I walked into a door – 7 August 2018

Today, a Tuesday, we were going dancing.

So far we’ve had ballroom classes on a Wednesday, a Thursday and a Friday. Today we added a Tuesday to the list. The only weekday we haven’t had has been a Monday, not yet, anyway. Today saw a definite improvement. The Waltz was better and we were introduced to the mysterious Spin 7 in Jive. Even the Tango was getting better. All of this was a miracle in itself after the black monkey I brought to the basement of Blackfriars pub.

The reason was this. When we left the house, I was ducking down to avoid a low hanging branch of the chestnut tree we park under, and simultaneously opening the car door. I whacked my nose off the corner of the door and bells started ringing in my head. I ended up with two cuts to the side of my beak. To say the red mist descended would be an understatement. The sensible thing to do would have been to go back into the house, clean the cut and maybe put some ice on my beak to halt the progress of any bruising, but when have I done anything sensible? No, I drove off with a paper hankie in one hand, dabbing away the blood when there was an opportunity. Nothing can stop the desire to go dancing. Parked in silence and that silence continued all the way down through the streets to the the basement of the pub. We arrived just in time to start the class. I firmly believe that the black monkey only leaves you when it finds some other person who deserves its attention. Some poor soul left that place with the cares of the world on their shoulders, disguised as a black monkey. Me? I was in a much better mood and Scamp breathed a sigh of relief. I don’t think she believes in black monkeys and you have to believe in them, for them to cling to you. Some call them black dogs, but for me it’s always monkeys.

Coffee after the dancing to discuss what we’d learned today and what we need to improve. We’d had a few pointers from Michael. The most enlightening for us was the importance of ‘The Frame’ and ‘The Hold’. The Hold especially made so much difference to the difficult second part of the waltz. It’s sometimes the little tweaks that make the biggest difference. The other two couples didn’t bother to use what he taught us. One couple think they know it all. The other pair have just started learning to walk upright, so it meant nothing to them.

Got today’s PoD in that storeroom of photo opportunities, The GOMA. All human life is there, and a few other species too. I got another shot too. Another sketch on a junction box at the side of Candleriggs. I’ve seen one by the same artist before only a few meters from this new one. Impressive work in what looks like wax crayon or chinagraph pencil.

Home with a sore nose. I got a few strange looks, but if asked if I was alright, I had the answer off pat.

“I walked into a door!”

Dancing, portraiture and faces – 23 May 2018

Dull day that started to smile in the afternoon.

Dancing the waltz is difficult, but we thought we had it fairly well under control until Michael showed us the next set of moves today. I’m sure in a couple of weeks they too will seem like child’s play. Now they are just the next hurdle to be waltzed over. Jive was just as difficult as jive usually is. Now we’re on spin number 4 of 7. It gets more complicated, even the men have a turn to do now. I’ve pretty much sorted out spins 1 and 2, 3 is a bit tricky and 4 is just a shambles. Instead of leading, I’m following, but that’s not new. It’s what I do most of the time. Still, it was enjoyable.

Walking back to the car in the sun provided today’s PoD which is a sandstone carving of a lion at the corner of the old fruit market in Glasgow. I also took photos of the ‘green men’ above the doors of the building. I remember drawing one of them in ink wash many years ago. Lovely bits of stone mason’s craft.

Back home I struggled with what was really a simple task of importing the photos into ON1. It’s simple now that I know how to do it. It most certainly wasn’t easy at the time, with hidden bits of menu that really should be more easily accessible.

Dinner was chicken breast wrapped in bacon and pan fried with boiled Jersey Royals and corn on the cob. Really tasty, Scamp. Also on the food front, I chopped up some strawberries and soaked them in vodka. They’ll stay in the fridge for a few days to flavour our Strawberry Vodka and hopefully be drunk outside in the garden under the sun.

Portrait class tonight was a bit of a disaster. A bit like Spin 4 is just now, except we’re more or less left to our own devices. I floundered a lot, trying to work out how to adapt the Loomis method to the head of the young boy we were drawing. It seemed, always, to make his head too fat. I think I’m missing something here. Must watch the videos again. On the way to pick up Fred for the class, I had to do some Genghis Pathfinder stuff to avoid the closed off road at St Mo’s School where a lorry had shed its load of wood. Not the simplest of diversions and it occurred, of course, when the factories along the road were coming out, so everywhere was chok-a-block. Managed it though.

