Month: March 2015

Read 2015 – The House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz


This novel is all about Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson but not written by the original author, Arthur Conan Doyle but reimagined by a different writer. I wasn’t particularly keen on the original book and my sister, who lent me both, said that the modern version was better than the original so I picked it up.

It was better, to me too, than the original. I feel blasphemous saying such a thing but I found the pace of the first Holmes book (and the very strange diversion into a backstory for part of the novel) tricky to get through. I found the newer one slow too but I did enjoy it and I thought that Horowitz did a great job taking on the role of Holmes’ chronicler Dr Watson.

The only negative for me was the final revelation when they discover what the House of Silk is. But by that time I was too invested in the book so I just ploughed on to the end.

Photo a Day – week two


Tea and coffee and cake. Mmmmm……


They let pooches into the Painswick Rococo Gardens! This was in one of the many little buildings throughout the garden.


The National Memorial Arboretum. (Something else I can cross off the list!)


The early morning sun is a magnet to me.


Popped to the shops at lunchtime and wanted to document the pineapple, yogurts, wearing a skirt! And that I have a pair of socks in my handbag?!


This is what happens while I’m at work eh?


Another sunny morning. Me thinks those pots need a good scrub.


Week two done.

Make something ugly


I read and listen to a lot about creativity. Blogs, magazines, t.v shows, podcasts. Making things weaves its way in and out of my day in one form or another.

One of the podcasts I’ve been listening to lately is Elise gets Crafty over here. There was one particular episode recently that had me thinking. Elise was talking to an author and fellow creative called Kim Werker (it’s episode 32 in the 2014 season.) I found their discussion and Kim’s concept of making something ugly a wonderful idea. You can’t fail. They say this in the episode – if you set out to make something ugly and you end up making something pretty it’s not a fail is it? Win win. Yay.

It’s all about how you set about the task at hand and the problem I have and I’m guessing I am not alone here, is the pressure I put on myself to make it right the first time.

Truth be told I have made plenty of ugly things along my creative lifetime. But most of the time I am afraid to try because I might make something terrible. So I don’t make anything.

I don’t start because I may fail.

And then if I do take a risk and try, but it doesn’t work out I’ll be less likely to try it again. That’s crazy. It is a very rare thing in this life that we get something new right the first time. So why should a creative ‘thing’ be any different? Why do we make different rules for our creative endeavor’s?

Here is a little story along similar lines.

In my quest to be creative at least once a week I tried to make this painting. I covered my canvas in black (I quite liked it just black….) and then left for a few days too terrified to put the white on. Well, when I did feel brave enough I splodged on the white and immediately hated it. I stared down at the mess I’d made and started erasing the image I’d tried to make by scraping the white all over the canvas so that I could use it for something else.

I abandoned the little canvas on my desk.


A few days later Gav was printing something, the printer is in my room. I was in there too trying to tidy it up a bit and I picked up the canvas to tuck it out of the way somewhere and he said ‘that’s really good by the way, probably the best thing you’ve done, bet you could sell that.’

Well I was a little shocked. He doesn’t often volunteer comments let alone compliments about my arty stuff. My immediate reaction was to laugh and ask if he was joking. I was shocked that he thought I’d made it intentionally. So instead of saying thanks and feeling proud and happy for the compliment I explained it was a cast off, a mistake, a work in progress. I can’t remember his reply, but I’m pretty sure he was reminding himself never, ever to comment on something I’d made again! Way to go Mel!

About  twenty-four hours later that I realised my error in not simply saying thanks and accepting his praise. Taste in art, and most things, is so personal. But I have reevaluated and I can accept that he likes the canvas so I should like it right? Even if I think it’s ugly.

Anyway, I have rambled on and on and forgotten what my original point was. So I’ll stop rambling because I have a canvas to hang!

Photo a Day – week one


This is my third year sharing a photo a day. Just a few notes for this year. I am letting Gav in on the action of documenting our days, I know I am so generous….. I am also going to include selfies and timer photos this year. And I intend to have a few ‘themed’ weeks. For example a week of breakfasts or a week of the weather, you get the picture. Ha!

And before we get onto the photos a reminder to myself of why I do this project. It’s to document first and improve my photo skills second. I know that some shots will be blurred or not well framed or even dare I say it, boring but it will be a freeze frame of our lives right now and that’s the important thing.

Okay, lets get started.

Me and Bud on the Pennine Way with Pen-y-gent in the backgound.


Buddy and Gav. One building, one destroying.


A trip to Ikea.


And it begins.


Such a frosty morning but oh so sunny.


A messy patch yet including beauty. Pulmonaria and Euphorbia and a self sown foxglove gearing up to do their thing.


A study in leads. We have so many of these things they are the life blood of all our technology.


And there we go week one.

Little roses


My Mum bought me a bunch of pink roses for my birthday. I have been in love with short packed vases of flowers for a while now but never really tried one with roses like this before.

There wasn’t much about in the garden to pick but I managed with a few stems of Viburnum tinus and some Lamium.


I need practice but I think the roses are enhanced by the additional foliage and being more compact packs a bigger punch. Must remember to try this in the summer.

Click tick list – See the Severn Bore


Oh little list of big, small and mega things to see and do it has been a long time since I crossed anything off.

Well today I can cross something off. Gav, Buddy and I travelled south on Saturday to go and watch a tidal bore on the river Severn. It was set to be a five star bore, the highest there can be, because of the recent spring equinox. After a little pondering we decided to get up early and head to the village of Minsterworth. The church in this village was said to put on teas and breakfasts and join in the fun so we hoped we’d picked the right spot.

