Oh no! Snow! – 16 March 2019

We were promised snow today, and we got it.

For about an hour it snowed this morning, then the snow turned to sleet, and later to rain. It didn’t keep us in, we’d already agreed we weren’t going out today, so the snow, sleet, rain didn’t change things.

Like a dug wi’ a burst ba’ I continued on my project to get Linux on to the Linx. Eventually I had to agree with the experts who said it couldn’t be done. It can’t. The dug has finally buried the burst ba’. Well, maybe, but it knows where it buried it and it can dig it up again later for another go.

To take my mind off the ba’, I restarted my apple a day project with a painting on expensive Waterford 140lb NOT watercolour paper (NOT stands for Not Hot Pressed, i.e. not perfectly smooth). It was good to paint on paper that doesn’t soak up the paint right away and also doesn’t rub through at the slightest pressure from the brush. I found the paper in a drawer in the painting room. It must be well over twenty years old!

I finally dragged myself out later in the afternoon to plod over to Condorrat because we’d run out of milk and bread. I returned with the aforementioned staples plus chocolate, fudge, a pineapple cake and a rhubarb pie. Equally essential staples! So far we’ve still got the chocolate, but the rest are gone, apart from the bread and milk of course, we’re still working our way through them.

Today’s PoD was taken in St Mo’s, a short diversion from the road back from the shops. It looks like a log jam, but it’s fallen horsetails, one of the oldest groups of grasses. The genus can be traced back 250 million years.

Tomorrow we’re hoping to go to Salsa in Paisley. The last La Rambla salsa social because the restaurant is being taken over by the next door sushi restaurant and salsa isn’t a very Japanese dance. I’ll miss the food, but I won’t miss the terrible service.

Out to Lunch again – 5 March 2019

Today as I expected we were going to look for more flowers and have lunch too. Both these things are becoming habit forming.

In the morning I broke my rule and painted a bunch of grapes instead of an apple. I hope that won’t cause any great rift in the space-time continuum. When I came downstairs Scamp broke the bad news that there was no Glasgow flight for any of the cruise holidays we had on our short list. Not to worry, I’m sure something will turn up.

Scamp wanted to go out to Torwood Garden Centre to get more flowers for some spring colour. I suggested that on the way back we could go to The Boathouse, the new improved Boathouse which seems to have changed its name to Hebo House. Look on Flickr to find out what I’m talking about. She even offered to drive us there, which made it an offer I couldn’t refuse.

Drove to Torwood, loaded more plants of a flowering persuasion into the car and drove to Hebo House. It’s a much more welcoming place than the one that was there before. It was all style and no substance as I recall. As usual when testing a place we had our standard lunch. No starters, Fish ’n’ Chips for Scamp and a burger (no mayo) for me. I hate mayo on a burger. It just makes the whole thing slippery and difficult to hold, not to mention the mess it makes on my jerseys. Both meals passed muster, although the mushy peas with Scamps F ’n’ C were inedible and the coffee was poor. We’ll go back all being well. When we were going in I noticed a photogenic tree on the far bank of the canal and was going to take a quick snap, then decided I’d get one on the way out. When we were leaving, it was bucketing with rain, but I stuck to my guns and grabbed two quick shots. One of them later became PoD after a fair bit of work.

Back home I made some beef olives, froze two of them and the rest go in the fridge for tomorrow’s dinner. I was just finishing when Scamp shouted that she’d found a cruise with a Glasgow departure. Superb! We booked it on the spot. We shall sail the seas again. Not for quite a while yet, but that gives us something to look forward to. Not only that, we’ve got a balcony cabin!! I can’t wait, but I’ll just have to. The booking this year was a joint effort with both of us looking and poring over web pages for hours.

Went back upstairs and painted a poor effort of a couple of apples and some grapes. It covers the remit, so the space-time continuum should be ok, but it wasn’t a great painting.

Tomorrow we are intending to go dancing in the afternoon and at night. We’ll see how it pans out. We also need to get some practise done in the morning.

Just dancing once today – 27 February 2019

Just Michael’s class today, but that was enough for me.

Scamp was out for coffee with Annette this morning. Before she went she noticed we’d missed a phone call from Hazy yesterday, so I phoned her back and we had a long chat about stuff, just stuff, families and friends. For once we didn’t talk about books, so just incase you were wondering Hazy, I’m trying desperately to finish All The Birds In The Sky I notice you gave it four stars on Goodreads. I’m afraid my rating will be considerably lower!

