Saturday, 27 February 2010

Traversing Pastyland - Drowned Cat

On Thursday, I took my camera out and after my errands in town, I went for another long walk through the town, up around Pendennis peninsula and down to Gylly beach.

It was lovely to get out in the slight drizzle, because I always find it clears the air. Especially by the water, I think the salty air and the right amount of dampness has helped my sinuses a lot (now I understand why the Victorians placed so much medicinal value in a holiday by the sea!) Before I lived by the sea, as well as my sinus problems, I used to get terrible headaches linked to atmospheric pressure when there's a storm coming. Apparently, by the sea the ions in the air are different, and less likely to cause the pressure.

It began as a pleasantly 'fresh' walk to the headland, where I took some pictures of the view...looking out at the little outpost of Pendennis Castle there, to the left as you reach the point of the peninsula (coming up from the 'docks' side). The white 'arrow' of an old sign spoils the shot a bit I think!

A bike left waiting for a ride home...I think there's a scientific law that dictates if you see a bike with a basket, artistically leaning against a physically have to take a photo of it!

...I headed down the other side of the peninsula from here, then eventually came to the long straight road that leads past the little strip called Castle Beach. Looking down at the thinning patch of sand, I saw a figure in black with a black dog, walking on the beach...I wonder if she knew how striking she looked down there, on that deary, drizzly day... a dark shape moving against the pale sand?

She probably had her mind on a hot cup of tea, like I did! On the road, I saw the cars switch on their headlights...

As you can see here, it's a long, straight stretch down to Gyllyngvase, which is just around the bend in the distance. On a clearer day, by this time there'd have been the beginnings of a striking sunset over the sea ahead to the left.

I had planned on going as far as the next beach along and then back home via the nature was not to be - by the time I got to Gylly, what had begun as a light spattering of drizzle-rain had become what we Northerners call 'Chooking it down'! The problem with wearing glasses, is that when it rains, you can't see. I had to take my glasses off to cross the road - I'm only mildly short-sighted, enough to need glasses, but I can cope without my glasses for short lengths of time as long as I don't need to see detailed signs etc.

By the time I headed up the hill to my home, my hair was soaked through, my glasses covered in raindrops, my coat soggy and a good couple of inches at the bottom of my jeans were wet through. I got home, turned on the heater, changed into my pjs and set about making a lasagne for dinner...the perfect, cosy end to my walk!

I went for another, longer walk the next day - the same route but with Swanpool beach included as the weather was much better...naturally, on this beautiful day for photos...I didn't have my camera with me! But then, photos of Cornwall in wet weather are probably more representative of what it's often like here...

If you enjoyed this little dose of armchair tourism (or should that be computer desk chair tourism?) please do take a look at the rest of the pictures I took, in my flickr album here.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Birds V Butterflies

I can never decide which I like best, birds or butterflies...but I know I want ALL of these!

Butterfly necklace by gossimarwings
Butterfly mobile by zsazsa32
Bird necklace by sophiehillartist
Natural History pillow/cushion by norajane
Owl brooch by jennymccabe
Blue nest pillow/cushion by willywaw
Bird brooch by arcticcircles
Butterfly cuff by julishland
'Flight' pillow/cushion by modernradar

All available to buy direct from the makers on!

Monday, 22 February 2010

Gonna go for a walk in the rain...

Last week, I was pretty lucky with my daily walks always being during a dry (or relatively dry) spell of weather. I don't mind the rain (I grew up in Lancashire, which is kind of Britain's equivalent of Seattle!) and I do love the beautiful patterns falling droplets make in puddles, hence the inspiration for these brooches:

But if I went walking in pouring rain for 2 hours, I know that would be pretty miserable. I've been thinking about saving up for some waterproof trousers, and definitely on the hunt for a good raincoat. I know just what I want - a knee length mac with a hood, in a fitted shape, ideally either blue or a nice red.

I stumbled across this video on youtube that has made me a little more eager to be out in the rain, though: here, we have the fascinating (to me, anyway!) science of water droplets. If you're not interested in science-talk, you can watch this without sound to appreciate the close-up shots (starting 20 seconds into the video)

Friday, 19 February 2010

12 virgins

Playing around on Etsy's Pounce Undiscovered tool yesterday, I found 12 great items from shops that were amazingly yet to have a sale on Etsy. In the spirit of newness that this time of year has filled me with...I present to you 12 (Etsy) virgins!

