It rained – 13 October 2018

All day, it rained.

As predicted by the weather fairies, it rained all day. It started off fairly light in the morning, but soon it grew more persistent and heavier as the day progressed. We decided to take the bus in to Glasgow with the sole purpose of having a decent lunch somewhere. Scamp suggested Sarti’s and I suggested Charcoals. We went with her choice, but first we had a wet walk down Buchanan Street and into the St Enoch Centre to view the artworks in The Unexpected Artist gallery. As usual there were some good paintings, one or two excellent pieces and a variety of things at exorbitant prices that we wouldn’t give house room. Worst today was a large canvas of the Rest & Be Thankful in Argyll priced at an eye-watering £960. Honestly, on a bad day I could paint something like this, hang it on the bedroom wall and cover it with white gesso in disgust the next day. It might just have been worth £9.60 for the canvas, but only if I was being very generous. There were others in the same style, but this was by far the worst. Such a shame to see a little watercolour of a hare for £900 less, painted with much less paint and lots more skill languishing among the rubbish on display. It’s a great place to visit, because it reminds you that even your worst paintings and sketches aren’t as bad as you think, but that there are also works to strive for.

Bumped into Val again. Don’t see him for ages, and then we bump into each other two days in a row.

Walked back up to Sarti’s for lunch. Cauliflower and Bean soup for starter with Sea Bream and Veg for Scamp and Penne with Meatballs for me. Delicious. Maybe we’ll go to Charcoals next time. Walked back to the bus station and got the bus home. Well, got the bus to Condorrat and walked the rest in what had become a light drizzle. Maybe Sunday will be better after all!

PoD was a grab shot just outside the bus station. Liked the light through the trees and the wind blown leaves on the pavement. Sketch was a pencil sketch inked in with a Micron 0.3 of the new Ian Rankin book I’m reading.

Tomorrow we may go dancing to Mango in Glasgow if Scamp’s ankle is ok. Weather fairies predict slightly drier weather.

Dancing again – 10 October 2018

It was a lovely day today. Just like summer … in October!

I kid you not, blue sky wall to wall with just a few white clouds to disturb the monotony of all that blue. Even better, it was warm. Didn’t do much in the morning, just tackled my daily sudoku. Drove in to Glasgow and marvelled at the beautiful day after all the torrential rain we’ve had. Walked down to Blackfriars and struggled a bit with the Timesteps in Jive class. Next we got some pointers for the waltz and were actually Best In Class at Quickstep. Maybe that would be better phrased as Best of the Rest, because the Rest were struggling. Coffee afterwards to recap on our successes and work still in progress. PoD was shot in Queen Street. Just the hand of a mannikin reflected in a shop window.

Driving home the temperature reached 22ºc and I knew Scamp was champing at the bit to give the front grass its last cut before winter sets in. She got it done. I got my sudoku solved. I also got today’s sketch done. Just my wee Lamy pen getting it’s ink refill. I’d actually intended going for a run on the bike, but better to get the essential things done first, then the things that aren’t quite so important.

Drove to Salsa and re-learned Bueno with the level 4(?) class. George Brown made an appearance. As usual he tried to wind me up asking about my painting, but it’s easy to misdirect him. Anyway, it’s not me he’s interested in! Spoke to a couple of people I hadn’t seen in ages. That’s what’s good about the AdS classes, people leave and then return a few years later with stories to tell.

Reset all my passwords for mail from dhcampbell, just in case.

Tomorrow I may take the bus in to Glasgow just for a walk in the rain. This hot weather can be very boring!

Dancing, Pensioners and Painting – 26 September 2018

Today being a Wednesday was a dancing day. Drove in to Glasgow through the rain and high winds. Dancing started with Jive and especially the Lindy Hops, the Ladles, the Stepover and the Timesteps. Only the Timesteps set was new. New and demanding for me at least. Scamp, of course breezed through it with little or no problem. Waltz was looking good again with only a few corrections from Michael. In Quickstep we were trying to iron out the problems in the Check and Lock steps. Again, I should rephrase that to I was trying to iron out the problems with those steps. In Tango we were starting to learn a backwards turn. Honestly, ma’ heid wiz buzzin’ by the time we walked out of Blackfriars into a dry Glasgow and we went for a coffee to debrief and discuss progress.

