Friday, March 31, 2006

Poor Prague

Heard on the news this morning that Prague is on flood alert due to snow melting very rapidly in the mountains. I hope the city comes through unscathed. It's a marvellous place. Like Galway, music is a way of life here, not an added extra or a bolted on bonus, but a completely necessary part of daily life. We went to one of the many church concerts, and, while it was pop classics fare designed to pull in the punters, the musicianship was excellent, and the acoustics in the old church were stunning, the notes just soared away.

People were kind and polite, although it felt strange to hear a young guide refer to the "Communist Era" as though it was remote history. My favourite ironic fact - the Museum of Communism is located up the stairs from McDonalds! (There must be a picture book in McDonalds around the world. May be people could send their snaps to me?) I also liked the potato soup served in a loaf of bread! The architecture is wonderful, huge buttressed churches, massives domes, soaring spires and the sense of east meeting west. I'd go back in a blink.

My fiftieth birthday was wonderful. I hesitated marking the occasion as I don't like being the centre of attention at the best of times, but I'm really glad I did it. I could sense people were genuinely happy to see me looking well and happy, and that made me feel like I was giving them something back for all the worry I'd put them through during my cancer treatment. It also reminded me that we should celebrate the victories in life, however small they are - they are very precious. My husband and best friend made funny, touching speeches, and for that alone it was worth having the party, so nice to hear good and wise things said about you - don't leave it for the funeral lol!

I got lots of lovely presents, including camera shop vouchers, and a special, photographs allowed, personal guided tour round the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh.

Then I got flu, but I'm on the mend now, although my legs are still a bit Bambi like.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

No time to post

Covered a Spring Flower Festival today. The scent in the hall was gorgeous. The old gardeners spent ages telling me how they had grown everything, they've had a difficult time this year due to our miserably dull Spring.

Got to burn all the shots to CD, no time to edit them just now as I'm off to Prague!!

Got to pack camera and clothes. Going to try for hand luggage only, which mean minimalist packing.

Then home for my party next weekend. Loads of people coming, can't wait to see them all.

Will post next week, doubt I'll have time before then.

PS won't mention p''ing again, have you seen the advert it's generated? It's for ur'nals!!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

more tree designs

Got to love Glasgow

I was through in Glasgow yesterday, meeting an old school friend and doing a quick raid on Primark. I got 5 tops and a fab skirt for £27. I have a little guilt that my shopping probably wasn't ethically correct, but as I was a Primark virgin until yesterday I think I'll let myself off a big guilt trip.

I drank water on the train, and then of course needed the loo the minute I got into the station. I was standing at the machine trying to find 20p, I had pound coins, 50ps, you name it - but not the right change. Suddenly this young woman thrust 20p in my hand, and said, "There you go!"

If I'd been in Edinburgh I'd have pee'd my pants before anyone did that.

In the queue for the tills at Primark, which was massive, I checked out what everyone was wearing and buying. Glaswegians have a lot of verve in the way they dress, in fact they remind me a little of Italians in that respect. It was absolutely freezing outside, but one woman had on white cut-offs with white stillettoes and no tights.

And a wee old chap with "bus conductress" blue/black hair came forward and bought a very lacy white bra. Nothing was said by anyone, but you just knew it was for him.
It made me think of the Little Britain trannie sketches.

I miss the West.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Been making brushes in Photoshop from some recent tree shots. The trees were bare and silhouetted against the setting sun. I turned them into B&W selections and then into PS brushes. I quite like this Japanese effect which I created using three different tree brush effects.

Sunday, March 12, 2006


Been messing with this idea of a poem about a bed, thanks to a piece I heard on the radio by Rachel Whitehead the artist, talking about how much we have in common with beds.

This is a draft, but I like the way it's shaping up


Hard slats over
soft tissue.
Two dream-soaked
forms, mould
and moulded.

Nightly stage,
daylight crutch.
The sheer
summer pleasure
of silky legs
between breezy,
milky sheets.

Bolt hole for
odd socks and
scared muts.
Keeper of
unconscious slivers,
buried hurts,
and secrets nursed.
No side,
and silent
till the end.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Having fun

New light table is amazing. It's dull and damp, but set up outside as this sort of day makes a great outdoor soft box. Played around with shooting tulips 'til it got too wet.

Husband brought some wines home to try for the party. Hope to sort food out today. I'm really looking forward to it. Going to Glasgow next week to meet a friend and get something to wear in Prague and at the party.

