Sunday, 29 January 2017

This could get embarassing

For the last umpteen years I have owned a very basic Pay As You Go mobile phone. To give you an idea of how much I use it, a £10 top-up usually lasts the best part of a year. It is mainly in my pocket as a safety net in an emergency or, for very rare family text messages.

It cannot take photos as it doesn't have a camera and I use a wrist watch to know the time and a real digital pocket camera if I see a photo worth shooting. I rely on memory to know the date and a tiny notebook and pen to record reminders to myself about amazing flashes on inspirational insight.

About a year ago, near my birthday, I bought the cheapest and simplest 'smartphone' in the 02 Store because it seemed like a good idea to get more up to date and because 02 is the only network that actually works where we live.

Alas, despite the astoundingly helpful staff at the 02 store in Westwood, I gave up after a few days of sheer frustration, having only vaguely managed to switch the damn thing on and off. So I gave it to a charity shop and reverted to the old £9 Nokia pictured above.

To be continued ... meanwhile, here is a bit of 'candid street photography' taken on the fly with my ancient digital camera.

Have a nice day and don't do anything you wouldn't want photographed!

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Journal Admiration

 I am peeved that many once entertaining bloggers have jumped ship and now use Instagram instead ... and that to read their words of wisdom I am forced to have an Instagram account.

There is one benefit 'tho. I sometimes stumble over stuff by accident. Like the delightful journal pages from:-
which is published by a lady called Cindy, who has a husband named 'M' and a daughter referred to as 'N' and an obsessive relationship with her duvet.

As a total muppet when it comes to drawing or painting, as my calligraphy deteriorates with each passing year and ... well, you get the picture! In fact today, you get three of them. As usual, left clicks of your mouse might make 'em bigger, depending on your 'device'.

I don't understand the appeal of Instagram or the desire to share xillions of mediocre mobile phone photos with the world. Perhaps it is because, for reasons best known to the geeks of this planet, the platform is not available to those of us who use dumb phones and use cameras for photography.
I guess that Cindy lives in a chilly part of USA or Canada, but more than  that you will have to imagine or discover for yourself.
But, I sure do admire her skills and her very personal and unique style of journaling.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Post ParadigmShifting

Instagram janniemay 
There was a time, within living memory, when every English town, village and hamlet had a Royal Mail Post Office. Believe it or not, some large towns and cities even had more than one. You could usually recognise one as the largest building on the street with queues of customers snaking out of the doors. Here is a photo typical of almost any day.

The bods in charge of this shambolic organisation decided that the way to improve was to shut them all down.

Traditional Way
Royal Mail once had a useful source of revenue from flogging stamps to collectors and to people who actually wanted them to post a letter. Then, in further cost-cutting procedures thay chose to kill this golden egg laying goose as well.

Margate Post Office - still an empty shell for a year
As a result of these improvements we now have a tiny area in the corner of an ordinary chemist or newspaper store with a Post Office logo on a nearby wall. There will be four 'counter positions' but only one will be staffed so that the tradition of queuing is maintained. Instead of stamps the clerk ... oops ... Customer Services Advisor ... will print a sticky label and slap it somewhere on the front of your envelope or package.

The Brave New World
Oh yes! Paradigm Shifting is when a long established and universally held belief is replaced with something totally new.

They were only kids when they arrived!
For instance, like thousands of other small boys I collected stamps that were lovingly mounted in the pages of an album according to their country and years of issue. That's how many of us learned basic geography and recognition that Magyar meant Hungary and that Helvetica was Switzerland. We learned the basic principles of logic, order, classification, accuracy, type sorting and neatness. We even learned that the gum used on thin paper stamp hinges tasted foul.

But recently a paradigm shift ... thanks to an Instagram posting by JannieMay who revealed that her method of stamp collecting, seemingly shared by many, is to use a Midori Travelers Notebook with stamps arranged by theme like aircraft, or colour, or shape, or whatever.

As far as I know she simply saves stamps from her incoming mail. I was astounded yesterday, to hear someone on the radio talk about the latest 'special issue stamps' from Royal Mail who apparently have little or nothing to do with Post Offices or is it Post Office Counters? I had no idea that they still did this sort of thing as they seem intent on keeping it as a State Secret.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Anyone Can Do Seafront Photos

 Although I am not into social media, I am aware that they are awash with delightful pictures of our spectacular sandy beaches and sunsets.

Frankly, anyone can do these. I have even seen four-year old toddlers doing them, which is good if it gives them image awareness and art appreciation.

With temperatures hovering around zero last Sunday I figured on doing a couple of shots that would be totally unique as nobody else could take them.

