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Slow bus to Glasgow – 11 August 2017

It was raining when we woke. Not heavy rain, just fitful little showers, like a petulant child who doesn’t want to be ignored, but has nothing to say.

After the inevitable checking of FB and Flickr, and of course a cup of strong coffee, it was time to get the bus into Glasgow. A journey that would have taken 15 minutes in the car took almost an hour. 15 miles in an hour. It’s not difficult to work out the average speed. What was worse was that this was an almost brand new bus which, like modern cars has the engine cut out whenever the gearbox is in neutral and the wheels have stopped. That’s ok(ish) in a car, but is a total pain in the arse in a bus. I’d estimate that in an unlucky car being caught at all the traffic light and roundabouts, taking the same route, the engine would stop less than 10 times. The bus must have stopped easily 30 times and each time the engine cut out. Like I said earlier, I can almost see the point of the engine switching off in a car in the city, but the inevitable wear and tear on the engine and especially the starter motor by the constant stopping and starting must offset any fuel saving or air pollution advantages.

Visited Nero for a coffee and a chance to sketch the grey masses walking, head down, along Sausage Roll Street.  First decent sketch since we returned from the cruise.  Pleased with it.  The wee A6 sketchbook fits neatly in the pocket of my blue rainy coat, so it’s always there.  I’ve got Fred to thank for that idea.

I wanted to see the Lost Glasgow exhibition run by Glasgow City Heritage Trust
in Bell Street. It originated from a FaceBook page. Although there were some interesting photos, I couldn’t say I found it all that interesting. What I did like was the fact that the photos were mounted on foam board with a short description on the back. The photos themselves were stacked on shelves around the display space and this allowed easy access and the ability to pick them up and examine them close up. They even had magnifying glasses placed around the room to allow even more investigation of places and faces. I’d have liked to have seen more photos, always more photos. That’s what this FB page is famous for. Outside in Brunswick Street the JCBs were creating another Lost Glasgow entry by demolishing more old buildings.

Lunch in Paesano was a salad for Scamp and a pizza for me. After that, some light shopping and few foties, then the slow bus back home. My PoD was the shot of the GOMA. I felt sorry for Marlie Mul having her exhibition cancelled, then I read the full story here.

The weather started off wet in the morning, dried up in the early afternoon, rained a bit more in the late afternoon and then dried up again. Scattered showers, that kind of summed it up. Tomorrow might be a bit better according to the weather fairies.

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2B or not 2B – 11 July 2017

The 2B in question was a packet of 2B leads in Ryman. They wanted nearly £4 for them. I think not 2B.

Went to get some stuff, important stuff, like 2B leads for one thing and a pencil extender (which makes short stubby pencil ends usable again) for another. Scamp went for non-esssentials like a hat to keep the sun off and a scarf to do the same. Y’see, the sun was out today and it had its hat on, so Scamp needed one too.

Went to get a drawing done too, because July has been deemed an odd month. Sketches must be done on odd days. Today was the 11th and I had to do a bit of catch-up and find one for Sunday the 9th. Got the 11th done. Did it in pencil for a change. The “Well, that’s odd!” challenge doesn’t demand that sketches are done in ink, hence the desire for 2B leads and a pencil extender. Pens are not the only drawing tools. Today’s PoD was taken nearby in Springfield Court. I liked the textures and shapes on the wall.

Watched one of the worst singers, but best performers entertaining the punters outside M&S in Argyle St. He was singing Motown covers and doing it really badly, but he used up meters of mike cable covering the whole street. I’ve seen him before and his singing hasn’t improved since then. His act has. He made a nice change from the Bowie – Bolan bloke who neither looks nor sounds like either of them. I’m sure I heard him sing a Bowie song in his fake Bolan voice one day. It was a sort of crossover cover.

Cup of coffee in Nero and then it was time to head for home.

Earlier in the day we had been planting stuff in the garden in an attempt at tidying up the number of plant pots we have. I planted up a wee mystery plant that I’ve been growing from seed since last year. I don’t have a clue what it is. Originally there were three seedlings, but only two made it through the winter. One of the remainder seems to be thriving and one is struggling. I’ve planted up the stronger of the two because it has the best chance of survival. If it perks up, I’ll pot up its sickly friend.

Had a bit of a problem with the Linx 1010 tonight. It seems to lose its charge overnight. Can’t understand why, but I’m beginning to suspect it may have done a sneaky upgrade overnight last week with this new Creators Update that seems to be an automatic update. Must check tomorrow.

Tomorrow looks like an even better version of today’s weather. By the way, I finally got the 2B leads in Cass Art for £1.60!

