MOT, Perth and Sourdough Friends – 1 May 2018

April wasn’t the only month of early rises. We were up and out early today too.

Scamp’s wee red car was going to the car doctor for its annual checkup today. After we dropped it off, we came home to have breakfast and decide what to do with our free day. We settled on a visit to Perth to get some coffee and tea for me. The drive up north was without event and we got parked easily in the town car park. That’s one of the advantages of going midweek, the parking is so much easier. Walked in to town in the sunshine, but with a chilly wind at our back.

After a Nero coffee to sustain us, we went our separate ways for a while. Scamp went to M&S and I went book hunting. First stop was the Oxfam book shop where I usually find an art book or two. Today it was just the one. A book on watercolour. While I was in the shop my phone buzzed. Thinking it was the garage about the car, I answered. The lady on the other end told that according to their records I’d had an accident and I wasn’t at fault. Was that correct? I told her yes that was correct, but I had been killed in the accident. This seemed to be off her script and she asked me to repeat it. I told her I had been killed and I was now dead. I then told her it was my ghost she was talking to. She then got back on the script and I cut the connection. I realise now I should have gone “Woooooo!” Before I hung up. The woman at the till in the shop gave me a strange look and I explained it was simply an ambulance chaser and I liked to have a little play with them before I hung up. The last time I had the same scripted question from an ambulance chaser, my reply was “No, I was completely to blame, that’s why I’m in prison now. Please don’t call me on this number again I only use it to order my drugs.” The woman behind the till laughed and said “Good for you. I must try that some time.”

From the cheap bookshop I went to the expensive one, Waterstones. There was a reading group just breaking up when I went in and they were sitting right in front of the painting books. I did manage to inveigle my way in to get a look at a couple of the books, but then earwigged a conversation about Sourdough. It was when the woman said “… so when I come down the stairs in the morning I look in the jar [of starter} and say ‘how’s may little babies this morning’”. That’s when I knew she was genuine. I told her I’d baked my first successful sourdough loaf yesterday, but that it was almost completely scoffed by Scamp and me. She was really interested and asked how old my ‘babies’ were and I told her they were just over 14 days old and growing stronger each day. I think she was gratified that other ‘ordinary’ folk took up the cudgels of sourdough baking. I wished her luck with her first loaf and went out to find Scamp.

We went and bought loads of coffee and tea, but on the way Eagle Eyed Scamp saw a sale in a sports shop with some natty looking trainers in the window at a knock down price. She just can’t pass on a bargain, so it was with a shoebox in the bag that we walked down to the coffee shop.

Got to the car park and the phone rang. From the garage this time, to say the car had passed and was ready to collect. Perfect timing. When we were driving out of the car park, there was nobody in the cabin and the notice said that as there was nobody to take the fare, please leave the car park smartly. We didn’t need a second bidding. £3 saved is £3 off the price of Scamp’s smart new trainers.

Lunch in Morrison’s cafe and then back south with the weather worsening with every mile. It rained almost half the way home. Not heavy, just there and no more. Dropped Scamp off to pick up the car and came home.

I’d taken one photo today and I didn’t think it was very interesting but after processing it, it looked not too bad. It was a mosaic in the Main Street of Perth. I don’t remember seeing it before. We rarely look down. We rarely look up. We walk with our eyes open, but we don’t SEE what’s around us. We’re too busy making up to-do lists and worrying about inconsequential things we can’t change. We should be more mindful. Today’s PoD isn’t the mosaic, but it is on Flickr. Today’s PoD is the Weeman. It’s been in my head for about a week now!

Tomorrow is dancing in the afternoon, but for the reasons outlined yesterday, we will forego the pleasure of salsa at night.

Perf – 13 January 2018

Today we went to the fair city of Perth.

Up and out early so we made the most of this dull day. I was going to Perf for coffee and lunch, in that order. I also got a pair of shoes, but that was purely accidental, and also pure luck.

