Back To Nikon School

Back To Nikon School

Back To Nikon School

Back To Nikon School

I adore taking photos but like my writing, I often find it a bit of a struggle. Due to a lack of technical know-how it usually goes a little something like this; overthink composition of shot, eventually take shot, wonder why the hell what I see on screen isn’t what I saw through the viewfinder, stamp feet, stick bottom lip out, angrily and ignorantly jab at the settings, turn a few dials, twiddle a few knobs and take shot again; revisiting this process until eventually I just might have something I’m begrudgingly OKay with. I have a little gear (a Canon 1100D with a 50mm f/1.8 lens) but pretty much no idea and have wanted to improve my photography skills for a while now, so last week when Nikon invited me to attend the Nikon School to learn the basics of DSLR photography I squealed, jumped several feet in the air and scared the bejeezus out of the cat!

Along with three other bloggers – Sophie from Super Amazing Mum, Pippa from Pippa Says and Graham from Global Grasshopper – we were taught the formula to a great photograph and given the opportunity to road-test Nikon’s nifty new camera the Nikon D5300 (with built-in WiFi it provides endless possibilities for bloggers!) Mister Ruffles has often tried to teach me the basics (he was a photographer in a previous life) but I usually end up saying “uh-huh. Yep uh-huh. No! Sorry. No I just don’t get it at all! OH I DON’T UNDERSTAND”. Basically it’s never gone very well but at Nikon School, for the first time ever, everything actually made sense!

Back To Nikon School

Back To Nikon School

DSC_0121

Back To Nikon School

On the day we were set of a series of challenges – to capture three images representing Colour, People and London – with the challenge winner being put forward to represent England and take part in a European-wide competition in celebration of World Storytelling Day on March 20th. Seeing as the last time I won something was a flying pig on MotorMouth in 1992 I was gobsmacked when Nikon phoned me to say that I’d won! That means that this Thursday March 20th along with Pippa From Pippa Says I’ll be roaming the streets of London to hopefully tell a visual story about my city through my photos. I genuinely don’t think I stand a hope in hell of winning but I actually can’t wait to dedicate a few hours to something that I’ve a newly found love for. Wish me luck!

I attended the Nikon School in London as a guest and part of a blogger event. The one-day training course I attended was Getting Started With DSLR Photography and you can book a place here, it costs £129 and is perfect for anyone with a love of photography but a lack of technical knowledge!

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Plumdiddlyumcious Instaloves

Plumdiddlyumcious Instaloves

A few days ago Carrie from WishWishWish wrote a fantastic post explaining how she edits her gorgeous photos (if you’re not following her on Instagram then do it now) and listed who her favourite Instagrammers are. She signed off asking for recommendations on folk she should follow and it was whilst writing my extremely lengthy reply in the comments section that I realised I have a bit of an addiction! To prove my point let me share my morning routine with you; wake up, reach for phone (sometimes with eyes still closed), check Twitter (sometimes with only one eye open), browse Pinterest, get lost in Instagram, look at the news headlines and then a good twenty minutes later than I need to, finally roll out of bed. It’s sad but true, I’m utterly addicted to my social media vices and Twitter, Facebook et al are usually the very first and very last things I connect with each day bar my pillow. The two that I love and cherish the most are Pinterest and Instagram – as a total image junkie they’re my crack-cocaine and I simply can’t get enough.

Plumdiddlyumcious Instaloves

Rattling off my long list of Instagrammers for Carrie to follow got me thinking and the result of that little brainstorm is this post, so *drum roll please* let me introduce Instaloves, a regular monthly feature where I’ll share my favourite Instagrammers that I follow including cute dogs (there’s a fair few!), fashion folk, lifestyle and travel.  As a self-confessed eating obsessive it seemed only natural though that my first Instaloves would have a definite foodie flavour! This is a list of some of my favourite foodie Instagrmmers, however it’s by no means exhaustive as I plan on sharing more over the coming months. Just a final word of warning, you may not want to look at the following Instagram feeds before you’ve actually had a real feed first – bon appetit!

mondomulia

@mondomulia

London-based Italian Giulia takes vivid and colourful photos of her foodie visits and #dailycortado (she’s somewhat of a coffee aficionado!) and also writes a brilliant blog, Mondomulia, containing a mixture of her restaurant recommendations and baking recipes, all accompanied by her fantastic photography.

