Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2015: the Lincoln City Centre Edition

Hello you.

I've been away - I dare say you missed me something rotten but my scheduled posts must have been of some balm to you ... right? ;-) But you can dry your tears now because I'm back; and with me I've brought back some photos I can cross of the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt list.

So here are the items I found while wandering here and there around Lincoln city centre last week.

1. A bouquet of flowers
While inside Lincoln Cathedral [following our roof tour ... scroll down for an amazing view!!] I spotted these two floral displays which I thought would be perfect for this category. In the photo above I loved the contrast between the softness of the the fresh petals and the solid, timeworn, Norman brickwork.

I also spotted this one in a small side chapel:
Then, later in the week, I just happened to look up and spot another - albeit irregular - bouquet of flowers:
If the scavenger hunt had had the category '3 false gerberas in an upturned old tuba outside a tattoo parlour'then I would have nailed it with this shot! Now onto another equally decorative item from the list ...

2. An ornate door knocker
Down the hill from our hotel I spotted this beast ... 
...what do we think? Fox? Wolf? Bear? 

And I also found this vintage scrolled design one ... which someone clearly felt wasn't already ornate enough, so they added their own decorative extra:
Next, strolling around behind the cathedral, I realised that through Priory Gate [built in 1816 but reusing materials from a 14th Century gatehouse] ...
... I could capture ...
14. A traffic signal
I like the idea that, once upon a time, it'll have been horses and carriages passing through here ,,, not sure what they used as traffic signals back then!

And while we're on the road ...

The day we headed off for our week away we had no idea that, at the very same time we'd planned to to arrive at our hotel in the heart of the city, the British Cycling Road Racing Championships would also want to be using the very same roads we needed.

Guess whose plans won out in the end ...

Here we are, after already running into at least 4 'Road Ahead Closed' signs finally just having to sit and wait until the race raced by:
 When we finally found a way through, parked up, emptied the car and took our cases to the room we decided to stretch our legs with a nice walk through the old town. Which is when we discovered that, while one area of the race had finished ... it wasn't all over just yet. In fact this was the sight 1 minute away from our hotel:
Crowds and crowds of people lines the course along the old streets and it was from here that I think we saw the Mark Cavendish from the back as he turned uphill. But seriously ... who am I to tell one cyclist from another?

It was later that afternoon, once the race was over and the crowds dissipated through the streets that I managed to cross off yet another item ...

18. An overloaded truck, car, bicycle or other vehicle
We spotted this giant screen in a car park which must have relayed the days events to those who couldn't get a view from the course itself. And, if you look carefully, you'll be able to see that this monster of a TV somehow emerges up from the back of a truck! 

And finally for today here's a category I'd already crossed off the list but ... after taking these shots last week, I thought they were so appropriate that I couldn't resist sharing another take on ...

16. A panoramic view, taken while standing someplace high in the air

When we took the roof tour at Lincoln Cathedral I took this photo from a walled ledge near the base of one of the main towers showing the town with the castle walls and tower in the centre:
Then, a day or so later, when we visited the castle I took a mirror image shot this time from the top the castle tower showing the view of the Cathedral:
Actually, while we were up on top of the castle tower - taking photos like this one - we could actually see some other people taking the Cathedral roof tour ... so we were taking photos of people on top of the cathedral who were taking photos of people on top of the castle just like we'd done a few days earlier ... and now my head hurts! It's like lining up two mirrors and trying to work out where the original image begins!

As you can see from my list I'm well on my way to finding all 21 items on the list:
While I haven't yet blogged all 17 of these I have photographed them, so I'm not too worried about whether or not I'll find them all but ... to cover all my bases ...

... while I was passing The Usher art gallery in Lincoln I did stop to take a photo of everything ...
Y'know ... just in case?!

More soon
If you want to join in Rinda's hunt too then you can! Share your photos via your blog, on Instagram with the hashtag  #‎rindas2015photohunt or join the Facebook group and make sure to visit Rinda's blog to catch her regular round-ups and link posts.

Friday, 3 July 2015

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2015: Haven't I seen that outfit somewhere before?

Hi again.

I'm back to cross off  another category from the 2015 Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt created by Rinda from Gallo Organico and this one was always going to grab my interest [you know how I love clothes!].