Next on the list of To Do tasks was to get started on today’s sketch while the house was quiet. After a couple of false starts, I did achieve a likeness of an apple and that’s what you can see here. I decided to stick to a monochrome pencil sketch. I used a nice cheap school pencil. It’s an Impega No 2.5 HB. Just goes to show that the quality of the equipment has less of a bearing on the finished article than you’d imagine. I really need to practise these simple objects. Curved objects. I’m happy with my ability to draw objects with straight lines. Curves are the killer.

When Scamp came back we had lunch and drove in to Glasgow to Michael’s class. Jive was not a problem apart from a bit of brain fade by me. Rumba I will never get used to. The nonsense of not using beat one, starting on beat two instead is beyond me. Why make it more difficult than it needs to be? I’m sure some people will just smile and say it makes perfect sense (eh Scamp?), but I don’t hold with that belief. Beat one is there for a reason. Use it! Cha-Cha? Just Rumba with a wee shuffle in the middle. Equally pointless. You can see this is going downhill now, can’t you? You’d be right. We’d practised Quickstep at home last night and we’d practised it again today while the advanced Jivers were doing their stuff. When we were asked to do it on the dance floor it was a disaster. We didn’t even get as far as the running step, the fishtails which had worked so well half an hour before were more like fish paste! Back to the drawing board for quickstep. Maybe next week …

Coffee and a visit to CassArt put a smile back on my face.  After that we drove home and I managed an hour in St Mo’s to get today’s PoD which took a fair bit of post-processing.  Dinner tonight was roast veg risotto and it was lovely.  I squirted some lemon juice in at the end with a bit of lemon rind too and it lifted it.

No dancing tonight because the lady ‘teacher’ was reputedly taking the class!

Tomorrow is free, the last day of 28 Drawings Later.  Such a pity, it’s been a PITA and it’s been fun too.

We had cake! – 26 February 2019

So, that apple again. I’m determined to get it right. Dug wi’ a burst ba’, that’s me!

Spent the morning taking a different tack. Tried using Inktense ink blocks. They look and feel a bit like hard pastels, but they are made from intensely coloured dry ink held together with a binder of some sort. You draw directly on to paper with them, add a clean water wash and the colour whooshes all over the place. To be used with care, I think as they are permanent. Once on the paper, it’s there for good. The same goes for shirts, jerseys, carpets too I’d think, although I’ve only really tested the first two. It was an improvement, much better than yesterday’s apple, but still not right. By the time I had finished, it was lunchtime and then we were off to Sandford to visit the wean (and its mum) and to see if there was indeed cake on offer.

Set the satnav for Sandford which is a village near Strathaven. The last time I was along this road was on a motorbike and it must have been around 1978. Amazingly I remembered the road. Mostly single track and through farmland. The satnav got it perfectly correct and took us right to the door. However the thing that impressed me the most was that the voice on the satnav told us to take the Strathaven road, but pronounced it correctly as Strayven. Artificial Intelligence gone mad.

When we got to the house the wean, Imogen, was asleep in her pram in the garden. IN THE GARDEN?? IN FEBRUARY?? Are ye mad? No of course they weren’t. This is no normal February is it? Not with temperatures like we’ve been having. This is Costa Del February! The wean was perfectly happy sleeping in the sun.  Anyway, nice house, lovely landscape photos printed large and hung on the wall. And why not. That’s what photogs take photos for and it wasn’t until I got this lovely big iMac that I truly appreciated the detail in my photos. I should print more of them and hang them up, not for visitors to admire, but for us.

The cake was delicious. We’re still at a loss to explain to ourselves how Jaclyn managed to make a crunchy topped sponge. Probably it’s good that we don’t know how or we’d be making sponges all the time. Nancy arrived just before Imogen woke up and she reminded me of my mum willing JIC and Hazy to wake up so she could hold them. Scamp was no different. She too was eager for a chance to hold her. Me? No. I don’t speak the baby talk and usually reduce them to tears, so I stayed in the background.

Eventually Scamp had had enough of the wean and we went home, but we were encouraged to go visit the waterfall on our way home. We parked the car and walked along the path to see moving water. Always fascinating, mainly to men, but probably to photogs in general. On the way we found a clump of snowdrops growing wild at the side of the path. That became PoD. Drove home and scamp made a delicious fish pie. One of my favourites.

