Monday, 30 July 2012

Mickey Smith-Cornish Surfing Photographer

I come across many photographers I admire and many photographs I really like. My current favourites are the dynamic, powerful images of water and surfers from one of the world's greatest surfing photographers (I didn't know it existed as a genre either!), Mickey Smith. Originally from west Cornwall, Mickey has made the south-west coast of Ireland his second home.

Here are some of my favourite of his photos. I really think he has captured the might and the beauty of the sea accurately.

Here are some snippets of information about him.

  • Michael Lee Smith grew up on the West coast of Cornwall.

  • Surrounded by sea and stone, ocean elements were ever present.

  • The outside whiled away the sunlight hours, and music filled the nights.

  • Surfing from dawn till dusk, and playing blues and country in bars from dusk till dawn became routine.

  • Life on the road was soon the only one he knew.

  • Friends and family called him myriad names, but one stuck, Mickey.

  • Mick left school at 16 with a bundle of cash stashed from gigging dark corners and headed for the light.

  • Burning and earning cash on the road to waves with weight and consequence became a way of life.

  • Cameras held his hand wherever he went, with rolls of super8 and Hi8 tapes in one pocket, and HP5 and Velvia in another.

  • He followed his heart and instincts, and through the twists and turns of fate, people took a shine to his photography and quirky films.

  • A way of life became a career of sorts, but after many years of travelling to work, the career of sorts had become the way of life, and it was time for a change.

  • One day Mickey decided to stay put on the West coast of Ireland, a place he had frequented and loved since the tender age of 14.

  • The nomads career no longer existed, but strangely enough, his work flourished.

  • Doing things for love alone over a living, helped creativity flow like never before.

  • For years he lived this way, and then tragically, his sister Cherry died.

  • She was his biggest fan, and had always wanted to hear the tale of why and how he did what he does.

  • So he began to make a film in her memory, for her two sons Kalle and Riley to remember her light, passion and inspiration through.

  • The film was called Dark Side of the Lens.

  • Due to many other strange twists of fate and coincidence, people liked his story and felt a connection to it.

  • Thus Dark Side accidentally opened doors into all sorts of weird and wonderful endeavors, even Hollywood came knocking, not once, but thrice believe it or not.

  • Mickey knows he only has his sister to thank.

  • Around that same time his good friend Ben asked him to make a film or two for his songs, so he did.

  • Since, Ben's music has taken Mickey and his family all around the world on a surreal magic carpet ride.

  • Indeed his journeys been laced with new horizons and challenges of late.

  • Most significantly of all, Mickeys girlfriend Rivie recently brought a beautiful baby girl named Eiva into the world.

  • It was beyond revelation and inspiration to the old hobbit.

  • He still tries his hardest to trust his heart and his gut each morning, and is more excited by the sea than ever before.
  • Sunday, 22 July 2012

    St Merthiana's Church of Cornwall

    I saw many beautiful things during my week in Cornwall. I saw windswept moors, twisted trees, pounding seas and vertiginous cliffs, but of all the things which I revisit the most in my mind it is the 'hidden' church of St Merthiana which C showed me. I write hidden as it is ensconced just above a little river valley with wooded sides which guard it.

    I don't know if it was the silence, the translucent green light from the trees, the romantic setting or the unexpected evening sunshine but it left an indelible impression on me.

    The church is 13th century, with some 19th century restoration. The grounds are a controlled wildlife area and the unkemptness adds to the atmosphere.

    If you ever happen to be in the west of England, St Merthiana's Church is worth seeking out. It's about a mile inland from the habour village of Boscastle and apparently it makes for a beautiful, if exhilerating walk.

    I said to C that if I ever got married I'd like to get married here and we joked about where all the guests would park, if they even found the church. I wasn't joking about the marriage part though.

    Taken from the road.

