A Plan – 18 February 2019

On Mondays you have to have a time management plan.

Time is especially precious on Mondays and Wednesdays. Mondays because of Gems and Salsa and Wednesdays because of Ballroom and Salsa. That’s why today I tried to allocate time to activities that had to be completed. Some have to be tackled in daylight. Painting and sketching are the important ones for good natural light. Photography too, but it’s not as demanding of natural light as painting. Other things like posting images on Flickr and Facebook can be done under room lighting. With that in mind, I set out a plan of operations:

  1. Photography in daylight when there’s a bit of sun too, if possible. However, the actual taking of the photo doesn’t take all that long, so it can be done when and if the conditions are favourable.
  2. Painting and Sketching take a little longer and need some time allocated to them to make sure I don’t over run.
  3. Making dinner is determined by which classes we are going to and posting stuff online can be done any time.

So, started after lunch and got some photos taken just before the rain started and in a little pool of sunshine. Today’s PoD was one of the first croci to poke its head out of the compost. I liked the effect of the raindrops on it.

Next, today’s subject for sketching and painting was a couple of herb jars from the kitchen and a tin of Pimenton pepper. I’d had a go at the pepper tin years ago and liked the shape and also the fact that it should have a decent set of perspective lines. The finished article wasn’t really to my satisfaction because the perspective wasn’t correct, but I like the rendering of the glass jars and their contents. I tried a second drawing, drawing only this time, of the two jars. It was much better graphically, but didn’t have the watercolour effect, so the first painting won the day. All the artwork was done upstairs in the back bedroom while Gems practised their songs. Good headphones with noise reduction are a godsend.

After dinner we drove in to Salsa. It used to be the one class I could completely lose myself in if I was having a bad day at work, but since last week’s announcement that it was being terminated in four weeks, it’s lost a lot of its appeal. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoy the dancing and the repartee, but it’s like I’m losing an old and trusted friend. I think even if it is reprieved, it won’t be the same. The trust would not be there any more. Hard to explain in words.

The class before ours, the beginners, were doing Sombrero. What Scamp calls the first time they are really dancing. It’s true the whoops and yells when Jamie demonstrated what they were going to learn made me smile. It almost made me smile as much as when you lead a beginner through the apparent maze of the move and they realise they’ve just done it! They did it. Well, most of them did.

Our own class were very vociferous in their condemnation of the decision to axe the Advanced class and several proposals were put forward to avert it, but I felt all the time it was a fait accompli. It was going to go ahead, no matter what we felt. Of course it was left to Jamie to fend off the questions. Shannon was obvious by her absence.

Tomorrow we’re out to lunch.

Happy Anniversary – 17 February 2019

Forty six years ago today, we made it legal.

Today started off dull, but brightened up as the day went on. It rained too, but not all day. One of those days with a little bit of everything. Rain, wind and sunshine. No snow thankfully.

In the afternoon Scamp got fed up with me mooching around the house and sent me off to St Mo’s to get some photos and to get out of her hair. The light was really nice and I managed to get today’s PoD and a few more. Really liked the light colour in this one and the sharpness. It’s called The Finger because it does look like a finger to me, at least. Managed to slip off a slimy log and fall into a burn. The just-cleaned jacket may recover with a wipe down, or it might be another trip to the washing machine for it.

Not a lot else to say about today. Spoke to JIC in the evening after dinner and caught up with their busy lives. Then I tackled today’s sketch in my new Paperchase sketch book. I think they must have re-formulated their paper in the books. It seems a lot more absorbent than the last one I had. The watercolour washes just appeared to soak into it. However, it’s done and on time.

Gems tomorrow with salsa planned for the evening.

Forty six years ago! Were did all that time go?

Out for a walk – 16 February 2019

Although today started out cloudy, the weather fairies said it would brighten up. It did.

