Monday, 25 August 2014

A day out in Sheffield for photographers and creatives

Yesterday we visited Kelham Island in Sheffield - one of my favourite haunts. As a photographer there is so much to see from textures, to street art not to mention the lovely people and food that can be found there.
First stop as always is The Grind Cafe @THEGRIND_Cafe for breakfast - quirky - attention to detail and lovely poached eggs. This is part of the #collagechallenge on twitter - follow the # and feel free to join in.

A wander with my camera is lovely - I'm not going to upload many photos as these will form another #collagechallenge

Having wandered, we crossed over the road to the Nicholas building. This is like a sweetshop for photographers and anyone with an eye to the unusual! In the newly opened section for upcycling we met a wonderful young lady and spent some time just chatting and exploring - if you are at all creative and love looking at unusual objects, seeing how you could incorporate these into your home, garden, classroom then this is a must visit.

There are two floors of treasures to be explored - we will be returning

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Getting it right

As a parent you want the best for your children. You do your best when they are growing up and your aim is for them to be the best that they can be. This morning was a pivotal moment for me. I love my son and have always been proud of him but this morning he made me cry with pride. If you have read previous posts you will know that our Thomas was born on the 1st Aug - I've copied and pasted Adam's facebook status from this morning - he's grown into a thoughtful, caring young man and a proud dad. Love him to bits x

To the people that have asked, wonderd or have being worried, our beautiful gorgeous baby boy was born with a pre-birth condition called amniotic band anomaly, this basically means when he was first growing in his mum's womb one of the thousands of fleshy bands that support an embryo in the first few weeks got wrapped tightly around his arm causing the blood flow to be cut off. Due to this Thomas was born with a short right forearm and missing his right hand. We were told about this at our 12 week scan so we were fully prepared however what we couldn't prepare for was how within days Thomas used his 'little arm' to pull himself up, hold his bottle, scratch his nose all without a second thought. We are working with a specialist in Sheffield who will provide him with whatever they feel will benefit him whether it be surgery or prosthetics that will enable him to ride a bike, play drums, or just simply grasp our hands, the possibilitys are endless. So there you go with our help and the help of our friends Thomas will grow up to be an absolute legend and remember it's ability not disability that matters x

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Following the textures collage from Sheffield last weekend. other people joined in via twitter so we are now using the hashtag #collagechallenge with new challenges added regularly. This is just for fun and anyone can join in. It is however, easily transferable to a classroom setting and good fun for children to do.

 Colours of the rainbow


 Lines and stripes
These photos have been put in a collage using the app Moldiv but there are lots of collage apps out there.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Editing with Apps

Editing photos from your phone with Apps is really easy to do and can produce interesting results. I started with a deliberately poor image from my phone.
The background paper is creased, and the lighting is poor as the daisy is over exposed.

I opened the image in Stackables App and added several layers - texture, lighting, tints - I had already used this series of edits on another photo so had saved it as a 'formula' which makes your editing very quick and simple.

The final edit above has had text added by using the app 'Over' this allows you to create your own cards, posters or presentation slides.
The images here are the same starting point but editing using the app distressed FX

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Look beyond the obvious

Following a challenging week I needed to push myself to do something today. Train to Sheffield and decided to see what I could capture with a macro lens. I was looking beyond the big picture, beyond what was obvious. Texture and colour featured heavily. There was so much around. This could easily be done as a project with a class. Get them to fill the frame with a particular colour or a series of textures.

The textures shots make great collages - I did these using the app 'Modiv' - it literally only takes a couple of minutes. The textures on their own make good backgrounds for quotes - using apps such as 'Over'

Having said that I couldn't resist a few shots of  this abandoned area!

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Ability not disability

The rights of the child

During the last 10 days I have fallen in love all over again. This time the man in question is my grandson Tommy - I could sit and gaze at him for hours. To me he is perfect, he is already his own person with his own likes and dislikes- he's a cuddly baby and needs to be held close to you so that he feels secure. He is just a bundle of potential and I will fight to ensure he achieves that. His parents are in awe of this amazing bundle and can't believe the miracle that they have created. 
Thomas is extra special as he only has one hand. His right arm stops just below the elbow. He uses it, he scratches his nose with it, nudges his mum with it - to him it's the norm. Unfortunately to some adults it's something odd and they just stare. My daughter in law is understandably upset by this - it's a shame that all some people see is the difference not the whole person. Having been in the same position 25 years ago with a baby (Thomas' dad) who had a hare lip I understand her anguish. Adam had an operation to repair his lip at the age of 10 months and I remember being out with him with stitches on his lip and both arms in plaster casts ( to stop him pulling at the stitches)  when a woman sharing a lift was horrified and told me that 'people like me didn't deserve children as I obviously didn't look after him if he was in this state'- at the time I was too young and emotional to reply but I won't allow my daughter in law to be made to feel inadequate by narrow minded people.

