Thursday, December 18, 2008

Quiet Heroes

Sometimes I feel inspired to write posts on this 'ere blog, but it's usually when I'm miles away, perhaps driving to work, perhaps sitting in the cinema, even while shopping... always when my mind is wandering as it so often does. Today I've decided to pop a quick post up because I'm actually sat sitting here at my PC at the right moment.

I've just been reading an article about Lockerbie on my local newspaper's website. It's the 20th anniversary this weekend, and because I now work in the town it's rising up in my consciousness as I'm sure it is with everyone else who remembers it.

My memories: I was 18 - I'd just come home from my boyfriends on my bike, on a cold dark evening. I thought I would be in trouble for getting home late... I was called into the living room and remember very vividly standing there in my reflective sash and waterproofs, steamy hot from both the bikeride and the heated room, watching the news open-mouthed. At this stage the news reports were saying it was probably two fighter jets which had collided; a fair assumption as we have so many training flights over the area. So we settled in for the night and watched all the reports until (as with most of these occasions) the news teams changed their story, then ran out of things to say, the police had clammed up, things were repeating themselves and so, we all went to bed.

I don't really remember anything else in detail, we were after all miles away, and most of the conversations at work revolved around the stories of sandwiches being donated by the company to feed the searchparty members, and the idea that the bomb maybe went off right above our heads, how we were lucky to have escaped, and then - well - then it was Christmas. We got on with our lives, subdued but pretty damned normal. This was a time in my life when venturing to Lockerbie had associations with teenage ice-skating trips with the Girl Guides; of course the fact the ice rink was used as a mortuary was amazing to me (I pass it almost every day; I think of this fact every single time).

I realise some of my workmates might read this post, and hope they don't mind. I realise they all have stories and none talk openly, and I never ask. Sometimes it is hinted at, and there are plenty of legacies remaining both emotional and financial but at the end of the day they are normal folk in a normal wee Scottish toon, which is dank in the winter and pretty in the summer, complete with school kids outside eating chips in their lunchbreaks and old ladies rushing the Pelican crossing past the boarded-up old shops caused by the obligatory Tesco takeover... but it's always a busy main street as it's not too far from the motorway, and handy for the curious traveller taking a slight detour.

There's always a sense of vague sadness to the place but tomorrow night we will be ignoring all this and attending the company Christmas party, held at a large local hotel and trying not to think of the rescue teams, families and volunteers which probably stayed there during the searches.... or is this just me, I dunno. I doubt we'll talk about it, though.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Ruthwell - a novelletto

I'm endlessly fascinated by gravestones. They are small novels in themselves and all the better for being true biographies; although exceedingly brief, they are written with love and as much accuracy as those who left behind could bare to reveal.

What a story this family had:

In Memory of Christopher McLean, Mariner, who died in Annan 25th Nov. 1831 Aged 29 years. Also James & James his children who died in infancy. Also his son,
William McLean, Mariner, who died at Sea on the 20th June 1842, aged 16 years.
His Body was committed to a Watery Grave Latitude 49N Longitude 21W

Though in the Seamy Body ly,

Mong many of our Fleet,

Ere long we will Set Sail again,

Our Admiral Christ to meet.

Also Janet Lang, Widow of the above Christopher McLean who died at Annan 30th
April 1887, aged 90 years .

(I think the co-ordinates lie somewhere in the mid-Atlantic)

Monday, December 08, 2008

Benny's Noo Hoose

It was raining this morning when we were leaving the house; Benny was making good use of her new little house (she could have come inside the big house, she just prefers her own space sometimes ... )

Friday, December 05, 2008

Closing the Cumberland Gap!

I am unfeasibly excited! The new motorway opens today!

I've been travelling this section for work and pleasure for many years now, and this will take at least 5 minutes every day off my journey to work, I've calculated that as 42 hours a year .... oh I am so chuffed!!

All that plus it will be massively safer than the old situation, the one I felt strongly enough to rant about almost three years ago.

I've seen it develop slowly over the last two years, and all credit to the scheme managers because I think I've only been held up twice and I think that was nothing to do with the roadworks.

I'm so excited I might even go to work early today!!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A tickler, in particular.

Get someone Scottish to say the above phrase to you. In fact, if possible, get someone from Partick to say it: it would then be a Partick tickler in particular.

Then, give them some Curly Wurly Squirlies.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

New goodies in my shop!

Throughout the horrible wet summer (and current horrible wet autumn) I've been dabbling with making earrings and some other stuff, and I decided this morning that the time has come to put some of it up for sale.

I've started with earrings - and why not. They are my favourite thing to make - it's where I started and I keep coming back to it.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Trying the 365 - starting with Penrith Museum

We attended a flint knapping workshop on Sunday - it was fascinating but we'd no chance of making it look as easy as the tutor.

His bench and basket set-up looked (intentionally) as if from another time - so I had another little play with the sepia setting on my camera.

