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No room in the Pool – 26 February 2018

I’ll go to the gym he said and he did, well, almost.

It’s a Monday and Mondays have to be planned properly for them to work properly. This morning I was going to do my drawing / painting for 28 Drawings Later. That would leave me time in the afternoon, when Gems are here, to go to the gym as I’d said I’d do. The painting took a little longer than anticipated and it wasn’t until the second version of it was drying that I took its picture and then proceeded to completely annihilate it. However I’ve learned from my mistakes and I did remember to take a photo of it first. This is it:

The Hills

It was an attempt at colour mixing using Carol Marine’s ideas from her book ‘Daily Painting’. As an instruction on colour mixing it was good, but the landscape did have that unfinished look about it. By the time it was finished, Gems had arrived and it was time for me to make a move.

Checked the bag first and there were a pair of trunks and also a pair of trainers in it. Got to the changing room and found that the only thing missing was a tee shirt. So, it was to be a swim rather than a gym workout today. No problem. Then I saw that the pool was full. I mean FULL. It’s a small pool and with six people in it, it’s a bit cramped. There were TEN folk in the pool. I think only six of them were actually swimming, the other four were being moving traffic islands just to give the swimmers something to navigate round. Worse than that, the jacuzzi was covered up, obviously under maintenance. So was the ice machine, although, what you need an ice machine for in Scotland in February, I don’t know. Finally the loose tiles at one of the steps into the pool hadn’t been repaired and the elegant barrier of a half submerged metal framed office chair was still there in the same place it’s been for the last two weeks. I’m beginning to think it’s an art ‘installation’. I really thing its time for whoever now owns the leisure centre to throw some money at it to get it back being usable. Heavens, they must be making enough from the ‘spa’ community who seem to inhabit the pool every day. So, managed four lengths of the pool sandwiched between two sessions in the steam room, then came home, put on headphones and completed the annihilation of the painting while Gems sung their little hearts out below.

The ‘not got a name yet’ move tonight at Salsa was interesting although you had to be a contortionist to get the final section completed. I’m not sure it will survive to next week. There were a lot of confused looks and there was a lot of shaking of heads during the class.

Today’s PoD was taken out of the kitchen window and has little to recommend it, other than the pastel colours in the background and the minimal DOF (Depth of Field). Google it.

Tomorrow we are due the first flurries of snow. Nothing that desperately needs done and nowhere special we need to be, so we can just sit and watch the flakes fall.

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Semi-Supermoon – 29 January 2018

Well, the day started out well with bright sunshine, but it soon deteriorated into the norm. Grey skies. Later in the afternoon it cleared up nicely.

For weeks now I’ve been meaning to put the Christmas decorations up into the loft. Today I did it. Unfortunately, I made two discoveries.

  1. There’s a leak in the roof. I think it must have been a gradual process and occurred a week or so ago when all the snow was lying on it for some days. Need to get it looked at.
  2. There’s a bloody big spider in a beer bin I’ve got in the loft. It was easily as big as my hand. No, it was definitely bigger. In fact it was walking about in the loft with the beer bin on its head as a hat. Nah, it was big, but not enormous. I let it be.

Right, one problem solve and another created. We’ll need to get someone to look at the roof, specifically the ridge tiles, because that’s where the water I coming in, probably at the joints. With all the wild weather we’ve been having, I bet the roofers will be busy just now.

Went for a walk down the Luggie today to take my mind of giant spiders and leaking roofs. Got a couple of nice pictures of the moonrise above the pines. The bit thing just now is the Blue Blood Supermoon due to be seen across America on Wednesday night. A Blue moon is when there are two full moons in a month
A Blood moon is something to do with an lunar eclipse when the moon is at its nearest point.
So what I saw wasn’t a supermoon, it was a semi-supermoon! Still looked good.

Salsa tonight was a house full in both classes. Monkey has been re-worked again and emasculated even more until it’s no fun to dance at all. The new one from last week has been forgotten by the looks of things and we reprised La Cuadra but Jamie couldn’t remember the ending. A tiring night and not a very successful one. Maybe it was just me.

