Photo Diary

Foraging Outside, Underneath by daintydora

Outside, underneath, it's all going on.

Nests are being built, feathered, maintained. Snail trails appear on sun and frost-dappled flagstones. Leaves have grown, died, let go, blown away, blown back. Berries emerge in hedgerows to provide during the winter months. Hibernation is near, if not already here.

Sunlight through the leaves of the Acer tree

Spider web on leaves

Snail Trails

In my own garden I've laid everything to rest as we head into winter. The soil is turned and primed and planted with bulbs that will weather the storms deep down in the earth, ready to emerge green and vibrant in the spring.

My Dad helped me clear out leaves and weeds and trim edges and hedges, wipe down tools and stow them away.

Basket of gatherings

We collected so many leaves and twigs and branches that I decided to build up a stack of them to form a nest for hedgehogs. A shelter in the damp outdoors. I'm calling it 'Hedgehog Corner', and I'd love to have a hedgehog visit my garden!

Hedgehog Corner

Beautiful rose

Petals, dropped, discarded

The colours and the branches that we cut down were so vibrant and alive to me, that I couldn't bear to toss them into the garden recycling just yet.

Foraged foliage

So I created a little foraged display of evergreen and twigs to bring the outside, in.

Foraged display So much is going on outside, underneath, while we go about our daily business and busy-ness.

It's nice to take a moment to notice, interact, enjoy, find and consider the seasons as so much changes in nature, all the time, through the seasons, with no to-do list or calendar. It just happens, and I find it magical.


Findings from Helsinki by daintydora

I love collecting things and documenting things, but often these 'things' end up getting bundled up for doing something exciting with another time.

And then weeks, months, even years later, I find a load of papers and notes and postcards that I've completely forgotten about. Poor show.

So before I forget about the wonderful memories, memorabilia and inspirations I gathered in Helsinki, I thought the best way to capture them was in a photograph, much like the photo-montage I posted on my return from Portugal and Seville last year. I love postcards.

Things from Helsinki

I particularly love the quote on the card from the Alfredo Jaar exhibition at the Kiasma Museum of Modern Art:

You do not take a photograph. You make it.

And although it is a simple shot of the souvenirs I bought in Helsinki, I'm happy I 'made' this photograph.

The other 'findings' include:

Reindeer horn earrings, a fridge magnet from Tallinn (hello Mum!), the brochure from Kiasma Museum, a book I bought about the current exhibitions (love that op-art-esque cover), a Tove Jansson postcard print, a Moomins handbag mirror, a teddy bear badge from the Toy Museum at the Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, a little wooden reindeer for decoration or for use in the kitchen (oh yes), the Helsinki Design District guide and a selection of other postcards.


Photography is poetry by daintydora

Part of being a magpie urges me to 'capture' things then document and preserve them. And somehow, and increasingly, I am finding that photography is able to satisfy my magpie nature better than anything else.

'Love' padlock, Helsinki I love to photograph the things that others would perhaps not consider worthy of a photograph:

things for sale all laid out in a row; souvenirs or a display in a shop window; birds pecking at rubbish; blossom when it's fallen from the tree; a deserted and desolate coastline; shadows through an archway. Never people, really, unless I have no choice.

And all my photographs mean something to me. They are my style. My image, captured and preserved. Recently I did a darkroom photography course and learnt so much about the alchemy and magic of analogue film processing, amidst the strange red light of the photographers' domain.

Taking a photograph with an analogue camera is even more like capturing something to keep close, forever, as not only is the image recorded, but you have the physical film to process into negatives and then enlarge into full size images. Again and again and again. No limits. Print and repeat. You can experiment and make mistakes and in turn discover new techniques through that very journey of mistakes. Print and repeat.

I particularly loved the sensation of slipping the photographic paper into the bath of 'developer' chemical, then waiting a few seconds, agitating the bath, watching the seconds, counting them, then flipping over the paper with long-handled tongs and seeing the image appear, deepen, blacken.

for me photography is poetry in visual form

It is a burst of emotion, a feeling, a thought, a place, a rhyme, a riddle and a story, all contained in a simple but beautiful package.

I  need to take more photographs.


Notes from Helsinki by daintydora

Boats at Helsinki Harbour I've just returned home from a week-long trip to Helsinki, Finland, bringing back with me a gazillion tangible and intangible inspirations in the form of ideas, thoughts, scribbled notes, half-formed poems, a camera full of photographs, tickets, receipts, postcards, stamps, souvenirs, flyers and ripped pages from magazines that I will squirrel away for my scrapbook.

My lasting impression is of a sleek and cultural city flooded with light and the tinkle of trams trundling by. Wide pristine pavements end with cafes and statues while colourful gardens and parks brim with picnickers. Seagulls circle and dive at the harbour market, art, design and antique shops pepper every street and the sunsets are magical.

Helsinki Sunset, The Magpie Diaries

Seagull Scene, Helsinki Harbour

I loved the parallels with my home country of Scotland; the lakes and forests and stunning landscape scenery. And I loved that creatives have a permanent place to sell their wares (beautifully made handicrafts in wood, ceramics and reindeer horn; paintings, drawings, jewellery and knitted accessories), all right in the heart of the city.

