Napoli – 24 June 2018

P1050113- blogNaples today.  28c predicted and achieved.

Yes, it was Naples today, but we weren’t in a rush.  We chose to spend most of the morning in and around the pool.  It was quietly relaxing with all the maddies off on tours round Sorrento, Capri, Pompeii and Vesuvius.  Us, we were going looking for a pizza shop.  In Naples.  It has a few pizza shops!

We never did find that pizza shop, although I was sure I knew exactly where it was … a few times.  I knew it was on a side street to the main road that was up a hill.  Scamp knew it was to the right when you left the ship.  It turned out both of us were wrong.  We wandered round some of the seediest parts of Naples and that’s where I got today’s PoD.  Some really dodgy areas near the docks.  A bit like Carbrain.  Ok to walk through in daytime, not worth risking at night.  I’d hate to have a new car in Naples.  Every one we saw today had bashes and scrapes.  Some were missing windows, nearly all had broken lights or cracks in the windscreen.  It’s when you see the traffic and when you try to cross the street, you realise how they get into that state. 

We eventually gave up on our search for the ultimate pizza shop (that’s twice in two days!) and settled for a busy pizzeria near the port.  It was all going well until I tipped over my beer and soaked the table.  It was all sorted quickly.  Table was cleared and we were moved to another one.  A fresh pint was brought at no charge and we both had our pizzas.  Mine was a bit underdone, but it wasn’t until I started to eat it that I realised it had no sugo (tomato sauce).  Another silly mistake.  Had an extra glass of wine just to be sociable and paid about half the price we’d have paid at home, so left a good tip for the entertainment and good humour of the waiters.

Going through security today was much more laid back.  I triggered the alarm going through the scanner.  The Italian polis looked at me.  I said “Shit.  Forgot my watch.” he shrugged and said “OK.”  That’s how it should be done!

Back on the ship we both decided we’d have a light dinner at Smash & Grab, and that’s what we did.  Went to a really awful Tropical Party on the pool deck which consisted of drunk punters shouting a lot.  Not my idea of fun, nor Scamp’s.  Ended up going to the posh, quiet downstairs bar for a Long Island Iced Tea for Scamp and a Jolly Olly IPA for me. 

Early bed again and more of the same tomorrow in Civitavecchia, but without the beer waterfall, hopefully.

Dancin’, but No’ Dancin’ aye, Dancin’ – 13 June 2018

Confused? You will be.

Today we went dancin’, although I had been warned not to by my experts. However, we had agreed between ourselves that a half hour of ballroom wouldn’t do me very much harm. It didn’t. I’d told Michael that I was crocked and that I’d sit out the jive. He agreed.

We danced the waltz quite well, but Michael pointed out where we were making it too simple, and then it was so obvious that we were cutting corners. It always is obvious once you have it pointed out. It’s the turns, even in the waltz that are causing the problem with my knee. I’m sure about it now.

On to the jive and I sat out. However, it made the class unbalanced with an odd number and, as he had already said he was just going over the first four spins again <This should really have a ‘Technospeak’ warning, shouldn’t it!>. As he was just going over the first four spins again to make sure we were confident with them, I felt I could walk through them without causing myself too much discomfort. It was easy! I even managed to dance the routine (quite badly). So we now have a couple of weeks off before we get a chance to dance again and it will be Ballroom Tango when we go back, instead of waltz.

Walking back from the dancin’ was where I saw the motorbike or scooter to be more exact, with a wide empty space behind the handlebars. It was Scamp who noticed that there was no seat and then we both realised at the same time that this was a scooter for a disabled person in a wheelchair. What a brilliant idea. This was no Mobility Scooter, this was a scooter for a biker in a wheelchair. Not only that, this was a vehicle with street cred and attitude. It even had a handbrake! How smart is that! There was no competition, this had to be PoD.