When I reviewed the photos after I got home, I decided this one looked like one that Flickerites might put in their diary or 365 set (ie one photo per day for a year). So, I started my own 365 set. I fully expect it to be like all my diaries throughout my life - I start well and quickly grow bored, but every now & then return for a prolonged burst ... time will tell.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mooooooo Cards

Sepia Bead #1
Originally uploaded by pebblesfromheaven
I've just ordered some Moo cards.

Took some arty farty shots to put on them...

Monday, October 13, 2008

Seasons, Skylines and Stone Circles

We spent an interesting day at Tullie House on Saturday, taking part in what was billed as a "day-school" but was essentially a series on lectures on a subject we love. The title "Much more than Stone Axes" was obviously dreamt up by someone who thought we wouldn't want to know about axes (we did, really) so we were sad to hear the stone axe man had cancelled.

Firstly, Aaron Watson gave an animated talk about stone circles - what they are (they're not all the same!) and why they might be where they are. The most interesting bit for me was where he showed a series of images taken as he climbed a Lakeland fell, and as he became more elevated the distant Mull of Galloway seemed to rise up out of the Solway. This we know now is as a result of the perspective changing to account for the curvature of the Earth; but what must prehistoric people made of it? Did they think that mountains had special powers because they called up entire other mountains out of the sea? And what about the fact that it can be sunny and warm down at low levels but as you climb upwards, the air gets colder and there even might be snow on the peaks? Did they think they were travelling through seasons, through time?

Next there was a lecture by Kate Sharp about prehistoric rock art, a subject we are very familiar with and even so because some of B's images were to be used in the presentation! There were a few sites I hadn't seen before though, and I'd like to check out, especially one reused as a gatepost which looked great. B had to stand up and take a bow for his photos ...

The lunch came next; carrot soup and plates of sarnies, too many sarnies and no cake! shocking. I had to go buy a brownie.

B placed some of his business cards on the top table and they all went almost immediately - each a little artwork all of its own. Some people must have been collecting the set...

The talk after lunch was about fieldwalking in the Eden Valley. This was fabulously interesting to me and made me amazed to think this had been going on so near to us and we didn't know. They had found loads of flinty tools and arrowheads; just imagine being the person to find those - we might do some next year, it sounds amazing.

Finally, the last lecture was about the Brampton Lunula, an item we'd seen pictures of before in a previous talk about Prehistoric Bling! It was a gold fragment first thought to be a gold spoon but soon identified as a lunula, the true purpose of which is unknown but it's shaped like a necklace so is often portrayed as such.

So afterwards some delegates took advantage of the offer of free entry into the museum - something we are already entitles to as locals, so we headed home, our minds buzzing.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

FRED 2008 - Cumbrian Art Invasion

Well it's a sad thing to say, but our experience of FRED2008 has not been a good one, but I'll try to review what little we've seen fairly.

The feather was, well, a floppy bit of plastic on a pond which was starting to say more about litter than a "giant feather fallen upon the water, seeming to have been plucked from the air and destined to float with the wind".

Feather Fotsam, by Caroline Dalton

Then last weekend, we drove all the way to Dent because we were incredibly attracted to the idea of Line of Site by Jenni Danson, but when we got there the traffic was depressing, the artwork what looked like miles away, and they wanted £££ for parking the car (Dentdale isn't the sort of place that lends itself to fly-parking). So, I think we saw it, but it could have easily been a bit of gas pipeline.

Distant Line of Site

On the way to Coniston we'd tried to tune in to "Under the Waters" at Thirlmere. On the A591, all we could get was Radio 2 so decided to revisit on the way back north. So yes we did this, driving around the western side of the lake for the first time, which was nice. We promptly forgot about the radio, and walked by the lake instead, capturing a few nice dragonfly shots while there.

And last night, we decided to drive to Stainmoor to see Domestication by Chloe Burns & Hannah Stewart (I could say something here about middle-class pretentions, but I'll resist because I know it's just me being unfair) ... This one more than most sounded right up our street - "A homely glow, from abandoned huts along the railway, are people living there again?" - this had our imagination warking overtime and it would be fabulous with the sunset behind it, perhaps with the Stainmore rock art in the foreground - B had great plans for this in his head. When we got there, just after 7pm and after dusk, not a sign of it, and the directions / loaction description was crap. The A66 is fairly unforgiving to U-turns, so we headed home disappointed having wasted 2 hours and more diesel.

"Get Out There?" I think we did.

This year is the last for FRED - no funding or perhaps the director Steve Messam wants to spend more time with his family or doing something creative (his Drop is fab)

It's a shame that our experience of FRED has been low, I still believe in it and things like it, and regret that it won't perhaps be around in the future. I love outdoor art and to have it in my home county is great. But PLEASE make it easier to find and PLEASE don't make the homepage look so impressive and fabby - the photos made our expectations too high.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Autumn = Blog Update

Bless me father, it's been a while ...

