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.

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.

Many Hands – 27 December 2017

Today is Wednesday and on Wednesdays you get a 10% discount in B&Q if you’ve got a diamond card. Guess where we went today.

Another cold start to the day so we stayed in bed, in the warm and I eked out the first Book of Dust by allowing myself two chapters only before I got up and got dressed to face the day.

We drove to Stirling B&Q after finding the car under half a ton of snow. Actually, the snow was a blessing because it insulated the car from the frost that attacked the areas where the snow had melted. It didn’t take long to defrost and the screen blower is great for melting the ice on the windscreen. The thermometer in the car read -3º when we left the house, but by the time we got on to the motorway, less than 10 minutes later it had risen by 3º. That’s the effect of the ‘Cumbernauld Cloud’ as Scamp calls it. It’s a known fact that there are places where there are sharp differences in weather. My mum always talked about that happening halfway between Larkhall and Hamilton and the head of the geography department at school confirmed it. I wish I could remember what he called it. Anyway, when you enter Cumbernauld the weather always changes, and never for the better.

We browsed the lamps in Stirling but we had to crane our necks as they were all sitting on a shelf at least 2m above the floor. What a stupid place to put a floor lamp. Luckily we’d seen all the models in Bishopbriggs and we were pretty sure we knew what we wanted (AKA Scamp knew what she wanted). It was soon bought and paid for along with a packet of halogen lamps. Assembly, when we got home was a dawdle until it came to adjusting the final angle of the three decorative lamps that were attached to the pillar with Allen head screws. We’d remarked on how tiny the Allen key was when we were unpacking the bits and put it carefully to one side. Now it had moved, possibly of its own volition, because neither of us could remember moving it. I tried my set of Torx keys, but the smallest one was just one size too big. Where could that wee key be? We even lifted the new couches and looked underneath, but it wasn’t there. I wasn’t down the side of the cushions either (so strange to find no crisps or broken biscuits down there!) Finally, I lifted the instructions and there on the back was stuck the Allen key. After we used it to tighten the three screws, we carefully stuck it back on the instruction sheet so we’d remember where it is in the unlikely event of us having to adjust the lamps again. We’re still not sure if the light is too bright, but we’ll give it a week or so to settle in and then decide. As for now, we’ve got three floor lamps in the living room, each one different!

Walked round St Mo’s afterwards and tried another Weemen (or WeeWomen in this case) picture. This time it’s the ice skater and again, it became the PoD. This one was taken on a tiny wee pond far away from prying eyes, so no chance of looking a proper Charlie lying on the ground in the snow. “Honest officer I was just taking a photo of this little Lego™ lady skater.” The pic needed some adjustments outside Lightroom and I managed this in Pixelmator which is now very like Photoshop. Totally recommended for Macs everywhere.

Watched the ‘Big Hero 6’ movie tonight and it was was hilarious. Who says it’s a kids film? It was just good entertainment.

No plans for tomorrow.

Big Dogs – 26 December 2017

Today was Boxing Day, but there were no more boxes to open, so, as it had snowed during the night and it looked ‘Deepan, Krispan, Evin’, I got dressed and took the big dog for a walk.

We walked through the snow and found that the pond was covered in mist as the sun hadn’t risen to warm it up. I just missed catching Mr Grey who was fishing next to the path, behind a bush. He flew off squawking at a couple of swans that were in his way. I walked into the trees and saw the sun rising above the tops of the pines. It’s not often I’m up before the sun, these days!

Walked down through the pine trees and didn’t see a living soul. Got a few shots of the little man-made pond near the road and then followed a fresh fox’s trail through the woodland until it crossed the burn. It wasn’t my great tracking skills that let me to believe it was a fox, it was the smell that was quite strong on the snow.

