New motorhome

Wow, the holidays have flown in and it's a new year already.

If it's anything like 2010, 2011 should be amazing. Last year, I left a full-time job at Learning and Teaching Scotland to join Folksy and Newspaper Club, bought a motorhome, went to lots of lovely new places like Orkney and West Wales and saw my youngest son start school. It was a big year.

I was rubbish at blogging though. Despite having more time it still felt pretty busy. It's taken the best part of 9 months to get into a rhythm of working at home and the new year comes just as it all falls into place. It feels good to be marking the transition from one year to the next and starting afresh.

After leaving Folksy in November I'm looking forward to concentrating on Newspaper Club and finishing off the Nothing To See Here book which is due out in May. I'd also like to see a kingfisher and a woodpecker this year (not necessarily at the same time) and maybe go to New York.

The photo above shows the ceramic motorhome by Paige Russell (via Hannah Zakari) which my lovely Newspaper Club colleagues got me for Christmas. It sits on my shelf as a reminder of all the adventures yet to come.

Happy New Year.

Snow

It's been pretty snowy here (this photo is from last week, there's less snow now) and everything feels super-Christmassy. I've got my laptop and camera back in action but not in time to blog all those lovely things that would have made great presents. No matter though, there's a whole new year coming up for that sort of thing.

Until then, have a lovely Christmas wherever you are.

Woodland Necklace by Little Peche

I like is 8 this month. Eight! Imagine. That's a long time in blog years.

It's only a little thing but it has been the source of great happiness over the years - it has made an incredible difference to my life in the best way.

It's also a nice excuse for a present to myself - this brilliant Woodland Necklace made by Little Peche on Folksy.

Thank you for reading (especially the regulars who have stuck with it over the years).

Slow graffiti

Slow, innit, round these parts. I lost my blogging mojo but I think it's coming back. Hope so anyway.

How are you all? Having a nice summer? Bit wet up here but that's nothing new.

FLASH! - ah hah - Highest village in Britain

On holiday in Derbyshire. Back soon.

In and out

I’m writing this in my second week as a fully self-employed person. How exciting.

I said goodbye to Learning and Teaching Scotland (who gave me a lovely send-off) at the end of February and am now a freelance website manager.

I’m staying on at Folksy and was down in Sheffield last week for a couple of days talking and planning. Lots of interesting work ahead. I’ve got some other work lined up, all very exciting and to be explained later. This is all quite flexible so I’m also looking for other opportunities and generally trying to find my feet in the world of self-employment. So if anyone needs anything done, or just wants to have a chat please get in touch. This is all new to me so I'd be really glad to hook up with other freelancers, even if it’s just to share experiences about how you manage your time etc.

I haven’t really felt like blogging much lately as I was juggling so many different things but life is starting to feel normal again for the first time in months.

Avanti!

Northwards

It's holiday time again in the I like household. Back in a week or so. Happy holidays to the rest of you, whenever they come.

My earliest memory

My earliest memory is looking up at these horse chestnut trees on Prince Albert Road in Dowanhill (in Glasgow's leafy West End). We lived in a flat on Hyndland Road so used to pass this way going to Byres Road. Who knows why it's stuck in my head but my mind wanders back to it fairly regularly, like a mental screensaver. The thing that makes me think it's my earliest memory is that I was being wheeled along. I vividly remember looking straight up and watching the leaves roll past.

I hardly ever go there now but was there last week so stopped and looked again. I thought something magical might happen but I nope, they're just trees. What a strange picture to have stuck in my mind.

What's yours?

Dungeness

I can't believe the holidays are over already. We had a great time down south, did a million things and now my head is spinning trying to get back to normality (and work) tomorrow. So, not much to say at the moment except commiserations to all those in the same boat.

Normal service will be resumed shortly.

mini-albion-cook.jpg

So, the Cook v Crowle All-UK layer tennis final was a blast. I'm glad I was officially on the fence, because I couldn't pick a winner out of these two. God bless them, they took it very seriously, rigging up their studio with painted desks and a net. After that the pressure was on for 10 quick-fire rounds. There was smoke coming out of my fingers as I tried to keep up and I wasn't even doing the hard part.

It was a great match. I really enjoyed watching it live, seeing the narrative unfold, and checking out the crowd's reaction (this is a great use of Twitter; now I get it with hashtags). Well, Britannia rules the waves and boy, were the rules waived as we went from a an idyllic island (above) through air pirates, sea beasties and knob gags to a triumphant ending.

