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.

Not going far – 4 June 2019

Not going far

It wasn’t the weather this time, it was just the threat from tiny wee beasties.

Last night after I’d posted the blog and put the iMac to bed I found another tick. That settled it. Definitely no more walks in the long grass at least until the first frost. The further I got today was over the paths around St Mo’s pond, keeping strictly to the path. Didn’t get many photos, because the light level was fairly low. Heavy cloud all afternoon was the culprit. In the morning the weather was much more pleasant and on retrospect I should have gone out then, but I didn’t. My fault. I’ve made that mistake before and I’ll probably make it again. However I didn’t come home empty handed, I got today’s PoD which is a couple of White Tailed Bees (Bombus lucorum) on some bramble flowers.

I potted up some strawberry plants and a yellow aquilegia in the late morning , then, together with Scamp pruned some of the roses and the forsythia. We also pulled some rhubarb which Scamp made into a pie. There’s even some left over for tomorrow.

Later in the afternoon the rain returned and drizzled on for the rest of the day, so I retired to the drawing room – the room where I draw and managed to catch up with the sketches for June. June 3rd was A Bird and today was A Weed. The bird became a Blackbird from a photo I’d taken back in April and the weed was some buttercups which are the bane of Scamp’s gardening, but I like them. They were drawn from life. That’s me up to date now so maybe it will become easier from now on. Since I’m only doing it for fun and am not posting them on social media, I’m treating them as practise pieces and a chance to experiment.

Tomorrow we’re probably heading in to Glasgow to dance the afternoon away at Blackfriars. I don’t think we’re going to risk going to STUC at night, since Jamie G is still down south.

A non dancing Monday – 3 June 2019

Dancing with some teachers isn’t dancing, it’s repeti-ti-ti-tion.

The day began with me finding the first tick of the year. I was reading last year’s blog last night, and would you believe it, a year ago on the 1st of June I found a tick. I make the solemn pledge then “No more walking through long grass until the first frost.” Today I made the same pledge. While a nasty surprise, it gave me a chance to try out the tick remover Scamp got for me last year. First time I’ve had cause to use it. Hopefully the last for a long time. Unfortunately the wee bugger landed on the carpet when I pinged it off and that meant I got to hoover the carpet to make sure it didn’t reattach itself to me or anyone else. Then just to make sure it was definitely gone, I sprayed the carpet with fly and insect killer. Probably took a few days off my life too, breathing in the noxious fumes.

With that done and with the carpet hoovered, I phoned the butcher to order some meat for the weekend. Scamp was out visiting one of her friends who was just out of hospital. She was also taking here sister to the docs after Gems, so I was given the job of taxi driver for the other two. Not a problem really, I hadn’t intended going out. The weather was hit and miss today and that’s why I gave it a miss. Too many heavy showers and a (very) few sunny periods. Instead I headed upstairs and did a sketch from my June list. Topic was An Umbrella. It’s finished and looks ok, but not great. Actually, the practise sketch was better. That’s quite often the case with me.

After my taxi job was done and Scamp was back from the docs, having dropped June back home (she got a course of antibiotics for a chest infection), we had to decide what was happening about salsa tonight. Last night Shannon had said she was taking Jamie G’s advanced class tonight. After much soul searching and discussion we decided not to go. It’s about 40 minutes driving there and back with a boring waste of an hour dancing the same move over and over again. I know Scamp still feels bad about it and deep down thinks we should have gone, but we agreed not to and it’s done now. After dinner I finished another swift watercolour sketch of mushrooms. That the first two done. The sketch for today (3rd June) is A Bird and for tomorrow itself is A Weed. Plenty of them to practise on!

Today’s PoD is a landscape taken from the top of the Whin Edge Brae above Mollinsburn, and was taken just before one of the heaviest rain showers I’ve nearly been caught in. Luckily I was just home before the clouds broke. Scamp wasn’t so lucky and was driving through it. I’m still trying to find out what all the buttons and dials do on the new toy. It’s amazing how much it can do.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow looking for a new pair of boots. Although if I’m not walking in the long grass until the first frost, I may not need them for a while.

The end of May – 31 May 2019

But not the end of the rain!

Today we had planned to go to the Sagra Italiana festival of Italian food in Glasgow. The camera wasn’t being delivered until after 4pm, so that gave us most of the wet day to play with. The rain started seriously about 11am and from then on it was continuous. We reckoned the festival would be a wash out, but drove in to Glasgow anyway. We were right. There were about thirty people wandering around and at least half of them were family members of the girl group who were singing bravely on the stage. At least they were under cover. There’s nothing so desperate as folk trying to look happy and cheerful when the rain is pelting down and all the planning has been for nothing. I think we both felt sorry for everyone concerned.

