The Pink Guitar – 11 November 2015

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe day started with a final attempt to cover the rogue canvas in glory, if not paint. I took Scamps advice and ditched the greens and greys and went ahead with bright reds and oranges. I also did most of the work with a painting knife rather than brushes. A much better, looser result. Not brilliant, but an improvement on what was there before.

Today we went to Glasgow to buy a new dishwasher. Nothing fancy, just a simple machine that will wash dishes without bells or whistles. I don’t really care, just as long as it does its job and protects me from washday red hands.

Had lunch in Pulcinella and although the service was slow, the food was good, and that’s what matters. Coffee in Cafe Nero later, then we had to pay the exorbitant parking in the Concert Hall. I only wanted to park, not buy the building.

Getting ready to batten down the hatches for the first storm of winter tomorrow. Oh what fun.

The Far East – 8 August 2015

DSC_3219- blog--220We travelled to the Far East today. To Kirkcaldy, where the good weather was allegedly to be found. It was indeed there. It’s a long time since we’ve been to Kirkcaldy. It’s gone a bit downhill since then, but so have a lot of Scottish towns. There is one place in Kirkcaldy that has remained constant, and that’s the Art Gallery. It’s changed its name to Kirkcaldy Galleries, but the paintings are still there and still worth a visit. Scamp wanted to see the Great Tapestry of Scotland which coincidentally is on display there, and I wanted to see the SJ Peploe paintings in the gallery. The tapestry takes up three rooms in the gallery and is quite interesting, but we both agreed that although it is an impressive body of work, it is quite dull with a distinct lack of colour. Now, this could be due to the poor lighting in the rooms as the display is not that well lit. Unfortunately, because the tapestry takes up so much display space, the paintings have suffered and especially the Scottish Colourists. They are now reduced to only one room in the gallery and at that, some of the best pictures remain in DSC_3224- blog--220storage. At least we know they will be restored to their former glory soon.  After the gallery, we drove to the parking place beside Morrisons and walked along the coastal path to the old castle to see the seals. As usual they were there basking on the rocks in the sun. We took the much quicker, but less scenic way home and allowed Bombay Dreams to provide dinner for us. It rained as I went to pick up the dinner.

That was summer.

I see sunshine – 7 August 2015

Yes, it’s been sunny all day. Completed a watercolour painting this morning. Not a new one really. It was one of the first ones I did in acrylic, but I always felt it would look better in watercolour. I’d done a sketch of it earlier in the week and it looked ok., Bits of the finished watercolour are good, the sky for instance, but there are other areas that look overworked to my eye. Onward and upward!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe took a walk down to the pub for lunch. Rather than the usual fish and OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAchips, I had a carvery and just a little bit too much. Scamp was jetting off on the bus to the ‘toonie’ while I walked home, then went out to annoy the deer in St Mo’s. Saw and captured Mr Grey – the heron – a couple of dragonflies a froglet (or toadlet) and finally two deer. I imagine they were quite young, because they let me get quite close and didn’t run away far when I got too close. Two little Bambies!



By the time I got home, Scamp was already ensconced in the garden, so I set Lightroom to import the pics, and build the 1:1 previews while we decided it was Pimms o’ clock. A very enjoyable hour or so sitting reading in the sun with a Strawberry Pimms. Sometimes life is good.

An unusual day – 6 August 2015

An unusual day that started like so many this summer with low cloud and dull, dull, dull. Then a change happened. It got lighter and lighter, then the sky turned an unusual colour, a sort of blue colour. Strangest of all, this great shining white ball appeared and hung in the sky and it felt warm – all afternoon! Got out for a walk along the Luggie. Not much to see. I had hoped for a sight of some dragonflies or at least damselflies at the little pond near the road bridge, but none were to be found, in fact there was no life in the pond or its environs. I did get some shots of some interesting seed pods. Hmm, interesting seed pods, eh? Well, that’s what photography is all about. It’s not all beautiful vistas with sun glinting off the waves, or mountain peaks against a dark and ominous sky. Sometimes its the little things, or in this case the contrast between the hard, sharp seed pods and the soft greens surrounding them. In other words, it’s what you make it and working with what you’ve got. Today, walking along the Luggie in the sunshine, seed pods was what I got.


