15 Dec

The end of the ice age – 12 December 2017

Woke up to -5.5ºc, but my weather app said it would rain by 2.30pm. Nah, I don’t think so, somehow.

Spent most of the morning clearing up the back bedroom for Jackie. You might not think so to look at it, but you didn’t see it before I started!

After lunch I drove in to Glasgow to BUY STUFF. It didn’t really matter what I was buying, I just had to BUY STUFF. Well, that’s the way it felt until I realised I’d just had a near miss with the Xmas shopping bug and decided to be a bit more pragmatic. While I was driving in the rain started, just after the predicted time of 2.30pm and walking down Bucky Street in the rain, yesterday’s Christmas Card feel completely disappeared. This was back to business as usual. After managing to get all the things I’d come for (and a few more), I met up with Jackie off her bus from Skye and we drove home still in the rain.

Dinner tonight was Chicken Thighs with Leeks and Petit Pois (peas to you), from a Nigella. It was full of the gorgeous grains of green from the peas and the subtle mild onionniness of the leeks, but mainly the golden goodness of the chicken thighs. There, that’s a better description in Nigella language!

Today’s PoD is of the reflections in Exchange Square in Glasgow.

Tomorrow, it looks like there may be some snow in the forecast. I think I may be pastel painting while the sisters hit the ‘Toon’.

15 Dec

Coffee Swap-Shop – 1 December 2017

Met Val and Fred for coffee today. We really need to change our coffee day from Friday to another weekday. Costa was mobbed again and it was only by luck that Val and I managed to grab a table. Fred was later to arrive today after having to detour to the village to book his car in to have an exhaust box replaced. Swapped my new Yusuf album for a Jools album from Fred, then we critted each other’s sketches. Val has started sketching too, but is not yet prepared to share his graphics work.

It had started out a bright sunny morning, but by the time we were heading back outside, it was dull and dark. Went to Tesco to get the ingredients for tonights dinner which was an experimental Chicken Tikka. Gave Val a run home and forgot that they (the mysterious ‘They’) are still digging up sections of Forest Road. Every time I drive up that road it’s a different two sections that are being excavated or re-laid. Val was telling me that a whole section of the road subsided earlier in the week. Not surprising really with the amount of excavations that are going on. They probably dug a section up and then relaid the road surface the next day without filling in the holes first, what is now called a ‘Workmanship Error’. Workmanship Error was the excuse explanation given for the Queensferry Crossing being closed for repair months after it opened. It used to be called Bad Workmanship, but that does tend to put a negative spin on things. Error sounds more positive, something that could happen to anyone. Grabbed the chance of another sunset PoD tonight after dropping Val off. This time it’s Broadwood Loch, just further along the same pylon line as yesterday.

When I got home it was time to start the prep for the curry. I won’t go into the details here, but suffice to say it was a lengthy procedure and although it was deemed edible but ‘there were issues’, to quote Marcus Wareing the man JIC claims has the personality of a stormtrooper. Not my favouorite person on TV either. Anyway, getting back to the Chicken Tikka. It needed a lot less cream in the sauce, but apart from that it was good. Definitely worth another go.

It looks like it will warm up a bit, or to be more precise, it will thaw a bit in the next few days with positive temperatures. Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. It will probably involve shopping somewhere.

15 Dec

Caught! – 26 October 2017

Today, as promised, I drove in to Glasgow

Ostensibly I was going to buy a white pen, and a pad of coloured paper and maybe to ask for some help from one of the Apple Geniuses (or is that Genies!) and possibly to get a photo and finally, a sketch over a cup of decent coffee would help. I actually achieved all of the above, but not all in Glasgow, as you will find out.

Paperchase didn’t have any white pens nor did they have pads of coloured paper. So, it was on to Cass Art with a stop off at the Apple shop first to speak to a Genius or a Genie if one were available. I was trying to find out how to transfer the apps and their data from the Mambo No 5 to the new and as yet unnamed new iPhone SE. I got an answer and it seems like it would work, but I have to confer first with my own Apple Genius to make sure they spoke the truth. Anyway, one tick on the list.

Cass Art had the pen and it looked as if it would work for my purpose. Unfortunately the sales person was having a long discussion with someone I took to be a customer, but who turned out to be the manager. It was only when she walked round to the stand by the tills to continue the conversation that I realised she worked for Cass Art. Both of them continued to blank me as I stood waiting to be relieved of my £3. Only when I turned to replace the pen in the rack did one of them, I don’t know which, ask if I needed any help. I told them I didn’t and left. This is the second, and last time I’ve had problems with Cass Art.

