Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Telford College and the Swamp

Last Tuesday I went along for my  interview at Telford college. I have applied for the foundation course in Art and Design.http://triboy57.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/telford-college-foundation-course-in.html
 To start with the head of  department explained that there are three courses on offer. A first diploma, a National Diploma and the Foundation Diploma. They are all classed as Further Education, but there is no doubt that the Foundation Diploma is the most stretching of the three and it gets you onto the second year of an art degree course. You have to pass each assessable stage to go on to the next. We were being softened up to accept something less than Foundation if the staff thought that was where we were at. The interview itself lasted about twenty minutes and a lot of that time was taken up with admin details. My interviewer told me that she thought I was Foundation level and that they liked my Portfolio. Obviously, there is a lot of room for improvement... or else why bother going there? In particular, I will be getting to learn how to use sketch pads properly. That is if I get in. We will hear about that towards the end of April.

It was the last water colour class for this term with Sheena Phillips today. We were left to our own devices. I decided to do some scraping out and  paint spraying. I wanted to create a swampy effect. I think these techniques hold some promise... so I'll have a go at some more soon.

Friday, 23 March 2012


Clouds are very important in landscape painting. Particularly so in water colour paintings. During my water colour class, last Tuesday, we were asked to experiment with clouds. This meant I could be adventurous, as I hope you notice.

Thanks to everyone who has looked at my blog... I hit the 10,000+ mark this week.

Monday, 19 March 2012

South of the Border

I've been down south the last two week ends. Both times to places I used to live. A couple of weeks ago I was in Coventry. That's where I grew up and lived until 1972. Like everywhere else, it has changed a lot and that includes the stadium where Coventry City play their football.

That's it out... my guilty secret - I'm a Sky Blues fan. You don't find many of those in my part of Scotland. Anyhow, I was a fan in the glory days of Jimmy Hill, so I always look for the results, which a the moment is a pretty depressing experience. The old stadium at Highfield Road is long gone. The Ricoh arena is the new home of the team and it also has a DeVere hotel and a casino. We stayed at the hotel and during the course of the week end got a tour around the stadium, which included having a look into the managers office and the changing rooms. We even went out onto the pitch through the tunnel. It's a state of the art modern stadium which occasionally hosts concerts and will also be hosting some of the Olympic footy games. I got a good run along the Coventry canal tow path while  I was there. On Saturday we watched a thrilling 1 - 1 draw between Coventry and Birmingham.

Yesterday I was in Liverpool, taking part in the half marathon. This was a trip down memory lane alright. It started near Albert Dock and took a circular route through all the places I used to hang out in the seventies. The best bit for me was running through Sefton Park, where I used to live and run, before the days of mass participation marathons had been thought of. Really pleased to have done the run, especially in view of the recent injuries which I thought would have kept me out of it. Running conditions were ideal... sunny and cool. They said it was the biggest of the 19 half mara's to date, with 7000 people taking part. I got around in 1.43, which was fine. My stamina in the final stages was a bit suspect due the break in my training, but there you go. A nice t-shirt and medal to boot.

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Cross country running at Berwick

One of the Borders cross country races is near Berwick on Tweed, at a place called Spitall. It is an attractive course, which soon heads out onto the beach. At the far end of the route, it heads up a hill and along the coastal path into a field. The way back is along the same route in reverse. A couple of years ago, the tide was fairly high when we left. When we got back it was right up to the edge of the dunes with big waves splashing in. At a particular spot you had to time your way around the corner of a headland or else the waves got you. Not everybody got through unscathed. In fact one of our club members was engulfed by the waves. Claire came through okay and left a memorable photo of her exploits behind her.
This is my interpretation in water colour and acrylic

Monday, 12 March 2012

Good old Dad

Went to my home town of Coventry over the week end to celebrate my good old dad's life. Quite an emotional time meeting relatives, old neighbours and dad's friends. There were lots of very nice things said about my dad and although he has not lived in Coventry for about seven years, it says a lot for him that so many people wanted to pay their respects.
The day was a real celebration of a man who had lived his life well, with a good few funny stories thrown in.
So here's a tribute to my good old dad and the happy years we spent together.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012


