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Dreaming of things that could never be done – 6 October 2017

Today we went to Mugdock Park.

For the first time I actually used the satnav in the car. It worked perfectly. I knew how to get to Mugdock, but I wasn’t sure how to get in to central Glasgow from there and the satnav got me there without a single wrong turn. We went to Mugdock to go to a craft exhibition in aid of Playlist for Dementia, after being alerted to the event by a friend of ours. Exhibition was interesting, with quite a few decent paintings and also some lovely wood carving pieces. I wanted to go in to Glasgow afterwards and that’s where the satnav came into its own.

Saw some great places to photograph on the way in. Places I haven’t seen for years, like a place on Balmore Road I went looking for a job away back in the early ’70s. Didn’t get the job, got another one instead. Moving from one job to another was so much easier in those days, not like now. We parked in the JL carpark and I used that other brilliant piece of new-tech, the reversing camera. Honestly, I don’t know how I managed without it. In the street it’s useful, but in a multi it’s absolutely essential. We were on level 5 so we could just walk straight into JL which was convenient as I wanted to have a wistful, wishful look at an iMac. They had them in JL, but the model on display was an old-tech 2015 model. It might as well have been 1915, computers have moved on so quickly. It was running the latest Mac OS, but painfully slowly. Thankfully the ones in the Apple shop were up to date. For once, I’d say I’d trust them with my money before JL, but it’s just a dream at present.

For lunch we went to the Russian restaurant we went to ages ago and boring me had the same starter and main I had then while Scamp went for a different selection, but wasn’t impressed with it again. Hard to please, is Scamp. Of course I’m just the opposite. Happy with my lot 😉 Well, at least I was happy with my Borscht and Golubtzi.

On the way back I listened to a couple of blokes busking. The bloke on the guitar was ok, but the other one playing the sax was very good. That’s him at the top of the page.

Sketch today was done from a photo. I just can’t seem to gee my ginger and get some decent drawing done. Too much going on in my head I think. Must calm down, ground myself and my sketching will improve, I’m sure.

Trying out a new journal app now that Day One Classic has been dropped by Dropbox and is being retired by its makers. Day One 2 has been re-written and it’s now free, but to get it to sync you have to pay a hefty annual subscription. I’m not a fan of being held to ransom by subscription, so I’m testing out Journey. It works on OSX, Windows, Android and Chrome. For some reason best known to the makers, it is not available as an app for IOS, but you can use a web based version for free from any platform. I may not be using IOS either soon as my phone contract is up half way through the month and I don’t like the direction Apple are going with their mobiles. I think I will look at an Android instead.

Don’t have plans for tomorrow. Wait and see, that’s the byword.

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And the winner is the Juke – 5 September 2017

I made up my mind. The new car will be a Juke. A Flame Red one. That was Scamp’s part of the decision and I quite like red cars too.

Drove in to Stirling today to seal the deal and sign away all my indecision. Then Scamp suggested that since it was such a beautiful day, we should go to Perth to get tea and coffee and maybe a wee bit of lunch. Seemed like a plan, so that is what we did, with a bottle of prosecco in the boot courtesy of the dealership – you don’t get that with Arnold Clark!

Perth was almost empty today. If it wasn’t for some German tourists and a wedding party, it would have been completely deserted. You could tell they were tourists because they were all wearing tartan and rotating their street map to try to find where they were. Exactly the same as we do when we’re abroad. You could tell it was a wedding party because there was a lady with a white dress carrying a bouquet of flowers. Another clue was the group of ladies with what looked like giant black spiders on their heads. Bringing up the rear were the uncomfortable looking young men in kilts, fiddling with the tight collars of their starched white shirts. Oh what fun they were all having while the photog snapped photos for the overpriced wedding album. Cynic, that’s me.

Got my tea and coffee. Lunch was in the Breizh French restaurant. Food was interesting, but nothing great. A bit expensive. After reading a few reviews when we came home, it appears that it recently suffered from a change of ownership. That rarely means an improvement and that is what has happened here I think. May go back, but won’t rush.

Drove home and enjoyed an almost traffic free journey. I think we were just late enough to avoid the rush hour at the merging of the M80 and the M876. It’s usually a nightmare around 4pm and we were reaching it around 5pm.