I walked through the deciduous woods and by carefully choosing a point of view, got a shot of the second burn with some clean reflections and avoided both the street lights and the motorway signs. The mist helped, but it did need some ‘spotting’ in Lightroom later. It was on the way back with my ‘big dog’ that I was joined by another couple of real big dogs. I just caught a glimpse of something behind a bush and assumed it was a deer, then it formed itself into a big, and I mean Big Dogs. Two fairly heavy built Alsatian types. I’m not good on dog ID, but the other thing I was pleased to see was that they both had expensive looking harnesses on and looked well fed and looked after. I tried to ignore them and walked on when I heard one behind me. Never let a dog get behind you, someone once told me. As I turned round the second one bolted away from me towards some silent signal, presumably from the owner. My own shadow gave a high pitched yelp as if to say “Wait for me!” and ran to follow the first dog. I breathed a sigh of relief. Luckily I was wearing my brown corduroy trousers, so there would be no outward sign of my panic as I walked on.

Got home without meeting any more Big Dogs although I did manage to get a low down PoD shot of a new Weeman that Scamp bought me as a Chrissy Prezzy. I’d have looked a proper Charlie if anyone had seen me crouching on my knees, photographing a Lego Minifig™.

Lunch was a light wrap with cooked meat and salad veg, plus some Jalapeños. Afterwards we discussed tonight’s dinner and it resolved itself into Minestrone soup. Not difficult to make, but lots of chopping up of veg as preparation. We didn’t have any cabbage, so as Scamp wanted to go and stretch her legs, we walked down to the M&S shop at the petrol station. We didn’t really need anything apart from cabbage which they didn’t have, but I got some more cold ham and Scamp bought some Satsumas. It was more for the walk than for anything else. Stuck in the house all day yesterday makes you yearn for the outdoors.

When we got back, Madeleine started a video conversation using WhatsApp. We’d never used it before, and it was really good. Much better than Skype. Skype used to be good, but since it’s been taken over by The Dark Side, it wants to run things its way. Interrupting a call to install an update. That’s just typical Microsoft. Anyway, the Whats App call worked well and Scamp got to see Ori the wonder dog as well as everyone else in the Trini house.

I got a sketch done and pre-dated it to the 24th. A lie, but a little white lie, well, a black and white lie actually. Not drawn, but painted with black Indian ink. I quite like it, but I’m not letting you see the usual big image, so don’t bother to click on it. It looks better small, I think, and it’s my blog!  The title from the lyrics of ‘The Curious Crystals of Unusual Purity’ by Bridget St John.

Today we made the move to go out. Tomorrow we may go even further! Provided the weather is kind to us.

Many Hands – 2 December 2017

Well, we could have gone to Embra today if we could have been bothered to get up and go, but we didn’t. Just as well, as Hazy said she wanted to Skype which is her prerogative, it being her birthday and we both sang the compulsory “Happy Birthday” to her which made her laugh, as it always does.  Hope you had a lovely day Hazy.

Afterwards, we drove to Kilsyth to go to Lidl for sweeties and things for Scamp’s Gems party and for her Witches party. I bumped into Mrs Gough who used to teach at Cumby High. Hard to believe that she left 15 years ago! Made me feel like a youngster. Next on the list was Home Bargains to pick up a toy each for the collection at the Salsa Ball tomorrow night, along with more sweeties and things for …

I suggested we go to B&Q in Bishopbriggs to look at floor lamps, because I’d seen some there during the week that looked fairly reasonable. Scamp crossed the road in the carpark and I, close behind nearly got flattened by a crazy old woman driving at breakneck speed in light grey car. She was obviously on a mission. If I’d got her number she would not only have been on a mission, she’d have been on a charge too. Geriatrics should stick to mobility scooters and zimmers, not real cars. At least, not until they pass the test.  None of the lights were deemed suitable, so we came home, once my heart rate had returned to normal.

Couldn’t be bothered going out to take photos when we got home because the light was already fading. What we did do later was order dinner from Bombay Dreams and it was the usual great quality and enormous portions, so it will be waiting for us for lunch tomorrow.

Many hands make light work, or so the Weemen discovered in today’s PoD. Unfortunately our light didn’t work, because we didn’t get one at B&Q. Maybe there is a lamp somewhere that will suit Scamp, but I don’t hold out much hope of finding it any time soon.

Cabin Fever – 22 November 2017

It was so dull today I had no incentive to get past the door until about 5.30pm

Just dull and dreary. Rain too, all day. The highlight tonight was going to salsa. Dancing with the beginners gave us both a bit of a lift. Tomorrow, although it will be busy, will be better, MUST be better.