Had a quick look in CassArt for a sketchbook to devote to Inktober 2018 which starts on Monday. One ink sketch per day, throughout the month of October, posted somewhere on-line. Mine usually go on my own Inktober group on Flickr and also on my blog. The group has been created and at present we have one member plus me, but I’m sure we’ll grow.

Scamp volunteered to do dinner tonight so I used the available time to paint another watercolour. This one, like the last two was based on a photograph. The photograph in question was a frame from a TV series about the lochs of Scotland. I think the view I chose was Plockton, but don’t quote me on that. I started painting purely with watercolour i.e. without a pencil outline. However, it became too difficult and there were a lot of perspective lines that needed to be there as a guide to the application of paint, so I set the brushes aside and lifted a pencil. Even after the pencil work had been done and the washes laid in place, it still looked a bit twee. That was when I added some ink lines and suddenly the painting looked a lot better. The pen gave the detail that was needed and the paint gave the colour. A great improvement.

After dinner (Kedgeree) we drove in to Glasgow to dance one class and it was really enjoyable. Nothing too taxing, just a relaxing dance or five! Even with two dancing classes, walking halfway through Glasgow and back, my step counter still says 9,525 steps. Somebody’s short changing me somewhere.

Today’s PoD was taken on the walk back from Blackfriars and its title is The Pensioners Day Out. I felt sorry for the poor wee bloke on the right who wasn’t allowed to join the group. Maybe he’d farted!

No plans for tomorrow. None at all!

Coffee and the Bridge to Nowhere – 14 September 2018

Coffee first then a walk over the bridge from nowhere to nowhere.

I met Fred for a coffee and a wee natter this morning. Just the two of us. We’d both forgotten to invite Val and Colin, so we share the blame. Topics were mainly about painting, drawing and photography. No politics for a change.

When we were done, instead of going our separate ways, we went by the new bridge. It’s not really new, it’s been there for a few years now, but few people cross it, so it’s new to a lot of folk. I’d never had cause to cross it until today, because both of us were parked on the north of Central Way that bisects the town centre and the coffee shop is on the south side. Here’s the first amazing thing. You don’t need to climb any stairs to get on to the bridge, there’s a lift. Hardly anyone crosses this bridge, but there’s a lift. The second amazing thing is that the voice that tells you “Doors Closing”, “Lift Going Up”, “Level One” etc, have a Scottish accent! The third, and probably the most amazing thing is that the lift and the bridge haven’t been vandalised yet. Maybe that’s because the lift and bridge take you from a ground level carpark to an upper story carpark. Who in their right mind builds a bridge and installs a lift to take you from one carpark to another. There is no direct access to any offices or shops from this bridge, just carparks. Maybe it was designed by a forgetful driver who couldn’t remember where he’d left his car and wanted easy access between the two possible sites. Who knows. It’s just another Cumbersheugh Anomaly. What it did do was give me PoD, so it can’t be all bad. One more strange anomaly is that when you do get across there’s a covered walkway along the side of the carpark, but only for about 20m then it just stops. The walkway continues, but then it’s open to the elements. It’s as if they just got fed up with the idea and abandoned it. It’s typical of Cumbersheugh, half finished. Walked across the wasteland of the upper carpark in the rain and drove home.

We were going out tonight to a meal in Glasgow to celebrate Scamp’s sister’s birthday which is actually tomorrow. Unfortunately she’ll be on her way to Southampton tomorrow for a holiday cruise to the Canaries. The meal was in the Premier Inn on Sausage Roll Street and although there were no sausage rolls involved, it was a good night. Most enjoyable. Again, because drink would be taken, we got the bus in to Glasgow and the bus back again. Sometimes I feel we spend half our lives on the x3.

That was about it for a wet and windy Friday in September. Tomorrow we may go east to Embra where you get a better class of weather than here.

Dance Marathon – 15 August 2018

Today we managed Jive, Waltz, Quickstep, Tango and Salsa. In that order.

