It was Blogtacular…..

A few weeks ago I hopped down to London for a few days to go to the Blogtacular conference. It was very inspirational and I returned home full of new ideas. I’d also expected that it would have got me back into a blogging routine again, but strangely , that didn’t happen. I think it was because there was so much going on behind the scenes, a lot of online study and a lot of work on the house.

Some people manage to blog right through these things and document changes as they happen. I don’t seem to have the knack for that so much and take time to process and move through things before I am ready to write again.

I won’t do a full review of the conference, because , frankly, so much has already been written, so instead I’ll point you in the direction of the pinterest round up.

Shot from the Styling workshop with Ellie Tennant
Actually, the quality of the presentations did exceed my expectations and there were none that were not interesting in some way. A few favourites were hearing the “Mini Modern” guys talking about branding, Yvonne from Yvestown giving her take on blogging , Anne Ditmeyer from PretaVoyager talking about how she has created a business combining design and travel and Joy Cho from OhJoy talking about how blogging has shaped her own career. As this has included having her own product range and then moving into licensing it was particularly useful. I also really enjoyed Ellie Tennant’s talk on styling and picked up a few tips to try out on the next photo shoot.

If you are a teeny bit sad that you didn’t make it then there is the next best thing – a virtual conference. You can find the info on that here. I have also subscribed so that I can rewatch the talks – it is hard to take it all in at the time, even if you take notes. The two Kats who set up the conference are all set to do it again next year so put that in your diary too.


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Seaside Treasures

Sea Glass

I’ve always had a bit of a soft spot for sea glass , but used to hunt high and low and find very little. Now I find myself living near some spots where I can find it easily and it is very hard to resist. I especially like all the pale aqua shades and this time also found a few pieces of broken porcelain. I am sure this colour palette is going to show up in a design or painting sometime soon.

rail bridge low tide

The bridges have also been looking wonderful during the last few days – mostly lovely summer weather and some very low tides which make for interesting images.

two bridges

rail bridge

If you are visiting Edinburgh this summer South Queensferry makes a very pleasant wee jaunt out of the city, especially during the crazy festival period. You can even take a boat to Inchcolm island and have a go at spotting seals or even a puffin if you are lucky. Get yourself an Orkney Ice cream and stroll along the prom to the High Street.

Feast or Famine in the August Break

Burry Man

I signed up to join in with Susannah Conway’s August Break. Although in fact, I more or less had a July break too. A summer bug followed by visitors made quick work of July. I have been taking “August Break” pictures , but have been posting them to my Instagram stream instead of blogging with them.

So for a few days I’ll do a little catching up.

Last week was a big day in the South Queensferry calendar – the annual Burryman day. I posted more extensively about it in this post. This year I didn’t get up early to watch him setting off but just caught him as he went along the High Street instead. It really is a very wierd tradition. But if he is scooping up all the bad vibes from the town onto his sticky burrs and taking them out of town, then that is fine by me.

A little bit of advance notice too – I am planning a shake up in my Etsy shop as I am going to move some items over to a different venue. I am also about to have my annual birthday special offer which will be a last chance to purchase some items before they are “retired”. If you’d like to be sure of exactly when , I recommend subscribing to my Studio Newsletter as I will be announcing it there first of all – you can sign up here.

Day 28 – My Edinburgh – Bees Flower Shops


Another post in my series of favourite Edinburgh places for you to discover.

When I got back from Holland I was delighted to discover that in the meantime a florists had opened in South Queensferry, and not only that, it is the very closest shop to me ! That made up a little for no longer being able to shop for flowers at the Leiden Saturday market which was a real highlight of the week for me.

Bees is run by Elaine who tries to select flowers that you might not find everywhere and also makes up bouquets that have a bit of individual flair. Over the last few months I have had some stunning flowers from her shop.


Now, in case you don’t make it out to the coastal delights of South Queensferry very often she has opened a second branch in Hanover Street ( close to the Queen Street end ). A beautiful space with sweeping arched windows. She is also planning to hold workshops as the space lends itself to that, for adults but also for children. Mothers can sit on comfy sofas sipping a coffee while their offspring have fun creating with flowers.

Of course she also does wedding flowers or can organise a weekly arrangement for your office.

Day 24 – Adding Colour


I used to have a cork board that I pinned stuff onto regularly, but my current favourite thing to display bits of inspiration , or colour references , is this card rack.

If you are in the Netherlands you can get them ( also in smaller or larger sizes ) from the Hema . But I’m sure there must be places to get them in other countries too .

Featured at the moment is a notebook from Rosehip Cards , a polar bear by Pixie Campbell , a card by , I think , LilyMoon, a lovely graphic Swedish design by Maria Holmer Dahlgren and a couple of gorgeous cards showing Dutch costumes from Klederdracht Pracht, as well as a couple of my own postcards too .

Day 23 – My Edinburgh – Lovecrumbs Cafe

I thought it would be nice to add a weekly post with a bit of a local theme. Where once we used guide books , now the internet helps us uncover unusual spots. I know Edinburgh is a city that lots of people are drawn to so once a week I will post a little bit of insider info. I have discovered many interesting cafes, shops and exhibitions in other cities,through reading blogs, so now I’m going to do my bit too ! (Although I’m not working as a tourist guide any more, I do still have that instinct for spotting places and passing them on ! )


This week’s spotlight is on Lovecrumbs , which is a cafe that popped up while I was in Holland, and in the meantime has gathered quite a following. That does mean it can get quite busy and you might have to hunt around for a seat. You might end up using an old piano as a table, or you might sit on one of the two low chairs in the window. There are also a few large tables with lots of chairs round them so that helps in finding a wee spot.

