Dancing – 16 October 2019

Unlike yesterday, we woke to rain.

However, as the morning progressed, so the weather improved and by midday the sun was shining. Time to go out and do some dancing.

No Michael today, so we had Anne Marie. Today we went over Somewhere Over The Rainbow again, and again we wore away some of the rough edges of the routine. I think it’s about as good as it’s going to get. I just hope we can remember:

a. The sequence of the moves.
b. The little tweaks we learned today.

If we can do that, I think we can progress on to the moves we learned today. New moves for an, as yet unnamed, Jive routine. One of the moves we’d done before, but the name evades Scamp and I and the second one we’re calling Knee, 3 kicks, because that’s a basic description of it. That was all Jive. We didn’t have time to do any waltz, but we did cover a new routine we’re learning for Quickstep. As with all quickstep routines, it’s the combination of Slow and Quick that cause me the most of my problems. Scamp seems to have no difficulty with them at all. It ’s just the way her brain works I think. Wired differently from mine.

Back home there was just enough time for a quick walk over to St Mo’s to feed the ducks on the remains of my loaf and some other bread that was as dry as a bone in the kitchen. The ducks didn’t seem to mind in the slightest. I got today’s PoD walking in the woods. I’d have liked to have used the 9mm lens, but I hadn’t brought it. The 14mm did a fairly good job and I was happy with the result.

Today’s sketch task was “A Frog”. I tried a quick sketch in the morning of Kermit who holds some lavender in the back bedroom. It wasn’t very successful and Scamp told me the head was the wrong shape. This confirmed what I already thought. After dinner I had another go and took more time to get the proportions of the poor frog’s head a bit better. Yes, it worked better this time. The only problem is the poor soul looks a bit sad. It’s hard to get Kermit’s quizzical expression just the way he looks on TV. Never mind, it’s a fair likeness. Tomorrow it’s “Crumpled Paper”. Inktober brings loads of that!

Tomorrow we’re hoping to be up and out early because the weather looks better in the morning.

A Day at the Seaside – 15 October 2019

Up and out we said. Up and out it was today.

Breakfast downstairs today and out for 10.30. Off to the seaside. I chose Troon as our destination. It began to look a bit dicey when we climbed up the M77 to the top of Fenwick Moor and drove into the low lying cloud. Fog lights on and we carried on. Thankfully after about 15 minutes we were back into sunshine with the cloud looking like a grey wall behind us. From there it was sunshine all the way to Troon.

Couldn’t get parked at the first car park, so we carried on to the one we used to go to round by the harbour. The place with the crashy waves. The waves weren’t crashing today, in fact the sea was very calm with only the slightest movement. Arran’s peaks were poking through some low cloud and made a great PoD. Taken by me, chosen from the sixty odd others by Scamp. We walked round the Ballast Bank by the low and now notifiably DANGEROUS path. Sat for a while on one of the seats by the path. Beautiful views over to Horse Island and Ailsa Craig in the distance. Listened to the hundreds of seabirds on the exposed rocks. It could have been summer, sitting in the sun with the high banking sheltering us from the sun.

Eventually we gave up our seat and walked on into town. Nearly at the town Scamp’s cousin appeared with her daughter and the two of them had a long catch up, nearly blocking the path for everyone else. Eventually we split up and went our separate ways. We walked as far as the wind surfers’ car park at the far end of town. There we turned and walked back in to town. I suggested we go to the Venice cafe for lunch. The best part of half an hour for a roll ’n’ sausage and a roll ’n’ scrambled egg. It’s not that they were busy. We were the only ones waiting to be served. No apologies, nothing. Scamp told them in no uncertain manner that we wouldn’t be back. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her say that before. That will give you some idea of how angry she was. Now we know why it wasn’t busy.

Walked back to the car and who should we bump into again? Elspeth and her daughter. They had been to Scotts for lunch and that’s where we had been heading before we met them. Don’t see some folk for ages, then you see them twice in the same day.

Drove home through the usual 4pm traffic. No low cloud or fog this time, just loads and loads of cars on a busy road.

Sketch today was “A Dessert”. We had Meringue with Strawberries and Cream for tonight’s dessert and I attempted to draw that, but wasn’t impressed with the attempt, so I drew Strawberries and Cream instead. Three strawberries and a tub of Elmlea. I liked that one!

