Archive for February, 2008

Arrghhhhh! Inspiration needed

I’m doing a digital photography course at the moment, and right now this second it’s making me want to scream very loudly.

Part of the course is producing a portfolio of 12 photos divided into two ‘themes’ of 6. Every photo must include people/a person and every photo must undergo at least one bit of digital manipulation. There is a short list of suggested ‘themes’ but you can also do your own thing if you like.

The damn themes are making me want to pull my hair out in frustration. I am completely struggling at the moment. The idea is to try and use your imagination to come up with something that’s not too ‘bog standard’ – and so you don’t up with a load of very similar photos. The suggested themes are buildings and statues, shapes, change and distortion, the marketplace, family (possibly one or two more – I can’t remember) and your own personal theme.

Having had no (or very little) inspiration with any of the suggested themes I came up with one theme of my own – films. The good news is the tutor agreed that could be a theme and sort of liked the one photo I’d done. The bad thing is the ‘sort of’ thing. Basically I have to re-do what I’d done so far. He wants to see a ‘contact sheet’ for each final photo – so you’re taking lots of photos of the same thing and choosing your favourite. He liked the idea I’d used (well…I think he did…), just not the clothes my subject was wearing, or the location.

The thing that is making me go ‘aarrrgghh’ is that all this assumes you have unlimited time to think of stuff, set up stuff, find locations etc, and an endless supply of willing “models” who don’t mind posing for numerous photos.  I’m taking a little bit of reassurance that I’m not the only one staring blankly back at the tutor.

Definitely feel a bit dispirited at the moment.

I’m somewhat lacking on the family side of things, which severely limits the number of people I feel I can pester so I can’t tell you how grateful I am to my friends. We had already arranged to meet up again this weekend for a bit more. I’m going to have to break the news to them that it needs to be a bit more involved than what we’d done so far.

This is the one photo I’d done. It’s meant to be ‘Singing in the Rain’.  (Actually….I’d done two, but he thought the other one was a bit corny so I can’t use that at all. Double arrggghhhh!)

Singing in the Rain

It’s making me feel a bit anxious right now. I just wish I could get some inspiration for my second theme. I’m thinking about ‘the marketplace’, but I want to do something a bit different from the immediate first thought of ‘fruit and veg’ market stalls. I was maybe thinking my friends could pretend they were ‘on the market’ so to speak. LOL. But….I don’t know. God… this is so hard!

*praying to the inspiration gods*

Le ciel en feu

We had such a gorgeous sunset today that I just had to share it with you.

This is a two minute walk from chez Nez. I’m a sucker for all the silhouettes…..

Pizza and chips

I’m having pizza and chips for tea because I’m tired and I can just bung them in the oven.

Although this weekend we had our two coldest nights this winter, I’ve been able to spend a fair bit of the weekend outside in the garden. The skies have been a perfect blue again, so the sun soon melted the frost, and the ground was quite easy to work with.

On Saturday, after a bit of hmmming and hawing I decided I’m going to put trellis against three of the panels along the long stretch of fence. This then resulted in me moving a few plants around so that the ones that ‘climb’ would be closer to where I envisage the trellis will be. Job jobbed for now.

After that I embarked on ‘Operation returf’ (or ‘Operation resod’ for any American visitors). You can probably tell what it is from the name. This is the bit I’m battling with. It’s full of moss and weeds and it’s just got to go so I can re-turf to match what I did last year. (I’m sorry – I just don’t have the patience to sow grass seed.)

The next job

Digging up turf is quite an energetic business. Well…the way I do it is. My ‘technique’ (or lack of it) is to yank up small squares with a garden fork and bash the **** out of them to remove as much soil as possible and then lugging tubfuls of the stuff to the patio and making a big pile there for removal at a later stage. Every time the energy levels started dipping I imagined the face of someone I don’t much care for and – hey presto –  suddenly I was able to whack-away with gusto again. (I’m not really violent, I promise!)

Operation re-turf

I got just over half-way through which was quite satisfying for one weekend. (Some of you may think that’s a fairly paltry amount, but remember I’m only dainty.) As long as the weather is kind again, I know I’ll be able to finish it next weekend. Then it will be a case of making sure I’ve got all the weeds and big stones out and preparing the ground for new turf.

I can’t wait until it’s done because I’ll be so close to the end of the ‘heavy jobs’ and I really want to be able to enjoy ‘tending’ to the garden this year instead of toiling away. After this bit of returfing is done, the last heavy job for me is filling a skip with this old turf (unfortunately there’s too many weeds for composting to be a option) and all those stones. I cannot wait for those stones to be gone, and have pencilled in hiring a skip for the long Easter weekend.

Boy, am I looking forward to giving the patio a good old clean.  Power-hose, here I come. 🙂

Quick Sunday Catch-up

Just a few words to show what I did last Sunday.

