Monday, 16 October 2017

Old and New

I'm on the verge of embarking on another adventure and finally moving back north to be nearer friends and family. While this is absolutely the right decision for me there is a part of me that feels a moment of regret. After spending so much time creating my home it would have been nice to spend a bit more time here before moving on. 

It's easy to forget just how I've transformed this place and so I wanted to record it while I can. So here is the old and new, before it becomes someone else's new.

My two bed roomed maisonette hadn't been lived in for a couple of years and had previously been occupied by an elderly gentleman. I doubt it had been decorated since the 70's and was probably worse than a blank canvas. There was no functioning heating system and as a result I had no hot water for the first few months I lived here. A new bathroom and gas central heating were the first job and this, along with some electrical work and plastering were the only jobs I paid professionals for. The rest I did myself, renovating furniture and the original kitchen to create something unique. 

Starting with the second bedroom, most of the furnishings in this room I already owned and as it was to double as my craft/study room I only put a day bed in rather than a double. Like the living room it has double doors leading onto a balcony so I frosted this using stencils and removable glass spray to give me a bit more privacy.




One of the new items in this room was the chair, an ebay bargain I'd recovered with John Lewis fabric before I moved in. Amazing what you can do with some new fabric!




 The other 3 chairs went with an ebay dining table I'd covered with some Orla Kiely wallpaper. I'd spent some time hunting for a folding table that would suit my style and the one I found was perfect after I'd sanded the legs and hidden the damaged formica top. While I love the classic stem print from Orla Kiely I was careful to mix it up to prevent the room becoming too much like a catalogue show room.  The same print is repeated on the stencilled and decoupaged sideboard and as a lining to the bookcases but I've also vintage fabric on the cushions and the John Lewis chair fabric.


 
 As you can see I found I had an original fireplace once I ripped back the plywood cover, something that was a lovely surprise on my first day in the flat. The carpets quickly followed the plywood and for much of my occupancy I had painted floors. For this purpose I used bog standard garage floor paint which did well for the period before I got carpets. In fact the carpets only went down a week before I put it on the market, far from ideal!

Other things of note in the living are my lovely lampshades, created from flat pack Ikea shades and bird on a line wall stickers, and my one pound coffee table picked up from a New Forest vintage shop that was closing down.  Only the sofa and bookcases were bought new and everything else was second hand or wombled.

Leading off the living room and I think it is this space that has been really transformed. Sadly those amazing 'tiles'  were just stick on vinyl and everything had to be ripped out. Most of the plaster came with it and the space had to be totally replastered before the boiler could go in. I did manage to keep most of the units although the ones that came out to make space for a fridge freezer and washing machine proved so stubborn a sledge hammer was needed.

The real labour of love in the kitchen is the worktops and splashback. Made from recycled scaffold boards they've been sanded, filled, varnished and waxed. I love them and so wish I could take them with me. I did these and the tiling myself and love the result. Sleek fitted kitchen it isn't but it suits me and is a great space to work in. 

Finally is my bedroom, a space that is purposely quiet and muted. No TV and no bright colours and lots of storage for not just my clothes but also outdoor kit. One of my favourite items in this room is the rag rug I made from the original curtains. It'll mean I can take a bit of the house with me when I leave and have a reminder of what I created.


After being adamant I wasn't going to take on a project my next house is indeed a project with damp proofing work needed before I even start thinking about decorating. I've a learnt a lot of skills though and am confident I can tackle most things going forward. Here's to the next challenge!


Monday, 1 May 2017

White and Yellow

I've struggled this month to get anything like a photo a day. No real excuse except for work crap and general business. Happy to be moving into May with green, but here are my white and yellow offerings. 



Friday, 31 March 2017

A Return to the Lanes

Almost exactly three years ago I visited Melbourne for the first time. I'm back now to see my six week old nephew but I'm also having a well deserved break. 

I took the time today to revisit Melbourne's famous Lanes where graffiti is legalised and transcends the tags and vandalism seen elsewhere in the world. This is street art covering whole alley ways with layer upon layer of additions overlapping and interconnecting. 

Amidst the large scale work there were some smaller gems to be found, pulling from current affairs and containing their own messages despite the lack of context. As would be expected of street artists the trend was anti establishment and anti cataplism but it's the dark humour that I find most appealing











Monday, 20 March 2017

UX Readings - Libraries and beyond

After a recent plea forrecent articles of library UX I realised I probably had a list of fairly recent ones that would be of interest to others, although with hindsight many are about space and aren't necessarily true UX.