Last week we went dancing in Arta and the floor was like an ice rink. Everyone agreed it was slippery. Today I noticed it again when I was walking through the St John’s shopping centre in Perf. At first I thought it was just me, but then I noticed that the security guards were slipping on the tiles too. Why do architects insist on style over function? Yes, they look pretty in all their pastel colours. Yes they shine nicely in the sunshine. No they are not safe when you’re walking on them. Hmm. Maybe if one of the architects had worn shoes like mine with almost no grip in the soles, or like the leather soled shoes the security guard was wearing, then they might have rethought the use of shiny tiles for the flooring of the shopping centre. Right, I’ll stop grumping now. Anyway, I walked into Clarks and found a pair of size 7 ‘H’ width brown shoes that actually fitted, and in the sale too! I think it was because I said to Scamp before I went in that: “I never find a pair of shoes that I like and that fit me in the sale.” Maybe I did today. Only time and a fair amount of wearing them in the house will decide.

Went to the coffee shop and got, you guessed it, coffee (and tea). In fact, quite a lot of coffee. I also found out how to order Cuban coffee beans online. Thanks for screwing up Obama’s good conciliation work there DT. (When I was a teenager, DT meant Delirium Tremens – a severe psychotic condition associated with chronic alcoholism. Now it stands for Donald Trump – a severe psychotic.)

Lunch was going to be in Howie’s restaurant, but the fact that it was closed “due to unforeseen circumstances” meant that we were forced to go the Café Tabou instead. “Oh dear what a shame”, I said!! Scamp had starter of Mussels and a main of Seared Tuna Steak (and what a steak it was!). I had Risotto with Smoked Mozzarella and Sun-dried Tomatoes and then Pan Fried Duck Breast with lots of stuff. Absolutely fantastic. Service was slow, but we didn’t care when the food arrived.

Wandered around Perf for a bit and then came home. We should have been going to a birthday bash for Johnny (Jesus) Batchelor in Ad Lib tonight, but decided not to go because it had been such a dull day we couldn’t be bothered going out again after getting back from Perf.

Today’s PoD was ‘flooers’, but not the usual shot. A bit of a macro and an abstract one at that. I quite like it.

Nothing planned for tomorrow, but I fancy a walk down the Green, probably not in my new shoes, not yet anyway.

Perf – 21 November 2017

Today we thought we’d go to Perf or to give it its proper name Perth.

Now we had to decide whether to:

  • Train (costs £20 have to chance getting a space in Croy station carpark and have to change trains at a cold platform in Stirling, going and coming.)

  • Bus (Free, but then we’ve got to wait in the cold at Castle Greyskull AKA Cumbersheugh town centre and there’s only one bus an hour back from Perf, except when you actually want to come home and then there’s none that hour. How do they know when I want to come home?)

  • Drive (Petrol costs, not very relaxing and the weather is going to be tricky, but we can come home when we want and it’s comfortable – no hanging about waiting for public transport.)

No contest, we’re driving.

We were just getting ready to go when the big yellow cooncil lorry arrived and two blokes carted the three seater settee away in it. Good, one down, one to go. The weather was just miserable leaving Cumbersheugh, but it gradually got worse as we climbed up the A9 towards Perth. On the high level parts of the road we were essentially in the clouds and it felt like it with poor visibility, although a few drivers of small builders’ lorries apparently had radar fitted which allowed them to see further ahead than most of us. The benefit of this is that they didn’t have to use lights at all. Brilliant. I must look into this innovation in driving safety.

Arrived in Perth and it was simply dreich and dismal. Coffee first, then a wander round the shops. For me that meant the Waterstones and Oxfam bookshops. Got a couple of books in the Oxfam shop, but everything in Waterstones was at Christmas prices, so no good deals there. Next we went to get coffee and tea, the main reason for going to Perth in the first place. Couldn’t decide where to go for lunch and finally settled on The George for Fish & Chips with breaded haddock instead of battered. That done we walked back to the car which was at the other end of the town and got a pleasant surprise. The ticket machine was out of order at the booth, so the bloke told us we would only be charged a quid instead of the four quid we expected. Result!

Drove back down the road in worsening conditions after a quick fruitless visit to Morrisons to see if they had any St Peter’s Plum Porter – they didn’t. It wasn’t really fruitless, we did get some Russet apples, so we got some fruit!

Managed a few photos with the Teazer. PoD was the statue in the main street in Perth with his trendy Christmas scarf.

