I’m not going to take you very far away for this week’s ABC Wednesday. In fact, this particular ‘B‘ is only about five minutes walk from my house.

Now, it’s not the hanging basket (or its bracket), the Belisha beacon, the bushes, or the ‘blacktop‘ as my American friends call ‘tarmac’. It’s not the strengthening bolts in that big house to the right. It’s not even the burglar alarm that you might be able to pick out on the front of that end house.

I’m doing shops this time around, remember?

So this is the High Street of my village, looking west. The buildings in this part are mostly 18th century, and built from the local Barnack stone and this ‘B‘ is no exception.

You still don’t know what it is, do you? Does it help if I tell you that Sid loves walking past the (usually open) door, and that all of my dogs have tended to make a bee-line for it? Does it help if I tell you that features in this blog post here?

Okay. How about another picture?


This little pointy-roofed single storey building is our local butcher’s shop! There might be a blank space where the name should be, but everyone knows where it is. Also in this picture you’ll probably notice someone’s bottom as they bend over to do something in their driveway – there they are, just opposite their black bin*.

And if we go just a little closer, you might just be able to see the butcher’s meat saw and a couple of birds (possibly duck) hanging from the traditional butcher’s hooks inside that doorway.


How very obliging of that young lady to pose for us with her brolly, don’t you think?

It’s not a very posh shop – you might call it ‘basic‘ – but he’s painted it a beautiful blue, don’t you think?


* We do actually call them ‘black bins‘ to distinguish them from the green bins (recyclable rubbish) and brown bins (garden waste).


I know most of you will be relieved not to be presented by an incomprehensible close up of part of an ‘everyday’ object for Macro Monday, one which I tell you is ‘easy’. This one is far from being an ‘everyday object’ and it’s very, very difficult indeed. In fact most of you probably haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of solving it.  Not even when I tell you that this is just a small corner of a large-ish object which is sitting on my dining table right now – so, yes, Silverback, you did see it when you visited the other day.  Tee hee.

I also know that Jake will look at it and instantly know what it is, so I’m going to go ahead and declare him the winner right now – perhaps that will make up for apparently hurting his feelings last week when I refused to give him any points on the basis that he’d seen the object hundreds of times.  Anyway, I completely failed to read the second line of his comment. Sorry Jake!

So, having confused you all completely in two paragraphs, I will put you out of your misery and tell you that the answer is here, in this blog post! I won’t even make you wait until tomorrow for the answer.

And I hope it proves useful to some of you.

Posted on July 25, 2010 in Food and Drink, Hounds, The Home Front by Jay15 Comments »


Poor Sid.

He’s been unwell for some weeks, as some of you know, with an upset gut following a course of strong antibiotics. This means that he’s on a very restricted menu at the moment, while we gradually re-introduce a more normal diet. For the first couple of weeks, he could only have tinned or dry prescription diet and no treats at all! So every time we turned around, this is what we’d see – his little face gazing at us hopefully. He was clearly thinking ‘Any minute now. Any minute now, they’ll remember the treats. Any minute. Now? Hmm. Any minute … now’

As soon as someone goes into the kitchen his head whips round.


‘Did you remember?? Did you?’

But poor Sid was only offered another plate of dry kibble. And yes, he’s lost weight, but only about a kilo, don’t let him fool you. He isn’t actually starving to death.


(‘I am, you know!’)

It’s OK. He’s been having fresh, pressure cooked chicken and broth added to his meals for the last week, and all is going well. Yesterday, I added dried chicken meat strips for treats, and you should have seen the joy with which he ‘spoke’ for a piece, and the speed with which he shot to his bed for some!

Next week, I’ll be cooking him lamb so see how that goes down.

Spoiled? You think?



Taking part in Macro Monday is one thing, but taking decent photographs of jewellery for my Etsy shop proved a tad more difficult. I just couldn’t get enough light on the subject without a lot of hard shadows.

Now, hard shadows can be great in terms of a pleasing photograph, but when you need to show details like the actual colour and reflectivity of beads, the way a clasp works, or the knots you’re using in micro-macrame, those shadows can be a damn nuisance.

If you click the Etsy link, you’ll see that nobody has bought a single thing from my little shop, which part of me doesn’t find at all surprising, since there are so many people out there making jewellery which is far, far better than mine. On the other hand, my bits of jewellery have tended to sell very well in charity auctions, where it fetches higher prices than those I’m putting on Etsy, and I’ve made a few spontaneous sales from people who’ve seen my stuff and just asked if they can buy a piece or two.

So I’ve asked a few Etsy people what they thought, and one suggestion was that I needed to improve my photos by using a light ‘box’ or light tent.

Hmm. Expensive.

I did an internet search, and found that some people were making their own, so that’s what I did, and I thought you all might be interested in the result.

First, I found a large, strong, cardboard box. I also needed packing tape, large sheets of semi-opaque paper (I used baking parchment, but tracing paper would be even better), a ruler, marker pen, sharp cutting blade and a pair of scissors, and to finish, a piece of pristine white card. Here’s how much card you’ll need: lay your box on its side, and measure the width of the inside of the box, by 150% of the length (so if your box is 24 inches from top opening to the bottom, you’ll need 36 inches of card, and it will need to fit snugly into the width of the box).

Are you ready to start? Measure about an inch and a half in from all of the edges on three sides of the box length, and draw lines in marker to cut along, like so -


Cut along the lines, being careful not to crush the box. My box had polystyrene inserts at top and bottom, and I left the bottom one in place for strength, and pushed the other just inside the top opening to support it while I made the cuts.


Clean up the edges (if necessary) with scissors and bind them with packing tape. I used silver duct tape, actually, but clear, strong tape would be probably be better.


Next, cut three sheets of your tracing paper (or baking parchment).  Each sheet should be a little larger than the windows that you’ve cut into the box, because the next thing to do is tape a sheet carefully over each opening, so you end up with something like this -


Whether you end up with a mug inside is entirely up to you, at this stage, but since it’s there, you can see how soft its shadow has become, with the sun shining through the parchment – and that’s with it lit quite strongly from one side.

Cut your pristine white card (I used ticketing board) and just lay it inside the box, so you get a beautiful clean curve from the bottom edge at the front, right up to the top of the back.  This will be the background for your photographs, which is why you need it to be pristine, with no creases or dirty marks. You really don’t need to tape it, if the card is strong enough, it will just stay in place by natural tension, and this way you can replace it with black or coloured card to give you different background options. If you want or need to tape it, just the front edge will do.


There. All done!

And up at the top?  That’s my first picture taken using this box outside on the patio table with natural light only – and hand held using a compact digital camera. Pretty good, huh?

Well? Why are you still here? Go find a box and make one – I have to get busy re-photographing all my Etsy stuff!