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Down Glasgow Green – 20 August 2017

True to our challenge, we were out pretty early today and off down Glasgow Green.

Went for our usual walk around The Green to see the newbies taking their first steps on the road (or should that be water) to becoming competent rowers. There were lots of them out splashing about on the water. Lots of older gentlemen on bikes, carrying megaphones were shouting instructions to the more seasoned rowers. I don’t know if any of them were actually listening to these encouragements, in fact I think I heard one shout back “Why don’t you fuck off ya bastard”. Of course I could have been mistaken.

We went to the People’s Palace for the usual roll ’n’ sausage for me and toast for Scamp, but horror of horrors, it wasn’t flat sausage, it was two pork links in the roll and even worse, my coffee and Scamp’s tea came in a cardboard cup! What it the world coming to when you can’t get flat sausage or real crockery? Actually the link sausages were very nice, but the brown water was not coffee. By the time we were leaving some of the Ls, the Gs and the Bs, Ts and Is were gathering for some sort of festival thing which took up most of the Green. At first, thought it was a circus that had set up, and after some consideration, I was probably right!  Glasgow Pride weekend continues.

The afternoon was a bit of a lazy time. Didn’t do much other than work up an ink and wash drawing from an ink sketch I’d done in the winter garden. I’m not that impressed with it, but it’s done and there is some ink in it and it’s finished. Just got it finished and my pen disintegrated, spilling ink over my nice new watercolour pad. No great loss, it’s not such a brilliant pad. Might be good for acrylic, but the grain pattern is too regular for real watercolour work. Still worth the £3.  While I was engaged in this artistic endeavour, Scamp was completing one of her digital jigsaws.

Salsa tonight was great. It was in Arta and Grant was DJ, so the music was danceable. There weren’t many men there, and as a result, I was in great demand. I don’t think I sat down for more than two dances in succession. Totally wabbit I was by the end of the night.

Tomorrow we may go to the gym or for a swim if we can remember how to get there. It’s been a long time.

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One of those days – 18 August 2017

You know it’s a dull day when a highlight is going to the butchers to get some stew. One of those days.

Woke to rain. Scamp went out early to check out a singing venue for Gems and I did very little (as usual). I did take some photos from the back door, and that is where today’s PoD came from. Did you know that rose ‘thorns’ are actually ‘Prickles’. I know a joke about that, but it’s not possible to repeat it in mixed company, but there, you learned something today. Not that I know a rude joke or two, I’m sure you knew that already.  No, it was the technical name for rose thorns! I digress. When Scamp came back, it soon became obvious that the weather was just going to continue in the same vein, so after lunch I got dressed for a bit more varnishing and gave two of the upstairs windows another coat of teak flavour varnish.

When I was finished painting for the day, we went out for a drive and that’s when I got the stew, sausages and black pudding. While I was braving the torrential rain to run to the butchers, Scamp was across the street getting some Scottish Tablet ice cream. After that, we just drove home. It was too wet and depressing to go anywhere else.

Couldn’t decide what to have for dinner tonight. I was almost set on a baked potato and beef burger. Then Scamp suggested why not have mince ’n’ tatties ’n’ cabbage with beetroot (of course, JIC). So with some detailed instruction from Scamp, I cooked the mince and then had mashed tatties and cabbage with ‘roop’ on the side. Brilliant. If there’s one thing that can put a shine on the day, it’s mince ’n’ tatties.  Truly THE highlight of the day. We had the tablet ice cream as a pudding, but there was very little tablet in the mix. Questions will be asked in the house!

So, a day that started off badly and stayed the same through the day, brightened up later because of some boiled potatoes, ground meat, leaf vegetables and pickled root veg. It sometimes doesn’t take much, it’s just got to be the right thing at the right time.

Remember, prickles not thorns.

Hoping for some dry spells tomorrow.

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Painting again – 17 August 2017

It was a lovely warm sunny morning, but rather than go out walking, for some cantankerous reason, I decided to stay in to sand and paint the upstairs window ledges.

I think it was because the sun was warm and that would help the varnish to dry quicker. I got all three rooms finished in about an hour or so. Looks so much better now. They will probably need another coat, but no great rush.

After lunch I went out for a walk along the canal and out to Dumbreck Marshes. Got some more shots of the caterpillars, as you can see. After some investigation tonight, I discovered they were Buff-tip moth caterpillars. The key was that inverted ‘V’ on the head. Glad that’s sorted. There weren’t so many of them today. Maybe the gusty winds have blown the rest away. Weather was fine going out, but torrential rain showers on the way back to the car.

I was on dinner duty today and the Curried Chicken and New Potato Traybake didn’t exactly hit the spot. Chicken breast was too dry although the legs were fine. Potatoes took too long, so maybe parboil them next time. Other than that, it was fine and easy to make.

Heavy rain and high winds forecast for tomorrow. More painting maybe.

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The beginning of the end – 10 August 2017

The sun was shining when we woke this morning, but then it said goodbye as the clouds rolled in and took its place.

That more or less summed up the day. Cloudy. Not cold and not wet, just dull.