Thursday, March 09, 2006


Yesterday I went to see the BP portraits exhibition. I really enjoyed it, although the visitors' book had several comments complaining about the photographic quality of the painting, a number said it was all technique and little substance. But I thought there was a lot of variety and different takes on what constituted a portrait. I loved one title, which was of a portrait of an old Asian woman watching her two grandsons playing a Playstation, it was called "Gran Turisimo" . This is the exhibition link:

I also bought myself a spanking new Manfrotto tripod. My old tripod was a cheap one, and a bad investment as just about everything has stopped working on it. I played around with new one today, before it rained, it is incredible, it's jointed like a spider and can go down to 4 inches of the ground, just shame I can't! It also has a bar that can be fitted horizontally, and offset from the main part, and the ball head means any angle is possible. I shot some isolated Easter type stock with it, and was really pleased with the way it performed. So that's my birthday present to me. There's nothing else I really need or want - except maybe some more memory cards -they're always welcome

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Garden Trust

Got a meeting of the Garden Trust today. We're trying to raise funding to refurbish a public garden which is in the style of a formal 17th century garden.

The garden is now over 30 years old, but the site/area dates back to the 13th century and the walls around the perimeter were built by Napoleonic prisoners of war. Much of the origical planting needs replaced, there's a sunken formal herb garden, cottage garden, hornbeam allee, loads of old roses etc, etc.

We've been sucessful in getting some funding to pay for a masonry survey and some other initial scoping work. I'm in the process of putting together a promotional brochure to send with our funding applications. It's a long slow haul, working with various agencies, but hopefully we'll get there. It would be good to see the place in good shape for the next generation.

Committee work is often pretty dull and tedious, but nothing in life seems to happen without it.

Monday, March 06, 2006

50 Up

We're starting to prepare for my 50th birthday party. My husband's booked a lovely village hall, a friend is providing the music and we're laying on food and bubbly. It should be a great night. I feel really good about this birthday. When I hit 40 I was thoroughly depressed, but so much has happened since then to make me appreciate life, however it is packaged.

We're going to Prague for a few days in the week before the party, and I'm looking forward to that, it's a city I've wanted to see it ever since I watched those grainy black and white TV pictures of the failed revolt against the Russians. Our hotel is supposed to be small and friendly, and right in the centre, so we should get to see most things. I'm taking my reserve camera as I don't want to risk my good one, it's still too new and precious. Torn about which lenses to take. I have this fantastic new stabilising lens, which means you can shot two stops down without a tripod, but again scared to risk it.

Lovely day here, may carry on working in the garden, yesterday I tackled the horribly invasive jasmine, cut back about 50% of it, but it has rooted all along the greenhouse, which is positioned against a wall, so heaven knows how I'll get all the roots out.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Walk Thru!

I took this photograph in Leith. This guy parks his wee burger bar carvan outside McDonalds most days. He's put "Walk Thru" in blue letters in on the hatch glass. It just sums up the little guy to me - more power to his elbow.

Yesterday I photographed the hornbeam allee, in the big garden I'm a trustee of. We have a squad of tree surgeons in cutting the tops back to make them square again. It costs a fortune, so we only do it every two years or so. I love formal tree plantings. Girl with a Pearl Earring was fabulous for me because of one winter shot of a canal, with pleached willows all along it.

I also went for a walk along the local river yesterday with my friend, she sees her consultant on Monday, so she's putting the whole sorry mess aside until then - she has an amazing facility to do that. Wish I had it. We picked pussy willows, I love the feel of them, they really do feel like animal fur.

This morning I listened to Desert Island Discs - it's one of my favourite Radio 4 shows.
Rachel Whitehead the artist was on. She was talking about her breakthrough piece, which was a cast of a bed and she said how much she thought we had in common with beds. I liked that notion.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Mixed bag

Well I feel human again. But I'm sad at the announcement of Linda Smith's death at 48. I'm just one of thousands who loved her sense of humour, and her ability to be withering about so many aspects of life on the Good Ship UK.

The number of remarkable people that cancer robs us of.
I always think of this whenever I hear arguements about gene advances that may allow us to decide not to carry some cancer genes in the future - who would we miss out on? The very pattern of DNA itself was more or less cracked by a woman who died of ovarian cancer - Rosalind Franklin.

I got a call from a friend this morning, she has Stage 4 breast cancer to her spine. Her options seem to be narrowing down to clinical trials now. All I can do is listen and be supportive. But I hate seeing her struggling through the labrynith that is the NHS once again.

Things are happening in breast cancer - Herceptrin is a fantastic breakthrough, but it only helps one in five woman who happen to have cancers that are "HER 2 postive ". Sadly that's not my friend, or me.

Enough already, I'd better get on.