We drove to Chatelherault for a walk among the trees. It was busy, but then it was Saturday and people like to get out and about on a Saturday. We chose a path we hadn’t been on before that would eventually take us down to the old Avon Bridge. It was a fairly easy path. Wide enough and interesting enough to keep us occupied for the 1.5km that was the advertised distance. At least it was until we reached the last 100m which was a steep slope downhill and what goes down must eventually go up. We stopped for a while on the old bridge to watch the river flow and the world go by, then we made our way back along the Avon until we came to the steps that would be the Up part we’d been expecting. It was good exercise, let’s leave it at that! From there it was a leisurely stroll back to the centre and the cafe.

I went to buy lunch and Scamp went to find a table. She found more than a table, she found Crawford and Nancy’s daughter with her own daughter Imogen. By the time I got the lunches and the coffees, Imogen had been whisked away by her dad to the baby changing room. Such things were never available in our day. Soon dad arrived with Imogen wearing nappies and nothing else. Apparently she had been soaked to the skin and they’d not brought a change of clothes. However her mum soon sorted things out and Scamp got to hold her for a while. I felt a bit like the Kevin Bridges character who has to talk to a baby and all he can think of is “Ye a’ right, mate?” I try to avoid talking to babies as they usually just start crying. Imogen didn’t cry, she just wanted to test the strength of the material in my sweatshirt. Apparently it passed the test, but wasn’t deemed good enough to eat … thankfully! When they left we had another coffee because Scamp had been too busy discussing things with Imogen to drink her last cup. After that we left. It’s an ok cafe, the coffee is drinkable, but the food is dire and the prices ridiculously high.

Came home and ordered takeaway from Golden Bowl. Usual for Scamp. Sweet & Sour Pork Balls for me. Fatty pork belly deep fried in batter and served with fried rice and sweet & sour sauce. Can’t be healthy because it tastes so good. Even reading those ingredients puts about a kilo on you and elevates your sugar and cholesterol levels to the warning flashing red area. It was lovely.

Today’s PoD is a fake photo of Chatelherault House. The house is ok, but the sky came from a totally different shot. It works though! Tonight’s sketch is of the big watercolour paint box. Done while listening and partly watching a program about how big a bastard Frank Williams of the Williams F1 team was. I never liked him, but I hadn’t realised just how nasty he was.

Tomorrow it’s due to rain, so I don’t know where we’re going, if anywhere.

Perf – 15 February 2019

My coffee mountain was being eroded and in need of replenishment.

It was a lovely morning. Blue sky and just a few thin white clouds. A perfect day to travel up to Perf for some coffee beans and some loose tea. A long way to go for coffee you say when you could just drive up to Tesco. Hmm. Does Tesco offer Cuba Turaquino? Or Honduras? Or real Columbian? Does Tesco sell loose Assam Long Leaf tea? Hmm. I didn’t think so. I could have ordered online, but the Cuban is the problem. The Bean Shop uses PayPal for online purchasing and PayPal being american can’t be used for purchases from Cuba. Obama was heading in the right direction and it looked as if he was going to remove the blockade from dealing with Cuba. The blond combover president stopped that and the upshot for me is that I can’t buy my Cuban coffee from The Bean Shop in Perf online. I can buy it perfectly legally and without problem over the counter, so that’s why we were travelling up the M9 to Perf today. Well, that and the fact that it was a lovely spring-like day for a run.

Got there and after a Nero coffee to refresh us we went for a walk to ‘The Ship’. The bit of the pavement that overhangs the Tay and always reminds us of being on a cruise. There were loads of folk there today. I managed to get PoD which was a bloke gazing out over the river. Then we walked through the riverside park and across to the playing fields, a bit we’ve never been to before in all the time we’ve walked through the park. From there it was a short walk to The Bean Shop and the coffee. With it safely in the bag we walked back through the town and drove home. The blue sky was still there and so were the few white clouds.