Today’s painting was done in watercolour, not Inktense, but with more concentrated colours for the apple. I think I was trying too hard to lay on too many washes and overloading the paper. Fewer, but stronger colour washes may be the way to go. I’m better pleased with it, but practised a few more apples while watching the TV tonight. Practise, practise!

Tomorrow we are only dancing in the afternoon. It is rumoured that a certain lady salsa ‘teacher’ will be taking Jamie Gal’s class and that will be no fun, no fun at all.

Monday – Gems Day – 25 February 2019

Started early drawing an apple. Tomorrow I will eat it to prevent any more time being wasted on it.

It wasn’t the best drawing day. I blame Scamp for talking me into having toast for breakfast because we forgot to get milk yesterday. I had volunteered to go and get some this morning, but she said she’d prefer toast and I thought “Why not!” I think that simple act unsettled me for the rest of the day. No toast for breakfast tomorrow.

I decided that I’d get the drawing done early and that would leave the rest of the day free to do as I pleased (once I’d got a PoD). I struggled with that simple task of drawing an apple. I tried it in one pose, I tried it in another. I tried the red side uppermost and the green side uppermost and nothing I did would allow me to create a decent looking apple on paper. The nearest I got was a sketch of an apple in pen on a scrappy bit of paper, but even that had distorted proportions. Eventually I gave up and went for a drive. At least I got today’s PoD. It was taken down beside the Forth & Clyde canal from under the bridge that carries the M80. I liked the letterbox format and the HDR colours. You don’t need to know what HDR is, believe me.

Came home and arrived just as the tea was being served, so I poured myself a cup of coffee instead and took it upstairs to start fresh, except inspiration wouldn’t come. I realise now I had the subject in my hand when I went upstairs. A cup of coffee and two biscuits that would have settled my drawing and it would also have removed that bloody apple from my mind. I started the apple again, this time using gouache which is watercolour paint that feels like oils. It didn’t work. I was just unsettled.

Once Gems had gone I suggested we go in early to salsa. At least that would give me something new to think about. We enjoyed both classes and the moves for the big boys and girls were Setenta Nueve, Desperado, Mariposa, Topo and Zorro. Quite a lot, but only Desperado was relatively new, being an old, old one reprised.

Came home, turned my back on that apple and instead I drew my specs. Sort of a last resort drawing, and even they wouldn’t play. The lenses kept moving and the legs manage to twist themselves into the wrong shape. However, they have been submitted on time and we’ll let that be an end of it.

Tomorrow we’re off to see a wean in Sandford and maybe get some foties taken around that village.  We have been promised cake!

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – 22 January 2019

We woke to snow today. Not lots and not long lasting, but still snow.

It was one of those mornings when we rejoice at being retired. Not for us the scraping of the windscreen and then the slow drive to work, single file in the tyre tracks of the car in front. No, back to bed with a cup of tea and a good book. Rivers of London (book 1, Hazy). The snow came and went for most of the morning before eventually tailing off and then the slow drip, drip of the thaw started, but not before I grabbed a camera and got some macro shots of the snowmelt on the plants in the garden and also on the metal allium feature in the back garden. That’s what achieved PoD.

The furthest we went today was Tesco and only after we were sure the road was clear of the white stuff. Tonight the snow is all but gone, but the temperature is down to -2ºc as I write this.

January is a time for hanging up calendars, but I found we had misplaced one of ours. It was in a polythene bag at the side of the wardrobe in the bedroom and it came from Sardinia. It started us checking back through our photos to see what Alghero, Sardinia looked like. Scamp usually does a screen grab of the temperature every day we are on holiday and in Alghero in June it was 27ºc. That’s a nice thought to end with!

Tomorrow will probably another dancing day. I may go and get three half pans of watercolour paint to replace the ones in the Joan of Art paintbox Hazy bought me a year or so ago. I liked the tin, loved the idea and the tiny little brush, but hated the colour selection – too acidic for me. I’d been painting tonight and decided it was time to warm up the colour selection.

Adding up the numbers – 15 January 2019

Highlight of the day was a visit to Falkirk.

First things first. Before we went our exciting trip, I fixed a dodgy wire on the plug that supplied electricity to the light in the loft and that allowed me to clear out some more junk. As a result, we had a place to store the Christmas decorations and that’s what we did. The decorations are now in their storage area and the spare room is a lot tidier.

