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1,371 miles apart, Dubrovnik to Cumbernauld – 27 July 2017

Time to go home.

Up early and out for breakfast before grabbing the bags and checking out, one last time. Pretty sure we’ll never go anywhere on this ship again.

You don’t really want to know the details of the day, do you? You’ve all done this end of the holiday stuff. Half of you wants to stay, but half of you wants your own bed and your own chairs and to be able to listen to your own music without having to break every 30 minutes for some infantile ‘game show’. Yes, I’m glad to be home.

Today’s final sketch of the cruise was done while sitting on the deck waiting for the minutes to tick away until we leave the ship for the last time.  Watching all the folk looking incongruous in their long trousers and jackets, milling around doing the same as us.  Just waiting for the minutes to tick away …..

Went out for a walk to St Mo’s just to make sure it was still there. Only out for 15 mins and got bitten by a cleg. It won’t bite anyone else, I made sure of that.

The cruise is now officially over for another year.

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Coffee and Larky – 7 July 2017

After a lazy start, I went for coffee with Val and Fred. The usual subjects: Art, Politics and Life in the ‘70s. Just three auld guys.

After we split up to go our separate ways, I went looking for a PoD. Tried along the Luggie but nothing worth while sprang to mind. Drove round for a while and eventually gave up and designated the yellow flowers as the PoD.

Sketch of the Day was a quick (very quick) SP drawn blind, looking in the mirror. By the very nature of blind drawing, it has to be done quickly, it’s gestural and mainly line work with little or no shading. It’s a reasonable drawing and it’s done.

Out to Crawford and Nancy’s at Larkhall tonight and had a good time. Nancy cooked a ham and it was delicious. Must try that some time. Their grandson, Jack was there and I did feel a bit jealous when he called Crawford ‘Papa’. It’s not often I feel jealous of Crawford, especially now that I’m retired.

Although this is dated Friday 7th July, I must confess that I’m writing it on Sunday the 9th because I’m frantically trying to catch up on my blog posts and Flickr posts after a busy week. Hopefully, I’m up to date now.

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A day in the toon – 24 June 2017

A bit later than normal, we made our way into Glasgow for a wee wander.

Started with pizza for lunch in Paesano and then a coffee in Nero. I was looking for a new sketch book, now that the Seawhite landscape I’ve been using has run out of space and the Paperchase book I was intending to replace it with has failed to hold a watercolour wash. I didn’t find one and think now that I may have to revert to the Pink Pig books I’ve been using for years. They have these three benefits:

  • I’ve used them before and they are smooth with good tooth.
  • They hold a watercolour wash with ease.
  • They cost nothing, because I already have them

They have one drawback and that’s the fact that they are wire bound, so you can’t simply open them out and draw across the fold in the same way that you can with a perfect bound book like a Moleskine. Ah, life is a set of compromises and so it is with sketchbooks too, it seems.

When we were walking back to the car I saw a bloke selling white beanie hats. Couldn’t understand why, then I noticed that they had The Stone Roses printed on them. So that’s why there were so many people wandering around ‘The Toon’. Then two blokes passed and one said to the other “… and there I was standing right next to Ian Brown.” Isn’t he the one who looks like a monkey? Ian Brown that is, not the bloke who passed, although he did have that simian look about him too.

The wind was getting quite fierce on the way home, but I didn’t have a photo apart from this controversial one from Buchanan Galleries carpark, so I went for a walk around St Mo’s with Big Dog and the 105mm Macro and the Teazer as backup. It was the Nikon that produced the pic of the bee.

We had intended to go dancing at night, but neither of us were that bothered, so we had a night in instead. I managed to get a very bad sketch completed. It won’t be vying for Sketch of the Week.

No plans for tomorrow.

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Child Minding – 30 April 2017

We didn’t do much in the morning.  ND was at church and the weather wasn’t too good.  We all sat and talked for a while.  The PoD is of the dried up hollyhocks in Hazy’s front garden.

When ND returned, we got ready and went to Canute and Delia’s for lunch.  After being ‘welcomed’ the two chihuahuas, Basil and Molly, we sat down to the biggest lunch I’ve seen in a long time.  Potato Salad, Green Salad, Channa Daal, Chicken Curry, the list goes on and on.  Then there was pudding afterwards!  All the time we were being entertained by Marcie, Joey and Jess’s daughter.  Not two years old yet, but ruling the roost in the house.

