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Happy Birthday JIC – 16 August 2017

Today is JIC’s birthday, so happy birthday JIC. Hope you had a better day weatherwise than we had!

Quote from yesterday’s blog:

“Today was a lovely day, but tomorrow is to be not so nice, so I may be doing some painting.”

That’s the way it turned out too. I did do a little watercolour painting in the morning, because I missed the sunshine by staying in bed too long. Only an hour after we woke up, the rain was on, so I didn’t miss all that much of the sunshine. After that it was shower after shower until they all merged into one big downpour.

Scamp wanted to clear out a cupboard and I ‘helped’ for a while before I got bored and went to sand down the window sills and give them their second coat of varnish. It was a strangely satisfying way to use the day. Standing painting while watching the rain pour down outside. By taking my time and not rushing, I actually managed to avoid getting stain on either:

a. The curtains.
b. The vertical blinds.

An amazing feat by my standards.
The great thing about applying acrylic staining varnish is that an idiot can do it and get good results. It’s not waterproof, and it’s not all that hard wearing, but it does what it says on the tin. It gives a good finish easily. That’s my kind of paint … or varnish.

After fish ’n’ chips for dinner we drove in to Glasgow to be met with worse than the usual Wednesday car crash that is the M8. By judicious changing of lanes and pleading looks with indicators on, I managed to get us to the STUC in reasonable time and just before the 6.30 class had started. And what caused this chaos? It was raining. As a result, there was local flooding. We live in Scotland. It rains occasionally, in fact, more than occasionally. It rains often. It’s not as if we are on the edge of the Gobi Desert, we’re in a temperate zone on the eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean. IT RAINS HERE OFTEN. So why did the pinheads who designed the M8 not take cognisance of that fact and build in enough drainage to deal with a known situation? Answers on a postcard please.

First class – Beginners Week 2 was fun. Everyone was really enjoying it, even the helpers like us.
<RANT>Second class – Advanced (?) Too many with heads up their collective arses, thinking they know it all when in fact they need to do a bit more serious preparation which begins with listening to the teacher. It’s OK being a ‘know it all’ if you actually do know it, as some people do. However, it’s not OK if you simply want to show off, because then you don’t really know it all, if fact you know nothing. </RANT>

Came home and spoke to the birthday boy, which brings us back to the start.

I’ll say it again. Hope you had a great day JIC and I hope the sun did shine for you today.

Hoping for some sun for ourselves tomorrow between the showers.

Today’s PoD was a little setup I’ve been considering for some days, and nothing at all to do with JIC’s celebration, just incase you were wondering Sim! It was something I dreamed up to use when the weather was against me. Always good to have something up your sleeve.

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Following my nose – 15 August 2017

The forecast for today was good, so we headed off this morning to South Queensferry.

Unfortunately, the rest of the Western world had also decided that today was the perfect day to go to South Queensferry, and they’d got there and parked before us. No room at the inn. Not to worry, we could just carry on along the road and go to Cramond. Almost as good, and it has a good ice cream van that does Mr Whippy style ice cream.

Then we got stuck behind an old ‘diddy’ who seemed determined to wear out his brakes. Ten miles an hour everywhere. I’m sure he was getting the clutch and brake mixed up, either that or he had enormous feet and was covering both pedals. The road down the hill is very narrow and there sometimes isn’t room for two cars to pass. This diddy just kept driving and forcing others to reverse out of his way. Only once did he give way. Anyway, eventually he got to the bottom of the hill and the parking place. He went one way round, I went the other. The parking place was full. Who did we meet at the other end of the carpark? The diddy. He just stopped and indicated that I should reverse. Sorry, I don’t take instructions from diddies, so I just sat and waited with my arms folded. The standard I’m not going anywhere signal. He gave up and reversed out of my way! Result! He’s probably writing a blog at this minute ranting about the ignorant man who thought he owned the road and the carpark! He’d be right too. Hope his brakes cooled quicker than his temper.

So, no room at the inn number 2. We knew there was a big wide road that we’d seen cars parked on and it ran parallel to the esplanade at Cramond, but we’d never found it. Today we needed it. By following my nose, I found it. It was a dual carriageway that apparently was just a big carpark. It was nearly empty and we got to choose our parking space. We walked along for a while, but then turned back because Scamp had spotted an ice cream van. We both had 99s. It’s ages since I’ve had a 99. So glad we found this parking place. Now all we had to do was get back out of it and onto the road home again.

