Coffee and a scone – 14 August 2015

DSC_3282- blog--226I was up early(ish) this morning and managed to get a few photos of the dunnock searching the garden for food.  There was plenty of birdfood there, but the dunnock is shy and won’t feed when there are other birds around.  I looked it up on the RSPB site and it confirms my observations.

Gym and a swim later in the morning and a painting done – a very quick one.  A monochrome sketch totally done in paint with no pencil sketch.  A time limit too of 30 mins.  Like most of these ‘works’, it had it’s good points and its bad.  Also as usual, to my eye, the bad outweighed the good.  Strictly not for publication, but a useful practise piece.

Couldn’t find anywhere to go for lunch, so we had a swift sandwich, then went out later for a coffee at the ice cream shop in Muirhead.  Real old fashioned cafe.  Old fashioned coffee too.  Bought some ice cream to have with our dinner.

All in all, not a bad day.  There’s been worse.


The day that the rains came down – 27 July 2015

Sometimes after a particularly busy weekend, like this one was, we just want to relax on a Monday.  Today that relaxation was somewhat forced upon us.  From when I woke at 7.45am until now at around 10.00pm it has rained non-stop.  What’s worse, is that we have the same to look forward to tomorrow apparently and little let up on Wednesday.  On Thursday the rain will halt for a while to allow the entrance of northerly gales.  Oh what fun, and this is summer?  Personally I blame the Tories and Nicola Sturgeon.  Probably Alex Salmond is in the mix somewhere too, because there isn’t a pie he hasn’t got his finger in.  I’m hoping against hope that we’ll get an Indian Summer.  Some lovely balmy breezes in late September and early October.  We’ll probably need them to melt the snow.

The only photos I got today were these ones of sparrow scuds (young birds) waiting impatiently to be fed.

DSC_3108- blog--208DSC_3105- blog--208

That TGS key again – 24 July 2015

Started a painting, a watercolour on Fred’s watercolour paper. Wasn’t at all happy with the results, so gave it a coat of gesso and left it to dry. I’ll maybe try watercolour on the gesso next week when it’s dry. Gave up painting and started to pack away the easel in preparation for the visitors.

So, I forgot my notebook and the pencil, but I did get my TGS key back when we went to the gym. Tried to plug it in to the computer at the start of the session, but the screen showed MS Windows. Borked! Oh, oh. This doesn’t look good. Tried it in the first machine I came to and got the message “The Key is Empty”. Ok, time to go to speak to the liar assistant at reception.

Me – “When I put my key in any machine it says ‘key empty'”

Assistant – “Oh”

Me – “So what do I do?”

Assistant – “It says ‘key empty'”?

Me – “That’s what I said.”

Assistant – “Oh. Let me check with ****”

Assistant returns – “There was a note with your key that …..” It sort of fades out there.

Me – “So what do I do?”

Assistant – “It will say ‘key empty’ because you didn’t check in and you can’t check in because the computer’s not working”

Me – “How long has it been broken?”

Assistant – “Dunno. Quite a while.”

Me – “When will it be fixed?”

Assistant “Dunno.”

Do you get the impression that this is not the most interesting, intellectually stimulating, or productive of conversations? Do you also get the impression, as I did, that he doesn’t care? I left it there and went back to the gym, where Scamp had also not logged in but whose key was working properly in all the machines. It is all recorded and will be played back for the benefit of the manager of Q Hotels. The ‘Q’ is for Questionable Quality, I believe. Since the computer has a touch screen and a virtual keyboard, I was tempted to use these facilities to format the C:\ drive, but I didn’t. Not this time….

Had thought about going cycling, but the rain that had appeared put paid to that idea. Spent the rest of the afternoon completing the tidying up of the back bedroom for our visitors to be able to at least put the bed down. Then Scamp decided to pick the blackcurrants that are overburdening the bush. Managed to get about 700g of fruit which isn’t bad. The smell of the blackcurrants took me back to Kirkmuirhill and my aunt Jean’s small holding during the summer holidays. Isn’t it strange how smells transport us. Raspberries always take me to Ormiston and my Uncle Bob’s fruit garden.


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATook some time out from tidying and fruit picking to photograph OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAsome peppers that were destined for the compost bin. The colour versions didn’t look that good, so I reduced them to mono and then sepia toned one. Quite impressed with the results.

Drove in to Glasgow Airport at night to pick up JIC and Sim. Lovely night after a very changeable day.

Burds – 19 July 2015

Despite it being colder than normal last night, I was too hot and couldn’t sleep.  So about 4.00am, I got up and had myself some cereal for a very early breakfast then went back to bed.  Even at that early hour, the birds were singing.

Finally woke around 8.30am and made real breakfast (more cereal) for us both.  While I was waiting for my tea to brew, I threw out a couple of stale slices of my lovely homemadeDSC_2969- blog--200 bread, for the birds.  This immediately attracted the corvidae population.  These scavengers are really taking over this year with crows, ravens, jackdaws and the ubiquitous magpies which I detest.  This is the first year I’ve seen so many of them.  They seem to arrive in masses to roost on rooftops all around us and, of course, grab any food that’s going.  I’m thinking of making a cage DSC_2966- blog--200that will cover the bread scraps with a mesh big enough to allow the smaller birds through, but prevent these black rogues from stealing any.  One of them sidled along the fence until it was within snatching distance, or so it thought.  Thankfully, I only have to grab the door handle and they are off on a sortie around the houses before returning for another look.  Actually, I don’t mind them as much as the pigeons.  The crow family are at least wild.  The pigeons live in a pigeon loft a couple of streets away and if left to it, can hoover up a whole loaf in no time.  Big fat rats with wings.  Not the brightest lights on the tree either.  My brother used to shoot them with an air rifle and said it took two or three slugs before they noticed that they were dead!