Well the summer is over, and what have you done? Nowt much. Rain has been terrible, obviously, plus my feet are giving me jip hence preventing me from walking far if I wanna be able to walk at all the next day.

So a lot of my flickr shots have been taken from car parks and lay-bys and in gardens and not far from the car. I'm been semi-creative but somehow not been inspired - although visiting the Bead Fair at Rheged on Sunday was fabulous. I could have spent hundreds of quid ...

I've been reading other people's blogs - like me they sometimes have crises of confidence where they think no-one's reading it and are they wasting their time - well in my opinion they are sometimes the equivalent of the penpal letter to a stranger, only not always necessarily getting a reply. The doesn't make them any less interesting, and a sometimes so well-written they could happily be at home in a perfectly good book. Perhaps that's why I don't read books much (well OK that's not the only reason)

So what else has been going on -well some good friends of mine came oop norf from dahn sarf, the plan being to walk the Hadrian's Wall Path. Well that was the idea when the planning started, it soon became a portion of the interesting bit in the middle, but once they got here, Rain + Heavy Bags = Plan C. They are now experts in museums and the AD122 bus timetable. I think there must be some walkers out there that complete the wall in one go, but they must be pretty determined and also completely anal, let's face it. My friends took the better option of enjoying everything to hand when the opportunity arose, and found such a wonderful caravan they decided to stay there for the last 3 nights!

I visited them for a day and took them up to Kielder to see red squirrels, and lots of moss. They couldn't get enough of the moss, oh and the trees. That's two things we have plenty of up here ... and marshy bogs. They now know how the recognise the types of grass which like to grow in bogs (learned the hard way no doubt)

While at Kielder,we went to the Bird of Prey Centre at Leaplish. Now I've been to quite a few of these places now, and this was one of the best; they even had a vulture as part of the display team, and we were encouraged to pet a little Scops Owl called Tilly who just sat there like an adoring toy. She and her feathery mates were fantastic - well the pelicans were impressive but rather scary if I'm honest, and bloody huge!

For pics of the Kielder trip see here.


Monday, October 06, 2008

Sunday Breakfast Smile

Breakfast Smile
Originally uploaded by pebblesfromheaven
Toast, fried haggis slices, fried eggs, and tomato ketchup. Yum!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Dragonfly at Thirlmere

I'm really pleased with this photo! :-)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Race For Life 2008, with XL crisps

Forgot to say, completed the Race for Life again.

Well, we did well to resist the burger van beforehand, but hey there's no way we could walk past the crisps, man

Saturday, August 02, 2008

England's Rock Art - the aftermath

We're slightly hacked off today because some of B's images, with permission granted for use in the booklet and website, have been used by various places to report the story without proper credit given.

For instance:
BBC blog
Guardian slideshow
Guardian blog


One of the best photos, this one of Kettley Crag, is being used in quite a few places. It's a fantastic shot, and reminds me of the exact day it was taken. I still laugh when I think of the farmer's cursing.

Here's a close-up of the poppy field (well OK the closest I could get to with my zoom, thanks again to the farmer)

Here's a photo of the berries on the tree I was hiding behind while listening to the cursing:

And here is a candid photo of B at the site!

What more can I say? Just for now, nothing. But we will be having words with others.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

England's Rock Art - the website launch

Originally uploaded by pebblesfromheaven
We were invited to attend the launch of a website today - England's Rock Art

B took the photos used for the scrolling images on the front page, and they were also used for the front cover of the extremely flashy-looking brochure!

It was a great day where the volunteer team demonstrated the survey techniques, displaying models which could be viewed best wearing 3-D specs!!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Juvenile blackbird

... possibly?

maybe a fledgling from the nest about 8 feet away from this fence ...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Benny and the Birdfeeder

Mine, all mine!
Originally uploaded by pebblesfromheaven
Benny brought us a sparrow this morning.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Big Brother and Baghdad

I was watching some of the live streaming of this year's Big Brother House on E4 yesterday. I found myself warming to them as they were playing "Top Trumps" with nutritional information panels from food labels!!! That's great, but how bored do you have to be before you do this??? Hahahaha.... then, I realised I was sitting watching people playing Top Trumps with nutritional information panels from food labels...

And this morning, I was amused to discover that Nicholas Witchell is now BBC Baghdad correspondant. This is entertaining because up until quite recently (so recently the BBC website today still shows it as such) he was BBC Royal Correspondant. Notably a couple of years ago Prince Charles was overheard referring to "that man" in the phrase "These bloody people. I can't bear that man. I mean, he's so awful, he really is!" and old Nick never quite seemed comfortable in the role ever since. So whether it was his idea or the Beeb's, I think it's pretty amusing, and we can all make up our fly-on-the-wall version of what went on in the office of the Head of BBC News the day he got his new job .....

