Away to meet Silvanus – 12 April 2021

It was a lovely day and we had already decided we’d go for a walk up Croy Hill.

Croy Hill is the easier of the two local hills. Bar Hill is a longer slog and nowhere near as dry underfoot as Croy Hill. Both of them were the sites of forts in Roman times. Little remains of the fort on Croy Hill, but on Bar Hill the remains are much more obvious. The initial climb was hard work, but then we’d a gentle rise up to the gate that leads on to the hill proper.

The hill was hoachin’ with walkers. Families, couples and solo walkers too, all headed up and over the hill from both east and west directions. I think one thing was attracting them. Rumour had it that there was a new occupant of the hill. He was over 6m tall and a bit of a hard man. Some called him Silvanus, the Roman’s spirit of the fields, but to me he was Heavy Heid. We were expecting to see him just outside Croy village, but there was no sign of the giant man. It wasn’t until we were walking down the other side towards Dullatur that we got our first sighting of Heavy Heid. He’s quite an impressive sight, looking out to the north and the wild tribes he was helping to protect the civilised southerners from. He was designed by Svetlana Kondakova and really looks the part of a roman centurion.

We took some photos of Heavy Heid, one of which became PoD and then headed back to the car by a lower path that turned out to be the track of an old mineral railway that carried the coal from a colliery near Auchinstarry to the steel making plants of Glasgow and the rest of the central belt. Found some Wood Sorrel plants which are related to Oxalis. Signage on the path could have been better, but luckily there were some walkers out today and they helped us by giving exact directions to get back to Auchinstarry.

Back home in time for lunch. It was an interesting walk. Strenuous climbs in places and then quiet walks through the woods beside the canal. A round trip too, which is always a good thing. I hate going for a walk and then having to come back along the same path. Much more satisfying to find a different way home.

Scamp was eager to get the front grass cut and she wanted the cutter raised on the mower. That change of height of only about 10mm made all the difference it seemed. She did the mowing, I did the strimming. It did look better when we were finished, even if I beheaded one of the daffs when I was strimming.

Tomorrow, Scamp is booked for a walk round St Mo’s with Veronica. I might finally do some painting. I’ll also need to have a look at the iMac which seemed to have a hissy fit tonight.

 

Quarterly blood letting – 27 January 2020

Some days have a wall. Something that has to be surmounted. Today it was bloodletting at midday.

Today it was time for my quarterly blood test. I felt a bit like Hancock when he hears that he has to give “a whole pint”. As the nurse counted out the four sample tubes and gaily filled them with my vital fluid, I wondered if I had any left in my body. When I got back home I found out that I did have and some of it was leaking past the plaster she’d stuck on. Not a lot, just a dribble, but you can’t go losing blood like that. I need all mine. Now I’ve just to wait until the end of the week to see if I need to meet the nurse to discuss the results or if it’s just an OK over the phone. Expecting the former, hoping for the latter.

After getting past the wall I relaxed a bit. Went out to post my old driving licence back to the DVLA, get my old dance shoes re-soled and heeled and get some more black ink to use with the adapter, or converter to use the correct term, for my collection of Lamy pens. At present the Fisk black ink is winning. It’s permanent, but doesn’t seem to have any shellac in its composition, so doesn’t clog the nib of the fountain pen. Still one more to check and that’s the W&N one I was going to get today in Hobbycraft. Almost got the full set done. Forgot to post the licence, but got the shoes booked in and I got the ink too. Bought myself an LED daylight bulb for use in a lamp in the back bedroom while I was in Hobbycraft.

While I was out I took the chance of dropping in at Drumpellier to grab a photo of some of the waterbirds on the loch. That’s where today’s PoD came from. Entitled “A Tall Tail” it’s a sculpture in the middle of the loch that makes a great perch for the gulls. I think I entertained a couple sitting having coffee in their car. They couldn’t understand what the hell I was doing, apparently taking photos of, well, nothing much. Obviously didn’t understand that that’s what photogs do most of the time with the sole purpose of puzzling the Muggles.

