Londoners take note, a new plaque "in the memory of Heroic Self-Sacrifice" will be unveiled in Postman's Park on 3 June 09, Wednesday, between 12-4pm. It's organised by The Watts Gallery and there are more details on their excellent website.

I wrote about Postman's Park on Nothing To See Here when I visited last year (it's very writeable about) so won't go into details again. Suffice to say it has been the most popular NTSH article of all time - it catches a lot of people's imagination. It sounds like a really interesting afternoon so if any of you are going do tell all.

Text Island by Chris Gavin at Tandem Films is one of the best things I've seen in a long time. A short animated film made almost entirely with a pinboard and some old plastic letters, it's incredibly inventive. I love those old sign boards at the best of times, but this takes it to a new level (via Creative Review blog).

'Birdwatchers' at Cape Canaveral

I did a bit of work on another one of my other sites This is M. Sasek earlier this year. It had fallen into disrepair so I've cleaned it up and added a news blog and a Twitter feed. There’s still a bit of work to do but it’s definitely easier to follow.

There's already been a fair bit of action this year with This is Greece out in February and This is the Way to the Moon (which was This is Cape Canaveral originally, then This is Cape Kennedy) out on 1 June in the UK - a must for Cold War kids everywhere.

For anyone not familiar with M. (for Miroslav) Sasek there's a lot more detail on the website. If you haven’t seen the This is... books it’s worth seeking them out. There are 18 in the series and they're all delightful in one way or another. Sasek's style has been hugely influential and he's often namechecked by big names in illustration and animation. It's easy to spot echoes of his work all over the place which makes his books feel classic rather than dated.

Update: buying the books

In case it's not obvious there are links to Amazon US and UK on the page for each title. Alternatively, the This is M. Sasek US and the UK bookstores have all the books for sale under one roof. They're also for sale in a lot of good book shops but I'm not sure how many places carry the whole range. Amazon usually do good deals if you buy a few titles together.

This way to the sound mirrors

Yes, day 5 has a part 3. After leaving Dungeness in the fading light I subjected my family to a long and involved search for the famous sound mirrors or "listening ears" at Denge. Built in the 1920s they were early experiments in radar.

Access to them is now completely closed off, except by guided walk organised by the Romney Marsh Countryside Project. I'd contacted them to see if there was any way of arranging something, but the short answer was no. The land they sit on has been turned into an island and stabilised to protect the structures, but I figured there might be a point somewhere with a decent view.

Considering that they're pretty huge (the large one is 200 feet across) they're remarkably elusive and we couldn't figure out where they actually were. I'm sure there are some holes in the space-time continuum around that area, and it seemed like they kept appearing and disappearing. So we drove up every street in New Romney and then after a long crunch over the shingle this is as close as I could get.

The sound mirrors at Denge

If you fancy getting closer the next walk is on 19 July. And that's it for day 5, promise.

I like Coraline

I took the boys to see Coraline the other week and we all loved it. I didn't know much about it to be honest, apart from Tim Burton being involved, so when I saw Tadahiro Uesugi's name go up at the start it was quite exciting. I've been a fan of his illustration for a long time, and the characters that he designed are magnificent. The whole film looks amazing, it's got a great story (from Neil Gaiman's book), some brilliant stop-motion animation (by LAIKA) and any film with that many Scottie dogs in it is a hit in my book.

Even thought it's quite dark and a bit scary, it didn't seem to bother either of the kids, even Danny who is only 3. I can't remember the last film I went to where everyone in the cinema was so quiet. They were totally engrossed. The Coraline website has some nice bits and pieces on it - you can even get words of your choice spelt out by Mr Bobinsky's Mice Circus. Anyway, highly recommended for young and old.

Tunnock's Teacake bag from Gillian Kyle

I like this Tunnock's Teacake Shopper from Gillian Kyle, a textile designer from Glasgow who has a great range of products based on typical Scottish foods (and Scottie dogs). Also available as an apron.

Dungeness shack and lighthouse

[Following on from part 1] Oh Dungeness. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. With a motley selection of shacks, cold war era military buildings and lighthouses watched over by a nuclear power station, it's like a child has shaken up a bag of toy buildings and tipped them out in this unlikely spot.

Prospect Cottage, Dungeness

It was lovely to chug into it, past Derek Jarman's Prospect Cottage on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway, an unexpected sight in an area already crammed full of the incongruous.