The sun was so welcoming, I went for a walk in St Mo’s to feed the ducks and get some more photos. Light was beginning to fade as I was heading home to more pakora and then Scamp’s Prawn Curry.

Today’s 28 Drawings sketch was done just after midnight last night and was done from a ‘Photo Booth’ shot taken on the iMac. I think it’s a fair representation of the bloke who looks out at me when I’m shaving in the morning.

When we were talking to Hazy this morning I said I’d note the music I’m listening to while I write the blog.  Today it’s Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

Tomorrow is Saturday and we have no plans.

An hour in the Toon – 14 February 2019 ♡

Actually less than an hour according to the parking machine in Cowcaddens.

Scamp was off to meet Isobel for coffee this morning, so I was free to do anything I wanted. What I ended up doing was tidying up the back bedroom even more. Scamp had left me two Creme Eggs as a Valentine’s prezzy! I had that with a coffee while I tried today’s medium Sudoku. When she came back the clouds had rolled in and it wasn’t looking like a day for going to Mugdock or anywhere else of that ilk. I had lunch and afterwards decided I’d go out somewhere to take some foties. My first choice was Haggs, down by the canal at Haggs to be more precise. I was halfway there when I made the decision that there was no point, because you really need good light for landscape, and the light was poor. So I turned back and pointed the Juke at the carpark for the Luggie. Maybe a walk down the Luggie would work. After I’d parked I reconsidered. I wanted to go and look for drawing ink in a new shop I’d found near Cowcaddens underground. I couldn’t go tomorrow, weekends are alway accounted for, so what about Monday. Nope, Monday is too busy as it is and Tuesday is accounted for. It’s in the wrong end of Sausageroll Street for a Wednesday detour, and next Thursday is coffee with the boys. Why don’t I just go today and hope to get some foties in town. Sorted. Turned round and drove into Glasgow.

Parked at Cowcaddens and walked round the disaster that is the Art School (how much does even the scaffolding cost?) Finally arriving at the Paint & Mortar shop that sells graphics stuff to students at the GSA (Glasgow School of Art), but is perfectly happy to take money from ordinary punters too. Two very helpful sales staff told me that they didn’t have the ink I was looking for. All their drawing ink had a shellac base which will completely destroy a normal fountain pen in about a week. I used to have an old Osmiroid fountain pen when I was an apprentice draughtsman. It’s the only fountain pen that would survive being filled with shellac based Indian ink. You can’t get them anymore.

I walked back to the car and grabbed a few shots in the soft light that had appeared after the clouds had broken up. One of them made PoD after a bit of post-processing in Lightroom. I was quite pleased with the effect. Put my ticket in the parking machine and I’d used less than an hour of time. Had a walk, clarified what ink I needed and got a couple of photos all in less than 60mins!

Came home and after manipulating the image, I got stuck into making some pakora using a new recipe I’d found on YouTube. Mercifully it worked because there was a fair bit of prep needed. It still needs a bit more work, but the basis is there now. Scamp agreed that it tastes a lot better than that first recipe. Dinner tonight was a curry from ASDA and we both agreed it better than the Tesco version.

Watched the Sewing Bee tonight while I copied one of Tuesday’s photos of Scamp’s Christmas Rose. Not entirely satisfied with with it, but it’s not too bad. Halfway through the 28 Drawings already. How time flies.  I don’t know how those people in the GBSB can take an old pair of jeans and make a dress out of it without a pattern.  I think I’m doing well if I can repair a pocket.  Making a bow tie is the limit of my abilities.  Maybe I will start that waistcoat this year.

Don’t have any plans for tomorrow. Weather fairies seem to think it’s going to be good, but they said that about today and although it did eventually brighten up, it took it’s own sweet time about it. Still, probably go somewhere nice.

Recovery time – 9 February 2019

Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. So going to bed late, very late for some makes you the opposite? Yeah, that sounds about right.

