Thursday, 28 August 2014

Life after Worldcon

Well, the latest Worldcon is over and life is beginning to return to normal. We had quite a mad lead up to the convention as we had decided to enter some of our pictures in the art show, we did this last minute and were put on a waiting list, then about a month before the convention I got an email saying we had got in. We then panicked when we realised we didn't have enough pictures to fill our allotted space. Images had to be created and in my husband's case, printed out on canvas too. He discovered that our local Staples store does same day canvas printing which saved him. We then found that our business cards were out of date and I did wonder how many other artists were frantically printing out business cards and spraying them with matt varnish in the garden at 10pm, I'm sure our neighbours wondered what was going on. Still, we got it all done and even managed to get some sleep too. Wednesday was an early start, what with packing and then loading the car. We had to do this with time to get to the ferry we had booked, but the Southampton route is quite nice and we prefer it to the two alternatives even though it is longer. A word to the wise here, if you are coming to the island you really do have to book your ferry well in advance, you can't turn up and guarantee getting on one especially in the summer. We got to London without problem and even found our way to the venue without getting lost, a good result! Mind you, we nearly put our pictures back in the car when we saw who we were sharing a bay with in the art show, but Chris Achilleos is a really nice guy and modest too. He put us at our ease and we set up our panel. From not having enough pictures we nearly had too many, I must admit they were well packed in, but the panel did look fairly good when we had finished.
Our finished panel in the art show.
I must admit the photo isn't the best I've ever taken, but it was the best under the circumstances. The lighting wasn't the best ever, but I think it was the best the organisers could achieve in the location. I don't think good gallery lighting can be achieved in warehouse conditions. Here I would like to say how good the layout of the art show was too, nothing felt cramped and I think people had enough room to stand back and look at the artworks from a proper distance. My memories of the art show in Glasgow in 2005 are of a cramped space with smaller bays, but my memory might be playing tricks on me. Right up until the auction on Sunday it didn't seem that many pieces had sold and I don't recall any with the 6 bids needed for auction. However, I did sell one picture, the purple one bottom centre right in the photograph, called "The Watchtower". It went for £50 and covered the cost of the panel in the show, but sadly my husband didn't sell this time. One of his pictures was runner up in the best in show category in 2005, he sold it too and it went to a good home in Ireland. We did have a lot of good comment though and did chat to a lot of fellow artists, including some of the big names. In particular Fred Gambino was a real star, he wasn't able to finish his talk in the convention, but spent an hour with us on the Sunday going through the remaining part of his talk and showing us how he works. It is nice to meet someone you admire and then find they are even nicer than you hoped. As promised, a quick plug for Fred's latest book, "Dark Shepherd", rush out and buy it. You won't regret it, his artwork is, as always, amazing. What can I say about Worldcon? I think this year's was the best of the three I have been to. There was always something interesting to go and see or do, often late into the night too, and that didn't include the bar. Yes, there were a few problems, given the size of the event I would be surprised if there weren't. Overall though it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. It did take several days to recover from the early starts and late finishes though, I guess the passing years are beginning to tell. I just hope either Finland gets the 2017 worldcon (I'm hoping for a trip to Moominland!), and/or Dublin gets the 2019 one. If they do I will be going, even if I have to sell the furniture to do it!

Friday, 11 April 2014

Unusual Spring Flower

I had a nice surprise this morning when I went to my computer, I discovered my large Vanilla orchid was flowering again. It grows up against a south facing window and is far too big to move so I hadn't noticed the flower buds developing.

Vanilla planifolia taken in the morning
The same flower after lunch


This is the second year that this plant has flowered so it obviously likes where it is growing. I just wish it wouldn't only have flowers on the window side, it would be very nice to be able to see them. I have no idea if they are scented in any way as I can't get close enough to smell them.

I had a go at using interactive acrylic paints last weekend and was amazed by them. For the first time in my life I managed to produce two paintings in one day, normally I take several days just to produce one painting. I found them pretty easy to use, although care has to be taken not to get the painting too wet when spraying with water to keep the paint active. But all in all I was impressed and was able to paint how I have always wanted to paint, but haven't managed to with normal acrylics. I do use retarder with normal acrylics, but it seems to change the way the paint feels and I can't seem to get smooth graduations, but I managed to with the interactive acrylics. The one downside I came across was that one of my pictures remained tacky for quite a while after I finished it, but by the next morning it was very dry so it isn't much of a downside really. I will seriously think of using these for painting on holiday and outdoors. I had considered water soluble oils for this, but they still take a long time to dry.

Wishing all a happy Easter.

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Sun at last!