Tomorrow I think we may go in to Glasgow for a wander.

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Into the teeth of a gale – 28 January 2018

This morning, after a call from Hazy, we drove down to Glasgow Green for a walk and a chance to blow the cobwebs away. The wind was rising, so there was a good chance that something would blow away.

We walked down to the west end of the park, turned and had the wind on our back as we took the path beside the river which was a dirty brown colour and with more than its usual shared of tree trunks, branches and dead crocodiles floating in it. When we got to the boathouse, we were surprised to find loads of ‘oary boats’ sitting outside it, all shined up and sparkling in the well filtered sunlight. There were also a lot more cars than usual beside the building. Surely they weren’t going to have a race today down river into the teeth of a gale and all the while trying to avoid the obstacles in their path. While I was photographing the boats, Scamp was earwigging and heard that the start was to be at 1.30pm. We walked up to the suspension bridge and noticed that the Humane Society safety boats were out on the river and a few crews were practising. It looked like they were going to go racing today.

We decided that we’d go and have lunch in the Wintergarden and then perhaps, just perhaps, we’d come down and see if there were any of the silly buggers paddling down the murky waters of the Clyde. While we were waiting for our lunch (soup for Scamp, roll ‘n’ sausage for me) to arrive, I did a wee sketch. Facebook’s ’28 Drawings Later’ is just around the corner, so it’s time to get the psychomotor skills honed. It’s not brilliant, but it’s done.

With lunch done and dusted, we decided to go watch the nutters. There was quite a crowd on the bridge and Scamp engaged the bored looking man with the clipboard who told her that while we’d been stuffing our faces, the Division 1 race had gone down the river and that the Division 2 race was about to start. We waited and were soon treated to a quarter or an hour or so’s of races. Some looked fit as fleas, some looked like they just wanted it to be over so they could stand under a hot shower for a while. I got some photos. I’d previously been shooting the water cascading over the tidal weir at the end of the course and the camera was set to shutter priority with a slow speed set. (Sorry JIC that was <Technospeak>. There will be no more. ) I thought I’d just wasted two shots, but when I had a look at them they were interesting in an abstract way. Set the camera back to a sensible arrangement and went on shooting, but halfway through, got fed up and went back to ’interesting in an abstract way’ settings.  (It was one of those that got PoD – Bottom Right.) After the last pair had pulled themselves exhaustedly under the suspension bridge the crowds began to drift away to commiserate or congratulate their individual champions. Only the man with the clipboard was left, waiting for Division 3 to make their appearance. Having nobody to congratulate or commiserate with, we went home.

My marinade worked quite well. Too much olive oil and not enough herbs. Plus, the dinosaur bone really needs to be slow cooked. The ‘sear then bash into the oven for an hour’ technique didn’t quite cut it. I have another plan, and another dinosaur bone too. I’m ready to try again.

Tonight the wind got even windier and I was glad we were parked up early, although one of the trees outside was making some dangerous sounding creaky noises. It’s still blowing a gale now.

Tomorrow, it definitely depends on the weather, but no Gems! Hooray!

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Out for a Spin – 26 January 2018

Today we went to the seaside.

We had decided that if the weather was kind to us we’d go out west and head for Troon. We walked in blinding sunshine along the beach for a mile or so with all the dog walkers and their assorted dogs. The sea was well out today, the tide must have been at its lowest point. Although the sun was low and very bright, it was cold but for once there was no wind. I think Scamp would have walked further, but I called a halt after about an hour and we turned and made our way back the same way we’d come. Scamp said it was just like being on the treadmill at the gym. I think that’s the wrong way round. Surely the gym imitates life, not the other way round. Anyway, I’ve still to see this marvellous video attraction. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to try it out next week and not have to tap the sand out of my trainers afterwards.