Simon Conder House, Dungeness

It hasn’t changed much in ten years, apart from the addition of two rather nifty modern houses by Simon Conder. The first, near the power station is fascinating. Conder stripped back an original shack to its shell, which in this case was a railway carriage. This was retained as a kitchen corridor and a modern house built around it. There are some interior photos and an interview over at Gabion. It must be very odd living here. Beautiful at times but also very exposed. I was careful to make sure the house was empty before taking photos, but it’s on the beachfront (as it were) so there’s nothing to stop people gawping in your window.

Simon Conder Rubber House, Dungeness

Further along, near Prospect Cottage is another Conder development, clad in black rubber. The Airstream caravan provides temporary accommodation for guests.

For an area where there is almost literally, nothing to see, we had a great time. The kids played about on the beach while I sat and enjoyed the view. More photos at Urban 75 and in the Dungeness Flickr pool

I’m in Newcastle and Gateshead for the Thinking Digital conference which starts tomorrow. It’s been pretty much a perfect day. The weather was fantastic, the city is beautiful and I can’t remember being anywhere else where the people are so friendly.

Some of today's photos:

Grainger Market Weigh House

Newcastle Civic Centre

Millennium Bridge open

Trinity Car Park, Gateshead

Onwards and Upwards

If you're at the conference do come and say hello.

The Ossuary at Hythe

Back to The Great British Holiday 9. First things first. I had an appointment at St Leonard's Church in Hythe, to check out its ossuary - one of only two in the UK. Funnily enough no one wanted to come with me, so I had a personal tour from one of the charming men who look after the church. It's an incredible place. Very striking, with over 2,000 skulls and 8,000 bones.*


We hung about in Hythe for a while, having a picnic by the canal. It was so pretty and there was a Waitrose, which is very exotic for us. Then we went to Folkestone as my AA illustrated guide to Britain said that it was "One of the most lovable of Britain's seaside resorts, and one of the prettiest". Was it heck as like. I don't know if we just went to the wrong bit or what, but Folkestone was a bit grim. Perhaps it was in better shape in 1983 when the book was printed.

The beach was dirty and featureless. Just miles and miles of shingle. We walked along, thinking there might be some action out of sight, just round that corner there but there wasn't. Only a sign explaining that there used to be a lot of things but they were all gone.

So we traipsed back to the cliff lift which was shut, then back again to get back up the hill to the car. At least we found an unexpected playpark which the kids enjoyed, and the Zig Zag Path where I learnt about Pulhamite, an artificial sandstone used to create grottoes and rock gardens around the turn of the century.


We'd wasted half the day trying to get to the bottom of Folkestone, so had a bit of a rush to make the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. When it opened in 1927 it was the world's smallest public railway. It now runs 13 miles from Hythe to Dungeness. It's incredibly dinky - just big enough to sit in and no more.

We rode to New Romney which is the main terminus and admired the extensive model railway before carrying on to Dungeness, which is so photogenic it deserves its own entry.

*Some of this will appear more fully Nothing To See Here. There was a lot to take in this day, so the notes are a bit short.


Okay, the I like greetings cards are here. Yay.

There are four designs printed on recycled card, supplied with a classy white envelope. As I've got a bit of work to do getting samples out to shops and thinking about where else to put them (Etsy/Folksy/Coriandr?) I'm just selling them in packs of 4 for now. They cost £8 including postage and packaging, £8.50 for Europe and £9 for the US of A.

I'm keen to see how these go. It's been really interesting doing the postcards and getting a peek into the world of craft. I've learnt a lot and am still learning as I go. Quite a few people have asked if they're easy to do. The short answer is yes and no, so I'll write more about that another day.

I am grateful as always to davidthedesigner for putting the artwork together, and to anyone who buys some. If there are any nice shop/gallery owners/journalists/design bloggers reading this, please get in touch if you'd like to see samples.

Update: Individual cards now for sale on Folksy.

Nice to see you Ink Posters print

Ink Posters is a collaboration between British designers Joff and Ollie and Zoot. They've got some lovely designs - very simple, but stylish and colourful. My favourite is the British comedy-inspired Nice To See You print above. Numbers are limited, so get in quick.

Hastings red shelter

Regular readers will know that I'm slightly obsessed by seaside shelters. I like the way they typify the character of a seaside resort. By checking out the local ones you can tell when a resort had its heyday and how popular it was. A big one is the mark of true popularity, but a little one is just as special.

Hastings white shelter

So, I can report that Hastings scores highly on the seaside shelter front. These lovelies were the product of Sidney Little, "The Concrete King" who was responsible for turning Hastings and St Leonards into a Modern town in the 1930s.

Another Hastings shelter

Artist Andy Tuohy has some lovely prints of these shelters, available on his website.

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