Didn’t break the surface until well after 9am this morning. I consoled myself with the thought that I must have needed the rest, then after breakfast I fell back asleep. Finally got up and Scamp suggested lunch at Wagamama in The Fort. The Fort used to be a dump, but now that they’ve tidied it up, installed a coffee shop (unfortunately a Costa!) and a bookshop, not to mention Wagamama, it’s not at all bad. Yes Scamp, good call, we’ll go to Easterhouse for lunch. Bet you never thought I’d say that forty odd years ago!

Drove there and for once we got parked without a problem, unlike back at the house where it seemed that somebody was designing a slalom on the street with cars, vans and even lorries apparently abandoned everywhere. Wandered round the shops and bought some stuff that we both needed / wanted, then went to Wagamama which was jumping! Saturdays, the days when the working people go out shopping. Food took a little time to come, but it was busy. Scamp’s was not very hot, so she complained, she’s getting good at that, and got it replaced. It was a Raisukaree Curry and it looked and tasted lovely. I had a Chicken and Prawn Teppenyaki and although it was a bit dry, which was my fault for not checking, it was very tasty. Would I have it again? Probably not. I’d probably opt for my favourite Ramen, almost any flavour would do!

When we came out I grabbed today’s PoD which is the head of a bronze deer sculpture by Lucy Casson. There is a little group of them outside the restaurant. Then we went our different ways. Me to Hobbycraft to be shocked at the price they were asking for tubes of watercolour. Eight quid for the smallest tube? Luckily I’ve got plenty to keep me going. Scamp went looking for clothes. We met back at the car, both of us empty handed.

Drove to Morrisons to get ‘messages’ and the makings of pakora tonight, and that was it for the tour of The Fort. Storm Erik was still blustering around trying desperately to sound like the promised tornado, but not fooling anyone. Drove home watching the changing light on the hills caused by the clouds being ripped apart by the wind. Very pretty.

Attempted to make pakora tonight, but it wasn’t a glowing success. Couldn’t remember how to get the batter to the right consistency and as Scamp kept saying, there was something missing from the filling. Still not sure what it was. All we have now it dirty oil. It looks like somebody’s changed the oil in an old car. Need to find somewhere to dump it now.

Tonight’s sketch was done while watching a quite interesting documentary about Bowie. All these old blokes who used to be youngsters in the Spiders From Mars. Interesting part was listening to how they created the backing tracks with ancient technology.

Tomorrow we’re back to normal rising time hopefully and may go dancing later.

Out to lunch – Out to dinner – 8 February 2019

No home cooking for us today!

We were going to Larky to Crawford and Nancy’s for dinner tonight, but that wasn’t until about 7pm so the rest of the day was free for us to rampage through. We decided to go in to Glasgow to have lunch and for me to try to get the Burnt Umber paint I’d failed to get the other day. The weather was a bit wild with strong winds and heavy rain and it was forecast to get even wilder as the day progressed.

First stop was lunch, a light lunch we’d agreed, in Paesano. It was a fairly light lunch and as we weren’t going to be eating tonight until about 8pm, a pizza in the middle of the day wasn’t going to hurt. I certainly didn’t disappoint.

From there we parted company and while I went to get the paint, Scamp went to M&S to buy stuff. I bought another half pan marked Burnt Umber, it’s a dark brown ‘earth’ colour by the way, but this time after I’d bought it I immediately opened it in the shop and showed it to the girl who had served me. The actual pan was marked Burnt Sienna. This is Windsor & Newton colour. Not cheap and supposedly professional quality. I showed it to the assistant. She called the manager who went to test the actual colour. She came back and agreed that the colour in the pan was Burnt Sienna which is a much lighter orange-brown. She opened another sealed packet that was marked Burnt Umber and it too was marked Burnt Sienna on the actual pan. The last one in the rack was opened and it was marked Burnt Umber! Result!