Portrait class tonight was more interesting because it was our first chance to use colour. It was going well until someone noticed that the elderly gentleman, Jim, who was sitting for us had gone a strange colour and seemed to be on the point of passing out. We got him off his stool and on to a chair, but he was determined to continue and posed again for the second sitting in the chair. I was quite pleased with my last night’s work in the class. It’s not been a wonderful class, with little in the way of actual tuition, but it’s given me the chance to measure my skills against others like myself. Learned a bit about where all the bits of a face go(!) and gained some confidence in my drawing. Still don’t want to do a full life class. I remember saying to the principal teacher of art at school that I couldn’t handle figure work (nudes) and he told me with a wink, “You’re not really meant to handle them!”

Another blood letting tomorrow, then we’re hoping to face the stormy weather and go for lunch in the West End.

Embra in the Spring

Today we did as we had planned and went to Embra where we found the sun.

We left Croy with the sun completely hidden behind layers of heavy cloud. It was quite warm though, so we shouldn’t complain too much.

Coffee in Nero when we got to the Capital and then a walk through the Farmer’s Market where I bought tomorrow’s dinner, a piece of mutton from Annanwater. I’d bought from them before, so was sure that it would be fresh and good quality. I think I prefer mutton to lamb now. It’s not as light a meat and needs a fair bit of care in cooking, but the taste is that much richer and deeper. (Foodie Speak)

Walked up to the Grassmarket and after perusing the stalls with exorbitant prices for food (well, it is tourist season and a bank holiday to boot) we settled on Petit Paris, the inevitable choice for both of us. Lovely French restaurant run by French blokes where the food, as well as being French is lovely.
Starters:
Green Pea and Garlic soup for Scamp
Pan fried Brie wrapped in Filo for me
Mains:
Fillet of Cod with Mash for Scamp
Beef Bourguignon for me
I even risked Nick the Chick’s anger by having a glass of red wine. When we came out the Grassmarket was mobbed. Tourists everywhere. It looked like a score of tourist busses had just disgorged their passengers and driven off. We walked up West Bow Street which was where I got the PoD of two biddies scoffing their lunch, sitting on the pavement. From there we walked across the Royal Mile and down the steps to the National Gallery. Stood and watched an ok guitarist, piper and drummer busking. Nothing special, but it entertained the bank holiday crowds. This was all done under blue skies I hasten to add. One of the advantages of going to Embra is that because it’s the capital, it gets better weather than the Glasgow area. I think it’s written into a statute somewhere.

Scamp was on the hunt for a new pair of dance shoes and there is a really good dance ware shop on Rose Street, so that was our next port of call. After securing that purchase (to be delivered to the house next week) we dropped in at Waterstones where I browsed the books, but didn’t find anything I wanted to buy. We were fed and fed up by this time, so after a walk through Princes Street Gardens we got the train home. As we travelled west, we lost more and more of the blue sky and it was replaced by more and more grey clouds. Arrived back at Croy and found it as we’d left it, grey, damp and warm. At least we had some east coast sun today.

Watched an ok, but nothing special film ‘Dough’ on Netflix.

Tomorrow should be a better day if the weather fairies are to be believed. Let’s wait and see. Some stuff needs to be taken to the dump, some gardening needs to be done and the bike needs another outing. Also, some mutton needs to be cooked. Hopefully some of these tasks will be completed, and hopefully under blue skies!

You shall go to the ball – 25 April 2018

I had an idea at 4.30am

I woke at 4.30 this morning with an idea in my head. Today we were hardly going to be in the house. We were off to Glasgow to waltz and jive at midday and we wouldn’t get back until around 4pm. After dinner we were going to be off again to salsa for another couple of hours. We’d out of the house more than in it and wouldn’t notice that the heating was off, so why not cancel the repair to the boiler and re-schedule it for tomorrow. That’s what we did. There was no problem re-scheduling and we both got to dance practise. Simple. I don’t usually get good ideas in the middle of the night, but today I did.

Waltz was good, so good that we got to go on to the next dance which was Quickstep. I was so good at it, that I was too quick for quickstep and had to be slowed down. Michael wasn’t there, it was Ann Marie, his second in command, who took the class and went over the first steps in quickstep. It seems too simple, I’m sure it’s not. Jive was just the reprise of the first routine and also the First Spin of the Seven Spins. Ann Marie was answering questions about a dance this Sunday. The stupidest question was by one girl who asked “See this dance, do WE get to dance too?” Obviously she’d led a sheltered life and had never been to a dance before. They not only walk among us, some of them dance among us too!