After the pigeon and crow watch, I restarted my painting, this time with oils.  I just painted on top of the acrylic (which was on top of a watercolour!)  As far as I can remember, you can paint oil on top of acrylic, but not the other way round.  If I get up tomorrow and find that the whole thing has slid down off the easel onto a pile on the floor, I’ll know I’ve got it wrong.  Anyway, I think it looks better and it’s has a much more tactile painting with oils rather than painting with acrylic – it’s like painting with soft butter – a strange analogy, but that’s the way I see it.

Salsa in the Garage tonight and it was really good and very hot.  We surely lost a kg or two at least.  Lots of people from our class there as it is Fair Monday tomorrow and the STUC is closed.  So no salsa classes this week unless we go to help with the beginners on Wednesday.  We’ll see.

Hoping to try out the bike carrier tomorrow if the rain stays away.

Ants – 13 July 2015

I was putting some old fruit in the compost bin today. When I opened the lid I was shocked to see a load of white eggs and hundreds of ants. I fed the fruit to the composter and put the lid back on then went in DSC_2893- blog--194.jpg search of Mr Google to see if he had any thoughts on the problem of ants in the compost, and possibly a solution to get rid of the beasties. I was surprised to find site after site extolling the virtues of ants in the compost. Apparently they help with the decomposition of the vegetable matter. They also help aerate the compost and save gardeners the trouble of turning over the compost as they do that themselves. WIth that information, I returned to the composter with my Nikon and a Sigma 105mm macro lens and took the Shot of the Day, then put the lid back on. Welcome ants, friends not foes.

I got a watercolour sketch done today. Not entirely satisfied with it, but that’s the point of a sketch. I’ll try it again tomorrow. I’m not sure now if I will proceed on to a full size watercolour. I may change it to an acrylic using a technique I’ve read about in a book. If I try this technique and it works, I’ll write more about it later in the blog.

Lunch today was the pulled remainder of the meat from yesterday’s dinner. I’ll share a secret with you. It wasn’t really a dinosaur bone, it was an Aberdeen Angus Rib steak. It was delicious again today on a roll with brown sauce. I tried it with mustard too, but it wasn’t as good. Thanks JIC for introducing me to this.

An abstract day – 5 July 2015

By the time I got up this morning, our visitors had gone. Back in to Glasgow to get the 10 o’clock bus back to Skye. We had all had a good time last night comparing cruises and places and generally P7050037- blog--186.jpg discussing the folk we’d met and marvelling at how people become so used to the food and the luxury of a cruise, but still find something to criticise. As Murd said “These people are eating far better than they would at home, but they’re still not satisfied.” It’s so true. I think that’s what’s wrong with the world today. No matter what we get, we are never satisfied.

Fred and I were booked into an abstract art class in Cass Art today. Abstract is not my favourite art form, in fact I haven’t tried it since I was at college at least. We got to mess around – probably not the best P7050047- blog--186.jpg terminology – with a variety of media from thick body acrylic to very liquid acrylic ink and taking in spray paint along the way. I can’t say my final piece was in any way planned. Can you plan an abstract? I suppose you must have some idea of what the final creation will look like or feel like, but I was just splashing paint on to see what transpired. It was an interesting couple of hours and although there were only three of us in the group, our ‘creations’ were quite varied. I was the least skilled and it showed. I did manage to get paint all over my hands and a couple of blobs on my jeans. If I’d thought about it I would have realised that this was a situation that required old clothes. Anyway, we had a good time and I was really impressed with what Fred produced. He said he didn’t plan it, but I don’t believe him. He’s done this before. I’d go back to another of their classes even if it’s quite a blatant attempt on their part to sell you stuff. The enthusiasm of the tutors keeps you interested.

When I got home, the good weather of the morning had gone, washed away by the rain. We watched the F1 Grand Prix from Silverstone. In the boring bits, and there were a few of those, I watched the rain. I also watched a couple of old crows sitting on the roof opposite us, thinking, well at least I was in the dry.P7050056- blog--186-1.jpg

After dinner when the rain had stopped and the sun was setting I ventured out into the swamp that is our garden and got a few shots of the rambling rose at the back door. I liked the way the raindrops were hanging on to the rosebuds. The raindrops acted like little lenses distorting the sky and clouds. Quite impressed.

Larky, plants and some beasties – 2 July 2015

It was a noisy night, with thunder and lightning in the wee small hours. Torrential rain too. Got up early and out to the optician in Larky (honestly, I think I’m up and out earlier than I was when I was working).

DSC_2761- blog--183.jpg

After the tests were done and the new reading glasses ordered, I waited until my eyes had returned to normal after the drops the optician had put in to dilate the pupils, then drove home. I intended to go in to Glasgow on the way, but couldn’t be bothered and also my eyes weren’t really ready yet, so came directly home. Scamp decided she wanted some plants for the garden, so we took ourselves off to Dobbies near Bearsden. Laden with horticultural species, we returned an hour or two later. Scamp was eager to plant out her plants – if you get my meaning. I felt that it was a bit late to get the bike out and took thelazier option of a walk around St Mo’s.

I took the Tamron for further testing, but on the off chance that there would be dragonflies around, packed the 105mm macro lens too. Found a couple of butterflies, some damsels and a spider, but noDSC_2769- blog--183.jpg dragonflies. Packing the macro lens was a good idea, it beat the Tamron hands down, but then it is a DSC_2771- blog--183.jpg prime and a really sharp one at that. On the way home the rain started. It didn’t last long, but at least it would help to set the new plantings for Scamp.