Happy Anniversary – 17 February 2019

Forty six years ago today, we made it legal.

Today started off dull, but brightened up as the day went on. It rained too, but not all day. One of those days with a little bit of everything. Rain, wind and sunshine. No snow thankfully.

In the afternoon Scamp got fed up with me mooching around the house and sent me off to St Mo’s to get some photos and to get out of her hair. The light was really nice and I managed to get today’s PoD and a few more. Really liked the light colour in this one and the sharpness. It’s called The Finger because it does look like a finger to me, at least. Managed to slip off a slimy log and fall into a burn. The just-cleaned jacket may recover with a wipe down, or it might be another trip to the washing machine for it.

Not a lot else to say about today. Spoke to JIC in the evening after dinner and caught up with their busy lives. Then I tackled today’s sketch in my new Paperchase sketch book. I think they must have re-formulated their paper in the books. It seems a lot more absorbent than the last one I had. The watercolour washes just appeared to soak into it. However, it’s done and on time.

Gems tomorrow with salsa planned for the evening.

Forty six years ago! Were did all that time go?

Out for a walk – 16 February 2019

Although today started out cloudy, the weather fairies said it would brighten up. It did.

We drove to Chatelherault for a walk among the trees. It was busy, but then it was Saturday and people like to get out and about on a Saturday. We chose a path we hadn’t been on before that would eventually take us down to the old Avon Bridge. It was a fairly easy path. Wide enough and interesting enough to keep us occupied for the 1.5km that was the advertised distance. At least it was until we reached the last 100m which was a steep slope downhill and what goes down must eventually go up. We stopped for a while on the old bridge to watch the river flow and the world go by, then we made our way back along the Avon until we came to the steps that would be the Up part we’d been expecting. It was good exercise, let’s leave it at that! From there it was a leisurely stroll back to the centre and the cafe.

I went to buy lunch and Scamp went to find a table. She found more than a table, she found Crawford and Nancy’s daughter with her own daughter Imogen. By the time I got the lunches and the coffees, Imogen had been whisked away by her dad to the baby changing room. Such things were never available in our day. Soon dad arrived with Imogen wearing nappies and nothing else. Apparently she had been soaked to the skin and they’d not brought a change of clothes. However her mum soon sorted things out and Scamp got to hold her for a while. I felt a bit like the Kevin Bridges character who has to talk to a baby and all he can think of is “Ye a’ right, mate?” I try to avoid talking to babies as they usually just start crying. Imogen didn’t cry, she just wanted to test the strength of the material in my sweatshirt. Apparently it passed the test, but wasn’t deemed good enough to eat … thankfully! When they left we had another coffee because Scamp had been too busy discussing things with Imogen to drink her last cup. After that we left. It’s an ok cafe, the coffee is drinkable, but the food is dire and the prices ridiculously high.

Came home and ordered takeaway from Golden Bowl. Usual for Scamp. Sweet & Sour Pork Balls for me. Fatty pork belly deep fried in batter and served with fried rice and sweet & sour sauce. Can’t be healthy because it tastes so good. Even reading those ingredients puts about a kilo on you and elevates your sugar and cholesterol levels to the warning flashing red area. It was lovely.

Today’s PoD is a fake photo of Chatelherault House. The house is ok, but the sky came from a totally different shot. It works though! Tonight’s sketch is of the big watercolour paint box. Done while listening and partly watching a program about how big a bastard Frank Williams of the Williams F1 team was. I never liked him, but I hadn’t realised just how nasty he was.

Tomorrow it’s due to rain, so I don’t know where we’re going, if anywhere.

Short back and sides – 11 February 2019

Nicky, the arborist, was coming today to give our rowan tree a short back and sides. He didn’t mess around.

