Corfe Castle Model Village

I was thinking about having a Miniature Week as I've got a pile of things that are smaller than actual size to write about. But I don't know if I can string it out for a week, so here's one of them - Corfe Castle Model Village, which we visited on our recent trip to Dorset.

I am mildly obsessed with model villages. I don't think there are any in Scotland (are there?) so I remember a childhood trip to Bekonscot as incredibly exotic. On our road trips over the last few years I always look out for model villages but we've missed more than we've found. They always seem to be really badly signposted. So I've vowed to write up every one I can find for Nothing To See Here. So far there's only Blackpool and Corfe Castle, but hopefully the next trip south will yield a couple more.

If anyone else wants to join in and write one up, please do. It's interesting that the wikipedia entry for model villages concentrates on the other kind, the ideal community sort. Instead there's a fairly comprehensive list under miniature parks. The Model Villages Flickr pool also has some gems, national and international. See the International Association of Miniature Parks for the industry view. I bet their conferences are FUN.

I'm getting nowhere fast this week. Got a lot of work on, and housework after that's done, and I've hurt my arm from too much computering so need to go and do something more boring instead. In the absence of anything new here might I recommend the following blogs:

There seems to be a general blogging slowdown at the moment, but this lot are weathering the storm with a series of delightful things, just as it should be. Apart from that, I feel like I'm in an awful rut with my reading (well, a nice rut really, but still a rut) so if you can recommend anything that isn't on the blogroll that would be smashing.

Which blogs are tickling your collective fancies at the moment?

At the end of last year I was pretty skint and miserable determined to find a way of making my sites pay for themselves. I do them because I enjoy it, but I'm struggling in all sort of ways (mostly time and money) and would like to find a way of at least covering my hosting costs. I spent a while looking at the options: text links aren't for me; sponsorship (who? what? how?) and ended up going for the safe option of an Amazon bookshop with some of my favourite titles displayed on every page. If you buy something here I get a small percentage, so it all helps.

I've kept it to books and DVDs I actually own, or have read/watched, and genuinely recommend. And it's books that are in the spirit of I like, rather than every book I've ever read. It's split into different categories - Travel and seaside, Design and illustration, Classic cafes, shops and food, Children's books, DVDs and Fun/funny and will no doubt grow over time.

In compiling it all I noticed that Front Cover: Great Book Jacket and Cover Design by Alan Powers appears to be out of print and is well worth snapping up. His companion volume on Children's Book Covers is also very good.

If you read this through RSS it won't trouble you at all and if you don't, I hope it's not too intrusive. Let's see how it goes.

Jim Jarmusch's golden rules #2

One of Jim Jarmusch's golden rules, as presented by Mark Malazarte. I agree wholeheartedly (via Ace Jet 170).

Boat race by Tom Eckersley

Well, Bookcamp-stroke-Papercamp was a blast. I'll write something up as soon as I can think straight (may be some time). On Sunday, my esteemed colleague Lucy and I went to The Art of the Poster at London Transport Museum. It was small, but very good, with some beautiful work by Abram Games, Tom Eckersley, Edward McKnight Kauffer and many, many more. A lot of these posters are online (and available in their excellent shop) but the exhibition has some nice original artwork, and even better than that, photos of the artists working away in their dickie-bows.

The rest of the museum was pretty good too, although it does look like you can get most of it off their website. Like 100 years of the roundel. Anyway, it's on 'til the end of March if you fancy checking it out. And also in March, it's open day at Acton Depot which looks amazing. Anyone fancy writing this up for Nothing To See Here?

Beardy prints from Beard Revue

Calling all beard lovers. Beard Revue is one year old and to celebrate, Michael Buchino (chief beardy curator) has made a Milton Glaser-inspired print. I have to confess, I am not a regular reader but he sent me such a nice email I had to check it out. Plus I do like men with beards. Some of them, anyway. Not too long, or too well kept, but those in the middle. Oh yes.

For enthusiasts, there's an appreciation of Edward Gorey's beard, and elsewhere the top 10 awesomely-bearded songs (includes serious beardage). Let your freak flag fly!

Fire engine, Portmeirion

I was going to say something about Patrick McGoohan's passing, but all I can think about is Portmeirion. We went there in 2006 on our first Great British Holiday and it's stayed with me ever since. It looks great on screen, but is so much better in real life. I think, because The Prisoner is quite cool (I mean, cool in tone, sort of chilly) it hides some of the charm of Portmeirion. That's what hit me, all these wonderful little funny details. The door marked Fire Engine (above) is only about 3 feet high.

For the summer of 1959, in honour of its splendour

I loved it all, but my favourite thing was the inscription on the statue of Hercules, which features quite heavily in the series. The beautifully turned out plaque says "To the summer of 1959, in honour of its splendour". Then underneath, in the same ornate script "1971 Highly commended" and underneath that, "1975, excelled even 1959". Wonderful.

Anyway, there is a nice Patrick McGoohan tribute from Robin Llywelyn, managing director of Portmeirion and Clough Williams-Ellis's grandson:

There is no doubt that the Prisoner as we know it would not have been possible without the location. Clough admired and respected McGoohan for the way his series portrayed Portmeirion, especially from the air. However Clough was never quite sure what it was all supposed to mean. Typically of Clough, he never asked McGoohan for a location fee, and was very surprised to find it was an international sensation as soon as it came out.

