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Untrained – 30 September 2017

We had intended to take the train to Embra today. Scamp even drove us to the station in her car, but …

When we got there we found out that due to safety checks on the line between Haymarket and Waverley, trains (if they weren’t cancelled) were stopping at Linlithgow, about 20 miles from Embra, and it was up to you to get from Linlithgow to Embra. That’s Scotrail for you. Make it up as you go along. If the problem is between Haymarket and Waverley, both in Embra, why are they stopping the trains 20 miles away? That’s a pretty big safety zone.  Must be the wrong kind of leaves on the line again.

Anyway, we told the nice ticket man that we wouldn’t be travelling on his maybe-not-cancelled train today and drove home to change cars and drive (me driving this time) to Perf, not Embra. It was a pleasant drive up the A9 to the Fair City of Perth. Car performed perfectly and I finally got the hang of the new cruise control. I also tried out the speed limiter, but that’s not as much fun. Best of all, I tried out Sport mode which gives you a nice little whack of G-force as you accelerate! Only to be used sparingly as it does eat up your fuel consumption. All in all it’s a really nice car to drive. I’m very impressed.

Perf was busy as usual on a weekend. Far too many people around I much prefer going on a weekday. Got some coffee, some tea and some dried fruit to make my breakfast compote. Fruit for the compote, there’s no coffee or tea in it. Just thought I’d make that clear. While we were there and while Scamp was shopping in Marks, I wandered round the outside of St John’s Kirk, the big church in the middle of the town. I got a sketch done. It’s a bit ropey, but with a bit of tweaking from the photo I took, it should do. Tomorrow is the start of Inktober 2017 and I need to get myself back in harness to do a sketch a day. There’s a wee challenge for you Hazy. One sketch every day, posted on Flickr. You can add it to my group if you want. Only one real rule. The predominant medium must be ink, hence the name. You too, JIC. Get started sketching. Fifteen minutes in your lunch break is all you need!!
Today’s PoD is a wide angle shot from the walk round the church. I also liked the monkey gargoyle!

A couple of weeks ago Scamp came across an envelope from a school venture with a £10 note in it. It was surplus money from a school trip we went on twenty odd years ago. It wasn’t my money and the school doesn’t exist any more, so today it went into a charity tin in the Heart Foundation shop in Perf. They will be able to use it. I’d already checked with the bank and it was still legal tender.

Back home, dinner was a Scamp speciality, Prawn Stir fry. Spicy and hot, but very, very good.

I’d been reading a book about painting with pastels in an Oxfam bookshop in Perf.  I don’t think you draw with pastels, you paint with them.  I hadn’t really used pastels, except for messing around with them for a graphics topic for school.  Today I pinned a sheet of Ingres paper on an old drawing board and painted a landscape.  The same one I’d been tentatively poking paint at for the last week.  This one took maybe half an hour?  It’s rough, but I like it.  Maybe I’ll fix it and frame it.

Tomorrow looks wet. I think we’re going dancing at night because the usual Sunday Social venue is double booked and we lose. Should still be fun.

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The last day of Summer – 31 August 2017

According to the weather pixies, today is the last day of summer. When did it start? I think I must have blinked.

Sort of got off to a slow start today. We woke to blue skies and fluffy white clouds.  I’d thought of going to Helensburgh on the train (sorry JIC). Scamp had thought about going to Embra. We couldn’t agree on what to do and wasted too much time farting about.  In the end, we did neither. We went in to Glasgow on the train hoping to get me a pair of jeans in Debenhams. I’d got a pair in the sale last week and despite them having a button fly, they were really comfortable. Went today and they were full price again. Worse still, they didn’t have my size. Bummer. Had a coffee in Nero and came home, but not before I’d got a couple of photos with the Teazer on Queen Street. PoD is above.

After dinner Scamp tried to buy the jeans from Debenhams website, but although it promised next day delivery to your nearest shop, after choosing our nearest shop, in fact any shop, it said we could collect them on Saturday. What happened to Friday? Don’t they do Fridays? Maybe the delivery staff have a wee party on Fridays and customers can go to hell. It used to be, you wrote a letter of complaint to head office about stuff like this. Now you post it on their website for all to see, something like this:

Tried to order a pair of jeans today (Thursday) with ‘click and collect’. Order before 9pm it said and you can collect tomorrow after 12 noon it said. At the checkout I selected the Stirling store. You can collect after 12pm on Saturday it said. Saturday is not the next day after Thursday, Debenhams. Oh yes, and why are Scottish customers warned that they may have to wait another hour before their parcels are delivered? Is there a problem getting the parcels through the customs at Hadrian’s Wall? Filled in the survey, but of course there’s nowhere for you to put in your email address for a reply. I wonder why??

This morning it was the car’s turn for a clean out. Scamp had ‘done the stairs’ with the new Dyson and it was my turn to clean out the car. It does a great job, but the battery lasted about 5minutes of full power. What a handy little tool it is. It’s now been charged twice more, once to finish cleaning the car and once to get it back to a full charge. I think it’s a ‘keeper’.