Met Scamp and went for a coffee then we headed up past the GOMA where today’s PoD came from then home through the gathering Storm Erik. I started my sketch of the day which was oranges, new oranges, the last lot having been consumed, in an elegant bowl with lovely swirling colours. Just to be sure, I tested the Burnt Umber, checked and it did say Burnt Umber on the pan and painted a swatch only to find it was another bloody Burnt Sienna. No point going back to the shop. This time I’m writing to W&N to query their quality control.

PoD done. Sketch done. Both posted and on time, but no time left to blog. As you’ll have guessed it was written on Saturday.

June arrived bang on 7pm without Iain who wasn’t feeling well. Off we went for an entertaining night with C&N. Food and conversation was great and sitting in front of their log burning stove was just lovely. Great night. Couldn’t believe when I looked at the clock and it was just before 11.30. Home through the storm, dropped June off and home for a dram before bedtime.

Tomorrow (Today 😉 we would go out to lunch somewhere.
Spoiler Alert: We did!

Up and out at stupid o’clock – 5 February 2019

I’d forgotten that 7.30AM existed. I used to be out the door and on my way to work at that time. That was just over four years ago and you tend to remember the good times and ignore the bad. 7.30AM was one of the bad times. Defrosted the car and picked up Scamp to take her to the train station. Her and half of Cumbersheugh seemed to on the way to the station at Croy this morning. Dropped her at the ticket office and drove off to park and walked back to check that she had caught the train. The train was already at the station by the time I got there, but I saw that familiar red hat on a person that was sitting in a seat. There’s only one hat like that in the world, Hazy!

With her safely on the first stage of her journey to Inverness to meet her sister, I drove home, had my breakfast, read my emails and went back to bed for an hour. I should have gone out and photographed that beautiful dawn sky before I went to bed, but I didn’t and I so regret it now.

When I got up for the second time today it was lunchtime and I had the last ladleful of my soup, then I went out to get a PoD under a much different sky. The clouds were Scottish Grey and as I walked to the car, the rain started. I drove down to the Luggie Water and found the snowdrops which were now blooming nicely. Using my glove as a cushion for the Oly and a Moleskine notebook as a wee tent to protect the lens from rain I grabbed half a dozen shots at various distances and quickly checked them to make sure they’d all worked and they had.

Back home, processed the photos and made my dinner which was chilli con CARNE, because Scamp would be having a posh lunch in Inverness, so I could have a meat dinner tonight. Dumped the chilli into the slow cooker and left it for an hour or two, plenty time to get my sketch of the day done. Today it was to be two oranges, a pear and an apple. I made the mistake of having four items in the sketch. Every beginner know you should always group odd numbered items. It was the apple that went wrong. If anyone asks me about it, I’ll just say that the apple was old and was getting a bruise at the bottom. I liked the oranges and the pear. Unfortunately you can’t clone out mistakes on a watercolour.

Scamp sent a text to say she was just passing Stirling Castle about 8.30pm and I got ready to drive in to Glasgow. Picked her up just after 9pm after doing a detour because the motorway was being repaired.

Tomorrow it’s Dancing day. Hopefully it will be Blackfriars in the afternoon and STUC salsa at night. Chilli was fine, but just a little too mild.

A Dull Day – 4 February 2019

Usually a walk along the canal can lift my spirits, but today the opposite was the truth.

It’s a Monday and that means Gems and Gems means I go out for a walk. Today I was half decided to go down to the Luggie to get some photos of snowdrops, but then I changed my mind and went to Auchinstarry instead. I walked along the canal, but there wasn’t much there that inspired me. Lots of other folk were there too, maybe they too were looking for inspiration. I hope they found some. I didn’t see any black monkeys while I was there, but one seemed to cling to me while I was there and it remained with me for the rest of the day.  Today’s PoD was taken crossing the Plantation over to the railway path.  I think they are crab apples.  As you can see, although it was a dull day for me, there was a beautiful bright blue sky.  That’s sometimes the way of things.

