15 Dec

Coffee – 15 December 2017

Today I was going for coffee, but not with the usual company.

The Campsie Fells enticed me to do a wee watercolour. It’s the snow that makes the hills so interesting. It smooths the shape, levelling everything out, but at the same time it enhances the ravines that cut their way down the slopes. Thankfully the snow didn’t quite reach us, because although it’s nice to look at, to paint and to photograph, it’s not so great to fight your way through.

By the time it was finished, it was time to drive to the town centre for coffee with Shona and Scamp. Usually I have no problems getting parked in Tesco car park, but today it was chock a block. No room at the inn and non in Tesco car park either. The only solution was to park in the main center car park, across the dual carriageway. I spotted a few spaces in the far away area of the car park and headed there. Then I found the reason for those empty parking spaces. None of the roads or pedestrian areas had been gritted or cleared of snow. Three days of thawing during the day and freezing at night had made the paths un-walkable. Where the snow and ice had melted and re-frozen, the suface was like a sheet of glass. Worse, it was like a sheet of glass with water running over it. Not good for walking on, but the company who own the town centre don’t care. They seem to think that having provided a car park, they don’t need to maintain it as well. Dobbers.

Had coffee with Shona and Scamp then gave Shona run home. I was surprised at the amount of snow still lying where she lives. We have no lying snow and we live only about two miles from Shona.

When I came home, the weather looked good and I reckoned I would manage an hour of decent light, so it was boots on and grab a camera time. The paths here are just as bad as those up at the town centre and the bin that was half full of salt grit last week was now lying empty. It won’t be filled again until next autumn. Saw a couple of deer in the woods of St Mo’s and managed to get a clear shot of one of them. The hills that had impressed me were turning pink as I climbed the mound at the end of the forest. I took a series of shots at varying zoom settings. What you see above was my favourite and became PoD.

Scamp sensibly decided to forego the delights of the choir carol concert tonight as the temperature dropped down to just above zero again. I think that was the right decision.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow in the morning to get the pain over with early!

15 Dec

Snow and Ice – 25 November 2017

Well, for once I stayed true to my intentions. This morning I went for a cold walk in the ice and snow.

Spotted a deer standing near a pond in St Mo’s, not the big pond, but a smaller one deeper in the trees. Got a few shots of it before it took fright, bringing a bigger deer with it. I’d have liked to have got a bit closer, but that wasn’t going to happen. I was wearing my red Bergy jacket and it doesn’t blend in well with the dark trees. However I did get a few shots and that was good because I hadn’t seen any deer in St Mo’s for ages. However, it was the high key photo of Cow Parsley that won PoD.

Came back and had a shower while Scamp made some tea and toast. Lovely! That is both Scamp and the tea and toast were lovely! Scamp thought we should go in to Glasgow on the bus and I thought that was a good idea too. We took the slow bus, the X3 in and surprisingly, the driver (David, I think) was an FP. Glasgow and especially JL was absolutely jumping. I heard one woman sayin “They’re going absolutely crazy over there.” I don’t know where ‘over there’ was, but folk seemed to have decided that today was the last shopping day before Christmas, grabbing anything they could get their hands on.

We decided the Glasgow visit was a bad idea, but we’d go for lunch anyway and Pulcinella was nominated as today’s restaurant. It was a bit cold in the restaurant, but the food was as good as ever. Scamp had Minestrone and Spaghetti Pulcinella and I had Pasta e Faglioli and Penne Amatriciana, all of which was excellent.

We walked back up to Sauchiehall Street and Scamp investigated clothes shops while I browsed the book shop. After that it was coffee, a cake and home on the X3 again after just missing the much faster X28. All of this was done in a temperature that claimed it was 2ºc. I don’t believe that.

That was about it. When we got home I tried again to get the Photos app to do what I wanted and eventually gave up. Fortunately I chanced on a website that said it was still possible to download iPhoto. I was never all that enamoured of iPhoto, but I was sure it would do what I wanted. I was right. It is a much better photo management tool than the dire Photos will ever be until Apple get their finger out and make it work properly. The upshot is that my 2018 calendar is almost finished. Well, version 1 is almost finished. There will be further versions before we get to print.

Mentioning print, I think that will be tomorrow’s task, the testing and price checking of the short leet of printers to replace the old Canon Pixma whose demise I still mourn.

