37/365 You don't have to be mad to work here, but.........

Yep you guessed it, it SO does help. Flat Eric was bequeathed to me by a desk buddy about 5 years ago now, and has been my alter ego ever since. He has his own headset and security pass, and is getting into the Maui spirit as we can see here. One time, to voice my displeasure at one of the many changes there have been in my job in the last 6, nearly 7 years, i "hung" him from a window blind cord.... necessitating in true American Corporate style a "One on One" with my manager to "understand any issues and challenges i may be facing" :) Here we have Eric of the Flat variety with Erik of the Dutch Team variety, they look close... if this is what happens in the office after 5pm, Flat Eric is gonna have to start coming home with me!

36/365 Post purchase test driving, how typically me

Avid readers will know i bought a new car a month ago, since then it has been back to the garage 3 times now with a few niggles, and so while they have been sorting them out i have had a parade of showroom cars to drive including the following: Focus Zetec, Focus ST, another Fiesta ST and a Fiesta Zetec (of which this is some raindrops on its sparkly paintwork this morning) Now most people would drive this selection before they decide which car to buy, but noooooooo! this is ME, i do it the hard way! Luckily nothing / no one / ever / etc can compare to the love i have yes LOVE for my ST, and today we were reunited, in fact we got to spend ALOT of quality bonding time together as one of the level crossings in Datchet has gone *wrong* and it took me an hour and a half to do a 15 min commute home from work *sigh* *sigh* *sigh* but nevertheless i got to have a lovely time getting to know my car again, we have decided never to be parted for this long ever ever again. Amen.

35/365 On Coldplay,The Prodigy, Excel and local Councils

Look at the stars, 
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah they were all yellow,

I came along
I wrote a song for you
And all the things you do
And it was called yellow

So then I took my turn
Oh all the things I've done
And it was all yellow

Your skin
Oh yeah your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
D'you know you know I love you so
You know I love you so

I swam across
I jumped across for you
Oh all the things you do
Cause you were all yellow

I drew a line
I drew a line for you
Oh what a thing to do
And it was all yellow

Your skin
Oh yeah your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
D'you know for you i bleed myself dry
For you i bleed myself dry

Its true look how they shine for you

Posted this blog the day after the day before, which is just as well, as it was "one of those days" ....too many hours (and i mean hours) staring at the same excel spreadsheet, a lovely commute home in standstill traffic, to find a letter from the council telling me to cut back 2 inches of a bush slightly overhanging a pavement  on the boundary of my house, within 14 days or they would fine me £275. So serene Coldplay lyrics were not the kind of music running through my head at that point in time, it would have been more likely to have been Prodigy, "Firestarter" (which has coincidentally actually been called my "theme tune" more than once in the past, much like the use of the nickname "Trouble", i mean really - am i that much hard work?) or "Smack my b*tch up" However, a fun filled / chilled / pasta and wine containing evening and a good sleep later, and it's all floaty lyrics and pictures of Spring :) Which reminds me of that saying "This too will pass" Which is what i am supposed to think when the emotional red mist descends (instead of hearing in my mind the opening bars to Firestarter.........)

34/365 - On sequins and dreams

So, a slow day inspiration wise, 300 meetings at work (felt like) and no lunch break (again) results in a glass of wine by 7:30pm, taking a photo of my favourite cushion (should i even HAVE a favourite cushion - weird.....) and the thought: do dreams really tell us things? are they the subconscious mind analysing and working things out for us and letting us know  the answers through symbolism only we can understand? or are they just a random crazy program your brain runs while you are on "hibernate" ? Like a screen saver across your mind? Discuss.....

33/365 - Great start to my day!