Also managed a watercolour painting from a photo taken at The Smiddy on Saturday

Tomorrow we’ve got nothing planned. May or may not go to Salsa as it’s only one beginners class, but the likelihood is that we’ll go.

Perf – 16 June 2017

Drove to Perth today, mainly for coffee and tea for me, but also for a wee run.

Weather was fairly nice with warm temperatures and occasional sun. We were there fairly early, so we went for a walk down beside the river and on to the pedestrian path on the long, long railway bridge over the Tay and Moncreiff Island to the park and gardens on the far side. Beautifully laid out garden with lots of interesting plants and flowers. Also lots of not so interesting sculptures. Couldn’t make had nor tail of most of them, even with a description. Found a ford that takes you over to Moncreiff Island, but the water was too high today to attempt it, but a photo of it provided my PoD. The island itself seems to be basically a golf course with some allotments in the middle. According the the gazetteer it has a population of 3.

Saw some baby coots and moorhens in a lily pond, but it was mainly the plants that interested Scamp. Surprised to see some amaryllis flowering in the open air. Massive great thick stems on the plants. Crossed back over and went to a cafe for lunch. Somebody remind me not to have the cheese burger the next time we go. The burger was fine, but the cheese was determined to have a conversation with me all the way home.

Bought some dried fruit to try for breakfast. I’ve just finished boiling it to soften it and to make a syrup for it. A bit of a faff, but hopefully it’ll taste good tomorrow. Scamp fancied a pizza, so I made one while the fruit was steeping and it turned out very well.

Today’s sketch is a hotchpotch of different practise pieces. Some badly drawn figures and some better ones that were drawn blind. Not ‘eyes closed’ blind, drawn without looking at the paper, just staring really hard at your subject. The faces were from a book. I did try a sketch of Scamp working at the computer, but decided not to post it as it wasn’t very complementary. In fact it didn’t look like her at all.

Oh yes, almost forgot to mention Hazy.  The boxers had their first outing today and appear to have survived to tell the tale.  Ta!

Glasgow tomorrow.

Quart into a pint pot – 12 April 2017

Trying to cram too much into today.  I got up fairly early and drove to Perth to get some coffee (for JIC) and tea (Scamp was off into town to meet up with Annette).  Got the coffee and tea and also got myself a book.   Another book.  My final purchase was some mounting board to frame up a few of my masterpieces.  Oh, yes, and I finally handed in some books and DVDs to a charity shop.  See Hazy, I’m doing it, almost like the book says a little at a time.  “Start with your sock drawer”.

Perth was beautiful in the morning light.  Cold and windy, but clear blue sky.  It matched my new blue jacket, worn for the first time in public.  Like all things, it’s a compromise.  There are some things I like about it and some I’m not so sure about, but the labels have been cut off and it’s been worn now, so it’s a ‘keeper’.
The book I bought was about sketching, especially portraiture which is one of my big stumbling blocks at the moment.  I’m taking Fred’s advice and trying to build the face from the bone and muscle structure, because that makes sense.  Rules, it’s all about rules.  If you’re good, you can ignore them and just draw.  I need those supporting scaffolding lines.

Drove home, but unfortunately left the brilliant blue skies behind and gathered more cloud and showers as I drove south.  Went to B&Q to look for materials and prices for Scamp’s idea of duckboard to put some of the myriad of plant pots on.  Saw some decking that might provide the surface and some treated square timber that will be the support.  Meant to get some beetroot seeds to plant in the raised bed, oh yes, and some peas too.  See what I mean?  That’s what happens when you try to cram too much in.

Lunch was a grabbed roll ’n’ sausage and a cup of tea, before measuring the space in the back garden that the duckboard would have to go on and found that indeed one length of decking and one length of square support would provide one square plant support 800mm x 800mm.  Perfect.

Did a wee bit of painting and then Scamp sent me a text to say that she was on the way home.  Where did the afternoon go?