With Cass Art off my Christmas card list, it was down to Millers and glory be, they did have the pen and the paper. A bit more expensive than Cass, but much better to deal with. That made three ticks on the list.

Continued my sojourn to The Fort looking for a book (it wasn’t on the list.) Didn’t get it, but I did get a photo which you will see above. Only one task to complete, the sketch possibly over a cup of coffee.

I was early for once getting to Costa in Cumbersheugh and settled in the only seat available. What better place to do some sketching than over a cup of coffee. I decided that the lady at the next table would be a good subject to sketch. Didn’t notice that she’d seen me. She even came over to speak. I’m not sure if she was impressed with the sketch, but she was impressed with my bravery, drawing in public. We discussed Landscape Artist of the Year for a while and then she took her leave. Whoever you were, lady with the striped top in Costa today, thanks for speaking. Brightened my day! Also, the last tick in the last box.

Tomorrow it’s the in-house version of Masterchef (without the fat baldy bloke.)

15 Dec

An Old Friend Returns – 13 October 2017

There’s not much to be said about the morning. It rained and it was windy, then it rained again.

Tried to copy a folder of videos from the MBP (Mac Book Pro) to the iMac. It was doing it over WiFi and reported that it would take about an hour. Videos are notoriously large files and there were a lot of them, around fifty at last count. In fact there were more like a hundred because I converted the MOVs to MP4s to make them more portable and ensure they would play in the majority of platforms. Anyway, I decided that an hour was far too long, so I stopped the transfer and used a portable hard disk to copy the files from the MBP. Then it was a simple job to unplug the portable HD and re-plug it to the iMac. There were two partitions on the portable HD and I should issue a warning that there’s a fair amount of Technospeak in this part of the blog. If you don’t want to hear all the geek stuff, maybe you should move down to the but that says “SAFE NOW!” Anyway, now the lightweights are gone, here’s where we talk about the ‘techy’ stuff and this is where things go awry.
The HD was partitioned into two parts. Part 1 was mainly for photos backup and Part 2 was for general use. Both partitions were formatted to NTFS. Now Macs can read NTFS, but natively,they can’t write to it. When I plugged the HD into the iMac it could only read the photos part and I’d copies the files to the other part and it wasn’t showing up. It wasn’t mounted that’s why. I ejected it and plugged it back in to the MBP and it read as normal. I checked it using Disk Utility and it showed up as ok. Ejected it again and plugged it back into the iMac. Still no go. Now I said that Macs can’t natively write to NTFS, but I use a wee app by Paragon that allows the Mac to write to an NTFS disk. It also has a disk checker, so I used it to check said HD. It told me it was dirty. That’s computerspeak for something’s screwed up here. It tried then to repair the damage, but after about ten minutes had got nowhere. This needed the big guns. Ejected the disk and went upstairs to where the PCs live and powered up the laptop, then attached the HD. Yes, it loaded, but only after a lot of clicks and whines. Went into a DOS command prompt and tried to run CHKDSK which is the program that CHecKs the DiSK. Unfortunately you can’t simply do that. You need to go to the Elevated Command Prompt as an Administrator. Typical american idea. Yes, you can buy a gun, or two, or three over the counter, but you have to be Administrator to fix your own disk on your own machine! Finally typed in the command CHKDSK G: /F, pressed enter and five minutes later the job was done. Ejected the disk and re-connected it just to check, and everything was fine and dandy. Ejected it again and took it down to the iMac where it loaded as if nothing had happened. The files copied in just under 6 minutes. The entire process from cancelling the WiFi transfer had taken just short of two hours.
The moral of the story is: If it’s working, don’t mess around with it.


After the disk copying fiasco we had lunch and while Scamp was blowing up a storm on the clarinet, I slipped out to St Mo’s where I spotted the spider, the caterpillar, the chestnuts (although they were arranged tastefully first) and finally I chanced upon Mr Grey. I think it was Mr Grey my grey heron adversary in St Mo’s, but this one looked a bit thinner and smaller than Mr Grey. Maybe it’s Son of Mr Grey. I got a few photos of him before he made his exit down to the other end of the pond. I must say at this point, the photos on the retina screen look amazing. It totally transforms the editing process when you can see the detail so clearly.