17. At least two people wearing matching outfits or uniforms
Last month, right before the Middlesbrough Mela Festival got underway [which I mentioned earlier here in my first scavenger hunt post last week] James and I climbed up to the second floor of the MIMA gallery and went out onto the deck to get a good vantage point of the preparations.

From there we spotted these tall, strange characters - all in matching outfits - being photographed by the press:
They were bird-like wearing beak masks and with huge wings which they duly demonstrated for the cameras.  And they also had a look of those figures you see in Venetian festivals ... with a hint of 'elaborate choirboy'!
Oh and, as you might have noticed, they were led by a large rooster-ish chap, naturally! But he wasn't wearing the same outfit:  
I was fascinated by how whoever was in there was managing to walk on those legs and feet which were quite clearly way out of alignment with their centre of gravity! As someone who can fall over just by standing up from the sofa ... I had great respect watching him.her get around so effortlessly!

And the idea of balance takes us nicely to my SECOND attempt at the same category ...

17 [again]. At least two people wearing matching outfits or uniforms
It was a sunny, still, and almost silent morning in June and I was working at my desk with the window open when I could suddenly hear voices. 

When I looked out I could see a child, around 9 or 10 slowly cycling by ...
Followed close behind by another ...
... and another ... and with so many of them all wearing the same High-vis vest ... I decided to reach for my camera to capture them for the hunt. 

Which was actually pretty tricky. 

The first shot I grabbed was as the last one was turning the corner ... therefore the photo didn't have the necessary 'at least two people' in it!! So I thought I'd missed out ... until ... 
... until I realised that the road they'd taken was a dead end and that... possibly, at some point, they'd have to turn around and maybe, just maybe come back the way they came. 

I'm guessing they were part of something like the Bikeability scheme [the fancy 21st Century version of 'cycling proficiency'] as they were all very well behaved, very orderly, and clearly being shouted direction from the adult at the back. 

What a nice way to have spent a sunny school day morning. I wouldn't have minded doing that when I was at school [although, that said, if it had been during secondary school I might well have taken the opportunity to just keep cycling and get as far away from everyone as possible! ;-) ]

And then there they were, back again for another lap, and another, where I managed to grab these shots from my window: 
 So there you have it my No. 17s. My 'At least two people wearing matching outfits or uniforms'. My strange collection of school children in neon yellow and people wandering about on stilts.

Practically what summer's all about then! 

If you want to join in the hunt too then you can! Share your photos via your blog, on Instagram with the hashtag  #‎rindas2015photohunt or join the Facebook group and make sure to visit Rinda's blog to catch her regular round-ups and link posts.

And I'll see you soon with more photos. 


Tuesday, 30 June 2015

My Month in Numbers 2015: June

Hello hello.

It's that time of the month again, no, the other one; the time where we gather to us all those numbers who've had an impact on how we spent the last 30 days. [If you're intrigued enough to learn more then do visit here].

But, before we begin ... have you heard of Leon Day?

And no,it's not a long forgotten X-Factor winner or that boy who joined your class in the middle of the year when you were 7 and then never came back the following term and whose name you can never recall when looking back at your class photo of that year.

No, apparently - and I only learned this on the day itself, 25th June, this year - is the name given to the mid-point in the calendar when Christmas starts to get nearer; Leon is 'Noel' spelled backwards.

And yes, Christmas is always getting nearer [scarily so in fact] but Leon Day marks the mid point of the year when there are fewer days of 2015 left until the whole gift-giving, cheese-eating, sherry-drinking shindig kicks off again. And, if you're reading this on June 30th then that means you've got 177 days to get your list-making, sellotape-tearing, mince-pie-lifting muscles ready.

I've already made a start ...

171 days before December 1st = when I began working on Christmas themed projects for Papercraft Inspirations magazine.
I'm not complaining about the work ... but it takes a conscious shift in attitude and craftiness to face the mistletoe and holly in June! Oh by gosh by golly.

But enough festive talk for now, let's enjoy the summer first shall we?

100% illuminated = the full moon on 2nd June which conveniently lined itself up with our front window:
I'm not a regular lunar observer [insert your own 'lunatic' joke here] but how could I miss this perfectly positioned one peeking over my hills? You probably can't tell from this photo but the light is was emitting somehow made everything in between me and it look flat - giving the whole town the feel of a stage set or painted backdrop.

And while we're on the topic of wonderful staging ...