Went out to salsa tonight but met Colin in the carpark.  Oh no, It looked like Jamie wasn’t taking the class and it would be another of Colin’s “Slow – Quick – Quick” Salsa/Ballroom classes.  It was worse, it was a Cha-Cha class.  Some of the women weren’t too pleased.  I just grabbed my jacket and left.  The man needs to realise that salsa is totally different from cha-cha.  He’s a good teacher and very inventive, he’s simply on the wrong track these days.  We don’t want ballroom.  That’s not what we signed up for and that’s why the company is called Academia de SALSA.

Beautiful sky on the way home, but I didn’t have a camera, so this morning’s shot of a lane in Perth is my PoD.

In Training – 7 March 2017

It was Scamp’s idea.  We had booked lunch at Cafe Tabou in Perth.  How about, she said, How about getting the train instead of driving there?  It sounded like a good idea, a great idea.  I added to it.  Why don’t we get a taxi to the station?  You can never get parked on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.  Mondays and Fridays aren’t too bad.  So it was settled.  A day in Perth without driving and without the drudgery of travelling on the bus.

The journey was really good.  Taxi to the station, train to Stirling, quick connection to Perth.  Brilliant.  Visited my favourite second-hand bookshop and then a quick visit to Waterstones.  One of my favourite Scottish authors, James Oswald was there talking to a readers group.  I don’t do readers groups, neither do I read the ‘Questions to the author’ at the back of a good book.  If the author didn’t explain everything in his book, either he wanted it that way or else he wasn’t such a great writer after all.  Either way, questions aren’t going to provide the answers you want.  Went for coffee in Nero before we went for a walk through the park.  Then more coffee – beans this time in The Bean Shop.  Finally, it was lunch time.  Mine was Venison Stovies, then Saddle of Rabbit stuffed with Pork and Chorizo <Posh Word meaning Sausage> served with Roasted Root Vegetables and Sliced Potatoes washed down with a couple of glasses of Rose D’ Anjou.  Simply delicious.

After lunch I returned to Waterstones and used up my Christmas present from Scamp.  I turned out that James Oswald was promoting his new book so I decided to buy it, along with another two ‘real’ books.  Time to get used to books that don’t self illuminate or automatically remember your page or even provide a dictionary, but ‘real books’ are a great idea.  I think they’ll catch on.

The return journey was equally as good as the one this morning with nicely timed connections.  Even the wait for the taxi was minimal.  A great day out.

Today’s flower photos came from the park at Perth and the bottle pic?  It came from Cafe Nero’s window.  Like I said on my Flickr description, I wondered How?  I also wondered Who?  I finally wondered Why?

Tomorrow?  I think we might be getting in training properly as we return to the gym.

Perf – 17 January 2017

Today we went to Perf, Perth to you.  It was a really dull, dreary day when we left the Cumbernauld Cloud, but true to form, the weather brightened up about halfway to Stirling and from then on it was a lovely day.

Walked from the carpark to the coffee shop to start our visit in the time-honoured fashion and stopped at Clarks shoe shop to see if there were any bargains.  There were and a new pair of shoes and trainers were soon bagged and paid for.  I think the trainers may replace the ones I got last week.  Both are Goretex which I think is the bees knees as far as walking in Scotland is concerned, in fact all three new pieces of footwear are Goretex.  Coffee scoffed we wandered for a while around Perf and decided on an early lunch.  We went to a new (to us) cafe and I had a lamb burger (which I am suffering for now) topped with feta cheese.  Not sure it’s a great combination.  I get the link: Feta – cheese made from sheep’s milk and Lamb, but it just didn’t taste that good.  Maybe it’s just me.  Scamp had a chicken burger which seemed to go down well.  Coffee was on a par with Callander Coffee!

After lunch we split up Scamp went shopping for a bag and I went looking for books.  Didn’t find any, but I did pick up a lovely Dylan album in  the Bootleg series.  From the Philharmonic Hall in New York 1964.  An all acoustic set.  Brilliant.  Scamp didn’t find a bag – the search continues.   I also got today’s trilogy.  The girl in the mono shots was busking next to the the iconic street architecture in the main street of Perf.  Actually she was quite good and I really should have dropped some money in her guitar bag.  I liked the graphical nature of the the square window overseen by the security camera.