This is my hand… yes clearly a good start to the day is to still have one in place! Here is a live action shot of me poised over my keyboard at the office ready to proactively / reactively / retro actively / every kind of actively, assist my clients in solving technology issues and becoming their “trust based value added” partner (add additional corporate buzz words as needed!) But that’s STILL not the great start to the day referred to in the title! To give the background, a while back I bought myself a carnelian crystal ring, I found it while surfing online and thought a) it looked cute and b) it promised to add the following to my life: A stabilising stone, Carnelian restores vitality and motivation, and stimulates creativity.  It gives courage, promotes positive life choices, dispels apathy and motivates for success. It helps in trusting yourself and your perceptions.  It overcomes negativity and encourages steadfastness.  Carnelian improves analytic abilities and clarifies perception.  It sharpens concentration and dispels mental lethargy.  Protects against envy, rage and resentment.  Calms anger, banishes emotional negativity and replaces it with a love of life” Sounds like it was designed for me!? But I did buy it really because I thought it was a different and beautiful piece of jewellery. However I then began to notice that if I didn’t wear it, I kind of missed it, and wondered “is there more to this gemology than meets the eye?” Can 950 million Hindu’s, which is about 14% of the world's population be wrong? Last Friday I washed my hands and spectacularly managed to shatter it in 3 places L and I was pretty gutted! There is a belief in Hindu Gemology that once a gem has done its “work” and balanced you out, then the stone may fall out, or you just might not feel like wearing it anymore, but I didn’t feel that that time had come with my cute little ring….. And first thing this morning the wonderful presence in my life that is Shilpz gave me a new one! Even nicer than the first, and all the more special for being a thoughtful and wonderful surprise present to start my week. So by 8:30am this morning it was already hugs all round, and as you can see from the photo, it’s now back balancing me out! PHEW! Thanks Shilpz xxx

32/365 - Blue Blue Electric Blue

This is the glass bowl i got given in the company's "Winners Circle" in Bahamas in 2010, its kinda cool, for once it doesn't have the company's name engraved on it, and my name (yes yes i DO like those ones too, but they stay on my desk for boasting purposes :) And i love the way it looks with light streaming through it, also i have eaten too much left over lasagne today, and possibly i drank too much wine last night, and this was by far the easiest photo opportunity within 5 feet of the sofa 

31/365 - Tyring Day - oh dear...

Actually it was a very productive day! It was a typical day in the 'burbs (suburbs!) My better half washed and waxed my new car for me, until i was semi blinded just looking at its gleaming beauty! Then changed 4 tyres on his (and my adopted) Mark 1 Sierra, which drew much interest from my neighbours who wanted to know what it was and "why?" and "what next?" etc ;) While he answered and worked, i took the easier route of climbing trees and doing cartwheels with their adorable kids! I spent another couple of hours tidying up my garden after a starter hour on it in the week, and finally it looks like a garden again and not some wilderness project. The weather was so great yesterday we pretty much spent all day outside. I then made a lasagne, and a batch of peanut butter shortbread cookies, Domestic Bliss! Actually it really was, and is it sad to admit that that was one of my favourite days ever? Recessionary climates make you look for alternative options to endless spending for entertainment, and for me anyway, you realise what really makes you happy in life and not the never ending cycle of "wanting". A day's work in the sunshine, feeling like you have achieved something tangible at the end of it and then getting gently drunk while eating some good food, i am easily pleased! but i'd much rather do that than go shopping and drop £500 anyday. So the photo.... a stack of tyres, obviously! I just liked the texture of the rubber, against the smooth alloy, again, i am easily pleased!!! :)

30/365 - I'm addicted to Project 365!

I woke up at 5am this morning and needed a glass of water,  on my way to the kitchen, i passed by a window and saw this view, and thought! I HAVE to go get my camera! Could this be taking my "photographic vision" to an all new (and possibly crazy) level of commitment!? What next i wonder? To make it worse one of my neighbours had a taxi waiting outside his house, so the taxi driver waiting in the car, had a great view of a lunatic woman in her pajamas, hair on end leaning out a window, while leaning kinda drunkly leaning against the window frame (in an attempt to be my own tripod, and create a steady image) and possibly swearing out loud as i wobbled. Could this project make me even more crazy than i already am? Will i start twitching in meetings at work in the boardroom on the third level with the floor to ceiling windows, if i see a great shot, and can't take it? Forced in the end to just jump up and run out spreadsheets falling to the floor in disarray, and get my camera?? (i DO hope so!) So many questions, and we are not even on tenth of the way in yet!! Stay posted readers, this could get messy....

PS - I checked my site stats for the first time yesterday, and i have had visitors from Russia, US and Iran!!! I am GLOBAL baby!! wooooooooooo!

29/365 - 2011 - Best Year Ever!