Tried out the dash cam. Wasn’t too impressed with the quality of the recording until I tried it on my PC laptop with an i5 processor and everything improved greatly. It appears the Intel Core 2 Duo in the Mac just isn’t up to the job. Having said that, it will have to do the job generally for a year or so yet after today’s Flame Red investment!

Today’s PoD is of three folk attempting to emulate the statues in Perth High Street. Life Imitates Art.

Don’t have any plans for tomorrow. Just counting down the days to J-Day!

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The Lost Scotsman and the Lost Americans – 24 August 2017

Most railway stations have a newsagent or a coffee takeaway nearby. Not Lenzie. Lenzie has a psychologists office. I think that says a lot about the town. On the other hand, maybe it says more about me, because I noticed! Anyway, just an observation. Take of it what you will.

As you will have gathered, I took the train in to Glasgow. I managed to get the only, yes, the ONLY parking space in the enormous Croy Station carpark. Granted it was about a half mile walk to the station, but I was parked, and in a space. Not on a flower garden, not up on the kerb or in a turning circle, but in a space. On a Thursday, that is no mean feat. Had a wander around Glasgow. I had thought about having my hair cut, but rejected that until the autumn sets in, in September. What I was looking for was a cheap box of water soluble oil paints. I know, that sounds like an oxymoron, but they do exist and are very good. They have the feel of oil paints without the need for solvents. The smell of the linseed oil or the turps doesn’t bother me, but it does leave a lingering smell in the room that permeates to the whole house. I was also looking for a small watercolour block that I got in Tiger at the weekend and swapped for a roll of canvas when I met Fred yesterday. Like I wrote earlier, it wasn’t the best watercolour paper, but it was cheap and a neat size. Unfortunately the first shop I went to had none and the second only had the larger size which would have cockled (buckled) more when I put a wet wash on. On the way back I bumped into a group of young American guys (note the capital letter – If you don’t know what I mean, click here). They were lost and looking for Gordon Street. I couldn’t for the life of me remember where it was. I said sorry and walked on, then I realised that Gordon Street was the next street down. Walked back and told them. I also asked if they were going to the station. They said no, they were looking for a sports shop called Reeves. Reeves is a paint manufacturer, I was on my way to get some paint, so I just shrugged and said good luck. I was going the same direction as they were, so not wishing to crowd them, I slowed down. Almost at Gordon Street and the database in my head filtered out the answer to their problem. The sports shop was Greaves. One of the oldest sports shops in the UK if not the world. Tapped the leader on the shoulder and pointed at the illuminated sign behind him. His smile told me that’s where they were going. Isn’t it nice to do someone a good turn? The answer, which can be on a postcard if you wish, is YES!

Found the paints for a bargain price in Cass Art and got a canvas the exact size and proportions I wanted in Millers. Pity about the Tiger watercolour block, but I’ll keep looking for it. Headed home to find that they have eventually started the rebuild of Queen Street Station with hoardings all round the block and only a small entrance / exit to Dundas Street. Of course, because it was such a small entrance, some idiot english (same rules apply) family of about ten folk were blocking it. You don’t do that in Glasgow. People will just barge past, through and over you whichever takes their fancy. I did the ‘past’ option. Others took the ’through’. I didn’t see any ‘over’ supporters, but then it was Thursday. Now if it had been a Saturday just after full-time and Rangers had been robbed by a blind referee, there would have been carnage.

Today’s PoD was taken on Argyle Street and is entitled Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear.

Only had to wait about ten minutes for a train and that brings us neatly back to the start!

Met Duncan for a ‘wee chat’ and to hand over some books tonight. It was really good to hear his version of what day to day life is like in the school three years down the line. I really enjoyed the catch up and will probably take up his offer of a visit to see how the department works now. However, I have no intention of taking up his other offer of me doing ‘supply’. Oh no, I have a different life now and nothing will make me give it up.

Tomorrow June and Ian are coming for lunch.  Pannacotta is already made, cooling and hopefully setting.

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Gay for a Day – 19 August 2017

The sun enticed us out of bed and stayed with us until we left the house. After that it rained a bit, but it didn’t dampen our intent to go in to Glasgow on the bus. We were going to see the ‘maddies’ at Gay Pride.