He arrived just after 10am and got to work straight away. He trimmed all the low lying branches and then some of the higher ones that were easy to reach with his expensive Japanese draw saw (cuts on the back stroke, like most Japanese tools). The next thing I saw was him strapping himself into his climbing harness and throwing a climbing rope over one of the sturdy upper branches. After that, he was up, up and away cutting a swathe through the branches that overhung the garden. I think it was at this point that Scamp became nervous and began to wonder if going to hack too much away. However, like a half cut head of hair looks in the hairdresser’s mirror, you have to have faith in the expert wielding the scissors, or in this case, the Japanese saw. By the time it was finished, the tree looks a lot more open. Light will get through and so will the air. He assured us that the ‘wounds’ (his word) would heal quickly and encourage new growth. Like the new hairstyle, it will take a bit of getting used to, but in a few weeks it will look fine.

All that was left was the disposal of the cuttings. That was going to take a few bucket and bag loads, about half a dozen in fact and since I was going to the skips today anyway, it seemed a good opportunity to make good the fresh start. With that in mind, and after Nicky had left we set to with the loppers and chopped all the branches into manageable pieces, bagged them and I took them in the car along with the rubbish from yesterday to the skips. The world and his wife were there too, dumping rubbish. We really do live in a throw away culture. At least the tree cuttings could be chipped and composted. Not so the rubble and timber. That will probably go to landfill.

Best laugh of the day was when we were doing our final tidy of the garden. An old bloke was walking past on the path behind the garden when I turned to Scamp to ask if some old rotten wood was going to. He turned to me and said “Would you mind keeping your voice down. You nearly woke me there.” I looked and he smile, so I said in my sincere voice. “My apologies.” We both laughed and he walked on. Just a wee bit humour gets you through the day sometimes.

After I dumped today’s stuff in the skips, I took a drive over to Fannyside Moss and got today’s PoD. It was taken with the Samyang fisheye lens. Drove back via St Mo’s with some bread to feed the wildfowl, although the greedy gulls got most of it. I know you’re not supposed to feed them on bread, but they didn’t seem to get that memo.

There was sad news at Salsa tonight. Our dwindling class numbers have made it impossible to continue the 7.30 Advanced class which has been running for 10 years in the same time slot in a variety of venues. We have only four weeks left in it and then we may have to look at joining the 8.30 class on a Wednesday. It’s nowhere near as good a class and the 8.30 time isn’t ideal. We may have to look for pastures new.

Today’s sketch of the banana and lime was done while listening to Masterchef, but I painted it under the light of a daylight bulb in the painting room otherwise the grinding of my teeth at the inane comments of the ‘fat bastard’ Gregg Wallace would have upset Scamp.

Tomorrow Scamp is out to lunch and I may, just may take the bike out for its first run this year.

Rubbish, just rubbish – 10 February 2019

It started out today in the sox drawer then it expanded to the underwear drawer and before I could contain it, it had spread to a cupboard.

Tidying! It’s become our new religion. The sox drawer was too easy. It was needing what my mum would have called “a good red out”, and that’s what it got. I lost count of the number of calves strangling tight sox I threw out. I also got rid of some that were more holes than whole. I have to admit it looks a lot better after the changes. Now I may even be able to find boot sox, thin summer sox and just general purpose everyday sox. I was so pleased with my efforts, I started on the underwear drawer. It was a bit tougher, but I girded my loins and got to work. It now too is better organised.

The next one was the biggie. The towel cupboard is my hoarding cupboard. If I ever need a cable to connect my minidisk player to the PC laptop, I know I can get one in a box at the back of the towel cupboard. The towels, by the way, only take up about a shelf’s worth of space. My hoard, at least two shelves. The problem with finding the cable to connect anything to anything else is that I usually get side tracked into looking at something else in there that I’d forgotten I had and I have to check that out too. The usual upshot is that I find the cable, but only after an hour or so’s procrastination. Today that all changed. Half the cables and electronic junk in Scotland is now bulging out of one of the big blue IKEA bags, ready for the tip tomorrow. Of course, not everything went. I couldn’t bear to part with my coronation coach and horses. Even if the gold paint has chipped away to the bare white metal and some of the horses have a pronounced limp, because of missing legs, it’s still an heirloom and must go back in its rightful place. A lot of it has gone, though and another pile is ready for a charity shop. Even the subject of today’s PoD will eventually get the heave. It’s a Zenith LOMO camera, a relic of Soviet-era Leningrad. I think I may encourage Scamp to let it live a little longer with the towels. The biggest space-hog was my collection of lens and camera boxes, just on the off chance I might one day want to trade one of them in. These took up a ridiculous amount of space, but are now tightly packed into a bit plastic box, ready to meet the spiders in the loft the next time I’m up there.

