Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Added Value and Serendipitous Recall

And so we bid farewell to August and, as the evenings draw in and dawn is later each day, my mind turns to reading matter and, particularly a break from the non-fiction books which tend to be my first go-to sections in any book shop.

Yesterday we paid our monthly visit to Carole and Dave at Tiverton Books, a delightful treasury of second hand volumes in a tiny space 'Down The Steps by Smith's Court Hotel' and just five mintes walk along our seafront. They are open on Tuesdays and Sundays from 1000 to 1400.  See more at

Whilst there I stumbled across The Saint in New York, the very first Saint book which probably entered my life when I was about 12 years old and delighted me when I discovered that there were many more titles in the series.

If you thought that some modern authors are prolific it may surprise you to look around Google and see just how many books  Leslie Charteris wrote [He was creator of Simon Templar, aka The Saint] and how popular the books were in the 1930's, 40s and 50s.

This front listing shows how my 1944 edition was originally published nine years earlier and had been reprinted so many times.

I love it when a product offers added value to prolong the pleasure.

My all time photographer guru, David Duchemin invariably includes an on line bonus chapter or video for purchasers of his books.

Way back in the 1940's Leslie Charteris was ahead of the game with his 'Saint Club', a charity for fans with an annual subscription of 2/6d [twelve and a half pence]

'Salvage for the Saint' was actually ghost written in 1983 by Christopher Short from a two-part television drama. Its delightful cover picture is by David Drummond who has a showcase of other imaginative designs on his blogsite,

Loads more saintly stuff at

Saturday, 27 August 2016


Although it has been around for a couple of years and has an ISBN [978-0-9571637-5-1] this book proved to be hard to find. The publisher, Burton Press, doesn't seem to exist on the internet so I guess that it is a typical  made up imprint for a self published book. There's nothing wrong with that however.

It was beautifully printed by bortolazzi-stei in Verona. Hello. Reality check! It is about the ENGLISH seaside with emphasis on the SOUTH EAST and MARGATE ... so how the hell did it get printed in Italy?  The nicely bound hardback has 84 pages of thick                                                         paper. It is around 16 x 19 cm so it isn't weighty until you get to the text in a tiny font which is about as weighty and boring as it is possible to get. There are some 34 photos printed on one side of the page only and presumably to add bulk. a meager helping for a book about photography!

The two that I have included here are NOT in the book and yet they evoke the period and subject more perfectly than the ones that the editor chose to include.

The opening foreword is in a turgid style which, it could be argued is so dated that it is in keeping for a retrospective publication. The first section by J K Shepherdson [I name this child J K? Can't you just imagine it!] continues in the same pedestrian style as used by university students trying to impress  with a thesis. Why are academics so pompous? The book is about a fun experience on a light hearted holiday.

At least the closing sermon is by a guy with a Christian name, one Colin Harding, who unfortunately has a style that could even make good news sound bad. Can't imagine either of these contributors getting on our iconic scenic railway. I suggest you spend your £12 in Dreamland and explore the many more informative sites on line when you Google Sunbeam Photo images. By the way, that company's factory in Sweyn Road and studio in Northdown Road are still there but are now Estate Agents. Shame!

                                              There is the book that this one ought to be. It is planned for publication before the end of the year and is called 'Send Yourself Home As A Postcard'.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Frugal Friday [V8]

I first encountered Campbell's V8 Vegetable Juice back in the States in the 1950's.

Now that the Tesco price is £1.68 for a litre carton I am happy to include a glass a day, straight from the fridge as a refreshing drink with the added bonus that it is allegedly good for me.

Once upon a time I was a smokin', drinkin' full English breakfast and steak and chips kinda  guy.

Now I am not!  I still draw the line at nuts and oats and gritty brown bread but good old V8 keeps my eyes brighter, my nails from splitting and more basic functions regular.

I have no idea if Campbells still make it as their name is no longer featured on the carton.

V8 qualifies for a Frugal Friday spot because it is so thick that, after decanting my first glass, I top up the carton again with cold water and give it a good shake,

Now that's Frugal! 

This Ford V8 logo on leather recalls another of my '50s great loves and this upholstery pic by David Duchemin [my Author of The Month] evokes happy back seat memories.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016


For a popular seaside resort, my beloved hometown, Margate, has a dismal track record when it comes to advance publicity for events.
It may be due to lack of promotional funding but I fear that this perceived failure has a more deeply rooted cause, like lack of professionalism. This exhibition is a prime example.
Although I have a keen interest in photography and my wife and I follow local happenings, we almost missed this one. It was this seafront banner that did the trick but, as we usually walk into town along the lower promenade we only saw it by chance when taking a different route.
The exhibition supports the local availability of the book of the same name which I may review in a later post.
Based on the history of our now defunct seaside beach photography business Sunbeam Photos, it offers a fascinating glimpse of beachlife during the period of our parents' holidays. The book is available in the Tourist Information Office at £12 while the exhibition is on.
Although it was published in 2014 I only became aware of it a couple of weeks ago. See what I mean about publicity? Then it was allegedly available at a gallery in our Old Town which is rarely open, even during their truncated and web site listed opening times. What a way to run a business!