Relandersgrund Pub Boat, Helsinki Harbour

Around 300 little islands make up the archipelago, and various boat trips offered a great way to see some of these and visit the nearby sea fortress, Suomenlinna. There was a tram that was a pub and pints that cost 12 euros and a pigeon that pooped on my pink suede shoes (I could write a song about that).

Flowers at Suomenlinna Sea Fortress, Helsinki

I had a peep into the all-year-round Christmas shop - I couldn't resist - and although it was sweltering out (with the hottest part of the day around 5-6pm rather than noon), I bought an intarsia reindeer scarf and leg warmers, then lingered long in the Marimekko flagship store, swooning over teapots and socks and the big bean bags that they had out on the street, wondering if I could just about afford to buy a teaspoon. Do they sell teaspoons?

Bear Park, Central Helsinki

Fish Fountain, Esplanadi, Helsinki

On my first night in Helsinki I saw two brides on the Esplanadi, then another on the last night near where I was staying. Again, it felt magical somehow to see a bride at night in another country, don't ask me why (Vikki - this made me think of you!)

Wandering back along the Esplanadi from the harbour one day I heard a rendition of Simon & Garfunkel's 'Sound of Silence'. That song always sends tingles down my spine. Another day I saw people blowing bubbles and tried to take a photograph, but I find these things highly transient and fragile and somehow impossible to capture.

And then I started venturing into black and white photography, and I couldn't stop...

Street Scene, Central Helsinki Grainy train, Helsinki Station Monochrome sea, Helsinki

My top ten word/phrase associations with Helsinki are:

  1. Light & dark, black & white.
  2. Design. Shops, products, buildings, spaces.
  3. Boats. The harbour. Big boats, little boats, being on water and being at sea.
  4. Marimekko. Of course.
  5. Sauna. I knew the Fins loved to 'sowNa' but now I am a convert too. Skin. Feels. Amazing. For the first time, in a long time.
  6. Clouds. Thoughts in the clouds. I couldn't get enough of the clouds in Helsinki which were a continual inspiration.
  7. Art. The Tove Jansson exhibition at the Ateneum Art Museum is a must-see for the paintings and self-portraits and Moomin models and the story of her life. Her biography is on my wish-list.
  8. Slow (living). As in taking time to do things; riding in boats, sitting in a park in the sunshine. Our apartment didn't have an electric kettle, and at the start that felt like a pain, but then it became a lovely ritual to boil water for a cup of tea.
  9. Wood. Beautiful, sumptuous wood. The smell of it. The feel of it. Wooden bowls and beakers and spoons and utensils.
  10. Photography. I took my new camera and Helsinki became my photographic playground.



My Experience with Mountains by daintydora

A few different people told me about Blurb recently. So I checked it out. And I found it's an interesting, fun, friendly and a do-able way to create a book. So I designed one.

First I uploaded some of my favourite pictures of mountains from various trips around Scotland - Glencoe, the Cairngorms, Lochearnhead, Loch Fyne...

My Experience with Mountains My Experience with Mountains

And then I wrote down some of the random thoughts I had while taking the photos, and how they made me feel - and what they made me think - when looking back.

My Experience with Mountains My Experience with Mountains My Experience with Mountains

Voila. A print on demand photo-book about mountains (with dust jacket - yeah - fancy),  plus a handy little PDF version. The fact it is LARGE is what makes it so, well, pricey. It was just an experiment...

And that's it; my experience with mountains. Collated. Created. Out there.  Not that my experience is so much. But it's a nice reminder about how in comparison to the giant MIGHT of a mountain, many other things lose their significance. Mountains are a great leveller, in an oxymoronic kinda way.

Maybe I'll share it here if it turns out OK. And I've shared it! (though I haven't actually SEEN it).

I can't wait to SEE my mountains, in print.


The Mysterious Postman's Park by daintydora

While I was in London last month, I felt I had to visit the mysterious Postman's Park I'd read about a while back in a copy of Stylist magazine.

Tranquil and tiny, it is a quiet respite from the traffic and rush of people, tucked away as it is in the streets behind St Paul's Cathedral.

Postmans Park, London

Happening upon the little gated entrance, I entered into a pretty, shaded space, with flower beds bright and lush with colour and greenery.

Postmans Park, London Postmans Park, London

The fountain trickled away with fish plumbing the murky depths of the pond. Beyond that a row of gravestones quietly stand to attention, growing mossy with age.

The memorial plaques brought a tear to my eye reading the circumstances in which people died, most trying to save others. Very sad.

Postmans Park, London

There was a strange beehive contraption further in, behind benches laden with bird poo. I gather there was some kind of competition to design a new type of beehive. Curious and intriguing and adds to the overall charm of Postman's Park.

Postmans Park, London

I expected it to be a bit bigger I suppose, but what I got was peaceful and perfect. I would definitely pop in of a lunchtime if I worked nearby.