16 Oct

Out to lunch – 26 September 2017

First job today was to clean out the car. Yesterday, the outside. Today the inside.

I used three poly bags and the KFC method again:

  • K = Keep – goes out and comes back in
  • F = File – goes somewhere else
  • C = Chuck – it goes in the bin

Most stuff went into the K or C bags with a few things finding their way back into the house again to be checked over before going through the KFC cycle again sometime later. It didn’t take as long as I anticipated and then it was time for lunch.

Scamp suggested going to the gallery at Clachan of Campsie. I wasn’t so sure, because the last time we went there the place was ruled by a rather superior lady who was definitely doing us a favour by allowing us into her cafe and also allowing us to pay for our meal. I needn’t have worried. The place was under new management and my soup and a sandwich were very, very good. The chicken soup was quite thick, warming and although a bit tasteless to start with, benefitted greatly from a pinch of salt. The sandwich. Hmm. Who in their right mind would combine chunks of Brie with thin slices of apple and a drizzle of honey, yes honey then wrap them in slices of unbuttered brown bread? Absolute genius. In my mind it ranks with Beetroot and Cheese toasties and Cheese and Marmalade pieces (sandwiches to you if you’re english). Such a brilliant flavour combination. I’m going to make it for my lunch some time this week. Scamp doesn’t like honey and as it’s the hook the whole thing hangs on, she doesn’t get any. Scamp had lentil soup, poor soul. She missed the flavour bomb!
The down side of the Gallery was the gallery itself. The paintings were awful. Twee wee landscapes that I’ve grown out of and uninspired, dull landscapes in big frames. That’s not photography, that’s taking bad foties. However, the food was good and the service was with a smile. Oh yes, and we had a cake between us. A Vienna Sponge that tasted great. We will be back DV. Oh, by the way JIC, Wheelcraft is still there and still doing a roaring trade.

Drove up the Crow Road to the big carpark with the panoramic views around East Dunbartonshire. (There is that anomaly again. Dumbarton is the county town of Dunbartonshire. Why is it spelled differently then?) That’s where the landscape shot came from. Ok that’s where the landscape shot originated from before I painted in some sunny patches and darkened the sky , oh and … You get the idea, don’t you. It may be fake, but it’s better in my opinion than the insipid offerings in the Gallery.

Came home and Scamp wanted to make the most of the watery sunshine and almost two dry days, so she went to cut the grass. I took my camera down the Luggie with me to try to get a better shot a scene I’d seen yesterday. The light wasn’t as good as yesterday, but I was better prepared and at least one of the shots turned out like I wanted. The the beer can ‘installation’ is PoD, in case you hadn’t guessed.

Watched part of the Invictus Games tonight and Scott Meenagh was being interviewed after coming second in a race.  He used to go the Cumby High.  He was a bit of a pain until he discovered drama.  When he left school he joined the army and lost both legs when his Landrover hit an IED.   He became quite a celebrity at school and rightly so.  Someone for all the kids to look up to, but a warning to them at the same time.  It was good to see him making a name for himself, and a new life for himself too.

Don’t have any plans yet for tomorrow. It might involve swimming or the gym to keep my excitement in check and Salsa at night.

16 Oct

The Happy Wanderers – 15 September 2017

Today we took JIC and Sim to Devilla forest in Fife to have a walk through the trees.

Devilla is a Forestry Commission site with a fair bit of parking and a few interesting walks through well maintained woodland. At weekends it gets very busy, but on a Friday morning it wasn’t overrun. We started out in sunshine, but as we continued through, the clouds rolled in. Sim and I stopped to take some photos of the pond and later a black darter dragonfly that settled near us. There was also a brilliant green dragonfly that buzzed us, but didn’t want to settle. Then a black dog, not the Black Dog, just a labrador appeared and scared away the green dragonfly. It was as we were turning away we realised that Scamp and JIC were nowhere to be seen. I reckoned that they were ahead of us heading back to the car. Sim was of the mind that they’d taken the wrong turning, after passing the pond you see above, and were walking round the pond again. We headed back to the car, but the wanderers weren’t there. We sat and waited, then Sim phoned JIC and she had been right. They’d turned left rather than right when they passed the pond. Of course they hadn’t just walked the same path again, they’d gone ever further into the forest. Anyway, when they returned, it was time for lunch.

Lunch was in the Walled Garden, just along the road from the carpark. Food was fine and the cakes looked as good as they did the last time, but the coffee was almost as weak as Costa muck.