Time to get ready to meet Andrew, the FA. Nothing to do with Football or Associations. Everything to do with numbers. The numbers were good. Some tweaks had been made and were explained, graphs were demystified and the bottom line was a very acceptable number. Andrew threw in his usual deliberate mispronunciations, today best one was Angela Meerkat, thrown into a serious discussion of global finances in such a deadpan way that you wondered “Did he really say that?”. It’s just one of his eccentricities, that and his shirts. Today’s flamboyant example was covered in large wine coloured roses. His prediction that the pound would rise tonight after the vote for/against Theresa May’s Brexit bill no matter what the result, has just been proven correct. An astute man with a wicked sense of humour. Always worth listening to.

A quick visit to Morrisons for essentials, but no strawberries and churros today. Real essentials, for a change. Then it was home. The headlights came on as we left Morrisons and it was just before 3pm. It was a dull, drizzly day, but the clouds were thinning as the light was disappearing. I decided to drop Scamp off and go for a quick drive down to Broadwood Loch to grab a shot or two. As it turned out it was nine shots, and the best one was what you see above. I liked the ball sitting on the great expanse of dirty concrete under a gloomy sky. The curved railings are due to the shot being taken with the Samyang fish eye lens.

When I got back, there was a message on the phone from Pest Control at NLC to check if we still had a problem and I told him we did have last night.  He then set out the steps the council would take with the council houses one either side of us and said that we would be advised what repairs needed done to our house.  No date was given for the examination, but I think sooner rather than later given the MSP’s email.  We’ll see.

So, Theresa has lost the vote by the biggest majority in history. Will it make any difference to the price of fish? Maybe, but we’ve got enough fish in the freezer to see us through for a week or two. Interesting times ahead.

Tomorrow we may be dancing in the afternoon if Michael is fit. He texted Scamp to say he has the flu. My heart goes out to him.

The “Rat Man”cometh – 11 January 2019

Today we were expecting the “Rat Man”to call and hoping he’d call early so we could go out to lunch. He didn’t, he came in the middle of the day and spoiled our plans.

So the “Rat Man”came and found that the trap he’d put down in the back garden had not been touched, which we both found a bit surprising because we’d had a few nights without any rodents. However, when he checked at No 36 he found that all the poison he’d put down was gone. Maybe we’ve found the source of the problem. He’d put the poison down in the loft there and he suspected the access route was through a hole in the flashing at their gable end. Since their loft is at the same level as our upstairs floor, it seems there may be access from No 36 to our ceiling void. I’ll need to check that. When he’d laid down some fresh poison next door he came round and explained that as there was nothing to find in our house he was signing us off. I suppose that’s logical, but I will miss him, because I got fed up typing “Rat Man” for the blog and I created a Keyboard Maestro shortcut which would type “Rat Man” for me if I typed R M! He said that he’d be back to check No 36 again next week, but he’d drop in to see what progress we’d had. As a leaving gift, he gave me a couple of blocks of poison on a wire trace that he encouraged me to lob up into the ceiling void and check it next week by pulling it out with the wire. I took it and removed the blanking plate then lobbed it like he suggested and then replaced the plate. Now we wait and see!

<Technospeak>
With the coast clear, I grabbed the Nikon and a couple of lenses and walked around St Mo’s for an hour. It was only when I came back that I realised the aperture had been set to f22, which is a tiny wee hole letting very little light through. The camera doesn’t want to use a really slow shutter speed, so it compensates by using a very high ISO speed. High ISO speeds mean lots of digital noise which used to be called ‘noise’. It gives lots of tiny little coloured dots on the photo, especially noticeable in areas of flat tone, like the sky and on still water. All my photos had those tiny little dots. Despite my processing you can still see them in the PoD. Disappointed.
</Technospeak>

Scamp gave me a fright when she came back early from Tesco saying the car was making a ‘funny noise’. I feared the worst, but it turned out she had accidentally run over a tube of plumber’s mastic and the goo had covered one of her tyres. As she was driving it was curing and coming off in strands, banging against the wheel arch and making the ‘funny noise’. No damage done and after we’d taken it for a test drive most of it had rubbed off the tyre. Breathe again.

Tomorrow we may go to Hamilton for a curry if the weather is decent.

Another beautiful day – 9 January 2019

Beautiful, but cold.

