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Wish I’d brought a sketchbook – 21 June 2017

You couldn’t say it rained today. It barely wet the ground, it certainly wasn’t the downpour that was predicted.

Couldn’t decide what to do with the day, but eventually Scamp suggested we go for a swim and that was what we did. Since my leg wasn’t quite back to normal, I thought a swim would be better than gym today. Pool was busy, but with hotel visitors this time, not spa punters. There were the usual fatties making a floating moveable island in the middle of the pool for others to swim around.

Went over to St Mo’s in the afternoon and got some photos of the insect life, but nothing interesting, except perhaps the shot above of a damselfly planking to show off its abs.

Dinner was a disaster. It was meant to be an authentic Chinese stir-fry using tofu, bean paste and black fungus! I tried sticking to the recipe, but the bean paste just fried itself into a solid lump … twice! Gave up and stir-fried the veg in the oil of the bean paste, then mashed up some beans with a mortar and pestle and added it with some hot water. Put the fried tofu in at the end and let it steam to cook the carrots. It tasted ok, but not really like what we had tasted when it was demonstrated at Gardening Scotland. Maybe we’ll stop for chips on the way home from salsa 😉

Saw a flash of lightning over the hills when we were driving in to salsa. Didn’t hear any thunder and the rain stayed away too. Hopefully the worst of the thunderstorms have passed us by.

There weren’t really enough people to make up a beginners class, and too many men again, so I stepped out … again! This time I didn’t have a sketchbook, so I’m sitting in the car, on a huff, writing the blog instead. Blog or sketch, both take about half an hour to complete. If I get one or the other done, it’s time not wasted.

Looks like the 7.30pm class is ending as well as the beginners. If it does, that will mean the end of our Wednesday exercise! That would be a shame.

Finally settled on an old favourite for the SoD (I like that abbreviation!), the Sudoku block. Trying out the Paperchase sketch book. Not nearly as much ’tooth’ as the Seawhite one. Not sure I like the lack of texture.

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Two birds, one stone – 15 June 2017

Met Fred for coffee today and while waiting, manage to get a sketch done. Two birds, one stone.

When I came home, I went for a quick walk in St Mo’s, more to test the Oly 5 because yesterday some of the photos from it wouldn’t load into Lightroom. I suspected a dodgy SD card and that might have been the case, because today after formatting the card twice, it performed perfectly. Also, one of the shots became PoD.

That was about it really. While I was meeting Fred, Scamp went for a walk around Falkirk, risking driving through one of the torrential rain showers in the process.

The sketch from the morning is reasonable with awkward perspective and figures!!! I hate drawing people. I like straight lines or regular curves, like ellipses and circles. People don’t have straight line or elliptical shapes and very few circles, except perhaps in the irises of their eyes. That makes them difficult for me to draw. I’ve read the books and tried to draw people, but they either look deformed or like cartoon characters. Must practise more. Heavens, there are enough people about to be unsuspecting models!

Today we may go to Perth. It depends, as always, on the weather.

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Early Start – 7 June 2017

Woke around 5.30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. Finally decided there was nothing else for it but to get up and go out for a walk.

Put on wellies to protect me from marauding beasties especially ticks and took a walk around St Mo’s. Light was good, but there wasn’t much wildlife about. I did catch a glimpse of a deer. but it was too far away and I was making far too much noise to get anywhere near it.  What I did get were a selection of contre-jour shots (against the light) of flowers and greenery coated in raindrops.  The rain had been very heavy during the night although it was bright, sunny and windy today.

Came home and had breakfast, then we headed off to Wishaw General to get Scamp’s arm looked at.  Thankfully, there were no more moles to be found, so all was well.  We both had other commitments today, so we just drove home.  I chose to take the M8, just to make sure I could find the correct turn-off for Stirling.  We found it, but it sort of sneaks up on you with a very short slip road.

After lunch I had a coffee date with Val and Fred.  Apparently it’s too late for us to launch the Auld Guys Party for the General Election tomorrow, but if we had, I’m sure we’d win.  Our party pledges include free beer for the over 65s, paid for by the under 65s.  My revolutionary new voting system where the winner wins and the losers have to work for a living was unanimously carried.  Anyone found or admitting to lying in their promises (present company excepted) would be summarily executed.  Oh yes, and free coffee for all.  What’s not to like there?

