Saturday, May 31, 2014

The Isle Of Wight...


A little warning to begin, this is quite a photo heavy post, but I think it's worth it...

We are back home after a wonderful few days on the Isle Of Wight. It was just what we needed after 3 months of living on top of each other surrounded by building chaos. Booking for half-term was not deliberate, but nowhere was over-run and we found the whole island reasonably priced, low key and a little old-fashioned. A really pleasant surprise.


Godshill Model village which I have wanted to visit for so many years lived up to expectations. The buildings are copies of the full size ones that surround them in Godshill, including a model of the model village itself. Which means there is a full size church, a 1/10th scale one, a model of the model and a model of the model of the model. It confuses me just writing that.


We stayed at the Priory Bay Hotel in Seaview. We had ajoining rooms and Theo's was decorated beautifully in a nautical theme. It was the first time he'd slept in a proper big bed and he took to it immediately.

The hotel has a lovely private beach right on the Solent. Although the weather let us down a bit, it was still a great place to spend time looking for shells and climbing on washed up tree trunks. With the greenery coming right down to the sand, it reminded me very much of the wild parts of Vancouver Island. 


The food was amazing. You have to try the afternoon tea if you visit...


We visited the garlic farm, where there were chickens, hamsters and some visiting owls to keep Theo entertained. Lunch had come highly recommended and although we couldn't get a table in the main restaurant, we had delicious soup and a roll in front of a log burner in their cafe. Lunch and free entertainment for under a tenner - that's my kind of day!


And then finally we spent a great morning walking (and cycling) the three miles between Shanklin & Sandown on the seafront, past the beach huts at Small Hope Beach.


The sun even shone briefly when we walked along Sandown pier. I do love a proper British seaside town...


Our three days on the island exceeded our expectations. Good food, good activities and easy to get to. The hotel was fab and staffed by lovely people. I hope we'll be back.

Theo loved the whole experience too as you can tell from the tired sulky face on the ferry on the way home. He would have been quite happy to stay for the whole week...


There are more pictures on my Instagram account, you can follow me here.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

We're off to The Island...

Later this week we're off for a short break in the Isle Of Wight, or as it's known in this neck of the woods... The Island. We'll be traveling over on Red Funnel and staying at the beautiful Priory Bay Hotel which I booked using some Red Letter Day vouchers I won last year.

In truth, the older I get the more I love holidaying in the UK. The simple pleasure of being able to fill your car with your home comforts, of not having to negotiate a packed airport or of worrying about vaccines, medicines and passports. I was also brought up on holidays that involved cross channel ferries and I've always preferred the freedom of wandering around a boat to the restriction of an aircraft seat.

Priory Bay seems to have everything I love in a hotel. Huge grounds (and a private beach, yay!) along with a highly praised restaurant and beautiful rooms.

So we are off to explore an island I can see from our house (just), but which I haven't stepped foot on for 15 years. Amongst the bits I am looking forward to most are...

Godshill Model Village - My parents took my sister there when she was younger and tormented me with the photos and stories of how far away it was. Now I'm finally going to get to go. Oh hang on... Now I'm finally going to get to take Theo. It's all about him, don't forget.

The Garlic Farm - Apparently a surprisingly good day out according to my neighbour and by the looks of things they do yummy food too!

Blackgang Chine - I saw photos of this last year on Caroline's blog and I confess it was actually the first I had heard of it. Jim was a little sceptical, but I've sold him on the newly installed animatronic dinosaurs

Shanklin - I never could resist a seafront promenade and a few beach huts. Hopefully if we have some dry weather we can let Theo loose on his balance bike here too.

Pop back next week for a report and lots of pictures...

Photos provided by Priory Bay Hotel

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Monday, May 26, 2014

Living Arrows : 21/52


I've started a little photo project with Theo this week. He's at the age where he's starting to have little trademark phrases that he says over and over. I could write them down in a book, but instead I've decided to record them in photographs with the aid of a blackboard, that way they won't get lost and I'll also have a visual record of the age he was when he said them too.

So this is the first. It refers to the morning at nursery where he stays an extra hour for lunch (at a price of £9.20 - so you see why it's just the one day!) If you make any reference to Wednesday, this is what he parrots back immediately, usually in a rather excited voice.