Tomorrow we’re out early(ish). Hopefully before 11am, but I’ll have to go out even earlier to get some (very expensive £1.26 /litre) petrol.

A cold day in the toon – 17 March 2018

Late getting up and moving this morning and there was just a hint of snow on the ground.

After last night, we decided to get the bus into Glasgow. Everybody else had decided that was the way to travel too. But the time we were coming out of Muirhead, the bus was full, especially full of weans. Scamp thought it was Dad Takes The Kids Out Day. I thought she was probably right.

Went to look for a holiday laptop in JL. Sorry JIC an Scamp, whizz on to the next paragraph.  Y’see the problem is I like using Lightroom 6 which will allow me to process the RAW files from all my cameras, but LR6 on a PC only works with Windows 64 bit. The little Linx tablet I use is great, but its version of Windows is 32 bit. For stress-free work, I need a small (11” ish) laptop that works in 64bit. I thought I’d found the ideal one in an HP Stream, but warning bells were ringing. I’d seen a lot of them for sale really cheap as refurbished models and although their spec mentioned that they used Windows 10 64bit, when I did some digging, I discovered that the big problem was that they only had 32GB of storage and now that Windows 10 automatically updates itself regularly, it fills up that 32GB really quickly with its update files. This slows the system down and even worse, the processor is a Celeron which is slow to begin with. Bah! Back to the start.

Ok, JIC and Scamp, you can take off the blindfold and the headphones and return to the blog.

After a coffee in Nero we walked down Bucky Street and along to Argyle Street. Scamp was going to M&S and I was going to Millers Art Shop I was looking for a new brush. Got one after paying more than I’d intended and Scamp added a few new holiday clothes to her Wishlist. We couldn’t decide were, or even if we were having lunch. It was so cold and there were flakes of snow blowing around and basically we had been out for an hour or so. The decision was made to just go home and order take-away tonight. Got to the bus station just as the bus started reversing, but the driver stopped and let us in. Thank you Mr Driver.

Back home we had a Golden Bowl dinner and watched TV before Scamp went to bed earlier than last night and I wrote up two days’ blog posts. PoD is called Behind Bars. It’s a shot of part of a panoramic painting on a building on Argyle Street through some scaffolding poles.

Tonight it’s snowing again. Hopefully it will be gone tomorrow afternoon and we’ll get to Sunday Social. If not we’ll stay at home.

Dancing and procrastination – 21 February 2018

Computers, especially when connected to the internet (are any computers not connected these days) are the ultimate procrastinator’s tool.

I sat down to write today’s blog almost 45 minutes ago.  In the intervening time I’ve read what Trump is up to this week, checked the status of my latest 28 Drawings Later sketch on FB, written an email to one of the coffee-drinkers, drunk a cup of tea and eaten two biscuits AND, only now started to write the blog.  The procrastinator’s delight.

Dancing today and for once I think I am making progress with the Waltz.  I even managed the rise ‘n’ fall for a while before it all went to pieces.  Jive was another story.  Not a good story.  I recited the words Knee, Step, Kick, Hitch, Back Step, but none of them were delivered quickly enough to my legs.  Maybe they should be connected to the internet. Maybe that would help.  No, it would just give me another excuse to procrastinate.  We couldn’t get in to the dance studio which is downstairs in a pub basement.  Two blokes were laying carpet on the newly screeded stairs, so we went for a walk until the contact adhesive they were using cured.  That’s when I found today’s photos.  Two pieces of graffiti and one ‘ghost sign’.  A ghost sign is an old sign that has been covered up for years and only recently been revealed again.  That or an old piece of signage that’s been painted on (usually) a brick wall.  That’s what today’s was.  It’s a bit of urban archeology.  Today’s PoD was the sketch of King Smiley.  Rough and ready, I was hoping it was a sketch that the artist would return to later to paint, but I think that is a bit unlikely.   We finally got down the part finished stairs to the dance studio where we did our version of the waltz and the jive then found we couldn’t get out again an hour later at the end of the class because they were laying a much bigger piece of flooring on the landing and there was no way of crossing the wet adhesive without getting firmly stuck.  We finally exited through the Fire Exit, although if H&S ever check that fire exit, the pub will be condemned with immediate effect.