That was more difficult and we had to drive almost into Embra before I could find the road back, but I did, by following my nose again. Just to be cantankerous, I didn’t take the motorway or the Forth Road Bridge (the new crossing isn’t open yet), but headed for Bo’ness instead. Stopped at a garden centre that appeared on our right and had coffee ’n’ a scone. Scamp had been looking for a pair of proper secateurs for ages and the garden centre provided them for a price she was willing to pay.

From there it was an easy drive home.

Today’s PoD was taken from the ‘new’ carpark and is entitled “Are we having fun yet?”

Today was a lovely day, but tomorrow is to be not so nice, so I may be doing some painting. Not oils this time, but acrylic and not on a canvas either, it’ll be on the inside window sills which really need another layer of varnish.

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Rainy Monday – 14 August 2017

Least said about the weather today, the better. It rained, let’s leave it at that.

Again, we were pottering about in the garden in the rain. Sowing seeds and stuff, but nothing much because we were having to work in the short dry spells.

We took a run up to B&Q to get some varnish for a much needed protective coat on the inside window ledges. That about sums up the best bits of the day.

Salsa at night was a hit and a miss. Jamie seemed a bit unprepared for taking a combined class composed of his 7.30 class and Will’s 8.30 class in the 7.30 slot (if that makes sense.) It was meant to happen next week, but I think it had been rushed through this week instead. Two new moves that might actually make it to next week unchanged. I helped at Shannon & Cameron’s 6.30 class. Big mistake. I hadn’t noticed Shannon in the class, only that Cameron was teaching and they were a leader down, so I filled the gap. Unfortunately, after that Shannon took over and the class went over the same three moves for the next half hour. Boooooring. I shall be more circumspect next time.

Supposed to be a better day tomorrow. Let’s hope so.

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Walking in Sunshine – 13 August 2017

There were no Perseid shooting stars to be seen last night. Even when some kind children (teenagers that is) woke me at around 3am, I staggered through to the back room observatory but still could not see any astral fireworks. I think it’s just a story put about by the media to induce insomnia in the unwary.

Today was fairly bright, then dull, then sunny, then dull. At least it wasn’t raining. Spoke to Hazy for about an hour on Skype and found out about her Amsterdam trip. Couldn’t believe it when Scamp and I were discussing Amsterdam afterwards, that it was about ten years ago we were there. How time flies.

After lunch we pottered about in the garden. Ripping out the pea plants and composting them. Planting some nasturtium seeds that I harvested last year. Just to see if they will come. Planted some seeds I harvested this year from the aquilegia. Just pottering.

Eventually I got fed up with the horticultural life and drove down to Auchinstarry for a walk in the sun. Before I went, I got the PoD which is of California Poppies in the front garden. Glorious golden colours from the Golden State. Found a host of caterpillars all squeezed on to a branch of a bush. Not sure whether they are from a moth or a butterfly. Posted the pic on Flickr. Someone there will be able to ID them. Sun was warm and the wind was light, so it was great to be out walking in such pleasant weather.

Dinner tonight was roast shoulder of pork with apple sauce from our own apples, James Grieve. Scamp made it and it was lovely. She also calculated the cooking time for the pork and it too was lovely. She had Sea Trout.

It looks as if we will be getting some rain tomorrow.

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Out for a spin – 12 August 2017

Woke up to rain, so had a lazy start to the day until the sun started to show around midday. Set off about 1 pm to go for a wee spin and to see if there was anywhere that would serve us lunch. There was.

We drove to the Oakwood garden centre near Killearn and had a decent sandwich lunch and a more than decent cafetiere of Colombian Rich coffee. I got the scenic seat looking out the picture window across the fields to the hills beyond. The view in this cafe has to be seen to be believed. After lunch we drove down through Balfron to Stirling and Waitrose where we picked up tomorrow’s dinner. Sea Trout for Scamp and Pork Shoulder for me. Lovely drive through the Stirlingshire countryside. Loads of opportunities for photos, but never took them.

