Monday, 29 June 2009

The splats have landed :-D

(Sorry, your going to have to wait for photo's....they are both still a little skittish and I don't want to do anything that will upset them!!)

We collected them from the cattery yesterday at about 1o.30am (Yes, we were up at the crack of dawn to get to London for that time!!) and then they had to endure a two and a half hour drive before we could introduce them to their new home. There was not a peep out of Gai the entire journey....Lugs, however, miaowed for the whole two and a half hours!! (We discovered early on that if we spoke to him he just miaowed louder so we ended up having to just try and ignore him...poor wee soul!!)

Awww, they were terrified when they first arrived!! Gai managed to find the only part of the house the hoover can't reach....behind the wood burning stove!! When we finally managed to entice him out with cat treats he emerged completely gray with cobwebs on his head and hanging from his whiskers!! (He did look very funny!!). They spent the first few hours hiding in their climbing frame then Lugs slowly came out and started having a wee sniff around (I was quite surprised that he was the first....he's terrified of everything....including himself!!). At this point I was starting to get quite worried about Gai because he wouldn't even let us near him.....I needn't have worried. Once he saw Lugs out and about he decided he would come out too....when he got to my chair he suddenly stopped and stared at me, (honestly, you could almost see the penny dropping) he then jumped up on the chair, started purring like a wee maniac and proceded to try and eat my hair!! (It was so sweet...his wee body was quivering he was so excited!!). Then, still purring like a wee maniac, he stopped trying to eat my hair, looked at Chris, jumped off the chair, went straight over to him, lay down on his foot and started rolling about in a 'pat me pat me' kind of way!! He's been absolutely fine ever since!!

The two of them ate breakfast this morning and have been chasing each other up and down the stairs ever since so I think they are going to be fine!!

I'm sitting here listening to them thundering about!! How can two cats make so much noise??

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Other exciting things!!

I completely forgot to tell you that

I have lost a stone and a half in weight!! (Chris is now referring to me as his wee dissipating doughnut)

I joined the Malmesbury Art Society on Monday and took along some of my work. They are having an exhibition in the Abbey next month and they have invited me to take part *grins* so some of my pen and ink drawings and a couple of my paintings will be on sale in Malmesbury Abbey from July 27th till August 1st!! (I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I sell a couple as that would be a great start to my 'saving for Chris's significant birthday' fund!!)

And last but certainly not least......

We go and pick up the splats on Sunday!! That's only another two days......OMG I can't wait!!! (Bet I don't sleep a wink on Saturday night!!)

I can't remember whether I told you or not but, since they have been in quarantine, the cats have had a lovely volunteer called Anita visiting them twice a week. It's meant a hell of a lot to us because we've just not been able to see them as often as we would have liked (it's a 5 hour round trip!!) so we've bought her a box of chocolates and I'm going to do a wee drawing for her today to say thank you. (She's so sweet, she told me that she's really going to miss them and has actually offered to look after them at her house if we want to go away on holiday and can't find someone to take care of them!!).

It's been a good week :-)

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

I am so excited....and I just can't hide it.....



I have just heard back from UCAS about my university applications

I've got two unconditional offers.....UNCONDITIONAL!!!


One to study Anthropology at Oxford Brookes University


One to study Community Sector Management at London Metropolitan University


Now I just have to decide which one is going to be the best course to get me where I want to be!! What a bloody brilliant position to be in!!

*goes off grinning like a loon*

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Some more scribbles

I wasn't going to post any more of my drawing exercises because I thought you might get bored (I promise I will blog about other things soon!!) but so many of you have e-mailed me to say that your really enjoying seeing them that I thought what the hell.....

I've actually done another two exercises since I last blogged. The first one was called the 'touchy-feely' exercise and involved exploring how specific marks can be linked to particular sensations. I gathered together a few objects from around the house that had different tactile qualities (The book suggested feathers or something soft, dried flowers, a small toy and a stone or fossil) then closed my eyes and drew what they felt like.....I guess the idea is that you look with your fingers!! (Tis an odd sensation drawing with your eyes closed!!)

To give you a better idea of what I mean I've taken a photo of the object and my drawing of it

The second exercise involved taking this idea a step further. You have to actually produce a self portrait (yes, you can start laughing now) by drawing what you feel when you touch your own face and head....again with your eyes closed!! In this one your fingers are never allowed to leave your face and your charcoal is never allowed to leave the paper. (I'm actually quite please with my second attempt...although I'm not sure how I managed to leave out one eye on both drawings....I do have two!!)

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Out of my comfort zone!!

When I read through the Drawing and Painting People book that Mark sent me last week I knew that it wasn't going to be easy!! The entire premise of the book is to challenge you to create works of art that are more about feelings rather than trying to re-create what something actually looks like. I had a go at the first exercise about being out of my comfort zone!!! (I wasn't just out of it I had left it about a zillion miles behind!!!)