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Return of the Human – 5 July 2017

Up and out by 10.30 to return the Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitor to the hospital and say a fond goodbye (and good riddance).

I know that, despite what my Fitbit says, I didn’t get much sleep last night with the bloody thing beeping every hour and then pumping the cuff up to measure Scamp’s BP. I dread to think how many minutes sleep Scamp got. Anyway, took it back today and noted what the media would call ’a high profile police presence’ across the road from the hospital. Checked on the BBC site, but couldn’t see anything to warrant it. Could it be something to do with a suspected shoplifting in Aldi yesterday? Might be.

Left Airdrie and went to Stirling to pick up our holiday tickets from the dazed and confused Ramsay Travel. They really are almost comic in their slapdash approach to this holiday booking. I think we’ll go to a real travel agent next year DV.
While we were in Stirling we went to The Fat Cyclist cafe and had a light lunch Toast and Scrambled Eggs for Scamp and Roll ’n’ Sausage for me. Service was slow, but the food and the coffee were good. We’ll be back.
Also while there, I got a new(ish) sporran for my Lord of the Isles national dress set. This one looks like a real dress sporran and was a bargain as an ex-hire.
Finally, I got a sketch done of the entrance to the Atheneum in Stirling, while Scamp was almost being successful in purchasing a pair of sandals.

When we got home I went for a walk to St Mo’s to get today’s PoD. It’s a close-up of a wild orchid. They are all over the place just now and look almost like little hyacinths. The photo was taken on the Oly 10 with the 20mm prime and a 10mm extension tube, allowing me to get really close. The quality of results from that lens is superb.

Salsa tonight was covered by Cameron. He was losing his temper a bit in the middle of the class and showboating a bit too much I thought, but he’s young and you have to cut him some slack sometimes. Much, much better than the other alternative – Colin!

Dentist in the morning tomorrow to repair the damage to cap I pinged off about three weeks ago.

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Recovering from an overdose of salsa – 3 July 2017

Today was always going to be a recovery day. Dancing at the Sunday Social, then dancing at the 40th wedding anniversary celebration for Johnny and Andrea. Late drive home then crashing to get the blog done before the witching hour. I don’t suppose the wee dram helped either.

Anyway, a new day. Did a bit more gardening, but not as much as Scamp. After lunch I went for a walk to lose the black monkey that was on my shoulder all day. Went down the Luggie for a change and got the photo of the dog rose and the sketch of the railway bridge. Came home, without the monkey, had dinner and went to more salsa. That’s the day in a nutshell.

There’s not much more to say other than I hadn’t intended doing a sketch every day in July, it was just a lovely warm sunny then dull day and I love the textures of the old railway bridge. I expect some day they will have to repair or replace it, but until then I’ll admire its rusty overgrown features and photograph it or sketch it when it appeals to me.

I helped out at Cameron’s enormous beginners salsa class. He really needs the help. He’s getting better as a teacher, but really needs to “speak more clearly and distinctly” to quote Scamp. He also needs to stop referring to everyone as ‘guys’. That’s ok when you’re talking to a bunch of guys, but calling everyone ‘guys’ can be confusing for beginners to know when he’s talking to leaders and when he’s talking to followers. Maybe he will improve, or maybe as someone once said at school “He’s plateaued.” IE. ‘reached a state of little or no change after a period of activity or progress’. Only time will tell, but I, as a seasoned dancer, found today’s class confusing, so what did the beginners think.  One big bonus tonight was that Scamp drove us in and back from class.  It was so relaxing being driven, but I don’t think Scamp found it that way.  I think I may be driving on Wednesday DV.

Tomorrow we’re out fairly early. Don’t know what we will be doing after that.

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Curry – 1 July 2017

It was one of those mornings when you just can’t be bothered to get up. I lay for an extra half an hour, not sleeping, not even snoozing, just lying there with my eyes closed. Delightful. Then the day began.

It was sunny and warm (15º) when we woke. Not at all what we’d expected from the weather fairies. It’ll never last, we said. It did. Eventually at about midday we ventured on Scamp’s suggestion that we go for lunch at a nice wee curry restaurant in Kirkintilloch. We’d passed it during the week and I’d mentioned that we hadn’t been there for ages. I’d forgotten all about that, but Scamp hadn’t. So that was it. Got there and the place was empty! Open, but empty! Oh dear, maybe the good people of Kirky have weighed it and found it wanting. Pakora starters were hot, but a little bit dry for my liking. Then the mains came and the nan bread looked like nan should. Big, well fired and slathered in ghee. As well as the mains, the customers came too. Then we twigged. Buffet started at 1pm and that was what folk were waiting for. I wish I’d had a look at the buffet offering when I left, because there looked to be a good selection. Scamp doesn’t like buffets and I know I tend to just gorge on them, so perhaps they are best avoided. The mains were spicy hot and physically hot too. They tasted freshly cooked, but maybe lacked a little bit in taste. Foodies! What can you do to impress them?