The commentary was one of the trickiest things I've had to do - 5-10 minutes to write something witty that did the pictures justice was tough, but it was great to be caught up in the heat of it all. You can judge the winner for yourself on the Layer Tennis site. Thanks to Rex and Cookie for such a great game, and the folks at Coudal for asking me along.

Crowle v Cook: Layer Tennis

How tickled I am to be commentating on this week's All-UK Layer Tennis Match. For the uninitiated, Layer Tennis is a match between two designers, where they swap a photoshop file back and forth in a series of "volleys", building on it each time. They have 15 minutes to take their shot and after 10 rounds the spectators decide the winner. It is masterminded by those lovely Coudal people and a guest commentator (that would be me) provides a running commentary.

The delightful thing about tomorrow's comp is it's Simon "Cookie" Cook of the superb Made in England, versus the mighty Rex "Rexbox" Crowle. The briefest glance at their websites will give you an idea of the calibre of this game. Let's hope the excitement doesn't impair my speed typing.

It starts at 4pm BST tomorrow, so it's an early start for American viewers. But am or pm, it's going to be a blast. Do tune in if you can. Also available on Twitter.

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.

Auld Lang Syne

Well, it's that time of year again. Out with the old, in with the new. I've seen a few people listing their resolutions (all good ones) so thought if I do mine I might stick to them this year. I do feel like something needs to change.

  1. Cook more. Cook better. Eat less. Eat better
  2. Go swimming at least once a week. Go for a walk at lunchtime
  3. Stop giving myself a hard time about everything. Do something about it instead
  4. Do something else/more with my postcards
  5. Turn I like and Nothing To See Here into the sites they really could be
  6. Get more freelance work (all offers gratefully received)
  7. Make more/owe less money
  8. Get a book published
  9. Seriously chuck out all the crap I have lying around
  10. Always have good shoes and a good haircut

Some will be easier than others but I'll try them all. All the best for you and yours. Have a great 2009!

Introduction: Timeline

2008 has been a funny old year for me. Nothing really bad happened, nothing really good happened. Nothing major changed: same house, same job, same number of kids. No one close to me was born or died (obviously people were born and died, but I didn't know them). So I feel a bit flat, having a year that I'm not going to remember for anything in particular. I've resolved to make 2009 amazing though, and am formulating plans to grab it by the scruff of the neck and shake it 'til something good falls out.

Anyway, there's always I like, which is a pleasure. That's a good thing about a blog - once I started looking back through the archives it seemed like a good year after all. They're all good years, really. I haven't had as much time as I'd like to write it so will cram some things into what's left of 2008.

I like in the Guardian guide

I like got a nice wee mention in the Guardian guide yesterday, on the subject of craft blogs. Thanks Johnny!

Paper Forest was in there too. It's a great blog about paper toys and if you haven't seen it before cop a load of this.


Urban Paper the Movie from Studio N8 on Vimeo.

6, by Ben Terrett

Now that October's here it means I have well and truly failed to mark I like's 6th birthday which was sometime in September. Every year I promise myself a bit of a sabbatical, changing tack for a while to talk more about why I do it, what I've learnt, where I think it's going. All a bit more meaty than the seaside and bubble cars. But then I think a lot of you are probably here for the seaside and bubble cars, not to hear my inner thoughts and there's the eternal conundrum. I worry so much about becoming this awful self-obsessed braying creature, the sort of hideous caricature than hangs over most self-respecting blogger, that I don't write any of it.

What I've done this year at least is rewrite the about page and hope it gives a bit more detail without making me sound like an arse. If you want to know all the details about how I like started they're there. And I've cleaned up the archives, so if you're coming here for the first time, or you come here often and have forgotten the best bits, here's a list of everything there's ever been.

And the main thing I want to do, like every birthday is say thank you. Thank you for being here and reading this. It's going to sound cheesy but I like has been a fantastic source of serendipity and pleasure over the past 6 years. When I started it I expected nothing so to have people, smart people at that, visiting, commenting and generally enjoying themselves rocks my world. A lot of people still think blogs are a bit risky, but in six years I've never had a cross word. What a way to keep your faith in human nature intact. So thank you all and here's to many more (and thanks to Ben for the photo).

