Tuesday 30 September 2008

The wonders of Photoshop

When I was at Art College a few years ago now, I took extra lessons in how to use Photoshop. But then I went to Landscaping College and learnt how to lay paving instead and forgot it all.
Now that I’ve renewed my interest in photography and as it would be a very useful programme to use with my Web course, I’ve decided to go on a refresher course.

So off I went to Southhill Park again last night for the first in an 8 part course, which should cover all the tools and things I need to know.
The tutor, Kate Legg, was very enthusiastic and told us that we were here to play, as that’s the only way to learn with a programme like this. We started with the very basics and I couldn’t believe how much I’ve forgotten.
I can’t wait for next weeks lesson. I’ve already got a couple of projects in mind and can’t wait to know enough to be able to do something with them.
Watch this space.

Monday 29 September 2008

And now for the weather…

Haven’t we just had the most gorgeous weather this month – nearly making up for the summer, which really could have tried harder.
The above is my attempt at capturing the weather when we were in Scotland a couple of years ago. But you can see much better attempts on the BBC weather pages.
The pages are up dated once a week and they have some pretty special shots which members of the public send in.
The photos are from all round the world so you can see snow in Scotland next to a water spout in the Pacific, although they do try to theme them.
As an English girl with a landscaping partner the weather is something very close to my heart and I love to see examples of weather that I don’t get to experience; for example sunshine.
This page make me want to rush outside with my camera (when I get a new one) and take photos of clouds or snow or rain…

Sunday 28 September 2008

A Busy Week

Well this week has been a long and busy one. The new first years started on Monday and I’ve spent all week getting them settled. I also had a lady drive into the back of my car, so have been trying to sort that out too. (don’t worry its not too bad and no one was hurt)
I do find it frustrating when work takes over like that and I’m left with very little time to be creative. I’ve stories that I really want to work on and ideas for books to make, amongst other things.
I did however manage to make my first bespoke book. It’s my friend’s birthday on Tuesday and she asked for a book with lined paper!
I’ve only made blank books so far, so this was a new challenge.
Finally found some A4 pads of graph paper which were perfect. They did have holes along one edge so I cut them off, which I think made the book quite a nice shape. I covered it with blue paper with circles on, and as soon as I’ve got a camera that works I will post a photo here for all to see.

Also this week I sent off two stories for competitions, and ordered my tickets for the book festival. Something to look forward to at least.

Sunday 21 September 2008

My Camera part 2

Oh dear. As you can see from the photo above my camera really isn’t happy. I don’t think it can last much longer. Some of the other photos weren’t too bad, but most of them came out real pink.
Guess I’ll be going shopping real soon.

Saturday 20 September 2008

My Camera

My camera isn’t well.

Its making scrunchy noises when I start it up or turn it off and the lens goes in or out. And it gets really hot when I’ve been using for five minutes. And it doesn’t seem to be focusing properly either - see above (I mean thats kinda cool, but really not what i was aiming for)
All these things suggest to me that the poor thing is ill, if not on its last legs.

I really hope not as I’ve loved it these last 4 years, and we’ve been far together. We walked all round New York together, hand sized and not too heavy. We went on a balloon flight together, to Scotland and Barcelona and all sorts of walks over the English countryside.

But I’m wondering if this is the opportunity to up grade a little. Of course if I do that, I’m gonna have to find out how to use the thing properly, but that might be fun.
No decision yet, but I’ll keep you posted.

Friday 19 September 2008

The Guildford Book Festival

I’ve finally got my copy of the Guildford Book Festival brochure. Yay! I’m quite excited. The Festival is between 16th – 25th October, with lots of things happening all over Guildford. You can find out more here.

After my first quick flick through I’m thinking about going to:
‘How to Write a Novel with a Pack of Cards, a Kitchen Timer and a Piece of String’ a workshop run by Alison Joseph,
‘Plot Overview’ a work shop run by Greg Mosse,
A talk by Ray Mears called Vanishing World,
Tea with Wendy Cope and
‘How to Decide – Novel, Short Story or Poetry?’ Gerard Woodward and Tessa Hadley discuss.

Of course there’s so much else happening, Wednesday 22nd Oct seems to be a crime day, and there’s lots of things for familys and children too, that if I could just spend the couple of weeks of the festival wondering round Guildford going to talks and workshops I probably would.

Wednesday 17 September 2008


So this may look like a simple spatula for the removal of hair from legs or bikini lines but it is in fact the very best PVA glue applicator you can get.
I’d tried everything from brushes – which are wrecked as soon as you put them anywhere near a tub of PVA; to squares of cardboard that go soft after a couple of spreads.
My spatula on the other hand is made from plastic with a lovely rubbery tip which means I can use it over and over again, and get a lovely even covering of glue.
I would recommend the use of one, even if it does mean begging one off someone who uses the stuff.