Suitably fed and entertained, we left later in the afternoon and went back to the house.  Sat and watched StarWars VII and again marvelled at the CGI until we just accepted it as real.

This week’s sketch was actually done earlier in the week at the Old Naval College in Greenwich.  As with most sketches, it’s not quite true to life, but hopefully it gives the idea of the building and I liked the quality of the line.  The building did look good that day with the sun shining on it.  I’d like to draw it again, maybe if I had somewhere to sit!  Drawing while standing is sore on the back!
Back up north tomorrow.

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Started early – Didn’t take my dog – 19 April 2017

Woke early and couldn’t get back to sleep.

Eventually I gave up and went out for a walk to St Mo’s to see if the deer were awake.  Of course they were and they were way ahead of me on this dull drizzly morning.  Actually it wasn’t a drizzle, it was a smir.  That typically Scottish word that describes what rain is when it isn’t actually raining.  It was as if the rain thought it should be doing its work, but just couldn’t be bothered.  I couldn’t see much worth photographing, so I headed for home and breakfast, then I saw the yellow flowers.  I couldn’t remember their name, but the colours were interesting.  Took a few shots using the spot metering again on  the Nikon.  Almost home, I remembered they were Cowslips.

The plan for today was to buy the materials for the duckboarding we were going to use to replace the old flower box at the back door.  After breakfast, I was just thinking I should get going to B&Q when it appeared the rain had decided to fulfil its task and started to move from smir to drizzle with the possibility of actually raining some time soon.  No point in getting the materials and then having to leave them out in the garden, so I left it until later and went to finish a sketch I’d started down at JIC’s.  Finished the sketch and didn’t like what I saw, but the rain had stopped, so I drove to B&Q and got the wood.  Even sawed it to size and realised I didn’t have nearly enough, so it’s back to B&Q tomorrow for more decking timber.  It’s a work in progress, that’s all.  Not a big deal.  Now, years ago I’d have drawn the whole thing out in AutoCad or Inventor and modelled it and that would have taken a couple of days getting it just right.  Much quicker and easier to cut a mock up and decide if that will do the job.  Maybe I’m learning, but I doubt it.

We both went to salsa tonight and thankfully it was Jamie Gal and not Colin.  The class was interesting and full of humour, as it should be.  Unfortunately there were quite a few missing because of Colin’s Cha-Cha class last week.  Such a pity.

I’ve been trying out Spotify, finding lots of music I’d forgotten about.  It might be a strong contender to replace iTunes, especially if Apple really are phasing out iTunes.  It wouldn’t be a bad thing in my opinion because that bloat monster is becoming worse with every new version.

Tomorrow the mini greenhouse is due to land on our doorstep.  Let’s hope Scamp can put her jigsaw solving skills to the test in building it.

Blog title refers to a book by Kate Atkinson

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No Partridge – 17 April 2017

Today it was decided that we’d go to the garden centre we had hoped to visit yesterday.  JIC had checked and it would definitely be open.

Before we got there, JIC wanted to visit another *garden centre* which was certainly not allied to any national or regional garden centre chain.  What it was, was a very busy plant sale with prices that were almost as good as those in Poundland, but for much healthier plants.  I felt sorry for Scamp, wandering around the racks of greenery like a wean in a sweetie shop without a penny in her pocket.  Only it wasn’t money she was without, it was transportation.  You see, we were FLYING home later in the afternoon and you can’t carry plants in a plane, at least not the quantity and size of plants she had here eye on.  Also, those glazed pots were really cheap, but can you imagine the damage the luggage handlers would inflict even if you did pay the £15 overhead for putting them in the hold.  Eventually we had to drag her away as we packed the car.  Three of us in the back, Scamp, me and a pear tree.  No partridge.

I got two photos at the plant sale.

  • On 14th April I took 71 shots
  • On 15th April I took71 shots
  • On 16th April I took 28 shots
  • On 17th April I took 4 shots

You can tell when we were going home.  But it’s not quantity, it’s quality that counts and I liked the quality of the above shot which is of a Queen’s Cushion flower.  That said, I find the background almost as interesting as the foreground with its mix of Oof (Out Of Focus) colours.

With the car fully loaded we arrived at the garden centre (a horticultural version of coals to Newcastle) for lunch.  I picked the poorest option which was Chicken wrapped in pastry with potatoes and as much veg as they could cram on.  The veg was great, the potatoes were awful and the chicken was dry.  I envied Scamp and Sim their salmon and JIC his roast lamb.  Oh well, maybe next time I’ll make the sensible choice.  After lunch we drove home and unloaded the car.