This is my Goal Board for 2011 as recommended by the Lovely Shilpz! It’s a great way to think of what I want to do this year, and then stick it in a place at home that I pass by often, so it’s a constant reminder. Its all too easy to think of things at New Year and then find that you are in June and haven’t done any of them yet! The idea is that once I have achieved a goal I take a photo or keep a ticket or something that reminds me of it and pin it on top of the goal picture! So far this year I have: seen the Northern Lights (that was a big one, one from the “Bucket List” !) Bought a new car, bought a camera, use it every day and started this blog J and more much more to come! By the end of the year this board will be COVERED with great experiences from 2011 

27/365 - "Riding the black serpent"

I am a huge (read HUGE) fan of the TV show 30 Rock, the latest episode shows Kenneth the innocent page from the backwoods of rural America getting his first taste of coffee and "riding the black serpent" and getting a bit high and out of control and having to be banned from it..... Sounded very familiar to me, if i don't have at least 5 mugs of black espresso style coffee before i start the day, by about 10am i have the shakes! (ok not quite... but almost..) i LOVE coffee! It's the one thing i couldn't give up, even alcohol and chocolate and nachos can go before coffee! I do stop once i get to work though and just top up with the occasional tea and then drink about 2L of water, so i think i balance it out in the end :)

26/365 - While we are on the subject of cars...

This is my new baby! Finally, after the KA started to loose the will to go on a little, and after 7 years, i have bought myself a "proper" car at last! I never really understood the emotional attachment and pleasure i saw other people get from their cars, until NOW! And now i get it!! :) I love driving this even on the stinky congested commute to work, but especially with a nice stretch of motorway with no traffic or speed cameras, i think we know what i am alluding to here! Its amazingly fast and responsive for me, coming from the KA with a 1.3L engine and i think about 70 bhp, to a 2.0L engine and about 150 bhp, i have pretty much doubled my power, and it felt like it especially at first when i was putting my foot down as if i was in the KA, and would suddenly be at 60mph! SUCH FUN! Nuff said :)

25/365 - XR's

My better half is a member of the Ford XR Car Club (XROC) They meet regularly and attend car shows throughout the summer. It was a scary new world for me initially, this first of the year meet up in Cosford RAF Museum near Birmingham, which was my first induction this time last year to the crazy all encompassing world of classic cars, was a revelation into just how MUCH it was possible to say about an engine, and for how long!!! :) However my complete ignorance of cars aside, they are a great group of people, who made and continue to make me feel very at home and part of their XR family from day one, and over the winter months i have actually been missing them! Its also a chance to get outside away from the everyday grind, for a day out and forget all about work, which is a necessity! This is my shot of the better half's best friend, Darren's new XR, against the backdrop of one of the RAF hangars. I am pretty pleased with it, having studied the professionals set up in the car magazines and tried hard to replicate it. I don't know what it was about Darren's car, it must have good vibes, as it seemed to be a magnet to people looking and taking photos and he even had a guy come up to talk to him in a petrol station on the way home! I think he should start charging per view ;)

24/365 - Last frost of the year?

I woke up early this morning, as i am off to The Sanctuary Spa today with my best two girls :) The first thing i saw as i threw open the curtains on a beautiful sunny morning was all the frost on the leaves on the bush in the front garden. So before i had even had my first cop of coffee of the day i raced down and pulled on a pair of trainers and jumped out the front door camera in hand to shoot before the sun melted it all. Lets hope no neighbours were up early to see a crazy woman in PJ's and trainers hair standing up on end, 2 inches away from a leaf in her garden with a camera!! But it made me think again, as per the post a couple of days earlier, this 365 project as simple as it is, really starts to train you to see photographically, which is a subtle difference to normal perception. It's about seeing the unusual and beautiful that's all around you every day, even on the most gloomy or crappy day, there will be something to make you smile if you can only just see it :)

23/365 - YUMMY!

I just made these! Thank you Nigella Lawson, now lets see how fast i can eat them...

22/365 - Trying out some effects!

The world of digital photography is a million light years away from what i learned at photographic college, "back when i was a lad etc" where post production effects were severely limited. You could play around with contrast and grain with B&W printing in the dark room, but for colour, you pretty much took the film into a lab and relied on them to balance colour, saturation and contrast. Now you can upload your photo into a software package and come up with unlimited effects and corrections. So today i came back to the blossom trees in my garden, and added a few layers of soft focus, grain and played around with colour saturation and glow, to try to get an impressionistic painterly effect. Not very true to life, but pretty cool anyway i think, i just have to stop feeling i am "cheating" by using post production techniques!

21/365 - The Green, Engelfield Green

Just sitting in the car after a pub lunch and liked the "juxtaposition" of the lush green grass and the paint peeling off the sign.

20/365 - Bath Foam!

Mad mad busy day today, I still hadn't taken a photo by "bathtime" But this just shows the way this project subtly starts to change the way you view the world, as when i looked into the bath water, i saw this heart made out of bubbles, and legged it downstairs for my camera! Would  i have even seen it or have been looking for it a few weeks ago, before i started 365, i doubt it!