    The verdant cemetary on the valley side

    Sunday, 8 July 2012

    West Country Roadtrip

    My tyres are pumped, oil checked. "Is it between the minimum and the maximum mark?", "yes, Dad". Numerous copies of the RAC's number have been planted in various places. My suitcase is packed. Umbrella, sunglasses, jumpers, suncream, thick boots, light trainers. This is the first time I've holidayed in Britain for many years and you can never be too prepared for all climatic eventualities. Do I miss a straightforward pack as for sunnier, reliable climes? Perhaps. we have the crashing Atlantic, and castle ruins that sit on cliff topss, and wild beaches, and moorlands that transport you to a scene from The Lord of the Rings. We have Dartmoor ponies and tors, exquisitely gentrified country houses with English gardens in full summer bloom. And tricky, fluid Celtic words and pasties.

    So yes, this summer I am eschewing the lure of the exotic and staying on my own island to go on a summer holiday in the West Country. I do not know if the lady who has kindly let me stay with her has wi-fi, but if it is possible I will be writing about my adventures in Cornwall here. Adieu!

    Wednesday, 20 June 2012

    Review of Witch Light

    This Irish blogger's review of the beautiful, wonderful Witch Light is far more detailed and eloquent that mine would be!

    Wednesday, 30 May 2012

    Camera Necklace

    Anyone who knows me will know that photography is one of my passions. If your jewellery and accessories can say something about who you are, then even better. I managed to find some camera charms on eBay and tuned one into a necklace. As well as the camera, the necklace is comprised of a long, antique gold-coloured chain and the camera charm is attached with some old clock cogs, to add an interesting detail.

    There's something very therapeutic about playing around with some small parts and seeing if you can make something interesting.

    Tuesday, 29 May 2012

    Adventure to Reculver and Blean Woods

    At the weekend I finally had a chance to take a closer look at Reculver towers, near Herne Bay. I've seen the ruins many times when flying past on my way to another part of the coast and I have always promised myself that one day I'd stop and stand in their shadows.

    Reculver Towers are the two towers of the ruins of St Mary's church, built by the Romans. The towers which still stand were actually added to the original Roman church in about 650AD.

    The Reculver Towers are located in Reculver Country Park, The Saxon Shore way skirts the country park so you can walk or cycle along the coast. There are picnic tables in the park and we sat and had a lovely, albeit windy,  picnic.

    Afterwards,  we drove to Blean Woods where 35 pairs of nightingales return to every spring. The nightingale has one of the most beautiful and distintive songs of any bird and was a great inspiration to the English Romantic poets. Unfortunately we didn't hear any nightingales that evening but I have heard reports of nightingales being heard in Boughton and Appledore as well as Blean. They sing between May and the beginning of June so I'm running out of time but if not this year :)

    (a nightingale!)

     We came across a group of enthusiastic bird spotters who were standing transfixed by another very strange bird cry. One of the bird spotters, a gentrified elderly lady, whispered to me that it was a nightjar.

    Nightingales or not, the woods are a beautiful place to be at dusk. There are plenty of birds species singing and on a summer's evening I can think of nothing better than sitting in the woods with just a picnic and the birds for company. There is a car park which was still open when we left after 10pm, although there is plenty of road parking if you were worried about your car getting locked in the car park.

    Wednesday, 16 May 2012

    Britain's Bluebells

    Estimates suggest that up to 70% of the world's bluebells bloom in the UK. I anticipate their arrival every year and when their particular shade of violet-blue does sweep the woods and flower beds I know summer is on the way. Now we are in the second half of May, some of the bluebells are looking a little tired and I know it is nearly time to say good bye to them until next year.

    I found these beauties in Brenchley Gardens in Maidstone whilst waiting for my bus.

    Some of the most popular places to find bluebells are here (including the famous Ashridge Estate in Buckinghamshire).

    Next year I'm hoping to fulfill a dream and take a trip to Buckinghamshire to photograph the bluebells on the Ashridge estate at sunrise. Fingers crossed.

    Sunday, 6 May 2012

    Five Things I Like to Do

    A while back, I started a 10 questions-10 day challenge. I forgot about it but have now remembered.