I say 'difference' deliberately as he will be brought up with the slogan of the charity 'Reach' the association for children with upper limb deficiency who rightly insist that it is 'ability not disability that matters'. Thomas is lucky as he is surrounded by people who love him and will push him to achieve, others aren't so lucky. 
As adults and many of us teachers we need to set the tone. Children accept others for what they are and are open and honest, they ask what they want to know ' when will his arm grow?' ' why hasn't he got an arm' much better than a pitying stare! We need to concentrate on potential and see what people can do rather than worrying about what they can't do.
You will be seeing lots of this young man - I am already so proud of him and his parents-
 grandma J x

Friday, 8 August 2014

What a difference a week makes.

This week has been a whirlwind of cuddles, nappies, tears, pride and sheer overwhelming love all caused by the tiny bundle above. Thomas is now a week old (I love these baby milestone cards - see link in side column) and no doubt Thomas will end up being the most photographed baby ever.
One week in and he has already learnt the family default position when I appear with my camera.
This has caused much hilarity but has also brought us closer as a family - we have 'in jokes' and its ok to tease.

I am so proud of my son and daughter in law and can see the love shining through the exhaustion. Conversations about washing temperatures and baby cream versus oil are bringing myself and my son closer together - for a while there was just the two of us and we have a special bond but their card and flowers thanking me brought the biggest lump to my throat.
We took Thomas to see mum - she didn't know who Adam and Katie were and was totally panicked by Thomas.

I wonder how long it will be before she doesn't recognise any of us? Her deterioration is marked and worrying but there is nothing we can do - this is such a cruel disease.
We are being open and honest about Tommy's arm and it's amazing to see him using it and pushing with it - more research and reading to follow but we will learn together - he is to have a prosthesis at 3 months to help with his balance but his mum rightly wants him to learn how to manage without as well,.
More photo shoots to follow with our Oliver and more of the milestone cards but this tiny bundle has enhanced our lives already x

Tuesday, 5 August 2014


Life has been strange for a while now but the last few days have really turned my world upside down. My grandson 'Thomas Matthew' was born on the 1st Aug - following a long labour where his mum was in hospital for several days during which time we went through every emotion possible. BUT he's here, he's gorgeous and I've learnt so much already.

I've learnt that in times of stress and panic your friends are the ones who are there for you, who understand and who keep you calm. I've learnt that life comes full circle - his middle name is Matthew after my eldest son who died 27 years ago this month. He looks like Matthew and it broke my heart to see him the first time but in a good way - he already has his own personality and is a person in his own right but he has a history too and is surrounded by those who love him. 
If you look at the picture above you will see that he does not have a right hand and only half a right arm - this doesn't make us love him any less - it makes him more special and us more determined than ever that he can be anything he wants to be.
Those of you who know me know that my mum has Alzheimer's disease and is deteriorating rapidly.  She has been hospitalised twice in the last month. The first time kicking and screaming that she wanted to go home, three weeks later, actually thinking she was still at home and ordering us to go into the kitchen and fetch biscuits.She has no idea that Thomas has been born nor will he ever know his great grandmother as the person she really is. She is challenging to deal with and the joy that Thomas brings is balanced by this. I have changed 'nappies' for both this week.
I have learnt that my role in life is to provide the 'pile cream' by that I mean I don't provide the glitz and glamour - I'm the steady one, the sensible grandma that they ring to  bath him for the first time (honoured!) and  to collect the creams and lotions that my daughter in law needed. I'm glad that's my role, I love being needed, I'm fortunate to be surrounded by loving  brother, nephews, niece, cousins and spouses, great nephew, as well as a  whole host of amazing friends.
I'm hoping that the anniversary of Matthew's death will be easier this year - he will never be forgotten but there is more peace than there was.

You will be seeing a lot more of this young man as we learn together 
Love you Grandma J x