We’d been to see the gay pride march last year, hoping to see one of Scamp’s old friends from work with her wife. Sorry, but I still find that a hard thing to say. Anyway, we didn’t see either of them and today was much the same. We started out with a coffee in Nero and then walked up Sauchiehall Street to Waterstones. On the way I went in to Tiger to get a pair of readers, because I had forgotten mine. In there, I picked up a watercolour block for the princely sum of £3! That’s about a quarter the price of the same sized article in Cass Art and they are the cheapest art shop in town. I’m not expecting much. It’s not going to be hand-made 100% rag paper, but for £3 you can’t expect miracles. Some people would say I always expect miracles! I was just going in to Waterstones when this bloke asked me how I was doing and if I was enjoying my retirement. I could almost see the Identikit pictures fluttering across my internal scanner as I tried to place him. Salsa? No, not salsa. High School? No, not high school, but there was a hook there. Teacher then? Yes. PT Tech from somewhere near. Kilsyth? Yes, that’s it. Isn’t the human brain wonderful. It’s been over three years since I’d last met Andy and I’ve had almost no connection to teaching since then, but the filters and sorts on my organic database worked their magic again. We talked for a while about people we knew and the state of Scottish education. I knew it was going downhill, you only have to watch the Scottish news to see that, but it’s much more pointed when you are getting the full story from someone at the chalkface. It was good speaking to him. I always got on well with him at PTs meetings. He was one of the quieter ones who had no need for arse licking. One of the few. We said our goodbyes and I wandered the bookshop trying to make sense of some of the things he had told me. For once I didn’t even add a book to my book list.

Met Scamp who had been raking through the bargain at M&S, then we walked down Buchanan Street to watch the march. We missed the start of it, but caught the most of the celebration. It never ceases to surprise me just how good natured this march is. Yes, it’s noisy and yes there are a lot of politicos there, but there is no bad feeling or even a harsh word. Everyone is just there to have a good time.  Even the rain showers didn’t dampen their enthusiasm. I got a few shots, quite a few, and when it was over we went to Cafe Andaluz for a tapas lunch washed down with a nice glass of red. After lunch we did a bit more shopping. Alliterative Sparkly Sandals for Scamp. For me, an inconclusive attempt to get a pair of jeans that I like at a price I was willing to pay. Possibly an impossible proposition.

To round off our day we dropped in to the Horse Shoe Bar for a little drink before we got the bus home. I don’t think Scamp was too comfortable on a shoogly bar stool. She’s not used to drinking at height.

Oh, today’s title doesn’t refer to us, at least I don’t think it does.  It was a discussion we had as we were walking back up Buchanan Street, wondering how many of those marching today with their rainbow colours and sequins were actually L or G or B or T or I.  We reckoned on about 50%.  The rest were just there for the fun of it or to support friends.  Why not?  That’s what life is all about.

Tomorrow? Maybe a walk in the morning. Tomorrow may be the first day of a new regime. A fitness regime. We’ll see how long it lasts.

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A day in the toon by myself – 10 July 2017

Spoke to Hazy in the morning, then went into Glasgow for a wander. Danced in the evening. That’s the synopsis.

Spoke to Hazy in the morning and discussed books among other things. That’s probably what sent me in to Glasgow. Scamp had other things to do today, but offered me a run to the station, probably to make sure I went. I had a walk around Glasgow and, yes, I did spend a fair amount of time in Waterstones. Finally got a book, a physical book to read. (FYI Hazy, it’s Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay)

Today’s PoD is of the reflections of clouds on the new 110 Queen Street building. It was either that or reflections of

Allegedly, the CityTree is a highly visual structure which, at 4 meters tall, nearly 3 meters wide and 2 meters deep, is said to have the environmental benefit of up to 275 urban trees.  This one was dumped planted outside the GOMA.

old sandstone buildings in the same glass building. You’ll need to visit Flickr to see that one. I’d half intended doing a sketch while I was in, but the rain came on and I didn’t manage it. I know I’m a sketch down after my lapse yesterday, but I’ll try to make it up tomorrow.

