Lost in Space: Create a Space Scene in GIMP


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I recently entered a competition put up by GIMP (the free photo-editing software equivalent to Photoshop). I started using and learning GIMP a few years ago, it’s great fun for anyone who wants to be creative with graphics or photography. In this recent competition we had to create a space scene using paints, photos, or a mixture of both. I used some of my aerial photography combined with some biking pics and added stars etc with paint. I’d love to hear your thoughts. Which one do you prefer?

First submission:



(click picture to enlarge)



Second Submission:


The Sunday ride-out went a bit off-course!

The Sunday ride-out went a bit off-course!

(click to enlarge)


9th Anniversary Poem


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The Anniversary Gift

On the fourteenth day of May (tomorrow)
We celebrate our special day
Special both for him and me
It is our anni-ver-sary.

I scoured Google, trying to find
What gift you have for year nine
And there it was upon the list
A present that should not be missed

Pottery is year nine
Isn’t that just so divine!
No, well actually it’s not
I just don’t want another pot.

I don’t want crystal, lace or feathers
Diamonds, jade, or fancy leather,
Don’t want jewels, or wool, or wood
Linen, silk, or tin’s no good

You get some bronze for year eight
But bronze is something I would hate
Six is sugar, very sickly
Down the list I move right quickly

And fur!
NO! I want a silencer!
Carbon-fibre, nice and sporty
Even if I’m over forty (and the rest)

On the bike with visor down
Making noise right through the town
Throaty rumble, mighty roar
Now that’s the gift I’m dying for!


Our tendency to blame

Originally posted on Mindfulbalance :

File:Kopfsalat Setzlinge.JPG

When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change

Thich Nhat Hanh

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Feeling Sluggish?


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They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and this is definitely true. And isn’t it a good thing because otherwise us girls would all fancy the same guy and there would be a big problem. Beauty also comes in a world of different forms; nature, art, the physical body, dance, music, people, and of course inner beauty as well. But what about the humble slug? He is currently the bane of my husband’s life, regularly finding himself on the end of a trowel being catapulted into the woods. All he wanted was a nibble on the young tomato plants!
Yesterday I was called to the garden: ‘You should see the size of this one!’ Wow, says me, he’s a beauty! Let me get my camera! Grimace from hubby as trowel-relocating ejection systems were temporarily put on hold. Minutes later I was back with the camera in macro mode. Macro is just another world. There is so much going on and so much beauty in the minute detail of nature; so much that we never see, which fascinates me. Getting up-close to Mr Slug was a real treat. He’s a leopard slug, a really gorgeous gastropod. The macro shots clearly show his amazing ‘optic tentacles’ with eyes at their tips, his two shorter ‘sensory tentacles’, and his ‘respiratory pore’ (pneumostome) which he breathes through. Here he is, the beautiful Mr Slippery himself!


I’m going to post a few more photos on my photo blog if you’re interested: https://judesphotography.wordpress.com/    (click picture to enlarge)

The Things You Find in a Stream!


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We had a wander beside the stream the other day which flows through fields below our house. I was hoping to see a little fish or a frog maybe, but no such luck, they must have all been hiding. We came to a shallow area where the water ran over silty mud into a little pool. Old willow branches had fallen in, and in the shade I noticed a glimmer; something reflecting the light. Of course I had to get a stick and give it a poke, and we could see that it was a small cylindrical object. It looked about the size and shape of a shotgun cartridge, but when I rolled it out onto the bank it turned out to be a little glass bottle, probably quite old. After we’d taken it home and cleaned it up we were able to read the embossed letters on the side: GRAINS DE VALS.

Grains de Vals 2

My French has never been up to much even though we’ve lived here for ten years, so we Googled it, as you do, and lo and behold found out that it was a medicine bottle, probably going back to the fifties, and GRAINS DE VALS are pills for constipation. They contain senna and are still sold today. Along with the information I also discovered some hilarious little You-tube videos that show you how well these devilish little pills work!

In this one called ‘The Past. The Present and the Future’    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_nKgMVP9qIw   a man goes to a fortune teller. In case you don’t speak French the conversation goes something like this:

Fortune teller: ‘I see sadness, black moods, and melancholy. At the same moment you suffer. Your stomach and your liver work badly. But tomorrow you find health and exuberance!

Man: ‘Oh it is impossible!’

Fortune teller: ‘It’s because you are going to swear to take one tablet every evening before your meal.’

One month after: health and gaiety go together!

Man: ‘The fortune teller was right – Grains de Vals regularizing my functions returned me to health and happiness!’

So there you are, if you’re feeling sluggish go and get some Grains de Vals – but be sure to see your local fortune teller first just to make sure! 




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Primrose E

A piece of news sometimes can be chucked into your life like a grenade, blasting your reality into a million disbelieving fragments. Your whole being resists it, like water droplets, unabsorbed, on a polished surface. This can’t be happening says your mind. This can’t be true. It is just not possible.

In July 2012 my sister was diagnosed with cancer; non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She had never been sick a day in her life. She was a person full of energy and enthusiasm, unbelievably fit for her age, living life to the full. It just couldn’t be possible that this bombshell could be true, and yet at the same time my sinking heart knew that it was.

The evening before she phoned me with the news I had had what I can only call a premonition. I was in the kitchen cooking supper when out of nowhere a realisation suddenly filled me. It entered my mind with a tremendous impact; a vivid inescapable awareness: my sister might die. It brought tears to my eyes. I gave myself a shake and asked myself what on earth was the matter with me. Where had such a thought come from? I tried to shrug it off but the feeling had been far too intense. It wasn’t even a thought, it was a sudden inescapable realisation.

It was the next morning that she phoned me and told me about the lump she had found. Two days later she was in hospital. I’ve thought back many times to my ‘premonition’. It wasn’t unlike the time many years ago when I lived in Canada and she was in England and I had three successive dreams that she was pregnant. I received a letter from her two days after the third dream telling me just this. She was forty at the time and the pregnancy was an accident and completely unplanned. I had no way of knowing or suspecting it. I was completely floored and got shivers up my back when I read her letter and thought about my dreams. There’s no doubt we had a strong connection and I’m sure that when I had the premonition about her dying I was actually picking up on her own fears. I think she already suspected something but, as was her way, didn’t want to worry anyone.

My sister died on January the fifth this year. I still can’t believe she’s gone. I will never comprehend why or how it came to be. I still have so much anger that fate saw fit to end her life so suddenly. It probably helps if one has some sort of faith, but I don’t; I have no time for conventional religion. I remember at the funeral the vicar saying something about ‘And those who believeth in me shall never die’ and I thought well that lets me out then. I did ask her during her illness if she was frightened of dying. She half grinned at me and said, ‘No, I’m smug enough to think I’ve lived a good life and I’m going somewhere good.’ And if anyone should go somewhere good, she should.

The one thing I shall be forever grateful for was the time I managed to steal with her during that last eighteen months. I flew back to England from France many times and spent many weeks with her. I lost all interest in blogging and all my creative stuff during that time. I just had no incentive or spirit to do it any more. Now I seem to have at last found the need to write again. 



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