Urgent messages

It's a funny thing, but every Thursday I go into some sort of blogging meltdown and think I'll never post again. Every Thursday. Then by Friday it's fine. Saturday I'm full of vim and vigour. Sunday is the most productive day of the week. Then Monday the decline starts again until it reaches its nadir on Thursdays. The readerships runs opposite to this, peaking towards the end of the week. Down at weekends. Oh, the pressure. So I just thought I'd mention it for once, instead of sitting at home fretting and also to squeeze some kind of post out on Thursdays. Just so you know, it's hard work sometimes. Not just dripping off the tongue. Blood, sweat and tears, it is.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of speaking at the Glasgow School of Art 2nd year study day. I was surprised and delighted to be asked to do it last year, and even more surprised to be invited back. In some ways the Art School is the last place I expect to feel welcome as so many of the things I hold dear are well outside the traditional boundaries of "proper" art and design. But that's why I got the gig. The theme for the day was "Dynamic Glasgow" so I tried to focus on what you can learn from wandering around Glasgow and the rest of Scotland.

This is more or less what I was saying, with links to more information. The photos are all on Flickr.

It's tricky to organise all these random thoughts into a vaguely linear sequence and make some salient points but hopefully there was something useful in there. It was a great day out for me as I got to hear some of the other speakers and there was a lot to think about. Thanks to everyone who came to listen, and to Bruce and Patsy for looking after me so well.

Sorry, we are closed

Just a quick note to say:

  • Thanks to all of you who suggested places to go in the south-west. They sounds brilliant and I'm really excited about going away. The chip debate was also very entertaining so thanks again for all the comments. That's what makes doing this really good fun.
  • Sorry to anyone who has sent me an email recently and not got a response. All my email got eaten a couple of months ago (wiping a few things I was about to mention or reply to, so do resend if you're waiting for an answer). Since then I've been surviving on crappy webmail and just not keeping on top of it. I really appreciate it when people send me email, and it's not like I'm inundated so I just want to apologise and say I'll get round to replying, honestly.
  • Goodbye. Off on holiday now. No internet. Back in a week or so.

The Links

I got an enquiry from a reader a while ago (hello Geoff) asking if there was a feed for the Quick ones on the right there. These links were separated out in the new design so aren't included in the main rss feed. I replied that indeed there was but failed to notice that the reply was caught in my spam filter. Ouch. Sorry Geoff. So for anyone who's interested in this linky goodness I've added buttons for the whole lot, or the rss feed or to add me to your del.icio.us network. Do add me if you feel that way inclined.

Secondly, I finally joined twitter. For a long time I couldn't find a need for it. Still can't in fact, but I enjoy reading the twittering of friends. If anyone would like to join me for a bit of web 2.0 please do.

Charlie tagged me with the 4x4 meme so here goes.

4 jobs I've had

Waitress - I worked in cafe for a year in between doing a degree and a postgrad. The family that owned it were quite eccentric and ran it more as a hobby than a business so everyday was an adventure. There was definitely a novel in there somewhere. It was never too busy and there were lots of regulars so I spent most of the day cooking and chatting to people. Probably my favourite job ever. It was completely stress-free. Even now in a coffee shop I want to jump behind the counter and froth the milk.

Dole clerk - And my least favourite, working in the DHSS for 3 weeks. I was signing on during the summer as a student (when you could still do that) and they said "we've got a job here" so I could hardly say no. It was really miserable, not because of the jobseekers who were fine, but because of the little Hitlers running the place. I was glad to get out after 3 weeks.

Librarian - This covers about 10 years of work, which I really enjoyed for the most part. As a bookish, indie-loving teenager I felt that I'd found my calling. I started as a library assistant (moving around different libraries over the summer) and decided that was what I wanted to do with my life. Studied librarianship, got a job as a cataloguer and spent the next few years classifying and indexing books in a university library. I loved looking at books all day and enjoyed helping people to find things. It started to go a bit pear-shaped when there was a crisis of confidence and library became a dirty word. It was all learning centres and information centres. That drove me mad so I became a...

Web manager - Which is what I do now. It's the sort of non-exciting relative of web developers and web designers. I have to manage the editors, figure out where the website should be going, make sure it's maintained and meets various standards, teach people how to write for the web and generally just make sure the customers are getting what they need. Try as I might I can't make it sound exciting but still it's the right job for me at the moment except when I find myself wishing I was back in the cafe.

