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Untrained – 30 September 2017

We had intended to take the train to Embra today. Scamp even drove us to the station in her car, but …

When we got there we found out that due to safety checks on the line between Haymarket and Waverley, trains (if they weren’t cancelled) were stopping at Linlithgow, about 20 miles from Embra, and it was up to you to get from Linlithgow to Embra. That’s Scotrail for you. Make it up as you go along. If the problem is between Haymarket and Waverley, both in Embra, why are they stopping the trains 20 miles away? That’s a pretty big safety zone.  Must be the wrong kind of leaves on the line again.

Anyway, we told the nice ticket man that we wouldn’t be travelling on his maybe-not-cancelled train today and drove home to change cars and drive (me driving this time) to Perf, not Embra. It was a pleasant drive up the A9 to the Fair City of Perth. Car performed perfectly and I finally got the hang of the new cruise control. I also tried out the speed limiter, but that’s not as much fun. Best of all, I tried out Sport mode which gives you a nice little whack of G-force as you accelerate! Only to be used sparingly as it does eat up your fuel consumption. All in all it’s a really nice car to drive. I’m very impressed.

Perf was busy as usual on a weekend. Far too many people around I much prefer going on a weekday. Got some coffee, some tea and some dried fruit to make my breakfast compote. Fruit for the compote, there’s no coffee or tea in it. Just thought I’d make that clear. While we were there and while Scamp was shopping in Marks, I wandered round the outside of St John’s Kirk, the big church in the middle of the town. I got a sketch done. It’s a bit ropey, but with a bit of tweaking from the photo I took, it should do. Tomorrow is the start of Inktober 2017 and I need to get myself back in harness to do a sketch a day. There’s a wee challenge for you Hazy. One sketch every day, posted on Flickr. You can add it to my group if you want. Only one real rule. The predominant medium must be ink, hence the name. You too, JIC. Get started sketching. Fifteen minutes in your lunch break is all you need!!
Today’s PoD is a wide angle shot from the walk round the church. I also liked the monkey gargoyle!

A couple of weeks ago Scamp came across an envelope from a school venture with a £10 note in it. It was surplus money from a school trip we went on twenty odd years ago. It wasn’t my money and the school doesn’t exist any more, so today it went into a charity tin in the Heart Foundation shop in Perf. They will be able to use it. I’d already checked with the bank and it was still legal tender.

Back home, dinner was a Scamp speciality, Prawn Stir fry. Spicy and hot, but very, very good.

I’d been reading a book about painting with pastels in an Oxfam bookshop in Perf.  I don’t think you draw with pastels, you paint with them.  I hadn’t really used pastels, except for messing around with them for a graphics topic for school.  Today I pinned a sheet of Ingres paper on an old drawing board and painted a landscape.  The same one I’d been tentatively poking paint at for the last week.  This one took maybe half an hour?  It’s rough, but I like it.  Maybe I’ll fix it and frame it.

Tomorrow looks wet. I think we’re going dancing at night because the usual Sunday Social venue is double booked and we lose. Should still be fun.

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Dull, Dull, Dull – 27 September 2017

There’s not a lot you can say about today. Certainly not a lot of good things anyway.

The highlight of today was driving to B&Q to buy a stepping stool and a new shower head. Now how’s that for excitement? We didn’t go for a walk. We didn’t go for a swim. We didn’t do anything.

Drove in to Glasgow to Salsa and found out that although Jamie G took the depleted beginners class, Shannon was taking the advanced class so I proposed a sharp exit. Shannon has had her fun with me as her whipping boy, but not any more. She runs a good business, but she isn’t a teacher. That’s an hour of my life I wanted to enjoy, not be told I wasn’t doing things right (i.e. her way.) We left. Just to put the tin lid on things, it rained all the way home.

Didn’t even take any decent photos because the light was so poor. Today’s PoD if you can call it that is three of Scamp’s bus-stop ladies made by Geof Cox.

Tomorrow will be better because, for one thing, tomorrow is is ‘J Day’. Hoping to paint in the morning.

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Away to see the horses – 27 August 2017

Scamp suggested we go to see the Kelpies this morning and it seemed like a good way to get out and about on a Sunday morning. So did lots and lots of other people.

Despite a bit of a queue, we got parked without any trouble after paying the £3 fee which is very good these days. The place was busy and there were two bus tours just arriving but it’s a big site and we walked down to see the horses.