Maybe we should keep that Juke. Today we started out with 274 miles predicted in the tank. We arrived home with 295 miles predicted in the tank. It seems like the petrol tank is related to the Magic Porridge Pot that never emptied!

Tomorrow it’s dancing in the afternoon, hopefully.

Deone’s Seat – 11 October 2019

Today’s topic from my list was “Butterfly”. In October, in Scotland? Really?

Then I remembered Deone’s Seat. It’s to remember Deone MacRae who died, aged 15, from cancer. The story is much longer. Google her name if you’re interested. It’s not a memorial. First and foremost it’s a seat. It’s been powder coated a cheerful bright pink and it sits beside the pond at St Maurices park. The seat is cut and welded from 1/4″ sheet steel and is a fitting tribute. I went out this morning to sketch it and then added some colour later. It was my interpretation of the prompt.

Came back and Scamp was getting herself ready for a trip in to Glasgow, solo. That suited me. I’d a bit of virus killing to do on the iMac. Probably only the second time I’ve had to resort to a virus killer. I’d tried Bitdefender last night, but it’s a bit of a sledgehammer to crack a nut. It took 25 minutes last night and it still was only about 75% through on a short scan. Nah, I needed something quicker. I’d found the offending article, it was an extension in Safari, Apple’s worthless browser. Worthless or not it was harbouring a piece of dodgy software that needed excising. I’d read that Malwarebites was good, so I downloaded that and it quickly found, not one, but two pieces of malware and deleted them, or to be precise, quarantined them. I don’t like quarantine, I prefer deletion. So that’s what I did. Malwarebites it’s the way to go.

By this time Scamp was on the bus to Glasgow, so I had time to add some colour to today’s sketch. Plenty of time, so for once, I let one colour dry before adding the next. I was pleased with the result. Yes I know it’s not totally symmetrical and there are some rogue lines, but that’s what happens when you’ve half an eye on the rain clouds, half an eye on the swan that’s sidling up to you looking for an early lunch and half an eye on nosy folk asking “Are you drawing?” Luckily the only person who passed was a bloke jogging around the pond and he just nodded and gave me a Scottish “Aye” which can mean “Good Morning”, “Looks like rain” or just “Hi”. It never means “What are you doing here?” It’s just a nod and an “Aye.” I don’t think they do that anywhere else in the world.

With the sketch and the painting done, I did a bit of flying from Fuerteventura to Lanzarote. Not far, but still taxing until you work out how to do the ILS approach under autopilot. I know this is gibberish, but it’s interesting gibberish to me. Gave up after the third attempt and made my lunch. Piece on brie, apple and honey. Totally heavenly. Home grown apples too, James Grieve.

After lunch I walked down to M&S to get chicken for tonight’s dinner and also a box of their delicious Turkish Delights, bread and a couple of pastries for after dinner. Got a text to say that it was back to business, Scamp had returned.

PoD was a photo of St Mo’s pond that I took after sketching Deone’s seat. Looks very pleasant once you’ve spotted out the Bucky bottles and the crisp wrappers. Swans seem to like it anyway.

Tomorrow we may go to Embra. It depends on the weather, but I expect I’ll be driving part of the way, which means I won’t be able to partake of tomorrows prompt: A Fruity Cocktail.

Inktober 2019 begins and so does Winter – 1 October 2019

Scamp was going out for coffee, then she was going out for lunch and I was a happy bunny for once because Inktober 2019 had appeared on Flickr menu. It was cold today.

Scamp had a 10am appointment with Isobel and then a 12 noon appointment with Mags. Because it’s the first of the month I had some backing up of images to do, but that could be done by the computer without any input from me, other than to initiate the copying. I had also given myself the job of taking rubbish to the tip. One old SCSI scanner that never really worked and a bag of rubbish, which we’ll come back to later. We both got on with our respective duties and we bumped into each other after I’d been to the tip and she had been for coffee. I was heading back for lunch and she was heading out for lunch. My what busy lives we lead. I’d also checked on Inktober on Flickr and done a bit of armchair flying while she was out. Flying was a work in progress, but Flickr was looking good for once with 19 members. I’ve just checked and now we’re up to 34! Not everyone will participate, I realise that, but 34 is a very good start. I also cut out the patterns for the new waistcoat. A much more manageable set of pieces. Only six templates. We’ll see how simple the stitching is later.