One thing I found in the cupboard was a box crammed with colour slides. I’ve scanned about a quarter of them this afternoon after we finished and closed the door on the towels and the empty space that’s there now. Some lovely shots of the family from about 1975 onwards.

Today’s sketch started off as one whole egg and a couple of egg shells, but the paint wasn’t playing nice. I tried it twice and it just wasn’t working, so I added five more eggs, an egg box and removed the egg shells. I gave up on the paint too, because I was working with room lighting which is a lot closer to the orange end of the spectrum than daylight, so I chose to use pencil instead.  I really do have to get more organized and do my drawing and painting in the daytime instead of in the evening when I’ve only got room light.

Should have gone dancing tonight, but my waterworks said no and I listened to them.  We should be ok for tomorrow night for salsa.  Gems day tomorrow, so I’ll go and clog up the council dump with lots of lovely rubbish.

White Rabbits (x3) – 1 February 2019

Traditional welcome to the first day of the month. Today it wasn’t just the rabbits that were white. Everything was.

It all started out so nicely with frost on the cars and therefore no great incentive to go out, so we just read for a while and then had a coffee. After that we simply had to drag ourselves out to buy Tesco.

After lunch I decided to try my luck in the bogs again and this time I found the dry path and still got some photos! Impressed with the ability of the ice to hold the weight of the Oly 10, if not me! Also impressed with the Oly app on the iPhone that allows me to control the camera through a private WiFi connection. That’s how you get these low down shots like today’s PoD.

It was when I was walking back that the snow came on and it didn’t go off for about four hours. Now we don’t just have frost, we have snow too. Maybe the snow has done its work because the temperature is no 0.7ºc. Positive 0.7ºc!

That’s about it for today. I’m off now to get a sketch done for 28 Drawings Later on Facebook. If I have time I’ll even add it to the blog.

As Promised!

Tomorrow it all depends on the weather. I looks like the sky will be clear, but we’ll see!

Pasta Joke – 29 January 2019

Well, the predicted snow didn’t come to much. A few millimetres of manky grey sludge doesn’t constitute a snowfall.

I offered to do the shopping and returned with plain bread, milk and a dozen eggs. All will become clear.

I mixed two of the eggs with some special 00 flour that Scamp had bought last week and then kneaded the resulting mess for the required 10 minutes, wrapped it in cling film and let it cool its heels in the fridge for an hour or two, or three or five as it turned out.

We’d intended cleaning out a cupboard today, but it was a lovely bright cold day although the temperature was above zero because some of the snow was melting. Time enough to go out and get some photos and still get the cupboard cleared.

It’s never that simple. I found a few good places to shoot, mainly landscapes, but then I discovered the fruiting bodies of some moss on a few rocks. Yes, I know it doesn’t sound that interesting, but the light was so good, I had to take a few shots, quite a few shots. By the time I got back, we agreed that it was far too late to start on the cupboard, so we’re leaving it for another day, a less photogenic one. One of the moss shots made PoD.

I assembled my pasta machine and started rolling out the pasta dough from the fridge into decreasing thicknesses. It’s not nearly as easy as they show you in Masterchef. I think my dough was too wet and sticky. It seemed to want to cling to the rollers even after they had been dusted with flour. Eventually after a few tries, a lot of swearing and tantrums, we managed to make some spaghetti.

We cooked the spaghetti in boiling water just like the stuff you get in the deli at the supermarket, but it was a bit doughy and chewy. More practise needed and next time I’ll leave the dough to rest in the kitchen, not in the fridge. It’s a learning curve. However, I know this Italian bloke who might be able to show me how to cut a few corners! Tonight’s dinner was Spaghetti with olive oil for starter, then Minestrone soup and the main course was a haggis, neeps and tatties pie.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go out for dinner. 30th January.

A non-dancing day – 27 January 2019

I think after Friday and Saturday, we were well danced out.