When we met up again, I went and got some coffee and tea and also dropped in at a fabric shop and bought some blue cotton with white spots to make another bow tie, a keeper this time I hope.  By the time we got on to the main street, the light was failing and it was time to drive home.  I felt quite sorry for the old church at the end of the main street.  I’ve photographed it a few times.  It used to provide great shots of pigeons sitting in the broken stained glass windows.  The last time we were in Perf there was scaffolding on it and I hoped it would be renovated, but today there was a security fence round it and the scaffolding was gone.  Soon, I think the church will be too.  Such a pity.

I finally managed to rip the Monty Python DVD tonight.  I used an old program that I’ve used in the past and also one that Hazy suggested, ‘Make MKV’.  It wouldn’t work on the Mac, I think it didn’t like the DVD player being connected by USB.  Maybe the information stream wasn’t quick enough.  However, when I used the PC laptop, MakeMKV got to work right away and after half an hour or so later I had the rip.  Unfortunately it was a 4Gb rip.  Compressing it into an MP4 file looks like it’s going to take a couple of hours, but that’s a job for tomorrow.

No plans for tomorrow yet, apart from converting from MKV to MP4.

Perf – 8 December 2016

8 Dec

Today we went to Perth.  We drove there this time.  I needed coffee, it seems like I always need coffee.  I’ve got the blending bug and am happy to mix and match my beans, sometimes coming up something that tastes better than the constituent parts … sometimes.

We’d booked a table at Cafe Tabou for 12.30 but because we were a bit late getting out this morning, we were running a bit behind schedule and didn’t have time for a coffee on arrival, but the other side of the coin was that we didn’t have as long to wait for lunch!  Speaking of lunch, it was:


Starter:  Mussels with smoked haddock and leek in a mustard sauce

Main:  Baked cod steak with leek and smoked salmon risotto with hazelnut butter


Starter:  Seasonal salad leaves with beef cheek, roast beetroot, giant cous cous, croutons and garlic dressing

Main:  Pan fried venison escalope served with braised red cabbage, potato gratin and bramble jus

Both were delicious.

The rest of the day was spent wandering round the shops.  Obviously for my core readers, the actual shops and shopping must remain redacted.

Driving home the sunset was building all the way.  I stopped off in my favourite place and got a load of shots, the best of which form today’s mosaic.

We had intended to go in to Glasgow tonight to dance at Barca, but after a long day in Perth, we decided not to bother.  Maybe next week.

Tomorrow we are expecting a day of rain, so I may go to wander the streets of Glasgow to source even more prezzies or I may just stay in and paint.

Just for a change – 28 November 2016


Just for a change today, I got the bus to Perth.  Now this may be a spoiler alert for Hazy, but I’m sure you expected I’d have to take the trip to Perth, didn’t you!

These CityLink buses are really comfortable.  Did you know they have heaters that work!  Isn’t that a simply wonderful innovation?  Typically one X3 bus in 100 has working heaters, and that’s the one you get every day in the summer and the heating is on full blast and the windows won’t open.  In the winter, it’s the one with the sign that says “SORRY NOT IN SERVICE” or more often in Scotland “A’HM NO WORKIN’”.  So, a comfortable journey north to the fair city of Perf.  It’s a bit like Embra which is also known by some of its inhabitants as Edinburgh.  Embra is its more usual and useable name.  Perf is much better than Perth IMO and MO is the only one that counts in this blog.  By the way, I once got an irate comment from an Edinburger on Flickr to the effect that: “It’s actually Edinburgh, not Embra, I know, I live there.”
My reply was: “That’s a shame, but I suppose somebody has to live in Embra, and it is Embra, hen.  It’s Embra, it’s always been Embra and it always will be Embra.  I know, because I’ve been there … once.  But it’s alright, I’ve had my jags.”  She didn’t reply to that – too many big words in it, I think.
Perf’s a nice place, I like it.  It’s pretty and has nice buildings, but the folk are not so stuck up as Embra folk.  It’s got a good coffee shop, an independent camera shop and a great second-hand bookshop too.

