLC undid all the good work when they dug up the flowers on Central Way to leave the banking clear for the £0.5m ‘waves’ that now grace the dual carriageway.
I stood for a while just in the treeline at St Mo’s listening to and watching the big Scots Pines bending in the wind. One of them was bending so much that you could see the roots rising out of the peat. I didn’t stay there too long. I must check tomorrow to see if it’s still standing.

Came home and made Butternut Squash soup and Scamp made Potatoes and Cabbage with the addition of bacon for me. An ideal meal for such a cold windy day.

Tomorrow we may be dancing. It depends on what Gareth says.

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 again – 5 March 2019

Today as I expected we were going to look for more flowers and have lunch too. Both these things are becoming habit forming.

In the morning I broke my rule and painted a bunch of grapes instead of an apple. I hope that won’t cause any great rift in the space-time continuum. When I came downstairs Scamp broke the bad news that there was no Glasgow flight for any of the cruise holidays we had on our short list. Not to worry, I’m sure something will turn up.

Scamp wanted to go out to Torwood Garden Centre to get more flowers for some spring colour. I suggested that on the way back we could go to The Boathouse, the new improved Boathouse which seems to have changed its name to Hebo House. Look on Flickr to find out what I’m talking about. She even offered to drive us there, which made it an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Drove to Torwood, loaded more plants of a flowering persuasion into the car and drove to Hebo House. It’s a much more welcoming place than the one that was there before. It was all style and no substance as I recall. As usual when testing a place we had our standard lunch. No starters, Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp and a burger (no mayo) for me. I hate mayo on a burger. It just makes the whole thing slippery and difficult to hold, not to mention the mess it makes on my jerseys. Both meals passed muster, although the mushy peas with Scamps F ’n’ C were inedible and the coffee was poor. We’ll go back all being well. When we were going in I noticed a photogenic tree on the far bank of the canal and was going to take a quick snap, then decided I’d get one on the way out. When we were leaving, it was bucketing with rain, but I stuck to my guns and grabbed two quick shots. One of them later became PoD after a fair bit of work.

Back home I made some beef olives, froze two of them and the rest go in the fridge for tomorrow’s dinner. I was just finishing when Scamp shouted that she’d found a cruise with a Glasgow departure. Superb! We booked it on the spot. We shall sail the seas again. Not for quite a while yet, but that gives us something to look forward to. Not only that, we’ve got a balcony cabin!! I can’t wait, but I’ll just have to. The booking this year was a joint effort with both of us looking and poring over web pages for hours.

Went back upstairs and painted a poor effort of a couple of apples and some grapes. It covers the remit, so the space-time continuum should be ok, but it wasn’t a great painting.

Tomorrow we are intending to go dancing in the afternoon and at night. We’ll see how it pans out. We also need to get some practise done in the morning.

Going our separate ways – 4 March 2019

I took the chance to slip the leash today, for a little while.

Scamp had the second gig of the year at Stepps and, as she didn’t need a roadie so I set off early to visit a new camera shop in Glasgow. The satnav lady knew where it was and got me there without a problem. They didn’t have the tripod I was looking for, but I didn’t really think they would have. It’s rather a niche model and I’ve read conflicting reports about it. I just wanted to have a look at it first hand before I parted with a hundred smackeroonies. The bloke in the shop couldn’t have been less interested:

“Do you have a Benbo Trekker tripod?”
”No. You have to order them from the website.”
“It’s just that I’d rather see it to make sure it will do what I want before I commit myself to buying it.”
”Yeah.”

Obviously not going for salesman of the month then?

Drove back in the general direction of Home using the satnav again. Because of the one-way system return was not the reverse of going, in this case, but the satnav lady knew this too. Once I was on the M8 heading roughly east I switched the satnav lady off and let her go back to sleep. Drove past Home and onward to Stirling where I turned off and took the back road up and over the Tak Ma Doon road, stopping near Loch Coulter to grab some shots to make a panorama later and also a grab shot of the straight road that looks as if it goes all the way to the Ochil Hills. The panorama became PoD. From there it was a lovely run in the springlike sunshine all the way home. Piece ’n’ flat sausage for my lunch and then after I’d dumped the images on the computer, I started today’s apple picture. It looks reasonable and hopefully you’ll be able to check my progress (or regress) soon on the website when I post the first seven. It’s an enjoyable task the painting and drawing of the apples, or at least it has been so far. May even branch out into ink or acrylic later. For just now it’s basically pencil and watercolour.

