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.

August Break Day 20 – Spiegel Tent

spiegel tent

The Spiegel Tents are back in town. This one is at the Edinburgh Book Festival, but there are several others dotted around town. I think they are fabulous structures and straight away create an interesting atmosphere. But really, they come into their own when used for dancing – the wooden floors make a great surface.

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 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 8 – My Windowsill Laboratory.


In every place I’ve lived there is usually one spot that becomes my favourite place to shoot. And in the South Queensferry house it is this windowsill. Quite often I work at a table right alongside, which I like because I can see the comings and goings in the street outside while I am working on the computer.

The sill is nice and broad and so can cope with quite a big vase of flowers and the painted wooden surface adds a nice element to many photographs. Every week I choose some new flowers, often from the really lovely little florists ( Bees Flower Shop – drop in if you are passing ! ) just along the street and then arrange a still life for the windowsill.


Before leaving Holland I did a bit of a mad shop of all kinds of little vases and props , which seemed a bit excessive at the time ( not to me, but you know, to some other folks ! ). Now I’m very glad that I did build up this stash as I’ve been able to make a lot of different colour combinations , and so far no bunch of flowers has failed to fit in with one or two pieces.

Of course these images show up in my Instagram feed quite often, but I’ve also been shooting with other cameras and some images will be appearing as prints before long.

Day 5 – Colouring Wednesday


Wednesday is one of those days. Its not the start of the week with a full complement of days to fill. And its not Friday with the weekend right after. Its just there, right in the middle, with the potential to feel a bit flat and colourless. I want to change that and provide a bit of a colour splash – to cheer myself up, if noone else !


You can take the girl out of Holland, but you can’t take Holland out of the girl !


The garden is giving me a helping hand with this today. After endless winter and no bulbs coming through when you’d expect them, the other side of the coin is a flurry of growth and colour all at once. Masses of tulips and all kinds of flowering bushes ( that I do not yet know the names of. I need my garden expert auntie to visit and remind me of them all ! )

Even though the flowers have emerged, the weather still thinks it is the end of winter, so my little photo essay had to be timed in between showers of rain and sleetiness. Come along now spring, we are all waiting for you.

I love the pale pinks and greens of these clematis that are going to come into bloom very soon.

Not quite blue sky but heading in the right direction I hope.

Day 4 – Work in Progress – Sneak peek.

ranunculus fabric

One of the projects that had to be put on hold while I was in Holland was the “textile project”. I did some fabric print tests quite some time ago, and although the results were good, they weren’t quite there, as far as I was concerned. And then Holland came along and it was just too tricky to coordinate it all.


Now I am back in Scotland I am pushing this along as fast as I can. So I’ve just had a sample print back from a new printer and the results are pretty good. The pictures give you a wee taster. Can’t wait to see them made up into cushions !
fabric 3

Day 3 – Where does Inspiration Come From ?

Victoria street cushion

It would be nice to think that you could just sit down and wait for inspiration to strike, but sadly that doesn’t seem to happen often. It is more likely to hit you when you are busy doing something else.

Of course, it helps to have a few diversionary tactics up your sleeve and one of mine is to pay a little visit to the pandas or the puffins. The pandas in Edinburgh zoo have a webcam and it is quite reassuring to check in on them and to watch a bit of their day. They are never fretting about what to do next or how to “be” . They just get on with the task in hand , of eating mounds of bamboo – or having a little nap. They move quite slowly so I’ve been doing little panda sketches which are bound to pop up in a painting sooner or later.

Another one is the puffin webcam at Sumburgh on Shetland. I spent one summer where I was in Shetland every fortnight and was lucky enough to see the puffins in person from very close by. They are such engaging little birds and also very distinctive to draw. This webcam is located in a little underground burrow, and apparently puffins return to the same mate and burrow every year. This year they have returned and an egg was laid on the 1st of May. With a bit of luck in about 5 weeks there should be a puffling.

Strangely enough, if I stop “trying” and switch off for a few minutes to watch these creatures going about their daily life , before long something will trigger an idea and I will be off again.

Do you have something you do when you are feeling a bit stuck, that just unblocks things again ?

( PS- In case you have just popped in , and wonder what it is “Day 3″ of – I’ve decided try to blog for 30 days (weekdays) because I’d like to change my blog a little and hope that this concentrated focus might help with that. After realising I’d been blogging for 5 years I suddenly felt a bit lost for words and , to be honest, found the format a bit stale – so rather than stop , I chose to pay a bit more attention and see what transpires. )

Day 1 -Reviewing, Revising and Reviving – 30 days of Blogging

JitterBean Cafe

I have felt a little adrift with my blog over the last while. There have been lots of things happening but I haven’t felt that I wanted to put “pen to paper” and talk about them. I think partly what has happened is that I have lost my blogging groove a little. Maybe the idea of having kept this blog going for 5 years actually acted as a bit of a barrier. Also, maybe I’ve become a tiny bit bored with the format now. I want to freshen things up, both in style and content. So, to confront that head on I’ve set myself a little blogging challenge to blog for 30 days ( week days that is, as I’m trying more and more to have offline weekends ). I don’t really want to think of it as a challenge though, but more a way to focus a bit on how I’d like to see this blog from now on. I could wait till the start of the month , because I like that kind of orderliness. But that feels like procrastination, so I’m going to dive right in and start today.

Instead of berating myself for things not done, posts unwritten and progress unmade I will take note of one of my favourite phrases “Start where you are”. And when I take stock of where I am , surprisingly, I have managed to do more this year than I had initially supposed. If you are feeling stuck then I suggest you do the same, start where you are, use what you have.

Do you have a favourite motto that you use to get yourself moving again, or to encourage yourself ?

( The image above is of some of the images on display just now at the Jitter Bean Cafe in South Queensferry – a good value and cosy cafe facing the water on Queensferry High Street )

Five on a Friday – a Connections Round – Up

( The image is “Tea in the Hague” – Polaroid Painting – and available here. )

In another of my “Five on a Friday” round ups – this time I thought I would pull together five of the posts from the archive where I talk about the different meet ups and events I’ve attended during the last  year or so.  At the start of the year I set myself the goal to accept any opportunities that came my way this year, to connect. And there were a good few events that presented themselves. Some were smaller and inexpensive and others were frankly luxurious and a real treat. But each one has been worthwhile. Hopefully some of these posts will encourage you to find something local to you and get out from behind the computer. If you’ve attended something this year I’d really love to hear about that too.

The Do What You Love Retreat in Yorkshire – well – that took several posts to cover completely but here is a start.

Meet the Blogger in Amsterdam – an event that was based around Holly Becker’s book Decorate.

The Impossible Factory visit - back to Holland again for this as they are in Enschede over towards the German border. There was a very international mix here none the less, from France and even Italy, as it was a rare treat to see inside the Impossible Headquarters.

This one is in a rather different category as I didn’t travel far afield, but instead joined others from the local community ( and quite a few from abroad) who turned up to witness this rather bizarre local custom – The Burry Man of South Queensferrry.

Of course not all connections are one – offs – this post about the launch of a local craft group, Granny Greens - still going strong a year later though at a different location  – Fredericks Cafe on Frederick Street from 6-8pm. If you are in Edinburgh whether visiting or local you are welcome to pop in. Despite the name we are of all ages and I’m not sure that anyone is a granny !