Scamp wanted to do some shopping in Kirky. Not ’Messages’, but ’Shopping’. There is a difference. I wandered round Kirky counting the number of charity shops and ‘pound shops’ and deciding it was on a downward slope.

After leaving Kirky, we drove to Robroyston for a coffee and some messages. Then it was home before the rain came. Today’s PoD actually came from Robroyston originally, before it was dunked in a bucket of Photoshop. I think it improved it.  If you want to see the original, it’s here.

Got fed up and wanted to get some more photos, so I took a bag of stale bread and went to feed the ducks in St Mo’s. Got some photos of the pond and faked them to look as if the sun was shining using Lightroom. Went to Condorrat on the way home to get some sweeties and found my sketch subject for the day, Condorrat Library. Lovely wee building that always made me think of Fort Apace The Bronx with its high windows and narrow door opening. The iron grating just enhances that feeling. Still it has some trees round it and even a couple of hanging baskets.

That was it for today. As I was heading home the first drops of rain were falling. The weather fairies are rarely wrong!

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Off The Leash – 30 June 2017

Scamp was meeting the other witches for lunch. I was off the leash for the day.

We drove in to Glasgow together as I was heading there anyway, then we went our own way, except that when I was leaving John Lewis after perusing the ‘bargains’, who should I bump into but Scamp. We agreed to go our separate ways again. Later when I was going in to the art shot, there she was again, but this time she had the other three witches with her. Luckily she directed them into a bar for cocktails, so I was saved the ignominy of having to hide from four women. Thank you again Scamp.

I bought myself two sketchbooks in Cass Art. I don’t like shopping there, but they are the cheapest in town. The next thing to do was get some photos and a sketch. The first would be easier than the last. It usually is. I got the photo in Buchanan Street it was just an empty alley. I think it’s the emptiness and the perspective I like about these alley shots. The sketch was next and that was done at the entrance to Exchange Square, or Royal Exchange Square to give it its proper name. That’s June Ink or J’ Ink over for another year. Bring on the July challenge whatever it is.

Drove home and had lunch, then went out for a walk along the railway, hoping to get some more pictures. Unfortunately, the light was pretty low and I didn’t get much. Took about fifteen shots of a hoverfly and none of them were sharp. Ten of a ladybird and none of them were sharp. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how many shots you take or what equipment you have, it just doesn’t work out for you. You just have to accept it and move on. Tomorrow will be better.

Tomorrow may be better, but it WILL be raining again.  The weather fairies predicted it.

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The search continues – 28 June 2017

Today we drove to Stirling because at Springkerse in the town (I know, Mrs McQueen made it a city in 2000, but it’s still a town to me) at Springkerse there are a host of car retailers.

First stop was Arnold Clark for a look at a Renault. The Megane we looked at was too big, definitely too big, so was the price. It came off the list right away. Next up was the Clio from the same garage. It was much more like what we had in our heads, and after some jiggery pokery with the figures, so was the price. Had a seat in one and quite liked it. Were offered a test drive, but declined. Once our shortlist is complete we’ll use test drives to whittle it down.
Next up was Peugeot. Maybe we got off to a bad start by not having an actual model in mind, maybe he took a look at the scruffy jeans and dirty old rugby shirt and decided we couldn’t afford anything but a second hand car, but although he was pleasant enough, he wasn’t as enthusiastic as he could have been. We sat in a 208, but it was a second-hand bottom of the range model and it wasn’t what I was looking for. Off the list.
Last for the day was Nissan. Scamp didn’t like the Juke – I didn’t really think she would. It’s too big she said. We looked at the new Micra. The dealer said it was actually bigger than the Juke. He lied, it’s not. It is marginally smaller. I didn’t like it, Scamp did. He did offer us an interesting test drive option, whereby we could take the car for up to 24 hours and give it a long test. Nissan would even pay for the insurance! Again, after number crunching he came up with a much better price than the lady in Glasgow had offered. I think the Juke and the Micra both stay on the list, but I also think that Macklin Motors in Glasgow are now off the list.
That was the end of testing for today.

Had coffee in Stirling and then I needed to get a sketch done, and that is what you see here. I’ve been reading an excellent sketching book by Liz Steel entitled Five Minute Sketching – Architecture. I can’t say with any honesty that I can achieve the five minutes yet, but I’m putting a lot of her ideas into practise. I’m a lot better pleased with it than I was with yesterday’s effort.