At the top is my Ixus 70 camera that I has been my EDC [Every Day Carry] through January. Its only drawback is that it uses a Canon rechargeable battery which is inconvenient if it runs out of juice away from home.

For February I shall use the slightly more modern A1400 which is powered by a couple of AA cells, available in any supermarket.

Neither camera cost  very much [Like under £20 on eBay] and these pictures were taken in point 'n' shoot auto mode.

The advantage of keeping to one brand is that the similarities of controls make life simple. The way I like it! Each was chosen for the old fashioned viewfinder availability. If you have ever tried to see anything on an LCD screen in bright sunshine then you will know where I am coming from on this.

While the weather was cold we generated a bit of our own heat by redecorating a bedroom with a few splashes of colour to contrast with the otherwise white and light walls. It wasn't until I took this lower picture that I realised that it might look a bit like funeral parlour chapel of rest. I promise you that the casket does not contain ashes!                        

Last time I remarked on the way that styles of portraiture have changed over my lifetime. I have now found my only surviving shot from a studio publicity shoot when I was 21.

Ahhh Bless!  Strangely, I seem to have MORE hair now than I had then ...or maybe less grease.

Housekeeping Update:
My list of 'other blogs' was getting a bit out of hand so I have conducted my annual cull to reduce the list to five ... each chosen on merit with useful links to others if you choose and normally an absence of hard sell, hysteria, politics or foul language.

Monday, 23 January 2017

Photography Not Ignored But ...

I am still interested in photography. Of course I am.

But it is clearly unwise for this gentleman of a certain age to venture out into near-zero temperatures in the teeth of a cruel north easterly with nothing between here and the sea. No way will I be tempted, despite our brilliant blue skies and bright sunshine. That's why I may seem to have ignored this interest for some time.

Even so, I am managing to maintain my recent resolution to include more of my home made photographs and fewer imported from elsewhere. I have also been reading about other aspects of the pastime. Hungry Eye comes quarterly from a boutique publishing house in Eastbourne.

I was struck by the contrast between the style of the December cover shot of Ian Brown from Stone Roses pictured by Ant Mulryan  and these portraits illustrating a book review of Hollywood Icons in the body of the magazine, although such comparison was not invited by the editor.

The book features pictures from The Kobal Foundation and provides examples of the portraiture style that I used for my clients back in the day and even, whisper  it quietly, had a few of my own publicity shots done when I was 21. They were lost at sea, except for one which is stashed in an album somewhere and that I cannot find at the moment.

Far left John Wayne. Right Cary Grant. All pictures in this post via Hungry Eye

What the world needs now is love ... and a lot more glamour. Why not make the best of what you've got?

One we made earlier!

Sorry, Sally didn't tell me who the photographer and stylist were for this shot.

Sally is the  model that her Mum and I made earlier.

Friday, 20 January 2017

Frugal Friday Notebooks

What's in a name?
Well, in the world of notebooks, it seems that the answer is that we pay heavily for snobbish aspirations.  But as always, customer beware and you may pay less for lower quality ...but sometimes not.

Take these chubby exercise books for instance. At slightly under 8 x 10" with 160 fine-lined pages they are similar size to Moleskine Extra Large Cahier notebooks which have coarser paper and 40 fewer pages. The Moly has sewn lay-flat binding and a memorandum storage flap inside the back cover and the last 16 pages are perforated for easy removal. These highly tactile numbers only have a two-year calendar right at the front. They are published in USA and made in China. I got mine in TKMaxx. The sea cover was from last year and the mountain range was bought just before Christmas ... the best time for optimum choice in this store with pre-Easter a good second choice time. They last well and cost £3.99 each.

Meanwhile, over on EBay all year around, you might find these slightly larger than A6 hardback journals with elastic closure and around 90 pages for a similar price including postage. 'Designed in Cornwall' and sold by

Jumping down to the trio of cloud effect pocket notebooks, these are A6 paperbacks with lined pages and space for entry dates at £1.99 each from China via EBay. Their covers invite you to "Dream and Explore" which always seems a good idea!

Still on EBay I found these cute 9x13cm [TN Passport Size] little items, perfect bound with plain textured white pages for £2.50 each inc. p&p The covers announce  'A Little Book For Big Ideas'.

This Frugal Friday round-up closes with a brace of 'Kit Bag Field Notes' that have nothing in common with their famous USA bretheren and at £4.25 for two compare favourably with their big brother's typical £9+for a three pack. A6 size again.

If these prices still seem steep, there is always your local supermarket or pound-store where you may find a bargain if you are lucky. Just remember ,,, Caveat Emptor!

