Sunday, 30 September 2012

A family portrait

sandra & jonno

A few months ago I was commissioned to draw a family portrait for my friend Sandra. She asked for a picture of her side of the family, along with her husband's, all doing different things in a park scene. It was a bit of a challenge to complete as I don't often draw things that are quite so detailed (and on a large scale!). But I was really pleased with the result, and happily so was she. Here are a few of the initial drawings I did, along with the final image, below. (It's rather wide so best viewed at full size on flickr.) I am still in the midst of setting up an etsy store to sell my portraits, but feel free to get in touch if you'd like one of your own!
portrait on the swings

on the park bench

park life

Full Picture 110712
The final park scene!

Friday, 28 September 2012

Film Friday: To Rome with Love

Rome was the latest city to inspire Woody Allen, after Barcelona and Paris before it. I enjoyed Midnight in Paris and was a little dubious as to whether Woody Allen could sustain the magic in his new film. To Rome with Love centres around different circles of people living in the beautiful sun-soaked city. I did end up enjoying the film but a few of the stories grated on me after a while (I got tired of Robert Benigni's role quite quickly and wasn't sure if Alec Baldwin's parts quite worked) - and some of the comedy fell a bit flat. But Rome itself looked wonderful, and the cast were good, making the film worth checking out if you enjoy Woody Allen's more lighthearted films.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Pretty Dandy

Just wanted to post about the Pretty Dandy flea, which is being held here in Nottingham this Saturday. It looks really fun, with lots of stalls selling art, vintage goodies and records. Plus it's being held in the Congregational Church so I'm quite intrigued to find out what its like inside.

I'm not enjoying this week much so far, the rain's been pretty miserable, so I'm busy planning fun things to do in the coming months to try and drive away winter blues!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Lomography vs Photography


When I heard last week that the Guardian were looking for lomography photo submissions, on a 'travel' theme I decided to submit a couple of action-sampler shots I'd taken on a trip to Barcelona a few years ago. I was happy when they emailed me back the next day, asking if they could use one of them (above) in their online gallery.

I don't think mine is a particularly amazing shot, but I quite like how bright and cheerful photo looks and I love playing with four frames, not knowing what you'll get when the film's developed. I wasn't quite sure about the 3D wall used to display the photos on the site, but I thought the other entries were all really good - it was only when I scrolled down a bit to read the comments that I was a little disappointed. A lot of readers had left negative comments about the photos that had been chosen - I guess this is quite common on message boards in general. But a lot of the comments seemed quite bitchy and were along the lines of lomography being an expensive hobby for 'hipsters' - something you could easily achieve with a camera phone instead. I'm far from snobby about photography - I value my digital camera just as much as my fisheye (which I got for a fiver from a charity shop!). But I feel that lomo photos on film cameras are meant to be cheerful, spontaneous and really.. just a bit of fun! Although some of the cameras do seem expensive, I think it's great the way Lomography have popularised taking photos on film and not taking it all so seriously. What do you think, is lomography an over-expensive hobby or do you enjoy using film cameras and not knowing how your shots will come out?

Monday, 24 September 2012

Save the badgers!

Above image by Jon Boam.

Here in the UK at the moment there is a campaign to try and save badgers from being unnecessarily killed. Badgers apparently spread TB to cows, but independent studies have showed culling badgers has little impact on the spread of the disease. As well as a campaign headed by Chris Packham a group of illustrators designed a series of artworks to help spread the message which were exhibited in June. If you'd like to add your voice you can sign a petition here.

Image above: by Essy May

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Weekend in pictures


This weekend was the first I'd spent at home for a while, so I made the most of being in Nottingham. On Saturday I wandered into Hockley where Broad Street had been covered in 'lawn' and made car-free for the day, allowing people to learn more about cycling and public transport. I also had chance to take a photo for my stranger project, of a friendly lady who was playing a hurdy-gurdy - an interesting medieval instrument I'd not seen before. Then I headed to Aubrey's Creperie - a nice little French-style pancake shop in the West End Arcade I'd wanted to visit for a while. My banana-nutella crepe was pretty great (although we seemed to be waiting for them for ages, my tummy was grumbling!)

