24 February 2012


January and February have been the calm before the storm of 2012.

In March, it all kicks off for us. Leaving our home of two years in Singapore, moving back to our "real" home in the UK - a process that will take nearly two months in total. Endless, endless paperwork mountains to be climbed. Making our empty house feel like home again, and starting from scratch in our big, heartbreakingly neglected garden. Contemplating the absence of Mister Breadwinner for looooong periods (sadly, this year our bread must come from Continental Europe it seems). Starting "big" school. Much-ignored, long-overdue and cripplingly expensive maintenance to our house. And numerous other challenges that make my eyes pop out of my head, some that I can anticipate, many that I'm sure I can't.

But no matter what happens this year, I'll always be happy that I got to spend a very early Monday morning in February watching the sun rise over a gradually wakening Singapore from the top of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel, looking out over the highest swimming pool in the world. It was very calm indeed. That breadwinner, he certainly knows how to give his girls a treat.

about 6.30am using a very long exposure and a helpfully placed wall (got to get a tripod one of these days!)

snapped with my iphone just before breakfast. she stayed there a long time in the very cold water, it almost looked like she was meditating at times.

Linking up with the wonderful Rebecca at Bumbles and Light, Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud, Faith of Sweet Violet and Alicia of Project Alicia, who are together hosting the Poetic Winter Photography Challenge. Click on the button below or go to their Pinterest board to check out the other lovely pictures.

Previous posts in the Poetic Winter series:

Poetic Winter Photo Challenge

23 February 2012

project 52: cabin fever

Wiki currently describes cabin fever as "a claustrophobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do, for an extended period (as in a simple country vacation cottage during a long rain or snow)."

Now - bearing in mind that I'm prone to gross exaggeration and writing entirely for provocative effect - to me, that simple cottage with nothing to do sounds amazing. Fresh air and vigorous activity are totally over-rated, especially if you hail from the North of Scotland where the weather is (at worst) horrific or (at best) a bit parky even at the height of Summer.

My favourite kind of day involves me and my girl, jogging bottoms, blinds drawn against the rain, a burbling radio, a purring cat, and nothing in particular to do beyond stories, crayons and maybe a bit of knitting. If I can arrange for that day to last a week, so much the better. And the apogee is reached with free-flow tea and toast. Very, very rarely have we darkened the doors of a "musik!" group or a preschool gymnastics class, because frankly, we just prefer being at home. (If you're thinking I'm an idle, unstimulating mother, you'd be right. But she sometimes drinks the tea with me, and caffeine is a stimulant. Please let me know before nominating me for the worst mum in the world award, it's only fair.)

So, if being shut in my wee house for a while = cabin fever, bring it on I say. I do remember the phrase "cabin fever" being bandied about between my friends when our babies were small, some of the more proactive among us clearly feeling a little housebound. Occasionally I did almost get where they were coming from, but mostly I just smiled and sympathised.

However, while pondering tomorrow's p52 theme, I realised that there is one place that does give me cabin fever every. single. time.

In anticipation, a visit to this place always seems like a good idea. And it usually starts off well. But, no matter how good your intentions, it's never possible to avoid a marathon expedition. About half way through said marathon I start to get restless, irritated, frustrated... I feel an overwhelming urge to just GET OUT (I did once abandon my trolley, diving for the nearest cab with a whimper). I always vow that, in future, I will happily spend 500% more in John Lewis just so that I can avoid the Scandi hangar of genius storage and writhing nightmares for EVER, never to return...

But return I inevitably do, because lets face it, it's the consumerist yoke of our generation.

bags behind bars: ISO400, f2, 1/30

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge my3boybarians.com

17 February 2012


Fridays are busy with photo challenges this month. And though I didn't manage last week's Poetic Winter prompt (which was 'warmth' and should have been easy, since it's warm here all the time, d'uh) I really wanted to try and take part in the final two weeks.

But like my p52: true love post earlier today, I really struggled to find a photo to illustrate passion in a romantic sense. I think it's the Valentine's overload this week, it kind of puts me off. So instead, I took this photo of some elderly guys (all simply known as Uncles in Singapore) at the outdoor checkerboard tables in Kreta Ayer Square.

I love this scene. Who knows what the central character is feeling so passionate about. Maybe he's a cabby bemoaning the fare hikes and new underground networks that are ruining his trade. Maybe he's a noodle hawker feeling the pinch from ever-increasing stall rents. Perhaps he resents the new Chinatown Visitor Centre imposing on the square, certainly the checkerboards have been slightly sidelined. Maybe he's just losing the game or having a laugh at the expense of one of his friends. But one thing's for sure; none of his pals are paying the slightest attention to his outburst. You can imagine them thinking, "old Lim grumbling again. Plus ca change.".

there's a nifty little filter in Photoshop called surface blur, which perhaps I overdid a bit (like all psd newbies tend to do!) it kind of
gently flattened/smoothed out the whole image except the central character's face (by chance). Helps to vignette a bit I thought.

Now, just in case you're interested, I wasn't sure about the rules regarding publishing photos of strangers. But here's a marvelous explanation from Darcy at my3boybarians. So, sorry if this happens to be your actual Uncle, but I think this falls into the totally acceptable category because I was just standing in a square taking a picture of a public scene. Interesting stuff anyway, and a great simple explanation.

