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2012

Time for a change….

Time for a change….

by Clare Mansell
Restaurant's "Sorry we're Closed" sign

 
I’ve decided the time has come to make a few changes to my online presence. Five years ago when I started this blog I didn’t sew, I didn’t quilt, I hadn’t discovered Flickr, or Pinterest or GoodReads or Twitter. I didn’t own an SLR camera and I didn’t have a photography blog to maintain. Other than Facebook (which hardly anyone was on) my blog was pretty much my only way to communicate with the world. Over the last half decade I have been spreading myself more and more thinly and I’ve decided to do an audit, which means the time is right to stop blogging here.

I’m not disappearing entirely. You can still follow my photography blog at claremansell.com and if you are a Flickr user I’d love you to add me as a contact and keep up to date with me and my family’s activities through my photostream (I’m making a conscious effort to post photos with more text) I have considered doing a Tumblr blog, and may yet, but for now this blog is being mothballed. Thank you for all your support and comments and for stopping by and reading, it has always been much appreciated…

PS – For those of you who have been hanging on to see if I was correct about my blogger-friend’s baby name, she’s still yet to have it, but I shall post an update on my Flickr photostream to let you know if I was right when she does!

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Theo at 10 months!

Theo at 10 months!

by Clare Mansell
Doggy walker

So another month gone and a steep learning process has begun, as in the last week Theo has begun to pull himself upright. Those extra few inches of elevation over the world have made him rather keen to view things from that height more permanently, but the leg muscles and the confidence are not quite there yet!

We bought him a doggy walker second-hand, which he has really taken to and there’s a push along brick trolly I had as a child on the way to us from my sister too.

Talking of wooden bricks, I’m pretty convinced they are the best toy ever. Theo spends a lot of his day chasing them round the house, chewing them or banging them against things and I still have memories of playing with mine when I was about 10! Nice that some toys never go out of fashion.

Theo in sunnies...

Last week Theo’s paternal grandfather came over from Cyprus to visit, it’s the first time he’s seen him since he was less than a month old, so quite a change. Theo just loved having a new person in the house to entertain him and provide a new distraction. As always it brings home how far away we are from all his relatives, but nothing is forever, and though we’re still 600 miles away from the closest ones, we have gradually been creeping closer over the last 5 years!

Theo & Grandpa

Food wise, Theo is starting to get bored with being spoon fed which is challenging our well honed system of freezing portions of meals for him. Last night he had fish fingers and carrot slices, but we need to raid the kiddie cookery books for ideas of quick and simple meals. Fortunately there’s one thing we can always get down him no matter how tired or bored he is. He’s absolutely addicted to blueberries and strawberries, I swear he’d eat them all day if I let him!

Unsurprisingly with his new exertions, he’s still sleeping pretty well. Anything between 90 minutes and 3 hours at lunchtime and about 12 hours overnight. I don’t want to jinx things, but it’s been a long, long time since we’ve been woken at night…

And finally his impressive flight tally continues to grow, as we shuttle backwards and forwards between the south-coast and Scotland. There’s another flight booked for a fortnight’s time and we’ll be spending his birthday down south too, so that’ll be 10 flights before he’s one. In comparison, I don’t think I’d managed 1 flight before my 10th birthday, but of course that was long before Easyjet!

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So close, yet so far away…

Wheat grains
Weald & Downland Open Air Museum
machine_part
Maypole

The last couple of days of my course at West Dean went well. On Saturday the sun came out and we spent the morning on an assignment at Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. It’s the kind of thing I have done a hundred times before for radio, but this time I had to reeducate my brain to look for pictures and not listen for audio. So the main interview became a “general view” photo and vox pops became close up pictures – simple! 

By the end of the weekend I honestly felt like there couldn’t have been a better course personally designed for me and where I am right now. Given that the timing worked out so well for our trip down south and that it was the first time they had run it, I was pretty lucky!

However, flying back to Scotland on Sunday was not straight-forward. After first discovering my driving license had flown 24 hours ahead of me (in Jim’s wallet) I then lost my boarding pass in departures and finally endured an hour delay to the flight with absolutely no information (though not as bad as Jim & Theo’s 7 hour delay the day before!) It was almost as if fate was trying to stop me going back…

And guess what? After all that time learning how to sell photos of a news story, the very next day my home village hit the headlines with torrential rain and flooding! Can you imagine how frustrating that was? Have a look at my mum’s Flickr photostream to get an idea of what I missed out on!

So back in Scotland I’m now on the lookout for a good photo story. Preferably one that fits around childcare and isn’t too far away – Not too much to ask surely?!

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In which I get my brain working again…
My brain may explode...

We’re down south this week. Visiting family, attending a wedding, and (for me) doing a course. The first two were the reasons we booked the flights, and then by chance I spotted the photography course at a local college, which happened to not only bridge my old and new skills, but also fitted the dates we were in the area.

So I am back learning for three days! The course is being run at the beautiful West Dean college, which for my overseas readers, is probably every cliche of an English college you can possibly imagine.  It’s a beautiful historic building in the Sussex countryside, with formal gardens and rolling hills full of sheep.

West Dean College

There are four other students on my course and it’s run by an excellent tutor with 25 years experience of press photography. It is a VERY steep learning curve, with very talented fellow photographers and a mind-boggling amount of crucial information about the way papers work (who knew that one newspaper has strict rules about the way women dress, and another bans photos of people on sofas?)

Included in our agenda today, we had 10 minutes to do a portrait session of a fellow student for a news piece. I became completely distracted by the building and came out of it with a photo that was more about a nice door than the person I was photographing. I think this is what living in a military quarter, with absolutely no architectural features does to you!

Tomorrow I return for the second day and (weather permitting) a field trip to the Weald & Downland Open Air Museum. Already I feel like I’m going to need to lie down for a week to absorb everything I’ve learned – fat chance of that!

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Nine months and counting…

Nine months and counting…

by Clare Mansell
Summer's here!

Theo is now three-quarters of the way through his first year of life and crawling! One Tuesday morning about three weeks ago he suddenly worked out how to shuffle his legs forwards and he was off. We now spend most of our days pulling him away from the broadband router, the fake coals in the fire, the stack of cookery books in the kitchen or the cord of the iron. Why is it that with all the experience and money behind the big toy brands, no one has yet invented something that is more alluring than the forbidden things in a house?

Although the summer has generally been disappointing so far, there have been a few warm days to get him out in the garden, an experience which has met with mixed results! He’s still extremely unsure about the feel of grass on his skin and left on a rug will remain marooned until someone returns to save him!

On the move and causing trouble...

With a new way to burn off energy he’s appetite seems endless. As his menu expands, we even tried him on a recipe containing lamb’s liver (much to Jim’s horror!) and he seemed to love it. Bouncing up and down in the high chair, murmuring sounds of appreciation!

Talking of high chairs, as I mentioned a while ago, around Christmas I took on the task of repainting our inherited Tripp Trapp high chair. It very rapidly turned into one of those things I wish I had never started! I bought two types of paint (spray and regular) and two types of sandpaper and spent most of the winter trying to get a proper finish on it, and failed. So Jim came home from Afghanistan and took over, he bought an electric sander, undid all my work and then varnished it. Four months, a lot of money and effort later (and with the addition of a £50 play tray and £30 harness) we ended up with a chair that looked identical to the one we had when we started – Gah!

All of this was even more frustrating when we saw the high chair my mother bought for him to keep at their house, which cost £15 from Ikea! The moral to this story is if you are ever in need of a high chair, and are near an Ikea, simply do not bother even considering anything other than the Antilop Chair, I cannot fault it!

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