Came home and visited St Mo’s which is where I saw today’s PoD of a rather grumpy looking Mr Grey. St Mo’s was full of weans, and I don’t mean primary school weans, I mean S3/4 14 and 15 year olds easily twenty or thirty of them roaming around trying to find something to brag to their mates about on the last few days of their summer holidays. What one of the Principal Teachers described as a ‘Tribe’. That is what they are like. Feral, that’s the only word for them, almost domesticated animals. Barely house trained. I’m glad I can walk away from them now.

Hoping to catch a glimpse of some shooting stars tonight when we pass close to the Perseids. We’ve been on intersecting orbits since 36AD or before. The first documented encounter was around that time according to Wikipedia. (I can’t be arsed with the current CE or BCE nonsense. If you feel insulted by that then tough, off you go and complain to someone who cares.)

Tomorrow the weather will be much the same as today and maybe even a little better.

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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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The beginning of the end – 10 August 2017

The sun was shining when we woke this morning, but then it said goodbye as the clouds rolled in and took its place.

That more or less summed up the day. Cloudy. Not cold and not wet, just dull.

Scamp went for messages and I painted over yesterday’s twee little landscape thing. Then I did what Fred had been talking about, the technique of the moment called Acrylic Pouring. He’s got a garage to paint in, I’ve got a back bedroom with a carpet on the floor. A light coloured carpet. That restricted the Jackson Pollock in me and I took a bit more care than he would have in my search for an abstract. As is usually the case, after a bit of mixing and splashing, the basis of a landscape appeared. I let fly with another burst of acrylic paint and the landscape disappeared under some cloud, then magically reappeared. At this point, Scamp returned laden with shopping and I had to stop to help her and allow my ‘creation’ dry. Then it was lunch time.

After lunch I poked, prodded and generally abused the canvas a bit more, then went out to take some photos. I love the work the volunteers have done in St Mo’s, creating a wildflower garden. The council threw some seed down a few years ago and with much publicity claimed it had created a wildflower garden. Weeds and grass do not a wildflower garden make NLC. Thankfully the volunteers took over and finished the job. Anyway, the autumn colours of the flowers today shone in the sun that was playing hide and seek among the breaking clouds and that is my PoD.

Came home after a short walk, because there were weans everywhere, also trying to make the most of the sun on their last full week of the summer holidays. Only they were noisier and not as well behaved as me.  As I was walking home from St Mo’s, and less than 50m from home, there were two deer.  A buck and a hind, grazing as if they were out on a hillside in Glencoe.  I managed a few shots, then thought better of going closer in case I spooked them and they ran off across the busy road.  Photo on Flickr.

After dinner, which was a lovely chicken breast on a green vegetable spread (with potatoes, of course) we were just watching the girls running races on the TV (some big ‘running races’ thing in London) when I absentmindedly pinged the cap off my tooth. It had only lasted about a month! I think it may be a waste of the dentist’s and my time replacing it this time.

Whisper it. It’s going to rain tomorrow. Oh no, the beginning of the end!

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Here be Dragons – 9 August 2017

Well, the weather fairies were right again. Sorry to you folks down south, but we had another beautiful day. Not quite the wall to wall sunshine of yesterday, but not far off it.

We were headed for Devilla forest again today. We’d last been there in May and enjoyed the walk, but didn’t see any of the red squirrels that are supposed to inhabit the woodland. Didn’t see any today either, but we did see loads of dragonflies around the pond at the end of the walk. Mainly Black Darters, but there were also a couple of Emeralds that seemed to fly non-stop all the time we were there. Sometimes they’d hover almost motionless while they checked out what was happening around them. Unfortunately the Oly or its lens was unable to focus on them properly, despite the fact they were static for five or six seconds at a time. Also despite the fact that I was swearing at it the whole time. I did get some satisfactory shots of the male and female Black Darters and a nice one of an Emerald Damselfly playing hide and seek behind a reed and that became PoD.

After I’d had my fill of ‘beasties’, we drove to the Walled Garden for lunch. It was busy, but not so busy that we had to queue for a table which was better than I’d expected. After lunch we drove home.

Salsa tonight was the start of a beginners class and it was a gigantic class. Enjoyed helping, but in the 7.30pm class, I couldn’t get any of the moves right. Moves I knew well too. I think my brain must have been stuck on beginners level.

Hoping for just one more day of sunshine before it all collapses at the weekend.

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Oh What a Beautiful Day – 8 August 2017

After two days of almost continuous rain, today’s blue skies and sunshine were a great relief. Scamp was going out for lunch with a friend and I was painting in the morning, but determined to get the bike out and turn the wheels a few times.

