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Snow. Snow. Thick, Thick Snow – 19 January 2018

When we woke this morning it had been snowing during the night, but the strangest news that NLC had decided that all schools in the region would close at midday. Unheard of for eight years. Is this the end of Global Warming? Does this mean that Donald Trump is right?

It’s winter. In winter it snows. If it’s a bad winter, it snows a lot. That does not mean the end of the world, or even the beginning of the end. It just means that it’s winter. Live with it. It doesn’t mean that Global Warming is not happening, it just means that the seven year cycle thing has a bit of truth in it. This is the cold winter that happens about every seven years of so.

Today we drove in to Glasgow to buy a new microwave. The stop button on our old one had, indeed, stopped working. I could say that we were looking for a more efficient one to help reduce the effects of GW, but that would be cynical and I’m not a cynic! ;-D)))))
We went to JL, because they were the cheapest for the model we were looking for and they give an extra year’s guarantee. While we were browsing the incredible selection of microwave models we discovered that yet another Scottish celeb was following us. Sanjeev Kohli AKA Navid from Still Game, AKA AJ Jandhu from River City was pretending to be considering the purchase of a fridge freezer, while constantly trying to see what we were buying. Last month it was Nicola Sturgeon AKA Nick the Chick who was stalking us through the mens wear department. In November it was Leah MacRae who plays Ellie McLean in River City who was trying to hear what we were saying in a beachside bar in Tenerife. Before that it was Wee Boab from the same soap who followed us to Costa in Robroyston. Don’t these people have their own lives to lead? Why must they live their lives vicariously through ours? I’d offer them an autograph, but that would only encourage them. Anyway, we eventually shook off Mr K and got the microwave we were looking for.

The weather did look as if it was closing in when we left Glasgow and I was glad to just drive home and get parked up before the predicted snow hit. When we got home, the sky was lightening again and I thought I’d risk an hour or so in St Mo’s to augment the few shots I’d got in Glasgow. I had just arrived back home when the snow stared. It was on and off all night after that. Tonight’s dinner was chicken cooked in the gas oven and baked potatoes cooked in the fancy new microwave. I was impressed with both.

PoD today was Mr Grey who looked imperious, stalking through the reeds on St Mo’s pond, and NO, the middle pic is not mum.

We may stay at home tomorrow if the snow is still falling. That will also put off the autograph hunters.

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A walk in the park – 18 January 2018

Today I was the driver, taking Scamp to her hospital appointment.

Scamp thought she’d be about an hour and we were in the wilderness of Springburn, so what was I going to do for an hour in this place? Well, there was a park nearby I could see people in the park but I couldn’t find a way in to it. I think I drove almost right round it and every entrance was locked and chained. Was it to keep the locals out or the wild beasts of the park in? There was a polis car parked inside. That wasn’t a good sign. Then I found a line of cars parked in the street beside a pedestrian gate. Aha, so this is how you get in! I walked around a big pond, but there was nothing interesting to photograph. Then I found a path that took me up a hill and on top of it was what must have been a boating pond. It was now half frozen and in the thawed out half there were hundreds of ducks. That’s where my PoD came from. The one above. It’s a Tufted Duck. We sometimes get them in St Mo’s, but I’ve not seen any this year. I always think they look like Daffy Duck. I also saw duck footprints, or maybe they were Coot footprints impressed into the ice and that’s what the other shot is It was a toss up to decide what pic would be PoD, but Tufty won.

That was about it for the day. I did a bit of retail therapy at Currys in Bishopbriggs, looking for a microwave to replace our un-switchoffable present one. I also sneaked a look at 7″ tablets to replace my ageing Nexus 7 which was dragging its heels a bit. However, when I got home I researched the problem and decided that a factory reset might solve the problem. It looks as if it has. My fingers are still crossed, but it looks as if it has regained its previous speed. Now I just have to find out how to do a factory reset on a Panasonic microwave. That might be a bit more difficult.

Well, the snow is gradually disappearing and the rain that’s fallen today has helped with that. However, there’s more work to be done. Tomorrow, we have no plans.  It depends, as usual, on the weather.

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Under the Bridges – 9 December 2017

So, what of the day then? Well, it was cold when we woke this morning, sub-zero in fact.

We’d half intended to go to Embra, but as we both slept a little longer than we’d intended and as we then read a little longer than we’d intended, it was really too late to go to ‘Auld Reekie’ today. Instead we decided to go to South Queensferry. It’s a great place on a cold, bright, clear day and today fulfilled those specifications perfectly. Surprisingly, we found a parking place right away and then when we walked through the main car park we found there were lots of spaces. After yesterday’s experience, I guessed that everyone was in Embra or Glasgow today, frantically searching for just the right gift for someone. Maybe someone they don’t particularly like, while that other person is also searching for something someone else won’t like Both of these ‘gifts’ will soon find themselves in the council tip or in a charity shop. The recipients will be ultimately disappointed and the buyers will be out of pocket. The only winners from Xmas are the shops. Will I be taking part. Of course I will, because that’s part of the game, isn’t it?  We walked under the old bridge and that’s where most of the photos came from.  PoD was of the pillars, top right.