In Jive we worked the knots out of spins 1 to 6, then had a go at spin 7. We had been practising at home so it wasn’t too bad. Spins 1 to 6 are fairly well set in muscle memory now, it’s just remembering the order that I find difficult. However Michael’s little short descriptions keep me right. It’s a work in progress!
Waltz was similar in that we were neatening up our routine and trying to get round an entire circuit of the floor without bumping into people, but when other dancers just stop right in front of you to have a wee discussion about what went wrong with their last steps, it makes it difficult for you to get any continuity in your own dance.
Quickstep was a new one today. We only got the first few steps of this dance. To be continued next week.
Tango was going over the first three moves with the dramatic head turn Boom! Boom! (You had to be there to understand that!)
Salsa was in the evening but it was still a learning experience. I learned that I wasn’t dancing some of my steps correctly, or to be more exact, I wasn’t leading the moves correctly. Even although we are helpers at these lower level classes, there are always things to pick up on.
That made just over three hours of dancing and I still didn’t complete my 10,000 steps today. Why, I do not know.

Between the ballroom class and salsa, I managed to get the PoD of the “Right Said Fred” men (the song, not the group) forming a human ladder to lift scaffolding pieces into place on a building that was being renovated in the Merchant City.

Also, I shelled half our peas and used them in a Prawn and Pea Risotto. I even used the chopped up pods to strengthen the stock for the risotto. Apparently it passed muster with Scamp. I agreed, but then I would, wouldn’t I?

Tomorrow the physio and it’s forecast for rain all day.

Flânerie – 9 August 2018

Flânerie: Aimless strolling or lounging; idleness.

Sounds about right. I got the bus in to Glasgow and go to see a photography exhibition Steven Berkoff: Gorbals 1966. It was a really interesting exhibition. All monochrome prints of the Gorbals and from a time when I was just starting to take an interest in photography. Also from a time when I started work. There was a picture of one bloke walking past a bar with a wild head of hair. It could almost have been me. I’d never set foot in the Gorbals, and he looked a few years older than me, but it could almost have been me.

On my way down from the bus station, I took some shots of buildings and stuff that I found interesting. That’s what’s good about going in yourself. You have time to take what you like, reject what you don’t and you don’t feel that you’re holding anyone back. No need to go shopping if you don’t want to (I didn’t want to today). Most of the shots I took were buildings, but I did stray into the Merchant City Festival area on the way back and grabbed some photos of the goings on there. PoD went to the shiny glass building on Queen Street, or to be more accurate, the reflections of clouds on that building. Every time I see it, I see something different.

With a few photos in the bag and the inspiration of those old photos I got the bus back. While I was waiting this big loud english girl came along pushing a pram and with another one in tow. Then her dim looking partner brought another one along. She sat down and the inevitable phone came out. Then she started swearing at the phone about some “stupid fu$*in’ bitch” who had sent her an offensive message on Facebook and then immediately blocked her and how she couldn’t then tell her exactly what she thought of her. The noise level got really high and then the kids started crying, but she didn’t attempt to tone it down or pacify the kids. She just kept ranting on. Poor bloke, I thought. We’ve only got to put up with that for ten minutes, he’s got the rest of his life to face that. Luckily they stayed downstairs while I got upstairs and into the front seat so I could drive!

Scamp was working in the garden when I got home. We lifted the small pot of potatoes and only got 370g which was well down on the first lot. We think the problem was that the plants were too dry. Still, they tasted fine in Scamp’s Chicken with Rats and potatoes.

Tomorrow is to be much like today, dry and partly sunny. We may go out somewhere in the afternoon.

Merchant City Festival – 5 August 2018

Today we tried to do as the CITRAC signs ordered and Use Public Transport.

Well, we would have used the nearest public transport, the slow X3, but it didn’t want to play today. Stood waiting and waiting before eventually giving up and walking to Condorrat. There we got the fast X something else which whisked us into Glasgow and we arrived there earlier than if we’d caught the missing X3. Went for a coffee and a wee pastry in Nero to fortify us for the day ahead, not knowing when or where we’d have time to eat again. Actually it wasn’t nearly as desperate as that. We were going to the Merchant City Festival which kicked off on Friday night, but was running at full steam today. On the way we had to cross the cycling circuit of the road race for the European Championships. Today it was Ladies day. It’s not hard to find the Merchant City, even if you’re a tourist. You just follow your ears. The sound of samba bands even drowned out the noise of whoever was on stage in George Square. Music, music everywhere, but thankfully no ‘Bastard Drummers’ or student pipers busking. Real music for a change.