tom and kat

banana choc

On Saturday evening we invited some friend over for a cheese 'n' LP's evening. The cheese selection was amazing, and the LPs were pretty good too! Today the weather wasn't so good but I managed to start a new photo project (will reveal more soon) and I'm now in the middle of making some blue cheese & broccoli soup, using up some of the leftover cheese from last night. There's nothing better on a rainy Sunday than making soup and watching an old film. Hope you all had good weekends as well! x

Ali & Tina


girl talk

Friday, 21 September 2012

Film Friday: A Clockwork Orange (exhibition)


Just thought I'd tie in this week's film post with a few photos taken last weekend on a trip to Manchester. There is currently an exhibition to celebrate 50 years of A Clockwork Orange being held at the John Rylands Library in Deansgate. If you live in Manchester and have never been, you must! The building is really beautiful inside and out. The exhibition was also worth a visit if you are a fan of the classic film. Anthony Burgess, who wrote the book hails from Manchester originally. On display at the exhibition are letters between the author and Stanley Kubrick, memorabilia from the film and even Burgess's old typewriter. There are also newspaper articles documenting the controversial nature of the film, which was banned from being shown in Britain for 27 years.

Manchester library

Thursday, 20 September 2012

How to Make a Rubik's Cube Cake!

making a rubik's cube cake

Earlier this week my friend Sarah and I made a Rubik's Cube cake as a birthday present for somebody who is apparently a bit of a champion at them! This cake was really fun to make, although it did take us around 3 hours in total due to the separate layers, meaning we didn't finish til around 11pm! Whew! If you'd like to have a go (they're also good for 80's themed parties) here are the instructions. (Warning: a lot of sugar is involved... but hey that's part of the fun!)



For the Victoria Sponge Cake

225g/8oz butter or margarine, softened at room temperature
225g/8oz caster sugar
4 medium eggs
225g/8oz self raising flour
2 tsp vanilla extract
milk, to loosen

For the chocolate ganache coating

250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
250ml double cream
1 tablespoon dark rum (optional)

For the buttercream

140g/5oz butter, softened
280g/10oz icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk

Other things you'll need:

Ready to roll icing in 6 colours (you can buy this in packs from Lakeland - a lot easier than colouring your own icing individually!)
Square baking tin
Rolling pin
2+ mixing bowls

1. Firstly you'll need to make 3 Victoria sponge cakes, to make the layers of the cake. We used this recipe though you may need to slightly increase quantities. You can either divide the mixture into three cake tins or bake it in three stages using the same tin, as we did. When each layer is done, leave to cool while you make the icing.

We had a little helper...

2. Next make the chocolate ganache. This is pretty easy to do, we followed this recipe and added some rum to taste. Yum!


3. Next dust a chopping board with some icing sugar and roll out each icing colour to make a rough square. We cut a square out of paper to use as a template to ensure each square was the same size. Now cut the large square into 9 smaller ones, to make up the separate coloured squares!

4. Now to make the butter-cream icing to put in between each layer! This recipe works well.

cut cake

5. When all the layers of the cake are cool, assemble them and trim off the edges so that the cake is more square-shaped. (We had to add an extra layer in the end, to make it a bit taller from the bits we'd cut off!)


6. Now add the butter-cream between the layers. Pour the ganache icing on top of the cake and spread over the edges.


7. Finally, stick on the coloured squares and you've made your Rubik's Cake. Hurrah!

Monday, 17 September 2012

List: 29 Before 30


A while ago I started writing a list of 29 things to do before I turn 30. Well it's coming up pretty fast, I have 8 months to go which I can't quite believe! Scary - but does 30 really feel much different? Here is the list - I'll see how many things I can tick off by May next year. (Photos above taken at Tom's gran's 80th birthday recently!)

