Just a light diversion from the Kent seaside ...

Friday, March 06, 2015


We have sand, sea and sun. We also have three towns within a few miles of each other.

My Margate home and the town's beaches face North.

Broadstairs is the next town along the coast with an East facing bay and harbour and is where my wife and I ran a shop for the best part of ten years.

Then a little further along we come to Ramsgate, with a Royal harbour and marina facing South. Before the shop, we had an hotel here for a similar period.

Yesterday I had to visit my dentist in Ramsgate and rewarded my bravery with a delightful coffee outside The Galley, overlooking the marina. The early spring sunshine was just enough to lift the temperature into double figures for the first time this year ... but not yet strong enough to give me brilliant picture postcard colours.

Ramsgate Marina
But, for those of you with happy memories of The Isle of Thanet's three towns ... or if it is too long since you saw the   sea ... here are some pictures.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Field Notes and Traveler's Notebook Creativity

Rubber stamp artwork by Koerby
In the absence of any personal inspiration this morning, I offer you these desk-top pictures posted on Flickr by someone named 'Koerby'.

I would have asked their permission if I knew where or how to contact him or her. Anyway, I trust they will accept this as a small tribute to their creative skills.

Almost monochrome
MTN and inserts
Moonlit inspirations

MTN collage

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Hotel Boredom and EDC

68 years since I last rode my red 'n' white Lambretta

Patrick Ng's time out from calligraphy

Patrick's Hotel Room still life

Inspiration from brokeandbespoke.com
By way of introduction, it is 57 years since I seemed intent on suicide by scooter. The end came when I fell off once too often in Rotherhithe Tunnel when the road was a  wet slick from the rain swept tyres of lorries and cars Southbound.

It is 7 years tomorrow since I stopped killing myself with cigarettes and yes, here's a clue to my favourite brand of the time. They were expensive then, but now, how can anyone afford them?

Between those periods I spent far too long away from home in hotel rooms around the world. If anyone tells you that a jet-set lifestyle is fun, you can tell them from me, it isn't!

  Invariably there will be times when you are stuck in a hotel room waiting for the next
  mealtime, taxi, meeting or whatever. Not long enough to do anything useful or to go anywhere
  but, too long to do nothing once you have read the 'welcome pack' several times and learnt the
  emergency exit information by heart.

   That is when you can amuse yourself  by creating still life photographs with whatever is
   available. Then it is a small step to making a picture of your ECD [Every Day Carry] No
   wonder some people find travel such a tiring business!

  There is even an ECD website where some poor souls seem prepared for the end of the world as
  they know it. An amazing number seem armed with guns and assorted weaponry.

  I checked out a few websites of the 'today in my bag' variety. Believe me, you really don't  
  wanna go there!!!

Patrick's version of the concept

... so of course, I had a go too ...

... and my own hotel still life ...

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

A solution in search of a problem and some art de Francais

Moleskine Postal Notebook
 Moleskine's Research and Design Department must have been having a few bad hair days back in 2012 when they came up with the concept of the Postal Notebook. Would you pay a fiver or more for an eight page [four sheets] pocket notebook with a cover which morphs into an envelope?

Me neither!

However, when curiosity got the better of me and a tempting offer appeared on eBay, then I acquired some examples in the name of research. It struck me that their design is so simple that even I could make one for a few pennies. Not today however. That is a promise to be fulfilled in the near future.

The main point of today's post is to share some sketches that I found on line whilst looking to see how others had used their Postal Notebooks. I lack any artistic talent ... can it be taught without at least some vestige of ability? ... and yet I can appreciate the work of others.


These sketches and watercolours all originate from a French blog named yal.over-blog.com and you don't really need to read French to guess the gist of the narratives.


Monday, March 02, 2015

Traveler's Notebook Economy Version

Full Marks
Full marks to the folks behind the Midori Traveler's Notebook [MTN] brand for great and creative marketing. Their stuff is beautifully presented and the quality is superb.

Much as I would 'love to keep it authentic' my pockets are not deep so it has become necessary to look for more economical possibilities.

My favourite Field Notes size [A6 as near as makes no difference] is a 'Raydori'. Alas, Ray couldn't fix me royal blue cover to match my admiration for the MTN Pan-Am edition which, at £45, is way beyond my budget. Even so, I liked the idea of homage airlines of my teenage years.

