Saturday, 9 April 2011

Final birthday experience

Well with my birthday coming up in a few days, today I enjoyed the last of last year's 40th birthday experiences - I drove a Ferarri 360 at Knockhill racing circuit!
It was an absolutely gorgeous day for it - blue skies and bright spring day - so we drove up to Knockhill in the Porsche with the roof down, ready for a 9am start.
After a short wait (during which time I got myself more and more nervous) we were called through to go down to the 'helmet shed' to get our helmets for the day. Jonathan got to watch procedings from the pit lane while first of all Duncan Vincent took me round the track in a Seat - this was to teach me about racing lines, where to break and where to accelerate. Since there were little cones round the track to aim for it was quite easy to follow the racing line but I listened carefully to everything Duncan told me and tried to follow his advice (he later said I was a star pupil!). The other purpose of the laps in the Seat was for Duncan to assess whether I could be trusted to be let loose in the Ferarri - I'm pleased to say I passed the test though since it was the first time I've driven a manual car in many years it was quite surprising how well I did. The most disconcerting thing was probably that the instructor has the rear view mirror so it was hard to see what was behind.
Duncan also drove a couple of laps round the track to show the right and wrong way to tackle the circuit. The wrong way was very scary and we nearly ended up on the grass or in the gravel a couple of times, though Duncan was obviously expert at this and I never really felt in any danger.

Once instructed fully by Duncan it was time to put myself in the hands of Jonathan (Jonny) Adam who was my instructor in the Ferarri. Gear changing was a lot easier as the Ferarri has 'flappy paddle' gear changers beside the steering wheel and no clutch to worry about. I took the first couple of laps very gently, learning to handle the car and how and where to speed up, slow down and take the corners - Jonny talked the whole time, making sure I was positioning the car correctly and encouraging me to 'put my foot down'! My confidence grew steadily with each lap and gradually I was speeding up and enjoying the drive rather than being anxious. By the time I was finished and had to pull in to the pit lane I was really loving the Ferarri and could happily have driven round the track all day. It made me realise how racing drivers can spend a couple of hours driving their cars round the circuit without getting bored. Because of the speed of the car it needed full concentration all of the time and I don't think I looked at the speedo once - I was so focussed on those little cones and making sure I followed the racing line at each corner. So I don't know how fast I went but I know that my favourite part was on the straight past the pit lane where I came out of the hairpin turn and could really speed up!

So after a few laps it was time to come in to the pit lane and take off our helmets. Jonny said I had made great progress and that I was improving with every lap. I was amazed, that given how anxious I was about the experience I could have happily jumped right back in the Ferarri and driven another 20 laps! Therefore this experience is another 10/10!

I'll be back in a few days to give a summary of all of the birthday experiences. Until then, thank you for another great day, Jonathan!

Friday, 8 April 2011

I've loved being on holiday this week - I've had time to be creative and even better - I've had time to be organised! I finally got round to sorting out 2 big baskets of scraps of cardstock and patterned papers and I used them to make almost 120 cards. While on a roll I decided to go through the whole of craft room sorting out every box and magazine file and having a really good clear out - lots of bits and pieces for papercraft club at school!
So when my copy of Scrapbook Magazine fell on my doormat I had a tidy craft room all ready to go. I'm not usually that keen on the free papers that come with magazines but these ones were Fancy Pants and straight away I knew that I wanted to do some hand cutting. The papers are very geared up to baby/ child LOs with the title 'Precious' but I thought that it would suit a LO of Claudia perfectly. To make it more of a challenge I decided to allow myself only one sheet of Bazzill and no other stash. So I used a lot of handcutting, creamy brown cats eye chalk ink, glossy accents and Diamond Stickles. Here's my LO...

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

When Jane met Tim...

Ok - so this time, not a birthday experience - but a Christmas gift - in fact this treat came from Santa (he even sent me an e-mail to tell me I was getting it!!) ~Thank you Jonathan!
In the February holiday I Squeezy jetted down to Luton - hopped in a very expensive taxi up to Newport Pagnell and stayed in a grotty stain laden room in a hotel all because... well to have a workshop with Mr Holtz himself...
The squuezy jet flight, expensive taxi and grotty room were all worth it! What a day!!
I was in the first of the four Tim Holtz workshops (2 on Thursday and 2 on Friday) organised by Lin Brown and Leandra Franich of Artsy Crafts. We each had a pack of goodies from Ranger, our configurations box and lots of Tim Holtz goodies. Once lots of us had had our photo taken with Tim we began work, covering our boxes (with ready trimmed papers to save time), we then covered all of the joins with tissue tape before painting, inking and generally distressing our boxes. Tim was a great teacher - so patient with us, funny and very good at explaining what we had to do.