canellevanillie

@canellevanille

I think Canelle et Vanille is quite possibly one of the very first food blogs I started following and years later, I’m still a huge fan. US-based Aran’s food styling and photography is exquisite; bright, white and pastel-hued and I always feel inspired after browsing her photos.

clerkenwellboyec1

@clerkenwellboyec1

Whether he’s taking photos of custard-oozing donuts at Borough Market, collating collages from Hawker House or from the top table at London’s latest must-visit restaurant opening, Clerkenwell Boy’s photos always insight huge foodie FOMO in me!

theboywhobakes

@theboywhobakes

As you’d expect from MasterChef 2010 Winner and baking whizz Edd Kimber, also known as The Boy Who Bakes, his Instagram feed is choc-full of buttery pastries and cream-filled choux buns, all artfully and dribble-inducingly captured. A guilt-free way to get your sugar fix!

mrsandwiches

@mrsandwiches

Calling Sam Richards of Sam Cooks Food a home cook feels like an injustice as his cooking is utterly superb, but that’s exactly what he is. Instagram is where Sam chronicles his eating adventures along with gorgeous shots of all the recipes he creates and cooks in his tiny Stoke Newington kitchen.

careynotccarrie

@careynotcarrie

So passionate about local produce that she renamed her blog to reflect that (go have a read, it’s called Reclaiming Provincial), US-based Carey’s photos feature plenty of brightly-coloured locally sourced ingredients that usually make me want to visit my farmers market pronto.

sundaysuppers

@sundaysuppers

Sunday Suppers is an amazing concept – a communal cooking centre in Williamsburg, Brooklyn focussing on local ingredients and created by Karen Mordechai, the photos that accompany it are clearly taken by someone with a deep love of, and passion for, food.

nathanmichael

@nathanmichael

Self-proclaimed street taco activist, photographer and designer Nathan Michael takes photos of everything he eats and does in and around where he lives in Texas, USA. After avidly poring (and drooling) over his images Texas is now pretty damned high on my must-visit hit list.

sarkababicka

@sarkababicka

Sarka Babicka is a London-based photographer who takes vibrant photos of the food that she cooks, bakes and eats and shares on Instagram to tummy-rumbling effect! Sarka is also a travel photographer and writes a beautiful blog called Cook Your Dream which I highly recommend.

davidlebovitz

@davidlebovitz

If you love food then invariably you follow Paris-based food blogger David Lebovitz! Whether he’s baking Madeleines, shopping the brocantes or slicing into a slab of gooey Roquefort, he manages to capture the essence of Paris in every single photo. J’adore.

 

If I’ve missed out a foodie Instagrammer that you think I’d like then please do let me know, I love following new accounts!

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Why I Blog?

February 26, 2014 · 8 comments

in Musings

Look Mum No Hands!

Look Mum No Hands!

If I told you that most blogposts take me around 8 to 10 hours to write (this is excluding any photo editing) you’d probably wonder why I ever even bother writing them in the first place, I mean who has that much time to waste in this day and age of being perpetually busy?! Well just lately I’ve been thinking exactly that, and about whether this blog is actually worth my time and if I should invest more into it. I’ve been thinking about why I blog and what it means to me, how it fits into my life and what I actually get out of it, and last Friday something happened that helped me get the answers to those questions.

I often think about how I wish I was someone who regularly pumps out three to four fabulously written blogposts a week accompanied by amazing imagery and all wrapped up in a fun and witty tone of voice. But I’m not, and I twist myself up in knots because of that. The reason for this is that I really struggle to write and agonise over each and every word, sentence and paragraph, editing as I go along and very rarely writing a piece all in one go. More often than not I’m left thinking before I’ve even finished, “cripes that’s a right pile of tosh isn’t it” and then I start all over again. The beginning bit is always the bit I find the hardest and I normally feel a lot like this when sitting down to write, which is pretty ironic considering I’m one of the most talkative people I know! My lack of confidence in my writing is the sole reason why I post so infrequently and why, more often than not, most posts start with “a few weeks/months/years ago such-and-such happened” as it takes me forever to psyche myself up and the photos pile up and I end up back-dating more posts than I should.

Look Mum No Hands!