    Question 6 is to list 5 things I like to do. This is going to be hard as I like doing a lot of things.

    1) Listening to the radio whilst crocheting or cross stitching. I don't have a television but I DO have a radio and I would choose a radio over a television any day.I got my first digital radio a couple of Christmasses ago and it has become an indispensible part of my life. If I want to find new bands and songs I listen to BBC Music 6, if I'm feeling nostalgic I'll select Absolute 80/90/00s and be transported to my past. I love the French radio station I can get with its emphasis on electronic music. Occasionally I listen to hard rock stations or else I'll dart over to Radio 4 for the shipping forecast and interesting debates. I've even been known to listen to the hypnotic beats on the Punjabi radio stations. I can sit there for hours, with my hands working and my foot tapping.

    2) Talking. Anyone who knows me will know that I love to talk. I will happily debate about anything. I like it when my Dad makes dinner and then we sit at the table and talk afterwards. I love walking and talking. Sometimes customers will tell me a story while I'm serving them and it is always the highlight of my day. I remember the British Diplomat's wife who told me about Rangoon, Mr E, the 71 year old lady who encouraged me to draw. The tree surgeon who outlined his typical work day for me, the Dutch girl who touched my hand because I knew what Flemish was and then chatted to me about languages for 10 minutes, the regular customers who pass by and always have a few words to offer me. I love sitting around a table with  friends or family, some food and drink to hand, and talking about anything, telling stories, sharing anecdotes and laughing.

    3) Packing a picnic for an adventure in Kent. (ok, so this is arguably 2-in-1 like the first but they do go together). A summer's day, sky bight blue. I get up early and pack a picnic for a day out. All my favourite foods, divided plates and colourful straws. My camera is fully charged. A mix CD has been made. I set off in my car and drive around, over, and through Kent, seeking out castles, beaches, pretty villages, gardens, views and the sea. Yes, if I were to die and the chance to choose how to live my final day I would pack a picnic and head to one of my favourite castle and bays in Kent.

    4) Staying up late. I thought it was a leftover form my student days; but no, I'm just a night person. I love the quietness and the stillness. There is a privacy about night. Few people are around so there is no need to socialise if you don't want to. You can be alone and be yourself. I have my best ideas at night, flashes of creativity. Most of all I love night in an empty house. Without being able to see outside it's like living in your own kingdom. I loved my little appartment in Germany, at night. I loved the quietness of being 9 floors up and seeing the stars from my balcony. 1am and I could eat mashed potato if I wanted and write. I love light and sunshine but there is definitely a magic about night.

    5) Walking. At dusk best. With my latest Spotify playlist. I'd love a dog and a number of people have said " don't forget you'd have to take it for a walk every day" like it's a bad thing. Having to go for a walk every day is one of the many reasons TO get a dog.

    Wednesday, 2 May 2012

    Knotted Choker and Camera Withdrawal

    I bought a couple of shell pendants in a sale and knotted some green cord to hang it form.

    I've always really liked chokers and now my head is spinning with ideas for other choker ideas. Pay day was a week or so back so I bought a few things on eBay. It's amazing how vast the range of items for sale on eBay is.
    I bought some antique gold coloured camera charms which I'm very excited about receiving. I think you can get a charm in just about every imaginable style so I'm tempted to put some themed bracelets together, even if they're already been done.

    My camera battery has died on me. I miss it a lot but am grateful for my iPhone which is capable of producing some high quality and very interesting images.

    This was taken in some woodland nearby. It doesn't look like it was taken in a heavily residential area, and it's a good reminder that there are photos to be had everywhere if you look closely enough.

    A little blurred admittedly. Still, I like the whiteness and how it 'glows' in the grass.

    With my camera out of action (hopefully temporarily) I will have lots of opportunities to exploit my iPhone and its potential.

    Friday, 20 April 2012

    Pink Rose Necklace

    Hardly a day goes past when I can keep my hands away from the clay. Granted I haven't made anything particularly exciting yet but I still enjoy making basic shapes and using them for something.