Linking up with the wonderful Rebecca at Bumbles and Light, Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud, Faith of Sweet Violet and Alicia of Project Alicia, who are together hosting the Poetic Winter Photography Challenge. Click on the button below or go to their Pinterest board to check out the other lovely pictures.

Poetic Winter Photo Challenge

project 52: true love

Now don't panic, the combination of this week's prompt and my photo is not getting smutty. I won't be giving you too much information, so you can relax. We're not doing an ode to Tracey Emin's unmade bed.

Despite this week's Hallmark Holiday (or maybe because of it) I really struggled to find a unique expression of true love for a photo. Don't get me wrong, we've celebrated Valentine's day in the past, but this year a few crayon drawn cards from the Boss and a nice bar of chocolate each sufficed. So, instead I thought I'd show you a photo of the one activity that I truly love: sleeping. And since my husband offered to be an hour late for work this morning so that he could do the school run and I could stay in bed, this photo sort of illustrates why I love him too!

I consider myself to be a semi-professional sleeper. There is rarely a time of day when I couldn't be tempted take a nap. And that wonderful advice someone gave, when I was a mother of a newborn, to nap whenever the baby does? Well, five years on, I still do whenever possible. (Yup, my five-year-old still takes a nap every afternoon. An hour, sometimes two. A girl after my own heart!) If Tom Hodgkinson advocates napping, then that's good enough for me. To quote "The morning is improved by its anticipation, and the afternoon and evening are improved because you are not exhausted." I couldn't agree more.

Go on, try it, take a nap. You'll love it.

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge my3boybarians.com

10 February 2012

project 52: drink up!

We made it through The Boss's birthday last week. I say "made it through" because there were a few different celebrations, various treats, and it suddenly dawned on me that our normally healthy diet had morphed into the Saturday page of The Very Hungry Caterpillar. By lunchtime on day five of being five, she turned to me with a pained face and, like said caterpillar, moaned "Mummy, I've got a tummy ache". She opted only to eat cucumber dipped in hummus for the rest of the day, and I decided it was time for a homestyle detox, using whatever ingredients I had to hand.

So my photo for this week's p52 is more a demonstration of food over photography, nutrition over composition, diet over dof. If your tummy needs the afternoon off, this might be just the job.

makes about 400-500ml of thick smoothie:
     125g blueberries
     10 strawberries
     1 mango
     1 sprig of mint
     1 large scoop natural yoghurt
     1 handful mixed nuts

Blitz in the liquidiser and drink up!

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge my3boybarians.com

08 February 2012

notes from a blue funk

An uninspired photo to illustrate my uninspired creativity of late. See the lovely Orla Keily bag tucked away in the corner; my knitting bag? It's been there for two weeks. The piece mentioned in this post hasn't moved on a stitch since, and this one from nearly a month ago still lingers at the bottom of the bag, waiting for its ends to be woven in.

I can't seem to be bothered. And as each day goes by, I feel more guilty about it, which is not very logical or productive. And, evidenced by some the blogs I follow (but for how much longer, am I the only one who doesn't understand this impending Google connect business?), I'm not the only one feeling this way during February.

Any hints?

In a similar modus operandi, I'm still sort of reading The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obrecht. I felt like the writer needed to tell a lot of very detailed background stories to set up for the one she really wanted to tell, so the beginning was kind of long and drawn out. But I feel like I'm on to the real tale now, and it's really good. I'm enjoying it a great deal... in a slow and lazy kind of way.

03 February 2012


If I understood correctly, Chinese New Year was simply about celebrating the good stuff. Family reunion, reconciliation, wealth, health, happiness, luck, longevity, joy, blessings. It was celebrated with generous gifts, lavish gluttony, ear-splitting music, and red and gold adorning every surface. Chinese New Year was IN YOUR FACE.

So I guess the antithesis to Chinese New Year could be encapsulated by one word. And coincidentally that word is the first theme for the Poetic Winter photo challenge: solitude.

Solitude. It's pretty hard to come by at this time of year, when CNY coincides with The Boss' birthday (and with Singapore being the most densely populated country in the world anyway!). But here are two shots that illustrate solitary moments amidst the festivities. CNY was celebrated by millions upon millions of people worldwide, which somehow makes these images feel all the more solitary.

i seem to have a fixation with lantern photos

table for one?

Linking up with the wonderful Rebecca at Bumbles and Light, Kristi of Live and Love Out Loud, Faith of Sweet Violet and Alicia of Project Alicia, who are together hosting the Poetic Winter Photography Challenge. Click on the button below or go to their Pinterest board to check out the other lovely pictures.

Poetic Winter Photo Challenge

02 February 2012

project 52: shadows

I knew I wanted to photograph our cardboard muji CNY dragon for this week's p52 theme: shadows. He casts fascinating shadows wherever he sits. I didn't realise how difficult it would be to take a photo where his shadow was strong but not obscured by my own. After half an hour of falling off various bits of furniture onto anglepoises (me, not him) I decided to call it a day and see what fun things can be done with shadows in post production instead. I know that photoshop and (the soon to be historical) picnik can't make a good photo out of a bad one, so I'm not under any illusion, but it's a fun way to wait for a thunderstorm to pass anyway!

samsung nx10, 30mm pancake lens, ISO400, f/2, 1/30
dodged the hell out of the highlights at 7% in photoshop, not carefully enough on his tail and ears

a bit of "chinoiserie" using the infrared filter in picnik!

project 52 p52 weekly photo challenge my3boybarians.com
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