Lunch was in Scotts which is becoming a firm favourite. Every time we go there it’s like being in the Crews Inn at Chaguaramas in Trinidad. The temperature is a bit different and the distant scenery is too, but the boats in the marina and the general layout of the place remind us both of a wonderful lunch and the most alcoholic sangria I’ve ever tasted. No alcohol today because I was driving, but Erdinger’s Alcohol Free ‘beer’ is now top of the list for a beer flavoured drink. Food was Chicken Stroganoff followed by Seasonal Fruit Crumble for Scamp and a Beef Burger followed by Key Lime Pie for me. The whole thing rounded off with coffee and the shortest shortbread I’ve had in a long time. Lovely! Service could have been a bit quicker, but otherwise it was excellent. We both agreed it was a great day out at the seaside.

PoD was the red boat passing Arran, although it was a tough call between that and the people silhouetted on the beach. The bottle was just a fun grab shot for a Flickr group called One Bottle.

Tonight we made the decision and we are going on a cruise in the summer. Not a balcony cabin, but an Ocean View. Next best thing. Booked and deposit paid.

Tomorrow? It looks like rain, so we may be going more local than today. It all depends on the weather. How many times do I end a blog with that?

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Back on the Shelf – 25 January 2018

I got a pair of shoes in the Clarks sale last week. They looked good, they fitted me, I should have known something was wrong.

Scamp was going for a gym induction today at 2pm. The morning was free, so we decided to go to Stirling and return the shoes that looked good, fitted, but offered less support than an old pair of slippers (I don’t wear slippers – I’m not that old). Scamp had to accompany me because the shoes were bought on her card. It felt a bit like being taken to the shops by your mum, except I drove! She got the money back on her card and I went for a browse in Waterstones, but didn’t see anything that interested me. Had a coffee, stocked up on things we didn’t really need at Waitrose as we passed and drove home.

As I said, Scamp had an appointment at the gym at 2pm and as none of my coffee fiends were coming out to play today, it gave me a chance to tidy up some of my rubbish from the living room and dump it upstairs. My next painting project is going to be a self portrait. I’ve tried doing it by looking into the mirror, but why do that when I can take a photo and print it out, pin it to the easel and work from that. It worked with the painting below so perhaps it will work with me too. You’ll find out when I have finished, whenever that may be.

After taking my selfies I gathered up my Olys and took them for a walk down along the Luggie Water. There was a fair bit of water coming down today probably fuelled by the last two days rain and also the snow melt. I’d missed most of the good light, but I did get a couple of images I was pleased with in the 24 shots I took. I’m being a bit more cautious with shots now. I still take a lot, but don’t keep them all.

Today’s PoD was the monochrome pic of the concrete bridge arches.

Scamp found the gym induction quite interesting. I didn’t know that on the treadmill you could get a little animation of you walking along a beach. A bit twee, but worth a laugh. Better than just seeing the time clicking away. Must play with that next time.

Tomorrow seems set to be a bit brighter and better, if not warmer. We may go for a spin.


My Workflow

  1. The first thing I do after I’ve downloaded the photos from the card is go full screen and select shots that have some potential. In Lightroom they get a yellow flag. (Only that selection makes it through at the end of the month. The unflagged get deleted.)
  2. After the initial selection I go through the yellow flagged shots and work on them to see if there are any that will make it to PoD. Potential PoDs are given a red flag. Any yellows that aren’t so good after all have their yellow flag removed and will meet the fate of the other unflagged ones at the end of the month.
  3. With the red flagged images selected, I pick the best one (It’s usually a foregone conclusion) and give it five stars. That’s PoD. All reds get uploaded to Flickr. Five star shot goes into the 365 album and the remainder go in the Nearly a 365 album.
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All Gone – 23 January 2018

The last of the snow had disappeared overnight. We were back to grey skies and rain.

In the afternoon Scamp drove us to the gym. She was eager to use her new gym card, but the computer was not feeling well so she couldn’t log in. As one of the regulars said “Every week there’s something else broken in here”. Did my usual rounds of the torture machines and added in an extra five minutes on the cross trainer. It was supposed to be ten minutes, but I considered I’d been cross trained enough in those five minutes. After the gym I went for a leisurely swim interspersed with ten minutes in the sauna and ten minutes in the steam room. Scamp was so impressed with her new card that she booked another afternoon of torture (with an instructor) for later in the week. I think I’ll just stay un-instructed and just keep well away from the cross trainer. Maybe it was having a bad day and was a really cross trainer today, who knows.