After lunch, more armchair flying and then a walk to St Mo’s because the light was good even if the temperature was still in single figures (9.9ºc counts as single figures, just). I got well wrapped up, but needn’t have worried because the sun was actually quite warm and as long as I wasn’t in the shade, it was quite pleasant. The sun was low when I was almost ready to come home and that led to some interesting effects, resulting in me being later than I’d intended. The PoD was one of the last ones from the walk and was taken with the 14mm lens to give a bit of depth to the shot.

Tonight I did my first Inktober 2019 sketch, straight out of the ‘Official’ promos. The topic was ‘Ring’. I took the easy route and drew my hand with my wedding ring. It’s a bit rough, but I haven’t done much sketching since May. Quite enjoyed it though. Tomorrow’s theme is ‘Mindless’ and I’ve no idea what to do for it. Maybe because I’m mindless – now there’s an idea.

Tomorrow it’s back to Ballroom and Jive. No Salsa because it’s the lady with the “Oo la la”. No real dancing, just learning to raise your hand and shout “Oo la la”!

Oh yes, the rubbish thing. I bought a tablet stand from Ikea months ago because it was an ideal shape to hold my sketchbook for photographing the Inktober sketches. Guess what was in the bag of rubbish I took to the tip! Even worse, I put it in the bag in purpose. I’d forgotten I’d need it tonight. Numpty.

Windy Willy was blowing up a storm – 11 September 2019

It wasn’t really Willy, it was Dorian, Hurricane Dorian whose last gasps were still strong enough to rattle the windows and bend the trees.

Drove in to Glasgow for more Jive torture. We’d got to grips with the ‘Shuffle Ball Change’ from two weeks ago and this week we were introduced to a whole new routine which contained that ill named move. Finally got to grips with that and then Michael decided we needed more practise in Waltz. This week we were consolidating the moves we’d been introduced to the last time and had another one added on to our long standing problem move that involves constant turning. This time Michael decided it would look good to add a bit of ‘locking’ into that already mind boggling turning promenade thing. I must admit though that the addition of the lock step did enhance the look of the move. We’d spent so long on the waltz we didn’t have time to do any quickstep. Oh dear, what a shame!

Had to leave on the dot, because we were rushing back to collect some pictures that John had kindly saved from the bulldozers in the old school. Two of Bill Rennie’s and one of Fred’s. Glad he thought to noticed them as it’d be a shame to lose them.

With the paintings safely collected, I took a walk over to St Mo’s in the wild wind that was howling round the place. It really was gale force today. Cap’n Bob would have been crapping himself with “Winds in excess of …” Today’s PoD was the fluffy looking Sow Thistle seed head. There wasn’t much else to see today. It would have been a good day for a landscape, with a constantly changing sky and good light on the hills, but I couldn’t be bothered driving. Besides which, I was getting hungry.

Pizza for dinner and not one of my best offerings. Scamp’s was declared fine, but mine was a tad overdone and the Mozzarella I’d bought in M&S was definitely not from Italy. Rough and clunky, not the smooth ball you get over there.

That was about it for the day. Spent a couple of hours rebuilding my Hazel rules after I’d inadvertently deleted one earlier in the week. I’ll make a back up immediately the blog is posted.

Gas man comes tomorrow to service the boiler and when that’s done, the excitement will be over, hopefully.

A man with a plan – 2 September 2019

Today I had plans to organise a busy day. They sort of worked too.

Today was a Monday and Mondays can be split easily into three parts. Morning – Just relax, because it’s going to get busy later
Afternoons – Get out of the way of Gems for a couple of hours
Evenings – Another couple of hours and it’s time for bed.

In the morning I put the finishing touches to the picture of the four apples I’ve been messing around with. It started out as a wet-in-wet watercolour. That rarely works, but when it does it looks great. It didn’t work. The rule then is if there’s enough good stuff in it, try wet-on-dry and add ‘glazes’ and see if that improves the situation. That can work. If it doesn’t, just tear it up. You’re wasting your time. I tried ‘glazes, which are layers of thin, transparent watercolour that gradually build up a range of colours. So far I’m happy with it. It’s certainly better than it was yesterday. I will do no more to it.

