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 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.

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.

Out West – 3 November 2017

Not Troon and not Ayr, two of our favourite west coast places. No, it was the one between. The Cinderella of the west coast, Prestwick. That was our destination today.

Coincidentally, Prestwick was one of the favourite destinations for Sunday School trips. It had sea, sand and usually rain, so it fitted the bill perfectly. Today however, we were going for lunch. Scamp had an Itison booking for Elliots and we were going on the bus so I could have a glass of wine with my lunch. What could make it better? It was raining.

Out early, which is any time before 10am and this was just about 10am. We got the bus in to Glasgow and then the X77 to Prestwick. That’s when it started raining. We walked along Prestwick main street which didn’t take very long because, apart from some coffee shops there was very little to see. Lunch was really quite good. That may sound like faint praise, but apart from an over-sweet starter and Scamp’s chicken tempura instead of the vegetable she ordered, it was excellent. The aforementioned starter shortcomings reduced Excellent to Quite Good.

After lunch we caught the bus into Ayr. Ayr was almost like Muirkirk yesterday. Not closed, but closed up. There were an amazing number of ‘For Lease’ signs all over the town. It looked like there were much more boarded up signs than the last time we were there. We didn’t even go down the beach this time, just wandered round the shops and that is where I saw today’s PoD.

As darkness began to fall and the light faded we boarded the bus for Glasgow and then the bus home. Not before we froze for a while in the bus station in Ayr where there is no waiting room, no toilets, not even an overpriced newsagents. What they do have is a row of cold aluminium seats and that’s where we sat for almost half an hour. For those tourists flying in to Prestwick then going to Ayr before travelling on, Welcome To Scotland.

Thankfully both bus journeys home were quick, comfortable and with good connections. They weren’t First Bus, of course, they were Stagecoach. You could tell as soon as you sat down on the seats. First Bus have seats made of plywood and cloth. Stagecoach insert a layer of foam plastic between those two strata. That’s one difference. Also, Stagecoach buses have heaters that heat. That’s another difference.

Tomorrow? Maybe Glasgow, maybe Stirling. Probably driving.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.