In case you cannot read the small print on the banner, the exhibition is at The Droit House on Margate Harbour Arm from now until September 4th 2016.

Droit House and Turner Contemporary Gallery
Photo: Simon Moores Dec 2010 with thanks

Monday, 22 August 2016


David duChemin is a professional photographer, communicator, author, philosopher, teacher and traveler. He is also a prolific author who has a rather confusing series of websites and blogs.
He qualifies for my AoM mention for these two [of many] books because of their useful and non-technical jargon-free and inspirational content that will benefit anyone contemplating or running a creative business.
The man himself has a series of free podcasts on Youtube.

I was going to send him an email and yet he says he can be contacted only by Twit, Bookface and the usual other antisocial media sites ... which is a pity for those of us who abhor and ignore them. His books are available from Amazon and eBay.

Saturday, 20 August 2016

Frugal Friday [Yesterday]

Friday Morning at Westwood Cross. Madame was looking for something in the ladies department of our superb flagship Primark shop.

While waiting I drifted around their 'toy' sections which are seemingly scattered at random around the store.

That's where I found this delightful and well made A5, perfect bound, notebook.

To be truthful it was the bling print on the cover that caught my attention because my daughter is a photographic fashion model hence a Vogue interest connection then, as a freelance magazine editing and stationery enthusiast, the odds were stacked for serendipity to lead me there. 

Just like the prestigious and, some say, iconic, Moleskine brand, this little number has a pleasantly tactile matt finish - possibly pvc type material - and even a memento pouch inside the back cover, an elastic closure and a silky ribbon bookmark. I didn't count the pages but guess there's about 100 of possibly 90gsm slightly creamy fine lined pages.

WHSmith sell similar unbranded and unprinted notebooks from £7 upwards. Waterstone's have various brands and designs of A5 notebooks from around £12 to '£ you must be joking'.

I had zero intention of buying anything yesterday, let alone a pair of anything in Primark ... but at £2.50 each [Yes! Truly!] I guess these two little beauties  will way outlast anything else that comes in pairs from that particular bargain store.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

New York - Old Memories

pic courtesy
The power of a brief moment in time.

This photo from 1950's New York instantly took me back to my first visit there around the same time.

I don't know much about fashion but I do know what I like and I recall that many of my girlfriends back then were into these two styles.

The slim tight skirts were known on board as the enemy because they revealed little and granted access  even less as many were worn over underwear like armor.

However, the full circle skirt was this sailor's favourite as the tight bodice granted a delightful and tempting view of the upper works whilst the slightest breeze would offer a glimpse of stocking ... oh how shocking! ...and the stiletto heels enforced an upright posture.

These ladies lining up for their 1950's selfies would certainly have turned my eye. I was well into photography back then so commend the unknown photographer for his vision and foresight to capture this moment in time. Ditto the artist of this portrait of a Mercury station wagon below.

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Name that ship


With fair weather it has been a good week for watching the arrivals and departures of ships in Margate Roads anchorage. Regular columnist, John Walters, of The Isle of Thanet Gazette offers a weekly summary which helps to identify those too far away to read from shore..

Last week he announced a really strange name arrangement for a small cruise ship which changes its name according to the time of year. This must create no end of confusion for the legal requirements and finer points of insurance and compliance with international maritime law. It is also considered unlucky and a curse to change a ship's name [which this ancient mariner believed during his decade at sea]

My four years of deck apprenticeship were spent aboard tankers named after the Latin names of shells.Appropriate for a company called Shell Tankers Ltd.

Then I served as a navigating officer on  several Esso Tankers named 'Esso Spain' [for example.] The supertankers were named after countries, the mid range vessels after counties and the smallest tankers after cities or towns. My next company named their super little coasters after Scottish Passes.

I served on a ship owned by industrialist Charles Clore that was named after his son 'Alan Evelyn' and her sister ship was named for his daughter 'Vivian Louise', continuing a tradition of Woolworth magnate W L Stephenson who named his yacht 'Velsheda' combining his kids names of Velma, Sheila and Daphne.

In the world of luxury cruising there are some imaginative names unearthed by Keith Dovkants in the September issue of Boat International. There are the rather indelicate 'Ship Faced' and 'Fartbutt'. The 'Fujimo' is an acronym of F-You Jane I'm Moving On.