15 Dec

Deepan’ Crispan’ Deevan’ – 21 March 2017

It’s snow, of course and that’s what we woke to today.  Not that deep and not that crisp as the temperature was three above zero and very uneven.  In fact it was just a scraping of show, but then, as I was making the breakfast, the snow returned, blown along by Windy Willie’s wild westerly wind.  Now, that’s what you call alliteration!

Once we realised that we wouldn’t be snowed in any time soon, we decided to go to Falkirk to retrieve a ring, a substitute wedding ring, that Scamp had handed in last week for repair.  Not long after I retired we went to Ayr and Scamp tripped and damaged her hand.  I thought her finger was broken, but it was just badly staved.  So badly staved that the wedding ring had to be cut off because it was restricting the blood supply to her finger.  That was almost three years ago.  It took a long time to get the ring repaired, but today we picked it up from the jeweller looking as good as new.  Driving home was a challenge with torrential rain, hail and sleet driving straight towards us.

When we got home and had lunch, the wet stuff had stopped and the sun had come out again, so it was boots on and out to St Mo’s.  I took the Big Dog with the macro lens and the E-PL5 with a 20mm lens.  A nice combo.  Just waked into the woods and saw two deer grazing down the path.  They were crosswind to me, so didn’t sniff my deodorant I crept down the path walking on the grass, not on the broken twigs, so they didn’t hear me either.  It would have been better to have brought the 300mm Tamron, but the macro gives such good quality results that I wasn’t all that worried.  The landscape is from the 20mm lens, another good quality lens.

Got home and did a bit of messing around painting the hills with snow on them.  Four miniatures in different colour schemes and another four ready for finishing tomorrow.

Tomorrow?  Not got a clue.  According to the weatherman, the snow will be gone and the weather is set fine.  As usual, we’ll see.

15 Dec

Russian around Glasgow – 24 February 2017

We made a late decision to go to Glasgow today.  The other option was Falkirk, but the finger finally fell (alliteration of ‘F’) on Glasgow because we wanted to buy some ‘Trinny’ stuff to make dinner on Sunday, and we didn’t think Morrison’s would have plantain, dasheen or cassava, but Solly’s African Shop in the West End probably did.  Or two out of three as it turned out.

Got the bus in because that meant we could both have a drink with our lunch.  I wanted some water based markers in Cass Art or Millers so we headed down Buchanan Street, then along Argyle Street.  Scamp suggested we should have lunch in Charcoal’s cafe on Argyle Street and I thought that was a good choice.  However, when we got there, it looked closed and although there was a sign outside, there was no lights on inside and no customers.  I was ready to head back to Paesano pizza shop when Scamp said why didn’t we try the Russian place, Cossachok.  I’ll admit that I wasn’t all that keen.  The a la carte menu didn’t look very inspiring, but it was open and it was busy and we’d often passed it and said we must try it.  Yes, we had to give it a chance.  I had Borscht which I’d heard of, but never tasted and for a main I had Golubtzi which was cabbage roll stuffed with mince served in a spicy tomato sauce.  Scamp had Olivie which was like vegetable salad which we both remembered having back in the ‘60s! Her main was Mama’s Blinis which was minced chicken in a thin pancake, served with a creamy spinach sauce.  I’d have borscht again, definitely, but the golubtzi was really quite hot.  Scamp didn’t like the spinach sauce because it had a caramel taste.  That said, the lunch was cheap, filling and tasty.  What else can you ask for.  Next time I’ll have Russian coffee which is espresso with vodka and whipped cream.  A strange mixture.  There will be a next time!

Got the subway out to Kelvinbridge and investigated two Caribbean food shops.  Both had most of our ingredients, but only one had the plantain we were looking for.  Neither had dasheen.  We came home with plantain, coconut and cassava. It looks like Sunday dinner will be Stewed Chicken with Fried Plantain and the possibility of Coconut Ice Cream.  Subway back and coffee before we got the bus home.  Only the advert above as a possible PoD.  I thought it was exactly what you do on the subway and exactly what I was doing.  I was avoiding catching the eye of the three Chinese (?), Japanese (?), Korean (?), yes, Korean girls sitting opposite.  They looked like three little maids from school (yes, I know that’s Japanese) and seemed to find the adverts funny too!  Good advert, well worded.

Tonight’s other picture was taken after I had finished today’s ’28 Drawings Later …’ sketch which is here.  I wanted something simple to draw and paint and the two sheep worked well for that.  I needed something to recreate the mottled finish on the salt & peppers and decided to try out the salt technique where you sprinkle salt on a wet wash and allow it to dry before dusting it off.  According to the books, it works with sand too, but I’d never tried either.  I did a quick test using salt from my mum’s old bakelite salt cellar and the result was exactly what I wanted.  The photo shows the tools I used for the painting including the salt cellar.  Remember it anyone?