On the way home in the train, I glanced out the window while the train was going quite slowly and saw three fox cubs playing together in the grass of a cutting. They stopped to stare at the train as I stared back. So strange to see three cubs together in a little splash of sun after the rain.

While I made the dinner, Scamp picked blackcurrants from the bush in the garden. We’d noticed the birds taking an unhealthy interest in the blackcurrants recently and we were both determined to got our share of them picked and frozen. She managed to pick 1lb of berries. Less than it has been, but then the bush is getting quite old now. Scamp is very fair with her harvest. She never cleans out the busy, but always leaves some for the birds to have.

Salsa class was good tonight and although it wasn’t all that warm outside, it was hot inside and it was a joy to dance near the fan. Our new moves in Advanced class were:

  • Besso por Abaho
  • Agamemnon
  • Vueltas
  • Estrella

No real plans for tomorrow, but hopefully the weather will be better than today, because the rain was torrential on the way home from salsa class.

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Twa Dugs – 13 May 2017

Today we took the slow lane to Hamilton.

The slow lane is on the M74.  There are three lanes.  Slow, slower and stopped.  We were in ‘Stopped’ for a while, but then we moved on to ‘Slower’ and finally found second gear which you can only achieve in the Slow lane.

We parked in the retail park in Hamilton wondering if three hours would be enough to visit the two shops I wanted to go to, M&S for Scamp and Costa for a brown water – Hamilton hasn’t got a Nero yet.  As it happened, it only took us a little over an hour to complete our walk around this failing town.  It used to be a vibrant, busy town.  Mobbed on a Saturday.  Today there were more folk in the retail park than in the town centre and there were To Let signs on a load of shuttered shops in the retail park.  Such a shame.  However it provided today’s PoD one of the Twa Dugs that decorate the seating in the town square.

I thought we’d investigate the new M8 on our trip back to Cumbersheugh, but the road builders thought otherwise.  Halfway up the Bellshill bypass, the signs for Glasgow petered out to be replaced with signs for Embra.  It looked as if the road to Glasgow wasn’t quite ready for us yet, so we did as we were told and took the road to Embra.  We took it as far as Shotts before we could turn and head back to Glasgow again.  The road is a great improvement on the old one and when all the links are working properly it will speed up the east/west trip for all those commuters who face this moving carpark every day.

While we were taking our enforced diversion, we met with some really heavy showers.  It was good to see rain again after almost a month without.  However, I hope it remembers to turn the tap off some time soon.  I’m perfectly ok with with it raining all day, just as long as it stays dry for most of the day.

Dinner tonight was courtesy of Golden Bowl, the best and most consistent Chinese take-anywhere.  Chicken Chop Suey with Fried Rice for Scamp and Special Chow Mein for me was a pleasant change from our fish diet this week.  That said, today’s lunch of reheated Simple FIsh Stew was excellent.

Tomorrow?  I think it’s going to rain again, so I’m starting the boxer shorts Hazy.  The pieces were cut out tonight so tomorrow may be the big day.

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A Toy off the Rack – 21 April 2017

The toy in question was a Fitbit Charge 2. Scamp had decided that since I’d been using the cheapo Goji Go since Christmas, perhaps I’d like to move up to a more sophisticated model. The price was good in JL and so that’s where I got it. More on it later.

Clutching my new toy in its box we walked down Bucky Street and had coffee in the Nero at St Enoch’s after listening to four old guys who perform under the name Buchanan Street Preachers. They sing old stuff, our music, from the ‘60s and ‘70s and are good to listen to. I photographed them and Scamp gave them a couple of quid for their efforts. I managed a late sketch for my one a week. It was of the amazingly detailed building that now houses Cafe Nero. It used to be the underground station and is a Cat ‘A’ listed building. I was quite pleased with the finished sketch, especially the crinkly bits. It was a 20 minute job and the perspective is ok, but the proportions are poor.