So why do it? Why do I blog? Well I’ve realised that I blog because it’s a creative outlet, because it’s mine, because it’s something tangible that I’ve created and despite the fact that I cause myself no end of headaches and heartache doing it, I love writing. Writing is something that I have a deep passion for, and have done since I was a child. My blog is a realisation of a childhood dream to be a writer and having a blog makes me feel like I’ve succeeded at something, that in my own little way I’ve made a dream come true. I feel like I can sit down next to my 8-year old self and say “keep at it, keep reading, keep squeezing every single second out of every single experience you have because it will all be so very, very worth it”. I don’t blog to gain followers, or to show you a constant stream of daily outfits (which is totally fine if that’s why you blog – I don’t judge!) I blog because I love to write. My blog is my diary, it’s my forum to be as honest as I want to be (this post is case in point of that fact!) and to air my over-enthsued musings on whatever I please, it’s a documentation of my life and everything I enjoy and, for those reasons I’ve decided to keep at it.

Look Mum No Hands!

There’s also another reason; on Friday a blogger that I’ve admired for at least a good few years now told me that she really liked my writing style. It was such a simple comment but it made the 10-plus hours that I’d taken to write the post she’d commented on that bit more worthwhile, plus I did get a bit of a warm fuzzy feeling inside! Mainly it spurred me on to do something that has been long overdue. Over the weekend I at long last wrote my About Me page which you may (or may not!) have noticed has been blank since I very first started this blog back in March 2012. Nothing too fanfare-inducing but actually to me it was a huge deal as it represents my commitment to my blog and seriously, it’s taken me almost two blumming years to write! I also made myself a little pact. What that means is more frequent (and up-to-date!) posts regardless of how long they take to write, although I’m going to try and whittle that timeframe down as by crikey I need to. It also means that instead of beating myself up that I’m not as good as the bloggers and writers that I admire, that I’ll continue and won’t give up. Truthfully I try and forget that anyone reads this tiny little part of the internet that I call my own, but if you do, thank you. So here goes. Wish me luck! 

These photos were taken at Look Mum No Hands! on Mare Street, London E8 who make a cracking cup of coffee and have lots of plug sockets to boot = freelancers paradise! www.lookmumnohands.com 

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Jones & Payne

Jones & Payne

Jones & Payne

Jones & Payne

Jones & Payne

Six years ago when I first met Mister Ruffles my hair was bright blonde and short, like Edie Sedgwick short and I loved it. However once I’d met the man I decided I was going to marry I started growing out my Factory Girl crop as I’d always imagined myself as a bride with beautiful, long, boho locks. Truth be told I’d wanted long hair for years and so with a proposal imminent (!) my quest for long tresses began. The first few years started pretty well and I went from crop to bob to shoulder-length fairly smoothly and speedily but for the past couple of years, yeah not so much and my hair growth has been virtually non-existent [Mister Ruffles sighs with relief]. About 18 months ago to compensate for the lack of any inches gained I decided to simply avoid having my hair cut. However instead of reaching my goal for long hair that bit sooner I was left with a raggedy mess of straggly, frayed split ends and a distinct lack of anything that could be called a hair ‘style’. The irony that I was growing my hair only to perpetually wear it tied up in my default topknot wasn’t lost on me. So I began this year not only with a barnet in need of some serious love, care and attention, but with a determination to learn how to style it and most importantly, to wear my hair down more frequently.

Step forward Jones & Payne at St Martin’s Lane, sister to the Shoreditch salon of the same name and located in the swanky surroundings of the St Martin’s Lane hotel. The Covent Garden based salon is a bijoux version of its East London counterpart with exactly the same blend of urban cool and cosy comfort. The decor has a distinctly traditional flavour with a cluster of framed cameos and enormous gilded mirrors adorning panelled walls, glass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling and fresh flowers spilling out of patterned china jugs atop vintage mahogany furniture. Jones  & Payne has got English charm by the teacup-ful and the very same can be said about the fantastically lovely team and their mascot, Walter the French Bulldog who gave me a gorgeous snuffly kiss on arrival!