To quote Tom Paxton “… All too soon it was time to go …” (Talking Vietnam Potluck Blues), and it was time to go.  We said a sad farewell to Sim and Vixen (the Devil Dog) and JIC drove us to the airport.  For once the plane took off on time and we had a fairly pleasant flight given that the plane seemed to be three quarters full of noisy BBs and their minders.  I don’t suppose you can really call them BBs any more, but Persons Brigaders just doesn’t make sense.  I did laugh at the big cheer that burst from them when we landed in Glasgow.  The view from the plane as it cruised over the city was tremendous with the sun shining through rain clouds.  It reminded me of the cover of the Raintown album.

From the airport we did the cheapo transport to home.  We got the (free) bus from the airport to Queen Street station, then just managed to catch the Croy train after paying the Pensioners price.  At Croy we just caught the (free) bus to Craiglinn and walked home from there.  Last of the big spenders, it cost us £4.10 total to get from the airport to home.

Tomorrow will be a lazy day.

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Flooers – 22 March 2017

You know as well as I do that when a flooer or even worse a bunch of flooers is the subject, then it’s been a lean day for photography.

Today was a particularly dour and cold day from the time we got up until the time we came home from salsa tonight.  As with all such days, there were bright periods.  Sometimes in the weather and sometimes in the day.  One such was going for a swim this morning.  We had both agreed that it was a sensible place to spend some time.  In the warmth of the pool, the steam room and the jacuzzi.  Not the sauna.  Apparently the sauna was broke.  Not broken, just broke.  I don’t know what was wrong with it this time, but it looks like it needs some *essential Maintenance*.

I like the *Enclosing Asterisks* because I just found out about it recently.  It’s called “Escaping the Asterisk” (notice I didn’t do it there – you can have too much of a good thing, you know) and there is a trick to doing it.  Because I write this blog in a language called Markdown where you can include symbols in the text to perform actions for you, there has to be a get-out for when you want to show the symbol without it performing an action – are we clear on that so far?  I didn’t hear any dissenting voices, so I will continue.  Right, the symbol for italics is the asterisk.  I typed the word asterisk there enclosed by two asterisks.  The problem appears when you want to show the asterisk.  To do that, you have to place a backslash (\) before the asterisk.  Still with me?  MEGO (My Eyes Glaze Over) hasn’t set in yet? This tells the Markdown code to show the asterisk and not use it as as a modifier for the text.  Now the next problem is:
What if I wanted to show the backslash and the asterisk?  How would I do that?  Answers on a postcard please.

Anyway, to get back to the day.  We drove home and had some lovely chicken soup for lunch, then Scamp went out to source a pair of jeans while I messed around with a bit of painting.  I was just getting ready to go out myself when she returned without the jeans.  I drove down to the garage and booked the car in for brake and steering repair next week.  Tried to get some photos, of the snow covered Campsie Fells, but there was nowhere I was happy with the view, so I came home and photographed some flooers.  For dinner I made chicken and mushroom risotto and accidentally used too much butter.  Not healthy, just lovely.

Salsa was busy … with followers.  Only three leaders to start with so Scamp became a leader.  Thankfully more men arrived throughout the night and we ended up almost even. Setenta Tresario Dos and Malecon got us tied up in knots tonight.  Good fun as usual.

Busy day tomorrow with improving weather predicted.

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Dunfermline – 1 March 2017

Scamp suggested that we get up and go for a walk in the park in Dunfermline.  Sounded like a plan except I fell asleep after she got up.  Still, we did manage to get out by just after 11am which isn’t bad going, considering that I wasn’t in bed until way past midnight.

It was a beautiful run over the Kincardine bridge to Fife and on to Dunfermline.  Got parked quite easily, and for free!  Walked through the park and stayed a while in the hothouse in the park.  The heat, humidity, plants and colours reminded us of Trinidad.  Unfortunately, when we went outside it reminded us of Scotland, a Scotland that was just above freezing.  No mosquitos though, so that was a bonus!

Walked up the dreary main street with shops either closed down or advertising their closing down sale – everything must go, including fixtures and fittings.  Not a good sign.  However, the sun was still shining and there were loads of people about.

Lunch was in a Wetherspoons and was cheap and cheerful.  Not exactly cordon bleu, but neither was the price.  Wandered round Waterstones after that and was tempted by a copy of an Anne Blockley book, but at £19 it’s a hefty price for something I would read once and then cast aside perhaps.  It’s £13 on Amazon and that’s a bit more reasonable.  I’ll try to get it in the library first and get a chance for a good look through it before deciding.

