This just arrived in the morning post…


It’s my husband’s latest eBay victory. A genuine thistle (decal) shot glass. One of a set of four (although he only bought three of them, because the 4th one was listed as cracked and so during the comms part of the excitement, he told the sellers they could just keep the broken one.)

ME:    How much did you spend on this?
HIM:   Uhm… I can’t remember. Maybe a fiver? Continue reading

wpid-Photo-20150610133148352.jpgWatching the Iron Lady was a deeply unsettling experience on several levels. Although I never met Margaret Thatcher, she has been a significant motif in my adult life. There were several decades where it seemed I could hardly turn on the radio or TV without hearing her referenced in some way. Which made seeing Meryl Streep’s uncanny portrayal of her in the Iron Lady feel quite personal somehow. In my own case, this was all the more true because the film centres on the late PM’s descent into Alzheimer’s – a disease which, unlike Maggie, I have unfortunately met, and more than once now.

Continue reading

My husband, a photographer who specialises in antiquarian photographic processes, decided to have a go at teaching me to a wet plate collodion image. He started by asking me to have a think about what I’d like to shoot, and then rejected all my suggestions on the basis that they weren’t ‘still’ enough.
‘Pick something that can’t move. Ideally, a heavy object. How about your Kenwood mixer?’

Because what girl doesn’t want a photograph of her kitchen mixer, right? Continue reading

It should have been a lovely day. Yes, there was a brisk chill in the air, but the sun was ’splitting the sky’, as my mother-in-law was fond of saying, as we drove off to see her for a spot of birthday afternoon tea.  We had stopped off to buy an assortment of cupcakes and chocolates, and my husband had chosen a gorgeous bouquet of flowers. For the past few years, when looking after her at home stretched us to breaking point, my husband’s mother has has been living in grand old house tucked away in the English countryside. From the dangling wisteria, to the endless offerings of toasted tea cakes, it’s all very National Trust – only with locks on the doors and handrails and wheelchair ramps tastefully fitted into the mahogany panelling. Continue reading

I find it endlessly fascinating to see the way one art form overlaps with another, and once you look past the dazzling watercolours and oil paints, Sky Arts Portrait Painter of the Year is really a master class in writing techniques. Portraiture is, of course, all about conveying character in brush or pencil strokes. Writers […]

Hope it works for you, too.   (Big thanks to Sumit for the tip off…) Jamie xx: Sleep Sound on

Mr happy


We are very lucky to have a gaggle of nieces and nephews, and friends who have kids ranging from newborn to at Uni and beyond.  So, even though we don’t have children of our own, it’s not as though we don’t ever get to experience just how hilarious (and exasperating) they can be.

Generally, this is in the context of large social gatherings, where everyone is jumping in to have their say. So, until recently, it was unusual for me to have any ‘quiet’ time with children.  But this year, I’ve been doing a bit of regular babysitting for friends who have an evening course commitment.  Continue reading

Melanie-ByTony-MediumI get my picture taken a lot. On a bad day, this can mean dozens of times.  The reason?  Usually, it’s because I am ‘there’; standing around on the set of a shoot my husband is setting up, and therefore a sitting duck for any other photographer who happens to have their camera in hand and wants to just ‘check the light’ and what it is doing to skin tones. 
Until recently (like ten days ago) I absolutely hated having my picture taken.  Then, last Sunday, I was standing around on an outside location shoot at which a group of photographers had turned up to help (it’s has been my experience that photographers travel in packs, or herds even).  Elizabeth Molineux was on hand, ‘testing’ a camera she had borrowed for a particular job she was doing later in the week.  This ‘testing’ involved picking people off from the herd one-by-one, and holding her lens a few millimetres from their faces.  Continue reading

When, in late December of 2012, I decided that 2013 would by my year of thinking more consciously about creativity in all its many forms; how it inspires us and drives us onwards, I was not really expecting to wind up in a three-man tent (which doubles as a portable dark room), in a campsite […]

If you have been completely cut off from all news and media sources for the last month, you may have missed some surprising news.  Or, at least, it surprised me.  The Bell Jar turned fifty this year.  It was a shock, since I was sure it was from the 60s, which was like twenty five years ago.  But not so.

For many female writers who came next, the ghost of Sylvia Plath has always loomed large.  Lately, I feel as though she is everywhere I turn.  Even this morning, as I was waiting to wave someone away in our drive, I absently switched on the radio on the windowsill and just happened to catch Hayley Atwell reading from Andrew Wilson’s new Plath biography Mad Girl’s Love Song.  I hadn’t realised this was the BBC book of the week, although, had I stopped for one minute to consider what it might be, I would have had to guess this, or the Bell Jar itself.  (I will search the schedule in a minute, it must surely be there, or on BBC4.)  After all, Sylvia and her infectious, feminine, feminist madness is everywhere at the moment.

Which is, in my view, a good thing.  Continue reading