Faked First Pages - click to enlarge

With a laptop printer and some large address labels from Amazon I was able to make a personal 'in case of loss' front page and a faked up facing title page a-la-MTN.

Plenty of possibilities
A quick search for Pan-Am publicity material and another for crew insignia yielded a rich harvest of customising sticker possibilities. MTN haven't announced a price for their sticker sheets yet but I would be surprised to get any change if I punted out a fiver.

Cute stowage
It is useful to have stowage for receipts, stamps and other ephemera. Midori envelopes are top-end pricewise so I found these delightful retro-style airmail envelopes on eBay at £4 for 10 and they fit my Field Notes/Raydori perfectly.

Amazing paper quality for fountain pens
The biggest economy last month was the discovery [Thanks Janette!] that Clairefontaine A6 notebooks from their 1951 series are 1/3rd of the price of kosher Field Notes and the quality of paper is significantly better for my Lamy Safari fountain pen.. I now buy mine from Bureau Direct here in UK.

Wear those wings with pride!
Also available in A5 apparently

My Clairefontaine Raydori ready for customising

Ah ... I remember it well!!!


Sunday, March 01, 2015

200th Post of this series!

One of my favourite blogs, apart from this one, is The Well Appointed Desk which you can click onto over in that right hand column when you've finished this page. That is where I found this airmail collage. Suddenly I was awash with nostalgia!

If you click a picture it may get bigger.

Back in the day when this would be my view from the bridge for 2 x 4-hour watches a day, it was a relief to get to port. Within 24 hours I would be hankering to get back to the wide oceans again.

This was the 1950's when VHF radio was in its infancy and our current 'always in touch' technology was a distant future fantasy.

Our main method of keeping in touch with the folks back home was by air-letters on flimsy aerogram paper. On arrival in port the company's shipping agent would board with a raft of legal papers and a sack of personal mail. This would be replaced with all the crew letters home which the agent would post for us.

These aerogram forms were once given away by Royal Mail for the price of a stamp. [Now I am recalling when it was a postal service before post offices simply became queue managed benefit offices]
Now, reprinted facsimiles are available via amazon ... are you ready for this ... a block of 50 pages is priced at £8.99 + £7.98 postage from USA. and you need to buy a stamp for each one too. Who the hell are they kidding!

Just for fun, I did a search and found several free downloadable templates on line. Here's one I made earlier, from an A4 sheet, just for the fun of it.

Then, on eBay I found this collection of miniature credit-card sized envelopes [great as gift tags or labels maybe?] A pack of ten was about a fiver.

Time to let the pictures do the talking!

Saturday, February 28, 2015

So, it'll soon be Mother's Day in UK

I have been aware of Sharpie Pens for some time but, until now I have never played with them, put off mainly by their price - especially in WH Smith where every price seems to be inflated to max so that - I suspect - they can then offer 'discount coupons' at the till.

So when the same store offered a bumper pack at 'half price with any purchase in store' it seemed like a good idea to buy a local newspaper and use the opportunity to discover the Sharpie magic for myself.

I almost amputated my fingers when trying to get the sharp edged, moulded plastic pack open. Maybe Smith's wanted me to buy scissors there too? Once open, you will be surprised at how much space that many Sharpies can occupy.
Think of trying to herd cats and you'll have some idea. Of course Sharpie are not alone in this. Have you ever tried to store a 12-pack of Duracell batteries once it has been opened?

Italy's most successful company, makers of Nutella, Tic-Tac, Kinder and Ferrero Rocher, have packaging absolutely mastered. It could be that their sales success is down to the usefulness of the pack as much as the taste delights of their products. I bet every home in the land has at least one Ferrero rigid plastic box about the place, long after the chocolates have gone. [May contain nuts!]

Here's my solution. The larger box is perfect for storing AA and AAA cells. The Sharpies fit perfectly in the smaller one and a Tic-Tac box is great for postage stamps and a couple of loose Elastoplast for when you've cut your fingers trying to open hermetically sealed bubble packs.

If you've given up chocolate for Lent, then save them to savour later. Why not give your Mum a box of Ferrero Rocher for Mother's Day as long as you can have the empty box back. Tell her you've just discovered the joys of recycling.

Michael Ferrero died on Feb 17th. A fascinating man running a fascinating company. Read all about it on the internet.