Tomorrow we go for a test drive in a Juke. Hence the clean up of the Megane.

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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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The search begins – 26 June 2017

Scamp was taking her sister out to lunch today and I was heading in to Glasgow on the train.

First stop was the Nile Barber for a number 3 all over. So who would it be? The conspiracy theorist? The Everything’s Getting Older grump with a story? Or would it be the new guy who doesn’t speak, just cuts? It turned out to be Aidan Moffat Everything’s Getting Older, and he had his left arm in a sling, so that would be another tale to tell. As it happened, he had a torn ligament, but didn’t divulge the reason. He did moan about all the folk who were just getting in his way in the town today, and how loads of trains were cancelled this morning because of ‘an incident’. “That usually means somebody’s jumped in front of a train”, his words not mine. “Monday morning’s a favourite time to do it.” Again, his profundity. However, he did tell some jokes to lighten the mood and he got a decent tip for that.

With the number 3 completed to both our satisfactions, I walked up to the Nissan garage that looks like a gigantic Matchbox Toy© display. That’s where today’s PoD came from, in fact the only photograph of the day. It was quite formal inside and I was beginning to worry if I’d dressed too casually for the occasion and whether I should have phoned ahead to make an appointment. However, I needn’t have worried, the fact that I had money which I appeared to be willing to part with made me a suitable target client. After having a seat in both the possible replacement for the Megane, I was a bit bamboozled with the ‘new’ uses technology had been put to in the last eight years. A lot has changed in Facebook cars since you last signed in. The salesperson obviously recognised my confusion and handed me the brochures for both cars and as a final ‘go away and stop wasting my time’ said “Is that all you came in for today?” My reply of “No, I came in to get my hair cut too.” seemed to go so far over her head it was stratospheric. Her blank looks proved that she suffered from an extreme form of NSOH. Clutching my brochures I made my way back into the real world. The search has begun.

Going back on the train, the bloke across the passage from me dropped a folded up £20 note as he was sitting down. I decided to be ‘good Samaritan’, tapped him on the shoulder and pointed. What a look of relief on his face. Good deed done for the day.

At Salsa tonight the beginners class were even, then a late arrival made me surplus to requirements, so I took my leave and polished off the above sketch in just over 15mins. It’s a fiddly building with curved stonework and strange angular areas of roof. I’m quite happy with the result, but wish I’d taken a photo to check some of the details. The little A6 Moleskine book is great for these small sketches.

Tomorrow the rains will come with a vengeance. On June’s birthday too!

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Paisley Pattern – 21 May 2017

It was a lazy Sunday with a late start.  I thought we could could go down the Green for a walk, but the rain put an end to that idea.

Started making a mock-up of the stand for the tablet and got a fairly stable version after a few iterations.  Next step is the prototype.  At least that’s what I remember of the Design & Make method … or maybe it’s the prototype first then it’s the mock-up.  I never did work it out.  In fact, I don’t ever remember actually using the design method, but I was happy to teach others that it solved all their problems.  It doesn’t.

Took a walk over St Mo’s later with the Teazer and the ’50 as backup.  This might be my holiday setup if the Teazer starts to cut the mustard.  So far, it’s a hit and a miss.  It’s a nice light little camera with a long zoom.  The CCD is the problem, it’s just too small, but I have to ignore that, stop ‘pixel-peeping’ (that means examining every shot at 100% magnification) and look, really LOOK at the finished result, because after all that is the what I and everyone else will want to see.

After I got back from my photographic sojourn, it was time to get ready to dance.  Today we were going to the uncharted wilds of Paisley.  The last time I was in Paisley, I was driving a hired box van to do a flitting for you, JIC.  That was many years ago.  Checking the height and width of the van against the size of the arch leading to the flat you and Andy were renting.  Anyway, I digress, as I usually do.  We got the train from Croy to Queen Street and then another from Central to Paisley Gilmour Street and walked to La Rambala restaurant.  It was much smaller than our usual Sunday Social floor, but it felt comfortable and the smells from the Spanish restaurant that made up the other half of the building were good.  We’ll go back again and next time we’ll have tapas before dancing.

The train home was full of drunk Sellic supporters fresh from the win against Hearts, a sort of second-hand derby, a cross country derby.  Drove back from the station in sunshine, which was nice.

Today’s PoD is of a tree climbing snail from St Mo’s.  The answer is ‘Because they’re there’  You know the question.

Two little sketches to get the ‘one sketch a week’ thing up to date.  The relation is obvious.  They’re both cameras, in fact, they’re both TZs separated by about nine years which is an age in digital cameras.

Tomorrow it’s Library and Health Centre then dancing at night hopefully with a wee bit of photography in between, DV as always.