Yesterday’s snow and this morning’s ice is nearly all gone now, so I think we’re going down to visit Dorothy tomorrow.  Strong winds forecast for overnight, but hopefully they should have calmed down by tomorrow.

15 Dec

Geese – 15 January 2017

Half past one in the afternoon and I’m standing in the middle of an old coup that was previously a spoil tip for a coal mine. Now it’s just wilderness and I’m watching and listening to skein after skein of geese flying overhead heading north. What do they know that we don’t?

That was written much earlier in the day.  I’d cycled to the tip and by the time I was heading for home, an hour and a half later, the skeins were flying west, south and occasionally north, but not east.  By that time the light was failing and I imagine that these birds had been flying since first light some eight hours earlier and are now looking for somewhere to roost for the night.  There are quite a few fields around Cumbersheugh where geese feed and then roost.  That would explain the apparently contradictory flight paths.  It was great listening to the skeins as they ‘talked’ to each other.  Some will say that’s not true, that they don’t communicate, but if you listen, it does sound like they are sharing information with each other.

While I was walking around the tip, I got a few shots of folk on top of the Kirkie Volcano.  It’s really a pit bing (spoil heap), but from this angle it looks just like a volcano.  One day I’m going to walk up it and take some photos from the top.  East Dunbarton Council should really make it into a visitor attraction with a wee coffee shop at the top.  It would make a fortune.  I may suggest it to them.

It was a lovely day today with a few showers of rain, but the temperature was decent, very decent for the time of year with highs of just over 10ºc.  Not quite shorts and tee shirts weather, but not far off it.  I did wander around in my shorts for a while, but it was too cool to cycle in them.  I saw the moss fruiting bodies (Green Blobs) when I was putting my cycling ‘longs’ (the opposite of shorts) back on and was quite impressed with the colour the camera caught.

Tomorrow is back to Gems in the afternoon, so I need somewhere to go.  Not sure where yet.  😉

15 Dec

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!


15 Dec

Snow – 12 January 2017

Today dawned with snow on the ground.  Within fifteen minutes, there was snow in  the air too, but no time to gaze admiringly at it.  We had to be showered, breakfasted and on our way to Wishaw General Hospital ASAP.

Tried driving the M73 on to the M74, but it was gridlocked, so change of plan Nº 1.  I’d come off at the M8 intersection and take the M73 back to Cumbersheugh and thence through Airdrie – a nightmare at this time of the morning with the school run in full swing, but at least the traffic would be moving.  Change of plan Nº 2.  The M8 looked clear and running well, so round the roundabout and on to it.  At the very least, we were heading east (the right direction).  The rest of the journey was without incident.

Arrived at the hospital to find that the computer hub was down and nobody could access patients’ notes.  However, we were seen within minutes and twenty minutes later Scamp was ‘under the knife’ so to speak.  After the procedure was complete, we drove home unfortunately squashing a fox on the way.  Poor thing had no chance, and I had no chance to avoid it.  Such a shame.

By the time we got home, the sky was blue once again and I managed a walk across to St Mo’s.  Not a lot of interest to photograph, but I liked the water drops on the cow parsley.  Where would I be without cow parsley?  The female mallard seemed to be paddling around in a dream and I got quite a few shots of it.  By the time I was coming home,  the blue sky was gone and the snow had started again.

Tonight there hasn’t been any more snow but it was freezing hard the last time I was out.  More snow and wind forecast for tomorrow.

15 Dec

Ice and a Fiery Temper – 5 December 2016


Woke this morning to sub-zero temperatures, ok it was -0.7º, but it was below zero and that counts.

By the time I got up and showered, the temp had risen to just above zero and it was brightening up nicely, so I wrapped up warm and grabbed the Nikon to go get some photos of the urban deer.  It was a good plan,  the only thing missing was the aforementioned deer.  They weren’t to be seen.  Imagine that, they were up and out before me!  Amazing.  Got some photos of some backlit weeds – backlighting is always good in the low winter sun.  When we were in Glasgow yesterday, I was sort of admiring some photos by a photog who was using 00 gauge figures in a variety of situations.  ‘Sort of’ because I wasn’t impressed with the actual photos which were unremarkable, but I’d forgotten about my own attempts with these tiny figures.  I kept seeing situations this morning where I could pose my mini-men.  I’m intending digging them out tonight and having a go at some mini-men scenarios tomorrow when I have the house to myself.