7 + 1006 = the number of episodes in BBC's Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell adaptation which ended on Sunday and the number of pages in the novel ... which I finally finished! 
Even though I knew how it all panned out I was very often breathless watching the series. I loved it. Wholeheartedly, unreservedly, ohmygoodnessbuymetheDVDnow-ly. But, having read the book, I have no idea if it made sense to anyone who hadn't! 

If, after watching it, you do feel like tackling everyone of those 1006 pages what I can say is the adaptation doesn't cover everything that happens [how could it without being a year long?] but ... the majority of the scenes it does cover are very true to the text; impressively, how-did-they-get-into-my-head-that-looks-exactly-how-I-pictured-it true in fact. Enjoy!

And while we're on the subject of brilliant TV ...

  • after 5 glorious years [since 2010]
  • after 6 gripping seasons 
  • and after 78 near-perfection episodes... this month we reached the last ever episode of Justified.
There were moments during those final 45 minutes where I'm pretty certain I stopped breathing. 

I'd hate to spoil the end for anyone not yet caught up but let me just say ... if - over the previous 3510 minutes - you've invested a good deal of your time and emotional energy into the relationship between Raylan Givens and Boyd Crowder ... then the final ever 6 words of dialogue will definitely have an impact! 

[So much so my sister and I considered - for about 30 seconds any way - having them tattooed on our arms! I've just watched that scene again - there's a clip on Youtube - and I still got goosebumps!] 

Speaking of goosebumps ...

AA11 = the seat number I've grabbed for when I go to see Shakespeare's Hamlet at the Barbican.  

Benedict Cumberbatch's Hamlet no less.

I know!

I can feel my blood pressure rising just typing that phrase ... and there's several weeks to pass before I actually go ... and there's no question that I'll be mentioning this to you again before then [and after then. and then ongoing for the rest of my life. In short, I'm going to be insufferable.] and so ... I won't go on I'll just throw in one more related number before I go and apply a cold flannel to face.

£10 = the price of the Hamlet tickets. 
The regular tickets sold out long ago but I was deliriously surprised a fortnight ago to win a place in a draw I'd entered to be able to buy 2 x £10 tickets. 

Sounds like a bargain doesn't it?

Ah my friend ... but that's because you haven't yet worked out what a return train ticket plus 3 nights stay in a London hotel for 2 costs these days ... 

6 inches = how much of my hair I had lopped off:
After having the same style for a few years it was time for a change! And it hurt the lady in the highlight foils, sitting behind me in the salon, more than it hurt me.

Once my 'do' was done she declared: "It's lovely. But having all that lovely thick hair and then cutting it all off?!!!!"

My stylist - who I've trusted with my locks for the last 8-ish years replied breezily: "Oh, it's what we do. She grows it and then we cut it all off again".

Exactly! That's what hair's for isn't it?

The 5 minute rule = a new Facebook hoop for page owners to jump through/ shake their heads, roll their eyes at and continue on as before. 
I tend to get more comments than direct messages to my Facebook page but people do occasionally get in touch privately to ask or share something and that's great. And, where it's appropriate to answer [and, trust me, it's not always appropriate to answer ... the phrase 'feeding the troll' springs to mind] I do so as soon as I'm in the 'dropping by to Facebook' mood. 

I had a couple of messages this month and here - below my photo - is Facebook's assessment of how I did:
I answered 100% of my messages within 1 hour.

Now, I don't know about you, but I think that's pretty good communication.. Especially as it's a page about paper and crafting and old books and silly stories ... and not a medical emergency helpline!!

So, I might think that's a decent response time and you might be happy with that if it's you I'm replying to ... but how does Facebook feel about it?

If you visited me on my 'With Julie Kirk' page last week you'll have seen my mini rant about this because - in order for my page to bear the banner of 'Very Responsive To Messages' I'll have to buck up my ideas, because here's their criteria:
I need to answer messages, on average, 55 minutes faster than I do now!

Next time you have to wait in A+E for four hours to have your elbow X-rayed, or in a Doctor's surgery, like I did last week, for over 25 minutes after your appointment time has come and gone ...

... then do spare a thought for all those poor people on Facebook who are waiting over 5 minutes for a reply to their messages!  However do they cope?