Went to beginners Salsa tonight to support Irene who was taking Jamie G’s class.  Overall she did a good job, once she got her timing sorted and started shouting out the moves.  She’ll do well once she gets a bit more experience in this teaching game.

Today’s PoD is Buttercups, the gardener’s delight and today’s sketch is another ink / watercolour sketch of fruit.  Pear and Orange this time.

Tomorrow the rain is coming, although our wee old weather station is predicting sun.  I think that’s unlikely, but we’ll wait and see.

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I’ve got the shakes – 30 May 2017

It stared dull today, but it did get better.

This morning it didn’t look as if it was going to get better and by midday it was getting decidedly rainy.  Before that we’d done a bit of tidying up in the garden.  Chopped down the part of the rose that runs above the back door.  It’s been getting more and more straggly, so it had to happen sooner or later.  It happened today.  It looked a bit odd to start with, but hopefully it will force some growth into the part that runs up the side of the door.

We drove out in the rain to get the makings of tonight’s dinner at ASDA and stopped by Costa for a quick bite of lunch.  Came home and the weather started clearing up.  Took some photos in the garden, but they just didn’t work out.  May try again tomorrow.

Decided a walk over to St Mo’s would be good, so took the whole Oly / Teazer kit with me.  I wasn’t convinced that the anti-shake was doing anything.  I’m convinced now.  I switched off the anti-shake and took a couple of shots.  Actually, I didn’t need to take any, it was enough just to see the effect through the viewfinder.  Heaven knows what it would be like holding the camera at arm’s length like you do when you just have a viewing screen.  The anti-shake will now stay on at all times.  There wasn’t much to see or to photograph.  I did see some damselflies, but the wind was quite gusty and they were getting blown about too much.  No chance of a close-up with any camera.  Gave up and came home.

Scamp’s sister came in as I was getting the dinner ready (Cod and Smoked Paprika Chowder).  It was really good.  Now June has arrived too, so I’m in self-imposed exile in the front bedroom to get some peace and quiet to write the blog you’re reading.

Tomorrow?  Sewing class at JL.  Should be interesting.

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Tick – 26 May 2017

First tick this year. Let’s hope it’s the last. Tiny wee bugger under my watch strap. Beginning to nip now.

Another very hot day, well, very hot for Scotland. Sat out in the garden reading for a while but had to keep going in to the shade to cool down. Got he call from the car hospital about 11.00 to say that the car was ready to collect.

Picked up the car from the garage Car Hospital. They had replaced the radiator after having to remove the entire front of the car. Changed days from when my father in law and I removed the radiator from my Reliant Regal with the aid of a couple of spanners and a screwdriver. Then we took it to Hillington in Glasgow where he soldered a couple of cracks in the fins and brazed the bottom pipe back on.  Then we reinstalled it with the same two tools we’d used to remove it. Life was so much simpler then.

Drove to Torwood to get some more plants for the garden. This time the plants were herbs and vegetables. The radiator worked perfectly but unfortunately on the hottest day of the year (28ºc) the air-con has packed in. It was a very uncomfortable drive home. I think the time has come for the Megane and us to part company. I’ve enjoyed driving it for the eight years I’ve had it. It’s a bugger to park and the visibility to the rear is very poor, but other than that, it’s a very comfortable car to drive … and it goes fast, or at least it did when it was in its prime. I suppose we all did when we were younger.

I took a walk over to St Mo’s before dinner but didn’t get much. To many dobbers wandering around half cut with bottles of Buckfast. A typical Friday night in Cumbersheugh.

Today’s PoD if from the garden and is a rogue floret from one of the alliums (or allii if you’re being pedantic) in the front garden.

That was about it really. Tomorrow? Apparently we need some shopping – don’t we always? Then we need to sit indoors and watch the rain.

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Under the Knife – 24 May 2017

This morning began early with me taking the Megane to the garage to have its water leak investigated. By lunchtime it had been confirmed that the problem was a hole in the radiator. It had to stay in overnight and is scheduled for an operation tomorrow with a replacement radiator being fitted. Scamp’s dad would simply have repaired the radiator, because that was his job. Now they just replace them. More expense.

Didn’t do much for the rest of the day until I was coaxed out for a walk by Scamp, not that she was coming with me, oh no, she was watching the final of MasterChef on catch-up. One thing I did do was work out how to use Mail Drop on the Mac. Very clever way of sending large (> 50MB) files to someone. I should make more use of it.

