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The gas man cometh and great winds did blow – 24 April 2018

The gas man came early which gave us the impetus to get up.

The gas man phoned just after 8.30 to say he’d be with us in about 20 mins. So that was it, put the book down, get dressed and get the front door open. Shower later. This is the earliest we’d been up since November! That in itself is scandalous. The central heating check didn’t take too long and for once there wasn’t a heavy push to replace the boiler. It was more a case of “If it’s not broke, don’t buy a new one … yet”.

With the rest of the day to play with we sat down with a cup of coffee. Scamp sat to read, I sat to do today’s Sudoku. After that and a quick run to Tesco to get tonight’s dinner, Scamp decided she’d go for a swim. I wanted to paint another masterpiece. She had her swim and I made a mess. Used black lacquer instead of black acrylic and then sprayed water on it to completely botch it up. Not to worry, it was just a small abstract. It was certainly abstract now. It may dry and it may not. I don’t really mind which. After that and after trying to clean the brushes with Hammerite thinners which will usually clean anything I was left with three claggy, oily feeling brushes. Tried heavy duty detergent on them and that didn’t work. I now have them steeping in warm water and will try using white spirit on them tomorrow. They weren’t expensive brushes, it’s just the challenge that’s keeping me going at it.

With the aborted abstract congealing on a board, I set about a landscape painting of the hills from the back window. Almost successful. Such a damning statement! Then Scamp arrived home just as the sun was coming out for the hundredth time today and she wanted to cut the front grass. Afterwards she was delighted with the speed at which she could blow the grass cuttings across the path into the trees. What would have taken about 15 minutes of heavy brush work was achieved by the Christmas Big Box Toy in about 20 seconds. Honestly, that was all it took. I think she was a bit disappointed because she wanted to play with it for a little longer. She’s had to wait four months to get to play with it and it was all over in half a minute.

The sun came out just before dinner and illuminated the garden. I quickly grabbed the Nikon and took a few macro shots of flower buds, mainly the Pieris which should by rights be a mass of red and orange foliage by now. Unfortunately it’s just the buds that are red at present, but it will be much more colourful by next week. One of the shots became PoD.

After dinner, it was my turn to do the dishes, but there was no hot water. Checked the boiler and sure enough the flame light was out. Pressed the reset button, but the power light was resolutely off. Unplugged it and re plugged it, but still no joy. Phoned Scottish Gas and the call centre girl told me she’d booked an engineer, the same one who had broken a working boiler this morning. He’d call between 12 and 6 tomorrow. I told her that was poor service, but I realised as I was saying it that she was just the messenger who didn’t want shot. She said I should visit the Scottish Gas website to see what freebies and great offers were available. I declined. She signed off by telling me to “have a great night”!!

Tomorrow? Waiting for the gas man I suspect.

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The Fit Family – 27 March 2018

Today was gym day.

I avoided it yesterday by going cycling instead, but today I had to bite the bullet and go, because Scamp too had decided it was time to revisit the machines of torture. That said, we did take it easy in the morning and had our coffee before we grabbed the bags and went out in the rain.

It was harder than I anticipated. I did my 12 minutes on the recumbent cycle and then frittered away some more time on some of the weight machines and the treadmill before finishing up on the leg press. Scamp worked the treadmill for 15 minutes or so then competed for a place in next year’s Boat Race with a sparkling performance on the rowing machine. Next it was time for a relaxing swim and it may have been something we said or maybe the excessive sweat from my exertions was overpowering, but everyone left the pool when we went in. A few lengths of the minuscule pool and ten minutes in the sauna and we were out. That’s it for another week. Scamp thinks we might go earlier next time. She mentioned 8am, but I think (hope) that was a joke. If not, it was wishful thinking.

In the afternoon I went for a walk around St Mo’s to see if there was anything wanting its photo taken. Couldn’t see much at first, but then I spotted the little green shoots of sycamore seedlings sprouting through the leaf litter (PoD). Don’t know if many of them will survive, but it was a hopeful start seeing all the green shoots. One final shot of what may become a Larch flower (https://flic.kr/p/RZNASn). They look really remarkable when they burst into colour. Never knew pine trees had such beautiful blooms. It’s amazing what you see when you take the time. Just because there were no deer or foxes in the woods doesn’t mean there’s nothing to see. You just have to look a little more carefully. It’s even better if you have a macro facility or lens for your camera. Once you’ve seen the world from 20mm in front of your nose, you’ll understand the fascination of this kind of photography.

It had been dry for most of the afternoon, but the rain came on when I was walking home, but it wasn’t such a dull day after all.

Tomorrow is Dancing Day with the possibility of a slightly different plan. Who knows?