On the walk back to the car I grabbed a few shots of the characters outside the Gallery Of Modern Art (GOMA) in Queen Street. My favourite and PoD is at the top of the page.

Salsa tonight was again a lot of fun. We managed three, well, actually two and a half classes tonight and needless to say both our fitbits were registering all green for our activities. I’m quite happy to admit that I was totally shattered coming out of the STUC afterwards. Drove home to a cold house with the hope that the repair man can get the boiler going again tomorrow, because it now won’t even try to start up.

So again the repair man will be knocking on the door between 8am and 12 noon tomorrow. We’ll have to be up and ready. That means an early(ish) bed. G’night!

Friday The Thirteenth. Ooh Scary – 13 April 2018

Today we took the train in to Glasgow.

Scamp offered to drive us to the station, partly because it was easy to park and partly because we are hoping to go to Kilmarnock tomorrow to visit an old friend and I will be driving. Parked, walked smartly to the station and the train drove in just as we reached the platform. That was nice.

We walked down through George Square and that’s where I saw the seagulls (aka Shitehawks) having a food fight. Too good an opportunity to miss, so I grabbed a few shots. The Teazer excels in low grey light, low contrast light. It’s not so good now in bright contrasty conditions. That’s because it’s always in my jacket pocket with all the lint and oos (Remember oos? It’s a gran word for dust and wool fibres. It’s got a hard ’S’ at the end not like ooze more like the ’S’ in keys.). Oos. Try to find some today and say the word. Remember the word. Some words shouldn’t be left to die. But I digress. The oos gets into the lens and causes flare in the photos. Today the Teazer had no problem with the soft, flat, grey light.

As we walked down the same streets as we walk on a Wednesday I realised that we hadn’t practised our ballroom steps as we should have. Must get some practise done at the weekend. I refuse to have another disaster Wednesday. Scamp was heading for M&S and we went in through the side door. I told her I’d go to Millers in Stockwell Street and meet her in ten minutes. When I went to leave by the front door, Wow! There were hundreds of people milling around on Argyle Street. No, not a hyperbole, there must have been at least 200 people there and they were walking en mass up Stockwell Street, something was up. Then I noticed that one building and a shop were being evacuated across the street. There were people with clipboards, people with coloured paddles organising other folk into manageable groups and checking off names. I went back in and phoned Scamp to tell her, just in case M&S were going to follow suit when all the folk started to walk back to the building they’d recently exited. No fire engine, no police cars or ambulances. No sirens. Either it was a false alarm or today, Friday 13th, had been chosen as a safety drill by someone with a sense of humour. By the time Scamp appeared, none of the two hundred odd folk were to be seen. Weird.

Went along to Paesano and had a pizza lunch. We both had the customised pizzas we’d discussed the last time we were in Paesano and both agreed the customising is the way to go in future.

While Scamp was in a shop in Bucky Street I grabbed the shot of the bloke on the phone, talking to his Boss!!

Walked through to Cass Art and on the way grabbed my PoD outside the GOMA.  I think looks quite smart in mono.

Back home I found a parcel waiting for me. This was the second of my birthday parcels from JIC. I won’t say what it is, just that it’s very personalised and really quite funny. Photo coming soon when I get a chance to take time over the capture.

Tomorrow we are hoping to visit an old friend we haven’t seen for a long time. Looking forward to it.

Saturday in the Toon – 7 April 2018

Today Scamp had booked lunch for us in Chaophraya Thai restaurant.

Got the bus in to town and went for a wander up Sausage Roll Street. Stood gaping with the others at the demolition of the New City Palace restaurant, Greggs, The Works and who knows what else? They might even have to demolish Lauders! It will have a lot of smoke damage from the fire next door, but will any of the clientele notice? Probably not. It will just add to the ambience.

