Sunday, December 31, 2006

the sound of the lake district

We're off to the Lakes for a couple of days soon. I've just been trawling the net for ideas for things to do in the rain - there is plenty of it forecast!
I found this sound clip of a peaceful lakeland valley - albeit in summer, which is very calming. It's on this this page. You can listen to other wonderful sound clips. I hope you enjoy it...
The site that it's on - golakes is very helpful indeed.

Friday, December 29, 2006

3 days a week....

I'm going to be doing a job share at Staffordshire University - it's been agreed! I am still waiting for my written job offer, but the 2nd choice candidate has agreed to take the job share..... I should be able to start in February. I intend to make the most of it. Amongst my plans for what to do with my other 2 days a week are:

  • get away a lot in the campervan that we have recently acquired...
  • take a lot of photos - hopefully getting paid for some of it - with Cultural Sisters, Planet Sound and other local community arts organisations
  • take up drawing again
  • make lots of music - in particular get good at the piano accordion
  • sing a lot - with Loud Mouth Women, Kate and Greg of the Boat Band and others, especially with Tone and Cath
  • walk and swim
  • support Pan the local group that I am a member of to develop and seek funding
  • blog....

Think I might struggle to fit it all in but I'll give it a try!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

plenty more fish in the sea?

I am a new subscriber to 43 things.
I read some comments by people who like me have committed to reducing their environmental footprint. One comment referred me to this excellent article in the Guardian by Lucy Siegle

Both Tone and I have been vegetarians in the past. I don't eat any mammals anymore. I often eat vegetarian meals and try to buy organic food. I find organic food very expensive and hard to come by locally. We have been eating more fish recently - for health reasons as well as for the taste. We have found a fantastic fresh fish stall in Tunstall - the owner buys fish from Liverpool dock every morning that he opens. The provenance of all the fish is known and labelled - e.g. Iceland, Faroes etc. However I'm certain much of it is farmed although I have not asked. He does sell organic salmon. (Having said that the Soil Association have decided to label farmed fish as organic - which makes a mockery of the idea it seems to me. This could mean that the organic salmon sold by the fishman in Tunstall is farmed.)

The article has concentrated my mind on a few things. I am shocked to discover that farmed fish is often fed on wild fish - 3 tons of wild for every one ton of farmed. Farmed fish is ecologically unsound. I am concerned about over-fishing. I find it hard to conclude anything other than only buying organic wild fish, if any at all.

Lucy Siegle concludes like this -
"Although I now understand how hard it is to turn a profit from ethical fishing, the alternatives are unappealing. There's still no overall strategy to maintain and develop ocean ecosystems. Partial fishing hasn't worked, total allowable catches are set too high, prone to abuse and do not allow species to recover.
I'm not given to breaking into restaurants to rescue crustacea, but I can't get over the thought that ranching a large oceanic predator (which essentially means keeping it in a cage) is wrong. Add on the problems in the supply chain, doubtful provenance and food miles involved in shipping certified fish and I arrive at the conclusion that I no longer want to eat it. I will not, therefore, be following the FSA's guidelines on two portions of fish a week, and I no longer subscribe to the view that there are plenty more fish in the sea. There aren't."

Monday, December 25, 2006

It's Christmas day...

and I'm just settling down to check emails and the like. We've had a big dinner, and all the visiting rellies have left. All the dishes are washed/ in the dishwasher. We've just put telly on and got a cuppa.

Just thought I'd point you in the direction of our family newsletter on Tone's blog......we've had a couple sent to us this year as usual and felt compelled to follow suit!

Regarding the job - I have had it confirmed that I will be offered 3 days a week job share.... just waiting for the written offer, having returned the medical form (which asked so much medical history it was hard to believe!).

Planning a relaxed few days now - lots of DVD's to watch - the brilliant "My Name is Earl" from the wonderful Scott and Cath, and from ourselves to ourselves - Coast series 1&2 & Planet Earth - hands up who has not received that for Chrimbo?

Probably get round to posting again soon - in the meantime - enjoy the holidays!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

bellowhead on TV.....