As a footnote, I'd like to present the following screendump I got from Seti.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Hammering Rain

Hammering Rain
Originally uploaded by pebblesfromheaven
I love weather like this!

So glad we were inside, unlike my neighbours who got a bit wet walking the dog

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Salome - Carol Ann Duffy


I'd done it before

(and doubtless I'll do it again,

sooner or later)

woke up with a head on the pillow beside me -whose? -

what did it matter?

Good- looking, of course, dark hair, rather matted;

the reddish beard several shades lighter;

with very deep lines around the eyes,

from pain, I'd guess, maybe laughter;

and a beautiful crimson mouth that obviously knew

how to flatter...

which I kissed...

Colder than pewter.

Strange. What was his name? Peter?

Simon? Andrew? John? J knew I'd feel better

for tea, dry toast, no butter,

so rang for the maid.

And, indeed, her innocent clatter

of cups and plates,

her clearing of clutter,

her regional patter,

were just what needed -

hungover and wrecked as J was from a night on the batter.

Never again!

I needed to clean up my act,

get fitter,

cut out the booze and the fags and the sex.

Yes. And as for the latter,

it was time to turf out the blighter,

the beater or biter,

who'd come like a lamb to the slaughter

to Salome's bed.

In tile mirror, I saw my eyes glitter.

I flung back the sticky red sheets,

and there, like I said -and ain't life a bitch -

was his head on a platter.

Ahhh!!!! Real Klimts, in the flesh, at Tate Liverpool.


Apologies for my long absence - it's a guilt thing. Too many other things to do, you know how it is. I've been spending far too much time on my flickr account hence the recent linkages, which are very handy indeed.

Update on the blackbirds: we came home one day to find the nest empty, after the babies were almost falling out of it due to their immense size. Our cats didn't seem too bothered; the birds got used to Benny asleep in the middle of the grass and just hopped around her! We saw one of the fledglings later that day but they disappeared after that; we just saw the parents again yesterday and they look as if they are now on their own... guess we'll never know what happened.

As the title of this post suggests, it was something amazing which inspired today's post. This week we've been off work and although a large part of the time was spent doing boring catchy-up type things, we decided to visit Liverpool because I'd heard about the Klimt exhibition.

I went to Liverpool with work a few times but didn't get to hang around much; besides it's changing like a very changeable thing at the moment due to it being European City of Culture 2008. There's a huge Arena now, which is where we parked, just beside the Albert Dock.

The Tate Gallery in Liverpool has Rodin's The Kiss in the foyer, presumably on permanent display. After a short wait (only about 30 mins) just to tease us of course, we entered the Klimt exhibition...... and were first greeted by a great wall covered with a swirly tree-of-life mock up. The ground floor of the gallery is given over to a display of the Beethoven frieze, so straight away the visitor gets to see the delicate gold-leafed meaty art in the flesh. I stood for a while to study the detail of the patterns; in parts rather sketchy but perhaps this was never meant to be scrutenised from 2 feet away...

A hop up in the service lift takes you up to the top floor of the Tate, where the full Klimt experience is felt. The exhibition is not 100% Klimt; now that could be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your point of view but because the other bits were Mackintoshes and general art-crafts-deco period, I though it was very well-balanced and broke the gallery up into sections which told the story of what was influencing Klimt's life. I particularly enjoyed seeing photos of the man himself, complete with artist's smock, then a real one alongside (strangely and sadly free from paint).

There are some XXX-rated images in a little side-room which remind you that he was a fully redblooded male who appreciated a special sort of beauty, most of it redheaded!

So there were the landscapes... the nudes ... the women ... all masterpieces.

But my favourite was saved until last ... I can't really describe how I felt when I saw this but it actually made me quite emotional - it was the beauty and the drama, the colours, the shine, the glow, the facial strain, the size, the familiarity and intimacy of an image which I've studied for years in detail, cutting bits off into smaller frames, focusing onto parts of it like knowing the back of my own hand. And here it was, slightly taller than me, face to face, in full colour, in the flesh, with gorgeous goldleaf frame, the real thing. WOW. It's bringing another little tear to my eye right now.

I bring you: Judith II (Salome)...

NB: Salome: Often depicted her as an icon of dangerous female seductiveness, doing the Dance of the Seven Veils and requesting the death of John the Baptist. Oscar Wilde wrote a play where she makes necrophilic love to the severed head of John the Baptist. Wow!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Barhill Bluebells & Birds

We visited Barhill Wood near Kirkcudbright yesterday - we'd heard it was a great bluebell wood but the view from the carpark wasn't promising much. But look what's over the hill!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Three chicks!

Trying really hard to keep the cats distracted as much as possible .. time will tell ...

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I knew I kept it for some reason

I've been browsing through some old CD-ROMs. I might post some old photos up soon.