Couldn’t think of a suitable shot. Tried a few, but eventually settled on a ‘Weeman’ picture. One of my favourites is the Ninjar. Yes, I know he’s really a a Ninja, but he’s a Scottish ninja, which makes him a ninja ned or to use Nedspeak, a Ninjar. He’s currently on patrol down in Oz protecting ‘Oor Kez’ from marauding beasties and mad Labourites. She’ll be alright. She’s got the Ninjar on her side, watching her back.

Cooking all day tomorrow for Isobel.

Halloween – 31 October 2017

What a dull, dank, dreary day.

It was almost 3pm before I risked leaving the house today. Up until the, it had been damp and dismal (I think that’s me got the ‘d’ alliteration out of my system). Even when I went out, I had to have the lights on in the car. This is such depressing weather, I can imagine how folk get Seasonally Affected Disorder well named by its acronym SAD. I’m glad my painting room has a daylight bulb in it and that the bathroom has daylight LED lights. Brightens up your day more than the weak yellowish sunlight does.

Only went out to get ‘messages’ for dinner. Do you know, I had to unlock the front door because I was the first one to cross the threshold! I wasn’t out long, but when I came back the headlights came on automatically on the car, because it was indeed growing dark.

I had already planned today’s PoD and it worked out quite well, ‘Bride of Frankenstein’. The ability to use the iPhone as a trigger for the camera is a great idea. Very useful for indoor shots.

Today’s sketch is the last in Inktober 2017 for obvious reasons. I can’t believe the number of folk who are asking on the Facebook ‘Inktober’ page if they can keep posting there. Eh, the clue is in the name. If you want to post your artwork, and some of it is so amazingly detailed, I think it must be drawn in advance, or nicked from the ‘net, then feel free to create your own page for NovINKber or some such. Me, I’m closing down my Flickr Inktober 2017 group on Friday. That gives the slow-coaches a couple of days to catch up. Today’s sketch is on toned Ingres paper and is of the workhorse of my sketching, the Micron 0.3mm pen and a bottle of white ink which I’ve re-discovered for adding highlights to the toned paper work. If I particularly feel like doing a sketch tomorrow, I’ll do one, but there is no pressure now to keep up with the one-a-day. It was fun last year and it was fun doing ’28 Days Later’ in February, but this year Inktober was a bit of a drag. Feeling burnt out now and looking forward to a rest (and a few early nights too!)

Tomorrow we are expecting more rain, so we may go to the gym.

Recovery – 23 September 2017

Yesterday, while not being a busy day, was a long one. Didn’t get to bed until the early hours of this morning. Today was to be a day of recovery.

About midday we were ready to go out and we went as far as Stirling. Bumped into Andy, Kat and the kids. Stood and talked for a while before I wandered off to see if there were any books worthy of consideration in Waterstones (there weren’t), while Scamp watched three blokes performing an improvisation from the new show ‘Coal’. I wasn’t impressed, she was. One bloke walking along behind me wasn’t impressed either, explaining to his son that the music was alright, but “those guys looked like they had never lifted a shovel in their lives.” I think that summed up my views too.

Coffee in Stirling and home via Waitrose to get some supplies. After that I spent an annoyingly long time trying to brighten a video I’d shot with the Teaser last night. Unfortunately, Lightroom doesn’t work on videos, so I downloaded the ‘free’ Lightworks which is idiosyncratic to say the least. By that I mean I eventually worked out how to do a levels adjustment with the software and got one film looking reasonable. However, when I performed the exact same steps on the second one (same format, both MP4) the levels adjustments weren’t available. In the end I gave up and posted the first one, thankfully the one I liked the best. Painfully difficult software.

Dinner tonight was from Bombay Dreams, ordered through the website.  I have never understood how that thing works.  As you go through the menus adding stuff to your list it ‘counts up’ the total cost, except it’s totally wrong.  Somebody somewhere needs to learn how to add and subtract.  The strangest thing is when you go to  the next page to actually pay, the cost is correct.  Weird!  The food, of course was excellent, as usual.