Walked over St Mo’s and got some photos of spiders and dandelion clocks (a must for photogs every year). Still using the Teazer and getting more used to it.

Had to drive Scamp’s car to Salsa tonight, but luckily the traffic was light and we made it with no problem. Salsa itself was fun. Beginners were experiencing the thrill of Exhibela. Advanced class was pretty small, but we covered La Cuadra, Tresario Doble, Cubaa Se. We also tried one of the most exasperating moves, La Confusion where the leaders become followers and vice versa. So well named. No Salsa on Monday, so we have to wait a week for our next fix.

Tomorrow? Scamp has coffee in the morning with Shona and I have coffee just after lunch with Fred and Val. Then hopefully we have to pick up the car.

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Paisley Pattern – 21 May 2017

It was a lazy Sunday with a late start.  I thought we could could go down the Green for a walk, but the rain put an end to that idea.

Started making a mock-up of the stand for the tablet and got a fairly stable version after a few iterations.  Next step is the prototype.  At least that’s what I remember of the Design & Make method … or maybe it’s the prototype first then it’s the mock-up.  I never did work it out.  In fact, I don’t ever remember actually using the design method, but I was happy to teach others that it solved all their problems.  It doesn’t.

Took a walk over St Mo’s later with the Teazer and the ’50 as backup.  This might be my holiday setup if the Teazer starts to cut the mustard.  So far, it’s a hit and a miss.  It’s a nice light little camera with a long zoom.  The CCD is the problem, it’s just too small, but I have to ignore that, stop ‘pixel-peeping’ (that means examining every shot at 100% magnification) and look, really LOOK at the finished result, because after all that is the what I and everyone else will want to see.

After I got back from my photographic sojourn, it was time to get ready to dance.  Today we were going to the uncharted wilds of Paisley.  The last time I was in Paisley, I was driving a hired box van to do a flitting for you, JIC.  That was many years ago.  Checking the height and width of the van against the size of the arch leading to the flat you and Andy were renting.  Anyway, I digress, as I usually do.  We got the train from Croy to Queen Street and then another from Central to Paisley Gilmour Street and walked to La Rambala restaurant.  It was much smaller than our usual Sunday Social floor, but it felt comfortable and the smells from the Spanish restaurant that made up the other half of the building were good.  We’ll go back again and next time we’ll have tapas before dancing.

The train home was full of drunk Sellic supporters fresh from the win against Hearts, a sort of second-hand derby, a cross country derby.  Drove back from the station in sunshine, which was nice.

Today’s PoD is of a tree climbing snail from St Mo’s.  The answer is ‘Because they’re there’  You know the question.

Two little sketches to get the ‘one sketch a week’ thing up to date.  The relation is obvious.  They’re both cameras, in fact, they’re both TZs separated by about nine years which is an age in digital cameras.

Tomorrow it’s Library and Health Centre then dancing at night hopefully with a wee bit of photography in between, DV as always.

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Toy Off The Rack – 18 May 2017

Drove in to Glasgow to have another look at the TZ60 and the TZ70.

After a lot of soul searching, I made the decision to buy the 70.  I won’t go in to the reasons because it’s of no interest to anyone but me.  It’s a clever bit of kit.  The two big winners for me were its ability to shoot in RAW and the fact that it had an EVF.  Again, I won’t explain why they were important, they just were and although the EVF isn’t quite as clear as I’d like and the RAW files need a bit of tweaking before Lightroom will accept them, I’m happy to put up with that as long as the results are worth it.  At present, I think they are.

Had lunch at Zizzi in Exchange Square.  Scamp had Ravioli and I had a Beef and Venison Ragu with some posh spiral spaghetti.  It was OK, but nothing to write home about, so I won’t write about it here either.

Went a walk down the town looking for inspiration for a sketch, but the Inspiration shop was closed on a Thursday, so I came home empty handed.  I did try a sketch in the sun outside Nero in St Enoch’s, but it didn’t quite work.  I may go back to it some time, but not today.

Got  the photo of the dandelion over in St Mo’s.  I accidentally overexposed it, although Lightroom tells me that I didn’t.  Anyway, I did some jiggery pokery in Lightroom to create a high key version and I quite like the result.  It was taken with the Oly 10 because the Teazer was still charging its battery at the time.

Listening to New Masters by someone called Cat Stevens on Spotify as I write this.  The album dates from 1967.  Positively Prehistoric.