Meanwhile, here's something I'd saved from an email; obviously a viral message thing being passed around in 1999.

The US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet 8.5 inches. That's an exceedingly odd number.

Why was that gauge used? Because that's the way they built them in England, and English expatriates built the US railroads.

Why did the English build them like that? Because the first raillines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that's the gauge they used.

Why did 'they' use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Okay!

Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that's the spacing of the wheel ruts.

So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe (and England) were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? Roman war chariots first made the initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels and wagons. Since the chariots were made for, or by Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. Thus, we have the answer to the original question. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. Specifications and bureaucracies live forever.

So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder which horse's rear came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman warchariots were made just wide enough to accommodate the back ends oftwo war-horses.

And now, the twist to the story... There's an interesting extension to the story about railroad gauges and horses' behinds. When we see a Space Shuttle sitting on its launch pad, there are two big booster rockets attached to the sides of the main fuel tank. These are solid rocket boosters, or SRBs. Thiokol makes the SRBs at their factory at Utah. The engineers who designed the SRBs might have preferred to make them a bit fatter, but the SRBs had to be shipped by train from the factory to the launch site. The railroad line from the factory had to run through a tunnel in the mountains. The SRBs had to fit through that tunnel. The tunnel is slightly wider than the railroad track, and the railroad track is about as wide as two horses behinds.

So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world's most advanced transportation system was determined by the width of a Horse's ass!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Beady Bird Eye

Beady Bird Eye
Originally uploaded by pebblesfromheaven
She's still there... it's 11 days since the first egg was laid ...

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Kilmartin Glen - the Reprise Trip

So we had another trip up to Argyll a couple of weeks ago (17th-19th March) because it coincided with B's birthday.

We booked at the Dunchraigaig House B&B again, it was fab last time we went so of course had to go back there. B was already looking forward to the breakfasts a week before we left home.

I can't blog in extreme detail about the wheres and whyfores because sadly I've not anymore got the luxury of being able to sit at my desk all day!!

We set off in good time and the weather was predicted to be chuffing marvellous, and it didn't disappoint. Better than last September when it rained for most of our visit. We took the M74 (ages since I last went up that road) but at Glasgow the roadworks led us onto the old A74 so we had a bit of a merry jolly through the rougher parts of town, past the Celtic football social club etc, but took note of the massive rash of new flats being built in that area. Anyway the traffic wasn't bad at all so we made it through to the M8 without pain.

Taking the scenic route via Dumbarton M&S, Helensburgh & Faslane peacecamp (resisted the flickr moment), there were some lovely views especially when we got up to the Rest & Be Thankful. Stopped there to take some photos (doesn't everyone?), carried on through Inverary and past the site of the Connect Festival (looks completely different in daylight - last time we were there we opted to dice with the traffic along the main road rather than take the swampy route back to the car)

We stopped by at Achnabreck rock art to discover that the carpark was closed for repair - however we found a good place to park further up the track at the top of the hill, which we wouldn't have know about otherwise! We followed a path from here right to the new panels, which were still covered in tarp. The good-old "hollywood" panels were further round the hill and I had a wander around while B took his photos.

then back to the B&B, and off out for a meal at the Carinbaan Hotel. Now let's get this straight right from the start - we were absolute PIGS on this trip and ate ourselves silly. We had three courses when we didn't really need it, because the menu was wonderful and the food completely gorgeous. We returned the next night, because there were things on the list we still wanted to try!!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hen blackbird on the nest

Here's my hen blackbird on her nest this morning (don't worry I used the zoom! and it was daylight so glad OK to use flash)

Saw 4 eggs in there last night

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The blackbird's nest

Nature is daft sometimes.

Remember that egg I found on the wall recently? It's been followed by a nest in the daftest of places - two feet from the ground above the place where the catmint used to be. It's been built inside a buddleia plant I've been trying and failing to keep under control. The egg I found was on the wall just beside the bush, so at least I know why it was there now!

So on Monday, there was just one egg in the nest, yesterday another appeared, now there's a third. I think that white bit is cat fluff.

So either the female blackbird is very very clever and has worked out that our two cats are slightly decrepit (until they hear baby blackbirds I bet) or more likely it's her first nest.

She's hardly ever sitting on it, either. Hmmm time will tell!

The nest is beautifully made, though.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Kirkcudbright Animal Park Baby Otters

This is the most popular photo on my flickr stream!!

It is *very* cute ...

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Domestic slatterns of the world, unite!

The above title was donated by my friend Fairy Nuff. It's perfect!

Race For Life - The Second Sequel!

I've just signed up to do the Race for Life again!

So here's an unashamed plug.

And this is an unashamed pug.

Here's my sponsorship page

Here's what happened when I did it in 2006 & 2007

Monday, April 07, 2008

Yay! I have two Solfest tickets in my sweaty inbox

Phew ... the tickets for Solfest were released today and as with anything else well saught-after yet trumpetted, the website didn't make it long after the 9am opening.