When I got home, Scamp was on cooking duty so I had almost an hour in St Mo’s and came upon the little deer almost right away. As usual, I had the wrong lens on the Nikon, but managed to change and grab a few shots before Bambi took off.

Salsa tonight was a bit of a mix up with Jamie G taking over one of Colin’s classes and trying to teach a move that was new to both his class and Colin’s. Of course, us as old hands knew it (Romeo and Juliet) It was a bit of a shambles to start with, but then it began to flow a lot better. Let’s hope they all, or at least most of them, come back next week.

Beautiful sunset tonight after a lovely day with loads of sunshine.  I didn’t photograph the sunset.  Yes, it was lovely, but everyone forgets that if you don’t have a decent foreground and an interesting midground, a beautiful sunset is just some oversaturated colours flung together.  So speaks Oscar the Grouch!

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It’s supposed to rain.

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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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New Eyes – 23 June 2017

Phoned the opticians at midday today to check if my new glasses were ready, and they were. New eyes for me.

Earlier I’d spoken to Hazy on the phone and then Scamp had squeezed every last bit of information from her about her new nephew. Good to hear that they too are experiencing more comfortable temperatures.

Drove to Larkhall and got my new glasses which I am now wearing to write this blog. Don’t they look good? When I had picked up and paid for them, I drove down to Millheugh and used that as a basis for today’s SoD. I was careful in my description there, because it seems that someone has decided to build a salmon ladder up the far side of the waterfall (locally called ‘The Boards’). It looks as if it’s still in the construction stage yet. It may be some time before it’s completed. The SoD does not include the salmon ladder, because it’s basically a building site with loads of scaffolding and massive concrete precast panels at present. Ugly is not the word for it.

Drove home the long way and stopped off at a wee garden centre to see if they had any of the massive pots we need to pot up Scamp’s pieris. They did, and at a bargain price too! Got two for the price some garden centres were asking for one. Also found hanging baskets planted with strawberries (that’s what you see above). Had to have one of them, if only to repay Scamp for slaving over a hot stove re-boiling yesterday’s strawberry jam to make it thicker. She’s a perfectionist.

That was about it for the day. I had ordered a book on urban sketching from Amazon yesterday and it arrived at lunchtime today. It looks like one of he best, most concise books on sketching architecture I’ve read. Now I need to put it into practise.

Tomorrow we may go in to Glasgow so that I can start that practise.

It’s been very windy today, but not a lot of rain. Tomorrow we keep the wind and apparently we get rain too. Oh well, the garden needs it.

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Through Old Eyes – 22 June 2017

Up fairly early again, this time to go for our annual eye check in Larkhall. It about 20 miles away, but we’ve been going there for years ever since the present optician’s father had the business. When you trust someone with your sight, you stick with them.

While Scamp was undergoing the annual torture of the Visual Field Test among others, I went for a walk around Larky. Down the main street and then into Raploch street then turned into Crossgates. It was then I realised I was looking with old eyes, seeing things as they were years ago. Eyes that expected to find two old houses sitting like conjoined twins. Mirror images of each other. Built from red engineering brick with wooden barge boards painted turquoise. Always turquoise. They weren’t there of course. They’d probably been torn down years ago to make room for some 21st century chicken boxes. Such a shame. I walked back to the main street, disillusioned. Sat down on a seat. Street furniture in Larky? How upmarket. Sat down and sketched Union Street School. My first school. First a primary school, then a few years later it became the Technical and Home Economics annex. It’s still a lovely building although the windows and, I presume, the doors have all been boarded up. It still stands there waiting for the bulldozers. Too expensive to maintain. Too old to turn into flats. Such a shame.

After my torture in the opticians, we drove down Clydeside. Still in the nostalgic frame of mind, we drove out and round Netherburn. It didn’t take long. Probably only about five minutes. Looking with those old eyes again we saw it as it had been thirty years ago.

Took the road down on to Clydeside proper and went looking for a coffee and a bite to eat. Found both at Silver Birch Garden Centre in Crossford. Like quite a few Scottish place names, you have to be careful where you put the emphasis. There is a Crossford in Fife where the emphasis is on the first syllable. The one on Clydeside has the emphasis on ’ford’. Quite confusing. Scamp got another plant for the garden. A vivid green Heuchera, not the flower at the top of the page.

On the way home we stopped to get some strawberries. I thought they were for eating, but Scamp had different ideas. That’s why the house smells of strawberry jam tonight. There is nothing in the world like fresh strawberry jam on fresh bread. Not fancy bread like mine, but good honest sliced bread. That’s what I’m going for tomorrow morning.