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Deep and Crisp and Even – 19 November 2017

It was a lovely frosty morning (-1ºc) with bright sunshine, so I decided to get up (fairly) early and go out to source some photos in St Mo’s.

Scamp then noticed that Hazy had phoned yesterday when we were out and because we hadn’t checked the phone when we got in, we hadn’t phoned her back. So she warned me that she was going to check if Hazy was free for the return call. I told her I had my phone with me and to text me if she was up for a call back. I’d got a couple of photos which you can see above and was just walking into the woods to see if there were any photogenic deer available when my phone vibrated to tell me that Hazy was indeed on the phone. I about turned and retraced my steps back to the house and had a chat with Hazy. After comparing notes on books we’d read, she went to rest and I went for a coffee.

From then on the temperature rose just enough to take away the frost without providing a comfortable temperature for a walk. As a result, after lunch I got a sketch done for my one-a-week personal challenge and started planning the Keyboard Maestro macro that would allow me to automate the playlist creation for the car player. I didn’t get far with that, but at least I did get the sketch done.

We headed out to Glasgow for the Sunday Social at Arta and decided to park in JL carpark rather than try for an on-street space near Arta itself. The reason was that tonight was the switch on for the Christmas lights and I just knew parking would be at a premium. Got parked easily in JL which was a surprise, but the crowds around George Square were much more than we had anticipated. Added to the fact that anti-terrorist blockades had been erected around the square, it took us ages to get down through the city to the venue.

Arta itself was quite quiet until just after the switch-on, then it livened up a bit. We left earlier than we’d intended, hoping to avoid most of the crowds, but came out just as the fireworks display started. Once we were on Buchanan Street and the fireworks had ended, the crowds (estimated at 20,000) were streaming out and heading for the carparks and the bus station. Got through without too much pushing and shoving and emerged onto Dundas Street from the carpark without too much problem. One punter was a bit annoyed that I actually wanted to drive my car out of the carpark and onto the road. He seemed to think he had right of way and could walk in front of me. A quick “Fuck Off” informed him of the error of this assumption. Got home in double quick time after that.

A dull, dreary, grey day with nothing much to recommend it apart from a walk in the frosty air and a phone conversation with Hazy this morning. Oh yes, and the dancing was good too. PoD was the frozen cow parsley.

Tomorrow is Monday with all the timetable that entails. It’s 4.5ºc just now and raining, so not much chance of a frosty walk tomorrow.

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Stirling – 21 October 2017

After a particularly lazy start we drove to Stirling. It had been a fairly bright morning, but as I stepped out of the front door, the first drops of rain fell.

That’s the way it continued all day. Lunch was in the poshed-up Indian Cottage. Well, it’s now got cloth table covers and cloth napkins, but the food, thankfully, was just the same. There were a few additional items on the menu, but we are creatures of habit and pick the same selection every time. Prices increased to cover these additions, of course. Still, the lunch was good and Scamp asked for a ‘well-done’ naan bread and that’s exactly what we got.

Wandered round the depressing Thistle Centre, now partly closed off for some reason not disclosed at present. Had a look in Waterstones, but their prices are undercut by Tesco, not to mention Amazon, but at least you can browse and see what’s available and that’s why I occasionally buy a book or two there.

Cafe Nero was our next stop for a coffee and a chance to watch the world go by, or at least Stirling go past the window for half an hour. While we were sitting I got this sketch done. I realise it’s quite light and not very detailed, but I like it for that alone. Next, Waitrose for more ‘messages’ before the drive home.

There was just enough light when we got home for me to do a recce of St Mo’s for a photo opportunity. The only thing worth shooting was a spider building its web, so that would have to do.

Attempted to repair some of the rips and tears in my old jeans with the sewing machine tonight, but I think to be realistic I need one of those embroidery feet. It’s like a normal foot, but it does embroidery. I’m sorry if you don’t understand, but you really have to be a machinist to fully comprehend the details of this skill. In other words, I haven’t a clue.

Tomorrow? No idea. Suggestions on a postcard please.

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Photos, Phones and Probably a Sketch – 12 October 2017

Today I intended to get the bus in to Glasgow just to have a wander, probably gather some photos and maybe get a sketch completed. That was the ‘fun’ stuff, I also wanted to get a baseline price for a new phone contract. That wouldn’t be fun.