    Today I cut a scalloped frame and made a hole. I have hung a rose charm from the hole. I think the rose would have better suited a deep red frame instead but I have only pink clay at the moment so I might as well use it.

    The frame is on a pink suede cord. It is admittedly quite pink but I have a feeling it might brighten up a white top-and I wear a lot of white in the summer.

    Not that summer feels anywhere close at the moment. Cold and changeable weather and lots of rain have made it feel more like February. I'm not fond of the damp and the cold so I'm checking the weather forecast every day and waiting for an end to this low pressure.

    Monday, 16 April 2012

    My Favourite shop is now on Facebook!!

    Now I can always keep an eye on Trash or Treasure!!/trashortreasuremaidstone

    Pretty French coat bought for £15

    There is a link to their eBay page but the prices on this do not match the prices I've seen in the shop. The shop prices are very reasonable, and it's not often you can say that about other shops which sell 'vintage' items. I'd say most items, with the exception of some furniture perhaps, are under £20 and the cutlery and glassware can be as little as a couple of pounds.

    As you can see they sell everything from clothes, to bags, jewellery, cutlery, furniture etc...

    They always have beautiful leather bags (usually for about £5) and there seems to be a reliable supply of beautiful elbow length lace gloves too (also about £5-7).  It's not all shabby chic style items for sale. One of the nicest things I ever saw was a Gothic-looking metal hat stand which I fell in love with but have nowehere to put. There are also some beautiful Victorian (style) jewellery pieces and cameos. So there's quite a good chance that most people would find a few things to their taste...

    Saturday, 14 April 2012

    Plaited Clay Frame

    I decided that my notice board looked rather empty and dull (I'm too disorganised to use it for its real purpose) so have started to decorate it. I made a little plaited frame from the polymer clay I've been using and painted it blue.

    To continue the nautical theme I cross stitched a silvery grey anchor to go inside the frame.

    The postcard was bought from a secondhand shop for 10p and is of a Finnish boat called The Fred. It was one of the last big wooden square-rigged sailing ships to be built.

    I think they're far more interesting than letters reminding you of doctor's appointments and when your next bill is due.

    Wednesday, 11 April 2012

    Hanging Key Necklace

    It seemed a shame to let my opened block of Fimo clay sit I got my tray and biscuit cutter out and came up with this necklace.

    The frame is made from the granite Fimo I used for my bird necklace, also polished.

    This open pendant has a key which hangs free in the centre (I feel like I've 'sold out' a little using the key motif. However I like them. And as long as I steer clear of butterflies I'll be ok). The chain is a broken necklace reused. Oh the joy of using opened/used/broken things to make something new  :)

    The old postcard depicts Titania and Bottom from A Midsummer Night's Dream, which is my absolute favourite of Shakepeare's plays. I found it in a small antique shop in Maidstone yesterday and didn't hesitate to exchange a few coins for it. The shop has a whole box of old postcards so I think it'll be hard to keep away from there. I can't remember the name of it but will find out in case anybody is interested in old postacrds-they were probably a few hundred there!

    The cutaway centre is currently awaiting its own transformation-hopefully by the end of the week.

    Having grappled with jump rings for the last couple of hours I think it's now time sit still and watch Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. I don't usually enjoy romantic films but this one I love.

    Sunday, 8 April 2012

    Bird Necklace: a Late Night Date with Fimo

    I used to love Fimo/Prima when I was younger but forgot about it for years until I found an aisle of it in Hobbycraft a few weeks ago. It's very cheap so I picked up a couple of blocks in case inspiration struck.

    Last night I had an idea to make a pendant and ink the images of birds onto it.

    The clay is called granite and is grey with little black iridiscent grains (which don't show up in the photos!). I cut the shape, added a stringing hole and baked it.

    I used a bird ink stamp for the bird shapes. I had to go over them with a Sharpie as the ink wasn't drying. I finished the pendant with a coat of clear polish.

    I was going to string it on a metal chain but decided it'd look better on a cord so reused some black waxed cord instead.