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Just another day in paradise – 08 March 2018

P1040411_2_2It’s Thursday today and that can only mean one thing.  Thursday Prezzies.  Scamp had chosen her prezzy and in late morning we walked to the shops.

That was after we lazed for an hour in the shade beside the pool.  I got fed up lazing and went to get some photos in the garden.  Saw a dragonfly, but it was doing circuits again and didn’t stop.  Sometimes it slowed down to tease the fish in the stream and let them try to catch it, but it was far too fast for them.  That’s where the PoD came from.  It’s a flowering and fruiting cactus complete with Spanish greenbottles.  Like bluebottles,  only green.  Still tired of lazing, I did some sketches of the folk lying on their sunbeds.

With one in the bag, we decanted ourselves from the sunbeds and walked down the road past the Sheraton to the first row of shops.  Had lunch (burger for me, tuna club sandwich for Scamp.)  The beers we had quenched our thirst.  Got the prezzies then walked back along the ‘new’ walkway. 

I had intended going for a walk to get some more photos and Scamp was going for a swim, but then there was a power outage.  We didn’t fancy going down five flights of stairs, or worse, having to climb back up them again if the lifts weren’t back in business, so we waited on the balcony and had another G ‘n’ T.  By the time the power returned it was too late to go for a walk, so we went for a swim instead.  I tried out the ‘adult pool’ and it was COLD!  Freezin’!  However, I was in and I was going to do a circuit of the little island with the jacuzzi in it.  All the while I had the thought of that warm bubbly water, that WARM bubbly water.  Finally completed the circuit and did get a chance to warm up in the jacuzzi.  Scamp joined me although, theoretically she hadn’t earned the treat, her not having swum in the freezing pool avoiding the ice floes.

Walked straight across to the middle pool and it was heated!  Hadn’t really noticed it before, but after the cold pool, this one felt warm.  Swam there for a while before returning to the sunbeds to soak up some rays.  Scamp went to swim in the middle pool.

Came back, fought with Lightroom for a while then went for dinner.  After that, went and grabbed a good seat for Tina the saxophone playing singer who would play some salsa, we hoped.  She did.  We twirled and twisted with the best of them.  Not as clean a demo as last time, but we have the G ‘n’ Ts and the Rum ‘n’ Cokes to blame for that. 

Exhausted now, I’m sitting on the balcony with the waves crashing on the shore wondering what we’ll do tomorrow.  Maybe a trip to Caleta?  Maybe hire a bike and go for a run?  Maybe go and have lunch on the island?  Maybe some, but probably not all of the above.

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No room in the Pool – 26 February 2018

I’ll go to the gym he said and he did, well, almost.

It’s a Monday and Mondays have to be planned properly for them to work properly. This morning I was going to do my drawing / painting for 28 Drawings Later. That would leave me time in the afternoon, when Gems are here, to go to the gym as I’d said I’d do. The painting took a little longer than anticipated and it wasn’t until the second version of it was drying that I took its picture and then proceeded to completely annihilate it. However I’ve learned from my mistakes and I did remember to take a photo of it first. This is it:

The Hills

It was an attempt at colour mixing using Carol Marine’s ideas from her book ‘Daily Painting’. As an instruction on colour mixing it was good, but the landscape did have that unfinished look about it. By the time it was finished, Gems had arrived and it was time for me to make a move.

Checked the bag first and there were a pair of trunks and also a pair of trainers in it. Got to the changing room and found that the only thing missing was a tee shirt. So, it was to be a swim rather than a gym workout today. No problem. Then I saw that the pool was full. I mean FULL. It’s a small pool and with six people in it, it’s a bit cramped. There were TEN folk in the pool. I think only six of them were actually swimming, the other four were being moving traffic islands just to give the swimmers something to navigate round. Worse than that, the jacuzzi was covered up, obviously under maintenance. So was the ice machine, although, what you need an ice machine for in Scotland in February, I don’t know. Finally the loose tiles at one of the steps into the pool hadn’t been repaired and the elegant barrier of a half submerged metal framed office chair was still there in the same place it’s been for the last two weeks. I’m beginning to think it’s an art ‘installation’. I really thing its time for whoever now owns the leisure centre to throw some money at it to get it back being usable. Heavens, they must be making enough from the ‘spa’ community who seem to inhabit the pool every day. So, managed four lengths of the pool sandwiched between two sessions in the steam room, then came home, put on headphones and completed the annihilation of the painting while Gems sung their little hearts out below.

The ‘not got a name yet’ move tonight at Salsa was interesting although you had to be a contortionist to get the final section completed. I’m not sure it will survive to next week. There were a lot of confused looks and there was a lot of shaking of heads during the class.