'She Got The House' , 'Kids R Gone' and 'A Loan Again' grace the luxury boats where there may be too much information. I leave you with the indebted owner of 'In Deep Ship'.

Until next time, enjoy this advertisement for Azimut yachts, also taken like the header 'Sketch' picture, from Well a guy can dream n'est pas? Trouble is, I cannot think of a name that will look good at next month's Monaco Boat Show.

Come aboard again soon?

Monday, 15 August 2016

Magazine Monday


Magazines have been a part of my leisure and working life since my preteen years.

They still are although escalating prices and fewer retail outlets are allied with my modest disposable pocket money which  means that I have to select with care.

Until an entrepreneur with imagination and funding opens a UK chain of magazine kiosks which are found in even the smallest European tourist towns, we have a distinct lack of choice.

That is why I am in love with  Next day delivery for orders placed before 3pm, a choice of 3500 international titles and very fair and transparent  postage charges. 

Because I have a wide range of interests and a low threshold of boredom I am never tempted to subscribe by accepting so-called special offers or 'free gifts' for the privilege of paying in advance. The header picture shows some recent purchases.

Note that pro-rata monthly cover price is £4.99  for the gigantic Boat, [313 pages] which, despite its title is really a luxury lifestyle, design and boys toys publication.

Professional Photography has as many relaunches as I have had hot dinners, so by the time you read this it may well have morphed into another iteration of the theme. At an eye watering £5.49 for 114 pages it is a very special treat and never a regular purchase.

Amateur Photographer has been around almost since photography was invented. At  £2.99 a week or an astounding £12.96 a month it seems to have forgotten the meaning of the word 'amateur. as it features cameras priced north of £3,000.  Again, a strictly waiting-room only read for hospitals, railway stations or airports.

Because this is a UK staycation year for us, I am indebted to the internet for these final stock photos of Naples and Venice.  Ciao!

Friday, 12 August 2016

Frugal Friday

 Summer weather means lighter clothing and lighter clothing means fewer pockets and I detest carrying a messenger bag/ manbag/carrier bag so the zen like simplicity of my 'every day carry' [EDC] had to be further reduced.

There are loads of EDC sites around and it amazes me how much stuff some people load themselves up with on a daily basis! But, I digress.

As I am not into permanent connectivity, social media and personal technology, my mobile phone is used for calling a taxi or for brief text messages to my beloved. The little £9.90 Nokia was perfect five years ago and it still is, on Pay & Go 02 service [STILL the only mobile network that actually works here]

So I can carry it with no probs but, it hasn't got a camera so I went shopping for an updated version. Argos sold me an Alba touchy-swipey screen device for £40 that does everything except the dishes and was totally beyond my capabilities and needs. So they took it back the next day for a full refund.

I crossed the Mall to the 02 store where I snagged this altogether more logical and simply designed Alcatel shown here on the right.

It is slimmer and lighter than the Nokia but has a bigger footprint and that all important camera. It is probably capable of far more functions than I shall ever need.Best of all, the price at 02 was an amazing £9.99! Result! I can leave my little Canon compact digital camera at home.

I leave you with this thought, found on the website, always good for a quick lurk.

 Thanks for stopping by again.

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Summer Notebook

 It was an impulse buy once removed. 

We were shopping in TKMaxx and, as usual, I found an excuse to lurk around the recently restocked book and stationery section.

I was instantly drawn to this relaxed, cool,
coastline notebook. 

The gold 'label' on the cover is actually printed there. Alas, I was temporarily without funds so, knowing that most stores rarely move stock around, I found a hiding space to stow the notebook behind a couple of large hard backed picture books. Sure enough, a couple of days later it was still there and this time I had £3.99 rattling around in my pocket. So the deed was done!

According to the back cover it was published by Fringe Studios in Culver City California and was printed in Korea.

It was obviously not as old as the hills because the front two pages had calendars for both 2016 and 2017.

My handwriting is small with my Lamy Safari extra fine point fountain pen so I was delighted to find that the pages have very light grey and closely spaced printed lines on smooth ivory paper.

I couldn't find any more  info about this particular range and as they say in TKMaxx, 'when it's gone it's gone'. Well that's not quite true because I found another copy yesterday with a slightly bent back cover.

At the moment I have no idea what they will be used for, but isn't it enough that they feel good and look cool enough ... in the old fashioned sense of the word, to make me smile?

If you don't share my fascination for stationery you will not understand my motivation as I hold these pages of 'future creativity', at least not yet. One day you surely will.

Before I go, please take a look at the Baum-Kuchen link over on the right of this page and, while you are there, sign up for their monthly 'love letter' email where you'll find some fascinating notebook entries about this Mom  Pop business and their cute daughters.

On the topic of journals and notebooks, go to and

These are both good for a quick read.

See ya soon?