When Scamp came home I made a delicious tuna pasta. I say ‘delicious’, because we both agreed it was. Don’t know what I did differently this time, but I think it may have been some posh tomato concentrate. Must look for more of it the next time we’re buying Tesco.

Energetic beginners class in STUC and an advanced class where I couldn’t put a foot right. Every move a disaster. Even worse, I knew most of the moves. Just couldn’t get the moves into my head right. I think I just need to think less and go with the flow some times. Must practise Agamemnon this week to get rid of the rough edges. Still lots of laughs.

Tomorrow we have a free day. I think we may be going plant hunting again, although the weather looks rough. We’ll wait and see.

Apprentice Drivers – 2 March 2019

Scamp was out this afternoon with Isobel and June (a girls afternoon out) at Cumbersheugh Theatre to see Sister Act. I volunteered to be driver. I’ve tried to park at the theatre many times before and know just how stupid people are. Today the stupid ones stayed at home it was the apprentice stupids who were out driving. As if it wasn’t bad enough having to manoeuvre around a bus, an actual bus in this tiny excuse for a carpark, there were holes with crowd of potholers complete with ropes and crash helmets waiting to investigate them. As if this wasn’t bad enough, one woman decided it would be good to go round the one way system the wrong way. When she was eventually discouraged from this suicidal move, the bus driver decided it was time to get back out, so we had to wait while he drove down the single track road avoiding more potholes and drivers coming the opposite way. Actually, the bus was a godsend because it cleared a path for the rest of us to get out of this disaster waiting to happen.

I just went home and painted a couple of apples, read a few pages in my latest book and browsed the InterWeb for holidays somewhere warm and dry without potholes. All too soon it was time to pick the ladies up. Thankfully Scamp suggested I wait five or ten minutes for the majority of the dodgem drivers to get out before I made my bid. Before I left the house I ordered a curry from Bombay Dreams, intending to pick it up when we were on our way home after dropping off the others.

Bombay Dreams usually produces lovely food. Today was an exception. The curries were ready and waiting for us when we arrived, but were cooling considerably sitting next to the front door. Naan bread was dead by the time we got to it and although the pakora tasted fresh, the curries were disappointing. It was maybe just a bad day or a new chef, but you’re only as good as your last meal in this game.

PoD was cut flowers. Not the most inspiring photo I’ve ever taken, but it was ok.

We watched Zootropolis to brighten our evening. It was a film Scamp had recorded at Christmas and was head and shoulders away from the junk that was being offered on a Saturday night by any of the terrestrial channels.

Hoping to go dancing to a new venue tomorrow.

28 Drawings Done – 28 February 2019

All present and submitted on time, all 28 of them.

Scamp was out at June’s this morning to see her new kitchen. That gave me time to a couple of quick sketches for an idea for the last day of 28 Drawings Later 2019. When she came back we got started working.

Today we had decide we’d clear out the area under the stairs, and that’s what we did. I wish I’d taken a quick iPhone picture of the amount of stuff that we hauled out of that little triangular slice of space. It took up all the worktop space in the kitchen and also a fair bit of the hall too. Of course that didn’t include the white goods that live there. The freezer was too heavy to move and we only moved the tumble drier enough to hoover behind it. Then we had lunch, because we deserved it.

After lunch we did the Haynes manual procedure of “reassembly is the reverse of disassembly.” That didn’t take as long as I thought it would with two of us working as a team. It never does, as long as you don’t get in each other’s way. Unfortunately, everything that came out went back in again, so there wasn’t a Marie Kondo “Does This Spark Joy” moment, but it just proved that everything in there were useful. The potatoes, the onions and the bag full of black rubbish bags. They all sparked joy!

Scamp was looking for some colour for the garden, so we drove to Torwood in the rain to get some plants. We returned in the dry with a box of pink primulas and a dainty little Helleborus (Christmas Rose), but not the Helleborus Walberton’s Rosemary that was PoD today.  It was much colder today.  Temperature was 7º when I was making breakfast.  A bit of a culture shock after our warm February weather recently.

It had started raining again when we came home and we left the plants outside to recover and soak up some moisture. I’m sure they will be planted soon.

I went up to the drawing room to finalise my sketch for 28DL. I’d done a similar drawing last year for the last painting for the group. That’s what you see here. It was almost what I wanted, just the shadow is a bit false.

Tomorrow we may go out for lunch.

We had cake! – 26 February 2019

So, that apple again. I’m determined to get it right. Dug wi’ a burst ba’, that’s me!