Today’s PoD was taken out of the kitchen window and has little to recommend it, other than the pastel colours in the background and the minimal DOF (Depth of Field). Google it.

Tomorrow we are due the first flurries of snow. Nothing that desperately needs done and nowhere special we need to be, so we can just sit and watch the flakes fall.

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More dancin’ – 8 February 2018

I think the car can now drive itself into Glasgow. It’s been in five times this week.  Once on Sunday, once on Monday, twice on Wednesday and once today. Enuff!

Today I found that the single bike carrier I used on the Megane won’t fit on the Juke. Even worse, it won’t fit on Scamp’s car either. That’s a real shame as it was easy to fit on and take off and the bike was really secure on it. Now I’ve got to test the old carrier to see if it will fit in either of our cars. It’s a bit more universal, but its heavier and clunky to fit and remove, but if it allows me to take the bike to more interesting places than the ten miles or so of busy roads near the house, it will be worth it.

Drove up to the leisure centre in the afternoon to find it absolutely full of folk. Most of them were from the spa. They have no right to be there when we want to swim. I think I’ll write to my MSP about it. It’s simply not good enough. However, we did get a swim and I got a couple of sessions in the steam room and felt the benefit of it. I think it must have been all yesterday’s dancing that has tired out my poor wee legs.

Tonight we drove in to Glasgow for more dancing. This time we were helping out at two beginners classes in Barca in Prince’s Square. I don’t know if it was the venue, which is a normally busy restaurant, or the beginners themselves, because they didn’t seem to be the brightest lights on the tree, but I didn’t enjoy it at all. I think we’ll go back again next week, but after that we have to discuss and assess the situation. I don’t mind helping out with classes, but the driving miles add up and tonight I’m absolutely exhausted.

Sketch for today is a practise drawing of a face. Nobody’s face in particular, just a drawing of two eyes and a nose, hopefully in the correct places. Make of it what you will:

Do Call

The PoD is three spoons sitting on the draining board. I just liked the high contrast feel and the reflections.

Tomorrow? I think we’re going for the messages and that’s about it.

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All Gone – 23 January 2018

The last of the snow had disappeared overnight. We were back to grey skies and rain.

In the afternoon Scamp drove us to the gym. She was eager to use her new gym card, but the computer was not feeling well so she couldn’t log in. As one of the regulars said “Every week there’s something else broken in here”. Did my usual rounds of the torture machines and added in an extra five minutes on the cross trainer. It was supposed to be ten minutes, but I considered I’d been cross trained enough in those five minutes. After the gym I went for a leisurely swim interspersed with ten minutes in the sauna and ten minutes in the steam room. Scamp was so impressed with her new card that she booked another afternoon of torture (with an instructor) for later in the week. I think I’ll just stay un-instructed and just keep well away from the cross trainer. Maybe it was having a bad day and was a really cross trainer today, who knows.

After we got back and after undoing all that good work with two rolls ’n’ sausage, the sun broke through the clouds, so I grabbed the Olys and went for a walk over St Mo’s. With the snow all washed down the hills, the water in the pond was a lot higher than normal and so was the water coming out the overflow. That’s where I got my PoD. It’s a slow shutters speed shot of the wee burn in spate. Quite impressed with it after about six attempts at different shutter speeds. This one was 1/8th sec.

Did a wee bit more painting of trees before dinner (risotto with peas and prawns, since you asked) in the style of Paul Bailey.  Google him.  I like his style.  Very rough, not a lot of detail.  Scamp isn’t impressed.

Sitting watching my old Nexus 7 rebuild itself after a full factory reset as I type this. Sometimes it’s the only way to get them working properly again.

Tomorrow is a dancing day. Hopefully Jive and Ballroom in the afternoon and then Salsa at night.

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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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Persona Non Grata – 10 January 2018

Finally we did as we had promised and went to the gym, although one of us was left out in the cold.

I was thinking when I was reading in bed that we are, or at least I am, getting into a rut with every day following the same sort of routine:

  • Read for a while
  • shower
  • coffee at 11
  • lunch at 12
  • afternoon go out and find PoD
  • process PoD
  • dinner
  • repeat

We really need to break this routine. We went to the gym today just after 12noon. That broke the routine. Tried to log in at the gym and got an error message, probably because I haven’t been for ages. I could still use all the machines, but couldn’t remember the weights I should be using on some of them. Of course, none of the data was recorded but that doesn’t matter because there doesn’t seem to be any way for us to access it. Today was just a place marker to say we’d started again, so neither of us did all that much. We did have a swim afterwards and that was good. On the way out I checked at the desk to see how to get my card restarted and it was as I’d expected, I hadn’t logged in at (or in fact been to) the gym since 24th June last year and my membership had lapsed. I was soon reinstated. Scamp was not so lucky. She had been absent for longer and was now persona non grata. Her gym membership was revoked and her card confiscated then she was escorted off the premises. Well, it wasn’t as bad as that, she needs a new card which she can pick up when we return, hopefully next week.