4 shows I never miss

It's quite hard to find 4 but at the moment - Harry Hill's TV Burp, Skins, Hotel Babylon, That Mitchell and Webb Experience.

4 places I've been

I've been to lots of places but these are the 4 I'd most like to go back to:

Malta - We had our first family holiday here when Tommy was a baby. I love islands and Malta is tiny so it's easy to see all of it. It's nice and quiet and full of beautiful buildings. Whenever we can afford a foreign holiday we're going back.

Dunedin, New Zealand - I had a sort of epiphany in Dunedin. I'd travelled half-way round the world because I liked Flying Nun and got there near the end of a long trip backpacking down from Auckland. I was on my own, a not-very-brave 26 year old and I felt proud and relieved to be there. As it's modelled on Edinburgh and has lots of Scottish connections I felt at home.

New York, New York - New York had a big effect on me when I went last year. At the time I felt a bit sad, as I'd missed it at its best but it's been a slow burner. So many times I wish I was back there, just wandering around Manhattan. Next time I'll go to Coney Island too.

The East Neuk of Fife - Quite possibly my favourite place ever and the only one of the four I've got much chance of getting back to anytime soon. The East Neuk is so close to home and yet so foreign. The architecture is totally distinctive - more Scandinavian than Scottish, and there's nothing much to do but you can spend hours wandering around harbours and eating chips. I'd like to retire there and have a little house by the sea with a boat in the window.

4 music artists I'm listening to

I'm really rubbish at listening to new bands, relying on the radio to tell me what to pay attention to. So nothing new I'm afraid but I listen to these a lot:

  • Belle & Sebastian - I never tire of them.
  • The Smiths - the band that means most to me. I listened to them every day at school, then not for years after Morrissey went solo. I'm now enjoying their later albums (Strangeways era) which I didn't rate much at the time.
  • The Association - 60s sunshine pop from California. I really, really love harmonies. Their career travelled the same sort of trajectory as The Byrds going through folk, pop, psychedelia and country rock so there's a lot to enjoy.
  • LCD Soundsystem - the one new album I have bought recently (and that was a while ago). I love listening to Sound of Silver when I'm out and about. It's uplifting and quite tender at the same time.

4 people to pass it on to

Wil, Craig, Ally, Richard (sorry if any of you hate these things but I'd like to hear more about you).

Just a little note, particularly for anyone reading this via RSS. When I redesigned the home page I added a little column for "Quick ones"- interesting sites that I add to my del.icio.us. I thought these would be posted to the RSS feed once a day but they aren't. I was going to try and fix that but then decided I like it that way. It means if you take the effort to look at the (now 20% lovelier) site you get a little extra. There are more links, more photos and more comments. So I'm just saying that if you're reading the feed and think it's gone a bit quiet, it hasn't. C'mon over!

Vintage LOT label

How tickled I am to be guest editor on Coudal Partner's excellent Fresh Signals. I'm a long-time admirer of their work so it's a real honour to get the keys to the door. I've been trawling through the I like archives looking for forgotten gems. The first is Aerolot, a fansite for LOT Polish Airlines which is full of beautifully designed vintage airline ephemera. More to come at Coudal throughout the month.

After rounding up 2006 in photos here's 2007. This time of year always makes me a bit mopey, getting bogged down in whatever hasn't gone well, but looking through the pictures makes me realise what a good year it's been.

Glasgow Transport Museum

January was pretty quiet. We spent a lot of the year in museums - somewhere warm, entertaining and free to keep the whole family amused. Glasgow's Transport Museum is always a pleasure. I hope the new Zaha Hadid-designed Riverside Museum has the atmosphere of this place.

The Reclining Buddha, Bangkok

February - Bangkok for work, which was magnificent. Everything about it was really exciting.

St. Joseph, Carfin Grotto

March - Random visits to Carfin Grotto (a sort of mini Scottish Lourdes), Stirling for a Lindsay Anderson exhibition, Galloway for a family visit and London for work.

Lions

April - first holiday of the year to the Lake District. Staying away from the touristy bits and wandering round the edges, going to Ulverston, Barrow-in-Furness and up the coast to Whitehaven and beyond. I also went to South Africa for work which almost killed my love of international travel.

Ukrainian Chapel, Hallmuir

May - The Ukrainian Chapel at Hallmuir near Lockerbie. Lovely.