First band we heard was the enthusiastic Katumba Salsa Band from Liverpool. Then, after wandering around we chanced upon the Pulse of the Place children’s band from Edinburgh who played a spirited samba version of the Doctor Who theme. Time for food again and Scamp got some churros while I waited in the queue for a margherita pizza. Both were excellent. The churros were fresh out of the deep fat fryer and covered in sugar. The pizza straight out of the wood-fired pizza oven on the back of a wee Italian three wheeler van. While we ate we listened to the Blast Furness Carnival Band. A slightly more mature group of individuals from Ulverston, dressed in striking red and black outfits. They were playing New Orleans jazz. Along the way we had bumped into Mr Mackintosh celebrating his 150th birthday and looking very spritely for his age. He was accompanied by one of his associates, both of them sporting what looked like extremely false moustaches. His wife was also with him (without moustache, false or otherwise). For some reason Chic was carrying with him a facsimile of one of his famous chairs and was encouraging people to pose on it. We rounded off today’s visit with an amazing performance of D-Construction by a French ’modern dance group’, Compagnie Dyptik. Some fantastic moves, jumps and leaps through space, all done with quite intimidating eye to eye contact and audience participation. Absolutely mesmerising.

After that we walked back through a eerily deserted looking Glasgow because all the roads had been closed for the road race. By this time the race was in its final stages and that’s where today’s PoD came from. One lone cyclist on the long descent of West George Street.

Got the X3 back home, yes they were running. Then had sausages, home-made beef burger, accidentally deconstructed beef olive (which will be forever called beef Clive in this house – long story) and a baked potato for dinner. Scamp had a parsimonious baked potato and beans. Followed by Scamp’s pineapple sorbet. After our usual Sunday coffee (with alcohol), we inspected the two hundred odd photos and videos and reflected on a good day.

Tomorrow, Scamp is booked for coffee in the morning and again in the afternoon. I’m going to fit the pedals on my bike and the cleats on my shoes and hopefully take the bike out without falling off!

Just a wee bit dancin’ – 25 July 2018

After all the excitement yesterday, today was a normal Wednesday.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and compared our experiences of the Becky Chambers Q&A. As you would expect, we both had different expectations and feelings about the night, but both agreed it was interesting.

Because of the summer holidays or maybe because of the hot weather, classes for ballroom are at random times and days today it was normal day but at 12.30 instead of 1.30. We had almost a private lesson again and went over Spin 6 again and also got introduced to Spin 7. This is Jive I’m talking about here. After that we went over the second half of the waltz routine, the bit I’ve been struggling with for weeks. It’s the strangest thing, some times it works perfectly and others it is a shambles. Towards the end, I was beginning to get the hang of it, but Anne Marie, the teacher we’ve had for the last two weeks is off to Australia tomorrow to see her daughter, so we’ll be in Michael’s hands for the next month or so. We’ll survive.

Took my bike out in the afternoon for another 25 minutes of actual cycling with a half hour or so’s interruption for photo taking. As it turned out, none of the photos were very good, so I fell back on an iPhone shot I’d taken in Glasgow earlier of two bottles talking to each other. At least, that’s how I saw it. I didn’t stage it, they were like that when I got there “Honest mister!” That became PoD.

Dinner was Sea Bass with Thai Flavours. Cooked en papillote (i.e. cooked in greaseproof paper). It’s a lovely way to cook fish, but I think I overdid the ginger. I’ll stick strictly to the recipe next time.

Went to salsa tonight and enjoyed the 7.30 class, but my knee was getting sore towards the end, so we didn’t stay for the 8.30 class, which was a shame for Scamp.  Another hot day.  We were so glad of the fans at the STUC.

Tomorrow morning I’m taking Shona to get an ambulatory BP monitor fitted in the morning. What fun for her! Physio in the afternoon.

Two wheels good – 19 July 2018

This morning I was going to do my quads exercise on two wheels.