- they were on Jools Holland on Friday night. They played 2 numbers from their album "Burlesque" - "Rigs of the Time" and "Jordan" - both upbeat (I would have preferred one to be a contrast - a ballad ("Courting Too Slow" -a personal favourite) or a dance number ("Sloe Gin" set).
But it was great to see them on the box, with the likes of the Red Hot Chilli Peppers - whose lead singer Anthony Keadis said he liked them a lot! Well done folks!!

new job

having said that RA is dominating our lives at the moment, actually my efforts to gain a new job took over from that for a few days last week - and it was worth it - I got the job I was interviewed for on Tuesday!

I have been offered the job of senior lecturer in community engagement and regeneration at Staffordshire University!!!

I am waiting for the written offer because I am still negotiating working hours - I don't want to work full time - partly because of being around for Tone, partly so that I can do other things - such as photography and music.
They have said that I can do some lecturing on the community arts course about photography.....brilliant!

Excited? Very!

RA - from my viewpoint

RA - Rheumatoid Arthritis - is somewhat dominating our life at the moment.
Tone has it. It's an auto-immune disease - the immune system attacks your joints (the fluid and membrane) as it thinks they are the enemy. This leads to joint pain, stiffness and swelling. The immune reaction creates flu-like symptoms, which are made worse becuase of the inflammation and the breakdown of proteins that occurs. So basically Tone feels ill most of the time. He is often in pain, always tired and then of course there's the effects of the drugs he's taking.
The main drug - taken to slow down his immune system - is methotrexate - mtx. It causes nausea and diarrohea amongst other things.
To find out more about his experience read his blog here.

I went through a stage of doing lots of things for him including some essential things like helping him out of the bath when he was very poorly. Now he seems a little better - certainly he is more mobile - that's less the issue. More significant now is feeling like there's not a lot I can do - sometimes giving practical help is better! I feel frustrated sometimes - mostly about the lack of physical activity - although today - astoundingly - we have cleaned the windows, sorted the bookshelves! That's a very good day!!

Ho - hum - we just have our fingers crossed that the unwanted effects get less.....and soon!

Shrewsbury Folk Festival

The line-up has been announced and tickets are now on sale for the Shrewsbury Folk Fest 07.
If the line-up is anything to go by, it promises to be an even better festival than this year's inaugural spectacular.

We took some good photos this year - despite Tone being very poorly at the time. Hopefully Tone will be fully fit by next August and we'll have a photo-fest!!! Take a look at this year's photos here. There are 3 galleries.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

E Chambre Hardman's house....

is open to the public again in March 2006. It's a National Trust property - Hardman was a photographer who left his house to them with all it's contents before he died. The house is in Liverpool right opposite the imposing Anglican cathedral.

It's a fascinating place - particularly for photographers - although we were told that not many visitors are photographers - odd that. It is the only known British photographic studio of the mid-20th century where the photographer’s entire output has been preserved intact.

It's full of cameras and has the old studio still set up on the first floor, as it was in the 40's. His personal images are reasonably good - mainly landscapes and streetscapes. There was an exhibition of portraits of performers at the Playhouse. Some were taken by his wife Margaret who was equally skillful. They worked together on the business - portraits in the studio and weddings and the contract with the local theatre.

There is an archive of photographs and some more information about E Chambre and Margaret here on the Mersey museum gateway.

We visited on Friday and it closed today for the Winter. Well worth a visit.....

Friday, August 11, 2006

Tone and I are experimenting with a new blog on Shutterchance. It's a new project, that is still developing and have some bugs, but has lots of potential.

Tone is also trying a new programme from Adobe called Lightroom. I've not tried it yet - I need to put aside some time to have a good look.

We are still blogging on atypical. We create this blog ourselves using frontpage and have a webhost. We publish to an old domain that we Tone used to publish a website for a friend's band called Texas Flood on. We pay for the domain, but haven't got enough space there to migrate the whole of our photoblog over to. But we have now run out of server space anyway.