2 = visits to the ever-splendid Olde Young Teahouse [Middlesbrough]:
Once time was to have lunch with my Mam and another was a Saturday morning pot of tea and a scone with James:
 And 'H' I know you missed my cake-based-statistics last month and I know you're good-old-fashioned-English-tearoom deprived right now ... so this one's just for you ...

A slice of 'Crunchie' cake which I took away with me to have at teatime!

13 Ways of Looking at the Novel by Jane Smiley = the book I'm currently reading [and taking notes from in an equally colourful notebook!]
I'm absolutely going to write a book one day. It might not be a novel as such, but whatever it turns out to be, Smiley's book breaks it down making it all seem infinitely doable.

Not easy. Not by any means. But possible. But let me finish reading this book first before I start writing my own!

And finally ...
Let's end on an event this month that combined 4 of my favourite things in the world ...

This was the scene following the end of The History Wardrobe's presentation of 'Fairytale Fashion' - can you spot Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother there?
You'll have heard me mention The History Wardrobe ladies before as I went to their 'women and the Great War' event last summer. If you're anywhere near the North East of England then do check out their other dates and presentations. Personally I've got my eye on 'Gothic for Girls'!

And those 4 favourite things it combined?

  1. Fashion ... naturally. What's not to love about experts talking about fashion history?
  2. Fairytales / folklore / story-telling. I love the fact that starting sometime once upon a time we became a species that creates tales and then shares them down the line for hundred, thousands of years to come. 
  3. History, especially social/women's history. Until they pointed it out in this presentation I don't think I've ever noticed how many fairytales feature sewing and cloth-making - all traditionally female pastimes. Plus any presentation that mentions Versailles is bound to entertain me [I have an inexplicable 'thing' for it!]. And lastly ...
  4. Public libraries!! That lovely old book-lined room in the photo above is Middlesbrough libraries Reference floor; isn't it splendid? and a perfect setting for a night of historical storytelling. 
And finally ... here's a rare treat that the History Wardrobe ladies brought with them to demonstrate the style of dress in certain versions of Cinderella ....

An original 18th Century skirt! 
When do you ever get to see something this old and ornate that isn't locked away behind museum glass? Such a treat to get up close and personal with it!!! 
It was not the kind of item we think of as a 'skirt' but a decorative front section that would have formed part of a dress when worn with another piece called a 'robe'. Apparently they couldn't buy the whole outfit and the robe part was purchased by someone who intended to cut it up and make dolls clothes with it. 

Horrifying I know. But ... erm ...when it comes to cutting up old things ... I'm in no position to judge; let she who is without crafty-sins throw the first stone! 

And I think we'll end it there!


As ever if you want to join in the number game and share your own, you're welcome to [there's lots of inspiration and tips here if you need them]. Just remember to leave me a comment to say 'hi' while you're dropping off your link. [Otherwise it can feel a little bit like you're one of those people who just sits outside beeping the horn so that I'll come out to your car, rather than you taking a minute to come to my door to greet me!] 

And I'll see you again in July. Or at Christmas ... whichever comes sooner [like I say ... it always seems to be almost Christmas!]

Julie :-)

Friday, 26 June 2015

Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt 2015: the town centre edition

Hello hello.

Ever since last summer I've been looking forward to joining in with the scavenger hunt again! This will be the third time I've joined in with the Summertime Photography Scavenger Hunt created by Rinda from the Gallo Organico blog and if you want to join in too, you can, Rinda is happy to have you.

You can blog your finds, share them on Instagram with the hashtag  #‎rindas2015photohunt or join the Facebook group. Plus Rinda also blogs some of those photos that have caught her eye throughout the hunt and she blogs posts where you can link up your successes too. 

I like the hunt because of two seemingly opposite factors:

  1. that it gives your summer snapping a structure - in finding things which match the 21 categories listed.
  2. while at the same time providing you with more free-form opportunities, excuses even, to go out wandering with your camera 'just because', to see whatever it is you'll see, to let serendipity have its way with you and to capture it all on film [well, in pixels more likely!].
So let's kick off with my first round of finds. I've crossed off those I've found so far [although they wont all be in this post].
Earlier in the month James and I went into the town centre mainly so we could have curry at the Middlesbrough Mela festival for lunch. Only it turned out that ... due to the unusually high winds happening around lunchtime... the curry stalls were prevented from opening on health and safety reasons!

You'd think that anyone selling curry would be used to strong wind by now wouldn't you? [Too far?]. But I digress ...