Anyway, purchases purchased I got the equally comfortable bus back down the road to less than scenic Cumbersheugh where they are painting the lovely butter coloured bricks of the town centre with a coat of ‘nearly black’.  Cooncil must have got a job lot of the paint going cheap.  I think it probably was originally black masonry paint, but they didn’t have enough to finish the job, so they got some equally cheap out-of-date emulsion for B&Q and just mixed it in to make the masonry paint go further.  That would explain the slightly purple tinge to the finished product.  If it looks boggin’ paint it black, that’ll fix it and make it look stylish into the bargain.  Aye Right.

Kizomba was a bit of a shambles tonight.  Class was a bit smaller with a lot of new faces.  Mainly black faces, so maybe friends of one of the teachers.  Also faces that were looking bemused most of the time because it appears this is the first time they had met this dance.  Methinks it might have been Rentamob, there to pad out the numbers.  ‘Left’ and ‘right’ seemed to be new concepts for some.  One girl had to be dragged away from her phone and on to the dance floor to help balance the numbers.  She was irate, because she didn’t know how to do the dance and didn’t want to learn.  Hmm, not impressed.

It also looked like our salsa teacher wasn’t present and no announcement was made about who would be taking his class. This gave us a bit of concern and made us wonder if it would be one of the, how should I put this, less able and teachers of AdS.  We needn’t have worried, Will took it and introduced us to a trio of twisty, turny moves that were a lot of fun.  The next class was not so lucky, but we were out the door by the time the music started.

Maybe going to do a painting tomorrow.  If I can remember how!

From the sublime to the ridiculous – 1 October 2016


Yesterday we had a lovely day.  Today we set out to go to Perth for tea and coffee.  Yes, I know it’s pretentious to go halfway across the country to get something as simple and everyday as tea or coffee – heavens, you can get them in Tesco.  Yes, you can, but I like the taste of loose tea and fresh ground coffee and am quite happy to be called pretentious, after all it’s my money that buys the coffee beans and the leaf tea.  My choice, my money, my caffeine fix.

When we got to Cumbersheugh bus station, I suggested that we take the bus to Dundee instead.  That turned out to be my undoing.  The trip was good on a comfortable bus, but Dundee should have a big sign saying “Under Construction”.  The entire waterfront area is a building site and a sight too.  I really hope the V&A gallery, museum, atrocity looks good when it’s finished, because it really is an eyesore that this city does not deserve.  The result was that we visited Braithwaites for the aforementioned tea and coffee and got the next bus south.  We’d intended going back to Perth, then Scamp suggested Stirling as there were a few more buses we could get from there to Castle Greyskull.  Mistake 2.  A mother and daughter got on at Perth and talked incessantly for the hour it took to get to Stirling.  When I say talked, I really mean shouted at each other.  If I hear one more time that they had a tape of Pete’s Dragon with Ewoks Adventure immediately afterwards, I’ll go insane.  That tape must have been talked about for about half the journey.  If people must hold a conversation, then let them keep it between themselves.

Unfortunately for the driver, they were going all the way to Glasgow.  Luckily for us we got off at Stirling.  We went for a coffee then parted company to spend some money.  Scamp wanted a new pair of shoes and I wanted a new pair of trainers.  We both achieved our stated goals and headed for the bus again the fourth of the day.  Scamp suggested we get the X39.  Mistake 3.  When I drive from Stirling to home, it usually takes less than 20 min.  This journey on a rattletrap rustbucket  bus took over an hour and a quarter.  We visited every possible village and town between Stirling and Cumbersheugh.

You see the the worst things about public transport are the public and the transport.  If you get less moronic public and real transport that was built this century then the journey will be much more pleasant and more normal folk will use it.

I’m driving tomorrow.

Weather was beautiful today and I’ll remember the Lego men made from hay bales, even if I couldn’t stop to photograph them.

Inktober 2016 - 1Almost forgot this is day one of Inktober 2016.  Must get more organised and spend a bit more time on the sketches.  Luckily the first official topic was “Fast” and this was a fast sketch.  Inktober is a great way to force yourself to put pen to paper in a graphical way.  Click on the image to view the full monsterpiece!  I wouldn’t have remembered if it wasn’t for reading the ‘A Year Ago Today’ link.  You have read it, haven’t you?  It’s at the bottom of the right hand column and is quite the little eye opener for me.