Today’s sketch was of Mambo No 5, my trusty iPhone 5s. I think it deserved a photo after all the hard work its done and the hours of music its played. I even took the photo of the drawing with it, as I always do with sketches.

Now I’m off to bed. I’ve got a wee tickle in the back of my throat. Probably caught some nasty cold germs from all the sniffling passengers on the train yesterday. Looks like more rain tomorrow. Don’t have any plans, but may go somewhere for lunch.

15 Dec

A day in the toon by myself – 10 July 2017

Spoke to Hazy in the morning, then went into Glasgow for a wander. Danced in the evening. That’s the synopsis.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and discussed books among other things. That’s probably what sent me in to Glasgow. Scamp had other things to do today, but offered me a run to the station, probably to make sure I went. I had a walk around Glasgow and, yes, I did spend a fair amount of time in Waterstones. Finally got a book, a physical book to read. (FYI Hazy, it’s Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay)

Today’s PoD is of the reflections of clouds on the new 110 Queen Street building. It was either that or reflections of

Allegedly, the CityTree is a highly visual structure which, at 4 meters tall, nearly 3 meters wide and 2 meters deep, is said to have the environmental benefit of up to 275 urban trees.  This one was dumped planted outside the GOMA.

old sandstone buildings in the same glass building. You’ll need to visit Flickr to see that one. I’d half intended doing a sketch while I was in, but the rain came on and I didn’t manage it. I know I’m a sketch down after my lapse yesterday, but I’ll try to make it up tomorrow.

On the way home in the train, I glanced out the window while the train was going quite slowly and saw three fox cubs playing together in the grass of a cutting. They stopped to stare at the train as I stared back. So strange to see three cubs together in a little splash of sun after the rain.

While I made the dinner, Scamp picked blackcurrants from the bush in the garden. We’d noticed the birds taking an unhealthy interest in the blackcurrants recently and we were both determined to got our share of them picked and frozen. She managed to pick 1lb of berries. Less than it has been, but then the bush is getting quite old now. Scamp is very fair with her harvest. She never cleans out the busy, but always leaves some for the birds to have.

Salsa class was good tonight and although it wasn’t all that warm outside, it was hot inside and it was a joy to dance near the fan. Our new moves in Advanced class were:

  • Besso por Abaho
  • Agamemnon
  • Vueltas
  • Estrella

No real plans for tomorrow, but hopefully the weather will be better than today, because the rain was torrential on the way home from salsa class.

15 Dec

Happy Birthday Netta – 4 March 2017

Today centred around Scamp and her ladies singing at a friend’s birthday party.  A special birthday party, the friend was 90 today.  She used to be a senior member of Gems and that’s why the ladies were singing at her party.  Me?  I was chauffeur and roadie again.  I didn’t really mind, because it gave me a couple of hours free to do as I pleased.

I first set out to do some beer shopping in Lidl and then went looking for a subject.  I settled on the Falkirk Wheel where I knew I could find some longboats tied up.  By the time I got there the best of the day’s light had gone and a cold easterly wind was getting up, but there were plenty of boats to photograph and with the canal as smooth as a millpond, the reflections were good.  They would have been even better if the water hadn’t been so dirty.  Not as dirty as the Falkirk Wheel.  According to the notice near the entrance, its annual maintenance takes place towards the end of December.  I don’t know if they didn’t do it this year or maybe they are still trying to source the cleaning materials, but the wheel is manky.  There’s no other word for it.  The site itself is cordoned off with loads of miles of security fencing and signs saying its a construction site.  That wouldn’t be so bad if there was any evidence of construction taking place, but there was none.  I got there at 4pm and the entire place was closed.  Again, giving the benefit of the doubt, maybe they are still working on the winter timetable.  Being more realistic, maybe Central Region just don’t care, or don’t have the funds to maintain this massive structure.  It certainly is a sad sight just now.

Beer bought, photos taken, I was heading back to the car when I got the call from Scamp to go pick her up.  The birthday girl was looking great and if I hadn’t know her age, I’d never have guessed.

Let’s hope tomorrow is a better day.

One last thing, I finally got round to adding a gallery of my 28 Drawings Later … sketches.  Do go and have a look when you have time.  They are accessed from Galleries (duh!) from the blue bar at the top of the page.  I don’t have a clue where you find them on a phone or a tablet.  Seek and ye shall find!
Remember when you’re viewing that it’s not the skill or the artifice you are admiring, it’s the dedication to put pen, pencil and brush to paper, one day after another for a month.