Photos turned out better than I’d hoped.  I think my favourite was the skating Coot.  It reminded me of the painting “Revd Dr Robert Walker (1755 – 1808) Skating on Duddingston Loch” by Sir Henry Raeburn (Google it).  It doesn’t really look like it, it just reminds me of it.  That was my favourite, but PoD goes to the frozen feather.

This afternoon when Gems were doing their singing practise I went to the gym and the pool for an hour or so.  It was a very pleasant hour or so too.  Sauna wasn’t all that hot, but the steam room was.  Even managed a few lengths.

Kizomba tonight was the end of the road for me.  I’ve taken as much as I can take of assistant teacher, Levis’s Mr Cool antics.  Yes, he’s quite stylish, but when the class has just managed to achieve even numbers because Kaye, the teacher, is dancing, that is not the time for Mr Cool to cut in and push a paying customer, me, out to be a wallflower.  I don’t like being the wallflower and I don’t do it quietly now.  That’s why I made a fuss tonight and complained to his boss about his attitude.  I also told her that was the reason I wasn’t coming back.  It did seem to cause a bit of a kerfuffle and an extended discussion with Shannon under whose auspices the class runs.  It also forced Levis to come and apologise to me although he didn’t seem to understand why.  It made no difference to me.  That was my last Kizomba class with them.  Maybe I’m just a silly old man to him.  He’ll find out I’m a vociferous and angry old man too.  I feel sorry for Scamp, because she was enjoying the class.  I wasn’t and I’d already told her I would give it until Christmas and then evaluate the situation.

The foregoing left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth, but it had to be resolved.  There’s no point in complaining to Scamp and shouting the odds.  Better to get these things out in the open then, maybe they will learn from their mistakes.  Salsa took the bad taste away and with three new moves to remember and Jamie Gal’s inevitable tall stories , it didn’t take long to put a smile back on my face.

Tomorrow is another day and it’s going to be a painting day, I think.  Well, that and a trip into Glasgow to retrieve Scamp’s boots that she left at the STUC tonight!

15 Dec

An Early Rise – 25 November 2016


Up and out of bed before 8.00 this morning, but it wasn’t the desire to take photos in the frost that was sparkling in the morning air that got me up, it was someone knocking the front door.  It turned out to be the wrong address.  The gas man was actually looking for the bloke next door.  However, it did get me up and that led to me achieving yesterday’s target.

Walked through St Mo’s and got a few photos, some of which are in the matrix above.  There was quite thick fog when I left the house with a temperature of -5.6ºc, but when I reached St Mo’s a few minutes later, the fog had gone, taking with it my chance of some ethereal early morning shots.  I did see a deer, but it was far to far away and moving like the wind.

By the time I got home, Scamp was scraping her car and since I was meeting Fred for coffee later, I decided to clean mine too.  The joker who lives a couple of doors down had parked next to me last night and left my car in the shade of the early morning sun that I’d hoped would have thawed it out.  People should think before they park next to me.  So it was frozen hands for me before lunch, but at least the windscreen was clear.

Met Fred for coffee and swap shop.  2 CDs from him to me.  1CD from me to him.  Not a lot to discuss today and I think the cold is getting to all of us.  He’d done some sketches of course and so had I, but not as many from each of us as we’d had in the past.

img_3579-flickrFred had to leave early so I did too.  I walked along the Luggie again and, probably with the thought of sketching in my head, got a quick sketch of a bridge done.  Not the most beautiful structure, but  architecturally interesting and demanding from a perspective viewpoint.  It’s not quite finished, but it was quite cold and my fingers were getting numb and I’d got a likeness of it.  I had my leather gloves with me, the expensive ones.  Two pairs for a fiver in Perth one year!  I should have worn the fingerless gloves Hazy gave me to keep my hands warm but my fingers free.  They’re not just for FOTO GRA4s! (in joke).  They’re going in my jacket pocket tonight.  I got some photos down the Luggie too.

From the 44 photos I took today, I whittled them down to 14 and from that I chose my 5 favourites.  That’s what you see above in the matrix.

Be careful how you touch the blog today as it might still be a bit greasy, that’s because dinner was a small fish supper for Scamp and a special fish supper for me (fish in breadcrumbs) eaten with the fingers of course.  I was feeling generous, so I shared my special fish with Scamp.

Looks like it won’t be quite as cold tomorrow.  Ice is nice as long as it doesn’t stay too long.