I did this cut out in answer to my friend Dan’s request for contributions to a new surfing newspaper he’s engineering, ‘KooK’.

It’s a newspaper to represent and show case British surf culture.

I, myself will look forward to sitting in the car on a wet windy morning with a brew, waiting for the tide to drop, and scour the pages of KooK to update myself on what the rest of you water going artyculturalists are up to. To see what Dan’s up to visit him at: thisrichtapestry

Kook paper cut out

Kook paper cut out


Have really enjoyed doing these paper cut-outs. They seem to work as a blatant summary to what’s supposed to happen in the room you put the cut-out in.
Dexterity and patience are an asset.

fine dining

fine dining

paper cut-out


In celebration of Melvyn Braggs play ‘The Maid of Buttermere,’ currently showing at the Theatre by the Lake, Keswick.

The maid of Buttermere-paper cut framed

The maid of Buttermere-paper cut framed

sleep good


bed time

bed time

The benefits of a good night sleep are obvious. Longer concentration span, quicker reactions, happier. I’m prone to being a little grumpy pre 11 am. This may be due to my natural disposition however it can be kept at bay by a good nights sleep.

Here are a few pointers i find work for me, atleast some of the time:

1. don’t eat large meals just before clambering into the sack, the body will struggle to digest when you’re lying flat out on your back.

2. try to avoid drinks with caffeine in as these will kick in just when you’re sheep start jumping. also, drinks last thing mean pit stops during the night.

3. make a list. jot down all those tasks/events/thoughts which you’ll worry about remembering until the morning. this helps to clear the mind ready to make room for some rich dreams.

4. arguments and serious conversations aren’t good in bed. tempting, as it’s a quiet time perhaps for you and your loved/not loved one, however it often leads to tension and anxiety which doesn’t make for a blissful night sleep.

5. take some end of the day deep breaths. this helps bring a conclusion to your day, then try and slow your breathing and in turn your heart rate down which helps relax the mind.

6. make your bedroom a place you want to be. stick up a few nice prints/paintings, puff up your pillows and have a good book or two by the bed.

7. open the window. even if just a little open, fresh air will help make you feel cosy and comfortable in bed and it’s good for you!

8. lastly, and possibly the most effective, is to try and keep your eyes open. sounds daft i know but you’ll soon see what i mean.

Especially in these hard times, it’s probably more important now then ever to make sure you get a good nights kip.

One hell of a blast! The whinlatter trail, completed mid summer 2008 is the latest addition to the Cumbrian mountain biking scene. Being from Brighton i have become soft riding the chalky, undulating hills of the south downs. Although a fan of the local southern pastures i was truly taken aback by the aggressive and raw feel to the mountains of north England.

Partly due to my lack of skill on a mountain bike i was introduced to downhilling in dense forestry, drop offs, steep banking turns and slate tracks. It was however fun, fast, muddy, snowy, steep and furious. I learn’t a lot.

Although this particular Altura trail is a red route (difficulty level) i still think it’s accessible to the majority of hearty an healthy folk. The bike shop at the top of the car park offers lessons, bike hire, head cam hire (see here for short vid of the track). Rocking up at the carpark i was a little intimidated by the amount of full sus bikes around but my trusty stead saw me through.

me @ start of whinlatter trail

me @ start of whinlatter trail

I would not be doing the area justice though without saying that Cumbria is a natural playing ground and although this man made trail is excellent there is a lot to be said for self exploration. Worth a look around Borrowdale for some more views like this…….

views to pedal for

views to pedal for

poster by the lakeA compelling dramatisation of Melvyn Bragg’s novel ‘The Maid of Buttermere’ has opened at the Theatre by the Lake.

This is a sumptuous adaption of a true story local to the Cumbrian hills. A young maid, Mary Robinson, has become an attraction for visitors to the town of Butteremere. An inn keepers daughter, she is swept of her feet by someone she believes to be both an aristocrat and Member of Parliament.

The director Ian Forrest weaves a well balanced blend between both professional and amateur actors. A large group from the Keswick community chorus lay an affectionate back drop for all involved. The leads played by Jonathan Keeble and Rebecca Pownall hold true to the passion of the story offering the audience up to both laughter and tears.

The Theatre sets the scene so well for this play, being able to see the dramatic backdrops of Derwent water and the surrounding mountains. I can highly recommend a trip to the area of Keswick both for it’s natural beauty and for the chance to see the world premiere of this play. A good place to start is on the theatre’s website: www.theatrebythelake.co.uk

Derwent water

google readerI hope being introduced to google reader will make it a little easier for everyone to enjoy my new blog ‘vanilla sponge’ with relative ease. Vanilla sponge hopes to offer a slice of whats nice, touching on crafts,culture and lifestyles.

Through word of mouth i was beginning to acquire a large bank of good cultural and artistic blogs. Fantastic. However, my ability to remember and organize all these blogs was seriously out of control. Now i’m sure this is no secret to the highly computer literate that, using google reader is great for organizing all your RSS feeds from interesting blogs. But, I have to assume that their are folk  like myself who rarely discover these things at their embryonic stages but once introduced are in awe of their efficiency.

Once signed up to a google account you can organize various elements of your life using the calendar, mail boxes, document folders and photo galleries. However, for the purpose of getting all your blogs organized in one place google reader is excellent. RSS feed icons can usually be found on your favourite blogs which will link through to your google reader account, otherwise you can copy and paste the URL to where it says ‘add a subscription’ at the top of your google reader page.

Once set up you only ever need to go to your reader account to follow all your favourite blogs. You can sort them into folders under ‘subscriptions’ and also star or rate feeds to make them easier to refer back to.