There were a lot of Asian tourists here. Maybe they were on a visiting cruise ship, or maybe it was just the one family and we just kept meeting different groups of them. We seemed to bump into them a few times as we walked along under the railway bridge. After that, we walked through the town of South Queensferry and Scamp remembered us sitting outside in a pub courtyard in warmer days, and as it was a pub courtyard, and there would be beer involved, it must have been a few years ago in more relaxed times. She also liked the way spaces in the lines of shops had been used to provide windows on the Forth and the bridge, the old bridge, the real Forth Bridge. She’s developing a good eye, is Scamp.

I think Scamp was really set on having lunch in the Italian restaurant we’ve been to a few times in Queensferry, but when we passed a second time, it was empty. An empty restaurant is not a good sign, so she made the decision to go to a busy one we’d passed. The fact that it had big picture windows was not a factor, honest. We had burgers for lunch. Chicken for Scamp and beef for me. Both lovely. I even had a Becks Blue with 0.05% alcohol, while Scamp had a latte. The only drawback was that the picture windows on to the main street had the low, bright sun shining straight in my eyes. I eventually gave in and allowed Scamp to move round the table so that I could sit with my back to the sun. The bonus was that we could both watch the tiny wee trains passing over the Forth Bridge.

Paid for lunch, walked back to the car and drove home. Took a wrong turning on the way and got the sat nav to help us out of our difficulty. It took us down a single track road, round a very posh looking farm conversion and then back along the single track onto the main road, then got us onto the M8/M9 perfectly with ease. I presume the detour round the posh houses was its version of ‘perform a U-turn when possible.’


Still cold tonight with the threat of snow. So, as to what we’re doing tomorrow, as Scamp says, it all depends on the weather.

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Storm Doris – 23 February 2017

We didn’t actually have Storm Doris, we just had the snow that she was dragging with her.  Woke to a winter wonderland.  Lovely white snow everywhere.  Unfortunately Fred and Val and I were supposed to be going for coffee this afternoon, but when Fred sent me a text at about 10am, I knew it was bad news.  He couldn’t get out of his estate and as there is no bus service there, we agreed to postpone.  I phoned Val to tell him the bad news, I don’t think he was all that impressed, but if there’s one thing that retirement is good for, it’s not having to go out when you don’t feel like it, and we didn’t feel like it.

Sat around for a while watching the snow quickly turn to slush. Put the cases up in the loft.  Defrosted a couple of loaves and set them to rise.  Had the rest of the soup for lunch.  Walked over to Condorrat and then back through St Mo’s but found little to photograph, eventually settling on water droplets on the trees.

It was a bit of a wasted day, really.  Finally settled on snow as a subject for today’s sketch.  Even that took two attempts and by that time the snow was almost gone, but a bit of a watercolour wash rescued the few pen lines I used and made it look decent enough.

Bread looks as if it’s baked well.  Made one loaf into rolls and they look and smell a bit like Jaime’s Hop Bread.

Sitting eating Jub Jubs – sweeties from Triniday.  Jub Jub was my mum’s word for gums or jellies.

Tomorrow we will, hopefully, go out.  Somewhere.  Anywhere.

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All Good Things … 10 April 2016

combo bAfter breakfast we packed up the car and pointed it south. Made fairly good time all the way down the road. Stopped off at Spean Bridge for lunch which for me was a mega breakfast of bacon, link sausage, lorne sausage, haggis, black pudding, fried egg, beans, tattie scone, toast and tea all for £7.95. Scamp had a chicken burger which was uninspiring. Should have had the mega breakfast, even if as a semi-veggy you’d have had to donate your sausages and bacon to me.

Back on the road we continued south and stopped just past the Clachaig Inn so I could take some photos. The first of the day. I wanted some shots looking back at Loch Achtriachtan – bottom right. I also got a decent shot looking the other way up the glen towards the Pass of Glencoe. That’s the mono shot. Just got back into the car when a people carrier arrived and out spilled half a dozen Chinese tourists each with a smartphone on a selfie stick and I thought of Murd!

Found a slot in the never ending stream of traffic heading up the glen and drove on to Rannoch Moor. I was watching the cloudscape that was forming above the snow covered mountains and trying to figure out where would be best to park to grab the shot I could imaging was being created for me. I’ve been caught out before by ignoring the first parking place, trying for the optimum viewpoint and finding there’s nowhere there for parking – Scotland’s terrible for providing parking where there is nothing worth seeing and no parking where there is. This time I chose the first place that presented itself almost empty too – just a white van in it, and decided I’d walk until I found the best VP. As it turned out, there was a beautiful clear shot of the mountains and clouds right across form the parking place (top two shots). Took the shot (or 10) and then realised there was a tripod with a camera but without a photog, just to my right. Then I turned round and saw the driver of the white van watching me. It turned out he was doing a time lapse of the changing cloudscape. I asked him how long he’d run it for and after some thought he said “about 30 minutes should be enough”. He said he was driving down from Skye and really should be in a hurry, but the landscape was just too pretty to ignore. I told him we were doing the same and took my leave, wishing him luck with his time lapse.

