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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!

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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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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. 🙁

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Having a Ball – 3 December 2017

Today was the Salsa Ball. Everything else paled into insignificance before this great annual event.

I did get out for an hour in St Mo’s in the afternoon, but the light was poor and fairly flat, so it wasn’t conducive to interesting textures or anything really. I did find a wee hibernating ladybird on an ash tree, never seen that before. PoD became the ‘looking down view’ of the Cladonia lichen. They look so alien, especially from this viewpoint.

Dinner tonight was a re-heated curry from last night and like second-day soup, tasted even better than it did the day before.

I’d decided to drive in to Glasgow and park directly across from the Classic Grand in the Q Park in Jamaica Street. Unfortunately the satnav couldn’t find a way in to it and kept trying to make me drive the wrong way down one-way streets. I eventually found another 24 hour Q Park, not far from Jamaica Street.

The starting time for the Ball was 8pm, but we were told the doors would be open at 7.45. When we got there, the queue outside told us that Shannon had got it wrong. Actually, it was the Classic that had it wrong, some of their staff hadn’t turned up and to be fair, it was Shannon who stepped in and took the tickets at the door. The place was mobbed! There was a bachata lesson before the dancing proper started, but there were so many folk on the floor, you couldn’t see what was going on. I think we have it on video, and Scamp liked the moves, so we may add them to our ‘repertoire’. After the bachata, Jamie Gal tried to do a glow-stick rueda, but it ended up a total shambles. There were meant to be two concentric ruedas, but it just ended as a ‘rammy’. After that it was social dancing. I got told off by Grant’s wife for not dancing with Scamp! I was just so much in demand, you see by all the beginners!!  Overall it was good, but not as good as last year.

I finally threw in the towel about 11pm. I was exhausted and my list of moves was exhausted too. Walked back to the car and found that we only had to pay £7 for the night’s parking. That’s a lot better than I had expected and a great deal more convenient than waiting for a taxi home. Ok, I didn’t get to have a drink, but neither of us usually have a drink when we’re out dancing.

As you will probably have guessed, this blog entry was written after the event, on ‘the day after the day before’ as Jaime said after the wedding in Trinidad. So ‘today’ will be a fairly restful Monday hopefully with more dancing in class tonight.

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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.

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Messages and Beer – 1 November 2017

Yet another dull, dreich day.

I thought we should really go out somewhere today, even if it was just to get messages. That’s what we did. We drove to Falkirk in the rain, essentially to get some beer. I did get some beer, it wasn’t the beer I’d gone for, but at least we got out. We just drove home after that, again in the rain. It was that sort of day. A day when you felt you had to go out, but when you were out you didn’t want to be there, if that makes sense. Maybe it’s something that just happens to me!

The same thing happened later in the afternoon when I walked over to St Mo’s to see if there were any photos wanting to be taken. Then the sun came out and I started to enjoy the experience. I also started to actively look for photos instead of just clicking the shutter. Making photos rather than just taking them.

Processed the photos when I got back and then it was time for dinner which was fish ‘n’ chips made tonight by Scamp.

Drove to salsa and am at present sitting out writing the blog because there are far too many men and most of the beginners are so thick they can’t count. They also don’t seem to know the difference between Forward and Back. I feel sorry for Jamie because he’s trying his best to explain the moves, but some people don’t seem to listen.

Tomorrow it looks like it will be dry, bright and cold. We may go out tomorrow if we can borrow a coat to wear!