After two hours pressing redial, B finally managed to speak to a real human willing to take his credit card details so woohoo with purple stripes, we are going to Solfest again!

Wooo... Supergrass, Chas & Dave, Roisin Murphy, Alabama 3, The Pipettes ... gonna be a guddun! Can't wait.

Solfest 2007

Solfest 2006

Sunday, April 06, 2008

My New Website!!

I've invested in a "complete package" product which on first attempts seems as easy as blogger to use - that is to say, easier once you know how but better than trying to use html.

I've put up some photos of some of my jewellery creations - but I have a shop on there with the intention of at least making the software pay for itself!!

I'm quite chuffed with it - and although there's room for a blog on it I'll probably keep this one going with general stuff and keep t'other one for stuff to do with making jewellery.

So! Please take a look, browse about, and let me know what you think!!


Friday, April 04, 2008

Blackbird Egg

Blackbird Egg
Originally uploaded by pinkpebbleperson
I got home yesterday to find this lone egg on top of my garden wall. There is a tree nearby but it would never have a nest.

I wonder how on earth this egg got here? Did a bird just drop it off while passing?

How bizarre.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Whithorn Bead Pendant

Whithorn Bead Pendant
Originally uploaded by pinkpebbleperson
We visited Whithorn on Easter Sunday. There were lots of visitors there enjoying the view or the history ... I was doing this too of course but I was strangely drawn to the pebbles on the beach ...

I think this one is some sort of mudstone. There are some glints of quartz in the brown but it needed brightened up.

I used some terracotta beads from a necklace I bought in Lockerbie charity shop, with peyote stitching. I was going to add some embellishments but after wearing it on a simple bit of leather I can say that it does feel finished, and very nice the play with ;-)

Monday, March 24, 2008

Rock Art Necklace

As part of a colourway challenge on the Bead Buddies forum, I chose to use some bits & bobs I had lying around but hadn't found a good home for yet.

The rock art motif disc is from a shop in the Kilmartin Museum - I have another as a keyring!!

The little white stone discs were part of a bracelet I bought during my trip to Capri - a cheap elasticated number which lasted about two days before snapping - I made sure I picked up all the beads though ...

The plain white star-shaped and crinkle beads were part of a necklace I bought years and years ago from a carboot sale.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

And the Winner of Most Appropriate Acronym is .....

British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons - BAAPS


Thursday, March 20, 2008

Pigs and a Plane

During my lunch break yesterday I drove a couple of miles north to a place I've found next to a field with pigs in it - they are quite entertaining. There's about 4-5 in there but they are usually spread out and rooting and digging about with their snouts.

I had my camera with me and when a plane went overhead I snapped that too. This was quite close to the brand new Stephen's Croft Power Station which was due to be opened that day by the First Minister for Scotland Alex Salmond..... I thought I would see some interesting activity there but alas all I got was this lousy plane.

Anyone know what sort it is?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

10,000 holes in Silloth, Cumbria

Or at least one big one. Have you seen this picture?? It's amazing what the sea can do!

(from the bbc website)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Rowantree's Pinktastic Brooch

This arrived in the post for me today - isn't it fab?!?!

Thanks Rowan!!

Simon's Cat

Saturday, March 01, 2008

I love Northumberland

I have a very special relationship with Northumberland. It was my home for two years and during that time I made a deliberate attempt to make the most of my time there, and it made a great impact.

My desire was to move away from Cumbria to get an outsider's perspective; to try to appreciate what others see in it - but instead I ended up loving somewhere else - although in a different way. After all, I have never managed to forget that Cumbria is who I am.

Cumbria, and Carlisle, to me is like loving family because you have to - there are bits I am bored with, places that make me feel safe, and areas I know intimately like the back of my hand. I take it for granted and I treat it flippantly ignoring all those people that might be envious. Cumbria provides memories of childhood and of course contains places that will always be "home".

But when I lived in Northumberland it was like being on a gorgeous relaxing holiday that lasted years. The wildlife and climate feel different - not too much but just enough. The light comes from a different direction, somehow. I think it has to do with being on the opposite side of the same geographic coin - the sea is on the other side, and so is the land. It's as if my magnetic poles get swapped round.

I spent a lot more time deliberately exploring Northumberland itself, as opposed to it being a place travelled through to get somewhere else. Even now, Northumberland is close enough to be visited often and quickly, and is always beautiful whatever the weather.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thanks "Flame Force Five"!

Take a look at these babies:

Aren't they just gorgeous?!

They are proper real handmade lampworked glass beads. Made by playing with fire, so quite appropriate that they should be so bright!

Can you believe, I actually won these? By luck? Incredible! I never win anything!!

The deal is I have to turn them into proper bits of jewellery, which is a massive problem because I can't stop stroking them for long enough to see them imprisoned onto wire or cord... it's so sad.