Turns out we had.


Although of course no bacon roll for us. We had hot cross bun’s instead. I got chatting to the lady behind the tea stand explaining that we’d come from Leeds and seeing the bore was on a list of things I wanted to do. Just before we headed away from the church to grab a spot by the river she called me back and gave us a framed photo of river and church as a memento of our trip. How lovely was that!

Where the church grounds met the river bank there was quite a gathering of people so we wandered a little further south and picked a place to stand.


Now here’s the thing, and it’s going to sound like a cop out, you can’t really capture the magnitude of this on film. We were advised, in a handy leaflet given to us at the church gate, to select a point on the opposite bank and watch how the water rises after the wave passes. Apparently everyone just watches the wave and leaves but to see the effect that this volume of water has on the river bank you have to stay a while and watch.

Eventually, just ten minutes late, we spotted the first edge of the tidal wave. All the spectators had been watching four micro light planes heading our way, they must have been following the tide because there all of a sudden it was. Way in the distance at the left of the picture you can just make out a wave creeping up the bank.


And it rolled past us in a rather stately gentleman like fashion. Creating a few sprays of water up the bank as it went by.


It is always a pretty amazing this to watch nature do its thing.

A couple of life boats came past, just making sure no one had been swept in.


As instructed we waited. Twenty minutes later I took this picture. Same tree as above.


Just in case you can’t spot the difference I’ve blown them up for a comparison.


Imagine the amount of water to raise the level of the river that much!


Watching the Severn Bore was definately worth the trip and will definately be getting crossed of the list.

She’s got that camera pointed at me again….


I am sure if he had any thoughts in his head, apart from walks and food that is, his next one would be to get the camera out of his face! I just can’t resist that little nose.

The shot below didn’t enlist the macro function of the 100mm lens but you can still get pretty close up.


I liked the almost over exposed light in these photos too. Must remember that.


Such cuteness withough even trying.


And finally, this one was using the macro……


Making art every week – update in March


In January I made the bold statement that I was going to make something arty every week. I haven’t done too badly, I have picked up the pencils or the paint or the weaving and managed to make something most weeks.

They aren’t all pretty, but they are all mine and inspired by this board over on Pinterest. Here are a few of my attempts.




Below is the beginnings of this idea.


I photocopied the image above and then I photographed it uploaded the photo, made it black and white in photoshop and tweaked the contrast etc. Here is what it looks like at the moment.


Not sure I like enough to make it into a canvas but I loved the process of getting it to this point. Might try another one.

And lets finish on a truly comic moment. Here is my version of the collage pooch I have pinned on my board. I tried to make it look like Buddy…….


Gav laughed with raucous hilarity at my attempt and said it looked like the rabbit from Donnie Darko. If you haven’t seen the film just google it and you’ll see what he means. I actually quite liked my collage Buddy but will be trying harder next time…..

So not too bad at all, I’m having a go and that makes me happy.

Photo a Day – week fifty two


I can’t quite fathom how fifty two weeks have gone by. But they have and here is the final week in the 2014/2015 photo a day project.

I was the last car in the car park at work.


Had to pick a few of these and love them in that little vase.


That light right? This is an artichoke head.


Driving through Leeds to drop Gav at the station. Had to document the changing landscape of the city.




Mel has been here….


Every picture tells a story. Sharing a couple of ‘selfies’ as the final two photos this time around. So much going on in this picture, documenting the everyday stuff.


I had a song running in my head and felt like dancing to it. I think Buddy is having serious concerns for my mental state.


And that was that. But I will be back next week with a new week one!



A few years back I took a great class from Ali Edwards over at Big Picture Classes called 31 Things. It was a prompt a day and encouraged you to write about specifics as they were right then. One of the prompts was a time. So at 4.15pm you stopped and recorded everything going on in that moment.

I loved this prompt and have thought often about recreating the idea here on the blog. This morning I was aware of my mind running along as I woke up so I paid attention to where it took me and then taking Ali’s original idea and morphing it into more of a stream-of-consciousness or inner monologue piece.

As I wrote it out below I deliberately left out most punctuation and did my best to capture the thoughts as they ran through my head. It is not ‘pure’ stream-of-consciousness but my take on it. Just thought is might be interesting to record and it’s a good way to get words on paper if they refuse to come.


7.32 the heating is clicking on creaking the pipes and making the radiators play early morning tunes to me Buddy flaps his ears I can hear Gav’s sleeping breathing I have my arms out of the bedcovers hands behind my head my arms are cold the window is open am I cold just because of that or is it really cold out there I need to buy dog food I can call on my way to pick up Mum the bank too a car drives by other noises cars will the film be finished in time to get the dog food later don’t want to take it to the cinema and back will I get out into the greenhouse today hope it is sunny might have time before H comes for me must only have one scoop of ice cream tucking my arms back in bed if I turn over will I nod off again how many t-shirts am I taking away we’ll have to do a wash red/blue spotty white blue black five is that enough might take other blue skirt instead of denim both where will we fnd a laundry


Like I say I think that this is a really interesting excercise and a great way to capture a few moments in time. Being aware of my inner voice will also be helpful on the meditation front which I will do one of these days. Perhaps this is the first step?

Have a good Friday and I’ll be back here tomorrow with the last photos from this years photo a day!