Run home wasn’t quite as picturesque as the earlier journey, but was still showing signs that winter is perhaps on the back foot now, despite it only being a week since there was snow on the ground.

Gave the Megane a treat when we got home and took it for a run through the car wash.  I’m sure it drives better after that!  MOT tomorrow.

Jamie G was absent from salsa tonight, leaving Cameron to struggle through with the level 2s.  Worse still, it was Colin who took the advanced class.  Who knew that Slow – Slow – Quick – Quick was salsa timing?  Nobody tonight, that’s for sure.  Next he’ll have us waltzing round the rueda.  So that’s what I drove for 45 minutes through awful traffic for?  If it happens again, I’m going home.

Hope you like the knitted sign Hazy.  Saw it in a craft shop in Dunfermline today.

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Programming for Nerds – 21 February 2017

Nothing to do with Elton John.  Keyboard Maestro is a very powerful programming tool for the Mac.  I’ve been struggling with it on and off for over a year now and have to tell you that with great power comes great complexity.  I’ve programmed interesting stuff in Basic and Assembly Language along with simple stuff in C and in Pascal, and even used Visual Basic to write macros in Excel, but the programming syntax in Keyboard Maestro is back to the stone age.  It makes assembly language look slick by comparison.  All I wanted to do was add two numbers together.  It shouldn’t be difficult, should it?  It was.  Mainly because of an almost total lack of tutorials using variables with this behemoth of an app.  I eventually found a wiki for it and all became (almost) clear.  I don’t think I’ll be coding very much in Keyboard Maestro, but my macro now works and I’m happy about that.  Actually I’ve been using it in the background while I type this blog.  I’ve got it set up to alter a few of my typos and also, if I type * KM without the space, it changes it to Keyboard Maestro –  See?  It did it there and you never even noticed.  I know, lots of other apps do the same thing, but this is an app for nerds!  I’m not afraid to say it: I AM A NERD!!

Scamp went to visit her Auntie, well, her dad’s cousin [that’s close enough to be an Auntie (or Uncle, depending on the version) in Larky].  Anyway, she was going for coffee with Isobel this morning and I was looking for something to do, so I copied yesterday’s sketch onto watercolour paper and made it into a painting.  I was quite pleased with the result.  I know it’s a bit gloomy, but the real thing is gloomy too.  The house sits back among trees and there can’t be a lot of light getting in those windows.

When Scamp came home and after we had lunch we went searching for food in Waitrose which is where I found the group of Neds you see above.  Who would have thought that Neds would be allowed in Waitrose.  Either they’ve cleaned up their act or that supermarket is allowing its standard to slip.

It was such a dull day, we just drove home afterwards with our spoils.  Lamb chops with potatoes and mushrooms for me.  Salmon and potatoes for Scamp.  Still on our self enforced diet, we didn’t even have a pudding!  We did have a crayfish salad to start with though, but you can’t consider that, because it was healthy!

Played a game of my new addiction Upwords tonight, but I don’t think Scamp was impressed with this Scrabble look alike.  I think it might be going in the next but one charity bag.

Nothing planned as yet for tomorrow because the weather may be taking a turn for the worse.

Oh, yes.  If you’re in the need of someone to add two numbers together, I’m your man.  Just give me a couple of hours to write the code and debug it and I should have it done!

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Carrigan’s – 18 February 2017

I went out for a walk along the railway in the afternoon.  A dull day with little prospect of any photos, and that’s how it turned out.  I took one photo before I went out and that was my PoD.  It was of a plantlet on the spider plant that lives in the downstairs toilet.  It reminded me of the Trinidad jungles!

On the way back along the railway, I stopped to sketch the house beside the canal with it’s extensions and odd angles.  It was a better viewpoint from the one I’d done a few months ago and it was looking quite good until the rain came on.  As I was closing the sketch book I realised that I was blotting the ink, but by then it was too late.  When I got back to the car and took a look at the damage, it actually looked quite good.  The rain had added texture to what would have been an empty page!

We were meeting Margaret and Billy Kent for dinner tonight in Carrigan’s in Hamilton.  It was a great night. Just nattering and eating all night. Right now, I’m feeling pretty full.  I may never eat again after a heavy three course meal, the star being the tablet ice cream!  Peppermint tea to settle my stomach then bed, I think.