DSC_8709- blog

Persona Non Grata – 10 January 2018

Finally we did as we had promised and went to the gym, although one of us was left out in the cold.

I was thinking when I was reading in bed that we are, or at least I am, getting into a rut with every day following the same sort of routine:

  • Read for a while
  • shower
  • coffee at 11
  • lunch at 12
  • afternoon go out and find PoD
  • process PoD
  • dinner
  • repeat

We really need to break this routine. We went to the gym today just after 12noon. That broke the routine. Tried to log in at the gym and got an error message, probably because I haven’t been for ages. I could still use all the machines, but couldn’t remember the weights I should be using on some of them. Of course, none of the data was recorded but that doesn’t matter because there doesn’t seem to be any way for us to access it. Today was just a place marker to say we’d started again, so neither of us did all that much. We did have a swim afterwards and that was good. On the way out I checked at the desk to see how to get my card restarted and it was as I’d expected, I hadn’t logged in at (or in fact been to) the gym since 24th June last year and my membership had lapsed. I was soon reinstated. Scamp was not so lucky. She had been absent for longer and was now persona non grata. Her gym membership was revoked and her card confiscated then she was escorted off the premises. Well, it wasn’t as bad as that, she needs a new card which she can pick up when we return, hopefully next week.

When we came home I built up the easel and got out my acrylics and began work on a new painting. Not exactly new, it’s seen some previous iterations and is all lumps and bumps which adds to its tactile quality (snigger.) That’s when I came up with today’s PoD, entitled Happy as Larry. Slapping paint on a board always makes me happy and if a painting results from it, that’s a bonus!

Salsa tonight had far too many men so I’m doorman as I write this, making sure the new beginners are welcomed in and directed to fill in the application forms. Unfortunately I don’t get to take in any money. That would have been nice. I also had to put on my big heavy winter jacket because it’s bloody freezing here!

Tomorrow? Maybe Perth or if tonight’s fog persists, Cotton House for lunch instead.

DSC_8709- blog

Chasing the Sunset – 9 January 2018

A bit of a nothing day. Not a lot to report other than the frost had all melted by about 10.30 this morning, but it was dull.

Finished off The Book of Dust. “A good read. A bit Boys Own Paper with some sweaty words”, sums it up for me.

Finally got round to posting the last calendar, JIC. Should slide through your letterbox in a day or two. Printed out another two last night and that will be the end of the calendar print for another year, unless I go the whole hog and print one for myself. Unlikely.

Driving back from Tesco I say the sky turn a golden pink colour from an already setting sun. It was just after 3pm, but that’s about the extent of the daylight at this time of the year up north. Drove round trying to find a suitable foreground for the sunset, but couldn’t find one. Eventually gave in and took a shot from behind Moodiesburn looking towards Muirhead. The resulting image that loaded into Lightroom wasn’t really what I saw, so I changed it a wee bit, and that’s what you see above as PoD.

<Technospeak>
Hazy, I had a problem with WordPress last night. The editing was restricted to text input and no Visual option was available. I got the blog written and posted, but knew this was some kind of screw-up. Slept on it and this morning investigated and found it could be caused by an update of themes and plugins. Since I’d upgraded both the theme and a few plugins yesterday morning, I suspected that was the culprit. So, this afternoon I deactivated all the plugins and tested with a new post. Yes, the input screen was normal with the text and visual tabs available again. Long story short, I found the culprit to be the upgraded Wordrpress(!) Markdown plugin. I’ve deactivated it and activated all the rest, then found another Markdown plugin that did the same job without the side effects. I hope you’re impressed, and thankful that I didn’t just automatically phone the ‘helpline’. I’m guessing you would have told me to do exactly what I found on the ‘net.
</Technospeak>

That about sums up the day. Dull and dank, but with a reasonable sunset thanks to Lightroom and Picktorial. A sort of Software Sunset.

Don’t have any plans for tomorrow. May take a trip to Perf, or may leave that until Thursday.

DSC_8709- blog

Dancin’ – 7 January 2018

It was a late start today. I hadn’t meant to sleep so long, but there are no alarms on weekends.

I spent the morning parcelling up the calendars for Dorothy and my friend Peter. I also took some time writing notes for the parcels. It was only after I’d written the address on the last envelope that I checked and found that the post office was closed on a Sunday. Oh well, they wouldn’t be uplifted until tomorrow anyway. I’ll post them tomorrow with a bit of luck.