Today we had a light breakfast at the hotel said our goodbyes to new and old friends, excluding Diane who was not in either of these sets and anyway, hadn’t surfaced by our 9.30am scraping of the car and driving home. Beautiful light and scenery as we took the Hamilton road home. Much quicker route, especially on a quiet, cold Sunday morning.

Just relaxed when we got home with a decent cup of coffee and solved today’s Sudoku while Scamp complained that there were pieces missing in her digital jigsaw. To clear this problem from her mind she went off to buy Tesco. After she got back, I grabbed my boots and went over to St Mo’s to get some photos. My favourite became PoD and is what you see above. It’s another Cladonia Pixie Cup with a bokeh background. Just out of focus shapes really, given a fancy Japanese name.

We had partly intended to go a Sunday Social at Mango tonight, but neither of us could be bothered and a little glass of Rhubarb & Ginger Gin followed by a glass of white from Michael’s hamper signed the fate of the evening. I’d be well over Nicola’s Abstemious Law, so couldn’t drive in to Glasgow, even if I wanted to.  Scamp made dinner and it was a belated Burns Supper i.e. Haggis, Neeps (mashed turnip) and Tatties (mashed potatoes).  Lovely wholesome food.

Spoke to Jamie later and heard about all the things happening down in his neck of the woods. Other than that, watched a bit of fluff on the TV and now I’m writing this record of a relaxing, non-dancing day.

Tomorrow I get my annual diabetic retinopathy test. Hope I don’t get drops in my eyes, but I’m getting the bus anyway!

Different Dances – 23 January 2019

It was cold this morning when we woke and that cold stayed all day.

Phoned the surgery to get the result of my blood test and it was fine. It was back to normal, but the doc had given me a course of penicillin to take to completely clear up the lingering UTI. Good result. Good start to the day.

Drove into town to go dancing and found out that we were doing a host of dances today. First we rattled through the seven spins of our jive routine. Then Michael started us on the Rumba which we hadn’t done since the Hamilton class years and years ago. After that we had an introduction to the Cha-Cha, which, again we had done before, mainly on sea days on a variety of cruises, but never in so much detail. Who knew your feet had to stay on the floor at all times? Finally we did a fairly representative waltz and a quickstep. Five dances in an hour. That’s not bad going. I think that’s us prepared for the workshops on Saturday in Strathaven, provided we can lay our hands on a pair of boilersuits.

Walking back from Blackfriars I looked along Hutcheson Street and saw the old Hutcheson’s Hospital lit up by the afternoon sun. It looked like a good subject and that’s why it became PoD. A fair bit of post processing in LR and ON1 2019 which meant the digital noise was a bit overpowering, but I managed to tone it down a bit in LR. Bought a couple of half pans of watercolour paint to beef up the Joan of Art painting box.

It tried to snow a bit as we were leaving Glasgow, but didn’t come to much. We weren’t sure if we were going to salsa tonight, but finally agreed that it would be fine. That was before the sleet and the snow on the M80 going in. Luckily again, it didn’t last and we arrived in fairly good time for Scamp to help out with the last half of the 6.30 class.

Moves in the 7.30 class were Astrella Complicada, Prado and Bayamo. Enjoyed the class although it was smaller than previous weeks.

Tomorrow I’m a Joiner for Shona fitting a lock to her bedroom door and then a Roadie for Scamp who’s got a gig for the Probus club. Not her favourite audience.

Out early – 17 January 2019

Not very early, just after 10am, but much earlier than usual

Scamp was off to see Isobel for coffee at 10am and I was up and out a few minutes later. Just a walk over to St Mo’s to see if there was anything worth taking the camera out of the bag for. I’d put some beeswax on to my old Lafuma boots which are about twenty years old now. Not the best boots in the world, but they’ve a Goretex lining and they’ve a decent sole, so they’re better than my Clarks boots, just as long as I remember to wax them.