Sketching

After we came home I sat down to doodle something for today’s entry and started sketching my foot, then my leg then me sketching my foot, then my …  Well, you get the idea.  I thought it was a clever idea and was pleased with the final drawing.

Salsa tonight was helping with two beginners classes.  I’m much happier helping with these classes, even Shannon’s class, than with Jamie’s grumpy Thursday class.

Tomorrow I think I’ll go in to Glasgow to get my hair cut and maybe get an outdoor sketch done.  Depends on the weather, and the state of the procrastination, of course.

 

A morning at the gee-gees – 2 February 2018

This morning broke early, too early say some, namely me.

The taxi phone didn’t ring until almost midnight last night. Apparently they were having such a good time … That meant that by the time I drove to the other side of town, picked up Scamp and Marge, dropped Marge off, returned home with Scamp and finally parked the car, it was almost 1am before I was staggering off to bed. So, when my Fitbit alarm vibrated on my wrist this morning at 8.30 it was a struggle to climb up through the layers of sleep to see the day. The up side was it was a beautiful day.

After breakfast, Scamp suggested we go to visit the Kelpies at Falkirk. That seemed like a great idea. It would get us out, give us a breath of fresh air and we wouldn’t visit any shops in the process. Besides which, the Kelpies always brighten your day no matter what mood you are in.

We arrived and walked round them, always finding something new. Some little thing or a different viewpoint. Today, my PoD was the dribbling Kelpie. Just a lamp standard on the motorway and a carefully chosen VP.

A cup of coffee and a scone each was lunch and then we drove home. Scamp was going out to meet ‘The Witches’ in the afternoon and I used that time to finish off my fourth painting of trees. Maybe the last one in the series, I’m all treed out now I think. Looking for new pastures. It was overpainted twice today and that’s on top of another two layers. One of the good things about corrugated cardboard is its strength. I put that strength to good use. If you’re looking for it, it’s here and it’s 28DL – No 2:

Four Trees

Dinner tonight was a pizza, home made and baked in the new combination microwave. Not ‘nuked’ but baked in the Convection oven. Just under 10 minutes then crisped up the base in the frying pan (no oil!). Washed down with a couple of glasses of Malbec. Hopefully getting this written earlier than normal to get to bed earlier and make up for lost sleep.

Tomorrow looks wet, so we may go to The Smiddy for lunch.

Dancin’, Dancin’, Dancin’ – 24 January 2018

Today we went in to Glasgow and learned more waltz steps in half an hour than we ever learned in all the Hamilton classes years ago. We’ve done Box Steps, Whisks and even Wings today.  I’m not saying we are perfect in our stepping, but the basics are there.  The jive class? Not so successful, but I managed to keep in time most of the time and you can’t expect much more than that from me, the Two Left Feet man. I think that’s what it is. I’m having problems getting my feet to move properly. Salsa is such a lazy dance for the leader. The footwork is very simple and most of the time, repetitive. In salsa it’s the hands that do most of the work. The feet just mark time and help you get out of the follower’s way. We’ll stick at the new stuff and hopefully with a bit more practise at home I’ll be able to coax these feet into doing what my head tells them to. I’ve got two weeks to get my act together because there is no class next week unfortunately.

After a coffee and a discussion on our thoughts of the class, then a walk round CassArt we went home to rest for a couple of hours before we were out again for salsa. Three dance types in one day. We had to drive through terrible traffic tonight which meant I was in an equally terrible mood, mainly because I’d noticed yesterday that Rangers were playing at home against Aberdeen. That meant the motorway would become a car park. I’d told Scamp that we really needed to leave early for tonight’s class, but we still left at our usual time and joined the car park near the Royal Infirmary. From there it was just a case of switching lanes to the fastest one and then switching back when it slowed down too. We did get to the west end about 15 minutes later than a normal night, but both of us were in a foul mood, each blaming the other. Salsa sorted that out and we came out with smiles on our faces.  We always do.

