Friday, 29 January 2016

Books, sounds, pictures

Last time here I mentioned a trio of books that are the most improbable choice for a man of a certain age, simply because they are the genre that is now known as 'chick lit'.

This has nothing to do with poultry farming or illuminations, It is simply a shorthand slang for novels-by-and-for-women.

Now I don't actually review books here as most have already been done to death elsewhere on the internet. These three woke me up to the truth of the adage about never judging a book by its cover and they were bought as presents for my lady love. Aw! C'mon! Italy, Brighton, Ice Cream, Small Business ... we've been there, done that and soaked up enough sunshine and coffee to qualify for the tee shirt too.

Here's the point for any guys who are reading this. I wish I had read books like this way back when my teenage hormone levels were thrusting at 100 octane levels. Better than any sex manual or pop psychology text books they reveal what girls REALLY think about and armed with that knowledge we could have an absolutely never known to fail advantage!

Although I have no musical ability, I have always enjoyed records since the days when my collection was made up equally of 78rpm shellac and 45 rpm extended play 7" discs.

We treated ourselves to a Christmas present from Ministry of Sound and their appropriately named triple CD set 'When Cool Was King'. This is an amazing collection of crooners, jazz bands and hits spanning the last fifty years. Recording quality is great and the memories invoked by some tracks are even more impressive.

59 tracks for under ten pounds. Great value!


One of my favourite on-line bookshops is found at where postage is always free, prices are competitive and the service is superb.

pic by Bev Sykes on Flickr
I especially like the little touch of their inclusion of a book mark with each order. They are currently featuring a series designed by customers.

The one at the top of this page was designed by Lakatos Istvdn of Hungary and the stack o books to the left is the work of Regina Vega from Philippines.

Next time ... a journal of the month for February, a personal confession and a bit of New York in pictures. At least that's the plan at the moment.

To keep you amused until then, I am happy to add a further three popular blogs to that list for you to explore over on the right. A lady named Nifty is behind and another lady creates tales of her obsessive compulsive journaling at  Paperblanks publish journals to die for along with a couple of entertaining blogs each week.  Find their posts at

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, 22 January 2016

Three Wise Man

Over at 'More to Explore' you will find stuff from three amazing individuals.

Michael Wade lives in USA and creates an entertaining brief blog with daily postings. He finds some unusual and practical material to share and is a wise businessman too.

Nicholas Bate lives in the UK and is another daily blogger who can share more business knowledge in 200 words than many books can do in 200 pages. Always good material condensed to the essence.

Patrick Ng lives in Hong Kong and was once a prolific blogger but, like many other one-time must-read writers has defected to the twilight worlds of instagram and twitter. Explore his fascinating take on retail, journaling, travel and photography at his Scription brand.

To Caffe Nero at our local Waterstones. They have a unisex toilet. It also appears that they have at least one customer who is more literate than the staff. Well, it IS a book shop! [I added the highlight here at home]

On exit I noticed a cute young lady of around seven summers, totally engrossed in a book as she sat cross legged in a corner. Once upon a time I would have taken a photo but since Britain's hysteria about pictures of kids in public places, there was no way I would take my camera out of my pocket. So, in a feeble attempt to share that 'Ah Bless' moment, I offer you this similar photo from Getty Images with thanks to them.

During the recent holiday period we watched this DVD set in Italy, India and Indonesia and we are now reading the book on which the film is based.

There is a three minute sequence in the movie which suggests that the antidote to stress is to master the Italian art of Il Dolce far Niente. [The sweetness of Doing Nothing]  There is plenty about it on the internet and all are well worth exploring.

I never keep my old journals. The following extract from The Heavenly Italian Ice Cream Shop by Abby Clements suggests a great reason to change this habit.

Someone once claimed that you can tell that an area is 'on the up' when there is plenty of building restoration work happening. We have two buildings in our street that have been stripped back to their 1890's shell and another further down, on the corner by the seafront, where refurb. is almost complete. Up, up and away for this designated conservation area?

All photos in this post were taken during the first week of January 2016. They may enlarge with a left mouse click or two.

Thank you for stopping by.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Coffee, Journal and Small Business

Around 18 months ago, we were delighted when five new businesses launched in Margate, not only because they removed empty premises from the High Street but, because they were potential coffee places too.