After lunch which traditionally is a fried breakfast on a Sunday I almost managed to get Scamp to come out a walk with me, but she’d been outside and knew just how cold it was, so she decided she’d rather do some ironing than face the great outdoors. I needed a PoD and I don’t do ironing very well, so I got dressed for the arctic and drove down to Auchinstarry then walked halfway along the canal which was frozen right across and took some photos from the only seat on the path for miles. Walked back, across the plantation and from there back to the car. Not quite my 10,000 steps, but at least I was out in the fresh air. Cold fresh air to be precise. I don’t think the temperature got above zero all day.

Just had time to dump the photos in the Mac and tweak some before it was time for the big event of the day, Dancin’. Drove in to Glasgow and got parked less than 100m from Arta. Inside it was fairly busy even if it was quite early. I don’t know what they had done to the floor, but it was lethally slippy. Almost took a tumble a few times and wished I’d worn my trainers instead of my shoes with the no-grip soles. Still, it was a good night with lots of firm handshakes (only one ‘funny’ one) and lots of ’mwah’ kisses, everyone coming with a ‘Happy New Year’. That’s what I like most about the salsa community. Its friendliness.

Home to the remains of last week’s steak stew dinner reheated and none the worse for it. Also the last G ’n’ T until Friday. An extra cold one as Scamp had left the tonic in her car in today’s sub-zero temperatures. The abstemiousness starts here. Oh by the way, when I was walking back into the house after retrieving the tonic, my watch vibrated to signal that I’d completed today’s 10,000 steps. Must have been all that sliding across the dance floor!

DSC_8709- blog

Hot Stuff – 5 January 2018

It was a cold day today. Damp, dull but most of all, cold. It was that sort of cold that gets into your bones and once it’s there, it’s hard to shift it.

One way to shift it is with a warming lunch and that’s what Scamp suggested. Scrambled egg with smoked salmon on toast. Just what I needed. My suggestion for a bit of warmth, and carrying on from my NY resolutions was to spend some time in the pool – not the gym. Maybe next week, but not today. Everything in moderation, that’s the way to make it stick.

We drove to the leisure centre and although the pool was full to start with, half the folk exited when the jacuzzi became available, so we both got the chance to do a few lengths in the lovely warm water. Next was a good ten minutes in the steam room and it was HOT. I could actually feel that warmth penetrating my bones and warming from the inside. I tried the sauna too, but I feel that it dries out my skin too much and that makes me feel like I’m burning. Back it the pool for another few lengths and I was ready to face the cold again. I don’t know if it was the lunch or the swim in warm water or the steam room, but for the rest of the day I was warm.

We went out to the Red Deer (or Dead Deer as we used to call it for no reason) for dinner tonight. Y’see Hazy, I was so captivated by ND’s Lamb Duo, I just had to try it, so that’s what I had (Yes! It was as good as it looked). Scamp was less adventurous and had Fish ’n’ Chips. I also had a bottle of the worst low alcohol beer that’s ever passed my lips. Imagine a bottle of diluted treacle with some hops dunked in them and you have the makings of St Peter’s Without. I’ll certainly go without rather than drinking that brown water again.

Today’s PoD is one of my wee men almost submerged in a box of screws. It was entitled ’Screwed’ and this is the description on Flickr:

You know the feeling. You’re looking for a bolt or screw and although you’ve got a box full of them, you just can’t find the right one, and you’re screwed!

Tomorrow (whisper it) we may go to Embra for lunch at Ravi Shankar’s restaurant. Not the real name, just what Scamp called it today!

DSC_8709- blog

The highlight of the day – 4 January 2018

The highlight of today was taking the cardboard boxes and the bottles to the recycling centre. Yes, it was that sort of day.

In the morning I made that drive to the recycling centre. It would have been easier if we had been supplied with a green bin (for glass) back in October when we were promised it, but we weren’t, so we had to load the car up and drive there. Everyone else was there too, but I had a smashing time dropping bottles into the big containers and listening to the crashing sounds they made.

After that, and after deciding what we’d have for dinner, we had lunch. Then we went to Tesco. Scamp drove and we filled the car with all the stuff we needed for the next few days, mainly food. When we got back I found some stew in the freezer and set it to defrost while I grabbed a last hour of daylight in St Mo’s. That’s where I got today’s PoD which is an ultra wide-angle view of the pond and the boardwalk. It’s just an ordinary pond, but the ultra-wide makes it look like something special I think.

All the time we’d been checking on H&N’s second leg of their journey home. They were leaving the relative calm of the midlands and heading for the stormy zone around London, but we soon got the message that they were home and the cats had been collected and they too were home.