Back home, Gems were gone, leaving only their dirty tea cups and a few uneaten biscuits. Not long after I got there, Scamp returned from dropping them off. Sat for a while tweaking the aforementioned PoD and then we had half the dinner – soup. The other half we’d have when we returned from dance class.

I must admit, although I miss salsa on a Monday night, I don’t miss the drive in to Glasgow or back out again, especially when Rangers are playing and half of Scotland squeezes on to the M8 in front of me. We had been practising the Waltz all week and do you know, the teacher didn’t even ask us to show off our prowess at that dance. However, we have now mastered the first half of the Foxtrot routine and have a fair understanding of how the second half works. We can also Saunter Together quite adequately. Next week we add both halves of that dance together to make our first real sequence dance! The new black and white dance shoes seem to work. We only stayed for an hour tonight, but may try another hour on a Wednesday when she starts another new class in Condorrat.

Just before I started this, the snow began. It was fairly heavy for a while, but it’s just light now and although the temperature is just above freezing, I don’t think it will last until morning. That’s a pity because I could take some snowy pictures.

Tomorrow Scamp is booked for lunch with Mags and I’m determined to post that DVLA letter. Whether I manage that or not is the question!

Kelpied – 24 September 2019

Today we were all Kelpied!

Today dawned dry but a bit dreary. However, it soon brightened up and we thought we’d risk a run to the Kelpies. It all went well until we were almost at the M9 then the car seemed to be misfiring, which is strange because it had been running so well since its last service. I hadn’t bought petrol from anywhere other than my usual two petrol stations and I hadn’t run the level down until the red light came on. So that should rule out the possibility of a little bit of dirt getting in to the carburettor or the jets, whatever it is the Juke has. Made the decision to detour via the Nissan garage in Stirling, where the service manager came to see what the problem was. He gave it a fair run through the gears, fierce acceleration and gentle driving, but could not replicate the problem. There was little more the poor man could do, but he took it in to the service bay, put it on the computer and pronounced it clean. No problems listed. Finally he suggested we drive off and if the problem reared its head again, we should book it in for a full day check. Clive and I were puzzled. We couldn’t agree on a possible cause and he knows a lot more about cars than me. It ran perfectly for the rest of the day.

Got to the Kelpies and wandered round them just taking them in. Glad to see that Clive was equally entranced with these beautiful equine sculptures. We both took lots of photos of them from different angles and in different lighting conditions. Scamp was also taking photos, but I think we were the subjects. People are more important than places to her and that’s probably her greatest photographic strength. She captures people very much better than me.

From Grangemouth, we said goodbye to the Kelpies and headed round the outskirts of Falkirk to The Falkirk Wheel. The giant boat lift was one of the things that Clive had wanted to see and we arrived just as it was doing a lift, so he got to see it in action right away. I took the car away to park it and met them in the shadow of the great wheel where we discussed the mechanics of this modern wonder. We waited for another boat to be lifted and after a swift look in the visitor centre, I found the one ticket machine that was working and paid for our parking. For a visitor centre which was meant to show this wonder of engineering design, there were a host of machines with OUT OF ORDER signs on them. Almost nothing of any note was working. Poor show Falkirk. Drove home and arrived just as the rain was starting.

PoD was a view of the Kelpies reflected in the turning pool of the canal.

Tomorrow we may go to Glasgow, but it depends on the weather.

Heraklion – The Wee Train – 6 August 2019

It’s fascinating watching other people work, especially when you’re on holiday.

In the morning I watched a crane with grab loading scrap metal on to a ship. Maybe it’s a ‘man thing’, but I just found it fascinating. It wasn’t just the amount of scrap they dumped at a time, but also the delicate precision with which they could pick out a car tyre from the load that was dumped on the quayside and put it into another pile. Like I say, maybe it’s a ‘man thing’.