There really is something almost mystical about these statues. They make you smile for no reason. It’s as if they’re alive and watching you. Maybe watching over you is a better description, and going to see them is like going to meet old friends. It’s a difficult feeling to put into words, but Scamp and I are agreed about this. We wandered round the statues and as usual, I was trying to find a new angle for a photo. I think I found one today and it became my PoD, but not before Lightroom had done a bit of work on it.

After the Kelpies, we walked along through Helix park with a sinusoidal board walk through the wetlands to a massive semicircular brick and stone windbreak sheltering large circular grassed area and a circular pond with a kids play park and a cafe within easy reach. There was a path round the pond, but as it looked like it would take a good half hour or so to complete, we headed back towards the car park. Why can’t all councils spend their money on projects like this? Wouldn’t it be good to have a facility like this rather than spending half a million on the ridiculous ‘waves’ that Cumbernauld had dumped beside the dual carriageway.

By the time we were leaving, the queue for parking far exceeded the spaces available, so the moral of the story is get there before 12noon or you will be disappointed.

After lunch I went out to St Mo’s to calm down after another ‘exciting’ F1 GP. For such a high powered, enormously expensive sport, it can be like watching a procession sometimes and as most of the drivers are so far removed from reality, it’s difficult to find any empathy with them. Who cares if Hamilton or Vettel wins? It will make no difference to the price of fish. St Mo’s was buzzing with dragonflies, ordinary flies and spiders. I suppose it’s not surprising if there are a lot of flies around, there will be a lot of spiders waiting to snap them up. However, it wasn’t a spider I saw snapping up a fly, it was a dragonfly. A big green and white dragonfly was cruising up and down the alley between the trees and then it stopped in the air just beside me and grabbed a fly that had risen from a branch. Just like that. I had no time to take a shot, but I saw it right in front of my nose!  Oh yes, and the toadstool pic was taken with the Teazer with WiFi remote control.  So much easier on old knees!

That was about it for today. Got a painting started, but I’ll have to fake a sketch this week. Nothing done so far.

Rain forecast tomorrow. Maybe going suite hunting again.

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Perf – 16 June 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glasgow tomorrow.

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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.

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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.

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Drive to the end of the road and turn left – 6 April 2017

As usual, on the first day of our stay on Skye, we drove round the top end of the island.  Up to Uig and then round to Portree.

Stopped off at Duntulm to take what is an iconic photo of the telephone box there.  After that, I walked out to the ruin of Duntulm Castle.  It’s a ruin and there’s a warning at the padlocked gate to say “We advise you not to come any closer”.  It’s a bit like the warning on iPlayer that asks you “Do you have a TV licence?”  Easy to lie, easy to ignore.  Just do it.  I’d walked for 15-20 minutes in a bitterly cold wind to reach this ridiculous sign, so I just turned around and went back to the car.  AYE RIGHT!  It’s an interesting place, really remote on this finger of land that sticks out into the Minch.  Although the castle is a ruin now, the solid walls really protect you from the worst of the wind that blows in from the sea.  Took a few photos and then went back to the warmth of the car.

We drove in to Uig, but there was nothing interesting to see, so we headed on to Portree.  Lunch was in Jan’s Vans which is, for want of a better description, a gigantic hardware store.  Scamp browsed the ‘toys off the rack’ and eventually settled on a plant for the garden, but I’m pretty sure she has a list of things that we’ll be bringing back with us.

We tried to park in Portree itself, but all the carparks were full, so we drove back to Staffin and sat and watched the waves for a while.  After that I drove Scamp back to the house and I went to take some more photos.  Initially up to the wee lochan up at Floddigarry and then back down the slip again.  Saw the wee Captain model firmly glued to a boathouse there.  Went for a walk along the rocks and when I got back it was time for dinner, and a wee dram.  A fine way to end a fine day.

Tomorrow?  Probably more of the same!

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The Wee Boy – 2 April 2017

Another day of wall to wall sunshine, well, it was sunny for most of the day, but there were a few April showers too, but much shorter and less sharp than of late.

Today we had planned to go to the Art Galleries in Kelvinside to hear one of our friends from salsa, singing in her choir.  Scamp was going to hear …. , I was going to sketch.  We walked down through Kelvingrove Park from Kelvinbridge Underground station and it really did feel like spring, with blossom on the trees and families having picnics on the grass.  After a quick coffee in the Galleries cafe, Scamp got settled in the audience and I headed off to find a subject.  I chose a knight’s helmet and got stuck in.  I wasn’t all that impressed with it until a wee boy and his mum came along.  He asked me if I was an artist, but when I said, “No, I just like drawing.”  He didn’t seem disappointed and said “You’re really good”.  I thanked him, but I don’t think he realised how much that meant to me.  Wherever you are, wee boy, you made my day!