Dinner for me was stewed steak with potatoes, turnip and carrots. Substitute haggis for stewed steak and you have Scamp’s dinner. My thanks to Scamp for the clear and concise instruction on how to cook the stew without burning but with added flavour. Next time I’ll try to fly solo.

So, the highlight of the day really was smashing the bottles in the recycling bin. A close second was finding that the stew was beautifully tender and tasty. It was also good to know that H&N arrived home safely.

Tomorrow we may go to the gym or to the pool for a swim. Also, the other pair leave Tobago and the sun to face the long flight home. Glad you got a few dry, windy, sunny days after all that rain.

DSC_8709- blog

All Good Things – 3 January 2018

Today H&N were off on the road back home.

We saw them off in the morning and then we drove in the opposite direction, out to Stirling to take our minds off their departure. The rain started almost as soon as we left the house and got gradually worse.

All I wanted in Stirling was a new Sudoku calendar and I got one half price in Waterstones. It was round about then my phone chirped and I found a list of WhatsApp messages between H&N and Neil ‘D’s family. It was a brilliant idea to set that up Hazy. Set our mind at rest knowing where you were at any time and also knowing that the weather hadn’t been as bad as we had feared.

We didn’t linger long in Stirling. Went for a bite to eat and a coffee in Nero and came home via Waitrose, of course and that’s where I got the PoD. Scamp was the model. The rain had come and gone all afternoon, never completely leaving but getting quite heavy at times. Thankfully the winds were not as bad as those down south.

One look at today’s photos convinced me that colour was not an option and I simply cropped the best one and did a fairly simple levels adjustment and then converted to mono. I read a comment on Flickr last night by one of my contacts, Seaton Carew (Not his real name). He said :

”you only look at a colour picture, you read a black&white image”

I think that’s true

Tonight’s dinner was Potatoes, Cabbage and Bacon. An old favourite.

Hopefully we’ll go out again tomorrow. Hopefully it won’t rain all day. Hopefully H&N will continue their journey in better weather. You’ve always got to be hopeful. The Sudoku was hard!

DSC_8709- blog

Day Two – 2 January 2018

A day when it was raining as we woke up and it’s still raining now at just after 11pm.

Hazy texted in the morning to say they were off to Dundee to meet one her friends. That left us with the rest of the day to ourselves. We were also at a loose end as we had planned to go out somewhere, but as the weather wasn’t suitable for going for a spin, we stayed in. Scamp did a bit more tidying and I finished off the calendars. Messed around with a couple of bits of software in the hopes that I could change the front page, but eventually gave up. We had lunch.

In the afternoon, the sun shone and there was blue sky with fluffy white clouds. My hopes did rise a bit at the prospect of a decent hour or so of dry weather, but it was just a passing hole in the clouds and it was letting even more rain fall through to wet us and the already saturated ground more than it had before. I could have read another chapter in The Book of Dust, but the hero is battling through a flooded town at present, so that wouldn’t take my mind off the incessant rain. I chose instead to take today’s PoD which has as a backdrop an old preparatory sketch of mine for an oil painting. It turned out that I liked the sketch better than the resulting painting. I liked the photo, but decided to add to it with some paint daubs from Pixelmator™. I think they added something to the shot and didn’t stand out too much as adulteration.

Dinner tonight was Pasta Carbonara. It was good to get back to plain ordinary food again. While we were eating dinner Hazy phoned to invite us to dinner with them. We explained that we were actually in the middle of ours, but would join them for coffee. Actually, we had a drink (non-alcoholic for me) and then pudding and coffee later. It was in the Red Deer and the puddings were lovely, although the coffee was a bit weak for me. The puddings were Apple Pie – Scamp and Neil D and Coconut Ice Cream for Hazy while I had Melba Mallow Mess (a lovely alliterative plateful). After that we said our goodnights and headed back to our respective places. Unfortunately they leave tomorrow, but it was good to have them here for a while and we had, as Canute said, ‘Precious days’ with them.

Tomorrow we will be in the grip of Storm Eleanor makes its way across the country. H&N will be driving south through the remnants, but I don’t think we’ll be going far.

DSC_8709- blog

The first day of 2018 – 1 January 2018

How do you make yogurt ice cream without yogurt?

You go out for a walk on New Year’s Day when Tesco is closed and try to find a shop that’s open and also, one that stocks plain, natural yogurt. The first show I tried wasn’t open, no surprise. The second didn’t stock yogurt. That meant a much longer walk to the service station that I was sure was open and might, just might have yogurt. It was and it did. Success! The yogurt ice cream would be made after all.