The Big Clock, Cumbernauld

June - A wee trip to Cumbernauld. Good to see the big clock from Gregory's Girl is still in action. Then a big trip to London to speak at Interesting2007 which was scary but fun.

Douglas

July - A trip on the Leadhills & Wanlockhead District Railway, and a vist to the National Railway Exhibition in Bo'ness. Then our big holiday in Norfolk via Harrogate. Leeds, Nottingham and Manchester. We got there in between two bouts of serious flooding but managed lots of sun, sea and sand in between downpours.

Easterton Service Station, Denny

August - Some great trips to Perthshire and Stirling. This lovely little art deco garage near Denny was a great find.

Aberdeen sand

September - Time for one last fling to Aberdeen as I finished work at DFID. During the year I took pictures of all the beaches we went to. Aberdeen definitely has the best sand. So soft it's like velvet.

October - No photos, which is weird. I started work at Learning and Teaching Scotland so was probably too preoccupied getting into a new routine.

Gym

November - Stayed in Glasgow. Went to the Radiance Festival. Found this great sign up a back street. So simple but so effective.

Duncanrig High School, East Kilbride

December - Went to Edinburgh to see the Sir Basil Spence exhibition which was magnificent. Then followed that up with a trip to East Kilbride to see Duncanrig High School which he designed as the first school there in 1958. It's going to be demolished in the new year so catch it while you can.

So all in all it's been another interesting year, full of surprises in one way and another. Thanks to everyone for reading, writing, and commenting. I hope 2008 is just as inspirational.

i-like-beta.jpg

I've been working on a new design for a while now, and am at the stage where I need a second opinion. So, in the manner of the BBC here's the new I like beta home page. It's been redesigned for a few reasons:

  • I wanted somewhere to put the del.icio.us links that wasn't in the main part of the page.
  • A third column would come in handy.
  • I've lost the copy of the old font I used for the headings so have gone for my new favourite, Clarendon.
  • It was generally looking a bit tired after all these years.

Although I work with websites all day I don't usually design them. Poking about with CSS is fun for a while but ultimately not my forte. So I'd be really glad of comments, particularly from those of you with non-1024 screen resolutions*. It only goes as far as the home page at the moment but I'll do the rest once it's been road-tested for a wee while. All comments gratefully received - if you can't be kind be constructive.

*Technical details: It's a fluid 3-column layout. Not sure if this is the right way to go. Let the audience decide.

Here's a curious thing. Look at this picture (via Coudal) and see which way the dancer is rotating. Clockwise means you're right brain dominated (feeling, "big picture", imagination), anti-clockwise is left brain (logic, detail, facts). I clearly see the dancer spinning clockwise so I'm more right-brained, which probably figures as I'm left-handed. I'd be very interested to know if I like's readership is particularly right-brained or left-brained. What do you see?

Update [Saturday morning]: It's split about 50:50 between clockwise and anti-clockwise with lots of people seeing her change direction. Even though people have explained how to do that I still can't see her going anything but clockwise. Lots of right-handed see her clockwise although no lefties owned up to seeing her anti-clockwise. ManxStef pointed it out on Boing Boing where there are other explanations, and suggestions that it's a straight optical illusion. Maybe so. I never could get those Magic Eye pictures either.

5

I like is 5 years old this week. It's been a big year - the year I came out in some ways, speaking at Glasgow School of Art and interesting2007, getting interviewed for The Herald, making postcards. I guess everyone has different reasons for blogging (and not blogging). I still feel like I stumbled into it, looking for a place to think out loud and never expecting to find so many interesting people doing likewise. To see the lines between the online and offline worlds blurring is an unexpected pleasure.

Since that flurry of activity in the summer various technical problems have dampened my ardour so I feel a bit detached. I think the direction of I like has changed a bit this year as I'm not interested in much beyond family life, offbeat travel and a small circle of other websites. I'm spending more time outside and less time online. I consume less, mostly because I've been really skint so there are fewer links about things that cost money. Apart from that it's still the same site as it was 5 years ago. With every year I lose some readers and gain others but I try to fill a space on the internet with things that don't get the attention they deserve. Luckily there seems to be no end of them.

A big, big thanks to all of you who read, comment, email and generally support I like. That's what keeps it going. Someone said a lovely thing, that it's "like a butterfly in other people's gardens". If that's how all this comes across it's a great reason to keep going. Here's to another year.

It's one of those weeks where nothing is working. There seem to be more and more weeks like that. All the electrical appliances in the house are staging a mutiny, particularly the computers so I'm giving this up until it's sorted out.