After we got back and after undoing all that good work with two rolls ’n’ sausage, the sun broke through the clouds, so I grabbed the Olys and went for a walk over St Mo’s. With the snow all washed down the hills, the water in the pond was a lot higher than normal and so was the water coming out the overflow. That’s where I got my PoD. It’s a slow shutters speed shot of the wee burn in spate. Quite impressed with it after about six attempts at different shutter speeds. This one was 1/8th sec.

Did a wee bit more painting of trees before dinner (risotto with peas and prawns, since you asked) in the style of Paul Bailey.  Google him.  I like his style.  Very rough, not a lot of detail.  Scamp isn’t impressed.

Sitting watching my old Nexus 7 rebuild itself after a full factory reset as I type this. Sometimes it’s the only way to get them working properly again.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Hopefully Jive and Ballroom in the afternoon and then Salsa at night.

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No Swimming – 14 January 2018

After a late start today, Scamp decided it was time to start dusting the shelves, wardrobe and anything else that didn’t move. This gave me the incentive to move.

I drove down to Auchinstarry and noticed right away that the ‘Cooncil’ had put up a new notice by the flooded quarry. It read “No Swimming”. Maybe they were just trying to get in ahead of the rush of folk ready to be first to swim across the murky waters of the quarry and whatever lies beneath its oily skin. However it’s January. The water still has ice floes on it and it’s rumoured polar bears have been seen on one of its islands. I haven’t seen anyone stripping off and going for a mid-winter dip in the inviting waters, but I’m sure if they were determined to face the host of infections lurking in the depths, a ‘Cooncil’ notice wouldn’t dissuade them. Possibly a Health ’n’ Safety audit was the reason or maybe someone with too much time on their hands had committed a Risk Assessment to paper. Maybe as the end of the financial year approaches, they just had to spend their available money or risk losing it next year. Whatever it was, I’m sure the inhabitants of Kilsyth and District will completely ignore it, as did the swans and the mallards.

As I walked over the bridge over the Kelvin, I grabbed a shot of the moss growing in the cracks and that became my PoD. It looked like two wee green hills with alien trees growing on them. There wouldn’t be much else to test my photographic skills for the rest of the walk. I was walking into a western wind and it was much colder than the 7ºc that had been the reading on the thermometer in the car. I was quite glad when I put my back to it on the walk back to the car park. I’d managed to get a couple of pics of a duck on the canal. I couldn’t remember if it was a Goosander or a Merganser, but tonight the Internet provided the answer. It was a female Goosander. It was a grainy one too at 7200 ISO! The day was getting darker, the further I walked.

Dinner tonight was the remains of Thursday’s mince pie and if anything, it had improved by resting in the fridge for a few days.

A surprisingly good program on TV tonight was an interview with Mrs McQueen, telling about her coronation and explaining that when she was wearing the crown she couldn’t look down because she thought she’d break her neck trying to raise her head again. Not surprising when you realise that the crown weighs 5lb. That’s the equivalent of two and a half bags of sugar! Just imagine carrying that around on your head. Really excellent program that didn’t condescend, just gave you an insight into the pomp and circumstance of these royal occasions that we plebs will never get to take part in. Scariest bit was when she smiled. Can’t remember seeing her smile before.

Tomorrow is Monday so it’s Avoid The Gems Day. Gym ’n’ Swim probably.

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The trio becomes a quartet – 12 January 2018

Coffee with Fred and Val became Coffee with Fred, Val and Colin today. Apart from that, nothing much changed. We still drank the same miserable Costa brown water and we still discussed politics, books, music, old friends and old enemies. It’s a no-politics and a no-religion area, but all other topics are fair game. Colin provided some reminders of folk we’d forgotten, both pupils and teachers. He seemed to fit in well. He even offered to buy the coffees next time. We’ll let him join the UBI. I look forward to his input next time.