Check out the treasury list I made here
(it expires on Sunday February 21st)
These sellers are: rocketweeddesigns, JennDiggs, eloriamarie, WornTornandReborn, DayView, nintajewellery, CasaDiAries, RevolutionaryWoolens, ohsoquiet83, alicesbeads, thesoapaddict and JaninaGrigore

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Small, green and split three ways

Over time, a lot of people have asked me where I get my ideas from, and I used to be a bit stumped to answer. I don't mean to sound arrogant when I say this - not at all - but the ideas pretty much come to me. Even when I don't ask them to...they're a bit like dreams in that respect. When you close your eyes at night, you don't think "tonight I'll have a dream that I'm about to catch a train with my mum who is Lauren Graham in this dream, and we'll be carrying old shoes and keep dropping them" (and yet I really did dream that once)

Dreams are very rarely intentional - the dream comes, out of the dark little pockets of your mind that have been quietly collecting the jigsaw pieces of the day - things you've thought about, snippets of conversation, fleetingly seen oddments, clips from films and songs. The little pockets collect these pieces and while you're asleep, they try to put the pieces together, mixing them with older pieces, in the dark. And sometimes, unexpectedly, two mismatched jigsaw pieces will fit somehow and become a story. I believe that ideas come the same way. The main difference being that some people can access those dark pockets full of jigsaw pieces whilst they're wide awake and doing something boring like chopping an onion. Sometimes the jigsaw pieces spill out to the front of your mind without you asking for them.

I often wish that J.K. Rowling's 'pensieve' idea was a real life gadget. The ability to take thoughts and memories out of your mind for a bit, to relieve yourself for a while, is very appealing to me. I think it is both a blessing and a curse for creatively minded people - the sudden inspirations, that leave your mind running at a mile a minute. Notepad and pen in hand, trying to scribble down and keep up with an unexpected flow of 'jigsaw piece' ideas.

I have found that sketching out thoughts and noting down ideas is a good thing - an essential thing when I find myself awake at 2am, unable to switch off the flow of jigsaw pieces until I've 'got it all out'. I have ideas for the Treacle Toffee shop, for Scatterbox Originals, my oldest shop...and now I find a new and different thing has been born in my mind...and after a while, I gave it a name that I liked, and quietly snaffled up the domain on Etsy. The third shop is, I suppose, my way of having another table to put my interesting new jigsaw close as I can get to a pensieve.

The New Idea is involves recycling as a main feature, and there are a few potential types of items I'd like to make, but there's a theme, running through all the designs, of woollen stitches. I had a discussion recently with a good friend (the kind of friend who wisely always tells you the absolute truth) and she said to me "why have three shops on Etsy?" She raised a good point - promoting three shops is, basically, thrice the work. I currently have two blogs - this one and also for my original Etsy shop. I thought that I should promote each shop separately, which meant separate blogs.

Now I have given it a lot of thought, on my long walks. For now, yes...I will have three shops. I feel it will help me to keep track of how each type of idea that I have goes down with buyers. But as for the blogs, I think I need to be more cohesive. Keeping up two blogs has been tricky. It's all very well when it comes to talking specifically about designs and ideas for one shop, but I often want to blog about Other Things (like my walking post, below, or my recipies posts) I may have three shops on Etsy, and they may have different styles and likely different audiences, but I am one woman. The same woman who came up with El Bandido also came up with organic cotton feathery patterned handbags. The same woman finished a degree in Illustration five years ago, ate the same breakfast this morning (peanut butter on toast followed by homemade banana cake and a mug of tea), the same woman is wearing the same pair of socks right now. Actually she's wearing two pairs of socks at once, because they're getting thin and she needs more cushioning for all the 5 mile walks she's doing...but you get the point!

So, folks, what I intend to do is focus myself on one blog for all three Etsy shops (I will most likely keep my less-known, quieter blog for my Illustration endeavours separate for now). This blog is my youngest one, but for the rather dull reason of it being easiest to type, this will be my main blog now. For anyone wishing to only see posts relating to a particular shop, I'm going to try to tag each post with it's relevant shop name, if it relates to one in particular, or 'all shops' if it is a more general post. The 'scatterbox blog' will remain up and viewable, if anyone wants to see it.

I want to do all three shops justice, which means that I am going to become more focussed in what I do within each shop, more specific in terms of items. For Treacle Toffee, and Scatterbox Originals, this means I am gradually going to try to streamline what I make, focusing on popular designs.

As far as the New Shop goes, the name is JumpUp and I'm hoping to have it up and running by early Spring.

This is a brief preview of some of the jigsaw pieces that are beginning to make up JumpUp (very rough sketches here are all for plush dolls, but you can see the shop's main page: for the current 'sections' I intend to have)

I hope that you, dear blog readers, will support these changes. Thanks, as always, for reading!


