IMG_4631- blog-2

Today’s disaster – 23 February 2018

The good news was Scamp was much better when we woke.

I guessed she would be after a good night’s sleep, but was relieved to hear that she hadn’t been shouting down the ceramic telephone during the night. Had breakfast and sat in the living room soaking up the early spring/late winter sunshine when Scamp asked if the WiFi was off. I was doing my daily sudoku at the time and hadn’t noticed, so I checked the modem and both send and receive lights were off. I unplugged it to reset it and only when I was plugging it back in again, noticed that the light on the multipoint connector was off, so was the standby light on the TV. Oh dear, looks like there was a power outage. However, when I checked the junction box, I found that the RCD (Residual Current Device) had tripped. That usually means that some electrical item has gone faulty. I started pulling fuses from the box to try to find what was causing the fault and soon discovered it was the downstairs sockets. Went round switching them all off and then found that the culprit seemed to be the one connected to the fridge. That’s when the RCD tripped again. So it wasn’t just the fridge. Switched everything off and reset the RCD. It didn’t trigger. Started switching everything on again and unbelievably with everything on including the fridge, the RCD didn’t trip. Weird. Five minutes later the RCD tripped again. Weirder still.

Phoned Fred P who used to do PAT testing in the school to get his take on things and he told me not to just switch things off, but to physically unplug them. Did that and then plugged one thing on at a time. With nothing plugged in the RCD was fine. As soon as I plugged something in it tripped. Then it would trip with nothing plugged in. Fred phoned with the number for an emergency electrician he’d used in the past. I phoned and he came out in the afternoon. His first question was when I’d last tested the RCD. I told him I didn’t know you had to test them. Well, apparently you have to. There’s a note on the junction box to say so and he showed it to me and also showed me how to do the test … properly. Once every month or two he said. He waited while I connected everything up and gave it a good 15 to 20 minutes with everything powered before he left us. It cost £30 for the call-out, but it was worth it for the peace of mind. So the moral of the story is if you have a RCD switch and a test button, and if you have a little label on it telling you to test it regularly, do what it tells you. That way you won’t be staggering round the house like a loony trying to find all the sockets to pull.

After that I went for a walk to calm down and got a few pics of a young buck (PoD). Also got some of a goosander and a torn bit of a tree. Don’t ask why that last one. I just liked it. Saw the little white spot ladybird again, nestled in some moss. Stay where you are little ladybird, cold days are coming back.

Today’s sketch is just a bit of pencil rendering. It’s done and on time.

Tomorrow, let’s hope there are no more disasters. We have no plans.

IMG_4631- blog-2

Snow begone (again) – 12 February 2018

By the time we got up today the snow was well on the way to disappearing. Good riddance.

Wasn’t feeling myself today. Just felt tired and listless. Pains in my stomach too. Don’t know what caused it. I’d say last night’s tapas, but they tasted good and the chilli had so little ‘carne’ in it, it was almost vegetarian. Yes, I know veg can upset your stomach too. Basically I just need to wait it out. Brought the car down from its abandonment last night, and parked it properly outside the house.

After lunch I went for a snooze while Scamp went for the messages. I just wasn’t up to it and she was happy to drive because the snow had disappeared completely. The snooze helped and I decided to get out and see if some fresh air would help. That’s where I got today’s shot. Saw two deer. Haven’t seen any for ages and on the way back I saw two herons! Scamp reckons they are Mr & Mrs Grey. I suppose that could be true. Either that or it’s an infiltrator looking for a face-off with Mr Grey. They squawked a bit at each other and then flew off in opposite directions. The walk and the fresh air did help a bit, but dinner was a plate of Scamp’s magic lentil soup and it did more than anything else to make me feel better.

In the evening I didn’t feel like going to salsa and Scamp agreed that we should stay at home.  I stuck a bit of corrugated cardboard on the easel and painted a still life. It’s pretty basic, but halfway through I realised that the pain in my stomach had gone. The painting might be poor, but it forced me to stop thinking about myself for a while.

Fruit

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It depends on how I’m feeling and on the weather. There’s more snow forecast for tonight into tomorrow. Maybe the gym for a light bit of stretching.

IMG_4631- blog-2

Bananas (no Pyjamas) – 5 February 2018

It was Monday and we all know how restricting that is. Today I had a plan.

Didn’t get much done this morning, but after lunch I locked myself in my room with a bunch of bananas, a sketch book and pencil and a paint box. I reckoned that was the only way I was going to get a sketch done today. It took a long while and a few wasted sheets before I was settled on, but not altogether happy with, a little painting. It could have been a lot better, but it was complete and it was in on time. All the time I was earwigging the Gems practise. We all have to make sacrifices for our art!