All the cars were frozen when we got up today, but we were determined to make the most of the beautiful day, so we got up and I went out to defrost the car. I’ve got a sort of love – hate relationship with the Juke. Somethings about it just irritate me. Some things I love. I’d like a car that has a heated front screen, but the Juke has the next best thing. Press the demise/defrost button and the blower starts going full blast and all of that blast is directed towards the windscreen and using the side jets, to the side windows. Wishing two or three minutes the screen and the side window are clear. It helped today that the sun was just creeping round to spread some heat on the top corner of the windscreen, but most of the work was done by that defrost button.

We drove east to Cramond, home to the giant toblerones and the nice wee cafe beside the River Almond. That was where we were headed, to the river walk. Unfortunately when we reached the cafe it was closed. It looked as if it had been closed for quite some time and there was an advert looking for kitchen staff. However, there were no kitchen staff in evidence, so we walked further up the river, past the ruins of the mill where today’s PoD came from and on until we reached the steps that lead up and over the cliffs and down the other side, then they go over another set of cliffs and down the other side of them. We decided that was too much of the up and over stuff, and postponed it until another (warmer) day.

Since it was now around midday, we were mindful of the fact that the sun would soon be dipping towards the horizon and also that a spot of lunch would be good. We knew of another cafe in the village and walked to that, but there was no room at this particular inn today. There was nothing for it but to grab a shot of the toblerones sparkling in the sunshine and looking good with the tide just starting to come in from a long way out, and go home.

Stopped at The Gyle shopping centre to go for lunch at Morrisons and to get some provisions too. Roll ’n’ Sausage for me, bowl of chips for Scamp and two coffees for just over six quid was a bargain. Then it was back in the Juke and home along the M8 for a change. And, for a change we made really good time on a road that’s almost always congested.

Spoke to Hazy for a while when we got home.  She had read yesterday’s blog to see what our plans were for today and time her call perfectly.  Good to catch up with all that’s going on “”, as Ray would say

Dinner was an old favourite, Mac & Cheese with extra bacon for me. Then it was time for Wednesday Salsa. I danced half of the 6.30 class and then the whole 7.30 class. Thoroughly enjoyed both. Coming home they were digging up the motorway or pretending to at least and we had to sit at every traffic light all the way from Charing Cross to Cumbernauld Road in Dennistoun. I didn’t count them, just harrumphed as the next one ahead turned from amber to red. Sometime’s you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not. Tonight was NOT!

Tomorrow it’s coffee with the boys. Adult entertainment. There may be strong language from the start as they say on the BBC.

So, this is Sunday, isn’t it? – 16 December 2018

Yes, it was Sunday, so why did it feel like Saturday?

Well, the simple answer is because Saturday felt like a Friday and therefore it was logical that Sunday would feel like Saturday. OK?

With that in mind, we set of on to visit Stirling, pretending that it was Saturday. One of the benefits of visiting Stirling on a Sunday is that there is no charge for parking. That saved us a whole £1.40! We walked to Waitrose and bought the whole shop, then packed it carefully into the Juke’s boot and drove home.

By the time we got home there was just enough light to allow me to go a walk over to St Mo’s to grab a few shots with “The Big Dog”, i.e. the Nikon. Low light means you need a bigger sensor to grab as many of those photons as possible without resorting to a higher ISO. Bigger sensors mean less digital noise, sometimes called grain. Smaller grains means smoother images. I could have put a <Technospeak> warning there, but I just thought some of you deserved a bit of a photographic education. So now you know that to get smoother gradations you need a lower ISO and if possible a bigger sensor. There, quote that and you’ll sound so much cleverer! Got the photos and took them home to look at more closely on the ‘puter.

Earlier in the day, even before we’d gone out to buy Waitrose, we’d spoke to Hazy who updated us on all the things going on down London way. It’s nice to know that other folk are suffering from dull weather too. It’s not just us.

After perusing today’s photos and settling on a PoD, a moody shot across the boardwalk at St Mo’s, I started to make the dinner which was a vegan Spag Bol. I’ve made it before but today’s effort seemed a bit bland. Too many mushrooms or too little salt? Not sure. Scamp said it was fine, so maybe just me.

Sat down to watch the final of The Apprentice. I won’t spoil it for you, but I will tell you that it was one of the girls! Halfway through JIC which was a godsend really as two hours of TA without a break is more of a marathon than Mo Farah could withstand. Spoke for half an hour or so and got up to date on all the things going on down Cambridge way.

Finally watched the end of the epic journey to be Sugar’s next business partner. Slightly less interesting than a boring F1 GP.

Tomorrow will probably be a Monday. Let’s hope it stays that way.