It was a beautiful morning again and warm too, so cycling shorts and a cycling top were the fashion of the day. Pumped up the tyres and set off in pursuit of some photos and some exercise. The physio had suggested ten minutes of cycling at a steady pace of 90rpm. I don’t have a cadence meter on my bike computer, so I just pedalled at my usual rate which is probably nearer 80rpm and kept going for about 20 minutes. Went off road on to a track for a mile or so and stopped when the track ended. Took a few photos of a hover fly and one of the Two Amigos, the two beech trees that used to be Three before the storm earlier in the year. About turned and cycled back on my circuit. Stopped beside Broadwood Loch to grab the shot that would become PoD, someone’s lost dummy! Back on to the bike and home. About an hour all in. Not all cycling, probably about 40mins. Leg felt ok, in fact he cycling seemed to ease the nagging ache that had arrived in the night.

It was lunch time when I got back and after that Scamp stated her intention to go to Asda, and as the road to the town centre is closed for a few days, it was actually easier to go to Robroyston. The fact that Robroyston also has a Watt Brothers store, one of Scamp’s favourite shops, had nothing to do with her decision to visit that Asda. After shopping (and a visit to Watt Bros) we went for a coffee then came home. It wasn’t long after we got back that we noticed a lot of police activity at a house across the road. It became a bit more serious when a couple of folk in white Tyvek suits appeared. We’re still not sure exactly what happened, but it’s not looking good. Police have now gone, but I’m sure they’ll be back tomorrow and the rumour mill will have answers, at least one of which will have an element of truth.

After dinner Scamp decided there was just enough warmth in the sun to give her just cause to sit in the garden for an hour. I wasn’t so sure, in fact, the cool wind that was blowing from the west was all the encouragement I needed to finish my reading indoors.

Rain is forecast for tomorrow, heavy rain, so we’ve got buckets ready in the garden to catch every drop we can. Rain is so much better for plant than tap water, they say. It’s certainly cheaper!

Needles and Spins and Lasers – 18 July 2018

Combinations and permutations, that’s what it’s all about.

Out to the physio this morning and after probing the knee and watching my reaction, he pronounced that he felt it was on the mend. I hope so because it’s been nagging away all week. Not painful as such, just a nagging ache. He thought a bit of Laser would be good to start with and promptly pressed the goggles on me and gave me 5 minutes of Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. I have no idea what that means, except it’s painless. After that, he stuck some needles in me and left me to rest for ten minutes. When he returned, but he didn’t remove the needles, no, he had a better idea. Another 5 minutes of Laser. (You now know what it means now. Feel free to throw this acronym into conversation with all your friends.) Except, this time working in and around those terrifyingly sharp and thin needles. Finished with another ten minutes of relaxation when I was encouraged to move and bend my knee. I don’t know what part of it did the magic, or if it was a combined effect, but the ache was gone and it remained gone for almost the rest of the day. Another exercise to add to the the two I’ve already got. This one to strengthen the ‘quad’ muscle in my thigh. Felt so much better walking out of the gym. Oh yes, and either I cycle or I go to the gym a couple of days a week to strengthen my leg muscles too. I’m going to be a busy boy this week.

Home for lunch and then in to Glasgow for the first two dance classes of the day. Hoping I wouldn’t undo all the good work the physio had done, I cautiously attempted the first five spins. The solemnity with which they are described hints that they should be called:

The First Five Spins

Anyway, we covered them quite well and as there were only two couples, it was really intensive tuition. Michael wasn’t there, so it was Anne Marie who was taking the classes today. When it came down to the waltz, my nemisis, I felt sure the knee would crumble under the pressure, but despite having to spin on my left (weak) foot, there were no twinges. Brilliant. The dancing wasn’t brilliant, but now it was really personal tuition as we were effectively the only couple being taught. I think I finally cracked that awkward ‘natural turn’.

Today’s PoD was a grab shot in George Square. Poor Jimmy Watt from inventor of the Watt Steam Engine to Toilet for Shitehawks. No wonder his hair is turning grey!

Paella for dinner then Scamp offered to drive in to the STUC building for salsa. Thanks for that Scamp. I enjoyed being a passenger tonight. I have to admit that I did feel some twinges after two hours of salsa, but that was after a total of three hours of dancing today, so it’s pretty good. Tonight I put my feet up for a while and watched TV. I’ve still to do another session of my Quad Building which I will do after I’ve posted this.

Tomorrow we may go to Perth.