Today’s PoD was taken using an Aloe Vera plant as a ‘jungle’ prop in the downstairs toilet! An attempt at toilet humour? Possibly.

That’s basically how our day turned out. Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow, but it will probably involve dancing at some point.

Almost Perfect – 3 September 2017

It was sunny when we woke.

It seemed a shame to waste the (unexpected) good weather, so we drove down to Auchinstarry and walked along the railway, across the plantation and back along the canal. About half my usual canal – railway walk, but it was curtailed when the slight drizzle, less than a drizzle, more just spitting rain, became proper rain. Luckily the walk back was under trees for about three quarters of the way, so we were sheltered. Scamp being a rock-cake had decided against wearing a raincoat. I had my blue rainy coat with me like always. Its actually been welded to me since I bought it. I even took it with me on holiday. Temperatures of 35º but you never know when you’ll need a good Goretex™ rainy coat! Anyway, but the time we got out of the tree cover the rain had reduced again to spits and spots. By the time we got home the rain had gone off again. Managed to pick a few big fat brambles on the walk. Nowhere near as many as yesterday.

After lunch I went in search of photos. Just got in the car and the rain came back on. Drove round the now circuitous route to get to Coatbridge from Cumbersheugh. I was going to Parks garage to look at a Renault Clio. It was no good. Almost as low as the Megane. The salesman asked if I’d tried the Captur. I hadn’t, but it looked big and bulky in the showroom. However, he had one in the parking lot. Pre-registered with 0 miles on the clock. It looked a lot smaller when it was outside, but the seating was the right height. I almost said I’d take it there and then. Then I asked if it had a parking camera or just sensors. It didn’t have either. I’d have to go up to the next level of car to get parking sensors. Yes, I know I could get them fitted for around £200, but that’s not a factory fit and maybe wouldn’t be as reliable. We had both liked the parking camera on the Juke. So near, but maybe so far.

Today’s PoD is maybe the start of a series. I have a few ideas for the motorbike that featured in the first ‘Weeman’ photo back in 2009!

This is Loch Àiteigin  It doesn’t really exist.  I think Àiteigin is Gaelic for ‘Somewhere’.  It’s just a placemarker to make sure I’ve got an ink drawing/painting done after missing last week!

A lazy day with some brambles – 2 September 2017

We’d intended going to Ayr to see the ‘airies’, (Flying display to you) today. However, although I’d have liked to have seen the scary Typhoon, I decided that we would both be standing around for some time and that’s sore on the back. Also as the last minute cancellations mounted, I didn’t want to get there and find it was all a waste of time. As it happened, it looked a reasonable display although the Red Arrows flypast was cancelled just before it was due to start and the pilot of the Typhoon had to cut short the demo because of fuel problems. Makes you wonder why all these things happen a week or less before the event. Makes you wonder if the organizers knew about the cancellations, but just didn’t inform the public, the paying public, that is.

Anyway, it was a lovely sunny day with hardly a breeze, so we drove over to the Kirky road and picked just over a kilo of brambles between us. I wanted to get them before the rain came tomorrow (Sunday). That said, the latest forecast is for rain during the night and warm but cloudy tomorrow.  Later we did a bit more tidying in the garden, eventually getting round to planting the rhubarb in one of the big plastic pots I got ages ago.  It was half filled with rainwater and was providing a neat little swimming pool for various insects and flies.  Unfortunately I had to interrupt their swimming lessons to put it to a more mundane task of becoming the home to the rhubarb plant.  I’m sure it will be happy in it because the roots had become an almost solid ball.

I made dinner tonight and it was Sea Bass en Papillote with Thai Flavours. Basically a paper parcel of sea bass marinated in lemongrass, garlic, chilli and lime juice. Served with new potatoes. I clean forgot to get veg to go with it, but the main component, the sea bass was great, but the potatoes were the winner. I’d intended making Thai Green Curry, but that’s been postponed until tomorrow. Paste is almost made and is resting in the fridge. That’s the hardest part done.

Almost completely forgot about a photo today, but I’d had this idea in my head for a while so it didn’t take long to put together, thankfully, because it was about 10pm when I shot it.

Tomorrow, as I said is to be cloudy and warm. Don’t know what we’re up to.