We drove to Pittencrieff park in Dunfermline for a walk around the flower beds. We went to get a photo opportunity of the ‘Fairy Castle’ that is in reality the City Chambers, but didn’t bother to visit the town itself. Best to view it from a distance.

Drove over the new Queensferry Crossing which was mildly mobbed. Not as bad as I thought it would be, but we were going north to south. South to north was a different story, with traffic attempting to merge from ever available angle.

Later we dropped JIC and Sim at Chris’s house in Caldercruix. The first time I’ve been there since John and I picked up Andy Taylor and took him to school, easily 25 years ago. It’s not improved.

Tomorrow after we drop ‘The Kids’ off, we may go out somewhere, although the weather doesn’t look a patch on today’s.

16 Oct

A sea of green – 28 May 2017

I thought it would be a good idea to go down The Green this morning for a wee walk.  So did a few thousand others, it seemed.

I’d made the fatal mistake of forgetting that yesterday twenty two men had been running around a green field chasing a ball in the rain  Eleven of them got a trophy for doing the running better than the other eleven.  The ones who won the trophy were wearing green and white shirts.  The losers were wearing red.  Today we were driving against a sea of green and white tee shirts.  Luckily.  If we had been going the other way, in the direction the crowd were going, we would still be waiting in that traffic jam.  Also, we started out fairly early and the traffic was light.  Later, when we were coming home the traffic queue was from Parkhead to the slip road from the motorway, in fact they were queueing along the inside lane of the westbound M80, a distance of about 5 miles!  Fanaticism!

However, it didn’t really affect us.  We drove to the People’s Palace and parked there then went for a walk along The Green to the McLennan Arch and back along the riverside to the suspension bridge.  Along the way I spotted on Mr McGivern who was the bane of my life for the last two years as a PT.  He worked two days of the two years he was meant to be with us.  A ghost of a man who screwed the system and probably still does so.  I didn’t speak to him.

We stood on the suspension bridge and watched the people rowing up and down the river.  Young and old, fit and unfit, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the sunshine, especially after yesterday’s rain.  We headed for home after that, without even our usual tea ’n’ toast or roll ’n’ sausage.

It was on the way home we saw the extent of fandom for Celtic.  So glad we were going the other way.  After lunch and a pretty boring Monaco GP, I drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the canal to Twechar and back along the railway path.  Saw a Humming Bird Hawk Moth.  The first time I’ve seen one in Scotland.  Photo wasn’t all that good, because I was using the Teazer and it’s not really designed for my kind of macro photography.  Should have taken the Oly 10 as a banker.  Next time, yes, next time.  It was when I was crossing the plantation I saw Bolt.  That’s his name and his photo is at the top of the page.  Cheery wee guy and PoD.

Dinner was roast chicken with cabbage (because it was there) and potatoes.  Lovely warm day and I well exceeded my step count.

Tomorrow, no Gems, but it’s forecast for rain.

16 Oct

No rain today – 14 May 2017

Well, today we were prepared for a total downpour and it didn’t happen, which was nice.

To make the most of this little surprise gift, we went for a drive.  I knew where I was going, but Scamp hadn’t a clue.  We were going to Devilla Forest in Fife.  We’d passed it many, many times on the way to other places like Dunfermline and Burntisland, but never stopped to investigate it.  It wasn’t until our last bus journey to Dunfermline it had lodged in my brain as a possible place for a walk.

It just over half an hour to get there and there was a nice big parking area.  We decided to do the fairly easy (45mins) and short Red Squirrel walk along to and round a little loch.  The path was fairly good underfoot, wide and winding through the pine trees.  Unfortunately, no squirrels of any colour were available for photographs today.  The best wildlife we saw, in fact the only wildlife was a pair of mallards on the little loch.  That said, the trees were alive with the sound of, not music, but birdlife.  Hidden wildlife.  A very enjoyable walk and one we’ll build on this summer we hope.

I had also noticed that the next turning on the road lead to a plant nursery and where there is a plant nursery these days, there’s a tea shop.  So it was with The Walled Garden.  Beautiful panoramic views across Fife from the parking area and that’s what got my PoD award.  The tea shop was fairly decent, par for the course and better than Dobbies.  Scamp got a Potentilla for the toilet bowl planter in the back garden.

When I came home there was enough time to go for a quick walk to loosen up my sore leg before dinner and I grabbed the opportunity to stride out along the Forth & Clyde Canal.  Didn’t get many more photos, but although the clouds were threatening, I stayed dry.