To cheer us up we went for a pizza in Paesano. It was mobbed, but then again, it wasn’t raining in there. Everyone was warm and dry and being fed and watered. Went to CassArt and bought myself a little paintbox to celebrate the end of Every Day In May. I’ve had great fun doing the drawings and the paintings, but it’s been tough some days to work out how to interpret some of the prompts. I’d do it again. Today’s topic was A Crab. Try as I might, I couldn’t think of anything to draw other than a crustacean. After all, living in the middle of Central Scotland, there aren’t many crabs around here. So it was I wandered the arcades of the InterWeb looking for some decent photos. Eventually settling on an iStock image that was what I was looking for.

Today’s PoD was seen from Ingram Street in Glasgow. The poor bloke sheltering in the portico of the GOMA didn’t look as if he was the model of Domestic Bliss and I think that’s what attracted me to take the shot.

Came home and took charge of the camera from the DPD man. It looked in very good nick and after giving the battery a quick squirt I checked it over a bit more and was very pleased with it. Let the battery charge a bit more and then the warning light started flashing on the charger which indicates a battery fault. I tried it in the camera and it worked for about fifteen minutes before it packed in. I’ve just charged it up again, fully this time, and it seems to be holding its charge this time. Will find out if it’s really working in the morning.

The rain stopped for about ten minutes today, but it’s raining again. Tomorrow is to be dry, but then the rain returns on Sunday. We should make the most of tomorrow, but we’re not making any hard and fast plans yet.

Man seen building an ark in Condorrat – 30 May 2019

I was wondering today, did it rain on St Swithins day? Then I realised that wasn’t until July. Maybe the rain is just practising.

We drove through the rain to Falkirk today to get some low-sugar muesli and a few other essentials. I thought the brand I usually get, with no added sugar was in the low sugar bracket. Nope, it was in the High bracket, carrying the danger sign of the red shield. What I forgot is that it was the extra fruity version and that extra fruity contains the extra sugar, but because the manufacturer is not actually adding sugar, they are telling the truth, just not the whole truth. There are a lot of devious people out there and they’re not all politicians. Had lunch at Morrisons because they do a lovely roll ’n’ link sausage, plus, Scamp likes their bowl of chips. Back in the car and through the rain once again to arrive back home with not one photo taken.

I’d been watching the progress of a couple of cameras on MPB and WEX, both second-hand sites. Today I made the decision which one to buy and will report back on it after it arrives from the DPD man tomorrow sometime. In case you’re interested, it’s an Olympus E-M1. Please don’t moan about ANOTHER new camera. It’s about five or six years old and originally cost over £1,000. I’m not paying anything like that. Also, it’s over three years since I bought the last Oly.

Started a sketch of a motorbike, today’s topic. An MZ TS 150, the bike I used to own. It was a bit rough, but a reasonable record of the bike. Then I got a bit frantic and dived outside to grab a couple of shots of our Schoolgirl rose in the rain. I’ve just posted it on Flickr and it will be interesting to see how many hopefuls I can trap with the title Schoolgirl In The Rain! It usually works well. It would be fun to see their sad little faces!

Just so you know Hazy, I got an email from A Small Orange this morning asking me to pay $89 for an overdue bill. That’s the bill for the webspace contract I terminated in April and have confirmation that it’s been terminated. I also managed to log back in to ASO and found that my invoice there has been cancelled. Wrote them a nasty email.

I was making Crab Spaghetti for dinner tonight when the ring pull on the tub of white crab meat broke and left me with a plastic tub, metal lid and no way of opening it. Tin opener wouldn’t work on the thin rim. Eventually used my favourite tool, Molegrips to wrench the lid off. Took some photos of the carnage and another nasty email will be on its way tonight.

Schoolgirl eventually became today’s PoD, then after dinner when the swearing about that crab tub had subsided, I painted the proper MZ picture. Great bike. Just really a commuter bike. A two stroke that made a terrible racket and drank oil like it was going out of fashion, but a dream to ride with its flat ‘Vinny’ bars. So called because of its design being based on the legendary Vincent motorcycles. Had to sell it round about 1980 to buy a Reliant Regal 3/30 three wheeler. Tomorrow is the last day of the challenge and, would you believe it, the topic is A Crab. Maybe I should just draw the tub with the half ripped off lid.

Tomorrow we may go to the Sagra Italia event in Glasgow. It looks like being a very wet day, but Scamp thinks everything is under cover. If we decide not to go then we may go on Saturday. We’ve got (free) tickets for both days.

The day that the rains came – 29 May 2019

… and forgot to go away.

It wasn’t the best of days. Like I said at the top, the rains came and forgot to go away. I don’t suppose it mattered really as we weren’t intending to go anywhere except to Glasgow for dancing in the afternoon and then again in the evening. The furthest I was past the door was a quick trot round the block to achieve my 250 steps every hour. It was on one of those circuits I found the little Glass Bead Plant growing on the wall at the back of the house. Of course it was really a moss with raindrops clinging to the fruiting bodies, but some people will be avidly searching Google for Glass Bead Plants as I write this! It got PoD.