15 Dec

The toon in the sun – 25 January 2017

Well, almost.  There was some sun for a while, then it got tired and went behind a cloud or two for a wee rest.  It was there, though for a while.

Scamp had decided that we needed to go in to the toon today on the bus, because we were going for lunch.  As it turned out, it was a good idea, but we weren’t sure where we were going.  It was finally decided that we would go to my new favourite restaurant / pizzeria, Paesano.  There, I’ve spelled it right first time without checking.  I checked afterwards, but that doesn’t count.  I had pizza (everything is a pizza there) with Salsiccia and Friarielli (Friarelli are a green vegetable like Broccoli but are only grown in Campania and they are in a category all their own).  A pizza bianco which doesn’t have tomato sauce.  I also had a side of lovely balsamic onions.  Scamp had Burrata (a fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream), Cherry tomatoes and Basil and a boring old Pizza Margherita.  Lovely!

Afterwards we went for a coffee in ‘Nero and that was the extent of our stravaigin’ in the toon.  Bus home too and the sun came out of hiding and started shining again for a while.

Not a lot to take photographs of today and I only took the one camera, the Oly 5.  I liked the distorted reflections of the buildings overlaid on the internal details of 110 Queen Street and it’s my PoD.  When I got home I’d left myself a reminder to glue the little metal cap on my Oly 5 (It fell of the other day).  When I was doing it, I found a little metal circlip that had broken and decided to pull it off.  When I pulled it off, it unfortunately took the plastic shutter button off with it!  Oh dear, I’ve just broken what has recently become my go-to camera – of course the actual words I said were not “Oh dear”.  The sentence was much longer and contained a lot of sweary words.  However, I managed to find the offending article and also managed to clip it back in place.  Then I glued on the offending metal cap with Araldite (other Two-part Epoxy Resin Adhesives are available).  It still seems to be working.  Moral of the story – If it ain’t Really broke, don’t fix it.  It worked perfectly before without the little metal cap.

Looking cold for tomorrow, but hopefully we’ll be on a warm train for a change.  Letting the train take the strain.

15 Dec

Out To Lunch – 10 January 2017

This morning, over a cup of coffee, we discussed what to do with the day.  We decided to go out for lunch because it was fairly bright.  The reason we gave was that we needed to get some compost to plant up the spider plants that have been languishing in water on the back window sill and we could get that at a garden centre and most garden centres have cafés now.  Devious, eh?   We had to drive through the roadworks going on all round the ring road.  Everywhere had closed signs and everywhere had diversion signs, sometime contradictory signs, but lots of them except where they’d be helpful.  Well, you’ve got to use the “Twenty seven 8×10 full colour glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one …”  (Alice’s Restaurant – Arlo Guthrie).  After we’d manoeuvred our way through the barriers, I thought we would drive to the garden centre out by Killearn, but the weather that way looked very rough.  Dark clouds and what looked like heavy rain.  The weather closer to home had deteriorated too, so we changed our plans and went to Dobbies at Bearsden instead.  As is usual in garden centres these days there are franchises and Dobbies now has an Edinburgh Woollen Mill within its shopping area.  I got another warm winter shirt – you can’t have too many shirts.  After lunch and after buying the compost, we drove home through brightening skies again.

By the time we got home the skies had cleared and blue sky was once again in charge.  While Scamp phoned her Cumbernauld sister, I took the chance to get some photos over at St Mo’s.  By the time I got over there, the sun was sinking, but the blue sky was still there.  Just a few shots in the bag, but enough for a PoD and then some backup.

I think we’re driving Scamp and her sister to Glasgow Airport on Thursday and it will be a fairly early rise.  It’s only her sister who is flying down to a funeral in Bristol, but Scamp’s going in to the airport with her to provide much needed moral support.  Hopefully I’ll have an hour or so in Glasgow to get this week’s sketch done.  Tomorrow, however, is free so far.  Weather looks wild.  Strong winds and the possibility of snow with more due on Thursday.  Oh what fun, but the combination might provide some interesting photo opportunities.

15 Dec

The day after the day before – 12 December 2016

Morning came too soon today after a late night yesterday.