Traversing Pastyland

Since my last post about my new year's resolutions, I thought it was about time for a progress report. The resolution to go for a walk every day has been going really well. I had one day when I was too much ill with a cold to venture outside, but other than that I have been outside for a walk of some kind, every single day since January the first.

I began slowly, not wishing to give my muscles the shock of their lives...little quick walks around the block and back inside for a cup of tea. It would take me less than 5 minutes, the 'block' being pretty small. Now, for a daily walk, this was obviously unimpressive in the extreme. I vowed to myself that I'd slowly increase the length of my walks, increase my fitness and hopefully shift some of my 'Christmas weight'.

Confession: I used to hate Walkers. Not people who walk in general (after all, walking is pretty handy in getting from A to B, especially when like me, you don't drive) but people who Walk, capital wuh, kitted out in proper walking gear, grasping waterproof maps, be-anoraked, be-compassed, be-noculared... frankly, I found all the accessories a little absurd. I'd pass by groups of Ramblers in the town centre and puzzle at them clutching onto hiking sticks (which are like walking sticks for people who don't have a bad back and want to burn more calories walking, apparently)

And then it happened.
It began with a particularly energetic walk around the block. I came to the turning to head home and glanced down the road...this was a route I knew very well. It's my route to work, my route to the local mini-supermarket, the way down to the shops. I looked at my watch and set off down the hill. Before I knew it, I'd gathered momentum. I walked through the town centre, passed the closed shops and Falmouth's many bakeries (this county is famous for pasties, and we have approximately 10 to 12 bakeries and dedicated pasty shops at my last estimate - I'll write more about pasties another time...), passed the National Maritime Museum (worth a visit) and up along a residential area that took me to the road the local art college (where I got my Illustration degree) is on, then headed up a slight hill and I was home. I mapped the route on a map of the town that I have at home, and calculated that I'd walked about 3 miles in a little under an hour. I felt encouraged knowing that 3 miles had actually been quite easy.

Since then, I've gradually been challenging myself more and more. I now have a regular 5 mile route through town that takes me on a scenic route through both the town centre and the rural headland of Pendennis peninsular. Plugged in to my MP3 player, I power through the uphill parts with something upbeat - Walk Like an Egyptian by The Bangles does the trick, Trains to Brazil by the Guillemots is best - and soothe myself along the flat parts listening to Einaudi as the sun sets ahead of me. I find the long walks are good for me in terms of fitness but also in terms of having time to think. I can let myself ponder a new idea or a thing I need to do, and when I get home I feel invigorated. It's enough to make me want to buy a waterproof and a compass!

Yesterday, I decided to take some photos to show you. I've realised that I live in a popular tourist destination, a lovely part of the world, and yet I never really blog about it. The plan was to take a picture every mile or so...but my camera's batteries didn't have as much energy in them as I did! But here is a bit of the scenery I managed to capture.

This is a view from the South West Coastal Path, 20 minutes in to my walk route yesterday. This is the part that runs between Swanpool Beach and Gyllyngvase Beach (that's a lotta consonants for anyone unfamiliar with Cornish placenames - you say it 'gill-ing-vayz' - with a hard 'g' - most locals refer to it as 'Gylly') This path meanders along the coast line, views of the sea visible between the bushes to the right. You can just about make out Pendennis castle in the distance there.

Heading further along, Gylly comes into view. It isn't a very sandy beach, it's partly shingle (in places, it resembles cat litter!) but it's a popular spot even in winter. Here you can see the large houses along the seafront. One thing that struck me when I first moved here was that although this is a tourist destination, Brighton it ain't. Note the absence of neon lights, hot dog stands and donkey rides. Cornwall's coast, at least for most of the year, is 'au natural', and for my part I like it that way. Even in high summer the tacky plastic souvenirs are pretty minimal. There's a nice cafe that overlooks the beach, with a veranda. One of these days I'll walk there earlier in the afternoon and stop for a cup of tea, I think.

From this point just before Gylly, there's a nice panorama of the Pendennis headland that I was about to walk around. The camera may make it look a little further away than it is, but that castle on the far right was my halfway point for the walk. That is Pendennis Castle, built by Henry VIII (well, ordered-to-be-built by him, in any case) - Falmouth has been an important part of England's defences for a long time!

I think I've probably rambled on enough now (har har) but I plan on making this a regular topic for the blog. Next time, I will make sure I have enough battery-power to show you the rest of the route!