The first, in a former pub, took our coffee order and when I enquired after 20 minutes waiting were told they had forgotten us and 'gone upstairs'. God knows how, but the joint is still trading and has morphed into an entertainment and dance venue. We have not been inside since our first visit.

The next was a Balkan Restaurant, it was empty and mid morning when we asked for coffee. There were no English speaking staff but we did eventually get half a cup of lukewarm liquid that tasted of sterilising fluid. We left, never to return.

Almost next door was a boutique hotel with pretension. Despite the A-Board advertising morning coffee we were told that there was nobody there who knew how to work the coffee machine.

The 4th was branded as a 'chocolate bar' which is just as well as they served rhe second worst coffee we ever had in our home town.

And finally to Bentleys where we have returned every week for morning coffee and the occasional meal.
Bentley's High Street Margate

Let's figure. I reckon we've spent around £500 there since they opened. Sure it isn't a fortune and it is not all profit but the point is that the other four joints could've shared it. Could've. Should've. Didn't.

We have a soft spot for small business as we owned an hotel in Ramsgate in the 70's and a shop in Broadstairs in the '80s. Sharp eyed readers will see that I have added Baum-Kuchen and Wonder Pens to my list of favourite blogs. Take a look and you'll see why I can identify with them. As for La Vie Graphite ... I've been an avid reader there for some time because he is always entertaining, sometimes a bit heavy, clearly more clever than I could ever be and writes on a variety of topics.

And so to ,,, Journal of the Month,
Sometimes the only obvious difference between a notebook and a journal is the price.

After plating with various high-end brands like Midori Travelers Notebook, Paperblanks and Moleskines, I was delighted to discover something new to me at around $6.50 US or £7.00 in UK

May I introduce the Write Now series produced by Compendium Inc of Seattle?  I haven't seen them on retail here in Kent but Amazon can offer a small selection from the 41 versions that I have so far detected. They do seem to slip in and out of print from time to time and it is always worth checking the 'used' options where, even from the USA, postage is modest and delivery takes around a week.

The 120 or so pages which are fine ruled and feel about 80gsm are divided by eight double sided illustrations to help keep you awake, or focused, or to divide your entries by time or topic.

The flexible card covers are textured and, to me, the whole thing just feels right somehow.

And so to a final coffee stop which is more like an old-fashioned works canteen. It is in The Range at Westwood and although the ambience is missing it is preferable to the Harris & Hoole coffee shop in our local Tesco where words failed us on our only visit for coffee - how on earth can an outfit like that ever get a franchise like that? So we happily walk along the road past a few other units to The Range.

The Range snack bar at Westwood
Thanks for stopping by, please come back soon.



This is the fifth edition of my personal blog.
All previous versions, dating back some four years, have been removed forever.

To offer you a safe place to land.
To entertain you for a few minutes between more important things.
To keep my creative mind alive.
To hopefully suggest some new ideas.
To point out blogs from elsewhere that follow these objectives too.

Weekly updates, usually at weekends.
Non technical photography stuff.
Books I currently enjoy.
Magazines and articles.
Journals, notebooks and stationery.
CDs that we played during the week.
Thoughts on coaching, small business, consultancy.
Never any adverts, videos, soundtracks or other techie stuff.
Life here by Margate's golden sands ...

Now where's my 2016 diary/journal ?

Making a photo, notes and coffee at 0530 on Jan 02 2016
Look for the next posting soon and meanwhile, thanks for stopping by.

Mea Culpa

In my former blogs I slipped into the very bad habit of reproducing photographs from the internet instead of creating my own. Probably not a heinous crime but enough to give me pangs of guilt, especially when I was unable to identify their sources and give credit.

At this traditional time of renewal and resolve I have been clearing some stuff from my laptop computer to make room for the 2016 crop of self-made photos.

These are four that I had thought of using last year and which are all 'from elsewhere' with thanks to their originators.

This is from another blog and is probably a shot of Paris by night. Mmmm, makes me feel thirsty already.

This came, I think, from an instagram shot of someone's journal
... a left mouse click might make it bigger

This is from the home page of free photo editing site

And when did I ever need an excuse for a picture of Italy to remind me of vacations past and [hopefully] future.

Until next time.

Thanks for looking.