A Grand Day Out…… Exploring Scotland

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Sounding  a bit like “Wallace and Gromit” but it really was a “grand day out”. When the Scotrail operator changed I managed to snap up a couple of free rail tickets.  Given the choice of destinations I picked Stonehaven on account of its open air swimming pool. And vague recollections of very good fish and chips. It proved to be a good choice. Easily manageable in a day , not too far to walk from the station to the pool or town centre and with more to do than we managed to fit in on one visit.

sign for stonehaven swimming pool

This year the pool  has opened for its 81st season but in the 90s it was threatened with closure and I remember having signed a petition to save it. Fortunately the campaign was successful and the pool has gone from strength to strength ever since , supported by a very active community team. They give it a lick of paint over the winter and it was looking beautifully colourful.

stonehaven swimming pool

What sets this pool apart is that it is a heated seawater pool. And they are now thin on the ground. I have to wonder why, as the water was so much nicer to swim in than the normal chlorine smelling pools.

The weather was a little changeable but we braved the elements and , though the water was apparently a little cooler than normal, it was perfectly fine. I think during the school holidays and on very sunny days it will be much busier but I still wouldn’t hesitate to return.

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There is a poolside  cafe – we sampled  delicious freshly cooked  scampi , as well as a warming cup of hot chocolate later on. In summer there is plenty room to sit outside and soak up the sunshine.

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I’d done a bit of research before leaving home and it also turns out that Stonehaven has an ice cream parlour of some repute called Aunty Bettys. Well, they know a thing or two about icecream ! Quite an unusual collection of flavours alongside the traditional ones – apparently Scottish Tablet and Butterscotch are amongst the most popular ones. If you choose to have “toppings” your ice cream will come bedecked in sugary decorations – and it makes quite an impression. Alongside the ice cream counter is a very well stocked old fashioned sweetie shop.

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Travelling by train was perfectly feasible, with direct routes from Edinburgh. Now I’m looking to see where else might make a great day trip.

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Day 17 – A Little bit of Friday DIY

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This is a really easy idea that could be adapted to a whole lot of subjects . Main requirements – a surface with a removable glass top . A scanner, ( optionally also a camera ) and a printer . That would be the way I’d probably do it these days . But this project was completed in the “olden days ” – so I headed off to the photo copy shop with my bunch of gerberas in hand .

It raised a few eyebrows at the printers but I just breezed on with my plan . Once copied I cut them out – you need to take a little care over this to get a good effect , but nothing too difficult . Remove glass panel , position images , replace glass , admire.

This would work with colourful sweets , travel elements like tickets and stamps ( you could blow them up a bit if you are using a scanner to do it . Although you could use decoupage to make a permanent design , the beauty if this is that you can change it around if you get bored with it , or if you change your colour scheme . These days I would probably paint the base piece , but this lets you make changes that are not permanent . If you wanted to give the impression of a painted background you could cut a piece of paper to the size of the surface , paint it , and stick the images onto it before replacing the glass .

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Celebrating Five Years with a Giveaway

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Well, I couldn’t let five years of blogging go by without doing something to celebrate that. It has been an interesting thing, this blogging lark. Sometimes it has been easy to write, at other times I have felt that I wanted to just quietly get on with things without saying too much about it. But that is just the natural ebb and flow of things.

But the best part has been the connections made and friends both on and offline that have come from being part of the blogging community.

So , to celebrate this 5 – I am giving away two $50 gift certificates to be used in my Etsy shop and also 3 sets of 5 postcards – from a new collection currently at the printers. All you have to do to be eligible is to subscribe to my monthly-ish Studio Newsletter here. If you are already a subscriber then you will be entered into the draw automatically.

If you’d like to give a little mention on Twitter (twitter share shortcut) or Facebook then that is always appreciated.

(T & C’s – Open worldwide. The winners will be drawn next Monday and announced on this blog. if any winner fails to claim their prize after 10 days then I will re- allocate the prize. )

( And by co- incidence this is also my 500th post – I rather like that ! )

To Like or Not to Like

If you work in the creative industries online it has probably not escaped your attention that we are starting to drown under a sea of “Likes”. I’ve  been thinking about this trend of “liking” quite a bit lately. And more and more I find myself disliking it ! Its the easy way out – leave a nod but don’t engage. Or just a token click with the sole aim of ensuring a return visit ? I don’t particularly mean this with regard to blogging , but also FaceBook , Instagram, Pintrest.  Whichever site, the trend is not to comment and communicate but just to like. This feels like opting out of the possibility for proper communication. Of course, sometimes just a token sign of approval has its place, we don’t always feel the need to comment on something and “liking” gives us an alternative. But more and more it feels it has become the lazy option.

Granted, we live in this fast paced busy world, but what about trying to slow it down a little. Like slow travel on trains and buses, how about slow surfing ? Consume less but engage more ? Of course I am not immune to this either, but now I am making a real effort not to like but to comment instead. With Instagram for example, it is easy to swallow up so many images in one go that you barely register them – click , click ,click  – on to the next one. Are we looking at them or just fishing for visits ?  How about a return to that old adage – Less is More ?

Another slant to this was highlighted in this  short video by someone who is hoping to speak at the next TED talks in Amsterdam. His point is that all these likes are about social proof and if we see that 1000 people like something , then that gives its own message. But we are not getting the whole picture. In the past we got this proof from the star ratings on consumer testing websites, or on Amazon, for example. But now, when people just like, rather than give a rating we only hear the positive side. The people who didn’t like it, who would have told us this with one or two stars just fade into the distance. So what if 1000 people like it – what about the 1 000 000 who don’t ? You can see his video here.

So I’m starting my campaign – consume less and engage more. ( The sister campaign is consume less and create more – they go hand in glove I think. )

What do you think ? Do you Like to Like ?

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This image was  taken and edited with an Iphone – and , by request , I am preparing a short course to share my tips and tricks . If you’d like a wee tip off when it is ready to launch you can sign up here and I will keep you informed.

Resilience.

“Time and again I have seen the finest work greeted by the most ruthless inner resistance. It is worth thinking  of our inner censor as our inner saboteur. If we are bent on the successful accomplishment of our dreams, our censor is bent on keeping us small and dreamless. But we are not small and dreamless. We are large, we are powerful, we are resilient”

Julia Cameron, ” The Sound of Paper”

Sunflower – Polaroid Painting – available in my Etsy shop.

Musing on art and play.

“Art is not something that we do outside of life. It IS our life, and has the power to engulf every activity. The more the spirit of art infuses you, the more you find the wonder of possibilities and opportunities for continual play in life. What you do becomes less important than your attitude. The more we look at life as the pursuit of excellence, the more it becomes play and the more that play becomes an extension of our art.”

Brooks Jensen “Letting Go of the Camera”

Door  in Florence – Polaroid Painting – available in my Etsy shop.

Creative sabotage.

“One of the most effective ways we sabotage ourselves from a life in the arts is by waiting for that imaginary day when “it” will be “easier”. We think of going to the page or to the easel, and then we think “It’s too hard. If I wait a little, it won’t be so hard” . ”

Julia Cameron “The Sound of Paper”.

Rome , Parthenon, Polaroid Painting – available in my Etsy shop.