1. Finish making the travel zines (the first, all about Dubrovnik is all done and we have two left to print!)
2. Find a lovely new job
3. Visit Manchester's Christmas market
4. Save enough money to buy a camper van for an exciting trip!
5. Open an etsy shop
6. Draw more portraits for people
7. Cycle my bike more
8. Print out more photos to put into albums
9. Spend a night at my Nan's house, and watch an old film with her
10. Improve my skills on the ukulele
11. Make more handmade gifts for people instead of buying them
12. Hold a craft night with friends
13. Learn a new recipe (perhaps this one as it's a favourite when i eat out!)
14. Volunteer more at the New Art Exchange
15. Visit the new Bowie exhibition at the V&A
16. Go to a zine fair
17. Sell more things I don't use on eBay
18. Sell some zines!
19. Try out Nottingham's new patisserie for fancy cake and tea
20. Discover a new band
21. Finish my 50 Strangers photo project (I seem to have hit a hurdle now after person 31)
22. Hang out with my brother more
23. Read another classic novel
24. Hold a Halloween film-night with added ghost stories
25. Send a drawing to my cousin
26. Go an autumn walk through Wollaton Park (and visit my favourite tree!)
27. Do more freelance work
28. Visit Scotland (I've never been but really want to)
29. Travel to somewhere exciting to spend my birthday

Friday, 14 September 2012

Film Friday: Ones to watch..

I've not had chance to watch a film this week (although I've watched many episodes of Spaced, which always cheers me up!) So I thought I'd write a post about upcoming films I'm excited about seeing in the next few months.

1. The Perks of Being a Wallflower - out October 3rd
I read the book a few years ago so am intrigued to see how it works in film form. I'm not too sure about Emma Watson but the film also stars Paul Rudd, which I feel is a good sign!

2. Frankenweenie - out 17th October
This new animation by Tim Burton is out just in time for Halloween, which should make for good viewing. (Plus Winona Ryder is in it, hurrah!)

3. The Hobbit - out 14th December
Although I'm not a huge fan of Lord of the Rings, my Dad used to read the Hobbit to me as a child so I'd quite like to watch the film when it finally comes out at the end of this year.

4. This is 40 - out 14th Feb 2013
Judd Apatow is back with this sequel to 'Knocked Up'.

5. Django Unchained - out 18th January 2013
Another film which sounds intriguing is Quentin Tarantino's latest project, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Jamie Foxx.

6. Wreck it Ralph - out 15th February 2013
Here's one that Tom got very excited about, as it's an animation starring a host of well known video game characters! The trailer did indeed look fun.

And finally ...

The End of the World - out 28th June 2013
Um, should I apologise for putting 3 films starring Paul Rudd on the list? This film looks interesting nonetheless! It's directed by Seth Rogen and the plot goes as follows: a bunch of celebrities (including Michael Cera!) are at a party at James Franco's house when they are faced with the apocalypse. This film could turn out to be really good, or really bad. Hopefully the former!

(*Note: quite pleased with how the colours happened to match on the film posters above! The graphic designer in me is happy!)

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Industry of One

There are some beautiful, dreamy photographs on Industry of One, a site showcasing different creative folk across the US. It's fun reading through each person's biography and seeing how they got to work as photographers, artists and so on (although a lot do make me quite envious!) See more here.


Sunday, 9 September 2012

Nottingham's top 5 curry houses (updated)


I don't usually write food reviews, but was thinking lately about how many good curry restaurants there are in Nottingham. The street I live on has at least five curry-houses on it alone, and whilst Nottingham may not quite rival places like Birmingham or Bradford for choice, I thought it may be handy for anyone visiting the city to know which restaurant is best. So here is my list! (Note: I usually order the same dish in each, the saag aloo paneer, so it's a pretty fair test! Yum..)

Perhaps the most renowned curry place in Nottingham, this Michelin-starred restaurant lies in a slightly unglamorous location on Derby Road.

Service ★ (perhaps a little too attentive even!)
Price ££££

Kayal, based in Hockley, specialises in South Indian cuisine, and has an amazing choice of food on offer. If in doubt you can order a platter of smaller dishes to try.

Price £££

When it first opened up at its venue in Sneinton I was a little worried when I passed by, as no-one seemed to be visiting. Since then, Desi Downtown has grown phenomenally by word-of mouth, probably making it the most popular restaurant amongst my friends (and certainly the majority of my old workmates!) Definitely make sure to book ahead.

Venue ★ (there is a shisha lounge too outside)
Service ★ (usually good but sometimes suffers when it gets busy!)
Price £ (good value!)