There must have been about 70 of us in the classroom but somehow there was enough of Tim to go round! This is the table where I was working - the empty chair is mine!
After a tea break (Tim seemed to get a kick out of the fact we had tea breaks!) we returned to our table to find a little calico bag - we weren't allowed to open it until Tim told us to - inside we discovered a treasure of ideaology bits and pieces and other little items with which to fill our configurations box...
We then had the remaining time to fill our box - I decided on my birthday experiences as the theme for mine since there were 12 boxes to fill inside the big box and I had some calendar tissue tape to hand. I think my favourite things in the box were the little bird cage and the way we taped a vintage photo printed on acetate to the battery operated tealight - it really made it look like a candle in a small glass holder. I also loved using the Studio Matte Medium to hold everything in place - I love the way it dries clear (and matte!) yet it really holds things down! Here's my box...

Boxes finished (or almost - I would add the feet when I got home) it was time for lunch, but first I gave Tim the picture that I had drawn for him...

After lunch there was a little time for shopping in Lin and Leandra's shop - then it was back in to class - this time in with Lin and Leandra to learn some paint techniques.
The afternoon session was great and I really learned a lot - I especially liked the very matte white paint (Frescoe Finish in snowflake) we used and the way we added colour to it using the adirondack colour wash inks. I've got to get some of that paint. We painted onto embossed metal then rubbed it back. It was a great class but I was on a different table and some were not as friendly as the lovely table I had been with in the morning. It didn't matter - I knuckled down, listened to Lin and Leandra and got my work done - this is what we made...
I also loved the waxy stuff we used to make the grungeboard hinges look metallic - going to have to do some Googling to find out what it was called and then buy some!! We inked them after we had added the wax and it gave a really aged metal result.

A big thank you to Tim, Lin, Leandra and all their helpers for a fantastic day and thanks to Jonathan for a wonderful gift!

Monday, 4 April 2011

February Birthday catch-up - Photography

Welcome to the latest in my edition of birthday expreience catch-up blogs. February's birthday experience was a day of photography tuition with Philip Dunn over in Kirkcudbright.
We drove down on the Friday evening and stayed at a lovely B & B called Fludha - bizarrely enough the house used to be owned by friends of ours (Charles and Sarah) when they used to live in Kirkcudbright over 10 years ago. The owners were very friendly and we were very well looked after.
After a good night's sleep we headed a couple of doors down to the home of Philip and his wife, Norene who would look after us for the whole day.
I can't believe how much I learned in just one day!! We started off with theory behind photography, and Philip explained everything in such a straightforward way that even I could begin to understand f-stops, apertures, exposure, ISO settings. He taught us about using light correctly in our pictures and about using rectangles to frame our pictures. We won't forget the two little monkeys (light and rectangles) who from now on will be sitting on our shoulders reminding us about how to take a good photo.
After a delicious lunch of quiche and salad we headed down to the harbour to try out our new found knowledge and for the first time I took pictures purely using manual settings. It was a shame that it was quite a grey, overcast day, but we were definitely delighted with the pictures we took and with how much we learned from Philip. Here are some of my favourite pictures...

Thank you so much to Philip for a great day - this was yet another 10/10 birthday experience.
You can see Philip's blog here.

In linking to Philip's blog I note that Norene has not been well - I'm sure Jonathan would join me in wishing her a speedy recovery.

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Happy Mother's Day!

Today's blog is dedicated to my Mum - though as I'm originally from the North-East of England I call her 'Mam'. Whether you call them Mam, Mum, Mom - mothers are the best! Always there to talk to, give you advice, give you a hug when you need it. Since my Mum is also a crafter I love to spend time with her making things, papercraft, sewing and cooking - she instilled in me my love of making things and I will always thank her for that.
Above is the card I made her (- I'm just loving these coiled up paper roses at the moment). I also gave her flowers, a subscription to 'Simply Homemade' and the birdbox I made for my class at the ATDML retreat...
To any ATDML retreat readers, I haven't forgotten I promised to blog about my birdbox and put the template up - I will get round to it. Though there were some other things people asked me to put on my blog and I can't remember what they were - please leave me a comment and I promise to get round to it.
Will be blogging about my photography day, Tim Holtz day and the ATDML retreat in the next few days.

Anyway - that's it for now - have a great day Mam - and all other 'Mams', 'Mums' and 'Moms'.