While Scamp looked for holiday stuff, I went to Waterstones. Found a book I was looking for, but didn’t buy it until I’d consulted Amazon. Glad I did. Waterstones price for the ‘real book’ £12.50. Amazon price for the kindle version £0.99! No contest. Did buy myself a ‘paintery and painterly’ book with some very interesting techniques in it. May try them out this week. Got a bargain of two posh rugby shirts for less than half price in M&S. Walked down the town looking for somewhere to get a drink. Found Drury Street Bar where Scamp had a G ’n’ T and I had a pint of draught Joker IPA, except it tasted exactly like the bottled version. Not real ale then. Quite a young person’s pub with everyone playing games :-/ Can’t imagine what the members of the UBI club would think about Dungeons & Dragons! Then it was time for lunch.

Pork Dumplings and then Thai Green Chicken Curry for me and Veg Tempura and Thai Red Prawn Curry for Scamp. Both served with Jasmine Rice. Starters and mains were the usual exceptional quality.  Only slight disappointment was Scamp’s Coconut Ice Cream and my Moroccan Mint Tea. Scamp’s complaint was that it was just ice cream with a bit of coconut – as she said, we’ve tasted the REAL stuff in Trinidad and in Tobago. My complaint was the MMT was advertised as Loose Tea and what I got was a tea bag in hot water. Not the same thing. Foodies, what can you do to satisfy them?

Bus home afterwards and although the weather had been warm and dry, just got in and  the rain came on and stayed on all evening.  Watched the qualifying for the F1 GP in Bahrain and then the final portrait of some american actress, Kim Cattrall, painted by the winner of Portrait Artist 2018. The portrait, to our eyes, was poor with only a passing resemblance to the actress. Having said that, she got what she deserved. She was so full of herself and her love for Liverpool (which she left when she was three months old according to Wikipedia). Who knew what she actually looked like.

Still plugging software into the new Linx. It’s still holding a good charge and joy of joys, Lightroom 6 on it reads the problematic Panasonic TZ70 raw files. You don’t need to know what that is. Just accept it that it’s a very good thing!

PoD, in fact almost the only picture of the day is of some bloke looking really lost and alone in Buchanan Street. Almost feel sorry to post it!

Tomorrow? Don’t know. May go to a food fair in Glasgow. Foodies? Us? May go cycling if the weather stays warm (9ºc just now at 11.30pm). Who knows. I get to decide, apparently.

Fire! – 22 March 2018

I decided to have some ‘me time’ today in Glasgow.

The plan was for me to take the bus in to Glasgow and then go to the West End on the subway for some sketching in the Botanic Gardens, then grab that shot from yesterday when I returned to the City Centre. It didn’t exactly work out that way.

On the way in there was an enormous pall of smoke on the horizon. A really mucky looking pall of smoke. Then I noticed Scamp had sent me a text to say that there was a big fire on Sauchiehall Street (AKA Sausage Roll Street). As we got near Glasgow I could see that it was indeed a big fire. Came out of the bus station and wandered round the side of the Concert Hall to see if there were any photos to be taken. There were, and hundreds of people were taking them with every conceivable photographic device, from old clunky SVGA point ’n’ shoot cameras to professional full-frame DSLRs and everything in between. And then there were the phones. This was a big incident. I took some right away with the Teazer.
First rule of photography: Take the shot, then think about it. You might not get another chance.

After that I started looking for a decent angle and a way to isolate some of the action. I took about 15 – 20 shots before the police came and ordered us across the road, behind a newly erected safety cordon. Really, it was like herding cats. Some folk moved away as directed while others, new on the scene said “Oh, what’s happening there?” and slipped under the cordon (because it wasn’t applicable to them, obviously) and calmly started shooting with their shiny new smartphones. I sometimes feel that the police can be a bit overpowering and heavy handed, but today they deserved medals, each and every one of them for not losing their cool and just huckling some of the numpties off to Stewart Street (polis station). By that time I had all the shots I wanted and walked down Bucky Street to get the subway to Kelvinbridge.