Our next stop was between Crianlarich and Lix Toll for a coffee and to stretch my legs. Then it was on through Callander and Doune to the M9 and home. It took us just over six hours.

Thanks Murd and Jackie for the hospitality again and hope to see you soon.

Over the five days we clocked up around 660 miles and I took 335 photos, most of which were rubbish, but some of which I’m really proud of. That’s what photography is all about. A 10% success rate is pretty good. My success rate was about half of that, but then, you can’t quantify art 😉

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Forty Three Years Ago – 17 February 2016

combo bForty three years ago today the weather was much the same. There was snow on the ground and it was cold. Two young folk, one 22 and one just 18 repeated their vows and became man and wife. How their lives have changed.

Today we took it easy. We had intended going to Edinburgh, but it being the middle of the week and with the prospect of more snow on the way, we decided to cut our losses and go to Glasgow instead. Rather than suffer the long bus journey through the wilds of Moodiesburn and Muirhead, I offered to drive. We eventually got parked in the third carpark we tried, despite the electronic signs telling us that there were spaces in the other two (they lied). Walked down through town me looking at a couple of cameras on the way, but still undecided which or even if I’d buy if it came down to it. Just like a girl can never have enough shoes, a photog can never have enough cameras. Decided on Browns for lunch and were mightily disappointed in the lack of flavour from both our meals. It’s feels like they have a reputation now, so they don’t have to try so hard. I think we’ll try somewhere else next time, but it’s a shame when it was a celebration meal and we rejected a few good restaurants before opting for Browns. Maybe it’s something to do with the name “Browns”: ordinary, nondescript, boring. Sort of sums it up really.

Went from there to the Art Store and picked up a couple of small Pink Pig sketch books and a wonderful bargain of a watercolour box reduced from £79 to £25!! Unfortunately, as I guessed, the Art Store is closing for good at the end of the month. According to one of the assistants, “the company is kaput”. Short term bargains for artists, but long term loss for art in Glasgow. They will be sadly missed.

After we came home, the weather brightened up and I managed an hour in St Mo’s just walking in the snow taking shots mainly with the 9mm. Some of the results are above. No plans for tomorrow, it all depends on the weather.

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Ice is Nice – 14 February 2016

combo bSome days you can only just manage to drag yourself out to take one or two photos, other days the opportunities are endless. Such was it today. When I woke, the sun was battering at the window trying to get in to lighten our morning. After breakfast I couldn’t resist it any longer and I took the Oly out to play in the snow. Great light, but treacherous underfoot with about 20-25mm of ice on paths and roads. I’d only put on my boots, not my crampon things. I detest them, but they are useful on days like this. Anyway, once I got to St Mo’s, it was a bit softer and safer walking on the snow than the ice. Spotted some deer, but not before they saw me and raced on ahead. No chance to even take the camera out of the bag, but it was just as good watching them run throught the trees, occasionally lit by the morning sun.

Today I concentrated on the little bits of light and ice sitting on grass stems and branches of low weeds. Managed one shot of a grass stem with a bead of thawed ice on it. For once I got the focus just right with the grass slightly blurred, but the aerial image in focus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to get this effect, and this morning I achieved it by accident. Also liked the oversharpened and oversaturated shot of the cowparsley head covered in beads of melting ice. The contre-jour shot of the leaf was a no-brainer. Warm coloured subject against cool background colours. Simple. Just getting back up again from the crouch that’s needed to take the shot, that’s the challenge for me.

Back home for lunch and a coffee, then Scamp wanted to go for a walk to Condorrat. More walking over the icy crevasses, and then one last look for something interesting with the Nikon this time, but the light was too low by then, so I got nothing worthwhile. Up early and out. The early bird gets the worm (and the good shots). That should be my motto from now on, providing it’s not raining. Click on the shots above to see the images better on Flickr.

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A cold and frosty morning – 17 January 2016

combo bWell, that’s the way it looked when we got up.  When I say ‘got up’, I really mean got out of bed, looked out the window and went back beneath the warm duvet again.  I’m not sure if it had snowed during the night, but the temperature was hovering around zero, so it might have.  Didn’t do much in the morning apart from clear up the kitchen a bit.

In the afternoon I struggled into my boots and gaiters to take a walk across to St Mo’s.  Lots of deer tracks, but no sign of the actual beasts themselves.  Spent some time watching the coots and ducks sliding across the frozen pond.  Managed to find a puddle hidden under a covering of snow on a layer of grass.  It was deep enough to reach up to my knees and cold enough to take my breath away.  That alone shortened my walk.  No tramping through the trees today, not with frozen tootsies.  Got a few photos of tracks in the snow, but nothing interesting.  There wasn’t really enough directional light to create the shadows you need when photographing snow.  Came home, dried off and stared at a glowing screen 1 for an hour or so.  I don’t suppose I will ever learn.

That about wraps it up for today.  We should have gone to salsa tonight, but the weather station said it would snow and the temperature was dropping from its high of 3ºc and we weren’t really all that bothered.  Hopefully we’ll go to class tomorrow.  Tomorrow is another day.

  1. “Maybe we spend too much time looking at glowing screens.” 22 December 2015