My Raynes Park

Frozen Field by Debs Coady
Cannon Hill Common

Morning Light

Sunny St Saviours by Debs Coady

Sunny St Saviours

Pause by Debs Coady

Pause

Frozen Field by Debs Coady

Frozen Field

Park Life by Debs Coady

Park Life

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A little while ago I was tipped off about a local photo contest, the first of its kind in the area,  running to promote the local My Raynes Park Festival.  Not averse to taking a few snaps with my iPhone in the neighbourhood, I decided to enter the maximum five shots taken in and around the area.  I’ve never entered a ‘proper’ photo contest before, prior to this I’ve only ever submitted photos to Instagram related challenges, with mixed results!

I have to confess to being pretty pleased with my submissions and it felt pretty good to have my photos displayed on the organiser’s online gallery.  As the closing date drew nearer, more and more photos appeared and 168 photos were submitted in total, in two categories, under and over 17 years of age.

A few days later I received emails telling me that two of my images, Pause and Morning Light had been shortlisted.  Well chuffed!  So, I was invited, along with my guests (dragged hubby and the kids along!) to the prize winning event on 15 June 2013 at the Raynes Park Library, in the presence of the Mayor of Merton, Krystal Miller.  When we arrived, of course we made a beeline towards my two photos, only half interested in everybody elses!  Is that ungracious, or just human nature?  It is a contest after all and we snub all  competition!!  But they both looked so great mounted on the wall.

So to the awards.  To be honest, the awards part is a bit of a blur.  I remember that Pause received a highly commended, and although I thought Morning Light was a far nicer photo, I was delighted to receive the recognition.  But when they announced the winner of the 17+ category as….Debs Coady with Morning Light, I was so shocked, or gobsmacked as I think I might have said to everybody at the time.  How lame is that?!  But, OK this is a small town local event, but I was actually thrilled to bits!!  And so surprised, because I didn’t think both my shortlisted photos would even get a mention.  But they did and I am extremely grateful and very pleased to receive a couple of certificates, £100 winners cheque (now banked!) and I am now the proud owner of two rather lovely mounted photos.

Good on you Raynes Park Photo Festival, I look forward to the next one….

 

Box Hill stroll

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Box Hill Panorama

Hubby and I decided to take a day off work, to actually spend some time together, and on the same day!  Makes a change from hubby off playing golf or going to the races, or me on an Instagramers London meet or photo shoot.  After realising our intended trip to an art gallery wasn’t going to happen because it turned out to be closed on a Monday, we decided to travel to Box Hill for a pleasant summer walk.  Armed with camera, sunscreen and a small bag we headed off on the 30 minute drive from home.

Box Hill is owned and managed by the National Trust and they provide a number of leaflet guides on the different types of walks available, from a gentle 30 minute stroll, to a demanding eight mile hike.  Needless to say, in the searing heat, we opted for the stroll.

So, off we went, starting at Salomons Memorial we headed along the path looking for Box Hill Fort before turning heading back from our circular route.  Except we didn’t find the fort and we definitely weren’t going round in circles!  So we decided that we must have taken a wrong turning somewhere along the way, or the signposts were wrong, and at the next opportunity we took a path that headed back in the general direction we had walked from.  And we walked, and walked, and walked.  We were heading downwards, which we thought was right having walked up at some point previously, didn’t we?  And we carried on down, and down, and down.  Walking through narrow paths, legs being scratched by brambles, out into open countryside where the views are spectacular.  But we weren’t where we should have been, in fact we were almost at the bottom of the hill, and we had run out of pathway having ended up in an open field.

After checking Google Maps on my phone, we could clearly see we were in the wrong place, but we had no idea how to get back to our car in the car park near the top of the hill. There was no choice, an hour into our 30 minute walk, we had to head back the way we came, it was the only way we could guarantee getting back before it got dark!

So back we went, except you remember that we walked down, and down, and down?  Now we had to walk up, and up, and up! I tell you, lucky I was wearing trainers instead of my favoured Birckenstocks!  I was panting like a dog, stopping every few steps, and clearly struggling with my lack of fitness, to the point where I felt like I couldn’t go on.  What a wimp!  But onwards and upwards we went, until we did finally make it bake to base.