Today’s photos were taken walking back from the earlier dancing. PoD was the shot of the badminton murial (yes, I know it’s a mural, but I like to think of it as a ‘Murial’ – My blog, my rules!)

Tomorrow we’ll aim to be calmer. Scamp is going to get tuition on the machines of torture in the gym and I’m hoping to cover another piece of corrugated cardboard in paint (maybe oil paint this time). That’s after we retrieve our shiny new green and brown bins which should be getting emptied for the first time tomorrow.  Such excitement!

We went for a swim – 22 December 2017

The day dawned dull and wet, but no fog.

However, by about 11am the fog van had arrived and was dumping its grey load on Cumbersheugh. We sat discussing what to do, and it was me who suggested going for a swim. It turned out to be a great idea. There were two people in the jacuzzi and one woman swimming in the pool when we arrived. Unprecedented room in the pool. We were only going to the pool, because we weren’t feeling energetic enough to attempt the gym. We spent just over half an hour enjoying the freedom of the facilities before we headed for home and lunch.

After lunch I drove to B&Q to get some silicone to reseal the shower cabinet in the bathroom and to get some photos of the statue of Arria which stands above the M80 and at the back of the graveyard. It was getting dark by that time and I was surprised at the number of people out walking dogs in the grey gloaming.

Came home and noticed when I was getting the fish out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner (simple fish stew) that the meat I’d put in yesterday wasn’t frozen. I think I might not have closed the freezer door properly and so we had to set the machine to fast freeze just to make sure that everything was frozen properly. I think we’ve managed to catch it in time. It was mainly the meat in the upper compartment that was affected and most of it is either needing to be chucked out anyway, or it was only just put in. It’s still on fast freeze now and will remain at that setting until I go to bed.

The picture of Arria made PoD as there wasn’t much else to compete with it. Like yesterday, I’d hoped for more fog to give it that etherial quality, but by the time I got there, the fog had turned to rain.

Watched JIC and Sim’s flight cross the Atlantic and stop over in St Lucia and then carry on to Trinidad, all on Flight Radar 24. Amazing use of technology. Hope you pair enjoy the upgrade in temperature from our 10ºc to your 29ºc.

Tomorrow we may go to Glasgow and we may go to Embra or we may not go anywhere at all. It all depends on the weather.

The Glorious Twelfth – 12 July 2017

The weather was glorious today. Better than the forecast had promised. Now, I don’t often say that!

Scamp was out early to get her eyebrows done. I had intended getting mine done, but feared I’d be told “Hopeless cases not accepted.” When she came back we dithered about for a while before deciding that we’d go out for lunch. Somewhere nice, was Scamp’s request. She’d thought about going to South Queensferry, but I don’t think either of us fancied the long drive, so we settled for a slightly shorter drive to The Stables, just outside Kirkintilloch. The food is usually good and there’s also a pleasant wee walk along the canal. The Stables won.

Got parked easily and followed the path on to the towpath and along towards Bishopbriggs. Walked for about a mile or so and then came back the same way, avoiding cyclists be-helmeted and the others who live dangerously. They’re the ones who are immortal (so far).

Lunch for Scamp was her usual Fish ’n’ Chips and mine was Southern fried chicken on the bone. Both were deemed decent enough food. Scamp had a glass of wine and I had a Becks Blue. The first mouthful of the ‘beer’ was ok, but after that I sensed a chemical tinge to it that I didn’t like. However, you could almost convince yourself that you were drinking beer.

Came home and Scamp went to cut the grass while I almost managed a snooze.

Salsa tonight was a great laugh. With even numbers it was inevitable that we’d be doing rueda moves, and so it was. Great fun was had by all.

Today’s PoD is of a piece of artwork on the side of a barge on the canal. Saw this and thought of you Hazy!

Deteriorating weather conditions tomorrow, but at least we had a scorcher today. Scamp even had her sun cream on!

Driving Miss Daisy – 20 May 2017

Well, it should have been Scamp we were driving, but Driving Miss Scamp didn’t have the same ring. Then to be perjink about it, we’d have to say Driving Mrs Scamp and by that time the title doesn’t scan and we lose the whole joy of it. Soooo, Driving Miss Daisy it is. By the way, isn’t perjink a lovely word? It means neat or fastidious.