Dinner was the usual Monday, ‘Red’ Spaghetti. However, we also had a bowl of soup and that soup contained a selection of the veg I painted for yesterday’s 28 Drawings Later. The sketch was good, but the soup was better. Not so today’s sketch. Although it’s done and on time, I wasn’t happy with it. I don’t think the Midori notebook is conducive to watercolour work. It’s fine for ink, but doesn’t have the tooth or the strength to hold a watercolour wash. Note to self, horses for courses.

Went to salsa and helped out at the 6.30 beginners class. Very big class with too many followers or to few leaders. Either way, that meant both Scamp and I were needed as leaders, as were any other people willing to lend a hand. Our class suffered from the same lack of leaders, but whereas the beginners class had over forty participants, our class had seven people in total. Three followers and four leaders including the teacher. Even worse, one of the followers left to go to her ballet class halfway through the lesson. Unless we get a sudden injection of salseros, I don’t see the advanced class continuing in its present form after this session, and that will be a terrible shame. Scamp and I have discussed the problem at length and cannot put our collective finger on the source of the problem. I don’t think there is a single source, as usual with things like this, there are a host of contributing factors. Only time will tell if the class will continue. It may not have been the most successful class for numbers, but I did manage to pass on that wee black monkey to someone else!
Tonight’s ‘new’ move was an old favourite Chi Wa Wa. We also tried to remember Agamemnon with little success. I’m sure Jamie G will have it perfected by next week.

Tomorrow I’m up early to give Scamp a lift to the station to catch the Glasgow train and from there she will hopefully get the bus to Inverness to have lunch and a gossip with Jackie. I may go looking for interesting photos and inspiration!

S’no Snow – 3 February 2019

Last night when I went to bed the temperature was just on zero. This morning it was raining, so the temp was in the positive range.

By lunchtime the ice and snow as definitely on the back foot. There was liquid water in the bird bath although there was a decidedly large iceberg sitting in it. After lunch it was back to the ‘leccy cupboard again to investigate and empty the last remaining boxes, most of which contained light bulbs or screws. They were easily sorted, the ‘keepers’ stored and the ‘chuckers’ put in the bin.

That left PoD to be taken. I couldn’t decide what would fit that particular bill and eventually decided to go for a walk to St Mo’s to see if anything there was suitable. The light was poor, so landscape was out of the question. There was ice on the pond but the ducks and swans had managed to cut a hole in it right in the middle, so, well out of range of the 200mm end of the Panasonic zoom. Nothing for it but to rely on a macro. It’s getting like cut flowers and ‘Weemen’, a last resort. That’s what you see at the top of the page. It’s not the best macro I’ve done, but it was a chance to try out a noise reducing setting I’d seen on Flickr. It worked, but was not the great solution that the person seemed to suggest. Maybe I’m just hard to please. Surely not! By the time I came home from my walk the snow had gone and now it’s raining heavily and the temperature is almost 5ºc.

I’d bought a Hogged Shoulder Steak at the farmers market in Embra yesterday and cooked it for my dinner while Scamp finished off the roast chicken we’d bought on Friday. I must say the shoulder steak was delicious. I’ll be looking out for Annanwater at the Glasgow farmers market on the last Saturday of the month.

Today’s 28 Drawings Later sketch was of the veg I’m hoping to make soup from tomorrow. Scamp has already boiled the pulses, but as she’ll be busy with Gems preparation tomorrow, I’ll do the dinner. I liked the sketch. Colour needed a bit more saturation, but luckily Lightroom came to the rescue.

Spoke to JIC tonight and got his take on the implications of a no-deal Brexit (how I hate that name!) and dealing with new ‘mental’ neighbours.

That’s about it. Tomorrow is Gems day and we haven’t a clue what we did last week at salsa, so we’ll have to make it up as we go along, just the same as everybody else.