When we came home I built up the easel and got out my acrylics and began work on a new painting. Not exactly new, it’s seen some previous iterations and is all lumps and bumps which adds to its tactile quality (snigger.) That’s when I came up with today’s PoD, entitled Happy as Larry. Slapping paint on a board always makes me happy and if a painting results from it, that’s a bonus!

Salsa tonight had far too many men so I’m doorman as I write this, making sure the new beginners are welcomed in and directed to fill in the application forms. Unfortunately I don’t get to take in any money. That would have been nice. I also had to put on my big heavy winter jacket because it’s bloody freezing here!

Tomorrow? Maybe Perth or if tonight’s fog persists, Cotton House for lunch instead.

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Pants! – 8 January 2018

Not so much pants, as trunks, or the lack of them. Everything will become clear.

Drove to Tesco in the morning to get the makings for some soup. I’d never made just ordinary vegetable soup and I fancied a go under the strict tutelage of Chef Scamp. After we got all the veg that Tesco had, I drove back and got started chopping and dicing and washing veg. Then I basically bunged it all in a pot, poured in some water and set it to boil. After it boiled I turned it down to a simmer and left it for an hour. An hour in which I had my lunch and took my PoD of a failed leaf cutting sitting on the window ledge. Then I prepared myself for the onslaught of Gems.

It’s a Monday and Mondays mean Gems. Today they returned after their Christmas break and would be in good voice (for good read Loud). I had other plans, I was going to the gym.

Drove to the gym, found a vacant locker and started to unpack my gym bag, only to find that I’d forgotten to pack my swimming trunks. Now I had two options. One was skinny dipping, but I’m a bit old for that and the other was to return home, pick up the trunks and head back to the gym. Such a waste of time. The third option was to leave it until tomorrow and go for a walk instead. I chose option three and walked along the Luggie Water for a while and got some photos of the ice on the river and also some icicles on one of the railway bridges, so all was not lost. When I finish this, I’m going to put my swimming trunks in the gym bag for tomorrow.

Salsa was fun tonight. It took me all my time remembering what name went with what move, but I was not alone by the baffled looks on some of the faces around me. Tonight’s move was Gorila (one L) and it was a twisty turny one that I must look up on YouTube.

Tomorrow the Gym with all the correct equipment? Perhaps.

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Hot Stuff – 5 January 2018

It was a cold day today. Damp, dull but most of all, cold. It was that sort of cold that gets into your bones and once it’s there, it’s hard to shift it.

One way to shift it is with a warming lunch and that’s what Scamp suggested. Scrambled egg with smoked salmon on toast. Just what I needed. My suggestion for a bit of warmth, and carrying on from my NY resolutions was to spend some time in the pool – not the gym. Maybe next week, but not today. Everything in moderation, that’s the way to make it stick.

We drove to the leisure centre and although the pool was full to start with, half the folk exited when the jacuzzi became available, so we both got the chance to do a few lengths in the lovely warm water. Next was a good ten minutes in the steam room and it was HOT. I could actually feel that warmth penetrating my bones and warming from the inside. I tried the sauna too, but I feel that it dries out my skin too much and that makes me feel like I’m burning. Back it the pool for another few lengths and I was ready to face the cold again. I don’t know if it was the lunch or the swim in warm water or the steam room, but for the rest of the day I was warm.

We went out to the Red Deer (or Dead Deer as we used to call it for no reason) for dinner tonight. Y’see Hazy, I was so captivated by ND’s Lamb Duo, I just had to try it, so that’s what I had (Yes! It was as good as it looked). Scamp was less adventurous and had Fish ’n’ Chips. I also had a bottle of the worst low alcohol beer that’s ever passed my lips. Imagine a bottle of diluted treacle with some hops dunked in them and you have the makings of St Peter’s Without. I’ll certainly go without rather than drinking that brown water again.

Today’s PoD is one of my wee men almost submerged in a box of screws. It was entitled ’Screwed’ and this is the description on Flickr:

You know the feeling. You’re looking for a bolt or screw and although you’ve got a box full of them, you just can’t find the right one, and you’re screwed!

Tomorrow (whisper it) we may go to Embra for lunch at Ravi Shankar’s restaurant. Not the real name, just what Scamp called it today!