After that, I messed up the sketch completely, trying to render it with a marker pen, so went looking for other subjects.  I’ve always liked the rear entrance to the Galleries and preferred it to the entrance from Argyle Street.  Allegedly, the architect had agreed with me and also preferred that entrance.  A man of taste, obviously.  Anyway, I chose the rear entrance stairs as my sketch of the day.  It was a difficult one with angles, arches and lots of Victorian embellishments.  I’m not all that keen on the finished sketch, but I will certainly go back and try it again.

I took some photos of the choir and our friend in particular.  I also enjoyed some of the singing.  I didn’t enjoy the organ recital.  I hate organ music, but Scamp likes it and I was quite happy that she enjoyed it while I sketched today.

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A Day with the Kelpies – 10 March 2017

Scamp wanted to get to Dunelm Mills in Falkirk today to get sheets.  I didn’t, but in the same retail park there was a Hobbycraft shop and that did me nicely for diversion while Scamp was choosing exactly the right set of sheets.

When we left there, she was the one who suggested lunch at the Kelpies in Helix Park.  It was a good choice.  We got a seat near the window where we could gaze out at the Kelpies.  You’ve always got to capitalise their names, because they are celebrities and deserve the honour.  After lunch (Potato Wedges for Scamp and Chilli for me) we went for a walk round these gigantic statues, just to say hello again.  It becomes more and more difficult to find a new angle on these giant horse heads, but I think I managed it again.  I tried to get a reflection of them, but the water, although still, was too murky to produce the effect I was looking for.

On the way home we stopped at Lidl in Kilsyth to get milk and beer.  We left after filling two bags and spending about £14.  We did buy more than our shopping list, but we did get milk and beer.

I have had a sore back for a couple of days, so when we got home, I packed my swimming stuff and went for a relaxing swim and a soak in the steam room.  Wow!  The pool was empty.  Not a single soul in the water, but there were 9 ladies in the jacuzzi happily chattering away while it was on its cleaning cycle.  Now, I’ve looked in the jacuzzi while it’s cleaning and I wouldn’t sit in it.  I don’t know what chemicals surge round its whirlpool, but they are certainly not meant for contact with the skin.  Still, it’s their life, their skin, their health they are damaging and the warnings are there for the few of them who can read.  There were also about twenty other spray-tanned spa damsels spread around the deckchairs.

I Went to go in to the steam room but was warned that someone had had a nosebleed inside and it was being cleaned.  Sitting in the sauna, I watched four folk go in.  About ten minutes later the cleaner went in too and then came out to sluice away a bucket down a drain.  Presumably he had cleaned up the mess while the other four jokers were in there.  H&S?  Not a speciality of Westerwood these days.

Pizza for dinner.  Home made pizza.  Most enjoyable.

A well as the Kelpies, I’ve included a couple of pics from Madeleine and Jaime’s garden in Trinidad.  One of a beautiful red flower and another of a shield bug.

A day in the Toon tomorrow hopefully.  No driving, it’s a bus day.  Yesterday, Saturday looked a good day.  Today it’s not seeming so likely.  It won’t bother us, lunch is booked.

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A day at the Gee-gees – 17 December 2016

I think I must have said just a little too much yesterday and annoyed the Embra gods again.  Seriously, I thought that after the amount of work Scamp has put in this week, a lazy day for her was called for, so we didn’t rush out this morning to get the train to the second city of Scotland, in fact we didn’t get past the door until the afternoon.  Even then, I wasn’t sure where we were going as we headed east, then it occurred to me that since we didn’t want to go too far and we certainly didn’t want to go shopping, we might go and visit some old stainless steel friends – The Kelpies.

When we got there we had a pleasant surprise.  The carpark at the Kelpies was free today.  Got a few photos of some Ford Focus RSs parked in a line while their drivers discussed and compared their steeds, but it was much bigger steeds we were interested in.  We went for a walk round them and as every time before, we were blown away with them, actually quite emotional.  However, it was a bit chilly, no, it was cold and the breeze dropped the temperature even more, so we were glad to get into cafe in the new information centre.  A cup of coffee each and a bowl of potato wedges to share heated us up as we watched the last of the light go down on the statues.

Drove home and it was Golden Bowl for a Chinese dinner tonight, before we watched the final of Strictly.  Riveting!