Thursday, 9 October 2014

One Photo and Twenty Words - October 2014

Summer 2000 : Slimbridge Wetland Centre, Gloucestershire. 
My father on a last day out with us. He died on October 9th. 

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This is part of Abi's Meme 'One Photo and Twenty Words':
"Find one photo and choose up to twenty words to tell its story. Jot it down and link back here."

Why not join in too and leave a link in the post at Abi's Blog?

Friday, 3 October 2014

Thoughts from the Washing Line : Changes

It's been a while since I've posted some Thoughts from the Washing Line.  But laundry still happens and I still stand there, hanging up my clean, damp and fresh-smelling linen, contemplating the world.  

This past week, there's been a lot of laundry - the sun has been shining, but the forecast threatens rain, so I've been washing things that I might have left until later in the week - or next week - and hanging up three or more loads a day.   It gives me plenty of time to think thoughts in the sunshine...  

Such as the way things are changing around here... 

Last Friday, this man turned seventeen. Somehow it seems a more significant birthday than last year. Seventeen seems more "grown up", perhaps more serious, than sixteen.   

James sat his GCSE exams this summer and the results came at the end of August.  He did really well and now has eight A*'s, four A's, a C (for Art which he chose as a relaxation and something different to all the academic stuff), and a Distinction (A^ - for his extra Further Maths GCSE), plus an ECDL/BTEC Computing as well.  That's a lot of qualifications...   

He started back at school a month ago and has thrown himself wholeheartedly into a busy VIth Form timetable.  He is studying five subjects to "AS" Level (A-level year 1 exams) - Maths, Further Maths, Physics, History and something called Extended Project Qualification.  
For the EPQ he must choose an area of study, research it, compile information and produce a "thing", such as a presentation, a paper, an essay, a report, a short thesis - whatever is appropriate.  It's examined at A2 Level (2nd year A-level) standard. As he had a lot of heart-searching when choosing his fourth A-level, between History and Music, he has chosen to study an area of Music for the EPQ.  
Next year, he will continue all but the EPQ to A2 Level and hopes to gain a place at university, to study Engineering. 

So, you see that maybe turning Seventeen does seem so much more significant.  He's nearly grown up. Almost A Man.  He even has a 'tache - almost -  and refuses to shave it off...  He's not always finding it easy, but he is growing up all the same and starting to look towards the world beyond school.   Time is whizzing by and I'm sure it won't seem long, before he's packing up his books, clean socks and various musical instruments and heading off to university.... Sobering thought.  

Oh yes, speaking of Musical Instruments - look what we bought a few weeks ago! 

James actually asked for a piano for his birthday - though I think it was a bit jokingly.  But we'd wanted one for so long and now we have a space for it...  Two visits to the piano shop, then it was soon delivered and we are so delighted with it!  I'm polishing up my skills again and James just seems to be a natural - he plays away as if he's been learning all his life, but he's never had a single piano lesson!  

Me and James are in love with our new pet... Dave is less impressed.  He wonders why we didn't buy an electronic piano, with a socket for ear-phones - for silent practice.  That's what he says anyway, but I notice he doesn't seem to mind much when James is tinkling away in the Music Room (formerly the "Snug", but there are nine instruments in there now...).  

It's proving a hit with visitors too - here are James and Keri-Anne last weekend, enjoying a bit of together-time.  The weekend before, we had some friends up from London and they - and their little girls - enjoyed bashing away on our piano too.  It seems that quite a few people can "play a little bit" and they're delighted to get the chance to make a bit of noise.  

The cake was a bit small for 17 candles - so a 1 and a 7 were found, lit and duly "huffed" upon...  
Happy Birthday James.  We all wish you a very successful and happy eighteenth year! 

And, now that James is in VIth Form, with no more black-trousers-and-blazer school uniform, the laundry I hang out these sunny days is a lot more colourful than it used to be! 

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Summer Scavenger Hunt 2014 - My Photos

For the last few years, Rinda, of Gallo Organico, has hosted a Photo Scavenger Hunt.  I have tried to join in, but somehow Life has always taken over and my collection of photos has been pathetic.

This year I have had more success! Here are the photos I have managed to collect for the Challenge:


1. A sign welcoming people to your home town (or a nearby town)
* Oh dear... there's one just up the road - I just forgot to photograph it!  Not the best start... 

2. A garden gnome
We had a week away in Cornwall, at the start of July.  I couldn't resist these lovely Gnomes that I found outside a great little shop in St. Ives - one even has a surfboard!

3. Birds on a wire
Alright, I admit it is Bird (singular) on a Wire... but he was just so cute!  Besides, he was about the only wire-perching birdie in the whole of St. Ives! (I think they generally prefer safer perches, where they won't be hassled by sea-gulls)  

4. A group of tourists
This is a boat that takes tourists along the Cornish coast, to see the seals which feed in the water at a nearby rocky island.  We had just returned from our own trip and I couldn't resist taking a snap of those who so eagerly took our place - complete with the ubiquitous English Tourist collection of sandwiches, sandals and raincoats! 