We recently visited Cumin, one of Nottingham's newer curry venues and were most impressed! We sat upstairs which was pleasant and the restaurant was nice and quiet. I couldn't fault the food, and you even get a free bangle after you've paid up! Another reason to keep going back...

Price ££

4550 Miles from Delhi

Price £££


Thursday, 6 September 2012

Adventures in Anglesey


Last weekend me and ten friends headed to the lovely island of Anglesey, in North Wales for a mini break. It was a wonderful weekend, filled with sunshine, ice creams and games of hide and seek (and sardines!) in the house we all stayed in. I miss the sea already and would definitely recommend a trip there if you've never been! It's where Prince William & Kate live so can't be half bad, right?!

Here are a few things we got up to during our stay..

Went to the windiest beach ever! The sand was whipping our legs but I still managed to do a bit of paddling!

Sadly the local puffins had flown away for the season so we made do by visiting these ones at the RSPB centre!

We went crabbing on the pier- it was too exciting!

Me with my catch! (Of course we didn't use hooks, the crabs grabbed hold of the bait we fished with, and were safely returned to the ocean after we'd peered at them for a bit!)

Can't have a seaside trip without fish & chips on the beach!

We played many a board game, including a strange one called Ubi (don't ask!), Articulate and Scotland Yard (above). It's quite a head-scratcher!

A group shot was set up on self-timer outside Beaumaris Castle.. we all tried to squeeze in quite unnecessarily!

On the way home we also visited Conwy Castle, which is amazing! In fact the whole town is quite beautiful, surrounded by ancient walls built at the same time as the castle.

Conwy (you can see the shadows of the castle on the left!)

We tried to spell out WALES with our shadows.. well it kind of worked?


Monday, 3 September 2012

Mixtape Memories by Janet

Next up to offer some memories of a mixtape is one of my favourite bloggers of recent times, Janet. here she tells us about a hand-clapping tape she was made, which is sure to cheer anyone up. Thanks JB!

My brother, Richard, gives great gifts, and my absolute favourite present from him was this mixtape. Titled ‘Handclapping Songs’, it was prompted by a discussion many years ago in which I mentioned that adding handclaps to a song immediately made said song awesome. About six months later – six months in which Richard had spent hour upon hour listening out for handclaps in songs, noting down the title and adding it to the mix – I opened my Christmas presents and found the tape. Best. Present. Ever.

The mix included songs I already loved (The Shins, Badly Drawn Boy, Ben Folds), reminded me of old favourites (Garbage, Kenickie, Air), and introduced me to artists (Todd Rundgren, The Beach Boys) that I’d never taken much notice of before. Subsequent editions of handclapping songs mixes have been made by Richard over the years, with the series now available in cassette and CD format (cassettes for my car – yes,
that’s how ancient it is – and CDs for home), but volume one is the original and the best.

Side 1
1. The Meters – Handclapping Song
2. Garbage – Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)
3. Wilco – Nothing’severgonnastandinmyway (again)
4. The Beatles – Good Day Sunshine
5. The Beatles – And Your Bird Can Sing
6. Air – Radio # 1
7. The Flaming Lips – Brainville
8. The Ramones – Sheena Is A Punk Rocker
9. Lambchop – Up With People
10. REM – Get Up
11. Sly & The Family Stone – Stand
12. Kenickie – Come Out 2 Nite
13. Todd Rundgren – We Gotta Get You A Woman
14. Stevie Wonder – Higher Ground

Side 2
1. The Shins – Kissing The Lipless
2. Badly Drawn Boy – Bewilderbeast
3. The Kinks – People Take Pictures Of Each Other
4. The Beach Boys – Do It Again
5. Evan Dando – Waking Up
6. Beck – Where It’s At
7. Junior Senior – Chicks & Dicks
8. Teenage Fanclub – Metal Baby
9. Nikka Costa – Like A Feather
10. Gomez – Las Vegas Dealer
11. The Concretes – You Can’t Hurry Love
12. Ben Folds – Annie Waits
13. Big Star – Watch The Sunrise

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Sketchbook Sundays: The Sketching Backpacker

Recently I came across these sketchbook pages by a man known as the Sketching Backpacker. I love how he uses leaves and other things found on his travels as inspiration for his sketches. See more on his tumblr page here.

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