We drove to Stirling today to get a new jacket for Scamp. She had a 20% discount voucher burning a hole in her pocket, or her purse to be more perjink. Enough? Yes, enough.
We were driving just ahead of the bad weather, you could see it in the rear view mirror. As we walked in to Stirling town centre, the rain came on, but we managed to shelter in M&S. Unfortunately, they didn’t have Scamp’s jacket in the right size. I suggested we should go to Glasgow because there are two big M&S shops there.

As we were driving down the M80 the rain got heavier and heavier and then CITRAC lit up with a warning of congestion just a mile or so before the M8/M80 junction and from experience, this means that the motorway will choke up and driving in that is no fun at all. I’m guessing that those 22 men from Wednesday were having another kick about. Time for a change of plans. Glasgow Fort has a big M&S store and we had time to change lanes to get there and avoid the congestion on the M80. That is what we did and also as a bonus, we drove out of the torrential rain.

At the Fort, Scamp got her jacket in the colour and size she wanted. Sorted. Lunch was in Wagamama across the road. While we were there, the next rain shower descended on us and it was nice to be sitting looking out at folk getting wet. After lunch we went our separate ways for a while. Me to Waterstones and Scamp window shopping. We met up at Hobbycraft as we had planned. I’ve an idea to make a fold up stand for my Linx 10 tablet. It makes it so much easier to type into with the Bluetooth keyboard, so I got a piece of 3mm plywood to make it. Fairly strong and light, plywood should be ideal. Today’s PoD came from The Fort and is one of a group of bronze deer statues around the site.

Back home, I managed to convince Adobe to allow me to download Lightroom 6 for half price because I had a serial number for my original LR 1. It’s not an amazing upgrade from V5, but at least I can get the Teazer’s RAW files processed more easily. Yes, the Teazer is a keeper. It produced today’s PoD.

Tomorrow? Maybe going for plants for the raised bed to keep the peas company and also the beetroot which just appeared today. Maybe dancing too in Paisley. We’ll see.

Twa Dugs – 13 May 2017

Today we took the slow lane to Hamilton.

The slow lane is on the M74.  There are three lanes.  Slow, slower and stopped.  We were in ‘Stopped’ for a while, but then we moved on to ‘Slower’ and finally found second gear which you can only achieve in the Slow lane.

We parked in the retail park in Hamilton wondering if three hours would be enough to visit the two shops I wanted to go to, M&S for Scamp and Costa for a brown water – Hamilton hasn’t got a Nero yet.  As it happened, it only took us a little over an hour to complete our walk around this failing town.  It used to be a vibrant, busy town.  Mobbed on a Saturday.  Today there were more folk in the retail park than in the town centre and there were To Let signs on a load of shuttered shops in the retail park.  Such a shame.  However it provided today’s PoD one of the Twa Dugs that decorate the seating in the town square.

I thought we’d investigate the new M8 on our trip back to Cumbersheugh, but the road builders thought otherwise.  Halfway up the Bellshill bypass, the signs for Glasgow petered out to be replaced with signs for Embra.  It looked as if the road to Glasgow wasn’t quite ready for us yet, so we did as we were told and took the road to Embra.  We took it as far as Shotts before we could turn and head back to Glasgow again.  The road is a great improvement on the old one and when all the links are working properly it will speed up the east/west trip for all those commuters who face this moving carpark every day.

While we were taking our enforced diversion, we met with some really heavy showers.  It was good to see rain again after almost a month without.  However, I hope it remembers to turn the tap off some time soon.  I’m perfectly ok with with it raining all day, just as long as it stays dry for most of the day.

Dinner tonight was courtesy of Golden Bowl, the best and most consistent Chinese take-anywhere.  Chicken Chop Suey with Fried Rice for Scamp and Special Chow Mein for me was a pleasant change from our fish diet this week.  That said, today’s lunch of reheated Simple FIsh Stew was excellent.

Tomorrow?  I think it’s going to rain again, so I’m starting the boxer shorts Hazy.  The pieces were cut out tonight so tomorrow may be the big day.