5. A rack of post cards
I did photograph a "proper" rack of traditional seaside holiday postcards... But then we went to the Yellow Canary Cafe in St. Ives.  They had two of these fabulous postcard holders, filled with cards depicting the cafe - and made specially by the painter of that picture, to display her work to its best advantage.  I couldn't resist! 

6. An urban street scene
I suppose this could also qualify for Item #17 - that is quite some lamp post!  But I like this view of a street in our nearby town, so here you are - a shopping street in Bedford, UK. 

7. A rural landscape
James and I had a lovely walk, out to the edge of our village and across the fields.  He showed me some places I had never explored before.  We live in an area where countryside is frequently interrupted by people-stuff. Like the railway, which runs South to London and beyond, as far as Brighton on the South coast or - as you see here - North to Leicester and on to Nottingham, Derby, Durham, Newcastle... all the way to Edinburgh in Scotland.  But the lovely viaduct, carrying the railway bridge across the River Great Ouse, just seems to add to the atmosphere of our rural landscape.  We can hear the trains on rainy days and they give a feeling of being near to Life, but sufficiently peaceful and remote, to feel that we "live in the countryside".
I like our village and the country round about. 

8. A tattoo on a person
* Another "fail".  I had a couple of chances, if I'd been brave enough to ask...  

9. A bakery
A real Cornish Bakery, claiming to be "The Oldest Cornish Pasty Maker in the World".  I'm not certain whether that applies to the Bakery itself, or to the Baker! Either way, the pasties were very good. 

10. A photo bomb (someone found lurking in the background of photo; the lurker may have intended to disrupt the picture or may be doing it unintentionally, but the background lurker is a surprise to the photographer) 
* It's a matter of chance - and the chance never occurred! 

11. A horn
The pace of life "Doown yer i' Coarnwaall" is somewhat slower and more leisurely than at home in Bedfordshire.   The horn was attached to a small street barrow, owned by a local artist.  The stall was filled with postcards displaying his lovely illustrations of the surrounding town and countryside, which he offered for sale.  However, he didn't feel the need to hang around his stall, looking hopeful and guarding his goods.  He would wander off and buy a coffee, or a pasty, trusting his potential customers to notify him with a loud "Parp" on this horn, should they need his attention! 

12. A mascot
*We went to Norfolk for a holiday - and arrived on the last day of the Carnival, when they had a parade. Unfortunately, we were held up in traffic and when we arrived at Wells, the traffic was all stopped - to wait for the parade to go through.  So, we didn't arrive until after the parade was over - and missed both the parade and all the exciting people in it.  So, no Mascot...  and I didn't see anything that would qualify anywhere else this summer! 

13. A sunrise
The North Atlantic Ocean, in south west Cornwall, England.  Next stop, Newfoundland! 

I got up Early on July 9th, to take this rather magical shot - the photo history says this was taken at 4:09am. So worth the effort - but I did go back to sleep for a couple more hours! 

14. A parade
15. A juggler
* As mentioned before, we missed the Wells Carnival Parade by just a few minutes - our arrival coincided with the traffic being stopped for the parade to pass through the town.  We were stuck on the main road and missed it!

16. A sign in a language other than English
Well, we were "abroad" for our week away in July - we went all the way to Cornwall!  So, we were well placed to find a sign "in foreign"; so I thought... In fact, Cornish is still a near-dead language and although many are now trying to revive it, it's not used in the wide and regular way of Welsh in Wales.  There, we would have found many, many signs, notices, road signs etc, all in Welsh and English (if we were lucky!).  
I had to hunt quite hard to find anything in Cornish.  This little house sign simply translates as "Morvah's House".  I don't know if the owner is called Morvah; I did a little research and found there is a village near St. Ives, called Morvah, which is named after a local early-Christian saint.   

17. A lamp post
I found plenty of lovely lamp posts while I was on holiday.  However, in the end I have settled on this quirky little example.  It's in the garden behind our village pub.  I know it's a bit wonky, but I like it so much.  Its Edwardian appearance does rather remind me of Narnia.... 

18. A water fall
I live in Bedfordshire. It's pretty flat.  What we call "a hill", people from elsewhere in Britain would call "a small rise", or worse, "a mere pimple"!  
So, it was lucky that we were on holiday in a land of cliffs and caves.  We found this little, trickly fall at the beach in Carbis Bay, where we were staying.  It was a good height - about twenty feet - and made a great splashing as it fell onto the seaweedy rock below.  In winter-time, I should imagine this would be something more like a torrent, as local winter rains swell the ground-water by several hundred percent.  So, this is a photo of a "resting" waterfall - waiting to be replenished by the seasons! 

19. A public garden
A Cornish Cliff-top Garden, St. Ives, Cornwall.  
Such exotic planting could never survive our chilly, damp and miserable winters.  In Cornwall, the climate is generally far more temperate, so that they can grow plants that would otherwise be found only in the Mediterranean and further south.  Palm trees jostle with succulent desert-loving plants and exotic flowers.  A lovely place to sit and watch the boats go by. 

20. A bus (not a car, truck, lorry, camper or RV) with a picture painted on its sides.
*No luck here.  Some of the large buses in town have painted pictures, but our local ones are smaller and they don't! 