As it turned out, Scamp offered me a lift to the station, so I got the train in instead. When I got to the station there was a fair commotion with four police cars and two ambulances sitting outside. The reason for the stramash was lying on the floor in the corridor that takes you down to the low level station. One of the ceiling panels had fallen. Usually these panels are fibreboard or plasterboard, but this part of the station dates to the 1960s and this panel was concrete! Cordons had been set up, police were taking statements from witnesses and at least one wee Glesga wummin who wanted to be seen to be ‘assisting police with their enquiries’. There were also a few ambulance personnel looking for someone to assist. Thankfully only one person was injured, but looking at the size of the concrete lumps, this could have had a totally different outcome.

I walked up Sausage Roll Street and found a sketch for the day. It wasn’t a cold day, but the wind blowing over Garnethill was cutting. I took about 15 minutes to get the bones of the sketch of St Aloysius Church. Even at the second attempt I managed to truncate it and removed the dome at the top of the tower. However, I think I got the gist of the building. Went in to Mandors and got some fabric to make a bow tie for myself. It’s printed with cameras. Quite apt I thought.

From there I walked down to Argyle Street via a couple of art galleries, looking for inspiration. Into Cass Art to browse. Just window shopping. They too had a gallery where a group of 25 artists were selling their work, so I wandered round looking for inspiration. Inspiration is a fickle thing. I found it in the first galleries, but in the Cass Art gallery I realised that my own work was actually not bad. After all this fun stuff, it was time to face Vodafone.

As predicted, all they offered was the blanket price from the website. I could have sat on my backside in front of my shiny new iMac and got that same price. In fact I had. I was told that if I was in the police, army NHS or any of 5,000 other occupations or companies, I was eligible for a discount (allegedly!), but upgrading was not due a discount. Staying with a company was not due a discount. That said, the salesperson had originally told me that I was not eligible for an upgrade because I was outwith the 70 days until the end of my contract. Also, apparently I’d phoned the shop at some point in the last week. Believe me, I wouldn’t waste any of my unlimited minutes phoning them. I just wanted a baseline price and I got their laughable offer, then left.

Scamp had offered to pick me up from the station, so I just got the train back after checking that it was still ok with her. Had a quick roll ‘n’ cooked ham as a late lunch and then grabbed the Nikon and went for a walk in St Mo’s. That’s where I got PoD which was the spider. I was tempted by the pic of the bloke playing slide guitar on Bucky Street. It was when I got the photo home I realised that only his right hand had false nails. Presumably to help with picking the strings. I’d love to have been in the nail bar when he walked in!

Phoned Vodafone customer service later and spoke to someone sensible who sold me the same deal as the salesman in Glasgow, but with a 20% discount. I know I could have pressed for 25% or maybe eve 30%, but he had beaten the Tesco price and it meant I was getting a new phone with more storage space for less than I paid two years ago. Result!

All of that and Seabass for dinner. A good day!

Looks like overnight rain and a wet morning commute, except we don’t commute any more. We just wait for the sun to shine, which may happen around midday with a bit of luck. No plans for tomorrow. May do the first backup of the iMac. Need to think up a name for the new phone. The last one was ‘Mambo No 5’. I’m thinking this one might be ‘Isa.’

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Another day of installations – 9 October 2017

Spent the morning working with Lightroom and what someone called ”all the tracery of freeware and shareware programs that run in the background”. It’s never the big programs that take the time to load. It’s not the data either, it’s all the little apps that sit in your menu bar or start menu. They are the ones that cause all the problems. I’ve got twelve sitting on mine as I write and I’m sure others have a lot more. That took me to lunchtime.

After a piece with brie, apple and honey on brown bread that I was introduced to last week, I packed my bag and headed for the gym, while Gems appeared. As I was driving to the leisure centre, I thought that I should maybe make better use of my Monday time, so I changed direction to Haggs and from there to the Forth & Clyde canal and got a couple of photos taken. I also nearly got a sketch done of Bridge No12, then the rain came and I had to take shelter in the car until the rain abated. Sketch finished I drove home feeling less fit, but happy that I’d made a better use of my limited time.

Out to Salsa after dinner and this time it was a bit of a drag. I think it was the choice of moves that failed to interest me and for once I found myself clock-watching until the end of the class.

Still having problems getting a suitable replacement for the ageing and now barely supported Day One. Journey is looking like the front runner just now, but nobody could say it was the most user friendly app.

No plans for tomorrow. Maybe less computer stuff.

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DML – 5 October 2017

We had decided that if the day was good and sunny we’d go to DML to show it to the Red Juke. It was, and we did.