On the way home I wanted to try to get the BT keyboard in a different Currys. They didn’t have the one I wanted, but they did have an alternative that looked just as good and at exactly the same price. As I was walking to the till I noticed a label on the box to say it was ‘pre-owned’ one. It was the last one on the shelf. When I got to the till the assistant checked the price and told me the same price as the label on the shelf. I explained that it was pre-owned, so what was the discount. No discount. “It’s probably just someone took it home and didn’t like it” he said. So it’s not someone took it home and the dog peed on it, so they brought it back? So it’s not someone took it home and spilled coffee on it, so they brought it back? “No, they probably didn’t want it.” I told him neither did I and left, keyboardless. What is wrong with Currys these days? They were never all that great, but a few years ago they seemed to be improving. However, if they continue to employ managers who can’t manage, managers who ignore customers and robots who are ‘only obeying orders’, they are going to go downhill fast. They are certainly losing me.

Back to the Fitbit. It’s quite an amazing upgrade from the Goji Go. Not only does it count steps, distance travelled and calories burned. It also counts stairs climbed and checks heart rate. Even better, it doesn’t have to be told what time you are going to sleep, it works it out itself, based on heart rate and the fact you’re not moving. Best of all is that you can get replacement straps for the inevitable time when your strap wears out. It’s much smoother and less bulky than the Goji. All in all it’s a brilliant upgrade and not in any way a toy. My only problem is getting it to sync to the Mac. I think I’ve solved that problem. I thought the Mac had Bluetooth 4, but what I was reading was the Apple Bluetooth software version. The actual chipset is Bluetooth 2 which is not supported by the Fitbit. Looks like I’ll need a BT dongle.

Hoping to go to Cramond tomorrow.

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Around and about – 15 April 2017

Today we started out being driven to Hitchen for lunch and a walk around the shops.  It seemed like a plan as the sun was out and it was fairly warm.

It seems a pleasant wee town with a busy market in the centre.  Had lunch in a Greek restaurant.  I had lamb casserole as my main after a starter of Borek which is filo pastry filled with Greek feta cheese & spinach.  Afterwards we went for a walk around the main part of the town where a Sikh group were giving out free food and cans of juice to anyone who wanted it, free of charge as part of their Vaisakhi festival.  We had just had lunch, but there were big queues at the stall, happy to make the most of the food on offer.  It appears that there is such a thing as a free lunch!

It being Easter, there were a few others stalls dotted around, a town crier shouting the odds and even a couple of Imperial Stormtroopers searching for those droids, I presume.  We were looking for Just Desserts, a dessert restaurant, but it when we found it, it was closed, not just for Easter, but for good.   It had had its just desserts.  Instead of a dessert, we settled for a posh, artisan coffee shop.  Coffee was lovely, if  a bit sharp and there were loads of cakes on display.  JIC and I had Yoghurt and Cranberry slice.  Best laugh of the day was when I went to the toilet and found the toilet brush was stuck in a Starbucks mug!  Someone with a sense of humour and an opinion of Starbucks much like my own.

Back in the town the Vaisakhi procession was in full swing with drummers and marchers who were preceded by two men spraying water on the road in front of the markers, presumably to ritually clean it for them.  It was all quite a jolly and colourful affair in the sunshine.  However, our parking time was nearly up, so we made our way past and old church back to the car with a few minutes to spare.

Went out later to see the new Mill House and it’s quite a revelation although there is still a fair bit of scaffolding enclosing it.  Sketched it, but I’m not impressed with the sketch.  May redo it later.

Dinner should have been in the Benington Bell which is a traditional British pub serving traditional Trinidad food!  I had Aloo Pies to start with, but everybody else had Salt Fish and Tomato.  Main for me was Lamb Curry for me and for everyone else was Chicken Curry.  I just like to be different.  Unfortuntely, Sim wasn’t feeling too good, so we just ate and left. (Since I’m writing this on Sunday, I can tell you that she was fine after a night’s sleep.) The food was really, and I mean really excellent.  Thank you JIC and Sim for that.

When we got home, Sim went for a snooze while we watched Black Mirror on Netflix.  Interesting programme.  Must search for it when we get back home.

Tomorrow (or to be truthful, today 😉 we’re hoping to visit a garden centre.)