Haven’t seen the weather for tomorrow.  It’ll be a surprise.

16 Oct

Happy Birthday to Me – 8 April 2017

Another year older.

After I opened my birthday prezzies this morning (thank you all!) and had my breakfast, it was time to head out.  My choice of destination.  I chose Broadford and that’s where we went today.  It’s ages since I’ve been to Broadford.  Obviously, we’ve passed through it ever time we come to Skye, but we rarely stop and get out of the car there.  Hazy phoned me just as we stopped and parked.  Had a pleasant talk with her, even if the temperature she was talking about down there was almost twice what we were enduring.  That said, they have the weather, we have the scenery and we were staring out  the windscreen at that sort of scenery.  Out across the water was the pier  and the youth hostel.   But, as Scamp said, no dolphins.  You can’t have everything.

We went for a walk along the shore walk, then down the road before Scamp found a coffee shop where we stopped for a coffee and a scone.  Unfortunately, it was a cheese scone and I ordered it with butter AND JAM.  Apparently, you don’t have jam on a cheese scone.  Coffee was the best I’ve had on the island with the exception of Jackie’s of course.  It was just after I started it, I discovered that I didn’t have my phone.  Oh dear, did I drop it on the walk or did I leave it in the car?  Only one way to find out.  I had to curtail my coffee and go find out.  It was in the car.  Thank you, the birthday fairies who look after lost phones.

Drove back up the road and parked ourselves by the slip to watch the waves and listen to the birds.  Went looking for photos and found that there were even more wee men parked around the boathouse.  I don’t know who is planting them there, but whoever they are, they have a great supply of araldite to weld them to the stone.

Drove Scamp back to the house and dumped the day’s photos on the Mac before venturing out for the last sortie of the week, up again to Loch Gangaig.  On the way there I caught sight of a couple of walkers up on a ridge heading for the Quiraing.  I was cold a couple of thousand feet below them and with the comfort of the car beside me, I’d imagine they were much colder and less comfortable where they were.  Got a few photos of the loch and one or two of the wee lochan I’d visited yesterday.  After that, there was nothing for it but to head back to Burnside for a dram and a plate of Mince ’n’ Tatties.  Superb.  Thank you Jackie.

Tomorrow, we drive south.

16 Oct

Ten hours in a … car – 5 April 2017

Driving to Skye always makes me think of the John Mayall track, Vacation.  Not quite ten hours, but more than seven hours pounding the asphalt, travelling north-west.  Average speed, just over 42mph, but that’s because we are driving on ‘A’ roads for the most part.  In the seven hours we travelled, we could have flown to Italy, Malta or Cyprus, but we drove to Skye.  Weather – worse, scenery- no contest!!

Arrived just after 5pm after starting on time at 10am.  Just missed seeing Harry Styles for One Direction getting out of a helicopter at the Old Man of Storr.  Such a pity, even if I don’t know who Harry Styles or One Direction is!

Went for a walk to Staffin shore to relieve the aches in my legs and succeeded in doing just that.  Got some photos from the shore to bolster the pics from Loch Mealt that I took earlier.  Wish I’d brought my full size Manfrotto tripod, but the mini version worked well.

Chicken Curry for dinner tonight with a strong whisky and  a beer to finish with.

Hoping for a lazy start tomorrow and not too much driving.

16 Oct

Bow Tie – 14 January 2017

Firstly, you will have noticed that there is no photo of the bow tie.  That’s because it’s not quite finished yet.  It’s a prototype, made from a pillowslip, not something you’d expect to wear to a posh do, but essential as a practise piece.  I learned a lot from making it and I made it exactly as if it was made from the finest silk.  I stuck closely to the instructions and followed every step.  I made mistakes along the way, but hopefully I have learned from them.  Tomorrow I hope to iron (yes, along the way I’ve also learned how to iron) the prototype and finish off the sewing.  I might even try to tie it.  Every day’s a school day.

After the sewing session, we drove to Vecchia Bologna for lunch.  The place was mobbed, Scamp said it was the end of an Itison voucher offer.  We had to wait a little longer than usual for the food, but when it came, it was as good as ever.  Neither of us wanted or particularly needed anything in Stirling, so we just drove home and I went out for a walk through the ice and snow to St Mo’s.  Managed to surprise two deer, but the quality was so poor, they didn’t get published.  I did, however like the shots from the Oly 5 with the 9mm lens and that’s what you see above.