We walked in to to town of Heraklion, or rather, the Old Town. It didn’t seem like Rhodes, the other walled town we’d seen. This one seemed a bit more run-down.

After walking for what felt like miles we found a little train, a trolly train I think it’s called and it took us round the walls, in and out of most of the city gates, because it is a city, not a town.
It was quite dilapidated in places furthest from the sea. Lots of old crumbling buildings and football pitches with knee high grass.

We got off at the wrong stop which was supposed to be for a shopping centre. It didn’t look like one, it didn’t even look as if there had ever been one there, and had to walk for a bit in the hot sun. What we did find was an Italian cafe where we had an overpriced latte for Scamp and cafe freddo for me.

Walked round some ruined buildings with a new church in their midst and eventually found the town centre exactly where we’d got on train.
I got a tee shirt, probably the best one I’ve got so far
Scamp found an M&S! Demanded she have her photo taken outside it! She never asks for her photo to be taken outside Marks in Stirling or Glasgow. Maybe it’s a ‘woman thing’!

Cafe Jardin at night (second formal night). We both had risotto which was absolutely beautiful. This was the second menu.

Danced for a while, then off to bed after a wee G ’n’ T on the balcony watching the stars.

PoD was a steel cube on a plinth in a sort of town hall building. Couldn’t understand the significance of it, but very elegant building.

Sea day tomorrow.

A day in the toon in the sunshine – 12 July 2019

Today we’d decided to travel in to Glasgow on the bus and go to the Transport Museum on Riverside.

Got off the subway at Partick and walked along past the reconstruction that was going on by the Clyde until we came to the strange building that, from the air looks as if it’s been squeezed out of a toothpaste tube.  It looked very impressive with its glass frontage.  In the middle of July, it’s the middle of the Glasgow Beach.  Loads of weans building sand castles with pails and spaded on an area at the front of the building done up to look like a beach with tons of sand.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time, but we were itching to get in to see this wonderful new 21st century museum.

What a let down.  Yes, there were steam engines and tram cars, loads of tram cars and trolley buses too, but most of them were sealed off from the public by large perspex sheets.  This was a “Look, but don’t touch museum”.  One of the biggest selling points of the place, the revoloutionary Wall of Cars was the worst let-down.  Yes, there were a load of cars on shelves along a wall, like full size Dinky or Matchbox toys, but the problem was you couldn’t see into them.  They were too high up or too far away to see any of the detail.  The same was true for the Wall of Motorbikes.  Yes, they were there, but you could only see about two of the five layers of them. The rest were way up too high and you’d get a crick in your neck trying to see the details.  The bikes, especially seemed to be in a bit of a state.  Torn saddles and seats, suspensions not bolted to the frames.  It looked as if they’d just been placed there without any thought of restoration.  Worst of all were the cycles.  There they were, either sitting on or hanging upside down from a great circular wheel, hanging from the ceiling.  No description of what they were or why they were there.  Strangest exhibit was a Sinclair Cambridge Programmable Calculator.  I had one of those, away back in the 1980s.  At the time it was truly state of the art.  I bought it fully built and tested, but it was possible to buy it as a PCB with the components and build it yourself.  A friend of mine bought a Sinclair radio kit which was supposed to fit into a matchbox.  He got it built, but by the time he was finished it barely fitted into a suitcase.  But back to the Calculator.  Interesting though it was, what had it to do with Transport?

The building itself is striking, but there is a design theory that “Form Follow Function”.  In the case of this museum it’s more like “Function Follows Form”.  You get the feeling that they designed and built the building, then just stuffed everything they had into it.  Not impressed and wouldn’t go back.  Typical Council waste of money.