Drove in to Glasgow and ticked off another 250 odd steps on our walk down to Blackfriars for Jive, Quickstep and Cha-Cha. We made a few mistakes still, but not as many as last week, thankfully. It was almost a private lesson again as the class started out with three couples, then two were spirited away to learn the stuff that we already knew, that left us to the tender mercies of Michael. Worked on another part of the Over the Rainbow routine and then did some work on our Quickstep and in between we tackled the dreaded ‘off beat’ Cha-Cha. Totally drained, we went for coffee (no cake) and then drove home in the rain.

Scamp drove in to Glasgow tonight and we danced with the intermediate class and the beginners who are getting through the moves at quite a pace now. Thankfully the Tipsy Ladies were not in class tonight, so it was much more bearable than last week.

Today’s sketching topic was A Knife or a Sword. I suppose I could have found a sword somewhere in the town. Some areas of Cumbersheugh are awash with them on a Friday night … allegedly! However, I resisted that temptation and settled on drawing my old Swiss Army knife. It’s been sharpened so many times, the blade is a completely different shape from when it was new. It was my tool of choice for sharpening pencils. So much more efficient than a pencil sharpener. Unfortunately, the world has moved on and it’s now illegal to carry this useful tool.

Tomorrow looks like being much like today, weather wise, so I doubt if we’ll be going far.

No more sweeties

NHS, they take away your pleasures, one at a time.

Went to the docs to get the result of my blood test in my annual checkup. Everything was fine except my diabetic sugar result which was a bit high. I know it was my own fault for pandering to my sweet tooth, but now I’m paying the price. No more sweeties for the foreseeable future 🙁

After I had been given a gentle reminder by the nurse to keep a firm rein on my sugar and fat intake, I went home to find that Scamp had bought a ready-made curry for tonight’s dinner. One more curry won’t do any harm I told her. There was no way I was asking her to take it back! It was lovely, by the way.

I sat in the garden for a while and attempted today’s sketch which was “The house you are living in”. I prefer the back of the house to the front. There’s more privacy at the back and that’s where the most interesting and older plants are. That’s why I sat under the rowan tree and sketched it from there. I used a sort of wide angle exaggerated perspective. I was happy enough with the result and then went out for a walk along the Luggie Water.

Took a longer walk than normal. Right from the waterfall all the way along almost to Condorrat. Got a few landscapes and lots of flower pics. No beasties today though. PoD went to the three poppies – Red against Green. Strongest colour contrast in the box.

Tonight I redrew the house and gave it a few washes of watercolour, but I’m not happy with the result. Too twee and too full of fine details. Tomorrow it’s a knife or a sword. I have plenty of knives to sketch, but I’ll have to go down to Millcroft to get a sword!

Dancing tomorrow, hopefully and sketching a knife.

A Plan – 27 May 2019

Today’s plan was an attempt at better use of time.

I’m getting fed up with heading for bed after midnight. My aim is to use my time more efficiently. The month of May is a bit of a nightmare of my own making. Not only do I have to get the daily photo taken, processed and uploaded to the sluggish Flickr, and get the blog written and also uploaded. Now I have to devise a sketch, complete it and probably slap some paint on it too. It keeps my mind alert, certainly, but it’s playing merry hell with my sleep pattern. Today I’m trying a different tack.

This morning I planned out today’s sketch and the topic was Books. I drew a stack of books and it looked reasonable until I realised that Escher could have drawn it. However, nobody could have built it. The stack of books needed some helium balloons attached to help them achieve their perilous balancing act. That said, it was only a planning sketch and had pointed out the need to plan more carefully. The next sketch was better and it looked like the books would actually stack like that without falling down. It went on to phase 2 and had some colour added. Yes, with a touch of shadow detail it looked solid. It’s been photographed, processed and uploaded to FB.

After lunch and after solving he difficult weekend Sudoku, admittedly a day late, I went for a walk around St Mo’s to try for more insect (beastie) pictures. Managed to get a bit closer to the flies and am better pleased with the results. Photos are now processed and uploaded to Flickr. The management of Flickr are stating that the site is now stable. If this is stable, I’d hate to see unstable. It’s slow, pictures disappear without warning, comments disappear. The whole structure seems fragile at present and give very little confidence in its use. It may improve. We can but hope.

That was the extent of the day’s work apart from some pruning in the garden. Trying to get rid of aphid damage on the black currant bushes. One of the benefits of having a brown bin is that you can happily dispose of damaged plants in it. I didn’t want to put the damaged leaves in the compost because that would only spread the infection. Our composter doesn’t get hot enough to destroy pests like that.

Tomorrow I go for my annual checkup at the docs. In the afternoon we may take a trip to visit one of Scamp’s Gems in hospital.

That’s the blog completed. I just need to post it and I will be about two hours ahead of my usual time!