But just before we headed to the National Trust shop to complain about the poor signage and to find out where we did actually end up, we noticed the sign, right there, where we stood at the very start, taking in the view.  It clearly read Hill Top Stroll.  Oops!

Never mind, we had an ice cream instead, we earned it after that, and legs deserved a well earned rest as well!

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Asking for a Favicon

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Favicon3Peeking at the Twittersphere, as you do, I stumbled across a tweet from Annie Spratt, writer of the Mammasaurus blog, and one of the lovely bloggers I met at the recent BritMums Live event.  On her blog she has given a tutorial about how to create and upload a Favicon to your blog. Favicons are those small icons you see on your internet browser tabs, a logo representing the brand of the web site.  So I thought I would give it a go as part of Project Blog, and create my blog’s own Favicon.

As one who always follows instructions on any new gadgets and pieces of flat packed furniture, I followed her instructions to the letter.  Well, I thought I had a pretty good knowledge of basic computer packages, but could I work out how to create a box in Windows Paint?  To my shame, it took me a good hour just to work that part out, but I got there in the end.  And thankfully the rest was plain sailing.

Importing my colour filled box into PicMonkey, I added the initials ACM (see above), rounded the corners, and I was done.  Next step, upload to the blog.  Annie recommends a WordPress plugin called All In One Favicon, which worked a treat, simple, but job done!

There are quite a few nice bits and pieces on Annie’s blog, I think I may use it again very soon.

The university challenge

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My 17 year old daughter is currently attending Richmond-upon-Thames College in Twickenham, where she is studying A levels in Maths, Chemistry and Psychology.  As we wait nervously for her AS (1st year) results in August, we have begun the university trail, or more to the point, university trial!

A few weeks ago we headed to Oxford for our first recce, and before we all get excited, it was actually Oxford Brookes, not the well known university where the clever kids go!  But in saying that I’m probably doing Oxford Brookes a bit of a disservice.  Actually we were very impressed, the main Headington Campus has seen the benefit of a multi-million pound investment program and the facilities and soon-be-opened buildings were fantastic.  My daughter is looking to study straight Mathematics for her degree and, although a bit of a bus ride away, the facilites at Wheatley were of a similar high quality.  We also liked the idea of a small town, very much geared up to student life, and not too far away from home.  The place certainly set the benchmark.

Last weekend we drove a similar distance to Portsmouth University, on what has been the hottest day of the year so far.  The maths course seemed pretty much the same as that offered at Oxford Brookes, and the results being achieved equally good, despite having a less stringent entry requirement (260 points as opposed to 3 Bs at Oxford Brookes).  Clearly, the buildings hadn’t benefited from a large financial boost, but there were obvious signs of improving facilities, after all, students are paying customers now, not just student numbers. (Fess are currently approximately £9k a year)

The place has a peculiar layout though, the various buildings are pretty close together in Portsmouth’s university quarter, but they aren’t enclosed in a traditional campus arrangement.  My daughter felt a bit unsure about the layout, probably feeling that a campus set up would be a safer environment for her.   We could see her point, but assured her that after a short while she would probably be getting out and about as much as possible anyway.  Which, considering both the city and the sea are just a few minutes walk away, Portsmouth is looking like giving Oxford Brookes a run for its money!

So we finished our tour of the facilities, accommodation and the student union, and headed to the Gunwharf Quays, just a few minutes walk away at Portsmouth Harbour and its famous Spinnaker Tower, for a bit of a break before heading home.  Well, OMG! What a fabulous place!  Gorgeous shops, cafes, bars, the sea, marina, and a student favourite nightclub as well, apparently!  You can even get an ice cream and watch the boats go by (see photo)!  What more could a student (and her parents!) ask for?  We’re already booking in to the Holiday Inn Express for when we visit!

But…coming back down to earth, we still have a few more places to visit.  Next we are heading t’up north to Nottingham and Sheffield, but they will come after we know the AS results, due on 15 August, so they might alter the expectations somewhat, higher or lower.  Our fingers are crossed for her.

Interesting times, but important to get a feel for a place, because she will spend three years of her life there.