Sunday, 7 August 2016

Book of the Month

Photo by Terry O'Neill
You will surely recognise  Mr. Sinatra. Although he attracted a lot of negative press there was one side of him that always earned praise from his peers.
That was his sheer professionalism and determination to deliver his very best performance on stage, in the movie studio and of course in his recordings.
He was a major influence in my coming of age years and I learned what stagecraft I needed for my public speaking gigs from watching his performances on videotape.
Like many of my generation, we could also empathise with the emotions of sadness which Frank delivered in his albums of misery ballads.
But what about this next guy, who had a similar influence during my formative years?

Photo courtesy Getty Images

He is Terry O'Neill, master celebrity photographer and the author of my book choice this month.

I learned portraiture posing and lighting techniques from his published works and note that he shared the same work ethics as many of the stars that he photographed ... back in the days when stardom was earned from talent rather than a notorious outing on a tv 'reality show' or a few mediocre hit records and wardrobe malfunctions for the paparazzi.
The book in question is Frank & Friendly, a beautifully presented coffee-table book of over 100 photographs of Frank taken over several years. You can check it out, as always on your favourite book buying sites ... it was published by Evans Mitchell in 1970 so you may be looking for a second hand copy.

This final shot of Terry's wife at the time, Faye Dunnawaye, is also by Terry. I love the way that it sums up the loneliness and let-down in the day after a spectacular night before ... the Oscar on the table is a clue! Wonderful!

Friday, 5 August 2016

Woolworth, Argos, Tesco ...

In the days before transistors were invented and radios were expensive, most homes had one 'radio set', 'wireless' or 'radiogram' in the sitting room. This left Mum bereft of audio entertainment during the seemingly endless hours that she spent in the kitchen.

This was the cue for me to hop on my bike and cycle to the nearest Woolworth store for 9 yards of bell wire. With an old loudspeaker that my mate and I found in an air raid shelter we plugged one end of the wire into the back, ran the rest of it out of the kitchen window and around to  the sitting room window. There I used a couple of dead matchsticks to 'plug' the other end of the wire into Dad's precious radiogram.

Of course Mum had no choice of stations so had to listen to whatever was on the radiogram ... but she did have a volume control and an on/off knob.

But that was then and this is now.

So when the lady in my life announced that she needed a new kitchen radio to listen to her beloved AcademyFM ... a local community station with such a weak transmitter that a mosquito can buzz louder ... she added that it must be mains operated and small.

We found one in the Argos catalogue. A Sony ICF306 at £29.99. So we bought one. Despite the Argos claim that it is 'mains and battery' there is no mains lead or input socket. Seems that a DC 3v adapter is needed and of course there isn't one supplied and it seems that Argos don't sell them. In any case, why should I shell out another few quid on top of the exorbitant price anyway?

Tesco came to the rescue! Their eBay shop had this little beaut for £7.50.

SAVING: Around £22.Every little helps.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

How NOT to run a business

There is a company in San Diego California.
They have a website that must have cost megabucks
It features a product that I was ready, willing and able to buy

So how the hell did they manage to get it so wrong?

I ploughed through their badly designed order form. It was not until the end that they say 'we don't deliver outside USA & Canada'. What a shame as I live in England.

They do have a newsletter to sign up for ... but the link doesn't work.

They also have a feedback form because 'your opinion matters to us'. That link doesn't work either.

The CD I was going to order is priced at $11. But that excludes shipping which adds another whopping $7 for USA domestic shipping. So even if you live out there, you'd be looking at $18. Live in California? THEN THAT'S ANOTHER $4 FOR STATE TAX.

The website says we are sometimes too busy to answer the phone. Well they got that right. After six attempts I gave up.

I sent an email asking if they have a European distributor. That was back in March, no reply so  far.

So I figured I would order from US Amazon. Oops! 'We are unable to ship this product outside continental USA'.

I spent $10 to register with an outfit called 'MyUS' who order for you and then ship over to Britain' ...but the original site doesn't recognise that address in Florida either.

Then anothr 99c to communicate with an advertiser on eBay who offers a similar service? Guess what? Zilch. Nada. Zero. Diddlysquat!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I am waiting a reply from a USA supplier who advertises 'good used copy' on US Amazon to see if they'll mail me a copy direct. Watch this space but don't hold your breath.

Next I'll email a local  San Diego magazine to see if they'll send someone around to the store to buy the CD and  send it to me. I'll let you know.

Then I'll try a San Diego radio station and Chanber of Commerce with a similar request. Along with a copy of this blog post.

Ye Gods! Ya could NOT make this up. And guess who this shonky outfit will blame when they go tits up, as they surely will? Yep! Anyone but themselves.

Suggestions for the next positive step? Aw, what the hell. They won't respond.

If you know a Virgin Atlantic cabin crew member....?