Saturday 15 January 2022

Calm and peaceful paddle to Inchcailloch…

WE’RE not long finished breakfast when Catriona, Will and the kids rock up.

After a coffee and a blether they all go off to feed the ducks and I do a wee bit of work, get lunch ready and blow up the paddleboard.

We chat some more then they head off and I go for a quick paddle across to Inchcailloch. The loch’s the calmest I’ve seen it.

The rest fo the afternoon is fairly chilled. I prepare the ingredients for tonight’s jambalaya and get some of it prepared before we wander along to Betty and Joe’s for a wee aperitif with our neighbour Liz. It;s nearly 10pm when we get home and we’re glad I made a start on the jambalaya earlier!

Friday 14 January 2022

I HAVE an online feldenkrais workshop courtesy of the Musicians’ Union (MU) before breakfast. I’m still not convinced it’s beneficial, but gonna give it another few sessions before I pass judgement.

There’s budgets to be finalised and a project plan checked over for my 2022 album plans.

I’m in the thick of it when a someone comes to collect a Loch Lomond leather keyring they ordered via my West Highland Way Gifts website. She’s delighted with it 🙂

After making arancini for lunch I carry on with my budgets and juggle figures about before finally finishing and getting out for a walk.

It’s pizza night and having delivered Margaret’s I make mine whoch shapes up to be the best I’ve made to date! But disaster strikes as I take it into the house…I slip on the decking and said pizza lands upside down. Well, I eat it anyway and it’s possibly the healthiest pizza ever as there’s no topping left other than a smear of passata. Amazingly it’s stil pretty good!

Thursday 13 January 2022

I find an early protoype (left) of my Loch Lomond keyring…interesting to see how the ‘retail’ version evolved…

MY guitar student is just leaving when Betty rolls up for a coffee. Margaret’s only just up!

There a leather keyring needing re-made for a customer coming to collect. The last two I made had flaws in the leather. The new one is fine, tho’ – and I notice how much better they are since my original prototype designs, one of which I find in a drawer.

I have an important MU (Musicians’ Union) Zoom meeting at midday for the first in a series of regional meetings for the upcoming general secretary elections. I nominated my pal and former colleague Morris who is now the orchestras official….and he comes out top in the Scotland/Northern Ireland vote 🙂

The meeting runs longer than I expect and it’s a bit of a rush to switch over to a Zoom guitar student session. He room app is playing up, though, so we end using WhatsApp which works fine.

Next, I go for a walk, deliver the West Highland Way Gifts stock to the village shop and take Betty’s paper along to her.

Back home I set up a video pre-production meeting on Zoom for next week and line up some guitar sessions.

Tuesday 11 January 2022

First bike ride in ages…a quick peddle to Rowardennan 🙂

I SPEND the morning on finishing a big batch of fridge magnets for the village shop.

When I take them outside to spray them with a polyurethane finish, the spray runs out less than halfway through. Just as well I spotted the can was nearly empty and ordered some more yesterday!

There’s a ball of leftover pizza dough in the fridge so it’s pizza for lunch. Just a spoonful of passata, some grated mozzarella out the freezer and thinly sliced runaway mushroom I found lurking in the fridge. It’s great!

With a dry afternoon forecast I decide on a bike ride – the first in ages. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t mind getting wet, but I really don’t have time to clean and lube the bike when I get back. Needless to say I’m only a few minutes into the ride when it starts to rain. Ah well!

I go to Rowardennan and back…the bike’s not too manky, so i get away with drying it off and lubing the chain.

The spray varnish has been delivered so I get the fridge magnets finished while the trekking flasks and bar blades are ‘processing’.

I’m making risotto for dinner and suggest to Margaret we make extra and take it along to and have dinner with Betty and Joe. We do…and have a lovely evening.

When we get back Margaret heads to bed – I stay up as the Chippewa Valley Blues Society has an online meeting (Zoom) at midnight our time…I’m an honorary member and want to take the opportunity to take part 🙂

Monday 10 January 2022

Some banjo in my Wildcats’ livestream…and a heads up on some stuff I’ve been working on…

I TRY and break the back of the routine work before my first Zoom guitar student of the day. I also get the first of a number of batches of fridge magnets underway to stock the village shop.

After the guitar session I get back onto the West Highland Way Gifts’ stuff then take a break for lunch.

Keen to get out on the bike but no time today and it’s really crap weather, so I do some work in the studio and prepare for this evening’s livestream into my Wildcats’ Facebook group.

In between times I bring another Zoom guitar student on board and set up her first lesson for Wednesday,

My final Zoom guitar session is 7pm which is kinda close o my 8pm livestream go-live but I usually mange to get things going smoothly on time!

Sunday 9 January 2022

I finally get things to a stage where I can do a rough mix…

AFTER breakfast Margaret gets back on the accounts with Mikey and I head to the studio.

TIme’s getting tight on this version of Wanted (Dead or Alive)…the deadline is 10am tomorrow (Monday) albeit LA time. I’ve a busy day tomorrow, tho’, so I really need to try and nail it today.

While I’ve got an arrangement starting to come together, I’m struggling to replace the guitar and vocal as they are on the guide track I recorded.

Catriona and the kids arrive so I take a break for a wee while and go back to the studio when everyone else goes a walk to feed the ducks.

I take another wee break when they get back, say cheerio…and get back to work.