19/365 - New buds unfurling

I think Spring is my favourite time of year, maybe because i am an April baby. But just when you think the long dark dreary days will never end, it feels like you step through the looking glass into the opposite reflection of the same world, but lit with sunlight, blue skies, warmer temperatures and flowers everywhere! I get as fed up as everyone else does with the weather in the UK, but then when it comes to Spring it all makes sense, there really is nowhere else i have been that really comes alive in the same way. I have 3 trees in my garden full of blossom now, and everyday they get even fuller and more beautiful, and in sentimental moments it really does make my heart sing every time i walk past a window and see them. Of course this is not my first thought at 8:25am when i am late again for work :)

18/365 - Accessories

Having a little go at a bit of styling with some accessories!

16/365 - Tappety tap tap...

Slow day inspiration wise :) But there is a certain challenge in finding creativity somewhere / anywhere!! This is a tappet from a Ford Sierra, kind of like part of the heart valves that keep a car alive. I'm surprised by the sculptural beauty in the components of a car engine, obviously they were't designed to be attractive, but just efficient in their processes, but there's something about the quality, weight and high polish of the metal that's really tactile and looks so good when lit in different ways. It's also a fascinating thought to think that this little tappet has been 150,000 miles when it was part of the engine in the car. I wonder if it could speak, would it have stories to tell???? :)

15/365 - The Networking Board

A new networking group set up by one of my ex colleagues, well not new, but the first time i have actually made it along, after promising Chris i would about 3 times and then not! Took a few shots for their new website, and edited into B&W for a more Business / Professional / Documentary vibe! Really pleased with them! Will post the link to the site once its live :) This is me and my better half trying to look like we are "networking" and failing! We are having FAR too much fun as you can see!

14/365 - Proudly flying the flag in Datchet

Datchet is adorable, the average age of it's residents has to be about 87! :) We get a village newsletter "The Datchet Chat" posted through the door every week with some real gems in it, along the lines of "Greenhouse Tips for March" etc! Adorable! I feel like i am an extra in a Miss Marple film every time i read it! There is a real community feel about the village, people do really care, and that's what i missed when i lived on a soulless housing estate for a couple of years. So while i might chuckle inwardly every time i pass The Bridge church tea rooms, at the same time i am glad that some things refuse to keep pace with technology and the modern world and stay staunchly "Old School" :)

13/365 - One for Bees!

Sorry for the title! I saw it on another guys 365 / project page. All of flower macros: "if you were a bee, would you fly past this and think "Damn i'm gonna hit that!" Wrong! but so right somehow!

12/365 - Spring Springing

Ok well Spring isnt quite here yet, but the lighter sunny days and appearance of some blossom and daffodils gladdens my heart. This is just a view out of my front window at the tree just outside, pretty cool tree as it start with just twigs, moves onto catkins and leaves and then back again! Maybe a mini project / time lapse assignment here!

11/365 - Quack!

My first real session / assignment with my new Olympus, i just walked into Datchet and shot for an hour, but got 140 shots around the village, and for some reason this little "fella" is my favourite, i think it's because he looks like he is posing for me! And the quality of the lens (the 80 - 150mm zoom again) is immense, you can see the individual drops of water on his feathers.

10/365 - SO fluffy!

The 150mm lens comes into it's own! Now i just need a tripod to get "tack sharp", but nonetheless i am pretty pleased with this one, you can even see the seed in his tiny little beak!

9/365 - Something to hypnotise myself with at work

Just a view of a pattern of sunlight through the glass atrium, in front of the desk where i sit! Something calming about it somehow, even though this was when our temperature thermostat was broken and we were being heated up like a sauna, so i was less than calm at the time!

8/365 - That's why i carry a camera with me all the time now

5pm after a hard day at work, and having "failed" to have taken my shot for the day, stumbling grumpily to my car in the work car park, i see this sky! That's what i am loving about 365 so far, its re aligning my perception to be always looking out for something interesting. I have a long way to go technically, and haven't even begun to go through the 27 or so (ok i exaggerate here) menus and options in my new SLR. But i am a great believer in a great photographer having an "eye", the rest can be learned and refined, but some things have to be instinctual i think. 

7/365 - My new kit!