Spent the morning taking a different tack. Tried using Inktense ink blocks. They look and feel a bit like hard pastels, but they are made from intensely coloured dry ink held together with a binder of some sort. You draw directly on to paper with them, add a clean water wash and the colour whooshes all over the place. To be used with care, I think as they are permanent. Once on the paper, it’s there for good. The same goes for shirts, jerseys, carpets too I’d think, although I’ve only really tested the first two. It was an improvement, much better than yesterday’s apple, but still not right. By the time I had finished, it was lunchtime and then we were off to Sandford to visit the wean (and its mum) and to see if there was indeed cake on offer.

Set the satnav for Sandford which is a village near Strathaven. The last time I was along this road was on a motorbike and it must have been around 1978. Amazingly I remembered the road. Mostly single track and through farmland. The satnav got it perfectly correct and took us right to the door. However the thing that impressed me the most was that the voice on the satnav told us to take the Strathaven road, but pronounced it correctly as Strayven. Artificial Intelligence gone mad.

When we got to the house the wean, Imogen, was asleep in her pram in the garden. IN THE GARDEN?? IN FEBRUARY?? Are ye mad? No of course they weren’t. This is no normal February is it? Not with temperatures like we’ve been having. This is Costa Del February! The wean was perfectly happy sleeping in the sun.  Anyway, nice house, lovely landscape photos printed large and hung on the wall. And why not. That’s what photogs take photos for and it wasn’t until I got this lovely big iMac that I truly appreciated the detail in my photos. I should print more of them and hang them up, not for visitors to admire, but for us.

The cake was delicious. We’re still at a loss to explain to ourselves how Jaclyn managed to make a crunchy topped sponge. Probably it’s good that we don’t know how or we’d be making sponges all the time. Nancy arrived just before Imogen woke up and she reminded me of my mum willing JIC and Hazy to wake up so she could hold them. Scamp was no different. She too was eager for a chance to hold her. Me? No. I don’t speak the baby talk and usually reduce them to tears, so I stayed in the background.

Eventually Scamp had had enough of the wean and we went home, but we were encouraged to go visit the waterfall on our way home. We parked the car and walked along the path to see moving water. Always fascinating, mainly to men, but probably to photogs in general. On the way we found a clump of snowdrops growing wild at the side of the path. That became PoD. Drove home and scamp made a delicious fish pie. One of my favourites.

Today’s painting was done in watercolour, not Inktense, but with more concentrated colours for the apple. I think I was trying too hard to lay on too many washes and overloading the paper. Fewer, but stronger colour washes may be the way to go. I’m better pleased with it, but practised a few more apples while watching the TV tonight. Practise, practise!

Tomorrow we are only dancing in the afternoon. It is rumoured that a certain lady salsa ‘teacher’ will be taking Jamie Gal’s class and that will be no fun, no fun at all.

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.

Pizza and Botanics – 23 February 2019

We were swithering whether to go east or west today.

The options were Beecraigs Park near Linlithgow or Glasgow’s west end. The park would be good for a walk and also east looked more settled than west as far as weather goes. Glasgow’s west end had the benefit of the Botanic Gardens and Paesano pizzas. Pizza won. Lovely spring sunshine as we were driving in to Glasgow, so maybe the weather fairies were wrong for once.

Accident on the M8 led to the motorway being closed, but we weren’t going far along, so we risked it and we got off before everything ground to a halt. Parked at Cowcaddens and took the subway out to Kelvinbridge and walked to Paesano which was queued out the door. However, we were seated within the ten minutes the server predicted.

When we left I was sure I could feel a spit of rain, Scamp wasn’t so sure. A hundred metres up the road she was sure. By the time we’d walked up to the Botanics it was proper rain. We took a walk around the Kibble Palace which was full of weans screaming and running round the circular paths, past prehistoric looking tree ferns and bird of paradise flowers. It’s a place that’s much better to visit on weekdays.

Outside the rain had almost stopped, but when we walked up to see how the gardens were growing, we realised it was just waiting its time to ambush us again. After that it just got heavier. I managed to grab one shot of tiny little daffodils about the size of the crocuses they were planted round. I know it really should be ’croci’, but that sounds so academic, so crocuses they will be today. Raided Waitrose for tomorrow’s dinner and other stuff and got the subway back to the carpark, then drove home. Maybe we should have gone to Beecraigs, but it wasn’t an altogether bad day. Pizza was good, but not as good as the company!

Today’s PoD is the little daffys and today’s sketch is of a woman I listened to back in January. She was singing Tracy Chapman songs and playing guitar on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow. The painting is from a photograph I took that day. I don’t like painting from photos, but needs must.

Listening to the Life in the Dark album by The Felice Brothers while typing this.

Tomorrow, hopefully we will be dancing at Mango.