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A Belated Birthday Bash – 11 April 2017

Got the bus in to Glasgow and went up Sausage Roll Street.  Got another spare pair of reading glasses from Flying Tiger which turned out to be the wrong strength!  (Note to self 1: 1.5 diopter readers from Flying Tiger not 2.0 diopter, Numpty) Then on to Blacks where I’d checked out a potential jacket last week.  This time I bought one.  Not  the one I’d checked out, but that doesn’t matter, this one fits and I like it.  The Bergy I bought in Embra will now go back.  I also bought myself a cook book because I liked the look of some of the recipes.  Foodies, what can you do with them?  On the walk down Sausage Roll Street, an Asian girl stopped Scamp and asked if she would take a photo of her with the two guys she was with.  Scamp just pointed at me and the girl gave me her camera, a Contax.  A Contax film camera.  What a beautiful piece of equipment.  I took two photos of the group as directed.  It was so strange to take a photo and not be able to see the result on the back screen.  I hope they turned out.

Next, it was down to Paesano for my BBL (Belated Birthday Lunch.)  Pizza No 3 seeing as you’re asking.  Anchovies Olives and Capers, washed down with a glass of Shiraz.  Very nice.  Down, further still to Argyle Street which is where today’s photos come from then the slow crawl back up to the bus station via Cass Art to buy some A4 HP watercolour paper.  HP means Hot Pressed i.e. smooth, no tooth.  Never used it before and haven’t had a chance to use it tonight.  Also via The Counting House for some cheap (and nasty) beer (Note to self 2:  Don’t buy Devil’s Backbone IPA, it’s fizzy and tasteless) and some “ok, but nothing special” Botanist G&T for Scamp).  Amazingly it cost just pennies over a fiver, so we shouldn’t complain too much.

Plodded on to the bus station and got the bus home, to find that the parcel had arrived from Hazy.  As usual, you are just as imaginative as your brother.
Who would have thought that a pair of boxer shorts would make a great birthday present?
Well, they would if you had to make them yourself!!!
Who’d have thought some mushrooms would have been a great birthday present?
Well, they would if you had to grow them yourself!!!
Thank you both for your imagination.  I loved them, although the mushrooms look easier to grow than the boxers will be to sew.

That’s about it for tonight, other than I’ve been trying to delete 500, yes, 500 files from my NAS drive and it was driving me crazy until I found a neat solution on the ’net that blitzed them in a trice.  That bloody iPhone had been downloading another update on  the fly.  It took up 1.2GB of space on the phone.  I can’t afford to lose that amount of space just because Apple wants to bugger up my phone, so it also has now gone into the ether.

Tomorrow I may go to Perf.  On the bus.

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A More Frugal Day – 19 February 2017

Milky white sky but mild.  Not really a day to encourage you out.

Lunch was a frugal scrambled egg on toast and dinner a baked potato with fish fingers and tinned spaghetti.  Neither of us felt like eating all that much after last night’s feast.

I made another bow tie and it took me half the time the last one did.  It was still a bit short, so I’ve made what I hope will be the final adjustments and may make one more just to be sure, but I’m going to use different material this time. Onward and upward!

Managed to get Scamp’s “illegal copy of Windows” back into the fold.  After consulting with Val and downloading Magic Jellybean – daft name – I found out that the CD key used for authenticating Windows was totally wrong.  So, all I did was type in the correct one from the label on the bottom of the ‘puter and, hey presto, it was licensed and we were legal again.  I have no idea how or when that got changed, but it did.  I also took the opportunity to remove what seems to be a dodgy Windows update at the same time.  It’s amazing, just how many people are complaining about this problem on the Internet.  This is the first time anything like this has happened to me, either with legal or not so legal Windows OSs.  Anyway, I hope it stays fixed and doesn’t revert to the dodgy side in a few months time.

Went to the Sunday Social tonight and enjoyed trying to remember the moves we were learning a few weeks ago.  We didn’t stay that long as I had a real nagging headache that simply wouldn’t go away.  Back home, and after swallowing a couple of paracetamol, it disappeared. Like the Windows problem, I don’t know where it came from, but unlike Windows, I couldn’t just type in the correct CD key!

Today’s PoD was seen in a doorway in Pitt Street in Glasgow.  Strange instructions.  Today’s sketch is of our new dressmaking scissors.  I think this is the first time I’ve used Promarkers since I left teaching. They gave a bit more depth and realism to the sketch.  I’d intended going out and doing a sketch in the wild, but it wasn’t happening today.  Too dull.

So I finish today’s blog where I started it, talking about the weather.  Nicely cyclic.