Walked up Great Western Road to the Botanics and after a walk round the Kibble Palace, I went back out and started sketching the Victorian glasshouse in all its wrought iron glory. Not the best sketch I’ve done, but it got the gist of the building. Also, although the temperature was almost 10ºc, it was still cool. Maybe too cool to be sitting on a park bench for the half hour it took for the sketch.

Back down Byres Road and got the subway back to Glasgow. Took it to St Enoch’s to the Nero for a spot of light and late lunch. Nice wee alliteration there! Walked up Bucky Street to the new even more extreme cordon, this time cutting off Jessops and the other Cafe Nero (glad I hadn’t banked on getting my lunch in there!) The polis had craftily blocked off one of the entrances to Buchanan Galleries and just extended the cordon across the road there. Everyone was behaving themselves now because the flames were almost out and there wasn’t much to see. Out through JL and was just crossing over to the road when I saw the shot on the right at the top. It looked like a film set. Now if that had been London or Birmingham or Manchester, the words on everyone’s lips would have been “Terrorist Incident”. In Glasgow it was “So is Lauders Bar open?” (Lauders is the pub on the corner next to the fire.)

PoD was the firefighters on the extended platform, top left. Whatever these blokes get paid, it’s not enough.

Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow. Scamp’s meeting Shona for a catch-up. I might paint.

Anniversary – 17 February 2018

45 years ago today we made it legal. The rest is history.

We got the bus in to Glasgow today to have lunch, a wee drink, perhaps and to celebrate our anniversary. We were heading to Sarti’s when Revolución De Cuba caught Scamp’s eye. She fancied the baked hake, wrapped in a banana leaf and the Caribbean Chicken Curry would do me. Drinks in a Cuban bar just had to be Mojitos. The Mojitos turned out to be lack lustre with too much ice, not enough alcohol, mint or sugar. Disappointing. The Caribbean Chicken Curry was deliciously fruity and hot, but lacked the volume I was expecting. Scamp’s baked hake was the same, but worse. Lacking in filling power, but also lacking in seasoning. We paid and left to have coffee in Nero with a slice of cake each, to make up for the pudding we didn’t have.

Wandered round the centre of town. I had a look in CassArt to see if I could anything with a 75% that was advertised on big billboards in the windows. I found one little taster acrylic set that almost made the cut, but wasn’t worth buying for £2.25. Walked up to JL to buy our big anniversary prezzy for us and the house, an Amazon Echo. It had been on sale for £75 earlier in the week, but now it was back to the Amazon price of £90. I was happy to walk away from it. Maybe ‘happy’ isn’t the right word, ‘settled’ maybe gives a better idea of how I felt, but Scamp convinced me that we should buy it. Which is what we did. We were going to have a drink, then get the bus home, but then I suggested getting the bus along to Craiglinn, have a drink there and walk home. That’s what we did. One dobber on the bus, a former pupil. He pontificated almost all the way home. I remember him as a pupil at school. An opinionated, but utterly useless individual. He hadn’t changed.

After a drink in the dingy, but fairly cheap Stonehouse ‘restaurant’, we walked home and plugged in the Echo. Spent an interesting hour or so trying to get ‘Alexa’ the automaton to play some music. ‘Her’ most common phrase seems to be “I’m sorry, I can’t find XXX in your music library.” I’m sorry too. She may be going back to JL.

Today’s PoD was an attempt at a reflection / distortion shot of the Saturday crowds in Glasgow.
Yesterday’s and today’s 28 Drawings Later paintings are oils. Yesterday’s is the orange and today’s is the apple. Used a mixture of oil paints and then realised that although the Water Soluble Oils and the Fast Drying Oils mix happily, if you add water to them, only the WS Oils will dilute and then separate from the FD Oils. Obvious really when you think about it. Pity I hadn’t thought about it before I messed them up! Still, the survived long enough to be photographed and entered. Oh yes, and Scamp bought me a new phone case with the camera aperture the correct size and in the correct position, so no more dark shadows I hope.

Tomorrow? It’s a Sunday Social day, so dancing, of course.

Dancin’, Dancin’, Dancin’ – 7 February 2018

Did I mention that we were dancin’ today?

