February 2009


Parchment craft, for those who know about it, is a combination of perforations in parchment, embossing, and using paints and various types of colour to produce some truly stunning work. At its best its beautiful, delicate, and takes quite some time.

However, its possible to use parchment paper without all the intricacy. An example is this one, which took me about 3 hours to do from start to finish (if you think this is a long time, try taking a week to do a card). This is simply a traced design from a book i borrowed from the library, some small amount of simple embossing around the oval frame, but otherwise i used simple colouring pencils and gel pens to colour the rest. However, its beautiful, and i’m really pleased with it – I’ll be doing some more of these.

card with matching envelope

card with matching envelope

Closeup of the central motif is behind the cut.

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showery stripe

"showery stripe"

Vogon Kwaltz (Ian McNeice): Attention, people of Earth. I regret to inform you that in order to make way for the new hyperspace express route, your planet has been scheduled for demolition. Have a nice day.

We received a letter this morning from Manchester City Council. Seems the small area of land that stands between the little estate that we live on and the main road is going to be ripped up – and a new primary school is going to be built there. This is going to have several effects.

1) They’re removing several footpaths between our little estate and the main road – now, in order to get to the main road, we will have to go around the school, in one way or another, a detour of around 5 minutes, depending of course on how fast you walk. In addition, the bus stop is about 50 yards from the end of the footpath that connects our little street with the main road, removal of the footpath will render that bus stop almost completely useless.

2) They’re digging up the land to build the new school and a playing ground/area where we currently walk Jess. Its a lovely stretch of green, with trees, where i take a lot of my photographs. It’d be a real shame to lose that.

3) We’re going to have to live not only with all the traffic and upheaval while they build the school, noise and so on, but once the school is built, there’s going to be immense traffic both in cars and on foot from people bringing their children to school every day.

4) the area is going to become even more of a crime/antisocial behaviour magnet than it is already because a) what are kids going to do during their lunch hour? b) people will be trying to break in at night.

5) This is actually inteded to replace a school that is about 500 yards away from where we live now. While i can see that the current building is rather old, I do not see why they don’t tear down the old school and build a new one – planners should be thinking of the environment and reuse of brownfield sites, rather than destroying green areas, that are used by the local community.

It stinks. and yes, i will be complaining. But for now, I’m going to leave you with another Hitchhiker’s quote:

Mr Prosser: “But the plans were on display…”
Arthur: “On display? I eventually had to go down to the cellar to find them.”
Mr Prosser: “That’s the display department.”
Arthur: “With a torch.”
Mr Prosser: “Ah, well the lights had probably gone.”
Arthur: “So had the stairs.”
Mr Prosser: “But look, you found the notice didn’t you?”
Arthur: “Yes,” said Arthur, “yes I did. It was on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying Beware of the Leopard.

At least we should be thankful we were informed of the plans before the planning permission was granted, i suppose…

* quotes from “Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

We have a new nephew! He made his entrance into the world yesterday, surprising his mom with a (very) early morning entrance after just 6 hours of labour. He’s a gorgeous boy, i can’t put his name or a photo here, but he does weigh just over 7 pounds, which is a good weight. He’s a nephew on Michiel’s side of the family, so everyone is really pleased and happy to welcome him to the family!

Card and envelope, with matching designs

Card and envelope, with matching designs

Of course i had to do a card to mark the occasion, so this is going in the post tomorrow to the baby’s Mum and Dad. Its quite funny, because i went to the card and crafts shop in Ashton Under Lyne yesterday, and picked up not only a stack of blank cards, but also a lovely teddybear stencil that i used to make this card (and had a long chat with the proprietor of the store about parchment craft – he’s a minefield of knowledge on the subject, and runs classes, which I’m hoping to get to go to at some point. If you fancy a visit, the shop is called “Rooky Crafts” and its  on Stamford Street Central in the centre of Ashton Under Lyne). There’s a closeup of the central design behind the cut.

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[caveat: this year. and from me.]

The grand final was last night. What a night! Both Michiel and i were on the seat of the sofa, riveted to the screen, occasionally groaning in absolute desire and longing to taste some of the food that the judges were lucky enough to get their mitts on.. Rooting for the guy we wanted to win.. and finally, he did.

I have to say, i think the right guy won (Matt).

Michiel was saying last night that Matt, towards the end, consistently showed that he was listening to not only the judges but the chefs around him, learning and soaking up like a veritable sponge, and this really showed in his final dishes. The pressure test, I had to laugh when Greg was about to bark about “too many ingredients on the plate!” before he’d even tasted it, then stopped himself (said as much), shut up and tasted it first. The surprise was clear on his face (and the greed on his face when he practically broke the spoon that held the little creme brulee on the canape test made me laugh, although i have to say, i’d probably break a few myself. And those clams? They looked so gorgeously pretty.) And the final dishes were simply exquisite. Trio of wild rabbit as a starter, spider crab thermidor for his main, and Lavender mousse with honeycomb and blackberry sauce for a pudding. You can see pictures of his dishes on this page.

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The initial “Photo-a-day” challenge comes to an end tomorrow. It was only supposed to be for the month of february, and i really was only joining it to help encourage my friend, Sez, into taking more photographs, as she loves photography but struggles with motivation at times (and she’s taken some fabulous photos this month – if you like photography, you’d do well to wander over and have a good look through her work). However, to my surprise, I’ve really enjoyed the whole process of taking photographs and learning about what makes a good photograph – before, i loved photography but it was mainly a thing i did in order to record things. Now, i’m seeing it as a hobby in its own right.

So, I’m thinking i want to continue this in some way. But i’m very torn as to exactly how to do so. Do i continue with photo-a-day at all? Do i continue with it in the current format? do i continue but put each entry behind a cut so it doesn’t clutter the front page? do i stop posting a photo every day but instead, put it on a sort of calender format on the “photograph” page (there’s one there for the month of february if you’d like to see what i’m talking about). There may be other options for displaying photo-a-days that i haven’t thought about.

Either way: since i can’t decide, I’m asking you guys to help me out a bit. break out your forefinger, press the buttons! Say what you think! I know i’ve got readers out there – around 150 a day – so.. c’mon. say your bit!

Thanks for voting! I’ll make a decision on Tuesday. Last Photo-a-day tomorrow.. unless i decide to continue, anyway!

shattered - broken window, spotted in Ashton Under Lyne.

"shattered" - broken window, spotted in Ashton Under Lyne.

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