21. A photograph of you with something representing the season (recognizing that the season will be Winter for our friends in the southern hemisphere). Note: you may not use a substitute for this item.
* I don't believe that I don't have this photo! I have looked and looked, but it just didn't happen!

If you find something on the list too difficult, you may substitute one of the following items for anything on the list, except for Item #21:
Alternative A: A kite, hot air balloon or blimp
Alternative B: A bird house

So, I got most of them... It was fun - in fact the whole family joined in this year and it was a joint effort!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Engineering with Paper and String - An Experimental Binding

Well, they say there is "nothing new under the sun" and this is certainly true of the very old craft of book-binding.  However, many things are "new to me" and this week, I have been experimenting.  I wanted to show you the result of an interesting experiment, which James has dubbed "Engineering with Paper and String".  

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I have a number of "favourite" bookbinding books, including this great book by Esther K. Smith, of Purgatory Pie Press:

"How to Make Books, by Esther K. Smith"

Esther Smith explores a great variety of book styles and bindings in this book, giving good, illustrated instructions to create many of them yourself.   One of the forms she covers, is the "stab stitch binding" - sometimes known as a "Japanese Stab-Stitch", or "Oriental Binding".   Traditional Japanese, Korean and Chinese books were made from thin paper, which was sewn together with stitching that was made through the pile of pages and the covers, wrapping the thread over the left-hand edge and also the top and bottom of the book.

An Oriental-style Stab Stitch bookbinding (by LizzieMade Hand Bound Books - yours truly!)

You may notice that the cover of the book in the photos above has a hinge, to enable it to be folded back. The original stab-stitch books were made with soft papers, so the covers and pages were easily folded open; however the paper is still held firmly on the left-hand edge, so no stab-stitch book of this kind would ever open out flat. 
A stab-stitch book, showing the hinged cover and how the pages are held together by their edges, so the book will not open out flat.  

For the original books that were made in this way, the style of binding was not a problem, because of the materials used and the way in which the book was used also. Most were soft cover books and ledgers, with the book often being written in a vertical / portrait plane, rather than our own traditional horizontal / landscape setup. The stitching was done close to the edge, to maximise the page area and make it easier to turn the pages (this article explains the various techniques very well).  

Also, when used for something like a guest book or photo album, a stab-stitch binding is very attractive and, so long as the covers are hinged and will fold back, the fact that the book will not open flat and may have to be held open for writing or viewing, is not generally a big problem. Spacers can be added between the pages and creases can be made to enable the pages to fold easily. For someone who dislikes this style of binding, there are plenty of other attractive bindings, which will allow the book to lie flat on the table or lap.

However, Esther Smith had found an old book that was a bit different to the Oriental-style bindings. The stitching was not made over the top and bottom corners of the book. It was also stitched in such a way that the thread was quite slack and would allow the pages to be manipulated so that the book would open flat.

She found that this type of binding was used for a famous Art and Design magazine, from Holland, called "Wendingen" (Pub. 1918-1932), as well as the book she had found (in a second-hand bookshop). She gives instructions to make a simple, soft-cover version of this binding, in a similar style to the book she bought; there is an illustration of a version that is similar to the Wendingen binding.

I looked online and found some photos of copies of Wendingen, so I could have a look at the binding and try to understand it. I wanted to try a version of my own, stitching single sheets into hard covers, in such a way that the album would open flat.

This is the result:
You can see that the stitching is quite loose.  
Like the Wendingen Magazine, the binding is made through three pairs of holes, with stitching crossed over the spine.
The back cover - I have left the knot showing, since tucking it into the holes would not be effective anyway - it would only work its way out again, with the movement of the binding.  I'm considering whether to apply a spot of glue to the knot, to prevent it coming undone, then trimming the loose ends closer to the knot. I don't think, however, that the knot looks particularly untidy - it's part of the stitching and a functional part of the binding.  I like it. 

The slack stitching allows the pages to be opened and turned.  The book covers need to be slightly closed each time, in order for this to work... 
... but it does open flat, which is so different to the Oriental style of stab binding.
I'm quite pleased with this book, though the binding style is very unusual.  I think someone may wish to buy it, as it's an attractive and interesting book.  I love the cover paper - I chose the dark green, hand made paper for the edge of the covers, as it contrasted so well with the ferns on the decorative paper and added to the jungly, exotic effect.  I chose a pale grey-pink hemp cord to make the binding - it's strong, but attractive and picks out the pink shades in some of the designs on the patterned paper.

Overall, a successful Experiment, I think! 

Friday, 15 August 2014

One Photo and Twenty Words - August 2014

There's no substitute for a comfy bed, when it's pouring down and howling a gale. Bored, bored, bored... Poor Tom! 

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This is part of Abi's Meme 'One Photo and Twenty Words':
"Find one photo and choose up to twenty words to tell its story. Jot it down and link back here."

Why not join in too and leave a link in the post at Abi's Blog?

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I'm sorry if you're not fond of cats - this slot on my blog does seem to have turned into "Tom's Corner"!


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