By the time I got it looking reasonable, it was lunchtime and after lunch, Gems would descend and I’d get away. Today I’d to take some rubbish to the local tip, then collect my stuff from Colin and finally post a CD to Crawford & Nancy. I actually got all those done in a couple of hours, which pleased me.

Then it was time to make dinner after a quick flight in X-plane 11. I’m still not getting the hang of flying with instruments. Years ago I could do this quite simply. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong now. More practise required.

After dinner we were out to Salsa and learned a couple of new moves called, confusingly New Move, New Move 2 and Other New Move. Stayed for two classes, but was getting bored and tired by the end.

Decided that today’s PoD would be the painting of the apples and so it transpired.  Not a bad day.  Got stuff done, even if it rained from morning until night.

Tomorrow I’ve to take the car to Stirling for service and the rest of the day is my own … possibly!

Flowers, Green Beasties and The Proms – 31 August 2019

Today we were going to Chryston Flower Show to see how my submissions fared. Scamp declared that she was feeling a fair bit better, thank goodness!

It had rained hard during the night and when we woke around 9am, it was still pelting down. That continued until around midday when we got ready for the show and drove out to Muirhead to have lunch in 3 Regazzi I liked the name, 3 Guys. It was standard Italian fare. Scamp had Bruschetta as a starter followed by Chicken in a creamy sauce, with veg and roast potatoes. Mine was Potato and Broccoli soup followed by a spicy Penne Arrabbiata. Both were fine and tasted authentically Italian. We’ll be back.

Walked down to Chryston HS where the flower show was to be. First thought was that there were a lot more folk there than last time. Also the produce was better and more varied than last time. Flowers were the usual incredibly high quality. It’s hard to believe that these people are doing this, basically, for fun. It’s got to be for enjoyment because nobody is going to go to all this trouble for a £1.50 prize for a First, £1 for a Second and £0.50 for a Third. Like my pal Colin says, it’s not about winning, it’s about taking part. My painting got me a First. One landscape photo got a Second and another got a Third. My waistcoat got a Second, so all four were placed. Result!

After we’d spoken to Colin and Evelyn and after Scamp had won a host of prizes at the Tombola we drove home.

The rain that had plagued us for the past two days had tailed off by then and by the time we got home the streets were drying, so I took myself out for a walk in St Mo’s. Not much of interest until I was almost home and that’s when I found a Hawthorn Shield Bug. Sitting on a Dogwood plant minding its own business, it became PoD.

That was about it apart from listening to a quite excellent concert from the BBC Proms with Lisa Fischer and Ledisi presenting an evening honouring Nina Simone. I was amazed by Lisa Fischer’s seamless switch from jazz to Henry Purcell (which Scamp tells me was When I Am Laid In Earth.). Singing with two microphones, she played some clever vocal gymnastics. I wasn’t so impressed with Ledisi, but she too was worth listening to.

Tomorrow looks like a better day than today. We may go dancing.

Walking – 10 June 2019

Today dawned sunny, so we were going for a longer walk than yesterday.

Madeleine decided to stay as this was going to be a fairly energetic walk. The first part was definitely energy sapping and was a climb up a fairly steep hillside, but as Sim had told us, after that it levelled out and we walked along a metalled road … for what seemed like miles, but wasn’t really. The views from the top of the hill were excellent with speckled sunlight over the Welsh hills. It was a circular path that took us back the way we came eventually. Findings were a strange looking Shield Bug with red and black markings, a bird’s nest with chicks in a hole at the side of the road some strange brown striped flies with enormous antennae and an interesting brown butterfly. I got photos of everything except the birds nest because I didn’t want to disturb the parent birds and risk them abandoning the chicks, unlike the rest of the group who crowded round for a better look. Then I noticed I’d set the ISO to 256000! Luckily I only took a few shots with the heavy grain. Unluckily the butterfly was one of those shots.

We just got home before the rain started and I was beat, so I had a snooze. After that it was lunch and I managed to get some more photos taken. Then Scamp and I sat in the garden where I got a couple of sketch/paintings done one of which is here.

The clouds had been gradually massing and when the thunder started Scamp decided the good weather had gone. I stuck it out for ten minutes or so before having to give up too. Just in time as it turned out, because the rain came down in torrents, but the thunder grumbled away down the valley.

Chicken curry and roti for dinner.