This has led to me spending quite a few hours transferring some of our galleries of photos over to flickr. We have atypicaltravel which is photos of our travels in the UK, travelatypical which is our overseas travel photography and atypicalblog which is general stuff, in particular performance, plants and portraits. They are all free accounts and so there is a low monthly upload limit and we can only have 3 sets in each account. We are thinking of upgrading to a pay account but as flickr is such a huge company with so many accounts, we are don't get much benefit from being part of the flickr community compared to say Shutterchance. It is easy on Shutterchance to get good feedback from other bloggers - that is the aim of the project.

So - your views would be welcome.

Friday, June 30, 2006

High School fun day...or was it....?

Tone was paid to photograph Planet Sound last week at a local City High School in Stoke-on-Trent. It was badged as a fun-day. The place itself was so depressing - a tall grey building dominated the site and the fence all around made it feel like a prison.

The fun-day was far from fun as far as I was concerned... I blog about it here at Yclepta.

Anyway - I was pleased with some of the photos I took at the event - including this one of two of the dancers in Planet Sound sitting waiting to perform in the brilliant costumes made for them by the fantastic Ruby Sufi from Cultural Sisters.

busy growing...

Tone and I went to visit his Mum in Suffolk a few weeks ago. She has a large garden and grows quite a lot of veg. We came home with a couple of bags full of beautiful small fresh broad beans. It really inspired us to plant our own stuff in pots on the patio again so this year we have got more than ever - raspberry canes, carrots, salad onions, cut-and-come-again salad leaves and tomatoes - all in containers. Yum!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

my debut!

As part of Burslem Festival on bank holiday monday this week, Tone, our friend Cath and I played a short set at a strange little event at Ceramica as a fundraiser. It was my debut on the piano accordion in public proper (the most I had done until then was joining in a couple of sessions at the Greyhound in Penkhull with The Boat Band).

It was really lovely - and I felt really good about how well I played, especially considering that we had one 40 minute practice in total immediately before the gig! We played country blues/ jazz type stuff - Moondance, People Get Ready, Dear Mary, Dimming of the Day, and a Norah Jones number I can't think of the name of. We really enjoyed it. Unfortunately we are all so busy that we rarely get to play together, we do play very well. Thanks Tone and Cath for encouraging me.....


My step-sister got married last weekend. Tone was the official unofficial photographer. My Dad also acted semi-official and I took a few. Between us we got over 1000 shots!
Tone spent 5 hours yesterday editing about 100 to print as "proofs". What a marathon!

I took one of these pictures at Jude's hen walk at Ramshaw Rocks near Leek, Staffs.
The other one was taken by Tone - it's me in my bridesmaid frock dancing with Black Dog Molly who we got to dance at the wedding - it was fantastic.......

Sunday, May 07, 2006

in action....

at Shugborough at Hallowe'en dance out in 2005. I have decided to use this photo for my blogger profile - Tone took it and I love it.

Saturday, May 06, 2006


Iris is the Research centre within the Faculty of Arts, Media and Design at Staffordshire University with a focus on:

  • the initiation of conferencing, publishing, exhibiting and educational projects within the field of contemporary women’s’ photographic practice, and
  • broadening access to the medium through books, exhibitions and educational activities.

Today was the launch of an exhibition curated by IRIS called Masquerade, at the Potteries Museum and Art Gallery. Masquerade brings together the work of 7 women photographers from Britain and the USA, and features all kinds of contemporary portraits. The show also compares photographs in Masquerade with paintings from the Museum's collections.

The show has already been in London and Birmingham. It is heartening to see an exhibition of national significance led by Staffordshire/ Stoke-on-Trent women and organisations.

There are some challenging pieces - one artist photographed her mother in her last months with Alzheimer's. The 6 portraits of women with moustaches are truly beautiful. Apparently when the exhibition was in the MAC in Brimingham there were complaints about these portraits including "disgusting". Why do openly hairy women offend people so much?

Masquerade is on until the 9th July. Get there if you can.