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A day out with the boys – 29 March 2017

Today five auld guys had their first meeting of the year.  In fact, it might be the first meeting since August last year!  How we drift apart.  After a couple of beers in the Horseshoe Bar in Drury Street, we moved across to Paesano in Miller Street for a pizza.  Five pizzas later ( five total, that is!) three of us headed back to the bar for another beer before we split up and went our separate ways.  Thankfully, Scamp came to pick me up from the train station because it had started to rain.  It was good to get back in touch with everyone and we must do it again, but not leave it almost half a year next time.

Earlier, in fact quite early, I went for a walk in the woods at St Mo’s and found that a group of little ‘Hobbit Houses’ had arrived.  I’m guessing that this is the work of one of the local secondary schools.  Behind each door was the picture of an animal.  A lovely idea.  I think I got photos of all the little doors.  After that Scamp ran me to the train station where I met Fred.  We went for a walk through the ’Toon’ before we headed to the pub to meet the others.  The walk involved a quick trip to Cass Art of course.  Bought myself a mapping pen and some nibs.  Old school drawing, but I like the effect you get with indian ink and it wrecks fountain pens, but doesn’t damage the old fashioned dipper pens.  I was looking for a bottle of granulation medium, but that’s too unusual for them to carry, so it looks like I’ll need to go to Millers later in the week.  How I miss the Art Store now.

No sign of the weather improving tomorrow, or Friday.

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In Training – 7 March 2017

It was Scamp’s idea.  We had booked lunch at Cafe Tabou in Perth.  How about, she said, How about getting the train instead of driving there?  It sounded like a good idea, a great idea.  I added to it.  Why don’t we get a taxi to the station?  You can never get parked on a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday.  Mondays and Fridays aren’t too bad.  So it was settled.  A day in Perth without driving and without the drudgery of travelling on the bus.

The journey was really good.  Taxi to the station, train to Stirling, quick connection to Perth.  Brilliant.  Visited my favourite second-hand bookshop and then a quick visit to Waterstones.  One of my favourite Scottish authors, James Oswald was there talking to a readers group.  I don’t do readers groups, neither do I read the ‘Questions to the author’ at the back of a good book.  If the author didn’t explain everything in his book, either he wanted it that way or else he wasn’t such a great writer after all.  Either way, questions aren’t going to provide the answers you want.  Went for coffee in Nero before we went for a walk through the park.  Then more coffee – beans this time in The Bean Shop.  Finally, it was lunch time.  Mine was Venison Stovies, then Saddle of Rabbit stuffed with Pork and Chorizo <Posh Word meaning Sausage> served with Roasted Root Vegetables and Sliced Potatoes washed down with a couple of glasses of Rose D’ Anjou.  Simply delicious.

After lunch I returned to Waterstones and used up my Christmas present from Scamp.  I turned out that James Oswald was promoting his new book so I decided to buy it, along with another two ‘real’ books.  Time to get used to books that don’t self illuminate or automatically remember your page or even provide a dictionary, but ‘real books’ are a great idea.  I think they’ll catch on.

The return journey was equally as good as the one this morning with nicely timed connections.  Even the wait for the taxi was minimal.  A great day out.

Today’s flower photos came from the park at Perth and the bottle pic?  It came from Cafe Nero’s window.  Like I said on my Flickr description, I wondered How?  I also wondered Who?  I finally wondered Why?

Tomorrow?  I think we might be getting in training properly as we return to the gym.

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Mind The Gap – 26 January 2017

Train to Embra from Croy.  Train from Embra to London Kings Cross.  Train from London Kings Cross to Gatwick Airport.  That was our training for the day.  More exhausting than a day at the gym

Earlier in the day I’d taken the rubbish and the old gin, wine and beer bottles to the recycling centre, and that’s where I found today’s picture which for once is not a the top of the blog.  I’m hoping to rectify it tomorrow.  If you’re desperate to find it, you can look at my Flickr feed.  Just use yesterday’s link and you’ll see Big Ted and Little Ted liming in the sun.

After that, it was taxi to the station and then the train to Embra, first class to keep us away from the plebs.

Went to Platform 19 and found the train already in and boarding.  Then the old lady in front of us got down on her knees and started reaching down between the train and the platform to retrieve … a shocked looking terrier that had fallen down the gap between train and platform and was dangling by its leash!  Lucky dog.  It seemed none the worse for its experience after it recovered from the shock.  Never seen that before.

Uneventful train trip down to London.  Sunny at first, but then the mist and fog came in and the sun disappeared.  Drank too much and ate too little.

Decided to risk the rush hour on the tube and it wasn’t too bad a journey from KC to VIctoria where we got on the Gatwick Express.  Unfortunately, the train had problems and the driver explained that he was going to turn everything off for three to five minutes.  I think that’s called a reboot in computer terms.  It worked.  The ZX81 that runs the train kicked into life and off we went.  Got off the train at Gatwick and found the Hilton.  That’s where we are now.

Just finished our dinner in the restaurant.  Mini Fish & Chips for Scamp.  Burger and Chips for me.  Washed down with a lager each.  Most enjoyable.

Early start for us tomorrow.  Hpoing for clear skies.