Thanks Sarah!

check out her website Flame Force Five - lots more glassy loveliness

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Vic Reeves - what happened to your mojo?

Prompted by a conversation on one of my regular forums (fora?) I found the wiki page for Vic Reeves' Big Night Out and I've been having a really good chortle to myself, remembering how absolutely hilarious it was... and it really really was, not like some relived memories of other stuff I just thought was funny at the time but now falls flat.

I mean - Donald & Davey Stott - I can feel the tears of laughter now from the momories of uncontrollable laughing fits when I first saw them.

The catchphrases ... the surrealisms ... you could tell they loved doing it too.

The Living Carpets... Man with a Stick ("what's on the end of the stick, Vic?")

dear oh dear. I have two copies of the video somewhere. I bought a second because I forgot I had one. Sadly, I have no working VCR now, bless Youtube, I feel a session coming on ...

I heard that rumour ... you lying get! oh god ... I think I've fallen ..

It's not all walking:

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Unsolicited Speeding Stressing Fascists - another rant

My Dad got very upset this week because he'd had a letter that called him a criminal and warned him that he couldn't evade being caught and then tried to help him mend his evil ways. He was, quite rightly, completely sickened and got very very narked.

What was this letter? Who sent it? It was the police notifying him he'd been caught speeding. 37 in a 30 zone. Now, driving is his living, his occupation. He spends the largest proportion of his every working day ferrying old grannies home from the supermarket. On this particular time in question, he was frantically trying to find an address which he had been given incorrectly, knowing that the customer was waiting... in full daylight, on a wide open road (Brampton Road, for those who know Carlisle)

Now my Dad is a very experienced driver, very responsible, does lots of mileage, and prides himself on knowing the highway code inside out (albeit the 1965 version) so how someone with almost divine rightiousness can have the NERVE to send such a HORRIBLY worded letter virtually calling into question his ability to be a decent hardworking citizen is beyond me.

I can completely sympathise with him - now bear in mind this had him panicking into how he could afford to still live in the house, my Mam would have to go back out to work after retiring, they would have to not go on holiday and sacrifice any idea of getting the roof fixed. All this in a few seconds flat, upon opening and reading the letter.

HOW EVIL. If anyone EVER drops dead from a heart attack THE FAMILY SHOULD SUE THEIR ARSES

Yeah I know, I know, folk shouldn't speed... and no-one's denying that he did. But the criminalisation of people by the opening of a letter is plain wrong. And I've gotta be honest, right now I could happily drive a bulldozer right through the nearest BMW saleroom. The number of illegal drivers, those without insurance or a license etc .. those are the risky ones, the drivers that should be locked up and their fingers cut off so they can't turn the key in the ignition. I am so angry right now!


PS My 6 points finally ran out last month - so it's over 5 years since I felt this kind of anger. But it all comes flooding back. BASTARDS!

Gretna Green Starlings part 2

The next day, I remembered my camera. There were loads of cars parked up, two police patrollers and a TV van with big dish and twirly antenna pole!

I got this short film and the photos below....
I love the way the traffic noise seems to compliment the bird's flight!
If you watch closely, there's a bit where a small flock swoop low across the field.

Gretna Starlings

Gretna Starlings

Monday, February 18, 2008

Gretna Green - Swarming Starlings!

On my way home from work I come down the southern-most stretch of the A74 past Gretna. From there you can get wonderful views across the Solway to the Lake District Fells, at this time of year it's just sunset when I'm on that stretch and there have been some incredible pinky skies during this recent clear weather, tonight included.

While obviously keeping my attention completely on the road, and the skies, I am also watching out for those black swarms sometimes lurking above trees and fields in that area ... swarthy alien-like shapes created against the darkening skies... they are of course huge flocks of starlings!

Tonight I saw an amazing display. I came off the motorway at the tourist trap junction and headed slightly back north, just near the new Smiths hotel. There were already about 3 cars and two minibuses parked on the side of the road, their passengers all out standing by the fence watching the unbelievable swooping and dancing. I stood there watching until they all decided en masse to land somewhere towards the back of the field and the one next to it.

Why? How? Well one's thing for sure - it turns out that starlings are good at something, and are not just those noisy leather-jacket mobs that inhabit city centre trees just waiting for unsuspecting passers-by...

I'm gonna try to remember my camera tomorrow.

Here's a video taken last month

Check this web-page out: this was today!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Stoats and hot air balloons in deepest Northumberland

We took a flying visit to North'land yesterday to photograph some rock art at Buttony.