To make sure we were doing it right, we drove through ‘Blue Rinse’ Callander to take the Duke’s Pass to DML. It will now be renamed the Juke’s Pass. It was on this road that we realised one of the shortfalls of DAB radios. They are fine in the Central Belt and Glasgow, but take one to anywhere slightly hilly and out of town, for instance, the Juke’s Pass and the reception becomes patchy to say the least. We stopped to try to figure it out which allowed the wee silver car in front of us, the one that only had first and second gear, to get away from us. Started off again and enabled Sport Mode. I can now verify that the Juke can corner with the best of them. Scamp doesn’t like Sport Mode. Unfortunately she couldn’t find the Zaphod Beeblebrox glasses. It goes like stink, even up the steepest hills.

We got to DML It’s never going to be ’The Lodge’1 we parked in the designated place where we park every new car we get. It’s a tradition as you well know. That’s The Juke there in the picture, looking quite Flame Red.

We put our walking boots on. Mine clabbered in muck and Scamp’s showroom clean and walked to the waterfall which was looking very dramatic today with the water running off a spate after yesterday and the day before’s rain. The place was busy with a bus tour party, mostly American’s. The Capital letter means they didn’t get in my way while I was photographing the waterfall and weren’t loud and shouty as they sometimes are.

Had a bowl of soup in the cafe that purported to be leek and potato, but no leeks or potatoes were observed although it had been blitzed to death, so any constituent parts would have been microscopic. However, it was hot (very hot) and warmed us up.

Drove back through Aberfoyle and stopped for coffee at the new place, the Smiddy near Blair Drummond. Coffee was ok, but not great and Ginger and Cranberry scone was worth experimenting with. We’ll add it to our ’Worth Trying Again’ list.

Stopped once more at Dobbies for Scamp to add another rose to her collection. This one was Peace. One of my mum’s favourites.

Tomorrow if it’s as good as today, we may go to Mugdock to a craft sale for a Dementia charity.


  1. If you come from Larky, ’The Lodge’ can either mean a protestant extremist organisation or a very secretive, but not secret (honest, nothing secret here) organisation. Both excuses for cheap bar prices. Count the ’rubber men’ outside either of their premises and you’ll agree. 
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One in, One out – 3 October 2017

Today started with Scamp driving the Juke to Tesco with me in the co-pilot’s seat. I searched all morning, but I couldn’t find my Zaphod Beeblebrox glasses. You know, the ones that go completely dark when danger threatens! It wasn’t as bad as I anticipated. Apart from the seat being too close to the steering wheel (wooden blocks for the pedals I think) and the mirrors being in the wrong place it went fine. No hissy fits from either of us, and we came home without any scratches (on us or the car).

After Scamp brought the car back home. I changed cars and drove her car down to the Village to get new tyres. Yes, they had tyres to fit it, but were too busy and would be for a while. Could I come back around 3pm. No problem, I could go back and then take the Juke to Stirling to sort out the lights problem, so drove home and picked up Scamp and drove the Juke to Stirling.

The salesman was a bit bemused and told me that Yes, I had been using the correct lights and Yes, the dipped headlight was working properly. He then took it into the garage so the ‘Techies’ could have a look at it. He came back and told us that everything was fine and the Techies couldn’t find anything wrong. However, the lights looked brighter to us now. I thought I had a winner when I remembered the dash cam had been on all the time so I had a record of what had happened. Then when I checked, I couldn’t see much of what had happened because by the time we got home, the camera had overwritten part of the recording, mainly because it had filled the ‘Protected’ folder of the camera with pointless videos, each one protected so it couldn’t be overwritten. Also, I couldn’t hear anything that was being said behind our backs because Christine and The Queens was playing at full blast. Ok, problem not explained, but probably solved. Drove home.

Dropped the Duke off and drove the Micra down to the tyre place. It was empty. Bloke asked me what I wanted done and when I told him two new front tyres, he said he only had one. Could I bring it back tomorrow. Oh well, what’s one more day, one more journey.

Drove home. You can guess the rest. Yes, dropped off the Micra and picked up my camera and took the Duke down to Auchinstarry which is where I got all of today’s pics and a sketch as well.  Bathtime for the Ducks got PoD.

Tomorrow I’ll take the Micra for new tyres. Hopefully they will have tyres and staff to fit them. Oh yes, tried the lights tonight and they are much brighter than yesterday. I still wonder what they did in the garage!

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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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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.