Worse still, there was a lot to do and so it was a quick breakfast and start the baking for Scamp’s Gems party.  For me, that was bread first.  Hand made.  Kneaded and set to prove in a warm kitchen.  While the dough was rising, Scamp went to buy Tesco while I made the scone dough.  Unfortunately I made the beginner’s mistake of forgetting to put the oven on, so I faffed around for a while while the oven heated, with the result that the scones didn’t turn out quite as well as I expected, but that’s just the way things are.  If you’re making them for yourself, they turn out fine every time.  When you’re under pressure to produce, that’s when mistakes creep in.  By comparison, the bread looked very good and behaved exactly as it should, rising perfectly.  I’d a bit more things to do, a bit of furniture moving and adjusting, but after that was finished and I’d had a lunch of sorts, I made my excuses and left before the festivities could begin.

I drove in to Glasgow to make my final purchase from an actual shop for Christmas.  With that complete, I was free to wander and take some photos.  I took a few of reflections in the 110 Queen Street building.  I’m sure it deserves a better name than a postal address.  Something like the bendy glass building would be more Glasgow than 110 Queen Street.  The kidney building would do because it’s kind of kidney shaped.  Answers on a postcard please.  Along the way I picked up the new – old Dylan album from 1966 allegedly from the Albert Hall, but actually from the Free Trades Hall in Birmingham, but still reminiscent of that era when Dylan truly was God on Wheels.  Picked up Jackie and drove home.

Salsa tonight.  The Kizomba is finished for us for now.  Great night with three new dances, the best named dance was Oti Biscuits.  I kid you not!

Tomorrow we are hoping will run at a more leisurely pace.  We will see.

15 Dec

Walkin’ on Sunshine – 1 December 2016

1-decWhat a difference a little bit of sun makes and we had a fair bit of the big white ball in the sky today.  The grey had gone for a wee while at least.

We made the most of the sun by getting the bus in to Glasgow.  Actually, we took two buses in to Glasgow.  Scamp went in early and I fitted the new wipers to my car.  Surprisingly, it only took me a few minutes.  Sometimes it pays to buy the posh, Bosch wipers because they are so much easier to fit than the cheapo alternatives.  After fitting the wipers, I just managed to catch the bus, a different bus, in to Glasgow.  On the bus I discovered that I’d left my Kindle at home.  Worse than that, I’d left my headphones in my other jacket, also at home.  With nothing to distract me, I sat in the front of the bus and soaked up some of that sun.

I went to Millers art shop to get a couple of pens.  Before that I got myself an emergency pair of earbuds from HMV.  Skullcandy were always the cheap end of the market as far as I was concerned until I had the same problem I had today and had to buy a cheap pair of earbuds and succumbed to Skullcandy.  They were brilliant.  They are much better than my Sennheiser pair which are way to harsh and tinny sounding.  After this spending spree, I met up with Scamp and we went to lunch at The Italian Kitchen in Albion Street.  It was outside TIK that the reflections on the Herald building attracted my photographic attention.  After lunch we went our own merry way again.  Anyone watching would be wondering if we had fallen out, but that wasn’t the case, it was just about giving each other space.

I wandered around the city centre to get some more photos and even got a sketch of sorts done from the GOMA, then I wanted a look at a 21” iMac in the Apple shop.  The newly designed Apple shop, where there are no sales counters.  The Apple shop where a sales person was hogging the 21” iMac I was wanting to look at while she sold an iPhone.  Now I realise that the purchase of an iPhone is important, but wouldn’t it be a much better idea to have a sales desk where this transaction could take place.  It’s a bit of a barn of a place and it gives you an idea of the way Apple want things to go.

  • No Genius Bar
  • No sales desk, as I’ve mentioned
  • No Techys desk
  • No place to queue or sit while you wait to speak to a Techy

The other thing I noticed about this newly designed Apple store is the proportions of different machines on display.  Lots of space given to iPads and iPhones acres of deskspace given to Apple watches and entire tables given over to Macbooks of various kinds.  Only five desktop  computers on display, and that space itself being used as a sales point  It looks looks as if Apple don’t want/need to sell desktop computers any more.  Not a comforting thought.

Just managed to sneak on the X3 as it was about to leave and it turned out that Scamp was on the previous one, so we were running along behind each other heading for Cumbersheugh!  How sweet.

Hoping for another sunny day tomorrow, but today was good, so I shouldn’t be greedy.