I forgot to take any alternative entertainment with me and the pine modern plantation was fairly sterile of anything worth macro-ing... It was sunny outside but freezing under the trees, so I huddled down into myself and tried to have a snooze - a mini hibernation, you could say. When all of a sudden, B stage-whispered "LOOK!" so I opened my eyes, took a moment to focus... and a furry creature was staring back at us! Another was running away - they had been having a little fight only feet away from us prior to them parting company, only to find human beans on their favourite high-bit-of-rock. A flash of white-tipped tail and he was away! We've googled them and we think they were stoats. No photies sadly :(

On the way back, took some pics of the WWII pillbox nearby and spotted a blob against the opposite hills ... turned out to be a hot air balloon taking off! Now considering this was about 4pm on a winter afternoon it was a bit late to be going anywhere in a mode of transport totally reliant upon none-existent winds. It came our way going right overhead as we walked back to the car. As we drove towards the A1 we passed it landed perilously close to some trees about half a mile NW of Chatton.

The tides were turning against us for a visit to Holy Island (next time, next time...) so we stopped off at the Alnwick bookshop only to find it closing in 10 minutes... so we headed home and enjoyed the sunset from the comforts of the A69 at national speed limit.

For a gallery of my photos from this trip click here

WW2 Pillbox

Cameron Balloon - landing!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Pebs = Procrastinator Extraordinaire & Bull Shitter

This weekend, I have been mostly thinking and not doing. By the time I've squeezed out all these bubbling creative juices dry, there'll be an awful mess... ooze all over the place...

I've rearranged my workspace, drilled some holes, joined a new forum, spent some money, spent some more money, and dreamt of spending even more money than that ten times over.

So I've decided I definitely need to sell some of my stuff. I have to get over any modesty, false or real, forget any excuses and just go for it.

So keep watching this space... please ...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

In praise of mullets

One day, the mullet will return. Think about it: it is one of the most practical hairstyles, providing warmth at the back of the neck while the shorter front and sides meaning you are not constantly removing hair from your face.

It's a shame it's unfashionable. It obviously wasn't always the case; and I predict it will return; although probably not until after armageddon when no-one will care about fashion and we will only have rats teeth for scissors. Mark my words you'll be grateful for your mullet then.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Back for good - or bad, not fussy

Hellooooo ... to 2008.

Last day of the holidays here and I'm getting really sick of the chrissie decs so they may get taken down today.

I'm in that panicky phase after the realisation that I've been off work for almost 2 weeks and I've done nothing but lie on the sofa and scratch my arse*

Saw "I am Legend" the other day, was pretty enjoyable. did lots of shopping and thinking and daydreaming - so what else is new?

*not entirely accurate

New Year ... New Me?

Happy New Year!

Well it's my last day off today (Scottish workers get an extra bank holiday for Hogmanay - not that they're reinforcing stereotypes or anything... ) so it's time to catch up, clear out, tidy up and panic in time for returning to work tomorrow.

Actually all those plans for making the most of time off have been wasted as usual. This is the point when I tell myself that lazing around is just as purposeful for its de-stressing benefits ...
The weather has been awful and I've had a cold; but thankfully we forced ourselves to get out on Sunday and drove all the way to Wakefield to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. The great draws were the Andy Goldsworthy exhibition and the jewellery craft fair that is taking place until February. Also, it was the only area within driving distance that was going to see fairly decent weather, so we made the effort and it was well worth it! I didn't realise how close to the M1 it is, and how close to a regular hotel I used to stay at in my previous life - doh!

Anyway, the reason I found out about the craft and jewellery exhibition was that I was researching Nick Hubbard. I have a silver ring I bought years ago at a Dazzle craft fair in Glasgow and I wanted to see some of his more recent stuff.

Here's the ring in question: it's oxidised silver, handcrafted - nice!

I remember paying a healthy amount for it at the time but sadly I can't wear it because it's a tiny bit tight - hence my research to find out if I should sell or hoard or wear as a pendant (still not decided!) anyway it turns out this piece was made in 1994, just before he launched his designer jewellery range which makes the whole thing a wee bit more interesting ...

There were lots of other pieces by other artists which I found incredibly interesting too... I left feeling so inspired that I actually had to get my sketchbook out when I got home, and had a sleepless night whirring ideas around inside my brain... fairly unlike me, I have to say.

My evening class has also stirred up repressed creativity which has been buried for what feels like years. I started it in September - enamelling and silversmithing. I have to say it was the silversmithing that caught my attention but I have enjoyed the enamelling a lot too; it gives real satisfaction for a relatively small time investment. I will try to post some pictures up as soon as I work out a good way of photographing it.

I was thinking this morning that I have been dabbling with crafty things (mostly jewellery) for about 24 years now. How scary is that?!

I used to sell bits and bobs to family and friends back when I was about 18, and now I often make things as gifts. I haven't sold anything for years, but that exhibition at YSP inspired me; I've been investigating other courses and possibilities to such an extent that I have been tying myself up in ever tightening knots. I should perhaps stick with what I know and widen the circle gradually...

Watch this space!

Oh and I might fancy a blog revamp at some point too.

My photos of YSP:

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