While politicians on bothside of the Atlantic are waffling about special trading arrangements between our countries, I was amused and delighted to see that good old Tesco - where every little helps - are selling reams [500 sheets] packs of 70gsm A4 white printer paper for £2.50

This is £1 cheaper than The Works and Wilco and £4 cheaper than the cheapest in Margate's WHSmith.

The Tesco stuff is 'made for Tesco in USA' according to the packaging.

I have been using it for the last six months with no  problems.

All photos taken with my Canon Ixus 70 camera set on auto-everything except flash.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Notebook Musings 03 - Personal Choice

A quarter of what was
A long time ago, like nine years, we made a conscious effort to simplify and downsize. We didn't go the full zen minimalist route but, with a small apartment it was a question of giving books and CDs away rather than adding new racks.

Over the years my desk has shrunk to a quarter of its original size. Although each of my notebooks has a life expectancy of just 12 months ... why would I want to keep them longer? I was there all the time and my memory is still good and anyway we DO keep prints in photo albums. How quaint!

The choice for a notebook / journal /chapbook was following the same ethos. But, A7 was taking it all a bit too far, so my little Rhodia was relegated to left buttock pocket of my denims for keeping the Caffe Nero loyalty cards handy along with various room measurements and similar chap stuff.

Remaining loyal to UK metric paper sizes it had to be A6 which was small enough to file and large enough for most uses. It also offered a wide price choice and availability even excluding all the spiral bound options.

Then I needed new reading glasses. I really did. That's when a move to A5 made sense, especially as my handwriting was becoming larger and loopier with age. But I was reluctant to see A6 vanish completely. Earlier I wrote about the great British artisan notebook covers from Devon ... Start Bay Notebooks. It may have been a bit arse about face but acquiring one in a generous Field Notes size was the catalyst in giving me a reason to set aside larger volumes.

So here it is, fully loaded with no fewer than FOUR Moleskine small Cahier notebooks ... I said the Start Bay cover was generously cut! I attached a biz-card holder inside the front cover and hey presto, no excuses for creative procrastination and a lovely smell of leather in my desk drawer where it lives when not on active service. 

all photos with IXUS 70

Monday, 16 January 2017

Nerdy Day

 Forgive the dark look of the pictures today. They reflect my mood of the moment.

When it comes to matters IT I am not the sharpest knife in the box. Most times I'm not EVEN in the box!

After trials and tribulation - but before tears and tantrums, I eventually managed the transitions from Amstrad Word Process to a desk top monster of a grey box and thence to a laptop. I guess a 'tablet device' could be a move too far!

I even managed to figure out a shift from Windows XP to Windows 8, the latter being surely spawned by a devil with a sick sense of logic! Then, fed up with endless on screen badgering by Microsoft to Windows 10 which I abhor, hate and detest.

Earlier today I fired up the laptop [which actually sits on a desk and runs off the mains] to be ordered on a blue screen 'Configuring Windows Updates, DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR COMPUTER'

Excuse me Microsoft! Who's bloody computer is it anyway and why will you not allow me to choose when [if at all] it feels a good idea to update anything?

A couple of coffee breaks later it deigned to start working again.

Then my Google Chrome search page decided to waft off to the far right of the screen and refused to shift back to the centre.

Fortunately I had read somewhere that it is a good idea to keep Internet Explorer alive even after surrendering to Google's incessant nagging about its wonderful attributes. So I returned to good old trusty IE and found a suggestion that, when this happens, shift a curser to the top right corner of the screen and just keep left clicking the mouse and, eventually G will restore to its correct centre stage position. As the only alternative seemed to be incantations and sacrifices at a crossroads at midnight I tried it. Amazingly it worked!

On a happier note, when redecorating our bedroom my delightful Brunette moved her collection of rocks away from its usual resting place and I grabbed this picture on impulse.

Then, whilst shopping in 'The Range' for a new picture I noted, but couldn't really understand the popularity of artwork consisting of nothing but words. A major player in this field seems to be New Yorker Conrad Knudson. I quite like his movie and showbiz themed collages but not for a bedroom. 

The picture about the end is surely part of a text from a T S Elliot poem?

Talking of art, our wonderful Turner Contemporary Art Gallery is between major exhibitions until next week. Why, I wonder, do they not have a permanent exhibition of at least one of his Margate paintings, a statue of the man and a portrait? They could use a corner of the massive entrance atrium and even flog books about JMW Turner and the DVD of 'Mr Turner' ... instead of tucking them away in the 'gift shop' which seems to move around according to the phases of the moon or the gallery director's mood.

I  started with a mood and I shall end with this one!

As Annie sings, The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow.