When I planted up my lavender plants last year the idea was they would have bedding plants in front of them. I hadn’t really appreciated quite how much of the garden I’d allocated to bedding plants (which is expensive and also not so good for winter). So when I was seduced by this lot…

…a couple of weeks ago, I realised (since they don’t grow particularly enormous) I could move the lavender to the front of the bed and the put the new plants in behind them.

So, that’s exactly what I did.

Sunday - before Sunday - after

Fingers and toes crossed the lavender doesn’t seem too unhappy about the move so far. The new plants look good, and hopefully have enough room to stretch their legs. I’m looking forward to seeing them grow. I just need to feed them a bit this coming weekend, and mulch them with bark.

Operation Belfast

“So what’s Operation Belfast?” I hear you ask.It refers to a shallow Belfast sink which has been around for a long time.  It used to live at the school where my mum taught until it was ripped out and due to be thrown away at which point it found itself in a new home in our front garden for about 18 years or so. When I had the front garden ‘done’ it got moved to the back garden where it has been languishing in various places unused and unloved.

Last year I thought I wanted it by the greenhouse, but it turned out I didn’t. Then inspired by something I saw on flickr I decided I wanted it right the other side of the garden, by the fence where it could have a mirror inside and become a sort of pond/bird bath sort of thing.

So I set about moving it and, to be frank, didn’t get very far at all. I’m not sure how heavy it is other than “very”. I’m pretty sure it’s a lot more than what I weigh myself. (I’m not very big.) I managed to tip it upside down on the lawn where it’s stayed ever since.

I had envisaged getting a Big Strong Man to finish the relocation scheme, but a couple of weekends ago I had the idea of rolling it to its new home. As the weather here today was so lovely (sunny, dry, not too cold, no wind, birds singing etc) I thought it was the perfect opportunity to put Operation Belfast into action.

Turning it back over the right way was the first challenge. Trust me – it’s ridiculously heavy and also completely awkward for getting any “purchase” on. (Thank goodness it’s not a particularly deep sink.) The good news is that once I got into my stride, the rolling idea DID actually work – although I think I’m going to hurt tomorrow.

I had to keep ‘jacking’ it up (using a fork) onto bricks to slide the poles back under, and the first bit was very hard going as the ground isn’t very flat. Then as I got closer to the fence I realised I would have to temporarily dig up a couple of plants (unless I wanted them to have a pancake treatment).

My pathway got covered up under a couple of sheets so it didn’t get scratched, and the last bit of positioning was largely done by me sitting on the ground and pushing it from brick to brick with my feet. Anyway, it’s there now, and I think this time it DOES actually look like it’s in the right place. (Thank goodness.)

The whole operation took a knackering one and a half hours, but it was one of those very satisfying jobs once it was done.

Operation Belfast

Operation Belfast

Operation Belfast

Operation Belfast

Micro Gardening

As it was sunny and I wasn’t at work today, I did a little prowling around the garden seeing what’s what. Tiny forces were at work all over the place.

First I got over excited to spot another baby rhubarb plant popping up (one I didn’t know was there – about an inch high so far). Then in the greenhouse I was first ecstatic to find weeny buds meant 3 out of my 4 clematises (clematii??) are actually still alive after all AND then tipped into a state of utter delirium to discover a fifth geramium/pelagonium has a shoot about a millimetre long. I have taken photos, but honestly….they’re really, really ridiculously tiny so not worth adding here.

Outside, buds are starting to appear on most of the usual stuff but there’s still a couple of things (a magnolia and two hydrangeas – all new last year) that I’m looking at suspiciously because I’m genuinely not sure if they’re still with us or not. Time will tell.

On a much brighter – and visible – note, I have plenty of crocuses romping away. These are by my front door. It’s the same clump a couple of hours apart. I had no idea they opened so much in the daytime since I’m not normally around to see it.

Crocuses for Katie Crocuses for Katie

And finally – something I hope UHDD gets to see – two of the dwarf irises I potted up last weekend opened up this morning. I swear they weren’t there when I first opened the curtains, but about lunchtime it was a case of ‘ta-dah!’.

First iris

The forecast for tomorrow is lovely and sunny all day, so I plan on doing a little digging.

Pottering

Due to a combination of wintery weather and sore necks, this was the only gardening that got done this weekend. It took a lengthy five minutes.


Spring pot

I just potted up the tulips, dwarf daffodils and dwarf irises I bought last weekend. I think they look happy enough and I’ll be keeping an eye out for colour when I open my curtains in the morning.

Now that I’m starting to understand how cameras work and how to control, I also had a go at a few close-up photos of the few crocuses that have been brave enough to show their faces so far. I’m quite pleased with how this one came out. The green behind is Aubreita. (You have to pop over to flickr and view the large version to get the full impression.)

I’m medicating my neck with a combination of ibuprofen pills and gel, and gin and tonic. It’s feeling a bit better. 🙂