Friday, April 28, 2006

new camera

The Coolpix 4500 that we had repaired doesn't work properly - the autofocus doesn't work at full wide angle.....and the repairers have moved to another town. We will try to track them down and take it in, but I got so frustrated I got a new compact camera. It's the Nikon Coolpix P2. It has a relatively large screen and has quite good macro capability. It's pretty small and much easier to carry around with me than the old Coolpix.

I took this photo at work, at a meeting in the city hall that I organised - which as you can see was very well attended - I was the only one there!

Friday, March 10, 2006


It has been quite wet the last few days after the snow last week. I went out and took some photos in the garden for the first time this year earlier.

The frogs have been busy for the last 3 days and there is now a small amount of frogspawn in our small pond.

I am registered with the Phenology network and the Woodland Trust and as part of Springwatch they ask you to log when you notice changes and events for the first time in your area. There is a live map showing event across the country. Ours seem to be late this year.

Spiers and Boden....

are on at Whitchurch folk club in Shropshire tomorrow night and we are off to see them. We believe there are still tickets if you're quick....

I have just had a look around their website and they now have a blog on It doesn't seem to be working properly and won't let me download music.

Jon Boden also has his own blog on my space and has some tracks to download from his new solo electric album due out in April... I am looking forward to being able to download them! Thanks to Simon from under the green hill for telling me about that one.

But the most exciting thing is that Bellowhead are playing at Poynton Folk Festival and we are dancing/playing there with Black Dog Molly . We are on the same bill as Bellowhead!!!!

We're back

and we've got some 700 photos to sort through!
We have posted some here on atypical and will create some galleries.

Here's one of the pics I took that I really like -

We did not see any live music unfortunately, but on a drive out to look for the northern lights on our first evening we were taken past the studio that Sigur Ros record at!! We then went on to see a spectular show of the aurora for over an hour. It was the first time they'd been seen since December 2005. We were very lucky.

I feel so privileged to have been. Iceland is an amazing country and if you can get there, you should go.

Saturday, February 25, 2006


In 2 days!

We are busy packing so this is a short post just to let you know that Tone and I have set up a new blog on Wordpress for the occasion - atypicaltravel.

We will try to blog whilst we are in Iceland and hopefully upload some photos if it's easy to do that.

I don't know if we'll get to see any live music - I hope so. We plan to take a trip north of Reykjavik to try to see the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), and to sit around in naturally heated pools a lot. Sigur Ros are from Iceland, so at the very least we will listen to them on our MP3 player!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

I stumbled across.....

..... The SU periodic table - a photographic website, today.

It's really well done - the photos all have something in them with letters on and the thumbnails for the pictures are all sections of the larger picture focussing on the letters of an element in the periodic table - nice idea eh?

I found the site using stumble. Tone signed us up for it - see bloghawk soon for more info including how he found it. It's great - I just chose the topic "photography" and then clicked - I have not found any complete crap yet! I just need to learn how to use it to make favourite lists and tag sites myself.

I think I will probably blog here a bit more now - I seem to have lost my motivation whilst off work - I don't think I need the distraction/ relaxation/ outlet as much when I am vegetating at home.... and I thought I would do it more, as I had more time over the Christmas break.

Anyway - I think there are more reasons for blogging coming up soon - Black Dog Molly are dancing out tomorrow night as it's Plough Monday - the traditional day for Molly apparently.

We booked our next holiday yesterday - to Iceland - it's really exciting - it will be an amazing photographic opportunity. We go in early March with Discover the World Arctic Experience ethically responsible holidays!

Whilst I'm here - just thought I'd let you know my dead camera is now back to life and back home from the menders. I will get round to using it soon I promise. i have taken a few pics with the D70 recently. One of them is this -

It's a picture I have been meaning to take for months. I kept driving and walking past it on my way out of our estate and either didn't have my camera, didn't have time, or the weather conditions were wrong, to take a pic. I finally did it last week when we were on our way back from a walk round our local woods/ streets. Tone called it enigmatic.... I just like the odd buildings on the slope - I think it's a water table.

It's on atypical - so whilst you're there, why not take a look at some of mine and Tone's favourite pictures from just over a year of atypical? Well I am sure you have better things to be doing, but go on, and leave us a comment, that would be great!