Related: a new CBeebies programme called Captain Adorable was filmed there recently. I can't find any trace of this online, perhaps because the one episode I saw looked bloody awful, despite featuring master toddler-whisperer Justin Fletcher as a caped (but rubbish) superhero. It was shot in the style of Lazytown, really bright and dynamic, and Portmeirion looked amazing. Secondly: Philip at English Buildings posted an interesting thing yesterday, about some Williams-Ellis buildings in Cornwell, Oxfordshire. Must add that to the list.

Be seeing you.

A felt penguin, by Lupin

There's a lot of talk about paper at the moment. It's the new technology, or summat. So, I'm very excited to be going to bookcamp this weekend. It's an event organised by Penguin (and James and Russell) to look at the future of the book, publishing, reading and anything else in that sort of bookish arena. Papercamp is going to be running alongside, for discussions and creations of a papery nature. The agendas for both are shaping up nicely.

It's full up now so I'm not here to gloat, just to say that I'm going and that if you're going too it would be nice to meet you. I haven't been to a -camp before (except a holiday camp, har har) so amn't quite sure what to expect. But I expect it will be good.

Bespoke Penguin by Lupin. Sadly not available in bookshops.


Photographic cataloguing of Britain's seaside continues in the Beside the Seaside Flickr pool, which I'm minding for the National Maritime Museum while their Beside the Seaside exhibition is on. There is some lovely stuff in there, like Vacancies by a free hour, above. Various Christmas and New Year swims (including a special Oliver Postgate tribute) have provided some really great shots, and who knew that the sea would freeze. I thought it would be quiet at the seaside in winter, but it's anything but. Everyone welcome, so dive in!

Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet 2008

I was delighted to get Things Our Friends Have Written On The Internet in the post this morning. Ben and Russell have printed off bits of the internet and turned it into a beautiful newspaper. It's such a smart idea. Totally simple but shocking in a way. The web in print.

It's a great read. Even though I've read most of the pieces before (because they're from blogs I like) it felt like reading the most interesting magazine ever. It's got a lovely tone - smart, considered, quirky, intelligent, and it looks beautiful. I'm biased of course because I'm in it, which made me very proud. The Bakelite Museum takes up half the back page.

The Bakelite Museum in print

It gave me a bit of a scare seeing my words in print. Funny how it seems much more permanent. Which is weird because which is more permanent (or less impermanent) now - print or online. They both spread and degrade in different ways. That's what I like about this - it's different. Makes you think. Anyway, Beekr has more detail, Ben has photos of it being made. I'm not going to say any more because you should really see it in the flesh, as it were. If you want one contact Ben at the intriguingly titled Really Interesting Group. There are only 1000 so get in quick.

Credit crunch cross stitch

I like this. Credit crunch cross stitch by Lupin for Folksy's Make the News competition. More of this sort of thing in Flickr pools Make the News and Credit Crunch Graphics.

Tweecret Santa package

Well, Tweecret Santa seemed to work. 56 trusting souls from the UK, US, Canada and Romania signed up and sent a gift costing £10 to someone they didn't know, or didn't let on that they knew anyway. So far 32 of the presents have been accounted for and you can see the results in the Tweecret Santa Flickr pool. There's some mighty fine stuff in there - a Japanese lucky owl, a beautiful felt bag, a very cool robot kit, library book stickers and a Mr T tea towel, a lovely badger print and a duct tape purse.

I'm just about to go through through the list and make sure everyone got a present so if you got one and haven't posted it to the pool yet, please let me know. For those inevitably lost in the post, I'll try to sort something out with the gift-giver. Thanks to everyone who took part. I enjoyed seeing all the lovely things trickling in and the work that some people put into their gifts was truly awesome. Who's up for it next year?

My coping strategy for returning work tomorrow is to listen to Matt Monro's We're Gonna Change the World (mp3) full bung on the short, yet depressing walk between the daydreamy cocoon of the train and the stark reality of the office*. And to keep listening until I believe that glorious, people-powered change is possible. Every I time hear this it puts a spring in my step because the tune is so jolly and the lyrics are so bizarre. It's a good tune to start a new year.

And here's 2007's new year tune. There wasn't one for 2008. Very remiss of me. That's probably why it wasn't a great year. It didn't have an anthem.

* Songs 1, 2, 3 and 7 of my most listened to songs are the ones deployed on this journey. Those and The Man Don't Give A F*ck by the Super Furry Animals.

Envelope angels - reuse envelopes in style

I had a happy moment this morning when I remembered that I'd forgotten to open my Secret Santa present from work. And an even happier moment when I dug it out of its hiding place and opened it to find these Envelope Angels. In case it's not obvious, they're labels you stick over the address on a used envelope to make it shiny enough to use again. They come in two models, original angelic and London Underground issue (above). They're really nicely designed - the box acts as a dispenser which you can refill, and Blue Marmalade, the people who make them are so nice they'll even recycle the plastic stickerbacks for you.

It's only a little thing but it's possibly THEE most appropriate gift as I'd been looking for something like this lately and couldn't find it. And I'm a bit obsessive about recycling, but I've never told anyone at work that. They must have known by the state of my desk or something. So thank you Secret Santa.

Recommended reading