Jones & Payne

Jones & Payne

Jones & Payne

Jones & Payne

My stylist Becky and I got on like a house on fire, animatedly chattering away like old friends whilst I supped a cuppa from the most exquisite bone china. Instead of chastising me for the poor maintenance of my barnet she empathised, explaining it was tempting to let it grow but in the long run avoiding a trim ends up being counter-productive as split ends travel up the hair. End result, hair that channels Worzel Gummidge. Not a good look and not one I’ll repeat in a hurry. When Becky broke it to me that I’d need a good few inches cutting off I winced, praying it didn’t mean I’d be left with a chin-length bob and a years’ worth of growth in a pile on the floor (it’s happened before!) I needn’t have worried though, as despite having a necessary few inches snipped off my hair miraculously appeared thicker and fuller, which for someone with baby-fine hair like mine is a huge plus! To rejuvenate my grown-out and lacklustre colour Becky used a trio of milkshake toners that brought my blonde bang up-to-date, lifting it with the faintest icy shimmer.

Jones & Payne

Jones & Payne

I loved Becky, not only did she give a head massage that sent tingles down my spine, but she patiently listened to and answered my inane haircare questions ranging from “why is my hair thinner on one side” (it’s because of my parting in case you’re interested) to “what shampoo do I use to make my hair as shiny as possible?” (one without parabens, go natural!) and when I asked “how do I style my hair in the quickest way conceivably possible?” (I’m lazy, speed is of the essence) she even showed me how to finger-dry it and create waves using hair straighteners, something it’s taken me a few tries to grasp. Actually I won’t lie I’m still rubbish at it! I left Jones & Payne grinning from ear to ear armed with a wealth of knowledge and advice and feeling ready, willing and able to wear my hair down. That was a good few weeks ago now and that ‘on-top-of-the-world new hair, new me’ feeling has stuck around. I’m delighted to report that not only do I still feel confident and happy wearing my hair loose and natural, but only rarely do I wear it in a topknot. Jones & Payne are the ultimate hair experience and after living in London for nine years now, one I’ve hankered after for a very long time. Now if they could just sort out that marriage proposal as well as my hair I’d be very grateful!

I was invited to have my hair cut at the Jones & Payne at St Martin’s Lane Hotel. To book an appointment please visit www.stmartinslane.jonesandpayne.com and I’d recommend asking for Becky!

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The Magic Notebook

I have a confession. Despite considering myself to be of the fairly organised persuasion, since the new year began I’ve been using this as a diary. I’m literally crimson with embarrassment as you read this! Back in December I had written ‘must buy 2014 diary’ on my seemingly never-ending To Do List, but for (a hundred and) one reason(s) or another I just didn’t get round to it. Shame on me.

Last weekend I dedicated some time to seeking out my perfect diary and stumbled across The Magic Notebook, a UK-based stationery store specialising in unusual and illustrated diaries, notebooks, cards and all manner of whimsical paper products from Korea. Not only do they have an enchanting range of 2014 diaries, which is pretty handy when everywhere has sold out, but they even have several nifty numbers that aren’t even dated, meaning that no matter how late you are to the party you can still get that feeling of turning a new page. 

Thanks to The Magic Notebook I spent a very long while deliberating over which diary to purchase (far, far, FAR too many to choose from!) and I now have a full-blown washi tape addiction along with a never-had-before desire to customise my new diary with stickers. So if you’re like me and have been a bit tardy buying your 2014 diary (ahem) then fret not as The Magic Notebook are effectively the stationery cavalry. Here’s my edit of the best of the bestest. Happy 2014 … again!

The Planner

The Planner

The Planner

The PlannerMeet The Planner a roomy undated  journal with 158 pages devoted to annual, monthly & weekly entries, 42 pages for notes and 2 sheets of index stickers (including a 2013/14 calendar).

Der Reisende

Der Reisende

Der Reisende

Der ReisendeTypically Germanic, the Der Reisende diary is both fabulous and functional. It comes in a range of unique patterns with space for annual & monthly plans, 28 pages of to do lists and 98 pages for note-taking. I heart its style and substance.

Bonne Journey

Bonne Journey

Bonne Journey

Bonne JourneyBright and beautiful Bonne Journey Diary is undated and has 136 pages devoted to weekly and montly planning and 41 pages for “memorandum”, which to you and I means opportunities for washi tape collages and doodles.

April Diary

April Diary

April Diary

April DiaryFinally this is Le Journal d’April, an undated diary with ample space for annual, monthly & weekly diary entries, 82 pages of lined, unlined, patterned & plain pages for notes and sweet illustrations inspired by “Ma Vie en Bretagne” throughout. As a Francophile I cooed over this for ages!

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