The idea of the first exercise is to create a conversation using six sets of six marks...the marks have to interact with each other (going through, across, behind etc) but have to be completely different from each other (so if your first mark is soft and going in one direction then your next one has to be hard and travelling in a different direction) and the idea is that an argument erupts as the conversation progresses. (The book is brilliant at explaining the point of this exercise and what you should and shouldn't do...I, however, am not.... so your going to just have to go with me on this!!)

Now, I'm a pretty laid back person....I can't even remember the last argument I had never mind be able to draw one!! (oh wait, I was with Chris about two years ago and had more to do with jet lag than anything else so even that's a bit hazy!!). You are going to laugh when I tell you what I ended up doing....I dug out my old 'teenage angst' music and listened to 'Something I can never have' by Nine Inch Nails over and over starts slow but gets angry at the end....all I can say is my poor neighbours!!! Anyway, I thought you might be interested in seeing my attempts because they are just sooooo different from anything I have ever done before.
So, does this look like an argument to you?

Oh, and I did a painting of Bangkok too!!

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Win a signed copy of 'Snakehead' by Peter May

Ha, that got your attention didn't it!!!

Novel Journey, one of Writer's Digest 101 Most Valuable Websites for Writers, is carrying an interview with my Dad today. The best comment on the blog will win a free signed copy of 'Snakehead' but you had better be quick because I'm not sure how long the competition will be running for. (If you don't win you can always buy a copy here)

In other Peter May writely news

*warning: shameless plug coming up*

"The Blackhouse", a dark, psychological thriller set on a remote Scottish island, is being published in France in October under the title "L'île des chasseurs des oiseaux". (It has not been published in English yet....yep, so a book written in English about a Gaelic-speaking community will make its first published appearance in know it makes sense!!?!!)

"Virtually Dead", a thriller set in the virtual world, Second Life, will be published in the States in January. (He actually established a detective agency in Second Life in order to do research for the book. This is a picture of his avatar Flick)

In February, the fifth China Thriller, "The Runner", will make its debut appearance in the States. (You can buy past ones here)

The fourth Enzo Files book, "Freeze Frame", will be published in the US in April. This is the fourth in a series about a Scotsman in France solving French cold cases and you can buy the past ones here. (oh, and the entire series has just been bought by the major German publisher, if your in Germany please keep a look out for them!!)

If you are interested in knowing more...please visit his website which can be found here

Monday, 15 June 2009

Isn't life funny sometimes....

There are two things in life that I am very passionate about (Actually, there are way more than just two but for the purpose of this post....). The first is my art and the second is volunteering. (Seriously, I think everyone should get involved in their local community....the world would be a much better place if they did!!). Anyway, having been inspired by Mark to get going on my art last week I was then given the proverbial kick up the arse on the volunteering front too and it came in the form of a TV programme!!

BBC 3 have been running a series recently called Blood, Sweat and Takeaways (I don't know if any of you saw it) which was bloody brilliant. It was basically a documentary series that followed six young Brits, each with a passion for food, who were sent to go live and work alongside the workers in the south east Asian food industry. The first two episodes followed them as they went to work in Indonesia's tuna and prawn industry (which was fascinating and horrifying!!) and the last two followed them to Thailand where they worked in the rice and chicken industry. I watched the last two episodes over the weekend on BBC's iPlayer (They are still available to watch...I think there is 3 days left on the first two episodes and a week left on the last two).

Those of you that read 'Only in Thailand' will already know about the different charity work I did there.....well, if you really want to get a feel for what I did, where we stayed and how Moon's family earn their living then watch the rice episode. It took place in rural Issan (north Thailand) and really highlights how much hard graft, and how little money is involved, in producing the rice!! (The houses featured are similar to those in Moon's home village and making rice is how her husband earns his living. That's why Chris and I still send her money every month to help with the schooling of her kids....if we didn't then there is no way either of them would ever have the opportunity to go to University). If your interested in seeing the slum that I worked in (I was going to link to my first post about visiting but decided that that was waaay too depressing so you can read about one of our success stories in the area instead. Click here) then watch episode four when the six travel to Bangkok to look for work and end up in the Klong Toey Slum. What really got to me was that I knew one of the women sitting behind them....when I visited the Mercy Centre she would always come over and say Hi (She called me Mrs Carol and always pinched my arm for luck!!). When the programme finished I was in tears.