With that task completed, I decided I’d go out and get an outside photo for the first one of the new year, because the sun was shining. I wandered around St Mo’s looking for a likely candidate before I remembered the little ladybird I’d seen away back at the beginning of December. It was still there. What’s more, it was moving. So it didn’t hibernate after all. It had chosen the east facing side of the tree which would be in the lee of the prevailing west wind. It had also chosen a spot with a bit of cover from the rain. Since I’d last seen it, it had survived 40mph winds and temperatures of -7ºc for three or four days in succession. Tough little cookies are ladybirds and that was the PoD.

Spoke to a bloke who was walking a friendly looking dog. The bloke told me it was a flat coated retriever. It certainly seemed well looked after and he said it would be even more friendly if I had some chicken, beef or liver with me. I told him it would be lucky, all I had was some stale bread for the ducks and swans. I know you’re not supposed to feed bread to ducks, but they don’t seem to have got that email yet. We said cheerio and went our different ways.

H&N arrived early just as I was beginning to clear the table. Scamp was busy and this time she had excelled herself with Salmon En Croute with roast potatoes, carrots and sugarsnap peas. Pudding was Pears in Red Wine, served with the Yogurt Ice Cream. Best she’s made, but that was only because I went the extra mile to get the yogurt!

After dinner we played Bears V Babies. A not very serious game with the most complicated rules ever. Still a good laugh and if not taken too seriously.

Resolutions for 2018
All the resolutions from 2017 plus:

  • Visit the gym or the pool at least once a week – and mean it this time!
  • Sketch at least one drawing a week. It can be in any medium, but it must be done on time.
  • Post the blog on the day it refers to unless some technical issue prevents it.
  • Get up for breakfast one day a week.

Let’s see how long they last.

Tomorrow? Don’t know. It depends on the weather and what H&N are doing.

DSC_8709- blog

Hogmanay – 31 December 2017

The last day of 2017.

I suppose I should do a review of our year, but there have been so many ups and downs and they have all been recorded in these pages along with some photos to give a bit of perspective and also some colour to the day. Some dull days have contributed very little to the overall and some have produces a surprising amount. I’ve tried to write up these notes on the actual day, but sometimes I’ve left it to the next day to do the writing. Often I’ve gone just over the midnight cut-off and had to fake the publishing day. That’s as much review as I’m going to write.

Today was windy to start with. Storm Dylan visited us overnight and was on its way out when we woke, but was still gusting around until midday. After lunch of not one, but two rolls ’n’ sausage, flat sausage, I did think about going out for a walk, but then H&N arrived and the walk had to be put on hold. Next it was time to pick up Auntie June and bring her over to meet them. I managed a few minutes then to make a PoD which I’d been considering anyway. It’s the flower from the Christmas cactus. It just missed Christmas, but I don’t mind. I’ll forgive it this time because it’s had a tough year, as have we all.

June stayed for dinner tonight which was Broccoli Soup, Chicken and Mushroom pie and Lavender Panna Cotta. Various coffees followed Decaf and Caf and also one flavoured with Amaretto for June. We sat and talked for a while after that to allow the dinner to slide down, then I took June home and H&N left soon after.

It was good to have everyone round on Hogmanay. Plenty of good humoured talk and laughing a plenty. That’s what an old fashioned Hogmanay was all about.

While Scamp and I sat and watched the Christmas Lectures, I did a wee sketch. The last one of Ink ’17. Number 52. 52 sketches in 52 weeks.

Tomorrow? Tomorrow will be a new year with new challenges and new photos to take. Maybe even more sketches to draw, definitely more sketches to draw and improve on.

DSC_8709- blog

The day that the rains came – 30 December 2017

It was with a great deal of pleasure that we noted it was raining this morning. Snow is nice for a while. Ice can be pretty too, but there comes a time when I’ve had enough of it and a return to the dull colours of winter are more relaxing than the pure white of snow or the shine of ice.

We went out for a wee run in the afternoon. Hazy was resting and Neil was off on an urban safari through darkest Glasgow. Dangerous territory for the uninitiated, but he survived it and even claimed to enjoy the experience. We, on the other hand just drove to Robroyston and searched ASDA for any food leftover by the ravening hoards. There was some, but not the exact food we were looking for, so we left empty handed. We did have a coffee and a toastie in Costa, but that was the extent of our travels.

Today’s PoD was taken tonight sitting on the sofa trying to arrange the new Weemen so that they had the Christmas tree lights behind them and out of focus. This was the best shot.

Tomorrow, it’s lunch with Hazel, Neil and Auntie June. I may try to get some photos in the morning if Storm Dylan has left anything in its wake.