This was my first shot today and it’s pretty much as it came out of the camera.  Slight adjustment to the levels and a bit of cropping, but like I say, just a plain shot.  I liked the composition in thirds and the slightly out of focus seed pods in the background.



This one was more difficult.  Cropped and levels in Lightroom, then a bit of editing in Photoshop to remove a distracting out of focus seed head that didn’t improve the composition.  Finally a bit of brush work back in Lightroom.  I liked the finished article.

Hoping for more sun tomorrow. We can always hope.

Rain, Rain, go away – 5 August 2015

Woke to more drizzle and rain this morning. Will it ever stop? After a breakfast that rivalled the epic Hilton Breakfast, we said goodbye to the Marine Hotel Troon, but I imagine we will be back again, if only for the excellent food. Drove in to Prestwick which looked every bit the run-down Scottish seaside town. The weather helped set the tone with drizzle soon turning to full blown rain. We watched some youngsters setting out in wee yachts or dinghies or some such small boat with a sail. They looked well prepared with wetsuits and buoyancy aids, but it still didn’t DSC_3193- blog--217--217look like fun. Got a few shots of a woman walking her dogs along the sand. The drizzle helped blur the background and also gave a high key look to the photo. After that we drove down to the other end of Prestwick and I saw a shot, but didn’t have the heart to take it. A family – maw, paw, grandpa and the weans – sitting DSC_3201- blog--217--217outside a beachfront cafe in the rain with ice-cream cones trying to look like they were having fun. It put me in mind of the title of yesterday’s post. It looked so sad, I couldn’t bring myself to take the shot.

Left the sad, wet, west coast behind and drove down the A 77M to Glasgow where Scamp thought it would be a good idea to break our journey at Silverburn for a coffee. I’m not the biggest fan of Silverburn. For those who don’t know, it’s a out of town retail park, but a posh looking one. Inside it’s all phone shops, sports shops and fashion outlets. No bookshop! What are they thinking of. It’s always busy, so this only goes to show that the phone buying, sport buying, fashion buying public can’t read. Its only saving grace is Wagamama, but that’s not where we were heading. We went instead to Patisserie Valerie. We’d been to one of this chain recently, but this was a different experience entirely. We were served quite quickly, but after that things ground to a halt. Bear in mind that we only wanted two coffees and two apple danish. That order took about 15mins to prepare. In that time, two customers complained about their food either not being hot enough or not being edible! A third customer was cutting up some filled croissant with a look of disgust on her face. PV in Exchange Square may be an epicurean delight, but this one is a disaster. I thought the ping was the sound of a bell to tell the server that the meals were at the pass – then I realised it was the sound of the microwave! Avoid. After that, it was just the usual drag of a drive through Glasgow. Holiday over for another wee while, and it was still raining.

Will it ever stop?

Down on the beach with our coats on – 4 August 2015

Scamp booked us a day at the seaside today, at the Marine Hotel in Troon, in fact. It’s been a wild day with gale force winds on the west coast. Not very much rain, but not much ‘summer’ around. We didn’t really manage to get to the beach today. The nearest we got was to have a swim in the hotel pool, and from our upgraded room, we can just about see the beach. Much more comfortable to swim in the pool and stay in the room looking out at the ‘glofers‘ (my word) wandering around the glofcourse (my word again) with their little bags of glof bats. Some of them seemed to be pushing prams with their glofbats in them. Is this really a game, or is it just a challenge to the elements?

Really excellent dinner in the conservatory with a great view of Ailsa Craig and Arran. Back home tomorrow,DSC_3187- blog--217--216 but we are determined to make the most of our days of luxury!

It’s all about settings – 2 August 2015

DSC_3123- blog--214A couple of days ago I was ranting about timing. Today I’d ranting about settings. The first thing I did when I got up this morning, after getting breakfast for Scamp and before getting my own, was to fry off the ox tail that was to be my dinner tonight. Once that was done and in the slow cooker, I chopped up and fried off the veg and covered the meat with it. Set DSC_3128- blog--214it to cook for 7 hours and then had my breakfast. It was a dull day, but not really raining, just dull. What’s become summer in Scotland this year. It’s not all that cold, just boringly dull. No texture in the sky and no directional light to give form to anything. Very disappointing for all the poor kids and teachers on holiday. Even worse for the parents of those kids who need to devise some form of entertainment for them. However, we shouldn’t complain. That’s what we signed up for when we chose to live (or stay living) in Scotland. We get the scenery, but not the weather.