I was just walking towards the woods when I saw the three deer I was hoping to photograph, running away. Oh well, hopefully there will be other things to photograph. Despite the blue skies and the ice on the ponds, there was nothing that fired my interest and I was walking back home when I saw the opportunity to take another low level shot by resting the camera on some thin ice. It’s a view I couldn’t get any other way. The Nikon was out of the question. Too heavy and wrong lens selection. It had to be the Teazer today and it performed quite well. I’d cleaned it last week by using the Dyson to suck some of the dust from the lens. I hadn’t believed this would work, but it did. Best of the shots is above after a fair bit of work in ON1 2019 and Lightroom.

Got home just before Scamp and then we went out to recce tomorrow’s venue for dinner with Margaret and Billy. Their treat, their choice of restaurant. They’d chosen John Carrigan’s in Blantyre. Now I know where Blantyre is and I know how to get there, but just in case, I punched the postcode into the satnav and blindly followed it. It was a strange route that eventually took us within 100m of my Auntie Mary’s house. The last time I was there was easily 45 years ago, but I still remembered the geography of the place. Really strange seeing the changes that had taken place. Even stranger was when the satnav said “turn left then immediately turn right”. That’s when I saw a pub that I used to pass on my way to work 50 years ago!! It looked exactly the same and I don’t think it had been painted since. Despite the strange route, the satnav did bring us exactly to the restaurant. I decided to follow my nose to find our way back home rather than take the twisty turny road we’d come. My route took almost the same time, but was much easier.

Back home, there was just enough time for a cup of tea before I was out again to the doc’s. The doc hadn’t been happy with my last blood test and wanted another one now that a month had elapsed since the previous one. Unfortunately, just before it was my turn, he was called away on an emergency. I hate waiting for the doctor or the dentist but I dare say emergencies happen and must take priority. I was dealt with fairly quickly and then was ‘lucky’ enough to get an appointment tomorrow. So, after a busy day today, I’m off to the health centre tomorrow for a blood test at 8.50am no less!! I don’t usually surface until 10am! What are these medical people thinking, getting a pensioner up at that time of the morning?

Well, if I’m up that early, I might as well take my camera with me and hopefully get some early morning shots of those deer before they have fully woken up.

Adding up the numbers – 15 January 2019

Highlight of the day was a visit to Falkirk.

First things first. Before we went our exciting trip, I fixed a dodgy wire on the plug that supplied electricity to the light in the loft and that allowed me to clear out some more junk. As a result, we had a place to store the Christmas decorations and that’s what we did. The decorations are now in their storage area and the spare room is a lot tidier.

Time to get ready to meet Andrew, the FA. Nothing to do with Football or Associations. Everything to do with numbers. The numbers were good. Some tweaks had been made and were explained, graphs were demystified and the bottom line was a very acceptable number. Andrew threw in his usual deliberate mispronunciations, today best one was Angela Meerkat, thrown into a serious discussion of global finances in such a deadpan way that you wondered “Did he really say that?”. It’s just one of his eccentricities, that and his shirts. Today’s flamboyant example was covered in large wine coloured roses. His prediction that the pound would rise tonight after the vote for/against Theresa May’s Brexit bill no matter what the result, has just been proven correct. An astute man with a wicked sense of humour. Always worth listening to.

A quick visit to Morrisons for essentials, but no strawberries and churros today. Real essentials, for a change. Then it was home. The headlights came on as we left Morrisons and it was just before 3pm. It was a dull, drizzly day, but the clouds were thinning as the light was disappearing. I decided to drop Scamp off and go for a quick drive down to Broadwood Loch to grab a shot or two. As it turned out it was nine shots, and the best one was what you see above. I liked the ball sitting on the great expanse of dirty concrete under a gloomy sky. The curved railings are due to the shot being taken with the Samyang fish eye lens.

When I got back, there was a message on the phone from Pest Control at NLC to check if we still had a problem and I told him we did have last night.  He then set out the steps the council would take with the council houses one either side of us and said that we would be advised what repairs needed done to our house.  No date was given for the examination, but I think sooner rather than later given the MSP’s email.  We’ll see.

So, Theresa has lost the vote by the biggest majority in history. Will it make any difference to the price of fish? Maybe, but we’ve got enough fish in the freezer to see us through for a week or two. Interesting times ahead.

Tomorrow we may be dancing in the afternoon if Michael is fit. He texted Scamp to say he has the flu. My heart goes out to him.