But either way , you’ll have your work cut out to choose from the very inventive range of cakes on offer. Yesterday, amongst others there was a lavender cake, a rose and cherry cake and another one containing beetroot which I’ve had in the past. I went for the less exotic banana cake which was also delicious. On a previous visit an American friend couldn’t resist the peanut butter and jelly cake. There are ususally some gluten free options and things like brownies too, with a selection that seems to change quite regularly.

If you are visiting Edinburgh it won’t be on the main tourist routes so you’ll need to hunt it out – but it is well worth it. ( And if you are in Edinburgh for the Film Festival which is just coming up, then it is only a few minutes walk from the Filmhouse .)

155 Westport Edinburgh,
Edinburgh EH3 9DP

Day 22 – Monday Inspiration

IMG_4440After a few sunny days it is overcast again here. Time for a little bit of colourful inspiration from a couple of videos I saw recently.

The first is an overview of the Finnish design company Marimekko. It is no cooincidence, apparently , that a company known for such strong colourful designs is based in a country with very long dark winters.

The second video gives a peek inside their printing factory and then shows how some of those prints become finished products.

If you want to have a closer look – here is the Marimekko website.

Day 18 – In and Out of the Garden


Yes , I slipped up . I didn’t keep to my self imposed 30 weekdays of posting . But I’m just going to pick things up where they are today . Not ideal – but then yesterday was a bit of a special case – between flying back to Scotland and popping in to the hospital , en route ,to see my nephew who was waiting for an op on his broken arm . I was determined to keep to this programme – but the lesson is – sometimes things will happen that make it hard to stick to what you plan – the main thing is to get right back on track the next day .

When I got home I was really happy to see there were still lots of tulips in the garden , along with another favourite , the bluebells . Here is a quick stroll round for you .










Day 15 – 10 Random Snippets from Hive13 in Berlin


1. ” If you don’t feel it, don’t blog it” Said Jenni Fuchs from The Museum Diary blog during her presentation on niche blogging . Despite this very specific topic she had a lot of great ideas about how to create content in general which you can read from the linked post here .

2. Use Pintrest to curate images from your blog by category. Tip from Sophie – Charlotte Chapman Ma Petite Valisetteand also Freunde von Freunden. (I have never really taken to Pintrest as I found their rules in the beginning rather confusing . That has probably been smoothed out by now so will have another look . )

3. You don’t need to be given permission – just start – from Marlous Snijder of Oh Marie Magazine

4. Kirsten Jassies (Just Kirstin is her personal blog)from the Dutch magazine publisher Sanoma talked about blogging networks as a way to grow your audience. I realised that I do have an informal network – but I’d like to look into this a bit more.

5. Video portraits might well become the new business card. But any video should be no longer than 5 minutes, preferably less as attention span is very short online . From the video blogging workshop by Katrina Tan-Conte . You can find out more about what she does at her website Zero The One

6.Don’t try to do everything yourself – look for collaborations . More than one speaker mentioned this.

7.If you haven’t heard of Skillshare it is a great place to find short courses online. I am planning to do the one by Katrina who taught the video workshop . I’ve already done one about making maps by Anne Detmeyer Pret a Voyager which was great fun.(and which is about to run again)

8.The most important reason, for me, to attend conferences and events is to get out into the world and meet people. Obviously I hope that I will learn some new things or leave inspired and recharged , but the top reason is to make connections

9.Sometimes the presentation that you don’t initially think is relevant to your situation will offer up the most gems.

10. It is a bit deflating when a conference ends with a less good presentation. This has happened at the last two events I attended – and it sends everyone away without the buzz that you would hope for . Reminder to myself if I ever find myself organising an event – have a good finale !

(11. As various other blogs have mentioned – there was some room for improvement with regards to the details of the conference but I would rather give my feedback directly to the organisers.)

Day 14 – The Day the Sun Came Out – Leiden Botanic Gardens .


The sun was shining this morning so I changed my plans . Seems so long since there was a properly sunny day , and Berlin was 2 days of very heavy rain .

So – I headed for the Leiden botanic gardens – one of my favourite spots while we lived here – to see what might be flowering . Plenty , as it happens . And also an interesting theme throughout the garden , based on plants from 1001 nights . There are beribboned hands of Fatima to show the relevant places.


Part of the garden is laid out in a historical style .

And I was lucky to catch the last of the tulips . This bed was planted up beautifully with pinks ,lilacs and a very dark purple – which worked very well and is a bit more delicate than the usual reds and yellows .


Students “studying” on the banks of the Witte Singel which forms the border to the gardens on one side.


Plenty of other flowers in bloom too , including a few patches of bluebells . I’m still waiting for the Scottish ones at home.



And the gardens are also known for a few very large old trees that have branches that create huge circular green caves . At this time of year it was carpeted with flowers too .

I took a lot of photos – this is just the tip of the iceberg . But the plan is to do a lot of sketches from them over the next few days that I can incorporate into the painting course I’ve been doing. If it rains tomorrow I am prepared !

(I’m also managing to keep pace with my 30 days of blogging , despite being off on my travels . Not always easy to find the wifi , but so far so good .)