One good thing about a blog and a Flickr account is having a record of what's happened all year. It doesn't feel like much but looking through everything makes me realise I've seen and done a lot of interesting things. I've picked a photo from each month and together they pretty much sum up what I like is all about. Thank you to all readers who accompanied me on these virtual journeys (and those who accompanied me on the real ones). Here's to more of the same in 2007.

January - High rises, architecture, disappearing stuff.

Gorbals tower block

Two of these tower blocks in the Gorbals were demolished this year.

February - Old signs and lettering

Ladies toilet sign, East Kilbride

Ladies toilet sign in East Kilbride which tickles me for some reason.

March - patterns, shop windows

Net curtains

I like patterns and have a thing for net curtains that I can't quite explain.

April - Kids, family


I may not mention him much but new baby Danny was the most exciting thing to happen to me this year. Motherhood second time around has been a real pleasure. He's a lovely little fella. Seen here at 2 1/2 months old having a good stare out of the window in his grampa's chair.

May - local things for local people, islands, ice cream

Top Hat

The main theme this year was travelling about in your own country and finding the things that make it remarkable like strange customs and local delicacies. This is a Top Hat, only found on Rothesay, a lovely seaside town on the Isle of Bute.

June - holiday camps, symmetry

Pontins holiday camp, Prestatyn

June saw our first Great British holiday of the year to Pontins in Prestatyn.

July - shopfronts, lettering, little towns

Pert fishmongers, Kirriemuir

More summer days out, researching for Nothing To See Here which launched in May. This is a sign from Kirriemuir, a lovely wee town in Angus - home to J. M. Barrie author of Peter Pan and site of one of the 3 working camera obscuras in Scotland.

August - the crap but great

Children's playground, Wanlockhead

Hard to describe this. The thin line between rubbish and brilliant which makes me smile. This photo from Wanlockhead just about sums it up.

September - new towns, modernism

St Mark's Church, East Kilbride

A developing obsession with new towns, particularly East Kilbride.

October - dodgy British comedy, old toys, shambolic museums, ephemera

I only arsked: The Bernard Bresslaw Game

I spent the first 6 months of the year on maternity leave watching a lot of British comedy films from the 60s and 70s. So this was a sight that won my heart, from the fantastic Childhood Memories Toy Museum in Tynemouth.

November - the seaside

Seaside shelters, Trusthorpe

Probably my biggest obsession this year was the seaside and all that goes with it, particularly seaside architecture. These little shelters in Trusthorpe were my favourite thing of 2006. Found on our second Great British holiday in Lincolnshire.

December - World's Fair relics

Unisphere and NY State Pavilion

The Unisphere and NY State Pavilion in Queens, NY - site of two world's fairs. Lots of amazing things in one small area. More about this later.

That's 2006 in a nutshell. Happy New Year everyone!

  • "Public private places such as hospitals, airports, motorway service stations, shopping malls, leisure centres/health clubs, hotels: anywhere with an air of transience."

After reading 5 things you don't know about Russell Davies I thought I'd join in. It's often more difficult choosing what to write than writing it and these kind of things make the decision easier. I've kept myself to myself here most of the time so there's probably quite a lot you don't know. Here are a few things to get started:

  1. Not surprising but I don't think I've said it before - my favourite book by miles is The Catcher in The Rye. My favourite film by miles is Gregory's Girl. I don't have a favourite song.
  2. I'm left-handed and am really proud of it as it's the only thing that's ever been different about me. I am secretly pleased when people I like turn out to be left-handed and quietly believe that left-handers are cooler. I feel a bit short-changed at not being artistic, musical or talented though. The only quality it has brought me is a special clumsiness but in this case I am proud to be gauche.
  3. My strangest job was a placement student at the National Sound Archive in London. I spent two weeks indexing the NME and Smash Hits and then as penance, 2 weeks transferring tapes of steam train noises from cassette to reel-to-reel in the Sound Effects Department. It's harder than you think as setting the sound levels is a bit of a challenge as there's 44 mins of quiet chuff-chuff-chuff-chuff and then an unexpected CHOO CHOO which sends the needles off the scale.
  4. I was brought up Catholic and my confirmation name is Barbara. Saint Barbara was a child martyr which rather appealed to me as I leafed through the Ladybird Book of Saints. I must have been a melodramatic child. I swapped Catholicism for The Smiths when I was about 14 and steer clear of religion now.
  5. My biggest fear is potholing (as in caving). Enclosed spaces like lifts don't really bother me but anything tiny and underground gives me the fear. I sometimes forget this and go somewhere that terrifies me - most recently a Scottish lead mine; most memorably cave tubing in New Zealand.

I hope that was suitably revealing. Anyone reading please consider yourself tagged.

Merry Christmas

I'm not finished for the year yet but thought some of you might be finishing up for the holidays. So before it's too late I'll wish you all the best - Merry Christmas to you, one and all.

Cozy Tomato

It's been a little short of Japanese retro-style illustration round here lately, so let's put that right. Here's a big sunshine burst of it from Koji Tomoto aka Cozy Tomato. I got one of his(?) postcard books in New York and very dinky it is too. The website is all in Japanese (apart from the intriguing "Welcome to Balls!" opening gambit) so no details, but the pictures are lovely. Have a look.

Yonah Schimmel's Knishery

The thing I liked best about New York, out of a lot of good things, was the food. It was always tasty, and I experimented with a few new things. For example:

  • Bubble tea - A Taiwanese phenomenon where tapioca "pearls" are added to tea. I had a cold green tea, with black pearls which popped up the straw into my mouth. I was spared tapioca as a child so the bogey-like texture was literally something new to chew. It wasn't nice particularly, but it was interesting.
  • Root beer - I'd never had root beer either, but imagined it would taste like ginger beer. Ho no. It tastes like Germolene. I've been caught out before in the US by chewing gum or sweets that look like they're going to be minty but taste like this. What a peculiar flavour. Is this what sasparilla tastes like?
  • A knish - from Yonah Schimmel's knishery on the Lower East Side. Being full after a spectacular doughnut from The Doughnut Plant along the road, I bought a cheese and apple one to eat later. Was it a mistake to try one cold? It was really sweet (too sweet for me and that's saying something) and made out of the densest substance known to man, like cold, hard mashed potato.
  • Egg cream - my adventures with egg cream were more successful. A blend of ice cold (almost frozen) milk, seltzer water (is that the same as soda?) and syrup - no egg or cream - tastes like ice cream soda. Must be lovely in the summer. I got a chocolate one from the Gem Spa Newsstand on 2nd Avenue, which proudly proclaims to sell the best egg cream in New York. If you want to make your own here's the recipe.

The other thing I mean to try was canoli. Boxes of it are always being ferried about in The Sopranos, and it could be anything for all I know. Sweet, savoury - it's a mystery. So I found out it's a sort of cream cake, which I didn't really fancy. The mystery is solved though.

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