What I did get there was today’s PoD.  Probably the best, certainly the most detailed Oor Wullie I’ve seen so far.  You can get a better view on Flickr because by some miracle it managed to get into the site.  I personally think Flickr is now dead.  Today after half an hour of attempting to install the three images I’d uploaded, I got  the message that they had failed to upload.  Only to find out later that they had actually loaded successfully.  Since May, the site has been almost unusable.  Literally hundreds of complaints on the “official” help page and nothing being done about it.  I refuse to throw more money at such a failed excuse of a photo site.

Anyway, back home we got an hour in the sun in the back garden before I phoned Golden Bowl and uplifted a collection of Chicken Chop Suey & Fried Rice for Scamp and Special Chow Mein for me.  A good way to end a day in  the sun.

Tomorrow, strangely enough, we may go back to Partick again to go to a Farmers Market.

Dancing and The Wullies – 19 June 2019

The dancing was in Glasgow and the Wullies were of the “Oor” variety and were everywhere in Glasgow.

Spent the morning making a set of Wales photos to go into a gallery on this website. They aren’t quit ready yet, but hopefully they will be soon. After lunch we drove in to Blackfriars for a torturing class of ballroom and jive.

It wasn’t that the moves were difficult, or even new. It was just that we’d had Wales and walks in our heads for the last week, with no time for dancing or dancing practise. Now it was all a blur again. At least that’s what it seemed like for me. Jive didn’t jell. Waltz didn’t flow as it should and although Quickstep was better than the other two, it too wasn’t “Our finest hour” as Scamp described it. A cup of coffee afterwards helped with the pain, but a lot of practise is needed before next week.

Then, there were the “Wullies”. They were everywhere we looked. They were painted “Oor Wullies”, made of fibreglass and larger than life size. After some research when we got home, I discovered there were 59 of them dotted around Glasgow and the West. The first one we saw, and my favourite so far is Oor Charles, modelled on Charles Rennie Macintosh. I got a few more, but Oor Charles got PoD. If this paragraph made no sense to you, then:

  1. You should read the Sunday Post, just the comics page though.
  2. Wait until we get to The Broons.

Salsa tonight for me was only about the 6.30 class. The 7.30 class was oversubscribed in leaders, so I was superfluous and took myself out to be doorkeeper. That’s where I wrote most of this blog. The Intermediate class at 6.30 were doing Pachangero which is one of Scamp’s favourite moves. They are a really good class and most of them are picking up the moves really quickly. Scamp drove tonight which made life a lot easier for me. Thanks S.

Tomorrow we have no plans. Maybe go for some messages!

A curry at last! – 3 May 2019

Today we drove in to Hamilton for that long awaited curry. It was worth the wait.

Took our time breaking surface in the morning. Well, you don’t want to rush into things, so you? So after a coffee, and after Scamp had been for the ‘messages’, and after I’d started the pencil sketch for today’s challenge in EDiM, we headed off to Hamilton for a wander round what shops are left, and a curry in the Bombay Cottage. We agreed that it must have been the ‘hot chef’ who was on duty today. Pakora was hot and so were both our curries. Enjoyed it though.

Went for a walk through the town which is looking more and more dilapidated every time we visit. Cumbersheugh is an eyesore too, but there isn’t much worth saving here. There is in Hamilton and you get the feeling that nobody can be bothered. Newly renovated Town Hall, but not a lot more. I had a browse through the art shop (Ink Spot), but there wasn’t much that interested me. I got fed up listening to an opinionated little 12/13year old spouting out in a lah-de-dah voice about Manga to anyone who would or wouldn’t listen. She just reminded me of Moonunit Zappa’s voice in Valley Girls “Barf me OUT”. We left and I got a potential PoD. One of a selection of comical sculptures dotted around Hamilton. They’re about the only things that would make me smile in this town.

We drove home and I put some ink on the pencil sketch, but it didn’t look any better, so I went out to see if there were any photos wanting taken over in St Mo’s, but there weren’t. That didn’t stop me taking some more, but none of them surpassed “The Man Wi’ A Dug Oan His Heid”, so it retained its PoD position.