Bananas today

With a painting in the bag, I went looking for a PoD. The light was dying as I walked over to St Mo’s, but I got a shot of Mr Grey hiding in the shallows beneath the trees. If it was to work, I had to have a close-up of his eye because he was well hidden in the bushes and only his eye would give me the shot I wanted. I got the shot and he flew off, fed up, no doubt with my clumsy stalking technique.

Back home, I had about an hour before I made the dinner. Got the photos downloaded, then the sketch photographed and transferred too. Worked on both photos and uploaded them to FB, Instagram and Flickr. Then it was time for dinner. Spaghetti with roast peppers in tomato sauce. Then we drove in to Glasgow with CITRAC displaying a yellow warning for snow and ice during the night and the early morning hours. Hopefully that won’t bother us.

Salsa with the first class (Advanced 1) wasn’t all that demanding, but the new move in the second class (Advanced 5) was a test, not only of our abilities, but also of Jamie Gal’s memory. It may or may not be called ‘Corfu’. Jamie said he’d post the move on FB, but so far nothing has appeared. It was actually quite an interesting move. We may try it out ourselves tomorrow just to see if we can work out between us what it was all about.

For once I got parked easily back at the house. That doesn’t happen often.

I sacrificed the gym and swim for a chance to get a sketch done today. Tomorrow I intend to pay back. Gym and Swim then sketch with photography taking a back seat. That’s the plan any way!

IMG_4631- blog-2

Parking and Dancing – 4 February 2018

It was a really lazy sort of day.

Lay in bed and read, trying to finish my latest book “I’ll keep you safe” by Peter May. A good tale, well told. I like his books about, or set in Lewis and Harris. Absolutely hate his Paris series, although this one did start out in Paris. Most of the book is set in the Hebrides, so that’s ok. Couldn’t quite finish it, so left the final pages to tomorrow.

Got out for a walk in the afternoon and the weather was quite pleasant with no wind, blue sky and a surprisingly mild feel, I fed some bread to the ducks, swans and gulls on the pond. They still haven’t received the memo about not eating carbohydrate, so they gobbled it down. Walked into the woods with two cameras, neither of which was switched on, and neither of which was in my hand, that’s why the deer, two of them walked right in front of me. I tried to get the Teazer out of my pocket, but I knew it was a pointless attempt. Both fled, one went one way the other went in the opposite direction. Oh well, maybe next time. I did get some photos of trees and moss and stuff, but they were just place markers to give me a PoD to upload to Flickr. PoD was the stem with the green bud, by the way.

Drove in to Glasgow to go dancing at the dungeon that is Arta. I must have driven round for about twenty minutes before I found a parking place. Everywhere, and I do mean Everywhere was full. I was past the point of giving up and going home when a space magically appeared, and a real painted-on-the-road parking bay too. Thank you whoever you were. Dancing was good. Music was reasonable considering it wasn’t Grant who was DJ. It was Shannon and thankfully not DJ Daniel.

Home to Crazy Water Fish (Cod in tomato and capers sauce) with potatoes. Quite, quite delicious.

My old Lamy pen

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was my old Lamy fountain pen. Much loved and much battered, then repaired with Tensol Cement, Superglue and finally Sellotape. Still working and still great for sketching. I’m still amazed at the response to yesterday’s pic of an orange. It was good, as my good friend Marcus Waring would say, “There were issues”.

Tomorrow is a normal Monday with all that entails. Gems and Dancing. Hopefully we won’t have as much problem parking as we had today. I usually go to the gym on a Monday, but to make sure my graphical and photographic commitments are covered, I may leave the gym until Tuesday. We’ll see. Temperature drop forecast, so I have to factor that in to the equation too. Life is so complicated some times!

IMG_4631- blog-2

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.

IMG_4631- blog-2

Went out early got some photos – 15 January 2018

It was grey and dark when we woke and didn’t improve much for a few hours.

After the dull start, the sun broke through and I decided to go out and get some photos. Just because it’s a Monday, a Gemsday, doesn’t mean I have to follow the usual pattern and do things in order. The sun was out and so was I. The mosaic above shows that the sun did actually shine for a while. The weather forecasters were going crazy telling us there would be snow for hours tonight with compromised travel arrangements tomorrow morning. I didn’t care. The sun was out and so was I. It wasn’t really cold either. Not exactly shorts and tee shirt weather, but decidedly not cold.

When I got home, the house was sparkling as it usually is on a Gemsday. Not that it’s ever dirty, but it gets that extra little burnish on a Gemsday. I’d started a painting this morning before I went out, when the sun was still hiding, so while the singers were assembling downstairs I put another layer of paint on it. Strangely I’d messed around with this method a few months ago and hadn’t really settled down to finish any of the paintings. Maybe I should dig them out from where they’re hiding and finish them off. Anyway, once I’d reached a point where the paint needed to dry, I left it on the easel and headed for the gym.