It's been a LONG time since i had an SLR, i did 2 years at Photography college after my A Levels, and used to have a Billingham bag the size of a suitcase for all my gear, then when i decided to ditch my first year of Photojournalism college and go into Sales, i let go of all photography too, and eventually sold it all. My trip to Iceland in February and the thoughtful purchase of a set of books on digital photography by my better and more wonderful half re ignited my interest, and i thought "if a job's worth doing..." and so invested some of the old "hard earned" in this cute little baby! I love it already, it's so small, light and easy to use, the 80 - 150mm lens, which at four thirds is equivalent to a 160 - 300mm in 35mm terms, is less heavy than my mobile phone, and the quality is outstanding. Just waiting for my retro brown leather Olympus Pen Camera bag, and then i really am fully kitted out. although i would be lying if i said i didn't already have a list of "necessary" photographic purchase lined up in my head..... :)

6/365 - "i have to praise you like i should......"

The final view of my speedo from my KA a day before i traded it in and up to a Fiesta ST. I've had the KA for 7 years and we've been through alot together! As Fat Boy Slim would say "We've come a long long  way together, through the hard times and the good, i have to celebrate you baby, i have to praise you like i should" and yes i DID play that on the way to the garage to hand it over. But all good things have to come to end or at the very least segue into even better things...bye bye KA!

5/365 - Abstract Macro shot of my Star Steuben

Hasn't come out quite as sparkly as in "real life" but this shot through one of the stars gives a general idea. Having laughed for years at the cliches of the corporate world, including the "glassware" awarded for achieving certain goals, after 6 years at Gartner now, i cannot but help "buy in" to it, and no one is more happy than me to add another crystal sculpture with my name etched on it to my desk, than me! This one is particularly nice, and non "Gartnerised" and is in recognition of being number 1 in the world in 2010, so it will stay in pride of place for a while. It's a nice boost on a crappy day to catch it winking at me, reminding me that this time next week i won't care, and in the bigger picture an off day here and there isn't the end of the world.

4/365 - Meditation with a candle flame

Ok so i didn't REALLY meditate on this candle flame, but probably should have / do more of that! Mindfulness Meditation is something i really got into last year, combined with breathing and Tai Chi. An understanding of how the brain works, and that it is not the whole story as far as consciousness is concerned is a real help in everyday life, for someone like me, who's brain seems to work 24/7, and sometimes not in the most productive and positive ways!! Simple exercises like breathing and counting and allowing thoughts to float in and out of your mind, but without paying them any attention, are excruciatingly hard to do, but amazing in their effect. And the remembering to breath and create a gap between having an emotional reaction and a more thoughtful reaction, again is a simple tip, but something that can make the whole world of difference in the day to day world.

3/365 - Icelandic wool and thoughts on self worth...

While in Iceland i had been endlessly looking at the beautiful hand knitted woolens which are ubiquitous and so symbolic of the Icelandic people. They are not cheap, being hand knitted, and each one unique. I spent an hour or more in a variety of shops: looking, trying on, talking myself in, and out, of buying one. Why is it i feel like i don't "deserve" to spend a bit of hard earned cash on something i would really value? I find it easier to spend money on someone i love than i do on myself, which raises the obvious question. Luckily i was with someone who loves me, and insisted that when i found one i kept on trying on and stroking in a mildly obsessive way... i really should buy it, and so here it is, macro style. Each time i wear it, i do remind myself a la Loreal adverts "I am WORTH it!" 

2/365 - Birthday's

3 of the best men in my world have birthdays within 6 days of each other, there must be something about all that Pisces energy that i need! This one is my better half :)

1/365 - Day 1 - Right outside my front door!

It wasn't going to be Day 1 of 365, i was planning to dither around for a few weeks thinking about commiting to this, buying some new camera kit first, planning rigorously what i would shoot, worrying about it, putting meeting reminders into Outlook etc etc. Coming home from work, i saw this on my very doorstep! Couldn't resist it, hence 365 is born! Will i be able to keep to a photo every day? will i get bored? will i take 300 photos of plants in my garden? Will i be brave enough to just whip out a camera in my "everyday" moments?? lets find out...

What is 365 Days of Blonde? And Why?

365 of Blonde is my photo diary and recording of my project to take at least one photograph every day for a year. Following my outstanding, amazing, awe inspiring, life renewing, soul enhancing (insert additional over the top adjectives as needed) trip to Iceland in February this year, i re discovered my love of photography, and spent a large amount of cash on a beautiful new camera kit, 365 is my commitment to me, to invest time every day in thinking imaginatively and creating something tangible that i can be proud of. It's also a record of my life and my world and my thoughts over the next year, probably only of interest to me, but you never know :)