Scamp was out in the morning which gave me some time to slap some acrylic paint on a piece of corrugated cardboard. It had already been primed with a mix of green, red and blue paint yesterday. Then after a quick lunch when Scamp returned, we were off the other first and second dance class.

First class was Waltz and it was not as frantic or as difficult as the first one a fortnight ago, mainly because we’d been practising. Second class immediately afterwards was Jive and it was difficult. Much more footwork than I’d imagined. After that we just drove back home

While Scamp made the dinner, I returned to the painting and blocked in the mass of the foliage, the foreground grass and the area between that would be the trunks of some trees. After dinner (fish curry made with yesterday’s daal and a couple of pieces of smoked haddock – quite delicious) we got ready for the next lot of dancing.   Luckily it would be easy because we were helping out at beginners classes.  There were too many men as usual at the first class, so I helped out with Shannon’s beginners.  A bit of a culture shock as the moves aren’t very well explained, nor is the timing very clear, but she does make sure the basics are covered again and again and again.  I won’t say any more as I would go on for quite some time.  Next class was also a beginners class, but much more fun and no poking fun at folk who couldn’t get things right, but that’s just Jamie’s way.  A much more gentle and considerate approach.

Came home and slapped the sky in and also added the highlights on the trees and it is now up for perusal on Flickr and Instagram:

Five Trees

Today’s PoD was seen at Candleriggs in Glasgow.  It should spell Candleriggs Square, but someone has nicked a few of the letters.  It reminded me of the anagram round in Countdown.  “Could I have a consonant please.”

I think Scamp is off having coffee AGAIN tomorrow, so I’ll probably clean up the mess in the back room and see what’s what.  May go dancing at night!!

Stranger in a strange land – 31 January 2018

Today I left the real world and entered the world of darts, hems, gussets and linings. I went on a cloth hunt.

Scamp gave me a lift to the station and I caught the express train to Glasgow Queen Street. The express only makes one stop, Glasgow Queen Street. Take note First Bus. Not twenty stops. It, the train also takes about 12 minutes to get to Glasgow from Croy. The ‘Express’ X3 takes about 40 minutes. I could go on, but what’s the use. We’re stuck with the slow bus. That said, the bus stops at all the stops it’s supposed to while the train sometimes misses a station if it’s running late, but only about 20 times a day says the Scotrail representative as if that’s ok then. Ok as long as you aren’t running to a tight schedule and need to get to a meeting, or an appointment, or anything really. Ok as long as it’s not the Scotrail representative who misses his station. He probably doesn’t have that problem anyway as Jaguars and Daimlers are fairly reliable cars, so he never has to travel by public transport.

It was raining and then sleeting in Glasgow. Such a change from yesterday when the sun shone almost all day, or so it seemed to us. Today I was out getting cloth, sorry, fabric, lets speak the language of the country we’re in. I was buying fabric for a waistcoat I’m making. It’s part of the Christmas present from Scamp. She bought me the pattern and I got to choose my fabric, then I have to make it. A waistcoat seemed easy to start with, but now that I’m getting to the nitty gritty of it, it’s not that simple. However, I got some help from the assistants in a couple of shops today and now have some Tweed, some Cotton, some Viscose lining and some Satin. Probably enough to make two waistcoats. Hopefully it will look a lot better than the boxers, Hazy. I was shocked at the price of some of the material (Material is similar to Fabric, I believe). I foolishly thought it was going to be fairly cheap to make your own clothes, it’s not. And all those new words I’m picking up. Now I know how my pupils felt when they met strange things like Tenon Saws, Sash Cramps and Ball Pein Hammers. Every skill has its own terminology and I’m beginning to learn the correct words and grammar for this skill.

Got a few photos round the town when I was wandering around, but most were rejected after I’d had a good look at them on the computer. The bloke crossing the road was a grab shot, but I liked it the best, so it’s my PoD.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to get the paper pattern cut out for the waistcoat and as Scamp is going out tomorrow night, I might have a go at a mock up, hopefully without too much mockery!