I've got lots of email to reply to. Sorry. I'll get round to it when things are back to normal.

Herald interview

Yesterday's Herald article is now up on Flickr (my scanner hasn't worked in ages so photos have to do - bit blurry but still legible). Turned out well, I think. It's a bit about I like and Nothing To See Here and a bit about me. For the curious, it does actually say what I do for a living. Sadly Occupation: Blogger isn't totally true.

The photo was taken in the window of the Val D'Oro which is one of Glasgow's oldest cafes. The signage is partcularly fine. More photos here. Thanks to Teddy Jamieson at The Herald for asking me in the first place, and to Simon Murphy for taking such nice pictures.

If everything goes to plan there will be a short interview with me in this Saturday's (Glasgow) Herald, in the Lifelines section of the magazine. It's all a bit scary, but exciting too. The Herald doesn't put everything online but I'll post it up somehow. I'm always a bit loathe to talk about I like here - blogging about blogging isn't a great spectator sport, but it's been good to think about what I do and why I do it for this interview which happened around the same time as interesting2007 and the talk at Glasgow School of Art. Everything has felt oddly quiet since.

Closing

On holiday now. Back soon.

I like postcards

OK, they're here. A set of 8 I like postcards all ready for interesting 2007. These wouldn't have happened without the help of davidthedesigner who offered to set out the artwork. And a sterling job he did too, as well as taking this nice photo of them. Thanks also to Gair and Marceline for suggesting local printers. James from Folksy is going to be selling them on Saturday and I'll work out next week how to distribute them to non-interesting people. Does anyone want a set?

Anything is hard to find when you will not open your eyes

A big thanks to everyone at Glasgow School of Art for making my talk yesterday such a pleasure, especially Dr. Bruce Peter and the others in the Dept of Historical & Critical Studies for inviting me in the first place. It went okay, I think. It was hard to talk for so long to people who are just sitting still, particularly when the Mackintosh lecture theatre (charming as it was) was so spectacularly uncomfortable. It was lovely to meet some of the students, albeit briefly, and I was really glad some found it interesting. I liked seeing what actually happens inside an art school. It's good to know that a lot of people, lecturers included, want to get a break from Baudrillard and Foucault and just appreciate stuff now and then.

So, if anyone is visiting for the first time because of it - I've put the photos I used in my presentation into a photo set on Flickr. There are some extras in there as I took quite a few out, but as they're in the same vein I left them in. They all have tags if you're wondering where anything is. That was the main theme of the talk - to get out and look around because small and/or commonplaces things can be beautifully designed and interesting too.

Other links & references: I also talked about This is M. Sasek (the children's travel books) and Nothing To See Here (alternative travel guide), John Hinde postcards and sweet wrappers. I showed some bits of other people's stuff namely some vintage matchbox covers, and Soviet bus stops. The little photo cards that went down a storm are made by Moo. If anyone wanted a badge and didn't get one let me know.

The last slide I had, of conclusions I came to at about 3am the night before the talk was that this is what I've learnt doing I like:

  • Everything is interesting
  • Everyone has a place
  • Do something YOU like
  • Find your own voice
  • Make something that you're happy with
  • Share it

That probably sounds a bit trite but it's worked for me and I'm constantly surprised how many people don't follow those rules. I really enjoyed talking about it so if anyone has questions or anything please get in touch.

No bums on seats

I've got a big couple of weeks coming up as I've been asked to speak at two events within a few days of each other. Nervewracking. On Thursday I'm going to be speaking at Glasgow School of Art's study day for second year students. It's a real honour to be asked as I wouldn't have put myself top of the list of people who could tell art students a thing or two, but I'll do my best.

If there's anyone reading this who's coming along is there anything you'd like to know? I feel a bit disadvantaged not knowing much about art but I suspect in this case my ignorance is my strength. I'm planning on talking about what I do, why I do it and what I've learnt along the way. That doesn't seem very earth-shattering but it's all I know. So, any questions shout them out. This will be an extended version of whatever I'm going to say at interesting2007 so requests from interesting delegates/anyone else also welcome. What do you think I can bring to the table?