Of course the mantra about "working with children" remains true. He struggled a bit with the concept of holding the blackboard up at first...

living arrows

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Friday, May 23, 2014

5 things I wish I had known when I bought a DSLR

1. That my cheapest lens would also be my favourite

When I got my first DSLR I rushed out and bought a huge expensive zoom lens for it, because zooming in and out is really cool! 6 years later I don't own that zoom and most of the time when I take photos I use one of two lenses, the 50mm I bought 5 years ago (which has outlasted all my camera kit) and my 35mm. The 50mm cost me £90 but because of its aperture range it is wonderful for photos of food and people.

2. Joining a Camera Club teaches you more than doing a course

There are camera clubs up and down the country and they are a goldmine of knowledge. Joining one will introduce you to people who have a huge and varied knowledge of photography that you can access weekly for free (well for the price of membership at least) it will get you involved in club competitions which will push you to improve your photography and allow you to have your work critiqued rather than just having nice things said about it, which is hard at first but invaluable if you want to improve.

3. Shoot in RAW even before you know why you need to

RAW files are a form of digital negative which give you the flexibility to edit your photos in a non-destructive way. It can save an under or over-exposed picture and correct white balance. I spent months being (politely) nagged by friends to switch to shooting in RAW until I finally got it. Now I go back to old images and want to weep that I don't have the RAW files to alter. If you are taking important images (birthdays, portraits, one off experiences) change your camera to "RAW + JPEG" and tuck the RAW files away, one day you will be grateful!

4. That great images (mostly) don't come straight from camera

When I first got an SLR I was really disappointed that the images it took often appeared quite dull. I eventually learned that most photos can be improved with some subtle tweaks to exposure or saturation and a little sharpening and some can be improved by radical changes. Taking the picture is really only half the job. There are loads of software options around, I personally use Lightroom & Photoshop,  but Photoshop Elements is brilliant for beginners.

5. That light can make or break a photo

Many amateurs (me included a while ago) wrongly assume that full sunlight is "good" (you often hear people cooing "oh look and the sun has come out too!" as a photo is taken.) The truth is full sun is flattering to no one and nothing, the easy option is to seek out the even cover of shade, but my big leap was understanding that you can achieve beautiful images if you shoot with the sun behind your subject (and their face in the shade) providing it is low enough in the sky.

So, what do you wish you had known when you bought your DSLR?

PS -  I am over at today as part of their My Best Photos feature.

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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

House remodel : Progress report

I have already forgotten how many weeks have gone by since we started the house remodel. It feels like a lifetime since we last saw the rooms of the old house intact, but we are nearer the end that the beginning now and everyone is feeling optimistic.

Today most of our new and replacement windows went in. I held my breath the whole day wondering if we've made the right choice to put sash windows into a period-less (but hundred year-old) property, but they went in and I swooned a little at their loveliness.


Back when we started with an old bungalow and a blank piece of paper for this remodel I told our architect that I wanted it to be a "jacket and jeans house." Smart, but approachable, the kind of house that makes you say "ahhh isn't it lovely" rather than "Wow, isn't it impressive"  

He took all my collected architectural fantasies from a Pinterest board and pulled them together into something that made immediate sense, but still I have little islands of doubt where I question myself.

Inside we are now making choices we will live with for a long time. Kitting out two bathrooms in a way that hopefully won't date. I wanted tongue and groove boarding for the main bathroom so we researched and then ordered moisture resistant MDF boarding, which looked immensely disappointing when they arrived - Sort of green and cardboard like! Apparently it is great when painted, but privately this is another area I am holding my breath on!

Next week we have a very exciting development lined up as the scaffolding (in the most part) will be coming down ahead of the render and weatherboard going up. For the first time we will be able to see the house as one and see the views we will have upstairs too (which are currently hidden by the wrap) after that I may allow myself to think about interiors, settling in and unpacking...

PS - I forgot to add, last week we finally had approval on our materials from the council. Yes that's the materials we already had ordered or installed, like the slates, the windows, the sofits and the weatherboard. They had a maximum of 12 weeks to approve it and they took 11 weeks and 6 days.

Love Chic Living and Love Your Home

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Living Arrows : 20/52

ISO 220, 50mm, f/2.0, 1/50

We taught Theo the phrase "cool dude" this week. Now he says "No big boy. Theo cool dude" and I try really hard o keep a straight face. 

The glasses are (were) mine, another thing he has stolen from me and is carrying off with far greater aplomb. I just need to capture him wearing one of my necklaces at the same time so I can complete the embarassing photo collection for when he's older.

living arrows

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