Finally put some watercolour on the sketch and discovered that the lovely sepia fineliner I’d been using wasn’t water resistant when it bled into the washes. Never mind, there was meant to be a lot of rust splashes on the paintwork of the tractor and the sepia fitted right in.  Topic was ‘Some Agricultural Machinery’.

That was about it for the day. Don’t know what we’re doing tomorrow or where we’ll be doing it. It’s forecast for cold winds from the Arctic and even sleet showers. We’ll wait and see.

Puerto del Rosario – 22 March 2019

A day in the Toon

Got a bus timetable from reception for a trip into the big city – Puerto del Rosario.

Found the bus stop. I’d looked everywhere for it yesterday on my walk back from the wilderness, but there it was, just outside the Atlantico Centre. We were first on and paid our exorbitant fare of €1.45 each! Not bad for a 30 minute journey!

Wandered round the Las Rotundas shopping centre in the town. A big shopping centre built in three levels. Really quite impressive range of shops. I found a cheap electronics shop which was offering SSDs (not to be confused with STDs) for really low prices. I was tempted, but I walked away. As it happened, the only things we bought were two little €0.99 fold up shopping bags.

Outside we found the famous church with the bar. The bar isn’t actually inside the church, but it is in the grounds. An excellent way to encourage more worshippers.

On the same street there were a load of statues to various dignitaries from the past, along with another one of a goat. I couldn’t work out the significance of the goat statue. Maybe a political statement.

Lunch was further down the street in an outside cafe and was a meal-deal of a Spanish omelette and salad accompanied by a small beer (half pint) for €6.50 each. Coffee was also included in the price, but we were happy to forego that, much against the better judgement of the waitress who seemed disappointed that we were leaving without getting full value for our €6.50.  However, we weren’t totally in the shade for our meal and the sun was becoming quite hot just after midday, so we felt it would be better to be walking, rather than enjoying the extra coffee.

While we were eating we were people watching. One group of men and one group of women, sensibly sitting at tables in the shade of the cafe building. Men with their beer and cigars, women with coffee and cake. Another group at the next table to us seemed to be the Canarian version of Scamp’s ‘Witches’. All the groups were well into the ‘pensioners’ bracket.

After leaving the cafe we walked down the street, finding more statues and sculptures and also a lot of murals. One especially cleverly painted with exaggerated perspective of Time Square. I’ll hopefully put it up on Flickr once I’ve got the blogs up to date. Today’s PoD was the first mural we saw and we both liked it.

On the subject of blogs, I didn’t write this on the laptop while we were away. I tried a different method this year and made notes and sketches in a sketchbook while we were away and am typing this up at home. The book will make a nice record to look back on.

At the bottom of the street we found PdR beach and esplanade. It’s beautifully laid out and much prettier than we’d expected. Certainly worth another look some time DV. We both liked the bench seating under some shade, each bench painted with a different portrait or scene. Brightened up what could have been a dull seating area.

Back at the hotel I had too much meat for dinner and suffered from protein overload. Scamp was fine.

The show was an ABBA tribute by the in-house entertainment team. We weren’t interested and went back to the room to read.

11,437 steps
5.16 miles

Tomorrow we may go for a swim.

I walked into a door – 7 August 2018

Today, a Tuesday, we were going dancing.

So far we’ve had ballroom classes on a Wednesday, a Thursday and a Friday. Today we added a Tuesday to the list. The only weekday we haven’t had has been a Monday, not yet, anyway. Today saw a definite improvement. The Waltz was better and we were introduced to the mysterious Spin 7 in Jive. Even the Tango was getting better. All of this was a miracle in itself after the black monkey I brought to the basement of Blackfriars pub.