Friday, 13 January 2017

Notebook Musings 02 Size and Style

The vast range of notebook sizes and styles ensures that there really IS something for everyone out there. I reckon the ultimate buying decision is influenced by the customer's intended use, experience, finances and easy availability of the product.

I was several years into adulthood when Britain switched from Imperial to Metric for most paper and book sizes and, as quarto was only slightly different from A4, it was an easy transition for me to accept.

Less acceptable size-wise was the Midori TN system which I suspect, was created to ensure that insert users would be tied-in to their tall and thin proportion pages or, the 'passport' version which is a kind of hybrid slightly south of Field Notes and A6 in size but well north of both in cost.

I formed a teenage dislike for spiral bound notebooks since they were hell to arrange neatly on shelves and, a bit like those wire coat-hangers that dry cleaning shops used, tended to attempt a mating ritual when left alone for more than an hour or two in the darkness of a closet.

Plastic spirals were even more ill-behaved than the metal variety and, although I was often forced to use ring-binders with spring clips at work it always seemed to my tactile mind that the combination of metal and paper was never going to be a match made in heaven. I still have a scar on the top of my left index finger from almost half a century ago when a Filofax clip system bit back!

Staples are always a cheap option, especially for notebooks of slender thickness. But, even in premium brands staples have a tendency to rust with age. Perfect binding looks good if well done and where a lay-flat facility is not important whilst stitch binding can be cheap, durable and non-obtrusive.

Cover materials and designs for individual notebooks are limitless. There must surely be something for everyone somewhere? When it comes to covers for the covered notebook ...Midori, TN, Fauxdori and their ilk, then leather seems the favoured option with a scattering of fabric options for those who prefer non-animal products. I was once given a rubber cover which owed more to Dunlop than to Durex and made the apartment reek like a branch of  KwikFit until we figured out the source and chucked it out.

So where am I now?  Happy, that's where. And somewhere around this time next week I shall reveal the system that I aim to retain until ... but hey, let's not get morbid. 

Here is a clue. The innards are designed in Italy and made in the Far East. The covers once clothed an animal and are created by an artisan enthusiast on the Devon Coast who is so available and efficient that, even during the week before Christmas, was able to deliver my order within 72 hours.

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

January Book of the Month

The Revenge of Analog
David Sax
Public Affairs Books USA
About £18 UK
ISBN 978-1-61039-571-7

I almost gave up on this as I waded through ten pages of rather turgid introduction. Found myself thinking that, when I have invested eighteen hard-earned smackeroonies to be informed, educated and entertained, I don't expect to be preached at.

So, being a tolerant kinda guy I figured I'd give it another 20 pages before shoving it in the charity shop donation bag. I am happy to report that this is now a 'keeper' in my small 'to repeat read' library.

Author Sax has obviously done a massive amount of original research to unearth the movers and the shakers behind much of the back-to-retro success stories, to interview them, to report back in a conversational tone and yes, to entertain with tales of success.

He launches with a chapter on vinyl records and the turntables to play them on and their unprecedented popularity that sees old manufacturing machinery being located and restored.

The iconic Moleskine notebook brand features [with others] in the chapter on paper and the way in which perceived value and premium price can be achieved by creating an implied heritage or hallmark of fame and quality ... largely based on fiction.

As it is only a year since I gave up using film for my photography, I was fascinated by the chapter revealing the growth of the Lomography cult and the problematic 're-invention' of Polaroid instant film. Mainly 'millenials', it seems, are looking for something more permanent, creative and tangible than a selfie.

Turning to print the story continues as, despite the reach and low cost of digital publishing, both newspapers and magazines are enjoying a surge in advertising revenue, albeit with a somewhat revised business model.

Having owned a shop, we found the chapter on retail and the initiatives that are surviving e-commerce, an informative read and, although less relevant to our own lives, the subsequent chapters on board-games, education and the use of analogue systems in the digital world also followed a similar style.

Of course, only you can decide if it is for you, I guess amazon will eventually have their usual raft of reviews among their endless hard sell advertising web pages.

Photo: Canon compact IXUS70 camera on  auto+flash

Monday, 9 January 2017

Back in the Day

Sally B by Nikon Nutter 2009 via web
From around 1980 thru '88 I was a proud member of The Sally B Sales Team.

This involved attending many vintage themed air shows each year and raising funds to keep this last airworthy Flying Fortress flying ... as a tribute to the US servicemen who gave their lives from UK air bases during WWII

A key part of SallyB's attendance at a show was a swing band, playing on a flat-bed trailer, ideally in a WWII hangar doorway with Sally spreading her wings.

A guaranteed crowd pleaser that got people dancing and many crying.