As I write this I can see into the back gardens and the sun is shining and the temperature is very warm for this time of year. Finally, the weather seems to be cheering up and it is feeling positively spring like. I think the allotment might actually dry out a bit now. Thankfully, it didn't flood as it is on the side of a fairly steep hill, but the ground is still saturated and being a clay soil, it is heavy going when digging. After a year of minor production but a lot of digging out of weeds, the plot is not that weedy this spring and I have already managed to dig half of one section where the potatoes are going to go this year so I am feeling happy about progress. Trouble is the seed potatoes we sent away for are well advanced in chitting, even though I only set them up last weekend. Certainly one type even has roots so really does need to go in the ground. I can see a trip to get washed up seaweed from the beach coming very soon. I only ever take seaweed that has been washed up and is beginning to rot on the beach. Being a tourist destination I'm sure visitors don't want to encounter the sight and smell of rotting seaweed so I like to think I am helping out the tourist industry in my own small way. I dig a deep trench, put damp seaweed in the bottom, and then place the chitted potatoes in the seaweed, before back filling. I don't bother earthing up unless I need to, last year I didn't have to. We had a really good crop of pretty clean potatoes that tasted just like potatoes used to, so many of the varieties you buy in the shops have very little flavour compared to how they used to, I'm hoping for the same results this year too.

I've had an odd thing happen with one of my Cymbidium orchids. I got it from a fellow member of our now sadly defunct orchid society, sadly he is no longer with us either. When he gave it to me he said it was white, but last year when it flowered it was a distinct shade of green. This year it has flowered again and this time is a creamy white colour. I can only think these changes are caused by environmental issues, nothing else has changed. Both of my Tolumnias are looking good, one even has a flower spike. I grow them in clear pots in hydroleca and they get dunked quite often. I then hang them up in the roof of the greenhouse. They seem to like this treatment, even if their leaves go a dark maroon red colour. I suppose this does re-create their natural environment in the wild quite well.

My knitting work is continuing at full steam, in the run up to Christmas I had a rush order and have had a lot of other things to make too. I am currently designing an Alpaca hat for the Alpaca farm, which I hope to get done in time for it to be available at Easter when our tourist season really gets going. I am also knitting up a shawl the pattern for which I worked up from the vague email message the designer sent to the alpaca farm. For lace it knits up quite fast, but it isn't something you could knit all day as it would drive you mad after a while. This is why I like to work on at least two projects at the same time, it keeps your mind alert and if one takes a lot of concentration then having the other as the opposite can be quite relaxing.

Until next time, keep safe and have fun.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

A great weekend at Armadacon

Well, the Armadacon 25th anniversary weekend has come and gone. Personally, I had a great time. I didn't get to see all the panels I wanted to, but that often happens and I will catch up with the videos later on. It was good to get away for a weekend after all the events that have happened this year, especially good to be with friends who have helped both of us get through recent events too. I'm looking forward to next year's now, although I will probably see even less of it than usual. To see more on why check out the Planet VFX blog. All the guests were very entertaining and Mitch Benn gave a great performance of songs after the end of convention dinner. I'm not sure it was wise to laugh so much after such a big meal. It is hard to get back to normal life again now, especially as it is sorting out the paperwork for our accountant to do our tax returns. Not a task I look forward to, but it has to be done. I think I prefer roto work if I'm honest.

The tortoise is still awake, normally he has gone into hibernation by now. Mind you he was up late last year too, it got to the stage where I was wondering what you buy a tortoise for Christmas. It looks like that may be the case this year too. I'm hoping a cold snap will do the trick and he will decide sleeping until the Spring is a good idea.

Apart from that there isn't really anything to report. Life is slowly getting back to normal. The husband is hyperactive due to the pills he has to take and work is slowly beginning to come in. More work would be nice though, especially as the tax man phoned last week. I think it will be beans on toast for Christmas dinner this year unless things improve significantly.

Until next time.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Life improving

Well, when I say life is improving, it is doing so at a very slow pace. Thankfully, the husband is coming on in leaps and bounds. Apart from being a lot thinner than he was, you wouldn't know he had been so ill just to look at him. He has his sparkle back and I feel I have the man I married back again. Now all we need is for work to pick up. I suppose in a way it is, but very slowly. Although the film we are (were?) working on has hit funding problems again, we are talking to new people about various other projects. This is good, they seem very nice people and we like the projects they are discussing so this could go far. I certainly hope so.

The home knitting is very busy at the moment, I don't think the Alpaca farm can get enough knitters and so those of us existing ones have a lot of items to knit. This is good, I like having a lot of things to knit and it is useful when the weather knocks out the TV signal, which is happening rather a lot at the moment. I know digital is the future, but the old system didn't lose the downlink as often. I did remark the other night that I thought pianos would make a comeback, we managed approximately 3 minutes viewing of one program due to the rain storms blocking the signal. Thank heavens for broadband, but I do wish more shows were available on catch-up. I guess this is what is called progress.

With regard to knitting, I have made a start on my Dr Who Anniversary waistcoat too. I knit the Alpaca things during most of the evening and go onto my waistcoat for the last hour or two before going to bed (usually from about 12:30am to about 1:30 or 2am, did I mention I'm a night owl?). It is coming on quite well and I am now working on the Doctors heads. This part is the most time consuming so I hope it will speed up soon. I hope to have it ready for the Armadacon weekend, but I admit it will be close.