The reason was this. When we left the house, I was ducking down to avoid a low hanging branch of the chestnut tree we park under, and simultaneously opening the car door. I whacked my nose off the corner of the door and bells started ringing in my head. I ended up with two cuts to the side of my beak. To say the red mist descended would be an understatement. The sensible thing to do would have been to go back into the house, clean the cut and maybe put some ice on my beak to halt the progress of any bruising, but when have I done anything sensible? No, I drove off with a paper hankie in one hand, dabbing away the blood when there was an opportunity. Nothing can stop the desire to go dancing. Parked in silence and that silence continued all the way down through the streets to the the basement of the pub. We arrived just in time to start the class. I firmly believe that the black monkey only leaves you when it finds some other person who deserves its attention. Some poor soul left that place with the cares of the world on their shoulders, disguised as a black monkey. Me? I was in a much better mood and Scamp breathed a sigh of relief. I don’t think she believes in black monkeys and you have to believe in them, for them to cling to you. Some call them black dogs, but for me it’s always monkeys.

Coffee after the dancing to discuss what we’d learned today and what we need to improve. We’d had a few pointers from Michael. The most enlightening for us was the importance of ‘The Frame’ and ‘The Hold’. The Hold especially made so much difference to the difficult second part of the waltz. It’s sometimes the little tweaks that make the biggest difference. The other two couples didn’t bother to use what he taught us. One couple think they know it all. The other pair have just started learning to walk upright, so it meant nothing to them.

Got today’s PoD in that storeroom of photo opportunities, The GOMA. All human life is there, and a few other species too. I got another shot too. Another sketch on a junction box at the side of Candleriggs. I’ve seen one by the same artist before only a few meters from this new one. Impressive work in what looks like wax crayon or chinagraph pencil.

Home with a sore nose. I got a few strange looks, but if asked if I was alright, I had the answer off pat.

“I walked into a door!”

Dancing, portraiture and faces – 23 May 2018

Dull day that started to smile in the afternoon.

Dancing the waltz is difficult, but we thought we had it fairly well under control until Michael showed us the next set of moves today. I’m sure in a couple of weeks they too will seem like child’s play. Now they are just the next hurdle to be waltzed over. Jive was just as difficult as jive usually is. Now we’re on spin number 4 of 7. It gets more complicated, even the men have a turn to do now. I’ve pretty much sorted out spins 1 and 2, 3 is a bit tricky and 4 is just a shambles. Instead of leading, I’m following, but that’s not new. It’s what I do most of the time. Still, it was enjoyable.

Walking back to the car in the sun provided today’s PoD which is a sandstone carving of a lion at the corner of the old fruit market in Glasgow. I also took photos of the ‘green men’ above the doors of the building. I remember drawing one of them in ink wash many years ago. Lovely bits of stone mason’s craft.

Back home I struggled with what was really a simple task of importing the photos into ON1. It’s simple now that I know how to do it. It most certainly wasn’t easy at the time, with hidden bits of menu that really should be more easily accessible.

Dinner was chicken breast wrapped in bacon and pan fried with boiled Jersey Royals and corn on the cob. Really tasty, Scamp. Also on the food front, I chopped up some strawberries and soaked them in vodka. They’ll stay in the fridge for a few days to flavour our Strawberry Vodka and hopefully be drunk outside in the garden under the sun.

Portrait class tonight was a bit of a disaster. A bit like Spin 4 is just now, except we’re more or less left to our own devices. I floundered a lot, trying to work out how to adapt the Loomis method to the head of the young boy we were drawing. It seemed, always, to make his head too fat. I think I’m missing something here. Must watch the videos again. On the way to pick up Fred for the class, I had to do some Genghis Pathfinder stuff to avoid the closed off road at St Mo’s School where a lorry had shed its load of wood. Not the simplest of diversions and it occurred, of course, when the factories along the road were coming out, so everywhere was chok-a-block. Managed it though.

Tomorrow we’re out early(ish). Hopefully before 11am, but I’ll have to go out even earlier to get some (very expensive £1.26 /litre) petrol.