From around 1942 to '44 we lived in a cottage near a USAF base in Norfolk,

At the age of 5 or so I would look out of my little bedroom dormer window whenever I heard a B17 returning from a daylight raid.

Sad and austere times and yet ... and yet ...

Anyway, with a little bit o luck, there will be nine minutes of picture and music, recreating the sounds of the times. Maybe above or below this posting!

n the Floor ' Jump Jive an' Wail " In the Mood " Moonlight Serenade"

Friday, 6 January 2017

Notebook Musings 01

My first encounter with the Midori Traveler's Notebook [MTN] was around six years ago.  Since then they have dropped the Midori tag from their name although I have read somewhere that their inserts are still made by that company.

Having, by then, enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle for the best part of 70 years, I was fascinated and attracted by the marketing thrust constructed around the theme of travel.With a fifth anniversary limited-edition produced  in association with Hong Kong's Star Ferries I was hooked. Some of my happiest 1950's memories involved those bustling, iconic vessels that are still going strong.

Nostalgia overcame common sense to the extent that I was able to suspend disbelief at the stratospheric prices of a square of leather packaged with a few elastic bands and a linen drawstring bag. Soon  I was hooked by their commemorative Braniff Airlines and Pan-Am special editions as again, these evoked strong and pleasurable memories of people, place and events.

By now I had returned to sanity. Almost.

I no longer travelled further than the local shopping mall and was too busy having a leisurely life to take time out to maintain a  journal .... although the MTN system is, I appreciate, far more than just a travel journal.

A strong selling  point of those special editions was the idea of a passport, boarding card and luggage stickers. Nice work if you can get it ... to flog a dozen stickers for somewhere north of six quid a time! I CAN see the point of some stickers, even the ones sold in Poundland for children, where a sheet can contain as many as fifty.
My current Start Bay Notebook will retain its beautiful sheen and virginal freshness without stickers, charms or other embellishments, but the idea of personalised stickers still hung around.

Within twenty minutes at my laptop I had created a sheet of eight that could be printed on adress labels. These had cost four pounds for 50 A4 yield 400 individual stickers or labels.

Thanks to MTN for waking up a hitherto dormant streak of creativity which has ultimately led to the serendipitous discovery of Start BayNotebooks and forced me to learn a little bit more about my computer along the way.

Frugal Friday

Late last year we changed the furniture layout in our lounge.

As a result we needed more localised lighting in addition to/instead of the main room lights.

Just before Christmas we were in Homebase where the newish owners were clearing their warehouse of obsolete stock.

We found a suitable table lamp, complete with shade and touch-sensor switching for .... wait for it ... just £1,50.

It looked so good that we returned later in the day for another three!

The long life, low energy bulbs added a fiver each but,compared with others that we had checked elsewhere, these met our needs and the price was right.

We hadn't even gone shopping with lights in mind that day. It sure pays to look around you with an open mind to let serendipity in.

Both pictures with compact Canon Ixus70 camera on auto setting.

Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Margate Happy

CanonA1400 compact camera on auto setting
I have no idea who this young lady is, nor the name of her dog.

All I know is that they both looked happy as they enjoyed a few moments of solitude at Walpole Bay.

Well, not quite solitude, because I was enjoying their obvious enjoyment from my cliff top vantage point above them ... and recalled other times, other beaches and other dogs.

A bit of non-melancholic nostalgia, access to the ever changing moods and colours of the sea and I took a few seconds of now time ... in the moment ... for a prayer of thanks, and not in a smart-ass way,  that I really am so lucky to be me.

And that has also fulfilled one of my New goals which is to use more of my own pictures for these posts and fewer culled from elsewhere. 

Monday, 2 January 2017

Welcome to 2017

 You have done yours haven't you?

Ready to fly into a wonderful future fuelled by wonder and enthusiasm?

If you need help, take a look at the link to Endpaper Paperblanks Blog over to the right.

That's where I found these reminders

If that doesn't inspire you, then take a look at Brian Mayne's wonderful system at

I first met Brian around 20 years ago when he was still developing Goal Mapping and I promise you that he is one of the nicest guys in the personal discovery business.

For more inspiration on a daily basis, then get into the excellent habit of reading Nicholas Bate's blog ... again, link on the right for succinct and effective words of help.

Whatever route you take, the bottom line is that you can come up with goals, aims and aspirations until this time next year. But, unless you actually get off your patootsie and take positive action every day, well I'm sorry, they just aint gonna materialise.

Only you can!

The only place where dreams really can come true is Disneyland ... and not always there.

So, like the song says, take your passion - make it happen!

Boarding Pass picture courtesy of Midori Travelers Notebook