I did 15 mins on the recumbent bike and then 10 reps on three of the machines then a final 10 minutes on the walking treadmill. That was enough. Got changed and went for a swim then a soak in the steam room before heading home.

Salsa tonight was centred on the twisty, turny Gorila (one ‘L’) from last week. It’s not getting any easier, especially when we try to dance it. I think I managed it twice out of the six or seven attempts tonight. Maybe we’ll practise tomorrow.

Couldn’t get parked tonight. Everywhere was full in the carparks. When I came in and reported that, Scamp said airily “Oh, there are spaced further down the road.” Did she offer to go and park the Juke? Don’t be silly.  I went back out in the sleet and parked it on a different street, something I don’t like doing. Hopefully it will still be there in the morning.  Not in a good mood now.

PoD was the moss macro top left.

Dentist tomorrow. 🙁

IMG_4631- blog-2

The trio becomes a quartet – 12 January 2018

Coffee with Fred and Val became Coffee with Fred, Val and Colin today. Apart from that, nothing much changed. We still drank the same miserable Costa brown water and we still discussed politics, books, music, old friends and old enemies. It’s a no-politics and a no-religion area, but all other topics are fair game. Colin provided some reminders of folk we’d forgotten, both pupils and teachers. He seemed to fit in well. He even offered to buy the coffees next time. We’ll let him join the UBI. I look forward to his input next time.

Other than that, it was a fairly dull day that brightened up a bit in the late afternoon, but stayed cold. I stopped off at St Mo’s on the way home to get some photos. You can see the result at the top of the page. It’s not much, but I was impressed with the way the ‘Teazer’ handled the sun in the frame without too much flare. There is some, but most of it was painted away in Lightroom.

Highlight of the day was mince pie. Not mincemeat pie, although it was minced meat that was in the pie. No, this was a savoury pie. Scamp tried to show me how to make it last year, but she is so much better at it than me. It’s good hot, but so much better served cold. A bit like revenge, allegedly. However, cold mince pie now gives me heartburn. It’s almost worth the pain.

That about sums up today. Maybe going on the postponed visit to Perf tomorrow. As always, it all depends on the weather.

IMG_4631- blog-2

The highlight of the day – 4 January 2018

The highlight of today was taking the cardboard boxes and the bottles to the recycling centre. Yes, it was that sort of day.

In the morning I made that drive to the recycling centre. It would have been easier if we had been supplied with a green bin (for glass) back in October when we were promised it, but we weren’t, so we had to load the car up and drive there. Everyone else was there too, but I had a smashing time dropping bottles into the big containers and listening to the crashing sounds they made.

After that, and after deciding what we’d have for dinner, we had lunch. Then we went to Tesco. Scamp drove and we filled the car with all the stuff we needed for the next few days, mainly food. When we got back I found some stew in the freezer and set it to defrost while I grabbed a last hour of daylight in St Mo’s. That’s where I got today’s PoD which is an ultra wide-angle view of the pond and the boardwalk. It’s just an ordinary pond, but the ultra-wide makes it look like something special I think.

All the time we’d been checking on H&N’s second leg of their journey home. They were leaving the relative calm of the midlands and heading for the stormy zone around London, but we soon got the message that they were home and the cats had been collected and they too were home.

Dinner for me was stewed steak with potatoes, turnip and carrots. Substitute haggis for stewed steak and you have Scamp’s dinner. My thanks to Scamp for the clear and concise instruction on how to cook the stew without burning but with added flavour. Next time I’ll try to fly solo.

So, the highlight of the day really was smashing the bottles in the recycling bin. A close second was finding that the stew was beautifully tender and tasty. It was also good to know that H&N arrived home safely.

Tomorrow we may go to the gym or to the pool for a swim. Also, the other pair leave Tobago and the sun to face the long flight home. Glad you got a few dry, windy, sunny days after all that rain.

IMG_4631- blog-2

The first day of 2018 – 1 January 2018

How do you make yogurt ice cream without yogurt?

You go out for a walk on New Year’s Day when Tesco is closed and try to find a shop that’s open and also, one that stocks plain, natural yogurt. The first show I tried wasn’t open, no surprise. The second didn’t stock yogurt. That meant a much longer walk to the service station that I was sure was open and might, just might have yogurt. It was and it did. Success! The yogurt ice cream would be made after all.

With that task completed, I decided I’d go out and get an outside photo for the first one of the new year, because the sun was shining. I wandered around St Mo’s looking for a likely candidate before I remembered the little ladybird I’d seen away back at the beginning of December. It was still there. What’s more, it was moving. So it didn’t hibernate after all. It had chosen the east facing side of the tree which would be in the lee of the prevailing west wind. It had also chosen a spot with a bit of cover from the rain. Since I’d last seen it, it had survived 40mph winds and temperatures of -7ºc for three or four days in succession. Tough little cookies are ladybirds and that was the PoD.