Bear in mind that some of these are pay walled and I accessed them through our University subscriptions, so availability may depend on whether you belong to an institution with access. 

My main focus when searching for these articles was to explore something I've started calling social independent learning - a phenomenon  which we see with our own UX work at  Southampton and which it turns out is recognised elsewhere under different guises.

Planning library spaces and services for Millennials: an evidence-based approach


EunYoung Yoo-Lee, Tae Heon Lee, LaTesha Velez, (2013),"Planning library spaces and services for Millennials: an evidence-based approach", Library Management, Vol. 34 Iss 6/7 pp. 498 - 511
http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/LM-08-2012-0049


A Really Nice Spot”: Evaluating Place, Space, and Technology in Academic Libraries

  Michael J. Khoo, Lily Rozaklis, Catherine Hall and Diana Kusunoki, (2016)

 "A Really Nice Spot”: Evaluating Place, Space, and Technology in Academic Libraries" , College & Research Libraries, vol. 77 no. 1 51-70.
http://crl.acrl.org/content/77/1/51.abstract

User experience (UX) in libraries: let’s get physical (and digital)

 Appleton, L., (2016). User experience (UX) in libraries: let’s get physical (and digital). Insights. 29(3), pp.224–227.
 http://doi.org/10.1629/uksg.317

 Collecting Space Use Data to Improve the UX of Library Space 

Gullikson. Shelley, Meyer, Kristin, (2016)  "Collecting Space Use Data to Improve the UX of Library Space" Weave: Jopurnal of User Experience, vol 1 Iss 5.
http://dx.doi.org/10.3998/weave.12535642.0001.502

Those of yopu who are interested  may also like to follow up on the recent Northern Collaboration User UX Exchange - I believe many of the slides will be made available online and it was tweeted under # Or have a have a look at this blog post from York.
http://libinnovation.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/ux-led-changes-at-york-and-beyond.html
 

Sunday, 5 March 2017

True Colours, Silver Linings

This month I've been working to the brief of silver, a colour that has proven more tricky than expected. I thought that  metallics would give me lots of scope with reflection but I've been struggling all month to find inspiration or enthusiasm. 

So little to shout about with this post, although the month has brought a silver lining of a different type in the form of a new nephew. 



Sunday, 12 February 2017

Food for Thought

Something that probably hasn't come across on this blog before is my love of food, and more specifically my love of cooking. I thought I'd put that right by posting a couple of recent meals I've cooked. 

In the kitchen I'm an odd mix. On one side I'm a creature of habits, often returning to the same recipe time and time again. Such is my familiarity with some of these dishes, such as my anglicised Moroccan chicken  I can if necessary create it for forty, with no written instructions at all. 

On the other side I'm an experimenter, and even on the rare occasions when I follow a recipe, will tweak it and make it my own. Rarely do I have disasters and I like to think that I have a good understanding of how flavours work together. 

This weekend I tried two new recipes using up some meat from the freezer. I often have meat from the reduced section in the freezer and although my boyfriend does have a tendency to laugh at me when I scan the aisle for yellow stickers he doesn't complain when we eat as well as we do. 

The first was using up a rare luxury, one of two lamb shoulders. I didn't want to over complicate such a good piece of meat so I paired it with the old favourites of garlic and rosemary with an added burst of flavour from lemon. 

Lemon, rosemary and garlic lamb. 

You'll need a bulb of garlic, a good handful of fresh rosemary and a lemon. And a joint of meat. Mine was about 1.5kg.

Peel the garlic and slice each clove in half length ways.  Cut the rosemary in to inch long sprigs. Chop the lemon in to small 2cm pieces. 

Now take your joint and make incisions all over it, about 1-2cm deep. I find that the easiest way is to use a small sharp ended knife to make crossed incisions, creating the ideal pocket to stuff in a bit of lemon, rosemary and garlic. Remember to do both sides. 

Once you've used up your ingredients place the joint on a roasting tin, skin side up. Season well with salt and pepper and then place in an oven at 200c. I cooked mine for 30 minutes per 500g plus 30 minutes. This cooked it through, if you want it pink just reduce the time slightly. 