... so, while we were in the vicinity anyway we did a spot of 'tourist in your own town' wandering around with our cameras and here's the categories I managed to scavenge from that day .. 

6. A metal bridge
There's something of the 'old Middlesbrough' the Infant Hercules about the riveted steel on the ornate Albert bridge that runs into the train station:
And then, 2 minutes away, something entirely 'new Middlesbrough' in the sharp lines of this metal walkway between buildings in the digital and creative Boho zone:

9. A tent
Three colourful promotional stalls at the Mela festival in Centre Square.

10. A college or university
This was always going to be the easiest item for me to find ... it's where I work from time to time. I managed to somehow lose/delete the photo I wanted to share - of a new building in progress - so this one  - with its funny bobbly things on the side is the next best thing:

11. A cellular tower or television satellite dish
Also on campus these were spotted at the tippermost top of the 10 storey tower building:

12. A public restroom, bathroom, or toilet
Inside the MIMA gallery:
 As soon as I saw this category on the list I knew I wanted to capture the acid yellow of the art gallery's loos. Clearly I've paid their toilets too much attention ...

13. A merry-go-round or carousel
How about 3?
Taken from the 2nd floor outside deck of MIMA before the Mela festival got started.

And while we were up on the deck I grabbed ....

16. A panoramic view, taken while standing someplace high in the air
Up above the streets and houses ... [British 80s kids I'm pretty sure how you just finished that sentence! ;-) ]. I love the outline of the hills in the distance , quite different from the much closer view of them I get from my workroom window.

So that's 7 out of 21. A third of the list duly scavenged; plus there's another item I found on the same day but I'm holding that one back for a later post.  

All in all not a bad start ... especially considering they're all from one morning/afternoon's wanderings and I've found one of the 'alternatives' in case I can't find all 21 on the main list. So I'm feeling pretty positive that I'll have an album full of summertime scavenger hunt photos by the time September looms into view.

Also before September there's June's Month in Numbers post - my regular monthly round-up in statistics - heading this way, so I'll see you at the end of the month. 


Friday, 19 June 2015

Card making: Make a card for a man using an acetate overlay. Plus 3 ideas to steal.

Hello hello.

It's Father's Day on Sunday meaning there's still a couple of days left to make a card if you're that way inclined. And if you're not one for lots of layering or die-cutting then here's an idea for a simple Dad-friendly card using acetate.

This is the card I gave my Dad for his birthday this year:
As he's interested in all things astronomical I thought this map of the stars would be ideal as a base. And, as it's simply a sheet of 6x6 patterned paper from the Basic Grey Aurora range, all I had to do was tear it off the pad and stick it on to a 6x6 card. How's that for a quick and easy first layer?

To introduce a little more detail I added a square of star design acetate on top securing it with a few strips of washi-tape and a length of string threaded through holes I punched through the card/paper/acetate.

[The acetate was left over from the Luxury Foiled Acetate 'Rainbow Collection' that Hunkydory sent me to use in my '10 Ways with Acetate' feature in a recent issue of Papercraft Inspirations magazine].
And the finishing touch - as it so often is for me - was a snippet I'd set free from an old children's encyclopedia:
3 ideas to steal and use on a card of your own:
  1. Use the whole sheet: if you come across a 6x6 paper that has a fancy, all over design, that you can't bring yourself to cut into ... don't! Just stick it straight onto a card and you're almost done! For a card to be special it doesn't necessarily need to have lots of layers. How many layers are there on the majority of cards you'd buy from a shop?
  2. Fix acetate down using washi tape: forget about trying to 'hide' all evidence of adhesive somewhere under an embellishment wher eit won't be seen; just use some attractive tape to hold it in place. So much easier! 
  3. Personalise your sentiment by finding the 'right words' in an old book: thinking of something other than 'Happy Birthday' to say can be a challenge, so simply find yourself a book you don't mind cutting into and browse for a phrase that will say it for you. It can really show your recipient that it was them specifically you were thinking about when you made the card and that it wasn't just another generic greeting. 
And if you really can't face cutting into a book, let me do it for you - there's lots of vintage paper pack options in my shop and if there's nothing there that quite suits, you can commission your own custom collection of pages. Just get in touch and both me - and my collection of old books - will be happy to help out!

Enjoy your weekend.