Tuesday 16 September 2008

The Writers Group

The University writers group met today. Its only once a month for an hour at lunch time and I always wish it would go on longer. As this is the first meeting after the summer, no one had any homework to read out so we were set a task. First we had to pick a letter from A, B and C. I choose B. Then a letter between A and E which wasn’t the letter we had already chosen. I choose D.
Then she read out what they meant. B was ‘Two people meet on a bridge and one hands the other a package.’ D meant it had to be dealt with in a ‘Horror’ style. We then had 10 minutes to do ‘something’.
Now although I happen to think Stephen King is one of the best writers on the planet, and I’ve thought a lot about horror stories (I hate horror films with a passion) I’ve never written one. Here was my chance.

Tom stood on the bridge, and pulled his hat down against the wind. The water reflected the lights of the restaurants on the banks, but any sound was hidden by the wind as it howled down the gaps between buildings.
No one else was out tonight so when the figure started walking towards him he knew it was who he’d been waiting for.
Dread filled his heart as he saw it carrying a package. Not again. He couldn’t take it any more. When would they release her?
As he approached Tom felt the lump against his breast. He has to end this and end it tonight.
‘Have you got the money?’
‘Of course.’ Tom reached into his coat and pulled out a large padded envelope. But it did not contain money like it had in the past. No, this time he stuck his hand in and pulled the trigger of the gun.
Although it hit him square in the chest he didn’t even sway.
‘You know that won’t effect me, you idiot. Now we’ll just hurt her more.’
He turned to leave, dumping the package at Tom’s feet.
Tom just stood and watched him go. He knew what he’d find in the package and he felt sick.
Pulling a palm top computer from his pocket he hit some keys. The glow of the screen lit his frown of concentration as he looked at the information on the screen.
The gun might not kill them, but it was perfect for placing trackers on them.
Now at last he’d be able to find out where they nest and maybe, just maybe he’d finally be able to help her.

I can’t say it’s any good, but I don’t think it’s so bad; considering we only had 10 minutes and I’d had none of my normal pondering time.
Our homework is to work on it. Hum….not sure where its gonna go, or even if its gonna go at all. Now I shall ponder.

Sunday 14 September 2008


If you love handmade stuff, and I do, you need to go check out Etsy.
I adore this website. Its full of some of the most beautiful things I’ve found on the net, from jewelry to wool to furniture to badges to handbags etc etc. You can see some of the below. Ok so some of the things are a little mad, but I guarantee that you’ll be able to find something you like, maybe even love. But don’t blame me if you spend too much.
My dream is to have my very own shop some day. Now that really would be excellent.

Friday 12 September 2008


I guess that by now you know how much I like a good photo, so I was very interested when a few months ago while watching BBC Breakfast (in the gym before work) they had in a cab driver who was just about to have an exhibition. Basically he spends the day driving round London, and when he’s stuck in traffic and something catches his eye he takes a photo. Now his fellow cab drivers call him Cabarazzi!

I love London, and I think he’s captured it really well, the bright lights and the homeless, the tourists and the buildings. And now I’ve finally found his site – visit it here.
Look out for his wing mirror shots; I think they are particularly inspired.

Monday 8 September 2008

Paper Envy

Yesterday as I was going through ‘im outdoors’ latest copy of The Garden (the RSH mag) I came across an article about a lady – Maureen Richardson, who makes her own paper from the plants she grows. Not only does she make the normal sort of pulped papers out of things like yuccas or nettles but she also makes papyrus which is made from slices of the plant e.g. rings of apples.

It’s all fascinating stuff, more so as I’ve been itching to make my own paper for a couple of years now, but I never have the time. I would love to be able so say that I’d made the paper I’d covered my little books with, or even made the pages too! But I fear that’s something that will have to wait for the time being.
You can see some of Maureen’s work here.

Sunday 7 September 2008

My First A5 Book

I’ve made my very first A5 book. I used one of the wall papers which had a huge red flower on - much too big for an A6 book. And I’m really pleased with it.
Sewing the signatures together was more tricksy than with the little A6 books, but a few paperclips soon sorted that out. And the sugar paper I used for the end papers matches so well, I can’t believe they were just scraps I had.
I love it. Its as close to perfect as any of them have got so far.

Comparing the A6 and A5 books I think although the A6 books are easier to make – I can hold them in one hand without fear of the stitching being too loose, I do really like the size and feel of the finished A5 book. I look forward to making more. I wonder what an A4 book would be like?

Thursday 4 September 2008

My New Clamp

I had been making my little books using a huge dictionary and some old weights from the kitchen scales to weigh them down when drying. But unsurprisingly this didn’t give the very best results. So my dad has made me a clamp.
It’s made out of bits and bobs and works brilliantly!
I use it throughout the process for several different bits and my only regret is that it’s not bigger.
Thanks Dad!

Monday 1 September 2008

A Response

Oh my life! I’ve had a response back from one of the competitions I entered.
Don’t worry I haven’t won, but I’ve been sending stories out for about a year now and this is the first response I’ve received.
It’s not even a ‘sorry you didn’t win’, it’s a ‘you are cordially invited to the award ceremony’!! Blimey.
I’d quite like to go, although I know I’d end up a quivering wreck; all that waiting just to see if they liked a story about a man and his lawnmower. So I’m quite glad that’s it taking place in North Tyneside and so will take too long to get to from the South East of England, just for an hour ceremony.
But still, Blimey!