After the meat had been cooking for about about five hours, I decided to decant it into a cast iron Le Creuset casserole pot and continue to cook it in the oven as we were going out later and the residual heat from the cast iron would keep it cooking nicely. Set the gas to 5 and went for a walk to St Mo’s with the Nikon and the Tamron lens. Got what looked like a good shot of a common blue damselfly and then a dragonfly posed on top of a knapweed flower. Just after that I startled a young deer and added that to my tally. Light was low, but I was still getting 1/250th with a decent ISO reading.

DSC_3136- blog--214Came home and switched off the oven and got ready to go out dancing. I’d deal with the photos when I got back. Came home and found that the meat was dried out and the veg frazzled. Gas mark 5 was not the right setting. Ox tail in the bin. So it was potatoes, cabbage and bacon for dinner – not a bad meal. Checked the photos and discovered why I was getting such a good shutter speed and ISO rating on such a dull day. The aperture was set wide open. Instead of my usual setting of Manual, I had the camera set to Program. Out of the 30 odd shots I managed to get about 8 ones that could be worked on and further reduced that to 4 that were worthwhile posting.

It IS all about the light, but the settings play a big part too, both in cooking or in photography.

It’s all about timing – 31 July 2015

On this last day of July, we had planned to go to Glasgow on the bus. Since the X3, the only bus that runs through our estate (you don’t call them schemes any more – that has totally the wrong connotations) takes about three days to drag its sorry wheels into town, we decided instead to get one of the other X buses, any one in fact. This meant we had to get the bus from the Town Centre also known as Castle Greyskull. This is where it gets complicated and all the timing starts. Scamp’s car needed petrol, so I opted to run her to work and get petrol on the way back. Then drive to the gym for my Gym ‘n’ Swim in my own car. Get back, hopefully have a cup of tea, then get the bus up the toonie, meet Scamp and travel in to Glasgow. For once, given our poor history of making these plans stick, it worked and we raced into town in about 20 minutes rather than the three days on the X3.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn town, we wandered around the almost deserted Merchant City Festival site, waiting for the Car Men comic opera singers. This ‘festival’ is not a patch on what was there last year. Fewer stalls and almost no attractions. Last year there were street performers mingling with the punters, this year it’s just minging. Scamp thinks it’s because last year was Commonwealth Games year in Glasgow and there was a bigger push and also more cash flung at it. She could be right. There is also the added factor of the winter weather this summer. That probably puts a lot of folk off. The Car Men were quite funny, although their set went on for a while. Scamp seemed to enjoy it which was surprising as it was comedy and she doesn’t usually do comedy.

Lunch in Charcoals Cafe was not up to their usual high standard. Chicken Bhuna lacked salt and taste. The sauce seemed to comprise entirely of liquidized carrots without peppers or onions. No wonder then that we were the only customers. Must do better. Later we had coffee and shared a cake in Patisserie Valerie and that was up to their usual high standard.

Still Raining – 28 July 2015

Another rainy day. Went to the gym and found that Windows was trying to shut down the computer at the gym. It looked remarkably like the shut down screen on Windows 95! Only 20 years out of date. Anyway, when Scamp went to the gym later in the morning, someone was trying to breathe some life into the old system and was hoping to get outside help to do so. Maybe the system will be running by the end of the year.

I felt like I was getting cabin fever today, so hitched the bike on to the carrier and drove to Auchinstarry for a wet, but warm run along the railway line past Dumbreck Marshes and on to the canal tow path. While I was there I watched some bees buzzing around the flowers. I thought it would be a good test of the high speed ‘motor drive’ on the E-PL5. I remember a few years ago I was in a group of photogs where there was a challenge among us to see who who would be the first to catch an insect on the wing. Lots of heavy duty technology was being used, but nobody got that shot. Today with a second hand Oly E-PL5 and a second hand Panasonic lens, I got the shot. I don’t suppose the wager still stands.


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.

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