Now, just before I left Thailand I suggested that the BWG set up a couple of projects that were close to my heart (They involved helping Thailand's Hill Tribe Community....I don't think I ever got round to finishing writing about my trip but you can read about it here , here and here.The second link is the one to go for if you really want a feel for how they live and the 3rd one is what my suggested project is all about!!). At the time I had offered to run them from the UK but I didn't want to stand on any one's toes so I had not been in touch to renew my offer.....I had a call from my lovely friend Caroline who has taken over the running of all things welfare since I left and she said that, because the new people were still finding their feet and she was rushed off hers as a result, no-one had done anything about getting them off the ground. I got in touch and guess who's now getting them going? I feel so much better now!!!

I'm actually trying to come up with some fund-raising ideas so if any of you clever lot have any suggestions.....

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Inspiration (Thank you Mark)

Those of you that know me, or have been reading my blog for a while, will know that I am happiest when I'm busy and when I'm being creative (Whether that creativity is starting a new project, finding a solution to a difficult problem or actually putting pen/pencil to paper) but I've been feeling a bit off since we got back to the UK. At some point in the future I am either going to be starting uni or starting work so I'm not going to have as much time as I do at the moment to do the things I love. I should be making the most of the time I have now....except I wasn't!! I was starting to fear that perhaps my get up and go had actually gotten up and buggered off but I am delighted to tell you that it hasn't buggered off at was just hiding (naughty get up and go!!) and I have a fellow blogger to thank for helping me find it :-). Let me explain

When we first moved into our new house I had a grand plan...we would turn the 2nd bedroom into an art room come study. We bought a lovely old wooden bureau from a charity shop in Swindon which I could use to store all my art stuff, I would set up my drawing table next to it so everything was in easy reach and then we would get a desk for the computer and printer which both Chris and I could use....brilliant!!. Except the stairs up to the third floor have a very narrow and sharp turn.......yep, you guessed it.....if it ain't flat pack it ain't going up!!! The bureau? well, it looks great in the living room but where the hell was I going to put my drawing table (We were discussing the possibility of putting it in the shed at one's not a lovely shed like Debs's old and decrepit with broken windows!!) and how was I going to be able to create anything when I had no space to call my own!! Now, this seems like a really small problem....and in the grand scheme of things you are absolutely right......but I can't tell you how much it upset me!! (Ridiculous isn't it!!......At least I know!!).

Anyway, I saw a comment on one of the blogs I normally read which made me laugh so I clicked on the link and went for a nosey!! I am so so glad I did!! Views from the bike shed and My little i are great blogs (both written by the lovely Mark) and after reading a few of the past posts I added them to my 'I read these' list and started following them. Mark, it turns out, is a very talented artist (I particularly love the paintings he does of the sea. Click here to see his work) and he recently blogged about the fact that he has a collection of 'postcards' which are actually postcard sized paintings that he does when he's on holiday (he likes to try and paint a postcard a day which I think is a great idea). He mentioned that a gallery had made some prints of one of them to publicise one of his exhibitions and he had a few left over which he was offering to bloggers if they were interested. I e-mailed him to say that I would love one and that I really liked the style of his paintings and in his response he sent me a link to the website of his friend and mentor John Skinner. I had a look and was blown away by his creations.....between his paintings and Mark's I was starting to feel inspired and over the weekend found myself online looking at different painting styles and techniques. I decided that I would spend Monday doing the stuff that needed done and that on Tuesday and Wednesday I would paint!!

On Monday, the household stuff out the way, I tackled the living room and re-arranged the furniture (Chris was in Amsterdam for work so I had the place to myself).....and to my astonishment I managed to find a space for my drawing table....where it didn't look bloody awful and where it wasn't in the way!! (I didn't think it would fit and my gob was well and truly smacked that it did!!). Oh my god this is going to sound so stupid....but I got really excited about it and felt like me again for the first time in ages!! And then when I opened my e-mail there was a message waiting for me from Mark.....not only was he sending me the print he was sending me a selection of his original postcards to choose a couple from, a book written by Sara Hudston called 'Switch off the light and let me try on your dress' which was based on conversations between her and John Skinner (You can buy it here) AND a book called 'Drawing and painting people - A fresh approach' by Emily Ball (which you can buy here). Isn't that amazing!!! (I will return the postcards and the books when I have finished with them)

I spent all day Tuesday and most of yesterday painting .......trying out different techniques and generally making a mess!! I even had a look through Chris's old photographs and did a painting just for him (well, he has been putting up with me being a moody cow!!). Here are the fruits of my labours....

Below is the one I did for Chris. I will give you money if you can guess what he said about it....

And yesterday afternoon the postman delivered these

I already know which postcards I'm going to keep (and am planning to get a frame for them this weekend) and I read 'Switch off the light and let me try on your dress' last night which I found absolutely fascinating!! I can't wait to get going on the 'Drawing and Painting People' book but am going to have to pop out and buy some more paper or canvasses before I do!!

So really the point of this post is to say Thank You to Mark who inspired me and helped me find my get up and go!!