The storm over the weekend caused a lot of things to blow around the garden, but I think where the house is was a little sheltered as neither we, nor any of our neighbours had any damage as far as I can see. And this with the highest gust of wind of 99mph being recorded only a few miles away at the Needles. I think we were lucky this time, I remember the great storm of 87, which was very bad. Again all the trains stopped running, but then it was for several days. I was living in London then and my parents were away on holiday. I tried to get down to the island to check the house, but couldn't get further south than Guildford then. Thankfully, my Grandmother was alive then and she was able to find me my Mother's neighbour's phone number in the phone book (not much internet then!) and I phoned them to check on the house. Everything was fine then too. If you were caught up in the storm I hope you got through without problems.

Until next time.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Compulsive Knitting

I mentioned in my last blog that I am a compulsive knitter, and its true. I can't sit and do nothing. I have to knit, although I don't when I'm working on location. Clicking needles tend to upset the sound department. I worked out the other day that I have been knitting for over forty years, this was quite a surprise as I really didn't think it was that long. However, when I think more about this I realise that, yes, I have been knitting that long. I started at a young age. My Grandmother declared that it was impossible to teach me to knit as I was trying to knit left handed when I was about four. Maybe I was then. I used both hands equally at first, perhaps favouring my left for most things, but then I worked out it was a right handed world and gradually used my left hand less and less. A lasting legacy of this is having problems with right and left. This does cause the odd heated moment when I'm navigating. I don't trust satnav, it always looses where we are at vital moments so I always follow on a map and then I can take over at a moments notice. We do get the "no, the other left!" at times, which doesn't go down well with my Husband, the driver in our family. Still, I'm getting off topic, I'll get back to the knitting. Looking around I don't seem to have that much to show for all that hard work. The house isn't full of knitted items, although there are quite a few hidden away. I will admit to having several stashes of yarn about the place, mostly in the loft (or attic if you prefer), a couple of cupboards, and in various bags around the bedroom. So, what have I knitted over all those years? Well I have made a few toys for various young relatives, jumpers for me and my Husband, the odd scarf or two, numerous gloves, but that wouldn't take over forty years to do. I'm guessing this is one of life's mysteries, along with where socks go to when you wash them, and why you can't find something for several days and then when you don't need it any more, there it is, in full view. I suppose I can account for some time due to not being happy with the end product and, after numerous days of knitting, unpicking the whole thing and using the yarn for a completely different project. But none of this accounts for all that knitting.

You may notice on my page that I have added a series of links. I'm new to this blogging lark and to Blogger. I do sometimes write on on a painting site, but that is a much simpler thing and there is not customisation. I'm still finding my way around this one. Some of the links are self explanatory, some less so. The ones to do with knitting are my own website, which has a knitting section, and my Ravelry page, which has a very nice lacy scarf pattern for sale on it, go on, you know you could do with one. Alternatively, knit it as a present for someone for Christmas. The other links relate either to art or to hobbies.

Talking of art, I just got a message to say that one of my pictures has been chosen for the Redbubble front page. Amazing! I don't know what to say, it is a real honour to be chosen (won't do the sales much harm either). So, check out Redbubble and take a look.

Until next time.

Friday, 20 September 2013

A little background

I thought I should start this blog with a little information about me, not enough to cause identity theft problems, but enough so you know what to expect in the future. As is probably obvious from my blog, I live on the Isle of Wight. For those who don't know where that is, it is a small island off the south coast of England. My blog is called Vectis Life because Vectis was the Roman name for the island and it is still very much in use today. The island is a tourist destination and is also known for music festivals. However, these days it is suffering from the cheap holidays to southern Europe and so is now a shadow of it's former self. Personally, I think all those people who don't come here are missing out. We have fantastic countryside, great tourist attractions, and pretty villages, not to mention our beautiful beaches. Aside from this the island is also home to a lot of Artists and Photographers, I do both and belong to several Art groups as well as a local Photographic Society. I won't bore you with more about where I live, but if you want to see more of my paintings, photographs, and more about what I do then go to my website

Having mentioned my painting and photography, I will do an obvious plug for sales of my images. Well, a girl has to make a living and these days that is a little harder than it used to be. I have recently set up a Redbubble page to sell my images as cards, prints, iphone cases and ipad cases. I'm working on the T-shirts, but only have the one available at the moment. To see what I have made available so far head over to my Redbubble page I will be adding items all the time and if you have a commission then please get in touch. I may not agree to do what you want, but it never hurts to ask. I should also mention that my Husband has a page on Redbubble too, he doesn't have as many images up as me, but please also look at his page

My other main interest is knitting and I admit to being a compulsive knitter. To feed this compulsion I do home knitting for a local Alpaca farm, West Wight Alpacas. To see more about them go to their website, They attend several shows on the island and on the mainland, although these tend to be showing the Alpacas rather than having a stand with Alpaca products.

So, what am I going to blog about? Well, life the universe and everything really. I won't be blogging about any Film or TV work that is ongoing, so don't expect any of that. If I am working on location, for instance in 2010 I spent five months in South Africa working on a TV series, then I will blog about living where I am and what I get up to out of hours. But, I won't mention who I'm working with, or the exact location, only the approximate area. So that's it really. I will just say that you mustn't expect a regular weekly or daily blog, I don't usually have the time and besides, I'm just not built that way. I will try to update this blog reasonably frequently, but there may be times when I don't.

Until next time, have fun and enjoy life.