Tonight, I made some scones and have bread proving as I write this hoping to get it baked later.  Baking scones, baking bread, sewing and ironing.  Don’t tell me I’m not in touch with my feminine side!

As a bit of serendipity, you should read what I wrote last year on the 14th of January.  There should be a link to ‘A Year Ago Today’ at the bottom of the right hand column.  Navigate to the 14th from there.  Amazing synchronicity!


16 Oct

Cauld day in the Toon – 13 January 2017

We went in to Glasgow, drove into Glasgow.  The ring road was still being dug up and we weren’t sure the buses were running normally and besides, we didn’t want to be sitting in a bus whose heater was pumping out cold air for 45minutes.  That’s one of the reasons we bought a car.

I bought myself some interfacing for stiffening the cloth I’m going to make a bow tie with.  Got it in JL (didn’t get it delivered!) for £1.50!  The bowtie itself, the prototype, will be made from an old pillow case.  That’s the essentials bought.  This weekend I’ll try to put it into practice.

After JL we walked down Bucky Street and on to Argyle Street, then up Miller Street to Paesano.  For the first time ever, we had to wait for a table.  When we got one five minutes later the food was just as good as ever.

After being fed, we went for a coffee in Café Nero in St Enoch’s.  Scamp went to wander round the St Enoch’s Centre and I went to do a quick sketch of the suspension bridge over the Clyde.  It’s rough, but it’s done and it’s on time.

When we got home, Scamp realised that she had fogotten to post a card in town, so I volunteered to post it in Condorrat.  I took my camera of course and that’s where the sunset shot came from.  It’s more a gloaming shot really.  Gloaming means more than sunset.  It’s that golden hour before the sun sets and it’s also the afterglow from the set sun.

Gloaming.  Make it a word you use some time today, in its correct context.

16 Oct

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.

16 Oct

First sketch of 2017 – 3 January 2017

Ordered a sewing machine last week to progress my dressmaking skills. Ordered it from John Lewis in Emba because the Glasgow shop didn’t have it.  I thought it could be delivered to the Glasgow store and I could pick it up from there.  No, they couldn’t do that because the machine was in the Embra shop, not in a warehouse (?)  Maybe that’s a logical reason to JL, but it made no sense to me.  Anyway I wasn’t in a rush to get it and there was no way I was going to drive through Embra to pick it up.  I was told it would be delivered within five working days.  I phoned the Embra shop this morning to find out which day it would be delivered.  Here is a synopsis of the conversation after I’d explained that I wanted to know which day it would arrive:

“It will be delivered within five working days”
“Could you be more precise” I asked?
“Eh no.  We don’t actually deliver it.  Because it’s a small article, it will be delivered by a carrier.” *
“So will I get a phone call or an email to tell me which day it will be delivered?”
*“No, but it will be delivered either today, tomorrow or the next day”

Now surprising as it might seem, I can count to five and then add on the extra days for weekends and holidays.
“So you’re telling me that in a company as large as John Lewis, and in this day and age, you can’t tell me the DAY that my sewing machine will be delivered?”
”Yes, that’s correct.”
“Well, that wasn’t very helpful at all.”

Now, remind me.  This is the 21st century, isn’t it?  Imagine if I was working and had to take five days off my work on the off chance that my sewing machine was going to be delivered that day.  I’ve bought a lot of stuff from JL in  the past, but I’m afraid those days are now in the past.  I had thought of buying an iMac from them because they offer an extra year’s warranty, but as their delivery methods are so archaic, I think I’ll shop elsewhere.

Out at lunchtime for coffee with Fred.  No Val today as he was otherwise engaged.  Good natter with lots of laughter.

Walked over to St Mo’s when I came back and got the first sketch of 2017 completed in about 15 minutes.  I keep meaning to time my sketches.  Must do it with the next one.  Two wee boys were passing St Mo’s when I was sketching.  I heard them laughing and looked up to see one of them posing for me.  I laughed and so did they.  Just wee boys.  An old man passed behind me soon after and he seemed to be struggling along with a stick.  He seemed bemused and looked as if he was wondering what I’d found to draw in this urban landscape.  But that’s it.  It’s Urban Sketching.

I got some sunset shots with the Oly 5 and processed them according to Laura Shoe’s video  and was quite impressed with the effect.  I’ll use that method of combining basic adjustments with an overlay of graduated filter.

June came over for dinner tonight and she and Scamp had a good gossip about everything and anything.

Tomorrow?  Don’t know.  Haven’t seen the weather.