    I love images of birds but most bird jewellery I've looked at on Etsy favours cute/cartoon images of birds which I'm not so fond of, so I'm glad I've now got a bird necklace with the images of birds I actually love :)

    C'est tout and I have fallen in love with Fimo all over again, at 30 years old!

    Saturday, 7 April 2012


    I've become quite addicted to Little Paris Kitchen on BBC iPlayer, in fact I'm quite addict to all things Parisian as a result. Amelie, Musette and have a real earning to return to Paris. I sometimes forget I'm just a trainride from Paris and wish I could afford to go more often.

    Anyway, I tried a recipe from the TV series-Oeufs en Cocotte.

    The Parisians make this in ramekins but Rachel Khoo does them in a teacups and it is the most yummy breakfast.

    To make you add a spoonful of creme fraiche to a teacup, add some grated nutmeg and season. Next, crack an egg in add another spoonful of creme fraiche. You can then choose a flavouring. Rachel uses dill or cods roe. If you're feeling extravagant you can add shaved truffled or truffle oil. I'm not posh enough to keep truffle oil so I added a few drops of Tabasco sauce and it worked nicely. You then cook the eggs, to your preference, in an oven dish of lukewarm water, in the oven. I served with rustic bread soldiers.

    Here is the link for the latest episode of Little Paris Kitchen:

    Monday, 2 April 2012

    Red Mobile Cover and Buttons

    I have finally caught up with my mobile phone cover request backlog!

    A red cover and a Polka dot button for someone who wears red this time.

    The crocheted mobile covers initiated a button collection, which I sorted tonight. I'm not entirely sure what to do with the buttons now as I don't sew . A use will probably emerge at some point :)

    Sunday, 1 April 2012

    Handmade Rose Stitched Necklace

    I've been browsing on Etsy a lot in the last few days and have been disappointed by much of the jewellery on there. There are some amazing pieces but there is also a lot of single cheap charms, just hanging from a plain chain-and charging £15 for something that cost less than £1 and had very little thought put into it. Well, enough whining. My sister got me some pliers for Christmas and I have lots of random jewellery hanging around- a few bought findings and also some old necklaces I didn't mind ripping apart for a greater good :) It was time for action...

    I'm very into cross stitch at the moment and envisaged a cross stitched rose in the centre of this pendant. I couldn't find any cross stitch motifs small enough to fit in the pendant so I had an attempt at doing my own rose bud. I hope it's a passable attempt-it's difficult to get enough detail into a few stitches to attempt to create what you see!

    I think next time I will try to stitch/embroider onto another fabric, such as linen, as the aida holes are a little distracting. Next time...yes there will definitely be a next time. I loved making this necklace, which is very much my style.

    I added some red glass beads to bring out the red of the rose. I think some bead caps (I only realised what they were today, even though I've seen them a million times before!) would have worked better than the spacer beads but my supplies are very limited-I'm sure eBay can rectify that. Jewellery making seems very popular s a hobby and it's not hard to see why. There are nearly endless beads, findings and charms and so forth available very cheaply on eBay. I hadn't realised jewellery making could be such an affordable hobby.

    Charity shops will probably be a good bet for cheap inspiration and resources. Not that I need inspiration at the moment, it seems I've had a million and one ideas for jewellery today. If only my hands could work faster!

    Tuesday, 27 March 2012

    Trash or Treasure Bargains

    Yes, I was in Trash or Teasure again and found some beautiful bird plates. They have a lot of vintage plates in all sizes. The little ones start at £1 and the larger ones are a few pounds more. Every time I go there I saw some new wonderful things. At the moment I have my eye on a brown leather bag and also some Mary Jane shoes. And some jewellery cameos..and a hat stand. Ok, I'd really just like to buy the whole shop!

    So next time you're in Maidstone...or would like some pretty plates, you know where to go :)

    I made some cake balls (cake pops without the hassle of the sticks!) to go with the plates and because I felt like something sweet.