Tomorrow, I’m hoping to get some more photos taken with the new Toy Off The Rack.  Also hoping for another beautiful day like today.

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Another (quite) Lazy Day – 7 May 2017

The weather was to be slightly more mixed than yesterday with some cloudy spells forecast for the afternoon, and that’s the way it turned out.

I did some light gardening in the morning where I was decanting some of the compost from the bin into the raised bed while Scamp did the heavy work clearing the paving slabs in the back garden.  I also planted up some more Basil.  Gave up on the beetroot I’d planted last week and dug over the entire raised bed to mix the different layers of peat, home made compost and odds and sods of compost from the last few years.

After lunch I took a walk through St Mo’s to get some photos.  Saw a couple of beautiful ferns starting to unwind.  Apparently the name for a rolled up young fern is a ‘Crozier’  Like a Bishop’s crook.  Didn’t get photos of any damsels although I did see one.  Nor did I even see any hoverflies.  Maybe the prospect of cloudy skies made them hide, and the clouds did arrive almost perfectly on time.  They stayed for an hour or so surveying the scene from on high, then they went home for their tea.  So did I.

Well, actually I didn’t have my tea.  I got dressed and went out dancing with Scamp to Arta, the new venue for a Sunday Social.  To say we were a bit ropey to start with would be an understatement, but by the time we were leaving we had gelled again and dancing much better.  How strange it was to walk through Glasgow afterwards in my shirt sleeves and short sleeves to boot.  Then, when we got home, I had my tea.

Yesterday’s sketch did indeed make it to Ink 17 as you can see.  Although it’s quite a simple sketch it does capture the feel of the place.  It’s done and on time.  That could be the name for this challenge rather than ‘Ink 17’.

Tomorrow?  Well, Gems are back, so I’ll have to find somewhere to make myself scarce to.  Maybe I’ll go investigating a new bit of wilderness, because the weather is set fair again.  So say the weather fairies.

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Cross Country – 5 May 2017

Woke about 7am and couldn’t get back to sleep.

It was just too warm.  Not a complaint we usually have in Scotland in May, but there it is.  Decided I wasn’t going to get back to sleep any time soon, so got dressed and took the ‘Big Dog’ for a walk through St Mo’s woods.  That’s where I found Robin singing his wee heart out and a bit further on I saw the green shoots appearing everywhere like little Bonsai trees.  Lovely light early in the morning when other folk are rushing to get to work.

Came back and processed the photos, then had a shower and breakfast in that order.  Always do the photos first.  Got an email from Hazy suggesting I look to Argos for an Amazon Fire Stick.  Logged on and ordered on in less than a minute.  Job done.  Thanks Hazy.

We couldn’t decide where to go on such a lovely day until I suggested Dunfermline and that became the chosen place.  Also decided to go on the bus all the way, stopping off in Cumbersheugh town centre to pick up the Fire Stick.  I’ve worked out why they are in such short supply.  I think it’s the Cumbersheugh Villagers who are buying them, thinking they will produce fire.  Somebody should tell them about disposable lighters.

Got a shoogly bus to Dunfermline and walked down the depressing main street after a coffee and a bun in Nero.  The park was full of weans, and I mean full.  There must have been about a dozen schools involved in an orienteering competition.  It was mayhem with weans running everywhere.  We wandered round the formal gardens because the glasshouse closed early on a Friday.  The place was looking a bit untidy with a lot of weeding needing to be done.  Not that I was volunteering to do any, I’ve done my bit for the week.  Walked back and had a beer (or a Rum ’n’ Coke) outside.  OUTSIDE, in the sun!  Then Scamp suggested that we just get the bus back to Glasgow as there were some things I needed to start my mammoth sewing adventure.  I needed tracing paper to trace the pattern.  I also wanted some Indian ink for sketching.  So it seemed like a good idea.

Got the bus back to Glasgow and once I’d got the tracing paper, we went to Paesano for a late pizza lunch before getting yet another shoogly bus home, setting up the Amazon Fire Stick (which doesn’t produce fire, by the way) and watching another episode of Lucifer in beautiful HD.  After that we found a video about a salsa competition that was ‘enlightening’.  I’d seen the lifts on Strictly, but they were child’s play compared to what these nutters were doing.  So far we’re both impressed with what this forty quid black box can do.

Tomorrow may be a stay at home day with a bit of light gardening for Scamp with some Pims as a refreshment and some cycling for me if the weather holds.