Having been going round in circles unsuccessfully trying to replicate the guide track with separate guitar and vocal takes I decide an alternative approach. I’ll try and I’ll it off as a live track.

The approach pays off…and although it won’t be very flexible for mixing or future applications I end up with a track I quite like. I’m not convinced it really meets the brief, but at least I have something to send off. Would be crazy not to do something having been given the opportunity!

Back in the house Margaret’s making dinner. I let her hear the track and she really likes it…she’s pretty straight up, so if was shite she would say!

We have dinner and watch a livestream from our pal Bill…then bed.

Saturday 8 January 2022

Nice to catch up with some local pals on the community walk…. 🙂

AFTER breakfast I walk along to the next village – there’s a community walk event and everyone’s meeting at the village hall.

When I get there we hang out for a few minutes while some more folks arrive then we head off on a great wander into what, for most of us, is new territory. It’s good to get out and catch up with everyone.

I’m back home in time for lunch then Mikey rolls up – he’s down for the night so Margaret can go through his accounts and (hopefully) submit his tax return.

In the studio I get back on my arrangement of Wanted (Dead or Alive)…it’s slow progress and I’m hoping I can get something together before I have to try and record it.

I spend the afternooon and early part of the evening going round in circles and don;t really feel I’m getting anywhere. Gotta persevere tho’ – back on it tomorrow (Sunday).

Back in the house I make a big pot of jambalaya while Margaret and Mikey go through his mountains fo receipts and bank statements…

Friday 7 January 2022

A quick walk up Craigie Fort with a snow-covered Ben Lomond in the distance over my shoulder

MARGARET wakes me up to tell me I have a Zoom session in the diary that starts in a minute or two.

Jeez – not only have I slept in, but I totally forgot about the Feldenkais session I’m taking part in courtesy of the MU (Musicians’ Union). I throw my clothes on and get online. The one-hour session is interesting but I guess I might need a few more sessions to get my head round it. This is the first in a series of a dozen or so weekly sessions.

After a late breakfast I get soem routine stuff out the way then hit te studio – I got a request last night to pull together an acoustic, Tom Waits-style version of Bon Jovi’s Wanted (Dead or Alive)…this follows the Scottish sea-shanty version of the same song I recorded for The Deadliest Catch last year. They need the finished audio Monday morning. We’ll see if I can get something together and bee in te running.

It’s not easy as (a) I don’t really know the song and (b) I can’t get my sea shanty version out my head.

I take a break and go for a quick walk, dropping into the village shop to see if they need any West Highland Way Gifts’ stock replenished. They do. I also drop Betty’s paper off and go for a wander in the last of the light.

Back in the studio I get engrossed in my assignment until Margaret pulls up outside int he car – we need to take the old broken down sofa to the dump. Our ‘appointment’ (yup, we need to book a slot at the dump in Balfron!) is 7.50pm.

Thursday 6 January 2022

NO matter how much I prepare, I always seem to have a mad scrabble getting ready for my Thursday morning guitar student!

She arrives bang on time and the lesson goes well then I hit the studio and set up for a Zoom session with a new student. When I start the meeting there’s no sign of her…I call and she’s been waylaid, so we re-schedule for early afternoon.

Meantime I go back to the office and sand down the epoxy on the engraved chopping boards. They turned out good, but some of the lettering is gonna need topped up…it’s kinda like the epoxy shrinks as it cures!

Back in the studio and my newbie Zoom student does well then it’s back to my 2022 album production/release plan to prepare for a phone session with some industry folks to shape the way forward.

I spend a little time on the online guitar lessons website then suddenly it’s time to go back to the house and make dinner. Stir fried beef and asparagus 🙂

Wednesday 5 January 2022

Nice afternoon on the loch – albeit a bit windier than I’ve experienced before…

AFTER breakfast I blow up the paddle board so it’s ready for this afternoon’s adventure.

First main task of the day is to try and sort some of server-side email problems. it takes a while and a bit of re-jiggling, but I manage to get it all sorted eventually.

In between times I do a wee ‘stock check’ to see what we have and make a shopping list for Margaret.

Wondering what to have for lunch I spot a cauliflower left over form Christmas and decide to make bang bang cauliflower in the air fryer…and it turns out great. I’m not long finished and just got into my wetsuit when Fiona arrives. We blow up her board and head for the bay.

I have a few ‘hacks’ in place to make things better…first up, I found an old guitar case strap that clips onto the d-rings on my board and acts as a shoulder strap which makes it easier to carry. Also, after researching my foot pain I try some thin socks under my wetsuit feet and instead of walking to the bay in the wetsuit feet which I find really uncomfortable, I wear a pair of crocs which I can store ‘on board’ under the bungees.

Another thing I found out is that wetsuit boots should be under the wetsuit, not over…that – along with the socks – makes a big difference 🙂

It’s a lot windier than we expected though and although it’s good experience, get back to the bay and fighting the wind is hard work and slow progress…plus I have my first spill since learning to stand up on the board.

Back home we have a coffee and Fiona heads off. I clean and dry my board, have a shower then make the Italian sausage sugo for the pasta were taking along to Betty and Joe tonight.

While it’s bubbling away I make some poolish for a batch of pizza dough,

I get back to the studio and work on rebuilding my online and in (in-person) guitar lessons website until Margaret gets back with the shopping.

We put it all away, cook the pasta and mix in the sugo and take the lot along to Betty and Joe’s where we have a lovely evening. And my pasta goes down a storm 🙂


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