I've been getting back into the swing of running again after my enforced lay off due to pulling something in my back. The pain in the back has become something in the past, so I decided to run in the Devilla 15 kms, track race. The idea was to take it very steadily, and restart my running season. The first half of the race was one of those nice things that sometimes happen in running. I felt really good and was simply gliding over the trail and enjoying every minute of it. I knew that my three and a half weeks without running  meant that my stamina would be lacking and I was right. After about 45 minutes the first real hill in the race appeared in front of me. I struggled up it, remembering that the hills at Berwick a few weeks before were a breeze... not any more. From there till the end of the race I was running on memory and resorting to asking the marshals how far till the end. I know that if I do that, it's red alert and danger signals. I made it to the end in 1.21 and kicked myself. Why hadn't I thought it out and started at the back and used the race as a way back into running. As it was I felt knackered and had a recurrence of the sore knee, meditation injury (that's another story.) Since that race, a week last Sunday, I have run three times and the sore knee is reacting the way it did earlier this year. The soreness recedes after a few miles. Last time the doc, told me to keep running because it wasn't cartilage  trouble and it would be best the keep the knee muscles strong. So, I've been using the ice pack and anti-inflammatory gels. This is a first for me, so lets hope it works. Fate was good to me last Sunday because the Lasswade 10 miler, was full when I tried to enter it. Instead I ran down the railway track and then along a track through a field towards Letham mains. I hadn't run there for years and really enjoyed it. I was out for 1 hour 15 and felt pretty good.
Yesterday, I went for a longish cycle on my bike with the butterfly handlebars. http://triboy57.blogspot.com/2012/01/butterfly-handle-bars.html
It was an interesting ride! The new handle bars mean that I am not so crouched over the bike and less likely to get a crick in my neck. I feel as though I am much higher on the bike. The good news is that it feels good holding onto the top of the bars going up hill. The news gears are working well. The only glitch is the odd feeling of not being completely in control going around corners at speed. This must be because the butterfly handlebars are much bigger than the previous drop handle bars and so a smaller movement of them leads to a bigger movement of the wheel than I am used to.

The BIG NEWS of this week is that I have bought a flight ticket for me and the bike from Edinburgh airport to Bergen, dated 18 May 2012. This is where I will start the North Sea Cycle Trail. My original idea was to head south from Haddington towards Harwich and onwards to Holland. The route goes north from there and eventually reaches Bergen where the ferry used to take you to Lerwick. The ferry no longer takes you to Lerwick because it has stopped running, hence the Bergen start. I have been dithering about whether to do this trail since last year, buying the ticket means I'm committed to it, so now the planning starts. I will need a tablet to take with me so that I can write about my progress as I go. I would also like to let people know where I am so that I can get some riding buddies. Advice on cheap and durable tablets would be appreciated because I know nothing about them.

Saturday, 3 March 2012


It doesn't happen very often, but today I had a rush of blood to the head and got out into the garden. I intended to start a diy job that I've been thinking of doing all winter. The idea was to build an arch between the patio in the back garden and the lawn... so that they would be more connected.
 If you look in the green house you will spot the wood I bought a while ago. It has been sitting there waiting for me. So today, I decided to make a small start by digging a few holes and putting in some uprights. First job was to dig out a pile of lilies and borrow a sledge hammer. Not for the lilies... for the spikes that the uprights go in.
I made pretty good progress, so I just carried on. I quite enjoyed being out in the fresh air, even though it was a bit cold. Before I knew it I had the side panels on and was making some serious inroads into the horizontals. Fortunately, I had the right nails and equipment to carry on with the job... so that's just what I did. A highlight of the whole episode was getting to use my new electric mitre saw. I bought it to start on some framing for my paintings, but it was great on this job. By the time the footy results were on, I was finished and here is the result.

Whatever next!