Other than that, it was a fairly dull day that brightened up a bit in the late afternoon, but stayed cold. I stopped off at St Mo’s on the way home to get some photos. You can see the result at the top of the page. It’s not much, but I was impressed with the way the ‘Teazer’ handled the sun in the frame without too much flare. There is some, but most of it was painted away in Lightroom.

Highlight of the day was mince pie. Not mincemeat pie, although it was minced meat that was in the pie. No, this was a savoury pie. Scamp tried to show me how to make it last year, but she is so much better at it than me. It’s good hot, but so much better served cold. A bit like revenge, allegedly. However, cold mince pie now gives me heartburn. It’s almost worth the pain.

That about sums up today. Maybe going on the postponed visit to Perf tomorrow. As always, it all depends on the weather.

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Fog – 11 January 2018

We had considered two options for today. Go to Perth or go to lunch. Lunch won.

It was foggy when I woke around 5.15 this morning. I went back to bed and when I finally broke the bounds of sleep the fog had gone. However, about half an hour later it started to sneak back around us again. We decided to go to lunch and defer the Perth trip until the weekend.

We went to the Cotton House in Longcroft and saw almost no fog, in fact there was blue sky up there. The Cotton House a Chinese and Thai restaurant and we always have the same main: Chicken Chow Mein. It’s only our starters that change.

After lunch we drove in to Dunipace and then up the Carron Valley road then over on to the Tak Ma Doon road and just had to stop because although there had been no fog all the way on the climb to the hilltop, there in front of us was a sea of fog stretching right across the valley. It was thickest over Glasgow to the right (west) and thinned out over to Grangemouth and the Forth Bridges on the left (east). This had to be PoD. I got about twenty shots of the scene before we drove down the other side and into that sea of fog. The view from the top of the hill reminded me of the fog we saw from the top of Box Hill when we were visiting H&N away back in 2007!!! Can it really be that long ago? The EXIF data rarely lies.

When I started to process the shots, that’s when the work really started. Contrast was very low and it took me quite some time to tease out the details in the images without increasing the digital noise too much. You can see the three best images above. Final decision was that bottom left was PoD.

One last thing before I close and it’s for you JIC. Have a look at this shot I saw on Flickr tonight (I don’t think it will mean much to you Hazy):

Outside Newton Stewart

If you click on it you can read the description and my comment and it will all become clear. That should take you back about forty years! It did for me.

Tomorrow it’s coffee with Val, Fred and Colin. Looking forward to it.

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The highlight of the day – 4 January 2018

The highlight of today was taking the cardboard boxes and the bottles to the recycling centre. Yes, it was that sort of day.

In the morning I made that drive to the recycling centre. It would have been easier if we had been supplied with a green bin (for glass) back in October when we were promised it, but we weren’t, so we had to load the car up and drive there. Everyone else was there too, but I had a smashing time dropping bottles into the big containers and listening to the crashing sounds they made.

After that, and after deciding what we’d have for dinner, we had lunch. Then we went to Tesco. Scamp drove and we filled the car with all the stuff we needed for the next few days, mainly food. When we got back I found some stew in the freezer and set it to defrost while I grabbed a last hour of daylight in St Mo’s. That’s where I got today’s PoD which is an ultra wide-angle view of the pond and the boardwalk. It’s just an ordinary pond, but the ultra-wide makes it look like something special I think.

All the time we’d been checking on H&N’s second leg of their journey home. They were leaving the relative calm of the midlands and heading for the stormy zone around London, but we soon got the message that they were home and the cats had been collected and they too were home.

Dinner for me was stewed steak with potatoes, turnip and carrots. Substitute haggis for stewed steak and you have Scamp’s dinner. My thanks to Scamp for the clear and concise instruction on how to cook the stew without burning but with added flavour. Next time I’ll try to fly solo.

So, the highlight of the day really was smashing the bottles in the recycling bin. A close second was finding that the stew was beautifully tender and tasty. It was also good to know that H&N arrived home safely.

Tomorrow we may go to the gym or to the pool for a swim. Also, the other pair leave Tobago and the sun to face the long flight home. Glad you got a few dry, windy, sunny days after all that rain.