Spoke to a bloke who was walking a friendly looking dog. The bloke told me it was a flat coated retriever. It certainly seemed well looked after and he said it would be even more friendly if I had some chicken, beef or liver with me. I told him it would be lucky, all I had was some stale bread for the ducks and swans. I know you’re not supposed to feed bread to ducks, but they don’t seem to have got that email yet. We said cheerio and went our different ways.

H&N arrived early just as I was beginning to clear the table. Scamp was busy and this time she had excelled herself with Salmon En Croute with roast potatoes, carrots and sugarsnap peas. Pudding was Pears in Red Wine, served with the Yogurt Ice Cream. Best she’s made, but that was only because I went the extra mile to get the yogurt!

After dinner we played Bears V Babies. A not very serious game with the most complicated rules ever. Still a good laugh and if not taken too seriously.

Resolutions for 2018
All the resolutions from 2017 plus:

  • Visit the gym or the pool at least once a week – and mean it this time!
  • Sketch at least one drawing a week. It can be in any medium, but it must be done on time.
  • Post the blog on the day it refers to unless some technical issue prevents it.
  • Get up for breakfast one day a week.

Let’s see how long they last.

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It depends on the weather and what H&N are doing.

IMG_4631- blog-2

Big Dogs – 26 December 2017

Today was Boxing Day, but there were no more boxes to open, so, as it had snowed during the night and it looked ‘Deepan, Krispan, Evin’, I got dressed and took the big dog for a walk.

We walked through the snow and found that the pond was covered in mist as the sun hadn’t risen to warm it up. I just missed catching Mr Grey who was fishing next to the path, behind a bush. He flew off squawking at a couple of swans that were in his way. I walked into the trees and saw the sun rising above the tops of the pines. It’s not often I’m up before the sun, these days!

Walked down through the pine trees and didn’t see a living soul. Got a few shots of the little man-made pond near the road and then followed a fresh fox’s trail through the woodland until it crossed the burn. It wasn’t my great tracking skills that let me to believe it was a fox, it was the smell that was quite strong on the snow.

I walked through the deciduous woods and by carefully choosing a point of view, got a shot of the second burn with some clean reflections and avoided both the street lights and the motorway signs. The mist helped, but it did need some ‘spotting’ in Lightroom later. It was on the way back with my ‘big dog’ that I was joined by another couple of real big dogs. I just caught a glimpse of something behind a bush and assumed it was a deer, then it formed itself into a big, and I mean Big Dogs. Two fairly heavy built Alsatian types. I’m not good on dog ID, but the other thing I was pleased to see was that they both had expensive looking harnesses on and looked well fed and looked after. I tried to ignore them and walked on when I heard one behind me. Never let a dog get behind you, someone once told me. As I turned round the second one bolted away from me towards some silent signal, presumably from the owner. My own shadow gave a high pitched yelp as if to say “Wait for me!” and ran to follow the first dog. I breathed a sigh of relief. Luckily I was wearing my brown corduroy trousers, so there would be no outward sign of my panic as I walked on.

Got home without meeting any more Big Dogs although I did manage to get a low down PoD shot of a new Weeman that Scamp bought me as a Chrissy Prezzy. I’d have looked a proper Charlie if anyone had seen me crouching on my knees, photographing a Lego Minifig™.

Lunch was a light wrap with cooked meat and salad veg, plus some Jalapeños. Afterwards we discussed tonight’s dinner and it resolved itself into Minestrone soup. Not difficult to make, but lots of chopping up of veg as preparation. We didn’t have any cabbage, so as Scamp wanted to go and stretch her legs, we walked down to the M&S shop at the petrol station. We didn’t really need anything apart from cabbage which they didn’t have, but I got some more cold ham and Scamp bought some Satsumas. It was more for the walk than for anything else. Stuck in the house all day yesterday makes you yearn for the outdoors.

When we got back, Madeleine started a video conversation using WhatsApp. We’d never used it before, and it was really good. Much better than Skype. Skype used to be good, but since it’s been taken over by The Dark Side, it wants to run things its way. Interrupting a call to install an update. That’s just typical Microsoft. Anyway, the Whats App call worked well and Scamp got to see Ori the wonder dog as well as everyone else in the Trini house.

I got a sketch done and pre-dated it to the 24th. A lie, but a little white lie, well, a black and white lie actually. Not drawn, but painted with black Indian ink. I quite like it, but I’m not letting you see the usual big image, so don’t bother to click on it. It looks better small, I think, and it’s my blog!  The title from the lyrics of ‘The Curious Crystals of Unusual Purity’ by Bridget St John.

Today we made the move to go out. Tomorrow we may go even further! Provided the weather is kind to us.