After an hour I checked on the joint and gave the skin a good lug of olive oil. 

I served ours as a full roast dinner but the lemon gives the meat a wonderful freshness and it'd be equally good served in a salad or in pitta with cucumber and yogurt. 

Sunday dinner was more frugal, using up some cocktail sausages in a quick and easy sausage casserole. For this I used:

300g cocktail sausages. (any sausage would do though) 
1 punnet of chestnut mushrooms, quartered.
1 onion sliced
2 large beef tomatoes (use a can of you prefer but drain the juice off) 

1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Zest of one lemon
Juice of half lemon

Large bunch basil
1 mozzarella ball torn into small pieces
Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large oven proof dish. Add the sausages and onions and fry for a few minutes. Add the mushrooms, nutmeg and paprika. 
Roughly chop the tomatoes and add along with the lemon zest and juice. 

Place pan into hot oven for ten minutes. Remove and add basil, mozzarella and a drizzle of balsamic over the top. Return to the oven for five minutes or until sausages are cooked through. 

Serve with crusty bread or horseradish mash.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

True Colours 2017: Blue is the Colour

This year is my first ever attempt at a photo a day challenge. I've actually already failed as I missed a day mid month, but I'm not going to beat myself up about that. 

I'm following the challenge as set by a photographer friend called Jamie Stephenson. Every month is set a different colour and each day a photo is taken with that colour as a theme. January's colour was blue and I've very much enjoyed using the challenge to document the ongoing refurbishment of my flat, my love of all things retro and my life in general. Some things that appear here have great sentimental value, some are things I've created and some no longer exist at all. 

Every month I intend to post each photo for the month on this blog. If you reuse these photos please only do so for none commercial or educational use and credit this blog. If you want a copy of an original, let me know.








Thursday, 12 January 2017

Here's to MicroAdventures!



First post of 2017 and the first for a very long time. There are a  number of reasons for this hiatus but two main ones. First my personal laptop died, a victim of old age rather than anything more malicious. Secondly I’ve been working to a stress risk assessment for the last year that requires me (for my own good) to leave work firmly behind me at 5pm. No evening working, no checking emails at weekends, no going anywhere near work stuff outside of 9-5.  And because I now rely on my work tablet for access to Word I have for my own well being avoided any professional activities other than those that fall within work time. I've now got to the point where I feel I don't have to be so rigorous with that separation.


I have of course continued to be busy. In June I attended the ARLG annual conference during which I managed to find some of my old enthusiasm for what I do, mainly thanks to the wonderful colleagues who reminded me just why I love working in libraries. I also organised cross service UX training and took the lead in a review of library spaces using UX techniques. I’ve been refining the library chat service and supporting other services across the university in implementing their own online chat. I’m also at the start of a number of interesting projects including introduction of the CSE standard and introduction of an enquiry management system. Throughout this all we are still continuously reviewing our services and processes, ensuring the teams have the training they need and identifying areas that can be refined or improved. 




 Outside of work it’s been a year of firsts. I climbed my first trad route in South Gower, I stayed in my first bothy in Scotland, where I also saw my first pine martin and climbed my first Ben. I bought my first property, held my first house warming and then adopted a beautiful ragdoll cat that has very much become part of the family. I learnt how to tile, created kitchen work tops from scaffold boards, demolished cabinets and have slowly started to create a home that reflects my style and personality.  And I’ve done nearly all of this with the lovely Ross supporting me and holding my hand.


This year will see more adventures to come. I hope to get fit, find solutions to ongoing injuries and start climbing again, stronger and better than before. I’m travelling to Australia to meet a new nephew, will see my twin for the first time in over a year and have plans to catch up on friends around the country. More immediately I’ve set myself the goal of improving my printing techniques and have already started with reduction lino printing using a home made printing press. (following Umbrella Studios instructional videos) I’ve set myself the goal of completing prints good enough to exhibit this year and hope to find someone willing to show them.  I’m also starting my first photo a day project, something I’ve never done before. I’ll post monthly updates of how I’m getting on with the months photos included. 

 So generally I'm positive about the year to come despite the challenges I know are still to come  and happier in mysefl than I have been for a while. Things are still difficult at work but to mitigate that Ross and I are planning adventures (#microadventures - sorry private joke) and I'm focussing on the things that make me happy. This year I hope to fill the blog with these things so hopefully many more posts to come.