New Boots and Panties! – 7 June 2019

It was one of those days when I couldn’t settle.  Eventually Scamp talked me down.

What I did do was to solve today’s Fiendish level Sudoku with the new method which I got from YouTube of all places.1 I’m really impressed with this method.

With that out of the way we wandered in to Glasgow to look for a pair of boots for me. Ostensibly to replace both the leaking pairs I have. Probably I’ll keep the Clarks pair which don’t leak quite as badly and ditch the Lafuma ones. They look good, they just leak like a sieve now. Rather than throwing them out, I’ll probably put them in the next Salvation Army bag that arrives. They may not be good for walking through puddles, but they will keep someone’s feet warm in the winter. Tiso was the first, and only stop. I tried on a pair of boots that were the right size and lo and behold, not only were they a fit, they were also a comfortable fit. I’ve been wearing them all night just to make sure they are the ones for me and I’m comfortably sure they are.

Sat down for a while and painted A Stone.  Well, actually it’s a dry stane dyke, but it does contain at least one stone.

Back home via Robroyston for a coffee in Costa and a chance to stock up on messages at Asda. Next stop was Tesco for a bottle of rum – well, it is Friday. Then home, where I decided to wash the car and rinse it off with water from Bobby Flavell’s outside tap. Such a great idea, having an outside tap. So much easier than carrying buckets of water and getting soaked trying to wash off the roof or the Juke. Also allowed me to hose out the depressions where the wipers sit. The hose makes short work of all the fermenting flower heads and general gunge from the trees overhead. Thank you Bobby.

With the car dripping, it was time to go for a walk in St Mo’s to get some photos. Not a lot to see and the light was quite low. Managed a better view of the scary fly from yesterday. Maybe not that exact fly, but certainly one of that genus. Hopefully someone on Flickr will be able to ID it for me. PoD went to the close up shot of the daisies. Both Scamp and I agreed on that.

That was about it for the day. We shared a fish supper tonight and for the second time “Well, it is Friday.” Suffering a bit for it now, but it was delicious at the time.

Tomorrow? I think it’s going to be up fairly early and out.


  1. This is really a marker for me so that some time hence I can remember where I found this time saving tip. 

Private lesson – 5 June 2019

Private lesson for two couples

Drove in to Glasgow through some torrential rain to find that there were only four of us, just two couples. We had a whole hour with teacher Ann Marie while the other couple had one of the experts, Heather. The great thing about Ann Marie is that she asks you what you want to do and then goes over that in detail. So, not only a private lesson, but an own design private lesson. We went over some of the Jive steps that were bugging us and then we ironed out my problems with the fish-tails and running steps in Quickstep. We also learned the Two Handed Cuff and improved on our Bumps in Jive. Came home after a coffee in Nero to give us some time to review the lesson.

Later in the afternoon I took a couple of cameras over to St Mo’s and everything fell apart. Not only did the camera start to vastly over-expose, but then it got itself stuck in electronic shutter mode and wouldn’t come back out again. Nothing I did would make it work. It all started when I stuck on the Samyang 7.5mm and the image started shaking and jumping in the viewfinder. After that, nothing would work again. Eventually I gave up and came home. Finally got it to do a full reset, after which it was back to normal and working well. I think the Samyang had messed with one of the esoteric settings I’d set up over the last week and the full reset put everything back to normal. Scary time though. I had visions of an irate phone call to Brighton followed by parcelling up the new ‘Toy off the Rack’ and sending back. Neither of these are now necessary … I hope. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.  So, no PoD from that visit to St Mo’s, but luckily I’d taken a walk around the block earlier in the day and got a couple of shots of Scamp’s alliums from the path at the back of the house and that’s what achieved PoD.

After the drama of the camera, I did some painting. Today’s challenge was meant to be Seashells, but the only shells I could find were snail’s shells, so that was what I painted. Even worse was that I only could find one shell, so it was one shell in two positions. Tomorrow’s target is Something Shiny.

It’s been a day of mixed weather.  Occasional sunny spells and occasional heavy rain showers, but for the most part it’s just been plain dull with heavy clouds.  Hopefully it will be better tomorrow.

No Salsa tonight because teacher Jamie is still down in deepest England doing sciency things at a science festival.

Out early tomorrow to give a few drops of blood to be sent over to Monklands hospital for checking by the consultant. Nothing else planned.