It seems like all the electrical equipment in the I like household is staging a rebellion. First the Sky box, then the telly, now the computer. The part of this that may concern you is that I've lost my email. If you've sent me anything last week or before and haven't had a reply could you send it again? I can get new email now so we're on the road to recovery. There is something liberating about losing a large backlog of mail that I meant to reply to but deep down I know it's not right to feel that way. I also have no photos or Photoshop so am struggling to pretty up these pages. Normal service resumed as soon as possible.

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

Danny

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!

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.

When I started I like I made a policy decision not to write about things I don't like (which I've mostly stuck to). It's too easy to fall into the Mr(s) Angry trap and there's so much negative stuff around I didn't want to add to that. However, as it's I like's birthday month I thought I'd take a bit of time off and get all the things I don't like out of my system. Then we shall never speak of them again. There are things I'm sure that no one really likes (Jeremy Beadle sprang to mind) so I haven't included them but what really interests me are things that sit on the periphery of being liked, periodically knocking on the door trying to get in. Everyone must have their own - something that someone raves about that you feel you should like but just can't get into. The rest just get on my wick. As follows:

olives, aniseed, people who walk and read books at the same time, Nicolas Cage, Frank Skinner, The Libertines, conservatories, decking, personalised number plates, personification of fruit, potholing, Dairylea lunchables, embossed toilet roll, hydrangeas, pastel colours, The Impressionists, Belle de Jour, slugs, frogs, Jack Kerouac, Richard Brautigan, Sgt Pepper, paperback books that are just that bit too big, pierrots, Charlie Chaplin, cowboy boots, high heels, waiting, not knowing, hot weather, fig rolls, fly cemeteries, changing the duvet cover, going to bed early, stupid fancy sandwiches, things that aren't what they say they are, whingeing, Prada, Louise Vuitton, spin, legwarmers, ra-ra skirts, shirts tucked into trousers, trousers tucked into socks, novelty socks, novelty ties, socialising, rugby, rudeness, reggae, The Godfather, professional parents, working, running, vanilla, marzipan, Bulgaria, anything oversize, 4-wheel drives, 3 wheeled-prams, foldaway bicycles, Westerns, Radio 1, Radio 4, anything with aliens, anything with elves, Lord of the Rings, walnuts, biros, pointless cover versions, peacocks.

I came round to fig rolls during the plain biscuit renaissance in March. I wrote this about a year ago so would now add:

Malcolm Gladwell, Sarah Beeny, The Pipettes, Lost, most modern art, Is it Just Me Or Is Everything Shit? (and the general crapness agenda), this modern obsession with en suite bathrooms, what's happening to post offices, interactive museums, Leonard Cohen, yummy mummies, meanness, and hexagonal Smarties tubes.

I thought I would feel cleansed by this but don't really. I feel like Jimmy out of Reggie Perrin doing his Forces of Anarchy (wmv) speech.

I like is 4 this month. Don't know which date exactly, but it was September 2002 that I pushed the button and this website was born into the world. I remember the early days - a great feeling of terror, like I was exposing myself. Violent attacks of cringing which I still get today. You know how hard it is to hear yourself on tape, or watch yourself on film? That kind of feeling. But every year I feel a bit more comfortable with it.

In 4 years I've changed job, moved house, and had another baby but it doesn't feel like much has changed. Well, it has and it hasn't. I like was never supposed to be a blog. I didn't know what a blog was when it started. It was supposed to be like a sort of online junk shop. Something catches your eye, you stumble in and find this world of disconnected stuff. I guess that still stands. I meant to do more specials, but they take time. I'm ashamed that there are at least two that were reasons for doing the site in the first place (the UN Building and paperback covers) that 4 years later I still haven't finished. But that's one thing I like about doing this, it's more or less impossible to plan.

This year I've worked behind the scenes to make it easier to write - because you've got to have a system. Going bloggy in May was good. Then the del.icio.us links, which might not be very polished but they help me keep things going when otherwise there would be nothing for days. This year I've written some things that were hard to do. It might sound strange when there wasn't anything controversial or revealing but basically anything here that isn't a list of links is hard for me to write. I'm not a natural orator. When I thought about The Great British Holiday I argued with myself for days thinking no one would want to read it, but in the end writing it was really good fun, and it went down okay. So that's my one piece of advice to anyone starting a blog - write what you want to write. I should do that more often.

The main thing to say, as I blow out the candles on another cake, is thanks. Thanks to everyone who has visited, linked, commented, and emailed over the years. It makes this a really enjoyable thing to do and as long as I like writing it, I like will still be here.

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