I set out for Auchinstarry to park and then cycle along the railway to Twechar and from there, take the road to Kirkintilloch, then cycle back along the canal to Auchinstarry. A nice easy run of a little more than 10 miles.

Lots of folk were out today, and not just the usual dog walkers either. What looked like a Summer School group were learning about rock climbing at Auchinstarry. Halfway along the railway path two women were having a picnic with their weans, sitting on an old iron bridge over the Garrell Burn. After that, it was just road traffic all the way to Kirkintilloch. Walked up the steep hill to reach the canal (That’s where today’s PoD came from) and then took the towpath from there to Twechar. Passed lots of cyclists on the way. Some gave a nod, some pretended I wasn’t there (Bike Snobs), some shouted a cheery ‘Hello’ or ‘Hi’ or the West of Scotland ‘Aye’ as we passed.

Changed my mind at Twechar and headed back along the railway again. The main reason is that the canal tow path gets really busy with cyclists and fishermen in the summer and the path narrows fairly frequently making crossing and overtaking difficult. I stopped to take some ‘beastie’ photos at Dumbreck Marshes and met a bloke who was extolling the joys of cycling. He realised he was preaching to the converted, but we agreed it was a great way to get some enjoyable exercise. He was on his way back from the Falkirk Wheel and was sitting having his lunch with his iPhone playing some music through a Bluetooth speaker in his rucksack. We wished each other an enjoyable run home and I was on the last leg of my run. Didn’t pass anyone else on the way back and then watched some blokes doing a bit of dangerous looking rock climbing in Auchinstarry Quarry where there is a sheer drop into very deep water. Rather them than me.

Back home, it was paella for dinner and I had volunteered for cooking duty. Turned out not to bad.

Tomorrow is to be more of the same. Hopefully they get it right again.

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Go out walking in the rain – 6 August 2017

It wasn’t the most inspiring day today. It had been, earlier on. Then we had hills from the back window, but later in the morning the hills had disappeared under a sheet of white, low lying cloud and the rain looked as if it was just about to appear. It did, and it stayed for the rest of the day.

We didn’t have any decent bread, so when I was getting the lunch sausages out of the freezer (fried lunch on a Sunday) I pulled out a 500(ish)g piece of frozen bread dough and set it to thaw out. After lunch the rain got a bit lighter, then the sun tried to come out, failed and the rain took its place again. It was about then I decided I was going out to take some photos, in the rain if necessary. So dressed in an old pair of jeans and my trusty rainy coat, I walked over to St Mo’s to feed the ducks and hopefully get some photos. The one above is my favourite. It was taken with the Nikon and a Sigma 105mm macro lens. A beautiful lens designed for taking close-ups. No zoom. It’s a Prime and with a maximum aperture of f2.8, depth of field is minimal. If none of that makes sense to you, then I’m sorry. Let’s just say this is one of my oldest and most favourite lenses.  Brilliant for beasties!

When I got back and got changed out of the sodden boots and jeans, I started to solve a puzzle that has appeared since I started using El Cap. The problem is Photos. It’s an app that is part of OSX and every time you plug in an SD card it pops up wanting to handle your photos for you. Well, actually I have my own software to do that, thank you very much, so bog off Photos. Except, it won’t, or should I say it didn’t until I fixed it today. You see, because it’s part of the operating system, it can’t be uninstalled. Actually it can, but apparently that causes more problems than it solves. I used Keyboard Maestro, a clever little piece of software that allows you to write ‘macros’ that can go behind the Mac OS and make things happen for you. What my macro does is wait until it senses that Photos has been triggered. When it has, it immediately shuts it down. It was with great satisfaction that I watched that colourful wee icon appear on the task bar, bounce a couple of times, then bog off! Isn’t technology wonderful when it works?

Went to Salsa at La Rambla. Had tapas first and it was very good indeed. Sat with Ronnie, Sharon and Peter and were entertained all through the meal. Dancing was good, but with Cameron in charge of the music, there were a few too many bachata tunes. Glad we agreed to drive instead of getting the train. About 25 minutes journey time instead of an hour and a half. Would certainly go back.

Tomorrow? More rain I think, so more walking in the rain perhaps. Today’s title is from Alex Harvey – Faith Healer.