Scamp went for messages and I painted over yesterday’s twee little landscape thing. Then I did what Fred had been talking about, the technique of the moment called Acrylic Pouring. He’s got a garage to paint in, I’ve got a back bedroom with a carpet on the floor. A light coloured carpet. That restricted the Jackson Pollock in me and I took a bit more care than he would have in my search for an abstract. As is usually the case, after a bit of mixing and splashing, the basis of a landscape appeared. I let fly with another burst of acrylic paint and the landscape disappeared under some cloud, then magically reappeared. At this point, Scamp returned laden with shopping and I had to stop to help her and allow my ‘creation’ dry. Then it was lunch time.

After lunch I poked, prodded and generally abused the canvas a bit more, then went out to take some photos. I love the work the volunteers have done in St Mo’s, creating a wildflower garden. The council threw some seed down a few years ago and with much publicity claimed it had created a wildflower garden. Weeds and grass do not a wildflower garden make NLC. Thankfully the volunteers took over and finished the job. Anyway, the autumn colours of the flowers today shone in the sun that was playing hide and seek among the breaking clouds and that is my PoD.

Came home after a short walk, because there were weans everywhere, also trying to make the most of the sun on their last full week of the summer holidays. Only they were noisier and not as well behaved as me.  As I was walking home from St Mo’s, and less than 50m from home, there were two deer.  A buck and a hind, grazing as if they were out on a hillside in Glencoe.  I managed a few shots, then thought better of going closer in case I spooked them and they ran off across the busy road.  Photo on Flickr.

After dinner, which was a lovely chicken breast on a green vegetable spread (with potatoes, of course) we were just watching the girls running races on the TV (some big ‘running races’ thing in London) when I absentmindedly pinged the cap off my tooth. It had only lasted about a month! I think it may be a waste of the dentist’s and my time replacing it this time.

Whisper it. It’s going to rain tomorrow. Oh no, the beginning of the end!

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Oh What a Beautiful Day – 8 August 2017

After two days of almost continuous rain, today’s blue skies and sunshine were a great relief. Scamp was going out for lunch with a friend and I was painting in the morning, but determined to get the bike out and turn the wheels a few times.

I set out for Auchinstarry to park and then cycle along the railway to Twechar and from there, take the road to Kirkintilloch, then cycle back along the canal to Auchinstarry. A nice easy run of a little more than 10 miles.

Lots of folk were out today, and not just the usual dog walkers either. What looked like a Summer School group were learning about rock climbing at Auchinstarry. Halfway along the railway path two women were having a picnic with their weans, sitting on an old iron bridge over the Garrell Burn. After that, it was just road traffic all the way to Kirkintilloch. Walked up the steep hill to reach the canal (That’s where today’s PoD came from) and then took the towpath from there to Twechar. Passed lots of cyclists on the way. Some gave a nod, some pretended I wasn’t there (Bike Snobs), some shouted a cheery ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ or the West of Scotland ‘Aye’ as we passed.

Changed my mind at Twechar and headed back along the railway again. The main reason is that the canal tow path gets really busy with cyclists and fishermen in the summer and the path narrows fairly frequently making crossing and overtaking difficult. I stopped to take some ‘beastie’ photos at Dumbreck Marshes and met a bloke who was extolling the joys of cycling. He realised he was preaching to the converted, but we agreed it was a great way to get some enjoyable exercise. He was on his way back from the Falkirk Wheel and was sitting having his lunch with his iPhone playing some music through a Bluetooth speaker in his rucksack. We wished each other an enjoyable run home and I was on the last leg of my run. Didn’t pass anyone else on the way back and then watched some blokes doing a bit of dangerous looking rock climbing in Auchinstarry Quarry where there is a sheer drop into very deep water. Rather them than me.

Back home, it was paella for dinner and I had volunteered for cooking duty. Turned out not to bad.

Tomorrow is to be more of the same. Hopefully they get it right again.

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A busy day – 1 August 2017

We were having visitors from Hamilton today, so we had to stick to a tight schedule.

Scamp was up early to start the prep for the main course, then she found out that the chicken thighs weren’t as fresh as she had anticipated, so I volunteered to dive up to Tesco to replace them. With the Trinni Stew Chicken cooked to her satisfaction and the Pineapple Snow churned and freezing, we took some time out for lunch which we’d agreed would be at Torwood.

Lunch at Torwood was mini quiche in a filo basket, exactly what we’d decided to have as a starter, so in a way lunch was a final check to ensure that our recipe was correct. Scamp got a new, and much needed, pair of secateurs and a pot of parsley. I got a rhubarb plant. Wandered round the plants and made notes of things we may get later in the year for a bit of autumn colour.

When we got home, we got a text from Hazy to say they’d arrived in their holiday flat, despite a holdup at Heathrow. I started to do the prep for the starter. Such a lot of chopping for such a little thing. I was just taking the bag of coffee out of the freezer when I realised that we didn’t have a coffee pot, because I’d broken the old one a few months ago and we don’t use it except when we have guests. This time it was Scamp to the rescue, managing to get one in Tesco. Where would we be without Tesco?

Dinner menu was:

  • Starter Mini Quiche filled with cheese, chopped peppers and spring onion
  • Main Trinni Stew Chicken with rice and fried plantain
  • Puddings Pineapple Snow with Lime Chilli sauce or Summer Fruits Crumble

A good night, comparing holidays and telling tall tales.

Today’s PoD is a picture of my watercolour paintbox with its messy palette. A comment from an amateur artist like myself last year has become my maxim. “I might need that exact colour some day.” That’s why I rarely clean my palette.

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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